Love in the time of gods: Philemon and Baucis

philemon-and-baucisWhen it came to love, the ancient Greeks and Romans had it covered. Amidst their tales of sex, entrapment and betrayal comes my favourite tale of all time… and it’s a romance. Sure, there’s mass death in it too, but oh well.

From Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a story that borders Greek and Roman myth. This isn’t your average story of boy-meets-girl and gives her an ‘I Wuv You’ bear.

This is true love.


Philemon and Baucis

Disguised as humble travellers, Zeus, King of the Gods, and Hermes, walked the earthly realm, seeking comfort and rest. They approached a thousand houses, and a thousand houses bolted their doors against them, unwilling to offer shelter.

Growing angry and despairing of the nature of humankind, the two gods approached one last dwelling. It was a humble shack, roofed with reeds and stems from the nearby marsh. It belonged to the aged Baucis and equally old Philemon, a married couple of meagre means. They had been wedded in the cottage in their younger years, and grown old together.

It was this house that received them gladly, welcoming the disguised travellers and making light of their poverty by acknowledging it, and bearing it without discontent of mind. Continue reading

Occult October | Fearsome Faeries

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Fairies? How can fairies be scary? Well, the type of Fae I’m talking about aren’t your average Disney Tinkerbells. The collective term ‘Fae’ covers all manner of creatures in ancient myths, from hobgoblins, to kelpies, to bloodthirsty giants. Although Ireland is probably the most famed country for homing these capricious, dangerous and downright deadly creatures, Fae can be found all over the world, from the Indian djinn to the Canadian Matshishkapeu. Continue reading

Occult October | Zoophagous Zombies

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Zombies are enjoying a resurgence in popularity of late, with films, books and TV shows dedicated to them in global media. It’s thought that books, television and films tend to swing from one supernatural creature to the next on a cycle of about fifteen years. In recent times, there have been Witches (Charmed, Harry Potter), Vampires (Twilight, The Vampire Diaries), and now it’s the turn of the zombie (The Walking Dead, iZombie).

But where does the idea of a shambling, grunting (or walking and talking) corpse come from? What makes them so fascinating that they secure a spot in this supernatural cycle? Where does the legend of the zombie come from? And are we really, as the Daily Mail claimed in 2015, destined to submit to a zombie apocalypse? Continue reading

Occult October | Wicked Witches

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From the Three Witches in Macbeth to the green-skinned Elfaba in West End’s Wicked, witches have been a source of curiosity for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. Whilst not many have warty noses and very few are crushed by falling houses from Kansas, real witches – of a type – still exist today. Wicca, for example, is a religion that welcomes the practice of magic but does not insist upon it. Modern witches ignite the imagination just as much today as their predecessors ever did. So, is magic to be revered? Or feared? Continue reading

Occult October | Vicious Vampires

occult-october_vampiresVampires have been thrilling us since the middle ages. Before Jonathan Harker made his fateful trip to Transylvania, peasants across Europe were taking part in bizarre burial rituals to make sure their loved ones didn’t pay them an unwanted nighttime visit. These included headstones to weigh down coffin lids, nailing the deceased’s clothes to the inside of the coffins and – yes – staking them through the heart… just as a precaution. Continue reading