The Dobu Islanders: FLOW, p. 79

. . . the culture of the Dobu islanders, as described by the anthropologist Reo Fortune, is one that encouraged constant fear of sorcery, mistrust among even the closest relatives, and vindictive behavior. Just going to the bathroom was a major problem, because it involved stepping out into the bush, where everybody expected to be attacked by bad magic when alone among the trees.


Strange how self can relate to this mode of feeling, which is a form of “magical thinking” — the idea that one can actively seek to prevent future bad things, by taking inordinately neurotic precautions.

Stay tuned.

Jonathan: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 110

Jonathan’s birth:

I couldn’t take my eyes off him, little fairy creature that he was. He gave a blink and the way his eyelid — you know what it is like, not straight like yours and mine, but set at an angle — it closed over the eye not quite like a normal baby, but nearly. I thought, What does he make of this strange world he’s come to? What does he make of me, his foster mother? He moved his arms, not altogether like my baby girls used to, but more floppy — like he was swimming. A baby frown came into his face and I thought, He will cry in a minute. He’s cold. Beattie hadn’t wrapped him up or anything. Fairy children can’t be so very different from the ones I know, I thought, because I can tell he’s getting cold. I put my fingers against his little cheek and he was all wonder, quite astonished! When I took my finger away his little mouth opened and he mewed like a kitten to have it back. I felt my milk rise at his cry.

For the first time in forever, dear blog readers, self has no inclination to read spoilers on goodreads or Twitter. She’s caught firmly in the fictive net of this novel.

Stay tuned.

#amwritingfiction: “The Hole Over the Islands”

Self is really crushing the writing. This is her 2nd story in two days.

AMAZING.

#sowoke

It must be her recent trip to the Philippines.

No, it must be her recent trip to London and the Philippines.

No, it must be her recent trip to Paris and London and the Philippines.

No, it must be her recent trip to Ireland and Paris and London and the Philippines.

NEVERTHELESS!!!

The following story is true.

You probably know that Filipinos are considered very spiritual people. Imelda Marcos was quoted as saying that the spiritist attribute that Filipinos have is due to the direct connection of the Philippines with a black hole directly over the islands. Or something like that. Well, this story has something to do with ghosts and spirits.

Back in 1982 (or so), during All Saints Day (or is that All Souls’ Day?), our family decided to contact my Dear Departed Dad by playing ‘spirit of the glass.’

‘Spirit of the glass’ is kind of like a Ouija Board, but instead of a disc, it uses an upside-down glass.

(Story to be continued. Stay tuned)

Matthew Hopkins, Witch-Hunter

In the 1640s, a self-designated witch-finder named Matthew Hopkins “toured the counties of Norfolk, Essex, Hants, and Sussex, in quest of witches.”

In one year he brought no fewer than sixty to the stake.

Method of detection: “swimming”

  • The right thumb of the suspected person was tied to the toe of the left foot, and vice versa. She was then wrapped in a blanket and placed on her back in a pond. If she floated — which we are told was generally the case when placed carefully upon the water — she was guilty, and was burned forthwith; if she sank, she was innocent.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

Only the preposition “she” is used, throughout this section. Self can only assume this means: No male witches, ever.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: About Folk Remedies

  • So the right eye of a serpent, being applied to the soreness of the eyes, cures the same, if the serpent be let go alive. So, likewise, the tooth of a mole, being taken out alive and afterwards let go, cures the toothache; and dogs will never bark at those who have the tail of a weasel that has escaped. Democritus says that if the tongue of the chameleon be taken alive, it conduces to good success in trials, and likewise to women in labour; but it must be hung up on some part of the outside of the house; otherwise, if brought into the house, it might be most dangerous.

— Sax Rohmer, The Romance of Sorcery

LUCIFER: Princeps

As part of the research for self’s novel-in-progress (about a 25-year-old Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines — in 1756 — to fight demons), self haunted the Atlantis Bookshop in London, last summer. Atlantis has books on every supernatural subject you can think of: witches, gnomes, fairies, elves, ghosts and, yes, angels and demons. It’s a wee little space on Museum Way, off Great Russell Street.

Met a woman who asked, of all things, about the Hukbalahap (Communist insurgency in the Philippines, most active in the 1950s). Not even Filipinos ever bring up the Hukbalahap. Will wonders never cease?

So, self is reading the chapter about sacrificial goats (as opposed to sacrificial lambs, how refreshing) and is reminded of something her Hong Kong writer friend, Maloy, told her: never pick up a stray umbrella, especially if you see one on a rainy day.

The chapter of Lucifer: Princeps self is reading is about Hittite ritual (Hittites are in the Bible. Believe Nebuchadnezzar was one? Or maybe he wasn’t. Sometimes self’s memory is very spotty):

p. 70: . . .  Hittite ritual describes how a woman transfers the evil onto a mouse, which is then released.

Which, in connection with the stray umbrellas her friend Maloy warned self against picking up: People who are having a spell of bad luck sometimes leave personal items — like umbrellas — out in the open for unsuspecting strangers to pick up. When another person picks up the umbrella, the bad luck gets transferred to them.

Self will never forget how, just after Maloy shared her story, a furled umbrella came bumping tok-tok-tok down the giant outdoor escalator (We were going to Maloy’s apartment, which was on the Mid-Level. Can you imagine giving an address that goes xx-xx, Mid-Level, Escalator x, Hong Kong?) Self just stared at it in total fascination.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Arrow Meets Aswang in Denis Johnson’s Novel TREE OF SMOKE

Aswang stories sound different when told by an American novelist. Read on:

He gave the lad a quiver of arrows and a very strong bow and charged him to stay all night in the granary at the bottom of the path, because there he would slay the aswang.  Many cats gathered in the granary at night, one of whom was in fact the aswang, who assumed this form in order to camouflage. ‘But, sir, how will I know the aswang, because you haven’t given me arrows to shoot every cat?’ And Saint Gabriel said, ‘The aswang will not play with its rat when it catches one, it only tears the rat in pieces intantly and revels in its blood. When you see a cat do that, you must shoot him right away, because that one is the aswang. Of course, if you fail, I don’t have to inform you you’re going to feel yourself being torn apart by the fangs of the aswang, and it will drink your blood as you die.’

— p. 51, Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)

Very, very interesting. Self realizes she would rather read more about aswang than about Edward Lansdale. Stay tuned.

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