Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The tornado disaster in my community. #prayforarkansas

Vilonia, AR - Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Hello, lovelies,

As many of you know, I live in Little Rock, Arkansas.

When the storms hit, my phone started blowing up. Calls, texts, emails, and instant messages poured in Sunday night into Monday morning, and then into the afternoon and evening hours. Friends and readers from around the world popped in to check and make sure me, SS, and our family were safe.

We are safe.

We live about 20 minutes from the area that was hit, so it missed us.

So many others weren't as fortunate.

I'm a social worker by day, and a large portion of my assigned area is that which was devastated by the tornadoes on Sunday night - Ferndale, Mayflower, Vilonia, White County... my clients live in all of these areas. Many have called these communities home for fifty and sixty years.

Over the last couple of days, I've talked with so many people who have lost everything. Their homes. Their pets. Their friends, family, and neighbors. In the coming weeks, many of those who were injured and are sent to inpatient rehab to recuperate will undoubtedly be referred to me. This is what I do every day... I connect the elderly and disabled with the resources they need to remain in or return to their communities.
Mayflower, AR - Kathryn Piotrowski/Reuters

I don't even know where to begin doing that right now. I'm learning about disaster relief on the run. But I am learning, so I can teach my clients, too.

Seeing the damage left behind in our community has been heartbreaking. I can't even begin to express how overwhelming it is. Over 3,000 homes were damaged. A large portion of those are completely destroyed, uninhabitable. We lost fifteen people. Two of them were just little kids. 

I checked in on the last of my clients today, and they are safe. I cannot even begin to express how relieving it was to cross that last name off the list today. To know that the people I care for - the ones I work with every day - are safe.

Sitting in my car after making that last contact today, I heard this song and cried like a baby. 


 


I cannot even begin to tell you how many of those I've spoken with or visited have said the same thing: how amazing everyone has been in their time of need. 

And you guys have been amazing. The compassion you've shown my neighbors is humbling. Beautiful. Empowering. Inspiring. And something none of us will forget any time soon. This song demonstrates that compassion so beautifully. So I just wanted to share it with all of you. To take a minute to say thank you to everyone who has pulled together to help out, to lift spirits, and to lift up our community.

And to say thank you to all who purchased FADE or FALL in April. What I've earned from those sales will be going to the Red Cross to help my neighbors. I think it's only fitting.

For those who would like to help out, too, please consider making your own donation to the American Red Cross at http://redcross.org. They were on the ground almost immediately, and their trucks continue to pour through on their way to help not only those in our community, but to help those in communities in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, and Oklahoma - each of whom have suffered unimaginable losses in the last few days.



xoxo,

PS: Please forgive me for the ridiculous formatting of this post. I still don't know how to make Blogger knock it off with the white background and cooperate. 

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Varima-te-takere #atozchallenge

V - Like Utset and Gaia, Varima-te-takere is another of the world's primordial mother goddesses. According to the mythology of the Cook Islands, Varima-te-takere lived in a tiny egg in the mud at the bottom of the ocean of Avaiki. Her space was so small, she could barely move. Varima-te-takere subsisted on raw taro (a tropical plant).

Varima-te-takere desperately wanted children, so she shaped them from her body. From her left side, she shaped Vatea (father of the gods). From her right, she created the goddess Papa. Together, Vatea and Papa created the Earth and the god Tangaroa (or Tinirau).

Interestingly enough, Vatea and Papa were not only gods, but were also the first humans. They populated the world with their offspring, thus creating the people of the world.

In another version of the myth, Varima-te-takere is credited with creating Tinirau (lord of the seas), Raka (lord of the winds), Tango (lord of the birds), Tumu-te-ana-oa (echo of the rocks), and Tu-metua (the fourteenth night). She shaped these gods from her flesh much like she did Vatea and Papa.

Varima-te-takere is also celebrated in the Polynesian myths as the Mother Goddess.

xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Utset #atozchallenge

U - In Native American mythology, Utset and Nowutset were two sisters created by Sussistinnako when he drew a cross in the Lower World and sang the sisters into creation. Utset and Nowutset created the sun, moon, and stars. The Native people came from Utset and all others from her sister, Nowutset, before Utset tore her heart out after she lost a game of riddles to Utset.

