Friday, 27 August 2021

Birthday celebration weekend!

 Is it really almost the end of August already?

August has been another really busy month for me in getting my garden in much better shape than it was before. I've toiled (like Beathan below) and freed lots of persistent weeds and rough grass that grows regardless that it's not really wanted in those particular borders. And in my writing, I've made more progress with the prequel to the Celtic Fervour Series. 


But since it's now the 27th August 2021, it's the beginning of a big celebration weekend! Beathan the Brigante has now passed the 'one year since published' mark and you'll find that it's #FREE across the Amazon network 27th, 28th and 29th Aug 2021! Click HERE to get that copy. 

August has also been quite a popular publishing month for me during my writing career, so I've added an extra bonus and also made The Beltane Choice FREE this weekend. 

Enjoy the reads. 

p.s If you've read the stories already, why not pass the information to a friend who might like to read exciting historical fiction set in Roman Britain?

Slàinte! 





Wednesday, 4 August 2021

July Blooms on my Facebook page!

My garden progresses! 

It's now August the 4th after a very busy gardening month during July.  Although I didn't post here on the blog at all during July, I had a special feature every day on my Facebook page. I posted a different photo of blooms from my garden every day, starting July 1st right through to 31st. The blooms were randomly chosen for their colour, their performance, whether they had been newly planted or were reliable very old favourites. 

July 1st.
July 1st blooms were a mixture, newly planted in a flat tub resting on a slice of my recently-hewn-down silver birch tree. The tree was far too big to keep in my urban garden but a few slices of it, used as bases for pots, are good reminder of my lovely tree. 

Here is a small selection of my favourite July photos. 

July 15th- a new little Dianthus. 




July 22nd- a Marguerite/Daisy variety 


July 30th - a woodland scene with what I called a Buddleia but is probably a Rose Spirea, a plant inherited when I moved in to the house and garden many years ago. 



July 31st.- This year's hanging baskets which I stuffed full of mixed Lobelia, Geraniums and Fuchsias. 



The sun is shining- again - and I could very easily get used to this really great weather - but I have lots of writing to do today.

Enjoy your reading...
Slàinthe!

Historical Times launches!

Good morning Wednesday! 

Though I did very little new writing during July, I was involved in creating an article for a brand new online magazine called Historical Times. The first edition was featuring Romans so when I had to opportunity to become a guest author participant, I jumped at the chance. 

I decided my feature would be about the Ancient Roman encampments in north-east Scotland, focusing on the fact that many of these temporary camps were known and mapped around 200 years ago by enthusiasts who worked in the teams organised by William Roy during the late 1700s and early 1800s. 

The new Historical Times magazine with interactive features is beautifully produced and is contributed to by some of the most popular authors in the Roman history genre. It's currently FREE to become a subscriber and I heartily recommend that you join. You'll find that the access information to each edition will pop into your email inbox and you can read the entire magazine - including my article. 

The Facebook link is HERE to join and keep up-to-date with information 

The Website link is HERE where you'll find the 'SIGN-UP' form:
 https://www.historicaltimes.org


Enjoy the read...

Slàinthe!

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

#Polytunnel paranoia!

Time waits for no man...nor for me! 

The diary of THE polytunnel! Be warned- Grab a drink because this is a long blog post. 

I have good excuses for my recent blog silence, even if only justifiable to me. I've willingly spent months toiling away during the day in my garden, contrasted with brain-dead evenings when all I've been fit for was binge watching some great series' via Amazon Prime video. (Nicolas le Floch was most enjoyable and I'm now watching a WW1 series about ANZAC nurses.) 

Polytunnel preparation! 
I am, however, very delighted with my garden makeover results. It took a couple of months of sheer mindless effort, a dollop of cash, but thankfully no actual tears. Now approaching my biblical year of three score and ten, anything that exercises unused muscles comes to me at an aching price and pre-dinner muscle-relaxing baths have been the norm. Bath-time was also a great half-hour to catch up with reading my online newspaper on my phone and keeping up with politics! 

My main garden make-over involved installing a 6 x 12 feet polytunnel, the polytunnel type chosen in the hope that one with polythene sides, buried more than 40 cm deep, will withstand stronger wind gusts and will not be wrecked, or fly away, during a heavy storm.  My part of Aberdeenshire, Scotland,  has experienced a lot more windy days these last few years and climate change indicators are such that increasingly damaging storms are more likely to occur than we've had during decades gone past. To my utter and naïve surprise, when I researched polycarbonate-glazed greenhouses most can only be guaranteed by the manufacturer up to wind speeds of 59 mph - even when the metal structure is bolted down onto a concrete base. 

After quite a deliberation, I ordered a 6 x 12 feet polytunnel which I hope will survive a bit longer, well buried and with a weighty border of paving slabs to further anchor the structure.  

Construction began. My daughter and her husband did the building of the frame, with me holding the bags of screws and nails. (In return, I helped a little with their new polytunnel which is a humungous one- approx. 14 x 60 feet!) It’s worth noting that the polytunnel framework can be constructed on a cold and slightly windy day but not the actual polythene cover. That had to wait for a suitable time, i.e. almost no wind and help who were not working at weekends.

My polytunnel was ordered from ‘First Tunnels’ on 25th Feb 2021. I also ordered wood to create staging, and 40x40cm slabs to create pathways up the centre of the polytunnel and around the outside. 

A challenging site
Preparing the polytunnel site began at the very end Feb 2021. What had been grass (actually more moss than grass), with a large oval bed in it, sloped down about 20 degrees to the south, with a slighter slope to the east. Ideally, it would probably have been easier to hire a small excavator to dig up the whole site before levelling it but access for even a small vehicle wasn't possible. 

Levelling off 
I removed some of the turf at the north end of the plot to fill in the oval bed and to level off the 6 x 12 feet needed for the polytunnel. Removing turf is a tedious, heavy job but on a positive note it meant I could create a rectangular vegetable space at the northern end which is now my 'tattie' bed. (potatoes) Having marked out the site with string, I dug the trenches to either side of where the hoops would be embedded. The 'Plantex' groundsheet material went down into place and was secured temporarily with the large staples provided and some slabs to anchor it down. I then left the ground to settle. 

Paving slabs!
The wood for the staging and the slabs arrived within days of ordering, followed by the polytunnel items which came much quicker than I had anticipated (about 10 days). Much more exciting than digging up turf was opening the boxes and checking that all the components had arrived. I give more than 5 stars to First Tunnels because the order was faultless and was so well organised in very well labelled pieces, bags of screws etc. The packing list enclosed was so easy to use for checking! The slight downside was the bits had to be housed in my hallway for weeks till they were needed. 

Well-labelled components
My joinery skills are very basic but the wood for my staging was cut, holes drilled and screwed together during a couple of afternoon sessions. 

2 completed staging benches! 
In addition to the garden work being done outside, I sowed lots of vegetable seeds and raised them in my dining room: tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, courgettes, herbs and some flower seeds like dahlias and geraniums.  

Then came the day that my 'help' was available to get the polytunnel frame constructed. The nominated day was clear but only about 5 Deg C, so working outside was pretty cool. 
Polytunnel frame installation 
The framework had to stay like the above photo for the following weeks till a suitable opportunity arose for getting the plastic cover on. That didn't mean I could get back to my desk immediately because I had lots of other outside work planned. 

Montbretia choking my lavender
What had been a lavender hedge had been taken over by crocosmia bulbs. I love my Montbretia variety but it's such a vigorous grower it had to be stripped out of two long beds during early March. That was backbreaking work over the best part of a week. I removed about 16 large bags worth of unwanted bulbs. Having advertised the bulbs FREE to local people, I managed to donate only 1 bagful. The remainder went to the garden recycling centre. 


Excavated Montbretia bulbs
Other garden improvements/changes were made to one enormous silver birch tree that was more than 60 feet in height and around 50 years old; three large holly trees; and one rowan that could possibly be a couple of hundred years old. I adored the silver birch but it was becoming a height hazard every time we had high winds and too dangerous because of the proximity of the neighbouring  houses. Tackling the trees was work for professional tree surgeons. The hollies were drastically reduced in size and given a re-shaping and the birch was removed to ground level (sob, sob). That work was done by a crew of three men over 3 different days. I'm delighted with the holly improvements but I'm still feeling highly guilty about having to remove my lovely silver birch. 
2 of the holly trees before pruning 
(1 variegated and 1 not)  
and one silver birch
Normal weeding and splitting plants too large for their containers took up some time, as did potting up my old chimney pots that were replaced last year. The 6 cracked but very decorative chimney pots are now strategically dotted around and look fantastic. Potatoes and other vegetable seeds were popped into the veggie beds and then came the day the plastic cover went onto the polytunnel frame. 
Polytunnel plastic cover in situ!

