Today is Saint Carannog’s Day, as some of you know I am rather fond of this particular saint, and wrote about him once.
There are a few extant stories about him, and my favorite never seemed particularly Christian, at least to me. It is also unusually pro-dragon; even though it comes from as anti-dragon an age as ours. But nobody seems to be celebrating. I take it as a sign of anti-dragon bias.
On Walpurgis Night none should leave,
Or walk alone, on the Witches’ Sabbath
When the devilish and the wicked walk the Earth —
The wicked who hide all year in the heaths
And the wicked among us who want to join them. –Kreduleð of Gulmanshire
Of Kreduleð we know nothing except that he stayed in the abbey of Gulmanshire for much of his life and disappeared in April 535. This brief poem and a Latin treatise on gardening are the only works currently attributed to him.
NOTE: This article was featured on my old blog on February 4th, 2013. But it seems much longer ago than that. And that bit at the end is new.
This is a translation from Old English that I did last summer. I’ve shown it to a few of my friends but there isn’t any place to publish it, in spite of its inherent interest.
It’s a relic of a bygone day which was not more barbaric (if you think we are more humane look in your closet and see how much of your wardrobe was made in a sweatshop), but rather a time when all knowledge—medical included—was symbolic, not scientific, and when the most heartbreaking human conditions were utterly untreatable.
I’m not sure what the symbolic uses of the porpoises or the whips are. It’s quite possible that their meanings are completely transparent and are simply unknown to me or, that like much of the traditional Northern European culture, they have been lost over the last millennium.
If a man goes mad make a whip
Fashioned from the pelt of a porpoise and flog him.
Once whipped he will soon be well.
Addendum: There are certain things that I have come to think of as cultural mathoms — little songs and poems from our ancestors, odd customs, and that sort of thing that I’d like to see preserved and remembered — even if they no longer have the currency that they once did.
A few weeks ago I went to a restaurant with a friend who chided me when I tried to find a place to put my hat. She wanted me to just keep it on, and that it was no big deal, and that I should stop being so old-fashioned. I ended up putting it on the table, but I don’t think that she understood the gesture.
Anyway, this little cure is one of those mathoms, a little part of tradition to tip the hat to.
The long awaited After Avalon anthology got back from the printer yesterday. This is a special joy to me because I wrote the piece Paste-Bones and Ragdolls many years ago and never thought that it would find its way into print, in spite of it being one of my favorites.
The anthology itself is about the world after the king left Camelot, and what happened to its survivors, and those who tried to find it again.
My own story is of Gawain and Bleys — an old memory of an old time far removed from the buying and selling of the world — the sort of thing that might serve on a rainy day. It is a strange piece, but perhaps a good one, at least if you are open to it — and to tales of the old days, and to the old style, and to the belief in wonders.
Next month The Oldstyle Tales Press will be issuing Priceless Treasures and Ghastly: a Slight Collection of Hallowe’en Tales and Miscellanea, a collection of five of my short stories, lavishly illustrated by author, scholar, and artist M. Grant Kellermeyer.
It won’t be a book for everyone — those with mid-century mindsets will object to fantastika, and there is too much sex, alcohol, and Putin for it to be suitable for children. But it will be suitable for people waiting by the door giving out candy to their snot-nosed neighbors. And, because it’s only a chapbook, they will be able to read it before their own kids get back in.
This is my first book to be published, and I can’t imagine a better place to publish it than the OSTP, a place where imagination, scholarship, and an unwholsome attraction to the uncanny sit quietly and beautifully in thoughtfully illustrated books. Even a cursory look at the website shows the care and attention given to the titles, and it is an honor to keep such company.
Details such as price and release date, will be posted soon.