Swedish Social Democrat Politician Wants to Ban Runes?

From Sputnik News

Back in the late 1990s, I had a young Swedish student in my English 102 (second-semester composition) class. I noticed that he wore a small silver Thor’s hammer (Mjölnir) around his neck on a chain, under his shirt.

Was he a Norse Pagan or just making a cultural statement, I wondered. So I complimented him on it a neutral way.

I don’t think he was Pagan as such. But he was interested in the Viking Age and all that.

Nevertheless, he told me, he was afraid to wear the hammer at home, “because people would say that I am a Nazi.”

Now it’s twenty years later, and at least one Swedish government minister is worried about “Nazi associations” with runes. Never mind that they are many centuries old,

A Swedish website reports:

The government is currently investigating the possibility of banning the use of Norse runes. It is reported that the Minister of Justice, Morgan Johansson (S) [Social Democrat], is behind the initiative. In the Asa community, which organizes asa troops and people with an interest in the Norse cultural heritage, the outrage is great about what one thinks is a restriction on, among other things, religious freedom. A collection of names has been started and on Friday [May 24, presumably] a manifestation [demonstration] is arranged outside the Parliament House in protest against the proposal. (Machine-translated by Google Translate).

This was picked up by the site Sputnik News (“Pagans, History Buffs Rage as Sweden Considers Banning ‘Nazi’ Runes,”), which sounds like another Russian shit-stirring operation. Nevertheless, I think there is a kernel of truth here.  They quoted a Swedish Asatru group, which said (translated)

Our attitude is that prejudices and misunderstandings are best cured with knowledge and facts. It is not okay to try and replace the meaning of our symbols with one’s own prejudices or political meaning they completely lack. Banning them would wipe out a part of our own history, culture and beliefs — and our freedom of expression because of political interpretations that do not belong in the Asa community.”

Maybe the Swedish Social Democrats could just ban the letters N and Z. My student knew his own culture’s predilections, I can say that much.

Are Fairies Indigenous to North America?

Image from The Fairy Census

Regular commenter Pitch 313 added this to my post titled “Bejaysus, It’s the Eco-Fairies.

A few items for context: a.) My family immigrated to Northern California shortly after the Gold Rush, and that’s where I grew up; b.) it was apparent to me that Fairy beings of European character were present and active in Northern California, and I later gathered that post-Gold Rush practitioners had more or less done things to make these Fairy beings feel at home; and c.) it was apparent to me that the European settlement of the Americas–and particularly the European settlement of California–had massively, catastrophically disrupted Native American lives and cultures and those of resident Fairy beings known to Native Americans. In my experience, at least, contact with Fairy beings of NativeCalifornian character was complicated and chancy. (Read the whole thing.)

You can read quite a few supportive stories if you look at the North American section of  The Fairy Census 2014–2017 (PDF file, 5.3 MB).

It is part of an ongoing research project, the Fairy Census.1)Ha, like it’s possible to count them!

The Fairy Census is an attempt to gather, scientifically, the details of as many fairy sightings from the last century as possible and to measure, in an associated survey, contemporary attitudes to fairies. The census was inspired by an earlier fairy census carried out by Marjorie Johnson and Alasdair Alpin MacGregor in 1955/1956, a census that was published in 2014.

There are two (anonymous) census forms: one for witness accounts and one for second-hand accounts (experiences of grandma, uncle, friend etc). Confidentiality is assured and, in the case of publication, personal details will be changed to assure anonymity. Note, however, that by filling out these forms you approve their use in an academic survey.

Some of the results (Fairies speaking Irish?) would sound like the Fair Folk came over the water. But maybe they just offer up whatever will resonate or disturb us the most. (“Gray” aliens, for instance.)

As described at The Daily Grail:

In the PDF, the experiences, recorded between 18 Nov 2014 and 20 Nov 2017, are divided into five sections based on geography: Britain and Ireland; North America; Europe; Australasia; and the ‘Rest of the World’. Editor Simon Young, a British historian who has written extensively on the topic of folklore, says that the Census is being released in PDF format free of charge in the hope that it will allow and encourage others to undertake their own research into the topic of fairies.

