Category Archives: fairy tales

Hekate, Witch or Goddess?

The Abduction of Persephone

Tuesday’s March Tale   March 30, 2021

Springtime is hardly known as the season of witches, but if you are a lover of supernatural stories—and like me you are fascinated by the myths, history, and fiction about witchcraft—every month is the season for witches. Also, since my birth date is on Halloween, I have both a fear and an attraction to witches. And while witches (associated with the word wicked) are traditionally thought to possess evil powers who communicate with spirits and underworld realms, acting out their powers of womanhood, I am wondering if there is much more to discover about witches than just their dark arts.

Today we are exploring the Titaness deity known as Hekate, or Hecate (pronounced Heck-ah-teh), an ancient witch-priestess. You may have seen images of this well-known witch, deemed the queen of witchcraft, black magick sorcerer, as a three-headed figure (she sees in all directions), standing at crossroads, holding torches or keys, with a black dog at her feet. She is revered as the goddess of magick of the night and the underworld, the moon, ghosts, and necromancy. Pretty hot babe, wouldn’t you say? She is among other dark goddesses like Kali, Morrigan, Brigid, Hel, Baba Yaga, Aradia, Isis, Persephone. 

In the story for this month’s reading, The Abduction of Persephone, Hekate makes a brief appearance in this tale of Zeus and Demeter (goddess of the earth) who have lost their daughter Persephone. Hades has abducted the girl. Hekate hears her screams from the Underworld. When Persephone eats the food of the dead, Zeus and Demeter must make a deal with Hades to get their daughter back.

This is an enchanting flash fiction (10-minute read), totally enjoyable, which symbolizes our shifting earth seasons, grief and loss, and brings meaning to mother/daughter love relationships. Reading myths can answer timeless questions about the value and insights of life, love, trust, good and evil. In the art of storytelling, these human experiences are everything.

Read the myth at Muses Realm:

http://www.musesrealm.net/stories/abductpersephone.html

Hekate has a much more powerful and impressive role in The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius (Chapter 47). In this myth, Hekate speaks to us and identifies her qualities. When the narrator Lucius is turned into an ass, it is Hekate who shows him how to return to his human shape.

Read Chapter 47 at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1666/1666-h/1666-h.htm#link2H_4_0061

In my research about Hekate (for a short story I’m writing and my upcoming supernatural novel Draakensky) I found a mix of good and evil in her mythical history. Hekate knows she has powers to both destroy and create and uses that power wisely. Many believe her to be an intuitive goddess, soul-knowing, who holds both darkness and light within her powers. Hekate favors the color black, lavender, and the Yew tree. She is said to be the Dark Mother. I can’t help align her with Mother Nature who brings us fruit, grain, herbs, flowers, the beauty of sunrise and sunset, but also brings us hurricanes, drought, poisonous plants, pestilence and disease.

Other reports of Hekate are less flattering. She is said to be the high witch of the underworld Hades, her rituals and rites associated with death and secrecy, and she can banish or produce a ghost or ghosts infestations. She holds the ultimate skeleton key to unlock the gates to all realms, including Hades. Does she cast spells? Probably. Does she invoke the devil? Some say yes, some say no. There is a clear uncertainty about Hekate. But truth is like the sun, it eventually shines.

If you are in the season of the Crone, on the wise woman’s journey to deeper self-discovery, or curious to experience the cave of feminine power, Hekate is a woman you might like to explore. The archetype of “the witch” is a seeker and bringer of ancient secrets if not deeper knowledge. Witch, goddess, priestess, queen, crone, healer, medicine woman, warrior, shaman, leader, mentor, whatever you call her, feminine power is on the rise in our society.

For more on Hekate, stop by Keeping Her Keys website by Dr. Cyndi Brannen, a psychologist, author, and teacher who writes from the crossroads of psychology, spirituality, and traditional wisdom merging ancient knowledge with modern practices.

https://keepingherkeys.com/

Interested in reading more about the Dark Goddess?

https://thegoddesscircle.net/dark-goddess-magick/

Also, here is a post about Lilith: Ancient Diety: https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/lilith-ancient-demon-dark-deity-or-sex-goddess-005908

At this point, I cannot help but wonder where the crossroads meet between wicked witch vs. good goddess and what we might discover there. Is the shadow side of the Crone archetype the wicked witch? Or maybe it’s something else. What is the Dark Mother really about? You can read about The Dark Mother here: https://thenephilimrising.com/2017/06/22/the-dark-mother-lessons-from-lilith/

Do you think the patriarchy is losing power? These days the Divine Feminine is becoming stronger and more visible every day. There are legendary stories inside all of us. What is yours at this challenging time in our world? Is there a warrior woman inside of you?

Please feel free to add your thoughts to this page. I would love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, romance, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

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The Beauty of Christmas Legends

Saturday’s Tales for Christmas,  December 19, 2020

Shall we go back to our childhood days today? The mythical Santa Claus and his magical sleigh, a sweet babe in a manger who brings love to the world, bright star lights on evergreen trees, festive feasts of meats, sweets, and gingerbread houses, the lonely elf on the shelf, and perhaps a boozy eggnog. One more item we can’t forget are the Christmas legends and fairy tales that make our holidays so warm and memorable.

 

Who doesn’t remember The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen? If you’ve forgotten this sad but poignant story, you can read it here at American Literature. My mom used to tell us this story every Christmas Eve as we drove around town to see all the Christmas lights.  And, this story is especially dedicated to Grandmas, Nanas, and Gramzies because this is a grandparent story too.

The audio is a real treat. The Little Match Girl was meant to be a read-aloud.

Read it here at American Literature:

https://americanliterature.com/author/hans-christian-andersen/short-story/the-little-match-girl

Listen to the audio storybook read by Ewan McGregor, with page-turning illustrations. Beautiful!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHnDT1SO8sc 

 

There is another Christmas legend, less known and one you may not have read. The Christmas Spider (also known as The Spider’s Gift, The Spider’s Miracle, and other cultural variations), a folktale originally from the Ukraine.

I found this story in an old Christmas book. You will be pleasantly surprised how a story about a spider for Christmas will endear you to these odd little creatures.

Read it here, reproduced from my Christmas Book.

The gray spider worked very hard every day making long strands of silk that he wove into a web in which he caught troublesome flies. But he noticed that everyone turned away from him because, they said, he was so unpleasant to look at with his long crooked legs and furry body. Of course the gray spider didn’t believe that, because he had only the kindliest feelings for everybody.

One day when he was crossing the stream he looked into the water. There he saw himself as he really was. “Oh,” he thought, “I am very unpleasant to look at. I shall keep out of people’s way.” He was very sad and hid himself in the darkest corner of the stable.

There he again began to work as he always had, weaving long strands of silk into webs and catching flies. The donkey and the ox and the sheep who lived in the stable thanked him for his kindness, because now they were no longer bothered with the buzzing flies. That made the spider very happy.

One night, exactly at midnight, the gray spider was awakened by a brilliant light. He looked about and saw that the light came from the manger where a tiny Child lay on the hay. The stable was filled with glory, and over the Child bent a beautiful mother. Behind her stood a man with a staff in his hand, and the ox and the donkey and all the white sheep were down on their knees.

Suddenly a gust of cold wind swept through the stable and the Baby began to weep from the cold. The mother bent over Him but could not cover Him enough to keep Him warm.

The little spider took his silken web and laid it at Mary’s feet (for it was Mary) and Mary took up the web and covered the Baby with it. It was soft as thistledown and as warm as wool. The Child stopped His crying and smiled at the little gray spider.

Then Mary said, “Little gray spider, for this great gift to the Babe you may have anything you wish.”

“Most of all,” said the spider, “I wish to be beautiful.”

“That I cannot give you,” Mary answered. “You must stay as you are for as long as you live. But this I grant you. Whenever anyone sees a spider at evening, he will count it a good omen, and it shall bring him good fortune.”

This made the spider very happy, and to this day, on Christmas Eve, we cover the Christmas tree with “angel’s hair” in memory of the little gray spider and his silken web.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays,  the gift of love, the gift of peace, and the magic of Christmas stories!

 

For one more Christmas story—one of my own creations—stop by my December 7, 2017 blog post for Christmas River Ghost. A ghostly holiday story about family, celebration, coming home, and a Christmas peacock.

“They come—through the icy wind, between the naked trees, walking the bridge, by Eagle Hill River … on Christmas Eve … ”

Read the Christmas River Ghost:

https://paulacappa.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/christmas-river-ghost-by-paula-cappa/ 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, romance, and mainstream fiction.

 Stop by every month or sign up to follow my blog to read one short story every month. 

 

Comments are welcome!

