Moon Phases


Friday, October 20, 2017

Say Bradbury Writing

Zen in The Art of WritingZen in The Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ray Bradbury is on of the foremost American writers in America, who better to help the writer learn his craft then one of the masters. I could say that it all happened when he was a small boy collecting Buck Rogers’s comics and then to be considered normal he ripped them u and threw them away. This was a sin against his soul, something he deeply regretted. So the young boy rebought the comics and decided to stay true to himself. Smart decision.
The true writer must stay true to himself and find his own voice. The writer must live life to the fullest. For the writer cannot be a good writer if he or she does not live life to the fullest. He or she must have gusto and zest and it will infect his or her writing. Or should I say it will infuse his or her writing.

The writer by requirement to survive must write every day. Some writers will write a whole story in one day. Other writers will do only a few pages. The main thing is to write. Like any other art and in this I do consider sports and dance art forms, it must be practiced every day. Writing everyday does not only make the writer better at his or her craft but rather writing cleanses the writers mind.
Along the way through these easy to read and equally entertaining chapters, Ray Bradbury will tell you about his writing experiences and over several good tidbits on how to boost creativity. One thing a writer must realize is that short stories or poems can become novels. Novels can turn into screenplays. Just because your work is rejected by one publisher does not mean it will not be accepted by another publisher. Remember you are not a failure at writing until you stop writing. Ray suggest writing every day even if you end up trashing 4/5 of what you write that one fifth is what will make it.

A couple of techniques that the beginning or struggling author might find useful are word lists and realizing that your characters are really alive. The word list is nothing more than a word association. You write down a word on a piece of paper and after you get enough of them start writing your own story. Don’t worry the subconscious will feed the rest . It is good to remember that when writing you should immediately write down your story. Just spit it out. Do not worry about editing or correcting the words just get the story out . Another technique is to create or discover the character and let the character run. Your character will run forward and write the story for you. All the aspiring author has to do is just narrate what was seen in the minds eye.

Poetry and screen writing have a lot in common. Whereas the novelist strive to write the word but ow sot need to condense words or turn a paragraph into a picture. As writer he was frustrated when he had to condense his writing by to thirds but it was done and it was a success. Poetry is a picture contained in a stanza or paragraph.

Writing is Zen. The author must find their voice and not be an imitation of others. There is only one you just like there is only Shakespeare. Do not write for money but rather work , don’t think and relax.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

It Could be True

The White Man's Burden: Of Lies and DeceitThe White Man's Burden: Of Lies and Deceit by Isaiah Israel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The prevalent myth is that white Europe is the apex of human development and culture and that modern white society brought modernity to the third world. History has proven this notion quite false. Many of the concepts that are thought to be white or European were actually thought of by people of color. The pillars of our society originate in Africa and the Middle East. Many good books have been written about this subject that document where everything came from.

I am on the fence about this one. They make several claims that yes are believable yet so far out of the box that I want more substantial proof. Would be nice if what they were saying was footnoted and lead back to a credible source. The book is filled with lots of pictures and I mean lots of them. Some are repeated multiple times. You there are put up with intent that certain personages were black. Some of the pictures are believable and others do not cut the ice. The book is done in an inte view dialogue style which is fine and may make for easier reading, yet it lacks the scholarly punch. It is obvious that some serious research went into this book so why not write it scholarly style. Through out the book white people are insulted much the same way that African Americans are by white supremacists. Calling white people people sub human, disease ridden knuckle draggers is not a way to reach an educated audience. While yeah sure I get the resentment but that is not going to reach out and touch an educated someone.

Most of us got it, mankind came out of Africa and we got most of our civilization from people of color. History is coming out with how people of color or mixed race people made incredible contribution to society but that contribution was white washed. Now this book does make a lot of radical assumptions. First off it says that the first people everywhere were black and that these blacks people were the ones who started all the societies. Once again believable but I want footnotes to the source. This means that the first native Americans were black. Those who started European civilization were black. Later on in northern India or Central Asia there were mutations, they were called Albino Dravidians. They multiplied and stayed to themselves but were so hounded and torn by Turks and other Asians that they fled to Europe where they were given protection by black Europeans. The black Europeans then brutally enslaved these white peoples even going so far as to take their skin and use it for book binding. The black kingdoms would later fight each other thus giving the white peopleca chance to over throw them. This culminated in 1492 with expulsion of the last moorish kingdom. The black nobility would be complete over thrown by like 1848. Quite a wild claim one that is not mentioned in History books. When talking about it I would like to know the source. There are several things you will,learn about like the sickness that white people are at risk for and how white peoples are dying off. You will also learn that the United States is still owned by Britain. It could b true.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pantheism 101

One Heart, Many Gods: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Devotional PolytheismOne Heart, Many Gods: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Devotional Polytheism by Lucy Valunos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This tiny booklet is designed for the new devotionalist to polytheism or the worship of many gods. The author fortunate to say is not dogmatic about her approach but rather she gives suggestions that are up to you as to whether to follow or not. The author has benefited from having learned from such other spiritual tradition such as Catholicism, Hoodoo, Wicca and Norse paganism.
Now this maybe a small book but I learned a good many practical things from it. Things that I would like to remember. One of the most important things is setting up a time both during the morning and during the evening. The morning is not as complex as the evening prayers. The morning prayers are usually briefer and done with a divination of sorts. The evening prayers are much longer and usually have meditation involved. The when and where you have your devotion is not set in stone. The gods are understanding and you can work devotional times around your schedule. Let us not, as the author reminds that we can devote many different times to our gods if that is where we are at. Devotions can be done at any time and simple hard work can be a devotion enough for a deity.
Offering are a big part of polytheism. There is much talk on what to offer deities. The bottom line is that it is the thought that counts not how expensive is the gift you give to the deities. Besides, food, drink, incense and candle there are other ways we can give to the gods. Sometimes we can help out by giving charity or helping a certain group that is important to the deity. Offering can be charity or acts of kindness.
Candle are a big offering item to the author. White candle tend to be all purpose. When devoting a candle to a deity you will want to be careful or at least mindful as to which color you get. There is also a recommended process of cleansing a candle and charging it and I find it very comprehensible. The author advises the reader to use 7 day candles with the wick in the center. First you clean the glass down with water or a cleaner of sorts. Then over incense you cleanse the candle of any negative energy. Next you use a marker or paint an you write the deities name on the candle. Then you dress the candle with oils and herbs scared to the gods. Barring that, if you cannot get the candle out of the glass you can carve the deities name on the top and bore a certain amount of holes into the candle top side to be filled with herbs and oils. Finally you can charge the candle with visualization or say a prayer of intent as to why you are giving it.
The author goes on to distinguish between altar and shrines. The altar is your working space either for devotion or magic. The altar is the deities’ home. Regardless of what you are working with always remember to keep it clean and tidy. Keeping it clean is a gift unto the gods themselves. I wish I had rea this book earlier as it makes forming your spiritual practice a whole lot easier. Very valuable.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pazuzus Child part III

