folklore

Interview with Author Ceri Norman: Faeries, Stones & Hope

November, 2018

Ceri Norman: Faeries, Stones & Hope

 

 

I was really drawn to Ceri Norman’s book on stones and their connection to magical beings, and you can read my review here. Ceri is a prolific writer on a number of fascinating subjects and makes beautiful nature inspired jewellery which she sells on Etsy. Despite being so busy, Ceri was kind enough to give up some of her time to speak to us here at PaganPagesOrg! Here’s what she had to say when I caught up with her this month.

 

Mabh Savage (MS): When did you first start writing and what drew you to it?

Ceri Norman (CN): I honestly cannot recall a time before I was writing, so I guess it started out with little articles, stories and bizarre recipes (for potions and lotions) as a small child and just carried on from there. I have always loved the magic and power of the written word, and the beauty of the many different forms of writing, that allow us communicate our ideas with each other.

MS: What inspires you most as a writer?

CN: Myths, legends and folklore, so I owe a great deal to the old stories and to those who created or recorded them.

MS: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction, and why?

CN: Non-fiction. I am an obsessive writer; once I start writing I feel a strong compulsion to get the ‘section’ or ‘piece’ finished as soon as possible. With a non-fiction this can usually mean the article or chapter and I can take a breather but with a full fiction novel it means the entire book, which takes me months to write, and that can drive me (and those around me) a little nuts.

MS: What made you decide to write Faerie Stones?

CN: I have always loved stones and Faeries and there are many links between the two, yet wherever I looked there was not a coherent book or article that brought the wealth of information in so many different sources together for the readers. Once I realised that I kept feeling a strong sense from the Faeries to fill that gap for readers and to create something that would enable people to bring crystals into their work with Faerie and to bring Faerie into their work with crystals.

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

CN: Anyone who is interested in crystals, Faeries, folklore, myths and legends.

MS: Do you have a favourite stone or one that resonates strongly with you?

CN: Though not technically a stone, I would have to say Amber. I love its cleansing, bright energy, which is an antidote to my sombre, serious personality. It has so much folklore, especially regarding its healing properties, attached to it and has been so beloved by so many cultures all over the planet. For resin to become Amber it has to endure, to endure being buried/submerged, to endure pressure and to endure the passage of time. I find that a valuable and inspiring lesson in life, that Amber can still be so beautiful, positive and magical even after all that it has been forced to endure.

MS: When did you begin working with stones and their energies and associated beings?

CN: Again, I cannot recall a time before I worked with stones. When I was a child my mother had a beautiful piece of Blue John from Derbyshire on display in our home and I would regularly sneak it out of the display case to work with it and learn from it. I began collecting stones and crystals very early on, from semi-precious stones right down to interesting stones from the garden, which all had their own energies and personalities.

MS: What was the most challenging thing about the writing process for this book?

CN: Some of the research proved challenging. Many modern books on crystals say ‘x is good for y’ and that has become accepted fact regurgitated over and over again, yet I wanted to go deeper and to older sources to really look at the older as well as more modern Faerielore and Folklore associated with stones. Sometimes finding those older sources and information proved a real challenge, but it was extremely rewarding.

MS: And what did you enjoy the most?

CN: It was utterly enchanting to work with the Faeries and the stones to create the book for readers. That magic will stay with me for a very long time.

MS: The book covers 26 fascinating stones plus a wide variety of quartz formations. Would you expand upon this at any point and perhaps do a second volume?

CN: If there was sufficient interest from readers, there is plenty of room to do another volume. There are many more stones out there to write about, from the very precious gems such as diamonds and rubies right down to the sandstone and slate that make up Mother Earth’s wonderful landscapes.

MS: What’s your top tip for anyone just starting to appreciate the magic of stones or crystals?

