Gaye Mack’s Blog

WAS THE SAINTED HUGH OF LINCOLN CATHEDRAL REALLY SO ‘SAINTLY’?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work Leave a comment

If one could board the ‘way back machine’ with Mr. Peabody and Sherman from the endearing ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ show, it might be interesting to dial in coordinates for May 1186, Eynsham Abbey, Oxfordshire.  Upon arrival, we might very well hear the town crier announcing,

STUNNING RESUME CATAPULTS HUGH OF AVALON

INTO BISHOP’S CHAIR AT LINCOLN CATHEDRAL!!

 It was to Eynsham that King Henry II summoned a council of bishops and barons in order to elect Hugh of Avalon to the vacancy at Lincoln.  No question, by this time in his life, Hugh had amassed a very impressive resume of accomplishments and on the surface it would seem that he was well placed in the monastic life.    Following his appointment as a deacon for the Benedictine priory of Villard Benoît near Grenoble France, Hugh’s ecclesiastical career was on the proverbial meteoric rise by the age of 19, particularly after he came to the attention of the powerful Plantagenet king, Henry II.

 As it was, in 1170 Henry found himself in a hot spot of bother with the Pope over that nasty business concerning Thomas Becket.  However, Henry being the quintessential deal maker, managed to appease Pope Innocent III (an ‘interesting name’ in and of itself!) by making an offer that Innocent couldn’t refuse.  In lieu of going on pilgrimage as part of his penance for his complicity in Becket’s murder, Henry agreed to establish a Carthusian house in England; which he did, just down the road (more or less) from Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset. 

 Unfortunately by 1179, the Witham Charterhouse was pretty much of a mess; so who to call?  By this time Hugh, now quite accomplished in his mid forties, was on Henry’s radar and thus, was commanded to Witham to sort things out… which he did…brilliantly actually.  As there is nothing like success, Hugh’s accomplishments at Witham led him to an additional assignment on the King’s orders.

 By 1183 the political climate had become so poisonous at Glastonbury that Henry ordered Hugh to take on the supervision of Glastonbury’s diabolical ‘Custodian’, Peter D’Marcy.  Predictably, D’Marcy didn’t take kindly to Hugh’s interference which provides rich fodder for my book, A Murder of Crows.  However, following Glastonbury’s disastrous Great Fire of 1184, Hugh remained at Witham until the Eynsham council elected him to head Lincoln’s bishopric in 1186.

Hugh’s biography, written by Adam of Eynsham, a Benedictine monk who was Hugh’s constant companion during Hugh’s final three years of life, remains in manuscript form in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.  Predictably, Adam’s accounts of Hugh’s life and behavior is impeccable. 

 However… in his contemporary and highly entertaining book, Sex Lives of the Popes, author Nigel Cawthorne informs us:

            “Like other popes, Alexander III [1159-1181] had particular problems with the clergy in England.  Determined to have someone celibate in the See of Canterbury, he appointed the monk Clarembald, only to discover the he had seventeen illegitimate children in one village alone.

            At the that time, the Bishop of Lincoln [this would be Hugh] was concerned about the debauchery of nuns in England.  So he developed a novel test to see if they were living up to their vows of chastity.  He would go through the convents fondling the nuns’ breasts to see how they would react.”

 Hmmmm….What do YOU think???

Nevertheless,  Hugh of Lincoln is the most venerated saint in Great Britain today after Thomas Becket!

A Murder of Crows is book one in my historical mystery series, Flight Through Time, which is in production.

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.


THE ZODIAC OF TIME: GLASTONBURY’S ENIGMATIC TOR –FROM PREHISTORIC ORIGINS TO LONDON’S OPENING CEREMONIES FOR THE 2012 OLYMPICS

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology 4 Comments

About a year ago, I posted a blog about one of my most favorite places in England, Glastonbury Abbey, the site of Britain’s earliest devotion to Christianity.  In that blog I mentioned Glastonbury’s famous Tor only in passing.  The truth is that in reality, this ‘hill’ (for the translation of ‘tor’ is hill) deserves so much more as witnessed by the fact that Danny Boyle, producer for the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics, chose it as a very graphic focal point.

 Reaching back into ancient times, the myths surrounding the Tor are extensive in scope.  From a small guide produced by the Gothic Image, THE bookstore in Glastonbury, we’re told that the Tor has been called, “a magic mountain, the fairies’ glass mountain, a spiral castle, a Grail castle, the Land of the Dead, Hades, a Druid initiation center, an Arthurian hill-fort, a magnetic power-point, a ley-line crossroads, a center for Great Goddess fertility rituals and celebrations, and a converging-point for flying saucers.”

Scientific proof of several of these myths eludes…although it has been established that the Tor is a ley-line crossroad.  As for other suggestions, what I can say is that having climbed the Tor on several occasions over the years, there is something very other worldly about its energy and atmosphere…time and space seem to inexplicably dissolve.  My mentor in evolutionary astrology, Steven Forrest, would no doubt say, it’s  positively ‘Neptunian’!

Rising 518 feet through the (often) misty landscape, the Tor suddenly manifests in the distance as you round an eastbound curve on the A361 outside of Glastonbury…not unlike the sudden appearance of Stonehenge, which stands starkly isolated on the Salisbury Plain.  And like Stonehenge, once you see it, it’s difficult to keep your eyes on the road.

 Among more recent speculations regarding the Tor are those ascribed to a British artist, Katharine MaltwoodIn 1935 Maltwood announced her aerial discovery of a ‘vast terrestrial Zodiac’ revealed through the topography of the Tor and surrounding countryside.  While her claims of zodiacal connections are abstract within the framework of what we think of as the traditional Zodiac, there is evidence that Maltwood had company in making such claims by Queen Elizabeth I’s celebrated astrologer, Dr. John Dee.

 So much has been written about this landmark that even if you never have the opportunity to visit it physically, you can read and let your mind cross the barriers of reality which is exactly why I chose it to play a significant part in my book, “A Conspiracy of Ravens” the second of historical mysteries in my “Flight Through Time” series, currently in production.

 As for the closing ceremonies of the Olympics; I wouldn’t be surprised to find that we haven’t seen the last of Glastonbury’s Tor.

         St.  Michael’s Tower, from which Glastonbury’s last Abbot, Richard Whiting was hanged, drawn and quartered

                                  by Henry VIII’s men for refusing to reveal secrets of Glastonbury Abbey at the time of the dissolution

      Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.


WHEN THE SUN MOVES INTO LEO, LIONS MAY NEED EDWARD BACH’S ELM AND VERVAIN REMEDIES FOR EVOLUTIONARY BALANCE

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology Leave a comment

On July 22nd, the summer sun left the quiet, nurturing sign of Cancer,  and roared into the fire sign of Leo.  No doubt about it, nothing is quiet about this sign.  Jupiter may be the king of planets, but Leo is royalty in the zodiac and like royalty, all things are about ‘expression’.  Where Cancer prefers involution, Leo thrives on evolution… “All the world’s a stage” for The Lion.  Like its feline counterparts, Leos like to preen, be seen AND HEARD! And, because this sign rules the zodiacal 5th house of ‘creativity’ (among a few other things), there’s an innate flair for dazzling drama other signs can only sigh and fantasize about (well there are a few exceptions about the fantasy thing, which I’ll leave for you to speculate on!)

Like all astrological  signs, Leo has a shadow side that can get in the way of its soul evolution.  In the body, Leo traditionally rules the heart, blood and cardiac system.  Typically those born under a well aspected Leo sun have big hearts but never doubt that they need to shine.  In evolutional astrology, the Leo sun is here to develop personality and ego, but there can be predictable bumps along this path.

Leo is a ‘fixed sign’ like Taurus and Aquarius.  Despite the lion’s endearing enthusiasm for ‘going big’, he or she, can become zealous, overbearing, over the top, intense and prideful along the way.  And, they can easily take on too much, more than they can handle and in the end,  burn themselves out.  When Leo moves into any of these energies, Dr. Edward Bach’s flower remedies, Elm and Vervain, immediately come to mind as resources for getting the lion back on track. 

 Elm is typically regarded as a ‘temporary’ mood state (which is why it’s another remedy I have in the big bottle on my desk!).  “Overwhelmed Elm” succinctly describes the mood, which is one that overachieves, takes on way too much and then hits the wall.  The action of the Elm remedy is one that shifts the perception of everything being ‘priority’ to one of prioritizing in the very ‘Capricornian’ manner of one foot in front of the other; chop wood, carry water.

 As one of Dr. Bach’s original ‘Twelve Healers, the energy of Vervain is both a mood state and a soul type.  Vervain is all about ‘over enthusiasm’ fighting for the underdog, seeing the ‘right’ in all things.  Vervain is ‘heart centered’, but like the well meaning Leos, when this soul type or the temporary mood state moves into its negative or shadow energy, it becomes intense, zealous and can be intolerant.  The beauty of this remedy is that its energy brings these shadow behaviors into balance, particularly regarding tolerance so that the soul can come through, bringing harmony to the Leo’s heart with evolutionary intent.   

ELM

VERVAIN

Photography©Dr. Edward Bach Foundation


GLASTONBURY ABBEY’S GREAT FIRE OF 1184–WAS PETER D’MARCY AN ARSONIST?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work Leave a comment

The Great Fire of 1184, which all but destroyed Britain’s oldest site of Christianity, Glastonbury Abbey,  is legendary.  For 900 years, myth and speculation have flourished as to the cause of this catastrophic event.  The majority speculation put forth by historians is that unusual winds on the morning of May 25, 1184 were responsible, causing an entry curtain to the ‘Holy of Holies’ in the ‘Ecclesia Vestuta’ (old church) to catch fire from burning candles.  Regardless of the cause, the initial sparks of flame combined with the high winds took the famous abbey to the ground in a matter of hours; it’s precious documents destroyed along with its treasures melted by heat and countless graves of monks, abbots and saints.

 However, when I was researching this event for my historical mystery, “A Conspiracy of Ravens”, I discovered Adam of Damerham.  Adam was a 12th century monk who wrote a history of the abbey and where the Glastonbury fire is concerned, Adam had an entirely different theory as to its cause.   Following the death of the beloved Abbot Robert in 1178, King Henry II assigned the position of ‘Custodian’ to Peter D’Marcy, a Cluniac monk who had some kind of relationship to Henry.  Despite the desires of the Glastonbury monks for Henry to name a proper abbot, the king stalled.  With no abbot in place it gave the wily monarch direct access to Glastonbury’s wealthy treasury, a resource which Henry needed to finance his wars with the French. Thus, as a compromise, he named D’Marcy to oversee the Glastonbury community.

 Unfortunately Peter proved to be very unpopular for a variety of reasons.  He nearly drove the abbey into the ground financially, was relentlessly diabolical in his scheming to manipulate his way to the abbot’s chair, not to mention the  suspicion that Peter  ‘compressed’ (as in eliminated) certain monks who were obstacles to achieving this goal. As an interim solution and effort to appease the monks, Henry then appointed Hugh of Avalon (who would later become Hugh of Lincoln, the most revered saint after Becket) to ‘supervise’ D’Marcy.  Things did not go well with this arrangement either.

 By December of 1183, the hatred of D’Marcy was beyond rampant.  In one final scheme to endear the monks to his cause of obtaining the ‘abbot’s chair’, D’Marcy, his mental state now suspect, planned a ‘faux mass’ on Christmas Eve in the ‘Ecclesia Vestuta.’  This blasphemous act was the last straw with the Glastonbury community and one can only imagine how the monks reacted.   Adam of Damerham speculates that in retaliation,  D’Marcy set fire to the abbey.  Interestingly, historians note that while he survived the fire, shortly afterwards D’Marcy died from ‘unknown causes.’

“A Conspiracy of Ravens” is the second of my planned six book historical mystery series, “Flight Through Time”, which is in production.


WAS ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE A DRAMA QUEEN LEO OR….

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work Leave a comment

In “Flight Through Time”, my 12th century mystery series, Eleanor of Aquitaine is the queen of the hour.  Historically a fascinating woman, scholars, historical fiction authors… not to mention Hollywood, can’t seem to get enough of her; nor can I.  If someone were to ask, “if you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you choose?” hands down it would be Eleanor.

 As I was working on a scene for my 3rd book, “A Watch of Nightingales”, the thought crossed my mind… ‘I wonder what Eleanor’s birth chart looks like?’  An hour of searching through various sources resulted in the disappointing realization that most likely we’ll never know.  While in the 12th century the midwife wasn’t noting time of birth according to the birthing suite clock, scholars can’t even agree on the year of Eleanor’s birth and no one of any authority even contemplates a date.  Disappointing news for sure but the thought  becomes an intriguing brain game of speculation.

 Eleanor was a woman  who by all accounts, was highly educated and welcomed travel…and travel she did, throughout her lifetime.  Even when her second husband Henry II  (the rogue!) had her locked up, he would take her on the road with him or more accurately, back and forth across the Channel.  She was a well read woman for her time.  In addition, her biographers (of which there are many) do not indicate that  she found travel extraordinarily distasteful .  Thus, one could suspect that  she might have been a fiery Sagittarius or that she had a strong 9th house (long journeys over water, higher philosophy). “Exploring the world as your oyster” would have been a suitable mantra for Eleanor.   Enduring relationships however, were an entirely different issue…not a strong point for her.   We know her relationships with her children, as well as her marriages, were not evenly balanced (despite the lone and suspect chart I found that places her as a Libra….really?).  She definitely was not a role model for harmony and integration. 

 In the realm of ‘what if’, it’s apparent that Eleanor liked the kind of drama often ascribed to the Leo sun.  No question,y she reveled in it and in her own way,  reveled being on the world stage.  No wall flower was she.  Alison Weir, the highly regarded authority on Eleanor, states that Eleanor’s court (obviously before her incarceration by Henry) was like no other in all of Europe.  She loved and supported the arts.  She had fine clothes and possessions… “gold for plates and goblets…favorite wines from La Rochelle.”  Her decoration was always the latest in fashion including glazed windows, tiled floors and carpets from the orient.  In a phrase this was a woman who was not economical and was all about “how it and she looked.”  Very Leonine. (I admit, she may have also had Venus in Taurus!)

On the other hand, this was a woman who was calculating in a very analytical way.  In all of her efforts to protect land holdings for Richard I, her favorite child, she plotted and schemed with military precision as if she were in a chess game for life against Henry who favored young Henry until his death and then, John.  Unfortunately no one liked the other son, Geoffrey. 

 She plotted with Richard behind the scenes; she plotted with her spies when Henry gave her more freedom around 1180 and onwards.  Bottom line, Eleanor never gave up plotting against Henry until he died at Chinon in 1189.  Now, one could say this is the shadow of Scorpio…and it would be fair.  However, keeping in mind that the Sun in a chart is the spirit, the spark, the vitality of our soul, Eleanor’s penchant for plotting like a military general, the analytical approach in her make-up not to mention her duty and service as Queen to her vast constituency as she moved the chess pieces of life around the board behind the scenes, I think point to a different sign.  While not the best face forward of it, I think she possibly might have been a…..VIRGO.

A final note:  the ‘Flight Through Time’ series is in production and not yet published.