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Thirteen Surprising Facts About 'The Wicker Man' (with Just a Wee Bit of Snarkiness from the Blogger)

Yes folks, it's time for your annual appointment with...the Wicker Man.

(No, not the one with Nicholas Cage!)


The role of Sergeant Howie was originally offered to actor Michael York. He turned it down.*

American composer Paul Giovanni, who wrote the film's score, was the boyfriend of director Anthony Shaffer's brother Paul at the time. That's how Shaffer knew him.

Though set at Beltane, the film was actually filmed in mid-October. Between takes of the bonfire-leaping scene, the naked schoolgirls had to be bundled up in blankets to warm them up.

Because of the cold temperatures, while shooting many of the outdoor scenes, the actors had to hold ice cubes in their mouths so that their breath wouldn't smoke.

The blooming apple trees are all artificial. Because the budget was so tight, they had to keep moving the few trees that they had for the sweep shots of the orchards.

The phallic topiary, however, was all real. It was filmed at Hush House Manor in Kent, home of actor David Kennings (who had also been offered the role of Howie and turned it down).

Rowan and Howie's escape through the caves was shot at Wookey Hole caves in Somerset, home of the famous Witch of Wookey.

Edward Woodward (Howie) actually broke a toe on a rock while being dragged to the Wicker Man. (Technically, this injury should have disqualified him as a sacrifice, but of course—as their pastiche paganism suggests—these are neo-pagans we're talking about.)

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Rebuking Lord Summerisle

Lord Summerisle, I have a bone to pick with you.

So, they're dragging Sergeant Howie off to be burned in the Wicker Man.

"Don't you see?" Howie cries to you. "When it doesn't work, next year they'll come for you!"

He says that to you, Lord Summerisle, and you say nothing in response. Instead you look nonplussed, as if such a thing had never even crossed your mind.

Shame on you, Summerisle. Shame on you.

You have no right to be king if you're not willing to die for your people. That's the price of a crown. The only worthy sacrifice is a willing sacrifice, as you should have known before you lured an innocent victim (however obnoxious) in from the Mainland to be your surrogate.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Lurker in the Lake

Did you know that there's a giant octopus in Lake Erie?

One that has wrecked ships and been responsible for hundreds of mysterious disappearances over the years?

To the uninitiated, this eldritch being is generally, unimaginatively, known as the Erie Octopus, but those of a, shall we say, darker disposition call this Old One instead by his true name: Yog-Nazathog.

High school was a great time to discover to world of Lovecraft. At the time we lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, AKA New Arkham (after the witch-hunts of the late 17th century, the most stalwart worshipers of the Old Ones fled west, and founded a port on the southern shores of Lake Erie), so as a budding writer, naturally I wrote about what I knew.

The story itself is long gone. (I don't think I actually called it The Lurker in the Lake, but I may have.) It took the form of a series of letters from various people that eventually revealed the usual Lovecraftian Dark Powers poised and ready to spring just beneath the outer layer of seeming reality, italicized last sentence and all.

With the cruel superiority of adolescence, a friend and I used to terrorize his little brother with tales of the Erie Octopus. There you'd be, standing on the cliff looking out over the lake, when suddenly you'd feel it: the tentacle around your waist, gripping inexorably, lifting you up off your feet, lifting, pulling, and you scream, scream....

Poor little Larry believed implicitly in the Erie Octopus. One day, down at the Lake, we really had him going.

“Ohmigod, look, there it is....!" "The Octopus!" "It's coming in!" "Shit: run, run, run!”

We ran.

Finally Larry's mom made us stop. He was beginning to be afraid of the Lake. When you live near a body of water, you have to respect it, but you can't fear it.

Oh, but then came a night. Payback, you could call it.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Those days were the beginning and end of my Lovecraft period. Since then, I've found his writing pretty much unreadable. I do sti
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading Lovecraft back in the 70's. I even have that book of his poems "Fungi from Yuggoth" around somewhere. In the
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    When living in Berkeley years ago, and frequently seeing friends at Chaosium, I designed maps for Call of Cthulhu. It was great fu
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Ah, my dear Mr. Azedius, I've sometimes wondered why pagans are so often drawn to Cthulhuiana. Personally, I suspect a little se

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Bring on the Blackthorn!

This wild and weird winter. It has been coldier and snowier than usual in Ireland. And what snow we got was POWDER, instead of the wet stuff that automatically turns our lane into an ice rink. Normally, winter is - should be, OUGHT to be - a time of going within and hibernation. But not the winter of 2018! This first quarter has rocketed. It has jetted through time zones and international datelines.

That's a metaphor actually. I have strayed no further than county Mayo at March New Moon. It's just been very, very busy.

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Everything's better with Parsley on it

            "Remember the parsley," Stephen said as I got out the eggs to make scrambled eggs for supper.

I nodded and smiled. "I have some in the 'Fridge, already cut up.    

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MOUSE FAMILY: Examine Life’s Lessons

Mice have taken up residence in my kitchen. The old building that I live in is a haven for snakes and mice with my kitchen being a thoroughfare. Of course, I wondered what message the mice have to tell me. 

Mice are natural archivists. Besides storing seeds, they carefully line their nests with grasses. Using the materials at hand, their nest becomes a time capsule of their home area. In cities, mice nests are treasure troves for archeologists. These nests contain bits and pieces of paper, buttons, and other historical objects.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Are You Doing for New Moon?

In the year 691 the emperor Justinian II convoked what has come to be known as the Quinsext Council.

Bishops from all over the Christian world gathered near Constantinople to pass 85 different canons, mostly of a disciplinary nature.

A clergyman may not own a tavern. No one may have a Jewish doctor or “consort with Jews in the baths.” It is forbidden to give communion to the dead.

Of special interest to pagans is Canon 65: It is prohibited to build New Moon bonfires.

New Moon bonfires.

In “a world lit only by fire,” the Moon is important. Nights are dark without the Moon. So when she comes back from her three-nights' sojourn in the Underworld, what you do?

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