Thursday, June 30, 2011

Witch....!!

Have you ever been called a witch or referred to someone else as such? Or perhaps you're way too nice to resort to name calling. But I'm sure somewhere along the way, you've heard of someone of the female gender being called a witch.

She was probably a nasty teacher at school, someone's wicked aunt, a bullying stepmother, an impossible co-worker.....well basically the kind of woman who makes life tough for those around her.

So yeah no self respecting woman would want to be called a witch. The very word is perceived to be pregnant with negative connotations, and being called a witch ain't going to gain a girl any fans these days. While in centuries past, being labelled a witch could mean certain death! Remember the infamous Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692?

Ah but would you believe me if said you should be honoured to be called a witch? Yup you heard me right, H..O..N..O..U..R..E..D. For it appears that the word "Witch" comes from wit and was used to refer to wise women.

Pic courtesy of lavenslair.com
So the next time you come across a difficult woman, don't call her a witch, cause she's not worthy to be called such. However, in my experience, not all women who have been called witches are nasty to begin with. From what I have observed, a lot of them are simply confident, opinionated, and can't be bossed around. And we all know how much the masses love a girl who can't be told what to do.

Interestingly it was the 300 years of the Inquisition that led to the word eventually being associated with women of evil. This was because the male-dominated church wanted to eliminate women holding positions of power in their community.

For crones, hags and witches were frequently leaders, midwives and healers - women who were respected and deferred to by members of their community. As their wisdom and ways were more in tandem with nature than church politics, the powers that be naturally saw fit to eliminate them.

So as history will tell thee, these women of ancient wisdom were tortured and burned at the stake. Many also met their death by the hangman's noose or by drowning.

Oh and before I end this rant, the next time someone calls you a hag or a crone, don't go running to check for fine lines or wrinkles in the mirror. The word crone comes from crown, indicating wisdom emanating from the head. While hag comes from hagio, meaning holy.

Based on how these three words have been distorted throughout time, it just goes to show how chauvinistic and patriarchal society really is. But should I be surprised??

This post is dedicated to Moon my fellow crone/witch/hag. We're still in our springy 30s'  but we've been calling ourselves crones n witches since we first met years ago. Old souls in young forms we were, even back then.

Information for this article was sourced from  
http://www.cronescounsel.org/The_Ancient_Crone

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Of VIPs and such...

Everyone should be treated with the same degree of courteousness and civility notwithstanding their position on the social strata. King and common men alike and everyone in between. In fact the onus to be better people are on those higher up the social rung, like public figures. For are they not supposed to set examples for the rest of us - the masses?

So why is it always the other way around? Where those at the top get away with outrageous conduct. Or perhaps the fault for this lies with the masses. The vast majority of people who get starstruck by the mere drop of a hat, those who think that fraternising with "who is who" and name dropping will get them ahead in life.

In the course of working and socialising, I have come across a fair number of such people. They are nasty to those they consider below them. But they will not hesitate to dance attendance to so-called important people even to the extent of grovelling. Yeah so its okay to be haughty to the have-nots one moment, and to do away with one's dignity the very next, when in the company of those perceived to be "exalted" in the eyes of society.

Pic courtesy of eventwristbands.com
These sort of folks live life comforted by the fact that they have friends in certain places. They consider their lives enriched in this manner. To them life is all about knowing the RIGHT people. So how then to blame the VIP and VVIP when there are people like this ever ready to salivate at their every gesture?

During my years as a news reporter at the country's once upon a time leading newspaper, I had the pleasure of meeting these sorts at assignments. They would saunter up with an ingratiating smile and make it a point to mention that they were on very chummy terms with my top bosses. One wonders what they were trying to achieve by saying such..... was I suppose to tremble in my boots that they knew my superiors, or simper in awe that they were so well connected. After all   these years, and I'm still wondering.....sigh.

Going further back, as a junior newsroom reporter, I once answered the phone - the woman caller on the other end wanted to speak to one of my editors, said editor was not in, so I told her so and offered to take a message. But at that point I made the mistake of asking her name. Pretty harmless question right? But you see the caller was the wife of a minister. Yup if you're the wife of a minister, people are suppose to recognise the scent of your perfume and the way you sneeze a mile away.

So Mrs Minister got irritated and said: Don't you know who I am?
Me: Uh no...(slapping head and wondering if she was a famous singer with an instantly recognisable voice).

At this point she deigns to offer me her first name....lucky for me that I managed to place who she was at that moment. So I said a quick cheery goodbye and ended the conversation. So all aspiring journalists out there, pay heed, it's not just the names of the ministers that you have to "hafal". You gotta know all their wives by their first names too. Oh and not just the first wives.....

Anyway the said minister's wife is not the only one of her kind. There are tonnes of stories of how some VIPs or those connected to them go around town throwing their weight. But why am I even bothering to write about this right? Wake up call: It's Malaysia, where cronyism, nepotism, corruption and huge scale cover-ups which would have confounded "Deep Throat" himself reigns.

In some countries, bad behaviour by celebrities and politicians will see a dive in popularity for the former, and the latter will likely be pressured to resign. Plus there's the ever vigilant paparazzi to keep everyone on their toes.

But here in our tropical paradise, it is the other way around. It's the higher-ups who are keeping the press on their toes. On their toes, to report all their so-called glorious feats. Try writing something critical and see, better have very SOLID facts or they will attempt to sue you out of existence!

So what do we do? We bring our grousing to the blogosphere. Oh but even bloggers can be sued no? Even over a simple review of a curry house......

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Contemplating Merlin

During my childhood days, I was much fascinated by the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and still am! However it was not the chivalrous Arthur or the noble Lancelot that stirred my imagination. My favourite Arthurian figure is Merlin.

Merlin the archetypal wise man with his flowing white beard and swishing long robes who according to legend lived in a tree. In fact I believe that the wizards in medieval fairy tales all sprung from Merlin. The only difference being that they had more showy attire - long pointed hats and bright coloured robes decorated with shiny stars and crescent shaped moons.

Said to be the greatest wizard the world has ever known, the origins of Merlin has been shrouded in mystery, much like the man himself! There have been many accounts of how Merlin came to be and how his story ended. Thus I was more than thrilled when I chanced upon The Mammoth Book Of Merlin at the Fantasy Section of BOOK XCESS sometime ago.

The anthology edited by Mike Ashley contains 24 stories on the life and times of Merlin written by well known authors in the sphere of fantasy fiction. Many of the stories featured here do not toe the line of the traditional accounts told about Merlin and King Arthur's court.

Though the authors' have borrowed from popular lore about Merlin, the retelling of the tales are all their own. For instance, the first story in the collection Dream Reader - draws inspiration from the tale that Merlin was the offspring of a young nun and an incubus, hence his supernatural abilities.

In the story, a young orphaned Merlin is discovered by Ambrosius, a traveling mage, and taken into his troupe to form a trio of performers. Ambrosius becomes Merlin's mentor and teaches him to cultivate his prophetic talents.

While in Merlin's Dark Mirror, the wizard is portrayed as a schemer who plots Arthur's eventual downfall while appearing to give him good counsel. In this story, Merlin secretly holds faith with his father the Devil whom he communicates with through a "dark" mirror.

In the Rite of Challenge, Merlin comes up against Morgan le Fay who tries to prevent the "Round Table" from being brought to Camelot. In this story however, Morgan is not portrayed as an evil schemer out to cause woe for Arthur. Here she is the High Priestess and guardian of the Elder Faith who opposes Merlin's allegiance to the Christian King Arthur.

In the King's Mage, Merlin is depicted as a withered and cynical old man who although held in high esteem as Arthur's trusted mage, is in fact a charlatan who uses his knowledge of herbs and conjuring tricks to keep all at Camelot under his spell.

Though only Merlin himself can attest to whether any of the stories in this collection comes near to describing who and what he was, the authors have done a commendable job in exploring the different facets and stages in Merlin's life through creative storytelling.