Old bookends and the mystery of the time-travelling library book

African art, by unknown artist. Photography by author.

Despite the convenience of digital e-books, most people feel glad to get back to a printed book. We like the feel of it, the art on the cover and even the smell. Some people like a glossy new smell while others like the sweet mustiness of old books. Most people check carefully that no one is looking when they have a damned good sniff of an old book.

We take care of books too. I was chastised once in the past by an old woman for putting one of her books on her carpet. She told me I was showing…


The Lion and the Hare — lessons from folklore

Riot police and protesters outside the Capitol, January 2020, by Tyler Merbler, C.C. 2.0

I discovered two folk tales recently which put me in mind of the recent troubles in Washington. Both stories involve a lion and a hare. One turns up in India and the other in Africa. Small children can enjoy them on a simple level. They can also be explored more deeply by older children and adults. Both stories are easy to remember, even after one reading.

The stories can diffuse some of the fear felt by younger children, having watched the siege of the Capitol on the news. That fear can become easily magnified by parents, alarmed at the use…


Does Lula Landry in Cormoran Strike have her origins in the myth of Harry Potter?

Photo by Ralph Mayhew on Unsplash

Luna Lovegood has a hidden twin. She exists, symbolically at least, in J.K. Rowling’s adult myth, Cormoran Strike. Is this a deliberate ploy contrived by the author? Or is it part of an ongoing subconscious process?

Here follows a quaternity which helps us to visualise the two characters in relation to each other:


A Reply to the ‘Dean of Harry Potter Scholars’

Photo by Rudolf-Peter Bakker on Unsplash

My occasional articles on J.K. Rowling’s mythology recently came to the attention of John Granger, the ‘Dean of Harry Potter Scholars’. Granger has written and lectured on the subject of Rowling’s mythology for many years. An interview with him turns up in a documentary, in one of the Harry Potter DVDs. According to his bio on Wikipedia, he’s a member of the Orthodox Catholic Church.
Granger wrote a brief article on my posts here on Medium. I’ll start by correcting a couple of his comments concerning my views on Christianity. …


Flower child imagery in war-torn Germany

Sophie seeing her brother and friends off to the Eastern Front, 1942, public domain.

Sophie and Hans Scholl were two siblings who wrote for the pacifist White Rose collective in Nazi Germany. They were convicted of high treason by the Nazis after being caught distributing the collective’s anti-war leaflet. After a trial, they were both executed on the same day with their friend, Christoph Probst, in Munich in 1943. Several months later, millions of copies of their leaflets were dropped over Germany by British airplanes. With the recent publication of their collected letters and diaries in English, non-Germans can now have more insight into their lives…

The first time I saw a photo of…


The Omega Gang, from comic book to film

Cinema poster and book cover for critical review

I wrote an obscure article in the 1990s which became an influence on the X-Men. The comic book author Grant Morrison later discussed the topic in his book, Supergods. He said a fictional gang in the X-Men is based on my ideas in the past. Here I’ll look at the gang and follow their evolution to the cinematic series.

The Influence

Back in the late 1990s, I wrote an article for a journal in the UK which applied IDP (Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality) to pop cultural trends.¹ The article took the four main atavistic moods of friendly weakness, hostile weakness, friendly strength…


The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond

Bottle by Pretty Drugthings, Unsplash, Huxley from public domain and book cover for critical review

Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond were friends for 10 years, leading to Huxley’s death in 1963. Aldous Huxley is best known as the novelist who gave us classics like Brave New World. Humphry Osmond was an obscure psychiatrist who worked with psychedelics in the 1950s-60s. He lived in Canada. This is a short review of their correspondence, collected and published for the first time by McGill-Queen’s Medical Services.

Both men were originally brought together by the subject of mescaline, the psychedelic found in various cacti. Aldous had read an article by Osmond on the drug which impressed him so much…


Darkness and light in J.K. Rowling’s Troubled Blood

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler, Pixabay

This is a brief analysis of the rabbit and its role of psychopomp in J.K. Rowling’s novel, Troubled Blood. The article contains spoilers to the book.

Hidden jokes

Troubled Blood has similarities to a fairy tale as well as being a crime novel. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how Rowling bridged the myth of Harry Potter to Cormoran Strike via Luna Lovegood.¹ Rowling keeps her fairy themes in her crime novels to a necessary minimum but sometimes the similarities become obvious.
So if we look at the character Oonagh Kennedy in Troubled Blood, we find that this former Playboy Bunny…


J. K. Rowling’s The Silkworm in relation to Troubled Blood

Brig o’ Doon, Alloway, Scotland. Photo by August Schwerdfeger, C.C.

Bridging the gap between Rowling’s portrayal of butch women and effeminate men creates a quaternity of revelation…

J.K. Rowling caused some controversy with her recent inclusion of a cross-dressing serial killer in her novel Troubled Blood. In her defense, she could claim that novelists have every right to reflect the real world, including rare forms of homicide. She’s even hedged her plot by basing her killer on two real murderers. The fact that she’s at number 1 in the bestseller’s list is enough to remind her that she has a considerable backing of popularity. …


A critique of Psychology Today’s analysis of Jung and Freud’s friendly joust

Jung and Freud, and the entrance to Berggasse, 19, Vienna. Photograph of Freud’s door by Motmit, C.C., portraits public domain.

In 1909 Jung and Freud became involved in a dispute involving possible psi phenomena. Jung made claims of precognition and synchronicity. Freud disagreed. Psychology Today magazine covered the topic with a derisory approach to Jung and a strong bias in favour of Freud. Here I’ll offer an interpretation with an appraisal of Jung.

Freud’s study at Berggasse 19

The episode happened while Jung was visiting Freud at his home in Vienna. The two men were sitting in Freud’s study and were discussing the possibility of psi phenomena. Freud was (at that time) highly…

Iain Spence

Based in Scotland. Interests in pop culture, mythology and psychology. Profile photo is rather out of date.

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