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The Scenic Route

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About this blog

We're all Time Lords, just taking the scenic route. 

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These Spells Are Not Gluten Free

So, pursuant to my interest in using textiles and braids as spells, I was doing some reading on wheat weaving, known as 'corn dollies' in the UK. It is pretty fascinating as a tradition and some variant of it exists where-ever wheat was cultivated throughout the world. The last bit of wheat harvested for the year is taken and woven into a blessing for the farmer's home. The lore suggests that in some areas the spirit of the crop was thought to be forced down into the last bit, so it was being taken and preserved, to be planted first when the time came so that the next crop would be bountiful again.  The area of Britain that self-identify strongest with Merlin would be Wales (correct me if I am wrong!), and there are several designs that survive to this day. I was looking about on the internet and found The Wheat Goddesses, a little shop that sells these intricate works. In addition to the Welsh fans that abound, there is a twelve-spoked wheel, called "Merlin's Wheel" and they state that the idea behind it was that there was one spoke for every month of the year and its purpose was to maintain the balance, the natural progression of seasons. This is a re-phrase of my understanding anyway.  That got me to thinking about some of the Lore presented in the World of the Five Gods, a Lois McMaster Bujold series that I adore. In their belief system there was a period of time where demons escaped into the world, beings of chaos that disrupted order and could not engender it, who enticed men to become sorcerer's (by sharing a soul, which was eventually consumed by the demon) to allow the demon to take on some order - such as speech and memories and in turn lending power to the man. The age of sorcerers was terrible because the seasons were completely disrupted and chaos threatened to consume all. Anyway, it ended well, but what of the age of the Titans as described in Greek mythology or the age where the Jotun had the run of the world before the Norse Gods shut them away are all different viewpoints of the same thing?  A twelve spoked wheel, woven of wheat as a ward against such chaos sounds like it may have been a little prayer, or a small charm against chaos. Was it the basis of some greater spell Merlin was thought to have used? Maybe.  In addition to braiding and weaving the wheat, Challah bread is a woven blessing that has its own significance and different shapes for the occasion and throughout the world. Fascinating!  Does anyone out there weave wheat or make corn dollies? Any stories to share?  Be well! 




Everything's a Shambles

So I was interested in textiles and their use as spells. The idea, although not used often is not a new one. If you enjoy stories about witches and witchcraft, of course I recommend Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and in particular his later witchworks surrounding Tiffany Aching (starting with Wee Free Men).  A shamble is an instrument put together by a witch who needs a little help in deciphering a feeling or decide something, or perhaps see a little into the future. It is comprised of a bit of string and whatever else she has in her pockets at the time, ideally including something alive (an egg, bug, root etc). The main character has a lot of trouble with them, but it is because it is like putting glasses on someone who already has excellent vision. (If my memory serves me correctly.)  I imagined it to be something like cat's cradle with a bunch of things stuck in it. Tiffany may have used a wee free man in hers once. Cheeky and altogether very confusing.   Some research has led me to the practice of making witch ladders, which is where  one essentially weaves a line of rope with things like crow feathers and herbs stuck into it. I liken it to the prayer bracelets that some wear, with the expectation that the wish or prayer comes true when the bracelet eventually wears out and falls off, but this is a bit more purposeful. I understand this may still be used in a different fashion in modern Wiccan practice, with knot magick, comprising 3, 9, or 13 knots.  From 1621-1623 in Vardø, Norway there were held witch trials, in which one woman, Else Knutsdatter, confirmed that in the Christmas of 1617, the witches had tied a fishing rope three times, spat at it and untied it, after which "the sea rose like ashes and people were killed." Else was arrested after she was seen in the company of demons in the shapes of black cats and dogs, and was exposed to the ordeal of water. Approximately 150 people, including men of the Sami minority died, executed if they survived torture. The whole thing was set in motion by a severe storm in 1617, where ten boats and forty men died. Prior to 1620 there were no laws on the books that permitted the persecution of witches.  Witch hunts continued throughout Europe, so it is not surprising that the International Statue of Wizarding Secrecy was signed into law in 1689. Magical families withdrew from anyone who associated with muggles out of fear of being fingered or drawn into the trials themselves.  Anyway, back to the point of interest. Textiles as spells (or prayers as the case may be), we know that hair holds importance and power even after the being or creature who donated it has passed. Otherwise all of those unicorn hair wands, and mosts especially the Elder Wand would have lost their oomph long before and most likely at an inconvenient moment. Cutting off one's hair as a sign of grief has the weight of power, although it can be renewed. Samson, I salute you! Did the truly paranoid wizard vanish his toenail clippings and shed hair? Perhaps Tom Riddle was completely hairless as a matter of paranoia? Sure suits me to think that Hermione would never be able to polyjuice into him. She had a tough enough time with Bellatrix Lestrange!  Braids in the hair could be used as wards, which the knots we see in celtic works and modern theatre are inspiring, but what if beautiful was also powerful? Back to the shamble idea, a charm made of hair may be able to serve as a guide to find a lost loved one. Such a charm need not be romantic. I can imagine a desperate mother in 1601, preparing for her son to go to sea with her husband, wishing to send with him protection and a way to get home should he become lost. How strong would such a protection be?  Many of these arts must be lost to the milennia in Harry Potter's time, but I like to think that there are still some repositories of old knowledge still waiting to be discovered.  Anyone else do any research on such a topic?  In the meantime, always take care to carry a length of string with you, and a few bits and bobs in case an ill wind blows your way, or you need second sight to see the truth of the world. Be well. 




Pro Tip

@Ineke was very kind in PMing me an extra helping hand. My first submission was released months ago and I didn't see the email from the site that accepted it, so the silence was assumed normal. It turns out every notification and message from HPFT has been filtering to my spam box this whole time. Makes a lot of sense. Now.  I am an idiot, thank you. :) 





Alright, so I've been a member of this community for over a year now and I have to admit, I feel a bit like a child staring in on a tank at the Aquarium. I am sure at some point I'll manage to fall in, or grow up to be rich enough to pay my way in for a scuba session, but please forgive me if I don't seem to understand how this whole thing works. I suppose my content count is low because I don't post, so I'll have a go at it. My only complaint so far is the archive side of things has no direct way of communicating with the staff who are proctoring the chapter approval process. I have to assume that some of my art disappeared from an already approved work recently because it was the wrong size or something of that nature. Where does one get banners that size? Canva doesn't seem to have it as a preset. Anyway...  A little about me:  I posted my very first WIP on 29 May 2017, and it is an ongoing work on A03 and FFN - and so far I've been led to believe that I'm not doing a terrible job. I love the characters and the world that JK Rowling put together. She's fantastic. I should get this out there right now: Snape is one of my favourite characters. I can't apologize, it is my own personal feeling. He's brilliant, strong, tragic and got the job done. No, he isn't the only hero, but he is the one that keeps me coming back. Yes, he's flawed. No, it isn't really okay for adults to abuse their power to bully students (although it hasn't always been such a taboo). I still adore him.  The premise of Time Immemorial was manifold: What if Hermione underwent a dissociative fugue at the end of the war and had a time turner. Secondarily: What would have happened if Snape had a mentor, and if adults were the ones who fought the first war?  A problem that I've had is that the story really is two stories: One - Hermione and Severus' story. Two - What is happening to the whole of the Wizarding World. My cast is too large, the scope is huge, and I have many POVs, all of which work for me, but keeping in mind how I felt the first time reading GoT or anything classic out of Russia, it probably is a bit much. But I can't stop now! I've written over 200K and 54 published chapters. So, if you start reading a story that is sshg, and find a over-arching Wizarding War plot, would you be truly upset that Severus and Hermione are not the stars of every single chapter?  The only stories I've published here are "The Spark," which was a piece written for the Rule of Three Challenge and a piece called "Lost Dog Days of Summer" which is still half caught in the chapter approval machine here after being posted 7-29 to 7-30. The Lost Dog piece was written for a Summer Fic exchange that is hosted on A03. The first four chapters of ten are here, if you are inclined to read a Beach/Summer themed piece about Sirius running away as a dog.  I don't think either piece is bad, and I am rather proud of myself for finishing them.  More some other time.  Love,  Fawkesy.



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