Folktales, Place, Megaliths, Bluebells, Homeless Children, Angels, Demons, La Llorona, Bad Streets and Landscape.
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Medway Megaliths: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medway_Megaliths
Myths Over Miami: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/myths-over-miami-6393117
Bonus Link: The Last of the Monsters with Iron Teeth: https://carcinisation.com/2014/10/04/the-last-of-the-monsters-with-iron-teeth/
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From Medway To Miami
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the interwoven nature of myths and truth and place.
About how important the flow model of reality espoused by Gordon White is. for having a larger understanding of the world.
About how folktales are localised in landscape. How the land wraps itself around a story like a blanket. So tightly that both the story and the place become part of the fabric.
I grew up in Kent. So there are loads of stories embedded in place.
If you drive over BlueBell Hill, on the A229 south of Chatham there are two stories to pick from. The ghost of a bride-to-be is said to try and flag down cars for a lift. Multiple drivers have said they have picked up women and driven them to Chatham for them to vanish when they get out the car.
For decades there have been numerous accounts of motorists saying they have driven into a girl who rushes out in front of them. This girl is said to look calmly at the driver before vanishing under the car.
I used to teach forigen students english in the summer when I was back home from university. One of my jobs was to go with them to the airport to see them off. Driving back it would be just me and the coach diver chatting. One of them told me straight up he’d seen a girl late at night by the side of the road that looked like she was going to step out.
I bring this up not to tell ghost stories in the middle of summer. But because I want to place them in the landscape. The hill is of course covered in bluebells. Blue bells are also fairy flowers. Rung to summon fairies to a meeting. As such. It is expedient to ask the empty air for permission before you enter a bluebell wood. And to whisper thank you as you leave.
But there’s more. On top of the hill are two monuments. One dedicated to the crew of an air ambulance helicopter that crashed there in tragic circumstances in 1999. The other are the standing stones known as the Medway Megaliths. The most famous of which is Kit’s Coty Constructed circa 4000 BCE. Three standing stones with a 4th laid across the top. It’s a name that falls down to us meaning “Tomb in the Forest”. From the Ancient British *kaitom, later *keiton, meaning “forest”.
All this weird off on one stretch of road in the south east england. Given the flow model and the landscape I’ve always felt it pretty clear that bluebell hill is a place that likes to remind the living that it exists.
Now lets zoom 7000 kilometers west from Medway to Miami. I want to point you towards one of the most amazing articles on the internet. “Myths over Miami” published by 1997 by the Miami New Times.
It tells of the shared complex spirit culture between children in the city’s homeless shelters. 8 year olds explain to other children that Angels “Eat light so they can fly,” that they hide in empty buildings while they study battle maps. “There’s a lot of killing going on in Miami” one kid called Andre says. “You want to fight, if you want to learn how to live, you got to learn the secret stories.”
On Christmas Night 1996 God fled Heaven to escape a demon attack, his palace of blue marble smashed to dust. Leaving his stunned angels to defend his earthly estate against assaults from Hell. What’s more remarkable is that children in shelters across the country reported being awakened from sleep. Alerted in dreams by dead relatives.
The children go on to explain that One demon is feared even by Satan. They know her by two names: Bloody Mary and La Llorona (the Crying Woman). She weeps blood or black tears from empty sockets and feeds on children’s terror.
The homeless children’s chief ally is the Blue Lady. She has pale blue skin and lives in the ocean, but is hobbled by a spell. “The demons made it so she only has power if you know her secret name”. The folklorists interviewed are baffled by the origins of children conjuring Bloody Mary by chanting her name before a mirror coated with ocean water – a theft from the Blue Lady’s domain – in a pitch-dark room. Perhaps they should have asked a local mambo.
Embedded within the landscape of the city is of course the river that drains to the everglades. Here’s what the kids have to say. On “One side, called Bad Streets, the demons took over” . “The other side the demons call Good Streets. Rich people live by a beach there. They wear diamonds and gold chains when they swim.”
I won’t spoil the rest of the article but there’s much much more. If you read it, it will blow.your.mind. This is the world of the vulnerable homeless population or at least it was in 97. I would argue a far more real world than “the party in the city where the heat is on” as Will Smith once sang.
What does Myths over Miami suggest about the fabric of the city and story. With runesoup eyes on I wonder about land, the place, the people. There are also the hurricanes to consider of-course too. It’s interesting.