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  • Fairy Wind Rescue Spell March 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Wind Rescue Spell

    Location: West Ireland Aim: To rescue a man, woman or child captured by the fairies as they ride by in their fairy breeze: note that in Ireland it was commonly believed that the fairies travelled across the country is winds, typically whirling winds. Ingredients: A fairy wind, some dirt. Method: Ireland 1808 (Neilson 1808) (i) […]

    Are Weasels Poisonous? March 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Are Weasels Poisonous?

    A few weeks ago Beach offered a description of fairy traditions from Marrie Walsh’s An Irish country Childhood (1996). While reading he was also struck by this tradition about weasels. What is fascinating here is that the weasel is given (in a country where snakes are in short supply) the role normally given in European […]

    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland? March 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland?

    It is the most extraordinary inscription. This mill-stone rock, which once stood on the top of Tory Hill in County Kilkenny in Ireland, has been taken as proof of Carthaginian contact and settlement or at least trade with Ireland in antiquity. The words clearly read (give or take some distorted letters) Beli Dinose, a reference to […]

    Index Biography #39: Prize a book February 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern

    ***David B gets it, scroll down for answer**** The Index Biography is a quiz pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered up previously […]

    Three Sheep Killers: 1904-1905 February 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Three Sheep Killers: 1904-1905

    When we experience unusual phenomenon then, of course, our filters are almost as important as the phenomenon itself. Take a series of sheep killing cases that recently made quite an impression on Beach. The narrative breaks down into three sections: Mystery, Mystery Solved, Perception. Each of these in three parts: a, b and c. The […]

    Immortal Meals #32: Molecular Gastronomy, 1910? February 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #32: Molecular Gastronomy, 1910?

    In December 1910 a Dr. Stillman, head of the laboratory at the Stevens Institute of Technology, New York, decided to offer some lucky guests a synthetic meal: ‘On the side table were test tubes, bunsen burners, retorts, bottles of various reagents, and so forth.’ Do we glimpse here the beginning of molecular gastronomy? The menu […]

    Prayer Book Marriage Spell February 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Prayer Book Marriage Spell

    Location: Magic spells for determining future husbands and wives are to be found throughout Britain. But spells usually involve church porches. This spell with a prayer book is only to be found in the English west country. Aim: To see your future spouse. Ingredients: table, fire, food, drink, prayer book, attractive partner. Method: West Country Spell […]

    Working Class Professors in the Nineteenth Century February 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Working Class Professors in the Nineteenth Century

    Imagine that you are born in the industrial heartlands of England to a working class family in the mid nineteenth-century. Aged six you are already sent out to earn a crust: let’s say you have to drive a donkey for a cruel master. You never get an education worth the name and still by your […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Wealth February 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Wealth

    Sewer stories… Several years ago a little German Jew, named Schwartz, believing that in the sewers of New York might be found many articles of value which had been lost, entered them, and for three days wandered through the labyrinth. He was very successful, picking up some 27,000 dols. worth of jewellery, spoons, forks, &c.; […]

    The Kentish Baboon February 20, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Kentish Baboon

    Here is an unusual story from Great Chart, Kent, UK. It is 1858. On Saturday evening week a person in the employ of Mr. E. Greenhill, at Bucksford-farm, Great Chart, was startled by the sudden apparition of what appeared to him to be an extraordinary kind of animal, resembling a large baboon, in one of […]

    The Witch Bottle Spell February 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Witch Bottle Spell

    Location: The witch bottle spell seems to have been used against witchcraft throughout much of early modern and modern Europe. Aim: To free a human victim from a witch’s spell by attacking the witch. Ingredients: A bottle, fire, and then various other objects including urine, nails, pins, salt and thatch. Method Ridgewell, Essex (Anon 1859) […]

    Radio Before Radio February 18, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Radio Before Radio

    Many moons ago Beach ran an article on telephony, the use of telephones as a kind of primitive music radio. Essentially telephone owners would subscribe to a ‘channel’ and would then phone into said channel to listen to shows: those of us old enough to remember the speaking clock or telephone weather forecasts were listening to […]

    Irish Fairies in the 1930s: Marrie Walsh February 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Fairies in the 1930s: Marrie Walsh

    How long did fairy beliefs survive in different parts of Ireland? And how well did these beliefs survive? In some senses the question should be easy to answer. After all, Ireland has the most detailed folklore records in the world. But unfortunately Irish folklorists were, after independence, more interested in folklore tales and tale types […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: Familiar Robbers February 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Familiar Robbers

    This is a cute story from the States, picked up by an Irish newspaper in 1873. Whether this story is true or false we do not know; but it is said here that recently in the parish of St. Martin, Iberia, or somewhere down that way, an old widow lady, whose children had all married […]

    Poker Wallet February 14, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Poker Wallet

    This poker story comes from an extremely rare poker book that has, unfortunately, never been scanned and put online, John Lillard’s Poker Tales. It is perhaps the best collection of poker anecdotes the world has seen and dates to 1896: A certain very well known New Jersey politician – an old man, whose fame extends […]

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