Featured Post

An Interview With Simon Loxley

Monday, August 7, 2023

Something About Aelfrics Wuldor

Olde Tyme Waves.

I mentioned ye olde English ... ugh, no.  Just Old English.  I mentioned Old English several months ago and how Miss Eells stumbled upon a copy of a book written in the ancient language in a midwestern farmhouse outside Stillwater, Wisconsin.
Later in The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb (1988), her brother, Emerson, identifies the document as "an ancient book of magic called Aelfrics Wuldor. A few manuscripts of this book existed in England in the ninth century, and I have a copy." How that rabbity Emerson managed to get his hot little hands on a copy of this bizarre book is another story.

Several people named Aelfric (or Ælfric) appear in the history of England, with most living and dying nearly 1,000 years ago and most being abbots.  Never a Costello.  The word derives from Old English name elements meaning elf and power.  Bellairs fan Kalev Hantsoo shared some research into one of the most prominent abbots, Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955–c. 1010). Hantsoo noted this person was likelier to have written a book like Aelfrics Wuldor because he was known as Ælfric the Grammarian and the author of Anglo-Saxon homilies, a translator of Holy Scripture, and a writer on several miscellaneous subjects.
He has also been wrongly identified with the other major Ælfric - Ælfric of Abingdon - who served as Archbishop of Canterbury around the same time.

Wuldor, on the other hand, stems from the proto-Germanic word wuldrą (meaning "shine, radiance, glory, splendor").  So, elf power and glory.  Anyway --

Although not used as a proper name, wuldor frequently occurred in medieval literature, such as wuldorfæder ("glory-father") as found in Cædmon's Hymn, and wuldortanas ("glory twigs") as seen in the Nine Herbs Charm within Lacnunga, a Tenth-century medical manuscript. 

Charles Bowen, one of Bellairs's lifelong friends, wondered if Bellairs chose wuldor due to its similarity to the word wundor – since his dictionary says the two terms are often mistaken for the other.

Whether an actual manuscript entitled Aelfric's Glory existed is debatable; if so, we don't know if it discussed magic. Hantsoo suspects Aelfric to be very religious, primarily concerned with spiritual and theological issues, and may have been reluctant to write a book on magic and Norse and Phoenician deities. Indeed, the Clerk of Oxford blog explains:
Almost all Ælfric's writing is educational or pastoral in purpose, and he was a teacher to his fingertips, constantly engaged with the question of how best to communicate complex and challenging ideas to his audiences. He was a fluent writer of English prose, and later in his career he developed a beautifully measured blend of prose and alliterative verse which falls melodiously on the ear. 
More likely, Bellairs wanted an Anglo-Saxon-sounding name and gathered some from his Old English word hord.

No comments: