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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

black cats and magic potions

I am doing some work on one of my manuscripts which involve the words death - cat and black in no particular order.

So I have been looking at cat things, particularly their association with witches. There is no doubt that was this the mid fourteenth century, I would definitely be considered a witch. Come on! The black cat (a familiar) - see Nancy above- who is one of a long string of black cats that I've had.

 The toads - a handy source of ingredient for magic potions
 The bird  ..............

 Maybe going to collect the post in my bird head started the odd rumour. But I rest my case.

One book I came across (published quite a while ago) was aimed at children, a sort of mix of fact about medieval magic and witches and "how to make" pages.
 How to dress as a witch.
How to make a shaman's mask.
How to make your own hex doll.

Where was the how to make your own spell? How to make your own invisibility cloak?
I expect health and safety would call in all those books if they could be bothered to trawl through the second hand bookshops and charity stalls.

Still, as Beezle (oddly not photographed this time- but search previous posts for endless reference pics.) and Goethe would say " Magic is believing in yourself, if you do that, you can make anything happen."

Anyway reading all that stuff made me think I could write a new story about a witch or a wizard who goes to a magical boarding school and carries a wand and wears an invisibility cloak. What do you think? I'm not sure it would be very successful. But I could present it to twelve publishers who will all turn it down.

Meanwhile with my new magic potion skills I've grown these stunning tulips

Another book I've been looking at - well listening to it on the radio - is Chris Packham's autobiography "Fingers in the Sparkle Jar." It is an amazingly honest account of his life. He was born in Southampton as was I and he used to fish for tadpoles etc on Southampton Common. It brought back all these similar memories of doing exactly the same thing. I had completely forgotten about the ornamental lakes on Southampton Common. As a special treat, on my mother's birthday, we would go to a stream in the New Forest where I'd collect caddis fly larvae and minnows and other strange aquatic things and put them in  a jamjar to take home to my Animal Hotel. We also got to eat Mum's birthday cake she made each year - sponge with jam and icing. I remember her sitting in a deck chair by the stream smoking a cigarette to keep away the midges. She didn't actually smoke but she lit the cigarette anyway. My parents kept cigarettes in a wooden ornamental box to hand out to guests who came to the house for drinks or supper. I think everyone smoked or pretended to in those days. She was a good sport and as far as I know never did anything untoward with a toad.

Nancy, who perhaps I should re-name Pyewacket. 

Black Cat

Rainer Maria Rilke1875 - 1926

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:
just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.
She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once
as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

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