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The Tarot Garden of Tuscany

  The Tarot Garden, or Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, wasn't my first choice for a tourist stop during my recent trip to the Italian countryside. Or my second, or my third. My most recent vacation had been planned as a restful stay…

Pitchwars 2016!

    I'm entering Brenda Drake's Pitchwars Twitter contest, so here's a reprise of my author bio. Follow me on Twitter (@Aphemia66) or find the website's enchanted genie lamp and touch it (if you dare). While you're busy…

Breasts of the Virgin and Saint Agatha's Nipples

Racy title, right? Believe it or not, this post is actually about cookies. Delicious, crunchy goodies that have been around since the Middle Ages. I have to admit, the naughty names caught my eye first, but after I read about the great backstory…

Iranian Horror Movie Plays at Sundance

Under the Shadow Sounds super spooky. Who wants to see it with me?

The Story of Tea

Great article on the traditional use of tea to welcome guests in Morocco.

Tales of the Jinn

A nice summary of Jinn lore and legend.

Dancing Girls

Lovely painting of Persian women's clothing of the 17th century, seen on beautiful young dancers.

Rise and Fall of the Assassins

As persecuted followers of an offshoot of Shia Islam, the medieval Nizari Ismailis
 of Persia and Syria developed a unique form of asymmetric warfare to offset the far superior military might of their enemies: a secret order of political…

"Destroyer of Thousands": The Mace as Weapon and Symbol of Power

The mace as a war weapon evolved from primitive clubs, when the addition of stone spikes added to its effectiveness. Stone maces often shattered, however, limiting their value as weapons. With the development of copper or bronze heads,…

The Emerald Studded Sword of Ancient Persia

Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar, the emerald-studded sword, is mentioned in the Persian epic of Amir Arsalan. In the story, Fulad-zereh, a giant horned Ifrit, is led astray from his duties as head general to the King of the Peri by his fondness…

Review of "The Wrath and the Dawn" by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn is a YA retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights. Or, I should say, a retelling of the Arabian Nights' frame story, of a brave young woman who volunteers to be the bride of a serial killer ruler who murders his new brides…

Persian Demonology

Demons in the Persian tradition go by many names, such as Div and Daeva, and are a class of supernatural creatures associated with wickedness and deceit. In some texts, the land of the Div is known as Mazandaran, not to be confused the…