September 21, 2016 Source There aren’t many wolves left in the Norwegian wilderness Just 68, in fact. But Norway’s government has decided even that’s too many. Authorities announced plans this month to kill 47 wolves, or about two-thirds of the remaining population. FLICKR/BJARNE LOHMANN MADSEN The move has sparked both intense criticism and praise. Farmers […]
I’m so happy to announce that Wolf Land Book Three: Divided is now available on Amazon. Here are the links for the US, UK, CA and Australian stores. I really hope you guys enjoy reading it, and as soon as I’ve gotten caught up on some sleep, work on Wrath – the fourth book in the series – is set to begin🙂
Here’s the blurb:
The wolves have been divided, but will they fall?
In the castle’s dungeons, werewolves are being tortured and killed, but is this just another game of Lord Tolbert’s, or does he need the wolves for a darker purpose?
Sorcha Moore has been betrayed, kidnapped, and separated from everyone she cares for. But who has driven them apart, and why?
Sorcha needs to learn all she can about her enemies – and about herself – if she is ever going to defeat the Lord. But when she is finally told the truth of the Lords and the werewolves, it may not be the truth she wants to hear.
Will Sorcha return to Wolf Wood in time to save Rory and the wolf pack, or will she do as everyone seems to think she ought … and run?
Wolves and werewolves seem ingrained in the Irish psyche; this can be seen by the fact that we have so many words for them. For wolves we have mac tire and faolchú, and even older words such as bréach. As for werewolves, there’s conroict, faoladh and ferchú. Some Irish names even show our reverence for wolf-like tendencies – O’Faolain means descendant of the wolf-like warrior, and variants of the name can be seen in the anglicized forms of Phelan and Whelan today.
My own werewolves aren’t based entirely on Irish myths (the full moon didn’t feature heavily in the stories of old, for example). But for those who are interested in learning more about the werewolves from this island (and other ‘Celtic’ countries), I’ve put together a short list of sites worth visiting, in an effort to do as this blog title suggests: share the lore.
In the list below you’ll find many versions of each story to feast upon. Did going oc faelad (a-wolfing) mean to leave your body (much like the Wargs in A Song of Ice and Fire) and inhabit a wolf for as long as you wished? Or did those going a-wolfing channel the spirit of the wolf in the metaphorical rather than the supernatural sense? Either way, there was often cattle-raiding involved.
Were the wolves of Ossory cursed by St Patrick, St Náile, or neither? Perhaps lycanthropy wasn’t considered a curse until the arrival of Christianity.
Were there really roving bands of wolf-men, fighting battles and feasting on the slain? Or were the Irish werewolves protectors and guides, as some stories suggest?
I’ve listed seven links – one for each year the wolves of Ossory were said to remain in werewolf form🙂 This is just a small example of what you can find online. Some articles will be informative, and some might just be fun. Some may even contradict each other!!! But that’s the great thing about mythology: just like language, it’s an ever-changing thing, new layers being added with each generation, new variations being invented in each and every tale.
There’s a world wide web filled with werewolf lore out there, so click, discover, and enjoy🙂
https://earthandstarryheaven.com/2015/05/13/irish-werewolves/ – In this blog by author Sheena McGrath, she does a great job of summing up Irish werewolf lore, but also links to many other blogs on the subject. I’ve listed this blog because Sheena’s lovely links provide a good starting point for anyone interested in delving further.
http://www.davidjonfuller.com/2012/10/17/interview-dr-phillip-bernhardt-house-on-celtic-werewolves/ – David Jon Fuller interviews Dr Phillip Bernhardt-House, author of Werewolves, Magical Hounds, and Dog-Headed Men in Celtic Literature.
http://dunsgathan.net/feannog/wolfshape.pdf – a great article by Saigh Kym Lambert about taking on the Wolf Shape.
http://livinglibraryblog.com/?p=656 – a blog by Shanon Sinn about the Celtic Werewolf.
http://www.luminarium.org/mythology/ireland/werewolves.htm – an excerpt from the “Topographia Hibernica” about the wolves of Ossory.
http://www.werewolves.com/legendary-irish-wolf-warriors/ – a great site for werewolf lovers, this particular article discusses whether the wolf-warriors really existed.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolves_in_Ireland – where would we be without wikipedia? This article gives a short overview of wolves in Ireland, and some of this country’s mythology surrounding our furry friends.
I thought about making my first post of 2016 a Happy New Year sort of affair – y’know, where I tell you about my resolutions and lay out my goals for the coming months. But the truth is, I have little in the way of writing goals other than to keep writing and keep publishing. So far, so obvious. So instead, I’m going to write about witches and broomsticks because … well, because I want to.
Witches feature just as heavily as werewolves in the Wolf Land books and, yes, my witches fly. Sometimes with the use of potions, sometimes on a broomstick and sometimes by other means …
Whilst I’ve created my own fictional world in Wolf Land, and my witches do whatever my imagination wants them to, I thought it might be fun to take a look at just where the stories of witches riding broomsticks and flying high in the sky began.
Any Wiccans among you might have heard of the besom broom. The phallic nature of the broom’s shaft – commonly made of ash – is said to be masculine, while the bristles – made of birch – are said to be feminine. The combination, apparently, balances the feminine and the masculine. And whilst there are many Wiccan rituals that involve the besom, there were witches long before there was Wicca, and they were using other means to fly …
In Wolf Land Book One, when told of her mother’s skills at making flying potions, Sorcha says: “Perhaps she created such a heady hallucinogen that she thought she could fly.”
Sorcha may have been right. The ointments that witches were said to have used to enable them to fly were highly hallucinogenic mixtures. In The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia by Paul Devereux (Daily Grail Publishing, 2008), the author tells us of the 20th century experiments of folklorist Will Erich Peuckert. Peuckert used a mixture of belladonna, henbane and Datura and said:
“We had wild dreams. Faces danced before my eyes which were at first terrible. Then I suddenly had the sensation of flying for miles through the air. The flight was repeatedly interrupted by great falls. Finally, in the last phase, an image of an orgiastic feast with grotesque sensual excess.”
I would not advise anyone to try that particular experiment.
There are other ‘recipes’ for flying ointments. They include ingredients like ergot, hemlock, wolfsbane, henbane and belladonna, usually in a base of animal fat (or, I’m sorry to say, the fat of a young child). Of course, these ingredients would be highly toxic if ingested, but it seems that instead of swallowing, the witches rubbed the ointment on the skin. They may have also employed the use of opium, a substance which is said to be antagonistic to belladonna, in order to avoid/cure being poisoned. I cannot state it enough times – do not try this at home, or outside your home, or in a field at midnight while the moon is full and the other naked ladies are telling you it’s the only way to join their gang …
Lady Alice Kyteler is infamous in Irish history for being the first witch condemned to death. She even features in the William Butler Yeats’ poem Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen. She was said to have used sorcery to kill her husband but she escaped (of course she did, she was a witch!) and in 1324 her maid, Petronilla de Meath, was flogged and burned at the stake instead.
Here is some of the damning evidence that was used to prove Kyteler’s guilt (recounted by the English historian Raphael Holinshed): “In rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a pipe of ointment wherewith she greased her staffe, upon which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin.”
And in the Quaestio de Strigis (An Investigation of Witches, about 1470), Giordano da Bergamo says of witches that on “certain days or nights they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places.”
The idea of witches riding staffs began to take hold. In those lovely old days of witch hunts, pictures and stories of pagan ladies were everywhere. And no matter what those horny old witch hunters might’ve said, those pictures were not for educational purposes. Famous artists depicted them naked and riding brooms or distaffs (or other household items). Parmigianino went one step further and depicted a witch riding a phallus. At least he was keeping it real!
We can all come to our own conclusions about whether women/witches really did use ointments and other implements for rituals, pleasure or freedom. In a society where women/witches are sexualized and feared at the same time … who knows what is and isn’t true. As women were forced further into domestic servitude, brooms had become the most common vehicle for flight (at least in the pictures). Witches were riding these brooms (a symbol of household drudgery?) and using them to fly up and out the chimney.
And that’s the image most of us have ingrained these days – the fully clothed witch, riding a broom with a cat on board. I don’t know about the cat (mine won’t go near a car so I seriously doubt he’ll ever join me on my broom) but I definitely prefer the idea of flying with my clothes on. It gets chilly up there🙂
I wish you all a magical new year.
P.S.: Wolf Land Book Three will release in the spring …
Werewolves are supposed to be frightening, aren’t they? Creatures of nightmare? Yet I struggle to think of a time when they frightened me, rather than fascinated me. I don’t think I’m alone in this. In modern media, the werewolf is often the hero of TV shows, movies, books, comics …
It’s easy to be fascinated rather than frightened when you know that something is just fiction. It’s easy for teenage girls (or thirty-year-old women) to imagine falling in love with a werewolf or a vampire when they’re depicted as tortured souls, out to make amends/get revenge/insert suitable back story here …
I write the Wolf Land series – beautiful witch falls in love with handsome werewolf. Okay, there’s more to the stories than that but … in my books the werewolves are (for the most part) the good guys. They fight on behalf of the dispossessed, they fight to stop the forests being destroyed, they fight to help protect the real wolves from destruction.
And I’m not the only one who writes and reads this sort of fiction. So I have to wonder: were people ever really frightened of these creatures? Or did they always see them as the fictional creation that they (probably) are?
While writing the Wolf Land series I read a lot about the werewolf trials of the past. I refer to two of them in Wolf Land Book Two, and I’d like to delve into both a little more deeply in this blog.
The Werewolf of Dole
The first trial I refer to in the book is one which one of my characters, Maria, attended in her past. Maria speaks of a trial she witnessed where: ‘The man being tried had, undoubtedly, done terrible things. He had killed young children. Consumed their limbs and … oh, you do not need to know the gore. The man claimed that he had done these things only because he had been cursed. He claimed to be a werewolf.’
Although I add some fictional elements, I was inspired by a very real trial when I wrote this section. The trial I was thinking of was that of Gilles Garnier, a trial that took place in France in the 1570s. Gilles was also known as the Werewolf of Dole, and the Hermit of St Bonnot. Gilles lived much of his life as a hermit and, when he eventually took a wife, he found that feeding two mouths was more difficult than feeding just one. So he took the rather extreme action of turning to cannibalism. He killed and consumed children, carrying out the killing alone. He would, however, take the leftovers home for his wife.
Gilles claimed that he carried out these acts in the form of a wolf. One night while out hunting for food, he said, a spectre appeared to him and gave him a magic ointment that would allow him to transform, and so make hunting easier. He was found guilty of crimes of lycanthropy and witchcraft, and was burned at the stake in 1573.
The Werewolf of Bedburg
Later on in Wolf Land Book Two the rector tells the local children the lovely tale of Peter Stumpp. Some of you may have heard of Peter, though perhaps not under that name. The Werewolf of Bedburg was known by many names, often spelled differently: Peter Stube, Pe(e)ter Stubbe, Peter Stübbe or Peter Stumpf … Abal Griswold, Abil Griswold, Ubel Griswold …
If you google the subject, you’ll find many stories about this man and his crimes. He confessed that the devil had given him a belt which allowed him to transform into a wolf. The crimes he is said to have committed in this form, under insatiable blood lust, began with killing sheep and newborn lambs; he soon progressed to murdering and consuming human victims. His victims number 14-18, depending on the source. They include the unborn fetuses of two pregnant women. He is even said to have eaten the brain of his own son.
These crimes, if true, are incredibly unsettling. The details of Peter’s execution, however, are more unsettling still. He was put on a wheel on October 31st 1589, his body splayed out and stretched painfully. The flesh was torn from his body by hot pincers, and his limbs were broken by the blunt side of an axe to prevent his body from returning from the grave. He was beheaded, then, before being burned on a pyre. His head was placed on a pole as a warning to others who might be tempted towards sorcery or shapeshifting (y’know, in case Satan ever offers them a magical belt). It’s said that his daughter and his mistress (the Gossip of the pamphlet I link to below) were considered accessories to his crimes. They were said to be raped, flayed and strangled (because, of course, it’s not a sin if it’s a sinner you’re doing it to) and their bodies burned alongside his.
The main source of information on this subject is a pamphlet named the Damnable Life and Death of Stubbe Peeter (you can read it here – please let me know about any dead links). Two copies of this pamphlet exist, one in the British Museum and one in the Lambeth Library. It was produced in 1590, and it is a translation from a German pamphlet detailing the case and trial of Peter Stumpp. There are no remaining copies of the German pamphlet, and the English translation was rediscovered in 1920 by the occultist, Montague Summers. Montague reprinted the pamphlet,including a woodcut, in his work, The Werewolf.
There is some additional information in the form of an alderman’s diary entries, and some German broadsheets. The broadsheets, however, were probably reprinted from the English translation. Any original German documents about the trial were apparently lost; Peter’s date of birth is unknown, too, because local church records were destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).
