EL PELÉ

Four Gypsy Heroes

The Roma people (also spelled Romani) often known colloquially as gypsies, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally made-up of nomadic travelers living mainly in Europe, although after a diaspora, Roma populations are found throughout the world. It is now accepted that the Roma people come from a single group of peoples who left the North Indian subcontinent around 512 AD.

Romani woman with German police officer and Nazi psychologist Dr. Robert Ritter

Romani woman with German police officer and Nazi psychologist Dr. Robert Ritter

Roma are widely known in English by the xenonym Gypsy (and Gipsies), which some Roma folk consider deprecatory.

Arising out of (a legitimate) fear of discrimination, most Roma choose not to register their birth or ethnic identity officially. There are an estimated 10 million Roma in Europe (as of 2019) with large Roma populations found in the Balkans, some central European states, in Spain, France, Russia and Ukraine. There are probably several million more Roma in other countries

During World War II, the Nazis embarked on a systematic genocide of the Roma, a process known in the Romani tongue as the Porajmos (meaning “the Devouring.”) Historians estimate that at least 500,000 and probably over 1 million Romani folk were killed by Germans and their nazi collaborators.

In post-war Czechoslovakia, the Roma were labeled as a “socially degraded stratum” and Roma women were sterilized as part of a state policy to reduce their population. Even in 2004, new cases of forced assimilation were revealed in the Czech Republic.

Ceferino

Ceferino

1: EL PELÉ

EL PELÉ was a Spanish Romani born in August 1861 in Aragon, Spain into a Romani family. Ceferino Malla’s father was a cattle-trader and so the family had a nomadic lifestyle, with Ceferino often going without food and having to resort to begging. Known for his integrity and sense of fairness, Ceferino became something of a leader in the Roma community in and around Barbastro in northeastern Spain. Folk sought his advice and mediation in family disputes. Ceferino was also called upon to resolve disputes between Roma and Spaniards.

One day a local landowner, suffering from tuberculosis, passed out on the street. Heedless of the danger of contagion, Ceferino carried the man home on his shoulders. The grateful family rewarded him with a sum sufficient to start a business of buying and selling surplus mules.

After becoming a member of the Franciscan Third order (a tertiary-type ‘friar’) in July 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, Ceferino tried to defend a Catholic priest from Republican militiamen. Both men were arrested, to be imprisoned in a former Capuchin monastery, converted into a wartime prison. As he led a modest life and had no significant political influence, his family asked an influential anarchist and member of the Revolutionary Committee known as Eugenio Sopena, to release him. Sopena did everything possible to free him, but was told that Ceferino was influencing other prisoners by encouraging them to have faith and believe in God. Ceferino was strongly advised to give up his rosary and not to draw attention to himself or his Catholicism, but refused to give up his rosary or his faith.

The Republican militia (revolutionaries) shot Ceferina on August 9, 1936, in a cemetery in the Spanish city of Barbastro, along with 18 other people, mostly priests and believers. Before he was killed, he raised his rosary high to shout loud: “Long live Christ the King.”

El Pelé is now considered the patron of the Rom and Sinti peoples.

Settela

Settela

2: SETTELA STEINBACH

SETTELA STEINBACH (born Anna Maria Steinbach) was from Buchten in the Limburg area of southern Netherlands.

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. During the occupation of the Netherlands, over 100,000 Dutch Jews were rounded up and transported to Nazi extermination camps; only a few survived. In May 1944, a razzia (early morning police raid) against Romani families was organized across the whole of the Netherlands. 577 people were arrested and taken to Westerbork concentration camp ( the same camp that Anne Frank was taken to in August 1944.)

After the arrests, about 279 people were permitted to leave the camp once interrogation had been completed and the Nazi authority categorized them as non-Romani. But Steinbach and others were condemned. The ten-year-old’s head was shaven and, like other Romani girls and women, she was made to wear a torn sheet around her head to cover her baldness.

