GRIFFIN VS MANTICORE

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.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek.blog
debbieboek.com

LEAP OF FAITH

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 stalking.

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.

Hootie
Hokie – using a recliner like no one else can.

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.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek.blog
debbieboek.com

WHEN THE CHUPACABRA CALLS

Half-human, half-vampire creature; an escaped alien hybrid or simply a dog with the mange? Seems there are an infinite number of possibilities for what a Chupacabra really is.

I intended to have the Chupacabra star in my sequel to Devil’s Bait, but that didn’t work out because I needed the setting to be in the northeast and, although there was one reported incident in New Jersey, our friend, the Chupacabra, seems to prefer the warmer weather in the southwest, perhaps because it has no fur.

There are conflicting descriptions of them, some say they are the size of a small bear with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail; others that it is a hairless dog-like creature.

The word Chupacabra is Spanish (chupar, “to suck” and cabra, “goat”). Reported incidents of these creatures vary somewhat, but they seem to be fond of draining the blood from small animals, preferably goats. 

It has been suggested that the Chupacabra might be a genetically modified vampire bat, or a half-human, half-vampire beast. The victims, usually goats and chickens, are said to be drained of all their blood but otherwise left intact. Some reports of the creature indicate two large protruding fangs, others suggest three large claws on each foot.

Some reports have been discounted as simply dogs or coyotes that were infected with the parasite Sarcoptes scabiei (the itch mite), whose symptoms would explain the Chupacabra features of little hair, thickened skin and a rank odor. It would also greatly weaken the animal, which would make attacking livestock more feasible than chasing down wild game. But it doesn’t explain the blood-sucking aspects.

Newspaper reports of the creature go back as far as the 1950’s. In the 1970’s, in addition to reports of a “round-headed, hairy-tailed and large-eyed creature”, there were reports of possible UFO sightings which led to the speculation that these creatures were some type of aliens.

Some people have even suggested that the alien creatures were cross-bred with our own animals by scientists at NASA, and the Chupacabras are actually escaped experiments gone wrong.

Some sightings have been verified as canids afflicted by the mange. Biologists and Wildlife Management’s official position is that the Chupacabra is an urban legend, but I’ll leave it to you to decide what you think it may be and where it came from.

With so many different descriptions and all the speculation about these beasts, I had to find to a way to include the Chupacabra into one my stories. I’m happy to say that he will be making a guest appearance in my soon to be released novel, Devil’s Gathering. I hope I’ve done him justice.

Thanks for joining me.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek.com

FEET, FEATHERS AND FISH

Creatures can come for us from anywhere, land, air or sea. I thought you might find it helpful if I point out a few that you might not be familiar with. It is always best to be prepared, don’t you think?

In the novel that I am currently working on, there are paranormal hunters who are participating in a contest and the teams needed some “monster” names. That is how these three first came to my attention and since they aren’t very well-known monsters, I thought that I should acquaint you with them, as well.

We’ll start with a land creature, more specifically, the Windigo, or Ice Cannibal of the North. It is one of the most feared creatures in Native American lore. It has been depicted as something akin to a werewolf; a man-eating skeletal giant or even a 30’ to 80’ foot high ravening ice monster with sweeping antlers.

Some say the Windigos are a giant race of cannibals, but there is no common consensus as to how they come to be. Some think they are humans who became cannibalistic due to starvation; and others that they are just people who have become possessed by the Windigo spirit, turning them into a cannibal.

The Windigo may appear as a monster with some characteristics of a human or as a spirit who has possessed a human being and made them become monstrous. It is historically associated with murder, insatiable greed, and the cultural taboos against such behaviors.

Now, we head up into the air with the Micmac Culloo. I am going to be straight up about this and let you know this creature is included mainly because I like the name. I wasn’t able to find very much information about it, other than that it may be half-avian and half-human.

This creature is derived from the legends of the Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia. The Culloo was a most terrible creature, a winged monster that could dispose of any animal at a single swallow.

The Culloo often haunted the dreams of Native Americans because of its propensity to carry off young children.

And last, but not least, the Globsters, and I have to admit that I was intrigued by this name, as well. There is nothing frightening about the Globsters themselves, they are dead when they wash up ashore on beaches all across the world. I think the most frightening thing about them is that they are not always identifiable and, therefore, there could be live ones swimming out in the oceans just waiting for us.

A globster or blob is an unidentified organic mass that washes up on the shoreline of an ocean or other body of water. A globster is distinguished from a normal beached carcass by being hard to identify, at least by initial untrained observers, and by creating controversy as to its identity.

The giant squid was an actual Globster back in 1896, when the first one washed up on a beach and scientists realized that it was a new species.

