Mythical Monday: Visiting a Haunted Hotel by Mae Clair

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

One of the ponds in the TNT Area of West Virginia

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I recently took a trip to Point Pleasant, West Virginia in order to continue researching my Mothman series of novels. This time, I was able to garner a much better understanding of how the “TNT AREA” is laid out, and visited a few specific locations I wanted to see. Originally used to store munitions in World War II, the TNT is now a wildlife management area that encompasses over 3600 acres. Riddled among dense woodlands, overgrown trails and algae-covered ponds is a network of concrete “igloos” where ammunition was once stored. These are built into hillsides, and covered by trees and grass, making them invisible when viewed from the air.

There are several roads connected to the TNT that I really didn’t have a feel for, including one where cars have been known to shut down or stall for no reason. After visiting, I now understand how they intersect, and was even able to snap a photo of a map for the TNT at the Mothman Museum (yes, there is one). The museum has recently moved to a new building, and it’s far nicer than before. Hubby and I chatted with the guy who runs it for a while, and I was able to pick up some good info and another map.

Metal fencing in front of the site of the old North Power Plant in the TNT area, West Virginia

Site of the old north power plant in the TNT

I also wanted to see the ruins of the North Power Plant along Fairgrounds Road. This is the location where the Mothman was first sighted in 1966. The power plant is gone but I was able to snap of photo of the ruins and location where it stood.

So what does any of this have to do with staying at a haunted hotel?

During my last trip to Point Pleasant, my husband and I stayed across the river in Gallipolis, Ohio. This time we stayed in downtown Point Pleasant in the Historic Lowe Hotel. This is a very old four-story behemoth built in 1904. As I have an old hotel in my novels, I wanted to get a feel for this one.

The owners were super friendly and the location put almost everything I wanted to do within walking distance (except the TNT). I can’t begin to relay the scope of this place—it was mammoth. With its long halls, old stairways, elaborate moldings and woodwork, there were times I felt like I stepped into the Overlook hotel in The Shining. Everything was furnished with antiques, and I do mean antiques—as if nothing had ever been changed. I opened the top drawer on the dresser and discovered an old songbook from the 1940s, the pages yellowed and tattered, inside. The sink in the bathroom had separate faucets for hot and cold water. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a sink like that. The second floor landing had a huge parlor with a piano, parlor benches and chairs, this even before we ventured down the hallway to our room.

So where does the ghost fit in? When I inquired why the hotel was billed as haunted (something I didn’t realize until our last night there), our host told us that a phantom had been seen occasionally on the third floor. Nothing much appeared to be known about this ghost but there was a picture someone had snapped hanging in the second floor hallway. Our host told us the spirit was visible in the photo so my husband and I checked it out. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but have to admit, the image of someone is definitely visible in the bottom right hand corner. I tried to grab a shot of it with my phone. Are you able to see the ghost?

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

Framed photo of ghost rumored to haunt the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia, apparition visible on right

We left the next morning without having encountered any spirits or experiencing anything that went bump-in-the-night (er, not that I would want to). No Mothman, no UFOs, no men-in-black. But I did meet some great people and came away with additional research notes on an interesting, historic town.

Mae Clair Presents: Wytchfae World-Building with Flossie Benton Rogers

I’m delighted to welcome Flossie Benton Rogers, author of the Wytchfae series back to my blog today. One of the things I love best about Flossie’s books is the amount of world-building she does. Characters, creatures, and mythical elements are so vivid and engagingly crafted, they leap off the pages. Today, she’s going to share some of the inhabitants of her fantastic world, including those who populate her new release, DEMONESS DREAMS. Please welcome Flossie Benton Rogers!

~ooOOoo~

Hi, Mae! Thank you for featuring Demoness Dreams today. Since you and I are both interested in mythology and folklore, I thought we’d start by talking about the fae dimensions in my books and a few of the beings that inhabit them.  

The Wytchfae World: The realms encountered in the Wytchfae series of paranormal romance / urban fantasy novels are closer to us than a hair’s breadth. These mysterious places are populated with faeries, witches, demons, angels, goddesses, dark guardians, ghosts and other magical beings. The beings dwell in multiple dimensions parallel to our own earth dimension. Some of the worlds are welcoming, others dangerous and forbidding. Through the darkest night and the fright of unchained chaos, love will always shine.  

Wytchfae: Trained witches who possess a smattering of fae blood. Although they live on our regular earth plane, some of them visit other worlds as well as other times. Different Wytchfae have different abilities.  

