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The Carnyx, the Games—Aberdeenshire’s Royal Farewell to Summer

THE CARNYX, THE GAMES—ABERDEENSHIRE’S ROYAL FAREWELL TO SUMMER
or The Royals know where to Party for End of Summer Fun

First Wednesday IWSG Party Time for Insecure Writers and other Scribes

March of the Lonach Men recalls the 1745 Rebellion, when wearing of the kilt was outlawed for 100 years

This Saturday, September 6th, 2019 finds the human Scots-Collective rallying at Braemar in extreme-inland-and-upland Aberdeenshire for the ‘Games’—the Braemar Gathering and Highland Games—in the 12-acre Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in the town, attended by HM the Queen and her immediate family. It is her last (holiday) appearance in Deeside—and Scotland—before her return at the end of the month to business-as-usual in London.

Aberdeenshire’s Other Summereve’s Celebration

Braemar, on the river Dee, follows a rival tradition—over the mountain and through the pass to Donside—where the (178th) Lonach Gathering and Games was held last Saturday, August 24th in Bellabeg, on the banks of the Don.

Beloved of Lonach fans, Robin Williams at the 2001 Gathering at Bellabeg, Strathdon Aberdeenshire

Known as the Alternative Gathering because of its attraction for Hollywood stars and in-the-know Royals, the Lonach is more of a society promenade than a competitive event. Yes, caber toss, hundredweight lugging and tug-o’war with dainty Highland dancing are all going on within the stadium enclosure, but the action is where international alliances are being forged on the ‘champagne picnic circuit’ ringing the field. Scots actor Billy Connolly is not alone in having a gracious country house within spitting distance of the grandiose Beer Tent; and his international guests are legend—Steve Martin and Robin Williams among them.

It’s an excuse for the remote glen to entertain as many famous international guests as they can squeeze into the valley for their last summer party—and the noble families of Donside hinterland open their houses in force. Sir James Forbes, Bart, cousin to Lord Forbes, head of clan Forbes, leads his green-kilted warriors to pipe and march from 8a.m. until they reach the field at 11a.m. Other pipers and pike-carrying members of the Wallaces and former rival-clan Gordon—join them, swinging in down the winding track.

No Historial Reenactment—Lonach Men March Three Hours through the Glen

Sir James Forbes of Newe, Bart, Patron of the Lonach Highland & Friendly Society, Bellabeg Strathdon

“Scotland in 1823 was on the cusp of monumental change, finally emerging from the bleak post-Culloden years to resume her rightful place in the World. With so much change in the air our ancestors saw the need to preserve their heritage, whilst still embracing the new.

“This is no historical re-enactment. The Lonach March represents an unbroken link from our forefathers to the 21st Century. Encountering the Lonach Highlanders for the first time takes you back to pre-1745 Scotland.”
Sir James Forbes of Newe and Edinglassie, Bart.

The Forbeses were once premier barons of Donside and Mar. Today, despite dwindling fortunes and a rich, punishing history—but unlike rival Gordons—a Forbes remains in possession of the clan’s oldest stronghold, Druminnor—the original 1429 Castle Forbes, seat of Chiefs of Forbes for 500 years. The Gordons rose to become Marquesses and Dukes, lording it over Strathbogie and the North, but Huntly Castle is a ruin and the feud has gone into the history books. Nowadays Lonach Men march together as one.

Flying threadbare standards gifted by Queen Victoria (tattered replaced by new, 2011), the Lonach Men stop at several remote dwellings on their way through the pass, each marcher toasted in whisky, given a dram and ‘haste ye back’, before the next halt. By the time they reach the playing field three hours later, they are in fine fettle.

Drunk or sober, it is the pipers’ duty to play after the day is done, too. They beat the retreat at 5:30p.m. when everybody—upwards of 8,000 souls—starts packing up champagne bucket, shooting stick and cucumber sandwich leftovers, to drive home. There have been years when it took four hours to reach Aberdeen and the coast—42miles away—in single-track traffic from Newe. [For perfectionists, it’s pronounced N-y-ow, like Meow with an N].

Rallying Call to Battle Gathering—Pipes or Carnyx

Celtic continental influence in Roman Scotland, Deskford’s Carnyx battle horn rallied Caledonian troops to march—as haunting a sound as Lonach bagpipes

On a magnificent cloudless late August day, it is tempting to compare the faint haunting call of the pipes as the Lonach Men march into the valley with the battle cry of Pictish hoardes described by Tacitus in A.D.79 at Mons Graupius.

A recent collaboration by Aberdeen and Euro continental archaeologists, comparing the few examples of bronze-cast sacred battle horns—Roman carnyx—allowed a replica to be made which sounds authentic—John Kenny plays, photo left.

