Gaye Mack’s Blog

DOES THE PISCES FULL MOON REFLECT THE 13THC CATHARS’ VISION ?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Uncategorized, Writer's Work Leave a comment

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ll have guessed that I’m back from my adventure to the L’Occitaine region in the French Pyrenees, land of the 13thc heretical sect known as the Cathars. While I’ve posted from time to time about this fascinating community, the opportunity to learn more of their extremely complex history in the midst of incredibly difficult landscape, far outstrips reading about them.  Amazingly they survived for years against Rome’s continuous and brutal assault until their final end by fiery execution at Montsegur in 1244.   When climbing very difficult steep and rocky ground up to a ruin that’s 3,400 ft above a parking lot as is the castle at Montsegur, questions tick over in the mind; how did they manage, how did they get provisions up there, how did they survive the winters? Simple answers to such things are beyond comprehension.

To quickly review:  the Cathar movement which regarded the hierarchy of the Catholic church with all of its trappings, as a greedy, self-serving entity, grew out of the Balkans.  It spread to various regions in Europe starting in the late 12th century but nowhere did it spread like wildfire as it did in the Languedoc of modern-day France, aided and protected by some of the region’s most powerful nobility, particularly Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse.  When on January 1208 Brother Peter of Castelnau, the papal legate was assassinated by one of Raymond’s officers, Pope Innocent III found his excuse to declare holy war upon Raymond’s vast territories which had been a ‘nest of heresy’ for years.  The Papal floodgates were then open that resulted in years of unspeakable brutality against this gentle, peace-loving community.  So what was it in their basic belief system that made the Cathars such enemies of Rome?  

Besides their disdain for the obvious excesses of the Church, the Cathars believed in Dualism.  For them, the physical world and everything in it was a creation of Satan(including the body and procreation) while purity of spirit was gained through a direct connection to God or the Divine.  In their view, a belief system that supported a corrupt  hierarchy and homage to a Pope was the very embodiment of Satan.  Nevertheless, they were known for their compassion as healers, providers for the poor, sources of spiritual guidance, herbalists and yes, astrologers, which brings me to the forthcoming Pisces Full Moon on Thursday, September 19th.

 With the Moon in this cosmic  and compassionate sign of the zodiac, represented by its glyph of two conjoined fish swimming in opposite directions, we’re reminded of the transcendence of duality…’we can be of the world but not in it’; each of us is uniquely part of a much bigger picture, indivisible from the vast oceanic Universe.  Is it any wonder that some references on the Cathars note the Perfects or Parfaits (those who had taken vows of devotion) wore belts displaying the Piscean glyph as part of their simple habits?

In Evolutionary Astrology, our goal is always to look and work toward who we were meant to be, not who we think we are compared to others.  As this week’s forthcoming Piscean Full Moon waxes, perhaps its light will remind us of this intention as no doubt it may have done 800 years ago for the Cathars.

 

 the view of cathar country

View from Termes Castle~site of the longest siege during the  Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars

The 1550 ft steep climb up to the castle ruins ends on a hilltop surrounded on three sides by a ravine formed by the river Sou. 

Photography ©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

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Keys to What’s Holding You Back-Evolutionary Astrology and Dr. Bach’s Flower Remedies-

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

August 20th arrives with a Full Moon in Aquarius.  Ruled by the planet Uranus, individually and globally we’re being pushed to embrace innovation, individuation and collaboration…a mouthful. This said, illuminating this Aquarian moon is the Sun in heart-centered Leo, reminding us that we must not forget to be true to our Soul’s intent for us to evolve as spirit in body.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, the science of Evolutionary Astrology is about transformation.  In the evolutionary analysis of the birth chart, we’re presented with a powerful tool that metaphorically offers a map and compass which reveals our Soul’s unique agenda and pathway for this lifetime. In addition, this process presents us with the opportunity to confront psychological karmic energy from a distant past that haunts us at an unconscious level; in essence this elusive energy holds us back.  Certainly the prospect of stepping up to this challenge is a daunting one that requires courage and faith to leap into the unknown in order to break the ties that bind.‘ 

Once we become aware of what we need to leave behind and in what ways we need to move forward on this journey of self-discovery, we can call upon several of Dr. Bach’s powerful flower remedies for support.   His remedy Walnut immediately comes to mind, for Walnut expressly helps us to cut binding ties and at the same time ‘stay the course’ toward our ‘next right step.’  

Additionally, there’s another remedy for this situation in Dr. Bach’s famous ’38’—Honeysuckle.  The dynamics of Honeysuckle specifically relate to those emotional states of mind wherein the individual cannot let go of the past.  Often this memory state manifests as unrealistic longings to return to a nebulous history that’s wrapped up in fantasy or it can be recall within the present lifetime that nevertheless, is also conjured up in fantasy.  Such desires can be attached to grief and loss or simply a wanting to escape.   In either state of emotional psychology, it’s the avoidance of the present which prevents movement into the future.  

So, as we enter the energy of the forthcoming Aquarian Full Moon, we have tools to help us move forward on our journey of growth…an analysis of our astrological birth chart through the evolutionary lens, Dr. Bach’s Honeysuckle, or both!

walnut-300x215

 Dr. Edward Bach’s Walnut

 Honeysuckle

 Dr. Edward Bach’s Honeysuckle

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AVOID REGRETS AT END OF LIFE- A CASE FOR EVOLUTIONARY ASTROLOGY

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Worth the Read, Writer's Work Leave a comment

A deviation from my usual blog topics, I happened to come across the following posting from Huffington about Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative nurse who turned her journal notating the most common regrets of her dying patients into a book- The Top Five Regrets of The Dying.  What I found ‘interesting’ in reading the following excerpt is that I saw this minutes after being informed that the last of my living uncles had passed away yesterday evening at the ripe age of 98.  

He was my mother’s oldest brother and the final survivor of that generation.  It’s no secret that siblings often quibble about each other’s ‘ways of being'(although being an only child I fortunately escaped this one!).  My mother and her siblings were no exception and so this excerpt of Bronnie’s gave me pause; I realized that as I read the following five common regrets, they make a wonderful case for evolutionary astrology as a valuable tool for actively facilitating our Soul’s growth while we have the time.  

Through the evolutionary astrological lens, everyone’s birth chart reveals where and how we have opportunity to make course corrections in this life from past Karma that haunts us at unconscious levels within our being.  We have time; in doing so, it’s possible to bypass some or perhaps all of the regrets Bronnie outlines from her experiences with the dying.  If you’re interested to know more about Evolutionary Astrology and its benefits, please checkout my website.  Steven Forrest, one of the most globally recognized evolutionary astrologers and my teacher, has excellent information on his site as well.  In the meantime, I’m certain you’ll find that Bronnie’s insights sound intimately familiar and that interestingly, they resonate with the core of Evolutionary Astrology!

One thing on regret before we get to the list. It’s important to remember that whatever stage we are at in life, there is no need for regret. The process of regret is one that provides nothing but suffering for ourselves as we begin to allow the past to dictate how we should feel now. Instead, we can use the past as a reference point to understand what adjustments we would like to make moving forward. The adjustments do not have to come out of pain, sorrow, regret or judgment, but simply a choice to do things in a different way. We are learning all the time, we can very quickly slow that learning process down by getting stuck in the idea of regret. When it comes to making changes, be at peace with the past and remember that each moment is a new choice.”

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

 ”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.” 

 

astrology-image

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RELIC OF JESUS’ CRUCIFICTION CROSS FOUND OR MORE OF THE SAME?

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

 

Admittedly, the time frame here is far earlier than the 12th or 13th centuries I’m used to exploring and writing about, but yesterday’s piece in Huffington  was just too good to pass up here for those of you who missed it on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and every other social media outlet on the planet.  This said, once again a flurry of active speculation amongst archaeological and religious academics pitted against the faithful is sure to escalate.  As I’ve commented earlier, it seems that we’ve entered an era of, to borrow Hilary Mantel’s latest book title, ‘Bringing Up the Bodies‘(and everything with them), non-stop

Recent memory zooms to the controversy over remains now concluded to be England’s diabolical(depending on your point of view) King Richard the III.  This excavation was closely followed by discovery of remains speculated to be those of England’s more venerated king, Alfred of Wessex (the jury’s still out on this one as far as I know.)  Nevertheless, the contemplation of ‘what if’ continues to intrigue us.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that discovery of and hawking of, ‘authentic relics’ which are nothing more than fakes is big business that’s older than Methuselah that continues to flourish around the globe.

Still, every time such events are splashed across the media, many of us yearn in hope beyond hope that the real deal has been discovered…it does happen. As for the current ‘discovery’ at hand, we’ll just have to wait…but who knows?  There are so many treasure ‘truths’ waiting to yet be discovered and questions answered…Excalibur, the Grail, the mystical portal protected by the Sphinx, Nazca, Atlantis, Avalon, the pyramids, Stonehenge

In the meantime we can muse on the latest news from Huffington, et al:

“Archaeologists working in Turkey believe they have found a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on.

While excavating the ancient Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea, they uncovered a stone chest that contained objects that may be directly connected with Jesus Christ.

Excavation head Professor Gülgün Köroğlu definitively stated:

We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far.

The stone chest has been taken to a laboratory for further testing. However, the appearance of the chest suggests that it was a repository for the relics of a holy person, according to the team, who showed reporters at the site a stone with crosses carved into it.

Many churches claim to possess relics of the so-called “true cross,” though the authenticity of the items is not fully accepted by scholars and scientists. Protestant theologian John Calvin noted that, “if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load,” referring specifically to the cross. On the other hand, the 19th-century French archaeologist Charles Rohault de Fleury supposedly said that all of the cataloged relics would only make up less than a third of the mass of a roughly 12-foot-high cross.

But what originally happened to Jesus’ cross, and why has it turned up now? Legend says that Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, found the cross in Jerusalem and distributed pieces of the wood to religious leaders in Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople.

Balatlar Church, built in 660, has proved an especially rich dig site, as Köroğlu mentioned that in addition to the stone chest, her team has found the ruins of an ancient Roman bath and more than 1,000 human skeletons since they started working in 2009.”

 

tintagel castle

King Arthur’s domain?

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

 

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INTERVIEW WITH CHICAGO’S BEST-SELLING THRILLER AUTHOR, JAMIE FREVELETTI

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Worth the Read, Writer's Work Leave a comment

 

It was my recent pleasure to interview Chicago’s own best seller author, Jamie Freveletti, one of this year’s ‘featured authors’ for the  2014 Love Is Murder mystery/thriller writer’s conference February 7,8 & 9, 2014 at the Inter-Continental Chicago O’Hare Hotel.

A trial attorney, martial artist, and runner and holds a black belt in aikido, a Japanese martial art. After law school she lived in Geneva, Switzerland while obtaining a diploma in International Studies. Back in Chicago, she represented clients in areas ranging from class actions for mass salmonella poisoning to securities fraud. Her debut thriller, Running from the Devil, was chosen as a “Notable Book” by the Independent Booksellers of America, awarded “Best First Novel” by the International Thriller Writers, awarded a Barry Award for “Best First Novel” by Deadly Pleasures Magazine, and nominated for a Macavity Award for” Best First Mystery” by the Mystery Readers International and “Favorite First Novel of 2009” by Crimespree Magazine. It has been translated into three languages and was an international bestseller.

Her second novel, Running Dark, released in June, 2010, hit both the Chicagoland and South Florida bestseller lists and the third novel in her series, The Ninth Day released in September, 2011 and was chosen as one of the “Best Thrillers of 2011” by Suspense Magazine.

In January, 2011, she was tapped by the Estate of  Robert Ludlum to write the next in the Covert One series. That novel,Robert Ludlum’s The Janus Reprisal, released on September 11, 2012. The fourth in her series, Dead Asleep  released on October 30, 2012 and hit  #1 on Amazon’s kindle bestseller.

Q:  Jamie, your biography states that you’re a trial attorney.  I’m sure your readers are curious to know whether you’re still actively practicing law or if you are now writing full time.  And, if you’re still actively practicing, how do you manage to do this and yet write such wonderful books in fairly quick succession?

 A:  Since the Ludlum deal (where I was asked to write a book for the Covert One series) in addition to my own series, I have pursued writing as a full time career.  It was clear that with two books a year to write that I needed to make a choice about how to best manage my time. I resigned from the firm and focused on writing.

Q:  In the current publishing climate, the odds of a new fiction author landing a contract with one of the ‘big six’ is very difficult, even when they have a prominent agent.  What led you to decide to enter this arena  with its somewhat discouraging statistics and how did you obtain your agent?

 A:  I’ll never forget the moment that I decided to pursue a contract with a “big six” house. It was in 2007 and the current e-book revolution hadn’t happened yet. I had been pitching to smaller houses that seemed more available and open to new authors. I was asked to create a CD with special requirements to submit to one. I’m technologically savvy, so I wasn’t worried about doing it, but I was still working as an attorney, raising two small children, and writing in the dead of night after I got the kids to bed. I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to slot in even more time to package, distribute and market a novel in what was the then traditional manner. I made a decision at that moment to pursue an agent and shoot for the big houses. 

 I sat down and made a list of my “dream” editors and kept it on my desk. When I spilled coffee on it I wiped it off and posted it above my computer. Every day I looked at that list. In 2008, when my book Running From The Devil was acquired, it was by one of the editors on that list!  I also timed my query letters to allow for about two months before the next International Thriller Writer’s conference, where I knew they were having an “agentfest.”

I slaved over the query and submitted it cold to a batch of agents that I found through a search on publishers marketplace.com. Publishers Marketplace has a search engine that allows you to find all the thriller deals and the agents that sold them for the past several years. I picked active agencies that had sold thrillers in the past year and sent out the query. My current agent, Barbara Poelle, was brand new at the time and was one of several who contacted me. We met at Agentfest, clicked immediately, and three months later she sold the book. I credit the opportunity of being able to meet her in person as a key element that sealed the deal for both of us. 

 Q:  The publishing achievements of trial attorneys such as yourself, Turow and Grisham, would seem to indicate that there are particular skills acquired during your long years of legal training and courtroom experience which lend themselves to such successes.  This said, what in your experience would you say that might be directly related to such outcomes in general, and are there any particular skills that are a carry-over from your own training and practice as a trial attorney?

 A:  As litigators we have to tell a client’s story to a judge or jury in a way that makes sense and conveys the client’s intentions and acts. It’s perfect training for a writer to learn both the value of point of view and the need to order events in a way to form a plot. It’s invaluable.

Also, on a more mundane level, I have to again turn to the idea of time. Lawyers bill in small increments, sometimes as little as six minutes. You learn early on in your law career that time is valuable and become very aware of when you are wasting it. The discipline of billing hours has made me more effective in ordering my day now as a writer, because it takes a lot of self discipline to keep focused on a goal when it’s just you and your keyboard and a beautiful, sunny day is beckoning!

 Q:  Many years ago at ‘Dark and Stormy Nights’ I attended a session featuring Sara Paretsky.  One of the attendees asked her if V.I. Warshawski was her alter ego to which Sara replied there were aspects of V.I. she felt were her alter ego and others in V.I. which she would  like to have, but didn’tWith your main heroine, Emma Caldridge, readers can certainly see a bit of you in her from just reading your biography, but are there aspects of you in Emma the reader doesn’t see or characteristics of her that you might like to have or acquire in the future?

 A:  Emma is not me in a lot of ways. She’s a scientist, and that makes her much less emotional than I am. She is unafraid of plunging into dangerous areas of the world and is a bit of a loner. She is also a ton more patient than I am. I’m a social, emotional person who laughs more and worries a whole lot more than she does. I’d love to be able to slow down my brain and be more patient. I am patient with my kids, but get me behind the wheel of a car and in a traffic jam and I can feel the disbelief rising. Can it possibly take this long to drive a mile? Thank god for the radio. Music is what I love as much as reading. When the weather permits you’ll find me running errands on my bike and not in my car.  What we do have in common is athleticism. I love to run, bike and keep active, and so does she. 

 Q:  Every author in the mystery/thriller genre works differently during the process of creating  interaction and tension between characters against a background of escalating threads of action that eventually are drawn together.  Some use detailed grids, others use story boards or outlines and some let the story unfold once the initial germ of an idea or ideas is grounded in their mind.  In your creative process, what have you found works best for you and do you always use the same process?

 A:  I’m a seat of the pants writer through and through. I never know where a book will go when I sit down to write it. I have a simple, one or two sentence premise and I hit the keyboard. It keeps me interested through the months it takes to write a book. I’m discovering the story in the same, fresh way that a reader does. Having said that, I have been asked by the Ludlum Estate to present a synopsis of the book that I wrote for them. I shuddered when I first started that process, but I do see the beauty in planning, albeit just a little. I can’t ever see myself creating a detailed outline, though I have writer friends that do and they swear by them. For me, creating an outline would waste time that would better be spent writing. 

