It is with the great sadness that we have to take leave of one of our most appreciated Ancient Origins authors and Ancient Origins Magazine columnist, Charles Christian, who unexpectantly passed away on September 23, 2022.
His personal profile describes him as:
An English barrister and Reuters correspondent turned editor, author, blogger, podcaster, award-winning tech journalist, storyteller, and sometime werewolf hunter, Charles Christian. He writes, he drinks tea, he knows things.
Descended from a motley crew of smugglers and rogues, Christian was born a chime-child with a caul and grew up in a haunted medieval house by the harbourside in the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough. He now lives in a barn on a ley-line in rural East Anglia.
According to folklore a caul-shrouded chime-child can’t drown at sea but can see and talk to faerie folk and also has protection against spells cast by malevolent sorcerers. And yes, he was once commissioned to go on a werewolf hunt on the night of a full moon by a newspaper. Spoiler alert: he didn’t find one. (Or it didn’t find him.)
In the five years that I have worked with Charles I was always excited to find his articles in my inbox. Editing his work and corresponding with him had me in stitches most of the time, and as I had interviewed him – and he interviewed me, I could hear his voice telling his stories behind his written words.
Charles was a barrister and attended to historical fact with such precision as he would prepare for a court case, but as a journalist, he also had a way of uncovering gems and snippets of history among boring facts, bringing to life the trials, tribulations, heartache, joy, scandals and love and hatred of individuals, with such humour and humanity, that one always had the sense of knowing his subjects personally.
A best tribute to Charles and opportunity to remember him personally, would therefore be for him to speak in his own words:
Charles, the Werewolf Hunter:
I confess I do have a soft spot for werewolves, possibly because it is the only cryptid/paranormal creature I have ever gone hunting for. It was on the night of a full moon in the summer of 2016, at the behest of an English newspaper. (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t find one – or at least it didn’t find me!)
Not surprisingly I did my homework before I set off that night and while much of the material I uncovered is probably already well-known to Ancient Origins readers, there were a few surprises, not least the fact the much of what we in the West now regard as traditional werewolf lore – including the bit about if you shoot a werewolf with a silver bullet, the creature will revert back to its original human form – actually stems from a couple of movies made in the 1930s, namely Werewolf of London and The Wolf Man. If you go further back in time to the days of the mass witchcraft trials of the late 16th to late 17th centuries, which include a number of werewolf incidents, you will find the supposed werewolves were killed by hanging, beheading, being burned at the stake, shooting or just been run through by spears and pikestaffs.
Charles Christian standing by a tombstone posing for press photographs ahead of the ‘werewolf hunt’. Saint Mary’s graveyard, Hull. Photo credit: Charles Christian / Urban Fantasist .
On wayward kings and queens:
Bored with listening to his advisers and church officials discussing politics, the young king crept out of the coronation feast and was next encountered “minus his crown” in his private chamber “cavorting” with two women: a noblewoman called Aethelgifu and her daughter Elgiva (or Aelfgifu), who were members of an influential Wessex family. Certainly, one report does describe him as having to be “dislodged” from the bed where he was found lying between the two equally amorous women, while another says the king “retreated to his chamber to debauch himself with two women, an indecent noblewoman and her daughter of ripe age.” It is also worth noting Eadwig was regarded at the time as being very good looking and was often referred to as King Edwy the All-Fair, so are we talking about a Saxon-era babe-magnet?
On the Yorkshire Wold:
It is a place where kings built hospices to protect weary travelers from wolves – and werewolves; a place where cloistered monks chronicled the predations of zombies, vampires and aliens; a place dotted with henges, barrows, tumuli and ancient burial mounds that superstitious locals once avoided for fear of encountering the fairy folk who dwelt there. It was here, in prehistoric times, that the first settlers in this countryside worshipped before stone monoliths, while wearing masks fashioned from the skulls of animals, and where in later times, the county’s squirearchy had their masques disturbed by the screams of an unquiet skull. Unmatched by anywhere else in England, the Wold’s many myths and legends also include green-skinned fairy folk, headless ghosts, ancient warlords, miracle-working priests, a disappearing river, an avaricious Queen, a black skeleton, a Parkin-eating dragon, sea serpents, turkeys galore, England’s oldest buildings, shape shifters, enchanted wells, giant monoliths and a grid of ley lines.
This is perhaps the best description of the world that Charles inhabited, and I sincerely believe that this is where he might find himself now, talking to ghosts and fairies and not coming to any harm at all. Fare thee well. Brooms-up Charles!
Our sincerely condolences to his wife Jane, and his family and friends. He is missed and made this world a fun place to live in.
Charles’ legacy lives on. Read more about Charles’ wonderful work and imagination at:
Top image: Charles Christian (center) doing the “Ratty thing” with the cast of the Fisher Theatre pantomime. Photo credit: Charles Christian / Urban Fantasist .
By Micki Pistorius