World Bee Day

Honor the Gods has written a great post on an important topic. Keep reading to find out about how you can help bees…

honor the gods

Roman statue: Antinous as Aristaeus

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Aristaeus is the son of Apollo and the huntress Cyrene. He was raised by nymphs, from whom he learned the rustic arts of bee-keeping, mead-making, and cheese-making. He also studied with the centaur Chiron, from whom he learned the selection and uses of medicinal herbs. Aristaeus taught these arts to humanity and was widely revered as a benevolent deity.

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Today, May 20, has been designated World Bee Day by the United Nations!

Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities.

You can help by:

  • planting a diverse set of native plants, which flower at different times of the year
  • buying honey from local farmers
  • buying products from sustainable agricultural practices
  • avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our…

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Give from Your Heart (Vampire Approved)

Give from Your Heart (Vampire Approved), blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Give blood, donate blood, blood banks, giving, charity, pet blood donation, acts of kindness
Photo by Allec Gomes on Pexels.com

Considering how much of it exists in the world, it’s surprising (or maybe not) that blood banks are perpetually short of their key product. Blood and blood components are needed to help people with various medical conditions (including those with blood cancers), for surgery, and for emergency situations, like during childbirth or after a car accident. When there isn’t enough blood to go around, the consequences are devastating. So today’s post is to ask you to please consider donating blood, if you can– it takes only about 30 minutes. You’ll be rewarded with the warm sense of having done some good in the world (and a treat).

Your local vampires would approve 🧛

For more information on donating blood:

Canadian Blood Services: https://www.blood.ca/en

Société canadienne du sang: https://www.blood.ca/fr

American Red Cross: https://www.redcrossblood.org/

NHS Blood Services: https://www.blood.co.uk/

If your local agency isn’t listed, try doing an online search for blood services in your country/region.

(By the way, veterinary clinics need blood too. Find out more here, or search for pet blood donations in your local area: https://www.canadiananimalbloodbank.ca/#!cabb )

Wishing you a bloody good weekend…

Aspasía S. Bissas

PS: Reading is a great way to pass the time while you’re donating blood. Stay on theme and download one of my books.

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books, Amazon
FREE Blood Magic: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

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Vampire’s Garden: Yew

Vampire's Garden: Yew, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Gardening, history, mythology, crafts, folklore, yew, taxus baccata, poisonous plants, toxic plants, dangerous plants, sacred tree, sacred trees, Fortingall yew, vampire, vampires
Photo by Julia Filirovska on Pexels.com

Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post is fifteenth in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…

Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.

Caution: All parts (except the flesh of the berries) are poisonous: do not ingest. The berries contain poisonous seeds. Even dead and dried parts of the tree are poisonous. Toxins can also be inhaled or absorbed through the skin: handle carefully. Yew is also toxic to many animals: keep away from pets and livestock. There is no antidote to yew poisoning, although there are drugs that can help in recovery. If you suspect yew poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.

Caution 2: Male trees produce copious pollen that is highly allergenic. Keep windows closed to help prevent allergic reactions, and try to stay away from yew trees in spring. While the pollen also contains toxins, they’re in low enough doses that it won’t poison you (it might be hallucinogenic, though, and standing in the pollen on a hot day can “shift consciousness”).

Botanical Name: Taxus baccata

Common Names: Common yew, English yew, European yew

History: Native to western, central, and southern Europe, and parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, yews have existed since the Triassic period, about 250 million years ago. Despite being toxic, yews are considered sacred in many cultures throughout history, including in Ireland, where it (known as Eó Ruis) is considered one of 5 Sacred Trees. The Norse tree Yggdrasil was likely a yew (early interpretations may have mistakenly identified it as an ash). Because of their blood red sap, some Christians believe the tree is bleeding in sympathy with Jesus. Yew trees are commonly found in churchyards in the UK, although there is no definitive reason why (possibilities range from churches being built near yews to help convert pagans, to the trees being a symbol for death and resurrection, to yews being planted to discourage farmers from letting their livestock graze on church lands). Yews are long lived: The Fortingall Yew in Scotland is believed to be somewhere between 2000 and 9000 years old (ring counts can’t be done with yews due to the way they grow). Because of this, and the tree’s ability to repeatedly regenerate, the yew is also known as the tree of immortality. Because of its toxicity, arrow tips were once coated in yew to make them extra lethal. That same toxicity has been put to good use more recently in chemotherapy drugs.

Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Sorrow

Cultivation:

Zones 5 to 7. Perennial. A shade-tolerant evergreen, yew grows in almost any soil as long as it’s not water logged. Make sure to plant it in well draining soil to prevent root rot. It prefers a moderate amount of moisture, but it can tolerate short periods of drought. Although it can grow in shade, growth is healthier when it gets a few hours of sunlight a day. Yew is tolerant of cold, heat, and urban pollution, but keep it sheltered from strong winter winds. Too much rubbing on the bark (such as from children climbing it) can kill it over time. Yew appreciates yearly fertilizing in spring, along with a layer of mulch or compost. Yew is slow growing, taking about 20 years to grow 4.5 m (15 feet) tall. When mature it can reach 20 m (65 feet) tall.

Uses:

Woodworking: Described as one of the hardest softwoods, yew is ideal for a number of projects, from bows to musical instruments to furniture and flooring. It also has interesting and attractive burls. The sawdust is toxic so wear a mask when working with yew wood.

Here’s a short video of a longbow being made from yew:

Ornamental: Yews make good hedges and topiary, and because it is slow growing it doesn’t need frequent trimming (only about once a year).

Bonsai: Yew is a popular choice for bonsai.

Wildlife: Birds including waxwings, thrushes, and finches eat the berries and seeds. The dense foliage provides protection and nesting opportunities for them too. Small mammals, such as squirrels and dormice also eat the berries. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of the satin beauty moth.

Mara’s Uses:

In Love Lies Bleeding, when Mara is listing possible plants to experiment with, she mentions that “yew bleeds.” Between its blood-like sap and its association with immortality, yew would be an important potential ingredient in Mara’s herbal blood substitute.

Further Reading:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Flower Meanings Dictionary from A to Z

https://www.ancient-yew.org/map/ (Locations of ancient yews in the UK)

Yew Tree Folklore

Wikipedia

Woodland Trust: Yew

How to Grow and Care for Yew

Yew: The Hedgerow Poisoner

It’s True, Everything We Do, We Do it for Yew

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Vampire, vampires, mythology, folklore, dark fantasy, peuchen, lamia, lamastu, lamashtu, riri yaka, penanggalan, demons, monsters
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(This is a repost– scroll down for links to more vampires posts.)

Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Dracula, Blade, Angel, or any of the fanged creatures-of-the-night that populate modern culture, including Mara from Love Lies Bleeding. The vampires we’re familiar with are (generally) human looking, powerful, often charismatic and attractive, with a thirst for blood and a dislike of stakes. But that wasn’t always the case. History and folklore are full of vampires that are nothing like what we’ve come to expect. Here are five examples…

Lamaštu (or Lamashtu)

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Vampire, vampires, mythology, folklore, dark fantasy, peuchen, lamia, lamastu, lamashtu, riri yaka, penanggalan, demons, monsters

Depicted as having a lion’s head, donkey’s teeth, bare breasts, a hairy body, bloodstained hands with long fingers and nails, and taloned bird’s feet, Lamaštu was an evil Goddess of ancient Mesopotamia who preyed on newborns and fetuses in order to suck their blood (among other things). Miscarriages and sudden deaths of infants were blamed on her. Pregnant women could ward her off with amulets, an incantation, or offerings of centipedes and brooches. The offerings were meant to distract Lamaštu, which was a common way of thwarting vampires.

Riri Yaka

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Vampire, vampires, mythology, folklore, dark fantasy, peuchen, lamia, lamastu, lamashtu, riri yaka, penanggalan, demons, monsters
Via https://www.rrncommunity.org/items/9836

In the Sinhalese culture of Sri Lanka, the Riri Yaka, or “Blood Demon” has an eternal thirst for blood. He’s usually portrayed as being a blood-smeared, ape-faced, four-armed man with a mouthful of decomposing human flesh. He haunts graveyards, crematoriums, and the dying. He can also possess people and cause illness, usually of the blood. People possessed by Riri Yaka are pale, listless, and anemic; a ritual ceremony must be performed to cure them.

Penanggalan

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Vampire, vampires, mythology, folklore, dark fantasy, peuchen, lamia, lamastu, lamashtu, riri yaka, penanggalan, demons, monsters
Illustration by Munshi Abdullah from ‘The Indo-Chinese Gleaner, Volume 2’ (1819)

Seemingly a normal woman during daylight hours, once the sun goes down the Penanggalan detaches her fanged head and organs from her body in order to fly around the Malaysian countryside in search of the blood of newborns and women who have just given birth. Those who survive being fed on inevitably contract a wasting illness, another common theme in vampire myths. Penanggalan will often disguise themselves as midwives, but can be recognized by their characteristic vinegar smell (they keep a vat of vinegar in their home in which to soak their entrails) and odd behaviour. The best way to get rid of a Penanggalan is to surround doors and windows with thorny branches and thistles, so that they will become entangled and trapped. If found, their hollow bodies can also be stuffed with broken glass or destroyed, which will kill off the head.

Lamia

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Vampire, vampires, mythology, folklore, dark fantasy, peuchen, lamia, lamastu, lamashtu, riri yaka, penanggalan, demons, monsters

Daughter (or possibly granddaughter) of the Greek God Poseidon, Lamia was Queen of Libya and Zeus’s lover before being transformed by his wife, Hera, into a creature that was part woman, part sea monster, and wholly deadly. Described as either stunningly beautiful or hideously ugly, Lamia generally had a woman’s face and serpent-like features. In retaliation for Hera killing her children, Lamia began murdering other people’s children by sucking their blood. Over time she was also said to seduce and devour men. Lamia had the power of prophecy, as well as shape-shifting abilities and magical powers. Eventually the single woman became pluralized into a race of vampiric monsters, the Lamiae. The origins of Lamia may lie in Mesopotamia’s Lamaštu. A modern Greek folk saying explains the sudden death of infants and young children as “[the child was] strangled by Lamia.”

Peuchen

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Vampire, vampires, mythology, folklore, dark fantasy, peuchen, lamia, lamastu, lamashtu, riri yaka, penanggalan, demons, monsters
Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

The Mapuche and Chilote of southern Chile have a legend of a shapeshifter that petrifies victims (both human and animal) with its stare in order to then drain their blood. The peuchen can take any form, although it prefers that of a giant, bat-winged flying snake. Only a machi (medicine woman) can defeat it. There may be a connection between the myth of the peuchen and that of the chupacabra.

Have you heard of these vampires? Which do you think is scariest? Tell me in the comments.

If you want more vampires right now, download my books!

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books, Amazon
FREE Blood Magic: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: SmashwordsBarnes & NobleKoboApple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Check out my other posts on this topic:

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

A Further 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

Further Reading

Lamaštu

Lamashtu

Seven Mythical Creatures that Supposedly Haunt Sri Lanka

Penanggalan

Penanggalan (Wikipedia)

Lamia

Lamia (Wikipedia)

Peuchen

Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore

Give from Your Heart (Vampire Approved)

Give from Your Heart (Vampire Approved), blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com.  Give blood, donate blood, blood banks, giving, charity, pet blood donation, acts of kindness
Photo by Magdaline Nicole on Pexels.com

Valentine’s Day may have passed, but it’s never a bad time for showing some love for your fellow humans through a thoughtful act of kindness ♥

Considering how much of it exists in the world, it’s surprising (or maybe not) that blood banks are perpetually short of their key product. Blood and blood components are needed to help people with various medical conditions (including those with blood cancers), for surgery, and for emergency situations, like during childbirth or after a car accident. When there isn’t enough blood to go around, the consequences are devastating. So today’s post is to ask you to please consider donating blood, if you can– it takes only about 30 minutes. You’ll be rewarded with the warm sense of having done some good in the world (and a treat).

Your local vampires would approve 🧛

For more information on donating blood:

Canadian Blood Services: https://www.blood.ca/en

Société canadienne du sang: https://www.blood.ca/fr

American Red Cross: https://www.redcrossblood.org/

NHS Blood Services: https://www.blood.co.uk/

If your local agency isn’t listed, try doing an online search for blood services in your country/region.

(By the way, veterinary clinics need blood too. Find out more here, or search for pet blood donations in your local area: https://www.canadiananimalbloodbank.ca/#!cabb )

Wishing you a bloody good weekend…

Aspasía S. Bissas

PS: Reading is a great way to pass the time while you’re donating blood. Stay on theme and choose one of my books.

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com
🧿
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