THE RISING OF THE PHOENIX

“Hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams.” – S.A. Sachs

In honor of spring, which has finally decided to make an appearance, this month’s blog is about the Rising of the Phoenix. I was fascinated to discover that The Phoenix exists in the mythology and legends of many different cultures. Its meaning differs somewhat, but they are similar and all relate to rebirth, resurrection or regeneration.

Only one Phoenix exists at any given time and, depending on which legend you believe, it can live as long as 500 to 1400 years. The Phoenix represents the sun itself, which dies at the end of each day, but is reborn the following dawn.

In ancient Egypt, the Phoenix was associated with immortality. The Egyptian Phoenix was said to be as large as an eagle, with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage and a melodious cry. As its end approached, the Phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic The and a melodious cry. As its end approached, the Phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic boughs and spices, set it on fire, and was consumed in the flames. From the pyre miraculously sprang a new Phoenix, which, after embalming its father’s ashes in an egg of myrrh, flew with the ashes to Heliopolis (“City of the Sun”) in Egypt, where it deposited them on the altar in the temple of the Egyptian god of the sun, Re.

Phoenix 1

At the close of the first century Clement of Rome became the first Christian to interpret the myth of the Phoenix as an allegory of the resurrection and of life after death. The Phoenix was also compared to undying Rome, and it appears on the coinage of the late Roman Empire as a symbol of the Eternal City.

In Islamic mythology the Phoenix was identified with the ʿanqāʾ, a huge mysterious bird that was originally created by God with all perfections but, thereafter it became a plague and was killed.

Phoenix 2

In Greek mythology, a Phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or born again. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The Greeks and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle. According to the Greeks, the Phoenix made its home near a cool well and would appear at dawn every morning to sing a song so enchanting that even the great sun-god Apollo would stop to listen.

Phoenix 3

The following is a quote from The Feng Shui Handbook: “A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration.”

In Chinese mythology, the phoenix is the symbol of high virtue and grace, of power and prosperity. It represents the union of yin and yang. It was thought to be a gentle creature, alighting so gently that it crushed nothing, and ate only dewdrops.

Images of the Phoenix have appeared throughout China for well over 7000 years, often in jade and originally on good-luck totems. Its feathers were of the five fundamental colors: black, white, red, green, and yellow and was said to represent the Confucian virtues of loyalty, honesty, decorum and justice. Depictions of the Phoenix were placed on tomes and graves.

The Ho-Oo is the Japanese Phoenix, the Ho being the male bird and the Oo being the female. It greatly resembles the Chinese Phoenix, the Feng-Huang, in looks and is often depicted as nesting in a paulownia tree. It was thought to only appear at the birth of a virtuous ruler and was said to mark a new era by descending from the heavens to do good deeds for people, only to return to its celestial abode to await a new era.

Phoenix 4

This is just a little taste of the information that I found about the Rising of the Phoenix. There’s much more to it but, to me, it represents our ability to change who we are. We have the capacity to kill off those parts of ourselves that aren’t healthy, the ones that keep us from enjoying the best lives that we can have.

To me, the Phoenix represents our rebirth, our choice to improve ourselves and to be the best that we can be. I guess that’s why I’ve started doing these blogs and am finally dedicating myself to writing my books and learning how to market them. It’s quite a challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity and I’m going to make the most if it.

I try to keep these short and sweet but I’m going to leave you with this quote from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which is a little long, but well-worth reading.

Becoming the Phoenix
Egyptian Book of the Dead

“I flew straight out of heaven, a mad bird full of secrets. I came into being as I came into being. I grew as I grew. I changed as I change. My mind is fire, my soul fire. The cobra wakes and spits fire in my eyes. I rise through ochre smoke into black air enclosed in a shower of stars. I am what I have made. I am the seed of every god, beautiful as evening, hard as light. I am the last four days of yesterday, four screams from the edges of earth – beauty, terror, truth, madness – the Phoenix on his pyre.

