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July 7, 2009

Help Wanted Redux: Witch
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:32 PM * 130 comments

Back in April, Jim posted about a job vacancy up in his neck of the woods. Now it seems that the global hokey tourist industry is the exception to the economic crisis, because there’s a not dissimilar vacancy at Wookey Hole Caves (mute your speakers!).

…the job is straightforward: live in the cave, be a witch, and do the things witches do. Wookey Hole is advertising nationally and hopes to attract a strong field of candidates, with the £50K salary serving as a major incentive. Interviews for the post, which will involve on-site assessment incorporating a range or standard tasks, will take place on Tuesday 28th July at 11am. Given the nature of the role, Wookey Hole has decided to run the process on an “open audition” basis. Ambitious witches, looking for a key career move, should turn up dressed for work and bring any essential witch accoutrements. A limited range of potion ingredients will be available.

Note that male and transgender witches are also invited to apply.

(Via the Beeb, bless.)

Comments on Help Wanted Redux: Witch:
#1 ::: Andrea Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Please, please, somebody in the ML community, PLEASE attend the auditions and report back to us. This seems too awesome to be missed.

#2 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 05:13 PM:

...and do the things witches do.

I.e., have day jobs, bitch about religious conservatives, put bumper stickers on their cars saying "my other car is a broom," read voraciously, etc.

#3 ::: Ellen Asher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 05:17 PM:

I find this sad. The first time I visited Wookey Hole, mumble mumble years ago, it was basically just a series of caves with a few guide ropes set up so that visitors wouldn't fall into any crevasses. You had to go through with a guide, of course; it would have been too dangerous otherwise. It was dark and spooky and very, very impressive. I went again some years later and found it had been transformed into a Cheddar Caves-like Tourist Attraction, which I found deeply disheartening. It sounds as though things are only getting worse.

#4 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 05:26 PM:

And then we can have advertisements for people to be Classic Mormons in Utah, for their theme parks, with multiple wives; or Old Testament Prophets, or any of a number of other religions. Oh wait -- some of those aren't really defunct yet. That would be too much like making fun of someone's actual religion, wouldn't it.

#5 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 05:40 PM:

Thank you, Tom.

I also don't think I could get a work permit in the U.K. "What is it you're applying for?" "Witch, at Wookey Hole Caves." "Gerroutta here."

Though I've heard saying you're a witch makes the Jehovahs Witnesses scoot right off the porch. (our local door-to-door JWs are elderly and I don't want to cause a heart attack on my porch).,

#6 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 06:02 PM:

Paula @5: Oh, nonono! You say you're applying for a respectable job: actor!

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 07:00 PM:

Thanks, Tom.

Is "Wookey Hole" a euphemism? Twll dyn bob Sais, like that?

"Watch out, you cowan boneheads, or I'll give you a kick up your wookey hole!"

#8 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 08:02 PM:

*Sigh* They're expecting cackling, aren't they?

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 08:42 PM:

Look what you've done! I'm melting! melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!

#10 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 09:14 PM:

Serge @ 9 ... that's what you get for not following proper lab safety procedures... (to cross a thread)

#11 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 09:39 PM:

*turns Serge into a frog*

Oh wait...

#12 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 09:50 PM:

Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness...!

*turns Xopher into a newt*

#13 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 09:55 PM:

*wonders if newt-ons laws apply to Xopher*

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:00 PM:

I see what's going on here.

*Turns xeger into ein stein*

Ahhhhhhhh. Now that's a nice beer.

#15 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:27 PM:

Wait! We can find a Cur-(ie) for this!

#16 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:28 PM:

It sounds like they turned Cheddar caves into a cheesy tourist attraction.

#17 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:29 PM:

It sounds like they turned Cheddar caves into a cheesy tourist attraction.

#18 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:46 PM:

Yep -- as soon as it oc-curd to them.

#19 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:55 PM:

Is there no whey to avoid the puns in in this place?

#20 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:56 PM:

This discussion is getting whey over my head.

#21 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 10:59 PM:

Don't worry, we'll rennet into the ground.

#22 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 11:19 PM:

It colby worse.

#23 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 11:25 PM:

Details to follow in the next brie-fing.

#24 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 11:28 PM:

I muenster be crazy to keep reading this thread.

#25 ::: boyhowdy ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 11:33 PM:

I gouda get out of this pun-trap before it starts to Bohr me.

#26 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 11:37 PM:

Don't worry, it can only get cheddar.

#27 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2009, 11:38 PM:

"*Turns xeger into ein stein*"

Waiter, this quark tastes a little strange . . .

#28 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:10 AM:

#8, yes, cackling is the first among the job requirements.

They're promoting the heck out of that £50K salary, but there's an asterisk next to the number on the flyer and the fine print says it's pro rata. While living the cave would certainly suggest a full-time position, any time I see an asterisk after a number, a weasel-alert goes "ding-ding-ding" in my hind brain.

#29 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:20 AM:

That sounds like SUCH fun!

Not as fun as playing a dead Baronet, but hey.

#30 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:35 AM:

boyhowdy @ 25: Quantum tunneling will do that . . .

#31 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:59 AM:

Pfusand (#8) : Sounds like they want Boffo, mostly.

#32 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 01:43 AM:

Tom @4, you do know that all those things already exist, right?

#33 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 01:54 AM:

Geri, I can see that. And the money thing makes me very wary,.

#34 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 02:02 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 14 ...
*Turns xeger into ein stein*

Ahhhhhhhh. Now that's a nice beer.

Charmed, I'm sure :)

#35 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 04:35 AM:

Doesn't this general kind of pretend-witchery actually predate the modern witch-identified religions by several hundred years?

I mean, pretend-witches roughly like this one are at least as old as Macbeth, right?

Wicca et al mostly evolved out of English ceremonial magic during the 20th century, and there is more or less no historical evidence that the 20th century practitioners are inheritors of any living tradition of witchcraft or pre-Christian religion.

(If you hold as a matter of faith that your practice or beliefs are descended from an older tradition, I will not argue with you. I respect your faith, just as I respect the faith of those who believe that Jesus said and did the things written in the Gospels. But on both matters the actual evidence is not sufficient to make it a historical rather than a personal truth, and "I believe" is not the same as "I can document.")

There probably was a tradition of witchcraft and 'cunning folk' in England at that time, though I'm not an expert on that subject. However, that tradition died with its last practitioners, and what record we have of it is rather different from the shape of early Wicca...

#36 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 06:04 AM:

Meanwhile, in an extraordinary coincidence, Tennessee's Bell Witch Cave is looking for a Wookie.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 06:11 AM:

xeger @ 34... Charmed beer? Must be because of the quantum foam.

#38 ::: pedantic Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 06:12 AM:

ajay @ 36... Don't you mean 'Wookiee'?

#39 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 06:33 AM:

Non, Serge, ils ont dit qu'ils cherchent un Wookie seulement, pas une Wookiee. Je crois qu'on va les denoncer a l'EEOC.

#40 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 07:19 AM:

Seit wann läuft Making Light in solch' komischen Sprachen? Lehet minden nyelvet használni, vagy csak Francais seulement?

#41 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 07:41 AM:

Dan S wrote @27:

> Waiter, this quark tastes a little strange...

It's all the fault of that Stinking Bishop.

Cadbury.
--
It is important for Germans to know the difference between
"der Quark" and "das Quark". Otherwise their cooking will be
extremely hazardous and they'll spend years scraping soft
cheese out of their particle-accelerator. -- Tanuki in asr.

#42 ::: Duncan J Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 08:01 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ 41:
"There's a dead bishop on the landing!"

#43 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 08:34 AM:

Terry @ #19:

The only way to avoid puns is to line your perimeter with punnets. That'll catch them, alright.

#44 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 09:04 AM:

40: I apologise for the lapse into a foreign language, but that pun only works in French. And the unwritten constitution of the Fluorosphere ( Article 15, I am looking at it now) states that "English shall be the language of the Fluorosphere, and the language of the Fluorosphere shall be English; but nothing in this article shall be taken to infringe limit forestall curtail impair impede or obstruct the rights of Photons (and Photinos, subject to parental supervision) to make puns, quote foreign poetry or prose, or discuss peculiar medical conditions."

#45 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 09:37 AM:

Because I recognise too many of those words to not test myself:

Lehet minden nyelvet használni, vagy csak Francais seulement?

may-be every language ('used', I'm guessing?), or just French alone?

Something like that?

#46 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 09:53 AM:

Sorry, I'm backing up a bit here, but did someone say there was something wrong in making fun of religion? 'Cos I'm having trouble accepting that (other than in the prudential 'dissing Salafists gets you stabbed, and accusations of antisemitism are very hard to refute' sense).

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 09:55 AM:

Michael Roberts #40: I think I caught a germ from that. Or at any rate, it's making me hungry.

#48 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 10:06 AM:

dave @#46: When making fun of a religion, it helps to be a member of it. It also helps to be making fun of the actual thing, not what you think it is or what popular culture says it is.

Imagine hiring someone to be an anchorite, and including in the job posting that applicants must bring their own sackcloth and ashes, but that the attraction will do the bricking-up pro bono. That's about the level of what we're getting here.

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 10:08 AM:

ajay @ 39... Je crois qu'on va les denoncer a l'EEOC.

"Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookiee."
"But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid."
"That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that."

#50 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 10:15 AM:

Devin @ 35: Sure--as a Wiccan, I agree with you about Wicca's likely origins, though I remain somewhat agnostic about it--but the "witch" they're looking for sounds like it's no more the historic cunning-person than it is the modern Wiccan, so I feel perfectly free to mock them!

#51 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 10:23 AM:

Ingvar @43

Has anyone tried punnetration testing using Stilton (or Cheddar of amazing ferocity)?

ITWSBT

Cadbury.
(Round here, punnets are usually used to trap strawberries, expecially during Wimbledon)

#52 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 11:19 AM:

Tom Whitmore:

And then we can have advertisements for people to be Classic Mormons in Utah

I have GOT to quit reading ML before breakfast. I found myself wondering why Utah would need Classic Morons, and what the differences between Classic and Modern Morons would be...

#53 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 11:24 AM:

@48 - only if 'witch' were as unambiguous a definition as, say, Roman Catholic, would your argument hold water. Since it isn't, it doesn't. And I deny your contention that one must be of something to mock it - else, god forbid, we should not be allowed to speak of the US Republican Party with the joy that we do.

If your assumption is that somehow 'religion' is different to 'politics', in a sense that would lead it to merit a cuddlier treatment, then I would like to see some evidence before passing judgment.

#54 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 11:50 AM:

In the sense they mean it, "witch" is precisely as unambiguous as "Roman Catholic"; it means "Person who lives in a cave, cackles over a cauldron in which s/he makes potions, and has a (black) cat".

And I deny your contention that one must be of something to mock it - else, god forbid, we should not be allowed to speak of the US Republican Party with the joy that we do.

One, I didn't say one had to be, I said "it helps". Two, it's impolite for non-members of a group to mock in certain ways the members can get away with. Three, there's a difference between mocking a group for its actual inadequacies and mocking it just because it's there or mocking a stereotype of it rather than the thing itself.

If your assumption is that somehow 'religion' is different to 'politics', in a sense that would lead it to merit a cuddlier treatment, then I would like to see some evidence before passing judgment.

Read again, please: I said "a religion", not religion in general.

We get plenty of general religion-mocking from the militant atheist types*, but that's not what's being discussed.

* Lest I be accused of making things up, I cite the thread on this very blog in which I was told I couldn't be liberal, or believe in science, because I am religious.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 11:54 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ 51... Round here, punnets are usually used to trap strawberries

...by fishermen on punnaces?

#56 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:01 PM:

I'm actually a pretty militant agnostic, and I find the advertising of this job offensive because it is about stereotypes rather than actuality. It's of a piece with anti-semitism and lubbin them darkies down on de lebee. It is unintentionally and ignorantly rude.

Speaking of which, I was thinking the other day that there's a new word that's been added to George Carlin's list -- what I will refer to as the N word, to respect slightly those who can't make a use-mention distinction. While its use might not get one fined by the FCC, it would definitely get one's television or radio station serious negative attention, probably more than using any of Carlin's words. I wonder how he would feel about this, and how he'd use it in one of his monologues?

#57 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:02 PM:

Oh, and when I say negative things about certain people's politics -- I'm generally being intentionally rude.

#58 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:31 PM:

So, in essence, they're holding witch trials.

#59 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:36 PM:

52: well, New Mormons were launched in the 1980s, but the concept was a complete failure, so now you can really only get Classic Mormons, Diet Mormons or Mormon Max (who have discreet body piercings, and ride around in pairs on mountain bikes). And then there's the rebooted Ultimate Mormons, with the new origin story in which Joseph Smith is a clone of Francis Muggleton.

#60 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Tom, I'd say the difference is that Jews and Africans exist. Of course people who see themselves as witches exist, too, but the witch as described in old folk tales doesn't. Would you find ads for actors who are meant to play ghosts offensive, too?

#61 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 12:57 PM:

The only way to avoid puns is to line your perimeter with punnets. That'll catch them, alright.

If that's what it takes to get square...

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 01:01 PM:

Why do I feel this need to call Doctor Bombay?

#63 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 01:02 PM:

It's a big universe. Maybe there's a Wiccan Wookie somewhere.

#64 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 01:37 PM:

And the Jew as described in anti-Semitic literature, and the Negro as described in White Supremacist literature, actually exist, Raphael? That disparity between what exists and the negative stereotype is where I see the rudeness. I don't see any ghosts complaining about their representation in fiction or stage productions.

#65 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 01:48 PM:

OK, frack it, here goes. 'Witch' is not a religion, it is just a silly idea. All religions are silly ideas, of course, but at least some of them have time-honoured institutions, etc, and the excuse of continuity and cultural implantation for their believers' follies. The fact that some twits really think they're 'witches' does not automatically make them a religion in that, barely-tolerable, sense, any more than my beliefs would qualify as a religion if I decided I was the reincarnation of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Getting actually offended over the characterisation of some ye-olde-worlde piece of heritage-gibberish shite? Thinking they should have been more polite about 'witches'?? Give me strength... If we have to constrain ourselves from mocking such evident imbecility, what next, being obliged to take papal infallibility seriously?

#66 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 01:52 PM:

Maybe I should call Doctor Strange instead?

#67 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Ah, dave, thank you--I shan't have to waste any more time attempting to communicate with you in the future.

#68 ::: Sarah W ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 02:22 PM:

Steve C @58:

Sir, I applaud you.

#69 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:04 PM:

Dave: That's a bit harsh, and I don't understand it.

religions are religions. What people believe, in the realm of the spiritual, is what they beleive, and the FSM is a practical as Mithra; so long as they don't interfere with my life/hurt people, it doesn't matter.

And yes, they have the right to be offended when someone mocks them.

#70 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:07 PM:

dave: so, from your perspective, the only way something qualifies as a religion is if it has a long history of being considered a religion?

How, then, _does_ a new religion start?

(My personal definition: a religion is a belief system shared by a significant number of people and which offers them guidance on how they should live their life. This means any particular delusion only a few people have is unlikely to qualify, and similarly superstitions are discounted by the 'guidance on how they should live their life' part.)

#71 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Sorry, no sale here....

The thing is, if Wiccans only called themselves "Wiccans", then for most people that would simply be a new word, representing a new religion. But they don't -- they make a point of also calling themselves "witches", and identifying with various prior instances of the archetype, including among others, the victims of the Salem Witch trials.(1)

Based on my experiences among the Neo-Pagan community, a large part of why modern Wiccans embrace the term "witch" is precisely because of its "Shadow(2) energy" -- they want to tap into the psychological power associated with the historical suppression of that archetype. Tapping into that energy can be exciting and occasionally useful -- indeed, Anton LaVey learned to his sorrow that many people are happy with not much more than that.

