Poem: The Empty Naves

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The voice and song remind me
of why I don’t come.
The words and the platitudes wash over me,
echo and reverberate around this sacred space,
crying for heaven
though never finding any home.
The bats are nearer but unaware
of their advantage,
leaving me staring high into this perpendicular sky.
Is this all that is left?
Listening to Betjeman and Vaughan Williams
to stir us up,
to remind us of what once was.
This is me and you coming here,
cultural appreciators
though never spiritual partakers
in a creed we can’t believe.
Give me the fire and brimstone,
a faith which disturbs me
into knowing I’m not already saved.
It is better than this – looking up in awe
into a world that is lost.

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: Crowland Abbey Flower Festival, Lincolnshire

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Recently, there was a flower festival in Crowland Abbey church in the extreme south of the county of Lincolnshire. The theme was decades over the past one hundred years.

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Poppies are a special symbol for the British losses during World War One.

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World Cup 1966 – England 4 West Germany 2.

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copyright words and pictures Francis Barker 2019

 

England’s Heritage in Photos: Castle Bytham church of Saint James, Lincolnshire.

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copyright pictures Francis Barker 2019

 

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

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

 

 

England’s Heritage: Peterborough Cathedral Part 1

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The west gate of Peterborough Cathedral.

Put simply, Peterborough Cathedral is one England’s best churches, though it is often not as well regarded as some others, like Lincoln, Ely and York.

This might be due in part to Lincoln’s prominent setting, Ely’s architectural distinctiveness and York’s admitted supreme grandeur.

Peterborough, by comparison, lies on the edge of the flat fens, yet in one of the primary areas of England for monastic development because of the remoteness of location. In its day, Peterborough Abbey was one of the most prominent in the whole of eastern England.

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The wonderful west front of Peterborough Cathedral, completed in the 13th century.

Originally the abbey church of Saint Peter’s Abbey, Peterborough, in the east of England, the present church was granted cathedral status (and thereby preserved) by Henry VIII, self appointed head of the Church of England, during the Reformation in the 1530s, which saw many former monastic buildings taken down and sold off. For this at least we should be grateful to England’s most notorious monarch.

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words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019