Snow Maiden

A little light froth for the winter season with a Russian story. Last day of lecturing before the Christmas holidays for me (a productive conference on the ethics of substance misuse - which has stimulated a lot of thought for me, hearing what the other speakers had to say). I may write more on that later, thinking of an animist ethos in drug use (which was largely the angle that I spoke on). It was lovely catching up with people that I used to work with a decade back.

This story is one version (there are several) of the Snow Maiden Snegurochka, and her adventures with Ded Moroz, Grandfather Frost. This version is the one that Ostrovsky worked into a play and Rimsky-Korsakov later converted into a popular opera. Love sometimes comes at a high cost, as this take indicates. Old Moroz strikes me as a far more interesting figure than the western Santa Claus.

Valuing nature

It's been a while since I recorded anything for the Introduction to Paganism series. After a request, this is an addition on the theme of reverencing nature (both our own human nature and the wider picture). It isn't any more coherent than previous podcasts, but will hopefully provide a topic or two for further debate amongst listeners.

Defining dog

It's been a while since I recorded a story (crap month, but now it's December so let's try and move on!). Last weekend I told stories at a fundraising event in Suffolk for the Dogs Trust. The organiser baked up a plethora of excellent cakes and ran raffles and all sorts. The attendance wasn't big, and therein resides a tale in itself about community and why its like trying to get blood from a stone, but the hall hire was covered and some cash is winging its way to the Trust to feed a few hungry hounds.
This short story is one that I didn't tell at the event, but it's nice and short - the account of how five brothers - the Pandavas - and their shared wife Draupadi (a rare example of polyandry) go on a pilgrimage up the Himalayas and encounter a seemingly very ordinary old dog. Things are never quite what the seem, and it always pays to be nice to wandering hounds (you never know who might be looking at you out of those big brown eyes).

Who's story?

Today Whoids the world over celebrate the ancient festivity of the First Materialisation when our Time Lord and Frequent Saviour first manifested on the screen. I wanted to say something profound and insightful, but I left my brain at the office. So instead, a brief aside into John Locke's philosophy of identity.
Back in 1689 Locke wrote An Essay Concerning Human Understanding which, in part, explored the notion as to what identity means when human nature is so changeable. the cells of our bodies regenerate over time, such that the body I have today is not cell-for-cell the same as the body I inhabited twenty years ago (for one thing, there's rather more of it). Not only is my flesh different, but my mind has changed. I have filled my head with a thousand books and hundreds of stories and have been emotionally changed by the people I've met in those two decades - some for the better, and some much for the worse. Whilst some things have remained constant, such as devotion …

Pooka's Pageant 2017

This Saturday, 18th November, will be the annual celebration of mythology through storytelling, song, and poetry. Doors at Oddfellows Hall open at 10am (close at 4pm), and tickets are £4 with any profits going to animal charities.

A link to the programme can be found here with performances from Fiona Dowson, Shaun Ibbs, and Robert Lummis, plus music from Carys and two story sessions with me (one about underwater deities and the other about the spectral doings of dark and deadly entities).

Hope to see plenty of people there.

The Devil's Bridge

A short and mildly spectral tale for the Halloween season. There are several variations of this story from around the world, accounting for unusual stone landscape features. This version is from Ceredigion in Wales and explains how the original bridge across the Mynarch was made (not the modern bridge, whose origins are rather more prosaic).

The Dybbuk

With Halloween just around the corner I am going to record one or two gruesome stories. A friend, Nick, suggested something about a dybbuk - the dibbukim are ghostly entities that possess living flesh, often because they have some task left incomplete in this world that must be done (frequently connected to the idea of teshuva, repenting for wickedness as the dybbuk are decidedly unhappy, often unpleasant ghosts). This tale is a combination of several short anecdotal accounts - too brief to make stories in their own right - overlaid with a brief and ugly snippet of recent history. If you want to understand what a greifer is, have a look here.
I hope mashing up stories does not offend any Jewish people who might listen to it (let me know if there's a better version of a dybbuk story that I could record if this one does give offence). I thought about making this tale more graphic, but decided better of it.