I'm sick in bed, someone rub my head and read me a story

Have you ever heard the story of the woman whose baby was stolen by the Sidhe? It’s an old Irish folk tale apparently, I used to tell it to my kids (Come to think of it that explains a little about Bug and Bee…) (It’s also the inspiration for my next book, Changeling).

The woman refused to accept that her baby was gone. She searched high and low, asking everyone if they’d seen her baby, and while most shook their heads in grief for her, she didn’t lose hope.

At last she met an old woman who told her what everyone else did - your child is with the Sidhe. You cannot get her back…

Unless.

She gave the young woman invulnerability to go along with her strength and determination, and told her to create something with which to trade for entrance to the land of the Sidhe, and something to trade for her baby. The woman collected the softest feathers from gulls nests on vast seaside cliffs and wove them into a cloak of pure soft white. She found a whale’s jawbone bleached by the sun and sea, then took her own golden hair and strung it onto the bone to create a cláirseach (Irish harp) which sang with a clear sweet note. Only then was she ready.

She found the entrance to the heart of the hill, where the Sidhe live, draped the cloak about her shoulders and walked back and forth preening herself. Before long a Sidhe woman came to her and asked for the cloak. She offered her riches and gifts and many priceless things for it, for the fair folk can’t create, but only look upon the creations of humans with envy. The young woman refused all bargains but entry to the hill. Eventually the Sidhe agreed and led her in.

The young woman walked to the centre of the hill, in a bustling square, sat down and began to play her cláirseach, singing along of how she missed her baby. The Sidhe surrounded her, transfixed, and when at last her lament ended, the Lord of the Sidhe himself came to her. “I must have that harp; give it to me and I will cover you in gold.”

“This is worth far more than that paltry sum, it is made with my own hair.”

The Lord had precious gems brought and laid on the ground in front of her as she began to pick out another soulful song. “Give me the harp and you shall have all these jewels as well, you shall be a princess among your people.”

The woman was poor, but the gems didn’t even catch her eye. She shook her head and played a mournful chord that had the Sidhe weeping and wailing to have the music in their own hands.

“I shall grant you eternal life so that you may make another harp, only let me have this one,” said the Lord.

“More life of my own is nothing to me,” she said. “All I want is my daughter back.”

At first the Lord refused. Children are the most fascinating of all the human’s creations, and the child was a favourite plaything of the Sidhe. But the woman stood and walked as she played a yet more tragic song, so that many of the Sidhe fell to their knees and wept.

“Fine,” cried the Lord. “Bring the child.”

Only when her daughter was in the woman’s arms did she release the cláirseach to the Lord of the fair folk. He immediately started to play, his nimble fingers drawing songs wild and painfully beautiful from the golden strands. All the Sidhe gathered around him in awe, but the woman had eyes for her baby only. As the Sidhe focused on the Lord’s music, the woman held the child close to her chest and slipped away, back out from the hill, and back to her village.

And as far as I know, the Sidhe are still sitting around their Lord, listening to his beautiful music.

Sleep well.

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one of the funniest sections of pliny the elder's natural histories to me is in book 30 when pliny excitedly says that moles are the animal that magicians love most and then goes on to explain that it's because moles are creatures becursed and despised by nature itself

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pliny the elder, seeing moles: truly there is no creature farther from god than this

You know how in the ancient world they believed a very long time ago there was the age of heroes when the world was populated by super powered descendants of the gods. Chickens have that in real life but it’s the dinosaurs

This fits so well with the art of chickens contacting a wise ancestor:

(Source: @catadromously​’s art)

“Tell us your wisdom, O Great One!”

“My wisdom is this: bite everything.”

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One More Kiss, Dear

[ID: dramatic, detailed illustration of an armored knight kissing a glowing queen made of light. The queen has long curly hair and a flowing cloak that billows out, and the knight plunges their bloody sword into a glowing heart at the bottom of the cape, causing veins and arteries that look like lightning to spike out from the heart throughout the image. The knight is armored in gold, with a white band around their arm, a red cape, and a sun emblem on their chest. Their helmet has a long plume, and the visor is up so they can kiss the queen. The queen glows white, and their cloak has slashed puff sleeves and is so long it overflows the bottom of the image, turning purple and sunset colors by the hem. The background is dark.]

okay but nessie was given the scientific name nessiteras rhombopteryx so she’d be included in the conservation of wild creatures and wild plants act of ‘75.

it’s a felony to shoot bigfoot in washington state.

the human race has sent out messages to the stars, hoping that any extraterrestrials who hear will accept our offer of friendship.

ghost hunters extend their sympathy to the souls of murder victims and bring along items that the spirits loved in life.

I think there’s something very human about the desire to believe in the paranormal. we don’t know if any of these things truly exist, but we make the offer of friendship and protection anyway. I just think it’s really lovely in its own ridiculous way.

Plate 7 - The massive, yet nearly two-dimensional Whiskered Seraph rises above the wood to it's sonorous gong-like cries. Despite it's massive size, because of the thick canopy it was only observable only from our camp. The creature flew over the horizon after being rousted from it's perch, and we know it only from this singular sighting.

it has occurred to me that the “walking under a ladder is bad luck” thing mainly seems designed to prevent safety hazards.  we should start doing this with other safety hazards.

  • if you stand on a rolling chair your livestock shall fall ill
  • if you bike without a helmet your bloodline shall be cursed with obscure allergies
  • on the phone while driving?  plague of locusts
  • I know the whole point of superstition is vagueness because that keeps it unprovable but this is more fun
  • extra million years bad luck if you use a ladder without someone standing on the bottom to weigh it down