Friday, December 31, 2010

The Swan

Tundra Swan

I've been waiting eagerly for this one...Seven Swans A-Swimming.


Gift Tally - Day 7
Partridges - 7
Pear Trees - 7
Turtle Doves - 12
French Hens - 15
Colly (Black) Birds - 16
Ring-necked Pheasant - 15
Geese (Laying) - 12
Swans (Swimming) - 7

Sacred to the Greek God Apollo (and Aphrodite, as well as a few other deities from other pantheons, I'm sure), the swan has been the inspiration for artists in many genres, across thousands of years, and remains so today.  It is no wonder that the creature sacred to the God of Music and Patron of the Muses would be such a...well...muse to painters, composers, choreographers, poets, etc. 

From themystica.com:


     When Apollo entered the world, sacred swans circled the island seven times for it was the seventh day of the month. At once Zeus lavished many gifts upon his son including a golden miter, a chariot drawn by swans, and a lyre since legend has it at birth Apollo said, "Dear to me shall be the lyre and bow, and in oracles I shall reveal to men the inexorable will of Zeus." The god commanded his son to find sanctuary at Delphi. But before taking Apollo to Delphi, the swans flew him north to their own country on the edge of the ocean, which was home to the Hyperborean people, who was a supremely happy race for whom life was sweet.


I wonder if the original writers of the song knew the legend about the swans circling the island seven times, on the seventh day of the month, or if that's just a coincidence (or maybe Apollo's influence on the writer, so long ago). At any rate, it's a nice synchronicity.



Apollo and the Nine Muses, Gustave Moreau, 1856

This is one of my favorite paintings of Apollo and the Muses.  I could go on and on about Apollo, as He is one of my Patrons, but let's get back to the swan.

Without question, when someone says the word "ballet," chances are that most people (whether they know it or not) conjure an image from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky.  Swan Lake is full of magic - an evil sorcerer's curse, a magical lake composed of a mother's tears, shapeshifting - in addition to the enchanting score and (hopefully) brilliant dancing.  With the advent of the recently released film Black Swan, this classic is once again in the forefront of pop culture; however, this ballet is usually included in the repertoires of most well-known ballet companies and is an audience favorite.

This variation is from Act III of Swan Lake, and introduces the Black Swan, Odile, to the story.  The only thing you need to know is that the Prince has fallen in love earlier in the ballet with Odette, not Odile. It gets confusing. Wikipedia explains it better than I could:

The Prince returns to the castle to attend the ball. Von Rothbart arrives in disguise with his own daughter Odile. He has made Odile identical to Odette in all respects except that she wears black rather than white. The prince mistakes her for Odette, dances with her, and proclaims to the court that he intends to make her his wife. Only a moment too late, Siegfried sees the real Odette and realizes his mistake. (The method in which Odette appears varies. In some versions she arrives at the castle, while in other versions von Rothbart shows Siegfried a magical vision of her.)



One of my favorite productions of Swan Lake was the Matthew Bourne production, which was around in the early Nineties.  It featured all-male swans, portraying the more aggressive side of swans (they can sometimes be pretty frightening and brutal to each other) as well as the powerful grace.  It was absolutely mesmerizing to see the ballet interpreted in this manner.  This occurs in Act I, when the Prince first meets the White Swan.


And with those bits of beauty, I will conclude; but not before wishing all of you a blessed, peaceful, and prosperous New Year...may it be better than the last.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What's good for the goose...


After a brief lull in my resolve, we continue with today's installment of free-associating the Twelve Days of Christmas song.  Yesterday was "five golden rings," which probably meant ringed pheasant, and that's about all I'm going to say about that.

Today we have Six Geese A Laying.  Obviously those with a dirtier mind (like me) would think that means six geese in the moment of passion, but it's pretty clear that it means six geese in the process of laying eggs.

Goose eggs, incidentally, have extremely high levels of cholesterol, as compared to chicken eggs - more that 1000 milligrams.  I would advise not including them in a 4-egg omlet anytime soon.

So, in an effort to tie this posting more in line with a magical perspective, what could we glean magically from 6 geese producing eggs?

For many of us, I'm sure the first experience we had with magic was in the form of nursery rhymes and/or fairy tales, and who better to introduce us than Mother Goose.



Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.
Jack's mother came in,
And caught the goose soon,
And mounting its back,
Flew up to the moon.


Mother Goose bears a striking resemblance to a witch, to me.  Pointy hat, buckled shoes, red cape...makes one wonder.  Not to mention being in possession of a goose large enough to ride upon while carrying enamored infants.

In all seriousness, the characters included in the Mother Goose rhymes - Jack (in all his incarnations), Wee Willie Winkie, Humpty Dumpty, etc. - have a place in the magic(k)al Universe, don't they?  People living in shoes, eggs that talk, anthropomorphic playing cards - those are all denizens of a magic(k)al realm for sure.

The origins of the Mother Goose rhymes is another one that is surrounded with much speculation and different theories, not unlike the origin of the "12 days" song.  The Wikipedia article is here, if you are interested.

What was your childhood favorite Mother Goose rhyme?  I have to say that I had forgotten many of them, but reading through the list and many of the rhymes certainly took me back to being a little boy with my nose in a book.

Not much has changed!

Gift Tally - Day 6
Partridges - 6
Pear Trees - 6
Turtle Doves - 10
French Hens - 12
Colly (Black) Birds - 12
Ring-necked Pheasant - 10
Geese (Laying) - 6




Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is it so wrong...

...that I've lost interest in the Twelve Days of Christmas?  Today would be "Five Golden Rings" which are actually ringed pheasants, but I don't really have the inclination...


Gift Tally - Day 5

Partridges - 5
Pear Trees - 5
Turtle Doves - 8
French Hens - 9
Colly (Black) Birds - 8
Ring-necked Pheasant - 5

It's becoming rather evident that the culture in which this song originated was rather foul-centric, with regard to food.  And we have yet to get to the geese and swans!

I'm starting to rethink the fun this was going to be, and wondering if the idea that started this was a piece of bad shrimp that I had on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

4th Day - 4 Colly Birds...and yes, that's correct (or was.)


Now, with regard to my previous mentions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" being an encoded-with-Christian-meaning song, I found a wonderful article on Snopes.com that basically debunks that theory and sets the record straight.  I suppose it's another example of a little bit of advantageous-Christian-incorporation for the masses.


If we were still subscribing to this false theory, the four "calling" birds would represent the four gospels/evangelists of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Mind you, I realize that the actual Christmastide period has real religious significance with regard to the Feasts of the different Saints, etc. especially in Eastern Christianity (link); and it is not my intent to cast any aspersions on the Christian faith (I'm a tolerant Pagan, after all).  However, it is interesting to get to the real (as far as we know it) origin of this little Christmas ditty.

And (as mentioned in the Snopes article), in the "lost in translation" category, it would seem that the four calling birds were originally "4 Colly Birds" - blackbirds.

"Colly" literally means "coal dust, soot, or grime."

Apparently, anything with feathers was fair game to be served up for dinner.  Knowing that, Sing a Song of Sixpence - the childhood rhyme containing "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" - makes quite a bit more sense, since blackbird was evidently a delicious entree in Elizabethan England, and obviously in France as well.

I'll bet it tastes like chicken.  But I would never eat a blackbird, ever.  They are far too mysterious and magic(k)al to me.  And Odin, while not one of my patrons, would nonetheless certainly be displeased.

Incidentally, one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, A Pocket Full of Rye, features Sing a Song of Sixpence heavily in the plot, complete with dead blackbirds.  The murder "weapon" in one instance is poison from the berries of the Yew, a tree with a great deal of magickal significance and lore attached to it.  It's one of her mysteries featuring Miss Marple, and I highly recommend it; it's a good, fast read.

Gift Tally - Day 4
Partridges - 4
Pear Trees - 4
Turtle Doves - 6
French Hens - 6
Colly (Black) Birds - 4



Monday, December 27, 2010

3rd Day - Trois Poules Français


I don't know about you, but this certainly inspires me on a Monday morning.

