Gaye Mack’s Blog

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:

eleanor

ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE

You can also follow me on:

http://www.facebook.com/gayemackauthor, http://www.twitter.com/gayemack, http://www.plus.google.com

or

http://www.linkedin.com, http://www.pinterest.com/gayemack5

 


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.

You can follow me on:  http://www.facebook.com/gayemackauthor, http://www.gayemack.com, http://www.twitter.com/gayemack or http://www.linkedin.com 


THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR HENRY II & THOMAS BECKET~JANUARY 30, 1164

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

By January 30 1164, King Henry II of England  had evidently had enough of the ecclesiastical hierarchy protecting its own in criminal matters.  In an effort to curb the power of the Church’s courts, Henry laid down a document of sixteen articles known as the Constitutions of Clarendon.  Initially Henry’s Archbishop, Thomas Beckett and the bishops of the realm reluctantly agreed to observe the guidelines of Henry’s document including the article stating that if a member of the church committed a crime, they would be tried in the state court in addition to an ecclesiastical court.  This was particularly relevant to the exposure of priests charged with serious felonies having to answer to a secular court and punishment.

 So restrictive were Henry’s articles through the eyes of the clergy, particularly in matters of such crimes as well as  property and excommunication, that although Becket agreed to the articles as we might say today, ‘in principle’, he refused to sign the order.   On October 8, 1164 Henry ordered Becket to appear before a great council at Northampton Castle to answer charges of ‘contempt of royal authority and malfeasance in the Chancellor’s office’ of which Becket was convicted.

 Becket bolted, fleeing to the continent where he was protected by King Louis VII of France.  For six years Henry attempted to bring his archbishop to heel through various power plays of repercussion countered by Becket’s threats of excommunication against the king, bishops and the kingdom.    Finally in 1170 Pope Alexander III brokered a diplomatic compromise that allowed Becket to return from England; however, the peace between Archbishop and King did not last and on December 29, 1170 Becket was assassinated by four of Henry’s knights who misunderstood (or did they?) the King’s cry, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest!”

 A selection of the articles making up the Constitutions of Clarendon is as follows, noting that article three was particularly grievous to Becket and his fellow clergymen.

 1. If a controversy arises between laymen, or between laymen and clerks, or between clerks concerning patronage and presentation of churches, it shall be treated or concluded in the court of the lord king.

3. Clerks charged and accused of any matter, summoned by the king’s justice, shall come into his court to answer there to whatever it shall seem to the king’s court should be answered there; and in the church court to what it seems should be answered there; however the king’s justice shall send into the court of holy Church for the purpose of seeing how the matter shall be treated there. And if the clerk be convicted or confess, the church ought not to protect him further.

4. It is not permitted the archbishops, bishops, and priests of the kingdom to leave the kingdom without the lord king’s permission. And if they do leave they are to give security, if the lord king pleases, that they will seek no evil or damage to king or kingdom in going, in making their stay, or in returning.

6. Laymen ought not to be accused save by dependable and lawful accusers and witnesses in the presence of the bishop, yet so that the archdeacon lose not his right or anything which he ought to have thence. And if there should be those who are deemed culpable, but whom no one wishes or dares to accuse, the sheriff, upon the bishop’s request, shall cause twelve lawful men of the neighborhood or the vill to take oath before the bishop that they will show the truth of the matter according to their conscience.

8. As to appeals which may arise, they should pass from the archdeacon to the bishop, and from the bishop to the archbishop. And if the archbishop fail in furnishing justice, the matter should come to the lord king at the last, that at his command the litigation be concluded in the archbishop’s court; and so because it should not pass further without the lord king’s consent.

14. Chattels which have been forfeited to the king are not to be held in churches or cemeteries against the king’s justice, because they belong to the king whether they be found inside churches or outside.

 

Window Depicting Assassination of Thomas Becket~Canterbury Cathedral

You can follow me on, http://www.facebook.com/gayemackauthor; http://www.twitter.com/gayemack; http:www.gayemack.com


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.