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Under a Western Sky

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All Things Cosy

I’m intrigued by this article I found on BBC. “How did a bucolic dreamland became the perfect escape from real life? Anita Rao Kashi explores a whimsical world of nostalgia, tranquillity and folksy mysticism. A few weeks into lockdowns everywhere, a curious thing happened on Instagram feeds. More and more, they filled with images of pretty cottages adorned with climbers and flower...

Becoming Indian

I’ve been chuckling about this video for a few days now. the1491s. “I’m An Indian Too“. YouTube <youtube.com>. Sep 21, 2012, retrieved Dec. 12, 2020. So then. When the laughing subsides for a bit, I’m ready to go on with some more reading around this topic. There’s a particularly active faux Red community on Geni.com. I have a long standing interest in the...

Slaver Profits in Scotland

There has been a flurry of activity around a new study linking the Atlantic slave trade to the Highland clearances. 18th and 19th centuries. Fascinating stuff. I read the Smithsonian article first. “Sure,” I thought, “we knew this already.” Or at least some of us could easily guess. If you read history, at some point you start to notice bits and pieces that aren’t...

More Gunns

I’ve written about the Gunns before: Recovering the Gunn Lineage (Jan. 31, 2019), so we already know I’m an admirer of Alastair Gunn and his work putting the Gunn lineage on a firmer footing. I still haven’t done the work of cleaning up my own notes. Some day. Soon. I promise. I saw recently on the Facebook page for Clan Gunn that Alastair Gunn has published The real history of...

Not Just Scandinavians

We’ve had all these little hints over the years, now here’s the confirmation. Viking expansion funneled greater genetic diversity into Scandinavia, according to new study published in the journal Nature. “The ongoing exchange of goods, people and ideas encouraged Vikings to interact with populations across Europe—a trend evidenced by the new survey, which found relatively...

The Templars and the Grail

It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything new and intersting about the Holy Gail. This might not be exactly new but it’s off the beaten path of modern romanticism. The legends about the Holy Grail are associated with the Knight Templar, almost from the beginning. And the Templars were in Poland. So… On the trail of the Knights Templar and Holy Grail in western Poland, at...

Tolkien on History

“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.”― Galadriel in J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Eliade on Oral History

One more piece on oral history. I think this is probably the first place I encountered the basic idea that oral tradition tends to “improve the story”. Sometimes, though very rarely, an investigator chances to come upon the actual transformation of an event into myth. Just before the last war, the Romanian folklorist Constantin Brailoiu had occasion to record an admirable ballad in a...

More Oral History

Here’s another story to illustrate the malleability of oral history. We should not trust our family stories, but always look behind them for ways they might have been elaborated over time. This story comes from Mircea Eliade, a Romanian historian. “Sometimes, though very rarely, an investigator chances to come upon the actual transformation of an event into myth. Just before the last...

Naming Conventions

One of the canards of genealogy is that professional genealogists always prefer the earliest recorded name. The idea is that name is the most authentic. More or less true, but not quite, not always. William Shakespeare, for example. You think you know his name? His baptismal record, the earliest in a scant collection, calls him Gulielmus — Latin for William. Wait! Do I have to change...

Yellacat Ranch Under a Western Sky
Justin Swanstrom

Justin Swanstrom

Made in America. Retired attorney. Bookseller at Shining Lotus. No Nazis in Valhalla. He/him.

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