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 

 

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!

 

 

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 Melding of the Paranormal Minds: Tonight! Live!

Greetings you little elves and gnomes and hobgoblins, ye’ merry creatures of the night. Tune in tonight at 6 pm PST/9 PM EST for a delightful hour of the paranormal persuasion. I’ll be a guest on Paranormal Minds Radio.

Click here to listen live.

You never know where the conversation will lead, although I can guarantee you will probably want to double check your locks after. Varla Promo

Review – The Book of the Bizarre – Freaky Facts and Strange Stories

Here is a fun review of The Book of the Bizarre!

Of Magical Creatures: A Pre-Preview

You may have noticed the question or the requested comment that I’ve asked you, dear readers, to answer for me as part of this Bizarre Giveaway. What is your favorite magical creature? Dear Varla, why-ever do you want to know?

I’ve been working on a series of e-book only books for my publisher, Weiser Books, on the subject of Magical Creatures and we are very pleased to pre-announce that one creature in particular is making it to print early next year. And more will likely be on the way. So your comments are serving as more than a mere factoid–they are helping me help the publisher pick from my menagerie of banshees, werewolves, mermaids, phookas, and other crazy, creepy, cute, crawling creatures of mythical and magical proportions. So stay tuned, weigh in, and write to me about your favorite freaks! And in the meantime, buy my digital books!! Image

The Bizarre Book Giveaway, One Week Left

Well, technically a week and a day but that doesn’t make much of  a header now does it? Just a little reminder for those of you who haven’t entered the contest yet! It ends the 31st of May.

How to Enter*:

  • Subscribe to THE BLOG OF THE BIZARRE {+1 point}
  • “Like” the Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC Facebook page (they do a TON of giveaways weekly, so you may want to check them out regardless!) {+1 point}
  • Follow me, @VarlaVentura on Twitter {+1 point}

*Comment on this post indicating which of the above you’ve done (I’ll be checking, so no cheaters!) and tell me what your favorite magical creature is. Mad for monsters or gaga for goblins? Cuhrayzee for banshees or wild for werewolves? I wanna know! Check out my Magical Creatures eBook collection for inspiration.

Bizarre Book Giveaway!

Attention fans of the freaky and the free! My publisher, Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, and I are teaming up for a briliantly bizarre giveaway. Here are the devilish details:

Opens May 2, 2012 – Closes May 31, 2012, United States only

The Prize:

If you already have a copy of my book(s) I can sign and send to ANYONE in the U.S. So if you want it to say “Dear Aunt Eleanor, You are weirder than me Love, Varla and Mike” I am totally willing!

How to Enter*:

  • Subscribe to THE BLOG OF THE BIZARRE {+1 point}
  • “Like” the Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC Facebook page (they do a TON of giveaways weekly, so you may want to check them out regardless!) {+1 point}
  • Follow me, @VarlaVentura on Twitter {+1 point}

*Comment on this post indicating which of the above you’ve done (I’ll be checking, so no cheaters!) and tell me what your favorite magical creature is. Mad for monsters or gaga for goblins? Cuhrayzee for banshees or wild for werewolves? I wanna know! Check out my Magical Creatures eBook collection for inspiration.

I’ll then go through all the entries and choose someone at random as the winner. Remember, the more points you have the more times your name will be entered, so you’ll have a better chance at the prize.

Good night, and good luck!

May Day! May Day!

Happy May Day!

Often associated with the distress when a vessel or vehicle is in trouble, the call “mayday! mayday! mayday!” derives from the French word m’aider which means “come help me.” Lesser known is the call “pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan!” which means there is an urgent situation on board. Though one may think it is a derivation of the word panic it actually comes from the French word panne which refers to mechanical failure or breakdown of any kind.

But May Day is so much more than a distress call. May Day celebrations exist throughout the world, but are especially prominent in the U.K. and Western Europe. In England and Scotland the celebrations around or near May 1st relate directly to the pagan Beltane (in Ireland Bealtaine) and are associated with the Rites of Spring—specifically fertility. The celebration of new life and birth at the time of year when the land is waking up, flowers pushing through the sodden hills, still takes place today with the crowning of the May Queen and the erecting of the may pole. (You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what a giant pole in the middle of a lush field wrapped in beautiful ribbons represents.) Bonfires are lit, merry is made.

Prominent also in Germany, Walpurgisnacht (Witches Night!) celebrations are usually held on the Eve O’ May: bonfires and the wrapping of the Maibaum—the may pole—are included along with dancing, drinking and general MAYHEM! Finns make special donuts and lemonade to mark the occasion.

Many early immigrants from Germany and England as well as other parts of Europe such as France and the Netherlands continued their traditional celebrations in the settlements of Early America. Without the community and established towns of Old Europe their traditions were often more family based and including the weaving of May Baskets and the giving of flowers. If you read this collection of short stories by Charles Montgomery Skinner, which includes the title work The May-Pole of Merrymount, you will gain a bit more insight into how some of these wild nights of fun and mayhem were translated into Puritan settlements of America. A downer? Yeah, a little. But worthy of a May Day read. Plus there are freaky stories of witches and old creepy men in caves that you probably shouldn’t think about, but can’t help yourself.

Charles Montgomery Skinner (1852-1907) was a native New Yorker with a literary palate as diverse as the community I grew up in. Perhaps best remembered for his work on Walt Whitman, “Whitman as Editor” which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1903, his works ranged from urbanization, gardening, the economy, communism, natural history, and folklore. This excerpt from his first collection of folk tales is from the greater work Myths and Legends of Our Own Land which was first published in 1897– a massive volume of stories from across the settled cities and wild plains of America. I have selected a few of my favorites for this collection, stories that I think represent the varied tastes of our author. The legend of a witch in the Catskills to the Maypole of Merrymount, we find a unique view on the lore that founded the United States. Skinner also wrote Myths and Legends Beyond Our Borders and Myths and Legends of Our New Possessions and Protectorate (lands we had pillaged) both of which were published in 1899.

Who Do Voodoo? You Do! Or at least, Lee does.

Do you watch Secret Circle? I came to it a bit late to the game, but I am officially addicted (again!). Yes, I’m a teenager deep down inside.

As you may have seen in one of the most recent episodes,  the always-mischievous Faye and the always-trailing-behind Melissa have started spending more and more time in Faye’s new love interest, Lee’s, voodoo shop. While Faye insists that Lee is a fake, that none of his “voodoo” powers are actually real, she’s started realizing that there might actually be something to Lee’s odd voodoo spells and totems when he effectively cast a spell to draw out Cassie’s dark magic a few episodes ago.

I was struck by a warning Lee gave about Voodoo practitioners, about his Devil’s Spirit drug dealing friend, Callum, and about the nature of voodoo and the dangers of dabbling in something you don’t understand. Because lord knows Varla loves to dig into things she doesn’t understand! If it is freaky and sneaky or ghoulish and foolish, I can’t seem to help myself. And not to totally freak you out but my editor at Weiser Books found out about my Secret Circle fetish (and blossoming interest in Voodoo) and sent me this super cool book by Denise Alvarado. The truth is much of the history and practice of Voodoo is shrouded in superstition and false truths, and Alvarado’s The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbookis an excellent resource for anyone looking for authentic Voodoo and Hoodoo root0work and magic.

Not for the faint of heart, this book is the real deal. It has money spells and love spells, and quite a few curses and hexes for good measure. This is not white magic! But it is full of amazing ideas and incantations. I love the author’s website and her crafts.

Check it out!