But... to then turn around and claim personal offense against the historical usage of the concept -- well, that looks like shenanigans to me. And it's more so when done in the context of a local legend(3) which long predates modern Wicca!

1) Who would surely be bemused by their modern "representatives"! Needless to say, I don't buy the whole "Burning Times" routine, either. As one song (by Leigh Ann Hussey, IIRC) put it, "more in that time simply died of disease".
2) That would be the Jungian Shadow, on a social scale.
3) Note: the current contents of that link are probably temporary, for the duration of the job offer.

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:10 PM:

dave @ 65... I'd appreciate your not insulting almost every person who comes here, and not just because some of them are very dear friends of mine. Your words certainly don't speak for this here atheist.

#73 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:16 PM:

Steve C @ #58, I award you an internet.

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:19 PM:

Yes, Carrie S., I agree with you. dave has shown himself to be unworthy of attention, conversation, or respect.

Of course, when the subpontic lifeforms try to start a flamewar, it profits sane people nothing to let them. I believe the correct formula for this situation is: dave, I discard you.

Wicca, of course, has in common with Mormonism that it was founded by a sex-crazed charlatan. JS wanted to be the boss and have sex with multiple women; so he invented a religion, faking up some "ancient texts" to support the idea. He found gullible wretches who believed him despite his obvious lies.

GG wanted to be the boss and have his pasty English butt whipped by naked women; so he invented a religion, faking up some "ancient texts" to support the idea. He found gullible wretches who believed him despite his obvious lies—for a while. Eventually he pushed it too far and Doreen Valiente said "Gerald, you just made that up! Hell with you" and Wicca has never been the same since.

There are still people who believe that GG was initiated into an ancient stoneage tradition by Old Dorothy, who he found sitting naked in the woods, and that the Old Craft Laws are really real old, man, and that the Gardnerian Book of Shadows is aaaaaynchunt and seeeekrit, and basically that It's All True.

Most of us, however, believe that GG was a liar and a charlatan who essentially cobbled together some CM, some Margaret Murray (who made a lot of shit up herself), some Crowley, and a few other random sources, using his own linguistically deranged creativity as mortar. He created something that works, in basic outline, if you don't take his bullshit too seriously.

In Wicca, at least as I learned and taught it for 20 years, there are no required beliefs at all. It's not a faith, just a religion. Of course if you define 'religion' as 'a set of things taken on faith', then you get to reason in a circle and say "all religions involve taking things on faith" and exclude Wicca. You can believe whatever you want; but if you assert that the above has any more intellectual rigor than "the bible says it, I believe it, end of story" any reasonable person will argue with you—unless, of course, they've already discarded you.

#75 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:26 PM:

Jules #70: By that standard, Humanism (notably the secular form) would seem to qualify. At the other extreme, so would "malignant narcissism". This seems to indicate "unexpected behavior" of your definition.

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 03:38 PM:

David-not-dave 71: And it's more so when done in the context of a local legend(3) which long predates modern Wicca!

David, that link just goes back to that eye-hurting and textually annoying ad. What local legend? Pre-1939, really? Could you point to something about that that doesn't hurt to read (for multiple reasons)? I don't know anything about the local legend; I thought the whole thing was made up by the people busily themeparkifying this natural attraction.

Who would surely be bemused by their modern "representatives"!

Absolutely. They were good Christian women (and men), and would be appalled by our goings-on.

Needless to say, I don't buy the whole "Burning Times" routine, either.

Nor do I. GG made up that 9 million number, too. He simply multiplied 6 million Jews by 1.5 to claim that "his people" were oppressed even worse, and to paint the Church as worse than Hitler. Not, as I believe I've said, a nice guy.

As for the offense taken: please realize we're not planning lawsuits or picketing or boycotts. We're just annoyed. We don't think they shouldn't be allowed to do it; we just think they're jerks. Just as dave has a perfect right to his (harebrained) opinion, and I have a perfect right to think he's a jackhole for holding it.

#77 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Tom @56, who's the target? Anti-semitic caricatures are based on stereotypes of actual Jews. Anti-black caricatures are based on stereotypes of actual African-Americans (or African non-Americans).

Who's the actual person or people of whom the Wookey Hole Witch is a caricature? It's not modern Wicca, because the Wookey Hole Witch legend predates the invention of modern witchcraft by a century and a half.

Dave @65, you're just being a jerk. If you have to recycle some old bit of Heinlein, couldn't you recycle one of the smart bits?

Xopher @76, according to this web page here, the legend of the Wookey Hole Witch dates back to at least 1748. It doesn't cite any sources, though.

#78 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 04:17 PM:

Xopher: We don't think they shouldn't be allowed to do it; we just think they're jerks.

Fair enough, though I would instead say that they (and their prospective recruit) are clowns. As such, they are tapping into that same Shadow energy, but with the goal of releasing it as laughter. As my old shrink put it, laughter (at least this sort) is a gasp followed by a sigh of relief....

Here, I'll just copy&paste the story from their page, skipping the introductory snark:

... Wookey Hole wants the appointee to go about her everyday business as a hag, so that people passing through the caves can get a sense of what the place was like in the Dark Ages. This was when an old woman lived in the caves with some goats and a dog, causing a variety of social ills including crop failures and disease. She also turned the local milk rancid.

