October is the month of Halloween. A time for costumes and candy. Tricks and treats. The time when stories warn the veil between the world of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Watching all the ghosts, goblins and monsters can be a source of inspiration for paranormal writers. Not that we don’t see the monsters everywhere already. After all, we are prone to look at a normal set of circumstances and ask ourselves, “What would happen if this was added to the mix?” Or if the moonlight happens to strike oddly off a strangers eyes, we can’t help but weave an eerie tale about the reason for that otherworldly reflection. Or if we think we glimpse something solid, tangible in that black-on-black of deep shadows, tiny teeth of dread worry the knots of unease trying bind our limbs motionless.
That familiar chill of dark excitement shivers over us, and we can’t stop the thought “What if that individual isn’t what he seems, but is something deeper, darker, more beastly?” and the creation of our newest monster begins. Did you know the Chinese revere nightmares? They claim our dreams endow us with the ability to create the perfect Dragon, our deepest darkest fears given form and life.
So get ready to be thrilled and chilled; until Halloween I’m going to touch on pieces of the paranormal every Phantasy Friday. Some will be fact, some will be fiction; but it will be up to you to figure out which is which in the mix.
I write Werewolves, I investigate ghosts, and I love tales of Vampires and Witches. It’s so hard to choose where to start, but I guess I’ll follow my heart and go with Werewolves.
Many people believe that Werewolves –or Shapeshifters– are newly come onto the paranormal scene, but they’ve actually been part of cultures worldwide since the beginning of recorded history. Most Native American tribes teach that man and animal used to exist side by side, man speaking the language of animals, and animals speaking the language of man, and that shared bond allowed them to trade places in times of great need. North American shapeshifters are an integral part of the Mohawk history, whose territory stretched from upstate New York to Quebec. They called individuals with such ability limmiken and sometimes yenaloosi, and included branches of the Sioux and the Apache.
The most famous of tribes where the belief was prevalent (and the best documented!) was the Navajo, where they were often known as Skinwalkers, although this has to be seen within the overall context (and as an attribute of) Navajo witchcraft. Their name for such people is yeenadlooshi (Yea-Naa-gloo-shee), which literally means “he who goes on all fours”. Skinwalkers, says Navajo tradition, are even physically different from ordinary people–the main difference being their eyes, which are large and luminous, even in the daylight.
Among Christianized Navajo, there’s a story that God had granted all men the power to transform themselves into the likenesses of animals for protection, for use against enemies, or in order to do good. Gradually, because man did not follow God’s Commandments, He took the power away from the wider world, but left it with the Navajo, although only a few now seem to have it–and some use it for evil.
Sow how pervasive is the Werewolf world-wide?
Here’s just a partial list of countries with Werewolf legends, and their name for them. France — Loup Garou; Spain — Hombre Lobo; Russia — Vourdalak; Ukraine — Vovkulak(a), Vurdalak(a), Vovkun; Norway/Iceland — Kveld-ulf, Varafur; Lithuania — Vilkolakis, Vilkatlakis, Scotland — Werewolf, Wulver; Serbia — Montenegro; Ireland — Faoladh, Conriocht.
Oh, my, yes. My furry favorites are certainly a globe-trotting bunch, aren’t they? My mind’s awhirl with story line possibilities. Wait! The facets of a glorious story just crystalized in my head. One filled with fangs and beastly supremacy. One with a monster’s lonely heart, begging to show the depth of his devotion. I must find a pen to jot the highlights down before they lose their luster!
Keep writing, my friends! Next week we’ll do Voodoo!
Wait! Tell you what; you tell me a Halloween ‘trick’ and one random commenter will get a ‘treat’. A copy of the eBook anthology Dreamspell Haunts Volume 2, containing Runere McLain’s paranormal short story NEW ORLEANS’ GHOST OF SPANISH GOLD!