The "dream hunters” of
The mazzeri do these things in dreaming, and the things they do are real. They may go out in the night, or they may leave their bodies during an afternoon siesta. They have a flair for bilocation, what the French call the dédoublement de la personnalité. You meet a mazzeru on a hillside, among the sheep, at an hour when his family swears he was asleep in bed.
The hunt takes place in a parallel world. In Corsican belief, the spirit of the dream hunter meets the spirit of his victim, a human who has assumed animal form. When he kills the animal, he severs the spirit from the victim's body. The human body of the victim may carry on for a time, but it is going to sicken and die.
The dream hunters themselves may take animal form - appropriately, the form of hunting dogs. The dream hunters don't seem to be regarded as evil or malicious; what they do is just a part of Corsican life, like the violence of a stream in flood.
This is all part of the night life depicted in a book by Dorothy Carrington titled The Dream-Hunters of Corsica. I can’t personally vouch for its content, and I’m not planning to check out these club-bearing night hunters any time soon. If I do, I'll take something larger than a dog with me. In a recent Italian documentary, the mazzeri are called facitori da morte ('death makers") and a type of European shaman.
Napoleon (and 43 of his generals) came from
The author of Dream Hunters of Corsica is herself a fine subject for a book. Oxford-educated, the daughter of a general who was a friend of Cecil Rhodes and a mother who had access to the leading literary salons, Frederica Dorothy Carrington (1910-2002) moved to Corsica with her third husband, the Surrealist painter Sir Francis Rose, after hearing tales of the island from a Corsican waiter. "My life really ended and started when I set foot in Corsica," she told me. "My former role-playing ended, and my vocation began."