Not Sanskrit for "Doormat"

Not Sanskrit for "Doormat"

Recently – especially within the last week or so – I’ve had a number of folks tell me that they used to idolize me and my work for opening their minds, and yet they’re somehow surprised that I feel disgusted and enraged by sexism, racism, homophobia, and the willful ignorance that leads to such behavior. Anyone who feels that I should turn a blind eye to abusive behavior has missed the point of my work. Yes, I believe in having an open mind. I have also – in all of my work – stressed that actions and choices have consequences. Read more »

666: Six Aspects of Horror (Part I)

666: Six Aspects of Horror (Part I)

Horror is not about zombies, or vampires, or even torture at the hands of maniacs. As we head into the season most associated in America [1] with horror, I want to point out that horror is more concerned with mortality than with decoration. (“A home-movie from Hell.” 40 years in, still one of the best examples of a true horror film.)  More often than not, we get so wrapped up in the trappings attributed to “horror stories” – monsters, chainsaws, thunderstorms and so forth – that we forget what makes horror HORROR. As I’ve noted before,  artists and audiences keep Read more »

Recognizably Human, Unquestionably Other (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part IV)

Recognizably Human, Unquestionably Other (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part IV)

I met a lady in the meads, Full beautiful ― a faery’s child, Her hair was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were wild. – John Keats, La Belle Dame sans Merci (Part IV of a series; for Part III, click here.)  (I Do Believe, by Amy Brown.)  “Wanna go for a barefoot walk in the woods?” So asked my friend the Magnolia Fairy. Having just picked me up at the airport during a tour for my newest book, she drove us both to the mountains where she lived. Shortly thereafter, we padded down a narrow, winding trail. Read more »

Intimate Familiarity (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part III)

Intimate Familiarity (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part III)

Beauty began to change. Her hair was almost always a tangle… she was almost always barefoot ― there were hard calluses on her soles. Her senses were so sharp that she could smell and hear things she had never known existed before. This was the happiest she had ever been in her life. – Francesca Lia Block, Beast (Part III of a series; for Part II, click here.)  (La Belle Dame sans Merci, by William Waterhouse.) My first crush was a barefooter girl. So was my first wife, whom I met in a medievalist group. Cathi never brought shoes to Read more »

Hobnails and Hot Iron (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part II)

Hobnails and Hot Iron (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part II)

She looked so sweet, from her two bare feet To the crown of her nut-brown hair Such a coaxing elf, sure I shook myself To see if she was really there… – “Star of the County Down” (traditional Irish folk song) (Part II of a series; for Part I, click here.)  “Don’t your feet hurt?” folks asked us as we hiked. “Don’t you have blisters?” we replied. It’s funny how many times I was called “Wild Man” by fellow travelers in that wilderness. Each night we shared with them, Pooka and I watched other hikers rub their feet, change bandages, Read more »

A State of Tender Connection (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part I)

A State of Tender Connection (On Wyld Feet, They Fly, Part I)

O! the music of their feet – of their dancing goblin feet! O! the magic! O! the sorrow when it dies. – J.R.R. Tolkein, Goblin Feet Beneath my soles sang the pulse of the world. It was spring 2006, and I’d been hiking the Appalachian Trail with my friend Pooka, barefoot as a hobbit on a dream-date with Mordor. That morning, I awakened to a misty haze. A storm the night before had cloaked our campsite with otherworldly fog. Entranced, I’d stirred Pooka from her sleep and opened the door-flap to reveal a lush green faerie grove. “Wow,” she breathed, Read more »