Author! Author!

Them2Something I read recently set the creaking gears in my mind to whirring and grinding: it was a reminder that each of us was the author of our own lives. Not an Earth-shatteringly new idea perhaps, but it had me pondering both the degree to which it is true, and also the implications of such a role.

There are numerous factors that make us the person we are: our genes, gender, sexuality, race, upbringing, social position, wealth, education, and the chance circumstances of one’s early life must all play a part.

Clearly an orphan, growing up in poverty in some war-ravaged corner of the globe, will have a very different experience of life and very different opportunities to the privileged offspring of comfortable upper-middle class professionals in a sleepy Surrey village. So we are certainly not all starting from the same place and with the same degree of literary freedom, when it comes to the authorship of our own tales.

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Play that fungi music white boy*

Spanish_SlugYesterday felt like a day of strangeness and magic. First came a great deluge that threatened to wash away the parked cars and the occasional cyclist in an almost biblical-style flood. I stood under cover, caught between my local store and home after returning from work. I was listening to some sublime electronica at the time, a unique soundtrack to the cascades of water splashing and bouncing off roads and pavements. For a few minutes I just stood and watched, mesmerised by the experience. I found I was smiling broadly and felt an easing of the hangover headache that had dogged me all day. It was just a moment of subtle, indefinable magic.

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the downpour ceased and I broke cover and headed the few hundred metres home, trying to avoid lake-Ontario-sized puddles. A rainbow appeared briefly above our block of flats, a fitting appearance at the end of Copenhagen’s Gay Pride week.

I will backtrack slightly to me leaving the cafe where I work, about an hour beforehand. I ran into a lady of mature years, standing outside. She wanted to know more about the place. It turned out she was a fellow Brit and after basic pleasantries were exchanged, I told her all about our lovely little non-profit cafe and the many activities we host within. The lady seemed most pleased at my invitation to come and sample our food and perhaps make some new friends. “You are my angel of the day” she announced, in a warm northern accent, and I was perfectly happy with this description. I have been called lots of things, but don’t often get called an angel.

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Through the looking glass

rocket-ship_lge

I’ve just about recovered from the shock of seeing our American chums (or the half of them that bothered to vote) elect an evil clown as president. Coming not long after the Brexit fiasco, it feels like all the rules of the universe are now open to question and anything is possible. Tomorrow my bus driver might be a duck, the sky may have turned green and all the fish could be strolling around town in tiny berets, affecting a French accent and taking selfies in front of Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
George Carlin

It’s one of those periods when whole nations seem to go a bit gaga and do something that had just months earlier seemed inconceivable. I took the news quite badly, and I’m not even an American citizen. But my US chums on Facebook and WordPress seemed equally aghast. What new folly had they sunk to? Were they, as one cartoon suggested, competing with Britain for the ‘dumbest nation’ title?
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Me, me, me!

dali_metamorphosis-of-narcissus_med

There was a survey a while back that showed that a quarter of the American population believe that the sun revolves around the Earth, and not the other way round. This was of course the mainstream view until our old chum Nicky Copernicus upset the apple-cart with his heliocentric model, published in the 16th century. At last the Earth was put in its rightful place, although not everyone was thrilled with this particular advance in human knowledge. There were certainly some major grumblings from the Catholic church. Still, at least Mr C managed to avoid the fate of his defender and fellow astronomy clever-clogs, friar Giordano Bruno, who apparently was just too much of a rebel for the church and had his chestnuts roasted on an open fire, along with the rest of him.

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God of the week – Huitzilopochtli

Huitzilopochtli_VIt just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Apart from sounding a little like somebody clearing their throat first thing in the morning, what do we know about this colourful Aztec war god? Apparently the name is the subject of much disagreement, but has something to do with hummingbirds.

According to Wikipedia:
“There are a handful of origin mythologies describing the deity’s beginnings. One story tells of the cosmic creation and Huitzilopochtli’s role. According to this legend, he was the smallest son of four—his parents being the creator couple Tonacatecutli and Tonacacihuatl while his brothers were Quetzalcoatl and the two Tezcatlipocas. His mother and father instructed both him and Quetzalcoatl to bring order to the world. And so, together they made fire, the first male and female humans, created the Earth, and manufactured a sun.”

That’s quite a story! I’ve heard of pushy parents, but telling your kids to ‘bring order to the world’ is quite a tall order. And boy the kids certainly didn’t disappoint.

There is more:
“Another origin story tells of a fierce goddess, Coatlicue, being impregnated as she was sweeping by a ball of feathers on Mount Coatepec. Her other children, who were already fully grown, were the four hundred male Centzonuitznaua and the female deity Coyolxauhqui. These children, angered by the manner by which their mother became impregnated, conspired to kill her. Huitzilopochtli burst forth from his mother’s womb in full armor and fully grown. He attacked his older brothers and sister, defending his mother by beheading his sister and casting her body from the mountain top. He also chased after his brothers, who fled from him and became scattered all over the sky.”

Wow! That’s quite an entrance for a newborn. I wonder what he did for an encore?

“Huitzilopochtli is seen as the sun in mythology, while his many male siblings are perceived as the stars and his sister as the moon. In the Aztec worldview, this is the reason why the Sun is constantly chasing the Moon and stars.”

So how did the Aztecs honour this high-achieving creative dude?

Panquetzaliztli (7 December to 26 December) was the Aztec month dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. People decorated their homes and trees with paper flags; there were ritual races, processions, dances, songs, prayers, and finally human sacrifices.”

Ah it was all looking very festive and jolly, until we got to that last part. I know they say we all have to make sacrifices, but that’s one tradition probably best left to ancient history.

Here’s to you Huitzilopochtli. Now where did I put the sun-lotion?

© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.

Text and image source: Wikipedia
 
 

God of the week – Fukurokuju

Fuku-japanese god_medThis jolly chap is the Japanese god of wisdom, luck, longevity, wealth and happiness, and one of the seven lucky gods of Japanese mythology.

With alleged Chinese origins, he is said to have a head almost as large as his body, which probably made him very smart but difficult to buy hats for.

He is often accompanied by a turtle, a crow or a deer and apparently likes to play chess (putting that big brain to good use).

He is credited with the ability to raise the dead, putting him head and shoulders above many competing gods.

Hats off to you, Fukurokuju!

 
© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.

Sources: Godchecker / Wikipedia

Image: Mingeiarts.com
 
 

God of the week – Axomamma

potato god
For the second in the new series, god of the week, we have the Incan Potato Goddess Axomamma, aka Acsumama/ Ajomama.

This female deity from the Andes is especially popular with modern humans, with people all across the world giving thanks to her bounty by consuming vast quantities of french-fries and other potato-based treats.

All praise Axomamma, sourceress of spuds, temptress of tubers and titan of tatties.

 
© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.