Sunday, March 30, 2014

Careful where you step

'A Countryman came to see an astrologer about a stolen purse, and found the doorstep befouled by human shit. Down came the profound Ass-trologer . . . who opening the door and seeing it in that shitten state, began to execrate and curse those beastly Knaves that did it; vowing if he did not know who did him that nasty trick, he would make them Examples to all such Roagues so long as they liv'd; Nay, quote the Countryman, if he cannot tell who beshit his door, he can as well be hanged as tell me who had my Purse, and so went his way'

- Lillyes Lamentataion, 1652.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

It's the Sydney Royal Show time!

Hi, friends - well, yes, it's vast, fascinating, and simply everything is represented.   Oh, I know you USA darlings have your wonderful State Fairs ( I remember as a young teenager being very envious seeing a lovely movie called State Fair - things were really very dreary in the UK at the time, and oh those pretty frocks that the girls were wearing, and I remember one young man saying how lovely the girls' hair bounced as they walked along. . .)   But here The Royal Sydney Easter Show is special.   Every farm animal  is represented ( I particularly love the alpacas) there's a huge dog show and every kind of fish, bird, cat and unusual pets have their chance to win a prize.   The huge fun fair fills a large area of the site and a trad here is the Show Goodie bag which I think in the past was a freebie - not any more - but the choice of contents varies!    Wood chopping is also very popular!  I am involved in the arts and crafts show  and again it's vast - every craft possible origami, scrap books, modelling ,mosaic, sculpture and of course all kinds of knitting, quilt making, dressmaking  and millinery.  There are hundreds of paintings and quite a lot sell well,also photography. Just to name a very few!   However I'm a hand embroidress ( I think in the States I would say that I majored in Embroidery - including its history.)   It is something I constantly do while the TV is on in the evenings.   I have won two second prizes in previous years and yesterday we took in my this year's effort,  This is my original design of who was the greatest ballet dancer of his time, Vaslav Nikinsky as Petrushka    The sad clown who doesn't get the girl.   A wonderful ballet with music by Stravinsky. Some time I'll show you what did well last year. . .   I have decided that they judges will either like or loathe it - we shall see!

 If  you'd like to read more about this fascinating, brilliant dancer who died in 1948, Derek's biography of him is available for downloading from Amazon Kindle and other sources.
   But back to the show - I must also mention the cakes!   There are scores of different classes, and yesterday the competitors were extremely carefully carrying their exhibits  to be put in  glass cases.    It has a huge agricultural bias of course, and covers the whole of New South Wales    The rivalry between the two main supermarket chains  is amusing as are their displays of whole landscapes made out of fruit and vegetables!The show runs for about ten days or more over the Easter period, and on Tuesday April 8th there a grand exclusive premiere for all the arts and crafts, so I'll let you know how I get on. . .    Incidentally.  Now I  must get back to real work!   Bye for now!  Julia

Is the public a ass?

With a clear blue sky and wonderful early morning night over Mosman Bay I decided to take the recently acquired new little JVC HD camera for a walk, and did a little filming around the harbour and Cremorne point. But, hey damn and blast all camera manufacturers for phasing out the ‘peep-hole’ through which you can frame shots, and replacing it with the folding screen which, the moment there is any kind of light behind you, shows absolutely nothing. This is true of course with still cameras as with ciné. They manufacturers will say, of course, that they are giving the public what it wants, which may or may not be true (if it is, then the public is a ass). How on earth are you supposed to frame shots properly without being able to see the shot you’re framing? There was a great potential shot of a group of about thirty canoe-ers crossing the harbour, but it really needed to be framed properly; of course, with the sun behind me I could see nothing on the blasted, useless screen, so the shot was botched.  At least with some cameras (my small Leica, for instance) you can buy at great extra expense an attachment which provides the ‘peep-hole’, but I don’t think these are available for many miniature ciné cameras, if any. Oh, dear, it does make me angry!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Not so triste

The inaugural Chancellor’s Concert with the orchestra of Sydney Conservatorium on Friday evening. (Huge: 16 first violins, 16 2nd, eight violas,eight cellos, eight double basses, if you please!). Excellent performance of the Brahms fourth, which almost brought the house down, and a very nice excursion into Mozart with the piano concerto (No 20 in D min.) with Steven Lubin as soloist. I must say I sighed a sigh of relief when the big concert grand was wheeled on  I’d feared a forte-piano, since Lubin is a notable exponent of that dreadful instrument – the only advantage of which is that it’s made of wood and can therefore be easily smashed up. Concert opened with the ingratiating Sibelius Valse Triste. Clearly the conductor and chair of conducting, Eduardo Diazmuñoz, has got the whole orchestra well and truly moving. I always love listening to student orchestras anyway, and this is certainly a great one.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chalcedony, hyacinth and sard