Its weird high-pitched call (to battle) is hauntingly similar to the sound of the pibroch from a single piper’s drone on a high mountain pass. The Deskford carnyx , found in 1816 Banffshire (now Aberdeenshire) was ritually buried (on a battlefield?) with gold, silver, bronze bell, the battle horn itself a stylized boar’s head with upturned snout, signifying bravery of an indomitable superior race.

Sacred to the Picts, carved Boar stone from Donside, Aberdeenshire approx. A.D.420-700—earliest clan animal of Forbes and Gordon, courtesy National Museums of Scotland

Pictish Symbols Distilled into Clan Heraldry
Roman legions called them the painted people. In A.D.4thC Ammianus Marcellinus’s historical accounts Dicalydones were northern tribes: one of two branches of Picti, Picts, Roman chronicler Tacitus’s Caledonians who inhabited modern-day Moray, Banff and Buchan. The second group were the Verturiones who occupied southern territories of modern Fife, Perthshire, Forfar (Fortriu) and Lothian. Carnyces have turned up in sacred settings along Roman routes through France to northern Baltic. There is a famous carnyx series embossed on the silver Gundestrup cauldron found in 1891 in a Baltic peat bog in Jutland, dating to around 2nd Century B.C. Its boar-headed shape has the same curvature, and was the work of Iron Age Celtic Franco-Germanic artists.

My fellow IWSG-ers and our Cap’n at the Helm, Alex will agree that we writers who have the advantage of Space-Time awareness, courtesy of our ancestral lineage, know how the power of sound/music—certain plaintive notes—can trigger a rush of joy, inspiration, fresh creativity.

Danzig Willie’s Craigievar William Forbes, creator of Craigievar Castle in Upper Donside brought the style of France to the Aberdeenshire hinterland, 1686

It may be my historical-fantasy-bias that drives me to compare the pale single note of an ancient Pictish battle horn against Roman battalions in rural Banff, with an even fainter soul-wrenching skirl of bagpipes played on a high mountain pass in Corgarff, but the heart beats faster when both are sounded.

Is my historical desire to link the fantastic Pictish family of animal symbols with the conquering (Scots) lineage A.D.845 so farfetched?

Forbes tradition has it that their ancestor, Pictish chief Ochonochar, trapped a boar which was terrorizing the neighborhood. Their emblem shows stylized muzzled boar. The House of Gordon has a similar legend for their boar crest worn by the Cock o’ the North. Pictish Class I Boar stone, as late as A.D.700, above, was a Donside symbol—just as the Pictish Bull is mainly associated with Burghead and Moray.

IWSGers with Scots-Irish ancestry, even when writing deadlines hover—today is Anthology Contest—know we all enjoy a dip in the gene pool.

Have fun. Take a last wild plunge before summer ends. Let me know how it feels.
Thanks for listening.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

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September 4, 2019 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, blogging, culture, festivals, history, popular, publishing, ritual, seasonal, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Appearance or Disappearance? Loopholes in the Cetacean Matrix

APPEARANCE OR DISAPPEARANCE? Loopholes in the Cetacean Matrix
Monthly Disappearance Corner for Insecure Writers

My favorite margin edge: barnacles lining a humpback’s mouth as she blows

Birds do it; Bees do it;
Even educated fleas do it.
Let’s do it. Let’s fall in love.
Ella Fitzgerald after Cole Porter

Blowing One’s Horn
THAR SHE BLOWS is a culturally frowned-on expression these days. When Hermann Melville used it in Moby Dick, 1851, he was quoting the phrase by whalers of his day who scoured the northern seas for whale harvest. But Ahab also had revenge in his heart for the white whale he sought who had taken his knee on a previous whale hunt.

World whaling nations

Nowadays those nations who still hunt whales—e.g. Norway, South Korea, Australia, Iceland, Denmark/Greenland, Russia, get no support from world whale trusts, and public outcry to uphold a worldwide whale ban is now deafening. Unapproved or condoned, the whale has the greatest ability of all mammals alive these days to ‘blow’ her horn. Dogs do it, cats do it; even educated rats in spats do it [we’re told]. Probably the most famous human to do it—to blow his horn—was trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong, 1901-1971.

Cetacean Nation or Scrambled Ambergris
Constellation Cetus, which we see now in our winter northern sky, is a crossover from the southern hemisphere, a sea monster pardoned by Helios/Sun after being frozen by Perseus—with the aid of Medusa’s head which turned it to stone—and sent to shine next to Eridanus, the celestial river which connects northern and southern sky hemispheres. Poseidon created Cetus to represent the power of the deep sea, and sent the sea monster on many missions of destruction. He met his death when Poseidon punished Queen Cassiopeia for her never-ending boasting, and ordered the powerful creature to destroy the Ethiopian coast. Catalogued by astronomer Ptolemy, c.A.D.100 in his Almagest, he was the sea monster sent by Neptune to devour Andromeda, chained to a rock as a sacrifice. In Greek myth, Cetus was turned to stone but released to the Cosmos, to shine forever.

Celestial sea ‘monster’ Ketos/Cetus the Whale clambers into northern skies to remind us of our oceanic origins

Cetus is the fourth largest constellation in the night sky, occupying 1,231 square degrees. Cetus is intertwined with Aquarius, Aries, Eridanus, Fornax, Pisces, Sculptor and Taurus. The constellation has four main stars and nine deep space objects, including one Messier and three meteor showers.

Superstitious sailors believed in cetus as the bringer of a great storm or misfortune on the ship. They associated it with lost cargo, the presence of pirates, or being swept off course, and avoided any talk of it aboard ship. Cetus equated to having a woman on board. Both were considered unlucky—as the Sea was the Sailor’s only Mistress—so presence of both presaged superhuman disaster.

Ambergris forms the basis of human—female perfumes; whale oil (blubber) used for lanterns until the advent of kerosene in 1860. Theoretically no nation needs to kill for fuel any more; but ‘scientific assessment’ continues within the whaling nations, despite statistics of decline.

We IWSGers are no strangers to deadlines! ❤ Superstitious? Well, yeah, kinda. Goes with being a Writing Introvert. We like symbolism, but a gathering storm of politicos has consequences for all of us.

As our SciFi guru Alex, says, we need to grow up; let the skittles fall where they may—get on with our latest writing project—and start cherishing the special creatures in our midst.

Before it is too late.

According to world wolf/bear and whale survival statistics, the deadline has passed: it’s already later than we think.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Ascension, astrology, astronomy, authors, birds, blogging, culture, environment, festivals, fiction, music, novel, publishing, seasonal, traditions, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Birds of a Feather—The Cuckoo in the Nest

BIRDS OF A FEATHER—THE CUCKOO IN THE NEST
Monthly Perch for Insecure Writers & Others of that Ilk

Subterranean Samhain monster in partially submerged Oligocene strata, Antipaxos, Ionian Sea

Our current cultural vision may seem similar to that strange bird, the cuckoo—medieval cuckold comes to mind ❤ —who 'invades' a functioning bird family, usurping the nest, flinging his fellow flightless companions to their deaths and running adoptive mother (meadow pippet) ragged, while he—oversize and undernourished—tumbles overspilling—into first flight.

To divert us ISWGers from our tendency to dwell on our failings, forget that we are capable of greatness, I devised a strategy of timewarp which should please our Ninja Cap'n Alex—time travel.

Only on this occasion, we're doing it in reverse.
Let's go back. Way back. Buckle up. You might discover something new on the ancestral (animal) path.

If you’re pouncing broadly into Jurassic Park time, Jurassic World even, that’s mezozoic: 199.6million-145million years ago, a little early. Imagine beyond Tyranosaurus Rex, post-pterodactyl, after Smilodon

Jurassic Ancestors Die off after Global Cooling

The Oligocene Epoch, when our Ionian Ogre, top, appeared, came right in the middle of the Tertiary Period—at end of the Paleogene—approx. 33.9 million-23 million years ago. Although it lasted a ‘short’ 11 million years, a number of major changes happened at that time. Changes caused by global cooling include appearance of the first elephants with trunks, early horses, and an explosion of many grasses that fostered a habitat for a sudden influx of new quadrupeds.

As a result of cooling temperatures, life and habitat of many ocean organisms were directly affected. Marine eco-environments fragmented as sea creatures able to withstand cooler temperatures migrated to places further from warm equatorial current. This suddenly reduced diversity in marine plankton—foundation of the food chain.

Nocturnal raptors had an easier time in the Oligocene until daytime hawks & eagles joined in

On land, mammals like horses, deer/elk, camel, elephants, cats, dogs, rats and primates began to dominate—except in Australia.

In Western Europe there were 17 generic extinctions, 20 first appearances, and 25 mammal survivals. As the land fauna migration route between Asia and North America dispersed lineages of cattle, pig, giraffe, and camel to new continents, South American forest and pampas flourished. Apes developed both in the Amazon and in Africa simultaneously, but Africa alone created the first hominids. North America spawned the rat, his cousin the gopher and many lesser mouse companions.

Fossil Hyaenodon from White River, South Dakota, coyote ancestor found in Badlands National Park

The first feathered bird appeared with a beak that was mobile enough to catch insects—presumably our friend the pterodactyl couldn’t. The first deciduous broadleaves [oak, ash, hazel] started to infiltrate the previously dominant redwood (northern) rainforest.

