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The Great Wrap-Up

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Clovers and friends!

Starting this afternoon, we’ll begin recording our final two wrap episodes for the All Souls Trilogy — all three books, all at once. It’s going to be a blast.

In preparing for this episode, we’ve gone back into the vault and listened to our wrap episodes from A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and the Book of Life in order to tease out trilogy-wide themes, plots, character arcs, and motifs. While listening to the back catalogue, I realized it might be helpful for y’all to have all of our wrap episodes listed in one place. Accordingly, here’s a quick guide to our wrap episodes:

Episode 18: Cait and Jen and the Time Nautilus – A Discovery of Witches Wrap Episode 1. Time travel! Plot structure! Download the episode here.

Episode 19: Tweedy Malevolence – A Discovery of Witches Wrap Episode 2. Character arcs! Antagonists! Listener feedback! Download the episode here.

Episode 42: I Made Slides – Shadow of Night Wrap Episode 1. Otherwise known as Cait Fell Down a Powerpoint Hole and Shadow of Night Has Lots of Plots. Download the episode here.

Episode 45: This Diagram Is Not To Scale – Shadow of Night Wrap Episode 2. Time travel, character development, themes, and the not-so-subtle feeling that the universe is too large for our brains. Download the episode here.

Episode 68: Plotschund – Book of Life Wrap Episode 1. The Return of the Powerpoint. Download the episode here.

Episode 69: Segway Away – Book of Life Episode 2. Character arcs and themes and motifs and thoughts on how to land the ending of a trilogy. Download the episode here.

We are so excited to start talking about the trilogy as a whole and we hope you’ll join us. In the meantime, keep an eye out for more prizes and fun from the All Souls Discussion Group during the A Discovery of Witches TV 2020 Winter Watch! As always, you can find us on Facebook in the Chamomile & Clove Clovers group and on Twitter as @chamomilenclove. If you’re so inclined, you can check out our merchandise on Redbubble or become a member of our Patreon.

As always, please feel free to show us a bit of love on the podcasting app or review site of your choice. It helps other people find us and makes our day. We’re so lucky to have you!

See you Sunday!

Love,

Cait

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Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 24 March – 4 April – Chapters 28 and 29

It’s springtime in Prague, y’all — time for golems and hunts, puppies and weird gifts from your royal admirers. What, that’s only Diana? My bad.

 

“Tell us again about the unicorn’s horn. It is supposed to have miraculous curative powers.”

Writing for The Pharmaceutical Journal, William Jackson reports that the myth of the unicorn may have arisen from Alexander the Great, who adorned his war horse with golden horns for battle.

37.80.6
http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/467642

Other stories suggest that the myth of the unicorn arose from early reports of the rhinoceros, although, as Jackson reports, belief in the unicorn lasted well into the Renaissance. The belief in the medicinal properties of the unicorn horn likely began in the fifth century and persisted into Emperor Rudolf’s day — the unicorn horn allegedly neutralized poison, a tantalizing property for royals fearful of assassination attempts. 

The most common medicinal use of the “unicorn horn” was either as a cup that removed poisons and toxins or as a powder to be mixed with other ingredients (pearl! Ivory! Whale bone! Here, royals! Have a drink full of rocky things!) to purify the body.

Because “unicorn horn” was so precious, there were lots of counterfeit items–the blog Early Modern Medicine reports that, in order to test the authenticity of a suspect horn, one should pass a spider over it. If the spider survived, you’d been had. If the spider exploded, you had the real thing. Good to know.

It’s an automaton, Jack,” Matthew said, picking the thing up. When he did, the stag’s head sprang open, revealing the hollow chamber within. “This one is meant to run down the emperor’s dinner table. When it stops, the person closest must drink from the stag’s neck.

In the Real-Time Reading Companion, Deb notes that the automaton Rudolf sends Diana is based on this one, which you can see on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

While the automaton on display at the Met was made around 1620, it’s likely that Rudolf II would have had something similar in his collection — his Kunstkammer, or Cabinet of Wonders, contained many fantastical and ingenious items. In fact, the Kunst Historiches Museum in Vienna boasts an automaton of Diana astride a centaur once owned by Rudolf II.

Rudolf’s collection survived the Thirty Years’ War by virtue of the fact that part of it was moved to Vienna, where it’s still on display.

“There goes Sigismund,” Gallowglass said, bending close to my ear. The noise from the bells was deafening, and I could barely hear him. When I looked at him in confusion, he pointed up, to a golden grille on the adjacent steeple. “Sigismund. The big bell. That’s how you know you’re in Prague.”

The Sigismund Bell hangs at the top of St. Vitus’ Cathedral in Prague. The church took over 600 years to complete—the last section was only finished in the 20th century. The construction of the Gothic cathedral ceased as a consequence of the Hussite Wars and the project was not completed until the millennial anniversary of Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia, in the 1930s. The popular history tells us that when the bell Sigismund was finished, no one knew how to lift the massive bell into the tower. Naturally, the princess devised a solution—by making a pulley of her own hair to lift the bell into place. Ouch. You can hear Sigismund’s peals in the video below. You can learn more about the architecture of St. Vitus (and the work of one Matthew of Arras, French architect (hmmm)) here.

Kelley nodded. “He came when Dee was still in Prague, asking questions about the book and nosing about in my business. Rudolf let him enjoy one of the witches from the Old Town—a seventeen-year-old girl and very pretty, with rosy hair and blue eyes just like your wife. No one has seen her since. But there was a very fine fire that Walpurgis Night. Gerbert was given the honor of lighting it.” Kelley shifted his eyes to me.
“I wonder if we will have a fire again this year?”

Walpurgis Night is a Northern European festival celebrating St. Walpurga that takes place on 30 April-1 May. While the festival has its roots in pagan rituals welcoming the spring and summer, St. Walpurga is remembered for denouncing sorcery and witchcraft. Traditionally, people believed that Walpurgis Night was the last night of the year that a witch could cast powerful spells before the autumn. In sixteenth century Ireland, people slaughtered hares on 30 April believing that they were cow-stealing witches in disguise. In Germany, people believed that witches roamed abroad on Walpurgis Night to participate in a great gathering on top of the Blocksberg mountains. Though I tried, I couldn’t find anything on whether people actually engaged in witch-hunting — but they definitely lit bonfires to ward off sorcery and spells.

After days of careful negotiation, Matthew was able to arrange a visit to Rabbi Judah Loew. To make room for it, Gallowglass had to cancel my upcoming appointments at court, citing illness.

Rabbi Judah Loew, “The Maharal,” was the spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Prague in the late sixteenth century. The Maharal was a great intellectual—in addition to establishing his reputation as a formidable Talmudic scholar in his early life, he was a friend of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler and had an expansive knowledge of mathematics and science. His knowledge endeared him to Emperor Rudolf II, who consulted him frequently (in the dead of night)

The name Maharal is a Hebrew acronym for Moreinu ha-Rav Loew, or “Our Teacher Rabbi Loew.” Legend has it that the Maharal used his knowledge of the Kabbala to animate the golem of Prague, a creature raised to protect the Jewish community from harm. According to this article from the New York Times, the symbolism of the golem re-emerges every so often—especially in times of trouble and uncertainty. To this day, people honor the legacy of Rabbi Loew by leaving stones on his grave in the Jewish cemetery of Old Town Prague.

We’ll pick up again with Matthew and Diana as they hunt with Emperor Rudolf on 8 April. In the meantime, be sure to catch A Discovery of Witches TV on BBC America and AMC TV when it premieres at 9pm on Sunday, 7 April! You can also vote in the last couple rounds of A Discovery of Witches TV March Madness between now and Sunday — check out our Twitter profile (@chamomilenclove) or our Facebook page to participate.

If you like what we do, consider leaving us a review on iTunes! We can’t wait to begin our book discussions of Book of Life with you on 14 April 2019!

Xox

Cait and Jen

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Shadow of Night – Real-Time Reading – 24 December – Chapter 15

Kieran White

Matthew and Diana’s return to England causes a bit of a ruckus in the calendar — we’re actually going to return to London and celebrate Christmas Eve in 1590 (Chapter 15) before we spend Christmas with Ysabeau, Sarah, and Em in the present day (Chapter 14).

I had never imagined that Old St. Paul’s would be so big. I gave myself another pinch. I had been administering them since spotting the Tower (it, too, looked enormous without skyscrapers all around) and London Bridge (which functioned as a suspended shopping mall). Many sights and sounds had impressed me since our arrival in the past, but nothing had taken my breath away like my first glimpses of London.

As Deb notes in both the Real-Time Reading Companion and The World of All Souls, modern London an Elizabethan London are two very different creatures.

Between 1520 and 1600, London nearly doubled in size. Tudor London began to take shape in 1529 when Henry VIII began the process of transforming Cardinal Wolsey’s York Place into the palace at Whitehall. This influenced the growth of both London and the City of Westminster. Despite the fact that the two cities are known collectively as “London,” they’ve never merged.

Hoefnagel’s Map of London circa 1570

Diana and Matthew arrive in London a mere two and a half decades after an outbreak of the plague in 1664 and the Great Fire of 1666. The Great Fire burned for three days and destroyed some five-sixths of the City. The fire began in the King’s bakery near the London Bridge and swept through a city that was unusually dry after a very hot summer. The city began to re-build almost immediately — Sir Christopher Wren submitted “ambitious” plans to Charles II that would have widened London’s streets and made London look more like Paris. Many of his plans were never realized, in part because Londoners insisted on keeping the original sites of their homes and businesses and partially because his ideas were rather expensive. Wren was eventually responsible for the construction of approximately 50 new churches, including the grand new design of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“At last,” Henry Percy appeared, beaming. “We’ve been waiting for hours. My good lady mother sent you a goose. She heard reports that no fowl are to be had in the city and became alarmed that you would go hungry.”

As usual, Deb doesn’t do throwaway lines. In 1590, Christmas goose would have been a big deal in Elizabethan England — after her victory over the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth I declared that everyone should eat goose for Christmas dinner because she happened to be eating goose when she learned of the rout. In Tudor times, all work stopped between Christmas Day and Epiphany (or Twelfth Night). Workers returned to their labors on the Monday after Twelfth Night, known as Plough Monday.

People in the Tudor era took Christmas quite seriously — they enforced the “no work” rule by threading spinning wheels with flowers and kept a Yule log burning for the full twelve days of Christmas. The English carol tradition began during Tudor times — if you’ve sung “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “The First Noel,” or “Good King Wenceslas” this season, you’re keeping the tradition alive. You can find out more about Tudor Christmas traditions here.

“Is this your doing, Henry?” I looked from the entrance hall into our main living quarters. Someone had tucked holly, ivy, and fir around the fireplace and the window frames and mounded them in the center of an oak table.

The Tudors decorated their homes with evergreen foliage as a gesture of welcome and goodwill. If you’re inclined to do some last-minute decorating, English Heritage has a fun video on how to make a Tudor kissing bough:

Jen and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve with your loved ones. We’ll see you again tomorrow for a (brief) Christmas entry to celebrate the preview of A Discovery of Witches TV on Sundance and Shudder. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Episodes 1 and 2 on our Twitter feed or via our Facebook group.

Merry merry, darlings!

xox

Cait

Real Time Reading, Uncategorized

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 17 December – Chapter 13

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

I like being married,” I said drowsily.

Diana and Matthew spend the first ten days of their THIRD AND MOST EFFECTIVE MARRIAGE in a sort of honeymoon. The “honeymoon” apparently originated in Britain as a way of visiting relatives and friends who couldn’t make it to your actual ceremony. The word “honeymoon” may refer to an old tradition (5th century or earlier) of drinking honeyed wine a month after your wedding to aid in conception. In the absence of contraceptives, that gesture seems a bit… belated. 

In some cultures, the honeymoon period refers to the time between when grooms kidnapped and captured their brides and (1) the point at which the bride became pregnant and couldn’t be returned to her family, or (2) the point at which the family gave up hope of finding her. As this tradition appears to be vaguely Norse in origin, we should probably have a long talk with Gallowglass. For the record, this also makes a great deal of sense considering the real reason why bridesmaids all wear the same dress — to act as decoys for the real bride. Your only job as a bridesmaid is either to distract would-be kidnappers from the actual bride or lure evil spirits. Your call. 

There are hundreds of Auvergnat euphemisms for making love, but I don’t believe that’s one of them. I’ll ask Chef if he’s familiar with it.”

While I couldn’t find any Auvergnat euphemisms in particular, I figured I would favor you with a few very saucy French ones. Allons-y.

  • Faire boum boum – Literally, to make the boom boom. As in, naughty time so loud you can hear it. 
  • S’envoyer en l’air – “To be sent into the air” – casual, no-strings-attached whoopie. 
  • Avoir du monde au balcon – Er, “to have people on the balcony.” It means that your lady-friend fills out her top. 
  • Tremper son biscuit – “To dip the biscuit” – a person who likes to get naughty with everyone. 

Here are more, for fun:

Tonight was Saturnalia, the official beginning of the holiday season at the chateau. 

Saturnalia, which celebrates the agricultural god Saturn, traditionally fell on 17 December and lasted until the Julian solstice on 25 December. Celebrants observed Saturnalia much the way Deb depicts the holiday in Shadow of Night — feasting, dancing, gambling, singing, music, and gift-giving. There was also a strong tradition of role reversal — by some accounts, masters served their slaves, in others, slaves were allowed the rights and privileges of ordinary citizens

Hey, girl. You wanna play topsy-turvy? *wink wink*

It’s no coincidence that the Christian feast of Christmas falls on 25 December: as the Bible does not give a particular date for celebrating the birth of Christ, churches settled on combining the Christmas celebration with that of Saturnalia somewhere in the 4th century C.E. Pope Julius I apparently believed that combining celebrations would encourage more converts to Christianity. 

If you’re looking to celebrate Saturnalia, take a page out of Philippe’s book — decorate outdoor trees with stars, suns, and moons, drape greenery over doors, windows, and people, and throw a party. If you can do so safely, cause a festive ruckus in your street and organize a parade. 

The clock was unlike any I’d ever seen before. A carved and gilded cabinet surrounded a water barrel. A long copper pipe stretched up from the barrel and dropped water into the hull of a splendid model ship suspended by a rope wound around a cylinder. 

In the Real-Time Reading Companion, Deb indicates that Philippe’s clock is the missing water clock of mathematician and cartographer Oronce Fine. The water clock, or clepsydra, dates back to 1500 BCE. Sadly, I couldn’t find an image of a water clock from the same era, but you can read about the evolution and function of water clocks here

Friday marked the shortest day of the year and the celebration of Yule.

The pre-Christian Scandinavian festival of Yule lasts for twelve days and celebrated the “re-birth” of the sun at the winter solstice. Yule celebrants lit bonfires, toasted trees, fields, and crops with wassail (spiced cider), and went between houses with pomanders and other fragrant gifts. The European pagan tradition also recognizes and celebrates Yule and gave us the Yule log — the burning of the log banished evil spirits and brought luck for the coming year. The pagan rituals also celebrate the return of the Oak King, who presides over the warmer half of the year, and the retreat of the Holly King, who rules in the dark winter months. 

If you’re interested in celebrating some Yuletide traditions in your own home, consider taking a solstice walk to gather a Yule log for burning in your hearth. You could create a Yule altar filled with “solar-related botanicals” such as cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. You could incorporate gratitude for the return of the sun in your meditation or yoga practice. Give the gift of seeds to those you love to celebrate the coming spring. If you’re feeling super festive, you might make something special, like this wassail, to share with your friends. If you’d like alcoholic wassail (*raises hand*), you might try this version. 

We covered this chapter of Shadow of Night in Episode 25 – Partyfamilias. Until next time, we hope that you and your loved ones celebrate a healthy and happy Saturnalia, a blessed solstice, and a merry Yule. Feel free to join our Facebook group, or shoot us an e-mail at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove.

Merry merry,

xoxo

Cait and Jen  

Podcast, Uncategorized

Episode 34 – Plot Goals

unsplash-logoDanny Pittoors

Happiest Sunday, darling Clovers!

It’s our second-to-last episode of the year and only THREE EPISODES AWAY from the release of A Discovery of Witches TV on Sundance Now and Shudder on 17 January 2019. We’ve got lots of fun activities planned to celebrate the premiere, so keep your eyes on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates. 

In the meantime, it’s time to run from the court of Rudolf like our hair’s on fire. In Episode 34, we discover the True Secret of Secrets, fight our way out of Prague, and accomplish rather a lot. Join us as we discuss denouements, antagonists, epigraphs, and Jen’s rather cheeky summary of the action in Section IV of Shadow of Night. 

Download the episode here. 

If you’d like to join the conversation, follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove or email us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com. You can also find us on Facebook as Chamomile & Clove – An All Souls Podcast or join our Facebook group, The Chamomile & Clove Clovers. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Love,

Cait and Jen