Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 10-30 April – Chapter 32

Photo by Dom . on Unsplash

In today’s Real-Time Reading, we’re getting the eff out of Prague — and with good reason. The timing of these chapters is a bit curious, as we’re supposed to have Rudolf’s musical fiasco on 10 April and escape Prague on Walpurgis Night, which takes place on 30 April. I note this only because I’m unclear on when to publish this segment in our RTR journey — but we’re going to roll with it. It’s also possible that we’re playing with our funky 16th century European calendars again, so it probably all makes sense somewhere. Onward — to bonfires and vegetable portraits!

“The humans’ Dracula–the Dragon’s son known as the Impaler–was only one of Vlad’s brood,” Matthew explained.

“The Impaler was a nasty bastard. Happily, he’s dead now, and all we have to worry about are his father, his brothers, and their Bathory allies.” Gallowglass looked somewhat cheered.

Vlad III, Dracula, the Impaler, was Voivode of Wallachia between 1448 and his death. He reportedly earned his name because impaling was his favorite method of execution. Reportedly, he impaled monks to “assist” them in reaching heaven.

There’s plenty of speculation about how Vlad III earned his bloodthirsty reputation, including the claim that he was educated–but also tortured–while held captive by the Ottomans as a young man. He apparently consolidated power in Wallachia by inviting all of his rivals and vassals to a banquet… where he murdered and impaled all of them. He was also famous for nailing the hats of Ottoman diplomats to their heads and sending people with contagious diseases (plague, leprosy) to mingle with Ottoman armies as a form of biological warfare.

Vlad III took the surname “Dracul” from his father, who adopted it after his induction into the Order of the Dragon. “Dracul” likely became “Dracula,” the vampire, when Bram Stoker learned that, in the Wallachian dialect, “dracula” means devil.

Báthory, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Bathory

As for Elizabeth Bathory, she’s a whole other kettle of fish — the world’s most prolific female murderer, accused of murdering some 650 young women between 1590-1610. There is a myth about her that claims she bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth, but there appears to be a debate about whether she actually did such things or whether the story grew out of the evidence of tortured and mutilated women found at Bathory’s castle prior to the trial of her servants. Despite the remaining documents from the trial in 1611, modern scholarship questions whether Bathory actually committed the crimes attributed to her or whether the whole blood-bathing, murdery business was slander aimed at appropriating her territory. I’d rather not know.

If you wanted to, you could take a tour following the life of the “Blood Countess” in Slovakia. Tell me about it afterwards; I’ll wait right here.

“I want us all as far from Prague as possible by the time the sun rises,” Matthew said grimly. “Something is very wrong. I can smell it.”

“That may not be such a good idea. Do you not know what night it is?” Gallowglass asked. Matthew shook his head. “Walpurgisnacht. They are lighting bonfires all around the city and burning effigies of witches — unless they can find a real one, of course.”

The Czech festival of Čarodějnice, or Walpurgis night, uses effigies of the pagan goddess Morana to show that the people are sick of winter and ready for spring. Celebrants make witch figures, burn them, and spread the ashes over bodies of water… unless, as Gallowglass notes, the celebrants of certain centuries found an actual human to burn.

According to the video below (filmed, delightfully, in Czech!), celebrating Walpurgis Night involves building large bonfires, shooting rifles and cracking whips to scare off evil spirits, and ritualistically throwing torches over large fires to symbolize the evil spirits warded off by holy fire. There’s also some business about cherry trees and kissing and fertility that seems intriguing.

As many of you likely know, May 1 is sacred and celebrated in many cultures. In the Celtic tradition, May 1 is Beltane, a festival that celebrates the return of the summer (and the fertile seasons) with bonfires. Like Walpurgis Night, Beltane marks the turn of the seasons and the cleansing power of fire to bless crops and livestock, ward off evil, and its reminder of the long, warm days to come in summer.

“Matthew’s father beat him with a sword once. I saw it.” The firedrake’s wings fluttered softly within my rib cage in silent agreement. “Then he knocked him over and stood on him.”

“He must be as big as the emperor’s bear Sixtus,” Jack said, awed at the thought of anyone conquering Matthew.

It’s hard, in the age of the terribly-disturbing Tiger King, to imagine Rudolf II as anything other than a very strange man with a very large ego who derived some sort of pleasure in ripping animals (and items) from their homelands for his pleasure. This fascinating article describes “three Rudolfs” visible from history:

“1. the feeble, unstable, and impoverished monarch who began his reign by succeeding to a glamorous political inheritance but ended it a prisoner in his own castle, powerless in the Empire, evicted from Austria and Hungary, deposed even in Bohemia, where he was forced to endure the coronation tumult of his detested brother; 2. The second Rudolf is a great Maecenas, the protector of the arts and sciences, of Arcimboldo and Spranger, Kepler and Tycho Brahe (Maecenas – cultural minister at the time of Octavian); 3. The third Rudolf is different again, and seemingly much less edifying. He is a notorious patron of occult learning, who trod the paths of secret knowledge with an obsession bordering on madness.”

Vertumnus (Rudolf II) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

The descriptions of Rudolf’s castle–and its menagerie–are fantastical. Lions, tigers, bears, apple trees, palm trees, olive trees, a maze, hedges in the shape of letters… an amazing place for anyone who visited in the 16th century. In a 2018 exhibition, the Bunkamura Museum in Japan hosted a number of artifacts from Rudolf’s fantastical collection that seem appropriate for today’s reading. First, the beautiful Orpheus Playing to the Animals (1625), allegedly inspired by the menagerie at Prague Castle. Second, this extraordinary portrait of Rudolf II as Vertumnus by court painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. I had no idea this fellow (note the peapod eyelids and pear nose) was based on Rudolf II, nor that the Hapsburgs employed Arcimboldo for over 25 years. Vertumnus is the Roman god of seasonal change and metamorphoses — apt, I think, for a student of alchemy and the occult.

Turning back, for a moment, to Rudolf’s menagerie — the Emperor reportedly kept a favorite lion named Mohammed. Apparently, Tycho Brahe told Rudolf that he and one of the lions had a similar horoscope and would share a similar fate. Rudolf, being superstitious, reportedly locked himself in his chambers when the lion died and followed him in death three days later. It’s not covered in Shadow of Night, but it appears that Rudolf had a very strange, sad life (and some very unusual children).

We covered this chapter in Episode 34, Plot Goals. The Daemons covered this chapter in Take 58! The One with the Secret Castle Tour.

We’ll pick up again with Peter Knox in modern day Prague in our next post. In the meantime, don’t forget that our coverage of Time’s Convert begins this Sunday, April 12, 2020. You can follow us on Twitter as @chamomilenclove or join our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers, if you want to stay in touch.

We hope you and those you love are safe, sound, and healthy. We’re so grateful for our All Souls family and glad that you’re here. Take care of each other.

xoxo,

Cait and Jen

Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – April 9-10 – Chapter 31

Photo by Martin Krchnacek on Unsplash

“You don’t think we’re being too philosophical?” I wondered aloud, worrying at my lip with my fingers.

“This is the court of Rudolf II,” Hoefnagel said drily. “There is no such thing as too philosophical.”

The Rudolf II of the All Souls Trilogy is complicated — a villainous, lecherous man who just happens to patronize and support some of the greatest artists of his time. The Met Museum has several of the items from Rudolf’s Kunstkammer on display to include the images featured here: the celestial globe by Gerhard Emmoser, a female nude in the style of Albrect Durer, a bronze Apollo by Adriaen de Vries, and this allegorical relief by Hans Daucher:

As this essay notes, the bulk of Rudolf’s collection was dispersed after his death — however, you can see many of the items that once belonged to his court at the Kunstkammer Museum in Vienna. Several of these items are on virtual display, including this ball runner clock by Christoph Margraf and this mechanical celestial globe by Johannes Reinhold the Elder and Georg Roll. The curator’s notes also reveal fascinating details about life in Rudolf’s court… like how he had Roll locked up in prison when the globe he delivered didn’t work as promised. Charming. True to Shadow of Night, the curator’s notes also reveal that Rudolf had, err, “a penchant for erotic-mythological subject matters” such as this extremely disturbing painting of Leda and the Swan by Joseph Heintz the Elder. I cannot unsee this.

Signor Pasetti was delighted to teach some of the court ladies a “dance of the wandering stars,” which would provide Matthew something heavenly to observe while he waited for his beloved moon to appear.

Blame quarantine, y’all, but I definitely fell down a Renaissance dance YouTube hole. Our friend Signor Pasetti did, in fact, exist (and he was the imperial dancing master for Rudolf II), but I couldn’t find any preserved examples of his choreography. What I did find was examples of the hopping dance known as the galliard and the stately pavane. Embedded below is a video that purports to demonstrate Czech folk and court dances of the Renaissance. I have no idea, as I was not there, but I’ll buy it for purposes of imagining the dance of the wandering stars.

You can learn more about Renaissance dance types (and watch helpful videos) via the U.S. Library of Congress.

“It is a mark of respect, Herr Roydon.” Rudolf placed a subtle emphasis on the name, “This once belonged to King Vladislaus and was passed on to my grandmother. The insignia belongs to a brave company of Hungarian knights known as the Order of the Defeated Dragon.”

Rudolf may be referring to the Order of the Dragon, or the Societas Draconistarum, a monarchical chivalric order founded by Sigismund von Luxembourg that sought to fight the Ottoman Empire, defend the Hungarian monarchy, and defend the Catholic Church. The order chose as its symbol the defeated dragon slain by St. George, sometimes depicted as a ouroboros with a red cross. Vlad II Dracul, Prince of Wallachia (and father of Dracula!), was a member of the order. According to Wikipedia, there aren’t many surviving historical examples of the original emblem… which is probably why my internet searches turned up a lot of very modern jewelry portraying dragons and no beautifully-embellished, jewel-encrusted chains like the one Rudolf gives Diana in 1591. I like to imagine that she left it behind and 16th Century Matthew lost it.

I tried extremely hard to find an image of the phallic cabbage root Diana mentions from the Kunstkammer, but alas — the internet failed me. In our next installment for the Real-Time Reading, we’re fleeing Prague under cover of night. I hope you packed your red hose.

Between now and then, you can find our back catalogue of episodes here or you can get in touch with us by e-mailing us, following us on Twitter, or by becoming a member of our Facebook group. As a reminder, we’re starting our chapter-by-chapter discussion of TIME’S CONVERT beginning THIS SUNDAY, 12 April 2020. We can’t wait to see what you have to say!

Until next time,

xoxo

Cait and Jen

Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 8-9 April – Chapter 30

Photo by David White on Unsplash

Well, friends, we’re picking up the Real-Time Reading again…. right at about the point where life (and Shadow of Night) defeated me in 2019. In 2020, returning to the RTR provides a bit of distraction and interest in a world gone decidedly pear-shaped. I hope you’re all safe, sound, and taking care of one another — we’re all in this thing together.

So let’s get to it. We return to find Matthew and Diana in Prague, playing a dangerous game with the slimy, suspicious Emperor Rudolf and exploring the wonders of the sixteenth century.

“Master Habermel stopped by. Your compendium is on the table.” Matthew didn’t look up from the plans to Prague Castle that he’d somehow procured from the emperor’s architects.

Astronomical compendia like the one Master Habermel were prized scientific and artistic objects in the sixteenth century. Assuming one had a working knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and geography, the owner of a compendium could “plan journeys, predict the time of the sunset . . . make astrological predictions, [and] measure the heights of the stars and constellations.” The one pictured here, made by Christopher Shissler in 1561, belongs to the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Aside from their practical use, compendia like Diana’s were made for display by wealthy scientific patrons and leaders to show their mastery of the natural world and their high social status.

On Deb’s Pinterest board, she links to this specimen (made by Habermel, himself!) housed at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. The Habermel model is fashioned more like a book and has space for leaves of paper or other tablets to be stored or carried inside. This example has a highly-decorated drum on the exterior and a lovely inscribed sundial on top. I always imagined Diana’s compendium to be of the round, highly-decorated type with swinging arms, but I like the idea of the notebook style, too.

“These particular salamanders were a gift from the king when I returned to France late in 1541. King Francis chose the salamander in flames for his emblem, and his motto was, ‘I nourish and extinguish.'”

François Ier Louvre.jpg
Francis I of France

Francis I ruled from 1515 until his death in 1547. As a patron of the arts, he’s the reason the Louvre houses the painting Mona Lisahe invited Leonardo da Vinci to his court and the artist brought the painting along. This period at the court of Francis I appears to the the inspiration for the 1998 film Ever After, a modern adaptation of the Cinderella story starring Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Houston, Dougray Scott (where did he go, anyway?), and Jeanne Moreau.

Anyways. Francis I did, in fact, choose the salamander, a fabulous animal in the medieval bestiary, as his personal emblem. Francis’s salamander, pictured below, sported a large crown and is often depicted either “spitting out water to extinguish flames” or “swallowing flames to feed itself with good fire.”

Symbols and Emblems of the French Monarchy in 16th Century France ...
Emblem of Francis I

According to Wired.com, Pliny the Elder perpetuated the myth that salamanders could survive flames (they can’t). St. Augustine believed that the salamander was a symbol of the soul’s resistance to the fires of Hell. The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy notes that, in alchemy, the salamander was a symbol of the prima materia and provides the following verse about our slippery little lizard friends:

Ruby Salamander Brooch (Reproduction), based on the wreck of the Girona

[The Salamander] is caught and pierced

So that it dies and yields up its life with its blood.

But this, too, happens for its good;

For from its blood it wins immortal life.

And then death has no more power over it.

“In spite of her name, Diana doesn’t like hunting. But it’s no matter. I will fly the merlin,” Matthew said.

The merlin is a member of the family Falconidae sometimes called a “pigeon hawk.” They’re small — their average wingspan is 2′-2’3″ as opposed to say, a peregrine falcon, which has an average wingspan of 3’3″-3’6″. Just as Emperor Rudolf notes, the merlin was a ladies’ bird in medieval falconry; Catherine the Great of Russia and Mary, Queen of Scots, reportedly flew merlins as their hunting birds of choice. There are merlins in the wild in Europe, Asia, and North America — you can learn about how to identify them (and tell them apart from kestrels) here.

There’s a very informative video of hunting using merlins below:

The bird pictured in the video is a mature female, very similar to our Šárka in Shadow of Night.

“Her name is Šárka,” the gamekeeper whispered with a smile.

“Is she as clever as her namesake?” Matthew asked him.

“More so,” the old man answered with a grin.

The legend of Šárka comes from “The Maidens War,” a tale from Bohemia about the uprising of a group of female warriors against men. According to Wikipedia, it first appears in the twelfth century Chronica Boëmorum. In the legend, Šárka tricks an army of men guarding the tomb of the great queen Libuše by tempting them to drink mead laced with a sleeping potion. Šárka calls her female warriors to the tomb once the men have fallen asleep and together, they slaughter the leader Ctirad and his troops. There are several versions of the myth, including an operatic version where Šárka falls in love with Ctirad, goes through with killing him, then throws herself off a cliff out of remorse. While you contemplate this tale, please enjoy Czech composer Bedřich Smetana‘s symphonic poem, Šárka:

We’ll pick up the Real-Time Reading of Shadow of Night again on April 10, when Matthew and Diana stage the legend of Diana and Endymion and retrieve Ashmole 782 from Rudolf’s palace.

In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter, join our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers, or you can e-mail us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com.

xoxox

Jen and Cait

Podcast

Episode 72 – The Spreadsheet Olympics

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Happy Sunday, Clovers.

At long last, you have the nerd-a-riffic, highly specific content you’ve been waiting for — the whole All Souls Trilogy plot shebang in one spreadsheet. It was a (very colorful, slightly stressful) labor of love, but it definitely puts things in a whole new perspective. You can download the PDF version of the slides here:

This episode wraps our wraps, closes all the books, answers all the questions — well, at least most of them. We’re talking about trilogy structure, strong plotting choices, sneaky plotting choices, a little bit of time travel, and all our favorite things about the All Souls Trilogy. You don’t want to miss it.

Download the episode here.

If you’re interested in our other trilogy wrap episodes, you can check out Episode 70: The List on the Seat of Our Pants or Episode 71: The Narrative Ish. Our book-level wrap episodes are here.

Until we start Time’s Convert in April or so, you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Redbubble, and Patreon. You can always e-mail us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com.

Thanks for the journey, y’all. It’s been amazing.

xoxo

Cait and Jen

Podcast

Episode 71 – The Narrative Ish

Photo by Farzad Mohsenvand on Unsplash

Happy Sunday, loves.

We promise — the plot and time travel discussion is coming — we’re just chickens. Procrastinating chickens. This week, we’re talking about all the themes covered by the All Souls Trilogy — identity, family, love and trauma, redemption, the meaning of the epigraph, and on and on. While wrapping our brains around these huge topics, we’re also talking about redeeming antagonists, the price of responsibility, divinity, cosmic duologies, and even a little tiny bit of time travel. It’s a big, meaty episode, so dig in and let us know what you think by shooting us a message on Twitter, sending us an e-mail, or by joining our discussion group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers on Facebook.

Download the episode here.





If you haven’t already, please leave us a rating or review on the podcast application of your choice! You can also support us via Patreon or by purchasing some C&C swag on Redbubble.

Keep your eyes peeled for our Time’s Convert reading schedule on Twitter and Facebook. Also, MARK YOUR CALENDARS for All Souls Con this October in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Next time, we PLOT.

xoxox

Cait and Jen