Friday, December 26, 2014

Halloween Protestants - Le Roi Huguet

On both this blog and my red hair blog I've been discussing the relationship between Halloween and Protestantism. I've basically been making the claim that many of the traditions we associate with Halloween have their roots (either wholly or in-part) in the Protestant movement. For example, I've mentioned the possibility that the Halloween pumpkin may be a totemic symbol of both red hair and Martin Luther.

Anyway, yesterday I came across another little piece of evidence that these two historic strands are entwined. The following passage comes from a book titled Nostradamus: A Life and Myth by a writer named John Hogue;
Now they called a Calvinist a Huguenot. The label came from le roi Huguet,  a character taken from a popular folk tale from Tours. He was the ghost of a wicked king who chose not to pass his nocturnal penance in Purgatory, but instead haunted the night, waylaying lonely travelers on country roads and rattling the shutters and doors of decent people's homes, disturbing their sleep. It so happened that the Calvinists of Tours gathered at night to pray at a city gate known as Roi-Hugon. Priests and parishioners across France reveled in the pun that identified Protestants shuffling off after dark to pray and hobnob with the unrepentant shade of King Huguet. The Huguenots (freely translated as the "followers of Huguet") were soon compared to the mythological ghouls and ghosts who once a year, on All Soul's Day, ventured out from their tombs for a night of unholy Halloween mischief before settling back into their graves.
This is a fascinating little bit of evidence. It stands to reason that what would be used as an insult by Catholic enemies would be worn as a badge of honour by the Protestants it was aimed at (at least secretly, if not openly).

It's interesting to note that the Calvinists were praying at "a city gate known as Roi-Hugon". According to Wiktionary (French Wiktionary :p) Hugon means "man of spirit" and derives from the Old High German word hugu meaning intelligence.

It also makes sense that Protestants would look to a king that "chose not to pass his nocturnal penance in Purgatory", as Protestants rejected the notion of Purgatory.

Were these Protestants worshipping intelligence and human reason?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Meaning of Yule

Merry Vex-mas. Today, quite fittingly, I've been checking out the word Yule. I was thinking that maybe the Y might substitute for J making it another ju-word - as in Jew/Dieu as I've mentioned in posts before, or as in July/Julius as I've likewise mentioned.

Anyway, in literally the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page for Yule we get this line;
The earliest references to Yule are by way of indigenous Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) or Jiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule).
Almost instantly we come across this strange fact that Germanic folk used to have a mid-winter month named Jéola or Jiuli, as opposed to our mid-summer month July. And we get the J-spelling as well to boot.

Incidentally, in Denmark, Norway and Sweden Yule is also rendered Jul.

Further down on the Wikipedia page we then get this;
Among many others, the long-bearded god Odin bears the names jólfaðr (Old Norse 'Yule father') and jólnir (Old Norse 'the Yule one').
'Yule father' reminds me a little bit of Ju-pater (pater meaning father) - Jupiter. The long-beard reminds me of Father Christmas (: - maybe there was an overlap between all these gods?

If you can call Father Christmas a god that is.

Also, I've mentioned before that Lammas Day, August 1st was known as Gule of August in medieval England and Scotland. Maybe at some point in history Yule was a biannual thing, occurring in both summer and winter, hence the July months in both summer and Germanic winter.

Julius Season.

Incidentally, I was also reading about Mōdraniht - "Mothers'-Night", an event held by pagan Anglo-Saxons on what is now Christmas Eve. Very little is known about it and the main source for it is the historian Bede (who I'm generally sceptical of). Anyway, I was thinking of bringing it back for all the stressed-out-by-Christmas women I know - Vex-mas :p

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Konstellation Konsonants: Part 9 - D

[This will make more sense if you start here; Constellation Consonants Part 1 - hopefully anyway :) ]

Eferythin's startin to sound Dyerman now. I feel like I'm readin and writin Anklo-Sakson. I'm now onto my final konsonant. After this there's dyust twelfe left.

The one I'm remofin this time is kwite klose to my heart - D. D and T sound similar to me, so one is koin to hafe to ko. The reason I feel a personal affinity with this one is that people are forefer tdyastisin me for miksin these two letters up. I'll often say "I'm going t' d' shops" and that sort of think. This'll often result in someone tellin me "'s the shops", emphasisin the th sound. I think it's maype a konsekwense of my Teesside aksent ...or maype dyust a konsekwense of my dyeneral disrekard for sosial konfention.

Anyway D and T are so kommon in the Enklish lankwadye I kan see remofin one of them pein a real proplem. Drain will pekome train - that's not koin to work. Dear will pekome tear. Efen if they are put into the kontekst of a sentense it's still koin to pe somewhat konfusin. This is where I should propaply throw in the towel and aksept that I'm not koin to ket it lower than thirteen.

It's also koin to play hafok with my CH sound. Much pekame mutj, then mutdy, now it's koin to pe mutty or muddy. As is eferythin else. So I kuess it's kameofer.

It's peen an interestin eksperiment thow. Maype one I'll hafe another krak at later. It's also kot me thinkin that maype I koult kreate a sekret kote or lankwatye paset on this strippet town fersion of Enklish. Maype usin thirteen or so konsonants plus one or more fowels.

Anyway, this is what I entet up with.

1. F
2. H
3. K
4. L
5. M
6. N
7. P
8. R
9. S
10. T
11. W
12. Y

Ant this is what the poem Remember py Christina Rossetti looks like renteret this way;

Rememper me when I am kone away,
kone far away into the silent lant;
When you kan no more holt me py the hant,
Nor I half turn to ko yet turnin stay.
Rememper me when no more tay py tay
You tell me of our future that you plann't:
Only rememper me; you unterstant
It will pe late to kounsel then or pray.
Yet if you shoult forket me for a while
Ant afterwarts rememper, to not kriefe:
For if the tarkness ant korruption leafe
A festitye of the thowts that onse I hat,
petter py far you shoult forket ant smile
Than that you shoult rememper ant pe sat

Konstellation Konsonants: Part 8 - G

I'm now going to attempt to remofe G from the alphapet - sorry Freemasons. This will pe the eighth konsonant I'fe remofed and will leafe me with dyust thirteen.

