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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Getting Medieval

Sometimes gifts arrive in a timely manner. Just in time for the beginning of the semester, a news story broke that provided fodder for first day discussion in my medieval courses: Pagans demand return of church buildings 'stolen' 1,300 years agoUsually it's great when the news covers the Middle Ages because it makes the period seem more relevant to my students who generally think things that happened a couple of decades ago are 'ancient' already.

This news item gave me a chance to say yes, it was the practice to 'repurpose' temples: we have a letter from Pope Gregory instructing an abbot to follow this advice:

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    "these modern pagans have no leg to stand on with their argument that the buildings belonged to them. The temples might just as we
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    There were translations of portions of the bible: King Alfred had Genesis translated in the ninth century because he was afraid of

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Art is Temporary, As Are We

"And they painted on cardboard, because it was new, cheap, and affordable. But they didn't know it wasn't archival, so very little of that work remains intact."  -The words of one of my art history professors, talking about a group of abstract expressionists or similar genre of artists from the 40's-50's. 

It sounded like some sort of moral failing - that these artists had abandoned expensive, time-tested techniques of canvas or wood panels to try something they could afford and was plentiful.  

Having been in art school for a good chunk of my life, as well as a professional high-end picture framer, I have come to see how much museum-culture of the last 300 hundred years has had an effect on the modern art-making process.  That we must work with archival materials, watch out for UV light and dampness, preserve, preserve, preserve.  Think about the future of your work.

The other week while finishing up my book tour, we stopped at Mt. Rushmore, as well as watched the 15-minute film about the making of it. I believe it was in part of a speech from FDR where he talked about the world 10,000 years from now, and what future generations of Americans may think when they see the monument, worn by the weather and time.  In that moment I was thinking two things: if there are even human beings on this planet then - and the condition of the giant sphinx in Egypt.

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Well said and thought provoking! Thanks for posting. I have forwaded this to a few artist friends. Namaste, Tasha

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Dangerous Fairy Women

Anyone acquainted with the long history of fairy encounters from the most ancient to Thomas of Erceldoune to now knows, as Graham Joyce would tell you, to be wary of the EDFF (extremely dangerous fairy folk). You wouldn't call them fairies either, if you had any sense. Be polite to the Gentry.

Yet in the past there were many men foolish enough to try to summon them as lovers.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    "This mix of misogyny and lechery" -- doesn't that phrase exactly describe most modern men's attitudes towards women? Which is wh

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Riding with Nicnevin

The Scottish version of Hecate (at least according to some) rides with a company of 'weird sisters' in the night, with wild plans of mischief. No wonder I think of it now that Walpurgisnacht is upon us. There's a most interesting poem that offers us insight in to the beliefs of the past. 'The Flyting Betwixt Montgomerie and Polwart' is a humorous verbal battle. Flyting is probably better known amongst the Norse, but the Scots have that tradition of joshing verbal battles, too. Though a challenging text, the 16th century poet Montgomerie demonstrates well the variety and force of Scottish insults (seriously!) but there's also some interesting supernatural information that usually comes in the form of scurrilous suggestions like:

 Wih warwolfes and wild Cats thy weird be to wander

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Charm for Weaving

Weaving has long been a winter activity. As the last vestiges of the cold hang on hereabouts, the thought of spring still seems distant. But friends have been sharing pictures of their new lambs so it's coming nonetheless. The whole cycle from wool to woven begins again.

There has long been an association of magic with weaving. While dismissed as 'women's work' often, its intricacies inspire wonder at its mysteries. If you don't know how to do a thing, the process can look like magic. Indeed the association goes back to the Moirai, the Parcae, the Norns and even Macbeth's three witches. The threads they weave, measure and cut -- how do they affect our fates? And what are the incantations they mutter over the threads?

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I was going to write an article about the Pleiades in Minoan spirituality and culture for today’s blog, but the research time for that got pre-empted by the fact that my husband was hospitalized and then had major surgery. I promise to write about the Pleiades later. But the whole surgery-and-hospital thing got me thinking about the role of the gods in our lives and how that has changed—or hasn’t—since ancient times.

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  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    Very true! And unfortunately so easy to forget, seems like, in this day and age of MEDICINE/SCIENCE/what-have-you CAN SOLVE ANYTHI

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Nettles & Mugwort

While I was reading Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes, a too much neglected classic of witchcraft fiction, I was struck by a rhyme Lolly's Nannie Quantrell had taught her as a child, which she had learned from her grandmother:

If they would eat nettles in March

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