Much powerful magic comes from the Celts, a brilliant culture feared by many. Living around 700 BC, the Celts were spiritual people who looked to Druids for guidance in their everyday life. The Druids were healers, teachers, judges, bards and astrologers; above all they were priests, who believed that the Divine Creator existed in every aspect of nature. The word Druid means 'knowing the oak tree', and this tree was held sacred by the Celts.
When the Romans invaded and occupied Celtic land, they described the Druids as Paganists, meaning 'country dwellers'. With the advent of Christianity, the word pagan was attributed to those cultures who worshipped other Gods. The Druids' practice of natural healing, often through spells, ointments and concoctions, conflicted with Christian belief. These customs were soon labelled as 'witchcraft', and later witchcraft became associated with 'demon-worship'.
Magic can have various outcomes, depending on the type of magic used and the intentions of the practitioner. Black Magic, or Dark Magic, is performed by invoking evil powers, normally for personal gain or to harm others. White Magic is done to help or protect a person and does not injure others.
Arachnophobia is the term used to describe a person who is afraid of spiders. Sometimes the sufferer is overcome by an uncontrollable panic attack.
Irrational fear can arise not only when a spider is visible, but also when the sufferer sees its web or even, in some extreme cases, a picture of a spider. This condition can become quite an obsession and affect the daily life of the person.
Although most spiders are harmless, this type of phobia is one of the most common. The word Arachnophobia comes from the Greek: 'arachne' meaning spider, and 'phobos' meaning fear. According to legend, Arachne was a beautiful Greek lady who learned weaving from the Goddess Athena. She became more skilled than her teacher, so the goddess turned herself into an old woman and tricked Arachne into weaving unflattering pictures of the Gods. Athena killed Arachne, but later poured a magic potion on her body, turning her into a spider, so that she could continue with her weaving.
During the Middle Ages, people believed that all spiders were poisonous and could infect anything, even water, if they fell in it. At one point Europeans thought that spiders were causing the plague, even though the real infection was spreading through fleas carried by rats. Recent studies suggest that the modern phobia of spiders evolved from the fear and disgust felt during the Middle Ages.
Quills were used to write between the 6th and 19th centuries. They were eventually replaced by the metal pen, which was first patented in America in 1810 and was mass-produced by the year 1860.
The strongest quills were made from the wing feathers of geese, turkeys, crows, owls, hawks and eagles. Swan feathers were scarce so they were considered ‘luxury’ quills.
Right-handed writers normally prepared feathers from the left wings since these curve out to the right and thus away from the hand. On dipping the tip of the quill in ink, its hollow acts as a reservoir; during writing, the ink flows by means of capillary action.
Some people today still prefer writing with quills instead of pens, because the strokes made by the feather are sharper.