This sparked a great war in the Lower World that lasted for eight years. During the ninth year, the Lower World drowned in a primordial flood. But Utset saved her people by leading through through a reed into the Upper World.

She also carried with her a bag of stars.

One day, she asked Beetle to watch over this bag of stars so she could tend to her people, but Beetle chewed a hole in the bag. Many of the stars spilled across the sky. When Utset saw this, she abandoned her people to retrieve the stars, but there were so many of them, she didn't get very far.

Utset was so caught up with the stars, her people began to starve. When she realized this, she placed the stars that remained in the bag into the sky as the Pleiades, Orion, and the Great Bear.

She then rushed back to tend to her people. To save them, she planted pieces of her heart into the ground. Corn grew from it, thus nourishing her people and becoming an incredibly important plant to the Native people.


xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tiwanaku #atozchallenge

T - Prior to the rise of the Incan Empire, Tiwanaku was the cultural center of a tribe long lost to the world. From about 300 BCE to 300 BC, this group spread through a large portion of South America, colonizing areas that once belonged to smaller tribes and groups.

They were rather advanced when it came to farming, using an exhaustive technique that wielded even more product than many modern farming techniques. As a result, they were able to support a massive number of people. It's estimated that anywhere from 200,000 to one million individuals called the city of Tiwanaku home during the height of the civilization. They were also quite skilled at negotiating treaties, which allowed them to flourish by forcing other civilizations to become dependent upon them.

With no written language, little remains of this society now, including their name.

But what we have found in the ruins is fascinating.

The people of Tiwanaku participated in a rather brutal form of human sacrifice in which they would rip an individual open and disembowel him or her. Gods and religious beliefs from other societies were also often swallowed up by the Tiwanaku people. When the city was found in the 1500s, evidence of many other religions was found among the ruins. The Tiwanaku people would carry these beliefs and artifacts back to their city and add them to their own pantheon, most often in a subordinate position to their own gods.

One of their most important gods was Viracocha, who created the world and organized everyone into societies (which the Tiwanaku continued to do through colonization of South America). Viracocha came from Lake Titicaca during a period of great darkness. As he rose from the waters, he created the sun, moon, and stars. He then made Giants to carry the rocks which eventually built Tiwanaku. But these Giants angered Viracocha, so he sent a great flood to destroy them.

Once destroyed, Viracocha started over with a new race at Tiwanaku. He breathed into small rocks to create humans, and then wrote his instructions for civilization down onto a giant piece of rock. Of course, his people couldn't read, so he drew great lines in the rock, and demanded that his people settle into each of those areas and name the tribes to live therein. The spreading of the Tiwanaku society was their way of following that instruction.

His mission thus completed, Viracocha walked out onto the water of the ocean and disappeared, never to be seen by his people again. But he did not vanish from the world entirely. Viracocha wandered, teaching others and working miracles. Interestingly enough, Viracocha was a white man, dressed in robes, who carried a staff and a book. He frequently dressed as a beggar.

As the Tiwanaku society began to lose power, the Incan Empire rose. Viracocha became an important deity in their pantheon, taking on the same creator role as he did in the earlier Tiwanaku society. And, as with so many others from around the world, the similarities between Viracocha and Jesus are striking.

xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Shapona #atozchallenge

Statue of Shapona
S - In the Dahomey and Yoruba faiths of Africa, Shapona (also Shakpana and Sopona) is a powerful deity or Orisha (spirit) believed to infect humans with smallpox, insanity, and other infectious diseases. As Shakpana, this Orisha takes the form of an old man. He is the son of Yemaya (Goddess of water and childbirth) and Obatala (the god who created the human race after getting drunk and failing to create earth), and isn't necessarily a nice god.

The Dahomey and Yoruba people are very careful not to anger Shapona, as they believe doing so will cause an outbreak. In fact, they often refuse to even speak his true name for fear of angering him. For a very long time, shrines to Shapona were maintained by a specific group of priests. The people believed that angering these holy men could cause an outbreak, thanks to their special relationship with Shapona. This exclusivity lead to the creation of powerful secret societies (cults of Shapona).

Priests in these societies would blackmail individuals into doing as they were told by promising the wrath of Shapona (in the form of smallpox) if they failed to perform as expected. When these individuals actually began falling ill with smallpox, it raised a few red flags. A doctor (Dr. Sapara) went undercover in one of these societies to investigate.

Come to find out, the priests were actually causing the outbreaks. They would intentionally infect villagers with the disease to punish him/her for not following orders. To make matters worse, they were a very vocal opponent to smallpox vaccinations. To avoid their wrath, and thus the wrath of Shapona, many refused these vaccinations. Which meant they continued to be vulnerable to the disease, which kept the priests in power.

Pretty horrible, right?

Based on the findings of Dr. Sapara, the Shapona societies were outlawed in 1907. However, worship of Shapona continues throughout Africa. After their history with the Shapona cults, I can't say I blame them for being extra careful! Luckily, with these societies out of the way, smallpox vaccination has flourished, and the wrath of Shapona has become a little less terrifying.


xoxo,


FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rainbow Bridge #atozchallenge

R - In Norse mythology, the Rainbow Bridge (Bifröst or Asbrú) is the burning bridge that stretches between Asgard (heaven) and Midgard (earth). The bridge was created by the Æsir so they could easily travel between their realm and the human world. Each day, the Æsir ride their horses across the Rainbow Bridge to Urd's Well, where they hold court.

At the far end of the Bifröst sits the Norse god Heimdall. Heimdall stands guard against Giants who might use the bridge to enter Asgard. He also stands watch for Ragnarok, the doom of the Gods. As with so much else, the Bifröst will be destroyed during this apocalyptic battle when the inhabitants of Muspelheim ride across the bridge.

In Gylfaginning (the first book of the Prose Edda) Snorri Sturluson says:

In the midst of this clash and din the heavens are rent in twain, and the sons of Muspell come riding through the opening. Surtr rides first, and before him and after him flames burning fire. He has a very good sword, which shines brighter than the sun. As they ride over Bifrost it breaks to pieces, as has before been stated. The sons of Muspel direct their course to the plain which is called Vigrid.... The sons of Muspel have there effulgent bands alone by themselves.

Many believe that the Rainbow Bridge represents the Milky Way. This isn't particularly surprising given how many different cultures have incorporated the Milky Way into their beliefs. Others have incorporated the Rainbow Bridge into their own beliefs. In the poem, The Rainbow Bridge, for instance, animals who pass away go to a beautiful meadow just outside of heaven. When their owners pass, they arrive in the meadow to be reunited. Together, they cross the Rainbow Bridge into heaven.

On an unrelated note, I'm trying desperately to get caught up on visiting all of you, but am still nearly a week behind. Be patient with me. The last couple of weeks have been insanely busy. FADE made it to bestseller status (yay!), and I'm in the midst of a massive query round. It's an exhausting process!

xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quetzalcoatl #atozchallenge

Q - Quetzalcoatl is probably one of the most familiar names in Meso-American mythology. We might mangle the pronunciation some (read: most of the time), but we do recognize the name!

Quetzalcoatl, the feathered-serpent God, was a huge part of the Meso-American belief system, with many different tribes of people worshiping him over a long period of time.

Artwork depicting the important role of Quetzalcoatl has been found in Nahua, Toltec, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations. Oddly enough, Quetzalcoatl has even made his appearance in Mormon belief as well, with the third president of the LDS Church declaring that Quetzalcoatl was none other than Jesus himself.

Like Bacchus in Rome and Horus in Egypt, Jesus and Quetzalcoatl certainly have a lot in common. Quetzalcoatl is the god of truth, justice, knowledge and the wind. He is Lord of the Dawn, the patron of priests, inventor of books, and the creator of the people in the Age of the Fifth Sun. He was born of a virgin, and rose from the dead to become the Morning Star.

While very few Meso-American groups agreed on exactly where he came from, most agreed that his mother was the virgin Chimalman. Like so much else, how he came to be created within her varies greatly from one tribe to another. In one myth, for instance, she swallowed an emerald and he popped out. In another, Mixcoatl hit her in the stomach with an arrow, and Quetzalcoatl was born nine months later.

In another story, Quetzalcoatl's mother was Coatlicue, who birthed all the stars of the Milky Way. In another, he was one of the guardians of the four cardinal directions, birthed by Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl. Yet another says he was the son of Mixcoatl and Xochiquetzal.

These variations can be attributed in part to the cultural differences between each civilization. In the Teotihuacan civilization, Quetzalcoatl was a peaceful vegetation god. At that time, he wasn't associated with human sacrificed. When the Nahua migrated from the north several centuries later, however, they brought their own beliefs with them, including a belief in sacrifice. Quetzalcoatl the vegetation god quickly became Quetzalcoatl the god of the morning star who required sacrifice.

In a throwback to the Neolithic revolution (during which religious hierarchy began to more closely resemble the newly found social and political hierarchy that came with the advent of farming and villages), that same shift of belief is present in a lot of different cultures and mythologies. As groups of people merge, one set of beliefs is eventually replaced by the beliefs of the strongest, or the disparate beliefs are blended together until a new system emerges in which aspects of each cultures' belief can be found.

Either way, Quetzalcoatl underwent a lot of changes as each new civilization arose, but still somehow managed to stick around in one form or another for a very long time. Today, traces of him can be found in many modern religions as well. Including, as I mentioned above, Mormonism

Another interesting note before I shut up.... The second coming of Quetzalcoatl was closely associated with the year 1519. So much so, in fact, that when Cortes landed, the Aztec people may have viewed him as Quetzalcoatl himself. According to the Florentine Codex, this particular belief led to the fall of the Aztec Empire to Cortes and the Conquistadors when Montezuma offered Cortes his throne. Whether or not that's true is open for interpretation, but it's an incredibly fascinating theory, especially given the similarities between Quetzalcoatl and Jesus.

I could go on and on about Quetzalcoatl, but I'll shush now. :)

xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Prometheus #atozchallenge

*minor language advisory
P - One of the most fascinating characters to come from the Greek era is Prometheus. This Titan is one of humanities' greatest allies. He is also a very intelligent and cunning character in the Greek tradition, which has led to a bit of a fascination with Prometheus by scholars around the world. Some of the most recognized names from the classical era - Hesiod, Homer, Plato, and Pythagoras - all explored the various myths surrounding Prometheus.


Prometheus Bound.
When the Greek gods destroyed the Titans, Prometheus was one of the fortunate few who managed to escape that fate. He opted out of the great battle, which saved his life. But that didn't exactly endear him to the Greek gods. Nor did his fascination with irritating Zeus. As a result of these issues, Prometheus and Zeus clashed often.

Prometheus is credited with the creation of humans from clay, which probably didn't earn him any points with Zeus to begin with. From there, Prometheus pulled one over on the gods during a feast and set two choices in front of Zeus. One was meat stashed inside the stomach of an animal. The second were bones covered with fat. Zeus chose the bones, which led the humans to believe the gods preferred sacrifices of bones and fat. That wasn't the case, and it pissed Zeus off.

Naturally, Zeus decided the humans had to pay for their ignorance, so he withheld fire from them. Without the ability to warm themselves, cook, or even protect themselves in the darkness, humanity began to fail.

Prometheus found this particularly irksome since he'd created these amazing people and viewed them almost as his children. So he crept into Olympus and stole fire from the Gods, which he then handed over to humanity in direct defiance of Zeus's warning. 

If Zeus was pissed before, this not-so-little act by Prometheus absolutely infuriated the God. So he sent Pandora to earth with her box of unpleasantness. Prometheus had been told this was happening, so he warned the humans. But we aren't always the brights bulbs in the box. Epimetheus accepted the box, and then opened it. Some pretty gnarly things escaped to plague humanity before Pandora was able to shut it again. Despite the awfulness now ravaging humanity, people didn't lose hope because they still had foresight (aka Prometheus) on their side.

Think Zeus was thrilled about the way humanity pinned their hopes and faith on the Titan?

Of course not!

In another display of fury, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock on the Kazbek Mountain in Europe. Zeus then sent an eagle to eat the liver of Prometheus. Because the Titan was immortal, he felt every moment of the horrible pain. To make matters worse, because of that immortality, Prometheus's liver regenerated each night, pretty much guaranteeing his punishment would last for eternity. Thanks to Hercules, that part of Prometheus's punishment didn't play out like planned... the hero rescued Prometheus during one of his trials. 

This story of Prometheus's punishment is one of the three myths used in the Great and Powerful Theme Reveal, found here.

