Gallimaufry with Distinctions

• Ule-Alfarrin (a/k/a Robin Artisson, if I am not mistaken) lists differences between “New Ager” and “Heathen.” I like this one:

13. Almost no one who in the course of their religious practice, takes a first, middle, or last name which is the same as an animal, a plant, a weather-based phenomenon, an element, a mineral, or a combination of any of those things can speak for me, nor do they likely believe anything like me.

Being a Heathen is often about making such distinctions, ja?

• Anne Johnson discusses building fairy houses. She understands that the fairies are not always cute.

Talking to Unitarians about animism. I have to do something similar later this month.

• Anne Hill suggests two great books on dreams. She should know.

The Fairies of Torchwood

I never joined the Doctor Who cult, although I had friends who remembered every episode and could debate whether Peter Davison made a better Doctor than William Hartnell.

At a post-INATS dinner, however, a publisher friend said that I had to see Torchwood, a Doctor Who spin-off. He compared it to the X-Files. Netflix had it, so I ordered Season One (2006).

We-l-l-l. The X-Files it’s not. Underneath the aliens and “time rifts” and occasional goriness, it’s not as dark  — there is not the sense of hopelessness against greater forces and the personal doubts that pervade the world of agents Scully and Mulder.

In fact, every time that I see the four main Torchwood operatives running down the street — they seem to run a lot, for running and frenetic music cover up plot slippages and cheesy special effects — I want to sing along, “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees.”

But I heartily approved of the episode called “Small Worlds.”

Every time I see someone who gets all mushy about fairies, I want to remind them, “The fairies are not your friends, anymore than the coyotes are your friends.” You can interact with them, but under other circumstances they would eat you. They are a different life form, and they are not All About Us.

Down the Paratemporal Rabbit Hole

“The infamous” Brad Hicks writes a great blog post on shifting realities.

Personally, I blame the Fairies.

Sheesh, who knows. Ask me about my lost-time episodes. No, please don’t. One of them involves a beautiful Russian girl in a Mercedes two-seater, and everyone would assume that she had to be an interdimensional being.

Fairies, the Dead, and Book-Blogging

Spring semester has started, and teaching does cut into blogging time. And my reading list (for myself) is huge: all the books that I ordered at AAR-SBL (and elsewhere) started arriving in December.

I just finished At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things. Author Diane Purkiss is an Oxford historian, primarily of early modern England, and this book is a romp. She does not set out to “explain” fairies, but rather to trace the different ways that they have been depicted–from being rather interchangeable with the Dead to being literary creations, evocations of rural charm, inspiration of Irish nationalism, and advertising gimmicks.

Factoid: Proctor & Gamble won’t admit it, but apparently in the early 1930s the company dropped its successful Fairy Soap and Fairy Liquid, previously sold with images of helpful fairies assisting the housemaids, because the term “fairy” was increasingly synonymous with “homosexual.”

While dealing with Fairy-like characters in The X-Files, Purkiss oddly misses Jacques Vallee’s Passport to Magonia which argued back in 1969 that Fairies and UFO aliens were the same class of interdimensional beings in different guises.

The Trickster and the ParanormalThese are stacked on the dog kennel-nightstand:

Dereck Daschke and Mike Ashcraft, eds., New Religious Movements: A Documentary Reader. Rastafarians! UFO cults! Wiccans! All of us in the study of new religious movements are in it for the spectacle.

Sabina Magliocco, Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America. I mentioned it earlier, but I had to send the review copy to someone else and only recently acquired my own.

Robert Cochrane, The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft. Never mind the oxymoron in the subtitle; it’s the subtle and shifty Cochrane in his own words.

Nikki Bado-Fralick, Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual. Taking on Arnold van Gennep’s hallowed theory on initiation–and Nikki is the new Pomegranate reviews editor, too.

George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Ufologists saw a progression happening, from “saucer” sightings to “alien” sightings to . . . certainly . . . the “third kind”–direct contact. But why is resolution always just beyond our grasp?

David H. Brown, Santería Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in an Afro-Cuban Religion. It’s not just for Cubans anymore.

The Fairy Faith in Nova Scotia

The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries is one of the background books to the Pagan revival, sort of like Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill. Graham Harvey and I included some of the Kipling in The Paganism Reader; perhaps we should have included Evans-Wentz too, although I admit to always being a little unsure how to interpret the word “faith” in his title.

The Fairy Faith is also the title of a new video on fairies. A Flash version of the trailer is online. I did like the Eskasoni, Nova Scotia, episode.

The link came from a Colorado Springs Wiccan priestess who said, “I am currently doing research on the Fey preparing to teach a section on working with them to my students…”

Certainly the older Indian woman in the video clip had no interest in “working with.” She thought it was wiser to give the fairies a wide berth.

UPDATE: The Paganism Reader gets a five-star review.