Monday, September 28, 2015

Super blood moon lunar eclipse

You've probably heard of the rare occasion we witnessed last night: a supermoon lunar eclipse. The last one was in 1982, the next one will be in 2033. So what is this phenomenon? I'll let NASA explain as they are much better in it than I am.

Over here in The Netherlands started at 2.11AM and ended at 7.24AM. The total eclipse was visible from 4.11 to 5.24AM. So I had to give up a night's sleep, but I have no regrets at all! The sky was very clear and the moon was beautiful and visible from our roof terrace. I tried to make pictures with my mobile phone and Canon Ixus. They were nice, but during the total eclipse Ron helped me to install his Canon EOS on a tripod. Lots of pics were bad, but still I got some acceptable and even good pics. I made a little video of them:

If you want to see the separate pictures, look at them here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'Suffer A Witch' by Claudia Hall Christian (win a free copy!)

Blessed Mabon, Autumnal Equinox, Fall Equinox!

On this special day I have a treat for you: a guest blog by a dear friend AND a contest!

Claudia Hall Christian writes great stories about good people caught in difficult situations. She is the author of the romantic serial fiction Denver Cereal, the Seth and Ava Mysteries, the Queen of Cool, the Alex the Fey thriller series, and Suffer a Witch. She writes books and keeps bees in Denver, Colorado.

Today is the official launch date of 'Suffer A Witch'. To celebrate this occasion we give you a chance to win a free copy of the book (or e-book if you prefer). The only thing you have to do is leave a comment under this blog, it's easy as that! Any comment will do to enter, but Claudia and I welcome input and feedback on the subject in her guest post.

On October 10th, 10.10AM my time (CEST) I'll put the names of everyone who commented here (only here!! not on Facebook, not on PaganPages) in a bowl and pick one winner, who'll be announced on my blog.

Here's Claudia's guest blog for you:


I have spent most of the last two years immersed in the Salem Witch Trials for my novel Suffer a Witch, in which the Salem Witches are immortal and live in modern day Boston.  Cora (a.k.a. Tink) has been a key adviser to this project. Through her help, articles, and guidance, I've come to a key realization.

Everyone in Salem was a witch, and no one was.
You maybe shocked to learn that those who lived in New England in 1690 practiced much of what we think of as Wicca every single day.
I'll give you a moment to catch your breath.

Ready? Here are a few reasons everyone was a witch in Salem.
1. Celebration of pagan holidays: They were wealthy, literate farmers who'd traveled across a sea to wage a war against the native populations of New England. The Pagan Holidays are ancient seasonal holidays celebrated by most farming communities. I doubt anyone would have thought of these holidays as anything more than the natural celebration of the seasons. Midsummer was celebrated even under Puritan rule in England.
2. Herbs were used for health: They grew herbs for their essential health. They dried sage sticks which they used for smudging. Most households had an herb garden for health and good taste.
3. The Puritans were sexual. While sex was most often kept within a marriage and they had sex for fun and pleasure resulting in a lot of children. (John Proctor, one of the men hanged, had eighteen children by three wives.) In fact, one of the theories as to why the community went after the charismatic Reverend George Burroughs was that he loved the women of Salem Village and they loved him back. (Sex and witchcraft always go hand in hand.)
4. The devil was real and out there. While we tend to think of the "Indian Wars" as happening in the Western United States, the First Nations tribes fought tooth and nail against their invaders. Salem Village, where the trials took place, was on the bleeding frontier of the war with the Native Americans. There were frequent raids in town. People lived in horror of their women being raped and killed by bands of native warriors. Natives would kidnapped children and sell them into slavery. The Puritans returned the favor whenever they had a chance.
Thus, the devil was real, palpable, and lived in every dark wood and behind every corner. Whether due to religious fervor or traumatic process, the Puritans believed that the devil was a real creature who was lurking around every corner ready to lure them to his side.

Why was witchcraft the charge?
Like everything, it depends on who you believe. If you read the documents -- written and preserved by the perpetrators -- you'd believe that the fourteen women and five men were actually doing witchcraft. The event itself is considered to be a product of mass hysteria.
Carol Karlsen, in her book The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, provides evidence that the majority of the women hanged as witches were hanged for their land, and sometimes for their money. This makes the Salem Witch Trials a spectacular land grab.
In this way, no one was a witch in Salem. Not a single soul. The story that the slave Tituba was practicing spells in the forest is and always was pure fiction.

What does this mean?
There's no question that the Puritans were extreme in their desire to strip Christianity, and much of life, down to it's bare, "pure" essentials. There's no question that the Salem Witch Trials were one of the most repugnant events in history. 
The fact remains that Puritans followed a Pagan life because a Pagan life is very simply life.