Ancient History, Life, Research, University

Christianity, Qumran and a relationship of Assimilation- An Essay

Note: This is an essay I recently completed for my university unit on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a fascinating subject and highly recommend it if you enjoy Ancient History.

Since Solomon Schechter first discovered The Damascus Document in a genizah in Cairo, scholars and enthusiasts have sought to connect Christianity with Qumran. The later texts found at the Dead Sea in 1947 spoke of a Teacher of Righteousness and a Wicked Priest, apocryphal visions of battles in the Heavenly realms, and detailed a shared Community life with a focus on purity and Law. The Scrolls have fired scholarly imaginations with theories and possibilities, ranging from Lawrence Schiffman’s hypothesis that Qumran had Sadducean roots, to Barbara Thiering’s extreme belief that John the Baptist was the Teacher of Righteousness and Jesus of Nazareth was the Wicked Priest.

Dated from the Second Temple period, a time of political and religious upheaval, the Scrolls provide another insight into the birth of Christianity, various Jewish sects, and ‘the common ground from which they all sprang.’[1]

The purpose of this essay is to explore the similarities of teachings, esoteric practices, and historical similarities between the Qumran sect and Christianity, revealing that even while they share many common elements there isn’t enough evidence to support a definitive relationship between the two.

To begin with, the most obvious questions regarding Christianity and Qumran is about Jesus himself as an Essene, a Teacher of Righteousness or a Wicked Priest depending which scholar you read, and whether New Testament documents found at the site.

Jesus of Nazareth was a charismatic rebel whose teaching ‘stands out invested with religious individuality and actuality’[2] but ultimately ‘nowhere in any of the scrolls is Jesus mentioned’[3] and the Greek fragments found in Cave 7 were not copies of New Testament writings.

Despite this there are numerous parallels in Jesus’ teachings with those practiced by the Qumran sect such as his emphasis on the kingdom, messianic self-understandings, and the similarities drawn from the beatitudes in Matthew 5:8 and 4Q525 such as, ‘ [Blessed is]…with a pure heart and does not slander with his tongue.’[4] Other comparisons in their teachings are their stance on divorce law, blasphemy and Jesus’ use of calling God ‘Abba’ or ‘Father ‘ is matched with three prayers found in Qumran using the related  phrasing ‘my Father, My God.’

This connection between Jesus and Qumran is often also linked with John the Baptist due to the proximity of his ministry to Qumran and his focus on ‘divine judgement, repentance and ritual washing.’[5] Barbara Thiering controversially argues not only for a direct connection, but that ‘The Teacher of Righteousness is an exact counterpart for John the Baptist’[6] and that his adversary The Wicked Priest ‘did almost everything Jesus was accused of by his enemies.’[7] A more plausible theory is that it is possible Jesus met Essenes during his ministry with some scholars like Riesner suggesting that Jesus stayed near their quarter in Jerusalem, and ‘the house used for the Last Supper was probably owned by an Essene.’[8]

Despite these similarities Jesus taught inclusivity and ate with those deemed unclean and marginalised not only by the Pharisaic Jews but the Essenes ‘were among those most ready to maintain purity through rigid rules of exclusion.’[9] On a theological standpoint, one of  focal points of Jesus’ teaching was ‘Forgive and you will be forgiven’[10] as well as other  provocative acts such as healing on the Sabbath, that Pharisaic Jews saw as a direct violation of the Mosaic Law. The latter is the strongest argument against Jesus being Essene (even a disgraced one as Thiering suggests) as the strict adherence of the Law was intrinsic to every aspect of Essene life including ‘sexual relations or the keeping of the Sabbath, meal practice or business dealings.’[11]

Despite the similarities in some areas of theology, The Teacher of Righteousness in Qumran, focused on the deep teachings and obligations of the Law and he was without the ‘genius of Jesus the Jew who succeeded in uncovering the essence of religion as an existential relationship between man and man and man and God.’ [12] The Scrolls themselves lack evidence of a direct relationship between Jesus and Qumran, but what they successfully do is provide another insight into Palestinian Judaism at the time of his teachings and reinforces the Jewishness of Jesus by reconstructing the world in which he had his ministry.

The next recognizable Christian figure that scholars like to associate with Qumran is the similarity in the seven letters of Paul and writings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

According to Kuhn’s research there are over four hundred parallels between Paul’s teachings and those practiced at Qumran that focus on the ‘dualism of light and darkness within an ethical and eschatological framework,’[13] the concept of Community being a temple of God living under a new covenant, and the emphasis with which they concentrated on ‘God’s justice and man’s sinfulness, especially on justification by grace alone.’[14]

The core differences between Paul and Qumran once again is in theology especially with Paul’s faith in Christ and his different interpretation of the Torah. Before his conversion to Christianity Paul was a Pharisee and could have come into contact with Qumranian ideals during this time. He travelled extensively so it is also possible that he would have met Essenes on his journeys, much like Jesus of Nazareth did, or when he went to preach in Damascus, Antioch or his home town Tarsus.

Despite their strong conflicting views on Law and purity, Qumran and Christian theology do find more common ground in many of their esoteric beliefs, especially in the areas of healing and exorcism, Heavenly visions as well as reverence for the enigmatic character of Melchizedek.

In the New Testament Jesus and his disciples are recorded to have performed multiple healings through a laying on of hands (specifically Mark 6:5, Luke 4:40, Luke 13:13 and Acts 28:8), a practice that is not found in the Old Testament, nor in rabbinical literature. The Genesis Apocryphon found at Qumran recounts the story of how Abram’s wife Sarai was taken by the Pharaoh of Egypt and how the Most High God ‘sent a spirit to scourge him, an evil spirit to all of his household.’[15] The Pharaoh is released from this evil spirit when Abram places his hands on his head and prays for him. These passages, composed before Jesus’ time, reveals that this way of healing was ‘not only practiced by Jesus and his first disciples, but other circles as well.’[16]

Exorcism was widely performed by Jesus and his followers, and fragments of The Apocryphal Psalms found in Cave 11 have sections devoted to songs or psalms with ‘the repeated use of the  term ‘demons’ and ‘healing’’ [17]suggesting that exorcisms were also performed at Qumran. While exorcism wasn’t an unknown practice amongst the Jews there was often a traditional minyan (witnesses) needed, with other ritual elements such as washing required beforehand, where Jesus and his followers performed them sporadically with only commands.

