Friday, February 5, 2010

Sussex Horse Plaits

Over the last several months at least ten horses in and around Sussex, England have been found to have plaits in their manes, like small braids, put there by persons unknown. Police have speculated that this may be the result of some sort of magical practice, and have been contacted by two sources regarding the sort of magick that might be in use. However, the statements police claim to have received strike me more as garden-variety publicity seeking rather than any sort of real magical technique.

Police have received reports from places as far apart as Westergate in Chichester, Rother and East Grinstead - reflecting similar reports across the country.

Officers in Dorset have been contacted by a warlock, or male witch, who claimed the plaits are used in rituals by followers of “knot magick”, also known as “cord magick”.

The first big red flag for me here is that I've never heard of a serious witchcraft practitioner describing himself as a "warlock." There is apparently a traditional usage of the term in Scotland, but not in England. Dorset is in the far south of the country on the English channel - that is, nowhere near Scotland. It also occurs to me that it doesn't take a lot of magical knowledge to think, "hey, knots in the horses' manes - that's 'knot magick!' Or should I tell them it's 'cord magick?'"

But Kevin Carlyon, the Hastings-based self-proclaimed High Priest of British White Witches, told The Argus some plaits or knots could be evidence of devil-worship or black magic.

He said mostly the practice by “white witches” is harmless and intended for the witch to benefit from the horse’s natural power or as a gift or tribute if they see horses as sacred animals.

Mr Carlyon said plaiting has also been known to precede ritual mutilation of horses in black magic.

Mr Carlyon said: “It still goes on unfortunately.

“If it is normal plaiting, like a girl’s hair, that is beneficial witchcraft.

“With more complex, more tightly knotted plaits, you’re looking down the darker side.

”It is like they are marking the horse to say, this is our chosen one.”

What strikes me as silly about this is the sensationalism. The plaits have been appearing for months and none of the horses have been injured in any way, but nonetheless some sort of harmful magick still merits a mention - I suppose because it sounds evil and newspapers, especially tabloids, eat that up.

Police are urging people to contact police if their animals have been plaited, and to challenge strangers hanging around farms or places where horses are kept.

That's good advice for people who keep horses, but thinking about it further what this most reminds me of is the whole crop circle thing. A couple of guys decided that they wanted to do something incomprehensible that would seem mysterious, so they improvised some tools and started creating circles and other shapes in random fields overnight. Then they watched all the media speculation and had a good laugh.

It seems to me that rather than spending hours making circles in fields of wheat it would be a lot easier to just sneak into a barn, put a braid in a horse's mane, and then disappear into the night. The media is bound to start talking about magick when all other explanations fail - or maybe aliens!

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Rob said...

I've seen the term warlock in use for a male witch in pre-Wiccan era writings. The term actually does have a legitimate magical meaning, but certain Wiccan authors, for reasons unknown but probably just not cracking open the OED, have done a lot to make the word negative and have gone about stating that no real practitioner would call themselves a warlock and so on to the point that most people don't anymore. I think some have started doing it again though, probably just to piss off Wiccan know it alls.

As for guy number two, I'm skeptic of any supposed master, or even authority on the community, which is still using a term like black magic. And I don't know what he means by devil worshiper. Luciferians are the biggest group, and I've never heard of them tying knots in horses. I think there are some rouge ones and a few hiding inside of Satanic religions, but then they aren't organized and don't have any particular MO or ritual set. Anything else would be a very small and obscure group.

His vagueness, once again, makes me doubt he's any kind of authority.

I know animal sacrifices happen. I hear stories second hand and I've found the mutilated bodies too. But if it's being done right, they don't use horses, they'd use something smaller.

My gut instinct, which may be wrong, is that all of this is the work of preteen girls. preteen girls like ponies, and they like braiding hair. It just seems obvious to me.

lsmft said...

Word-nerd on deck.

Wikipedia gives an etymology for "warlock "here:

Here's some Speculation, around a small smattering of facts.

My Scots language dictionary, while it does not give a specific etymology, is however suggestive.- The Scots spelling of the word is given as Warlogh and Warluck, which is congruent with Germanic roots- "Wahr" being Truth. The German term "luck" refers to varnish or polish, but has a modern poetic and metaphoric usage indicating deception and cover-up. The modern standardized word in German is "lack".

The entry notes that, among Scots, "Warlock" seems to take the late 16th century in its popular appearance. Which coincides with the time when Calvinism and Lutheranism were vying for the hearts of potential protestants by means of conducting a persecution of Catholics and whatever non-christian fringe population existed. The definition given is specifically that of "liar", and further notes that it was used as a legal term.

So, an additional speculative breakdown would be a liar under oath in a court.

OED example: 1689 tr. Buchanan's "De Jure Regni apud Scotos"": No Thief or Warlike will willingly compear before a Judge to be judged

The practice of taking legal oath on the Bible was intended as a literal magical bond to speak truth. Thus one who could "break" such an oath was clearly not on the side of the protestant inquisitors.

Given that the Scottish witch persecution continued until the execution of Janet Horne in 1727, it seems possible that the Scots legal term may have leaked into English specifically in the context of the which trials, which obfuscated it's original meaning in the Scots context.

From looking at the OED, it seems that the transition from usage of warlock a more general term of deridement roughly equivalent to "wicked" and "evil" (adjectival and adverbial uses both) to the specific indication of a malign wizard post-dates the Scots usage and seems to have occured in the 18th century. Prior to this, the association with the occult is notable, but not specific, and has relatively usage outside the occult context. The occult association of the term in English as a descriptor for a male seems to be built up from Scots use via the English literary audience after 1800, via Robert Burns (3 cites), Andrew Scott (2 cites) and Richard Barham (1 cite), whom the OED cites for this particular usage.