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Book Review The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

The Queen's Poisoner (Kingfountain, #1)The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler was a delightful read. For the most part, it is told from the perspective of an eight-year old boy, Owen, who is taken as a hostage by the brutal King Severn Argentine. Owen’s life is under constant threat because his father, Duke of Kiskaddon, tried to overthrow the king and must now demonstrate his utmost loyalty to Severn or forfeit his family’s lives. At the beginning of the story, Owen is very timid and afraid, and can hardly utter a word. However, a motherly young woman, the Queen’s poisoner, befriends Owen and teaches him how to survive, to gain the trust of the king and to discern the true nature of friends. Another precocious princess also befriends Owen and shows him how to be courageous. Through the influence of the young woman and princess, Owen gains courage and learns how to use the magic of the KingFountain to control his destiny. The book would be suitable for young adults, as the theme on how to discern trustworthiness and to gain courage is explored. The characters are well developed. I especially love how the female characters, who not only give Owen the love he needs, but give him valuable lessons on how to bravely deal with the king. I highly recommend this book.The Queen’s Poisoner

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Apollo’s Raven Coming Soon

Apollo's Raven Book Cover, Historical Fiction / Fantasy; An Epic Celtic Tale of Love, Magic, Adventure, Intrigue, and Betrayal in Ancient Rome and Britannia

APOLLO’S RAVEN on the Horizon

New exciting changes are on the horizon for the APOLLO’S RAVEN series and a new website. In the next few weeks, the current website will transition to an author website in anticipation for the release of the first book, APOLLO’S RAVEN.

Two blogs entitled, APOLLO’S RAVEN, will be combined into one blog on the new website. Topics will include my research and travels to sites described in the books, author interviews, and other topics of interest to readers. The new site will provide latest news on the release of books, events that I will be attending, and a reader’s guide that can be used in book clubs.

My journey for writing the APOLLO’S RAVEN series began in 2010. My blog went live on January 4th, 2012. I’ve met wonderful authors, writers, friends, and readers who have been very supportive. The photographs of the Celtic Warrior Princess Catrin which inspired me were taken by my friend and photographer, Rebekah West.

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

Celtic Warrior Princess Catrin

I’ve also met roadblocks. But constructive feedback from authors, writers and agents prompted me to re-envision the APOLLO’S RAVEN series as historical fiction / fantasy.

Overview White Cliffs Britain

White Cliffs Southeast Britannia

The first book of the series is set in 24 AD Britannia, where the magical world of the Celtic tribal kingdoms is explored. The historical backdrop of the epic story is based on new archaeological findings that strongly suggest that Rome not only had strong political influence, but also a military presence in southeast Britannia. The political situation is similar to Egypt under the rule of Cleopatra.

APOLLO’S RAVEN will ultimately be available in print, e-book, and audio format. It has now been formatted for print and is undergoing final proofing. The release date will be announced soon after the new website goes live the next couple of weeks.

I invite you to take an adventure into the vastly different worlds of Ancient Rome and Britannia, where Celtic tales are inspired.

What happens when forbidden love and loyalty create a tangled web of deception?

The Celtic Warrior Princess Catrin is swept into a political web of deception when the Emperor Tiberius demands allegiance from her father, King Amren.

Celtic Woman Warrior Prepares for Battle

Celtic Warrior Princess Catrin

Catrin is drawn by the magnetic pull she feels for Marcellus, the great-grandson of Mark Antony, who is caught under the shadow of his scandalous forefathers. When King Amren takes Marcellus as a hostage, he demands that she spy on him. As she falls in love, she discovers a curse that foretells a future she desperately wants to break.

Torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and loyalty to her people, Caitlin urgently calls upon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that awaits her.

Celtic Woman Warrior Summons Raven Spirit

Catrin Summons Magic of Ancient Druids

Will she save her lover? Will her father succumb to the Emperor? Discover the truth in APOLLO’S RAVEN, an epic Celtic tale of love, magic, adventure, intrigue and betrayal in Ancient Rome and Britannia.

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Celtic Woman Warrior with Sword

Ancient Celtic Religion: Ancestral Gods and Goddesses

Myths of the Great Goddess teach compassion for all living beings. There you come to appreciate the real sanctity of the earth itself, because it is the body of the Goddess—Joseph Campbell

Introduction

As we continue exploring the mystique of the Ancient Celtic religion, we discover their beliefs have similarities to the Greeks and Hindu Brahmins. The belief in the immortal soul can be tied to the darker Celtic side of keeping enemy heads so they can capture their power. There were 374 names of gods and goddesses recorded throughout the vast area once inhabited by the Celts in Europe, from Ireland to Turkey. Of these names, about 305 of these only occurred once and are thought to be names of local deities particular to each tribe. Only twenty names occur with great frequency in the areas where the Celts once resided and were often associated with the Roman pantheon of deities.

Unfortunately, written accounts by the Celts were sparse. Today, we must rely on Greek and Roman writers, Irish Christian monks, and archaeological artifacts to piece the Ancient Celtic religion together. Classical writers were biased by their perception of Celts being barbarians. Celtic myths written by Christian monks were heavily redacted to reconcile them with the Christian beliefs. Even though the evidence is fragmentary, we can glimpse some of the religious ideas and rituals connected with the pantheon of Celtic deities and their roles by studying the mythology and comparing it to archaeological evidence.

Below is an overview of how the ancient Celts viewed their ancestral god and their belief that the Mother Goddess was involved in the creation of the universe.

Collapse White Cliffs Wall Britain

Coastal White Cliffs Near Dover, Britain


Ancient Celtic Religion

Celtic Ancestral Gods

Caesar and the insular literature indicate the Celts did not look upon their gods as creators but as their ancestors—more as supernatural heroes and heroines. In the lives of these gods and heroes, goddesses, and heroines, the lives of the people, in their emerging patriarchal society and the essence of their religious traditions, were mirrored. The gods and goddesses were depicted as human and were subject to all the natural virtues and vices in an idealized form: love of nature, arts, games, feasts, hunts and heroic single-handed combat. Their intellectual powers were equal to their physical abilities. This depiction of gods as ancestors also appears in Hindu myth and saga.

