Kukeri

The kukeri celebration is one of the oldest surviving traditions that can be traced back to Dionysian rites, symbolizing life, death, and rebirth. Men initiated rituals when spirits threatened the Sun’s rebirth. The kukeri continued the practices into the spring, before the sowing of the harvest, when the earth was awakening after a long winter. Thracian warriors believed if they dressed in animal skins, they could battle against these spirits and either scare them away or capture their powers. With them, the kukeri performed rituals to renew nature’s strength. Only men, who carried the seed of life in their bodies, had the ability to rouse and nurture the female Mother Earth.

KukeriKukeri and Witch’s Magic

An unmarried ruler named Dobrodor, the maker of good, spurned the love of Zliyana, the daughter of a king of the northern lands. Because a kind, beautiful woman had captured his heart, he returned tokens of love Zliyana had sent to him.

Living up to her name, Zliyana sought to bring evil on Dobrodor and his people. She cast a spell to make all unmarried men die if they tilled the fields. Since it was springtime, some disregarded the warning and ploughed the earth, consequently dying.

To prevent any more deaths, Dobrodor told all the unmarried men to disguise themselves. Some donned women’s clothing, while others wore masks from the skins of animals and tied bells around their waists. The men dressed as women harnessed the ones clothed as animals and drove the ploughs through the fields. The witch’s magic was fooled, seeing not men, but only women and animals in the field.

Did you know…?

Kukeri have scared away more than spirits. Turkish soldiers surrounded a rebel leader his followers. To terrify the soldiers, they put on masks, bells around their waists, and made torches of hemp soaked in tar. At dusk they crept out to where the soldiers camped. The soldiers scattered upon seeing devils carrying long forks and breathing fire.

Dragons in Bulgarian Folklore and Mythology

Poppies_1Bulgarian folklore is filled with tales about dragons (zmei, male and lamia, female) who lived in forest and mountains in caves, holes, or cracks in rocks. Serpents or carp would turn into dragons if they were not seen by humans for forty years. Therefore, dragons often had characteristics of various other creatures: snakes, fish, birds, and even humans. Flashes of lightning, shooting stars, large clouds, and rainbows were ways dragons manifested themselves.
The lamia is what we typically consider a dragon to be: dangerous and malicious. She does not appear as a human like the zmei. Some tales describe her as a “huge lizard with a dog’s head. Her mouth is so big that it can swallow a whole man and her body is covered with yellow scales. The Lamia also has wings, four legs, sharp claws, and a long tail.”  Some had three, seven, or nine heads.
The zmei, however, who often was depicted as a man with wings under his arms. was more kind. He often fought against the lamia when she appeared as a storm or hail to destroy crops. The zmei didn’t abduct a maiden to harm her. Instead, it is because of his great love for her. He often tries to entice her to marry him, telling her of the riches she will have. If persuasion fails, the zmei restorts to abducting the maiden while she performs the horo dance in the village. However, the dragon’s marriage to a human always meets with misfortune. The bride suffers depression and is ostracized from the community.
One tale tells of a girl who married a dragon she met at his well. After a few years, she wanted to visit her family. Unfortunately, she had grown a dragon’s tail. Wanting to appear normal to them, she kept trying to bite it off. When she heard the songs of friends she had once known, she became frantic and died when her heart burst with the effort of removing the tail. The girls buried her by the well. Every year thereafter they performed a buenetz dance, not the traditional circle horo dance. In the buenetz, they dance in a snakelike fashion in honor of the dragon maiden.

Prokopi Pchelar (pro-copy pchee-lar) (Procopius the Beekeeper)

Aristaeus, Ancient Beekeeper
The first Thracian beekeeper was Aristaeus. He was indirectly responsible for the death of Eurydice, wife of Orpheus, the renowned lyre-player. Aristaeus became enamored with Eurydice and chased her. As she fled, she stepped on a snake, which bit her and she died. Thereafter, her companions, the nymphs, caused the bees of Aristaeus to die as his punishment. With the help of his mother, the water-nymph Cyrene, Aristaeus was able to bind the prophet Proteus, who then told him what to do to regain his bees.
“You have to appease their [the nymphs] anger, and thus it must be done: Select four bulls, of perfect form and size, and four cows of equal beauty, build four altars to the nymphs, and sacrifice the animals, leaving their carcasses in the leafy grove. To Orpheus and Eurydice you shall pay such funeral honors as may allay their resentment. Returning after nine days, you will examine the bodies of the cattle slain and see what will befall.”
Upon returning to the location, Aristaeus discovered a swarm of bees in the carcass of one of the slaughtered cattle. This led the ancient people to believe that bees were born from decaying flesh.

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To learn more about this ritual and other Bulgarian and Thracian Rituals get a copy of our book: Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore
https://www.amazon.com/Light-Love-Rituals-Bulg…/…/1507653700

‪#‎mythology‬ ‪#‎BulgarianFolklore‬ ‪#‎samodivi‬ ‪#‎bee‬ ‪#‎Beekeeper‬

Eniovden (Еньовден)

Eniovden (Еньовден) is an old Bulgarian holiday, celebrated annually on June 24. It is believed that its roots lie in the Thracian tradition. There are many legends and beliefs about the mystical power of this day.

A proverb states that an herbal remedy exists for every malady, injury or ailment. In folklore 77 and a half illnesses exist.
Herbs are more powerful when picked and gathered at dawn on Midsummer.

It was believed that water acquired healing power after the sun had bathed in it. People wake up early on this day to see how the sun “turns three times” and whoever manages to “bathe” in the dew will be safe from illnesses until next Midsummer Day.

Bulgarian Mythology and Traditions

Eniovden (Midsummer Day)

Eniovden is one of many wonderful rituals and celebrations surviving today.
As humans we grow, learn and discover ourselves by maintaining family traditions and collecting memories to understand the present and connect to the future.

Image by Nelinda: facebook.com/NelindaArt

Seventy-seven and a half herbs for healing

On June 24th people wake early in the morning to try to catch a glimpse of the flickering sun as it turns three times. Any water that the sun has touched, including dew on grass, acquires healing power. If people see the sun dance, they then bathe in bodies of the healing water or roll in the dew to ensure they will have good health for the coming year.

Also, when the sun rises, people face it, then look over their shoulders at their shadows. If it is well-defined, the person will be healthy. If it is unclear or the head is not distinct, he will be sick.

Bulgarian Mythology and Traditions

Besides the solstice and immortality rites, Eniovden celebrations center around herbs and marriage. First a little about herbs. Saint Enio was called the “Herb Gatherer.” On the eve of Eniovden, people (mainly women) pick herbs because they have magical and healing powers that night. But it is also a night when fairies and dragons celebrate, so they wear red threads on their wrists to ward off the evil ones.
Women collect seventy-seven and a half herbs. These represent seventy-seven known illnesses and half an herb for any unknown ones. Water is poured over the herbs silently so their magic is not ruined by the human voice. Then the herbs are left overnight under the stars to make them even more powerful. Afterwards, people place herbs on the four corners of a field to prevent evil spirits from stealing the fertility of the land and livestock. People sing while performing this task to ensure a bountiful harvest.
An alternative to leaving only herbs in water overnight is a ritual performed by women. They tie together seven, nine, or twelve wildflowers with a red thread. To this bouquet, they attach a ring and let it sit overnight in the water.

Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day)

Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day) the most magical tradition during the Summer! On Midsummer’s Day, people worshiped the sun!

Eniovden (Еньовден Enio’s Day, or Midsummer’s Day), celebrated on June 24, coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Feast of St. John the Baptist, celebrating his birth. Born six months prior to Jesus, John proclaimed a message of repentance as he paved the way for the Savior.
Poppies_1
Origins
In terms of its pagan roots, however, Eniovden is a celebration of the summer solstice. In Bulgarian mythology, the Sun (a male deity), along with his twin, the Moon (a female deity), were created when the sky and earth merged. Both light sources played prominent roles in the beliefs of the Thracians, but on the summer solstice, or Midsummer’s Day, people worshiped the sun.
For the Thracians, seasons were divided into winter and summer. On the solstice, the sun had completed its exhaustive journey to summer and was now at its highest point in the sky and shone the longest. It bathed in water sources while it rested, then shook itself, covering the land with dew. At last refreshed, the sun played or danced three times in the sky before it began its return journey toward the next winter season.
On the solstice, Thracian kings performed immortality rites, symbolizing the marriage between the Sun and the Earth (a female deity). The ceremony included a ritual bath, after which, the king passed through a stone arch (the womb of the Great Goddess) as the sun penetrated it. This rite at the gateway to the afterlife brought about the king’s conception and re-birth.
Source: Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore book

Ronesa’s 2015 Excellence in Writing Awards: Top-Five Picks

Have you read a good indie book lately? No? Why not? Independent and small-publishers have produced books vastly superior to many of the Big Five super-hyped books. The difference why our books are not as widely read vs. the Big Five boils down to marketing and reviews. The Big Five has tons of money and lots of clout. Many places refuse to review indie books, without even giving this vast group of wonderful authors a chance. We have to scrounge for reviews and tout our own horns. I’ve read a lot of books this year, and none have been the “popular” ones. Here’s my list of favorite authors I’ve read this year. I’ve read so many that my selections are based on authors who are exceptional and ones I’ve read more than one of their books. So here goes, in order of when I discovered the writing of these fabulous authors.

 

Jana Pelken

I LOVE all of Jana’s books. I’ll read anything further she writes, without looking at the book blurb. I’m a big historical fiction fan, and after reading “The Errant Flock,” I was hooked on Jana’s writing. She takes you back in time to whatever era she writes about. This particular book is set in 1491, in Valencia, Spain, during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. A quote from my review: “From beginning to end the author’s extensive research about how the people lived permeates the fine details of the story as well as the overall setting of the time.”

The Errant Flock by Jana Petken2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Jana Pelken’s Amazon author page for all her books, including “Guardian of Secrets” and the Mercer Carver series: http://www.amazon.com/Jana-Petken/e/B00I2WAUVC/

Or visit her website: www.janapetkenauthor.com

 

C.N. Lesley

What brought my attention to C.N.’s writing was the word “Avalon.” As well as being a historical fiction fan, I read whatever I can about King Arthur, whether it’s historical or fantasy. C.N. takes gives the Arthur legend a new twist: sci-fi. This Shadow series of books (“Shadow over Avalon” and “Sword of Shadows”) is set far into the future. I’ve only read two of them because, alas, the third book has not yet been published. I’m eagerly waiting for its release. A quote from my review: “ ‘Sword of Shadows’ is more than a sci-fi rendition of the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, however. It has a deeper meaning about how our lives are destroyed by the gods we let rule our lives–whether it is technology or otherwise.”

Shadow over Avalon by CN Leslie2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out C.N. Lesley’s Amazon author page for all her Shadow series books, as well as others, including “Darkspire Reaches”: http://www.amazon.com/C.N-Lesley/e/B00HTV3GV8/

Or visit her website: http://cnlesley.com/

 

Hannah Howe

Love a good detective story? Then you’ll want to dive into Hannah’s Sam Smith series. You’ll love enquiry agent Samantha Smith. She’s perfect in her imperfections. Abused as a child and even more so as a wife, Sam lacks confidence in herself, except when it comes to solving crimes. In that respect, she dives head first, or sometimes “foot-in-mouth” first into her work. You’ll love this spunky, petite woman, bent on improving the world and her own self. The books in the Sam Smith series have deeper meaning than pure entertainment. Be it prostitution, eugenics, drug abuse, insanity, or other social issues, the books delve into the human psyche. (And “The Hermit of Hisarya” takes place in Bulgaria, so I HAD to read that one.)

The Hermit of Hisarya by Hannah Howe2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Hannah Howe’s Amazon author page for all the books in the Sam Smith series: http://www.amazon.com/Hannah-Howe/e/B00OK7E24E/

Or visit her website: http://hannah-howe.com

 

Mansel Jones

It was a tossup which of Mansel’s books to include here. Since I’ve already discussed Arthur above, I opted to write about “Tangwstyl: A Medieval Mystery” instead. Nope, I can’t pronounce “Tangwstyl” either, but that doesn’t distract from reading the book. This is another historical fiction masterpiece. The setting is Kenfig (in Wales) in 1399. It weaves the story around a prophecy about Tangwstyl, the daughter of the future “Arthur.” (Okay, so it does have a slight Arthurian theme.) The story doesn’t have a lot to do with Tangwstyl. Her birth is rather the catalyst that eventually leads to an uprising. The book covers a span of eight days, but they are packed with historical fact and depict the struggle against the Church and unjust kings.

Tangwstyl by Mansel Jones2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Mansel Jones’ Amazon author page for all his other books, including “Pendragon”: http://www.amazon.com/Mansel-Jones/e/B0044RKLZO/

Or visit his website: http://jonesthebook.com/

 

Ellie Midwood

Set in Germany during WWII, “The Girl from Berlin” series is told from the perspective of a fictional woman who becomes Nazi Ernst Kaltenbrunner’s mistress. The problem is that he hates Jews, and she has hidden from the world the fact that she is a Jew. To appreciate this series of books, you have to be able to distance yourself from the Nazi atrocities, and look at the events from a more historical aspect. What is the other side of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the one that a woman who loved him would see? What can you make of his proclamation of innocence of atrocities at the Nuremberg trials? These books attempt to answer those questions.

The Girl from Berlin by Ellie Midwood2015 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Ellie Midwood’s books on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-Standartenf%C3%BChrers-Wife-ebook/dp/B015BNZWNK/

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-Gruppenf%C3%BChrers-Mistress-ebook/dp/B016FTEU14/

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-War-Criminals-Widow-ebook/dp/B018L3WM6C/

 

April Adams

I know. I said my top-five picks, but here’s a bonus look at my favorite series of books I read in 2014. “The Legends of Runes” trilogy is a fantasy. The world needs a savior. Will this role fall to the battered woman who can’t recall who she is, but finds herself in a magical place? From my review of “Shattered,” the first book in the series: “This fantasy has your traditional gathering of elves, gnomes, and such, but it has a religious twist that makes it fall along the lines of C.S. Lewis stories. The world building includes lands where the elements reign supreme: wind, fire, water and earth.”

Shattered by April Adams2014 Excellence in Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out April Adam’s Amazon author page for all her books in “The Legends of Rune” trilogy: http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G/

Or visit her website: www.writerapriladams.com

 

 

Light Love Rituals Receives Readers’ Favorite Award

Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore by Ronesa Aveela is a wonderful book that gives readers a peek into the rich culture, customs, traditions, myths, legends and folklore of Bulgaria. The book speaks about the traditions that are part of the soul’s journey and the topics discussed reflect the relationship of nature to mankind. The rituals described are a collection of ceremonies practiced throughout the country and the author also intersperses these with fun facts and legends, making it an informational and engaging read. The book is educational, fun and entertaining, and it reveals the fascinating history and culture of the Bulgarian people in an enjoyable way.
Readers' Favorite Five Star Award
The recipes shared at the end are mouth-watering and readers will be tempted to try them out. The illustrations are bright and colorful and complement the author’s thoughts and ideas beautifully. The author takes readers through the sections methodically and every ritual has a story which makes it easier for readers to understand. The ‘Did You Know’ bits shared with readers in every chapter throw light on the beliefs and superstitions that exist in this country.

I learned a lot about Bulgaria, its culture, customs, rituals and traditions through the book. It’s obvious that the author has done a lot of research on the topic. The seasonal rituals with the questions at the end of each chapter does help readers connect better with the Bulgarian rituals, practices, and traditions that existed. I loved the book. The author does a great job in telling readers about the culture, customs, and traditions of Bulgaria.

Love Light Rituals

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

Light Love Rituals Review

Our new book “The Christmas Thief” in on Amazon

We are excited to announce the launch of our new book “The Christmas Thief” (A Baba Treasure Chest story)!

It is an illustrated short story about a boy discovering the true meaning of Christmas. Includes activities and coloring pages. This book is dedicated to people everywhere as a reminder of the beauty of Christmas when we count our blessings and help those in need.
Included is a Bulgarian ritual that people from all backgrounds and heritage can enjoy.
Entertaining the entire family will enjoy!

Christmas

Christmas

Also we are so happy to report that our book “The Christmas Thief” (A Baba Treasure Chest story) is live on Amazon as paperback or ebook.

Now we are able to offer the book to a wider audience via the amazing technology of the digital revolution.

Get your copy of the book today on Amazon

 

Mermaids, Silver Butterflies, and Miracles

“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Mankind’s fascination with the sea has sparked imagination since the first person beheld its mighty waters. Curiosity led people to invent the means to travel across the great oceans and eventually explore beneath them, trying to discover their secrets. Throughout the centuries, millennia in fact, people have created myths and legends about creatures living within the sea’s depths. One of the most alluring and formidable beings to inspire writers, artists, children, and adults is the mermaid, who entices men to a watery death. Mermaids have been forever immortalized in stories such as Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” but there is more to them than that story tells.

John William Waterhouse: A Mermaid – 1901

John William Waterhouse: A Mermaid – 1901

These sea nymphs exist in Slavic folklore as well and are called Rusalki. Believed to be the souls of young women who have drowned, they often appear as white or silver butterflies, which in many cultures symbolize the soul.

Although their sisters of the forests, the Samodivi, may be more popular in Bulgaria, it’s the Rusalki who have an entire week dedicated to them: Rusalijska Nedelya, or Mermaid Week, starts on Pentecost.

On Rusalska Sunday, Rusalki leave the deep waters to walk in meadows, spreading dew upon the soil to fertilize the land. People don’t work in fields or vineyards during this week as a way to honor the nymphs for the life-giving waters they bring. Whenever anyone dares to venture out during the week, he tucks wormwood, garlic, and walnut leaves inside his shirt, or attaches them to a belt, to protect himself from the Rusalki, as well as other creatures or spirits that may be wandering about the forests, mountains, or water bodies. Sensitive to strong smells, Rusalki avoid those carrying such herbs and flowers.

Just as important, people refrain from bathing or washing clothes on this day to prevent Rusalki from dragging them into the depths of the water and drowning them.

Burning Bush (dictamnus albus)

Burning Bush (dictamnus albus)

On Wednesday and Friday of Mermaid Week, Rusalki gather in groves where their favorite flower, the Burning Bush (dictamnus albus) grows. Its Bulgarian name is rosen, which means dew. These places are holy and sacred to the Rusalki. They pluck the tips from the flowers to place in their hair. The flower’s fragrance is intoxicating like a drug. Thus adorned, the nymphs worship nature with their magical songs and dance.

While wearing rosen, Rusalki become kindhearted and often heal those who sleep in the meadow. One famous place is the village of Resen, which gets its name from the flower. Sleeping in the meadow is not enough to ensure a cure, however. People perform a special ritual called “walking on the dewy rosen grass.” The sick go to the meadow in the evening, being careful not to let anyone see them. They each find an isolated place amidst the flowers and eat their evening meal. Then, before sunset, each one spreads a white handkerchief next to them. They cover their heads and remain silent, drifting off to sleep.

During the night, the Rusalki arrive, bearing their queen on a chariot of human bones. Those who may still be awake claim they hear laughter and songs. If a person who has lost a limb is among those gathered, the Rusalki may say, “Restore (person’s name) leg.”

At sunrise, the sick check their handkerchiefs. If empty, it means the Rusalki chose not to cure the person. For those the nymphs decide to grant the person a miracle cure, they leave various objects. The person mixes it with water and drinks it slowly. Dirt left on the handkerchief is a sign the person will die from their disease.

Regardless of what the nymphs leave or don’t leave, everyone places pitka (ritual bread) on the handkerchief for the Rusalki when they return. Pitka holds a special place in all Bulgarian rituals and holidays. It is broken, not cut, because it’s believed the bread itself has a soul.

The Rusalki are not the only ones to perform healing during Mermaid Week. At one time, on Sunday, rusalii, men who got their name from Rusalki, went from village to village healing the sick with their ritual dance. In particular they healed those whom the Rusalki had cursed, often those who chose to work during their sacred week. It was taboo for the men to talk, make the sign of the cross, or step in water because they were in a semi-trance, linking them to both the human and spiritual worlds. Armed with a white flag decorated with herbs, a special colorful stick, caps with herbs entwined, bells attached to their ankles, and a pot of vinegar and garlic, they were prepared to cure the Rusalki-induced illness. (You can see a re-enactment of this ritual in Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.)

Image of Rusalii

Image of Rusalii

To learn more Bulgarian traditions, beliefs, and rituals, check out Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Myths, Legends, and Folklore, available on Amazon or http://www.mysticalemona.com.

Samodivi – Witches of Darkness or Thracian Goddesses?

Veelas, Wilis, Yuda, Samovili, Vili. These are a few names of nymphs of Slavic folklore, each group a little different from the Bulgarian Samodivi. Are they real or merely myths that have survived throughout the centuries? Who are these creatures? Where did they come from? And why do people fear them so much they are willing to leave their homes and move to another village or town?

You may be familiar with some of these nymphs already. The beauty and enchantment of Veelas has been portrayed in the Harry Potter series, and Wilis in the ballet “Giselle” dance men to their death.

vilas

 

 

 

But who are the Samodivi? Where did they come from?

Let’s start with their name. Samo (alone) and diva (wild), so “Wild alone” or “Wildalone.” What exactly does that imply? First off, although diva describes them as wild creatures, the word also comes from divine. In fact, it has been said the Samodivi were daughters of the Thracian goddess Bendis. What samo signifies is they shun interaction with people. When humans come across a Samodiva, the nymph may harm them or befriend them, depending on her mood.

K45.2BBendis Being the daughters of Bendis (often associated with Artemis, the Greek goddess who was a protectress of nature), Samodivi have a special connection with nature and have the power to heal using herbs, and so their role is to protect the forests and its inhabitants. They are a symbol of the coming spring, the awakening of nature. Each year on Blagovets, March 25, they return from their secret winter village in Zmeykovo (Dragon Village) to the human world and go back to their own world in late fall.

These nymphs are renowned for their beauty, power, and magical seductive voices. Described as blonde women with long, curly hair, they are enchanting mythological creatures who have been portrayed for centuries in Bulgarian folklore—in fairy tales, poems, and legends passed from one generation to another. Numerous legends about them are still alive, and people in Bulgaria claim to still see them in forests and near water bodies.

Most often their eyes are bright and light blue (although sometimes green). People with blue eyes have long been attributed with being able to connect to the spiritual world and cast the “evil eye” to harm others. Samodivi wear white robes made out of moon beams along with a green, golden, or rainbow-colored belt. A wreath of wild flowers adorns their heads and it, along with their clothing, is a source of healing and magical power. The Samodivi carefully guard their clothing so men cannot steal them. Sometimes they are careless when they bathe, and a man captures her source of power, forcing the Samodiva to live with the man and have his children, until she finds the stolen garment and escapes.

On occasion, Samodivi choose to associate with humans. They befriend women who have been kind to them and teach these women how to use nature to heal. A Samodiva may also willingly marry a man and have his children. Those offspring become legendary heroes.

Then why are people afraid of Samodivi?

One reason is because Samodivi love to perform the horo circle dance under the moon in forest glades. Better yet they prefer it if the dancing is accompanied by the music of the kaval, or shepherd’s pipe. In many tales, they seduce and kidnap a shepherd to play for them.

In some ways, Samodivi are similar to the “Dames Blanches” (White Ladies), Fées from French mythology and folklore who also live near caves and caverns. La Dame d’Apringy from Normandy is one well-known Dame who forced humans to dance with her before she allowed them to pass through a ravine she lurked by. Anyone refusing to participate was thrown into the thistles, while those who danced were unharmed.image11

In a similar fashion, Samodivi entice people who disturb their dance to join in with them until dawn breaks. Humans are unable to keep up with the wild, fast pace of the Samodivi, and die from exhaustion. Or according to some tales, the Samodivi take the fallen person’s eyes and heart. People in remote villages still believe that trespassing on a Samodiva’s special places will cause them harm, even blindness.

Samodivi cause havoc in other ways as well. In remote villages, people pay respect to them and are afraid of these creatures who can seduce men with their beautiful songs. In Bulgaria, small villages have been deserted, locals afraid of the powers of the nymphs. Stories circulate about a man who was found dead in the woods, murdered and left naked. The common belief is that this was done by Samodivi. People see flashes of white among the trees and claim they are the Samodivi.

In another story, the mysterious disappearance of men has often been attributed to them being captured by Samodivi. A story tells of a village where five men disappeared. Two were eventually found, but they had no recollection of what happened.

Samodivi and their world are portrayed in Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey as close as possible to the way legends describe them. The excerpt below will help you envision them as they dance beneath a full moon.

A soft, slow music drifted toward him as he neared the cheshma. Several women held hands and danced in a circle around the ancient walnut tree, a blue light glowing at its base. Wreaths of flowers crowned their unbound hair, their locks gliding over their shoulders. Their long white robes fluttered like lustrous moths under the shimmering moon.

 At the edge of the glade, a shadowy image, playing a long flute-like instrument, cast out eerie notes. They hung over the darkness like a delicate silk net, enfolding the women within its threads. The longer Stefan listened, the more the sound hypnotized him.

The tempo of the music quickened, and the women kept pace with it. Their feet danced through the dewy grass, while their bodies, bathed in silver and gold rays of moonlight, twirled closer together, narrowing the circle around the tree. Their dance became wild and erratic, their voices louder, filling the night with a chilling sound.

A final shrill note reverberated through the air. The women released hands, raised them to the sky, and began whirling in a frenzied torrent. The belts around their robes loosened and slid to the ground. As the note faded, the women lowered their hands. Their robes, too, slipped off and drifted away, leaving nothing on their gleaming bodies but the magical light of the moon. Stefan’s sharp intake of breath caught in his throat at their loveliness. Unable to tear his eyes from them, he envisioned the scene captured on canvas.

 Then, the flutist played a soft melody. The women lifted their faces to the moon and sang strange words. Stefan listened in awe to the splendor of their voices, as their bodies, like exotic flowers gliding back and forth in the breeze, swayed to the rhythm of the trees. Their words encircled him, as if the women themselves surrounded him. He glanced around, but the night revealed nobody except the dancing women before him.

The existence of Samodivi (Wildalone) has not been proven and may never be. Sightings of them may simply represent fear and respect of the unknown and of nature. When we don’t understand something, we call it magic, witchcraft, or evil, but in reality, it’s an issue we don’t want to face.

 

The Heartbeat Thief

The Heartbeat Thief Blitz Banner

 

 

 

 

 

We have the honor of hosting AJ Krafton as she begins a tour of her new release The Heartbeat Thief, a fantastic book that begins in the late 1800’s. Here’s a little insight from AJ about tea time.

Time for Tea: Victorian Tradition and its Place in THE HEARTBEAT THIEF

Victorian tea time wasn’t always a thing.

Tea has been around for thousands of years. In many cultures, it was customary to share tea with company. Tea was ceremonial, a sacred part of social law.

In England, mealtimes evolved to include two main meals: breakfast and dinner. Dinner became an evening phenomenon, which was held after the work day. In the case of the upper classes, dinner was an event that lasted hours into the night. Afternoon meals tended to light and on-the-go and had no real structure.

What we’ve come to know as “tea time” began with Duchess Anne of Bedford. Anne experienced a “sinking feeling” around three or four o’clock and would ask her maids to sneak her tea and pastries, since supper wouldn’t come until much later in the evening. At first, she had tea alone but eventually the practice was expanded to include her close friends.

Thus, a tradition was born and tea time became a thing.

Less food, more talking

Victorian tea time carried on the tradition of offering tea to guests. Tea was served in wide-mouthed shallow cups (nothing like our 16 ounce paper cups from the coffee shop). That way, tea could be sipped without waiting all afternoon for it to cool (or blowing on it, which could lead to sloppy accidents). Tea time became synonymous with company and socializing and was, in itself, a social event.

And Victorian events were elegant, spectacular things.

It was customary to have tea in the parlor or garden. It provided a chance to show off the hostess’s best china and linens, as well her abilities to command the skills of her kitchen staff.

Tea served not only to quiet the rumblings of a belly, it was food for the social soul. Dishes were customarily light and easy to eat without worry of a catastrophic mess. Eating was a dainty dance in itself.

Tea sandwiches, cakes, scones, biscuits, candies and nuts were usual fare for low tea (named for the low tables around which guests gathered—think “coffee tables” in the living room). I found a website with loads of recipes here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/HighTeaRecipes.htm I refer to it often when I’m looking to create a special little something.

Trays of snacks were laid out so guests could serve themselves. Affluent hostesses could afford an elaborate tea service such as http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/f9/4a/f8/f94af81ddcca5b29c0fc64c386e2d8bd.jpg

(By comparison, my tea service looks like this: http://www.adagio.com/teaware/triniTEA.html Not quite as shiny J but it makes a perfect pot, every time.)

The overall goal of these tea parties was to ensure that guests enjoyed themselves so thoroughly that they completely lose track of time, ensuring the hostess’s graceful place in the hearts and esteem of all invited.

 

Senza and her Tea

In The Heartbeat Thief our heroine, Senza Fyne, took much comfort in the ritual of tea time. Despite her longer-than-usual life, she never lost her affinity for a well-set tea. It connected her to precious memories of family and friends and times long gone by. Here’s a brief excerpt from The Heartbeat Thief, in which Senza prepares tea for company for the first time in a very, very long time.

 

The Heartbeat Thief

The tea kettle hissed, the steam building up to a whistle. She plucked it off the heat before it could reach full shriek. She didn’t like noise. She’d become far too accustomed to quiet and stillness. It had been ages since she made tea, a proper tea with a full service and decorative sugars. She’d missed the routine.

Grandmother had always taken three lumps of sugar in hers. She’d preferred a Darjeeling, earthy and fragrant, over the milder Assams and startling Keemuns that Father would bring home. Darjeeling, she’d insisted, was an expression of liquid divinity. If you could taste the earth, you could touch the stars. Be one with everything.

Senza blinked, stirring herself from the hazy memory. Grandmother had always told her to live in the moment. Senza seemed only to live in the past.

Wrong moments in which to live.

She rubbed her temple with the bend of her wrist and spooned tea leaves into the pot. Funny that he’d procure a tea service for her in this rustic shanty, a proper set with a silver empress tea strainer and matching sugar and creamer pots. Odd that he’d provide a service for two people, especially since she’d always been completely alone.

Senza arranged the service on a broad silver tray and arranged a spread of biscuits onto a saucer, next to a plate of cucumber and spread cheese sandwiches. A small bowl of candied fruits completed the tea. All had been conveniently located in the small pantry, as if she’d shopped the list on her own.

Stepping back, she surveyed her work. Grandmother would approve. A good host always saw to the tea herself, taking every pain to ensure her guests lost track of the time of day.

Hefting the tray, she carried it into the front room, still startled by its shocking transformation. A small but cozy fire blazed in the simple brick fireplace, near to which an unfamiliar tea table stood. Hand-embroidered flowers trimmed the edge of the linen, matching the elegant bunch of flowers that topped a grey ceramic vase.

 

Senza enjoyed a small tea in that scene, but I love this post here http://www.thethriftygroove.com/2010/05/victorian-tea-party.html because it shows a full elaborate spread that Senza would really have enjoyed. Now, THAT’S what I call a happy tea time.

Perhaps the next time you’re experiencing a “sinking feeling” you’ll treat yourself to a cup of Darjeeling and a cinnamon scone and have a happy moment to yourself (or, better yet, with a friend). There’s no reason to let go of the past when it’s full of sweet traditions like tea time. No wonder Senza Fyne never surrendered her fondness for the practice, even as the years took everything else away from her, bit by precious bit.

For more images of tea time and the book THE HEARTBEAT THIEF by AJ Krafton, visit https://www.pinterest.com/demimondeash/the-heartbeat-thief-by-aj-krafton/

 

Heartbeat Thief

 

 

The Heartbeat Thief by A.J. Krafton
Publication date: June 12th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth—she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.

In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn’t be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. But it’s not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It’s death—and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step.

So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible—he’d be her perfect match if only he wasn’t so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it…

When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death—but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.

It’s a little bit Jane Austen, a little bit Edgar Allen Poe, and a whole lot of stealing heartbeats in order to stay young and beautiful forever. From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time…

How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?

Purchase:
(the first two days of release will be selling at 99cents)
 _________

Writing about a beautiful lady deserves beautiful words, and that’s exactly what AJ Krafton has accomplished with The Heartbeat Thief. Senza Fyne will rob you of more than your heartbeat; she’ll steal your heart.

Ronesa Aveela Review:

I received an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

True to its word, “The Heartbeat Thief” is part Jane Austen, part Edgar Allen Poe. The author revives the best of the style of writing found in the classics: the introspect of characters, lovely allusions comparing characters to nature and life, beautiful alliteration and prose. Mixed with this is a deep foreboding of death, a macabre sensation that follows Senza throughout the story. AJ Krafton not only tells you a story, she makes you experience it with your senses. You can feel the fog moistening your skin as Senza wanders around London. You can smell the city’s decay. You can hear the clatter of horses against the cobblestones. And your own heart will anguish along with Senza as she despairs about life–and death–in an era when a woman’s beauty guaranteed her a well-matched marriage, even more than her wealth.

This story put me in a dilemma. I wanted to read it slowly to savor the sensation of the words on my mind–each and every of the author’s carefully selected prose, filled with so much imagery and symbolism. But I also wanted to hurry and finish it to discover every new adventure Senza experienced. Would the “heartbeat thief” be discovered?

If you want a toss-away book that just tells you a story, go to a grocery store checkout line. If you want a story that makes you think, one in which you can appreciate the words as much as the story, one that leaves you pondering life–and death–this is the book for you. You won’t be disappointed.

tqJKOwsn

AUTHOR BIO:
AJ Krafton is the author of New Adult speculative fiction. Her debut The Heartbeat Thief  is due out on Kindle in June 2015. Forthcoming titles include Taking’ It Back  & Face of the Enemy. She’s a proud member of the Infinite Ink Authors. AJ also writes adult spec fic as Ash Krafton. Visit Ash at  http://ashkrafton.com

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Reveal the cover of our forthcoming non-fiction book “Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Rituals and Customs”

We are happy to reveal the cover of our forthcoming non-fiction book “Light Love Rituals: Bulgarian Rituals and Customs”.

Bulgarian culture is rich in folklore and traditions surviving since the days of the ancient Thracians. As pagan and Christian religions collided, the celebrations merged into one. “Light Love Rituals” will take you on a journey to discover these unique festivals.

  • A woman in white long rob holding an icon dancing in trance on burning amber coals under the mystical music of shepherd pipe Illuminated of the light of the full moon.
  • Colorful circle of people dancing and going under a wreath made of healing herbs.
  • Girls with wild spring flowers in their hair going from house to house caroling and singing for health and prosperity and holding their baskets full with fresh Easter eggs.
  • Man in wild animal mask and “cow bells” around their wrist jumping and yelling to scare the evil spirit way.love_rituals_add

Transmitted from generation to generation culture and traditions are part of our cultural heritage. They promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity and to empower us to connect to the future.

With “Love, Light and Rituals” we want to introduce you to these ancient customs, rituals, and traditions that have survived through the centuries.

“Light Love Rituals,” not only describes the rituals, but also makes them interesting and understandable to people of all ages. The book is divided into four seasons, beginning with winter. It includes activities where you can learn how to make martenitsi, survachka, and Easter eggs dyed with natural colors. A short quiz after each season lets you test your knowledge of what you’ve read. To help you engage in the traditions in the book, you’ll meet Maria and her family. They’ll open the doors of their home so you can participate in these celebrations along with them. For an added taste of Bulgaria, try some of the traditional recipes at the end.

On Amazon JUNE 1st.

It is all about Ancient Thracian culture this month in Paris

Ancient Thracian culture reveals splendor at Louvre (France).

Here is one interesting article from Hurriyetdailynews.com:

Exquisitely crafted gold, silver and bronze objects are on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, giving visitors a rare glimpse of the ancient Thracian culture that produced them.
LIFESTYLE-BULGARIA-FRANCE-CULTURE-ARCHAEOLOGYMany stories still remain untold about this refined civilization whose citizens included Orpheus, the mythical son of a Thracian king, and the legendary gladiator Spartacus, who led an uprising against Rome.

“Ancient Thrace is most famous for its unique goldsmithing works,” Bulgarian exhibition commissioner Milena Tonkova told AFP ahead of the opening last week.

One of the exhibition highlights is the Panagyurishte ritual beverage set, the most prized possession of these ancient people who lived from the 2nd millennium B.C. to the 3rd century A.D in the Balkan Peninsula.

To read the entire article visit: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-thracian-culture-reveals-splendor-at-louvre.aspx?pageID=238&nid=81471

Photo Credit: www.hurriyetdailynews.com

The Louvre Displays Ancient Treasures of the Thracian Empire- Who are the Thracians?

“The Saga of the Thracian Kings,” an exhibition now on view at the Louvre in Paris.

Who are the Thracians and where is the Thracian Empire?

