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Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 12:35AM
A thread dedicated to any folklore you'd like to share and discuss. I figured since weird authors were generally well-read in legendry and folklore, then this thread could be of interest here. After all, CAS mentioned all kinds of obscure traditions from the real world, such as geases, Antillia, and an impressive list of mythical creatures from this Oct. 1933 letter to HPL:

Quote:
Clark Ashton Smith
If I were a practising wizard, like Namirrha or Malygris or Nathaire, I'd devise a behemothian Sending and dispatch it to his office. The Sending would include a brace of penanggalans, and about a dozen rokurokubis with jaws elastic as their necks, and a regiment of poltergeists equipped with sledge-hammers. Callicantzaris and vrykolakes and barguests and Himalayan Snow-Men and Eskimo tupileks and the more unpleasant Aztec gods would form the main body; and a mass formation of shoggoths would bring up the rearguard.

Given the number of active members here, I won't insist on any rules. Simply share and discuss what you will, if you think it would be interesting!

I was inspired to start this thread because of Dale Nelson's mention of Lafcadio Hearn, so I thought it might be interesting to share a website dedicated to Japanese legendary creatures. No need to make this thread all about them, just consider it a weird treat! Japan's folk beliefs are so wild, rich, and bizarre that I'm sure CAS would have enjoyed them, and agreed that Tsathoggua and Atlach-Nacha could find a comfortable home in the countryside (accompanied by those rokurokubis he mentioned in the above quote, also from Japanese lore!).

[yokai.com]

Here's the website. Have fun going through the list, or clicking the "random yokai" option. You can expect to find things like colossal skeletons made out of regular-sized skeletons, or poorly maintained Buddha statues that become impish little creatures.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 29 Aug 20 | 12:42AM by Hespire.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 10:49AM
This is great!

I'm going to pass the link to my wife and daughter. My daughter, especially, really likes this sort of stuff.

Thanks, Hespire!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 11:48AM
Thank you, Hespire. This thread should be an interesting place to visit for years to come.

Would anyone (other than me) like to tell about how you became interested in folktales, what you've read and the books you've collected and so on?

One of many things for which I am thankful is that I got on to folktales while I was still a youngster. This happened, especially, as I browsed the shelves of the children's section of the Coos Bay, Oregon, public library in the second half of the 1960s. I took particularly to Northern European tales. One of the great books of my life is the 1960 Viking Press book Norwegian Folk Tales "from the collection of Peter Christian Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe," and illustrated with drawings by Erik Werenskiold and Theodor Kittelsen. The latter artist, by the way, is my all-time favorite artist of the macabre. His sequence of pictures of the Black Death as a crone is memorable. It's probably a good thing that his most macabre work is not found in the Viking Press book I am recommending, and which was such a beloved library book of my boyhood. Later, it was issued in paperback in the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library.

That book gave me “Soria Moria Castle,” “The Three Princesses in the Mountain-in-the-Blue,” “The Golden Castle That Hung in the Air,” “The Twelve Wild Ducks,” “The Golden Bird” – wonder-tales much to my taste. There were also humorous stories that I appreciated more later on, such as “‘Good Day, fellow!’ ‘Axe-Handle!’” The pictures of trolls, as for “The Boys Who Met the Trolls in the Hedal Woods,” caught these creatures’ combination of large size, earthiness, formidable strength, stupidity, and malice. ....Where Tolkien wrote that, as a boy, he desired dragons with a fierce desire, I desired trolls.

Years later, as a high school teacher in Seaside, Oregon, a colleague and I drove up to Astoria and visited Parnassus Books -- December 1978. This was my first encounter, as far as I remember, with the University of Chicago's Folktales of the World series. I bought Folktales of Norway, edited by Reidar Christiansen. I loaned that copy and it wasn't returned, but replaced it long ago.

A third early folktale acquisition was Jacqueline Simpson's Icelandic Folktales and Legends, which I bought on 19 Jan. 1980 at Powell's wonderful bookstore in downtown Portland -- I'm glad to say that the rioters seem to be leaving it, at least, alone.

And, for the fourth book I will mention in this posting, on 26 July 1989 I bought Dr. Simpson's Scandinavian Folktales at Borene Books in Willmar, Minnesota.

I recommend all of these books. To underscore my love of them, I will confess that, if I had to cut my present library of some 4000 books down to 200, I expect that all four of these books would make the cut.

That's a reflection of my love. It's not to say that, if your passion is for CAS, these would be the folktales you would like more than any others. That's probably not true. The Norwegian tales are redolent of forest and mountain, of peasants and an appreciation of the mother wit that gets someone out of a scrape. My sense is that Smith's taste was more for the elegant, the bizarre, the perfumed, the bejewelled, and perhaps the folktales from Persia and the Arabian peninsula would supply them. I'm frankly not much acquainted with those, although I note that the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore library includes a volume. But I'm not sure that those are the qualities one would actually find in the authentic Arab folktales. Does someone know more about them?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 29 Aug 20 | 11:52AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: charaina (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 12:24PM
Are there a lot of references to things like monsters, weird dreams, etc. and the like in Lovecraft’s letters with folks like CAS, Wandrei, etc.?

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 12:38PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Norwegian tales
> are redolent of forest and mountain, of peasants
> and an appreciation of the mother wit that gets
> someone out of a scrape. My sense is that Smith's
> taste was more for the elegant, the bizarre, the
> perfumed, the bejewelled, and perhaps the
> folktales from Persia and the Arabian peninsula
> would supply them.

Smith read widely. He was much influenced by H. C. Andersen's fairy tales.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 12:39PM
Gosh, Kittelsen is really *something*, isn't he?

I did "KIttelsen" in Google images and what a treat!

Thanks, Dale.

BTW, I live in PDX, I'm sure we discussed this before. It's not the same as it was only 4 years ago, and I hope it can come back, but it's more than merely COVID ("merely"!) that has affected its tenor and outlook. Everyone here *must* choose a side, there is only *one* right answer to any question, and to me, this is just plain ugly. I've never yet belonged to a "side" and I'm too old to change this now.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 12:44PM
Sawfish, you must be speaking for a lot of "invisible" people in Portland. I hope you all will be able to make some good changes for your city come about when it's time to evaluate the people in charge now.

But, yeah, isn't Kittelsen amazing? Whew. Macabre, but not nauseating.

His feeling for the macabre and the weird seem to me to come out of deep, deep roots in the Norwegian countryside and folk world. If you can, take a look at that edition of Norwegian Folk Tales.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 01:21PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish, you must be speaking for a lot of
> "invisible" people in Portland. I hope you all
> will be able to make some good changes for your
> city come about when it's time to evaluate the
> people in charge now.
>
> But, yeah, isn't Kittelsen amazing? Whew.
> Macabre, but not nauseating.
>

To me, the best of his stuff I've seen just now is strangely subtle... Like "Black Death"...

[www.alamy.com]

You look at it, and at first don't know what, exactly, to make of it.

Then you see the raven zooming in, and you know...

And then you think: "Wow. That could have actually happened many times, during the plague times...".

A lot of them are a bit over-drawn--too directly suggestive--for my taste, what with looming, glowing eyes, but then you see this one:

[www.artnet.com]

...and this one conveys a situation about as hopeless as it can get.

I also saw some of the others that must have been related to the Black Death theme, and they, too, are really haunting.


> His feeling for the macabre and the weird seem to
> me to come out of deep, deep roots in the
> Norwegian countryside and folk world. If you can,
> take a look at that edition of Norwegian Folk
> Tales.

So much stuff, too!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 01:59PM
In case anyone would like a little help with the question "What's out there?" -- here are a couple of folktale series.

(A) Folktales of the World, published by the University of Chicago Press

1.Germany
2.China
3.England
4.Ireland
5.Norway (Ian Myles Slater's review at Amazon says it was #5)
6.Hungary
7.Japan
8.Israel
9.Mexico
10.Greece

There certainly were releases in the Folktales of the World series for Chile (hardcover only?), Egypt (released in paperback, but perhaps not numbered), France (possibly only in hardcover), and India (this was released in paperback, but perhaps not numbered). That makes 14 volumes. There was also Folktales Told Around the World.

In Folktales Told Around the World, Richard Dorson mentioned Folktales of the West Indies as another projected volume. It seems volumes for Switzerland, Scotland, Southern Africa, Turkey, and the Philippines were projected but were not published. The Told Around volume thus presents quite a lot of material that ended up not being published in the series because (apparently) it ended after 15 volumes.

(B) The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library contained the following 20 books and a very few more. Information is transcribed from a list that I photocopied from somewhere.

African Folktales (Abrahams)

Afro-American Folktales (Abrahams)

American Indian Myths and Legends (Erdoes and Ortiz)

Arab Folktales (Bushnaq)

Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies (Roberts)

Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Eighty Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Andersen)

An Encyclopedia of Fairies (Briggs)

Favorite Folktales from Around the World (Yolen)

Folktales from India (Ramanujan)

French Folktales (Pourrat)

Gods and Heroes (Greek mythology, Schwab)

Irish Folktales (Glassie)

Norse Myths (Crossley-Holland)

Northern Tales (Eskimo, etc., Norman)

Norwegian Folk Tales (Asbjørnsen and Moe)

Russian Fairy Tales (Afanas’ev)

Victorian Fairy Tale Book (Hearn)

Yiddish Folktales (Weinreich)


Of course, there's no reason to limit oneself to books in a series, nor will most people want to "collect 'em all" in a series -- I sure haven't. But what I've seen of these books leads me to speak well of them as fare for grownups.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 02:05PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Norwegian Folk Tales "from the collection of Peter Christian
> Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe," and illustrated with
> drawings by Erik Werenskiold and Theodor
> Kittelsen.
>
> ....Where Tolkien wrote
> that, as a boy, he desired dragons with a fierce
> desire, I desired trolls.
>


John Bauer was another children's book illustrator who liked trolls.

Brother Martin

If someone else cries ...

Troll lunch

Mother-love

Troll at the door

Humpe

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 02:05PM
Now, to come back to the focus on weird folktales -- what about getting down to cases?

I'll recommend a few particular ones.

"Mujina" by Lafcadio Hearn in Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things from Japan.

[www.trussel.com]

"Yallery Brown" by Joseph Jacobs from More English Fairy Tales (this is like something out of M. R. James)

[en.wikisource.org]

"Trunt, Trunt, and the Trolls in the Fells/Mountains" from Iceland (I have this in one of Dr. Simpson's books)

[52books.blogspot.com]

That last one reminds me rather a lot of Blackwood's "Wendigo" -- do you agree?

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 02:24PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> ... isn't Kittelsen amazing? Whew.
> Macabre, but not nauseating.
>
> His feeling for the macabre and the weird seem to
> me to come out of deep, deep roots in the
> Norwegian countryside and folk world.


He is great. My guess is that he must have witnessed some gravely miserable situations in real life.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 02:36PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dale Nelson Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> >
> > ... isn't Kittelsen amazing? Whew.
> > Macabre, but not nauseating.
> >
> > His feeling for the macabre and the weird seem
> to
> > me to come out of deep, deep roots in the
> > Norwegian countryside and folk world.
>
>
> He is great. My guess is that he must have
> witnessed some gravely miserable situations in
> real life.

Hah! Yes!

Goya-like...

Good discussion; I am enjoying this a lot...

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 03:07PM
Quote:
Sawfish
I'm going to pass the link to my wife and daughter. My daughter, especially, really likes this sort of stuff.
Thanks, Hespire!

I thought you and your family might find it interesting. Have fun! Using the "random yokai" option, I discovered several things even I never knew, like a shadowy black monk that crawls into your home to steal your breath in your sleep, and a large crustacean with an ape's face that only leaves the ocean at night, and the various histories of foxes that disguise themselves as humans!

Quote:
charaina
Are there a lot of references to things like monsters, weird dreams, etc. and the like in Lovecraft’s letters with folks like CAS, Wandrei, etc.?

Plenty. That "behemothian Sending" I quoted is perhaps the most impressive, with its mention of Indonesian, Inuit, and English monsters. Lovecraft and his friends had a lot of enthusiasm for myths and folk beliefs, and often referenced them casually in their letters. I recall HPL and CAS mentioning Persian mythical traditions (such as Rustam, Simorgh, the Shahnameh, etc.) in relation to their orientalist friend Hoffmann Price. And in one letter exchange HPL and Robert Barlow discussed the linguistic and cultural history of Satyrs. Robert E. Howard shared quite a few things with HPL out of Voodoo folklore and Texan ghost stories, some of which would later be integrated into his horror and adventure stories. And of course HPL and CAS got a kick out of referencing their own alien mythologies.

Quote:
Dale Nelson
Would anyone (other than me) like to tell about how you became interested in folktales, what you've read and the books you've collected and so on?

An excellent place to start, Dale, and a fascinating history you've shared! Like you, my enthusiasm began in my early childhood. I was too different from the other kids to make friends with them easily, so books took up some of my time, especially my school's books on Greek myths, which excited me as a fan of Ray Harryhausen's films Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, but I also got to read the myths of Aztec, Inca, Hindu, and other traditions. My interest in these subjects never waned, though as I grew older and found history and anthropology more interesting, I started delving even deeper into the cultural development of myths, and found myself identifying with these lost times and distant countries more deeply. They gave me a feeling of belonging, mysticism, and nature's splendor in a highly urbanized area I didn't like.

Your passions and cultural preferences are fascinating, and it goes to show how unimaginably huge the world of folk beliefs really is. I like to learn all I can about different traditions (which admittedly does not make me an expert in any of them), but as I grow older I find myself becoming most interested in the traditions of northern cultures, such as the Inuit, Icelandic, and Finnish people (the Finns had their own myths! They did not worship Thor or Odin!). The quiet, snowy, wooded North suits my personality well. And I also find myself increasingly drawn to Japan, my mother's homeland. Japanese stories are so utterly strange, so unbelievably imaginative, compared to most traditions I've explored, but with a sense that all these surreal things are simply a normal part of life.

I'm a bit swamped at the moment, but I will give Kittelsen a try and comment on it later! I'm also interested in checking out the books and stories you listed.

Quote:
Dale Nelson
It's not to say that, if your passion is for CAS, these would be the folktales you would like more than any others. That's probably not true. The Norwegian tales are redolent of forest and mountain, of peasants and an appreciation of the mother wit that gets someone out of a scrape. My sense is that Smith's taste was more for the elegant, the bizarre, the perfumed, the bejewelled, and perhaps the folktales from Persia and the Arabian peninsula would supply them. I'm frankly not much acquainted with those, although I note that the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore library includes a volume. But I'm not sure that those are the qualities one would actually find in the authentic Arab folktales. Does someone know more about them?

CAS is one of my favorite authors ever, but I appreciate myths and folk beliefs from all around the world, especially the North, which is quite different from most of what CAS wrote! Even his stories of Hyperborea, which take place in prehistoric Greenland, have more in common with the Arabian Nights and Medieval European adventures than with the Eskimos or Vikings. As a bit of a writer myself, I wish to express some of the vivid weirdness CAS impressed in me while embracing a more earthy, folksy feel. I think this is more than possible, and I think Japanese traditions come relatively close to that feeling. Ancient and Medieval Japan had such bizarre monsters, weird supernatural ideas, an appreciation for beauty and ephemerality, and a good sense of humor, all qualities of CAS' best stories, but with the simpler perspective of farmers, fishers, etc.

Regarding Arab folklore, my early days as an HPL fan drove me to read as much of the Arabian Nights as I could, and I can confirm that CAS' fiction has a lot in common with it. In the 1001 Nights you'll find stories of foolish or adventurous royals, horrific deaths, ancient riches, ruined cities of mystic grandeur (including one in which the dead are posed as they were in life, a very Zothique-y idea, yes?), and the hidden worlds of entities far older than humanity. The influence is definitely there, and CAS even mentions things like afrits, jinns, and the Roc and Simorgh in some of his work. That's not to say they're exactly the same, of course, and I know very little of Arab traditions beyond the 1001 Nights and some Islamic beliefs.

Lafcadio Hearn was an author CAS admired greatly, and while I'm not sure how much CAS knew about Japan, he certainly knew some things, and I can see a subtle influence from Hearn's books in his writing.



Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 29 Aug 20 | 03:49PM by Hespire.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 09:57PM
I've mentioned Jacqueline Simpson as editor of a couple of folktale collections. A third worth your attention might be -- if you can find it -- Legends of Icelandic Magicians.

She was president of the Folklore Society. She has also, delightfully, contributed to a fanzine for M. R. James fans, and a number of stories by her are collected in a book:

[www.lulu.com]

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 30 August, 2020 03:44PM
We had a big tome when I was a kid - Fairy & Folk-tales of the Irish Peasantry - stories collected by the poet W.B. Yeats. Some were a lot better than others, but I guess what they lacked in variety they made up for in quantity. Aside from the little people - and you don't want to mess with THOSE guys - the devil regularly turned up (much as he does in other cultures) at card games etc, dressed all in black and sporting a limp. Even as a teenager I'd hear stories of how some girl had met a nice gentleman at dancehall the previous week-end, only to spot the cloven hoof beneath the table just in time (stories I suspect were promoted by some rival dancehall owner). One would think the Prince of Darkness had better things to do with his time.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 30 Aug 20 | 03:45PM by Cathbad.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 04:10PM
Here's a second Lafcadio Heern weird tale from Japan, "The Dream of Akinosuke."

[www.sacred-texts.com]

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 09:06PM
Thanks for all the pointers and links, Dale! I've taken a look at Kittelsen's work, and it truly expresses that cold, dark world of the far northern lands, with a heavy sense of melancholy which moves me. His pictures related to the plague are my favorites, with their eerie suggestions and that isolated dark figure wandering in those lonely places. They're truly disturbing, but dignified in their mournful atmosphere. I also have a fondness for his troll figures, those very nightmarish, very enthusiastic characters. It's a far cry from CAS indeed, but I think CAS had a kindred sense of melancholy and morbidity, even if his mind was wandering through different lands. I recall CAS had only written one or two poems related to Norse mythology, but made countless references to Greek and Arabian lore, so it's clear where his preferences lie.

I've read one of Simpson's books on the Viking World, which was one of my introductions to the culture. I never thought to read more of her work (simply because I've been eager to stretch myself thin with my readings!), but everything you share of her is fascinating. Icelandic folklore has caught my mind lately, with its vast landscapes and eerie elemental beings, and that tradition of invisible people who somehow evoke both endless mystery and a weird sense of coziness. I almost wish I could move there at once, and take in all those malformed troll stones. M. R. James is my favorite ghost story author, so on top of her Icelandic studies, I'll gladly read her fiction asap!!!

Related subject continuing from another thread:

Quote:
Sawfish
BTW, our daughter came home unexpectedly from her job in CA for my wife's birthday (yesterday! 64! and she looks about 45!); she (my daughter) is fortunate in that she can work remotely.
Anway, I talked about the link to Japanese monsters that you sent, and told her:

"Can you image these coming off the ferry in Miayazaki's "Spirited Away", coming to Ubaba's bath house to "replenish themselves"?

She laughed and laughed...

It always warms me to know when a family is actually functioning and getting along. Can't say the same for my upbringing!

Haha! A Miyazaki fan, I see! Spirited Away is easily one of my favorite animated films of all time, along with his Princess Mononoke. And Ponyo and Kiki's Delivery Service make excellent films for kids and adults alike! I agree, all creatures from that website are begging for a blink-and-you'll-miss appearance in the bath house's throng of monsters! Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are in there, since the film has a strong folkloric vibe, though in the form of an original story.

Earlier I mentioned how CAS' creatures would suit Japanese folkloric aesthetics well. CAS is naturally obscure everywhere you go, but his creatures do have a small Japanese following, likely in relation to the Cthulhu Mythos. I'll ask my friend who lives in Japan for those pictures I mentioned, portraying such CAS monsters as Tsathoggua and Rlim-Shaikorth terrorizing the native landscape. If CAS were more well-known, I can easily imagine his work having a big following there, especially for his bizarre creatures and some of his kindred aesthetics. Tsathoggua could have been a patron at Yubaba's bath house! Though perhaps he'd need to be carried by several of his shapeless black servants.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 31 Aug 20 | 09:18PM by Hespire.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 09:28PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Even as a teenager I'd hear stories of how
> some girl had met a nice gentleman at dancehall
> the previous week-end, only to spot the cloven
> hoof beneath the table just in time (stories I
> suspect were promoted by some rival dancehall
> owner). One would think the Prince of Darkness had
> better things to do with his time.


No kidding! You mean there are people who still imagine the classic Devil with horns and hooves causing mischief in the land? I always thought that idea disappeared since the middle ages, but it goes to show how little I know, ha.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 31 Aug 20 | 09:29PM by Hespire.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2020 01:38AM
Hespire, among the grimmest pages I’ve ever read are those on the Skafta Fires in Iceland in Dominic Cooper’s little-known novel Men at Axlir. Powerful writing, that.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2020 09:39AM
Going to divert a bit, on the subject of Miyazaki, below:

Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for all the pointers and links, Dale! I've
> taken a look at Kittelsen's work, and it truly
> expresses that cold, dark world of the far
> northern lands, with a heavy sense of melancholy
> which moves me. His pictures related to the plague
> are my favorites, with their eerie suggestions and
> that isolated dark figure wandering in those
> lonely places. They're truly disturbing, but
> dignified in their mournful atmosphere. I also
> have a fondness for his troll figures, those very
> nightmarish, very enthusiastic characters. It's a
> far cry from CAS indeed, but I think CAS had a
> kindred sense of melancholy and morbidity, even if
> his mind was wandering through different lands. I
> recall CAS had only written one or two poems
> related to Norse mythology, but made countless
> references to Greek and Arabian lore, so it's
> clear where his preferences lie.
>
> I've read one of Simpson's books on the Viking
> World, which was one of my introductions to the
> culture. I never thought to read more of her work
> (simply because I've been eager to stretch myself
> thin with my readings!), but everything you share
> of her is fascinating. Icelandic folklore has
> caught my mind lately, with its vast landscapes
> and eerie elemental beings, and that tradition of
> invisible people who somehow evoke both endless
> mystery and a weird sense of coziness. I almost
> wish I could move there at once, and take in all
> those malformed troll stones. M. R. James is my
> favorite ghost story author, so on top of her
> Icelandic studies, I'll gladly read her fiction
> asap!!!
>
> Related subject continuing from another thread:
>
> BTW, our daughter came home unexpectedly from her
> job in CA for my wife's birthday (yesterday! 64!
> and she looks about 45!); she (my daughter) is
> fortunate in that she can work remotely.
>
> Anway, I talked about the link to Japanese
> monsters that you sent, and told her:
>
> "Can you image these coming off the ferry in
> Miayazaki's "Spirited Away", coming to Ubaba's
> bath house to "replenish themselves"?
>
> She laughed and laughed...
>
> It always warms me to know when a family is
> actually functioning and getting along. Can't say
> the same for my upbringing!
>
> Haha! A Miyazaki fan, I see! Spirited Away is
> easily one of my favorite animated films of all
> time, along with his Princess Mononoke.

A really good comparison is that my wife's "type" of Japanese personality is very much like the peasant girls who work for Lady Eboshi.

Very earthy, ribald sense of humor...

> And Ponyo
> and Kiki's Delivery Service

I'm not kidding when I say that Kiki made the example of self-motivation and industry a VERY positive role model that my daughter was impressed with from the very first times she saw it.

> make excellent films
> for kids and adults alike! I agree, all creatures
> from that website are begging for a
> blink-and-you'll-miss appearance in the bath
> house's throng of monsters! Actually, I wouldn't
> be surprised if some of them are in there, since
> the film has a strong folkloric vibe, though in
> the form of an original story.

A great, great film which I asked for, for a birthday prenet years ago.

>
> Earlier I mentioned how CAS' creatures would suit
> Japanese folkloric aesthetics well. CAS is
> naturally obscure everywhere you go, but his
> creatures do have a small Japanese following,
> likely in relation to the Cthulhu Mythos. I'll ask
> my friend who lives in Japan for those pictures I
> mentioned, portraying such CAS monsters as
> Tsathoggua and Rlim-Shaikorth terrorizing the
> native landscape. If CAS were more well-known, I
> can easily imagine his work having a big following
> there, especially for his bizarre creatures and
> some of his kindred aesthetics. Tsathoggua could
> have been a patron at Yubaba's bath house! Though
> perhaps he'd need to be carried by several of his
> shapeless black servants.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 2 September, 2020 02:27PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hespire, among the grimmest pages I’ve ever read
> are those on the Skafta Fires in Iceland in
> Dominic Cooper’s little-known novel Men at
> Axlir. Powerful writing, that.


I've read about the Skafta Fires a few weeks ago, and it was one of the most depressing historical things I've read, downright apocalyptic, and I can hardly imagine what the social and emotional atmosphere of the country was like at the time. My interest in mythology and folk culture also made me interested in the real people that made them, so I would love to read this historical novel. A drama during that bleak and dismal period sounds gripping and unimaginably intense. I see some cheap copies online, so I'm gonna snatch one up immediately, along with Simpson's Icelandic studies. No doubt I'll get a real kick out of reading this in dark winter!

Do you know any good books that deal with Iceland's Huldufólk?

Quote:
Sawfish
Going to divert a bit, on the subject of Miyazaki, below:

No worries, I'd say Miyazaki is relevant to this thread in that his films tend to approach fantasy in a very folkish way, and it probably helps that he's an old man who didn't have much interest in popular fantasy trends. Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away especially have a lot to do with Japanese folk traditions, but the influence pervades throughout all his films. Japanese animism sees life in all things around you, and this is perfectly illustrated in his scenes portraying weird creatures or living phenomena rising from the environment. Hearn's books and Miyazaki's films would make good introductions for the average westerner.

Ha, Eboshi's women were such amazing stand-out characters. They play an ever-pervasive role in the background of the story, as the ones who keep the morally ambiguous town alive, despite having a minor role in prince Ashitaka's journey. And their irreverent spunk makes them endlessly memorable! Unlike most of the men in that film, I'd say you're lucky to be married to someone like that! No doubt you'd have an admirably independent daughter!

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 September, 2020 10:21PM
Hespire, Simpson’s book will be a good place to start, I’m sure. She has a bibliography too.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 10:24AM
De Quincey said that a man whose daily thoughts are of cattle will cream of cattle. I dreamed I was in a bookstore trying to decide whether to buy for $8 a used copy of a volume -- I think in the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library -- of tales from what was once called the Near East (that is, Palestine, Arabia, Persia, Afghanistan, India -- right?) as opposed to the Far East (China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, Japan....). I hadn't been reading such tales before lights out...

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 11:34AM
Hah! Good one, Dale!

BTW, have others here on ED found that small e-readers are the best thing since bottled beer? ;^)

To me, there's no substitute for a high-quality, hardbound volume, but the cost is more than I'm willing to routinely bear (although I'm not averse to asking for these kinds of books for Xmas presents), but for the *constant* reader of popular fiction, and also some public domain stuff, e-readers are really, really handy!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 12:08PM
Jacqueline Simpson wrote about the "Rules of Folklore" in M. R. James's tales --

[www.tandfonline.com]

Worth reading if you can get hold of a copy. I wish it had been included in her Where Are the Bones? collection.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 12:26PM
Ereaders are kind of pricey. There are two big advantages; you can get the book pretty much right away at the click of a button (and a lot of stuff that was out of print is now available online) and they're often easier to read (because you can adjust text size, they're back-lit etc, etc). I do have a soft spot for books though, and would hate to see them entirely supplanted by ebooks. To use a corollory; I rarely carry cash anymore. Very few people I know do. But I'd be sorry to see coins, notes etc, vanish.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 01:08PM
As to price, I bought a Barnes & Noble Nook for $20, used, on Mercari. I'd recommend a Kindle, though, simply for ease of use. There are a lot of these on the used market, and maybe $50 would get you a decent one. The screen on my daughter's broke when I borrowed it, she got a new one, and I repaired her old one for $25 and also have that one, now.

You can get them cheaply.

Also, I do, indeed, use the public library a lot, and during the lockdown it was sure nice to just get books with no need to deal with crowds, etc.

But I was going to the gym, etc., before lockdowns, and it was very easy just to carry the ereader and place it on a stationary bike! If I had to take the car in for an oil change, while waiting it was nice to have the pocket-sized ereader.

But yep, I still like hardbacks best of all.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 02:00PM
Can you stick a USB memory in an e-reader? And can it read PDF files?

Or how do you fill it with books? Can you connect it with your computer and fill it from there? Or can it only be filled commercially from Amazon and similar places?

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 03:04PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Can you stick a USB memory in an e-reader? And can
> it read PDF files?

Depends on the ereader.

Most ereaders are not RAM expandable, but also bear in mind that in native Kindle format (.mobi is the generic, source agnostic format you might get from Project Gutenberg, e.g.). 1GB = 1000 printed volumes, generally speaking. Epub format is more compact, bit-wise, and so you can probably double that for .epub format books.

So think of it: a 16GB Kindle can have ~16,000 volumes.

Some can read PDF, but my guess is that for PDF you no longer can change font types/families and font size, margins, line spacing, etc. These adjustments are available from Kindle and EPub formats. It is very nice to do this, for me. My eyes get tired or maybe "bored" and just flipping from serif to sans serif helps, some. At night, I increase font size, sometimes.

There are also tablets--lots and lots of them--that might appeal, but I did not mention them because the portability of a Nook or Kindle Paperwhite, e.g., is one of the biggest advantages. These would certainly do .mobi, .epub, (both by apps) and .pdf formats.

>
> Or how do you fill it with books? Can you connect
> it with your computer and fill it from there?

Yes, that's one way, and I do it that way, mostly.

Or
> can it only be filled commercially from Amazon and
> similar places?

That is the *simplest* way and I'm confident that original marketing indicated that most e-reader owners wants as simple wifi transfer that is as user-transparent as possible. This means in effect *buying* from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and a very few other vendors, but (BIG BUT)...

I have bought *only* one book in all the years I've owned a reader. I either check them out of the library, or get them online from places like Project Gutenberg. Thse I download from libraries or PG, and if you have an Amazon Prime account, the Kindle (.mobi) format books you check out from a library will be sent via wifi to your Kindle.

So it fills a niche, is NOT a replacement for regular book acquisitions. Quick and easy, that's basically what they're for. Library books and free books.

But I have one hell of a lot of free Machen, for example. All of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Dreiser, Stephen Crane, etc., and right now, I'm reading Caesar's commentaries on the Gallic War--all from Gutenberg.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 03:17PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Depends .......

Thanks a lot. I may get one. I just don't know which. I suppose there is an abundance of different models, and I just don't have the energy to do the research. Do you have one of those with non-glossy screen that perfectly imitates real paper print? That seems nice.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 03:54PM
My first e-reader was like that, Knygatin - ie, it wasn't backlit, so it was pretty much identical to paper. I really liked it, but Kindle don't do them anymore (and I can't remember what they were called). You could probably buy one second hand.

Kindle has its own discretionary software - ie, any document has to be in a mobi format, whereas most other ereaders are epub. You can get free apps (e.g. calibre) that you can download onto your computer and which let you convert a html document into either format. And yeah, you can drag a pdf file onto your kindle (or whatever) and open it, but keep in mind that as it's not a html document, the text will be absolutely tiny.

Like Sawfish says, I'm not sure it affected my buying habits much. Most of the stuff I read on my kindle I get for free. It does mean I read a good deal more than I used to, though.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 04:18PM
Yes, exactly.

I read more now; it's just easier in many, many ways to take *multiple* books with me in a very small and compact package.

Not a replacement strategy, but an *addition to* what you've been doing all your life.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 September, 2020 03:11AM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My first e-reader was like that, ...

Thanks, Cathbad. So far I read stories and books on my computer screen, and I like it quite a lot. But it only works for Word documents and PDFs (I like the direct representation of old books and magazines like Weird Tales.)

Next time I'll post similar comments in more appropriate thread.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 12:31PM
Those who'd like to sample folktales from Iceland without going to any expense may check this source:

[books.google.com]

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 12:40PM
Alan Garner: "I am fascinated by Japanese legends. They have the real touch of fear in them. ...a very good sense of the macabre ... An example of that is Hoichi the Earless[i]."


[www.gutenberg.org]

The Garner excerpt is from an interview with Justin Wintle published in [i]The Pied Pipers
.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 6 Sep 20 | 12:43PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 01:02PM
Sorry that I failed to replay earlier, Knygatin. To my idiosyncratic ideas of politeness, that's rude, and I don't want to be rude.

If you want used non-backlit, in Kindle format, this is a decent choice:

[www.mercari.com]

[www.mercari.com]

[www.mercari.com]

Having also used a Kindle Paperwhite (backlit, touch screen), they are nice, as well, and can be had used for about $60-$90.

If you want the .epub format (a good option but somewhat more work to use when checking books out of the library--although Cathbad knows lots more than I do about e-readers, and there may be easier ways), a non-backlit basic Nook (these are all touch screen) might be:

[www.mercari.com]

All of these have non-glare screens that appear to be something like matte glass. So far as I know, all Nooks and Kindles do.

There are nuances to e-readers, and if you ever decide to get one, I'd be happy to throw in my 2 cents, and I'll bet we could get Cathbad to add to it.

For example, Amazon made an e-reader that was the top-of-the-line for a while, but discontinued it in favor of a less costly-to-manufacture model. This was the Kindle Voyage. They were made of metal, flush glass screens, very high resolution (as compaed to the base models--which to my eye are certainly good enough), backlit.

Too, there is a Canadian company, I believe, that makes the Kobo reader, which is supposed to be good, but I've never handled them.

I'll finish with this personal observation/revelation...

As little as three years ago a friend asked me if I had ever used one. I smugly indicated that I had used one, once, but in no way did I see them as comparable to a good hardcopy.

...and this is *still* true, but two things make e-readers worth having: you can get many free books online, just spontaneously, and I'm a real tightwad--as I small kid, I thought Scrooge McDuck was cool, far cooler than Superman, Sgt. Rock, etc...

The other think is that during COVID I can get books from the library systems here in Portland without ever contacting anyone, nor touching any transmittable surface.

So they are just a nice alternative to add to the way I normally enjoy books.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 6 Sep 20 | 01:04PM by Sawfish.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 02:01PM
I doubt if I could add anything, Sawfish. Except to say I actually got used to the back-lit kindle pretty quickly!

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 02:10PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Those who'd like to sample folktales from Iceland
> without going to any expense may check this
> source:
>
> [books.google.com]
> PA3#v=onepage&q&f=false


Thanks for the link. I'll gladly look at it later today. I've read several Icelandic folk tales, and learned about Icelandic folk beliefs, thanks to various websites such as archive.org, a treasure trove of folkloristic studies. It's how I also learned about the folk cultures of the Inuit, Finnish, and Norse peoples. It's fascinating how different their worldviews are, though they all live in the freezing north! The Icelandic people, who if I remember correctly brought their religion of Thor, Odin, etc., changed a heck of a lot from their mainland ancestors.

The Japanese story of Hoichi is one of my favorites, and can always make me cringe with pain! I also have a fondness for the story of the Samebito, that good-natured shark man and his magical tears.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 03:13PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I doubt if I could add anything, Sawfish. Except
> to say I actually got used to the back-lit kindle
> pretty quickly!


BTW, I downloaded calibre ad have been looking it over. This is EXCELLENT!

Thanks a million, Cathbad!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 03:53PM
In Icelandic Folktales and Legends edited by Jacqueline Simpson you can find "The Changeling Who Stretched" (I have looked, and the tale is cited from this edition here and there, but doesn't seem to be printed in full online). While I would wonder where he could have seen it, Arthur Machen might seem to have drawn on it for "The Black Seal" and the weird stretching done by Jervase Cradock. The story does mention changelings.

Machen did read some folklore at least late in life. For example:

I have been looking into a very odd book, and I am going to tell the story of the Asiki, or Little Beings, first observing that the singular is Isiki. Well, it is said that the Asiki were once ordinary, human children, but were caught, when young and defenceless, by wizards or witches, and were dragged into the black depths of the forest, where there was no help for them, where no one could hear their cries. The wizards cut off their tongues as a first measure; and so they never speak again, and cannot inform against the magicians. They are then carried away, and hidden in a secret place, where they are subjected to magical processes which change their whole nature, so that they are no longer mortal. They forget their homes, their fathers and mothers and all their kinsfolk. Even the hair of their heads changes. Instead of being crisp wool, it becomes long and straight and hangs down their backs. At the back of their heads they wear a curious comb-shaped ornament, made of some twisted fibre. This they value almost as part of their life, just as in another quarter of the world there are people who drive motorcars and cherish little images and idols and grotesque figures, which are believed to constitute a most powerful protection. These Asiki will sometimes be seen walking on dark nights, and are occasionally met on their walks. It is believed that if a person is either naturally fearless, or made fearless by charms and spells, and dares to seize an Isiki and snatch away the comb, the possession of this mascot will bring him great wealth. But he will not be allowed to remain in peaceful possession of it. The Isiki, in a state of misery and desolation, will be seen wandering about the place where the magic comb was taken from it, endeavouring to get it back. And as late as the year 1901 strange things were told of these Little People in Libreville, French Congo. A certain Frenchman, known to be a Freemason, returning from his restaurant dinner to his house one evening noticed a small figure keeping pace with him on the other side of the road. He called out, ‘Who are you?’ There was no reply; the figure kept on walking, advancing and retreating before him.

A few nights later, a negro clerk in some trading house met the Isiki near the place where the Frenchman had encountered it. And the Little Being began to chase the negro. He ran for his life, and told his master, the trader, what had happened. He got laughed at for his pains, and the next night the trader told the tale to a select company of white men and black women, the Freemason being present. And he said, ‘Your clerk did not lie; he told the truth. I have myself met that Little Being, but I did not try to catch it.’ Then the black women spoke of the odd comb-ornament, and of how the Asiki treasured it, and of the good fortune it would bring to anybody who could capture it. Whereupon the Frenchman – otherwise the Freemason – said, ‘As the Little Being is so small, the very next time I see it I will try to catch it and bring it here, so that you can see it and know that this story is actually true.’

Soon after, the Frenchman and the trader went out at night and tried to find the Isiki. No Little Being was to be found, but a few nights later the Frenchman met it near the place where it had been seen before. He ran forward and tried to catch it, but the Isiki eluded him. However, he succeeded in snatching the comb, and ran with it towards his house. The Little Being was displeased and ran after him to recover the charm. Having no tongue, it could not speak, but holding out one hand pleadingly and with the other motioning to the back of its head, it made pathetic sounds in its throat, thus pleading that its treasure should be given back to it. It followed the Frenchman till the lights of his house began to shine, and then it disappeared. The Frenchman showed the comb to his friends, both black and white, and all agreed that they had never seen anything like it before. From that night the Isiki was often seen by negroes, who were afraid to pass that way in the dark. It followed the Frenchman persistently, pleading with its hands in dumb show, and making a grunting noise in its throat. The Frenchman got tired of all this, and made up his mind that he would give the comb back. And so next night he took it with him; and also a pair of scissors. The Little Being appeared and followed him. He held out his hand, with the comb in it. The Isiki leapt forward and snatched at the talisman and secured it, and the Frenchman tried to catch the Isiki. The Little Being was too agile, however, and escaped; but the Frenchman snipped off a lock of the long straight hair with his scissors, and brought it home and showed it to his friends.

Such is the story told by Dr. Robert H. Nassau, an American missionary, who had worked for forty years in Africa. He seems to fear that his tale will be regarded as incredible. It seems to me, on the contrary, highly, probable. Naturally, one dismisses that part of it which relates to the process by which these Little Beings are made, and that part of it which ascribes to them immortality. The Little People were not made out of little woolly piccaninnies by the magic arts of the wizards; and probably, if one could be caught and examined, it would be found that it had a tongue in its mouth, like any other human being. The fact is that here, in all likelihood, we have a pretty exact parallel to the Little People of our own folk-lore: the Daione Sidhe of Ireland, the Tylwyth Teg of Wales. The substratum in both cases is the same: an aboriginal people of small stature overcome and sent into the dark by invaders. In Britain and Ireland the dark meant subterranean dwellings made under the hills in the wildest and most remote parts of the country; they will point you out the place of these dwellings in Antrim to this day, and tell you that they are Fairy Raths. And in nine cases out of ten you may accept the statement with entire confidence; so long as you define ‘fairies’ or ‘the People’ as small, dark aborigines who hid from the invading Celt somewhere about 1500–1000 B.C. And in Africa the dark meant the blackness of the forest; places hidden in the thickest tangle of trees and undergrowth, protected, perhaps, from all outsiders, black or white, by a maze of narrow paths winding in and out of a foul swamp. And as to the legend of the torn-out tongues, of the guttural noises made by the Asiki; is it not the case that the Little People of the genuine Celtic tradition are also silent? I will not be sure; but I incline to think that this is so. They beckon, they gesticulate, they are seen by Irish countrymen playing at hurly: but they say nothing – the reason being that they do not speak the language of their conquerors. I have seen a monoglot Englishman in Touraine behaving much as the Isiki behaved to the Frenchman at Libreville, even to the making of unearthly sounds and the indulging in antic gestures. But he only wanted milk with his tea. And there is this further parallel between the Little Beings of Africa and the Little People of Ireland. Both are on a curious borderland between the natural and the supernatural. Both are able to ‘propagate procerity’ – I use an elegant phrase of Dr. Johnson’s. This is formally asserted of the Asiki; and in Celtdom we have the legends of the changeling, the little, dark creature found in the cradle of the big, red-haired Celtic baby. And both are material and capable of dealing with material things and of making use of them. Miss Somerville has strange tales of them which are of our own day. Miss Somerville herself had seen the shoe that was found on the lonely hill. It was of the size that a child of about a year old might use, but it was heavily made, in the fashion of a workman’s brogue, and had seen hard wear. And, again, she tells the story of two servants sent on a sudden errand at night. They were driving a car, and at the entrance of a certain town, the harness broke. And there they found a little saddler’s shop, open in the dead of night, and two little men within – described with a shudder as ‘quare’ – to whom the servants told their trouble. They were terrified almost out of their senses; they would not stay in the shop: but the work was done, and done well.

We have here a state of mind which is very hard to understand. What can an Immortal want with a workman’s leather shoe? And how should Beings of another order from that of man, Beings to be beheld with awe and dread of the spirit, undertake saddlery repairs on demand? One would say that the belief that such things are so is impossible; but yet it exists in Ireland, probably to this day; and it is much like the negro belief as to the Asiki.

It is interesting to note, by the way, that Fairyland in Ireland seems strongly associated with leather. There is the matter of the fairy brogue, there is the adventure of the fairy saddlers; and then there is the Leprechaun, who is a fairy cobbler. He is, clearly, a distant cousin of the Asiki. And if, in spite of all his efforts to distract you, you continue to regard him with a fixed gaze, your reward will be a crock of gold.

Arthur Machen, ‘The Little People’ Dreads and Drolls (London 1926)

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 05:00PM
In Irish mythology, the fairies - the sidhe - are actually the same size as us, and only retreated underground after being defeated by the Milesians (I think). The idea of them being tiny seems to have been an 18th century notion, maybe English in origin - much like the leprechaun, who doesn't feature in Irish mythology at all as nobody (fairy or human alike) wore shoes in Ireland until relatively late in our history.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2020 11:47PM
I've always known that Machen had more than a little interest in folklore. His stories, especially "The White People", "The Great Return", and "The Hill of Dreams", make numerous references to his native folk history and alchemical occultism. I've never read this piece before, but it's fascinating how so many cultures can have somewhat similar accounts of hidden beings causing mischief. It seems the idea of the "little people" as a hidden aboriginal group used to be popular in his time, but seems to have dwindled from popular imagination today.

My knowledge of Irish mythology and folk culture is faint, but that story sounds like something Machen would have considered significant to his beliefs regarding the little people.

Dale, with your specialty in European lore, do you know if Machen's esoteric references in "The White People" were based on any real practices or folk beliefs? You know, the Chian language, the Mao games, the Dols, the Jeelo, the Alala, etc. I couldn't find anything about the Aklo letters so I assume those aren't real, but anything on the terms I listed?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 6 Sep 20 | 11:49PM by Hespire.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 06:15AM
I don't know so much about this, but I'd like to mention that Robert E. Howard also wrote a bit about the little people in connection to his favorite race, the Picts (foremost in the Bran Mak Morn tales). The little people in documented Western culture seem to belong most appropriately in the era from early Roman times, through the Dark Ages, up until the Renaissance when the Christian church finally had total dominance over Europe and the pagan remains had to go into hiding. But in Asian culture little people may have flourished longer.

Recent excavations on the Indonesian island Flores have actually unearthed skeletons of an upright standing midget humanoid race that were about 90 cm tall. Not deformed and squat, like the ones you see in Hollywood films, but having gracile anatomy; miniatures of men.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 08:34AM
Hespire, so far as I know all those items in Machen’s “White People “ that you mention were Machen’s inventions.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 10:34AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've always known that Machen had more than a
> little interest in folklore. His stories,
> especially "The White People", "The Great Return",
> and "The Hill of Dreams", make numerous references
> to his native folk history and alchemical
> occultism. I've never read this piece before, but
> it's fascinating how so many cultures can have
> somewhat similar accounts of hidden beings causing
> mischief. It seems the idea of the "little people"
> as a hidden aboriginal group used to be popular in
> his time, but seems to have dwindled from popular
> imagination today.
>
> My knowledge of Irish mythology and folk culture
> is faint, but that story sounds like something
> Machen would have considered significant to his
> beliefs regarding the little people.
>
> Dale, with your specialty in European lore, do you
> know if Machen's esoteric references in "The White
> People" were based on any real practices or folk
> beliefs? You know, the Chian language, the Mao
> games, the Dols, the Jeelo, the Alala, etc. I
> couldn't find anything about the Aklo letters so I
> assume those aren't real, but anything on the
> terms I listed?


In Hawaiian lore, there's the idea of the minehune (I hope I spelled that correctly), a race of small people who inhabited the islands before the Polynesians arrived around 1500 AD or so. They are associated with furtiveness, etc.

Being irreverent, and yet also seriously speculative, I first played around with the idea that yep, there were earlier inhabitants, and as compared to the Polynesians, who are genetically very large folk, especially the Tahitian subset that colonized Hawaii, and Hawaiian being an imprecise language, over time any group who was noticeably *smaller*, in any sense, might eventually become thought of as elf-like in size. Especially if they were seldom, or never, seen.

Now, all this worldwide talk of there being actual minehune, fairies, little folk, etc., could be put to rest by finding human remains or material artifacts from these folk. There are plausible reasons why we might not, but really, we would expect to find some indications, somewhere, from the locales with the widespread tales of "little people", of their previous existence. But we don't actually see this in the context that indicates direct cohabitation/competition with the large modern humans. This is to say that as far as I know, we can see evidence of Denisovans that overlap in the dimension of time with modern humans, but not in specific locale. This differs from the Neanderthal/modern human overlap in Europe. Trolls and ogres, anyone?

So...

But I had my own theory...

The Hawaiians must have been very hungry after their long voyage. We see no evidence of any minehunes, but we *do* see lots of evidence of large, well-fed Polynesians...

;^)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 01:52PM
Quote:
Knygatin
I don't know so much about this, but I'd like to mention that Robert E. Howard also wrote a bit about the little people in connection to his favorite race, the Picts

Indeed, he'd written several different stories about them, chief of which are "The Children of the Night" and "The Black Stone." It seems he was even more directly influenced by Machen's little people than Lovecraft was. HPL's "little people" were a super-advanced civilization of crustaceans!

Quote:
Knygatin
Recent excavations on the Indonesian island Flores have actually unearthed skeletons of an upright standing midget humanoid race that were about 90 cm tall. Not deformed and squat, like the ones you see in Hollywood films, but having gracile anatomy; miniatures of men.

I never heard of this before! I'm looking up these people and I can't believe what I'm reading! If ever there were elves in human history, this is the closest thing imaginable. It's such a shame they went extinct, but then again it's a shame when anything goes extinct, including the giant storks and miniature elephants they lived among. Speaking of which, I've just read that this race of literal little people might have been menaced by those colossal storks, scary to imagine...

Quote:
Sawfish
In Hawaiian lore, there's the idea of the minehune (I hope I spelled that correctly), a race of small people who inhabited the islands before the Polynesians arrived around 1500 AD or so. They are associated with furtiveness, etc.

Thanks for the fascinating story and insight, especially regarding that Polynesians' perspective. I had a feeling you'd contribute something related to Hawaiian lore! It seems no matter what continent or island you go to, there's going to be some stories about hidden people or diminutive people blessing and cursing human existence. It's interesting to wonder where all these similar ideas come from, whether it's psychological or historical.

Quote:
Sawfish
The Hawaiians must have been very hungry after their long voyage. We see no evidence of any minehunes, but we *do* see lots of evidence of large, well-fed Polynesians...

In an age when voyagers had no clue where their next food source will be, it isn't too far-fetched an idea. ;)

By the way, that mention I made of HPL's "little people" reminded me that the Mi-Go, or Himalayan Snow-Men, were not merely legendary ape-like animals, but actual fabulous legends, somewhat akin to elves or trolls. They had magical powers, good and bad relationships with humanity (mischievous tricksters, good-natured gift bringers, or man-eating devils), and even religious significance.

And just describing this is making me realize how strange it is that HPL decided the hairy bestial Snow-Men were in fact bat-winged crustaceans!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 20 | 01:53PM by Hespire.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 02:53PM
A. Merritt quite wonderfully described the little people in his novel Dwellers in the Mirage. They ran about like "little deer".

When animals are lesser in size, the proportion of their mass weight to body size is also reduced, compared to bigger species. Which makes their movements lighter, more sprightly.

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 02:56PM
"The Hobbit of Indonesia":

[en.wikipedia.org]

Sawfish
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"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Folklore
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2020 06:28PM
Here's a fanzine with a real Machen folkloric-type rarity in it:

[www.fanac.org]

The "Little People" of the mount and the threatening club seen out of the corner of one's eye suggest something malevolent behind the cute modern picture of the leprechaun leaning on his shillelagh as a supposed walking stick.



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