Eventually, an Abbot called Father Bernard was summoned from Glastonbury. Armed with a bible and a candle, he entered the cave, spotted the witch and tried to reason with her. She started screaming and casting curses, and ran off into the depths of the cavern. His efforts at conflict resolution through dialogue exhausted, Father Bernard scooped up some water from the cave, blessed it, and then threw it at the witch who turned to stone. And there she stands to this day.

And yeah, those guys should have their web-crayons taken away. Especially the purple one. :-)

#79 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 04:32 PM:

Avram @77: who's the target? Anti-semitic caricatures are based on stereotypes of actual Jews. Anti-black caricatures are based on stereotypes of actual African-Americans (or African non-Americans).

I think the case has been made that, in the case of classic English witches, the target is the old woman / wise-woman who lives off in the forest by herself, knows stuff she shouldn't oughta be sticking her nose into (i.e., stuff that the local authorities don't understand and can't control) and fails to pay sufficient respect to the patriarchal power structure.

But then, that might just be my late-'70s/early-'80s militant feminist upbringing talking...

#80 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 04:39 PM:

You said it before I could, Jacque. Though I'd say the target was more "women with power" of any sort other than that which comes from a man.

#81 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 05:08 PM:

I should maybe say that I'm in Xopher's camp, not "dave's." I thought this was a particularly interesting situation because some people early in the thread did in fact seem offended by a caricature that they or their ideological forebears intentionally stepped into. I think that's odd and interesting, but not silly or wrong.

I think this is categorically different from minstrel shows or blood libels. People still die every year over those old lies and hates. This is much more like the history of the circus clown as a racist caricature of an Irishman. I am Irish-American and I'll from time to time make a noise about that, but in between the time when that stereotype was current and the present, my people became whites who happen to be Irish rather than Irishmen and women, and so I have a choice to simply ignore it.

As Jacque and Tom point out, there's some nasty history behind the fiction-witch too. It's not an awesome bit of folklore that we must protect or anything. If you don't like it, I can see good reasons for that.

#82 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Thought-experiment: what would Christianity look like if it were re-created from a damaged copy of the Book of Common Prayer, by rather eccentric Buddhists seeking an alternative form of religiosity.

#83 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 05:22 PM:

@82: Book!

#84 ::: Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 05:24 PM:

I'm with Jacque on the nature of the offensiveness.

There's also the possibility that they're gleefully commemorating a destitute homeless woman being blamed for every little problem the wealthy landowners encountered.

#85 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 05:41 PM:

David 78: Thanks. So why would they want a person who moves and stuff? They should want a stone statue.

And yeah, those guys should have their web-crayons taken away. Especially the purple one.

I say give it back to Harold.

#86 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 05:42 PM:

Devin: This is much more like the history of the circus clown as a racist caricature of an Irishman.

Hey, I hadn't heard that aspect of it... got links? (I did try Google, but turned up only a passing reference to the same idea.)

#87 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 06:06 PM:

Devin @81: ...the history of the circus clown as a racist caricature of an Irishman.

How...damn! Interesting. I've never heard of this before, but now that you mention it, I can see it. Postulate the image as a homeless drunkard: shrieking red hair, freckles, 3-day beard, goofy clumsy walk, mismatched, worn and badly fitting clothes....

Damn. Right there under my nose all the time, and never saw it. Like Devin says, I guess the stereotype just quietly evolved out from under the caricature.

<shudder> Makes me wonder what else is lurking around underfoot, right in plain sight.

#88 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Makes me wonder what else is lurking around underfoot, right in plain sight.

I get a borderline-queasy feeling when I realize that a term I've used, because I thought it was innocuous, is used by others as a dog-whistle term. "Wait, that means what? Oh. Oh... ick."

#89 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 07:22 PM:

.the history of the circus clown as a racist caricature of an Irishman.

I think you're combining several types of clown there. Specifically, the Auguste with the Tramp.

There's really excellent evidence that the Tramp came from portrayals of homeless Blacks after the Civil War (specifically by James McIntyre and Tom Heath), out of the minstrel-show tradition. They further evolved during the Depression to homeless men/hobos in general (e.g. Emmett "Weary Willie" Kelly). You can still see the remnants of blackface in the makeup.

This is not to be confused with the Stage Irishman of vaudeville.

#90 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 07:28 PM:

Couldn't they just use some sort of animatronic robot or something? Maybe that costs too much (haven't read the article...)
Sorry I can't come up with a punnacea for all our problems.

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 07:36 PM:

Clowns? Did anybody say clowns? Well, here comes the circus, as perceived by MST3K. Keep children from watching the part where the clowns do "it" clown-style.

#92 ::: Tom Reynolds ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 08:49 PM:

£50,000 is twice what I get for my full time EMS work.

*sigh*

#93 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 09:49 PM:

Xopher @76

Gerald didn't come up with the 9 million figure, that was Z Budapest, as I recall. The whole "Burning Times" nonsense has been completely discredited.

I visited Wookey Hole many years ago, on a trip to the Isles. I like caves; the "Witch" was a stalagmite, rather impressive one.

If I lived in the area, I'd apply for the job. Perfect retirement position, as long as I could have a laptop and internet connection hidden away somewhere. My cackle is pretty good. I'm not offended by this, more bemused by the modern "tourist" craze.

#94 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Serge #91: If you want to know what's up with Emmett Kelly eating in film you linked to, they didn't show his whole routine.