Panel on Gundstrup Cauldron

Cernunnos, Antler-God of the Forest, Portrayed on Panel of Gundestrup Cauldron

Pomponius Mela, a Roman historian at the time of Claudius 43 AD, states, “The Druids profess to know the will of the gods.” Hence, the Druids were viewed as the conduits between the moral and immortal world. There is an old Irish passage in which the Druids, like the Hindu Brahmins, boasted they had made the sun, moon, earth and sea. In Vedic mythology (historical predecessor to modern Hinduism), creation began with space (aditi) in which sky and earth were formed and were regarded as the original male and female elements.

Lunar Eclipse

Blood Moon


Mother Goddess

The ancient Irish bards deemed the river’s edge, the brink of the water, was always that place where wisdom, knowledge and poetry were revealed. Irish tales suggest the Ancient Celts believed creation evolved around the Mother Goddess.

Rhône River Hillside

Saône River Hillside Near Lyon, France

In one tale, the children of the Mother Goddess, Danu, arrive in Ireland to battle the evil Fomorri, whose own Mother Goddess is Domnu. The Irish epic tells of several struggles between the Children of Domnu, representing darkness and evil, and the Children of Danu, representing light and good. Only after the Children of Danu break the powers of the Fomorri at the second Battle of Magh Euireadh did the good gods prevail. Interestingly, the Children of Domnu are never completely overcome or eradicated from the world.

The Children of Danu came from four fabulous cities where named Druids taught them skill, knowledge and perfect wisdom. Further, the Children of Danu brought special treasures from these cities:

  • Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) from Falias
  • Sword from Gorias (the forerunner of the famous Excalibur)
  • Spear of victory from Finias
  • The Dagda’s cauldron of plenty from Murias
Celtic Cauldon Gundstrup

Gundestrup Cauldron

The Dagda is portrayed as the father of the gods in this epic tale. This is significant because The Dagda is Danu’s son by Bilé. As the sacred waters leave from the heavens, Danu waters the oak, Bilé’s male fertility symbol, and gives birth to The Dagda—the good god who fathers the rest of the gods.

Dagda Gundestrup cauldron

The Dagda Portrayed on Gundestrup Cauldron

Bilé is the Old Irish word for a sacred tree which was also used to denote a ‘noble warrior.” Bilé’s role in transporting the souls of the dead Celts to the Otherworld is significant. Transportation is usually via rivers like the Thames or out to the sea. In essence, he transports souls to the divine waters – his consort Danu, the Mother Goddess. Hence, Danu takes precedence as the primary source of life. More will be discussed below about the association of Bilé with Apollo.

Cork Oak Tree at Arundel Castle and Gardens

Cork Oak Tree; ‘Druid’ derived from ‘dru-wid’ — “Oak Knowledge”


Overview of Celtic Deities

Celts did not visualize gods with exclusive roles. Not only did their deities have different functions – and therefore were polyvalent— they also appeared in various forms—and thus were polymorphic. Another common feature associated with these deities is votive offerings that were offered at lakes and rivers to win the favor of the gods. Their links with water, trees, and groves suggest the Celts worship earth gods as opposed to the sky gods of the Greeks and Romans.

Bath Roman Bath Britain, dedicated to Celtic goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva

Bath Roman in Bath Britain; Dedicated to Celtic goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva

Julius Caesar associated the Celtic gods in Gaul with Roman deities as follows:

“They [Celts] worship chiefly the god Mercury; of him there are many symbols, and they regard him as the inventor of all the arts, the guide of travelers, and as possessing great influence over bargains and commerce. After him they worship Apollo and Mars, Jupiter and Minerva. About these they hold much the same beliefs as other nations. Apollo heals diseases. Minerva teaches the elements of industry and the arts. Jupiter rules over the heavens and Mars directs war.”

Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom

Minerva, Roman Goddess of Wisdom

Caesar also recorded the Celts in Gaul believed they were descended from Dispater, which the Romans associated with the god of the underworld and of the night. The 18th Century French Historian, Henri D’Arbois de Jubainville, identified the Dispater as the Celtic god Bilé (also known as Bel, Belinus and Belenus). His feast day was celebrated on 1 May (Beltane). As discussed above, Bilé appears to be a god of the dead and is portrayed as Danu’s consort.

Beltane Celebration

Bonfire During Beltaine Festival Celebrated 1st May

Writing a century after Caesar, the Roman poet Lucan gave particular prominence to the names of three gods: Teutates, Taranis and Esus. Taranis could be equated with Jupiter, as the name survives as toran in Welsh and torann in Irish which are interpreted as meaning thunder. Esus was considered to be equivalent to the god of war Mars.

Teutates Celtic God of War on Gundstrup Cauldron

Teutates on Gundestrup Cauldron

Celtic gods were often depicted with female companions. When patriarchy replaced the “mother goddess” concept, the new male gods had to consort with the old female river goddesses to retain continuity with the old beliefs. A raven, the Celtic symbol of death and battle, perches at their feet. The marriage of a chieftain god with a Mother Goddess was viewed as assuring the people of protection and fertility.

Mythological Raven

The Raven, Celtic Symbol of Death and Battle

After Christianity achieved dominance in the Celtic world, the ancient gods were relegated to dwell in the hills. In Irish, the word sidhe means mound or hill and denotes the final dwelling places of the Dé Nanaan, the Immortals, after their defeat by the Milesians. The ancient gods, thus driven underground, were relegated in folk memory as the des sidhe, the people of the hills or in later folklore as simply fairies. The most famous fairy is the banshee (bean sidhe), the woman of the fairies whose wail and shriek portends a death. Each god was allotted a sidhe or hill in Ireland by The Dagda before he gave up his leadership of the gods.

Bilé’s Association with Apollo

To judge from inscriptions, the most venerated god was Belenus who can be most closely equated to Apollo. There is evidence of his cult in southern Gaul and northern Italy, and he may have given his name to Beltane, the Irish festival celebrated on the first of May. Worship of him proved to be enduring. Ausonius of Bordeaux, writing in the 4th Century, mentioned a contemporary of his who was a grandson of Phoebicius, a temple priest of Belenus, and whose family bore names associated with the great Apollonian shrine at Delphi.

Apollo-WaltersArs

Apollo, God of Sun; Associated with Celtic God Bilé, also known as Bel and Belenus

There are many places named after Bilé throughout Europe. In London, Belenus’ Gate is known as Billingsgate (Bilé’s gate). Presumably the heads of the dead at the original Celtic settlement, and later at the Roman occupied city, were taken though this gate to the river Thames—tamesis, the dark or sluggish river. The human heads were used as votive offerings or simply placed for Bilé to transport them to the Otherworld. Hundreds of skulls from the Celtic period have been discovered in the Thames, around London, with other votive offerings.

As previously discussed in APOLLO’S RAVEN, the ancient Celts believed the soul reposed in the head, not in the region of the heart as Western Christians now have it. That is why the head was so venerated and prized. In one Welsh tale, the mortally wounded Bran the Blessed urges his companions to remove his head and take it back to the Island of the Mighty (Britain) for burial. It takes many years and Bran’s head eats, drinks, and instructs the soldiers on the journey back. The head is buried (legend has it that the site was Tower Hill in London) looking toward France so that, in accordance with Celtic custom, he could protect the land against invasion. Many other examples of talking heads of slain heroes are found in Celtic myth.

Stonework at La Roquepertuse Cult of Head

La Roquepertuse Doorway of Skulls

Connecting the many human skulls found in the Thames, together with exquisite swords, shields, helmets and other votive offerings, suggests the Thames could have been a sacred river for the British Celts, occupying the same role as the worship of rivers, springs or wells in Central India.

Celtic Battersea Shield

Celtic Battersea Shield

Bilé was incorporated in many personal Celtic names, the most famous being Cunobeline, who ruled just before the Roman invasion of AD 43. His name means ‘hound of Belinus’. He was later immortalized as the King of Britain in the Shakespearean play entitled, “The Tragedy of Cymbeline.”

To be continued

The next post will provide a more detailed description of the Celtic gods and goddesses.

References

  1. John Davies, The Celts: Prehistory to Present Day; 2005; Sterling Publishing Co., New York.
  2. Julius Caesar, translated by F. P. Long, 2005. The Conquest of Gaul; United States: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
  3. Peter Berresford Ellis, The Druids, 1995William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI.
  4. Steve Blamires, Magic of the Celtic Otherworld: Irish History, Lore & Rituals, 2009, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN.
  5. Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, 1991Doubleday, New York, NY.
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Roman Britain: Ruling Britannia

Bust of Emperor Claudius

Bust of Emperor Claudius

This is a reblog of an article in History Today in which archaeological findings strongly suggest the presence of Roman armies in Ancient Britannia before the invasion of Claudius in 43 AD.

Archaeologist Miles Russell describes recent discoveries which overturn accepted views about the Roman invasion of Britain.

Source: Roman Britain: Ruling Britannia

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Celtic Woman Warrior Summons Raven Spirit

Women Mythology

 

 

“In the traditional mythological tradition, the woman is there. All she has to do is to realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to. When a woman realizes what her wonderful character is, she’s not going to get messed up with the notion of being pseudo-male.”

—Joseph Campbell

Women Mythology

Since childhood, ancient mythology has fascinated me because of the significant roles that women played in the tales. They were powerful goddesses, mothers, warriors, creators, and destroyers. Women were not only associated with fertility and birth, but with warfare and destruction.

Epona Flanked by Horses

Mother Goddess Epona Flanked by Horses

Women have always had a power that men did not have—the power of creating life. Early ancient civilizations acknowledged this power through the Mother Goddess who ruled supreme over all. Ancient civilizations held women’s ability to create new life inside her body in awe, but they feared the mystical blood flows which synchronized with the phases of the moon. Women were considered magical and the intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds. They served as seers, priestesses, healers, oracles, lawmakers, judges, and agents of the Great Goddess Mother who gave birth to the Universe.

Macha Curses Men of Ulstur

Mythology Women Macha Curses Men of Ulstur

The hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell is a journey to the depths of our psyches where we discover spiritual meaning to our lives. It allows us insight into our souls where there are no boundaries between the spiritual and physical worlds. The ancient myths celebrated a female’s courage and cleverness to rescue their family, to be a partner on the hero’s journey, and to spin ways to overcome the giants in their way.

Boudica Statue

Statue of Boudica in London

It is no wonder myths have flourished throughout history because the tales and symbols reflect our universal struggle to find spiritual meaning in our everyday lives. Universal symbols in myths and dreams connect each one of us to our creative, intuitive side. Unfortunately, the evolution of paternalistic societies and the emphasis on science, analytical reasoning, and technology in modern times have often left a void where people feel they cannot relate to each other and discover the spiritual meaning of their own lives.

Statue of Minerva, Roman Goddess of Wisdom and Battle

Minerva, Roman Goddess of Wisdom and Battle

Heroine’s Journey

The heroine’s journey has always existed in epic myths, but it is often understated. Many ancient myths and legends were rewritten to reflect the religious and cultural beliefs depicting women as seductresses and witches, or as pure-minded maidens and mothers.

In today’s society, women oppressed by the hero quest see only two choices:

  • Be the sobbing princess needing rescue
  • Be the hero, taking on the masculine qualities to success

However, the heroine’s true role is neither to be the hero or his prize. The power of women is reflected in the Great Goddesses who battled darkness. Her worship once dominated ancient mankind. She is the earth and sea from which life was created. She offers not only her feminine qualities of beauty, imagination, and compassion, but also offers death and savagery.

The primal goddess reigned uncontested for centuries as Ishtar, Morrigan, and Cybele who could be cruel and lustful goddesses.  Many of these tales celebrate the metaphoric death of the inadequate self to resurrect into a higher plan of existence.

Relief Depiction Ishtar

Queen of Night relief often representing Ishtar British Museum

In the original ancient tales, heroines were brave, resourceful, and clever. They accustomed to saving themselves and their princes. Myths are the collective conscious of humanity to help the next generation face conflicts and journey to self-discovery. For both men and women, myths have helped ease their passages from childhood into adulthood.

Complexity Women’s Roles

When I began writing the APOLLO’S RAVEN series, I at first grappled with the characteristics of my heroine, a Celtic warrior princess. However, ancient mythology gave me insight into the complexity of women’s psyches that provide them with both the courage and wisdom to overcome challenged in their everyday lives. Women not only ascend into the heavens as goddesses, but delve in the Underworld to face the shadowy parts of their souls. From these destructive forces bring forth new life. The heroine must use her darker feminine side, balancing compassion and cruelty, to overcome evil forces on her journey.

Triplicate Mother Goddesses Displayed at Bath UK Roman Baths

Triplicate Mother Goddesses Displayed at Bath UK Roman Baths

Only after the heroine understands her dark side can she gain the wisdom to guide others needing her counsel, especially children. The heroine can travel between the mortal and spirituals worlds to become protector of others and a goddess.

To Be Continued

The next posts will further explore the heroine’s journey and Celtic mythology of powerful women and goddesses.

