Monday 28 March 2011

Children of the Night : Glikman / Paciorek

Illustration by Andy Paciorek

Creatures of the Night : A poem by Boris Glikman

These are

creatures of the


that I


bear during



Day, uncouth, arrogant Day

deigns no comfort for

their existence.

Only Night, demure

soft-speaking Night

broods them

to the fullness

of term.


For the rude,

intolerant brightness

of Day

shrieks at

their unnatural visage,

pushes them back

into the womb’s



Only night’s Moon

succours them

with its milky radiance,

the golden mead

of the Sun

being as though

vilest viper venom

to their young

tender mouths.


No birth pangs


their creation,


they spring forth

with such hale vigour,


that I become

but an adjunct,

a pale copy

of their existence,

as if they are

the begetter

and I am but a helpless infant

devoid of all knowledge,

sapped of all


Born with

no blood

nor nature’s yolk

they feast

on the nearest flesh

consuming voraciously

that of which they came,


like hideous grubs,

their creator

from inside.

So eager are they

to leave their natal home,

they themselves

chew off

the life cord

that once

bound them to me,

My own offspring

made my



Text © Boris Glikman

Saturday 26 March 2011



Also known as: Inifri Duir, Bodachan na Croibhe Moire.
The Oak-men are very protective of their host tree and, though they far prefer to live in the most ancient and imposing Oaks, they will begrudgingly settle in pollards and coppices should their mature tree be lopped or chopped. However should this occur the Oak-men would sometimes seek revenge, not necessarily upon the ‘guilty’ lumberjack or tree-surgeon but upon any passing human. A typical means of vengeance was to assume the form of bucolic human traders and, in apparently generous spirit, offer appetising looking cakes to hungry and weary passers-by. However these succulent treats would actually be poisonous fungi glamorised to look good and wholesome. Though their opinion and treatment of humankind is generally low, the Oak-men are reputedly very protective and nurturing towards the various other natural creatures that share their woodland habitat.

image & text © Andy Paciorek :
Adapted from the book
'Strange Lands: A Field Guide to the Celtic Otherworld'
 which contains many many more images and information and is available now from - 

The preview below shows a limited selection of pages from the book
<div style="text-align:left; width:450px"><div style="display:block;">Strange Lands by Andrew L. Paciorek  : foreword by Dr. Karl Shuker | Make Your Own Book</div></div>

Folklore and Other Strange Happenings

Featured are links to a great resource of Folklore and Strange Phenomena 

If you know of any other good folklore, myth, paranormal sites (any country) please give links in comments box below and I may feature in a subsequent future post.


The Company of the Green Man gathers, archives and makes freely available information, images  and folklore about the green man in his varied forms and supports current traditions that feature the green man and the Jack-in-the-Green worldwide. We also promote artists and writers who feature the green man in their work and assist where possible the protection and preservation of architectural images of the green man.



Black Annis 

Image - Daniel Parkinson

Mysterious Britain & Ireland is a resource and community website dedicated to mysterious places, legends and folklore of the British and Irish Isles.



Dorset's premier website devoted to local folklore, customs, mysteries and the unexplained.

Based on the publication Dark Dorset: Tales of Mystery, Wonder and Terror by Robert. J. Newland and Mark. J. North.and Dark Dorset Calendar Customs by Robert. J. Newland. This site is anonline compendium of information relating to local folklore and mysteries that can be discovered in the county of Dorset.


A repository of lore from South West England

and more ...

The Faery Folklorist

Sacred Texts  - the largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric on the Internet.


Tuesday 22 March 2011

The Revelata of Glikman~Paciorek part I

Shown are several images by Andy Paciorek, illustrated to accompany the poetry and prose of BORIS GLIKMAN .

Follow the links below the images to read the text.

by Andy Paciorek


by Andy Paciorek


Illustration by Andy Paciorek


by Andy Paciorek



For more information on the writings of Boris Glikman -

Monday 21 March 2011

The Alphabet of Crones

Images from The Crone Alphabet 

© Andy Paciorek. 2006

A is for Atropos:
The Inevitable. Atropos is one of the Moirai ~ the Olympian spinners of Fate. It is she that brandishes the shears that at any time may sever the threads of life.

B is for Black Annis:
On stormy nights the blue hag of Leicester will hunt for the flesh of lambs and children. Cleaving them asunder with her razor talons, she devours the meat and hangs the skins on her cavern walls to dry.

C is for Cyraeth:
A mournful wail that carries on the wind, strange disembodied lights ... a grotesque bat-winged figure tapping upon your window? The Welsh recognise this as the Cyraeth - a warning that death approaches.

D is for Dziwitza:
Wild women of the Polish woods, the Dwizozony wander at midday in the company of mangy hounds. Cruel-spirited in nature, they are known to rape young men and bizarrely also to tickle people to death.

E is for Empusa:
The Empusae are vampiric entities from Ancient Greece. Though they may manifest as alluring young women in order to seduce and slaughter men, one of their legs will always remain brass, the other hairy and hoofed.

F is for Furies:
Alecto, Magaera and Tisiphone; the daughters of Night. They are the 'Kindly Ones' who with violence and torture, avenge the murdered. Even after death, sinners can expect no respite from the Furies' retribution.

G is for Grugach:
If permitted to sit by a farmhouse hearth on a bitter Scottish night, a Grugach will repay the kindness by guarding the herds of cattle. However care must be taken for they have a tendency to kidnap infant boys.

H is for Hel:
The offspring of a treacherous god and a giantess; Hel is the Norse queen of the dead. However only the souls of those who died a diseased or dishonourable death are hers to claim. Her siblings are a ferocious wolf and a collosal serpent.

I is for Ix Chel:
The crone aspect of the Mayan Rain Goddess; Ix Chel is known as the 'Angry Old Woman' and is the bringer of violent storms, war, death and destruction.

J is for Jendzyna:
This Polish Witch-spirit is a notorious kidnapper of children. She takes her victims to her hut in the heart of the forest, where she butchers and eats them. She is herself the mother of a legion of foul pig-faced entities called Jezinky.

K is for Kali:
The Destroyer. Hindu Goddess and slayer of Demons; Kali the Black's rage and war-frenzy is so intense that she failed to notice that she had inadvertently trampled to death her own husband.

L is for Lha-Mo:
Traversing the perilous passes of the Tibetan plateau on her twisted mule, saddled with the skin and bones of her own dead son; Lha-Mo is deemed responsible for the spread of disease and disaster, malady and madness.

M is for Mara:
The old-English 'Mara' is just one of the many names given to this universal nightmare. She is the nefarious hag that climbs upon your chest as you try to sleep and sups upon your suffocating breaths.

N is for Nochnitsa:
The oxen-headed Night-Hags of Eastern Europe will sneak into the rooms of sleeping infants to torment their dreams and drain their blood. If disturbed from their feeding, they will vanish leaving fever and pestilence in their wake.

O is for Oshun Ibu Kole:
The Buzzard Mother, feared by the slaves taken west from Africa. She is the crone-aspect of the beautiful Orisha Water Goddess, Oshun. Frequenting the foulest, most deadly swamps, she is attended by reptiles and scavenging raptors.

P is for Peg Powler:
This water-witch of County Durham, England will leave small trinkets and baubles upon the banks of the River Tees; then should a small child come to investigate she will seize, drown and devour the youngster.

Q is for Queen of the Night:
Hecate - the distant one is an ancient dark goddess who generally resides in the Underworld, but may manifest at crossroads in the form of a woman or as a black dog, pig, bear or hen.

R is for Rusali:
In the week before Whit, the Romanian Rusali will sing like young girls and wail like the wind. These bringers of hail are the grim spectres of women who either commited suicide or otherwise died upon their wedding day.

S is for Stryx:
Through the use of magical unguents, these Roman Witches transform into monstrous owls at night, in order to rape men and cannibalise babies. The Striges are rumoured to lay eggs and to lactate poisonous milk.

