Sunday, October 16, 2016

10 Halloween Superstitions

Superstitions flourish in all countries and all cultures.  Some of the origins are so obscured by time that no one knows when, how or why they came into being.  Friday the 13th always brings out superstitions and the rituals used to thwart them.

And then there's Halloween.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition.  It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends.  They set places at the table and left treats on doorsteps for these friendly spirits.  They also lit candles to help their loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.  Today's Halloween ghosts are usually depicted as scarier, as are our customs and superstitions.

Here's a list of ten superstitions that seem to apply specifically to Halloween.

1)  If a candle goes out on its own on Halloween, it is thought a ghost has come to call.

2)  A burning candle inside of a Jack-o-lantern on Halloween keeps evil spirits at bay.

3)  You invite bad luck into your home if you allow a fire to burn out on Halloween.

4)  A person born on Halloween can both see and talk to spirits.

5)  Seeing a spider on Halloween could be the spirit of a dead loved one who is watching you.

6)  If you hear footsteps behind you on Halloween, don't look back because it could be the dead following.

7)  Don't look at your shadow in moonlight on Halloween night.  Otherwise, you will die within a short period of time.

8)  If a bat flies around a house three times, it is a death omen.

9)  Ringing a bell on Halloween will scare evil spirits away.

10)  A bat that enters a home may have been let in by a ghost.

Do you have any superstitions that apply to Halloween?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Most Haunted Cities in America

With the approach of Halloween, it's natural for thoughts to occasionally dwell on ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. This week I'm blogging about America's most haunted cities.

There are several lists of the most haunted cities in the United States, most of them basically naming the same cities in varying order. Here's one list of 10 cities that recently came to my attention.

10) Portland, Oregon: Portland has a reputation for being the most haunted city in the Pacific Northwest. It's a city of many haunts, both seasonal tourist attractions and historical happenings where the participants refuse to leave. One of the most famous…or more accurately, most infamous…historical haunts are the Shanghai Tunnels. We've all heard the expression of someone being Shanghaied, meaning to be abducted. This is where it originated. In the Victorian era (around the 1870s), ship captains would put into Portland on the Columbia River looking for fresh crew members. Local middlemen drugged pub goers, dropped the bodies through trapdoors into the tunnels below where they were held captive until they could be carted to the waterfront and sold to the captain for $50/each. These ships were quite often headed for China and the port of Shanghai, thus the term being Shanghaied. Many of these drugged unfortunates died while being held in the tunnels. Today, the Shanghai Tunnels have several ghosts, some menacing and others apparently confused.

9) San Francisco, California: A city of many haunted locations and happenings. One of the most interesting is Alcatraz. The island has a long history, first as a military prison during the Civil War. It was used off and on by many different groups to house various prisoners from that time until 1933 when it was officially turned over to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and used as a maximum security prison for the likes of Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. On March 23, 1963, Alcatraz closed its prison doors for good. Over the one hundred plus years that the island housed prisoners of all types, many died in cruel and terrible ways. Those spirits still inhabit Alcatraz. Even today as part of the National Park system, tourists taking one of the park ranger guided tours report seeing and hearing strange things that can't be explained.

8) Chicago, Illinois: Chicago was the center of gangland activity during Prohibition, including the famous St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Many gangsters of the era used Chicago as a body dumping ground. There were also six thousand Confederate soldiers and sailors buried during the Civil War at Oak Woods Cemetery which has ongoing paranormal activity. Chicago's most famous ghost is Resurrection Mary named for Resurrection Cemetery. She was killed by a hit and run driver on the street in front of the cemetery and now is often seen hitch hiking along that street.

7) Charleston, South Carolina: The downtown area known as The Battery was an artillery installation during the Civil War. The area is known for its ghost stories. The Battery Carriage House Inn is the city's famous haunted hotel where visitors often see strange happenings. The inn's two most famous ghosts are the gentleman ghost and the headless torso. The gentleman ghost is thought to be a young man whose family owned the house in the early 1900s and, for reasons unknown, jumped off the roof and killed himself. The headless torso is believed to be military from the Civil War. There is no evidence that he intends any harm, but guests have felt threatened when he has suddenly materialized in their room.

