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Another Fragment: 1692 - the Shadow of the Past - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Another Fragment: 1692 - the Shadow of the Past

The Scots court and the nobility of the realm had a tradition of Wizardry that ran to time immemorial; it was no accident that long before any union of crowns, long indeed before the modern kingdoms that later became constituent realms of the United Kingdom were fully formed, Hogwarts was located in Scotland, and taught equally the students of the Three Kingdoms, the Principality, and the Isles before ever the Isles became a part of the Kinrick of Scots.

 

The great earls and the kings, the lords of the Isles and the earl of Orkney, the lairds and the clerical estate, were Christians, neo-Platonists, and Hogwarts Old Boys, time out of mind; and after the so-called reformation, they bided yet in the auld traditions.  Archbishop Adamson and Archbishop Sharp, Archbishop Hamilton and the Prior of Whithorn, Bishop Honeyman, the earl of Huntly and the Brahan Seer alike, Hepburns and Gowrie earls and Bothwell lairds, all were of the old profession.

 

Then came John Knox and the Scottish Taleban.

 

Hysteria gripped Scotland, at once shared and encouraged by the Reformit Kirk and its puppet-masters.  As a weapon against the Roman Catholic Church and its adherents, including many men of might and nobility, as after against Episcopacy and its supporters, accusations of diabolism and witchcraft became common stock in trade, even causing the Lord Lyon King of Arms, William Stewart, to be hanged in 1569 for ‘witchcraft and necromancy’: all, all political persecution with a dangerous top-dressing of religious fanaticism.  The countess of Atholl and the queen of Scots herself were accused of practising the Dark Arts; so too were Lord Herries and the earl of Arran.  When the show trial of the ‘witches’ of North Berwick was held, even a daughter of Lord Cliftonhall, and he a Senator of the College of Justice, was accused, for no better reason than that she was a Catholic body, the whole of the panic and ‘trial’ being a Presbyterian ploy in any event.

 

Once James 6th of Scots had managed, with the assistance of the Presbytery, to become James 1st of England as well, he had no further use for the Genevan bigots, and sponsored Episcopacy as a royal prop and support; in turn, the self-righteous and the unco’ guid levelled the same false charges of demonry against the Episcopalians, and they continued to do so long as the Stuarts refused to give way to them.

 

Yet there was also a strong tradition in the Northlands, in Scotland and in Scandinavia alike, of Dark Arts, indeed, and the accusation was thus ready to hand, even before the ‘reformation’: the Stuart kings were aye quick to bind up accusations of malefic means when accusing kinsmen, rival claimants, and disaffected nobles of seeking treasonable ends.  James 6th his ain self, notoriously learned in these dark matters, was born with a caul, and he as much as any goodman or crofter in the kingdom well knew what that implied.  The first great witch hunt of his effective reign, as well, was bound up with the storms that long held back his destined queen, Anne of Denmark, from crossing the seas to Scotland, and the Danes and Norwegians blamed their long-feared local Witches and Wizards, whose reputation as storm-raisers and wind-wakers was already ancient in the land.  So late as 1670, Lisbet Pedersdatter of Nypan was condemned and burnt as a witch in Trondheim, for no more, it appears, than being a cunning-woman healing her neighbours with simples and prayer; and the lower deck of the Royal Navy credited with the powers of a weather-warlock every Finn living, as late as Bonaparte’s march upon Moscow in 1812.

 

It is against this backdrop of the fearful, the uncanny, and the fanatical that we may view the curious fate of the Revd Robert Kirk, neighbour and kinsman of Rob Roy Macgregor, suspect Episcopalian and Royalist, master of Gaelic lore, incumbent of the parish kirk of Aberfoyle, and himself born thereat when his father was minister – born as the seventh son of Kirk of the kirk, beneath the shadow of the Doon Hill, the Dun of the Sidhe, the Fairy Mound.

 

In the Year of Grace 1691, this pious clergyman, translator of the Psalms into the Gaelic, completed his magnum opus: The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies; or an Essay on the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean and (for the most part) Invisible People Heretofoir going under the name of Faunes and Fairies, and the lyke, as described by those who have the second sight.

 

On the 14th May 1692 – that fatal year of the Statute of Secrecy, if ‘statute’ so corrupt a bargain and so tainted a treaty may be called – that good man Robert Kirk, the minister of Aberfoyle, took his daily, morning stroll upon the skirts of the Fairy Hill.  A few hours after, he not returning to the manse, what appeared to be his dead body was found there on the Dun Sidhe.  Yet he appeared after to his wife, and again in the body of the kirk before a great assembly of people there for the christening of his after-born son; and the true nature of his fate remains a matter of debate and doubt unto this day.

 

What is certain is this, that the reverend gentleman wrote more of divination than of elves, and his elves are not of any sort recognised at Hogwarts or Domdaniel.  In fact, the persistent fear is that his – apparent – death did not merely coincide with the Statute of Secrecy 1692, but was related to it; and that, put starkly, his long-suppressed manuscript was something far more dangerous to Muggles and Ministry alike than a treatise on magical beings or prophecy: it was political, allegorical, and dangerous accordingly.

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Comments
tiferet From: tiferet Date: May 6th, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, lovely. I've read that book :)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 7th, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

You know...

That doesn't surprise me at all.

Thanks.
From: seneska Date: May 6th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Goodness, you have been busy.

I studied Scottish history at university last year, and became increasingly frustrated as anything after 1200 revolved around Edinburgh. Save to mention that Knox landed in Leith first.

That Queen of Scots was a bit of a character though. And as for Jimmy six and one, he needed to focus more on the country and less on the witchcrafte.

Elves, nothing but trouble.

xx
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 7th, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

'Elves, nothing but trouble.' I LOVE that line.

Thanks.

And yes, Jamie Sixt ... well, there was a reason he was called 'the wisest fool in Christendom', after all.
soonest_mended From: soonest_mended Date: May 7th, 2006 03:33 am (UTC) (Link)
*flails in happiness*

This is why you are the coolest ever. Because nobody else writes things like this.

Also you've managed to both satisfy and intrigue my historical curiosity. agh. *goes to study*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 7th, 2006 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, thank you.

I'm blushing. Thank you.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: May 7th, 2006 12:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
How intriguing!

Would the good Robert Kirk have been at the back of Buchan's mind when he wrote Witchwood, do you suppose? Not that the minister in that case wrote a book about elves, but there was the theory in the parish that he had been spirited away to Fairy.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 7th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Assuredly he would have been.

Old Tweedsmuir drew from life. After all, Ironside was the real Hannay. So.... Hard to imagine this wasn't his inspiration for that plot point.
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: May 7th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting. So James I was a Dark Wizard. Hmmm.

I never did like James. He seemed deadly dull after Elizabeth, who is my favourite English monarch. "The wisest fool in Christendom" just about sums it up. This makes him seem a little more interesting :-).

The first great witch hunt of his effective reign, as well, was bound up with the storms that long held back his destined queen, Anne of Denmark, from crossing the seas to Scotland, and the Danes and Norwegians blamed their long-feared local Witches and Wizards, whose reputation as storm-raisers and wind-wakers was already ancient in the land.

Poor Anne. I bet if she'd known more about the man she was coming to marry she'd have paid them good money to keep raising storms so she could stay at home.

the persistent fear is that his – apparent – death did not merely coincide with the Statute of Secrecy 1692, but was related to it; and that, put starkly, his long-suppressed manuscript was something far more dangerous to Muggles and Ministry alike than a treatise on magical beings or prophecy: it was political, allegorical, and dangerous accordingly.

Wheels within wheels!

More, soon - please.

MM
wemyss From: wemyss Date: May 7th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

As you wish.

Thanks. So vy, vy much.
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