On May 19th, Settela was put onto a train along with 244 other Romani folk to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The carriages also contained Jewish prisoners. Settela and her family were gassed along with another three thousand Romani prisoners.

Settela Steinbach gained notoriety after the war when her image (shown above) was shown. The harrowing picture was associated with the pain and anguish of Auschwitz. The photo was taken for a movie about Westerbork transit camp made by the German photographer (of Jewish descent) Rudolf Breslauer whose own family was transported to Auschwitz in the autumn of 1944.

Gypsy Smith

Gypsy Smith

3: RODNEY “GIPSY” SMITH

RODNEY “GIPSY” SMITH was born in a bender-tent in Epping Forest, six miles from London. Smith received no education and his family made a living by selling baskets, tin items, and clothes pegs though his father Cornelius mother Polly provided him with a happy Romanichal family upbringing. After his father became one of the “Converted Gypsies” that were involved in evangelistic efforts at that time, Smith taught himself to read and write and began to practice his preaching. He’d sing hymns to people he met and was known as “the singing gypsy boy.”

At a convention at the Christian Mission (later to be known as The Salvation Army) headquarters in London, the Methodist preacher and army founder William Booth noticed the Gypsies and saw the obvious potential in young Smith. In 1877 Smith accepted an invitation extended by Booth to be a “street corner” evangelist for the Mission.

Smith traveled extensively around the world on evangelistic crusades, drawing crowds numbering hundreds of thousands throughout an active life. Despite how busy he was, he never tired of visiting the Roma camps whenever he could on both sides of the Atlantic.

During World War I he ministered under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A. to British troops in France, often visiting the front lines. As a result of this undoubted heroism, King George VI made him a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

PETR TORAK

PETR TORAK

4: PETR TORAK

PETR TORAK is a modern-day hero. Born in Liberec in the Czech Republic (1981) he grew in a Roma family. In 1999 he and his parents sought asylum in the UK, after suffering violent attacks with political and racist motivations.

Petr volunteered in a solicitor’s office in Southend-on-Sea (he had studied law in the Czech Republic). And, after gaining a work permit, he found employment in fast food, factories and in supermarkets before joining Cambridgeshire Police in 2006 as a Community Support Officer. In 2008 and after further studies, Petr became a fully-fledged police officer with Cambridgeshire.

As a police officer, he worked in the city of Peterborough, a place with many east and central European immigrants and utilized his language skills (Czech, Polish, Slovak, Portuguese, English and Russian) to great effect. He became a project coordinator for a local organisation, COMPAS, which attempts to promote community cohesion, and is a trained mediator for ROMED, an EU funded project which trains mediators to help Roma folk communicate with local authorities.

Petr has also spoken-out against “modern slavery” and other issues affecting Eastern Europe migrants including young women being forced into sex work, and workers being exploited by gang-masters.

Petr is actively involved with the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association (GRTPA) that offers a network of support for Traveller and Romany police officers who often feel they are required hide their ancestry for fear of prejudice.

In 2015 he was awarded an honorary MBE (an MBE for non-Commonwealth citizens) for “services to the Roma community.” The award was made Substantive in August 2019.

Words: @neilmach 2020

English novelist Neil Mach has gained widespread recognition for the creation of strong female characters and for compelling stories that often revolve around the themes of loyalty and duty.

His character MOONDOG is a Romani detective. He is called-in when other investigators hesitate. The detective inquires into things that lay “beyond normal human experience” where things hang in the balance between mundane and miraculous. Moondog and the Reed Leopard is OUT NOW.

Myth and Magic EP 8 — Fantasy Writers Kitbag — Episode 8 SHOW-NOTES

Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.