6) St. Augustine, Florida: The nation's oldest city and the first permanently occupied European settlement on our shores, dating back to its founding in 1565. Castillo de San Marcos is a star-shaped fort and is considered to be one of the most haunted places in a city filled with unexplained phenomenon. The construction of The Old Fort began in 1672 and took twenty-three years to build. Many strange sightings, including a Spanish soldier, have been reported. It is not uncommon for individuals to capture on film strange lights, orbs, rods, spheres, and even distinct apparitions composed of strange mists.

5) San Antonio, Texas: The home of the Alamo is regarded as the most haunted city in Texas. Prior to the Battle of the Alamo, the ground was a cemetery between 1724 and 1793. It's estimated that about one thousand people were buried during those years. On the morning of March 6, 1836, following the thirteen day Battle of the Alamo, one thousand six hundred Mexican shoulders lay dead along with the approximately one hundred forty-five defenders of the old mission. The remaining buildings at the Alamo as well as the surrounding area is one of the most haunted places in the nation. Tales of ghostly sightings have been reported for almost two centuries.

4) New Orleans, Louisiana: With a history of voodoo and slavery in its past, it's no wonder that New Orleans is considered a very haunted city. Its most famous ghost is voodoo priestess Marie Laveau who was buried at St. Louis Cemetery #1, considered one of the most haunted cemeteries in the country. New Orleans is well below sea level, so the dead are buried in above ground tombs or vaults resembling small architectural buildings. Located on the edge of the haunted French Quarter, this oldest still in service cemetery has been the setting for many Haunted New Orleans movies such as Easy Rider, Interview With The Vampire, and Johnny Handsome. But its biggest draw is the tomb of Marie Laveau.

3) Salem, Massachusetts: This site of the infamous Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600s certainly makes the list of haunted cities. Gallows Hill is believed to be haunted by the spirits of the nineteen women accused of being witches who were hanged there. It also shouldn't be surprising that Salem has one of the largest Halloween celebrations in the country for people of all ages.

2) Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: The Civil War battle at Gettysburg resulted in fifty-one thousand casualties. It is believed that nearly all forty miles of the Gettysburg battlefields have paranormal activity. Many of the ghosts show up in photos, including the ghost of Robert E. Lee. In July 1863, Gettysburg's living population was out numbered twenty to one by the dead.

1) Savannah, Georgia: Savannah was named "America's Most Haunted City" in 2002 by the American Institute of Parapsychology. The city was home to a Revolutionary War battleground as well as Civil Way actions. Savannah offers several different haunted tours and is also famous as the location of the bestselling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that all of these cities offer ghost tours. Have any of you ever had any first hand experience with hauntings?

Monday, October 3, 2016

HIS MAGICK TOUCH—an interview with Devon and Raina

HIS MAGICK TOUCH an erotic witch romance available in ebook that tells us the story of Devon Bainbridge and Raina St. Clair. So, in honor of the upcoming Samhain celebration and it's more modern Halloween counterpart, I've invited Devon and Raina to be my guests today.

Welcome to my blog, Devon and Raina. Thank you for taking time from your schedule to be here today, especially with how busy you are due to the special gathering of covens for the Samhain celebration.

Raina: It's our pleasure, Samantha. Thanks for the invitation.

It's my understanding, Devon, that as a High Priest you've been invited to open and close the special ceremony involving the gathering of many covens from various states at this year's Samhain celebration.

Devon: Yes, it's a very special gathering this year. I'm honored to have been chosen.

And isn't it that gathering of the covens that's indirectly responsible for bringing the two of you together? Two people who had never met but each with your own agenda in seeking out the other? And you first encountered each other at a Halloween party, of all places?

Raina: (laughs) That succinctly describes it. The uncomfortable situation of a witch of the bloodline at a mortal's Halloween party.

Why would you be attending such a party? Doesn't it violate everything you stand for and represent?

Raina: Even though I'm a witch and immortal, I still need to earn a living. The man throwing the party, the one who invited me, is one of my best clients. So, even though the party theme wasn't to my liking, I felt an obligation to put in an appearance.

Devon: And it was due to Raina being at the party that I needed to be there. I didn't know if I would be able to make a connection with her at the Samhain celebration, so I sucked up my disgust and teleported inside the country club to the party location and waited for her to arrive.

So why were you each trying to make contact with the other? You had no prior connection, right?

Devon: A prior connection? That's an easy answer. A definitive yes…and no. (chuckles) I had never met Raina but I had crossed paths with her sister, Miranda, a century ago. Miranda and I had some unfinished business. Since Miranda had been deftly avoiding me, my plan was to use Raina to locate her sister. I've always lived by the witch's credo of Harm To None (a quick scowl darts across his face), but my unfinished business with Miranda was in total violation of that honorable intention.

What kind of unfinished business?

Devon: To put it as simply as possible, Miranda St. Clair misused and abused her witch powers and in so doing was responsible for the purposeful destruction of my brother. I fully intended to make her accountable to the council for her misdeeds and personally see to it that she did not escape retribution.

And did you?

Devon: I can't reveal that here, but it's all in the book.

(LOL) Fair enough. How about you, Raina? How did you discover the truth of Devon's agenda? And what did you think when you found out what he really wanted?

Raina: Devon voluntarily told me about trying to locate Miranda and why. But his assumption that I could help him with that was mistaken. Miranda and I…well, we've…(a look of sadness comes into her eyes, Devon reaches over and gives her hand a reassuring squeeze). Well, it's all in the book.

LOL…It seems that you're both stonewalling me. Let me try this. Raina, what about your agenda in wanting to make contact with Devon? What was that all about?

Raina: I had never met Devon in person, but knew his excellent reputation as a very powerful High Priest and the respect paid him by the members of the witch community. I had planned to seek him out at the Samhain gathering and was quite surprised to see him at my business client's Halloween party. Why was I determined to meet him? Devon is an acknowledged expert in all facets of sex magick. I wanted him to teach me…to school me in the proper rituals.

Was he surprised by your request and did he agree to teach you the rituals?

Raina: Well, to quote something I heard recently—I can't tell you that…you'll need to read the book.

The two of you are telling me the same thing? Neither of you will disclose the information about how you resolved your issues? You won't tell me what kind of impact Raina's unexpected request about sex magick had on Devon's quest to find Miranda and seek retribution?

Devon: (winks at me) I believe you've grasped the core of the situation.

Raina: In other words…that's right! (LOL)

Fair enough. The answers are in the book! Thank you, Raina and Devon, for being with us today.

HIS MAGICK TOUCH R-Adult Excerpt #1:

She grabbed a napkin from the bar and dabbed at her neck and upper chest, leaving most of the champagne to trickle between her breasts.

He set the half-empty glass on the bar, surprise covering his features. “I’m so sorry.” A sincere concern surrounded his words. “Are you okay?”

Just the sound of his smooth masculine voice sent a ripple of desire coursing through her body, headed directly for her pussy. She gave him her most seductive smile as she continued to dab the champagne from her skin. “I’m fine, no problem.”

He ran his fingertip along the edge of her plunging neckline. “Can I be of assistance?” A quick glance down the front of her dress noticeably quickened his breathing. “I can lick up the excess champagne…if it will help.” His voice and words teased and a sexy grin tugged at the corners of his mouth, but the glow in the depth of his eyes radiated pure passion and sexual magnetism. The kind that could melt the most determined woman’s defenses.

Her nipples puckered, partly from the cold champagne and partly from his obvious perusal of her body combined with the sexual energy that practically sparked from him. Her heartbeat increased. Being this close to him had her juices flowing and her desires running at full speed. She definitely wanted to experience Devon’s sexual prowess and learn the techniques of sex magick from a master, to discover and embrace the untapped potential of her sexuality.

She smiled seductively. “That’s a very gracious offer."

BLURB: As the powerful High Priest of his coven, Devon Bainbridge lives by the witch's credo of Harm To None. Yet he is willing to sacrifice everything in his century long quest for revenge. He intends to use Raina St. Clair as a means of locating her sister, the witch who misused her powers to destroy his brother. But once he meets Raina, his plan doesn't go as intended, especially when he discovers her agenda. She wants to learn sex magick.

Is Raina the one woman who could save Devon from himself?

HIS MAGICK TOUCH, erotic witch romance is available in ebook at The Wilder Roses, the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance from The Wild Rose Press:

Additional excerpts from HIS MAGICK TOUCH and information on my other books available on my website at

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Top 5 Most Haunted Roads In The World

It seems that almost every country has a list of haunted roads, haunted towns, haunted houses/castles, and anything else that can be put into the category of a haunted something, with one or more entities attributed to the paranormal/supernatural condition.

