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Showing posts from September, 2013

Second, a Ramble

Today I went up to Norwich to give a talk at their Harvest Moon convention, held at the Puppet Theatre. It's a fascinating building ~ well, maybe not so much the building itself (which is a converted church of no especially remarkable nature), but the numerous puppets, marionettes and other effigies suspended from the walls. They were of all shapes and sizes, with warriors, kings, damsels, witches, animals and monsters. All staring down upon the proceedings.
I cannot wax particularly lyrical about the Harvest Moon convention itself, largely because I missed a lot of it having got lost on the way and arriving late. My own talk (on poetry in early European polytheist cultures) seemed to go down fairly well. Aside from that I attended a short talk on nature spirits in Hinduism, which I found to be a fascinating topic, and a straightforward and humorous introduction to cabalism. One of the stalls sold rather good artwork, mostly painted on to slate.
Puppets are a curious phenomena. On…

First, a rant

Returning on the train from Norwich's Pagan convention today (at which I was speaking, and more of which shortly) I had the opportunity to be sat across from a middle aged man and someone whom I presumed to have been a niece or possibly a future daughter-in-law.
Their conversation was mostly insipid, but took a turn which distracted me from the spectral realms of Montague Rhodes James. For some reason they were talking about schools and the behaviour of some adolescent relative, when the fat man (let's call him McCabe, because I'm not feeling very imaginative tonight) started recollecting his own salad days. The salad presumably being a bit of limp lettuce in his greasy burger. With consider relish on that burger, he told various exploits involving reducing one teacher to tears, being part of a gang that drove another teacher into a nervous breakdown, locking another in a tool shed etc.
Now lots of kids do grotty things and eventually grow out of it when they achieve some …

Tale Coating

Stories, particularly oral ones, tend to rely heavily on archetypal and easily recognisable characters. Not only do we see archetypes in other people (fictional or real), but so often we aspire to become them ourselves. Sometimes this is in a professional or personal capacity - wanting to live up to our own vision of what the ideal doctor or father should be like. At other times it can be spiritual, reflecting a sense of calling. In this latter capacity it goes to the root of what we aspire to be. Many (perhaps most) religions encourage their devotees to study a sacred story and aspire to emulate one or other of the central figures ~ be that Jesus, Buddha, the Madonna, Guru Nanak etc.
I am not referring to those forms of mental illness where a person comes to believe that they actually are the Messiah (or some other leading light), but only where an individual strives hard to exhibit the same values as their revered figure. Although I do wonder what is stronger - an individual or a st…

Myths and Monsters

On Saturday evening the IPC will be holding and evening of Greek mythological storytelling, accompanied by a shared meal of (mostly) Greek food. The combination of storytelling and food from the culture in question seems to work very well, judging by the attendance at and feedback from the people going to the Celtic Mythology evening a few months ago.
After some debate I told the story of King Lykaon of Arcadia and his descent into cannibalism and werewolfery. It's an intriguing tale with plenty of gore, and a source of some discussion amongst historians as to whether it details and ancient wolf cult which may have featured human sacrifice, or if it's just an apocryphal tale to warn people of the dire consequences of cannibalism.