Gaye Mack’s Blog

12TH CENTURY REVENGE-MAGIC AND IMPOTENCE!

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

In researching various sites and references for historical gems to authentically flavor my 12th century historical mysteries, I sometimes discover things that I (and probably few others) would ever have thought of.   Such was the case recently when I stumbled upon a footnote reference to the 2009 dissertation of a PhD candidate at the University of London.  It wasn’t the fact that the resource was a dissertation but rather it was the title of the work that caught my eye; Magic and Impotence in the Middle Ages by Catherine Rider

Now who would have thought this subject would qualify for such a lofty piece of work?  Nevertheless intrigued, I couldn’t resist… and although the end product was published by Oxford’s University Press, I discovered that I could obtain a copy from inter-library loan (Really? Another surprise!).  Admittedly, the thought did cross my mind that when the copy arrived, the cover title might have raised a few circulation department eyebrows at my local village library (did staff delve into the pages for a peek, I wondered?)  In any case, I couldn’t wait to see how the subject was dealt with through an academic lens with no Pfizer Pharmaca on the immediate horizon!

 At first glance, the format was predictable as these things are if one is familiar with such projects, but when I scanned the table of contents my eyes zeroed in on Chapter Five:  How to Bind a Man or Woman: Impotence in the Magical Texts”.  Ah! This clearly was not going to be about cures, but rather payback!  Well, I wouldn’t say the content was exactly riveting, but it did provide some very interesting…recipes (to say the least) should one find need of retribution for whatever reason.

For example, “When you wish to bind a man or woman, make an image of a man whose feet are raised to the heavens and whose head is in the ground.” [Somehow directions for a deserving woman escaped along the way]… “This [image] should be made of wax, saying ‘I have bound N. son of such-and-such a woman [notice it’s the woman’s fault, not the father] and all his veins, until he does not have a man’s desire.’  After that, bury the image in his path, and he will not use a woman for as long as the image lasts.  And it is said by some that this image is made under the second decan of Aries.”  (Nothing like a little astrology thrown in for good measure!)   So there, Septimus…serves you right! 

However, if more drastic means are needed, this ‘recipe’ might do the trick…“So that a man does not desire a woman.  When you want to do this, take half a drachm each of the brain of a black cat and mandrake seed.  Mix these two together and blend them very well.  Afterwards make an image of wax, and make a hole in the top of the head, through which you force the above mentioned mixture.  Then take an iron needle and push that needle into the image, in the place where he enjoys a woman…”  there is more to this particular methodology, but I think I’ll leave it to your imagination…I wouldn’t want to give too much away !

So thank you, Dr.Rider…no doubt your research will prove very colorful fodder for my stories as they materialize.

My 12th c historical mystery series, ‘Flight of Time’ is in production and represented by Peter Miller, Global Lion Intellectual Property Management, Inc.


THE LONG ROAD FROM IDEA TO MAKING A PUBLISHER’S LIST-THIS GRAPHIC SAYS IT ALL

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

Although  I’ll be blogging in the next few days on Sunday’s  forthcoming solar eclipse, I just couldn’t help myself from posting this wonderful info- graphic, “How a Book is Born, which appeared on my Facebook page yesterday courtesy of publishing house Weldon Owen.  For those of you in the ‘writing to be published boat’ with me, you’ll smile and nod in agreement,  I’m sure.  For those who wonder what’s taking so long for your aunt’s, sibling’s, friend’s, et al, book to find its way to the shelves at Barnes & Noble(e-books not included here), this graphic says it all and should clear up any confusion! While I note that those hard working literary agent/managers somehow were excluded from the flow(another major step), nevertheless,  I’d love to use it as my Christmas card for those not following this blog and yet wonder, ‘what’s the problem?”  Enjoy and laugh–no doubt this graphic has already gone viral in certain circles!!

 

 


NIGGLY MARS AND DREAMY NEPTUNE IN THE LITERARY EDITING SALON…WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?

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

That fiery warrior  Mars has been putting all of us to a hard time this winter and spring, first with its retrograde action that began in mid-January slowing EVERYTHING down, not to mention Mercury’s retreat mid-March, messing up communication and things having to do with communication!  And, just when we thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel when both of these planets changed direction moving forward…

We forgot that action minded Mars, now in detail minded Virgo is also in opposition with dreamy Neptune,  which is in its home sign of Pisces–‘opposites’ being the operative word here.  In astrological oppositions, there’s just ‘no way around’ it, not like squares where, despite the friction, there’s room for negotiation. With oppositions, you have to live through the transit, do your best and contemplate the lesson; it sort of like the ‘builds character’ thing, although I must admit that I’m anticipating the separation of this opposition in mid-May with glee. 

When in balance, Mars is all about action, take charge, move on, chop-chop, while Neptune contemplates mysteries of the Universe, imagination and harmony in the collective.  Out of whack, Mars can be a bully, self-focused and dictatorial; Neptune can totally lose it in fantasy, escape and addictions…let’s not even go there.

So where in the realm of writing does this astrological evaluation come in with editors and the editorial process?  Despite grumbling about this process as it relates to my own projects from time to time, editors are too often misaligned and scape-goated.  At the end of the day, for those of us who aspire to being published, a good editor is worth her/his weight in gold, there to make us and our writing Stand Out.  At its best, good editing is altruistic.  Several weeks ago as if Divinely timed, an author friend of mine posted a wonderful article on her Facebook page about editors from Salon.com, entitled, “Let Us Now Praise Editors, by Gary Kamiya…it’s a wonderful read if you’re interested.

Nevertheless, despite knowing all of this intellectually, I’m sure I’m not the only writer who’s been grumbling during this current Mars/Neptune opposition that can manifest as a rewind of passages, chapters, essays, query letters…you name it, at the gentle(or not so gentle) mercy of the editorial blue pencil, pen or in my case, my editor’s yellow highlighting in Word! Bottom line:  revise, revise, revise. 

However, as I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, there is light at the end of the tunnel…the energy of Mars’ action butting heads with Neptune’s imagination will soon ease off at which point hopefully those of us who write can look back and admit that we’ve gained some wisdom in the process.


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

 


VERNAL EQUINOX ARRIVES WITH THE NEW MOON IN AIRES~ THE NEXT CHAPTER

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

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and being a ‘cardinal’ sign, it portends beginnings as do ‘new moons’… igniting new beginnings, new ideas…new directions—blast off!  This particular new moon, which arrived today, March 22nd at 9:38 a.m. Chicago time, came in with a packed punch, so fasten your seat belt.

Mercury with its energy buzzing through our minds and Uranus, who likes to surprise with the unexpected, have sidled up to the Sun and Moon in ‘conjunction’.  This energy is intense, no question.   Look to see which house (circumstance of life) hosts the sign of the Ram (Aries) in your chart and you’ll get a good idea of what to expect.

 Because the degrees of this conjunction range between 00°-4° Aries, those of us who have natal planets at 2-3° in Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, Libra or Aquarius are particularly likely to feel the effects of exciting change this configuration brings.

 In addition, while Mars(which rules Aries), remains in slow retrograde motion until April 13th, we still have time to assess and plan how best we can use our warrior energy toward taking positive risks and saying yes to new frontiers offered by this New Moon.

 As for me with Mars still retrograde, I’m cautiously excited about the changes that have suddenly appeared around my two historical fiction mysteries, “A Murder of Crows” and “A Conspiracy of Ravens” thanks to my wonderful literary agent, Peter Miller.  At this new moon it’s my understanding that several major publishing  houses have initial  interest…no doubt I’ll have some clues as to what’s in store at the full moon in Libra.  It could be new horizons or a return to the drawing board!

 In the meantime, I have the large size bottles of Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy and the remedy for change, Walnut, on my desk!

 

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