Welcome to my blog and Day 8 of the Simply Wicked: 13 Days of Halloween Event, brought to you by the always fabulous JoLynne Valerie and Amy Williamson. If you've been following along, yesterday you visited my very dear friend and sister in the Craft, Psyche Soul Goddess, and the lovely Lily Oak.
Some of you may already know me as author of historical romance (sometimes erotic, sometimes not - sometimes paranormal, sometimes not). Those of you who know me well, are quite aware of my fascination with the occult, the paranormal, all things macabre; my obsession with horror movies, and my lifelong study of the Pagan faiths and Witchcraft. Is it any surprise that this is my favorite time of year?
We are now deep into Autumn, the Season of the Witch, just a few short days from the celebration of Samhain - or Halloween - the Wiccan New Year. Today, Samhain is many things; a time to honor our ancestors, a celebration to mark the end of the "light days" and a transition into the "dark" days of winter, the Feast of the Dead, celebration of the reign of the Queen of the Underworld, the dark Goddess. Mythologically (it's a word - now), this is the time when the God returns to the Underworld to await his rebirth and ascent back to the throne. (Note: Samhain is NOT a celebration of the Celtic God of Death; there is no such thing. The misconception was first stated in the 18th century and persists today) Perhaps most important for the modern child, Halloween is a time to dress up, party with friends, and eat ridiculous amounts of sugar.
But how was Halloween - or the paranormal in general, for that matter - treated in bygone eras, such as the ones that form the backdrop for my books? The Victorians are most frequently credited with the invention of the modern paranormal, thanks to their rabid fascination with all things occult and the literary genius of one Charles Dickens. You don't hear much mention of the paranormal in the Regency era (and admittedly, they were far more skeptical) but it was around.
The first known English astrologer was Mrs. Williams in the 1780s, with Uranus being officially discovered in 1781. Mrs. Williams advertised her services throughout Britain. Vox Stellarum, Moore's astrological almanac, printed nearly 400,000 copies in 1803 and twice that amount ten years later. There were a number of astrological authors, including John Worsdale and Ebenezer Sibley. The artist John Varley was a devout astrologist. Alfred Thomas Story, in his book James Holmes and John Varley, relates a story about Varley, who each morning would meticulously draft his own daily horoscope. One day Varley told his son that he was quite certain something "menacing" was going to happen to him around 12 noon, but he couldn't tell what, or from where. "As the hour of twelve approached he became greatly agitated and walked up and down his studio unable to settle to anything...Just then there was a cry of fire outside He ran out to see what was the matter and found that it was his own house that was in flames. He was so delighted said his son Albert describing the occurrence he was so delighted at having discovered what the astrological effect of Uranus was that he sat down while his house was burning, knowing though he did that he was not insured for a penny, to write an account of his discovery. He had timed the catastrophe to within a few minutes." That's seeing the glass half-full if ever anyone did!
Farmers in the Regency era followed astrological rules related to planting, when planning out their crops for the year. Doctors were trained in the 1700s to use "decumbiture charts," which used astrology to predict the course of a disease.
Let's not forget that Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein in 1816 and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow gave life to the Headless Horseman in 1820. Gothic novels such as The Mysteries of Udolpho popped up in 1797. Jane Austen, our quintessential Regency go-to-girl, most certainly knew a ghost story or two. She even pokes a bit of fun at them in Northanger Abbey.
And now on to what you all really want to know: be there a give-away here? Oh, yes! I have a veritable treasure trove, but here's the thing: the prize depends upon the winner. That's right, you will get a custom prize package tailored to your interests (subject to the limitations of what I have in my arsenal). The possibilities include:
*Autographed copies of Reckless Liaisons, Leading Her to Heaven, and Svetkavista, all by yours truly, along with a copy of Love's Immortal Pantheon Vol. One, an anthology containing my short story, "The Spoils of War."
*A copy of The Witch in Every Woman, by Laurie Cabot
*The Book of Shadows by Lady Sheba
*Herbal Magick by Gerina Dunwich
*The Egyptian Tarot deck (and companion book)
*The Gothic Tarot deck
*one Affection of Aries candle, custom-designed for "The Spoils of War" by Artist JFay.
Here's what you need to do: Comment on this blog and tell me a bit about yourself and what Samhain means to you. The winner will be drawn at random on October 31st!
Check back here for the winner. And in the meantime, continue on the Simply Wicked tour with Day 9 at Intense Whisperer's Blog.
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The Myth of Samhain: Celtic God of the Dead
Witchcraft: Theory and Practice, Ly de Angeles (Llewellyn, 2001)
The wonderful ladies of The Beau Monde, the Regency chapter of the RWA
John Holmes and James Varley, Alfred Thomas Story
All Hallow's Eve, the Jane Austen Magazine