The inside path was laid, the landscaping around it came next. That took weeks and lots of effort. Removing the grass and moss from the whole area was essential, since I don't want any of it to surprise me in the coming years by re-growing through the breathable groundcover that went below the slabs and granite chips! Backbreaking stuff, riddling out the moss and grass clumps, but after days of effort I had my new vegetable beds created to both sides of the polytunnel and bordered with heavy wooden beams. Thankfully my electric jig-saw blade was sufficiently wide to saw the pieces, when necessary, to fit the spaces.  
Wooden edging going in-
my potato tubers now well sprouted!

A proud moment when I finished the rectangular bed
that was levelled on that  slight slope! 



Vegetable seeds and onion sets now growing nicely
in the beds created last year

Finished! 
From this angle it looks like a huge sparse space but it's not really. A few more strategically placed tubs will round the space off nicely. I'll have to see what the garden centre might have to fit the bill! 

Tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes
growing well
My capsicum peppers didn't survive the move from the dining room out to the polytunnel, poor root growth, so I now have new seedlings on the left hand staging along with various herbs. 

And to enjoy sitting outside to write during July and August, I spent two days double-varnishing my outside table set so that I can appreciate my lovely summer garden. 

Varnish does the trick! 

I now intend to post loads of colourful plants photos of my garden beauties- on here and on my Facebook page. 

Is it rest time yet? Yes- but only after the weekly weeding session that is absolutely necessary (still battling with horsetail weed). The watering and feeding when it is dry. Oh, and thinning out my carrot, kale, beetroot...you name it seedlings that are growing nicely. 

And in timely Wimbledon fashion, my strawberries are just beginning to turn red! 

Updates to follow... on the produce. 

Slàinthe! 

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

The Corsican Widow is BOTM at Ocelot Press!

 

Good Morning! 

The sun is shining in my part of the world, has been for a few days, which makes is so much easier to imagine being at the beautiful location that my very good Ocelot Press author friend - Vanessa Couchman- is talking about today! 


Her novel The Corsican Widow is Book of the Month for June at Ocelot Press. It's a super story that I can readily recommend to you, if you've not already read it.

Welcome to the blog today, Vanessa, it's lovely to have you visit again! 

Just for fun, Vanessa's given us some interesting facts that we might not know about the island. I've been to a few Mediterranean islands, though not Corsica so it's a lovely wee challenge for me. I wonder how many you might know of?

Over to you, Vanessa...

Fun facts about Corsica

I have visited the Mediterranean island of Corsica six times, and I was hooked from the very first visit! The island has a fascinating history and culture and has inspired me to write historical novels and short stories set there.

Here are 10 facts you might not know about Corsica.

1.  Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, after Cyprus (1st), Sardinia (2nd) and Sicily (3rd).

2. This mountainous island has 20 peaks that are higher than 2,000 m (c. 6,500 ft). The highest of all is Monte Cinto at 2,706 m (nearly 9,000 ft).

courtesy - Vanessa Couchman
Nancy says: Those peaks are so jaggedly impressive!

3. One of the most challenging long-distance hiking trails in Europe, the GR20, runs from the Northwest to the Southeast of the island.

4.  Corsica is French, although geographically closer to Italy. The Corsicans rebelled against their Genoese rulers in the 18th century and established an independent republic in 1755 under Pasquale Paoli. Genoa called in French military help but ran up a huge debt and ceded Corsica to France in 1768 against repayment of the debt within 10 years. It was unable to repay it, and Corsica became French.

5. Corsica once had a king, a German adventurer named Theodor van Neuhof. He arrived in March 1736 during the Corsican rebellion against Genoa, promising money and foreign support. His promises were empty, and he fled in November, having reigned for only eight months.

6.  Corsica belonged briefly to Britain, 1794-96, and King George III appointed a Viceroy, Sir Gilbert Elliot. Britain had few resources to invest in Corsica and abandoned the turbulent and faction-ridden island in 1796.

7.   Captain (later Admiral) Horatio Nelson lost the use of his right eye on 10th July 1794 during the British and Corsican siege of Calvi, a French-held fortress.

Calvi- Citadelle

8.  François Coty, the founder of the Coty perfume empire, now worth $9 bn, was born in Ajaccio, Corsica’s main town, in 1894.

Ajaccio- Old Town

Nancy: I loved Coty l' Aimant when I was a teenager. It was a popular perfume that was inexpensive and affordable!

9.  Corsica provides ideal conditions for winemaking, producing about 49 million bottles per year. 80% of the production is consumed on Corsica or in France.

10. The conditions are also ideal for growing citrus fruits, including a giant variety of lemon, the cedrat, which can be up to 25 cm (c. 10 in) long and weigh up to 4 kg (8.8 lb). It’s mostly used for jam-making.