References

Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand FacesBollingen Series XVII Third Edition; Joseph Campbell Foundation; New World Library, Novato, 2008.

Valerie Estella Frankel, From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend; McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2010,

Maureen Murdock, The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness; Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, MA, 1990.

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Celtic Spiritual Warrior Close-up

Claudius Roman Invasion Britain

“Claudius undertook, in all, one expedition and that one was of no great extent. When he was granted triumphal ornaments by decree of the Senate, he thought that the title was not weighty enough to grace the imperial magistracy and craved the distinction of a proper triumph.”
—Suetonius, Life of Claudius.

Claudius Roman Invasion Britain

Ancestral Legacy of Claudius

Emperor Claudius is credited for the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD. He was the first emperor born outside of Italy in Lugdunum (Lyon, France). As the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor, he emphasized his right to rule as a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

Cameo of Claudius Cabinet des Médailles

Cameo of Claudius Cabinet des Médailles

Claudius was also the grandson of Mark Antony, whose marriage to Octavia (Octavian’s sister) resulted in the birth of two daughters, one being Claudius’ mother. Shortly after Antony’s defeat and death in 30 BC, Octavian declared his rival’s birthday, 14 January, as nefastus (unholy). Of note, Claudius’ father also had the same birthday on January 14—a day no public business could be transacted in Rome.

Octavian also convinced the Senator to damn Antony’s memory forever (damnatio memoriae). By discrediting Antony, Octavian hoped to elevate his standing as Emperor Augustus in history. It took Claudius, almost one hundred years later, to restore Antony’s memory

Bust of Mark Antony

Bust of Mark Antony

Not only did Claudius restore the memory of Antony, he also needed a conquest which he could earn a triumph to legitimize his rule against potential usurpers. Suetonius dismissed the Roman invasion of Britain by Claudius as of no great importance. “Claudius decided that Britain was the country where a real triumph could be most readily earned. Its conquest had not been attempted since the days of Julius Caesar. The Britons were now threatening vengeance because the Romans had refused to return some fugitives.”

The written account of the Roman invasion of Britain in 43AD is primarily based on Cassius Dio’s “Roman History.” Unfortunately, his account gives very little detail about the campaign. The only resistance the Romans encountered was the forces led by Caratacus and Togodumnus, the anti-Roman sons of Cunobelin from the Catuvellauni tribe.

 

Britain_WEB_SIZED_INK[1]

Opportunity for a Triumph

In 41AD, Caratacus strategically positioned himself in Silchester, so he could thrust westward to grasp the lands of the Dobunni and of the Atrebates, ruled by the elderly Verica. Verica fled to Rome seeking help from Claudius to stop the aggression. Caratacus and Togodumnus countered by arrogantly demanding that Claudius return their pro-Roman brother, Adminius, and Verica to Britain. Their demand instead triggered the emperor’s decision to send four legions to settle the political differences. Claudius would later use this as a propaganda tool to convince the Senate that he deserved a triumph for conquering Britain—a task left undone by his great ancestor Julius Caesar.

Bust of Emperor Claudius

Bust of Emperor Claudius

The Britons must have been misled to believe that Rome’s only intent was to provide legions for peace-keeping. Most tribes that felt the expansionist weight of the Catuvellani had no reason to resist the Romans. The Atrebates viewed the empire as their saviors.

No Initial Resistance

In the summer of 43AD, the Roman legions led by Plautius did not encounter any British resistance after they landed. They had to search for the troublemakers, Caratacus and Togodumnus.

Possible Landing Richborough Roman Fort at Sandwich, Kent

Possible Roman Landing Site Richborough Roman Fort in Kent

The first battle took place at a river that many believed was the Medway in Kent. Armed Britons waited for the Romans on the other side of the waterway that had no bridge. Plautius sent some auxiliaries, who were accustomed to swimming in full armor, across the waterway to wound the horses that drove the British war chariots.

Celtic Chariot

Celtic War Chariot in Britain

Soon after, Flavius Vespasian crossed the river with his troops and surprised the Britons. The ensuing battle lasted for two days until reinforcements from another Roman legion proved the turning point.

The British warriors then retreated to the River Thames, possibly the Tidal Pool of London, east of the Tower Bridges. After some more fighting, Plautius stopped his advancement and sent for Claudius to lead the final charge. By this time, Togodumnus had died from injuries suffered from battle.

Roman Infantryman in Ancient Britain

Roman Infantryman

Claudius’ Final Victory

Extensive preparation had already been made in advance of Claudius’ arrival. Various types of equipment, including elephants, were gathered to support the emperor’s final charge into battle.

Roman and Celtic Shields Used in Ancient Britain

Roman and Celtic Shields Used in Ancient Britain

Claudius arrived at the Thames toward the end of summer. He crossed the river, defeated the enemy, and captured Camulodunum (Colchester). Cassius Dio says, “He won over many people, some by diplomacy, some by force of arms. He confiscated the weapons of these peoples and handed the tribes over to Plautius, and left him with orders to subdue the remaining regions.”

Claudius depicted as the Roman god Jupiter

Claudius depicted as the Roman god Jupiter

Claudius was in Britain for only sixteen days to achieve his glorious victory. He rushed back to Rome for his triumph and accolades. The inscription dated 52AD on the Arch Claudius in Rome was dedicated by the Senate and the People of Rome in recognition of Claudius receiving the submission of eleven kings without loss. The phrase “without loss” confirms Suetonius’ account that British princes submitted without battle or bloodshed to the emperor in Colchester.

Linnea at Roman Wall at Colchester

Linnea at Roman Wall at Colchester

Conclusions

It is now theorized that Rome culminated the processes of subjugating at least southeast Britain and of bringing that area under its complete control before 43AD. Viewed in this light, the Claudius’ campaign in 43AD was not a military invasion, but rather a political annexation of an already ‘Romanized” region.

Celtic Tribal Territories in Southern Britain

Celtic Tribal Territories in Southwest Britain

The primary evidence leading to this conclusion is as follows:

  1. Archaeological findings suggest the region was populated with increasing multiple cultures with different ethic identities and languages between the time of Caesar and Claudius.
  2. Children and other close relatives of indigenous rulers in Britain were educated in Rome. There was a growing practice that British kings first sought recognition from Rome when they took control of a region. Augustus also personally appointed client kings.
  3. There are increasing hints from archaeological sites that Roman soldiers were present in Britain before 43 AD. Orthogonal structures, more typical of Roman architecture, have been discovered near Colchester and the Fishbourne Palace.
Replica of a Dining Room at Fishbourne Palace

Replica of a Dining Room at Fishbourne Palace

There was precedence of Romans stationing legions beyond the formal frontier of the empire’s rule. Julius Caesar stationed three to four legions with Cleopatra after he restored her to the throne in 47 AD. Feel free to comment on whether you believe the theory that the invasion of Britain was nothing more than a ploy by Claudius to legitimize his role as the Roman emperor.

Julius Caesar Statue

Statue of Julius Caesar

References

  1. John Manley, AD 43 The Roman Invasion of Britain: A reassessment; Tempus Publishing, Inc., Charleston, SC, 2002.
  2. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, The Twelve Caesars, Translated by Robert Graves; Reprinted 2007 by Penguin Books, New York.
  3. Graham Webster, Roman Invasion of Britain, Reprinted 1999 by Routledge, London.
  4. Graham Webster, Rome Against Caratacus: The Roman Campaigns in Britain AD 48-58; Reprinted 2002 by Routledge, London.
  5. Graham Webster, Boudica: The British Revolt against Rome AD 60; Reprinted 2004 by Routledge, London.
  6. Cassius Dio, Roman History, published in Vol. VII of the Loeb Classical Library, Edition 1924; Book LX   http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/60*.html

Coming Soon!

My website is undergoing development in anticipation of the launch of my historical fiction / fantasy, APOLLO’S RAVEN, next year. It is an Epic Celtic Tale of Love, Magic, Adventure, Intrigue, and Betrayal in Ancient Rome and Britannia. The next series of posts will focus on the historical background and themes in the upcoming series.

Apollo's Raven Book Cover, Historical Fiction / Fantasy; An Epic Celtic Tale of Love, Magic, Adventure, Intrigue, and Betrayal in Ancient Rome and Britannia

Apollo’s Raven: Epic Celtic Tale of Love, Magic, Adventure, Intrigue, and Betrayal (Historical Fiction / Fantasy)

The concept of what constitutes a heroine’s journey for the main character of Catrin, a Celtic warrior princess, will be discussed. Mark Antony—the inspiration for Marcellus, Catrin’s lover—will be explored in a new light.

Celtic Warrior Princess

Catrin, Celtic Warrior Princess Summons Raven

Please join me on my journey of discovering how history and mythology can relate to each one of us today.

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24 Psychic Abilities Which Any of Us Might Possess

Emmery Rose, Blogger and

Introduction to Emmery Rose

It is my pleasure to introduce Emmery Rose, a blogger from the Philippines. She has graciously provided a guest post about psychic powers and their connection to mystical abilities which are universally described in various mythology and religions.

Emmerey loves blogging about beauty, fashion and mostly about psychic abilities and powers. She works as an assistant to the psychic medium at Backpackerverse.com. Backpackerverse offers great, in-depth articles on psychic readings and reviews.

Welcome Emmery Rose!

Guest Post: Emmery Rose |24 Psychic Abilities Which Any of Us Might Possess | Apollo’s Raven

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

24 Psychic Abilities Which Any of Us Might Possess

Superhero movies and series have become a great attraction in last decade or two. In the end, it makes sense. All of us would like to have special powers and to escape our daily reality. But, where did the idea of superheroes even come from?

Our history is full of stories with humans who possess special powers. If you think about it, Jesus was also one of those individuals. Ancient religions and mythology in general were based on these special powers. It is obvious that this is more than old wives tales as such stories appeared almost simultaneously all over the globe.

These individuals were in fact psychic.

They possessed special powers and up to this day, there are those who are able to perform unimaginable feats twisting our own reality.

Psychics have numerous gifts including:

  1. Apportation (represents the ability to remove objects from our plane of reality and materialize them somewhere else)
  2. Aura reading (allows psychic individual to judge other person’s character by simply sensing his aura)
  3. Automatic writing (the ability to write things without consciousness)
  4. Astral projection (gifted individual is able to detach his spirit from his body)
  5. Multilocation (allows a person to be in several different places at the same time)
  6. Clairvoyance (perhaps the most complex psychic power, gives you extrasensory perception)
  7. Death-warning (warns you if someone in your family or a close person is going to die)
  8. Divination (seeing future or presence by using various objects)
  9. Dowsing (ability to find hidden objects, usually in ground by using a dowsing stick)
  10. Energy medicine (healing with energy)
  11. Empathy (people with this gift are able to recognize other person’s emotions and feel them on their own skin)
  12. Faith healing (unlike energy medicine, in this case person is able to heal with faith)
  13. Levitation (individual can lift himself or another person into the air)
  14. Hydrokinesis (ability to manipulate water)
  15. Pyrokinesis (ability to manipulate fire)
  16. Mediumship (this is an ability to summon spirits of the dead and communicate with them)
  17. Precognition (seeing the future)
  18. Retrocognition (seeing the past, that is past events that didn’t occur to you)
  19. Psychic surgery (surgery which is performed by use of psychic power and allow you to remove malignant tissue)
  20. Telekinesis (moving objects with your mind)
  21. Psychometry (person is able to gain insight into object, its past and its owner simply by touching it)
  22. Remote viewing (ability to gain information by viewing things from a remote location)
  23. Scrying (seeing the future or presence by using crystal objects, usually crystal ball)
  24. Telepathy (ability to read other people’s minds and instil ideas into them)

As you can see, the list is quite long. There are numerous things we can perform with our mind and all it takes is some practice.

But, how does someone become psychic?

Well, a lot of us have at least some predisposition to develop these abilities. In most of the cases, they lie dormant within us and it is very hard even to notice them. However, if you do, there is no need to be alarmed. These psychic abilities are completely normal.

According to some experts, they appear in highly spiritual people. On the other hand, some claim that this is due to unlocking of certain parts of our brain allowing us to have additional powers. Supposedly, there is even more to be done with our brain but most of us never reach that stadium of development.

Psychic abilities are usually transferred from parent to child. However, you might be the first person in your family to notice them. It varies. In majority of the cases, you will experience same or similar things as your parent. Have in mind that a person can have more than one psychic ability so never stop exploring. You might find something very useful.

Finally, it needs to be said that psychic abilities are no laughing matter and they cannot be easily perfected. They require a lot of sacrifice and practice. Person requires a lot of focus and discipline in order to harness them. But, if you have the willpower, we are certain you can do it too!

You can connect with Emmery Rose through Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmerey-rose-967420126

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Celtic Woman Warrior Preparing for Battle

Roman Invasion Britain 43 AD

Roman Invasion Britain 43 AD

The events of the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD were primarily taken from accounts of Cassius Dio’s “Roman History” and Suetonius’s “The Twelve Caesars.” The historians give little detail about the invasion. There was no British resistance when the Roman legions first landed. Later, the Catuvellauni tribe led by Togodumnus and Caratacus primarily resisted the Roman invasion.

Ironically, Suetonius dismissed the British campaign as of no great importance. He further said, “Claudius decided that Britain was the country where a real triumph could be most readily earned. Its conquest had not been attempted since the days of Julius Caesar. The Britons were now threatening vengeance because the Romans had refused to return some fugitives.”

Imperial portrait of Roman emperor Claudius

Imperial portrait of Roman emperor Claudius

Some archaeologists have proposed that the campaign was nothing more than a political annexation in a region that was already highly influenced by Rome. The following article provides the backdrop to the Roman invasion in 43 AD and the evidence that supports the theory that this was not a full-scale military campaign.

Map Ancient Britain 1st Center

Map Ancient Southeast Britain 1st Century


Evidence of Rome’s Influence Prior to 43 AD

Obsides

One strategy that Rome used to effectively control Britain between the invasions of Caesar and Claudius were to take obsides (hostages) in conjunction with peace pacts and treaties. In Rome, these hostages were indoctrinated into the Roman culture.

During Caesar’s invasions of Britain in 55 – 54 BC, he demanded several hostages as part of the peace truce with southeastern British tribes. Most of these hostages were children or close relatives of the British rulers.

Celtic Child in Roma Ara Pacis Procession Nord Particolare

Celtic child in frieze of Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace)

British rulers, many of whom were educated in Rome and fought in their auxiliary, had to first seek recognition from Rome when coming to power. From Augustus onward, the rulers in southeast Britain were appointed by the emperor. Although there may not have been large-scale occupation of Britain by Roman troops, the dynastic rulers were viewed as imperial administrators of Rome.

Presence of Roman Soldiers

There are archaeological findings that hint Roman soldiers were present in Britain prior to 43 AD. In particular, there may have been a Roman fort near Colchester. The fort can only be detected from aerial photography and is thus undated. However, it is constructed in accordance with an orthogonal Roman fort. It is possible that Cunobelin, who was most likely trained in the Roman army, constructed this fort along similar lines as a Roman encampment. Alternatively, the fort may have garrisoned a genuine Roman auxiliary prior to 43 AD.

Linnea at Roman Wall at Colchester

Linnea at Roman Wall at Colchester

There is also another evidence of Roman occupation prior to 43 AD at Fishbourne Palace. The first stage of timber buildings and the orthogonal road layout was most likely constructed prior to 43 AD. It is possible the pro-Roman ruler Verica might have organized his own forces in Roman style military buildings. More likely, there was a detachment of Roman auxiliary already stationed at Fishbourne to assist Verica.

Model of Fishbourne Palace

Replica of Fishbourne Palace

There is precedence that Romans stationed troops beyond the formal frontier of the empire’s rule. Julius Caesar stationed three legions with Cleopatra in Egypt when he left her country. Herod’ arrival in Jerusalem in 37 BC was supported by a Roman legion.

Roman Pottery

The distribution of Arretine pottery that was manufactured in the Roman Empire was widely distributed in the areas of Fishbourne and Chichester. The pottery was found in ditches with a distinct Roman military profile in both areas. Yet there is no evidence of Late Iron Age settlement activity which strongly suggests the presence of Roman soldiers prior to 43 AD.

Céramique sigillée, époque gallo-romaine, musées de la Cour d'Or à Metz.

Arretine Red-Gloss terra sigillata Roman Pottery

In contrast, Canterbury had a substantial Late Iron Age settlement activity, but very little Arretine pottery has been found from this time period. Substantial quantities of Belgic pottery were imported for at least a generation after the invasion of Britain in 43 AD.

Interactions with Rome

Influential figures from the Chichester and Fishbourne areas had significant interactions with Rome prior to 43 AD. Such contacts paved the way for a much quicker Roman transformation post 43 AD with public buildings erected in Chichester and, of course, ultimately the grand palace at Fishbourne.

Replica of a Dining Room at Fishbourne Palace

Replica of a Dining Room at Fishbourne Palace


Backdrop Roman Invasion Britain 43 AD

Family Turmoil

Cunobelin, a great statesman, skillfully balanced between the bitterly opposing pro-and anti-Roman factions. During his later years, he ultimately lost control to his anti-Roman sons, Togodumnus and Caratacus. A third pro-Roman brother, Adminius, ruled the northeast tip of Kent. This area included the land-locked harbor along the southeast coasts and the Wansum Channel into the Thames Estuary. It was in Rome’s interest to ensure the main landing points remained in friendly hands.

Prior to Cunobelin’s death, a family upset led to the exile of Adminius from Britain in 40 AD. Suetonius records the banished prince, with a group of his followers, arrived at the camp where Caligula was reviewing the troops in Germany.  The emperor proclaimed the whole of Britain had surrendered to him. It was probably Caligula’s original plan to invade and occupy Britain, but it is unclear why this never happened. It is possible the troops refused to carry out Caligula’s orders. In early 41 AD, Emperor Gaius Caligula was assassinated and succeeded by Claudius.

Status of Caligula on Horseback

Status of Caligula on Horseback

Meantime, in Britain, Cunoblin’s eldest son, Togodumnus, took over the kingdom. His brother Caratacus began invading lands south of the Thames. Within a year, King Verica from the Atrebates tribe was also expelled from Britain during an internal revolt.

Verica journeyed to Rome, where he beseeched Claudius to help him regain power by sending Roman troops in Britain. As the acknowledged king, Verica was considered an ally of Rome. Suetonius reports the Britons threatened vengeance against the Romans unless they returned some fugitives (Adminius and Verica).

Bronze Head of Claudius

Bronze Head of Claudius

Rome could either abandon any hope of maintaining useful political and trading relationships in Britain or seize the country by force of arms. An important underlying motive for invading was economic. Trade with Britain brought in a good return and investment to the growers, the pottery factories and those dealing in general merchandise. Most important were the vast surface deposits of lead ore (galena) found in southwest Britain that Rome desperately needed.

Britain_WEB_SIZED_INK[1]

Thus, it could not have been a difficult decision for Claudius and his advisers to reach. To Claudius, the change in the political climate in Britain was a direct affront to the name of his forbear, Julius Caesar. From his point of view, he badly needed to draw public attention away from Rome where he was still at odds with the Senate. And to win the support of his army, what better way than to lead them to a great victory? The empire was in one of its rare peaceful intervals, and troops could be spared.

Roman Legion

Roman Soldiers in Legion

Thus, Verica’s exile gave the Claudius an excuse to begin his invasion. The subsequent invasion under Claudius may have initially been a campaign to annex the territories that had been ruled by Cunobelin.

Delay in Invasion

Aulus Plautius, a distinguished senator, was assigned as commander of the expedition to Britain. Similar to what may have happened to Caligula, Plautius had great difficulty in convincing the Roman army to embark from Gaul. The troops feared crossing the channel with the enormity of the task. As the Roman army was made up of free citizens, the soldiers could exercise some free will by not immediately obeying their officers’ commands.

Ancient Roman Warship Model

Roman Warship Model at Fishbourne Palace

The terror of the superstitious troops brought face to face with the ocean is understandable. They knew that three or four years earlier, the invasion planned by Caligula had been abandoned. Caligula had ordered a lighthouse be built at Boulogne, an important step in setting up a permanent communication link across the channel.

Overview White Cliffs Britain

Dover Cliffs Overlooking British Channel

Nonetheless, it is strange that Plautius was unable to exert his authority as supreme commander. He instead had to ask Claudius for help and advice. Eventually, the aid to convince the army to embark came in the form of Narcissus, a freedman and one of Claudius’ closest advisers. His speech on behalf of Plautius prompted a jibe by Cassius Dio. He said that Narcissus’s former slave status dissolved the soldiers into gales of hysterical laughter. One can only guess at the coarse ribaldry used by Narcissus to convince the soldiers to embark, to which Plautius and his staff were unlikely to descend. This wily Greek freeman ultimately succeeded in cajoling the troops aboard the ships.

The Roman army were divided into three squadrons to avoid an opposed landing, which might hold up a single force. The crossing was difficult and ships were driven back from their course. It was not until the superstitious Romans saw a shooting star flash over from east to west did they believe there was a favorable omen for the invasion.

The landing at Richborough was unopposed and the Britons seemed reluctant to fight at first.

Richborough Roman Fort at Sandwich, UK

Richborough Roman Fort at Sandwich, UK

To be continued

The next post will provide an overview of the recorded events during the Roman invasion of Britain.

References

  1. John Manley,AD 43 The Roman Invasion of Britain: A reassessment; Tempus Publishing, Inc., Charleston, SC, 2002.
  2. Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus,The Twelve Caesars, Translated by Robert Graves; Reprinted 2007 by Penguin Books, New York.
  3. Graham Webster,Roman Invasion of Britain, Reprinted 1999 by Routledge, London.
  4. Graham Webster,Rome Against Caratacus: The Roman Campaigns in Britain AD 48-58; Reprinted 2002 by Routledge, London.
  5. Graham Webster,Boudica: The British Revolt Against Rome AD 60; Reprinted 2004 by Routledge, London.
  6. Cassius Dio, Roman History, published in Vol. VII of the Loeb Classical Library, Edition 1924; Book LX   http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/60*.html
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Interview Anne Frandi-Coory

Anne Frandi-Coory, Author of Whatever Happened to Ishtar?

Introduction to Anne Frandi-Coory

It was my pleasure to interview Anne Frandi-Coory. She is the Australian author of the moving memoir: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR?

The memoir is about Anne’s quest for coming to terms with her traumatic childhood when she lived in a Catholic orphanage and later in her father’s family household. This is also a fascinating journey of Anne’s Italian and Lebanese heritages which provide insight into generations of defeated mothers.

I was first intrigued with the title because Ishtar is a goddess revered for many qualities in ancient civilizations. This book touched my heart as it addressed universal issues that impact women today.

Read my review of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR (5 of 5 stars) on APOLLO’S RAVEN:  http://www.linneatanner.com/blog/3614-2/

Book Cover: Whatever Happened to Ishtar_Cover_Anne Frandi-Coory_Ishtar


Interview with Anne Frandi-Coory

What was the defining moment that inspired you to write your memoir?

Anne:

There was no defining moment as such; more a series of events over a long period of time. The continued feedback from my extended Lebanese family that I was ‘backward’ – a label I overheard often throughout my childhood had always left me feeling devastated and depressed. I desperately wanted people to know that I was intelligent, that childhood emotional and psychological trauma didn’t equate to ‘backward’. I tried many times, as a young mother, to communicate with my Lebanese family, but I could barely utter a word, while they continually talked down to me.

On another level, I found it difficult to talk about my childhood, and as a result my children didn’t know anything about my life, or that of my parents. I wanted them to be proud of me. I felt I didn’t have a past, a family history, and I wanted them to have one.

What was the inspiration for the title of your unique book title, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR?

Anne:

I was brought up as a strict Catholic as were most of my Lebanese and Italian relatives and ancestors. I discovered during my research that the women in my family tree suffered terribly at the hands of their men and the Church…too many children, too much abuse and the constant praying that in reality achieved nothing. My extensive reading about ancient goddesses like Ishtar informed me that women were once worshipped for their fertility, but weren’t solely defined by it. Ishtar occupied the highest position in the Babylonian pantheon; she was the favourite goddess of the Babylonians. She was the goddess of fertility, justice, healing and war. However, once the three patriarchal religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity rampaged across humanity that changed forever. Christian women were then expected to emulate Immaculate Mary, mother of God, an impossible task. In the Catholic system, females had two vocational choices; become a mother (married of course) or a nun! Disastrously, my mother became both.

Statue of Ishtar

Statue of Ishtar

Was there any aspect of your Catholic upbringing that still deeply impacts you today?

Anne:

Yes. Fear and hypocrisy. I was so terrorised by stories of the devil and the tortures of hell all through my childhood while incarcerated in Catholic institutions, that most nights I experienced the most horrific nightmares that left me with a racing heart that seemed to shake my whole body. I sometimes imagined I could see the devil watching me in a corner of the room, so my reaction was to hide under my blankets praying that God would save me. The adrenaline rush prevented me from sleeping. I am still afraid of the dark, and although I no longer believe in the devil or hell, I suffer severe panic attacks if my fragile feelings of security and well-being are undermined in any way. Deep down, I have this feeling that at any time, everything I have will be taken from me, including my family.

