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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WANT SOME FREE SCARY BOOKS FOR HALLOWEEN?

What makes your flesh crawl?

Spiders?

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flies?

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Creepy crawlies?

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If you enjoy a good scare then this Scare-alicious collection of YA tales will give you the chills. As the spooky season approaches wouldn’t it be gruesomely fun to have some creepy reads? If you like horror, eerie, sinister and strange, then this selection of books and stories are for you. Plus they are all FREE!!!

You will have to sign up to the author’s newsletter to get them, but hey, would that be so bad? Who knows you may just find a new author to follow.

My novelette Changeling Fog part of The Song of Forgetfulness Sci-fi/dystopian series, is there for you to enjoy.

So, why not click on the  link below to get your gnarled fingers on some truly spine-tingling reads.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/scarealiciousya

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If you want more strange and  weird stories, check out my anthologies:

Glimmer: myBook.to/Glimmer

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Crow Bones:  myBook.to/CrowBones

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Happy Halloween!!

Have you heard about Women in Horror Month? Author spotlight – Angeline Trevena

To celebrate Women in Horror Month

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I am hosting an author spotlight on Dystopian Horror writer – Angeline Trevena and her book The Bottle Stopper, Book 1 of The Paper Duchess Series.

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I tend to think of myself as one of the unlikeliest horror writers you’ll ever meet. I am terrified of spiders, the dark, the sight of blood. Much of my day is spent creeping round the house investigating sounds that absolutely must be either an intruder or a ghost.

AHHHH!!!  A SPIDER!!!!!sacophage-2

After all, I once had a nightmare after watching the Eddie Murphy film ‘Coming to America’. Yes, really.

Yet, fate found it funny to make me one of the biggest horror fans going. Ever since my brother introduced me to the classic horrors of the 70s and 80s when I was a teenager, I’ve been hooked.

Despite that, I was a late comer to the likes of Stephen King and Clive Barker, not picking up their books until my 20s. But once I did, I made a pretty quick shift from reading fantasy, to reading the kind of books that had me jumping at every bump in the night.

And that was when I started writing horror too.

I’ve actually been composing stories since before I could even write, and it’s, pretty much, my natural state. If I wasn’t a writer, I honestly don’t know what I’d do. And yes, being such a scaredy-cat, I do scare myself with my own writing. Frequently.

In fact, I would hate to meet my horror-self in a dark alley!

Angeline as scary self

Because, that’s how I see it; there’s me (favourite colour yellow, watches trashy dating shows, laughs at fart jokes), and then there’s horror me (filled with an uncontrollable darkness, knows several ways to kill a person, truly sadistic). Two very separate people.

But, even when they are filled with an uncontrollable darkness, women can have a very tough time in the horror genre. Sure, we’re allowed to write about romantic vampires, but when it comes to the real horror, the gory horror, the truly terrifying, many see that as a male-only domain.

Though I’ve never experienced it myself, I do know other female horror writers who have been told that ‘women shouldn’t write horror’, or even that they ‘can’t’. This leaves many women using pen names, or gender ambiguous names, knowing that their books will simply sell better if they don’t publicise the fact that they’re female. Sadly, however, the industry will never change if women keep hiding. Not that I blame them, it’s savvy business sense after all.

And that’s where initiatives like Women in Horror Month (WiHM) come in.

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Now in its 7th year, WiHM runs every February worldwide, and seeks to celebrate, promote, and support the work of women in the horror genre. It pulls together a wide variety of events, such as screenings, festivals, readings, blog hops, podcasts, and even blood drives, from all over the world.

You can get more information on WiHM on their website:

www.womeninhorrormonth.com

This year, as part of WiHM, I’m having a week-long sale of my latest book, The Bottle Stopper. This is the first book in The Paper Duchess series, set in a dark future dystopia where women are owned and controlled by the state.

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The Bottle Stopper follows the story of Maeve, a girl left in the care of her abusive uncle after the administration took away her mother. Maeve, lives in the slums, outside of the system, but it’s an existence she’s desperate to escape from. In fact, as her uncle’s violence towards her increases, it becomes a matter of life and death.

Trouble is, to save her own life, she has to sacrifice the lives of others.

The Bottle Stopper:

“Too much trouble, and you’ll end up just like your crazy mother.”

Maeve was six when they took her mother away, and left her in the care of her Uncle Lou: a drunk, a misogynist, a fraud.

For eleven years she’s lived with him in Falside’s slums, deep in the silt of the Falwere River. She bottles his miracle medicine, stocks his apothecary shop, and endures his savage temper.

But as his violence escalates, and his lies come undone, she devises a plan to escape him forever. Even if it means people have to die.

If you like stories of oppressive governments, genetic selection, mass murder, and the fight for freedom, if you look for unlikely heroes and always root for the underdog, you’ll love The Bottle Stopper.

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And for a whole week, from February 8th – 14th, you can grab the Kindle edition for just 0.99!!!

From either Amazon.com, or Amazon UK. www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01360P622

If you want to know more about Ageline and her work, please visit her website:

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www.angelinetrevena.co.uk