Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tithera Mithera.....?

Best to be topical! Thinking of Easter and the run up to it, into my head popped a rhyme I used to repeat, long ago and far way near the north-eastern coast of England:
Tid, Mid, Miserai (or Misere)
Carlin, Palm, and Paste egg day.

Reciting it as a child, gobbledegook-wise, I didn't care what it meant, I just wanted to get at those chocolate Easter eggs! I later grasped that it had something to do with the Sundays of Lent, and customs attached.

Carlin(g)s are black peas, eaten on Passion Sunday, On Palm Sunday sometimes dried palm leaves were handed to members of church congregations, and Paste eggs (possibly a corruption of Pasch) eggs were what all the kids eagerly anticipated.

As for the mysterious first line of the rhyme, there are two explanations:
'Tid' was the second Sunday in Lent, when, it seems, the Te Deum was sung/chanted in church; Mid could refer to a hymn 'Mi Deus', sung on the third Sunday of Lent; Miserai/misere might be the psalm 'Miserere Mei', sung on the fourth. But there's also a very slight possibility, because the purpose of the rhyme was to count Sundays before Easter, that Tid, Mid was a variation of an ancient Celtic-based method/ language once used in the north of England for counting sheep. Exact spelling varies with dialects of northern England, but one, two three, four, five = yan, tan, tithera, mithera, pip. Tithera, mithera could equal tid mid? I'm not confident about this, it doesn't really fit snugly. Interesting though. It has been noted that even in parts of the US the old sheep-counting method is not not unknown, possibly brought across the Atlantic by early immigrants.

The full ancient sheep-counting method went like this, with spelling variations.
(My grandmother and neighbours of her generation always pronounced "one" as "yan", by the way.)


The sheep were counted up to twenty, the shepherd then closed one finger and repeated the count until all his fingers of one hand were down = a hundred sheep. Next he would close a finger on his other hand and begin anew. So up to 500 sheep could be counted using this method.

Regarding the mysterious custom of eating black carlin peas during Lent: there's no religious significance, but the tradition is said to be linked to the civil war of 1644. Royalist Newcastle in the north-east of England was under siege from the Scots. People were dying of starvation. The story goes that, either a French ship docked in Newcastle with a cargo of Maple Peas which were distributed to the people out of charity; or that a French ship was wrecked off the coast near Newcastle and containers of peas were washed ashore, much to the relief of starving inhabitants. Either way, a custom was born! Carlin peas are soaked overnight in water, boiled well then fried in butter and served with vinegar and bread and butter. My East Yorkshire grandmother used to prepare carlins that way, each year around Easter time.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Edward James and His Folly, Las Pozas.

Commenter "mike" alerted me to today's Arty Farty Friday subject - thanks mike!
Edward James and his creation in Las Pozas, Mexico.

My goodness, though, this guy was such an amazing character, where to begin, there's so much!?
For any passing reader with just under an hour to spare, this video is excellent, and features the man himself:

For passing readers in more of a hurry: I'll begin at the end, at Las Pozas and work backwards.

Las Pozas was Edward James' folly. In England it's not unusual to find follies, they're smallish ornamental structures such as a tower, sculptured column, or a fancy quirky gazebo, they're always in the middle of nowhere, constructed by wealthy landowners or members of the aristocracy, and for reasons best known to themselves. Follies. Los Pozas was a folly of huge proportion, a peculiar but beautiful sculpture garden covering acres of Mexican jungle where Edward James had originally intended to breed orchids, but after unexpected frost killed off his plants, he began creating his wonderful folly.

A few examples - for more just type Las Pozas into Google Image search box, or at YouTube (if you can stand the adverts now almost universally inserted before content!)

Edward James was the epitome of an eccentric Englishman. Born in 1907 into a wealthy family background. His grandfather, an American millionaire had married a mining heiress, before the couple moved to England. One of their sons was Edward James' father, who married an English gal said to have been the illegitimate daughter of Edward VII, she became Edward James' mother.
James went to Eton, and Oxford University but was unhappy in both environments, despite his wealth and privilege. He wandered into the then London literary high society of Sitwells, Mitfords and Cunards, Noel Coward and John Betjeman, of Agustus John and Randolph Churchill. James was said to have been charming, lively and a good raconteur, ridiculously generous on occasion, with periods of introversion.

