Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Southern Haunting

True Hauntings of the South

By: CK Webb

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

With the college football world, and of course my state, still buzzing over Alabama’s win in the BCS National Championship game, I couldn’t think of a more suiting place to explore for ghosts than Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The University Of Alabama

Situated in the heart of Tuscaloosa is the beautiful campus for the University of Alabama.

Established in 1831, the university catered to around 100 students at its inception. With the strain of the civil conflict looming and the inevitable coming of the Civil War, the university saw its share of conflict. Discipline and student behavior was a major issue at the university almost from the day it opened. Early presidents attempted to enforce very strict rules where conduct was concerned. Students were prohibited from drinking, swearing, making unauthorized visits off-campus, or playing musical instruments outside of a one-hour time frame. Even with all the rules, riots and gunfights were not an uncommon occurrence. To combat the severe discipline problem, President Landon Garland lobbied and received approval from the legislature in 1860 to transform the university into a military school. As such, many of the cadets who graduated from the school went on to serve as officers in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As a result of that particular role, Union soldiers burned the college to the ground on April 4, 1865. Only four buildings survived the burning: the President's Mansion, Gorgas House, Little Round House, and Old Observatory. Though the campus was eventually restored to its former glory, ghostly happenings began to take shape, and the history of the university became ripe with, not only school spirit, but a few ‘ghostly spirits as well.

One of the more common ghost stories is that of a union soldier who was murdered while in the cadet guardhouse. The guardhouse, now known as Jason’s Shrine or The Little Round House, has had numerous reports from students and faculty who claim to have heard the young cadet wandering around in the room, only to have the sounds disappear upon their inspection.

Other ghostly reports include the feeling of being watched in the basement and a shadowy figure on the 13th floor of Tutwiler Hall. This ghost is said to be that of a female student who committed suicide by lighting herself on fire.

There are also claims of the sounds of horses and buggy, footsteps following behind, and even reports of people being touched by a hand that they cannot see. There have been voices heard and even desks scattered all around in the classrooms where a boiler exploded many years ago, killing several students.

The ‘Quad’ is also a hotbed of activity and many reports have noted seeing four confederate soldiers marching about, the sounds of cannon and gun fire and even voices shouting military style orders.

Denny Chimes on the Quad

I have seen these places first hand, and though I have never had any ‘ghostly’ experiences of my own while on campus, the long and rich history of the place makes it a prime area for residual and intelligent hauntings.

Old Bryce Mental Institute

Commonly called "Old Bryce", the institution was used for over one hundred years and is now in terrible decay. In the 1960’s it was shut down and almost everything was left behind. Today you can still locate old patient records, chairs, mattresses, wheel chairs and other medical medical equipment in the dilapidated building. Late at night, strange sounds can be heard such as footsteps when no one is there, and banging on the walls and metal structures. There are also several cemeteries that belonged to the hospital where many patients were laid to rest.

One of Bryce Cemetery Historical Markers

If you plan on going for a visit, it would be a good idea to get permission. The grounds and cemeteries are patrolled by security and Bryce is still considered ‘private property’.

The Drish Mansion

17th Avenue

Completed in the late 1830’s then transformed between 1860 and 1862 into a hybrid, bracketed Greek Revival Italianate Villa, the Drish Mansion is one the most unusual antebellum mansions around. After the Drish family sold the property, the mansion became a suburban focal point and was remodeled in 1887 and then surrounded by a traffic circle with wondrous views down each of the newly laid streets and avenues.

Dr. John Drish had originally constructed the home for his wife Sarah. When Dr. Drish died, Sarah burned candles in the upper room as he lay in state before his burial. After the funeral, Sarah put the candles away and requested that the same ones be used at her funeral. As Sarah grew older, it is said that she became obsessed with the candles being burned at her funeral and made friends swear to grant her last wish. But, after her death, friends and family were unable to locate the candles and Sarah’s last wish was never granted.

