The spy who hoodwinked the Nazis with sorcery: file under “interesting if true”. As opposed to “Operation” Cone of Power in which British witches actually tried to repel the Nazis, Operation Mistletoe was just propaganda. Allegedly orchestrated by spy and occultist Cecil Williams, this article suggests it’s uncertain whether this fake ritual happened at all. (Tangentially, a whip ’round Google for “Napoleonic magical ritual” nets nothing about the alleged witchcraft used to repel Napoleon mentioned in the article. Still, possible inspiration for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell?)
Like a lot of histfic fans I’ve been enjoying Starz’ “The White Princess”. I’m not sure how historically accurate it is. I’m not sure it matters.
The story plays with one of the gaps in our knowledge that is so ripe for fictionalization: how did Henry VII and his queen Elizabeth of York develop a happy marriage? Sources tell us Henry mourned Elizabeth deeply when she died, but not how a woman could be happy with a man who killed her uncle and deposed her family. Two episodes in I think the miniseries (based on Philippa Gregory’s novel of the same name) plays with this question admirably.
Even if the Woodvilles did try to lure Edward IV into marrying Elizabeth through supernatural means they may not have had to: she was reputed to be a great beauty and charming to boot.
Still, if those lead figures were Jaquetta’s she was using them for something, but that may not mean much. People at all levels of society dabbled in witchcraft during the early modern period. For that I do have a footnote: Keith Thomas’ Religion and the Decline of Magic.
A Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony In… Renaissance Rome?: same-sex marriage isn’t a new phenomenon, though the context was different and the risks substantially greater. Traditional marriage has always been challenged and what constitutes “traditional” is constantly in flux.
Witchcraft Before Wicca: Three Important Magickal Books: a lengthy and detailed article about the origin and content of Scot’s “Discoverie Of Witches”, “The Key of Solomon” and Leyland’s “Aradia, Or the Gospel of the Witches”. Contains footnotes for those inclined to inquire further.
Why the Technology in ‘Rogue One’ Is So Old-Fashioned: can science fiction be historical? Arguably yes, if it’s based on 40-year-old source material. The author notes that most tech in Rogue One is based on that of the original 1977 Star Wars – which was heavily based on a combination of medieval and WWII imagery. A lovely example on how science fiction can be nostalgic even while looking to the future (or a galaxy far, far away).
Arrival – reviewed by a UFO expert: the expert in question is Nick Pope, former head of the UFO desk (yes, there was [is?] such a thing) in the UK’s Ministry of Defence. Some interesting observations about how the plot of the movie intersects with government (lack of) contingency plans for alien contact and the portrayal of the military. I saw this a few weeks ago and it’s a slow mover but riveting. The aliens are truly alien and the story stays with you long after the credits roll.
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”.
Bad Witch Workout Is Where Squats and Spells Go Hand in Hand – while some parts I don’t get (makeup while working out??) the bit about “so many exercise classes…feel alienating if you’re a weirdo or a goth or a punk-rock kid or a riot girl or a feminist” does sound familiar. Workouts for the weird with a dose of spirituality can’t be a bad thing.