Symbolism of the Feather
Published on December 13, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 1441

Feathers symbolize ascension to the spiritual plane.  In most cultures, feathers represented higher thought and spiritual progression.  Birds were considered divine creatures because they are of the sky and therefore closer to God.

Feathers were worn by the Native Americans to symbolize their communication with the Great Spirit and to convey their celestial wisdom.  Feathers also represented the thunder gods and the power of the air and wind.  For the Native American tribes, the gifting of feathers is a high honor and they are seen as a sign of trust, strength, wisdom, honor, and freedom.

The ancient Celts and Egyptians believed the feather represented the sky gods.  Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of Justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead on the Scales of Justice against the weight of her ostrich feather to determine the soul’s worth.  Souls not worthy were eaten by Ammit, an Egyptian demon.

In Christianity, feathers represent the virtues of charity, hope, and faith.

Feathers are used in sacred ceremonies for many purposes, but different types and colors of feathers have differing meanings.  When I was little, my neighbors had a muster of peacocks and I’d always hear their calls.  To me their calls sounded like laughter, but my brother believed they were calling his name, which I found hysterical.  My mother had a big vase of these iridescence and colorful feathers in our house.  The beautiful peacock feather is a symbol of integrity and the beauty we can achieve if we show our true colors.  I’ve always admired the colors on the peacock feather.  The “eye” that adorns some of these feathers is considered to promote luck, protection, and awareness.  Many ancient cultures saw the peacock as an enchanted beast since it discarded such beautiful feathers during its annual molt.  Some see the peacock as a manifestation of the Phoenix and believe the feathers hold power.  The peacock was coveted by royalty in ancient Egypt, the penalty for a lessor individual having a peacock feather in their possession was death.

For Christians, the peacock represents the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It’s a symbol of renewal and immortality within their spiritual teachings.  The peacock often appears with the other animals in the stables of Christ’s nativity.

When you find feathers on your path, this may be a sign of encouragement for you to continue a higher spiritual direction.  Feathers are also believed to be sent from the angels as a sign to show that they are near and that you are not alone.  Oft times, they are shown to you as a message to lighten your outlook on things currently happening in your life.  Finding bird feathers is a reflection of change and reaching new levels of consciousness.  Remember that feathers appear when angels are near.

An old Scottish saying: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

A special thank you to and Ted Andrews, Animal Speak.

Blog Hop Questions
Published on December 7, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 949

Hello, I’m participating in a blog hop.  If this is how you reached my page today, then welcome to L.A. Hilden’s blog site.  Typically, I blog about the Regency period, castles, writing tips, and symbolism.  I was provided a set of questions and have given my responses in this blog.

What are you writing?

Currently, I am writing a new time travel series that involves three sister witches and their fight between light and dark.  I’ve been doing a great deal of research for this series.  Delving into the spiritual dimensions has been fascinating reading for me.  I’m only three chapters into the story, but I love the direction this story is taking.

My Regency historical A Vengeful Earl was released a couple of weeks ago.  A.V.E. is book two in the Bewildering Love series.  Aiden Northwood, the Earl of Sinclair, arrives I England to right the wrongs of his past, only to find his plans thwarted when he falls in love with Lydia Witley, a lady he was determined to destroy in the eyes of society.  I’m doing a final read on The Lady Charmer, which is book three in this series.  I plan to release T.L.C. next year.

I’m also putting the finishing touches to my next time travel release, which is book three in my Destiny series called A Tudor Displaced, which I plan to release next year. This is the story about Phoebe Bennett, a Tudor lady who finds herself in Regency England.  Phoebe is a feisty heroine who is destined to drive the Earl of Insley crazy.

How does your new work differ from past projects?

This time travel series differs from anything I’ve ever written because the love story is not the central focus of the story.  As of right now, I don't plan to marry any of the sisters to anyone, but there is tons of romance.  My new series delves further into the spiritual aspects of life as well as witchcraft.  The three sisters in my new story are Reiki practitioners.  They are decedents from the supreme witch, Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt.  The Griffin sisters were placed upon earth to help balance the scales of light and dark, regardless to realm or century.  The goddess Isis assigns them the tasks to complete.  The sisters are not in accord in regards to their destiny, and hiding their secrets from the world and their boyfriends is complicated.

Why do you write?

I love writing and using my imagination to create stories.  I tend to favor Regency England for my settings since there is something about that time that resonates with me.  Writing is my passion and I couldn’t imagine not doing so.  Stories enter my head and plot lines develop, which ends with me in front of the keyboard.

What is your writing process?

My writing process starts with an idea of a story and my imagination takes it from there.  I do not outline or plan an extensive plot.  I allow the story to tell me where it wants to go.  I have notes of funny quips, character bios, and minor plot ideas that I want to include in the story, as well as pages of research littered around me, but I don’t keep a set schedule and I tend to write when inspiration strikes.  When I do sit down in front of the keyboard, I usually write a chapter, which is about thirteen pages.  At that rate I could write a rough draft in thirty days, but that never happens. J

Symbolism and the Butterfly
Published on November 25, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 1080

I often use symbols in my stories, although readers may not always be aware of them.  Since I minored in Art History, I have studied works of art from Egypt to modern times.  The focus in all my studies was symbolism.  Symbols are used in various art forms to convey different connotations from their literal meaning.

I really don’t care for bugs, but if I had to choose a favorite, I’d have to go with the colorful and beautiful Butterfly.  The lifecycle of the butterfly consists of four stages, the egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  They represent transformation and change.  The butterfly emphasizes the ability to move from one state to the next, whether this is a life perspective, or a change in being from physical form to spirit.  The butterfly endures profound changes to become an adult, and its message is to accept the changes in our lives as casually as the butterfly.  Like the butterfly changes, so to do our soul’s by the end of our journey.

The butterfly is a powerful symbol in myth and religion.  They are often associated with the soul in many parts of the world.  To the early Christians, the butterfly symbolized the soul.  In China, the butterfly is seen as a symbol of conjugal bliss and immortality.  Native Americans view the butterfly as a symbol of joy and change.  They also believed the color of the butterfly contains it’s own message.  To the Japanese, the white butterfly symbolizes departed loved ones.  Butterflies serve as a reminder to not take things too seriously in life.  They remind us that change is not only inevitable, but that it is also good, even if it doesn’t feel that way.  So in essence, this pretty insect is telling you to lighten up and allow the heaviness and tension to fly away with the breeze, while you enjoy the ride.

Butterflies serve a higher purpose for many, and I have seen first hand how departed loved ones make use of them.  The stories I have could fill pages and I can’t help finding the heaven sent butterflies amazing.  The joy they bring to a hurting parent’s heart is priceless.  All hail the butterfly.

A Brief History of Judicial Beheadings
Published on November 16, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 3383

Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body.  Beheading refers to the act in which the decapitation is carried out for execution.  Beheading as a form of punishment has been around for centuries. This form of punishment was performed by axe, sword, knife, or a wire.  The Romans considered beheading a more humane and honorable way to die when compared to crucifixion, thus they only beheaded their own citizens and crucified the others.

The axe and sword were the favored tools used for beheading, but they tended to become dull and could only strike as hard and accurately as the headsman wielding it.  This meant that it often took a number of blows to the neck to sever the head from the body.  If a person was beheaded by sword, there was usually no block to lay the head upon and the victim kneeled as the sword struck.  A typical execution sword was 36-48 inches long and 2-2.5 inches wide, with a handle long enough for both of the executioner’s hands.  The axe, which was used more often, needed a wooden block where the person would place their head, these blocks were often shaped to fit the neck.

In England, beheading was used as a form of punishment for serious crimes since Anglo-Saxon times.  Beheading was considered an honorable way to die for an aristocrat, when compared to hanging, being burned at the stake, or drawn and quartered.  Nevertheless, beheadings weren’t a regular occurrence, and an inexperienced headsman and a blunt axe could make dying torturous.  The courageous Countess of Salisbury was struck eleven times, once in the shoulder, during a private Tower Green execution of 150 spectators, before she passed.  The 2nd Earl of Essex and Mary, Queen of Scots, required three blows to see the deed completed.

This brings us to the invention of the guillotine in the late 18th century, for this device was seen as a more humane alternative.  Although other similar beheading devices did exist at the time, none of them were adopted on such a large scale as the guillotine with its diagonal blade.  The guillotine carried out executions far more efficiently and post-Revolutionary France adopted the contraption in 1792.  This unfortunately led to the Reign of Terror in France, where more than 30,000 people met the guillotine in a single year.  France used the guillotine for state-sanctioned executions until 1977.

Guillotine Facts:

Total weight of guillotine is about 1278 lbs.

The guillotine’s metal blade weighs about 88.2 lbs.

The height of the guillotine posts average about 14 ft.

The falling blade has a rate of speed of about 21 feet per second.

The beheading takes place in 2/100 of a second.

The time the blade falls and then stops takes a 70th of a second.

There were certain traditions followed in an English beheading.  A raised platform was built and covered with straw.  A minister would offer comfort and prayer for the victim.  The victim was then expected to forgive the executioner and speak to the crowd if they wished.  The victim was encouraged to gift the executioner with a gold coin to ensure the job was done with care.  The headsman usually wore a black suit and a half mask covering his face.  The victim is usually blindfolded so they do not see the weapon coming and possibly move at a crucial moment.  The results are horrific, and as you can imagine, blood spurts from the severed arteries.  After, the severed head was held up by the hair to the crowd in an effort to teach a lesson.  Death by beheading is immediate, but stored oxygen in the brain takes about eight seconds to disperse before death occurs, which is due to the separation of the brain and spinal cord, this is why some people report seeing the eyes and mouth move on a severed head.  The heads of traitors were then displayed on top of spikes on London Bridge.  The Tower of London saw many executions but severity of punishment depended upon the crime committed.  Most executions were held in public on Tower Hill, but some executions were conducted behind the walls of the Tower at Tower Green.  These private executions were considered politically charged or the victims were female, thus certain beheadings were believed to be too sensitive for the often-riotous public.  Double hangings were rare, but they did occur during the Jacobite Rebellion.  Beheading was outlawed in England in 1747.

Over time, many began to see beheading as cruel and barbaric, in turn leading most of the world to banish it as a form of punishment.  Nevertheless, beheading is still legal in Saudi Arabia and various Middle Eastern Countries.  Saudi Arabia conducts public beheading’s for many crimes, including murder, rape, drug trafficking, sodomy, armed robbery, and others.

Some famous beheadings in the American Colonies and Great Britain:  This list could begin in Roman times and unfortunately it would end in current times.

American Colonies (Utah Territory allowed beheading as a means of execution as an option, but no one chose that option and beheadings were no longer permitted when Utah became a state.)

1586- Roanoke Indian Chief Wingina was beheaded by English settlers.
1676- New England Indian Chief Metacomet “King Philip” was killed in battle, posthumously beheaded and quartered, for resisting white settlement.  His head was displayed on a pole for 25 years in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1718- Famous pirate Blackbeard was beheaded posthumously after his capture at Ocracoke Island off North Carolina.

Great Britain (Executions in England were implemented according to birth and execution of the lower classes was usually achieved by hanging from the gallows.)

1536- Anne Boleyn, Queen of England was beheaded by sword for treason.
1541- Catherine Howard, Queen of England was beheaded for treason.
1567- Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded for treason.
1716- Viscount Kenmure was beheaded at Tower Hill as a Jacobite Rebel.
1746- 6th Lord Balmerinoch was beheaded at Tower Hill as a Jacobite Rebel.
1817- Jeremiah Brandreth was beheaded in Derby for treason.  He was the last person in Britain to be beheaded, but since beheading was outlawed at this time, he was hanged and then posthumously beheaded.

For a full list of executions at the tower of London;


A special thank you to and The History of the Guillotine by Dr. Jospeh Ignace Guillotin.

Historic Sights Part Ten
Published on November 13, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 1924

Dunguaire Castle is a 16th century tower house on the southeastern shores of Galway Bay in the County Galway in Ireland.  The castle was built by the O’Hynes clan around 1520.  The O’Hynes may have been associated with that area since 662 and Dunguaire has Celtic clan associations that go back as far as the dark ages, to King Guaire, who may or may not have ruled Connaught from a fort built near the castle’s current location.  According to archeologists, the original dun was most likely a ring fort.  The castle was transformed in the 17th century by Oliver Martin and given to his son Richard Martin (Martyn), the mayor of Galway who lived there until 1642.  Dunguaire Castle remained in the Martyn family, but because it wasn’t the family’s main seat, Dunguaire fell into disrepair.  In 1924, the surgeon and poet, Oliver St. John Gogarty purchased the castle and began to restore Dunguaire.  Gogarty held cultural meetings with literary greats like W.B. Gates and George Bernard Shaw.  These literary evenings were said to fuel the Irish revival movement.  In 1954 Christobel Lady Amphill purchased the castle and continued restorations.  Dunguaire Castle was later purchased by Shannon Development, an Irish corporation that manages historic Irish tourist attractions.  Dunguaire Castle is opened to tourists during the summer months.  A Medieval banquet is held every night and costumed performers recite poetry and play tradition Irish music.

Castle Stuart is a restored tower house located on the Moray Firth, northeast of Inverness, in Scotland.  Mary Queen of Scots granted this land to her half-brother James Stewart, the 1st Earl of Moray, and he began to build Castle Stuart in 1561.  James ruled Scotland as regent for the Queen, and unfortunately he was murdered.  His son, the 2nd Earl of Moray was also murdered, having been stabbed to death.  The castle remained unfinished until James Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Moray, completed it in 1625.  It is said the 3rd earl built the castle to protect himself from his father-in-law, the Earl of Huntly, since Huntly was believed to have been the one who murdered his father.  The fortunes of the Stuarts diminished during the English Civil War, and when the McIntosh clan members attacked the castle, the Stuart family fled.  The castle was left in ruin for nearly 300 years.  In 1977, the Stuart descendants purchased the castle, and over the next fifteen years they completed the restorations.  The castle has secret stairways, hidden doors, and clever priest holes.  It is currently a luxury hotel with eight guest rooms and is believed to be haunted.

Glamis Castle is located in the village of Glamis in Angus, Scotland.  Glamis has a long history, having started out as a hunting lodge by 1034.  By 1376, the castle was built for King Robert II’s daughter and given to her husband, Sir John Lyon, Thane of Glamis. (John Lyon was Chamberlain of Scotland and is known as the progenitor of Clan Lyon.) The castle was rebuilt in an L-plan design in the early 15th century.  When John Lyon the 6th’s wife, was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in Edinburgh, King James V seized Glamis Castle and lived there for a time.  In 1543, the castle was returned to John Lyon the 7th.  In 1606, Patrick Lyon, the 9th Earl of Glamis was made the Earl of Kinghome and he began major work on the castle.  The castle was used as a military garrison and restored after the soldiers’ disuse by Patrick Lyon, the 3rd Earl of Strathmore and Kinghome around 1606. In 1773, a billiard room, new kitchens, and new service courtyards were added.  The castle has remained the ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years.  Glamis Castle is open to the public.

Baddesley Clinton is a moated manor house located north of Warwick in the county of Warwickshire in England.  The house is believed to have been built in the 13th century.  The structure was built from Arden sandstone, quarried on the grounds.  In 1438, John Brome bought the manor, and it was eventually passed to his son, Nicholas.  Nicholas did some extensive rebuilding on a nearby parish church dedicated to St. Michael, done as penance for killing a perish priest.  The murder was said to have taken place at the Baddesley Clinton manor.  When Nicholas died, the house was passed to his daughter, who married Sir Edward Ferrers.  Sir Edward was the High Sheriff of Warwickshire.  The Ferrers remained Roman Catholic Recusants after the Reformation, along with much of the gentry in this area.  There are several priests holes and secret passages created throughout the manor that were used to shelter Catholic priests.  The manor remained in the Ferrers family until 1940.  It was sold in 1980 to the National Trust.

Brief History of Judicial Hanging
Published on October 16, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 4449

Hanging has been a method of capital punishment since medieval times.  The act of hanging is carried out by suspending a person by the neck from a gallows or gibbet of some sort.  There are four different methods of judicial hanging.

Suspension hanging is a short drop, where the weight of the body tightens the noose upon the trachea.  This causes the person to slowly die from strangulation and can take up to ten to twenty minutes before death.  There is little to no struggle since the main arteries are blocked and blood flow to the brain is reduced.

Short drop is when the noose is placed around the neck and the rope is then tied to a horse or vehicle before the object is moved away.  Stools and ladders were also used for this type of hanging.  Short drop hanging causes the person to slowly die of strangulation, again this takes between ten and twenty minutes.  Before 1850, the short drop was the standard method of hanging and is still common in suicides and lynchings.

Standard drop is a drop between four and six feet.  This distance began to be used in 1866, when an Irish doctor, Samuel Haughton, sought a more humane method for hanging.  The standard drop was enough to break a person’s neck, thus causing immediate paralysis, immobilization, and unconsciousness.

Long drop was a scientific advancement from the standard drop.  Instead of everyone falling the same distance, a person’s height and weight were taken into consideration to determine how much slack in the rope to ensure that the distance would cause a broken neck, but no so much that the person was decapitated.  Careful placement of the knot in the noose was also taken into consideration and positioned under the chin to assure the head was jerked back enough to break the neck.

Prior to 1892, the standard drop was the customary four to six feet, which caused the neck to break between the 2-5th cervical vertebrae.  Since this caused some decapitations, the length of the drop was shortened between 1892 and 1913.  After 1913, other factors were taken into account to reduce the force delivered in the drop.

Hangings in England were a part of judicial execution since the Anglo-Saxon period.  In the 19th century, the children of England were punished in the same manner as adults and could be sentenced to death for petty theft.  During the Regency Era, in the year 1814, five children under the age of fourteen were hanged at the Old Bailey, the courtyard outside of Newgate Prison.  The youngest child was eight years old.

Before 1783, the traditional site for hangings in England were conducted at Tyburn, a settlement west of the city of London, which was used for eight hanging days a year.  The gallows were then moved from Tyburn to Newgate Prison, which was London’s main prison.  The reason for the move was due to the journey from the prison to Tyburn, which tended to draw a carnival like crowd.  This festive atmosphere ruined the warning the authorities hoped to evoke with the sad journey to meet the hangman.  With the move, the gallows were also changed to include a trap door in which the hanged person would drop.  The public hangings always drew large audiences, and although the gruesome sight was done to deter crime, the atmosphere was riotous and the condemned were often pelted with fruit and stones.

The offences that were considered capital crimes were often debated in Parliament, since many of these crimes were by modern standards, misdemeanors.  Criminals could be executed for stealing items valued above a shilling.  From 1810-1820, the House of Lords voted six times to remove theft from the capital crime list.  With England’s poverty level so high, desperate people were willing to steal rather than starve.  England’s alternative from hanging was transportation.  Transportation of criminals began in the 16th century, but only after the Transportation Act of 1718 did transportation become a viable form of punishment.  Prisoners were shipped to the American colonies between 1718-1775, and then to Australia after the American Revolution.  Transportation of criminals ended completely in 1868.  This is also the same year that hangings were removed from the public eye and moved indoors.

A nobleman sentenced to death could forgo hanging and choose the death of a nobleman, which is to be beheaded by a swordsman, but this penalty only applied to treason, not murder.

The death penalty was mandatory in the United Kingdom until the Judgment of Death Act of 1823 passed, which allowed judges to commute the death penalty except for treason and murder.  In 1965, the Murder Act was passed which suspended the death penalty for murder.  In 1969, the House of Commons reaffirmed its decision and abolished the death penalty permanently for murder and all crimes.

Here’s a break down by country in the United Kingdom, although it’s not easy to gleam from surviving records if all these death sentences were carried out.  During the period of 1735-1799, the number of males executed in England was 6,069, females 375.  Thirty-two of these women were burned at the stake.  In Scotland, the number of males executed was 209, whereas the women 26.  Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands had zero men or women executed in those years.  During the period of 1800-1899, in England, male executions were 3,365 whereas women were 172.  In Scotland the number of males was 275, females 15.  From the years 1900-1964, the numbers dropped dramatically, with 748 males being executed in England and 15 females.

Although my books take place in the United Kingdom, here’s some information about U.S. hangings.  Hanging was the most popular means of execution in America.  In colonial America, hangings were conducted in public for all to witness.  As the years passed, many of the states lessened their number of capital offenses, and because of these changes in the laws, hangings began to decrease.   Of course, in other states there was an increase in hangings, such as in the south with slavery and lynchings or the Wild West, where lawlessness and crime flourished.  The judges were known to be strict in these untamed western areas and hangings were commonplace since more offenses were punishable by hanging.  Between 1830-1920, people’s views changed and many were seeing the cruelty of public hangings, while others considered it a great spectator sport.  There were often vendors and merchants selling souvenirs and alcohol near the gallows.  By 1835, more and more states were performing private hangings.  The introduction of the electric chair in 1890 also led to a steady decrease in hangings.  The state of Arizona switched to the gas chamber as its primary means of execution, believing it a more humane way to execute after a botched hanging in 1930.

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court found hanging to be in violation with the eighth amendment of the United States Constitution.  But the Supreme Court overturned the ruling, and in 1976, capital punishment was legalized again.  Nevertheless, hangings are only legal in the states of Washington, New Hampshire, and Delaware, but even in these states, it is extremely rare.  A Delaware killer was hanged in 1996, this was the 3rd U.S. hanging in thirty years.


A special thank you to, Jane Austen’s England by Roy and Lesley Adkins, and

Historic Sights Part Nine
Published on October 14, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 2848

Caerphilly Castle is a medieval fortification in Caerphilly, South Wales.  The castle, which encompasses thirty acres, was constructed in the 13th century and is surrounded by manmade lakes.  Caerphilly Castle is considered the second largest castle in Britain, second to Windsor Castle.  The castle is said to have introduced the concentric castle defense, which is described as a castle nestled inside another, with an outer wall protecting the inner wall.  The castle is also known for its huge gatehouse.  Originally, the gatehouse could only be reached by two drawbridges.  Caerphilly featured a network of moats and dams that were said to be the most elaborate water defenses in Britain, and inspired by Castle Kenilworth, which I spoke of in a previous post.  Caerphilly was a masterpiece of military strength and design.