Wise words of Nabu The bald prophet bedecked in white robes graced across the stone floor of the temple. His hands were folded behind his back with eyes looking heavenward he silently mused the information he received from the priestess. "An anzu with a severed paw? " he questioned allowed. The priestess nodded her head in confirmation. " you know " he said while continuing to pace the floor " that is quite a difficult task" Nabu paused to let the information sink in. " I do not believe that any creature or animal from this planet could perform such a feat" "Are you implying what I think you might be implying?" Asked the worried priestess. "My jinn informants have told me that walk ins to our world have increased" Nabu said matter of factly. "I know better priestess than to doubt your dreams and if it be vivid then it shall happen soon or it already has happened" "No human is capable of severing the paw of those ferocious beast" she stated adamantly. "Trajans have been coming through the portals and--" "Pah " interrupted the priestess. "They are dangerous to humans but to an anzu they are mere pests" "Some humans come through and they come armed with weapons I have not yet seem" stated Nabu. "Their planet is a twin of ours " the priestess said "if my dreams carry portent something grave is about to begin" ----------------------------------- The Wounded Anzu Nabu could not have been more wrong the priestess thought to herself many strangle monsters and creatures had been coming through the portals. That was not forgetting the demons and angels who could traverse worlds at will. The priestess thought it over as she made her way back to the temple. Angels could care less what happened in the worlds but demons were always up to some mischief. Weapons from the other world, the twin world. She had seen their weapons. Knives, swords , axes and spears, humans across the different worlds has those. Then there were those iron fire sticks they spewed hot burning metal. Iron fire sticks did not sever paws. In front of Inanna's a crowd of people had been gathering. What are these simple people gawking at she asked herself. The throng of people created a blanket line thick barrier between her and spectacle. "Make way " commanded the priestess. People began parting and moving to the side as she marched her way through . The first sight of blood caused her heart to plummet down to the pit of her stomach. Crimson red puddle glistening in the sun right next to the pawless hand of the flying leopard. Suddenly she grasped trying to catch her breath. People turned and stared in surprise. " What's wrong with priestess " they would with fear and concern oozing from their voice. The priestess bolted from the group and closed the temple doors behind her. Suiting down she struggled to catch her breath. With heavy grasp she recovered her breath and coming to grips with the concrete reality of her dream. It had been morning when she visited Nabu. It would take till late afternoon until she recovered from her shock. Her evening ritual had commenced with the setting of the sun. A pinkish glow of clouds and sun was splayed across the sky. Inside the temple the Priestss had lit up the coals and she cast her herbs on the coal and a cloud of smoke rose into the air. Drowsiness crept into her bones and her almond eyes became heavier and lidded. The image appeared above the burning coals. "Isharra you have summoned." StAted the voice from the emerging form of smoke. "Inanna divine goddess of love and war I have been given a dream and its contents be true" said the priestess summoning the goddess as she materialized in the smoke . As the beautiful lady emerged from the smoke the priestess described her dream. The beautiful form listened, she was lithe, tan, clad in only loin cloth and a covering over her chest. "Isharra my child," the goddess cooed "your land has been plundered and pillaged by the blue eyed invaders from the North. They take our maidens and enslave the youth. The folk are oppressed " isharra listened intently " salvation has arrived in the form of a great warrior who comes through the vortex from the original home planet. Their blood he shares yet he is watched by the Jinn." "Why would the Jinn have interest in a northern warrior from the vortex?" Questioned Isharra. "The Jinn have their machinations and scheme just like mankind and the Gods" the goddess gently explained. " "I have seen the men from the original world they are not strong of spirit or body but they have dangerous weapons" Isharra commented scepticly. "Northerners have the Warriors fury" smiled the goddess "this warrior will be Uruks salvation." The goddess paused while the priestess meditated. " you shall travel to Abzu and meet him in Enki's realm'" _____________________________________ Journey to the Abzu Cages filled with young women were trundling by western gate as Nabu bade Isharra farewell . The fear was palpable in their eyes. Legend of the harsh cold north abounded in Uruk. The poor treatment of nubile slaves was well noted. Young men would be conscripted into labor battalion of war battalions. Oppression weighed down heavily on residents of Uruk. "The dealers are dangerous, priestess" warned the scribe.. "we are well prepared Nabu believe me" she chided back at her friend with a smile. The priestess sucked in a deep breath through her nose and then smiled again. Nabu looked at her quizzically. "Change is in the air I can feel it " she said confidently. In the distance a group of slave traders appeared as if my by magic from the hot shimmering sands of the desert. Nabu looked at the priestess again. "Are you prepared to deal with this mirage that is popping out of the desert?" Nabu questioned the priestess. "Oh king of scribes do you not realized by now that as much as I am a servant of the goddess I am also her warrior" she smiled and then bade for her friend to continue. So they continued their march toward the realm of Enki. The four or five fur clad barbarians temained behind them in the distance. After a few hours they came upon the Euphrates river. Village people or Fellahin as they were called had set up a nameless town. A desert town by the edge of a fast moving somewhat muddy river. The fellahin would set out to the river and bring on fish. The fish not only provided food for families but could be traded for other goods. Straw boat of the fellahin could easily traverse a river, provided the weather was good. Families built mud and straw huts. Tent like eateries were set up by the rivers edge offering cooked fish, fruits and clean water for drinking. Isharra had been this way before. The cooked fish could be rather nauseating. Dates , figs and water would be sufficient. Sweat dripped down her body. Her clothes drenched with sweat as though she had cooled herself off in the river. Nabu noticed his friends condition and made comment. "This desert is hot but should you enter a vortex that takes you to the planet of the scribes you feel the real meaning of heat" "The planet Nabu is next to the real Of Utu" she shot back"a planet next to a star is a fiery death for anyone who crosses the wrong vortex." Her friend looked out to the river, with a glance of disdain he considered the straw boats of the fellahin. The Phoenicians Nabu thought to himself were the real boatmen around here. Having to flee their city states from the onslaught of the Northern invasion. Merchants and ship builders, that is what the Phoenicians were. Fleeing to safety and hiding at the first sign of fighting . Later they would reemerge, sometimes rebuilding somewhere else. With their superior ships they soon over took the boat trade especially to the sea. Of course the northern barbarians had ships as well but they were vicious and violent, in a battle the Phoenicians were no match for the Northern barbarians. As regrettable as the violence had been the Phoenicians added grandeur of sorts to the Euphrates. They stood grand in their majestic ships. Their beards well groomed and clean with curly hair going down the sides and the back. The merchant kings as some people called them looked regal in their white and purple wardrobe. To travel this hot desert was pointless. Nabu and the priestess needed a sea worthy ship that would take them to Dilmun, the island paradise and gateway to Enki's realm. The dinging ring of the town bells aroused Nabu from His reverie. The fellahin dashed this way and that way like rats scurrying in panic. Any who attempted to resist was most brutally cut down. The wooden cages were being filled with people they had captured. Two of the raiders suddenly eyed Nabu and Isharra. The prophet stood suddenly and uttered something in a language Isharra did not understand. From out of the desert skies a wind storm erupted with sudden and violent ferocity. The raiders rushed forward only to be pushed back by the winds excessive force. Sand got in their eyes leaving them blind. Isharra took advantage by unsheathing her dagger and thrusting it into any raiders unfortunate to cross her path. Down they fell into earn pools of their sticky red blood. Some would fall grasping while trying to hold their innards from spilling out recklessly. Isharra had effectively dispatched 3 of the raiders. Seven more still remained the warrior priestess was ready. It was something like a mirage or illusion. A shimmering filled a small place of air. The air had become a somewhat deadly still. The raiders, Nabu and the priestess stood and stared as what appeared to be a large eye has materialized and then began to open. Isharra turned to look at Nabu. He gave her back the knowing stare. Someone had opened a portal or a vortex. The two figures walked through the portal. One a definite stranger to these parts with fiery red hair, beat up looking blue pants and an animal Hyde coat of the likes she has never seen before. The other figure a man also came through. A dark man of African complexion dressed in a cloth hat, a light blue shirt and strange blue pants that were quite alien to her. The tendrils of heat were coming off his body as though they were water vapors forced into evaporation in the desert heat. He was jinn she thought to herself that much was obvious. They were masters at portal traveling. The raiders looked at the strangers in awe. A jinn set in battle mode could be quite the dangerous thing. Yet, the jinn did not attack rather he seemed to whispering something into the other stranger's ear. As if the strange red hair and bizarre clothing were not enough, the man with strange clothes lunged toward the attacking raiders. His greenish hazel eyes flared as though pit with an angry fire that lit up from his eyes. One of the raiders swung a broad sword at the foreigners head but he ducked it rather skillfully and then landed a strong right punch into the raiders rib cage. The raider bent forward just in order to receive a left hook to his jaw. He went down unconscious. Another warrior rushed forward using the exact same maneuver that the previous raider had used. The foreigner or Darren as is his name ducked the blow and picked up a dead fighters sword. Darren slashed the attackers legs knocking him down on his back. As the raider struggled to get off his back Darren jammed the sword into the raiders chest. He died gurgling in his own blood. Another attacker tried to grab him from behind. Darren effortlessly slipped under his arm and jammed the attacker in his ribs and as his head bent down Darren grabbed him by the hair and flipped onto the sand. The body hit the desert floor with a giant thud. The raider made an attempt to get up and continue his assault but Darren drive his foot down into his assailant throat. Another attacker was sent hurtling toward a wooden cage filled with female captives. They grabbed their oppressor and held him by his arms and hair. Darren finished him Off with a lunging kick to the chest. The other two attackers fled. One of the looked back and yelled "Traitorious Khazars, I know you sword of God and for your treachery you shall pay." _____________________________________ Enki's Realm The Phoenician boat docked upon the shore upon seeing that the fighting was over. "hail and come aboard" the Phoenician bellowed out with a smile that showed his pearly white teeth. Nabu smiled and waved back at his friend. Isharra glanced back at the Jinn and Darren and cast them s serious look. It made Darren feel quite unwelcome. " I think now is the time to bring out the paw" the jinn said quietly in Darren's ear. Isharra walked over quietly and cautiously. The look of confusion written on her face plain to see. Darren pulled out a sack covered with dried blood and showed them the paw of the wounded leopard with wings. "so is it this walk in that shall be our savior?" She questioned the jinn with what sounded to Darren to be laced with an element of scorn. "he could be" Murad answered back non chalantly. "He did cut the paw off a raging Anzu that was about to rip out heads off for dinner. So yeah he might be." "A walk in" replied the priestess with scorn. "well Isharra " he said with a smile " You might not like walk ins but just remember you people originated from his world so in a way you are also walk ins" Isharra snorted angrily and then turned to her friend Nabu. The bald scribe beckoned them aboard the ship. The priestess turned back to Murad and Darren. "Jinn we are traversing over water to Enki's realm" she said in a serious tone. "Oh I know " he chuckled. "you should have made the walk in go back to his own realm " she sniffed and then turned toward the ship beckoning Darren to follow. By the island of Dilmun, perhaps a few feet or yards from the shore , a giant hole emerged that lead to some where beneath the ground. Hiram the burly bearded Phoenician pointed it out to Darren. "That hole in the sea will take you to Enki's realm, he is the good lord of the deep." "lord of the underworld?" Darren questioned. Isharra scowled while Nabu seemed to remain indifferent. "By Ilu's beard no, his realm is a large sea beneath the surface of the land. It is his kingdom and most beautiful it is " "An underwater sea? " Darren shot back incredulously. "A sea of sweet water that will quench any thirst you may have " Hiram belly laughed holding his gut and showing his teeth. "Is this entrance and sea also on my planet?" Darren asked this time with a tone of curiously. "the sea is there but not the entrance, I do not think Enki wants your earthlings wandering into his realm" the Phoenician replied. " your people have damaged the planet enough."

Friday, October 6, 2017

Hunt for the Red Scorpion: Yesterday's War on Terror

From the Tower of DarknessFrom the Tower of Darkness by Carroll Runyon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The war on terror is not a new thing. Ever since the Europeans took control of the Middle East after World War I they have been wrestling with the aspect of terror. This is an adventure packed novel taking place during that time period, written by a master occultist. There is not too much occult stuff thrown in except that the main bad guy from Corsica, Scorpio La Rouge uses astrology to plan his operations.
Alan Vaughn is a British agent assigned as an intelligence officer of sorts in Egypt. He has learned the ways of the Near East and can blend in quite effectively. The novel starts off with a show down with Echmet Yosef in the African desert. Alan’s Objective is to break into break into Scorpio La Rouge’s safe and steal some precious documents and a Seal of Solomon. The documents implicate some dirty secrets about some big wig French people that could bring them down. La Rouge is also running guns for the French so they can arm the Mahdist movement in Sudan and weaken the British sphere of influence. Another thing is Princess Shebaba and illegitimate heir to the throne of Ethipoia. She is a dancer for La Rouge and a lover of Alan Vaughn. Together they work on a plot to crack the safe and get the goods. Alan hires some thugs and the princess has Zagussi, her body guard helping her. Things go awry during the break in . They are captured on board a ship here even more adventures ensue until they finely land on the base of operations in Africa.

For those who like high adventure novel this one is for you. There is plenty of intrigue to go around. I liked it because it is about the Middle East.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

African American Medicine of the Gullah.

Hoodoo MedicineHoodoo Medicine by Faith Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a shot little book that I wish was quite a bit longer. Faith Mitchell generated this book by traveling to the Sea Side Islands off the coast of the Carolina’s these islands were home to a large African American community back during the colonial period. Back in those times it was all African American with the exception of a few white people who were plantation owner and over seers. The language they spoke was gulla. Even up to the 1930’s the area was rather neglected. As the population grew people began moving out. Mostly it is the older generation of people at that know about the herbal cures.

In Africa the elders knew what each of the herbs and plants could heal. When they came to the new land they had to make substitutions. Some of this was based on their own knowledge, other of it came from the Europeans and the Native Americans. The Native American knew about the plant lore and taught a lot of that lore to the Africans. Most Hoodoo medicines are a one single plant or two to three at the most. For the Hoodoo practioners sicknesses came in the guise of three things . The first was regular illness, the second was sickness sent by someone with occult powers and finally the third illness was because of sin.

In the beginning many people would consult Native American Healers and African American Healers. But as time progressed it was illegal to consult anyone but a white European doctor. Thus the only people to be treated would be other slaves if even that.

The second part of the book talks about herbs and what they were used to cure. There is an extensive bibliography in the back. The herb section tells the name of the herb the first part renders a description. Next it tells you which part of the plant to use. Finally what it is used for.
Some example
White Root: usd for colds an drunbk as a tea. Swamp Grass has the leaves used for sprains. It also tells how the European used the herbs as well.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Snow White Retold

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire, #1)The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Irina was an eldest daughter of the king of Morcant and she had been scorned but she nestled her hatred in her heart an on day she would have vengeance. Her younger sister had gotten married first to King Arlen of Ravenspire. From that union came Prices Lorleigh and Prince Leo. Irina gets her vengeance when her younger sister dies under mysterious circumstances. Upon marrying King Arlen she immediately set upon takin control of the kingdom with poisonous apples that have a black gooey texture. People are like Zombies with almost no will of their own. Both Irina and Lora leigh are Mardushkas or sorceresses. Irina takes it upon herself to train the young princess to be powerful Mardushka like herself. When Loraleigh sees the evil Irina’s impact on the kingdom she goes against her mentor and tries to take her down and at first she fails, with nothing to show for her efforts save for a dead father and she and her brother made fugitive.
Wandering her kingdom like a fugitive hiding herself and her magic from Irina, Loraleigh plots her revenge and the plot to restore her kingdom. Doing her best to help the starving people under Irina’s reign. She goes about fomenting resistance with the help of Leo and a loyal guard named Gibril. The plot takes a turn with the entrance of the King of Eldr, his name is kol. The draconi of Eldr can shape shift into dragons and have two hearts. One heart is human and the other is dragon. Seeking Irina’s help to rid his kingdom of an ogre invasion the newly crowned king finds himself trapped and transformed into a terrible predator. Loraleigh must battle the evil queen and her formidable ally to both rescue her kingdom and stay alive.
This story in a new entry into the realm of retelling faerie tales albeit with a twist. In this tale Snow White is a sorceress powerful enough to challenge a wicked queen who has stolen her father’s throne. The huntsman is a prince who can shape shift and not some lackluster bounty hunter. He is a good guy but forced to do an evil queen bidding. For those who like the retelling genre you are sure to like this. I just cannot convince myself to believe that people can shapeshift into dragons.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pazuzu's Child part 2

Chapter 4 : THE Attack of the Trajans. THe paused in conversation should have brought about a quiet silence interrupted only by the rustling and sound of animals in the woods. INstead a loud roar resounded in the forest. THe sound of cracking tree branches made a lid crack much like an individual fire work being lit on the 4th of July. "Here they come again" complained the Jinn smacking his hand against the ancient wood table. " Thos stupid beasts just never learn" "Trajans?" Enquired Darren. "Remember those hairy ape like creatures?" The Jinn shot back. "Oh yeah" Darren answered back dreamily. "Ready to see me in my real Jinn form?" The Jinn smiled with a look of expectation written on his face. THE furious monsters screeched and howled outside the old wood cabin. Build like tall gangly chimpanzees they moved with a stark coordination that left one rather frightened at how easily they could move and how fluid for a creature so tall and skinny. Slowly like a cart hunting its prey they would creep towards the cabin making their frightening screaches. When the two figures appeared in the door way the monsters hurled their spears at the two. Seeing the oncoming missile like object hurtling toward him Darren barely evaded being hit as he moved put of the way . THe spear penetrated into the wood with a loud "thwack". With slight noise the spear vibrated in the wall. THE launching of the second spear brought about a very different reaction. THE Jinn had caught the missile hurtling toward him effortlessly . Upon his capture of the missile it immediately burst into flame. Darren looked at the jinn with a puzzled expression. "Locke I told you my body is made of smokeless fire" Daren just nodded. THE creatures turned their heads and communicated with each other with signals of shaking heads, grunts and growls. THey appeared confused but simple animals often make rash decision when they are in a panic. THree of them rushed forward with their javelins in a vain attempt to gut the older darker man in the stomach. "Get ready" the old man said giving Darren a wink. In a matter f seconds his body began to expand and change. THE loud explosion knocked Darren to the floor. When he looked up as if in a daze he noticed a large monster like figure was standing their facing down the three hairy Trajans with their razor sharp teeth jutting from their lower jaws. THe huge mister had a body of burning fire and his eyes were a deep blood read of flame like coals. As the three hardly masters attmpted their charge the Jinn caught one and held him in his hand. He inspected the squirming ape like a child examine an insect he is about to kill or smash. THe Trajan immediately burst into flame. Blood spattered too the ground while the rest f the body turned too ash which a sudden wind which came about rather conveniently blew them away. A second Trajans stabbed the giant fiery jinn in the back. THe wooden javelin thrust in with no resistance. THe wooden staff burst into flame and the metal tip fell to the dirty ground. A meaty ball of fire in the shape of a fist exploded the hairy creature and that was the end of him. When the Jinn walked away a glowing metal spear tip remained burning a bright red on the ground. The third Trajan groaned in fear and ran toward the darkness of the forest. A jets treat of flame erupted from the Jinn's right hand.. The fleeing Trajan burst into flame. __________________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 5: Horse and Carriage. "We. Must go and quickly" the Jinn said urgently. Darren followed along silently, reeling still from the jock oogf observing the transformation he was unable to speak. Quickly they ran through the forest and headed towards a dirt road with a lantern and bench on the side of the road. "Do they have busses on these dirt roads?", Darren ventured to ask. "THis is definitely not Los Angeles." "Like I said earlier, this is not Los Angles it is not your world, this is sort of liked an Earth 2" explained MUrad. The screeches and the yells of the remaining Trajans began to get louder and the crackling of bushes seemed to be getting closer. " I hope the carriage gets here soon because I do not like the sound of what is coming our way through the forest." A slight tone of panic invaded the Jinn's voice as he looked worriedly toward the direction where the sounds were coming from. "Shouldn't be a problem " Daren stated matter of factly " I saw what you did to those creatures back there and believe me when I say that that you could take out an army has of them" The sound of the horse and carriage came rumbling through . Murad grave a sigh of relief as the antiquated horse and buggy approached. THe driver brought the horses to a halt and the two got on. OOnce they seated themselves the conversation continued . " To do what I did back there expends a lot of energy" commented the jinn. "You've taken on five guys before how did you feel after the fight was over?" THE Jinn asked his question in a challenging manner. "I'll bet you might have been tired" he commented almost as if an after thought.. Darren kept his counsel. " I have more teach you" MUrad continued once he ascertained that no one would be listening in on the conversation . "You see Darren" He continued " My job is to guard the portal or vortex between this Earth and your Earth" " Are there any other Earths?" Questioned Darren. "No there is just these two, however let me explain something to you. But before I do that I would like to know if you have ever heard of read such classics as "Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz or the Chronicles of Narnia?" Darren nodded in the affirmative. The Jinn continued . "In those stories you see characters going through a rabbit hole and winding up in a different world or maybe a windstorm takes a young lady to Oz or some kids go to Narnia through a wardrobe .Those are like portals or vortexes to other worlds. After your experience you may find that those classics were really not that fictional but rather based on reality" "You mean these authors traveled through these portal and went to the worlds they wrote about?" Darren asked excitedly "that is is awesome." "I am not so sure about those authors or those worlds they wrote about but there are people and we call them "GateHoppers" they make it their business or should I say there fortune t travel through these gates and exploit whatever they can" the Jinn answered back. " THere are some people that actually conduct commerce between the different worlds but it is very disruptive and it messes up the natural order of things." "Are saying that people bring stuf from one world too the next and sell it?" Daren questioned the Jinn. "Basically yes" the jinn with a sour expression written upon his face. "Most of the stuff they sell is not your typical merchandise like clothes, games or books but rather like weapons and slaves." "Slaves?" Darren asked jolting bolt right into his seat. "Like I said earlier there are a few people not a lot who travel these gate ways." the Jinn responded with slight irritation in his tone. "Which is where my tribe of Jinn come in." A bit of joy crept back to voice as he continued to explain his tribes role with regards to watching the gates. It was obvious that this was a source of pride for MUrad. "Our job is to stope these gate hoppers and prevent them from going through the gateways and bring their weapons and slave." MUrad paused as if to let the information slip in. "Just imagine there is a primative world and two. Nations or tribes are fighting. If someone from your world sells them weapons or firearms why that could tip the balance . As for slaves nay rich people can afford them and they keep their slaves inside " "Yeah I guess you are right abut that" Daren said sounding rather abject. "There are world that a man can find himself , now sometimes these gateways will take you to a different time period and that could be past or present." "Let me ask you something" Daren interjected " Go ahead" replied the Jinn. "If I went to the past. That means I could change it. Right?" Darren asked. "Here is the catch my young friend" explained the wisened Jinn 'what has happened has happened the past cannot be changed. You can try too change or prevent some historic event but the timeline corrects itself and goes back to the way it was." "So you can watch but you cannot change anything what about the future? Is that right?" "Going through the gateway can take you into the future, but one thing" the Jinn paused and again he habitually rubbed the stubble on his chin "I call it a false future, because I can only temporarily exist because someone can always change their mind in the present and that in turn effect the future." "So what your saying is that I can jump into the future but if I go back to my time and somehow reach that futures I once saw it will be changed? Is that right?" Asked Darren. "My point exactly" confirmed the Jinn " If you should cross a gate and go into the future and then go back to your time line you will have already changed the future" " How is that ? " Darren asked almost demanding an answer. "Nothing is set in stone, we have free will and we can do what we want" replied the Jinn. "You see someone goes into the future or they step through a gate, guess what happens?"MUrad said quizzing Darren. He spent a few moment trying to figure it out before he came up with an answer. "You can see the future and you can see how things are going to be" Ventured Darren "Well that is one ways of looking at it but you are only partially correct" MUrad countered with a slight laugh. "Point is once you enter the gate you are no longer in the timeline , it is like you disappeared, your future self is not there , but the current you will be." "What's the point of going through this future gate then?" Mused Darren. MUrad folded his hands on his lap. "See where your friend end up, look at investment trends" answered MUrad " You know which stock will make money which ones lose, that kind of knowledge fright there could make you a millionaire " "I see" Darrent said quietly. "It's not like I can see my future self and learn from his mistakes " THe jinn shook his head back and forth with a smile. A sudden roar etched through the woods as the carriage rambled through the dark woods. MUrad adopted a very serious look. __________________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 6 Attack of the Anzu THe carriage careened off the road into a clump of tree.. THE banging and the bouncing knocked them around like marbles on a jar Being shaken up. Darren's head banged solidly into the carriages roof Ceiling. HIs head made a hollow thud sound like a customer hitting a watermelon to determine it's quality. The roaring gt louder and louder . THe sound seemed to be descending from the air. Murad had not lost consciousness, after all a Jinn cannot get knocked out that easily. Murad moved the small curtain aside that acted as a barrier between the driver and his passenger. THe driver was not there. All that remained was large puddle of drying stick,y blood on the seat. If this is what I think it is Murad thought to himself things are not looking too good. The large cat likes roar echoed through the wood. A sound like wood being torn apart like paper could be heard as a large paw punched through the wall of the carrage. The paw felt around as is searching for something . Murad put up his Pinter finger and it lit up like a knife or blade cast into flames. The Jinn's hot finger penetrated the huge oversized cat like paw like a hot knife going through butter. THe creature immediately wrapped its paw and belched 0ut a furious roar. A series of intense bangs rocked the carriage and it seemed as though the wall would not be able to hold up. Another paw reached through and knocked the jinn down. Darren was just beginning to stir and his eyes were still a blur. Noticing that his fridge end was down and that this creature might well devour or at least kill them both. Darren realized that he would have to act quick if they were to get out of this mess alive that he would have to act quickly . A sharp spear like piece of wood broke free from the carriages wall and was lying right next to Darren. Quickly he grasped the wood , careful note to get splinters and rushed toward the probing paw that was searching the cabin as if looking for something. The harsh hitting movement of the other paws knocked against the carriage , knocking Darren to his feet at least three different times before he got close enough . A tool box slid it from under a seat and spilled out all it's. Contents some of which consisted oF sharp tools which could prove useful in trying to defend against what was beginning to seem like an oversized cat. It seemed like a cat but why did it come from the sky? The walls of the carriage were beginning to cm e apart. Acting quickly Darren pierced the creatures not hand and wedged his wooden spear into the crack. The giant creature's paw was trapped. An axe fell it of the tool box and slid to where Darren had the creature's paw trapped. Furiously he hacked at the monsters wrist. As the hand was severed from the wrist blood gushed every where. Murad grabbed Darren's wrist and pulled him through the carriage door. __________________________________________________________________________________________ Part 2 Chapter 1 Desert Oasis The smoke of Frankincense, Myrrh and permeated the inner sanctum of the temple. THe small cubicle liked room was filled with fragrant smoke that made me feel as if they were trapped with hi a small room of fog/ Grasping for air the elder priestess struggled to breathe. THe dream had been frightening ,the dream had been a portent. The last time she had such a vivid dream was when the conqueror from the north assumed the throne of Uruk. It had been dark days since. THe dream slowly came back to her, but it was no dream but rather a vision. In the dream a wounded creature flew through the air and died right at her feet. THe creature was an Anzu which was basically a leopard with wings. Known to be quite ferocious and powerful, due too their large size. Anzus could fly through the air swoop down and catch a grown man for a meal.. The vision had been vivid. The leopard like creature with it's yellowish brown skin had been flying through the air in lame circle going round and round. Upon seeing a town with people the Anzu flew down and landed. In the vision , the priestess head been on the outskirts of town collecting herbs for healing and offerings. The wounded creature was bleeding profusely with a bloody trail that followed him wherever he flew. When he landed, it was a few feet from where she was. "Frightening beast who have you decided to hunt this time? " she had asked knowing full well that these predators were dangerous and responsible for killing people. "Priestess of the Sacred God Sin please believe I have been deprived of food for days. On the brink of starvation I believed I would die when I chanced upon a human and a Jinn wandering about in the Central woods across the sea in a carriage. I attacked they fought back , the human stabbed me through the hand and pinned it to a wall in the carriage then he got it an axe and cut off my paw. So now death calls me back to Ereshkiagal's realm" the Anzu told his story his voice tinged with regret and anger. THE priestess leaned down too touch the dying beast to sea if she could heal him, he had lost too much blood . THe vision was too vivid. Dark clouds were forming on the horizon . Slowly the aged priestess ambled her way it of the room and into the main chamber. Catching her breath again she stiffened her body and picked up her pace. WIth deftness she dodged through the thronging crowd of people in the sook on her way to the temple of Nabu, the scribe God would be able to interpret this vision. Breathless from her run through the sook, she straightens herself up and walked toward the Zigguarat of Nabu. Although a priestess and one with an excellent relationship with the god she still could not storm up that mountain of building and petition the god. No she had to go through the lower levels with all the other worshippers. "Your face looks troubled moon priestess" noted the priest of Nabu. Concern was etched on his face. THE light shined off his bald head as he bowed reverently to the moon priestess. "It is a vision, priest and a troubling one at that." Sheer replied gulping down saliva "I can see" said the concerned priest. THe priestess shared the contents of her dream.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Return of the Spider God

Anansi BoysAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. The man has a knack for mashing up humor, mythology, fantasy, other realms and even horror in such a way that it creates an enjoyable masterpiece worth reading. In this book Neil Gaiman play with African mythology and puts it quite nicely with lots of humor into the modern times. The story also seems to borrow from Greek mythology because it involves two brothers.
The story starts of in England with Fat Charlie living with his mom who is soon to die of cancer. Charlie is about to marry Rosie but the marriage seems to lack passion. Then in comes Mr. Nancy. He is a bit over weight and a musician type, seemingly armed with a joke and an inexhaustible supply of charm. Fat Charley has always wanted to stay away from him as his jokes could be embarrassing. With his mother dying and his wedding coming up, Mr. Nancy shows up and charms everyone and then he leaves. When he looks for Mr. Nancy again he too has passed. Hanging out with Ms. Higgler who takes care of him like a second mother he finds out that his father was a god, the spider god. Anansi is a trickster god who plays all sorts of jokes that get the other gods angry. Charley also finds out he has a brother. Spider is his brother’s name.
Having spider show up throws life into turmoil. Spider interferes with Charlie’s love life. Creates complication at work and eventually gets charley arrested for a crime he did not commit. Impersonating Charlie, Mr. Spider seduces Rosie, informs Graham Coates that he has been caught stealing. More intrigue does follow. THE London police go to the Caribbean to solve a crime. Charlie in the process of finding out how to banish spider learns about how they are connected and ends up fighting his father’s foe’s

It is a great read. One that any Gaiman or mythology fan will enjoy

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Pazuzu's Child

Child of Pazuzu Blood and gore lay all around him. Bodies strewn across an ancient grassy field that looked parched of water like a man dying of thirst in a desert. The rage had come upon him once again, but not without good reason after all they were nothing but low life thugs with no right to live anyway. There was no covering this up, his DNA would be all over the place. Blood ,sweat, and years and then you threw in the possibility of saliva getting around. They were all dead killed by his bare hands. Bits of his dead victims would be embedded under his finger nails. Quickly he jerked his head suddenly like a fully inflated rubber ball that had been held under water for too long. Headlights he thought to himself. He ran from the withered grass field into the trees. It would prove rather troublesome to track him down in there. Then there was that part of Spring Glen that people just outright stayed away from. The isolated part of Spring Glen nestled in the hills had managed to trap the fog, so a permanent fog remained. Fog as thick as a concrete wall, even in the small area where it was confined people managed to get lost. Not only lost as in you cannot find your way but lost as in never returned. As if getting lost was not bad enough, people would fit report strange noises coming from the fog. At times little small children would report seeing strange creatures emerging from the concrete thick wall of fog. Something all the neighbors knew but never talked about. Things like this were hush hush, none of the neighbors really wanted the press or crowds milling around the neighborhood. The people after him had no clue he even lived there. Running up to the edge of the thick mass of fog. 'could drown in this thick sea of fog ' he said to himself. Although it was his only option left, he hesitated. One entered this sea of fog with caution and trepidation. " over there " someone yelled "I see him" quickly he turned his mop of foppish red hair towards the foggy bank of trees. There was only one choice and that was to run in. Inside the fog he could barely see two feet in front of him. Yet all around shadows could be seen, dark shapes dancing around. Like dark long thin shadows they moved around. What caused the shadows be he thought to himself. He had been in the fog once before, with a friend. The voices of his pursuers were getting louder, in the fog they were almost as blind as bats. His friends words came back to him. " duck low dude" his fat over weight friend had to him. They had survived that night and he would follow that advice tonight and live. Finding a tree he knelt down close the ground, neither pursuer not shadow would find him. One by one his pursuers fell victim to the wraithlike shadows. The shrieks of of horror the grown men wept like babies or women in the throes of a desperate panic. A hairy arm emerged from the thick soup like fog and wrapped it around some pimple faced thug with dirty curly blond hair. The sounds of screams and struggle echoed sending chills up and down his spine. Another thug was jumped from behind, the lower fangs of an ape like beast piercing the man through his back protruding through his chest. Screams were muffled by the red blood gurgling out of his throat like a slow molasses movement of lava.from a volcanic eruption. What ever these beasts of monsters were they were definitely not shadows. No human would Get through this alive. Quickly he moved his head from right to left back and forth seeking a way out of this deathtrap. Determining exactly where the most began and where it ended was impossible. The suddenly it appeared. A hole in the fog. At first it appeared to resemble an eye, only it was made of mist. Slowly it opened into a tunnel. "This my only chance but not much" he whispered silently to himself. Little bit by little bit he inched his way over to the vortex. As he dashed into the tunnel he heard a monster screech behind. He looked around and found not one of them pursuing him. What happened after that, No one knows. Things began to spin around and consciousness was lost. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+---------------------------------------------_---------------- Chapter2: the Jinn Guardian of the Gate He awoke to the sensation of a light push against his shoulder. Some older gentleman was nudging him gently . " say there young man you ok down there? " the old man asked stroking his white goatee which contrasted with his dark complexion. " where am I ? " he asked rubbing his head " and how did I get here? ". The old man just laughed. " young man I do not think you are ready for an honest answer" the man chuckled again and continued rubbing his goatee. " but I know a good place to start. " Looking around at the woods and the old shack that day in the midst of these woods. This was not spring Glen. This was not the hills just outside his old neighborhood. " Definitely not Spring Glen" he said aloud. " is this the deep south? " " No young man this is not the deep south and I ain't never heard of Spring Glen" the man straightened up ,adjusted his hat and began adopting a more serious tone " and you surly aunt no gate hopper" Getting up he began to brush his dirty hands against his worn out jeans. The faded denim with fray at the edges had miraculously no blood on them. " Young man are you aware that your hands are covered with blood and you may want to clean them off with some soap and water" the old man suggested wrily. " do I have blood on my face? " he asked. " A bit " answered the man looking the young teen ager over. " Listen Son " He Continued " You Are Obviously Not from These Parts and It looks to me like you have Had quite The Adventure" The young teenager shrugged as if giving up. " listen " he said " I live in Los Angeles and some guys were chasing me and I ran into this grove that has a permanent fog bank. " The dark man laughed to himself, massaged his goatee and then interrupted the young strangers story. " so you ran into the fog in order to get away from the people who were after you, and wait don't tell me they came after and you saw the fog open up into a tunnel and then you walked into it. Did I get it right? " he asked. The to be began lightening up. The young traveler let out a sigh and shook his head. " well sort but only worse" a brief pause ,the older man winced his eyes up. " well there were these creatures or monsters that looked like talk skinny apes or chimpanzees but they were vicious. " " I think I know what these monsters are but tell me a bit more " the old said. He gestured with his hand for the young traveler to follow along. " talk with ugly fangs going up from their lower jaw. The people who were coming after me were killed by them. " "Trajans" the older man interrupted. " What ? " asked the traveler in a tone that betrayed his confusion. " Trajans " the man continued " in the employ of Oid ,a wicked dwarf king from another world" the old man opened the door and beckoned the young guest to be seated. The young teenager beat down and slumped n exhaustion. " you come from Earth, Oid is dwarf king on a planet populated by mostly elves and dwarves plus fairies. Mankind has not arrived there yet. " "Other world?? Questioned the young red headed teenager with foppish hair. The old man poured some water in a kettle. He p!aced above a woodstove. The wood burst into flames as he touched his finger to the freshly cut logs. " wait a minute, how did you light up that wood, you had no match or lighter. " " Dont need a lighter or match" the old man shot back " I am Jinn" "What is jinn?" Asked the young man his scowl displaying his disbelief. " you never heard of jinn? " asked the Nunn " you really have never travelled a vortex or gateway before . " " I do not know what any of those are. " the teenager responded humbly revealing his ignorance of what the jinn was saying. The old jinn just shook his head. "Well son" he said using a fatherly tone " you have a lot to learn . But first let us start with introducing ourselves" _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter 3: The Jinn Teaches " Darren from Los Angeles,1989, " the old jinn repeated. He shrugged and then scoffed "well if I might say that you have found yourself in an alternate universe and right now you are in a different version of planet Earth" " What ? " Darren belted out his face scrunched up like he ate a sour lemon. " I can see you have a lot to learn" sighed the Nunn looking skyward as if imploring some higher being. " you do not even know what a jinn is " Darren shook his head confirming what the Jinnhad said. " Ever hear of venues or Aladdins Lamo.? " " yes ,yes, of course you rub the magic bottle and put they come to grant three wishes" Darren responded excitedly as if proud that he knew at least one thing the old jinn was talking about. "Burdick tea, care for some?" Asked the Jinn smiling as he placed a clean copper mug of steaming hot tea before his guest. Slowly he picked up the tea smelled and then cautiously took a sip. " for you humans this stuff is good for your liver, go on drunk up" urged the jinn. Darren complied with his hosts request. " Now listen son and listen well cause you have a lot to learn and I mean a lot" the jinn paused to let his words sink in. "I am going to teach quite a bit in a short time, you read me son?" Darren bobbed his head up and down indicating his comprehension ! So began the Jinn's lecture. Darren was told not to interrupt and to save all his questions for later. " let me start with explaining who we Jinn are. We have been around far longer than mankind. The world you live in used to belong to us and then, according to legend Allah or God decided to give it to mankind. The jinn were driven to another dimension. There were three major creation, us, you and angels. The jinn are made of fire, you humans are made of clay, while the angels are made of light. The Arabian legends say that Allah created Adam and everyone bowed down to him, except our leader, iblis. Our leader would only now down to Allah. For that the Jinn were compelled to another realm. Well that is what our legends say, I myself have never seen Allah and nor do I know of any Jinn who has seen or met allah. I have seen angels only rarely. Now at least you know who we are now. The genie is based on the Jinn. Do you know where the bottle came from? " Darren paused and just shrugged his shoulders indicating that he did not know. The Jinn then asked him another question. " What religion do you follow? " Darren paused and then have a one word answer. "Jewish" he said. " might make things easier, do you know much about king Solomon? " asked the jinn. Darren just shook his head left and right which meant no. He never believed in religion much and he had the feeling that the jinn felt the same way. In Arabian legend he is called Suleymam. The king needed help building a temple so he obtained a ring that gave him power to command the Jinn. After the jinn built his temple who proceeded to trap them in brass containers and then dump them out at sea. " " excuse me " Darren interupted. " is all that stuff real? " he asked the Jinn doubtfully. The Jinn paused and took a few moments to stroke the stubble of his chin. " the truth be told" the jinn laughed " I have never seen the big man upstairs and I have never met any Jinn who has met the big man upstairs. Neither have any angels met him or seen him. I guess we are like you humans in that respect. " " How Do You Pronounce your Name Again?" Darren asked changing subject. "Murad, you can pronounce Moorad" the old Jinn told him " I never told you about my origins and how I got here" "Before we get to that, I would like to say that when it comes to religion you and I think pretty much think alike" Darren paused in order to gauge the jinn reaction to what he was saying. " in other words religion is nothing but lies" " will Darren my response is i do not know " Murad responded" some of us Jinn do not believe in anything, others are Christians, Jews and pagans. I have a feeling we will never truly ever know" " What about the old monotheistic religion that honored such gods as Zeus or Odin? Any truth to that? " Darren ventured to ask.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Gilgamesh the King

Gilgamesh: A New English VersionGilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story of the great warrior king from Uruk has been retold countless times by the Mesopotamian people that inhabited the region and is well known by those modern folks who are pretty well read.
Uruk was a city-state in Sumeria that was ruled by Gilgamesh, who is said to be 2/3 divine and 1/3 human. His father, a human king, was Lugalband and his mother was Ninhursa. Ninhursa was a goddess. Now Uruk is a lesson in contradiction because on the one hand the king is a physically abusive tyrant and he is out of control. He makes young men engage in grueling physical sport and he takes any woman he desires. On the wedding night he has first dibs on the bride. The people are basically oppressed. On the other hand the city is glorious to live in. Men are kept happy by the priestess of Ishtar and the market place is uber colorful. The people in their anguish call out to the gods for help.
The gods create a person from clay named Enkidu. He will be 2/3 animal and 1/3 human the perfect balance to Gilgamesh. Enkidu is seen with the animals, a frightened trapper reports him to Gilgamesh. Now Gilgamesh advises the report to have Shamhat the temple priestess seduce him. She does tis quite well and ends up civilizing him. In Uruk Enkidu and Gilgamesh are destined to have a wrestling match after which the two become best friends. Their first adventure takes them to the Forests of Lebanon where the Cedars are guarded by a Humbaba the terrible monster. They defeat the monster and get the Cedar Wood. This incites Enlil’s wrath. Upon returning to Uruk, both the brothers are filled pride and exuberance. Ishtar the goddess of love is entranced by Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh spurns her advances and in her anger she send the bull of heaven. This leads to Enkidu’s death and Gilgamesh’s search for immortality.
The story is simple and yet filled with depth and meaning. Humbaba is portrayed as a monster but I reality he was set to guard the forest by Enlil. Trespassing on a deity’s forest is taboo or forbidden. He also does it for glory. Gilgamesh’s relationship with Ishtar is complex. On the one hand he sends her priestess on an important mission. The next he blatantly goes against her wishes. Everyone is on a quest for immortality but in the end we cannot live forever. Utnapistim, the only immortal advises that he stop seeking immortality and just life to its fullest.

There are many different versions of this tale. Stephen Mitchel tries to pull them all together to write this narrative. In the end it comes to another version of the tale and not just a translation. The author also covers some of the archaeological work that net into to finding this tale.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dictionary of the Gods

Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated DictionaryGods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary by Jeremy Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Several thousands of years ago the first civilization, Sumeria , was born in Mesopotamia ( the land between two rivers. They had system of gods and theology. They developed cities with irrigation and organized political leadership. Their culture was the basis for the later Babylonians, Assyrians and Chaldeans would later rule Mesopotamia after the Sumerians. Mesopotamian culture would have a profound impact of the neighboring cultures who would borrow extensively from Sumeria. Most obvious would be the gods. They were copied by other culture with sometime little or no modification. Other nations like the Elamites, Gudeans and Isis Larsin would come in and conquer parts of Mesopotamia but in the end they would become Sumerianized.

This book gives a dictionary entry for different aspects of Mesopotamian civilization. The book talks about the gods. Using Inana as an example. Inanna was a goddess if love initially. Later n as the Akkadians took over she became Ishtar, goddess of love and war. Mind you she was a protectress of prostitutes and she had them in her temple. Before she became the Inanna we love and know there were other goddesses of love like Isharra who were absorbed into her. Plus there were other Inannas for different town and cities. These different Inanna’s had different characteristics and performed different functions, eventually they god absorbed. Still wonder why we say all Goddesses are one Goddess.
Assur and Marduk are ones that got exchanged quite a bit. Marduk was the God who slew Tiamat and Kingu when they rebelled and threatened chaos. It was Marduk that slew them an created humanity and the world from them. Marduk was so popular that some worshipped him strictly to the point of becoming a monotheistic religion. When the Assyrians came to power they chose their god Assur to take his place. He would take on different characteristic of different gods. He would become the head honcho who took down Tiamat.
Exactly who were the inhabitants of Ancient Mesopotamia. First were the Sumerians and they did not have a mighty empire but rather they were divided by city states. Each state had its own patron deity. They were honored usually in a high temple called a Ziggurat. The top of the Ziggurat was the portal the god came through on. All the way down to the lower level is where people gathered to worship the god. The Sumerians appeared to just pop up in Mesopotamia and they spoke an agglutinative language. They wrote in Cuneiform. Next would come the Akkadians who were Semitic invader descended from Amorites. Hammurabi was Amorite. From the Akkadians would spring the Assyrians and the Babyonians..
The Babylonians had 2000 gods many with no names. If you read this book you will get a good in depth history of these gods. Some gods came from other pantheons and settled into the Mesopotamian way of doing things. More often their gods were borrowed by neighboring cultures. Such borrowing would include Ishtar. She was borrowed by the Canaanites and called Astarte. Ishtar then traveled to Greece where she became Aphrodite. The storm god Adad who is represent by cattle of Bison was present among the Hurrians and Canaanites. For those of you involved in paganism and magic you will not be surprised to know that the Sumerians started the magic circle. They also started Hieros Gamos or the mating of the Gods.

The book is short but crammed with lots of information. If you enjoy Mesopotamian history then this book is for you. Definitely red in conjunction with other books on the subject.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Saga of the Thunder Priestess

The Hammer of Greatness: Life of the Oseberg priestess (783-834 AD) (BLADE HONER Book 1)The Hammer of Greatness: Life of the Oseberg priestess (783-834 AD) by Maria Kvilhaug
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A tale that starts off with a dream by a sacred healer who lives close to the river with her people. The village is a place of freedom and peace. It is a place where women are respected and thing are rather matrilineal with the men following after the ways of the women. Much different from the Viking era world were men hold sway over everything. Perun or Thor the Thundergod is central to this story even if he is not actually present. The dream eventually come true. A wounded Norseman name Thorbjorn comes to a village wounded, he arrive at the Thunder Gods shrine. There he is met by the healer who marries him eventually and thy have two kids together. The healer had a child from before and her name is Zivah. Thorbjorn or Thunderbear as he is called has lived a life of disaster and has seen his whole family wiped out by a paranoid and power hungry king of Svears. Thorbjorn after leaving his village goes from one disaster to another on board a Viking ship where he is circled by multiple enemies an wounded badly. That I how he gets to the village. The two children they have together are Thordis and Thorowolf.
After the birth of Thordis the relationship between Thorbjorn and Zivah starts to deteriorate. Zivah was once meant to follow in her mothers footsteps and be a healer uut when Thorbjorn midwifes his daughter into birth Zivah is angry because she was supposed to do that. So she hates her family breaks the hart of many young men while fantasizing about marrying a rich prince. Her flirtations with bad people get her into some danger as her younger sister looks out for her and Thorbjorn must kill rogue Viking to protect her.
Life changes when one day the Viking Rus invade their village and wipe out the inhabitants. Zivah survives and is almost violated on many occasions. Her mother dies protecting her . Thorbjorn dies in battle. Thorwolf died years earlier in a drowning accident. Zivah is relegated to the status of a concubine while Thordis gets recognition as a Thunder Priestess in the making. Life will change for both girls as they realize their destinies as blade honers. Blade honers make men strive to be better than they are at present. Zivah adapts to being a slave in the Rus Viking compound.

The strong point of this book despite it being a rather good story that is very entertaining to read but the author is very knowledgeable about Norse life back in Viking time and she has done her research. Think she has PHD in Ancient History of that period. She does not glorify the Viking like lots of authors are tending to do. They were a rough group of slaver and raiders yet they did have a code of honor. But they could be very mean and very nice in comparison. The slavers take the girls through the slave markets of Khazaria and Arnulf the Viking leader tls about life in Baghdad and there is some meaty discussion on religion. An excellent book and very informative.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast - All Four VersionsBeauty and the Beast - All Four Versions by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely one of the most popular faery tales, it has been made into a movie or tv series countless times. Disney made a carton movie out of it, later on the French made a movie out of it and now there is a new version out. The TV series makes further twists on the plot. When it comes to faery versions there are basically four major ones. The first one is just a regular faery tale, the second is a condensed version of the first, The Grimm Brother version is much different while the fourth is written by Andrew Lang.
The first version is the most complete of all. In fact it is so complete that the ending part which explains everything in great detail becomes rather long and painful. Sometimes I got lost while reading the ending part because in reality it goes into the backstory rather in depth, something which the other three don’t. Most versions of the story start out with a wealthy business man who loses everything after a fire burns his house and his fleet of boats get drowned in a storm. With very little money let the merchant takes his sons and daughters to a country villa where they have to do their own chores now. Further in the tale the father gets word that one of his ship made it. Expecting great fortune the kids all want expensive gifts, everyone except beauty who wants just a rose. Well his partners thought he was dead and split everything up. On the way home with almost nothing to show for his endeavors , the merchant gets caught in the snow it is during a snow storm that he finds relief in a castle. He is well fed and well rested and spying on a rose, he takes one that is when he is confronted by a beast. The beast threatens to kil him in retaliation for taking his rose after receiving such great hospitality. In return for letting the merchant live his daughter must take his place. She must stay there forever and she is expecting to die. The beast , however, kills her with kindness. He tries to woo her and get her to fall in love. When she wants to go home for a week or month or two months depending on the version the beast lets her and he gives her magiac so she can get back quickly. When she takes too long he starves himself almost until the point of death. At this point she realizes her love for him and agrees to marry him. The Beat turns into a prince and a handsome one at that. The second version pretty much ends there while the fourth version, written by, Andrew Lang, explains that then a wicked faery turned him into the beast for spurning her. He would have to have a virgin fall in love with him. The first version goes into even more detail. It notes that the princes mother wants him to marry royalty. Good thing that Beauty was an adopted child by her merchant father. Her real father is a king. There is also a good faery who teaches them how into counter the wicked faery’s spell. The wicked faery helped the prince’s mother capture land and maintain her kingdom. It goes a bit into faery politics.
The Grimm version is much much different. In this version the beast is a lion and instead of a rose the man takes a bird. There is a sojourn back home and the revived lion gets well and marries her. When she wants to go home with him for a celebration he warns her that if he is touched by candle light he will turn into a dove for seven years. Well he gets touched by candle light and she has to pursue the dove for seven years. She asks the winds for help as well as the sun and the moon. They each give her gifts which she will need. It ends up that the lion has resumed his form and is fighting a dragon who happens to be a queen. Magic makes them resume human form an away he goes with the queen leaving his beloved behind. She follows him to the kingdom but he has forgotten her. Twice she triks the evil queen into letting her sleep in the same room as her husband. Eventually she wins him back. Fun read an very informative to see how different versions of a story play out.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

French Art of Seduction

French Women Don't Sleep Alone:French Women Don't Sleep Alone: by Jamie Cat Callan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

American men love international women, they are mysterious, exotic and alluring . The French women have this kind of allure and enchantment over all men who come into contact with them. How do they do it? They are much more interesting than American women and this book tells why.

This book was written by an AMerican woman who is an admirer of the French and has spent some time there. It is a guide for American women on how's to be seductive like French women are. While it is a book for women I think the men can learn a thing or two from it as well .

First off French women do not date. Dating is boring and stressful and to me totally unromantic . French women have a circle or coterie of friend, both male and females . They invite friends over to dinner parties and basically mingle with everybody and everybody mingles with everybody else. You are not closed or boxed into the two hour interview. Men and women can see each other in a natural environment. They can also converse and be flirtatious which means that the man has to compete with others for the French woman attention. IF a woman or man like each other they will often go for a walk in the park for further conversation. This lets the man observe that the woman is being admired by other men and that if he does win her heart he can still be replaced by other admirers.

French men know they can never fully possess the French woman which helps keep it interesting . He can lose her in a second if can he fails to properly attend to her. French women always maintain the mysterious so as to keep the guy guessing. They never get to familiar. French women make have their secrets and they enjoy and employ constant change. There's coterie of friends keep her confident and alive. They do not collapse into relationships and forget about everyone else. THey do things separate from their lover. Remember familiarity breeds contempt.

The author discuses several techniques for a woman to look and feel sexy. French women definitely take care of themselves . They cultivate their minds and skin. Education and really nice creams for the skin. They also eat in moderation. Enjoy everything but do not pig out. They wear lingerie underneath their clothes and even if men cannot see the lingerie the woman feels sexy and that shows.

I learned many things from this book and I recommend it highly. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Herbal Remedies

Herbal Remedies A-Z: Your Complete Guide to Natural Health and BeautyHerbal Remedies A-Z: Your Complete Guide to Natural Health and Beauty by Infinite Ideas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Herbal Remedies A-Z

This nifty book has just about every herb listed and what it can be used to treat. The description of the herbs gives formulas and preparations for various ailments.

More and more people are switching and /or starting to use herbs. For one herbs are cheaper than medications and have fewer side effects. Besides if you have the sniffles or stomach upset you do not want to run to the doctor or I ingest medication that has side effects. Plus Trump might take away your health care.

Here are some notes from
What I read.

Caraway seeds are great digestive agents and a noted anti-flatulence remedy. In north-European cookery they are often added to gas producing dishes such as cabbage.

Arnica to treat bruises, sprains, strains, swelling and fractures, and calm the pain that they cause. It’s a marvellous remedy.

Cayenne is a warming spice that helps to thin mucus, so can be helpful for bronchitis. It can also improve circulation for problems like varicose veins. Hot cayenne pepper delivers a terrific boost to the immune system.

For body odour, especially under the arms, James Duke, a leading US authority on healing herbs, suggests using cider vinegar. Swab the underarms with it. Steep several leaves of sage in it for a couple of weeks, to make it even more effective.

Those are just a few remedies. It is not the complete end all but for the price it is a good read with lots of good information;

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Moroccan Intrigue

The Lioness of MoroccoThe Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those easy read stories that grabs you and totally engrosses you. The Lioness of Morocco is one of those stories that could be reworked into a movie or a tv series. In a nutshell this was a surprisingly enjoyable read. The story line is not your typical beginning, rising action and the climax, rather it is a story that documents the life of a fictitious woman in the mid 1800's Mogador, Morocco.

The story starts off in London at Spencer and Son's shipping. Syballah is an intensely independent woman with an extremely shrewd business acumen. Syballah also tends to flaunt safety rules by bringing her carriage into the docking area. Which leads to her meeting Benjamin Hopkins. Benjamin Hopkins is a rather ambitious young man who wants to get ahead and is willing to cut corners to do it, evidenced by his future plantation in Cuba and his dabbling in the slave trade. The carriage topples over into the water and Benjamin rescues Syballah. This leads to marriage although Syballah does not really love Benjamin. After their marriage Benjamin does not hesitate to boost his wardrobe and other nifties.

The two are later sent to Morocco to open up trading . Benjamin runs the trading while Syballah makes clothes and trades with the ladies in the Sultan and the governor's harem. She is also very respectful of the culture, while her husband is totally opposite. His negative attitude towards Moroccan culture sometimes leads to higher tariffs and taxes for the company. It also makes him enemies. One day he tips off a beggar and then finds himself locked in the Mogador dungeon on charges of dealing with slavery.
Syballah also has a French friend,named Andre Rouston. Together they come up with a plan to rescue him but political events cause a bombing raids against Mogador by the French and Benjamin goes missing. Needful to note both Syballah and Benjamin are having extra marital affairs.

A brief affair with Andre after Benjamin's disappearance produces a young girl named Emily who is raised by, Syballah. The affair with Sybala and Andre comes to an end when as part of a gift from the Sultan , Andre gets an estate and a young woman named Aynur. Andre is drugged and ends up marrying Aynur. The next adventure occurs when Emily finds her father and the estate is attacked by locusts and Berber raiders. Behind it all is a mysterious person.

If you enjoy stories about the Middle East , especially during colonial times then you will enjoy this one. It has plenty of intrigue and plotting along with several love triangle to keep things moving. Lots of forbidden love and definite insights into Moroccan life and culture.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Eddas Translated

The Poetic Edda - Six Old Norse Cosmology PoemsThe Poetic Edda - Six Old Norse Cosmology Poems by Maria Kvilhaug
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Poetic Eddas

Translating poems from the Viking or Norse times can prove to be a challenge. Certain Norse words can have multiple meanings in the given language being translated to, this of course could change the meaning of the entire poem. Then there is the issue of capturing the spirit of the poem. These two items can prove to be a challenge. Characters like Loki and others were mentioned rather extensively yet there is no record of them having a place to be worshipped. Others had several places to be worshipped yet are hardly mentioned in the Eddas at all. Moreover it is important to note that deities were not just characters but rather served or could serve as metaphors to move the story forward. The poems themselves were never meant to be taken literally but were rather vehicles to convey a hidden truth.

Maria Kvilhaug has done a fine job translating the poems and rendering to the reader what possible meaning they may have. Perhaps these poems might not be the most entertaining they are worthy of study and if one wants that deeper understanding then this is one book along with perhaps several others that should be read. Perhaps there is one issue I might have with this is that instead of using the Norse names she renders it in the exact translation. That makes it a bit confusing and hard to follow along with. It must be noted that several of the adventures are really symbolic initiations where in the initiate is symbolicly burned three times before they are initiated or given their powers. Freya the goddess of the Vanir is burned three times before she is given immortality.

In several of these poems there are verbal battles like when the all knowing dwarf wants to marry Thors daughter he answers a bunch of riddles to prove his worth. There is also another poem where in Odin is debating one being or another and a verbal question and answer period begins. The Norse were also big on lineages as in the first poem when the gods are at a feast they encounter the three fares and they inform them of the worlds history.

If you are interested in reading the Eddas I would advise reading Snirri Stulson or some other core translator and then read this book to get the deeper meaning.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Djinn Falls in Love

The Djinn Falls in Love & Other StoriesThe Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories by Mahvesh Murad
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The djinn are coming into their own it seems, now a days we are seeing an explosion of literature and movies about the Djinn. This is a book of short stories about or including the Djinn. These beings called fhe Djinn are being created by Allah of smokeless fire. Angels are being of light and we humans are made of clay .

This compilation is filled with a slew of Djinn stories by way too many authors that I could even begin to name. Some have never been published while others are small,time. Quite a few have put out books about the Djinn or at least Djinn fiction. Most notable of these authors are Neil Gaiman and Sami Shah.

The excerpt is taking from Gaiman's book "American Gods" in this vignette a young man comes from the Middle East to sell,souvenirs to companies. The salesman is down on his luck. Then he meets a Djinn cab driver and the two hit it off romantic stuyle. This must be a nod in depicting gay lovers in lit as there is another story that involves gay lovers. In this other story, not by Gaiman, a pawnshop owner loses a wish gun and the Djinn huntress has come to receive it. Low and behold the pawn shop owner is killed by this gun. In the end he is reunited with his lover, a Christian priest.

Sami shah is aPakistani writer and comedian. he has written " Boy of Fire" about a boy who is half djinn. In this short story the American military is keeping an eye on a Taliban village. While observing this they witness a djinn girl murder a villager and a Taliban terrorist. In the end she is seemingly executed but how can humans kill Djinn?

In the other stories we have Djinn possession of astronauts in space. Other stories have a post apocalyptic world where it humans and Djinn against corporations. Some stories involve kids pulling out an old tome and conjuring the Djinn. If the djinn are your thing then this book is for you.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Jerusalem of the Balkans; The Heart of Sephardic Jewry

Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern GreeceJewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece by Devin Naar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Salonica, once hailed as a Jewel,of the Balkans was once home to a very vibrant Sephardic Jewish community. The city was called " the Jerusalem of the Balkans" and the heart of Sephardic Jewry. The city was so completely Jewish that not only were a good many were Jews in Salonica but the city businesses were closed on STurday. Many Jewish leaders, especially the liberal ones proposed that Salonica be homeland for the Jewish people instead of Palestine. Of course this was not to be.

Ultimately the community of 50,000 Jews perished in the holocaust when the Nazis took over . Despite the fact that Jews were such an integral part of Salonica, many Orthodox Christians helped the Nazis round up Jews and deport them to Aushwitz. Only 2000 Jews remained and when they returned they found their cemetery bet achain was taken over. Their synagogues were destroyed with decorative motifs stolen to aggrandize other churches and private homes. Parts of a Torah scroll were used to make soles of someone's shoe. Tombstones were used by Mason's for various construction purposes. Total,desecration. Even a church leader exhorted his corelifionist to help the Greek Jews. The plea fell on deaf ears. The survivors have move forward while maintaining the memory of Salonica.

The genesis of this community occurred after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. The sultan allowed them into Ottoman lands. Under the Ottomans the Jews were called th most loyal millet. They had almost complete autonomy and there was no pressure to speak the Turkish language. The Jewish community appointed their Hachamm Bashi to deal,with the central government . The rabbis ran their community like a fiefdom. They had control over their own education.

After World War I Salonica was part of Greece. Life for the Jews of Salonica took a turn not necessarily for the better but not a state of decline like some would like to think. With treaty of Lusane there was massive population shift between Turkey and Greece. All th Muslims in Greece went to Turkey and all the Orthodox Christians of Turkey were moved to Greece. Most of these Christians were not so Greek. They spoke and were Slavic. Greece for their survival and Natioanl interest had to create a Greek society.

For the Jews this meant less autonomy and lots of changes. The first was their autonomy. Where as back in the day they completely ran their affairs like a state within a state, now they had to cooperate with the central govt. this presented a challenge for the Jewish community both within and with their neighbors. With were challenges of selecting a rabbi. Who should it be? Should the rabbi be modern? More Sephardic more ashkenazi? There were changes in the education. The courses for secular studies had to be in Greek, students had to learn Greek history. Education was meant to Greekify everyone. The Jews also had to deal with rising antisemitism and land expropriation.

This book gives a very thorough history of the Salonica Jewish community from the ending of Ottoman rule all the way through a the interwar years culminating with annihilation in World War II. Let the memory of Salonica live on.

I do not like to delve into politics but this history just goes to show that no matter how good the Jews may have it in a certain location in the end they always suffer a massacre or major pogrom. It underscores the need for Jewish homeland somewhere on this planet. I will not speculate on there "where should it be?"

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Holy Morroccan Sage engaged in Prayer

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.
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