Shortly after her passing, the tower where Sarah had burned the candles for her husband spontaneously caught fire. But, when fire crews arrived, they were shocked to find no flames and no evidence of smoke or fire. The ‘ghost fire’, as it has come to be known, was reported several more times and many people wondered who or what could be causing the strange happenings. One night, after one of the fires was reported and then mysteriously vanished, the first ever sighting of the Sarah Drish ghost was documented.

Today the Drish Mansion is again in a serious state of disrepair and in need of a caretaker, but that has not stopped the reports of the ghostly figures and unexplainable fires. If you get close enough and look to the highest room in the tower, you can see the faint glowing reds and oranges of the ghostly flames flickering in the night.

With its long and vibrant history, the city of Tuscaloosa has some wonderful stories to tell. Though I have highlighted a few haunts from Tuscaloosa, by no means have I told all the tales that this college town has to offer. If you ever find yourself in Tuscaloosa, make sure you indulge yourself with some of the finest food in the South, visit the beautiful campus of The University of Alabama, stop into the Bryant Museum for a look at history and venture out into the lights, music and wine bars of the night scene. If you find yourself in Tuscaloosa and are searching for something on the darker side, take a detour to one of the fabulous places that I have told you about and test out your nerve.

That feeling of being watched or of that cold, unexplained breeze on the back of your neck may be just the thing you need to push Tuscaloosa, Alabama to the top of your favorite haunts list!

*Though I have highlighted several documented haunted sights from the city of Tuscaloosa, it is by no means all of them. Below is a list of a few more places that deserve recognition for their ghostly inhabitants and for the things there that go bump in the night.*

The Jemison-Van De Graff Mansion Tuscaloosa

The Jemison Center, Northport

Battle-Friedman House, Tuscaloosa

The University Club, Tuscaloosa

Maxwell Crossing, Tuscaloosa

The Amelia Gorgas Library and guard shack, Tuscaloosa

Monday, April 16, 2012


Cast your vote for WEBBWEAVER REVIEWS in the Independent Book Blogger Awards

These awards highlight the amazing talent in book blogging today.

You may vote once in each of four categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Young Adult and Children’s, and Publishing Industry. Voting closes Monday, April 23 at 11:59pm ET.

WEBBWEAVER REVIEWS http://bit.ly/HWQKW has been around for three years. In that time we have made a ton of wonderful friends, met some really great writers and picked up a few fans along the way. WebbWeaver is in the running for the Independent Book Blogger Awards on Goodreads and we would love to have your vote!! There will be 15 blogs chosen for the semi-finals, but only 4 blogs will win. The winners will receive airfare, hotel stay and passes to Book Expo America!!! Those of you, who know us well, know how badly we have wanted to attend events such as this one and that DJ and I would be incredibly humbled to get your votes. Thank you for being such fabulous family, friends, colleagues and fans… Win, lose, or draw we adore each and every one of you!!
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to vote, but registration is simple and quick!!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A SOUTHERN HAUNTING: True Hauntings of the South

