Tags: fun, gifts, health, humour, internet, photos, seasons, shopping, winter
Tags: books, children, culture, hairy maclary
Out of the gate
and off for a walk
went Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy
and Hercules Morse
as big as a horse
with Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy.
all covered in spots,
as big as a horse
and Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy.
Tags: beauty, culture, music, nanowrimo, oriental, voice, women, writing
November is always a month for discovering new music (or rediscovering old, forgotten music); NaNoWriMo needs a lot of deliberate sound to block out noise, and either lots of favourite bands will choose around that time of year to release new works, or Last.fm will surpass itself in its suggestions. This year was of the latter kind, so the next few weeks are going to be dedicated to the artists I was introduced to, and under whose influence my latest venture was written.
Azam Ali is an Iranian singer and songwriter; Vas is her project of collaboration with American percussionist Greg Ellis. It is not a band as the word is commonly understood. They brought out four hypnotically beautiful albums between 1997 and 2004, and, although both Ali and Ellis have been involved in other projects, solo or teamwork, there is no reason to believe they will never record together again. Interestingly, Vas is more pronounced in its Oriental style than Ali’s solo work: her first album, Portals of Grace (2002), includes almost exclusively European songs of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, while the following ones paint her as a less electronic, more vocally secure Natacha Atlas. She’s another artist I’d love to see perform live.
Tags: attitude, awareness, dailyom, happiness, health, psychology
As children, we laugh hundreds of times each day, delighted by the newness of living. When we reach adulthood, however, we tend to not allow ourselves to let go in a good belly laugh. Inviting laughter back into our lives is simply a matter of making the conscious decision to laugh. Though most of us are incited to laugh only when exposed to humor or the unexpected, each of us is capable of laughing at will. A laugh that comes from the belly carries with it the same positive effects whether prompted by a funny joke or consciously willed into existence. When our laughter comes from the core of our being, it permeates every cell in our physical selves, beginning in the center and radiating outward, until we are not merely belly laughing but rather body laughing.
Laughter has been a part of the human mode of expression since before evolution granted us the art of speech. Through it, we connected with allies while demonstrating our connection with people we didn’t know. In the present, laughter allows us to enjoy positive shared experiences with strangers and loved ones alike. Yet solitary laughter carries with it its own slew of benefits. An energetic and enthusiastic bout of whole-body laughter exercises the muscles, the lungs, and the mind in equal measure, leaving us feeling relaxed and content. When we laugh heartily at life’s ridiculousness instead of responding irritably, our focus shifts. Anger, stress, guilt, and sadness no longer wield any influence over us, and we are empowered to make light of what we originally feared. Laughter also opens our hearts, letting love and light in, changing our perspective, and enabling us to fix our attention on what is positive in our lives.
It is easy to laugh when we feel good, but it is when the world appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives. Our laughter then resonates through our hearts, filling the empty spaces with pure, unadulterated joy. We regain our footing in the moment and remember that no sorrow is powerful enough to rob us of our inborn happiness. When we understand that uninhibited laughter is the food of the soul, nourishing us from within, we know instinctively that life is worthwhile.
Tags: books, culture, history, legends, magic, myth, william godwin, witchcraft
The volume of records of supposed necromancy and witchcraft is sufficiently copious, without its being in any way necessary to trace it through its latest relics and fragments. Superstition is so congenial to the mind of man, that, even in the early years of the author of the present volume, scarcely a village was unfurnished with an old man or woman who laboured under an ill repute on this score; and I doubt not many remain to this very day. I remember, when a child, that I had an old woman pointed out to me by an ignorant servant-maid, as being unquestionably possessed of the ominous gift of the “evil eye,” and that my impulse was to remove myself as quickly as might be from the range of her observation.
But witchcraft, as it appears to me, is by no means so desirable a subject as to make one unwilling to drop it. It has its uses. It is perhaps right that we should be somewhat acquainted with this repulsive chapter in the annals of human nature. As the wise man says in the Bible, “It is good for us to resort to the house of those that mourn;” for there is a melancholy which is attended with beneficial effects, and “by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” But I feel no propensity to linger in these dreary abodes, and would rather make a speedy exchange for the dwellings of healthfulness and a certain hilarity. We will therefore with the reader’s permission at length shut the book, and say, “Lo, it is enough.”
There is no time perhaps at which we can more fairly quit the subject, than when the more enlightened governments of Europe have called for the code of their laws, and have obliterated the statute which annexed the penalty of death to this imaginary crime.
So early as the year 1672, Louis XIV promulgated an order of the council of state, forbidding the tribunals from proceeding to judgment in cases where the accusation was of sorcery only.
In England we paid a much later tribute to the progress of illumination and knowledge; and it was not till the year 1736 that a statute was passed, repealing the law made in the first year of James I, and enacting that no capital prosecution should for the future take place for conjuration, sorcery and enchantment, but restricting the punishment of persons pretending to tell fortunes and discover stolen goods by witchcraft, to that appertaining to a misdemeanour.
As long as death could by law be awarded against those who were charged with a commerce with evil spirits, and by their means inflicting mischief on their species, it is a subject not unworthy of grave argument and true philanthropy, to endeavour to detect the fallacy of such pretences, and expose the incalculable evils and the dreadful tragedies that have grown out of accusations and prosecutions for such imaginary crimes. But the effect of perpetuating the silly and superstitious tales that have survived this mortal blow, is exactly opposite. It only serves to keep alive the lingering folly of imbecile minds, and still to feed with pestiferous clouds the thoughts of the ignorant. Let us rather hail with heart-felt gladness the light which has, though late, broken in upon us, and weep over the calamity of our forefathers, who, in addition to the inevitable ills of our sublunary state, were harassed with imaginary terrors, and haunted by suggestions,
Whose horrid image did unfix their hair,
And make their seated hearts knock at their ribs,
Against the use of nature.