Trollï? Yes indeedï! Scandï, mostlï

Look at them, troll mother said. Look at my sons! You won’t find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon.” – Traditional

 In these enlightened days of science and technology and that, most people associate trolls with spiteful and/or mischievous people who anonymously trouble online folk.

Hiding under a bridge of secret identity, they wait until they hear the trip trap, trip trap of one of their triggers approaching, and start to send out messages that have only one intention – to make themselves feel strong.

 troll1

Every time they provoke a reaction, especially a hurt emotional one  from somebody, they feel for a moment a spike of bright joy.

They imagine themselves for that second to be powerful and beautiful, but of course, anybody else will see them for what they are- great lumpen ugly trolls with eyes as big as saucers and a nose as long as a poker.

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In Scandinavian folklore these existed long before the internet was dreamed of, living far from human habitation and sometimes appearing as grotesque monsters, sometimes as normal people with only pale dry skin and a reddish cast to their eyes to identify them by.

 The humanoid trolls were by far the most dangerous, of course, lulling people into a false sense of security before eating them up, snap snap snap.

 These were also able to shape-shift into domestic cats when it suited their purpose but, like all their kind, had the fatal weakness of an allergy to sunlight.

As bothered as you can be by trolls during the hours of darkness, when the sun comes up they will be exposed and frozen in place, completely helpless to your whim, whether you choose to destroy them with a few well-placed blows or leave them as they are as an example to other trolls.

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Suitable refreshment for Walpurgis Night according to Comrade Bulgakov

“We know that our forefathers very generally kept the beginning of May as a great festival, and it is still regarded as the trysting time of witches – i.e. once of wise-women and fays; who can doubt that heathen sacrifices blazed on that day?” – Jacob Grimm ‘Teutonic Mythology’

 The ultimate Walpurgis Night party was the one described in the book The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – with walls of flowers, champagne fountains, ape jazz band and a guest list of naked, dead murderers.

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 I will be traversing the tundra in Sweden this Walpurgis Night, one of the few countries where it is still celebrated with fireworks and bonfire parties, hoping to visit the Vampire Lounge and the Tiki Room for some pagan cocktail magic. A flaming shot certainly counts as a form of bonfire and I like to be respectful of the old customs.

 If you are at home, I have thoughtfully invented some Walpurgis cocktails based on the Bulgakov book, which if you haven’t read – lucky you! You have a wonderful treat ahead. Curl up with the novel and theme your drinks to the section you are currently reading.

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Sapping Energy? Bring Back The Birch

Tír na nÓg are the islands of everlasting youth and beauty, not unlike Peter Pan’s fictional Neverland.

Magic_island

 Populated by gods and spirits who no longer have any connection to our world, it is possible for humans to visit, although returning is not usually easy due to the different way in which time passes there. The stories passed down to us about past visitors usually relate that anybody returning from Tír na nÓg will find that it is later than they thought, with all their friends and family long dead of old age.

 Tír na nÓg

Pliny The Elder warns us that it is not a flawless paradise either as “These islands are greatly annoyed by the putrefying bodies of monsters, which are constantly thrown up by the sea”.

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 Although the islands can be glimpsed shrouded with mist in the sea, they cannot be reached by water, despite occasional sightings of them in the distance, distinguished by the large black rabbits populating their shores.

 Despite the instructions given of “Second on the right, and straight on until morning”, the usual route is via groves of birch trees in the forest.

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You’re Always After Me Lucky Leprechaun

Top of the morning to you!

For St Patrick’s Day this year, let’s locate a leprechaun.

Before you start arguing that you only find leprechauns in Ireland, consider that there are more Irish natives living in New York City than there are in Ireland. Naturally leprechauns will have emigrated along with the people and their fellow other-worldly creatures.

Pookas and banshees prefer to stay in the countryside, but leprechauns enjoy bright lights, drinking, dancing and laughter – this means that they are as likely to be based in Shoreditch as Dublin.

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Psychic Night at the Three Hammers

In the 8th century, the priestess of the Oracle at Delphi was named the Pythoness.

During rituals she would enter a frenzied state induced by poisonous vapours rising from the ground and speak gibberish, which was translated by the temple priests into the prophecies of the god Apollo.

Her hair coiling loose around her like snakes, her naked feet pounding the ground in a wild dance and her eyes turned up so that the whites showed, she must have been an awesome and terrifying sight to the elaborately-robed priests who pressed close around her to hear and transcribe every precious word that fell from her foam-flecked lips.

 It was with this scene very much in mind that we arranged to attend the Psychic Night at the Three Hammers pub in St Albans. three_hammers_pub

What wonders would be revealed to us – what marvels might be unveiled? The combination of the availability of cheap booze and the presence of a pythoness – the title still attributed to a woman possessed by a familiar spirit or higher forces and able to foresee the future – was irresistible.

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My Furry Valentine

If you’re looking for a different way to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day this year, why not indulge in a little light lycanthropy?

The spirit of the wolf can help us all connect with our inner power and stamina.

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The festival of St Valentine took over from the previous Roman wolf-themed festival of Lupercalia, which had a lot fewer heart-shaped chocolates than we are used to in our celebrations today – instead a dog and two goats were sacrificed, after which the young male adepts or Luperci were anointed with blood and milk, dressed in the animal skins, and armed with leather thongs.

They would then run around the town whipping women with these makeshift whips, the lashes of which were supposed to ensure fertility and drive out evil spirits.

So why not go the old-fashioned route this year, and invest in some leather gear and a whip? Or continue with the wolf theme, which is quite an appropriate romantic one, as wolves are monogamous and mate for life.

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Gone gone gone

As humans, our track record of leaving things, people and places behind is very high. We do this for all kinds of reasons, often very good ones.

And while change is healthy, and we must go ever onwards, it’s also tempting to look back from time to time.

 There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them allIn My LifeThe Beatles

 Many people find abandoned places to be full of mysteries and echoes of things past, and who doesn’t find a crumbling, empty vine-covered house with broken windows more romantic and evocative than a solid, occupied structure?

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Food or drink can often trigger emotional memories, and you can come to associate certain tastes and textures with people, places and things. Mix cheap vodka with Roses Lime Cordial and I sharply recollect teenage music gigs in a provincial market town, especially if you throw in the scent of Hard Rock Hairspray and menthol cigarettes.

Walking through an abandoned village in China put me in a nostalgic mood, and I decided to recreate a lost cocktail from the past.

 If you want to visit the spooky lost village of Pak-A, it’s too simple. As long as you’re in Hong Kong, anyway.

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