Another version of the punishment myth suggests that Prometheus knew who would replace Zeus as the Supreme Being in the great Cosmic order. When Zeus found out he would be replaced, he demanded Prometheus reveal his successor's name. Prometheus refused, so Zeus chained him to the rock, swearing the Titan would remain there until he told Zeus what the God wanted to know.

Regardless of why Prometheus was chained to the rock... that's got to be the worst punishment ever! I'm definitely Team Prometheus in this particular battle. How could you not support him when he endured all kinds of unpleasantness for us?!


xoxo,
Ayden

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oman #atozchallenge

Yanomami Child
O - According to Yanomami belief, Oman (or Omam or Omao) is the creator of their people. The Yanomami live in small tribes in the Amazon. Each tribe has its own beliefs and stories, most of which are passed on orally. As a result, the creation story differs greatly from tribe to tribe.

In the Sanema tribe, Oman was one of two tadpoles saved by Curare when the Original Jaguar ate Waipili, their mother. Oman grew very fast, and was soon able to kill Jaguar by convincing him to climb a tree. Jaguar fell to his death. With him out of the way, Oman set about convincing Lalagi-gi to help him grow food so he did not starve. Lalagi-gi agreed to teach him, and Oman learned to plant and care for the food he needed to survive.

With that done, Oman decided to make people. He planned to do so with hardwood trees so they would live forever. But his brother brought him softwood trees instead, and the people he made from them died easily. Angry, Oman found his own hardwood trees and made anacondas from them. With the Yanomami thus created, Oman left the Earth to live in the sky.

You can read a more complete version of this creation story here.

In another story of the Yanomami creation, Oman was attempting to repair holes in the world when a big chunk fell to the ground. Angered that his work seemed to be getting him nowhere, he said to heck with it, and decided to go fishing instead. In the river, he found the first Yanomami woman. But the woman wasn't quite right, so Oman used piranha teeth to shape her into something more suitable. Once completed, he made her a mate, and thus created the Yanomami people.

According to that particular story, everyone else was made from river foam.

I think flying to Venezuela, tracking down the Yanomami, learning their language, and then asking about Oman would be easier than finding anything more significant on him has proven to be. It's truly amazing how little we know about indigenous Amazonian tribes and their beliefs!


xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nine Worlds #atozchallenge

N - According to Norse mythology, the first creatures to exist were a Giant named Ymir and a cow named Audumla. In the north a land of darkness and cold called Niflheim existed. In the south was Muspellsheim, a land of fire. Ymir created the first male and female from his sweat. They were Giants. Audumla created a being (Buri) from a block of salt encrusted ice. Buri gave birth to Bor, who married Bestla, Ymir's daughter. Their union gave birth to Odin, Vili, and Ve. 


Yggdrasil
Together, the first of the Æsir killed Ymir and the Giants... all except two who fled to Niflheim.

From Ymir's body, Odin, Vili, and Vi created Midgard (Earth). As the Earth took shape, the gods created Asgard (home of the gods) above Earth so they could keep watch over their creation, and the Bifrost, so they could travel between the two realms. This placement established three levels... Asgard on the first, Midgard on the second, and Niflheim on the third.

They then created Alfheim (home of the light Elves), Svartalheim (home of the dark Elves), Vanaheim (home of the Vanir), and Nidavellir (home of the Dwarves), scattering each among the three levels. Underneath Niflheim, they placed Helheim (home of the dead). The two giants who fled the slaughter of their people had begun to rebuild their race, so Odin, Vili and Vi also created Jotunheim which became home of the Giants. When Odin learned of Ragnarok, the doom of the Gods, he established Valhalla in Asgard.

With all these worlds thus created, Yggrdrasil began to grow. It's roots connected the three levels. On each level, a fountain existed... Hvergelmir in Niflheim, Mimir in Jotunheim, and Urd in the heavens were the Norns (Fates) lived. These fountains sustained Yggdrasil which in turn sustained the Nine Worlds. 

And thus the Nine Worlds were created.


xoxo,
Ayden
  

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Artful by @wilbert_stanton

Hi, lovelies!

I'm a little late to the game today, but am very happy to help reveal the cover for The Artful
from Wilbert Stanton. This dystopian sci-fi is schedule to release on May 27, 2014
from Curiosity Quills Press. 


Wilbert Stanton: The Artful
New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorwilbertstanton
Twitter: @wilbert_stanton

Isn't the cover fabulous?? I can't wait to pick this one up. 


xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Manticore #atozchallenge

Artist unknown
M - In Persian and Greek mythology, the Manticore (or Martyaxwar) was a creature much like the Sphinx. This beast had the body of a lion, the head of a human with an extra row of teeth, the wings of a bat, and the tail of a scorpion. His tail had spikes on it which he would shoot at his victims to paralyze them before eating them whole.

The Manticore was incredibly fast and agile, making it all but impossible to escape him once he had you in his sights. But there was hope of avoiding a Manticore. While the creature couldn't speak, he had a trumpet-like voice and would make musical sounds as he roamed. Those that heard the music knew to run for cover while they had a chance. That said, the beast was reportedly very clever too. He would hide in the grass, only revealing himself when a person was too close to escape.

This beast roamed the jungles of India, where he was an omen of misfortune. Considering that he ate people whole, I can see why they might not view him favorably. :)

The Manticore came to Greece by way of the sophist Flavius Philostratus who wrote about the creature in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana. Philostratus recounted the following tale, supposedly passed to Apollonius by an Indian:

As the hunters gathered round in the dusty night, they wondered whether hunting the fabled Manticore was a wise idea. It didn’t matter now, the decision had been made, and no musical sounds had been heard yet. However as the hunters settled in their camp, they heard some muffled whistling, with their weapons ready, the hunters felt their heartbeat rise, was this the legendary Manticore or just a trick of the wind. Only one hunter made it back, he never saw the Manticore with his own eyes, but his colleagues fell one by one, until he could stand firm no longer.
Interestingly enough, Pausanias of Greek thought the creature described was actually an ordinary tiger. People have a tendency to embellish things they fear, making them seem much larger and more terrifying than the reality. Not to say a wild tiger wouldn't be terrifying enough, but given wings... well, the animal enters an entirely new level of "How screwed are we?", don't you think?

What is your favorite mythical creature?



xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Destruction by @SharonBayliss #decemberpeople #newrelease



Introducing a new dark wizard family drama, Destruction by Sharon Bayliss, Book One in The December People Series.
BUY NOW

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David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.  

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.


Destruction (Book One of The December People Series)





The Author

Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.



xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Lleu Llaw Gyffes #atozchallenge

Lleu Llaw Gyffes by Margaret Jones
L - The rather sad story of Lleu Llaw Gyffes of Welsh mythology (counterpart to Lugh in Celtic mythology) begins well before his birth.

When Gilfaethwy meets his uncle's virgin foot-holder, Goewin, he decides he absolutely must have her. Gwydion convinces Gilfaethwy to start a war between North and South Wales so the two of them can rape Goewin in the ensuing chaos. Gilfaethwy agreed with this awful plan, and so they stole Pryderi's magical pigs. The Demetian King did exactly as Gwydion hoped when he realized they were gone, and invaded Gwynedd.

Gilfaethwy and Gwydion raped Goewin as they'd planned, and the Gwydion killed Pryderi.

Defeated, his people marched home.

At this point, Gilfaethwy and Gwydion thought they'd gotten away with their horrid crime, but they hadn't. Their uncle learned who was responsible for attacking Goewin. Furious, he came up with the most ingenious punishment ever.

For three years, he turned Gilfaethwy and Gwydion into mated pairs of animals. First they were a stag and a deer, and then a sow and boar, and then a wolf and she-wolf. He then too their offspring for himself.

Once released from his punishment, Gwydion suggested his sister, Arianrhod, as Math's new virgin foot-holder. Problem was... Arianrhod wasn't a virgin. During the virginity test, she gave birth to Dylan. Deeply ashamed, Arianrhod attempted to flee. Before she can do so, she gave birth to Lleu Llaw Gyffes.

Math kept Lleu, and eventually gave him to Math to take to Arianrhod. Still deeply shamed, Arianrhod wanted nothing to do with her child, so she cursed him to remain nameless unless his name was bestowed by her.

Gwydion then disguised himself and Lleu as cobblers to trick Arianrhod into naming him. After Lleu hit a bird with a stone, she gave him the name Lleu Llaw Gyffes.

