~ Guest Post by Dr. Joaquin M. Ayala de Cedoz, PhD ~
Paratge. Cortezia. Convientiae. These are the Occidental words you are greeted with on the obverse of the Kingdom Coins. What do they mean, exactly? Well, that is difficult to say because historically speaking, none of them have a uniquely individual/singular, definition – rather, they represent a set of ideals, a philosophy of sorts, even a way of life. The terms individually could be defined or translated in a literal sense, but that would generally diminish their overall meaning. I interpret them as a collective whole, and to me, they represent honor, loyalty, respect, perseverance, moral purity, brother/sisterhood and even mystery.
Geographically speaking, Occitan was once more widely used than French, and it was the first language of many people – including some English royalty! It was not until the Albigensian Crusade (a.k.a. the Cathar Wars) in 1208, declared by Pope Innocent III, that suppression of the people and their language began. Over hundreds of years, this suppression ranged from Occitan being discouraged to being outright forbidden, and those who used it were punished with varying degrees of severity.
The suppression was a result of these wars, the annexation of lands to the French government, the French Revolution and especially, the thirst of the government to develop a national identity through the use of one pure language – French. All dialects and patois were considered shameful and lesser “languages” which must be banned. The language persevered and has survived to this day, but not without the consequence of losing large numbers of users. Today it is enjoying a renaissance, even gaining official language status in southern France in schools, government establishments and public areas.
With all this rich history and culture behind them, the Kingdom coins lend themselves to some very interesting presentations. While they are not representative of any real monetary value, it does not mean that they cannot be made to represent money, or something similar. It could be a coin that was traded to represent a favor owed to the giver, based on the philosophy of paratge, cortezia & convientiae.
Before I even had the Kingdom coins in hand, I had already developed a great idea for them. As a fluent speaker (not native) of Occitan, using my personal interpretation of the words, I applied them as a substitute for Chinese coins for Troy Hooser’s Charming Chinese Challenge. If you are interested in using them for that effect and are familiar with it, you will have to find a thin satin cord to use – the ribbon used for the Hooser effect is too wide. The crosses in the dollar-size Kingdom coins are better, and the ones in the half dollar-sized coins may be prohibitive.
Rather than giving away my exact scripting, I will give you a general idea that you can use to develop your own along those lines. Note that since the words paratge, cortezia and convientiae are up for interpretation, you can use that to your advantage – or just make something up!
If you are not familiar with the Hooser effect, you can purchase an updated version in two sizes, U.S. dollar or U.S. half dollar, from your favorite dealer. As an aside, though the ad copy uses the word “gimmicks”, there is no such thing used in the Charming Chinese Challenge.
Those of you that are familiar know that the coins are threaded onto a length of ribbon and then penetrated off the ribbon, one at a time, in very visual and eye-popping ways. In my presentation of the effect with the Kingdom coins, they represent three relics from Rennes-le-Château (Rènnas del Castèl in Occitan). In a concept similar to the [three] Deathly Hallows in Harry Potter, each coin represents a different part of a (whole) philosophy (the aforementioned paratge, cortezia & convientiae). Separately, they are not very meaningful, but together, they provide insight for living a fruitful life.
If the place name of Rennes-le-Château is familiar to you, you may have read the Dan Brown book, The DaVinci Code. The old mystery/conspiracy theory of Rennes-le-Château – the supposed treasure that was dug up by Bérenger Saunière, is a large part of the plot in the book. There is much more to that mystery than that particular point, and that sort of thing makes it easy for the Kingdom Coins to represent just about anything to do with Languedoc and Occidental history!
Dr. Joaquin M. Ayala de Cédoz (Dr. J.) is originally from Barcelona, Spain and is currently based in the United States. He is a studious magic historian and loves to share the history of magic with audiences through the performance of classical magic. Dr. J. holds a PhD in Culinary and Nutritional Anthropology and lives in Michigan with his wife and two children. For more of his thoughts, visit his blog: www.magiadeespana.wordpress.com