Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If You Go Down To The Woods Today - Pretty Serious Grimm Demise review

It's time for another Polish+ Post! Today I have the stunning teal glitter Grimm Demise from Pretty Serious to show you, and some neat Scandinavian fairytales to tell you, so grab a cup of tea and get comfy.

Pretty Serious are one of my favourite indie polish brands to recommend when newcomers to indie polish ask me where to start. While the company itself is totally indie (Kaz, the owner, is also the sole full time employee) their polishes are professionally manufactured. This means they can't do quite as big a range of crazy glitters as some of the hand mixed indies, it does mean all their polishes are absolutely consistent, every single time. It also means Pretty Serious are able to keep 99 per cent of their range available at all times, which is a big plus for me. I hate hate HATE getting something amazing and wanting to put it up here to show you all, only to find it's sold out. But because of how Pretty Serious stock their inventory, I know I can pull out any of my (ever growing) stash and write it up, and if you like it you can go and get it too without drama.

Grimm Demise is one of a little mini collection that came out a little while ago called Seriously Random, which unlike their usual themed collections was a sampling of several really pretty polishes. I wore Purple Monkey Dishwasher from the same collection on my nails for my Catwoman cosplay, and absolutely loved it, so I went back and got Grimm Demise because it's basically a teal version of PMD. The formula of Grimm Demise, like all Pretty Serious polishes, is just perfect. Not too thick, not too thin, and it self levels beautifully - not to mention it's sparkly as FUCK.

Pretty Serious Grimm Demise Swatch
Three coats alone, full sunlight

You don't need to wear anything under this for coverage, but I did find it veered a little too much on the green side for my taste when worn alone. A quick coat of teal underneath, however, makes the blue sparkles really pop out.

Pretty Serious Grimm Demise Swatch
Two coats over teal, full sunlight
Pretty Serious Grimm Demise Swatch
Even under diffused lamp light, it's still JAM PACKED with sparkles
One more little bit of awesomeness about this - as a lover of teal and blue polishes, I've kind of gotten used to staining on my nails. Unfortunately, the dyes used to make teal polishes seem to just be inexorabloy drawn to my nails, and will NOT BUDGE once I've put it on. But Grimm Demise left NO STAINING. None at all. I wore it twice because I thought the first time was a fluke, but same result second time around - no staining at ALL. BRILLIANT.

So in short, do you need this polish? If you like teal, if you like sparkles, you would be an idiot to pass this up. Go get it right now.
Not only is this polish breathtakingly beautiful, since it's named after The Brothers Grimm, it's also the best excuse I've had for ages to relate some more folklore to you all. Let's talk fairytale forests, and the things that live in them!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The forests of folklore are green and lush, like this polish, but also often deeply dangerous. I'm sure you've all heard Hansel and Gretel and Goldilocks before, but there were hundreds of stories across many different cultures of the dangers of wandering off into the woods alone. These stories are particularly prevalent in the parts of the world where the natural state of untended land is forest, and for a long time most villages were surrounded by dense woods that effectively cut them off from the rest of the world. The people living in the middle of these woods often had a complicated relationship with the forests. While the impassability of a good old fashioned, untouched forest was extremely useful in terms of keeping out invading forces (or hiding your village from them completely), it also made it really hard to get much of an awareness of the world outside your village with any sort of certainty. The woods and forests often provided a lot of the food for the village, but would also often claim quite a few lives every year. It's no surprise they became so iconic in folklore - forests became symbolic of mystery, magic, freedom from everyday constraints, and most of all, danger.

One of my favourite denizens of the deep dark forests is the Huldra from Scandinavian folklore. In Norwegian folklore specifically the Huldra are part of a broader tradition of huldrefolket, or "hidden folk" - a rough equivalent of the faerie folk of England and Ireland. Huldrefolket are magical creatures who look almost human, and who often interact with humans, but who's motivations and origins are largely unknowable. I wasn't about to find any sources specifically stating this tradition of huldrefolket existed beyond Norweigan folklore, but considering how many Nordic cultures have Huldra stories it seems pretty likely it did. Depending on what region the story in question comes from, Huldra can also be known as Skogsra, Tallemaja, and Ulda. Depending on who you ask, Huldra can be helpful, mischievous, or downright deadly. But across all these versions there is one characteristic all versions of the Huldra have in common - they are almost always stunningly, enticingly beautiful. This is a stark contrast to the Slavic "witch in the woods" traditions, where the magical women of the woods are almost always ugly and/or deformed, but also have wisdom beyond that of mere mortals. The Huldra aren't particularly known for their wisdom, but there seems to be absolute consensus on how banging their bodies are.

