Friday, November 30, 2007

New Car, New Phone

I have a new car:

Well, not new. It's quite used. It is a '92 Toyota Four Runner, white in color, or at least presumably so, at some point in its past. My license number is not CTHLHU or anything like that, sadly; but I do intend to put my tasteful plush cthulhu doll in the car.

My phone number has also changed today: if you are someone I would want to have my new number, e-mail me for it.

Also, and most importantly, as of tomorrow, around 10:30 in the morning, Janelle and I will have been dating for three years.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The Benandanti, or "Well-farers" were a small agrarian cult that came to the notice of the Roman Inquisition in the 15th and 16th century. I've been reading up on them recently after being linked to the wikipedia article about them.

Essentially, the Benandanti seem to have been the remnants of a vaguely shamanistic european religious tradition. The Benandanti claimed that every Thursday during certain times of the year they would leave their bodies behind and their spirits, either in the form of or riding various animals, would battle against the Malandanti, "Evil-farers", or witches. The year's crops were at stake in this nocturnal war: if the Benandanti were victorious, the harvest was plentiful. If the Malandanti won, it would be a very lean year.

The Benandanti (especially the female members of the order) were apparently able to perform other supernatural feats, such as seeing the spirits of the dead and so forth.

The interesting thing here is that the Benandanti of the 15th and 16th centuries identified themselves as Christians, and thought that the tasks that they were accomplishing were done in the will of the Lord. This attitude befuddled the Inquisitors that took notice of them; and in the various interviews recorded by the Inquisition we see the Inquisitors continually attempt to place the Benandanti into the established mythology of witchcraft, essentially by marking the Benandanti themselves as witches, and the Benandanti refusing (at first) to allow the destruction of distinction. The Inquisitor would ask the Benandante if they had attended a ceremony obviously intended as a black mass, and the Benandante would reply that no, of course not -- they had gone there to break up the ceremony instead.

Over time, however, the increasing attention shown by the Inquisition and the subsequent lowering reputation of the Benandanti saw the gradual replacement of the Benandanti's original view of themselves with the view given by the church: in the end, many Benandanti gave up their activities, and many began to see themselves as the witches the sect had traditionally battled.

(I haven't gotten to the part yet where it says if the crops suffered as a result).

In any case, this plight of the Benandanti has struck an inspiring note in me, and when I have a bit of time on my hands I am considering writing about them -- either as a story or two, perhaps, or as a role-playing game. Probably the latter.

If you're interested in reading more about the Benandanti, the wikipedia article has some fairly good links, but pretty much everyone references the book "The Night Battles" by Carlo Ginzburg, which I am reading right now.

I'm sure I'll have more information on the game as I write more, if and when I have the time.