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Witch Hunt

rebecca_nurse_salem_witch_trials_by-freeland-a-carter-artist-public-domain-via-wikimedia-commons_promo

 

The witch hunt is on:
 
Not for
 
But by
 
The witches.
 
I know of what I speak
Being
A descendant
Of a witch
– Mary Eastey –
(also spelled Esty, Easty, Estey)
 
Executed
(hanged, not burned)
By the good
& pious folk
(Christians all)
Of
Salem, Mass.
 
[I put in “Mass” so
those life-hating Puritan folk
Gnash their teeth
And burn,
A little brighter
In Hell.]
 
{And I add
… ’cause it tickles my
Fancy…
That 19 years later
Mary’s husband
received £20
of compensation.}
 
Praise The Lord
 
The witches
(ready, aye, ready)
Now seek their
justified
retribution
against those with
the stench
of self-serving
Morality
upon
their breath.
 
BEWARE!
[Image} https//:www.biography.com/.image/t_share/MTUwMTQyNDY2ODExNTA0MTg4/rebecca_nurse_salem_witch_trials_by-freeland-a-carter-artist-public-domain-via-wikimedia-commons_promo.jpg

 

Author Interview w/ CBC

cbc_logo_1958-1966

 

1. What unique challenges do you face when writing about serious
non-fiction issues such as religion?

I WRITE about spiritual matters and leave religion to others. The spirit and its quests drive religion – religion just interprets. The biggest challenge I faced in THE ELEPHANT TALKS TO GOD is that the Elephant started asking questions I could not answer. Thus endeth the book.

2. You wrote The Elephant Talks to God in 1989. Why did you decide to
re-release it with the added stories rather than write a sequel?

THIS WAS the decision of the publisher, Goose Lane. When they approached me for a re-issue they were unaware of the additional stories. It was decided the marketplace would prefer one longer book over two shorter ones. Having just one book also reduced production costs, which in turn reduced consumer cost.

3. Why did you decide to become a writer?

“I WAS born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” This quote from Leonard Cohen sums it up. Not “born” this way exactly, but within one month in grade eleven I went from ‘no writing’ to ‘continually writing’. I have no explanation. I had no previous interest nor inclination toward the arts, or writing. I was not a reader, and only after university deliberately read such children’s classics as Black Beauty and Alice in Wonderland.

4. What books or authors have most influenced your life?

POSSIBLY P.G. WODEHOUSE was the most influential author in my formative period. I even sent him a fan letter and received a response. In university I experienced Franz Kafka, and I believe I have read everything of his in print. Much later I visited Prague to research a novel I have since written about him. There are reports of ‘missing’ stories and diaries of Kafka still in Berlin, which I would dearly love to find.

5. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good
writing?

SURPRISE, HUMOUR and reality. ‘In context’ (it doesn’t matter what the genre) I want to be surprised by what is happening, yet fully believe in the reality created in the book. And somewhere, at least once, every character in every novel should make me laugh at least once.

6. What are you reading right now?

“WICKED” BY Gregory Maguire. His abilities as a writer astound me. I am a slow reader, and seemingly getting slower. Soon (?) to be read will be Alice Munro’s “The View from Castle Rock ” and John LeCarre’s “The Mission Song”, both requested Christmas presents. I also do a lot of research for my novels, and will embark upon histories of China in the near future.

7. What advice would you give to writers starting out?

I HAVE two steadfast rules, one put into rhyme. “When in doubt/take it out.” Regardless of the wonder of the poetic line, or the awe of the slice of dialogue, if you have any questions about its effectiveness, that is reason enough to remove it.
The other concerns the physical writing itself. At the end of your writing day, and you know what the next line of dialogue is, or the description you are going to write, or the next line of the poem – DON”T write them down. Start with them the next day, and you will quickly get back into the writing. I find this works 90% of the time.

8. Describe your writing process.

I’M A morning writer, roughly from 9:00 until 15:00. There’s a meal in there, and research and email and such, but I will generally complete two pages a day. I generally write seven or eight days straight and then take one off. At the start of a novel I have a well developed outline and characters, though I rarely write such things down. I find that at the end of a novel I spend an additional third of the writing time editing what is done. I usually complete a novel in two years.

9. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome
it?

THREE MONTHS of writer’s block during my second novel has (so far) been my experience with this curse (knock knock knock on wood). I sat at the desk literally for hours per day attempting to continue. I think I wrote five paragraphs in that time. I know of no way to overcome it other than attempting to write each day. My number two tip in question #7 will help in avoiding writer’s block.

10. Naturally, most writer want as many people as possible to read
their work. Who did you have in mind when you were writing this book,
the “believers” or the “non-believers”?

BRITISH PUBLISHER Joseph Dent introduced “Everyman’s Library” in the early 1900’s (which is now published by Random House UK). As my mother was from England and my father was a proud UEL, there were many of these books when I was growing up. Everyman’s Library had a motto at the beginning of each book: “Everyman, I will go with thee/and be thy guide,/ in thy most need/ to go by thy side.”
This is what came to mind when thinking of who I write for. I did not write for either believers or non-believers. I wrote for everyone, and my job is to make them both accept that the The Elephant believes. 

The Elephant Talks To God

Gimme That Old Time Religion & Eschew Born Again Christians

facebook-give-me-that-old-time-religion-5d295f

So it has come to this.

A mindless voice with mindless tune singing softly in the dark.

My friend, I promise you,  on such a night even the sages are locked babbling in their rooms.

You think me mad?

“Well, my boyze.” (I talk in my best W.C. Fields voice).

“Well, my boyze. I had a hen who could lay a Golden Calf. And this weird guy – Moses was his name – yass. This Mo-zaz threw these stone tablets – threw, I say – these stone tablets on my hen, and killed her.

Feathers everywhere.

And I asked him – I said to him – hey, Mo-zaz, why did you flatten my hen and make the feathers fly?

And he said to me – can you believe this – he said to me:

‘W. C., I was damn hungry.’

And I knew –  my little chickadee, my little bottom-soft dumpling –   I knew from that moment, that the man was not sincere.”

[mage]  https://pics.me.me/Facebook-Give-me-that-old-time-religion-5d295f.png

The Celts Reach Past Samhain To Halloween

jack_turnip
This morning, on a regional radio show, the host told us – with surprise – that he recently learned the folk in Newfoundland & Labrador hollow out, and carve faces on, turnips for Halloween, instead of (or, in addition to) doing so with pumpkins. Had he pursued this knowledge further, he would have found that the ancient Celts, who created the original Samhain from which the Christian All Hallows (Halloween) comes, did this very same thing.

I don’t know if I have any direct connection to the Celts. My Scottish grandmother had an ancestor who was classed as a “Herb Doctor”, well versed in the healing ways of nature. Oddly (very oddly) I have such a character in my first published novel,  A LostTale, dealing with the Celts and Druids and their supernatural ways. I wrote it long before I knew of my “Herb Doctor” ancestor. In my novel, she is just referred to as “The Old Woman”.
I have another odd connection to the Celts. During the Second World War, my father guarded Stonehenge. And he did so on Midsummer Day.

During the Second World War, it was feared that Germany would invade England. Many of the Canadian soldiers stationed in England were spread in a wide circle around London. An outright invasion would be a do-or-die situation, and Canadian soldiers had it been known to them – without direct orders – that no prisoners were to be taken.

One of the areas put under guard was Stonehenge. Though less so now, at that time Stonehenge was surrounded by vast planes. It was feared that the Germans might use these open areas for paratroopers, and also gliders full of troops. Thus the area was defended.

