Ooh! Ooh! Just checked the mail! I have another parcel waiting for me at the post office!
I’m just back from a wonderful tea break with my oldest friend. Like me, over the past two years she’s been going through depression, reorganising her priorities, weeding out what’s holding her back and creating room to focus on what she considers important.
It’s so good to have a friend with whom you can share everything… yes, everything. The one in whose company you can bring just about any topic up and know that she’ll take it seriously, no matter what. The one who laughs at the same kooky things you do. The one who knows where you’re coming from because she feels pretty much the same way.
We may drift out of each other’s lives every few years or so, but we always drift back. And that’s nineteen years of drifting away and back, baby. Nineteen.
Eep. On one hand, that’s grounds for a “we’re how old!?” check. On the other hand, it’s certainly a reason to celebrate.
We’re quite alike. So much so, in fact, that we joked about our significant others checking in with each other to compare notes, making sure that we were still on an even keel.
Friends are blessings. Some come, some go, but I’m lucky enough to have several friends who have come back into my life some time after our first interactions, and they’ve become the best support system a girl could ask for.
So, thanks, y’all.
Now I’m torn: I desperate want to open The Rebirth of Witchcraft, but I keep thinking I should review my class for tonight, even though I prepared it first thing this morning.
I think the book wins.
Ceri and I have been e-mailing back and forth about various things Celtic and mythological, and it’s been driving me up the wall that I know I have information somewhere concerning these topics, but I can’t remember where.
See, when you start reading and researching things just because you’re interested, you rarely keep notes. It’s just for fun, after all. Then you become more serious, and you make notes here and there on things that interest you. Then the random notes start coalescing into the connections you make between different authors and myths and characters, and before you know it, you possess a body of knowledge that’s impossible to document, because it’s a comglomerate of ideas and readings from all over the place.
We can’t write down every single thing we learn from the outset. That’s absurd.
Nor can we write down where we found an interesting idea, because it won’t necessarily encompass the whole set of associated things that sprang into our minds when we first encountered it.
So what does one do?
Well, evidently one re-reads as much as one can get one’s hands on, and reads with awareness, with a highlighter, sticky notes, and a pencil by one’s side. No, better make that a pencil and a pen, the pencil to make notes in the text (come on, you’ll have to do it sooner or later), and the pen to write notes on the post-its (because pencil smudge son sticky-notes).
One invests in a stack of lined notebooks from an office supply shop and begins to make notes outside the texts, as well. As one runs into ideas found in other texts too, one slaps a sticky-note with the other title (and pertinent page numbers and chapters) at the appropriate spot. It sort of creates an off-line world-wide web. (Except it’s library-wide. Specifically, your library.)
This means photocopies of chapters from books you don’t own (personal use, fair use of property and all that). It means investing in second-hand books. It means asking for books for your birthday, Kwaanza, Midsummer, whatever. It means using other people as resources.
It means documenting your sources, and leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.
Why is this so hard for people to do? WHy don’t people understand the necessity of documentation? Why do people insist on making things up, or reading one text and assuming it’s correct? (I love the Internet, don’t you?) Granted, my way is a lot more work, but it’s a lot more rewarding. It’s a heck of a lot more enriching, too.
It also means you can cover yourself in case of difficulty later on when you feel the need to discuss the topic. Shoddy scholarship makes me spitting mad. I also frustrate myself because when I started all this, it was out of personal interest. Now, it’s become something more. And I’d give anything to go back and keep better records, take clearer notes, in those first couple of years. It physically hurts me to see people refuse to keep track of their research in an effort to avoid more work. It only wastes energy, in the end. Sure, you’ve got the knowledge… but where I come from, unless you can back it up, that knowledge is just pretty wall covering inside your skull.
I know the average person doesn’t operate by academic standards. I just wish more people would understand the importance of keeping track of research.
That, gentle readers, is the sound of a bibliophile who has in her little paws on an out-of-print text that�s nigh-impossible to find at an affordable price.
Yes, indeed. The Rebirth of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente. And it�s mine, mine, mine!
The parcel arrived half an hour ago, and I waited until now to open it. Three layers of packing (Three! I admire their devotion to protecting my purchase from the heartless, brutal postal system, but really!) I had to worry off before at last, it lay in my hands. I actually experienced a shiver when I turned it over and beheld the cover.
This is a text written by one of the central figures in the establishment of the modern practice of witchcraft, about the contemporary history of the practice from the beginnings of the twentieth century right up until the eighties. Eyewitness accounts from someone as influential and as respected as Valiente are rare. Everyone has a biased and subjective point of view, of course, but I�d be quicker to believe Valiente than some others. From an academic standpoint, this is a first-hand account of the politics and social struggles British witchcraft encountered as it re-emerged in the twentieth century and tried to settle into something coherent, and as such it�s a valuable piece of history, as well.
Apart from all of that, this is just a wonderful find. Second-hand, it usually runs between seventy and a hundred dollars, depending on its condition. This copy was only thirty. It�s shelf-worn, but no pages are missing, marked, or bent, and I wanted a copy to read it, after all.
New book! Out of print book! Rare book! Bliss!