Please join us in welcoming author JL Merrow today, on the tour for the latest installment in her Plumber’s Mate series, Blow Down. Enjoy JL’s guest post, and then be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below where you can enter for the chance to win a $10 Amazon or ARe Gift card and an autographed copy of one of the first three books in the Plumber’s Mate series.
Bless My Bottom
Hi, I’m JL Merrow and I’m delighted to be here as part of the Blow Down blog tour. Today I’d like to talk to you about Frith.
Frith said, “Then come out of that hole and I will bless you instead of him,”
“No, I cannot,” said El-ahrairah, “I am busy. The fox and the weasel are coming. If you want to bless me you can bless my bottom, for it is sticking out of the hole.” – Watership Down, Richard Adams
For those who haven’t read Richard Adams’ magical tale Watership Down (or seen the excellent film), El-ahrairah is the rabbits’ trickster god, and Frith the Sun God of all the animals (at least, this is how the rabbits see it). Shmoop.com describes El-ahrairah as a cross between Rabbit Jesus and Rabbit Batman, but I prefer to think of him as Rabbit Loki, with Frith taking the role of Odin All-Father.
Both Loki and El-ahrairah use their cunning and intelligence to win out over stronger adversaries. And both help their devotees out: if you look at the original Norse myths, Loki was far from the anguished adolescent of the Marvel universe, lashing out at all around him. A maker of mischief, yes, but Loki of the myths actually did quite a lot to help people, sometimes after all the other gods had given up. Furthermore, El-ahrairah actually means Prince of a Thousand Enemies, and it’s fair to say Loki collected a goodly number of foes of his own (anyone credited with bringing about the end of the world tends not to be universally popular, for some reason).
So what’s all this got to do with Blow Down? Well, as anyone who’s read any of my previous Plumber’s Mate Mysteries knows, my narrator, Tom Paretski, is a bit psychic—he has a talent for finding hidden things (and water). This sort of psychic talent is, of course, commonly known as divination, and there are various systems and methodologies that have been developed by practitioners.
I was rather delighted, during my research, to find out about a Scottish divination system called frith. Frith is an Old English word meaning peace (cf modern German: Friede). Frith is described, in Alexander Carmichael’s Carmina Gaedelica (a collection of folklore, charms and prayers made in the Gaelic speaking regions of Scotland in the late nineteenth century) as follows:
THE “frith,” augury, was a species of divination enabling the “frithir,” augurer, to see into the unseen. This divination was made to ascertain the position and condition of the absent and the lost, and was applied to man and beast … The augurer, fasting, and with bare feet, bare head, and closed eyes, went to the doorstep and placed a hand on each jamb. Mentally beseeching the God of the unseen to show him his quest and to grant him his augury, the augurer opened his eyes and looked steadfastly straight in front of him. From the nature and position of the objects within his sight, he drew his conclusions – Carmina Gaedelica, Vol II, “Frith Mhoire”
Tom, of course, can only find hidden things, and relies on the “vibes”, rather than the position of random objects—but it’s interesting to note that the practitioner of frith did so with bare feet, and with his hands on an object (the door frame) fixed to the earth. As with the water diviner’s rod, all this was undoubtedly just a tool to help the practitioner to interpret information that came from within. Perhaps what the augurer was really reacting to was some kind of vibration coming from the earth? Tom may perceive his vibes differently—but maybe the source is the same?
And the connection between frith, the divination system, and Frith, the rabbits’ God? Well, it’s all just in the name, really. But it does help us get a glimpse of Tom’s childhood, and his relationship with his sister at that time:
“I liked that book,” I said, as it started coming back to me. “Fiver, the little one, he was the most important, wasn’t he? Had all these weird visions and stuff that saved all their lives.”
“I can’t imagine why he was your favourite,” Cherry said drily – Blow Down
Question: Readers, have you invited the lord Frith into your life? Or, ahem, have you had any experience of divination? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! 😉
About the Book
Death is what happens when you’re making other plans.
The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents. Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiance, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer – and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself. As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all different directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love – and all their plans for the future – could be blown down like a house of straw.
Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.
About the Author
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team. Find JL Merrow online at www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jl.merrow