Warriors: Some warriors live on the human earth plane and some in the fae dimensions. In the latter, warriors are charged with carrying out plans for powerful magical beings such as goddesses and dark guardians. They sometimes gain prestige for their bravery, such as Bane Heughar’s acclaim as Odin’s Warrior, and obtain a domain of their own.  

Salamander Fae: Fire elementals that assist Helle, the Goddess of the Underworld, in spells and ritual work deep in the recesses of her dark abode.  

Ice Trolls: Huge bluish beasts that look like a cross between a lumbering lowland ogre and a gigantic highland snow beast. They live in the mountains and attack travelers in the snowy dark.  

Grims: Creatures contained in a certain area of the Underworld.  Unfortunately for humans, their nourishment comes from sucking out a person’s life energy via memories. Grims also relish the taste of human blood.  

Remnants: Grims who have degenerated into mindless, zombie-like slugs due to not having access to enough “food.”  

Dark Guardians: Powerful male demigods who are in charge of various domains, such as the undersea realm and the empty void between dimensions.  

Book cover for Demoness Dreams by Flossie Benton Rogers showing a young blond woman and wing only of a large black bird

Demoness Dreams – Wytchfae 6
Desperate to escape her hellish nightmares, Neva Jaxony falls into the arms of rugged Bane Heughar. Is the mesmerizing man more dangerous than darkness itself?  

Blurb: Heaven or hell? Dream or nightmare? Where passion is concerned, the veils are thin.

As her Wytchfae powers intensify and nightmares invade her waking reality, Neva Jaxony seeks answers in the shadowy past. Then a mysterious stranger enters the picture, and she falls hard. Is he the man of her dreams or part of the darkness that threatens to consume her?

Acclaimed warrior Bane Heughar has orders to prove Neva is not dangerous– or kill her before she can turn demon.  He never expected to find her so bewitching, or so damn desirable. He has until the Solstice Moon to carry out his mission. All he really wants to do is take Neva in his arms, kiss her senseless, and for the two of them to disappear off the radar. But when the Underworld is involved, no one can hide.  

Desperate to escape her hellish nightmares, Neva Jaxony falls into the arms of rugged Bane Heughar. Is the mesmerizing man more dangerous than darkness itself?  

First Line Teaser: Hell was the last place Bane Heughar wanted to visit.  

Teaser: He was hard pressed to remember his mission, when all he wanted to do was stash her in his bed and make love to her all night long.  

Book Video 

Excerpt:
Underworld, Modern Day

Hell was the last place Bane Heughar wanted to visit. When the Goddess of the Underworld summoned, you never knew whether it was for tea and scones or to scourge you bloody. Maybe you’d get out in one piece, or maybe twelve. The pulse in his throat thudded at the sight of Helle’s grim expression.

The tautness of her face indicated disturbing emotions rippling beneath the surface. Her flaxen hair framed strong cheekbones, and her wintry grey eyes glittered. She reminded him of one of her showcase fountains—an icy lake with fiery jets that spurted upward and then crashed in startling and unpredictable abandon.

Stern looking soldiers flanked her.

She extended the tips of her fingers. “Warrior.” The scent of jasmine wafted into his nostrils.

He bowed his head to bestow a respectful kiss. “Goddess Helle. How may I be of service?”

“Come with me.” She swiveled, and a bodyguard advanced beside her. She thrust out a palm. “Halt! You shall remain here.”

The uniformed man appeared bewildered. “But Goddess, your safety is my utmost responsibility. I beg you—”

Her visage turned thunderous. “Stay, I say. I will speak to the warrior in private.”

Beckoning for Bane to follow, she led him beyond the entryway of her palace, past her abode and deep into the tunnels of her cavernous domain. The pathways wound around until he doubted even his well-honed sense of direction could extricate him if she left him to find his own way.

What did she have to discuss with him that her own trusted guard could not hear?

A surge of adrenalin sizzled throughout his body. He had never ventured this far inside Helle’s mysterious netherworld. She appeared to be leading him deep into one of her innermost sanctums.

At last they came to a rounded crystal enclave where gleaming spears of quartz grew in wild abandon from the rocky walls and ceiling. The crystal luminescence created a dazzling bombardment amid the strategically situated torchlights. The power generated in the room heated his blood until his ears pounded. He cleared his throat to alleviate the pressure.

