A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Dragons

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Do you know anyone with wings under their armpits? Do you know any old crones or beautiful young women who are always followed by inclement weather?

  • If so you probably know the offspring of a Zmey or you may be rubbing elbows with a Lamia in human form.

All Bulgarian dragons are successful shape-shifters.

 The Zmeys are especially known for falling in love with and seducing humans. Which means they’ve spent a lot of time in human form.

Flower, Fuji X20

Zmeys are usually male and associated mostly with fire. There are records of a few Zmeyitsas (female) protector dragons and some accounts of the Zmey having an affinity for both fire and water. Most villages in Bulgaria have their own Zmey as protector. The Zmey battle the elements for the safety of crops and village. Mostly they battle against the Lamia, the female water dragons.

Another form of the Zmey is described as part snake, part bird and part human. No one can give an exact description because they can become invisible at will. Their battles with the Lamia often cause thunderstorms and lightning.

It is said if you eat the heart of a Zmey you can partake of their power. Considering how dangerous these dragons are, well, I think most sane people would give that a second thought.

Bulgarian female dragons, the Lamia (Lamya) & Khala (Hala) are powerful water creatures with little love for mankind and his settlements. The Lamia can stop the flow of water in a well or stream, or dry up lakes and cause drought. She can also create storms and pummel the fields with hail.

If your Zmey isn’t strong enough to defeat her then a sacrifice to her might ease her temper. I have not found any documentation yet that the Lamia has the power of invisibility like her male counterpart, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past her.

Lamias have been described in many different ways in many different regions. They all seem to be quite individualistic.

Various Lamia descriptions include:

  • 3 to 9 heads (Sometimes dog heads)
  • Long tail of a snake
  • Enormous
  • A large enough mouth to swallow a man whole
  • Sharp teeth
  • Yellow scales
  • Sharp-nailed legs (quadrupeds)
  • Wings
  • Snake-like
  • And of course the ability to shape-shift

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Zmey and Lamia, male and female, fire and water, locked in endless battle. I imagine that little dragons must come from somewhere so the conflict might be a little over-hyped.

Personally. I think powerful female figures can be intimidating in some cultures. In a more enlightened time perhaps there are reformed Lamia wandering among us and equally liberated Zmey who are no longer constrained by the notions of the past.

There is far more Bulgarian myth than I can share in one month. The richness of the tales and culture are staggering and well-worth exploring. I hope to return to this subject in the fall.

I leave you with another Bulgarian saying

 “Work like you’re going to live for 100 years, but live like you’ll die tomorrow.”

 ~ lisa

 Riddle Answers:

As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

The eyes

What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

The tongue

A world without people Cities without houses Forests without trees And seas without water.

A map

 I cannot emphasize enough that this is the spot to go for the best overall accounting of Bulgarian Mythology. http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

Bulgaria Superstitions and Folklore http://www.bestcountryreports.com/Soci_Bulgaria_Superstitions_Folklore.php

Bulgarian creation myth http://www.spellintime.fsnet.co.uk/Folklore_Section_Background.htm

Cryptozoology, Mythology, Rainbow Hill Meanders


Big foot and a rose Cryptozoology

This is one of the fun parts of being a fantasy writer. I’m always exploring the myths and legends around exotic creatures that may or may not exist. (Actually most parts of being a fantasy writer are fun.)

Cryptozoology is well-stated in Wikipedia as Cryptozoology is the study of rumored or mythological animals that are presumed by many to exist, but for which proof does not yet exist.”Green Dragon

It is also described in (IMHO) the best site on cryptozoology: http://www.newanimal.org/ by Jamie Hall.

Cryptozoology is the study of animals and other creatures that have not yet been accepted by science as real. In other words, it is monster-hunting. Cryptozoologists look for creatures like sea serpents and the yeti, hoping to gather enough evidence to prove that these beings exist. They also look for more commonplace animals, such as the ivory-billed woodpecker, the giant vampire bat, the inflatable hedgehog and the pygmy elephant. Creatures that are under investigation by cryptozoologists are called cryptids.”

There are many dedicated people that devote their time, and in some cases their careers, to finding these elusive animals.

Unfortunately cryptozoology is plagued by hoaxes, and pseudoscientists even though there have been cases of cryptids being discovered and handed off to the field of zoology.

Do I believe in most of these myths and monsters? Not really, but I love the ideas of them. I love their mythic symbolism and messages and I really enjoy all the “what if” moments that come from exploring them.

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I will also be the first to celebrate if any of them are found.

Cryptozoologists are not ghost hunters or devotees of the supernatural. To once again quote Jamie Hall http://www.newanimal.org/:

Cryptozoologists are a specialized branch of monster hunters. Since their ultimate goal is to discover either new species of animal or new subspecies, the science of cryptozoology is rooted in biology. The more a creature shows evidence of being supernatural, the less likely it is that cryptozoologists would be interested in it. Not many cryptozoologists investigate the strangest things like ghostly demon cats, Mothman or werewolves. Ghost hunts are left to the paranormal investigators and a few fringe cryptozoologists.”

Some of my favorites from the cryptozoological zoo that inspire me and my writing are: Dragons, Kraken (giant squids have now been found), Sasquatch and Yeti, Fairies, Living Dinosaurs, and Thunderbirds. See http://www.newanimal.org/ for a complete list of the diversity of creatures.

Another outstanding list of the creatures of cryptozoology and the facts known about the animals can be found at http://www.unmuseum.org/lostw.htm where descriptions of such animals as Nessie of Loch Ness, snakes as long as railroad cars, and their crypto alumni list reside.

The crypto alumni are large animals that have been discovered in the last century.

What are your favorite cryptids? What creatures of myth, legend, and rumor call out to you?

Favorites will move to the head of the pack for future blog posts.


May you all find your unicorns, fairies and friendly dragons.





A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Myth 2

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Bulgarian mythology and folklore is said to come from three incomplete sources which have merged together over the years, though each has left traces of regional differences.

The three sources of Bulgarian myth are Thracian, Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian. Records on all three oral traditions are sparse and there is little knowledge as to how the beliefs merged into what is today known as Bulgarian myth and folklore.

Thracian people http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/593556/Thracian
Slavic People http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/548156/Slav
Proto-Bulgarians http://en.cyclopaedia.net/wiki/Proto-Bulgarians

The Personification of Disease. Diseases are usually ugly, frightful and shabby female creatures sent to punish people for their sin such as Plague. Plague hits her victims with arrows, but she loves cleanliness and often spares old people, widows, and those who plea for kindness.

The Bestiary of Bulgarian folklore is also very interesting. One my favorite creatures, as anyone who reads my writing can tell, is the goblin. The Bulgarians have a forest goblin, Karakoncolos, who only comes out after dark. They cause travelers to lose their way.

The Karakoncolos have thick ugly hair that covers its entire body. In some tales Karakoncolos are ghouls who stalk people in the dark. http://www.potiori.com/Karakoncolos.html

I also love bogeymen, those creatures with which children are threatened because there are such a wide variety of them. Bulgaria has Torbalan who brings a pack to carry off naughty children. http://www.vagobond.com/bulgaria-monsters-legends/

Bagiennik are water demons who burn victims, but also have an incredible amount of healing powers. You can find Bagienniks by bubbles on the water’s surface. http://horridhistory.weebly.com/deities-spirits-and-monsters-in-east-slavic-mythology.html

Baba Marta, Grandmother March, is one of the best known stories of Bulgarian mythology. Her moods are as variable as her month, but she is the end of winter and the start of spring. http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/bulgariaandthebalkans/ss/bulgariaculture_3.htm

I include Kuma Lisa, a fox who plays tricks on the wolf, Kumcho Vulcho, because I like the name. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuma_Lisa

Penultimately, I’ll discuss the Ustrel. The Ustrel, (see The Golden Bough by Sir James Fraser) is a most unusual type of vampire and I love unusual. An ustrel is a baby born on a Saturday who dies before receiving baptism. After nine days it claws its way out of the grave and finds a herd of cattle. It then decimates the herd.

A vampire hunter must perform a fire ritual to get rid of an ustrel at a crossroads. The ustrel cannot leave the crossroads so it stays there until it is consumed by wolves. http://ilovewerewolves.com/ustrel-bulgaria-vampire/

And, finally but certainly not the last, a vampire hunter of more traditional vampires is called a djadadjii who gets rid of vampires by tempting them with their favorite food and then trapping them in a bottle. The bottle is then disposed of in a fire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djadadjii

Three favorite Bulgarian riddles (answers on May 28)

As small as walnuts, they sit in a low place, but they reach to the sky.

