Prague Churches, Some of the Best I’ve Seen Anywhere

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These pictures are just a selection of some I took on a recent trip to Prague. Nothing could have prepared me for the sheer quality of the churches throughout the city. I can’t remember the names, I was simply blown away by the visual and spiritual feast.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

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Michelangelo, Creative Genius of All Ages – Astrology Musings

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni – known simply to us as Michelangelo – is often considered the greatest creative genius of all time.

It is hard to argue against this considering his achievements. He was a notable artist, poet, sculptor and architect who created, among other things, the painting of the Last Judgement on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pieta and the statue of David in Florence.

If his birth data is correct, then he certainly seems to have a birth chart that implies a significant creative force.

Multifaceted

Let’s start with the basics. Firstly, there is only Pluto in earth signs, which is very surprising considering many of achievements are practical creations, like sculpture – more of this later. His elements are primarily air and water, showing that he was inspired and put much rational thought into the creative process too.

He has Sagittarius rising, meaning he had a very free and multifaceted approach to life, an indication of his ability to span many types of creativity. His ruler, Jupiter, is in Aquarius in house 3, meaning there is more than a touch of originality, objectivity and freshness in his ideas and mentality.

Highly sensitive and creative

He has the Sun and Moon in Pisces in house 4, with the Sun in good aspect to Neptune in house 12, showing how he was essentially sensitive, impressionable and also deeply inspired from the subconscious. Mars is also quite close to the Sun, giving him great bursts of creative flair, especially so as Mars in ruler of house 5.

Venus in Aries is also an indicator of primal artistic flair, especially his Venus in house 5 of creativity. Venus is also ruler of house 6 of work and the MC, which also has associations with life direction and career.

However, I want to concentrate mainly on what I consider to be the primary pattern of his chart, namely the fairly loose, yet important ‘kite’ formation involving Mars, Saturn, Pluto and Neptune, and also the Sun and Uranus to some degree. This is a fairly unusual configuration and I am sure one that is significant when one comes down to discussing creative genius. I think the fact that all three ‘outer planets’ are involved is highly significant, an indication that he could tap creatively the transpersonal energies of transformation (Pluto), inspiration (Neptune) and originality (Uranus).

Through studying many birth charts of creative types, like artists and composers, I have found that Neptune in particular almost invariably forms strong aspects to personal planets, or is strongly placed, or both.

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The ‘Kite’ – the sign of a great, dynamic genius?

Apart from Pluto, at the top apex of the shape, it all takes place in water signs and houses using the ‘whole signs’ house system, showing its emotive and inspirational wellspring.

In this regard, Pluto’s presence in an earth sign (Virgo) and house (10), becomes all the more significant, I feel, symbolising the long term, transformative physical effect Michelangelo produced and experienced in his career, and the incredible, powerful legacy he left with us.

Let’s take a closer look at it. Mars in Pisces in house 4, reveals his emotive, disparate energy in opposition to Pluto in Virgo in house 10, a tense, compulsive battle between personal and transpersonal power, which creates great waves of energy to transform the life direction but which needs to be harnessed to make useful.

Applications in the world

Enter Saturn in Cancer in house 8 and Neptune in Scorpio in house 12, both in good positive aspect (sextile and trine) to the Mars Pluto opposition, both of which can feed off this energy. Saturn will tend, despite being in a water sign and house, to earth this energy, look for practical, structural applications of it.

Neptune, and to some degree Uranus, will add sheer inspiration and some originality to the mix from a subconscious and transpersonal ‘muse’, perhaps encapsulating the very nature of genius. And with the Sun also fairly closely linked to this inspirational dynamo too, we can perhaps appreciate the great depths of creative potential that this man had, his ability to produce it for all the world to enjoy – even to this day and hopefully for centuries still to come. He was that rare individual, a genius for all time.

*If you are interested in getting your own astrological report, or would like one created for a loved one or a friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

England’s Heritage: The Collegiate Church of Holy Trinity, Tattershall, Lincolnshire

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The incredibly beautiful 15th century Collegiate Church of Holy Trinity in the village of Tattershall in central Lincolnshire.

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To my mind it is one of the best examples of English Perpendicular architecture anywhere.

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At various times in history, the church has fallen into disrepair but has been restored, even preserving a colony of three species of bats within its structure!

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The major advantage of the massive Perpendicular windows is the great amount of light let in.

words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019

Martin Luther, Passionate Reformer – Astrology Musings

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If the Christian Reformation could be said to have a starting date, it must surely be the day of October 31 1517, when Martin Luther, Augustinian Doctor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg, is said to have nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints Church in that German city.

What is not generally acknowledged is the hard work and mental torture that this man must have gone through to get to that crucial point, basically becoming exasperated with such practices as the selling of indulgences, which supposedly reduced a person’s time in purgatory.

A passionately intense man

According to the birth data given, Luther was born with Leo rising, making the Sun his ruler, which is found in Scorpio in house 4. Essentially, here is a lover of life, a deeply passionate and intense person who is interested not only in his family and background but also the fundamentals of life – what he saw as the truth, stripped back to brass tacks.

His Sun is in good aspect to Chiron in house 8, indicating that he suffered much through his deeply penetrating attitude, his wish to get to the fundamentals, but which also put him in to a positive position to help others later.

This can be seen through his encouragement to look to scripture, rather than the other teachings of the then Catholic church. This would necessitate the translation of the Bible into the native tongues of Europe, something which Luther also encouraged.

Black and white

His character is also moulded strongly by the elements; he has no planetary activity in earth and lots in fire and water.

He clearly saw things in black and white, he was emotional, intense, and with the Moon in Aries in house 9, he could be a bit of a firebrand, reacting quickly, strongly, angrily at times, especially in mental pursuits, perhaps most particularly in higher mind/philosophical areas. This was only exacerbated by the Moon’s opposition of Pluto in house 3. He clearly often felt blocked by the intransigence of the Catholic authorities, who were not supportive of his wish to reform and sweep away.

Strongly defining conjunctions

His character is also strongly defined by two important conjunctions. Mercury is almost exactly conjunct Neptune in Sagittarius in house 5.

He had a free thinking, creative mind, able to quickly grasp ideas and philosophy, but behind all this was a strong sense of spirituality, a connection to the numinous (Neptune); it’s almost like having a direct line to God, or believing that you have. I think this was a most important trait.

The other highly symbolic conjunction was between Venus and Saturn in Scorpio in house 4. Though deeply and powerfully emotional, he was also mightily controlled, willing to endure suffering, loss, privation even torture for what he believed.

He certainly did not ‘get his kicks’ from any run of the mill enjoyment and would probably view most earthly pleasures as pointless and tedious. The strength of these two conjunctions alone, are a prime indication of his motivation to become a priest/friar in the first place.

Cutting zeal

Add to this the cutting zeal of Mars in Scorpio (aided by loose conjunction with Jupiter) in house 4, being the ruler of house 9 of philosophy and religion, plus the above said conditioning of Venus, being the ruler of house 3 of the everyday mentality, and a picture of him fully emerges as someone of complete determination and belief that his deeply felt spiritual cause is correct.

Most interestingly, the north node in house 9 is exactly opposite Jupiter in house 3. The north node shows where are meant to go in life and in his case it is towards a more outer, philosophical direction, a direction which he certainly led.

The harder – but only choice

It would have been much easier for him to have continued as a Doctor of Theology, which, although clearly religious, is very much more house 3 activity than 9, especially in the way the Catholic church was structured then, where he stood to glean much, even materially, from his position in Wittenberg University. Such was the strength of his belief and conviction, he decided to take the harder route and thus became the historical figure he is now.

Few other people, especially common people, have had such an impact on history, a fact which I believe is fully shown in the quality of the chart of his nativity.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

*If you are interested in getting your own astrological report, or would like one created for a loved one or a friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com.

England’s Heritage in Photos: Corby Glen Church, Lincolnshire – Medieval Wall Paintings

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Lincolnshire in the east of England has some wonderful, often underrated medieval churches.

One such is in the south west of the county, in the lovely village of Corby Glen. Here on many of the walls of the church you can see paintings and illustrations of religious and spiritual imagery, representing stories from the Bible and the faith and beliefs in general of the later medieval period.

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If you look carefully, you can make out several layers of art, where older ones have been superseded with new work.

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During the Reformation in the 1500s, all of this art was whitewashed over, part of the process of removing all imagery, which also meant stripping out idols and even rood screens which separated the nave from the chancel.

It was only in more recent times that this treasure trove of art was rediscovered through church restoration.

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Today this art represents some of the most important medieval imagery not only in the county of Lincolnshire, but also in the whole of England.

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Devil in the detail.

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Explanation of the imagery inside the church.

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The beautiful setting of the church of Saint John the Evangelist, Corby Glen, Lincolnshire.

copyright words and pictures Francis Barker 2019

England’s Heritage, Peterborough Cathedral Part III – Some special features

Peterborough Cathedral is probably one of the most underrated churches in England.

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The Gothic fan vaulting at the east end of the cathedral is remarkable.

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The cathedral also has three notable shrines to saints. The one above is Saint Oswald’s chapel, an old English saint, whose remains (reputedly an arm) were brought here.

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There is also a shrine to Saint Benedict with a beautiful wood carving at the entrance. Peterborough Cathedral is in fact the Abbey church of the former Benedictine Abbey, dissolved by Henry VIII when he became head of the Church of England.

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Most interestingly, there is a shrine to three old English (Anglo-Saxon) saints, Kyneburgha, Kyneswitha (spelling varies) and Tibba, unusual but fascinating names of a largely forgotten era.

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The spacious choir has some wonderful wood carving.

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words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019

England’s Heritage, Peterborough Cathedral Part II – Two Famous Queens

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Peterborough Cathedral in the east of England is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful churches, with an association with two famous queens.

The long nave is quite stunning, with a beautiful roof and with a modern golden image of Christ suspended high as a focal point.

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The cathedral is dominated by Norman and early English architecture, with numerous examples of Norman arches, such as these interlacing examples above.

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Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, is buried here.

The cathedral is also notable for its association with two famous queens.

The first was Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England when she was married to Henry VIII. Catherine was buried here in 1536 and her tomb is still something of a shrine to her memory, with pomegranates very prominent as her symbol because the fruit appears on her badge. Pomegranates are an ancient symbol for fecundity and regeneration.

Catherine certainly suffered much during her husband’s long and protracted break with Rome, in which she was the innocent victim, her only crime it would seem was not being able to produce a living male heir for Henry to perpetuate the Tudor dynasty. This was how she was treated after being completely dutiful to the king, but Henry had to have his way. Her motto, which translates as ‘humble and loyal’, is a phrase she very much lived up to.

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There is a portrait of Catherine by her tomb.

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Pomegranates have had a long association with Catherine of Aragon.

The second queen associated with Peterborough Cathedral is Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary inherited the Scottish throne after only a few days of being born, thrusting her into a world of political intrigue and shenanigans which she was never able to control.

She essentially became a pawn of more powerful rulers and some despicable characters. However, in 1559 she duly became Queen Consort to Francis II of France, solidifying Scotland’s long alliance with France.

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Scottish symbols hang in honour of Mary who was initially buried here in 1587.

Sadly within 18 months the young kind died prematurely. Had he lived, Mary’s life would have turned out entirely differently. As it was, she became a teenage widow and a long series of political and personal disasters ensued when she returned to Scotland. Eventually she fled to England and came under Elizabeth’s control.

After many years’ imprisonment in England, during which the still substantial Catholic faction within England with aid from Spain continually conspired to depose Elizabeth and put Mary on the English throne, she was finally executed at nearby Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.

She was initially buried in Peterborough Cathedral, but her son, James I of England, had her remains transferred to Westminster Abbey in London.

words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019