Thursday, 30 September 2010

Unable to find the words...

Empathy is a very interesting subject. I shall explore this in depth another time, but I think some people don't have it. Either they have it and don't understand it or they do have it and recognise it. Or even some recognise it's there but cannot think of it. I guess that sometimes happens. We don't always know how someone else is feeling or we'll be very clever at solving life's mysteries about why someone did this. Also I believe that empathy has been confused with sympathy and also with telepathy. It doesn't mean that those things are the same because they're not. At times people can't find the right words to describe something as intricate as emotions so they end up saying the wrong words. Is it out of pressure to say something? That's when it becomes misleading and this is when people fall out and argue. Always hear anyone complain "That isn't what I meant!" or others being defensive? It's not always (but in some cases it is) about them avoiding the issue. It could be because they didn't explain it very well as they couldn't find the appropriate words. Using words inicates that people are not able to combine their instincts and feelings well enough with complex language. For instance, people say "I love you" when they mean it or they do not. The human brain calculates and deducts the words to use. Some people have a talent.

People don't say what they mean. They act on it and they can't distinguish words and phrases. I've noticed that language is a tool and not an instinct otherwise there wouldn't be defined languages. We learn that as we grow up. Also languages change over lands and time. New words appear. New meanings to words disappear and alter. Certain swear words in the modern English language were once normal words but became twisted and fouled upon over the centuries. Things like that occur mainly because of disputes and warfare. A lot of well known profanities of the English language were, once upon a time, regular Anglo-Saxon words that became swear words since the Norman conquest.

In that sense, people will have a difficult time finding the words. They can't express verbally how they feel. People often go blank in situations. No one knows what to say to someone they don't know how to communicate with. This is a definate sign that either people haven't the ability to combine language and feeling or there are not enough words in the dictionary.

This is why we have problems knowing how the other half is thinking. Or why we feel upset when they don't talk. Some people may not want to because they cannot. It should be considered natural for this to happen instead of a negative moment.

Just quickly, I want to say a special goodbye to someone.

It came as a shock to me when I heard that you were sick. I didn't know. This made me feel quite sad but I assumed that you'll get better as I only hear stories of survivors. So far the only people I knew personally who has had this terminal illness, cancer, all died. Yet, others manage to pull through. I was very upset when my dad passed away many years ago, as he was unable to fight this illness anylonger. You attended the funeral and was good to me. You got on well with my partner. You're a family friend and I've known you since I was about seven years old. You used to be really nice to me when I was a child. Since leaving home I grew distant from relatives, and I suppose from my old friends including friends of the family, for reasons I won't go into. I recently discovered you passed away several weeks ago. Nobody ever told me that until the other day and it shocked me. I have been grieving. I sent your daughters "Sympathy" cards but they must be wondering why on earth I never contacted them before about this. That's because no one said anything to me about it. I live so far away from you all and I haven't seen them for years. I didn't know about it. So sorry I didn't make it to your funeral and I'm finding it impossible to describe how I feel. I'll remember you well, and I miss you.

For Steve, who was an old friend, passed away in August 2010.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Bad Apples

In fairytales and myths, there is a lot of mention about fruit, especially apples. In the fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves", the apple is poisonous. Earlier stories of Snow White had her die of poisoning and not woken from a coma by a prince. The Grimm brothers sugarised the tale for the wider public. The apple is the cause of her death. In this favourite story, we all know why. The apple itself was dipped in a pot of poison by the wicked queen, who was stepmother to Snow White. The queen had always been vain and ever since she discovered that Snow White was fairer, she wanted to be rid of her. This story is an age old tale of the jealous older woman who feels threatened by the innocence and beauty of a younger maiden, for she's worried about being replaced in some way or other. Feminists that write books sympathise with the stepmother queen and fiction has retold this fairytale where the queen is a misunderstood matriarch who secretly IS the natural mother to Snow White, but became twisted and filled with inner conflict, blaming her own child's development for her own insecurities. I don't quite understand where this all originated from, and if anyone knows this then forgive me for explaining what I believe to be distortions of human psychology.

I believe that this story centres around the apple, the fruit of the earth, and giver of health and healing. This apple in the fairytale is corrupted and deadly though. My take on Snow White is this: the queen is a symbol of the Earth, or nature itself, as nature can be deadly and can take life. The earth gives life, sustains it, nurtures, heals, encourages and inspires. However, the earth, in another moment, can rise up suddenly and furiously and destroys all. The queen wanted a child, gave forth a beautiful daughter, and when the child grows up to womanhood, the force of nature within the queen goes on the attack. But why? Could it be that nature is seen to burdenise women everywhere with pain and physical hardship: menstrual periods and childbirth. These things cause women to have iron deficiencies as the blood loss contributes to the lowering of vital minerals.

The popular English saying: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is said amongst families even today as apples are, basically, medicinal and have good properties. They offer Vitamin C and can also keep us smiling (although others like myself don't like apples in its raw form, I prefer apple ingrediants in meals). Too much apples, however, isn't necessary. Fruits are IMO a naturally grown medicine and should be eaten in small quantities, not eaten excessively. Too much fruit can result in: "dental decay, osteoporosis, wasting of muscle tissue, inability to maintain a healthy weight, chronic fatigue, skin problems, thinning hair, weakening nails, and excessive irritability." Too much fruit is bad for you health  

Also a recent campaign to get everyone to eat "5 a day" fruit and veggies supposedly reduced cancer. Does it? What about people who don't like eating fruit or vegetables because of the acid and the nasty taste? I suppose not one person can really answer that because most people love fruits and like vegetables apart from myself, as I have a diet plan of my own and cook specific foods such as meat, fish, dairy and bread. In the fairy tale of Snow White, a single apple killed her. The 11th Century poet Skald referred to an apple as "Apples of Hel" meaning fruit of the dead. Apples are basically an introduction to Europe from Asia and those that grew all over in Europe, especially in the north and the British Isles, tasted sour and rotted quickly. Within ancient myths in Europe developed apple legends, such as the Golden Apples of the goddesses and their gardens, the apples of immortality and youth. Some people have Oral Allergy Syndrome

Because of the small chance for a more severe reaction, avoidance of the fresh fruits or vegetables is advised. Many people already avoid the suspect foods since the symptoms are uncomfortable. Usually, the fruits and vegetables are tolerated in cooked, baked and processed forms.
Apple seeds are also poisonous. Bad Seed 

"Five-a-Day" questioned

The artwork is "Apples Kiss" by Azurelle

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

My beloved berserker

In ancient times, particularly in the North, women daydreamed of being married to warriors. Fierce warriors, such as Vikings. Some women probably sat in their chambers sewing or getting ready for sleep in bed, and thought of such ferocious men. These warriors captivated the hearts of women in many places. Saxon women were at the mercy of angry warlike Norsemen who came upon these English shores. The Viking raiders had their way with the local women. Down in the centuries, women continued to think of this subconsiously. Whenever I see an image of a Viking longship, what conjurs up for me is a group of very dangerous warriors called Berserkers.

Some know who they were. Others don't know and for that I'll offer a description. Berserkers were ancient Norse warriors who wore the pelt of beasts such as bears and wolves, and took on the animal rage in battle.

"The berserker, too, was often said to change into bestial form, or at least to assume the ferocious qualities of the wolf or bear."

The berserker's place in society was limited by the terror and violence that was associated with berserkergang. As superb warriors, they were due admiration. However, their tendency to turn indiscriminately upon their friends while the madness was upon them went squarely against the heroic ethic, which demanded loyalty and fidelity to one's friends. The berserk skirted the classification of niðingr, one who was the lowest of men and the object of hate and scorn. An eleventh-century monument raised in Soderby in Uppland, Sweden in memory of a brother reads: "And Sassur killed him and did the deed of a niðingr --- he betrayed his comrade" (Foote and Wilson, p. 426).
(Source: Viking Anwser Lady - link shown below).

Read more details about the Berserkers here:
Viking Answer Lady: Berserkers 

I have a copy of the erotic romance "The Outlaw Viking" by Sandra Hill. It's about a woman transported into the Dark Ages where she encounters a rugged berserker warrior. Have a look at the title: The Outlaw Viking

The berserkers had a reputation of being able to transform into either wolves or bears. Perhaps there was some near truth to it as they certainly adorned themselves in animal pelts. They were said to become very savage in battle, and much feared by their enemy during their berserker rage. I can picture them. Raging, blood thirsty warriors, skilled in their fighting, who looked like powerful men with muscles, long hair, and also very uncouth when they're at their normal state. This makes some women tremble with a feeling so deep and so dark that it manifests in the things we imagine or create. For others, the berserker reminds most people of either good or bad things. People think of berserkers as savage Norsemen. There are werewolf stories that come from the historic memories of berserkers, and perhaps berserkers themselves were therianthropes? They were definately red-blooded and furious tempered. They loved it. I demand MORE Viking/berserker warrior literature, especially in the romantic genre and also romantic viking films.

Úlfhéðinn (plural Úlfhéðnar) is an Old Norse term for a warrior with attributes parallel to those of a berserker, but with a lupine aspect rather than ursine; both terms refer to a special type of warrior capable of performing feats far beyond the abilities of normal people. Historically, this was attributed to possession by the spirit of an animal. Úlfhéðnar are mentioned in Vatnsdœla saga, Haraldskvæði and the Völsunga saga. The Ulfhednar were said to wear the pelt of a wolf upon their heads when they entered battle, similar to the berserkers use of bear pelts. Source
Interesting links and information about the berserkers:
Wikipedia: Berserkers
Viking Answer Lady
Therianthropes: Berserkers

Berserker and Viking romance authors:
Sandra Hill
Sara Bennett
Catherine Coulter
Helen Kirkman
Johanna Lindsey

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Howling

I've just finished reading the novel "The Howling" by Gary Brandner. This was made into a film and eventually a series of "Howling" films. This blog has never done any book reviews yet or reviews of anything so this post is my first attempt at it.

I found this book very gripping. Although I'm familiar to the film that was made after this book was originally published, I do find that books include things that are left out in films. There are differences here and there to the characters and storyline.

This plot is eerie. I couldn't put the book down. The story begins with a tragedy, set in the Arda Forest in 1583. Mysterious deaths are pinpointed to an entire village. Then the story moves fast forward to the 1970's California. A young married couple, Roy and Karyn, have their perfect lives in suburbia turned upside-down when an intruder comes along to destroy it. After the attack, Karyn becomes traumatised and is persuaded to take some time out in the countryside. Her husband Roy invests in doing up a holiday home in the centre of a forest, and they both leave the city to get away from their troubles. Now where they move to is isolated and shadowy, with a very small community nearby. An unfriendly sheriff is the first person they encounter there. As they both settle in and get to know a couple of shop keepers, more things don't make sense. First of all Karyn wakes up to the sound of howling at night. Then their pet dog vanishes outside. Then Karyn is wondering what has become of her husband, who started behaving oddly since they got there because he was enchanted by the place. Things unfold and it becomes very tense and creepy.

The book was well written and it was almost poetic in style. In the novel are also some references to actual werewolf reports that went on throughout history. A particular book was mentioned called "The Book of Werewolves" by Sabine Baring-Gould and I happen to own that book.

"The Howling" movie cast and characters are slightly different though. Some of the names are changed and the plot isn't exactly true to the book although another film titled "The Howling: The Original Nightmare" was closer to the book. The book is serious and yet the film version is tongue-in-cheek but it was atmospheric and entertaining enough to want to see it again. I think Hollywood should do a remake of "The Howling". Oh btw yes "The Howling Reborn" is in the making right now.       

Gary Brandner
The Howling