CLICK HERE for >>> Episode Eight: 30M

This week I start prepping for NANOWRIMO and I encourage any fantasy fiction writers listening to this podcast to begin plotting too! Today I look at the various stage of a Hero’s Journey and discover Markstein’s criteria. I also visit the Celtic Way and consider the race of Celts. I consider the Guardian list of the 100 best books of the 21st century and I ponder Gwyneth Paltrow’s (empty) bookcase and try to imagine the books I would like to add. The Wildflower of the week is the Blackberry.

Now its NanNo Prep Time are you ready to start plotting out your fantasy fiction?

What form is your protagonist going to take?

Male /female/ gender fluid?
Old, young, ageless?

What form is your main antagonist going to take?

Male /female/ gender fluid?
Old, young, ageless?
Special powers?

What form is your tale going to take?

A quest
Coming of age

How will you construct your fictional world?

How does it differ to (this) real one?
What are the similarities?
What technology does it have?
Does your fictional universe have its own internal logic
Have you created a timeline to ensure consistency and continuity

Will your fictional world comply with Markstein’s criteria?

If characters A and B meet, they are in the same universe
Characters cannot be connected by real people
Characters cannot be connected by characters that do not originate with your published work
Specific fictionalized versions of real people can be used i.e Robin Hood or King Arthur
Characters are only considered to have met if they appeared together in the story

What will be the Triggering Event ?

How does your protagonist resist the call to adventure? Why won’t he/she/it go? What’s preventing their adventure?

(After the first plot point, there will be several chapters where the protagonist is learning about the new world. They might be doing research, or discovering things in conversations. There needs to be conflict and tension, which builds up to the first Pinch Point.
This doesn’t have to be a literal battle, but it is the first major interaction with the antagonist. The antagonist might not be visible yet, but they should be the one pulling the strings. The antagonist is after something, and that something is tied to the MC somehow…)

What does the Protagonist have that the antagonist needs or wants?

What will be the first pinch point?

Midpoint—the shift from victim to warrior – (after the first pinch point, the protagonist continues to face new challenges, but are in a defensive role. They might make some plans, but mostly they’re waiting for something to happen and reacting to events rather than being proactive.) Why does the protagonist decide to take action. What turns him around from being a victim to being a hero?)

This leads to a second confrontation with the antagonist (the protagonist realize that everything is much worse than they thought, and they realize they’ve underestimated the antagonist’s power.)

The protagonist tries to fix things, but things keep getting worse and worse, leading to a total, devastating loss… so we arrive at the the dark night of the soul.

What will be the First Major Turning Point in the story?

How will the antagonist get the upper hand?

The Triumph:

(Perhaps, after a pep talk with a close friend, to “gird the loins” the protagonist finds a reason to fight, even if it’s hopeless. Even if it seems impossible to defeat the enemy, there’s no choice but to confront the antagonist.

But now he is prepared—he might have gained a valuable piece of knowledge or information. He might have a new weapon or new power, or he’s learned the villain’s weakness.
The final battle scene often includes a “hero at the mercy of the villain” scene, where the hero is caught, so the villain can gloat. Anyway it’s not a clear, easy victory. They fail at first, all is lost, the hero is captured, the enemy gloats… then the hero perseveres. With resolve and tenacity, the hero escapes and overpowers the villain.
Often the final battle scene also includes a “death of the hero” scene, where the hero, or an ally/romantic interest, sacrifices themselves, and appears to die… but then is brought back to life in joy and celebration.)

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Myth and Magic

CLICK HERE to listen to >>> Episode Eightof MYTH & MAGIC 30M

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The Guardian list of 100 best-books-of-the-21st-century

This list of ONE HUNDRED best books of the 21st century (not all are fiction) published this week by the Guardian newspaper, includes just six works that you might accurately describe as “Fantasy Fiction.”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (her only Hugo Award winning novel… The Hugos tend to not be given to the same writer twice)
Darkmans by Nicola Barker
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
Night Watch by Terry Prachett
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Why is this speculative genre so under-represented? (George R. R. Martin isn’t listed at all, but perhaps “A Storm of Swords” and the subsequent two Song of Ice and Fire didn’t make the cut) Is it because fantasy fiction is (these days) is considered to be “Young Adult” and therefore, because the books (purportedly) speak to a younger audience they are somehow considered to be less meritorious?