The Corsican Widow is Book 2 in the Tales of Corsica series and is set mainly on Corsica and also partly in the French port of Marseille. The story takes place during the mid-late 18th century, a time of great upheaval for the Corsican people. A young woman must fight her own battles against the strict rules of Corsican society.

The Corsican Widow is available in Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon. It is also available in paperback from many bookstores and online retailers, including Bookshop org, Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository.  

Vanessa has lived in Southwest France since 1997 and is a self-confessed history nut. Quirky true stories often find their way into her fiction, and she likes nothing more than pottering around ruined châteaux or exploring the lesser-known byways of France. She is very attached to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which has provided the inspiration for some of her novels and short stories.

The Tales of Corsica series are standalone novels set in the same house on the island: The Corsican Widow (18th century) and The House at Zaronza (early 20th century) are published so far.

Vanessa is also writing a trilogy set in France between 1880 and 1945.

Sign up to Vanessa’s monthly newsletter for book news, background info about France and Corsica and book recommendations and get two free Corsica stories.

Amazon author page: http://author.to/VanessaCouchman

Website: https://vanessacouchmanwriter.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vanessacouchman.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Vanessainfrance

Thank you for the facts today, Vanessa. I vaguely remember some of the naval aspects about Corsica from the British History course I learned at secondary school.

Best wishes with The Corsican Widow as Book of the Month for June at Ocelot Press.  

Slàinthe!

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Ambarvalia!

Ambarvalia festival 29th May-sometimes!

Ambarvalia- Suovetaurilia sacrifice

The Ancient Roman Ambarvalia festival seems to have been one that was dependent on the year being an even or an odd one and the actual date dependent on which district and part of Italy. On even years it may have been held on the 17th, 19th or 20th and on odd years it was likely to have been the 27th, 29th or 30th May. In the countryside, it was an immovable feast day (feriae stative). There are a number of classical references to Ambarvalia e.g. Vergil; Cato; Strabo but the scholarly interpretations provide some ambiguity and differences of opinion over what may have happened.

Ceres- Vatican Museums

In honour of Ceres and Dea Dia the Ambarvalia was a Roman agricultural fertility rite which purified the crops. Ceres was the goddess of agriculture, fertility, grains, the harvest, motherhood, the earth, and cultivated crops. Dea Dia was the goddess of fertility and growth, sometimes named the ‘Bright goddess’ or the ‘goddess of Daylight’. 

The Ambarvalia could be a private or a public affair.

The private celebrations related to the farms outside Rome where the pater familias led the ceremony. A suovetaurilia sacrifice was conducted after a bull, a sow and a sheep had been led three times around the field boundaries, the servants and field hands singing and dancing in praise of Ceres. Offerings to Ceres could be milk, honey and wine.  The name Ambarvalia may have come from the verb ambiō ‘I go around’, and arvum meaning field.

The public Ambarvalia ceremonies were held around the city boundaries. The 12 fratres arvales (Arval priests) led a procession of the citizens who owned lands and vineyards around Rome. The ambervale carmen (poem/song) was chanted.

(See information on Fratres Arvales and suovetaurilia elsewhere in this blog)

Happy ambarvalia and happy reading! 

Slàinte!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ambarvalia_Sacrifice_relief_by_Alberto_Pisa_(1905).jpg

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ceres_Vatican.JPG



Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Fortuna Primigenia

This is my second post for today but it's actually a day late and should have been done yesterday, the 25th May! 

May 25th was the day named in honour of the goddess Fortuna Primigenia. Fortuna, like many of the 12 main deities, came in many different disguises and on May 25th as Fortuna Primigenia she was revered as the ‘first mother’.

Fortuna - British Museum

Said to be the first-born offspring of Jupiter, Fortuna is often depicted carrying a cornucopia (a horn of plenty) though may also be seen bearing a gubernaculum (a ship’s rudder) or a Rota Fortunae, a ball or wheel of fortune.

The comments on the above statue are interesting but not unique. She carries a cornucopia but the gubernaculum is no longer attached to her fist. The head may have been replaced at some time in the past and may not have been the original for the body.  

Blind Fortuna- Tadeusz Kuntze 

She seems to have brought both good and bad luck and may also be represented as veiled and blind. Fortuna brings no balance and as a goddess of fate the result could be of a whimsical nature.

There were many temples, altars and dedications to Fortuna but as Fortuna Primigenia the most impressive sanctuary was said to have been at Praeneste where a small boy was used to make a selection from various possible futures that were written on oak rods. I just hope that the lad made good choices which satisfied the oracle at the temple in Praeneste.