There are a million reasons why someone might want to come to the south and a million things to do, see and experience while you are here. There are beautiful cities, rich, wonderful foods and historical buildings and sites that mark major turning points in the history of the United States, but NOTHING seems quite as intriguing as the South’s deep rooted love and connection with… ghost stories.
I have been asked dozens of questions about living in the south from the far-fetched (Do you have indoor plumbing?) To the truly absurd (Do you fry everything you eat?) In case you are curious, I do have indoor plumbing and don’t actually know anyone who still uses an outhouse. I don’t fry everything I cook, but if I could, I just might! The one question I have never been asked is, ‘Are there really that many haunted houses in the south?’ My answer to this would be a resounding… YES!!!
For the next several months I will be tackling as many of the local haunts as I can and delving deeply into their past to see just what we can uncover. For some of my visits I will be interviewing owners, curators and even those who believe they have seen a ghost in these famous or not so famous haunted places. I will also be sneaking out and trying to get a glimpse of these spectral beings and the properties they haunt and even snapping a photo or two to get you, the reader, a little closer to the south; a little closer to the place I call home.
I set out to find as many haunted houses or buildings as I could and then narrowed it down to the ones with documented sightings. These included any photos of full bodied apparitions or unexplained orbs, any EVP’s that were taken with clear disembodied voices and of course, any homes or buildings that are on the National Historic Registry and are open at any time for tours based on their individual hauntings. What I found was mind blowing. In Columbus, Mississippi (the town where I was raised) there are five documented cases of hauntings within private residents and ALL are available for tours in the early spring months and are registered as landmarks. My whole life I knew of only one, Waverly Mansion, and now I find four more have been there all along just under my nose.
I could write for days and never come close to a complete listing of every haunt that I was able to find just in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia & Louisiana! So, I have decided to find the ones that I hold particularly near and dear in my heart and share them with you.
Just down the road from my current home in Alabama is a very famous haunt that boasts an extremely interesting story to go along with its very long history.
Pickens County courthouse is located in Carrolton, Alabama in Courthouse Square. Easily one of the more famous haunted buildings from this area, the courthouse has seen its share of Ghost Hunters and ghost investigations. With a little digging on the Internet you can come across a ton of information as well as some pretty incredible EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) that are available from the investigations that took place there.
The Pickens County Courthouse has a long history dating back to the early 1800’s, but it would be November 16, 1876 that would change the town and add a harrowing twist to the courthouse’s history. It was on this date that the Courthouse burned to the ground for the second time. The first burning had come at the hands of Union Army soldiers during the chaos of the American Civil War. Carrolton Courthouse was the pride of Pickens County during those years mostly because it had been rebuilt during the Reconstruction Era, a time when money and resources were scarce for all Americans. The locals became so outraged at the second burning of their beloved courthouse that they set out for some swift justice of their own. Although nothing was ever proven, the local people believed that a hooligan by the name of Henry Wells was the perpetrator of the heinous crime.
Henry Wells was never given the opportunity to plead his case in court… his would be a much more malevolent and infamous type of justice. As a black man during a very tumultuous time in our nation’s history, a time when racism was rampant, Henry Wells quickly became an easy target. He was accused of burning down the courthouse and was arrested two years later in 1878 and charged with arson, burglary, carrying a concealed weapon and assault with intent to murder. He was whisked away and taken to the brand new jailhouse located inside the newly re-constructed courthouse. When word of his whereabouts spread, an angry mob was assembled and made their way to the courthouse.
As the mob assembled at the base of the courthouse steps, Wells became afraid and (as the story goes) it was then that he began to shout: “I am innocent. If you kill me, I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your lives.” Just as they were about to break through the doors and drag Wells from the courthouse, lightning struck and Wells was killed instantly. What remained behind was a permanent imprint of Wells face etched into the windowpane in the room where he stood as he died that night.
No one in the town noticed the window until daylight broke and it was then, while walking past the courthouse steps, that locals looked up and saw the haunting image of Henry Wells looking down over Carrolton, Alabama.

That same piece of glass is still in the window to this day and no amount of washing, scraping or the passage of time can remove the stain.
If you go to the courthouse in Carrolton you will find an old historical marker which reads:

If you walk just a few yards from that sign you will find a magnifying viewer that points to a lone window on the courthouse and for twenty-five cents, you can get a close up look into the face of Henry Wells.

Just remember, if you are ever in these neck of the woods, be sure to bring your camera and maybe, just maybe you might get a glimpse of this Sothern Ghost.
By: CK Webb

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WRITING A SERIES by: Kara Lennox

A BIG, HUGE thank you to Kara for taking the time out of her busy writing schedule to share a wonderful post on writing a series. You can pick up a copy of Kara's book TODAY and you can also leave any comments or questions you have for her at the bottom of her post.

There’s no doubt readers love connected books. They become invested in a certain world and eagerly await each new installment. It’s fun to revisit the heroes and heroines of former books, like spending time with old friends, and to anticipate the romances between characters you know you’ll see starring in future books.

But writing a connected series is harder than it looks. It takes more than simply moving characters from one story to another. You have to plan, from the very beginning, where the series is going, and you have to plot at least three books ahead so that you can set up the stories you want to tell in future books. For example, you can introduce the hero and heroine for Book Two in Book One as secondary characters and show how sparks fly between them so readers are anxious to pick up that next book. Or, you can set up a mystery that carries over several books.

You also have to keep track of all the people, their ages and descriptions, the locations, and you have to establish a time line so if a character is pregnant in Book #2, you know how old the baby is in Book #5. You think you’ll remember, but you won’t. If you don’t keep track of the details, they’ll come back to bite you. I have the floor of an office building lobby as marble in one book, and wood in another. Dang it! (Now I keep a detailed “series bible” with descriptions of characters and settings, time lines, etc.)

Before I started Project Justice, my ongoing romantic suspense series for Harlequin Super Romance, I’d written several trilogies. I at first envisioned Project Justice as stopping at three books. So I created three heroes and three heroines, setting up a mystery that would carry over for all three books, and planting hints in Book One for the romance in Book Two, etc.

Then, after all three books were turned in, my editor said she wanted three more in the series.

I was jumping up and down with excitement … at first. This was the first time any editor had wanted more of a series from me. But then I realized that I hadn’t set up anyone else to star in their own books. I had to hustle up some heroes and heroines from the existing cast of characters to populate the new trilogy.

Book #4, which is the one that came out this month, Outside the Law, wasn’t so hard. I already had introduced an evidence analyst from the lab in previous books and hinted that she might have the hots for a Cajun computer hacker, so it seemed natural to give them their own story. For Book #5, I still had Billy Cantu in my back pocket. He was one of the Project Justice investigators mentioned in passing in the earlier books. So I gave him a larger role in Book #4, and a starring role in the next book. I paired him with another minor character, a consulting psychologist who had appeared only in one scene, in the first book.

But, Book #6 had me stumped. Who was left?

Then, inspiration struck. The billionaire hero of Book #3 had a personal assistant, Jillian, who had appeared in every book. The problem was … she was a bit of a pill. She tried to break up her boss’s romance, and at one point she was even suspected of trying to kill someone. But I liked her; she was flawed, but real and fully formed in my mind. I just had to find a way to make her sympathetic and show that she was remorseful for her less-than-heroic behavior.

I did it by revealing that she’d been an overweight, homely teenager who had suffered a major humiliation at the hands of her high school crush. Then I made that crush her new boss. I also made it clear that she was trying to repair her reputation by working hard and being a good employee, despite the fact no one trusted her.

Finally, I gave her an admirer. Cranky Celeste, the septuagenarian office manager who seldom has a kind word for anyone, sees something of herself in plucky Jillian and takes the young woman under her wing. (The hero of this book, Hidden Agenda, is an entirely new character. It will be available in July.)

Now, my editor wants more Project Justice books. Having learned my lesson, I tried my best to set up characters for future books. I have at least one couple’s story worked out, but books #8 and #9 are going to tax me. I’m in awe of the authors who plot out a dozen books from the very beginning. It’s like playing chess, thinking ahead several moves, and I never was very good at chess. With each new book, the world gets more complex, the cast grows larger. More and more balls in the air to juggle

Still, I’ve had more fun writing these books (and more aggravation!) than any I’ve previously written. I’m looking forward to expanding the series indefinitely.

Kara Lennox

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blog Tour Stop March 13, 2012

Please don't miss the Blog Tour on Twisted Webb March 13, 2012. We will have a wonderful post by Kara about writing a series, as well as a glimpse at her upcoming novel from Harlequin!!

