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The Mythology of Quebec

June 5, 2010

Been keeping up the research – I just pillaged Quebec’s National (as noted elsewhere: we call province-level stuff national. Local affectation) for new books – on Quebec mythology and The more I read of it, the more I like the picture that emerge.

Take Satan. He’s always lurking nearby in Quebec mythology, but something is always a little off about him. He doesn’t feel threatening. He doesn’t have plans within plans within plans to get your soul – he just has the one, quite painfully transparent plan that almost never fail to come apart on him; the loopholes in his contracts that you could drive a jumbo-jet through…and that’s when he doesn’t just plain help for the sake of helping, as in some versions of the chasse-gallerie,or “accidentally” help while trying to play a quite dumb trick. (Let’s not even get into the part where he lets priests summon him to help in building churches of all things). It’s almost like he’s not even trying.

Then you run into a pair of little gems. One of which states that, while God busied himself with creating life, the task fell to his many angels, and even to Satan, to actually order the landscape around, with the entire lowlands of the Saint Lawrence being shaped by Satan – the magnificent forests, the solitary mountains, the majestic rivers – to the point where he was evidently quite impressed by his own handiwork, not to say that he was hopelessly in love with it. The other of which state that God sent forth Archangels to chase him out of that land and into the dark mountains beyond

Then there’s this account by an actual, honest-to-God Catholic village priest, who recalls how he once worked hand in hand with a witch during an attempt to find a buried treasure – the witch guided the search party, the priest blessed them, and the search went on. Which is not so unusual in Quebec, where witch and sorcerers are not the petty curse-throwers of the United States, but a sinister counterpart to the Priest – someone with dark powers from unholy sources, but just as much a servant and guide to the community as the  priest, able to help them deal with threats the priests could not handle.

Then there’s the Loup-Garou whose defining feature is that they’re generally harmless if terrifying, the women who stand their ground against them and free them from their curses while the men run away, the genuine local brand Fair Folk legends (And that’s Fair Folk, not Tinkerbell-fairies), and a real Bad Guy (well. Bad Girl actually) who puts the capital E back in Evil in a way that makes Satan go green with envy in the form of the Dark Fairy/Enchantress/All-Around Pure Sadist Matchi Skouéou/The Juggler/The Lady of the Gladioluses…

Yeah. Definitely liking the potential there.

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