The making of magical money

I’ve been looking through my books on magic again. I think this post is more bunny fodder than something I’m going to use in my fantasy romance world building. Still I thought I’d share.

(I will admit to The Enc. of 5000 Spells being addictive…as well as weighty 😀 )

This time it’s tips to work into money spells that caught my interest:

Colours: Green and Gold.  (I think this being a US book, it’s defaulting on cash colour.  For a Gaslight Romance would it be white, for those vast sheets of white fivers? 😉 )

Numbers: 2. To hold the idea of doubling and increasing.

Planets: Jupiter. As the planet of good fortune. The Moon. As the body of magic and wish fulfilment. Mercury. For the Roman god of prosperity.

Timing: Spells should be performed under a waxing moon.

And now I have the start of another bunny. Damn those white fivers…

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What do you do again…?

On my hunt to flesh out a fantasy city, I need to people it.  I need trades and jobs from the past, which will make it sound more authentic.  Here are a few I’ve come across in my hunt:

Malkin: A medieval female kitchen worker.

Skep Maker: A maker of beehives.

Puggera: One–usually a child–who treads clay into paste.

Cutty: A wanton and/or short woman.

Lidster: A dyer

Fistic: A bare knuckle fighter.

And the one I’d most like to be: Concher: One who smoothes chocolate.

Ref: A Dict. of Old Trades, Titles and Occupation.

Useful omens

Research has dragged me off into divination. Yes, I’m a shiny information magpie. 😀

Divination–the art of getting future information in the present–works, as does other magics, on the idea of synchronicity. Carl Jung called it ‘…an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.’. Synchronicity rejects the idea of coincidence. As in events happening at the same time could reveal something about each other.

In divining, questions have to be precise. Writing them down enables an easier comparison later. And there are numerous ways to seek and find those answers.

Lunar Divination is a simple form. Stare at the moon, pose the question in your mind and keep staring, until the answers and inspiration come.

The I Spy Oracle needs a touch more preparation. It’s a Scottish spell that can only be performed on the first Monday of the month, before sunrise, on an empty stomach and with bare feet.

Walk sunwise–clockwise–around the house, with your eyes shut until you’re back at the entrance again. With your eyes still shut make a circle with your finger and thumb and put it to your eye. Open your eye and the omen is the first thing you see.

Hmm, I could see that one being open to abuse… Yes, I am actively ignoring the plot bunny. 😀

Of course there are a plethora of love oracles. The classic is  “He loves me. He loves  me not.”

My favourite has to be asking your love question from Apple Peel. The skin is cut away in one, long coil. If not complete, start again. When finished, the peel is thrown over the left shoulder without looking.  When it lands, the shape of the peel should offer inspiration to the love question you asked.

And I really like the idea of Tongue Stones. I think it’s the name. It simply brims with possibility… 🙂 These are small meteorites, strange rocks or found artefacts. The stones are sacred and not meant for trivial use.

Finding an answer involves smearing the stone with animal fat at nighttime.  Then bury the stone under a mound of grass and earth. Pee on the little hill and let the tongue stone rest over night. The next morning, dig it up.

If the stone is greasy, whatever you have asked an answer for should be a success. Dry and rough and it won’t succeed.  Reddish marks would show that your plan is dangerous. And if muck and grass stick, then whatever you plan will find success, just not in the way you thought…

I think my heroine will have a tongue stone. I can’t resist it. Not the classic type, though. Possibly something a little more sentient…

Reference: Enc. of 5000 Spells

Dragons, Wyverns and Worms… oh my!

I sort of fell away for a bit there. Sorry. School holidays started and double edits caught me. 😉

Dragons have taken up my research time the past few weeks.  I have the start of the story that I love and I’ve been writing it my notebook at bus stops, on buses and waiting for the hobbits at their various clubs.

Hopefully no one has been reading over my shoulder… I can only hope my appalling handwriting has kept them innocent of the dark and dirty nastiness spidering across the page. 😀

I’m still deciding on the structure of my dragon society, so I poked around my books, trying to decide what…attributes my dragon hero should have.  Here are a couple.

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Winging it ?

I think wings were a given. I’ve had far too much fun in the past with a hero and his wings. Still, I uncovered some wingless, serpent varieties of dragon. Large snakes are the possible start of dragon evolution, or as serpent-like dragons are often associated with water, crocodiles, with the unnerving way they snake through water.

The tale of the Lambton Worm is a medieval myth from north east England.  John Lambton, a dissolute heir, ignored church and piety to go fishing one Sunday.  He caught a creature with the face of a devil and threw the thing down a well.  Scared into atoning, he went off to the Holy Land, unknowingly leaving the representation of his former wickedness to ravage the countryside.

He returned and was forced to tackle the huge worm in a suit of spiked armour.  Killing it in a fast flowing river, so it couldn’t reform–the part of the story I remember from when I was small from a book with very gory pictures!–he then had to kill the first thing he saw after to stop a curse falling on his family. Unfortunately, it was his father, but rather than kill him, he killed his old dog.  The curse fell and the Lambton heirs met tragic ends for nine generations.

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Two legs or four?

I’m undecided on this, how much of dragon my hero will become, what his exact final form will take.  I looked at Lindorms–two-legged, but wingless–and Wyverns–two-legged with wings.  A Lindorm story jumped out at me.

Lindorms really like Sweden and a myth from there as another bunny hopping about in my brain.  I really should stop this looking in books thing… lol

A Swedish queen met a fortune teller and the old woman told her that she would produce heirs within a year if she ate two onions.  Excited, the queen ate the first onion whole, skin and all.  It was foul.  So she carefully peeled the next one.

Nine months on–yes, onions are very potent :D–the queen gave birth.  The first child was hideous, a lindorm, coiled, scaled with taloned legs.  She threw the dragon-like creature from the window into the thick forest below.  Her second son was born, a perfect child.

The second son grew and discovered the lindorm in the forest.  The creature said he would never find love and a bride before, he, his older brother found a woman willing to be his wife.  None were willing.  Until a girl, one forced to present herself to the lindorm, found the fortune-teller who gave her a set of specific instructions.

So the girl stood before the lindorm in a number of dresses.  For each dress she removed, she asked that the Lindorm remove a layer of his skin.  Finally, she stood naked before him, and he coiled his body around her, warm and smooth and she could  that the almost translucent final layer of scaled skin was withering away.  She stayed calm, believing what the old woman had told her, that she would find happiness with the lindorm.

Green mist enveloped them and she found herself wrapped in the arms of  the most beautiful man she had ever seen.  The girl was more than willing to be his wife and ultimately his queen with that discovery.

The fortune-teller had one final word for the old swedish queen.  She really should peel onions before she ate them…

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(I love the last part of the story!)

My hunt for my hero’s dragon qualities continues, so more dragon-related posts may appear down the line.  He’ll no doubt be powerful and irresistible, startlingly beautiful with a fierce flare of fire.

So…just your basic dragon, then.

Crocodile dung…and you’re putting it *where*?!

A little bit of a quandary this week had me hunting out methods for female contraception in a pre-industrial society.  Who says writing isn’t fun and interesting!

The oldest known medicial text, the Kahun Papyrus — almost 4000 years old — has the suggestion of plugging the vagina with a paste of honey and sodium carbonate or that of crocodile dung and sour milk.  The first plug could impede sperm.  The second could absorb sperm or act simply as  a plug.  Though possibly the smell would be off putting enough!

Since my heroine doesn’t have access to crocodile or elephant dung–another recommended contraception for its acidic qualities–I’ll have to go with something less exotic and distinctly less smelly.

Making a lint plug with ground acacia leaves–which has an effective spermicide in lactic acid–and honey is another option, though still, fiddly.

I ran across other contraceptives, such as olive oil, cedar resin…and the ancient Greek preference for white lead is a little scary.  I needed something easier, an oral contraception.  Something my heroine  could take in preparation for seducing a man.

The Greek physician, Dioscorides, listed a number of plants to act as an oral contraceptive, such as juniper, pennyroyal and wild carrot.  Proven effective by recent testing, these plants could have dangerous side effects. Which is probably why plugs and pastes were popular.   With the lead…

Jumping across the Atlantic, Cherokee women chewed and swallowed spotted cowbane and  Shosone women a ‘desert tea’ which was an infusion of stoneseed.

With all of this, I can play with plants and rituals to perfect my scene and protect my heroine. Tea, I like.  Holding a cup, the warmth of the ceramic against her skin, breathing in the scent of the steam. And her nerves as she knows what lies ahead…

Can’t wait to write it!

Criminal Magic?

I’m still mooching about exploring magic systems for my wip Fury and ran across this bit of interesting history. 🙂

Romans believed in the power of song.  It could cast a curse or cure, that power becoming written into their first laws.

Rome created a code of law in the Twelve Tables that bound the needs of the privileged and the common people together.  The Twelve Tables covered, the rights of the paterfamilias over his family, inheritance, debt and the right of the privileged to rule.  It also covered injuries, and in some laws, injury through magical incantations.

Ancient writers referred back to the Tables, quoting them as clearly saying that the act of uttering an evil song, a spell or curse, of malum carmen could find that man or woman being clubbed to death for their crime. To be honest, most crimes in Table VIII–covering crimes of personal injury– carried a death sentence. Tough times…

There were also curing songs. Cato wrote of a particular cantio, a pure magic, a healing incantation that helped with dislocated limbs, mixed with the support of reeds and bandages.  The song had to be sung every day over the patient and they, with the combination of both remedies, would be cured.

I like–and will probably play with–the idea that magic, the song or carmen, wasn’t inherently evil.  That the crime was the intent to use magic to do harm, for example to spirit away a neighbour’s harvest or to grow rich at the expense of others.

Or in my characters’ case, to twist magic into a more… libidinous crime. 😀

Help with getting the words down…

Today I’ve been good and written 2 blog posts–I’m up to 19 July with the Preternatural Bites and Cosmic Chatter posts.  Expect something on ancient contraception and biopunk in the near future 😀 They’re surprisingly fun to write.  Surprising as I’ve always run away from writing research posts.

I’ve also–finally–finished the ritual sex scene in Frequency. Having X-men 1 running in the background on a loop has helped.  Can’t imagine why… *whistles*