Wednesday, 22 November 2017

POETS UNITED - ROSE

“But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.” - Anne Brontë 

This week’s Midweek Motif in the Poets United poetry blog has as its theme: “The Flower: Rose”. In the Southern Hemisphere we are currently enjoying very warm and fine Spring weather, and our garden is full of roses (you can see some of our roses here). Here is my poetical offering: 

The Sun-rose 

Like a pale pink fragrant rose
The sun rose and the sky blushed.
You, like a rose unfurling
Also blushed on our first morning.

Just as the pale dawn sky reddened,
The sun-rose shed its petals.
Dawn's rosy beauty soon was lost
In fast advancing light and heat
Of full-blown day.

With petals lost, within the rose
The golden seeds ripen
Within each seed sleeps a promise
 Of a burgeoning sun-rose.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #106 - GRAND CANYON, USA

“Be still and the earth will speak to you.” - Navajo Proverb 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately
The Grand Canyon (Hopi: Ongtupqa; Yavapai: Wi:kaʼi:la, Navajo: Tsékooh Hatsoh, Spanish: Gran Cañón) is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, United States. The Grand Canyon is 446 km long, up to 29 km wide and attains a depth of over 1,850 metres. The canyon and adjacent rim are contained within Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Havasupai Indian Reservation and the Navajo Nation.

President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery. Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago.

Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon. For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540
This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - P. D. PHILIDOR

“France cannot be France without greatness.” - Charles de Gaulle 

Pierre Danican Philidor is a French composer and musician who was born on August 22, 1681 and died on September 1, 1731. Pierre was the son of Jacques Danican Philidor “the Cadet” (also a musician), and nephew of André Danican Philidor (also a composer). Pierre was in 1697, oboe and violin of the Great Stable of the King, instrumentalist in the Chapel in 1704, and was included in the violins of the Cabinet of the King four years later.

He lived in Paris, Rue Betisy, and in 1716 he became a viola player in the Chamber of the King. He is said to have composed a ‘Pastorale’ (1702 –‘L’Églogue de Marly’, pastorale performed before Monseigneur, and then before Louis XIV) in his early years, but this has not survived. He is best known for his six suites with two transverse flutes and six others for flute and bass.

The trios of 1717, dedicated to the Bishop of Rennes, Grand Master of the Chapel of the King, are among of Philidor’s finest achievements. Since those trios of Mademoiselle de la Guerre, that had had the privilege of pleasing Louis XIV, this trio form had been appreciated by the monarch as the perfect representation of his purest taste for the musical arts. Marin Marais had, moreover, delivered his own suites in the same form in 1692 followed closely by the three books of La Barre (respectively in 1694, 1700 and 1707) and by that of Hotteterre “the Roman” in 1712.

Titon du Tillet in his ‘French Parnassus’ has this to say about Philidor:
“I will say about Pierre Danican Philidor, of whom I have just spoken, that he is the first, with one of the Desjardins (both Oboes of the first Company of the Musketeers of the King), whom Lully had included into the Orchestra of the Opera, and that he was so satisfied with them, that he used them in some of his Motets, especially in his ‘Te Deum’, where he also introduced trumpets and drums.” 


Here are Philidor's Suites for Oboe, published in 1717 and performed by Antoine Torunczyk and Alfredo Bernardini (oboes) and the chamber group “L’Assemblee des Honnestes Curieux”.

Friday, 17 November 2017

FOOD FRIDAY - MOROCCAN GRILLED FISH

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau 

Fish is popular in our household, especially as we shop from an excellent fishmonger who always has fresh fish and will recommend the tastiest and freshest seafood to us, depending on our menu needs. 

Grilled Moroccan Fish Fillets 
Ingredients 
4 firm white fish fillets, such as ling or snapper 
Chermoula marinade 
Olive oil, lemon juice
Steamed spinach, roast pumpkin and mushrooms
Lemon wedges, to serve 

Method 
Place the fish fillets into a large resealable plastic bag and pour enough chermoula marinade to coat the fillets. Seal the bag after removing the air and turn the fish to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the bag over once.
Preheat the grill to very hot. Brush grill tray with some olive oil. Place fillets on prepared tray and cook for 5 minutes under grill, about 10 cm from heat, basting with lemon juice, without turning, until fish flakes easily.
Meanwhile, put the spinach, roast pumpkin and mushrooms on the serving plates and keep warm (in a warm oven covered with foil).
Place cooked fish on top of the warm spinach, and drizzle with extra chermoula, garnishing with lemon wedges.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

ALL ABOUT CHERMOULA

“A little imagination goes a long way in Fes.” – Tahir Shah 

Chermoula (Arabic: شرمولة‎‎) or charmoula is a marinade and dressing used in Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan and Tunisian Cuisine. It is traditionally used to flavour fish or seafood, but it can be used on various meats or vegetables. While there many versions of this, with more or less local embellishments, a basic recipe contains garlic, cumin, coriander, oil, lemon juice, and salt. Variations may also include pickled lemons, onion, ground chili peppers, black pepper, saffron, and other herbs.

Chermoula recipes vary widely by region. In Sfax, Tunisia, chermoula with cured salted fish is often prepared during Eid al-Fitr. This regional variety is composed of dried dark grape purée mixed with onions cooked in olive oil and spices such as cloves, cumin, chili, black pepper, and cinnamon. A Moroccan version comprises dried parsley, cumin, paprika and salt and pepper.

We had this at a friend’s home, where she served the chermoula with marinated eggplant that had had been subsequently grilled. It was delicious. We tried her recipe at home, but modified it slightly according to our taste. There are specially prepared chermoula spice mixtures available and you may use those, however, we always like preparing our own herb/spice mixes. 

Chermoula 
Ingredients
1 cup packed fresh, tender coriander leaves
1/2 cup packed, fresh, continental parsley leaves
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp sumac powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp crushed saffron
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste 


Method 
Place coriander, parsley, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
Add lemon juice, paprika, sumac, cumin, cayenne, and saffron and pulse to combine.
With motor running, drizzle olive through feed tube. Process until sauce is uniform. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

POETS UNITED - METEOR SHOWERS

“Look at the sky; remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity in order to see the smallness of yourself.” - Matt Haig 

In the Midweek Motif of Poets United this week, the theme is “Meteor Showers”. My contribution below: 

Meteor Showers 

Billions upon billions of suns
Strewn through the endless emptiness
Of cosmic infinitudes –
I look at them and yet remain indifferent
To the immensity that stares at me,
Being able to contain it all
Within the low walls and ceiling
Holding my brain.


I love.
I love you, and that is:
More important than the speed of light
Within a vacuum;
More rare than comets that careen past
And are glimpsed once in a lifetime;
More precious than the meteor showers,
Which fall around us like golden rain…


What should it matter if now a million suns
Should suddenly decide to supernova?
What if I am but a mite on a speck of dust?
It is enough that I have loved,
Nothing can take that from me.


I love, I feel, I understand:
I am small, insignificant, an atom only
In the endlessness of eternity,
And yet I love and I can pinpoint my existence
In unfaltering co-ordinates.


What if the earth should suddenly expire?
What if the universe decides to crunch?
What if Death around each corner lies in wait?
My only fear now is that we two are on a parallel course
And that the threads of our two lives will never cross...


That which I feel
Is infinitely more important
Than all the vastness looming above, below,
Around all sides of me.
Without you by my side,
The boundless space within me
Annuls the space without.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #105 - REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND

“In Reykjavik, Iceland, where I was born, you are in the middle of nature surrounded by mountains and ocean. But you are still in a capital in Europe. So I have never understood why I have to choose between nature or urban.” - Björk 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. Its latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state, and is a popular tourist destination. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxa Bay. With a population of around 123,300 (and over 216,940 in the Capital Region), it is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic and governmental activity.

Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which, according to Ingólfur Arnarson, was established in AD 874. Until the 19th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population, and governmental activities. It is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.

Present-day Reykjavík is a city with people from at least 100 countries. The most common ethnic minorities are Poles, Lithuanians, and Danes. In 2009, foreign-born individuals made up 8% of the total population. Children of foreign origin, many of whom are adopted, form a more considerable minority in the city’s schools, as many as a third in places. The city is also visited by thousands of tourists, students, and other temporary residents, at times outnumbering natives in the city centre.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday, 13 November 2017

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 35, HESAT

“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.” - Ogden Nash 

Hesat is an ancient Egyptian goddess in the form of a cow. She was said to provide humanity with milk (called “the beer of Hesat”) and in particular to suckle the pharaoh and several ancient Egyptian bull gods. In the Pyramid Texts she is said to be the mother of Anubis and of the deceased king. She was especially connected with Mnevis, the living bull god worshipped at Heliopolis, and the mothers of Mnevis bulls were buried in a cemetery dedicated to Hesat. In Ptolemaic times (304–30 BC) she was closely linked with the goddess Isis.

In the Anti (Nemty) myth, this ancient Upper Egyptian hawk god decapitated the cow-goddess (alternatively Hathor or Hesat) and was flayed for his crime. Hesat, referred to as mother of the flayed skin fetish, anointed Anti’s skin with a cream containing her milk, restoring it. This skin, supported by a pole became the symbol for Imiut and thus Anubis. Hesat was identified with Hathor and Isis. In royal birth myths she gave birth to the baby king in the form of a golden calf and suckled him. Thus, in the myth of Hatshepsut’s birth she told the baby queen: “I guide your mouth towards my milk”.

Generally speaking Hesat stood for the provision of the loving care a child needs for growing up. In Heb-Sed scenes such as that of Osorkon II the Isis-Hesat cow is represented both on the side of the Upper as well as of the Lower Egyptian deities.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

ART SUNDAY - ARTHUR BOYD

“Once people come to Australia, they join the team.” - Tony Abbott 

Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd AC OBE (24 July 1920 – 24 April 1999) was a leading Australian painter of the late 20th century. Boyd’s work ranges from impressionist renderings of Australian landscape to starkly expressionist figuration, and many canvases feature both. Several famous works set Biblical stories against the Australian landscape, such as “The Expulsion”, now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Having a strong social conscience, Boyd’s work deals with humanitarian issues and universal themes of love, loss and shame. For example his “brides” series of paintings examine the issues of race and race relations, what it means to “Australian” and the prejudices of whites directed against blacks and half-castes. Boyd was a member of the Antipodeans, a group of Melbourne painters that also included Clifton Pugh, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval and Charles Blackman.

The Boyd family artistic dynasty includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals, commencing with Boyd’s grandfather Arthur Merric Boyd, Boyd’s father Merric and mother Doris, uncles Penleigh Boyd and Martin Boyd, and brothers Guy and David. Mary Boyd, his sister and also a painter, married first John Perceval, and then later Sidney Nolan, both artists. Boyd's wife, Yvonne Boyd (née Lennie) is also a painter; as are their children Jamie, Polly, and Lucy.

In 1993, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd gave family properties comprising 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River to the people of Australia. Held in trust, Boyd later donated further property, artwork, and the copyright to all of his work. The ‘Shoalhaven’ series of Boyd’s painting are iconic of the spirit of Australian landscape.

Boyd was a master at manipulating elements to express himself. He developed new techniques when he was still a teenager and later changed technique depending on his preferred style, media, location and what he was depicting. He would often use loose strokes of thickly coated brushes. He applied paint with his fingers and palm because it is quicker, while the body contact directly connected him with the painting. He believed this allowed for a greater sense of freedom and pleasure from the act of painting. His canvases often show this dynamism and testify to the involvement of the artist with his work with his body and soul.

The Bride series has rightfully earned a canonical place in Australian art history, due to its powerful pictorialisation of issues of social justice, rendered in a poetic style that blends figuration with an abstracted surrealism. It has been suggested that “The Bride series constitutes, together with Nolan’s two series on Burke and Wills and Ned Kelly, the most powerful visual images to emerge from Australian painting... in this century.” (U Hoff, The Art of Arthur BOYD, London, 1986, p.22.).

The original title of the series was “Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste”, a title that was deliberately ambiguous. Rather than presenting a simplistic symbolism of a longed for union between white and black Australia, Boyd avoided a reductive simplification of the racial issues by making both the bride and bridegroom half-caste. The complexity of the narrative relations was deepened by the doubling of the bride figure in the form of an impossible phantom bride, who is the object of a dream-like desire that is destined to remain forever unfulfilled. Through the cycle of missed gazes that is the emotional core of this painting, Boyd evoked unfulfilled longing and a sense of isolation within the compositional embrace of the figures, in the process transposing contemporary social issues into poetic and painterly allegory.

The central theme of the Bride paintings is the dream of integration through love, an ideal which is stripped of its romanticism by the culture of racism and violence that is the fundamental reason preventing the lovers from union. Boyd first became aware of the plight of the indigenous Australians when he visited the Simpson Desert in Central Australia in 1951.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - CONRADIN KREUTZER

“Seven, Richie thought. That's the magic number. There has to be seven of us. That's the way it's supposed to be.” - Stephen King 

Conradin Kreutzer or Kreuzer (Messkirch in Baden, 22 November 1780 - Riga, 14 December 1849) was a German composer and conductor. His works include the opera Das Nachtlager in Granada, and Der Verschwender (Incidental music), both produced in 1834 in Vienna.

Kreutzer abandoned his law studies (University of Freiburg) and went to Vienna about 1804, where he met Haydn and may have studied with Albrechtsberger, while he tried his hand unsuccessfully at singspielen. He spent 1811-12 in Stuttgart, where at least three of his operas were staged and he was awarded the post of Hofkapellmeister. He was from 1812 to 1816 Kapellmeister to the king of Württemberg.

Once he was successful, he became a prolific composer, and wrote a number of operas for the Theater am Kärntnertor, Theater in der Josefstadt and Theater an der Wien Vienna, which have disappeared from the stage and are not likely to be revived. In 1840 he became conductor of the opera at Cologne. His daughters, Cecilia and Marie Kreutzer, have been sopranos of some renown.

Kreutzer owes his fame almost exclusively to Das Nachtlager in Granada (1834), which kept the stage for half a century in spite of changes in musical taste. It was written in the style of Carl Maria von Weber. The same qualities are found in Kreutzer's part-songs for men's voices, which at one time were extremely popular in Germany. Among these Das ist der Tag des Herrn (“The Lord's Day”) may be named as the most excellent. His Septet for winds and strings, Op. 62, remains in the chamber music repertory. Kreutzer was one of the 50 composers who wrote a Variation on a waltz of Anton Diabelli for Part II of the Vaterländischer Künstlerverein (published 1824).

Here is his Grand Septet in E-flat major, Op.62, for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, String Trio, Double Bass performed by The Nash Ensemble
Mov.I: Adagio - Allegro 00:00
Mov.II: Adagio 08:20
Mov.III: Minuetto: Moderato - Trio 16:17
Mov.IV: Andante 19:53
Mov.V: Scherzo: Prestissimo - Trio 24:57
Mov.VI: Finale: Allegro vivace 28:21

Friday, 10 November 2017

FOOD FRIDAY - GRILLED ACHIOTE CHICKEN

“Mexico is a mosaic of different realities and beauties.” - Enrique Peña Nieto 

Yesterday’s blog entry was about annatto and today I give you a recipe where the annatto contributes greatly to the flavour of the dish. It is a Mexican dish and the chicken develops a wonderful texture and aroma because of the achiote (annatto) marinade. 

Grilled Achiote Chicken
Ingredients - Marinated Chicken
2-3 tbsp achiote (annatto) seasoning
1/2 cup white vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (each about 180 g)
Ingredients - Citrus Sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh coriander 

Method
Dissolve the achiote seasoning in vinegar and oil and beat with a fork to homogenise. Add chicken, turn to coat well, and marinate in the fridge 1 hour.
Preheat the grill. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving the marinade. Grill chicken until done, about 7 minutes per side. Remove chicken to platter, and cover with aluminium foil to keep warm. I usually split the chicken fillets in two to make them more presentable.
To prepare the sauce, pour reserved marinade into a saucepan; add garlic and juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, stirring, until sauce is the consistency of a thin cream sauce (thin sauce with a little water if it gets too thick). Add the salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and serve chopped fresh coriander garnish in a separate bowl so diners can help themselves (some people do not like this herb).

Thursday, 9 November 2017

ALL ABOUT ANNATTO

“Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.” - Bill Blass  

Annatto is an orange-red condiment and food colouring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana). It is often used to impart a yellow or orange colour to foods, but sometimes also for its flavour and aroma. Its scent is described as “slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg” and flavour as “slightly nutty, sweet and peppery”. The colour of annatto comes from various carotenoid pigments, mainly bixin and norbixin, found in the reddish waxy coating of the seeds.

The condiment is typically prepared by grinding the seeds to a powder or paste. Similar effects can be obtained by extracting some of the colour and flavour principles from the seeds with hot water, oil, or lard, which are then added to the food. Annatto and its extracts are now widely used in an artisanal or industrial scale as a colouring agent in many processed food products, such as cheeses, dairy spreads, butter and margarine, custards, cakes and other baked goods, potatoes, snack foods, breakfast cereals, smoked fish, sausages, and more.

In these uses, annatto is a natural alternative to synthetic food colouring compounds, but it has been linked to cases of food-related allergies. Annatto is of particular commercial value in the United States because the Food and Drug Administration considers colourants derived from it to be “exempt of certification”. 

Achiote or the annato tree (Bixa orellana) is a shrub or small tree originating from the tropical region of the Americas. It is 6–10 m high and bears clusters of 5 cm diameter bright white to pink flowers, resembling single wild roses, appearing at the tips of the branches. The fruits are in clusters: Spiky-looking red-brown seed pods covered in soft spines. Each pod contains many seeds covered with a thin waxy blood-red aril. When fully mature, the pod dries, hardens, and splits open, exposing the seeds.

North, Central, and South American natives originally used the seeds to make red body paint and lipstick, as well as a spice. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the lipstick tree. The species name was given by Linnaeus after the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana, an early explorer of the Amazon River. The name achiote derives from the Nahuatl word for the shrub, āchiotl [aːˈt͡ʃiot͡ɬ]. It may also be referred to as aploppas, or by its original Tupi name uruku, urucu or urucum (“red colour”), which is also used for the body paint prepared from its seeds.

The natural orange-red condiment (also called “achiote” or “bijol”) is obtained from the waxy arils that cover the seeds of the achiote tree. The ground seeds are widely used in traditional dishes in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, such as cochinita pibil, chicken in achiote and caldo de olla. 

Bixa orellana originated in South America but it has spread to many parts of the world. It is grown easily and quickly in frost-free regions, from sub-tropical to tropical climates, and thrives if sheltered from cool winds. It prefers year-round moisture, good drainage, and moderately fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. It can be propagated from seed and cuttings. Cutting-grown plants flower at a younger age than seedlings. The main commercial producers are countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and also India and Sri Lanka, where it was introduced by the Spanish in the 17th century.

Ground B. orellana seeds are often mixed with other seeds or spices to form a paste or powder for culinary use especially in Latin American, Jamaican, Chamorro, and Filipino cuisines. The seeds are heated in oil or lard to extract its dye and flavour for use in dishes and processed foods such as cheese, butter, soup, gravy, sauces, cured meats, and other items. The seeds impart a subtle flavour and aroma and a yellow to reddish-orange colour to food.

The seeds are used to colour and flavour rice instead of the much more expensive saffron. In Brazil, a powder known as colorau or colorífico is made from the ground seeds combined with filler seeds like maize. This powder is similar to and sometimes replaces paprika. The Yucatecan condiment called recado rojo or “achiote paste” is made from ground seeds combined with other spices. It is a mainstay of the Mexican and Belizean cuisines. A condiment called sazón (“seasoning” in Spanish) is commonly used in Puerto Rican cuisine for meats and fish. Sazón is made from achiote seeds, cumin, coriander seeds, salt, and garlic powder.

In the language of flowers the annatto flower conveys the meaning: “Your exotic beauty is captivating”. Annatto seeds given in a small box mean: “You may kiss my lips”.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

POETS UNITED - SILENCE

“Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau 

For this week’s theme Poets United has set its Midweek Motif as “Silence”. My poem refers to two Hellenistic gods: Harpocrates and Hermes – in case your mythology is rusty, here is what they stood for. 

Harpocrates (Ancient Greek: Ἁρποκράτης) was the god of silence, secrets and confidentiality in the Hellenistic religion developed in Ptolemaic Alexandria (and also an embodiment of hope, according to Plutarch). Harpocrates was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptian child god Horus. To the ancient Egyptians, Horus represented the newborn sun, rising each day at dawn. When the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great, they transformed the Egyptian Horus into the Hellenistic god known as Harpocrates, a rendering from Egyptian Har-pa-khered or Heru-pa-khered (“Horus the Child”). 

Hermes (Greek: Ἑρμῆς) is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, and the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest). Hermes was the emissary and messenger of the gods. Hermes was also “the divine trickster” and “the god of boundaries and the transgression of boundaries, ... the patron of herdsmen, thieves, graves, and heralds.” He is described as moving freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, and was the conductor of souls into the afterlife. He was also viewed as the protector and patron of roads and travellers.

During Classical and Hellenistic Greece he is usually depicted young and nude, with athleticism, as befits the god of speech and of the gymnastics. When represented as Logios (Greek: Λόγιος, speaker), his attitude is consistent with the attribute, his hands often in an eloquent gesture. 

Silence Befits Harpocrates

O, Horus Child; O, Sun of dawn,
Who by the shores of mighty Nile
You grow into virile manhood,
My forebears dubbed you Harpocrates,
For your Egyptian name was too rough
For their silvery, slippery tongues.

You stand and look at me smiling,
And unlike your children friends
You hold your tongue,
Though all you know, all you’ve seen;
And yet you talk not, you keep my secrets
Betrayer you are not, my loyal friend.

Harpocrates (I too, prefer this name of yours),
You weave fine wreaths of fragrant roses
And even if sharp thorn draws blood
From your pricked finger, you let it flow
And not a word escapes your lips,
No cry of pain, no sigh of fierce frustration.

I shall my lover call Harpocrates, after you,
For he too stays silent, (too silent for my liking),
And he too betrays no confidence,
(Even his own to me he will not give);
I tell all, confide in him and expect in return a flood of words,
But like you Harpocrates, all he does is smile – silently…

To Hermes Logios I shall sacrifice three nightingales,
And hope that he will give you more words than I need;
For while Harpocrates is a fine god for friends,
I’d rather model my lover after Hermes, whose eloquence
I want filling my voids with wise words, small talk, poetry,
Entreaties, vows, idle prattle, and even more vital,
Words of love, sweet talk of passion, nothings of fond affection…

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #104 - MACHU PICCHU, PERU

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand.” - Neil Armstrong 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres above sea level. In the Quechua language, machu means “old”, while pikchu means “peak; mountain or prominence with a broad base that ends in sharp peaks”, hence the name of the site means “old peak”. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru, above the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometres northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472).

During its use as a royal estate, it is estimated that no more than 750 people lived there at a time, most people being support staff (yanaconas, yana) who lived there permanently. Though the estate belonged to Pachacuti, religious specialists and temporary specialised workers (mayocs) lived there as well, most likely for the ruler’s well-being and enjoyment. During the harsher season, staff dropped down to around a hundred servants and a few religious specialists focused only on maintenance.

Often mistakenly referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas” (a title more accurately applied to Vilcabamba), it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911.

Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of how they originally appeared. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored and restoration continues. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday, 6 November 2017

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 34, HATHOR

“Not every man remembers the name of the cow which supplied him with each drop of milk he has drunk.” - Shmuel Yosef Agnon 

Hathor (Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr; in Greek: Ἅθωρ, meaning “mansion of Horus”) is an ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of ancient Egypt. Hathor was worshipped by royalty and common people alike. In tomb paintings, she is often depicted as “Mistress of the West”, welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles, she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands, and fertility. She was believed to assist women in childbirth. She was also believed to be the patron goddess of miners. 

The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults that venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows. Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace. Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is “housed” in her. 

The ancient Egyptians viewed reality as multi-layered in which deities who merge for various reasons, while retaining divergent attributes and myths, were not seen as contradictory but complementary. In a complicated relationship Hathor is at times the mother, daughter and wife of Ra and, like Isis, is at times described as the mother of Horus, and associated with Bast. The cult of Osiris promised eternal life to those deemed morally worthy. Originally the justified dead, male or female, became an Osiris but by early Roman times females became identified with Hathor and men with Osiris. The ancient Greeks sometimes identified Hathor with the goddess Aphrodite.

Hathor had a complex relationship with Ra. At times she is the eye of Ra and considered his daughter, but she is also considered Ra’s mother. She absorbed this role from another cow goddess Mehet-Weret (“Great flood”) who was the mother of Ra in a creation myth and carried him between her horns. As a mother she gave birth to Ra each morning on the eastern horizon and as wife she conceives through union with him each day. 

Hathor, along with the goddess Nut, was associated with the Milky Way during the third millennium B.C. when, during the Autumn and Spring equinoxes, it aligned over and touched the earth where the sun rose and fell. The four legs of the celestial cow represented Nut or Hathor could, in one account, be seen as the pillars on which the sky was supported with the stars on their bellies constituting the Milky Way on which the solar barque of Ra, representing the sun, sailed. 
As Hathor’s cult developed from prehistoric cow cults it is not possible to say conclusively where devotion to her first took place. Dendera in Upper Egypt was a significant early site where she was worshiped as “Mistress of Dendera”. From the Old Kingdom era she had cult sites in Meir and Kusae with the Giza-Saqqara area perhaps being the centre of devotion. At the start of the first Intermediate period Dendera appears to have become the main cult site where she was considered to be the mother as well as the consort of “Horus of Edfu”. 
Deir el-Bahri, on the west bank of Thebes, was also an important site of Hathor that developed from a pre-existing cow cult. Temples (and chapels) dedicated to Hathor are:
The Temple of Hathor and Ma’at at Deir el-Medina, West Bank, Luxor;
The Temple of Hathor at Philae Island, Aswan;
The Hathor Chapel at the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. West Bank, Luxor;
The temple of Hathor at Timna valley, Israel. 
In Egyptian mythology, Nebethetepet was the manifestation of Hathor at Heliopolis. She was associated with the sun-god Atum. Her name means “Mistress of the Offering”.