The Folklore of the Jersey Devil

Jersey-devil 2Wherever you go, folklore and urban legends lie in wait.  Whether it’s a mythical creature or a curse or a ghost, lore of this sort is scattered from city to city, town to town.  In the state of New Jersey there is said to be a creature that roams the Pine Barrens, and it is known as the Jersey Devil.

According to legend, in 1735 Mother Leeds — a resident of the Pines — was pregnant with her thirteenth child.  In some stories she cries this out when she find out she is once again with child, in others it is during labor, but according to legend Mother Leeds raises her hands to the heavens and cries: “Let this one be a devil!”  Whichever version you believe, she goes into labor on a stormy night surrounded by midwives while her husband and children were in another room. The child was born — a normal baby boy — however, the baby began to transform, twisting itself into a hideous creature.  The tiny child was no longer so small as it grew in size, horns and talons and bat-like wings sprouting from his body as feathers coated his flesh. Finally, the child’s eyes began to glow red as they grew into its snarling face.

The child turned on its own mother, killing her, and then went after the midwives.  It flew at them, ripping them apart — some lost their lives, others were maimed — and once it was done it went to the rest of the family and killed most of them.  As quickly as it had attacked, the creature fled up the chimney before the few survivors’ eyes, demolishing it into rubble, and escaped into the Pine Barrens where it has dwelled ever since.

Jersey-devilAnother version states that the creature fled after its birth and returned every night to visit Mrs. Leeds, though she turned it away until it came around no more.  Whichever story you believe, it all leads back to the Devil being loose in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Of course, what kind of creature would it be if it didn’t have stories of being spotted?  One of the most famous accounts comes to us from the beginning of the 19th century when a Commodore Stephen Decatur — a naval hero — was testing cannon balls when he spotted a strange creature flying across the sky.  He fired — and hit — the creature, but it continued to fly away. Others have seen the creature since, continuing into modern times with the most recent repost coming to us from 1987 when a german shepherd was found gnawed on and surrounded by mysterious footprints that could not be identified.

Whether you believe that the devil killed its human family or visited them, it all comes down to that curse Mrs. Leeds cried out.  The child was, in fact, the devil, and can still be found eating livestock and pets, stalking the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. One thing is for sure: stay away from the Pine Barrens at night, or the Jersey Devil just might make an appearance.

 

For more reading on the Jersey Devil (sources):

http://www.pinelandsalliance.org/history/devil/

http://theshadowlands.net/jd.htm

https://weirdnj.com/stories/jersey-devil/

The Myth of Ammit

Ammit

Every culture has their own version of the “underworld” — whether it’s Hell or the Elysian Fields or Diyu.  In Egyptian mythology you are given a chance at a life in the field of reeds, where you can spend the rest of eternity in peace.  That is, of course, unless Ammit devours your unworthy soul.

Ammit — or Ammut or Ahemait — was the Egyptian goddess of divine retribution personified.  However, she was not worshipped as a goddess. Instead, her image was thought to ward off evil.  Generally depicted as a demon with the head of a crocodile, the torso of a wild cat, and the hidquarters of a hippopotamus, Ammit was called the “devourer of souls.”

ammit 2She was usually found in the Halls of Ma’at to await the judgement of the deceased, though she was also shown standing beside the scales of justice.  Ammit would only devour the souls of those who did not measure up on the scales, and though she was called a demon, she is not evil. In fact, the person who was accused of being unworthy was given the chance to defend themselves before being judged to eternal damnation.

Though you were safe if your heart weighed just about even with the feather on the scales, many feared Ammit’s devouring of their soul — also known as the second death.  However, if you led a decent life you were spared from eternal damnation. Ammit was not an evil entity in the end but, more of a keeper of order in the underworld of Egyptian mythology and a reminder to the living to lead a good life. 

For more reading on Ammit (sources):

https://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/ammit.html

http://www.egyptianmyths.net/ammut.htm

The Folklore of Glamis Castle

glamis 2Have you ever wondered about what goes bump in the night?  Ever seen the spooky spectres who haunt the halls or heard footsteps on the floor above you when you know no one is there?  As Halloween draws near, we hear about ghosts and spirits, demons and imps that terrorize our homes and attack the everyday person.  We will not be talking about those today, however, and instead we will be focusing on some famous ghosts that haunt the Glamis Castle all the way in Scotland.

Quick history of the castle itself: it was originally built during the fourteenth century and sits beside the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland and has been home to the Lyon family since then.  Which brings us to our ghosts. Over these centuries, the castle has become the home to several famous ghosts, with many accounts by eyewitnesses who have come face-to-face with them — in a manner of speaking.

Our first famous ghost is the woman without a tongue.  No one knows who she was, however many people have reported seeing her wandering around the grounds, pointing to her disfigured face, or even staring out of the barred castle windows.  Next up is out young servant boy who has been spotted sitting by the door of the Queen’s room on multiple occasions, quietly waiting. Though not much is known about either of these spirits, we do have two very famous ghosts that have been known to roam these halls.

glamis 3The grey lady is reportedly the ghost of Lady Glamis — or Lady Janet Douglas.  Lady Glamis was burned at the stake in 1537 supposedly because she was a witch, accused of murdering her husband and planning on poisoning the King — King James V of Scotland.  Though she was accused of poisoning her first husband, she was acquitted and so married her second husband. However, nine years after her husband’s death in 1528, she was accused of planning to murder to king.  She was innocent, of course, but that didn’t stop the king from torturing her family and servants until she was convicted, resulting in her being burned at the stake on July 17,1537. Now, people claim to see the grey lady as she runs up the stairs in the clock tower, supposedly leaving a trail of ash in her wake.

The final of our famous ghosts is the ghost of Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford — also known as Earl Beardie.  The story of our Earl goes like this: supposedly he was cruel man who tended to drink heavily, and — according to legend — he had been visiting the castle at the time and returned, drunk and shouting, looking for someone to play cards with.  However, it was the Sabbath, and since no one would take him up on his challenge, he shouted that he’d play the Devil himself. Well, soon after there was a knock at the door, and standing there was a tall man in a long, dark coat — though some stories claim he wore a dark, hooded robe.  He asked if the Earl still needed someone to play cards with, and together they locked themselves in a room in the castle and proceeded to play cards into the night. Well, following this, loud swearing and shouting began to come from the room, and a servant peeking through the keyhole to see what was going on was blinded in that eye and was sent away, accused of spying.  However, that was the last time the Earl was seen — the man had disappeared, along with Earl. It is said that to this day, he is still playing cards in his secret room, shouts echoing from within. It is also said that children who stay in the castle wake in the middle of the night to see a dark figure standing over them, watching them sleep.

glamis 1We might not know what exactly lurks in the darkness, but when we hear these stories we are reminded that some people are never forgotten.  Whether it is a trail of ash or the screaming shouts of a drunk Earl, there are reminders of the past everywhere. That is, if one is only brave enough to stay around after dark and find them.

For more reading on the ghosts of Glamis castle (sources):

https://www.rd.com/culture/most-haunted-places-world/

https://www.hauntedrooms.co.uk/glamis-castle-angus-scotland

The Myth of the Bunyip

Bunyip_1890Australia.  Home to twenty-one out of the twenty-five most venomous snakes in the world.  A magical place where deadly creatures from sharks to box jellyfish to spiders roam free.  And yet, despite all of these known creatures, there is a myth of one that is far more terrifying living in the swamps and lakes and rivers.  Its name is the Bunyip.

Bunyip is the aboriginal term for ‘devil’ or ‘evil spirit.’  It is an aquatic Aboriginal creature of myth described differently in several regions — under different names until European settlers used the more popular of them — and ranging in appearance from an ox to a hippopotamus to a manatee with a long neck.  Though the image changes, one fact that all the legends have in common is that the Bunyip is said to be massive — a giant man-eater.

The Bunyip is known for its monstrous looks, his cries that echo, and the fact that it has killed several people definitely adds credence to the legend.  However, not all agree that the Bunyip is harmful. In fact, he is sometimes described as being a protector of wildlife.  This benevolent image is portrayed in popular culture where there exists a series of children’s books featuring the Bunyip.

bunyip 2.jpgThough the Bunyip can be either a monstrous man-eater or a benevolent protector, the legends seem to have some facts in common.  If you find yourself traversing near bodies of water in Australia, remember to keep an eye out.  For there may be something worse than the deadly bugs and snakes lurking about. One thing is for certain: if you hear its echoing cries or see a massive creature rise up from the depths, run.

