Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Splash of Light on Long Winter Nights—Comet joins Festive Show

SPLASH OF LIGHT ON LONG WINTER NIGHTS—COMET JOINS FESTIVE SHOW in December Skies
Winter CatchUp Corner for IWSGers, NaNoWriMos and All Writers

Comet 2I/Borisov, discovered by amateur Crimean astronomer in October, is being monitored by Hubble Space Telescope as it flits through the solar system

Firstly, most important—and also because we writers are an insecure lot—I want to say ‘well done’ to all writers, great and small, of any age and persuasion, insecure or self-assured, who completed their NaNoWriMo W.I.P., and who may now be editing! their next world-famous novel.

Next: how do we WRITERS intend to face the world through the winter, after keeping ourselves hidden from political mayhem on all continents, down in the dungeons and self-imposed depths of computer/typewriterdom?

Voilà, Comet Borisov to the rescue.


Comet for Christmas—Southern Hemisphere Style

Comet 2I Borisov is interstellar. Not one of our own Oort Cloud near-solar system (domestic) comets that take a quick dip around the sun—perihelion—and back home to the Cloud. Borisov has more hyperbolic ‘orbit’, merely grazing our solar system, scheduled for its closest solar approach in one week’s time—December 7-8th, 2019—a mere couple of AUs* distant, roughly on the inner edge of the Asteroid Belt, between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Its closest approach to the Earth—perigee—is 29th/30 December at a safe distance of around 2AU, just in time for Earth New Year. Sadly then only visible in Southern ocean skies.

*Astronomical unit (AU): unit of length used in astronomy equal to the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun—or about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

Crop Circle predictions, summer 2019 leading to December sky dynamics, graphic by Jonas Passos

“A comet with a parabolic trajectory (with an eccentricity of 1) would leave the Solar System in the direction it entered, having had its path altered by 180°. 2I/Borisov, with its higher eccentricity, has a more open trajectory and will have its path altered by only 34° as it passes through the Solar System” Gennady Borisov, comet discoverer, Black Sea.

Borisov entered the Solar System in October from the direction of Cassiopeia, near its border with Perseus. This direction indicates that it originates from the galactic plane, rather than from the (nearby) galactic halo. It will leave the Solar System in the direction of Telescopium, southern hemisphere’s Telescope constellation. In interstellar space, 2I/Borisov takes roughly 9000 years to travel one light-year, relative to our Sun.

Tree-felling in the Christian Tradition
How does this fit in with our OTT fixation on Christmas Trees? I hear you ask.

Don’t get me started on the Victorian encapsulated tradition of Tannenbaum in the English-speaking world. British Royals do it; Slavs & Lats do it; Niggas in their boats upon the Flats do it. Let’s kill another conifer for Christmas. With apologies to Cole Porter.

Oops. Just slipped out.

It’s the tree-planter in me waving an olive branch. Eventually, I hope, our 200-year-old heavily Germanic ritual of felling and decorating a live conifer for (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) Christmas Eve festival of light may be replaced by fairy light branchlets and garden strewn sparklers. But that’s a future possible. Not an immediate likelihood. December is fairy light time, virtual or actual, worldwide.

Same old, same old: Laysan Albatross Wisdom, and her partner, sitting on the same old nest again this year, Midway Island Refuge

Thus we enter the Season of Goodwill and Peace to all Men, women, children, dogs, cats, wolves, whales and albatrosses.

I need to bring in my friend Wisdom from the Midway Island Pelagian Wildlife Refuge. She and her 64-year old mate have just flown half-way across the Pacific to return to their nest. Both veteran Laysan birds come zooming in—with their 12-foot wingspan and impressive haunting call, tidying up, preparing and then sitting on their nest for another year. It’s like two giant desks perched on top of a pillar of guano, their magnificent wings tucked in for comfort and warmth.

They already have one egg they’re taking turns hatching. Albatross monogamy is supreme in birds—64 years is a long time to be together.

Thanks for an inspiration to all of us to be faithful and true to our (writerly) selves and keep on keeping on.

Write-Edit-Publish Footprints

And if you still have energy and can’t wait to write, there’s the IWSG December W.E.P.Challenge—Write, Edit, Publish in 1000 words—and the theme is Footprints.

Footprints in the sand…Footprints in the snow—they don’t have to be human—alien, monster, unknown creatures all in 1000 words. Details here.

May I offer you my own compliments of the season.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

December 4, 2019 Posted by | ancient rites, art, astronomy, authors, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, culture, festivals, fiction, nature, novel, popular, publishing, seasonal, sun, weather, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hoisting the Happy Flag—Intergalactic Mission to Overcome November Neurosis

HOISTING THE HAPPY FLAG—INTERGALACTIC MISSION TO OVERCOME NOVEMBER NEUROSIS
Monthly Hideaway for Writers, Insecure, Self-Motivated or SuperGalactic Success Stories

Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated in towns all over Britain on ‘Bonfire Night’ with sponsored firelighting ceremony and fireworks, a tradition going back 420 years.

Guy Fawkes, 1605 plot failed to blow up parliament buildings for English pro-Catholic James VI & I restorationists

Remember, remember the Fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions did a scheme contrive
To blow the King and Parliament all up alive.
Threescore barrels laid below, to prove olde Englande’s overthrow.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
English Folk Verse, 1605; Victorian version 1870

His Gunpowder Plot failed. He got caught.

Just before his execution on 31 January, 1606 Fawkes fell from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of being hanged, drawn and quartered. He became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in Britain as Guy Fawkes Night since 5 November 1605, when his effigy is traditionally burned on a community-sponsored bonfire—usually with a finale of fireworks.

While in the U.S.A. setting off fireworks around the All Hallows season is illegal, for Brits and some Commonwealth nations it has come to mean an explosion of national last-gasp celebration/pride before the onset of winter. Plus a twinkling of folk memory buried somewhere in the magic pagan pot. A closely comparable U.S. ceremonial/celebration is the mid-August madness in the Nevada desert known as Burning Man.


Kickstarting the Happiness Curve

It all has to do with joy and ways to achieve that calm place in our mind.

According to Prof. Sanam Hafeez, neuropsychologist at New York’s Columbia University, during REM—rapid eye movement experienced in sleep—our serotonin levels decrease. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter best known for encouraging human feelings of calm.

We are superhuman superheroes & heroines, once we lock into our neurotransmitter serotonin levels, SuperMan the Original courtesy CBS

“I close my eyes and open them. Who is this body—and this mind? Why am I thinking these meaningless thoughts that seem to be causing me pain?
“I have a mission: to calm this body down and do some good today.
“And then I’m gone tomorrow. On another, intergalactic, interdimensional mission.”
“I am a multi-dimensional, multi-verse superhero, on a mission for billions of years and this is just one”
James Altucher Four Rules for Achieving Happiness

Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are the quartet responsible for our happiness. Many events can trigger these neurotransmitters, but rather than being in the passenger seat, there are ways we can intentionally cause them to flow. Dopamine motivates us to take action towards goals, gives us pride in ticking our boxes. Serotonin flows when we feel significant, or important. Depression comes when serotonin leaves. Oxytocin—so-called cuddle hormone—is present in intimacy, trust, continuity, childbirth, breastfeeding and sex. It creates fidelity.

Coincidentally, sleep and happiness studies have found the actual physical weight of (light) bedding causes deep pressure stimulation that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, potentially increasing dopamine*—as mood-boosting transmitter—and serotonin levels—according to Ellen Wermter, Sleep Therapist.

Endorphins, Mind-Body Joy Triggers of Calm
Dopamine, serotonin and other pleasure-producing mind-body feelings were unknown until a series of 1975 groundbreaking studies by University of Aberdeen (and Nobel-prize-winning) professors John Hughes and Hans Kosterlitz* published in Nature, suggested a relationship with opiates and calm-inducing drugs.
*Dr Kosterlitz, a refugee from Nazi Prussia, and a family friend of my father’s, called the newly-discovered brain chemicals Enkephalin, aka Endorphins. He was among the first to link mind-body pleasure centers with neurotransmitters. I am delighted to acknowledge his work along with that of his Nobel-winning son, Michael, in a related mind-body-spirit arena. It only took forty-five years for the happiness ‘drug’ to become a conversation piece; a household word. Sorry if you don’t need the applause, Michael! Well deserved.


Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) began in the early 1970s as a thesis project at Santa Cruz, California, home of the original (and unique) award-winning U.C. History of Consciousness course. Richard Bandler and his professor, John Grinder, wanted to develop models of human behaviour, to understand why certain people seemed to be excellent at what they did, while others found the same tasks challenging, or nearly impossible to do.

Inspired by pioneers in fields of therapy and personal growth and development, Bandler and Grinder began to develop systematic procedures and theories that formed the language of NLP. They studied three top therapists: Virginia Satir, the extraordinary family therapist, who consistently was able to resolve difficult family relationships that many other therapists found intractable; the innovative psychotherapist Fritz Perls, 1893-1970, who originated the Gestalt school of therapy; and hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, 1901-1980.

They developed a more personal interactive approach with patients/clients, using encouraging gestures and language to open doors otherwise relegated to psychotic or barricaded emotional realms.

Fall Back—Self-Doubt and Writerly Insecurity Begone
Perhaps our Intergalactic Space Commander Alex would have a better perspective on the whole Superhero satisfaction thing, continually venturing out there with his success, CassaStar series.

Finding a pristine shell while beachcombing brings enormous pleasure, raises oxytocin levels

Ticking the box of achievement—and the joy it brings—gives us feelings of self-reliance, increased confidence—self determination, even. Guy Fawkes, above, paradoxically, has been described as orchestrating his own death—by breaking his neck—rather than endure the triple ritual death by hanging, drawn-quartering.

We can alter our path any time, with a little help from such wellbeing enhancers as yoga, brief meditation and physical exercise—and a lot of writerly moral support.

And we can always fall back on our Muse—November being not just a reminder to change the clocks—Britain last week October; U.S. first November—but crucial writing month for brave NaNoWriMo wordsmiths.

I admit I prefer my pheromone-diffusing area of expertise, e.g. gardening, planting, encouraging bees and birds. With the occasional venture into blogdom. They say—apart from sleep—that our back-to-nature activities are by far the most effective in dispelling anxiety, depression and self-doubt.

I take heart that our best therapy has always been doing what we love the most: aka writing. Joy from that does feel empowering.

As Aristotle 384–322 B.C. said: You are what you continually do. And enjoy doing. Happy writing this November.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

November 5, 2019 Posted by | art, astronomy, blogging, calendar customs, consciousness, culture, environment, festivals, history, Muse, nature, novel, popular, pre-Christian, Prehistory, publishing, ritual, seasonal, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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