 Hat-tip Mondoblogo
He wrote poetry and some novels, became friends with avant-garde artists of the day, such as Dali and Magritte. He appears in one of Magritte's well-known paintings:

 Not to be Reproduced (La reproduction interdite, 1937)  by  Belgian surrealist René Magritte.  It was commissioned by poet and Magritte patron Edward James and considered to be a portrait of James .

Quinky-dink sidelight - in a DVD set of a past TV series, Eli Stone we're watching currently, during the opening credits what seems like a loose version of this painting is shown. We recognised it as a nod to Magritte's painting, but had no idea of the painting's connection to Edward James - until I began preparing this post.

He met and married dancer Tilly Losch. The marriage was doomed. Tilly sued for separation, charging homosexuality among other things. James countersued, accusing her of adultery with Prince Serge Obolensky. Back then, this was not something a gentleman did. James moved to Europe. Polite society had shunned him. In 1939, with war brewing, he moved to the USA. In Taos, New Mexico, he lived among a community of artists there including D H Lawrence and his wife, Frieda.

Throughout his life he gave money freely to all manner of painters and writers; he built clinics for poor nuns, bought houses in Hollywood and Malibu, land in Mexico, and supported an assortment of freeloaders. In the late 1940s James eventually found his dream situation in the Mexican jungle. There he adopted a local family and set about building a “stairway to imagination”, as he once put it, in plant and stone. He himself lived in a tiny apartment, a bedroom, living room and porch on two stories. On one wall he scrawled in pencil his poem "This Shell": "My house grows like the chambered nautilus...." His huge and incredibly valuable collection of artworks, his lands in England , America and Mexico, houses from California to Scotland all abandoned for a tiny "doll's tree house where a man could hide".

He died in 1984 after a stroke, while on a return visit to Europe. In 1964, Edward James had conveyed his family mansion, West Dean, art collection and Estate to The Edward James Foundation, a charitable educational trust. The creation of such a trust averted the fragmentation that death duties would have dictated and allowed the materialisation of Edward's vision: creating a community where the Estate supports a college dedicated to the arts and crafts. In 1971, Edward James's vision became a reality when the gates of his family Estate were opened under the auspices of West Dean College. (See HERE).

(General information sources HERE and HERE)


Born on 16 August 1907 in the south of England, probably at his family's mansion, West Dean, near Chichester, Sussex.

For brevity's sake I'm looking only for indications of eccentricity in the natal chart of Edward James. It's set for 12 noon as birth time isn't known. Moon would have been somewhere in Scorpio though, whatever time he came into the world.

Eccentricity in astrology is usually reflected by the position of Uranus; here Uranus conjoins Mars in Capricorn, the duo is opposed by Neptune (imagination, creativity) in Cancer. That, I'd say, was the "epicentre" of James' eccentricity. The three intensely personal planets (Sun, Mercury, Venus) in dramatic Leo, though not harmoniously situated in relation to Uranus, had to have input into the way his eccentricity would manifest. What could be more dramatic and theatrical in nature (pure Leo) than his beautiful jungle follies?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Other Side of April

Around mid-month each April, as years pass, I'm reminded that, as well as April showers, April violets, April in Paris, April has often brought more than the usual ration of loss and suffering. I'll not repeat the list again, but instead link to it in my 2010 post:

This year, April has been living up to that title already. There was yesterday's news of 300 people missing after a South Korean ferry had sunk; the Kansas City shootings of the weekend; 22 injured in knife attack at a Regional High School last week; and the ongoing still fruitless search for missing Malaysian Airlines plane with its 239 occupants, lost since 8 March......

I've pondered before on whether there might be any astrological indication as to why this mid-April period so often brings tragedy, misfortune and suffering one way or another. I hadn't, until now, bothered to investigate the Fixed Stars around this mid-April/Aries area of the zodiac. There's a Fixed Star called Baten Kaitos with negative attributes, and relation to Saturn, which could be seen as a likely suspect, it's found at around 21 Aries:

 From Terry Nazon's website

This year, additionally, we have that pesky Cardinal Grand Cross involved too. Let's hope fervently that there will be no further examples to add to the list for April 2014.

Sweet April-time
O cruel April-time!
Year after year returning,
with a brow Of promise,
and red lips with longing paled,
And backward-hidden hands that clutch the joys
Of vanished springs, like flowers.
(By Dinah Maria Mulock - pseudonym Mrs. Craik.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Voices on World Voice Day

Today is Voice Day - who knew?
World Voice Day is a worldwide annual event that takes place on April 16 devoted to the celebration of the phenomenon of voice. (Wikipedia)
Voice Day, of course, is all about actual voice, rather than the metaphoric voice we use online, "voicing" opinion via keyboard generated word.

Human voices in tone and "feel" are as individual as fingerprints - and as astrology's natal charts. To celebrate the day, I've gathered together below some descriptive phrases used by writers and novelists when describing voices of their characters or acquaintances. These do, occasionally, lapse close to silly simile territory, you know, the "Her eyes held the glow of a late-night laptop" kind of thing. Anyway here goes:

“The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Her laughter changed her voice from wind chimes to the jingling of sleigh bells.”
― Leland Dirks, Seven Dogs in Heaven

“The timbre of his voice went into that low register that made my insides curl in on themselves--it was like my uterus was tapping out a happy dance on the rest of my organs.”

― Cora Carmack, Losing It

“Tricky was a plain-faced man with a very handsome voice - a voice like the sound of a clarinet, at once liquid and penetrating, and lovely to listen to.”
― Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet

“She had a voice so husky it could have pulled a dogsled, and the gun she was holding gave me a bad case of barrel envy.”
― Patrick Major Dallas OR

“She was a voice with a body as afterthought, a wry smile that sailed through heavy traffic. Give her a history and she'd disappear."
Eric Packer about Vija Kinski”― Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis

“His voice is deep and gravelly. I once heard one of the girls say that he had the voice of a sex god, but because I've never really heard what a sex god sounds like, I can't verify that.”
― Melina Marchetta, Saving Francesca

“His voice was cloves and nightingales, it took us to spice markets in the Celebs, we drifted with him on a houseboat beyond the Coral Sea. We were like cobras following a reed flute.”
― Janet Fitch, White Oleander

“The voice was cool, drawling, and insolent, but the eyes were something else. She looked about as hard to get as a haircut.”

― Raymond Chandler

“Such a voice this man has. The way he sounds isn't a sound at all. It's a river into which words are thrown.”

― Laura Bynum, Veracity

“The silkiness of his voice was a torturous caress that I could have endured for the rest of my life.”

― Melissa Andrea, Flutter

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pink Moon. & Another tragedy with a link to our town.

We stayed up binge-watching old episodes of Homeland so's we could go out and see the total lunar eclipse in the early hours of this morning. We saw the eclipse during its early stages then again when total and beautifully pink, in a clear sky, from our driveway, temperature around freezing. I've tended not to get excited about eclipses since a solar eclipse occurred slap bang on my natal Sun's degree some years ago -and nothing at all, nothing even vaguely interesting, happened. This one was a lovely sight, anyway.

The lunar eclipse, was in Libra. I read around the net, found this, part of a piece at by David Emery:

As it happens, there's a total lunar eclipse on April 15, 2014, which means we'll experience not only a "Full Pink Moon" (any full moon that occurs in April, per Native American tradition) and a "Paschal Full Moon" (the first full moon after the vernal equinox, per Christian tradition), but also, thanks to the eclipse, a "Blood Moon."

Some Christians attribute a prophetic significance to the Blood Moon of April 15, because it will be the first of a lunar tetrad — four total lunar eclipses in a row — occurring in 2014 and 2015, and because each of those eclipses will fall on an important Jewish holiday, Passover or Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles).

Could it be a sign of the Apocalypse? Most Blood Moon prophecy advocates — Texas megachurch Pastor John Hagee, for one — won't commit to specifics, preferring instead to speak in terms of a "world-shaking event" or "the end of an age." Other Christians aren't so sure the Blood Moon tetrad has any biblical significance at all.
I doubt it - I'd say it's simply part of a pattern.

Yet another horrible shooting incident occurred on Sunday, in Kansas City. Dr W. Corporan, a family doctor in our SW Oklahoma town for many years, and my husband's family GP during that time, was one of the fatalities of the shooting, along with his grandson; a female, killed in a different location was the third victim. Dr Corporan and his grandson were, apparently, attending some auditions being held at the Jewish Center - though they were not themselves Jewish.

Sincere condolences to the families involved.

From Chicago Tribune
A man suspected of killing three people when he opened fire at two Kansas City-area Jewish centers on Sunday afternoon has been formally identified and is expected to face federal hate crimes charges as well as state charges, authorities said on Monday.

Jail records identified the suspect as Frazier Glenn Cross, 73 – a name also used by Frazier Glenn Miller, whom a major civil rights group on Sunday called a former grand dragon for the Ku Klux Klan with an extensive history of hate against Jews, among others.

Cross was arrested Sunday after a shooting spree that killed a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather outside a popular Jewish community center, and a third victim outside a nearby Jewish retirement home.

These recurring incidents are ugly and tragic symptoms of sickness pervading this country. Raw, senseless hatred against some other group based on ethnicity, colour, religion... whatever, flares up regularly. Maybe, though I hope not, it arises from something lodged permanently within the DNA of this nation, a DNA also containing old elements of my own native land, it has to be said. If only it could be bred out!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Music Monday ~ Michael Kamen

I wasn't familiar with the name, but must have been hearing his work regularly over the years without realising it. Michael Kamen, born on 15 April 1948 in New York, died, far too soon, aged 55 in 2003. He was a composer and arranger whose work has graced HM Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee celebrations; Pink Floyd's "The Wall"; dozens of "A" list movies and TV series; rock groups such as Aerosmith, Queen; Dylan, Bowie, Clapton, Pavarotti, ballet.....From an obituary written by Adam Sweeting in The Guardian in 2003: " Even a brief cross-section of his achievements suggests an artist driven by a feverish urge to resist typecasting."

The largely unexplored area between rock and classical music duly became Kamen's stomping ground, and he became a specialist in adding a classical-like sheen and gravitas to projects rooted in rock music. His orchestral arrangements for Pink Floyd's orginal recording of The Wall gave him a formidable calling card, and he subsequently collaborated with the Floyd again on The Final Cut and The Division Bell. When Metallica needed a conductor and arranger for their hook-up with the San Francisco Symphony, Kamen was the obvious choice, and the orchestrated version of their The Call Of Ktulu won him a Grammy in 2001.

With his flair for large-scale musical spectacle, he also found a natural home in the cinema. "He had a phenomenal talent for motion pictures," commented director and producer Richard Donner. "Who do you turn to when you need great music? You turn to Michael Kamen.".................................

Kamen, whose frizzy hair and beard betrayed his underlying hippy-era values - even when he was wearing a dinner suit - cherished an idealistic belief in the beneficial properties of music, as he explained to me in 1995 at a Pavarotti And Friends event in Italy. Though shortly due onstage, he was happy to sit and chat about opera, rock'n'roll, politics and why he enjoyed living in London, where he had had a home since 1982.

"Music has a great capability to heal and a responsibility to heal," he argued. "It's not just to make people rich, and it's not just to make people dance. It's to celebrate our ability to live in peace and harmony."

He put the sentiment into practice by establishing the Mr Holland's Opus Foundation in 1997. It was named after that movie to which he wrote the soundtrack, in which Richard Dreyfuss played a teacher dedicated to inspiring his students with music, and was designed to raise money to supply musical instruments to children.
He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996, his death was due to heart attack

Freddie Mercury & Michael Kamen


No time of birth is known. The chart below is set for 12 noon, New York City,
15 April 1948. Moon position not exact, ascendant angle would not be not as shown, unless...born at or near noon.

Music was his gift, his craft and his passion - Venus, planet of the arts has to play a leading part in his nativity. Let's see.....Venus was in versatile, eclectic Gemini at the time of his birth and in harmonious trine to Neptune (creativity) in Venus-ruled Libra. Venus was also in helpful sextile to communicative Mercury in enthusiastic, energetic Aries, with his natal Sun. This little lot is almost enough - but a little more is required to reflect his showman side. Mr Kamen wasn't the kind of composer/arranger who sits in his studio quietly beavering away at his compositions. He was often seen conducting with much vigour, he appears to have relished mixing and matching with the era's musical celebrities....Leo? Yes, he had a stellium (cluster of 3 planets) in Leo: Mars, Saturn and Pluto. Not a particularly benign sounding trio, I have to say, but Leo's shining goodwill had to have warmed them some! The Leo trio was in harmonious trine to Mercury and/or Sun in Aries, lending Leo's talent for the spotlight to Mr Kamen's two most personal planets in Aries where they would be welcomed with enthusiasm!

I think Michael Kamen looked very Leo-ish, with that wonderful mane of hair. Perhaps Leo was rising or at mid-heaven as he was born.

There are many videos featuring clips of his movie themes at YouTube, but somehow, without the movies' stories and images, context is missing, so his music is not experienced at its best there. The two videos chosen below represent two very different sides of Michael Kamen's work.