Self Portrait Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born, October 25, 1881 in the city of Málaga, Andalusia, in southern Spain ❦ Not much introduction needed for Picasso! He is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and known for co-founding the Cubist movement, […]
Greek painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance El Greco [The Greek] Doménikos Theotokópoulos [Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος] was born, October 1st, 1541 in Candia, Crete*, Greece. ✻ part of the Republic of Venice and the center of Post-Byzantine art at the time ❦ El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, […]
When Katherine Of Aragon wrote a heartfelt plea to her father, she held the title of Princess of Wales through her marriage to Prince Arthur of England. The couple had not been married long before the prince’s untimely death in 1502 at Ludlow Castle. Faced now with widowhood and all alone in a foreign country, […]
Recently I posted a puzzle of a piece regarding the sudden, strange appearance of an individual in Prussia in 1850, a man calling himself Jophar Vorin. This man of mystery does not appear in many books but his supposed story can be gleaned online.
Just over a century later in 1954, another unusual bearded man arrived at Haneda Airport in Japan. At first sight the man appeared to be a any regular well dressed European businessman on a routine trip to the Far East.
Evidently his first language was French, though he was capable in other languages too, including the vernacular. He was even carrying several European currencies in his wallet, so nothing much seemed awry – at first.
It was when he was asked about his home country that things took a rather peculiar turn. Not one of the officials at the airport had ever heard of ‘Taured‘, even though he purportedly showed them a passport issued from his native land containing visa stamps, supposed proof of previous trips to Japan and elsewhere.
Unfortunately for this man, whose name is unknown, the company he was due to have a meeting with in Japan did not know of him, neither did the hotel he had supposedly reserved a room with, nor did the bank whose name was emblazoned on his checkbook.
The man seemed to be nonplussed by the situation. When he was shown a map of the world he pointed to the small Pyrenees principality which we know as Andorra, yet which he called Taured.
The perplexed officials decided to detain him, housing him in a hotel for that evening, in the hope that they could cast some light upon this strange situation.
Unfortunately the mystery only grew more complex by the following morning. The man from Taured had disappeared, despite the vigil kept outside by immigration staff all night. What is more all of his documentation also vanished from airport security.
Despite a strenuous search no sign of this man or his effects ever came to light again. It was as if it never happened. So what are we to make of it? It could be a story, a hoax, to tease or confuse. Conversely, if this odd event was factual – and there is no reason to doubt it – what are we to make of it?
If it was a hoax, for whose benefit was it to propagate the story? To me logic suggests that this is not a hoax, though the story may have grown a little in the telling.
Are we looking at an example of the existence of a multi dimensional universe? If they are limitless, then it is possible that the world he knew may have only differed in a few details, such as the name of his homeland in the Pyrenees.
And does the name of his country, Taured, which to his mind corresponded with the known land of Andorra, hold the key to solving the riddle?
A Load of Bull?
The name Taured suggest Taurus, or bull in English astrology. The Iberian lands, which could include Andorra, are still famous for bull fighting and the bull is an ancient astrological and cultural symbol.
If we accept that there are astrological ages brought about by the so called precession of the equinoxes, the age of Taurus would have been, roughly, spanning from 4000 to 2000 BC.
If there are multiple timelines there could be sensitive points at various times and locations where perhaps certain individuals can ‘cross over’, so to speak.
However, this probably doesn’t explain the fact that he knew French, or that he looked like any regular westerner of that time. A timeline diverging from a period as far back as 4000 BC would look very different from our own, one would suspect.
My idea that Taured is somehow related to the previous Taurean Age is probably just another red herring, though it is intriguing to speculate. Nevertheless, if there is an allegorical element to this story, then the name Taured may still be represent a significant clue.
On this day in 1485 was born the ‘Spanish’ princess, Catalina de Aragon near Madrid, known in the English speaking world as Catherine of Aragon.
Catherine married the heir to the English throne, Arthur Prince of Wales, in 1501. However, Arthur died soon afterwards. When Arthur’s brother, Henry ascended the throne on the death of his father in 1509, he quickly married his brother’s widow, forging an important alliance between England and Spain.
However, over the course of the next twenty years, Catherine failed to deliver Henry a living male heir, her only major ‘crime’. Following a long protracted dispute between Henry and Papal legates, during which the Pope refused to annul the marriage, Henry declared himself Head of the Church of England, allowing him to divorce Catherine and marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn in 1533.
Catherine died in January 1536 at Kimbolton Castle, and is buried in Peterborough Cathedral.
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.
The cathedral is dominated by Norman and early English architecture, with numerous examples of Norman arches, such as these interlacing examples above.
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.
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.
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
King Philip II of Spain effectively became the most powerful man in the world when he inherited the crown from his even more powerful father, The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who abdicated in 1556.
Nearly all reports of his personality describe him as dutiful, serious, methodical. He was certainly extremely organised and was a passionate defender of Catholicism, promoting and financing what we now call the Counter Reformation, with some degree of success.
Rebellion and Conflict
Spain was engaged in a long running conflict fighting the Dutch Rebellion, and sent more than one armada of ships, also using Spanish troops based in the Netherlands, in an attempt to invade England and re-establish Catholicism in that country.
Ultimately, however, both of these failed, the Northern Provinces of the Netherlands effectively becoming independent in 1581, and England successfully fending off the most famous Spanish Armada in 1588.
Looking at his chart, Philip would appear to have been a much more rounded individual than the one generally left to us by posterity, or at least in English books on history.
A Man of Refinement and Grace
He had Libra rising, with Venus, his ruling planet, in Gemini conjunct Jupiter in house 9, in good aspect to a Moon in Aquarius and Saturn in Aries. Jupiter was also technically conjunct Mercury which had just moved into Cancer. His Gemini sun is also in house 9.
Put all this together and I would venture that here is a quite charming, diplomatic, sociable, affable, responsible and very generous individual, with a strong interest in philosophical and religious issues. The Moon’s south node is also very close to the Venus Jupiter conjunction, indicating that he was at his most natural in the realms of diplomacy, culture and philosophy and was probably highly knowledgeable about them.
Married and Widowed Four Times
Philip II was described by at least one ambassador as being highly attractive, charming and courteous, a fact often overlooked in the English speaking world, it would seem.
We should also remember that he was married four times, one of his wives being none other than Queen Mary I of England, who was absolutely besotted with him. I think from all this, we can see that the ‘stars’ did not lie, he was indeed a very charming and gracious individual.
One surprising apparent fact was that he was not a great linguist. All the above indications suggest that he would have made a great scholar of foreign languages, but appears to ‘only’ have spoken Spanish (Castilian) and Latin.
Not a Linguist but a Defender of Faith
I think we can put this down to the fact that he devoted himself to the pursuit of religion and diplomacy (and foreign wars), at a time when Spain was the most powerful country in Europe with a vast and still growing overseas empire, negating the need for him to speak such languages as French and German at a time when the accepted lingua franca was still Latin.
At that time, England, for example, was still rather insignificant with an even more insignificant language. Rulers like Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth, who had undoubted linguistic gifts as revealed in their birth charts, would have certainly benefited from being able to converse in several foreign languages.
Philip and other Spanish rulers of that time, did not need to do this and so he became the champion of the Catholic cultural dominance of Europe and the then known world.
A Well Developed Mind
If we probe a little deeper into this man’s mentality, we see his Mercury in Cancer in house 10 loosely conjunct Jupiter. Both of these planets are rulers of house 3 and 9 respectively, which between them signify the everyday and higher mentality.
Mercury in Cancer might tend to let emotions impinge upon logical thought at times, though I suspect he could always be relied upon to put up a good defensive and emotive argument when it came to such issues as religious belief and faith, especially as Jupiter, ruler of house 3 conjunct Venus in Gemini indicates a flexible and persuasive aspect to the mind as well, able to grasp and use detail.
When Philip died in 1598, although he had failed to secure the Northern Netherlands and defeating England, he had secured the throne of Portugal and seen Spain’s oversees possessions reach nearly their greatest extent.
The fact that his ambitions in Europe were always confronted by virulent opposition is shown by his house 7 (opponents and relationships) ruler, Mars in passionate and resolute Scorpio in close square aspect to the Moon, his house 10 ruler of ambition and career. The Dutch Protestants and Queen Elizabeth of England were certainly strong and determined opponents.
Looking at this in another way, his house 2 Mars in Scorpio is in a quincunx (or inconjunct) aspect of 150 degrees to the Venus Jupiter conjunction.
A Ruthless Streak
Traditionally, this points to two virtually irredeemable areas of his life, like a kind of compartmentalisation, something which would actually be quite useful, one would think, with such a powerful statesman as this.
In other words, the man of charm and sophistication symbolised by Venus/Jupiter, might have been able to easily divorce itself, when needed, from the deep driving energy and ruthlessness of the Scorpio Mars, particularly in regard to financial matters and security (house 2) and also in certain areas of diplomacy (Mars ruler of house 7).
Finally, as house 7 also rules marriage, and as we find limiting Saturn housed there in his chart, I note that ‘poor’ Philip was married four times and widowed four times, something which would affect anyone deeply, even the most powerful man in the world, whose obvious grace and charm has sadly eluded most of us in the telling of history.
*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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
They smile when I shut the heavy, creaking door,
from behind their neat wooden kiosks
stuffed with pamphlets and insipid books.
Smiles of recognition, a nodding
acceptance as if to say –
‘Oh, it’s you!’ Volunteer women serving Christ
better than those above them in Church.
I walk along the emphatic southern aisle under
über-Norman arches, at the far end of which
hangs a limp flag of Saint Andrew,
in honour of Mary Queen of France, Scotland
and some say of England, too.
Glancing to my left a young man kneels,
wringing hands beneath a life-size figure
of a crucified Jesus, hanging high in space.
He stares upwards, rocking gently back and forth,
as if imploring Him to be real,
to writhe, sweat, bleed, perhaps to save Himself
and then, somehow, to save him as well.
I’m here to light a candle outside
Saint Oswald’s shrine and to sit for a time
in silence inside the tidy chapel,
to pray for a poor boy in pain,
perhaps to ponder on those relics,
those bits of bodies and other things,
worshipped once and then dispersed,
despised in fractured minds,
to us now mostly objects of indifference.
Oswald’s arm must lie hereabouts,
known to someone who still believes
in its restorative power, like the monks
who consumed this place, where Domesday
came and went without event,
where the Chronicle of a people faded to grey
in an undrying ink. Still it awaits the next line.
In this fossil the dead are lucky.
They are dead but in faith, whereas I roam
restlessly among echoes and whispers,
a heartless void. I cut across through the choir
to find I’m not alone, where the true
Queen of Hearts lies. Letters of gold spell
her name to all, but for me she smiles
brighter than anyone alive,
a smile from scorched Iberian lands,
her fate to end up on this drab island
where fashioned pomegranates mark her spot,
from which she expects to rise
at some glorious hour, where, until then,
the anonymous faithful lay fresh fruit
and flowers to mark her special days.
I watch a tourist, a German tricolour sewn
onto his rucksack, as he reads
the commemorative words. A sudden,
unexpected pride washes over me
while he pauses on her ground to think –
where I was once intrigued.