England’s Heritage in Photos: Swinstead Church of Saint Mary, Lincolnshire – More Medieval Wall Art

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Swinstead lies in the beautiful south west Lincolnshire in the east of England.

Interestingly, in Shakespeare’s play King John, Swinstead is mentioned several times, maybe in mistake for Swineshead, where King John is thought to have visited on his last journey, before he died at Newark in Nottinghamshire.

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Like nearby Corby Glen church, there are some examples of medieval wall art.

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There is an explanation for the symbols incorporated into the wall art.

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copyright words and photos Francis Barker 2019

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England’s Heritage in Photos: Edenham Church, Lincolnshire – Wonderful Tombs

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The village of Edenham in south west Lincolnshire has a beautiful church dedicated to Saint Michael and All Angels.

My grandfather was born and brought up in a nearby hamlet.

Within the grounds are some wonderful tombs of local aristocratic families.

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copyright words and pictures Francis Barker 2019

Poem: The Church Is Closed

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It’s Sunday and the west door is locked.
I’ve tried it, checked my watch, the date.
Yes it’s true, I can’t go inside.
So I walk around, a facade, that’s all it is,
tall and beautiful it may be,
with some of the finest medieval stone work anywhere,
in a county already noted for its
ecclesiastical glories – but
it’s a fossil now of former faith,
where lip services are still carried out,
fed through the waterless canals of devotion,
enacted by the tired words of priests
standing before a withered congregation,
the last one leaving making sure the door
is locked behind them
to preserve the emptiness of our time

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Beautiful Medieval Wall Art, Castor Church, near Peterborough, England

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We recently visited the beautiful church of Saint Kyneburgha, near Peterborough in the English midlands.

The church stands beautifully on a hill, on the site of an old Roman settlement and palace.

In fact, the name of Castor is derived directly from the Roman/Latin name for a fort or castle. This village is situated near to an important Roman settlement called Durobrivae, or Water Newton in Egnlish, just a few miles west of present day city of Peterborough.

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The church is noted for its surviving medieval wall art. Before the Reformation in the 16th century, all churches had such wall art, which was then whitewashed over. More recently, as in this example above, some of these illustrations have been revealed during restoration.

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Castor church’s appellation is Saint Kyneburgha, who was the daughter of King Penda of Mercia, the last pagan king of that English kingdom in the midlands.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

The Brilliance of Britten: Astrology Musings, Neptune inspires again

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Photo by Simon Clayton on Pexels.com

One of England’s greatest composers, Benjamin Britten composed some of the most memorable music of the 20th century.

So let’s take a quick look at his birth chart. He has Cancer rising, with a wide Mars Neptune conjunction near the ascending degree, the latter being closely trine his Sun and a retrograde Mercury on either side of the Scorpio/Sagittarius cusp. Sounds complicated?

Inspirational Neptune

As I have noted before, Neptune is very often prominent in some way in the charts of creative artists and composers.

I suspect this is the source of much inspiration. Britten was from Lowestoft in Suffolk in the east of England, he was brought up by the sea and had a strong connection to it. One of his most famous pieces, the opera ‘Peter Grimes’ was inspired by this.

Emotional force

Neptune in Cancer in his first house symbolises this, with the added emotional force of Mars, which may have been difficult to control at times.

In my own mind, I equate that wonderful sound in music of the rolling waves releasing on the beach from the ‘Four Sea Interludes‘ of ‘Peter Grimes’, to the Neptune Mars in Cancer conjunction. It’s beautiful, imaginative, and slightly disquieting. Neptune’s supportive connection to the Sun will give him further innate sensitivity.

Retrograde Mercury thinking out of the box

I am also interested by the Sun conjunct a retrograde Mercury bestriding the Scorpio Sagittarius cusp, in houses 5 and 6.

It’s almost like a confusion of identity here, where the mental processes are turned more inwardly, unusually, and ‘out of the box’, and where the sense of self (the Sun in last minute of Scorpio) is always looking beyond but never quite getting there.

In some sense this may have been another prime reason for him becoming a composer and musician, in that the challenges of expressing thought conventionally with the retrograde Mercury, can be given over to creative, musical inspiration, expressed through ways alluded to above.

Strong attachment to roots

Mars is also ruler of houses 5 and 10, giving much energetic support and a link between his creativity and career path. And it is interesting to note that he was a fine conductor and pianist too.

His ruler, the Moon, is in Virgo in house 3 but very close to the Nadir of the chart, trine to Jupiter. He clearly has a strong emotional connection to his roots, probably his mother, and he never lost that sense of ‘belonging’ to the Suffolk coast.

However, in Virgo the Moon is quite fastidious, supported by a more circumspect Jupiter in Capricorn, a quality which will certainly help the art of putting all that inspiration from Neptune down on paper.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Book Review: ‘The Sirius Mystery’ by Robert K. G. Temple

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Was this planet really visited by space travellers from the star Sirius in the ancient past?

This is the question posed by author Robert K. G. Temple. His book, ‘The Sirius Mystery’ (Futura 1977) is another of my favourite books from yesteryear. I remember the day I bought it, in a train station, the arresting cover drawing me to it. I still thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in the possibility of ‘ancient aliens’ and human culture in general.

It’s a complicated book that you have to persist with, though it’s well worth it, and this paperback has very small type, which these days would not add to the reading enjoyment. Nevertheless, although several decades old now, it’s still in very good condition. I’m kind of good with books that way.

Sophisticated

The starting point of the book is that it seems the Dogon tribe of Mali (former French Sudan) in west Africa, have sophisticated astronomical knowledge of the star Sirius, which is in fact a binary star, that is, two stars spinning around each other; it takes Sirius B (the dense smaller, actually invisible companion to Sirius A) around fifty years to orbit its larger, very bright sibling. Sirius itself is important to mythology in general, particularly in ancient Egypt, where its rising was used in the timing of the flooding of the Nile; it is often called ‘The Dog Star’.

The work of French early twentieth century anthropologists Griaule and Dieterlen forms the basis of the main evidence for the book. They spent much time with the Dogon, unravelling their art, culture and mythology which embody this knowledge. It’s from this that the startling information about the Dogon’s knowledge came.

Simples

But to boil it down here for simplicity’s sake, how is it possible for the Dogon, in fact any people on earth, to have what appears to be complex, accurate knowledge of far off star systems, without telescopes, or without going there themselves? After all, it was only in the twentieth century that knowledge of Sirius’ invisible companion star came about, using modern, sophisticated telescopic technology.

Ruling out co-incidence, or that the Dogon could somehow remotely see Sirius B orbiting Sirius A light years away, what possible conclusions can we come to, apart from someone else giving them that information?

Ancient spacecraft?

It transpires from the work of the anthropologists that the Dogon do describe what we might today call aerial craft, possibly spacecraft, their various states of ascent and descent as seen from the ground. There are even suggestions that the being(s) on board these possible aerial ships, was called ‘Nommo’ and that he might be semi-aquatic, due to tribal drawings.

Interestingly, this description and knowledge does appear to link up with ancient Mesopotamian/Middle Eastern mythology, which describes similar ‘craft’ and ‘beings’, who imparted their knowledge to ‘primitive’ mankind.

So, as the saying goes, there’s a lot of smoke here, but where’s the fire? The evidence, such as it is, is highly persuasive. But do we need to re-examine it? Are we in danger of being guilty of imposing our own (modern Western) notions and sensibilities on to different cultures?

Keeping an open mind

The truth is, I don’t know. Twenty years ago, I was pretty much a full on believer in extraterrestrials and this was one of the best ‘go to’ books for ‘proof’ of them and their hand in humanity’s development.

Now, having re-read the book again in recent years, it’s still one of the best in this category you can find. Even so, as fascinating and well written as it is, I keep an open mind about it all.

I suppose it’s asking a little too much to demand aliens to disclose themselves, but if they’ve always been here, with us, then there’s nothing to disclose, is there?

Leofwine Tanner 2019

Book Review: ‘Beyond The Time Barrier’, by Andrew Tomas

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Aliens, Atlantis, Ancient Astronauts… I’m not sure I believe in any of that these days.

However, time was, when once a green teenager, that books like Andrew Tomas’ ‘Beyond The Time Barrier’ published in 1974 by Sphere Books Ltd., fired my imagination, which is no bad thing.

What first drew me to the book was the cover, naturally. The connection between flying saucers and the sphinx, or Egyptian civilisation as a whole is intriguing, and there have been many books written since which hint, if not exactly prove, that human civilisation owes its origin to alien interference.

However, once you get into the core of this short book (160 pages), Tomas’ thesis, as far as I understand it, is that time may not be what it seems, that the so-called rules of time might be broken, or that the past and future can be seen by sensitive individuals using various mediums.

The Meaning of Tarot

Most intriguing for me, however, is his interpretation of the Tarot cards, which he thinks may have originated in Egypt. He seems to say that they do not merely predict what happens in an individual’s future through divination, but perhaps could also encapsulate the essential meaning of each century from the first century BC to our own twenty first century.

How is this? He takes the traditional images of the cards, ‘The Emperor’, ‘The Hermit’, ‘The Devil’ etc., and sees a summation of each century’s character. For instance, take the card called ‘The Pope’. If we are counting from the first card, ‘Il Bagattel’ standing for the first century BC, then ‘The Pope’ coincides with the fourth century AD – the most significant event (most might agree) of that century being the Emperor Constantine making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.

It’s all very interesting, especially when one looks at the card standing for the twentieth century, ‘Il Matto’ (The Fool), who seems to be blindly walking towards a precipice, despite a dog’s futile attempts to prevent him falling over. I think you can see that such a symbol might very well fit when describing the tragedy of two world wars and all the other conflicts of that time.

However, it could also be argued that it’s easy to find events which match the pictures on the cards. This may be true.

Saint Malachy

Similarly, he takes a look at the prophecies of Saint Malachy, the twelfth century Irish Bishop of Armagh, who allegedly predicted future popes from his time using allegory and symbols, each pontiff given an epithet, like Pope John the Twenty Third who died in 1963.

One rather imaginative interpretation of Malachy’s description of Pope John, ‘Pastor et Nauta’, or Shepherd and Pilot, is that it’s meant to be ‘Astor et Nauta’, or Astronautics, which certainly did begin during his reign.

The End of Time?

One worrying aspect of these prophecies is that we are now, as of 2019, apparently living in the time of the last Pope that Saint Malachy gave an epithet to, namely Pope Francis, ‘Petrus Romanus’. Some have interpreted this as to mean that we are living at the end of the age, but people have been saying this for hundreds of years… so who really knows?

There are also references to Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Jeane Dixon and Nicholas Roerich, the latter whom he believes made prophecies through the medium of painting rather haunting landscapes. He is certainly one of my favourite painters.

However, like I said above, I do not subscribe to all this conjecture, except to say that it was books like this which set me on the path of ‘free thinking’, not necessarily believing anything I was told, nor ruling anything out. I believe we should be open to anything. Uncertainty is the usual state of affairs and is actually quite good in the long run – the truth will probably never be known.

Leofwine Tanner 2019