Tag Archives: Weird History

Peculiar Customs

The world is full of weirdness, full of things that could be injected (without modification) into a Fantasy/New Weird novel or short story without breaking stride, and by using customs like these a world becomes fleshed out, and far more real.

The past is a foreign country, as they say, and while the world is a weird place now, it used to be even weirder…

Creeling the Bridegroom  is a good example of weird customs from the past. Coming from Medieval Scotland (and practised until the beginning of the 19th century), creeling the bridegroom was a custom where the husband-to-be was tested by his future parents-in-law – by carrying a sack of rocks around their village until his bride decided he had had enough, and told him so with a kiss. The bride could also be ‘creeled’ but in a different fashion – a chamber pot was filled, with salt, coals, and a piece of silver, which may sound useful to us, but were useful to the Scots for other reasons…salt was not only used to bless the home, and to keep out faeries and the like, but also as an aphrodisiac (Old Scots saying: Fond o’ salt? Fond o’ the lasses!)

The Scots give us other wedding rituals that might seem strange to us, such as the tradition of getting married at Grenta Green (an estimated 1 in 6 Scottish weddings take place in this town) – Grenta Green became such a famous site for weddings because, after a change of laws in England, people under the age of 21 required parental consent to marry, whereas in Scotland you could marry from the age of 14. So you would run away there, to get married, usually in front of a blacksmith, rather than a priest.

Another weird old thing from Scotland – these dolls, found in a rocky outcropping near Edinburgh, now known as ‘fairy coffins’. They were found, in various states of undress, all the clothing hand-stitched. They remind me of votive offerings.

Scotland, eh? Weirdos.

I’ll be coming back to more peculiar customs around the world, soon.

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Sorcerers, Magicians, and Warlocks – What’s the Difference?

We are a bit spoiled for choice, in the English language. When we need a word, and another language has one that’ll do the job, we’re quite happy to appropriate it – words like schadenfreude, or (my personal favourite) l’espirit de escalier (“the spirit of the staircase”, which is the French term for that moment that you come up with a cunning riposte, moments (or hours) after it’s too late.


But, crucially for the discussion I’m about to have with myself, and that you can see right here, right now, on the screen of the device of your choice, is about synonyms. And then we’ll get into the cool stuff people should put into their fantasy novels bit. That’s coming, I promise. And this little bit about synonyms leads directly into it.

It’s not much of a tangent.

Now, the synonym group that I want to talk about in particular are words that are related to practitioners of magic.  Continue reading

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Spring-heeled Jack

This is the second post in a (currently) short-running series on weird things from history that I want to see in Fantasy/New Weird/Steam Punk stories. Get on that, ok?

Here’s the first: SPANKO!

And here’s the second: Spring-heeled Jack.

We are continuing the theme of weird assailants from London – Spring-heeled Jack sprung up during the Victorian era, rather than the Restoration, but he was much more elusive than the Whipping Toms. He was probably much more invented than those three men though…

Continue reading

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