Conifers were also losing ground to developing grasslands—spreading from Mongolia via the land bridge to American prairies and the Midwest—perfect habitat for newer, speedier grazing mammals. Buffalo, cattle, boar-pig—with supporting cast of voles and hamsters.

In the southern pampas, camel and giraffe diversified to become llama and alpaca. Tropical rainforest found refuge in equatorial Amazonia and Indonesia.

Primeval Beaver and Wiley Coyote

Racoon ancestral selfie

Daylight raptors, like falcons, eagles, and hawks, along with 7-10 families of rodents, first appeared proliferating new northern forests, strengthening along with the grain.

The ancestor of the American beaver built his first dam.

Burgeoning meadow grasses made for rapid and diverse genetic growth in horses, developing both in size and speed capability. Ancestor of the Mustang started here.

I liked the logic of the Aleutian land bridge being used by intelligent—and high-energy new creatures—along with their predators—in a competitive novel environment, bringing new lifeforms and muscle power to the New World. The present Kentucky racehorse may be the pinnacle of that growth curve.

Forgive my digression. I had to think laterally. The news is otherwise too distracting. For a writer, that is. NaNoWriMo is also in progress and I’m ‘resting’ this year 😉
Thanks to the Ancestors—fish and fowl, feline and four-pawed.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

November 7, 2018 Posted by | authors, birds, calendar customs, culture, festivals, fiction, history, nature, novel, publishing, trees, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In August/Lammas Heat, our Thoughts Turn to Water

IN AUGUST/LAMMAS HEAT, OUR THOUGHTS TURN TO WATER
Finding Respite in the Hottest Summer Yet

Mother Orca carrying her dead baby for over a week, slows her progress south with the herd


Monthly Hideaway for Insecure Writers and Others in need of a Cool Corner

This August seems hotter than most.

U.S. East Coast tropical storms began early. Now, with forest fires in California barely under control, homes and businesses are being evacuated from Redding, in Shasta-Trinity Forest’s Carr Fire, with volunteer fire crews being flown in from other states to combat its ‘tornado’ effect of flares spreading. It now covers 115,000 acres, 20% contained.

That’s twice as much acreage as last month’s Yosemite fire. Mendocino continues to battle its own Complex-Elk forest fires to the south. Emergency evacuation and road closure information here.

With all the burning going on, it is natural to turn to water, both metaphorically and literally. For the heroic firemen, a reliable source—river run-off, brackish or waste water—will work, as back-up for their ‘controlled burn’. The Carr fire is nevertheless not expected to be 100% controlled until at least mid-August. Our prayers go to Shasta and Trinity Counties. And to the 4,151 firemen there now, saving lives.

Cooling Contrast with Liquid Refreshment
To cool tempers and change our perspective a little, Washington Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, WA have been tracking/caring for a small pod of the last Southern Resident Orca in the wild. Numbering just 75, the group’s first baby to be born in three years just died. Mama Orca, above, has continued to carry her child, balancing the inert body on her snout and pushing it through the water. The pod are sensitive to her grief—the Museum record them grieving with her—which slows their progress in their brief migration.

Orca—the black-and-white so-called ‘killer’ whale is not much bigger than a dolphin. Their diet is a little more carniverous than their cousin the Humpback whale—plankton preferred, hence the name. Like dolphin, they are great mimics, playful in human company, some say boat-friendly.

16-yr old Orca Wiki with her calf born in captivity in French Aquacenter can say hello, goodbye & count to 5

In contrast, researchers at a French Marine Aquacenter are stretching the Orca’s fondness for communication in teaching their whale companions how to speak.

English, mostly.
Wiki, seen left with her calf, can say ‘Hello’, ‘Amy’, ‘goodbye’ and count from one to five.

Chesterton Windmill Crop Circle formation in Warwickshire shows musical/vibrational notation

Prelude to the Heat of Summer
Among the IWSGers here who (sometimes) emerge from our beloved (writing) cave, at our Ninja Cap’n Alex‘s call, I cannot resist a partial—if exoplanetary—explanation for such summer extremes:
July assembled a full moon in total eclipse for many parts of the world (except U.S.A.) and the auspicious heliacal rising of Sirius—worshipped and calculated to the millisecond by ancient Egyptian timekeepers—occurred within days of each other.

Unlike the parched West Coast U.S.A, in ancient times, Sirius foretold the rising of the Nile, providing much-needed water to abundant crops in the Egyptian delta. Eclipses, as we know, predict change.

Crop Circling PostScript
A ‘vibrational’ crop circle—noted for sound anomalies and making people’s wifi malfunction—also appeared on July 26th 2018 near a windmill in Warwickshire, creating woven nests in the wheat like little safety/comfort zones. Past crop circles with windmills have clearly encouraged human reuse of such traditional water/wind power.