Here's Avner the Eccentric, doing routines very similar to Kelly's (including feather balancing, and, as I mentioned, the eating).

#95 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 10:00 PM:

(Um, that's Avner, not Avram, James -- though he'd probably not dislike being confused with Mr. Davidson!)

#96 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 10:08 PM:

[Self-deleted. -- JDM]

#97 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 10:28 PM:

Thanks, Tom.

Fixed.

#98 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2009, 11:16 PM:

Dave Bell @ 82 ...
Thought-experiment: what would Christianity look like if it were re-created from a damaged copy of the Book of Common Prayer, by rather eccentric Buddhists seeking an alternative form of religiosity.

I've got the damaged copy of the Book of Common Prayer here ... and all things being equal, could probably be described as a rather eccentric Buddhist by many lights...

Poetry readings and odd stage directions are what wander through my mind...

#99 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 03:08 AM:

Tom @92, and others, the pro rata salary thing is very widely used when advertising part-time jobs in the UK. Unfortunately, it's often associated with limited info on the hours of work.

It's that tendency to incomplete info which makes it potentially dishonest. It's about five times minimum wage, here, but there could be all sorts of little catches. And what I have seen suggests it's a seasonal job.

I don't know anything about the acting business, and I suspect that's the background needed to judge this offer. Is pro rata commonplace in that business? I just don't know.

#100 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 04:03 AM:

David Harman @78: Of course, if the old woman had goats and a dog, one wonders why the job description requires someone willing to work with cats, and not (for example) goats and a dog...

Dave Bell @82:

Thought-experiment: what would Christianity look like if it were re-created from a damaged copy of the Book of Common Prayer, by rather eccentric Buddhists seeking an alternative form of religiosity.

I'm currently writing stories that are set on a world where one of the major cultures is a violent iron-age society that was converted to Christianity by a single missionary, but were somewhat lacking in original source material after they killed him and discovered they were unable to read his books. All kinds of fun can happen if you reinterpret an existing religion the way you want to, rather than the way it's normally interpreted. :)

Dave Bell @99 et al: My suspicion is it's probably actually a £25K-for-6-months-per-annum-of-work job, which doesn't sound too bad to me. It'd finance 6 months a year of doing pretty much whatever else you wanted. If I could cackle, I'd be applying right now. :)

#101 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 05:40 AM:

98: ObSF: "The Future Took Us" by David Severn, a 1950s juvenile about a post-nuclear-war society which is entirely based on a single surviving copy of a secondary school maths textbook.
I remember the sensawunda when our heroes, who have been unknowingly brought forward in time, discover first of all the ruins of an immense metal pylon (for microwave transmission) and are then further awestruck to find a fallen beam from the pylon, with the roots of a massive oak tree growing around it. Oaks don't grow fast...

#102 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 06:40 AM:

Jules #100: Thats how you know they're playing to the archetype, rather than any actual sense of history.

Also, goats can be pretty unruly -- aside from knocking down the occasional tourist, they'd certainly take bites out of folks' thousand-£ designer coats and such.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 11:17 AM:

Old recollection bubbles to the surface: Am I correctly remembering that Minicon had a juggling GoH in '81, or therebouts? Was that Avner?

#104 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 12:31 PM:

JJ Mars @103:

Yep, that was him. I don't know how they got him, but there have been other guests of non-SF renown (Spider John Koerner, Dave Von Ronk).

#105 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 01:42 PM:

Avner is also an old friend of the Flying Karamazov Brothers, which may be how the Minicon folks found him. Or Maybe Not. It's how I know him, though.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 02:12 PM:

Magenta 93: Thanks! I did not know that. Did ZBuda do the multiplication in the way and for the reasons I said? In other words, did I get anything else wrong?

I know ZBuda made all kinds of other shit up, but the "claiming worse treatment than the Holocaust" thing was a lie I put beyond anyone with better ethics than a sea anemone, which I had thought applied to ZBuda but not GG.

#107 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 02:24 PM:

Xopher: Apparently it wasn't lack of ethics, but bad math, at least according to the WP article (which is actually referenced, for once).

The nine million figure is ultimately due to Gottfried Christian Voigt, who based his estimate on twenty cases recorded over fifty years in the archives of Quedlinburg, Germany. Voigt then extrapolated this number to the entire population of Europe over the full 1,800 years of Christian history.

I remember once working out that it would have had to be something like 85 witches per day, assuming the witch-hunt period to be about 300 years. Multiplying the length of time by 6 doesn't make it a whole lot better, IMO.

#108 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 02:43 PM:

John Houghton @104: JJ Mars @103

Quelle fromage! Now there's a blast from the past!

Okay, good to know I wasn't retroactively hallucinating. Wasn't until years later, after seeing the FKB Comedy of Errors, and then Jewel of the Nile, that I finally put that together.

#109 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 03:00 PM:

Carrie S. #107: Oy vey... and never mind that witch-hunting was an episodic fever, often associated with particular "hunters" (some of them itinerant).

#110 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 06:35 PM:

Re: Clowns/Irishmen

I read it somewhere in print, years ago, and couldn't swear to the credibility or correctness of that source. It sounds like Mr. Macdonald (unsurprisingly) knows a lot more about clowns than I do, and I might well be wrong.

