Blood Magic

Book 9 in the Wyrdwolf series

Book 9 in the Wyrdwolf series
May seemed like a great month for Izzy to join Marnie and Ishbel for an enjoyable bitchy weekend at a B&B they all love. She had no plans to fall heavily in lust with another guest there. And no intention at all to become trapped by a lethal horde intent on murder. Or worse.

All seems well until the guests take part in a Roman Hallowe'en ritual to appease the unquiet dead. Instead of pacifying a few local spirits, this sets in motion something that threatens all the living in the house. As the descent into hell begins, Izzy and her friends realise that each of the guests in the house has a secret, and that their survival depends on gathering scattered fragments of information.

As the hours pass, it becomes impossible to move around the house to collect what they need. Even the help of Declan and Michael is no guarantee that any of them will get out of this one alive. As they piece together their grim jigsaw, Izzy and her companions find that what is happening is part of a deadly market in souls. And there is only one way out - if one of them is willing to pay the blood price.

The ninth book in the Wyrdwolf series draws on Roman and Greek mythology and rites, British and Irish folklore, Voodoo magic and classical necromany to create a claustrophobic thriller set in a real world B&B. Set in the borderlands of England and South Wales.

Blood Magic - on sale in Kindle or print editions, via Amazon.

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  • True BitsIf you want to know which of the folklore and history in the books is true

True Bits in the book

Chapter 1
Brownies are household spirits from British folklore.

Chapter 2
Religio Romana (RR) is the name given to pre-Christian Roman beliefs and culture by modern followers of the religion.

Ergi/argi (Old Norse) = effete/homosexual. It was the worst insult in Heathen culture. Poofter (offensive) is a British slang equivalent.

Versipelles = ‘pelt changer’ in Latin = werewolves in Roman mythology.

The ancient Roman Republic was governed by magistrates. The two consuls were the most senior, followed by praetors and quaestors.

Marcus makes the fica sign. What is said about it and the evil eye sign is true.

Even numbers were considered unlucky by the Romans.

The Lemuria was the major Roman rite for pacifying unwelcome, unwanted or malicious ghosts. It took place on the ninth, the eleventh and the thirteenth of May.

In Roman mythology, Rome was founded by the brothers Romulus and Remus. They argued about which hill their city should be built on and Remus was killed either by Romulus or by one of his supporters.

According to the Roman poet Ovid, the Lemuria was in honour of Remus.

The Roman author Pliny the Elder (CE 23–79) said that the name of the Fabia tribe came from bean.

Pope Boniface IV began celebrating Christian martyrs on the thirteenth of May during the 7th century. The date was changed to the first of November during the 9th century to coincide with pagan Germanic celebrations.

Raucus’ proposed offerings to the manes (the loved dead) is authentic.

Anima (Latin) = life spirit, soul.

Romans of either gender wore veils when engaged in religious activities.

Silvanus is a god of the borders between domesticated and wild places.

Juno was regarded as a goddess of marriage and family life, as was Frigg in Heathen mythology. According to the Poetic Edda Lokasenna 26, Frigg bedded Odhin’s brothers.

Chapter 3
The Welsh town of Caerleon was the headquarters of Legion II Augusta – one of four Roman legions in Roman Britain. The amphitheatre is well preserved.

The Roman re-enactment societies Legio II Augusta (second Augusta), Legio VIII Augusta (the ‘Eighth’) and Ermine Street Guards exist.

The Primus Pilus was the senior centurion of the first cohort in a Roman legion

Rufus (Latin) = red.

We have no evidence for any Roman military salute. What little there is shows something much more relaxed than modern salutes.

The most senior centurion in a Roman legion was known as the primus pilus (first file or spear).

Romans generally kept the ‘tria nomena’ of a private personal name (praenomen), clan name (nomen) and a public personal name (cognomen).

Melisilla (Latin) =  little badger.

Taken the boat – in Roman mythology, Charon ferried souls across the river that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.

The description of the Roman Lupercalia is accurate.

St Albans (Roman Verulamium) was the second-largest Roman town after London.

