Gaye Mack’s Blog

ROSSLYN CHAPEL-LIFE BEFORE DAN BROWN AND THE DA VINCI CODE

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

 

 Rosslyn was and has been an important site long before Dan Brown and Hollywood arrived in the small village of Roslin, located about 7 miles south of Edinburgh.  The Chapel was founded in 1446 as a collegiate chapel for study by Sir William St. Clair, 3rd Prince of Orkney, but was actually not finished until after his death in 1484.  In fact the story goes that Sir William had left funds for an extensive expansion of the building we see today, but for unknown reasons this work was never carried out. 

Beyond the myths and sensation created by Dan Brown, (who apparently never visited Rosslyn prior to the publication of his book) the first thing immediately striking about the Chapel is the interior’s intense profusion of ornate carving.  This surely was a building project that kept stone masons busy year round…quite a contract if you were lucky enough to get it.  Personally I can’t ever recall entering either a chapel or cathedral previous to this visit where the visual impact was so overwhelming…packed…even claustrophobic in some respects. 

One aspect particularly intriguing is that interspersed amongst the deeply symbolic carvings reflecting religious themes, there are carvings that are quite clearly pagan in nature.  For example there are over 100 representations of ‘the green man’ throughout, not to mention that the base of the famous ‘Apprentice Pillar’ is wrapped with dragons suggesting the Norse mythology of the Sinclair’s roots.

 Interestingly enough, despite the mystical legends and rumors that surround Rosslyn, there is no evidence to back up the claims that the Templars as a group were particularly involved in Rosslyn’s history other than the family testified against the Templars when that Order was put on trial in Edinburgh in 1309.  The reality is that Rosslyn Chapel was built by William Sinclair, a devout Catholic, so that Mass could be said for the souls of his family.

 Nevertheless, despite this reality that throws cold water on the DaVinci mythology and other stories proposing alternative theories around the bloodline of the grail, Rosslyn abounds with fascinating symbology that poses a fair share of questions but few answers, leaving much to the imagination if one wishes to travel that route. 

Unfortunately but understandably, photography is not allowed inside the Chapel.  However, there are several online sites in addition to the ones offered here that you can visit which are full of information. 

 Admittedly I was disappointed in learning the cold facts as I love good unsolved mysteries and legends, but given the extensive on-going 7.5 million pounds conservation project, Rosslyn is an important historical site and is worth the visit should you happen to be traveling to Edinburgh.


OCTOBER’S ARIES FULL MOON FIRES PASSION AND MISSION

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

Sitting on a train out of Edinburgh bound for London I suddenly realize that some of my thoughts and actions over the previous 24 hours have been directly connected to this month’s full moon (which was exact at 2:17 a.m. GMT yesterday, according to Solar Fire).  My experience has been that when traveling, especially out of the country, I’m easily distracted and sometimes become very Neptunian; it takes extra effort just to stay focused on practical matters at hand such as getting on the right train, the right bus, following directions and definitely making sure you don’t leave anything critical behind in your hotel room…like your passport or the rental car keys.

 For these very reasons I totally lost track of yesterday’s full moon event until after I had made the (radical!) decision to approach literary agents in the UK regarding my current historical thriller, which for the most part is set on UK soil.

 Without thinking about a full moon connection, I diverted from ‘doing business as usual’ with US agents and launched into the slow process of querying London agents in a very ‘mental’ way.  It was only this morning that I realized this decision was reflected in my own chart at time of exact fullness.

As each of the Cardinal signs spurs us into initiatory action, Aries brings fire to such ‘forks in the road.’  Even when it isn’t full, an Aries moon is passionate about whatever it deems is the ‘mission of the day’.  The opposing Libra Sun lighting up this moon suggests that wherever the Aries focus is, it’s something you love and one that has an important connection that reaches out to others in some way.  Additionally, with Saturn sitting next to the Sun, we’re asked to consider issues of external authority that we may have been grappling with…or perhaps taking another look at our own ‘internal authority’. 

 As always, circumstances of life are represented by these placements in your own chart.  I’m reminded one more time, there are no accidents…For where I was at 2:17 a.m., Libra’s Sun shone brightly from the third house…communication and writing, to the passionate Aries moon in the ninth…publishing; impact to be determined.

 

 

Image: Solar Fire Software

 

 


DUNNOTTAR CASTLE-DRAMA AND DEATH

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

 There’s no castle I’ve visited over the years that possesses a more dramatic presence than Dunnottar.  Located to the south of Aberdeen, Scotland, Dunnottar is dramatically perched on a massive flat topped rock of sheer proportions that end into the crashing sea. The visual effect of its physical presence is definitely an outward representation of its ‘colorful’ history.

Four hundred years after the birth of Christ, St. Ninian established Dunnottar as a religious site for his followers, most likely because of its extremely remote location that exuded peace at the time.  However in the years that followed, Dunnottar was to forfeit this peace, becoming a miniature reflection of Scotland’s turbulent history that included dramas around William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots and the Marquis of Montrose to name a few.