Arianrhod then learned who the child was, and promptly placed a second curse on him. He could not have any weapon unless she gave it to him herself. Naturally, Gwydion proceeded to trick her into arming Lleu, so she cursed Lleu a third time. This time, she forbade him from ever taking a human wife.

This didn't deter Gwydion, who went to Math for help. Together, they created the goddess Blodeuedd for Lleu. But Blodeuedd didn't exactly fall madly in love with Lleu. She fell for Gronwn Pebr, and the two plotted to murder Lleu. Since he couldn't be killed save at a very specific time in very specific circumstances (seriously... at dusk, with a spear forged over the course of a year, while he stood on one foot in a cauldron and one on top of one animal or another, wrapped in a net), all their plan managed to do was greatly injure him before he took the form of an eagle and flew off.

Gwydion then nursed him back to health. Once able, Lleu promptly returned to his home to kill his lover. Gwyndion then cursed Blodeuedd into owl form, and she's never heard from again.

At that point, Lleu decided he'd had enough madness for a lifetime, so he more or less vanishes from public life as well. Can't say I blame him after everything he had to endure!

Before you forgive Gwydion for arranging a war to rape Goewin, it should be noted that there's a pretty good chance Lleu and Dylan were his sons. Which makes him suggesting Arianrhod as Math's foot-holder seem suspicious and kind of cruel of him. If that was the case, he kind of owed it to Lleu to help him with his difficult life since he was partly responsible for the shame with which Arianrhod viewed the child.

On an unrelated note: I am way behind with comments and reading your A to Z posts. I've been furiously prepping Ravished (my non-mythology related novel) for agent rounds. But I will catch up soon!

xoxo,

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kalfu #atozchallenge

K - Haitian mythology is home to so many of the creatures, practices, and legends we fear. Voodoo, mind control, zombies, evil spirits, horrible curses and hexes... Haitian mythology has it all! But Haitian mythology isn't all doom and gloom. It is also home to some very beautiful beliefs. 

Vodou Ceremony - Andre Normil
In Haitian belief, Loa (spirits) belong to one of three nations. The Rada, the Petwo, and the Guede. Guede Loa are generally associated with fertility and sexuality. Rada Loa are typically considered more benevolent spirits. And the Petwo Loa are those that tend to be more aggressive.


Granted this isn't one of those more beautiful believes, but Kalfu is the Petwo manifestation of Papa Legba (the spirit that stands at the crossroads and grants or denies permission to speak with the spirits in Guinee (the spirit world). 

Kalfu is a very powerful Loa. He is King of the Crossroads. The god of black magic. He is responsible for granting or denying access to other Loa crossing over. As a result, other Loa greatly respect (if not outright fear) him. Kalfu can cause great misfortune and devastation.

But Kalfu is also an important balancing Loa. While Legba controls the positive spirits associated with day, Kalfu controls those evil spirits associated with night. Disorder follows in his wake, true enough, but without the disorder he causes, humanity cannot grow. After all... some of the most important lessons and advances we make are those that aren't necessarily easy for us. Without a little chaos, we don't grow. 

Additionally, Kalfu is often called upon to help humans sort out their personal problems. And you have to admit... we have plenty of those. Granted, I wouldn't want to visit with him, but then again, I'm not into Haitian voodoo!  

xoxo,
Ayden

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jinn #atozchallenge

JIn Arabic and Islamic folklore, humans and angels are joined in intelligence by a race known as the Jinn (also Djinn or Jannu). According to the folklore, Allah created humans from clay, the angels from light, and the Jinn from fire that doesn't burn. As a result of their form they appear to look a lot like smoke. Depending on whom you ask, the Jinn live in dimensions outside of our universe (often called Kaf or Jinnistan), but are able to travel between dimensions, or they had dominion of Earth long before humanity.


These beings are much like humans in that they can be good, evil, or neutral. And like humans, the Jinn have free will. But one Jinn angered Allah by abusing this freedom of will when he refused to bow to Adam. Allah banished this Jinn from Paradise, and named him Satan. As a result of this, the Jinn are often considered demons.

In other versions of the Jinn story, the Jinn are not demons, but are a race unto themselves.

Humans cannot see Jinn, but the Jinn are able to possess humans, which also gives rise to the belief of Jinn as demons. Other version of the myth say Jinn are able to shapeshift and can take human and animal shapes.