Alcázar of Segovia is a stone fortification located in the city of Segovia, Spain.  The castle is built upon a rock cliff above the rivers of Eresma and Clamores.  Segovia Castle is shaped like the bow of a ship, making it distinct from other castles.  The fortification first began as an Arab Fort, which was built atop the remains of a Roman fort.  The castle is believed to have been built in the 12th century, after the city of Segovia returned to Christian hands. The palace was enlarged and added to during the next four centuries.  During the middle ages the castle served as a royal palace.  It has also served as a state prison, a royal Artillery College, and a military academy.  In 1862 a fire destroyed much of the structure and it was rebuilt two decades later in a more romantic style.  Segovia Castle is one of the castles that inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

Margam Castle is a mansion built in Margam, Port Talbot, Wales.  The first human habitation of the site dates back 4000 years.  The site held an abbey in the 11th century.  Margam Castle is a revival castle that was built in the 19th century during the Gothic Revival in architecture.  The castle was commissioned by Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot and was constructed from the years 1830-1840.  The palace was sold in 1941 but soon fell into disrepair.  In 1977, a fire caused substantial damage and soon after restoration on the castle began.  Today the castle is listed as a historic landmark.  The castle has been shown on paranormal programs and is believed to be haunted.  According to a Margam County Park reporter, “The number of paranormal stories coming from the castle on a regular basis could make this property a contender for the most haunted house in Britain.”

Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th century Romanesque Revival palace located on a rocky ridge in Bavaria, Germany.  The palace was intended for the reclusive King Ludwig II of Bavaria.  King Ludwig II had been fascinated by the medieval legends in Richard Wagner’s operas.  Motifs for Wagner’s operas are seen in paintings and murals throughout the interior of the castle. Unfortunately, Ludwig did not live long enough to see his dream castle completed, but he did spend eleven nights in the castle before his suspicious death in 1886.  Ludwig II had wished to create a private refuge, but only seven weeks after his death, the castle was opened to the public.  The complex consists of several individual structures decorated with towers, turrets, and sculptures.  The castle was created to look older than it was, and unlike authentic castles, Neuschwanstein Castle had luxuries such as indoor plumbing and forced air heating.  The castle is one of the most visited castles in Germany and is known as the fairytale castle.

Following Your Roots and My Native American Sweat Lodge Experience
Published on September 24, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 1823

Over the last several months, I have been spending some of my time delving through documents and research to construct my family tree. I had help from some of my family that came before me, and I use the template to follow my lines.  Unfortunately, there are family lines I could not follow, my paternal grandfather being orphaned at a young age is making discovery difficult.  For now, I’ve focused on my maternal grandfather.

I have always known we had Native American Heritage in our family tree.  I did not however know that my 6th generation great-grandfather was Tecemseh, who married White Wing Cornstalk, giving birth to my 5th generation great-grandmother, Skwato, who married Irish early American settler, William Rainey.  They were Shawnee Indians and once I found this line, I had to keep digging.  When I followed Tecumseh's wife’s line, I realized White Wing Cornstalk had a mother of German decent.  Her German mother, Elizabeth See, married Native American, Young Peter Cornstalk, his family also of the Shawnee.  When I followed this line, which goes a long way, I come to Thomas Pasmere Carpenter from Devonshire, England, who married Pride Chalakahatha, my 11th generation great-grandmother.  Her mother was Namontack; she’s the sister of Pocahontas, who married John Rolfe.  Which in turn makes their father, Wahunsonacock Chief Powhattan, my 13th generation great-grandfather and that also brings us to the years 1545-1618.  My amazement didn’t come from finding my Native American heritage, but rather the great importance of my forbearers.  I am impressed and proud of the histories I have read in regards to my ancestors.


This brings me to my experience in September, when I was invited by my shaman to participate in a Native American Sweat Lodge.  I of course said yes for what better way to connect with my heritage.  The sweat lodge was a wonderful, healing experience.  It’s as black as pitch inside the dome structure, and the door flap is raised four times to bring in more heated stones according to the ceremony’s purpose.  Picture sitting in complete darkness, the sound of the drum thrumming through your insides as the words of Native American songs seem to echo from the shaman, while the sweat pours off your body like never before.  I moved to the beat of the drum in my cross-legged position, seemingly knowing the words to the songs and wishing to sing them, but I assumed the people inside the structure with me would surely wonder what I was about.

The experience of the sweat lodge is something I will always remember, and will likely participate in again.  I’m also likely to start collecting Shawnee artifacts as well, but that cannot be helped.  I’m curious to know where the other Native American lines fit into my tree and who these people were, but for now I’m continuing with the lines that are there for me to follow.  Louis the Pious and Charlemagne were two of my great-grandfathers, which takes me all the way back to the medieval period.  And yes, now I’m amazed all over again.  I know everyone does not have time to research their past ancestry, but if you do have the opportunity, I believe you will uncover some fascinating details that will amaze you too.

As of right now I am Welsh, English, Irish, Scottish, German, Italian, French, and Native American, yes it is a hodgepodge of nationalities, but I love it.  I now know that my ancestors through my maternal grandfather’s line were some of the first American settlers, and I know there are tons of stories waiting to be written about these people.  Perhaps one day I shall shift my focus from Regency England, but that day is not yet here, which means it’s time for me to go back to work on my new Regency novel in the Wintergale Orchard series.

Mitakuye Oyasin (we are all one)

Drugs and Addiction in Regency England MAGIC MUSHROOMS
Published on September 23, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 2579


Liberty Cap (Psilocybe Semilanceata) and Fly Agaric (Amnita Muscaria)

Many plants and fungi’ were used by ancient tribes and civilization as a means to enter the spiritual world.  Ritual use of psychedelic mushrooms dates back to the Neolithic age (9500 B.C.).  Cave art from Northern Italy depicts mushrooms being used by shamans and for use in sacred ceremonies.  In Guatemala, a group of “mushroom statues date back to 500 B.C. and have been interpreted as evidence that the ancient people once worshipped the mushroom.”  Ancient Druids of Ireland used Liberty Caps and Celtic warriors drank potions with the mushrooms before going into battle.  Central and South America cultures built temples to mushroom gods.  At the time of the Spanish invasion of Mexico in the 1500’s, the Liberty Cap was held sacred by the Aztecs.  The mushroom gets its common name from its resemblance to the Phrygian cap.

Phrygian cap

The mushrooms contain the psychoactive compound of psilocybin.  The Liberty Cap is one of the most widespread “magic mushrooms” in the world.  They can grow solitary or in groups and can be found in pastures, fields and grasslands in the fall.  The mushrooms produce an altered state of consciousness and hallucinations.  The psychoactive in the mushroom will cause intoxication if eaten.

A documented report of magic mushroom intoxication involved a British family in 1799. The family prepared a meal with the mushrooms they picked from London’s Green Park.  According to chemist Augustus Everand Brande, the family experienced symptoms with ingestion, pupil dilation, laughter, and delirium.

Fly Agaric grows all over the world and is stronger than the Liberty Cap mushrooms.  Fly Agaric’s contains ibotenic acid.  Shamans of N.E Asia and Siberia used this type of mushroom.  Currently, Fly Agaric use is rare, but Liberty Caps are still popular.

Although the hunting for these mushrooms does occur, people not familiar with identifying Liberty Caps may eat the wrong kind of mushroom, which could be fatal.  The strength of a magic mushroom depends upon the size, age, and storage, making it impossible to know the potency.  Hallucinogens affect everyone differently and once you take these mushrooms, you have about nine hours to deal with the effects because a “trip” cannot be stopped.  Even the smallest of mushrooms can be deemed the most potent, which is why they are deemed illegal in many countries, including the US, Canada, and all of Europe.  Whether the mushrooms are fresh or dried, they have the same Class A drug status as heroin, LSD, and cocaine.

A special thanks to and Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon’s, Book of Poison.

Gentlemen Clubs in Regency England
Published on September 2, 2013 by lahilden | Views: 2007

Gentlemen Club’s were social gathering places for many men in Regency England.  Unlike the clubs in the U.S. today, there were no exotic dancers.  Women were not allowed.  Men in Regency England often belonged to one or more of these establishments.  Nevertheless, these clubs were more than just places to escape female society and partake in gaming and gossip.  These clubs served as meeting places for business, political strife, or social climbing.  Party leaders, artists, poets, publishers, barristers, and people with many common interests met in these places to speak “off the record” and to network with like-minded individuals of influence.

In my time travel, Destiny Series, the three lords purchased an old coffee house and refurbished it into The Back Room Gentlemen’s Club.  Inside one of the club’s rooms, there lies a time portal.  This portal brings travelers from the past and future and drops them in the center of the men’s club in the early 19th century.

These establishments were luxurious with rich upholsteries, marble fireplaces, and thick carpets.  The club was a place filled with gambling, gossip, and indulgent behavior.  Where the food is top quality and the membership is exclusive.

The three most famous clubs of Regency England were White’s, Brook’s, and Boodle’s.  The common denominator between these three clubs is the fact that they were the clubs that allowed gambling.  All clubs had their own bylaws and rules on conduct and behavior, which had to be followed or you could lose membership and be permanently blackballed.

But like all establishments, these top three clubs were each known for certain clientele.

White’s is the oldest and most exclusive gentlemen’s club in London.  The Italian immigrant, Francesco Bianco, originally established the club off of Curzon Street in Mayfair in 1693.  It was called Mrs. White’s Chocolate House and they sold hot chocolate.  The club began to sell tickets to events in town for the King’s Theatre and the Royal Theatre on Drury Lane.  This selling of tickets led to the transformation of White’s to an exclusive club by 1736.  In 1753, White’s relocated across the street after the original club burned down.  White’s was moved to 37-38 St. James Street, and from 1783 it was known as the unofficial headquarters for the Tory party.  Due to its growing popularity, a second club was formed called the Young Club, the two clubs merged in 1781.

The structure is built of Portland stone with a slate roof.  Consisting of three stories, it is the Victorian version of the Palladian style, with French elements.

White’s was perceived as the intellectual leader and the most exclusive of the three.  Although White’s was also considered by some to be the bane of the aristocracy, for many men lost more than they could afford to lose, bringing shame and poverty to their families.  While, White’s catered to the Tory party, Brook’s catered to the Whig party.  There were, however, some men that belonged to both clubs.  Members were elected and voted upon by using a system of white and black balls secretly deposited into a special box at each election.  A single black ball denied you membership, hence the term to be blackballed.  The Prince of Wales once favored White’s until his friend Jack Payne was blackballed.

In many romance novels, I have read of White’s infamous bow window and the table that sits there.  This window was added to the structure in 1811, and this privilege seat is mentioned in one of my novels.  It was a table that could be seen by passer-byers and used by the club’s most socially influential.  Beau Brummell was known to be a constant ornament to this special table until he moved to the continent to avoid debtor’s prison.  Lord Alvanley took the honor after Brummell’s departure.  I should also mention the infamous White’s betting book, where men bet on sports, political developments, and who’d beget the first heir between friends.  Brook’s also had a betting book, and I’m sure other clubs recorded similar wagers.

The members of White’s deemed whist a dull game and gambled deeply in hazard, faro, and other games of chance.

Brook’s Gentlemen’s Club was founded in March 1764, by twenty-seven prominent Whig nobles.  The clubhouse was built in yellow brick and Portland Stone in a Palladian style.  The interior is neoclassical in design.  It is located on St James Street, London, England and is one of the oldest gentlemen clubs in London.

Brook’s was known to have a political atmosphere, due to the young, founding members whose fathers’ were deeply entrenched in the Whig party.  Through fatherly influence, these twenty-something year olds were indoctrinated in politics and the concept of liberalism from an early age.  As you can imagine, hopeful Whig politicians began to flock to Brook’s, and within a few years it was an unofficial headquarters for the Whig party.

Due to the vastness of the founders’ wealth and influence, Brook’s gained a reputation for wild behavior and excessive gambling.

The Prince of Wales joined Brook’s so that he could talk to Charles James Fox and enlist his support in Parliament, which speaks of the clubs political influence.

Boodle’s was founded by Lord Shelburne, the future Marquis of Lansdowne and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in 1762 and located at 49-51 Pall Mall, London.  The club was moved in 1782 to the clubhouse at 28 St. James Street, London, England.  The club’s namesake is taken from the headwaiter that worked there named Edward Boodle.

Boodle’s is second to White’s as London’s oldest gentlemen’s club.  This club was said to have been frequented by country squires and the fox hunting set.  Heavy gambling took place at Boodle’s, but the club was not associated with a political party.


Other Regency Clubs

The Royal Society was known as a meeting place for scientists, engineers, explorers, botanists, and astronomers of their day.  It was also frequented by soldiers, poets, bishops, musicians, and writers.

Alfred Club was said to attract men of letters and writers.  Lord Byron was a member of this club to which he found it, “Literary, pleasant, and sober.”  In 1811, the Alfred Club had 354 men on their waiting list.

Four Horse Club was known to cater to the younger set who knew how to handle the ribbons of horses with expert skill and they tended to race around recklessly at high speeds.  At its peak, the club only held 30-40 members.

Watier’s was founded by the Prince of Wales chef in 1807.  The club was known for its fare and deep gambling, but closed in 1819.  From what I’ve surmised, the closing was due to the high level of gambling.

A special thanks to Venetia Murray, An Elegant Madness