What is the sweetest and the bitterest thing in the world?

A world without people
Cities without houses
Forests without trees
And seas without water.

~ lisa

And today’s Bulgarian saying: A sweet word opens iron gates.

A-D, Cryptozoology, Mythology

Bulgarian Folklore Intro

Once upon a time the first people, the dwarves ruled the land, but their short stature made them prey to wild animals and hindered their working of the land. And so the dwarves died out.

So then once upon a time the second people, the Ispolini roamed the Earth. They were the opposite of dwarves, tall and strong. They had huge heads sometimes (depending on who was telling the story), they had three heads, sometimes a single eye (or possibly even a single leg).

Besides their height, the Ispolini possessed supernatural powers. The Ispolini lived in the mountains, could be heard from mountaintop to mountaintop, ate raw meat and were the natural enemy of all dragons.

Despite their strength and supernatural abilities Ispolini were very susceptible to blackberry bushes. The blackberries would trip and trap them, and the Ispolini would perish in the thorns.

Considering the halo of blackberry brambles around my hill, I find a great deal of credibility in the Ispolini story.

Then came humans…

Flower, Fuji X20

Bulgaria is located in the Balkan Peninsula and more than half of the country is covered by the Balkan Mountains. Romania sits along Bulgaria’s Northern border, Serbia and Macedonia are to the west, Greece and Turkey are the south and the Eastern edge of Bulgaria is bordered by the Black Sea. Capital City is Sophia.

A great source on the intricacies of Bulgarian history: http://blazingbulgaria.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/origins_of_bulgaria/

Tulip dewdrops

Bulgarian folklore has an incredible number of supernatural creatures from the benevolent to the demonic. I am planning three or more forays (posts) into the creatures and myths of Bulgaria over the course of this month, but that will only scrape the surface of Bulgaria’s vast cultural heritage.

Prominent among Bulgarian tales are Bulgarian wood nymphs called samodivas. Samodivas are beautiful women, sometimes with wings and their clothes are covered with feathers, giving them a semblance of birds. To steal a samodiva’s clothes is to gain power over it.

While clothed, samodivas rule over water (often the reason for drought), and make those who enter into their territories disappear or die shortly thereafter of a fatal disease.

The lamia (Bulgarian female dragon) and their enemies the zmeys (Bulgarian male dragons) will be covered on the May 28th post. There will also be a Bulgarian Myth post on May 14.

Bulgarians have angels, demons, devils, bogies, mratinyak, the plague and smallpox– both personified, dwarves, tzoglavtzi, koutzoulan, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, witches, and the winds.

These creatures of myth include the Orisnizi, the weird sisters, who are a trio that traipses around Bulgaria visiting newborns and predicting their fates.

A good site for a complete list of mythical creatures and links to an illustration visit: http://www.omda.bg/public/engl/ethnography/folklore_creatures_en.htm

Finally finding complete Bulgarian mythology can be summed up by a Bulgarian saying: “It’s not so easy to make a snake show you its legs.”

Today I will close with my favorite Bulgarian saying: “A word is not a sparrow, but once you release it, you can’t catch it.”


Cryptozoology, Fonts, V-Z

Z = Zombie Z= Zed

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Zapped Sticks is by GemFonts
Z = Zirkon – Author unknown. Can anyone tell me who created this cool font?


Zombies are an obvious subject for a fantasy writer, but I am going to start with a disclaimer.

I don’t like zombies, not one bit. I can’t watch them on the big screen or the little screen. If they are the sole focus of a book, I won’t read it (I will read books with zombies in them, just not those solely focused on the phenomenon).

My dislike stems from my low gross-out point. For me zombies equal rotting limbs, brain-binging, and ugly teeth. We all have our prejudices.

My interest in zombies is in the aspect of folklore, especially Haitian folklore. In Haitian folklore zombies are animated (reanimated) corpses raised by magical means.

I am partial to an individualized view of single zombies raised from the dead with a purpose as opposed to the modern diseased plague-upon-the-land versions. Call me a traditionalist.

There is always an exception to every rule and my exception is my favorite zombie apocalypse read by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies_novella.htm
Now this is how a zombie apocalypse should read.

Descartes explored the zombie phenomenon in Discourse V and since then there have been many deep philosophical discussions regarding the existence of zombies.

The philosophical debate about zombies centers on these three statements.

a – Zombies are conceivable
b – Whatever is conceivable is possible
c – Therefore zombies are possible.

There is, as of yet, no consensus. If you are in doubt about whether or not you need to protect yourself, Max Brooks has a delightful set of books on the subject.

This is the other zombie apocalypse book I enjoy:
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks

Now on to Zed

Zed is how the rest of the English-speaking world, outside of America, pronounces the last letter of the alphabet “Z”

“Z” is, indeed, the last letter of the alphabet and with that I sign off of the April A-Z challenge. See you in May


Cryptozoology, Fonts, V-Z

Y = Yeti

140410 -  - medium-15Yank by S. John Ross http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/cumberland.htm


Yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman, mostly resides in the Himalayas Mountains, but is a tale well-known in Nepal, Bhutan, China, India, Mongolia and Russia.

A similar beast in North America is known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

Yeti is a word from Nepal that translates to “mountain man”. It is indigenous to the mythology of Nepal and Tibet. It is one of the most sought-after creatures in the field of cryptozoology.

Cryptozoology is the study of study of hidden animals. Hidden animals being animals whose existence is not yet proven. http://www.newanimal.org/

Big foot and a roseIn 1921 the Yeti was introduced

to Western culture by Lt. Colonel Charles Howard-Bury in Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance as the Abominable Snowman.

Pliny the Elder’s Natural History describes a Yeti-like creature in the mountains east of India. The Lepcha People http://lepcha.info/ supposedly worshipped a Glacial Being known as a God of the Hunt.

When Westerners began climbing mountains in the Himalayas reports of the Yeti skyrocketed.

The some of the prevailing wisdom on the Yeti is that Yeti are nocturnal, very fast and they can walk upright or on all four legs. According to the Nepalese, the Yeti is so strong, it can kill a human with one punch. The Yeti has also been described as having reddish-hair, a terrible stench and of having the capability to throw boulders as if they were pebbles.

In 1959 the United States government thought finding the Yeti was enough of a possibility to issue a policy on Yeti hunting that included the guideline that the Yeti was not to be harmed except in self-defense. http://www.paranormalpopculture.com/2013/02/us-governments-official-yeti-policy.html



Cryptozoology, Fonts, Mythology, Q-U

T = Tengu

T is for Times New Roman
Times New Roman by Victor Lardent, 1931. This is the writing industry 12 pt. standard. At least for the time being. That may change: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-save-millions-change-type-font-teen-finds-20140328,0,1227267.story?track=rss#axzz2xJumYEQt


After my long digression in yesterday’s Seattle post, I’m going to try to keep this post short and sweet.

Tengu are some of my favorite demons. They are from Japanese folk religion and, for me, endlessly fascinating. Among demon manifestation they are tricksters, sometimes benevolent or helpful and often cruel and dangerous.

It is thought they are a descendent of the Chinese “heavenly dog” demon, Tiangou, but in Japanese folklore are usually identified with birds of prey.

Over the centuries, Tengu have become less evil, and more humanized with very long noses replacing beaks. They are shape-shifters and in more recent literature take human forms and are more mischievous.

Tengu live in trees in mountainous areas. Besides being known for their arrogance they are also renowned swordsmen (swords-beasts? swords-demons?). There are also lesser tengu (koppa or leaflet tengu) who act as messengers for the greater tengu.

In Japan the tengu are vain and prideful and to this day conceited people are still described as “becoming tengu”.

The first recorded mention of Japanese tengu is in Nihon Shoki in 720 where the tengu is described as canine monster and harbinger of war. Somehow over the centuries the tengu meta-morphed into a vicious bird-demon and then into a more humanized trickster.

Today the tengu is making a resurgence especially in video games. It is ripe for many different interpretations.