One legend says that King Solomon had an artifact that allowed him to use the Jinn in battle. Another, perhaps more widely known legend, is that of Aladdin's Lamp. A Jinn was placed in this lamp, and was able to grant wishes to any human who came into possession of the lamp.

Personally... I prefer the idea of Jinn granting wishes. I mean, wish granting genies is so much more pleasant that invisible beings who may or may not be able to possess humans and may or may not be evil, amiright?!


xoxo,
Ayden

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Izanagi and Izanami #atozchallenge

I - The myth of Izanagi and Izanami, like so many others found throughout the world, does triple duty as a love story, a creation myth, and a cautionary tale. In Japanese and Shinto mythology, Izanagi and Izanami were born when heaven and earth separated from Chaos. Together, they stood on the floating bridge of heaven and stirred the primordial ocean with a jeweled spear. As they did so, the first land formed. 

Stirring the primordial sea
Because Izanami spoke during their first coupling, they birthed a deformed child (Ebisu). Like so many have done when deformed children were concerned, the couple abandoned him. They placed him in a boat and set him adrift.

Izanagi and Izanami then went on to birth the islands of Japan, as well as various other gods and goddesses. One of these gods, Kagutsuchi (the fire god), burned Izanami during child birth. When she died, she went to the land of darkness (Yomi). Izanagi, unwilling to let her go, killed Kagutsuchi and then followed his wife to the underworld. When he learned she could not return with him because she had eaten of the land of darkness, he despaired.

Desperate to see his wife, he lit a fire to look upon her even though she had told him not to do so. 

Izanami was not the goddess he remembered. She had become a hideous, rotting creature.

Horrified that Izanagi had seen her like this, she was deeply shamed and swore vengeance on him. She sent a hag to kill him, but Izanagi escaped. Undeterred, Izanami promised she would kill one thousand of his people every day. Naturally, Izanagi didn't much care for this plan. He vowed that for every thousand she killed, he would birth one thousand and five hundred.

Their union thus destroyed, Izanagi returned to the land of the living.

To cleanse himself of all that had occurred in the land of darkness with Izanami, Izanagi bathed in the sea. As he did so, three gods and goddesses were born. In honor of that cleansing bath, the Shinto participate in purification ceremonies, called harai, similar to Izanagi's so that they may approach kami.

In the story of Izanami and Izanagi sounds familiar... it is. Similar tales can be found in Greek mythology. In the myth of Persephone, for instance, Hades fell in love with the goddess, and abducted her to his dominion. When the people began to starve, Zeus demanded Hades return her. But Hades wasn't willing to let her go that easily, so he convinced her to eat pomegranate grown in the underworld. As a result, each winter, Persephone had to return to the underworld to live with Hades. 


And, of course, when Eurydice was killed by a viper, her husband, Orpheus, traveled to the underworld to retrieve her. He played such lovely music, Hades agreed to let him return Eurydice to the earth, but only if he walked ahead of her and did not look back until they had reached Earth. At the threshold, Orpheus was unable to wait any longer to see his wife. He turned back just before she took the final step, and she promptly vanished back into the underworld.

xoxo,
Ayden

FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.

Cover Reveal: Charming by @KrystalWade

Popular YA author Krystal Wade has a thrilling new young adult novel coming out in October, 2014! The spine-tingling suspense in CHARMING will get your heart rate up. We promise you.

We have a fun jigsaw puzzle of the cover for you guys! Go on, give it a try!
...but if you can’t wait, just scroll down and take a peek at the final cover of CHARMING!






About CHARMING:

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that's great . . . as long as you don't die.

Sixteen-year-old Haley Tremaine had it all: top-notch school, fantastic family, and a bright future, but all of that changed when an accident tore her family apart. Now, an alcoholic father, a bitter younger sister, and a cold headstone bearing her mother’s name are all she has left.

Chris Charming has it all: a powerful CEO for a father, a prestigious school, and a fortune at his fingertips, but none of that matters when he lands a reputation as a troublemaker. Struggling to follow in his father’s footsteps, he reaches out to the one person he believes truly sees him, the one person he wants: Haley.

Little do they know someone's determined to bring the two together, even if it means murder.



Add CHARMING to your TBR pile on Goodreads!


 Author Bio

Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers - who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas - sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read.
How else can she cope with a fifty mile commute?
Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.

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