Moons, Blood Moons, and Werewolves - is there a connection?

The Blood Moon is simply the coppery-red color
of a total lunar eclipse. But it's a favorite trope in
horror and paranormal fiction.
Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.
~ Curt Siodmak

That poem was written for the 1941 film, The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney, Jr. And it's been used several times since, including in the 2010 incarnation of this movie, starring Anthony Hopkins and Benicio De Toro.

Everyone "knows" the basic werewolf story: A hapless human is cursed to turn into a ravening beast during the full moon. But did you know that the idea of the lunar influence came mostly from Hollywood? Filmmakers wrote the moon into their early werewolf movies – and you have to admit, it's a great idea – but most of the old folktales and legends don't contain it. And historically, the moon isn't mentioned in accounts of actual werewolf trials of centuries past.

Traditionally, if you were a werewolf, you could change form whenever you wanted to. In Sweden, men became werewolves by drinking magic beer and chanting a spell. The oldest legends have humans putting on a whole wolfskin to cause themselves to change form. This is similar to the skinwalker legends of Native Americans, where a pelt was placed against the skin. In some stories, only a belt made of wolf fur was needed. The moon never plays a role!

In the Balkans, all you had to do to become a werewolf was drink the water from a wolf’s footprint. Or drink from a body of water where a wolf pack had just satisfied their thirst. Some rivers and streams were said to be lycanthropic – enchanted so that a single sip of their water would turn you into a wolf. If you could't find any magical water, you could simply eat the brains of a wolf (eeyeeew!) in order to gain the ability to shapeshift. But again, no moonlight was necessary.

The moon did prove useful in one European story. In Germany, Italy and France, it was said that both men and women could become shapeshifters by sleeping outside and allowing the full moon to shine on their faces for the entire night (especially on a Wednesday or a Friday). The story didn't mention if the spell was permanent or perhaps only lasted until the next full moon.

The moon didn’t matter a bit, however, if you were one of the unlucky folks to be made a werewolf by someone else. Often, the person doing the hexing was not a witch but a priest! From Russia to France, if you didn’t go to church or offended God in some other way, you could be officially cursed to become a werewolf.

In 14th century Normandy, the varouage was an excommunicated person who became a werewolf between Christmas and Candlemas or during Advent. During this time, the sinner was either redeemed – or doomed to belong to the devil and run as a werewolf forever. In Finland, if you were lucky enough to break the spell, you were still stuck with a wolf’s tail for the rest of your life! But at least you didn’t have to fear the moon.

Handy field guide
by Bob Curran
I collect werewolf folktales and legends, and I have many books and stories on the subject. One of my recent favorites has been Werewolves: A Field Guide to Shapeshifters, Lycanthropes, and Man-Beasts by Bob Curran. It's an easy place to start if you want to investigate the connection between the moon and the old wolf-man myths. And Curran has some excellent theories on why the moon became associated with werewolfism.

As a paranormal romance author, I have a passion for wolfen shapeshifters, and my first series revolves around a family of them, the Macleods. Driven from Scotland when wolves were being exterminated there, they found sanctuary in the wilds of northern Canada. They call themselves Changelings, and they’re extremely long-lived. Able to become wolves at will, regardless of what the moon might be doing at the time, they spend most of their time as humans in a human world, hiding in plain sight.

2013 Release
2012 RITA Award
Finalist
However, having been raised on a diet of horror movies as a kid, I just had to give a nod to pop culture tradition. And so there is ONE occasion in a Changeling’s long, long life that the moon has power over them: their very first Change always occurs on a full moon! 

And because a human can become a Changeling if they’re bitten by one (another nod to the classic horror genre), the moon becomes a serious complication in the first book of the series:  CHANGELING MOONThe advent of the full moon also becomes a ticking clock in my most recent werewolf story as well:  FIRST BITE.

Love werewolves? Love the moon? Or just love a good legend? Enter my Rafflecopter contest below and you could win Kindle ebook copies of all 3 books  - my own Changeling Moon and First Bite, plus Bob Curran's Werewolves: A Field Guide to Shapeshifters, Lycanthropes, and Man-Beasts.  Giveaway is open to US, CANADA and the UK.  (Note -  If you do not own a Kindle, there are a variety of free Kindle reading apps that can be downloaded to various devices such as iPad, computer or smart phone.) 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

ALPHA MALE MADNESS GIVEAWAY HOP - Dani Harper

Alpha Males. You know you love em. This hop is celebrating them in all their delicious alpha male glory for an entire week with giveaways at every single blog -- including this one! 

