Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Knowledge of the Ancients

I remember that once, when I was very young, I had an earache and a family member blew cigarette smoke in my ear to alleviate the pain. I don’t remember if it worked or not. In retrospect, this act seems bizarre,  and I am somewhat skeptical of its effectiveness. I also remember that whenever someone in the family had severe body aches, a liberal quantity of foul-smelling “liniment” was applied to that person. Since I don’t recollect ever seeing a television ad for this product, I did a little research and found out that “liniment” is the name of any herbal infusion or tincture used as a topical remedy for pain.

No, we did not live in some remote cabin in the woods. We lived in the suburbs. And we did take regular medicines, and, as needed, we did go to medical doctors. Nevertheless, these quirky folk remedies occasionally were employed.

More recently, an older family member mentioned that a great-grandfather of mine did “water-witching”. This is the act of finding water using dowsing rods. Another family member said that was nonsense, that my great-grandfather was not a dowser, but had in fact only hired a dowser to find a place to sink a well — which I guess was not nonsense.

Anyway, my point in mentioning all this is that there was a time when such folk ways were the norm. No one thought they were “paranormal,” “New Age,” “magickal,” “earth-based,” “of the devil” or “alternative.” Folk-ways were a part of a world view that for the people of the time were normal and effective.  It was just the way things were.

As a city girl, born and raised, I have been for the most part cut off from this heritage. I’m never going to need to dowse for water (I’ll call a plumber) or have someone blow smoke in my ear (I’ll take an antibiotic). But I can see the benefit of returning to the use herbs, healthy food, exercise and fresh air to maintain good health. I can see the wisdom of joining the ancient folk medicines of Europe and Indigenous America with that of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic health practices.  They are cheaper and gentler on the body in many cases–though I will still go to the hospital if I feel like I am having a heart-attack.

These ancient ways were typically handed down from mothers to daughters, or from sages to their students. Typically the teachers would find the most teachable student in the family and bestow this knowledge to the next generation.

Maybe my vague recollections of these ancient practices and my current study and application of these practices is a way in which this knowledge is being bestowed upon me.

Postscript:  After I wrote this, I found this Ted Talk.  The scholar echoes what I am trying to say here:.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2018


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Viriditas: An Earth Day Reflection

It seems appropriate on this Earth Day weekend that I spent a little time working in my small container garden. In the past, I have not been overly successful with gardening, but this time I approached it in a different manner. In the past, I would determine that I would plant a garden, and then spend large amounts of time sweating and toiling, ultimately not seeing much of a return for all the effort.

This time I am letting the plants grow themselves. What do I mean by this? All I need to do is four things: plant when the temperature is warm enough, and provide them with proper light, nutritious soil, and the right amount of water. I only spend about an hour once a week checking on them, giving them a good long drink of water, and keeping an eye out for insects and anything else that might be an obstacle to their well-being. Other than doing these simple activities, I get out of the way and leave them alone to grow. Plants, it seems, have the power within themselves to grow.  I don’t need to fuss over them

The medieval abbess, Hildegard of Bingen, who was a theologian, musician, writer, scientist, medical practitioner, mystic and visionary, had a word for this inner force: viriditas, or “greening” power. This power pulses with vitality and fruitfulness.  It resides in every living organism.  It is life in abundance.

What if we applied the same basic gardening principles to our own lives, both physically and spiritually? What if we got out of our offices, away from our computers and devices and exercised in the fresh air, feeling sunlight on our faces, eating nutritious food, and drinking lots of water? The greening power within us would heal our bodies.

Similarly, what if we disengaged from social media and all the other obstacles to our peace of mind? What if we were to take time to pray and meditate, fellowship face-to-face with others, feed our souls with things that are pure and wholesome and not negative or hateful? What if we partook of the divine Spirit that “greens” this world?

Then true healing would take place. Of this, I am certain.

Ljgloyd 2018


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Mistress Moon

When I went on my walk this morning, I looked up and beheld Luna’s baleful eye gazing down on me. It was ominous. It was creepy. It was oh-so-cool.

If you do a google search for “moon”, you will get back 347 million results. The results range for this morning’s rare occurrence, to songs and stories about her, to her effects on tides, to her as a theme for a popular video gaming system.

She is everywhere in our cultures.

Luna is part of our past through our legends and mythologies.

She is with us in our present. Scientists will tell us that the moon has absolutely no effect on human behavior or psychology , yet many of us believe it does.   Furthermore, she is a part of inner-most selves.  Some in the psychological field see the moon as a symbol of the unconscious, the feminine principle in our psyches, and even representative of our “shadow” selves.

The moon, according to some, is even a part of our future. She is a part of prophecy.

It would seem that Mistress Moon serves as a conveyor of all that is human.

 

Text and image: ljgloyd (c) 2018

 


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Narrowing the Research to Salem

books-56As I indicated in a recent post, I am exploring some of the genealogical research done by a family member in relation to the American Revolution .  As I stated, I am not so concerned about names and dates so much as I am about who these ancestors were and what they did, and to that end I am searching for primary source material that speaks to their lives in the context of their historical setting.

Last night my research jumped backward even further  in time to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.   I have long known that some of my ancestors were a part of that dismal page of history, and I never really wanted to know what part they played.   But I took a breath and went forward to where the research took me.  To my astonishment and relief, I found out an amazing thing:  The Feltons, my 8th great-grandparents and my 7th great-uncles,  were out-spoken advocates for two of the accused, the Proctors. They were not the finger-pointers that I had feared.

Here is the transcript of a petition they and others in the Salem community signed stating that they did not see any evidence that the Proctors were practicing witchcraft:

Enlarge ManuscriptSWP No. 106.8
(Petition for John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor )

We whose names are under witten havinge several yeares knowne John Procter and his wife do testefy that we never heard or understood that they were ever suspected to be guilty of the crime now charged apon them and several of us being their neare neighbours do testefy that to our aprehension they lived christian life in their famely and were ever ready to helpe such as stood in need of their helpe

Nathaniel Felton sen: and mary his wife
Samuel Marsh and Prescilla his wife
James Houlton and Ruth his wife
John Felton
Nathaniel Felton jun
Samuell Frayll and an his wife
Zachriah Marsh and mary his wife
Samuel Endecott and hanah his wife
Samuell Stone
George Locker
Samuel Gaskil & provided his wife
George Smith
Ed Edward: Gaskile

( Essex County Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 28 ).  Here is the link.

From this pleasing discovery, I have decided to narrow the focus of my research to these people in the context of this historical event, with the goal of possibly writing about them for future publication.

ljgloyd


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Casting About in History

books-56For a couple of months, I have been casting about for a new project to engage.  The reason is that my short story well seems to have gone dry.  There are only so many “woman-has-paranormal-experience-and-reader-wonders-if-she-is-crazy” stories that one can write.   Writing Japanese poetry?  Meh….  And art-making?  My place is already a mess, I don’t need to make it even messier with paint and whatnot.    So what to do?

When I was in high school, I read a lot of James Michener novels.  Recently, I decided that I wanted to re-read The Source which is novel about the history of an archaeological site in Israel.  I have always enjoyed historical novels, though I would probably never write one myself — just too much research involved.  But then again…..  I do have a background in history and I was trained to do research.  When was the last time I engaged in any research?  So am thinking maybe I could at least flex some of my researcher muscles again even though writing may be limited to research notes jotted in my journal.

Ah, but where to start?

Last year a relative shared a list of my ancestors who had served as soldiers during the American Revolution.  (I wrote about this last year).  I don’t actually care so much about names and dates of a genealogy.  I do care about what these people did.   So I am thinking — even if I don’t actually write anything — it would be interesting to see if there are any written records that speak about these individuals.  What can I glean from the historical record?  Who were these people and what part did they play in history?

I don’t know where this will lead.  Like I said, I am not up to writing an epic history about anyone, let alone my ancestors.  But at least for a little while, I will get my lazy creative butt off the couch and into the book stacks.

ljgloyd.


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Resources, Reference, and Inspiration

Spring

“Spring”, Lawrence Alma-Tadema [Dutch, 1836 – 1912], Oil on canvas, 1894

I have always relied upon images seen in museums, art books, or online to jump start my creative impulses.  Because of this, I was so pleased to find out a few days ago that the J.P. Getty Trust is now allowing the download and free use of nearly 5000 high quality digital surrogates of its collection.  The plan is to eventually add more of the Getty collection over time.   Here is what they say on their blog:

Today the Getty becomes an even more engaged digital citizen, one that shares its collections, research, and knowledge more openly than ever before. We’ve launched the Open Content Program to share, freely and without restriction, as many of the Getty’s digital resources as possible….     To read the entire post and access the Open Content collection, go HERE.

 So I am taking advantage of this opportunity and posting one of my favorite paintings in the Getty collection.  It is “Spring” by Dutch/British painter, Lawrence Alma-Tadema. It is a fairly large painting (70 1/4 x 31 1/2 in).  Here is what the Getty says about it:

A procession of women and children descending marble stairs carry and wear brightly colored flowers. Cheering spectators fill the windows and roof of a classical building. Lawrence Alma Tadema here represented the Victorian custom of sending children into the country to collect flowers on the morning of May 1, or May Day, but placed the scene in ancient Rome. In this way, he suggested the festival’s great antiquity through architectural details, dress, sculpture, and even the musical instruments based on Roman originals.  Alma Tadema’s curiosity about the ancient world was insatiable, and the knowledge he acquired was incorporated into over three hundred paintings of ancient archeological and architectural design. He said: “Now if you want to know what those Greeks and Romans looked like, whom you make your masters in language and thought, come to me. For I can show not only what I think but what I know.”   Alma Tadema’s paintings also enjoyed popularity later, when his large panoramic depictions of Greek and Roman life caught the attention of Hollywood. Certain scenes in Cecil B. De Mille’s film Cleopatra (1934) were inspired by the painting Spring.  (See this text HERE)

Each time I go to the Getty, I spend more time with this painting than I do with most of the others.  There is a story in every face in this painting.   This painting alone could generate ideas for several stories.  I could use it as a reference for drawing exercises.  I could excise parts of it for use in a digital constructions. My point here is simple.  You probably already know this, so use this as just a reminder:  Look at what other artists and writers have done and use it as a jumping off point for your own work. If any of the Getty folks are reading this, THANK YOU so much for making your collection available to us.   What a fantastic contribution to creative persons everywhere.  — ljgloyd Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.