Thank you for joining me. I started this Blogsite to talk about the writers who have inspired me, about books, writing in general and about the monsters and urban legends that keep our imaginations fertile. I hope you will enjoy what I have to share. You can get additional information about my books at debbieboek.com
Devil’s Gathering is now available on Amazon.com. I hope you check it out.
Happy Halloween! Here we are, almost at the end of October already, and I know many of you must be wondering how this holiday actually came about. The good news for you is that I am going to talk about that very subject today.
It all started with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain
(pronounced sow-in or sah-ween). It was the most significant of the four
quarterly fire festivals, taking place at midpoint between the fall equinox and
the winter solstice and was usually celebrated from October 31 to November 1.
Samhain, the world of the gods was believed to be made visible to humankind,
and the gods played many tricks on their mortal worshippers; it was a time
fraught with danger, charged with fear, and full of supernatural episodes.
Sacrifices and reparations of every kind were thought to be vital, for without
them the Celts believed they could not prevail over the perils of the season or
counteract the activities of the deities.
During this time, hearth fires were left to burn out while the harvest was gathered. After the harvesting was complete, celebrants joined the Druid priests to light a community fire, cattle were sacrificed and participants took a flame from the communal fire back to their own home to relight the hearth.
Because the Celts believed that the barrier between worlds
was breachable during Samhain, offerings were left outside villages and fields.
Tricks and pranks were often played but were blamed on fairies and spirits.
It was expected that ancestors might cross over during this time, as well, and Celts would dress as animals and monsters so that fairies were not tempted to kidnap them. Carved turnips called jack-o-lanterns began to appear, attached by strings to sticks and embedded with coal. Later Irish tradition switched them to pumpkins.
And, of course, there was the dumb supper. It was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth during Samhain and, for the dumb supper, the celebrants invited their ancestors to join in, giving the families a chance to interact with the spirits until they left following dinner.
Children would play games to entertain the dead while the adults would update the dead on the past year’s news. That night, doors and windows might be left open for the dead to come in and eat cakes that had been left for them.
So, how did this ancient pagan celebration become what we
know today as Halloween? As Christianity gained a foothold in pagan
communities, church leaders attempted to reframe Samhain as a Christian
In the 9th century, Pope Gregory declared it as
All Saint’s Day on November 1, that day was for honoring every Christian saint.
All Souls’ Day would follow on November 2 when the living prayed for the souls
of all the dead.
However, neither holiday did away with the pagan aspects of
the celebration. People continued to celebrate All Hallows Eve as a time of the
wandering dead, but the supernatural beings were now thought to be evil, and they
continued to appease those spirits by setting out gifts of food and drink.
All Hallow’s eve subsequently became Hallow Evening which then led
Many supernatural creatures became associated with All Hallows. In Ireland,
fairies were numbered among the legendary creatures who roamed on Halloween. In
old England, cakes were made for the wandering souls, and people went “a’
soulin'” for these “soul cakes.”
Halloween, a time of magic, also became a day of divination, with a host of magical beliefs: for instance, if a person holds a mirror on Halloween and walks backward down the stairs to the basement, the face that appears in the mirror will be their next lover. If I do try that, and don’t break my neck in the process, I’ll let you know what I saw. Particularly if it turns out to be Russell Crowe.
The modern-day Halloween traditions of wearing costumes and
roaming door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period when
it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with witches,
fairies and demons. Offerings of food and drink were meant to placate them.
As time wore on, people began dressing like the scary
creatures that they had been trying to appease and would perform antics in
exchange for food and drink. That practice was called mumming and eventually
evolved into trick or treating.
Even some of the most mundane customs derive from Samhain. Bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins, as well as the spiced cider of the day, all began with the original harvest holiday of Samhain.
Who doesn’t get a little chill along their spine when they
hear a strange noise on a dark, spooky Halloween night? Somehow, I think those
old customs are hard-wired in our brains, because I know of no other night all
year long when I most expect one of those ghosts or ghouls to cross through the
veil and appear before me. How about you?
In honor of the one year anniversary of my Scotland trip, I thought I would repost last years article about it. I truly love that country and can’t wait to go back again.
I’ve attached a couple more photos that weren’t in the original article which you can see here.
Some of my pictures show dreary, rainy skies but I didn’t want you think that is how it was my entire trip. The Edinburgh picture and the Hollyrood Castle pictures were taken the same afternoon. That’s how quickly the weather would change and suddenly become sunny and beautiful.
Thank for joining me on my trip down memory lane. It was the trip of a lifetime and I hope to get there again soon.
I usually share blogs about other writers or about creatures that fuel a writer’s imagination, but I’m going to do something different today. As you know I’ve written a series of supernatural thrillers, but that type of novel is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.
In case you were not aware of it, I began my writing career with two historical romance novels and I’m going to tell you a little a bit about the first one that was published, If Not For The Knight.
The story takes place in Northern England and begins in 1066, after William the Conqueror defeated Harold Godwinson and became the King of England, as well as of Normandy.