Check out the Rafflecopter for the overall Grand Prize below. Also, see the Linky List at the bottom of the post for all participating authors and bloggers. A huge thanks to Herding Cats & Burning Soup for hosting this event!




A Few of My Favorite Alpha Males...

I may be a writer, but I'm a reader first and always. Here's a hot handful of Alphas who have made my heart beat faster!

Bones - Master Vampire and better half to Cat Crawlfield from the Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost. "Kitten," he moaned as he threw me down onto the bed. "I only thought I was living before I met you. You'll love me until you die? That's not nearly long enough..."


Jericho Barrons - The dark and enigmatic male lead of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. “You choose what you can live with, and what you can't live without.”


Blade - Master of the dreaded Whitechapel Rookeries in the Steampunk Paranormal, Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster. “Easy, luv. Don't stir the devil, or you'll 'ave to pay the consequences." ~ Blade   

Vishous - Member of JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, his story unfolds in Lover Unbound. “I love you. And I'm going to keep loving you even after you don't know I exist.” ~Vishous  

Of course, what writer doesn't fall a little bit in love with the Alpha Males of her own stories?  My new Grim Series brings ancient Welsh mythology  including hot heroes and even hotter faeries  into modern-day America. And I've totally enjoyed getting to know the men of this new world!

Rhys – hero of STORM WARRIOR

He snared Morgan's hand and held it against his chest. “You hear nothing else? My heart reaches for yours as do my arms. You hear not how I feel? What I would gladly do for you, give to you?” His gaze was fierce. “My desires are to you, my every thought flies to you. I see in your eyes that you feel the same. And yet you are determined to hold yourself apart from me.”

Aidan app Llanfor - hero of STORM BOUND

He was on his feet almost faster than she could track the movement, and held her tightly to him. “Nay, it isn’t so. I am poor company this morning, Brooke, but not because of you. Never because of you.” Aidan nuzzled the top of her head and kissed his way down her face to her lips, where he lingered. When he drew back, his big hands continued to rest on her shoulders. “It is as it was last night. I held you and then it wasn’t enough. Last night I had to have more. I did not plan what happened, but it would not be denied. If I continue to hold you now, I will want you all over again. I already do.”

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Dani's Giveawaya Rafflecopter giveaway

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Grand Prize Giveaway
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Linky List - If for any reason you can't read it, go to this link: http://theherdhops.blogspot.com/2014/02/Alpha-Male-Madness-Hop.html


SPRING RABBITS --- and the SPRING FLING BLOG HOP

SPRING AND RABBITS -- they've gone together like peanut butter and jelly for many centuries.

For example, rabbits were once associated with Eostra, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility --- and it's pretty easy to figure out why!

But did you know that rabbits have long been considered LUCKY?

In some parts of the UK, the first day of any month is nicknamed “Rabbit Day”. According to folklore, saying the words “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit”, “white rabbits”, or even “bunny, bunny” upon waking up on the first day of the month brings good luck. Forget to do it? Say “tibbar, tibbar” (yup, that’s “rabbit” backwards!) before falling asleep that evening.


There are endless variations on this, including saying “black rabbits” just before bed as part of the charm. A two-part ritual calls for you to say “rabbits, rabbits” as you fall asleep on the last day of the month, and “hares, hares” when you rise.

Rather than doing it monthly, some people believe that saying “rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of the New Year is sufficient to bring luck all year long. If you say it on the first night of the new moon OR during your birth month, then the luck is supposed to be stronger. Some people recite an old British nursery rhyme, which goes like this:


Rabbits hot and rabbits cold,
Rabbits new and rabbits old,
Rabbits tender, rabbits tough,
Never can we have enough!

Here in North America there are many variations of the “rabbit rabbit” ritual, particularly on the East coast in states such as Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In recent years, the practice has been updated to include tweeting “rabbit rabbit” on the first day of every month! 

