Friday, February 19, 2016

Witches and Onryo – The Vengeful Spirit

It’s witch weekend! The movie The Witch has just released. After seeing the preview, I'm pumped to go see the movie today. It's also a perfect weekend to have guest author Catherine Cavendish talk about witches, demons, vengeful spirits and share an excerpt from her scary book The Pendle Curse.

Onryo – The Vengeful Spirit
 by Catherine Cavendish

In addition to witches, I often write about devils and demons, revenge and retribution. I am not alone, of course. Ancient traditions of vengeance abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world, often involving demons and other creatures from the paranormal. One such character is Onryo – a mythological spirit found in Japanese folklore. Actually there wasn’t just one of them, but many, and onryos are usually (though not exclusively) female.

An onryo is an angry and vengeful spirit who returns from the depths of the Otherworld. In life, she has been a gentle and inoffensive, non-assertive woman, but she has been ill-used by her brutal and aggressive husband and, after death - frequently at the hands of the wicked husband - her spirit has blackened. She has also become immensely strong and dangerous and will stop at nothing to gain her revenge.

Onryos first appeared in Japanese folklore around the 7th or 8th century and rapidly became embedded in legend. They have but one aim in death - to punish their abusers with unbearable and eternal torture if they should dare to continue to use aggression on their new women.

So powerful were the stories of this vengeance, that onryos became one of the most feared legends in Japan and other Asian countries by the early 1900s. The old legends didn’t describe their appearance but, as more and more men were attacked by them, a picture began to emerge.

They are usually described as slender, beautiful and dressed in a white, bloodstained kimono. Their veins stand out as green and purple and they have long black hair, covering their faces. When angered their hair bristles as if electrified, revealing a deformed face, frequently with a mouth, but no eyes or nose.

An encounter with an onryo usually starts by their intended victim finding a seemingly unconscious woman collapsed on the floor. As they approach her, the man will feel the onset of a sudden migraine and chest pains. As they near her, they will hear strange, unintelligible sounds coming from the woman – similar to weeping, or whispering in an unfamiliar language. Then, the onryo will stand and levitate towards the victim, reaching out to capture him with her hands. Now the woman is surrounded in a dark aura and makes deep, unearthly growls.

In some instances, the onryo will kill their intended. In others, they will curse the abusive husband and his family, and even sentence any woman he makes intimate contact with to death. They have also been blamed for causing anything from earthquakes to fires, storms, drought, famine and pestilence in their quest for vengeance.

They are still feared to this day…

Now, here’s the blurb for The Pendle Curse:

Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.

Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there. But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.

Here’s a short extract from the beginning:

His spirit soared within him and flew up into the storm-clad sky as blackness descended and the rain became a tempest.

He flew. Lost in a maelstrom of swirling mists. Somewhere a baby cried until its sobs became distorted, tortured roars. Beyond, a black void loomed. He saw Alizon’s spirit just ahead and tried to call out to her, but his voice couldn’t reach her.

Beside him, another spirit cried out. His mother. He flinched at her screams before they were drowned in the mass—that terrible parody of some hideous child.

The blackness metamorphosed. An amorphous shape formed as his eyes struggled to see with their new vision—the gift of death. Small baby limbs flailed towards him. Eyes of fire flashed as a toothless mouth opened. Screeching, roaring and demanding to be fed. Demanding its mother.

His spirit reached out for his lover. Tried to pull her back. “Alizon!”

She turned anguished eyes to him. “It calls to me.”

He recognized it instantly. The blazing fire. The devil child. That cursed infant had come for them.

Again he reached out with arms that no longer felt connected to him, but he was powerless to stop Alizon being swept away, deep into the abomination’s maw.

“No!” His cry reverberated around him—a wail of anguish in a sea of torment.
Then…silence. Only he remained, drifting in swirling gray mists of time.

“I will find you, sweet Alizon. One day I will find you. And I will find the one who betrayed us.”

From somewhere, he heard an echo…

You can buy The Pendle Curse here:

About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain as is her novella – Dark Avenging Angel. Her latest novel –The Devil’s Serenade - will be released by Samhain on April 19th, 2016.

You can connect with Cat here: