Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Closer Look At St. George

Hola Darlings!

This house thing is driving me nuts.  I have no idea what I'm going to do, but I will be doing something...

Meanwhile, back at the Goddesschess Ranch.  After posting that fascinating article last night on Orthodox Christian Palestinians and their reverence for St. George, I turned to Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" and checked to see if there was an entry for St. George.  There was.  But I was too weary to type it all in last night.

So, here it is, but first, I would like you to read yesterday's post on the Christian Palestinians and St. George, because you will find many points of similar references in Walker's take on the subject of St. George. I have liberally sprinkled in my own "Notes"  and commentary and also added highlights,

George, Saint

Fictitious patron saint of England.  St. George's Day was known to the Romans as the Feast of Pales, a fertility festival [Note: Pales, a blatant phallic symbol.  Interestingly, the word "pale" is still used in English today.  It is a rounded stake or pole made of wood.]  Medieval custom honored St. George on Easter Monday, the Moon-day following the Sun-day of the Christian hero.  Folklore named the pagan savior Green George, a spirit of spring.(1)  His image was common in old church carvings, a human head surrounded by leaves or looking out of a tree trunk.  Some called him the witches' god, a confused idea of something between a tree and a man," or "the devil in the shape of a trunk of a tree ...with some form of a human face."(2) [Note: Also known as the "Green Man."  The Arabic word for green translated into Englishgreen / a-kh-dh-ar /.  Cf. Village of Khadar that features prominently in the article on St. George and the Palestinian Christians.]

St. George the Dragon-slayer apparently evolved from a mythic meld of Green George with an Arian bishop of Alexandria who opposed St. Athanasius, and put to death an orthodox Master of the Mint named Dracontius, "Dragon." (3) [Note: Ripe for further research.  I've no idea who St. Athanasius or the Master of the Mint Dracontius were!]

St. George's emblem was a vesica piscis, a prime fertility symbol because it represented the Goddess's yoni; but Christian authorities preferred to interpret it as a "shield." [Note: The vesica piscis is a well-known geometric form (basically, an oval formed by the intersection of two circles).  Roman Catholics are familiar with the form as the "fish" of Jesus -- a vesica piscis. Astrologists and magi are familiar, of course, with "Pisces, the Fish" as an astrological symbol.]  Still, George was so shamelessly involved in fertility rites that the church discredited him and began calling him the "imaginary saint."  An old English ballad said "Some say there was no George; some, that there no Dragon was; pray God, there was at least a maid." (4)


(1)  Frazer, G.B., 145-146.
(2)  Knight, D.W.P., 221, 229.
(3)  Baring-Gould, C.M.M.A., 269.
(4)  Brewster, 209-10.

And, for your added viewing pleasure:

Christian symbol for Christ, in Greek ,"Ichthys."
A vesica piscis:

If you don't know what a yoni looks like, you need to find out for yourself, darlings... Well, okay, her[e] is a clue.  I'm really giving away the entire game here, because this ancient stone yoni resembles some ancient board games (or an ancient Egyptian offering table and, in later dynastic tombs, the sacred doors, ahem) with which you all should be familiar by now:

Do you get it yet?

Monday, April 28, 2014

FIDE Women's Grand Prix 2014 Khanty Masiysk

Hola darlings!  My last post for tonight.  This selling the house thing is INSANE!  It has consumed weeks and is yet to consume more weeks, because finally, the buyers have fully committed to purchasing after endless contractors tramping through or around the house (sometimes both); now the buyers have to procure a financing commitment, or the entire deal will once again teeter on the brink.  Meanwhile, I now once again have to pick up the house hunt in a market that has extremely slim pickings for me at the moment.  I should have known.  I should have chased the kids away with garlic and a mirror rather than agree to this!  Geez.

One of my chess favorites, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, did very well this event, digging herself out of a hole in this event, but it was won by GM Hou Yifan.  I continue to be impressed by WGM Olga Girya.  Look at her performance rating. 

I last left you off with the standings after R7.  Here are the final standings:

16GMHou Yifan2618CHN024848,5117,381124842695
24WGMGirya Olga2450RUS7025007,0114,752325002602
312GMKosteniuk Alexandra2527RUS024936,5115,99524932558
410GMLagno Kateryna2543UKR6½24916,0116,26-324912527
55GMMuzychuk Anna2560SLO6½24906,0116,51-524902526
69GMDzagnidze Nana2550GEO124915,5116,37-924912491
71GMStefanova Antoaneta2489BUL024965,5115,37124962496
83GMZhao Xue2552CHN5½24905,0116,38-1424902454
92GMUshenina Anna2501UKR5½24955,0115,57-624952459
1011WGMMuminova Nafisa2321UZB4025114,0112,841725112409
117GMKosintseva Tatiana2496RUS½24963,5115,47-2024962363
128WGMBatchimeg Tuvshintugs2340MGL½25103,5113,11625102377

How sad that while Russia is bullying Ukraine, a sovereign independent nation, chessplayers from Russia and Ukraine, who have known each other and played each other many times at these elite events because they are some of the best female players in the world, had to face each other over the board with such international tensions exploding in the headlines day after day.  Many of them are mothers as well as star chessplayers; these women belong to an elite sorority, so to speak, and share many bonds and similarities.  Too bad that the dream of chess cannot be realized in a world still controlled by silly men, one whom has a penchant for riding around with bare breasts.  Yuch!

Official website -- lots of photographs and round by round reports. 

Palestinian Orthodox Christians and St. George

This is absolutely fascinating!  I've written about St. George here before.  (See, for instance, The Maiden, the Dragon, and St. George, a 2008 post).  But I don't recall reading about a Palestinian connection before. Indeed, I don't recall reading any actual biographical information about St. George prior to reading this article! Most westerners know the fellow as the knight on the white horse who slew the dragon to save the maiden.  Er, yeah, right. 

There are lots of images, photographs and even a recording in the full article, so please visit it at the BBC News Magazine website. 

April 2014 Last updated at 19:14 ET

Why St George is a Palestinian hero

Book Review: "1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed"

Now this sounds to me like a good summer-out-on-the-deck-with-wine kind of read.  Buying it.

Before the Fall April 23, 2014
By Scott McLemee

Brian Cranston’s recitation of “Ozymandias” in last year’s memorable video clip for the final season of Breaking Bad may have elided some of the finer points of Shelley's poem. But it did the job it was meant to do -- evoking the swagger of a grandiose ego, as well as time’s shattering disregard for even the most awe-inspiring claim to fame, whether by an ancient emperor or meth kingpin of the American Southwest.

But time has, in a way, been generous to the figure Shelley calls Ozymandias, who was not a purely fictional character, like Walter White, but rather the pharaoh Ramses II, also called User-maat-re Setep-en-re. (The poet knew of him through a less exact, albeit more euphonious, transcription of the name.) He ruled about one generation before the period that Eric H. Cline, a professor of classics and archeology at George Washington University, recounts in 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Princeton University Press).

Today the average person is reasonably likely to know that Ramses was the name of an Egyptian ruler. But very few people will have the faintest idea that anything of interest happened in 1177 B.C. It wasn't one of the 5,000 “essential names, phrases, dates, and concepts” constituting the “shared knowledge of literate American culture” that E.D Hirsch identified in his best-seller Cultural Literacy (1988), nor did it make it onto the revised edition Hirsch issued in 2002. Just over 3,000 years ago, a series of catastrophic events demolished whole cities, destroying the commercial and diplomatic connections among distinct societies that had linked up to form an emerging world order. It seems like this would come up in conversation from time to time. I suspect it may do so more often in the future.

So what happened in 1177 B.C.? Well, if the account attributed to Ramses III is reliable, that was the date of a final, juggernaut-like offensive by what he called the Sea Peoples. By then, skirmishes between Egypt and the seafaring barbarians had been under way, off and on, for some 30 years. But 1177 was the climactic year when, in the pharaoh’s words, “They laid their hands upon the lands as far as the circuit of the earth, their hearts confident…. ” The six tribes of Sea Peoples came from what Ramses vaguely calls “the islands.” Cline indicates that one group, the Peleset, are "generally accepted” by contemporary scholars "as the Philistines, who are identified in the Bible as coming from Crete.” The origins of the other five remain in question. Their rampage did not literally take the Sea Peoples around “the circuit of the earth,” but it was an ambitious military campaign by any standard.

They attacked cities throughout the Mediterranean, in places now called Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon, among others. About one metropolis Ramses says the Sea Peoples “desolated” the population, Ramses says, “and its land was like that which has never come into being.”

Cline reproduces an inscription that shows the Sea Peoples invading Egypt by boat. You need a magnifying glass to see the details, but the battle scene is astounding even without one. Imagine D-Day depicted exclusively with two-dimensional figures. The images are flat, but they swarm with such density that the effect is claustrophobic. It evokes a sense of terrifying chaos, of mayhem pressing in on all sides, so thick that nobody can push through it. Some interpretations of the battle scene, Cline notes, contend that it shows an Egyptian ambush of the would-be occupiers.

Given that the Egyptians ultimately prevailed over the Sea Peoples, it seems plausible: they would have had reason to record and celebrate such a maneuver. Ramses himself boasts of leading combat so effectively that the Sea Peoples who weren't killed or enslaved went home wishing they’d never even heard of Egypt: “When they pronounce my name in their land, then they are burned up.”

Other societies were not so fortunate. One of them, the Hittite empire, at its peak covered much of Turkey and Syria. (If the name seems mildly familiar, that may be because the Hittites, like the Philistines, make a number of appearances in the Bible.) One zone under Hittite control was the harbor city of Ugariot, a mercantile center for the entire region. You name it, Ugarit had it, or at least someone there could order it for you: linen garments, alabaster jars, wine, wheat, olive oil, anything in metal…. In exchange for paying tribute, a vassal city like Ugarit enjoyed the protection of the Hittite armed forces. Four hundred years before the Sea Peoples came on the scene, the king of the Hittites could march troops into Mesopotamia, burn down the city, then march them back home — a thousand miles each way — without bothering to occupy the country, “thus,” writes Cline, “effectively conducting the longest drive-by shooting in history.”

But by the early 12th century, Ugarit had fallen. Archeologists have found, in Cline’s words, "that the city was burned, with a destruction level reaching two meters high in some places.” Buried in the ruins are “a number of hoards … [that] contained precious gold and bronze items, including figurines, weapons and tools, some of them inscribed.” They "appear to have been hidden just before the destruction took place,” but "their owners never returned to retrieve them.” Nor was Ugarit ever rebuilt, which raises the distinct possibility that there were no survivors.

Other Hittite populations survived the ordeal but declined in power, wealth, and security. One of the maps in The Year Civilization Collapsed marks the cities around the Mediterranean that were destroyed during the early decades of the 12th century B.C. — about 40 of them in all.

The overview of what happened in 1177 B.C. that we’ve just taken is streamlined and dramatic — and way too much so not to merit skepticism. It’s monocausal. The Sea Peoples storm the beaches, one city after another collapses, but Ramses III survives to tell the tale…. One value of making a serious study of history, as somebody once said, is that you learn how things don’t happen.

Exactly what did becomes a serious challenge to determine, after a millennium or three. Cline’s book is a detailed but accessible synthesis of the findings and hypotheses of researchers concerned with the societies that developed around the Mediterranean throughout the second millennium B.C., with a special focus on the late Bronze Age, which came to an end in the decades just before and after the high drama of 1177. The last 20 years or so have been an especially productive and exciting time in scholarship concerning that region and era, with important work being done in fields such as archeoseismology and Ugaritic studies. A number of landmark conferences have fostered exchanges across micro-specialist boundaries, and 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed offers students and the interested lay antiquarian a sense of the rich picture that is emerging from debates among the ruins.

Cline devotes more than half of the book to surveying the world that was lost in or around the year in his title — with particular emphasis on the exchanges of goods that brought the Egyptian and Hittite empires, and the Mycenean civilization over in what we now call Greece, into closer contact. Whole libraries of official documents show the kings exchanging goods and pleasantries, calling each “brother,” and marrying off their children to one another in the interest of diplomatic comity. When a ship conveying luxury items and correspondence from one sovereign to another pulled in to dock, it would also carry products for sale to people lower on the social scale. It then returned with whatever tokens of good will the second king was sending back to the first — and also, chances are, commercial goods from that king’s empire, for sale back home.

The author refers to this process as “globalization,” which seems a bit misleading given that the circuits of communication and exchange were regional, not worldwide. [Oh come now.  Back then the "known world" was extremely small, encompassing just a small portion of the world we know today.  It was trade, and it was "global" according to the known civilizations of the time.]  In any case, it had effects that can be traced in the layers of scattered archeological digs: commodities and artwork characteristic of one society catch on in another, and by the start of the 12th century a real cosmopolitanism is in effect. At the same time, the economic networks encouraged a market in foodstuffs as well as tin — the major precious resource of the day, something like petroleum became in the 20th century.

But evidence from the digs also shows two other developments during this period: a number of devastating earthquakes and droughts. Some of the cities that collapsed circa 1177 may have been destroyed by natural disaster, or so weakened that they succumbed far more quickly to the marauding Sea Peoples than they would have otherwise. For that matter, it is entirely possible that the Sea Peoples themselves were fleeing from such catastrophes. “In my opinion,” writes Cline, “… none of these individual factors would have been cataclysmic enough on their own to bring down even one of these civilizations, let alone all of them. However, they could have combined to produce a scenario in which the repercussions of each factor were magnified, in what some scholars have called a ‘multiplier effect.’ … The ensuing ‘systems collapse’ could have led to the disintegration of one society after another, in part because of the fragmentation of the global economy and the breakdown of the interconnections upon which each civilization was dependent."

Referring to 1177 B.C. will, at present, only get you blank looks, most of the time. But given how the 21st century is shaping up, it may yet become a common reference point -- and one of more than antiquarian relevance.

Early Coptic Portrait of Jesus?

Story at The Local.es

Spanish team finds hidden 'tomb of Jesus'

Published: 25 Apr 2014 12:05 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Apr 2014 12:05 GMT+02:00
Spanish Egyptologists have discovered what could be one of the oldest images of Jesus Christ, painted on the walls of a mysterious underground structure deep in an ancient Egyptian tomb.
A team of Catalan archaeologists have returned from the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus after uncovering a mystery underground structure in buried tombs which date from the 6th and 7th centuries.  It is reportedly decorated with Coptic images — or paintings by a group who number among the earliest Christians — and may contain one of the earliest-known representations of Jesus Christ.
The head of the expedition, Josep Padró, who has spent over 20 years excavating sites in the area, described the discovery to La Vanguardia newspaper as "exceptional".
It has caused such as stir that even Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has become personally involved. He broke the news himself in a press release which described the contents of the tombs, which are believed to have belonged to a well-known writer and a family of priests.
The Egyptian ministry will take responsibility for developing the archaeological site, which was discovered by a joint team from the Catalan Egyptology Society and the University of Barcelona.
Previous digs in Oxyrynchus have unearthed temples dedicated to Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, but the exact nature of the latest discovery has left the experts baffled but excited.
Padró described the underground stone structure as "incredibly good, but we don't know what it is".

Over 45 tonnes of rock was moved to get at the hidden treasures, in a meticulous operation overseen by an architect and an engineer. Once inside, the archaeologists found "five or six coats of paint on the walls, the last of which was from the Coptic period of the first Christians."

Among the plant motifs and inscriptions was something special -- the "figure of a young man, with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing," according to Padró.

"We could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ," he added.

The figure is under protection while a team begins to translate the inscriptions surrounding it.

Archaeological work in the area is continuing as there has still not been time to excavate another unidentified structure connected to the tombs via a set of very worn steps.

"We don't know what we'll find there," said the Egyptologist.
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