 Q:  Your writing style creates a wonderful ‘sense of place’ which takes the reader right into the locations.  As each of your books including The Janus Reprisal, is set in ‘interesting’ places do you feel a writer needs to have experienced the places they use for their stories?  And, if this isn’t possible, (especially in the case of foreign locations) do you have suggestions as to how one might successfully create a ‘sense of place’ for the reader even if they haven’t experienced it first hand?

 A:  I’ve traveled to most of the places that I write about, including Colombia, but not Somalia. For that country I ended up contacting a journalist who was there and we exchanged emails. I also use Google earth and street view. I will watch an area over the course of several days and get a feel for the rhythm of life there.  I suggest using Google earth and reading traveler’s blogs, especially back packer blogs.

The bloggers are wonderful in their often detailed explanations of the different areas that they visit. My next Emma Caldridge book is set in West Africa and I’m reading some wonderful postings from Peace Corp and Foreign aid workers. I’ll probably take a trip to Morocco for more research on this one, but I’ll stay in hotels and travel safely. The Peace Corp volunteers really see a country the way that Emma would experience it, and their journals are invaluable to me. 

 Q:  Could you speak a bit about how you came to be tapped by Robert Ludlum’s estate and selected as one of the writers for the ‘Covert One’ series?  Do you anticipate that you’ll be writing in the future for the series?

 A:   My understanding of the process is that the Estate was evaluating several authors that would be a good fit for the series. I learned that I was one of the three finalists on their list in New York after Running From The Devil won ITW’s Best First Novel award. I mean literally after, because I stumbled off the stage in a daze of happiness and tears and went straight out of the ballroom to settle down and regroup. My agent was with me and told me then. I tried not to think about it too much. because one of three, while good odds, is still not a done deal. Three months later Running From The Devil won the Barry award in San Francisco and again, after I got off the podium, my agent told me that we were to meet with representatives of the Estate in the bar for a drink and conversation. I learned then that they wanted me to consider the project. It’s been a great experience and I am in conversation to write a possible second. The details haven’t been pinned down as yet, but I’ll update the “News” section of my website when they are!  

 Q:  Do you have a new book currently in process that your readers can look forward to? 

A:  Yes! I’m working on the fifth in the Emma Caldridge series. This idea for this one came to me when I was reading about the Dakkar rally, a famous motor race from Paris to Dakkar, Senegal, that crosses the Sahara desert. Seems that the race was moved to South America after the unrest in West Africa and Mauritania became increasingly dangerous. I started reading about the area and decided that it was a fascinating “hot” territory bubbling with unrest and close to exploding.

I put Emma there, and she’ll be caught between two warring terrorist organizations vying for control of West Africa and forced to march to Marrakech through Mauritania. Along the way she collects aide workers and refugees and helps lead them to safety. She also takes on a few guerrilla camps when she finds that they are stealing the aide supplies sent from the West. It’s been a great book to write and is one of my grittier and more socially aware story lines. I’m also working on a stand alone thriller that will feature a new character, and then there’s the possible future Covert One. Needless to say, I’m writing full time and then some! 

 Q:  Finally, given the current publishing landscape that seems to be changing by the hour these days, how do you think it will look for aspiring authors say, within the next three years or so?

 A:  I’m fairly new to this industry and only have a short time line perspective, but it seems to me that there’s never been so much opportunity for authors to carve their own path than there is now. I love working with publishing houses, but I also enjoy that I can write a short story or novella and have a place to publish them. I wrote a serial novella featuring Emma in three short episodes called Risk, Gone, and Run. They were designed to be short enough to finish on a subway or train ride, but when strung together formed a complete novella and are published only in electronic form. The ability to work in different formats help keep things fresh and interesting, and I love it. 

I’m releasing another short story that I wrote, called Buddha’s Black Soul, which grew out of an actual incident. My father lived in rural Missouri and had a beloved German Shepard police dog. Someone in the area began shooting and killing animals under cover of darkness, including cows and other livestock, and Sheba was shot in the jaw. The vet tried to save her, but she died of an infection. I wrote the story out of anger, but when I was done it seemed to be really about karma and how our acts, either good or bad, circle back to us. Hence the title. I hope to release it in late August. 

Jamie Freveletti's latest!

Jamie Freveletti’s latest!

 

 

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