There’s an abundance of statues and dedications to Fortuna to illustrate this post but since my character Governor/ General Agricola (Celtic Fervour Series Books 4 & 5) believes that Fortuna has abandoned him, I’m going to highlight some wonderful remains found in Scotland.

Fortuna- found at Castlecary
Hunterian Museum, Glasgow

In approx. AD 80, Agricolan forces built a Roman Temporary Camp at a place called Castlecary (near Cumbernauld, Central Scotland) when Agricola was fortifying the territory between the Rivers Clyde and Forth. Some of those Agricolan defences/ sites were later used in the building of the Antonine Wall some 60 years later (AD 140’s), a number of the original camps or small wooden forts,  as at Castlecary, later enlarged to house around 1000 men.

Fortuna-found at Castlecary

Skip forward many centuries to when the Forth and Clyde Canal was built in approx. 1769.  The remains of a bathhouse with a hypocaust system was uncovered, and evidence found for other buildings. Small objects were found along with a wonderful alter dedicated to the goddess Fortuna. Unfortunately, the excavations were not properly conducted in the way archaeologists would do nowadays, so it’s likely artefacts were damaged during the process. Subsequent excavations in 1902, under stricter circumstances, were undertaken and additional remains were uncovered.

Some of the artefacts can be viewed at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow University. I visited the museum decades ago when I was a student, but at the time knew very little about the Roman occupation of Scotland. During another more recent visit, in approx. 2013, I was again amazed at the artefacts on show, but was still unable at that time to fully appreciate the finds from the decades of Roman occupation of Scotland. I’ve learned a lot since then and can now ‘fill in the gaps’ in my knowledge much better. 

Happy Reading! I'm off to do more research...

Slàinte! 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:British_Museum_Fortuna_statue.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tadeusz_Kuntze_001.jpg

Strong Women of Early Roman Britain

Welcome to Wednesday's first post for today! 

I'm over at my lovely Ocelot Press friend Vanessa Couchman's blog talking about strong women of the Late Iron Age/ Early Roman Britain era. This is the last blog post of my mini series in celebration of The Beltane Choice being Book of the Month at Ocelot Press. 

Join us, and if possible, answer some of my questions...

Please click HERE 



Slàinte!

Sunday, 23 May 2021

The Vulcanalia!

May 23rd was the day of the Vulcanalia, in honour of the god Vulcan.

Vulcan 

Vulcan was the god of good (beneficial) fires and also of destructive ones (conflagrations; volcanic; and earthquake fires). His portfolio was very large and he must have been a very busy god. He was also the god of: metal working, the manufacturer of art, arms, iron, and jewellery. He was the protector of armour for various gods and heroes, including the thunderbolts of Jupiter. He was also the patron god of those who used ovens – e.g. bakers and pastry makers.

Vulcan’s Greek counterpart was Hephaestus, and he was associated with the Etruscan god Sethlans. In all of those early religions, the god was an explanation for early natural events that the scientific knowledge of only came very much later on e.g. volcanic eruptions; earthquakes and massive forest conflagrations.

The Arch of Severus and the adjacent Vulcan shrine 

The oldest shrine to Vulcan in Rome,  the Vulcanal, was possibly situated at the foot of the Capitoline Hill (later built-over with the current buildings we know of as the Roman forum) which at the time of inception was likely to have been outside the city limits, important since fire spread so devastatingly quickly. There may also have been a shrine of some sort on the site of the Campus Martius.

Vulcan was also seen as a powerful male fertility symbol and placating him was important for crops to grow healthily and be successfully reaped and stored, before the main summer heat dried up the land. By importuning Vulcan’s blessings, the inhabitants of Rome hoped their food stocks would survive to feed them during the coming months.

As patron of the fire of the house hearth, Vulcan brought warmth, protection and sustenance to the household. During the Vulcanalia, festival bonfires were created which gave the inhabitants of Rome some symbolic empowerment over the control of beneficial fires, and maybe even of potentially destructive ones. Small animals or fish were thrown into the flames as ‘personal’ sacrifices.

On May 23rd there was also a Tubilustrium festival to Vulcan, as the god who was responsible for the making of the sacred war trumpets (tubas). The Salii (those12 youths, the dancing and leaping priests that I’ve written about before), sacrificed a female lamb before parading and dancing around the streets of Rome. (The Hall of the Shoemakers may have been the venue).

The Last day of Pompeii

After the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, and the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79,  Emperor Domitian (reigned from 81-96 A.D) instructed that a new altar be commissioned to Vulcan on the Quirinal Hill. As a new addition to the Vulcanalia festival, Domitian decreed that a red bull (calf) and a red boar should also be sacrificed.

There are many other stories about the birth of Vulcan, what he looked like, who he married etc but they need another whole blog entry which can be for another day on another year!

Enjoy your Sunday reading. 

 Slàinte!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Karl_Brullov_-_The_Last_Day_of_Pompeii_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volcanal_001.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vulcan_-_Thorvaldsens_Museum_-_DSC08559.JPG


Friday, 21 May 2021

Agonalia and Vejovis!

Happy Friday Greetings to you! 

I'm writing about even more of those Ancient Roman festivals in May, specifically the 21st May- Festivals of Agonalia and the May festival in honour of Vejovis.

 Agonalia

There were four Agonaliae Roman festivals during the year, the other three being on 9 January, 17 March and 11 December.

The reasons for the festival are largely unknown, and are highly disputed, but it seem to have dated back to the earliest Roman eras, possibly to the reign of Numa Pompilius, second King of Rome. The festival dates named above are seen on very ancient Roman calendars and the sacrifice may have been held on the Quirinal Hill (originally called the Agonus) at the Colline Gate (Agonensis).


Held in the Regia (the House of the king) it indicated the sacrifices were to the highest deities and were for the good of the whole of the state. In the historical period, the Regia was at the top of the Via Sacra. This would have been close to the location of the Arch of Titus at the SE end of the Roman Forum that we can visit today.

The rex sacrificus (sacrorum) sacrificed a ram, the usual offering for the guardian gods of the state.

Note: The 17th of March was the Agonium Martiale- alongside the Liberalia festival held in preparation for the beginning of the war/campaign season.

 The Vejovis sacrifices

The 21st May was also one of the celebratory days in honour of Vejovis, an ancient god probably of Etruscan origin. Vejovis was portrayed as a young man holding 3 arrows, spears or thunderbolts in his right hand and accompanied by a goat (she-goat). A god of healing, he was associated with Asclepius (Greek).

Republican denarius showing Vejovis on the left. 

There was a temple dedicated to him between the two peaks of the Capitoline Hill.

There are potentially darker aspects to Vejovis but since not enough information is verified, I leave it to readers to decide whether he was an anti-Jove or not, or a 'bad' god associated with devastating volcanic eruptions. Was he from the underworld, or not? Back to cause mayhem?  Interesting questions. 

A female sheep was the usual sacrifice to Vejovis, again performed by the rex sacrificus.

Till more of the Ancient Roman festivals in May- take care. 

Slàinte!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

I'm interviewed at Sue Barnard's Blog!

Happy Thursday! 

I'm being interviewed at my lovely Ocelot Press friend Sue Barnard's blog, today! 


Click the link HERE and see if there are any surprises for you regarding me... and my writing. Where am I desperate to visit? 

Slàinte! 



Monday, 17 May 2021

Nara from The Beltane choice is out visiting!

Hello, it's a great Monday for me! 


As of today in my part of Scotland, it's a good time to be visiting, since some Covid 19 restrictions have been lifted. A nice cup of coffee and a chat is on the cards for lots of people who haven't till now been able to visit the homes of family, or friends.

However, for Nara from The Beltane Choice, a virtual visit is fine and dandy and she's out today at the blog of my very lovely Ocelot Press friend Jen Wilson during a very mini-blog tour to celebrate The Beltane Choice being Book of the Month at Ocelot Press. 

Nara is a tiny bit unnerved to have travelled from AD 71 to 2021 but is very excited to find out what life is now like. 

You can read her interview at Jen's blog  HERE.

Nara's a curious, highly competent young woman and she would love you to pop in to meet her. 

My thanks to Jen for hosting us today! 

Slàinte! 

5* review for After Whorl Donning Double Cloaks.

Happy Monday!

the sun is occasionally shining here today but that doesn't matter because what follows warms me beautifully. 

Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series, After Whorl donning Double Cloaks  recently gained 5* review. 

My thanks go to DF Davies who reviewed it on Amazon UK. 

 "A good continuation of the battles for Britain, the various Celtic tribes and the legions of Roman. A fight for survival as tribe after tribe are subjugated, their harvests being claimed to feed the forces and the captured peoples made into slaves, male and female. Bran (Brennus) and Ineda each doing their part in passing on information in a bid to battle Agricola and his desire to put all of Britain under the thumb of Rome. A good read."

Now I need to write more of my prequel to the Celtic Fervour series! 

Slàinte! 


Saturday, 15 May 2021

Happy Mercuralia!

Happy Mercuralia! 

Today is also the Ides of May. You’ve probably heard of the Ides of March but there was an ‘ides’ in the middle of every Roman month and landed on the 13th or the 15th, depending on how many days were in the month. [15th for those of 31 days]

Hermes (Mercury)

Tradition has it that the temple of Mercury on the Aventine Hill in Rome was dedicated in 495 B.C. Mercury is associated with the Greek god Hermes and as such is said to have been the son of the goddess Maia and the god Jupiter. The Mercuralia festival on May 15 was in honour of both Mercury and Maia. And Jupiter got in on the act too, since the ides of May was a day that was dedicated to Jupiter. [Read below for more about Jupiter] 

Mercury had an amazing portfolio! He was the god of communication, merchants & commerce, financial gain, eloquence, messages, travellers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves. Merchants sprinkled their heads, their ships & their goods with water from the Porta Capena well, the water also known as aqua mercurii. In addition to praying for good fortune, profit and forgiveness for past misdeeds, they also ‘mercurially’ prayed for the continued ability to hoodwink their customers! The word merchant is likely to have developed from the root of the word Mercury.

I love the casual, insouciant pose in the frieze below! 

 

Mercury

Being the messenger of the gods, Mercury wears a winged helmet and sandals. He carries a caduceus – a herald’s magical winged staff with two serpents twined around it. Mercury is sometimes represented as holding a satchel/ purse, symbolic of his business functions. The caduceus symbol is associated with messengers in general and is probably much older than even Mercury is. Mercury’s wings – boots, helmet and staff – allowed him to travel swiftly between the upper and lower realms. That made him extremely special since he could be in the land of the living but could also guide the dead to the ‘underworld’ below.  

Mercury was a whimsical god not always trustworthy! He is compared in that respect to the Celtic god Lugh who was also a bit of a trickster and not to taken at face value.

Mercury, the scientific chemical element used to be called quicksilver, slick and slithery like the god Mercury was sometimes said to be. Mercury’s scientific symbol is Hg (from hydrargyrum/ water-silver). The element Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room-temperature, becoming solid at minus 39 deg. C.

In former centuries mercury was used in the hat making process and the gradual poisoning it created was said to drive the hat makers mad, as in Lewis Carrol’s Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.


Ovid’s version of the Mercuralia  states that merchants would go to a spring sacred to Mercury by the Porta Capena. With their tunics drawn up they gathered the sacred water into a sterilised jar. They then soaked a laurel bough in it and doused everything they had for sale. The merchants also sprinkled their hair and uttered a prayer – something like “grant me profit, grant joy in the profit made, and make cheating the buyer a pleasure".

 Added extra for the 15th May!

15th May is also the Roman Festival of the Argei. At the ceremony of the Argei , 27 human-shaped bundles of rushes were carried counter-clockwise by the Vestal Virgins throughout Rome in a procession. The bundles were probably a later substitute for a much earlier human sacrifice. The Vestals eventually threw the Argei bundles into the River Tiber from the bridge of the Sublicius, symbolically bringing harmony and balance to the city.

And we come back to Jupiter! 

Jupiter 

On the ides of the month, a white lamb was led along the Via Sacra to the Capitolium where it was sacrificed to Jupiter. 

As the god of light, the skies and weather, Jupiter was the protector of the ancient Roman state. Lightning strikes to any place were sacred to him. His main festivals were held of March 15th, May 15th, and October 15th, though there were many other festivals to him on other days.  Jupiter's sacred stone is topaz, and his sacred colour is white. His priests wore white clothes, the animals sacrificed were usually also white. 

Jupiter was worshipped in many forms:

 (I'm adding them here as a reference for later...) 

Jupiter Capitolinus: "Jupiter of the Capital" -- part of the Capitoline Triad. The Ludi Romani were dedicated to him, and his festival took place on September 13th.

Jupiter Conservator Orbis: "Jupiter, Savior of the World"

Jupiter Custos: "Jupiter the Custodian"

Jupiter Dapalis: god of boundries

Jupiter Dolichenus: the very popular Roman fusion of Jupiter and Doliche. He is associated with Baal.

Jupiter Elicius: god of thunder and rainfall

Jupiter Feretrius: his symbol is the oak tree.

Jupiter Fulgor / Fulgurator: god who threw lighting and thunderbolts. His festival is on October 7th.

Jupiter Heliopolitanus: "Jupiter of Heliopolis"

Jupiter Imperator: "Jupiter the Commander" -- his statue from Praeneste was set up in Rome between the temples of Minerva and Jupiter

Jupiter Invictus: "Jupiter the Unconquered" -- his festival is on June 13th.

