Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Ur-Text

I came across this in Barbara G. Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets."  It's damn interesting!


Greatest legendary treasure of medieval Hermetic magic, after the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone.  The Ur-Text was supposed to be a magical grammar of the primordial tongue, whose words God pronounced at creation in order to bring forth the things themselves, that is, the words could create, just by being spoken.  The idea was based on eastern notions of the creative power of Sanskrit, the Mother-language. (1)  Another development of the idea was the Neoplatonic Logos or "Seminal Word," which was adopted as a Christian dogma.  See Logos).

Presumably the Ur-text emanated from Abraham's "Ur of the Chaldees," famous as the home of magic and astrology.  The medieval theory was that all words and names exerted some influence over their objects, hence the efficacy of both magic spells and liturgies.  But in all known languages, the power of the word was slightly displaced from the true essence of the thing, as the calendar was slightly displaced from the sidereal year.  In the Ur-text, words were precisely aligned with essences or "souls," so the words could control things and events absolutely.

The implications were the same as in the Hindu idea of the "holy language" of Sanskrit.  Knowledge of the Ur-text would give a man absolute power over the universe; whatever he said would come true at once.

Many magicians identified the Ur-text with the equally wonderful Book of Thoth, named after the Egyptian god of magic and mentioned in very old Egyptian folk tales as a written version of Thoth's technique for creating by the power of the Word. [In other words, the founders of Christianity borrowed liberally from a very old theology.]  One story claimed the book wa sfound by a sage named Satni-Khamois in a Memphite tomb.  It contained only two formulae but they were great hekau (words of power):

The two formulae that are written there, if thou recitest the first of them, thou shalt charm the heaven, the earth, the world of the night, the mountains, the waters; thou shalt understand what all the birds of heaven and the reptiles say, as many as there are.  Thou shalt behold the fish, for a divine power will bring them to the surface of the water.  If thou readest the second formula, even when thou art in the tomb, thou shalt resume the form thou hadst on earth; thou shalt also behold the sun rising in the heavens, and his cycle of gods, alto the moon in the form she has when she appears.(2)

The first beneficiaries of this wondrous magic became immortal, not by reading the book but by eating the papyrus it was written on -- although the book continued to exist, hidden in underwater vessels guarded by the Great Serpent. (3)  Eating instead of reading a piece of magical literature was a common Oriental method of absorbing the virtue of magic words even when one is unable to read.  In Tibet, Madacasgar, China, and Japan it was customary to cure diseases by writing the curative charm on paper and eating the paper, or its ashes. (4)  Tartar lamas wrote the names of medicines on paper and made the patient swallow the prescription; for they believed "To swallow the name of a remedy, or the remedy itself...comes to precisely the same thing." (5)

The same notion was often found in the west.  The modern pharmacist's Rx began as a curative symbol of Saturn,l written on paper and eaten b the patient. (6)  A common medieval prescription for toothache was a paper bearing the magic words by which Jesus removed a worm from St. Peter's tooth. (7)  The Venerable Bede declared that scrapings from the pages of "books that were brought out of Ireland," when drunk in water, instantly cured snakebite. (8) [Shades of St. Patrick!]

With so many different kinds of credulity in regard to the written words - especially among the majority to whom all writing was a mysterious, unknown magic -- it is hardly surprising that belief in the Book of Books, the Ur-text, survived.  Some of the beliefs concerning the Ur-text became attached to the Latin Bible, which the medieval church would not allow to be translated into any other language, even though the readings from the purpit were quite incomprehensible to most congregations.  The theory was that Latin was the language of St. Peter's Roman see, and God intended the Bible to be written in that language and no other, for the magic efficacy of the words lay in their sound, which would be lost if they were rendered in another tongue.  Thus, out of superstitious belief in the power of the Word, the church kept the "dead" language of Latin alive within its own in-group for over 1500 years.

(Notes will be added later).

Female Fighter Pilots Were Expunged from "Return of the Jedi"

What?  What kind of bullshit is this!  Un-fricking-believable!  1983 wasn't exactly the dark ages; although sexism in the United States was still rampant, it wasn't as blatant as it used to be back in the days of Ike E. Women had burned their bras years before, and with the advent of birth control pills, it was a sexual free for all.  The Equal Rights Amendment had been shot down by certain state legislatures (we all know who THEY are, don't we) but other laws were then passed guaranteeing certain rights for females.  Not perfect but we've come a long fricking way, baby, from 1951, the year I was born.  And all these years I thought George Lucas was an advanced form of human being.  How disappointing to find out he is just another penis looking for a ho to hide in.  Too chicken shit to stand up for his editorial independence.  Bah!  Spit spit.

Three female Rebel pilots were discharged from ‘Return of the Jedi’

The Rebel Alliance now seems a little bit less like a galactic Boys Club. [Are you kidding?  It was even worse than I thought!  And the man who wrote this piece is full of shit.]

The final battle against the Death Star in "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983) used to have a bit more of a woman's touch as it's been revealed that there were actually three female Rebel pilots taking on TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers as they waited for Han Solo and the gang to blow up the shield generator bunker on Endor (ah, old war stories!).

There were three unnamed lady pilots in "Jedi," two of which can be seen in the extras for the Blu-ray release of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Both of them were A-Wing pilots, with one even getting a line ("Got it," which was actually dubbed by a male actor in post-production) before getting shot down by a TIE Fighter seconds later. The second pilot is, surprisingly, considerably older ... and could now indeed be the inspiration for a new wave of fan fiction (she's a retired Rebel vet who's allowed to come back for one last hurrah against the Empire after being deemed too old for duty during the Battle of Yavin in "A New Hope," perhaps?). [Why is it surprising that a woman would be a fighter pilot for the Rebels and what, exactly, does "considerably older" mean?  Was that particular female pilot in her 80's?"]

There was a third female pilot in the Battle of Endor as well. French actress Vivienne Chandler didn't make it into the Blu-ray extras, even though she spent three days on the "Jedi" set and had an entire line of dialogue between herself and another pilot. She also got to fly the much more iconic X-Wing, the ship of choice for her Rebel colleague, Luke Skywalker. Even though actual footage of her in full Rebel mode doesn't seem to exist, she's managed to stay a part of the "Star Wars" universe as she's now a staple on the convention circuit.

There's been no official explanation as to why these characters were cut, though fan speculation suggests that the filmmakers may have deemed the sight of ladies getting blown to smithereens to be too intense for moviegoers ... especially when one could pass for your grandmother. [Oh really? But it's been perfectly all right all these years to show women being terrorized, raped, tortured, murdered and cut up with knives and every kind of saw you can imagine in countless movies to hit the big screen as well as many television series episodes, but you know, that's because chicks were just born to be victims, baby, hey hey.]

We have a feeling a lot of the Rebellion's apparent gender discrimination will have dissolved in time for "Episode VII." "Star Wars" needs women, and "Star Wars" will get them if Disney has anything to say about it. [Yeah.  Right.]

More coverage:

Luke, I'm your female co-worker: How women pilots helped take down the Death Star (...before getting chopped down in the editing suite)
December 14, 2014 The Mail Online

Hey, here's the "old chick" female fighter pilot, her photo is in the Mail Online article:

But it seems gender - and even age - are not barriers to being a good Jedi, with one of the females appearing to be in her late 40s or early 50s. 

They're kidding, right?  I don't know any woman in her late 40's or early 50's who looks like this - not even in 1983.  I'm 61 and I don't look like this.  It is absolutely cool, however, that this actress was cast in this role.  I expect the film people piled on extra make-up to give her those deeply grooved frown and jowl lines.  Just imagine the experience she would have had as a pilot, to survive all those years and all of the battles, when the male teenage wasteds were being blown out of the skies left and right.  Ha!   No way was this actress in her late 40's or early 50's.  Geez, some people are so clueless.

Here's Vivienne Chandler.  She should have been cast in Top Gun, perhaps her character's handle could have been "Melt Ice:"

She looks like Princess Leia in that photo, doesn't she...

Auction Watch: Amber Gaming Board Sets Sale Record

What can I say?  It is an incredible folding board that features a chessboard (western style on an 8 x 8 board) upon which checkers (draughts) can also be played, a backgammon board, and a nine men's morris board, all finely wrought to perfection.  That the board is alleged to have belonged to a controversial English king is a plus.  Here is the story from the Daily Mail:

Cheque mate: Chess board taken by King Charles to his execution sells for £600,000 to private collector
  • Amber games board was believed to be one King Charles took to execution
  • Sold for more than £600,000 to a private collector at an auction in London
  • Monarch was an avid fan of the game, and was playing when told of betrayal
By James Rush

[Excerpted] An amber chess board taken by King Charles 1 to his execution has been sold for a record £600,000.

One of the photographs from the article.  Images of the backgammon
and merrels board are also included in the article.

The board was owned by the controversial King, who was such an enthusiast for chess he was engrossed in a game when a messenger told him he had been betrayed by the Scots to the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War.

The news sealed the royal's fate and he was executed on January 30, 1649.

It is known the King took with him two precious possessions to the scaffold where he was beheaded: a Bible and an amber games board, believed to be the one that has now sold for £601,250.

Erik Bijzet, an expert in European sculpture at auctioneers Sotherby's, said: 'This board was made by Georg Schreiber who was known as the "King of the Gamesboards".

'He was an amber worker in Koeningsberg, the capital of Prussia, where amber washed up on the shores of the East Sea in small amounts.
'The board is dated 1607 and was given to either James I or Henry Frederick as Charles was only seven-years-old then.

'When at the height of the Civil War a messenger arrived to inform Charles that he had been betrayed by the Scots he didn't rise from his game of chess, even though his fate had effectively been sealed.
'Charles took a Bible and a games board with him to the scaffold where he was beheaded.'
Following his death the items were passed on to his personal chaplain, Bishop William Juxon, who read Charles his last rites.  The board then remained in his family until the 18th century before it was acquired by British peer Sir Robert Hesketh.  It has now been sold by the Second Baron Hesketh's Will Trust.

The board was bought at auction in London by a private collector, following a dramatic bidding war, for £601,250, the highest amount ever paid for an amber games board.  Mr Bijzet said: 'It entered into the ownership of the Hesketh family and an inventory of their possessions is the earliest record that mentions that the board belonged to Charles.

'Besides the provenance, this board is a tour-de-force of amber working, is of superb quality and was made by the maker of Royal chess sets. We only know of four comparable boards, none of which have seemed to survive in good condition.'

The board, which measures 27ins by 13ins, opens into two halves, allowing it to be used for different games including chess, backgammon, draughts and Nine Men's Morris, a strategy board game which emerged from the Roman Empire. [Note: Nine men's morris or merrels was played long before the Romans existed as a culture. The ancient Egyptians played the game.]
The board would have been extremely sought after and expensive during the 17th century due to amber being found only in small quantities. 

Mr Bijzet said: 'Everyone in the saleroom seemed to hold their breath when the bidding went down to the collectors.  As these two reached the limits of their resources a third contender in the front row entered the bidding and won the object.'

Monday, December 10, 2012

St. Ursula Badge Found

St. Ursula, ooooh la la la la la.  More about her, later :)

From BBC News

Rare St Ursula badge donated to Museum of Lancashire

A rare medieval badge that was found in a field near Preston has been donated to a Lancashire museum.
Paul King found the badge when he was trying out a new metal detector

The silver badge, showing one of the companions of St Ursula, was found by Paul King when he was trying out a new metal detector last summer.
Valued at about £500, the artefact will go on display at the Museum of Lancashire in Preston.
The badge, which was worn by people on pilgrimages, has previously been on display at the British Museum.

They were popular between the late 12th and early 16th Centuries and pilgrims would buy one with a different image of a saint at each shrine they visited.

However, most of these badges were made of lead-alloy, not precious metal.

The shrine of St Ursula is associated with Cologne in Germany, where there is a chapel decorated with the supposed bones of her companions.

Museum manager Charlotte Steels said it was "wonderful to have such a rare object donated to the museum".

Sidebar at BBC:


  • Ursula was a British princess, sent abroad to be married to a Pagan prince
  • She went on a three year pilgrimage before ending up in Cologne, Germany
  • She is said to have taken 11,000 virgins with her
  • Her companions were murdered by Huns
  • Ursula was killed by an arrow
  • She was martyred and became a saint
Eleven thousand virgins, heh?  Wonder how many of them were still virgins when they got back home -- if they got back home.  What a pile of bullshit, people!  LOL!

More like, Ursula and her band of merry virgins were prostitutes who followed soldiers, pilgrims, crusaders, and anyone else who might want to avail themselves of sex for a price.  But that's just my cynical take on the subject.  Let's see what Barbara Walker has to say about St. Ursula:

Ursula, Saint

Christianized form of Saxon Goddess Ursel, or Horsel, the "Ercel" of Thomas Rhymer's Erceldoune, and the Venus of the Horselberg-Venusberg.  Ursel means "She-Bear," the title of Artemis Calliste, the same as the Helvetian Goddess Artio, in the guise of Ursa Major, the Great Bear (Big Dipper), whose constellation circles the pole star without disappearing into the sea.  The ancients said Artemis the She-Bear ruled all the stars until Zeus usurped her place. (1)

The mythical St. Ursula was accompanied by eleven thousand virgins, a common pagan image of the Moon-goddess accompanied by her children, the stars.  One of the Goddess's foremost shrines was Cologne, where "Ursel" was converted into a Christian heroine to account for the reference paid to her by the local people.

The tale on which Ursula's canonization was based was first invented about the 9th century A.D.;; then, "During the 12th century this pious romance was preposterously elaborated through the mistakes of imaginative visionaries, a public burial-ground uncovered at Cologne was taken to be the grave of the martyrs, false relics came into circulation and forged epitaphs of non-existent persons were produced." (2)

The churchmen claimed that St. Ursula was a Breton princess betrothed to Conon, prince of England, in the 5th century A.D.  Prior to her marriage, she took her eleven thousand virgins on a pilgrimage.  While passing through Cologne, they were attacked and slaughtered by the Hunds, at the institigation of two Roman generals who feared the Christian ladies' exemplary piety would convert all the northern barbarians to Christ." (3) 

This fable was intended to Christianize the lunar bear-goddess worshipped at Cologne, the same who was Artio, the Helvetian "Mother of Animals," with another cult center at Berne ("She-Bear"), where her portrait still appears on the Bernese coat of arms. (4)  Ursel and Artio were alternate names of the triple Artemis who took the "bear-king" Arthur to paradise.  The Greeks said Artemis Calliste, "Fairest One," was associated with both the moon and the constellation of the Great Bear.  In Britain, Ursa Major was often called "Mistress Ursula," at first a title of the Goddess, lator transferred to the saint. (5)

Artemis the She-Bear was so widely recognized as the Mother of Animals that the island once sacred to her, Callista, is still called Therea, "She-Beast." (6)  Arcadians traced their descent from her son Arcas, the Little-Bear (Ursa Minor), a bear-god like the Celtic Arthur.  Hellenic mytholographers pretended that Arcas's mother was a mere nymph, Calliste, who was punished for losing her virginity by receiving the form of a bear, along with her child, but Artemis took pity on them and placed them in the stars as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.  The version of the myth was invented "to account for the traditional connection between Artemis and the Great Bear." (7)  The Christian version was invented for different reasons, but with the same ultimae aim: to mortalize the Goddess.

Some memory of Ursula the Moon-goddess deems to haunt the foundation of the Ursuline order of nuns, by St. Angela Merici in 1506.  Catholic authorities now claim the Ursulines were the oldest order of teaching nuns.  But most convents were centers of learning for women until the church forbade women's education in the 13th century. (8)  The Ursulines were perhaps the only order of teaching nuns who remained obedient to the papacy, and so were permitted to continue. 

Yet the Ursulines began under a cloud of suspicion.  Angela Merici was a native of Brescia, which Pope Calixtus III described as a hotbed of witches. (9)  Angela's first group of sisters numbered exactly 28, the lunar number.  They made their first devotion in a church dedicated to another mythical saint who was only another transformation of the Goddess, St. Afra or Aphra (Aphrodite). (10)  Angela was not allowed to establish her holy society of teachers until forty years had passed since her original vision, which she received not in a church but in an open field under the moon. [Wonder who was with her at the time, woo woo...]  She and her women had no religious habit, no vows, no communal life.  They went to their pupils' homes to teach, like iternerant governesses. [Yeah, right.  Governesses.  Sorry, can't help it.  This is just too fricking funny!]

The church was not interested in Angela until she underwent "popular" canonization in her home territory.  Two centuries later, the church decided to take advantage of the popularity of her cult by declaring her Blessed.  Finally in 1807 she was canonized by Pope Pius VII. (11)  But she is still almost as vague and dim as the Ursuline lunar She-Bear that the people of Brescia once worshipped.  A 20th-century Catholic scholar mentioned here with one of those curious slips of the pen so common among patriarchal writers; he said the Ursuline order was founded by "Bishop Angela of Brescias." (12)

My eyes are shot tonight, can't read the notes -- too tiny!  Will add here tomorrow night (does anyone actually read them anyway?)

Notes (added December 15, 2012) -- all notes are from The Woman's Enbcyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker, 1983, Harper San Francisco, ISBN 0-06-250926-8.

1.  Graves, G.M. 1, 86.
2.  Attwater, 333-34.
3.  Goerber, L.R., 66.
4.  Larousse, 226. 
5.  Jobes, 266.
6.  Herodotus, 251.
7.  Graves, G.M. 1, 84, 86.
8.  Bullough, 160.
9.  M. Harrison, 240.
10.  Attwater, 46.
11.  Encyc. Brit. "Angela Merici."
12.  Brewster, 459.

2012 London Chess Classic Game 9 and Final Standings

Hola darlings!  It's all over and Carlsen came, saw, conquered.  Snore.

More interesting was Judit's effort, which was sub-par.  Today, however, she had white and drew her game with Aronian, the second-highest player in the world.  Here are the moves from Chessdom:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d3 Bd6 13. Re1 Bf5 14. Qf3 Qf6 15. Bxd5 cxd5 16. Bf4 Bxf4 17. Qxf4 d4 18. cxd4 Rad8 19. Nc3 Rxd4 20. Ne4 Bxe4 21. Qxf6 gxf6 22. Rxe4 Rxd3 23. a4 Rfd8 24. g3 R3d4 25. Rxd4 Rxd4 26. axb5 axb5 27. Re1 Rd2 28. b3 Rb2 29. Re3 Kg7 30. Rf3 f5 31. h3 Kf6 32. g4 Kg6 33. Rxf5 Rxb3 34. Kg2 ½-½

Unfortunately, I read this at The Week in Chess:

Judit Polgar gave the impression that she sees her elite career as drawing to a close as she said her lack of focus and preparation had cost her and that she was concentrating on the annual Hungarian chess festival and her new series of books.

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later.  But I was hoping it would be later, much much much later.  Like when she was 100.  Okay, 70. 

Polgar will be gone from the scene, and there is no other woman who can fill her shoes.  That is just plain damn sad.  SHIT SHIT SHIT!


Results Round 9 - Mon 10th Dec

Mickey Adams v Vladimir Kramnik ½-½
Judit Polgar v Levon Aronian ½-½
Hikaru Nakamura v Luke McShane 1-0
Magnus Carlsen v Vishy Anand ½-½
Gawain Jones (assisting commentary)
Rankings after Round 9

1. Magnus Carlsen 18
2. Vladimir Kramnik 16
3. Michael Adams 13
Hikaru Nakamura 13
5. Viswanathan Anand 9
6. Levon Aronian 8
7. Judit Polgar 6
8. Luke McShane 5
9. Gawain Jones
Nr. Title Name Fed. Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 tot TPR
1 GM Magnus Carlsen NOR 2848 1 1 3 1 3 3 3 3 18 2991
2 GM Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2795 1 3 1 1 1 3 3 3 16 2939
3 GM Hikaru Nakamura USA 2760 1 0 1 1 3 3 3 1 13 2846
4 GM Michael Adams ENG 2710 0 1 1 3 1 3 1 3 13 2852
5 GM Viswanathan Anand IND 2775 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 3 9 2749
6 GM Levon Aronian ARM 2815 0 1 0 1 1 1 3 1 8 2701
7 GM Judit Polgar HUN 2705 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 1 6 2617
8 GM Luke McShane ENG 2713 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 3 5 2564
9 GM Gawain Jones ENG 2644 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 3 2514
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