The Dream-Hunters (Mazzeru) of Corsica (Mythic Genoa material)

The Dream Hunters (Dorothy Carrington, Phoenix 1996)

Now that the house is more sorted following the sale, I’ve begun to dig out some of my research material that’s been unceremoniously shoved into the wardrobes. By example, I’ve dug out this gem of a little book, which has the following blurb:

“…The dream-hunters, or mazzeri, are unknown outside Corsica and probably date from pre-historic times. At night they go hunting or dream they do so – and kill an animal, in whom they recognise a human face. The next day they announce the death, which always takes place within a year. Where the mazzeri are harbingers of death, the signadori are guardians of life – they practise folk medicine, but more importantly,they secure release from the curse of the Evil Eye…”

When I first picked this up it looked just like a resource I could mine for a large amount of interesting material about the local variant of Nightwalkers (mazzeru or in the south, culpadori) and their benign counterparts, the signadori in particular. This was to be expected, but turns out to be a somewhat limited assumption.

Rereading it again though, I recall there are also some great ideas for the gazetteer of Corsica that I intend to form a part of the Mythic Genoa project section of this site:

  • the paladini of Filitosa (menhir like rocks)
  • the Evil Eye and the Imbuscada, demons of ambush
  • “Wine of Stone” (the generally evil nature of Corsican water)
  • the mystery of the maquis undergrowth
  • the origins of the vendetta and Invidia, the Prince of Envy
  • the Asphodel of Virtue
  • “Bread of Wood” (the properties of chestnut flour)
  • the folk magic wards of Corsican shepherds
  • the lagramenti mists
  • the Laestrygonian giants of the south
  • the endemic malaria of the coast that plagued the Romans

Sure, I’ll have to dig out HMRE (easy enough in PDF to be honest) and check the details of Nightwalkers again, as I think some of the mazzeru might suit an involuntary variant form Timothy presented on his blog a while back but the heavy lifting has already been done.

Fortunately, I’ve sorted out the signadori a while back and have rediscovered the cutfile – in my view they work as a Divine aligned variant of the standard wise woman, with access to a variant of the Banishing power of the Ex-Miscellanea Donatores tradition. They differ significantly from common Folk Witches however – the representative Corsican witch tradition, the stregoni, have more in common with the Infernal stringla of Thebes (see The Sundered Eagle) but ride aspa (the vertical component of a spinning wheel) and are feared as shapechanging demons that drink blood. These shouldn’t take long to detail properly.

I’d note that for a remarkably small island, there’s a lot of interesting usable Mythic information across the various supernatural realms to draw on. Sure, it’s not really obvious where to site a potential covenant compared to Sardinia, but as a place to visit or the potential sanctuary of a Hermetic eremite I can see some potential.

Given previous editions have barely detailed the area, it’s going to be fun to flesh this area out further, perhaps even with a few interesting NPCs. I’ve just got to avoid turning it into the Ars Magica caricature version of Asterix in Corsica, which is a potential danger.

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