For more reading on the Bunyip (sources):

https://aminoapps.com/c/thewitchescircle/page/blog/aboriginal-lore-the-bunyip-devil-spirit-of-australia/8qv1_pjSmuW5YWz1WpgLErK2XMR851GGP

https://mythology.net/mythical-creatures/bunyip/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/bunyip

 

The Folklore of the Kelpie

 

kelpie

Every culture has some form of animal lore, from the fox to the wolf to the coyote.  Stories can be found telling tales of shifters who prowl around searching for their next victim.  In Scotland, they have such a creature, and it is known as the Kelpie.

The kelpie of Scottish folklore is a water horse that has ties with the realm of faerie.  It is considered malevolent, however, and could generally be identified by its constantly dripping mane.  In most cases, the kelpie appears as a beautiful horse standing near or in running water, and awaits weary travelers, hoping to entice them onto their saddles.  Though this is where it becomes deadly, as it is said that once touched, magic causes the skin of the rider to adhere to the kelpie, thus making it easy for the kelpie to drown its victims.  Of course, if that wasn’t enough to make you cautious, the kelpie also has the ability to shift, and when it does it chooses the form of a beautiful woman wearing green who entices men into water, drowning them of course.

kelpie 3

As with all stories of faerie creatures, there is also advantages in captureing one as the kelpie is said to possess the strength of ten horses and have the endurance well beyond that.  However, in order to control it, one must have control over its bridle. Otherwise there is no stopping this creature whose tail — when smacked on water — sounds like a thunderclap and causes floods to make it easier to drag their victims beneath the surface.  

kelpie 2Be wary travellers, when traversing the countryside alone.  Keep your eyes peeled for a saddled horse dripping water. For it may not be a horse but a kelpie in disguise, waiting to drown its next unsuspecting victim.

For more reading on the kelpie (sources):

https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/riding-seas-kelpies-and-other-fascinating-water-horses-myth-and-legend-006170

https://mythology.net/mythical-creatures/kelpie/

https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/The-Kelpie/

October Submission Roundup

Themed Calls and Markets of Interest

sub oct 1

Machinations and Mesmerism

Ulthar Press is looking for strange, gothic, and fantastic fiction in the manner of E.T.A. Hoffman for an anthology edited by Farah Rose Smith.

Word Count: 2,000-5,000
Deadline: December 24, 2018
Payment: 2¢/word + contributor copy

 

sub oct 3Flame Tree Publishing

This publication is looking for urban crime. “Stories for this anthology will have ‘gritty murders on the streets of London and Paris, horrors in dark alleys, as well as many more scenes from urban crime that elicit a dark curiosity. Think classic authors such as Edgar Wallace and E.W. Hornung.’” Accepting reprints.

Word Count: 2,000-4,000
Deadline: October 14, 2018
Payment: 6¢/word

Flame Tree Publishing

This anthology is looking for gothic stories for their Gothic Fantasy short story series.  “With handsome young men who never grow old, and the strangest of relatives appearing from dark corridors and long shadows, the frenzied imagination of the American Gothic is a fertile theme for this new anthology in the Gothic fantasy short story series.” Accepting reprints.

Word Count: 2,000-4,000
Deadline: October 14, 2018
Payment: 6¢/word

Tin House

This publication is looking for short stories for their horror issue. “From the mundane frights of everyday life to the truly macabre, if it makes your hair stand on end, we want to hear about it.  Send us your scariest stories, eeriest essays, and most petrifying poetry!”

Word Count: Up to 10,000 words for prose, up to 5 poems
Deadline: October 15, 2018
Payment: Not Specified

sub oct 4.jpgTell-Tale Press

This publication is looking for stories for their Winter Holidays issue.  Stories could be fantasy, horror, mystery, and science fiction and themes include Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Winter Solstice, Chinese New Year, and any other winter holiday.

Word Count: 500-5,000 Words
Deadline: October 15, 2018
Payment: $5-25

sub oct 5

Spring Song Press

This anthology is looking to publish stories that address the “Steam and Lack” steampunk theme in some way, and must have a speculative element.  They are looking for “clever, heroic characters, and fantasy, rather than straight science fiction.” Prefer to publish “clean” noblebright stories.  ““In steampunk, magic and steam-powered technology combine in a setting that offers both possibility and danger. Victorian-inspired and European settings are the most common, but we’re open to stories set in other steampunk settings as well, real or fantastic. The steampunk setting must be apparent in the story, but the story does not have to depend upon the steampunk elements.”

Word Count: 1,000-10,000 words
Deadline: November 1, 2018
Payment: 1¢/word

sub oct 6.jpgUnlocking the Magic

This anthology is looking for fantasy stories for their new publication.  “In fantasy, we read about how people with mental illness are more susceptible to magic, closer to breaks in reality, more likely to be able to see the unseen. These stereotypes are harmful and contribute to keeping people from seeing the good in getting help, taking their meds, or talking to someone.This anthology is about changing the narrative and telling stories of strength and perseverance, of getting help despite the darkness. Not the myth that getting help will kill creativity and magic. … I want stories that show what can be accomplished when we take care of ourselves and seek help. … I want to read realistic portrayals of mental illness in magical worlds.”  They are looking for urban fantasy, epic fantasy, historical fantasy, steampunk, and any other fantasy with a noblebright theme.  No science fiction of horror, though horror elements are welcome.

Word Count: 3,000-6,000 words
Deadline: November 1, 2018
Payment: $300/story + royalties

Tales from the Canyons of the Damned

This market is looking for dark science fiction, horror, and slipstream.  “Think of Canyons as a literary Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, or Outer Limits — it’s Netflix’s Black Mirror.

Word Count: 500 – 5,000 Words
Payment: 3¢/word for the first 5000 words, capping at $150

sub oct 7.jpg18th Wall Productions

This publication is looking for short stories expanding on H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. They want stories that show the entire world’s response to the invasion.

Word Count: 4,000-20,000 words
Deadline: January 20, 2019
Payment: Royalties

Primordial

This market is looking for stories that are thoughtful and intelligent about alien life that has biology and evolution at its core.  Could be anything from first contact to invasion/infestation stories, or even about fatal misunderstandings between species.  Articles accepted.

Word Count: 1,000-16,000 words for fiction; 1,000-2,000 words for articles
Payment: 1¢/word for fiction; $20 for articles

sub oct 2Strangehouse Books

This publication is looking for stories written by anyone who identifies as a woman.  From the editors: “There are monsters in every woman’s life. And while maybe not ALL monsters are so bad, I want you to tell me about the dark and twisted ones. Give me protagonists who take no shit. Show me women who save themselves. Does the hero slay the beast, or is she the monster? All types of monsters, protagonists, and antagonists are welcome here. I am looking for speculative fiction containing strong prose with character-driven stories that convey powerful messages. I am particularly drawn to the beautiful grotesque, gothic elements, the macabre, and poetic prose, but I welcome all well-crafted stories to be submitted.”

Word Count: Minimum 2,000-8,000 Words
Deadline: Opens November 1, 2018 and will remain open until word count is met.
Payment: 1¢/word

The Myth of the Amphisbaina

amphisbainaSnakes appear throughout mythology in different forms, from the snake gods of Egyptian mythology to the world serpent Jormungand of Norse myth.  However, in Greek myth snakes played many roles, and one such mythic snake was the Amphisbaina.

According to myth, the Amphisbaina was created when Perseus flew over the Libyan Desert with the severed head of Medusa and her blood dripped down to the sands below.  This snake was two headed, one on each end, and had scaled feet like a chicken and feathered wings. It was considered a formidable adversary, especially since it is said that the snake could charge in either direction, and was described as being deadly poisonous; one bite and the wound would not heal, leaving the victim to die.

pictures-amphisbaenaHowever, even though the Amphisbaina was considered deadly, it was also sought out for its healing properties.  Some have speculated that its dried skin was a cure for rheumatism while others say that if the skin was worn around one’s neck it could cure a common cold.  Another medicinal property tied with this creature states that the wearing of one of these — alive — around a pregnant woman’s neck would ensure a safe pregnancy.  The Amphisbaina wasn’t just sought out for is healing properties. According to myth, it was also said that if the meat of the creature was ingested it would act as an aphrodisiac, attracting many lovers to the one who ate of it.

We always remember snakes in myth to be guardians or gods, monsters or tricksters.  Amphisbaina was created from the blood of a creature, was given wings and feet and dual heads, but it is not a monster.  Instead, the Amphisbaina is a great example about the dual nature of myth — a creature to be feared, and a creature to be revered.bibliothc3a8que-nationale-de-france-lat-6838b-folio-32v

For more reading on the Amphisbaina (sources):

https://www.mythical-creatures-and-beasts.com/amphisbaena.html

http://www.theoi.com/Thaumasios/Amphisbainai.html

Matthews, John, and Caitlin Matthews. The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: the Ultimate A-Z of Fantastic Beings from Myth and Magic. Harper Element, 2009