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The samodiva is a type of Bulgarian forest nymph

Samodiva: The Life-Sucking Temptress and Wood Nymph of Bulgarian Folklore

The samodiva (known also as samovila or vila; samodivi or samodivas in plural) is a creature found in Balkan, specifically Bulgarian, folklore. In general, these beings are forest spirits or wood...
Smudging with white sage

The Ancient Art of Smudging: From Banishing Evil to Curing Ailments

The burning of plant materials to produce smoke with positive effects has been practiced since ancient times. One of the best-known examples is the use of incense in the ancient Near East. Another...
Siglo Cero brand of the Mayan pox alcoholic drink.

Ancient Mayan Pox, a Spiritual Drink Lifting North American Nightlife and Exaggerating Hangovers

Pox, (pronounced posh ) is an ancient Mayan alcohol drink traditionally prepared by shamans in the mountains of Chiapas in southern Mexico. Now, you can find swanky city bars offering Pox on their...
Detail of an artistic representation of an Egyptian vampire queen. Before the Egyptians, there were Sumerian vampires.

Bloodsucking Baobhan Sith, Satan, and Dracula all Have Their Origins in Sumerian Vampires

Many folktales, stories, and myths around the world begin with folk “straying from the path” and meeting beautiful females, only to discover that they are treacherous vampires. Since Bram Stoker’s...
People using a Ouija board

Out with the Ouija Board! How the Popular Divining Tool Influenced A Modern Murder Case

A convicted double murderer has won the right to a retrial on the basis that four of the jury had used a Ouija board the night before finding him guilty. Does this mean that the UK judicial system...
‘Will-o-the-wisp and snake’ by Hermann Hendrich.

In the Spirit of Science: Casting Light on the Enchanting Will-o’-the-Wisp

Will-o’-the-Wisps, also called “ignis fatuus,” Latin for “foolish fire”, are enchanting balls of greenish-blue floating lights observed over swamps and marshes at night. At a distance, they look...
Detail of a bronze statuette of Pazuzu, circa 800 BC - circa 700 BC. Pazuzu was an Assyrian evil spirit believed to frighten away other evil spirits - protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes.

Mesopotamian Ghostbusters: The Evil Acts of Assyrian Ghosts and How They Were Vanquished

Assyria, like Mesopotamia in general, has always excited the Western imagination. Assyrian beliefs about the spiritual world are no exception. The Assyrians believed that ghosts could return from the...
Squirrels – ancient messengers from the underworld (Public Domain) and squirrel tracks

Squirrel! Fuzzy Messengers from the Ancient Underworld? The Little-Known Archetype in Mythology

When it comes to archetypal spirit guides, often the focus is upon ferocious guardians and large, intimidating beasts. However, one of the most important, yet overlooked animals in world mythology is...
A mandala.

The Mandala: Mapping the Cosmos and the Soul

Human cultures are replete with ways to depict or represent some aspect of the universe. Calendars, ordinary maps, star charts, and other diagrams are all examples of ways to make sense of or map...
Hashihime.

Demonic Dames: Watch out for the Vengeful Women of Japanese Legends

Japan has had stories about oni (demons or ogres) and yuurei (ghosts) for hundreds of years. As time passes, new vengeful spirits continue to appear and their stories are told even in the present day...
Detail of ‘Shaman’, (1930) by Arman Manookian.

The Real Story of Shamanism: No Need to Don a Headdress or Take Hallucinogens

Over the centuries, many of the world’s natural mystics have succumbed to pogroms of elimination or the steady erosion of traditional practices – witches burnt at the stake, indigenous peoples forced...
Little Known Links Between Spirits You Drink and the Holy Spirit

Little Known Links Between Spirits You Drink and the Holy Spirit

Beer may have been invented by the ancient Egyptians, but it was perfected in medieval monasteries, which gave us modern brewing as we know it. They also pioneered and improved several methods of...
Painting of Father General Saint Francis Borgia, SJ, performing an exorcism, by Goya.

Modern Possessions: What Evil is Behind the Resurgence in Demand for Exorcisms?

Less than five years ago, a new army of exorcists was created by the Roman Catholic Church. They were trained to deal with the “unprecedented rise” in requests for help in battling evil spirits. The...
Detail of two ancient Egyptian 'gate spells'. On the top register, Ani and his wife face the ‘gates of the House of Osiris'. Below, they encounter the 'mysterious portals of the House of Osiris in the Field of Reeds'. All are guarded by unpleasant underworld protectors.

Through the Twelve Chambers of Hell: The Afterlife in Ancient Egypt

Death, the ancient Egyptians believed, was not the end of our struggles. They believed in an afterlife and that the worthy would go on to paradise, but their dead didn’t simply pass over to the other...
Trailer for Ouija Movie. (BagoGames/CC BY 2.0) Insert: Ouija board on your skull: noe valley, san francisco (2015).

Talking Boards: Terrifying Tales of Ouija Boards and Demons, Possession, and Death

Ouija boards, also known as talking boards or spirit boards, are a relatively modern tool/game that strikes fear and wonder in the hearts of many people. Almost everyone has heard stories of someone...
Ketchikan, Alaska. Native American totem pole

Witchcraft, Worship or Public Shaming? The Puzzling Purpose of Totem Poles in North America

Totem poles are a type of monumental structure carved from the trunks of huge trees, especially the Western Red Cedar. These monuments are found in North America, specifically along its north-western...

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