We will not be releasing a new chapter discussion this weekend. Things have been a bit hectic at C&C headquarters (both East and West), and so we are taking a mini-break to catch up. There will be a brand new Book of Life chapter discussion in your podcast feed in two weeks.
Until that time, we have a couple of announcements for this month.
To celebrate the kick of the 2019 A Discovery of Witches Real Time Reading, we will be doing a live tweet and watch party of episode 1 season 1 of A Discovery of Witches on Wednesday, September 18th, at 5:00 PDT /8:00 EDT.
Keep an eye out in September for some giveaways to celebrate our 2-year Anniversary podcasting about the All Souls Universe.
Hello, darlings! We finally made it to Prague, which means we’re diving headlong into Section IV of the Real-Time Reading of Shadow of Night. This chapter is a monster, so I’m dividing it in two parts between this week and next.
After we’d lived out of saddlebags and a single shared trunk for weeks, our belongings had arrived three days after we did at the tall, narrow house perched on the steep avenue leading to Prague Castle known as Sporrengasse.
Try as I might, I couldn’t find a street in modern Prague called Sporrengasse. I assume that it was likely renamed something lovely and Czech that isn’t mentioned in the pages of Shadow of Night. Nonetheless, I had a very pleasant Google Maps street view wander through the neighborhood of Mala Strana. Mala Strana, or the “Little Side of the River,” is a district in Prague dominated by the city’s German and Italian citizens. The neighborhood has mostly Baroque architecture after a series of fires destroyed the original buildings. Even today, Mala Strana is one of the most popular neighborhoods for tourists because of its “charming” cobbled streets and cluster of cultural sights. After researching, I have marked out Mlýnská Kavárna for my next visit because it boasts Czech beer and freshly-baked bread. Yes, please.
Artstory describes him as a “visionary apocalyptic painter;” it’s the best short description of his work I’ve ever read, so I am keeping it. Bosch was the first painter to introduce surreal and fantastical imagery into his paintings; the rest of Western artwork from this period is either very religious or very realistic.
Oh wait. Remember when I told you guys that I went to dance performance based on the Garden of Earthly Delights and there were artists throwing potatoes? I found a video. The potatoes appear at 0:18. You’re welcome.
I bet you thought I made that up.
“Rudolf hasn’t seen me. Rumor has it that Kelley is in the uppermost reaches of the Powder Tower blowing up alembics and God-knows-what-else.”
In the real historical timeline, Matthew and Diana arrive in Prague right as Edward Kelley’s star began to fade in the court of Rudolf II. Kelley first traveled to the Continent from England in the company of John Dee, another famous alchemist. Kelley and Dee made all sorts of mischief together (and people threatened to throw them out of windows) right up until Kelley told Dee that his alchemical spirit guide required them to swap their wives. Right around the spring of 1590, Rudolf II became frustrated that Kelley could not produce the Philosopher’s Stone. He knighted him to encourage his progress, then imprisoned him after a duel to make him work harder. Kelley attempted to escape by jumping out the window — an escapade which required the amputation of his leg. This happened again several years later and Kelley lost the use of his remaining leg, too. I am sensing a pattern. If you want to know more, check out the Alchemy Podcast’s episode on Kelley. On a related note, did you know there was an opera about John Dee? Wonders never cease.
The Powder Tower, or Prašná brána, was built in 1475, is the beginning of the Coronation Route to Prague Castle.
“Why is the handwriting so ornate?” I wondered.
“The Hoefnagels have arrived from Vienna and have nothing to occupy their time. The fancier the handwriting, the better, as far as his Majesty is concerned,” Pierre replied cryptically.
According to the Getty Museum, the invention of the modern printing press made it more common for people to own books, noble collectors like the Holy Roman Emperor turned to hand-made works of calligraphy for their rarity and beauty.
In 1590 or so, Rudolf II commissioned Josef Hoefnagel to illustrate a book of calligraphy written by Georg Bocskay called Mira calligraphiae monumenta. You can visit this work at the Getty, or via their website. The image on the left demonstrates Hoefnagel’s incredible skill for texture and detail in plant and insect life. The calligraphy in the book is stunning, as are the images.
Most impressive of all? The fact that Hoefnagel and Bocskay never met.
“I told you to hook him with Titian’s great canvas of Venus that Grandfather took off King Philip’s hands when his wife objected to it,” Gallowglass observed. “Like his uncle, Rudolf has always been unduly fond of redheads. And saucy pictures.”
Titian painted his famous Venus of Urbino in 1538. The original hangs in the Uffizi in Florence. No wonder Philippe had his hands on it.
“Among my people it’s a great compliment to be likened to a raven. I’ll be Muninn, and Matthew we’ll call Huginn. Your name will be Gondul, Auntie. You’ll make a fine Valkyrie.”
I’ll see you again next Monday for Part II of Chapter 27 of Shadow of Night. In the meantime, you can find us in our Facebook group or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to find the rest of the Real-Time Reading posts, you can check out our Episode List.
Verin de Clermont sat in her Berlin home and stared down at the newspaper in disbelief.
“Verin” derives from the English and German “Verena” or may have Slavic origins. It means either “Faith” or “Truthful.”
“What is it, Schatz?” Ernst Neumann put a glass of wine in front of his wife. She looked far too serious for a Monday night.
Schatz is a German term of endearment meaning “gem, jewel, or treasure.” You could also call your beloved Schatzen or or Schatzi, both of which mean “little treasure.” If you want to branch out, you can use Mauschen/Mausi (little mouse), Haschen/Hasi (little bunny), Barchen (little bear), or my personal favorite (and oft-heard in my house), Schecke or Schnecken (little snail).
“Where are you, Gallowglass?” Her nephew was a drifter. In the past he’d sent postcards with nothing but a phone number on them from whatever stretch of road he was traveling at the moment: the autobahn in Germany, Route 66 in the States, Trollstigen in Norway, the Guoliang Tunnel Road in China.
While unregulated sections of the autobahn have no speed limit, there are increased penalties for causing accidents at high speeds and many areas impose speed limits due to hazards like construction or substandard road surfaces.
“The number” had been generated in the earliest years of the telephone. Philippe had picked it: 917, for Ysabeau’s birthday in September.
17 September is a busy day in history: in 1630, it’s the date of the founding of the city of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1787, it’s the day that the US Constitution was signed in Philadelphia. In 1849, it’s the day that Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery. In 1954, it was the publication date for Lord of the Flies. In 2011, it was the day the Occupy Wall Street movement began.
Nyd, the rune for absence and desire. Gallowglass dipped his hand into the bag again to better understand what he wanted the future to hold.
As Deb points out in the Real-Time Reading Companion, Gallowglass has the last word until we re-join Matthew and Diana upon their arrival in Prague in March. Deb thinks of this song, Circa Paleo’s “The Gael” as “Gallowglass’s Theme.”
If you’re suffering from #Witchdrawal, consider joining us tomorrow (2 February 2019) as we live-tweet Episode 1×03 of A Discovery of Witches TV at 4:30 PM Pacific/7:30 PM Eastern/12:30 AM GMT using the hashtag #ccalchemy. We’ve had a killer time live-tweeting Episodes 1×01 and 1×02 and we’d love for you to join us. Follow us @chamomilenclove on Twitter for updates. If you have questions, comments, or thoughts, send us a note at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
The little snippet of Latin Lord Burghley quotes to Diana (Vanitatis vanitatum, omnis vanitas) comes from the Vulgate translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2, a verse which translates as “Vanity, vanity, everything vanity.” It’s a curious bit of verse for a Protestant, as it comes from the official version of the Latin Bible dating from the 4th century.
If you’re interested in Lord Burghley as a spymaster, there’s a current BBC series airing on PBS that looks pretty interesting.
“Because if we are not in the audience chamber at Richmond Palace by two in the afternoon tomorrow, Elizabeth will arrest us both.”
Going to court in Tudor England was no small thing. First of all, the Tudor palaces were explicitly designed to restrict access to the monarchy and channel people of different rank into appropriate spaces. Because only the most important (and affluent) people made it into the presence of the king or queen, it paid to appear in court dressed in the finest clothing money could buy. In Tudor times, proximity to the king or queen was the quickest way to attain favor–and thereby improve your title and fortune. However, if Elizabeth I felt that you slighted, betrayed, or otherwise disobeyed her, the consequences could be brutal. Court was complicated, political, and highly performative.
In Shadow of Night, Elizabeth I’s court is located at Richmond Palace, the lost palace of the Tudor monarchy. Henry VII died in the palace and it became Elizabeth I’s favorite — she died there in 1603 and her body made the journey to Westminister Abbey from its gates. In the mid-seventeenth century, after the execution of Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and his administration systematically stripped the palace until only a few bits and pieces remained. You can still visit the site of Richmond Palace in southwest London today.
“And silver and black are the queen’s colors. That’s why Walter is always wearing them,” Mary explained, smoothing the puffed sleeves.
Elizabeth I had a vast and impressive wardrobe. As she grew older, she apparently leaned into the image of herself as the Virgin Queen and preferred to dress in black, white, and silver — colors she believed represented purity and virginity. Throughout Elizabeth’s reign, England remained under strict sumptuary laws — Elizabeth I believed that her courtiers should dress according to (but not exceeding) their rank. This is why Elizabeth has a bit of a fit when she notices Diana’s borrowed ostrich feather fan — a luxury restricted to gentlemen and above by the sumptuary laws. Fans in particular were a symbol of wealth, and fixed fans were a bit of A THING for Elizabeth I (you can see all of her fixed fans in her portraits here). Ostrich feathers came into fashion in England in 1552 and remained popular for the rest of the sixteenth century.
Three days later on the feast of St. Brigid, we set sail on our long journey to see the Holy Roman Emperor, find a treacherous English daemon, and, at long last, catch a glimpse of Ashmole 782.
Today, we spend a bit of time with Goody Alsop and take a field trip to Mortlake in search of Ashmole 782. Get your familiars in hand and let’s get moving.
“That your firedrake broke free is merely a symptom of a much more serious problem.” Goody Alsop extended a bunch of brightly colored silken strands, knotted together at the top. The ends flowed free like the ribbons on a maypole and numbered nine in all, in shades of red, white, black, silver, gold, green, brown, blue, and yellow.
As near as I can tell from (admittedly dubious) internet research into witchcraft, the weaver’s cords in the All Souls Trilogy closely resemble the “Witch’s Ladder,” a tool for spell casting that relies on knotted cords to “store” and concentrate a spell’s power. An internet search for color symbolism in modern Wicca suggests the following meanings for the colors in Diana’s cords:
White – purity, healing
Red – strength, luck, protection, vitality, desire
Brown – nature, natural wisdom
Yellow – learning, happiness, completeness
Green – prosperity, fertility, romance, friendship, harmony
Blue – idealism, wealth
Black – new beginnings, the afterlife
Silver – vision and intuition
Gold – integrity, happiness, mental strength
I would be curious to see if any of our pagan listeners have other thoughts — the text certainly suggests that some colors mean something slightly different in the world of All Souls, but I’d be interested to hear what other people think as we go along.
My knot-making skills were still clumsy, but I found this part of weaving oddly soothing. When I practiced the elaborate twisting and crossings with ordinary string, the result was something reminiscent of ancient Celtic knotwork.
Celtic knotwork is a form of stylized graphical representation that relies on interlace patterns to ornament everything from early manuscripts to jewelry. The interlace style of decoration likely came from the Romans during the third and fourth centuries C.E., but the influence of Christianity led the art form from its spirals, step patterns, and key work into elaborate illustrations of plants, animals, and biblical verses. The knotwork we associate with Ireland likely originated in Italy before migrating to the British Isles… and becoming part of popular tattoo designs in the 1970s. If you’re inclined to learn to draw basic knotwork, calligraphy-skills.com has a pretty good tutorial.
Whether for propriety’s sake or to avoid his disorderly brood, Dr. Dee was strolling in his brick-walled garden as it it were high summer and not the end of January. He was wearing the black robes of a scholar, and a tight-fitting hood covered his head and extended down his neck, topped with a flat cap.
You know what’s fun about Dr. Dee and her library and this exhibit? Our own Deb gave a talk on Dee in 2016.
If you’ve watched A Discovery of Witches 1×01, the parallels between this presentation and Diana’s opening scene are pretty great. It’s a very good lecture — and I’d say that even if I didn’t love Deb.
We’ll do a bit more historical tourism in London on 28 January before we head to Prague. If you like the Real-Time Reading, consider following us on Twitter @chamomilenclove. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook. If you like what we do, consider becoming one of our Patrons!