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Merry Meet & Thank you for visiting!
This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Sauteed Autumn Veggie Recipe

I promised I was going to start sharing some of my recipes here, and this is one of my favorites! It's incredibly simple, can easily be altered to fit your tastes and is extremely healthy - so healthy that you can have second (or thirds) without ever feeling guilty! Through the Autumn months when Zucchini is plentiful, I usually make this for lunch or as a side dish at least once a week.

Sauteed Autumn Veggie

  • 1med. Zucchini
  • 1sm.  Yellow Squash
  • 1lg. Bell Pepper (any color)
  • 1lg.  Yellow Onion (chopped)
  • 1c. Mushroom (chopped) - I like Portobella or Button, but you can use whatever kind you like.
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 Slice or 1/4 cup Shredded Provolone Cheese
  • Chili Pepper
  • Real Salt
  • Olive Oil
  1. Chop Onion & Pepper. In a skillet over Med-Low add around a tablespoon of Olive Oil to your skillet and toss in onion & pepper.  Using a mini grater or zester, grate in your garlic and stir everything together.  Cover and allow to saute, stirring every few minutes so it doesn't burn. 
  2. Chop Mushrooms.  And add them to your skillet. Continue to stir often. 
  3. While your onions & peppers begin to cook, slice your zucchini and squash length wise and then slice into around 1/4in thickness.  Place Zucchini & Squash in skillet, turn up heat to Med-High and continue to cook.  Stir often to encourage even cooking and keep from burning. 
  4. Saute for about 5-8 minutes. Zucchini should still have some bite, but should easily "cut" with your spatula. 
  5. Sprinkle with Real Salt & Chili Pepper and cover with Cheese. Cover and remove from heat.
  6. Once cheese is melted toss and serve. 
Personally, I like this just as it is - served on a plate! YUMM!  But you can also serve this over brown rice, polenta or even mashed potatoes! If you like more heat, try a good pepper cheese instead of the provolone.  I've made this with a super sharp white cheddar for a side dish and everyone loved it that way as well.  Add additional veggies if desired and play around with spices...

Looking for an easy meal?  Brown some ground sausage with your peppers & onions and serve over rice or polenta.  

This is literally one of my favorite, go-to recipes this time of year. Once you make it, it will be one of yours too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Life's Goals

So lately I've been talking a good bit about goals and making changes. I've made a point to "let you my business dreams, I don't believe I have ever really laid out my goals here for you all to see.  I'm a big believer in the idea that writing your goals down is the first step to seeing them happen.  Because of that I have a hand written version of this in my "day to day binder" (which is something I will explore in depth in another post) where I will see it daily.
all" in on my personal journey of change and vowed to continue posting here throughout in an effort to both find and provide support.  But with the exception of

However, since I have chosen to include all of you in my journey, I thought it only fair that you too get a glimpse of my "end game."  Although to be fair, I have no doubt my ultimate goals will change as my journey continues.  You'll see that my goals (in some areas) cross categories, my physical health is directly tied to many of my spiritual goals and my spiritual goals go hand in hand with many of my lifestyle goals...  But I am listing them the way I am simply for simplification and not because one is more important than another.

For those of you who follow my One Witch's Wonderland Facebook page, this may look familiar as I have posted a short version of it there...

Personal Goals:
  • Build a diet of 90% or more Whole Vegetarian Diet
  • Daily Workout Routine
  • Daily Meditation Routine
  • Get to a healthy weight (150 range)
  • Learn to Kickbox
  • Learn TiChi
  • Learn Yoga
  • Daily Energy Working Routine
  • "Master" My Craft
  • Create Heirloom Book of Shadows for Each Child
  • Earn a Holistics PhD.
  • Earn BS in:
    • Immunology
    • Comparative Religion
    • Women's Studies

Household & Family Goals:
  • Own a Home
  • Send (or be able to) Kids To College
  • Renew Vows & Take Honeymoon
  • Take Kids to Disney World!
  • Create an Heirloom Cookbook
  • Become Fully Organized
  • Build a Sustainable Mini Farm
    (Garden, Chickens, Bees, Compost Heap, etc...)
  • Become a Plastic Free Home
  • Ditch the Teflon & Aluminum Cookware!
  • Learn to Preserve and Can Fruits & Veggies
  • Become a Chemical Free Home
  • Master the 5 Rs - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot
  • Build Organic, GMO Free, From Scratch, Whole Foods Diet

Business Goals:
  • Purchase Store/Home
  • Build Online Business Website
  • Build a Monthly Income of $5000
  • Publish Books:  (Working Titles Given)
    • Sabbats: History, Stories, Celebrations, Food & Family
    • The Witches Herbal Grimiore 
    • The Eclectic Pagan Witch's First Year and a Day Guide & Workbook
    • The Day to Day of a Pagan Witch: Creating Magick Everyday
  • Become a Yearly Vendor at:
    • Pittsburgh's Renaissance Festival 
    • Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day
    • Pittsburgh Pride Day
  • Author and Teach In-Store Classes on:
    • Natural Living
    • Holistic Parenting
    • Holistic Health & Wellness
  • Create Wholesale Jewelry and Cosmetics Lines
  • Become a "Public Speaker" in the areas of Herbalism, Holistics and Spirituality

SO there you have it.  It's quite the list isn't it...  Yeah, I know it is. But I like to fancy myself a "shoot for the moon" type.  Maybe I won't actually get it all done in my lifetime, but if I work hard, I just might.  My ultimate goal is to have a life that I control and walk a path that I carve out for myself... Even if I never achieve all of these goals, so long as I am working towards them, I will still fulfill that! One small step in front of the other - and AWAY WE GO...

See you all among the stars!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Next Steps Down My Life's Path...

So this weekend ended up being quite a bit longer that I had planned and I'm now a day late posting this, but that's just how life goes sometimes. Anyways, as promised I would be working on deciding what my next "goals" for the six weeks between Samhain and Yule would be, and here they are...

I didn't do as wonderful over the last six weeks as I would have liked as far as my diet and workouts go, so I am going to stick to those goals.

  • No meat besides dinner and an overall diet of 50-75% Fruit & Vegetables.
  • Workout at least 5 days a week.

Now, I didn't do horridly, but I didn't really do as well as I would have liked either.  So I'm not going to really make any more changes diet or workout wise - YET!

I am however going to add a few new goals to other areas of my life, they are as follows:

  • Create a minimum of THREE new items to my Etsy Shop each week.
  • Fully purge my house of all the crap we don't need or want!
  • Work on printing out my recipes (right now they're in my head & computer) and put them in my recipe book to help when planning menus. 
  • Pass the tests for Chapters 2 and 3 in my "Wicca Reveled" course.
  • Read & "Work on" the first Chapter of The Inner Temple of Witchcraft.
  • Finish reading Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs Book.
  • Finish book outline for my Sabbat Recipes Book

And there you have it...  It may not seem like a lot, but it's all about baby steps and routines. If I can create routines that allow me to move forward without creating more stress (which causes backsliding) I can continue to progress on my path.  If not, well, we try again...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pagan History, Lore & Myth for November

**The following information has been compiled from numerous sources including the internet, date books, and history books. It is INCOMPLETE!  However, I hope to add to it as I get more information.  The purpose of this calendar is to educate and entertain only, and it does NOT represent the practices of any specific individual or group in practice today.**

~ I would like to extend a special thanks to Karen Szabo, who was responsible for compiling and providing much of this information. ~


Currently the 11th month on our (Gregorian) calender, November gets it's name from the Latin "Novem," meaning nine.  On Ancient Roman Calenders, November was the ninth month. However, in the Celtic tradition November is the beginning of the New Year.

The Birthstone for November is Topaz
November birth signs are Scorpio (10/24 - 11/22) or Sagittarius (11/23-12/22)

November is a sacred month to numerous Pagan Deities including: Astarte, Cerridwen, Circe, Cybele, Freyje Hathor, Hel, Holda, Kali, Maman, Nepthys Sekhmet and the Calleach.  It's also a month associated with Banshee and other nature spirits or fae who carry messages between this and the Otherworld.

Other Correspondences are as follows:

Herbs: Ginger, hops, wormwood, hussop, patchouli, mugwort, nutmeg, star anise.
Colors: Black, white, purple.
Flowers:  White lily, dahlia, chrysanthemum.
Scents:  Rosemary, dragons blood, lilac, pine, wisteria.
Stones:  Topaz, obsidian, onyx, Apache tear.
Trees:  Pine, cypress, yew, elder.
Animals:  Bat, wolf, sow, dog, snake.
Birds:  Owls, raven, falcon.

~ November 1
In 1979, this date, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, one of the first Wiccan organisations to obtain legal recognition, was officially established in the United States.

On this day in ancient Rome, the harvest-goddess of fruit trees, orchards, and all fruit-bearing plants was honored with a festival called the Pomonia (Feast of Pomona) which marked the end of the growing season.

Many modern Witches celebrate the day after the Halloween Sabbat with a feast commemorating fruition, maturity, immortality and resurrection.

All Saints' Day. This is one of the most magickal and powerful days of the year to practitioners of Voodoo, and a time to perform rituals for spiritual strength and protection against evil loas (spirit-gods).

In Latin America and Spain, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on this date with offerings of food to honor the spirits of deceased loved ones.

A festival known as Cailleach's Reign is celebrated annually on this date by many Pagans throughout Ireland and Great Britain in honor of the ancient Celtic Crone-Goddess.

~ November 2
All Souls' Day, a day of prayer for the dead is celebrated by Catholics around the world. In England, small offerings known as soul cakes are traditionally set out for the dead every year on this date.
According to folklore, this is considered to be an extremely unlucky day for wedding ceremonies. Those who are wed on All Souls' Day are sure to be cursed with misfortune, illness, divorce, or an early death.

In 1983, Circle Sanctuary purchased the land which would become their nature preserve.

~ November 3
On this date in the year 1324, a Witch named Dame Alice Kyteler suffered death by fire in the first and most famous Witch trial to take place in Ireland. Nine others were arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to various punishments.

In Egypt, the final day of the Isia takes place on this day. This annual festival celebrates the rebirth of the god Osiris through the sacred and life-giving milk of Isis.

~ November 4
King Tut Day is the celebration of the discovery of the short lived king's tomb.  Although this celebration is more popular among historians and school children than the average person, celebrations often include trips to local museums or the reading of any number of Egyptian historical books.

In ancient times, a Pagan festival honoring the Lord of Death was celebrated in England every year on this night (the Eve of Guy Fawkes Day). The bonfires and mischievous pranks associated with modern England's Mischief Night are actually remnants of the old Pagan customs.

~ November 5
Every year on this date, young men gather in Shebbear, England, to turn a large red rock called the Devil's Boulder. The centuries-old custom of turning the one-ton rock (which was flung into the village square by the Devil himself, according to English folklore) conjures up ancient magickal powers and brings peace and prosperity to the village.

~ November 6:
On this day, the birth of Tiamat ( an ancient Babylonian goddess known as the Dragon Mother) is celebrated. According to mythology, Tiamat and her consort Apsu gave birth to all the gods of the world, and the earth and the heavens were created from Dragon Mother's severed body.

~ November 7:
Night of Hecate. In ancient Greece, a fire festival was held once a year on this night to honor the goddess Hecate.

Modern Witches invoke Hecate for protection and fertility, as she is both a protectress of all Witches and an ancient deity associated with fertility.

In the Hawaiian Islands, the ancient god Lono is honored annually on this day by the Hawaiian Harvest Festival. The Makahiki festival also takes place in Hawaii on this day.

~ November 8:
In Haiti, farmers make offerings of yams to their family's ancestral spirits and household gods every year on this day (approximately) in order to insure a bountiful harvest in the next year.

Hettsui No Kami, the kitchen-range goddess, is honored on this day in Japan with an annual Shinto festival called the Fuigo Matsuri.

On this day in 1610, the 31 individuals, mostly women, would be sentenced in the Witchcraft trials in Basque Zugarramurdi.  11 or 12 (records are unclear) of whom were burned at the stake (two of which symbolically as they had died during the trials).

~ November 9:
Day of Remembrance for Queen Sigrith of Sweden. History says that when Olaf the Lawbreaker had been king of Norway for three years, he asked Queen Sigrith of Sweden to marry him. She agreed, but when he insisted that she give up her ancestral Gods Sigrith replied, I do not mean to abandon the faith I have led, and my kinsmen before me. Nor shall I object to your belief in the god you prefer. Olaf struck her with a glove. The wedding was off - depriving Olaf of political power that could have sped the Christianization of Scandinavia. As it were, history tells us that the Heathens held on for over 300 more years in the Northlands. Hail Sigrith, defender of Asatru, and women of stubborn virtue!

In Thailand, a traditional witch-magick ritual is performed annually on this date. Banana peels and lotus leaves are made into little boats and filled with candles and various offerings to the gods (such as incense, coins, and gardenia flowers). Secret wishes are made as the "boats" are set adrift on a river, and if the candles keep burning until they are out of view, the wishes are said to come true.

A massive, coordinated attack on Jews throughout the German Reich on this night in 1938, into the next day, has come to be known as Kristallnacht or The Night of Broken Glass. The night sees over 1,000 synagogues burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks and over 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi Concentration camps. This night is often considered hallowed and rituals for peace, healing and/or remembrance are not uncommon among those with Jewish heritage.

~ November 10:
On this date in olden times, Old November Eve was celebrated throughout the Scottish countryside. The goddess Nicnevin was honored with prayers and feasts, and it was believed that she rode through the air and made herself visible to mortals on this night.

On this date (approximately) in the year 1493, famous Hermetic philosopher and alchemist Paracelsus was born in Einsiedeln, Switzerland. (However, other sources give his date of birth as December 17, 1493.) Paracelsus possessed remarkable healing powers and believed in a universal natural magick. Contrary to many writings about him, he was not a sorcerer or a practitioner of ceremonial magick (in fact, he was known to be rather skeptical of the so-called Black Arts); however, he did believe in astrology and often used magickal astrological talismans (inscribed with planetary symbols) in his medical practices. He died a mysterious death in Salzburg in the year 1541.

~ November 11 :
Faeries called Lunantishees are honored on this day; they are the guardians of blackthorn trees or sloes and permit no one to cut blackthorn branches today. It was considered prudent in olden times to leave an offering of cake, butter and milk or ale outside the door or on a windowsill, in order to procure the Lunantishees` good favor and avert the mischief they can cause. Some consider this a general festival honoring all the Faerie Sidthe.

A festival called the Day of the Heroes is celebrated annually on this day by Pagans and Wiccans in northern Europe. The ancient deities of the Norse mythos are honored with prayers and merry feasts.
On this day, the annual feast of Vinalia was observed by the ancient Greeks in honor of the wine-god Bacchus.

~ November 12:
An annual festival called the Epulum Jovis in Capitola was celebrated on this date in ancient times in honor of Jupiter (the supreme god of the ancient Roman religion, identified with the Greek god Zeus) and the goddesses Minerva and Juno. Animal sacrifices were made at temples in the city of Rome and bonfires were set ablaze at sunset.

~November 13:
Back in medieval times, the thirteenth day after the Witches' Sabbat of Halloween was considered a day of darkness, evil, and misfortune. It was believed to be a time when necromancers and sorcerers of the left-handed path summoned up evil spirits and demons to assist them in their practice of the Black Arts.
In some parts of the world, the old superstition persists that if the thirteenth day after Halloween falls on a Friday, all persons born on that day will possess the power of the evil eye.

World Kindness Day evolved from a series of conferences in 1996-1997 in Japan by a group known as the World Kindness Movement. These conferences brought together groups interested in promoting more kindness around the world.  It culminated in the "Declaration of Kindness" on November 13,1997. With this declaration, a new and very special day was born.

~ November 14:
On this date, an annual Druidic festival known as the Feast of the Musicians is celebrated by many Wiccans to honor the ancient Celtic gods of music. Traditional Pagan folk songs are sung around an open fire as various offerings are cast into the flames.

At temples throughout India, children gather annually on this day to receive divine blessings from the Children's Goddesses: Befana, Mayauel, Rumina, and Surabhi.