Is “Dead Until Dark” (Charlaine Harris) young adult fiction?

Or:

Dark Lover J.R. Ward
Vampire Academy Richelle Mead
City of Bones Cassandra Clare
Twilight Stephenie Meyer
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins , or
The Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

Oddly (and to even things up a bit) the top 20 best selling books of the 21st Century, combined, have sold over a billion copies. These include:

The “Harry Potter” books, over 225M sold
The “Twilight” books, over 120M sold
The Hunger Games books, over 65M sold
A Song of Ice and Fire” over 60M sold
The Divergent Trilogy over 35M sold

That means more-or-less half of all books sold have been fantasy fiction. Ha! [Stats from https://elitewritings.com%5D

Wildflower of the week: BLACKBERRY

All along the CELTIC WAY at this time of the year, you can find Blackberries (sometimes called black-caps in the USA)

aka brummel kites, gater berry, cock brumble, blaggs and mooches.

I can tell you, from experience, these edible fruit from the genus Rubus make the most delicious crumble you’ve ever tasted and go particularly well with sharp cooking apples. The possess a heavenly scent that makes my mouth water with anticipation. When I was young, my sisters and I would go blackberry picking on open land and bring home baskets-and-baskets of berries so my mother could make jam.

Blackberries and raspberries both live on what we call, in England, brambles. Though raspberries are “domesticated” and can be safely grown as “canes” in a garden or plot… whereas blackberries are decidedly wild and would take over an entire garden if not hunted down and eliminated.

Unmanaged plants in the wild form a dense tangle of arching thorny branches and these are often cut into hedgerows and provide important protection for nesting birds and all kinds of animals.

A bog woman who was found naturally in a bog in Jutland, and had died in the pre-Roman Iron Age was found to have eaten millet and blackberries before she had been strangled.

It’s also thought that Blackberry fruit, leaves, and stems were used to dye fabrics and hair. And Native Americans were known to use blackberry stems to make rope.

The delicious loganberry – developed in 1880 in Santa Cruz – is one of the best and most flavoursome cultivars from the original plant.

Blackberry leaves are an important food source for caterpillars; and some grazing mammals, especially deer.

Scottish highlanders once twisted a bramble with ivy and grown to ward away witches and evil spirits.

It was once thought that on Michaelmas day (the holy day of angels 29 September) the devil spat and urinated upon all the fruit and so it was unwise to pick them any more. In Ireland a similar belief held that the pooka ( the nature spirit that I described in my novel Moondog and the Reed Leopard) were responsible for ruining the fruit by pissing on them ( a few weeks later than the devil in England, at Halloween tide.)

CALL OUT 25 SEPTEMBER Assaph Mehr

If you like the idea of togas, daggers and magic and an Urban Fantasy set in a quasi-Ancient Rome intrigues you, then try ASSAPH MEHR and his Murder In Absentia

A young man is found dead in his bed, with a look of extreme agony on his face and strange tattoos all over his body. His distraught senator father suspects a cult death, and knows who to call for discreet resolution.

Enter Felix the Fox, a professional investigator. In the business of ferreting out dark information for his clients, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a competent magician — but something in between. Drawing on his contacts in shady elements of society and on his aborted education in the magical arts, Felix dons his toga and sets out to discover the young man’s killers.

Murder In Absentia is set in a fantasy world. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world.

I like the idea that this book will appeal to fans of detective fiction as well as fantasy!
Well done, ASSAPH.

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Myth and Magic

CLICK HERE to listen to >>> Episode Eightof MYTH & MAGIC 30M

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The Wrekin

Myth and Magic EP2 — Fantasy Writers Kitbag — Episode 2 SHOW-NOTES

Folklore and fantasy themes aimed at creative writers: to start writing stories and challenge your brain with exciting ideas, dip into this kit-bag. Learn how fantasy worlds draw on real world history, mythology, and folklore. And there’s weekly news from the world of fantasy fiction too, plus fabulous creatures, studies on folk tales, nature fables and lots more mythical, magical fun.

CLICK HERE for >>> Episode Two: 25m:26s
Apple >>>      SPOTIFY >>>
I take a trip to Shrewsbury in the Welsh Marches via The Wrekin — the landscape that inspired Tolkien’s Middle Earth and there I talk about the Horned God and the origins of the Arthurian legends. I visit Eton… the “real” Hogwarts for my birthday and I discuss the life of Toni Morrison (RIP). Later I discover the magical power of True Names and study the three types of myth. My fabulous creature of the week is: the Swan Maiden. My wildflower of the week is: Chili Pepper

WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK:

When I started this show I didn’t think about connections…. some connections between the talking points and topics have been obvious… some have been obscure … others have been – frankly – eerie or hair-raising.

For example, this weekend I traveled 160 miles from Staines to Shrewsbury pronounced Shroosbury (like the animal, the shrew) — a name that derives from the Old English word Scrobbesburh or “Scrub” (as in bush) and Burgh as in town. Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire … also known in England (officially) as SALOP. No, I’m not kidding. Anyway, Shrewsbury is largely an unspoilt medieval town with timber framed houses and a red sandstone castle built by Roger the Great de Montgomery, the first Earl of Shrewsbury in 1070. The castle was rebuilt in 1643.

I went to Shrewsbury to compete in the Rocky Horror Marathon! You don’t need to know that, but it tells you a little more about who I am and what I do when I’m not writing novels! Anyway, before my trip I didn’t know that Tolkien had a connection with this area. I covered his “Black Country” in Episode One of the show. It is said that the Wrekin (pronounced REE-KIN ) was an inspiration for Middle Earth – the author lived near and liked to walk on this landmark. It’s a curious shaped hill that just sprouts from the earth without warning – like a grass covered Uluru / Ayers Rock . There is an Iron Age hill fort at the very top.

Stone Age man lived in this area around 2,000BC and they worshiped an unknown deity.

Though most scholars agree that the place known originally as Scrobbesbyrig was settled by Saxons in the 7th century.

Then it was in the Kingdom of Mercia (mentioned in Episode One of Myth & Magic). Shrewsbury became the county town of Shropshire around the beginning of the 11th century.

The town is situated near the River Severn about 9 miles from the Welsh border.

It’s claimed that King Arthur came from Shropshire, probably from near here. Academics believe Arthur was British warrior who, following the Roman withdrawal in the fifth century, defeated the invading Anglo-Saxons at the battle of Badon in 493AD. Excavations at the Dark Age capital of Powys, Wroxeter, about four miles east of Shrewsbury, have shown that in the fifth century the city may have been the most sophisticated in the realm. So Viroconium at Wroxeter was probably the “actual” Camelot and his crown jewels may have been hidden in Wenlock Priory, Much Wenlock. An Anglo-Saxon monastery was established here in AD680.

Horned God on the Gundestrup cauldron - 200BC photo credit Kern8

The Horned God on the Gundestrup cauldron – 200BC photo credit Kern8

Old Oswestry HILL FORT in the Welsh Marches (MARCHES means border lands) was built by “People of the Horn” who worshiped the “Horned God”. This was believed to be these peoples “Capital.” In traditional Wicca The Horned God is a dualistic god: bright and dark, night and day, summer and winter: in summer he’s the Oak King and in winter, he’s the Holly King. He has two horns (see above) to symbolize his dual nature. For Wiccans, the Horned God is the personification of the life force energy… (see also ZEE in Myth & Magic Episode One).