The original inspiration for my novel was a movie called The Warlord, which starred Charlton Heston, Rosemary Forsythe and Richard Boone. The movie is premised on a particular right that feudal lords were entitled to with subordinate women on their wedding nights, which was called Droit du seigneur or ‘Lord’s right’.
Although my story is nothing like The Warlord, it was the reason that I began doing the research that I did. I found that the time of the Norman conquest was filled with its own drama and I was able to incorporate some of what really happened into the imaginary world of my novel.
Those times were turbulent and King William used his knights to viciously put down any rebellions, even going so far as to imprison his own his half-brother, Odo. As part of his efforts to secure England, William ordered many castles built, including the Tower of London. Those fortifications allowed the Normans to retreat in safety when rebellions threatened.
The main character in If Not For the Knight is a Calder
Wyndym, one of the King’s knights. He is tasked to build one of those castles
in a small Saxon village. While doing so, he falls in love with a young Saxon
woman and creates an even deeper rift between the Normans and her fellow
villagers, who are still reeling from the violent overthrow of their country.
It is a historical romance novel but, along with the romance, there is a substantial amount of drama, intrigue, danger and, of course, a few battles. This book was originally published in 2005 but I recently republished it.
I will be releasing the sequel, When the Knight Falls, in October 2019 so I wanted to bring the re-release of If Not For The Knight to people’s attention, in case they hadn’t ever read it or, if they did when it first came out in 2005, to give them time reacquaint themselves with the characters before the sequel is released.
As a follow up to last month’s post, I wanted to share my
ghost-face photos with you. In case you missed my blog from June, I did a post on
some books that I’d read about cases investigated by the demonologists Ed and
In one of the books they explained that if you take a photo of a gravestone, you can sometimes see the face of the person buried there in the lichen on the stone. And I, of course, had to go to my local cemetery and check it out.
Can you see the face to the left upper side of the stone? To me it’s very obvious, but not everyone that I showed it to was able to see what I saw.
In this photo, I see a woman’s head in the upper part of the stone on the right, it looks almost like a cameo to me. For the stone on the left, I see the eyes, nose, mouth and chin of a man, do you?
After sharing my initial experience with my sister, she and I headed out to a different, and even older cemetery, to see what new faces we might find. We came across the above stone which, I believe, shows a man’s face very clearly. I hope you can make it out, as well.
This man’s face shows in the upper left-hand corner, his eyes and nose stand out the most to me. My sister and I came across many others, but it isn’t always easy to tell if you are really seeing something, or if you are making it up, a little like a rorschach inkblot.
Some faces, I could see when I first looked at the pictures, but when I went back, I could no longer locate a face. I was sure that I could see the face of a baby on poor Blanche’s stone but, now when I look at it, I can’t be sure what I’m seeing, if anything at all.
I only posted the photos, other than Blanche’s, that I thought the majority of viewers would be able to make out the faces on. I hope you can, and I would be very curious to hear your thoughts about this. If you take any photos of your own and are successful, please share them. I think it’s a very intriguing experiment.
It’s rare to scare yourself silly watching a creepy movie
and then find out that it is based on a “true” story. I believe we all know at
least some of the details of the Amityville Horror case but, who knew that A
Haunting in Connecticut, Annabelle and The Conjuring, among others, are based
on real cases that were investigated by the demonologists, Ed and Lorraine
I’ve recently discovered some books based the true accounts of their investigations. I’ve only read two of them so far, Ghost Hunters and Graveyard, but I found them delightfully creepy and very enjoyable.
Ed and Lorraine founded the New England Society of Psychic Research in 1952. The NESPR uses a variety of individuals in its investigations, including doctors, police officers, nurses and members of clergy, among others. Lorraine was a clairvoyant and medium who died on April 18, 2019. Ed was a self-taught demonologist who passed away August 23, 2006.
They investigated over ten thousand claims of hauntings or
demonic possession over their careers and were among the first investigators in
the Amityville case.
In the off chance that you are not familiar with it, on
11/13/74, Ronald Defeo, Jr. shot and killed his parents, two brothers and two
sisters in Amityville, New York. He testified at his trial that he heard voices
that told him to kill his family. The home was subsequently sold to the Lutz
family who claimed that there was a demonic presence in it so violent that it
eventually drove them out of their home.
Ghost Hunters has fourteen different “Case Files” where Ed and Lorraine discuss real cases that they investigated, including an interview about Amityville where they explain why they agree there was a demonic infestation in that house.
In honor of Annabelle Comes Home which is being released June 26, 2019 at a theater near you, I thought now would be a great time to introduce you to the Warrens and their experiences. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson will be reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine in the movie.
Interestingly enough, the Annabelle doll on the left in the
photo below, has already made an appearance in several Conjuring/Annabelle
movies. However, the real Annabelle doll that was possessed was the Raggedy Ann
in the photo.
I tried to find out why they used a different doll for the
movies and came up with three potential answers: 1) Raggedy Ann did not look
menacing enough and they wanted something more “horror movie dollish” or 2)
plush doll heads can’t spin or 3) copyright issues because it was an original
Raggedy Ann doll.
To be honest, I don’t think Raggedy Ann is quite so intimating as that other ghastly doll. Even if it wasn’t possessed, I don’t think I’d want it in my house.
Ghost Hunters was very interesting and educational. I even
came across some ghostly fodder for future stories for my Devereaux Chronicle
series. Even so, I actually enjoyed Graveyard more than Ghost Hunters. The
stories contained in that book all center around reported hauntings in
cemeteries. Many of the stories are focused on the Union Cemetery in Connecticut,
but not all of them.
As far as I’m concerned, any story set in a cemetery after dark, with strange noises and ground fog swirling around, is a story worth reading.
I may even head to the local cemetery and try to get a photo of a ghost with one of Ed and Lorraine’s graveyard tricks. You’ll have to read the book to see how it’s done or, if I am successful, I’ll be sure to post the instructions along with my photos and the details of my encounters with any supernatural entities.
No need to worry – this will all be done in the light of
day. No spooky cemeteries for me after dark. I do know my limitations.
Thanks for joining me and, if you like creepy, be sure to
check out the books about the cases investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren. Or,
at the very least, watch the movies.
The Griffin and the Manticore are fierce mythological beasts from the Middle Ages. Although they have little in common, other than body parts of a lion, when I saw pictures of one, it immediately made me think of the other and I wondered which of these amazing creatures would win should they ever meet in battle.
The Griffin has the body, tail and back legs of a lion and the wings, beak and talons of an eagle or hawk.
The Manticore has the head of a blue-eyed man, the body of a lion and the stinging tail of a scorpion. Other depictions of the creature have it with a tail of venomous spines, similar to porcupine quills, that it can fire from a distance, paralyzing or killing its victims.
Closely linked with the lion,
king of animals, and the eagle, king of all birds, the Griffin is the King of
all creatures. They are known for protecting treasures and, in ancient times,
they were a symbol of divine power and a protector of gods.
The beasts ripped flesh with their razor-sharp talons, and they were also known to fly their victims to great heights before dropping them to their deaths.
The Griffin fed its young with the meat of men and was strong enough to overpower an entire live ox.
In the 14th century, Sir John Mandeville described the creatures as being “more strong than eight lions and a hundred eagles”. But would that be enough to defeat the Manticore?
The Manticore was considered
one of the most forbidding of all mythological creatures. It had three rows of
teeth like a shark and a tuneful bellow, similar to a trumpet.
It would use its blistering speed to chase down its prey and slash them with its claws or sting them with its tail.
Can good triumph over evil?
In the Middle Ages, the Griffin became a symbol for fidelity because they were thought to mate for life and, if one partner died, the other would continue the rest of its life alone.
The Manticore had an insatiable
appetite for human flesh. At one point in the Middle Ages it was thought to be
a symbol of the Prophet Jeremiah, but that was short-lived.
Due to its ferocious manner and terrifying appearance, it became a symbol of evil and came to be known as an omen of evil tidings. To see one was to see a forthcoming misfortune.
I am currently revising my novel, If Not For The Knight, and working on a follow up to it. One of main characters, Calder Wyndym, has his coat of arms hanging on a tapestry in the Great Room of the castle, a golden Griffin on a deep red background.
The king of all creatures and the symbol of fidelity seemed more than appropriate for Calder’s coat of arms.
I can’t answer the question of whether or not the Griffin would defeat the Manticore in battle, although I’m thinking it probably could. I will leave it to your imagination and let you make that call for yourself.
Thanks for joining me. I welcome any comments or thoughts you might have on this or any of my other posts.
I’m taking a chance and changing the path of my life. It’s a little scary, but more than anything else, it is truly exciting.
I don’t generally talk about myself on these posts but this
is kind of a big deal and I want to share it. I gave my notice at my “paying”
job and my last day was May 3, 2019.
These last two weeks, my emotions have run the gamut and
I’m still decompressing. I’ve been there fifteen years and there are some wonderful
people that I am going to miss a great deal. I wish them all the best and I
hope we manage to stay a part of each other’s lives, even if it’s just Facebook
They gave me a sendoff with a very appropriate message on my cake:
My true passion is writing novels and now I can live my
life and still take advantage of this time to get more of them written. I have
so many stories in my head that are begging to be let loose.
The next challenge will be to figure out how to market them, which is not my forte, but I am willing to try and will have to learn to multi-task in whole new way.
The greatest value that I am gaining is time, something I think we all could use much more of. In addition to being able to relax and write, I’ll have more time to spend with family and with friends and with my girls, now 11 and 13, and who are very needy.
I have a dream and I will do everything in my power to make
it come true. It remains to be seen if
that will happen, but I’ll always be proud that I took that leap of faith and
gave myself the chance.
The third book in my Devereaux Chronicle series, Devil’s Gathering, will be released June 1, 2019. I hope you’ll check it out.