Such a dearth of real information will always lead to speculation. There are some who believe that Peter Stumpp’s trial was a political trial in disguise. In Wolf Land, Sorcha tells us Brian Farrell’s theories on the subject: ‘I too knew the story of Peter Stumpp, but I knew the story as Brian told it; Brian, a man eager to believe in werewolves, had always said that this was not a story of the horrors of werewolves, but a story of the horrors of man. Peter Stumpp was caught in the middle of a religious war – he was a powerful Protestant in an area where others were determined to re-establish Catholicism.’
There were reasons for such theories. Peter grew up in Bedburg, and so was quite likely a Protestant. When the area was overthrown in 1587, in an effort to establish Catholicism, it’s conceivable that – if Peter was a Protestant in a position of some power – the new Catholic authorities may have wanted to make an example of him. Many powerful people came to his trial, and in a time when such trials were ten a penny, this was unusual. But … if Peter really did commit the crimes he confessed to, the trial would have been quite a draw, so perhaps the attendance of the peers and princes of Germany was not so unusual after all.
I began this post with a question in mind: does anyone really fear werewolves? And after reading about the trials in this blog, and so many similar cases against witches and werewolves over the centuries, I’m no closer to an answer. It could be argued that, in such trials, calling oneself (or being accused of being) a werewolf or a witch was just an excuse.
It wasn’t my fault, your honour, the devil made me do it.
Kill him, he’s in league with the devil. Never mind that it’s terribly convenient for us that this man no longer exist, just … kill him. I’m telling you – he’s got a magic belt and he knows how to use it!
But imagine we did believe that Gilles and Peter were werewolves. Imagine we believed that the countless women tortured, abused and murdered during the witch-hunts over the centuries really were witches. Would they still fascinate us or would they become something to fear?
I – and many others – create worlds filled with witches and werewolves. I’ll continue to do so. And they’ll (almost always) be the good guys. My werewolves aren’t serial killers or child murderers. But they might just chow down on the guys that are carrying out such heinous deeds. And as for my witches, if they’re ever tempted to resort to the blackest of magics, then I’ll make sure their hair looks good while they’re doing it🙂
This week I’m featuring Eva Gordon, a lady who has written a lot of books. She writes steampunk, fantasy, romance, historical … all with a strong romantic element. If you visit her Goodreads page or her blog, you’ll definitely find something to get stuck into.
As well as her writing, Eva teaches online courses on animal lore, ancient falconry and – I’m so excited by this next one – wolf lore :) When she’s not in her den writing, she enjoys world travel, steampunk conventions, hiking, raptor rehabilitation and wolf sanctuaries. She loves dark chocolate, red wine and dark deep forests. Oh Eva, will you be my BFF?
Since she does have so many books under her belt, I’m just going to give you the low-down on Book One of the Realms Trilogy: The Stone of the Tenth Realm. If you like your fantasy combined with history, then this might be one for you.
Sophie Katz, a Jewish chemistry student, harrowingly escapes a Nazi concentration camp. By way of Prague and with the help of a golem and a magic stone, she is transported into the Tenth Realm, a magical dimension that parallels the world she left behind.
Logan MacLeod, a Scottish warrior, hunted for a crime he did not mean to commit, flees to the Bestiary, a forest so dangerous no man dares enter. Drawn by the haunting sound of his bagpipes, Sophie and Logan meet.
Even as love ensues, the dark evil of the Third Reich threatens the Tenth Realm, led by Gustaf Hissler, Adolph Hitler’s doppelganger.
Together they must join the forces against Hissler in the Tenth Realm and help stop Hitler from world domination in Sophie’s realm. Will they be able to stop the Third Reich before its evil conquers all of the realms?
Once again, I’m featuring an author from the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers Group.
On Kyra Halland’s blog Welcome to My Worlds, she says that she writes fantasy with: ‘Complicated, honorable heroes; heroines who are strong, smart, and all woman; magic, romance, and adventure; and excursions into the dark corners of life and human nature mixed with a dash of offbeat humor.’
A nightmare come true – Silas is captured by mage hunters. Determined to rescue the man she loves, Lainie follows him and his captors into the mage-ruled land of Granadaia, where she discovers a betrayal she never imagined and a deep-rooted conspiracy that threatens the safety and freedom of the settlers in the Wildings. Alone in a strange land, with no one she can trust, Lainie must find a way to free Silas and put an end to the danger facing their beloved Wildings.