~ November 15:
On this day in 1993, The Aquarian Tabernacle Church is officially established within Canada.

Albertus Magnus, the purported creator of the philosophers' stone died today in 1280.

Ferona, an ancient goddess who presides over fire, fertility, and woodlands, is honored annually on this day with a Pagan festival called the Feronia.

In Japan, a centuries-old ritual for good health (Shichi-Go-San) is performed annually on this date in Shinto shrines. The ceremony involves children who have reached the ages of three, five, and seven. At the end, the children are given candy blessed and decorated with symbols of good fortune.
On this date in the year 1280, German alchemist and ceremonial magician Albertus Magnus died. According to legend, he discovered the Philosopher's Stone and also created a supernatural zombie-like servant using natural magick and astrological science.

~ November 16:
The Night of Hecate begins at sunset. This is also the night of Hecate’s supper at the Crossroads.  People who worshiped Hecate honored Her by preforming Sympathetic Magick and holding a supper at what they believed to be the Crossroads; in addition, it is said they sacrificed animals  in honor of Her.

On this date (approximately), the annual Festival of Lights is celebrated in India to mark the Hindu New Year. Candles are lit to honor Lakshmi (the goddess who presides over wealth, prosperity, and sexual pleasures), and homes are decorated with ancient good-fortune ritual designs called kolams.

~ November 17:
The last of three annual festivals of death is observed in certain regions of China on this day (approximately). Paper clothing and money labeled with the names of the dead are traditionally burned as offerings to ancestors in the spirit world.

On this date in the year 1907, famous occultists and author Israel Regardie was born in England. He belonged to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and was a onetime secretary of Aleister Crowley. He wrote numerous books which continue to be popular among Witches, Neo-Pagans, and practitioners of the occult arts. Regardie died in the year 1983.

~ November 18:
Ardvi, a Persian goddess believed to the Mother of the Stars, is honored annually on this date with a sacred festival called the Ardvi Sura (The Day of Ardvi). The festival, which takes place under the nighttime stars, has been celebrated by the faithful in southwestern Asia since ancient times.

On this date in 1898, Infamous Occultist, Aleister Crowley was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

~ November 19:
Birthday of Wiccan Elder and Teacher, Lord Theodore Parker Mills (1924)

Warlock Day. According to medieval superstitious belief, the first stranger you meet on this day who is dressed in black from head to toe will be a warlock (a male Witch). Take care not to look him directly in the eyes; otherwise you will become bewitched.

~ November 20:
The Church of All Worlds, the Neo-Pagan Organization founded by Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, incorporates in Australia on this day in 1992.

On this night, when the Pleiades (a cluster of stars in the constellation of Taurus) become visible to the naked eye, native rituals and celebrations begin in Hawaii to mark the beginning of their harvest season and to honor and give thanks to the ancient god Lono.

~ November 21:
In ancient times, a joyous Mayan festival honoring the god Kukulcan began each year on this date. The celebration lasted for several days and nights.

This day is also sacred to the Pagan gods Chango, Damballah, Quetzalcoatl, and Tammuz.

~ November 22:
On this date (approximately), the Sun enters the astrological sign of Sagittarius. Persons born under the sign of the Centaur-Archer are said to be optimistic, enthusiastic, curious, and often outspoken and prone to exaggeration. Sagittarius is a fire sign and is ruled by the planet Jupiter.

In 2006, the first pentacle in a VA cemetery is granted to Patrick Stewart in Nevada. Then Governor Bob Miller granted approval for the plaque in the state cemetery prior to the nationwide approval.

~ November 23:
Today we celebrate the birthday of Lady Tamara Von Forslun, founder of the Church of Wiccan and the Aquarian Tabernacle Church in Australia.

On this day in England, Saint Clement (the patron of ironworkers) is honored with elaborate rituals. However, in ancient times, this day was celebrated with a Pagan feast in honor of the wizard-blacksmith of the Saxon deities.

In Japan, a rice harvest celebration called the Shinjosai Festival for Konohana-Hime is held yearly on this date. It is dedicated to the granddaughter goddess of the solar deity Amaterasu.

~ November 24:
In Japan, the annual festival known as Tori-No-Ichi takes place on or around this date. Traditionally, special bamboo rakes decorated with symbols of good fortune are carried through the streets in order to attract benevolent spirits.

In ancient Egypt, the sacred goddesses of light and birth were honored and invoked annually on or around this day with prayers, libations, and the ritual burning of special lamps.

~ November 25:
Edward Kelley, also known as Edward Talbot, was a convicted criminal and self-declared spirit medium in England, during the Renaissance period.  He claimed to have the ability to summon spirits or angels on his crystal ball and stated that he possessed the secret of transmuting base metals into gold.  He lived a generally nomadic life and worked with Dr. John Dee off and on over a 20 year period. Kelley was imprisoned by the Emperor or Prague in 1591 after being unable to produce alchemical gold.  He would die while trying to escape a Bohemian prison.  John Dee recorded his death in his journals today, in 1597. Kelley was 42.

Windmill Blessing Day. In days of old, many millers in Holland would bless their windmills on or around this date each year by throwing a handful or two of flour into the wind as an offering to appease the mischievous invisible entities known as the Windmill Spirits.

~ November 26:
On this day (approximately), annual manhood initiation rites are performed by young males in the Basari villages of Senegal. The centuries-old ceremonies are followed by a joyous celebration of dancing, singing, and athletic competition.

A centuries-old fire festival takes place every year on this day in Tibet. The festival is dedicated to the ancient goddesses who rule over light and fire.

~ November 27:
The Feast of Ullr is to celebrate the Hunt and to gain personal luck needed for success. Weapons are dedicated on this day to Ullr, God of the Bow. If your hunting arms were blessed by the luck of the God of the Hunt, your family and tribe shared the bounty with a Blot and Feast to Ullr.

The Indian Mother-Goddess known as Gujeswari is honored on or around this date each year by Buddhists and Hindus in Nepal. Prayers are recited throughout the day, and a musical procession fills the streets with sacred songs after sunset.

In India, a religious festival called the Parvati-Devi takes place on this day each year. It honor the triple goddess known as the Mother of the Universe, whose three goddess aspects are Sarasvati (Maiden), Lakshmi (Mother), and Parvati (Crone).

~ November 28:
Sophia, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom and inner truth, is honored and invoked annually on this day by cants, libations, and secret Pagan rituals performed by those who seek to acquire arcane knowledge.

~ November 29:
Today in 1995, the Henge of Keltria, Celtic-Neopagan organization in US, incorporated as nonprofit.

Each year on this night (according to ancient legend), vampires in Romania are believed to rise up from their graves after a year-long sleep and walk the Earth in search of human blood. Garlic and crucifixes are hung on doors and windows for protection.

In ancient Egypt, the Feast of Hathor as Sekhmet was held each year on this day. It honored the lion-headed goddess of battle, who was also the consort of the moon-god Ptah.

~ November 30:
The Feast of St. Andrew is the celebration in memory and honor of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, Greece, Romania, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Saint Andrew, Barbados. In Germany, the feast day is celebrated as Andreasnacht (" Andrew's Night"), in Austria with the custom of Andreasgebet (" Andrew's Prayer"), and in Poland as Andrzejki ("Andrew's "), in Russia as Андреева ночь ("Andrew's nights").
It was thought that ritual slaughter of animals associated with Samhain was moved to this date, so as to assure enough animals were kept alive for winter. But it is only in more recent times that the 30 November has been given national holiday status.

In many rural villages in Germany, young women still perform traditional love-divinations on this night. Using various methods of fortune-telling, they read omens and dreams to find out about their future husbands and marriages.

On this date in the year 1942, Otter Zell (aka Oberon Zell-Ravenheart), Pagan priest and the founder of The Church of All Worlds, was born in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Friday, October 31, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Win one of TWO Signed Copies of Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing

Blessed Samhain! 
The Wheel Turns! Another year ended, another beginning. 

This has been a wonderful year!  And to celebrate all the blessings which have come into our lives my dear friend and colleague, Eva and I have decided it would be the perfect time for a giveaway! But hosting just any giveaway simply wouldn't be enough to celebrate Samhain with, we had to go BIG!