The Horned God leads the wild hunt . In this guise is he Herne the Hunter? And in the guise of the OAK KING and the HOLLY KING (there’s the dual face again) is he the mysterious Green Man?

I might return to the Horned God later and I will definitely be covering the green man in another show, as well as Herne the Hunter and the Oak King/Holly King. Look out for future episodes.

Back to Shrewsbury: The town appears in the Brother Cadfael novels by Ellis Peters (pen name of Edith Pargeter). The novels take Shrewsbury Abbey as a settin. Charles Darwin was born in the town in 1809

Eton College gatehouse : Photo Credit @neilmach 2019 ©

Eton College gatehouse : Photo Credit @neilmach 2019 ©

LOCUS IN QUO : EATON

Just five minutes from my home is the grand medieval Norman castle of Windsor. This is where a real-life monarch resides. The Queen rules over her subjects from stone towers that have been lived-in for a thousand years. Around the castle is the Great Park and this contains some of the oldest broad-leaved woodlands in Europe. If you wanted to see a fairy ring, this is where to go. The habitat is private and untouched.

Five minutes from the castle, and over a footbridge, is Eton College founded in 1441.

For many years the College Chapel was a place of pilgrimage because it holds important religious relics, such as a part of the True Cross and the Crown of Thorns as well as England’s Apocalypse manuscript. You might remember seeing pictures of Prince William and Prince Harry in their Eton school uniforms when they attended Eton: the schoolboys still wear striped trousers, long tailcoat, black waistcoat, white bow tie, stiff winged collars and a few boys still wear boaters (its an all-boys school by the way) I’ve never seen an Eton schoolboy wearing a top hat, but apparently this was a common sight just a few years ago.

Eton - Tea-towel seen by me in a shop window

Eton – Tea-towel seen by me in a shop window

The reason I mention Eton is that I think of this place as the “real” Hogwarts… isn’t it though? The boys go onto to become prime-ministers, bishops, kings, princes and maharajahs. They wear “costume” they belong to “houses” and they “board.” There’s lots of myth and magic to the place too: A recent study by the University of Reading claimed that the Montem Mound (a bump of earth where the Eaton boys regularly meet and chat) and was also the place of grand school initiation ceremonies for many years before the tradition was axed, is most likely a Saxon burial mound. Could that explain the slightly druidic nature of the initiation ceremony? Is the mound the source of the school’s power? [http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-archive/press-releases/pr728950.html]

The Eton school uniform - a sign seen by me in a shop window

The Eton school uniform – a sign seen by me in a shop window

MYTH AND MAGIC NEWS

RIP TONI MORRISON

Toni Morrison photo credit Zarateman

Toni Morrison photo credit Zarateman

There’s sad news that the Ohio born 88 YEAR OLD author of Song of Solomon (1977) TONI MORRISON has died.

In the late 1960s, TONI became the first black female editor in fiction at Random House in New York City.

She was was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993

Her father grew up in Cartersville, Georgia and, when a teenager, witnessed a lynching.

When Morrison was two years old, her family’s landlord set fire to their house, while they were home, because her parents could not pay the rent.

In 1949, TONI enrolled at the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., seeking the company of fellow black intellectuals.While at the Howard she encountered racially segregated restaurants and buses for the first time.

She graduated in 1953 with a B.A. in English and went on to earn a Master of Arts from Cornell

Her first published novel: The Bluest Eye – about about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes – has been described as a mix of history, sociology, folklore, and nightmare.

In 1996, television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey selected Song of Solomon for her newly launched Book Club. He horror/drama Beloved (1987) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was made into a film with: Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, and Thandie Newton in 1998.

In 1981 she released “Tar Baby” [I touched on the Tar baby in the Episode One show notes] and in a 1995 interview she explained: “A tar pit was a holy place because tar was used to build things. Tar held together the Pyramids and Moses’ little boat […] for me a tar baby is a black woman who can hold things together.”

MAGIC WORD OF THE WEEK

TRUE NAME

A true name is a name of a thing or being that expresses, or is somehow identical to, its true nature. And there’s a notion that knowledge of a true name allows one to affect another person magically.

For example, in the German fairy-tale of Rumpelstiltskin: the girl victim can only free herself from the supernatural power by learning his true name.

A legend of Saint Olaf King of Norway recounts how a troll built a church for the saint at a fantastic speed and price, but the saint was able to free himself from debt by learning the troll’s name.(By the way, Skaldic poetry of 1014 suggests it was Olaf who pulled down London Bridge)

In the English ballad of “Earl Brand” the Earl (betrayed by Woden) elopes with his beloved and the hero can defeat all his enemies until the heroine pleads with him by name to spare her youngest brother, and that’s when he loses his magical power.

In North English folklore there’s the belief that a boggart (a household spirit of mischief) should never be named. When a boggart is given a true name, it cannot be reasoned with.

You will know that in The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins uses a great deal of trickery to keep the dragon, Smaug, from learning his TRUE NAME.

In Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files a wizard or other magical being can gain power over anyone by knowing their TRUE NAME.

To protect yourself from magic, it’s best to stay safe and never reveal your TRUE NAME

Fantasy Writers Definitions: THIS WEEK: AETIOLOGICAL MYTH

Etiology is the study of the “cause” or “origin” of something.

Thus, an etiological myth, or origin myth is a myth that has arisen over time to explain the origins of some phenomena. Are fossils of dinosaurs “dragon bones”? Does a narwhal tusk explain the existence of unicorns? When it thundered, my mother would tell me that “God was pushing around his furniture upstairs.” Is that any different to the notion that thunder is caused by Zeus getting angry or Thor throwing his war hammer?

Linguistically, you have to be a bit careful of etymological reinterpretation for example, hamburgers aren’t “burgers” made from Ham. But are a foodstuff connected with Hamburg.

It’s said that there are Three Types of Myth :

* The aetiological myth – a “back story” that can be disproved by science or academic study

* The historical myth – accounts of an historical event that have been kept alive by what’s often called “folk memory.” But can be disproved by academic research. Most of the King Arthur tales can be put into this heading.

* The psychological myth – a divine force, coming from the outside, that can directly influence a person’s emotions. For example, the goddess, Aphrodite, is sometimes seen as the power of erotic love. Or the “Horned God” can protect a man’s masculinity.

Fabulous Creature of the Week: THIS WEEK SWAN MAIDEN

Swan Maidens on the Thames - photo credit @neilmach 2019 ©

My Swan Maidens on the Thames – picture taken last week – photo credit @neilmach 2019 ©

Wayland the Smith was a “weird and malicious craftsman” according to the famed folklorist, Jessie Weston.

He appears in Völundr’s poem from the Poetic Edda — a collection of Old Norse poems — the poem opens with a description of three swan-maidens … one morning Wayland Smith and his brothers find three women on the shore of the lake, who are spinning flax. Near them were swan garments, for they were Valkyries. Wayland and his brothers marry the women but they migrate (as swans) after nine years. It seems that the Swan Maidens were shapeshifters who could change from human form into swan form.

Therianthropy (shape shifting) has long existed in mythology, and is even depicted in ancient cave drawings

So it seems the SWAN MAIDENS are a folk memory of Migration and Settlement.

Tchaikovsky’s SWAN LAKE tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse – the tale most likely taken from a German folk story collected by Johann Karl August Musäu during the period: 1782 to 1786 (The Stolen Veil) Is Odette a SWAN MAIDEN?

Studies have claimed that the concept of the SWAN MAIDEN probably appeared during the Paleolithic period, in Pacific Asia, before spreading out through Europe and then across the world. The Maidens share characteristics with the “Crane Wife” (Japan) and even the half-woman selkies of Orcadian and Shetlandic legend – also shape-shifters who are trapped by man by having their (feathers) seal-skin taken from them.