Aedile was a Roman magistrate above the level of quaestor and below praetor. They were responsible for the regulation of public festivals and had powers to enforce public order.

Vigiles were the firefighters and police of Ancient Rome.

Roman cognomen were frequently ironic. One of the theories about Julius Caesar’s name was he was dubbed Caesar (hairy) because he was balding.

In Roman mythology, there is no association between werewolves and the full moon.

Chapter 4
Cirencester Museum has an excellent collection of Romano-British mosaic floors and other Roman artefacts, including the celebrated Orpheus floor.

Hellene (Greek) = a Greek, especially an Ancient Greek.

In classical mythology, Orpheus could charm animals by playing his harp. The myth about the rescue of his wife from the Underworld exists. He lost her by looking back to check she was following him out of the Underworld.

One of the accepted pre-Christian representations of Cernunnos is in the Cirencester Museum. As Koura says, there aren’t many across Europe and some are disputed.

Chapter 5
Defixiones and necromancy are part of Classical magic. Defixiones are curse tablets and were usually made of lead.

According to Ovid, the first night of the Lemuria began at midnight. Fasti (festivals) book 5 (May).  

Examining livers (and other entrails) and observing the flight of birds were two of the principal means of divination in ancient Rome.

Domina (Latin) = lady, Mistress.

The Strophalos of Hecate is mentioned in the Chaldean Oracles (2nd to 3rd century CE). My image and Marnie’s explanation of it is based on a popular modern symbol and its associations. The Classical understanding was probably a spun wheel used as a theurgical tool, rather like a Buddhist prayer wheel.

Ouroboros is an ancient symbol (with this meaning) that passed from the ancient Egyptians to ancient Greek magic.

In Heathen mythology, Jörmungandr/the Midgard Serpent surrounds the earth and grasps its tail. It’s one of Loki’s children. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 34.

Torches are part of the Classical iconography for Hecate.

Chapter 6
The Roman goddess Ceres (Greek Demeter) is associated with agriculture.

The information about Hecate comes from Classical mythology. The theories about her exist.

Most of what we know about the Lemuria ritual comes from the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – 17/18 AD).

The Lemuria ritual generally follows Ovid’s description, though I made a couple of small alterations. Instead of nine bean-castings and prayers, I made it nine times nine. Also, I included the pots throughout instead of leaving that to the end.

What Marcus says about May and February in the Roman religion is true.

Chapter 7
Marcus makes the horned sign against the evil eye.

Calu is the Etruscan god of wolves. The Romans absorbed the earlier Etruscan culture.

The ‘human myth’ about Rhea Silva, Romulus and Remus the she-wolf and Acca Larentia comes from Roman mythology, mainly from the Roman historian Livy.

Some tales of Acca Larentia were that she was a prostitute. Lupa is Latin for wolf and was a slang term in ancient Rome for a prostitute.

Ovid (in The Fasti book 2) claimed that the Fabian tribe supported Remus and the Quinctilian tribe Romulus.

The Saracen’s Ferry across the River Wye at Symonds Yat exists.

In Classical mythology, Charon is the ferryman for the dead. His payment was an obol. This was a small coin placed on the eyelids of the dead.

Chapter 8
Larvae (Latin) = masks. In Roman mythology, larvae were the worst type of lemures (malignant spirits).

The Fabian and Quinctilian tribes formed the two colleges of the priests of the Lupercalia.

Acca Larentia was probably an Etruscan deity.

Culsans and Culsu are Etruscan deities of doorways. Culsans was similar to Roman Janus, while Culsu’s doorways were to the Underworld.

In the Roman culture, rituals were carried out to protect women in childbirth from molestation by Silvanus. (Augustine City of God 6,9).

Hecate and Mercury are both associated with the Underworld.

Weston’s cider mill in Herefordshire is over a hundred years old.

Chapter 9
What Marcus says about Roman keys is true. The image is of such a key.

The word grail comes from a medieval Latin word for dish.

What is said about the Nanteos Cup is true, except for its history. That is based on a statement by the Cup’s owner in 1878.

Chapter 11
What John says about the goblet is true.