G to my ears is fery similar to K, only more guttural. In many ways it's a K from the throat. Again, like my last post apout P and B, the similarity only goes so far and the differense is kwite notiseaple, making it something of a klumsy supstitute.

H is also from the throat, so I was wondering if I kould maype use HK as a proksy for G. Howefer, I'm hafing diffikulty sounding those two sounds out with my mouth to make them form a G, so maype that would pe tdyeating a little. It's an option at least though.

Trying out the G = K supstitution we get stuff like; goal pekoming koal, gate pekoming kate, guard pekoming kuard. It doesn't really work too well, put I guess I'm going to hafe to make do.

Open the karden kate.

Kreet the kracious kentlewoman.

In fakt, gentlewoman is usually spoken to sound more like jentlewoman, We write gentle, put we say jentle. We write giant, put we pronounse it jiant. We write genius, put say jenius. And, of kourse, garden in Frentdy is jardin, so there's klearly some krossofer petween G and J there as well.

I'll now hafe to say that G = K or J. Howefer, sinse we skrapped the letter J two posts ago and put in its plase the letters DY we'll hafe to say that G = K or DY.

Gentlewoman now pekomes Dyentlewoman. Giant pekomes Dyiant. Genius pekomes Dyenius.

Kreet the kracious Dyentlewoman.

That at least sounds a little petter.

One final think apout G I should mention is that a lot of the words we use end in ing. Howefer, I think in a lot of kases the G kan dyust pe iknored. We already iknore it kwite a lot anyway - I'm feelin' fine, and so on and so forth. [Eksept the third word in this parakraph, of kourse, whitdy was supposed to pe thing :p maype that's a kase for HK pein used?]

Dyust one more konsonant to ket rid of now.

Konstellation Konsonants Part 9 - D

Konstellation Konsonants: Part 7 - B

I really think I'm starting to hit the wall now. I'fe been rakking my brains thinking of where to go nekst. So mutdy so that I was efen thinking about it when I woke up in the early hours of last light after a nightmare.

I'm kwikly running out of rope and don't hafe many options left so I think I'm going to hafe to get rid of B. This is where we get into the realms of the ridikulous though. B to me sounds fery similar to P. Howefer, they're not similar enough to be anywhere near identikal. Nowhere near as similar as F and V or S and Z.

If you mouth out the letters P and B you'll notise that P is pretty mutdy a B but with a 'push' - the air is pushed out the mouth a bit more. Howefer, a P-word kan sound like a B-word and fise fersa. Plackperry Bie. Burple Bigs. Plue Pirds. I think people would notise the differense though. Plus it looks kwite silly :p

I suppose I kould get rid of either B or P on this logik, but I'll lose B and keep P simply bekause I think P okkurs more frekwently in the English language.

This gets me down to fourteen konsonants now, put it's getting to the point where efen I'm struggling to understand what I'fe written. And I still need two more to reatdy my aim of twelfe. The only two I kan think of at the moment though take us efen further into the madness :(

It should pe fun though :)

Konstellation Konsonants Part 8 - G

Friday, December 5, 2014

Konstellation Konsonants: Part 6 - J

This time I'm going to attempt to remofe J from the alphabet. J is pretty mutj the last konsonant in the English language that doesn't okkur frekwently that I'fe yet to remofe. After that things are going to get really trikky and I'm going to struggle massifely.

In my last post I used J, along with T, as a substitute for the CH sound in the word much - mutj. So remofing it will kause problems here as well. Hopefully things will substitute seamlessly as I re-render eferything.

J is pretty similar to Y. The J in John sounds similar to Y, the J in Johann sounds identikal.

The J in John to my ears sounds a little like D then Y - Dyohn. So I think I'll replase J with DY or simply Y where appropriate.

June kan bekome Dyune, July kan bekome Dyuly, January kan be Dyanuary. Julius Caesar kan bekome Dyulius Saesar and our little lord Jesus kan bekome Dyesus.

How's it going to work for much though. My mutj rendering now bekomes mutdy. Hmm, not kwite right. This is getting hard. I'll hafe to leafe it like that for now though I guess. Maybe I'll get used to it. God knows whitdy letter I'm going to remofe nekst though.

We now stand at:

1. B
2. C = K or S
3. D
4. F
5. G
6. H
7. J = Y or DY
8. K
9. L
10. M
11. N
12. P
13. Q = K
14. R
15. S
16. T
17. V = F
18. W
19. X = S or KS
20. Y
21. Z = S


1. B
2. D
3. F
4. G
5. H
6. K
7. L
8. M
9. N
10. P
11. R
12. S
13. T
14. W
15. Y

Konstellation Konsonants: Part 5 - Q

I'm going to make things a little easier for myself this time and remofe Q. Q is one of the less frequently used letters in the English language, so hopefully getting rid of it won't be too notiseable.

Q, of kourse, is normally always followed by a U and again, like C, it tends to hafe a K sound. Queue sounds identikal to cue - now both bekome kueue and kue with my stripped down English alphabet.

Queen bekomes Kueen, or maybe Kween. In fakt, that probably makes more sense phonetikally, I'll go with that. Quick bekomes kwik, quiet bekomes kwiet, quack bekomes kwak.

The kwik kween kwietly kwaked.

I'fe now remofed fife. We're down to just siksteen konsonants now. It's going to be fery trikky getting mush lower though.

In fakt, I'fe hit a snag in that last sentense with my attempts to render the word much. In part 3 I stated that C kould be substituted for either a K or an S. Howefer, when it komes to the Ch sound in the word much neither letter seems to kwite (:p) work.

To my ears Ch has more of a T sound. Maybe T + J in fakt. Tj, mutj - does that work? For the time being I'll go with that.

It's going to be fery trikky getting mutj lower though.

Konstellation Konsonants Part 6 - J

Constellation Consonants: Part 4 - C

The nekst consonant I think I'll remofe is C. It makes sense to remofe C as normally a hard C sounds identical to a K and a soft C sounds much like an S. The problem is C is a bit more common than the other letters I'fe gotten rid of so far (X, V, and Z), so things are going to start to look a little crasy :p I'll efen hafe to start spelling consonant differently.

So cat becomes kat, much like kitten. Cradle becomes kradle - the kats in the kradle and the silfer spoon.

Cease and Cede bekome Sease and Sede respektifely. Things are starting to look quite weird now, but the sounds of the spoken English language still seem to be adequately represented by the remaining konsonants. We're now down to sefenteen.

1. B
2. C = K or S
3. D
4. F
5. G
6. H
7. J
8. K
9. L
10. M
11. N
12. P
13. Q
14. R
15. S
16. T
17. V = F
18. W
19. X = S or KS
20. Y
21. Z = S

Konstellation Konsonants Part 5 - Q

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Constellation Consonants: Part 3 - V

In my last post I aksed X from the English alphabet. I've had a think about what to akse nekst and have decided to remove V.

V to my ears sounds almost identical to F. Take leaf and leaves for eksample. Or life and lives. So I think it can go. Plus V looks a bit too similar to U for my liking. Get it out of here.

Now I'fe remofed three consonants - X, Z and V. We're down from twenty-one to eighteen and I seem to be managing okay. The spell checker's getting a bit stressed out though. My aim was to get down to twelfe. Just siks more needed.

Constellation Consonants Part 4 - C

Constellation Consonants: Part 2 - X

In my last post I got rid of Z from the English alphabet in my quest to create an alphabet that can adequately notate the spoken English language with as few consonants as possible. Ideally only twelve.

This post I'm removing X, another letter that hopefully we wont miss too much. X normally stands for an S/Z sound as in xylophone, or a K type sound as in extra. In fact, the K sound is probably more a KS sound. Eks marks the spot. So extra could be rendered ekstra, which sounds eksactly the same.

Xylophone could become sylophone. Zylophone would maybe work slightly better, but since we've decided that S and Z are essentially the same sound we'll have to make do.

We've now stripped the English alphabet from twenty-one to nineteen consonants and things seem okay. It might be a little tougher to decide what's nekst though.

1. B
2. C
3. D
4. F
5. G
6. H
7. J
8. K
9. L
10. M
11. N
12. P
13. Q
14. R
15. S
16. T
17. V
18. W
19. X = S or KS
20. 19. Y
21. Z = S

Minus the five vowels of course; A, E, I, O, U.

Constellation Consonants Part 3 - V

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Constellation Consonants: Part 1 - Z

Not too long ago I read Joscelyn Godwin's The Mystery of the Seven Vowels. A fascinating book, highly recommended for anyone interested in language and/or music. The theme harks back to the seven sacred vowels in the ancient Greek language, these vowels corresponded to the seven planets/gods of their ancient cosmo-theology.

Anyway, at the time I was thinking a lot about the relationship between the numbers seven and twelve in all things ancient. Seven days of the week, twelve months of the year. Seven travelling planets in the sky, twelve constellations. Of course, these correlate - the days of the week named for their respective gods, the months in loose correlation with the signs of the zodiac.

There's also seven notes in a musical key, and these in turn are plucked from the twelve notes of the western musical scale. Again this correlates with the Music of the Spheres and the planetary movements.

[As a side note, I also wondered if maybe the birth chart in astrology was essentially the location of the seven planets in relation to the twelve constellations; i.e. that the twelve constellations were the twelve notes and that the planets' positions would essentially pick seven notes by their location. If Mars was in Libra at your birth and Libra represented, say an 'A', then an 'A' would be one of your notes. If you have seven notes that fit harmoniously in a key then that bodes well. If your seven notes are discordant and all over the place then bad luck.]

Anyway, on reading about the seven sacred vowels I started wondering if there were twelve corresponding sacred consonants. I looked and couldn't find anything on-line suggesting this, but I thought I'd try it out. In English we have twenty-one consonants. Can they be stripped back to an essential twelve? How many consonants are needed for a functioning English language?

I've been wondering about this. So for an experiment I'm going to try removing some to see what happens. Maybe I'll remove one a post? Let's see how many posts I can get through.

I'll start with an easy one: Z

I think we can get by without Z - it's just a fancy S really, Fizz can become Fiss. Zebra can be Sebra.

I should point out at this point that it helps to actually mouth the words out as well. Zebra and Sebra might not look the same on paper, but they certainly sound more or less the same, and that's what counts :) We won't miss Z once we get used to not having it. go out, cross the sebra crossing, and buy a fissy drink ...but wrap up warm 'cos it's freesing out there.

Constellation Consonants Part 2 - X

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conan the Barbarian, the Illuminati and Shape-Shifting Reptiles

Last night I sat up 'til about 2 in the morning watching Conan the Barbarian (the 1982 Schwarzenegger version). It was the first time I'd ever seen this film and it was surprisingly entertaining (although it had me in stitches at times as well). The whole film looked pretty cool, quite iconic actually. My main reason for posting about it though is that I was surprised to see it contained all the elements of the modern pop-culture 'illuminati' mythos.

(Conan the Barbarian - stills from the movie)

Conan takes on a snake-worshipping bad guy who shape-shifts into a snake and rules over humanity using violence and manipulation to keep them subjugated. The humans are seen as sacrificial pawns, willing to literally jump to their deaths for their reptilian ruler. The palace headquarters of this evil snake cult is a den of sexual licentiousness, where people indulge in orgies and drink from a brew containing human body parts. The cult even has a classic Illuminati-style eye-in-a-pyramid type symbol, although theirs is also adorned with twin serpents.

(Serpentine and all-seeing eye symbolism)

It made me wonder whether this was the subconscious inspiration for David Icke's world view. It was a pretty big movie in the 80's and I'm guessing most people will have watched it. Did it seep into peoples minds and inspire a generation? Of course, the alternative view would be that the movie was tapping into a historical vein of truth and that maybe it resonated so well at the time because of this. I guess it's a chicken and egg scenario. Still it's interesting that these themes were so well established in 1982. I'd be interested to see how true the film is to the original Conan fantasy stories created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930's. Were these themes there then as well?

On a parallel note this got me thinking again about our inherent fear of serpents. I think it stems in part from how serpents devour their victims. As humans we seem to be naturally horrified by the idea of being eaten alive. When a big cat kills its prey then eats it, it somehow doesn't seem as horrific as when a bird or a snake simply devours a living creature whole.

I remember watching a nature programme where a baby bird wandered from its mother and subsequently got devoured - whole and alive - by a huge seagull. The image was worse than anything I'd ever seen in any horror movie. Seeing the bulge of a living creature slide down its throat. It actually made me feel depressed for days after it. Even now when I think back I feel a sense of despair. The question is why?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that as humans we kill animals first before we eat them. We can't digest bones and would choke on them if we tried. So maybe this is partly why we see swallowing animals whole as just plain wrong. And, of course, there's our fear of dying and being killed in general. And being eaten alive must be an especially horrid way to go.

When you see medieval visions of hell, where humans are being boiled, burned and eaten, it's quite often birds or bird-headed men that are doing the eating. Again there's just something inherently more awful about being eaten by a bird or a reptile as opposed to being killed by a lion or tiger. Eating something alive seems in this light to be the very embodiment of evil.

I don't wanna get on my high horse too much, but all my thinking on this does make me relieved that I chose to be a vegetarian. I think if you want to have a positive impact on the world a good place to start is to decide not to eat anything that's conscious of the fact it's being ate.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Shakespeare Apocrypha: The Merry Devil of Edmonton ...(and Some Musings on Swear Words)

I've recently polished off The Merry Devil of Edmonton. The play owes its attribution to Shakespeare from the fact it was found in the library of Charles II in a book titled Shakespeare Vol. 1 along with the plays Fair Em and Mucedorus. However, it's generally accepted today that it belongs to the hand of another author.

I really enjoyed this one and again my untrained eye could find no reason why it shouldn't be a Shakespeare.

Touching on the theme of swearing and profane language in these Apocrypha works I noticed yet again the word firke. I've came across this word in other plays from the period (sometimes spelt firk) and it always suggests the word fuck to me. Whether it's a substitution for that word or just a variant on its spelling I don't know, but its context always seems to make this interpretation look correct.

In this play it pops up in a sentence spoke by the character Sir Ralph.

Sir Ralph. ...if I doe find knavery under cowle, Ile tickle him, Ile firke him..

I had a search on-line to try and throw some light on things and came across this book on Google Books; A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature by Gordon Williams.

According to this the word firk is pretty much a variant or substitute for fuck.
"Firk copulate with (aided by the word's similarity to fuck)."
So yeah, I guess it's more evidence for why these plays would be deemed unsuitable (and therefore un-Shakespearean) by prudish Victorian commentators and the like.

I feel a bit childish searching around on-line for naughty words, but it's a bit of a bugbear of mine. We live in countries with free speech, we can speak any word in any other language with no restrictions, we can even make up our own words if we please, yet this handful of English words we call swear words we aren't allowed say. Even to the extent that the force of law can be used at times to stop us. It's kinda crazy.

When they're bleeping out the word fucked in a Mumford & Sons song you know it's gone way too far.

Also I find swear words quite interesting. Just looking at the terms used to describe them - curse words, swear words, profanity. They all suggest a religious sense. To put a curse on someone, to swear an oath. A profanity - profane - something that shouldn't be spoken. Similar to the way the true name of God (the vowel-less JHWH) is said to be sacred and not allowed to be spoken. Spell means word, hence Gospel - God's Word. To put a spell on someone you simply need to speak.

I had a wild theory that maybe our swear words were once words that had a religious significance, and that's why we can't say them now. Maybe the word fuck once meant God - or the Devil ...that would be pretty cool. Or maybe, considering the sexual nature of our swear words, they hark back to a time when sex was more intertwined with religion, and sex and sexual words were deemed sacred.

Some people also believe that certain words and sounds have an actual power or meaning due to their acoustic properties. I always assumed that the words fuck and cunt sounded so powerful because they were forbidden and that their forbidden, rebellious status give them that ability to cut through everyday speech, but maybe the words themselves have an acoustic power that exists regardless of their cultural context. Saying something is fucking amazing, sounds so much more powerful than saying it's very amazing. Why?

When someone hits their finger with a hammer or stubs their toe they invariably shout out a swear word or a religious phrase. Bloody Hell!, Jesus Christ!, Fuck!, Fucking Hell!, For God's Sake! Proclamations all of them. Swear words seem so close to religion in this context. I'm surprised more people haven't noticed this.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Recently Read: Henry IV Part II.

I've just finished reading El Shakespearo's Henry IV Part II. Just a great play. Yet again the character Falstaff steals the show. And again there was a lot of bawdiness. Entertaining read.

The version I was reading was a PDF of an edition published in 1740. I noticed a few smileys in the text. They were unintentional, of course, but they amused me a little.


'saith he, you are in an ill name' sad face

But then later:

'That I and Greatness were compell'd to kiss' smiley face

I'd like to start some sort of theory where Shakespeare invented emoticons, but I don't think I'd get away with it. Maybe it might be a good April Fool to use one day.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Shakespeare Apocrypha: Mucedorus

I've also just read the play Mucedorus. This is another apocrypha play and was linked with Shakespeare because it was a King's Men play. I don't really have much to add about this one, although I should say I did really enjoy reading it.

On a wider note I should mention that I'm starting to feel a little out of my depth regarding the whole apocrypha thing. I've been reading about the First Folio and it seems that the Shakespeare canon was decided not long after his death and the absence of the apocrypha plays rests as much on the fact that they weren't included in this as it does on anything else. So I've maybe jumped the gun a little in blaming later generations. I guess they were just being true to the First Folio.

It still all seems very odd and dodgy though. I'll learn my lesson and keep plodding on. I'll get there in the end.

Recently Read: The Tree of Common Wealth

I've recently read The Tree of Common Wealth by Edmund Dudley - of the famous Tudor Dudley line. I found it on Google Books by accident whilst searching for other things. It was written while he was imprisoned in the tower awaiting execution for high treason, in the early days of the reign of Henry VIII.

The book basically sets out the rules for managing a good and prosperous kingdom, using a tree and its various fruits as a metaphor. The treatise was interesting in of itself, however what aroused my curiosity also was that the edition I'd came across had been published in the 19th century by a Rosicrucian order.
Now first Printed from a Copy of his Manuscript

for the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross.

Later on in the preface it then states;
This small contribution to the literature of the Tudor period is respectfully offered to the student and lover of history by The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross.
I thought that was pretty cool, but then again I have read a lot of conspiracy stuff.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shakespeare Apocrypha: Arden of Faversham

I've just finished reading Arden of Faversham. To be fair this is a play that was attributed to Shakespeare after the 17th century, so I can't really complain about its non-inclusion. However, it does fit quite neatly with some of the other apocrypha plays - it's set in England (based on a true story), it's quite earthy, bawdy and common, and it doesn't quite have the flowery loftiness we normally associate with Shakespeare. However, it was quite an enjoyable little read.

There was also a little bit of swearing :)

It comes when the character Black Will is stating that he'll quite happily murder the main character Arden.

Will. Plat me no platformes, give me the money, And Ile stab him as he stands pissing against a wall, But Ile kill him.

Actually, the character named Black Will is partnered by another murderous rogue named Shakebag. So the phrase Will & Shakebag pops up, which seems like a parodic reference to the dude himself.

I thought this picture looked quite cool too ;-

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sea-Christ and Mary Mermaid

A while back I posted about how the name Mary Magdalene could be rendered as Mermaid - Mer/Mary meaning sea, and Magdalene being a variant of Maiden/Madeleine. Anyway I've been thinking about this some more and I think I've came a little further.

I was thinking along the lines of Mary equals Marry. Today a marriage is a ceremonial coupling of two people, however I think originally to marry someone would've simply meant to have sex with them. In days of yore people would've no doubt simply had sex, bore children and settled down together. I'm sure a marriage is just a formalised celebration of this.

If marry meant sex then that would explain the meaning of the term marred or mar - spoiled, impure. It would also make sense in regards the term getting merry. It would likewise explain why in Tudor times (and no doubt earlier than that) the term mermaid was used as a euphemism for prostitute - Mary Queen of Scots famously being described as such. Mermaid (marry-maid) would simply translate as sex-maid or alternatively mar(red)-maid. This brings us back full circle to Mary Magdalene - her name would be rendered likewise, and this'll be why she's universally decried as a prostitute or fallen woman.

Incidentally, merrymaids was an old English name for mermaids.

When applying this translation of Mary to the Virgin Mary things make equal sense. Virgin Mary simply becomes Married Virgin or a Virgin who's had sex. Hence, Jesus being born of a virgin simply means he was born as a product of sex, like everyone else. Maybe with the added interpretation that he was born of an honourable, married or chaste woman.

In other posts I've argued that Jesus was simply a symbolic everyman - not a real historical figure. In this light the Virgin Mary is likewise simply an idealised personification of motherhood.

On a slightly different topic, mermaids often appear in the paintings of Saint Christopher carrying Christ across the waters in Medieval churches. I've been trying to work out where that would fit into things, but it eludes me at the moment. There were more wall paintings in English churches of Saint Christopher than of any other saint. His name means 'Christ-bearer', but I wonder if maybe Chris equals cross - like the term criss-cross. Having just looked up the etymology of crisscross I'm told it's from the term Christ's-cross. It just looks like the same word repeated to me though.

Is Christ someone who crosses water? Is there some sort of birth symbolism there? Crossing the threshold into this world, via birth? I should remember that the symbol for Christ was the fish. Again it seems to tie in, but I'm not quite sure how. The fish symbol correlates with the Vesica Piscis - the shape created when two circles intersect. In medieval art Christ was often depicted within a Vesica Piscis - which some people say was a symbolic representation of the female genitals.

I think the whole Christ story is a symbolic tale about man's place in the universe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tuning A Guitar To 432Hz

Of late I've been interested in scales and tuning, and have been reading a lot about the virtues of tuning to 432Hz. The modern convention is to tune A (A4) to 440Hz, but apparently 432Hz has a more natural (or supernatural) feel to it. There are plenty of theories and conspiracy theories out there in Internet-land explaining why this is so. It's the X-Files of tuning.

(The Lute Player - Caravaggio)

Anyway, I was wanting to tune my guitar to 432Hz, but wasn't quite sure how to do it. I think I've cracked it now though (however, if anyone knows better and can put me straight I'd appreciate it). I've done it using this frequencies table I found online;

[You can actually buy tuners that allow you to tune to 432hz, for example the Korg CA-1, which is what I currently use - much easier than all this faffing about :) ~~ Neil, 2018 ]

Normally a guitar would be tuned thusly;

E - 82.4Hz
A - 110.0Hz
D - 146.8Hz
G - 196.0Hz
B - 246.9Hz
High E - 329.6Hz

However, for 432Hz those strings would be tuned like this;

E - 80.9Hz
A - 108.0Hz
D - 144.2Hz
G - 192.4Hz
B - 242.5Hz
High E - 323.6Hz

Obviously, you'll need a tuner that can show Hertz to do this. I've been using this free gStrings App on my phone;

I should also point out that even though this tuning is 432Hz, it still uses Equal Temperament spacing. There's a whole other argument out there about Equal Temperament vs Just tuning, etc.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Anomalous Dating on Francis Bacon Image

I was recently perusing a book that was in part written by Francis Bacon. The book was published in the 17th Century - it can be viewed on Google Books here.

In the opening pages there's an image of Bacon, underneath which is written the date of his death - 9th April 1626. However, the first numeral of 1626 is written as a dotted 'j' instead of a 1. Normally I wouldn't have even noticed this, but I've recently finished Volume 1 of Fomenko's New Chronology and in it he states that at one point it was common for j to be the first value in such dates. He reasons that this value, instead of signifying 1000, actually stands for Jesus - so in effect j626 would read, not 1626, but Jesus 626 i.e. 626 years since the birth/death of Christ. This ties in with his contention that Jesus was born just a thousand years ago. He provides countless examples of the date being written in this manner in his book.

I guess I've found a little more evidence for him.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A New History of England - William Blennerhassett

I've finally finished reading A New History of England by William Blennerhassett, published 1751. I found and read the first half of it (volumes I and II) a good while back and reviewed it here. I managed to find the rest on Google Books (although I still think I'm missing some, as in the title it says it's a history of England up to the reign of King George I, but it finished at the reign of William and Mary lol).

Anyways, was well worth reading and there was plenty worth sharing.

For a start he mentions the travails of Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Telling the much relayed story of how Essex drew his sword upon the Queen;
"The Queen asking Advice of the Earl of Essex, and the Admiral, concerning a fit person to be sent over Lieutenant of Ireland, discovered an Inclination for Sir William Knowles: But the Earl of Essex, tho' his Nephew, opposed it stoutly, with a View of having that Dignity conferred on Sir George Carew, whom he had a-mind to have removed from Court. But seeing the Queen immovable in her sentiments, he turned his Back upon her with such an Air of Contempt, that she gave him a Box on the Ear. He immediately laid his Hand on his Sword, and being prevented from drawing it by the Admiral, he swore, that he neither could nor would put up so great an Indignity; nor would he have taken it from Henry VIII. himself, were he alive; and directly withdrew from Court[.]"
Essex also found himself in trouble for knighting people whilst in Ireland without the Queen's permission and was later executed for leading a rebellion which would've placed himself on the English throne. When I first read the story of him drawing his sword on the Queen a few years back I immediately thought it seemed like the behaviour of an unruly child challenging his mother. As it turned out there were already numerous theories out there stating just that - that Essex was the Queen's son, his father being her supposed beau Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It would certainly explain his pretensions to the throne. [For more on all this see].

Probably my favourite part of the book was Blennerhassett's coverage of the Stuart period. He essentially paints all four Stuart kings as duplicitous would-be tyrants. This chimes with my general view of the period so I was more than happy reading it.

James I is often viewed by historians as a moderate enlightened King, and more to the point a Protestant King, but Blennerhassett dispels this notion. He gives countless examples of him acting in an absolute way. In fact the troubles of the reign of Charles I according to this clearly began in the James period. I'll give one example of the sort of stuff that was going on (in my Kindle notes I labelled this; 'more evidence that James I was an arse').
"The King not having Patience with the Parliament's Procedure in these things, dissolved them, after they had sit two Months; and afterwards sent several of the Members, who had spoken the most freely, to Prison, without admitting them to Bail. This (says Coke) was the greatest Violation of the Privilege of Parliament that ever was done by any King of England before."
When we finally get to the Civil War of Charles' reign it gets really interesting. I've always felt that the war was about much, much more than religion, and I've always harboured ideas about Cromwell & Co. using religion as a front for a more enlightened sort of change. Blennerhassett puts this in black and white;
"The Presbyterian Party having gained Ground upon the Exclusion of the Bishops and Popish Lords, diligently applied themselves to cherish the Dissention between King and Parliament. There was in the Presbyterian Party another Party, who concealed themselves, and were afterwards known by the Name of Independents. This Party, as they could not accomplish their secret Designs, but amidst Disorder and Confusion, affected a rigid Presbyterianism, and strove to carry Things to Extremities, under colour of maintaining Presbyterianism; tho', in truth, their Intention was, to destroy it as well as the Church of England."
Incidentally, I also discovered that Oliver Cromwell's sister Robina was married to John Wilkins, one of the founding members of the Royal Society. He also wrote works that covered topics such as secret codes and the possibility of life on the Moon. Blennerhassett also mentions that at the time of Cromwell's death there were rumours that he had been poisoned.

Now on to the reign of Charles II - again he's often portrayed as an enlightened King, albeit one with a bit of a reputation for being a playboy. However, in this the impression given is of a King constantly trying to rule by diktat and Divine Right. At times he seems to be at war with the City of London (in fact, the entire Stuart period seems to me to be a constant war between London Capitalists and Catholic Stuarts). The following passage about banking and money lending will have particular resonance for anyone with a conspiratorial mindset. At the time the King was scouting around for new ways to raise capital;
"Sir Thomas Clifford's Invention proved the most lucky; he went to the King, and told him, that by shutting up the Exchequer he would easily raise that and a larger Sum. The King readily understood this Advice; and resolving to make use of it, made good his Promise, and advanced Clifford to the Post of Lord-High-Treasurer. I shall explain the meaning of this. Several monied Men in London, not caring to keep too large Sums in their Houses, put their Money in to the Hands of Bankers and Goldsmiths without Interest. The Bankers and Goldsmiths usually lent this Money to the King at a large Interest, upon the Parliament's Funds; so that, in shutting up the Exchequer, the King received all the Money that came into it without paying it to the Bankers and Goldsmiths; who, having advanced upon this Security to the King already, were deprived of receiving the Money for Repayment as it came into the Exchequer.
By this Usage the Persons who had put Money into Bankers and Goldsmiths Hands were entirely ruined; since it was not in their Power to dispose of their Capital: and their Ruin was the more inevitable, as the Bankers refused even to pay any Notes drawn dayly upon them; on pretence that they received nothing out of the Exchequer. This caused an extreme Consternation in London: But the King and Ministers pursued their own Measures, and, deaf to the Complaints of so many ruined Families, kept the Exchequer shut up one Year; and then, by a new Order, some Months longer: But the Hopes that the Cabal then had, to make the King absolute, made them very easy under the Complaints and Reproaches of the People."
Here's another example of The King vs The City;
"The King brought a Quo Warranto against the City of London, to give an Account how it became a Corporation, and by what Warrant it enjoy'd it's Privileges ...the King wanted a Pretence, from some Violation of the Charter, to seize the Liberties of that great City into his Hands"
Finally I'll end this piece with a little bit of Forteana. The book mentions two accounts of people living to an incredible age.
This Year (1636) was brought to the King one Par, an old Man, of 150 Years, and in perfect Health.
This Year (1671) died Henry Jenkins, a poor Fisherman of Yorkshire, who lived in the Reigns of eight Kings and Queens of England, aged 169 Years: exceeding the famous Thomas Parr 17 Years.
Cool :D

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recently Read: Music And Its Secret Influence

I've recently finished reading Music and Its Secret Influence: Throughout the Ages by the composer Cyril Scott. Great book, first published in 1933 and then re-published in updated form in 1958 (Scott was born in 1879 and died in 1970). The basic premise of it is that throughout history cultures have been esoterically shaped by music - or perhaps more accurately that a nations culture is a reflection of the music it is previously exposed to, rather than its music simply being a reflection of its current culture.

So, for example, he states that the mathematical beauty of Bach paved the way for a more reasoned age, whereas the emotional tones of Beethoven inspired an age where man had the ability to feel sympathy for others - eventually leading to Psychoanalysis among other things. In particular he states that England's Victorian values were directly inspired by the English obsession with Handel. The effects of Wagner on Germanic nationalism is likewise elucidated.

All this influence has a semi-supernatural undertone and is amplified by Scott's belief in the hidden masters that have secretly been guiding, and continue to guide humanity's development. In fact, Scott himself claims that he has been in contact with one of these masters, named Koot Hoomi, and that it was this master that suggested to him that he write this very book. The Theosophical influence is quite apparent throughout.

Although some of his beliefs seem quite out-there Scott is very erudite throughout the book and his commentary on the creative process is quite accurate;
One may even measure the greatness of a composer by his capacity for being dissatisfied, for example, with the familiar. Mediocre composers are satisfied with second-hand ideas, great composers are only satisfied with first-hand ideas, and their consistent greatness is partly dependent on their patience in striving to obtain those ideas. To say that genius is the infinite capacity for taking pains is therefore to state only the second half of the truth, the first half being that genius is the infinite capacity for feeling dissatisfied.
I liked this. It reminded me of John Lennon's statement that once you find the formula you've got to rip it up and start again. Or as I would put it - smart people get bored quickly.

I've never been a massive fan of classical music so I had no idea about Cyril Scott's music. However, when I started reading the book I thought I'd check it out and was pretty impressed. It sounds very modern and otherworldly, you can tell he's on the cusp of a new age - maybe he did help bring in the modern musical tide.

In fact, I ended up using the book as a crash course on classical music, listening to the various composers as I went through the chapters. It probably says something about me that I can only listen to classical music if it's washed down with a healthy dose of the esoteric and supernatural. On a side note, I listened to all the music on YouTube - the juxtaposition of YouTube with classical music buffs creates quite a strange world. One I never thought I'd ever enter. Needless to say the comments sections were quite amusing.

I'll just mention a few bits n pieces from the book that caught my attention now. For one thing he mentions that pin and needles is essentially an out-of-body experience for the body part affected - if your arm goes to sleep, the sensation/spirit has been squeezed out and the pins and needles feeling comes when it's reabsorbed. Think about that next time you have pins and needles. He also states that it was music (used to destructive effect) that wrecked Atlantis. Also, as the book was written a good many years ago the word 'gay' is frequently used in its old fashioned sense. Whenever it popped up it made me laugh a little bit - because I'm an idiot.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Free Schools for Free People Please

There's recently been more calls for the school day to be lengthened in the media. I can't tell you how much I hate this idea. A while back I wrote a series of pieces stating the opposite - namely that children should spend less time at school (see abolish-education).

My arguments for this at the time were mainly principled and idealistic and they didn't really address the practical problems that most parents would experience if the school week was just suddenly reduced - the main problem being how working parents would find the time to look after their children during those hours they weren't in school.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this problem and now I think I have the answer.

At the moment we have a situation where parents only really have two options;

Option 1: Send your child to a school and hand complete control of their entire education over to said school
Option 2: Take your child out of the education system completely and home-school them yourself

Two quite extreme options, both with their problems. I would change the entire system so that parents would have the choice to send their children to school as much or as little as they wanted. If you want your child at school 2 days-a-week, 3 days, 4 days-a-week, 2 hours-a-day, 4 hours-a-day, whatever, it would be your choice.

After all, they're your schools, paid for by you - shouldn't you be able to use them for your children as you see fit.

In fact, I would solve two problems in one swoop and merge schools with childcare - schools could be opened for even longer hours and parents would then have a truly flexible place where they could send their children at times that suited them and that worked around their employment.

This system would be so much better for everyone. At the moment there are increasing numbers of people dissatisfied with the current system. Some are choosing to home-school their children, but many simply don't have the option because of work and financial constraints ...and those that do often worry that by taking their child completely out the school system they're denying their child the opportunity to develop socially by spending time with other children. A more flexible way of providing education would give parents the genuine freedom to educate their children according to their own design.

We hear the term free school bandied about quite a lot at the moment. To me a truly free school is a school that can be freely used by parents and children. Freedom is choice.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Christina Rossetti Embraced

I've just finished reading a collection of Christina Rossetti's poetry. Normally I'm not a big reader of poetry, but I've really embraced this stuff. Her use of language is really chosen and concise. The combination of religious tones with personal themes like yearning is unique in its nearness. Close to God. This is the first time I've really took poetry to heart. Well impressed.

I found the poem Goblin Market quite fascinating in particular. Unsurprisingly it's a tale about goblins, but more interestingly it seems to be an allegory for sexual temptation. It's etched in my mind now, so I might return to it at a later date.

Eat me, drink me, love me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Recently Read: Thomas Cromwell by Robert Hutchinson

I've just finished reading this biography of Cromwell. It was interesting. Even though the author is often quite critical of Cromwell a goodness of sorts still shines through. Well worth reading.

One interesting thing that popped up in the book was an alternative version of the story of Thomas Becket. A version promoted by Cromwell (and dismissed as propaganda by Hutchinson). In this version Becket dies in a riot or melee that takes place after one of his servants is arrested;
Becket had then used 'opprobrious words' and grabbed one of his opponents 'by the bosom and violently shook him and plucked him in such a manner that he almost overthrew him to the pavement of the church'... 'and so in the throng he was slain' - a death 'which they untruly call martyrdom'.

It's also interesting how few direct sources we seem to have for this period of history. The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys seems to be the main source for half the information relayed. It's a name I'm now quite familiar with as he tends to be the go to eye witness in most history books on this period. I wonder how much of English history relies upon the testimony of foreign writers.

It was also interesting to note that most of the information regarding Henry's relationship with Anne of Cleves seemed to come straight from a single letter written by Cromwell whilst he was imprisoned in the Tower - a letter strangely out of sync with his other supposed pre-execution letters. The story of Henry going in disguise to inspect his bride-to-be before their marriage seems particularly far-fetched.

live at home, serve God and meddle little.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Six Lives of Henry VIII

I've recently read two plays that deal with the life of King Henry VIII. The first was the Shakespeare play Henry VIII (said to date from 1613) and the second was a play by a guy named Samuel Rowley called When You See Me You Know Me, first published in 1605.

My main motive for reading them was to look for signs that the conventional account of the Henry VIII story was in error. Incidentally, I should mention that my last post concerning the Thomas More painting was part of the same vein of thought. A debate had been raging on the applied-epistemology website about this painting and the various conspiracies surrounding it. I only really published because I wanted to link to the image and needed somewhere in internet-land to upload it to. Hence the brevity and complete lack of context (anyone interested in the story of that painting will find the relevant links in the Who birthed the Renaissance section of the above mentioned site).

Anyway, back to the plays. The Shakespeare play was pretty standard Shakespeare really. Nothing special, but as ever enjoyable enough to read. It told the story of Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn and the subsequent birth of Queen Elizabeth. In fact, I felt the focus of the play was more on Elizabeth than Henry. The play told the story as we know it today - divorces Katherine, marries Anne, Wolsey dies, Cromwell comes along, etc. The play ends with the birth of Elizabeth so none of the subsequent marriages are mentioned or dealt with. In fact, from a historical revisionist point of view the most interesting thing about the play is the fact that it's alternative title at the time was All is True. A title that may suggest there was some contention over what was the truth at the time of writing.

Luckily, however, the second play provided much more canon fodder. This play dealt with the birth of Edward, the death of Jane Seymour and the King's marriage to Catherine Parr. This play was all over the place chronologically speaking. Most bizarrely, Cardinal Wolsey was still alive at the end of it! The conventional account of history states that he died in 1530, three years before Anne Boleyn became Queen. Yet in this play he's managing England's affairs during the subsequent reigns of Queen Jane and Queen Catherine. He himself even states that he was responsible for her execution at one point in the play! Thomas Cromwell isn't mentioned once throughout the entire thing either and is nowhere to be seen.

Another odd thing is the fact that Catherine Howard and her beheading don't even get a mention. It just jumps from Jane Seymour to Catherine Parr. Catherine Howard is completely missed out and Anne of Cleves gets just a single line spoken about her. All very strange.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Six-Fingered Woman in Painting?

This insert is from the painting Thomas More and his Family by Rowland Lockey.

Does the painting deliberately portray a woman with an extra finger?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why Not March Fools' Day?

A belated happy new year to y'all.

At this time of year I always end up musing about the months of the year and why the new year starts where it starts. To be honest I don't get New Year's Eve, it doesn't have the same natural vibe that Christmas has and it always feels like a forced celebration to me. Consequently I always end up arguing with friends and family that it would be much better to have it sometime in spring - the natural beginnings of things.

Looking at the calendar March 1st seems like a natural break point. Apparently March was the first month of the Roman calender and this is said to be why our calender looks so fudged when we contemplate the names of the months. They supposedly had ten months originally and then added January and February later on. Logically, January and February should be the 11th and 12th months, but for some reason they come at the start of our year.

September - septem means seven in Latin yet it's our ninth month
October - octo, eight, yet our tenth month
November - novem, nine, yet our eleventh month
December - decem, ten, yet our twelfth month

Also, to me, the fact that February contains the extra day in a leap year also makes it a more logical twelfth month - it makes sense to add the extra day to the end of the year, rather than at some random intersection between two months.

Anyway, this led me to wonder why not March Fools' Day instead of April Fools' Day. Looking at the conventional explanations for all this calendar mayhem on Wikipedia etc it kind of looks like April Fools' is pretty much a consequence of the new year beginning in March (sometime). Although what with all the various local traditions and the changes from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar it gets pretty confusing. I feel a bit like I've wandered down a rabbit hole.

(The traditional quarter days seem like an interesting thing to look at next. Also the name Gule of August caught my eye - another name for Lammas. Gule - yule?)

Oh and before I forget, going back to the Roman months I've always found it odd that the months of July and August were renamed for Caesar and Augustus. I feel the worship of these two blurs into Christianity somewhat.  Anyway, I was wondering if maybe August shares its root with the Latin word aurum meaning gold. It would be quite fitting for a summer month and also the name Augustus was a title used by many emperors (likewise Augusta for empresses) - maybe it simply meant golden one. An augur in ancient Rome was a religious official or priest.

Also an aureus was a gold coin - so maybe a link to the person depicted on the coin. I think the Latin word chrysos means gold too - Christ? Do Augustus and Christ mean the same thing?