So yesterday I posted that the song "Twelve Days" was originally believed to be a "game song" like "Grandmother's Trunk," that probably originated in France.  There is also a theory (although much more modern, and probably not historically accurate - although there is debate on this point) that the song's meaning is Christian in nature and was used to teach young Catholics the virtues of the religion.  If so, then today's 3 French hens would represent faith, hope, and love.

Well, if this guy were my love, I would hope he would be faithful.

"Hen" can actually refer to the following (and some of these are a bit surprising):

1.  A female game bird (domesticated foul) including chicken, ducks, and turkeys
2.  A female octopus (!)
3.  A female lobster (!)

...and a slang term for "woman."  I don't know that I necessarily like that one, but the allusion made for a wonderful inspiration in the musical "The Music Man."  The gossiping ladies are even costumed and directed to move in a way that suggests a gathering of hens.



Makes me smile every time.

You might be asking yourself, "what does this have to do with spirituality, magic(k), or anything metaphysical?"  Well, I personally think that everything is connected in the Universe, and I find a little bit of joy in the fact that a single topic as absurd as "three french hens" - with a little exploration - can lead me to a very hot artistic interpretation, a religious meaning, interesting scientific terminology for the female of a species, and a wonderful number from the American musical theatre.

So there.

Gift Tally - Day Three
Partridges - 3
Pear Trees - 3
Turtle Doves - 4
French Hens - 3

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The 2nd Day of Christmas - Two Turtle Doves

Two Turtle Doves - aren't they lovely?

In an attempt to constantly strive for further knowledge and to educate myself on things about which I have always heard but don't really know much, I'm beginning a series on The Twelve Days of Christmas. Celebrations and holiday customs of all faiths and cultures have always fascinated me, and this is one that has been in my pop-culture brain since birth, and yet I haven't ever explored the actual traditions of the twelve days of Christmas proper, otherwise known as Christmastide.

Christmastide is specifically a Christian-oriented celebration, of course, but its practice differs among the many different sects of Christianity, and is rarely celebrated today.  The practice was obviously more important in earlier times, when end-of-year feasting was tantamount to getting through the long winter months.  Here's a link to the Wikipedia article, for those interested


The origins of the song vary as well, but most seem to think that it was a "game-song," much like our childhood song, "Grandmother's Trunk."  Each verse adds another "thing" to remember and continue the song, "In grandmother's trunk I found a blue bonnet.  (2nd person) In grandmother's trunk I found a blue bonnet and two petticoats," etc., etc.  

It is important to note that the particular gifts that are given in the song have nothing really to do with the actual custom of the twelve days, but it's interesting to blog.  I hope.  Let me know if it's not. :)

So the first day is Christmas Day - which was yesterday, of course - and begins with the ubiquitous partridge in a pear tree.  Here's a partridge...


...that is rather plump.  Partridges are members of the pheasant family, and could well be delicious.  This one looks like he would be rather tasty, if you're into that sort of thing.  I digress.  Here's a pear tree...


...well, it's a pear on a tree, at least.  I think my gentle readers get the idea.  I do love pears, and a favorite Sunday dessert for our family was "pear salad."  I'm wondering if any of you have had this, or if it's strictly a regional recipe from the South:

Southern Pear Salad (1 serving)

1 pear, peeled and cored, sliced in half (or two halves, canned pears)
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)

Place pear halves on salad plate.   The dollop of mayonnaise goes in the center "hole" where the core once was.  Sprinkle grated cheese over the mayonnaise and pear.  Enjoy!

*****

It's really quite delicious, and I encourage you to give it a try.  Personally, I prefer the canned pears to the fresh for this recipe (only).  I suppose it's because that's what I was served as a child.

Turtle doves are, of course, a variety of dove, the bird symbolically associated with love, various Goddesses (Aphrodite/Venus, for example), and all things romantic.  There's not much more to say, really, about that.  However, I did come across a lovely painting featuring a turtle dove for your enjoyment...


