Gaye Mack’s Blog

THE MYSTICAL WORLD OF DR. JOHN DEE AND OTHER DELIGHTS TO BE FOUND IN LONDON’S BRITISH MUSEUM

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

On my recent trip to the UK, I purposely planned to spend unimpeded time in the medieval halls of London’s British Museum.  While I’ve visited the museum on previous trips, I’ve always been with other people preventing the opportunity to ‘wander’ to my heart’s content.  This time I did and was in ‘hog heaven’ as we say in the Midwest.

 So many unexpected delights made up my afternoon that the time spent was even richer than I’d hoped.  For example, months ago I’d planned to take the train north for a day to visit ‘The Staffordshire Hoard’which is on display in Birmingham’s Museum of Art.  However, by the time I actually got to London, I’d changed my planned itinerary so many times that Birmingham was no longer possible.  Little did I realize that I really wasn’t going to miss out due to the fact that the BM houses many, many stunning artifacts from other ‘hoards’ including the famous one discovered at Sutton Hoo. 

 While I could blog pages on all of the wonderful things I saw in just four hours’ time, of particular interest regarding my 12th century historical mysteries, was the museum’s ‘Hands On’ exhibit hall.  In this hall which is extensive, patrons have the opportunity to get ‘up close and personal’ with artifacts covering a myriad of interests, time frames and cultures, with the assistance of museum personnel.  I couldn’t believe they actually allow photography as well!  All I could think was, if I tried to photograph something in Chicago’s Field Museum, I most likely would be severely cautioned to “cease and desist” at the very least!

 In any case, it was in this ‘hall’ that I came across some ‘tools of the trade’ belonging to Queen Elizabeth I’s famous conjurer, Dr. John Dee (1527-1608/09), which according to the museum’s information, were acquired by the ‘antiquary and collector’, Sir Robert Cotton.  Descriptions of those photos which I’ve posted here are as follows…

 “The large wax disc, called the ‘Seal of God’ is engraved with magical names and symbols.  Dee used it as a support for his ‘shew-stones’, in which his medium allegedly saw visions of divine beings unveiling the secrets of the universe.  The two smaller discs (not pictured) are said to have supported Dee’s ‘Table of Practice’.  The golden disc is engraved with the so-called ‘Vision of the Four Castles.’  The black obsidian mirror, originally a Mexican Aztec cult object, was used for conjuring up spirits.”

 Although these ‘wondrous things’ (to quote Lord Carnarvon when he first peeked into Tutankhamen’s tomb) are roughly 400 years after the time frame I write in, one can’t resist being be dazzled when standing in front of them!

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.


ANTICIPATION BUILDS FOR RELEASE OF PHIL RICKMAN’S LATEST MERRILY WATKINS BOOK

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Worth the Read 6 Comments

If you like thrillers set within real situations  that come with a paranormal flavor based on established legends… and are curious about a female protagonist who doesn’t fit the mold of a  single mom turned parish priest and (reluctant, skeptical?) Diocesan exorcist,  then  British author, Phil Rickman’s ‘Merrily Watkins’ series is for you!  I discovered Merrily, her daughter Flower and assorted friends  several years ago while in the UK and was instantly hooked.  Now I am eagerly awaiting the September release of  Rickman’s newest Merrily“The Secrets of Pain”, on Amazon.  

Rickman’s skill in creating sense of place is brilliantly matched with a sense of other that is addictive.  He doesn’t write horror(and confesses that he doesn’t like horror) and yet his stories are haunting.  Before launching the ‘Watkins’ series, he authored four ‘stand alone’ novels, equally eerie, the first of which was Candlenight (1991).  

Last year(2010) he introduced a new series with ‘Bones of Avalon’, set in my favorite legendary Glastonbury, based on  Queen Elizabeth I’s famous and much maligned personal astrologer, Dr. John Dee.  However, no matter which of his books you choose, they are all ‘worth the read’.

 

 

 Photography ©Gaye F. Mack