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

 


EARLY GRAFFITI ARTISTS~BORED MEDIEVAL MONKS AND NUNS!

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work 1 Comment

Not every young medieval man (or woman for that matter) was thrilled to be packed off to the monastery or nunnery.  Aside from those who ‘felt the call’ of dedicating their lives to the glory of God, more often than not religious houses served as an answer to a family’s dilemma; what to do with Romauldus or Matilda if the family was poor with no long term means of supporting them (as well as younger siblings), or in the case of the more affluent, the oldest son got the inheritance, leaving everyone else to a life of religious duty…or perhaps a less honorable means of living.

And these weren’t the only reasons.  Say for example at the old age of 18, a woman had no suitors on the horizon, she was packed up along with a nice dowry to ensure her admittance by Mother Abbess.  Even less honorable, if a WOMAN was the eldest child in a family of wealth, she could be sent away so that her brother next in line, would inherit.  Can you imagine?  In any case,  these young people were relegated to spend their lives within the cloister, their days and seasons marked by the ‘Hours of Office’, work in the fields, orchards, stables, brewery, infirmary and…the Scriptorium where their days were more than uncomfortable, long and BORING.

 In researching material for my  historical mystery series, Flight Through Time, I came across this amusing piece showing us that not much has changed through the centuries when young men and women are bored with their studies.  Actually I’ve seen this posted in various formats more than once, but have never seen the source cited; perhaps you have.     Later today I’ll be leaving Chicago for England’s 12th Century land and hope to be posting while ‘on the road’.  In the meantime, I’m sharing these medieval margin notes as some of the notations are quite funny. Now that I read this again…I think these can readily apply to any modern writer  who has hopes of producing the next ‘best seller!’

…I have my favorite; which one is yours??


USING HISTORY’S FACTS AND LEGENDS TO SPARK THE STORY

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Writer's Work 2 Comments

I often wonder why so many of us are ‘taken’ with fictional stories woven around historical fact and legend.  Perhaps it’s the fantasy of it all, being able to put one’s self in the shoes of the characters or perhaps it’s the opportunity to be an armchair editor with the critical voice that says, ‘don’t do that, it makes no sense whatsoever and it’s not accurate.’  In any case, no matter what the reason, so many of us love to read historical fiction as travelers surreptitiously peeking into the past with our imaginations.  And so many of us, myself included, love to create stories that take place  in the past while the phrase, ‘what if…’ constantly whispers in our head.

For me, writing historical fiction is the best of both worlds.  It’s a fascinating journey that can be intensely personal as surprises can take you into the realm of unexplored self-awareness.  Nevertheless, the excitement comes in the magic giving oneself permission and time to research landscapes where there’s the possibility of discovering small treasures that have been hidden away for centuries…treasures that can spark the fire of the story.

Such was the case when I wrote ‘A Murder of Crows’, represented by my agent, Peter Miller, CEO of Global Lion Intellectual Property Management and currently under consideration by several major houses.  When I first thought about the broad story, I knew for various reasons that I wanted it set around 1186 or so in EnglandAlthough I’d decided on one of the story threads, I needed that obscure (or nearly obscure) treasure to add to the mix, something that hadn’t been used or overused by other writers.  So I went on the hunt and happily found it.

In 1184, the astrologers of Toledo Spain discovered the forthcoming and unusual configuration of  planets  for September 15, 1186.  What was so significant about this event was that the astrologers  interpreted the alignment as a sign portending ‘the end of days’.  The alarm was raised through the  legendary “Letter of Toledo”Addressed to the Cardinal who would become Pope Clement III along with many scholars, this letter metaphorically set all of Europe on fire with its prediction of  storms, pestilence, earthquakes, floods…you get the picture.

Aside from the fact that the end of days happily did not occur and that the ‘Letter of Toledo’ resurfaced several times in history after September 1186 (with change of dates predicting the end!), I was thrilled to discover this myth as it provided the  perfect ‘historical’ thread to add to my story.  Writing historical fiction takes perseverance, no question.  You have to dig and dig and even if you find a small treasure, there’s always the possibility that the information is skewed.  Memories fade, accounts are edited for various reasons, access to resources may be difficult, things get lost…not much has changed in 900 years. As the renowned British historical writer, Alison Weir states, ‘you just can’t make stuff up.’

 THE END OF DAYS

SEPTEMBER 15, 1186