In my own comment, I mentioned Alex Bledsoe’s “Tufa” novels. In his telling, the Fair Folk were here before the first immigrants followed their dogs through Berengia, tens of thousands of years ago. I suppose that that is possible.

I like this one. I have added some paragraph breaks, punctuation, and notations.

§215) US (Alaska). Male; 2000s; 31-40 . . .

‘I, at the time, worked as a sawer [sawyer] for *** crew fighting wildfires in the Alaskan interior forests. As we were cutting line around the fire, it began to rain a bit ,and for the most part the fire was controlled but still not contained.2)There is a technical distinction here used by wildland firefighters.

It is our job to cut line around the entire fire to eliminate any chance of it drying up and spreading. So it was [a]  low-adrenaline regular run-of -he-mill day at work. Slow and steady. My saw partner and I would each run the saw till the tank ran out and switch. One would act as saw[y]er and the other as swamper.3)The assistant who tosses the cut branches and small tree trunks out of the way. As we switched tanks, I began to cut and he began to swamp the trees; the burnt hot ones go into the black while the green ones went to the green side, this [thus] cutting our eight to ten foot control line on top of this rocky ridge.

As I was cutting down these pecker poles about two to three inch wide and ten to fifteen feet tall, I went to cut into the bottom of one, and right before my eyes the tree shrunk down and a not-so-handsome little man about a foot tall with a beard and many wrinkles on his face stared up at me and screamed ‘Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo’.

My hands held steady [on]the saw that vibrated from the four hundred and fifty cc motor and my eyes widened large. My partner later told even through the screen protective lenses he could tell something [was] amiss.

He yelled ‘***, *** [the sawyer’s name].’ With no response, I stood stiff. He shook my shoulder; then my partner, a seasoned veteran and paramedic shut off the saw and again asked me what happened? I still stay[ed] stiff into [sic] he turns me with grabbing both shoulders and tells me to take a seat. For fifteen minutes he tries to get what happened out of me.

How could I tell this man who trusts me with his life that I saw? That I saw… Finally he says he will have to call our crew supervisor,. I turn to him and say ‘***, I saw an elf!’ He looks at me and just shakes his head in full acceptance. I look puzzlerd, I say ‘You saw it too?’ He says ‘no’. I say ‘what?’ Trying to read his mind, ‘others, others on the crew have seen them?’ He nods his head, yes. Understanding this I keep silent and continue about my day. I nor the others on the crew were ready to share and hold their truth amounts the possibility of fall out that could have incurred. Happy to share it now. Blessings and love to the many dimensional beings we share this world with.’

‘Old rugged kinda ugly though I don’t like to say so. Kinda bald and dirty.’ ‘I said elf to my buddy but it could easily be a name. I just know what I saw. It was in the woods, and my wisdom spoke up and remembered something that lay dormit [? dormant].’ ‘[Fairies are] a dimensional being that can support humans if they wise up in connection with Mother Earth. Fairy is a large dimension of characters. Some to trust while others are a bit more tricky.’ ‘Being a thirty-nine-year old man that has retired from a job that most people considered brave, tough, and masculine. I love sharing this story to those who are like. Well I [it?] got me thinking anyway.’

I’m not the sawyer on our fire department’s crew, but I took the class. My own chainsawing usually takes place on the hill behind the house, for reasons of firewood or fire mitigation. I don’t feel so bad about cutting dead stuff—and I have left a few beetle-killed pines for the cavity-nesting birds, but I get more and more edgy about cutting live stuff.

“Hey, I need to cut these little trees, Just pretend that I am a fire, OK? It will mean more water for the rest of you.”

We have forest fire burn scars4)That’s the new term. We used to just say “burns.” on all side. If you are going to live as an animist, there is always someone else you have to talk to.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Ha, like it’s possible to count them!
2. There is a technical distinction here used by wildland firefighters.
3. The assistant who tosses the cut branches and small tree trunks out of the way.
4. That’s the new term. We used to just say “burns.”

Bejayus, It’s the Eco-Fairies

In the last of the four-part post about “the cousins” (start the series here), I raised the question of what do fairies look like.

Here is the man who knows, says the (Irish) Independent:

“I kind of expect it. When I was younger if I hadn’t seen them, you’d think there was something wrong. I’ve seen them on a good few occasions after that.”

Galway farmer Pat Noone is used to encounters with the Good Neighbors, and he says they sent him a message.

“I was coming down after looking at the cows in that 16-acre field. I heard the music and saw the fairies dancing and I went over and got talking to them. They talked English to me, I had no problem talking to them. They told me they just wanted me to keep the land the way it was, and told me not to take any of the bushes out. I listened to the music and I went home.

“I have great luck with the stock, with farming, you’ll have your ups and downs with sick animals and nature takes its course, but overall I’ve had very good luck with the farm. And I don’t use any chemicals or sprays. That’s what the fairies told me. I use no weed killers at all whatsoever. It’s not the modern farm that people expect, I let the ditches grow naturally and then trim them back with the saw. It’s left naturally here.”

Chemical-free farming. That is what They want, and you should know better than to cross them.

Pixie Problems, or Working Things Out with the ‘Cousins’ (4)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

So what are fairies? How do you research them? Just as important, do you even want to have anything to do with them?

Each of those is a book or article-length question, so I will paint with a very broad brush here. Nevertheless, fairies have popped up on this blog before.

In deadbutdreaming, a blog devoted to fairy lore, among other things, Neil Rushton offers “A Faerie Taxonomy.” He writes,

The faeries mean different things to different people. There is a great range in their taxonomy; they can be the archetypal characters found in faerie tales, folkloric entities existing in a liminal reality, animistic nature spirits responsible for the propagation of flora, and a host of culturally-coded modern beings, including, but not limited to, extraterrestrials and certain creatures that can manifest during altered states of consciousness.

There is so much folklore, so many variations, and categories (the dead, nature spirits, interdimensional beings, etc.) that blur into each other. Big ones, little ones. Usually they are described as humanoid, but on the other hand, I don’t think of our “cousins” as being necessarily humanoid at all.

You have various sorts of Hidden Folk in various places and cultures. Apparently they are fairly respectable in Iceland. I have met them (?) in dreams, where they became “the people who live inside the walls.” Not that they live between 2x4s and sheets of paneling or drywall — what was meant was a sort of interdimensionality, where their large world seems to fit into one of our small worlds.

The big ones (human-size or almost that) are often described as the Gentry, the Good Neighbors, and so on. They are powerful and unpredictable in the stories, and the best response to encountering one might be to tip your hat and say, “Fine day, isn’t it, Your Grace.” And then go another direction.

Or as Anne Johnson put in a post last year titled, “Faeries aka Fairies Are Real

So you say, “What do faeries look like?” And I answer, “What have you got?” There are as many varieties of faerie as there are of biological life in the apparent world. Some faeries are human shaped and sized, some are tiny, some look like animals, some like birds, and some are just beams of light. Be careful if you make eye contact, because they like to distract. And whatever you do, show them respect. Even the “critter” ones. Call them “Ladies and Gentlemen,” or “your majesties.”

John Beckett describes what happened when a group of American Druids, seeking to be inclusive, “explicitly invited the Fair Folk as part of our formal liturgy [at Beltane 2016].”

We had mentioned them before and they had shown up on several occasions, but if my memory is correct (and if it’s not, it’s not off by much) this was the first time we invoked land spirits, ancestors, Gods, and the fae in four separate invocations.

The ritual was an overwhelming success. But Themselves decided we hadn’t been sufficiently generous and helped themselves to an entire pitcher of wine.

In a rather violent manner.

He concludes,

The stories of our ancestors tell us they are proud people who do not tolerate slights and disrespect. They seem pleased with this change.

Attempts to lump them in with spirits of the land and of natural forces is inaccurate, unnecessary, and unwanted. They are the Fair Folk. That is how I understand them, and how I will relate to them.

Here are some books that influenced my thinking:

Jacques Vallée, Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers. Astronomer, computer scientist, and ufologist, Vallée wrote this book in the 1960s partly to answer the question, “If the Space Brothers are out there, why don’t they land on the White House lawn/Red Square/United Nations Plaza, etc.?” His suggestion: it/they have always been here and it/they enjoy messing with us.

I often criticize people for trying to explain a mystery with another mystery, and I have to admit that saying, “They are not visitors from another star system, but they have been here all along” is doing just that, because what does “here all along” exactly mean? But I cannot think of hypothesis more useful.

George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal. A  former university parapsychology researcher, Hansen writes an interdisciplinary study of why most academics — even in religious studies —shy away from the topic of the paranormal and why, at the same, people and institutions involved with the paranormal have their own difficulties.

Psi interacts with our physical world, with our thoughts, and with our social institutions. Even contemplating certain ideas has consequences. The phenomena are not to be tamed by mere logic and rationality, and attempts to do so are doomed to failure (From the book’s website.)

The book grabs ideas from parapsychology, psychology, anthropology, and elsewhere, but the chapter I found most interesting, “Unbounded Conditions,” discusses how investigating UFOs, parapsychology—and I would add Bigfoot, for example—destabilizes both groups and individuals.

These phenomena intrude into the lives of investigators. The researchers participate in them and cannot remain on the side as observers. The subject-object distinction is subverted, and the consequences are often unpleasant (p. 217).

Hansen acknowledges John Keel The Mothman Prophecies as a classic of phenomena intruding; you might call it synchronicity out of control.

Finally, I recommend The Super Natural: Why the Unexplained is Real, by Whitley Strieber and Jeffery Kripal. Strieber is known for Communion and other writing on his often-unpleasant encounters with “the visitors,” whom he does not see as space aliens. Kripal is one religious studies professor who is willing to think and write about odd, esoteric, erotic, and paranormal aspects of what we cal “religion.”

The book is arranged in alternating chapters by each author. I read it last year and need to re-read it. A few statements in it severely shook me, so I need to have another go. If you prefer the “interdimensional” explanation, then this book is the rabbit hole that you want to jump into.

Pixie Problems, or Working Things Out with the ‘Cousins’ (3)

If these are what the “cousins” want, then they can have them.

Part 1 Here

Part 2 Here

Skittles to me are M&M’s low-rent relative, and Gummi Worms look like they should be threaded onto a lead-head jig and used to catch largemouth bass — except the fish might just spit them out. (I am sure that someone has tried.)  But per Byron Ballard’s advice, “the cousins” get them every new Moon. And sometimes a demitasse of coffee or a shot of bourbon.

I wrote to her in early March,

After I sent you the photo of the snail of shiny things and the plate of candy, it did indeed snow, snow that is just starting to melt now.  I looked out the back door this morning, and the plate was off the backside of the retaining wall,
lying on the ground.

When I checked, yes indeed, fox tracks.

The fox apparently prefers Skittles to Gummi Worms.

Do you depend on woodland creatures to remove the offerings after Those Critters have presumably sampled  their essence?

So somewhere there was gray or red fox with a sugar rush. Byron replied,

Poor fox! Yes, generally critters take the food away or it composts itself.

What do they want? Hmmm. My best guess is they want attention, they want a relationship and they want to be entertained and amused.  Just like us.

Anne Johnson commented, “I don’t leave much candy, preferring to eat it myself, but I fling every kind of shiny object at those lil’ cousins. For awhile I’ve had peace in my household.”

Our household too has been more peaceful, but there are still oddities. When we went to Texas for a week in early April, I took down the birdfeeders because the bears were waking up, and a bear would happily smash the feeder to get the sunflower seeds. One feeder hung by a short length of shiny chain. When we came back, the chain was gone. It was too heavy for any but a big bird, and why would a mammal (raccoon? gray fox?) climb up and get a steel chain? Foxes are notorious for stealing things like teddy bears and dog toys, but steel chain? Oh well.

In his chapter on “Offerings” in Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic, Aidan Wachter writes,

Some spirits I have worked with also like tea, coffee, and some like milk. I think the best way to proceed is by following the hints the spirits give and then seeing what happens. Some spirits are decidedly into alcohol and tobacco, some find these offensive. If you like, you can sit with the pendulum or cards and ask questions as to what might be a good offering.

I think the most direct way to think of offerings is as offering nourishment or food. Sometimes this is outright food, and many I know who bake, bake for the spirits. I tend to give offerings of unbroken eggs, tortillas, chili sauce, fruit, flowers.

It is a good to consider candles as food for the spirits as well. Candles are a solid energy source (wax, but this is also true to oil in oil lamps or even wood for a fire) that is largely consumed by burning. As it is consumed, it is transformed from solid matter into heat, smoke, ash, and carbon. This transmutation allows and spirits and powers to feed on these energies and their subtle nature (p. 80).

Six Ways has more content in 167 pages than a whole shelf of typical Craft books. I recommend it unreservedly. Wachter, however, is writing about more than just household “pixies” here. So in the next post I might set one foot into the swamp of faerie taxonomy.

Continue to Part 4

Pixie Problems, or Working Things Out with the ‘Cousins’ (2)

The snail with a few shiny things and a candle to get their attention.

Part 1 here

Anne Johnson responded promptly. Since the shrine is a minute’s walk from the house, she suggested putting out more shiny objects closer in.

I repurposed an odd birdfeeder shaped like a snail into a pixie-feeder (trap?). I put some shiny things in it (some broken silver spoons, a singleton silver earring) in it and sat it on a retaining wall outside the back door. Since this was in December, it kept getting snowed on.

Then she referred me to a specialist, Byron Ballard, the “village witch” of Asheville, North Carolina. As it happened, I had met Byron in person, so I felt OK about writing to her. Here is part of my email to her (spoiler: more things disappear):

Oh, and recently a carabiner with keys to the “bear boxes” on several scout cameras that I keep up in the national forest disappeared.

When I opened my toiletries bag during last week’s campout, there were the keys. Now there could be a naturalistic explanation: last December we took Amtrak to Virginia to visit M’s brother and other East Coast relatives who came to his house near Charlottesville for a few days.

It could be that I put those keys in my pocket when I replaced batteries in the security camera at the guest cabin (about 100 yards from our house), then ended up taking them on the train.

Finding them in my pocket, I would have put them in the toiletries kit, along with my house/car keys, just to empty my pockets during the trip.
Then I never used the toiletries kit again until last weekend.

I was sitting in this tent, three hours’ drive and a little distance on skis away from home, when I found the one set of keys.

BUT . . . there were *two* sets of keys to the bear box padlocks, and both disappeared. I now have one, which is great. I don’t have to hike out with big bolt cutters and take off the old locks.

It is POSSIBLE that I moved the second set of keys, but I checked the two places where I store spare keys, and they were not there.

Byron, whose classes at festivals, etc. include one called “Little Altars Everywhere,” responded with a long, humorous email, of which this was part:

The problem is likely caused by the spirit folk I call the Cousins, who are generally benevolent but frequently mischievous. My suggestions are these:

Feed them outside your house. Contrary to received knowledge, these folks like strong coffee and hideous candy. Think of the sort of artificial color/flavor candies like Swedish Fish and neon gummi worms.  If it catches your eye but you probably wouldn’t eat it, they will love it. Skittles work but I go for amusing shapes–gummi fried eggs or circus peanuts or root beer barrels.

Feed them near where your “shinies” are.  If you have dogs, you can bury the candy. Or put it high up where your dogs can’t reach it.

Do this for several days and I think you will be rewarded with an atmospheric condition I which the air and the energy around the feeding area feels like champagne bubbles.  Fizzy and bright.

After the initial introduction, you can cut back on the feeding to once a month. I do it on the new Moon so I can keep track of it.

If you are offering a drink, which I recommend, find a beautiful little glass or cup to leave it in.  You have already discovered that they like to go into things.  Like cats, they are often “gozindas” (goes into) or “gozondas (goes onto). They appreciate small boxes–round ones like oatmeal boxes are the favorites of my folks.

You are basically bribing them to behave the way you want so that when they slip and steal the corkscrew, you can go out to the feeding site with one bright Skittle and tell them they can have more when the corkscrew is returned.  The important thing to remember is they are not malicious, only curious and enthusiastic.

Soon I was at a Target store down in Pueblo with a shopping list:

  • Water filter
  • 4-foot extension cord
  • Skittles or ?

I did not even know exactly what Skittles were, but I found them —and Gummi Worms — in the candy aisle soon enough.

Read Part 3 Here

A Festschrift for Ronald Hutton

Magic and Witchery: Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of ‘The Triumph of the Moon’ will be published in September by Palgrave Macmillan.

I love rolling the word Festschrift around, and if you are not used to it, this is what it means: “In academia, a Festschrift  (plural Festschriften) is a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic and presented during their lifetime. It generally takes the form of an edited volume, containing contributions from the honoree’s colleagues, former pupils, and friends” (Wikipedia).

From the publisher:

This book marks twenty years since the publication of Professor Ronald Hutton’s The Triumph of the Moon, a major contribution to the historical study of Wicca. Building on and celebrating Hutton’s pioneering work, the chapters in this volume explore a range of modern magical, occult, and Pagan groups active in Western nations. Each contributor is a specialist in the study of modern Paganism and occultism, although differ in their embrace of historical, anthropological, and psychological perspectives. Chapters examine not only the history of Wicca, the largest and best-known form of modern Paganism, but also modern Pagan environmentalist and anti-nuclear activism, the Pagan interpretation of fairy folklore, and the contemporary ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ phenomenon.

Here are the contents:

1. Twenty Years On: An Introduction — Ethan Doyle White and Shai Feraro, editors

2. The Goddess and the Great Rite: Hindu Tantra and the Complex Origins of Modern Wicca — Hugh B. Urban

3. Playing the Pipes of PAN: Pagans Against Nukes and the Linking of Wiccan-Derived Paganism with Ecofeminism in Britain, 1980–1990 — Shai Feraro

4. Other Sides of the Moon: Assembling Histories of Witchcraft —Helen Cornish

5. The Nearest Kin of the Moon: Irish Pagan Witchcraft, Magic(k), and the Celtic Twilight — Jenny Butler

6. The Taming of the Fae: Literary and Folkloric Fairies in Modern Paganisms — Sabina Magliocco

7. “Wild Nature” and the Lure of the Past: The Legacy of Romanticism among Young Pagan Environmentalists — Sarah M. Pike

8. The Blind Moondial Makers: Creativity and Renewal in Wicca — Léon A. van Gulik

9. “The Eyes of Goats and of Women”: Femininity and the Post-Thelemic Witchcraft of Jack Parsons and Kenneth Grant — Manon Hedenborg White

10. Navigating the Crooked Path: Andrew D. Chumbley and the Sabbatic Craft — Ethan Doyle White

11. Witches Still Fly: Or Do They? Traditional Witches, Wiccans, and Flying  — Chas S. Clifton

12. Afterword — Ronald Hutton

Pixie Problems, or Working Things Out with the ‘Cousins’ (1)

Lonely Norwegian spoon.

It all started with a fork, an antler-handled serving fork of clean Scandinavian design, part of a spoon & fork set that my parents bought while visiting Norway in the early 1990s and later gave to M. and me at Christmas. We liked them and used them nightly for salads and other dishes.

Then after several years the fork disappeared. Our house is not large—a little under 1,000 sq. ft. on the main level —and we looked all over the kitchen and adjacent living/dining room, — pulling out drawers, furniture, and appliances — but never found it. Things happen.

I don’t do a lot of how-to Pagan writing. When it comes to magick-working, I hold with the “keep silent” part of the “magician’s (or witch’s) pyramid.” But I wanted to share this story, which is not over yet, in case anyone gains anything from reading it. I expect it to spread over three or four blog posts.

So the fork was gone and time passed, and then “they” decided to step up their game early this past winter. I say “they” because there seemed to be deliberate mischief in what was happening. Read on.

We usually drink wine with dinner, so we have — had — this particular corkscrew for years. That evening, I could not find, neither in its drawer nor on the dining table. I just shook my head and pulled out my Swiss Army knife, which has a corkscrew. Problem solved.

That corkscrew, incidentally, is still missing, five months later.

Then last Friday, she went looking for a little plastic dish with a lid (think very small leftover dish, a quarter-cup capacity) that she uses when taking her own homemade almond butter to the coffeehouse to put on bagels. She has used this particular dish for several years, because she can slip it into a purse. It should have been in the dish rack. It was not. We both looked. I cleared the dish rack of clean dishes.

The next day, there was the lid — only the lid — lying in the center of the dish rack.

She had laughed when I blamed “the pixies” for the missing corkscrew. Now she was not laughing.

The bottom of the dish showed a couple of days later — in a cupboard of empty jars and storage containers — inside another lidded container.

And then the lid disappeared again, and M. found it in the pages of a magazine on the living room floor.

Pagan blogger Anne Johnson — in the sidebar as The Gods Are Bored — writes about the fairies now and then, and she and I are keypals sharing common interests in blogging and vultures, so I wrote to her with the story that I have given here.

She had blogged earlier about putting out shiny things for them, and in fact, I had put some old pieces of jewelry etc. on the outdoor shrine altar, whereupon they promptly disappeared.

Yet something more was needed. What did “they” want?

Read Part 2 here

I Can Quit Collecting at Any Time; In Fact, I Have

1940s technology to the rescue.

But I still get a twinge when reading about this typewriter repairman-restoration specialist in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. One of three in the state, it turns out.

“Talk QWERTY to me: A vintage typewriter shop in Glenwood Springs gets analog hearts racing.”

Typewriters are lined up on floor-to-ceiling shelves. They are tucked away in rows of sturdy carrying cases. They squat, solid and reliable, on every surface. In the basement, there are typewriter towers and canyons. Typewriter belts, washers, feet, springs and other bits fill bins and boxes — so many, there are “parts for parts,” owner Darwin Raymond observed wryly.

Typewriters are lined up on floor-to-ceiling shelves. They are tucked away in rows of sturdy carrying cases. They squat, solid and reliable, on every surface. In the basement, there are typewriter towers and canyons. Typewriter belts, washers, feet, springs and other bits fill bins and boxes — so many, there are “parts for parts,” owner Darwin Raymond observed wryly.

One of these days, my travels will bring me to Glenwood Springs again.

Norse “Chess” Pieces Reveal an Ancient Whale Hunt

Researchers discovered hnefatafl game pieces made of whale bone in upper- and middle-class Vendel graves. (Rudolf Gustavsson in Smithsonian)

The ancient Norse loved the game of hnefatafl, in which a king’s faithful followers try to protect him against raiding forces, which pretty well describes so much of early medieval politics.

An article in Smithsonian, however, suggests that these game pieces “were the product of early industrial whaling. If so, the pieces would be evidence of the earliest-known cases of whaling in what is today Scandinavia, and a sign of the growing trade routes and coastal resource use that paved the way for future Viking expansion.”

Read the rest: “Viking Chess Pieces May Reveal Early Whale Hunts in Northern Europe.” The Sami are part of the story too.