Helle made her way to a great tripodal cauldron perched on an array of low rocks. “Salamander fae, forged of earth’s blood, ye living fire, be at peace.” She fluttered her fingers, leaving a shimmering ripple in the air.

The flames beneath the tripod curled blue tendrils around the edges. Bane stepped closer. The tiny salamander fae, tenders of the sacred element, faded into the shadows, giving way to the Goddess. Their movement resounded in the enclave like the faint whispers of hissing steam.

The Goddess Helle swirled her hands back and forth over the cauldron and recited a strange incantation.

Even with his magical fae ability to understand foreign tongues, Bane couldn’t make out all the words. The language probably died out before humanoids rose on two limbs.

The water in the ancient cauldron churned and spewed in the presence of the Goddess of the Underworld. A shape formed in the vessel. The image blurred with the movement of the liquid and then stilled to reveal a stunning face. The woman’s hair glimmered like a halo of spun gold. A light kindled her exquisite features as if she looked upon a dazzling sight. A pleasurable thrill thrummed in the middle of Bane’s chest. When he spoke, his voice came out a whisper. “Who is she?”  

Demoness Dreams Buy Links:
Amazon
Secret Cravings Publishing 
Barnes & Noble 
All Romance eBooks 
Bookstrand 

Author , Flossie Benton Rogers, holding several of her Wytchfae Series novelsAuthor Bio:
Flossie Benton Rogers shares her passion for mythical realms by giving you sizzling dark fantasy romances with fairies, witches, goddesses, angels, and demons. Her writing buddy is the zany calico, Mistress Marigold. Reiki, tarot, runes, and gemstones are sometimes part of the magical mix. Flossie’s birth chart features sun in Sagittarius with a Taurus moon and Libra ascendant, as befits a 5th generation Floridian and freedom loving mystic.

Connect with Flossie at the following haunts:
Website 

Facebook 
Twitter 
Pinterest 
LinkedIn 
Goodreads author page 
Amazon author page 
Tumblr 
Tsu  

Other Books by Flossie Benton Rogers: 
Wytchfae Runes 
Guardian of the Deep – Wytchfae 2 
Mind Your Goddess – Wytchfae 3 
Time Singer – Wytchfae 4 
Dark Guardians – Wytchfae Anthology 1 (Print Only) 
Lord of Fire – Wytchfae 5 

Coming Soon: Soul Weaver – Wytchfae 7 

Mae Clair Presents: Blood Stitches by Erin Fanning #giveaway

Today, I’m happy to welcome Erin Fanning back to my blog with her new release, BLOOD STITCHES. You might recall this fabulous cover being splashed on my blog before, but now the book has officially been released, and Erin has dropped by to answer a few questions. Whether you’re a writer, reader or both, I think you’ll find her post interesting.

She’s also got a giveaway going on for a $20 Amazon gift card, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter link at the bottom!

BloodStitchesCover

~ooOOoo~

From Erin:

Over the past several months, I’ve received lots questions from friends and family about my novella Blood Stitches. It seems like the top three are always the same, sort of universal questions about writing:

How do you come up with your ideas?

I spend a lot of time outdoors–biking, hiking, skiing, and kayaking–so I’m heavily influenced by nature. Current events and everyday encounters often get stuck in my imagination. Turkey vultures perched along the road look like a coven of witches or an ordinary tapestry resembles an opening to another world.

These story ideas churn around in my brain for days, months, sometimes years, until they practically force their way out through my fingertips. Next I jot down several paragraphs or pages, whatever I can. Then I take a breath and make a rough outline of the plot and characters, filling in the blanks, and reworking it as I go.

When do you find time to write?

I’m lucky in the sense that my “regular” job as an online editor for a global information provider, searching the web for international financial news, allows me to work from home. So I often find time to write during the morning, but even though my schedule has more flexibility than most people, I still have to be disciplined. I’m the Queen of Procrastination and Distraction!

How long did it take you to write Blood Stitches?

Along with being the Queen of Procrastination and Distraction, I’m also possibly the slowest writer on the planet. I’m in awe of authors that seem to whip out two books each year. I started writing Blood Stitches several years ago and then put it aside. About two years ago, I picked it up again and finally finished it.

~ooOOoo~

I love Erin’s take on where she gets her ideas from. That’s definitely a writer’s mind at work. And although she may consider her writing turnaround on the slow side, I’ve no doubt the results are well worth waiting for. See for yourself:

Blurb for Blood Stitches:

Love and danger intertwine…

It’s called El Toque de la Luna—The Touch of the Moon. At least that’s how nineteen-year-old Gabby’s older sister, Esperanza, refers to the magical powers she inherited from their Mayan ancestors. Esperanza says women with El Toque weave magic into their knitting, creating tapestries capable of saving—or devastating—the world. Gabby thinks Esperanza is more like touched in the head—until a man dressed like a candy corn arrives at their Seattle home on Halloween. But “Mr. C” is far from sweet…

Soon, Gabby and her almost-more-than-friend, Frank, find themselves spirited away to a demon ball, complete with shape shifters—and on a mission to destroy Esperanza’s tapestries before they cause an apocalyptic disaster… And before it’s too late to confess their true feelings for each other.

View the book trailer here

Purchase Blood Stitches from:
Kensington/Lyrical Press

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Google
Itunes 

Author, Erin FanningAbout the author:
Erin Fanning spends her summers on a northern Michigan lake, where her imagination explores the water and dense forest for undiscovered creatures. In the winter, she migrates to central Idaho, exchanging mountain bikes and kayaks for skis and snowshoes. She’s the author of a mountain biking guidebook, as well as numerous articles, essays, and short stories.

Find Erin at the Following Haunts: 
Website 
Goodreads 
Twitter @WriterErin
Amazon

Rafflecopter Giveway Alert!
Enter to win a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mae Clair Presents: Demoness Dreams – Wytchfae 6 by Flossie Benton Rogers

Are you ready for a paranormal treat?  My friend, Flossie Benton Rogers, has a new Wytchfae novel out. These always intriguing reads, include a wonderful blend of paranormal elements, mythology, and romance. Today, Flossie shares her latest in the series, DEMONESS DREAMS.

Book cover for Demoness Dreams by Flossie Benton Rogers  showing a young blond woman and wing only of a large black bird

Desperate to escape her hellish nightmares, Neva Jaxony falls into the arms of rugged Bane Heughar. Is the mesmerizing man more dangerous than darkness itself?

Blurb:
Heaven or hell? Dream or nightmare? Where passion is concerned, the veils are thin.

As her Wytchfae powers intensify and nightmares invade her waking reality, Neva Jaxony seeks answers in the shadowy past. Then a mysterious stranger enters the picture, and she falls hard. Is he the man of her dreams or part of the darkness that threatens to consume her?

Acclaimed warrior Bane Heughar has orders to prove Neva is not dangerous– or kill her before she can turn demon.  He never expected to find her so bewitching, or so damn desirable. He has until the Solstice Moon to carry out his mission. All he really wants to do is take Neva in his arms, kiss her senseless, and for the two of them to disappear off the radar. But when the Underworld is involved, no one can hide.  

Desperate to escape her hellish nightmares, Neva Jaxony falls into the arms of rugged Bane Heughar. Is the mesmerizing man more dangerous than darkness itself?  

First Line Teaser: Hell was the last place Bane Heughar wanted to visit.  

Teaser: He was hard pressed to remember his mission, when all he wanted to do was stash her in his bed and make love to her all night long.

View the book trailer 

Excerpt:
Underworld, Modern Day

Hell was the last place Bane Heughar wanted to visit. When the Goddess of the Underworld summoned, you never knew whether it was for tea and scones or to scourge you bloody. Maybe you’d get out in one piece, or maybe twelve. The pulse in his throat thudded at the sight of Helle’s grim expression.

The tautness of her face indicated disturbing emotions rippling beneath the surface. Her flaxen hair framed strong cheekbones, and her wintry grey eyes glittered. She reminded him of one of her showcase fountains—an icy lake with fiery jets that spurted upward and then crashed in startling and unpredictable abandon.

Stern looking soldiers flanked her.

She extended the tips of her fingers. “Warrior.” The scent of jasmine wafted into his nostrils.

He bowed his head to bestow a respectful kiss. “Goddess Helle. How may I be of service?”

“Come with me.” She swiveled, and a bodyguard advanced beside her. She thrust out a palm. “Halt! You shall remain here.”

The uniformed man appeared bewildered. “But Goddess, your safety is my utmost responsibility. I beg you—”

Her visage turned thunderous. “Stay, I say. I will speak to the warrior in private.”

Beckoning for Bane to follow, she led him beyond the entryway of her palace, past her abode and deep into the tunnels of her cavernous domain. The pathways wound around until he doubted even his well-honed sense of direction could extricate him if she left him to find his own way.

What did she have to discuss with him that her own trusted guard could not hear?

A surge of adrenalin sizzled throughout his body. He had never ventured this far inside Helle’s mysterious netherworld. She appeared to be leading him deep into one of her innermost sanctums.

At last they came to a rounded crystal enclave where gleaming spears of quartz grew in wild abandon from the rocky walls and ceiling. The crystal luminescence created a dazzling bombardment amid the strategically situated torchlights. The power generated in the room heated his blood until his ears pounded. He cleared his throat to alleviate the pressure.

Helle made her way to a great tripodal cauldron perched on an array of low rocks. “Salamander fae, forged of earth’s blood, ye living fire, be at peace.” She fluttered her fingers, leaving a shimmering ripple in the air.

The flames beneath the tripod curled blue tendrils around the edges. Bane stepped closer. The tiny salamander fae, tenders of the sacred element, faded into the shadows, giving way to the Goddess. Their movement resounded in the enclave like the faint whispers of hissing steam.

The Goddess Helle swirled her hands back and forth over the cauldron and recited a strange incantation.

Even with his magical fae ability to understand foreign tongues, Bane couldn’t make out all the words. The language probably died out before humanoids rose on two limbs.

The water in the ancient cauldron churned and spewed in the presence of the Goddess of the Underworld. A shape formed in the vessel. The image blurred with the movement of the liquid and then stilled to reveal a stunning face. The woman’s hair glimmered like a halo of spun gold. A light kindled her exquisite features as if she looked upon a dazzling sight. A pleasurable thrill thrummed in the middle of Bane’s chest. When he spoke, his voice came out a whisper. “Who is she?”

Demoness Dreams Buy Links:
Amazon 

Secret Cravings Publishing 
Barnes & Noble 
All Romance eBooks 
Bookstrand

Author , Flossie Benton Rogers, holding  several of her Wytchfae Series novelsAuthor Bio:
Flossie Benton Rogers shares her passion for mythical realms by giving you sizzling dark fantasy romances with fairies, witches, goddesses, angels, and demons. Her writing buddy is the zany calico, Mistress Marigold. Reiki, tarot, runes, and gemstones are sometimes part of the magical mix. Flossie’s birth chart features sun in Sagittarius with a Taurus moon and Libra ascendant, as befits a 5th generation Floridian and freedom loving mystic.

Connect with Flossie at the following haunts:
Website 

Facebook 
Twitter 
Pinterest 
LinkedIn 
Goodreads author page 
Amazon author page 
Tumblr 
Tsu  

Other Books by Flossie Benton Rogers: 
Wytchfae Runes 
Guardian of the Deep – Wytchfae 2 
Mind Your Goddess – Wytchfae 3 
Time Singer – Wytchfae 4 
Dark Guardians – Wytchfae Anthology 1 (Print Only) 
Lord of Fire – Wytchfae 5 

Coming Soon: Soul Weaver – Wytchfae 7 

Mae Clair Presents: Marked for Magic by Daisy Banks

Today, I’m happy to share in the celebration excitement for my friend and sister author, Daisy Banks. She has a new release, MARKED FOR MAGIC, which she’s dropped by to tell us about. Take it away, Daisy  . . . :)

~ooOOoo~

Thank you so much, Mae, for helping me celebrate the release of my latest book, Marked for Magic, published by Lyrical Press, a Kensington Imprint, on the 28th of April 2015.  

I decided that as palmistry was the initial inspiration for this fantasy romance I’d offer you and the readers a little something on palmistry marks.

This image is of the main lines most people have on their palm:

Photo of palm with the main lines used in palmistry readings highlighted in red

1: Life line – 2: Head line – 3: Heart line – 4: Girdle of Venus – 5: Sun line – 6: Mercury line – 7: Fate line

These main lines above and their meanings are fairly well known, but the lesser lines are not quite so well understood and it was these I was studying when I got the idea for Marked for Magic.

For this post I have chosen the teacher’s square. You will find this on the Jupiter mount, the pad of flesh beneath your forefinger, or Jupiter finger. This is the sign of someone who is a teacher, it may not be a school teacher but anyone who tutors, or imparts and shares knowledge on any subject.

Thanks so much for reading. I’d love to know if any of you discover a teacher’s square in your hand. Let me know.

Book cover Marked for Magic by Daisy Banks depicts a woman wearing a flowing red gown in a dark forestBlurb:
The witch mark on Nin’s hand is a curse. She has no magic powers, whatever the lore says. But the village believes. The old crone’s wisdom is to see her banished. Ragged and hungry, she must serve the Mage. Alone in his tower, she is his chattel. But Mage Thabit is not what Nin expected—the bright green eyes and supple form under his cloak are not the stuff of nightmares, and kindness hides in his brusque heart. Thabit senses that Nin is more than she seems, too. When true nightmares haunt the land, it is precisely her elusive powers that might deliver them…

Excerpt:
“After we eat, I will find you something clean to wear. The gown you have on is less than pleasant. What is your favorite color?”

She sat opposite him. “Red.” She picked up the spoon.

“A bold choice.” He placed the porridge in front of her.

This should be easy. His charm on the cloth would show him how susceptible she might be to all manner of magic. While she ate, he went up to his room where he sorted out a long sleeved, knee length tunic he’d worn in his youth. One of the last his mother had made. A good quality cloth, decorated with a little embroidery at the collar. The only patches were on the elbows of each sleeve. Perhaps the tunic would be long enough to gown her small frame. He returned with it tucked under his arm.

She had eaten and sat worrying at the bandage.

“Here, Nin, as fine a red as you will ever see. You can wear this while you wash the dirty gown.”

Her brows drew together. A little wrinkle appeared on the bridge of her nose. She raised a questioning glance as she took the tunic.

Interesting.

“Thabit?” The soft whisper came again along with the down-swept lashes.

Things would be far easier had they not made her so afraid. He picked up the spoon, intrigued by her thoughtful expression. “Yes.”

“This isn’t red. It’s very nicely made, but this is blue. Is it what you meant me to have?”

He dropped the spoon in the bowl. Unless his skills had slipped, his little sparrow had seen through one of his simplest but most effective glamours. “By the gods of the waters, Nin, you may have a talent after all. I know the tunic is blue, but it should fit you well. You put it on.”

Purchase MARKED FOR MAGIC from:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

itunes 
Kobo 

About the Author:
Daisy Banks writes sensual and spicy romance in the Historical, Paranormal and Fantasy genres. She is an obsessive writer and her focus is to offer the best tale she can to readers. Daisy is married with two grown up sons. She lives in a converted chapel in Shropshire, England. Antiques and collecting entertain Daisy when she isn’t writing and she occasionally makes a meal that doesn’t stick to the pan.

Connect with Daisy at the following haunts:
Blog 
Website 
Twitter @DaisyBanks16
Facebook  
Pinterest 
Tsu 
Amazon 

Mythical Monday: Morning Coffee with the Alp by Mae Clair

Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, brimming with the luck of the Irish, pots of gold, and mischievous leprechauns. Given the playfulness of tomorrow’s holiday, I thought I’d focus on a different kind of imp for Mythical Monday—the Alp.

Did you ever have a really bad nightmare? If so, you can probably blame this nasty elf-like creature who has its roots in Germanic folklore. Alps delight in nothing better than filling the sleep of their victims with ghastly dreams. Some people believe Alps to be the spirits of recently deceased relatives, others that stillborn infants return as Alps. The majority of Alps are male, but their female counterparts are given the name “mare”….as in nightmare.

Photographic representation of painting "The Nightmare" by John Henry Fuseli  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photographic representation of painting “The Nightmare” by John Henry Fuseli
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Crafty beings, they are able to gain entry to a house through the tiniest of holes. Locking doors and windows does little to deter them once they have selected a victim for their nighttime visit. To protect yourself, plug any keyholes with rags and seal up cavities in walls.

Once arriving, the Alp makes itself comfortable by squatting on its victim’s chest and exerting “elf pressure,” as it grows heavier and heavier. Eventually, the density of its weight drags the victim awake. The person normally returns to consciousness disoriented, terrified, and out of breath. Many believe elf pressure was an early explanation for sleep apnea. But the Alp has more going for it than a single nighttime propensity.

Among its magical abilities, it is able to turn invisible, fly, and shapeshift into a dog, cat, pig or white butterfly. The source of its power comes from a hat it is never without. Whatever shape or ability the Alp elects to use, the hat is always visible. Should an Alp lose its hat, it will offer a great reward for the item’s return.

Those in the old country knew there were certain methods to protect themselves from the Alp through the use of wards. These include hanging an iron horseshoe from the bedpost, placing a mirror on a chest, or a broomstick under the pillow. Burning a light all night and having a cross handy will also protect against an Alp. And—as bizarre as it sounds—if you wake during the middle of the night with an Alp squatting on your chest, invite it to return in the morning for coffee.

Yes, coffee. Can you imagine that conversation?

“Uh…if you could just see your way clear to stop squatting on my chest, Mr, Alp, I’ve got some nice French roast I’ll brew up in the morning.  How does sevenish sound?”

Provide a polite invitation, and the Alp will immediately dash off and leave you in peace. But you’d better have your Keurig ready in the morning as promised, because the Alp will be back, eager for its caffeine treat.

So the next time you have a bad dream, stock up on fresh coffee. Maybe you can convince your particular Alp to leave you alone over a cup of Vermont Country Blend or Keurig Dark Magic.

I’m curious…what kind of coffee would you offer an Alp?

Mythical Monday: Corpse Roads by Mae Clair

Imagine a craggy footpath etched into a rugged landscape which ultimately ends at a lonely cemetery or church with ancient burial grounds. In medieval times such “corpse roads” were commonplace—established routes used to transport the dead to their final resting place. Because bodies could only be buried at designated mother churches or minsters, mourners were often forced to transport their loved ones across long distances, usually by foot.

These paths, rugged and uninhabited, became known as corpse roads, church-ways, burial roads, and bier roads. Their topography was frequently dotted with crosses and coffin stones—large, flat stones where a procession set a casket when pausing to rest—and usually crossed a bridge or marsh. Most of our ancestors believed the spirits of the departed could not cross water, hence corpse roads incorporated a path that spanned a ford or lake, preventing the deceased from returning to haunt the living. Bodies were carried with their feet facing away from home, another superstition to keep restless ghosts from returning.

Stream crosses the Corpse Road This is the old drovers track between Eskdale & Wasdale. It is also the old corpse road from Wasdale to the church at Boot in Eskdale.

Stream crosses the Corpse Road. This is the old drovers track between Eskdale & Wasdale. It is also the old corpse road from Wasdale to the church at Boot in Eskdale. Photo courtey Nigel Chadwick [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Spirits, wraiths, and even nature beings such as faeries, were believed to move along special routes like burial roads, flying close to the ground on a straight line. For this reason, any direct path connecting two places was kept clear of obstructing fences, walls, and buildings, so as not to impede the flight of the phantoms. As a result, locals knew to avoid such byways after dark. Labyrinths and mazes had the opposite effect, hindering the movement of spirits.

Flickers of flame called “corpse candles” were often seen traveling just above the ground on the path between a dying person’s house, the cemetery and back again. A phenomenon reported mostly in Wales, it’s also believed corpse candles materialized in churchyards preceding someone’s death.

In some parts of the UK and Europe those endowed with supernatural abilities would watch coffin paths on auspicious dates. These “lych watches” were conducted to receive premonitions of who might perish in the coming year.

There are numerous beliefs and legends tied to corpse roads. Some country folk believe that if a body is carried across a field the ground will thereafter fail to produce a good harvest. Others, that coffin stones were sanctified and placed on church-ways to allow the body a place to rest on its journey without defiling the ground beneath it.

Coffin Stone at Town End This stone is beside a 'corpse road' along which coffins had to be carried from Ambleside for burial at St Oswald's Church, Grasmere. This stone, along with others along the way, was used to support the coffin while the bearers rested.

Coffin Stone at Town End. This stone is beside a ‘corpse road’ along which coffins had to be carried from Ambleside for burial at St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere. This stone, along with others along the way, was used to support the coffin while the bearers rested.Photo courtesy of Gordon Brown [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Legend tells of a funeral procession which bore the body of a man who had done great evil in his life. The procession paused to rest, setting the casket on a coffin stone for a brief time. Almost at once, the casket is struck by lightning, shattering it to bits, reducing its contents to ash, and splitting the stone in two. The procession determines God did not want such a vile soul buried in the cemetery and took actions to prevent it.

Like so many of our forgotten customs and folklore, corpse roads harken back to a time when superstition ruled both day and night and simple folk placed their faith in good over evil. The echo of those beliefs and quiet voices still linger today, buried in the dusty remnants of legend. As long as we keep memory alive, old traditions will always find a place at the campfire. Do you find these old stories as interesting as I do?