Happy Equinox!

Happy Equinox! Blog post by Aspasía S. Bissas, autumn, leaves, leaf dress, fairy, fae, goddess, nymph, seasonal, seasons, pagan, paganism, polytheism, polytheist, good wishes
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It’s the first day of Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere, my favourite season (and not just because you can apparently make a dress from the pretty leaves). My part of the world does Autumn perfectly, with colourful leaves that crunch underfoot, and crisp air tinged with wood smoke, and gourds– so many gourds. There’s an eldritch feel all around that has nothing to do with spooky decorations. And for me, every change of season is an opportunity for a fresh start, so here’s hoping that this season brings the positive changes to the world that we all so desperately need…

What’s your favourite part of the season?

Happy Equinox…

Aspasía S. Bissas

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com
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Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Damon Salvatore, Mitchell from Being Human, Selene from Underworld, or any of the other 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…

Lilitu/Lilith

Lilitu are female blood-drinking monsters originating in Babylonia. They’re said to attack and destroy men (while the male version, lilu, prey on women and infants). It seems that over time the Lillitu combined with stories of Mesopotamia’s Lamashtu, and eventually morphed into Hebrew mythology’s Lilith and her demonic children. Banished to the wastelands by God for refusing to be subordinate to her husband Adam (yes, the one from the garden), Lilith arguably had a way cooler life as an independent woman, Queen of Demons, and mother of monsters. As in her ancient roots, Lilith is known to drink blood, usually from babies (she also eats children). An alternate version from Sumer describes her as an infertile “harlot” whose breasts exude poison, and who seduces men and drinks the blood of mothers and babies. She’s said to have wings and the feet of a bird. Lilitu/Lilith is also pluralized to describe a group spirits or demons with the same attributes. She/they are repelled with special amulets (which can still be found for sale).

 Alukah

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com, alukah, lilith, werewolf

Speaking of Lilith, the Alukah is a sort-of demonic werewolf-vampire hybrid that can fly and is also thought to be one of Lilith’s children (or possibly Lilith herself). “Alukah” is a Hebrew word that literally translates as “horse-leech,” but can mean blood-lusting monster or vampire (and can also be used as a title for Lilith). Alukah’s thirst can never be satisfied. It will die if it goes too long without blood, but if it dies with its mouth open, it can continue to feed on children for a year, so it should be buried with its mouth stuffed full of dirt to prevent that from happening. Alukah is also the Hebrew version of an Arabic blood-drinking demon named Aulak or Aluwqah (from the root of an Arabic word meaning “to suck”). Alukah can be warded off with specific incantations.

Dhampir

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com, dhampir
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Coming from the Balkans, Dhampirs (also spelled dhampyres, dhamphirs, or dhampyrs) are the offspring of vampires and humans. Their existence is attributed to the intense attraction male vampires have for human women (on the other hand, it’s rare for female vampires to mate with human men). Generally they have most of the strengths of their vampire parent, such as heightened senses and a longer lifespan, without the pesky drawbacks like intolerance to sunlight and garlic. They can also have magical abilities. They look human, but sometimes are described as having prominent facial features and teeth, a tail-like mark on their back, or no nails or bones. It’s also said that they don’t cast a shadow. While dhampirs can eat regular food, they do need to drink blood– although they can control the impulse better and don’t need to feed as often as vampires. Dhampirs have a supernatural ability to recognize vampires and often become vampire hunters– apparently professional dhampirs could still be hired in Kosovo as late as 1959. Unlike most of the lesser-known types of vampires I’ve written about, many dhampirs have made it into pop culture, including Blade, Rayne (from Bloodrayne), and several of the characters from Vampire Academy.

Lhiannan Shee

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, vampire, vampires, mythology, history, revenants, undead, living dead, fangs, aspasiasbissas.com, lhiannan see, lhiannan sidhe, lhiannan si, leannan see, leannan sidhe, leannan si
Photo by Danielle Pilon on Pexels.com

Also known as the Lhiannan (or Leannan/Leanan) Sidhe, See, or Si, this Celtic vampire is a type of fairy. Almost always described as a beautiful woman (often with long hair and green clothing, as well as long nails and sometimes cloven hooves), the Lhiannan Shee is often attracted to creative men whom she inspires and slowly kills (sort of like a Muse with a body count). Besides inspiration, they can also bestow fame, luck, and wealth. Almost impossible to get rid of once she attaches herself to someone, the Lhiannan Shee visits her lover at night and is visible only to them. Lhiannan Shee usually drain “life force,” but they will also drain blood; either way their victim wastes away. The only way to escape the Lhiannan Shee is to reject them as soon as they’re encountered, which enslaves them to you, rather than the other way around.

Bhūta or Préta

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In India, men who are mentally ill or were born with a deformity, or who suffer an untimely or violent death, are thought to become a Bhūta (also known as Préta): cursed spirits forced to wander the earth hunting for blood. Bhūta take the form of balls of light, insubstantial apparitions without a shadow, or bats and owls. They possess and reanimate corpses in order to attack the living, which they do at night. Occasionally a Bhūta gets a craving for milk and will then attack an infant that was recently fed. Their victims inevitably become sick and die, although it’s easy to escape the Bhūta by simply lying down on the ground (something they’re incapable of doing). There’s also a special ceremony that can be performed twice a month to placate the Bhūta and prevent it from attacking anyone. Bhūta are also strongly repelled by the smell of burning turmeric, and will completely dissipate if they’re exposed to it for too long.

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

Read my previous posts on this subject:

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Don’t forget to download my books:

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com
Download my books and get more vampires now…

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

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, 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! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Further Reading

Vampire Folklore by Region

The Queen of the Night

The Case for Lilith

Dhampir Wiki

Lhiannan Shee

Bhuta

Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology: Bhuta

Visiting Provence: Lavender Fields

One of my longtime dreams was to visit the lavender fields of Provence. In my mind, nothing could be more romantic; it was like a fairytale you could experience, something magical. And in 2015 I was lucky enough to finally be able to go. With surreal blue skies, cypress trees, castles, hills, Roman structures (some still in use so they can’t be called ruins), and, of course, lavender fields, Provence really is magical. When I was there my guide (Elodie of Provence Authentic) told me the fields are disappearing as farmers replace them with more profitable grapevines, which would be like Paris taking down the Eiffel tower to put up highrises. If you ever have a chance to visit the Luberon, the region where these fields were located, take it– while the lavender, and so much of the magic, is still there.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

By the way, the smell was incredible. Forget whatever you think lavender smells like– there’s nothing like an entire sun-warmed field of these flowers.

In the next photo, you can just make out a castle on the hill in the background. Apparently it once belonged to the Marquis de Sade. When I was there it was owned by designer Pierre Cardin, who was raising money to restore it. I wonder how that went…

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The flowers in this field haven’t quite opened yet. Lavender blooms in the Luberon from June until August, depending on location and type of lavender.
Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
The farm’s name, “La Savonnade” means soap. By the way, “lavender” comes from the French “lavendre,” meaning to wash.
Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Mallow flowers among the lavender.

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Surrounded by lavender fields is the lush green garden of the world’s luckiest homeowner. I wonder how they feel about unexpected houseguests…

Some local wildlife…

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Visiting Provence, Lavender Fields, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Before we left, we moved l’escargot off the road to more pleasant surroundings.

Have you visited any lavender fields, in France or anywhere else? Share in the comments…

Want to read more about France? Download my FREE story Tooth & Claw, set in early 1900s Marseille, and inspired by actual events (there aren’t any lavender fields, but there are vampires.)

Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

 Smashwords Barnes & Noble Kobo Apple Books

Further Reading

Visiting Provence: Carpentras

Vampire’s Garden: Lavender

Note: All photos in this post are © Aspasía S. Bissas. They were originally shared on my other blog Whimsy Bower (click to see more photos there).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

5 Dreamy Book Towns

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book lovers are dreamers. We dream of other worlds and other lives. We dream of what we just finished reading and what we’re going to read next. We dream of homes crammed with our book collections, libraries that never close, and cozy local bookshops where we can spend massive quantities of both time and money. And some book lovers dream of entire towns devoted to books and then make them a reality. Did you know there are dozens of book towns around the world (enough that one writer even wrote a book about them)? At a time when so many events have been cancelled and travel is difficult, if not impossible, for most of us, dreaming is more important than ever. Here are five book towns to dream about (and where one day, hopefully, you’ll be able to live your dreams).

Have you been to any book towns? Which are your favourites? Share in the comments…

Hay-on-Wye, Wales

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Probably the best known of all the book towns, and credited with inventing the concept, Hay-on-Wye is home to numerous book and antiques shops. It hosts the Hay Festival, a literary event that (normally) travels to other cities throughout the year (click the link to watch this year’s events online). There’s also a castle.

St. Pierre de Clages, Switzerland

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

A Medieval village, St. Pierre de Clages is Switzerland’s only book town. The town specializes in antiquarian booksellers, but that’s not all you’ll find there. They also host an annual book festival that’s described as a must for “book lovers, amateur readers, history buffs or fans of comic books.” (No word on what’s happening with the festival in 2020, but it’s probably safe to assume it’s cancelled.)

Featherston, New Zealand

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

One of the newer book towns, Featherston has already established itself as a place for book lovers. Its annual Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival, usually held in May, was postponed, but a Words in Winter event is currently taking place until August– key features include author talks and book signings.

Hobart, USA

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Located in the Catskills (New York), Hobart was essentially a ghost town not too long ago. Now it’s a dedicated book town with stores featuring books on topics ranging from American history and feminism to vintage cookbooks and craft books. Massive book sales are held on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, and Hobart also hosts their Festival of Women Writers (currently postponed but there may be virtual events).

Sidney, Canada

5 Dreamy Book Towns, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Sidney is Canada’s only book town, as far as I can tell (something they’ve apparently been claiming since the 1990s). Located on beautiful Vancouver Island, Sidney bookstores include new, used, and antiquarian books on everything from military history to classic children’s fiction. There’s a special focus on local authors and culture, and many stores hold regular events. Most books are in English, but you can also find a good selection of Japanese and Chinese titles. There’s also the annual Sidney LitFest (returning in 2021).

These are just a few of the dozens of book towns that exist around the world (although most seem to be in Europe, hopefully this concept will catch on). You can find out about more book towns here and here.

Aspasía S. Bissas book covers png
If you’re looking for something to read until you can get to the nearest book town, download my books FREE…

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

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, 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! ♥

 

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Welcome to Vancouver

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Since travelling is off the table for the foreseeable future, I thought I’d share some photos from a past trip. I was lucky enough to visit beautiful Vancouver on Canada’s west coast back in April 2018. If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend it. Mountains, ocean, gorgeous gardens, good coffee, friendly people. Some take issue with all the rain Vancouver tends to get, but I found it cozy (I also noticed it tended to clear up by early afternoon on most days anyway). I hope I can go back again– there was so much I didn’t get to see last time (like whales!)

These were taken in the north end of downtown Vancouver and the Gastown neighbourhood. Vancouver has one of the only steam clocks in the world.

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I got these shots (and the “Welcome to Vancouver” sign) on the way to Stanley Park…  Continue reading “Welcome to Vancouver”