In some stories the Huldra appear naked in front of hunters lost in the woods, and step slowly backwards into the trees, luring the hunter further and further in until he's lost the path. Then she turns around, and since her back half is shaped and textured exactly like a tree, she becomes invisible and the hunter never finds his way home again. I never felt particularly sorry for the hunters in this version of the story - I mean really, if you're going to follow a random naked chick into the woods so far you can't find your way back out again, then you probably weren't the brightest of sparks in the first place. Something else I also found inexplicable about this version of the Huldra was that they apparently had a back that looked like a tree, but also a cow's tail. I don't really see how a woman shaped back textured like a birch tree with a cow's tail hanging out of it would be such amazing camoflauge that you couldn't tell the Huldra from the rest of the trees, but I guess such is the nature of stories.

Huldra illustration
"Huldra" by tobiee on Deviantart
In other stories the Huldra are a bit more helpful, and appear as beautiful (clothed) milkmaids with a fox or cow tail. If you're nice to them, they'll help you out by pointing out good places to fish, or tending your fire while you sleep, or putting out. But if you're rude in some way (they were particularly sensitive about their tails), or spurn their advances, you're usually in a whole mess of trouble. Mind you, even if you don't spurn their advances, there is a good chance they'll either snatch you away to help raise their children, or rock up a year later to your house with a changeling baby for you to deal with, so there's not always an upside as such. According to some (dubious) sources breeding with the Huldra was quite common - you could tell the children of such a union because they would inherent their mother's tail.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I find it particularly interesting that there were also male huldrefolket, who were known to lure away innocent young milk maids with a pretty face and presumably rock hard abs. It's an intriguing characteristic of Scandinavian and Nordic folklore that both good and evil characters quite often have an equivalent in either gender. While there is at least one "wicked woman in the woods" story in just about every culture, very few have a male counterpart: Yuki Onna from Japanese folklore, for example, is beautiful and often deadly just like the huldrefolket, but she is always female. I do have to wonder how much this is a reflection of, or contributed to the culture of relative gender equality in many Scandinavian countries. If you compare the way Japanese traditional culture views women, and how Scandinavian traditional cultures view gender relations, it's undeniable there is a big difference. Unfortunately it would take me several years of a dedicated sociology degree to work out how much is cause and how much is effect.

Archeology and Folklore (1999) Edited by Amy Gazin-Schwartz, Cornelius J.
Wikipedia - Huldra  

Just one final note on the folklore half of this - during my research for this and similar posts, I've noticed a serious lack of actual, authentic folklore sources on the net. A lot of stories seem to just be the same version copied and pasted across a million site, with no sources or anything. Since I have a ton of paper books on the subject at home, I was considering putting up posts every now and then that are just recording the interesting versions of various stories I have at home. How many of you would be interested in reading that sort of thing?


  1. Ooh I just got this, but didn't even think of layering it! Looks amazing, can't wait to try it out. :)

  2. I would definitely be interesting in reading more folklore stuff :)

  3. It's green BSOD!

    It's always been a bit of a culture shock to me how much the arts relies on physical books compared to the sciences, where everything is e-nabled (haha pun). I mean, the reasons for this are obvious (attitudes towards technology, rapid obsolescence vs. no such thing as obsolescence) but it's still jarring.

    1. I have ALL the Pretty Serious polishes in this finish now...I loooove them all!

      I think with social sciences there is so little online because the papers aren't really written to be shared in the same way that scientific papers are. Social science academics are often SO specialised that there are maybe three other people who will want to read your Master's paper - and you can just email it to them.

  4. I would love to hear more folklore stuff! I find it so fascinating... Especially all the lesser known stuff like the Huldra. That was really interesting! :)


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