books


This post is long and a mixed bag of things. If you’re only interesting in Hellier, you can skip everything past the picture of The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies.

I did a marathon watching of all ten hours of Hellier Season 2 on Friday—as after cooking two large meals that week and housecleaning, I wasn’t up for much more than viewing and eating leftovers. It’s currently available for free on Amazon Prime (as is Season 1), and in a couple of weeks will also be available for free on YouTube.

I rather wish I had watched it at a more leisurely pace because I got rather tuckered out there at the end. I’m still trying to process it (and have been rewatching it slowly for the past few days) and I might have processed it better if it had been in smaller chunks. Or maybe not.

I did manage a brief Amazon review:

Season One of Hellier was a perfect little gem of high strangeness, evoking that tumbling feel of falling into a storm of the synchronicities. That storm continues in season 2, tumbling harder and stranger. It has the authentic feel of lived experience rather than staged paranormal TV. We ride along with the participants, feeling their puzzlement and insecurities, their disbelief and belief, and watching as things shift and shift again. If you are looking for pat answers and highly manipulated content, this may not be the series for you. But if you have realized that asking questions is the most important thing, Hellier will give you that thrill of late-night discussions with friends trying to figure out the mysteries of the Universe.

My head’s so full of Major Stuff that I can’t talk about because, spoilers. I may post again in a couple of weeks after people have had a chance to watch. For now, I’ll just say that at the end of episode 9 I used some sweetgrass oil, just in case, and drew a protective sigil on my TV screen before watching episode 10. Also, as soon as those damned tones started I got nauseated. You’ll know the tones I mean if you watch it. The same thing happened with a recent “Haunted Salem Live” sigil experiment done by Greg and Dana Newkirk. So. Mass initiation or suggestibility? I’m still not sure. And that’s in the true spirit of Hellier, I think. Questions are more important than answers.

There are very mild spoilers in the following. Skip to *** if you don’t want even that.

I will say this, and with all due respect to Tyler Strand, I do believe the carving he saw on the tree was not a green man but Odin. Which suggests an entirely different focus of worship in North Carolina than in…that other place. And does nothing, of course, to negate the strangeness he experienced. And speaking as a geezer, if some odd young man showed up at my door going on about strange things in the woods, I might also have called the police. It doesn’t mean abominable practices were going on there, just that whatever or Whoever they worship, they probably figured it was none of his gods damned business.

***Okay, it’s safe now.

After viewing Hellier 2 there were many books I wanted to read and reread. I already had, and had already read, many of the ones they recommend: Passport to Magonia by Jacques Vallee, The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen, Daimonic Reality by Patrick Harpur, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies by the Reverend Robert Kirk (written in the 17th c. and widely referred to in paranormal circles), and others. I thought it might be time to reread Kirk again, since it’s really just a tract, not a long book, and it fit in with some of the research I’ve been doing lately for my current novel. Somewhere in this house I have a 1991 reprint of Kirk edited by RJ Stewart but of course I couldn’t find it. I once had a very neat filing system for my books, but that was before the chaos of the last house move and the caregiving years that followed, alas.

I notice that you can even buy this Andrew Lang edition as a Kindle book now. I love living in the digital age. But since I spent beaucoup $ in the 70s xeroxing this at the UCLA Research Library, I don’t think I’ll spend anymore money on it. I’d forgotten that I’d filled it up with pink highlighter. It was interesting to see that I didn’t find all those passages relevant anymore, although some overlapped.

Back in the ancient days when I was a student at UCLA, they had two original copies of The Secret Commonwealth, the original 1815 imprint from his 17th c. manuscript, and the 1893 Andrew Lang one, in the open stacks of the Research Library—a holdover from the days when Thelma Moss ran a paranormal research program there. Research libraries were the only places you could find these back then.

I’ve thought about those books since and wondered if anyone had the sense to put them in the restricted access area of the library or if, Rev. Kirk-like, they have subsequently been kidnapped by the fairies. Or other beings of more malicious intent. Somebody I know may have mentioned their rarity to one of the librarians, who didn’t seem that interested. Probably thought that someone a pedantic busybody or just another arsehole student trying to tell her what to do. I appreciated having easy access to them, but also know it’s a very sharp 2-edged sword: not even the Library of Congress can protect against theft, individuals deciding their wants are more important than access to that cultural heritage for the rest of us.

Ah well.

Below are some notes and quoted passages from the current reread. Some are relevant to Hellier 2, some relevant to my current research, but I thought someone might find them interesting.

The Rev. Kirk says that females rarely have the second sight. That’s a 17th century male elite conceit, I believe. If women spoke of having second sight back in that day they would likely be burned.

The Scots would have themselves, their crops, and their livestock blessed every 1st Sunday of every quarter of the year because the Fae changed their lodgings then and evil things might befall them, and seers might have terrifying encounters. The Rev got rather shirty over the fact that these same Scots were not seen the rest of the quarter in church.
The Fae often show up as doppelgangers or what Kirk calls co-walkers, "haunting him as his shadow, as is often seen and known among Men (resembling the Originall) both before and after the Originall is dead."
If invited or "earnestly required," the Fae may speak with men. Otherwise, they can’t be arsed. The Rev. Kirk may not have stated it quite that way.
The Fae make "semblance to devour the Meats that it cunningly carried by, and then left the Carcase as if it expired and departed thence by a naturall and common Death." Cattle mutilations? Modern fae must be more clumsy. Or playing a different game, perhaps? Making themselves known as opposed to sneaking around and hiding? As if they need the attention now as much as they need the Meat.
"They speak but little, and that by way of whistling, clear, not rough…. Yet sometimes the Subterraneans speak more distinctly than at other times."
"They live much longer than we; yet die at last, or at least vanish from that state. ‘Tis one of their tenets, that nothing perisheth, but as the sun and year everything goes in a circle, lesser or greater and is renewed and refreshed in its revolutions."
If invoked by magic means "they are ever readiest to go on hurtful errands, but seldom will be the messengers of great good to men."
A seer who invokes them by magic "is not terrified with their sight when he calls them, but seeing them in a surprise frights him extremely…. For the hideous spectacles seen among them; as the torturing of some Wight, earnest ghostly Looks, skirmishes, and the like. They do not all the harm which appearingly they have power to do; nor are they perceived to be in great pain, save that they are usually silent and sullen."
"They are a people invulnerable by our weapons…these people have not a second or so gross a body at all to be pierced; but as Air which when divided unites again; or if they feel pain by a blow they…quickly cure it."
" they are not subject to sore Sicknesses, but dwindle and decay at a certain Period, all about ane Age. Some say their continual Sadness is because of their pendulous State…as uncertain what at the last Revolution will become of them…"
"The extraordinary or second sight can be given them by the ministry of bad as well as good spirits to those that will embrace it."
The Rev goes on to talk a whole bunch of hunting for treasure, Bible stuff, cunning folk magic. Which is interesting, but nothing I need to take notes on for my writing at the moment.

Random quote of the day:

“Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them; but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.”

—attributed to Christopher Morley

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“In my youth I regarded the Universe as an open book, printed in the language of physical equations, whereas now it appears to me as a text written in invisible ink, of which, in our rare moments of grace, we are able to decipher a small fragment.”

—Arthur Koestler, The Invisible Writing

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

So I’ve finally fallen under the spell of Mindhunter on Netflix. Riveting. I binged most of season one last weekend, finished the last three episodes yesterday and started on episode one of season two. I’m trying to stretch it out. Besides, for some weird reason I only seem to be in serial killer mode on the weekends.

Oh man, such good acting and writing and directing. It’s just great stuff. And the casting is amazing. So much attention to detail and visuals and the way the characters are blocked into a scene. I also like how they imply incredible violence but they don’t glorify it and they don’t exploit it—something that is not true of every show about murder.
*
The ants are on the move. It’s hot and dry so they’ve come inside looking for water and other things. I spray their ant trails with Clorox which kills them but they’re back on a new space the next day. The ants will be here long after I am gone, going about their antly duty.
*
My outrage quota varies from day to day, but each day I hit the limit and I’m forced to shut down because I feel my soul leaking out of my ears.
*
To me, one of the ultimate sins of the world is to throw away books. There are so many places that need books. Even when the rats got to some of my library and destroyed books (sometimes in disgusting ways) it tore me up to throw them away—even though they really had to go. Other books had suffered minimal damage (i.e., thoroughly chewed covers but otherwise fine) and I couldn’t bring myself to toss them. I still have a few of those. Others—and this is cowardice, I know—I put into recycling bags. I was fairly certain the places I donated them to would throw them away. But the sin would not be on my head, you see?

And the books that I have loved to death by reading and re-reading? I still have all those. I can’t bear to throw them out. I keep thinking I can use them to make sculptures or something. And yet they sit in my shelves, sacrosanct. Because, I admit, that every time I see a picture of someone who has gone down to the thrift store and picked up a bunch of old books to turn them into a piece of furniture, my first instinctive reaction is “You asshole!”

Extreme reverence for books may be a sin, but when throwing out books it’s not just tossing an object, it’s an entire world full of people and stories and feelings. I’m not demon enough to do that.
*
Trump/Putin/Helsinki/2018: There are several photos in this sequence that look much the same. This was taken right after their secret meeting where Trump would not allow the translator to take notes. Putin looks like the cat who got into the cream. Meanwhile, Trump displays the face of a man who’s just been told by Putin, “Do everything I say from now on or I’ll call in all those massive loans I gave your and release the peepee tape.” Can anyone reasonably doubt that Trump is a Russian asset?

*
One of the reasons I’m having such a hard time with the current part of the current novel (writing anything is like pulling teeth) is that I already know everything that happens. I’ve never been one who wrote well from an outline. Still, I’m close to 89k in and I’m not giving up.
*
I still miss my tiny best friend more than I can say. Min, aged 19:

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My Cat’s Death Broke My Brain.
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Both of these men (Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper) are a gift, and an antidote to the times we are currently living through:

I agree with Mr. Colbert because of my own past traumatic experiences. I reached a point in my life where I realized that if I like who I am and I’m grateful for my life then even the bad stuff went into making me who I am. Once I got to that place it brought me great peace. It’s an individual choice, and not something anyone has to do, but that’s where I ended up and I’m very glad for it. I accept with gratitude all of my life as part of who I am, good and bad.
*
It amazes me that some of the same people who decry racism and misogyny the loudest think ageism is just fine. Ageism is bullshit, no matter what direction: boomer against millennial, millennial against boomer, Gen X against Gen Z. I call bullshit.
*
I absolutely believe that universal healthcare is a fundamental human right. However, I think you should know that Medicare is not a perfect plan and costs me a lot of money. I sincerely believe we can do better than Medicare for everyone.

Christine Wicker’s book, Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead covers some of the same territory as Spook by Mary Roach—although I think, at the end of the day, Wicker’s book was more genuine. I liked reading both, and Roach is very funny, but she went into her skeptical deep dive exploration of the paranormal with the goal of mocking. She did quite a lot of that in Spook, sometimes to funny effect, but other times to her detriment as a reporter.

Wicker also went in skeptical but was genuinely interested in exploring the lives of the people she encountered. She approached them with respect and a reporter’s eye towards following where the story led, rather than leading the story. I won’t say she became a true believer by the end of the book, but she did emerge from the story changed by what she’d experienced.

Even Roach had to admit that she could not come up with rational explanations for everything she encountered. Yet she clung to the rock of her disbelief like any true acolyte of scientism. And that’s fine with me. I don’t require anyone to drink the Kool-Aid. Some people need to disbelieve no matter the evidence to the contrary, just as some need to believe despite rational explanations. As Ms. Wicker said so eloquently in her quote of the day, below.

