Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Roman Way in October

I'm having mild withdrawal symptoms don't ya know? Haven't had an Ancient Roman Festival to feature for quite some time. Let me see what was goin' on during October in those long ago Roman days.

Ludi Augustales – October 3-12 Following his predecessors Sulla and Caesar, games were held in Augustus' honor starting in 11 BC. It became a ten-day event under Tiberius. Usually only the last day featured chariot racing.

Yeah, well, those horses and chariot wheels did tend to screw up the turf - not good for the athletes.

Black Day: Anniversary of Arausio – October 6 A day considered unlucky since it was the anniversary of the defeat to German tribes in 105 BC.

Those dang Germans !

Meditrinalia – October 11 To Jupiter, in his form as the wine-god, and Meditrina, goddess of healing and medicine. This was the first occasion on which Romans tasted the year's new vintage.

After quaffing all that new vintage stuff, no doubt Meditrina's skills of healing came in very handy! Ah-ha... we have a post about this, from 2011 (AD that is)- See HERE

Fontinalia – October 13 To Fons or Fontus, god of fountains, springs, and wells. Fountains and wellheads around the city of Rome were decorated with garlands.

And there are lots and lots, and lots of fountains in Rome - I saw many of 'em, but that was many decades ago (not nearly as many decades ago as this Festival though)!

Equus October – October 15 A race of two-horse chariots on the Campius Martius in honor of Mars. The right hand horse was sacrificed to the god with the tail being taken to the regia where its blood was left to drip on the hearth. The head was fought over between the residents of the Via Sacra (the rich and powerful) and the Subura (the poor). This festival and the next represented the usual close of the military season.


Armilustrium – October 19 To Mars. This marked the end of the military campaigning season. Soldiers' weapons were ritually purified and stored for the winter on the Aventine Hill. The assembled army was garlanded with flowers and reviewed in the Circus Maximus. Trumpets were played. There was a procession with torches and sacrificial animals.

Inhabitants of the USA carry on their version of this particular festival continually, by ritually saying "Thank you for your service" to any individual wearing military uniform, in any situation...whether said individual has ever done anything remotely like service to man or beast, or not. (Perhaps this should be my cue to run and hide!)

Ludi Victoriae Sullae – October 26 - November 1 Sometimes modern readers are puzzled about why Sulla's contemporaries complain so much about him. It should be realized that some of the things he did could be rather offensive to the traditional Roman. For example, after he won the battle of the Colline Gate in 82 BC to restore his control of Rome from the Marian faction, he chose the first anniversary to institute annual games in honor of the victory and by implication of course, himself. Now what had once only been done for gods, was being done on behalf of a mere man. This set a precedent for Caesar. Usually only the last day featured chariot racing.

"the Marian Faction"?
Any connection to "Marian...Madam Librarian
What can I say, my dear, to catch your ear...."?

Thought not!

Julius Caesar’s family was socially distinguished: its members were patrician, and claimed descent from Venus and Aeneas. Although not prominent in politics, they were closely connected with the Marian faction in Roman politics – Caesar’s aunt was married to the popular leader Marius, and he himself married Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna (a follower of Marius). Cornelia died in 69 BC, after which Caesar married Sulla’s granddaughter Pompeia, in 67 BC.

Source HERE

Friday, October 02, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Rocketeer & Artist Frank Malina

It' s interesting when art and science meet in the same individual - Frank Malina is a good example. He was born this day, 2 October in 1912, in Brenham, Texas, son of
son of Czech immigrants Frank Malina, a musician, and Caroline Marek.

From: Frank Malina - America's Forgotten Rocketeer by James L. Johnson:
What makes Malina’s story all the more compelling is that he was a man of great contradictions: A professed pacifist, he nevertheless designed powerful rockets to further the war effort. A communist sympathizer, he made a fortune through his stake in Aerojet. A consummate engineer, he opted to abandon his research career while still in his 30s and would eventually dedicate himself full-time to artistic pursuits. And yet, this sometimes deeply conflicted individual did more than anyone to legitimize the pursuit of rocket propulsion and to pave the way for others to pursue their paths to the stars.

Like most of the early rocketeers, Malina was drawn to the subject because rockets meant space travel. Born in 1912 in the tiny town of Brenham, Texas, Malina as a boy devoured Jules Verne’s classic From the Earth to the Moon, which vividly imagined an extraterrestrial trip. Even as an adolescent, Malina had an engineer’s mind-set. In a college essay on interplanetary travel, he enumerated the great difficulties that would need to be overcome, including the vast distances to traverse, the hostile atmosphere upon arrival, and the lack of any means of communication between that distant point and Earth.

And from an obituary and biography at HERE

Dr. Malina was a rare combination of scientist-artist-editor-humanist. He was internationally famous for his work on early rocket development, his pioneering contribution to Kinetic Art, his creation and development of the journal Leonardo, and his lifelong efforts to promote international cooperation in science and technology and the visual arts.

Frank J. Malina obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1934. He became interested in rocket engineering in the 1930s, when rocketry and space travel were scoffed at as "science-fiction dreams". He obtained his Ph.D. in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech)  in 1940 with a thesis on rocket propulsion and rocket flight. In 1994, he was a co-founder, with the noted aeronautical engineer, Theodore von Kármán, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, California), and was its first director from 1944 to 1946. He conceived and directed the design, construction and testing of the United States' first successful high altitude sounding rocket, the WAC Corporal (White Sands, New Mexico, 1944-1945). From 1947 to 1953 he worked at UNESCO, Paris, as counsellor and head of the Division of Scientific Research. Until his death he was an active member of the International Astronautics Federation as well as the International Academy of Astronautics, both of which he helped to found. He was elected vice-president of the Academy of Astronautics in 1960 and president in 1963. He drew up a plan for a "Lunar International Laboratory" where astronauts, scientists and technologists from different countries could work together for peaceful purposes in space. He was awarded the French Prix d'Astronautique REP Hirsch in 1939, the C. M. Hickman award of the American Rocket Society in 1948, and the Order of Merit from the French Society for the Encouragement of Research and Invention in 1962.

Those persons who were fortunate to know Frank J. Malina, or work with him professionally, treasured their friendship for that modest, unassuming man whose entire life was guided by his respect for all peoples on earth regardless of race, religion or social condition. He had an abiding faith in human nature and the promise of international cooperation and international understanding as the best means to build the foundations of a lasting peace, and he bent all his efforts during the last 40 years of his life to promote those ideals in every way he could in science and the visual arts. He was truly a great Humanist, truly the International Man.
Dr Malina died in November 1981.

It's difficult to present his Kinetic artwork to good effect online. There are some videos at YouTube, but they're not really good enough. Two very brief samples are below, both of the same piece titled "Cosmos" created in 1965.

Regarding Dr Malina's artwork - see this article by Patrick McCray:
Malina was especially keen to introduce material from science and technology, particularly space exploration and astronomy, into contemporary visual arts. Even his early forays into painting incorporated “shock waves and fluid flow and paintings of airplanes and rockets.” As he moved away from traditional art techniques, Malina spent considerable time experimenting with new ways to create novel visual effects. In the mid-1950s, for example, Malina worked with a French electronics student to create what he called his Lumidyne technique. He made his first pieces using it in 1956.


Frank Malina's natal chart - born 2 October 1912, in Brenham, Texas. Chart set for 12 noon, no time of birth available, so Moon's position and ascendant will not be accurate.

That Grand Trine linking Sun/Mercury (self and mental orientation) to Saturn (science) and to Uranus (invention, futuristic) forming a circuit in Air (well, one is Capricorn cuspy) signs says everything necessary about the rocketeering facet of his talent. His gravitation to art, and in particular to Kinetic Art is reflected, I think, in the opposition between Uranus (futuristic) and Neptune (creativity, imagination). This opposition of slow-moving planets was a generational alignment, but because Uranus links to personal planet Mercury by harmonious trine, and Neptune links to Mars and widely to Venus (planet of the arts) by less comfortable square aspects, the opposition is specifically drawn in to Malina's personality. Venus in square aspect to both Uranus and Neptune, perhaps loses some of the square aspect's sting because Neptune in late Cancer echoes the Watery element of Venus in Scorpio; and Uranus in Earthy Capricorn's last degree isn't totally alien to Scorpio Venus. That peculiar cuspy effect must be going on here.

The personality description given in a quote, above, bears repeating:
Those persons who were fortunate to know Frank J. Malina, or work with him professionally, treasured their friendship for that modest, unassuming man whose entire life was guided by his respect for all peoples on earth regardless of race, religion or social condition. He had an abiding faith in human nature and the promise of international cooperation and international understanding as the best means to build the foundations of a lasting peace, and he bent all his efforts during the last 40 years of his life to promote those ideals in every way he could in science and the visual arts. He was truly a great Humanist, truly the International Man.
Charming Libra Sun, quite possibly in trine to sociable Gemini Moon (can't be sure without time of birth), would cover much of that description. It does also sound very much like textbook descriptions of Aquarius - perhaps Aquarius was his rising sign.

