The Spells

Besides the “Dwarfspeak,” there are a few other interesting parts of the composition of the book where I wonder how much my great-grandfather did versus what he was given, or found, or otherwise collected and came to send the original pages of the Dwarf Story.

I asked him once about the incantations (the “counterspells”) that Arty uses to combat the Gwyllion’s own magic that she used on Emma and on the fairy creatures found by the friends-of-friends. There is also one in the “Storm Battle” that Thryst uses, and one in Arty’s room is used on Ted – and they work!

W.W. told me that they are “real” (uh huh…), and are actually the precise ancient Egyptian spells (ok, that’s better!) that call upon their gods – Osiris, Isis, Horus, etc.

Since my great-grandfather’s own academic work presents Egypt as a beginning for humankind in that their myths and gods had deep personal meaning but were also separated from conscious beliefs and thought – and so for the first time could be thought of as stories and not real, for the first time there was struggle within the human mind – I wonder how much of his own deep, intellectual research seeped into the happy, silly little modern fairy tale he had sent me.

(Either that or he found the story as-is and this was why he liked it! In that case he must have followed many clues himself to figure it all out! I wonder…)

W.W. also explained that the Egyptian wordspells were presented in the Irish language – luckily something Arty realized in time! – to form the words that are in the book, and those that must be spoken against the Old Woman of the Mountain. He said that he can trace “coptic” (i.e. Egyptian) influence into Ireland by way of the monks from the 5th century. (He sent me many papers on this, including “Egpytians in Ireland: A Question of Coptic Peregrinations, by Robert Ritner, which I haven’t read yet, but if anyone wants to, please send me a summary.)

He also assured me that the meaning of each spell Arty uses “accords with the etiology” – that is, matches the symptoms – of what each of the friends-of-friends’ is suffering because of the Gwyllion.

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