The Turtle Dove

Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1823-1903), French born British painter.


Incidentally, according to the song, the lucky recipient of the gifts  - as of the second day - would have the following:

Gift Tally - Day 2
Partridges - 2
Pear Trees - 2
Turtle Doves - 2

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out after the twelve days have concluded.  It would seem to me that she or he would have had to have a rather large manor house to hold all the booty, so to speak.

I would like to attempt a "giveaway" somehow associated to this string of postings, concluding with a gift sent to the lucky winner at the end of the Twelve Days.  However, I'm new at this, don't have many followers, and need advice!  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Tomorrow...three French Hens!  I'm so excited...




Friday, December 24, 2010

Verse: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas


This is becoming a yearly tradition for me, to post this.  I don't usually like to repeat posts, but I do love it so - and find it to be quite magical - so I hope that it conjures visions of sugar plums in your mind.  I'm wishing you all the best on this holiday!



'Twas the Night Before Christmas


by Clement Clarke Moore


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Verse: A Yule Poem


Said the Holly King

"Take my staff," said the Holly King,
"for you are the victor this day, brother.

Your wand of Oak and Acorn
Strikes truer than my frozen canes of red and green.

But celebrate me today, one last time,
Before you begin your reign over the earth;

Before the tiny spark that timidly glows in the belly of our Sweet Mother
Flames anew, guided by your solid step.

Hail me with song, with robust food and drink,
And wrap your homes with my colors one last time in remembrance.

And remember, dear brother, that I will return,
When my leaves again are sharp and my face flushed red with youth.

I, too, shall reign again
When the light begins to wane."

CM
December 21, 2010



A blessed Yule to each of you, and wishes of Peace for the Oak King's reign.

artwork:  "The Holly King" by Mickie Mueller, www.mickiemuellerart.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zeus and the Solstice

It's been raining here for about three or four days.  This is a constant, slow, soaking rain that looks misty and permeates everything.  

My garden loves it.




It's fitting, corresponding with this, the darkest time of the year.  Since I live in a place that typically doesn't get snow, the rain is somewhat of a corollary. It's unfortunate that I might not get to actually see the upcoming full moon and eclipse on the Solstice, but I know it will still occur, cloud cover or not.

Zeus is the God of the Heavens - storm, sky, rain, thunder, lightning.  In ancient Greece, priests of Zeus used to dip oak branches (sacred to Zeus as well) into a holy spring in order to appeal for rain.  I can't seem to find what they did to make it stop raining.

What is the weather like in your part of the world?  What are your plans for the Solstice?

Friday, December 17, 2010

du jour: Saturnalia


Today marks the Roman festival of Saturnalia.  Originally celebrated on a single day, then three, then a week, this period of revelry is said to have inspired the modern day carnivales.  Key to the festivities was the switching of roles between servant and master.  As with many originally pagan feasts and celebrations, the custom trickled down and was adapted by Christianity into Misrule.

Saturn's Greek counterpart is Cronus (Kronos), of course, and the significance of His/Their mythos is great.  I would love to write more about this at the moment, but cannot - Chronos ("Father Time") is not on my side this morning (Who, incidentally, is a different deity that Cronus; it's somewhat confusing, but clear once one researches the mythology).  However, for now, I post the links to Wikipedia and encourge taking a look:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronus


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tea, anyone?


I was talking about this photo with a friend yesterday, and I just had to post it.We had tea with two other witches yesterday afternoon, and we laughed about this on the way home.  Hysterical.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Abundance and Gratitude


This was my Tarot draw today:  The Empress from the Robin Wood Tarot.  I don't usually share my Tarot draws, but today I feel particularly joyful.  She rarely appears for me, so I know it's an important sign when she arrives.  I drew this early this morning after I awoke, and I didn't realize (though I should have) how significant a draw this card would be for the day.  

They always are significant, without a doubt.  We just sometimes don't realize the importance or personal meaning at the time.  Sometimes I go back weeks, even months, later to consult my Tarot record and say to myself, "oh, NOW that makes sense!"  But I digress...

Today I had one of the most enjoyable afternoons I can remember for a while, sharing ideas and tea with new friends; filling a space in my life that has needed to be occupied for a long time.  It was wonderful and joyous.  

I also am grateful for the increasing number of followers that I have here. Last year, when I began this blog I was in a very bad place, and as a result I felt as if my ideas were just going out into the ether and disappearing.  Now, I'm making new, online acquaintances; sharing thoughts, perspectives and jokes, and mutual admiration and edification.  It's good for the soul, as I'm sure you'll agree.  Thanks to each of you who are out there, reading these ramblings.

The Empress portends abundance, fertility, the blessings of the earth and nature.  She is a woman of authority and compassion, spinning the thread of life with a contented, knowing smile.  

What have your experiences been with The Empress, if you have a daily Tarot practice?  What message, or feelings, or energy do you perceive from this card?  I would love to hear from you.

Thanks again for stopping by my little strand of the web.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yuletide Altar


I finally got it up and running.  Thankfully.


There's a lesson to be learned this evening for me, however.  I was somewhat rushing to get this done - clipping the holly (it's really pyracanthas) and the ivy, cleaning the room, getting all the candles ready - and I was really scattered when I began my ritual.  Not good.

I spilled bayberry oil, which proceeded to soak a spot as big as an orange THROUGH both cloths and to the wood below.  Essential oils eat right through varnish, so I had to rush to get everything - yes everything - off, clean the spot, and then put everything back.  I finished as well as I could, and left feeling a bit deflated.

Lesson for me - don't rush.  I should have taken a big breath after assembling everything, rather than pushing forward and trying to be in a relaxed, spiritual mindset when I wasn't ready.  

Hopefully the Powers That Be will appreciate the effort, if not exactly the execution.

du jour: The Feast of Santa Lucia



I am passionate about the holidays, both here in the United States and internationally.  I find it extremely interesting to learn about festivals in other cultures and explore the myths, legends, and traditions that led to them.  The comparisons around this particular holiday season are most exciting because so many customs are borrowed and shared among different countries and faiths, and many of the customs originate in paganism.

Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia, 283-304) was certainly not pagan; in fact, she was persecuted because she refused to marry a pagan in an arranged marriage. It seems that she wanted to remain a virgin, gave instruction for her dowry to be given to the poor, and when her betrothed caught wind of all this (and heard the erroneous news from a gossiping nurse that Lucy had found a better man), the spurned Groom-to-be ran to the governor of Sicily and revealed that Lucy was a Christian.  At that time, being a Christian was a no-no.

Rather like being a pagan is now...sigh...but I digress...

So, since Lucy wanted to remain a virgin, was a Christian, and didn't want to marry, as her punishment the governor ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the Emperor.  She refused, of course, and was then sentenced to a brothel, to be repeatedly defiled.  That's when things became interesting.

The soldiers tried to carry her off to the whore-house, but she became incredibly heavy and they were unable to budge her, regardless of how many men tried. They even resorted to a team of oxen, but to no avail.

She was then stabbed in the throat to stop the constant denouncement of her captors, but that didn't work either.  She neither died, nor stopped speaking. Burning didn't work either.

In medieval times, around the 15th Century, another torture was added to her martyrdom legend.  In some tales the guards gouged out her eyes with a fork; in others, she gouged out her own after they were admired by her pagan bridegroom.  Regardless of how she actually lost her eyes, this is the reason that St. Lucy (whose name, incidentally, contains the Latin root lux, meaning "light") became the patron saint of the blind.  In many artistic depictions of St. Lucy, she can be seen carrying a platter holding her eyeballs.  After her martyrdom, she was rewarded with new and improved eyes by God.

Now, I know all you gentle readers are asking yourself, "How does this have anything to do with the holidays?" 

Saint Lucy is one of the few saints celebrated by Scandinavian Lutherans, who take part in Saint Lucy's Day celebrations on December 13th, and they retain many elements of Germanic paganism.   It is mainly celebrated in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, but festivities also take place in Italy, Malta, a few eastern European countries, and even here in the US in states with large Scandinavian/Scandinavian ancestry populations.

In traditional celebrations, St. Lucy is portrayed by a young woman with lights and sweets, usually wearing a crown of candles.  Others process behind her, usually, each holding a single candle.  Wearing a white robe and red sash, the candles represent both the light renewed (sound familiar?) and the fire that failed to burn Lucy at her execution.



Celebrations are held on December 13th because this day was commonly thought to be the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, until the late 19th century.  The light of Santa Lucia is thought to help people survive the long winter that is only halfway over, in a part of the world that is at its darkest during this season.

But that's not all!  This is directly from Wikipedia:

The pre-Christian holiday of Yule, or jól, was the most important holiday in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. Originally the observance of the winter solstice, and the rebirth of the sun, it brought about many practices that remain in the Advent and Christmas celebrations today. The Yule season was a time for feasting, drinking, gift-giving, and gatherings, but also the season of awareness and fear of the forces of the dark.


Lussinatta, the Lussi Night, was December 13.  Then Lussi, a female being with evil traits, like a female demon or witch, was riding through the air with her followers, called Lussiferda.  This itself might be an echo of the myth of the Wild Hunt, called Oskoreia in Scandinavia, found across Northern, Western, and Central Europe.

Between Lussi Night and Yule, trolls and evil spirits, in some accounts also the spirits of the dead, were thought to be active outside. It was particularly dangerous to be out during Lussi Night. Children who had done mischief had to take special care, since Lussi could come down through the chimney and take them away, and certain tasks of work in the preparation for Yule had to be finished, or else the Lussi would come to punish the household. The tradition of Lussevaka – to stay awake through the Lussinatt to guard oneself and the household against evil, has found a modern form through throwing parties until daybreak. Another company of spirits might come riding through the night around Yule itself, journeying through the air, over land and water.


It is tempting to look at Father Christmas’ journey with his reindeer as a commercial relic inspired by this superstition.
***
So there you have it - the synthesis of a Christian martyr, a Scandinavian witch, the observance of the Solstice, and the cross-cultural struggle between the darkness and the light (with a dash of Santa Claus and flying reindeer for good measure) all wrapped up the nice, shiny package of a modern day festival.  

Holidays aren't ever as simple as they seem, and - to me - the complexities make them all the more rich and wonderful. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In the Land of Sweets...



It is called a variety of names - "Dance of the Reed-Flutes," "Dance of the Mirlitons,"  "Danish Marzipan Shepherdesses," "Pastoral" or simply "Marzipan."

This delightful variation, in the second act of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite, is from the acclaimed American Ballet Theatre's 1977 television production starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland.  I do not know the names of these particular dancers, but their technique is wonderful and the performance is enchanting.

Enjoy!

Quote of the Day

Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.

H. G. Wells
(21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946)

British author, considered "the Father of Modern Science Fiction"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blue Moon - New Year


Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. 
Middle age is when you're forced to. 

Bill Vaughn


Last night I watched the ball drop in NYC (I live in Pacific time zone, so it was 9pm here) and kissed my partner.  One hour later, at about 10pm, I was in the bed - sound asleep.  So much for ringing in the New Year.

But it was fitting, my letting Old Man '09 slip away quietly beneath the Blue Moon.  In past years, I would have fretted, likely, that I wasn't doing anything "special" or celebrating appropriately.  Thankfully, there was no fretting on my part last evening.  I made sure the New Year came to Times Square and had faith that it would make it across the country without my personal psychic assistance.

2009 was a difficult year for me on so many levels, and I really feel that I'm coming out of the funk of that year, shedding the skin that was the last twelve months.  It was a time of unparalleled personal growth, and a time of deep despair upon several occasions, but it was all worth it and ultimately meant to be.  And I'm eager and excited to see what the coming year will bring; I'm hopeful, and happy. 

I wish all of you (few) readers a peaceful, prosperous, and wondrous 2010.