After the success of 50 Shades of Grey (which I have not read), a digital publisher is re-doing some classic novel to now contain sex scenes, these include Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Sherlock Holmes. I find the whole concept uncomfortable, especially in Sherlock Holmes case as the sex scene is between him and Dr Watson. This is not because I am homophobia, but because there is not sexual feelings between the two characters. You would not be surprised by a steamy sex scene between Heathcliff and Cathy from Wuthering Heights as there is blatantly sexual feelings there. By trying to make something fit into a society it was not created for, are we losing what made those books classic in the first place? Or does this say more about today’s reader?
Archive for July, 2012
After reading the Anatomy of Melancholy, it has re-sparked my consciousness about my own source of melancholy, and decided to do one of those “what mental illness do you have?” quizzes on-line. I know that they are NOT a diagnostic tool but I was interested in what they might throw up. It suggested that I was moderately Obsessive-Compulsive, Dependent, Avoidant, Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Schizotypal. The last one was the shocking and what does that actually mean. According to the website it is believed to be a mild form of schizophrenia and is characterised by someone with odd forms of thinking and perceiving, seeking isolation from others, believing that they have an extra sensory perception, eccentric behaviour, speeches that are elaborate and sometimes difficult to follow. Someone who is superstitious, believes in the paranormal, odd beliefs and magical thinking. Most of those “criteria” I would apply to most people who follow a nature based religion. Does this mean we are all schizotypal? Or is this another example of science and religion competing? Like Joan of Arc hearing God we seem to want to silence those that are in touch with something beyond the “normal” peoples realms. However, like mentioned it was NOT a diagnostic tool but still ended up throwing up some interesting ideas.
At the moment I am reading a very interesting book, The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton, which was first published in 1621. This book looks at the causes, kinds, and cures of melancholy (or Clinical depression as it would be called today). One of the many things that intrigues me about this book is while it “sells” itself as a medical textbook, it has a lot of its sources from classical myths and literature as well as scientific evidence. The issue can be muddied by the lengthy Latin quotes (which is made lengthier by the translations). At this point I’m only at the cures sections, which has included everything from the humour, parents, old age, the Gods, and witches and magicians. Some of this still seems to be applicable today, such as old age and hereditary, some less so like Gods and Witches. As I will go through the book I may put up more posts about it.
You led me to the place where hemlock meets the oak.
By the amber waters of Babylon.
A place full of the whispers of love.
And the blazing screams of banging hate.
The wind speaks of maddening possession.
It batters me without any mercy.
And dances about me like an evil ballerina.
It is filled with hateful intention.
A burning flame tells tales of mystery ways.
It burns with violent cruelty and breaking dawns.
As I remember that I was never good.
Passions that was deemed as immoral.
The winding river sings that I can live.
That she would never give up on me.
A mere taste would keep me young forever.
I know that she wants to possess me.
The earth is narrating tales of tragedy.
Its deep, dark soil is up to no good.
It seems to conspire to take me away.
It is ingraining into every groove.
It tells my heart that it is a fool.
My spirit shrieks a warning like a crow.
I need to make it out of here alive.
It rebels against the songs of passion.
It cried that I need to flee this place.
I turn to you to fire the killing blow.
I realise the words I hear are not yours.
But echoes of love that died many years ago.
In this place, hemlock and oak weeps.
Here, the amber waters are on fire.
And yet I am here, still waiting.
Air wants it their way, fire turns to stars.
Water keeps on living, earth is stricken.
Between us there are flying sparks.
I want to be the first thing you see.
You take me in your arms and kiss me.
Your kisses opened up Pandora’s box.
Leaving me with nothing but tuneful hope.
You take my hand and lead me from this place.
A place that holds nothing but echoes of dead love.
Lammas is seen as the time of sacrifice and this can be interpreted as violence by some people. One of the ways this is achieved is to make a bread man or woman, and giving it a name. One source suggested calling it the Pillsbury dough boy, but more traditional names at this time is Lugh, (as the Sabbath is named after him) or Orisis (as he was sacrified by his brother). For the female version they are not some many “traditional” names, but some suggestions include Corn lady, Seed Woman or even Freya (as she is the giver of bread) or Ziva ( the Grain Goddess of Eastern Europe). This Bread man or Woman becomes part of the feasting ceremony. The sacrifice occurs as the leader of the ritual tears the bread to piece to share with the other coven members with words such as “May you never hunger”, which is similar to the Christian “Give us this day our daily bread”, or if you are a Welsh rugby fan like me, “Bread of Heaven, feed me til I eat no more”. It is a good idea to share this with a toast of cider or apple juice (apples are the seasonal fruit of this time) with the words “May you never thirst”. This is the perfect opportunity to share with others the highlight(s) of the year so far. Another “human sacrifice” is done in the style of a corn dolly. This is taking dried out corn husk and fashioning them into a corn dolly. This is the visualisation of the harvest. As she is being created pour into her what you have achieved this harvest time. Again naming her is traditional and she should be clothed in an apron, skirt and a bonnet and keep in a special place in the home, maybe your altar. It is kept until Spring when it is sacrificed when the planting of the first crops.
Lammas as well as being the time of harvest and preserves is also a time of regrets and goodbyes. These can either be private thoughts or can become part of the ritual itself. Regrets can be those things that you intended to do but either never got round to or they just did not come to fruition. Farewells could be things leaving your life. This is a fire festival and if possible a bonfire should be present. Here your regrets and goodbyes could be written on a piece of paper and burned in the bonfire. Telling stories around the camp fire can also be part of the ritual, of myths associated at this time like the abduction of Demeter daughter (Greek) or Ceres daughter (Roman), Tallus Mater who is the Roman Earth Mother, or any myths that appeals to your path, or maybe even create your own modern interpretation.
The food associated at this time is apples, grains, breads and berries. Herbs and flowers is grapes, heather, sloe, and pears. Incense is Aloe, Rose and Sandalwood. Gemstone is Carnelian. This is a celebration of warmth and bounty and this is shared with friends and family. It would be nice to keep the seed of the fruits eaten during the ritual. Grow and plant these seeds as a symbolism of your love for the God and Goddess. It is nice to walk through fields and orchards, being near streams, river or anything that is shining with abundance. This is also a time for craft and sharing of talent as it is associated with Lugh who was a skilled God. In Medieval Europe, it was the time of craft fairs. Lugh has association for some people, as a patron of bards and magicians. This is the time that one can honour to hone a craft, or better still start a new one. As this is a time of rebirth and renewal, then you will promise to reveal your years work at the next ritual.
Lughnassadh was the ancient Celt name for this time named after the Celtic God Lugh. Lammas comes from Anglo-Saxon Loaf Mass and celebrates harvest. This is the first of three festival that have a harvest theme. Loaf Mass is indicative of the harvest being of grains and corn. Calves and lambs are weaned and fruits such as apples, blueberries etc are collected and baked into a pie. Similarity can be made with this ritual and the American Thanksgiving. We are giving thanks to the God and Goddess for the abundance. This is the time of good fortune and therefore Lammas magic can be performed to enhance health, happiness etc. It also seems to be a time for lovers as Lammas Day is a popular time for Handfasting. Love spells performed at this time are also said to work quicker than usual. Fertility spells are also popular at this time, as even women who find it difficult to conceive are more fertile at this time. This time seems to be a strong combination of the fiery passion of the Fire element and the practicality of the Earth element.