July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of the July


Drink recipes

June 27, 2015

Blessing of Hera: Victory of Marriage

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement. The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the landmark ruling, gay marriage becomes legal in all 50 states.
Immediately after the decision, same-sex couples in many of states where gay marriage had been banned headed to county clerks' offices for marriage licenses as state officials issued statements saying they would respect the ruling.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, writing on behalf of the court, said the hope of gay people intending to marry "is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." This is why I writing about the Goddess of Marriage and Commitment, Hera 

Queen of Heaven
Olympian Great Mother
Goddess of Women and Family
Goddess of Marriage and Commitment

Hera is the Queen of the Gods and the Heaven and Goddess of Royalty, Women, Marriage and Childbirth. Hera rules the heaven and the earth, its people and the hearts of those people. Using creativity, Hera nudges star-crossed lovers together, chaperones trysts and helps struggling marriages with renew like the spring! A maiden or youth about to marry could make offerings to Hera, in the hopes that She would bless the marriage with fertility and bliss.
Wife to Zeus and daughter to the Titan Lady Rhea and Titan Lord Kronos, She is often depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a crown and holding a staff. She is one of the twelve Olympians and is the youngest girl of her siblings, she was said to be one of the most beautiful Goddesses, and her brother Zeus chased after her for some time. At first, he was unsuccessful but when he adopted the guise of a bedraggled cuckoo in a storm, the goddess took pity upon him and tenderly kept him warm in her bed. There at once he resumed his true shape, professed his love for her.  So, she finally agreed to become his consort on the condition that he married her, and remained loyal and faithful to her (unfortunately she forget to make him swear on the unbreakable oath of the River Styx).
Hera is the most powerful female of the pantheon and wields authority that only Zeus is above; she doesn't necessarily do a lot of creation of laws and laying down the smack on other members of the pantheon, which might tread on Zeus' toes were she to do it without checking with him first, but the gods know that they cannot challenge her directly and that incurring her wrath is courting total disaster. We've talked about ladies, who are political powerhouses because of their cunning, their savvy and their ability to confuse others, but Hera doesn't do any of those things; she rules because she is a ruler, and her authority is unquestionable. Hera knows her duties as queen of the Olympian family and their allies and takes them seriously.
Hera is the Goddess of Marriage, and by extension childbirth, family and the tight bonds of relationships and filial loyalty. This is an extremely important role; it is family that provided most ancient Greeks with their closest and most important supporters and followers, that allowed a person's legacy to continue onward through their children and that allowed different people to ally themselves through marriage and thereby become even stronger. The goes on with Upper class society in modern times. In addition to being the patron of all wives and mothers, who strove to emulate her familial loyalty and love, Hera was also the deity that must be called upon to bless a marriage and allow it to be fruitful and successful. Without her, no marriage could succeed, and she was lavishly worshiped during engagements and weddings.
People frequently remember Hera's crusades against Zeus' lovers, She also admits that she secretly envies the demigod children of the other gods, claiming that they help them connect with the mortal world in ways she can't. She will never have any of her own, however, because as the Goddess of Marriage it is "not in her nature to be faithless." While anger is certainly part of her motivation, her reasons run deeper than that. For one thing, as goddess of marriage itself, having an unfaithful husband is a direct affront to her very core function as a goddess; it is her nature to promote family harmony and faithfulness, so Zeus' extracurricular activities are not only emotionally distressing but also a direct challenge to her divine power over the arena of marriage, one that she can't let pass by her unchallenged. It is this part of her, though, that allows her to be merciful where the other gods cannot, as demonstrated by her favoring of the pure mortal Jason, who had no divine parent to guide him.
But less often talked about his her battle worthy awesomeness, which is pretty goddamned impressive to be so unremembered. Hera is not known as a warrior goddess, but when the need arises she can bust out some combat moves that put the enemy to shame before going home and getting on with her more important family duties. During the Titan War, Hera fought bravely with her siblings and their allies against Titans. Also in the Gigantomachy when the giants assaulted Olympus and the gods mobilized to defeat them, she charged forth with her spear and struck down the giant Phoetus so that he could be defeated. She even had beaten Artemis, most tomboyish of the gods, twice.
To me; Hera is a powerful and strong Goddess who is not afraid to fight for what is right, even if it means she could be putting her own life in danger. While men can say what they want and be authoritative; a woman is called greedy if she expresses her wants and desires - she is demanding and carping is she expresses authority. Even today, women who command power are often demonized just like Hera was in Greek myths. An earlier generation, men and women, mocked Eleanor Roosevelt for being plain, derided for being outspoken. It is satisfying to restore dignity to this ancient Goddess. She has survived ages of abuse to her reputation and her myths but is re-emerging today as an inspiring figure of strength and dignity. She currently blessing the newly marriage of LGBT community.

