Monday, April 7, 2008

Hannah, Bride of the Lord of Death

Notice the mention of the Goddess Inaras and her particular use of the temple tower - rather "chessly" wouldn't you say? Consider also the geometry of the five-pointed star (pentacle) and how it is played out on the chess board. From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Related to the entry about Jupiter, below. Hannah Biblical version of the Anatolian Grandmother-goddess Hannahanna, or Anna. Hittites called her Hwanhwanar, the Nether Upsurge, married to a sacred king at the Puruli festival, shortly before he was sent down into her Abyss to become the new Lord of Death.(1) Hannah's biblical son bore the same name as the Lord of Death, Sama-El, Sammael or Samuel, from Samana, a Hindu title of the death-god Yama as Conductor of Souls.(2) In Old Iranian, a clan matriarch was the hana, "grandmother." Similarly, the Mother of the virgin mother was worshipped through the Middle East under such names as Hannah, Anna, Nana, In-anna, or "Queen Nana, the Creatress."(3) In Christian tradition she was Anna, the Grandmother of God.(4) Mother of the Virgin Mary was Anna or Hannah, just as Anatolian Hannahanna was the mother of the virgin Mari. Sometimes her virgin aspect was named Inaras, who was also a death-goddess. She annually imprisoned the sacred king in a temple tower, mated with him, then killed him.(5) See Anne, Saint.) Notes: (1) Gaster, 7. (2) Larousse, 346. (3) Stone, 219. (4) Graves, W.G., 410. (5) Hooke, M.E.M., 98-99. Anna-Nin Sumerian prototype of the many forms of the Great Goddess named Anna, Ana, or Hannah throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean lands. The name meant Lady of Heaven. See Anne, Saint. Anne, Saint Mythical mother of the virgin Mary, from the Middle-Eastern Goddess Anna, or Hannah, or Di-Ana, mother of Mari. From Sumeria to pre-Roman Latium she was known as Anna, the Grandmother-Goddess; Anatha in Syria, Anat in Canaan, Ana or Anah in several Old Testament transformations. Long before the Bible was written, the Goddess Anna wa already known as the Grandmother of God. Hence, the choice of her name for the mother of God's Mother is hardly surprising.(1) Syriac versions of the Book of James said God's Grandmother was not Anna but Dinah, actually the same name, a Semitic Di-Ana or "Goddess Ana." Dinah was the ancestress of Dinaite tribes who settled in Sumeria (Ezra 4:9). As Anatha, she was the consort of Yahweh at Elephantine.(2) As Anna Perenna she was Grandmother Time to the Romans, mother of the Aeons. As Ana or Anu she ruled Celtic tribes. As Nanna, she was an incarnation of Freya in the mother-bride of Balder. In Phrygia too, she was Nana, mother of the Savior. She was really as old as the oldest civilization. A Sumerian prayer declared: "Hear O ye regions, the praise of Queen Nana; magnify the Creatress, exalt the dignified, exalt the Glorious One, draw nigh unto the Mighty Lady."(3) Romans worshipped the Goddess as Anna Perenna, "Eternal Anna," mother of the Aeons. She stood at the change of years, a two-headed Goddess of Time with two facesnamed Prorsa and Postverta, looking forward and backward from her heavenly gate among the stars, where one celestial cycle merged into the next. So she stood for both Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Under the name of Carmenta she invented all the letters in between.(4) She was also Jana, or Juno, mother of the January New Year. [My birth name Janet is a derivative.] Classical myths masculinized her as the two-faced Janus, god of gateways. Christians may have confused icons labeled IANA with the mother of the Virgin; for Jana-Juno was the virgin mother of the savior-god Mars. [The Chief, Ricardo Calvo, didn't call me "Patton" for nothing... .] Ovid said Anna was the same as the Moon-goddess Minerva. Sappho named her "the Queen."(5) To the Celts, she was the same as their Ana, first of the female trinity of the Morrigan, associated with the Cauldron of Regeneration. Her moon-teple used to stand at Cnoc Aine in Limerick, now a shrine of "St. Anne."(6) To Irish pagans, Ana means "mother." It also came to mean wealth, plenty, treasure.(7) As Grandmother-goddess, Ana could be a destroying Crone. Some myths called her Morg-ana, "Invincible Queen Death." Medieval Christians called her Anna of the Angles, or Black Annis, or Angurboda, the Hag of the Iron Wood, mother of Hel.(8) The magic pentacle was the sign of Morg-ana.(9) A similar five-pointed star stood for the underworld in Egyptian hieroglyphics(1) This same star was the official sigil of St. Anne.(11) In her Christianized form, Anne had three husbands, gave birth to many saints, and became the patron of midwives and miners. [The miners are a connection to her mate Dis-Pater/Dyaus Pitar/Jupiter - see posts below.] Neumann says "All this bears witness to her original fertility aspect as Earth Mother."(12) St. Anne was of crucial importance in the dogma of the virgin Mary's immaculate conception, adopted as an article of faith in 1854, after seven centuries of controversy.(13) [No offense against true believing Catholics, but this really cracks me up - finally declaring the virgin birth in 1854, ha ha ha! Perhaps in honor of her Majesty Queen Victoria? Ha ha ha!] In the official Catholic view, original sin was transmitted by sexual acts. Therefore, so Mary could be born without taint of original sin [har!], St. Anne herself had to be innocent of sexuality. Accordingly, Johannes Trithemius proclaimed that Anne "was chosen by God for her appointed services before the foundation of the world. She conceived 'without the action of man' and was as pure as her daughter."(14) At first the church accepted this doctrine, because it seemed to solve the problem of Mary's sinlessness. Later it was rejected. Two virgin births made one too many. In the end, St. Anne was said to have conceived Mary in the normal way but the child was freed in the womb of original sin. Though these intimate matters are supposed to be known in minute detail, churchmen incongruously admit that "nothing whatever is known about the parents of the Virgin Mary."(15) The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church are the same people who point their fingers at the so-called Pagans and say their myths are full of baloney! Ha! Notes: (1) Graves, W.G., 411. (2) Hays, 89. (3) Stone, 219. (4) Larousse, 210. (5) Graves, W.G., 408. (6) Loomis, 387. (7) Joyce, I., 261. (8) Sturluson, 56. (9) Loomis, 342. (10) Budge, E.L., 75. (11) Brewster, 343. (12) Neumann, A.C.U., 57. (13) Young, 203. (14) Neumann, A.C.U., 59. (15) Attwater, 186.

Dis Pater/Dyaus Pitar/Jupiter

From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:" Dis Pater "Father Dis," a Roman name of the Lord of Death inherited from Etruscan times. On occasion he wore the wolf head of the Etruscan god of the dead. Like underground Pluto he was called "the rich one," because he knew everything about mines, deposits of gem stones, and buried treasurer.(1) Gallic Celts worshipped Dis above every other male deity, claiming he was the "father" of their race - in the old way of the dying god who became "father" by shedding his blood (see Kingship). In Britain, Dis was regarded as a universal deity very like Jehovah, whoe later adherents, however, transformed Dis into an alternative name for the devil.(2) Notes: (1) Larousse, 211. (2) Graves,W.G., 45. See also Walker's entry on Jupiter: Roman Heavenly Father, from Sanskrit Dyaus pitar [Sanskrit is probably closest, in terms of minimal corruption from outside influences, to the original language spoken by the Indo-Europeans], the basic Father Heaven mated to Mother Earth. Zeus Pater the Greek Heavenly Father, was another incarnation of the same Aryan deity, whose worship spread westward with migrations and invasions of Indo-European patriarchal tribes. Like his counterparts in other nations, Jupiter was primarily a rain god; his function was to fertilize the soil with seminal moisture. Thus he was connected also with thunder and lightning - his voice and his weapon. He was commonly known as Jupiter Pluvius, "the Heavenly-Father-Who-Rains." Jupiter was added to the originally female Capitoline Triad by outsing the Virgin form of the Goddess, Jeventas, leaving Juno and Minerva as Jupiter's two female partners.(1) Juno was said to be his wife, though like Hera she was much older than her spouse. Notes: (1) Rose, 116.

Chess News Update

Chess Femme News has been updated, April 7, 2008!

The Art in Chess

When we visited New York in 2005, delion and I spent two full days exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art - and didn't see the half of it! We will go back some day.

Here's a beautiful set from the Met.
Chess set, late 18th century
Walrus ivory
Pfeiffer Fund, 1960 (60.146a-pp)
Three of the pieces are modern replacements

Chess was avidly played in Russia by czars, princes, and merchants. The design of this chess set reflects the Indian influence in the introduction of the game to Russia, probably during the eighth or ninth century. Initially, the moves were a bit different from the European version of the game.

Although the two sides of this set—Russian Christians versus Muslims—are not differentiated by color, it is easy to distinguish them and the type was a standard Russian design. As in Indian sets, there are ships for rooks and elephants for bishops. The king is seated on a throne. Also as in Indian sets, next to the king is his vizier, here represented as a Roman officer. The pawns are Roman and Muslim soldiers. The elephants of the Christian side have mahouts but there are none on the Muslim side. The pierced, ajouré bases of these pieces are attached with ivory pins. They are carved with Neoclassical acanthus-leaf tips, which helps to date this set.

The town of Kholmogory, roughly fifty miles up the river from Archangel, was famous for its carvers, who used bone and walrus tusk for their productions. The sea mammal was landed in Archangel and every part of the walrus—the meat, skin, feet, and ivory tusks—was valued, for food and other products.

Animal Sacrifice at Indian Temple

India - such an intriguing, confusing, frustrating mix of old world and new world. ORISSA 800 goats sacrificed at Rakhyakali temple Monday April 7 2008 12:35 IST BHADRAK: Despite efforts of district administration to stop animal sacrifice, as many as 800 goats were slaughtered at Rakhyakali temple in Rameshwar village here late last night to appease the Goddess. Till Sunday afternoon, an additional 64 goats were sacrificed by the devotees. "And all this was done in the presence of police," according to a local, Santosh Pati. Animal sacrifice in this temple is a decade-old ritual practised by devotees despite stringent opposition by animal lovers and the district administration. "Devotees who sacrifice goats, register their names with the temple management committee a month prior to the event and deposit mahasul (money for the sacrifice)," informed Parikshit Barik, a member of the committee. Barik added that the devotees take the meat of the animal home and consume it as ‘prasad’. Earlier, the practice was observed once in five years and then it became an annual affair. Dhamnagar police station OIC Sriballav Das said, "Villagers did not allow us to enter the sacrifice spot. So far, I have reports of 200 goats being sacrificed."

Chessville Column

JanXena's Echecs des Femmes for April, 2008 is up and running at Chessville. Everyone visit and click on the link multiple times so the guys think I'm real popular :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

2008 U.S. Chess Championship

Article by McClain at The New York Times: Chess Many Top Players to Sit Out Championship Over Money By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN Published: April 6, 2008 A qualifying tournament for the United States Championship was held last weekend in Tulsa, Okla. Seven players earned spots, and five qualified based on their national rankings after five of the country’s best players declined invitations. Top players are passing up this year’s event, to be held in May in Tulsa, because they are unhappy about its prize fund and location. Hikaru Nakamura, Larry Christiansen and Joel Benjamin, all past champions, are not playing. Ildar Ibragimov, ranked No. 10 in the country, has declined. Gata Kamsky, the No. 1 player and a past champion, did not respond to his invitation. The prizes range from $8,000 for first place to $1,000 for the last five in the 24-player event. Nakamura said he did not have fond memories of last year’s tournament, held in Stillwater, Okla., where he finished in a tie for 10th. The “prestige has gone down,” he said, blaming the United States Chess Federation. Christiansen said: “A lot of professional players will sit it out for 8,000 bucks. It is lot of work. The equivalent of one of these top-level games is like taking the bar exam.” Despite the holdouts, the competition will be formidable. Alexander Shabalov, last year’s champion, will be one of 12 grandmasters in the field, as will Alexander Onischuk, the 2006 winner. Among the players who qualified was John Fedorowicz, a grandmaster from New York, who secured his berth with a last-round win against Salvijus Bercys, an international master. ... ****************************************************************************************** I have a few comments. It has been many years since the top rated chess players in most countries have played in their national championships. Michael Adams hasn't played in a British Chess Championship for the past six years or more, has he? Did Kasparov play in the Russian Chess Championship in his later years? Has Kramnik? Does Topolov compete in the Bulgarian Chess Championship? Does Judit Polgar play in the Hungarian Chess Championship? Does Anand compete in the Indian Chess Championship? So Kamsky didn't respond - so what? Kamsky has other fish to fry these days - like going for a world championship. As for Joel Benjamin and Larry Christiansen, most chessplayers in the USA have no idea who the heck they are. Perhaps these grandmasters have already committed to playing in other tournaments elsewhere, and so refused their invitations to play in the U.S. Championship - or perhaps not. I sure don't see their names showing up much these days in "final standings" lists in tournament from around the world. I mean no offense to these players who were greats in the USA back in the day, but there it is, they were great "back then," not now. So, who really cares if they play in the U.S. Championship now? Some "been there, done that" former champions complaining about the prize fund. They don't like it - but what have they done to try and improve the situation? Have they attempted to use their cachet as former U.S. Chess Champions to promote chess in the United States? Have they approached potential corporate sponsors and asked for funding? Have they joined together with other chess professionals and promoters to assemble a comprehensive long-term marketing strategy for professional chess in the USA? Nakamura's comments sound like sound REAL sour grapes to me. He didn't do well last year in Stillwater - he played like crap - and now he's copping out. Well, that is his perogative. He passed up an invitation to play in Corus "B" this year - where he might have made a decent reputation if he had played well AND earned a place in the 2009 Corus "A" Event, where he could have competed against some of the TOP players from around the world - and instead he went for the money at Gibraltar. Nothing wrong with going for the money - but tell the truth. Don't say it's because the US Championships have lost prestige. It's because Nakamura didn't cut it with the competition who did "bother to show up" at last year's Championship. It's not just about money. It's about reputation, too. Maybe being the U.S. Chess Champion for $8,000 means nothing to Benjamin, Christiansen and Nakamura, but it still means something to the average Joe on the street to be introduced to someone who is the current U.S. Chess Champion, because even if the average Joe don't know a thing about chess, the average Joe does know it takes brains to play chess and lots of skill and hard work to get to the top, just like it takes those same qualities to get to the top of any other profession. And the average Joe respects that. And so, if Benjamin, Christiansen and Nakamura can spit on $8,000, all the more power to you, darlings. Just be sure you don't spit into the wind.

"Madonna of the Goldfinch" Restoration Completed

Ten years of delicate, painstaking work has paid off, finally, in the restoration of Raphael's glorious painting to its true colors. Gorgeous!

From the
Raphael's Madonna shines forth beneath grime
By Nick Pisa in Rome
Last Updated: 1:45am BST 01/04/2008

A Raphael painting has been revealed in its true colours after centuries of neglect.

The Madonna del Cardellino, or Madonna of the Goldfinch, was in a poor condition after successive restorations left it with fading colours and splits in the wood panel on which it was painted.

But following a repair and cleaning lasting 10 years, it now boasts the bright blue sky and brilliant red drapery which the artist intended.

The Madonna was a wedding gift from Raphael to his friend Lorenzo Nasi in 1506. In 1548, the panel broke into 17 pieces when Nasi's house was destroyed by an earthquake.

Marco Ciatti, who was in charge of the restoration, said yesterday: "When we unwrapped the painting and I saw it horizontal for the first time instead of on a wall I was actually filled with doubt.

"It was a wood sandwich: full of nails, glue and various layers of paint from other restorations carried out during the centuries.

"The beautiful blue sky of the background had turned a dull grey. The problem was that after it was damaged it was badly restored with nails and oil paint."

As part of the process, the panel was X-rayed from several different angles to distinguish Raphael's brushwork from that of later artists who tried to cover up the damaged surface.

Mr. Ciatti said: "There were also other materials that had ruined the splendid colours of the original painting."

Special thinning agents were used to clean away the grime of 500 years so as not to damage Raphael's original paintwork.

By removing the grime they managed to uncover details such as countryside scenes in the background that had been hidden for years.

The colours on the painting were restored using as closely as possible oils that Raphael himself would have used.

Raphael arranged the three figures - Mary, Christ and the young John the Baptist - in a triangular composition favoured by Renaissance artists.

The Virgin is holding a book, which identifies her as Sedes Sapientiae ("Seat of Wisdom"). The goldfinch is a symbol of Christ's future death on the cross. St John offers the goldfinch to Christ as a warning of his fate.

Mr. Ciatti blamed one of the painting's past owners, Cardinal Giovan Carlo of the Medici family, for much of the damage. He said: "The decision to use those nails and glue was dramatic because it hid the colours of the painting.

"But we have managed after 10 years of hard, painstaking and careful work to bring the painting back to its original glory."

The painting is due to go on display in Rome in December before returning to the Uffizi gallery in Florence.

The Red Snake

At the time when the Western Roman Empire is collapsing and even the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire under great external pressure, the Sasanian Persian Empire musters the manpower to build and garrison a monument of greater scale than anything comparable in the west. The Persians seem to match, or more than match, their Late Roman rivals in army strength, organisational skills, engineering and water management. Archaeology is beginning to paint a clearer picture of an ancient super power at its apogee. What a pity that the current Islamic regime ruling Iran is so intent on destroying all things pre-Islamic. And they call us in the US barbarians! Hah! Here's the first part of a fascinating article about uncovering the secrets of the 195 kilometers long Red Snake, from is longer than Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall taken together. It is over a thousand years older than the Great Wall of China as we know it today. It is of more solid construction than its ancient Chinese counterparts. It is the greatest monument of its kind between central Europe and China and it may be the longest brick, or stone, wall ever built in the ancient world. This wall is known as ‘The Great Wall of Gorgan’ or ‘the Red Snake’. An international team of archaeologists has been at work on the snakelike monument and here they report on their findings. The ‘Red Snake’ in northern Iran, which owes its name to the red colour of its bricks, is at least 195km long. A canal, 5m deep or more, conducted water along most of the Wall. Its continuous gradient, designed to ensure regular water flow, bears witness to the skills of the land-surveyors responsible for marking out the Wall's route. Over 30 forts are lined up along this massive structure. Their combined size is about three times that of those on Hadrian's Wall. Yet these forts are small in comparison with contemporary fortifications in the hinterland, some of which are around ten times larger than the largest Wall forts. The 'Red Snake' is unmatched in so many respects and an enigma in yet more. Who built this defensive barrier of awesome scale and sophistication, when, and for what reason? Even its length is unclear: its western terminal was flooded by the rising waters of the Caspian Sea, while to the east it runs into the unexplored mountainous landscape of the Elburz Mountains. An Iranian team, under the direction of Jebrael Nokandeh, has been exploring this Great Wall since 1999. In 2005 it became a joint Iranian and British project. Our aim: to answer the fundamental questions of when, who, and why. Rest of article.

"Temporary" Marriage: Hand-Fasting and Mu'tah

This article is fascinating itself - Iranian Blogosphere Tests Government’s Limits (from The New York Times) - but it's this paragraph from the article that caught my eye: What gets filtered out is not entirely predictable either. Even some religious topics are deemed unacceptable. The government blocked the site of a blogger advocating the Shiite Muslim custom of temporary marriage, which is legal and considered a way for the young to relieve their sexual frustration without breaking religious laws. Whoa! What's this - temporary marriage? A concept still existing today - among the Muslims, no less? Interesting, verrrrryyyy interesting. Through my reading over the years, I became a little acquainted with an old Scottish custom called "hand-fast" - which was a form of temporary marriage. If the couple decided at the end of the period that they would not permanently marry, no shame was attached to either for walking away from the relationship, although after a year of living together it was more than likely the woman was no longer a "virgin" (patriarchal society at the time placed much value upon an intact hymen). Here's an interesting note from Wikipedia: One historical example of handfastings as trial marriages is that of "Telltown marriages" - named for the year and a day trial marriages contracted at the yearly festival held in Telltown, Ireland. The festival took place every year at Lughnasadh (August 1), and the trial marriage would last until the next Lughnasadh festival. At that time, they were free to leave or continue the union as they desired. Telltown was evidently named after the god Lugh's "step-mother:" Tailtiu. More from Wikipedia: In Celtic mythology, the Lughnasadh festival is said to have been begun by the god Lugh, as a funeral feast and games commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. The first location of the Áenach Tailteann was at the site of modern Teltown, located between Navan and Kells. Historically, the Áenach Tailteann gathering was a time for contests of strength and skill, and a favored time for contracting marriages and winter lodgings. A peace was declared at the festival, and religious celebrations were also held. A similar Lughnasadh festival was held at Carmun (whose exact location is under dispute). Carmun is also believed to have been a goddess of the Celts, perhaps one with a similar story as Tailtiu. From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:" Lug (var. Lugd, Lud) Celtic god, son or reincarnation of the Dagda, eponymous founder of the cities of Lyons and London - formerly Lugdunum, the stronghold of Lug. His temple stood on Ludgate Hill.(1) "Lud's Gate" was a great stone called Crom Cruaich, the Bloddy Crescent, apparently a symbol of the menstruating Moon-goddess to whom Lug was married in suggestively Tantric style.(2) Lug was Christianized as several saints: St. Lugad, St. Luan, St. Eluan, and St. Lugidus, depending on local dialects. Irish legendary history called him a King Lugadius martyred by a lance-thrust from a druidic priest - a story taken quite directly from ancient cults of the sacred-king/dying-god. Lug perished after marrying the Great Goddess called "the Sovereignty of Erin until the day of doom."(3) Lug's special festival was Lammas Eve, formerly Lugnasad, "the Games of Lug." The pagan rites of Lugnasad were kept to a very late date at Taillten in Ireland, where the Goddess had been worshipped as a local Earth-mother, Tailltiu. At the annual Taillten Fair, men bought bridges in a custom reminiscent of the Goddess's ancient rites of sacred promiscuity and defloration. The hill where payments were collected was known as the Hill of the Buying.(4) Taillten was so notorious for promiscuity that any casual sexual affair came to be known as a Taillten marriage.(5) Taillten marriages were actually legal up to the 13th century. They were supposed to last the period specified by the old lunar calendars, a year and a day.(6) Lug's curious name may have come in some remote past time from Mesopotamia, where the title of a sacred king, the Goddess' spouse, was lugal.(7) Notes: (1) Squire, 254. (2) Briffault 3, 75. (3) Spence, 66, 102. (4) Joyce, 439. (5) Spence, 101. (6) Pepper & Wilcock, 273. (7) Campbell, Or.M., 107. Part of the old hand-fasting ceremony was the tying together of the couple's hands with a rope in a knot. The knot is suggestive of Isis' "knot" and also of the intercrossing of arms of a man and a woman ending in clasped hands in Tantric tradition (forming a "figure 8", the symbol of the goddess and today a symbol, still, of "infinity" - which is the "figure 8" laying on its side). "Temporary marriage," "trial marriage" etc. is a concept found all around the world from the most ancient societies up to today. Fascinating - a way for a woman to achieve sexual independence and not be bound forever to a man. It was the universality of the practice that was most enlightening to me! From the most restrictive patriarchal societies (Christian and Islamic) to the so-called "pagan" cultures. But - getting back to the subject of the Shiite form of trial marriage: Marriages entered into for a fixed period are found ... the ancient Arabs too, according to Ammianus Marcellinus, marriages were often contracted for a term of definite length, after which the wife might withdraw if she pleased. Somewhat of the same character is a temporary form of marriage which still exists in certain parts of Arabia. The Shi'ah Moslems recognise as legal marriages contracted for a certain limited period—a day, a month, a year, or any other specified term. Such a temporary contract of marriage, which is called ntut`ah, creates no right of inheritance in either party, although the children born of the union are legitimate and inherit from their parents like the issue of a permanent contract. The wife is not entitled to any maintenance unless it is expressly stipulated; the husband is entitled to refuse procreation, which he cannot do in ordinary marriages; and there is also this difference between a permanent and a temporary marriage, that in the case of the latter the husband has no power to divorce his wife, although the marriage may be dissolved by the mutual consent of the parties before the fixed period has expired. This temporary form of marriage exists in Persia to the present day, but is held to be unlawful by the Sunnis. Unfortunately, the article from which I quoted the material above did not provide an author's name or source. All I can tell you is that it is from an article purportedly published in 1936 and republished, without proper attribution, at Antiques Digest (a/k/a It did, though, give me this term: ntut`ah (mu'tah, mutah, muta) - to do further research. A website listing a number of article that are against mu'tah, see "The Revealing of Truth - the Marriage of Mu'tah" (scroll down for list). A website providing many links and information on Mu'tah "How Do I Do Mutah?" I wouldn't be surprised if the roots of this practice go all the way back to the ancient "goddess marriage" practices of ancient Mesopotamia. Just like the warrior woman tradition, which was particularly prevalent in ancient Persia, and the Arab tradition of the Lady of Victory, they are echoes of ancient times and practices (see prior posts for further information on the Lady of Victory, warrior women, and the Hind of Hinds:;;;;;;

China to Single Mothers: Your Children Do Not Officially Exist

The Chinese government has long maintained that the Communist Party liberated women in 1949 along with the rest of the country. But in an era of rapid modernization, China has lacked anything like a broad current of thought about women’s rights. “When we argue that a woman owns the uterus, and it’s her right to decide whether to deliver the baby or not, people won’t buy it,” said Yuan Xin, director of psychology at the Consulting Center of Nankai University. “If you are a woman, your personal choice is monitored and supervised by a lot of others, and they expect you to do what everyone else does.” Welcome to the Collective - may as well be a Borg! From The New York Times Single Mothers in China Forge a Difficult Path By HOWARD W. FRENCH Published: April 6, 2008 BEIJING — As a young migrant worker, Lei Gailing sought her fortune in China’s fast-industrializing and freewheeling south. She found a steady factory job and a less stable boyfriend, then became pregnant. The routine course for most women would have been to marry the man or to arrange an abortion. Ms. Lei, who was by then 33 and fiercely independent, did neither. Refusing to marry the man but afraid she might never have a child, she chose to become a single mother. That decision carried implications that Ms. Lei never fully anticipated, marking her as something of a social outcast in a country that still strictly controls population growth and makes few concessions to women like her. Today, at 41, Ms. Lei says she has no regrets, even after facing a life of bitter twists and turns: pretending to be divorced at one point to avoid bringing shame on her son and ultimately marrying a much older man in an effort to obtain the basic identification her boy needed to go to school or receive other social services. For all this, Ms. Lei, who now lives with the older man in Beijing in what she describes as an abusive relationship, said she would do it all over again for her son. “I look at him today, and know it was worthwhile,” she said, tears forming in her eyes. “He is so lovely, I cannot regret it.” In a society where until quite recently premarital sex was often punished, the issue of single motherhood has been slow to enter the public arena. But now, a new awareness of the issue is raising questions about the status of women in China, as well as other rights issues like the hukou, or residency permit, a central tool of population control passed down from the Maoist era that restricts movement by linking people to the towns of their birth. . . . Official statistics on the number of single mothers are unavailable in China. But with premarital sex now commonplace and women’s earning power growing, particularly in the wealthy cities of the east, experts believe their numbers are rising fast, albeit from a small base. “This is of great significance,” said Li Ling, a professor of arts and sciences at Beijing Language and Culture University. “It’s hard for me to judge other people’s choices, good or bad, but it means a lot that women are making such decisions on their own, as a matter of choice. In Chinese tradition, women don’t have such rights. We are only the bearers of offspring for our husbands’ families.” In many ways, Xie Jing, 33, a newspaper reporter in Shanghai, is typical of an emerging generation of single mothers who are professionals and whose choices on child-rearing are eased by their financial security. Ms. Xie said that she became pregnant while she was engaged, but that her fiancé’s ambivalence over the unexpected news prompted her to set her own course. When her former fiancé asked her, “What is the point of having a child if we are no longer together?” she had a ready answer: raising the child alone. “My quality of life isn’t so bad, so I don’t want to lower myself to staying with another person just for the sake of being together,” Ms. Xie said. “If that means I have to sacrifice a lot, so be it. But I am in a good situation now with my baby, and I’m not willing to lose it.” Her son was born two years ago in a partly foreign-owned hospital, where registration of the pregnancy with a neighborhood committee — standard in most of China — was not required. Ms. Xie lives with her parents, who are retired and help take care of her boy. To all but her closest friends, she explains that the father is overseas on a three-year assignment. Her son bears Ms. Xie’s family name, and the father was told that if he did not accept legal responsibility as a parent, he would be kept at bay until the boy turned 18. Asserting herself in this way was made easier by virtue of Ms. Xie’s residence in Shanghai, a wealthy city by China’s standards with relatively liberal provisions for awarding residency permits. “I checked out Shanghai’s Public Security Bureau’s Web site, and discovered an item indicating children born outside of marriage could apply for hukou,” Ms. Xie said. “The staff was mean to me when I applied, but there were written rules guaranteeing the rights of my child, so there was nothing they could do to prevent me.” Every province and major city has some leeway in how it applies those rules. But for peasants and working-class mothers without much education, money or standing, choices can seem limited. Zhong Yu, 23, a music teacher in Chongqing, one of China’s largest cities, said she considered getting an abortion when she recently discovered that she was pregnant. Abortion is legal, widespread and freely available in China, but she could not afford the hospital fees. She hid her situation from her family, and by the time she had saved enough money, she was five months pregnant — too late, she believed, to end the pregnancy safely. Today Ms. Zhong calls the father, who has no fixed job, a “vagrant” and says she was silly to have become involved with him. “But when I saw my child, I thought no matter how hard my life will be, I will bring him up,” she added. Ms. Lei, the mother in Beijing, also had few resources and, partly because of that, a difficult path. After returning to her village to give birth, she went to Beijing to look for work and a husband, leaving her son behind with her mother. But fearing he would be taunted as a bastard in the village, she brought him with her to Beijing when he reached school age. In the capital, Ms. Lei faced new problems. Without a father she could not establish a hukou, or residency permit. In 2006, Ms. Lei described her plight on the Internet, drawing the interest of a Chinese journalist, who wrote about her. Soon afterward, men began contacting her with marriage inquiries. She agreed to meet one of them one day under a highway overpass. He had described himself as 60, but looked at least 10 years older, she said. The man, a retired and widowed engineer with a mentally disabled son, said he needed an heir to continue his family line, and she needed the help of a man to register her son so he could attend school. Out of their mutual needs came a marriage of convenience. “He needed a kid and I needed a home,” Ms. Lei said. “My kid needed to go to school, so we pooled together a family. There was no contract of any kind.” They married, but their hasty pact quickly unraveled. The man balked at registering the boy in his name out of fear he could be breaking the law. Now, Ms. Lei said, he is cold toward her child and mean to her. For now, the boy, Jirong, 7, attends a neighborhood school that has looked the other way over his lack of a residency permit. “Most people in this situation would have given away their child to others for adoption,” Ms. Lei said. “Almost no one would choose to bring up the child on her own.”

Death by Blogging

From The New York Times In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop By MATT RICHTEL Published: April 6, 2008 SAN FRANCISCO — They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home. A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment. Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly. Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December. Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet. To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style. The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it. “I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.” Rest of article.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Waste Land

From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." The recurrent threatening theme of medieval romances was the Waste Land motif, especially in the Holy Grail cycle. Like the Grail legends themselves, the Waste Land motif probably came from the Middle East, where European travelers and crusaders had seen a true Waste Land: the great desert which eastern mystics attributed to Islam's renunciation of the fertile Great Mother. Western pagans also maintained that if the Mother should be offended or neglected, she might curse the land with the same desperate barrenness that could be seen in Arabia Deserta and North Africa. (See Grail, Holy). One of the Grail stories said a king of England (Logres) once committed a mortal sin by raping one of the Goddess's priestesses and stealing her golden cup, symbol of her love, which must not be stolen but only given. Afterward, priestesses of the sacred springs no longer welcomed wayfarers with food and drink.(1) The Peace of the Goddess was destroyed, for the women no longer trusted men. "The land went to waste. The trees lost their leaves, grass and flowers withered, and the water receded more and more....[A] wrong against a feminine being and a plundering of nature were perpetrated.... [T]he origin of the trouble was looked upon as an offense committed against the fairy world, i.e., actually against nature.... The growth of masculine consciousness and of the patriarchal logos principle of the Christian outlook are concerned in no small measure with this development."(2) The Goddess appeared in several myths of the Grail cycle as a great lady disinherited, or a queen robbed of her possessions and reduced to penury, like La Reine de la Terre Gaste (Queen of the Waste Land) in the Cistercian romance of the Queste del Sainte Graal.(3) Many tales speak of groups of women deprived of their former property rights and gathered together in "castles of damsels," under three rulers personifying the Goddess: a queen, her daughter, and her granddaughter. Hoping to keep their enemies at bay by magic spells, the women waited for a champion to defend their cause, as the Grail knights were supposed to do. The queen employed a certain learned astronomer whose wizardry kept away from the castle any knight likely to fail through cowardice, envy, greed, or any other weakness of character. The ladies waited for the coming of their savior, the Desired Knight, perfect in his honesty and bravery: one who could destroy all their enemies and restore their lands and possessions, which had been taken from them by various robber barons. "Orphaned maidens," deprived of their inheritance by new patrilineal laws, also took refuge in such castles of women; so did older widows who were no longer permitted to inherit property as under the former laws of mother-right.(4) Legends of the coming of the Desired Knight may have been promulgated by women, or by bards seeking to please women with a favorite theme. But there was more than this to the image of the Waste Land. It haunted a society in which, "Under the autocratic regime of persecuting Christianity during the Middle Ages of Europe, Christian dogma was indeed accepted nominally by great intellects, but it was accepted under duress and reservation... The men of highest intellect were compelled to express the faith that was in them in the most guarded language."(5) Often, the language was symbolism - the most guarded of all, since its true meaning could always be denied. The symbolic Waste Land was "a landscape of spiritual death," where religious concepts were dissociated from the feelings and life experience of ordinary people, and imposed upon a confused, reluctant public only by authoritarian indoctrination.(6) This could well describe Europe in the 12th century [or, indeed, America under the George W. Bush years] when the coming of the Desired Knight was vaguely identified with the second coming of Christ - or Merlin, Arthur, Frederick, etc. Many oppressed people desparingly yearned for a powerful hero to defy the oppressors on their behalf. The Waste Land theme invoked the collective fear of every agricultural society since the Stone Age: the fear that Mother Earth's cyclic miracle of food production might fail. But it meant more than that. It also stood for collective devitalization and depression in a society preceived by its members as lacking spiritual roots. A famous modern application of the Waste Land theme is, of course, T.S. Eliot's poem, based not only on western applications of Grail symbolism but also on the Hindu tale of the hopeless quest for the true Word of Power, as recounted in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The Hindu version ran like this: Gods, men, and demons went to Shiva-Pajapati in the guise of Lord of Thunder, to find out from him the ultimate word - that is, the word signifying the goal and end of all things, as Om signified their beginning. But the Thunder, being thunder, was not able to say any word except one: Da. Men, hearing this word, thought it meant datta, meaning "give" or "fertilize," because begetting was the only divine thing they could do, and charitable giving was the only way they knew to seek blessedness. Demons, hearing this word, thought it meant dayadhvam, meaning "sympathize" or "be compassionate"; in the Oriental context demons were not evil spirits but deities of the old matriarchal religion, who preached karuna, mother-love. Gods, hearing this word, thought it meant damyata, meaning "control," the secret of their success; by self control they became divine, and by divinity they achieved power to control all the others. But the Lord of Thunder couldn't distinguish one word from another. He only repeated mindless the only word he knew: "Da! Da! Da!"(7) ' Notes: (1) Spence, 138. (2) Jung & von Franz, 202, 204. (3) Campbell, C.M., 543. (4) Jung & von Franz, 229. (5) Shirley, 31-32. (6) Campbell, C.M., 5-6, 373, 388. (7) Upanishads, 112. See Eliot's The Waste Land.

Chess News Update

Chess Femme News has been updated (as of April 5, 2008). Enjoy!

Chess Adventures: Shopping for a Chess Set

A rather interesting short piece from the out of Oshkosh, WI (yah, my home state!) Posted April 5, 2008 Streetwise: Sometimes you need to shop outside the box Streetwise has a story for you this week. Not sure if there’s a moral to it, but maybe we will just use it as an indicator of how screwy commerce can be in this town. Or, maybe just how screwy Streetwise can be. The object of our pursuit: A small chess set, which we were willing to reasonably pay for. Beginning after work on Monday, Streetwise spent a total of two hours and waaaay too much gas driving around to every store we thought could possibly have a small chess set so we could set it on our desk and play our Minneapolis friend Gerg (EDS – NOT a misprint. He goes by Gerg instead of Greg) in a move-a-day match. We started downtown with a call to House of Heroes and a look through the Paper Tiger. No such luck in either case. Big boxes were next and yielded some results. Target had a few cheap-but-not-small ones, Hobby Lobby was a bust and surprisingly, so was Shopko. Admittedly, Streetwise did not try Wal-Mart. Next, came an epiphany. Hobbytown USA on Oregon Street. A solution and a way to shop local! Check and mate, to use the preferred nomenclature. Not so much. Yes, they had chess sets, but none cheaper than $60 and no small ones. At this point, friends, we hadn’t expected such a battle for something so simple as a chess set, but our resolve had also hardened as we again drove back out to the frontage roads. Streetwise was going to find a chess set if it took looking in every dang store out there. Alas, we returned to Target after stopping at, of all places, OfficeMax in the hope they might have an “executive” chess set. Bought the $4 chess set with a laminated paper board and prepared for the start Tuesday. Got into work, proudly set it up – also weighted it down to get the board to lay flat – and went to work snapping shots of all the changes happening downtown for “Public Enemies.” The assignment took us into Satori Imports where, as we turned to walk out, there sat a small, glass chess set and glass board for $8 in a glass case. Of course, Streetwise thought, this could only happen in Oshkosh.

Discovery of Viking-Era Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian Coins in Sweden

News from CAIS LONDON, (CAIS) -- Swedish archaeologists say they have uncovered a horde of Viking-era silver coins near Stockholm's Arlanda international airport in the country's Uppland region. Swedish National Heritage Board (SNHB), announced the find as about 450 silver coins -- representing the largest collection of coins from the era found in the region during the modern age, Swedish news agency TT reported Friday. According to SNHB the coins are dated between 500 CE to 840 CE. The earliest coins are of Sasanian-Iran and later ones are Islamic Arab-Sasanian coins which were minted in Baghdad, Damascus and North Africa. The hoard appear to have been buried around 850 CE near a grave that is thought to be about 1,000 years older than the finds and no human remains were found. According to Karin Beckman-Thoor, an archaeologist with SNHB, Vikings that buried the hoard thought they may be guarded by the ancestral souls. In July 1999 and November 2006 over 1,100 similar coins belonging to Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian periods were discovered in Swedish island of Gotland. A number of news agencies including the BBC have reported the find as 470 purely Arab coins dated between 7th and 9th century CE.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola! It's been a long hard week (nothing new there!) The weather seems to have finally turned - it's still in the 30's at night but now it's getting into the higher 40's during the day, and according to the forecast this weekend we may see a high of 58 F on Sunday, yippee! We need to dry out from all of the melted snow PLUS the rain rain rain, never-ending rain! Yech! I'm waterlogged, darlings! And anxious to start the yard work - we are about 2 weeks behind schedule weather-wise, this year. The yard looks horrid - lots of branches and twigs blown down from the wind storms during the late fall and winter when it was too cold and/or snowy and/or wet to get out and clean up. And probably half of ton of peanut shells left over from what I fed the critters this winter! Where's my rake? Tomorrow is the annual NAIC Investors Fair and the ladies of the investment club are going. It's a great day out but a long one, starting with breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and not ending until about 3:00 p.m. We recently added a fifth member who is tres sympatico, and now we'll be accumulating $$$ even faster than before. This is a good time to be investing - going into a recession. Lots of good companies are on sale and we've been accumulating some funds to invest over the past several months. There's been some interesting news this week: Here's a weird one: Man Haunted by Text Messages from Deceased Wife - buried with her cell phone! Cue spooky music....whhhhaaaaaaaaa........ Even weirder: Old nuclear-missile silo now houses UFO research center, yeah yeah, I didn't even bother reading that story. But last night, I must have held a trace of that "headline" in my mind because I had the most bizzarre dream about a long-abandoned local "Nike missile" site that was not so abandoned after all - in fact - it held several multi-nuclear warhead armed ICBMs (do they still call them that, by the way?) just waiting to be launched by a madman Republican President who shall remain nameless - until yours truly and her trusty cohorts in Truth, Goddess, and The American Way saved the day. Ta da! LOL! Hmmmm, way over the borderline of bizzarre: Pet owners and animal care professionals learn how to tap into their Spirit Teachers and Power Animals during Introduction of Shamanic Journeying hosted by Animal Spirit Healing and Education Network as part of the Shamanic Healing for Animals study program. "Big Cat" sightings:

Evidently, reports of sightings of "big cats" (cougars) go back dozens of years in the midwest and Canada. Guess the zoologists don't know all there is to know (well, of course not, but I expect the majority of them are like the majority of chess historians - hide bound and tunnel vision to 19th century "knowledge" that is wrong-headed and just plain wrong!)


Lotus, Symbol of the Goddess

From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." (Image: not from Walker - Nakht and wife holding water lily, a large water lily also to the right of the couple, resting on the offering table, another water lily wrapped around Nakht's wife's right wrist, also notice the lotus intertwined with the pilar to the far right - that is classic. Nakht's tomb, ancient Egypt - the symbolism will become apparent when you read the entry below!)

Asia's primary symbol of the yoni (vulva), often personified as the Goddes Padma, "Lotus," also known as Cunti, Lakshmi, or Shakti.

The central phrase of Tantrism, Om mani padme hum, meant the Jewel (male) in the Lotus (female), with interlocking connotations, the penis in the vagina, the fetus in the womb, the corpse in the earth, the God in the Goddess representing all of these.(1)

The father-god Brahma claimed to be a universal creator, nevertheless, he was styled "Lotus-born," for he arose from the primal Goddess's yoni. Egypt's father-god Ra also claimed to be a creator but owed his existence to the Goddess called "great world lotus flower, out of which rose the sun for the first time at the creation."(2)

Virtually all Egyptian Goddess-forms were symbolized by the lotus.(3) Pharaohs were sexually united with the World Lotus to achieve rebirth after death. The funeral hymn of Unas declared that he "had union with the goddess Mut, Unas hath drawn unto himself the flame of Isis, Unas hath united himself to the lotus."(4)

One way of uniting oneself with the lotus was the custom of ritual cunnilingus, widely practiced throughout the east as communion with the feminine life-principle.(5) This was probably the true meaning of the Land of Lotus-Easters visited by Odysseus and his crew. The sensual Land of the Lotus-Easters was described as a tropical place beyond the southern sea, which could apply to any land from Egypt to India.(6)

Ascetic Jain Buddhism tried to eradicate the lotus symbol because of its erotic implications. Nevertheless, a few centuries after Buddha's time, the most prominent figures on Buddhist monuments was again Padma, openly displaying her genital lotus.(7) A similar resurgence of erotic imagery overtook ascetic Christianity, when "obscene" figures proliferated in cathedrals and chruches, for example the Irish shelia-na-gig.

Most Oriental mystics held that spiritual knowledge began with carnal knowledge. The lotus was the Goddess's gate, and sex was the Way through the gate to her inner mysteries. With proper sexual exercises, a true sage might achieve the final flowering of revelation described as the thousand-petaled lotus of invisible light emanting from the top of the head after ascending the spinal chakras from the pelvis.

Worshippers of Vishnu sometimes painted their god as the source of the World Lotus, which grew on a long stem from his navel. But since "the primary reference of the lotus in India has always been the goddess Padma, 'Lotus,' whose body itself is the universe, the long stem from navel to lotus should properly connote an umbilical cord through which the flow of energy would be running from the goddess to the god, mother to child, not the other way."(8) Some Hindu cosmogonies saw the whole world as the lotus flower, with seven petals representing the seven divisions of the heavens where the cities and palaces of the god were located.(9)

In the Middle East, the lotus was lilu, or lily.(10) It was the flower of Lilith, the Sumero-Babylonian earth mother claimed by the Jews as Adam's first wife. The three-lobed lily or fleu-de-lis, like the shamrock, one stood for the Triple Goddess's three yonis, which is why the lily was sacred to the trune Queen of Heaven. The Blessed Virgin Juno conceived her savior-son Mars by the lily, and the same flower was adopted as a conception-charm of the Blessed Virgin Mary.(11) When Isis was assimilated to the burgeoning legends of the Virgin, her Egyptian images held the phallic cross in one hand, the female lotus seed-vessel in the other, like the Goddess shown on the Isiac Table.(12)

(1) Rawson, E.A., 151.
(2) Budge, G.E., 1, 473.
(3) Angus, 139.
(4) Budge, G.E., 2, 32.
(5) Rawson, E.A., 103.
(6) Thomson, 176.
(7) Campbell, Or. M., 301.
(8) Campbell, Oc.M., 157.
(9) Lethaby, 124-25.
(10) Summers, V., 226.
(11) Simons, 103.
(12) Knight, D.W.P., 50.
About ancient Egypt, the symbol of the lotus figured greatly in tomb art and official carvings, as far as I can tell, from the earliest pre-dynastic days right through to the final collapse of the ancient Egyptian identity, beginning with the destruction of the last of the old temples by the Christians in about 400 CE or so and then the onslaught of the Mohammedists in the 7th century CE. An ancient Egyptian god, Nefertem, who was later personified as the god of perfume (scent), wore a lotus on his head and engendered physical characteristics of both male and female (like the Indian gods so often do), appearing as a hermaphrodite. See Caroline Seawright's excellent short piece, "Nefertem, God of Perfume, Water Lily of the Sun..." for information. See also "Nefertem, Ancient Lord of Perfume" at Tour Egypt.

What was the Isiac Table?

According to the Theosophical Society (yes, they still exist):
Isiac table: Spiritual Theosophical Dictionary on Isiac table
Isiac table. A true monument of Egyptian art. It represents the goddess Isis under many of her aspects. The Jesuit Kircher describes it as a table of copper overlaid with black enamel and silver incrustations. It was in the possession of Cardinal Bembo, and therefore called "Tabula Bembina sive Mensa Isiaca ". Under this title it is described by W. Wynn Westcott, M.B., who gives its "History and Occult Significance" in an extremely interesting and learned volume (with photographs and illustrations). The tablet was believed to have been a votive offering to Isis in one of her numerous temples. At the sack of Rome in 1525, it came into the possession of a soldier who sold it to Cardinal Bembo. Then it passed to the Duke of Mantua in 1630, when it was lost.

(See also: Isiac table, Theosophy, Spirituality, Body mind and Soul, Spiritual Dictionary)

But, according to information at Sacred Texts (under entry "The Bembine Table of Isis"), the Table (tablet) was NOT lost/destroyed! There is also a enlargeable line drawing of the Table which would take days to try and decipher - I see so many interesting things in it! Wow. Who knew? I sure didn't and I've been studying this stuff since 1999!

Added 4/5/08 - from Isis:
I read the article about the Lotus, and I thought you might like to know that the famous blue lotus of Egypt, now exstinct, had aphrodesiac properties...Pharmacologists test dryed lotus from tombs and discovered that the lotus was a form of natural Viagra. The Egyptians would soak the lotus in wine to extract the lotus viagra. I wrote about this in our Showgirls article, Aphrodesiac Cooking.

Chess News Update

Hola darlings! Chess Femme News has been updated (April 4, 2008). Enjoy!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

DNA in Archaeology

From Katherimini, English Edition April 3, 2008 DNA sheds light on Minoans Crete’s fabled Minoan civilization was built by people from Anatolia, according to a new study by Greek and foreign scientists that disputes an earlier theory that said the Minoans’ forefathers had come from Africa. The new study – a collaboration by experts in Greece, the USA, Canada, Russia and Turkey – drew its conclusions from the DNA analysis of 193 men from Crete and another 171 from former neolithic colonies in central and northern Greece. The results show that the country’s neolithic population came to Greece by sea from Anatolia – modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria – and not from Africa as maintained by US scholar Martin Bernal. The DNA analysis indicates that the arrival of neolithic man in Greece from Anatolia coincided with the social and cultural upsurge that led to the birth of the Minoan civilization, Constantinos Triantafyllidis of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University told Kathimerini. “Until now we only had the archaeological evidence – now we have genetic data too and we can date the DNA,” he said. ******************************************************************************** I thought that "Anatolia" was primarily what we call Turkey today (see, for instance, Wikipedia). I do not believe I've ever read prior to tonight that Iran and Iraq were part of ancient Anatolia! If the author meant to say that parts of modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria (rather small parts) were included within ancient Anatolia, then that would make sense, based on the maps at Wikipedia. But if - as the article presently reads - the author meant all of Syria, Iran and Iraq and not Turkey, then take it with a large grain of salt.

Shakespeare in the Digital Age

Shakespeare (or, as Candi Kane, one of the duo of the irrepressible Las Vegas Showgirls, calls him, 'Spearshaker') is going digital! From News Daily Posted 9:03 am EDT LONDON, Mar. 26, 2008 (Reuters) — A U.S. and British library plan to reproduce online all 75 editions of William Shakespeare's plays printed in the quarto format before the year 1641. The Bodleian Library in Oxford and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC have joined forces to download their collections, building on the work of the British Library which digitized its collection of quarto editions in 2004. "There are no surviving manuscripts of Shakespeare's plays in his handwriting so the quartos are the closest we can get to what Shakespeare really wanted," said Bodleian spokeswoman Oana Romocea. "Some quartos do, however, have his annotations around the printed text." The project is designed to make all of the earliest printed versions of Shakespeare's plays, many of which are only accessible to scholars, available to the wider public. The process of downloading the quartos will begin next month and take a year to complete. Online visitors will be able to compare images side-by-side, search the plays and mark and tag the texts. "We (at the Bodleian) have about 55 copies, although some of them are duplicates," said Romocea. "Each quarto is different, so it's very interesting from a research perspective to compare the quartos. "For example, some of the famous lines in 'Hamlet' exist in one quarto and in another they don't, or they are very different." Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays and collaborated on several more between about 1590 and 1613. He died in 1616. (Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato) Copyright Reuters 2008

DNA in Archaeology

Prior posts: Using DNA to figure out ancient migration patterns; DNA evidence of conquest in South America. From BBC News March 27, 2008 Crusaders 'left genetic legacy' By Paul Rincon Science reporter, BBC News Scientists have detected the faint genetic traces left by medieval crusaders in the Middle East. The team says it found a particular DNA signature which recently appeared in Lebanon and is probably linked to the crusades. The finding comes from the Genographic Project, a major effort to track human migrations through DNA. Details of the research have been published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. The researchers found that some Christian men in Lebanon carry a DNA signature hailing from Western Europe. Four crusades came through Lebanon between the 11th and 13th Centuries - the first, second, third and sixth. The bulk of the crusader armies came from England, France, Germany and Italy; many of the men stayed to build castles and settlements, mixing with the local populations. The scientists also found that Lebanese Muslim men were more likely than Christians to carry a particular genetic signature. But this one is linked to expansions from the Arabian Peninsula which brought Islam to the area in the 7th and 8th Centuries. But they emphasise that the differences between the two communities are minor, and that Christians and Muslim Arabs in Lebanon overwhelmingly share a common heritage. Genetic 'surname' The legacy of the Muslim expansion has been demonstrated in other studies which looked at the genetics of Middle Eastern and North African populations. But signs of recent European migration to the region are more unusual. The study focused on the Y, or male, chromosome, a package of genetic material carried only by men that is passed down from father to son more or less unchanged, just like a surname. But over many generations, the chromosome accumulates small changes, or copying errors, in its DNA sequence. These can be used to classify male chromosomes into different groups (called haplogroups) which, to some extent, reflect a person's geographical ancestry. The team analysed the Y chromosomes of 926 Lebanese males and found that patterns of male genetic variation in Lebanon fell more along religious lines than along geographical lines. A genetic signature on the male chromosome called WES1, which is usually only found in west European populations, was found among the Lebanese men included in the study. Science and history "It seems to have come in from Europe and is found mostly in the Christian population," said Dr Spencer Wells, director of the Genographic Project. "This is odd because typically we don't see this sort of stratification by religion when we are looking at the relative proportions of these lineages - and particularly immigration events." He told BBC News: "Looking at the same data set, we saw a similar enrichment of lineages coming in from the Arabian Peninsula in the Muslim population which we didn't see [as often] in the Christian population." Lebanese Muslim men were found to have high frequencies of a Y chromosome grouping known as J1. This is typical of populations originating from the Arabian Peninsula, who were involved in the Muslim expansion. "The goal of the study was to put some science to the history of this country - which is very rich," said Pierre Zalloua, a co-author on the paper, from the Lebanese American University in Beirut. He added: "To have these great civilisations - with the Islamic expansion and the migration from Europe - coming to Lebanon, leaving not only their genes but also some of their culture and way of life, it can only make us feel richer." The Genographic Project was launched by National Geographic in 2005 to help piece together a picture of how the Earth was populated. The consortium has sold 250,000 DNA test kits and regional centres have taken samples of genetic material from 31,000 indigeous people.

Women in Archaeology: Kathleen Mary Kenyon-Follow up

Prior post about Kenyon. Female excavator had many finds April 3, 2008 By Elizabeth Herring Reporter (Baylor University, The Lariat Online) The Hankamer Treasure Room in the Armstrong Browning Library, which is usually filled with writings and artifacts, held a large group of students and faculty Tuesday afternoon during Dr. Miriam Davis' lecture on Dame Kathleen Kenyon, one of the first female archaeologists in the Middle East. Davis, an associate professor of history at Delta State University in Mississippi, spoke on the life and work of Kenyon, whose work excavating in Jericho is "some of the most important in the 20th century," she said. Baylor is home to the Kenyon Collection, Kenyon's personal library. Janet Sheets, a reference librarian and associate professor of social sciences and humanities, said she hoped students "would learn about a scholar, like Kathleen Kenyon, and about Miriam Davis and the way (Davis) went about doing her scholarship (on Kenyon)." Beth Tice, an assistant director of the Baylor libraries, said she thinks it is important to show students the process of research. Tice said she hopes that Davis can show students how they can develop their research into different projects, like Davis did by writing the first biography on Kenyon, titled, Dame Kathleen Kenyon: Digging Up the Holy Land. "Why was Kathleen Kenyon worth a biography?" Davis said, to open her speech on Kenyon. "She became an archeologist quite by accident." Kenyon was the daughter of Sir Frederic Kenyon, the director of the British Museum. Many people thought that her upbringing made her predisposed to become an archeologist. Kenyon graduated with a third-class degree from Oxford, which is low. Davis said Kenyon spent more time playing lacrosse and tennis than she did studying. After graduating, Kenyon joined her first expedition to Great Zimbabwe, an ancient stone ruin in present-day Zimbabwe, with Gertrude Caton-Thompson, another important female archeologist. It was there that Kenyon "fell in love with field archeology and became interested in methodology," Davis said. On her second excavation, she worked with Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who developed a new method of digging that emphasized precision in order to gather more data about the artifacts that were discovered. Kenyon followed his method that she later developed into her own method at her digs in Jerusalem. She excavated in Jericho for seven field seasons. "The discoveries she made were breath-taking," Davis said. Among her discoveries were a series of seven human skulls that had been plastered and decorated with shells to look like humans. These were some of the oldest portraits ever found and made the front page of the New York Times upon their discovery. Archaeologists frequently argue about the historical existence of biblical characters. When in Jericho, Kenyon was asked to examine the work of previous archeologists in the area to determine if the biblical city of Jericho had existed. Kenyon determined that all the different walls of Jericho fell because of earthquakes in the area and that sections of the wall were built at different times. "Archaeology does not do a great deal here to illuminate archaeological biblical history," Davis said. "Some archaeologists now claim much of the Hebrew Bible is fiction." When in Jerusalem, Kenyon excavated at the site of the city of David. When digging, she found part of a wall that was from the middle bronze age when King David was said to have lived, Davis said. Kenyon had unknowingly discovered what present-day archaeologists think may be King David's palace. "Kathleen Kenyon's career continues," Davis said.

Sacred Spaces: The Sacred Grove

From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Grove, Sacred Next to a cave, a grove was the most popular uterine symbol in ancient religions, even among early biblical Semites, to whom Asherah was the Mother-Goddess of the Grove. A large tree, pillar, or obelisk within the grove often represented the male god inside the Goddess as both child and lover. Brittany in the 11th century still had a druidic holy wood called Nemet. This may have been the same as the fairy wood Broceliande, the grove of Merlin's Nemesis, the lady Nimue, who also bore the name of the fatal Goddess of the grove. A common Indo-European word for the sacred grove was Nemi (Latin nemus), indicating dedication to the Moon-goddess called Nemesis, Diana Nemorensis, or Diana Nemetona - Lady of the Grove. Nemeton was the druidic oak grove. Strabo said the greatest shrine of the Galatians (Gauls) in Asia Minor was Drunemeton, the druid-grove. Southern Scotland had a shrine called Medionemeton. France had another, called Nemetodorum (modern Nanterre). In Spain, the sacred grove of the Moon-goddess Brigit was Nemetobriga.(1) Hungary still has Maros-Nemeti, an old grove-shrine of Mari-Diana.(2) The Irish called a sanctuary nemed, or fidnemed, a "forest shrine," established by the archaic colonists called Nemed or Moon-people. Religious rites continued in these forest shrines throughout the Middle Ages.(3) Christian writers spoke of "heathen abominations" carried out in forest shrines or nimidae. Patriarchal priesthoods seemed to consider the groves dangerous. The Bible speaks of many attacks on the asherim or Groves of Asherah, which were consistently worshipped by both people and kings, despite the prophets' repeated condemnations: Exodus 34:13, Deuteronomy 16:21, Judges 3:7, 1 Kings 15:13, 16:33; 2 Kings 18:4, 21:7. Destroyers of the sacred groves feared the Mother's curse, as shown in numerous moralizing myths. Erysichthon dared to cut down one of Demeter's sacred groves, though the high priestess forbade him with the voice of the Goddess herself. Then angry Demeter cursed him with perpetual hunger that could never be appeased. He ended as a wretched beggar, frantically stuffing his mouth with filth.(4) Druidic sacred groves were somewhat protected by superstitious fear of similar curses. The oak grove at Derry was one of the most ppopular shrines of Irish paganism, its magical name still invoked by the bardic phrase "Hey, Derry Down" in the chrous of old ballads. Writings attributed to St. Columba said Derry's grove must be preserved at all costs. The said said as much as he feared death and hell, he "dreaded still more the sound of the axe in the grove of Derry."(5) Sacred kings in Diana's ancient grove at Nemi were expected to fight any rival challenger who broke a branch from the holy tree. This symbolic act occurs so often in medieval romances that it can only be assumed the custom continued through the Middle Ages. The Vulgate epic of Lancelot said Parsifal challenged a rival knight in the same manner as the heroes of Meni: he "found a tree in the grove undefended, and broke a branch from it."(6) Evidence is not lacking to show that breaking a branch from the sacred tree was equivalent to a threat of cstration of the god, or the incumbent sacred king who embodied the god.(7) Notes: (1) Piggot, 72. (2) Strong, 192. (3) Joyce 1, 359-60. (4) Graves, G.M., 1, 89. (5) Spence, 42. (6) Cambpell, C.M., 555. (7) Frazer, G.B, 815 et seq.

Chess News Update

Hola! Here's the link to the latest Chess Femme News, updated today! Goddesschess' Random Round-Up has been updated - this week the theme is archeoastronomy - a fascinating mini-collection of information from around the WWW.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Mythis and Secrets:" Voodoo god similar to the Trickster or Hermes of classical myth. Though an ithyphallic god of lust, Legba was also androgynous. In ceremonial dances his part was taken by a girl wearing an erect wooden hallus. He was considred an ebodiment of the Word or logos of the goddess Fa, "Fate."(1) Notes: (1) Hays, 341.

Okay - Poop in the News

I don't know if this is an April Fools joke or not - the article is dated April 2nd. It's certainly fascinating. Who knew? Studying fossilized poop for a living! No photos - gee wonder why??? Wednesday, April 2, 2008 - Page updated at 12:15 PM Fossilized feces found in Oregon suggest earliest human presence in North America By Sandi Doughton Seattle Times science reporter Hold the potty humor, please, but archaeologists digging in a dusty cave in Oregon have unearthed fossilized feces that appear to be oldest biological evidence of humans in North America. The ancient poop dates back 14,300 years. If the results hold up, that means the continent was populated more than 1,000 years before the so-called Clovis culture, long believed to be the first Americans. "This adds to a growing body of evidence that the human presence in the Americas predates Clovis," said Michael Waters, an anthropologist at Texas A&M University who was not involved in the project. DNA analysis of the dried excrement shows the people who lived in the caves were closely related to modern Native Americans. Their genetic roots reach across the Bering Strait to Siberia and eastern Asia. "These are probably the ancestors of some of the Native Americans living in America now," said Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for Ancient Genetics at the University of Copenhagen. He co-authored the report that appears in today's online Science Express. The age of the finding also calls into question the theory that people who crossed the Bering Land Bridge to Alaska migrated south through ice-free corridors as glaciers began to break up. Geological evidence suggests the corridors weren't open 14,300 years ago, though the glaciers had pulled back from the coasts. "People probably came either by boat or maybe even walking along the West Coast," Willerslev said. Before the Oregon discovery, the oldest human remains in North America were two sets of bones about 13,000 years old from California and Nevada. Kennewick Man, the skeleton found on the banks of the Columbia River in Eastern Washington, dates to 9,400 years ago. Willerslev acknowledged that working with feces lacks the cache of studies on skulls or spear-tips. He and his collaborators say their subject matter drew jokesters like flies are drawn to ... well, you know. "I've heard it all," said Dennis Jenkins, the University of Oregon archaeologist who led the excavations. "My colleagues call me Dr. Poop." But coprolites, as fossil dung is called in polite scientific society, can be a trove of information on diet and genetics. Jenkins and his students uncovered hundreds of coprolites in their six years of work at Paisley Caves, about 220 miles southeast of Portland as the crow flies. Rest of article.

The Latest Chess Femme News

Hola darlings! Here's the latest Chess Femme News (April 2, 2008).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oldest Known Gold Necklace in Americas Found

Necklace is 'oldest in Americas'
By Helen Briggs Science reporter, BBC News

A necklace found near Lake Titicaca in southern Peru is the oldest known gold object made in the Americas, archaeologists say.

Radiocarbon dating puts its origin at about 4,000 years ago, when hunter-gatherers occupied the area.

The researchers say it appears to have been fashioned from gold nuggets.

The discovery suggests that the use of gold jewellery to signify status began before the appearance of more complex societies in the Andes, they report.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), they say the artefact is the earliest worked gold found not only in the Andes, but the Americas as well.

Study leader Dr Mark Aldenderfer of the department of anthropology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, said it demonstrated an emerging social role for gold beyond simple decoration.

He told BBC News: "The gold reflects a universal tendency for human beings to strive for prestige and status.

"The gold reflects that process in people living in a simple society which is in the process of becoming more complex."

Status symbol
The necklace was found alongside the jawbone of an adult skull in a burial pit next to primitive pithouses at Jiskairumoko, a hamlet that was settled from 3,300 to 1,500 BC.

The researchers believe it had been worn by an adult, probably an elderly woman.

Marks on the necklace suggest that gold nuggets had been flattened with a stone hammer and then carefully bent or hammered around a hard cylindrical object to create a tubular shape.

The gold would have signalled the prestige of its wearer, "not at all different to today," said Dr Aldenderfer.

"This reflects a lot more than just a lovely object," he added. "This is a major piece of how people lived their lives and how they competed for status in the past."

Here is coverage from Archaeology News -
Oldest-known American gold necklace found in Peru
Tuesday, 01 Apr 2008 10:44

Archaeologists believe a nine-bead necklace recently found near Lake Titicaca in Peru is the oldest-known gold artefact in the Americas.

The necklace was found by the jawbone of an adult skull in a burial pit next to a primitive dwelling at Jiskairumoko.

Scientists believe this small hamlet was settled from 3300 to 1500BC

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the US researchers say radiocarbon dating of nearby material places the necklace's origin at about 2100 BC.

The necklace's gold beads are thick and cylindrical in shape with different lengths.

One of the beads had been perforated and a small greenstone bead was found in the soil.

Archaeologists are unsure how the necklace was made as no obvious tools to create the beads were found at the site. [Why would they even assume it had been made at the site??? It could have been - and probably was - made elsewhere and traded for, or gotten as booty during a war - or came to the person as part of a marital settlement. There are lots of different possibilities about how the necklace could have got where it ended up.]

But they say as each of the beads has distinctive hammer marks it is likely the raw native gold was hammered first and then bent and/or hammered around a hard cylindrical object to create the tubular shape.

The necklace's discovery at a settlement of seasonal hunter-gatherers shows that the use of gold jewellery to distinguish wealthy and important people began before the appearance of more complex societies in the Andes, the researchers argue.

"This discovery lends support to the hypothesis that the earliest metalworking in the Andes was experimentation with native gold," they conclude.

"The presence of gold in a society of low-level food producers undergoing social and economic transformations coincident with the onset of sedentary life is an indicator of possible early social inequality and aggrandising behaviour.

"[It] further shows that hereditary elites and a societal capacity to create significant agricultural surpluses are not requisite for the emergence of metalworking traditions."
Was the jawbone that of a woman? How do they know the wearer of the necklace was a woman? How do they know that their assumption that the "gold would have signalled the prestige of its wearer" is correct? They haven't said anything about where the gold came from or what it might have meant to the person wearing the necklace. In the absence of compelling evidence otherwise, they are just assuming based on our greedy western avarice for gold (which, after all, is pretty but cannot be eaten or planted, so it's not much good after all, is it).

There is also nothing to support the purported age of the artifact. Just because the necklace was found in a layer dating to 4000 years ago doesn't mean the artifact is that age; it could be older, for one thing. It might have been made hundreds of years before, or even thousands of years before the layer where it was buried. But can that ever be determined? It is also possible that the layers might have been disturbed where the necklace and burial were found and the necklace could be much younger than where it ended up being buried. The restored artifact is beautiful, though!

Evidence Shows Whaling is 3000 Years Old

Fascinating. 3,000-year-old ivory carving depicts whaling scene From ANI London, April 1: Archaeologists working in the Russian Arctic have unearthed a remarkably detailed 3,000-year-old ivory carving that depicts groups of hunters engaged in whaling, which pushes back direct evidence for whaling by about 1,000 years. According to a report in Nature News, the ancient picture implies that northern hunters may have been killing whales 3,000 years ago and commemorating their bravery with pictures carved in ivory. Among the picture which depicts hunters sticking harpoons into whales, the site also yielded heavy stone blades that had been broken as if by some mighty impact, and remains from a number of dead whales. "All of this adds up to the probability that the site, called Un'en'en, holds the earliest straightforward evidence of the practice of whaling," said Daniel Odess, an archaeologist at the University of Alaska's Museum of the North in Fairbanks, Alaska. "It pushes back direct evidence for whaling by about 1,000 years," he added. Researchers have long wondered when the practice of whaling got started. Whaling requires a community to work together to build boats, hunt and then share out the resources from the dead animal. But pinning down the origins of whaling has proven to be remarkably difficult. There are some dramatic rock carvings in southeastern Korea that show bands of hunters going after whales. But these are nearly impossible to pin down with an exact date, according to Odess. In contrast, the newfound ivory carving was pegged as being 3,000 years old by nearly a dozen radiocarbon dates on the soil in which it was embedded. The 50-centimetre-long ivory carving shows hunters in umiaqs, the traditional Eskimo boats, along with whales and harpoons. "There's no question as to what these guys are up to," said Owen Mason, an Arctic archaeologist at GeoArch Alaska in Anchorage. It's showing the whole system is there. It's showing us social complexity," he added. Copyright Asian News International

Queen Tiye Update

A follow-up to my post from March 23, 2008.

From National Geographic News. Here's a photo of the giant statue of Queen Tiye excavated at Amenhotep III's mortuary temple. This is a different statue that the one I thought they might have been talking about (which was old news). Also published is that this Tiye statue was attached to the broken-off leg of a much larger colossus—a 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) likeness of Amenhotep III seated at his throne.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...