What about all those jewellers' lists of 'birthstones'? Are they actually accurate? Well, depends what you mean by 'accurate'. Often, they seem to have been made up by whoever happened to want to prpvde a list - but in any case, the waters are very muddy as far as 'accuracy' is concerned. There are ancient associations between particular stones and the zodiac signs, but they have been altered over the ages, and there's no really reliable list.. The oldest we have seems to been prepared by the German magician, occult writer, theologian, alchemist and astrologer Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa in the 15th century, and it goes: Aries/sardonyx, Taurus/sard, Gemini/topaz, Cancer/chalcedony, Leo/jasper, Virgo/emerald, Libra/beryl, Scorpio/amethyst, Sagittarius/hyacinth, Capricorn/beryl, Aquarius/crystal, Pisces/sapphire. The most 'reliable' modern list, looking at various contemporayr sources, seems to be: Aries/diamond, Taurus/emerald, Gemini/agate, Cancer/pearl, Leo/ruby, Virgo/sardonx, Libra/sapphire, jade; Scorpio/opal, Sagittarius/topaz, Caricorn/turquoise, amethyst, Aquarius/auqamarine, Pisces/moonstone, bloodstone. Just thought you might be interested!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Nell has arrived!

My book about Nell Gwyn and King Charles II stable of other desirable ladies has just been published on the Net, and can be downloaded from Amazon Kindle and elsewhere. Can't resist showing you what I think is a rather tasty jacket! - and just add the blurb for good measure.

When King Charles II was dying, the name of only one of his many mistresses was in his mind and on his lips: that of Nell Gwyn. Born in extreme poverty, forced to become a child prostitute, she went on the stage and became the most popular actress of the time until Charles took her into his bed, where her beauty, wit and liveliness made her in the end preferable to his other many mistresses, who were either common prostitutes found for him in the bawdy-houses or on the streets by the royal pimp, William Chiffinch, or were would-be grand ladies such as the English Barbara Villiers, the French Louise de Kéroüalle and the Italian beauty Hortense Mancini, eager to use their position to interfere in politics. Charles took all of them to bed with great enthusiasm, but it was Nelly who he loved as much as he was capable of love. Unlike the others, she knew her place – when her coachman fought a fellow who called her a whore, she rebuked him: that, she said, was after all what she was. She flattered no-one – even giving the King a piece of her mind when she pleased. When she died, some years after the King, she was given a grand funeral, the sermon preached by a future Archbishop of Canterbury. No court in modern history has been as scandalously dissolute as that of Charles II, and the story of the king and his mistresses is engrossingly outrageous. The heroine, however – and who would deny her that title – is pretty, witty Nell.

I've been thinking about pirouettes - and other Astrological things!

Hi   Everyone - dancers in particular!   There are those amongst us who have no problems with pirouettes as they throw themselves confidently into multiple turns after a sensible preparation.. Watching programmes like 'So You Think You Can Dance'  these spectacular steps seem more and more to becoming the norm - which is marvelous; however most dancers have at least one movement which causes problems and mine was indeed the dreaded pirouette.   Anything more than a double, and yours truly was in trouble!  Recently I've been talking about and do a little work on them with a dancer who has had to stop work with the Australian Ballet to recover  from a back injury.   According to my wonderful  late teacher - Andrew Hardie - it is a question of coping with the pressures of gravity, so the taller you are the more you have to work.  (A beautiful, tall dancer from the Royal Ballet was above average height and could only manage doubles).  But I've had a psychological line of thought.  I always found en dedans easier than en dehors.   When performing en dedans the dancer is turning towards his or  her body - and is perhaps psychologically in a sort of protective mode -  she or he may feel safer, though not consciously  realizing it. Whereas in the en dehors movement the dancer is coping with the 'great out there' - the unknown' if you like -  and so is vulnerable. It's actually expressing in movement introversion and extroversion. If you go along with  this possibility, give it some thought - it could bring a new perspective to  help you resolve a pirouette problem  - that is if you have one!

And now for something quite different!
 Astrological tip for Pisces and Virgo types!

Until about the 5th of April  Mercury is traveling through Pisces.    Good for you, Pisces!  The chances are that you'll have at least one really inspired and brilliant idea, so don't shelve it but don't rush into expressing it prematurely.   Think it through and you'll not go far wrong.  But remember that generally you can be somewhat forgetful especially when being inspired by other thoughts!  As for you Virgos,  you can get help from Mercury but it's possible  that you might find yourselves getting a bit impatient or in something of a tizz, so you need to cool it - something not easy for you busy-busy types, but if you go in for steady planning you'll get help from Mercury too, as he is the ruling planet of Virgo anyway.    Puzzled because I'm only talking to Pisces and Virgo types? Hang about a bit your turn will come and I'll soon explain soon  so that everybody will know why I chose these two signs today!

I don't Pellieve it

I can't imagine hat a great number of lay Catholics in Australia retain much respect or affection for Cardinal George Pell, and the spectacle of him wriggling and squirming and blaming everyone but himself at the Enquiry into Sex Abuse in Sydney seems unlikely to have restored him to general esteem. There may somewhere in the world be a Cardinal who has done more to damage the reputation of the Church among his local flock, but it is difficult at the moment to put a finger on him (for once one needn't add 'or her'). The surprising, even perhaps appalling thing is that the Vatican has placed him almost second to the Pope in its hierarchy; while he is undoubtedly clever with money - clever, one might say almost to a fault in having persuaded the Church to support him in spending millions on luxurious apartments in Rome while denying it to the victims of abuse in Australia, it's surely not clever of the Vatican to confirm his promotion at a time when were he in a senior position in any respectable or well-run firm he would by now either have been sent abroad as local manager of a small store in Northern Canada, or asked for his resignation. I must say that if I were inclined to join the Catholic church, it's not a club is very attractive which at the moment.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The first computer astrology

‘Alan Leo’ was the pseudonym of William Frederick Alan, who was born in 1860 to a mother who was a member of the extremely puritanical Plymouth Brethren and a father who deserted the family when William was nine. After getting involved with the Theosophical Society in London, Alan changed his name by need poll to Alan Leo, and became the first really popular English astrologer for some centuries. He started The Astrologer’s Magazine, and with his wife Bessie set up a postal consultation service, inventing what was the basis of modern popular computer astrology by bringing together a number of separate sheets of paper each of which dealt with one aspect of the applicant’s birth-chart, stapling them together and sending them off. There was no attempt at synthesis (at least modern computers attempt this), but people loved the result, and the Leos made a fortune. In April 1914 Leo was arrested and tried ‘for that he did unlawfully pretend to tell fortunes and deceive and impose on’ a detective who had been set out to trap him. The charge was dismissed, but later he was tried again under the Vagrancy Act, with the notorious advocate Travers Humphreys acting for the Director of Public Prosecutions. He was convicted and fined five pounds. Some of his astrological textbooks are still in print.

Friday, March 21, 2014

'and now . . . zzzzzz'

Did your dogs go mad at the turn of the Equinox? Our two spent the entire night yelling and screaming and bumping about - I got up at 1.30 a.m., then at 3, 4, and 4.30 to try to settle them down. Julia said, 'Not surprised - it's the equinox.' Well, mmm? But then I mentioned it to someone else, and they said, 'Equinox.' So maybe there's something in it. Anyway, I was not at my chirpiest next day, and actually fell asleep in the Fine Music studio while I was presenting Morning Concert - in the middle of a Dvorak symphony! (Sorry,  Antonin - not the music, honestly.) Fortunately it was only for half a minute, I suppose - but slightly worrying.  There might have been a long, long silence punctuated only by the occasional zzzz zzzz.

It's the Equinox

Hello Bloggers. Yes, that's right, it is the Equinox -  Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere Autumn in the Southern!   But most importantly for all astrology buffs and probably a lot of other folk too this is a New Year's Day.   It is the day in the year when the Sun, as seen from earth enters the first sign of the Zodiac.   It heralds Spring is with you Northerners and for us Autumn is on the way. Certainly deciduous trees here in Sydney and beyond are turning into autumn colours, but the indigenous trees are evergreen which are in the majority, so those vast flurries of glorious tints of' the fall don't amaze  us so forcibly as it does in the States and Canada. There again, in the UK, because our trees tend to loose their leaves at somewhat different times we don't get such an impact!  
By the way, did your dogs go mad? - often happens on the day of the equinox.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Especially for Aries

Two short poems from our Aries book in the series Poems of Love and Life for Aries, available in bookshops or for downloading.

My heart was so free . . .

My heart was so free
It roved like the bee
'Till Polly my passion requited;
I sipped each flower,
I changed every hour,
But here every flower is united.

- John Gay

In explanation

Her lips were so near
That - what else could I do?You'll be angry, I fear.
But her lips were so near -
Well, I can't make it clear,
Or explain it to you.
But - her lips were so near
That - what could I do?

- Walter Learned.

For more on Aries, see

ARIES as it was - and good luck with the ringworms!

William Lilly on ARIES

Qualities of the Sign Aries   Is a Masculine, Diurnal Sign, movable, Cardinall, Equinoctiall; in nature fiery, hot and dry, cholericke, bestial, luxurious, intemperate and violent: the diurnall house of Mars, of the Fierie Triplicity, and of the East.

Diseases   All Whelkes, Pimples in the Face, small Pocks, hare Lips, Polyps, Ringwormes, Falling-sickness, Apoplexies, Megrims, Tooth-ach and Baldnesse.

Places Aries Signifieth   Where Sheep and small Cattle doe feed or use to be, sandy and hilly Grounds, a place of refuge for Theeves (as some unfrequented place); in Houses, the Covering, Seeling or Plastering of it, a Stable of small Beasts, Lands newly taken in, or newly plowed, or where Bricks have been burned or Lyme.

Shape and Description   A dry Body, not exceeding in height, leane or spare, but lusty Bones, and the party in his Lineaments strong; the Visage long; black Eyebrows, a long Neck, thick Shoulders, the Complexion dusky browne or swarthie.

Kingdoms, Countries and Cities subject to Aries   Germany, Burgundy, France, England, Denmark, Silesia the higher, Judea, Syria.   Florence, Capua, Naples, Ferrara, Verona, Utrecht, Marseilles, Augusta, Caeserea, Padua, Bergamo.

-          William Lilly, Christian Astrology (1647)