Thursday, March 19, 2020

Leprecat 1a

Leprecat: a "Missing" page 1A.
After the work with some of the usual older cases, a few sources (some common, some rare) passed across my research eye and seemed to demand their place in all this. So, here is some of that.
 Many of us have spent minutes of great fun staring at Olaus Magnus' 16th century map of the northern seas and lands. The adventuring Reverend was a type of latter day Pliny the Elder for his area of the world. Just as Pliny can be called the world's first broad-studying Fortean, Olaus can be credited as being similarly cut from that Fortean cloth. His map excites, while his accompanying book is an attempt at comprehensive description of what were at the time fairly unknown lands. In both we find the Little People.

Far to the north in Magnus' Greenland, we find the ancient echoes of modern day Iceland's insistence that their Trolls, their Little People, are real, and not terribly happy with us humans. 

Magnus inserts a confrontation between an armed troll and a similarly armed human, facing off over who is to occupy the land. This little drawing perhaps says much about the creatures that we are chasing in this blog today. The trolls are resident. We humans come and threaten to push them away. They aren't happy about it, and sort of oppose. In the end, the Human March keeps spreading out, driving the trolls away. 

Hidden in the story is why we succeed. It's not obvious. But something about us, or them, or both, allows the humans to inexorably "win" the land. We aren't there yet on this blog, but as cases go on, it seems as though the "other people" are limited with what they can do. ... at least in this physical world. We might be limited as to what we can do in interactions with them, but we can destroy anything in this physical world. Ultimately, in some sad sense, we "win" the world of physical nature. All of that is run-on philosophy and worth little scholarship-wise, but it remains a growing intuition. 

Elsewhere on Magnus' map is the other main form of human/troll interaction: the House Troll, or, as the Scotch/British would say: The Brounies. 

Magnus believed that everything that he placed on his map, and wrote in his book, was either obviously true, or at least credibly attested to by people that he knew or written by writers that he read and respected.  He wasn't just writing an entertaining Book of Wonders (though in many places it is surely that), he wanted to save all the character and detail of Northern Culture while educating other cultures to the south. He gave real numbers for the lengths of his prominent Sea Serpent and his River Orm, for instance.  Did he think that trolls still entered the household economies of persons that they chose to serve? Absolutely. And they did these services just as the Brownies in the British Isles were said to do. 

Magnus, I notice, maintains the concept of the Little Race of peoples of perhaps three-to-four feet in height. His map "brownie" has a dark red complexion, and is drawn as somewhat ugly, bordering on boggart ugliness. Like some traditions of British house-elves, his house troll seems to have no clothes --- remember the idea that a bound house elf can be liberated or, if they don't want to leave, can be forced to go, by giving them a piece of clothing --- thus JK Rowling's inclusion of this in the Harry Potter books. 

Although no descriptive words exist on the colorful map, brief descriptions of many things, often accompanied by engravings, appear in the book. Above, while magicians fly in the air, three vignettes of commonly experienced trolls appear. Note our boggart-looking house troll in the center,  while another controls the Winds at the right, and another mines ore in a cave to the left. These latter are the "knockers" of the mines. 

One other engraving, I believe, has some merit here. This one shows a Circling Dance of trolls. Some of these trolls have decidedly Faun-like appearances. (In this picture, one may say most do.) It reminds me greatly of a revel ruled by Pan. 

These tales/ reports/ beliefs are so commonly found in the British countryside (see Arthur Rackham's house brownie to the left) that they surely point to one of these things:

This is all one culture at its base. The common people all believe in the same constellation of beings and relationships growing from some ancient now-cloudy set of powerful ideas which made some important things in the world make sense.

OR ...

All of these geographically-close cultures were experiencing some profoundly TRUE set of real entities who behaved as one "culture" of related entities should do.

OR ... 


Let's, as did the Curate in the John Aubrey case, try to stagger "forward" a bit, despite all that heady strangeness we just read/wrote above.

PANDEMONIUM: 1684 publication by Richard Bovet. (pretty much an idiot, but with a few surprising things included.) 

                                 Bovet's frontispiece with my arrows and circles drawn in.

We can see here at the beginning that Bovet believes in the reality of several anomalous things:
Witches, magicians, devils, "imps", flying dragon-like demons, forbidding locations, and fairies. With all of that, he is, strangely to us, relatively "normal" for his times. 

But he is still an idiot. 

Bovet was a violent anti-Catholic and a  fiery hater of atheists at the same time. Even as a good Catholic boy, I have to admit that neither of those assures candidacy for idiocy, though both are pretty unhelpful character traits in a truth-seeker (as are all biases.) Bovet is an idiot because he doesn't understand important basic things about his peasant countryfolk, despite moving among them and wanting to utilize some of those basic things in his book. 

Bovet is a witch-hunter born about a century late. He thinks that witchcraft, magic, spirits, and the Little People are all part of one demonic presence that opposes "true religion" and proper living. Well, whatever the definition of true religion and proper living may be, the common people didn't consider ANY of the four categories of things cited as even being related to any of the others. ALL FOUR were separate aspects of Creation. For sure the common people did not think that The Little People were "satanic." If devilry was involved, you MIGHT find it meddling in witchcraft, but in none of the other three. Even in witchcraft, some individuals seemed to "get their powers" through rituals containing Christian concepts and imagery. So, whatever else we might take from Bovet, his "philosophical beliefs" are way off.

But there turn out to be several things that we CAN take from him.

After his diatribes, suddenly this fierce dogma-infested person turns into a Fortean. Weird. Completely took me by surprise. Bovet wanted to find true reports from people which he hoped would buttress his book's attack on atheism. He was looking for things that in his mind would prove the existence of the world of the spiritual. That's kind of expected, but what wasn't was his apparent attitude during this search. He seems, very much so, like a wide-eyed explorer as he walks the paths of the Mysteries. I'd almost not mind being around him in this mode.

He finds several reports that he includes in his appendices. Some are fascinating. I'd like to note three that might be germane for our own adventuring. 

1. South Petherton, Somerset county. c. 1620AD. Bovet talked with relatives and friends of a former shopkeeper of this village, who had passed away somewhat recently. Many people repeated this tale as heard directly by them. 

The gentleman was selling goods at a local country fair. Home was still somewhat distanced, but "he had a good horse" and felt that he could make it before nightfall. He misjudged, and rode along in the dark. At a place alongside a high hedge, his horse suddenly started as if afraid and basically forced him up against the hedge. The horse was trembling violently. Ahead, making noises as if cracking the hedge came a strange thing. It was a ball or ring of light, light the dim color of dusk. It was the size of a wagonwheel in diameter. Inside the wheel or ball was the dark image of something like a bear. The creature was huge {if so, the shopkeeper must have felt that he was looking inside the wheel like an opening to another reality.} He described the thing as of the "proportion of a bear", but with fiery eyes. The exact description of what he saw we cannot know, but it was uncanny.

Report 2. Blackdown Hill, Tanton 1630. 

The bona fides of this report are almost exactly like the previous one: a respected fellow and merchant who had recently passed but who had told many persons of this experience. The added credibility here comes from the fact that many persons still alive told Bovet that they too had seen the Fairy Fair on the same hillside that the prime reporter had ridden right through. 

full disclosure: I REALLY like this one.

The witness was taking a trip across the local fields and up the hillside through a pass to other villages to sell his wares. As he rode towards the hillside, he saw there what appeared to be a country fair beside the road. This didn't make sense, as it was a wrong season for an open fair there. But what else could it be? He rode closer.

The fair was colorful, filled with booths selling all manner of things, colored flags and tents, and people in bright clothes of reds, greens, and blues, and frolicking in tall hats. Music and dancing filled the air. As the merchant grew close, he realized that the people were somewhat smaller than normal folks. They must have been the Little People. 

He didn't feel particularly threatened and he DID need to get over that hill, so he pushed on directly into the Fair. Then, just as he entered the space of the Fair, everything visually disappeared. Nothing to be seen except a dull atmosphere. But he FELT them. It was as if everyone and thing was still there, but unseen. He felt pressed or crowded upon. Then, as he got past the Fair's place, all returned to sight, and stunned, he went on his way. 

This encounter has a LOT in it. Many supportive witnesses who said that they had seen at different times the very same things but further away. The account is full of "normal" folk entity behavior, with a large dollop of very high strangeness. 

Report 3. Leith, Scotland. 1650. The "FAIRY BOY." 

This is another secondhand case, but one with many second hand supporters.  Whereas I greatly like Report 2, and genuinely like Report 1, this one is of such high strangeness claims that I'm nervous. Still, if it has any chance of reality, it's another world-breaker. 

This story claims that in the village of Leith there existed (not long before the "investigation") a peculiar young boy. This boy reminded me a bit of the character in Frank Sinatra's Nature Boy song --- a young child who seemed to know almost everything far beyond his years. 

He often astounded the persons who got to converse with him and could provide esoteric knowledge of things despite appearing no more than 10-11 years. He also said that he was a drummer and did indeed possess talent. He claimed that he became so good by drumming with the Fairies. He spoke of a people who lived beneath a local hill, into which he entered every Thursday night, to play his drums with their musicians. 

He then claimed to play at all their feasts, and sometimes they were all whisked away to other countries. He claimed to be able to see the future, and predict things. (The Second Sight.) During one meeting, when one of the witnesses decided to stay close to him so as to discover the means to enter the Fairy Hill, the Fairy Boy just disappeared, not to be seen again by him. 

(["There was a boy; a very strange enchanted boy. He said he came from very far, over land and sea. A little child, and sad of eye, but very wise was he. Then came that day, that magic day he passed my way. We sat and talked of many things, fools and kings. Then I heard him say:  
The Greatest Thing you'll ever learn, is just to Love, and be loved in return."])

Well, that case's tough to buy (though Frank Sinatra's lyrics are not), despite the witness earnest-ness. The other two: easier for me. You might feel differently. 

I'm going to stop here, and go on in a few days with more very early claims. I'm finding that trying to put out two postings in a week is a lot more work than I remember --- getting old. 
The business of putting in the extra mile to stir just a bit more fact, reference, and hypothesis into these stews takes it out of these old neurons. 

Back in a few (couple?) of days. Stay healthy folks.


  1. So glad you are back at it! I am looking forward to this journey.



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