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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in wights

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fairy Folks Are in Old Oaks

It's well-known in Iceland that elves make their homes in certain boulders.

Some years ago, a certain farmer near Reykjavik resolved to blow up a particular boulder in order to make room for a new henhouse. With this in mind, he went out and bought some dynamite.

From that day, his hens began to lay fewer and fewer eggs.

Every day there were fewer eggs, until finally there were none.

The farmer called in the vet. The vet examined the chickens. The chickens were in fine health; nothing was wrong with their feed. There was no organic reason why the hens should not be laying.

The farmer decided not to blow up the boulder after all. He gave the dynamite away.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
When the Wights Are Angry

Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods.

I'm not really saying that Republicans are responsible.

Not really.

We would say: climate change.

Traditional societies would say: the wights are angry.

(Wights: literally, “beings”: also, elves, fairies, huldrefolk, land-"spirits", etc.)

Two ways, perhaps, of describing the same thing.

Why are the wights angry?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I would say that the wights are the "interiority" of things. They're those Other People that inhabit the Land, that go by many nam
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    What is the definition of a Wight?
  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy says #
    A couple years ago at the Irish Fair, I talked with Daithi Sproule, a traditional Irish musician who was retelling the old tales.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I thoroughly agree; they seem to me like two different ways of observing the same phenomenon: one from without, one from within.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading an article on Shamanism.org about the author's encounter with an angry cloud being. It seems the cloud being w

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Elf-Shine

They call it “elf-shine.”

I've seen it; I'm sure that you have, too.

It's the beauty that shines from someone in those moments of great joy or deep understanding: an illumination from within.

The ancestors of Northwestern Europe accounted the elves as the most beautiful of peoples, and so this beauty is named for them: for the shine of elf-shine—in Old English, ælf-scýne—is kin to German schön, “beautiful.”

“Beautiful as an elf,” the ancestors used to say.

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When the Wights Are Angry, Everyone Suffers: Mythologizing Climate Change

Imagine that we were to discover an ancient Keltic tribe living in three isolated valleys up in the Alps.

Imagine that, through all the intervening centuries of the Great Interruption, they had, nonetheless, somehow managed to hold on to their Old Religion.

Amazingly enough—specifics aside—this not an imaginary scenario.

As the Indo-European-speaking peoples first entered the Indian subcontinent, groups broke off the main migration and settled along the way.

That's how the Kalasha, the last surviving pagans of the Hindu Kush, came to live in three isolated mountain valleys in what is now NW Pakistan.

Their religion, practiced continuously since antiquity, strongly resembles the religion of the Rig Veda, modern Hinduism's oldest scripture; some of the gods are even the same.

Alone among the Indo-European peoples, the religion of the Kalasha has never been subsumed by one of the Big Name religions. This small tribe of 4000-some people is as close as we will ever come to touching the old paganisms of the European ancestors.

As such, they have much to teach us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Old Lady Hawthorn

Damn that old lady Hawthorn.

There she goes, knocking my hat off.

Again.

I don't know how old she is. Being a Siberian hawthorn, it could be hundreds of years. Judging by how gnarled and ornery she is, I'd say probably pretty old. Older than me, anyway.

And did I say attitudinous? Old lady Hawthorn is the undisputed ruler of this lawn, and you'd better not forget it.

Before you mow, you'd better tip your hat to her. You'd just better. Likes that, she does.

Otherwise, she'll knock it clean off your head.

Like she just did.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Troll Night

Well, it's here: the Thirteenth Night before Yule.

So potent a power is Yule that the Thirteen Nights cast a sort of shadow before them, a kind of inverse Yule.

These are the year's darkest nights. In the darkness, monsters assemble, more and more each night. It is the season of the troll.

Troll Night they call it, the thirteenth before Mother Night. At the doorstep, they lay out offerings, but the doors themselves they ward and hammer-sign from within. Here and no further, the wardings and offerings say.

Word is, the trolls will be particularly bad this year. Bad governance, or the threat thereof, always angers the beings of the land. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Myself, I'll be setting out some of the cherry vodka I made this June, and have been saving for Yule. Of course, I'll have a nip m
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Booze. Porridge. Sardines. I'm sure there are others, but that's what people that I know put.
  • Haley
    Haley says #
    So, what kind of offerings do Trolls like? Other than raw meat and unfortunate wanderers, of course.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The People of the Waters

In 1653, Swedish witch Karin Persdotter confessed to having learned her magic from a male water spirit, called variously the "man of the stream" (strömkarlen), "the river" (älven), and the "nix" (näcken) (Hall 32).

 

Readers of the Brothers Grimm will recognize this latter term: the nix (masculine) and nixie (feminine) (German nix and nixe) have haunted the rivers, lakes, and ponds of folk tales for (apparently) several millennia at least. They are, in effect, fresh water merfolk.

 

The Hwicce, the Anglo-Saxon tribe ancestral (some say) to today's witches knew a similar species. Their nicor survived in English folklore as the nicker or knucker. The youthful Beowulf was said to have wrestled with several while swimming.

 

In fact, all these names descend from the same ancestor: proto-Germanic *nikwiz, *nikwuz (Watkins 59). To judge by surviving folklore, all the Indo-European-speaking peoples knew of the People of the Waters. But of course, other peoples know them too; everyone knows them. Here in Minnesota, the Anishinabe (Ojibway) call them nebaunaubaequaewuk.

 

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