Book Club: Ch. 5

Kate: General impression?

Aleja: don’t have a familiar so this fairylore is a bit out of my wheelhouse.  More familiar with chance encounters than working relationships.

Kate: Me either, I have an animal familiar which isn’t really like this.  Maybe my raccoon spirit, or Raccoon?  Small spirit or archetype?  Both-and, probably, not just one.

Cat: Like the Tamora Pierce books: animal gods.  She is pagan, some kind of Wicca?

Kate: How are we defining familiar?  I’m not sure Wilby ever defines the term.

Three ways to get a familiar: appears suddenly, or conjured, or given by another practitioner.  Assistance with magic, brings you somewhere.

Kate: I think raccoon is more of a guide than a familiar but hmm.

Cat: pg. 82: “The formality often present in the relationship between Scottish witches and the Devil was also found in the relationship between cunningfolk and the fairy monarchy.”

Aleja: Because maybe the folkloric “devil” is a fairy lord. Lots of parallels.

Cat: General impression… kinda fuzzy, I had puppy dog interruption.  Less annoyed with the dichotomy, but didn’t finish the chapter.  Also what the fuck page 78? Long paragraph.  HUGE paragraphs.

Kate: Wilby does talk about the dichotomy less except at the end.

Kate: pg 78 quote “Although most familiars retained their autonomy, and sometimes exercised it by appearing before the magical practitioner unbidden, on a day-to-day level they usually appeared in response to some kind of request.”  That comes close to a definition of the relationship.

Kate: Also, this chapter seems less offensive [dichotomy], but also less interesting.  Mostly quotes, less discussion.  Intimacy is interesting but not as examined as I would like.  Wilby’s setting up for later, spoilers.

Cat: More “hows”: 79 pg “Ayrshire cunning man John Stewart (1618), alternatively ‘met with the fairies every Saturday at seven o’clock’.”  A little bit more about sorcery vs witchcraft, learned vs folk magic would have been nice.

Cat: Or at the bottom of pg 79: “Historians generally assume that descriptions of overt ritual conjuration found in witch-trial records are attributable to the influence of learned magical ideas.”  That would have been a more interesting dichotomy.

Aleja: Also, pg 81: “If… the scarcity of these references accurately reflects the fact that overt ritual conjuration was not routinely employed by popular magical practitioners, this does not necessarily mean that other types of conjuration were not taking place.”

Kate: Reminds me more of my folk magic.

Aleja: Do three small things in a field, and Bam, done.

Cat: Or the jar of dirt from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Aleja: By the way, pg 82: “clothed in green” halfway down.  Back to that color, glas.  Green/blue/grey, associated with the fairies. Also, I believe there was a general cultural prohibition on wearing clothes in those colors to avoid the ire of the fae.

[tangential conversation about human-flock-focused ritual and priesthood, vs gods-focused priesthood]

[more tangential convo about hard polytheism, kemetic squishy, Hellenic stuff, proto indo European deities]

Kate: pg 83 at the bottom “a very ‘human’ kind of intimacy”. That’s what I meant earlier. More about that.

Cat: can we talk about the ferret?

Aleja: The one that drinks blood?

Cat: From her cheek, yeah.  Why the cheek and not a finger???

Aleja: She might’ve had a mole or something???

Cat: The image is funny to me.

Aleja: Note 32 is important, provides another example.  Also I would be way more mad than that if my familiar killed a child?  Dealbreaker.

We did not make it all the way through Ch 5, so next time we’ll be starting at “Sabbaths and Elf-Homes” pg 84!

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