In old folklore, cold iron was thought to hold the power to repel fae. Underlying idea was that the human forged iron was no longer ‘of nature’ and was therefore a weapon against the old spirits. Throughout history it was therefore commonplace to use iron to cast away evil spirits, witches and even the devil himself.
Even today, a visit to the hobbit hole present iron in its mythological setting as there over the door hangs a horseshoe. Its rusty, old surface portraying luck inherited from horse to owner to me. It is one of the few ‘new’ items I brought with me from Magdeburg (In the bathroom a second item resides: a b&w postcard of a naked lady).
Diverging mildly from folklore and rooting itself more in early Christianity, (one version of) the horseshoe legends claims that Dunstan the blacksmith was once visited by a hoved man. The righteous smith was then and there asked to “shoe” the guest, revealing the devilish nature of his character. Borderline unrighteously, Dunstan agreed. Yet in the process (that got him a sainthood) he captured and tortured the devil without release until he promised never to enter a house with a horseshoe nailed on the door. Myself, being of the belief that evil only enters on (ignorant) invitation, I put little weight to the superstition. I do, however, find the lucky horseshoe a rather romantic sentiment, so there it hangs on guard of fae or to gather luck, whichever I need the most.
In addition to the lucky, possibly spirit repelling piece of iron, the apartment has become a rather pleasant dwelling for human specimens such as myself. Some of my old paintings are on the walls, the books are partly sorted in the make-believe bookshelf and the color scheme is looking pretty alright with an increasing turquoise/red combination mixed with otherworldly nature romanticization. The oversized wardrobe is oddly, but out of necessity, placed in the kitchen. A fact I somehow seem to disregard nowadays. It is still rather absurd to think I live there. But I guess this level of understanding comes with habituation.
A few days before the arrival of Dr. Who, who recently joined our little research family here in Bolzano, I went on IKEA building mode. At Don Quijote‘s, I mounted the old bedsofa (dragged from the flatshare in Magdeburg) that was to be the new arriver’s temporary bed. In supervising frenzy Don Quijote told me (in response to my efficiency) “do it properly, or you’ll end up killing my new postdoc”. He would not admit to it, but he seems really happy for the particularities of the addition to the group.
Conversing briefly with Dr Who, one necessity becomes apparent. Namely, to rectify the situation in which he had been mistold about the “torture dungeon” (his words for the hobbit hole) by Don Quijote. I decided to invite them both for dinner to ‘visually clear things out’. In an effort to please them both, I cooked up some spicy jumbo shrimp dish, that while turning out mighty tasty, made the name of ‘torture dungeon’ seem rather appropriate. The hotness of the dish was intense enough to have sweat pearls trickle down Dr. Who’s slim cheeks as he kept up appearance. Even hotness-deluxe-Don Quijote once in awhile made a bit of a manly gruff. As the hostess I was in emotional conflict. Filled with mild sadistic amusement at the spectacle and guilt at the unintended infliction. Dr. Who aiming for some polite (also believable) “mmm, very good” refilled his plate humbly at some point, at which time point my guilt was exceeding my pleasure, and I started offering soothing yogurt from my fridge. Needless to say, manly pride prohibited any takers. It is rusty irony that Don Quijote‘s complains of the lack of punch in my cooking, is what almost sends his postdoc to the faery world. Well, at least I got a heart pumping. I guess that must count for something.