In a willow I make my nest of flowers and snakes, sandalwood and myrrh. I am waiting for eternity. I’m waiting for four hundred years to pass before I dance on flame, turn this desert to ash, before I rise, waking from gold and purple dreams into the season of god. I will live forever in the fire spun from my own wings. I’ll suffer burns that burn to heal. I destroy and create myself like the sun that rises burning from the east and dies burning in the west. To know the fire, I become the fire. I am power. I am light. I am forever. On earth and in heaven I am. This is my body, my work. This is my deliverance.

The heat of transformation is unbearable, yet change is necessary. It burns up the useless, the diseased. Time is a cool liquid; it flows away like a river. We shall see no end of it. Generation after generation, I create myself. It is never easy. Long nights I waited, lost in myself, considering the stars. I wage a battle against darkness, against my own ignorance, my resistance to change, my sentimental love for my own folly. Perfection is a difficult task. I lose and find my way over again. One task done gives rise to others. There is no end to the work left to do. That is harsh eternity. There is no end to becoming. I live forever striving for perfection. I praise the moment I die in fire for the veils of illusion burn with me. I see how hard we strive for Truth, and once attained how easily we forget it. I hold that fire as long as I can. My nose fills with the smell of seared flesh, the acrid smoke of death, so that years from now I might look on that scar and remember how it was to hold the light, how it was to die and come again radiant as light walking on sand.

I change and change again, generation after generation. I find anguish then peace. I am satisfied with my birth and the faith to which it led me. I do not regret the discomforts and terrors of my mortality any more than I regret the company of angels. I have entered fire. I become invisible; yet I breathe in the flow of sun, in the eyes of children, in the light that animates the white cliffs at dawn. I am the God in the world in everything, even in darkness. If you have not seen me there, you have not looked. I am the fire that burns you, that burns in you. To live is to die a thousand deaths, but there is only one fire, one eternity.”

– The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day

Thanks for joining me. I hope you enjoyed it and would love to hear any comments you might want to share.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek.wordpress.com
debbieboek.yolasite.com
amazon.com/author/debbieboek

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTER

James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Anyone who is a fan of Diana Gabaldon will recognize that name. Outlander is one of my favorite novels and Jamie is, by far, my favorite character, ever. Diana Gabaldon has done such a wonderful job of making him human, while at the same allowing him to be our hero, bigger than life and someone that every woman wishes she could be with. In fact, he may even be one of the reasons that I’ve never remarried, although maybe I just use him as my excuse.

I was drawn to him because of his selflessness. Even knowing the price that he may have to pay, Jamie always does what has to be done to protect his loved ones and those in his care. And he has paid, sometimes dearly.

I was a little hesitant about watching the Outlander television series when it came out. I loved the books so much that I was afraid they wouldn’t be true to story, or that the characters of Jamie and Claire would disappoint me and wouldn’t mesh with my vision of them.

Outlander

To Diana’s credit, after reading her books, we know how both Jamie and Claire look, how they act, and how they think. I assume that is why the producers of the show were able to do such a great job of casting Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. Both of them do a wonderful job and I can no longer picture Jamie and Claire as anyone other than the two of them. The show itself is staying true to their story and is bringing back fond memories.

In the Outlander series of books, Diana Gabaldon has found a way to make, not only her characters, but Scotland itself, come alive for me. In fact, I plan on visiting Scotland for the first time this fall and can’t wait to experience as much of it as I possibly can. I may even take the Outlander tour and follow along in Jamie and Claire’s footsteps.

Outlander series

 

Diana’s novels have taught me the importance of character. The storyline of a novel is irrelevant if the reader can’t connect with the people living it. I always try to keep in mind what I’ve learned from her novels and really focus on the characters in my own books. I want to make them believable, someone that you can relate to, someone that gets you involved and keeps you reading because you need to know what happens to them next; maybe even someone that you’d want to go out and have a beer with. If I can even come close to developing my characters as well as Diana Gabaldon does, then I will consider myself satisfied with the effort.

If you haven’t read any of her books yet, I would strongly recommend it. And, as soon as you’re done with them, I’ll bet it won’t be long before you are binge watching the Outlander TV series, trying to catch up before the next season begins.

Here’s tae the heath, the hill and the heather,
The bonnet, the plaid, the kilt and the feather.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek.yolasite.com

QIQIRN AND MAHAHA THE TICKLER

Happy January, everyone. In honor of all the lovely weather that we’ve had this month so far, I thought it would be fun to find some creatures that are specific to snowy or cold areas and share their information with you.
I found a couple of really interesting ones, however, I couldn’t find very much information on either of them. They are both creatures from Inuit mythology.
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska.
The first creature that I’d like to bring to your attention is the Qiqirn (or Quiquern). Handsome devil, isn’t he?

Qiqirn

The Qiqirn is a large, bald dog spirit that terrifies the Inuit people. It is a frightening beast, but also skittish and foolish. It has hair on its feet, ear, mouth and the tip of its tail. The mere presence of a qiqirn around men or dogs causes them to suffer fits, a state which ends only when the qiqirn leaves. One way to scare it away is to shout its name.

The qiqirn is also extremely scared of humans, and will run away if an angakoq sees it. An angakoq is an Eskimo shaman, or medicine-man; the repository of lore, the judge in matters of tradition, and the means of communication with the spirit world.

Qiqirn 2

 

MAHAHA THE TICKLER

Another creature from Inuit mythology that I’d like you to meet is Mahaha the Tickler. How can you not love that name?

Mahaha

This was the only description of it that I was able to find:
Mahaha is a maniacal demon that terrorized parts of the arctic. This creature is described as a thin sinewy being, ice blue in color and cold to the touch. Mahaha’s eyes are white and they peer through the long stringy hair that hangs in its face. This demon is always smiling and giggling. It is strong, very strong and it is always barefoot.
Mahaha is usually seen with almost no clothing on, yet it never seems to be bothered by the cold. This cold demon takes pleasure in tickling its victims to death with sharp vicious nails attached to its long bony fingers. Many elders have remarked on the expression of the dead victims Mahaha leaves behind. It seems all of the victims have a similar expression on their dead faces – a twisted frozen smile.
Although this demon is depraved and evil, most of the stories told about Mahaha end with it being fooled. Usually Mahaha is tricked into leaning over a water hole to take a drink and is pushed into the open water and swept away by the currents.
So, if Mahaha ever corners you alone, ask it to have one last drink with you by the water hole before it tickles you to death.

Mahaha 2

I hope you enjoyed making a couple of new frigid weather friends. I’m sure there are many more out there and maybe we can meet them soon.
Until next time, stay safe.

Debbie Boek
debbieboek@yolasite.com

 

KRAMPUS – THE ORIGINAL BAD SANTA

Long before Billy Bob Thornton, there was a real bad santa, Krampus, the yin to St. Nick’s yang, and what a riot I had learning about this half-goat, half-demon creature that beats people into being nice. I had no idea that Krampus was anything more than an evil Santa that someone imagined and then made a movie about.

Turns out our friend, Krampus, has been around for centuries. While St. Nick is leaving sweets for the good children, Krampus is punishing the naughty ones by beating them with a birch branch or stuffing them into his sack and taking them to his lair where they will be tortured or eaten or possibly transported to hell.

Krampus

This antique greeting card depicts one version of what Krampus looks like. He has a basket to take bad children away with him. The German text reads: “Greetings from Krampus!” PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

In fact, Krampus’ roots have nothing to do with Christmas. Instead, they date back to pre-Germanic paganism in the region. His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel.

The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December. He is also known to accompany St Nicholas in other countries, including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, South Tyrol and parts of Northern Italy. 

There are variations as to how Krampus looks, however, he generally has dark hair, fangs and the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. The anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch branches meant to swat naughty children. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a basket strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to hell.

According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night before December 6, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. December 6 also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they’d left out the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior).

Krampus celebrations were suppressed for years by the Catholic Church, which forbade them, but he has made a comeback in Europe, and to a certain extent, in the United States. In addition to an appearance in local family homes, usually along with St. Nicholas, Krampus and his cohorts also gather to put on a wild show in the streets of many Austrian and Bavarian towns. The “show” is known as a Krampuslauf (Krampus run). Customs vary by locality, but the tradition goes back hundreds of years, and far, far beyond a mere lump of coal in a kid’s stocking.

In the early evening winter darkness of November and December, in towns and cities across Austria and southern Germany, you can see young children, teenagers, and adults being intimidated and scared out of their wits by people dressed as demonic, horned, goat-like, masked creatures running around with torches and instruments of torture that include twig switches and whips. In most cases, the Krampusse are running rampant, without any “good guys” around.  In Austria and elsewhere, these ugly masked Krampus figures actually lash out at people, young and old, sometimes inflicting physical injury (scratches, bruises) and always imparting a degree of mental anguish.

Some Americans have even turned to European Alpine folklore and customs and Krampusfests occur in U.S. cities from Los Angeles to Tampa, Florida. They are more family friendly and fairly tame compared to the events in Europe. In fact, I understand that one city’s Krampus event site notes: “Do not scare anyone who does not want to be scared!” That’s definitely not how it works in Austria.

If you are interested in learning more or locating a Krampusfest in your neighborhood, there are websites and Facebook pages galore to help you out. You can even buy a Krampus in the Corner instead of the Elf on a Shelf and join in the heated debate about which one is creepier.

Krampus in the Corner

Merry Christmas! I hope your Holidays are wonderful and completely Krampus free.

Debbie Boek

debbieboek.yolasite.com

ARE WE THERE YETI?

ARE WE THERE YETI?

I’ve chosen Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch, for my first monster blog, primarily because he will be the star of my sequel to Devil’s Bait, and I thought we should spend a few minutes getting familiar with him.

So, what, or who, is Bigfoot?  The simple answer is that he is a cryptid, an animal whose existence has been suggested, but has not been discovered or documented by the scientific community. Cryptids often appear in folklore and mythology, leading to stories and unfounded belief about their existence.

By most accounts he, or she, are about 7 to 8 feet tall, completely covered with hair, not fur – hair, and their arms are very long and out of proportion with their bodies, they have large heads and their offspring have been described as looking like giant puppies. They make whistling or howling noises and their screams are loud enough to knock a person off their feet.  Some reports even ascribe them with telepathic powers.

Patty

This is frame 352 of the film taken by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin on 10/20/67 in Northern California, allegedly depicting a female Bigfoot, known informally as “Patty”. The film’s authenticity has never been proven.

Reported sightings and stories about this creature have been occurring for hundreds of years, all over the world. Bigfoot, or one of his cousins, has been spotted on every continent except, maybe, Antarctica. Native American lore speaks of the creature as a different kind of people, rather than an animal, which commanded a special respect. In other parts of the world, there are ancient legends about hairy man-monsters that had supernatural strength.

In the U.S. there are different versions of the creature depending on the part of the country that you are in. The southeastern states use various names, Skunk Ape, Swamp Cabbage Man, Swamp Ape, Stink Ape, Louisiana Bigfoot, Florida Bigfoot, Myakka Ape and, my favorite, Swampsquatch. All reports of Bigfoot and his various cousins note a strong, unpleasant smell about them but, apparently, these southern swamp creatures are particularly pungent.

Pakistan has the Barmanou, “Big hairy One”; Central Asia and Mongolia have the Almas, “Wild Men”; India has the Mande Barung, Australia, the Yowie and, of course, there is the Yeti, aka the Abominable Snowman, which is generally found in Bhutan and Tibet. These are just a few of Bigfoot’s cousins found around the globe, all with their own unique attributes.

