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Unlikely Bedfellows: How the Church Allied with Science to Defeat Medieval Magic

Medieval MagicIn the modern world, religion and science are often seen as contradictory, but that wasn’t always the case. The shifting cultural landscape in the Middle Ages led to changes in how people thought about magic, superstition, and religion, which created an alliance whose ramifications we still feel in the west, today – an alliance that changed the way people thought about the world they lived in, and their attitudes about what they and their neighbors believed.

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The Secret of the Melusine: The Transforming Maiden

MelusineI was reading this post at J. Matthew Saunders’ blog, and it got me thinking about the paradigm of the maiden who isn’t what she seems. In the post, Saunders introduces us (well, me, at least) to the Melusine – a water spirit that appears as a lovely maiden, only to be revealed as a supernatural creature when her husband breaks his word. It’s interesting to read a little bit between the lines. read more…

Human Enhancement: The Body

The BodyI find the optimism of the transhumanists oddly bracing. It’s true: I tend to be cynical about the future of humanity. Some of the traits that once allowed us to survive – even thrive – now work against us, and I believe that we’re running out of time. I have a friend who thinks that our unprecedented access to information will allow us to stem the blood-dimmed tide, but I see humanity’s struggle for survival as one whose success or failure will be based less on how much we learn or how fast we learn it, and more on who we are. In theory, we might sidestep our fate by changing what it means to be human, which is partly behind my interest in transhumanism (as well as the fact that cool technology is, well, cool). I’m still not holding my breath, but it’s that perspective that I bring to the first chapter of  More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement by Ramez Naam, read more…

Jung and His Archetypes

ArchetypeSo. Jung. I’ve always had kind of a love/unease relationship with Jung. In my twenties, I took a class (or two?) at the C G Jung Institute in Chicago, based on what was then (and is now, with a bit of skepticism thrown in) a Jung/Campbell appreciation. I enjoyed the class, but as I learned more, I experienced a growing sense of frustration, which looking back I now recognize as my being torn between the urge to find something that I could buy into, one hundred percent, and a growing understanding that for me, there’s no such thing. read more…

Blog 3.0: Monsters, Past and Future

MonstersI believed in Santa as a kid, except in the sense that I never believed in Santa. It was a subject that we danced around, in my family. I think that if me or any of my siblings had asked about Santa directly, the answer would have been either vague or evasive, along the lines of “what do you think?” or “Santa is a state of mind.” My family was big on imagination, but grounded in the real. Santa lived in the gray area between, and as a kid, this was enough. I never believed in Santa, I never didn’t believe in Santa. I never stopped believing in Santa – my relationship with him just changed. read more…

Top Ten #10

Top TenYou may notice that it’s not Monday, AND you may notice (or not) that I didn’t post last week. Keeping a blog is an evolutionary process, and I’ve been reconsidering what I do, why, and how. More on the specifics of that later (when the fallout begins to drift gently down from the heavens), but part of it is reconceptualizing how I do the Top Ten lists: instead of doing them biweekly, I’ve decided to do them when I’ve accumulated ten links that I think are cool enough to share. I’ll be abandoning the predictability of Mondays, which meshes with my larger vision. You’ll see what I mean, soon enough (I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat with anticipation!). At any rate, here’s Top Ten number ten!

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My hope is to use this blog as one of a few ways (along with fiction, essays, and articles) that I study and think about mythology, magic, and monsters. I won't write about everything I come across - just the stuff that seems a little more obscure or that makes me think. I'll review the works I read as I go (using the category Syllabus), in case anyone wants to read more.
Mythology, Magic, and Monsters
I pulled the above poster from an issue of Dynamite magazine in 1978: the spookiness, the monsters (both visible and hidden) seemed somehow significant to me at the time. Thirty-five years later, not much has changed.