10/31/2014 archive

when the veils grow thin….

This diary was posted on October 29, 2010 by Ria D who passed through the veil too soon. Blessed Be.

when the veils grow thin….

by: RiaD

Fri Oct 29, 2010 at 17:04:50 PM EDT


(all pictures are of carved pumpkins & may be clicked on to see larger)

(a soundtrack while you read…)

Sunday is Hallowe’en, a night for children to dress up & go Trick-or-Treating.

But this holiday has its origins waaaay back, back before the written word, in pagan times.

Samhain: The Thinning Of The Veil

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Samhain is one of the eight festivals of the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Years that is celebrated as the new year with the final harvest of the season. It is considered by most practitioners of the craft to be the most important of the eight Sabats and one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Beginning at sundown on October 31 and continuing through the next day, fires are lit and kept burning to recognize the shortening of days and the coming of winter’s long cold nights.

Many of the traditions practiced in the US have come from Ireland, Scotland and Whales. The carving of gourds and pumpkins used as lanterns, the wearing of costumes and masks, dancing, poetry and songs, as well as some traditional foods and games can be traced back to medieval times and pre-Christian times.

Two Roman festivals became incorporated with Samhain – ‘Feralia’, when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and ‘Pomona’, when the Roman goddess of fruit and trees was honoured. The Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples is thought to derive from the ancient links with the Roman fruit goddess, Pomona, and a Druidical rite associated with water.

It is also the time of the year that we reflect and honor our ancestors and especially those who have departed since last Samhain. According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. The fires and the candles burning in western windows are believed to help guide the spirits of the departed to the Summerlands. Like all Wiccan festivals, Samhain celebrates Nature’s cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios – ‘Seed Fall’.

The Catholic church attempted to replace the Pagan festival with All Saints’ or All Hallows’ day, followed by All Souls’ Day, on November 2nd. The eve became known as: All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en. All Saints’ Day is said to be the day when souls walked the Earth. In early Christian tradition souls were released from purgatory on All Hallow’s Eve for 48 hours.

We decorate our homes with candles, gourds and dried leaves. Meals are traditionally lots of veggies, fruit, nuts and breads served with wine, cider and hearty beer. We make a hearty stew that is served with a whole grained bread and deserts made with apples, carrots and pumpkin. One of the sweet breads that is traditionally served is barmbrack, an old Irish tradition. The bread is baked with various objects and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, “to beat one’s wife with”, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Today, the bread usually contains a ring and a coin.

What ever you believe or not, Samhain has meaning for us all since the Wheel turns for all of us. So light a fire or a candle and dance with us as the Veil Thins.

The Veil Is Getting

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a wisper wispering.

I heard a wisper wispering,

Upon this fine fall day…

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a laugh a’laughing.

I heard a laugh a’laughing,

Upon this fine fall day…

I heard this wisper and I wondered,

I heard this laugh and then I knew.

The time is getting near my friends,

The time that I hold dear my friends,

The veil is getting thin my friends,

And strange things will pass through.

Blessed be.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

William Greider: When Did Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo Go to Medical School?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who played a significant role in the successful war against AIDS/HIV, has explained patiently and repeatedly why rigid quarantines of healthcare workers would actually increase the dangers. “The best way to protect the US is to stop the epidemic in Africa and we need those healthcare workers so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer.” [..]

If political pollsters were more devoted to the public interest than their political clients, they would ask people this question: Whom do you most trust to handle the battle against Ebola-Dr. Fauci, the longtime leader of the national Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or Chris Christie, the author of political vendettas against Jersey mayors who failed to support him? Or do people think Andrew Cuomo knows more than Anthony Fauci about how to organize the global counterattack against this dread disease?

The questions sound ludicrous, but they need to be asked. Once these guys finish with New York and New Jersey, they want to run the country. Let me restate the question in a harsher way people can understand: Who do you think will manage to kill more people with Ebola-Dr. Fauci or Governors Cuomo and Christie, the political twins?

George Zornick: Guess Who’s About to Buy Congress

The midterm elections are less than a week away, and money is pouring into contested states and districts at a furious pace. A new analysis from Public Citizen shows the biggest “dark money” spender is none other than the US Chamber of Commerce, a mega-trade group representing all sorts of corporations-and one that is spending exclusively to defeat Democrats in the general election.

The Chamber is a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization, meaning it doesn’t have to disclose its donors. We know from looking at its board, available membership lists and tax forms from big corporations that much of the Chamber’s money has generally come from titans in the oil, banking and agriculture industries, among others. [..]

Thanks to weak campaign finance laws, however, we will likely never know who exactly is bankrolling this massive presence in the midterm elections. “When large corporations decide they want to get their own candidates into office but they don’t want to be seen doing it, they call the US Chamber,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “These politicians then push for anti-environmental, anti-consumer and anti-health policies and priorities that hurt everyday Americans.”

Amy Goodman: The Republicans’ Profane Attack on the Sacred Right to Vote

There is a database housed in Arkansas with your name in it … that is, if you live in one of the 28 states participating in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. It’s one of the growing components of an aggressive drive across the U.S. by Republicans to stop many Americans from voting.

Early voting has already begun in many states in the 2014 U.S. midterm elections. Control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance, as do many crucial governorships, congressional races and ballot initiatives. One question looming over this election is just how significant will be the impact of the wholesale, organized disenfranchisement of eligible voters.

Ari Berman: New Voting Restrictions Could Swing the 2014 Election

On Monday, October 27, eight activists with Moral Monday Georgia occupied the office of Georgia GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, holding signs that read “Let Us Vote.”

There are 800,000 unregistered African-American, Hispanic and Asian eligible voters in Georgia. This year, the New Georgia Project registered 85,000 of them. After the applications were submitted, Kemp subpoenaed the group’s records and accused them of voter registration fraud. It turned out that only 25 of the forms were fraudulent and the group was required by law to turn them in regardless.

Despite the scant evidence of voter fraud, 40,000 new voter registration applications have yet to be processed in the state, according to the New Georgia Project. Civil rights groups sued Kemp and voter registration boards in five heavily populated urban counties, but on Wednesday a Fulton County judge dismissed the lawsuit. It was the latest court decision restricting voting rights this election year. [..]

Those 40,000 missing voters could very well be the difference in a hotly contested Senate race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn and a close gubernatorial contest between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter.

Michelle Chen: What Happens When People-Rather Than Politicians-Are Given the Chance to Vote for a Higher Minimum Wage?

You can tell how popular the upcoming state minimum-wage ballot initiatives are from the opposition tactics conservatives are deploying. They breathlessly claim raising the minimum wage will not help a significant number of workers, or in a contradictory argument, insist a minimum-wage boost would drive the state’s economy into ruin. Or they might try to erase it from the ballot altogether, as conservatives in Arkansas did in their lawyerly court battle over the signature-collection process to bring up a referendum for a minimum wage of $8.50 per hour. The state Supreme Court just ruled in favor of ballot campaigners, so now Arkansas will be among four Red-leaning states to offer a minimum-wage initiative, alongside Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota (weighing proposals for base wages of $9.75, $9 and $8.50, respectively). Illinois will weigh a non-binding proposal for a $10 minimum wage.

Two cities, Oakland and San Francisco will vote to hike the minimum wage to $12.25 and $15, respectively, extending a growing movement for wage reforms at the city level, inspired by Seattle’s trailblazing $15 minimum-wage law.

Pundits see these initiatives as a vote-boosting strategy for Democrats in key races. But advocates focused on economic justice simply see direct democracy as a straightforward way to deal with an issue politicians often ignore.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Justice for Edward Snowden

It is time for President Obama to offer clemency to Edward Snowden, the courageous U.S. citizen who revealed the Orwellian reach of the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance of Americans. His actions may have broken the law, but his act, as the New York Times editorialized, did the nation “a great service [..]

That requires hard choices. When a government is trampling the rights of the people in secrecy, patriots have a duty to speak out. Snowden notes that there is no “oath of secrecy” for people who work for the government. Contract employees like Snowden sign a form, a civil agreement, agreeing not to release classified information, opening themselves to civil or criminal prosecution if they do. “But you are also asked to take an oath, and that’s the oath of service. The oath of service is not to secrecy, but to the Constitution – to protect it against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That’s the oath that I kept.”

On This Day In History October 31

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 31 is the 304th day of the year (305th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 61 days remaining until the end of the year.

This day is internationally known as Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, Reformation Day, and Day of the Dead for the Philippines

On this day in 1926, Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital.

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, the son of a rabbi. At a young age, he immigrated with his family to Appleton, Wisconsin, and soon demonstrated a natural acrobatic ability and an extraordinary skill at picking locks.

He went on his first international tour in 1900 and performed all over Europe to great acclaim. In executing his escapes, he relied on strength, dexterity, and concentration-not trickery-and was a great showman.

In 1908, Houdini began performing more dangerous and dramatic escapes. In a favorite act, he was bound and then locked in an ironbound chest that was dropped into a water tank or thrown off a boat. In another, he was heavily bound and then suspended upside down in a glass-walled water tank. Other acts featured Houdini being hung from a skyscraper in a straitjacket, or bound and buried-without a coffin-under six feet of dirt.

In his later years, Houdini campaigned against mediums, mind readers, fakirs, and others who claimed supernatural talents but depended on tricks. At the same time, he was deeply interested in spiritualism and made a pact with his wife and friends that the first to die was to try and communicate with the world of reality from the spirit world.

Eyewitnesses to an incident in Montreal gave rise to speculation that Houdini’s death was caused by a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead, who delivered multiple blows to Houdini’s abdomen to test Houdini’s claim that he was able to take any blow to the body above the waist without injury.

The eyewitnesses, students named Jacques Price and Sam Smilovitz (sometimes called Jack Price and Sam Smiley), proferred accounts of the incident that generally corroborated one another. The following is Price’s description of events:

   Houdini was reclining on his couch after his performance, having an art student sketch him. When Whitehead came in and asked if it was true that Houdini could take any blow to the stomach, Houdini replied groggily in the affirmative. In this instance, he was hit three times before Houdini could tighten up his stomach muscles to avoid serious injury. Whitehead reportedly continued hitting Houdini several more times and Houdini acted as though he were in some pain.

Houdini reportedly stated that if he had time to prepare himself properly he would have been in a better position to take the blows. He had apparently been suffering from appendicitis for several days prior and yet refused medical treatment. His appendix would likely have burst on its own without the trauma. Although in serious pain, Houdini continued to travel without seeking medical attention.

When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theater in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104 F (40 C). Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit’s Grace Hospital.

Houdini died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31, aged 52.

After taking statements from Price and Smilovitz, Houdini’s insurance company concluded that the death was due to the dressing-room incident and paid double indemnity.

Houdini’s funeral was held on November 4, 1926 in New York, with more than 2,000 mourners in attendance. He was interred in the Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York, with the crest of the Society of American Magicians inscribed on his gravesite. To this day the Society holds a broken wand ceremony at the grave site in November. Houdini’s widow, Bess, died on February 11, 1943, aged 67, in Needles, California. She had expressed a wish to be buried next to him but instead was interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester, New York, as her Catholic family refused to allow her to be buried in a Jewish cemetery out of concern for her soul.

The Breakfast Club (Organics)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgAh, yes.  Now that the tumult and hubbub are done and we can wait for April 13th to have the Mets disappoint us again, and the leaves brown and sere crunch beneath the feet of costumed children while the long night is lit by sacrificial gourds, it is time to resume my musical whimseys.

This morning we shall start with one of the oldest instruments in common use, the Organ.

If you watch that purveyor of speculative fiction and conspiracy theories laughably called The History Channel I’m sure you’ve been subjected to many, many hours of Ancient Discoveries where the slack jawed narrators marvel at the fact that our ancestors were more than feral brutes wearing animal skins, stabbing and slashing at each other with crudely made implements with none of the sophistication and subtlety of a Maxim or Thermonuclear warhead.

Hah, the reason they didn’t fix up the Iowa after the turret explosion is we no longer have the tools or skills to do it and that was only WW II.  We can’t build Space Shuttles or iPods anymore either.  We have facebook and Twitter instead and I think it’s a fair trade, even 140 characters seems tl;dr.

So anyway it should come as no surprise the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, etc., ect. were capable of stunning feats of engineering and craftsmanship based on a deep understanding of Math, Physics, and Chemistry.  Curse you Dark Ages.

Such an item is the Organ.  It basically operates according to the principles invented (as far as we know) by Ctesibius of Alexandria for the hydraulis between 285 – 222 BCE (about 2200 years ago).  He was an expert in pneumatics, the science of compressed air, and water had little to do with the mechanism except to provide a motive force to the bellows.  He did make other advances in hydraulics like the the world’s most accurate clock (a water clock) and is said by most to have been the first head of the Museum of Alexandria.

He is also reputed to have been notoriously poor.  So much for genius.

Now believe it or not music was just as important to non-contemporary culture as it is to ours, maybe more.  ‘Oral’ history in non-literate societies (those without a written language) is frequently conveyed by song where the beat and melody remind the performer of the correct wording and sequence of events in the story.  The Iliad and the Odyssey are nothing more than long songs.  We don’t have a record of most of these because musical notation, the written language of music, was not yet invented and ideas about the difference between what is called music and what is called noise change quite frequently (those damn kids).

There is some evidence that even the earliest western instruments used either a chromatic or diatonic scale so most can produce sounds we would recognize as music even if they weren’t actually used that way and the same would be true of the Organs of Ctesibius.  The problem is that they used big old pipes to create the resonant tones and are expensive and not so easily moved.  Thus they were usually installed in Houses of Worship, be they Pagan Temples or Christian Cathedrals and their purpose was to establish the proper awe and respect a major religion deserved.

And so things stood until 1517 (ironically, this very day the 95 theses were posted by Martin Luther) and the Protestant Reformation when the sects that split away from the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox one for that matter) were basically poor and despised (on theological principles anyway) the ritual and ceremony.  If they captured an Organ in battle they were as likely to melt down the pipes for musket balls (most of them were made of lead, or even more valuable brass and bronze which could be re-cast as cannons) as to use it to make music.

In time the Protestants developed their own musical tradition and Organs evolved more secular purposes especially the relatively portable ones that used Reeds or electronics to develop their tones.

However, since a large number of early “Art” composers were employed by the Catholic Church which maintained its tradition of musical accompaniment there is a substantial body of work intended for the Organ of which arguably the most famous is Toccata and Fugue in D Minor attributed (wasn’t published until 1833 and was promoted by Mendelssohn) to Bach.

This particular recording (Columbia Masterworks ML 5032) is E. Power Biggs, one of the most noted organists of the 20th Century, playing the piece on 14 different Organs in Europe.

  1. Stockholm, Sweden
  2. Weingarten, Germany
  3. Lubeck, Germany
  4. Luneburg, Germany
  5. Hamburg, Germany
  6. Steinkirchen, Germany
  7. Neuenfelde, Germany
  8. Heidelberg, Germany
  9. Sor, Denmark
  10. Gouda, Holland
  11. Amsterdam, Holland
  12. Amstelveen, Holland
  13. Westminster Abbey, England
  14. Royal Festival Hall, England

Since Organs were, in the tradition of Ctesibius and the ancient engineers, hand crafted individually, I’d like you to pay attention to the very different acoustics of each individual instrument as the same piece is played by the same artist.

But you’ll be forgiven if you just want it as background music while you answer the door.

Happy Halloween.

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