CN: Enjoy it and do what you need to in order to keep the magic alive! Celebrate that wonderful sense of awe, inspiration and enchantment that comes from working with Faeries and stones. Never let anyone else deter you or disenchant you. Remember it is a two-way relationship. Give back to the stones and Faeries to really forge a strong working relationship, so keep your stones happy by looking after them and do those little chores that the Faeries ask you to do for them.

MS: What other writing projects do you have on the horizon? Are you working on any more books?

CN: I am currently focusing more on articles for several publications, including FAE Magazine and am attempting (intermittently) to blog
(https://wysewitchuk.blogspot.com/) and to do the odd little video for YouTube.

MS: How do you relax or take a break from writing and researching?

CN: I love to get out into nature, to take walks along the beach or in the woods to remind myself that I am a part of nature and to reconnect with the energies of Mother Nature and the Faeries. I am also a big fan of films and TV shows that are based in or inspired by folklore, mythology and all things supernatural from around the world.

MS: Finally, as we move into winter, what’s your biggest hope for the year ahead?

CN: My perennial hope is that humankind (especially our political leaders) can finally please realise that all beings – human and otherwise – are equal and special inhabitants of this lovely planet and that as this is the only planet that we have we need to look after it and each other a whole lot better!

 

Well said Ceri, I think we can all agree with that final sentiment! Ceri’s books are available on Amazon and at all good book stores. Follow her channel on YouTube, visit her blog and view her beautiful jewellery on Etsy.

 

Faerie Stones: An Exploration of the Folklore and Faeries Associated with Stones & Crystals on Amazon

 

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Notes from the Apothecary

October, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Mandrake

As we approach Samhain, I like to examine an herb or plant that has particular links to the season. Last year I explored the magic of the pumpkin, an obvious choice for the Halloween season. This year I wanted to dive deeper into folklore and magic, and the mandrake has been my mystical plant of choice.

Immortalised by J. K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series as the shrieking stars of herbology, the image of the human-like root screaming actually goes back to at least the 12th century. A medieval manuscript describes how the plant ‘shines at night like a lamp’ and that iron must be used to circle the plant to prevent it escaping, although the iron should never touch the plant. Other texts note that a dog must be used to pull the root up which, let me tell you, does not end well for the dog. Surrounded by magic, mystery, myth and superstition, this plant has a rich tradition of medicinal use and is a popular tool of modern witches and magical practitioners.

The Kitchen Garden


The true mandrake, mandragora officinarum, should never be eaten. It is hallucinogenic and narcotic, and can cause unconsciousness and even death. Sometimes people use bryonia alba, the false mandrake, as a substitute for mandragora. This plant is also highly poisonous. Another substitute is American Mandrake, which is poisonous in parts. Basically, if you come across anything purporting to be mandrake, don’t eat it!

The plants are beautiful, with springtime flowers of blue and white, and summer fruits sometimes known as devil’s apples. It needs really well drained soil to support those enormous roots, which can grow up to four feet in length. It also needs warm conditions and a good bit of sunshine to thrive, and a good quality compost for nutrients. Grown the plant well away from anywhere children and pets have access to. They can be grown from seed, or by separating the tubers.

The Apothecary

Six cures are described in the mediaeval Harley manuscript. One was for headaches and insomnia, whereby a salve of mandrake leaf juice was plastered to the head. Another was for earaches, and the juice was mixed with oil and poured directly into the ear. Another was a remedy for severe gout, but as it was administered in wine, I’m unsure how effective this would have been! Mandrake was also recommended for epilepsy, cramps and even colds.

Dioscorides, in his materia medica, also advised the plant was used to help insomniacs, but also that it seemed to have sedative and even anaesthetic properties. He did point out that ingesting too much was deadly!

Mrs Grieve states that the leaves are harmless and cooling and used to soothe ulcers, while the root and its bark is a strong emetic.

The Witch’s Kitchen

There is a belief that the mandrake only grew under the place where someone had been hanged. This gives it a dark association with death, possibly criminal activity, but also the oddly positive aspects of corporal punishment: law, order and justice. Called ‘little gallows man’ in Germany, the mandrake can be a symbol of ridding yourself of something you no longer need; of doling out ‘punishment’ to the things in your life you wish to drive away from you.

Dioscorides believed the root could be used in love potions.

The human like shape of the root speaks of transformation and hidden things. The mandrake reminds us not to judge a book by its cover, and that things are not always how they seem. We should always look twice, or as Terry Pratchett wrote, we should open our eyes, then open our eyes again.

In folklore, the cry of the mandrake caused either madness or death. Mrs Grieve writes that small doses of the root were used by ‘the Ancients in maniacal cases’, again connecting the root to madness and states of disconnection between the body and mind. Historically it was used to cure demonic possession, indicating it could be used to heal a disconnected body and mind, so there appears to be a contrary nature to this plant.

Mandrake can be used in any magical working to increase the potency of the spell, and in particular to increase psychic powers and prophetic magics.

Home and Hearth

Place a dried mandrake root on your mantelpiece to bring prosperity and joy into your home. Place a piece of mandrake on top of money, so a spare change pot or money box, and more money will enter your life. Hang one above the door to prevent demons or people with negative intentions from entering. Always keep out of the reach of children or pets!

I Never Knew…

As recently as the nineteenth century, mandrake roots were still being sold in Europe as charms to increase the libido.

*Images: Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) from Tacuinum Sanitatis manuscript (ca. 1390), public domain; mandragora autumnalis, copyright tato grasso 2006 via Wikimedia Commons; folio 90 from the Naples Dioscurides, a 7th century manuscript of Dioscurides De Materia Medica, public domain.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Book Review – Ceri Norman: Faerie Stones, An Explanation of the Folklore and Faeries Associated with Stones and Crystals

October, 2018

Book Review

Ceri Norman: Faerie Stones, An Explanation of the Folklore and Faeries Associated with Stones and Crystals

Ceri is a prolific writer, with several books under her belt and numerous magazine articles. This book, Faerie Stones, was mentioned by a friend and I was intrigued by the title and the concept. Faerie Stones takes a wide variety of stones and crystals and gives a great deal of information about each one, including but not limited to the deities and beings or spirits associated with them.

It’s worth noting that in this book the term faerie is used to cover a wide variety of beings including deities and spirits. I understand why Ceri has done this, as it makes it simpler to use one term to cover all the otherworldly beings. Normally I would be quite particular about the use of the term fairy or faerie due to my Celtic heritage, in which the fairies are less than friendly much of the time! However, in this volume Ceri makes it clear who and what she is talking about each time she mentions a specific deity or spirit, so it remains very clear what type of being is being discussed.

I love how each stone is brought to life and given a very organic feel. It’s as if each stone is a living part of the world, which greatly appeals to my druidic leanings. I also loved all the references to different types of ‘little people’, a fascination for me for many years.

Ceri covers stones from the tiniest crystal to huge standing circles, and her introduction and the first part of the book really show her enthusiasm and passion for her subject. Just reading her descriptions of standing stones and other places of power made me want to go out into the world and find these places for myself. You can’t help but be pulled along by the energy within the book, joyful and full of experience and knowledge.

The encyclopaedia section covers 26 stones and their correspondences and uses, and particularly the beings that are drawn to them. There’s a separate section on the different formations of quartz which I found particularly enlightening as it had not occurred to me that the different formations of quartz could have different effects on the world. Ceri also touches on the chakras and stones associated with them, auras, meditating with stones and crystals and a chakra balancing meditation with Morgan Le Fay. I appreciated very much that Ceri notes that beings such as Morgan have both light and dark sides.

This is one of those great books that can be read from cover to cover for sheer joy, and also kept as a point of reference. It will certainly be near the top of my kindle library for the foreseeable future.

Faerie Stones: An Exploration of the Folklore and Faeries Associated with Stones & Crystals

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

January, 2018

La Befana

 

(LA BEFANA. Magic stocking from BEFANA. By incantevolemerletto shop.)

 

Merry meet.

While my mother’s parents were from Sicily, it was not until recently I learned of La Befana, Italy’s oldest and most celebrated legend – about a witch.

In Italian folklore, she is an old woman with warts on her crooked nose, wearing a skirt and a black shawl, who flies around on her broom, delivering candy to well-behaved children. In Russia she is known as Baboushka.

Children await Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve, but the red-suited man is new compared to the story of the old woman who was too busy cleaning to join the Wise Men on their journey. According to the legend, they stopped by her cottage to ask directions and invited her to come along, but she refused. She also refused to join a shepherd who asked her to join him, as some tell the story.

Later that night she saw a great light in the sky. Regretting her decision, she sets out to give the Christ Child gifts that had, according to some, belonged to her child who had died. She never finds the Baby Jesus and instead, leaves her gifts for children she encountered along the way. Since the 13th century, children have left their shoes out or hung up their socks Epiphany Eve, January 5, for the Befana to fill with sweets and gifts. Bad children were given lumps of coal.

Often she is shown covered in soot because, like Santa Claus, she delivers presents by sliding down the chimney. Her name means “gift-bringer” and according to a post by DreamDiscoverItalia.com in 2015, many believe she also sweeps the floor before she leaves, sweeping away the old to make way for the new.

La Befana is a Christian legend that began in Northern Italy and became a big part of the Italian celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, which commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the Wise Men arrive in Bethlehem and deliver their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Other versions of the legend have La Befana carrying a sack of bread, giving a piece to every child she saw in the hopes one would be the Christ Child. She never does find him and is still wandering around Italy on her broomstick.

Her arrival is celebrated with such traditional Italian foods such as panettone, fried doughnuts with dried fruit, and fritters with raisins. When children leave a snack for the witch, it’s something soft because she has few teeth.

While La Bafana is viewed most commonly as a village crone, she has also been called a sprite or fairy. Instead of a broomstick, sometimes she is said to ride a goat or a donkey. Rarely does she wear a pointed hat; a headscarf is more traditional.

According to an article written by Martha Bakerhian for tripsavy.com, “This folktale may actually date back to the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, a one- or two-week festival starting just before the winter solstice. At the end of Saturnalia, Romans would go to the Temple of Juno on the Capitoline Hill to have their fortunes read by an old crone. This story evolved into the tale of La Befana.”

Heather Greene explains in an article for “The Wild Hunt” in January 2016, “As with many regional traditions, La Befana’s modern construction and appearance were developed over an expansive amount of time and stem from a diverse number of cultural elements. Her story has been adapted over and over to fit into a variety of different social or religious structures.

 

(La Befana the Witch Sculpture by Dellamorteco, Dellamorte & Co. Etsy Shop)

 

Similar to modern community traditions in the northern Italian towns, Circolo dei Trivi burns an effigy, a representation of Giobiana, within their ritual space. They collect the ashes and tell the story of nature’s death and rebirth, through the death of Giobiana and the birth of Belisama. In that process, they also thank nature, represented as La Befana, for bringing the final gifts from the previous year. Grazie, La Befana.”

Urbania, thought to be her official home, draws tens of thousands of people for a five-day festival that includes the arrival of La Befana to her cottage, which the townspeople built in her honor. There is music, dancing, parades, fireworks and letters from children asking for gifts. In Venice, men dressed as La Befana race boats on the Grand Canal, per DreamDiscoverItalia. In Rome and elsewhere, women dress like La Befana.

 

A Spell of Prosperity to Accomplish your Goals 

(Submitted by Gayle Nogas)

What you’ll need:

A red candle placed on a table or altar

Three figs or three dates 

A small cup of honey

A broom 

With this simple spell you can ask The Befana not only to bring your home prosperity, but also to send you powerful energy regarding your success and the goals you will work with next year.

In the evening, put the three figs or dates in the small cup of honey (this is a traditional offering for The Befana) and put them on the table or the altar next to the red candle. These offerings will show that you honor her powers.

Light the red candle. Pull up a chair and sit in it calmly for two minutes watching the candle and bringing your mind to the tranquility of the energy that is surrounding you. The red candle is a symbol of your own power to accomplish your goals and also calls the power of The Befana. Now repeat the following out loud or in your head three times:

“Come Befana, come to me.

Come from the mountains to make me free.

Come with your gifts of wisdom and power,

To make this a prosperous year for me.”

Once you have repeated this spell three times, take the broom and start sweeping the room in the direction of the clock’s hands, always sweeping towards the central part to concentrate there the powers and the charitable energy of The Befana in one place.

Leave the broom and dust all night long. Finally blow the candle and thank The Befana for her help by saying:

“Thank you, Befana, for giving me the gifts of your wisdom and prosperity.”

The next day, pick up the broom, clean up the dust and debris, and focus on a hugely prosperous year.

 

This year, in honor of my ancestors, I plan to recognize the Witch of Christmas for making winter a witchy season. Perhaps I’ll dress like her, or leave my shoes and a soft cookie outside my door. If you celebrate her, please leave me a comment describing how on the Pagan Pages Emag Facebook page.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

**

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Red Pixie’s Elements of a Magickal Life

October, 2011

Samhain Traditions & Folklore.

Its almost here, the best holiday of them all, in my opinion at least, I love Samhain (pron Sow in – for those unsure) I remember even as a small child Samhain was a celebration for me of people who has passed over, I am still unsure to this day where I gained that knowledge from considering my own parents are far from Pagan and really never spoken about religion or the history of the holiday, to me at least.

I have, to this day, certain traditions that I will always carry out and pass down to my own children, should they wish to follow them of course.  I think for me ‘Halloween’ is much more commercialised than I’d like it to be, more about ‘the kids’ or ‘candy’ or in some cases ‘money’ can you belive it!  But I am not going to focus upon the negative aspects that I can pin point instead I’m going to focus on the joy and happiness that fills Samhain.

One of the traditions I have been doing over the past couple of years, is an age old folk tale of ‘feeding the dead’ I take an apple, no particular type just an apple, I take mine from the apple tree in my garden but you can use one from your fruit bowl, and under the moon, bury the apple in the ground, it is said to nurish the souls of the dead that roam the earth at this time.  Another popular folklore tale is that if you bury thirteen leaves from a harvested apple tree on Halloween you would be guareteed a bumper crop the following year.  How fantastic is that. Another one I follow is to eat a full apple on halloween night before you go to bed as it is said that you will not suffer any illness within the next twelve months, and eating a slice from three apples on halloween night also ensures a year filled with good luck.  These are all folk tales but seriously why would you not try them out, thinking back to last year I did all of these and the results are very good indeed.

Another tradition we have is pumpkin carving, it’s great to do as a family and the pumkin can be then used for soup or pie so there’s no waste and if you dry the seeds out you can plant them next year and grow your own pumpkins.  Even better, free pumpkins for next year and just think of all that lovely soup you can make and freeze for throughout the year (pumpkin soup has been my favourite since I made my first batch about four years ago).

I heard about some ‘Moon Omens’ that I want to share with you  – If the Moon is New on Halloween  it indicates that the coming year will be firtile ground for new beginnings to take place such as a new project, career or a new way of thinking.  If the moon is Waxing on Halloween it means good luck throughout the coming year it also indicates growth and an increase of all things that are of a positive nature.  A Full Moon on Halloween could mean a wish made at midnight will be realised within the coming year, it also insures that the powers of all forms of magic and divination practised will be at their greatest.  A Halloween Waning Moon this can be an indication of an omen of good or bad consequences.  If the moon is in its ‘Dark Phase’ on Halloween its believed to be a very negative omen, advise for extreme caustion in all your endevors over the coming twelve months and it wouldn’t hurt to protect yourself by carrying a talisman designed to ward off bad luck and misfortune.

I love the folklore that surrounds Samhain, I can just imagine sat around the fire in a field surrounded by good friends  toasting marshmellows and telling folktales, what a perfect Samhain that would be.

Do you guys have any traditions that you follow?  Maybe trick or treating with you children or something else, I ould love to hear from you and what your traditions are.   Whatever you do celebrate this festival with love in your hearts and smiles on your faces but above all be safe and look after eachother.

Brightest Blessings

Vampire Folklore

August, 2009

Most people are very much acquainted with Bram Stoker’s Dracula but are unaware of other important literary vampires that preceded him.  These literary vampires include Lord Ruthven, Varney, and Carmilla.  In this series, these vampires and their respective authors will be introduced and show how these lesser known characters greatly impacted both Bram Stoker and other authors such as Anne Rice.

Dr. John Polidori was originally hired as a medical advisor to the infamous Lord Byron.  Polidori was to be his travelling companion as well.  However, his greater mission was to chronicle Byron’s journeys because he was commissioned to do so from Byron’s publisher.  One would figure such an arrangement would be perfect, but the two quarreled from the very beginning (Masters 199).  It was during one of these argumentative travels that Polidori gathered inspiration for his upcoming work.  Byron and Polidori happened to be in the company of Claire Clairmont, Mary Godwin, and Percy Shelley, and they all decided to fabricate ghost stories one evening.  Polidori’s attempt failed of course, while Mary Godwin achieved success with her story becoming the legendary Frankenstein.  During this story-telling session, Polidori managed to take notes as instructed by Byron’s publisher (Melton 480).  It was from these notes that the first vampire story came to be published in English (Guiley 229).

Polidori examined his notes from the evening of storytelling and using pieces from the story that Lord Byron told about a Greek and his travelling companion, created ”The Vampyre”.  In addition to using Byron’s initial ideas, Polidori decide to mock him as well with his choice of name for the main character.  The vampire’s name was Lord Ruthven which was the name chosen by Byron’s former lover to ridicule Byron in a novel titled, Glenarvon.  The character himself could be described as cold and aristocratic individual whose deadly hue attracted the ladies much like Lord Byron (Gregory 26).  The story remained unpublished for quite some time until 1819 when Polidori sold it, and it appeared in the New Monthly Magazine.  Unfortunately, Polidori initially did not receive credit for the work.  The magazine implied that Byron was the author, and it was due to this mistake that the novella achieved instant success.  Although Polidori eventually laid claim to the work, the recognition did not do him much good.  His troubled life and gambling losses caused him to commit suicide in 1821 (Guiley 230).  He would never realize how much of an impact his work would be to the aristocratic and sexy vampire cult that continued throughout the rest of the nineteenth century and beyond (Mascetti 189).

To better grasp how “The Vampyre” impacted future vampiric writings and how it mirrored the relationship between Polidori and Byron, one must better understand the character Lord Ruthven.    Lord Ruthven is an English vampire living in London.  He frequents the many various parties held by the upper crust of society.    He spends his summers in Greece so he may be alone.  In regards to his personality, he is cool by nature (Mascetti 154).  He is charismatic but can be sadistic when it comes to not caring about the misfortunes of others.  He is a gambler and a seducer of women.  He is a master manipulator in how he uses his money to taint those who simply want assistance.  One could reasonably argue that Lord Ruthven is the epitome of a psychic vampire by the way he causes others to lose their vitality, health, and most importantly, their respectability (Guiley 185).  In the story, all of these traits are displayed in how he treats his traveling companion, Aubrey.  Throughout the tale, Lord Ruthven constantly destroys Aubrey’s life by killing his loved ones, which include a lady friend and his sister.  He manipulates Aubrey into taking an oath for a year and a day.  The oath does not allow Aubrey to discuss the matter of the Lord’s death after the pair was attacked by bandits.  When the Lord reappears and seeks Aubrey’s sister’s hand in marriage, Aubrey can do nothing to stop it or his sister’s death that quickly follows.  In the end, Aubrey suffers a nervous breakdown while Lord Ruthven continues his life of leisure and deceit (Melton 528).

Next month…meet Varney

***To those in the vampire community:  I am looking for individuals who are interested in a case study/survey to be conducted by yours truly.  If you are interested in participating in this activity, please email me at Lady_TNP@homtail.com.  The results will be published as an article in Paganpages!***

Works Cited


Gregory, Constantine.  The Vampire Watcher’s Handbook:  A Guide For Slayers.  New York:  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Mascetti, Manuela.  Vampire:  The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead.  New York:  Penguin , 1992.

Masters, Anthony.  The Natural History of the Vampire.  London:  Rupert Hart-Davis    Ltd, 1972.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Vampire Folklore

May, 2009

With mainstream media placing the vampire subculture in the spotlight, society has begun to wonder who or what causes an individual to choose such a lifestyle.  Society also ponders and searches for reasonable yet scientific explanations that would cause an individual to exhibit vampiric-like traits.  One of these scientific explanations comes from the medical field, and that explanation is called porphyria.

The word porphyria comes from the Greek word porphyros, meaning reddish-purple (Melton 486).  A reference to reddish-purple or purple color is made because people who suffer from the rare disease typically have darker urine.  This urine may appear even darker after exposure to light.  The purple color is caused by an excess of porphyrins, a substance found in bone marrow (Guiley 231).  These porphyrins normally do not accumulate in strong concentrations (APF “About Porphyria”).  The disease was first recognized in the case of King George III, and the disease manifested itself in the sovereign with symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, constipation, dark urine, headaches, and convulsions (Ramsland 71).  Using King’s ailments as a general guideline, porphyria can be described as a condition with any of the following:

* Severe sensitivity to light
* Reddish brown or purple urine and teeth
* Severe anemia
* Jaundiced skin
* Skin lesions
* Progressive deformation of cartilage and bone especially around the face and fingers
* Nervous disorders including hysteria and bipolar disorder (Guiley 231)

However, the American Porphyria Foundation has recognized eight forms of porphyria, and each form displays different combinations of the conditions listed above

(APF “About  Porphyria”).  The most common of the eight are acute intermittent, and cutanea tarda.

Acute intermittent and cutanea tarda porphyria appear to be the most common of the eight types of porphyria.  Acute intermittent porphyria masks itself by appearing as other common ailments.  This type is commonly hereditary and causes an enzyme deficiency.  The deficiency alone does not trigger the condition.  It has been shown that hormones, drugs, and dietary changes amplify the problem.  The symptoms of acute intermittent porphyria are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, back pain, muscle weakness, urinary retention, palpitation, and seizures (APF “About: Types of Porphyria, AIP”).  The other most common porphyria, cutanea tarda, focuses more on the vampire idea.  The most significant problem in individuals who suffer from cutanea tarda is sun inflected skin blisters.  They have increased hair growth as well as darkening and thickening of the skin (APF “About:  Types of Porphyria, PCT”).  One could see clearly, then, how one with this type of porphyria could be labeled as a vampire by those who are not educated in true vampire folklore.

While those who are educated in vampire folklore would be quick to argue against porphyria being linked to vampirism, one argument could still hold.  In 1985, David Dolphin speculated in a writing offered to the American Association for Science that porphyria may explain some reports of vampirism.  In the paper, Dolphin analyzed a treatment for porphyria that included the injection of heme.  Additionally, he hypothesized a concept in which those who suffered from the disease drank blood from others as a means to fight it off.  One could argue that Dolphin came to this conclusion due to the iron deficiency found in some porphyria sufferers.  While some have dismissed this paper altogether, it has gained both attention and negativity from the medical and vampiric communities (Melton 486).

Porphyria is a rare disease that has a variety of symptoms that could be mistaken for vampirism to those who are not readily acquainted with vampire folklore.  Some of those symptoms include an aversion to sunlight and excessive hair growth.  Furthermore, although it is highly debatable, those diagnosed with porphyria may try to use blood to combat their plight.  Therefore, one could see where it is possible to debate how one could consider porphyria the true vampire disease.

Works Cited

American Porphyria Foundation.  2009.  American Porphyria Foundation.  26 Apr. 2009 < http://www.porphyriafoundation.com/about-the-apf>.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Ramsland, Katherine.  The Science of Vampires.  New York:  Berkley Boulevard , 2002.

Vampire Folklore

March, 2009

Arise From the Past!:  I Found A Vampire, Now What?

When one stumbled upon what was thought to be a vampire or living corpse, the first idea that must have run through his or her mind was quite simple.  What was one to do with such a find?  Although many people cannot agree on the correct way to dispose of a vampire, they can all agree that any technique used has to work indefinitely.  Such methods include a stake through the heart, decapitation, burning, the usage of holy items, garlic, and exposure to sunlight.

One of the most common methods for disposing of a vampire is a stake through the heart.  The idea originated in Europe before the use of coffins became widespread.  Any deceased person who was likely to come back from the grave for any reason was staked to keep that individual attached to the ground.  When the practice was first used, the stake was placed anywhere.  It could be driven into the stomach or the back if the corpse was facing downward.  When coffins were introduced, the stake was plunged specifically into the heart as a direct assault on the corpse itself (Melton 580).  The method became even more refined when Slavic stories implemented the strategy of making sure the task was done with a single blow, and any repetition of such a blow could kill the destroyer or awaken the vampire.  Such a precise set of directions came from Slavic stories that always stressed the idea of a hero who must strike a monster once and once only (Masters 107).  Furthermore, Slavic lore specified the use of aspen as the best wood to use for a stake.  Other woods such as ashwood, hawthorne, and maple could be used as well (Guiley 80).  Thus, the stake through the heart as a way of disposal could be very involved.

While a stake through the heart might suffice for some, other would-be vampire hunters would argue that more must be done to properly dispose of a vampire.  The next method of preventing a vampire’s return to the living is decapitation or mutilation.  This practice became commonplace in Germany and Eastern Europe.  When a vampire was indentified, the head was cut off to make sure the body did not receive any direction from the missing fixture.  The head could be placed between the knees or under the arm.  Some people would take the head and bury it elsewhere for greater certainty (Melton 163).  In Slavic lore, it is best to decapitate a vampire with a shovel belonging to a gravedigger or sexton.  A gravedigger’s shovel was supposed to have a supernatural power due to its association with the dead while a sexton’s shovel carried with it the powers of the Christian God.  However, regardless of the tool or placement of the head, one needed to take care to make sure none of the blood sprayed upon the executioner and helpers.  If the blood happened to hit anybody, the people affected would either go mad or die instantly (Guiley 80).

Although a stake through the heart and decapitation could stop or at least hinder a vampire, those affected by supposed vampire epidemics went a step further.  This step involved the burning of the corpse.  The practice of burning the dead started sporadically throughout the world as early as the Stone Age.  It became frowned upon when the resurrection of Jesus Christ was recognized by the Church.  Pagans challenged the resurrection and Christian faith by digging up saints and martyrs and burning them (Gregory 98).  To add to the difficulty of seeking a cremation, bonfires were the chief means of burning, and bodies did not burn well because of their high water content.  As a result, the body may have been further mutilated and cut into parts to make it easier to burn.   Stories differ as to how much of the body should be burned.  Some argue that certain parts, such as the head, need to be burned (Guiley 80).  Other cultures strongly suggest that every last scrap of bone and flesh must be destroyed.  Otherwise, the vampire could rise again (Masters 100).

Besides physically destroying or mutilating a vampire corpse, other remedies exist to assist with the process.

To be continued in April…

Works Cited

Gregory, Constantine.  The Vampire Watcher’s Handbook:  A Guide For Slayers.  New York:  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Masters, Anthony.  The Natural History of the Vampire.  London:  Rupert Hart-Davis    Ltd, 1972.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press, 1994.