The Gift

Ensnaring, Of Bitter Aftertaste

“To have received from one, to whom we think ourselves equal, greater benefits than there is hope to Requite, disposeth to counterfeit love; but really secret hatred; and puts a man into the estate of a desperate debtor, than in declining the sight of his creditor, tacitly wishes him there, where he might never see him more. For benefits oblige; and obligation is thraldome; and unrequitable obligation, perpetuall thraldome, which is to one equall, hateful.”

Hobbes, Leviathan


German still retains an older sense of the word gift that was common in much of early medieval Europe, it could be used in two ways to refer to a gift or to poison. The wine fed warrior gifted wine and mead in exchange for his death in battle awakes to it’s bitter aftertaste.

Note On The Barnacle

A moment in the life of the barnacle goose. A wonderful watch.

To connect with or attach.
To press close against something.

I don’t want to intrude on these sources, save that for some boring obscure folklore journal, I would like to note one thing before presenting a few other sources.

I was chatting to someone from the Western Isles a native speaker of Gaelic, I was interested to learn if they noted any differences between limpets and barnacles (both have the same name in Gaelic). On mentioning the word was the same for both species my informant laughed loudly and then she said

‘you know Jeb, I have never thought about the difference before.’ 

Her laughter was infectious.

From Middle English barnakille, from earlier bernake, bernekke, from Old Northern French bernaque (barnacle) (compare French barnache), from Vulgar Latin *bernacca (limpet), from Gaulish (compare Welsh brennig, Irish báirneac), from Proto-Celtic *barinākos, from *barinā (rock, rocky ground) (compare Old Irish barenn (boulder)), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷr̥H- (hill, mountain) + Proto-Celtic *-ākos, from Proto-Indo-European *-kos, *-ḱos; for sense development, compare Ancient Greek λέπας (lépas, rock) which gave λεπάς (lepás, limpet).


Wiki, barnacle, etymology

Beneath the Waves: Of Suns Quenched, Stars Drowned and the Capture of The Moon

Moment’s In History of The Collector and The Collected

Of Small Things

The Sun Drinker

“I cannot positively tell you whether the Clay Goose (barnacle goose) be Suppositious or not tho all the Countrey men afirm it for a trueth I have seen my selfe ane old maste of a ship come in one the shore full of larg(e) holes. As if made by wormes wherinto ther sticks a shell within which ther is a small thing Which resembles a foull in every thing in a warm day the shell oppens and the fowl would seem to strech their wings But many of undoubted honestie assure me they have seen a foule with wings feathers feet and a tail sticking to a tree by the bill but wanted lyfe the shell falls away when they com to perfectione as ane Egg braiks and they stick by the bill till they Get lyfe…….”

Lord Reay Letter to Samuel Pepys 24 October 1699

Byssus On You Tube

Zen and The Art Of Crafting: A Training For Life

As I am simply generalizing vaguely while trying to work out how to slash burn and order too much material I thought it may be a good idea to do a you tube video. Here I can demonstrate my sheer mastery with words and demonstrate through sound and movement my utter expertise and control over the subject. So here goes.

It really captures the spirit of my crafting style as I apply it to a range of subjects, as eagle eyed observers of my photographs may have already noted.

A short video I should really have got round to making but never did.

Glossing A Legal Text (Trinty Of Three Beings)

Bloodlying of The Three Sisters

A Creature of Dispute

I Am the being of reason blue/ grey wolf/ dog

I go a howling and my killing is justified

I am dumb and disgraced by sin (here I am lost but can be found)

Borne On The Backs Of Women

Translation of three names from the Law of Bloodlying an Irish legal medical document of the 6th century. Looks distinctly like a language origin myth, but reason to believe these were also legal practical terms. Some of the themes are more familiar and more normally dealt with in the story of the male wild man. Earliest known European version of this story is British, thought to date from around the same period, it transfers to Ireland at a later date.

In practice it would seem to point to a limitation in women’s ability to maneuver in the public sphere and in cases of dispute. Legal compensation is limited, a standard feature found in Irish, Anglo Saxon, and Scottish legal texts. Places an economic drain on parties involved in violent dispute. Here the move seems to be to move women from this sphere all together, further lowering status and the ability to act effectively in political life of which violence was one means of furthering or holding family status.

Women are moving to occupy a differing role in early Christian Ireland. Out of the public sphere and into the private world of home and hearth. Mother of Christ with her spindle, absorbed in birth pangs or weeping for her lost son rather than a satire spitting participant on the field of dispute.

These changes in status are wrapped within a strong narrative that holds in imagination and is easy to retain. The pain and suffering of animal like status of the past is replaced by the pain and suffering of birth and the death of Christ. A role that women could become absorbed in through performance in song during the repetition and rhythm of their working life, the preparation of food, dying of cloth, washing of the dead.

A move to a more ‘innocent’ identity. This renegotiation of Identity came at a significant cost but it was an attempt to create a more stable society through limiting violence in the community. The reduction in status of a section of the population was a traditional legal move, which while it could be catastrophic leading to the eradication of the identity of targeted groups it was ruthlessly functional.

One significant feature that came with the establishment of the monastic system was the stability it afforded it lay populations associated with these houses of god. The ability of these elite sponsored stores of cultural memory to hold fast within the landscape through the generations is a significant achievement.

The modern urban  settlement pattern of North was formed on the successes and ability of these religious settlements to hold fast in the landscape.

They must be viewed within the context of their time rather than through the eyes of the present. It is impossible to reconstruct a perfect picture of this period but we certainly can attempt to dissolve and understand this past in the present. The hardest part of of many craft’s is learning to let go.

The Bloodlying Of The Howling One


Irish Law of Bloodlying 6th cen.

To Go A Howling

32. There are twelve women in the territory whom the rule of nursing in Irish Law excludes. a woman who turns back the streams of war, a ruler entitled to hostages, one who is abundant in miracles, a woman satirist, a woman wright, a woman recovered by a leech of the territory, a sharp tongued virago, a vagrant woman, a werewolf in wolfs shape, an idiot, a lunatic. It is by a fee to their kin these women are to be compensated: they are not brought away (to be nursed)

City Too Hot


Four Seasons In The Frozen North

Sleeps Now The Wide Eyed Host

Winter comes and with it an utter change in my routine and habits as they adapt to the hanging rhythm and sounds of the city. No more late night walks and late night reading an activity now carried out in the early morning. Coffee becomes far more of a treat, two cups first thing and then an hour or two of reading while the house is still hushed at its other residence lei sleeping.

Fortunately my upstairs neighbors, central heating system is settling down and the range of clanks, hissing, and grinding high pitched whine are settling into a quieter and more normal routine. Mind and body adapted to walking up at five a.m.

Change of habit and routine of this life and seasonal change within a vast machine are quite welcome and brought with it a new thought. I am sure I heard the sound of a bird in the pump as it hissed and spat and my ears became familiar with its rhythms.

Never thought what the sound of an air pump could be like before. A strange old man standing an engaged in a weary act of repetitive movement also seems to muttering in a Russian accent. Could he be lurking in my neighbors cupboard, ensuring the system flows regularly and nothing escapes? Detached, lost in a different time, but still utterly engaged in his weary task and its numbing rhythms?

My stick men crayon adaption in mind, of an old masterpiece is beginning to be filling with sound and an opportunity to layer it with far more memories of other things and ideas.

For I Have Put A Spell On You And A Wisp About You’re Head

Here the days and light grow short but memory begins to live and wield its spell over everyone in the house. Tales of childhood, smiles and laughter. This afternoon we embark on the hunt for an ancient magical creature, long forgotten. The Thimble, a strange small fury beast with green and red strips, that was one of our children’s constant companions.

For a number of years I spent countless hours engaged in this quest.

Sometimes we all played the game of hunt the thimble when it was intentionally hidden. At other times the experience could be somewhat more vexing when Thimble became accidentally lost. You had to drop what you were doing and find it, often that was just a case of plotting the usual movement and routines of a small being and looking in the usual places.

Sometimes Thimble would turn up in highly unusual place’s and it seemed almost as if it may have been sulking and wanted some attention.

One of its chief magical properties however was the ability to disappear between the hours of 6p.m to 7p.m. Corresponding exactly with bed time.Uncanny. We clearly need to find it before this witching hour or all hope of uncovering it on top of a wardrobe or at the back of a drawer will be lost; judging from long experience of dealing with this creature.

I Will Not Die Though You Bury Me

Such is the way of magical objects when they are deployed in you’re path. They demand immediate attention to remedy the spell or curse that has carried them. The product of a small and intimate face to face society and culture.

The Hunt for The Thimble has begun.

City Too Hot: For Every Tick Its Tock


Jaws, Gaps, Space, Rupture and of A Women Who Recently Gave Birth To A Rabbit So I Am Told.

How doth the little crocodile Improve his shining tail?

Within the silence, between the sound?

With stone in hand and a stave through my throat

come a riddle come a riddle

come a rote tote tote

What Am I?

Contemptus Mundi: The Pure Gift and The Disinterested Giver?

Limed In Words and Thought: Black Friday

No Idea what this is other than its words are Russian 1880’s apparently and sounds rather good (I think).

“Standing Next To A Mountain Drop It Down With The Edge Of My Hand”

Title is drawn from an anthropological theory on the gift, exchange and reciprocity in which the old idea of contemptus mundi “the contempt for the world” is viewed as a conceptual prerequisite for new forms of transactions and exchange in the Christian West. Distracted coming across the concept again after a long absence from the subject. Who pays for the harp on entry to heaven? How do these conceptual changes effect more earthly forms of reciprocity and the vast system of exchange within modern societies?


Bill Miller, Humiliation and Other Essays On Honour, Social Discomfort and Violence