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

Wicked Wednesday: Goblin Sweep

Wicked cool, it’s wicked Wednesday again. You know what really bothers me? Goblins. They are so annoying. Here is a great “humane” way to get rid of one. And then, get yourself some cash so you can spend it on glittery things that the goblins might have taken otherwise.

From Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery (used with permission) :

Goblin

While you may consider goblins to be generally troublesome spirits that you would not want to invite into your home, it is possible that one will take up residence without being invited. If you leave the goblin small gifts, you can often win his favor and good behavior. To rid your home of an unwanted goblin whose mischief is becoming too much, strew flaxseeds across the floor of your kitchen several nights in a row. The goblin will feel compelled each night to pick up the flax, seed by seed, keeping him from committing any trickery. After a few nights, he’ll be so frustrated that he will move on to another house where he can get back to his dastardly ways unimpeded. A female goblin is usually referred to as a “hag” or “crone.”

Money Draw Sweep

When you need a little extra cash to cover your expenses, and you’ve tried everything else to no avail. Try a money draw sweep and watch for unusual opportunities.

-1 part allspice

-1 part cinnamon

-1 part nutmeg

-Cornmeal base

An Interview with Reginald Bakeley~Author of Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop

After recently reading and reviewing Reginald Bakeley’s Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop, I scored a very interesting interview with this man that loathes the fairy kingdom. He believes that fairies are actually pernicious, malevolent, and dangerous. Famed gnome-hunter, fairy-cattle herder, and goblin-banisher, Bakeley shares what he’s learned over years of adventures with these “unnatural” creatures in his book. I thought I’d catch up with him and get some questions answered, in case any of you were as uninformed as I once was about the fey.

Which member of the Fairy Kingdom do you believe to be the most dangerous, the most “malevolent meddler?”

It’s a tricky question, that one, because each sort of fairy has its own way of mucking things up. I’m tempted to point the accusatory finger at the pixie, but they strike only whilst one is trying to enjoy a walk out-of-doors. There’s another, more pernicious sort, who dwells much closer to home. I’m speaking of the common house brownie. He seems innocuous enough, doesn’t he? A little manikin bopping around of an evening filling all the coal scuttles and sewing the buttons back on shirts. But that’s his game, see? The brownie’s a social climber, and that sort of behaviour in a fairy is incredibly dangerous. If allowed to ingratiate himself with you through his wheedling industriousness, the brownie will invariably convince you that he—a little fairy and nothing else—is as good as any human. From there it’s a short journey to the brownie’s assuming an attitude equal if not superior to the householder. Master becomes servant and servant becomes master and the whole world’s gone topsy-turvy. It’s insidious behaviour, and given the relative saturation of the brownie population throughout Britain—and in areas of New England in the Colonies as well, I’ve learned—many, many people need to be aware of it.

Have you ever had your own home inhabited by a brownie?

I must admit that, yes, my ancestral home of Bakeley Hall in Pembrokeshire has been seized by a brownie lodger more than once during my life there. Rural homes seem to attract the blighters more readily than homes in town, and of course the brownies thrive anywhere there is plenty of tea and laundry. Bakeley Hall is such a place, and so I should never be surprised to discover evidence of nocturnal brownie activity. All the same it’s damned disconcerting to get out of bed and put one’s foot squarely into a large bowl of steaming porridge garnished with cream, walnut halves, and pomegranate seeds. If it’s ever happened to you—and I hope it hasn’t—you’ll know what I mean. Brownies will fill one’s entire house with bowls of porridge unless one strikes back immediately.

Did you simply drive him out, or were you able to use his ambitions against him and trick him into midnight housecleaning?

 

I’m not a man to toy with the Faerie realm. I prefer the direct approach, frontal assault. In the case of beating back a troublesome brownie infestation this usually means going round to the stationers or the Savile Row tailors, for means of brownie-abatement I detail in my book. It’s never an inexpensive operation, but what price can we put on piece of mind?

You know the perils of being involved in the fairy world, but your knowledge has allowed you to dedicate your life to hunting these pernicious creatures. If you could, would you give up your Second Sight and live a “normal” life?

 

In an instant, yes. I’ve often thought of taking up cheese-rolling.

You write that the changeling egg of a goblin once turned a young girl’s legs backwards. What is the strangest curse you’ve ever encountered?

 

Ah yes, poor Ettie Ungerslud. We can draw strength in our campaign against the Fairy Kingdom every time we think of her and how she always wears very full skirts these days. Hers is an unfortunate curse, but as for the strangest, I’ve been surprised and dismayed in recent years to find instances of what might be categorized as “half-curses.” Instead of a classic fairy curse that turns a victim into a goose, for example, we see people touched by the fairies who now exhibit mere gooselike behaviour. Offenses which under usual circumstances would have blinded a fairy’s victim now produce a blindness which comes and goes. My research is as of yet inconclusive, but I’m beginning to suspect that these “half-curses” are coming about either because the fairies’ magic is weakening or people are growing a stronger resistance to the fairies’ meddling ways. One might take either of these possibilities as good news, except for the fact that there are no tried-and-true methods for reversing half-curses. It used to be that an angry fairy might whisk away a lover to a desert island, and the grieving partner remaining would have to travel there to rescue him or her. But what’s to be done when only a portion of the lover is transported? It’s most distressing, and the growing number of half-curses I’m seeing can hardly be called progress in our fight against the fey.

I’m working on a book about mermaids, and I noticed that in your youth, you had a tragic love affair with a mysterious woman. Was she a mermaid?

 

Who? You mean Cordelia? I’d never thought of it that way. Hmm.

In Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop, you enumerate the benefits of flower-fairies in the garden and fairy livestock on the farm. What are some of the other benefits of discovering fairies?

 

Those two instances are special cases, for the most part. Flower-fairies and fey livestock are inherently useful in their own, limited ways, but broadly speaking the discovery of a fairy is beneficial only in that it gives one an opportunity to squash it, thereby reducing the fey population and lessening the trouble they bring to mankind. There are quite a few edible fairies flitting about, and some are downright scrumptious. I’ve got a weakness for pansy-blossom sprites on toast, for example. As with any sort of foraging, though, it pays to know precisely what you’re looking at. Eat the wrong fairy and anything could happen. I haven’t yet found a field guide thorough enough for using when hunting edible flower-fairies. I’d suggest beginners stick to gnome hunting, as those fellows aren’t as easily mistaken for anything else.

What is the best way for a novice to begin gnome hunting?

 

As with any straightforward countryside pastime, it’s best to find others who’ve been at it for a while. Follow their lead. If you weren’t raised in a family boasting a long line of gnome hunters, though, it’s easy enough to take it up on one’s own. I present it all in a very clear manner in my “On Gnoming” chapter in Goblinproofing, and I’ve also produced a small pocket guide strictly on the subject, available through Wonderella Printed and a few sympathetic outfitters here and there.

I learned the unsettling facts about trolls from Goblinproofing—their incredible strength and massive appetites and the single comforting detail, their weakness for solving riddles. In case any of us should have the misfortune to run across a troll, do you have any tried-and-true riddles to offer for our protection?

 

A troll doesn’t stand a chance against a clever riddle. Its faculty for logic inhabits the lowest rung on the biological ladder, cozying up with that of the Mollusca Class Gastropoda, which incidentally is a favored food of trolls. Nearly any riddle will do, but you must deliver it with conviction. Clap your hands once loudly and shout, “What ho, troll! Answer this riddle and I’ll fetch a rowboat full of snails for you to eat!” That will capture his attention. It’s no bother if you haven’t the foggiest notion where to find a rowboat, or snails. You won’t need either, because the troll won’t ever answer your riddle. He’ll either sit there thinking over possible answers until the sun comes up and turns him to stone, or he’ll strain his feeble brain until the pressure explodes it. It’s worth sticking around to watch either eventuality, just for the spectacle of it all, but I don’t recommend keeping your shooting coat once it’s covered in bits of troll. The stains—not to mention the stench—simply will not come out.

What would you recommend for an anti-fairy emergency kit?

It’s funny you should ask that, because I’ve been assembling several such kits for my local rambling chapter. So far I’ve thrown in a flask of whisky, a cat’s eye marble, some doll’s house furniture, an iron nail, an alarm clock, and an O.S. map. Anyone who reads Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop will appreciate the assemblage.

You can buy the book now, wherever books are sold. Check out this link:

Amazon, B&N, or Wonderella

 

Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop~A Review

Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop

I flipped open a page of this irresistible, yellowed little relic and found myself up til midnight stuck to the pages. I can’t help sharing some of Reginald Bakeley’s wisdom with those of you who are unfamiliar–

In the foreword, Clint Marsh describes Bakeley “was a man who, unlike other writers on the subject, had no wish to go further into Faerie, but was determined to fight tooth and nail to get out.” Okay, intrigued.. Naturally, I wanted to know how to goblinproof right away. I was totally caught off guard by the detail of this little book:

“Aside from the peril presented by their eggs, which they do indeed begin to lay after a short while, goblin hens are notorious for their tempers, which are nearly as quick as their razor-sharp beaks.”

Bakeley recommends making sure your chicken coop is not built on a ley-line (a channel of energy which runs along the surface of the earth) and re-routing the ley-line if you do have the misfortune of settling over one. A goblin can be tricked into moving on or, in the best of cases, simply freed from the coop to allow him to complete his natural migration. Simply keeping the coop neat and tidy deters new goblins, who prefer a dark, dank mess. But these Faeries are no casual matter:

“Nothing spoils a carefully prepared breakfast like the cracking of a changeling egg. Whilst so many of these dangerous ovoids look and feel perfectly normal, they possess repulsive qualities seldom noticed until mealtime.. the Ungerslud family of Shrophsire was the unlucky recipient of a goblin curse via changeling eggs, for the morning after the eggs were eaten, the lot of them awoke with their legs n backwards, as they remain today. Young Ettie Ungerslud went on to become a source of local pride by clinching the National Backwards Hopscotch Championship later that year, but surely you can imagine that life is not all fun and games under such a curse.”

