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  • Turning Back the Years in Oz July 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Turning Back the Years in Oz

    ***With thanks to Invisible and Wade*** Consider a curious thing. Australian prehistory is far easier to rewrite than American prehistory. If you begin to question the route by which the Aborigines arrived in Australia, or posit an early Indian influx onto the continent or even begin to speculate about mahogany boats and seventeenth-century Caucasoid skulls […]

    Magonia #9: The Myth Continues June 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern
    Magonia #9: The Myth Continues

    As access to information gets easier, and there was a huge-internet powered jump in the 1990s, then surely the information available to us should become more accurate, right? Easier to check facts, easier to be checked… Not a bit of it. As information becomes more accessible then more people have more access to information and […]

    Magonia #8: The Comte de Gabalis and the Sylphs June 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Magonia #8: The Comte de Gabalis and the Sylphs

    The Magonia series is now almost at an end. But Beach could not sink the sky boats without a reference to the Comte de Gabalis, one of the most hellishly strange books ever written (first edition 1670). The CdG is a seventeenth-century esoteric text, essentially a long discussion of the secret life of elementals: the […]

    Peter, Abraham and Muhammad on the Wrong Side of the Urals June 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Peter, Abraham and Muhammad on the Wrong Side of the Urals

    Here’s a bizarre scenario (with no basis in the historical record…). c.c.c.1000 a Jewish, a Muslim and a Christian missionary find themselves on the wrong side of the Ural Mountains among a horse-killing, horse-worshipping pagan people (and before anyone writes in there is some ancient and medieval evidence for Jewish ‘evangelism’). The Christian missionary, Peter, […]

    Magonia #7: Grimaldus and Chemical Warfare June 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Magonia #7: Grimaldus and Chemical Warfare

    There follows another extract from Agobard’s essay on thunder and hail. It is not actually linked in any way to Magonia: so why bother? Well, first, it is certainly bizarre and should be recorded on strangehistory. And, second, because many who have written on Magonia have undeservedly conflated the Tempestarii and this strange episode. A […]

    Magonia #6: Leland Sings Magonia June 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Magonia #6: Leland Sings Magonia

    Elizabeth Pennell writes in her memoirs of Charles Leland, the nineteenth-century folklorist and alleged bullshitter: He got well over the gout in the spring and summer of 1891, as he travelled by easy stages several weeks at Via Reggio, Geneva, Homburg to London for his last visit there. He went on with his Heine [the […]

    Vision Quest #3: Witch Lotions June 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Vision Quest #3: Witch Lotions

    An interesting witch case from fourteenth-century Italy with hints of hallucinogens. The following passages appear in the work of Bernard of Siena (aka Bernardino, and Bernardine) (obit 1444). This, btw, is before the witch craze really catches fire. It has several curious features. I having preached of these charms and of witches and of sorceries, […]

    Jasper and Butternuts on the Edges of Vinland June 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Jasper and Butternuts on the Edges of Vinland

    ***Dedicated to Wade*** Jasper is a silica stone that was used by our ancestors both as a decoration and as a form of primitive match. Because of its fire-making properties jasper is often found in archaeological digs. A nice example of this is the dozen odd pieces of jasper that have been discovered over the […]

    Magonia #5: What’s In A Name? June 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Magonia #5: What's In A Name?

    One significant part of the Magonia puzzle that Beach has not yet troubled with is the name. Surely there should be a clue in those four syllables as to what Magonia really was? Well, there have been, suitably enough, four theories that have been put forward, over the years, to explain what the word ‘Magonia’ […]

    Nine Historical Mysteries June 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Nine Historical Mysteries

    ***Dedicated to Moonman*** Thanks to an email from an old friend of StrangeHistory Beach found himself wondering about moments from history that are mysterious, and where this blogger would chop off his own digits to get at the truth. In what follows, he has avoided the classics because, to be frank, he just doesn’t care […]

    Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night June 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night

    Beach has been lucky with his reading recently. It began with Dennis Gaffen’s Running with the Fairies, passed on to Chris Woodyard’s Face in the Window and Emma Wilby’s Cunning Folk and then there was a jump back in time with Mike Dash’s Borderlands. Another excellent addition to his library has been David J.Hufford’s The […]

    Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips June 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips

    Back to Magonia. Agobard leaves no space for doubt: in early medieval popular tradition there are sky boats and these sky boats are connected with a magical land named Magonia. Now after reviewing the evidence for Agobard himself, a crusty old sceptic, and looking too at the folklore traditions about European hail medicine (Beach would […]

    Vision Quest #2: The Rainbow Enema May 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Vision Quest #2: The Rainbow Enema

    How could a ‘serious’ bizarrist ignore  Brian Stross and Justin Kerr’s 1990 exploratory article ‘Notes on the Mayan Vision Quest by Enema’? After all, in this piece the two intrepid Meso-American scholars make the case that enemas were used to pump hallucinogenic substances into the bodies of Mayan visionaries. And the image above (and the […]

    Magonia #3: The Tempestarii May 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Magonia #3: The Tempestarii

    After a few days delay, back to Magonia… Agobard’s reference to Magonia is often quoted, in translations of variable quality. But far less attention is paid to his references in the same text (‘Contra insulsam vulgi opinionem de grandine et tonitruis’) to tempestarii or stormy-ones: In these parts [i.e. what is today southern France] almost […]

    Review: Borderlands May 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Borderlands

    In 1997 Mike Dash brought out a five-hundred-page whopper entitled Borderlands. This book, that somehow completely passed Beach by for fifteen years, is, to use the word of one reader, a ‘small ‘s’ skeptical approach to Forteana’: lengthy examinations of earth magnetism, UFOlogy and other disciplines that survive on the margins of modern science. What […]

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