June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day and Summer Solstice to you all.
Egyptian sun god can be likened unto the Christian God, as a supreme deity and creator. He created the 8 great gods and the human race came from his tears.  Ra is usually depicted as a human with a falcon or a ram head. The sun was either his eye or his body. He traveled the sky every day, passing over the lands and then going into the underworld. Because of this legend, he is considered to be the god of the underworld.
Ra is stated to be the "heart" of the Egyptian gods and, by extension, the entire universe. Even if the others do not acknowledge it or possibly don’t even know it as Isis presumably didn’t know the consequences, without Ra, the rest of the gods would eventually fade into nothingness. Ra is the most powerful among all the other gods and is only contested by Apophis in power and might. As the god of creation and renewal, he is able to replenish energy and give vitality by just his presence.
At the beginning there was only the Sea of Chaos, then the first land, the first obelisk, the symbol of Ma'at, came from Chaos, creation from destruction, and from it, Ra rose. Ra was powerful and took many forms, but he was alone and chaos surrounded him.
As the Atum, is he who masturbated in Iunu (On, Heliopolis). He took his phallus in his grasp that he might create orgasm by means of it, and so were born the twins Shu, who willed the winds, and Tefnut, who caused the rains to fall. And then Shu's children: Nut, the sky and Geb, the earth. Atum created the two gods Sia and Hu from his blood spilled while cutting his own penis, a possible reference to circumcisionFollowing the creation of the other gods; with his Sun Boat, Ra transverses on the heavens to upheld the triumph of Ma'at over Isfet, or chaos.
But also, as Order took manifestation in the form of Ra, Chaos also manifested into a giant serpent called Apophis, the god of Chaos who hated all of creation. As Chaos tried to overthrow and disrupt the delicate balance between Chaos and Order, Apophis tried to swallow the sun god as the ancient prophecy stated, which if the Serpent would successful , the world would be destroyed and fall into Chaos. However the triumph of Chaos did not happen since the gods were there to protect Ra, the Lord of Order.

