Youngblood Blog

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Solstitial Heat, Third Lunar Eclipse Open Doors to Solitary Creativity

SOLSTITIAL HEAT, THIRD LUNAR ECLIPSE OPEN DOORS TO CREATIVITY
Monthly Writerly Corner Catchup During Troubled Times aka Doing Solitary

Letting off steam—before orders for isolation were introduced, July 4th fireworks display at Mount Rushmore was dramatic event, 2020 now cancelled

Against a dark sky, all flowers look like fireworks
— G.K.Chesterton

You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you—in your own way—can illuminate the world
― Oprah Winfrey

Despite its name, the Roman Candle—beloved of every generational member of the family, bar the dog—was not invented by the Romans.

By the time the nations in their vast Empire blanketing Europe began to fight back, forcing retreat and eventually bringing down their civilization, the most volatile explosion in the entire region was the sputter of temple oil tended by virgins.

Around A.D.1,000 Li Tan, a Chinese monk, stuffed a stalk of bamboo with a saltpeter-based gunpowder and launched it into a fire. Present-day Chinese major festivals shoot fireworks to celebrate New Year (February, Candlemas) and at the autumn Moon festival. Before global fascination with nuclear energy, it was commonplace for street children in (former) Shanghai to set off homemade ‘sticks’ (Chinese firecrackers) made from a hollow bamboo filled with powder, and lit with a tissue-paper taper. Light the touchpaper and stand back—literally.

After fireworks took hold, ammunition immediately followed, as did black powder bombs and mines. The first fire arrows (rockets) and fire lances (early proto-guns) were used in the Chinese Song-Jin wars at the Siege of De’an in A.D. 1132. Hand canons, developed from fire lances, were in use in China by the late twelfth century.

Pyrotechnics and Letting Off Steam

Fireworks satisfy human desire for sparkly things or to express release of inner explosive emotion

When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes

Calpurnia to Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

Inside info on manufacture of bangers and fizzers notwithstanding, youngsters in most countries are limited to enjoying fireworks at preordained times: most famous, British Guy Fawkes Day, November 5th—often held as municipal gatherings around Hallowe’en, old Samhainn. In the American continent, all celebrate the calendar date of the Declaration of Independence July 4th, not only for lighting up the sky, but for giving the nation a national holiday.

Sadly, this state, city and even village custom seems to be missing in 2020. But desire for it—blasting off in some form—has not.

Illegal Roman candles after midnight may seem the answer to some, but law enforcement agencies are waking up from their own ‘solitude’ and lack of call-outs—so johnny-come-lately Guy Fawkes behaviour not encouraged.

Distraction in the Skies—Read A Book Outside at Midnight
Looking upwards for entertainment? or for inspiration—July 4th penumbral lunar eclipse of a full Buck Moon should help; though its best visibility is the middle of the Atlantic ocean. But it’s a start.

While evening skies (in Northern hemisphere) may be very bright right now—in Scotland and Northern Isles sunset 10:30p.m., “read a book outside at midnight” time—most of the planets deck the pre-dawn sky. But both Jupiter and Saturn will appear very bright by July 24th. And two comets currently cornering the Sun will reappear—if they survive the ordeal—for naked-eye observation by end month.

Calpurnia Caesar was always right. Well, in the words of her husband Julius, Caesar’s wife was ‘above reproach’. Her prophetic statement, over, may be seen by us writers as predicting great change to come; or supreme assistance (from the heavens!) in completing our current WIP. Fear and doubt begone. I believe celestial help is being offered. Insecure Writers or not, we shall overcome.
©2020 Marian Youngblood

July 1, 2020 Posted by | art, authors, blogging, culture, environment, festivals, fiction, history, Muse, publishing, seasonal, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mad Dogs & Englishmen—in Solstice 2020 Heat, Invoke Water, Rainbows

MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN…SOLSTICE 2020 HEAT, INVOKE WATER, RAINBOWS and IRIS
First Wednesday Monthly Writing Corner for Writers Unlimited, IWSGs, NaNoWriMoers, Indies et al

They say astro signs show portents of changes before they occur. We humans are often slow to comprehend.

Iris, ancient Greek, Egyptian, Sumerian goddess of the Eye & the Rainbow, daughter of the West Wind (Zephyr), she joined ocean and sky, sending healing messages to earth’s creatures

With a significant lunar eclipse coming to occult the Full Rose Moon this Friday, June 5th, and despite challenging earth changes flourishing through rapid temperature rise worldwide, we writerly brigade feel it necessary to inject a positive attitude—and some long-forgotten traditions—into the pastry mix before we all stir the recipe into oblivion.

Venus, ancient love symbol, lately gloriously brightest in our evening skies, is now retrograde, tonight drowning in the Sun, and about to enter the Underworld.

She will emerge later this month as a ‘morning star’. This is a time of wild emotions, but inner beauty can be expressed, too. Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar, Isis were all facets of goddess of love capable of helping the human race.

MesoAmerican study of Venus cycles provided help to ancient races transfixed by Venus’s precision in the sky. Modern man could use such help.

We need it. There’s currently no help from the Crop Circle brigade unfortunately—As of June 1st, there had been total ONE Crop Circle in the so-called 2020 Season—and that in Belgium!

So—to Ancient Greece—and pre-Roman, hereditary Arabic star clusters and constellations for inspiration and sky-watching between sporadic bouts of earthbound television [not advised]. There we find hidden in myth, but shining in light elusive Iris who gives us the word iridescent—the word itself brings sparkle.

Brief background on this tiny reclusive spirit:

The goddess Iris, using her rainbow bridge, linked the sea and the sky, and she was allowed to enter the underworld and dive in the depths of the sea. The oldest Greek tradition imagined her as the goddess who supplied the clouds with water she scooped from the seas using a golden amphora or storage vessel aka pitcher, and thus stimulated the rains that brought growth and fertility to the earth. This originated from observing actual rainbows, whose one end can hide deep beyond the horizon, often in the sea or a body of wate, with its other end reaching for the heavens. She is responsible for healthy summer fertility and growth.

In Roman tradition (often similar to Greek), god Mercury is Messenger to the Gods. Not so in earliest tradition in ancient Greece and Egypt:

Iris alone was Messenger to the Greek gods and goddesses at first. Child of the West Wind—father Zephyr— and her mother Electra, a cloud nymph as well as one of the seven Pleiades, she could bring and deliver messages to all corners of Ocean and Sky. The Pleiades themselves were associated with water in all forms—rain, frost, ice, snow, lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Iris was the rainbow bridge.

Maiden Goddess with Iridescent Golden Wings
In some texts she is depicted wearing a coat of many colors. With this coat she actually creates the rainbows she rides to get from place to place. Iris’s wings were said to be so beautiful that she could even light up a dark cavern, a trait observable from all her stories.

Her cult held her as goddess supreme of communication, messages—exterior and intuitive—and her appearance was believed to mark major cultural change and new endeavors.

Though Iris was principally associated with communication and messages, she was also believed to aid in the fulfillment of humans’ prayers, either by fulfilling them herself or by bringing them to the attention of other higher deities.

In some texts she is depicted wearing a coat of many colors. With this coat she actually creates the rainbows she rides to get from place to place. Iris’s wings were said to be so beautiful that she could even light up a dark cavern, a trait observable from in the story of her visit to Somnus in order to relay a message to Alcyone.[9]

Though Iris was principally associated with communication and messages, she was also believed to aid in the fulfillment of humans’ prayers, either by fulfilling them herself or by bringing them to the attention of other deities.

Because no place in Creation was forbidden to her, she was delegated to carry water which she dived to collect from the River Styx [mythological river division between living and dead] and fly with it to Mount Olympus for the Gods to use to swear their oaths by.

Pleiades ocean sky nymphs reflect earth’s fairies/elves in many traditions

In Aboriginal & European mythology the Pleiades are often referred to as ocean or sea nymphs; as water girls and ice maidens. Their relationship with water is multi-layered and multi-faceted and we see numerous connections of the Pleiades with the weather, agriculture, navigation and sailing
Munya Andrews

In earliest Hellenist tradition, Iris monopolized the function of Messenger to the Gods. In early records, like Homer’s Trojan War epic the Iliad, she is the only one allowed to relay messages from Zeus–and, once, Hera–to other gods or mortals, with Hermes being given the much smaller rôle of guide and guardian.

Sit Arthur Rackham, 1867-1939, pictured young Iris as the embodiment of a mystical rainbow bridge between heaven and earth

Like the part of the eye named after her, she was the Kore, Virgin, or Female Soul, a form of the Great Shakti who was both the organ of sight and the visible world that it saw. Her spectrum spanned all possible colors
Barbara G.Walker

It is only in later proto-Roman Greece that Hermes becomes the ‘official’ messenger to the Gods, aka Roman Mercury. By then Zeus relied on Hermes; but Hera continued to rely on Iris because she could manifest, transmit her message and disappear instantly.

No known sanctuary exists where Iris’s cult was held. However, in the lion-ramparted island of Delos, however, annual feasts were prepared in June with offerings of wheat cake, honey and fig delicacies for the youthful idol.

Rainbow appearance and disappearance is still viewed in some cultures as a ‘magical sign’. And many traditions view a double rainbow as double good fortune.

Greek Constellation Cepheus Shelters Iris

Iris appears from Mediterranean skies as far as the Equator as a Nebula within Cepheus, itself a member of the Perseid group. Cepheus is named for mythical King Cepheus of Aethiopia, husband of Cassiopeia and father of Andromeda, all represented by neighboring constellations. Like other constellations in the Perseus family, Cepheus was catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.

Iris used rainbows to travel phenomenal distances at the ‘speed of the winds’

The constellation is home to VV Cephei and the Garnet Star (Mu Cephei), both among the largest known stars in the Milky Way, and to several well-known deep sky objects: the Wizard Nebula, the Iris Nebula, and the Fireworks Galaxy.

According to Space.com, Cepheus is the 27th largest constellation in the night sky, occupying an area of 588 square degrees. It is located in the fourth quadrant of the northern hemisphere (NQ4) and can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -10°. Neighboring constellations are Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Draco, Lacerta, and Ursa Minor.

Cepheus belongs to the Perseus family of constellations, along with Andromeda, Auriga, Cassiopeia, Cetus, Lacerta, Pegasus, Perseus, and Triangulum. Sky Map here.

Almost all this group can be seen close-to-overhead in Northern night sky around summer solstice—even with the full moon.

[Insecure] Writerly Benefits of Lockdown—Keep On Writing
While looking skyward in the next few weeks may just take our (introvert writing) minds off forced re-entry into normal world affairs, I am the first to encourage the habits gleaned from social isolation to get to the old computah—or manifest a brand new one—and write it all out before anyone outside our charmed inner sanctum gets in and tells us it’s all a dream.

No, it’s not a fantasy. Life, writing and speaking daily to one’s Muse are part of the Dream we signed up for, didn’t we? And a little background levity alongside learning never went amiss. Check back here when summer’s over and we’ll see how we all fared. And keep those fans blowing. ‘Cos it’s hot out there.
©2020 Marian Youngblood

June 3, 2020 Posted by | ancient rites, art, astrology, astronomy, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, consciousness, fantasy, festivals, fiction, nature, New Age, New Earth, novel, ocean, publishing, ritual, seasonal, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barons of Scotland Pave Way for Declaration of Independence

Seals of Scotland’s bravest & finest: crests shown: Cheyne of Duffus, Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, and Gilbert de la Hay, Baron of Errol in Gowrie

BARONS OF SCOTLAND PAVE WAY FOR DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
700 Years since Declaration of Arbroath 1320: Food for Writerly Thought in 2020

For so long as there shall but one hundred of us remain alive we will never give consent or subject ourselves to the dominion of the English. For it is not glory, it is not riches, neither is it honours, but it is liberty alone that we fight and contend for, which no honest man will lose but with his life
Barons of Scotland, April 6th, 1320 Aberbrothock

Arbroath, former Aberbrothock, is an historic royal burgh (town), North Sea fishing port, and holiday resort in the county of Angus, Northeast Scotland. Dundee, home to RSS Discovery (Capt.Robert F Scott’s frozen Antarctic vessel),jute, jam and journalism, lies 15miles south. Aberdeen 50 miles north.

It is famous today for Arbroath smokies—or smoked haddock ‘kippers’. And for its mediaeval Abbey, once foremost (richest) cathedral church and chief Benedictine monastery in the realm.

Founded 1178 by King William the Lion for Thomas à Becket, Arbroath Abbey served by 14thC as both secular parliament and most revered religious hub


Arbroath Abbey, the richest and most influential religious center in the North, was founded in 1178 by King William I, the Lion, of Scotland, who chose to be buried there. The Declaration of Arbroath, asserting Scotland’s independence from English rule, was a letter written 700 years ago this week to the (French) Pope by Bernard de Linton, Abbot of Arbroath and Chancellor of Scotland.

It is one of the great icons of the Scots, written in Latin to the Pope in Avignon, and signed by eight earls and 31 barons of Scotland. They plead with him to rescind excommunication—which the Roman Catholic church had just imposed on the King of Scots along with his earls and nobles, based on claims by the English king Edward. They ask him to acknowledge Scotland as an independent nation—which eventually he does.

It has been claimed to serve as model for slave-owning American landowners in their 1766 Declaration of Independence, but history may dispute that.

It was signed by Nobles and Parliament at Arbroath Abbey—richest and most elite religious and secular center of the land. Those nobles unable to attend sent their seals by messenger to the Chancellor to be affixed to the final document. The Declaration was then sent by sea from the small fishing port to Pope John XXII at his court in Avignon. It left the harbour—looking much as it looks today—in a small fishing vessel on April 6th, 1320, headed for Provence and the Mediterranean coast.

By then, as the nation’s supreme cathedral church, the Abbey was enlarged through 14th-16th centuries inkeeping with its grandeur. The Abbey church at that time boasted the nation’s largest known stained glass windows—in the south transept. It replaced nearby St.Vigean’s (Pictish 8thC heraldic/religious stone center) and was briefly home to Aberdeenshire‘s Monymusk Reliquary, believed to hold relics of St. Columba, now housed in National Museum of Scotland.

Cancelled Celebrations and Call for Loyalty in 2021
It is no surprise to learn that the City & Burghers of Arbroath have announced cancellation of their long-awaited “700 Years” Festival for this year, but have rescheduled festivities for 2021. Hurrah for the smokies!

Signatories included the Earl Marischal Robert Keith, Gilbert de la Hay Constable of Scotland, the Earls of Mar, Fife, Ross & Sutherland, & Lords of Brechin, Kincardine, Lovat & Saltoun. No seal represents the Comyn Mormaer of Buchan

Scots, wha’ hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tae yer gorey bed,
Or tae victorie

Now’s the day, an now’s the hour:
See the front o’ battle lour,
See approach proud Edward’s power
Chains and Slaverie

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha will fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn an’ flee

Wha, for Scotland’s King and Law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw?
Freeman stan’, or Freeman fa’,
Let him on wi’ me…
Robert Burns, 1793, recently used as SNP anthem

Words put in the mouth of Robert I Brus, self-proclaimed king of Scots, on eve of Bannockburn, 1314. Reason for papal decress: Bruce, a west-coaster claiming royal lineage, had murdered last Pictish Earl and Mormaer, John “Red” Comyn of Buchan, 1306 on the altar of Greyfriars church, Dumfries. His army of followers subsequently put torch to all Comyn hunting lands in N.E.Scots landmass: Buchan——modern Aberdeenshire——and the people spoke of the Herschip o’ Buchan Caledonian hunting forests,”burning for 30 years” i.e. fires were still smoking during Bannockburn; Comyn’s descendants did not sign the Declaration, above left; no signature represents Buchan or half the landmass of NorthEast Scotland on the document.
[caveat:In 242 sq.miles of Buchan ‘Broch loons’ and ‘Doric quines’ still feel this way aboot R the B]

The Round O and Reid Lichties
We sympathize with all Scots at this time, particularly celebrants in the coastal town—so-called Reid Lichties*—for their temporarily-suspended Festival because of Corona virus precautions. Councillors and festival organizers have proposed April 2021 as the month they will be “ready to roll” once again.

Distinctive round window high in the 15thC south transept, top, was originally lit up at night as a beacon for mariners aiming for the North Sea port. It is known locally as the ‘Round O’. From this maritime tradition inhabitants of Arbroath are colloquially known as *’Reid Lichties’ (Scots reid = red). Not to be confused with any other red light district.<3

Earth Week now Earth Month
April, as we writing fanatics know, is A-to-Z Challenge month—2020 Challenge sign-up closes April 5th. So my writing cohorts, Insecure or otherwise may forgive me for sidestepping our usual first Wednesday blog-hopping ritual—and daily wordcount—in order to give precedence to Scotland’s historical milestone. I feel Arbroath deserves the mention. There are many American descendants of those noble families whose seals deck the document who may feel inspired to visit the great Abbey after all this medical stuff has blown over. I hope they will.

And we writers KNOW—when the Muse speaks, we listen. We ignore her at our peril. So what’s a few missed sentences between the centuries?

Post scriptum: On Christmas Day 1950, the Stone of Destiny—used in recent centuries for royal coronations—was removed from Westminster Abbey, London. On April 11, 1951, the missing stone was found lying on the site of the Abbey’s altar at Arbroath.
©2020 Marian Cameron Youngblood

April 1, 2020 Posted by | blogging, culture, history, sacred sites, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Names and Name-Calling—Generational Giveaway

NAMES AND NAME-CALLING—A GENERATIONAL GIVEAWAY
Attempt at Humor in Monthly Writerly Cave, When All Around Are Losing Theirs…

Parrot GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Lavendar’s blue, dilly dilly
Lavendar’s green
When you are King, dilly dilly
I shall be Queen

Don’t Despair—Humor Crosses All Borders

Roland, der Riese am Rathaus zu Bremen… North German iconic past

Traditional girls’ and boys’ names seem to be in disfavor at the mo—both with Millennials and with their offspring—iGens. Who these days would name their child Guinevere (Wessex-Saxon), Marian (Anglian Northumbrian), Marjory (last Pictish countess of Buchan), Eric (Viking), Roland or Norbert (Norddeutsch, with appropriate refined accent)? Or even Eve or Luke (multi-purpose Biblical)? unless to commemorate a generational icon within the family.

Roland, der Riese, am Rathaus zu Bremen
Stand er ein Standbilt, standhaft und stark*
North German medieval icon in Bremen marketplace, used to teach ‘correct’ purist pronunciation in Hansestadt accent

Saturn Return (30) and Uranus (86) Cycle
Experiencing the joy of knowing a friend from Old School times—he’s on his third Saturn Return while I am delicately navigating the waters towards my Uranian first; it occurs to me that iGens and their offspriing (yes, it’s happening) may be missing a huge opportunity, nay, treasure trove of centuries, in calling themselves Lavendar or Thyme (‘Sixties and ‘Seventies cool); Bron, Zion or Dwayne (‘Eighties/Nineties) or (Noughties) Star, Elf, Lake.

I met a man the other evening calling himself Vivid. As a token Boomer, I am now almost totally deaf; so I heard him call himself Ribbit. Like the frog, I thought; and enjoyed repeating it a couple times, until a sensitive friend gently corrected me. Guess if you are Vivid, all the world must look bright to you—or at least rainbow-hued. I kept the Ribbit joke to myself.

In 1969, when the Hippie Generation resolved to have only one child—or fewer—world population was 3.6 billion souls. In 2020 we have reached a staggering 7.8 billion. I register astonishment that we have doubled in my lifetime; but wonder how Mother Earth can sustain. [Coronavirus and Gay/Lesbian marriages notwithstanding, perhaps we have some responsibility to curb our enthusiasm for progeny]. Imho.

Days of Week, Months show Opposing Ancient Traditions

Brigantian bronze mirror, AD600-900, found 2019 in elite grave Birdlip, Glos. Brittonic-Pictish women made all tribal and lineage decisions

If Roman names were still with us, we might name a child Mars, Venus or Cupid. Where English and German went Viking/Saxon, weekdays in France still recall Roman gods. Lundi is Monday/Montag for the Moon, jeudi for Jupiter; where in the Saxon world, Thursday/Donnerstag god Thor (thunder) is in charge, with Freya, Norse goddess of Love and wife of Odin, giving her name to Friday/Freitag. The French venerate the same goddess but with a Roman name: Venus = vendredi. Saturday, Sunday and Monday align both calendars: Saturn-day, Samstag; Sonntag for the Sun; Montag for the Moon.

Name-calling Reaches New Heights
I laughed a little when I first heard that for iGens, Stoopid is considered almost the worst epithet you could use. For us Star Trek generation, it’s like using the F-word continuously, or Mr Spock’s version of a ‘Colorful Metaphor’. I don’t get it. There are some doozies out there—Oxford dictionary, Wikipedia, take your pick—and yet that’s all they can come up with? Nothing personal, but poor show, Drama-ah, Lagoon and Racie: your expletives seem lame.

I’m not complaining. My fellow writers’-cave IWSGers probably agree the English language is a source of untold wealth, maintaining an open door—through time, culture and imagination—to whatever the next generation devises.

What we may be seeing is the cultural influence of Smartphones and, with instant messaging, a dwindling of tradition in the written word.

I hope I’m wrong.

Language has so much to offer—it influences a whole half hemisphere of our brain. Without it, the human race rushes towards what? A bunch of Lefties with Right-hemisphere conceptual retention and overloaded emotion without words?

All this—and what currently serves as World News—may make us Bring on the Budgerigar, top, or any current fave instant laughter-producing image. My fellow generational writing stalwarts*, like Space Capt. Alex, will empathize if I quietly hum the 1948 Woody Woodpecker Song.
*Just happens stalwart is North German standhaft 😉
Spoken so initial ‘s’ is pronounced pure ‘s’, not (lower German)’sch’ Translation:
Roland, the Giant, at the Town Hall in Bremen
There he stands, a statue, stalwart and strong.

Guess what? Maybe they need us Oldies after all—if only for our mental filing system.
©2020 Marian Youngblood

March 4, 2020 Posted by | art, astrology, astronomy, authors, belief, blogging, consciousness, culture, environment, fantasy, history, Muse, nature, novel, popular, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pictish Inheritance in an Ancient Land

Herschip o’ Buchan and Caledonian Forest
After the 1308 Herschip o’Buchan by Robert Bruce, whose firebrands scorched their route from ‘Burgh to Broch'(Inverurie to Fraserburgh), Aberdonians recall Caledonian forest trees burned for fifty years. Centers of power shifted south, taking with them Rhynie gold and Ythan pearls—both still shine in Royal Regalia of Scotland, alongside stylized Pictish beast-dolphin in Edinburgh Castle vault. Nevertheless, Scots Pine replanting has begun!

Devorguilablog: view from the Pictish citadel

promontory stronghold on the North Sea, Dunottar dates back to Pictish era It is a little-known fact that the area surrounding the Buck of the Cabrach was celebrated in early-historical times and up to the late Medieval as a source for gold.

Kings of Picts used the resource centred on what is now called Rhynie in Aberdeenshire and much gold used for the crown jewels, prior to Robert Bruce’s takeover, was Aberdeenshire gold.

Scots regalia held in Edinburgh Castle Pearls were also sourced in Aberdeenshire from the River Ythan and the pearl in the Crown of Scotland (now in disuse) is from the Ythan (Buchan, outlet into North Sea north of Dee and Don). Kings prior to the Scots takeover AD843 had landholdings in Cé (present Aberdeenshire) and it remained one of the richest areas for royal hunting (Royal Forests of Derley, Deer, Gight, Garioch, Insch, Forgue, Cabrach, Letter (Ladder), Mar, Stocket and Udny & Dudwick); farming and artisan crafts.

The most influential ‘Celtic’ earl before Robert I…

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February 29, 2020 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, blogging, culture, environment, history, traditions, trees, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auspicious Beginnings to the New Decade—Written in the Stars

AUSPICIOUS BEGINNINGS TO THE NEW DECADE—WRITTEN IN THE STARS
Looking to the Future: 2020 Corner for Insecure Writers in all Dimensions

Glancing Briefly Backwards…

‘Diamond Ring’—old NASA-speak for moment solar orb reappears after annular eclipse December 26th 2019

The Sun provided the Indian sub-continent and all Southern Oceans with a dramatic solar eclipse on (British Raj) Boxing Day, December 26th, 2019, triggering a trend for skywatching with special protective glasses. Totality—which reached a maximum duration of four minutes in the “total zone”—attracted one million youthful observers, allowed out in school playgrounds across the Asian archipelago for the event. A solar eclipse occurs when the (new) moon passes in front of the sun’s disc. Lunar eclipse happens when Earth’s shadow passes over the moon. First of four lunar eclipses in 2020 will occur (visible Europe, Asia; not America) night of January 10th.

Solar Eclipses are often dramatic when they occur close to Winter Solstice and this event was spectacular in that the new moon happened so close to Christmas.

Last solar eclipse of the decade—December 26th path of visible totality

Quite charismatically, Captain James Cook, during one of his Pacific navigational/discovery voyages witnessed a famous annular eclipse on December 29th, 1777 between the Hawai’ian Island chain and present Guam.

…Glimpse of Future
Summer Solstice, June 21st, 2020 miraculously will provide another annular eclipse of the sun—again delighting India, Pakistan, Arabian continent and Southern Oceans. No hint in the northern hemisphere. And to complete the 2020 trio, December 14th 2020 brings a third (northern-invisible) eclipse.

There has to be a moral in there somewhere for us (northerly) Insecure Writers!

Jumping Time Zones and a British EarthShot for Humans
As the New Year and new Decade start to unfold—twenty-three hours ahead of time for us (northern) slug-laggards—and remembering that U.S. legislation bans public sale or explosion of fireworks, except on July 4th—it is fascinating to watch some of the fun & fireworks go off live—and virtually—in New Zealand, Thailand, Taipei, Pakistan, and Ceylon in good olde British style and tradition.

Earthshot Prize British Royal Initiative

Up the Khyber—HRH Prince William climbing in the Hindu Kush—2019 Royal tour of Pakistan cemented relations

“The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve”
HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Earthshot Founder

Prince William’s inspiration for a new decade is world-changing. Literally. Cooperating with octogenarian broadcaster-naturalist Sir David Attenborough, the 37-year-old Prince’s initiative is to heal the planet, one annual award at a time. His Foundation is shared by his eco-planting nature-loving consort, HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who made strides last year to bring focus to human damage to our changing earth, and our duty to do something about it. Her own nature-driven remedies for mental health have been widely copied.

“The next ten years presents us with one of our greatest tests—a decade of action to repair the Earth”
HRH Prince William, Patron Earthshot Prize

Prince William’s clarion call to British, Commonwealth and international entrepreneurs, influencers, and innovators is to “remember the awe-inspiring civilizations that we (humans) have built, the life-saving technology we have created,” and that “inspired people can achieve great things.”

Clavie King & Crew hoist burning tar barrel for annual parade round Pictish fort of Burghead on Aul”Eel—old Yule 6th January—Julian calendar

He aims to build an international coalition of scientists, economists, activists, government leaders, businesspeople, philanthropists, cities, and countries worldwide.

The Prize will be run initially by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with first annual awards announced in 2021. Long term plan is for it to become an independent organization.

The charitable trust has already received financial commitment and logistical support from a global coalition of philanthropists and fund-raising organizations.

Earthfirst and Nature non-profits have heralded the new initiative as a brilliant coalition of the world’s best minds.

‘In just ten years we can go from fear to hope, from disaster to discovery; from inertia to inspiration’
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

So when all the Highland Reels, Roman Candles and Midnight countdowns have spun off into an alternative Universe and we emerge in the moment of now: 2020—it helps us (insecure but determined to be brilliant writers) to remember that we, too, have a part in contributing to our own healthy future; that one-word-at-a-time is like planting our own future forest.

Only the writer knows how rejuvenating it feels to ‘put a story to bed’. Shake out the red carpet. Roll on the new decade. And, with gratitude, let us put our best first-foot forward.

Let the new era begin.
©2020 Marian Youngblood

January 1, 2020 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, festivals, fiction, Muse, nature, publishing, sun, weather, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Art of Self-Healing in a Post-Anthropocene Writing World

ART OF SELF-HEALING IN A POST-ANTHROPOCENE WRITING WORLD
First Wednesday in the Writing Cave—open to IWSGers, NaNoWriMos and Other Insecure Scribes


Age-Related Wisdom Spurned by Youthful Masses

Living in the Anthropocene Age—a world which has been changed by Man to near-unrecognizable proportions

Judging by how the #old are represented—or not represented—by the media, it’s fair to say we live in a society which likes to pretend #old people don’t exist
Richard Alpert, PhD @BabaRamDass

At this moment, amid north-Atlantic havoc wreaked by (late) hurricane Lorenzo, Climate activist marches, and *U.N. panel discussions attracting world leaders to instigate radical change, a little flurry of benefactors—unnoticed by mainstream media—have quietly continued their superlative support, as the rest of the human race races towards apparent extinction. Melinda and Bill Gates are a good example. With their Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in addition to their celebrated Asian water reclamation schemes, they are upgrading an already well-established voluntary network of assistance/donation to earth’s most vulnerable continents, strengthening capability of on-site first responders, and funding local institutions to help communities prepare for and cope with potential future disasters.
*coined by film-makers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, in their documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, shown at United Nations Climate Action Summit, end September 2019.

At current pace, we shall by 2050 have created an ocean containing more plastic than fish—Baichwal & de Pencier ‘Anthropocene: the Human Era’

News headlines may not have grasped that beneath the frisson of world leaders—yea, former enemies—reaching out to help one another in New York——q.v. Pakistan’s premier Imran Khan, 66, and his brave support for beleaguered Kashmir; Saudis lending assistance, U.A.Emirates sharing space capsules…there is another agenda emerging—solar panels in the Sahara; thousands of young trees planted in Pakistan, India, Canada, Venezuela; medical aid for East Africa. Things are beginning to change.

The cricket-fan and space fantasy-lover in me applauds such new initiatives. Besides, global darling outside the Hollywood stereotype, Prime Minister Khan communicates freely in their native tongue with Brits, Americans, Hindus and Muslims.

At this time, Hong Kong sentimentally—and crucially—decides to be British again—to assert its independence from mainland China—rejecting the 70-year old Communist celebration and its regime, and flying the Union Jack.

Oldies but Goodies—Seriously
While perhaps wielding a more ancient battle-standard in an effort to use less and give back more, Oldies from the ‘Sixties are still around, still calling some shots, playing music—at least keeping the peace-sign alive. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in August, younger generation parties sprang up to venerate dead idols—sadly many now gone—like Hendrix, Morrison, Richie Havens. Keeping the flag flying, however, are Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King and David Crosby of (you remember!) The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Buffalo Springfield fame. Not only are these musicians still singing and playing their kind of music, but Croz with his son James Raymond played an iconic free concert at New York’s outdoor Lincoln Center on August 10/11th this summer. Release of their latest Sky Trails tour movie—Remember My Name—is imminent.

Solar-powered Yacht, Electric Hummer as Alternative Vehicles

Solar-powered yacht, commissioned by Monaco Yacht Club team Malizia & co-founder Pierre Casiraghi, grandson of Prince Rainier III to sail Ms. Thunberg across the Atlantic

In a world where we are told half the population is now in the under-35 bracket, it is heartening to hear that Oldie and assuredly Hollywood-Goodie ex-Governor turned philanthropist Arnold Schwarzenegger [‘Terminator‘] has offered to lend his priceless electric automobile—a Kreisel Hummer—to 16-year old visitor Greta Thunberg, to use on her tour of northern territories and climate-marching school-truanters in New England, parts of Canada and, if support doesn’t run out for the autistic Swedish child, possibly Greenland.

It is good to know that the child has her father, Svante, along for the ride—presumably paying for some expenses. The north Atlantic section of the trans-Atlantic solar racing yacht trip, was commissioned by Team Malizia II of Monaco Yacht Club, with Malizia’s co-founder Pierre Casiraghi, grandson of Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace Kelly, sailing with them as sponsor from Britain to New York.

Back in the Writing Cave…
My writing co-conspirators, with guidance from our Ninja Space Captain, Alex, may—like me—feel a little out of our depth in waters muddied by a special needs teenager on so-called ‘sabbatical’, aka striking/taking off from school, and driving around in a borrowed electric car.

I concede that the driving age in the U.S.A. is sixteen. But in Europe—in both Great Britain and Sweden—the minimum driving age is 18-years old. So I guess, that’s why Daddy’s on the road trip.

I also happen to have inside info on our writing fraternity/sorority, and know that some of us Oldies AND Goodies are truly checking in from a different time—and space—planting both trees and words in our own beloved Cave-corner, sharing and enjoying with others new frontiers in these changing times.

Thanks for being there. Keep the flame burning in the Writing Cave. It’s all going to be worth it.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

October 2, 2019 Posted by | authors, birds, blogging, consciousness, culture, earth changes, environment, nature, ocean, organic husbandry, publishing, rain, seasonal, trees, weather, 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