Just a reminder from our interstellar relatives.
Let’s try to enjoy the heat. Or at least let us be grateful for the H2O.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

August 1, 2018 Posted by | art, astrology, astronomy, authors, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, energy, environment, festivals, seasonal, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Epiphany—the Twelfth Day of Christmas

EPHIPHANY—APPEARANCE TO THE MAGI OF THE CHRIST
Happy New Year to all Insecure Writers in the IWSG corner

The festival of Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrated on January 6 in Western Churches. It marks the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas starting on Christmas Day. Protestants and Roman Catholics agree on the date as the time when the Magi, or ‘Three Wise Men’, followed the Star and brought gifts to Bethlehem to the babe.

Partridge in a Pear Tree

GreenMan, pagan ancestral tree spirit, is allowed to flourish from Christmastide to Epiphany

Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: “Greek: manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12)”, the OED doesn’t give the whole picture.

Epiphany Eve—Twelfth Night—is the time when families across Britain and some Americans traditionally take down their festive lights, decorations and fir trees.

This follows a 19th-century Victorian tradition where it was considered unlucky to keep up Christmas greenery, like holly and ivy—associated with pagan ritual—beyond this day: the belief itself a pre-Christian relic of Saturnalia, which rivalled Christmastide until the Middle Ages.

Pre-Christian tradition believed that tree spirits sought protection from winter in the trees and must be freed before the start of Epiphany. Nowadays, many European peoples still follow the custom, to avoid bad luck.

Parturit in Aperte—
He appeared through the travails of labor [in the labor within giving birth]

But it took twelve days and nights for the Magi coming from the East, to ‘follow the star’ until they got there—late. Their ‘revelation’ or divine appearance came to them, but they arrived twelve days after the divine birth. Gk. Epi- = after the event, late; -phanos = vision, appearance. Implication is that the wise men were late to the party celebrated by the rest of the [early Christian] world.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My True Love sent to me. . .

Traditional rhymes to rival the Pokemon version, December blog below


Twelve drummers drumming
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five Gold Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves and
A Partridge in a Pear Tree—parturit in aperte
—Frederic Austin, 1780 Festive song

May we IWSGers and our Cap’n Alex all agree, despite our theological and other differences

And may we enter 2018 with all our spirits protecting us through the maze, so that we emerge—where? when?— in one piece.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

January 4, 2018 Posted by | ancient rites, Ascension, astronomy, birds, blogging, festivals, history, pre-Christian, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And a Bulbasaur in a Fig Tree…

PLAYING GAMES IN HOLIDAY ATMOSPHERE
Just a little frivolity to spice up the party

and a Tyranosaurus up a gum tree

Finding my granddaughter Rose’s version of a Partridge in a Pear Tree, inspired the following:
12 Mewtoo meowing
11 Charmander charming
10 Espions spying
9 Ninetails wagging
8 Om-brions grinning
7 Eevee heaving
6 Bulbasaurs
5 Mareep
4 Pikachu
3 Swanna
2 Flydons flying &
a Pigeoto in a Pear Tree

However I have to admit a fondness for Ducklett.

Ducklett, for those not in the Pokémon loop, evolves into a Swanna.

Six Bulbasauring, five Mareep; four Pikachu…

When attacked, [Ducklett] uses its feathers to splash water, escaping under cover of the spray. They are better at swimming than flying, and they happily eat their favorite food, peat moss, as they dive underwater. Omega Ruby, When attacked, uses its feathers to splash water, escaping under cover of the spray.

Tweetiepie has to be in there somewhere 😉

Alternatively

And a Ducklett stranded on Highway Three


Twelve Bulbasaur-ing,

Eleven Lapras leaping,

Ten Tentacruel-ing,

Ninetales a-wagging,

Eight Ombrioning

Seven Squirtle squirting,

All happy chaps together in a pool on Highway Three


Six Diglett digging,

Five Goldeen,

Four Charizard,

Three Meowth meowing,

Two Electabuzz,

And a Ducklett in a pool on Highway Three.

Happy Hogmanay.

Have fun this New Year’s eve and before 2018 hits with full moon on New Year’s Day!
©2017 Siderealview

December 27, 2017 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, fantasy, festivals, fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ocean Goddess Hear Our Prayer—TAROT & Numerology for the Insecure

PERSIAN OCEAN GODDESS & TAROT ANGELS come to aid
Those Writing Up a Storm in the IWSG Corner

Patience is a characteristic of writers—even insecure ones like us. We set ourselves tasks and, come hell or high water, we (usually) finish them. Our fearless leader, Alex, does anyhow.

November is NaNo month—thirty days of consecutive writing without let-up—so it’s almost pointless of me to speak to dedicated IWSGers at this time, because they will be setting themselves a goal of 50,000 words on paper—or 1,666 words per day in pixel form—during the month of November.

Instead, a little historical perspective may be in order.

Anahita—Persian Ocean goddess c.200-100BC. found modern Sadak, NE Turkey, courtesy British Museum

In Persian mythology, Anahita was ‘Goddess of all the waters upon the Earth and the source of the Cosmic Ocean’. She drives a chariot pulled by four horses: wind, rain, cloud and sleet; her symbol is the eight-rayed star. She was regarded as the source of life. Before calling on Mithra (fiery sun), a prayer was offered to the sea goddess Anahita, whose name means moist, mighty, pure, Immaculate—the Virgin Goddess. Herodotus and the Babylonian writer Berossus (B.C.3rdC.) both equate Persian Anahita with Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and procreation, emerging from an oyster shell. Other Greeks equate her with virgin goddess Artemis—synonymous with Roman huntress Diana. Venus was her Roman name.

Roman legions marched under protection of Mithras, spread pagan belief from Rome to Scotland

In Zoroastrian-Persian mythology, Mithras was born of virgin goddess Anahita. Mythologist Caitlin Matthews—in her Mysteries of Mithras:the Pagan Belief that Shaped the Christian World was boldly described as “supporting paganism, witchcraft, the supernatural and Wicca”, and that (Matthews’) book offers keen insight into a very old religion that Christianity was (eventually) able to subdue, absorb, and eliminate as competition.

According to Roman historian Plutarch (c. A.D.46-120), Mithraism began to be absorbed by the Romans during Pompey’s military campaign against Cilician pirates around 70 B.C. The religion eventually migrated from Asia Minor with the soldiers, many of whom had been citizens of the region, into Rome and on to far reaches of the Empire. Syrian merchants brought Mithraism to major cities Alexandria, Rome and Carthage, while captives carried it to the countryside. By the third century A.D. Mithraism and its tarot mysteries had permeated the Roman Empire, and extended from India to Scotland.

Abundant monuments litter military routes in numerous (European and Mediterranean) countries, with over 420 Mithraic sites so far uncovered.

Anahita was also a goddess of magic, served by the Magi, priest-magicians whose name gives the root for both magic and magus. These ancient heirophants would meet at her shrine, to read their sacred texts among assemblies of worshippers and offer ‘holy spells’ to Anahita, on the tenth day of the New Moon or during the eighth month—Roman Oct-ober—which were her sacred times.


OURANOS, NEPTUNE and SATURN Cycles Assist in Human Affairs

And God created Adam—Michelangelo’s Creation on Sistine Chapel ceiling has inspired mortals for 500 years

Neptune is currently in a position to deliver some water to help extinguish disastrous widespread California fires in Santa Rosa, according to Sidereal astrologer EmmaNation. From its position in air sign Aquarius the Waterbearer, it stands at 17º degrees sextile to both Pallas Athene at 16º Aries and Kaali at 16º Sagittarius. Kaali is Hindu goddess Kali, ‘she who is dark’, spirit of death. In Vedic belief, she is hard to appease.

Neptune, ruler of the watery depths and mysterious beyond measure, can be appealed to, if you feel you have a psychic connection via your ancestors, or if you have strong ocean energy in your own life. Anahita—or Aphrodite—hear our prayer.

Uranus, on the other hand, may hold the key. With his 84-year orbit around the sun, he has just returned to fiery Aries. Greek ‘Father Sky’—Οὐρανός—was both son and husband to Mother Earth. Killed by his own son Kronos/Saturn, he turned in revenge on the puny human race. The last time Uranus stood in this position in the zodiac was eighty-four years ago, when Adolf Hitler came to power as Kanzler-Chancellor of Nazi Germany.

Ending and Beginning on a Positive Note

IWSGers & NaNoWriMo

As humans, we are progressing from a Saturn-cycle life expectancy—approx. 30 years—to a Uranus-cycle life expectancy of 84 years.

Saturn is in power now, along with his sidekick frozen-ocean moon Enceladus, sidebar below right. Gliding into Sagittarius during the Hallowe’en/All Saints Samhainn season, he is Kronos, Lord of Time. Despite media focus on ghoul star Algol passing through the Veil, our appealing to Saturn renews our past, envisions our future in a changing world.

This Celtic New Year—Samhainn—we IWSGers are asked if we have tackled/completed a NaNo in the past. I can admit to two completions, see sidebar right. And while not competing this year, for family reasons, I shall return!

I hope this helps fellow insecure scribes to make a go of it this November.

Bonne chance, as Gaulish legions would say.
Or, in Roman idiom: Benediximus.
©2017 Marian Youngblood

November 1, 2017 Posted by | art, astrology, authors, blogging, culture, festivals, fiction, history, Muse, novel, numerology, ocean, pre-Christian, sacred geometry, sacred sites, seasonal, sun, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Rough Seas We Need A Little Help From Our Friends

WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH, WRITERS GET TOUGHER
Monthly Tough-it-Out Corner for Insecure Writers

I like to think that we (Insecure) writers have a little extra ball of energy we hold in reserve for exactly that moment when the rest of our world is collapsing or about to do so.

Graces three—embodied joy, beauty and mirth—as well as  social ease

Graces three—embodied joy, beauty and mirth—as well as social ease


Now seems a good time to remind ourselves that, however insecure we may feel about the work we continually produce—the writing we LOVE—if we continue to brave it out through any storm, the rough seas will eventually bring calm.

And we may live through it!

ENTER GRACE—Or in Aegaean terms, THREE GRACES, daughters of ZEUS and EURYNOME

In Hellenist mythology Three Goddesses called the Graces represented grace, charm and beauty. Other qualities associated with them—
Aglaia represented elegance, brightness and splendor.
Thalia embodied youth, beauty and good cheer.
Euphrosyne encouraged mirth and joyfulness.

The KHARITES were conceived in Greek mythology as goddesses who brought festive joy and enhanced mortals’ love of life though their refinement and gentleness. Gracefulness and beauty in social intercourse are attributed to them. They are usually seen in the service or attendance of other divinities, as real joy exists only in circles where the individual gives up his own self and makes it his main object to afford pleasure to others.

“The less beauty is ambitious to rule, the greater is its victory”

The Three Graces, from an Ionian fresco, A.D.1stC

The Three Graces, from an Ionian fresco, A.D.1stC

Qualities embodied in the Kharites. Graces, are that the less homage beauty or grace demands, the more freely is it given.

Interestingly, these same traits were imported en masse into the Christian ethic and named Hope, Faith and Charity—from Gk.KHARITES—Catholicism in particular emphasizing ‘charity’.

I mention these lovely beauties at this time as, in the midst of world events where ladies’ sovreignty is paramount, it may be our GRACE which will see us through the storm.

Moving Beyond the Masque to Face Reality
Also, coincidentally in traditional Roman Catholic calendar—still calculated by the Moon—we have only just emerged from the Fire Festival of Fat Tuesday—Mardi Gras—Festern’s E’en. We are now entering a time of human restriction—in Church timing 40 days of Lent—where our resources and resourcefulness will be called on.

We IWSG-ers know how to pull in our belts, don’t we? If our Cap’n.Alex can do it, so can we.

Therefore, Angels of Grace, Beauty, Patience, bless you—we are calling for just a little help from our friends. Thank you for being here.
©2017 Marian Youngblood

March 1, 2017 Posted by | ancient rites, art, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, history, Muse, pre-Christian, ritual, seasonal, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feline Intelligence to Encourage Insecure Writers

MONTHLY MOAN CORNER FOR INSECURE WRITERS—
IWSGers and Others who Care to Join Us

Smilodon not smiling—after his experience at the Library

Smilodon not smiling—after his experience at the Library

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea—Robert A. Heinlein

TRICK OR TREAT—Ultimate Hallowe’en Trick
Smilodon is a very educated cat. He has been to the Library.

The chief librarian has even taken out an honorary library card for him.
“She is a wewwy kind lady—cataclysmically cat-fwendly. I knowz zat cuz she shared her sangwitch wit’ me,” he confided after his experience, licking his curvaciously-dentured lips at the reminisce. His saber tooth gleamed.

I asked for more information after he went missing last week, during a fairly heavy crowd of visitors driving by his beach-front yard.

Whether he was kidnapped—as he breathlessly claims—or his exuberance in someone’s back seat got him turfed out at the next stop—the town shopping plaza—may never be known. But it is reported that he was chased by a homeless dog from the bus stop, ran for the museum and library buildings, as nearest and safest and found a safe haven. One assumes. He is not sharing his scaredy-cat-ness ;(

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly”
Kurt Vonnegut Cat’s Cradle

“It’s a very inconvenient habit of kittens,” Alice had once made the remark, “that, whatever you say to them they always purr.”
Lewis Carroll

Ahhh—The Lib-erry—A Cat Port in a Storm

After it was explained to him that he was welcome at the Li-berry, Smilo consented to being interviewed

After it was explained to him that he was welcome at the Li-berry, Smilo consented to being interviewed

A sharp-eyed gardener heard him meowing loudly and discovered him hiding at the library back door. He ‘rescued’ him inside until next morning, when the head librarian showed up for her duty and immediately ‘rescued’ him even more. She gave him a tuna fish sandwich.

He draws breath between bouts of explanation, on his return to home ground.

