The Hopskinville Goblins

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Not all goblins are from a different century. Case in point, The Hopskinville Goblins:

In 1955, eleven members of two families living in a rural farmhouse between Kelly and Hopskinville, Kentucky reported numerous encounters with unidentifiable creatures. In addition to lights and odd noises heard by witnesses nearby, the families claimed that they were terrorized by little creatures similar to goblins or fearsome gremlins. They were described as being three feet tall, thin, with long arms and claw-like hands, and with pointed ears. They were silvery in color and were said to float, trudge as though underwater, and then make sudden appearances outside windows and doorways. Although at first two members of the party had attempted to shoot and then find them, eventually they retreated to the house. The creatures did not enter the house (the family dog was hiding underneath in terror) but they continued to appear throughout the evening. Ultimately the families, including screaming children, made a midnight dash to the police station. Here’s where it gets weird: the families returned to the farmhouse with the sheriff and twenty of his men. Evidence of struggle and damage to the house was obvious, but the officers reported seeing a strange green glow at the edge of the woods beyond the property. They interviewed neighbors who affirmed odd noises and lights, and even the police saw strange lights and heard odd noises while at the property. After the police left, the creatures returned and continued to harass the family until the break of day, when they disappeared, never to return again.

Do you believe in goblins? 

Excerpted from my new book: Fairies, Pookas, Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm, available April 1, 2017.

Preorder at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound 

Excerpt copyright Varla Ventura/Weiser Books 2016.

post image by Francisco Goya via wikimedia commons 

 

The Occult Power of Goats

Do you believe in the occult intellectual power of goats? An American journalist, born in the 1830s, William Wirt Sikes did. Or at least he believed it was necessary to record this belief along with other fascinating “old ways” of the Welsh people as he traveled there as consulate, and never left.

goats

Many of us have an immediate association with goats and Baphomet or another horned god, seen cavorting with witches at the sabbat, and dancing around the bonfire at all hours of the night. (Yes, please). But Sikes is talking about a more specific relationship: that of goats with the Gwyllion: female fairies with “frightful characteristics, who haunt lonely roads in the Welsh mountains, and lead night-wanderers astray.” These wild goblin women (which remind me a bit of the banshee) lurk and loom in craggy mountains and behind the shadows of boulders. The Welsh word “gwyll” Sikes tells us, is used “to signify gloom, shade, duskiness, a hag, a witch, a fairy, and a goblin.”  In this excerpt from his greater work, British Goblins, we learn the story of a goat who did not transform into a man but rather a beautiful maiden who seeks to avenge a man’s anger.

Sikes writes:

Among the traditions of the origin of the Gwyllion is one which associates them with goats. Goats are in Wales held in peculiar esteem for their supposed occult intellectual powers. They are believed to be on very good terms with the Tylwyth Teg [the common Welsh name for all fairies. V.V.] and possessed of more knowledge than their appearance indicates. It is one of the peculiarities of the Tylwyth Teg that every Friday night they comb the goats’ beards to make them decent for Sunday. Their association with the Gwyllion is related in the legend of Cadwaladr’s goat: Cadwaladr owned a very handsome goat, named Jenny, of which he was extremely fond; and which seemed equally fond of him; but one day, as if the very devil possessed her, she ran away into the hills, with Cadwaladr tearing after her, half mad with anger and affright. At last his Welsh blood got so hot, as the goat eluded him again and again, that he flung a stone at her, which knocked her over a precipice, and she fell bleating to her doom. Cadwaladr made his way to the foot of the crag; the goat was dying, but not dead, and licked his hand—which so affected the poor man that he burst into tears, and sitting on the ground took the goat’s head on his arm. The moon rose, and still he sat there. Presently he found that the goat had become transformed to a beautiful young woman, whose brown eyes, as her head lay on his arm, looked into his in a very disturbing way. ‘Ah, Cadwaladr,’ said she, ‘have I at last found you?’ Now Cadwaladr had a wife at home, and was much discomfited by this singular circumstance; but when the goat—now a maiden—arose, and putting her black slipper on the end of a moonbeam, held out her hand to him, he put his hand in hers and went with her. As for the hand, though it looked so fair, it felt just like a hoof. They were soon on the top of the highest mountain in Wales, and surrounded by a vapoury company of goats with shadowy horns. These raised a most unearthly bleating about his ears. One, which seemed to be the king, had a voice that sounded above the din as the castle bells of Carmarthen used to do long ago above all the other bells in the town. This one rushed at Cadwaladr and butting him in the stomach sent him toppling over a crag as he had sent his poor nannygoat. When he came to himself, after his fall, the morning sun was shining on him and the birds were singing over his head. But he saw no more of either his goat or the fairy she had turned into, from that time to his death.

Learn more strange tales and exciting folklore in my new book, Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm. Pre order it by clicking the links below:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound 

photo of goats: Shawn Clover via flickr creative commons

Got Ghosts? I Want to Hear from You

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Good evening.

Since my new book is about to get inked, I simply cannot sit still and have already begun working on another! The next one is focused on ghosts, paranormal parlor games, tricks and history, seances and forgotten lore. And I’d love to hear from you! Do you have a ghostly encounter you’d want to share with me? Contact me at varlaventura AT gmail dot com or comment on this post to let me know you are interested in sharing.

Stay wicked.

Exploring the Bizarre Tonight!

Tonight! Thursday, December 29, at 10 pm EST I’ll be joining Tim Beckley and Tim Swartz to discuss otherwordly vampiric beings (and who knows what else) along with the renowned author Rosemary Ellen Guiley. That’s right, folks, not only do you get not one, but TWO Tims, you also get Rosemary Ellen Guiley and me. Come on, get your freak on!

TONIGHT on Exploring the Bizarre, KCOR Digital Radio.

Click HERE to listen.

 

A Christmas Creature Extravaganza with Chris Fleming

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Join me and Chris Fleming on his show Spirit Talk as we share weird Christmas stories and Christmas traditions and creatures from around the world, from the benign to the terrifying. The perfect thing to listen to while you’re wrapping all those presents!

Chris is a fascinating man who has had paranormal encounters and experiences since a child. He is a medium, sensitive, paranormal investigator with a long standing career on television and radio. It was a delightful show to be part of and I hope you enjoy it!

Click HERE to listen!

 

image: By John Bauer – Illustration for The Boy Who Could Not Be Scared by Alfred Smedberg in the anthology Among Pixies and Trolls, Public Domain

A Christmas Ghost of Dickens’ Past

Happy Holidays, you weirdos! I’ve got a little present for you. I recently got together with my esteemed publisher for Weiser Books Radio Hour, to read to you from a little tale from Charles Dickens’ A Haunted House.

THE HAUNTED HOUSE

Charles Dickens’ Christmas ghosts were rampant in his 1894 pamphlet Christmas Stories, a holiday supplement to Âll Year Round, a publication for which Dickens served as editor. The Haunted House is both a fictional house where like-minded guests and ghosts gather and a literary gold mine, where Dickens’ favorite authors of the day gathered to tell their particularly assigned ghost stories. Dickens created the setting and each room of the Haunted House was assigned to one of his favorite writers (and to himself).

Wilkie Collins, born in London in 1824, met Dickens in 1851. Shortly after this, both men acted together in Edward “Dark and Stormy Night” Bulwer-Lytton’s play Not So Bad As We Seem. This “set the stage” for what would become a lifelong friendship. Like Dickens and most of Victorian England, Collins had a healthy relationship with the idea of ghosts. That is to say, he believed in them—at least as a literary device. He wrote dozens of plays, short stories, and novels, the most famous of which was called The Woman in White, which was later adapted for the stage and even modern film.

Wilkie Collins was assigned “The Ghost in the Cupboard Room,” occupied by one Nat Beaver, a salty old merchantman who has some nervous ticks brought on by a most unexpected specter of his past. Join me, to find out what haunts this sailing man; who else was in the house; and to hear a tale of terror (and bondage) on the high seas.

Click HERE to listen.

Merry Meet!

 

 

Saturday Night on Spirit Radio

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Join me with hosts Lynne M. Nickerson and Willy Hassel on their show  Spirit Radio – the Paranormal Experience to discuss mermaids, elves, imps, vampires, banshees, werewolves and whatever creature should appear in the glorious hour we spend together. You may recall I was on this show a few months back and we found we’d only scratched the surface of what fun and wild things we could share.

This Saturday night 9:00 – 10:00 PM E.T., Sunday 2:00 – 3:00 AM G.M.T. on WSCA 106.1 FM Portsmouth, NH Listen live worldwide at www.wscafm.org

Click here to learn more: www.spiritradiotheparanormalexperience.org

 

A Midnight Encounter with Solaris Blue Raven of KCOR

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Greetings! This Friday, December 9 at midnight EST (9 pm PST) I am honored to be a guest on Hyperspace with Solaris BlueRaven on the KCOR Digital Radio Network. Solaris is an author, host, public speaker, writer, editor, certified second degree Black Belt not to mention well-renowned psychic, mystic and alchemist. In other words, she’s a badass and I can’t wait to be in her company.

Please tune in to Hyperspace this Friday at the above time to hear our discussion of vampires, banshees, strange creatures of the night, creepy Christmas traditions and whatever bizarre things organically sprout from the melding of our dark minds.

Click here to listen live.

Photo of Vintage Philco  Transitone (Flying Wedge) Table Radio by Joe Haupt via flickr 

Something Wicked This Way Comes: An Excerpt from My New Book!

I’ve a little surprise for you tonight. My newest book, Fairies, Pookas, Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm is due on April 1st. You can pre-order it now at Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, or at any local bookshop. If the title is not enough to convince you, perhaps a little excerpt from the intro will entice you.

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Johann Heinrih Füssli’s (Henry Fuseli) Titania and Bottom, c. 1790. Image courtesy Wikimedia commons.

From the introduction to Fairies, Pookas, Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm

If you are usually a fearful person, who likes to barricade your door and hunker beneath the bedclothes each night, worried about what might rattle the locks or slip through the cracks, you should not undertake to read the book that follows this introduction. Many of the stories in this book harken back to a different era: one without the niceties of today. A time when most homes did not have electricity, where candlelight failed to chase away all the night shadows, horses were the main mode of transport, and the fairies and goblins of olde still roamed the earth in large numbers. Today, we can leave a night light on or we can listen to the soothing sounds of ocean waves on our iPods lull us to sleep. We fear burglars or worse; our nightly news is more terrifying than some gentle old tale. Or is it? If you think fairies are not merely delicate beings who follow you about on gossamer wings, you are in for quite a shock: The Kingdom of the Fairy is one of vengeance, thievery, trickery, and wild creatures who wish nothing more than to steal your child, drown you in the bog or spoil your best Sunday shoes. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. You have been warned.

Before we head deeper into the shadowy forests and craggy caves of the Fairy Kingdom, I should begin by explaining what I am referring to when I say fairy. The Irish or Gaelic word for fairy is sidheóg or sidhe, (shee). The bean-sidh (bahn-shee) is a wild and fearsome member of the fairy kingdom signified by her mourning like wail, but can also refer to any female fairy spirit, and daoine sidhe (deenee-shee) can be any fairy creature. The Dutch, German and French words are all similar: fée. In Russian, the phonetic translation is feya and Italian or Latin, fata all of which give root to the modern word for fairy, faerie and fae. They are known as the Good People, the Little People, the Wee Folk. Around the world there are terms for magical beings who dwell in a land not far, far away, but rather one that co-exists or overlaps with our “regular” world. Fairyland. It can be accessed on purpose by witches and seers, on accident by drunken fools, and without effort by children. Faeries can be called upon to help as they can be implored to bring harm. Their trickery is legendary and perhaps this is the origin of the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Under the domain of fairies one might find all manner of loathsome, fearsome or irresistibly naughty beings. They love to test human nature. Hobgoblins, sprites, bogeys, pixies, changelings, pookas, goblins, bonga, duende and elves, all dwell in the Kingdom of Fairies. They creep about at cross roads, they hide beneath leaves. They are the twig-snap behind you on a walk in a moonlit forest, the rattle at the window that you can only hope is just the wind. They are seen with a drunken eye and with a sober nod, a fit of laughter and a scream of terror. The hobgoblin will clean your house for a saucer of milk but the banshee will destroy every cup and saucer in your cupboard with a vengeance stronger than a hurricane.

Read more when the book comes out!

Preorder at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound 

Excerpt copyright Varla Ventura/Weiser Books 2016.

Oh How We Love to Hear You Scream

Doll hangs from bathtub in a bloody mess

Kick off Halloween on this eve of All Hallow’s Eve with a little ramble down a shadowy path. Who knows what will scream, reach out or come looking for you while you are distracted listening to the radio? We cannot say, nor can we guarantee your safety. What we can be sure of is a wild romp through a world of bizarre creatures, freaky facts and all manner of vampires, banshees, werewolves and other strange things. So keep this freaky Halloween thing going and tune in to hear Dave Cruz of Beyond the Strange Radio Show talk with me about whatever frightening things come to mind. And if you listen carefully, you just might hear a story I’ve never told before on air. It’s quite fearsome, and haunts me to this day. If there’s time, we may take callers so get ready with your own terrifying tales.

Listen live here. Tonight, October 30 at 7 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST.

Just click the website and the player will be going.

Later it will be archived into a podcast so you can relive all the scary stuff in the light of day. But you really should listen now. What else are you doing on a Sunday night, besides sewing your kid’s Halloween costume?