Zombees would be funny if they weren’t so awful.

I like bees. They’re super cool. I know so many people are allergic to them. I’m sorry. That sucks.

Well, if it wasn’t enough that the bees are dying from colony collapse disorder, now they’ve got the zombee apocalypse to deal with.

More info here.

Edit: I forgot to credit Sheryl Kaleo, the DotWer who put me on to this story.

Pimpin’ my book

Hi DotWers:

My book is out. Some of you might already know that I write.

But I’ve released my first young adult novel, called Over My Dead Body. And since this is my blog, I’m going to pimp it out. Instead of a demon this week, you get an advert.

You can read Over My Dead Body on your Kindle, or your iPad, if you’ve got the Kindle app. It’s also available on Kobo, and will be out on the Nook any minute now. No printed version yet, but if you want one, give me a shout and I’ll let you know when you can order it.

True story, but I was actually offered a regular old print contract from a publishing house for this one. I turned it down, for various reasons. It’s a long story. But if you’re one of those folks who doesn’t care for self-published stuff, well, this is a book that would have been published the regular way, and be in your local bookstore, except now you can have it this year instead of next, and it will only cost you $3.53.

Just sayin’.

If you’re a long-time DotW reader, you’re going to recognize some of the multi-cultural demonic influences in Merit’s story. I hope you’ll check it out!

Can a DotW compendium be far behind?

The artwork was done by Sam Garvey. She’s great. Check her out at http://samgarvey.carbonmade.com/

Over My Dead Body
Teresa Wilde

Merit Boatman has gone to a better place. Or has she?

When sixteen-year-old workaholic and Tic Tac addict Merit Boatman bites the dust in a freak traffic accident, the last thing she expects is evil Viking god Loki to show up to threaten her afterlife. According to Loki, she’s the only one who can figure out why souls are disappearing before getting to their final destination, and if she doesn’t do it in seven days, he’s got a special place in Hell reserved just for her.

This wasn’t exactly on her To Do list.

Neither was working as an undercover ghost in an office of Death Gods whose job it is to transition souls to the After. Or falling for a certain three-hundred-year-old samurai with a talking dragon. Or making best friends with a valkyrie determined to send her off to Valhalla.

With Loki’s deadline looming, Merit has to face the ultimate challenge—putting her afterlife on the line for her friends, and for everyone on Earth, by facing down an invisible monster who considers her soul a tasty afternoon snack.

Life’s a bitch. But for Merit Boatman, death might be even bitchier.

*****EXCERPT*****

“So I suppose you’re here to take me to heaven?” I asked Brunnehilde.

She thumped the butt of her spear on the ground, and the tremor it created hit a six on the Richter scale. The people around us cast nervous glances at the skyscrapers on Michigan Avenue. Maybe they could feel her, just a little. Her knife-sharp cheekbones reddened with rage. “No, you’re a good Swede. For your After, you’ll go to Valhalla.”

Not quite what I expected. “I always thought I was Lutheran.”

“Valhalla,” she repeated. “This is clear as sausage water.”

Uh, from the Mount Rushmore set of her face, sausage water was pretty clear.

My paternal grandfather, Farfar, had fed me Viking mythology with my Cheerios. I knew the tales of Odin and the Norse gods like I knew my Sunday school stories. And, of course, he made sure I knew how to swear in Swedish. “Förbanna.” Damn. “Isn’t Valhalla just for warriors?”

She spelled it out for me as if she was dealing with a dense child. “You’ll go to the hall of Odin, through the sacred gate Valgrind, where you’ll be greeted by the bearded god Bragi, lover of poetry.”

Didn’t sound too bad. I nodded.

“There, the great warriors wait to fight once more, with Odin the All-Father, at Ragnarök, the end of days, on the plain of Asgaard. Until that time, they train themselves by day. By night, in the hall of Valhalla, they feast on roast boar and drink ale by the barrel, toasting the bravery of their comrades and the fellowship of brothers—”

Well, I couldn’t drink legally for another five years, and pork wasn’t my favorite. My fighting skills consisted of giving my twin brothers double-headlock noogies, so I might have an adjustment period. Maybe I could get used to it. I admit the idea of a hall full of hot warriors had some appeal, as long as they showered.

“—and you will have the honor of serving at their feet,” Brunnhilde finished.

I blinked at her for a while, waiting for her to clap me on the back and let me in on the joke. The straight line of her mouth never twitched upward.

A vision of eternity stretched before me. My future set in stone. Forever. Nothing would cease, nothing would end.

And I was a beer wench.

“Is it too late to convert to Hinduism?” I asked.

“Enough!” Brunnhilde’s cry reverberated down the corridor of skyscrapers. I imagined windows breaking all the way over to State Street. “You’ll go to the hall of Asgaard. But I can’t take you there.”

“Whew,” I said, a little relieved. “Anywhere else. Really.”

Brunnhilde stuck out her chiseled jaw. “I cannot take you there yet. I have forgotten my pen.”

To read more, buy Over My Dead Body.

Agwé: Voodoo’s man of the ocean

I would love to write more about Voodoo/Vodou/Vodun Loa. No, they’re not demons. I know this, and I hope everyone else does, too. (It’s not even easy to explain what a loa is. I am totally not the best person to even try.)

Thing is, I mostly do my research from books and there aren’t that many books about voodoo. I guess that’s because voodoo is passed on mostly from oral tradition. I don’t blame people for not writing books about it. The religion is very misunderstood–I’m sure I misunderstand it totally. And people freak out easily, thinking it’s all witchcraft and zombies.

I like researching from books and not the internet because information feels like it has more authority to it if it’s published that way.

So, anyway… If anyone out there who knows stuff about voodoo can suggest a good resource for voodoo info, I’m all ears. Please post in the comments.

Despite the lack of info, it’s time for more voodoo here, so I’m going off track and using the intertubes as authority. You’ve been warned.

Okay, end of Public Service Announcement and on to Agwé.

If you know a bit of Spanish, the word Agwé will sound familiar to you. Like ‘agua’. Water.

The veve used in ceremonies with Agwe

Agwé rules over the water. He’s a handsome mixed-race naval officer with green eyes. He’s an honorable gentleman, one of the Rada Loa, who are older and more restrained than their Petro and Ghede Loa counterparts. The Rada Loa spirits are associated with Africa as opposed to the New World.

Agwé is known for his reserve and self-restraint, even more than other Rada Loa. He’s a man’s man who is brave and commands respect.

Many voodoo loa are associated with Catholic saints. For Agwé, it’s Ulrich of Augsburg http://en.wikipedia.org

 

Ulrich of Augsburg

Ulrich of Augsburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Now why do you think Agwé is associated with St. Ulrich of Augsburg?

/wiki/Ulrich_of_Augsburg and sometimes the Archangel Gabriel.

To make a sacrifice to Agwé, float it out to sea on a raft. Good choices include champagne, toy ships, savoury exotic foods, rum, and sheep or rams. White, according to one source, dyed indigo, according to another. You can also fire guns in his honor. If your sacrificial raft returns to shore, your gift sucks and has been rejected–which will probably happen if you serve him fish.

You can identify someone who has been possessed by Agwé in a voodoo ceremony by the fact that they are saluting people in a military way and using an oar to row a chair around the room. You will want to keep the possessed person wet to keep Agwé moist. Also, try to keep the possessed from jumping into the nearest body of water.

He’s married to La Sirene (the siren) and Erzulie Fréda Dahomey. But Erzulie Fréda is also married to two other guys, so I’m not sure I completely understand the relationship there.

As you can guess, Agwé is a favorite loa of sailors and fishermen and anyone who depends on the sea.

 

Hecate: Goddess of witches

… he
Will come to know his destiny.
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and everything beside.
I am for the air. This night I’ll spend
Unto a dismal and a fatal end.

–Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 5

In modern times, Hecate has become known mostly as the goddess of witchcraft.

It’s speculated that she was actually around before Zeus and his Greek cronies, as an earth goddess. But she entered the common Greek myth as a titaness who turned on her people and aided Zeus and the Olympians against the titans. Because of her help to Zeus and his lot, they didn’t destroy her.

To the Greeks, she wasn’t the ugly crone that we (Possibly thanks to Shakespeare) think her. She was a lovely goddess with power over gateways and crossroads, which is probably the way she became associated with passing over to the underworld. Her totem animal is the dog. Not only were they often sacrificed to her, but her arrival was always heralded by dogs barking.

She’s associated with horses, but to a lesser degree.

In addition to passing into the next world, she also had responsibility for helping babies into this one. She assisted in childbirth and women would pray to her when they wanted help raising male children.

She appears in the seasonal myth of Persephone’s yearly journey into the underworld. When Demeter, Persephone’s mom, wandered the earth looking for her daughter, it was Hecate who suggested that Demeter go to Helios, the god of the sun to ask if he’d seen the girl. Of course the sun god sees everything, and told Demeter that Persephone was in the underworld, abducted by Hades and taken to the land of the dead.

In Euripides’ tragedy Medea, she’s the patron goddess of Medea, who is a witch. (By the end of the play, Medea kills her own children. Which should be a lesson to guys–if you marry a witch, don’t cheat on her. Actually, if I was a witch and my husband cheated on me, I’d just kill him. Or maybe some kind of curse would do the trick.)

The “Malleus Malificarum,” (The hammer against witches), a 1487 handbook for budding witch hunters, says that Hecate was revered by witches, who worshipped her as their goddess.

Hecate’s love life is a mystery. Some people say she was the mother of the Scylla, one of two sea monsters Odysseus has to face to get home in Homer’s Odyssey. Others say she stayed a virgin all her life and so wasn’t anyone’s mother.

She’s sometimes portrayed as a triple goddess, with three faces. If you’re in the ‘witch’ camp, those faces are Maiden, Mother, and Crone. But she’s also sometimes portrayed as having the heads of animals–usually dog, serpent, and horse.

Hecate, illustration by Stéphane Mallarmé, in ...

Hecate, illustration by Stéphane Mallarmé, in les Dieux Antiques : nouvelle mythologie illustrée (Paris, 1880). A Neoclassical rendition of a late Hellenistic or Roman original. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apsaras, the Desperate Housewives of Hindu Mythology

Français : Apsaras, détail d'une partie inféri...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These lovely celestial spirits come from Hindu mythology (and Buddhist) and, being gorgeous, stacked, and awesome dancers, are very un-demonic. They do have a bit of moral ambiguity to them, though. So they count under my Bad Girls category.

Apsaras serve Indra, the Hindu leader of the gods and the lord of heaven. He’s also the god of war and storms. Apsaras are usually court dancers and musicians. It’s common for an apsara to be the wife of a Gandharva, a male supernatural warrior.

Here’s where the moral ambiguity comes in. Lots of stories about apsaras tell of them serving Indra by visiting meditating sages. Thing is, sages who are close to enlightenment… Well, Indra gets worried about these guys. See, if they achieve enlightenment, they get really powerful. Perhaps powerful enough to challenge the lord of heaven.

So, to divert a sage from his studies, Indra just might call on one of his favorite celestial maidens to take a trip to Earth. There, her job is to find the sage and lead him off the path of enlightenment. Which she generally does by sleeping with him.

Okay, that’s not really great behavior, but think about it. Indra’s chief weapon, his alternative for distracting a sage, is a bolt of lightning. So, if you had a choice, would you rather be fried to a crisp or seduced?

I thought so.

Apsaras can fly, change shape (though they’re beautiful, so why would they want to?) and rule over luck and good/bad fortune. They also escort the souls of dead warriors to the afterlife, so they have a lot in common with your Norse valkyries.