Gaye Mack’s Blog

WELCOME TO THE ENGLISH HISTORICAL FICTION AUTHORS’ ‘MAIN CHARACTER’ BLOG HOP!

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

This post is a departure from what you might be expecting, as I’ve been I have been tagged by fellow English Historical Fiction author, Mark Patton, to take part in a “Main Characters” blog hop.  The concept of ‘blog hops’ between authors is to introduce aspects of our works to readers and of course to support our writing colleagues across the ethers. For this ‘hop’ the  idea is to introduce a protagonist from a published or anticipated to be published novel. I’m currently working on the third novel of my historical fiction series which takes place across 12th, 13th and 21st century lines, mainly in Great Britain…although the current work in progress is built upon the esoteric story of the Cathars, the Gnostic sect persecuted by the Inquisition in 13th c southern France.  If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll have seen earlier posts on this gentle group of Christians labeled as heretics by Rome who met a fiery end at Montsegur on March 16, 1244.  

 

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Possible layout of fortress at Montsegur 1244

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

 Each of my books is grounded in actual historical places, people and events around which I then build fictional characters and story. The participating authors in the blog hop are asked to address seven questions about their chosen protagonist.  My second book which is featured in this ‘hop’  is written in ‘alternating narrative’ which means that similar to the works of Diana Gabaldron and MJ Rose, the main protagonist is subject to images and influences from a past life–this said I’m going to introduce both of my female protagonists to you!

1. What is the name of your character, and is he or she a fictional or a historical person? 

In the 12th c portions of this bookEdana Morggon is the main protagonist who then re-appears as Dr. Dana Morgan in the 21st century.  Both women are completely fictional although, the characters they meet in both time frames are very much historical.

2. When and where is the story set? 

The primary historical setting is Glastonbury Abbey in England’s west country, just before the Great Fire of 1184 as well as ruins that remain in the 21st century. For those who have never been to Glastonbury, it’s one of those places that abounds in extraordinarily deep history, legend and myth.  King Arthur, Joseph of Armithea, Edward I, Henry II and The Goddess, each figure heavily into Glastonbury’s magic.  However, in 1184 and 2010, my protagonists are faced with events that involve the fire(and its suspicious origins), political ambition, greed and psychological dysfunction… all having to do with mystical secrets believed to have been embedded within symbols placed in the floor of the abbey’s ‘Holy of Holies’.

Scan0008Partial Ruins of Glastonbury Abbey

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

3. What should we know about the character? 

12th c Lady Edana Morggon is a wealthy widow who accompanied her father and greedy, abusive husband to the Holy Land. Following the deaths of both men on crusade, Edana was imprisoned but surprisingly rescued by an unusual Sufi named Ghali.  Ghali for reasons only known to himself and Edana, enlists desert mystics to educate her in sacred arts and medicine before they both return to her estate in England.  Edana is a woman unusual for her time as she’s fierce in personality, smart, gifted and fairly self-sufficient…but she also harbors secrets.

21st c Dr. Dana Morgan is  a wealthy, University of Chicago historical archaeologist with expertise in ancient scripts, but who also possesses an inherited, although unacknowledged, gift of psychic sensitivities.  As the 21st c opens, her archaeologist husband of five years has suddenly died. Overtaken by grief, Dana retreats to the safe haven of her favorite aunt, Lady Fredi Morgan at her Oxfordshire estate.  When Dana is introduced to two historical archaeologists from Oxford University, she unwittingly becomes embroiled in 900 year old Glastonbury mysteries that have resurfaced and threaten her life.  Equally distressing, Dana comes face to face with  a past life through Edana Morggon. However predictably, as a scientist, she resists acknowledging such a possibility exists.

GLASTONBURY FLOORPhotography courtesy of Karen Pfiefer

 

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up your character’s life? 

Historically, Dana has categorized her feelings into intellectual exercises as a means of protection ever since the sudden death of her parents when she was fifteen. However, when she learns that her husband had a secret life which ended in suicide rather than murder, she struggles to come to terms with heart centered emotions she can’t control, her sense of failure in judgement and the recognition of her inherited psychic sensitivities.  As Glastonbury’s 12th century story resurfaces in 2010 through events that threaten her life, Dana is forced to deal with these unresolved aspects of herself.

5. What is the personal goal of your character? 

Dana has to learn to accept who she really is as well as putting trust in relationships, especially with men.  In addition, with the help of Edana Morggon, she begins to recognize that the veil between worlds is thin and can transmute to reveal universal truths.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? 

The book is entitled, A Conspiracy of Ravens’.  You can read more about it under the ‘Historical Fiction’ link on my full website: http://gayemack.com or under the link for ‘clients’ on http://globallionmanagement.com

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

 ‘A Conspiracy of Ravens’ and its predecessor, A Murder of Crows’ are currently represented by Peter Miller, CEO-Global Lion Intellectual Property Management, who is actively seeking a home for them.

 

 

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USING ASTROLOGY AS A WRITER’S TOOL FOR ENHANCING CHARACTERS, REAL AND IMAGINED

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

In my 12th  & 13th century historical thrillers, Eleanor of Aquitaine is the queen of the hour. Certainly she was a fascinating woman– so much so that scholars, historical fiction authors and 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 an evolutionary astrologer working on my 3rd historical fiction book, ‘A Flight of Doves’, I’ve wondered, what does Eleanor’s birth chart look like?’  Searching through various sources has resulted in the disappointing realization that most likely we’ll never know.  Sadly, scholars can’t even agree on the year of Eleanor’s birth and no one of any authority even contemplates a date.  Nevertheless, the thought is 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,  had her locked up in Salisbury castle for ten years, he’d take her on the road with him or more accurately, back and forth across the Channel.  A well- read woman for her time, her biographers (of which there are many) indicate that she found travel extraordinarily welcome .  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, education). “Exploring the world as your oyster,” would have been a suitable mantra for Eleanor.   Despite the lone and suspect chart I found that places her as a Libra sun, she definitely wasn’t a role model for relationship harmony and integration. These characteristics were simply not strong points in her as evidenced by her mothering skills and commitment in marriage.  

 In the realm of ‘what if’, it’s apparent that Eleanor liked the kind of drama often ascribed to a Leo sun.  No question, 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 before her incarceration by Henry, Eleanor’s court  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 characteristics with possibly her Venus in Taurus.

On the other hand, this was a woman who was analytical and calculating .  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.  

 She plotted with Richard behind the scenes; she plotted with her spies when Henry gave her more freedom around 1180 and on-wards.  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, cause me to wonder about a different Sun sign.  While not the best face forward of it, I think she possibly might have been a…..VIRGO or, a Leo sun with a Virgo ascendant.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know.

 If you’re a fiction writer, think about using basic astrological characterizations when creating or enhancing your characters-real and imagined.  There are several good basic books on the market than can help.  Here are some of my favorites:

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ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE

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WHAT OR WHO WAS BEHIND GLASTONBURY ABBEY’S GREAT FIRE OF 1184?

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’Marcya 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 suspicions 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. Further to his other machinations, Peter lusted after the secret behind the zodiacal floor in the abbey’s ‘Holy of Holies, believed to contain Christianity’s deepest mystical mysteries.  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.’

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REMAINS OF THE GREAT ABBEY AT GLASTONBURY

Photograpy©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

A Conspiracy of Ravens is the second book in my trilogy, ‘Flight Through Time’, represented by Peter Miller, Global Lion Literary Management. ‘A Flight of Doves’ is now in production 

  Additionally, for Information on Evolutionary Astrological Readings or Bach Flower Remedy Evaluations with meClick Here

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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.”

 

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King Arthur’s domain?

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

 

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THE MYTH OF THE CATHAR TREASURE

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work 2 Comments

 

History, especially ancient desert and medieval history, abounds with myths and legends such as Hermes and the Philosopher’s Stone, Glastonbury Abbey, the Holy Grail, Merlin, King Arthur and the treasure of the Templars, just to name a few…and then there is the legend of the Cathar Treasure. 

In my previous post wherein I introduced the subject of this medieval religious sect, I noted their propensity for eschewing trappings of the mundane world.  This rejection was based on their belief that the physical world and their incarnation in it was not a creation of God but rather a creation of Satan. In adopting this belief, the dedicated Cathars, known as Parfaits, not only rejected the idea of procreation, but they also did not partake in the consumption of any food which was a result of procreation.  As material acquisitions for their own needs were kept to a bare minimum, it begs the question, ‘how did the legend of a Cathar Treasure arise’?  

According to author and Cathar historian, Zoe Oldenburg, by the end of the twelfth century, the Cathar movement of the Languedoc had amassed a considerable fortune.  To begin with, the majority of Parfaits were men of substance who turned over their property to the church.  In addition, there were also credentes, ‘rank and file’ members, who left legacies of their entire fortunes to the church. And, while living, many credentes made generous donations of cash, land, houses and even chateaux.  While the Parfaits never broke their vow of poverty according to Oldenburg, they accepted all donations which were then put to the best use in the interests of the church.

 As a Community, the Cathars were known for providing support to the poor and those in need in the cities and surrounding countryside.  They maintained communes which incorporated schools, monasteries and hospitals.  Furthermore they founded working craft guilds, particularly in the art of weaving which not only provided product but also functioned as an educational training ground for the young and ‘novitiates.’ 

While such amassing of property and goods certainly would be considered a ‘treasure,’ references to ‘The Cathar Treasure’ often imply that it was something of far more importance and legend such as the Holy Grail… which of course has never been found.  Speculative circumstances surrounding the Treasure’s disappearance often tell of it having been hidden some two months prior to the fiery execution of  two hundred-plus Parfaits on March, 1244 at Montseguer. Possessing the secret of the Treasure’s hiding place, three Parfaits and another man, possibly a mountain guide, escaped the flames on the night of March 16 by repelling down the side of Montsegur’s pog.   The men then hid in caves protecting the secret and were never discovered.

 Oldenburg surmises that the Cathar cache consisted of goods for trading as well as gold and silver coins; this certainly makes sense given the atmosphere of persecution and brutality of the times.  However, perhaps even more precious to the Cathars was that for them, the Treasure consisted of their most sacred books and writings which were critical in helping maintain allegiance to their dogma and tradition.  This possibility makes even more sense as literature in the early middle ages onward, was considered as precious as gold in many cases.  Whatever the truth is, to this day the location and substance of the Cathars’ Treasure remains a mystery.

cave

 Caves with Secrets

 Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

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