For the past while I’ve had my nose to the grindstone, so I failed to notice that last week’s featured author in the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance Readers, Writers and Reviewers Group was the lovely Annie B Matthews. I’ve had the pleasure of reading Annie’s first YA book, Talent, and if you happen to like YA fiction with a paranormal and romantic spin, then Talent might be just the book for you.
Annie has been writing since she was twelve, and I’m so glad that she’s finally decided to share her stories with the world. I loved reading about Libby’s journey to discover and gain control of her supernatural abilities. And, though the book is nicely wrapped up, I happen to know that a second book is on the way.
As I write this I’m drinking my second cup of tea of the day. I’ll probably have at least three more cups between now and bedtime. For me, drinking tea is a comforting ritual. Each morning I wrap my chilly fingers around a warm cup, take a sip and say, ‘Aaaah, that’s lovely so it is.’
But there was a time when no one in Ireland or England had heard of tea, and in Wolf Land Book Two, some of my characters experience it for the first time.
Lady Tolbert is a huge fan of tea. She brings it to Wolf Wood from Portugal, where she drank it with Catherine of Braganza. But in Wolf Wood, tea is not met with sighs of, ‘Aaaah, that’s lovely so it is.’ Maggie, the lady’s maid, refers to tea as, ‘That stuff,’ and says, ‘I am astounded as to how she keeps that foreign drink down.’
But whilst Lady Tolbert and Maggie are fictional characters, Catherine of Braganza lived and breathed in the real world instead of the one in my mind. Catherine was a Portuguese princess (and later Queen consort of England, Ireland and Scotland). She was born into the House of Braganza in 1638 – a house which became Portugal’s royal house in 1640.
Tea was popular among the rich of Portugal. It was an exotic drink imported from the East, and my mind plays vivid images of Lady Tolbert (a woman who knew how to influence the people of influence!) visiting Portugal in the 1650s and sipping the drink with the young Catherine.
Catherine did not arrive in England until 1662. She disembarked at Portsmouth in May of that year, and it is said that the first thing she asked for was a cup of tea. And – as well as the many expensive items that would be sold off to pay the debts of her husband, King Charles II – she made sure that a chest of tea was shipped to England for her arrival.
We know that tea was available before Catherine ever docked at Portsmouth. It was for sale in a London coffeehouse in 1657. Thomas Garraway, the owner of the coffeehouse, produced a pamphlet to advertise his latest offering. In 1658 an advertisement appeared in the Mercurius Politicus, calling tea: ‘That Excellent, and by all Physicians approved, China Drink.’
In Thomas Rugge’s Diurnall (a journal preserved in the British museum) he describes tea as being ‘sold in almost every street in 1659.’
The introduction of tea is also recorded in another famous journal, the diary of Samuel Pepys. In Samuel’s entry dated 25th September 1660, he records some time he spent discussing foreign affairs with friends. He tells us that, after this meeting, he ‘did send for a cupp of tee (a China drink) of which I never had drank before.’
But although all of these sources tell us that tea was available, it was not yet the drink of the masses. It was sold in mostly male frequented places, and was promoted as a medicinal drink (against the advice of the Royal College of Physicians who wondered whether the drink would ‘agree with the Constitutions of (our) English bodies’).
Upon Catherine’s arrival in 1662 she made it clear that tea was her drink of choice. It was what she and her fellow wealthy women drank at court – not for medicinal reasons, but simply for enjoyment – and under Catherine’s influence the drink gained the popularity it still has today.
So thank you, Catherine. Because of you, I have this lovely cup of warm liquid in my hands. And I’m about to dunk a biscuit.
It’s finally here folks! Wolf Land Book Two: Storyfalls is now available to buy on Amazon.
Now that I’ve hit the ‘Publish’ button, I should probably get some overdue rest but … I’m already writing Book Three. Writing this series is a joy, and not for one moment does it feel like work. I get to create a fantastic world and add some Irish history into the mix. I get to spend time with my favourite characters and also delve deeper into my passion for wolves.
Storyfalls follows on from where Bluebells left off. It’s set in Ireland in 1659 and there’s a very short blurb for this one:
In the castle’s keep there is a room …
And in that room there is a box …
And in that box there is … ?
Sorcha Moore feels as though she has finally found her real home amongst the werewolves of Wolf Wood, but enemies may be closer than she thinks. With poisonings and attacks occurring within the wolves’ community, who can Sorcha really trust?
The werewolves must discover the culprit. And if they are ever to defeat the Tolberts, then they must do it fast.