Of Ghouls and Goblins and Other Mischief

First off: shameless self promotion! The first Dreadtime Stories has been posted! The premier Halloween Episode is now live! Check it out here !

This past week has been insane! Everything from Texas Renaissance Festival starting last Friday to tomorrow night's Samhein (pronounced Sow*ween or Sow*wen) gathering has been a whirlwind. So much last minute planning involved with everything that I haven't really had a minute to myself. Fortunately, though, I do now. The boys are both at work and the kitty is curled up next to me while I get a little bit of Blogging and research done. So much to talk about!

TRF was a blast for everyone in attendance I think and, apart from my ass getting kicked by a port-a-privvy, everyone went relatively unscathed. I wanted to share with everyone the gift that I received at Renfest this year. It came from the love of my life and means the world to me. Matt purchased me an Astrolabe. It is about 3in in diameter, made of pewter and is fully functional as a working astrolabe (that would be the picture of what it looks like up there ^ ). So as not to bore you with a full history lesson I will just give you the basic overview as to what they are. I have been fascinated by them since I was in High School and to this day feel a very strong connection to them. Hell, I think even Matt felt the connection I had for it because he walked with me for almost two hours trying to find the goddamn shop again!

"Astrolabes are used to show how the sky looks at a specific place at a given time. This is done by drawing the sky on the face of the astrolabe and marking it so positions in the sky are easy to find. To use an astrolabe, you adjust the moveable components to a specific date and time. Once set, the entire sky, both visible and invisible, is represented on the face of the instrument."

"The Astrolabe was developed at the Greek school in Alexandria about 160 B.C. by Hipparchus. Great scientific strides forward at that time were the result of combining the Greek sciences with Babylonian mathematics. This was all made possible by the conquests of Alexander the Great who established a vast empire throughout the Mediterranean. The Astrolabe was known to scholars from then on, and was used as a slide rule of the Heavens. Direction, time, angles, and the position of the celestial bodies could all be calculated. When Prince Henry the Navigator established his seafaring fleet, he began using the Astrolabe to navigate the ships. For many years, this gave the Portuguese the exclusive ability to navigate open waters, which the other countries could not do. When Sir Francis Drake raided ports along the South American coast he was forced to flee from the Spanish ships. Drake attacked a Portuguese ship and took its Navigator hostage to guide him on his round the world voyage, thus avoiding the Spanish Fleet. All the great voyagers in the age of exploration navigated with the Astrolabe, including Columbus, Magellan, and Drake."

Like Most Astronomical instruments from "The Good Old Days" some people believe that you can map your destiny out with these things. I am a little more practical in the sense that the Astrolabe is just a VERY elaborate compass. You would think that I would be contradicting myself when I told you that the Astrolabe is the symbol for my Spiritual group. In essence, no. I don't believe anyone treats the Astrolabe as having the ability to tell your future or point out where your destiny is pre-ordained. This beautiful piece of work is simply a symbol for us to aide in pointing us in the right direction in times of stormy weather.

I will cherish this gift until I die.

On another note! Halloween is my holiday. From when I was a kid I think I looked forward to Halloween more than I did Christmas (and for a kid, that's saying something). As I got older my ways slowly changed while I was in transition to becoming Pagan. Now that I am and have done all the research I can finally appreciate the origins and meanings behind Samhein, the bastardization it received from the Church in turning it into a day of evil, and well, I can still enjoy a piece of candy or two.

This year will be the second year that we host our Samhein gathering out at Ben's. This will be the first of those two where we will be blessed to have wet enough whether for our mini bon-fire. I say mini because it's only going to be about five feet long and five feet high (before the flames are added). I think that was our biggest worry in all of it. Last year's Burn Ban nixed all chances of us having a fire outside a little metal enclosure. This year we have cleared it with the county sheriff's office and there is no burn ban in effect! So we will Camp out for the second weekend in a row, build a large fire that indicates light in the presence of darkness, welcome the Fae-folk and spirits with ceremony, laughter and song, and just all in all enjoy the Pagan New Year!



Astrolabe information gathered from http://www.astrolabes.org and http://www.puzzlering.net/astrolabe.html respectively

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