There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air this afternoon, some unnatural stillness, some tension. What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes, blowing up sand storms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to flash point. For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear sirens in the night. I have neither heard nor read that a Santa Ana is due, but I know it, and almost everyone I have seen today knows it too. We know it because we feel it. The baby frets. The maid sulks. I rekindle a waning argument with the telephone company, then cut my losses and lie down, given over to whatever it is in the air. To live with the Santa Ana is to accept, consciously or unconsciously, a deeply mechanistic view of human behavior.
I recall being told, when I first moved to Los Angeles and was living on an isolated beach, that the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the bad wind blew. I could see why. The Pacific turned ominously glossy during a Santa Ana period, and one woke in the night troubled not only by the peacocks screaming in the olive trees but by the eerie absence of surf. The heat was surreal. The sky had a yellow cast, the kind of light sometimes called “earthquake weather.” My only neighbor would not come out of her house for days, and there were no lights at night, and her husband roamed the place with a machete. One day he would tell me that he had heard a trespasser, the next a rattlesnake.
“On nights like that,” Raymond Chandler once wrote about the Santa Ana, “every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen.” That was the kind of wind it was. I did not know then that there was any basis for the effect it had on all of us, but it turns out to be another of those cases in which science bears out folk wisdom. The Santa Ana, which is named for one of the canyons it rushers through, is foehn wind, like the foehn of Austria and Switzerland and the hamsin of Israel. There are a number of persistent malevolent winds, perhaps the best know of which are the mistral of France and the Mediterranean sirocco, but a foehn wind has distinct characteristics: it occurs on the leeward slope of a mountain range and, although the air begins as a cold mass, it is warmed as it comes down the mountain and appears finally as a hot dry wind. Whenever and wherever foehn blows, doctors hear about headaches and nausea and allergies, about “nervousness,” about “depression.”
In Los Angeles some teachers do not attempt to conduct formal classes during a Santa Ana, because the children become unmanageable. In Switzerland the suicide rate goes up during the foehn, and in the courts of some Swiss cantons the wind is considered a mitigating circumstance for crime. Surgeons are said to watch the wind, because blood does not clot normally during a foehn. A few years ago an Israeli physicist discovered that not only during such winds, but for the ten or twelve hours which precede them, the air carries an unusually high ratio of positive to negative ions. No one seems to know exactly why that should be; some talk about friction and others suggest solar disturbances. In any case the positive ions are there, and what an excess of positive ions does, in the simplest terms, is make people unhappy. One cannot get much more mechanistic than that.
Easterners commonly complain that there is no “weather” at all in Southern California, that the days and the seasons slip by relentlessly, numbingly bland. That is quite misleading. In fact the climate is characterized by infrequent but violent extremes: two periods of torrential subtropical rains which continue for weeks and wash out the hills and send subdivisions sliding toward the sea; about twenty scattered days a year of the Santa Ana, which, with its incendiary dryness, invariably means fire. At the first prediction of a Santa Ana, the Forest Service flies men and equipment from northern California into the southern forests, and the Los Angeles Fire Department cancels its ordinary non-firefighting routines. The Santa Ana caused Malibu to burn as it did in 1956, and Bel Air in 1961, and Santa Barbara in 1964. In the winter of 1966-67 eleven men were killed fighting a Santa Ana fire that spread through the San Gabriel Mountains.
Just to watch the front-page news out of Los Angeles during a Santa Ana is to get very close to what it is about the place. The longest single Santa Ana period in recent years was in 1957, and it lasted not the usual three or four days but fourteen days, from November 21 until December 4. On the first day 25,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains were burning, with gusts reaching 100 miles an hour. In town, the wind reached Force 12, or hurricane force, on the Beaufort Scale; oil derricks were toppled and people ordered off the downtown streets to avoid injury from flying objects. On November 22 the fire in the San Gabriels was out of control. On November 24 six people were killed in automobile accidents, and by the end of the week the Los Angeles Times was keeping a box score of traffic deaths. On November 26 a prominent Pasadena attorney, depressed about money, shot and killed his wife, their two sons and himself. On November 27 a South Gate divorcée, twenty-two, was murdered and thrown from a moving car. On November 30 the San Gabriel fire was still out of control, and the wind in town was blowing eighty miles an hour. On the first day of December four people died violently, and on the third the wind began to break.
It is hard for people who have not lived in Los Angeles to realize how radically the Santa Ana figures in the local imagination. The city burning is Los Angeles’s deepest image of itself. Nathaniel West perceived that, in The Day of the Locust, and at the time of the 1965 Watts riots what struck the imagination most indelibly were the fires. For days one could drive the Harbor Freeway and see the city on fire, just as we had always known it would be in the end. Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The winds shows us how close to the edge we are.
—Joan Didion, “The Santa Ana” (The Saturday Evening Post, 1965), from her essay “Los Angeles Notebook”
magic girls urban witches
they grew up like grass through concrete cracks; trace the tracks of their veins and you’d find that they map out subway lines. breathing in smog and breathing out spells, they walk the streets at night, taking on the sins of the city that created them. their eyes reflect the glow of traffic lights and their souls are bound in steel and asphalt. a flick of their fingers, and the city would be ash.
But think about this:
- a witch who does knot magic braiding spells into her hair
- or tying it into his tie or shoelaces
- a witch who does technomagic putting a reminder on their phone that contains a good luck charm
- a kitchen witch making a memory spell in pancakes to help their kids learn and retain stuff from school
- an enchanter/ress putting anti-bullying pins on their childs’ backpack
- a musicwitch humming happiness charms all day long
Artist Kevin Weir creates ghostly animated GIFs using Archival photos from the Library of Congress
I made The Witches’ Daughters for Terrestrial, an anthology of earth-themed fantasy comics edited by Amanda Scurti. You can also read it at its forever home on my portfolio website.
The anthology debuted at SPX 2014, and now you can buy it here! It’s full of lovely comics and illustrations, and I’m very happy to be included in such good company.
Strzyga by unka on Digart
A strzyga, rarely in male form strzygoń or strzigůń (also called стржига [strzhyga] and strziga), is a female Slavic demon. People who were born with two hearts and two souls and two sets of teeth (second one barely visible) were believed to be strzygas. Furthermore a newborn child with already developed teeth was also believed to surely become one. When strzyga was recognized it was chased away from human habitat. Strzygas usually were dying at young age, but only one soul gets passed on, and the other soul caused the deceased strzyga to come alive and prey upon other living beings. Those undead creatures fly at night in a form of an owl and attack night-time travelers and people who simply wander off into the woods at night, sucking out their blood and eating out their insides. Strzyga could also be satisfied with animal blood, for a short period of time. When person recognized as strzyga dies decapitating the corpse and burying the head separate from the rest of the body is said to prevent strzyga from rising back from the dead, but burying the body face down with a sickle around its head is said to work as well.
In the times of epidemic sick people were buried alive. Some of them made their way out of grave with bare hands. Wandering around forests, weak and with bloody hands and torn-off fingernails. Those people were believed to be strzygas as well.
Another Halloween themed post.
GHOSTS AND SPIRITS
- Iron and Ghosts
- The Early Ghost
- Guide to Ghosts
- Gravestone Symbolism
- 10 Little Known Mysterious Ghost Types
- Ghost Types
- The Different Types of Ghosts
- Haunted Places
- Cemetery Folklore
- Writing a Ghost Story
- Tips for Writing Ghost Stories
- Ghost Cliches
- Horror Cliches
- The Science of Zombies
- Zombie Biology
- Zombie Sociology
- Zombie Myths
- Stage II and Stage III Zombies (pictures)
- Vampires vs Zombies
- Undead Creatures
- Guide on Zombies
SHAPE SHIFTERS AND HOMINIDS
- Werewolves and other were-beasts
- The Shape Shifting Process
- Shape Shifters
- Hominids of the World
- Werewolf Myths
- Science of Werewolves
- Werewolf Behavior
- Werewolves vs Vampires vs Zombies
- Werewolf Anatomy
- Wolf Body Language
- Werewolf Myths and Truths
- History of the Werewolf Legend
- The Mermaid
- Sea Creatures
- Books About Mermaids and Sea Folklore
- Sea Creatures: Books
- YA Mermaid Novels
- Best Mermaid Books
- Awesome Mermaid Books
- Mermaid Anatomy
- A Dissection of Mermaid Anatomy
- African Vampires
- Writing the A-Typical Vampire
- So You Want to Write a Vampire Novel
- Avoiding Vampire Cliches
- Vampire Cliches
- Vampire Burial
- Vampire Mythology
- Vampire Biology
- Vampire Virology
- Vampire Sociology
- Vampires in Folklore and Literature
FAIRIES AND FAE
- Types of Faeries A-Z
- A Guide to Fairies
- Writing Fairy Characters
- Other Names for Fairies
- Books About Faery
- Best YA Fairy Books
- Best YA Fantasy Series About the Fae
ANGELS AND DEMONS
- Creating Creepy Creatures
- Mythology Meme
- Master Post of World Mythology, Creatures, and Folklore
- Figures of Norse Mythology
- Those Who Haunt the Earth
- Writing Horror, Paranormal, and Supernatural
- Genre: YA Supernatural
- List of Mythical Creatures
- Mythological Creature Picture Spam
- How to Make Your Supernatural Characters Unique
- Supernatural Theme Story
- Myths and Urban Legends Masterpost
- Original Gods, Goddesses, and Myths
- World Building Basics: Myths and Legends
- Mythical Creatures and Beings
- Symbols by Word
- Mythology Meme
- Writing Paranormal Characters into the Real World
quick concepts for some ideas of spirits i had. from left to right:
- the keeper: guardian of cemeteries - makes sure graves remain clean and never without flowers.
- crywolf: once thought to be a trickster spirit that led travelers to their doom, this spirit’s actual intent is to help travelers discover unmarked graves of murder victims.
- the cacophony: will appear to some individuals - serves the same purpose as a banshee.
- the rat king: a spirit of vengeance, unleashed upon those who hurt others.
- the lure: an otherworldly being that feeds on lost souls - will lure them close and devour them whole.
- the guardian: a watchful sloth spirit that comforts the spirit of dead children, allowing them to paint his fur.
The Domovoi is a masculine household spirit.
In appearance, the Domovoi is typically:
- Covered in hair all over.
According to some traditions, domovye take on the appearance of current or former owners of the house and have a grey…
Rest stops on highways are liminal spaces where the veil is thin and nobody can tell me differently
The explanation is that liminal spaces are in between places that bridge Here with There, so in fairy tales we often have the Fairy Ring, the Forest Clearing, the Sudden Misty Foggy Forest, the Bridge, the River, graveyards, in some cases
We also have a ton of american urban mythology around famous roadways and sites off the sides of roads
Archetypes like these occur to mark the places in the world where the veil goes thin and humans can have extra-worldly experiences, out of the ordinary way of living
So why wouldn’t transient spaces like rest stops where everyone is just passing through from one place to the next, never stopping for too long, not be a liminal space where spirits frequent, too
Especially since nobody would know if they were real or not
Vampire doctors that can smell if you have a blood disease.
Werewolf therapy animals for sick kids.
Nature sprite and nymph nurses that always make sure people have pretty flowers to brighten up their white rooms.
Fauns that go around and sing and dance for patients so that they smile.
Nice monster hospitals would be amazing
Everything Brennan says is also something I want to draw so that’s convenient