We knew little about the Thracians when we started to work on “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.” When people mention Thrace, the only heroes who readily come to mind are Hercules, Orpheus, and Spartacus – if even those. But Thrace has a vast history beyond its mythology or the conflict with Rome. We enthusiastically rolled up our sleeves and researched their culture, religion, and customs.thrace1Our efforts were reward with a delightful review: “I love that there is a little bit of historical elements in this book, namely the stuff set in ancient Thrace. A history buff myself, it isn’t often I get the chance to read things about Thrace that don’t involve Spartacus. Major props to the writer for creating this wonderful tale.”

Quite often now when we mention the book, people ask, “Where is Thrace?” or “Who were the Thracians? Is that a country?”

So, let’s start with the easy question: “Where is Thrace?” The Thracians lived in southeastern Europe along the Black Sea, in the region that is now modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

 

 

 

“Who were the Thracians” poses a more difficult question. What we can tell you is that they have been around for a long time. Since the people themselves did not have a written language, everything that is known about them comes from other sources. The first historical reference to them was in Homer’s “Iliad,” where it was mentioned that they were allies to the Trojans. But evidence of them as a distinct people exists as far back as 1500 BC.

They were a warlike tribal nation, living in mountains and valleys. But they were also great artisans, finely crafting delicate golden objects and painting beautiful murals.

 1024px-Sofia_-_Panagyurishte_Thracian_Gold_Treasure

A polytheistic people, they worshiped the Sun and Moon, both. Bendis, called the Great Goddess, was one of their primary dieties. Better known, however, is Dionysus, the god of wine, whom the Greeks incorporated into their religion. It is through the story of Orpheus (you remember him; he went to Hades to retrieve his wife Eurydice) that the tale of this drunken god is probably best known. The story did not end well for Orpheus. The Maenads, followers of Dionysus, tore his apart. Yup, gruesome.

 Even today, Bulgaria is known for its wine. Many myths and legends mention Thracian wine. Homer says the most popular wine, one with the best aroma and body, came from the Thracian city of Maroneia. Odysseus also used Thracian wine to put the Cyclops Polyphemus to sleep before he struck the beast in the eye with his spear.

When Christianity crept into the region, the Dionysian cult faded away. But even today the feast of Saint Trifon is celebrated, and the festivities trace back to the cult of Dionysus (for example, pouring wine and electing a king). But, that could be the topic of another entire blog.

April 2015 to July 2015: Bulgaria To Exhibit Thracian Treasures In Paris’ Louvre – The exhibition “Antique Thrace – The Odrysian Kingdom” will feature the Panagyurishte golden treasure and 325 exhibits – mostly golden and silver items from various treasures. – The items in the exhibition were evaluated by insurers at EUR 165 M

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-thracian-culture-reveals-splendor-at-louvre.aspx?pageID=238&nid=81471

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila

Spotlight Blog Tour – April Adams

Please welcome the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author for March 2015, April Adams. April is the Author of “Shattered”.

Emotion, the Seventh Sense

Good profile picTaste, touch, sight, sound, smell, intuition, and emotion. Every single scene should have a good mixture of these things. Smell is often overlooked in writing, but emotion is sometimes nonexistent! On the other hand, too much emotion ruins a scene.

 

In my first draft of Shattered, there was a scene where Glenn was furious. I had originally written this scene as follows:

 

“No!” Glenn shouted, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward a little bit, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. “No I tell you!” His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” he stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care. Not for every life in this realm.” Glenn growled.

“Wait, what?” I asked, realizing what he had said. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s furious hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do.” He answered.

“No!” Glenn roared again, turning from him to me, his look changing from venom to kindness. “I will not let you go with him.” He whispered forcefully, taking both my hands in his and falling to his knees in front of me. His blue eyes held no hint of tears, only determination. I searched his face and found nothing but what he wanted me to see. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care.

“Glenn Elambil.” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips. “For disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising into my throat.

Glenn squeezed my hands and winked at me. “Yes.” He said, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him.” He explained to me, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, brother,” he turned and directed this last to Gable, “that I’ll be coming with you.”

 

But that’s a little too much emotion. So, I tweaked it to this:

adams

“No,” Glenn said in a voice like steel, tossing the scroll into the fire. I lunged forward slightly, my hand outstretched to snatch it back, but it was aflame in seconds. His long fingers grabbed the fabric around Gable’s neck and pulled hard, bringing them nose to nose. I was shocked by this sudden escalation and pressed myself into the back of my chair.

Gable laughed like fingernails on a chalkboard. “Oh? You would bring about the destruction of the entire world?” He stared back at his brother, completely nonchalant.

“I will not surrender her to your care,” Glenn said, matter-of-fact.

“Wait, what?” I asked. “What did that paper say?”

Gable reached up, pried Glenn’s hands from his clothing, smoothed his shirt and turned to me. “It said that under the authority of Ambius the Wise you are hereby ordered to accompany me to him at once, there to discover what you must do,” he answered.

“No,” Glenn said again, turning from him to me, his look changing from cold steel to kindness. His eyes were honest. He thought Gable a danger to me, and he would not leave me to his care. I felt a cold chill tingle down my spine. Gable didn’t strike me as a good man, but I hadn’t thought him dangerous.

“Glenn Elambil,” Gable said, rising to his feet with a drunken wobble and sucking in wetly through his lips, “for disobedience to the Watcher of the Eastern Lands I hereby place you under arrest.”

“No!” I said to him, defiance rising in my throat, standing in objection.

Glenn winked at me. “Yes.” He stood with rounded shoulders, affecting defeated tones. “I have burned the words of the Watcher, and must be brought before him,” he explained, resigned. Then he smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Which means, I believe, that you’ll have to take me with you.”

 

You can see the difference for yourself. Don’t be afraid to write emotion, hust don’t make it too “drama club” like I did in that first draft. Yeesh. First drafts are the worst!

 

 

Find me online!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/April-Adams/e/B00CHRCD8G

Twitter: @apriladamsnovel
Facebook:   www.fb.com/apriladamsnovel
Website: www.writerapriladams.com
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/apriladamsnovel

Bulgarka Magazine

Visit “Bulgraka”, a virtual place where Bulgarians around the world connect, laugh, engage, collaborate and buy unique goods. Their mission is to re-imagine The Bulgarian reality in a ways that build more fulfilling and lasting community.
http://www.bulgarkamagazine.com/
bulgarka11

 

 

 

 

 

 
In Bulgarian:
Българка е списанието на българите по ​​света. Тук се свързваме, смеем и сътрудничим.
Наша мисия е да си представяме, напомняме и възстановяваме българската реалност по начин, който изгражда едно по-пълноценно и здраво общество.

Light Love Rituals

LIGHT:
One of the main characters in rituals and folklore is the sun. The symbol of life, the sun wakes nature in the spring to begin a new cycle.

LOVE:
Love is an important aspect of human life. It’s the feeling that makes us different from animals. Love enchants us and makes us good.

RITUALS:
Everyone incorporates some sort of rituals into their life and lifestyle. Rituals are an occasion for families to gather around the table and share a good meal, their memories, love, and traditions from generation to generation. Rituals connect the past with the present and help us embrace and understand our future.

rituals

There is no finer tradition than the making of Bulgarian cuisine, which is as rich as the soul of the Bulgarian people. Bulgarian meals, like the colors woven into the nation’s rugs, represent the hospitality and rich spirituality of its people. From the mystical Rhodope Mountains, the birth place of Orpheus, to the Thracian Valley, known for its roses, whether the dishes are light or hearty, they will always be savory.
“Light Love Rituals” describes many Bulgarian rituals that have survived through the centuries. The ones included within its pages follow the cycle of nature and of human lives. It is not meant to be a scholarly nor an exhaustive work. It is meant to provide readers with a glimpse into Bulgarian culture.

To enjoy an even greater taste of Bulgaria, try some of the recipes in the section called “Maria’s Kitchen,” where you can prepare popular Bulgarian dishes. Some of the recipes have a modern twist to make them easy and interesting to make.

Take the journey and experience the Magic of Bulgaria. On Amazon in February 2015.

 

Enchanting Samodivi (Wildalone)

In “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey,” you will discover samodivi (singular, samodiva), wild, wildalones beautiful nymphs, who have enchanted Bulgarians for centuries. They can be found in the woodlands and by water sources from spring until autumn. After that, they return to the palace of the Sun for the winter.

Numerous legends about them are still alive. In remote villages, people pay respect to them and are afraid of these creatures who can seduce men with their beautiful songs. One of the people I met in an online writers’ group (scribophile.com) lives in a secluded village in Bulgaria. I asked him what the people there believed about the samodivi. Here is his response.

“The common belief in this village is that since we started having electric all the time, the samodivi went away. Apparently they were real and people would see them all the time, but it all stopped after they were freed from Turkish rule. In our village during that time the water was taken from wells or from a spring in the woods, so if you didn’t have a well you’d have to go to the woods. It was quite often that they saw shapes in the trees and believed them to be samodivi. Now a lot of the younger adults, the mothers and the father instead of the grandparents, believe that it is all legends, too many drunk nights. The people here still believe in creatures that come down with the lightning and stay as energy and run around even after the storm has passed. My next door neighbour claimed to have seen one running up his house last summer. But as for samodivi, they believe that they all vanished. It’s funny because I have been told that it was normal practice to run through the forest naked in hope that you’d find a samodiva. But after a few drinks, you might bump into someone else running naked and think you found one.”

In “Mystical Emona,” we don’t have people running naked through the forest, but the following passage from the book is our interpretation of what you might see if you happen to run across samodivi in the forest.

A soft, slow music drifted toward him as he neared the cheshma. Several women held hands and danced in a circle around the ancient walnut tree, a blue light glowing at its base. Wreaths of flowers crowned their unbound hair, their locks gliding over their shoulders. Their long white robes fluttered like lustrous moths under the shimmering moon.
(photo:nelinda.com “Samodivi”)

At the edge of the glade, a shadowy image, playing a long flute-like instrument, cast out eerie notes. They hung over the darkness like a delicate silk net, enfolding the women within its threads. The longer Stefan listened, the more the sound hypnotized him.

The tempo of the music quickened, and the women kept pace with it. Their feet danced through the dewy grass, while their bodies, bathed in silver and gold rays of moonlight, twirled closer together, narrowing the circle around the tree. Their dance became wild and erratic, their voices louder, filling the night with a chilling sound.

A final shrill note reverberated through the air. The women released hands, raised them to the sky, and began whirling in a frenzied torrent. The belts around their robes loosened and slid to the ground. As the note faded, the women lowered their hands. Their robes, too, slipped off and drifted away, leaving nothing on their gleaming bodies but the magical light of the moon. Stefan’s sharp intake of breath caught in his throat at their loveliness. Unable to tear his eyes from them, he envisioned the scene captured on canvas.

Then, the flutist played a soft melody. The women lifted their faces to the moon and sang strange words. Stefan listened in awe to the splendor of their voices, as their bodies, like exotic flowers gliding back and forth in the breeze, swayed to the rhythm of the trees. Their words encircled him, as if the women themselves surrounded him. He glanced around, but the night revealed nobody except the dancing women before him.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.

Silver Butterflies 

Behold the silent beauties ruffling winds,
spelling purity of a love so bold,
goddesses of water, woods and land,
swish their dresses upon your pool.

Vedra’s hands could raise the seas,
bring upon you draught or prosperity,
oh heaven behold, she was blessed,
with silky dresses and a voice so sleek.

Sweet Carina is ladened with lands,
to hold the minds of all mankind,
her thoughts dance upon the sands,
meaning to show a man his heart.

Dear Morena burdened the most,
to see the loss of those she loves,
always hunted by the future,
she’s to ever be your seer and guard.

Nymphs so pure, embrace the world,
call with golden songs to the skies,
listen as they guide you home,
listen as they hold your hand.

—Noor Lek

Travel to the world of the Balkans with Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey and discover the secret lives of Samodivi (Veelas, Samovili) or Wildalones. You’ve met these wondrous, mythological creatures or as some people called them “forest witches”  in different books. Now let Mystical Emona introduce you to Samodivi or “wildalones”  as legend portrays them. Discover the Magic of Bulgaria and the mystical spell of Emona.

Book available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Emona-Souls-Journey-Volume/dp/1500616974

Website: http://mysticalemona.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysticalEmona

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBQ7FJtb9vY

Pinterest—Rebecca: http://www.pinterest.com/tacrafts/

Pinterest—Anelia: http://www.pinterest.com/aneliasamovila/

Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E and @AneliaSamovila