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  • Soul-Selling in Nineteenth-Century London May 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Soul-Selling in Nineteenth-Century London

    Another soul-selling episode from London, this time c. 1840: more entertaining and yet so much more disturbing. On Friday night a large number of thieves, prostitutes, and other blackguards residing in the vicinity of Westminster Abbey, collected in the churchyard belonging [to] that venerable building. They began to congregate soon after eleven o’clock at night, […]

    Brunelleschi’s Cruellest Practical Joke May 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Brunelleschi's Cruellest Practical Joke

    Beach has recently been wondering about the potential for putting together a collection of practical jokes from history. A particular favourite is the joke played by the brilliant Florentine architect, Filippo Brunelleschi (picture) and a gang of rowdies, c. 1409. It comes down to us in various versions collectively known as the Novella del Grasso […]

    Magonia #1: Introducing a Medieval Cloud Cuckoo Land May 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Magonia #1: Introducing a Medieval Cloud Cuckoo Land

    ‘Magonia’ is a word that sends thrills down many spines. It is, of course, the name of a magical medieval land hidden from mortal man. It has been jumped on by modern UFO researchers as an example of early contact: skyboats were said to fly out of Magonia. Jacques Vallée wrote Passport to Magonia (1969 […]

    In Search of the Science Behind Misleading Wisps May 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    In Search of the Science Behind Misleading Wisps

    Beach has covered, on previous occasions, stories of will o’th’ wisps (never know how to spell that damn word/words) and lights that apparently have a mind of their own. First, it is worth making a division between memorates (experiences) and folk-lore. Memorates often include descriptions of being out on this or that moor and running […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: August Gissler’s Cocos May 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Forgotten Kingdoms: August Gissler's Cocos

      When August Gissler (obit 1935) became, at last, governor of Cocos Island, off Costa Rica, in 1897, he was not interested in the tiny and transient population of tobacco growers there, most of whom he had brought over from his home country. The German was obsessed, instead, by the vast quantites of gold (allegedly) […]

    The Boggarts of Royde and Royd May 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Boggarts of Royde and Royd

    Today, an almighty confusion of boggarts: the fairy-shape-shifting-ghosts that haunt the south Pennines and the North West of England. Ellen Royde is a gentile house, now used as a health clinic, in the Lower Calder Valley at Elland near Halifax. There, in the garden, was a boggart chair, some kind of seat or structure, suggesting […]

    Dowry Fossil May 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Dowry Fossil

      A wrong time post… There are few things in history as fascinating as the archaic customs that have been handed down from generation to generation and that survive in our societies like the tail-bone’s pointy edge on our spines. A particular Beachcombian favourite is the dowry. Civilisations basically fall into three categories here: those […]

    Halley’s Comet and the Generations! May 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
     Halley's Comet and the Generations!

    ***Dedicated to Larry who got me interested in this and provided, through his emails and forwards, much of the information*** It recently struck Beach that Halley’s comet would be a perfect measure of the continuity of knowledge in ancient and medieval civilizations. After all, here is a comet that returns every 75 (and a bit) […]

    Lawrence’s Missing Tree May 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Lawrence's Missing Tree

    D.H.Lawrence, the high priest of love, the enemy of the bourgeoisie (and their closest ally), an indifferent stylist, a brilliant novelist and the man our great grandmothers prayed that they would not be seated next to at a dinner party. DHL had a lifelong, masturbatory relationship with Italy: a country that was, in his mythology, […]

    Soul Selling in Eighteenth-Century London May 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Soul Selling in Eighteenth-Century London

    A melancholy day today and so Beach thought that he would enjoy some soul-selling. We are in eighteenth-century London and in the middle of one of those stories that are a little difficult to credit. A young maid, who lived formerly at Kensington, but, removing from thence, lived in St. Martin’s le Grand, London, being […]

    Witches and Brambles May 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Witches and Brambles

    This is a summary borrowed from Owen Davies’ excellent Witchcraft, Magic and Culture. In December 1924, Alfred John Matthews, aged forty-three, a small-holder of Clyst St Lawrence, Devon, appeared at the Cullhompton petty sessions for scratching and drawing blood from Ellen Garnsworthy, a middle-aged, married woman of the same village. Matthews had a sow which […]

    Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers May 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers

    There follows what may be the most boring post ever put up here. Apologies ahead of time: I tried to make the title as tedious as possible to keep thrillseekers and glue-sniffers away. First, some background. In the last two years I have published half a dozen academic articles that include or, in two cases, […]

    Astrology and Burning Cities May 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Astrology and Burning Cities

    Astrology was the one portion of occultism that survived, with its respectability intact, into the modern age. Indeed, up until, the eighteenth century there were those who insisted that astrology should be included among the natural sciences. Then, with the Enlightenment and the birth of modern astronomy, astrology took a dive in prestige from which […]

    Athens and Ghosts May 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Athens and Ghosts

      A month ago Beach published a story of a legal case between Irish tenant and landlord over a haunting. While typing the account out, while reading the emails about it and generally in that week, Beach had this strange déjà vu, nothing new under the sun feeling. He’d come across something similar before. Finally, his memory […]

    Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books May 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books

    Beach is presently reading an academic book that cost 105 dollars. There are 384 pages in said book, which means that purchasers will be expected to pay a little over 50 cents for each leaf of paper (front and back). Strangely, Beach is not bitter about the reading experience because (i) the book is a […]

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