Jupiter Lapis: "Jupiter of the Stone" -- god of lightning. Stones used to make oaths on are sacred to him.

Jupiter Latialis/Latiaris: "Jupiter Latinum" -- the protector of the Latins. His festival is the Feriae Latinae.

Jupiter Liber: god of creativity. His festival is on September 1st.

Jupiter Libertas: his festival was held on April 13th

Jupiter Lucetius: "Jupiter, Bringer of Light" -- his consort is Juno Lucetia

Jupiter Opitulus: "Jupiter the Helper"

Jupiter Optimus Maximus: "Jupiter the Best and Greatest" -- This version of Jupiter is the chief god of the Romans. His consort is Juno Regina, and his main festival is on September 13th.

Jupiter Pistor: "Jupiter the Baker" -- god of bakers

Jupiter Pluvius: god of rain

Jupiter Praedator: "Predatory Jupiter" -- spoils of war are dedicated to him -- he decides who loses and gains the spoils of war

Jupiter Prodigalis: a god of destinies

Jupiter Propugnator: "Jupiter the Champion"

Jupiter Stator: "Jupiter, Stayer of the Rout" -- This version of Jupiter helped people, especially soldiers, stand their ground. His festivals were held on June 27th and September 5th.

Jupiter Tonans: "Jupiter the Thunderer"

Jupiter Tonitrualis: "Jupiter the Thunderer"

Jupiter Triumphator: "Jupiter the Strong" -- he is shown crowned by a laurel wreath

Jupiter Victor: "Victorious Jupiter" -- his festival was held on April 13th.

In art, Jupiter is sometimes depicted with a spoked wheel.

He was a very busy god! 

Slàinte!

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amsterdam_Royal_Palace_2747_(cropped).jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S03_06_01_020_image_2551.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hermes_Ingenui_Pio-Clementino_Inv544.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giove,_I_sec_dc,_con_parti_simulanti_il_bronzo_moderne_02.JPG

Information drawn from a number of internet sources. 

Friday, 14 May 2021

Mars Invictus Festival May 14th

The festival of Mars Invictus – Mars the Unconquerable – was on the 14th May.

Yes- there are even more Ancient Roman festivals to cover in May! 

Mars Ultor - Capitoline Museum

By the early 3rd Century B.C. Mars in the Invictus form was established. By the time of the onset of the Imperial period, many other deities were worshipped in a similar form, e.g. Sol Invictus. Mars the Invictus, unconquerable and invincible, divine epithet forms appeared on stone inscriptions; coins and other graphic materials.

Mars, as one of Rome’s principal deities, was a god of war, boundaries but also of agriculture. Healing and protection were assigned to him and many creatures were sacred to Mars. There were many places dedicated to him, formal temples and informal shrines and there was an altar to Mars in the Campus Martius in Rome. The month of March was named after him but festivals to Mars were quite frequent and occurred throughout the year. The Flamen Martialis were his dedicated priests and they were permitted to sacrifice a bull to him [a bull could only be sacrificed to Mars, Apollo and Neptune]. Sometimes the Flamen Martialis went a little over the top and sacrificed more than one animal e.g. a bull, a ram and a boar in the same ceremony.

As was customary in Celtic lands which were absorbed into the Roman Empire, the name of a god or goddess might be double-barrelled to reflect a syncretic form [e.g. Sulis Minerva in Roman Britain], or the attributes of the gods or goddesses were conflated with Celtic deities or revered animals. As such, wolves and woodpeckers were sacred to Mars, as were fig trees and oak trees. 

Mars is often represented as a warrior with a shield and spear, items which were also sacred to him, though representations of Mars can vary tremendously. Here's a rather tongue in cheek Mars at rest by Diego Velazquez that's in the Prado Museum in Spain, painted in 1640. 

Mars at Rest- D. Velazquez 

 

And there are many examples of paintings with Mars and Venus. The amazingly well-restored one below was at the House of Mars and Venus in Pompeii, an indication of possibilities in that particular establishment? 


Pompeii

Other epithets were given to Mars:

 Mars Ultor - Mars the Avenger

Mars Caturix - Mars, King of Combat

Mars Gravidus - Mars the Marcher

Mars Alator - Mars the Huntsman

Mars Condatis - Mars of the Confluence - a Celtic version of Mars as a god of healing.

Mars Pater / Marpiter - Mars the Father - the month of March is sacred to him, and March 1st was considered to be his birthday.

Mars Quirinus - a peaceful aspect of Mars

Meanwhile, I wish you happy reading! 

Slàinte! 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Resting

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mars_and_Venus_MAN_Napoli_Inv9248.jpg