Eating Verse

August 26, 2017

I ate a poem today
after a long consideration
on how to prepare it
use ingredients at hand
or wait for another stage of ripeness
slice several soft spots away
or caress where the sweetness gathers

Its unfamiliar skin and mottled, shifting colours
gave no hints of the flesh within
should I refrigerate and eat it chilled
room tempered or warmed
would it be mango, or banana
to be mashed and cooked
if under or overdone
too far gone for raw yet salvageable

I peeled it with my fingers
sucked translucent skin, juice ran
into my Franciscan saucer
put a cautious tongue to its body
and it dribbled on my chin

My tastebuds lit with tart pleasure
my incisors grew, my tongue elongated
to touch the flowered dish, I drooled

My stomach clenched from the swallowed bite
a little too much, a heavy stone dropped
into a deep well whose splash
is a distant song echoing
up from dark toward light

With one chew, saffron and chocolate
with another, passionfruit and lime
layers of fragrance unfolded
aromas thick textured blood wine

After the mess, I became fully divine
wing bladed shoulders, feet root tethered
though now third eyed and feathered

I felt succoured, satiated, sublime.

Akua Lezli Hope

while calling the Devil

August 26, 2017

aiguillette:

A knotted loop of thread, also called a ligature, which witches were said to use to cause impotence, and perhaps even castration, in men; barrenness in women; and general discontent in marriage. The aiguillette also served to bind couples in illicit amatory relationships. The phobia of the ligature, or fear of satanic castration, was widespread in 16th-century France. It was believed that at the instant when a priest blessed a new marriage, the witch slipped behind the husband, knotted a thread and threw a coin on the ground while calling the Devil. If the coin disappeared, which all believed to mean that the Devil took it and kept it until Judgment Day, the couple was destined for unhappiness, sterility and adultery. Couples living in Languedoc were so fearful of satanic castration that not 10 weddings in 100 were performed publicly in church. Instead, the priest, the couple and their parents went off in secret to celebrate the sacrament. Only then could the newlyweds enter their home, enjoy the feasting and go to bed. At least one physician, Thomas Platter, concluded that the panic was so bad that there was a local danger of depopulation.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley
The Encyclopaedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca

Walpurgisnacht

August 26, 2017

The true function of phantasy is to give the imagination a ground for limitless expansion, & to satisfy aesthetically the sincere & burning curiosity and sense of awe which a sensitive minority of mankind feel towards the alluring & provocative abysses of unplumbed space and unguessed entity which press in upon the known world from unknown infinities & in unknown relationships of time, space, matter, force, dimensionality, & consciousness.

H. P. Lovecraft
letter to Clark Ashton Smith of October 17th, 1930

The unexpected roar of a cannon wrecked the silence of that cold night –

Nehemiah Fosternbury, shepherd, started suddenly round; his dog, slouching at his feet, growled a warning.

It was December 1642. The country was at war with itself, Royalists against Parliamentarians. Only two months earlier, a huge battle had taken place at nearby Edgehill, the first major conflict of the English Civil War. Had the soldiers returned once again, to spill yet more blood…?

Cavalier or Roundhead, Nehemiah cared not. All were of a fierce, bloody and licentious disposition. All committed every manner of cruelty on the inhabitants of those places they came to.

A volley from massed match-lock muskets echoed over the valley. Screams and curses could be heard…But from overhead!

Poor Nehemiah felt the sounds to be the very emblem of Sodom and Gomorrah! Glancing upwards he saw them. Phantom armies in the night sky. The battle of Edgehill was being refought. Spectral soldiers screamed and died in agony. Cannon flamed and thundered. And Nehemiah fell trembling to the ground in his terror –

Over the coming weeks and months, others reported hearing this same spectral battle played out in the skies around Edgehill. Ghost were encountered too on the battlefield itself. The area developed a dreadful reputation for hauntings.

The first reports of these apparitions and the existence of a ‘strange psychic aura’ at Edgehill appeared in a pamphlet published January 1643. This pamphlet tells us of ‘Apparitions and Prodigious Noyses of War and Battels seen on Edge-Hill near Keinton in Warwickshire.’ It continues:

‘At this Edge-Hill, in the very place where the battle was stricken, have since and doth appear, strange and portentious Apparations of two jarring and contrary armies…it being certified by men of most credit in those parts…between twelve and one of the clock in the morning was heard by some shepherds, and other countrymen, and travelers, first the sound of drummes afar off, and the noyse of souldiers, as it were, giving out their last groanes…but then, on the sudden…appearing in the ayre the same incorporeall souldiers that made these clamours, and immediately, with Ensignes display’d, Drummes beating, Musquets going off, Cannons discharged, Horses neighing…the alarum…and so pell mell to it they went…after some three hours fight, that the Army which carried the King’s colours withdrew, or rather appeared to flie; the other remaining as it were masters of the field…On Sunday, being Christmas night, appeared in the same tumultuous warlike manner, the same two adverse Armies, fighting with as much spite and spleen as formerly…The rumour whereof coming to his Majestie at Oxford, he immediately dispatched thither Colonel Kirke and three other gentlemen of Credit…who…heard and saw the forementioned prodigies…distinctly knowing divers of the apparitions or incorporeall substances by their faces, as that of Sir Edmund Varney, and others that were slaine.’ *

The Edgehill ghosts have not ceased to exercise their influence on succeeding generations of visitors to the battlefield. Many have suggested they were conscious of being watched on the battlefield by ‘many hundreds of unseen eyes’. The international concert pianist Michaeli related the account of his visit to a place on the field where Cavaliers and Roundheads are buried together. Here he became deeply disturbed, cut short his visit and returned home immediately. However, on his return home, he became aware of a most terrifying fact, ‘which was that I had brought back with me one dead from the battlefield.’ A visitor who went on to haunt Michaeli for about one month, after which ‘he ‘left me as suddenly as he appeared.’#

* British Library, Thomason Tracts, E85, “A Great Wonder in Heaven, Shewing the Late Apparitions Seen at Edge-Hill.”

# Statement of 15th November 1966 by Michael Howard Romney-Woolard and quoted in Peter Young, ‘Edgehill 1642’.

26th August

Medusa lost her head, but she was only trying to defend herself. These things are a simple matter of perspective –

Both Pandora the first woman in Greek myth and Eve the first woman in Christian myth disobeyed divine prohibition with dire consequences for humanity. Are they male myths revealing the true nature of women? Or anti-feminist fables? Again Perspective is all important –

Tertullian denounced women thus:

“Do you not know that each of you is an Eve? God’s sentence on your gender lives even in our times, and so it is necessary that the guilt must also continue. You are the one who opened the devil’s door; you unseated the forbidden tree; you first betrayed the divine law; you are the one who enticed him whom the devil was too weak to attack. How easily you destroyed man, the image of God! Because of the death which you brought upon us, even the Son of God had to die.” (On the Apparel of Women, 1, 1.) –

The misogyny of the Christian Church fathers grew and multiplied throughout the middle ages –

But then “a witch-angel polarity emerged in attitudes toward women. The sexually active were often associated with the underworld devil, while those with unruptured hymens were adored on a par with heavenly angels. Virgins had virtue because, as the roots of these words indicate, they had male (Latin, vir) restraint. “Ava” was Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, according to Jerome, because the Nazareth virgin reversed the bad name of “Eva,” the sexual siren of Eden. The exalted “Queen of Heaven” of the cult of Mary set in bolder relief ” witches” who, by means of satanic voluptuousness, enchained men for consignment to hell.”

The gateway to hell was unknown until Tertullian located it between the legs of a woman. However, if we turn to Chaucer, his wife of Bath has this to say:

“If women had but written stories;
As have these clerks within their oratories,
They would have written of men more wickedness
Than all the race of Adam could redress.”

All about perspective again.

#

Dinner party for eight tonight. Veggie lasagne followed by strawberries and cream, and a vat of wine.