Matthew and Diana’s return to England causes a bit of a ruckus in the calendar — we’re actually going to return to London and celebrate Christmas Eve in 1590 (Chapter 15) before we spend Christmas with Ysabeau, Sarah, and Em in the present day (Chapter 14).
I had never imagined that Old St. Paul’s would be so big. I gave myself another pinch. I had been administering them since spotting the Tower (it, too, looked enormous without skyscrapers all around) and London Bridge (which functioned as a suspended shopping mall). Many sights and sounds had impressed me since our arrival in the past, but nothing had taken my breath away like my first glimpses of London.
As Deb notes in both the Real-Time Reading Companion and The World of All Souls, modern London an Elizabethan London are two very different creatures.
Diana and Matthew arrive in London a mere two and a half decades after an outbreak of the plague in 1664 and the Great Fire of 1666. The Great Fire burned for three days and destroyed some five-sixths of the City. The fire began in the King’s bakery near the London Bridge and swept through a city that was unusually dry after a very hot summer. The city began to re-build almost immediately — Sir Christopher Wren submitted “ambitious” plans to Charles II that would have widened London’s streets and made London look more like Paris. Many of his plans were never realized, in part because Londoners insisted on keeping the original sites of their homes and businesses and partially because his ideas were rather expensive. Wren was eventually responsible for the construction of approximately 50 new churches, including the grand new design of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
“At last,” Henry Percy appeared, beaming. “We’ve been waiting for hours. My good lady mother sent you a goose. She heard reports that no fowl are to be had in the city and became alarmed that you would go hungry.”
“Is this your doing, Henry?” I looked from the entrance hall into our main living quarters. Someone had tucked holly, ivy, and fir around the fireplace and the window frames and mounded them in the center of an oak table.
Jen and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve with your loved ones. We’ll see you again tomorrow for a (brief) Christmas entry to celebrate the preview of A Discovery of Witches TV on Sundance and Shudder. We can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Episodes 1 and 2 on our Twitter feed or via our Facebook group.
Diana and Matthew spend the first ten days of their THIRD AND MOST EFFECTIVE MARRIAGE in a sort of honeymoon. The “honeymoon” apparently originated in Britain as a way of visiting relatives and friends who couldn’t make it to your actual ceremony. The word “honeymoon” may refer to an old tradition (5th century or earlier) of drinking honeyed wine a month after your wedding to aid in conception. In the absence of contraceptives, that gesture seems a bit… belated.
In some cultures, the honeymoon period refers to the time between when grooms kidnapped and captured their brides and (1) the point at which the bride became pregnant and couldn’t be returned to her family, or (2) the point at which the family gave up hope of finding her. As this tradition appears to be vaguely Norse in origin, we should probably have a long talk with Gallowglass. For the record, this also makes a great deal of sense considering the real reason why bridesmaids all wear the same dress — to act as decoys for the real bride. Your only job as a bridesmaid is either to distract would-be kidnappers from the actual bride or lure evil spirits. Your call.
There are hundreds of Auvergnat euphemisms for making love, but I don’t believe that’s one of them. I’ll ask Chef if he’s familiar with it.”
While I couldn’t find any Auvergnat euphemisms in particular, I figured I would favor you with a few very saucy French ones. Allons-y.
Faire boum boum – Literally, to make the boom boom. As in, naughty time so loud you can hear it.
S’envoyer en l’air – “To be sent into the air” – casual, no-strings-attached whoopie.
Avoir du monde au balcon – Er, “to have people on the balcony.” It means that your lady-friend fills out her top.
Tremper son biscuit – “To dip the biscuit” – a person who likes to get naughty with everyone.
It’s no coincidence that the Christian feast of Christmas falls on 25 December: as the Bible does not give a particular date for celebrating the birth of Christ, churches settled on combining the Christmas celebration with that of Saturnalia somewhere in the 4th century C.E. Pope Julius I apparently believed that combining celebrations would encourage more converts to Christianity.
The clock was unlike any I’d ever seen before. A carved and gilded cabinet surrounded a water barrel. A long copper pipe stretched up from the barrel and dropped water into the hull of a splendid model ship suspended by a rope wound around a cylinder.
In the Real-Time Reading Companion, Deb indicates that Philippe’s clock is the missing water clock of mathematician and cartographer Oronce Fine. The water clock, or clepsydra, dates back to 1500 BCE. Sadly, I couldn’t find an image of a water clock from the same era, but you can read about the evolution and function of water clocks here.
Friday marked the shortest day of the year and the celebration of Yule.
We covered this chapter of Shadow of Night in Episode 25 – Partyfamilias. Until next time, we hope that you and your loved ones celebrate a healthy and happy Saturnalia, a blessed solstice, and a merry Yule. Feel free to join our Facebook group, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove.