My father was part of this protection, and it so happened that he stood guard duty near Stonehenge itself on Midsummer Day, and watched the sun rise over the monument. He was aware of the significance of both time and place, as many of his comrades might not be. Indeed, when he informed them that the Celts, at one time, sacrificed virgins on altars at Stonehenge, they expressed – in more earthy soldier language – what a waste.

Though I have not been to Stonehenge itself, I have written three novels about Celts and Druids, one of them set during World War Two. I’m happy to believe that, in the supernatural realm, there is some ethereal connection.

With Halloween upon us, and it having become a major festival in the last few decades, let us give thanks were thanks is due. With some grudging recognition to the Christians.

[Image]  z.bp.blogspot.com/-PyK4hGSbA9w/Umf_tzo39ZI/AAAAAAAAAb0/EoM1vWXqAd8/s1600/Jack_turnip.jpg

Mother And Son In Thirteenth Century Europe

episode-of-the-child-crusade

Exercpt from: China Lily

Matzerath’s mother rarely shared her thoughts with anyone. She is as elusive now as when he was a small boy being raised within the shadow of the religious buildings where she still works as a cook. Bishops and abbots come and go, and red-robed Princes of the Church make their visits, for which she must dress appropriately – but she remains. At least Matzerath assumes she is still there, though he has not been back for five years.

Matzerath is small in stature and taken to be younger than he is. At thirteen he is treated as seven. He allows this because he finds there are more advantages then penalties. He knows far more than is expected of him, and avoids many pitfalls through the guile no one expects he has. He also achieves more than is expected from him, and is given much leeway for a child. Had his real age been obvious, he would be perceived as dim-witted. Because he is thought of as a child, he is considered gifted.

Matzerath’s mother is aware of how her son is tolerated – she even encourages his guile. He is treated better than most children, whose father is absent months at a time sailing the North Sea.

Matzerath is also getting an education of sorts, which is generally restricted to the children of nobles and the wealthy. He has learned how to read and write, along with the rudiments of mathematics and geography. He also pokes his nose into the stables, and the smithy, and the carpenters, picking up their basic skills.

He follows his own mother with interest, and can chose, prepare and present many of the dishes she serves at the Monastery. For the notables at the cathedral, and other clergy, she is expected to produce more sophisticated fare. Matzerath has even acquired some of these skills, but a puny child is forbidden to appear near the high table. He does get to nibble the leavings but notes – as he also does at the Monastery – that very little is ever left.

Matzerath would have been content to stay in this arduous life seasoned with episodes of interest and learning, but his elusive nature is discovered by a visiting bishop.

The Bishop is a militant with evangelical frenzy. He is intent upon forming a Children’s Crusade to march to the Holy Land. Matzerath is not sure what this means, though he gathers it will offer an opportunity to leave the confines of the town and local villages where he has spent his life. His mother is better informed.

Even though the last Children’s Crusade happened generations ago, and the Church proclaims it was a wondrous act for the Glory of God, she is fully aware that most of the children never came back. And that the Holy Land is still lost to the grip of heathens. The murmurs from the Monastery and the high table reveal this bishop to be a renegade and unsound in judgment. His ‘new’ crusade is predicted to be a disaster. His abilities to lead it are a joke. However, he does have the ear of the Pope, and his family has much wealth to give to the Church.

Matzerath does not possess an abundant affection for his mother – not for anyone – but he realizes that regardless of the amount of work she extracts from him, she generally does what is best for him. He pays attention to her instructions and her observations and her warnings. She also encourages him to tell her what he sees and hears. As he becomes older, she also wants to know what he thinks about the things he sees. Matzerath realizes she is using him as a spy, but he does not mind. He knows his mother sometimes manipulates the information he brings for her own well-being, but these rewards also come to him.

Matzerath heeds the warnings his mother gives about some of the priests and monks and their interest in boys. He discovers this himself upon a couple of occasions, and even satisfies one priest just to see what it is like. He shares this with his mother because he knows she sometimes does the same.

DE

(image)http://www.ancient-origins.net/sites/default/files/Episode-of-the-Child-Crusade.jpg

Jesus And Naked Women On The Bus

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~~ Bernardino LuiniNursing Madonna

Sometimes, when you read a novel, you come across a described incident you know just has to be true, because even the most inventive author could not make it up.

I will now describe an encounter I had on a five hour bus trip one weekend. It was a fairly full bus. I assumed my tenure of being able to sit by myself would not last the whole time.

In this I proved correct.

At a ten minutes stop, which allowed me to get off and stretch my legs, I returned to find a fellow in the seat beside me.

Early twenties, a tall, thin, white male with a head of blond dreadlocks. He was also dressed totally in white, and expressed surprise my seat was taken (though I had left my knapsack upon it).

Three minutes after the bus leaves, even before we are out of town and on the highway, he asks:

Are you a Christian?”

This – generally – is not a positive ice-breaker.

I replied ‘more-or-less’, which set him aback.

Asking me what I meant, I said that many people classing themselves as Christians do not follow the teachings of Christ as I understand them, so one man’s Christian can be another man’s Antichrist.

He – surprisingly – agreed.

I confess to being monosyllabic in my responses to his religious-oriented questions, which he spread out over the next hour. He might have had an evangelical intent, but he was not insistent. He did, during his disjointed discourse, relate that he was an ‘art student’. He had some of his drawings in his backpack – might I want to see them?

I demurred.

He expressed no displeasure.

He did ask some other routine questions among his religious comments.

Finding I was a writer he (of course) relayed a dream which would “…make a great story or book.” He planned to write it some day.

He asked after my books. I expected some unwanted enthusiasm when I mentioned The Elephant Talks To God. However, after ascertaining they were ‘short stories’ and that the title was ‘To God’ and not ‘With God’ (which I now ponder might have been a more accurate title) he did not pursue the point, other than to find out if he could purchase the book.

I assured him that he could, over the internet and on Kindle. He did not know what Kindle was.

While sitting beside me he had discussions (I interpreted) with God of his own. He did engage in heated (though muted) conversations with no one visibly present. Indeed, upon occasion, he seemed surprised at some of the comments he ‘heard’.

It was in the midst of this type of behaviour, and related to nothing I said, that he turned to me to relate this brief tale. A tale no author can make up.

He described how once he was staying with his girlfriend in Montreal. An apartment he bet he could still find if given the time.

One afternoon, God instructed him to draw a picture of Christ upon a wall. The only pigment he had was his girlfriend’s nail polish. And, upon the wall (guided, you must accept, by God’s hand) he drew The Christ with the head of Alvin-the-Chipmunk. And wearing an Alvin-the-Chipmunk red tunic, which was often (he said) the colour of the clothes that medieval painters gave Christ.

About ten minutes before we came into the stop where we would part company, he started to engage two ladies across the aisle in conversation.

He used much the same patter (though no Christian talk) that he had used with me. It turned out they were interested in seeing his drawings. He began to unroll a tight wad of papers (about the length of a roll of paper towels), ready to reach them across the aisle.

I glanced.

They were of nude women.

Not poorly done, neither.

DE

(image)https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/60/69/79/606979adceefe25101617d5567b0d894.jpg

The Seeds Of Halloween

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Halloween [All Saint’s Eve] has been imposed upon the Celtic festival of Samhain. That’s what the Christians did as they replaced other religions. Keep all the good bits and call it something else. In my novel, A Lost Gospel, Druids and the Celts go one better. They have to make sure that Yeshua [Jesus] gets crucified.

The following is a portion of the first chapter of A Lost Gospel, edited for clarification.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Segment from  A Lost Gospel:

It was a Sorcerer’s moon.

At least that is what the boatmen called it, and they feared travelling under its light. It gave false hope in the fog, disappearing just when it promised to show the way. And when it emerged again, it was only to reveal the distance the foundering sailors would have to swim.

“We can’t go in this, Head Druid.”

“No, Ogma. We can’t.”

“I don’t concern myself with the things you deal with, Head Druid.” Ogma stared into the fog before he continued. “You plot and plan.

You tell me our voyage will affect the world for thousands of years.” He laughed again. “You may be right, or you may get visions from the ale.”

“There isn’t drink strong enough to show me what I’ve seen.”

“None of us doubt you.” Ogma’s voice became lower. “You tell me what to do – and I do it. But I can’t do my job if I begin to worry about what might happen.”

“It isn’t that simple.”

“For me it is.” Ogma took a couple of steps closer to Cowin.

“You’d pull the oars alone, if you had to.” The Head Druid’s voice was less tense. “I don’t know if that’s single-minded, or simple-minded.”

“This might prove no worse than sailing around the island.” Ogma debated whether or not he should be insulted by Cowin’s last comment. “Going around the north tip of The Isle of Man is like going to the end of nowhere. We do it often.”

 

“That’s right enough.” Cowin turned his back to the water. “We add some days to our usual voyages, and we can reach Europe.” His voice became animated. “And after we arrive in the Alps, we won’t be travelling alone.”

“What do we know of these Mountain people?” Ogma turned abruptly from the sea. “We should stick to our own kind.”

“Do you need things repeated into your ears time after time?” The Head Druid was quickly annoyed.

“Perhaps.” Ogma pulled his cloak against the damp.

“What is it you want to be told again?”

“How are we supposed to kill a God?” Ogma’s voice rose as the words spilled out. “And why do we go to this place called Jerusalem to do it?” He leaned toward the other man. “And in this giant heathen encampment, how will we find one man named Yeshua?”

“We’ll know these answers when we get to Jerusalem.” Cowin’s voice betrayed his impatience. “We’ll get there with the help of these mountain people.” Cowin bent down to speak directly into the little man’s ear. “And they are our own kind. They’re Druids, and they join us with their unicorn.”

“The beasts.” Ogma shook his head. “One is trouble enough.”

“We need their woman, Glarus. She was with this god when he was born.”

“Why didn’t she smother him then?”

“Because it was not the time!” Cowin stared at the smaller man. “You’ve heard the oracles. You’ve seen the signs. You know the way the unicorn behaves. This Yeshua must die only when he is a man – and we must make certain that the man dies.”

“A God which is a man. A God which is able to die.” Ogma’s voice rose. “And you ask why I don’t understand.”

“Our own gods decree this change.”

The Head Druid made a cutting motion with his hand to show the discussion was over, but Ogma ignored him.

“These are not our beliefs.” Ogma moved his own hands in an agitated manner. “You mix us together with strangers, then cast us into the oven of Jerusalem to bake with Romans and Jews.” He shook his head empathically. “I’m more than willing to die, Head Druid – but for something which makes sense.”

“If you will die for our ways and beliefs, consider the glory of a God who accepts to die.”

“Such a God would be dead.”

“Ogma.” Cowin forced himself to be patient. “We go to a wondrous place when we die. And it is most glorious to go through the Door of Death if we die for a valiant cause.” The Head Druid grabbed the small man’s shoulder, his voice no longer controlled. “Try to imagine where a God must go, once he is dead. How magnificent it will be. How powerful that God will become. Greater than any of the Gods we know.”

“A dead God greater than our Gods which live?” Ogma was silent for a long time, surprised by Cowin’s fervour.

“Much greater.” Cowin nodded his head.

“You talk like the Oracles, who speak of thoughts I don’t understand.” Ogma suddenly laughed, and slapped the Head Druid on the back. “But if this Yeshua becomes more powerful than our gods, it is wise to get on his good side.” Ogma grinned broadly. “I’ll be glad to kill him myself.”

“We don’t raise a hand.” The Head Druid walked away from the shore. “We make certain that the Romans nail him on their tree.”

“What?” Ogma hurried to catch Cowin. “We trap this Yeshua, and do the dirty work of the fucking Romans?” He grabbed the sleeve of the other man’s tunic, and forced him to stop. “I won’t help those dogs.”

“You’ll do what’s necessary.” The Head Druid waited until the small man loosened his grip. “We join these other people, and we do this job.”

“A slave’s job.”

“We deliver nobody to the damned Romans.” Cowin resumed his brisk walk. “We help the woman Glarus get to Jerusalem, and she makes Yeshua deliver himself.”

“Yeshua is to surrender to the Romans?”

“Yes.”

“What real man gives up?”

“Ogma.” The Head Druid paused to look closely at his companion. “The reason you can never lead the Council, is that you don’t see past the end of your sword.”

DE

(image)https://secure.static.tumblr.com/bb62cf3a73c3175c5273d07845e61917/6kzsitn/yDEno3nja/tumblr_static_tumblr_static_c2f9vxf6tnkkgsg0sokwocgkc_640.jpg

The Amazing Grace Of Old Time Religion

tablets

So it has come to this.

A mindless voice with mindless tune singing softly in the dark.

My friend, I promise you,  on such a night even the sages are locked babbling in their rooms.

You think me mad?

“Well, my boyze.” (I talk in my best W.C. Fields voice).

“Well, my boyze. I had a hen who could lay a Golden Calf. And this weird guy – Moses was his name – yass. This Mo-zaz threw these stone tablets – threw, I say – these stone tablets on my hen, and killed her.

Feathers everywhere.

And I asked him – I said to him – hey, Mo-zaz, why did you flatten my hen and make the feathers fly?

And he said to me – can you believe this – he said to me:

‘W. C., I was damn hungry.’

And I knew –  my little chickadee, my little bottom-soft dumpling –   I knew from that moment, that the man was not sincere.”

DE

(image) http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/tablets.jpg

Church And Hymns And The Call To God On A Sunday Night

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(image) http://catalogue.novascotia.com/ManagedMedia/7999.JPG

An evening church service is a favourite of mine – even as a child. However, it has fallen out of favour and is no longer regularly offered.

Trusty Google helped me find one last Sunday. Not only an Evensong, but a Choral Evensong. And not only choral, but it was dedicated as a Remembrance Evensong. I was coming in, out of the cold, in style.

It was held in St. George’s Church – also know as the Round Church for its shape. www.roundchurch.ca

I had been in the church as a tourist, but not for years. A 5pm service in November got me there at dusk. It is a large church, complete with upper balconies. It is close in proximity to the Halifax naval yard, and I wondered if there would be some military presence. As it was, an officer in uniform read a lesson, while a military chaplain gave the sermon.

Not having been to an Evensong for decades, I don’t know if it was a large or small congregation. My guess is there were thirty or so people present, plus 10 in the choir, plus 2 ministers, 1 verger and the organist/choir director.

I would say that Evensong is a modified Morning service, perhaps more fitting for the time of day. In addition to a choral choir singing selections on their own, there were hymns that are favourites of mine. “Oh God, Our Help In Ages Past”  “Abide With Me” and three (3) stanzas of “God Save The Queen”. How close to heaven can one monarchist get?

As an added surprise (which would have made my father ecstatic) it was a High Church Anglican church, and even had incense. Perhaps that explained the choral choir.

At the end, after the procession had left, the large and booming organ belted out a selection by César Franck – Pièce Héroïque“. Members of the choir returned and sat in pews to listen.

When it was completed and people started to leave, I had a tiny ageist and sexist lapse. Two little, white-haired ladies got out of their pew to leave. Walking slowly before me, they talked of the music. I thought they were going to complain about the (admittedly) lengthy organ recital.

“Oh, that music,” said one.

“Yes,” said the other, nodding.

“It’s one of my favourite pieces.”

“I know what you mean.”

DE

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