The Joy of Hex – Part Two -Witchcraft

From prehistoric times some form of ‘witchcraft’ has existed, but then, unlike now, the casting of spells was more to do with the art of healing than any association with devilry. Most ‘witches’ were herbalists, wise women, or, ‘cunning folk’, who were adept at making potions to cure a range of illnesses. Often providing charms and offerings alongside incantations to protect livestock from predators by using these ‘blessings’ to keep them safe.

The belief in the power of magic has existed since mankind created social settlements where large numbers of people lived and worked. Fearing the forces of nature, inevitably, someone would try to make the unknown less scary by using rituals and spells to ward off evil spirits, whether natural or supernatural. Cave drawings often show people dancing wearing animal costumes alongside images of a ‘witch’ as seen in the photograph below.

Once, such ‘magical’ folk were revered, but as time went on people became wary of these magicians that could seemingly perform supernatural feats. From the 7th century, attitudes changed and terms such as ‘black magic’ spread fear into the hearts of god-fearing folk. With Christianity taking over from paganism as the main religion, it wasn’t long before the church found such powerful shaman a threat. Witch hunts in the name of God became a way to frighten people into turning against their own to preserve the status quo and get rid of annoying, possibly subversive women and men in the community. These poor people didn’t stand a chance against the prejudices and hatred from fanatics who turned communities against someone who was not quite like everyone else. So began the long centuries of demonising the innocent.

During medieval times being accused of witchcraft was a death sentence. Anyone who had a black cat, a mole, some kind of physical tick or blemish, and could conjure up an effective poultice for a wound or boil, would be suspected of being in league with the devil. The caricature of the old hag with a broomstick became the norm.  Wise women in a village were the subject of scorn and accused of evil deeds.

 In the UK, The Witch Finder General, Matthew Hopkins, made it his life’s work to seek out and destroy those accused of witchcraft. Through gruesome torture, he and his allies gained forced confessions from terrified men and women who would often be accused of the crime by friends or family. From the 15th to the 16h century over 100,000 people were hanged or burned at the stake for being witches.

This fear of sorcery lasted well into the eighteenth century when the cruel and unjust system of identifying a witch was abolished, courtesy of – The Enlightenment. A period in history which advocated the use of reason over superstition, and in 1736 the laws against witchcraft were repealed.

Witches and warlocks exist to this day but are no longer seen as dangerous. Often known as Wiccans, these people regard themselves as spiritual folk following pagan beliefs, incorporating mystical sorcery such as divination, herbalism and, Tarot reading. Casting spells not to summon demons or ghouls but to help find a true love, get promoted at work, or simply to engage more with nature and the universe.

You can read more about Wiccan magic in this article:

 https://wiccanspells.info/wiccan-pagan-articles/different-types-magick/

The idea of possessing supernatural powers is deep-rooted within our psyche. Whether it comes from a religious source or from the belief in our own need to connect with natural forces, magic and the casting of spells will never go away. Now, we accept it as part of our everyday world, whether it is reading our astrological predictions or buying Himalayan Salt Lamps, we need to believe that we are more than the sum of our parts, and can control the elements to do our bidding. Does it work? It might. The power is in the belief that it will.

Go to this blog to find out how to cast spells for good luck here:

Since it is Halloween, I thought I’d post an extract from one of my ghostly horror short stories – Daub – it’s in my anthology Glimmer, which just happens to be on offer for only 99c! You can purchase a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H89AN1M

From Daub:

Isabelle fell back onto her ankles and covered her mouth with her hands. She heard a muffled sobbing come from the place where she had seen the child squatting the night before, and shuffled away. She looked at the wall. The yellowing plaster moved in and out like sickly lungs and Isabelle saw a small mouth appear. It opened and closed as if trying to suck in air and said, ‘When can I come out?’

‘What? Who’s speaking?’

‘It’s me mama, Roland. Can I come out now, it’s too hot and I can’t breathe. Mama? Mama, where are you? Mama!’ The child’s voice became hysterical and it shrieked the last, ‘Mama’ so loud that Isabelle thought her eardrums would bleed. She felt something tickle her wrist, looked down and saw the imprints of five small fingers on her skin.

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If you want to know more about my work, visit my website: 

or my Amazon page: 

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The Joy of Hex

Part one: The Power of Words

Today and tomorrow I will be publishing some witchy-type posts especially for Halloween.

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Ever since mankind created language, words have been used to manipulate, enlighten and confuse. So it is little wonder that words should also prove to be powerful weapons in the form of spells, hexes and incantations. Even prayers and hymns have special supernatural powers as they are a way to grab the attention of a god, or gods. Most religions encourage these invocations to create a sense of spiritualisation and ceremony that help the devotee contact their inner soul becoming closer to nature, God, and themselves.

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Certain words have become magical, imbibed with a power that if spoken or written down, can be used as a charm to ward off evil, or cause an adversary to come to harm. The most familiar of these is Abracadabra. Although known as a stage magicians phrase, the word dates back to Roman times and is thought to come from the Hebrew words for the Father, son and Holy Spirit – ‘ab, ben, ruach hakodesh’. Which some say is derived from, Abraxas. This word has special powers as according to Greek numerology, it adds up to 365 which is the number of days in a year.

These words become even more potent if written or said repeatedly. As in the case of Abracadabra, when it is in a pyramid shape and used as a Medicinal charm:

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When mankind began to write words, such magical incantations could now be stored and used at the discretion of the owner. The earliest ‘spell’ comes from ancient Mesopotamia etched onto cuneiform clay tablets found in the city of Uruk somewhere between the 5th and 4th centuries BC.

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Books of magic spells have been around since ancient times and have been used not only for religious purposes but also for science. Alchemists used magic to find The Philosopher’s Stone and turn base metal into gold. Witch doctors and wise women, used words to help heal the sick, and don’t forget early scientists had numerous books for predicting the future through astrology.

In Ancient Egypt, magic and spells were a part of everyday life. The symbolic use of words was very important. Used for protection, to summon gods and demons, and to help loved ones live a happy afterlife. These words are often found etched onto tombs, pillars, and even embalming shrouds, showing just how important magical words were to these superstitious people.

Ancient Egyptian priests used many magic books such as The Book of the Dead, to help those who have died pass on to the next life. The most potent of all was The Book of Dreams. This book allowed people, through incantations, to fall into a dream-like state to travel through time, space, and even to the realm of the dead.

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Papyri Graecae Magicae, or The Greek Magical Papyri is the name for scrolls from Graeco-Roman Egypt, that contain magical spells, formulae, hymns, and rituals dating as far back as the 100s BC to the 400s AD. For use by travelling magicians, scholars and medical practitioners, these ‘books’ have detailed descriptions on how to cast spells, invoke spirts, demons, and even how to create love charms.

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A similar Jewish papyri dating back to ancient Egyptian times, seems to be rooted in performing religious ceremonies to interact with spirits in order gain advantage over another. Names are also important in Jewish magical traditions. In the creation of man, God summons life after a series of ‘speech acts’. Mentioning one of God’s many names can be a powerful tool to finding love or as with Joshua, demolishing the walls of Jericho.

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Later, more textbooks on magic came into existence, such as The Grimoire, or Spell books, which are still used today.

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These books give precise instructions on how to cast a spell and how to create magical amulets and talisman. You can read more about them in this article: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/apr/08/history

So for authors, using spells as part of their story, is a natural choice when writing in genres such as fantasy and magic realism. The power of such words evokes a sense of otherworldliness and spirituality that helps a reader to become wholly engaged in what they are reading.

Books, therefore, are magic!

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If you want to learn more about my work, visit my website:

www.oddlybooks.com 

or my Amazon page where all books in my Sci-fi/dystopian series – The Song of Forgetfulness – are on offer for only 99c each!!

https://www.amazon.com/Nicola-McDonagh/e/B00D4NAH0S/

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Watch out for part two – Witches and Witchcraft

Author Spotlight – Stevie Turner

I am very honoured to announce an author spotlight for the multi-award winning author Stevie Turner. As we speak, her novel, For the Sake of a Child, is being read by a New York film production company after winning a silver award in the Depth of Field International Film Festival competition. To learn more about Stevie, click below:  https://about.me/stevie_turner/ 

Website:  http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk

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This award winning novel will be on offer until 7th April for only £0.99! I highly recommend that you get your copy now!

For the Sake of a Child:

Ginny Ford is pleased to win the coveted job of housekeeper to the directors of PhizzFace Inc. However, her joy becomes tarnished by an accidental find whilst cleaning, leading her to suspect that all is not as it should be on the managerial corridor. Delving deeper, she is shocked to uncover corruption and a secret paedophile network that has remained hidden for years, involving the very people she has come to know and trust. Unable to live with her conscience any more, she decides that she cannot keep quiet and that she must find a way of helping all the children involved. However, by trying to help the children she discovers that she has unwittingly put her entire family at risk…..

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Amazon.uk:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU/

Amazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTU/

Amazon Author Page (worldwide):  http://bookShow.me/B00AV7YOTU  

For more information about Stevie and her work please find details below:

YouTube:   https://goo.gl/E8OHai

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172051.Stevie_Turner

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StevieTurnerAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/StevieTurner6

Pinterest:  https://uk.pinterest.com/stevieturner988/

WordPress Blog:  https://steviet3.wordpress.com/

Audible:  http://goo.gl/sz1cXS

Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?vpa=pub&locale=en_US

 Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/105747643789021738179/posts/p/pub

BookSprout:  https://booksproutapp.com/author/875/stevie-turner

Amazon page: http://bookShow.me/B00AV7YOTU

Blog:    https://steviet3.wordpress.com/

 

 

Free and Discount Sci-fi and Fantasy books!

If you enjoy all types of science fiction/dystopian/fantasy/steampunk and pretty much any kind of speculative fiction with space ships, aliens, beings with super powers etc, then this fabulous promotion run by Patty Jenson, is for you.

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There is  plethora of ebooks either free or discounted for you choose from so why not treat yourself? 

Click on the link below to get your AWESOME books:

http://pattyjansen.com/promo/

Sci-fi/Dystopian Bargain Books!

