A consideration of the origins and symbology of popular motifs appearing at xmas.
There is a marvellous mish-mash of traditions evident.
Of the 19 items below the jump, I found:
Four partly or wholly christian
Eight pagan (see Right)
Note: I do not like and generally do not use this term, because it has a pejorative flavour, and is used by Christians to denote any other (and thus by implication inferior) religion but their own. It smacks of cultural arrogance of the worst kind, and is closely akin to the Roman word "barbarian", which has root meaning related to babble, and pejoratively refers to anyone whose language is unintelligible, and by implication, inferior, not proper speech.
I was set to musing on this subject on finding myself surrounded by random xmas decorations in my workplace.
The author actually lived and worked in the area while gathering material for the book, and grew up in a nearby county, so this is not an outsider's once-over-lightly treatment, and she is at pains to present viewpoints from both sides of the law, from amateur and commercial growers, parents and children, hippie and redneck types.
For those with an interest in the subject, this would be an informative read, evenhanded enough to provide arguments for and against many aspects of marijuana culture and cultivation.
Read as an e-book borrowed from Auckland Libraries via BorrowBox, on my Kobo Touch e-reader.
I have recently found I am attracted to numerous artists who, as I will put it, "fall under the umbrella" of the label "Americana". When I encountered the term I found numerous artists I had already followed for years were also considered to qualify. I was able to say, "Gee I am an Americana fan and didn't even know it!"
Consider this list at Wikipedia, which contains 129 acts. Of these, many are known to me, and I have recordings by 20, but only two are from within the last five years. I do have recordings not on the list that I would include:
A bunch of purely Bluegrass stuff. 1925 onwards
Cowboy Junkies - The Trinity Session 1988
Iris DeMent - Infamous Angel 1992
Iris DeMent - My Life 1994
Jolie Holland - Catalpa 2003
Jolie Holland - Springtime Can Kill You 2006
Crooked Still - Hop High 2004
Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy -
What the Brothers Sang 2013
Eb & Sparrow - Eb & Sparrow 2014
Various Artists - Americana (12 tracks) 2014
Some of my recent encounters consist of "Adding to Playlists" on YouTube, rather than purchase of recordings. (Runs off to shift previous Country etc. playlist items to a newly created "Americana" playlist for your delectation)
Note: North Mississippi Allstars were discovered and added doing this. The clip is the nearest thing I've found to Alabama Shakes. The black artists don't appear in most of their vids though.
Note: Queen Esther also discovered and added doing this.
Note: After them will be any other new things found since linking to the playlist.
Over the last year or so I have considered what it is about the style that attracts me. This naturally feeds into considerations of what defines the term.
He has done well in keeping Byron's novel stylistically true, so much so that I felt ofttimes my literary impulses, nay, my very utterances wont to follow in that lengthy, yes, even parenthetical, style. This not good, as I have my own tendencies in that direction.
It was interesting also in that there was nothing that reminded me of other works of his I have read.
I also had my interest in Byron himself stimulated, though not to the extent of actually reading any of his acclaimed works. I have seen enough to know they are hard work for a modern reader.
I found this an enjoyable read, and fuel for thought on the nature of fame, fortune and fate.
Read as an e-book on my Kobo Touch e-reader.
What were they thinking with this picture, which I came across the other day?
It looks like someone has very cleverly edited out whatever wall Allan Clarke, the guy on the left is sitting on, but for some inexplicable reason they have left a dirty great length of old pipe in the pic!
Not to mention a grotty lump of old concrete in the foreground. Especially don't mention the lump of concrete. Maybe Carrie Anne is playing hide-and-seek underneath?
I could rattle off:
Sunday Sun's day
Monday Moon's day
Wednesday Wodan's day
Thursday Thor's day
Friday Frigg's day
Saturday Saturn's day (the only Roman one, the rest are Norse/Germanic)
As for Tuesday, I couldn't dredge up a single hint of meaning from my poor puzzled grey matter.
It turns out that Tuesday is named after yet another Norse god, Tiw, or Týr.
Wikipedia entry for Tuesday
Týr is also involved in some trickery with a mythical wolf Fenrir, and loses his hand.
From what I can gather, literally, on the web, he is sort of a diminished remnant of a once central god, pushed into the background by newer ones.
Interesting to me is the fact that the "Tyr" rune (left) is identical to the brand-mark I used to see engraved by the old BPO (British Post Office) on tools that had been imported to NZ.
I found it useful to strengthen my understanding of where they all stood in the history of ideas. That is not to say that it is one of of those once-over-lightly style books. The author has a position and points to argue regarding the Hermetic approach to the world, and its usefulness today.
The Hermetic approach accepts the scientific fact that the majority of people's actions are caused by subconscious drives which they have no control over, nor ever will, dealing with a world most of them do not understand, nor ever will. But there is that word "majority", which gives Hermetic thinkers hope they are in the minority.
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation
*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!*
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --
An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:
"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.
The piece was left unpublished by Mark Twain at his death in April 1910, largely due to pressure from his family, who feared that the story would be considered sacrilegious. Twain's publisher and other friends also discouraged him from publishing it. According to one account, his illustrator Dan Beard asked him if he would publish it anyway, and Twain replied, "No, I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead." Mindful of public reaction, he considered that he had a family to support and did not want to be seen as a lunatic or fanatic. "The War Prayer" was finally published in the 1923 anthology Europe and Elsewhere.
"The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."
Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri, 973–1058, blind Arabian philosopher, poet, and writer.
I am an extremely intelligent, witty and fascinating guy.