There is so much in these stories that I cannot adequately explain what is necessary in the prose itself. Each element is like the web of a spider, spinning away from the story into a labyrinth of cultural references, lore, and such. One common piece is the variety of ways people in those days tried to protect themselves from the Netherwild. There are many points of interest here, but one in particular is the strange ways that amulets against the Netherwild show the ambivalence of most common people to the conflict between the priests and the wizards. Certainly, in most cases, I would guess if pressed they would spout one allegience or another, depending on their geographic and politcal location, but when it came down to it, most commoners, frightened of and in danger from the otherworldly influences of the Wild and other supernatural forces, were wont to rely on any protection or combination of defenses they could. The following examples show this, among other interesting things:
- Ancient and modern coins placed on withered dandelion petals--The first part of this amulet is pretty clear, an attempt to pay spirits for protection (though the combination of ancient and current coins is curious: by the time of this story, it was probably tradition, but it earlier times it was an acknowledgement of the irrelevence of time on demons), which is generally frowned on by the various priesthoods of the region, but the dandelion petals are themselves an appeal to the gods: because of their resilience and the difficulty in uprooting them, dandelions were considered sacred and representative of the presence of Midir. Clearly the adjudication of the commerce between commoner and spirit here was intended for the gods.
- A bowl carved from honeycomb and filled with porridge--Another offering, though this time with a different purpose. In the southern ranges of the Tubalothes, porridge, especially maize porridge, was considered a distinctly mortal food, one which was deadly to demons and other Unreal, because, according the Madar myth, it was given specifically to mortals by the gods. By leaving the food offering a honeycomb, however, the giver was disguising the deadly gift in the hypnotic power of the honeycomb and likely calling on the support of the bees, who were commonly viewed as emissaries between mortals and spirits.
- A cage wrought of aspen bark and wire with three beetles inside--This one is much clearer. Beetles were commonly associated with the god Kiron, whom many of the commonors in the part of the world paid devotion to because of their Madar heritage. The cage in this case is symbolic of the children of Kiron (the Madar) being kept safe and protected. The fact that it is made of aspen bark, a material used commonly by wizards because they saw it as an amalgam of the hair and fat elements, may or may not be coincidental. As a far as I can tell, there is nothing about the wizard use of aspen bark that is relevant in this case.