The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies (Illustrated)

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Also, I do not find the use of an e-reader antithetical to this aesthetic consideration, but intrinsic — for it captures the tension I revel in, between the ancient and the modern. To read the voice sometimes actual, sometimes fictionalised of a 17 th Century Scottish minister in such a state-of-the-art form makes it more poignant — the ghost in the machine.

Of course, I have tried to evoke it — and having transcribed his monograph, and poured through his notebooks, I am deeply familiar with it — but have tempered its more obscure eccentricities erratic spelling; idiosyncratic rendering of Gaelic; obscure references in favour of clarity. An Urisk.

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I must confess a fondness for fauns. Folklorists were careful to differentiate these from the more domestic Brownie. One cannot imagine an Urisk performing any household chores — they are as to Brownies as the Lynx is the domesticated cat. Yet apart from this one mad Highland fling, when presumably vigorous moonlit capering and rutting takes place the crack of horns, tang of musk, and primal howls thick in the air , they are solitary by nature, and perhaps even a mickle melancholic. It is tempting to draw comparisons with the wild men of myth and legend who, driven mad by massacres, war and other madnesses of humankind, retreat to the wild.

There he conversed with a pig, as recorded in gnomic verse a resonant choice, as swine were thought to be creatures from the Underworld, being a gift from Arawn, Lord of Annwn, according to Y Mabinogi. When Llew Llaw Gyffes was turned into an eagle by the betrayal of Blodeuwedd it took his wily uncle Gwydion to track him down again, a swine guides — this time to foot of an oak tree where putrefying flesh reveals the location of the bedraggled eagle-man and to sing his soul back home, via bardic utterances.

Here he receives the milk of human kindness and the Word of the Lord, having paid for his crimes with his dilated suffering. Interestingly, Robert Macfarlane describes a real life example in The Wild Places — the Leopard Man of Lewis, who roams the heath and peat naked, except for a body covered in the tattooed markings of his totem. His identity remains a mystery but there is some speculation that he is an ex-soldier acting out his PTSD.

Their wild eyes and foliating mouths and nostrils convey a feeling of being overwhelmed — the irruption of chthonic longings, the inside turned out. What am I? Who am I to split The glassy grain of water looking upward I see the bed Of the river above me upside down very clear What am I doing here in mid-air? There is little scarier than the nameless unknown, the disinterested void that shakes our anthropocentric solipsism. We want to turn it into something cosy — a bescarfed and pleasant Mr Tumnus in Narnia; or hauntingly beautiful, such as the Piper at the Gates of Dawn in The Wind in the Willows.

I speak from experience, having had an Urisk jump into my latest novel, The Knowing. He certainly livened things up! He is said to have stepped into a fairy-ring and disappeared.

Folklore has coalesced around his parish ever since. Offerings on the grave of Robert Kirk, Aberfoyle K. Manwaring, I sit in the near-dark of my chamber, gazing at the black mirrors which surrounded my bureau. I might as well be a necromancer, for do I not dabble with fallen angels, with invisible spirits and occult powers?

Within my own parish I would have been burnt as a witch, were such a thing still common. The terrible executions stopped half a century ago, but the crime of witchcraft is still a capital offense. I doubt most would look mercifully upon my research into the secret commonwealth. All my efforts have been to this one aim in this, in a secular and corrupt age.

My time being in this world but short, I took most pains in those languages and parts of learning which were deemed useful for that place of the world which God designed for me and man called me to, as my post. I applied myself to my studies as a young man in Edinburgh and St.

And it was the printing of the latter which took me to London — three thousand were to be printed and distributed amongst the parishes of the Tramontaines: surely a Godly endeavour in that English Sodom? And while I oversaw this great labour, marvelling at the infernal engines of the rolling presses, the workers black as devils in the colours of their trade, that I steeped myself in the spirit of the age, the Glorious Revolution.

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I attended churches of every hue and persuasion — Anglican to Roman Catholic to Quaker. In my pocket-book I recorded sermons and observations, my mind awhirl at the diverse exegeses. The capital is a veritable Babel of voices, of opinions, and arguments. With every day a deep longing for the uncorrupted hills of my parish, for the untainted mountains and minds of the Highlands, ached in my breast. There the journal entry becomes almost indecipherable, but further study may enable me to decode more of this remarkable account. What we are to make of it I shall leave you, dear reader, to deliberate….


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Watch this space…. Practice-based r esearch in the creation of a novel. View across Gairloch Bay, Wester Ross. Manwaring In the creation of my contemporary fantasy novel, The Knowing, the main focus of my Creative Writing PhD at the University of Leicester, I have undertaken extensive experiential research as part of the practice-based research of writing the novel itself. It has to be emphasised that the writing of the novel is the research, for it is as much a scrutinization of the creative process as a dramatisation of that process through the characters, setting and plot.

I have long been interested in the folklore, tales and songs of the Scottish Borders, but things crystallized the day that Janey McEttrick, my main protagonist, walked into my head with her mane of red hair, steel-string guitar and second sight. And, besides, I fancied spending time in her company, having been hanging out with an Edwardian aviator and the lost of history for over a decade in the writing of my 5-volume series, The Windsmith Elegy. I felt the need for a change of register, to write something set mostly in the present day, and from a different perspective — looking back at the Old World from the perspective of the New.

They brought their songs and tales and folklore with them, in many instances preserving and customizing in fascinating ways.


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  7. Perhaps this picture is inspired by the story of the Christian Minister who found himself trapped in Fairyland! The picture communicates many important ideas about piskies. They are small, associated with death, have a playful nature and their own morality. Why do people in Cornwall think of them like this? This pisky above created by Alan Manktelow has a very mischievous demeanour!

    From Broceliande Enchanted Forest to the Fairies of Doon Hill with Reverend Kirk

    People who provided food and warmth to piskies could be rewarded with good fortune or even help with their chores but only if they respected the privacy of the pisky! Tales tell of piskies who took vengeance on the rich when they exploited the poor. Other pisky tricks included making noises and hiding household objects. A lot of protection magic related to this fear. This pisky is displayed with a bit of protective iron next to him just in case! The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic MWM explores British magical practice, making comparisons with other systems of belief, from ancient times to the present day.

    They aim to represent the diversity and vigour of magical practice respectfully, accurately and impartially through unique, entertaining and educational exhibitions, drawing upon cutting-edge scholarship along with the insights of magical practitioners. Entry to Between Worlds: Folklore and Fairytales from Northern Britain is free; opening hours are 10am — 5pm 7 days a week until February 25 Please visit the Palace Green Library website for further information about your visit.

    Each story featured in the Between Worlds exhibition tells of an encounter between a human and a fairy. The outcomes of these strange, supernatural interactions are mixed; a meeting with a fairy could bring great riches, be they material or creative, but it could also begin a journey towards misfortune or even death. In this post, author Kevan Manwaring examines the double-edged sword of these encounters, and speculates on how the fairy-folk are still influencing authors and artists today. Encounters with Fairy, in whatever form they take, can bear fruit, albeit of the strange, chancy kind.

    Even walking into an exhibition can be hazardous. It has long been thought those who chance upon the Fey, whether through a tangle of trees or via one of their fatesome songs or melodies, is doomed to be not long for this world.

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    Yet the delights of Fairy are many and if you do succumb, you are in good company. Both the characters and collectors of folk tales, folk lore and songs and customs are prone to catastrophic moments of weakness. Even men of the cloth are not immune. The essential pattern is this: a wanderer chances upon a strangely-shaped hill from which beautiful music and merry lights emanate.

    Curiosity piqued, they enter.