nancylebov: (blue moon)
[personal profile] nancylebov posting in [community profile] reading_moonwise
The first section is called Silly Sisters, a reference to June Tabor and Maddy Prior's folk music.

"There was a green bough hanging on the door." A fast search to see whether this is a custom didn't turn up anything, but I found this: "If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come." (Chinese proverb) I have no idea whether it's an actual Chinese proverb, but it's a good thought.

"The year was old, and turning lightward, into winter." I don't know whether the actual date will turn up in the text, but this matches the Delaware/Philadelphia climate I'm used to. The hottest part of the summer and the coldest part of the winter come after the solstices.

"Cold and waning....Ariane looked back the way she'd come". One of the big themes I want to look at is resemblances between the two women and the two goddesses. I'm not going into more detail because I'm trying to avoid spoilers.

"hill beyond blue glaze of hill"-- this is more a thing I see with mountains, but they do look like layers of blue glaze.

"While we poor wassail boys do trudge through the mire...the wind. Cold by the door, it sang."

"Should I turn my coat? Or break a twig of holly? Or snare a wren?" Folklore: Turning your coat can be a protection against pixies. The Wren and Its Folklore.

Speaking of the generally tricky and unreliable nature of things, these links are the result of fast google searches. I don't guarantee the reliability of any of it, and welcome corrections and further discussion.

"Her air of gravity and desolation was, she knew, rather spoiled by her wraggle-taggle trail of clutter." Sylvie keeps an eye on herself in self-obstructive way. If she's neurotic, can her parallel goddess also be neurotic?

Folksong: the Raggle Taggle Gypsy. I'm reasonably sure this is just picking up the cool-sounding adjective rather than a deeper reference to the text of the song.

King Herla's rade-- King Herla was one of the leaders of the Wild Hunt. The link about him looks as though there's some fine eerie legendry, but I'm going to try and get this entry finished. If you know of any fiction about being led on the Wild Hunt through references rather than woods, please led me know.

"distraitly wandering through time" This definitely happens to one of the other characters.

"An owlish, cat-stumbling sort, but her absurdity did not console her." I don't know whether it's reasonable to expect anyone to be consoled by their absurdity, but it's a good phrase. It might also be worth keeping an eye out to see whether there's any consolation by absurdity later in the book.

"the kettle withering on the fire" another good phrase

"backed into the drying rack, which collapsed into the ashes like a fainting stork, all legs, and plumed with tatty underwear" another good phrase, and a reason for doing this sort of close reading-- until I transcribed it, I only noticed the fainting stork, but missed the way the metaphor was continued.

"She began to feel quite happy, a cup unspilled, a new moon turned." Ariane gets a lot of lunar metaphors.

"--yet they were drifted over, rooted in the sweet nourishing decay of loved ephemera" This is the only book I've seen make bad housekeeping look numinous. It also seems to me that the house would not survive so much neglect, but there's more to fiction than meticulous world-building.

I'm not transcribing the whole passage, but there's a nice parallel between the house and a forest, with the tall furniture standing unchanging while the soil is building up around it. It's probably relevant that the owner of the house is named Sylvie.

Ariane remembers the rooms, but they're a little different: ..."only subtly aslant: a table moved, a book left open. The dissonances made an eerie harmony of parallels, fifths, and seconds." Probably a reference to rules for musical harmony. It's probably relevant that parallel fifths are discouraged in some kinds of classical music, but normal in some kinds of folk and medieval music.

Incidental search result: There's an Etsy shop called Moonwise which has good-looking jewelry.

Date: 2012-10-15 08:48 pm (UTC)
calimac: (Default)
From: [personal profile] calimac
Thanks for all the references; I knew many, but not King Herla, for instance. I'll keep one eye on your commentary as I read.

As this is an area where I have technical knowledge: To expand, in music, open fifths are a hollow, echoing sound; as you note they're common in early music, and contribute much to its character. Seconds are harshly dissonant. Parallels - i.e. consecutive successive appearances of the same interval - only reinforce the concept. In simple basic traditional Western harmony, seconds don't appear (they do in real music, of course, which isn't limited to the simple rules), and parallel fifths are forbidden.

It's a good metaphor for eeriness, and it leads me to say, from a different angle, how impressive the imagery and metaphors are here. I like "turning lightward, into winter," and the way it reminds us that, even as winter descends, the sun begins to return. I also like the way that, even as the language gives an ancient flavor, little references to things like suitcases and taxis inform you that it's a contemporary setting without being forcibly intrusive.

Date: 2012-10-16 12:07 am (UTC)
pickledginger: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pickledginger
I wonder if the "green bough" might be related to the "green willow*" or to the various traditions regarding the evergreens. I am completely lacking in context, though this sounds fascinating!

(* "All around my hat, I will wear the green willow, all around my hat, for a twelve-month and a day, and if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it, it's all for my true love, who's far, far away.")

Date: 2012-10-16 03:26 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
If it's green and it's just past the winter solstice, it's evergreen -- some sort of wreath equivalent?

Date: 2012-10-16 05:22 am (UTC)
ookpik: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ookpik
One of my favorite books; I knew some of the references but not all. And, Calimac, thanks for the musical explanation--I love listening to music but know almost nothing of theory.

Nancy, you didn't say anything about "break a twig of holly." Possibly a Solstice/Christmas reference? (Holly, I mean. I've never come across the idea of breaking a twig as magical ritual; does anybody else here know about it?)

Oh, that "turning lightward" sentence is a delight!

I hadn't even thought about Sylvie's name and the wood references. With regard to Ariane's, I'm remembering Dave Carter's song "Mother, I Climbed" (terrible title, great song)...he addresses the Mother Goddess as Marianna, and the very last time we spoke, he was musing on some form of that name as representing the Goddess in many cultures he knew of.

Thank you for doing this, and for pointing me to the discussion.

holly twig

Date: 2012-10-18 07:40 pm (UTC)
kestrell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kestrell
A possible useful reference from this online article about holly in folklore

Holly was also brought into the house variously to protect the home from malevolent faeries or to allow faeries to shelter in the home without friction
between them and the human occupants. Whichever of prickly-leaved or smooth-leaved holly was brought into the house first dictated whether the husband
or wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year.

Also, there is a ballad titled "The Holly Twig" which is about a man who cuts a holly branch to beat his nagging wife, who is later taken off by the Devil. I take it that this can be thought of as a more active aspect of holly's ability to protect one from evil.


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