I recently came across a haunted road list that claimed to be the top 5 in the world and I'd like to share that with you.  I do not agree with this list.  I've read about roads purported to be considerably more haunted than most of these.

5)  Belchen Tunnel, Switzerland:
It's claimed that the ghost of an old lady haunts this Swiss road. There was one specific report that said two women picked her up and she warned them that something dreadful was going to happen. Then she disappeared.

4)  Stocksbridge Road, UK:
This is also known as the Killer Road and has been home to many ghostly sightings. One report said some security guards witnessed children playing on the road late one night, but they disappeared before the guards could reach them. Numerous reports have been made of the ghost of a monk appearing on the road's bridge.

3)  Highway 666, USA:
Travelers on this haunted American highway (known as the Devil's Highway) have reported speeding ghost cars, packs of devil dogs, and a flaming demonic semi-truck that drives directly at the spooked travelers. Many people attribute these sightings to a biblical association between the numbers 666 and Satan. In 2003, the highway number was changed to Highway 491. There are still a few places where you can see the highway 666 sign (labeled as old) next to the Highway 491 sign (labeled as new).

2)  Tuen Mun Road, Hong Kong:
Local residents blame the high number of accidents along this road on the sudden appearance of ghosts in the middle of the road. It's claimed that a person suddenly appears, forcing the driver to swerve and crash. They say with every new car fatality that another ghost will haunt the road.

1)  Clinton Road, New Jersey USA:
If you find yourself on this haunted road, be sure to toss a coin into the river at the Old Boy Bridge. The ghost of a boy who drowned will throw it back. There have also been reported sightings of UFOs, mutated circus animals, and mysterious glowing eyes.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Are The Holidays Getting Confused?

As we all know, Christmas is December 25th. But it seems to arrive earlier each year. Here we are…the middle of September. The official start of autumn (here in the northern hemisphere) is Thursday, September 22, 2016. We've barely cleared the summer season. Halloween is still over a month away and Thanksgiving is two months away. But none of that seems to make any difference.

As far as some retailers are concerned, Christmas is rapidly approaching. In fact, it's almost here. Yep…that's right. I've already seen Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, Christmas wrapping paper and other things Christmas in the stores next to the displays of Halloween candy and masks.

It's a little disconcerting. Winter weather is definitely not here. There's nothing outside that even pretends to resemble the pictures on Christmas cards showing the snow-laden pine and fir trees, pristine snow covering the landscape (before it turns to dirty slush), and a perfect snowman out there in the wilderness complete with top hat and scarf around his neck rather than the lopsided snowman in someone's front yard. And there's the charming country cottage with the smoke curling from the chimney and an old-fashioned sleigh being pulled by a horse.

How can you even think of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at your nose when the temperature is in the mid 80s? I do realize that there are lots of places where nice warm weather is common at Christmas time. Hawaii and southern Florida come to mind. And, of course, in the southern hemisphere Christmas arrives in the middle of summer. But even with the places in the U.S. that experience warm weather year round, wouldn't it be nice to get Halloween and Thanksgiving out of the way before concentrating on Christmas?

I, personally, would rather finish with one holiday before embarking on the next one. Maybe that has to do with my childhood. My birthday is in mid December and my parents always made sure that it was clearly separated from Christmas. The tree and decorations did not go up until after my birthday.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Endangered Languages From Around The World

There are nearly seven thousand languages spoken throughout the world today. The majority of these are predicted to be extinct by the end of this century. Half the world's population speaks the top twenty world languages. Mandarin, Spanish and English, in that order, are the top three. Most linguists point to globalization as the main cause for the rapid decline in many languages.

Unfortunately, when a language dies so does much of the knowledge and traditions that were passed on by the people speaking that language. This list was composed of data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity.

Irish Gaelic: Despite the fact that the government requires Irish students to learn this language and it currently has an estimated forty thousand native speakers, it is still classified as vulnerable.

Rapa Nui: The mother tongue of Chile's famous Easter Island has less than four thousand native speakers, and is quickly being taken over by Spanish.

Seneca: There approximately only one hundred people in three reservation communities in the United States who speak this language, with the youngest being in his 50s.

Yaw: Most young people living in the Gangaw District of Burma understand but do not speak this critically endangered language that has less than ten thousand native speakers.

