Slaughter all

July 9, 2020

There is no ethnic group on the face of this earth that has not been slaughtered; viz Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Britons, and thousands of other tribes worldwide. When, after a conflict, the best balanced leaders who have a stake in the future of all persons, are bypassed, and instead power is seized by the angriest and most grudge-holding, whose greatest stake is in the past…without new consciousness, and without strong reconciling actions…thus erupts a horrible recycling of living out the least of what is human in this world.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Letter To The Prince on the Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Even in Winter, you are not safe. Stay indoors, attend your hearths. Try to keep the night at bay by the telling of your tongue. Remember your kin, honour your ancestors. For at this time the dead begin to stir, riding upon hallowed and familiar roads, galloping through villages and wastes, flying through the forests of the mind. Such raids are reminders that the past is not a dead thing, but may return, like a hunter, to follow us for a time.

Ari Berk and William Spytma
The Wild Hunt

[T]he emphasis on sexuality as the root of all evil served to subordinate all women. The ancient Roman world was rife with flesh-hating spiritualities — Stoicism, Manichaeism, Neoplatonism — and they influenced Christian thinking just as it was gelling into “doctrine.” Thus the need to disempower the figure of Mary Magdalene, so that her succeeding sisters in the church would not compete with men for power, meshed with the impulse to discredit women generally. This was most efficiently done by reducing them to their sexuality, even as sexuality itself was reduced to the realm of temptation, the source of human unworthiness. All of this — from the sexualizing of Mary Magdalene, to the emphatic veneration of the virginity of Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the embrace of celibacy as a clerical ideal, to the marginalizing of female devotion, to the recasting of piety as self-denial, particularly through penitential cults — came to a kind of defining climax at the end of the sixth century. It was then that all the philosophical, theological and ecclesiastical impulses curved back to Scripture, seeking an ultimate imprimatur for what by then was a firm cultural prejudice. It was then that the rails along which the church — and the Western imagination — would run were set.

James Carroll
Who Was Mary Magdalene?

Every foolish drunken poet,
boorish vanity without ceasing,
(never may I warrant it,
I of great noble stock,)
has always declaimed fruitless praise
in song of the girls of the lands
all day long, certain gift,
most incompletely, by God the Father:
praising the hair, gown of fine love,
and every such living girl,
and lower down praising merrily
the brows above the eyes;
praising also, lovely shape,
the smoothness of the soft breasts,
and the beauty’s arms, bright drape,
she deserved honour, and the girl’s hands.
Then with his finest wizardry
before night he did sing,
he pays homage to God’s greatness,
fruitless eulogy with his tongue:
leaving the middle without praise
and the place where children are conceived,
and the warm quim, clear excellence,
tender and fat, bright fervent broken circle,
where I loved, in perfect health,
the quim below the smock.
You are a body of boundless strength,
a faultless court of fat’s plumage.
I declare, the quim is fair,
circle of broad-edged lips,
it is a valley longer than a spoon or a hand,
a ditch to hold a penis two hands long;
cunt there by the swelling arse,
song’s table with its double in red.
And the bright saints, men of the church,
when they get the chance, perfect gift,
don’t fail, highest blessing,
by Beuno, to give it a good feel.
For this reason, thorough rebuke,
all you proud poets,
let songs to the quim circulate
without fail to gain reward.
Sultan of an ode, it is silk,
little seam, curtain on a fine bright cunt,
flaps in a place of greeting,
the sour grove, it is full of love,
very proud forest, faultless gift,
tender frieze, fur of a fine pair of testicles,
a girl’s thick grove, circle of precious greeting,
lovely bush, God save it.

Gwerful Mechain
Translated from the original Welsh by Dafydd Johnston

[The poet Gwerful Mechain was the most celebrated Welsh female poet in the 15th Century. In this poem she criticises males for praising all parts of the female anatomy – but never the genitalia]

important life lessons

July 3, 2020

If you love fairytales you should thank French author Charles Perrault who was born 388 years ago today, on 12 January 1628. He wrote versions of Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella (and his Cendrillon was written 200 years before the Brothers Grimm wrote theirs!).

Today fairytales still nourish our imaginations, providing enchanted forests filled with sleeping beauties, cunning wolves and charming princes. They may take place in magical kingdoms far removed from our own but these stories teach us important life lessons.

Anna Bradley
What lessons should we learn from fairytales?

I created Mythago Wood in order to be able to explore the notion of ‘lost legends’ and ‘lost heroes’. It was my idea that for every King Arthur we remember, there are twenty wonderful heroes whose stories were lost. For every tale of a Greek hero, there are twenty tales of that hero that were never written down. Lost. During the writing of the book I decided to imply that our own ‘collective unconscious’ minds still carry memories of those great, forgotten heroes. And indeed, of those great, forgotten events. So I drew on Carl Jung, yes, and I researched the mythological past through the work of Joseph Campbell, and The Golden Bough, the massive work by James Frazier. I also drew heavily on Greek and Norse mythology. But the essential point is that all my work is fiction, and the whole point of my fantasy work is to try to illuminate and create in the readers’ minds the sense of how enormous the past of legend and myth has been; and of how very little remains.

In this way, yes, I am close to Mike Moorcock in that he writes robust tales of imaginary heroes, imaginary mythologies. And Alan Moore, too, draws inspiration from the source. We call it, here: ‘drawing water from the same well’. The late writer Keith Roberts said this to me first, and it is certainly the case that Keith Roberts and I were inspired by the same sense of the obscure and vanished past; heroes in the mist; heroism and the summoning of ancient forces, now forgotten and beyond our powers.

Robert Holdstock
Interviewed by Octavio Aragao. 17th July 2008

It is a still morning, misty and dappled, and where the light touches flesh or linen or fresh leaves, there is a sheen like the sheen on an eggshell: the whole world luminous, its angles softened, its scent watery and green.

Hilary Mantel
Wolf Hall

We live in a world that is mostly predicated on a rational and scientific worldview, which effectively means that any phenomenon beyond the physically measurable is automatically deemed non-existent, including souls, gods, ghosts and human consciousness. While I would agree that we need to recover the psychological connection that once existed between ourselves and our environment – because to do otherwise is to render us all pointless automata in a material world which, by its own admission, has no direction or purpose – I would say that the problem could be more sharply defined if we put aside contentious terms like ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, and instead opted for the less vague but just as scientifically problematic term ‘meaning’. If by coming to know more about the historical or mythological aspects of the places in which we live we make those places more meaningful, to us at least, then I suggest that this will lead to experiencing ourselves as more meaningful in our new, illuminated context.

The big difference between ‘meaning’ and ‘a spirit’ is that where meaning is concerned, we have to do all the necessary hard work in order to invest that place or that person or that object with meaning, whereas spirits just sort of turn up, don’t they? I believe that our world is gloriously haunted with meaning; that it’s we ourselves that are doing the haunting; and that we should be doing more of it, or doing it more strenuously.

In an era where supposedly hard material reality seems to shift more like vapour with every passing day, I think it becomes more evident that timeless and unchanging mythology is the actual solid bedrock on which our flimsy and temporary human realities are briefly erected. Whether you call it soul or spirit or meaning, it is the Real, as opposed to this spasming neo-conservative monetarist/materialist dream that we’re all required to share, and if we care about having a meaningful world in which to lead meaningful lives then we should all try harder to reinvest our environments with the meaning that belligerent materialism has sucked out of them.

Alan Moore
Interview with THE DAILY GRAIL, Thursday 27th April

Five thousand years ago, the Sumerians called the night ngi, the stars mul, and the moon Nanna.

Four thousand years ago, the Akkadians called the night mūšu, the stars kakkabū, and the moon Sîn.

Three thousand years ago, the Hittites called the night išpanza, the stars haštereš, and the moon Arma.

Two and a half thousand years ago, the Greeks called the night nux, the stars astra, and the moon Selênê.

Two thousand years ago, the Romans called the night nox, the stars stellae, and the moon Luna.

Kings and queens and heroes looked up at them. So did travelers coming home, and little children who sneaked out of bed. So did slaves, and mothers and soldiers and old shepherds, and Sappho and Muršili and Enheduanna and Socrates and Hatshepsut and Cyrus and Cicero. In this darkness it didn’t matter who they were, or where they stood. Only that they were human.

Think of that tonight, when you close your window. You are not alone. You share this night sky with centuries of dreamers and stargazers, and people who longed for quiet. Are you anxious? The Hittites were too: they called it pittuliyaš. Does your heart ache? The Greeks felt it too: they called it akhos. Those who look up to the stars for comfort are a family, and you belong to them. Your ancestors have stood under Nanna, Sîn, Arma, Selênê and Luna for five thousand years. Now its light is yours.

May it soothe you well.


Caesar is one of the cult heroes of this country. He was a queer customer and ushered in a new order of sensibility. He was the complete bisexual without shame or false vainglory, “husband to all women and wife to all men”, as the chroniclers record it. Seen from our own vantage-point in time it would seem to us that he owned his magnificent control to an overwhelming psychic frigidity. This lent a strange peculiarity to the affair with Cleopatra. The fact that both parties were homosexual led to a strange inversion; he played with her the role of the woman who has intercourse with a man. This bound them together very closely. It was their secret.

Lawrence Durrell
Caesar’s Vast Ghost