Kara Lennox, a.k.a. Karen Leabo, is the award-winning, bestselling author of more than sixty novels of romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin and Random House. Currently she is working on the next installment of her romantic suspense series, Project Justice, published by Harlequin Super Romance. Also, several of her classic Bantam Loveswept novels (writing as Karen Leabo) are soon to be re-released in e-book form by Random House. Her novels have finaled in several contests including the Rita, the Reader’s Choice award and the Holt Medallion. Romantic Times awarded her a Reviewers Choice Award.

Prior to writing romance, Karen was a freelance writer with hundreds of magazine articles published, as well as brochures, press releases, advertisements and business plans. Her former clients include Working Woman Magazine, Hallmark Cards and Marion Merrill Dow.

Karen has written ten screenplays, three of which have been optioned by Hollywood, New York and overseas producers. She lives with her writer/publisher husband and several pets in a shabby-chic (heavy on the shabby) Victorian fixer-upper in Southern California. When not writing or sanding floors, she loves bicycling, bird-watching, hunting for flea-market treasures, painting and making mosaics.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Magic, Monsters & Mythical Creatures: WIZARDS

We have talked of witches, dragons, Leviathan and the Basilisk, but this series would be incomplete if we did not delve into the mystery of…


In the beginning of the days when magic took the forefront of the human psyche, there were two types of common spell casters. There were priests, who gained their powers from their deity or gods, and there were sorcerers, who worked their magic without any divine assistance, using sheer talent alone. Wizards, who required neither divine assistance nor talent, but seemed to be born with their powers, came later on.

The origins of a wizard’s talents are not clear, but every culture has its own explanations which add to the ever growing legend. The most popular explanation is that the person in question has either a deity or a demon in their family bloodline. Some cultures think the talent comes from having draconic blood, while others believe that sorcerers are the descendants of great heroes who took their magic from other races, typically dwarfs, either by force or with trickery. There are even some cultures who believe that wizards are given their power as a sign of favor from one of the elemental lords.

The origins of wizardry itself are a bit more solid and can be traced back to ancient cities where the Gilded League now holds sway. It is there that the first wizards began to study the magical arts and learn to cast, rather than simply wield the power they had. Nobody is quite certain who the first wizard was or how he learned his craft, but some legends tells us he learned by sneaking into a god's workshop and spying on him as he practiced his powerful spells. The legend tells us the wizard sought to learn the secret to working magic the way the gods did without being dependent on a talent as the sorcerers were. Dwarfs and elves however, claim a different origin for their wizards. The dwarfs claim wizardry developed as a natural extension of their skills as craftsmen, while elves claim their wizards were taught by gods.

The first recorded wizards appeared thousands of years ago in prosperous cities. Theirs was an art involving conjuring and summonings that had been adapted from the rites of evil clerics. They called on demons, devils, and other hideous beings and then made dark pacts with them in their search for knowledge and power. Death and madness were the ultimate risks for wizards and all those who kept company with them. More often than not, the biggest danger that wizards faced came from their fellow wizards who were always seeking to further their craft. Defeating another wizard and stealing his knowledge was the easiest way to learn and far less dangerous than dealing with the foul creatures that bubbled up from the belly of Hell itself.

As a result, magic became a secretive profession with all knowledge jealously guarded and only taught to the rare apprentice. Though a few were rich men who paid exorbitant sums for a chance at great power, all too often such apprentices were only clever youths taught just enough to be of use in the lab who supplemented that education with whatever scraps of knowledge they could filch on their own. The latter were often never intended to be anything other than menial helpers and only managed to learn enough to become a wizard in their own right. Because of this, most wizards were only half trained and possessed incomplete knowledge with the predictable dangers associated with it.

Even with such terrible risks and such jealously guarded knowledge, wizardry spread. Every culture has people who will do anything for power and they sought out wizards for training. Thus, over the centuries and millennium, the wizard's art spread throughout the world.

Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard featured in the legends of Arthur. The character first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written in 1136. The writer claims to have gleaned all his information from historical documents and scrolls that track the life of this mysterious and well known wizard. The stories of Merlin have survived decades of time and each new generation places its’ own unique spin on the ages old tale. The newest Arthurian tale with a Merlin twist is HBO’s original series, Camelot. In it we see a more conniving, plotting Merlin who is actually afraid to use his powers because he cannot control them. When he does use them, they suck the very life from his body.

Another wizard that is famous from the literary world is Gandalf. He first appeared in 1937 in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Gandalf was first introduced as Gandalf The Grey and reintroduced later as Gandalf The White when he was brought back from the abyss of death. Other Tolkien books featured this well-known wizard and followed the hobbit’s journey into the very fires of Mordor. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King all carried Gandalf as a central character. The books were later adapted to film and directed by Peter Jackson in 2001. Receiving 13 Academy nominations, The Fellowship of the Ring took home four Academy Awards and is, to this day, the 19th highest grossing film of all time. The Two Towers and The Return of the King would also be adapted to film and become classics from our time and see their fair share of Academy nominations and wins. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the highest grossing film trilogy of all time and brought in a whopping $2.91 billion dollars worldwide.

I would step on a few toes if I failed to mention some more famous wizards from our time… The wizards of The Harry Potter series. In the series written by J.K. Rowling, we meet Harry Potter, an ordinary boy with extraordinary powers. As the series progresses, we watch Harry hone his skills as a wizard. In the meantime, we are introduced to a whole cast of wizards including Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape. Though the series is considered a young adult series, there are some extremely dark elements to the book and some of the wizards within its pages. As the series progresses, it becomes more and more harrowing as wizards began to kill other wizards in an attempt to be more powerful.

Through books and film we have discovered magic, monsters and mythical creatures. Though many of these things are fiction they still hold a very real place in our hearts and minds. They allow us to see possibilities we could not see before and they allow us to dream. We can dive into a fictional world filled with wizards, witches, dragons, Leviathan and the Basilisk and we can, for a short while, believe. Though these magical, mythical beings may not exist in our world, there is a wonderful place where we can go to find them all. It is a world filled with pages from great writers and the stories they have told, with films that we have fallen in love with, and full of dreams that can only exist in the most magical of places…

It is our imagination, and with it there are no boundaries and magic IS real.

CK Webb 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Magic, Monsters and Mythical Creatures

The Basilisk and Leviathan

Sometimes magic, monsters and myth collide. The end result is something far more elusive and harrowing than we care to believe. Whether they are fiction or real, the Basilisk and Leviathan are creatures that will not be denied their rightful place in our worlds. Ever present not only in literature, but in film as well, they have woven themselves into the very fabric of some cultures and are truly the stuff that nightmares are made of. Though similar in some ways, their traits vary considerably and give each creature its own unique flair and its very own killing style.

In some European legends, a Basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents due to the crown-shaped crest upon its head. Alleged to be hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent or toad, the Basilisk is rumored to cause death to anyone who locks eyes with the beast. One of the earliest accounts of the Basilisk comes from Pliny the Elder's Natural History, written in 79 AD. In it, he describes a monstrous, cow-like creature of which "all who behold its eyes fall dead upon the spot”. It is also believed that the venom of the Basilisk is so destructive that the creature leaves behind a burnt and scorched earth as it slithers across the landscape.

Many writers have been seduced by this legendary monster and brought forth their own ideas and slight variations of the beast. Geoffrey Chaucer featured a ‘Basilicok’ in his famous Canterbury Tales. He made use of the legend which states that basilisks can be killed by hearing the crow of a rooster or gazing at itself through a mirror. Chaucer would incorporate one of these killing methods in the legend of the basilisk of Warsaw. This tale would see the Basilisk killed by a man carrying a set of mirrors.