What Marnie says about the Last Supper is true.

Chapter 12
The information about the Sluagh in this chapter and the next is true. They appear in Scottish and Irish folklore.

Red-figure is a type of ancient Greek pottery design.

Ovid held that the Lemuria began at midnight when the 9th began.

Chapter 13
Hecate’s titles are from ancient Greece. The information about her is true.

In Irish and Scottish folklore, west-facing windows were sometimes kept closed to keep out the Sluagh. Knives and scissors were removed from the rooms of the ill and weak for fear of cutting their ties with life.

The Mercuralia occurs immediately after the Lemuria.

A quaich is a shallow two-handled drinking cup or bowl used in Scotland.

Chapter 15
The information about the Genoese Chalice and the Jerusalem Chalice is true.

The information about the Holy Grail and the Holy Chalice is true.

Chapter 16
The information about the Antioch Cup is true.

Chapter 17
Vodou veves exist and are for the purpose described. The loa are gods and a mambo is a Vodou priestess. What is said of Maman Brigit and the Gede is true.

Graveyard dust is a common component of Vodou magic.

you dey help, abi (Nigerian pidgin) = you’re going to help, aren’t you?

Papa Legba is a loa in Haitian Vodou. He is the intermediary between humans and the loa. He gives or denies permission to speak with the spirits (gods).

Chapter 18
In Heathen mythology, at Ragnarok Frey (Freya’s brother) fights the leader of the fire demons without his sword. Poetic Edda Gylfaginning 51.

The prayers to Hecate were compiled by me from ancient Greek texts, mainly: Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44 and Orphic Hymn 1 to Hecate.

Chapter 19
The information about the Valencia Cup is true.

In Classical mythology, black animals were used as offerings to Chthonic (Underworld) gods.

The details of the necromancy ritual are closely based on the one in Homer’s Odyssey book 10.

Chapter 20
The spirit of Herakles (Greek/Hercules (Roman) is conjured by Odysseus in the Odyssey book 10.

Chapter 21
The quote is from the Bible, John 1:5, King James Version.

The description of the shape of the lamp is accurate for a Roman design.

Chapter 22
Hecate is associated with serpents. See Sophocles The Root-Cutters (fragment) or the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius. As with other cultures, dragons in Greek mythology were a form of serpent.

Chapter 23
Assisted suicide was not legal in the UK in 2013. It was available in Switzerland.

Chapter 25
In Greek mythology, aether was thought to be the pure essence that the gods breathed. As quintessence, it was the fifth element used by medieval alchemists. It was thought to rid the body of any impurities or illnesses.

In medieval alchemy, the Philosopher’s Stone was said to turn base metals into gold and to enable rejuvenation.

What is said about John the Presbyter/Prester John is from medieval Christian folklore.

Chapter 26
Thomas the Rhymer was a historical character who lived in the Scottish Borders in the 13th century. He appears in Scottish folklore as someone lured into Elfhame.

The Victorians split the poor into deserving (those who were poor through no fault of their own) and undeserving.

Hellfire Club was a name for several clubs for high society rakes in the 18th century. The famous one met in High Wycombe.

Chapter 27
Gwydion fab Dôn is a magician, hero and trickster of Welsh mythology, appearing most prominently in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi.

Chapter 28
Qumran was a religious community in Judea 1st century BCE to 1st century CE. Pottery goblets of the kind described were found excavating the ruin.

There is an academic theory that two types of cups may have been used at the Last Supper.

What is said about the Jewish Passover seder is true.

The information about the Prester John legend and the details of Arthurian stories and their authors are true.

Chapter 29
Best and Greatest (Optimus Maximus) is a title given to Jupiter by the Romans.

Come friendly bombs and fall on Sluagh is a corruption of the first line of Betjeman’s poem Slough: ‘Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!’  

In Heathen mythology, the goddess Hel rules a kingdom with the same name. 

Chapter 31
In Heathen mythology, Bifrost is the rainbow bridge to Asgard, where the gods live. It will break at Ragnarok.

Chapter 32
In Irish mythology Tír na nÓg (Land of the Young) is one of the names for the Otherworld.

Chapter 33
Gwydion’s ritual is a parody of the Anglican communion service.

Chapter 34
In Heathen mythology, the Norns tend wyrd (fate).

In ancient Roman mythology, the Parcae (Fates) were female personifications of destiny who directed the lives of humans and gods.

Chapter 35

Memories Are Made of This was written by Terry Gilkyson, Richard Dehr, and Frank Miller in 1955. The most popular recording was by Dean Martin.

Yo se yon dwol kaka (Haitian Creole) = they are a mouthful of shit.

Three Years previously

There is a hotel in Copenhagen that resembles an Indian palace.

Fremragende, tak (Danish) = Excellent, thank you.

Orlog is a concept from the Heathen religion related to wyrd. It can be expressed as the total of everything that has made someone the person they are. Wyrd is a Heathen concept related to fate.

Miss Havisham is a character from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. After being jilted at the altar, she only wears her wedding dress.

The tale of Aphrodite and Tithonus is from Greek mythology.

The Hunger is a 1983 vampire film directed by Tony Scott. It was adapted from a novel by Whitley Strieber.

Urdh is one of the great Norns.

Chapter 36
Bon! (French) = good!

Rozzers (British slang) = police.

Chapter 37
‘No passing go; no collecting £200’ is a reference to the board game Monopoly. It was used as a metaphor of going somewhere without deviation.

Urtication (flogging with nettles) was reputedly used in Rome for sexual pleasure. In Petronius’ Satyricon chapter 138 it is used to cure Encolpius’ impotence.

Toy soldiers is SAS slang for the Territorial Army.  

Chapter 38
Tata (Latin) = Daddy.

Chapter 39
Regurgitation is induced in wolves by licking the muzzle of an adult. It’s a way for adults to transfer undigested food to cubs.

The Romans believed Avernus to be the entrance to the Underworld.

Chapter 40
The information about tribunes and ancient Roman law (forced suicide) is true.

The description of the statue of Mercury is authentic to Roman depictions.

The prayer to Mercury during the Mercuralia ritual is from Orphic Hymn number 27, translated by Thomas Taylor.

Temerarius (Latin) = reckless or foolhardy.

In ancient Rome, the Praetorian Guard was an elite protection force.

Chapter 41
The rune pictured at the start of the section is a combination of several runes to form a type of sigil called a bindrune.

The description and portrayal of Maman Brigit and the Baron are authentic to Vodou. They are the head of the Gede loa.

In Roman mythology, Mars is a god of agriculture as well as war.

Mercury’s titles come from ancient Greece.

Chapter 42
In the Classical religion, rams were sacred to Hermes and red mullet to Hecate.

Roman soldiers used a short sword.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, Ammit existed to devour hearts that failed the test when weighed against the feather of Ma’at.

Chapter 43
The meanings for gifu and cen are from the Anglo Saxon rune poem.

Chapter 45
fais-tu la sourde oreille (French) = are you deaf? (Literally – are you turning a deaf ear?)

Tu es un chenapan complet (French) = you are a complete scoundrel.

Chapter 46
The Centuriate Assembly of the Roman Republic was a way Roman citizens could vote on matters of state. Only the Centuriate Assembly could declare war.

Chapter 47
Gardener’s Question Time is a long-running radio programme on BBC Radio 4.

The information about The Godfather is true.

Chapter 48
Bien sûr (French) = of course.

Pas de titres, hein? Appelez-nous par nos noms, s'il vous plait? (French)No titles, eh? Call us by our names, please.

D’accord. Ce que vous voulez, Michel (French) = Okay. Whatever you want, Michael.

Voulez-vous une table dans la cour? (French) = would you like a table in the courtyard?

Slavery exported Vodou from West Africa to Haiti and other countries. Houngan is the Haitian word for a Vodou priest. Mambo comes from Yoruba.

Fon is spoken mainly in Benin by the Fon people.

The Holodeck is a fictional device from the television series Star Trek.

Chapter 49
Survivor guilt is a recognised medical condition.

Parisians desert their city in August if they can.