The War Scroll found at Qumran details a final devastating but ultimately victorious war between the gentiles and the demonic forces of Belial or Satan, and the Sons of Light with angelic armies commanded by The Prince of Light, the Archangel Michael. According to XVII:5 after the defeat of Belial and his armies God will ‘send eternal succour to the company of His redeemed by the might of the princely Angel of the kingdom of Michael.’ With vivid descriptions on battle formations, priestly duties and thanksgiving ceremonies, the composer makes reference to the Book of Daniel, where Michael is also mentioned extensively as doing battle against the forces of darkness. This theme is also found in the New Testament in Revelations 12:7 where Michael and his angels throw the dragon, or Satan, down to earth in a heavenly war. Like The War Scroll, Revelations is heavy with symbolic imagery and also ends with a victory and praises of thanksgiving as the New Jerusalem is established.

While these visionary books are obviously influenced by other apocryphal writings such as The Book of Daniel, The Book of Enoch and Isaiah, the core messaging in their end of days’ battle and the fundamentals of their eschatology is different. For the Qumranian’s the one that ‘shoots forth from the stump of Jesse,’[18]  the triumphant Davidic Messiah, is to put his adversary, the king of Kittim to death, while for the Christian’s Jesus, the ‘Root and the Offspring of David’[19] will come again, establishing a new Heaven and new Earth.

Striking in both the Qumran and Christian writings is the mysterious figure of Melchizedek. In the Hebrew Bible his first appearance in Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek is described as the king of Salem and a priest of the God Most High, who enigmatically blesses Abram, gives him ‘a tenth of all’[20] and abruptly disappears from the narrative, resurfacing in Psalm 110 where the Lord says to David, ‘Thou art a priest forever after the manner of Melchizedek.’ The New Testament writings of Hebrews speaks extensively on Melchizedek, his unique Yahwistic priesthood ‘made not by virtue of a Torah requirement of physical descent but by the virtue of indestructible life’[21] and Jesus being the High Priest. In The Heavenly Prince Melchizedek found at Qumran, Melchizedek is the heavenly deliverer Archangel Michael who presides over ‘the final Judgement and condemnation of his demonic counterpart Belial’[22] and with neither his birth or death recorded ‘it is easy to imagine him as eternal and therefore that this priest should be present in the heavens.’[23]

Both Qumran and Christianity could agree that Melchizedek was an immortal figure with a priesthood assigned to him, but the conflict arises not only in Melchizedek being the Archangel Michael but also the author of Hebrew’s views of the priesthood’s ‘superiority over the levitical priesthood’[24] and their comments on the requirement of bloodlines being ‘set aside because of its weakness and ineffectiveness – for Torah make nothing perfect’[25] which is a direct violation of the Qumranian view of the Law.

The Dead Sea Scrolls has also provided scholars with an abundance of new material regarding scriptural interpretation and given a wider understanding to the practice of pesher. The sect at Qumran believed that scripture had two levels; a literal version for ordinary readers and a second level that only readers of a higher knowledge could interpret the mysteries hidden by God. Christian writers have engaged in a similar interpretive process with Hebrew prophetic writings having been decoded for foretelling’s of Jesus, such as Isaiah 53.

The writers of the Scrolls and the New Testament literature both ‘recognized the authority of the five books of the Law of Moses, held prophetic literature in high regard,’[26] and sought to find greater meanings within them. The main similarity between both practices of prophetic interpretation is what Brooke describes as the process of ‘This is That,’[27] meaning that one or more of the items within in the text is compared to another.

There is a prominent difference between the two forms of interpretation, even if on the surface New Testament interpretations seem like pesher, the process at Qumran was the ‘primary or base scriptural text always precedes the interpretation’[28] while the Christians focused on proving fulfilment by having the scriptural text recounted after the event in which they are writing.

Moving away from the esoteric to religious history, the Near East saw multiple cultural and religious changes through the Persian, Hellenistic, Maccabean and Roman periods and this impacted on the Jewish belief systems of the times. This period saw the birth of Christianity and the evolution of Rabbinical Judaism, but it also meant that ‘many Judaisms did not survive – the Essenes and the Sadducees among them.’[29] Boccacini claims that Rabbinical Judaism and Christian do not have a ‘parent-child’ relationship but one of fraternal twins birthed at the same time. The discovery of the Scolls at Qumran supports the reality that many forms of Judaism existed at the time of Jesus with their own communities, interpretations of Law and eschatological and prophetic visions of the future.

The spread of Christianity ‘turned Judaism into a multinational religion’[30] with the Rabbi’s reinforcing the concept of Judaism as the religion of the Jewish people, so one could argue that the true historical relationship  between Qumran and Christianity is one that forced assimilation.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a fascinating insight into the Second Temple Period and are a valuable study in understanding early Christianity and Judaism as well as revealing a pious and vividly literate people that valued their Law and mysteries above religious and social pressures.

The Essenes and Christianity are often curiously similar in their beliefs and practices with parallels being drawn between prominent teachings of figures like Jesus and Paul, their views and practices of healing, visions of Heavenly wars and redemption, and their reverence of figures such as Isaiah, Daniel and Melchizedek. They both held the Temple in Jerusalem with undisguised contempt and believed in a Messianic promise.

The centre of their belief systems they are so starkly different that a definitive relationship between the two can only seriously be drawn at them both being religious products of the time. Christianity with its inclusive ideals and resurrected Messiah flourished, while the Essenes strict and exclusive community could not survive, as it ‘lacked the pliant strength and elasticity of thought and depth of spiritual vision’[31] that allowed Rabbinical Judaism to endure as the dominant Jewish religion.

Note: All images used in this post were Public Domain

Bibliography

Vermès, G. 2011. The complete Dead Sea scrolls in English. 4th ed. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Allen Lane/Penguin Press.

Brooke, G.J 2005. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. Fortress Press.

Thiering, B 2005. Jesus the Man. Random House.

Kuhn, H.W 1992 The Impact of the Qumran Scrolls on the Understanding of Paul. The Magnes Press.

Flusser, D 1957 Healing through the Laying-on of Hands in a Dead Sea Scroll. Israel Exploration Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, pg. 107-108

Delcour, M 1971 Melchizedek from Genesis to the Qumran Texts and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Period, Vol. 2, pg 115-135

Boccaccini, G 1995 Multiple Judaisms, Bible Review (Feb 1995) 38-41.

Schiffman, L 1990 The Significance of the Scrolls. Bible Review Vol VI, pg 19-28

Messianic Jewish Shared Heritage Bible. (2012). 1st ed. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.

[1] Vermès 2011 pg 25

[2] Vermès 2011 pg25

[3] Brooke 2005 Pg19

[4] 4Q525 Beatitudes pg455

[5] Brooke 2005 pg24

[6] Thiering 2005 Pg19

[7] Thiering 2005 pg19

[8] Brooke 2005 pg24

[9] Brooke 2005 pg 25

[10] Luke 6:37

[11] Brooke 2005 pg38

[12] Vermès 2011 pg25

[13] Kuhn,1992 Pg 334

[14] Kuhn, 1992 pg 335

[15] IQapGen,IQ20 XX:15

[16] Flusser 1957 pg108

[17] Vermès 2011 pg 316

[18] The Book of War 4Q285, fr.7

[19] Revelations 22:16

[20] Genesis 14:18

[21] Hebrews 7:16

[22] Vermés 2011 pg532

[23] Delcor 1971 pg125

[24] Delcor 1971 pg125

[25] Hebrews 7:18-20

[26] Brooke 2005 pg 53

[27] Brooke 2005 pg 60

[28] Brooke 2005 pg 60

[29] Boccacini 1995 pg41

[30] Boccacini 1995 41

[31] Vermés 2011 pg25

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Art, fairytale, magic, paranormal, Research, University, World mythology

The female werewolf and her shaggy suffragette sisters

 

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This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Jazmina Cininas, Lecturer in Fine Art, Printmaking, RMIT University – Check out her incredible artwork here on her website

As Melbourne lights up for tomorrow’s White Night Festival, the façade of RMIT’s Storey Hall annex will transform into an illuminated billboard of morphing lupine femmes. The portraits – my original linocuts of female werewolves – might seem curious bedfellows for a Melbourne icon of deconstructivism. However, there is a long connection between female werewolves and suffragettes – and this building has a feminist history.

In the early 19th century, Hibernian Hall (now Storey Hall) was leased to the Women’s Political Association, whose purple, green and white flag flew from the rooftop. Across the world, the Women’s Social and Political Union was also making its mark — literally — on London’s Suffrage Atelier. Founded in 1909 by Alfred Pearce and the Housman siblings, Clemence and Laurence, the atelier’s print workshop advanced feminist causes, making and circulating pro-suffrage publications, and providing employment for female illustrators.

The Houseman siblings are better known, however, for their collaborative novella of 1896, The Were-Wolf. Written by Clemence with illustrations by Laurence, The Were-Wolf sees its title heroine, White Fell, find her way into the hearts of a Swedish family — while they find their way into her belly.

White Fell is part of a groundswell of female werewolves who surfaced in Victorian gothic literature, fuelled by paranoia surrounding the suffragette movement. The hirsute sisterhood are notable for preying on families and upending the gendered status quo, recognisable by their supernaturally shining eyes, foreign accents and aristocratic penchant for white fur. Inverting contemporary werewolf conventions, these shaggy suffragettes also revert to wolves — not women — after death, thereby revealing their “true” lupine selves.

Cultural constructions of women as intrinsically lupine have existed throughout the centuries, whether as nurturing mothers (think Romulus and Remus), ravening man-eaters, or as inherently demonic.

The female werewolf has been far more prevalent than her relatively modest profile suggests, flourishing most conspicuously at times when the female gender came under attack. We see this not just in the suffragette era but also — with rather more dire consequences — during the Early Modern witch-hunts.

A severed head and rampant misogyny

The earliest record I have found of a reputed werewolf (male or female) being brought to trial is that of Catherine Simon of Andermatt in Switzerland. In 1459, Catherine confessed to having transformed into a wolf with the aid of a salve (ointment) and causing an avalanche.

Witch riding a wolf, woodcut in Ulrich Molitor, Von den Unholden oder Hexen, c. 1491.
Wikimedia Commons

Catherine’s crimes were considered so serious that her executioner was charged to “divide her into two pieces, of which one shall be her head and the other her body, which shall be so completely severed that a cartwheel can be rolled between them”.

Her remains were burned, and the ashes cast into the Reuss River as further insurance against her causing harm.

This climate of religious paranoia and misogyny is captured in a sensational German broadsheet by Georg Kress, Of 300 Witches and Their Pact with the Devil to Turn Themselves into She-Wolves at Jülich, 6 May 1591.

It depicts the destruction of men, boys and cattle by a horde of ravening she-wolves, complete with rhyming descriptions of brains being sucked and hearts being eaten.

Kress’ introductory proclamation that his broadsheet is “published in print for all pious women and maidens as a warning and example” makes it clear that women were considered in greatest need of the lessons in the text.

Even pious women, it seemed, needed to be mindful of their inherent bestial natures and moral susceptibility – a sentiment echoed in witch-hunting treatises of the day.

Georg Kress’s broadsheet depicting women werewolves.
Wikimedia Commons

Werewolves and vampires

As the witch craze subsided and society’s critical gaze turned instead towards the excesses of aristocratic depravity, werewolves were swept up in the vampire wave. This peaked in 1730s Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, with Austro-Hungarian Countess Erzsébet Báthory setting the template for the clichéd Eastern European lycanthrope (werewolf).

Jazmina Cininas, Erzsebet was frequently mistaken for a vampire (2011). Reduction linocut, 37 x 28 cm.

Rumoured to have butchered and bathed in the blood of 600 local virgins for cosmetic purposes, Erzsébet has since been claimed by the vampire “cause”. However, she first came to the attention of the popular imagination in Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Werewolves, published in 1865.

Her legend includes a she-wolf familiar (an animal spirit that accompanies her and helps bewitch enemies) and a family crest composed of wolf fangs, which, like her infamous bloodbaths, seem to have had little basis in fact.

Nevertheless, Erzsébet reflects the intimate link between werewolves and vampires, an intimacy that is also shared in medicine.

A medical foundation for the werewolf myth?

In the 1980s, biochemist David Dolphin suggested that porphyria, a hereditary blood disease that causes severe anaemia, might be treated with injections of blood products, thereby popularising the notion of a medical origin for vampirism.

Visible symptoms of congenital porphyria. W. Hausmann, Strahlentherapie, Suppl. 8, 1923.

Porphyria symptoms include severe phototoxicity, demanding its sufferers avoid sunlight or risk progressively “beastly” skin lesions, especially on the face and hands. Reddish teeth and urine and extreme hairiness (notably on the forehead) complete the litany of ailments that have also seen porphyria proposed as a medical foundation for the werewolf myth.

Porphyria is not alone in its medical claim on the werewolf legend. Congenital generalised hypertrichosis (hereditary full-body hairiness), commonly known as “werewolf syndrome”, has seen Mexico’s Gomez-Aceves family listed in the 2000 Guinness Book of Records as the world’s hairiest family. Some members have achieved further celebrity status as wolf children in local circuses.

Louisa Lilia Lira de Aceves is the best-known female family member. Her hirsutism has been proposed as a genetic atavism, a “throwback” to an earlier evolutionary stage. Such thinking perpetuates Social Darwinist anxieties in the face of humanity that does not conform to the norm. However, human difference was not always viewed in this light.

Hirsute marvels

When the hairy Gonsalvus sisters received public attention in 16th-century Europe, for instance, they did so as marvels rather than monsters. Seen as evidence of divine wit and inventiveness, they led privileged lives as members of royal retinues in France and Italy.

The sisters, whose equally hirsute father had been captured as a child on the Canary Islands and brought to the French court of Henry II, lived in an age of colonial expansion marked by conquest, discovery and wonder.

Lavinia Fontana Portrait of Antonietta Gonsalvus.
Wikimedia Commons

The family’s hirsutism was viewed in the same light as the other extraordinary flora, fauna and peoples being brought back to Europe from the New World. Their place in the royal entourage was seen to demonstrate the king’s erudition and power, rather than voyeurism as we understand it today.

The religious iconography of the age also provided a sympathetic model of the hairy woman. A hairy pelt symbolised saints’ and wild folk’s penitential rejection of society’s vanities, in favour of a more virtuous co-existence with the wilderness.

Contemporary readings

Similar sentiments have resurfaced in contemporary times. In fiction and film, the female werewolf has increasingly been presented as gaining virtue and empowerment from, rather than being corrupted by, her lupine self. Novelist Angela Carter opened the floodgate in 1979 with her feminist re-writings of fairy stories, The Bloody Chamber, notable for her re-imagined Little Red Riding Hood that borrows heavily from archaic versions of the tale.

Carter’s newly menstruating Red is more than happy to usurp her grandmother’s place in the bed, embracing the wolf and growing her own pelt by morning.

In breaking with taboo, Carter provides a template for Red Riding Hood as a coming of age tale. In Carter’s version, the onset of menses represents a pubescent girl’s sexual awakening, her transforming body and appetites signalling, and celebrating, her becoming one with the wolf.

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This, in turn, has led to a uniquely feminine manifestation of lycanthropy (werewolfism) whereby a new generation of novelists and filmmakers draw on the correlations between the werewolf’s lunar cycle and a woman’s monthly cycle.

Independent filmmaker Jacqueline Garry employs this motif in her 1999 film, The Curse. Garry’s heroine, Frida Harris, was inspired by 1980’s news reports about Sandie Craddock, a UK barmaid who stabbed her co-worker to death.

Journal entries and psychiatric reports testified that Craddock was rational for most of the month. However, during her “moon time” (ie in the days surrounding her menstruation), she experienced uncharacteristic aggression. Craddock was released on the grounds of extreme PMS with a court order to take hormone replacements.

The menstrual-werewolf motif is also central to the cult Canadian film, Ginger Snaps (2000), in which suburban teenager Ginger Fitzgerald is attacked by a werewolf attracted to the smell of her first menses. Ginger’s alarming transformations include insatiable appetites and unwelcome body hair. This, in turn, causes increasing anxiety for her conflicted younger sister, Brigitte, who is forced to come to terms with her own nascent sexuality.

The third instalment in the trilogy, Ginger Snaps Back: the beginning comes full circle, returning the sisters to Canada’s pioneer past. There, Old World superstitions cast the sisters as inherently susceptible to demonic suggestion.

The nebulous figure of the female werewolf has encompassed different, often contradictory, identities over time, absorbing changing perceptions of women, wolves, morality and the monstrous.

The advent of menstrual lycanthropes and Red Riding Wolves is part of an ongoing evolution and revolution in werewolf lore. Borrowing from the past, it creates new imaginative possibilities for the lupine woman.

The Conversation

 

Ancient History, Art, Non-Fiction, Research, University, Upcoming Projects

Rare coin from King Antiochus’s rule discovered in Jerusalem

I’m currently studying The Dead Sea Scrolls as a part of my university degree and one of the areas of the Second Temple Period we cover is to do with King Antiochus and the Maccabean revolt. It was such a buzz that this was found this week as I read all about it! – Amy

 

An image of the coin

An image of the coin. (photo credit:TOWER OF DAVID MUSEUM)

Original Article found here on Jerusalem Post

Antiochus sparked the Maccabean revolt that led to the victory of the Maccabees and reclaiming of the Temple.

Nearly 30 years after the completion of excavations in the courtyard of Jerusalem’s Tower of David, outside the Old City’s walls, archeologists thought no stone was left unturned. However, during routine conservation work in the museum’s archeological garden, Orna Cohen, veteran archeologist and chief conservation officer at the Tower of David, spotted a metallic item among stones near a wall.

Upon closer inspection, Cohen determined the object was a bronze-leaf cent, once used in Jerusalem during the days of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a decidedly unwelcome guest in the history of the city.

Antiochus was a reviled king who made draconian decrees, sparking the Maccabean revolt that led to the victory of the Maccabees and the reclamation of the Temple.

The coin was found near the Hasmonean walls that cut through the center of the citadel’s courtyard, next to the tower base built during the day of Yonaton and Shimon, brothers of Judah the Maccabee.

During the original excavation of the Tower of David, ballista stones and iron arrowheads were found, evidence of the battles that took place in Jerusalem in the days when the city struggled for independence against the rulers of the Seleucids.

A portrait of Antiochus is engraved on one side of the coin, which was worth roughly 10 agorot back then. On the other side, a goddess is shown wrapped in a scarf.

While researchers are having difficulty dating the relic with precision, it is known that such coins were minted in Acre, a city on the northern shore of Israel that was once called Antiochia Ptolemais, after Ptolemy, and as such the coin is dated sometime between 172 and 168 BCE.

Eilat Lieber, director of the Tower of David, said the timing of the finding is auspicious.

“It is thrilling to hold in your hand a piece of history that brings the stories of Hanukka right up to present day,” he said.

 

Ancient History, Art, Life, Research, University

Imitation game: how copies can solve our cultural heritage crises

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Original article by Felicity Strong on The Conversation

Visitors to the Otsuka Museum in Japan are offered the chance to see through time. Two life-sized copies of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper are hung on opposing walls, one showing it before the major 1999 restoration, and one as it is today.

Visitors can pivot their view to observe changes in colour on the paintings in front of them. The true-to-scale copies are painted on ceramic tiles, which the Museum claims can maintain their colour and shape for over 2000 years.

The Museum offers visitors the ability to literally walk through the history of Western art’s greatest works. Other recreations include Vincent Van Gogh’s lost Six Sunflowers painting, which was destroyed in 1945 by US airstrikes on Tokyo. Art lovers can view paintings in a manner rendered impossible in real life.

As the world faces ongoing cultural heritage crises – from poverty, to war, to natural disaster – is the creation of copies the answer?

Increasingly sophisticated technology, including 3D printing, offers an alternative to traditional preservation techniques. However, while these new technologies may solve problems of accessibility to precious antiquities they also raise other problems of authenticity and trust.

The New Yorker recently profiled the work undertaken by the Factum Arte workshop in Madrid, which uses advanced 3D printing technology to recreate ancient artefacts that are being ravaged by time and modern life.

The head of the project, Adam Lowe, describes the new artefacts as “rematerialized” facsimiles. Notable projects include a full sized reproduction of King Tut’s burial chamber, built out of extraordinarily detailed scans. The original tomb is at risk of deterioration due to thousands of tourists breathing on ancient plaster, as well as possible excavations to uncover what could be Nefertiti’s tomb next door.

Despite these successes, there are objections to the practice of creating copies. Critical theorist Walter Benjamin famously argued that art loses its “aura” when it is reproduced: the impact an original artwork creates when it’s uniquely present in time and space vanishes as soon as copies are made.

A 5.5-metre recreation of the 1,800-year-old Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, Syria, is seen at Trafalgar Square in London in April, 2016. Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Yet ultimately, the transferral of art into a new medium and context allows entire new audiences to have a brand new – and possibly deeper – connection to our greatest treasures.

Anyone who has battled the crowds in front of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum or the mass of selfie sticks in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, will appreciate how Otsuka Museum affords the visitor the opportunity to experience a painting’s colours, composition and artistic impression.

Of course the experience of these “rematerialized” paintings and artefacts will be different from that of the original pieces. Tutankhamen’s replica tomb, while set near the original in Luxor, is missing the authentic musty smell of the ancient rooms. It also features a digitally restored panel destroyed when the tomb was originally opened.

Where is the harm?

But as long as the audience clearly understands that these are replicas, from the perspective of preserving cultural heritage, where is the harm in appreciating these objects in a new medium?

Visitors to the Otsuka Museum and Factum Arte are under no illusion that what they are viewing are originals. These are not fakes, as the attention grabbing headlines claim, but replicas and copies, the distinctive feature being a lack of intent to deceive. Honesty with your audience is of paramount importance.

The issue of restoration and conservation is historically fraught, and intensified now by various economic and cultural tensions. As noted in the New Yorker article, visiting Egypt right now is an unusual experience due to that country’s recent political upheavals. Aside from the chance to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World without battling hoards of tourists, the issues of preserving of the country’s cultural and archaeological assets are obvious.

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo has limited air-conditioning, with cracked showcases and storage units on display in the main exhibition spaces alongside many priceless relics. They are awaiting the new museum, which has been under construction for many years.

Ironically, the museum collection features a copy of one of the most important Ancient Egyptian artefacts, the Rosetta stone, with the original version found in the British Museum, over 2000 miles away.

In contrast, a different response to cultural heritage concerns can be seen in the vast temples at Abu Simbel. Originally carved into the side of a mountain over the Nile, the temples came under threat with the construction of the Aswan High dam in the 1960s. Under the supervision of UNESCO, the temples were cut out and moved 65m up and 210m northwest.

Tourists and visitors in 2014 queue outside the temple of Abu Simbel to see the dawn light up the temple’s inner sanctum to mark the anniversary of Pharaoh Ramses II’s coronation. The temple is angled so that the inner sanctum lights up twice a year: once on the anniversary of his rise to the throne and once on his birthday. Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

In this case what has been replicated is not the physical temples of Ramses II but the original location and authenticity of the experience as it was originally intended.

The move meant that the temple’s axis is no longer aligned as it was during Pharaonic Egypt. The structure was created so the sun lit up the statues inside the temple twice a year, on February 21 and October 21. The so-called “miracle of the sun” still occurs, just one day later.

Whilst there is no attempt to conceal the relocation, one cannot help ascribing perceived defects to the move. When did Ramses lose his beard? Was it dropped?

Jonathan Jones recently argued in The Guardian that we should leave the crumbling remnants of the Isis-ravaged Syrian town of Palmyra alone, and recognise that the destruction of this sacred site forms part of its history and newfound fame.

For Jones, the authenticity of Palmyra is its decay, not the “faked-up approximation” that a 3D printed version might offer visitors.

But we are constantly battling the push and pull of authenticity and heritage. While Jones may deride the inauthentic replication of Syrian archaeological sites, we must confront the issue of preserving our cultural heritage in manner that is accessible in the future.

When these remnants are no more than dust and rubble, would a future generation really rebuff a “rematerialized” 3D printed version? So long as the creation of a replica does no harm to authentic version, where is the problem in creating a coherent copy?

Demons, Exorcist, Jael, Research, University, Upcoming Projects, Writing

Purging daily demons: what’s behind the popularity of exorcisms?

At the moment I am working on a new book about a Melbourne Exorcist and I’m being inundated by surprisingly current research on the matter. The following is an article written by Joseph P. Laycock , Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Texas State University has written for the fantastic news site The Conversation.

It goes into some of the history and the current issues surrounding this controversial topic. While it focusses primarily on Catholic and Christian tradition I’d love to know about exorcism rites in other cultures, so if any one has any recommended reading please comment or answer this thread on Twitter.

Purging daily demons: what’s behind the popularity of exorcisms? November 30, 2015 6.02am EST

An exorcism being performed in Fafe, Portugal. Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuter

At Texas State University, I teach an honors course called “Demonology, Possession, and Exorcism.” It’s not a gut course. My students produce research papers on topics that range from the role of sleep paralysis in reports of demonic attacks to contemporary murder cases in which defendants have claimed supernatural forces compelled them to commit crimes.

In fact, talk of demons isn’t unusual in Texas. The first day of class, when we watched a clip of an alleged exorcism at an Austin Starbucks, many of my students said that they’d seen similar scenes in the towns where they’d grown up.

In 2014, an exorcism took place outside of a Starbucks in Austin, Texas.

A few students even admitted their parents were nervous that they’d signed up for the class. Maybe these parents worried their kids would become possessed, or that studying possession in the classroom might make demons seem less plausible. (Perhaps it was a mix of both.)

Either way, these parents aren’t a superstitious minority: a poll conducted in 2012 found that 57% of Americans believe in demonic possession. Nonetheless, demons (invisible, malevolent spirits) and exorcism (the techniques used to cast these spirits out of people, objects or places) are often thought of as relics of the past, beliefs and practices that are incompatible with modernity. It’s an assumption based in a sociological theory that dates back to the 19th century called the secularization narrative. Scholars such as Max Weber predicted that over time, science would inevitably supersede belief in “mysterious forces.”

But while the influence of institutionalized churches has waned, few sociologists today would claim that science is eliminating belief in the supernatural. In fact, in the 40 years since the blockbuster film The Exorcist premiered, belief in the demonic remains as popular as ever, with many churches scrambling to adapt.

Exorcism’s golden age

So why has exorcism made a comeback? It may be that belief in the demonic is cyclical.

Historian of religion David Frankfurter notes that conspiracy theories involving evil entities like demons and witches tend to flare up when local religious communities are confronted with outside forces such as globalization and modernity.

Attributing misfortune and social change to hidden evil forces, Frankfurter suggests, is a natural human reaction; the demonic provides a context that can make sense of unfamiliar or complex problems.

While Europeans practiced exorcism during the Middle Ages, the “golden age” of demonic paranoia took place in the early modern period. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands were killed in witch hunts and there were spectacular cases of possession, including entire convents of nuns.

A 1788 painting by Francisco Goya depicts Saint Francis performing an exorcism. Wikimedia Commons

The Protestant Reformation was a key contributor to these events. The resulting wars of religion devastated Europe’s population, creating a sense of apocalyptic anxiety. At the same time, exorcism became a way for the Catholic Church, and even some Protestant denominations, to demonstrate that their clergy wielded supernatural power over demons – something that their rivals lacked. In some cases, possessed people would even testify that rival churches were aligned with Satan.

But by the 19th century, medical experts such as Jean-Martin Charcot and his student Sigmund Freud had popularized the idea that the symptoms of demonic possession were actually caused by hysteria and neurosis. Exorcists came to be seen as unsophisticated people who lacked the education to understand mental illness – a view that made exorcism a liability for churches instead of an asset. This was especially true for American Catholics, who had long been disparaged by the Protestant majority as superstitious immigrants.

The Exorcist effect

By the time William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist was published in 1971, the secularization narrative had gone mainstream. In 1966, Time magazine had run its famous cover asking “Is God Dead?” In 1970, Gallup found that 75% of Americans claimed religion was losing influence – the highest percentage in the history of the poll, which was first conducted in 1957.

The April 6, 1966 issue of Time Magazine. Time

Blatty’s protagonist, Damien Karras, is a Jesuit psychiatrist-priest who has lost his faith. At the end of novel, Karras lies dying from his battle with the demon Pazuzu. He cannot speak, but his eyes are “filled with elation” – presumably because he now has positive proof that demons and, by extension, God, actually exist. Through the character of Father Karras, Blatty captured a widespread feeling of longing for the supernatural in a disenchanted age.

While the Jesuit-run magazine America panned The Exorcist as “sordid and sensationalistic,” Blatty proved that Americans were not dismissive of the idea of exorcism. In 1971 and 1972, the novel spent 55 weeks on The New York Times bestseller lists. The film adaptation grossed over US$66 million in its first year. In 1990, as part of homily given in New York City’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal John O’Connor even read from The Exorcist in order “to dramatize the reality of demonic power.”

A demonic renaissance

Today a significant segment of the population reports belief in demons.

According to a 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, 48% of Americans agreed or strongly agreed in the possibility of demonic possession. And in a Pew Research Survey conducted that same year, 68% of Americans said they believe in the presence of angels and demons.

While the surveys can’t reveal what exactly people mean when they say they “believe in demons,” it’s clear that these people don’t constitute a superstitious minority. Rather, they’re a normal part of today’s religious landscape.

People have historically used evil spirits to explain any number of misfortunes, whether its a physical illness or routine bad luck. But today, demons are frequently used to interpret contemporary political issues, such as abortion and gay rights. Since the 1970s, Protestant deliverance ministries have offered to “cure” gay teenagers by casting out demons. This practice now has corollaries in Islam – and even in Chinese holistic healing methods. When the state of Illinois legalized gay marriage in 2013, Bishop Thomas Paprocki held a public exorcism in protest. Politically, the bishop’s ritual served to frame changing social mores as a manifestation of demonic evil.

Similarly, Catholic exorcists in Mexico held a “magno exorcisto” in May 2015 aimed at purging the entire nation of demons. The mass exorcism was partly motivated by the drug wars that have devastated the country since 2006. But it was also in response to the legalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007.

During one Mexican exorcism, a demon (speaking through a possessed person) confessed that Mexico had once been a haven for demons. According to the four demons identified in the exorcism, hundreds of years ago, Aztecs had offered them human sacrifices; now, with the legalization of abortion, the sacrifices had resumed.

Divided over demons

In the Baylor Religion Survey, 53% of Catholics said they either agree or strongly agree in the possibility of demonic possession. Twenty-six percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, and the rest were undecided. Progressive Catholics still regard exorcism as an embarrassment, and there are also increasingly vocal atheists and skeptics eager to cite the practice of exorcism as an example of the absurdity of religion. But in countries like Italy and the Philippines, there is active demand for more Catholic exorcists.

Pope Francis blesses a boy in Rome. Tony Gentile/Reuters

Church authorities are keenly aware that if they do not provide the spiritual services these people need, Pentecostal deliverance ministries will. In the past, the Church had much more ability to tailor its message to its audience. But in an age of Twitter and cellphone cameras, an exorcism performed in one country will be witnessed by the entire world.

Pope Francis seems especially skillful at navigating the question of demons. While he has inspired progressive Catholics with his stances on climate change and social justice, he has also emphasized the reality of the devil. In 2014, the Congregation of Clergy formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists. This is a group of conservative priests that has existed outside the Curia since 1990, and has lobbied for recognizing and normalizing the practice of exorcism. Founding IAE member Gabriele Amorth has even attributed the group’s sudden success to Pope Francis.

Perhaps the greatest example of Francis’s demonological savvy occurred on May 13 2013, when he placed his hands on a young man in a wheelchair after celebrating mass in St Peter’s Square. (This young man was, in fact, the same Mexican parishioner believed to be possessed by four demons.) Video shows the boy heaving and slumping forward under Francis’s unusually long embrace.

To those who feel the Catholic Church ought to take exorcism seriously, this was a clear example of Francis performing a public exorcism. But to those who regard exorcism as a relic of the Dark Ages, Church authorities can plausibly claim that this was only a blessing, perhaps lasting just a little longer, due to the pontiff’s sincere compassion for the young man.

For a church with over a billion followers, it’s a tough – but necessary – balancing act.

 

 

 

 

 

Life, magic, Non-Fiction, University, World mythology

Theories on the Enduring Power of Myth

Myth is defined as being a traditional or sacred story, the latter essentially distinguishes “myth from other forms of narrative such as folktales, which are ordinarily secular and fictional,”[1] however whether or not these stories are universal or only culturally significant for their intended audience is debatable. Psychoanalytical studies of myth theorise that myths express unconscious desires or anxieties, or in Carl Jung’s case they are the result of a collective and inherited consciousness, whilst the Naturalists like Max Müller claim they are pre-scientific theories to explain natural phenomenon. Mythologists such as Geoffrey Kirk argue that  “all universal theories of myth are automatically wrong”[2] as the complexity of each myth differs and are made up of cultural symbols, traditions and charters of that people. Despite similar themes and archetypal characters, it is man’s desire to use story to answer larger truths that is the core of the universality of myth. It is through their retelling that keep these stories, myths and morals alive and relevant in today’s global society.

1922 --- Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist. Head and shoulders photo, 1922. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Carl Jung created his theory regarding myth through a method of proof focusing on archetypes or primordial images, found in the collective unconscious of humanity and accessed by dreams. His perspective was that “myths are essentially culturally elaborated representations of the contents of the human psyche”[3] which is why there are common characters and themes such as the Saviour Child and Devine Mother found throughout the world. Jung’s archetypes can be applied to a whole manner of story not just myth, his Hidden Saviour Child figure can be likened to Moses, Horus, Jesus as well as Sleeping Beauty, Harry Potter and Kal-El.

'Moses'_by_Michelangelo_JBU140            horus_nefertari_afterlife

Max_Muller Max Müller focussed his studies on attempting to “trace scientifically the development of human thought in terms of the artefacts of language, mythology and religion”[4] and theorised that people were inspired to write allegorical stories to explain natural phenomenon and create anthropomorphic personifications of these in the form of Gods. Müller’s studies could be used to explain why the Greeks had Zeus to create lightning just as the Norse had Thor. Universal theories on myth, while presenting an interesting study and view point, “can be negated by citing many obvious instances of myth that do not accord with the assigned origin or function.”[5]

Despite the similarities that can be drawn from various myths they are filled with symbology, social and religious charters and other codes of conduct which makes them all genuinely unique. Geoffrey Kirk’s research and deconstruction of myth reinforces the concept that myth cannot be defined in any universal way, citing that “the wide range of morphorical and functional variation…from practical charter type uses to responses to abstract dilemmas of human existence…suggests that the mental and psychic process of myth-formation are themselves diverse.”[6]

42-fightpatroklos“That myths are sacred means that all forms of religion incorporate myths of some kind”[7] and it is the interference of the Devine that separates mythology from other traditional stories. Each mythology incorporates God or Gods in some form or fashion, which is why despite The Iliad having every indicator of being a legend, it is through the squabbling Greek Pantheon that it is classed essentially as a myth. With Gods comes religion and these stories often provide insight and explanations to religious ceremony or charter through origin stories.Foster_Bible_Pictures_0062-1_The_Angel_of_Death_and_the_First_Passover For example, the final plague of the Angel of Death in Exodus is the root of the Jewish Tradition of Passover still celebrated today, and why only bones and fat were sacrificed to the Gods in ancient Greece that is explained in the story of Prometheus who tricked Zeus out of the best cuts. In both examples these myth stories explain the reason behind certain practices but without specific cultural knowledge a person not sharing that cultural background might never understand why such rituals are performed, thus reinforcing Kirk’s position on why universal theories of myth should be rejected. “Mythology constitutes stories, symbols and rituals that…together they construct the truths of a culture”[8] and therefore can’t be studied with the broad universal ideologies some scholars like to apply to them.

Elias_Lönnrot_portrait-2Myth is so culturally significant that it can be used as a vehicle to strengthen a people’s social customs and national identity in postmodern times. The Kalevala , a collection of epic mythology oral stories collected by Elias Lönnrot and published in 1835, became “a rally-flag for national aspirations, and its regarded as the ‘national epic’ by modern Finland.”[9] The Kalevala played an intrinsic part of the Finnish people regaining their cultural identity in the early 20th Century which contributed and finally led to their independence from Russian rule. These mythological tales spanning from Creation myths to the Christianisation of Finland inspired a Renaissance of music, literature and art helping to cement Finland’s social and cultural heart.display_image.php A strong example of a social charter found in this mythic poem is in Canto 22 Laments, where the Witch of the North, Louhi the Hag of Pohjola, is instructing her daughter on how to be a good wife to the Smith Ilmärinen, thus imparting the traditional women’s wisdom onto the young maidens who would have heard it recited.

Ancient Greek philosophers defined myth as mythos and from it came “oracles and the arts…while logos came science and mathematics. From mythos came intuitive narrations, from logos reasonable deliberations”[10] and it is through mythos that the larger and more ambiguous questions of life, such as why does man exist and where does inspiration come from, were studied and answered.

It is therefore a mistake to study myth with the eyes of an logos academic, as if myth were only an ancient construct of pre-scientific peoples, as “myths are compost”[11] from which new stories, interpretations, art and revelation can grow from. Myth composition is an evolutionary process that grew from oral storytelling and the defined artistic preferences of the performer. This inevitably resulted in inconsistent interpretations when writing down these mythic stories and collecting them in latter time, as seen with the conflicting Jahwistic and Priestly interpretations of story cycles like the Flood Myth in the Book of Genesis.

“Scholars agree that myth has meaning, yet there is no consensus on what that meaning might be,”[12] but one thing that is certain is that myth has the ability to appeal to readers from varying cultures and religious beliefs from all over the world.

4666eaf0b49411fa40b9f3aa7dfc162f“These stories have power”[13] because “myth is truth which is subjective, intuitive, cultural and grounded in faith.”[14] They have universal appeal and longevity because they are symbiotic in nature and it is through retelling of these stories that core truths are passed on through each generation; Cupid and Psyche begat Beauty and the Beast which begat Twilight respectively.

Despite the variations of culturally specific symbols or the possibility of these stories being a representation of a collective unconsciousness, myth represents “ways of making sense of universal matters…and exert more of an inspiration and influence than we think.” [15] “Stories are ways that we communicate important things”[16] as a human culture and society and it is through the universal vehicle of myth that man has always sought to answer the larger, often metaphysical, questions in life.

 

Footnotes

[1] Dundes, A., 1984. Sacred narrative, readings in the theory of myth. Univ of California Press.pg 1

[2] Kirk, Geoffrey S. 1977 Methodological Reflections on the Myth of Herakles. In Il Mito greco: atti del convegno internazionale (Urbino 7-12 maggio 1973), edited by B. Gentili and G. Paioni, 285-297.

[3] Walker, S., 2014. Jung and the Jungians on Myth. Routledge. pg 6

[4]  Stone, J. ed., 2003. The essential Max Müller: On language, mythology, and religion. Springer.pg2

[5] Kirk, G. and Dundes, A. (1984). On Defining Myths. In: G. Kirk, ed., Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth, 1st ed. University of California Press, p.54

[6] Kirk, G. and Dundes, A. (1984). Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth, p.55.

[7] Dundes, A., 1984. Sacred narrative, readings in the theory of myth pg1

[8] Pattanaik, D. (2006). Myth = Mithya. New Delhi: Penguin.pg16

[9] Lönnrot, E. and Bosley, K. (1989). The Kalevala. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pg8

[10] Pattanaik, D. (2006). Myth = Mithya. New Delhi: Penguin.pg1

[11] Gaiman, N., 1999. Reflections on Myth. Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, pp.75-84.

[12] Plant.I., Myth In the Ancient World, Palgrave MacMillan, South Yarra, 2012

pg 23

[13] Gaiman, N., 1999. Reflections on Myth.pg84

[14] Pattanaik, D. (2006). Myth = Mithya. pg1

[15] Warner, M, 2010. Managing monsters. Random House. pg3

[16] Brain Pickings. (2015). Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last. [online] 2016

Life, Novels, University, Upcoming Projects

Writing Catch Ups and What Nots

Hi Everyone

Long time no chat. I have had a crazy couple of weeks so I thought I’d drop in and debrief on all the stuff thats going on.

I feel bad for not being around so much but the good news is things are going to calm down (are listening Universe??).

I’ve wrapped up final assignments for the two university units that I’ve been working on for the last twelve weeks. Me trying to get this Bachelor done really cracks me up sometimes. I’ve really done my education ass about face so now I’m still trying to get a degree in Creative Writing finished when I have three books out and I’ve held a steady freelance writing job. I know all education is worth it but sometimes I fight and flail against the education system with frustration at it all. I’m studying an Ancient History unit next semester (only the one) so I’m hoping there will be less me shouting at the computer screen about how assigned books for a Romance genre are actually Literature and the how whoever wrote the lectures is extremely dismissive of genre fiction. Admittedly it was much worse when they tried to teach me about Speculative Fiction but sometimes I need to just shut the fuck up, play the game and try and get through it. The good news is I’ve only got three units left in my Major writing stream and the rest of my degree can be electives and I’ll find more interesting units to do. I really hate school sometimes.

Okay, next!

My partner spent a week in Hong Kong for work so I spent my week doing a writing challenge. I find ‘Middles’ of books can drag about if I don’t watch what I’m doing. After a full re-structure of my current work in progress, BLAISE, I was floundering a bit so a writing challenge was in order. I aimed to do 1000 words/ day for a week and my total ended up being over 11,000. I’m 900 words away for having my middling out of the way which is great news. Writing challenges help me push out all the voices saying ‘this is stupid no one is going to read this’ and ‘this makes no sense even to you’ and ‘you really should eat the rest of that chocolate in the fridge cos you ain’t no writer’ and just focus on the words. I know writing challenges are some peoples form of hell but every couple of months I need it and so does my writing. I’m happy with the way it’s pulling together and fingers crossed I don’t hate it by the end of it.

Next!

As a few Twitter posts have suggested (I do a lot more on Twitter than Facebook so make sure you come say hi @AmyKuivalainen) I have been working on final copy edits and covers and publishing what nots for the third Firebird Fairytales book – Rise of the Firebird. This is the final book in the trilogy, it’s massive but it’s also my favourite. I will make announcements when the process is a little bit further on and make you aware of release dates and all that jazz  *spirit fingers*

Next!

I’m in the process of changing publishers to Ingram. Amazon have been great but Ingram are published here in Melbourne and so shipping costs and product are much cheaper to produce. They have publishing houses all over the world so it should end up being cheaper for anyone chasing paperbacks. Their distribution is wider and even though its more work for me once its done I’m going to be stoked and you, the readers, will be better off.

Next!

I’ve got two series that I could launch after the Firebird Fairytales is wrapped up. One is an epic fantasy YA/New Adult series that I originally finished when I was 19 and have recently pulled to pieces and rebuilt to make it a real book, well two books because together its 180k words. There is a third spin off book that I will work on in the future.

The other series is a gothic fantasy romance series that I began in September last year. BLAISE is the second book of that series and it does feature a character we meet in the Firebird Fairytales. It isn’t a spin off series but it does happen after the events of Rise of the Firebird. It ties in a lot of Celtic history and mythology and could be read totally independently from Firebird.

Why am I telling you this? WELL. I’m struggling to decide where to go next because I’m still writing/ working on both. I had the Firebird Fairytales completely wrapped up before I launched book 1 and in doing that I could tie and foreshadow like crazy. I’m ultra conscious of continuity issues within other writers books (looking at YOU Sookie Stackhouse)  so I want to make sure that I make the right decisions.

I have this feeling when the time comes it will be a roll of a dice or Duke the Shepherd will decide for me.

Next!

I haven’t had a Free Stories for a while, the next one is over 8k words to make up for the time between drinks. It will be out soon but I’ll write another blog announcing it.

Next!

I started a new day job in March. It’s been really challenging and rewarding but new jobs always take it out of me so I’ve been a bit fatigued  but making my way back to where I need to be.

In conclusion with everything else going on the poor blog has been neglected but I’ve scaled back uni and pushed out some dead lines on other things so expect to see more of me.

Duke the Shepherd says Hi.

Amy xoFullSizeRender