T is Tzitsimine:
Melancholic and malevolent Aztec revenants of women that died whilst giving birth. Bitter towards those whom escaped the same fate, the Tzitsimine infect healthy children with disease.

U is for Urd:
The eldest of the Norse Wyrd Sisters or Norns; Urd is the one who watches over the future. She also guards the primeval Fountain of Urd, whose mystic waters she uses to nurture the roots of the World Tree.

V is for Vargamor:
The Wolf-Crones that wander the forests of Sweden are formidable sorceresses that yield power over wild animals.

W is for Wakwak:
Normal-looking by day, hideous by night; the Wakwaks of the Philippines use their long hollow tongues to feed upon the blood of infants, pregnant women and unborn babies. They then suckle their own offspring upon the gorged fluids.

X is for Xmucane:
The first Mayan sorceress and grandmother of the human race. Xmucane is not renowned for compassion, when a maiden became impregnated by her son's severed head, she forced the girl to fill a large basket of maize from a single plant.

Y is for Yama Uba:
The Mountain Mother of Japan has a voracious appetite for human flesh. She will stalk her prey, then capture it in her long writhing hair before forcing the victim into the ravenous mouth on her scalp.

Z is for Zweda Polnica:
The Slavic Spirit of Midnight. Together with her sisters (Twilight and Dawn) she watches over the Doomsday Hound; for should this beast escape its chains, it will destroy the universe.


For much more art and information on some of these and other Hags see the book 'Strange Lands: A Field Guide to the Celtic Otherworld' by Andy Paciorek

And also the books in progress 'Black Earth: A Field Guide to the Slavic Otherworld' by Andy Paciorek

and also 'Creatures of Shadow and Darkness' by Karl Shuker & Andy Paciorek.

More details on the latter books to follow in time.

Saturday 19 March 2011

The Ballad of the Rat King

The Ballad of the Rat King
In the bleakest moments 
Of the season of hail
So unravels
A twisted tale
Of a curious creature
Of the strangest thing
The gruesome ballad
Of the tragic Rat-King
Myriad rodents
Conjoined as one
A witch's knot
Unable to run
The vermin monarch
The regal abomination
Destined to die
Of thirst and starvation
Reviled or revered
By the kin of its race
The sovereign fades
In cannibalistic embrace
In the bleakest moments
Of the season of hail
So unravels
A twisted Rat's tail.

Image & Poem © Andy Paciorek

(A version of this illustration also features in the book Alien Zoo by Karl Shuker )

Friday 18 March 2011

The Rye Wolf and the Tit Wife : Tales of Ergotism

Ergot (Claviceps purpurea) is a fungal parasite of grasses and cereal crops, particularly Rye, which if cooked and ingested, generally as bread, can cause wild symptoms including the sensation of burning of the limbs, gangrene necrosis of the flesh, intense hallucinations, miscarriage in pregnant women, and in the extreme, a horrific painful death. 

Ergotism is sometimes known as Holy Fire or Saint Anthony’s Fire, named after the hermitic Desert Father Saint Anthony of Egypt, renowned for the visions of seduction and terror that he endured whilst in the solitude of devotion. 

Convulsive Ergotism due to its profound symptoms and hallucinatory influence, has also been suggested as the possible cause of several outbreaks of Werewolf and Witch Hysteria in Europe, including the instance of Elfdale and Mora in 17th Century Sweden, whereupon a number of people were executed upon the testimony of children. The English Anglian Witch-hunts and also the infamous Witch-trial of Salem in 1692 have also been suggested as possible cases of Ergot infestation. Regarding the latter it was said that the New England founding fathers reputedly preferred bread made from Rye rather than the native Maize (which does not become infected by Ergot). 

In Germanic and East European lore, Ergot is associated with the Crone-goddess, Roggenmutter ~ the Rye Mother. (Known also as the Iron Woman, Rugia Boba and the Tit-Wife, there has been comparison drawn to Baba Yaga, the witch of numerous Russian folktales). It is said that 
the Rye Mother will lure children to the grain fields and suckle them upon her iron, Ergotamine-tainted nipples, causing them to become wild and insane. 

Ergot and the Rye was also associated with wolves and included amongst the many colloquial names for Ergot are Roggenwulf (Rye Wolf), Wulfzahn (Wolf’s tooth) and Roggunhund (Rye Dog). An old Germanic saying states “The werewolf sits amid the grain.” It may be a cruel coincidence that in the harshest weather where the poor may have had no choice but to eat tainted bread (Ergot infestation also causes a considered drop in yield) were also the same conditions which may have forced starving wolves to enter the towns and villages. 

It has suggested that the name of the mythical Anglo-Saxon hero, Beowulf, translates as ‘Barley Wolf’. He is of course remembered for his battles against woeful otherworldly monsters. 
Photo 2> 
Though apparent accounts of Ergotism date back to 857AD and there is theory that the ancient Greeks and Mesopotamians were well aware of the properties of the unassuming smut on grass and folklore had drawn the association between the tainted cereal and the malady, science started to draw the link between fungus and symptoms in the 18th Century, and it wasn’t until the 20th Century that proper research was conducted upon Ergot. Whilst synthesising Ergot alkaloids in 1943, chemist Albert Hoffman accidentally absorbed traces of the active chemical d-lysergic diethylamide into his skin. His cycle ride home from work was far from the usual and upon that day LSD was born into the world. 

Though scientific and agricultural practice have sought efficient measures to counter the problems of Ergot, Ergotism outbreaks are not impossible in the modern world. In 1951 in Pont St Esprit in France, 6 people died and 130 were hospitalised (many describing being attacked by wild animals as they were admitted) following the consumption of ergot-tainted bread. 

(c) Andy Paciorek February 2009 

New art and further tales of Ergot will feature amongst the wealth of other strange and spooky stuff  in the forthcoming book 'Black Earth: A Field Guide to the Slavic Otherworld' written and illustrated by Andy Paciorek

The Legend of Sawney Bean

The Legend
Sawney Bean was born in the late 14th century, in a small East Lothian village not ten miles from Edinburgh. He began life as a hedger and ditcher, but, being prone to idleness and inclined towards dishonesty he ran away from home with a woman who was as viciously inclined as himself. Having no means to make a living they set up home in a sea cave in Galloway supporting themselves by robbing and murdering travellers and locals, and surviving on their victim's pickled and salted flesh. In time their family grew to an incestuous gang of 46 sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. Their reign of terror did not go unnoticed: for one hundreds of people went missing over the years, and the Beans became so successful in their butchery that they cast unwanted limbs into the sea. These were washed up on distant and local beaches, much to the horror of the coastal communities. In time the areas reputation reached the ears of the authorities and, in these suspicious times, many innocent people were executed for Sawney's crimes. The hardest hit were innkeepers as, more often than not, the missing person was last seen in an inn or lodgings: suspicion naturally falling on those who had seen them last. This happened on so many occasions that numerous innkeepers fled to take up other less risky occupations, and the area became a shunned and depopulated place.

Sawney's family had by now grown very large and started to attack larger groups, although never more than they thought they could overwhelm. They were confident they would not be discovered: the cave that they had chosen had kept them well hidden from prying eyes. The tide passed right into the mouth of the cave, which went almost a mile into the cliffs. It was estimated that in their 25-year reign of terror they had killed more than a thousand men women and children. They were finally discovered by fortunate chance: A man and his wife were returning from a local fayre on horseback - the man in front with his wife behind - when they were ambushed by the Bean family. The husband put a furious struggle with his sword and pistol and managed to plough through the villainous host. Unfortunately his wife lost her balance and fell from the horse, to be instantly butchered by the female cannibals, who ripped out her entrails and started to feast on her blood. Her horrified husband fought back even harder and was lucky that 30 or so other revellers from the fayre came along the path. The Bean family made a hasty retreat back to their hideout, as the man explained to the crowd what had happened. The husband went along with the group to Glasgow, magistrates were informed, who in turn told the King, James IV, who was so enthralled with the case that he took personal charge. Equipped with bloodhounds the King and a posse of 400 men made their way to the scene of the slaughter and the hunt began.