The belief that anyone who was a good practicing Catholic was automatically a virtual saint, came crashing down around me when I discovered, as a teenager, that they were human like everyone else and just as capable of committing ‘sins’! I remember being utterly devastated but from that moment, slowly over time, my belief in God fizzled out and died. I am now an atheist.

What would you consider some of your most enlightening moments in your research that helped you come to terms with your childhood?

Anne:

I was explaining to a psychologist that I believed I had paid for my mother’s sins. He was silent for a few moments, and then said: “That’s a very interesting choice of words”. We talked about why I believed my mother had sinned. After a couple more sessions, he said to me “Do you think it possible that your Catholic upbringing may have done more harm than the abuse you suffered at the hands of your family?”

All through my research, I kept thinking about the psychologist’s words, and as a result, I wrote a very different book.

I had come to realise that my mother wasn’t a sinner, and that the story of my childhood was merely a tiny inset in a very large picture. That’s why, although I began writing my memoir, I ended up writing an extensive family history spanning generations and countries. That in general, life favoured males over females. With the change in perspective also came acceptance of my traumatic childhood.

Was there a woman in your ancestral history who most sparked your interest and why?

Anne:

Probably Italia Frandi, my great aunt. She died long before I was born, but I was given a recorded interview with her daughter, in which she talks about Italia’s life and achievements. Italia suffered many tragedies in her life but she never let that prevent her from becoming an astute business woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up to the Catholic Church or a legal system that favoured men.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give young women today?

Anne:

Three pieces of advice:

Feel the fear, and do it anyway. I know that’s a well-worn cliché, but I know it’s the best way to combat fear. I would still be hiding behind locked doors if I hadn’t ignored my fears and taken the plunge into unknown waters. It made me more courageous each time I achieved a goal.

If people make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy, move on. Listen to what your senses are telling you. Life is too short and there is so much you can achieve in your lifetime if you travel without negativity weighing you down. I believe this philosophy has kept me physically safe and mentally healthy. 

Always strive to be financially independent…It will empower you to be in control of your life.

Do you plan to write any further books based on the research you’ve done on your Lebanese and Italian heritages?

No, but I have written a series of poems, short stories in themselves, about aspects of my childhood, cultural and family history. I have painted an image for each poem, or attached a photograph. I have also written a few ancestral short stories. I am planning to publish these in a book sometime within the next year, once I complete the series.

Biography Anne Frandi-Coory

Anne Frandi-Coory was abandoned by her Italian mother when she was ten months old and placed in the care of the Catholic Sisters of mercy in Dunedin, by her Lebanese father. All through her childhood, Anne’s Lebanese extended family, and her strict Catholic upbringing, influenced her to believe that her life of abuse and gross neglect was  because she was “paying for my mother’s sins”. Anne married very young and had four children. After they had left home, Anne decided to research her family history  to try and understand the reasons why there were so many defeated mothers in her family tree. Over a period of fifteen years, she traveled across the globe, sourcedoriginal documents and interviewed many  family members, both Lebanese and Italian. Most of the  women were devout Catholics, forced to marry brutal and uneducated men and subsequently gave birth to too many children. Seemingly, the women’s sole reason for living was to breed, pray to God for help, attend Mass regularly, and hope that the after- life would reward them for their ‘goodness’. Catholic girls had one other choice for a vocation and that was to become a nun. This had not always been females’ lot in life. Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility, love and war, empowered females to emulate her prowess for thousands of years. But patriarchal Christianity usurped Ishtar with its Virgin Mary, and females were stigmatised as whore or venerated as virgin/mother.

Anne Frandi-Coory now lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner. She works from her home studio as a painter, poet and short story writer. She intends to publish a book of her works.


Further Information:

Order WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR?:

Author Website Autographed Memoir: http://frandi.wordpress.com/buy-a-signed-copy-of-whatever-happened-to-ishtar-directly-from-the-author/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Happened-Ishtar-Anne-Frandi-Coory/dp/1921642955

Customer Reviews: 

https://frandi.wordpress.com/category/latest-book-reviews-for-whatever-happened-to-ishtar/

Follow Anne Frandi-Coory:

Website:  https://frandi.wordpress.com/

Twitter:         https://twitter.com/afcoory

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Frandini/

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Book Review: Whatever Happened to Ishtar?

Whatever Happened to Ishtar?Whatever Happened to Ishtar? Anne Frandi-Coory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I follow Anne Frandi-Coory and signed up to receive notifications from her website frandi.wordpress.com to learn more about her Lebanese and Italian heritage. My curiosity aroused, I ordered  a signed copy of her memoir directly from her site and was deeply moved by it. Below is my book review.

GOODREADS BOOK REVIEW

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? (Australian author Anne Frandi-Coory) is a beautifully written and haunting memoir of a woman who finds herself by exploring her family’s heritage that contributed to her growing up without the love and nurture of a mother she most desperately wanted. What first attracted me to this book was the title, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? The Ancient Sumerian Mother Goddess Ishtar celebrates love, fertility, and sexuality. This title haunted me as I read the memoir because Anne’s mother, like many woman of her generation and previous generations, was harshly judged for her sexuality and had limited options to treat her mental illness and to fulfill her potential. The first part of the memoir is Anne’s account of her childhood while the second part provides a historical account of her Lebanese (father’s side) and Italian heritage (mother’s side).

Anne was institutionalized at the Mercy Orphanage of the Poor at South Dunedin in her early childhood. At the time, her father could not adequately care for Anne after he divorced her mother for infidelity. At the age of eight, Anne was removed from the orphanage and introduced to the real world under the care of her father’s family. However, they shamed Anne and associated her with her mentally ill mother they considered a whore. This part of the memoir is gut-wrenching and haunting because Anne had to overcome loneliness and self-doubt to find her full potential after marrying, having four children, and finding her life partner after a divorce.

However, what is most fascinating is the rich heritage and ancestral genealogy of both her father and mother to understand what nineteenth century immigrants to Australia faced. With no access to birth control, women faced multiple pregnancies or secretly resorted to self-induced abortions with crude knitting needles. The historical accounts that Anne researched help explain why her father and her mother were compelled to make their choices. I recommend this memoir because the story will stay in your memory as it covers universal issues of female sexuality, women’s roles and options, mental illness, and society’s harsh judgment that has defeated mothers for generations.

View all my reviews

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