This shape-shifter with a wide range of personalities is one of my favorites as a jumping off point for writing. I have created my own version for my stories.

http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Tengu or  http://monsterinmypocket.wikia.com/wiki/Tengu

A-D, Cryptozoology, Fonts

Dragons Part 1

D is for Dragonwick

Dragonwick by Andreas Höfeld  http://www.fontgrube.de/en/

I don’t usually reference to commercial sites, but this one was a wonderful find when I found out I could search by subject matter. Their other dragon fonts include: Dragonbones, Scaling the Dragon, Dragon, Dragon Order, Dragon Master, & Dragonfly, et al. http://www.free-fonts.com/font/dragon.html


Red DragonBlack DragonWhite Dragon

As long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by dragons. In my childhood the only dragons I could discover were in books and in Chinatown. Much to my delight that world has changed to include dragons everywhere you look.

Dragon myths resound in cultures from around the world. In some they are the greatest of monsters, and in others the givers of wisdom and strength. They are almost always enormous serpents, some with wings and some without. I have a couple shelves full of books about every type of dragon, their taxonomy and their places in our world. These would be my pet of choice.

Roughly the dragon is divided into two main groups: the European dragon and the Asian dragon.

Linguistically speaking, and who doesn’t want to speak linguistically?, for us English speakers the word dragon is from the Old French word dragon which came from the Latin draconem (nominative draco) meaning “huge serpent” which in turn came from the Greek drakon meaning a “serpent of huge size, giant seafish”.   When it comes to dragons all of these little details are important to me.

Dragons roam myth and legend in far too many cultures to list all of them in a single blog (thus Dragons Part 1, then Part II, then Part III), but some form of dragon has been around since the beginning of our recorded time and probably dates back even farther to prehistoric Indo-European mythology. There are references to dragons from Canaanite, Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Hittite cultures. Out of all those early dragons the most famous and recognizable is probably Humbaba from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Humbaba is described as a dragon-fanged, fire-breathing beast.

http://gilgamesh.psnc.pl/index.html For a some beautiful interpretive visuals.

http://ancienthistory.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=ancienthistory&cdn=education&tm=17&f=10&tt=14&bt=2&bts=52&zu=http%3A//www.mythome.org/Gilgamesh.html The translations tablet by tablet

IN THE ILLIAD, Agamemnon is supposed to have a blue dragon motif on his sword belt and a 3-headed dragon in his breastplate. Though the Greek word used could also denote a snake. The jury is still out on that one.

In the interest of keeping this short and readable, I will defer most dragon descriptions, myths and comments to later blogs. For now a few tantalizing tidbits


BLOOD: Some uses that slain dragons have been accredited with: blood that is either poisonous or of incredible healing power. Dragon blood can also render skin invincible to those who bath in it. The blood can seep through iron, but is also is said to be so vile that the earth will not absorb it.

TEETH: Planting dragon teeth is planting an army of invincible warriors

TREASURE: there are always the dragon hoards of great treasure or great wisdom and knowledge.

IN RUSSIA dragons usually have heads in threes that will grow back if every head isn’t cut off. The most known version of three-headed Russian dragons portrays them as green, walking on two back paws and spitting fire. Many references to Russian dragons are found in Bylina (also Bylyna) which oral epic narrative poems. A lot of great Russian folklore in these.

IN INDIA the dragon is the personification of drought and enemy of Indra.

IN VIETNAM According to ancient myth the Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon and a fairy. For the Vietnamese the dragon brings the rain essential to agriculture. http://www.haivenu-vietnam.com/vietnam-culture-myths.htm

BIBLICAL REFERENCES. Starting with just two.

Job 26:13 “By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent” or “By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent.

Isaiah 27:1 “In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea” or “the Lord will punish with his sword—    his fierce, great and powerful sword—Leviathan the gliding serpent,    Leviathan the coiling serpent;he will slay the monster of the sea1In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.”

ASIAN DRAGONS will have their own blog, but to tide you over I’ll let you know that Japanese dragons usually only have three claws. They are usually benevolent, associated with water, and may grant wishes.

Dachshunds Part 1


Dachshunds were bred to chase and flush out badgers and have a stubborn enough temperament to do just that. Its name is Germanic and literally means “Badger dog:” Of course, Arna is sweet, though I must say she is used to getting her way. She does an excellent job of putting up with the Bengals and all the Bengal antics.

Dachshund baby pictureWalking the dog

Back to dragons. There is also the schizophrenic dragon Yidra, That debuts in my novel “Mage of Cliffport”.

Finally in cartography dragons are used to denote dangerous or unexplored territories. Or in my case, the welcome sign to my lair

Beyond This Place There Be Dragons