There have been stories about Bigfoot families kidnapping people and bringing them back to their lairs, but I wasn’t able to locate any reports where the creature actually harmed anything other than some cattle. In fact, in the late 1980’s a couple in Wisconsin insisted that they saw Bigfoot kneeling on the side of the road and holding a dead dog in his arms. According to their account, his eyes were remarkably human and it looked like he had just lost his best friend.

I found different possibilities as to how the terms, Bigfoot and Sasquatch, came to be. According to one source, Bigfoot was coined in California in the 1950’s. Jerry Crew, a road construction crewman kept finding large, unexplained, humanlike footprints and made plaster casts of the 14 – 16” prints. From then on the creature was called Big Foot.

Sasquatch is said to be a phrase that was derived by J.W. Burns in the 1920’s from indigenous words of the Chehalis Indian Reservation in British Columbia. They used soss q’atl, sokqueatl and several similar phrases to describe the creature and, from those, Burns coined the English version, Sasquatch, “wild men of the woods”.

So, the question is, are Bigfoot and his various cousins real? I find it hard to believe that there could be so many stories, from so many different parts of the world, and over such a long period of time, to not have some truth to them. How much, I can’t say.

With the world shrinking and leaving so little wilderness for anyone or anything to hide in, if Bigfoot is real, I think we’ll find out that out for sure in the next few decades. In the meantime, it might be nice if they would just take a few selfies and post them on social media so we can stop all the speculating.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or opinions on the subject.

Debbie
debbieboek.yolasite.com

I WANT TO BE STEPHEN KING WHEN I GROW UP

I know that sounds a little strange coming from a 50 something female, however, it is what it is. What I most admire about his writing is the detail and the brevity of that detail. For example, the main character walks past a man standing on the sidewalk. We’ll never hear of that man again, yet, in one quick paragraph, Stephen King can describe him so well that we know exactly who he is, his back story and why he is standing there. That, my friends, is talent.

Everything in today’s world moves so fast that it is hard to find time to sit and relax and read a good book, which is why I really appreciate his. I don’t need two full pages describing the cloud formations in the sky above the characters. I just need a general idea of the scene, which is what I get from Stephen King. He provides me with sufficient information so that I can visualize the scene, and gives me enough credit, as a reader, to be able to add more with my own imagination if I want or need to.

Sometimes, my imagination is a little too capable of doing that. For instance, when I read Salem’s Lot, I lived in the country, no street lights, no neighbors close by, just woods and darkness lit only by the stars and the moon. We raised beagles and I would put them outside in their kennel at night. But, during the time that I read Salem’s Lot and for a while after I had finished it, I slept in the living room with the dogs because I was too scared to go out into the dark by myself, and too embarrassed to tell my husband that, although I knew vampires didn’t actually exist, I just couldn’t go outside at night and take that chance just yet. That’s how real Stephen King is able to make his books.

Regardless of that incident, I do enjoy horror stories and find them intoxicating and fun, which led me to another interesting fact about Stephen King’s books. I found that there are a lot of readers, mainly women, who won’t read anything that he writes because they don’t do horror. And yet, I point out several of his works that are not horror, and these readers are amazed to find out that he was the author.

They’d never read the books, but they had seen the movies and really enjoyed them, never knowing they were based on materials written by Stephen King. Two good examples are Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Two very good stories which were made into two very good movies. They have dark themes but are not “horror”, so the unsuspecting watcher has now been exposed to the work of Stephen King and doesn’t even know it.

Unfortunately, these readers are missing out on so many intriguing, well-written books, just because Stephen King is the author and the story might scare them. I try to turn them around, but everyone has their own beliefs and those are not easy to change. Hopefully, they will see the error of their ways and give some of his work a try, not that he is lacking fans, I just think an avid reader is really missing out if they haven’t experienced any of his novels.

The beauty of a story is in the quality of the writing, not the genre. That is what I have learned from Stephen King, and why I have such a difficult time categorizing my own books because they cross over into different categories and genres.

I ain’t no Stephen King, but it is nice to have something to aspire to.

debbieboek.yolasite.com

Welcome

This is the post excerpt.

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.