Youngblood Blog

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Fairies, Fantasy & Fabulous Royals—Imaginary Friends in our Comfort Cave

FAIRIES, FANTASY, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS FODDER for our IWSG COMFORT CAVE
MONTHLY HIDEOUT for INSECURE WRITERS—FANTASY or OTHERWISE

Flights of fancy are more than just soaring imagination—away with the fairies

With Flower Fairies of the Spring, a Victorian classic published 1923 illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973), and read by generations of British children, came a late Art Deco/Bohemian breakaway from traditional, classical portrayal of the Faerie realm. Prior to her designs, C.16th Edmund Spenser classic, The Faerie Queene—reputed to have inspired Shakespeare—was traditional English fare.

Victorian myth and local legend combined to fill a child’s imagination

Bohemian Breakaway from Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene (1590) epic poem by Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–1599), follows the adventures of a group of medieval knights. The poem, written in deliberately archaic style, draws on history and myth—particularly the legends of Arthur, beloved of Brits.

Each book/canto follows the adventures of a knight representing a desirable virtue—holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice, courtesy—each having that quality in him or herself tested by the plot. The Faerie Queene is allegorical—praising Elizabeth I—Gloriana—Faerie Queene herself, the virgin Belphoebe, and Elizabethan notions of virtue. The poem uses contemporary history and politics to celebrate and criticize the Tudor dynasty, twisting religious controversies and reforms of the time under Mary and Elizabeth. Spenser wrote that one of his intentions was that reading his work should ‘fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle disciple’. Yet somehow it satisfies current hunger in movie audiences for historical realism.

Lavender fairy, courtesy Cicely Mary Barker

In Book 2, the knight Guyon reads an old history of Faerieland, which gives Spenser the opportunity to recount a chronicle of British rulers. In Canto 10*, he tells the story of Leyr/Lyr. The story is similar to that told by C.12th historian Geoffrey of Monmouth. In Spenser’s version, Leyr is looking to retire in his old age. After the love test and division of the realm, he weds Gonorill to the king of Scotland, and Regan to the king of Cambria/Wales. Cordeill/Cordelia is sent dowerless to Aganip of Celtica (France). In a gripping ending, dutiful daughter Cordeill restores Leyr to the crown and later inherits it herself; only to be overthrown by her nephews. In Spenser’s version, Cordeill hangs herself, rather than stabbing or cutting herself—and this is probably source of the method of Cordelia’s murder in Shakespeare’s play.
*Stanzas 27–32 (pp. 332–34)

Classic English Rose, High Queen of Summer

Swinging in her scented bower, Wild Rose Fairy is High Queen of Summer, 1925

I am the queen whom everybody knows:
I am the English Rose;
As light and free as any Jenny Wren,
As dear to Englishmen;

Fold on fold of purest white, lovely pink or red that glows; deep, sweet-scented—what delight—to be Fairy of the Rose


As joyous as a Robin Redbreast’s tune,
I scent the air of June;
My buds are rosy as a baby’s cheek;
I have one word to speak,

One word which is my secret and my song,
’Tis “England, England, England” all day long.
Wild Rose Fairy
Cicely Mary Barker, 1925


Royals Rev up in Fabulous Fantasy Fashion

“England, England” may only rarely be shouted by joyful football fans these days, but we are fortunate in our IWSG underground fantasy writing cave—where all intrepid but insecure introvert writers hole up over the holidays to have instant internet access to inspiring full-frontal videos of beautiful young British Royals flaunting a fashion statement in a kingdom relatively unchanged since the 16th century, while at the same time showing us writers a way to keep the flag flying.

HRH Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex at Sandringham for Christmas

HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, who died over twenty years ago under dramatic circumstances, led the then reluctant British monarchy out of their closeted rule-bound protocol existence, venturing across mine-strewn warfields, embracing young unknown admirers in a royal walkabout. Her sons, Princes Wills and Harry, have taken a lead from her. Both their wives, HRH Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, left, are encouraged to meet the public, and displays of genuine affection have jumped from royal bedchamber into commoner children’s street life. Diana would have loved all this sharing.

It just happens that our vintage Space Cap’n Alex is a movie maestro—with current historical-realism featuring high on his pick list—Mary, Queen of Scots and The Favourite (elderly spinster Queen Anne) shine light into a royal system unchanged for centuries—until now.

It’s an open secret that Prince Charles is happier in his organic garden than in the throne room. HM the Queen shows no sign of faltering, bless her handbag. Young fairytale princesses in phantom gowns have her approval. And always make us feel better.

May angels surround us through 2019.
New Year resolution? May we expect the unexpected.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

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January 2, 2019 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, birds, calendar customs, consciousness, culture, elemental, fantasy, fiction, nature, publishing, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Millennial or Generational Divide: all Baby-Boomers’ Fault

MILLENNIAL OR GENERATIONAL DIVIDE: ALL BABY-BOOMERS’ FAULT
Monthly IWSG Writerly Hideaway for All Generations

Ernst & Young report on Rise of Gen-Z shows 2001+ iGen overtaking Millennials worldwide

“Millennials are more focused on what’s in it for them. They look outside to others—companies and colleagues—for solutions; whereas the younger people naturally seek to create their own solutions.”
Marcie Merriman, Exec.Dir. Ernst & Young LLP

Children born in 2001 will turn 18 next year. In U.S. many will enter university, vote and, depending on their choice, may smoke and drink alcohol without breaking the law. These are the Gen Zers or iGens. They have never known a non-digital world and have grown up amid a world aware of terrorism and global recession.

They are grandchildren of the Flower Power peace people of the ‘sixties Boomer breakaway. They have seen mistakes made by parents and grandparents, and are determined to do things better.

Psychedelic Dragon by 12-year old GenZ artist

And they have the IT capability to make it happen.

Baby Boomer Baggage
Boomers, born after their parents returned from war in 1945, were radical—not rad like their great-grandkids, but countercultural enough to up-tentpoles and follow their rock idols (as groupies) anywhere; some experiencing Vietnam, took the advice of Berkeley guru-of-all-trades, Timothy Leary:—

“Turn on, tune in, drop out”
Timothy Leary, UC Berkeley, 1966
Mantra of the ‘Sixties psychedelic generation

Millennials, on the other hand, are accustomed to external motivators, according to a recent report by Ernst & Young. Time Magazine called them “The Me Me Me Generation” because they want it all. To Psychology Today they are known as confident, entitled and depressed.

Apex hippie flower power Boomer music curve, Altamont 1969:— “If U remember, U weren’t there”

Born between 1980 and 2000, incentives, trophies, and praise were used [by their parents, the Baby Boomers, themselves struggling to survive] to motivate Millennials as they were growing up. Many Millennials lack internal motivation to overcome career impatience.

iGens are DIY-motivated, independent; i.e. if you want it done right, do it yourself—75% of them believe there are alternative ways to get a good education than attending college, according to Sparks & Honey 2018 survey. Nielsen’s recent research survey finds:

“Each generation comes with a unique pattern of behavior, presenting challenges for those targeting them. Gen Z are bombarded by messages and, as a generation, can quickly detect its relevance to them.”

Demographic switch-over is welcome news for delivery services, gadget makers and the so-called gig economy.
But it means headaches for educators, event planners, luxury brands and travel companies. Golf and world cruising are relegated almost exclusively to Baby-Boomerdom. Golf is now a game where the average age of players is 50+. Tiger Woods, 42, would be pleased to know he is an anachronism.

Rôle-Hopping or Job-Hopping

Which generation burns the candle at both ends? CatGen, of course

Growing up fast in an on-demand culture, the Millennial generation [b.1980-2001] has little patience for stagnation, especially when it impacts their careers. They switch jobs. Or hold down multiple after-hours work themes.

Generation Z don’t want to miss any valuable experience. They flex their super-aware learning antennae by multi-tasking: marketing, accounting, human resources—always with IT—within an organization. Or work from home.

iGens say they’d rather have a reliable internet connection, than a functioning bathroom, according to Nielsen. They make do with what is—while continuing to communicate with a network of roughly 150 friends—see Dunbar Numbervia Memes, wordplay, game slang and graphics.

Global Citizens or Spectators

IWSG Anthology contest continues thru Nov 4

Nielsen states 58 percent of adults worldwide aged 35+ agreed “kids today have more in common with their global peers than with adults in their own country.”

Millennials were the first global generation. They saw significant world events in their life times and share character traits and international values across borders.

Gen Z interacts with global peers with greater fluidity than any previous generation. As more people come online and geography continues to shrink, Gen Z see themselves as global citizens.

We Insecure writers are mostly head down tunnel-visioned introverts. Our Ninja Cap’n.Alex helps us draw inspiration from the future—his prequel CassaDawn is reviewed as rivaling Asimov’s Foundation. Asimov (1920-1992) was of the classic “Silent Generation”. Think Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin and the Ocean’s-11 Rat Pack—themselves prequel to 2018’s Ocean’s-8.

A great way for us—in-between Boomer groups—to cherish our ancestors!
©2018 Marian Youngblood

October 3, 2018 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, fiction, history, novel, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

All the Numbers for the Fourth—Maybe a Few Special Ones?

ALL THE NUMBERS FOR THE FOURTH
Monthly Corner Hideaway for Insecure Writers—and others

Royal Bedchamber has not changed much since Domesday 11thC England, courtesy HM The Queen

Back in the ‘Nineties, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar noticed a remarkable correlation between primate brain size and the social groups they formed: His theory was simple—the bigger their brains, the larger their social groups—because animals with bigger brains can remember, and interact meaningfully with more of their peers.

Dunbar’s famous prediction achieved by correlation of his extrapolation curve to the size of the human brain, stated that humans could have no more than about 150 people in their social sphere.

Recent research has since found more evidence for Dunbar’s Number, from the size of hunter-gatherer societies, Roman legions—130-145—to effective modern businesses.

Dunbar’s Number—backed by recent internet/iCloud/social media statistics is even more apt for modern exchange via social networks, where we humans gravitate to a natural limit of meaningful relationships we can sustain—around 150.

Dunbar is Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology—the study of how we evolved as modern humans—at the University of Oxford and author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? (Faber). His research has gone on to find ‘Dunbar layers’, from family intimacy—five—outward to once-a-year contact with the acquaintance layer—beyond 150.


Social Behavior Rooted in Human Biology and Layers in the Digital Age

Mediaeval Warrington & Cheshire villages, on banks of River Mersey, map courtesy John Speed

The way in which our social world is constructed stems from our biological inheritance. As primates, together with apes and monkeys, we have developed a general relationship between brain size and size of our social group. There are social circles beyond the group and layers within—but there is a natural cluster of 150.

This is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust, obligation—and usually—some personal history.

That’s the Dunbar number.

In updated research in the digital age, other patterns emerge for the average human—most people have a small group of three to five very close friends. Various layers of friendship – which increase in number but decrease in intimacy and frequency of contact are on average:

Dunbar Layers
Layer 0. Nucleus/very close friends—those you turn to in a crisis, ask for money, lean on for support—on average 3 to 5 people. Likely keep in touch once a week.
Layer 1. Close friends/sympathy group—12-15 people (number of Apostles, members on a jury). Contact once a month.
Layer 2. Distant friends—45 to 50 people
Layer 3. Maximum number of friends/acquaintances: 150 people (Dunbar’s Number)
Layer 4. 500 people
Layer 5. 1500 people
Layer 6. Plato’s ideal size for a democracy—5300 people

Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything… number according to Douglas Adams

“I was working on the arcane question of why primates spend so much time grooming one another, and I tested another hypothesis–which says the reason why primates have big brains is because they live in complex social worlds.

“Because grooming is social, all these things ought to map together, so I started plotting brain size and group size and grooming time against one another. You get a nice set of relationships.

“It was about 3a.m., and I thought, hmm, what happens if you plug humans into this? And you get this number of 150. This looked implausibly small, given that we all live in cities now, but it turned out that this was the size of a typical community in hunter-gatherer societies.

“And the average village size in the Domesday Book is 150.”
Robin Dunbar

“It’s the same when we have much better data–in the 18th century, for example, thanks to parish registers. County by county, the average size of a village is again 150. Except in Kent, where it was 100. I’ve no idea why.”

The number evolved as tribal societies did. Dunbar believes his Number probably dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans, 250,000 years ago, from Australopithicus to Neanderthal. Prior to that, by estimated brain size, community size declined steadily.

A key evolutionary adaptation of primates facing survival out there on the plains and in the forests was group living within a hierarchy, with explicitly communal solutions to living as a unit—an ape strategy, evolved very early in the timeline.

Most species of birds and animals are not as intensely social. Socialability for them hovers around pair-bonds, which is as complicated as it gets. But the species with big brains mate monogamously.

Has the Dunbar Number Increased with the Internet?
“We’re caught in a bind: community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer societies where people weren’t living on top of one another. Your 150 were scattered over a wide area, but everybody shared the same 150. This made for a very densely interconnected community, and it also means the community polices itself.

“You don’t need lawyers and policemen. If you step out of line, Grannie will wag her finger at you.”


Rôle of the Internet, Smart Devices, & BFFs in the (Wired) Generational Divide

Can we extend deep relationships beyond the old numbers?

Magdalen College Oxford Prof. Robin Dunbar

Dunbar says he can find out what you had for breakfast from your tweet, but can’t really get to know you better. Digital developments help us keep in touch over distance, when in the past a relationship might have faltered and died. Now it can be extended. But we can only maintain Five Close Friends

Current statistics compiled by consumer research specialist, Paul Hudson point to a generational divide—younger teenagers aged thirteen to sixteen–the fastest-growing social media generation—have an average of 450 social network “friends”.

Figures rapidly reduce between decades—people in their thirties have on average between one and two hundred friends; those in their forties between fifty and 100; and over-fifties—if they are internet-savvy—form the lowest stat-curve, the majority having fewer than twenty friends.

Seventeen Hugs a Day—the Touchie, Feelie Solution
Dunbar stands by his ‘grooming’ theory: that we actually have to get together to make a relationship work. Tablets, iPads and smartphones still haven’t figured out how to do virtual touch, which humans rely heavily on—the ape hug, the elephant caress, lioness’s kiss, dolphin’s smooch.

In a widening social network, intimacy becomes more important—and apparently less available, considering the number of dogs in the United States equals the human population! That, my dear Virtual Cap’n and fellow Insecure Writers, must hold for another day.

One hopeful statistic: Writers—as we IWSG-ers all know—are mostly introvert, so we keep our BFFs forever!

Words are slippery. A touch is worth a thousand words—always.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

July 4, 2018 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, belief, blogging, culture, Doomsday, fiction, history, publishing, traditions, 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

Satellites and Fairy Lights in Good Old Festive Tradition

SATELLITES AND FAIRY LIGHTS
Seasonal Catch-up Corner for IWSGers & Skywatchers
If you thought Cruithne was archetype king of Picts—check your Histories again.

‘Morsheimer do Cruithne clainn raindset Albain i secht raind; Cait, Cé, Cirig, cétach clann Fib Fidach, Fotla, Fortrenn Ocus is o ainm gach fir dib fil for a fearand.’

‘Seven of Cruithne’s children divided Alba into seven divisions; the portion of Cat, of Cé, of Cirig a warlike clan, the kingdoms of Fife, Fidach, Fotla and Fortriu; and the name of each of them remains upon his land.’
Scots 12thC version of ‘lost’ Pictish Chronicle


21st Century Cruithne Orbits the Sun

Since 1997, Cruithne has been monitored by the European version of SETI—Carl Sagan’s fave extra-terrestrial intelligence search engine—as our closest “near-earth satellite”. [Not including the ICBMs and other space junk we throw up into orbit]. It even has its own space number—3753—though it may take some time to figure out where the other 3752 satellites roam within our inner solar system!

December’s Tree-Popping Moon

Recent volcanic activity in the Arctic threatened unseasonal nesting terns in Franz Josef Land

2017 seems to be going out with a bang. Despite the drawback of Mercury going retrograde for the first 23 days, a Gemini Full Moon—native American ‘Tree-Popping Moon’—brought an atmosphere of unreality—cotton-mouth of the brain—through the season’s open door, with romance, magic, confusion; but look out for deceit. It’s as if we’re already at the party, a fog machine’s running, and we’re wearing novelty glasses with rose-colored lenses.

Smack in the middle of the festivities, illusionist Neptune stands, in an exact T-square to the Sun and Moon. Its force both escalates and forces out fantasy, lies, and fraud, while doing the same with love, compassion, empathy and divine guidance. Because of Mercury’s spin retrograde, communications, transportation and moving around are difficult.

In this atmosphere, emotions may be clouded, confusing, muffled, or blissing us out to an extreme. We IWSGers may be float around in a daze. Our reaction to information may push us to escapism—never a bad thing for a writer—or binging, or retreating into a fantasy land.

Simultaneously.

Don’t Despair, Dragons Are There
Thankfully there is hope for discernment and possible safe passage through the Christmas rush—that single release point to the T-square’s pressure—the empty space in Virgo, opposite Neptune. Virgo, having given birth to Jupiter so recently, is empty: she helps us chew over things, call timeout, redraw boundaries, assist in navigating the haze.

A surprising lifeline to stabilization comes via Mercury. Even though he’s retrograde, he is conjunct Saturn, who brings order and slow, deliberate movement, underscoring the molasses feel of the retrograde station.

Handpainted dragon mask, glued on to brown paper bag, courtesy Ms. Rose

Order doesn’t mean same old, same old, though, as Saturn’s journey in the last year has shown. Innovative perspectives, approaches, and paradigms are all over 2017 Gemini Full Moon activity. They’re coming not just into consciousness, but into being, via a trine from this pair to Mercury’s genius uncle, Uranus. Visionary and radical change agent of the cosmos, Uranus is tossing intermittent lightning bolts, which pierce the fog and illuminate what’s inside. See last month’s excitement with Uranus.

When they hit, we’re not doomed to reacting like a deer in headlights. An epidemic of remarkable emotional flexibility and nimbleness is available, through the Moon’s benevolent trine to Jupiter with his generous powers of expansion. Since the great benefactor is in the intense waters of Scorpio, this connection makes it possible to perceive more deeply, into one’s self as well as others, than our usual Gemini surface-skating mindset.

As old secrets and previously hidden truths surface, we have to face/respond to them.

Doorways are opening; opportunities to move are within reach through the Mercury/Saturn conjunction’s sextile to Mars in Libra. Action in or through relationships is the key, such as discussing terms for structure or commitment, or a close ally offering a helping hand.

Maybe time to set the scene for a new novel, Alex? IWSG-ers all?

As we wander through the fog, it may feel vaguely familiar. Remember the mutable grand cross of June 2016? That sense of watching events play out without our ability to steer or direct.

Are we prepared for a blue moon on New Year’s Day, 2018? Or an extra Cruithne companion, perhaps?
©2017 Marian Youngblood

December 6, 2017 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, authors, blogging, culture, fiction, history, pre-Christian, sacred sites, seasonal, stone circles, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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