Toad Magic

Toad Magic

Toads have long been associated with magic, as witches’ familiars and as a source both of poison as folk healing. We begin with a poison allegedly brewed from a toad by the “wise wife of Keith,” Agnes Sampson, one of the accused in Scotland’s North Berwick witch trials in 1591-2. The poison was to have …

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Slavic Mermaids: Water Ghosts and Goblins

Slavic Mermaids: Water Ghosts and Goblins

Quite distinct from their Western equivalent, Slavic mermaids might better be described as water ghosts, as they are almost always the spirits of departed females, while their male equivalent takes the form of a water goblin or water sprite.  The Russian word for mermaid is rusalka (rusalki pl.) and male creature is a vodyanoy.  Similar …

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Shirts Available: Order by May 22

Shirts Available: Order by May 22

In celebration of our 2nd anniversary, we’ve produced this shirt featuring our old “mascot,” that is, an image of the relics 14th-century Austrian, St. Notburga.  All shirts are on black, naturally. Preorder ends MAY 22.  We may or may not do another run, so please order now if you’d like one. ALL SHIRTS WILL SHIP BETWEEN …

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Holy Puppets, Medieval Robots, and More

Holy Puppets, Medieval Robots, and More

This episode looks at puppets given life through magical or mechanical means, holy puppets of the Catholic Church, medieval robots, an early automata of gothic literature, some related films, and an Alpine sex puppet that only puts up with so much. We begin at the end of Carolo Collodi’s  original Pinocchio story, or at least …

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A Journal of the Plague Year

A Journal of the Plague Year

The Great Plague of London of 1665 to 1666 is vividly portrayed in Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, which we’ll be examining closely in this episode.  As the text is quite entertaining (much more so than his better known Robison Crusoe) we’ll be hearing more extensive quotes from the material than usual, delivered …

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The Plague Doctor Unmasked

The Plague Doctor Unmasked

The figure of the masked plague doctor is an object of intense fascination but also the subject of much misinformation. This episode sorts things out while seeking particular evidence for such handsomely dressed character in the historical record. We begin with a few clips from horror films in which plague doctors figure, including the 2008 …

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Banshees

Banshees

Banshees are spirits of Irish folklore, who warn of impending deaths.  Originally considered fairies, their Irish name, bean sídhe, means “woman of the mounds,” those mounds (sídhe) being the ancient burial mounds believed in Ireland to be the home of fairies. The banshee’s wailing, which betokens imminent death of a blood relative, is probably based upon the wailing of …

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Dead Teeth: Fairies, Rats, and Worms

Dead Teeth: Fairies, Rats, and Worms

Explore the folklore of the Tooth Fairy and teeth, particularly dead teeth — those lost by children or adults, and those removed from skulls. We open with a brief look at the Tooth Fairy as inspiration for horror films, hearing a bit about (and a montage of clips from) Darkness Falls (2003), The Tooth Fairy …

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