MOTHERING SUNDAY

ostara

 

       March 26th is the fourth Sunday of Lent and traditionally is the day when children give presents, flowers, and homemade cards to their mothers. It has no connection with the Hallmarkian Americanized jamboree of that name where Mother’s Day is now the second Sunday in May and Internationally recognised May Day,has been moved to September.

In common with most of my readers I do not need a special day to remember mine, because later in the month on March 25th is her birthday. It only takes a word overheard or someone’s gesture, as I go about my daily duties, to remind me of both my departed parents.

       Most Sundays in the year churchgoers in England worshipped at their nearest parish or “daughter church”. Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or “mother” church once a year. So in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their “mother” church, or the main church or Cathedral of the area. It was the return to the “Mother” church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family.

       It was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old. As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.

       With such a richness of strong and vital images of motherhood, we have much to celebrate on Mother’s Day. However it isn’t especially our birth mothers we are celebrating but more spiritually we thank Mother Nature, who sustains us in life and to whom we all eventually return.

       Thanksgiving to Mother has ties to ancient pagan rituals. Prehistoric artefact’s, bare proof of this. The earliest recorded festival in history honoured the Egyptian goddess Nut. She was goddess of the sky and wife of Re, the god of the sun and creator of all, and was known for her incredible beauty and kindness. Her generous and loving nature was apparently extensive, leading her into affairs with Geb, the god of the earth, and Thoth, the god of divine words. Re found out and, understandably, was furious with her, issuing a curse that his pregnant wife would not give birth to the child within her in any month of any year! Filled with sorrow that she would never be a mother, Nut turned to Thoth for comfort. Like most males, he couldn’t stand to see a woman cry and promised to find a solution. Using his divine powers of persuasion, Thoth persuaded the Moon into gambling with him. If he won he would get just a little bit of the Moon’s light. The games went on for months, and at the end Thoth had won enough light to create five complete days. Nut didn’t waste a precious moment of those five days. She gave birth to a different child on each day. From that day forward she was called “Mother of the Gods”. Her firstborn, Osiris, was the son of Re and went on to become the god of all the earth. The Great Goddess Isis, daughter of Thoth, was born on the third day. Later as husband and wife they ruled together, creating the first great nation of Western civilization during the “Golden Age of Egypt”

       Another Mother figure, Eostre a Saxon deity, marked not only the passage of time but also symbolised new life and fertility. We remember her at the timing of the vernal equinox, also known as Ostara. Legend has it that the goddess was saved by a bird whose wings had become frozen by the cold of winter. This process turned the bird into a hare that could also lay eggs. As usual the church borrowed these pagan symbols for Easter, so the egg and bunny became additional symbols for fertility and the resurrection of life.

OF BULLS AND RABBITS

On a less serious note I leave these memories which most children have of their Mother.

  1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.

‘If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.’

  1. My mother taught me RELIGION.

‘You better pray that this will come out of the carpet.’

  1. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL

‘If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of

next week!’

  1. My mother taught me LOGIC.

’Because I said so, that’s why.’

  1. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.

‘If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going

to the store with me.’

  1. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.

‘Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.’

  1. My mother taught me IRONY.

‘Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.’

  1. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.

‘Shut your mouth and eat your dinner.’

  1. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.

‘Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck?’

  1. My mother taught me about STAMINA

‘You’ll sit there until all those vegetables are eaten up.’

  1. My mother taught me about WEATHER…

‘This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.’

  1. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY

‘If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!’

  1. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.

’I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.’

  1. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION.

‘Stop acting like your father!’

  1. My mother taught me about ENVY.

‘There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t

have wonderful parents like you do….’

  1. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.

‘Just wait until we get home.

  1. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.

’You are going to get it when you get home!’

  1. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.

’If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck

that way.’

  1. My mother taught me E.S.P.

‘put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?’

  1. My mother taught me HUMOUR.

‘When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me….’

  1. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.

‘If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.’

  1. My mother taught me GENETICS.

‘You’re just like your father.’

  1. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.

‘Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?’

  1. My mother taught me WISDOM.

‘When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.’

  1. And my favourite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE

‘One day you’ll have children, and I hope they turn out just like you’

*_*_*_*_*_*

       In the church calendar this coming Sunday, commemorates the banquet given by Joseph to his brethren and forms the first lesson of the day. The story of the feeding of the five thousand, forms the gospel for the day. For this reason, Simnel Cakes, rich fruit cakes often covered with marzipan, were eaten on Mothering Sunday, a tradition that persists today.

I’ll to thee a Simnell bring

‘Gainst thou go’st a mothering,

So that, when she blesseth thee,

Half that blessing thou’lt give to me.

[Robert Herrick 1648]

This posting, one week in advance will give my reader’s time to prepare this Receipe for baking a Simnel Cake:

INGREDIENTS:

CAKE:

Softened Butter – 225g (8oz);

Castor sugar – 225g (8oz);

Eggs 4;

Self- Raising flour – 225g (8oz);

Sultanas. – 225g (8oz);

Currants. – 110g (4oz);

Glacé Cherries – 110g (4oz), quartered;

Chopped candied peel – 50g (2oz);

Zest of 2 lemons;

Mixed spice – 2 teaspoon

FILLING AND TOPPING:

Almond paste – 450g (1lb);

Apricot jam – 2 Tablespoons;

1 beaten egg (for glaze).

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 °C / 300 °F
  2. Butter and line the base and sides of a 20 cm (8 inch) deep round cake tin with buttered greaseproof paper. Place all the cake ingredients bowl and beat well. Place half the mixture in the prepared tin.
  3. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.
  4. Bake for about 2½ hours until well risen and firm. (If the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, cover it with greaseproof paper.) Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When the cake has cooled, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.
  6. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Roll the remaining almond paste into 11 balls.
  7. Brush the almond paste with beaten egg and arrange the balls around the outside. Brush the tops of the balls with egg as well. Place the cake under a hot grill to turn the almond paste golden.
  8. Decorate with crystallised flowers if liked.

       Finally,as a genealogist, I dedicate this quotation to all Mothers.

“Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.” ~Aristotle

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2015 – THE YEAR OF THE GOAT

 2015.goat

The goat (sheep or ram) is among the animals that people like most. It is gentle and calm. Since ancient times, people have learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and skin to keep warm. As it is white, people describe delicate and precious white jade to be ‘suet jade’. Thus it is close to the meaning of good things. 2015 is furthermore a year [according to Chinese Five Element (Earthly Branch) Theory] of the “Wood Goat”, which occurs every 60 years.

The Spring Festival has a history of more than 4,000 years. It is said that it originated from a belief in deities that had to be sacrificed to every year. When the solar terms changed, dictating farming activities, especially at the end of a year, people would sacrifice to the deities and pray for a good harvest.

Personality: Strengths

Characteristics of people born in the year of Sheep are tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty, faith in a certain religion and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously and circumspectly. In their daily life, they try to be economical. Women born in this year are willing to take good care of others, but they should avoid pessimism and hesitation. They are kind in heart and commonly have symmetrical figures and features.

Personality: Weaknesses

Sheep year people are often worriers who are shy, pessimistic, moody, indecisive, over-sensitive, weak-willed and puzzled about life. They are easily inclined to be deeply religious. They are timid in nature and like to be looked after by others. They like flattery, compliment and suggestions from friends. They do not dare to express their love openly and usually have interests in strange theories.

Horoscope and Numerology Elements

Earthly Branch of Birth Year: wei  Wu Xing (The Five Elements): tu (earth)

Yin Yang: yin

Auspicious Directions: east, southeast, south

Lucky Colours: green, red, purple; Avoid: golden, coffee

Lucky Numbers: 3, 9, and 4; Avoid: 7, 6, And 8

Lucky Flowers: Carnation, Primrose, Pansy.

Zodiac Sign Compatibility – Best match: rabbit, horse, pig. Avoid: ox, dog

YEARS OF THE GOAT / RAM /SHEEP

17/02/1931-05/02/1932: 05/02/1943-24/01/1944

24/01/1955-11/02/1956: 09/02/1967-29/02/1968: 28/01/1979-15/02/1980

15/02/1991-03/02/1992: 01/02/2003-21/01/2004: 19/02/2015-07/02/2016

Celebrities Born in the Year of the Goat / Ram / sheep

Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty 618 – 907), Cao Cao (King of Wei in China’s Three Kingdoms Period 220 – 280), Yue Fei (a patriotic general in China’s South Song Dynasty 1127 – 1279), and the infamous Empress Dowager Cixi. (1835 – 1908).  Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Thomas Alva Edison, Rudolph Valentino, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis.

Fortune Foretelling in 2015

It is their order to encounter the Year of Birth (Benming Nian), a year to offend “Taisui’, the god in charge of people’s fortune. In 2015, their fortune in all aspects will fluctuate. In career, there won’t be a promotion or salary rise. Only if they stick with their current job and work hard, will they smoothly get through the year. In wealth, they should be very cautious about any investment, or there will be a loss. In relationships, they are suggested to be tolerant of their family, friends and colleagues to avoid any conflict.

Career: They may encounter some road blocks in career in 2015, especially in March, June, September and December. In these months, their emotions will be fluctuant, so it is likely that they will argue with colleagues. In comparison, their fortune in career gets better in February, July and August. As long as they persist in working hard, they will gain much in the coming year. At any rate, no promotion will fall upon them in 2015.

Wealth: The financial fortune of sheep people will be just so-so. They should reduce daily expenses, or it will be hard to make ends meet. It is not a good idea to lend money to others. The investment in stocks, bonds and real estate should be stopped. People who are living in a rental house should keep doing this. Don’t buy a new house or move. Setting a fish tank in the west or north of the house may increase their fortune in wealth.

Relationships: Sheep people can easily lose their temper in 2015. As a result, couples and lovers may argue. They should communicate with each other to solve the problem to avoid breaking up. Also this is not a good year to get married. Single males may get involved in a relationship, and females will still expect to get back their former love.

Health: They should keep away from sharp tools and weapons such as knifes, swords, saws and scissors, because they may easily get injured this year. In daily life, they should play sports and avoid eating too much greasy food. Sheep born in 1943 and 1979 need to be careful in driving and doing sports, especially in June and December.

Study: Sheep students will hardly be able to concentrate on study this year. They should adjust their emotions to focus on study. Some students’ study may be affected by family problems, so parents should pay attention to their behaviour and try to be attentive to their children. Moreover, children may get infected some illness, which will influence their study.

2015 happy sheep

新年快乐!

BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW THAN…..?

Part 2

“To be a Witch is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver, and a protector of all things.”

“Contrary to what those who choose to persecute or lie about us wish to believe, Wicca is a very peaceful, harmonious and balanced way of thinking and life which promotes oneness with the divine and all which exists.

Wicca is a deep appreciation and awe in watching the sunrise or sunset, the forest in the light of a glowing moon, a meadow enchanted by the first light of day.   It is the morning dew on the petals of a beautiful flower, the gentle caress of a warm summer breeze upon your skin, or the warmth of the summer sun on your face.   Wicca is the fall of colourful autumn leaves, and the softness of winter snow.   It is light, and shadow and all that lies in between.  It is the song of the birds and other creatures of the wild.   It is being in the presence of Mother Earth and being humbled in reverence.   When we are in the temple of the Lord and Lady, we are not prone to the arrogance of human technology as they touch our souls.   To be a Witch is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver, and a protector of all things.   If this path is yours, may you walk it with honour, light and integrity.

Wicca is a belief system and way of life based upon the reconstruction of pre-Christian traditions in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  It was brought to our islands by the Celts of nearby Gaul and before then.. Who knows?  While much of the information of how our ancestors lived, worshiped and believed has been lost due to the efforts of the medieval church to wipe our existence from history, we try to reconstruct those beliefs to the best of our ability with the information that is available.

Thanks to archaeological discoveries, we now have basis to believe that the origins of our belief system can be traced even further back to the Paleolithic peoples who worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility Goddess.   With the discovery of cave paintings, many in the Dordogne area of France, for example, are estimated to be around 30,000 years old, depicting a man with the head of a stag, and a pregnant woman standing in a circle with eleven other people, it can reasonably be assumed that Witchcraft is one of the oldest belief systems known in the world today.   These archetypes are clearly recognized by Wiccan as our view of the Goddess and God aspect of the supreme creative force and predate Christianity by roughly 28,000 years making it a mere toddler in the spectrum of time as we know it.

Witchcraft in ancient history was known as “The Craft of the Wise” because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines, gave council and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders.   They understood that mankind is not superior to nature, the earth and its creatures but instead we are simply one of the many parts, both seen and unseen that combine to make the whole.

For the past several hundred years, the image of the Witch has been mistakenly associated with evil, heathenism, and unrighteousness.   In my humble opinion, these misconceptions have their origin in a couple of different places. To begin, the medieval church of the 15th through to the 18th centuries created these myths to convert the followers of the old nature based religions to the catholic churches way of thinking.   By making the Witch into a diabolical character and turning the old religious deities into devils and demons, the missionaries were able to attach fear to these beliefs which aided in the conversion process.    Secondly, as medical science began to surface, the men who were engaged in these initial studies had a very poor understanding of female physiology, especially in the area of women’s monthly cycles.   The unknowns in this area played very well with the early churches agenda lending credence to the Witch Hunters claims and authority.   The fledgling medical professions also stood to benefit greatly from this because it took the power of the women healers away giving it to the male physicians transferring the respect and power to them.  Unfortunately these misinformed fears and superstitions have carried forward through the centuries and remain to this day.   This is why many who follow these nature oriented beliefs have adopted the name of Wicca over its true name of Witchcraft to escape the persecution, harassment and misinformation associated with the name of Witchcraft not to mention the bad publicity the press and Hollywood has given witches simply to generate a profit.

We do not sacrifice animals or humans because that would violate our basic tenant of “Harm None.”   Anyone who does and claims to be a Wiccan or a Witch is lying. Pagans see the divine not in one God but in all of nature and in simple, personalised rituals, they worship its mysteries. Being a pagan in 21st century Britain is nothing to do with black cats and magic. Not all pagans are practising wiccans, and those who want to put a hex on an enemy always bear in mind the Law of Return. Namely, anything you put out you get back threefold.

In many ways the pagan path is a natural progression for anyone who cares about ecological issues and is disaffected with conventional religions. It’s gentle spirituality  keeps you in tune with the rhythms of the landscape, and encourages individual responsibility.  As Chief Seattle said; “We do not own the earth, we are part of it.”   These wise people understood that what we take or use, we must return in kind to maintain balance and equilibrium. Clearly, modern man with all his applied learning and technology has forgotten this.   Subsequently, we currently face ecological disaster and eventual extinction because of our hunger for power and a few pieces of gold.”

LAMMAS

Traditional date 1st August – Old Lammas 6th August

In Britain witches refer to this astrological date 6th August, as Old Lammas. Which is considered a power point of the Zodiac, symbolised by the Lion.

Lughnasadh marks the beginning of the (grain) harvest season. At this time we give thanks to the Earth for its bounty. Festivities and Rituals center on the assurance of a bountiful harvest and to celebrate the harvest cycle.

Witches though at this time give thanks to the Goddess, bake bread, and place ears of corn, grain, corn dollies, bread on our altars. This is a time also when the Sun God is beginning to lose his virility and as the days start to get shorter the Sun God begins to age and decline.

This is a time of farewells, justice spells, spells for abundance are appropriate now, to dismiss regrets and prepare for Winter. It is deemed a good time for grounding meditations and prosperity magick.

Lughnasadh (Loo-nus-uh) named in honour of the Celtic god Lugh (Sun-God) of Celtic mythology. The name Lugh means ‘shining’ or ‘light’. Lugh is a Celtic fire and light god.

Lugh’s foster mother was from an older race known as the ‘Fir Bolg’. Who were conquered by the Tuatha De Danann of Ireland. According to legend Lugh decreed that a commemorative feast be held at the beginning of the harvest season each year in honour of his foster mother, Tailtiu. Tailtui being a royal lady of the Fir Bolg who were defeated by the Tuatha De Danann. Tailtui was obliged by the Tuatha De Danann to make clear a vast forest so that grain could be planted for them. As a result of this exhausting work she died, and legend says that she was buried under a large mound which was named after her…’The Hill of Tailtui’. The hill of Tailtui was where the first Lughnasadh was held in Ireland. Where many folk gathered to feast, take part in games and contests of skill.

Some ideas to celebrate this time are to perform ritual. Share your harvest with others, bake bread, pick fruits from your garden if you have one and share some of your harvest with your neighbours. Visiting places such as orchards, lakes and wells at this time is also traditional.

Harvested from “Sourcewitch” to share with you. Sadly her site disappeared when spaces was taken from us and is now extinct.

LUPERCALIA – THE FIRST EURO LOTTERY

I heard on the news that another Briton had won teh twice weekly Euro Lottery – £41 Million or was it € ‘s ? European Lotteries go back into the very mists of our history…and in February was the largest one of all !!!

Lupercalia is uniquely Roman. Each year on February 15, the Luperci priests gathered on Palantine Hill at the cave of Lupercal. Vestal virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first ears of last year’s grain harvest to the fig tree. Youths donned loincloths made from the skin of the goat and led groups of priests around the pomarium, the sacred boundary of the ancient city. The occasion was happy and festive. As they ran about the city, the young men lightly struck women along the way with strips of the goat hide. It is from these implements of purification, or februa, that the month of February gets its name. This act supposedly provided purification from curses, bad luck, and infertility. Roman armies took the Lupercalia customs with them as they invaded France and England. One of these was a lottery where the names of available maidens were placed in a box and drawn out by the young men. Each man accepted the girl whose name he drew as his love – for the duration of the festival, or sometimes longer. Lupercalia, with its lover lottery, had no place in the new Christian order. In the year 496 AD, Pope Gelasius did away with the festival of Lupercalia, citing that it was pagan and immoral. He chose Valentine as the patron saint of lovers, who would be honored at the new festival on the fourteenth of every February. The church decided to come up with its own lottery and so the feast of St. Valentine featured a lottery of Saints. One would pull the name of a saint out of a box, and for the following year, study and attempt to emulate that saint . During the medieval days of chivalry, the single’s lottery was very popular. The names of English maidens and bachelors were put into a box and drawn out in pairs. The couple exchanged gifts and the girl became the man’s valentine for a year. He wore her name on his sleeve and it was his bounded duty to attend and protect her. The ancient custom of drawing names on the 14th of February was considered a good omen for love. By the 17th century, handmade cards had become quite elaborate. In 1797, a British publisher issued sentimental verses for the young lover suffering from writer’s block. Printers began producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines,” and a reduction in postal rates in the next century ushered in the practice of mailing valentines. Chocolate entered the Valentine’s Day ritual relatively late. In 1867 Cadbury Brothers discovered how to make chocolate smooth and sweet. A year later Cadburys were turning out the first boxed chocolates, elaborate boxes made of velvet and mirrors which retained their value as trinket-boxes after the chocolate was gone. Richard Cadbury created the first heart-shaped Valentine’s Day box in the 1870′s. In this age of  commercilisation the day has little, if any, significant meaning.

2012 YEAR OF DRAGON

The dragon enjoys a very high reputation in Chinese culture. It is the token of authority, dignity, honour, success, luck, and capacity. In ancient China, a dragon was thought to speed across the sky with divine power. Emperors entitled themselves exclusively as ‘dragon’; their thrones were called ‘dragon thrones’, their clothes ‘dragon gowns’.
The origin of the Chinese dragon is not certain. The presence of dragons within Chinese culture dates back several thousands of years with the discovery of a dragon statue dating back to the fifth millennium BC from the Yangshao culture in Henan in 1987, and jade badges of rank in coiled form have been excavated from the Hongshan culture circa 4700-2900 BC.
The coiled snake or dragon form played an important role in early Chinese culture. The character for “dragon” in the earliest Chinese writing has a similar coiled form, as do later jade dragon amulets from the Shang period.
Ancient Chinese referred to unearthed dinosaur bones as dragon bones and documented them as such. For example, Chang Qu in 300 BC documents the discovery of “dragon bones” in Sichuan. The modern Chinese word for dinosaur is konglong (恐龍, meaning “terrible dragon”), and villagers in central China have long unearthed fossilized “dragon bones” for use in traditional medicines, a practice that continues today.
The binomial name for a variety of dinosaur discovered in China, Mei long, in Chinese (寐 mèi and 龙 lóng) means “sleeping dragon.” Fossilized remains of Mei long have been found in China in a sleeping and coiled form, with the dinosaur nestling its snout beneath one of its forelimbs while encircling its tail around its entire body.
The Han Dynasty scholar Wang Fu recorded Chinese myths that long dragons had nine anatomical resemblances.
“The people paint the dragon’s shape with a horse’s head and a snake’s tail. Further, there are expressions as ‘three joints’ and ‘nine resemblances’ (of the dragon), to wit: from head to shoulder, from shoulder to breast, from breast to tail. These are the joints; as to the nine resemblances, they are the following: his horns resemble those of a stag, his head that of a camel, his eyes those of a demon, his neck that of a snake, his belly that of a clam (shen, 蜃), his scales those of a carp, his claws those of an eagle, his soles those of a tiger, his ears those of a cow. Upon his head he has a thing like a broad eminence (a big lump), called [chimu] (尺木). If a dragon has no [chimu], he cannot ascend to the sky.”
Chinese dragons are strongly associated with water in popular belief. They are believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas. They can show themselves as water spouts (tornado or twister over water). In this capacity as the rulers of water and weather, the dragon is more anthropomorphic in form, often depicted as a humanoid, dressed in a king’s costume, but with a dragon head wearing a king’s headdress.
There are four major Dragon Kings, representing each of the four seas: the East Sea (corresponding to the East China Sea), the South Sea (corresponding to the South China Sea), the West Sea (sometimes seen as the Indian Ocean and beyond), and the North Sea (sometimes seen as Lake Baikal).
The dragon, especially yellow or golden dragons with five claws on each foot, was a symbol for the emperor in many Chinese dynasties. The imperial throne was called the Dragon Throne. During the late Qing Dynasty, the dragon was even adopted as the national flag. The dragon is featured in the carvings on the steps of imperial palaces and tombs, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.
While Dragons frequently help others, rarely will they ask for help. Others are attracted to Dragons, especially their colorful personalities, but deep down, Dragons prefer to be alone. Perhaps that is because they’re most successful when working alone. Their preference to be alone can come across as arrogance or conceitedness, but these qualities aren’t applicable. Dragons have tempers that can flare fast!
Health
Considering their hard-working nature, Dragons are healthy overall. They do get stressed and suffer from periodic tension/headaches, likely because they take so many risks. Dragons could benefit from incorporating mild activity into their lives. Yoga or walking would be good as these activities can work both their minds and their bodies.
Career
Dragons prefer leading to being led. Jobs that allow them to express their creativity are good choices. Some good careers include: inventor, manager, computer analyst, lawyer, engineer, architect, broker, and sales person.
Relationships
Dragons will give into love, but won’t give up their independence. Because they have quick, sometimes vengeful tempers, their partners need to be tough-skinned. Dragons enjoy others who are intriguing, and when they find the right partners, they’ll usually commit to that person for life.
DRAGONS AND THE ELEMENTS
Water Dragons – Years 1952 and 2012
Water calms the Dragon’s fire. Water Dragons are able to see things from other points of view. They don’t have the need to always be right. Their decisions, if well-researched, are usually better since they allow others to become involved.
Compatibility
Dragons are compatible with the Monkey or Rat and incompatible with the Ox and Goat.
Ideal Job for the Dragon Include
Managing director, Salesperson, Advertising executive, Barrister, Film producer, Prime minister or President, Photojournalist, Architect, Astronaut, Artist, Film star, War correspondent.
Horoscope background
Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 21, 34, 35, 36, 45
Equivalent Western Sign: Aries
Element: earth
Colour: yellow
yin/yang: yin
Direction: east-south-east
Lucky Flowers: bleeding heart vine, larkspur

CELEBRITY
Some Famous Dragons: Jeffrey Archer, Count Basie, Julie Christie, James Coburn, Bing Crosby, Neil Diamond, Matt Dillon, Placido Domingo, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Marlene Dietrich, Tom Jones, John Lennon, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Elaine Paige, Gregory Peck, Cliff Richard, Martin Sheen, Ringo Starr, Shirley Temple.
Dragon Compatibility
Compatible with: Rat, Monkey, Snake, Rooster, Tiger
Less Compatible with: Dragon, Ox, Rabbit, Pig, Ram, Horse
Least Compatible with: Dog
Positive and Negative Capability

Positive: The Dragon can be vibrant, magnanimous, charismatic, principled, self-sufficient, discriminating, compelling, sentimental, accomplished, noble-hearted, healthy and prodigiously shrewd.

Negative: The Dragon can also be bombastic, dissatisfied, ruthless, demanding, opinionated, mawkish, egocentric, defensive, power-mad, foolhardy, willful and pompous.

新年快乐!

No pictures – limit reached !

Ancient Roman Christmas

The Saturnalia was one of the most popular festivals in Ancient Rome, possibly going back to Etruscan times. A sacrifice of piglets was made to the god Saturn along with other rites, and there followed several days of feasting and fun. It was the custom to greet one another with the phrase Io Saturnalia!

I. WINTER SOLSTICE – The Saturnalia began on December 17, a few days before the winter solstice. The Saturnalia was essentially a pagan festival to bring back the sun. And some Romans celebrated the birth of a new god from the Middle East at this time.

II. BIRTH OF A GOD – In the early centuries of our era, the worship of Mithras – a ‘new’ eastern religion – shared many similarities with Christianity. There was a baptism, a sacramental meal celebrating the resurrection of the god, an observance of Sunday, and the god himself was born on the 25th of December. (It wasn’t until about AD 400 that church leaders decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th in an attempt to overlay and obliterate the birthday of Mithras.)

III. GREENERY – Around mid-winter, the Romans decorated their houses with greenery. This was a common act of sympathetic magic used in many so-called ‘pagan’ societies. That’s certainly where our custom of Christmas wreaths and mistletoe come from.

 IV. LIGHTS – Romans also decorated their houses with extra lights at this darkest time of the year. Again, this was a primitive attempt to coax back the sun. Torches, tapers, candleabra and oil-lamps flickered in the houses of those who could afford them.

V. FEASTING. In mid-winter, instinct tells us to build up a nice layer of fat, to feast in preparation for lean times ahead, like bears before they hibernate. The Romans were no different from us in this respect… except that they had no chocolate!

VI. BOOZE. It has been medically proven that a small amount of wine added to water will kill off most known bacteria. For most of the year Romans drank diluted wine, but during the Saturnalia they often drank neat wine, heated and spiced. Mulled wine, anyone?

VII. CELEBRATION (and role reversal, too.) For the five days of the Saturnalia, slaves didn’t have to work. They could eat, drink and be merry, and some even switched places with their masters, especially in more relaxed homes. In theory the masters would wait on reclining slaves and the slaves could tell the masters what they thought of them. Most masters probably just left the slaves to themselves, like Pliny the Younger, who retreated to an annex of his seaside Laurentum Villa and let his slaves get on with carousing. During the Saturnalia, children were allowed into the amphitheatre. There was also music, dancing and pantomime (though not our kind of pantomime).

VIII. GAMBLING. In first century Rome, gambling was illegal… except during the Saturnalia. For those few days in mid-winter, anyone could gamble: children and slaves included. Children usually gambled with nuts. In Italy and some other Mediterranean countries this practice lives on in the seasonal Tombola and Bingo games, only held at this time of year.

IX. CONICAL FELT HATS. During the festival men (and sometimes women) wore a type of conical felt cap called the pilleum (also spelled pilleus). These hats were traditionally worn by slaves who had been set free. This showed that people were ‘free’ from the usual restrictions and laws. “Freedom has loosed the bonds for all…” said one Roman author about the Saturnalia. Imagine a conical, red pilleum trimmed with white fur… and you get Santa’s hat!

X. KING OF THE SATURNALIA. On the first night of the festival in some families, the paterfamilias threw dice to determine who in the household would be the King of the Saturnalia. The ‘King’ could then command people to do things, eg prepare a banquet, sing a song, run an errand. During his reign, the depraved Emperor Nero used shaved dice to ensure that he would be chosen King of the Saturnalia even though he was already the most powerful man in the known world. (Big bully.) I wonder if the paper crowns in Christmas crackers hearken back to this tradition?

XI. GIFTS. Just like us, the Romans gave gifts on the Saturnalia: traditionally candles, silver objects, preserved fruit and especially sigilla: small clay or wooden figures, often with moveable joints. (I guess Barbie dolls and boys’ action figures are the modern equivalent.) But the ancient Romans gave gifts of every value and size, from something as small as a toothpick to something as big as a slave. The Saturnalia was traditionally a time of commercialism and shopping. The first century philosopher Seneca grumbled about the shopping season: “Decembris used to be a month; now it’s a whole year.” Plus ça change…!

XII. MOTTOES. In Roman times they didn’t just stick tags on their presents, they often composed two-lined poems to accompany their Saturnalia gift. These epigrams didn’t have to rhyme; they were in metre. Sometimes they were funny, sometimes in the form of a riddle, sometimes just descriptive. In Holland, people still compose poems to go with their presents.

YO SATURNALIA!
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by Caroline Lawrence
The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina is the perfect Saturnalia gift for a history-loving boy or girl. You can also buy both seasons of the BBC television adaptation of the Roman Mysteries books, including the Saturnalia episode, renamed “The Trials of Flavia”. And keep an eye out for Roman Mystery Scroll 3 early in 2013; it will feature dancing Saturnalia chickens!
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