Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Wise Women of Germanic Legend...

For the most part, the Dutch words “Witte Wieven” translates into English as “White Women.” However, in the Low German language, spoken in northern Germany and in the eastern portions of the Netherlands, the translation is “Wise Women.” No matter how you translate it, these women are known as herbalists, healers, and prophesiers. They were, and still are, highly respected in some cultures.

Cover Art by Shandra Kay

In answer to readers burning questions concerning "Van Locken's Witch," I thought I'd share some of the Germanic legends concerning these captivating women. After all, my heroine, Lissa Capoen is a direct descendent of the Witte Wieven, and has inherited all of the abilities of her revered ancestors.

According to the myths and legends of the Netherlands, dating back to at least the seventh century, mortals admired the wise women during their mortality and honored them at and after their death. Once death claimed them, their spirits remained earthbound and according to their pleasure, they could choose to help or hinder those they encountered.

Legends tell us that the ghost wieven made their homes in forests, swamps, hills, lakes, grave hills, trees, stones and any other object of nature. In Drenthe, tombs were also seen as homes of the Wise Women. Many mistook the sound carried by the breeze as the White Women busily spinning cloth and mists seen in the night, were mistaken for their ghostly forms as they went about gathering herbs, stems and leaves.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Of Witches and Wizards in Salem, Massachusetts...

With a Halloween theme of "Witches and Wizards," I certainly have to include a blog on the notorious Salem, Massachusetts witch trials. My husband and I have several ancestors who lived in Massachusetts during the witch hunts and though none of them lived in Essex County, they lived near enough to know about them. I wonder what they thought. Did they believe the accused were actually witches and warlocks, or did they think the whole thing utter nonsense? I suppose I'll never know, but I'm hoping they kept a level head during the months of mass hysteria.

"Examination of a witch" by Thompkins H. Matteson 1853

Between February of 1692 and May of 1693, nineteen people were hanged, one man met his death under a heavy load of rocks, and five died in jail.  Over a hundred more were accused and imprisoned. Some were condemned, but not executed, and some even confessed to the charges of witchcraft. However, many of them, such as, Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Bridget Bishop, stood before their accusers and vehemently proclaimed their innocence.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Merlin...Of Wizards and Witches...

In dabbling in the realm of wizards and witches, we can't write a blog dedicated to the same without talking about one of the most famous wizards of all time, King Arthur's Merlin.

 Howard Pyle illustration from the 1903 edition of The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

In honor of this childe, the fates shall bring
All their assisting powers of Knowledge, Arts
Learning and Wisdom, all the hidden parts
Of all-admiring Prophecy to fore-see
The events of times to come. His Art shall stand
A wall of brass to guard the Brittan Land.
The Birth of Merlin, III, iv.
William Rowley (c. 1582-1642)

Everyone knows Merlin, but not everyone knows the anciently recorded details surrounding his birth. According to some of the early chronicles, the great wizard is the product of a mortal woman and the demon who assaulted her as she slept. The story tells us that in an act of revenge against Christ's liberation of Adam and Eve from Hell, a council of demons devised a plot. They would beget a man and endow him with their knowledge and maliciousness. He would know all there is to know and see all there is to see, both past and present. In this way he could rule over and control all mankind.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Celebrating All Hallow's Eve with Witches and Wizards...Part Two

Speaking of wizards and witches...Did you know that:

The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775

Cauldrons, often associated with Ceridwen (see part one), is said to symbolize the womb of mother earth. According to Celtic legend, dead warriors could return to life after a swim inside these mighty pots. Because they lacked the power of speech after their awakening, there were those who believed they no longer had a soul.  Nonetheless, these warriors were sent into battle where they would fight valiantly, until they were killed again.  (I suppose it's a good thing that nowadays, our magical minions just use them to brew their potions.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Celebrating All Hallow's Eve with Witches and Wizards...

Wizards and Witches and Ghosts, oh my! (Okay, that's enough of that...I swear...) Seriously, what would Halloween be without an adorable little poppet showing up at your door with black dress and pointy hat? After all, witches and wizards have been around since the most ancient of times, working their magic in every culture throughout the world.

John William Waterhouse - 1849-1917

Take the beautiful sorceress, Circe, for instance. In her forest home near the Adriatic Sea, she kept sailors as pets. After luring them to shore with her enchanting songs, she would turn them into pigs, bears and wolves. Not half bad when one considers what she did to Scylla, the nymph. Now Scylla had a shepherd lover that Circe desired as well. So, Circe created a spell that would rid her of her competition. She poured the emerald green liquid into the sea where Scylla bathed and then disappeared.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Clan Campbell and Their Ghostly Castles...

As I have already mentioned a time or two in my various blogs, there is plenty of Scottish blood, flowing through this author's veins. Blood that's traced through the Ferguson's, Forbes's, Campbell's, McCullough's, and Robison's, to name just a few. 

This, in all likelihood, is the reason my novel, "Spirit of the Knight," now in Audio (and you should hear Dawson McBride do his incredible Scottish Brogue) takes place in Scotland. Therefore, I find myself in a "ghostly castle" frame of mind once again. However, this time, I wanted to take a look at some castles that once belonged to my ancient Scottish ancestors. So, first up, the Campbell Clan.

Clan Campbell crest. With permission of

I pick up the Campbell line through my great-great grandmother, MaryAnn Campbell, daughter of Joel S. Campbell and Rachel Fuller—and please note, my Campbell ancestors immigrated to America well before the massacre at Glencoe, in the year 1692 (ahem). My immigrating ancestor, Robert Campbell, imprisoned In Canongate Tolbooth, was first banished and then transported to the New World. He arrived on the ship "Henry and Francis," September 5, 1685, imported as an indentured servant by Lord Neill Campbell.

The history of this ancient clan traces back to the thirteenth century and over those centuries they grew in power and influence. As a result they occupied at least eighteen different castles. As you can probably imagine, some of them are reputed to house a few ghosts.

Dunstaffnage Otter