Never fear, aspiring chicken coopers! After a quick perusing of the chapter, you’ll have all the information you need to protect yourself and you can “go to bed early, my happy friend, and rise at dawn to gather eggs from your freshly goblinproofed chicken coop.” I did just that, minus the chicken coop, and had a ridiculous dream about joining the town council so I could advocate for getting revenge on the goblin that turned my legs backwards.

Read my interview with Bakeley here:

Bakeley Q&A

But the book now at Amazon or B&N or wherever books are sold!

Who’s That Knocking on my Coffin Lid? Vampires, Magical Creatures Part Three

Lovers of True Blood, Dracula devotees, and Twilight tweens: I offer you the ancient vamps of my Magical Creatures series!

These are the stories that Stephenie Meyer and Anne Rice read when they were but wee babes, suckling on their mothers (or the  neck of their mother). These are the groundwork stories about vampirism, both horrific, romantic, and psychic.

Currently available exclusively as e-books, these are found volumes of forgotten lore (many a quaint and curious tale!) and cover the realm of such creepy and cool beings as goblins, werewolves, vampires, banshees, mermaids, and phookas, to name but a few.

(If the response is positive on these little e-beasts, I’ll be expanding them into book form!!)

Horror devotees will recall the story of the infamous gathering at a lake house outside of Geneva, Switzerland in the summer of 1816 where a small party celebrated the settling darkness by reading ghost stories aloud to one another. Present were the host, Lord Byron, and his guests: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley) and her sister, and Lord Byron’s physician—John William Polidori. At the prompting of Byron, pens were set to paper to write ghost stories of their own. Here the groundwork was laid for what would become Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a Modern Prometheus. Shelley himself wrote Fragments of a Ghost Story, and Byron wrote something called Fragment of a Novel. This “fragment” became the basis for Polidori’s The Vampyre, A Tale—the first vampire novel published in English, some seventy years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Also in the vampire collection, are two lesser known tales by Bram Stoker: Burial of the Rats and Dracula’s Guest. Both were part of a collection of stories that Stoker had been working on but never published. After his death, his widow decided they were fit for print and submitted them to his publisher in 1914. And Théophile Gautier’s Clarimonde is by far one of the most controversial vampire stories from the early 19th Century. A would-be priest begins to doubt his path and his God when he meets (by chance?) fair Clarimonde. I won’t give it all away but this is some necromantic romance at its best! And finally, George Sylvester Viereck’s 1907 short story The House of the Vampire was the first novel to introduce psychic vampires.

You can purchase these little digital gems following the links below:

The Vampyre: A Tale by Varla Ventura and John William Polidori (Amazon) (B&N)

The Burial of the Rats by Varla Ventura and Bram Stoker (Amazon) (B&N)

Dracula’s Guest by Varla Ventura and Bram Stoker (Amazon) (B&N)

Clarimonde by Varla Ventura and Théophile Gautier (Amazon)

The House of the Vampire by Varla Ventura and George Sylvester Viereck (Amazon) (B&N)

Another Feast for the Freaks

As we all roll out of bed on this post-Thanksgiving Monday morning, possibly still clutching our guts in regret of the pie-we-ate-that-lasted-too-long, we can have a nice snack from an entirely different table. Dive into the juicy tidbits on this wonderful site The Magical Buffet. Lots of fun things, but of course you know I am shamelessly linking directly to my interview with the founder Rebecca Elson.

http://themagicalbuffet.com/blog1/2011/11/27/10-questions-with-varla-ventura/

Varla

Magical Creatures

Today marks the launching of a new venture, so get out those lady luck candles and send your good vibes to Varla! Weiser Books has created a series of electronic books and yours truly is the official curator of the Magical Creatures and the Paranormal Parlor series. I’ve been combing dusty stacks and virtual archives to find lost and forgotten freakery for you lovers of the creepy, the curious, and the so old-its-new modern era of digital books. Each story or book features an intro by me. Not only are the stories interesting but the “back-stories” and author’s bios lend an element of appeal that can’t be planned! Think Lord Byron’s physician and a children’s author does horror, for starters…

Magical Creatures includes fairies, goblins, pookas, mermaids, mummies, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, devils, elves, and more! Basically all of the creatures you might find if you were to open up the cobwebby closet of my mind. I am completely and utterly thrilled and honored to be working on such an exciting project. It truly is a Brave New World!!

These books are available today on Kindle and will be available this week on other digital readers. I’ll send links when those go live!