Category Archives: witches

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

3 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, dark literature, fairy tales, fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, historical fiction, horror blogs, literary horror, literary short stories, literature, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales, witches

When I Was a Witch

When I Was A Witch  by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1910)

Tuesday’s Tale of Witches    February 19, 2019

Women and their identities have long been a theme in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fiction. This short-short is a cunning little story about when wishes come true. If you are an animal lover of cats, dogs, horses, and fascinated by the power of witches, you’ve got to read this one!

 

“The thing began all of a sudden, one October midnight–the 30th, to be exact. It had been hot, really hot, all day, and was sultry and thunderous in the evening; no air stirring, and the whole house stewing with that ill-advised activity which always seems to move the steam radiator when it isn’t wanted. I was in a state of simmering rage–hot enough, even without the weather and the furnace–and I went up on the roof to cool off.”

 

 

Read the short story (30-minute read) here at Fantasy-Magazine:

http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/when-i-was-a-witch/

Listen to the audio (21 minutes) on YouTube:

Librivox  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3XDqr7H3rc

 

Many of you here at this blog know Gilman for her ground-breaking, bestselling The Yellow Wallpaper (read it here). She was a member of the prominent Beecher family of Connecticut, author of novels and nonfiction, 200 short stories, plays and thousands of essays, a poet, philosopher, and Utopian feminist for social reform.  Suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt called Gilman “the most original and challenging mind which the (women’s) movement produced.”  Gilman was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman took her own life in 1935 after learning she had inoperable breast cancer.

 

“It is not that women are really smaller-minded, weaker-minded, more timid and vacillating, but that whosoever, man or woman, lives always in a small, dark place, is always guarded, protected, directed and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it.”  – CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN

 

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

Leave a comment

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, paranormal, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, tales of terror, witches, Women In Horror

Witch Hunt, Shirley Jackson Style

The Witch  by Shirley Jackson

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   August 8, 2017

Everyday evil. Shirley Jackson is a master at the subtleties of normal life streaming with little horrors. Most of us know Jackson’s most famous The Lottery (which she reportedly wrote in one morning) and The Haunting of Hill House.  In this 14-minute read of The Witch, the story opens with a little boy and his mom on a train. There is a little sister too. All cozy, right? Enter the witch, and this one is far from the old crone  you’d expect.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the short story here at jlax.wikispaces.com.

 

Listen to the  11-minute audio here at YouTube.com

 

 

 

“Shirley Jackson is the master of the haunted tale . . .   Everything this author wrote . . . has in it the dignity and plausibility of myth . . .  Shirley Jackson knew better than any writer since Hawthorne the value of haunted things.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Leaves no doubt as to Miss Jackson’s craftsmanship and power . . . utterly convincing detail that breaks down the reader’s disbelief.”
Saturday Review

 

I also recommend Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a novella, twisty and suspenseful tale. Book review on Amazon.com.

 

Do you love to read book reviews? I have about 100 book reviews on Amazon.com at Paula Cappa Reviews. Please stop by and take a quick read and click into the book title to read full review. I’d love it if you answer YES ‘if this review was helpful to you’:  PAULA CAPPA REVIEWS ON AMAZON.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’

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

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

EZindiepublishing

6 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, mysteries, occult, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, witches, Women In Horror

Never Poison a Witch

Catskin  by Kelly Link   (2012)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 31, 2017

 

imgres

 

 

When we think of witches, we don’t think of soft round women, scented and powdered, wearing pink tufted slippers, and living in cute houses. They are more like women with twisted hearts that beat fierce blood into powerful spells over their victims. Kelly Link writes in odd directions and this story, Catskin,  is a world where you can totally lose yourself. Are you up for a horrific fairy tale? Here’s a warning: Never poison a witch.

The witch, up in her bedroom, was dying.

Now, since witches cannot have children in the usual way—their wombs are full of straw or bricks or stones, and when they give birth, they give birth to rabbits, kittens, tadpoles, houses, silk dresses, and yet even witches must have heirs, even witches wish to be mothers—the witch had acquired her children by other means: She had stolen or bought them.

6acbb350fb67dfe1614b6400a9dd3c50

Do you like creepy cats? When I think of old cats, I conjure up lazy ones on a quilted bedspread, eyes slit closed and their soft minds dreaming in the shadows—a little bit like Poe said in The Raven: “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” Truly, I do.

 

rblack_cat_eyes-17951

 

maxresdefault

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats trotted and slunk and leapt and crouched. They were busy. Their movements were catlike, or perhaps clockwork. Their tails twitched like hairy pendulums. They paid no attention to the witch’s children.

 

Witches and cats … a winning combination for a short story.

 

 

6b9d548992bbf6d087fdbc39198ff3c1

Ancient Proverb: You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.”

 

Read Catskin at LightspeedMagazine.com  

 

kelly-linkKelly Link’s  debut collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards. Her second collection, Magic for Beginners, was chosen as one of the best books of the decade by Salon and The Onion.  Kelly has taught at Smith College, Columbia University, UMass Amherst, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Clarion, Clarion West, and Clarion South in Brisbane, Australia, and the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University.

 

51wunfntanl-_ac_ul115_

 

Read more of Kelly Link’s work like Catskin in her Magic for Beginners.

 

 

Check out BuzzFeed’s Cat Stories.

/////////////////////////////////

 

15940742_1231316186946636_7134412461241915755_n

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of nearly 200 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, ghost stories, and horror. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

  

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 

The Kill Zone

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

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

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

Leave a comment

Filed under dark fantasy, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, witches, Women In Horror

A Witch is a Witch

The Witch  by Anton Chekhov (1918)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 3, 2015

images

The lovely and young Raissa, adorned with hair plaits that touch the floor, is a witch. Or maybe not. Her husband Savely is a red-haired, grouchy and repulsive  older man who believes his wife is a witch and blames her for the wicked snowstorm and cold they must endure in their little house in the countryside.

Our story opens in true Chekhovian style with descriptive atmospherics.

 

imgres“A plaintive lament sobbed at the window, on the roof, or in the stove. It sounded not like a call for help, but like a cry of misery, a consciousness that it was too late, that there was no salvation.”

A postman and his partner become lost in the storm and knock at their cabin door. Raissa opens the door to these strangers. And the postman becomes enchanted, or should I say bewitched, by Raissa’s lovely neck.

 

 

741740

Watch for the fascinating dark imagery that is the star of this story. Sexual and spiritual desires are themes in this fiction by the long acclaimed master of the short story, Anton Chekhov. He is famous for his anti-climactic endings that leave a reader to ponder Chekhov’s messages. And his prose! We can still marvel today at his talents.  Eudora Welty  said “Reading Chekhov was just like the angels singing to me.” For my writer followers here, in case you’ve not read Chekhov’s Six Principles of a Good Story, here they are. My favorite is #6. Chekhov certainly fulfilled that one.

  1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of a political-social-economic nature
  2. Total objectivity
  3. Truthful descriptions of persons and objects
  4. Extreme brevity
  5. Audacity and originality: flee the stereotype
  6. Compassion

 

150px-Anton_Chekhov_and_Olga_Knipper,_1901Chekhov’s death has been a well-known story in literary history. Raymond Carver fictionalized it in his short story Errand (read it here). If you’re a Chekhov fan, you must read Errand. Chekhov’s wife Olga  tells it like this.  “Anton sat up unusually straight and said loudly and clearly (although he knew almost no German): Ich sterbe (“I’m dying”). The doctor calmed him, took a syringe, gave him an injection of camphor, and ordered champagne. Anton took a full glass, examined it, smiled at me and said: “It’s a long time since I drank champagne.” He drained it and lay quietly on his left side, and I just had time to run to him and lean across the bed and call to him, but he had stopped breathing and was sleeping peacefully as a child.” [From Olga Knipper, Memoir, in Benedetti, Dear Writer, Dear Actress, 284]

 

anton-chekhov-by-serov-1903

 

Read The Witch at the Classic Reader http://www.classicreader.com/book/394/1/

Unfortunately I could not find an audio of this story but there are many others here at Chekhov Audio.

[Art of nude witch is by Albert Joseph Penot, “Sabbat,” 1910]

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 Bibliophilopolis

Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

2 Comments

Filed under Anton Chekhov, fiction, horror, horror blogs, literature, psychological horror, short stories, suspense, tales of terror, witches

Old Murderess, Fledermausse

The Invisible Eye   by Erckmann-Chatrian (1850s)

Emile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 18, 2014

Master Christian is a struggling and penniless artist who spends his days at his window creating paintings. His room overlooks the sprawling town of Nuremberg and an intimate view of the Boeuf-Gras Inn. One night Christian observes a man hanging from the crossbeams of the inn’s sign. Christian describes the victim …

“ … the hair disheveled, the arms stiff, the legs elongated to a point, and casting their gigantic shadows down to the street! The immobility of this figure under the moon’s rays was terrible. I felt my tongue freezing, my teeth clinched. I was about to cry out in terror when, by some incomprehensible mysterious attraction, my glance fell below, and I distinguished, confusedly, the old woman crouched at her window in the midst of dark shadows, and contemplating the dead man with an air of diabolic satisfaction.”

This old wretch is famous among the local folk for her hideous grimaces of pointed teeth, beady green eyes, puckered cheeks. She is known as Fledermausse, from whom all children flee and adults shun. Even societies of cats decline her company; not a single sparrow comes to rest under her roof.

images

We soon learn that three victims have hung themselves on that the Inn’s crossbeam, and all three were occupants in the inn’s “Green Room.” Christian is convinced that Fledermousse is somehow responsible for their suicides. He suspects the old hag has  occult powers and is preparing another snare from her darkness.

.

Christian follows Fledermausse for weeks. He must know what powers she possesses as she moves about town with a basket on her arm and then climbs up her stairway covered in old shells to her worm-eaten balcony. Then one night, Christian sees that the Green Room has a new occupant. He cannot sit idly by this time; he must act and act quickly if he is to save the innocent man who has entered the Green Room.

Will Christian succumb to Fledermausse’s evil powers?

2154-Francis-Moore,-1657-q75-148x200

.

Read The Invisible Eye online at Gutenberg.org (Library of the World’s Best Mystery and Detective Stories).

Listen to the audio at Librivox 

300px-Erckmann-Chatrian_woodburytypeEmile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian

Hardly anyone reads these guys anymore. So, I figured it was time for a reminder. Known as “The Twins,” this famous French duo wrote many tales of the supernatural during the mid- to late-1800s. The Crab Spider, The Man-Wolf, The Wild Hunstman received much praise from M.R. James.  H.P. Lovecraft admired their work; Flaubert had nothing kind to say about them. Together they published 60 volumes of short stories, novels, and plays.

Some of their other titles you might like:  The Murderer’s Violin, The Owls’s Ear, The Three Souls, The Child Stealer.  I found The Owl’s Ear to be an especially creepy and suspenseful read. You can listen to The Owl’s Ear at Librivox.

.

41b3JzyfhRL._SL500_AA300_

.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications   The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, horror, occult, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, witches

Dreaming Little Traps of Horror

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel   by Thomas Ligotti  (2005)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 11, 2014

.

220px-BlakeReddragon

.

Have you been watching Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective on HBO? thomas-ligotti Pizzolatto says in an interview with The Arkham Digest  that “the work and vision of Thomas Ligotti was very influential for imagining Cohle’s (Rustin Cohle) overall worldview.” Cohle is a nihilistic and hypnotic character in this compelling crime and horror series. If you became mesmerized watching True Detective as I have, you will likely enjoy the short stories of Thomas Ligotti. His prose is luscious and the philosophy of horror one of the darkest you’ll experience. And while Ligotti is not a classic dead author as I normally feature here, I felt stimulated this week at the conclusion of True Detective to read one of Ligotti’s shorts.

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel is about angels and demons with a dash of Gnostic theology. Add nightmares and the power of evil (favorite elements of my reading and in my own writing) and you’ve got a story intense with horror.

A young boy suffering from nightmares is brought to the long-widowed and witchy Mrs. Rinaldi for her curative methods.

“Do you know what dreams are?” she asked quietly, and then immediately began to answer her own question. “They are parasites-maggots of the mind and soul, feeding on the mind and soul as ordinary maggots feed on the body. And their feeding on the mind and soul in turn gnaws away at the body, which in turn again affects the mind and the soul, and so on until death.”

Until death. Makes one wonder if you could literally die inside of a nightmare … and then what? Does the nightmare triumph in the end? This young boy’s bodiless nocturnal adventures are not to be missed as you go with him into the blackness of old time.

Read Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel at Ligotti.net

.

In keeping with today’s dream themes and for my classic horror fans …

HOUSENightmares5642762The House of the Nightmare  by Edward Lucas White (1906)

Edward Lucas White wrote stories based on his own nightmares. This story is more than fantasy or a writer’s imagination. Our narrator is a traveler in the countryside when the image of a white stone catches his eye and he crashes his motorcar. He is knocked out and awakens to find a young boy with a hideous harelip, staring intensely at him. He spends the night inside the boy’s house and drops into a nightmare.

“It had a hot, slobbering, red mouth, full of big tusks, and its jaws worked hungrily. It shuffled and hunched itself forward, inch by inch, till its vast forelegs straddled the bed.

This story will remind you of being a little kid, alone in your darkened room, afraid of the monster under the bed. White’s most famous short story collections are Lukundoo and Song of the Sirens

ELWhitemages

Read The House of the Nightmare at Gaslight.mtroyal.ca

Listen to the audio at Librivox Recordings

.

TRUE DETECTIVE LINKS YOU  MIGHT LIKE

 WSJ blog:  http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/02/02/writer-nic-pizzolatto-on-thomas-ligotti-and-the-weird-secrets-of-true-detective/

Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/allenstjohn/2014/03/09/six-things-to-watch-for-in-the-true-detective-finale/

HBO: http://www.hbo.com/true-detective#/

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2356777/

.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 HorrorSociety.com  

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications   The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

 

Art is by William Blake, Red Dragon

3 Comments

Filed under demons, Dreams, fiction, horror, Night Sea Journey, Nightmares, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales, witches