Fairy Tale Contest First-Place Winner: A Pooka

First place winner, Barry Huddleston.

I was a bit startled by the response when I first got it in my inbox as I was not expecting a poem as the fairy tale. But I couldn’t help but love this take on the fairy tale, and the inherent talent Mr. Huddleston obviously possesses. I also loved the idea that someone’s guilt, the fear, anticipation and possible sin of meeting her lover would cause hallucinations. Hey, we’ve all been there, ammiright?

Something twisted in the shadow of the trees as she made her way down the woodland path. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew she was being watched. In the far distance, beyond the dusky silhouettes of trees she could see the inky blackness of a pond and beyond that,  the castle lights. Suddenly, she felt something grab at her ankle. Stunned, she turned and saw…

A paw, a white paw, it was a rabbit and nothing more
or so she told herself as she dashed to her bedroom door.
A glimpse of white or was it the evening mist?
Was it the fear of a rabbit or the fear of her tryst?

Again she drew up her courage and sought out her rendezvous
in the cool misty forest where the apple trees grew.
Was that her lover among the greenwoods or a Pooka in disguise?
She couldn’t tell and discretion belongs to the wise.

Once again she dashed for the safety of her room.
Was she afraid of a rabbit, the forest, or the gloom?
Pooka was that you, are you testing or tormenting me?
Did you place fear in my heart and cause me to flee?

A whisper replied in the still of the night,
“don’t seek out love until you feel it is right.”

copyright Barry Huddleston, 2017. Re-publication requires express permission of the author.

Daytime Talkies! with Dr. Pat

I’m so excited to be a guest on this show, and it’s actually during the daylight hours. Join me as I discuss Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings with the lovely Dr. Pat Baccilli. As a bonus, copies of the book will be given away during the show!

DATE: Wednesday, April 12

TIME: 11 a.m. PST/1 p.m. CST/2 p.m. EST

Listen here.

And learn more:

Dr. Pat Show

Wild Thoughts of the Fairy King: Ghost Chronicles, Tonight!

Join me and the lovely hosts of Ghost Chronicles, Ron Kolek and Anne Kerrigan, as we gather round the radio-machine to discuss all manner of creatures real and imagined. Tune in live tonight, Wednesday, March 22nd at 7 p.m. EST to talk about my new book, Fairies, Pookas and Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm.

click HERE to listen

Stay strange and preorder below:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound 

 

Leaping Leprechauns: A Bit of Lore

Leprechauns are also known by more than pots of gold in the Fairy Kingdom. The leprechaun can be identified by the sound of his knocking or tap-tap-tapping upon his little shoe bench, as they are cobblers and the sound is that of their tiny hammers making elfin shoes. Fairies prize shoes and fine clothes far more than gold. If you can trap a leprechaun—some say green velvet and fine wine do the trick—the location of all that hidden gold could be revealed. But be aware that simply looking away from the ’chaun for a moment can allow them to vanish back into the green grass or woods where you happened upon them. The leprechaun is believed to be a perpetual bachelor elf who successfully staves off scores of proposals from all manner of feminine fairy, although it could simply be that he prefers the solitary life rather than that he has an actual disdain for the feminine ilk.

Victorian-era Irish writer and folklorist David Rice McAnally Jr. amassed an entire volume of Irish legends, Irish Wonders, upon which William Butler Yeats and other scholars draw quite heavily. While little is known about McAnally, we do know he was a clergyman who heard many stories including accounts of pookas (you’ll find one of my favorites in the chapter on the subject). He wrote one of the best extended descriptions and accompanying stories of the leprechaun to date, which I have excerpted from here.

McAnally describes the leprechaun, or leprechawn, as a creature of neither evil nor good, but of rather mixed quality, the child of an evil father and a degenerate fairy of a mother. (Apparently she spent one too many nights knocking back the whiskey with a pooka). The best way to spot a leprechaun is to know what one is looking for. For physical description, McAnally’s account is unmatched. He writes:

He is of diminutive size, about three feet high, and is dressed in a little red jacket or roundabout, with red breeches buckled at the knee, gray or black stockings, and a hat, cocked in the style of a century ago, over a little, old, withered face. Round his neck is an Elizabethan ruff, and frills of lace are at his wrists. On the wild west coast, where the Atlantic winds bring almost constant rains, he dispenses with ruff and frills and wears a frieze overcoat over his pretty red suit, so that, unless on the lookout for the cocked hat, “ye might pass a Leprechawn on the road and never know it’s himself that’s in it at all.”

If you’re curious about leprechauns and how to catch one, you’ll enjoy a selection of stories I’ve chosen for my new book, Fairies, Pookas and Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted RealmYou’ll hear the story of a man who was sure he could outsmart a leprechaun; the tale of a man who was ostracized from his village for not revealing the supposed golden store/indentured leprechaun (though it’s more likely his fortune came from hard work and a decided distaste for The Drink) and an epic tale of fairies and leprechauns on Halloween. All this, and much, much more.

If you’d like a copy, order now at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound 

And watch this site for a giveaway contest coming up soon!

Excerpt and text copyright Varla Ventura/Weiser Books 2016.

photo: Nathan in San Diego via flickr cc

 

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

trolls

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

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.

johann_heinrich_fussli_022

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?

 

A Midnight Encounter with Solaris Blue Raven of KCOR

vintage radio

Greetings! This Friday, June 23 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 fairies, pookas, changelings, elves 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 

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