Not the pin-cusion dolls and zombies of hollywood, but the wild, earthy, intense religeon practiced by a people ripped out of many places and pulled together in a gumbo of different influences and cultures…. There are times I want to be able to reach out and ask for advice, not from a friend, who has an aegenda or knows too much, yet too little.
Mate Care-For, protect me.
There’s a book by Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides. It features, among other things, Black Beard, Stede Bonnet, Calico Jack and his wenches Anne Bonny and Mary Reed, Voodoo, and the Fountain of Youth. It’s typical Powers, which is to say, not typical at all. It’s an insane, inspired, possibly brilliant piece by one of the most inventive SF/Fantasy writers working today. It threads a fictional story into real historical events, fictional people in a fictional story side-by-side with real people from the pages of history books. Powers is an obsessive researcher so when he tells a story this way, it’s spot on with the details.
This is also clearly a book that inspired a lot of the Pirates of the Carribean movie. I mean, the lead character is Jack Shandy, his lady is named Elizabeth, there’s a ship crewed by zombies, there are curses. Too many similarities to be completely accidental. Published in ’87, it predates Curse of the Black Pearl by a good fifteen years.
The beauty of Powers’ work is that he peels back the cover and shows us the magic – sinister, dangerous, dark magic – hiding behind ordinary reality. He shows us a world where everything has a meaning, and everything that looks sinister actually is. Of course Blackbeard was a sorcerer, we think. How could he not be? Of course pirates practiced Vodun. How could we not already have known this?
The pirates in Powers book call on someone, a protective saint, a person, a protector. Mate Care-For, they call him. They summon him for luck, for protection. They carry charms to suppon his attention and thus summon his protective presence.
Only, he’s not just that. He’s someone else. He’s someone more.
Maître Carrefour. Master of the cross-roads.
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