Monday, July 23, 2012

Orpheus- The Father of Songs

Being a musician and bard, I fancy all things musical and lyrical.

My topic today is to look at the tale of Orpheus. There are many stories, some conflicting (as doth happen in folklore and Mythology), these are the ones I like best.

The Greeks considered Orpheus to be the Greatest of all Poets & Musicians. It is said that he was the son of the God, Apollo and the daughter of the Muse of Epic Poetry, Calliope. The gifts of his parents at his birth were: a golden lyre and the ability to play it- from his father, Apollo and from his mother, the gift of being able to create lyrics and verse. Orpheus made his way with money earned as a Wizard and a Musician and courted for himself, Thalia, the Laughing Muse of Comedy.

Surely, with lineage such as this, I have to research him a bit in my quest for knowledge on these topics!

A magickal tale it is! One of Invention, Enchantment, Melody, Muse and Inspiration with a bonus of a wild Greek tragedy ending!

While Hermes may have invented the lyre (see my earlier post on Hermes) it was Orpheus who made it perfect. He could charm wild animals and birds and even make the rocks and trees dance!

How wondrous! Jason and the Argonauts were even saved by Orpheus on their voyage. Unlike Odysseus and his men who fell prey to the Sirens, Orpheus heard the Sirens calls of entrancing lure and played his lyre LOUDER and drowned out the Sirens. ( Like Nigel Tufnel says in "Spinal Tap": "this knob goes to 11..and that's one louder, isn't it?" :)

One day Orpheus's wife Eurydice, was confronted by a Satyr (I'm thinking in a an overtly sexual way, as...well.... that's how Satyrs roll...) and to avoid the rape, Eurydice unfortunately fell into a pit of vipers (how symbolic) and was bitten and died. Orpheus went to the Underworld to win her back. He is the only mortal to have gone into the Underworld and come back alive. His music so charmed Hades and Persephone that he was given his wife back and told that they should proceed to the surface. IF Orpheus was able to emerge to the top surface WITHOUT looking back at his wife, she would be free and alive again. He led her home and to a new rebirth.

 Of course, he was so excited when he saw the sunshine and their destination, he looked back to make sure that she was still with him at the last minute... and lost her forever.

The last tale is about his end of life.
It's really pretty wild.

Orpheus as he aged, withdrew his belief in the Gods, all save Apollo (or the Sun). In a fit of wild frenzy the Dionysius (Bacchus) Maenads tore him to shreds (as wild Maenads are wont to do).

His head and his lyre were thrown into the water, and as they floated along, still singing....(pretty kewl and creepy, that..). His head and fragments of his body was buried beneath Mount Olympus and nightingales still sing over his grave.

His lyre was whisked away to the heavens and placed among the stars.


A musician's musician with all the tales of a life well loved....
well lived...
and well played.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Nosegays (and the Secret Language of Flowers.....)

You know... those lovely wee bouquets that brides and bridesmaids carry?
I'll let you in on a SECRET.

They are a LOVE CHARM.
Yes, we brides charmed you men.
Right up to the altar.
And afterwards as well.

Later on in Victorian days these little bouquets were called "Tussie Mussies".

There is a language of flowers, you know,  and in days of olde people knew it far better than we do today. Oh, of course we all know that roses mean "Love" ( FYI~ the color red=true love, white=innocent love, pink=sweet love,  yellow=intense emotion...etc) and that daisies are "Innocence" and so on...)

I am a minstrel and in saying that, I know for a fact, that flowers are oftimes more than just the name identification. They have meaning in their words.

In the lovely song, "Scarborough Faire", the herbs "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" all have particular significance. There is a nosegay mentioned in this lillting love ballad as a symbol of what the author of the song was looking for in a mate.

Let's look at them one by one and you'll see what I mean:

Parsley is an herb to remove "Bitterness". I you have stomach or gall bladder ills, just eat some raw parsley. Good for removing the bile in more ways than one. In marriage, having a way to dispel bad feelings in a constructive way is a very helpful way to continue working and loving someone that you live with.

Sage is the herb for "Wisdom" and "Protection", "Long life" and "Virtue". Indeed, the reason why the word "Sage" is identified with older wise people, is because it is said that "those that drink sage tea never grow old."

Rosemary is for "Remembrance" and for "true love". It is said that if a maiden leaves a plate of cornmeal under a rosemary bush on a full moon night, that in the morning, her true love's name will be scratched into the cornmeal by the branches of the rosemary bush. :)  Also rosemary is for "feminine love" which, like the plant grows strong and sturdy...but slowly.

Thyme is the herb for Fertility. It is also for bravery, courage and strength. Knights would often wear it emblazoned on their shields during the renaissance for their lady's favor.

So....if someone handsome, gives you a Primrose....he wants to love you forever.

And if he gives you Coriander....well...consider it a desire to bed you ASAP :)

Have fun in your garden of love out there!

Click here for a great list of Flowers and their Meanings

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Legend of Robin Hood

This month our StoryBook Club visited our goodly mates in green, the merry men of Sherwood Forest to dig for clues and enjoy the tale of Robin Hood!
Formerly known as "Robin of Luxley" he was a Yeoman, born neither rich... nor poor.

Robin answered King Richard the Lion Hearted's call for men and went off to join the Third Crusade. (there were several Crusades during the High Middle Ages...)

When Robin came back home (alive and well-seasoned as a fighter and happy to be back on his home soil) he found that times had changed.

Well, if you traipse off for several years, things do change. Especially if many of the nobility goes off with you, it doth leave the homeland unprotected and ripe for villians and brigands.

These brigands though, the ones that took over the land and stole property while the rightful owners were away fighting goodly causes (in their mind, at least) were of Noble blood.

Aye, they were high born vilians, chief among them was King Richard's own brother, Prince John. Let me set you up with a wee bit of English history, Richard and John were the sons of  Eleanor of Aquitane and King Henry II. Queen Eleanor was actually, historically, the regent to Prince John while King Richard was away.

(So....Queen Eleanor was the Sir Hiss "technically"....

and Prince John did eventually become one of the worst Kings ever)
This of course, made us all want to watch again, the classic "The Lion in Winter" with Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole.

But surely I digress.

After digging into this olden tale, our gathered Storycologists have demised that Robin Hood was the peasant's saviour answer to Feudalism. Robbing the rich to give to the poor, was just the exact opposite of what Feudalism's "Pyramid Scheme" was doing to the masses. It was a way of getting "even" with the unjust system of not being able to own anything and being "owned" by others. A turning of the tables of sorts.

Robin is everyman....or every woman :)

Robbed of his inheritance, he tries to take it back and instead of claiming it for himself, gives to others. Of course, Robin was most likely a composite of several people in history, and he and his men were also thought of as robbers and thieves and did live off the land by stealing.
("It's the violence inherent in the system!")

and "There's a lovely bit of muck over here!")

But no matter.
One man's hero is another man's outlaw.
(for instance: Robin Hood, Jesse James, the guy from Wikileaks, Rodney King, Dr. Kevorkian....etc...)

We celebrate the little guy with the big dream.

And we celebrated too!
Here is our table set for us at Heather's house:
With "Forest Greenery",  a ransom chest fit for a Prince, candles, bows and arrows, tapestries!

Our wondrous repast brought by those gathered featured: Shepherds' Pies, Assorted Cheeses (Stilton, Goat Cheese, Brie), Raspberries, Fruited crusty bread, "Merry Men Grape Salad" (delicious with grapes, vanilla yogurt and sugared pecans!) and "Chocolate Stout Cupcakes", Wine and Guinness.

It was a WONDROUS feast.

And for dessert? Why....The classic Disney's Robin Hood of course!

Next month's Story?

Scheherazade and the tales of the Arabian Nights!
Opa! Opa!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Narcissus~ Addicted to Love....of Self.

It's good to love ourselves....
and it's good to know what we want so that we can better serve others.

Yes. But we must be careful. All things in moderation.

Greek Mythology teaches us that there is a tragic tale of self love, taken to extremes.

It is the tale of Narcissus~

Narcissus was the son of a river God and a Nymph. They had a handsome child they named Narcissus.

Oh, he was beautiful, yes.
Very handsome he was.

Many fell in love with Narcissus and yet...he spurned all of them. He only loved himself and no one was good enough for him.

Once a Nymph named Echo fell for him too. So in love for him was she, that she pined away for him, hoping to have her love messages returned....but he would not, did not, could not return her love.

Echo wasted away until nothing was left of her but her lonely whispered unanswered call....
(which you can still hear echoed back to you when you call.)

So tragic were her pleas for his love, and cries for help to the Gods... that when unanswered, her broken  heart turned to vengeance. She sought justice for her pain and the way that she'd been treated. The Goddess Nemesis took pity on the lovesick nymph and her tragic tale of love given but unrequited from so selfish a man.

The Goddess sought out Narcissus and found him, yet again, gazing lovingly at himself in a quiet pool of water. It was his favorite in love with his own self, that is all he did. The Goddess then put a fitting spell on him.
"If you love yourself so much, and spurn others, then SO BE IT. Love yourself forever and no one else."

Narcissus was then so magically engaged and enthralled with his own reflection that he could not leave it...
he was spell bound to his own projected image....and he died there, gazing at his own mirrored self.

A flower grew where he died.

It is the Narcissus....which is often seen gazing head down at the water.

So it is that there are those among us who are afflicted thusly, even today.
This ultra self love is now officially and scientifically and psychoanalytically called a "Narcissistic Personality Disorder"

Those afflicted disdain the real love from others, have an over emphasized image of self, put themselves on pedestals, use others only to fulfill their needs, and the afflicted are never satisfied with what affection they receive because their need for adoration is too great.

While they may feel that the accolades and affection that come their way is their due....
in reality, though, they are starving themselves to death- by not partaking of LIFE and not being able to digest what love is given freely, nor are they able to return it to anyone.
They die a vain glorious life just gazing at themselves and never learning about the world or others.

In sooth, the majority of those afflicted actually do not love themselves as much as they hate themselves inside, and they project an image that they think others will like instead. They then try to be a chameleon for whomever will find them attractive, so that they will have their needs met by others.

I feel sorry for the person that was Narcissus...
No one could tear him away from himself much to his own demise.
He ruined his own life. The Goddess just made it happen faster based upon the injustices and harm he caused to others.

While I do feel sorry for those afflicted with this disorder as well, nothing is incurable IF they want to break the pattern. Psychotherapy is the only means to do this. That, and a lot of work on their part, and true love by those willing to aid them.

Otherwise, they will lead a fruitless life, which is a disservice to themselves, and to the world.

Let's learn from this tragic tale to be open to others, listen and learn from them, and to take ourselves lightly.
For it is in the giving of ourselves that we truly receive love.