The Celt and the Red Man

From the introduction to The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, W. Y. Evans Wentz, (1911):

“Many of the most remote parts of these lands were visited; and often there was no other plan to adopt, or any method better, or more natural, than to walk day after day from one straw-thatched cottage to another, living on the simple wholesome food of the peasants. […] I tried to see the world as [the Celt] does; I participated in his innermost thoughts about the great problem of life and death, with which he of all peoples is most deeply concerned; and thus he revealed to me the source of his highest ideals and inspirations. I daily felt the deep and innate seriousness of his ancestral nature; and, living as he lives, I tried in all ways to be like him.


And even where we find materialists of either type dwelling in the country, we generally find them so completely under the hypnotic sway of city influences and mould of thought that in matters of education and culture, and in matters touching religion, that they have lost all sympathetic and responsive contact with nature, because unconsciously they have thus permitted conventionality and unnaturalness to insulate them from it. The Celtic peasant, who may be their tenant or neighbour, is—if still uncorrupted by them—in direct contrast unconventional and natural. He is normally always responsive to psychical influences—as much so as an Australian Arunta or an American Red Man, who also, like him are fortunate to enough to have escaped being corrupted by what we egotistically distinguish ourselves from them, call ‘civilization’.


Are city-dwellers like these, Nature’s unnatural children, who grind out their lives in an unceasing struggle for wealth and power, social position, and even for bread, fit to judge Nature’s natural children who believe in fairies?”

This introduction is perhaps one of the most patronising that I have read. I found myself having to replace indignation with laughter; laughter with recognition of the author’s time and place; and once placing the author in his context, sifting out the facts from his bias. (New historicism, ahoy!) This, my friends, I hope is the mark of a good scholar.

Mixed messages

I eat a couple of Dove dark chocolates after I take one of my injections—equal parts bribe, reward and consolation—and these chocolates are well-known for their ‘inspirational’ messages inside the wrapper. Granted, after an injection I’m in a sour mood (hence the need for one), and so I am decidedly Not Amused.

Tonight’s messages?

‘Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can.’

‘Find little ways to make part of your day like a day off.’

Thanks Dove, for encouraging my guilt/discipline complex.

One week

Market Street on a rainy evening.Has it only been a week? It feels like longer. Next week term starts in full force, and so I am glad to have had this week to put an altered routine into play before throwing choir, Medieval Palaeography, and volunteering in Special Collections into the mix. Reminding myself that it has only been a week also lets me not be so hard on myself about my sleeping schedule: I’m still not falling asleep when I want to, but have still been waking up early to get into work by 9.00 anyway. Now, however, I am tired. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be rain, rain, rain, and so the things I haven’t done today (viz. Latin, editing Bede), can be done tomorrow with a rested mind.

I have been putting a conscious effort into cooking better—or, more creative—meals and I’m pleased to say that I have been successful this week. Upon Sarah’s suggestion I made lasagna, and my first attempt at doing so was not spectacular, but still edible. I altered a soup recipe and it was still tasty; and made pasta sauce from a recipe Casey gave me. Tonight I experimented and I’ll be making the roasted vegetables again for sure. (My ‘experiments’ tend to be rather conservative—I still have to eat with whatever results!) Anyhow, as the beginning of my weeks is going to be rather busy (again! what’s with this Montuesday business?), I at least want to make sure I have the forethought to have leftovers available for when I drag myself home late after choir rehearsal.

Following Kelly’s example, I have decided to do an hour of Latin a day. I am using the book Latin Via Ovid and find it most helpful. Editing of The King of Bede* is now underway, again for an hour each day. It’s heartening to see how much can be done in an hour, when you aren’t distracted by so many other things.

And for those who have had some cause for concern: my arthritis seems to have returned to its normal ever-present yet only-moderately-bothersome state. It appears that I needed only to return to sea level, or at least, the climate to which I have become used.

This has been a more ‘life update’ post than is the usual; I’m tired and mainly wanted an excuse to post the photo I took this evening upon leaving work. It’s blurry, but that adds rather than detracts from the atmosphere, I think.


* Provisional title.

Faun spotting

“However, like foxes and squirrels, some fairies are moving into the cities and towns. In March of 1966 Ogilvie Crombie, while sitting on a bench in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, met a faun named Kurmos. He was a boy, about three feet tall, who wore no clothing but had shaggy legs and cloven hooves, pointed chin and ears, and little horns on his head. Ogilvie conversed with the creature, who confided that he lived in the Gardens and helped the trees to grow. nature spirits, said the faun, had lost interest in humans ‘since they have been made to feel that they are neither believed in nor wanted’. Kurmos then accepted an invitation back to Ogilvie’s flat. on a later occasion, near the National Gallery, Ogilvie met another creature of the same description as Kurmos, but this one was taller than himself. They walked together through the streets of Edinburgh, the being questioning Ogilvie as to whether he was afraid of him. It played the popes for him, and then left. Ogilvie continued to meet a variety of Otherworldy creatures including the Elf King at Rosemarkie, and, on the island of Iona, Pan, whom he maintained was the god of all nature spirits.”

-from Scottish Fairy Belief: A history by Lizanne Henderson and Edward J. Cowan.

…Yes, I think I have a pretty cool PhD topic. Also, I was able to come up with over a dozen texts that I can use for my thesis, so now I know I actually do have something to write about. Hooray!