Gaye Mack’s Blog

DR. BACH’S ELM CALLS FOR TAKING A BREAK FROM OVERWHELMED

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

Greetings everyone!

Reluctantly,  I’ve decided to take a small break from blogging as somehow I’ve maneuvered myself into Dr. Bach’s ‘Elm’ state ‘conjunct’ with the movement of the Sun, Venus, Mars, Uranus and soon Mercury(!) into the fiery ‘initiating’ energy of Aries!  Bottom line, like so many of you who fall into the same trap, I’ve suddenly  found myself ‘overwhelmed’.  So  besides taking  Bach’s  flower remedy Elm, (Elm for ‘overwhelmed’) I’m stepping back to take a breath,  reorganize myself and projects.  This ‘interval'(such a British term) won’t last long and I hope to resume before the end of the month with new pieces on ‘history’s mysteries’, planetary movements affecting us and the integration of Dr. Bach’s flower remedies to help us weather the ‘winds of change.’

In the meantime, a peek at what I have my fingers into:  a complete redesign of my traditional website and this blog which will be integrated when finished.  I’m working with the terrific team at Beyond Indigo who are creating the redesign as I write new and edit existing copy.  Another project is my possible fall trip to Cathar country in southern France.  The Cathars’ story (their persecution by the Catholic Church otherwise known as the ‘Inquisition’)  has long been a subject of fascination for me and will  provide the foundation for my next historical fiction book.  Depending on how this ‘film’ develops, I hope to be blogging more on this intriguing piece of history.  Also in the mix is my work on the sequel to Igniting Soul Fire, Spiritual Dimensions of the Bach Flower Remedies, which explores Dr. Bach’s Twelve Healers and the Karmic story in our birth charts!  

In any case, I intend to be back before the month is out and look forward to it(along with Spring which hopefully will finally have arrived in Chicago by then!)

Elm

 

Dr. Bach’s Elm for ‘Overwhelmed’

Photography©Dr. Edward Bach Centre

 Aries                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The Fire of Aries Ushers in this Spring with Lighting Initiatory Action

 

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EXCAVATIONS AT BRITAIN’S 12THC FURNESS ABBEY REVEALS PHENOMENAL REMAINS OF ABBOT

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

     Approximately a year ago, archeological researchers from Oxford discovered remains of one of Furness Abbey’s medieval abbots. Furness, founded in 1124 by King Stephen.  Located in northern Cumbria, it was the second largest, wealthiest and obviously influential, abbey in the country prior to the dissolution rampage of King Henry VIII.  The following is an excerpt of a report of the find filed by Fatima Manji with Britain’s Channel 4 News:

    The skeleton was found by Oxford Archaeology North who were carrying out excavations during emergency repairs at the Cumbrian site.  The rare find could date as far back as the 12th century. The abbot’s body was buried with a very rare medieval gilded crosier and jeweled ring.  [According to] English Heritage curator Susan Harrison, “This is really significant because it’s the first time under modern conditions that an abbatial or abbot burial has been discovered intact with so much detail and information – from the skeleton to the mark of his office, his crosier, his ring, but also fragments of textile in there.”

     Oxford Archaeology North’s Stephen Rowland[stated],  “It’s extremely rare to find such a burial. Nationally he’s an important person; he’s a member of the Cistercian order which was the most powerful monastic order in England. He would have had estates across the Furness Peninsula, into Cambria, Lancashire and Yorkshire, control over large amounts of resources. He was a bit like a feudal overlord.”

     The archaeologists are now carrying out carbon 14 dating to find out when the abbot actually died. The results of this could give them a 25 year window, which may help to identify which abbot he was. However, the window could be as much as 100 years either side of his actual death.  Ms Harrison explained how the burial was found: “It was noted that the walls of the east end of the church were cracking and subsiding. A major investigation was set up by English Heritage to work out what was happening with these walls and then to try and reduce any impact on the ground. Archaeological work was undertaken to enable us to find out what was significant in the area that we were going to do further works on to stabilise the abbey ruins.”

     Mr Rowland explained what they already know about the abbot. He said: “We think he’s about 40 to 50-years-old which we can tell from the wear on his teeth, the way the bones are fused together and the sutures on the skull and the aspects on the pelvis. He’s about 5’7 tall by measuring his leg bones and he would have been a very important person in the abbey.”  He said the abbot probably suffered from arthritis and was most likely a portly man. He said: “He’s got a bony growth going down his vertebrae. It’s a condition called DISH, which is associated with obesity and middle-aged onset type-2 diabetes. So it’s quite probable that he was having a fairly rich diet.  The abbot’s knees were also worn.” Mr Rowland added: “He could have been praying quite a bit on his knees. We’ve got arthritis around his platella on his knee cap – again this signifies more bony growth.  He could have spent a bit of time on his knees writing and reading quite a lot, but he wasn’t hugely active like other medieval people of lower status really.”

    Ms Harrison said the ring was probably a reminder of piety: “It tells us he was a man of status to wear a ring. It was found on one of the fingers of his right hand and what’s really interesting is that it’s a copper alloy but it’s been gilded and it’s got a point behind – can you imagine how uncomfortable it would have been to wear that? It’s possibly as a reminder of his piety, a reminder of his position and his oaths to god.”

    The head of the crosier is made of gilded copper and decorated with gilded silver medallions showing the Archangel Michael defeating a dragon. The crosier’s crook or end is decorated with a serpent’s head.  Ms Harrison added: “This abbot was obviously of high status because he was buried with a very nice crosier, rather than a wooden or a lead replica of that. It’s in good condition. The only damage is caused by corrosion in the ground.”

 

mortuary chest

Mortuary Chests Such As This One in Winchester’s Cathedral Were Often Used To Hold Ecclesiastical Remains

Photography ©Gaye F. Mack, Inc. 

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IS ST. PATRICK BURIED AT GLASTONBURY ABBEY?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Writer's Work 1 Comment

Was St. Patrick ever at Glastonbury Abbey in the early 5th Century?  Legend says he was but then, as is the case of many of ancient stories, we’ll never know for sure.  There is however, a document known as the Charter of St. Patrick believed to have been written by Glastonbury monks in the late 13th century.  The exact purpose isn’t clear, but it does purportedly narrate in his own words,  the account of Patrick’s arrival at Glastonbury in 430 A.D.  Clearly the gap in time makes the authenticity of the Charter’s narrative  suspect and begs the question, why would the  monks produce such a document 900 years after the fact?  One explanation could be that it was a PR stunt.

Leading up to the catastrophic fire of 1184 which took Britain’s wealthiest abbey to ground, Glastonbury was in a state of political chaos, the circumstances which I write about in my historical mystery, A Conspiracy of Ravens(represented by Peter Miller-unpublished).  However, despite King Henry II’s support in the abbey’s rebuilding immediately following the fire, down the road the monks needed to sustain pilgrim traffic in order to keep the coffers topped up.

Along with the Arthurian legends which include the re-internment of Arthur and Guinevere at the foot of a black marble high altar during the state visit of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile in 1278,  it didn’t hurt to add St. Patrick into the mix.  Nevertheless, whether legend, myth or fact, allegedly St. Patrick’s bones are believed to have been buried under the floor of the small chapel shrine that bears his name and stands among Glastonbury’s remains–a claim the Irish understandably, strongly contest.

The Charter of St. Patrick(excerpt)

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Patrick, the humble servant of God, in the year of His Incarnation 430, was sent into Ireland by the most holy Pope Celestine, and by God’s grace converted the Irish to the way of truth; and, when I had established them in the Catholic faith, at length I returned to Britain, and, as I believe, by the guidance of God, who is the life and the way, I chanced upon the isle of Ynsgytrin, wherein I found a place holy and ancient, chosen and sanctified by God in honour of Mary the pure Virgin, the Mother of God: and there I found certain brethren imbued with the rudiments of the Catholic faith, and of pious conversation, who were successors of the disciples of St Phagan and St Deruvian, whose names for the merit of their lives I verily believe are written in heaven: and because the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance, since tenderly I loved those brethren, I have thought good to record their names in this my writing.

And they are these: Brumban, Hyregaan, Brenwal, Wencreth, Bamtonmeweng, Adelwalred, Lothor, Wellias, Breden, Swelwes, Hin Loernius, and another Hin. These men, being of noble birth and wishing to crown their nobleness with deeds of faith, had chosen to lead a bermit’s life ; and when I found them meek and gentle, I chose to be in low estate with them, rather than to dwell in kings’ palaces. And since we were all of one heart and one mind, we chose to dwell together, and eat and drink in common, and sleep in the same house.

And so they set me, though unwilling, at their head: for indeed I was not worthy to unloose the latchet of their shoes. And, when we were thus leading the monastic life according to the pattern of the approved fathers, the brothers showed me writings of St Phagan and St Deruvian, wherein it was contained that twelve disciples of St Philip and St James had built that Old Church in honour of our Patroness aforesaid, instructed thereto by the blessed archangel Gabriel.

glastonbury

Remains of one of the giant piers of Glastonbury’s Majorum Ecclesia 

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

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Food on Offer in Medieval Scotland’s 16th Century

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

For today’s post I’m pleased to welcome Margaret Skea, author of  the debut novel Turn of the Tide,  the Historical Fiction Winner in the Harper Collins People’s Novelist Competition, released in Nov 2012 by Capercaillie Books.  You can find Margaret on Facebook and on her website www.margaretskea.com.  For her guest post today, Margaret offers us an ‘interesting’ perspective of 16th century foodstuffs and guidelines… surprisingly there seems to have been agencies remotely mimicking our own USDA or FDA !  However, not all of the offerings would be appealing to our 21st century palates…in which case, for those that view the Medieval culture as ‘romantic’, you might rethink this.  Bon Appetit!

Food Standards Agency 16th century style…Or…What’s in this meat pie?  

by Margaret Skea 

Readers in the UK may or may not be concerned about the current ‘horse meat labeled as beef’ scandal.  For those of you in the US or elsewhere who might not have heard, there is currently a Europe-wide crisis with horse meat DNA having been found in many supposedly beef ready-meals, burgers, etc., with Food Standards Agencies running rings round themselves, testing everything in sight to discover the scale of the fraud.  For the record, I’m not worried, though I would prefer to know what I’m eating.  And if I’m not currently enjoying any burgers, I am at least enjoying the host of jokes that the crisis has spawned–my (suitably historic) favourite:  “After finding Richard III in a Leicester Car Park, scientists have found his horse in a Tesco burger.”
 
Is the mislabeling and adulteration of food a new problem?  Definitely not.  I imagine it’s been an issue for millennia, but I personally haven’t delved further back than the 15th and 16th centuries.  It was certainly a problem then, however, and to protect the customer and avoid disorder there were strict market regulations governing what could be sold, where, and in what form.  

In Scotland, some regulations came from the burghs themselves, some by statute, and the penalties for breaching them were suitably harsh.  Take bread, for example.  Scotland, in common with most of Europe suffered from ‘bread riots’, with one notable difference–the rioters in Scotland were not the poor, desperate for reasonably priced food, but the bakers or ‘baxters’ themselves, protesting about price restrictions imposed by the burgh authorities in response to regular Acts of Parliament.

 
Most bread was made from wheat, though the poorest households probably made their own flat and fairly indigestible barley bannocks.  The price and weight of bread was set but fluctuated according to the price of wheat.  Burgh records describe the bailies taking flour ground from a firlot (roughly equivalent to an imperial bushel) of wheat to a baker and watching as the bread was baked.
 The resulting loaf was the standard against which all other loaves were measured.  Any baker selling underweight bread risked, at best, a fine and confiscation of his stock, and at worst, his oven being broken. 
Often the sale of bread, as of other foodstuffs, was restricted to freemen or women – those with Burgess status. ‘Outlanders’, coming into the burgh from outside, were sometimes allowed to trade, but only if they paid the burgh for the privilege. Quality was also controlled, different grades of bread being classified as ‘white’ or ‘gray’ – not the most appealing of names – but all was to be ‘good’ and ‘dry’, which probably meant well-fired and well-risen – nothing worse than a damp and soggy loaf! 
Ale was also strictly regulated – the price dependent both on the price of malt and the quality of the ale. Tasters, or ‘conners’ were appointed on annual contracts, and having graded the ales they chalked the set prices on the shutters or door of the brewsters so that they could be clearly seen. Anyone found to be over-charging could have the bottom knocked out of his brewing vessels. (Interesting that 16th century burgh authorities were concerned with imposing a maximum price for alcohol, while the current debate relates to minimum pricing.)

As now, horse was not a normal part of the 16th century Scottish diet – they were in any case much too valuable to eat. There is however plenty of evidence of the consumption of beef, mutton, pork and goat in the burghs, along with salmon, and seawater fish in coastal areas. Meat regulation was primarily concerned with quality and, as in the current horse meat scandal, with ensuring that customers knew exactly what they were buying.

