Mythical Monday: Jellyfish of the Air? by Mae Clair

There are many strange things that exist or are rumored to exist in our world, plus a plethora of oddities that defy explanation. Many people believe multiple dimensions flow through alternative timelines and places, others that they coexist within the same time and space as us, but aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Wilhelm Reich, a controversial psychoanalyst born in the late nineteenth century, was so convinced of this fact he set out to capture evidence on film.

Intense northern lights (Aurora borealis) over Lake Laberge, Yukon Territory, Canada, with silhouettes of willows on lake shore.Reich’s theory was built around the concept of something called “orgone,” a life force or cosmic energy omnipresent in the ground and sky. As proof such energy existed, Reich offered the Northern lights and St. Elmo’s fire as examples. He was so enraptured of the idea, he built “orgone accumulators”—life size boxes in which he hoped to harness the energy and use it to cure his patients of diseases such as cancer.

The problem with that: Wilhelm Reich was not a licensed medical practitioner, and this procedure along with his highly dubious mental state and other questionable treatment theories, eventually landed him in hot water with the authorities of his day. Details of Reich’s life can be found on Wikipedia for anyone interested in learning more about his bizarre behavior and therapy concepts.

What interests me is an experiment he supposedly conducted in 1953 with the help of photographer Norman Leistig. Reich had Leistig’s assistant raise an “orgone-charged” rod into the air in the hopes of attracting one of the invisible beings he believed existed. Within five seconds a huge jellyfish-like creature attached itself to the rod, becoming visible long enough for Leistig to capture it in a photograph. But the terrified screams of Leistig’s assistant so repulsed the manifestation it faded from sight.

Supposedly, twelve additional people witnessed the spectacle. Reich and Leistig were so unnerved by the experiment they refused to discuss it (although it’s rumored Leistig referred to Reich as “the Devil himself” much later in life).

Interestingly, I couldn’t find a single mention of this experiment among the numerous sites I visited related to Reich or Leistig, and I checked many. Even Google images came up blank. That makes me question whether it even took place, but like anything in a “cabinet of curiosities” I’m drawn to the idea. I originally stumbled across the story and a pin of the photo on Pinterest.

The original link connects to a photo blog for the Caledonian Mining Expedition Company. Check out the second photo from the top, then come back and let me know what you think. Hoax or not you’ve got to admit that is one seriously cool photo…although I certainly wouldn’t want to get stung by that thing. No wonder Leistig’s assistant screamed his head off!

Mae Clair Presents: COLE IN MY STOCKING by Jessi Gage #HolidayRomance

Jessi Gage is back with a “cool” new release!  ‘Tis the season for holidays and romance, so you won’t want to miss COLE IN MY STOCKING, Jessi’s delightful holiday story.

JessiGage_ColeInMyStocking_800px

Blurb:
Mandy never planned to return to Newburgh, New Hampshire, the hometown that unfairly branded her a slut, but she has no choice. Her father has died, and she’ll be spending Christmas settling his affairs. She hopes to get in and out of town without attracting the looks of disgust that drove her away, but when a certain Oakley-wearing, Harley-riding cop starts hanging around, an old crush is revived and the rumor mill restarts with a vengeance.

Cole has always been attracted to Mandy, but he has never acted on it. Besides being sixteen years older than her, he was friends with her father. The rumors people in town spread about her were bad enough without an inappropriate relationship adding fuel to the fire. But when Mandy returns to Newburgh fully adult and looking more gorgeous than ever, he can’t keep his distance, especially when an old secret of her father’s surfaces and puts her in danger. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her, but convincing her to stay in Newburgh, with him, will take a Christmas miracle.

Reader Advisory: Contains references to a past sexual assault

Excerpt:
Lamenting my lack of AAA membership, I trudged back to the driver’s side door and climbed in. My best friend Heather had given me a heated seat pad for the trip. I nestled into the welcoming warmth and fished my insurance card out of my wallet. I was pretty sure my insurance company provided roadside assistance. But would it make my rates go up if I used it? Surely not. I hadn’t gotten in an accident. It was just a stupid flat. Living in down-town Philly on a social worker’s salary, I could barely afford to keep the beast in Valvoline oil and low-grade gasoline. Higher insurance rates were out of the question.

Hoping for the best, I dialed the 800 number. A sharp knock on the window made me yelp.

My phone clattered into the inaccessible abyss between my seat and the console. I’d lost countless spare change, Chap-Sticks and morsels of Chex Mix to that abyss. If anyone ever plumbed its depths, they’d be sure to find fossilized remains of lost species of gas station foods and thriving colonies of automotive dust bunnies.

And my cell phone. Crap.

I turned the full force of my scowl on the perpetrator, forgetting to be fearful until the height and breadth of the person registered.

A man. Crowding my window and blotting out the light of a faraway streetlamp. Panic made a fist around my heart.

I slammed down the door lock with one hand while feeling for my cell phone with the other. Duh. Empty cup holder. Nine-one-one was not an option.

Meanwhile, my eyeballs strained to make out the man’s face, and I realized why it was so difficult. The wide brim of a tan state trooper hat left all but the man’s square chin and firm mouth, which was surrounded by five-o’clock-plus-two-extra-days stubble, in shadow. That mouth was as unforgiving as rebar. When it moved with a glass-muffled “Everything all right?” it offered a glimpse of slightly crooked lower teeth.

I knew those teeth. That mouth. That chin with the faintest of dimples in the center.

It had been so long.

The knot of panic in my chest simultaneously unwound and morphed into mortification. Of all the people I’d planned to avoid on this trip, Cole Plankitt topped the list.

Purchase COLE IN MY STOCKING from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | All Romance | Goodreads

zz_Jessi Gage headshot2Jessi Gage bio
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. She’s a passionate reader of all genres of romance, especially anything involving the paranormal. Ghosts, demons, vampires, witches, weres, faeries…you name it, she’ll read it. As for writing, she’s sticking to Highlanders and contemporaries with a paranormal twist (for now). The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

Connect with Jessi Gage at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter 

Mythical Monday: The Snow Maiden by Mae Clair

I’m cheating today by reblogging a Mythical Monday post I ran in December of 2012, although I think this will be new to most of my readers. Given the craziness of the holidays and the writing projects I’ve been juggling (final edits for my publisher on MYTH AND MAGIC (releasing June of 2015) and trying to wrap up my Mothman mystery so I can submit it), I neglected to come up with a Mythical Monday post today. I hope you don’t mind this trip down memory lane . . .

~ooOOoo~

As much as I love warm weather (and wouldn’t mind living somewhere tropical year round), I’ve always held a fascination for stories set in cold climates. A few of my all-time favorite novels have earned that distinction because the author employed a winter backdrop. Snow settings can be beautiful and magical, but also claustrophobic. THE RINGED CASTLE by Dorothy Dunnett (book 5 of the Lymond Chronicles) is an amazing read set in 16th Century Russia that conjures all three of those feelings.

Beautiful young woman in dressed in old fashioned winter furs and pearlsRussian folklore is also where I found the legend of The Snow Maiden, a short poignant fairy tale.  There are several variations but all agree on the basics—a woodcutter and his wife, lonely and childless, decide to amuse themselves one day by fashioning a snegurochka, a maiden from snow. Taken with their creation, they fervently wish her to be a daughter they can love and cherish. Their desire is so strong it weaves an enchantment that brings the snow maiden to life. She appears in a robe and cap of pale ivory that is embellished by pearls and trimmed in white fur. Overjoyed, they take her into their home as their own child.

All is well until the first sign of spring when the snow maiden tells them she must head north to lands where winter still reigns. Upset at the thought of losing her, the woodcutter barricades the door as his wife wraps the girl in her arms to prevent her from fleeing. As she holds her, the snow maiden slowly melts into nothingness. Overcome by grief, the couple mourns throughout the year. The next winter their daughter returns and their sadness becomes joy. The snow maiden promises to stay the season and return each year after that.

Young women standing in forest as sun breaks through the treesIn another version of the tale, the snow maiden falls in love with a young man from the village. One day they wander into a birch wood where the last vestiges of winter are fading and green shoots struggle to push up from the ground. The snow maiden turns her face to the sun, and with its touch, dwindles into an icy mist that is whisked away by the wind. And so winter must always yield to light and life as winter yields to spring.

I love these old fairy tales. What about you? Are there any special ones that come to mind? Any favorites from childhood that still resonate with you the way snow and winter resonate with magic?