And what's bigger than SIGNED BOOKS!  For people like us - nothing!  But what book to offer?

As it turns out, one of those beautiful blessings that came into my world this year was Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing, which I reviewed in a previous post. It is extremely rare that I read fiction of any kind, this one however, I will read over and over again.  Eye opening and life changing, this book will push you to get out, get involved and work every day to make the world a better place.  It's a must read!

So in my mind, there wasn't a better title to share with my readers, fans and customers than this one...  I talked to Starhawk and asked her to sign a couple of copies for me...  And she was kind enough to do so.  And as a result... I have them to give to you!

But of course we couldn't stop there...  We also decided to add a "Runner Up" Prize for a third lucky person which includes numerous items from My, Eva's and our friend Rebekah's shops!  Scroll down, check everything out and then make sure to enter!  Winners will be chosen on November 14th!



Included in the Runner Up Goody Bag are:

  • 2 Handmade bars of Peppermint Soap
  • 1 Tin of Plantain & Wild Yarrow Salve

From CellDara:
  • 1oz Organic Dried Lavender Flower
  • 8 Mini Wax Melts - "Hope Scent" 
  • Come Fly With Me Earrings
  • Herbal Dream Sachet with Instructions

  • 1/2 Cup of Mugwort in a Decorative Jar
  • Cats Claw & Clay Handmade Wand
    w/ Citrine and Tigers Eye Inlay (made by The New Age Girl)

Giveaway Ends on November 14th, so get your entries in now, and remember, you can come back daily and get more entries by tweeting & sharing!

Greatest of Luck to ALL entrants! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

First steps of a long journey...

Last week I announced that there were going to be some changes here, as well as to my FB pages. The largest of course being that I closed my "SabrinaMBowen" FB Page altogether.  For those who had been following me there you'll know that I began working really hard on moving forward with my goals of getting healthy.  In this past week or so I've taken a small backslide, but I expected this would happen once or twice. No one ever makes changes to their life without a few slip-ups.

Part of why I started my personal FB page was in an effort to get some support, which wasn't quite what I got.  And for all the time it took away from healthy aspects of my life, it needed deleted. But that has left me, once again, completely unsupported on this journey.

So here I am, turning to all of you.  For the past few years I've tried to use the time from Sabbat to Sabbat for making changes.  However, like most people make resolutions and within a week or three, they fall away.  I vowed to myself that this time I was going to do better.  I would take on small resolutions, rather than vowing to change my entire life.  And every six weeks I would revisit and revise where needed, creating changes or moving forward where possible.

Over the last 5 weeks I've primarily focused on eating better and working out more.  Both of which I've been doing okay in, not perfect, but not horrid either, certainly not as poorly as I had been.  But with Samhain approaching I'm coming to the end of my first 6 week I feel like I have accomplished much of what I meant to. Still though, I have room for improvement.

I have just 5 days left before it's time to move to the next step.  So it's time to make a plan.  And the first step of that plan is making the choice to switch from using FB to my blog for all my updates, recipes and so on...

I will continue to move forward with changing my diet and workouts.  But I will be adding as well, although I'm unsure as to what my next steps will be.  I do know that I will be working on blogging about my journey and achievements as well as things like my meal plans, workout routines, recipes, and weekly updates on how I'm doing.

My goals are not simply physical health related, although that's where I chose to start.  My reason for beginning to start with my physical health is not out of vanity, but because that's the area I feel I need the MOST help in.  While my business, spiritual and mental goals are just as important to me as my physical health, I know that I can not achieve them unless I am physically in a place to do so.  No amount of meditation can produce a healthy mind if the body is full of negativity and chemicals.  And No amount of crafting can create a strong bond between the physical and spiritual without first having a healthy body.  This is why, as you will notice, my physical struggle seems to be a "main feature" in the beginning of this journey, but I assure you my waste-line is not my driving factor - health is - TRUE HEALTH! You won't see any "diet food" or pills or fads here!  And you will NOT see me cutting out sugar, wheat, meat or any other food in an effort to find quick results.  Instead, you'll see me working to build a healthy diet, healthy workout routines, and a constant forward movement...  With the closure of each 6 week period - from Sabbat to Sabbat - I will reevaluate and "tweak" as needed.  All the while keeping you in "the loop."

Show your support by sharing your own recipes, experiences, tips and struggles in the comments, or feel free to email me directly at  OneWitchsWonderland@gmail.com.  My hope is that by making my struggle public and by gaining the support of my readers I can not just find success, but help all of you do the same!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Metaphisical Monsters: Vampires: Part 3 Elizabeth Bathory

While the name Dracula was most likely inspired by the deeds of Vlad (Dracula) Tepes. It's more likely that it was the deeds of the Countess Erz'ebet (Elizabeth in English) Bathory that inspired the horror. She also holds a place in history as one of the first recorded female serial killers and sexual predators. Even in today's society the female serial killer is rare, so rare in fact that there is generally no psychological profile for them, and little to no understanding of what drives them. Even less is understood about female sexual predators. Which makes the case of Elizabeth Bathory overly rare indeed!

Today we continue to hear stories about Dracula, more and more research is always being done and the remains of his castle have been explored and excavated multiple times. However, it's rare that we so much as hear a mention of Bathory. Why is that? Well, there are a few obvious reasons. For one, Dracula was in fact working to aid his country, from his perspective and the perspective of his people, what he did was a great deed. Then there is the simple fact that Dracula is a man. As most of us today know, women in history simply didn't matter. While men litterally ruled the world, women were seen as little more than property. And just like you do not make large note of what your pets do from day to day, as a whole history tends not to record major actions of women either. The third, and most obvious reason, is simply that Bram Stoker used Dracula's name and not Bathory's. BUT, Bram Stoker was nice enough to hang on to his notes after publishing his novel. His notes have enlightened scholars as to just what he was drawing from for inspiration. MANY of these notes were research on the life and actions of a Translvanian Countess, Elizabeth Bathory. Today, she is even referred to as "Lady Dracula" as well as other things.

If ever there was a person who fit the description of vampire, it was Bathory! Among her horrid titles we can list rapist, torturer, child molester, kidnapper and most notably cannibal and blood drinker. And like many of today's more horrible offenders Bathory had a troubled childhood, adult life and marriage.

Born in to a noble family in Hungary in August 1560, Elizabeth spent her childhood with her family in Nagy-Ecsed, near the Romanian border. Her mother was sister of Stephen Bathory, King of Poland, Prince of Transylvania and counterpart of Vlad Tepes. She had a rather cruel older brother and two sisters who survived in to adulthood. In 1566 the German Emperor and the Ottomans came to a temporary truce. So while Vlad Tepe's life was ruled by the wars going on around him, Bathory's childhood would have been relatively peaceful - at least on a governmental level.

She was greatly educated, as would any young woman of nobility have been. But she was a woman, and it's fair to say abuse was a daily activity in the Bathory home. Her older brother would become known for his drunkenness and rape of young women. She would also spend a great amount of her young life with her Aunt Klara, an overly sexual woman who greatly enjoyed torturing servants, presumably for fun. When Elizabeth was a child, she had even witnessed the torture and execution of a Gypsy woman who was sewn up inside a horse carcass and left to die there.

In 1570 she was engaged to a wealthy Count Ferencz Nadasdy de Nadasd of Fogarasfold. As was customary in this time, it's acceptable to assume that Elizabeth would have had little to no say over who she would marry, instead it was most likely a political move for her father. Elizabeth was to be come a very young woman of the house as she was sent to reside with her mother-in-law to be, who would die within a year. Elizabeth even at this very young age was already known for her beauty. And in 1574 she became pregnant and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter. History says the baby was smuggled away to protect her, and most likely to save her life.

Artist Depiction of Bathory's Castle Home
On May 8th, 1575, at just age 14, Elizabeth Bathory was married to her fiance, Count Ferenc Nadasdy. The wedding celebration is said to have lasted weeks! However, unlike their celebratory wedding, their marriage was to be lonely and quite boring for young Elizabeth. Being a military man, Nadasdy was often away for weeks or months at a time, leaving Elizabeth alone in her castle high atop the Carpathian Mountains. In his absence she would amuse herself with sex toys imported from Italy. She also started to experiment with herbal brews, potions, powders and drugs. It would also have been her job to ensure the castle ran smoothly, that would include the responsibility of disciplining the servants.

While her husband was away she would also "vacation" at her aunt Klara's home. Who is credited with teaching Bathory many of the "techniques" she would use to carry out her disciplinary position in the castle. While with her aunt her sexual experimentation would become quite extensive.

Nadasy had an inflammable temper and servants would be severely punished and beaten for the tiniest mistakes at his order. This was a tradition his wife happily kept upon his leave. Elizabeth used branding irons, razors, pincers, torches and pins & needles quite consistently in her punishments. A servant girl who talked to much had her mouth sewn shut. A girl suspected of stealing money was stripped and burned repeatedly with white hot coins. And she would freeze servants who displeased her by having them striped, thrown in the snow and dumping water over them.

Three loyal female servants, Helena Jo, Dorthea Szentes (also called Dorka) and Katarina, and manservant, Ficzko, who was most likely Autistic (history records him as being "retarded") would help Elizabeth carry out her cruelties through her rein of terror.  Also, between the years of 1604 and 1610 a mysterious woman named Anna Darvulia, who was probably a lover of Elizabeth's, who taught her many new torturing techniques and was "one of the most active sadists in Elizabeth's entourage". After a severe stroke that left her blind, Darvulia left her work to Elizabeth, Helena Jo, and Dorka, content that she had taught them well. With Darvulia's death, Elizabeth only grew in cruelty. However, here downfall would be her growing recklessness.

Elizabeth was a very vain woman, and sometime around her 40th birthday she started to become obsessed with the idea of youthful beauty. However, unlike so many forty-somethings today Elizabeth wasn't content with simply lotions and potions. One day while her team of young servant girls groomed her, she struck one of them in a fit of rage so hard that the young girl's nose began to bleed. Some of this blood splashed on to Elizabeth's face and it's said that when she wiped it away she believed the skin beneath it to have a more youthful, fresher appearance. This single act of violence would lead her down the path that would eventually lead her to earn the name "Blood Countess."

Elizabeth began to bathe regularly in the blood of virgins. It's said that when she wanted to bathe she would have a servant girl fetched and held upside down over a tub with her throat slashed until all of her blood was drained. From approximately 1600 onwards, the death rates among her servants greatly increased. Her trusted help would recruit new girls from neighboring towns. They would offer poverty stricken families a small sum of money in effort to persuade them to send their daughters off to "a life of security in the service of the mighty House of Bathory." Once in the castle, they would simply never be heard from again, becoming prey either to Elizabeths never-ending quest for youth or her lust for the pain of others. The girls' bodies, bruised, cut and burned, would be buried unceremoniously outside the castle walls upon their death.

Prior to Darculia's death, Elizabeth had used young peasant women to fill her needs. But she turned to a widow of a farmer from a nearby town whom she knew to fill the void left by the loss of her love. It was apparently this woman, named Erszi Majorova, who "encouraged Elizabeth to go after girls of noble birth as well as peasants." And in 1609, she decided to listen. She started taking in aristocratic girls to "teach them social graces" but of course, they usually died as well. And rumors of the horrors going on inside the castle became more prevalent.

Elizabeth's Death Tower
In October 1610 Erzsébet took her daughter Anna, to Piestány for a bath in the warm mud. Afterwards she traveled to castle Sárvár, where her young son was living with his tutor. She took her jewels and other valueables with her, when she returned home. Meanwhile, a priest of a nearby village notified the already alarmed authorities of his suspicions.

On December 10, Elizabeth and her accomplices were arrested by Count Thurzó. The trial started in January 1611 but because of her rank, it was held in secret and the Countess never attended it. At that time in history however, servants and pesants were considered to be serfs, and the nobility of the day had the right to do with them whatever they pleased. So even though her victims most likely number in the THOUSANDS, she could only be tried on what she had done to the girls of noble birth.

Under torture her accomplices described between 36 and 50 death as a result of mistreatment. Then there were additional witnesses heard, each of which had a more horrifying story than the last. One mentioned 80 girls, another said 175, then the number 200 came out and so on. Some of these witnesses were testifying purely on what they had heard, others had more "hands on knowledge." It's said that the Countess kept journals which chronicled the torture and death of more than 650 girls. However, this was never shown in the court.

ALL of those accused were found guilty. While Darvulia had died years prior Helena Jo, Dorka and Ficzko were not so lucky. While Ficzko's fate is a little hard to track down. Helena Jo and Dorka were to be burned at the stake after having their fingers removed with hot pincers. Bathory herself, being nobility, could not be punished equally, instead she was to live out the remainder of her life walled up in a small tower room in her own castle. Three and a half years later, on August 21, 1614, Elizabeth was found dead in her room. Since there were several plates of food untouched, her actual date of death is unknown. She was buried in the church of Csejte, but due to the villagers' uproar over having "The Tigress of Csejte" buried in their cemetery, her body was moved to her birth home at Ecsed, where it is interred at the Báthory family crypt.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Time for Change Has Come...

The time has come, the walrus said...
          Ahem... Sorry, wrong intro.  :)

All kidding aside, the time has come... What time you ask? Well, the time for some changes to be made here and there in my life.  For the past few years I have been attempting to keep up with two over filled plates, and as a result those things which mean the most to me have taken a hit.  For this reason it's time that I once again, revise my life.  I will be closing my personal (SabrinaMBowen) Facebook page and cutting WAY back on the amount which I post on One Witch's Wonderland.  I am currently searching for additional staff to help me there, which will hopefully allow me to keep the page open.  However, as much as I love my page, if I can not find the right people for our team, I will have to take my leave from there as well.  I am, however, going to continue as if that is not the case at least until the end of the year.

I will continue to post and run Pagan's Together, and I will continue to post Free Kindle Books here most mornings.  However, blogs will most likely be dropping from a few times a week, to just twice a week or less.  As much as I loved blogging over the years, I simply can't keep up with it any more. I will not be continuing to post "opinion" blogs at this point simply because I no longer have the time needed to do so.  Instead I will be focusing on creating posts about things I'm doing to progress my life in the right direction, research I'm doing or classes I'm taking or projects that I'm working on.

I will continue to build my business, slowly though it may be growing.  And I will continue to work toward my other goals of becoming a Holistic practitioner, an accomplished witch, a published author and so much more.  Although it may appear that I am stepping down, away from my dreams, I am in fact simply trying to make room for my dreams to blossom!

I want to thank each and every one of you for continuing to stand by me through each of my reincarnations and changes and for supporting me even though the rough times. Without all of you, I couldn't even dream as big as I do!

Friday, October 17, 2014

My 50-ish Must Watch Movies for the Halloween Season

A few days back I posted this list of Halloween Movies to watch on my facebook page. The list was made by someone else (http://www.amylorrainephotography.com) and over all isn't a bad list. But there are definitely some changes I would make to it.  And I thought, why not make my own...

So here are my picks for the 50-ish Must Watch Movies for the Halloween Season...

  1. Hocus Pocus
  2. Halloweentown (1 and 2)
  3. Practical Magic
  4. Casper
  5. Tower of Terror
  6. The Worst Witch
  7. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
  8. Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad
  9. Twitches (and Twitches Too)
  10. Beetlejuice
  11. The Addams Family
  12. The Good Witch (Entire Series)
  13. Coraline
  14. Paranorman 
  15. Matilda
  16. Hotel Transylvania 
  17. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  18. Sweeny Todd
  19. Frankenweenie
  20. The Raven
  21. Poltergeist
  22. Sleepy Hollow
  23. The Craft
  24. The Exorcist
  25. Child's Play
  26. Friday the 13th
  27. The Omen
  28. Halloween
  29. The House on Haunted Hill (original & 90's versions)
  30. Insidious (and Insidious 2)
  31. Evil Dead
  32. Idle Hands
  33. Final Destination
  34. Night of the Living Dead
  35. Nightmare on Elm Street
  36. Trick 'r Treat
  37. Darkness Falls
  38. Ghost Ship
  39. Thirteen Ghosts 
  40. The Gift
  41. The Island of Dr. Moreau
  42. Rose Red
  43. Wrong Turn
  44. Creepshow
  45. The Amityville Horror
  46. Snow White: A Tale of Terror
  47. The Witches of Eastwick
  48. The Wolfman
  49. Frankenstein
  50. Nasfuratu
  51. Dracula
  52. Sinister
  53. The Conjuring 
  54. Jeepers Creepers
  55. The Others
  56. Pet Sematary  

Okay, so it's not exactly 50... In fact when you start adding in series films and squeals, there's probably closer to 100... But as hard as I tried I couldn't pair it down any more than that. In fact even now there are a few I'm thinking "Wow, this should be on there too."  But I was trying to keep it near 50...  So, what would you add? What would you delete? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Metaphisical Monsters: Vampires: Part 2 Vlad Tepes

 While most identify Vlad "Dracula" Tepes as the historical inspiration for the fictional Dracula, his actual life was just as fascinating. There is an old saying that "truth is stranger than fiction" and no one ever lived that more than Vlad Tepes.