See my full review of Christine Wicker’s book here.

Random quote of the day:

“A book is a magic carpet that flies you off elsewhere. A book is a door. You open it. You step through. Do you come back?”

—Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read—ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books.”

—Søren Kierkegaard, Stages on Life’s Way

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

An essay, containing secrets that really aren’t secrets.

Yes, I know that Carl Jung is a deeply flawed human being, but his philosophy explains the world to me better than anyone else I’ve encountered. He makes poetic sense of the twisted labyrinth of human consciousness—and it requires poetry rather than logic to explore those paths. Besides, who better to act as shaman on such a journey than a flawed human being?

(Psst. Here’s a secret: no living, breathing human being is without flaws. Purity is not possible in the earth realm. And, in fact, shamans in tribal society are often “other” and strange and outcast people. They make the best interpreters of the less-than-upright world of the spirit and alternate realities.)

I have other shamans I listen to, other paths I explore, but always swing back to ol’ Carl. I don’t swallow his philosophy—or anyone’s—whole. (The story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is an active metaphor in my psyche.) But I do use Jung’s work as a basis for my own worldview and personal explorations.

(Psst. Here’s another secret: any philosophy worth its salt is a means for discovering your own way of looking at the world, not something slavishly to be followed. Anyone who tells you to walk in lock step or that you must attain righteous purity is probably a spiritual fascist.)

(Psst. There are many valid spiritual paths. What matters is finding the one that gets you closest to the mountaintop.)

I even went so far, in my flush days, of purchasing the complete facsimile edition of The Red Book when it was issued in the earlier years of this century. (It’s almost doubled in price since.) It was so visually amazing that I had this idea to display it open on a library pedestal so I and my guests could page through it if they had a hankering. I don’t know if that’s pretentious or not. I suspect it is, but at the time, it just seemed neato kobeato. And now I’m past giving a damn what people think, anyway.

That idea never came to fruition, however. First, because we had a bird at the time who flew freely through the house. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of birds knows they can’t be potty trained. Need I spell out the possibilities of open display of an expensive book in a house of fluttering birds? The bird, certainly, could not be contained in a cage, at least not during daylight hours. That would have been a violation of her spirit. And a metaphor, of course.

The second and more practical reason why I never got around to displaying it was because I never got the library pedestal and because I fell headlong into the emotional and physical pit of caregiving for many years. The bird, bless her, went to the sky gods a few years back and is no longer a risk to my book. But. It took me a long time to crawl out of the hole I existed in. In some ways, I am still crawling, though I think I may finally be sitting on the lip catching my breath before getting up and moving on. My energy, both psychic and physical, are still not at full strength. I will get there (or some form of there anyway) unless I croak first, but my feet are not quite resting on the earth yet.

Meanwhile, The Red Book gathers dust in a safe location. I have cleared a space in the living room for it, but must wait for an appropriate book stand, mostly for financial reasons. There’s another metaphor lying underneath that dust and waiting, but I’m not going to pursue it here.

Meanwhile meanwhile, my dreams are fertile again, full of archetypes and sendings from the Universe and conversations with muses and the dead. Dr. Jung, with one foot planted on mucky earth and the other in the Other, helps me interpret them in a way that Freud never could. In his stumblings down the crooked path of his life, he made ancient wisdom acceptable to (if not accepted by) academia. He prowled the borders of liminality, pulling hidden lore into the light. This made many academics (who are a conservative lot) deeply uncomfortable, but he did more to make the study of folklore and alchemy and such things valid to them as subjects of learning than anyone else in the early 20th century.

So, I cast a skeptical eye on the trickster nature of the man, but am deeply appreciative of the magus.

Random quote of the day:

“It is the masculine values that prevail. Speaking crudely, football and sport are ‘important;’ the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes ‘trivial.’ And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.”

—Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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