Thursday, January 10, 2013

Messenger Feast

Kivgiqsuat, Messenger Feast, Inuit of Alaska
"After the separation of the summer months the villagers begin socializing with other village groups. During the latter part of December and early January a social and economic gathering may be held in one of the villages. This gathering is called Kivgiqsuat, the Messenger Feast. The umialit (whaling captains) and their crews host these gatherings. An umialik and his crew usually spend a few years preparing for Kivgiqsuat. Food is gathered and stored, gifts are made or hunted for, new clothing and numerous other preparations are made for the gathering. During Kivgiqsuat partners from different villages exchange gifts. The umialit show the extent of their wealth and power through Kivgiqsuat, the celebration which brings Ieupiat from different villages together and strengthens their social ties (Spencer, 1959).
"The last Messenger Feast on the North Slope of Alaska was held in Wainwright (Alaska) in 1914. Presently the people of arctic Alaska are revitalizing the tradition of the Messenger Feast. January 1988 saw the first celebration of the Messenger Feast in Barrow in eighty years. True to the spirit of Kivgiqsuat several pledges were made that were directly related to social and political alliances. Additionally, one village vowed to use the memories of their elders to enhance the celebration for the following year. This cultural revitalization can only add to the richness of the lives of contemporary Ieupiat."
Source: Cultural Heritage of the Alaskan Inuit (PDF file)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armistice Day

Lone horseman, Armistice Day in Bellingen, 11/11/'11. Photo by Solveig Larsen, with much thanks.

Armistice Day
, also known in Australia as Remembrance Day

Also known as Remembrance Day (and Poppy Day) , this commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning - the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the cease fire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire ...

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Death of Wilhelm Reich

1957 Death of Wilhelm Reich, Austrian-born pseudo-scientist who lived in New England, USA, and convinced thousands of his ability to cure with quack remedies such as the 'Orgone Accumulator'. One owned by junkie writer William Burroughs is shown in this photograph.
He was hounded by the US government, which had his books burned. On November 3, 1957, Wilhelm Reich died of a heart attack in the Federal Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pa, USA.

"He claimed to see microscopic bions develop from lifeless matter and organize themselves into living cells.  And he eventually came to believe he had discovered a primordial energy essential for life, which he called orgone energy, and which he was obsessed with for the rest of his life.  Along the way of making these various 'discoveries,' his works were either ignored or heavily criticized by the mainstream scientific community.  Reich seemed to take every criticism of his work as a personal attack.  He was convinced he had made the greatest discoveries in the history of humanity, next to which the discovery of electricity or the law of gravity or the wheel or fire were insignificant."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The death of Tomás de Torquemada

Torquemada preaches1498 Death of Tomás de Torquemada, main player in the early part of the Spanish Inquisition.
The Spanish Inquisition ran from 1478 until 1834. Contrary to popular belief, its inquisitors only condemned about 25 Spanish witches to be burned at the stake. However, it wrought a horrible toll on heretics, Muslims, Jews, reformers and the intelligentsia. Some 114,350 citizens of Catholic Spain were tried in the Inquisition started by Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile. Torquemada was responsible for 2,000 burnings and the expulsion of thousands of Jews (1492).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sep 15, Vincent Lunardi

Vincent Lunardi1784 Vincent Lunardi made the first (acclaimed) aerial journey in England, flying in a balloon from the Artillery Ground, at Moorfields, in the presence of the Prince of Wales, Lord North, William Pitt the Younger, Charles Fox, Edmund Burke, the Duchess of Devonshire, various other distinguished personages, and about 150,000 common folk.
Lunardi reached a height of some four miles (so he said). He finally touched down safely in a field near Ware, in Hertfordshire, so frightening local labourers that no promises of reward would induce them to approach the craft.
For two years, the Italian aeronaut barnstormed England, until an accident in which a young man became entangled in a rope and fell to his death. One satirist wrote:
Behold an Hero comely, tall and fair,
His only food phlogisticated air, ...
Now drooping roams about from town to Town
Collecting pence t'inflate his poor balloon.
Robert Chambers wrote: "Mr. Lunardi's publications exhibit him as a vain excitable young man, utterly carried away by the singularity of his position. He tells us how a woman dropped down dead through fright, caused by beholding his wondrous apparition in the air; but, on the other hand, he saved a man's life, for a jury brought in a verdict of Not guilty on a notorious highwayman, that they might rush out of court to witness the balloon. When Lunardi arose, a cabinet council was engaged on most important state deliberations; but the king said: 'My lords, we shall have an opportunity of discussing this question at another time, but we may never again see poor Lunardi; so let us adjourn the council, and observe the balloon!'
"Ignorance, combined with vanity, led Lunardi into some strange assertions. He professed to be able to lower his balloon, at pleasure, by using a kind of oar. When he subsequently ascended at Edinburgh, he affirmed that, at the height of 1100 feet, he saw the city of Glasgow, and also the town of Paisley, which are, at least, forty miles distant, with a hilly country between. The following paragraph from the General Advertiser of September 24, 1784, has a sly reference to these and the like allegations. 

Lunardi's flight"'As several of our correspondents seem to disbelieve that part of Mr. Lunardi's tale, wherein be states that he saw the neck of a quart bottle four miles' distance, all we can inform them on the subject is, that Mr. Lunardi was above lying.'

"Lunardi's success was, in all probability, due to the suggestions of another, rather than to his own scientific acquirements. His original intention was to have used a Montgolfier or fire balloon, the inherent perils of which would almost imperatively forbid a successful result. But the celebrated chemist, Dr. George Fordyce, informed him of the buoyant nature of hydrogen gas, with the mode of its manufacture; and to this information Lunardi's successful ascents may be attributed. Three days before Lunardi ascended, Mr. Sadler made an ineffectual attempt at Shotover Hill, near Oxford, but was defeated, by using a balloon on the Montgolfier principle.

"It is generally supposed that Lunardi was the first person who ascended by means of a balloon in Great Britain, but he certainly was not. A very poor man, named James Tytler, who then lived in Edinburgh, supporting himself and family in the humblest style of garret or cottage life by the exercise of his pen, had this honour. He had effected an ascent at Edinburgh on the 27th of August 1784, just nineteen days previous to Lunardi. Tytler's ascent, however, was almost a failure, by his employing the dangerous and unmanageable Montgolfier principle. After several ineffectual attempts, Tytler, finding that he could not carry up his fire-stove with him, determined, in the maddening desperation of disappointment, to go without this his sole sustaining power. Jumping into his car, which was no other than a common crate used for packing earthenware, he and the balloon ascended from Comely Garden, and immediately afterwards fell in the Restalrig Road. For a wonder, Tytler was uninjured; and though he did not reach a greater altitude than three hundred feet, nor traverse a greater distance than half a mile, yet his name must ever be mentioned as that of the first Briton who ascended with a balloon, and the first man who ascended in Britain.

"Tytler was the son of a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, and had been educated as a surgeon; but being of an eccentric and erratic genius, he adopted literature as a profession, and was the principal editor of the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Becoming embroiled in politics, he published a handbill of a seditious tendency, and consequently was compelled to seek a refuge in America, where he died in 1805, after conducting a newspaper at Salem, in New England, for several years.

"A prophet acquires little honour in his own country. While poor Tytler was being overwhelmed by the coarse jeers of his compatriots, Lunardi came to Edinburgh in 1785, and was received with the utmost enthusiasm." 
Robert Chambers, (Ed.), The Book of Days: A miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, etc, W & R Chambers, London, 1881 (1879 Edition is online and 1869 edition here with CD-ROM available; See also The English Year: A Personal Selection from Chambers' Book of Days)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sep 10, Feast day of Asclepigenia

Orphic Egg
Asclepigenia (flourished 430 - 485 CE), a priestess of the Greek Eleusinian Mysteries and philosopher of the Neo-Platonist school, is commemorated today.
Asclepigenia lived in 5th-Century Athens, daughter of Plutarch the Younger who ran the neo-platonic school there till he died in 430, when she, her brother Hiero and a colleague inherited its management. The school's philosophy was Syncretic, merging Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies.

Asclepigenia's interests were in the esoteric principles of metaphysics that control the universe. She applied magic and theurgic principles to affect fate, applying her knowledge of Plato and Aristotle to the great religious and metaphysical questions raised by Christian ethical theory. She believed that there were five realms of reality, namely: the One, Intelligence, Matter, Soul, and Nature. We do not know her work from original sources but from references and influences in those of her pupils.
AsclepiusBelieving that fates might be affected by the means of metaphysics, cosmology, magic, and theurgy, Asclepigenia tended more toward mysticism, magic, and contemplation of the mysteries of Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysics. Her most famous student was the philosopher, Proclus (February 8, 412 - April 17, 487).

According to Nigel Pennick (The Pagan Book of Days, Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont, USA, 1992), if the weather is good today it will continue for another 40 days.

Asclepigenia was named for Asclepius (Aesculapius; Asklepios; Asklepius), the son of Apollo by Coronis (or Arsinoe), the celebrated physician/deity who had been so successful at preventing mortal death that he was accused of encroaching on the preserve of Hades. As a consequence of his bad behaviour, Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt, and in revenge, Apollo killed the first generation of Cyclopes (the children of Uranus and Gaia) who had forged the thunderbolt. Zeus placed Asclepius in the sky as the constellation Ophiuchus ('serpent-bearer').(More on Asclepius.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ket's Rebellion

1549 Today marks one of the days in history on which were forged some of the human rights enjoyed by a proportion of people in the world. Regrettably, though, today we remember a bloody defeat rather than a victory for those who bravely asserted their liberties.

On this day, the Norfolk Rising (or Commotion), otherwise known as Ket's Rebellion, came to an end when the overwhelming military power of the Earl of Warwick (John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland) crushed Robert Ket's rebels.
On July 20, at Mousehold, England, a herald of the king had been turned away, his message of conciliation – or, demand for compliance – from the monarch to some 20,000 rural insurrectionists rejected. The herald had promised the king's pardon to all who would depart quietly to their homes.

The rebellion of farmers and farm workers was aimed at bringing attention to the economic problems faced by agricultural workers in East Anglia. Like the Diggers (founded exactly one century later, in 1649 by Gerrard Winstanley) and even the rather more conservative Levellers, the rebels demanded the abolition of land enclosures, the end of private ownership of land, and the dismissal of counsellors.
A commonwealth was established on Mousehold Heath.

The 'commotion' was led by Robert Ket (or Kett), a fairly prosperous tanner and landowner (he held the manor of Wymondham in Norfolk), who with his followers occupied the city of Norwich, but were defeated on August 25 by Warwick's superior firepower.

The rebels had met daily under 'the Oak of Reformation', upon which many of them were later hanged.

Land and Freedom Pages
    Wikipedia on the Diggers
Wikipedia on the Levellers    Modern Diggers    Gerrard Winstanley and Diggers

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