June 12, 2015

History of Homosexuality: Renaissance Edition

During the Renaissance, wealthy cities in northern Italy —Florence and Venice in particular — were renowned for their widespread practice of same-sex love, engaged in by a considerable part of the male population and constructed along the classical pattern of Greece and Rome. This gave rise to a number of proverbs illuminating the views of the common people towards the practice; among them: “If you crave joys, tumble some boys.” But even as many of the male population were engaging in same-sex relationships, the authorities, under the aegis of the Officers of the Night court, were prosecuting, fining, and imprisoning a good portion of that population.
From the second half of the 13th century, death was the punishment for male homosexuality in most of Europe. The eclipse of this period of relative artistic and erotic freedom was precipitated by the rise to power of the moralizing monk Girolamo Savonarola. In northern Europe the artistic discourse on sodomy was turned against its proponents by artists such as Rembrandt, who in his Rape of Ganymede no longer depicted Ganymede as a willing youth, but as a squalling baby attacked by a rapacious bird of prey.
The relationships of socially prominent figures, such as King James I and the Duke of Buckingham, served to highlight the issue, including in anonymously authored street pamphlets: “The world is changed I know not how, For men Kiss Men, not Women now;…Of J. the First and Buckingham: He, true it is, his Wives Embraces fled, To slabber his loved Ganymede” (Mundus Foppensis, or The Fop Display’d, 1691).
Focusing back on Florence
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), was one of the greatest painters and most versatile geniuses in history. He was one of the key figures of the Renaissance, a great cultural movement that had begun in Italy in the 1300's. His portrait Mona Lisa and his religious scene The Last Supper rank among the most famous pictures ever painted.
Leonardo, as he is almost always called, was trained to be a painter. But his interests and achievements spread into an astonishing variety of fields that are now considered scientific specialties. Leonardo studied anatomy, astronomy, botany, geology, geometry, engineering, and optics, and he designed machines and drew plans for hundreds of inventions.
Because Leonardo excelled in such an amazing number of areas of human knowledge, he is often called a universal genius. However, he had little interest in literature, history, or religion. He formulated a few scientific laws, but he never developed his ideas systematically. Leonardo was most of all an excellent observer. He concerned himself with what the eye could see, rather than with purely abstract concepts.
Little is known about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. He kept copious notebooks, but these contain only sketches and speculations. Much of what we know of him comes from tax records, legal documents, and secondhand sources.
Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, in the town of Vinci. His father was Ser Piero, a lawyer; his mother, Caterina, came of a peasant family. They were not married. The boy's uncle Francesco may have had more of a hand in his upbringing than by either of his parents. When Leonardo was about 15, he moved to the nearby city of Florence and became an apprentice to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio. He was already a promising talent. 
In 1476, just as Leonardo was becoming a master in his own right, probably functioning as a partner to Notebook sketch Verrocchio, he was suddenly plagued by scandal. Along with three other young men (apparently because the young men who were charged with him came from powerful and wealthy families), he was anonymously accused of sodomy. In Florence was a criminal offense, even though in most cases the authorities looked the other way and the general culture attached little social stigma to homosexuality.
Leonardo was 24 years old at the time. The accusation specifically charged him with a homosexual interaction with one Jacopo Saltarelli, a notorious prostitute. The charges were brought in April, and for a time Leonardo and the other defendants were under the watchful eye of Florence's "Officers of the Night"--a kind of Renaissance vice squad.
However, the charges were dismissed in June, due to a lack of witnesses and evidence. It is probable that the Medici family brought had something to do with this outcome, as another of the defendants was Lionardo de Tornabuoni, and Lorenzo de Medici's mother had been a Tornabuoni.
 The period immediately following the case was a productive one for Leonardo. Sometime in the mid-1470s, he worked on the Portrait of Ginevra de Benci. In 1478, he received what was probably his first commission: a religious group wanted him to paint an Adoration of the Shepherds. He did a few preliminary sketches but then abandoned the project. Vitruvian man by Leonardo da Vinci
 Although Leonardo managed to be fairly productive in Florence, it is not surprising that he left. He was not able to complete either of the major commissions he received, the two "Adorations." He was charged with sodomy. Although many biographers gloss over this issue, quickly stating that the case was dismissed, it is important for two reasons.
 First, it was perhaps the start of a lifetime of paranoia on Leonardo's part (I don't blame him). He often drew grotesque pictures of gossiping townspeople, and he rated calumny, or malicious gossip, as a serious evil.
The second major implication of the sodomy case is, of course, the question of Leonardo's sexuality. Homosexuality was common in quattrocento Florence, and several things indicate that Leonardo was probably gay. He never married or showed any (recorded) interest in women; indeed, he wrote in his notebooks that male-female intercourse disgusted him. His anatomical drawings naturally include the sexual organs of both genders, but those of the male exhibit much more extensive attention. Finally, Leonardo surrounded himself with beautiful young male assistants, such as Salai and Melzi.
No witnesses appeared against them and eventually the charges were dropped. It must be said that often anonymous charges like this were brought against people just for a nuisance. Renaissance Florentines didn't make the distinctions we make about sexuality today and apparently it was common for young men to get into sexual relationships; in fact, the word "Florenzer" was German slang for "homosexual". 
 While at the studio, he aided his master with his Baptism of Christ, and eventually painted his own Annunciation. Around the age of 30, Leonardo began his own practice, starting work on the Adoration of the Magi; however, he soon abandoned it and moved to Milan in 1482.
In Milan, Leonardo sought and gained the patronage of Ludovico Sforza, and soon began work on the painting Virgin of the Rocks. After some years, he began work on a giant bronze horse, a monument to Sforza's father. Leonardo's design is grand, but the statue was never completed. Meanwhile, he was keeping scrupulous notebooks on a number of studies, including artistic drawings but also depictions of scientific subjects ranging from anatomy to hydraulics. In 1490, he took a young boy, Salai, his handsome, thieving apprentice into his household, and in 1493 a woman named Caterina (most likely his mother) also came to live with him; she died a few years later. Around 1495, Leonardo began his painting The Last Supper, which achieved immense success but began to deteriorate physically almost immediately upon completion. Around this same time, Fra Luca Pacioli, the famous mathematician, moved to Milan, befriended Leonardo, and taught him higher math. In 1499, when the French conquered Lombard and Milan, the two left the city together, heading for Mantua.
Leonardo had no relationships with women, never married, had no children, and raised many young protégés, including one nicknamed "Salai" which means "offspring of Satan", sketches of whom are shown above. Salai stole things, broke things, lied, and was generally a, well, devil; if he were a mere student or servant he would have been sacked. It's not hard for me to see how this imp would be attractive to Leonardo (or to me, now that I mention it). He stayed with Leonardo for over twenty years, and appears many times in Leonardo's sketchbooks. Leonardo left the Mona Lisa to Salai.
 In 1500, Leonardo arrived in Florence, where he painted the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. He was very Notebook sketch interested in mathematics at this time. In 1502, he went to work as chief military engineer to Cesare Borgia, and also became acquainted with Niccolo Machiavelli. After a year he returned to Florence, where he contributed to the huge engineering project of diverting the course of the River Arno, and also painted a giant war mural, the Battle of Anghiari, which was never completed, largely due to problems with the paints. In 1505 Leonardo probably made his first sketches for the Mona Lisa, but it is not known when he completed the painting.
In 1506, Leonardo traveled to Milan at the summons of Charles d'Amboise, the French governor. He became court painter and engineer to Louis XII and worked on a second version of the Virgin of the Rocks. In 1507, he returned to Florence to engage in a legal battle against his brothers for their Uncle Francesco's inheritance. In this same year, he took the young aristocratic Melzi as an assistant, and for the rest of the decade he intensified his studies of anatomy and hydraulics. In 1513, he moved to Rome, where Leo X reigned as pope. There, he worked on mirrors, and probably the above self- portrait. In 1516, he left Italy for France, joining King Francis I in Amboise, whom he served as a wise philosopher for three years before his death in 1519. 

May 31, 2015

Beach Day with Njord


Njord or Njordr (Old Norse Njörðr) is one of the Vanir and the god of wind, fertile land along the seacoast, as well as seamanship, sailing and fishing, he has the power to calm the sea or fire. Njord is the god of the wind and of the sea and its riches. He was married to Skadi, a Giantess. The marriage failed because Njord preferred to live by the sea, while Skadi was happier in her father’s mountain dwelling place. He was the father of Freyr and Freyja by his own sister, Nerthus, who was his first wife. Their mother was Njord's own sister and lover. Apparently the Vanir, unlike the Æsir, had the custom of marriage of your sibling. His dwelling is said to be Noatún ('Ship-town').
There were two main clans of gods, the Aesir as lead by Odin, and the Vanir, lead by Njord. Njord and his kin were recognized as the gods of agriculture and fertility, whilst the Aesir were known to be the gods of warfare and of power. With two distinct areas of worship, Njord was considered to be the chief power behind a calm and productive sea, and prayers were raised to him for a fruitful fishing expedition, or a safe voyage.
The Aesir and Vanir were unable to live side by side in peace, and eventually the two clans went to war in the Aesir-Vanir War. A long drawn out war, ended in stalemate, with neither side having a decisive victory, although the Aesir were considered to have a slight advantage. To end the war though it was decided that the two sides would exchange hostages to avert future hostilities. Thus a deal was made by which Njord went to live with the Aesir and in return the Aesir sent Honir and Mimir to Vanaheim, the home of the Vanir. It was not a fair exchange because Njord was far more valuable and superior to the Vanir hostages.
Njord went to live in Asgard and took with him his twin children, Frey and Freya. Njord’s first wife and the mother of the twins was Nerthus, Njord’s sister and Earth Goddess. As the Aesir did not approve of marriage between brother and sister, Njord had to leave Nerthus behind. He placed her in charge of the Vanirs.  Njord and his children were well treated and became central figures in the Aesir, Njord in particular being given a role in supervising sacrifices.
Njord’s second wife was Skadi, a Giantess then later a goddess. When Skadi’s father was killed by the Aesir (namely Thor) she was granted the choice of a husband from among the gods of Aesir. The catch was though that she had to pick her new husband based only on the appearance of his feet. She chose the most beautiful feet she saw, thinking they belonged to the handsome Baldur. Instead, they were the feet of Njord. Apparently Baldur might have some ugly feet.
Skadi was used to living in the icy mountains, and Njord was used to living by the sea. Njord and Skadi could not agree on where to live. Njord’s home was Noatún, a bustling shipyard, noisy with the sound of the wind and the sea and the seabirds. Skadi and Njord could not live happily together, for Skadi hated the cheerful shipyard, while Njord felt unhappy at Skadi’s grim, cold mountain home. After spending nine nights together in each other’s lands, the two decided to live apart. Skadi eventually married Ullr, the winter-god. Njord has his fun with drunken sailors and whores.
Norse mythology is different to many ancient mythologies as it tells of the demise of many of the leading gods at Ragnarok. Ragnarok was known as the doom of the gods and men. It is a battle that would cause the destruction of the nine worlds. Njord was one of the gods that managed to survive and he returned unscathed to Vanaheim (home of the Vanir) with Freya and maybe Frey.

Go to the beach and the water

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