A Wolf in the Aurora Borealis?



Lapland!  The very name conjures up images of  winter magic, glistening pine trees and husky-drawn sleds. This is the elfin north where the Snow Queen resides in her palace of ice. Wild wolves roam, caribou cross, and of course there are the dazzling Northern Lights, sure to inspire any imagination. Or any photographer.

In December of 2015, Marja-Terttu Karlsson of Pajala, Swedish Lapland took the above photograph. Much to her surprise, when she transferred it to her computer screen she was able to see a vivid and clearly depicted wolf, prowling there among the stars!

Ms. Karlsson displayed the photo on Facebook, where it quickly went viral. Observers have been skeptical of its authenticity, but Ms. Karlsson claims it is real and unaltered.

The Aurora Borealis — or Northern Lights — appear as grandiose displays of color in the night sky, most visible in Alaska and countries near the north pole. They are produced by solar winds colliding with the arctic atmosphere. In recent years, scientists and astronomers say there has been an increase in shapes and brightness within them, due to the sun’s activity.

Or… maybe mythology is true? The sacred wolf watches over us, almost unbeknownst to humankind except in such rare moments, caught on film.

What do you think?

wolf gif






Happy Birthday Marlene Dietrich



Decades before  Madonna shocked audiences by planting a kiss on the unsuspecting Brittany Spears at the 2003 VMA awards, there was Marlene Dietrich!

She was an actress, singer and activist, born on this day, December 27, 1901 in Berlin, Germany.

Dietrich, an outspoken bisexual, wowed the world with cross-dressing and gender bending long before gender fluidity was even a concept. She deep kissed her female costar in the movie Morocco, way back in 1930.


Born to humble beginnings but with a decided love of the stage, Dietrich started out in chorus and vaudeville, quickly making her way into silent films in the 1920’s.  It was her role as the decadent cabaret performer Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel (1930)  that brought her international fame. With it came a contract at Paramount Pictures.

Her style may not have been suited to everyone, but a certain section of Americana could not get enough of this Berlin siren.


She  moved to the United States that same year, and went on to star in several motion pictures, including Shanghai Express and Blonde Venus. She was nominated for an academy award for her role in Morocco.  Throughout her career she enchanted audiences with her languid smile, sexy voice and smoldering eyes that understood the world, perhaps all too well.

Dietrich was married to director Rudolf Sieber. They had one daughter, named Maria, born in 1924.  However, Marlene had numerous lovers  — apparently all approved by her husband.  Reportedly she had affairs with: Gary Cooper, Douglas Fairbanks Jr,. John Wayne, James Stewart, Orson Welles, Lili Damita (wife of Errol Flynn), Claudette Colbert, Dolores del Río,  the French singer Edith Piaf, and possibly Greta Garbo.

Hollywood beauties come and go, but one unique thing about Dietrich was her anti-Nazi activism. In 1937,  when the Nazi Party was on the rise, Marlene was vacationing in London. Officials from the Nazi Party approached her and offered her a lot of money to return to Germany and become film star in the Third Reich.  Marlene flat out refused! She returned to the US and applied for citizenship, which was granted in 1939. Throughout her life she remained a politically active United States patriot.  She also renounced her German citizenship in 1939.

Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s Dietrich took a radical humanitarian stance against the Holocaust.  She created a fund to help Jews and dissidents escape from Germany.  She donated her entire salary from the movie Knight Without Armor (a whopping $450,000 — which was worth a lot more back then!) to help the refugees.

In December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II, and Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to help sell  US war bonds. She toured the US from January 1942 to September 1943 (appearing before 250,000 troops on the Pacific Coast leg of her tour alone) and was reported to have sold more war bonds than any other star.

The soldiers loved her!

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During two extended tours in 1944 and 1945 Marlene performed for Allied troops in Algeria, Italy, the UK and France. She then followed General George Patton all the way to the front lines in Germany.  When asked why she had done this, in spite of the obvious danger, she replied, “aus Anstand“— “out of decency”.

Marlene continued to perform throughout her lifetime.  She even had a cameo role in a movie called Just a Gigolo, with another cross-dressing icon, David Bowie, in 1979.

In the 1980’s Dietrich was keen to see the fall of the Berlin Wall and a unified Germany. She reportedly stayed in contact with world leaders by telephone, including Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.  Her monthly telephone bill was over $3,000.  That is a lot of talking!  Perhaps she, along with Reagan, was pleading “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” 🙂

Dietrich died in Paris in 1992, at the ripe old age of 90. She was given a ceremonial funeral, attended by nearly 2000 people. The United States Medal of Freedom was displayed at the foot of her coffin in honor of her duty.

Because the Berlin Wall had by then been dismantled, Marlene requested in her will that she be buried back in Germany with her family.  She was interred at the Städtischer Friedhof IIIBerlin-Schöneberg, next to the grave of her mother, Josefine von Losch, and near the house where she was born.

Here is an English version of  her famous song “Falling in Love Again”.  Hope you like it!


Happy Birthday Marlene!






Quiz: Which Christmas Fairy are You?


christmas fairy

As Yuletide continues, so the fairies of winter continue to entice and enchant us with their holiday magic.  Shakespeare had Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Titania and Puck. But did you know that your life path number, combined with your personal proclivities and most cherished Christmas traditions can earn you a fairy title as well?

Which magical Christmas fairy are you? Take this quiz to find out!

Magical Fairy Quiz

 ** A note about calculating your Life Path Number: It’s super easy! Just add up all the numbers in your date of birth and reduce them to a single digit.  For example, a person born on April 1, 1999 would add 4 (as April is the 4th month) plus 1, plus 1999.

4 + 1 + 1 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 33.    3 + 3 = 6. This person’s Life Path Number is 6.

Does your fairy name fit you? Let me know in the comments below!


Mine was:

 Aqua Sparkleflip!

You’re a sweet, compassionate little fairy who wants the BEST for everybody involved!   Your gift of enchantment is bringing everybody together and whispering words of balance and harmony through the air.   You are loving, loyal and trustworthy, and everybody knows they can count on you to bring your purity and charm to the festive table!
christmas fairy 3

Have a blessed and brilliant Yuletide.








Lucia and Lussi: Celebrating the Darkness and the Light


Lucia 1

Today, December 13, marks the well known festival of Saint Lucia. But it is also a celebration for her lesser known counterpart, the witch Lussi. This is a magical time of delicious darkness as we wait for the Winter Solstice. Fairies, elves and all sorts of supernatural beings are said to be out and about on their Wild Hunt.

The Christian feast day of Saint Lucia is celebrated with songs, a procession, and a young girl being selected to play the role of Lucia. This girl wears a white robe with a red sash, and a crown of lingonberry greens with seven candles.

(A strategic balancing act! No fires reported so far.)


Originating in Sweden, these processions are now conducted in Finland, Denmark and Norway. (And sometimes the US and Canada.)  In these cold and bleak nights before the Solstice, the vibrant figure of Lucia wearing a wreath of candles is a great reminder that the sun will soon be returning.

The chosen Lucia is at the center of a procession of girls, all clothed in white robes with red sashes as symbols of purity. They sing hymns and carry special cakes  (called lussekatter.)  However, the fairies and elves are also out on their Wild Hunt    (called Oskoreia.)  Traditions holds that if during the procession the girls hear the sound of the Wild Hunt behind them, they should toss one of the cakes over their shoulder to appease the elves.

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Who was the real Santa Lucia? Ironically, she did not start out as a Swede. She was originally Sicilian. The story goes that Lucia was helping Christians hiding in the catacombs by bringing them food and water while they dodged persecution from the evil ruling empire. Lucia, always a resourceful girl, put candles on her head to light her way and was thus able to hold more food in her hands.

Lucia was martyred for her Christian activities in 304 CE.  Legend has it they attempted to burn her on a pyre, but she remained alive. A Roman soldier then tried to kill her by slicing her throat. No luck. Stubborn Lucia did not die until she was given the Christian sacrament of Extreme Unction.

She became a very popular saint, and by the 6th century her feast day was honored in Anglo-Saxon England. Gradually she was acknowledged in Northern Europe, although the first Lucia candle processions were not recorded until the 19th century.

However, as with many legends, there is another, darker side to the story! Enter the witch Lussi.

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Who is Lussi?  A Nordic sorceress, close in parallel to the Germanic goddess Holle or Perchta.  Not much is known about her, but she is said to be a powerful figure. She is the initiator of the Oskoreia and rides through the air with her followers – a troupe of wandering elves, fairies, nymphs and the like. They are called the Lussiferda, a band of trouble-making nuisances, out on a Wild Hunt intended to cause chaos and frighten humans.

wild hunt

December 13 is called Lussinatta or Lussi Night, a time to honor and fear her.

If you happen to see Lussi and her elven group, beware!  Any human who encounters the Wild Hunt might be abducted to the Underworld. It is also believed that people’s spirits can be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade.  (So be very conscious of your dreams tonight. You might want to skip sleep altogether… More on that later.)

During the long nights between Lussinatta and Yule, trolls, daemons and the spirits of the dead are thought to be swirling about outside, enjoying the darkness. They are particularly active on Lussi Night.  Naughty children are advised to hide away.  According  to some traditions, Lussi herself can come down through the chimney and abduct children who have been bad.


Lussi 2

(Seems to me Lussi might be in kahoots with Krampus and Old Saint Nick…)

But adults should beware too.  Lussi is particularly sensitive to all those dull and time consuming chores that must be done before Yule. You know — gathering wood for the fire, stocking the larder, salting the meat and making jam…  If you (lazy human!) have not completed your winter tasks, you just may be abducted, along with your nasty children!

Some people do not want to take that chance, even in their dreams!

In a tradition called  Lussevaka  folks would stay awake all night through the long Lussinatta in order too guard themselves and their households against abductions.  However, in the 21st century, Lussevaka has apparently taken on a different form.  It’s called partying till the break of dawn!

If you don’t make it through the entire night, it still might be fun to stay up extra late tonight, light a few candles and be on watch for Lussi and her band of fairies.

Whether you choose the reverent road of singing hymns for Saint Lucia, or the decadent road of partying all night in hopes of seeing the Wild Hunt, have a jolly and elegant season as we wait for the return of the sun.






Happy Krampusnacht!



Have you been naughty or nice? If you have been naughty you’d better watch out!  In punishment for your nasty behavior, your holiday season just may be stained with the grimy patina of that famous Christmas devil known as… (drum roll please)


Beware tonight, December 5th, as he comes to visit!

Who is Krampus, you ask?  He is, of course, the goat-footed companion of Saint Nicholas. Together they work in a good cop/ bad cop fashion to reward and punish children (and maybe adults?) for kind as well as naughty deeds. The benevolent will receive candy and gifts. The not-so-nice will receive coal and may get carried off to hell in Krampus’ sack.

Originating in Germanic mythology, Krampus celebrations have long been part of Bavarian traditions. For Krampuskarten (Krampus cards), greeting cards are exchanged with the heading Gruss vom Krampus (Greetings from Krampus). The cards often feature humorous poems and Krampus himself looming menacingly over frightened children.

For Krampuslauf (Krampus Run), men wear scary-looking horned masks and run through town terrorizing people. These villains have been known to kidnap a Fraulein or two while they are at it, so ladies beware!


As a dark alternative to Saint Nicholas Day, Krampusnacht is quickly gaining popularity in many parts of the world, including the US.  Sound intriguing? If so, you might want to initiate a Krampus celebration of your own. It would be great fun, a chance to wear costumes and conduct all kinds of irreverent activities! (Because Halloween is long past and we can never get enough of this stuff, right?)

Do you celebrate this weird festival?  Let me know what you think of it.

To learn more about Krampus, his history and his growing fan base, please watch the following (very short) documentary. (Running time about 7 minutes.)

Hope you enjoy it, and Happy Krampusnacht!