Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ebay Bans: spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; magic potions; and more

This from Ebay's 2012 Fall Seller Update:
The following items are also being added to the prohibited items list: advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions; ...
And the following categories are to be removed:
Discontinued categories:
  • Metaphysical: Psychic, Paranormal; Readings
  • Metaphysical: Psychic, Paranormal; Spells, Potions
  • Metaphysical: Tarot Readings
I'm a little ambivalent about this.  It's not as though this is a direct attack on pagans or witches, as prayers are also included; however, it does seem to be targeting a certain set of beliefs and, rather interestingly, I could not find miracles listed among the banned items.

This ban may go some way to stopping the charlatans, but I am one of those people that feel if someone wants to spend $5,000 on a magic candle to cure their ills, then let them so do, because, generally, I am not very keen on the nanny state.   Technically speaking, a seller can still list a ring believed to have been owned by the Grand Magus, Quezacotl Doom Sayer, imbibed with his personal magic, because what they are really selling is the cheap, silver plated ring not the magic attached thereto.  So, these bans and removals Ebay is instigating may not be terribly effective at stopping fools from parting with their money.

Ebay is a business and, as such, reserves the right to refuse anyone from trading with them.  Still, the specific categories being removed, and the items being targeted - although intangibles - are related to a particular sector of society, which gives it a hint of a smell of - what's the right word here? - discrimination against occultists.

Ah well.  Does it really matter to me?  No.  This update will have no affect on me, nor my dealings with various auction/trading sites.   Real occultists are likely to remain unaffected, because, as occultists, everything is generally hidden and not displayed for sale, and the unscrupulous will always find a way to take advantage of the unwary.

Caveat Emptor!

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Broonie, Silkies & Fairies

Author: Duncan Williamson
: 9780862410872

Why did I read it? I had read Duncan Williamson’s “The Land of the Seal People” and truly enjoyed it, so I purposely sought his other publications, mostly because he includes so many tales of the Silkie, also known as the Selkie and seal people, a subject which truly fascinates me: a race people who move between two worlds.

What’s it about? This is a collection of fireside tales told to Duncan Williamson during the years he spent travelling. The tales are from the north-west of Scotland and include:

The Silkie’s Revenge”;
The Broonie on Carra”;
Saltie the Silkie”;
The Taen-Awa”;
Torquil Glen”;
The Lighthouse Keeper”;
Archie and the Little People”;
The Broonie’s Curse”;
The Fisherman and his Sons”;
The Tramp and the Boots”;
The Crofter’s Mistake”;
The Broonie’s Farewell”;
and an annotated glossary.

As can be gleaned from the titles, all are tales involving other folk, and include lessons on how to behave, or not when encountering these folk.  

What did I like? Aside from relishing the tales of the seal folk, I was particularly taken aback by the lack of happy endings often encountered in children’s tales of the modern age. These stories contain warnings, though not all, and very few have a particularly happy ever after feel. Though these are cautionary tales, none was overly terrifying; rather the some characters terrified themselves, particularly in the case of “Torquil Glen”.

I also enjoyed learning different lore surrounding certain creatures, such as the broonie. I had always understood them to be attached to particular families, or homes, but this appears not to be the case in the stories presented in this book relating to the broonie. Rather, a broonie appears as a travelling man to assess the nature of a human’s character and reflecting their fortune accordingly; more as a short lesson than a lifetime curse.

Each story is preceded by a few paragraphs revealing the source of the tale; many have summaries wherein Duncan Williamson adds his own thoughts and feelings on the preceding story, which provides a unique insight into the purpose, and culture of fireside storytelling.

What didn’t I like? It was the small matter of some of the dialect. There are footnotes for some words, and the editor, Linda Williamson, the author’s wife, provides an explanation in the glossary of how they arrived at appropriate language for the publication, it was still sometimes a little hard to discern what was being said. Still, the language did evoke a sense of authenticity of the tales.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I highly recommend “Broonie, Silkies and Fairies: Travellers Tales” by Duncan Williamson to anyone that enjoys a good story, folklore, fairy tales, or has an interest in otherworld beings, and/or the culture of travelling folk, crofters or the north west of Scotland.  

Rating: 4½/5.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Táin Bó Cúailnge more closely based on "real-life" than previously thought

Researchers have used mathematics to conclude that ancient Irish epic, Táin Bó Cúailnge, may be more closely based on real-life societies than previously thought.

The study takes a numerical look at how interactions between characters in the ancient Táin Bó Cúailnge compare with real social networks.
The whole article can be read via the Irish Times website.


All has been quiet here for a few reasons.  Firstly, I moved home rather unexpectedly.  I upgraded from a studio flat on a farm to a house next to a park with my own garden.   I also received some rather nice housewarming gifts, one of which can be seen in the photograph: a lovely statue I had admired for ages which finally came up for sale, but was presented to me.

Secondly, I lost my best friend and grandmother rather unexpectedly, despite the fact she was 92.   With her went the last link to the secrets of our family line.  More importantly, I lost my confidante.  Coincidentally, my grandmother passed on the day set aside in myth for the funeral games in honour of Lugh's foster-mother, Tailtiú.   

These changes have been significant and, as one would expect, have led to introspection.  I am not sure what the outcome will be, or how it will affect my writing here.   It's a case of wait and see.

Until next time ...