Stay safe and watch out for the monsters, wherever they may be hiding. Thanks for joining me and I’ll see you next time.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek.com  

A LEGACY TO BE SHARED

“You’re betraying your whole life if you don’t say what you think – and you don’t say it honestly and bluntly.” That is one of my favorite Charles Krauthammer quotes.

In case you aren’t familiar with him, Charles Krauthammer was born 3/13/50 and became paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 23 in a diving accident. After fourteen months recovering in a hospital, he returned to medical school and became a psychiatrist.

He left that field and became a columnist and political commentator because he “felt that history was happening outside his door”. In 1987, while writing for the Washington Post, he won the Pulitzer Prize for “witty and insightful columns on national issues” and he was on the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001 – 2006.

I’m not sure how I first discovered Charles, but one of my favorite ways to kill time during my lunch hour at work on Fridays would be to check out his column. He stated the facts, used historical references and let you draw your own conclusion, breaking complex issues down in such a way that even I could understand. Even though I didn’t always agree with his opinions, he was able to justify them and sometimes gave me a completely different way to see a particular issue.

I ran across his last book, The Point Of It All, a couple of months ago and I’ve enjoyed reading this compilation of his articles as much as I did his other, Things That Matter.

Both of these books have excellent articles in them, although I’ll be honest, I had to pull out my dictionary more than once (somehow, someway, I will use kleptocrat in one of my novels, what a great word). Charles doesn’t just talk about politics, he talks about life and baseball and chess and culture and space travel, anything and everything. I love hearing his insights and feeling his passion through his words.

I have no interest in chess or baseball, and not nearly as much as I should in political and global affairs, but I read every word in every article and took away some insight from each one.

I also truly enjoyed finishing one of his articles regarding a current relevant issue, only to discover that he wrote those words ten, twenty or more years ago. Some things just don’t change, do they?

Charles was an Orthodox Jew and one my favorite articles in The Point Of It All is “Just Leave Christmas Alone” where he states “The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless”. That article was published December 17, 2004. 

Charles Krauthammer died on June 21, 2018. He was in the process of compiling the articles for his last book when he died and his son, Daniel Krauthammer, did a great job with the final edits, adding not only a wonderful introduction, but also a copy of his touching and heartwarming eulogy.

Charles wrote his last article on 6/8/18 and I wanted to share a part of that with you:

“I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life – full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life I intended.”

I wanted to bring Charles to everyone’s attention because if you haven’t had a chance to read any of his writing before now, I hope you take the time to check out one of his books, or even just try and find some of his articles online. I think there is something in them for everyone. I miss him, but I imagine that wherever he is now, he’s letting them know exactly what he thinks about it, honestly and bluntly.

Thanks for joining me,

Debbie
debbieboek.com

MISTLETOE – WHO KNEW?

In honor of the holiday season I tried to find something festive and yet a little creepy and stumbled onto some intriguing information about Mistletoe. 

Mistletoe is parasitic and unable to complete its life cycle without an attachment to a host. The plant we know today as mistletoe has no roots of its own. What it does have is tiny extensions called holdfasts that grip onto the bark of the host plant. They also serve as a sort of an umbilical cord and suck the nutrients from the host.

Mistletoe seeds are coated with a sticky material called viscin. They are spread by birds and when they are excreted and dropped onto a branch, the viscin sticks to the wood and eventually hardens and attaches the seed to its new host.

Mistletoe species grow on a wide range of host trees, some of which experience side effects including reduced growth, stunting, and loss of infested outer branches. A heavy infestation may deform the host and can create a dense mass that resembles a broom or a bird’s nest and is called a Witch’s Broom.

Mistletoe has always been considered a magical, good luck plant. Lovers who kiss beneath it will have lasting happiness and carrying a sprig on your person will ensure good luck, protection and fertility. Hanging it in the home was supposed to protect it from disease, lightening, werewolves and having your children switched with faerie changelings.

Druid elders performed rituals in which they harvested mistletoe from oak trees with golden sickles. It was collected under a waxing moon phase and then fed to animals to guarantee their fertility. As part of the rite, a pair of white bulls were sacrificed, and if prayers were answered, prosperity would be visited upon the villages.

The Festival of Saturnalia is one of the most well-documented ancient Roman celebrations of the Winter Solstice. The week-long revelry included exchanging of gifts, lots of food and wine, dancing and music. Slaves got the week off work, courts were closed, and all kinds of debauchery took place. This festival honored Saturn, an agricultural god. To keep him happy, fertility rituals took place under the mistletoe. Today, we don’t quite go that far under our mistletoe, but it is one explanation for how the kissing tradition originated.

During medieval times mistletoe was again recognized for its medicinal properties and appears in several folk remedies. To ward off demons, twigs of mistletoe could be hung in bundles over a door. In some countries, springs were placed in the stable to protect livestock from local witches. Mistletoe was also known to rural people as the best cure for barren women; in fact, mistletoe seems to have been a cure-all for any problems with conception, because early societies were baffled by its method of propagation. In the Middle Ages, mistletoe wasn’t just thought of as an aphrodisiac of sorts, but as a tool to keep witches from their homes and barns. A sprig hung from a doorway would do just fine.

Throughout the Middle Ages, mistletoe was banned by the church because of its association with fertility and all of the fun debauchery that goes with that. As a substitute, holly was suggested. Even as late as the 20th century some churches did not allow people to wear mistletoe to services.  

Mistletoe retained its lusty reputation, however. During the Victorian era, public displays of affection were largely frowned upon, but if you were standing under the mistletoe, you were going to get kissed.

Mistletoe was used in spells to attract love, for protection, for luck while hunting, for forgiveness and reconciliation, to increase sexual potency in men and to help conceive.

It can be burned to banish unwanted spirits, laid across the threshold of the bedroom to banish unpleasant dreams, hung in the home to attract love and drive away negative influences and carried as a general protective amulet. It’s wood is also useful for making wands and other ritual tools.

Pity that I didn’t learn about all of Mistletoe’s interesting properties until now or perhaps I might have been able to make good use of it in my novel, Devil’s Bait. I’ll see if I can’t find a place for it in the next one.

Thanks for joining me and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. See you next year.

Debbie Boek

SCOTLAND

There are two things that I am very passionate about: my writing and Scotland. And, at long last, my dream came true and I was finally able to experience Scotland in September. It isn’t the type of thing I usually write about here, but it was amazing and I thought I would share a little of it with you.

I traveled with a CIE tour group and they did a wonderful job. Our driver, Kieran, was fearless and our guide, Iona, was phenomenal, entertaining and very, very knowledgeable. I just hope I didn’t butcher their names too badly.

This is the Newton Hotel that we stayed at in Nairn, along with one of their resident “heiland coos”.

Newton Hotel, Nairn

The Scottish history, architecture, scenery and people were all mesmerizing. This is the Glasgow Cathedral where they still hold mass every week. I was fortunate enough to be there when the choir was practicing and, between the atmosphere and the music, it was absolutely hauntingly beautiful. I can’t even come up with the appropriate words to describe the feelings that came over me when I was inside. It is something that you just have to experience for yourself.

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow itself was fun to explore. I spent a little time on Sauciehall Street which is only open to pedestrians and has all kinds of shops and restaurants on it. Then I made my way to Kensingrove Museum and Art Gallery.

Glasgow

Unfortunately, it wasn’t open, so I explored a nearby park and the area around Glasgow University which is in the photo below.

IMG_1254

The weather was overcast and rainy quite a bit, but the scenery was still breath-taking and ruggedly beautiful. Looking out at these views, I could swear that Mel Gibson was standing somewhere up on those mountains, wearing his kilt from Braveheart.

Highlands

We stopped at Loch Ness and took a boat tour. Nessie was not cooperative that day and didn’t come out to visit, not that we know of anyway.

Loch Ness

Then we were off to St. Andrews, which I found to be quite unique because it’s a beautiful college town and there were students everywhere you turned, bringing youth and a certain modernness along with them, all against the backdrop of this amazing history and architecture. The ruins of St. Andrew’s Cathedral are so impressive that it’s hard to imagine what an enormous and imposing structure it must have been in its day.

St Andrews

And then we made our way to Edinburgh. Unfortunately, we were unable to visit the Edinburgh Castle because there were gale force winds that day and the tours were cancelled.

IMG_1417

I was disappointed, but now have another reason to go back again. And, it did give us an opportunity to tour Holyrood Castle instead, which is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth. While there I was able to walk through Mary Queens of Scots’ quarters, where she was held prior to being executed. That was surreal, like stepping back in time.

Hollyrood Castle 1

We had a fun and entertaining Scottish Evening in Edinburgh, complete with a bagpiper, singers, dancers and, of course, The Address to Haggis!

Edinburgh

And before I knew it, I was on a plane heading back home. For years I’ve been obsessed with Scotland for some reason, it didn’t let me down and I can’t wait to visit again. This is just a tiny bit of what I was able to see and experience and I would highly recommend a trip there to everyone.

If you have any interest in other articles about Scotland itself, its food or, well, pretty much anything Scottish, please check out myplaidheart.com. Wendy has great articles and photos and she helped inspire me to actually make my trip a reality.

Now it’s time to get back to my other passion and start working on my next novel. It was just a little hard to concentrate when I was in a land whose history is far more dramatic than any fiction I could ever create.

Thanks for joining me, I’ll see you next month.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek.wordpress.com