The bloodhounds get all the credit for the capture of Sawney Bean: the King's men did not notice the well-hidden cave but the dogs could not ignore the strong smell of flesh that surrounded it. The men entered the cave and found a horrible scene: dried parts of human bodies were hanging all from the roof, pickled limbs lay in barrels, and all around piles of money and trinkets from the pockets of the dead lay in piles. The Beans made no attempt to escape all were caught alive and brought to Edinburgh in chains, where they were incarcerated in the Tollbooth, and the next day taken to Leith.

The people were horrified when they heard about the crimes of Sawney Bean and his family and decided to give them a punishment even more barbaric. The execution was a slow one: the men bled to death after their hands and legs were cut off, and the women were burned alive after they were forced to watch the execution of the men. John Nicholson tells us about the execution as follows "...they all died without the least sign of repentance, but continued cursing and vending the most dreadful imprecations to the very last gasp of life."

Truth in the Tale?
The truth of the Sawney Bean legend is hard to confirm, but there are many factors which suggest the story is an 18th Century invention. It seems that the legend first saw print in the early 18th Century in the lurid broadsheets and chapbooks of the time. (See The Legend of Sawney Bean, London 1975 by Ronald Holmes for an excellent investigation into the myth.)These were all printed in England, but broadly match Nicholson's later rendering of the tale. The content of chapbooks was mainly invented and exaggerated stories about grisly deeds, executions, murders and other lurid accounts, aimed at shocking readers. They were evidently very popular and were certainly the forerunners of the Victorian Penny Dreadfuls.

According to Fiona Black in The Polar Twins, the tale was probably an English invention to denigrate the Scots, especially in the period of unrest that saw the Jacobite rebellion. There are however records of periods of famine, and some occurrences of cannibalism, in Scotland in the late 15th century.

Another sticking point is that there are no contemporary records from the time that even mention Sawney Bean. Although there are 'relatively' few records from the time, it is strange that such a high profile story, with the added involvement of the King James IV, has no historical evidence at all. There are also no records of the executions of the various innkeepers, and the disappearances of travellers in the Ayrshire area. Like many legends said to be based on fact - where contemporary evidence does not exist - it is possible that a grain of truth exists somewhere in the story. It is also impossible to conclusively prove that there is no truth at all in the story. Personally I do not think that Bean existed, but the Ayrshire coastline is steeped in dark folklore, and the Bean legend may have its root in some far away bloody deed or gristly piece of folklore that has been long forgotten.

A Local Anecdote
Local blacksmith, and psychic detective, Tom Robinson is convinced of the truth to the tale after witnessing ghosts in the cave of Sawney Bean. Mr Robinson believes that instead of being executed in Edinburgh, the Sawney family were cornered and sealed alive in their cave to die a slow, agonising death. The ghosts aren't those of Sawney and his family though, but their victims who were cursed before they were killed and eaten by the cannibalistic clan. Inside a cave, which he considered to be the Sawney home, Tom recounts how he heard a woman's scream and saw a female form dragged into the back of the cave by 12 white lights, while a male form lay immobile on the cave floor. The images faded into the cave wall. Upon further investigation, Mr Robinson returned to the site in 1991 and performed an exorcism.

Text: Ian Topham

Tuesday 15 March 2011


image from the Anomalous Lexicon of Balcan~Paciorek

Whilst I am pleased that images from this blog have been shared and the artists taken to a wider audience, I don't much care that whole pages of posts have been taken from here and used without fair credit and a link back (I have included links to the websites of living artists whose work has been shown here). For this and other reasons I will not go into, I have decided only to promote my own work (and possibly sometimes also the work of artist / writer friends) on this blog in future.