Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 7 January – Chapter 19

unsplash-logoKazi Faiz Ahmed Jeem

Okay. This is the part where I admit that the calendar for the #RealTimeReading2018 (er, 2019?) of Shadow of Night confused me a bit — this chapter should have posted on 7 January, but I thought it was 12 January. That’s Chapter 20, and I am technically behind. Mea culpa.

Anyways. It’s time to meet Annie and Susanna and ask some big questions about Diana’s magic. Are you ready?

“I wish his good humor was more reliable. Matthew is mercurial these days. He’s possessive one moment and ignores me as if I were a piece of furniture the next.”

The etymology of the word “mercurial” indicates that it came into usage in the 14th century and derives form the Latin Mercurialis, “pertaining to the god Mercury, or having the form or qualities attributed to Mercury.” It means, “lively, volatile, or prone to quick changes of mood.” Interestingly, Diana’s modern use of the word to describe Matthew as “highly changeable” is slightly anachronistic — the English language apparently didn’t regularly apply the word to people until the 17th century.

Liquid mercury

Mercury (Hermes) was the messenger of the gods and the god of trade, merchants, commerce, roads, and thieves. Based on our enlightened and fascinating conversation about 16th century venereal diseases, you might recall that we used to treat all kinds of naughty-part nasty things with mercury (Hg). Mercury is highly mobile and very shiny and it takes its name from the planet Mercury, the fastest moving planet in the solar system. It’s highly toxic, but also really useful for its ability to conduct electricity. Would you like to know where we get mercury? Cinnabar. Hm. More on that later.

Mary and I had been deep in conversation about the images in a collection of alchemical texts known as the Pretiosa Margarita Novella — the New Pearl of Great Price.

Last summer, when we attended All Souls Con at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, I wish I’d known that they keep a copy of Pretiosa Margarita Novella in their rare book room. There are only six known complete manuscripts of this alchemical treatise surviving in the present day and, lucky for us, two of them are digitized: the Science History Institute copy and the copy belonging to the Getty Alchemy Collection.

The Pretiosa Margarita Novella presents arguments for and against alchemy and cites to a number of classical sources. If you wanted your own copy, you could purchase it from AbeBooks.com for $5,926.03 (used).

“An ancient specimen,” Henry said proudly. “It was among my curiosities, and I wanted you to have it. The intaglio is of the goddess Diana, you see.”

The All Souls Trilogy is rich with descriptions of the decorative arts–from furniture to portraits to jewelry–and Henry’s miniatures are no exception. We’ll skip the Hilliard bits, which we’ve already discussed, and move into a quick talk about intaglio jewelry. Intaglio refers to a decorative technique that is the opposite of cameo work — rather than creating a raised image on a decorative surface, the artist creates a recessed design, like a mold. Intaglio designs often appear on precious gems — they were a popular luxury art form in ancient times and experienced a renaissance during, well, the Renaissance.

Intaglio brooch from the Met Museum

The iconography of intaglio carvings often depicts gods, goddesses, and mythological scenes, so Henry’s Diana intaglio makes sense. There is a lovely example of a Diana intaglio in carnelian at The Jewellery Editor.

“I didn’t get the egg into the bowl, Mistress Norman,” I apologized. “The spells didn’t work.”

The still-wet chick set up a protest, one indignant peep after another.”


This is neither magical, nor directly on point, but I thought it was interesting — the “chicken and egg” causality dilemma first arose in Plutarch’s 1st century CE essay, “The Symposiacs.” The dilemma poses the question of origins and infinite sequences and has been solved, at least scientifically, by evolutionary biology. The answer is that the egg came first, laid by a not-quite-chicken. A dinosaur laid an egg that hatched a very ugly, toothy chicken. Then that toothy chicken laid another egg, which eventually laid its own eggs, and on and on. Forbes makes the following highly-philosophical point:

At what point did it become a chicken? It still isn’t a chicken, remember? There is no such thing as a chicken.

The eggs you buy at the store come from a small dinosaur that is still in the process of becoming what it will eventually become. It is the first of its kind. It is the last of its kind. Its children will not be chickens, any more than it is.

You heard it here, folks. There’s no such thing as a chicken. Only small dinosaurs capable of producing the base ingredient in custards, souffles, and omelettes.

If you like what we do, you can support us on Patreon to off-set our podcast hosting costs. You can also join our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers, or e-mail us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com. If you’re anxious for the premiere of A Discovery of Witches TV, please consider yourselves invited to our live tweet on 1/17 at 9pm. Use the hashtag #ccalchemy and make merry.

Until tomorrow, and Chapter 20,

xox
Cait

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Shadow of Night – Real-Time Reading – 24 December – Chapter 15

Kieran White

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.

Between 1520 and 1600, London nearly doubled in size. Tudor London began to take shape in 1529 when Henry VIII began the process of transforming Cardinal Wolsey’s York Place into the palace at Whitehall. This influenced the growth of both London and the City of Westminster. Despite the fact that the two cities are known collectively as “London,” they’ve never merged.

Hoefnagel’s Map of London circa 1570

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.”

As usual, Deb doesn’t do throwaway lines. In 1590, Christmas goose would have been a big deal in Elizabethan England — after her victory over the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth I declared that everyone should eat goose for Christmas dinner because she happened to be eating goose when she learned of the rout. In Tudor times, all work stopped between Christmas Day and Epiphany (or Twelfth Night). Workers returned to their labors on the Monday after Twelfth Night, known as Plough Monday.

People in the Tudor era took Christmas quite seriously — they enforced the “no work” rule by threading spinning wheels with flowers and kept a Yule log burning for the full twelve days of Christmas. The English carol tradition began during Tudor times — if you’ve sung “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “The First Noel,” or “Good King Wenceslas” this season, you’re keeping the tradition alive. You can find out more about Tudor Christmas traditions here.

“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.

The Tudors decorated their homes with evergreen foliage as a gesture of welcome and goodwill. If you’re inclined to do some last-minute decorating, English Heritage has a fun video on how to make a Tudor kissing bough:

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.

Merry merry, darlings!

xox

Cait

Schedule, TV Show News

A Discovery of Witches 1×01 Livetweet – 17 January 2019

Photo courtesy of Sundance Now

Y’all.

We’re a mere month away from the premiere of A Discovery of Witches TV in the U.S. and Canada. With only thirty days to go, we’re pleased to announce our inaugural C&C live tweet of ADOWTV 1×01 on 17 January 2019 at 9pm EST/6pm PST. We know you might have questions — this blog post is here to answer them.

What’s a live tweet?

A live tweet (LT) is a very fun and goofy way to enjoy a movie or an episode of television with your internet friends. At the same moment, we all press PLAY and watch the film together while supplying commentary and talking to one another via Twitter. It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s a great way to bond over the premiere together when we can’t be together in person. Consider it a long-distance watch party.

How do you participate?

All you have to do to participate in a LT is log on to Twitter and follow our hashtag, #ccalchemy. Every tweet tagged with #ccalchemy will appear together while we watch. Jen and I will monitor the hashtag and retweet our favorites so that everyone can benefit from your insights and excitement. That’s it. Tweet to us, tweet to each other, tweet using the hashtag, and we’ll find you. We’ll spend a delightful hour cackling and gushing over witches and vampires together — through the wonders of modern technology.

I can’t make the date and time you set. Will there be other chances to play along?

Absolutely! We just haven’t scheduled them yet. You can expect that we will live tweet all eight episodes of Season 1 — probably more than once — while we wait for Season 2. There’s free fun for everyone.

If you have other questions, feel free to e-mail us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com or tweet to us at @chamomilenclove. We can’t wait to see you on 17 January 2019.

Xoxo

Cait

Real Time Reading, Uncategorized

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 17 December – Chapter 13

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

I like being married,” I said drowsily.

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. 

Here are more, for fun:

Tonight was Saturnalia, the official beginning of the holiday season at the chateau. 

Saturnalia, which celebrates the agricultural god Saturn, traditionally fell on 17 December and lasted until the Julian solstice on 25 December. Celebrants observed Saturnalia much the way Deb depicts the holiday in Shadow of Night — feasting, dancing, gambling, singing, music, and gift-giving. There was also a strong tradition of role reversal — by some accounts, masters served their slaves, in others, slaves were allowed the rights and privileges of ordinary citizens

Hey, girl. You wanna play topsy-turvy? *wink wink*

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. 

If you’re looking to celebrate Saturnalia, take a page out of Philippe’s book — decorate outdoor trees with stars, suns, and moons, drape greenery over doors, windows, and people, and throw a party. If you can do so safely, cause a festive ruckus in your street and organize a parade. 

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.

The pre-Christian Scandinavian festival of Yule lasts for twelve days and celebrated the “re-birth” of the sun at the winter solstice. Yule celebrants lit bonfires, toasted trees, fields, and crops with wassail (spiced cider), and went between houses with pomanders and other fragrant gifts. The European pagan tradition also recognizes and celebrates Yule and gave us the Yule log — the burning of the log banished evil spirits and brought luck for the coming year. The pagan rituals also celebrate the return of the Oak King, who presides over the warmer half of the year, and the retreat of the Holly King, who rules in the dark winter months. 

If you’re interested in celebrating some Yuletide traditions in your own home, consider taking a solstice walk to gather a Yule log for burning in your hearth. You could create a Yule altar filled with “solar-related botanicals” such as cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. You could incorporate gratitude for the return of the sun in your meditation or yoga practice. Give the gift of seeds to those you love to celebrate the coming spring. If you’re feeling super festive, you might make something special, like this wassail, to share with your friends. If you’d like alcoholic wassail (*raises hand*), you might try this version. 

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 chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove.

Merry merry,

xoxo

Cait and Jen  

Podcast, Uncategorized

Episode 34 – Plot Goals

unsplash-logoDanny Pittoors

Happiest Sunday, darling Clovers!

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. 

Download the episode here. 

If you’d like to join the conversation, follow us on Twitter @chamomilenclove or email us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.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!

Love,

Cait and Jen