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Granny and That Red Riding Hood

The Werewolf   by Angela Carter (1979)

Tuesday’s Fairy Tale, A Modern Retelling   August 11, 2020

As an avid reader, you might know that fairy tales are being retold in modern and highly inventive ways. You may have seen titles like Cinderella is Dead or The Librarian and the Beast or Alice, The Wanderland Chronicles. Retellings of Little Red Riding Hood are one of the most popular stories to flood the literary marketplace. Amazon has over 100 retellings (The Red Wolf; Moon and Fangs; Reluctant Hood).  Why we still love fairy tales comes from our need to believe that magical things can happen to common folk and what better place to indulge in that than fiction.

The original Little Red Riding Hood is believed to have been written by Charles Perrault (17th century), or possibly more ancient than that as an 11th century poem, according to anthropologist Jamie Tehrani at National Geographic. Most of us know the story as authored by the Brothers Grimm from 1812 “Rotkäppchen.”

Reportedly, there are 58 versions of the tale from Japan to Africa to Korea. Here is the original by Grimm, if you’d like a read:
(https://germanstories.vcu.edu/grimm/redridinghood.html )

This week, however, I bring you a version of Little Red Riding Hood by Angela Carter, The Werewolf. Flash fiction at 900 words, a 5-minute read. And what a read it is. Gothic, pastoral, sharp. And this little riding girl is skilled at using a hunting knife. It ends grimly but like all fairy tales, the last line in this miniature narrative is dramatically tight.

 

Read Carter’s The Werewolf  here at Biblioklept.org:

https://biblioklept.org/2012/06/03/read-the-werewolf-a-short-fable-by-angela-carter/

 

Remember this song? For Betty Boop lovers!

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, romance, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading

one short story every month. 

 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine    HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

   Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian       The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

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Dawn Wind in the Hawthorne

The Witch’s Headstone  by Neil Gaiman  (2008)

Tuesday’s Tale  of  Ghost Fantasy,  June 16, 2020

 

Who doesn’t remember the green-tinted witch in the film The Wizard of Oz? Deep inside our psyches, we are all ten years old when it comes to witches. And maybe deep inside you, there’s a little bit of a witch stirring around. Have you buried her? Author Neil Gaiman writes a story about not just ghosts in a graveyard, but a buried witch. I urge you to dig up your witch’s psyche and read what Gaiman has to tell us about traveling into the world of the dead.

A boy named Bod.  A witch. A graveyard. And of course, ghosts.  Bod is a charming young fellow who visits a graveyard and is fascinated by the residing ghosts. He meets the witch from Potter’s Field, and his adventures with an ancient Indigo man and the frightening Sleer create even higher dangers in the real world. An exciting little story that is entertaining for adults as well as for a YA audience (55% of YA readers are adults who love coming of age stories).  I felt like I was brought back to my own childhood with Bod exploring a graveyard and finding a mission to please the dead. As modern fairy tales go, this one is a charmer.

(Witch’s Headstone, illustration)

 

Read the short story here at Epdf.pub:

https://epdf.pub/the-witchs-headstone.html

 

The Witch’s Headstone was published as a short story in the Gaiman anthology M Is for Magic and in Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy. This story is an excerpt from Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. If you enjoyed Bod’s adventures, you’ll likely want to read The Graveyard Book.

 

Neil Gaiman

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 

Follow or sign up to join me in reading

one short story every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine    HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

   Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian       The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

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Baba-Yaga and Vasilisa: Creative Fires

Vasilisa the Beautiful, Russian folktale (1860s)

Tuesday’s Fairy Tale      January 14, 2020

 

Baba-Yaga lives in a hut made of chicken legs with a fence of skulls on sticks.  Magical words can make the hut turn. There are variations of this fairy tale over the years (Vasilisa the Wise, Vasilisa the Brave, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Vasilisa the Fair), but  in most versions Baba-Yaga is known to eat people, especially children who smell of Russian flesh.  Some versions have Baba-Yaga as benevolent, in others, she is wicked. This is a story about fear, strength in adversity, wit, wisdom, and what we commonly define as witches. The word baba refers to babushka, or grandmother.

Vasilisa is a child who lives with her nasty stepmother and stepsisters. The ugly stepsisters send Vasilisa to the visit the witch Baba-Yaga, so she can fetch her magical fire and bring it back to light their house. But the sisters are hoping Baba-Yaga will devour Vasilisa the beautiful.

The frightened little girl spends days walking through the dark woods to Baba-Yaga’s hut.

 

Once Vasilisa meets Baba-Yaga, she discovers this crone is a wild and untamed woman. She is cruel to Vasilisa and forces her to perform unending tasks every day, promising no firelight to bring home. In desperation, Vasilisa calls upon her secret doll that her mother had given her before she died.

“Please help me. Baba-Yaga has given me an impossible task to do and if I fail she will eat me.”

What happens? Vasilisa defeats her opponent with truth, integrity, and a secret power.

This story is actually a reflection of maternal wisdom and feminine intuition, full of symbolism of light, darkness, and the feminine face of power. One might call it a dark goddess story because it identifies the blessings of all mothers (including Baba-Yaga archetypes) who came before us to achieve our strength, liberation, and independence. Sophia Wisdom is here too. We fear aging and death. The interaction of Sophia Wisdom (within Vasilisa) with Baba-Yaga is a force that assists Vasilisa in confronting her highest fear, death.

 

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés interprets the story of Baba-Yaga in her seminal work on fairy-tales, Women who Run with the Wolves. Estés writes:

“To my mind, the old Russian tale “Vasalisa” is a woman’s initiation story with few essential bones astray. It is about the realization that most things are not as they seem. As women we call upon our intuition and instincts in order to sniff things out. We use all our senses to wring the truth from things, to extract nourishment from our own ideas, to see what there is to see to know what there is to know, to be the keepers of our own creative fires, and to have intimate knowing about the Life/Death/ Life cycles of all nature – that is an initiated woman.”

“Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women.  The Wild Woman is both magic and medicine.  Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.”

From Caitlin Matthews author of Sophia Goddess of Wisdom,  “Sophia, Holy Wisdom, came into the Russian soul never to leave it. She is deeply associated with the native images of Vasilisa and others.”

If you are tempted to read this 10-minute story, take the path through the woods with the little girl Vasilisa and meet Baba-Yaga. Read it here at SurLaLunefairytales.com :

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/babayaga/index.html

 

Another version is here: Listen to the YouTube.com audio of A Story of Baba-Yaga

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

  

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine    HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

   Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian       The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

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Believe in Fairies? Yes!

The Faery Handbag  by Kelly Link

Tuesday’s Tale of Fairies   November 26, 2019

 

Today, let’s believe in fairies.  Flower fairies, fish fairies, tree fairies, beach fairies to name a few. We should believe in everything until it’s disproved, right? And no one has disproved that fairies exist. Nightmares and dreams are not part of our waking daily activities yet they exist in everyone’s night life. So, let’s believe in fairies.

Fairy stories always bring me back to my childhood, but this one by Kelly Link brings me beyond my childhood. The Faery Handbag opens with Genevieve and her friends shopping in the Garment Center. She is in search of her Grandmother Zofia’s faery handbag—who are said to live inside it. Here is how Genevieve describes it.

“The faery handbag: It’s huge and black and kind of hairy. Even when your eyes are closed, it feels black. As black as black ever gets, like if you touch it, your hand might get stuck in it, like tar or black quicksand or when you stretch out your hand at night, to turn on a light, but all you feel is darkness.”

A chilling moment, yes? This story is mostly about Grandma Zofia who claims to be over 200 years old.  Do you know the difference between a horrible liar and a wonderful liar? What fun, and because this little adventure is so well written, I’m sure you will not be able to stop reading. The story won Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Awards, and was originally published in the anthology Faery Reel: Tales From The Twilight Realm, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It is also in Kelly Link‘s second short story collection, Magic for Beginners.

You can read the short story by Kelly Link here at SmallBeerPress.com

https://smallbeerpress.com/free-stuff-to-read/2005/07/01/the-faery-handbag-by-kelly-link/

Kelly Link is an American author who writes magic realism, fantasy and horror. She has won several awards for her short stories, including the World Fantasy Award in 1999 for “The Specialist’s Hat”, and the Nebula Award both in 2001 and 2005 for “Louise’s Ghost” and “Magic for Beginners.” Link  is the founder of independent publishing company, Small Beer Press, along with her husband, Gavin Grant.

 

On the same subject of fairy tales but from a classic perspective, if you’ve never read The Tale of Tales, Giambattisa Basile’s 17th-century book of fairy stories, you might enjoy these very odd and magical tales that are more for adults than children. On Amazon:

 

The FaeryReel by Ellen Datlow has a variety of short stories by such authors as  Charles de Lint, Delia Sherman, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, and Hiromi Goto, and more. On Amazon.com  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0142404063

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

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