I should also mention, after what came up from yesterday's post on Libra's fixed stars, that Dr Malina's Sun was conjunct Vindemiatrix - so... that star ain't always the herald of a harsh or difficult personality!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Fixed Stars in Libra (a few noticed in natal charts)

Libra is next in the series of monthly posts on Fixed Stars in each tropical zodiac sign.

Data comes from Astroweb (HERE), showing star positions in 1900 in the left-hand column and in 2000 on the right.

Astrological interpretations for most of those stars, if found to be tightly conjunct a natal personal planet, or important point, are available online. A good, all-encompassing website to investigate for this is Constellation of Words.

Chosen stars to feature further this month are three I've noted during research for past blog posts: Arcturus, Algorab and Vindemiatrix.

Arcturus came up in a post here:


In The Best of the Illustrated National Astrological Journal 1933-1935,... there's an article by Stuart Holmes titled Arcturus and Artists, sub-heading: Golden Star Found Consistently Recurrent in the Horoscopes of the World's Greatest Artists.......The article states that the author's research (or perhaps that of his astrologer wife?) has shown that aspects to Fixed Star Arcturus feature strongly in the natal charts of many artists. He names Michelangelo, Dore, Lord Leighton, Millet, Rops, Burne-Jones, Watts, Winslow Homer, Durer, Holbein, Ingres, Delacroix, Bouguereau, Blake, Boucher, Gauguin and Cezanne as all having strong aspects to Arcturus "but principally the ruler conjoined with it".

He goes on in more detail about various painters and sculptors and how configurations in their natal charts match their chosen styles. He ends the piece: "One of the strangest factors in these charts of great artists is the fact that Venus, the ruler of art and all beauty, is always square to some zodiacal body".

At the time the article was published, in the early 1930s, and as stated therein, Arcturus was at 23 Libra. By 2010 the Fixed Star had moved, very, very slowly to 24.22 Libra. A piece online, by Rob Tillett: Fixed Stars, allocates Arcturus the keywords:

Inspiration, riches, fame, honour, popularity, benefits through travel. Success through work. Effect: Very Fortunate. Character: Jupiter/ Mars.

Vindemiatrix and Algorab are mentioned in posts here and here

Salient points have been pointed out in the linked articles above, but two things stand out for me: the fact that his [Rick Perry's] Mars and south node of Moon conjoin Fixed Star Vindemiatrix.
From Skyscript:
Vindemiatrix, which Ptolemy defined as like Saturn and Mercury, and referred to as 'the bright star in the northern wing', is the third brightest star of the constellation, being less brilliant now than it was in Ptolemy's day. The name is a feminised Latin deviation of the original Greek name, Provindemiator, meaning 'the Grape Gatherer', since the heliacal rising of this star announced the time to pick the grapes.... Although symbolically associated with a time of harvest and thus, one would assume, associated with the rewards of previous efforts, it is generally accorded an unfortunate influence in keeping with its predominantly Saturnine nature. Robson claims that it gives falsity, disgrace, stealing, wanton folly.......

I'm generally wary of Fixed star interpretations, but do feel it's important to note them in cases such as this, where we might glean additional information as to their significance from watching how things unfold.

From the second link -
DANG! Another triple Libran [Lenny Bruce] who goes against the grain. Nazi horror-monger Irma Grese struck me this way too - I blogged about her here. A few more charts like these and I shall start doubting traditional interpretations of Libra as the most diplomatic, tactful, indecisive sign of the zodiac. The dark underbelly of Libra is definitely not pretty. The thought led me to a little more research and this is what I discovered:

Lenny Bruce's natal Mars at 9 Libra is conjunct Fixed Star Vindemiatrix designated unfortunate or malefic by ancient astrologers. His natal Saturn is within minutes of arc of Fixed Star South Scale in Scorpio - another malefic, very unfortunate star.

Irma Grese was born with Sun conjunct Algorab ("One who is destructive, malevolent, fiendish and lying")

Lesson learned: it's worth checking whether Fixed Stars are close to personal planets if things seem discordant with accepted astrological interpretation, especially in the case of Libra Sun people who are supposed to be, in the main, mild mannered, sweet, ruled by Venus.

