Folklore, History & the Study of Myth

The Writings of Gary R. Varner

Balzan Prizes 2011 Award Ceremony in Berne

Balzan Prizes 2011 Award Ceremony in Berne

750,000 Swiss Francs (approx. �610,000, $830,000, �520,000) for each of the four subjects.

Half of the amount must be destined by the winners to research projects


Berne, November 18, 2011 - The Balzan Prizes for 2011 were presented today, November 18, by the Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs, Didier Burkhalter. During the ceremony, which took place at the Federal Palace in Berne, the prizes were presented to:        
Bronislaw Baczko (Switzerland/Poland), University of Geneva, for Enlightenment Studies

Peter R.L. Brown (USA/Ireland), Princeton University, for Ancient History (The Graeco-Roman World) 
Russell Scott Lande (UK/USA), Imperial College, London, for Theoretical Biology or Bioinformatics

Joseph Ivor Silk (USA/UK), Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, for The Early Universe (From the Planck Time to the First Galaxies).

The ceremony took place in the presence of the Chairmen of the International Balzan Foundation "Prize", Bruno Bottai, and "Fund", Achille Casanova. In accordance with the ceremony�s usual formalities, each Prizewinner, introduced in turn by Salvatore Veca, Chairman of the General Prize Committee, gave a speech of acceptance and thanks.        According to established tradition reflecting the Italo-Swiss nature of the International Balzan Foundation, the Award Ceremony takes place in alternate years in Rome, in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic, and in Bern, in the presence of a Representative of the Federal Council of the Swiss Confederation, usually the Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs.   

Balzan Prize was awarded to Bronislaw Baczko �for his contribution to philosophical reflection dedicated to Rousseau�s thought and to the study of the political and social consequences of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution�.   

Peter R.L. Brown was recognized �for his exceptional contributions to the historical interpretation of late antiquity through highly original studies of strong impact and extraordinary influence, with works on the cult of the saints, the body and sexuality, the emergence of Christianity, and poverty and power�.    

Russell Scott Lande received his Prize �for pioneering contributions to the development and application of theoretical population biology, including the modern development of the theory of quantitative genetics, and the study of stochastic population dynamics�.     


Prize went to Joseph Ivor Silk �for his pioneering work on the early evolution of the universe, studying the effects of various physical processes and phenomena such as dark matter and space curvature on the fluctuations of the Cosmic Microwave Background and the formation of galaxies of different types�.

The International Balzan Foundation awarded 750,000 Swiss Francs (approx. �610,000, $830,000, �520,000) for each 2011 prize, a figure which places the Balzan Prize amongst the most remunerable prizes in Sciences and Humanities. The winners are each required to allocate half of their prize money to funding research projects carried out preferably by young scholars or scientists in their respective fields.  
The subject fields honoured (which change every year and which are chosen from the arts, letters, moral and physical sciences, mathematics and medicine). The winners are chosen by the General Prize Committee, an independent body belonging to the International Balzan Foundation �Prize� which is presided over by Salvatore Veca and is composed of twenty leading academics from ten European countries.       

The Ceremony was preceded, on November 17, by the Balzan Prizewinners Interdisciplinary Forum, organized by the Balzan Foundation and the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, which took place at the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research. The Forum was a public event dedicated to the Balzan Prize subject areas with the four Prizewinners entering into discussion with Members of the Balzan General Prize Committee and Members of the Swiss Academies and of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome.

More Book News...

Over the past few months I have made some changes with who I publish. Sacred Wells was revised and republished by Algora Publishing and I have decided not to renew my contract with the original publisher of its sequel, Water of Life Water of Death. Effective January 2011 Water of Life Water of Death will go out of print. However, a new and enlarged illustrated edition will be published with the title Water from the Sacred Well. For me to be able to publish this new edition as I feel it should be I have turned down a contract with a major publishing house and will print it myself. It will be offered through Amazon and other retail outlets in both print and ebook editions under the OakChylde Publications imprint.

I look forward to releasing the new edition and hope that you will check back for updates.


Sacred Wells to be Re-released

Sacred Wells: A Study in the History, Meaning, and Mythology of Holy Wells & Waters has been re-released by Algora Publishers in New York in the Fall of 2009. Originally published in 2002, Algora Publishers, an academic publishing house, will re-release the book, making it more available to the public through university and public libraries as well as through bookstore and online retailers.

Algora Publishing only publishes non-fiction works which, they say, "promote a message of enlightenment, social progress and intellectual curiosity."


Ghostwriter Review of Charles G. Leland

Charles G. Leland The Man & the Myth Journalist, Adventurer, Folklorist

Author: Gary R. Varner

 Taking readers through the life of a great man, Gary R. Varner examines the life, ideals, and beliefs of Charles G. Leland.  Charles Leland lived as many during those times, both seeing war and slavery. Enchanted by people outside of his social box, quickly this great storyteller brings his life to pages.  Leland, a scholar in his own right, is credited as the creator of the Industrial Arts program within the American school system. 

  Charles Leland was a man with many sides. This book does give the reader a view at this great man both from his own words and from what has been recorded through time.  Charles’ charm and humor often shine through.  Varner does a great job combining the words of a grand storyteller with facts to create a solid piece of work. 

  Overall, this is a great read! With the exception of needing to flip pages to find a few needed answers, it was well presented. Great Job!

Controversial Biography of a Controversial Man Released

Gary R. Varner, a folklorist with numerous books to his credit concerning mythology, history, folklore and early religions, has written a new book about 19th century folklorist and journalist Charles G. Leland. Viewed by many as a controversial treatment of a man idolized by some in the Neo-Pagan community but disdained by scholars and researchers for his legendary manipulation of folklore, myth and Native American artwork, Charles G. Leland – The Man & the Myth is the most comprehensive biography written in 102 years of this fascinating and complex man.

Was he the discoverer of an ancient and lost tradition of witchcraft or was he a man driven to falsifying information to create his own romantic view of a pagan world filled with witches, woodland spirits, faeries and demons? This is an important book which provides a balanced picture of the life and works of an extremely intelligent and artistic man who created much good but also cast a dubious shadow on the nature of folklore and ethnography.

Charles G. Leland – The Man & the Myth, available from and soon available in paperback and hardcover everywhere. ISBN: 978-1-4357-4394-6, 200 pgs, index, bibliography, illustrated, $15.95 paperback, $28.50 hardcover. Varner's website can be found at:

Wesites Replace Bookstores

            It is a totally different world today. Bookstores can no longer compete with authors. “The reason behind the change,” says Bruce Schwartz, author of the best selling novel The Twenty-First Century (, is because of the many shares of the pie being split by so many different people.” Authors, he explained, are tired of spending two to seven years writing a novel and trying to sell it to a publisher. After all that time, sharing the profits makes for a losing proposition.
            Most of the time, the bookstores take fifty percent so they can discount the book and attract customers. The distributor, who gets ten percent, sells it for the publisher to the many different bookstores around the country. There are the majors such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Waldenbooks, and then there are the independently owned smaller ones, who must compete with the majors and discount each book even more. That leaves thirty-five to forty percent for the publisher who usually pays the author anywhere from seven to fifteen percent, leaving the publisher just enough to cover his costs in producing the finished product, and sometimes not, as well as rent, salaries, printing, warehousing, and promotion, to name a few costs.
            “The worse thing for an author,” says Schwartz, “is that the few dollars made on each copy sold only adds up if your book is a bestseller. If after a few weeks the book is not selling well, they take it off the shelf and return the copies to the publisher to make room for the next potential bestseller. Publisher and author lose.”
            The Twenty-First Century was not being distributed well because there wasn’t a large enough advertising budget, like with the majority of books. Suddenly, it disappeared after Schwartz spent more than $100,000 in advertising and publicity. Many writers just give up.
            Today we’re lucky to find one new best selling author each year. The money is reserved for publicizing the Stephen Kings, the John Grishams, the Jackie Collin’s, and the few dozen who can bring in a profit for the publisher based on large enough sales. “Even the big authors are getting tired of making so little on each book,” Schwartz adds. Unless, of course, they’re lucky enough to get a large up-front advance. If not, they can now be found opening their own worldwide bookstore on the web and selling it themselves. They hire a printer and pay the same costs as the publisher, hire a book marketer, publicists, and webmaster. Their financial rewards is more like a seventy to eighty percent profit. But, to do this, authors must believe in themselves and the commerciality of their work.
            Bruce Schwartz did that with The Twenty- First Century. He spent a few hundred thousand dollars, and now his book is selling continuously here in Europe. “It’s all finances, like with everything else. It’s either pay the piper or pay yourself.”

Book on Little Known Venezuelan Cult Released

Book on little known Venezuelan cult released

(PRLEAP.COM) Most North American’s have never heard of Maria Lionza. However she is worshipped today by as many as 8 million Venezuelans as a goddess of nature, love and prosperity. She also has heavy political clout in this predominately Catholic nation and is seen an icon of this nation.

María Lionza is at once a native girl, born in the 16th century to an Indian chief in the Venezuelan region of Yaracuy, and a goddess of nature, peace and harmony to over eight million Venezuelans in the 21st century. Her name means “Mary of the boar,” taken from her full name “Santa María de la Onza Talavera del Prato de Nivar”—a title given by the Catholic Church in the attempt to Christianize her cult. This book is María’s story, as much as can be told. Other than a few scholarly articles, the existence of María Lionza and her following is unknown in Western literature. Gabriel Ernesto Andrade of La Universidad del Zulia in Maracaibo, Venezuela wrote “If I would have to find one word to describe the María Lionza religion, it would be ‘mysterious’.” And so María, as well as her origins and how she became regarded as the goddess of the people of Venezuela, remains a mystery in many ways. And that is as it should be.

Maria Lionza: An Indigenous Goddess of Venezuela is one of a few studies of this thriving religion which is a mix of Native traditions, Santeria and Catholicism. Written by folklorist Gary R. Varner, a member of the American Folklore Society and the Foundation for Mythological Studies. Varner is the author of numerous books, including Creatures in the Mist: Little People,Wild Men and Spirit Beings Around the World and The Mythic Forest: The Green Man and the Spirit of Nature published by New York academic publisher Algora Publishing and a number of books appearing under his own OakChylde Publications imprint, including Mysteries of Native American Myth and Religion and The Gods of Man: Gods of Nature – God of War.

Maria Lionza is currently available from Lulu Press at: and will be distributed through other outlets in the next few months.

The author may be contacted via email at as well as through his website: