M-P, Mythology

Happy May Day

 

Focus stacked flowerHappy May Day

May 1st is a long-standing spring festival in the Northern Hemisphere, but is also celebrated as May Day, the International Worker’s Day in many countries around the world.

Historical May Day associated celebrations include, but are not limited to:

The Celtic Beltane http://www.sacredfire.net/festivals.html

Walpurgis Night http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1388545/Walpurgis-Night

The Roman festival of Flora http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/rome/a/ludiflorales.htm

Historically and in the “big picture” just a little time ago, May 1st was considered the 1st day of summer and summer solstice was considered Midsummer. Thus most May Day festivities wove their myth and celebrations around welcoming summer.

An old lost custom of May Day was the giving of small baskets (May baskets) filled with sweets and flowers and usually left anonymously on doorsteps. What a beautiful custom. I for one, would love to open my door to a basket full of flowers.

AzaleaBulgarians celebrate Irminden (too many alternative spellings to list). They perform rituals such as jumping over fires and making a lot of noise to scare snakes. Irminden is quite focused on protecting people from snakes and lizards.

Equally enchanting is the Romanian celebration of Arminden which includes washing one’s face with morning dew and decorating with birch saplings.

The U.S. State of Hawaii has adopted May Day as Lei Day to celebrate Native Hawaiian culture. There is a lot of myth and folklore there that will be mined in future posts.

Wishing all of you a great May Day and a figurative basket of flowers on your doorstep.

Apple Blossom

Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun.” – Kahlil Gibran

~lisa

Advertisements
Standard
Author, Bengal Cat Pictures, Hyperbole, M-P, Writing

My Hyperbole of Life

I wear one million and one hats. I have eight million books, six thousand notebooks, and about a billion chores.

Let me explain.

Hats

Hats = roles played in life.

So maybe one million and one is a little exaggeration, but I think we’ve all been there.

Think of all the titles you have, not just a work title, but also titles of see (insert your name here), they’re the expert, your role in your family older generation and younger generation. Most of us have a role as someone’s child, sometimes labels that also include parent, cousin, aunt, uncle and all of us are some relation five times removed from our mother or father.

We have our role with friends (and once again our titles of expertise within our group).

Some of us have roles as parents, or volunteers, or community leaders, environmentalists or hobbyists, sports positions or… as you can see the list goes on and on and on.

That’s what I call a hat. If you had a hat for each role and title your closets would be brimming over with headwear.

Notebooks = Organization

Every hat you have comes with its own needs and supplies. As a writer mine usually come with a physical notebook to keep track of lessons, vocabulary, characters, etc.

Basketball and baseball

If you play sports then your notebook is all the equipment required, the information about all the games and the contact info for everyone involved.School song book

If you play an instrument then your notebook is your instrument, your sheets of music, your rehearsal time, and your schedule and contacts.

If you’re a little organizationally obsessive like me then you keep a line of notebooks ready to go for each committee or group to which you belong. A Saturday night writer’s group means: grab the blue folder on the way out the door. Or on a larger scale, going to an Anime convention means grab the yellow folder and the over-flowing garment bag packed with costumes, trinkets and smaller organizational bags.

Bookcases

Eight Million Books = a whole lot of books. Those I own, referenced and shelved and dusted. Sorted into read and ready to read. The eight million includes a pile of library books, recommended books, research books and loaned books.

One Billion Chores = just about everything else. With only a billion to do, I’m probably on the low end of the scale. There are always dishes to do, clothes to wash, gardens to weed, tables to dust, items like a car (or the random appliance breakdown) to fix and have serviced, carpools to drive, and papers to sort.

I’m not about to get into a contest on chores. I keep my life fairly stream-lined.

Despite all of the above, I also add lots of things in my life that don’t fall under a category of hyperbole.

I will and do write two thousand words a day. I do spend an hour a day (minimum) playing with cats and walking the dog. Exercise is no longer allowed to be a maybe. Email and social media are always checked every morning and always replied to.140608 -  - medium-12

I love to hear from people, to listen, and respond. Out of the trillion things above, my relationships whether person-to-person or from the ethereal internet will always gain my attention and a response.

~lisa

 

 

Standard
Holidays, M-P, Seattle, Washington

Happy Midsummer

Today several places in the Northern Hemisphere have the longest hours of sunlight of the year. This however can be taken to the extreme. On Summer Solstice, the North Pole gets 24 hours of daylight. Talk about sleep deprivation.

I have visiting Stonehenge during a summer solstice on my list of things to do. Not this year, but hopefully soon.

  • If you are in Seattle go to the Fremont Fair. This famous/infamous fair has a little bit of something for everyone.
  • Or attend a Native American ceremony.
  • Or go to a performance of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For luck, make sure you turn around three times clockwise after waking up on the morning of the Summer Solstice.

080803 -  - medium

Seattle’s Fremont Fair

http://www.fremontfair.org/
“The event, a celebration of Fremont’s “delibertas quirkas” (freedom to be pecuilar) culture”

Fremont is its own “Center of the Universe” within walking distance of downtown Seattle. At least what I consider walking distance. Most people would take cars.

The fair features the Seattle Art Car Blow-Out with over 75 “art” cars decked out in every manner of decoration. There’s a dog parade, solstice-inspired yoga, buskers of every conceivable type (chalk artists, musicians, jugglers etc.) and then there is the 2014 Solstice Parade.

The Solstice parade has marching bands, floats and all the usual cast of characters. It also has the famous or infamous (depending on how you look at it) Solstice Cyclists.

This is according to Wikipedia and I can say for a fact that this information is accurate:

“The Solstice Cyclists (also known as The Painted [Naked] Cyclists of the Solstice Parade, or The Painted Cyclists) is an artistic, non-political, clothing-optional bike ride celebrating the Summer Solstice. It is the unofficial start of the Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant.:

Or from this year’s Solstice Cyclists website http://www.solsticecyclist.org/

“The Painted Cyclists have long been a fixture of the Fremont Solstice Parade – an event created and produced by the Fremont Arts Council. The parade is a fantastic and whimsical celebration of the return of the sun, complete with larger than life puppets, floats, and street performers.

The Painted Cyclists engage and entertain the crowd with our boldness, bareness and enthusiasm. Join us as we welcome summer to Seattle with an outpouring of artistic expression, fossil-fuel-free travel, and fun.”

However you decide to celebrate the solstice, I wish you fun and adventure.

~lisa

Reliable Wikipedia on Solstice Cyclists – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solstice_Cyclists
Solstice data and more data – http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/SummerSolstice.html
Solstice traditions through the ages – http://www.medicaldaily.com/summer-solstice-native-americans-and-tradition-renewal-247028
Precise Solstice definition – www.thefreedictionary.com/solstice

Some fun FAQs I found for the Solstice Cyclists participants

Do I have to ride naked? Of course not, some cyclists chose to wear a little something. Try flesh colored undies for the ladies and speedos for the guys.

How long does it take to be painted? Depending upon the complexity of your design, painting can take from 45 minutes to 4 hours. If your design consists of a base coat with detail on top, you’ll need to leave time for the base to dry plus time for the whole thing to dry before we ride.

Will the paint come off? Eventually. Your best bet is lots of warm, soapy water, a washcloth, and a friend to scrub between your shoulder blades. Most paints come off in little flakes so I recommend using a hair snare in your drain to prevent them from mucking up your plumbing. In 2004, I discovered the miracle of “pressure washing”. I attached a spray nozzle to my garden hose, stood in the middle of my yard and turned the water on, adjusting the nozzle until the water was a concentrated jet. This essentially peeled the paint right off my body. Combined with some sea salt and Dr. Bronner’s and I was clean in a record 30 minutes! It’s probably not a bad idea to stand in a kiddie pool or on a tarp to keep the paint flakes out of your lawn. Last year, I experimented with dry scrubbing first. I used an old, rough washcloth to gently abrade the paint off and then lathered up and rinsed. Like a charm!

I’m a little, um, hirsute. Will my body hair affect my paint? You can definitely be painted over body hair although it can be a bit trickier to get an even coat. Body hair also makes removing the paint more difficult and more painful. Some folks get into the hair removal aspect while others chose to go au naturel. It’s up to you.

Standard
M-P, Mythology

June Gemstones and Pearls

In a previous post I asked why June deserved three gemstones instead of one. I found the answer.
June actually has 12 (or possibly more) birthstones.

A list of June gemstones can include pearl, moonstone, alexandrite, agate, chalcedony, emerald, chrysoprase, tiger’s eye, white sapphire, ruby, sapphire and citrine.

The number of gemstones for a month depends on how many sources you wish to count:

Modern, Mystical, Zodiac, Arabic, Hindu, Traditional, Russian, Sun/Star, Moon, Planetary, Talismanic, Italian, Roman, and Ancient Hebrew. . .

Thanks to http://www.bernardine.com/birthstone/june.htm for a comprehensive list and sources.

Obviously I’m not going to explore the culture and myth of that many gemstones in a single blog post.

Pearl on a Wheat CentToday we’ll look at Pearls.

Pearl is the official birthstone for the month of June as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912.

There are many other gems to explore in future posts – so many bright, shiny things out there and like a dragon I wish I could add all of them to my hoard.

For example I have now fallen in love with Moonstone.

But back to Pearls.

140618 -  - medium-2

Pearls have been traced back to our earliest histories. Even, before written history people have adorned themselves with pearls.

Pearl myth and legend has also come down from the long-ago mists of time in a high diversity of cultures. This blog post will barely scrape the surface.

China is credited with the earliest mention in writing of pearls (a 4,000 year old historical text), but evidence of the rare pearl is found in ancient Egypt, Japan, Ancient Greece, Ancient Persia, Rome and so forth.

My favorite myth stories are about rainbows. Rainbows and pearls intersect in myth both in ancient Persia and China.

Ancient Persian myths thought that pearls were born when a rainbow met the Earth. In their myth, thunder caused all irregularities in the pearls.

In China, pearls were thought to be raindrops swallowed by oysters. The Chinese associated dragons and pearls together, since they believed dragons fighting in the clouds caused pearls to drop from the sky in the form of rain.

My second favorite myth centers on what becomes of tears when they fall. In Japanese lore, pearls are the tears of creatures as diverse as mermaids, nymphs and angels.

Pearls on an antique mirror

Pearls are also cited in many religious traditions including Christianity, Islam, and Hindu.

There are the “Pearly Gates” in Christian Revelations 21:21 – “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every gate was of one pearl: and the streets of the city were pure gold, as if transparent glass.”

The Koran speaks of the pearl as a symbol of perfection and that dwellers of paradise will be adorned with them 22:23 – “God will admit those who believe and work righteous deeds, to Gardens beneath which rivers flow: they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk.”

Questions for my Islamic readers.

What is the preferred spelling Koran or Quran? Is it okay to quote the verse(s) that apply to my research or should I summarize them? I have not found any clear answers on my own. What do you think?

Hindu texts say that Krishna discovered the first pearl, which he presented to his daughter on her wedding day and since then pearls have been a part of wedding ceremonies. I have also found that India traces their pearl heritage back to the 3000 year old Rigveda.

Pearl ring on a pink heart compact

Pearls generally symbolize wisdom, wealth, luck, integrity, loyalty, purity and generosity.

I have found that, like roses, each color of pearl has a different meaning. Unlike roses, there are about as many pearl colors as there are pearls, but they have been grouped in broad categories of color.

The familiar white. White = Purity, Truth, Fertility, Innocence, Faith, Honesty, Sincerity, and Peace.

Gold = Riches, Wealth, Prosperity, Freedom, Success, Love, Wisdom
Purple = Wisdom. Artistry, Creativity, Complexity, Mystery, Motivation

I’m partial to black gems like black opals and black pearls are not an exception.

Black pearls = Mystery, Strength, Fascination, Allure, Independence, and Balance.

A black pearl also equals Rest. And for that reason alone, I need to have a black pearl.

There are a seemingly endless number of myths about the rare black pearl. See http://www.prleap.com/pr/20341/ for a good recounting of many of them.

140618 -  - medium-5

My favorite origin story for black pearls comes from the ancient Chinese in which black pearls are created in the brains of dragons and one had to slay a dragon to get the black pearl held in its teeth.

If a black pearl actually equals rest, I might be quite tempted to slay a dragon even though I am more inclined towards getting dragons (rather belatedly) classified as an endangered species.

~lisa

An excellent site on pearl meanings – http://www.jewelry-secrets.com/Gemstones/Pearl/Meanings-Of-Colored-Pearls/Pearl-Color-Meanings-And-Moods.html
This site has lots of pearl jewelry available for sale, but the information between the items for sale is spot on – http://www.squidoo.com/pearl-myth

There are some gorgeous pictures of pearls at
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=PEARLS&qpvt=PEARLS&FORM=IGRE

To learn about pearls, their eight shapes, natural vs. cultured and how pearls are made see one of the sites below.

American Gem Society http://www.americangemsociety.org/pearls#sthash.1v0HmY1K.dpuf
A good summary of pearl history http://www.jjkent.com/articles/pearl-history-mythology.htm
A well done Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl – mineral
This site bills itself as the world’s best information site on pearls. I wouldn’t quite go that far, but it is a great site all about pearls – http://www.pearl-guide.com/pearl-history.shtml

More pearl snippets I found of interest:

The Roman General Vitellius financed a military campaign with one of his mother’s pearl earrings.

During the Dark Ages, knights would wear pearls onto the battlefield to protect them from harm.

It used to be a Hindu custom to present a completely new, undrilled pearl and pierce it during the wedding ceremony.

Standard
M-P

Paraskevidekatriaphobia

140610 -  - medium-2

My favorite description of Friday the 13th is as a lamentable intersection of unlucky number and dire day.

I was going to publish this post in font size 13 but, alas, cannot find any font of that size.

The term paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th, was first coined in the 90’s by Dr. Donald E. Dossey.

Apparently regular Triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) was neither long enough nor specific enough to categorize this phobia.

Friday 13th is only bad luck if YOU choose it to be.” – Denise Mansfield

I’ll start with the well-documented Triskaidekaphobia.

Loki was the 13th god of the Norse pantheon and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral of Balder.

Judas was the 13th to sit at the table at the Last Supper.

There is a superstition that if 13 people gather for dinner, one of them will die the following year.

In the original Grimm version of Sleeping Beauty, the wicked fairy was the 13th fairy.

The most telling argument against Friday the 13th is that on Friday, October 13, 1307, Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar. That alone can make it a day that may live in infamy in the collective subconscious.

Some people refuse to start new projects, go out to eat or even go to work on that date and very few will get married on Friday the 13th. We know that many buildings do not have a 13th floor, but did you know that many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue?

My opinion is that there is a lot of unclaimed luck floating around on Friday the 13th.

What’s your opinion on this most superstitious of days?

Tonight is also a full moon.

~lisa

A definition of triskaidekaphobia http://phobias.about.com/od/phobiaslist/a/triskaidekaphob.htm
Psychology discussion about triskaidekaphobia. http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/t/triskaidekaphobia/intro.htm
The doctor who coined the term paraskevidekatriaphobia http://drdossey.com/friday13.html

Just in case you want to double check the definition of paraskevidekatriaphobia http://www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword/entries/paraskevidekatriaphobia.html

 Every year has at least one Friday 13th; some years have as many as three Friday 13ths.

 

Standard
M-P, Writing

The “Write” Tools

140608 -  - medium

Once Upon a Time…

In the very distant past there was a need to show a thought, to communicate without words, to tally, to map, to represent and thus began a life-long affair with our writing instruments.

From the first mark in the dirt, on the cave wall, the clay tablet, papyrus and so many more mediums right up to the ballpoint pen, people have needed to communicate in a more permanent way than spoken words, in a way that complete strangers could understand.

I write. I collect pens. All types of pens. I play with ink.

140608 -  - medium-2140608 -  - medium-6

I bring all of this up because it is Ballpoint Pen Day. Perhaps I could write an ode to a ballpoint pen, but I feel more inclined towards a broader scope.

“There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

There is some controversy still lingering over the patents of ballpoint pens. Some say the original patent was to John J. Loud on October 30, 1888. However he did not “commercialize” it and his patent lapsed. In the 30 years following, there were approximately 350 patents for ballpoint pins, but like Loud’s never “commercialized.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” ― Edward L. Wheeler

“Anyone who thinks the pen is mightier than the sword has not been stabbed with both.” – Lemony Snicket (pen name of Daniel Handler)

See http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/ballpen.htm for a complete history of the ballpoint pen and the rivalries it inspired.

The most acknowledged and commercial patent for the ballpoint pen was filed on June 10, 1943. Thus June 10 is the unofficial ballpoint pen day.

“Pen-bereavement is a serious matter.” – Anne Fadiman

For most of history a “portable pen with its own ink” was merely a pipe dream.

There was the Greek stylus made of metal, bone or ivory made for marking wax-coated tablets.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Horace and “To hold a pen is to be at war.”- Voltaire

Horace, Voltaire, Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson etc. – All wrote without the modern convenience of a writing instrument with its own ink.

140608 -  - medium-9

For most of history (since 700 AD) the quill pen reigned supreme.

I have a couple of quill pens (not the real deal, but close enough in looks and function) and some bottles of ink.

It is difficult to wrap one’s mind around an writing instrument which not only takes a long time to produce but also would only withstand about a week’s worth of work.

For something made through so many centuries there was a science as to what feathers to take from which birds. Goose feathers being the most common, swan feathers being the premium pens and crow feathers for fine lines and many others for specific purposes. Fascinating.

140608 -  - medium-17

The quill pen was eventually phased out in favor of the fountain pen patented in 1867 by M. Klein and Henry W. Wynne.

Fountain pens had an ink chamber that for a short time would hold an ink supply. Revolutionary.

Fountain pens are beautiful works of art and nibs for them even more so.

Pen design took off in the 1970’s and expanded to highlighters, permanent markers and many more types of writing instruments.

“You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.” – Paul Simon

Every pen is different and we all have our favorites: the ones that are just right. What is your favorite pen?  What makes it your favorite?

140608 -  - medium-8

For all of you writers out there, every now and then take a break from the keyboard, pick up your favorite pen and put it to paper. It’s a different flow, a different rhythm and a way to experience your inner world quite unlike the tap of a keys.

It’s also a great way to break through writer’s block.

~lisa

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

A great timeline of all writing implements http://www.ringpen.com/history.html
A very thorough history of the pen http://www.rickconner.net/penspotters/history.html
Pencil History http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blpen.htm
Ballpoint Pen history http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/ballpen.htm
Pen history http://www.ehow.com/about_4577279_history-pen.html

140608 -  - medium-12140608 -  - medium-13

http://www.fastcompany.com/1284673/ballpoint-pen-day “On this day in 1943, brothers Laszlo and Georg Bíró filed a patent for what’s now one of the world’s most common writing instruments. Others had tried to design a self-inking mechanical pen that rolled on a ball, with little success. The Bírós perfected the design, named it the Birome, and opened a pen shop in Argentina. In 1945, the pens went on sale in the U.S., at Gimbel’s in New York, for $12.50 each ($145, inflation adjusted). The store sold $125,000 worth on day one, and Bic, which bought the patent, has sold 100 billion-plus since 1950. Rolling, indeed. – ZW”http://www.fastcompany.com/1284673/ballpoint-pen-day

140608 -  - medium-5

Standard
M-P

Maps

I love maps!

100529 -  - medium

The field of cartography fascinates me and what a single map can tell you is hypnotizing.

 “Maps encourage boldness. They’re like cryptic love letters. They make anything seem possible.” ―Mark Jenkins

Maps are windows into new worlds, new paradigms, different ways and customs of looking at the world.

 “The map is one of the oldest forms of nonverbal communication. Humans were probably drawing maps long before they were writing texts. Mapmaking may even predate formal language. As far as historians and geographers can determine, every culture in every part of the world uses and makes maps. This deep lineage reflects the descriptive usefulness of a map – a map is one of the best proofs that a “Picture is worth a thousand words.”” – Joni Seager, University of Vermont http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/unpacking/mapsmain.html

 People use maps to define, explain and navigate through their world. Any map you look at will inform you not only of place, but what was of the greatest importance to the cartographer whether it be religion, politics, art, utilitarianism, or cultural bias.

“I have an existential map; it has ‘you are here’ written all over it”– Stephen Wright

I love people and understandingwhere they are coming from”. A map can answer that and more.

 “There are maps through your bones and skin, to the way you’ve felt and the way you’ve been” Testy McTesterson

There’s a map of the sky in the Lascaux caves, there are maps on clay tablets from Mesopotamia, and maps on mosaic tiles from the ancient Mediterranean.

Ancient maps and descriptions of lost maps are recorded from Homer (who may or may not have existed and may or may not have described a map) to the earliest reference to a map from China in the 3rd century BC.

120922 -  - medium-4

Since maps come from all over the world and the various cultures of the world, the best way to study maps is to pick a specific area of interest whether it be place, time or culture and go from there.

“One of the challenges in this mission is the British maps are different from our maps, so it took some time to get use to them” – William Rush

 Besides cartography there are maps of life, psyche, plans, and being.

The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps.”  – Bob Black

What are your favorite types of maps? How do you map out your life? What do all your maps tell you about yourself?

~ lisa

 “To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My favorite map site so far: http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.php/maps

A great site and fun for browsing and learning about maps: http://www.davidrumsey.com/

History of Maps: http://www.maphistory.info/

An interactive political map from the Ancient History Encyclopedia offers a large-scale overview of the ancient world across all time periods: http://www.ancient.eu.com/mapselect/

Timeline maps: http://www.timemaps.com/history/

Looking up at that balloon

 

Standard