Saturday, November 16, 2013
Let's Look Up Things About Mirrors in Books
Elizabeth broke a mirror, for example, and wanted to know how she might counteract the bad luck, IF she were superstitious, which SHE CERTAINLY IS NOT. And NEITHER AM I. But I was doing other stuff, I guess. So I hope Elizabeth hasn't had too much bad luck yet. At the time I grabbed a handy book: THE WHITE GODDESS by Robert Graves, and checked the index for "mirror," just because it was right there where my hand could grab it with no effort. All I found was something about a mermaid with a mirror and a comb. Colorful, but of little use. I emailed that useless information to Elizabeth then did nothing for several days. The mermaid represented the dangers of love? Something like that. I've got the book right here but I already opened it once, so that's plenty. I am going to walk around now and look for, let us say, five other books that might have mirror information in them. I seem to recall that THE GOLDEN BOUGH has a whole dang chapter about mirrors, or reflections, or something. I'm getting tired just thinking about it. The "internet" seems to be the wrong way to go. Sure I could type in some clever "google search term" and get all the latest info about counteracting the ill effects of a broken mirror, but that's the cheap way of living and who can trust it? Okay, are you still there? Me neither. I walked around and grabbed five books. Let's take a look! First up, THE MAGICAL UNIVERSE: EVERYDAY RITUAL AND MAGIC IN PRE-MODERN EUROPE. Did they have mirrors? Let's find out! Not in the index. But "Mississippi" is on page 132, so let's see what Mississippi has to do with pre-modern Europe. Wow, here's a photo of a statue of a saint covered in snakes. Scary! Scary but unrelated. But wait, here we go: "in northern Mississippi in the late nineteenth century, according to Faulkner, 'the full moon of April [shining on the marriage bed] guaranteed the fertilizing act.'" The footnote says it's from THE HAMLET. Hey, I read that book! But I guess I skipped the part about the moon fertilizing everybody. Books are no use at all. Let's check the next one. It's called THE MIRROR OF ALCHEMY. It has MIRROR in the title! But not in the index. That's what I call the bait and switch, author Gareth Roberts! It does have "Miriam" in the index where "mirror" should be, a name I recall from Robert Graves's mermaid page. Hmm, it says, "see Maria Prophetissa." Okay, I will! She's the sister of Moses, "credited with the invention of... the bain-marie, a vessel containing hot water and giving gentle heat, which still bears her name." Ha ha, I like typing. Up next, the dreaded GOLDEN BOUGH (which, PS, Richard Burton was reading in his diaries). All right! This is my kind of index entry: "Mirrors, superstitions as to, 231." Oh brother, though, it's just all that old jazz about your reflection being your soul or something. Everybody knows that! Nothing in GRIMOIRES: A HISTORY OF MAGIC BOOKS (though see also). Cirlot's DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLS has lots of sentences like "The fluctuation between the 'absent' mirror and the 'peopled' mirror lends it a kind of phasing, feminine in implication, and hence - like the fan - it is related to moon symbolism." Wow, books are the worst. Okay, but the "Mississippi" thing - the nearest word to mirror in that index - was about the moon, and according to this other book, mirrors are about the moon, and this other index in which "Miriam" is the nearest word to "mirror" leads me back to the mermaid ("Marian, Miriam, Mariamne...") in Robert Graves, who he says "can be identified with the Moon-goddess Eurynome whose statue... was a mermaid carved in wood." So what can we conclude from our studies? That writers will eventually bring everything back to the moon. Writers love writing up some junk about the moon. Writers are like, "Let me stick a moon in here, everybody will think I am so great." How I hate them with their fancy ways.