Friday, June 29, 2007

The Empress

The Empress card reminds me of Angie and Josiah, both Virgo's. The card is linked with Venus - see the symbol on the throne? And Virgo is supposed to be ruled by the planet Venus as well. There is a plentiful harvest of grain all around the Empress, and she has a beautiful, starry crown on her head. Her gown has pomegranates (again, a symbol of autumn or the harvest) on it. She is calmly in control: kinda maxing and relaxing in her throne, in a beautiful, pastoral setting.

As Virgos they are both typical, in their own ways. One of the funny ways this plays itself out, aside from housekeeping - which is never funny - is in the differences in Josiah's and my favorite church styles.

Josiah, perhaps claiming an affinity for his Finnish heritage, loves the "clean lines" of Finnish Modern design. He's actually an expert on Finnish modern glass and ceramics (don't ask how this mixes with having small children in the house). His favorite churches are those designed by his favorite (Finnish) architects. So, Alvar Aalto's work would be a great example.

I, on the other hand, love the excess of Mexican Colonial "Ultra Baroque". There are great examples of this in Oaxaca. My father describes my fascination as "horror vacui" - and I think that sums up the style of these churches perfectly. Look at the gilt, the angels all over, the floral motifs. Apparently, some of the indigenous workers, when they were forced to build these fantastic buildings, not only recycled the actual stone from the temples which had previously been there, but also worked in some of their own design elements and colors. The red church domes of Mitla are an example of the fusing of the pre- & post- Colonial emphasis on the color red (for blood) in religious sites.

I really love all the blood in Mexican religious art, but that's another story, for another time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Latest Crush

I don't usually post about this kind of stuff, at least so far! But, I Totally have a crush on this guy - David Miliband.

Wow. Hot AND Smart, AND Green!?! What a combo!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The High Priestess

I've been thinking about the Tarot deck a lot since I posted last. I think the "iconography" of tarot cards, and some of the similarities in symbolism, is what got me hooked on religious art too. I love finding, and then recognizing a saint's attributes in an image. Like, the grill for Saint Lawrence. Or the perfume jar for Mary Magdalene. That's what I think "works" in religious art, that the images speak to us on another level.

The High Priestess card is one of my favorites. There is so much balance, both in the image and symbolism. My feeling is that the black and white columns show how morality or decisions between right and wrong are the foundational supports of life. The High Priestess, or we, who are in control of making our own decisions, need to find our way. She's holding a scroll that says "Torah". That can mean the literal Torah, or the Bible, or education (literacy).

The richly-decorated wall hanging behind her shows pomegranates and palms, Mediterranean plants. Could the setting be King Solomon's temple? Pomegranates are also special because they are the symbol of autumn, the time when the Earth sleeps, and harvest happens. The Priestess' crown is made up of the three phases of the moon, another Trinity. And the crescent moon is at the Priestess' feet, touching her beautiful light blue robe, which almost looks like water. I was originally attracted to this card since I am a water sign, and I thought her robe looked like water. Water signs are "supposed" to be more in touch with the intuitive, and the dream world.

The symbolism is just so rich in these cards. In this image, I feel like The Priestess is the one who guides us to a deeper knowledge of ourselves. And since I am a firm believer in dreams or The Symbolic being the key to our unconscious understanding of the world, these images work on us in a different way - on a different level. Moral consciousness supports us, and a rich, deep understanding links us with the unconscious, which, in turn, leads us to the divine. By listening to our conscious and unconscious minds, we can hear God all around us.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pour mes lecteurs d'ailleurs

Je vous remercie, mes lecteurs d’ailleurs!

Je pense souvent à mes années à Nantes. J’étudiais là, et habitais juste à côté de Nôtre Dame du Bon Port. Mais, mon église favorite, c’etait St. Clement, près du cathédrale. A ce temps là j’aimais mieux l’art du Vuillard, Henri Rousseau, et les cartes de Tarots.

Maintenant, j’aperçois qu’il y’a beaucoup d’églises, et sites réligieuses partout en Bretagne, et en France á voir. Pour la prochaine fois que je sois en France, peut-être!

Excusez-moi, mes chèrs lecteurs, si mon français est émerdant. Ça fait une quinzaine d’années que je n’en parlais pas.

Ce beau photo j’ai trouvé à:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Midsummer!

Hard to believe that the longest day of the year is tomorrow! I've figured out how we're going to celebrate St. John's Day. I've got my Finnish flag all ready to fly, and a menu figured out, more or less. I think we'll have fish with a creamy cucumber salad, some potatoes, a berry dessert, with candles and lots of flowers on the table. Sounds nice, doesn't it? I found this citation at an excellent, and well-researched Astrology site, and it explains a lot, enjoy:
St John's Day, June 24:
The Christian Midsummer Festival

June 24, marking the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, is St John's Day, a major Christian Feast. It is one of the "quarter days", signalling the beginning of each quarter of the year and welcoming each of the four seasons.St John the Baptist, baptising Jesus These holidays were communally celebrated during the "Age of Faith", reassigned from already established astrologically-based pagan festivities. The other quarter days are Christmas on December 25, Lady Day (Annunciation) on March 25 and Michaelmas on September 29.

According to the Gospel of Luke, John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus Christ (the great soul that Christians believe to be the Son of God, the redeemer, or messiah). As the forerunner of the messiah, John is a very important saint. Jesus once said of his cousin: "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist" - Matthew 11:11

The birth of Jesus (Christmas) is celebrated in December at the Winter Solstice (the birth of the Sun, as the Sun begins to grow in light) and the Bible indicates that John was born six months before Jesus (Luke 1:26), so his birth celebrates the Summer Solstice, as the Sun begins to diminish in light. John understood that his role was to prepare the way for Christ, and then to step aside. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). This is a clear reference to the
astrological key that, when turned in the lock, opens the door to a deeper understanding of the nature of religion.
And a note about decorations and menu!
In Sweden [presumably Finland too!?], flowers are an important aspect of the Midsummer festival. Girls and women weave wreaths of flowers to wear in their hair for the day. Wreaths or bouquets are traditionally made with seven or nine different types of wildflowers. Homes are similarly decorated: a flower wreath may be hung from the ceiling to bring blessing to the house and a pair of young birch branches put at the front door..... Family and friends get together and feast on pickled herring, boiled potatoes, sour cream, crisp bread, beer and schnapps, followed by strawberries or fresh fruit for dessert.
So, grab a friend, some flowers, head outside, and enjoy the summer evening! I certainly will.

Credit to for the research, their References:

Summer Festivals: St John's Day, Folk Customs of the Carpatho-Rusyns. This is an extensive article and well worth a look.
St John the Baptist, Catholic Online. This is part of a huge resource on Catholicism, with excellent calendars for feast days, saints, patron saints, angels etc.
The Witches' Sabbats, a valuable on line collection of articles by Mike Nichols on the important pagan festivals
J. G. Frazer: The Golden Bough, MacMillan & Co. Ltd, London, 1923
A. Hislop: The Two Babylons, Loizeaux Brothers; 2nd edition (July 1990). Now out of print, see The Two Babylons on line
M. D. Magee Sun Gods as Atoning Saviours an online resource investigating the origins of Christian and Jewish teachings
B. G. Walker: The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Harper & Row, NY 1983
R. Graves: The White Goddess, Faber & Faber, London 1961

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not-so-Secret Weapon - Part II

Back to my drawers.... So, I need help with my tummy, my "pooch" as I call it. It took me a long time, to begin to get it under control, especially post-c-section. And as I explained in Part I I will not surgically remedy this situation. I started doing the "Abs" workout and that did wonders!

But still there is a bulge. And I think there always will be. So, in order to "create the silhouette" that I want, I needed to bring out the Big Guns. Again, I am a cheapskate, so I went to Target and picked up some "girdles." These aren't your grandma's girdles, these are undies with extra control in the tummy area.

I must say, while researching this post, I did learn that girdles are very exciting to a lot of people - collectors and fetishists, historians, etc. It's a little overwhelming.

What I do is wear these undies when I need to see less pooch in my outfit. It makes me feel better about how I look. I use them with or without stockings, but go with control top stockings if I want more flatness in front. I don't perceive this to be cheating.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Meek. Mild. As if."

This image blew me away as soon as I saw it.

It was mentioned in a Harpers Magazine article, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. I clipped the image, and then got in touch with the Churches Advertising Network, in the UK, to try to get original posters. They were very accommodating and sent me a couple. Now I just have to convince Josiah to let me hang them up in our house (they're huge!).

This poster was part of an advertising campaign at Easter in 1999. I love it because it reminds me how radical Jesus' message is. "Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself." Deceptively simple words. The fact that Jesus included so many "outcasts" among his followers is also revolutionary. Tax collectors, women, gentiles, were all among those early followers of Jesus, a Jew. Just eating with them was against Jesus' upbringing. I think about that at communion sometimes.

Jesus was a Revolutionary - he turned everything upside down:
Matthew 5
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [The Beatitudes]

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Not-So-Secret Weapon - Part I

Angie and Josiah are probably mortified that I am talking about my drawers, but there it is. It has to be done - in the name of reclaiming the figure you and I want to have. I want to look as sleek as possible, with some curves, and as always, accentuating the positive.

I learned during the preparations for my wedding, about the importance of what I call, "Foundational Support Undergarments" (FSU). I wore my mom's wedding dress from the 60's which had an empire waist and long a-line skirt. In order for the dress to "look right," for it to look the way it was intended, I needed to flatten my tummy and enhance my bust. I went to the Contessa Corset Shop, and they hooked me up. They measured me, taught me how to put the corset on (though emphasized that on the wedding day I would definitely need help - there were zillions of hooks Angie had to do up!), and how to arrange myself (my breasts) once it was on me.

This experience prepared me for future bra-buying. After my first child was born, my cup size increased considerably, and again with my second. I went back to the Contessa Shop and was re-measured after I was done nursing La Segunda. I bought two bras, which at $50+ apiece, was a bit steep, I thought. They fit correctly for a while, but then, as all bras do, they lost their oomph.

Being the skinflint that I am, I needed to take stock and re-evaluate my priorities. And here they are:
  1. I want to look shapely and good
  2. I don't want to spend huge amounts of money, but will spend what I need to to look good
  3. I will not get plastic surgery to change anything about my figure - so the money I would have spent on that, I can put into FSU's that enhance me
  4. Comfort is a relative thing. If I know I look good, that will make me feel better about myself, than concern over a slight tightness around my ribcage.
  5. Comfort is, however, important, and I do not advocate for suffering. If a bra fits correctly, it should not hurt, but it's ok (in my opinion) to be able to feel it during the day.
  6. Quality is also relative - many more expensive bra's are not necessarily better made.
So, I made a change, I bought 3 enhancing (a.k.a. Padded) bras in different colors that I like at $15 apiece. I have vowed that as soon as they start to loose their strength, I will buy new ones. This might happen as frequently as every 3 months, and that's ok. As we all know, I think the décolletage is important!

N.B. I love how Helen Mirren looks in the movie poster (above) - Hot, right?? But, just for the record, I HATED the film itself. Ugh. So disgusting!