1 HAPPY EASTER

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter. To celebrate I have made all of the books in The Song of Forgetfulness sci-fi/dystopian/action adventure series 99 cents! (Or equivalent depending on where you live in the world.)

So, if you enjoy reading  books that are different, have a strong storyline with offbeat characters, and quirky language, then these novels are for you.

You can purchase the books on Amazon and other online retail sellers. Just click on the links below:

 

“If you like action, and science fiction then you’ll appreciate one of the first books EVER that gives you high powered adrenalin with chilling revelations of utter suspense!”

“I loved the unique language, and both the style and the voice of the book reminded me of Patrick Ness’ Walking Chaos Trilogy.”

“A Silence Heard was action oriented and perilous! I was definitely on the edge of my seat as I read, waiting to find out what happened next!”

“This story was much more than I expected it to be. It has a unique plot that caught me from the very beginning. I really enjoyed the interplay between characters.”

What if your last day at school turned out to be your first day as a rebel warrior?

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Universal Links:

Amazon:

Whisper Gatherers:           getBook.at/book1of4

Echoes from the Lost Ones:    getBook.at/book2of4

A Silence Heard:      getBook.at/book3of4

The Chronicles of Mayer:    getBook.at/book4of4

Other online retailers:

Whisper Gatherers:     https://www.books2read.com/u/b5O7Rk

Echoes from the Lost Ones:     https://www.books2read.com/u/47kz1g

A Silence Heard: https://www.books2read.com/u/bzpW8n

The Chronicles of Mayer: https://www.books2read.com/u/brg9Oe

If you want any further information about the books in the series go to:

http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com

What? They Banned my Book?

At last, I thought, I’m ready to publish Crow Bones.

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At times I didn’t think I would. Already this anthology is causing controversy and a number of outlets have banned it from sale. Why? Because an automated system has decided it has content that would offend. This automated system has not actually read any of the content, so I’m assuming it just made an assumption based on the description where I used the word, ‘incest’. I have taken great care to make sure that any sensitive issues I have tackled in these stories are treated with respect and dignity.

This is the email:

Concerning your book
Crow Bones
BOOK ID: 201746
Our sales channels have asked us not to send certain material to them. Draft2Digital’s automated content review has detected some of this declined material in your book, Crow Bones. As a result, we cannot send this book to the following sales channels:
 24 Symbols
 Kobo
 Apple
 Tolino
 Scribd
The types of material at issue include:
 Incest and Pseudo-Incest: The content portrays characters engaged in sexual
 activity with relatives, blood-related or otherwise. This includes situations
where characters refer to each other using familial terms.
Sales channels not listed above continue to receive this material at this time.
If you believe that your book has none of the content listed above and wish to contest the issue, please reply to this email and we will investigate further.

Now, I looked into this. I went onto these sites and discovered that all of them are selling The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. If you are not familiar with this work, then I can verify that the book is about incest and has many graphic scenes of sexual activity between a brother and sister. So, why is my book being denied publication when there are no sex scenes? I have taken out the word ‘incest’ in my description, contacted the site explaining that my book has ‘none of the content listed above.’ As this goes to print I have received an email stating that they will publish my book after all. Result!

Strange though, that they objected to incestuous material and didn’t mind the other topics in my anthology, such as cannibalism and alien infanticide.

Crow Bones

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint from a spray can.

To celebrate the launch of my ‘banned’ collection of short stories,  I am pricing both my anthologies – Crow Bones and Glimmer –  at only 99c – or equivalent depending on the country you live in. Links below on Amazon.

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Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M6CT8PZ

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M6CT8PZ

Glimmer and other stories


US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

For  sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:

Would you buy this book?

I have been working on my second short story collection for over a year now. I was going to publish it last Christmas, but like I said in my previous post, I got cold feet.

I have now finished it and will be publishing it on November 5th – Bonfire Night in the UK. May as well start with a bang!

Anyway, here is the blurb and cover. Would you buy this book?

Crow Bones:

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, incest, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint mist from a spray can.

 If you like authors such as Philip K Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Annie Proulx and Franz Kafka, then Crow Bones is the anthology for you.

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I will also be launching my new venture – Oddly Books  where I will be publishing my own weird novels and stories as well as getting together other like-minded authors to produce quality fiction that strays beyond the edge of reality.

So, if you are an author who writes quality, speculative, strange stories, please do get in touch.

Here is a short extract form one of the stories in the new anthology

 Soft Boiled.

“The hiss and babble of a pot brewing up bones and gristle gave the kitchen a sense of bustle despite the stillness of the sole occupant.

Alice, fixed to her seat, did not waft her flushed cheeks, scratch the itch that made her thigh twitch or wipe off the sticky fluid on her fingers. She just sat, stared at the pan and let the blood drip.”

My first short story anthology – Glimmer and other stories – the ebook is on offer at the moment for only $0.99 £0.99. You can purchase it on Amazon:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

Or from a variety of sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:
Any author interested in the Oddly Book anthology, please do get in touch. My email is: nikki@nicolamcdonagh.com. Or leave a comment with a contact for me to get in touch with you.
Thanks for reading!!