The Elven princess Eärwen in The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien was referred to as a “swan maiden”

Alianora, a swan maiden, joins Holger on his adventures in the 1961 fantasy novel “Three Hearts and Three Lions” by Poul Anderson.

In the fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons” (heavily influenced by Anderson’s novel) the Fabulous Creatures are known as Swanmays

Wildflower of the Week THIS WEEK : CHILI PEPPERS

My Chili Pepper - growing in my conservatory August 2019

My Chili Pepper – growing in my conservatory August 2019

My eldest daughter was kind enough to send me a Chili pepper plant for Father’s Day. (Father’s Day in the UK is on the third Sunday in June – it’s interesting that the day corresponds to the Sky Father’s Day i.e. the Midsummer solstice, don’t you think? (Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of an American Civil War veteran is responsible for the modern day annual celebration, but perhaps that discussion’s for another time). Back to my Chili – it’s growing well in my sunny conservatory (I have a picture above to prove it) and I’ve already got two nice fruits to eat.

Capsicum fruits have been a part of the human diet since 7,500 BC, and are one of the oldest cultivated crops.

When Christopher Columbus reached the Caribbean and the ship’s doctor encountered the Capsicum, he called the fruits “peppers” because the plants reminded the European of Black pepper (Piper nigrum) and they tasted hot and spicy. They are known as Uchu to the Incas.

The Pre-Columbian people had no monetary system but a handful of chilies (Rantii) would buy most things.

It is said the Columbus took some pepper seeds to the Hieronymite monks at The Royal Monastery of Santa María of Guadalupe in Spain so it’s assumed these were the first Europeans to discover the taste of spicy peppers and to cultivate them outside the “New World.”

In South Asia, it is believed that chili peppers have supernatural abilities, so they hang a few above the entrance to their homes to deter evil

Chili Peppers also guard against the EVIL EYE

Thanks to http://www.chileplanet.eu for the facts

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Moondog and the Reed Leopard - click here

Moondog and the Reed Leopard – click here

SOUNDCLIP Credits Episode 2

Walking on leaves : imagiatv
High Chant : adharca
swan maidens : straget
Hunting Horn : Countrychap999
Church Bell: Ravishekhar
Detuned piano chord: RutgerMuller
Thunder: mikaelfernstrom

Moondog and the Reed Leopard

MOONDOG AND THE REED LEOPARD

The man told her that he saw a huge cat-like beast with large padded feet and a long ginger tail. He said the hellcat prowled twenty feet from his hiding place, so he waited — like a pilgrim on his knees — in prayerful stillness.  He forgot all about his discomfort as the fabulous fiery animal skulked across the vista to bathe in a mysterious golden light. The man felt convinced the creature was a harbinger of some terrible future event.Extract from Moondog and the Reed Leopard

Reed Leopard

The Reed Leopard

A bored teenager seeks help from Moondog.

Moondog is a Romani detective. He is called when other investigators hesitate. He inquires into things that lay beyond normal human experience, and where things hang in the balance between mundane and miraculous. Moondog does not work well with others… But now he must join Hopie, because the citizens of Hugh-Lupus are tormented by a miscellany of evil.

Hopie admitted she got a kick from all the secret skullduggery and maneuvering involved… she felt thrilled to be permitted to join Moondog’s clandestine world — a world of double-bamboozling and slippery-slick chicanery.  On the other hand, she knew it wasn’t likely that she’d meet his expectations…Extract from Moondog and the Reed Leopard

The new low-fantasy / urban-fantasy full-length novel from Neil Mach is out now. Print Length: 435 pages File Size: 665 KB  

She’d experienced an indefinable moment. It had truly been one of the most electrifying happenings of her life. She knew she’d appreciate it forever, appreciate him forever…
Extract from Moondog and the Reed Leopard

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Moondog and the Reed Leopard by Neil Mach

Moondog and the Reed Leopard by Neil Mach

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