When you look at certain known clown features in the right light, (red hair, red nose, stumbling walk, ill-fitting patched clothes) it does look rather suspicious (African-American alcoholics don't typically have red noses, for instance).

But I know little about clown history, and it's quite likely that I'm wrong here if, as has been suggested, some of those features come from different clown types (that is, one kind of clown is drunk and another has a red nose, and it wasn't until later when things got more muddled that it became possible to interpret the red nose as a sign of a light-skinned alcoholic).

My reason for making the analogy was just that I have a choice of whether to apply that stereotype to myself or not, and practitioners of ceremonial magic have a choice to consider themselves "witches" or not*, but the other analogies given (minstrel shows and Jewish stereotypes) are applied to people who cannot easily escape that application, and moreover are much more severely punished for belonging to those groups. So it felt creepy to me. Like I was covering my own mild historical indignation in the genuine present-day suffering of others.

*I count among my friends people who follow very similar systems of belief and practice, yet some of them say "wicca" or "witch" or the like, and others are careful to say "Thelema" or "ceremonial magic." Which is to say that whether you identify yourself as witchy or not is a different decision from what belief and practice you pursue.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2009, 06:40 PM:

Oh, and...

(Via the Beeb, bless.)

Blesséd Beeb?

#112 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2009, 02:04 PM:

Dave Bell @82, a classic instance of your gedankenexperiment (Gedankenversuch) is the Star Trek Original Series, 2nd Season episode, “A Piece of the Action”, where the book was a history of 1920s Chicago gangsters.

#113 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2009, 08:10 PM:

111 Xopher:

Blessed Beeb the One...?

(although I usually listen to 6 and 7)

#114 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2009, 08:50 PM:

It didn't occur to me until a few days ago to look up what “redux” actually means. I'd always had it vaguely associated with “reduce” and figured from context it meant something like an echo: a reoccurrence, but smaller/more essential.

#115 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Rebecca @ 12, It appears that he got better. On the other hand, Michael Roberts's hovercraft appears to have become full of eels.


David @71, I still miss Leigh Ann. She was one of several dear friends to die or get seriously injured by crashing their motorcycles in a short period of time. I'm a Christian, not a pagan, and I primarily knew her and Elton through music, but found some of her writing to be really insightful as well as heartfelt. (One of the relevant ones here was her discussion about getting spiritual value from religious rituals that you know you've made up yourself...)

#116 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2009, 08:56 PM:

Bill #115: Alas, I never knew her in person, only through her music and a couple or three articles she wrote for various magazines. I may still have a cassette or two of her, though I'm not sure it would still be playable after all this time.

#117 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Leigh Ann also had several CDs, so her music survives in a somewhat more robust form. Band name Annwn; and I'm sure others will point to more.

#118 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2009, 09:31 PM:

I didn't know Leigh Ann well, but I very much enjoyed working with her on a recording project once.

#119 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2009, 11:34 PM:

Xopher @74:

Of course if you define 'religion' as 'a set of things taken on faith', then you get to reason in a circle and say "all religions involve taking things on faith" and exclude Wicca.
Except that you then exclude much of Judaism, which claims that it is not based on faith but on interpretation and analysis. (With some circular arguing to "prove" that the giving of the Torah actually happened as documented, so it's not "on faith".)

Careful where you point that generalization.

#120 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 09:44 AM:

Xopher:

In Wicca, at least as I learned and taught it for 20 years, there are no required beliefs at all. It's not a faith, just a religion. Of course if you define 'religion' as 'a set of things taken on faith', then you get to reason in a circle and say "all religions involve taking things on faith" and exclude Wicca.

Only, I don't understand - if it doesn't have (even implicitly, if not explicitly) required beliefs, how is it a religion at all? Rather than, say, an ethical system or a folkway?

Take Judaism, for example. As I see it, it's a set of practices based on a set of (at least implied, if not necessarily explicitly stated) required beliefs. Creeds based on the work of Maimonides (13 Principles) and his successors (Albo, etc. who boiled it down to 3 or 4 or 5 basic beliefs) attempted to derive the required beliefs from a lot of moralistic storytelling material, and Biblical narratives, that weren't explicitly theological. Maimonides (12th C. dar-al-Islam) required one to "know" rather than "believe" his principles, though.

As Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (20th C. Poland-US) might have put it, Jewish philosophy derives from a characterization of Jewish law, rather than the other way around. In other words, "spirit of the law" arguments are purely descriptive, not prescriptive.

Geekosaur:

Except that you then exclude much of Judaism, which claims that it is not based on faith but on interpretation and analysis.

Even Mendelssohn (18th C. German), who famously argued that "Judaism has no dogmas" while defending orthodox Judaism (the only kind there was at the time; Reform didn't get started until a generation later), well, a close reading reveals that he means "no dogmas beyond the 2-3 things that completely underlie the entire system of Judaism, such as the existence and unity of God, the former existence of prophecy, and the divine origin of the Pentateuch." There are basic beliefs without which the system makes no sense, has no claim of validity.

(With some circular arguing to "prove" that the giving of the Torah actually happened as documented, so it's not "on faith".)

People who make the latter argument are really treating it as a faith argument, but don't want to admit it. I had an argument with Rabbi Dr. J. Immanuel Schochet over dinner at my old synagogue, about 15 years ago. He's a philosophy professor at a technical college in Toronto, as well as one of the leading lights of Lubavitch, a form of Orthodox Judaism. He was talking about revelation and the Torah.

Now, a basic Orthodox belief is that the revelation at Sinai consisted of two parts, the Written Torah which is the Pentateuch as we have it in printed and ms. Bibles, and the Oral Torah, that set of oral interpretations which are necessary to support an actual lifestyle based on the Written Torah, which explain the various allusions in the Written Torah. The extent to which that original revealed Oral Torah has been faithfully transmitted down the generations, is is a matter of great dispute, whose written records go back all the way through Jewish recorded history. Be that as it may, we should stipulate that there were two parts to the Revelation, and it is believed that at least in part, the Oral Part was faithfully transmitted, as well as the Written.

He maintained that "the Oral Torah supports the validity of the Written Torah, and the Written Torah supports the validity of the Oral Torah." He could not let himself see that he was making a circular argument, no matter how many times I tried to explain it to him. Because to him, the validity and divinity of the Oral Torah, as well as the Written Torah, was a matter of faith, without which Orthodox Judaism makes no sense.

#121 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2009, 09:38 AM:

Just watched a brief segment with some of the candidates on BBC News. They ended it with a chorus of cackles from the hopefuls.

The Guardian has an article on the auditions as well. The name of the Winning Wookey Witch will be known later today.

#122 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2009, 11:54 AM:

I missed a couple of posts here, and would not have gone back to see them had it not been for Pendrift's post, so thanks Pendrift.

geekosaur, I hope you were not thinking I approved of that circular reasoning. If that circular definition of religion excludes Judaism, that's a good thing, because everyone agrees that Judaism is a religion, and my main concern is to debunk that definition.

Jon...without going into a long explanation of Wiccan philosophy, especially one that you may not read at this remove, let me just say that Wicca emphasizes poetry, not theology (or even thealogy, as some Wiccans spell it). Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will, and the art of causing change in accordance with will. Any belief is a state of consciousness.

Much as it confuses outsiders, we believe different things inside circle than we do outside circle. Inside circle, Hekate and Iakchos and Aphrodite and Kali-Durga and Ganesha and Ra and Brigid and Yemaya and Thor are all people (in the highest sense of the word), people with whom I can have a conversation, people who will help me with certain things if I ask them in the right way, people who can come into me and speak using my voice if I invite them and they so choose.

Outside circle, they are archetypes and personifications (sometimes anthropomorphizations) of aspects of the universe that I want to connect to in a particular way. The reason for using the ancient names is that they and the stories about them have deep cultural resonance, and have survived the test of time. While almost no one today worships Ra the way the Ancient Egyptians did, the stories are still told, even if they had to be found written, transliterated, and repeatedly mistranslated before coming down to us. And in Ireland the stories never stopped being told, though now they call Brigid Saint Brigid, and Lugh Saint Michael.

In circle you believe whatever the circle leader tells you. If I tell you you're a tree, you try to be one. You won't get all the way to truly adopting a tree's consciousness (if any), but by trying you'll sit in a particular way, breathe in a particular way, calm your thoughts...which will get you into the right mental state for the next thing I'm doing.

Outside circle you believe whatever you want. For me, I try not to believe things that are contrary to scientific evidence, and believe only tentatively things for which the evidence is spotty or vague. I trust some people on the evidence they present; I trust rather fewer on the conclusions they draw.

Theologically I am what I call a radical pantheist. I choose to worship the entire universe as a deity. That doesn't mean I believe the universe is conscious or self-aware; I think those are arbitrary qualifications for worship-worthiness and I don't accept them. The Divine Mind: the laws of mathematics and physics strike me as filling that role rather nicely, in fact the elegance of them is awe-inspiring in the best sense of the term.

OK, for not going into a long explanation, I've sure run off at the keyboard! I'll stop now unless asked questions.

#123 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 02:57 AM:

Why "Iakchos" instead of "Bakchos"? I think I've seen you write it that way once before. (Secondarily, why "Iakchos" instead of "Iakkhos"?)

#124 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 03:53 AM:

Wonderful quote from the Guardian article Pendrift @121 links to:

Bridget Vallance, 45, from Dorset, described herself as a transsexual woman looking for a new role after running a carpet fitting business. She said: "I am the Wookey Witch and I am here to re-claim my cave."

I am very nearly speechless.

#125 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 10:20 AM:

abi @ 124... A Wookey Witch?

#126 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 12:42 PM:

Serge @125:

All I'm saying is that it's a heartwarming thing to see a trans woman reclaiming her cave so proudly and publicly.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 12:47 PM:

abi... It goes without saying, but I'll nevertheless say "Good for her!"

#128 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 01:24 PM:

Better than getting your arms pulled out of their sockets.

#129 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2009, 03:34 PM:

David 123: that's just how I learned the name of that particular deity. (Outside circle) One name is as good as another, and 'Bakchos' makes me think of the Romanized version, Bacchus, and IMO the sense I get of Bacchus overemphasizes the alcoholic aspect. (Inside circle) I've called on him by that name many times, and he's always come and never corrected me on the name—and he DID correct me on the style of my initial invocation!

abi: YAYYY FOR TRANNIE GOODWITCH!

#130 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2009, 04:30 PM:

Good to see that this interesting claim in the Grauniad article:

an Italian who claims she is an ancestor of Casanova and wore a typical Venetian 17th-century witch costume.
was picked up in the comments. OTOH, perhaps it's all part of the magic.

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