New eBook: Festae

1 Comment

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 Amazon.com.Festae 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.

New Book on Amazon!

1 Comment

I have a new book on Amazon.com.

The Mansions of the Moon

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-3-59-28-pmThe Mansions of the Moon, a collection of twenty-eight poems celebrating the angels of the Mansions of the Moon, and their images and lore, as described in Picatrix and other sources like Christopher Warnock’s book, The Mansions of the Moon, is available in Kindle format  here.

Current price is $4.99 for twenty-eight poems, greeting the twenty-eight angels of the Moon’s orbit as found in traditional astrological sources like Picatrix.

From the book blurb on Amazon…

In many ancient sources, the Moon is called “The Treasure House of Images” and this book helps explore that name. From at least the classical era, ancient Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian civilizations divided the sky into twenty-eight Mansions, noting that the Moon spent a day in each of these places in the course of a month. As with the night sky divided into constellations, ancient astronomers named these Mansions and gave them images, and celestial rulers. Thus, the Mansions of the Moon are a ‘Zodiac’ of sorts for the Moon — a sequence of twenty-eight positions that the Moon occupies on successive days through her month-long procession across the sky.

In this sequence of twenty-eight poems, Andrew Watt explores what the Mansions have meant for hundreds if not thousands of years — the spiritual rulers said to reign in those palaces, the forces they put to work in human and earthly affairs, and the imagery that is said to adorn these Mansions. Each Mansion, and each poem, is thus a door or a window into a magical way of seeing the world. By following the Moon through each of the Mansions on succeeding days, the reader gains insight into the way the Moon truly is a Treasure House of Images.

Would you also like it as a downloadable PDF available through my store on Etsy.com? Please let me know… In the meantime, you can get my Poetry for the Behenian Stars there, as well as on Amazon.com.

Special thanks to Christopher Warnock.  Without his book, The Mansions of the MoonI would never have become so excited about this subject, or written these poems.

 

Behenian Stars on Amazon.com

Leave a comment

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 Amazon.com 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.

Follow-on to Writing A Sonnet

4 Comments

Sonnet Worksheet

 

I made this worksheet earlier today to help people learn to write sonnets. As you can probably tell from this blog, I’ve written a good many sonnets.  Here’s the process by which I taught myself, made into a worksheet.  You too can learn this possibly-useless art in a weekend. Good luck!

 

Tai Chi Y3D146: Twist

4 Comments

It’s been a complicated day.  Christine, I’m very much enjoying the Kathleen Norris book on Accidie, and more on that when I’ve finished it. Right now I’m at about the half-way point, but I keep getting distracted or pulled away from it by various prep-work for the start of school, which is approaching like a freight train faster than I’d like.

This morning Dad took me to visit the pool nearby before I’d even gotten out of bed fully.  I did 20 lengths (10 laps) in the pool again, followed by my two qi gong forms and my tai chi form on the pool deck afterward.  And then, when I got back to mom and dad’s house after that, things got very crazy for the rest of the day.  I realized that tomorrow is the self-imposed deadline, as well, for an upcoming project, so I’ve been working on that, too. When did my life shift into overdrive as I got ready for school?  Something like six days ago, I think, except that it should have been two weeks ago.  Yikes.

There’s this little flip at the end of False Close, from yesterday, that really should have been included in that poem, rather than in today’s.  It’s not a separate movement, really, just a step behind, followed by a Roll Back.

So, think of it this way, as I’m trying to… first, False Close.

Withdraw the left foot and pull back both hands.
For now, keep your weight latent on the right.
Hands protect the face; beware shifting sands
underfoot, for now. Keep open a slight
distance between arms and line of the chest.
Fill this ‘balloon’ with chi for your defense.
Yet remember that left foot! Stand light, lest
you brace too heavily: be as a fence,
able to let the windy words blow by,
but strong and sure to keep the bulls away.
Yet stand softly, for your hands must deny
any strike that comes. For now, this is play —
imagine the foe coming from behind,
step back left and twist: defeat what you find.

From this ending position, which I’ve actually described incorrectly — note the part highlighted in red, where it says “Step back left and twist.” There’s a weight-shift in there, from right leg to left leg, and it’s actually the right leg that steps back.  When I think about it, I realize that the part in blue is wrong, too — it’s important to note that this is where the weight is supposed to shift from one foot to the other.  The twist doesn’t happen counterclockwise, from right to left; but left to right, clockwise. The step that gets taken backward is taken with the right foot, not the left.  How to fix this?

We need to take an editing pen to the mess:

Withdraw the left foot and pull back both hands.
For now, keep your weight latent on the right.
Hands protect the face; beware shifting sands
underfoot, for now. Keep open a slight
distance between arms and line of the chest.
Fill this ‘balloon’ with chi for your defense.
Yet remember that left foot: Switch weight, lest
you be caught off guard: left leg’s post of fence,
able to let the windy words blow by,
while strongly standing to keep bulls at bay.
Bend knees softly, for your hands must deny
any strike that comes. For now, this is play:
imagine the foe coming from behind,
step back with right, so twist comes as designed.

And now I look at my poem for ‘tomorrow’, namely the poem from a couple of weeks ago for the Roll Back movement.  A couple of small changes here, reveal that the motion of the right hand in the first line is upward, and the left hand’s motion is sidewise in line 3.  I read today that repetition prevents the build-up of gunk, so I think I’m going to review and edit a few small changes in the poems for the repeated movements, and then continue on.

From this braced posture, the right hand retreats, (swings high)
but right elbow remains just in its place
The left hand rises toomoves also, and it entreats (cuts by)
the opponent as it travels side-swipes through space
until fingertips graze the bent right arm.
Thus a right angle is ordered — and stands
between the forearms on the right and left:
This is a posture of defensive hands,
for the arms can shift with movement so deft
to deflect the strike.  Once the hands are firm,
weight can shift away from the front right foot;
the left leg can carry the weight a term —
but neither leg should move from where it’s put
Sweep both hands down and sideways to the left,
to guard the flank that in this move’s bereft.

So this holds up pretty well.  I can discern the movement intended in these two poems much more effectively now, and I feel that they’re right, despite the hiccups.  This process is not going as smoothly or as cleanly as I originally anticipated; but on the other hand maybe it’s for the best that I didn’t get through 20 poems without needing to make major corrections.

Sleep well, everybody. See you tomorrow.

Poems: on the Way to Quito

1 Comment

I wrote these on the plane to Quito, but I hadn’t had a chance to type it up until today:

And now a journey to Quito begins:
the plane is moving and the runway’s near’
but news is full of economic sins,
and all Dad’s health complaints fill me with fear.
He looks FINE, of course, else we wouldn’t go;
but my stomach is all tied up in knots,
for even if he’s sick, I might not know.
He might choose silence while his body rots
from the inside-out.  Yet we will do fine:
There will be good food and conversation,
and remembrances of the past over wine,
an aging banker’s prognostication
on misplaced investments and lucky breaks,
Ponzi governments and arthritis aches.

Dad, of course, IS fine. He’s in great health, and this was just my way of getting through some of the panic that always accompanies my anxieties at the start of a trip.  Why it should be that I get all worked up about these things, I don’t know.  But the first part of the poem is all about the panics at the start of the trip, and the resulting de-stressifying as we got underway.

The second one is titled Cuba

Looking downward, through two layers of cloud,
I have a view which angels might proclaim
(were they known for being boastful or loud)
of an island, long of infamous name,
Cuba — ill-ruled by the faithless Fidel,
“Communist tyrant reviled by all”.
Yet teenage fury in my chest I quell,
and a Cold War invective I forestall.
With angel eyes, I look on fields and farms,
red dirt roads, brown swamps, and lonely beaches.
It’s hard not to dream of its bygone charms,
or walking those contrabanded reaches.
As ocean reappears beneath the plane,
I laugh: no Mordor have I seen.

Poem: Star Election of Cetus

3 Comments

I’m not a student of Christopher Warnock’s astrological magic course, but I am on his mailing list, and I do like the act of creating poetry and hymns around the astrological windows he and his students find.

Today there is such an opening for Menkar, the alpha star in the constellation of Cetus, associated with finding lost things, good luck, and happiness.  Cetus is not one of the Behenian stars listed by H.C. Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, but it’s still a pretty interesting star.

Menkar, bright star of heaven’s graceful whale,
adorning Cetus with fluorescent jaw!
Send out your fortunate rays without fail,
To bring joyous days under heaven’s law!
Deep Ocean knows the crested serpent’s route,
Mimicking heaven’s own dutiful stars;
Now in your breaching, send the lucky spout
Raining down on us to drive away cares!
Give us fresh eyes to find that which was lost,
Tumble knuckle bones to favor our deeds;
Steady our keel though we be tempest-tossed!
Opportune times come to him the whale leads:
Cetus and Menkar enliven my art;
Prosper this work with good luck from the start!

Older Entries