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.

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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

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.

 

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?

 

Spend the Night with Me (and George Noory)

Nobed by creepy pasta

DAHLINK. I know you thought tonight is the night you’re finally going to get to bed at a reasonable hour but you were sadly mistaken. You can’t miss tonight’s Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. Why? BECAUSE I’LL BE THE GUEST.

Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to eat your gruel and pour yourself a draught of ale before I’m on. I’m the second segment so that’s MIDNIGHT to 2PM PST.

TUNE IN HERE if you are a Coast Insider (you can also listen after-the-fact as a Coast Insider).

Click HERE to find your local station and tune-in live (and call in!)

We promise to keep you very, very awake.

 

Image: CreepyPasta 

What Are You Doing RIGHT Now? Get Thee to a Listening Device

Paratruth Radio Show, tonight at 8pm EST/5 pm PST. Me, a couple of freaky hosts, and a whole lot of banshees. And probably a vampire, a ghost, and a werewolf or two.

Listen here:

PARATRUTH RADIO LIVE NOW!!

T-minus 20 minutes or so. old-radio

A Paranormal Magician, Banshees, and Me: UnReal Radio this Sunday, August 10th

werewolfYou can feel it, can’t you? It’s subtle but it is there. I know you may be battling the heat of summer and not believe me, but trust me: Halloween is creeping in. Banshees lurk and vampires dance through the dead of night. Get in the mood for all things bizarre with Joe Diamond, host of UnRealRadio and me this SUNDAY, AUGUST 10th, 6-7:30 PM PST.

You can listen live via this link:

UnRealRadio

or this one:

WLIP

(Kenosha, Wisconsin)

Join us as we discuss the Beast of Bray Roard, Banshees, and all manner of creatures of the night !

 

Swim Through the Murky Depths with Me and Jim Harold

Get out that mP3-pod-listening-device-computer-radio machine and listen to this lovely podcast. Then, throw off your shoes at the sands of a beach and go for a stroll while staring out at the sea and pondering the existence of mermaids. Not near the sea or a lake or any large body of water. Mores the pity on you! Go draw yourself a bath or fill up a bucket to soak your feet. It makes it much more fun to talk of mermaids. Last ditch, do the dishes with headphones on.

 

Click the link below to listen to my interview with Jim Harold of Paranormal Podcast. And you might want to check out his other interviews too, because they rock in all manner of freakery and supernatural spectacularness.

 

http://content.blubrry.com/paranormalplus/Among_The_Mermaids_with_Varla_Ventura-The_Other_Side_91.mp3

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Oddsalon: Learn Something Weird! And a Secret About Me

goblin shark oneIf you have not yet heard of OddSalon, you should click the link  immediately after reading what I have to say. There is a secret announcement hinted at but not really announced at the bottom of this post.

Oddsalon is a new parlor-style forum that hosts twice monthly salons about weird things, or perhaps better stated, a weirder view of the ordinary including lost history, secrets, crimes, hoaxes, tricks, enlightenment, disasters, and so much more.The shared brain-child of three gal pals who are contributors to Atlas Obscura, Death Salon, and The Order of the Good Death, they cull creative ideas, topics, and people from around the SF Bay Area for a truly entertaining and enlightening evening.

Oddsalon: Fake! Tues., Mar. 25th, 2014

This one includes a wide variance of interpretaions of the word “fake” including the topic of mermaids–real, hoaxes, or a little of both? The speaker has (with my permission) used my book Among the Mermaids as major source material. And she’s terribly entertaining. And if you go, and stick it out, you just might learn something fake about me.

Think you know the secret? Attend the OddSalon and then reply to this post with the answer to this question: What was the last slide of the night? If you are right, you’ll win a signed copy of my mermaid book (or another book I wrote if you prefer).

The event is in San Francisco at the DNA Lounge.

Get Freaky With Me and the Citizens Awareness Vanguard: Jan. 16th

Tune in, my prettys! THURSDAY, Jan. 16th to Citizens Awareness Vanguard radio for a strange creature chat with Chris & Mark. I’ll be on LIVE. Show starts at 9 PM EST/6 PST. Grab a glass of something strong and lock the front door.  Creatures of the night are afoot!

Listen by clicking the following link:

CAV RADIO SHOW 

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