It’s our second-to-last episode of the year and only THREE EPISODES AWAY from the release of A Discovery of Witches TV on Sundance Now and Shudder on 17 January 2019. We’ve got lots of fun activities planned to celebrate the premiere, so keep your eyes on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates.
In the meantime, it’s time to run from the court of Rudolf like our hair’s on fire. In Episode 34, we discover the True Secret of Secrets, fight our way out of Prague, and accomplish rather a lot. Join us as we discuss denouements, antagonists, epigraphs, and Jen’s rather cheeky summary of the action in Section IV of Shadow of Night.
If you’d like to join the conversation, follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove or email us at email@example.com. You can also find us on Facebook as Chamomile & Clove – An All Souls Podcast or join our Facebook group, The Chamomile & Clove Clovers. We can’t wait to hear from you!
If you’re so inclined, Food52 has suggestions for a medieval dinner party prepared in a modern kitchen: chickpea stew, roast chicken, garlic confit, roasted potatoes, and an almond cake. You can also find a rather extensive list of medieval recipes here. I wish you particular luck with the dish called “Garbage.”
Artemis Agrotere, renowned huntress, Alcides Leontothymos beseeches you to hold this child Diana in your hand. Artemis Lykeie, lady of the wolves, protect her in every way. Artemis Patroia, goddess of my ancestors, bless her with children so that my lineage continues. Artemis Phosphoros, bring the light of your wisdom when she is in darkness. Artemis Upis, watch over your namesake during her journey in this world.”
In his incantation, Philippe refers to a number of “epithets” of Artemis. Epithets could be used for literary or ritualistic emphasis to identify the deity (or the aspect of the deity) to whom one prayed.
At the height of the classical period, one could find those worshiping Greek deities from Spain to Afghanistan. Without a standardized image of a deity and without established worship practices, the various cults of Greek gods and goddesses developed different forms of address that reflected both the desire to avoid addressing the divine directly (HEY DEMETER, ARE YOU LISTENING? v. “I beseech you, great lady of the hearth.”).
Philippe’s incantation lists several of Artemis’s epithets, but there are dozens of others, including:
Brauronia – protector and keeper of girls
Parthenos – “virgin”
Hegemone – ruler of nymphs
Limenia – protector of harbors
Limnatis – goddess of transition, goddess of the marsh
Lokhea, Genetyllis – protector of women in childbirth
Aeginaea – wielder of the javelin
Coryphaea – goddess who inhabits the summit of the mountain
Daphnaea – “of the laurel”
Heurippe – finder of horses
See here and here. There is a Roman temple near Clermont-Ferrand in France that may have served as the inspiration for Philippe’s temple in Shadow of Night.
A hero with dark hair and green eyes named Peleus left his home to seek his fortune.”
As we discussed in Episode 25 – Partyfamilias, Philippe uses the wedding banquet as an opportunity to tell the story of Peleus and Thetis, the sea nymph, parents of Achilles. The myth of Peleus and Thetis is a complicated one, but it’s useful to know that their wedding is the one that started the Trojan War. P&T failed to invite Eris, goddess of strife, to the wedding and so she sent the golden apple inscribed with the words, “To the fairest.” Chaos ensued. Many died.
The part we haven’t talked about yet is the potential connection between Philippe — Alcides Leontothymus, or maybe Heracles–and Peleus. See, Peleus was a friend of Heracles who served with the great hero in his expedition against the Amazons. Philippe sings the invocation to the heroes from Catullus at Matthew and Diana’s wedding banquet. Catullus wrote that the Fates sang a magic song–this magic song–at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, much as Philippe does for Matthew and Diana.
To be fair to Marie, La Robe (I thought of my ensemble only in French, and always in capitals) was spectacular,
Marriages take place at the church door to avoid bloody disputes later over whether or not the ceremony took place as reported. We can thank God there isn’t a blizzard.”
Matthew’s correct — medieval marriages often happened outside to ensure multiple witnesses. In an era where most marriages took place for financial or political reasons, everyone had a rather vested interest in legitimacy — both of the marriage and of any offspring who resulted from the match. This is odd, I think for a period of history in which it was relatively easy to get married by accident. This is the plot of several Hallmark movies and Lauren Willig’s Deception of the Emerald Ring (good fun, would recommend).
To my great surprise, Medieval Times (yes, THAT Medieval Times) has a reasonably-sized article on medieval marriage ceremonies. Around the internet, you can find a wealth of trivia regarding medieval weddings — did you know, for example, that the tradition of throwing the garter (which I detest) comes from the Middle Ages? People used to bundle the bride and groom forcibly into bed and then rip off bits of their clothes as tokens. The garter is a convenient way to do that without, you know, committing assault. Tiered wedding cakes also appear to come from the medieval period, when guests of the bride and groom would bring tiny cakes to stack on top of one another as a part of the marriage feast.
We’ll catch up to Matthew and Diana on 17 December at the end of their honeymoon. In the meantime, feel free to join us in our Facebook group, the Chamomile and Clove Clovers, or follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello, dear ones. Because this chapter contains SO MUCH PLOT, there aren’t too many Easter eggs for us to play with during the Real-Time Reading. Accordingly, enjoy this short entry and then re-read this phenomenal chapter to catch up with Matthew and Diana before THE WEDDING. You know you want to.
Don’t consider painful what’s good for you,” Matthew muttered.
“I never should have taught you Greek — or English either. Your knowledge of them has caused me no end of trouble,” Philippe replied, unperturbed.
Throughout the early part of the hay barn episode, Matthew and Philippe trade quotes attributed to Euripedes — the great Greek tragedian, author of Medea, The Trojan Women, Heracles, etc. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, his plays constitute the foundation of a classical education. Euripedes was famous for both his pragmatic approach to divine characters and his tendency to paint mythic heroes and heroines as ordinary, flawed human beings.
Try as I might, I couldn’t find a solid attribution for two of the three quotes (“Don’t consider painful what’s good for you” and “those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad”). They’re both attributed to Euripedes, but there’s nothing like them in the surviving texts of his plays and the internet let me down rather spectacularly when it came to trying to find them in their original form. If we have classicist Clovers with a penchant for Greek tragedy who can help me out, I’d be in their debt.
The last quote — “Neither earth nor ocean produces a creature as savage and monstrous as woman” — comes from the play Hecuba, which tells the tale of the Trojan queen after the end of the war with the Greeks. In the play, Hecuba vows to avenge the murder of her children, Polyxena and Polydorus. She takes her revenge by murdering the children of King Polymestor, who was to protect Polydorus, and by stabbing Polymestor himself in the eyes.
Hecuba, like most of Euripedes other work, is exactly no fun. Described as a story of “unmitigated hopelessness,” the story ends as it began — with anguish, bloodshed, mourning, and cursing the gods who predestined such terrible fates for mortals.
Matthew is in a blood rage. We manjasang are closer to nature than other creatures — pure predators, no matter how many languages we speak or what clothes we wear. This is the wolf in him trying to free himself so that he can kill.
In the Real-Time Reading Companion, Deb writes that the song she has in mind for this moment is Damien Rice’s “Volcano.”
Philippe’s thumb returned to the place where he began, and he made a mirror image of the mark on the other side, finishing between my brows. My witch’s third eye tingled with the cool sensation of vampire blood.
Amazingly, I don’t think we covered the third eye in our RTR of A Discovery of Witches. In some spiritual traditions, the third eye refers to the ajna or brow chakra. Associated with religious visions and out-of-body experiences, the third eye is associated with heightened consciousness and intuition. Should you be interested in experimenting with yours, the White Witch Parlor offers Ten Ways to Activate Your Third Eye. Let me know how it goes, will you?
The next day was the Feast of St. Nicholas, and the sun shone on the snow.
December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra, a Turkish saint whose legend transformed over the centuries into the myth of Santa Claus. December 6 marks the beginning of Advent, the period of the Catholic liturgical year leading up to the celebration of Christmas on December 25.
Saint Nicholas (or Nicholas of Bari) is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, pawnbrokers, and students in Europe. He is also the patron saint of Russia and Greece and figures prominently in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. After Nicholas died, Italian merchants stole his bones and moved his relics from Myra, Turkey, to Bari, Italy. He is celebrated and remembered as a bringer of gifts, particularly to children. In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas is called Sinterklaas — a benevolent saint who fills the shoes of good children with sweets on his feast day. The Dutch brought Sinterklaas to New Amsterdam in the 1700s, where he became Santa Claus. The association between Saint Nicholas and the Christmas holiday did not begin until well into the 19th century.
Saint Nicholas Day celebrations vary widely from country to country. In Holland, people still put out shoes to receive small gifts and candies. In France, people may enjoy a traditional meal of pork, mustard, and apples. In Eastern Europe, Saint Nicholas is often accompanied by the Krampus, a half-man, half-goat figure who punishes children who misbehave.
The air felt full, tingling with an almost electrical current. I half expected to hear a rumble of thunder, the atmosphere was so thick. Peter Knox had been mentally invasive, and Satu had inflicted great pain at La Pierre, but this witch was different and somehow more dangerous
In the Real-Time Reading Companion, Deb offers “The Wizard” by Bat for Lashes as the soundtrack to this scene.
We’ll pick up with Chapter 12 on 8 December and attend our favorite wedding.
If you have thoughts or feelings on the Real-Time Reading, please feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com, or follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove. You can also find like-minded Clovers on our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers. See you at the wedding!