New eBook: Festae

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I’m pleased to report that Festae, a book of poetry with hymns to deities from the Greco-Roman pagan calendar, is now available on Cover.jpg

Festae includes four odes called the “Seasonal Greetings”, dedicated to Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. It also contains forty-three additional odes in a traditional three-stanza form, dedicated to:

  • Poseidon, god of the wild sea
  • Neptune and Salacia in their roles as providers of salt for food preservation
  • Hecate as a goddess of magic and artistry
  • Hephaestus and the Nymphs, the teachers of technology and craft
  • Pallas Athena
  • Artemis of the Moon, and of Music
  • Apollo
  • The Nine Muses
  • Vesta three festivals of June
  • All the Heras
  • The year-end celebrations of the Roman sacred year in February
  • and numerous others…

This collection joins four other of my poetry on Amazon, including The Sun’s Paces: hymns for the Decans of the Zodiacand the Poems for the Behenian Starsand Hymns for the Mansions of the Moon.  You can also find The Tai Chi PoemIn all, these five collections now present one very long poem about tai chi, and nearly 130 other poems on subjects related to astronomy, ancient history, the better angels of our nature, and our relationship to the sky and each other.

It’s been my great pleasure to write and share these poems with you, and I hope you enjoy them.  These materials are also listed on my publications page.

Behenian Stars on

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screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-7-50-22-pmI’m pleased to report that the Poems for the Behenian Stars poetry book is now available on Etsy as a downloadable PDF (US $10.00) file, and on as a Kindle file (US 9.99).  So you now have a choice of formats.  I earn somewhat more from the Etsy download than from Amazon, which I hope factors into your choice; but either way it should work to your advantage.

What do you get in this collection?

The Behenian Stars are found in the writings of H.C. Agrippa in Book II, Part 4, chapter 47 and in other sources on medieval and Renaissance astrology and astronomy.  No wonder, really: most of them are first-magnitude stars in the northern celestial hemisphere:

  1. Algol in Perseus
  2. the Pleiades in Taurus
  3. Aldebaran in Taurus
  4. Sirius in Canis Major
  5. Procyon in Canis Minor
  6. Regulus in Leo
  7. Arcturus in Bootes
  8. Algorab in Corvus
  9. Spica in Virgo
  10. Polaris in Ursa Minor
  11. Capella in Auriga
  12. Alphecca or Gemma in Corona Borealis
  13. Antares in Scorpio
  14. Vega in Lyra
  15. Deneb Algedi in Capricorn

And to this list I’ve added three other poems, honoring Fomalhaut, the only one of the four royal stars not in the list; Altair in Aquila the eagle, one of the other first-magnitude stars in the northern sky; and Alkaid in Ursa Major, a star whose spectrum helps to classify other stars and which sits somewhere between 1st and 2nd magnitude on that 6-point scale.

The poems are in the traditional formal style called an ode: three stanzas of ten lines each, organized metrically and with a rhyme scheme of ABABCDECDE.  Each poem draws on the traditional lore of both astronomy and astrology, and ends with a call to bring the influence of the star into our lives.  For magic, for poetry, for learning the northern stars, for the purpose of studying the night sky — these poems help get you to the behen (from the Arabic word for ‘root’) of naked-eye astronomy.  Reading the poems while under the night sky will help connect you to your ancestors, and to the timeless mythology that constantly rolls by overhead.

Summer Greeting [belated]

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Summer Greeting

Hail to you, bright summer, gathered in green,
all thickly swaddled in rustling leaf:
squirrel and chipmunk are grown sleek and lean;
raptor glides on updrafts of pure belief.
Ferns overhang every brook and each pool,
and bramble claims another patch of turf.
Frog conceals himself in grasses grown tall
in sun-showered field. Under oaks, it’s cool,
and Ocean sends a warning in the surf
that life is both precious and very small.

There are deer, lying dead, beside the road,
but a black mole escapes the owl’s beak.
Fox and coyote overlook a toad.
Nothing in nature is naïve or weak:
all beings cleave to ancient strategies,
and tend to their tribes through famine and feast.
White maggots choose turkey as sacred food;
gnawed antlers carry hidden histories
of fieldmouse and shrew, and those noticed leas,
who carry much of Mother Nature’s load.

Summer is wrought with tiny artistries:
the roots of a fern; a snake’s meander;
the blood in a humming-bird’s arteries;
the crimson-black wings on a tanager;
Tall grasses bent heavy with ticks and dew;
moss and lichen paired with partridgeberry.
What rotting oak sheds, earthworm will renew,
and honeybees now build in the hollows,
where woodpecker once danced and made merry.

This poem, or rather this series of poems just posted, brings to twenty-two pages the cycle of Great Year poems — the sonnets for the moon, the seasonal greetings, the great sabbats and esbats, and a few festival days. I should think about publishing. At the same time, it’s hard to contemplate that, because there are a great many pieces in this cycle that I consider necessary that I haven’t written yet. I suppose, once the Moon/Esbat/Sabbat cycle is finished, that I could publish that — and then later bring out a collection of the festival day poems. Something to consider.

How many readers would buy such a book?

Edit: I just said to one of my colleagues at boy scout camp, that given how I started the summer (in my Mother’s words) “barely knowing an oak from an oriole” I’ve made great progress. Maybe forty plants, thirty birds, six snake types, eight frogs and toads, moles and shrews and fieldmice and chipmunks. Progress indeed.