So why are rabbits thought to be lucky? One explanation has to do with their ability to jump, and it’s the reason some folks carry a rabbit’s foot – it represents leaping into the future and moving forward in life. Others carry a rabbit’s foot to ward off arthritis and rheumatism. 

In Wales it’s been said that brushing the face of a newborn child with a rabbit’s foot will keep away evil spirits and bring the child good luck for the rest of his life. Rabbits have often been associated with fertility and also abundance, and seeing a rabbit sitting still is supposed to be a good omen.
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'Tis Spring, and a booklover's heart turns to MORE BOOKS!

If this describes you, the SPRING FLING BLOG HOP has over 50 authors and bloggers participating! Each is offering their very own giveaway (WOO HOO!) but there will ALSO be an overall GRAND PRIZE (details at the end of the post, plus a Linky List of participating blogs!)  

DANI HARPER'S PRIZE:

Bunnies, Spring and Books -- I put all three together to bring you the following giveaway. CONTEST IS NOW OVER. CONGRATS TO DONNA N!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
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SPRING FLING BLOG HOP GRAND PRIZE:  Your choice of a Barnes and Noble gift card OR an Amazon gift card, worth $70.00 of book-squealing fun!  CONTEST IS NOW OVER. CONGRATS TO MELANEE R! 

THE 2014 SPRING FLING SCAVENGER HUNT - author Dani Harper

THE SPRING FLING SCAVENGER HUNT STARTS TODAY!

Hosted by Night Owl Reviews


Easy to enter - just fill in a missing word(s) from book blurbs for chances to win AWESOME AUTHOR CREATED GIFT BASKETS! There are only 12 required finds in order to enter --- but there are many more authors you can discover! 








For this Scavenger Hunt, I've put together one of my best prize baskets yet -- full of Celtic-themed goodies in honor of my latest release, Storm Bound, Book Two of the Grim Series.



When a wayward spell unites a modern-day witch and a cursed medieval blacksmith, their unexpected passion thrusts them into the path of an ancient, evil faery. Thrilling and sensual, this is the second book of the Celtic folklore-themed Grim Series.

Check out the Hunt at the following link, and have FUN! 

http://www.nightowlreviews.com/V5/Pages/Articles/Spring-Fling-Scavenger-Hunt-2014

HOW TO BECOME A WEREWOLF - part of the Seriously Shifter Giveaway Hop


How do you become a werewolf? Most of us think first of the Hollywood movie tradition – that if you’re bitten by a werewolf, you’ll automatically turn into one. This method is actually quite rare among the many lupine* legends and lore from around the world. Because I write novels about shapeshifters, I collect shapeshifter trivia. Today I dusted off some of the more interesting ways and means of becoming a werewolf – all of them involuntary!


*LUPINE – adjective meaning
 “of, like, or relating to a wolf
or wolves”
 
In many countries on both sides of the Atlantic a person could become a werewolf against their will if someone cursed them. Often, the person doing the hexing was not a witch but a priest!

In 14th century Normandy, the varouage was an excommunicated person who became a werewolf between Christmas and Candlemas or during Advent. During this time, the sinner was either redeemed – or doomed to belong to the devil and run as a wolf forever. (By the way, in Finland, if you were lucky enough to break the spell, you were still stuck with a wolf’s tail for the rest of your life!)

From Russia to France, if you didn’t go to church or offended God in some other way, you could be officially cursed with lycanthropy. This was said to happen to those who failed to attend annual confession – do this 10 years in a row and you’re automatically a werewolf.

Because they would not accept Christianity, St. Patrick is said to have cursed the ruler of a Welsh tribe and all his followers to become wolves! It’s said that the curse lasted 7 years, but other versions of the story have them turning into wolves EVERY 7 years for the rest of their lives. This is similar to the curse delivered by Saint Natalis (or Naile), who condemned an Irish clan to werewolfism for some long-forgotten sin. Forever after, every member of the clan would spend 7 years of their lives as a wolf.

If your parents were werewolves, you were likely to be born one too. But curses abound for anyone born on the wrong day. In Italy, it was bad luck to be born on the winter solstice, December 20-21, and a sure way to become a shapeshifter. In many other European countries, it was believed that children born on December 24th, Christmas Eve, automatically became werewolves. Apparently it was a divine punishment for competing with the Christ child!

In Romania, this legend went a step further. Children conceived on Christmas Eve were cursed to become werewolves because their parents were supposed to have abstained from sex at that time!


Birth order could also determine your fate. If you were the seventh boy of seven boys born in a row (no girls inbetween), then you would become a werewolf. This belief was so prevalent in Argentina (where the werewolf is called a lobizon) that seventh sons were commonly abandoned, given up for adoption or even killed! In 1920, the president of Argentina countered this by declaring all seventh sons to be his official godchildren.

A Polish legend says that if a witch lays a belt of human skin across the threshold of a house in which a marriage is being celebrated, any member of the wedding party that steps over it is immediately transformed into a wolf. The wolves are forced to serve the witch for a year, then regain their human form and return to their lives.

As if there weren't enough ways to become a werewolf, it was also possible to become one by sheer accident! In some stories, if you happen to lock eyes with a wild wolf, it could cause you to turn into a wolf within a few days.

Legend also says that a “lycanthropic flower” grows wild in the Balkan Peninsula, with a sickly death-like scent and white or yellow blooms. If you pick these flowers, you become a wolf!

Not even water is safe. If you unknowingly drink from a "lycanthropic" river or stream, you could become a werewolf. In some European legends, especially in Scandinavian countries, lycanthropic water is said to possess a "lurid sparkle" and a faint smell that is like nothing else. Other legends say that drinking from any body of water where a wolf pack has recently satisfied their thirst will cause you to become a shapeshifter!



The Seriously Shifter Giveaway Hop

hosted by The Herd Hops blog and HERDING CATS & BURNING SOUP
March 21 to March 28

a Rafflecopter giveaway





To check out the rest of the participating blogs, go to the LINKY LIST below 

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STORM BOUND -- Ancient Welsh Legends mix with Hot Heroes in Modern America!

CLICK THE LINK to check out the list of blog stops on my tour, 
and the details on the terrific giveaway!
http://daniharper.com/EVENTS_AND_BLOG_TOURS.html
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Release Day is here, and STORM BOUND, Book Two of the Grim Series, is available to my readers at last! The newest story continues to weave ancient Welsh mythology -- plus hot heroes and even hotter faeries -- into modern-day America!
Many of you know me for my shapeshifter stories, the Changeling Series. But the transition from writing about werewolves to writing about Celtic faeries was much easier than you might guess:  I had a Welsh grandmother whom I adored. She was a brave and tough little gal, full of fun, who immigrated to Canada all by herself at the tender age of 19! The rest of my family roots are Irish and Scottish, with some English sprinkled in.

So you can bet that I grew up on an abundance of stories about the Fair Folk, the Fae, the Sidhe, the Tylwyth Teg, and more.   Perhaps it’s only natural that I should be a teller of faery tales now – but these ones are definitely for grownups!
  

STORM BOUND  is a stand-alone story, but it follows Book One, STORM WARRIOR.    Both books are available in Kindle ebook, trade paperback, MP3-CD and Audible.            
One of my favorite Welsh faery folktales provides inspiration for my series. The Grim is a legendary canine with many names:  the gwyllgi or barghest, the Black Dog, the Dog of Darkness, Dog of the Twilight and Black Hound of Destiny. 

The story is an old one, dating back to Celtic times in Wales. The Grim is the herald of Death itself, and those who see this faery animal are usually destined to die very soon. For centuries, black dogs have haunted particular towns, roads and forests in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales ... and sightings have even been reported in the USA!

But a writer's mind is always asking questions. Who are the Grims, I wondered? Were they human once? How did they become Death's messengers and why? More importantly, who will they become? Therein lies my story...  and yes, I’m already working on Book 3, STORM WARNED! 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

LUCKY SHAMROCK GIVEAWAY HOP - All about clovers, shamrocks and luck!

Like getting the decorations down from the attic each year, I dusted off this post I wrote a while back to share again - hope you enjoy it!  

Details for entering the Lucky Shamrock Giveaway Hop are at the bottom!

A four-leafed clover
When I was a kid, I used to hunt for four-leafed clovers in the belief that they brought good luck. I was unaware that one was only considered lucky if you found it by accident – the clover was useless if you looked for it on purpose! No wonder I didn’t get the pony I was hoping for….

It’s said that Eve carried a four-leafed clover out of the Garden of Eden (probably figuring that she and Adam were going to need all the help they could get). And the ancient Celts of Wales carried sprigs of clover as a charm against evil spirits. A four-leafed clover worn inside your shoe would lead you to either love or treasure! (If you put one in each shoe, did you find both?)

Druids esteemed the four-leafed clover as a source of protection, because holding one would allow you to see fairies and other supernatural creatures. A salve was sometimes made of four-leafed clovers and applied to the “third eye” area of the forehead, to bring out psychic abilities. Or the clovers might be sewn into a tiny bag and hung around the neck. This would reveal the fairy folk to the wearer – but it would only work once for each clover that was in the bag.

Common White Clover,
Trifolium Repens 
The four-leafed clover is a symbol of good luck in many countries, but is most associated with Ireland. The Irish claim that they have more of them growing there than anywhere else. Maybe, since both the Irish shamrock and four-leafed clovers are said to come from the same plant:  Common White Clover, also known as Dutch clover (Trifolium Repens). That’s right, it’s the same stuff that sometimes takes over the lawn on this side of the Atlantic.  True, there are some potted plants sold around March 17th that claim to be official shamrocks, but they’re usually oxalis or wood sorrel. Pretty, but apparently not brimming with good fortune.

St. Patrick with shamrock
St. Patrick made the shamrock famous by taking an ordinary clover leaf (which has just three leaves normally) and using it as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity which is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This is a prime example of Christianity adopting – and changing – the symbols of pagan faiths. The three leaves had previously been known by the Celts as the three phases of the Goddess – Maiden, Mother and Crone!

So if the three-leafed “shamrock” (clover) came to represent the Christian Trinity, what did the four-leafed clover come to mean? Early Christians saw the four leaves as creating the sign of the cross. Some maintained that the fourth leaf stood for God’s grace and it was a sign of favor if you found one. Others have named the four leaves as Faith, Hope, Love and Luck.

21-leafed clover
So why are there four-leafed clovers when clover naturally has three leaves? Long thought to be a simple plant mutation, scientists have now found a recessive gene for the anomoly. In fact, there are no known limits as to how many leaves a clover can have. According to Guinness, the world record for the most leaves on a clover stem has been held by Shigeo Obara of Japan since 2002 when he discovered a clover with 18 leaves. He bested his record a few years later with a 21-leafed clover. And in 2009, he was credited with finding a clover with no less than 56 leaves!!!

How lucky is a clover with more than four leaves? In Ireland and a few other places, it’s said that it brings nothing but bad luck. In other places, there’s a different meaning for each clover according to leaf number:
     Two-leafed clover = love
     Four-leafed clover = luck 
     Five-leafed clover = attracts wealth
     Six-leafed clover = fame
     Seven-leafed clover = long life

Clovers with more than the standard three leaves are said to be lucky because they’re rare, and estimates place them at about one in 10,000 when naturally grown. They’re not evenly distributed, though – some patches of clover produce many of them (I found dozens in my yard as a kid), and others grow very few of the multi-leafed variety. 

Because the four-leafed clover is such a well-known symbol of good fortune, an entire industry has sprung up around them. You can buy genuine four-leafed clovers pressed between glass, embedded in resin, made into jewelry or just about anything you can think of – and to do it, some horticulturalists have refined the clover plant using the newly-discovered genes. In their specialized plots, four-leafed clovers occur about once in every 41 plants! How much luck these contain, however, is anyone’s guess.

One last word of advice:
  Never iron a four-leafed clover. 
You don’t want to press your luck! 

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 BOOK SNIFFERS ANONYMOUS

Thanks to Kristin and Marissa at
Book Sniffers Anonymous for hosting the hop
(it's their very first one!

DANI'S GIVEAWAY
is now closed

Congrats to 
Sebrina Cassity!


I'll be sending Sebrina a deluxe canvas book bag featuring the cover of my upcoming new release, STORM BOUND 
plus a complete set of my book cover postcards.


Thank you SO much to everyone who took the time to check my blog post and/or enter the contest.

And don't forget to watch for all the other giveaway fun this month 
as I celebrate my New Release!
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