Did you hear the one about the sailors who landed on an island, built a campfire and then got blown sky-high by a geyser? No? How about the sailors who landed on an island, built a campfire and then the whole island did a deep-dive, taking them with it?
These are just a couple of tales that made the rounds in the middle ages and both are based on the misconception that whales like to float at the surface of the water and so accumulate sand on their backs; sailors in turn mistake the whales for islands and when they make camp, may either find themselves unceremoniously caught up in the whale’s blow-hole eruption or, more commonly, they make a campfire and when it gets too hot, it startles the whale into diving into the depths, taking the sailors with it to their deaths.
Another commonly-told story about the whale…
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JOAN OF ARC BRANDISHING HER SWORD AND WADING INTO BATTLE
“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it.”– Joan of Arc
Before writing this post, the little I knew of Joan of Arc wouldn’t fill a thimble. The information I was hoping to get from my old copy of The Book of Saints proved skimpy and too parochial for my purpose. Turning to film, I decided to watch (again) the two best known classics about the Maid–the colorful Joan of Arc (1948), starring the late Ingrid Bergman, and the silent masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1924), with the acclaimed Italian stage actress Renee Falconetti in the stark black-and-white title role. Their unedited versions had just been released, and I heard they were the nearest one could get to visualizing the real Joan. To be sure, there were other movies (some I…
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Zombies have been a mainstay of horror films and fiction for a long time. It’s not surprising to find out that they also had tales about them in the Norse sagas. There they were called draugr. I’ve been researching them since the draugr play a major part in my next book – Valda Goes Through Hel. Here are some fast facts about the Norse version of the undead.
Undead Sing the Blues
Although they were described sometimes as having pale flesh or skin as black as Hel, I think the scarier descriptions are those which tell about draugr with an evil blue skin color. The Norse were no strangers to living the rough life and we can expect they were intimately familiar with the various funky colors your skin can take on from various bruises and injuries. Imagine that sickly dark bluish tinge of a deep bruise…
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The Edda, a collection of poems from about four centuries, isn’t a “Germanic bible”, no doctrine, nobody attached truth to the stories, no priest taught from it, the Germanic people didn’t have holy books. Many last heathen Germanic people like the Icelandic farmers probably barely heared about the unfaithful Odin and certainly couldn’t honour him or see him as the peak of their religion. An “Edda-Faith” has never existed.