There has been much discussion on the length of our food chain, with meat being shipped all round Europe before it lands on a British table. Back then the food chain was extremely short, animals were to be slaughtered outside, in public view, and importantly, at the point of sale .  One way to ensure that a customer knows what animal they’re about to eat.  There were other issues too – the sale of meat from ‘longsoucht’ (lung-diseased) animals was banned, as was the sale of damaged or poorly butchered meat.

Efforts were made to outlaw dishonest practices designed to improve the appearance of meat, for example blowing air into a entire carcass, which plumped it up – to much the same effect, I imagine, as the modern practice of the addition of water, or the bleeding of animals before slaughter, which masked last minute feeding.  Not everyone was so well protected though – a rather shocking regulation stated that putrid pork or fish should be removed from sale and given to lepers.

But to come back to the meat pie of the title.

One of the most interesting restrictions of all on the activities of butchers or ‘fleshers’ is found in the Ancient Laws and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland–prohibiting them from trading as pastry cooks–an attempt to stop them putting poor quality meat into pies? Perhaps, which begs the sobering thought – three hundred years on nothing much seems to have changed…There are many sources available for further information, here’s just one for starters for anyone who might be interested:

March M S (1914) ‘The trade regulations of Edinburgh during the 15th and 16th centuries.’Scot Geogr Mag 30 (1914) 483 – 88

 

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FOR THE GREATER GOOD-MORE PISCES, PLEASE

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

Last April I posted a piece  that discussed one of the story lines in my medieval historical fiction book, A Murder of Crows, currently represented by Peter Miller of Global Lion Intellectual Property Management.  The particular story line I’m referring to is the 1186 unusual line up of planets  in Libra.  The medieval astrologers of the time believed( and apparently even the Archbishop of Canterbury believed) that the planetary line up boded disaster; end times were upon them.  Fortunately they misread the intent of the celestial message and we’re still here!

However, since that event nearly 900 years ago, it’s probably safe to say without plowing through astrological data reaching back through the centuries, that up until now such alignments have occurred time to time.  From an evolutionary astrological point of view one suspects there’s a message for humanity in these alignments.  Inquiring minds want to know…what do these configurations mean?

In the spirit of those medieval astrologers, there have likely been similar claims through the years  insisting that such alignments will never happen again, especially because the end is near one more time-although not for everyone since we’re informed from time to time that those who are ‘chosen’ will be spirited away in some sort of UFO to safety.

For those of us who aren’t preparing for our seat on the UFO any time soon, we can take comfort in the fact that regarding our personal Soul growth and the global evolution, there’s something to be learned when the Sun, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Neptune and the asteroid Chiron, all meet up in Pisces on March 6th.

So again, what does this all mean?   In general, one of the highest evolutionary expressions of Pisces and its planetary ruler, Neptune, is for us to shift our consciousness from focusing exclusively on self to beyond this boundary for global healing, for the greater good.  What is our individual purpose in the bigger picture?  In the words of Dr. Edward Bach, discoverer of the famous 38 Bach Flower Remedies, “everyone has a job in this lifetime.”  In other words, each of us possesses an important contribution to make to the whole.  No matter how small ‘we’ may think we are in the bigger picture, none of us is here by accident.  All of us can’t find the cure for cancer or solution to the world’s hunger problems, water shortages or global warming, but…each of us has a job.

With all of these planets, especially Neptune and the wounded healer archetype Chiron,  in the watery sign of Pisces we’ll need to dig down into our emotional core in order to determine how this message translates for each of us.  Astrologically, clues to this translation can be found according to the zodiacal house(circumstance of life) in which this alignment falls in our own birth chart.

Perhaps this alignment refers to your skill set or health; that would be the sixth house.  Is there a focus on your personal relationships or partnerships in some way, indicated by the line up falling in your fifth, seventh or eighth house?  In any case, wherever this alignment falls, we’re being called to think and act beyond our personal ‘box’ for the greater good and our own Soul’s evolution.

For those who don’t have access to astrological software there are two excellent on line resources readily available to help and guide you, free of charge.  At Astrodeinst, you can cast your birth chart; all you need is your birth date, location and time of birth.  Deborah Houlding’s ‘Sky Script is an excellent site for reading and learning about the meanings of the houses, signs and other astrological in-depth information.

As you contemplate this information, think about what’s holding you back?  What is it that’s preventing you from taking ‘the road less traveled’?  You might surprise yourself!

 

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