Mae Clair Presents: Gemma Brocato with An Ancient Introduction to Christmas and MISSION: MISTLETOE

It’s always a pleasure to have Gemma Brocato, friend and Kensington/Lyrical Press sister author on my blog. Not only does she have a great post today about the ancient traditions of Christmas, and her new holiday release MISSION: MISTLETOE, but she’s also brought along a special treat.

Gemma’s novella A WINTER WEDDING is FREE today on Amazon! A continuation of her HEARTS IN HARMONY novel, it’s an ideal holiday read. Grab your copy, then make sure you come back to read Gemma’s post and get the deets on her other holiday romance!

A Winter Wedding Free

Saturnalia — An Ancient Introduction to Christmas
By Gemma Brocato

When I first thought about writing my holiday science fiction novel, I knew I didn’t want to make the story about Christmas per se. I wanted to detail a celebration that went much further back. I began researching the Winter Solstice and discovered Saturnalia, an ancient Roman celebration that laid the foundation for our present day Christmas celebrations. It seemed a perfect solution.

Originally a one-day festival, Saturnalia soon evolved to a full week of celebration due to its popularity. The Emperors Augustus and Caligula tried to reduce the number of days, but the mass populace resisted their efforts. The event was more than just fun, feasting and games. It was a festival to honor Saturn, the god of sowing and the harvest. During the banquet, an effigy of the god could be one of the honored guests.

The best part of the festival was the temporary reversal of roles between masters and their slaves. Masters served meals and slaves were granted luxuries such as gambling and lazing around the house for a change. Their style of dressing tended to be more relaxed during the event. Santa’s hat supposedly originated at this time, a peaked woolen cap that symbolized a freed slave. This is also the time the Lord of Misrule made his first appearance in history. A family member was appointed to serve as host for the celebration.

Many of the traditions of the festival are still visible today. Decorating outdoor trees, placing greenery over doorways, merry-making pranks and gift-giving.

particular tree bare of white poplar and shrubs in the branches of mistletoeMy novella, Mission: Mistletoe is set in the future, where religious celebrations have been outlawed, but a festival for the harvest was allowed. So I set the story on a space station in orbit around Saturn, in December. It’s a story about the medicinal properties of the parasitic plant which is one of the symbols our present day holiday celebrations. The plant thrives off the nutrients of its host, usually an oak or apple tree. Kissing under the mistletoe was first associated with Saturnalia. People revered the plant as the bestower of life and fertility. Ancient Celts worshipped the plant for its mystical powers. It was also believed that Loki used the plant to poison Balder, the god of the summer sun, plunging the world into winter. Balder’s mother, Frigga, goddess of love, wept for her son, and it is said that her tears became the sticky white berries of the plant. She managed to bring her son back to life and in gratitude, kissed everyone who passed beneath the tree on which mistletoe grew.

mistletoe isolated on a white backgroundNow, here’s the sad part. Generally, when you are researching Mistletoe, you’ll come up with sites that display pictures of holly. The holly plant features sharp, pointy leaves and red berries. Mistletoe has white (and sometimes red berries) but its leaves are smooth, elliptical-shaped. So don’t be fooled. Kissing under the holly might be fun, but under the mistletoe, it’s magical.

~ooOOoo~

MISSION:  MISTLETOE
Genre: Science Fiction romance
Publisher: Gemma Brocato
Date of Publication: Nov 19, 2014 
Number of pages:
120

Mission_Mistletoe_Cover_CompressedBook Description:
In her quest to find a cure for the disease that killed her father, Rhayne Drake accepts a position as a researcher on a remote space station. Once in orbit around Saturn, she uncovers the true intent of the study: the ruling political party plans to use her research to kill, instead of cure, anyone carrying the genetic marker for the disease. Including Rhayne herself. 

Griffin Cooper, the station’s recreation manager, is charmed when he meets Rhayne. First he saved her from death by cargo-mover. Now he’ll fight to save her from a worse fate.

Set against a Saturnalia, a winter holiday festival, Rhayne and Griffin must find a way to defeat the political Coalition’s sinister plot before it’s too late.

Excerpt:
Rhayne froze as the over-laden Airfloat bore down, her mouth opened in a silent scream. Holy Titan! She’d die on this transport without ever stepping foot on the space station, not to mention Saturn.

Her breath squeaked out in a rush as someone grabbed her around the waist and swung her out of the path of crushing death. Her body went one direction while her briefcase flew the other. The screeching sound of the airbrakes engaging on the cargo float rang in her ears. A cacophony of other sounds erupted—men roared warnings to watch out and glass broke as boxes crashed to the floor with the sudden stop.

Rhayne’s body came to rest between the solid wall behind her and a hard, man-sized body that covered her, protecting her from falling containers and shattering glass. The aroma of Cassini Ale tainted her olfactory cavities, bitter and astringent, as broken bottles released their contents onto the floor in front of them.

“Are you okay? What in Titan’s name are you doing in the cargo bay? This area is off limits.”

The deep voice was velvety smooth in her ear. Warm breath tickled her cheek, and she rubbed the spot as she nodded her head. The large man eased away enough to give Rhayne her first glimpse of his rugged features.

The flow of his face was mesmerizing. From the top of his perfectly-shaped and completely bald head to strong brows, poised over eyes the color of Earth’s sky just before leaving the atmosphere. A shiny gold earring winked on his earlobe, an oddity in a society that had ceased mutilating their bodies with piercings and tattoos generations ago. He was the kind of rebel she’d fantasized about while at university, where she’d been forced to conform to a regimented curriculum with no room for individuality. Sharp cheekbones and a square, stubbled jaw completed the look. This man was beautiful and dangerous. Rhayne’s breath caught. She cleared her throat attempting to appear less awestruck.

“I turned right when I should have turned left. I’m looking for the off-load bay.” Rhayne frowned at the raspy quality of her voice.

Suddenly aware of her rescuer’s body pressed intimately against hers, she put her hands on his chest and pushed. “You can back away now. The danger is past.”

Purchase MISSION: MISTLETOE from Amazon

Author, Gemma BrocatoAbout the Author:
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a slip of paper 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 a vocation as a romance author.

Connect with Gemma at the following haunts:
Website and Blog 
Facebook
Twitter 

Goodreads 
Wattpad
Google+ 

Also By Gemma Brocato:
Cooking Up Love
Hearts In Harmony
Exposed To Passion
A Winter Wedding 

Mae Clair Presents: Donna Cummings on “Who Has Influenced Your Writing?”

She’s back! Please welcome Donna Cummings to my blog. This super friendly and supportive author of “humorously ever after romances” was one of the first friends I made online way back in the twilight years of 2012. It doesn’t seem possible I’ve been at this gig a full two years now (gulp!), but what fun it’s been. Not only have I made great friends, but I’ve discovered a treasure-trove of incredible reads, Donna’s among them.

She’s sharing a post today about the early influences that spur us to pursue writing, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her latest releases.  For a fun contemporary romance, be sure to check out FALLIN’ IN LOVE, a flirty novella with a lovable pooch as “matchmaker”, the historical romance boxed set, SWEET SURRENDER, and, finally—LORD WASTREL, a Regency romance that will have you alternately giggling and swooning. I do so love Donna’s “rakes.” :)

And now . . . 

Who Has Influenced Your Writing?
By Donna Cummings

Have you seen Pigpen, the character in the Peanuts cartoon with the permanent cloud of dust around him? That’s me and all the ideas constantly swirling around my brain. (Okay, the cloud of dust is also because I’m too busy writing to do housework.)

At random moments one of those myriad ideas will surge to the front of my brain, and, for some reason I can’t quite figure out, it’s usually when I’m in the kitchen. Maybe it’s a self-defense mechanism, because I rarely accomplish anything worthy in that room of the house, so the ideas may be trying to distract me from setting off the smoke alarm, yet again.

The other day’s random thought was about who had influenced my writing adventure. I discovered there were more than I realized, and for wildly different reasons. So here are some of the most influential:

FIL_medJessica Fletcher
Yes, the grande dame of TV mysteries was a huge influencer. Or, to be more precise, the opening credits where she is typing away at her kitchen table is what made such a lasting impression. Each week I experienced a visceral hit when I saw those typewriter keys flying because that was the job I wanted.

I don’t actually have a kitchen table. I definitely don’t have a manual typewriter. But every time I’m sitting on my couch, tapping away at the laptop keyboard, I’m inwardly smiling, knowing I’m fulfilling the dream that started when I saw good ole Jessica writing her mysteries at home.

Mr. Hanson, my high school English teacher
As a teenager, I was more enthralled with reading than writing, and I only wrote things that were required, like papers and book reports. I felt like I had a certain facility with words, but I wouldn’t have called myself a writer, since only people whose books I was devouring were writers.

Mr. Hanson seemed to recognize, and appreciate, how much I loved words, and he continually encouraged me in his kind, patient, and compassionate way.

Whenever I complained about how much work a project required (often), or how it was way too hard (really often), his response was always this: “Do you know how diamonds are made? Heat, and pressure.”

I have to remind myself of that when I’m in the throes of editing and revising, all-too-ready to admit defeat by throwing the uncooperative WIP onto the coal heap. Because if Mr. Hanson thought I had the potential to be a diamond, way back when, I’ve got to believe it too. No matter what I hear from. . .

SweetSurrender_200My muse Endora
I know many of you have heard me whine about mention Endora. She has a knack for disappearing when I need her assistance, and then returning to sniff disdainfully at what I consider my best work.

She actually started out as my Inner Critic, a position she is well qualified for, only somehow she promoted herself to the position of Muse.

So how has this beastly creature influenced me?

She’s impossible to please, so I’ve quit trying. As a result, I’ve learned to write what I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll still bounce things off her–er, I’m talking ideas here, not coffee cups. #seriously #notreally

But she’s helped me realize there will always be different viewpoints on a story, and it’s good to carefully consider all of them. But, in the end, I do what I feel is best for the story I’ve envisioned. And I let Endora do what she does best, which is. . .I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

LW_medMy mom
My mom was an avid reader, and thanks to her, I became one too. My sister, who shares the same DNA, is not a reader, and never will be, which completely puzzles me. (When my sister was born, the nurse brought my mom the wrong baby, but after a few minutes realized her mistake and returned with the right one. Still, I’ve often wondered if that other baby was a reader. . .)

Anywho, when I was growing up, being a writer wasn’t really a viable job option. My mom’s parents were freelance newspaper writers, and it was an unpredictable way to make a living, even though they clearly loved it. My mom was always supportive of everything I did, yet I knew she wouldn’t encourage me to go that route, so I chose a more practical, secure career path. I continued to watch the opening credits of Murder, She Wrote, though, pining for that life, all while reading books about the craft of writing.

When my mother was ill, a few months before she died much too young, I told her I was thinking of taking a writing course. I expected her to say, “that’s nice”, but to my surprise, she said, “I think that would be great“. To my further astonishment, she said several times that weekend, “I really think you should take that course”.

So I did. And I’m convinced she’s glad I did.

So these are just a few of the folks who have influenced me. I’m sure I’ll think of more–the next time I wander into the kitchen with the vague notion of “making something besides a mess”.

Now it’s your turn. Who has influenced your writing?

Welcome Page PhotoBio:
I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.

I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

I can usually be found on Twitter, talking about writing and coffee, and on Facebook, talking about coffee and writing.

Look for Donna at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Facebook 

Twitter 
Goodreads 

LORD WASTREL
When Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, plays matchmaker, true love can seem like a curse. . .

Lord Wastrel–the most notorious rake in London–has a child? Clearly he knows how to sire one, but he has no idea how to actually raise one. He has to learn quickly, since he is the little girl’s only surviving parent, and he’s determined to find a wife who can be a suitable mother. All he needs is someone demure, and biddable, and most importantly, scandal-free.

Lady Felicia Selby is no stranger to scandal, thanks to her numerous failed elopements and Society’s insatiable curiosity about her misadventures. She has devoted many years to finding her one true love, desperate to escape the consequences of the family curse if she fails. But she has begun to give up hope.

Then, one evening, a chance encounter with Aphrodite changes everything.

~~99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!! ~~

Purchase LORD WASTREL from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble 

iTunes 
Kobo

Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair, Now in Print

Need something for the book love on your holiday list? What about a stocking stuffer for the bibliophile in your life? I’m excited to announce that ECLIPSE LAKE is now available in print, just in time for the holidays!

Book cover for Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair depicting a summer lake with rushes at sunset

BLURB

Small towns hold the darkest secrets. 

Fifteen years after leaving his criminal past and estranged brother behind, widower Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown on the banks of sleepy Eclipse Lake. Now, a successful businessman, he has kept his troubled past a secret from most everyone, including his seventeen-year-old son.

But memories in small towns are bitter and long.

Ellie Sullivan, a nature photographer for a national magazine, has a habit of ping-ponging across the map. Her latest assignment leads her to Eclipse Lake where she becomes caught up in the enmity between Dane, his brother Jonah, and a vengeful town sheriff. When freshly-discovered skeletal remains are linked to an unsolved murder and Dane’s past, Ellie is left questioning her growing attraction for a man who harbors long-buried secrets.

Review Snippets

Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair is powerful reading, a dark plot with shafts of hope shining through…Fast-paced, written in Mae Clair’s signature gritty elegance, she combines family, love, mystery and redemption like an artist creating a masterpiece!

—D. Bylo, Tome Tender Book Reviews  

Mae Clair does an excellent job of building emotion and intrigue, and racing you to the conclusion of the story. I love three-dimensional characters and I wasn’t disappointed.

—H. Senesac

Mae Clair has created characters, a place, and a story that masterfully over flows with all the stuff that great stories are made of… She knows how to weave a fabulous tale, and as reader you know early to let go and let her take you on an amazing ride.

—V. Kennedy 

This was a sweet, emotional, and beautifully written page turner. Mae Clair has a knack for putting me in a scene with her characters. Her lush descriptions fill my senses.

—J. Gage, Gotta Read Book Reviews 

Purchase ECLIPSE LAKE from:
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Print

Add ECLIPSE LAKE to your Goodreads List 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Mythical Monday: The Wampus Cat by Mae Clair

I’ve been a fan of werewolves since I was a kid, and readily admit to having OCD (Obsessive Cat Disorder), so it should come as no surprise that I was instantly intrigued by the myth of the Wampus Cat.

A legend steeped in Appalachian folklore and Native American culture, the Wampus has been sighted mostly in the south. From Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and even West Virginia, this half-human, half-animal creature inspires rumors often shared in hushed whispers. Standing upright with a long tail and glowing eyes, the Wampus is described as a cross between a human woman and a mountain lion or a lynx. It is said to exude an odor so repugnant—an atrocious mix of skunk and wet dog—that those who encounter it are instantly overcome with nausea.

Preying mostly on livestock, this foul-smelling cryptid isn’t above dining on human flesh when the urge arises, particularly should it come across a lone traveler out at night, or a lost child.

Attractive woman with native Indian Cherokee makeup and feathers in her hairThere are several different variations on how the Wampus Cat came into being, but the most common involves a young Cherokee woman who decided to spy on her husband. In one version of the tale, she is a jealous wife who follows his hunting party from a distance. Cloaked in the fur of a mountain lion, she creeps into the men’s encampment at night to listen as they share stories around the fire even though she knows women are forbidden. It is only a matter of time before she is discovered and brought before the village Shaman for justice. He curses her to wear the skin of the lion forever, changing her into a creature that is half cat and half woman.

In another, similar, version of the tale, she follows the men because she desires to learn the secrets of magic, listening to the sacred rites they share around the fire. Her fate is the same in this account—she is discovered and transformed into the Wampus cat by an unforgiving Shaman for her brazen foolishness.

Yet a third tale, set in West Virginia, describes the woman as an aged witch who lives alone. In the dark of night she slips from her home stealing and killing livestock. Suspecting her of witchcraft, the townspeople set a trap for her.

One night as she creeps stealthily through the dark, several follow her to the homestead of a local farmer. There, she transforms into a cat and slips inside the man’s house where she places a spell on the occupants so they sleep throughout the night. Afterward, she heads to the barn, intent on her nefarious business. As she begins the transformation back to human form, the townspeople catch her, interrupting the change. From that moment on, she remains forever trapped between the two forms—human and cat—vanishing into the woods where she remains to this day.

It is said the Wampus cat possess a chilling hiss and an ungodly scream so the next time you go traipsing through the woods don’t dismiss any frightening sounds. Werewolves and vampires aren’t the only creatures who favor the dark!