More and more stories added to the enormity of the Basilisk’s reputation and gradually added to the Basilisk's killing powers as well. Some began to describe it as a large beast capable of breathing fire and killing with only the sound of its voice. Some writers would even claim that the Basilisk could kill by touch and could even kill by touching something that a poor soul was touching. So, a sword held in the hand of a great warrior would yield almost certain death the very moment the hero struck the killing blow into the creature. All of this death came from a beast that would become the guardian and traditional symbol of strength for the city of Basel in Switzerland.

Many other writers would toy with the idea of this mythical monster and introduce it to millions of readers in the process. William Shakespeare, Samuel Richardson, Alexander Pope, Voltaire and even Charles Dickens dipped their quills into the world of this mythical monster and referenced it and its killing power in their work. Of course, the most famous telling of a Basilisk tale today is most likely J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. In this novel, the Basilisk, an enormous, snake-like creature with monstrous fangs almost kills Harry with its deadly venom, but he is saved by the tears of a phoenix.

Artists would also put forth their renditions of the Basilisk. Leonardo da Vinci included a Basilisk in his Bestiary. He describes it as so utterly cruel that when it cannot kill animals or humans by its baleful gaze, it turns upon the earth and withers everything in its path.

Unlike the Basilisk, Leviathan is widely claimed as a sea creature. In demonology, Leviathan is hailed as one of the seven princes of Hell and known as its gatekeeper.

Mentioned several times throughout biblical text, Leviathan finds its history deeply rooted in the traditions of Near Eastern Mythology and dates back as far as the 3rd Century BC.

In the Canaanite myth, ‘Liviathan’ was considered an interpretation of the chaos that spilled forth at the beginning of the Universe’s creation. From this chaos, a seven headed, fire-breathing crocodile-like dragon was formed. He lurked in the depths of the sea and waited for an opportune moment so he could rise up and steal away unsuspecting victims. A great warrior named Anat fought Leviathan and bound him in chains, bringing order to the universe. Though the tale ended there, it is believed that Leviathan is not dead, but simply waiting for the day when he will again rise up from the depths and destroy us all.

Beliefs about Leviathan and its origins vary greatly from one culture and religious background to another. If you are a Christian, Leviathan is a bringer of death sent forth by Satin himself. On the other hand, according to Anton Szandor LaVey, the author of The Satanic Bible, Leviathan represents the element of Water. The element of Water in Satanism is associated with life and creation. In The Satanic Bible, Leviathan is known as one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell.

We see two different takes on a mythical monster that looks the same to both groups and yet, is so very different in its intentions.

Other variations of this monstrous creature would show up in great literary works and the name Leviathan would become synonymous with any large creature living in the ocean. One in particular would become an instant classic and introduce us to a new spin on the Leviathan tale.

In 1851 American author Herman Melville published his novel, Moby Dick. The story tells the adventures of a wandering sailor named Ishmael and his voyage with Captain Ahab. The captain has but one purpose, to seek out a specific whale: Moby Dick. The whale is described as a ferocious and elusive white sperm whale that, in a previous encounter, destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg. Ahab becomes consumed with bitter anger and longs to seek his revenge by killing the beast.

Leviathan would also gather some film credits when in 1989 a movie of the same name was released. Often compared to Alien and The Thing, Leviathan’s storyline focused on underwater deep-sea miners. After finding some Soviet wreckage, the crew brings back deadly cargo to their base on the ocean floor with horrifying results. The crew must then fight to survive against a genetic mutation as they are hunted down and killed one by one by LEVIATHAN!

Though their similarities are unmistakable, the tales behind the Basilisk and Leviathan could not be farther apart. Whether you are a fan of the classic tales or have only recently been introduce through Harry Potter, chances are you will not soon forget these monstrous and mythical creatures. Steeped in magical folklore and transported through time by literature, paintings and film, the Basilisk and Leviathan will surely be with us for hundreds maybe even thousands of years. I cannot tell you whether these creatures exist or if they are merely a figment of a most active imagination. The question still remains: Are they magic, monsters or mythical creatures… only you can decide.
CK Webb for Suspense Magazine