Sunday, 31 October 2010


Sir William Dugdale (Life, Diary, and Correspondence of Sir W. Dugdale, edited by W. Hamper, 1827, p. 104) tells us that formerly, on Halloween, the master of the family used to carry a bunch of straw, fired, about his corn, saying:

"Fire and red low
              Light on my teen now."

This fire-straw, says a correspondent of N. & Q. (3rd S. vol. i. p. 316), was meant to ward off witchcraft, and so preserve the corn from being spoiled.  In Scotland, on Halloween, the red end of a fiery stick is waved about in mystic figures in the air to accomplish for the person the same spell.  Red appears to be a colour peculiarly obnoxious to witches.  One Halloween rhyme enjoins the employment of:

"Rowan tree and red thread, 
                   To gar the witches dance their dead ;"

i.e., dance till they fall down and expire.  The berries of the rowan-tree (mountain-ash) are of a brilliant red.  The point of the fiery stick waved rapidly takes the appearance of a  "red thread."

Source: British Popular Customs Present and Past, Illustrating the Social and Domestic Manners of the People, Arranged according to the Calendar of the Year, by the Rev. T. F. Thiselton-Dyer, M.A. Pembroke College, Oxon. London, George Bell & Sons, 1900

Friday, 29 October 2010


Shetland.    A  Shetlandic  proverb  remarkable  for  the  reiteration  of  the  word  " cood. "

A man considering himself unjustly blamed for not doing what he considered had been beyond his power, and so feeling aggrieved replied : 

" Foo cooda quin a coodna?
                 Cooda dae mair or a cood, cooda ?"

(Eng. " How could I when I could not ?  Could I do more than I could, could I ? ")

Communicated to Mr. Black by Mr. A. K. WILLIAMSON, a native of Shetland.

Source: Country Folk-Lore Vol. III, Examples of printed folk-lore concerning the Orkney & Shetland Islands, collected by G. F. Black and edited by Northcote W. Thomas; published for the Folk-Lore Society by David Nutt, 57-59 Long Acre, London, 1903

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

26.10.2010 bis

Work in progress:
"Keeping my Mother Warm, with my Fathers Patience"

Process Documentation photograph
April 1st, 2010

My mother is a breast cancer survivor. 

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, and went through a successful removal operation, followed by one month of radiotherapy. Subsequent controls shower her to be "clean".
Yet, the consequences of having had breast cancer are enormous, and the physical and psychological distresses have left many wounds that are unwilling to heal. 
To this day, my mother suffers the consequences of being a breast cancer survivor, of being treated by many professional yet insensitive doctors, whose attitude and harsh words during her treatment have contributed to weakening her resolve to heal. 

For her family, the hardest aspect to accept is our apparent inability to help her heal - we still haven't given up.
My Father was her main caregiver. 

In November 2008, I started knitting a red scarf, with the aim to keep my mother warm: not with the scarf itself, but with the intention that goes into each stitch. Both my sister and my mother have contributed a few rows to this continuing work. 
It takes incredible amounts of patience to care, to heal, and to knit, patience my Father had in abundance. 
Thus I try to keep my mother warm, with my Fathers patience. 


Thousands March for Women's Day Off

Words by Paul Nikolov
Despite daunting weather conditions, an estimated 50,000 people took part in the Women's Day Off demonstration yesterday.

Some 50,000 people marched from Hallgrímskirkja to the foot of Arnarhóll in a show of solidarity and protest at the gender wage gap and other inequalities that still exist in the workplace between men and women. Women were encouraged to leave their jobs at 14:25 yesterday, to bring attention to the fact that a woman is still not paid for a full day's work. The gender gap varies from industry to industry, but the average in 2009 was about 10% in the capital area, and as high as 40% in the countryside, making the national average about 19.5%.

The first Women's Day Off was held in 1975, where women across the country were encouraged to leave their jobs early. Over time, the event has gathered more steam. Today, even the mayor of Reykjavík himself has encouraged the event, telling reporters last week, "In the fight against gender inequality, it is very important that the many voices of the women who work for the city of Reykjavík are heard and seen in this symbolic fashion."


The Red Thread
Monday, 25.10.2010 
Reykjavìk, Iceland
Mobile phone photographs
Rakel Sverrisdòttir

The Red Thread is a collaborative knitting project: a 225m long, red scarf, knitted by many hands. On Monday, 25th October 2010, The Red Thread was carried by women along the streets of Reykjavìk, as part of a protest march whose aim was to heighten awareness of violence against women. The Red Thread was drawn and wrapped between two official buildings(the Supreme Court and lower court)before being cut up and sold in pieces.

Information and Photographs courtesy Rakel Sverrisdòttir

Saturday, 16 October 2010



... The alder tree is a famous old magical tree apotropaic against witchcraft and the Devil. its twigs are out into the fields and stables by peasants as protection agains the Devil; the tree itself is devilish. (...) It is devilish because it generally grows in dark places in the woods or in marshland. As its wood is useless for mankind, it is assumed to belong to witches and demons. Alder wood quickly turns red, and this, it is said, is because the Devil uses it to beat up his grandmother, that is, his wife. So in folklore it is sometimes red. On the other hand, as always with this strange double aspect of apotropaic symbols, with alder twigs one can oneself beat up the Devil. He beats his wife with it, so you can use it to beat him. ...

Source: Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales, Revised Edition, by Marie-Louise von Franz; Shambhala, Boston&London, 1995; pg 320

From my Black Book:

dream in March 2010

... At certain point, there was understanding there will soon, within hours, be a war in the entire universe, triggered by warring factions on Earth (jihad). A cosmic change/shift causing great change and chaos on Earth. Stars turned into rings and some exploded. The powers that were kept locked in castles (energies) were about to be let lose. I ran to the basement, and started making a fetish that would avert the worst of the evil and fear, using branches, bundling them together. Binding them in red wool, I hung them on an ironing board. 

