Youngblood Blog

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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

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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

Pick a Card, Any Card: Guestblog by Rob M. Miller

GUESTBLOG FEATURE

Sideshow: an Anthology of Freakish Horror—latest call for submissions from Netbound Publishing, guest-editor Rob M.Miller, artwork by Melissa Stevens

My Guestblogger this month is Rob M. Miller, a multi-talented author, editor, and self-confessed story addict, as well as contributor to numerous anthologies, including the recent, much-acclaimed compilation of wolfen horror, I Believe in Werewolves. He is equally content (he says malcontent, as he becomes so caught up in his characters’ lives) writing, reading and re-reading new manuscripts alongside ‘classic’ genre traditions of suspense/thriller, macabre, mystery, dark fantasy, supernatural and sci-fi; he says his own characters are inspired as much by his mammoth reading exploits, as by the Muse(s) who inhabit the wild Pacific Northwest. He is currently guest-editor for Netbound Publishing who are calling for submissions until October 31st for their Sideshow: an Anthology of Freakish Horror, which he will co-edit. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Pick a Card, Any Card
The title of this piece is pretty familiar. If we haven’t actually heard it in the course of being part of a card trick, we’ve seen the scenario play out on film, or as part of a live audience.

Guestblogger Rob M. Miller shows his cards, shares his mentors—©Wildcard Comics, 1990 (US), Cover art by Jackson Guice,
Color by Alfred Ramirez

Makes a person wonder—makes me wonder—if card trick aficionados get bored watching such staple sleight of hand. And what of magicians? Do they yawn at the sight of a beautiful woman getting cut in half, or when the famous rabbit comes out of a top hat?

I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

In 2009, I remember watching Judd Apatow’s comedically-disguised drama “Funny People,” starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Aubrey Plaza, and an army of others, and just being in stitches with the hilarious dialogue. Then it hit. The characters, when not performing on stage, weren’t laughing. These comedians, most of whom are comedians in real life, were NOT laughing. Instead, they might simply say: “Yeah, that was funny.”

Is that true to life?

With many endeavors, I think it just might be. How does one keep the magic magical? And not just to the general audience, either. How does a practitioner, an artist, keep that magic real, and real to his fellow magicians?

I can’t give an answer.

But it must be difficult, at best. After all, once you’ve peeked behind the curtain and really seen what’s going on, once the gears are spotted and the machine is understood, how can you honestly say the magic’s still there?

And yet, with reading, it is!

For more than twelve years, I’ve been practicing the craft of laying down words, of transporting readers to other worlds, into other people’s shoes, other sexes, times, circumstances, and moral bents. For many years, I’ve also been editing: genre-fiction, and non-fiction. I’ve learned many of the tricks; have certainly learned the jargon. Reading a work, I can recognize foreshadowing, can tell when I’m being manipulated to hate or love a character, or in some way identify with them. There’s quick recognition, too, when a book has two lines of suspense, or three, five, eight, or even more (yeah, thank you, Mr. George R.R. Martin). These lines are put down to manage characters, yes, but they’re also there to keep me turning the page.

With mysteries, it’s a quick spot that I’m being grounded in time and place, and if not quite yet with character, then certainly with event. Something bad has happened; usually there’s a body; and now, despite red herrings and/or MacGuffins, a person or a team has to find the culprit(s).

With thrillers, of course, it’s almost a reversal. Bad things are going to happen, and some stalwart champion, jaded anti-hero, or assembled squad must stop the bad folks from pulling it off.

There are tropes and cliché-ish plots—is there a plot that isn’t cliché?—whole lines of dialogue, or plot-turns that I can just call, with both books and film, and more often than not, be right (and, man-oh-man, how family members get irritated with that). I’m a veritable spoiler machine.

I think most long-term story addicts usually are. And certainly writers. It’s almost a given. Perhaps it is a given.

But, thank God, boredom isn’t. Or disdain. Or vitriol. Yes, it happens. We experience these things, and we read about them, and have been rejected because of them. Whether it’s someone’s Twilight novels getting hammered by the real vampire-lovers, or all the writers who’ve been putting out erotica for years, aghast at the thought that there are apparently millions who mistakenly think E. L. James invented the form.

Quite the contrary. The best of us writers, including the many who’ve written tomes of how-tos, or who have taught the craft of storytelling, from Stephen King with his Danse Macabre and On Writing, or David Morrell’s Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft, the many works put out by Writer’s Digest Books, to the countless articles and essays put out by the mags: Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Poets & Writers, and more, have blown away the curtains, have reverse-engineered the machinery, laid out the schematics, spilled their guts (and those of others) on dialogue, characterization, description, the telling detail, the truth of weak words and power words, the hazards of adverbs, of too much of this, or too little of the other thing. Of a truth, every bit of nose-to-the-stone and shoulder-to-the-wheel has been committed to demystifying the writing and storytelling process.

And yet, all the books and seminars, workshops and boot camps, conventions and panels, all the teachers and texts and syllabi, to-do and must-never-do lists… despite all their individual and collective wondrous help, they have all—
—FAILED.

How?

Because the process is still mystical—still MAGICAL.

BOOYAH!

And why?

Because the magic’s real. It must be. What other explanation is there?

As unique as I am–and I am unique–I’m still only as unique as everyone else. And the magic still works on me.

Recently, after reading the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin (yes, I’m mentioning him again), I shot to Facebook, and messaged the sadist who wrote A Storm of Swords:

The Red Wedding … thanks, Mr. Martin. I don’t know whether to pen a piece of hate mail or send the most fawning of fan letters. But of a truth, there’s no crueler set of gods, old or new, than that of authors.

I stand by the line. The novel hurt me. Beautifully written, yes—hadn’t expected anything less—but I lost some friends. And reading on in the series, I’m sure to lose more—and I got mad. Hell, I’m still upset.

Gary Braunbeck, a master writer who also teaches the craft, brought me to tears with his work Mr. Hands, a rare occurrence when I read spooky books.

Tom Piccirilli, with FICTION, gave me genuine willies with his work The Dead Letters.

Every so many years, I re-read Stephen R. Donaldson’s series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and every time, I get mad NOT at the author (who’s really the one responsible), but at the character of Thomas Covenant, and all his doubting.

Annually, I read Morrell’s The Brotherhood of the Rose, and feel sorrow at the loss of Chris, with every reading, hoping in the back of my mind that perhaps this time, the man might be saved.

Post-apocalyptic horror fantasy, The Stand, (uncut hardcover, Doubleday 1990, 1152pp): King said exploding a bomb that killed half the cast was a device which saved the story

Five times so far, I’ve howled when nearly half my beloved characters are exploded away in King’s The Stand.

And let’s not even explore how I’m manipulated as a Bible-loving Christian. Thankfully, I’m un-churched, and don’t have to discuss why I cheer Dexter on, or think Hannibal the Cannibal is kinda cool … ’cause he only eats a-holes. Don’t have to worry about why I wouldn’t mind—if I had a cute puppy in hand—meeting Rex Miller’s Daniel Edward Flowers Bunkowski.

Humans, with their incredible science, can dissect a seed, identify all its parts, look upon it at the microscopic level, yet it cannot be put back together, planted, and be expected to produce anything living.

But with books, it happens. If not always, then often enough.

Stories live. Despite annotations and laborious page, scene and chapter breakdowns, they still manage to transport a reader. Even through multiple visits. And even with those who are in the know with the alchemy involved.

And they’re not always written by the greats, the successful, the famous. Sometimes the A-listers hit a foul or otherwise strike out. On websites like Short ’n Scary Stories, I’ve read incredible pieces by otherwise unpublished writers, even first-time writers. I’ve been moved by poetry in live crit-groups by people too scared to submit for general publication.

With all the rules, and more rules, and then even more, at best there’s only a general roadmap to pulling off the magic—and that’s being optimistic. There has to be a bit of knowledge, to be sure. But ultimately, this knowledge gets refined through a lot of failure, a lot of practice, and even then, for lack of a better word, there’s some extra-special something that’s present as well, some gift of Hermes that I can’t really define.

Proof?

No trickery, sleight of hand; just indefinable magic

Some pull it off with their first attempt, whether their fellow writers like it or not: first-time breakout authors with work blazing across the reading landscape, making the rest of us who have been toiling for years grind our teeth. It’s not fair, yet it is, the mixing of admiration, jealously, frustration, and anticipation… because now I’ve got to read the work, too. I have to see how the elements were so successfully mixed, if not with the writing, then with the story.

With all I know, with all the secrets I’ve been exposed to: tricks, devices, paradigms, and sleight-of-hand, I can’t imagine ever becoming jaded. Oh, no. Instead, when it comes my turn to read, I’ll always remain a child, waiting for that rabbit to get pulled, my card to get picked. Even when I know the secret behind the act, for some still-mystical reason, I never get bored.

With comedians and magicians… with what they know, maybe they do.

Not with writers. Not when the work’s done well.

Because we love the magic.

We’re readers first and always.

And when we get together, you can tell. We’re always saying to one another: “Yeah, right, but have you read…?”
©2012 Rob M. Miller

Rob M. Miller, writer and editor, staunch supporter of his own inner child, lives in the Pacific Northwest, where he continues to enjoy reading and writing. His work can be found in various anthologies. Visit his site at http://www.jaggeddarkness.com. And while you’re there, be sure to sign his guest book, the Robonomicon. Thank you, Rob.
Marian Youngblood
August 2012

August 26, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Land That Time Forgot

Dreams of the Magus takes you on your own personal quest

One of the exquisite delights of blogging is meeting and having open communication with like minds which the internet and personal ‘pages’ afford. Pete Madstone, author of the revealing personal guidebook to opening doors within – ‘Dreams of the Magus’ – says he was guided to write his Great Work after a lifetime walk through most of the world’s religions. His fascination with global spiritual and magical tradition allowed him to emerge as his own spiritual guide and his focus on non-attachment has kept him on the path – which he tries to walk with simplicity. He and his French wife Cathy are currently building their own home in the countryside of southern France.

Pete and I not only share the addiction of writing and love of the printed word, but we both submitted our books in the James Twyman competition (ongoing) to find the ‘next top spiritual author’. It appeared to us separately and together that the contest had to walk a fine line between maintaining energy levels required to bring a thousand authors into the fold – via a series of ’rounds’ – and the competitive nature of eliminating 99 percent of them. We have both completed round one (voting round), but as of today await confirmation whether or not our books have made it over the first hurdle: enough votes!

I want to thank those kind readers – both Pete’s and mine – who voted for us. Watch this space.

Meantime I invited Madstone to contribute here as a guest author in my occasional series – the Youngblood Guest Blog – and I think you will be as delighted as I am by what you read.

The Land That Time Forgot
‘These caverns are paradise to those who secretly dwell in them’ G. Peter Madstone

Today, I find myself living in the southwest of France in a place I could have never dreamed of. It abounds with life — birds, animals, insects and woodlands. There are more trees than people, and many of the inhabitants of these savage lands live just outside the arena of the physical world that we are so familiar with. In spite of the typical challenges that come with life itself, wherever any of us might live, I would have to say this place is simply “exotic.”

So, let’s begin with Webster’s definition of the word exotic

exotic
1: introduced from another country: not native to the place where found >exotic plants<
2: archaic : foreign, alien
3: strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual
4: of or relating to striptease

Let’s take this step by step –

definition 1. With this, it seems that I am the exotic one here, since I was “introduced” here from America — a member of a not-yet-extinct variety of humanity’s transitional sub-species, the evolutionary inclusionist.

definition 2. Foreign, yes — alien, likely. So this would be me, again. I am foreign and alien to this place (or at least its people), since I come from another with different ways — but from my perspective, this place is what is foreign and alien, so all things can, indeed, be seen in more than one way.

definition 3. Okay — now we’re talking, and not about the “famous” French cuisine (though the food certainly fits with this one, as well). Let me repeat this definition — strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual. If I apply this definition to this place, I would have to say that I couldn’t say it any better — it describes perfectly the environment that surrounds me. Because I cannot say things as simply as Mr. Webster, I will devote much more time and effort to describe this place that is far from south Santa Monica, the place where I cut my teeth on a surfboard. But first…

definition 4. This one is pretty much irrelevant, since the kind of place you might find exotic dancers would be in the nearest city – which for me would be a French city called Bordeaux and, like all French cities, this one is terribly intimidating. On the same note, I will mention that it is not unusual for the French female to tan her chest freely on our summer beaches, just as the males do – and so these beaches could certainly be considered “exotic” in this context, but I don’t live on the beach.

I would now discuss just what is strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual about this place, for this is what I really have to share with you.

It is not that what I will be discussing was never available to me in the variety of other places I have lived; it is just that never have these certain exotic flavors been so apparent to me — so evident, tangible or real. Maybe it is me who has changed, but I would have to surmise that it is my environment that has changed me — this exotic environment.

The Path to Never-Never Land

I live on a half-acre of land, 500 meters (3 “city” blocks) from a medieval village in, as I said, the southwest of France. The road to my house is unpaved and few cars pass by on their way to some scattered homes beyond my own. Splitting off this small road by the gate to my land is an entrance to an old path which is used by the occasional equestrian, hiker or nearby resident of the village on an evening stroll. A couple of winters ago, I was walking this path more than anyone, for I had made a discovery that was reliant upon one condition for this peculiarity, or phenomenon, to be witnessed most easily — I had to be present at a certain place accessed by this path at the time of the “crack between the worlds,” the quarter-hour just before and just after sunset.

So it was out my gate just about every evening, and down this path around 500 meters in the opposite direction from the village into a little tree-lined pasture. On the path were two old oak trees that became a vortex, or portal of sorts for me, for every time I walked past these two trees, everything became silent — there was a definite shift. Far away traffic, birds, insects, and the general buzz of life all stopped here. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was passing into a different time, and a different place — into a land that time forgot.

There, at the far end of this grassy field where three hedgerows join is a small copse closing in an otherwise invisible corner of the field. Directly at the entrance of this little secluded corner is an old water well — a well covered and overgrown by years of non-use and neglect. This is certainly a forgotten place.

The first few times I’d gone to this place, I would feel eyes upon me — many, many eyes from behind and in the trees and branches of overgrowth surrounding me — always blinking off and on, twinkling like bright little stars in a woods bereft of foliage. There was something here, and I certainly felt right at home. It didn’t take me long to begin doing sunset rituals of communion wand-less, and without any of the typical tools, talismans or regalia of the trade. There was certainly a bustle in these hedgerows, and well before the time of the May Queen.

My simple but raw ceremonies became a standard for me, weather permitting.

Upon arriving, I would stop to take in the energy and air of this ancient place, and center myself in the open space defined by the leafless trees. Then I began
walking my circles, and defining my pentagrams, hexagrams and sphere of influence/reality. Salutations would be done, followed by invocations of the cardinal’s overseers. Then, simply stillness and release. It wasn’t a few days before I began sitting at the mouth of the old well after performing my ritual. I wanted just to be with the land and its wild life, curious about the abundance of those shy and reluctant, but always blinking eyes. From the first time I sat at the opening of this well, I could sense the presence of our local Undines working in the watery realms directly below me — however, these were not the ones with the eyes in the woods.

These others, I found quickly, were of the earth realm: beings who never ventured into the light of day unless absolutely necessary (invoked), or simply overwhelmed with curiosity or craftiness — these were the Gnomes, working the same caverns below me that the Undines travelled. These caverns and tunnels are abundant in this region of France, with many of them open to the surface, and all of them are crystalline in some way.

All these caverns are paradise to those who secretly dwell in them.

It's not a hat I wear. It's just my head.

So it was at some point just after the winter solstice that I met this local group of Gnomes — builders they are, if you don’t already know this — and here I was getting ready to build a house. Every evening I was there, they would begin to crowd around me, these little Gnomes. Small they may be, but certainly strong and stout they are, for they are rock workers. Masons they are, Stonemasons, the prototypical Freemasons, and the earth they work is their temple.

So, I decided to ask for one of these earth-dwellers to help me with the building of my house, which had been at a standstill for 2 years. I specifically stated my requirements (I thought) that were as follows —

  • The house needed to be done in 1 year,
  • and I needed funds, materials, support from friends as yet unmade, with the actual physical work,
  • plus support from one of the Gnomes who was considered highly skilled at this work they did so well.
  • Of course, it slipped my mind that these beings were best at rock-work, and other than the rock foundation, the house was to be of wood frame/strawbale construction — but Gnomes are builders, and the best in the world, so why would this matter?

    One of the Gnomes did come for me, knowing it wouldn’t be a full-time job. He would only come around when I was actually working, and besides the other events he was to oversee, he still had his own personal time, and life. He was an A-BAR — this is the title of a Master Rocker, and his name was “Ephrana -yam.” He prefered to be called A-bar, or simply Eff.

    A year passed as agreed, and the rock foundation was done.

    So what of the house? Well, it was far from finished, but at least I did have a floor to build the house upon. Apparently, one year was not enough time for me to build a house, even when partnered with a specialist in rock-work. I still had wood frames to bring up, roofing to do, and everything else up to and past the kitchen sink.

    Of course, A-bar did exactly as he understood — it was I who was somehow vague or a little unfocused/misdirected in my desires. So for my little Gnome friend, a year is what it took to complete his part of the job — a year for the foundation.

    Of course, the funding too did arrive for the project within that time, from an unexpected place, and I could not have continued without that, anyway. So Eff did do his job, as requested, and did it to a Tee.

    So what of this exotic nature of the place that I call home (for now)?

    There is something about it that is so pure, untouched — unqualified even. In the history of man, very little has been done to corrupt, or even direct the energy here, and so it can be a little difficult to work with. It is very still and unmoving and it is used to being still — it is an uncertain energy. It is tentative, having had little experience with outside direction or foreign influence.

    But we can both learn — both me and this energy. Some have said the energy is flat here, but to me, its potential is remarkable, for it has been unused for millennia, maybe since the beginning of time.

    I still have to wonder, though – is this a place that time forgot, or just a place that man forgot?

    ©2010 G. Peter Madstone
    Pete Madstone is author of the spiritual handbook to uncovering one’s own consciousness and inner magic, ‘Dreams of the Magus: where Angels Fear to Tread’. In addition to regular ritual reconnection with his earth paradise, he is publisher at Madstone Mystery Labs.

    May 4, 2010 Posted by | ancient rites, authors, crystalline, elemental, energy, nature, ritual, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments