INSECURE WRITERS’ SUPPORT GROUP CORNER
Thanks to our (non-mutant) Ninja Capn. Alex, I make a seasonal appearance as last rays of summer flash, to say hi to my fellow IWSGers, but also to share the pathos of impending equinoctial changes: seasonal, earth-related, celestial and beyond—
Ancient Lughnasadh Festival of Light
I try to celebrate the end of summer, lasting—as all Druid-lore-lovers know—from mid-July to September equinox, plumbing sacred depths of fire festival season centered on:
Lammas Day, August 1st, the Glorious Twelfth.*
Yet I feel pathos and sadness engulfing a season’s end, a dying earth. Our Mother Earth, especially, has suffered much this year.*I am not sentimental about the killing of grouse; I never liked the practice, however fashionable and smoothly operated it’s supposed to be. I shall not change my view; but my attitude to what goes on in the ‘Old Country‘, now that I’m an ex-pat, has softened.
I know this doesn’t sound remotely like a writing moan—as our monthly corner is supposed to be—but there is a connection:
Ancient Lammas, Lughnasadh primal fire festival of the god Lugh, [‘Light’] is known across the indigenous cultural spectrum as First Harvest, Harvest Home, a time to STOP, give thanks and celebrate with offerings—bread from our table. Rejoicing in Mother Earth’s bounty, we share and celebrate her fruitfulness with good food and friends. Traditionally, harvest tables were decked with red, gold, orange, yellow, bronze, citrine, gray, and green: colors now associated with wild dress-couture-masquerade extravaganzas—particularly in U.S.
Corn dollies have been replaced by macho/Ninja? [!!] sickles, scythes, iMax giant scimitars, over fresh veggies & fruits, bread, and sun-wheels. But drumbeat rhythm focuses joy, seeps between the volcanic cracks into the Earth, honoring her cross-cultural daughters of Lugh: Freya, Demeter, Ceres, Pandora et al.—goddesses of fruitfulness,carers of the Earth thru her seasons. In this sense she (Earth Mother) and Hathor are one and the same: primeval Eve, Brittonic Bride, Norse Auohumla, great cow-giant goddess, and ancestor of the Norse gods. She is also Gaia, Sumerian Antu: who became Ishtar, goddess of love and procreation.Summerend, in all cultures—ancient Lammas, now-generation Virtual.world and future Turtle Island—with deference to our Sci-Fi Cap’n’s focus—is always a good time for a celebration.
Now is time to enjoy drinking, eating fresh food, indulging our hedonist within— dancing, expressing joy, getting back to our roots—being oneself.
For a light-deprived northerner, I am grateful for long days of warmth, time in the garden, maybe occasionally, I think about writing…lol. But I digress.
The Caravanserai Headed East
In current Western culture, Burning Man takes precedence. Trailers are rented at great expense, shared rides go East thru the Nevada desert, to pitch camp in an awesome congregation of festival-goers—almost medieval in ethos—with singing, dancing, beating and celebrating the earth, the sun, and being alive— through music, masque, dance and new connections, made over five days.
But, because Forties Field oil pipeline runs under the tarmac, Scots (financial and) Government agencies started yelling ‘health&safety’, so 2014 was its swan song. T-in-the-Park 2015 will migrate to the former boarding school of Strathallan, twenty miles West in Perthshire.There follows the majestic three-day wonder of Reading-Leeds Music Festival, at the height of Lammas: August 21-24, 2014. It would seem the Brits are following the U.S. lead in widening the window of music sent heavenward in sheer joy of numbers.
Americans wowed by Nevada desert’s five-day Burning Man festival have yet to experience the booze-quotient of a Brit music venue: comparisons of liters/pints of beer drunk at Glastonbury vs. Leeds/Reading shock American/Canadian drinkers who, by law, have to put tankard to lip behind closed doors. Ah, the contrast.
As Britain closes for the summer, the American continent opens. Festivals ripple like musical arpeggios across barren, dry (over-watered) southern states, Austin, Dallas, Nashville. As the earth gets hotter—most of continental U.S. is in grill-bbq grip of unrelenting heat, forest fires, drought.
Here is not the place to bring up city water demands from rural salmon spawning hinterland—Eel, Van Duzen, Klamath, Trinity and Navarro— but we all know Earth is shrieking for us to slow down, take a look at what we are doing to our Pale Blue Dot, called home, and stop.
One could liken it to an Apocalypse scenario. But our Ninja Cap’n knowzzzz all about that.
Thank you Alex, always for providing a corner for a moan, a shared frisson and love for Sci-Fi, and a window on tomorrow’s world—and for letting me in under the wire—late. 🙂
September 3, 2014 Posted by siderealview | ancient rites, astronomy, belief, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, culture, festivals | Alex J Cavanaugh, beer, Bill Bailey, Black Rock, Burning Man, Caravanserai, desert, equinox, Gaia, Glorious Twelfth, grouse, IWSG, Kinross, lammas, Leeds-Reading musicfest, light, masquerade, Mother Earth, music festival, mutant, Nevada, Ninja turtles, ocean, Ophiuchus, sci-fi, T-in-the-Park, Turtle Island | Leave a comment
MONTHLY 1st WEDNESDAYS InsecureWritersSupportGroup CORNER
A baby cried, a world began.
“Heart action dropping!”
‘Here, Boss. Grab on. There, we got you.’
‘Is it a boy or a girl?’
‘Who cares, Johann—it’s a baby—one for all and all for one!’
An old world vanished and then there was none.
Robert Heinlein, I Will Fear No Evil, ©1970
Our revered leader, Alex Cavanaugh, would be proud of us minions in the writerly field— mini-minions, even, when it comes to major Sci-fi like current faves, Her, and Gravity—for even attempting to put together occasional works of fiction of the far-out genre. My own passion is cyber-warp-time-differential stuff, with a dishy captain at the helm, of course!
So it will come as only a mild surprise to him that this month I cannot—rather will not—raise my head above the parapet—of other #Iamwriting labors—to complain.
The weather outside is too wonderful, the view of the ocean—when I have the sense to raise my sights and gaze—to die for; and life in general is giving me abundance.Will my Wunderkinder colleagues therefore forgive me for not moaning this time around?
It’s June, after all. Let’s relax and enjoy life a little.
If I have to squeeze in a tweak of intellect in an otherwise cerebrally-challenged month, I might suggest that both Her, the cyber-cross-human sex movie with dishy Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson as the cyborg; and blockbuster Sci-fi future classic Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, are gorgeous to look at, but Her is technically based on several previous scripts: Robert Heinlein’s, top; with the lovely Samantha created from the ancient Greek-Sanskrit myth-legend of Persas, that imported Persian harlot vampire who emerged from the ocean and devoured her lovers.
But who’s doing heavy research when the scenes are so vivid and sensually surreal? 🙂
When our hero—and Alex’s—Robert Heinlein—use the vampire lady in his seminal—and imho under-read classic, top, I Will Fear NO Evil, his words are more relevant today than 40 years ago.
So, all that leaves me is to say thank you to our planetary host, and our mentors-in-spirit—Wells, Heinlein and Bradbury, RIP—and, of course, the legendary PERSAS for her guest appearance. And may we all continue to have mythological creatures from the deep to inspire our writing.
©2014 Marian Youngblood
June 4, 2014 Posted by siderealview | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, fantasy, fiction, Muse, novel, publishing, writing | Alex J Cavanaugh, creature, deep, George Clooney, Heinlein, HG Wells, IWSG, Joaquin Phoenix, myth, mythological, ocean, Persas, Ray Bradbury, Samantha, Sandra Bullock, Scarlett Johansson, vampire | 4 Comments
POWER OF A Piscean Stellium
Monthly IWSG Corner
Many times during a new transition, a house move, rearrangement of one’s life, writing has to go on the back burner. Much though we would like to keep up the pace, our stamina—our ability to get through it—flags and we feel the need to let it all go.
Stellium in Pisces
With the present swing in public fancy to the ‘Astroview’, it will astonish nobody to learn that we are currently midway through a major stellium in Pisces. For the uninitiated, this is astrospeak for turmoil of the heart/emotional mayhem throughout the run-up to the new moon [in Pisces] March 10-11th, 2013.
On those nights, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Chiron, Venus, Mars, Neptune are held in a crucible within the bosom of Pisces—the most emotional, watery, spiritual sign of the zodiac. These bodies already stand in close conjunction, waiting for the Moon.
Following in the wake of the recurring potent three-year-long stress of a Grand Cross, it isn’t surprising that we now feel like a wet dish rag.
Psychic Piscean ‘Go with the Flow’
Life-affirming Piscean tendencies include:
Compassion, forgiveness and healing without sacrificing your self-esteem
Using the energy of the dream/fantasy to create something that touches people
Faith in what’s healthy for you
Letting go of what drags you down
Seeing what lies beyond the mundane world
Allowing things to happen
Less-than constructive qualities include:
Compassion, forgiveness and healing that drains you
Using the energy of the dream/fantasy to become addicted to someone
Faith in anything/everything, whether it’s healthy or not
Letting go of all boundaries
Denying the mundane world
Passively waiting for things to happen
For those who like specifics,
Neptune entered its watery home sign two years ago and will remain in Pisces through 2024;
Mars moved into Pisces: February 1st
Mercury into Pisces: February 5th
Sun into Pisces: February 18th
Venus into Pisces: February 25th
Moon stood in Virgo (full) on February 28th and
will move (new moon) into Pisces March 11th.
The immediate window extends through March 21st, equinox. So, brace yourself!
Being guided by one’s heart and following one’s intuition seems the only way. Or, to translate that in psychiatric concepts: allowing the left hemisphere to dominate—right handedness—will only lead to grief. By allowing our right hemisphere to guide us—left handed creativity—we may pull through this massive—planet-wide—emotional storm.
Sometimes, during Insecure Writers’ Support Week, we get to throw out a little nugget of a favorite subject—astro being one of mine—and our tolerant Ninja Cap’n Alex allows us the liberty of rabbiting on about matters unrelated to the honored art of writing. Such is this post; but since it DOES have a ‘space’ theme, and gives us a little insight into what we’re currently experiencing, never before having been exposed to such a degree of cosmic force, may I wish us all Godspeed and stamina to sail these choppy waters in uncertain times.
To end on a (positive) romantic note, when in trouble, dream…
… and a poem-let of inspiration by my nine-year old muse, inspired by [Neptune and] her ocean vista, top.
The Ocean by Oriah
The Ocean’s waves gracefully in the sunset
Where the seagulls fly
Pink clouds gently float away while the Moon rises
Then the Ocean comes back
No doubt our SpaceCaptain feels mucho at home in the rarified reaches of planetary atmospheres—Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all familiar territory; so maybe wishing ourselves well through this emotional roller-coaster is the best support we can give each other. May all our blogs be guided by superlative cosmic forces… sounds like a phrase from his forthcoming CassaStorm.
Thanks again for being there, fellow IWSGers and Alex.
©2013 Marian Youngblood
March 6, 2013 Posted by siderealview | astrology, authors, blogging, poetry, publishing, writing | Alex J Cavanaugh, astrology, crucible, fog, Grand Cross, IWSG, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, moon, Moon in Pisces, Neptune, ocean, Oriah, Pisces, Saturn, seagull, stellium, sunset, Venus, waves | 4 Comments
Entry ‘hook’ for Show Me The Voice
In a word: here is my (updated, pared-down to 250 words) entry to the Voice Blogfest Contest. Many thank-yous to friends–known, loved and unknown bloggers– who critiqued in the very short time we all had to prepare for this adventure. In writing lingo: this is the Chapter One ‘hook’ with which we writers and authors attempt to snare you, dear Reader.
Name: Marian Youngblood
Title: Green Turtle Cay
Genre: Adult Fiction: Fantasy-Magical Realism
“Next stop Marsh ‘Arbor, Habaco.” The ferry captain’s solid Bahamian voice echoed through the launch. It took Annabelle right back to her teens. With their Miami traffic, what a miracle the Islands still sounded Colonial.
Bimini via Green Turtle Cay, her ticket said. Closest to Florida, Bimini was considered American—until you got there. So retro. Two stops and she’d be there. Her spirit rose as they headed out from Abaco.
Thirty years of mainland living hadn’t dulled her love of the ocean. Its sheer blue clarity curling around white atolls–amazing fish swarms–she felt comfortable in its watery embrace.
Green Turtle Trench guarded one of Earth’s stable populations of dolphin and basking shark. And shark city was where she was headed—if only for one night. She studied the approaching shore, knowing Tom planned to bring her back in his own boat. Nice of him. The old guy had asked his niece-–his nearest relative-–to check out an offer from a consortium to run a shark center here. Sounded like fun. Paradise for him—a shark man from way back. Green Turtle looked as placid as ever–not a sign of this new project he described. Maybe she’d adapted to change.
Back then, you visited the Islands if you owned an airplane, or a friend’s private yacht transported you magically from Nassau. Nowadays major airlines flew to the doorstep.
When she’d stepped off the plane—when the wall of heat hit her—she felt that childhood pull again, couldn’t wait to get out on the water.
©2011 Marian Youngblood
March 22, 2011 Posted by siderealview | authors, culture, fiction, novel, writing | Abaco, Bahamas, Bimini, blogging, Bradford Lit Agency, cetacean, colonial, contest, dolphin, fantasy, Green Turtle Cay, magical realism, Nassau, Natalie Fischer, ocean, shark, Voice | 7 Comments
In practice, it works out rather differently. Family, friends, eating, drinking, sustenance, nourishment and a few other of life’s ‘essentials’ go by the board. Friends have been known to fall out over NaNo. Families to starve. Or eat out. Only cats and keyboards remain constant companions. Anybody else with any sense has already taken charge of the situation and is ignoring the solitary writer/novelist-to-be.Because at the end of 30 days, that’s what has developed. If not a fully-fledged, plot-intensive, character-filled bestseller which will wow the editors, agents and publishers for years to come, at least the bones of something like it.
With five days to go, I should be pulling in the strands which draw my novel to a close, but instead I am procrastinating — because that’s one of the virtues of NanoWriMo. Chris Baty in the San Francisco Office of Letters and Light says it’s all part of the learning curve. So why aren’t you doing it, too?
EVANGELINE AND TEACH
Evangeline was her English Island name.
Back home in French Guinea she had had another name. She was forbidden by her own sacred tradition to speak it in this life, to reveal who she had been in that former time.
Daughter of the tribal chief, she had their trust, she would one day have ruled when Father was too old to lead. And she wondered if that day had come when Father welcomed the strangers to their shore, gave them food and wine, made them honored guests at his table and provided concubines for a night’s rest in their guest villa overlooking the shore.
Out in the Bay, these French mariners described such a ship. A barque made out of full-grown oak trees that they had in their homeland, not like the sappy fig they grew in Guinea. So large they said, one tree could create four walls of the villa alone and leave wood to spare for roofing. And Father was taken in. He saw something out in the Bay — two vessels, she learned later— that were so foreign to his vision, his mind would not allow him to see such alien craft. So he believed totally what the strangers said and believed them when they said they were bedecked with color streamers, paper lanterns. and that they had only come ashore to replenish their provisions of milk and honey and butter and ale. They even said, if the village were willing to trade with them for such a meager request, they would show them international trawling techniques, practise a little fishing in their offshore fishing grounds. Their barrels had run low, they needed to stock up before heading back into the fray. They would be on their way on the morrow, back on the high seas in pursuit of the foreign English who were attacking their borders.
And Father had believed every word. Father had offered them the prize guest seats next to him at the High Table for the feast which all villagers shared to celebrate such an unusual arrival in their rich fishing grounds. Father had given them the sleeping tent reserved only for honored guests, a canvas awning which few others deserved to use. And two concubines each for the foreign sea captain and his officers. The captain said the rest of his men would remain on board. It sounded reasonable. None of the villagers had any reason to suspect. Father usually did the best for the tribe and trade was always beneficial for everyone.
It would be a long night for Father, so Evangeline went to her own quarters earlier than usual, as she saw her presence was not needed, save to be introduced formally to the French captain. He looked and sounded polite. She had no suspicions on that score. Besides, back then, she had no knowledge of what was going on on the high seas except that two European nations were at war and that didn’t usually affect the dominions of the African continent. Their sea traffic came from neighboring tribes. The farthest travelers came was from shores of the southern desert.
So it was from a deep sleep and a vivid dream that she was awakened in the middle of the night — she remembered the moon had just reached its horizon point and was about to set — so a couple of hours before dawn light would flood the land and wake the tribe. In tribal medicine, it was known as an inauspicious time.It had been by stealth they came upon her, her family, her brother and of course Father, the Chief. They tied them together with their hands behind their backs and herded them like cattle down to the jetty where their simple outriggers were the only craft to be seen. Then a huge row boat, wider and longer and more massive than any she had ever seen, rounded the end of the pier and nudged in to shore, where the small harbor afforded shelter. Twenty-one of them were poked and pushed and hustled on board, made to sit in groups on heavy trusses that served for seats in the hull as the vessel was rowed silently out of the harbor. None of the tribal elders heard a sound. Her mother, nursing her youngest, only two seasons old, and with her younger sister in the same bed, had not awakened. Had she known she would never see them again, that vision would have given her pain. As it was, much worse had since happened, so remembering her parental home as it was before the disruption sometimes gave her a moment of joy in her grief.
They were taken as slaves. The European gentlemen with their northern manners and their white faces and blond beards and fancy uniforms were nothing more than thieves. She was rowed out into the bay with twenty other young people and Father. None of them knew why. Then, as they neared the enormous vessel, Father stood up to look.
Then and there they slit his throat and threw him to the waves. At the moment he stood up to look into the decks of a ship he had never seen in his entire existence before, not in reality and not in picture books left by other traders — as he rose to help his people out of the low craft and into this mystery ship — they took his life.
He’d been tethered like the rest, but their purpose was finally revealed. He had merely been taken from the village to ensure silence and cooperation. Out here in the bay, as they saw the vessel prepare for a long voyage into equatorial winds and currents, he was an old man, a nuisance, a hindrance.
Her mind reran the event a thousand times. She watched him rise from an unaccustomed positon in the bottom of the boat and stand proud as they neared the tall galleon. His chiefly stance was brave. He still believed he could rescue the situation. That’s what she meant about Father having outlived his time. His belief in the good of Man had been betrayed. It was perhaps the Great Spirit’s way of showing him his time on earth was over. Without a word, without salutation, greeting, or any show of respect, one of the crew stepped forward from his position at the oars. He had a cutlass in his hand. He didn’t even pretend to hide it. Even before he reached Father, Evangeline knew what was going to happen.She called out ‘Father’, but her voice was unheard. He still believed he was about to be raised with ceremony into this magnificent ship with rigging above reaching to the night skies, and ropes thrown below to raise them up. He believed he was going on board. That’s how he was deceived. The crewman took him from behind, held his chained arm in his left hand and slit his throat with the cutlass in his right. There was no sound. Father collapsed in the bow of the boat and the other young occupants knew there was now no hope for them.
They were taken then, one by one, shuffling past the silent body of the man who had been their Chief, up a shaking gangway over the side and on to the main deck of the Guineaman. Evangeline had a momentary impression of the French ship’s enormous size — it rose even more powerfully up towards the prow where wheelhouse, rigging and full sail added to its grandeur. This was indeed a trader for a long voyage. The rumors had truth. There were far off lands where young people and children were spirited away never to return to their homes or their culture or their families. Always fated to watch the sun rise on another continent, over a different sea or, for some, never to see the sea ever again.
Now, years later she knew this to be a familiar story. She’d heard of others taken like her friends, her cousins and brother from the sea, overland to foreign places where the earth was dry and crops starved from lack of water. They were made to work, to harvest food not for themselves, but for another man. The man who controlled them operated what was called a plantation, where many had been taken to live in vile quarters with none of the gentle trappings of noble life in a village a million miles away on the other side of the world.
