Youngblood Blog

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In August/Lammas Heat, our Thoughts Turn to Water

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

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


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

This August seems hotter than most.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping it Light: Learning Games when Dark (Vog) Clouds Loom

KEEPING IT LIGHT: LEARNING GAMES FOR INSECURE WRITERS
Monthly Catch-up Corner for IWSGers & Insecure Historians 😉

Big Island’s southern sector smothered by lava, now adds VOG to the mix, photo USGS

While volcanic mayhem continues to play out in fresh ruptures around Hawaii’s Kilauea fissure zone, see last month’s blog update, below, our Insecure Writerly hearts go out to a duplicate blast from Mother Earth in Guatemala.

It seems superfluous to remind ourselves that the hurricane season officially kicked off June 1st—conveniently “tropical storm” 2018 Alberto already gathering speed—when devastated homeless Puerto Rican refugees from last year’s hurricane Maria still have no dependable electricity (a public service in U.S.) or back-up power source.

Meanwhile, half an ocean away, another volcanic tragedy strikes Guatemala where hope in the search for survivors underground is waning. In Central American Fuego—as with Pu’u-O’o—there is VOG—unbreathable air formed when sulfur dioxide SO2 and other gases/particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight—to add to the mix.

Rescuers in Las Lajas, Guatemala search for survivors under the lava from Fuego volcano

It bears remembering that when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2011, all trans-Atlantic flights were cancelled.

My intention here is not only to draw attention to severe gaps in this Administration’s compassion for human suffering—California went to the polls tonight—but to highlight past ways some of our ancestors used to make light of the heaviest subjects—including death, famine, sickness.

Our learned chieftain Alex would have a sci-fi solution, unleashing from his fantasy bag of tricks a plethora of goodies to feed our imagination—and lighten our spirits.

Science Fiction or Real Earth Scenario?
We insecure writers know that sci-fi only came to the world of literature with ‘Forties /’Fifties greats like Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert [“Dune”], Heinlein, Vonnegut and Clarke—unless you count Jules Verne and H.G. Wells’s 1895 “The Time Machine”.

So when sci-fi seems to be playing out around the Earth in new and unimaginable ways, it may serve us well to revert to childhood games we used in those times to learn what we didn’t feel like learning seriously.

Grandpa’s Alternative Method of Learning History
Hold on to your hats, IWSGers, and watch as the alternative learning rhyme unfolds.

This beauty has particular attraction for those hundreds-of-thousands who may have watched the British royal family parade through May, also below. And wondered where all the names came from. In Brit kids’ speak, these monarchs date from 1066. And we’re all heard of that. The English try NOT to remember that before the Magna Carta, there were other kings and queens of far greater lineage. Save that for another time.

Willie, Willie, Harry Stee

Elizabeth Tudor’s embossed signature, c.1589

WILLIE, WILLIE, HARRY, STEE(V)

HARRY, DICK, JOHN, HARRY THREE

ONE, TWO, THREE NEDS, RICHARD TWO

HARRY FOUR, FIVE, SIX AND WHO?

EDWARD FOUR, FIVE, RICHARD THREE,

2 HENRYS, EDWARD & BLOODY MAIREE

ELIZABETH, THE VIRGIN QUEEN,

TWO JAMES WITH CHARLIES IN BETWEEN

WILLIAM & MARY, ANNA GLORIA,

FOUR GEORGES, WILLIAM & VICTORIA.

NED, GEO, NED, GEO, LIZ.

William I 1066-1087 William II 1087-1100 Henry I 1100-1135 Stephen 1135-1154 NORMAN

Henry II Plantagenet 1154-1189 Richard I 1189-1199 John 1199-1216 Henry III 1216-1272

Edward I 1272-1307 Edward II 1307-1327 Edward III 1327-1377 Richard II 1377-1399 Plantagenet 245 yrs

Henry IV Lancaster 1399-1413 Henry V 1413-1422 Henry VI 1422-1461

Edward IV York 1461-1483 Edward reigned a few days Richard III 1483-1485

Henry VII Tudor 1485-1509 Henry VIII 1509-1547 Edward VI 1547- 1553 Mary I 1553-1558

Elizabeth I 1558-1603 Last Tudor Sovereign

James I 1603-1625 Charles I 1625-1649* Charles II 1660-1685 James II 1685-1688 Stuart

William III Orange 1689-1702 & Mary d.1694 Anne 1702-1714 last of Stuarts

George I 1714-1727 George II 1727-1760 George III 1760-1820 George IV 1820-1830 William IV1830-37 House of Hanover

Victoria 1837-1901

Edward VII Saxe-Coburg 1901-1910 George V 1910-1936 changed name to Windsor Edward VIII abdicated

George VI 1936-1952 Elizabeth II 1952-present

Length of Dynasties

We all know who he is—six wives later—

Norman Kings 88 years

Plantagenets 245 years

House of Lancaster 62 years

House of York 24 years

Tudors 118 years

Stuarts 97 years

Orange-Nassau 13 years

Hanoverians 187 years

Saxe-Coburg 9 years

House of Windsor current, adopted by Geo.V

* between 1649-1660, England was a “Commonwealth”, Oliver Cromwell & son Richard Cromwell, Protectors
In 1660 Scotland enacted the Reformation—all worship to be Protestant; Roman Catholicism outlawed.
Hope you IWSGers survived your history lesson. Thanks for your patience. You will be tested next month—lol.

©2018 Marian Youngblood

June 6, 2018 Posted by | astronomy, authors, belief, blogging, earth changes, environment, history, nature, ocean, publishing, rain, seismic, traditions, volcanic, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Royal Line of Succession—All Change

ALL CHANGE—FOR ROYALS AND INSECURE WRITERS
Early Catch-up Corner for IWSG-ers and Wannabe Royals [like Meghan]

HRH Duke & Duchess of Cambridge with newborn HRH Prince Louis, 23rd April 2018

Brand new Prince Louis of Cambridge has become the fifth in line to the British throne. Born Monday April 23rd, in London’s St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, the newborn infant
returned home to nearby Kensington Palace hours after birth. HRH Prince Louis Arthur Charles becomes the Queen and Prince Philip’s sixth great-grandchild.

He follows his father and two siblings in the line of succession as the great-great-great-great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

New Rules of Succession
His uncle, HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York is the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s third child, but when Andrew was born in 1960 he leapfrogged his older sister, Princess Anne, in the line of succession. Little Louis bumps his uncle down a notch, sliding into his (5th) spot, after elder sister Charlotte and brother George.

Under new rules of succession, below, the Cambridges’ third child although a boy, will no longer be allowed to jump ahead of older sister Charlotte in the line of succession.

Previously, under the ancient rules of male primogeniture, royal sons took precedence over their female siblings, even leapfrogging first-born royal daughters.

But a radical shake-up of the royal succession rules removed discriminatory male bias and came into force in March 2015, affecting babies born after October 28 2011.

The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 has already affected the Duke of Gloucester’s granddaughters, Senna Lewis and Lyla Gilman, whose younger brothers, born in 2012, now follow them in the line of succession.

The “new” Royal Line, HRH girls included, gives Prince Louis status of five-times great grandchild of Queen Victoria

William may need to adjust to caring for a newborn once again.

Kate joked in the months leading up to her due date that her husband was ‘in denial’ about having a third.

And the social whirl is hotting up.

Little Louis and Big Andrew
By having more than two children, William and Kate are following in the footsteps of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who went on to have four children—although there was a gap of ten years between their second child, HRH Anne, and third, HRH Andrew—now bumped a place in the hierarchy.

As a sibling to both future king George and ‘spare to heir’ Charlotte, new prince Louis is unlikely ever to be crowned sovereign.

The new infant is already a prince, thanks to HM the Queen, who stepped in ahead of Prince George’s birth to ensure all William’s children would become HRHs, with fitting titles.

The Queen issued Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm in December 2012 when Kate was just a few months pregnant, declaring ‘All children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour’.

Royal line of succession places new Prince Louis’ status above that of his uncle Andrew, far right


A Letters Patent in 1917, issued by George V, limited titles within the royal family, meaning daughters born to William and Kate would not have been an HRH but Lady (Charlotte) Mountbatten-Windsor instead and second or later-born sons would also have lacked the HRH title and become Lord (Louis) Mountbatten-Windsor, rather than a prince.

Royal Social Calendar getting crowded
With more British royal engagements coming thick and fast—another royal wedding in the offing for May 19th—the little prince might be seen to upstage his uncle Harry and his new American bride, who will wed in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. Prince Louis’ mum, HRH Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, has not been asked to be maid of honor to Ms. Meghan Markle, as according to Buckingham Palace sources, “it is not appropriate, having so recently given birth.”

Among Royal circles, the choice of names for little Louis reverberates in history.

HRH Prince Louis is first seen to commemorate Prince Charles’s mentor and great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, killed by an Irish Republican Army bomb in 1979. Arthur and Charles are also names in honor of the infant’s grandfather Charles, who was unable to see his grandchild for more than a week because of State appointments—of which the Heir to the British Throne has over 600 this year, having relieved his mother, HM the Queen, 92, of most of them.

Insecure royal chroniclers and other writers will await developments in the run-up to the royal wedding in May, when more than half of Hollywood is slated to descend on London. 😉
©2018 Marian Youngblood

April 28, 2018 Posted by | ancient rites, culture, history, popular, ritual, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trinidad—the Lighthouse That Got Hauled Away

Mostly Monthly Caring Corner for Insecure Writers

TRINIDAD MEMORIAL LIGHTHOUSE SONG
with apologies & gratitude for the John Prine (October 1946-) original Paradise

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse before removal, during local annual thanksgiving ceremony to fishermen November 2017

Chorus*:
Oh, Daddy, won’t you take me
Back to Trinidad Lighthouse
Down by the Memorial where Mom’s ashes lay.
I’m sorry, my son, but you’re too late in askin’
‘Cos the Anderson Dura Crane hauled it away.

We looked north, we looked south, along East, West and View Streets:
Strawberry Rock, Patrick’s Point to Luffenholtz bay.
Searched Scenic till sunset—along Baker’s Beach, Old Home Beach.
Finally at Launcher Cove, we called it a day.

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse before they hauled it away


That night in the moonlight
We held candlelit vigil—
Trinidad fisherfolk, Yurok, Tsurai—
Our Tribe of all colors, we held hands together
Asking Angels to help us find Truth in our Cry.

Next day, Johnny from the Seascape said:”Hey, this what yer lookin’ fer’?”
Yer Lighthouse and Bell are over State Beach way.
The Tribe that owns the Dockland are letting you guys park there.
So it looks like yer Lighthouse is down here to stay.”

o 0 o 0 o

Thank you, John Prine

—and for reference, John Prine’s chorus*:
Oh, Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in askin’
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

More than One Way to Skin a Cat**
Much press and local speculation surrounded a “sit-in”/occupation of the Lighthouse in the days between Christmas 2017 and Epiphany 2018, coincidentally the night of candlelight vigil on the Bluff. There had been marginal crises between some factions, averted by human common sense and greatly aided by the Rancheria of the Tsurai, Cher-Ae Heights Casino and local residents of Trinidad town.

Quietly, without fanfare, the Rancheria, aka Casino, who own the land on which the local crab fishermen dock, land and store their crab-pots—hugely important financial input for the local community—offered a stable, ocean-front location for both Lighthouse and 1898 bronze Bell. Civic Club, magistrates, city councillors and residents were appeased with one swoop. See Dana Hope, Civic Club president’s remark below, and our previous blog on this event.

**with apologies to my dear-departed Smilodon

Space Race during Government Shutdown

Tiny memorial lighthouse being ‘hauled away’ by crane, Epiphany January 2018

While some government-related areas suffered from emergency shutdown at this time—e.g. astronauts unable to access Space Shuttle Robot Arm—on television—until departments went back online, National and State Parks on restricted hours; residents and loved ones of those at sea in Trinidad behaved with decorum and with human compassion and “fixed it”—at least temporarily.

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Chairman Garth Sundberg of the Trinidad Rancheria and their tribal council for making this solution possible. I think the city of Trinidad, certainly the Civic Club and frankly the entire county of Humboldt owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to them. They were the ones that came in and created an option when we didn’t know that we had one.
Dana Hope, Trinidad Civic Club President, 2018”

Now we in Trinidad can all sing together—in jubilation
Chorus
“Oh, Daddy, guess what I found? —the Trinidad Lighthouse!
Along with the Bell that bongs noon every day.
It’s sittin’ in the crab-pots, with nobody watchin’
An’ nobody’s now gonna haul it away.”

With grateful thanks to my [incognita assistant] singer-songwriter, Marianne, who inspired and prompted better scanning of some of my verses. Hope you IWSGers & Alex all appreciate her work!

And for those who do, Happy CARNIVAL!
©2018 Marian Youngblood

February 7, 2018 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, traditions, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Epiphany—the Twelfth Day of Christmas

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

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

Partridge in a Pear Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditional rhymes to rival the Pokemon version, December blog below


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

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

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

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

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

What the World Needs Now…is Love—and Water

The TURN OF THE SCREW
Changing Times call for Change of Tack

Diana Ross in her heyday—’sixties queen of rock and soul

Diana Ross, Jackie deShannon and others sang—

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
Hal David and Burt Bacharach, 1965

Only fifty years later, we could change the word ‘love’ to ‘water’ and be closer to what this speeded-up world has become—July 2017 hotter than July 2016, which went down in the record books. Water in some places more precious than gold.