Something else springs to mind too - Via Combusta, The Burning Road, spans 15 Libra to 15 Scorpio, which takes in Bruce's Sun, Mercury and Saturn. I puzzled over Via Combusta here. .......... Curiouser and curiouser.

In my own natal chart Libra is devoid of planets, so I've no personal experience to add.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Planetary Ponderings

Perhaps it's today's alignment of Earth-Mercury-Sun that has me in pondering mode.

Does Mercury Retrograde really screw up communication lines and cause computerised items to act strangely? (We're in the midst of a Merc-retro period right now, the retrograde period will last until 9 October).

All about Venus - a good piece about the planet by Charles Q. Choi, from
Planet Venus Facts: A Hot, Hellish & Volcanic Planet.

Will some form of life be found on Mars ?
Mars Shows Signs of Having Flowing Water, Possible Niches for Life, NASA Says.

As for Jupiter: Juno is a NASA New Frontiers mission to the planet Jupiter. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 5 August 2011 and will arrive on 4 July 2016.
See HERE - a short video, and HERE.

Saturn has recently transited from Scorpio into Sagittarius - thankfully at last hauling its ass off my natal Mars at 28.54-ish Scorpio!
Saturn orbits the Sun once every 29.4 Earth years. Its slow movement against the backdrop of stars earned it the nickname of “Lubadsagush” from the ancient Assyrians. The name means “oldest of the old”. (HERE)

Coffee Day on Tuneful Tuesday

Bet y'all didn't know - or had forgotten - that September 29 is International Coffee Day.

Cue for a song, or two.

Java Jive is an obvious choice. It was written by Ben Oakland and Milton Drake in 1940, originally performed by The Ink Spots. This is a later, 1970s, version by The Manhattan Transfer :

Not as obvious to most is the song that springs immediately to my own mind whenever coffee is mentioned. The song isn't about coffee, but the first line is.
Coffee black, cigarettes, start this day, like all the rest,
First thing every morning that I do, Is start missing you....

I like the song, it reminds me of an old friend who used to sing it often, and to my ear sang it even better than the original Don Williams 1970s recording. Don Williams sings it in the video below, backed by some images from the movie Brokeback Mountain. The song was written by Wayland Holyfield.

If you're a coffee drinker, why not have an extra cup in honour of the day? I'm a bit of a Philistine when it comes to coffee at home. I use instant, as do (or did) many Brits. I'm picky about the type and brand though. I'll use only Nescafé Colombian instant, Starbucks Colombian instant (a tad expensive, but good) and Nescafé Freeze Dried - but the latter is hard to find in Oklahoma, and exorbitant shipping charges preclude buying it online.

Monday, September 28, 2015

"Lost in the Fifties..." ~ Class of '55 Reunion

Husband's high school class reunion (60th) in Salina Kansas, as it turned out, was a pleasanter experience than expected - for us both.

There were some 50 to 60 attendees at the casual "mixer" meeting on Friday evening. Some people had travelled from as far away as New Hampshire, Michigan and Colorado. 1955 class members, according to notes on display, are now scattered through most of the 50 states, with Arizona and Florida vying with the home state, Kansas, in the double figure league.

A sad, but inevitable, inclusion was a lovingly prepared display, made up of photographs from the school yearbooks, of all those class members who are known to have died since 1955. The proportion is thought to be: around 178 still on planet Earth, from a total of 250 students in the 1955 graduation class. Not bad! It was sad to note, among the memorialised, a youthful photograph of my husband's best friend from school days and beyond, his nickname, "Z". We had attended his funeral in Wichita a few years ago.

On the lighter side, there was a fun display of some pages from the school's yearbook listing graduating students' "Pet Peeves and Future Plans". Husband's contribution went like this:

There he is (in the bottom photograph) with two re-united classmates. The lady on the left very kindly extracted three items from her scrapbook and put them in his keeping: two poems he had written, and an article, with his photograph (below), mentioning some of his doings.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Equinox

 David Palladini's Zodiac, Summer thru Fall +
Happy Autumn to all!

Nathaniel Hawthorne, in The American Notebooks in October 1842, wrote:

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house."

I'm with Nat. So after today the blog will stand still until Monday. We are to attend husband's High School Reunion (60th) this weekend, up in Salina, Kansas. We shall probably only attend the "mixer" meeting(s), rather than any regimented dinners etc. Not sure how I shall feel about it - I resolutely refused to attend any such affairs relating to my own schooldays, back in the UK. Still, I do like Salina, and there are antique stores to explore, should things become depressingly...erm... elderly.