Margaret Murray, Murder, and Witchcraft: Archy Fantasies podcast is new to me but this episode and a glance through the related blog suggests inquisitive skeptics are in charge. In this episode the hosts discuss archaeologist/folklorist Margaret Murray and her search for her theorized witch-cult. Though her theory was ultimately disproved she had a formative influence on modern Wicca, and at age 87(!) involved herself in a murder investigation in search of members of the “old religion”.
I am fresh from a week’s vacation in Puerto Rico! Save some fencing, I did very little save read, rest, and walk around Ponce’s historic downtown. The weather was gloriously warm, the food excellent, the company better, and the rest much-needed.
Needless to say I ran into neither USOs, nor the chupacabras of cryptozoological lore (though there were iguanas, many iguanas) because weird stuff doesn’t happen to me. But I did get a taste of Puerto Rican folklore at the Pan Am Championships’ opening ceremony:
These colorful critters are vejigantes (bay-he-GAHN-tay), a sort of all-purpose demon (or family of demons) that evolved out of the meeting of Spanish, African, and native Taíno cultures.
A quick whip around the web reveals the name comes from “vejiga” (Spanish for cow bladder) and “gigante” (giant) in reference to the dried, seed-filled cow bladders they use as “weapons” at festivals like the annual Carnaval Ponceño.
Most striking are the masks (careta) made of papier-mâché and/or coconut husks. Colors and patterns vary by geography (those above are from Ponce) but bright colors, teeth, and horns seem to be constants. This long-standing folk art is specific to Puerto Rico, and though how-tos (PDF) abound I suspect they don’t stick to traditional methods.
Examples of varying quality were on sale everywhere, in every size from fridge-magnet-small to half my height! I could only get this ~4″ sample home, it’s spiky horns protected inside the hard shell of my fencing mask:
The man who sold this to me said it represents the wife of the “main” vejigante. I haven’t found any list of characters or their relationships so far and it frustrates me that I’m ignorant of the stories behind the imagery. The temptation to research is great but unavailability of info may be for the best – I have no business doing new research when The Novel is still in progress.
I lived in Georgia half my life so of course I’d never heard of Lake Lanier’s legends until I read about them on an Australian paranormal news site. Evidently its got a giant catfish and ghosts, the latter the paranormal result of leaving entire towns (and cemeteries?) intact beneath its muddy waters.
The Ghost Rockets Investigational Portal is a searchable database of Swedish military UFO reports. It’s also the starting point for a crowdsourcing effort to tag and translate the documents into English.
The original Globe Theater is long gone, but The Curtain has been found. It seems the archaeologists are rushing to outpace impending new construction over this Shakespearean theater, but there will be a visitors’ center for the dig once excavation is complete.
More London: “A series of talks on alchemy and magic” are planned for June 4th and 5th to support the restoration of Brompton Cemetery. Featuring all the hits: Dee, Faust, Paracelsus, and even a theremin concert. Ah, to be in Merrie Olde…
Call for papers: Histories of Magic and Sexuality – another Twitter find, for academic sorts. 1000-1500 word essays on this subject “[relating] to any geographical area and must have a strong historical focus. Essays exploring the premodern and early modern periods and regions outside of Europe and the US are encouraged.” Closing 5/15.