Essayist and Kentucky farmer, Wendell Berry [Another Turn of the Crank, 1995] is convinced that organic/sustainable farming in the developed nations ended with the end of World War II. He maintains carefully-managed farming and forestry—as currently practised by the Menominee tribe, can still save agriculture and world food crises.

Another Diana, Princess of Wales—in iconic dress—stunning a nation then & now 20 years ago today since she died

1. FORESTS
Sustainable forestry—as Berry suggests—currently seems a contradiction in terms. Lumber companies like Green Diamond who own 393,105 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest in Northern California view small local donations as a way of avoiding huge public outcry in their continuing unsustainable forestry practices in Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties. They have been donating ‘donor rock’ monuments, courtesy benches, in Saunders’ community park within their tree-felling domain—Trinidad, CA—a small town park overlooked by a fifteen-acre scar on the hill behind, where Strawberry Rock forest has been hacked into hatchet-shape profile by past, poorly conceived clear-felling operations. Local opinion strongly encourages them and their subsidiary logging companies—including California Redwood Co.—to give back to the community—without strings—the Strawberry Rock ‘trail’ which was a logging road through their near-400,000 acres of Northern Humboldt forest. Local Yurok and Tsurai tribal communities who formerly occupied some of the parcels, urge them to GIVE BACK THE LAND.

2. FISH
Klamath River Festival of 2017 imported/purchased salmon from Alaska, after removing it from the menu altogether last year. Concern over hatchlings is supreme with many of local tribespeople actively introducing protective measures.

Hatcheries on nearly all western rivers are in crisis: either banned (legislation) or unmanned (poor management)—a zero percent return at Oroville has stunned the Central Valley; Jefferson county/Del Norte tribes are now actively managing their own fish.

Mendocino water towers from frontier times could return to former use

3. WATER
Not just California’s Central Valley—whose water supply is still funneled south to the Greater Los Angeles basin—but, in common with many less affluent countries in the world, water is becoming more precious than food.

The world is getting thirsty.

Waste water in many cities is still flushed down the drain instead of being collected as rain and storm water in reservoirs—as was the norm until late 1960s—see Mendocino town water towers, still standing though not in use, right.

Time to conserve ‘Waste’ WATER, not flush it into an already-polluted ocean.
Even the smallest reservoir could prove invaluable in ever-present occurrence of forest fire.

4. POPULATION – 7 BILLION & counting
‘Sixties belief in having no children or only allowing oneself one child is now a past pipe-dream. While there are baby-boomers of the ‘Sixties who resolved not to add to the population, their group [and laudable ideal] are far outnumbered by mindless generations since who have no concept of self-control in the genetic department—not a popular subject. It is not p.c. to say no more babies, but we are sensing a call for Moderation/BALANCE in all things—including procreation.

Larsen-C Iceshelf finally broke off from Antarctic peninsula, July 2017—sea-level rise expected

5.CLIMATE
California government initiatives are already in place for the State to act on its own to steer a corrected course through a mire of climate and emissions’ blunders, to lead Washington in showing the way to conserve resources while reducing impact on climate change. Governor Brown’s administration is prepared to go it alone without federal intervention. California is also already ahead in preparedness for natural disasters, fire, earthquake, flood, tsunami warning system and the anticipated sea level rise —c.f. Larsen C shelf break-off 2017, left, during Antarctic ‘winter’. Meltwater is expected to affect the South Pacific in particular, but islands in north Pacific are already seeing the rise.

Remembering Diana, Princess of Wales
While this blog edition is a poor commemoration of that beautiful creature who was Diana, Princess of Wales, I like to think she would have supported all the above points of crisis affecting her/our beloved planet. From that perspective, I believe she is looking down today on us Insecure Writers and at what the world has become. She affected the lives of those who knew her. I believe her charismatic and generous approach may serve as an example to us all, as we face the autumn of 2017 in a changed and changing world.
©2017 Marian Youngblood
p.s. Forgive me Alex and IWSGers for my five-month absence and ‘early’ return 😉

August 30, 2017 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, earth changes, energy, environment, history, New Earth, ocean, publishing, seasonal, traditions, trees, weather, 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