Another life, another time, another earth, another past. A dream ago — when she was young.
Years on, in another future, Evangeline learned that her fate had been blessed compared with the stories she heard of those slaves who were sold to plantation owners in South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.Back then, twelve days out, twenty miles off the South Carolina coast, Evangeline’s ropes were untied. Captain’s orders. They were to come forward from where she and four friends were held in the mate’s cabin up to the foredeck where Cap’n stood at the prow: to negotiate, he said.
The hand that untied them and pushed them gently up the companionway to where the Captain stood under the forward mainsail, was the same young hand who had stolen meat to feed her when rations ran out after their first week aboard. They were made to stand beside the ship’s bell: La Concorde, she read on its heavy bronze lip. He whispered as he pointed to where the captain and navigator scanned the horizon with a hand telescope.
‘There is another ship. The captain thinks they mean to board us. You will have to stand forward on display, in case they mean us harm.’
‘What d’you mean?’ Evangeline would remember his answer to her dying day.
‘Captain says it is Teach. The pirate. You will be taken prisoner and we shall go free.‘
Of course the hand had not been correct. There was something about La Concorde that pleased Edward Teach. He needed a new flagship, or he was tired of his old brigantine. Or he had a new girlfriend who wanted a ship. It could have been any one of those reasons. Teach was indeed a brigand and a thief, plundered the rich to feather his own operation. But in the Islands he was known for picking on slave ships because in releasing them, in some way he felt he paid his debt to society for robbing those powerful Europeans who’d banished him from serving as a genuine officer in the British Navy. Queen Anne would suffer for ignoring him. He had become a presence to be reckoned with. He would soon have a fleet of ships which would rule the seas between Bermuda, the Bahamas and the South Carolina coast.
Evangeline stood tall. She felt no fear. She’d heard of the pirate and thought life as a free woman in the islands might not be as wonderful as life had been back home — long ago when Father was alive — but preferable to that working long hours in the dust for an alien white lord. At least they said in the Islands you could work your own property, find a new love, build a new life in a wooden shack and, if the fates favored her, she might even meet the great man Teach himself.She too had heard the rumors. How he burned firecrackers in his beard and hair to terrorize the crews of the ships he boarded and plundered. But those were merchant ships, carrying gold and jewels and with possessions in the hold belonging to the rich, bound for a new life in Carolina, Virginia and even farther north on that great continent. That’s where the British were fighting for their colonies in America. It was a land for the white man. The black man must find his own future elsewhere. Some day they, too, would have their own empire and way of life — remember the beauty of the old country, the old life and old traditions.
For now she would remain calm. She would allow her fate to unfold before her. If this was indeed Blackbeard’s ship, she would go along with her fate and ask him for mercy.
Looking back on that night in the balmy waters off the Carolina shore, she had no way of knowing how her life would end up in the Bahama Islands, how gentle would be her fate. How kind would be the pirate captain, and how fortunate her life was to turn out.
Evangeline sighed and added another row of stitching to her sampler. She raised a glass of pomegranate juice and stretched her eyes to the horizon. Even Blackbeard was gone now. But those had been the days. She smiled, picked up her fan and cooled her aging brow.
©2010 Marian Youngblood
November 25, 2010 Posted by siderealview | authors, fiction, history, novel, writing | Africa, America, Bahamas, barque, beard, Blackbeard, brigantine, Carolinas, cutlass, Edward Teach, equatorial, Evangeline, firecrackers, French Guinea, frigate, galleon, Green Turtle Cay, Guineaman, high seas, La Concorde, mainsail, man-of-war, NaNoWriMo, ocean, pirate, plantation, Queen Anne, ship, ship's bell, slave-ship, slaves, sloop, Virginia | 3 Comments
Lots of writers use a nom de plume to distinguish between their personae – it’s the way publishing works. Blogs, too. What choice, what abundance: we can be guided by all our Muses and still retain our integrity (who doubts it?)if we are prone to take one persona more seriously than another. For this blog I become this particular blogger because the material is time-sensitive; the research is all coming together now and our way forward is mapped. That said, it’s up to us whether we take the information and run with it.
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