Hello and welcome to Episode Thirty-One of Page Turn: the Largo Public Library Podcast. I’m your host, Hannah!
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The English Language Transcript can be found below
But as always we start with Reader’s Advisory!
The Reader’s Advisory for Episode Thirty-One is The Yield by Tara June Winch. If you like The Yield you should also check out: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, and The Round House by Louise Erdrich.
My personal favorite Goodreads list The Yield is on is Modern Mrs Darcy Podcast Lists.
Happy Reading Everyone
Today’s Library Tidbit is about familiar spirits.
It’s fall Halloween was just a few days ago and seemingly spooky things have been on everyone’s mind. So on today’s tidbit I’m going to dive into what familiar spirits are, their history in different cultures, and why you should never appropriate a different cultures terminology and understanding of them. This last little bit is the reason why I will be using the term familiar and familiar spirit throughout this tidbit as I am mostly European and it is the pan-European term for this concept.
I am not going to be going into the practice of witchcraft or be discussing if familiar spirits are real or their morality.
A familiar spirit is an entity, animal, plant, or other natural thing, that you form a special bond with. This connection is not a light bond but rather a bond that you feel connects you to something on a spiritual or soul level. This idea is something that exists in cultures and time periods across the world. These familiar spirits exist to guide a person, either teaching them specific magics or guiding them through person life dilemmas and through personal growth. A non-religious familiar might be a centering touchstone that someone finds comfort in because it reminds them of attributes that they share.
European traditions mostly use the term familiar or familiar spirit.
Native and Indigenous groups have multiple different words but English speakers typically use the word totem to describe all of them. It is important to remember that different tribes will have their own word for this concept.
Totem poles are specific to the Pacific Northwest area of the continent of North America, from Alaska to Washington and British Columbia.
Spirit Animal is another term used by Native tribes to describe tutelary guides. Totems are one type of spirit animal but used specifically by the Northwest Pacific tribes. However, most of the information about totems that I have just said also applies to spirits animals. In other words, spirit animal is a Native term and should be respected as a Native term.
In Norse culture there exists the fylgjur plural, fylgja singular.
Across Mesoamerica exists the belief in the nagual and the tonalli or tonal. Some sources will say that they nagual is related to a spirit guide, however, they are more therianthropy. In other words Naguals are shape shifting witches. Tonals, on the other hand, are familiars that are assigned at birth. Tonals are attached to the Aztec horoscope calendar and are guardian spirits.
Other words for familiar in other cultures that either have very broad definitions or have characteristics that don’t fit into my tidbit today are spirit, spirit guide, doppelganger, personal demon, spirit companion, ayami and syven.
Familiar spirits are deeply personal and often important both religiously and culturally for different people groups. Because of this it is insulting to use language from a culture you are not a part of casually. Unfortunately, due to colonization, most people are too comfortable using words and concepts for themselves that are not part of their cultural heritage. I would encourage everyone to research into their own ancestry and pick a term that is part of their cultural heritage.
And now it’s time for Book Traveler, with Victor:
INTRO: Welcome to a new edition of Book Traveler. My name is Victor and I am a Librarian at the Largo Public Library. Today I’m going to talk about a book that we have in the Spanish collection called Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor.
SYNOPSIS: The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse―by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals―propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumors and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village. Like Roberto Bolano’s 2666 or Faulkner’s greatest novels, Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence―real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it’s a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it.
OPINION: Hurricane Season is made up of a series of stories that join the main story. Each story is narrated by different characters related in one way or another with what seems to be the central focus of our story; the mysterious murder of the village Witch. The novel is divided into eight chapters. Five of them tell the story of each character involved in the death of the main character The Witch.
The story begins when some children discover the corpse of The Witch floating in an irrigation canal and through rumors a passionate story unfolds, driven by barbarism, by poverty, by the lack of opportunities. The story and the unique way of narrating femicide through different voices allows us to study in depth the stories of the characters that are involved and how it is that they came to be part of the mystery; from the murderer’s motivations, to what happened the day after the murder.
The backgrounds of the novel are various: drug trafficking, male and female prostitution, child abuse and domestic violence. The novel is a portrait not only of the reality of the state of Veracruz but a cruel reality that occurs throughout the world. This story makes us reflect on the violence that is experienced daily in our countries, it makes us reflect on how normalized it is, the precarious situations that other people experience and the mentality that being born in a culture so plagued with violence makes it normal to turn a blind eye to rapes or murders.
The novel is shocking and it took me a while to read it. I warn you that in Hurricane Season, the author does not hesitate on writing real, violent descriptions. There is pedophilia, rape, and zoophilia. There are also drugs, abuse, desolation, and mental health problems. The reader must be prepared for the reality shock that awaits them in reading. It is a story where Fernanda Melchor denounces what is happening in her country. She tells us that yes, that nightmare underworld exists, that every day there are girls and boys whose childhood is stolen. That every day there are women who have to prostitute themselves to survive. It also tells us that homophobia is rampant in society. The book is highly recommended.
OUTRO: That is all for today. See you next time on Book Traveler. Bye.
For everyone interested our intro music is by Break the Bans and the outro music is by Jahzzar, both artists can be found on Free Music Archive.