“She is a wewwy nice Li-berrian. Wewwy nice,” he keeps muttering between gulps of tea, milk, ice water, while topping up on dry cat food.

“No, you can’t have tuna fish sandwiches every day,” I try to tell him when he gives me that Smilo smile. “Normal cats eat this.” I repeat.

“Li-berrians haz nicer stuffs”, he meows. But tucks in anyway, between purrs.
Even prehistoric cats knowz when to quit complaining and appreciate the status quo.

Cat Lives: One Down—Eight to Go

In short—or rather in human reportage—last week, unfortunately for him, because his demeanor is friendly—Smilo’s smile will even get to doglovers—as a pre-Hallowe’en prank he traveled all the way to Saunders Plaza in Trinidad, CA. He was dropped off, after the joke failed. In a blinding storm, he made his way to or was chased by a dog to The Li-berry where he sheltered from the lightning.

Depending on whose story you are listening to—the people at the bus stop or Smilodon’s own version, the dog was wewwy large. And not on a leash.

We won’t go into the leash part, because Smilo doesn’t have one either ;(

Back to normal—the writing cat

Back to normal—the writing cat

‘You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? Radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat’
Albert Einstein

Smilodon agrees with Mr Einstein totally. In his world, EVERYthing is cat-related.
And, now that he is a true blue intellectual—card-carrying, no less—his conversation has become incessant. I, like Einstein, Carroll and Heinlein, have no problem with that. But his brothers—and no doubt all his feline neighbors—are getting a little tired of the story.

Perhaps he should write a book.

All my fellow IWSGer cohorts in this group would surely agree.

Meanwhile, now that Celtic New Year—Samhainn—is upon us, the rest of the cat population is wiping brow, thanking lucky stars that they can get back to normal trick-or-treating.
©2016 Marian Youngblood

November 2, 2016 Posted by | authors, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, festivals, fiction, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seasonal Music and Whalesong to Ease IWSG Pain

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER

Migrating gray whales sometimes learn notes from humpbacks on their shared journey

Migrating gray whales sometimes learn notes from humpbacks on their shared jpurney

Rockin’ in the Ole Town Tonight
If—as the Zen Buddhists and String Theory Physicists say—all is vibration—then a full schedule of outdoor music festivals in natural surroundings, weekend after weekend throughput June and July should place Northern California and Humboldt County in particular in good graces with the gods.

Harry Belafonte kicks off Willits, CA series of summer  live music festivals —solstice 2016

Harry Belafonte kicks off Willits, CA series of summer live music festivals —solstice 2016

Headlining the Kate Wolf Music Festival June 23 – 26, 2016 at Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville, CA is veteran crooner Harry Belafonte. Contemporary of Frank Sinatra, Sidney Poitier and Nat Cole, his voice and repertoire have captivated audiences for a minimum of five decades, and still he pleases. Only for reason of age and fame does Belafonte NOT join the revelers who overnight in gay abandon within Black Oak’s leafy canopy, their campground, tents, sleeping bags, makeshift awnings a-go-go all part of the madness of the onset of summer.

Blending Cultures through Music
Free camping goes with ticket purchase at Mateel Community’s 32nd Reggae on the River August 4th-7th in Humboldt County’s renowned French’s Camp, near Garbeville. While international headliners like James Taylor whiz through on a whirlwind tour.

I may be forgiven by my fellow IWSGers—and our faithful Cap’n.Alex—for mentioning only once the fact that, because summer of 2016 is forecast to outstrip 2015 in temperatures and arid conditions, by Lammas and the balmy days of August—Summer’s End—the renowned desert happening of Burning Man may appropriately celebrate burning humans—in the music world, as well as in the ‘real world’.

Camping under the stars to Music has filled summer festivals since Woodstock

Camping under the stars to Music has filled summer festivals since Woodstock

Meanwhile, we writers seem to find a space—rearranging our own personal hell—in order to focus on what we do most of the time—stringing words together.

Does Going Through Hell Help us Write Better?
Quoting our group’s enlightened captain:

Many writers have been through some crisis in their life. Maybe it was a bad childhood, a divorce, drugs, alcohol, illness—the list is endless. It’s left scars and many seem to draw upon their difficult experiences to write great stories.
Alex J. Cavanaugh, author and blogger

Some of us are more fatalistic than others. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that my responsibility lies not just in writing; but somehow in blending into the written fabric some encouragement to my fellow scribes that we will get through this coming crisis. By that I mean us IWSGers: I can’t be quite so optimistic about the human race in general.

So it’s really a good thing to listen to the drumbeat of summertime—let go those old cold winter reins, shake a leg, kick up a jig or two and enjoy the music.

It can’t hurt, can it?
©2016 Marian Youngblood

June 1, 2016 Posted by | authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, energy, festivals, music, nature, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments