The Miskatonic Files

A web series called The Miskatonic Files? Yes, please.

You can support them on IndieGoGo, or hit them up on Facebook.

What’s that? You’re afraid that if you support any Cthulhu-related project, you will no doubt go insane from the eldritch revelations that such a project will bring to light, secrets that were best left hidden in the outer darkness?

Fear not! For I, Professor Awesome, will protect you with a remedy found in a 9th century manuscript, Leechbook III (Royal 12.D.xvii), a potion against both devils and insanity. Entry lxiv, as translated by T.O. Cockayne in his Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England:

Put into ale cassuck [hassock], roots of lupin, fennel, ontre [radish], betony, hindheal [water agrimony], marche, rue, wormwood, nepeta, helenium, elfthone [nightshade], wolfs comb [wild teasel]]; sing twelve masses over the drink, and let the man drink it, it will soon be well with him.


Pope Francis Knows about Second Breakfast

Billy Kangas over at Patheos unearthed a message Pope Francis gave in 2008 using Lord of the Rings to illustrate his point. The relevant part, translated via Google Translate:

Mankind always conceived as a way of life; man as a traveler who, when born is started, and throughout its existence, meets people or situations that put back on track (sometimes with a mission, others with a crisis). In the Bible this reality is constant: Abraham is called to stand in the way “without knowing where he was going”; God’s people sets out to free the Egyptians. So in the history or mythology of other peoples Aeneas, to the destruction of Troy, overcomes the temptation to stay and rebuild the city, taking his father slippers, begins the climb up the mountain whose end shall be the foundation of Rome . Other mythological stories show the human journey and return home to the primordial belonging. So if Ulysses or so poetically expressed by Hölderlin in his Ode on the return home. Tolkien, in contemporary literature, takes Bilbo and Frodo in the image of man who is called to walk and heroes know and act, walking the drama going on between good and evil. The “man on the road” implies a dimension of hope; “Enter” hope. Throughout human history and mythology that man is not a still, stagnant being, but “on track”, called “vocado”-hence the term vocation, and when you enter this dynamic stresses then vanishes as a person or corrupted. Moreover, the set off is rooted in an inner restlessness that impels man to “get out of it”, to experience the “exodus of itself.” There is something outside and in us that calls us to perform the way. Exit, walk, conduct, accepting the open and give the shelter … this is the way.

Jean de Meun’s Fortune-Telling Dice

Apparently Jean de Meun, a medieval writer most famous for writing the continuation of The Romance of the Rose, wrote a fortune-telling manual that used 12-sided dice called The Dodechedron of Fortune. The Folger Library has an English-language version, including a sample page of fortunes.  From reading the descriptions of other scholars, it looks like Jean based his 12 on the 12 signs of the zodiac.

No word yet on the location of Jean de Meun’s Monster Manual or Fiend Folio.


[For medieval scholars: Looks like it might be covered a bit in a special session at the International Congress on Medieval Studies this Friday at 1:30. Session 239, Fetzer 2040. I already had that marked in my own program even before I knew they were covering this.]

Árstíðir’s “Heyr Himna Smiður”

Árstíðir  sings Kolbeinn Tumason’s “Hear, Heavenly Smith,” a very early 13th century Icelandic hymn (though the music was composed by modern musician Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson). Check out how casual they are — the one singer doesn’t even put down his beer the whole time.

Here’s an English translation (from Counterpoint Cafe):

Listen, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
your mercy.
So I call on thee,
for you have created me.
I am thy slave,
you are my Lord.

God, I call on thee to heal me.
Remember me, mild one,
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.