Mythical Monday: Elephant Graveyards by Mae Clair

Remember in the Lion King when Simba and Nala discovered the elephant graveyard?

Eons ago, when the world was young and all animals roamed free, elephant graveyards existed in parts of India, Burma, Africa and Thailand. Secreted in deep valleys, sheltered by towering mountains, their location was known only by the elder of each elephant tribe. When the time came for an elephant to depart this life, the tribe gathered for a ritual farewell.

Elephant 208AAfterward, the departing elephant lumbered into the jungle alone, lured by the call of the graveyard. For days the mighty beast would travel, following a secret path through dense foliage, emerging at the base of the mountains.

Weary, but compelled by the supernatural draw of his ancestors, the elephant would climb upward into the hidden valley. A narrow entrance, just wide enough for one to shamble through, opened into an isolated dell. Within, cradled among beds of wildflowers and whispering grasses, lie the bleached bones of his ancestors. The elephant would select a spot among the skeletons, lie down and wait for death with dignity.

Throughout the centuries, men have sought these secret places, hoping to reap a fortune by harvesting the ivory tusks. But elephants are wise, and know the locations must remain hidden. Many are hunted and destroyed before they are able to make the final journey. For those fortunate enough to partake in the trek, they would rather die on the trip than lead an interloper to the resting place of their ancestors. For this reason these mythical graveyards have never been located by man. Many expert trackers and hunters have tried.

Elephant AffectionSome return after following an elephant for days, only to realize the mighty beast has led them in circles. They are dehydrated and confused, near death themselves, no match for their elusive quarry. It is said elephants mourn their dead. Perhaps that is why their ancestral graveyards remain a myth.

These devoted and familial animals are wise enough to ensure men will never discover their final resting place.

As it should be.

Mythical Monday: Pennsylvania’s Yellow Monster by Mae Clair

It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for a bit of myth! Digging around in some old folktales, I found another related to my home state of Pennsylvania. This one comes from Berks County in the eastern half of the state. It relates to a creature so bizarre, it was never even given a proper name other than to be tagged the “yellow-what-is-it.”

Early in October of 1879 in the tiny town of Topton Station, the son of the local prison inspector, a Mr. Schmel, set a hunt in motion with his tale of an unidentified monster.  On a brisk fall day, he raced into the local motel and breathlessly told his story to the hotel’s owner, Mr. Hinnershitz.

Country Yard showing side of barn and wagon wheelSchmel was backed up by his friend, Jared Rissmiller. Together, the two men had been herding cattle when they spied a yellow creature in an open field just outside of town. According to Schmel it was about four feet tall with long arms, and two fingers on each arm resembling claws. No mention of hands, but its feet were said to be flattened lumps without toes. Its head was furrowed, its body smooth. The creature was male, naked, and covered in dirt or clay. When spotted, it ran toward Schmel as if to grab him, then abruptly changed its mind and fled into a cornfield.

Shaken but fueled by adrenalin, the two friends quickly secured the cattle and set off in search of the beast. Not long afterward they found the creature curled into a ball on the opposite side of the cornfield.

This image conjures such a pitiful picture in my head, it makes me think the “monster” was more frightened of them than vice-versa. It isn’t specified, but I’m sure the men made a fearful sight, probably armed with rifles, pitchforks or clubs. When it realized it was discovered, the poor beast leapt to its feet and stood blinking at them. Perhaps it was confused or too terrified to move. Whatever the delay, it allowed Rissmiller a closer look.

“It was yellowish brown in color with no hair, small eyes and face, arms about fourteen inches long, legs somewhat longer, the hands and feet resembling those of a human being.” Rissmiller also said it had two horns on top of its head. He and Schmel tried to capture the beast but it was able to escape, scurring into the woods beyond a fencerow.

Several days later the yellow-what-is-it was spied by another resident. Mr. Heckman supported the description given by Shcmel and Rissmiller but thought the creature might be an escaped gorilla.

Hmmm . . .clearly, Mr. Heckman hadn’t encountered many gorillas in his day, because:  one, the description wasn’t even a distant match and two, there was no news of an escaped gorilla anywhere in the vicinity.

dirt road leading into woodsThat didn’t prevent the local residents from taking action,however. Fired up by the thought of a creature haunting the countryside, they diligently combed the area. In the days that followed, reports filtered in of odd footprints discovered around town, strange tracks in plowed fields, and bizarre cries echoing from the woods at night. Some townspeople whispered their fear of being followed when their path led them on darkened roads after twilight. The growing terror eventually prompted armed patrols. Men with rifles began traversing the area at night, accompanied by dogs.

Yet despite all these efforts, the yellow-what-is-it, was never captured or seen again. The unidentified creature remains a mystery tucked into the annals of Pennsylvania’s dusty folklore. Perhaps, realizing it was no longer safe, it moved to another area. Or perhaps it was ill and eventually perished. There are no accounts of the beast actually harming anyone, despite all the hysteria it generated. For that reason, part of me can’t help but feel sympathetic toward it. What do you think?

Mythical Monday: The Moon Woman of New Zealand by Mae Clair

I’ve been fascinated by the moon and the heavens in general ever since I was in grade school. I can still recall how excited I was when in second grade we learned the names of the planets and I was able to recite them in order. At six years old (I started school early) I was apt to share this little gem of information with anyone who’d listen. I’m sure my parents probably got tired of hearing me recite them, but they never let it show.

When I was seven my dad bought my older brother a telescope, which opened a brand new door of wonder to the heavens (despite my brother trying to convince me he’d seen little green men dancing on the moon). Eventually, a few years later, my father bought me my own telescope seeing my interest in stargazing wasn’t just a passing phase. I remember going out at night with a sketchbook and trying to replicate what the surface of the moon looked like after I magnified it through the lens. That telescope lasted through the years into my late thirties. As an adult I didn’t use it nearly as often, but there were still occasions when I dragged it into the back yard and angled it to capture a glowing moon.

mysterious worldMaybe it’s because I love that silvery orb so much I find it hard to believe anyone would curse it, but that’s exactly what the Moon Woman of New Zealand did. A Maroi girl by the name of Rona, she made a habit of trekking from her village to collect water from a nearby stream each day. One day she forgot to complete her task during the hours when the sun was high, and had to venture out at night.

The chore wasn’t trying at first for the moon shone brightly, lighting her way. But as Rona neared the stream, it slipped behind a cloud plunging her into darkness. In the sudden nighttime shadows, Rona tripped and fell. Perhaps she skinned her hands and knees; perhaps she hurt herself badly or broke her water pitcher in the fall. Whatever the reason, she grew horribly angry and began hurling insults at the moon for concealing its light.

Incensed by such blatant disrespect, the moon swept down to the Earth and attempted to carry her away. Realizing her danger, Rona wrapped her arms around a tree, refusing to let go. But the moon was so angry with the girl it ripped the tree from the Earth, roots and all, and carried it off with Rona still clinging to the trunk.

According to legend, when the moon is full, Rona, the tree, and her water pitcher are visible on the surface of the moon. Look closely and you will see the Moon Woman of New Zealand still lamenting her fate.

Guest Blogger Gemma Brocato: Listening To The Muse Even When She Whines

I’ve got a treat for you today as Gemma Brocato, author of COOKING UP LOVE, has agreed to share her thoughts about The Muse. Gemma and I connected as sister authors at Lyrical Press, now the digital imprint of Kensington Books. Initially, I had an interview planned with Gemma for today, and wanted to put the spotlight on COOKING UP LOVE. As we wait for everything to sort itself out between Kenstington and Lyrical, book titles are temporarily unavailable, but rather than cancel her visit, Gemma agreed to write a post on a subject I adore — mythology!

Let’s see what she has to say about the elusive, fickle, and oh so wondrous, muse!

~ooOOoo~

Thanks to Mae for inviting me by today, and for being flexible about what type of post I would present to her lovely followers. See, I’d completed a post about my debut novel, Cooking Up Love and had it ready to go. But the Muses moved the powers that be at Lyrical Press and Kensington to form a partnership that I’m very excited about. Unfortunately, it means my book is temporarily off the market and it doesn’t make sense to promote the book. So, I was inspired talk to you about the Muses.

AThe word Muse actually means desire or wish. As in, I wish I knew where this post was heading.

Did you know there were nine Muses? And they were all girls (wouldn’t you hate competing for bathroom time in that house?). According to Greek mythology Zeus bewitched Mnemosyne and spent nine consecutive nights with her, producing the Musai. The goddesses were born in Pieria, at the foot of Mt. Olympus. Their names might be recognizable for what they’ve come to inspire in present day. Here’s a chart:

Muses Chart

When I look at their names, I see Choir, Eros, Hymn, and Ha.

After the girls were born, Zeus fostered them out to Apollo to raise them. Apollo moved them to Mt. Elikonas where he helped them dedicate their lives to the arts, teaching them to support and encourage creation, enhance imagination and inspire artists. But the power most frequently attributed to them is the power to bring to mind…and clarify…the story the writer wishes to tell. Apparently, listening to what the Muse had to say was important. Ignore it, and she could be spiteful; leaving the artist blind or the singer or poet mute. I suppose that’s what we’d call writer’s block today.

Since the days of Ancient Greece, writers, musicians and artists have called upon their Muse for help and guidance. Homer asks his Muse to tell him the story in the proper way in both the Iliad and The Odyssey.

Eric Clapton spoke about his Muse this way: “I wish I could write easily. I’m one of those guys who’s visited by the Muse when things are dire.”

fotolia_36132060_xsOne of my favorite authors, Harlan Coben, has this to say about his Muse: “The Muse is not an angelic voice that sits on your shoulder and sings sweetly. The Muse is the most annoying whine. The Muse isn’t hard to find, just hard to like – she follows you everywhere, tapping you on the shoulder, demanding that you stop doing whatever else you might be doing and pay attention to her.”

Donatella Versace has a one and it looks a lot like her: “My Muse changes all the time because I think every designer is a bit of a Muse for themselves in a way – they just don’t want to say it.” While I do believe some of her creations are inspired, I wonder what her Muse actually wears? I’m thinking maybe Chanel.

Can you summon your Muse at will? Or must you wait for her to come? I think Amy Tan answered this best: “Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the Muses.”

All I know is when my Muse speaks, I listen to her, even when she whines.

~ooOOoo~

cookinguplove_CoverWhat a great post! I loved that line about the bathroom. Cat fight, guaranteed, LOL. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts and answers to Gemma’s questions about your personal muse. And although COOKING UP LOVE is temporarily off the market, you can still add it to your Goodreads list, here.

Author Bio
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a fortune from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to ‘Dear Author’, were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Gemma BrocatoConnect with Gemma at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Guest Blogger, Daisy Banks: Do You Believe in Fairies?

Today I’m pleased to turn my blog over to my friend, Daisy Banks, who has a delightful post about fairies. Not only does she have a fairy-themed release coming from Liquid Silver Books, VALENTINE WISHES, but she just may convince you the fey folk are still flitting about.

She’s also doing a giveaway, so check out the details at the end of the post to see what you can win. In the meantime, grab your beverage of choice, help yourself to the virtual pastry tray, and enjoy the story as Daisy provides a bewitching glimpse into the realm of the wee people.

~ooOOoo~

I do believe in fairies. I do! I do!
by Daisy Banks

Thanks so much for inviting me to the blog today, Mae. It is a pleasure to be here.

Now, it might strike the readers as a little odd a grown woman will say I believe in fairies, but it is true, I do. I grew up in a family who all knew fairies existed, and the little people certainly played a part in my childhood in our family home. I have tried to look up some fairy lore to explain about the fairy habit of ‘borrowing’ items. It seems generally agreed fairies do this, sometimes to the point of great irritation of the mortal owners of the objects they take. Some say fairies will only take things you as a mortal don’t value enough, and other sources say fairies will only take food items. I think I’ll just have to continue to believe if an object vanishes and later reappears it is because some fairy or other had need or desire for it for a time.

During my childhood, and still today, things disappeared in my parents’ house on a regular basis. Not big things like furniture, but small things, pretty things, items fairies might find interesting or useful.  I have a couple of examples of these disappearances I remember well and can share with you. One was a ring of my mother’s, a very dainty item that went missing from its usual storage place in a cranberry glass bowl in a cabinet. My mother hunted high and low but to no avail, until resigned to her loss she announced ‘the fairies have borrowed it’. I’m not sure if when mom spoke those words she influenced the wee folk to return the ring, but eventually they did. The strangest thing was, the ring turned up one day in its usual place in the cranberry glass dish. There is no logical explanation to this at all.

A similar thing happened with one of my dolls, not the doll itself, but one of its shoes vanished. I was quite put out about loss, as I liked the shoes and only had one left for my doll to hop in. My mother consoled me by telling me the fairies had borrowed the shoe and if I was patient, eventually I would get it back. Some time passed, several weeks I believe, until one day my mother went into the front parlour for something, a room we didn’t use every day, and there placed on the arm of a wing backed chair was my doll’s shoe. How the doll’s shoe got into a room I wasn’t allowed to play in, I have no idea, and no explanation springs to mind.  All I can say is I agreed with my mother; the fairies had returned the item to me.

I guess you can understand that with such a background of fairy experiences it’s not surprising I have written a story involving a fairy. My latest story, to be published by Liquid Silver Books on the 10th of February this year is Valentine Wishes. This is a sweet and saucy Valentine story of a fairy who grants a big wish to help her mortals and creates chaos.

Valentine's Wishes-high-resHere is a little snippet from Valentine Wishes:

“There yer are, I knew yer were here. I’ve been waiting for ye all night.”

She spun around at the velvet caress of a voice she remembered so well. “No,” she squeaked.

Him!

Not possible.

Her stomach knotted and she wanted to crawl away and hide.

His golden hair glinted in the glow of the colored lights and he smiled wide in greeting. She could hardly keep herself in the air. A wave of heat scorched her face.

“Poppy, ‘tis me, Cedar Heartwood. Yer remember me, don’t ye, darlin’?” He flew a little closer, and she nodded.

Her knees sagged.

Jellified.

I remember you … who couldn’t? You haven’t changed at all.

His eyes still entranced with hazel gleams. She ached to throw her arms around him, and as she steadied herself, she swept her gaze up to his face again. He still had the most enticing lips she’d ever seen.

Oh, by the wind in the leaves. How many hours did I sit among the daisies and wonder what it would be like to kiss him? She shook herself, torn between long held hopes and tonight’s despair. He had to go, at least until later. “I can’t speak with ye now, Cedar. I’m busy.”

Connect with Daisy at the following haunts:
Liquid Silver Books
Blog
Website
Twitter: @DaisyBanks12
Facebook Page
Pinterest

Don’t forget! VALENTINE WISHES will be available on February 10th. What better combination than romance and the Fair Folk in a month devoted to romance? :D

GIVEAWAY ALERT:
Comment for a chance to win a copy of Daisy’s ghostly romance, YOUR HEART MY SOUL. One lucky commentator will be selected at random.

Mythical Monday: Meet the Kappa, a Japanese Water Imp by Mae Clair

Ichimoku-nyudo

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Are you fond of cucumbers? If not, you might want to reconsider should you stray into the territory of a Kappa. A Japanese water imp, the Kappa makes its home in rivers and ponds, using webbed hands and feet to move through its murky habitat. No taller than a ten-year old, the Kappa has a tortoise-type shell on its back, ape-like features, and a beak like a bird.

Hold that image and add another distinguishing characteristic: The Kappa’s head is crowned by a bowl-like depression for storing water. This is the Kappa’s source of strength. Some believe the water contained in the bowl empowers the creature to roam freely on land. Without the water, it is confined to its river home.

To escape a Kappa, bow to it. Although these creatures have a nasty streak, they possess a refined sense of etiquette, and will always bow politely in return.

Oops, there goes the water! It makes you wonder a bit about their intelligence. For that matter, bow repeatedly and the Kappa will return the courtesy, empting its bowl even though the loss of water renders it powerless and forces it from land.

Children are taught to bow from a young age, for they comprise the Kappa’s favorite meal. Despite their displays of etiquette, these guys are far from genteel. They’ve been known to kidnap, destroy crops, rape and pillage. The only meal they enjoy more than children is munching on a cucumber. Remember I said a ‘cuke would come in handy?

Apparently the cucumber is equivalent to culinary nirvana for a Kappa. For this reason, Japanese parents would carve the names of their children on cucumbers and toss them into a river where the family bathed, hoping the vile creatures would leave them alone.bigstock-Bog-And-Dry-Tree-5469338

That’s not to say the Kappa wasn’t without redeeming qualities. Some clever individuals were able to dupe them into performing various tasks — farm irrigation, household chores, even sharing their considerable medical expertise. Kappas are highly knowledgeable of medicine, and according to legend, taught men how to set bones. If tricked into swearing an oath, the Kappa’s stringent sense of correctness will hold it bound to the promise, and the human.

So the next time you go swimming in a murky pond or river, have a cucumber handy. At the very least, practice your bowing on the shore! :)

Mythical Monday: Fiddler’s Green by Mae Clair

bigstock-Vintage-compass-quill-pen-sp-45049453Often called the sailor’s version of heaven, Fiddler’s Green is an enchanted place every mariner and fisherman dreamed of reaching in the afterlife.

Some believed it could be found in the physical realm when a man tired of the sea. If a mariner had dedicated at least fifty years of service and no longer wished to sail the waterways, he had only to walk inland with an oar slung over his shoulder.

Eventually, his journey would lead him to a small village tucked deep in the countryside. If asked by the residents what he was carrying, he would know he’d found the haven of Fiddler’s Green. In this enchanted place, he would be treated to a comfortable seat in the sun, given a tankard of ale, and a pipe of sweet-smelling tobacco. The magical tankard would never run dry or the aromatic leaf in the pipe fail to burn. A step away on the village green, young maidens would twirl in dance, accompanied by the lively music of a fiddle player.The sailor had only to relax and enjoy himself as he sent lazy smoke rings wafting into the cerulean sky.

fgreenOthers say Fiddler’s Green is a stretch of water hidden behind the trade winds in the South Atlantic. Eternally calm, its surface is the reflective green of a mermaid’s tail. A peaceful abode, it is a harbor for old ships; a sanctuary for weary seaman in search of rest. As the sun sets each evening melting into the rim of the ocean, the faint strains of a fiddle are heard, prompting the sailors to dance hornpipes on the peaceful water.

Sailors are by nature a superstitious lot, but their vision of an afterlife is a simple one. How lovely to find Fiddler’s Green secreted among the lush rolling hills of a verdant countryside, or nestled among the sandy shores of a tropical paradise. Apparently, for fishermen and sailors, all that was needed to satisfy their wanderlust at the end of days was companionship, plenty of ale, dancing, a nice pipe and the warmth of sunlight.

I think I could be happy in Fiddler’s Green. What about you?

Mythical Monday: The Frost Giants by Mae Clair

When the world settles into the cold brittle grip of winter it’s easy to imagine a realm of frost and ice. I live in an area that experiences four distinct seasons, but I sometimes wonder what it would be like to reside in a climate where winter holds dominion most of the year. It’s a place I might like to visit under the right circumstances, but definitely not somewhere I’d want to have make a permanent address. I’m much more of a tropical girl. Yet when December snuggles in, moon rise comes earlier and the mercury plummets, I start thinking of snow and ice.

bigstock-Nordic-Winter-Forest-With-Lots-53205442Roll back the curtain to early Scandinavia when the first cosmic beings crawled from the ether. Among them was Ymir, father to the Frost Giants, also known as the Jotnar. Creatures who opposed the gods, these formidable beings had hair, beards and fingernails hewn from ice. Their eyes burned with glacial fire, and when they spoke, ice particles spewed from their mouths.

Despite their ongoing conflict with the gods, Frost Giants were related to them through numerous marriages. Some legends say that Odin, god of the Norse, was the great-grandson of Ymir. This, however, didn’t stop him from waging war against them. The battles were long and bloody with casualties on both sides.

In the end the gods were victorious, but even then they couldn’t destroy the race. A married couple among the Frost Giants managed to flee by sailing away on a sea of blood. They escaped to the Baltic where they gave birth to a new generation. Although these new Frost Giants thrived for a time, they ultimately perished in a final battle against the gods bringing an end to their race. Now, they are only than a memory.

Or are they?

When winter is brutal, punishing us with a deluge of cold and ice, I sometimes wonder if a shadow of the Frost Giants doesn’t still exist. In a time when we’re getting ready to bid goodbye to an old year and usher in a new, it might be good to recall some of our forgotten legends…

If only for sharing around a warm fire. :)

Mythical Monday: The House-Friendly Kobold by Mae Clair

486px-Kobold_artlibre_jnl

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Image in Public Domain

Kobolds are a sprite rooted in German mythology. According to legend, there are three distinctive types—those that take to the seas to aid sailors, those that burrow in underground mines, and finally, house spirits who delight in performing common chores.

Who needs a maid when you may have a kobold residing on your property? Most often invisible, they will sometimes appear as little men with wrinkled faces, garbed in peasant clothes. If desired, the kobold may take the form of fire, an animal, or even an object. A faithful servant who desires only shelter and food, their preferred lodging is the hearth area of the house. Some legends insist every home has a resident kobold, whether the occupants know it or not.

Kobolds chase away pests, groom horses, chop wood, scrub pots and pans, and sweep the floors. Most often these tasks and others will be performed at night after the household has retired for bed.

It doesn’t take much to sustain a kobold, but they must be fed regularly and prefer their meal at the same time each day. Table scraps are more than enough to keep a kobold happy, but a missed meal will turn this normally pleasant house servant into an angry imp. The family who shelters him will suddenly find themselves tripping over rugs, dropping dishes and burning their fingers in retaliation. Once given his proper meal, peace will resume.

Some kobolds react maliciously to those who slight them, going so far as to inflict disease, disfigurement and even death. For the most part, kobolds are content to remain in the background, performing their duties as long as they are treated well. They have even been known to bring wealth to their host family in the form of gold or harvest grains.

It’s a simple trade-off for such a faithful and industrious servant, don’t you think?

Mythical Monday: The Wild Hunt by Mae Clair

I’m digging deep into my memory for today’s Mythical Monday post. I’ve read multiple books in which the Wild Hunt factors into the plot, but can’t come up with a single title off the top of my head. Frustrating.

I’m sure I devoured most of them in the days when fantasy novels were my go-to genre. I remember several scenes vividly. Although I don’t read nearly as many fantasy tales as I once did, I still love a good supernatural/sorcerous novel, along with all of the eerie and ethereal beings that haunt the pages.

bigstock-Horse-Eye-In-Dark-39925873I’ve read stories with dragons and necromancers, dark faerie races and repulsive monsters. Ogres, doppelgangers and slithering beasts. Perhaps none is more frightening than the Wild Hunt – a band of ghostly phantoms on spectral steeds. They can be seen racing across a night-blackened sky or hovering just above the ground, a macabre host surrounded by undead hounds. The chilling sound of the Hunt’s horn echoes through lonely meadows and moon-splattered woods, striking fear into the hearts of all who hear it.

Myths of the Wild Hunt can be traced to Scandinavian and Germanic myth; later to Northern European countries. An omen of ill fortune, the Hunt foretells of looming catastrophe, often of plague or war, most certainly death.

Fortunately it is limited to specific times, beginning on October 31st and ending on April 30th, (Beltane Eve), of the following year. The height of the Hunt’s activity comes during the midwinter festival of Yule (December 21st). On that cold wintery night, travelers would do well to stay indoors, gathered close to the hearth where it is safe and warm.

bigstock-Log-Cabin-In-Winter-28568249In Norway peasants superstitiously left a measure of grain outside between Yule and Twelfth Night to feed the Huntsman’s horse in hopes he would pass them by. If caught in the path of the hunt, travelers knew to fall face down in the middle of the road. If fortunate, they would feel nothing but the icy paws of the hounds passing over their back. Legend says the Huntsman will graciously spare those in the middle of the path, but woe to he who attempts to track the hunt. That ill-fated soul will find himself a captive in the land of the dead.

In many tales, the Norse god Odin is the leader of the Hunt, riding astride his eight-legged steed, Sleipnir. The Saxon version defines Herne the Hunter as leader, and in many legends, King Arthur is one of the huntsmen.

When I think of the Hunt I always envision its wintry existence. Perhaps it is nothing more than the chilling specter of something supernatural blending with the innate cold of winter. The two twine effortlessly, conjuring striking images of silver moonlight, snow and phantom horses in my mind.

Winter will soon be officially upon us with the arrival of Yule on December 21st – the shortest day of the year. I love this month, a truly magical time, culminated by the arrival of Christmas Day. Even as I celebrate that joyous occasion I can’t help but be intrigued by the folklore of the past.

By the same token, I prefer to imitate those lodgers who huddled around their hearths on cold wintry nights, safe and secure in the warmth of their homes. As fascinating as the Wild Hunt is I prefer my December nights full of Christmas cheer, good Yule tidings and merriment.

What about you?