Familial Background
Wallachia, a province of Romania, was located along the Southern border of Transylvania, and was founded in 1290 by a Transylvanian named Rudolph the Black (Rudolph Negru). However it wasn't until the fall of the East Roman Empire that it established it's own rulership. The first Prince of Wallachia was a name named Basarab the Great. Following Basarab's lineage we find Dracula's Grandfather, Prince Mircea the Old, who reigned from 1386 - 1418. However, by the late 15th century the House of Basarab had split in to two rival clans; in one the decedents of the Prince Dan and the other, the decendands of Prince Mircea the Old. Mircea had an illegitimate son, Vlad (Dracul), who was born sometime around 1390. He was educated in Hungary and Germany and served as a page for King Sigismund of Hungary (who in 1410, became the Holy Roman Emperor).

As a young man Vlad joined the Order of the Dragon, founded to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Vlad would take an oath, as all members did, that his family would be dedicated to fighting the Turks who had already begun to attack Europe. The Romanian archaic word for Dragon is "Drac," so Vlad thus became Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Dragon. His son, would take the name Draculea or "Son of the Dragon" as "-ulea" meant "son of" in that same Romanian tongue.
Young Dracula
Birth records from Romania in the 1400s simply don't exist! So while I wish I could give you a date and time for Dracula's birth, it's simply not do-able! We do know he was born in a small Transylvanian town called Schassburgh sometime around 1430-31. And it's fair to guess that is poor mother didn't have pain pills, lol.

Dracula was taught the skills of war and peace that were deemed necessary for a Christian Knight. His first teacher was an elderly boyar whom had fought against the Turks under the banner of Enguerrand de Courcy at the battle of Niclopolis.

In 1431, King Sigismund made Vlad Dracul the military governor of Transylvania. However, Vlad was not content to serve as a governor forever, and so he began gathering supporters for his plan to seize Wallachia from it's current occupant, Alexandru I, a prince of the Danesti Line. In late 1436, Vlad Dracul killed Alexandru and became Prince Vlad II, ruler of Walachia.

In 1442 Turkey invaded Transylvania. Vlad tried to stay neutral, but Hungary's rulers blamed him and drove him and his family out of Walachia. A Hungarian general, Janos Hunyadi (who may have been the illegitimate son of Emperor Sigismund) made a Danesti named Basarab II the prince of Walachia.

The following year, Vlad regained the Wallachian throne with Turkish support, but on the condition that Vlad send a yearly contingent of Wallachian boys to join the Sultan’s Janissaries. In 1444, to further assure to the Sultan his good faith, Vlad sent his two younger sons --Vlad III and Radu the Handsome--to Adrianople as hostages. Vlad (about age 13) was to spend his next four years there. It is unknown exactly what took place in his life while in Turkey, but it is known that his brother Radu was a clear favorite.

That same year the King of Hungary, Ladislas Posthumous, broke the peace and launched the Varna Campaign under the command of John Hunyadi, in an effort to drive the Turks out of Eruope. Vlad having had the help of the Turks to regain his thrown, and having two of his sons in their custody attempted to stay neutral. Hunyadi demanded that Vlad II fulfill his oath as a member of the Order of the Dragon and as a vassal of Hungary and join the crusade. Attempting to say loyal to both sides Vlad decided that rather than go and join the Christian forces against the Turks himself, he would send his oldest son Mircea.

The Varna Crusade was an utter failure! And the Christian army was completely destroyed during the Battle of Varna. John Hunyadi managed to escape the battle under inglorious conditions. Vlad and Mircea seem to have blamed Hunydi for the entire ordeal, and Hunydi seem to have blamed Vlad & Mircea for the loss because from here on Hunyadi was bitterly hostile towards the two. And in 1447 both Vlad and his son were killed according to the wishes of Hunyadi. Apparently, poor Mircea was buried alive by the boyars and merchants of Tirgoviste. Once the competition was gone, Hunyadi placed his own man, Vladislav II, a member of the Danesti clan, on the throne of Wallachia.

Dracula's Rise To Power
When the Turks learned of the death of Vlad and his son (who would have been next in line for the throne) it was decided not only to allow Dracula to return home, but to support him as their candidate for the seat of Prince. With this support Dracula was able to dethrone the current Prince and assumed the seat for himself. Unfortunately less than two months later, Dracula was forced to surrender to Vladislav II, and flee to the home of his cousin, the Prince of Moldavia.

He would remain in Moldavia for the next three years. However, Prince Bogdan of Moldavia was assassinated in 1451 and Dracula was forced to flee yet again! This time he would go to Transylvania and seek the protection from the family of the vary man who had been responsible for so much pain in his life, Hunyadi. However, it seems as if the timing was perfect. Vladislav II, who was still serving as the Puppet Prince of Wallachia had addopted Pro-Turkish policy. Thus, Hunyadi needed a more reliable man to take his place. Because of this he was willing to accept the allegiance of his enemy and aid him in returning to the thrown that he previously removed him from...

Dracula became Hunyadi's vassel and received the Transylvanian duchies formerly governed by his father. He remained there, under the protection of Hunyadi, awaiting the opportunity to retake Wallachia from his rival.

In 1453 Christian Constantinople fell to the Ottomans. And the Christian world was shaken and shocked!  The East Roman Empire which had existed since the time of Constantine the Great and which for a thousand years had shielded the rest of Christendom from Islam was no more. Hunyadi immediately began planning another campaign against the Turks.

In 1456 Hunyadi invaded Turkish Serbia while Dracula invaded Wallachia. In the Battle of Belgrade, Hunyadi was killed and his army defeated. Dracula, however, succeeded in killing Vladislav II and taking the Wallachian throne but Hunaydi's defeat made his long term tenure questionable. For a time at least, Dracula was forced to attempt to placate the Turks while he solidified his own position.

Vlad The Impaler
Of course while is struggle for power is interesting, it's far from the inspiration for the legend which has been born of his name. And I simply wouldn't be doing his justice to skip through the blood, nasty and horrid violence which earned him his place in the history books. However, I will warn you that in doing so, I will be discussing some actions which may bother those of weaker constitutions, so if you're someone who may wish to skip over the gore, here's where you'll want to stop reading!

Impalement, of course was Dracula’s preferred method of torture and execution. Impalement was and is one of the most gruesome ways of dying imaginable, slow and extremely painful. He usually had a horse attached to each of the victim’s legs and a sharpened stake was gradually forced into the body. The end of the stake was usually greased with pig fat and care was taken that the stake not be too sharp, else the victim might die too rapidly from shock. Normally the stake was inserted into the body through the anus and was often forced through the body until it emerged from the mouth. However, there were many instances where victims were impaled through other body orifices or through the abdomen or chest. Infants were sometimes impaled on the stake forced through their mother’s chests. The records indicate that victims were sometimes impaled so that they hung upside down on the stake.

Vlad Tepes (previously Dracula) often had the stakes arranged in various geometric patterns. The most common pattern was a ring of concentric circles in the outskirts of a city that was his target. The height of the spear indicated the rank of the victim. The decaying corpses were often left up for months. It was once reported that an invading Turkish army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube. In 1461 Mohammed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, a man not noted for his squeamishness, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of twenty thousand impaled Turkish prisoners outside of the city of Tirgoviste. This gruesome sight is remembered in history as "the Forest of the Impaled."

Thousands were often impaled at a single time. Ten thousand were impaled in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu in 1460. In 1459, on St. Bartholomew’s Day, Vlad III had thirty thousand of the merchants and boyars of the Transylvanian city of Brasov impaled. One of the most famous woodcuts of the period shows Vlad Dracula feasting amongst a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens outside Brasov while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims.

Although impalement was Vlad Dracula’s favorite method of torture, it was by no means his only method. The list of tortures employed by this cruel prince reads like an inventory of hell’s tools: nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses and ears, mutilation of sexual organs (especially in the case of women), scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to wild animals, and burning alive.

No one was immune to Vlad’s attentions. His victims included women and children, peasants and great lords, ambassadors from foreign powers and merchants. However, the vast majority of his victims came from the merchants and boyars of Transylvania and his own Wallachia.

Many have attempted to justify Vlad Dracula’s actions on the basis of nascent nationalism and political necessity. Many of the merchants in Transylvania and Wallachia were German Saxons who were seen as parasites, preying upon Romanian natives of Wallachia. The wealthy land owning boyars exerted their own often capricious and unfaithful influence over the reigning princes. Vlad’s own father and older brother were murdered by unfaithful boyars. However, many of Vlad Dracula’s victims were also Wallachians, and few deny that he derived a perverted pleasure from his actions.

Vlad Dracula began his reign of terror almost as soon as he came to power. His first significant act of cruelty may have been motivated by a desire for revenge as well as a need to solidify his power. Early in his main reign he gave a feast for his boyars and their families to celebrate Easter, 1459. Being well aware that many of these same nobles were part of the conspiracy that led to his father’s assassination and the burying alive of his elder brother, Mircea. Many had also played a role in the overthrow of numerous Wallachian princes. During the feast Vlad asked his noble guests how many princes had ruled during their lifetimes. All of the nobles present had outlived several princes. None had seen less then seven reigns. Vlad immediately had all the assembled nobles arrested. The older boyars and their families were impaled on the spot. The younger and healthier nobles and their families were marched north from Tirgoviste to the ruins of his castle in the mountains above the Arges River. The enslaved boyars and their families were forced to labor for months rebuilding the old castle with materials from a nearby ruin. According to the reports they labored until the clothes fell off their bodies and then were forced to continue working naked. Very few survived this ordeal.

Throughout his reign Vlad continued to systematically eradicate the old boyar class of Wallachia. Apparently Vlad was determined that his own power be on a modern and thoroughly secure footing. In the place of the executed boyars Vlad promoted new men from among the free peasantry and middle class; men who would be loyal only to their prince.

Vlad Tepes’ atrocities against the people of Wallachia were usually attempts to enforce his own moral code upon his country. He appears to have been particularly concerned with female chastity. Maidens who lost their virginity, adulterous wives and unchaste widows were all targets of Vlad’s cruelty. Such women often had their sexual organs cut out or their breasts cut off, and were often impaled through the vagina on red-hot stakes. One report tells of the execution of an unfaithful wife. Vlad had the woman’s breasts cut off, then she was skinned and impaled in a square in Tirgoviste with her skin lying on a nearby table. Vlad also insisted that his people be honest and hard working. Merchants who cheated their customers were likely to find themselves mounted on a stake beside common thieves.

The End Of Vlad Tepes
Throughout his rule Vlad Tepes spared no expense to defend his land, his country and his people against the Turks. Yet, his successes were short lived! The King of Hungary did little to aid him and his own resources were simply to limited to create any lasting defense system. So, in 1462, Vlad would be forced to flee, once again, to Transylvania.

His first wife committed suicide by leaping from the towers of "Castle Dracula" rather than risk capture or death at the hands of the Turks. However, with the help of some tricky country folk Vlad was able to escape. The story goes that the peasants removed the shoes from their horses and reversed them before sending help to the Castle. When they lead Vlad away from the castle on horseback the tracks seemed to lead toward the Castle rather than away from it and they were able to get away without being tracked.

After his escape, Vlad reached out to King Matthius Corvinus, the King of Hungary and son of John Hunyadi, for help. The king's reaction to this plea was to have Vlad arrested and thrown in a royal tower. While we aren't completely positive how long Vlad was locked away, most historians agree that he remained a prisoner from 1462 until 1474. During this 12 years, Vlad Tepes was able to reconnect with and even marry in to the Royal family. Little is known about this wife and his relationship with her, but it is known that he fathered two sons with her.

However, here's the deal. It's impossible to believe that ANY prisoner, royalty or not, would have been permitted to marry or sleep with any member of the Hungarian royal family! And seeing how his oldest son was around 10 when he reclaimed his thrown in 1476, it only makes sense that he was in fact only a "PRISONER" until about 1466 or maybe even earlier than that. But he would have stayed on to gain both power and strengthen ties prior to "getting back."

It is also apparent that he didn't give up his hobbies of torture mutilation. Fortunately for the people of Hungary though, it seems as if he limited himself to small animals during this time. Capturing mice, rats, birds and other animals to torture and mutilate them. Some were beheaded or tarred-and-feathered and released. Most were impaled on tiny spears.

There is also a more likely reason for Vlad's rehabilitation. Vlad's brother, Radu the Handsome, had succeeded to the Wallachian throne and instituted very Pro-Turkish policies. Because of this, the Hungarian king may have viewed Vlad as a possible candidate to reclaim the seat as Prince. Surely the fact that Vlad renounced his faith as an Orthodox and adopted Catholicism most likely played a part as well.

Vlad decided to once again take his thrown in 1476 and with the Transylvanian Prince (Stephen Bathory) he invaded Wallachia. By this time Radu, Vlad's brother, had died and been replaced by Basarab the Old. As the forces of Prince Bathory and Vlad approached, Basarab fled. Problem was when the Prince and most of the forces which had aided him in retaking his country returned to Transylvania, Vlad was left vulnerable. The Turks had a large army and didn't delay their aproach long enough for Vlad to gain the support he needed to properly face them. So within months of retaking his thrown he was forced to march and meet the Turks with less than four thousand men at his side.

Vlad Dracula was killed in battle against the Turks near the town of Bucharest in December of 1476. Some reports indicate that he was assassinated by disloyal Wallachian boyars just as he was about to sweep the Turks from the field. Other accounts have him falling in defeat, surrounded by the ranks of his loyal Moldavian bodyguard. Still other reports claim that Vlad, at the moment of victory, was accidentally struck down by one of his own men. The one undisputed fact is that ultimately his body was decapitated by the Turks and his head sent to Constantinople where the sultan had it displayed on a stake as proof that the horrible Impaler was finally dead.

The monks of the Snagov Monastery, near where Vlad was reportedly killed, took it upon themselves to inter him. Perhaps the monks felt indebted to Vlad for the additions he insisted be added to their abode—most bizarrely, a prison and a torture chamber. Whatever the reasons, the monks dressed the body richly and put it to rest in front of the church alter. However, while Vlad did request to be buried at the monastery, some say that it was another nobleman who was placed in this tomb.

But there is some question to whether or not anyone was actually buried there. In 1931, the tomb was opened by a group of explorers. While it was expected that they would find the skull-less remains of Vlad Tepes, all that was discovered was animal bones. Whether or not Vlad, another nobleman or anyone else was ever actually buried there is up for debate. But more curious than why only animal bones were found is the question of WHERE the actual burial plot of Vlad is, or was, or if a later ruler destroyed them...

Present Day
Today most people only know the mythical Dracula. But the people of Romania continue to see him as a "freedom fighter" and a great leader for defending their land from the Turks. Although the Turks did retake control after his death, his efforts have forever won him a place in history and in the hearts of his people!  So in the end I guess it's true that every story has two sides, or in the case of Vlad Tepes, three - Vlad the Myth, Vlad the Impaler and Vlad the Hero!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Metaphisical Monsters: Vampires: Part 1 Dracula

Prior to the Twilight takeover, when someone mentioned the word Vampire most people pictured an aristocrat with a cape named Dracula. A top selling Novel, countless film retellings and believe it or not a couple of Musical Theater productions have made both Dracula and the Vampire a permanent part of our day to day life. It's nothing to see an entire shelf devoted to the subject amongst many a movie or book collections. In my home, we have both. Without doubt, Dracula is among our modern day's favorite undead celebrities!

But where did Dracula come from? Who was he? Did Bram Stoker make up the whole thing, or did he know something that others didn't?

Well, I'm sorry to tell you this, BUT, while Bram Stoker did have a number of real life influences for his Novel, he neither based the book on a real life Vampire nor created the genre.  Vampire myths date back to Ancient times, many of which were recorded in both historical and religious texts of the day. However the first recognized Vampire Fiction Novel was The Vampyre written in 1919 by John Polidori.

But unlike Polidori's novel, Stoker did have some real life historical influences to base his writings on. While early literary scholars quickly jumped to claim that the book was based on stories of a 15th century Wallachian Price named Vlad III Dracula who was also given the name Tepes. The two have very little in common. In fact it wasn't until the final revision did Stoker's vampire assume the name Dracula, before that he was Count Wompyr.

Vlad II "Tepes" Dracula
So what was it about Vlad Dracula that made Stoker decide to change the name of his creation? Well, the story of Vlad III Dracula is one which takes more than a few paragraphs to write, and one which I will cover at length in a future post. The short version is simply that after the murder of both his father (Vlad II Dracul) and his older brother Mircea, who was in line for the thrown, Dracula became prince of Wallachia (in present day Romania). His control only lasted a matter of two months before he was driven out of his country and to neighboring Transylvania. After 7 years in exile and with the support of the Turks, Dracula was able to reclaim his thrown and take revenge on those who had killed his father and brother and driven him from his home.

Hungary's Governor had just died, leaving the the boyers to be dealt with. He held a Easter celebration and invited 500 boyers and the area's 5 Bishops. At the end of his day of celebration Vlad Dracula ordered that all of his guests, their families and their attendants be impaled. He would from here on be known as Vlad Tepes, which translates to Vlad The Impaler, a name he would live up to. He was a formidable opponent for anyone whom crossed him and would end many thousands of lives both innocent and guilty in the name of justice and freedom for his land. He has become most well known for his habit of sitting down amongst the freshly impaled to eat his meal. Historical myth states that he would have the blood gathered in bowls so that he could dip his bread in it. However, there isn't much proof to back this up, and it seems to be something which was added to his story after his death to sensationalize - an addition I don't believe he needed.

His death is shrouded in mystery. While many historians believe he died in battle against the Turks, many others believe it was murder. Either way he died while attempting to protect his Christian Country from a Muslim takeover. For this, he is still seen as a freedom fighter and a hero amongst the people of Romania.

One last interesting point is that of his burial. While tradition holds that his buried at the base of the Alter in the Snagov Monastery near Bucharest, his head was said to have been removed and delivered to the Turkish Sultan as proof of his death.  However, in recent years it's been discovered that his body is in fact NOT buried in the Monastery, instead the tomb remains empty. Which begs the question "Where is Dracula's body?"

So, as you can see there are SOME similarities, the most obvious is the name Dracula. The name Dracula, in actuality means "son of Dracul." Depending on the translation Dracul is said to mean either Dragon or Devil. Most likely it means Dragon, as his father, Vlad Dracul, was a member of the order of the Dragon.

Beyond the name Stoker made Castle Dracula in Transylvania in to the home of Dracula, while in reality it was more of a fort he used during war and was not his home or even in his own country. Of course he was nobility, but rather than a Count, he was a Prince. And of course the cruelty and supposed blood thirst make for great inspiration for horror novels.

As if that weren't all enough the addition of the idea that he had been beheaded matching pre-existing vampire lore stating beheading was a sure fire end to a vampire's existence fit just perfectly. As did the fact that his body is in fact missing, this however is a fact which was not known at the time of Stoker's research.

Erzsebet (aka Elizabeth) Bathory
It's more likely that Stoker took more inspiration from the sixteenth century Countess Bathory than he did from Dracula. A great deal of information on Bathory has been found amongst Stoker's note books and research. Although Erzebet was actually a woman she and the fictional Count Dracula have a greater deal in common.

Again, there is much more to the story than can be put here, so look for future postings. However, it's a fairly simply story with many parallels to that of Dracula. Bathory is often sited as being Hungarian, but was more likely to have been born in to Slovakian Nobility. Although at the point when she lived land overturned ownership so much it would have been hard to really make such a distinction.

Her first cousin Prince Steven Bathory of Transylvania actually participated in an expedition lead by Vlad Dracula. And Castle Fagras, also known as "Castle Dracula" in Romania, actually became a possession of Prince Bathory during Erzebet's lifetime, she may have even spent time there, but it's doubtful.

Erzabet married her Count in 1575, but kept her own surname, which in that day was not only unheard of but that stuff of scandals! Her husband was very often away on military campaigns against the Turks. At one point Erzebet went to stay with her Aunt, Countess Karla Bathory. Who today would not only be considered a nymphomaniac, but would be imprisoned for her pension for murder and rape. Married and widowed four times, at least two of her husbands died at her hands. It's believed that her aunt is the one who taught Erzbet most of what she knew of torture, a past time which Erzbet came to greatly enjoy and even involved her husband in when he was at home.

A beautiful woman, she became incredibly vane and was greatly bothered by the aging process. She was known to spend days at a time in front of her mirror. She even had a mirror designed just for her that had supports where she could lean on her arms in an effort not to feel tired after hours of admiring herself.

It's the combination of her love of herself and her love of putting others in great pain that lead her to brutally kill hundreds of young girls. The story goes that one day as her servant girls were attending to her one girl accidentally pulled her hair, and she slapped the girl. Erzbet's ring sliced in to the girl's face and blood splattered on to Erzbet's face. As she wiped the blood away she thought the skin under it looked younger and more supple. From then on she would recruit, or even kidnap young girls from the surrounding towns where she would torture and murder them in ever more horrendous ways. Always draining their blood to use for her baths or "skin treatments" which she believed made her more beautiful. She was also known to consume blood on occasion.

Once she started to target nobility her antics were no longer to be tolerated. Her castle was stormed and she was arrested. Upon entering the castle the arresting army-men were appalled to find the evidence of the previous nights festivities in the basement - two mangled corpses and two more bloody girls who were in the last moments of life.

Because of her status Erzbeth was never heald to a trial. Instead she was simply dealt with "in house" by the ruling Count, who had taken over once her husband passed away.  The Countess never once denied the accusations. Instead she stated that her activities were within her rights as a Nobel Woman. She was sentenced to death, but managed to delay her sentence indefinitely and she lived out her final days locked away in a tower of her own castle.

Now, it's easy to see the parallels and inspirations here. In fact it was most likely his research in to Bathory with lead him to find the information on Dracula and ultimately change his character's name. Like the fictional Dracula, Bathory was blood thirsty, bathing and drinking blood. She was known to be involved in the Occult and what today would amount to Devil Worship (although in that day was simply called Witchcraft). She killed hundreds of innocents, mostly all young girls, from neighboring towns which she had kidnapped through the night. And of course, she was a Countess. There is even a story of her having a relationship with a mysterious man in black who had filed his teeth in to points (although there isn't much information on who he could have been).  With all of these similarities it's more likely that Bathory served as a greater inspiration than Vlad Dracula actually did.

Mythical Inspirations
Of course Vlad "Tepes" Dracula and Countess Erzbet Bathory weren't the only inspirations for Stoker. In addition to his research in to "historical vampires" Stoker also did a great deal of research in to Vampire Myth. Many of today's best known Vampire lore was birthed from Stoker's Novel. But Stoker himself simply retold it from thousands of years of myth. A steak through the heart, beheading and even holy water were all a part of vampire myths which dated back to the earliest known civilizations. However, as we will explore further in my Mythological Vampire's post, he still made quite a good bit up without any historical or mythological basis.

Of course, at it's core Dracula is a work of fiction. It's a horror novel full of adventure and intrigue and a now classic story line which has been rewritten and recreated over and over again to feed every hungry horror fans.
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