Kariyarra: Although there are many people who have a passive understanding of this aboriginal language, there are only two fluent Kariyarra speakers left in Western Australia.

Franco Provençal: There are only about one hundred thirty thousand native speakers of this language, mostly in secluded towns in east-central France, western Switzerland and the Italian Acosta Valley.

Yahgan: This indigenous language of Chile purportedly has only one remaining native speaker. Others are familiar with the language, but it will most likely disappear soon.

Patuá: Derived from Malay, Sinhalese, Cantonese and Portuguese, less than fifty people in Macau, China, speak this language. It is now the object of folkloric interest among those who still speak it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Salt Mine Tours

Taking a tour of a salt mine? On the surface, it seems like a strange way to spend a day. What could be so interesting about seeing miners dig salt out of the ground? After all, it's not like taking a tour of a location steeped in history such as the Alamo or the Tower of London. Or a famous government building such as the White House. Or a tour of an interesting city such as San Francisco.

But a salt mine? You'll be surprised…

WIELICZKA SALT MINE IN KRAKOW, POLAND.  I saw a segment on the Travel Channel about this unusual tourist attraction. The mine consists of a lot more than just the tunnels and pits where they have been extracting salt for approximately 700 years (one of Europe's oldest salt mines). It was opened in the 13th century with commercial mining discontinued in 1996 but it continued to produce table salt until 2007. This is a unique tourist attraction and is listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.

The tour is spread out over the three upper levels of the mine complex, ranging from 64 to 135 meters (208 to 439 feet) below ground. You'll need to take nearly 400 steps down to the mine but there is an elevator that returns visitors to the surface. Tourists can walk the 3 kilometers (1.8 mile) trail through a collection of objects related to the mine and mining industry over the centuries. You'll see underground lakes. But perhaps the most surprising and fascinating feature of this salt mine is all the works of art made by the miners themselves over the centuries, hand hewn entirely of solid salt—statues, frescos, beautifully adorned chapels including one very large chapel with chandeliers and staircases made entirely of salt along with other hidden treasures. In addition to the spectacular works of art, the complex has a reception room used for private functions including weddings.

The salt mine reaches a depth of 327 meters (1065 feet) and is over 287 kilometers long (172 miles) with the tour covering only a small portion of this total area. The tour welcomes 1.2 million visitors each year.

Descend nearly 400 steps into the mine

One of four chapels--everything made from salt including the floor, walls, art work and even the crystals of the chandeliers are made from rock salt that has been dissolved and reconstituted to achieve a clear, glass-like appearance.

STRATACA IN HUTCHINSON, KANSAS, USA.  Interactive dinner theater below ground in a salt mine? Scout campouts below ground in a salt mine? A large Hollywood film storage/vault facility underground in a salt mine? An event center underground in a salt mine? Yes to all of these…and more.

This salt deposit was formed approximately 275 million years ago when the Permian Sea dried up. This is one of the largest salt deposits in the world covering 27,000 square miles in central and south central Kansas. Adjacent salt deposits extend the entire area to include parts of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and south eastern New Mexico for a total overall of 100,000 square miles. The purest portion of the main salt vein is 650 feet underground and is still being mined. Strataca (when first opened for tours was called the Kansas Underground Salt Museum) has access to about 300,000 square feet of the mined out area.

Salt was discovered southwest of Hutchinson in 1887 by a land developer who was drilling for oil as a means of increasing land sales. Instead of oil, he struck salt. Strataca is located in the original Carey rock salt mine.

Even though the mine tour existed earlier and a large storage facility had been there since the 1940s, in 1999 the Reno County Historical Society recognized the importance of preserving and presenting to the public the Hutchinson salt story. Today's museum is the result of a collaboration of the Historical Society and two businesses that already existed in the mine—the Hutchinson Salt Company and the Underground Vaults and Storage. In addition to storing a vast number of original Hollywood movies (such as the master prints of Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz), it also stores millions of documents and items from around the world in a secure and environmentally conducive atmosphere.

The newly revamped and renamed Strataca was opened to the general public May 1, 2007. Their first Murder In The Mine interactive dinner theater was held in 2007 as was their first underground scout campout. The Visitor Center opened in July 2008. And in 2013, they launched The Salt Safari Adventure Hike.
film storage vault

 tour train