“Braggot, Rain and Magic”

The first Fall’s rain after the Summer is like a shattered mirror, reflecting every little emotion, from the relief of the first fresh air to melancholy for the sunny days we leave behind. From the horror of the shrinking hours, to the comfort of a season full of prospects.

It is the season of grapes, pumpkins, and more intense colours.

And good books.

Actually, every season is right for good books, but you will agree with me that the rain and the first breezy is the ideal type of weather for a genre in particular: fantasy, with its magical atmospheres, supernatural beings, overwhelming mysteries.

Fantasy is the broader and more variegated literary genre, I guess, there are so many sub-categories to spin your head, but there are some hotspots that you can not neglect: the hero, the villain (very often one confused with the other), and magic!

There are so many novels on the myth of Avalon, Camelot and the Arthurian Cycle, that you could fill a whole library with them, not to mention media variations such as TV series, movies, even Disney had its say about it with “The Sword in the Stone” and the mythical Analects.

“There is no such thing as a true tale. Truth has many faces and the truth is like to the old road to Avalon; it depends on your own will, and your own thoughts, whither the road will take you.” [1]

I would love  writing a huge, fabulous, musical about Avalon. As big as Broadway production, but for now, I need to stay grounded and withmy eyes on the books.
The version of Marion Zimmer Bradley, “The Mists of Avalon”,  is, at the moment, the one I prefer, because it revises the legends of the Arthurian Cycle from a womanly point of view.
The hero, indeed, the heroine is Morgana. And it is also our villain (as I told you in fantasy is not always easy to understand what part plays the good and which one the evil), the magic is that of Avalon and its priestesses of the Lake (referring to the modern religious belief Wicca).

<Many of her characters are young women, married in their teens, and Zimmer Bradley handles their shifting thoughts about their husbands, their roles as wives and their nascent sexuality with care and consideration. She sustains a sprawling narrative with a huge, intergenerational cast of characters over almost 900 pages>[2]

The novel is part of a cycle, but in my opinion it is the best in the saga, the most fascinating, most appealing!

The rhythm of reading is a bit slow with many anticipations and ellipses, but the story is exciting andwith a simple, descending language, Bradley brings all the characters out of mythology and puts them in a more realistic situation, closer to the reader. Very well-known are Avalon’s rituals for traditional festivals and there is always a shadow of sensuality in love scenes.

The perfect scenario to read this novel would be Glastonbury, a small town in Somerset (England) where the legend wants the mythological tombs of Geneva and her inseparable King Arthur reside! And that the access to the magical Avalon is hidden beneath the slopes of the Hill, or that the very hill itself is the spiritual place in question, since it was in the past delimited by water, like an island.

Avalon would always, according to legends, be the place that Jesus and Giuseppe d’Arimathea had occupied, and where the man would take the blood of Christ and pour it into a wooden cup (the Holy Grail), and then take protection and institute the first UK’s Church.

 

<They have not forgotten the Mysteries,’ she said, ‘they have found them too difficult. They want a God who will care for them, who will not demand that they struggle for enlightenment, but who will accept them just as they are, with all their sins, and take away their sins with repentance. It is not so, it will never be so, but perhaps it is the only way the unenlightened can bear to think of their Gods.>[3]

 

But I understand it’s somewhat expensive to go to Great Britain to read a novel, so if you are brave (and resident in Rome) I suggest you to jump to the Avalon or any pub with medieval gothic atmospheres in your city where to taste the novel’s foods, smells, habits, and atmospheres.

But, if you are one of those who fall into the melancholy of Autumn, you can stay in your house and read on a comfortable sofa, I recommend a good soundtrack

  and the right drink: Braggot, a typical Nordic beverage, based on beer and spices, firmly served hot.

 

 

 


avalonIngredients 
2 oz American Crystal 40 L 
2 oz American Chocolate 
24 oz amber dry malt extract (Coopers, Australian) 
3.5 lb  honey (All-flower local) 
1 oz Kent Goldings hops (5.9% AA) 
Yeast – Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast 

Method 

Specialty grains were lightly crushed with a rolling pin, and wrapped loosely in a cloth bag, this was added to a large stainless steel pan with 1.5 gallons of cold water.  The water was brought to the boil, at which point the grain bag was removed.  At this point the honey and malt extract was added.  The mixture was brought back to the boil and 1/3rd of the fuggles hops were added.  This was boiled for 45 minutes and a further 1/3rd of the hops was added.  After 10 more minutes 1 teaspoon of irish moss was added and this was allowed to boil for 5 minutes.  The final 1/3rd of the hops was added the heat turned off and the wort strained into a clean sterile pan.  The wort was cooled in the pan by surrounding with cold water and then added to a sterilized 3 gallon carboy which contained 1.5 gallons clean water.  Additional water was added to bring the volume to 3 gallons. While the wort was boiling a package of yeast was activated in ½ pint of boiled and cooled (to 85 degrees) water containing 1 teaspoon sugar.
The temperature and specific gravity of the wort was tested, the wort was at 80 degrees with a specific gravity (corrected for temperature) of 1052.  The activated yeast was pitched into the wort after cooling.  A bung with an overflow tube was attached (to allow for blowoff of bitter hop resins) and the carboy was moved to a dark corner. 
 

 

<And then a memory from Avalon surfaced in her mind, something she had not thought of for a decade; one of the Druids, giving instruction in the secret wisdom to the young priestesses, had said, 

If you would have the message of the Gods to direct your life, look for that which repeats, again and again; for this is the message given you by the Gods, the karmic lesson you must learn for this incarnation. It comes again and again until you have made it part of your soul and your enduring spirit>>[4]

 

 

 


Curiosity:
“The Mits of Avalon” had a television transmission in a miniseries in 2001 directed by Uli Edel, then transmitted to Italy in 2004, featuring Julianna Margulies (former nurse Carol Hathaway in ER) as Morgana and the charismatic Anjelica Huston in the part of Viviana, the Lady of the Lake.

[1] From the novel.
[2] From “Washington Post”
[3] From the novel.
[4] From the novel.

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