Within this reflection are two events that particularly standout:  Dunnottar as the hiding place for the Scottish Honours (Crown Jewels) when Cromwell’s troops were advancing north of Edinburgh to capture them.  Fortunately Cromwell did not get his hands on the jewels, an outcome that would have secured his place as Scotland’s ruler…how they were hidden and where is a story worthy of a modern day thriller.

 

 

 

 

 

Even less honorable was the most inhumane imprisonment of 144 men and women by Charles II’s soldiers in a chamber known as the Whigs Vault.  For ninety days these individuals were deprived of water, food and sanitation because they refused to embrace the King’s promotion of Episcopacy, outlawing their own religion of Protestantism.  Many died from starvation and disease; several fell to their deaths in an effort to escape over the cliffs.  Those who survived the vault were shipped to the west indies…many not making landfall.   These stories a clear contrast between glory and dishonor.

As fascinating as this castle is, getting up to it is not for the faint of heart…the easy part is the parking lot.  From there, it’s a long and steep downward and then upward climb(I didn’t count the steps-it is fortress after all) and that’s before you even get to the castle itself.  Once you do, the stone steps are slippery and narrow through the rabbit warren of chambers up and down(no doubt to accommodate the size 2 feet in those days)…so being relatively fit is helpful…the good news is you won’t need to go to the gym for about 3 weeks…but, all worth the trip!

Photography©gaye f. mack,inc.


A PILGRIM RETURNING HOME

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

Later today I’ll be boarding an overnight flight to London, returning to my ‘soul home’ one more time.  Although this trip will include seeing friends and extended family, I have a specific purpose for this journey.  The focus this time will be on northern Scotland–up near Aberdeen, oddly an area of Scotland I’ve never before visited .  I want to explore the ruins and history of Dunnottar Castle, which like Whitby Abbey(profiled in my last post), sits on a eerie precipice overlooking the wild sea surrounded by sheer cliffs.   

And then there are multitudes of other castles in the area that warrant exploration…many with fascinating stories within their stones like Dunnottar.  Too many castles and stone circles, never enough time!(sigh) At the risk of putting the cart before the horse, I’ll just say that Dunnottar has a checkered history and one which I hope to incorporate in a new book which is taking form in my imagination.

So this post is short…much to do yet.  However, I intend to blog from the road with pictures, so stay tuned!

Photography©gaye f. mack, inc.


OH WHERE OR WHERE HAS MY ELECTRONIC QUERY GONE?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Writer's Work Leave a comment

In my last post under writer’s work, I talked about the daunting business of finding literary agent representation…an undertaking not for the faint of heart.  While this search can be overwhelming and at times discouraging, one of the things that has changed in the last 20 years is that a majority of agents now accept ‘electronic queries’.  

There are several reasons for this, most of which are a combination of agencies taking a ‘green’ stance on the environment combined with efficiency.  While the electronic query is beneficial for agents and can be for the writer, this  process does come with some baggage; one misstep and your query is destined to the query abyss.  From my own experience, I have found the following check list helpful when  submitting an electronic query:

1.  Similar to when we write emails, we can get carried away with an electronic query.  Looks are deceiving…what appears to be one page, may in fact be way too long.  A good way to check yourself is to cut/paste your query into a word doc…see if it fits into one page that has 1″ margins at 12 point Times New Roman.  If not, it’s too long…go back to the drawing board.  Also, some agents are specific as to whether they want the query letter to be single or double spaced.

2.  Check and double check the ‘submission guidelines’ on the agent’s website for query email address.  As a rule, agencies will list a generic address for queries that’s different from the individual agent email addresses.

3.  In the subject line, most agencies ask that you put the word ‘Query’ with the title of your work after it.  This instruction can vary slightly from agency to agency…again check their submission guidelines for specifics.

4.  Whether you get a response or not(even if its a rejection) again, varies from agency to agency.  Amazingly, despite the massive volume that these agents are currently receiving, I have found the majority of agents to respond one way or another.  Where it becomes tricky is those agents who say in their submission guidelines that you will hear from them and then you don’t.  This leaves you to wonder if your query ended up in their spam filter or they just no longer reply in the case of rejections.   In this case I have waited about 8 weeks and then have sent a polite email inquiry…sometimes this works, sometimes I hear nothing…time to move on.

5.  Rule of thumb written in stone:  Do not send any more than the guidelines ask for when submitting a query.  If the agent wants to see more, you’ll hear from him or her with specific instructions.

6.  Today the competition  for representation, much less a publisher, is more than fierce.  I applaud the agents who take time to explain the reasons why they reject a project even though the writing is exceptional.  It may be that they are looking for a specific project to fill their list, they may have knowledge of a ‘soon to be released project’ that is similar to your own or it may be a matter of  the market pulse…what is going to sell, what is the next ‘hot’ thing.  And finally, agents will tell you that they personally have to be passionate about your work; ‘passionate’ being the operative word.  If they aren’t it isn’t necessarily that there is something wrong with it, it just isn’t for them.  This is a subjective business and where one agent may take a pass, another one is waiting to snap it up.  

 7.  Bottom line:  “Keep on keeping on.”