Gaye Mack’s Blog

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.


THE MYSTERIES OF OXFORD’S MEDIEVAL GODSTOW NUNNERY-AN IDEAL SETTING FOR “A WATCH OF NIGHTINGALES”

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

A little over two miles northwest of Oxford, the tiny hamlet of Godstow  lies alongside the River Thames.  Bucolic in its landscape, Godstow remains noteworthy for two of its area landmarks, a medieval nunnery and The Trout (Inn, Pub) which 850 years ago(give or take), served as the nunnery’s 12th century hospice.   Sadly the years have not been kind to what was once an extremely wealthy nunnery, as the ruins are now scant.  Nevertheless, Godstow has held a fascination for me since the first time I walked its grounds nearly 35 years ago and why I’ve chosen it for the setting of my next historical mystery which is in the works, “A Watch of Nightingales.”

 One of the better known reasons for the nunnery’s high profile is that Godstow is where Henry II’s famous mistress, the fair Rosamund Clifford was buried upon her death in 1175(1174 or 1176 depending on which ‘authority’ one reads).  While some sources claim the fair Rosamund died of natural causes, there are myths pointing to Henry’s artfully scheming queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, as Rosamund’s murderess…a charge which Eleanor consistently denied…vehemently.

 Leaving Henry, Eleanor and Rosamund aside for the moment, the remaining stones of Godstow surely protect many other secrets, sending the imagination into the realms of ‘what if’?  Scholars cite the existence of ‘outrageous lascivious and licentious behavior’ between the nuns, clerks and scholars of Oxford.  Given that Godstow was built on a marsh island across the river from the Trout, how did they get into town, as it were?  And what sort of intrigues were behind these nocturnal assignations, not to mention that Godstow’s meadow and ditches were and still are, abundant with Birthwort, an herb used in childbirth and…as an abortive.

 In 2006, The Oxford Times ran an article reporting that in 1944, children playing by the Godstow river bank discovered a stone coffin lodged under the tow path, its lid resting about six inches above water level.  Further inspection revealed bones of an adult female.  This coffin was the first of several that have ‘appeared’ over the years, which then disappear into the riverbed, divers unable to locate further evidence of their existence.

Several years ago I discovered a fascinating symbol carved in the remaining stones of Godstow.    Eerily similar to symbolism used by ancient and modern Druids, research efforts to discover its meaning and source over the years remain elusive. Disappointingly, it could very well be the work of 21st century graffiti artists or ritualists.  Nevertheless, I prefer to remain mystified…it makes for good plotting in an historical mystery

Photography©2012 Gaye F. Mack, Inc.


BLOODY MARY TUDOR…RICK SANTORUM’S IDOL OF WOMANHOOD AND LEADERSHIP-SERIOUSLY?

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

I had intended to blog about something entirely different this morning but have put it aside to post the following news article which actually appears on Susan Higginbotham’s blog.  Susan is an historical fiction author and if you like reading about the Tudor era, I recommend reading her works.

As for Rick Santorum’s remarks when interviewed in Madison…I’m a native of Wisconsin and quite familiar with the very liberal(at least it was when I was going to college) U of Wisconsin, which makes me wonder what the energy was like in the crowd…moreover, if Margaret George was home, I wonder what she thought about his very bizarre remarks regarding Mary…it boggles the mind.  This completely convinces me  the man needs serious therapy to work out his family of origin dysfunctions.

Madison, Wisconsin—She’s known to us today as “Bloody Mary.” But for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, she is a woman to be esteemed.

Speaking at a campaign stop at the University of Wisconsin, Santorum, when asked by a student questioner whether there was a historical woman he particularly admired, cited the first reigning Tudor queen. “First, she had strong religious principles, and she wasn’t too politically correct to act upon them,” said Santorum. “Second, she got married, unlike her younger sister Elizabeth, who didn’t think she needed a man to help her rule. Mary understood the importance of faith and family in a way that Elizabeth never did.”

Asked his opinion of Mary’s policy of burning Protestants, Santorum said, “You could argue—and I will argue—that Mary’s strong moral convictions were preferable to this wishy-washy notion of tolerance that the left has, where Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, goddess-worship, paganism, and atheism are all of the same value, are all points of view to be allowed. Where has that led us? Into a moral cesspool.”

Santorum, who has said that the notion of separation of church and state makes him want to “throw up,” hastened to add, “That’s not to say that I believe Mary was one hundred percent correct in burning Protestants. There are certainly decent Protestants, then and now, though I can safely say that if Mary had seen the state of the Anglican Church today, and of mainline Protestantism in the United States, she would have probably burned more of them.”

The candidate looked thoughtful when asked by another student whether he would support burning nonbelievers and non-Christians in an effort to purify the condition of religion in the United States. “Besides the obvious spiritual benefits, burning these people at the stake would have the side effect of bringing down the unemployment rate, both by reducing the surplus population and by putting right-thinking Americans to work ferreting out heretics, but as it stands now, it’s probably illegal under the Eighth Amendment. Until we get that amendment and the First Amendment tweaked a bit, we might just have to settle for singeing people.”

 


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