Further, from a dream in August 2010

Having diligently collected and wrapped individual branches in red wool, resulting in my work "Fetish", two nights prior to leaving for Iceland, I have the following dream:
I am instructed to take the red branches, to place them on a specific spot on a gravel road. The instructions are simple and clear.

The day before I leave for Iceland, I take the red branches to the specific place from my dream, resulting in the performance "Fetish".

Performance documentation
August 12th 2010

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

13.10.2010 Wearing Horns

Wearing Horns
15.27 / 15.35

13.10.2010 bis

Research on horns - deer


# 701: Deer were always considered magical creatures. The extrusion of horn from their heads was a symbol of powerful life force. Horned deer were the animal prototypes of the Horned God. Medieval wizards expressly preferred parchment made of deer skin for the writing of their letter amulets. Durham cathedral was founded on the site of an ancient deer shrine. Its name was originally Duirholm, the Meadow of the Deer. It was a pagan pilgrimage center for at least four centuries. - # 161: In Celtic tradition deer are frequently the means of taking souls to the otherworld. There are Celtic, Irish and Gaelic goddesses associated with them, such as Flidass, Goddess of Venery, who has a chariot drawn by deer. They are supernatural animals of the fairy world and are fairy cattle and messengers. Stag hunts often end in some supernatural situation. Deer skin and antlers were used as ritual ornaments and vestments.
# 454: The Deer is one of the foremost transformatory beasts in British mythology, especially in its form of the White Doe or White Stag, which is frequently an otherworldly messenger which hunters encounter, leading them ever deeper into the forest to unknown wonders. From the WhiteStag encountered by Pwyll to the White Hart which Galahad sees, betokening Christ, pagan and folklore traditions have asserted the beauty and mystical grace of this creature. Sadbh was enchanted into the form of a doe. Gilfaethwy, while Gwydion was changed into a stag. The human antlered figure has been a potent image from primeval times onwards, from the shaman-hunter and the Wild Huntsman in his form of Cernunnos, to the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance which is still danced every September - the time when the deer are in rut.



Research on the use of horns against evil/the evil eye

..We have seen how completely Isis, Artemis, and Diana were identical, and hence all three are habitually represented with the horned crescent, as their particular accompaniment or symbol: and further by the cow's head or cow's horns so often seen.

...Diana was called the "Mother of the World," strangely like the title given to the Babylonian Ishtar. The Egyptian priests styled the moon, whose personification was Isis, "The Mother of the Universe.
Domestic cattle were supposed to be under the special protection of Diana, hence we may well trace the extreme prevalence of amulets, symbolic of her attributes, upon horses. Diana was also identified through Artemis with the Greek Ilithya, the servant of Hera, and goddess of birth. She also was originally a moon-goddess, and the moon was always believed to exercise great influence on growth in general, but especially of children; so the attributes of Ilithya were passed on along with her moon-symbol, and consequently all those deities, ancient or modern, whose principal sign is the crescent, are looked upon as the special protectors of women and children against malign influence. The wearing of the crescent is a visible worship of the powerful being whose symbol it is, whether known as Isis, Parvati, Devaki, Kali, Bhavani, Artemis, Athena, Minerva, Diana or Madonna, who are all, as shown before, unam eandemque.

...Having sketched briefly the cult which may be called Isis-Diana worship, whose principal attributes were symbolised by the horned moon, we arrive at the conclusion that, to-day, horns, in one form or another, are of all objects the most common as amulets against the evil eye, whether affecting man or beast; so much so that it has at last come to be fully believed by Neapolitans that, in default of a horn of some shape in the concrete, the mere utterance of the word corno or corna is an effectual protection.

...Besides those borne on the helmet by Greeks and others, horns were worn as amulets by man and beast; so they are to this day.


Monday, 4 October 2010

02.10.2010 bis

Protective Charm
Performance Documentation
Villnachern - CH

Photographs curtesy Martin Siegrist

Sunday, 3 October 2010


Protective Charm
Performance (17h local time, duration: 55 minutes)
Villnachern - CH
Transmitted via Skype to
Rakel Sverrisdòttir
as part of her Open Studio, 

Lyngás 7, 
210 Garðabær (Gardabaer)

Photographs curtesy Rakel Sverrisdòttir

The performance is based on the current research by The Red Earth Society on the common

and subjective elements in various folk beliefs regarding evil manifestations and measures 

to be taken against such manifestations.

Based on the folk beliefs outlined in the following source:

Most human cultures across the planet, including that of the Slavic, tend to use red for the same basic and original intention. Red is the same colour of blood and therefore since the beginning of human culture it has come to be associated literally with the lifeblood and through association, with that of the lifeforce.”

In the broad geographical and cultural area that made up the homeland of the Slavs, red was very much used in the tradition of protection, particularly against various human diseases and ailments. Clothing very often contained borders at collar, sleeve and ankle areas which were often heavily embroidered, with red being the predominant colour. This was originally believed to stop, or at least give partial protection, against evil spirits in the shape of some of the most rampant and vociferous diseases that regularly swept through Europe. The borders were meant to stop these malevolent spirit diseases from entering the body at what were considered particularly vulnerable points, mainly at the extremities of the body.”
One of the interesting added uses of red in Western Slavic culture as opposed to that of Russian Slavs, while still following the general idea of protection against illness and misfortune, dealt with some of the more specific details of protection against individual witches and witchcraft in general.”

Friday, 1 October 2010


Trials for Performance via Skype scheduled for 02.10.2010
Photobooth shot
Screen shot from video still

For use of Red Thread reference: