Chris de Burgh’s A Spaceman Came Traveling

A Spaceman Came Traveling

(Chris de Burgh)

Earth

A spaceman came traveling on his ship from afar,
‘Twas light years of time since his mission did start,
And over a village he halted his craft,
And it hung in the sky like a star, just like a star.

He followed a light and came down to a shed
Where a mother and child were lying there on a bed.
A bright light of silver shone round his head,
And he had the face of an angel, and they were afraid.

Then the stranger spoke. He said, “Do not fear,
I come from a planet a long way from here,
And I bring a message for mankind to hear.”
And suddenly the sweetest music filled the air.

And it went “La la la la la la la la la,
La la la la la la la, la la la la la la la la la.
Peace and goodwill to all men and love for the child.
La la la la la la la la la, la la la la la la la, la la la la la la la la la, oh!”

This lovely music went trembling through the ground
And many were awakened on hearing that sound,
And travelers on the road
The village they found,by the light of that ship in the sky
Which shone all around.

And just before dawn at the paling of the sky,
The stranger returned and said, “Now I must fly!
When two thousand years of your time has gone by
This song will begin once again to a baby’s cry.”

And it goes “La la la la la la la la.
La la la la la la la, la la la la la la la la la.
Peace and goodwill to all men,and love for the child.”
And I hear “La la la la la la la la la la la,
La la la la la la, la la la la la la la la la la la la,
This song will begin once again to a baby’s cry.”

Oh the whole world is waiting – waiting to hear that song again
Standing on the edge of the world.
And the time is nearly here . . .

That song will begin once again, to a baby’s cry.

Check out this imaginative video version by Artwayfarer:

(Photo: Public Domain)

(Video: YouTube)

Copyright © 2022 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

Tarot Cards

Tarot Cards

  • Tarot Cards originated in the Middle Ages, probably in 15th Century Northern Italy.
  • They were first designed as a pastime to play games with.
  • The first cards were rare and hand-painted. They became widespread with the invention of the printing press.
  • By the late 18th century, Tarot Cards used for telling fortunes and special custom decks appeared.
  • Etteilla made the first pack of occult cards around 1789 based on Ancient Egyptian themes.
  • The Tarot pack is divided into two parts – the Minor Arcana (suited cards), and the Major Arcana (unsuited cards).
  • The four suits are usually SWORDS, CUPS, COINS (pentacles / discs) and BATONS (wands / rods / staves).
  • The unsuited cards are: The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Lovers, The Hierophant (Pope), Strength, The Hermit, The Chariot, Justice, The Hanged Man, The Wheel of Fortune, Death, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Sun, The Moon, Judgement, The Fool, The World, and Temperance (Angel).
  • There is a “spread” for every occasion. Different types of “reading” serve different purposes: A three-card reading can represent past / present/ future; a single card signifies the day ahead or can answer a specific question; a seven-card spread may represent the coming week.
  • Many people use Tarot Cards to guide their personal daily decisions.
  • Do they predict the future? Or do they merely help focus our thoughts to deal with everyday events? What do you think?

Sources:

“A Beginners Guide to Tarot Cards.” The Cut at http://www.thecut.com/article/tarot.cards

“A Q&A With Colleen McCann.” Goop at http://www.goop.com/wellness/spirituality/how-to-use-tarot-cards-to-guide-daily-decision-making 

“Tarot.” Wikipedia at http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarot

(Photo: Public Domain)

Copyright © 2022 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

The Last Wolf In England

“. . . now witchcraft celebrates

Pale Hecate’s offerings; and wither’d murder,

Alarum’d by his sentinel, the wolf,

Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,

With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design

Moves like a ghost.”

Macbeth Act 2 Scene 1

According to Roman and Saxon chronicles, the British Isles were once overrun with wolves.  But a combination of deforestation and hunting virtually exterminated all traces of the Eurasian grey canis lupus by the end of the medieval period.  At a time when wool production was the major industry, anything that threatened sheep farming was a serious public threat.  So between 1066 and 1154, Norman rulers awarded land to official wolf-hunters, on the condition that they controlled the predators in their area.  And as part of a plea-bargain to avoid execution, certain criminals could elect to provide an annual number of wolf tongues to escape the gallows.

By Henry Vi’s reign, wolves were found only in Scotland, Wales, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire.  But they lived on in the public imagination, and were often one of the familiars associated with witchcraft.

Eurasian wolf (Photo: Public Domain)

Legend claims that the last English wolf was killed at Humphrey Head, north of Morcambe Bay, at a place that used to be called Lancashire Over Sands.  At some time during the Fourteenth Century a royal bounty was offered for each wolf pelt captured, and during one of the local hunts Sir Edgar Harrington became separated from his companions and rode for the top of Humphrey Head to look for them.  On his way through the forest he heard the terrified shrieks of a young girl cowering behind a rock, hiding from an enormous growling wolf.  Taking his spear Harrington battled the wolf, rescued the maiden, and took her back to safety.  Apparently, when her gratitude turned into love, the couple were married and they lived happily thereafter with a healthy batch of children.  They put an image of a wolf’s head on their family crest and today lie buried together in Cartmel Priory, with a stone wolf carved at their feet.

How refreshing to have a romantic tale about wolves at a time when they were generally associated with witchcraft and evil!

Sources:

Ashworth, Elizabeth. Tales of Old Lancashire (Berkshire: Countryside, 2007)

Wikipedia: “Wolves in Great Britain” available http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolves_in_Great_Britain (2/24/2015)

Copyright © 2022 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

Kit’s Crit: Wicked Enchantments (Froome)

What if the Lancashire Witches were actually guilty of practicing magic?  Joyce Froome’s book, Wicked Enchantments: a history of the Pendle Witches & their magic (Lancaster: Carnegie,2010) explores this possibility from the prespective of the two teenagers involved, James and Alizon Device.

Froome

Froome’s website describes her methodology.  She uses “quotations from a wealth of original sources, such as trial records and books of magic,” alongside “photographs of magical artifacts.”

This unique compilation – based on the sound scholarly research of an assistant curator at the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall –  focuses on the seventeenth-century rituals and spells that the poor cunning folk of Pendle may have used to eek out a living: love potions, healing tonics, protection charms, curses, good-luck talismans, fertility magic, and fortune-telling paraphernalia.  In addition to multiple illustrations, there are also photographs of a modern family recreating many of the ancient rituals.

The only negative comment I have is that the binding of my book fell apart from frequent reading!  But aside from this, Wicked Enchantments  is a fascinating, well-documented, alternative portrayal of the Device family.  Their spells are clearly explained.  And I fully concur with Froome’s conclusion that centuries later “there were still cunning folk around Pendle Hill . . . . Magic had survived both demonisation and ridicule” (310).     

Wicked Enchantments could have become a dry, intellectual, historical examination, were it not for the clever organization, and Froome’s subtle humor shining through the pages.

I love her opening warning: “You are strongly advised NOT to attempt any of the spells described in this book – particularly the one that involves removing a tooth from a live wolf” (iv).  Reader beware!

More information is available at Joyce Froome’s website: http://www.joycefroome.com/wicked_enchantments.htm

Copyright © 2022 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

On Edge

EDGE
(Sylvia Plath)
“. . . The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.”
(Photo: Kit Perriman)
Copyright © 2022 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved

Olde English Honey Crispels

Try this medieval recipe for a sweet, fried pastry called Honey Crispels.

Ingredients

8oz plain flour

4oz butter (to rub in)

1-2oz butter (as needed for frying)

pinch of salt

I egg

2-3 tablespoons cold water

8 tablespoons honey

sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon

Method

1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl.  Cut up the butter and rub in the flour until the mixture looks like large breadcrumbs.

2. Add the egg and sufficient water to bind in a dough.

3. Roll out on a floured surface to a thin pastry dough. Cut in 2-3″ circles.  (Hint: To hold more honey, fashion a small lip round the edge of each circle so there is a slight hollow in the center).

4. Heat the butter (without burning) in a large frying pan.  Fry each round of dough until crisp.  Set on the paper to drain.

5. Slowly bring the honey to a boil over a medium heat, skimming any scum from the surface.  Stir well to clarify.  Brush over the surface of each fried pastry allowing some of the mix to sit and cool in the trough.

6. Modern Version: Dust with icing sugar, nutmeg or cinnamon.

7. Enjoy warm or cold.

* This recipe makes 4-8 crispels, and they take 2-5 minutes to fry, depending on size.  Larger crispels are light and flaky.  Smaller ones tend to be crunchier.

Honey Crispels

(Photo: Public Domain)

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The Scrying Game

Since the days of the Ancient Persians, wizards, witches, and Romany gypsies and have sought for ways to look beyond the familiar world around them.  Cunning folk have stared into fire, water, polished stone, magic mirrors, and crystal balls, seeking divination of hidden knowledge – visions of future events – or clairvoyant arts to find lost objects and detect criminals.

Scrying is a common Celtic practice too.  It comes from the Old English word descry and means to make out dimly or to reveal the past, present, or future.  Used to detect chaos, evil, good, and magic, scrying often brings a message.  The seer goes into a trance and uncovers a series of hidden images, rather like a movie playing inside their skull.  But the visions are symbolic and need interpreting, which is a skill that is only learned and honed over time.

Look into Kit’s crystal ball below.  I see you – if you see me too then perhaps you’ve also got the gift!

Crystal ball

(Photo: Public Domain)

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A Less-Known Lancashire Witch: Meg Shelton

Aside from the infamous Pendle Witches who were put on trial in 1612 and 1634, there were other unfortunate victims maligned and persecuted throughout Lancashire.  Many of their names were never recorded.  Some were accused and later released – some went to court and were found Not Guilty – and some were undoubtedly dealt with by the locals in their own ways.

In these unenlightened times it was common for women denounced as witches, shrews, and gossips to be locked inside a scold’s bridle – a metal brank that caged the head and prevented eating or speech.

scold

(Photo: Kit Perriman)

Public floggings and placement in the stocks were also regular market-day events.  And tales of dunking suspected witches in near-by ponds and rivers to see if they were guilty (and floated) or innocent (and drowned) are part of local folklore.  So it is quite surprising that one other name still fills the local schoolchildren with terror – Meg Shelton, The Fylde Hag.

Born Margery Hilton, Meg (or Mag) Shelton is said to have lived at various times in Cuckoo Hall near Wesham, Singleton, Catforth, and Woodplumpton.  She was a poor beggar woman who survived mainly on a haggis made from boiled grouts and herbs.  Meg is infamous for her shape-shifting skills, and apparently could turn into a variety of animals and all sorts of inanimate objects at will.  One tale records her creeping into a barnyard at night to steal corn.  When the farmer ran out after her there was no one in sight, though he did notice an extra sack of corn.  So taking his pitchfork he prodded each bag, finally uncovering Meg’s disguise when she squealed and reappeared nursing a bleeding arm!  Another of her injuries was explained by an accident trying to outrun a black dog when she was disguised as a hare.  The dog nipped the hare’s hind leg – and Meg was said to walk with a limp thereafter.  Meg was often seen riding her broomstick at night.  She could turn milk sour, lame cattle, and  curse hogs.

But the reason folk remember the Fylde Hag today is because of the strange events surrounding her death.  She was killed in 1705, crushed between a barrel and the wall of her cottage.  She was buried on May 2nd, at night, by torchlight, in the grounds of St. Anne’s Church in Woodplumpton.  The following morning her hand had clawed its way to the surface and had to be reburied.  The same thing happened again and everyone was naturally terrified.  A priest came and performed an exorcism.  Then someone suggested they rebury her upside down so she would dig her way to Hell, instead of to the surface.  So they planted her head-first in a narrow trough, and then put a huge granite boulder on top to keep her in place.

In hindsight it seems odd that a known witch would be put to rest on consecrated ground.  Usually they were buried at a crossroad with no signposts so they could not find their way home.  Or their bodies were burned.  And it is entirely possible that the granite stone in  St. Anne’s graveyard is a harmless relic carried down by the ice age.  But superstition is often stronger than common sense – and we all like to believe in a little magic.

Over the centuries, the legend of Meg Shelton has survived and flourished.  I grew up being told that if you walked three times round her grave chanting, I don’t believe in witches, then that hand would rise up from the grave and grab your ankle.  But I cannot say if that actually happens or not as I never dared try!

Shelton Grave

Meg Shelton’s Grave (Photo: Brian Young)

Source:

Ashworth, Elizabeth. Tales of Old Lancashire (Berkshire: Countryside,2007)

Copyright © 2022 | KitPerriman.com | All Rights Reserved