Monday, May 28, 2012

The Emperor and Aries

Ongoing series of building characters using astrology and the Tarot--for writers or for fun.

Did you think that the Easter Bunny was a modern invention to sell candy at Easter? Yes and no. It is said there is nothing new under the sun, only re-purposed, and so it is with the Easter Bunny.

Before the Christian festival of spiritual rebirth, Easter, there was the festival of Eostre or Ostara. She was the lunar goddess after whom the springtime Paschal (i.e. Passover) festival is named.

The brothers Grimm tell us that Eostre is related to Old High German ostar, the adverb expressing movement toward the rising sun. Ostara/Eostre seems to have been a divinity of the radiant dawn, of new birth in the spring. You can see why it was adapted to the resurrection of the Christ (Easter).

Now, for that wacky wabbit (and, yes, we will get to Aries). According to various sources, Eostre had a hare as a totem animal and she could take that form. If you want more about this ancient history on origins of eggs, Lent, fertility, and rabbits as related to springtime and Easter, I suggest you take a peek at Association of Polytheist Traditions. 

So, hare/rabbit/Eostre/Easter/eggs/new birth/spring-all re-purposing. 

Okay, Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, a fire sign, and on its positive side, is indicative of birth, growth (energetic, adventurous, ambitious, enthusiastic, dynamic, confident and quick-witted)


in completing that cycle—death and regeneration (exemplified by selfishness, quick-tempered, impulsive, impatient, foolhardy and a daredevil).

Aries characters make courageous leaders but not good followers because of their “take charge” personalities. Their immense energy can make them aggressive, restless and head strong. It is their job to get things moving, lead the charge, begin the project but they may be unwilling to obey or submit to directives from others of which they disagree.

If you’re writing a werewolf character, Aries is the leader of the pact with strong personal magnetism. Or maybe you need a leader for a group of people isolated in a Sci-fi world after a global catastrophe—pure bliss for an Aries who loves all the new possibilities. He or she is someone who can ‘rally the troops’ and forge ahead. The conflicts come when Aries tries to force his way on others who may not agree. The Ram is Aries symbol and represents the driving energy of pushing ahead and having the last word.

Arians can be frank, direct and candid. They make enthusiastic and generous friends. Their fearlessness is commendable as they forge new inroads. If you want to use Aries to build character, you might want to take a peek at these sites for more details:

Let's quickly bring in The Emperor and The Tower cards of the Tarot. They both help explain Aries.

The Emperor card depicts a mature ruler sitting on a throne which is decorated with the figures of rams. Mature is the operative word here. It is what Aries strives to be; authoritative with responsibility—examining situations from an organized and rational perspective. Think King David of the Bible. (I don’t know if he was an Aries, but he could have been—his earlier days were indicative of Aries wilder nature before he channeled his energy into positive action and wisdom took hold)

On the other side of the coin (and there is always another side), Aries can misuse authority and become reckless and impulsive. He is great at starting new projects but following through is where he can break down. There is the element of the child here—a refusal to grow up, so Aries must learn mastery over his emotions in order to mature into his full potential. 

The Tower card “refers to Tower of Babel, a symbol of human arrogance that was punished by the deity of the Bible. The phallic nature of the tower and the destruction depicted on the card are linked to the planet Mars, the Greek war god Ares.” StarIQ

The Tower reminds Aries that he is his own worst enemy. It symbolizes eradication of an existing status quo. It is a warning against stagnation and ignorance and reminds Aries to continue evolving and growing out of outdated structures of thoughts and emotions—purging the inner self (by fire) like the Phoenix Bird—and then like the Phoenix, he can rise from his ashes and rebuild anew.  Astrology Scopes.

Do you know any Aries? 
Do you have a place for this character in your novel? 
Does the Tower card frighten you?

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's At The Heart Of A Good Book?

Why do we read what we read?  What are the elements of a good story?

The latter part of last year when I bought my Nook and had the option to download lots of free stories, I found an author that hooked me and made me want to read her book. It wasn’t because she had created an error free book, or that her character arcs were well drawn. There were mistakes and she admitted that she wrote the first book on a dare. But she had compelling characters (even though their emotions got tiresome in their lack of realistic emotional growth).

All the vampire series on TV and in the theaters were hot, but I was not particularly drawn to them. I was more fascinated by the shape-shifting werewolves. That’s how I came upon this book and read it as a lark—because it was free.

So what drew me in and kept me reading? That is a question I have been asking myself.

I’m reading a series now that is heavily weighted with military information—men’s love—including guns, planes, ships, military equipment of all kinds. But I’m not reading for that (my eyes glaze over while skimming those parts). The characters are not that well drawn, especially the women—male author. But that is not keeping me from reading. So why am I reading this series? I was into the author’s conspiracy, UFOs/alien, secret government theories. Hot!

I also branched out into reading many romance authors this year—unlike the ones I read years ago that were too predictable and unsatisfying in the long haul for me. Since I have romance in my first novel (waiting for publication, tapping fingers, waiting. . .) and includes past-life time slips, I thought I’d better read some authors that are writing the same genre to see what they are writing and what categories they are being put into. I happened onto an English author that has some past life drop-in, time travel, romantic suspense—right down my alley. And, very well written. Ahhh.

I love the way she handles her characters—well drawn and compelling. The romance is lovely and just that—romance—not hot sex (not that that’s a bad thing—rewind to werewolf series above). These were love stories. Present day and a past life in England.

As never before, it is easier and cheaper to access books. People are reading more, whether well written or not. (I’m not touting poorly written books because if the writing interferes with the story flow, I’m out of there. I don’t want my fictive ‘dream’ to be interrupted.)

So what drew me in and kept me reading these three very different genres, author styles and emphasis? While some of the writing was poorly edited, some characters not well drawn still I read and enjoyed them.

I think I read for different reasons at different times. Sometimes I want to sink into a tear jerking romance that involves my emotions and my heart. Sometimes I’m in a more paranoid phase and want to read about conspiracies and sci-fi possibilities. At other times, a good romp with the creatures of imagination is in store. Throw in some non-fiction (inspirational, instructional or biographical) and I’m good.

But, I am trying to pinpoint why readers read what they read.  So I'm asking for your feedback, what is at the heart of a good book for you—what do you read and why?

Do you think the easy access to books is making readers read books they never would have read before? 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Flying High, Crawling Low

Ongoing series of building characters with the use of archetypes drawn from astrological signs, the Tarot and myths. 

Cancer is a water sign and the crab (with its hard shell and soft interior) is the symbol most often attributed to it; smooth and confident outside and deeply emotional inside. It is characterized by the phrase, still waters run deep. Cancerians are emotional and sensitive, given to deep thoughts and conversations.

The crab carries his world on his back, and home is of great importance to Cancer. Most agree that Cancer is fundamentally conservative and home-loving. With their strong maternal and paternal instincts, Cancerians tend to like and have larger families. They are never far from hearth and home.

The other symbol, assigned to Cancer by the Egyptians, is the sacred scarab. During mummification, a carving of the sacred scarab was placed where the heart had been. Cancer is one of the signs that resonates love in the zodiac, an indication of its sociable and caring nature.

That is the crawling low part. Now for the flying high aspect.

The Tarot card associated with the sign of Cancer is The Chariot Card, an ancient symbol linked to numerous myths.

Socrates likened the chariot to the human soul “the natural union of a team of winged horses (one black and one white-depicting this split within the human personality) and their charioteer.” The charioteer drives the two horses, with their conflicting natures through life. (The Rider-Waite Tarot deck shows two sphinxes instead of horses.) 

Cancer is ruled by or linked to the Moon (and the Moon is associated with the High Priestess of the Tarot-representing balance). 

This Greek myth pulls all these symbols together to help us understand where the elements of the Chariot card evolved from:

"After bathing in the ocean, Selene, the original Titan Moon Goddess carried the moon across the heavens in a silver chariot pulled by white horses. Eos the Dawn, Selene’s sister, then pulled back the curtain of night so that her brother Helios was allowed to drive his golden chariot across the sky carrying the sun. Selene and Helios were eternally entwined in their chase of light and dark." (From Auntie Moon)

Selene driving Pegasi-chariot, Athenian red-figure
kylix C5th B.C., Antikensammlung, Berlin

The Chariot of the Tarot exemplifies the struggle of Cancer, to maintain balance in the midst of changes and competing desires. Steering to the middle of the road is the goal of Cancer (The Charioteer) in the midst of struggling with opposing thoughts and feelings. They must learn to control their instincts and passions and harness their energy so it can be directed in positive ways.

Cancers are usually imaginative and intuitive and have an ability to identify with other people’s situations. Because of their imaginative side, they may possess considerable literary, artistic or oratorical talent. They could be good on stage, but are in danger of overacting because of their emotional side. They are usually not trailblazers because they build off of existing ideas, rather than creating new ones.

Even thought they appear down-to-earth, they may be fascinated by the mystical or psychic, more than the average.

They can be inspiring (especially to youth) if they can reconcile the conflict of their urge to be outgoing with the reserve that causes them to withdraw into themselves.

Potential faults: they can be untidy, sulky, devious, moody and inclining to self-pity because of an inferiority complex. Or, they can brood on insults (real or imagined). They can be easily flattered and when prone to fantasy, they may try to shape their lives to fit some romantic ideal.

They avoid risk and take time to consider all possibilities and outcomes before moving forward.

Mix and match from some of their positive and negative juicy characteristics to make interesting characters for your stories:
  • Tackless and difficult, can appear unemotional
  • Mentally a mixture of tough and soft
  • Normally ambitious
  • They curry favor by floating with majority opinions, outlooks and fashions of the day.
  • Often change their opinions, loyalties, occupations and lack stability
  • Easily corrupted
  • Convincing romanticizers and successful confidence tricksters.
  • Waters run deep and slights are remembered for a long time
  • Deep mood swings and a sharp tongue when provoked

  • Journalists, writers
  • Politicians but more likely to remain in the background
  • Service capacities: welfare, nursing, catering or housekeeper
  • Therapists
  • Some are successful as captains of industry (because they are excellent organizers with a good  sense of value and economy and inventiveness and originality)
  • Their romantic side love grubbing about in places where exciting discoveries may be made (yard sales, attics, secondhand stores and make good dealers of antiques)

Some of the famous people born under this sign are:
Duke of Windsor
Bob Fosse
Sylvester Stallone
the Dalai Lama
Robin Williams 
Ernest Hemingway

#astrology #tarot #Greek myths 

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Basketfull of Great Articles

Great mash up of week's articles:

But first, a tribute to Donna Summer.

(Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Triberr, Linkedin, Pinterest and Blogging. Which is Best for You?)
by Lisa Hall Wilson

by Joe Konrath
History of Publishing Industry, where it is, where it’s going and what writers need to think about.

by Marcus Sheridan 

by Cynthia Herron

by Gary Gauthier

by Jerry D. Simmons

If you are so inclined, let me know which article you found the most informative for you. 

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Age of Aquarius, Oh No, Not Again!

Ongoing series of character development using astrology, the Tarot and the archetypes defined by Joseph Campbell.

Aquarius is laden with symbolism and mythical origins, and I have to make a distinction before continuing this character-development-for-fiction series.

While trying to figure out how to grapple with Aquarius within one post, I realized I needed to clarify something first. Let’s remove ourselves out of the sign and into the bigger picture for a moment. You have all heard of the “Age of Aquarius” into which we have stepped (there is conflict only as to when, exactly, this happened/will happen). If we link it to the Mayan prophecy of 2012 (a previous post), we see that the old world influences of the previous age are diminishing and the new ones beginning, and we are at least close enough (at or over the threshold) to feel the effects.

On a grand scale, we are stepping out of the old world age of Pisces and into the new world age of Aquarius. We need to get over the idea that love and compassion are reserved for the in-group. There are no in-group and out-group distinctions in Aquarius.

So how does this have anything to do with building a character based on astrology and the tarot? Humor me a moment more, please.

The best sign of transition to the new reality (without mentioning all those pesky mystical elements) associated with Aquarian principles, is the World Wide Web. There are no longer limits to relating to one another now. Without getting into religious distinctions, let me just say that the principles of this new Aquarian age have been already given to us by Jesus, Krishna and Buddha who denounced hypocrisy and dogmatic religious intolerance. Yet we still have it, as some cling to their in-group/out-group mentality—a dying breed.

I found an interesting blog post at Enlightening Times that mentioned Jean Houston (Sacred Woundings), who shared a long history with Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth). Jean had a dream about him and her. She couldn’t figure out what the dream meant but it stayed with her. Without going into the dream, which you can read on the post, a wise elder told her, “Well of course; it’s so simple. He (Campbell in the dream) means the correspondences. You’re supposed to help him find the correspondences between myth and everything else: myth and history, myth and science, myth and psychology, myth and what’s trying to happen in the world, the pathways from the past and the pathways to this future.

That is the crux of “the Age of Aquarius;” finding the golden nugget of truth in the myth—whether of history, science or psychology—pathways from the past into the future.

What I have been trying to do with this series on building character for your fiction (your mythical stories) is to dig at the heart of the archetypes of who we are (using myth, astrology and Tarot) as we move forward. Our behaviors fit certain patterns, on the positive side or the negative side—really a bit of both. Those patterns can be seen when we look carefully into each astrological sign.

There are lessons there (not shout out loud claims of righteous superiority or exclusionary knowledge found in the Piscean age). Those lessons can be gently viewed and gleaned as we look over the Aquarian hill to see what is at a distance on the other side. There are no absolutes. There are tendencies.

Occult means hidden and refers to ancient knowledge that is purposefully written in a coded form called mythology. That was mandatory in the age of Pisces (unless you didn’t mind being burned at the stake). Now we need to reveal the truth at the heart of the codes. Aquarius, the age of brotherhood, tells us love is the source; at the center of creation. What was hidden can now be revealed.

Whew! Hope that wasn’t too mystical for you. Just remember, I’m drinking from the eclectic cool-aid and sometimes the mystic leaks out.

A great example of this brotherhood idea is the WANA (We AreNot Alone) groups that Kristen Lamb created—writers banding together to help each other with writing, promoting, marketing and technical information—all social media related, using Aquarian principles.

Now that I have set the groundwork for the age of Aquarius, in distinction from the astrological sign of Aquarius, I will continue this series on character development next week with the sign of Aquarius.

To review past posts, click on the signs that have already been done:

Does my explanation clear things up or confuse you?

Did I get too mystical for you?

Do you think your thinking is more in the Pisces Age, the Aquarian Age, or straddling them both? 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Pet Peeves
Tough Love For Bloggers

Just as publishing, marketing, promotion of books and reading is affected by the changes happening every day on the internet, so writers need to step up with their blogging. There are more and more writers competing blogging to promote their published, or soon to be published, work.

To put out a good product (good blogging) it becomes necessary for the writer to axe limit the amount of time spent reading and supporting other writers on the internet. There is only so much time in a day to support fellow writers, without having one's own writing suffer. Eventually the time spent on blog reading and support will be whittled down to only those who put out a good product. So, if you blog, don’t take advantage of other writer's time by not keeping your writing at its best.

Here are the Pet Peeves things bloggers do that annoy me and are causing me to rethink who I  (and many other writers who I've heard the grumblings from) will support:
·        Author interviews—unless this is in conjunction with a book review—I  am not interested in don’t have time for hopping around numerous sites to support an author who is being interviewed umpteen numbers of times. Unless you are famous, who cares hearing the same things about you and your book is a bit self centered, eh? a little redundant, no?
·        Not everyone can be a blogger no matter how much the romance of it intrigues. If you have nothing to say don’t blog you might think about a static web page instead.
·        If you have something to say—say it in a fresh way, or develop those skills necessary to hook a reader and engage their attention enough to entice them to read your blog. You’re supposed to be a writer, so use your writer skills.
·        Don’t write words just to fill a page—that’s deadly and will soon cause your supporters to flee not return to read your blog (you know, the personal stuff most strangers don’t give a flying fig about aren't necessarily that interested in).
·        If you are just starting out, find your niche—those subjects that are aligned with what you are promoting (your book or your passion)—and write about that. If you are excited, others are more likely to catch your enthusiasm.
·        Read lots of other blogs that inspire you even though the subject matter may not be about what you are writing—think: cross pollination. Keep an open mind, something useful might drop in.

If you are trying to gain a following (to sell books) and don’t know what to blog about, here-in lies wisdom slant your post for your audience—the ones who will buy your books! Visit Linda Adams blog post: Engaging Readers with Social Media for great ideas on targeting your audience. 

Now, having posted some of my pet peeves and subjects to be wary of, you need to be inspired to do your thing by going to Alina Sayre’s blog, Illuminations to read Dance Like No One’s Watching

For great information all the time on blogging, promoting, publishing and writing, or if you just need a general (humorous) uplift, visit KristenLamb’s blog.

So, did I hit a nerve? Have you had the same thoughts? Tell me (the good and/or the bad).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Like A Rock

This on-going series for writers is based on building characters based on the archetypes in Astrology and the Tarot card(s) associated with each sign.

Capable Capricorn is one of the most stable and serious signs of the zodiacal. It is ruled by the planet Saturn. (Saturn: Roman god of harvest or time of reaping). 

When needing a character that is like a rock, I thought it easiest to give you quick snapshots of the famous people who share this sign. Otherwise you'd be reading for quite a while. This should help you understand this character.

As a whole:
·        They are independent, confident and strong willed (think Lady Bird Johnson)
·        They tend to be unemotional and cautious in the extreme (Mao Tse Tung).
·        There is a melancholy quality about them. (Howard Hughes, Anthony Hopkins, Edgar Allen Poe)
·        Mostly, they will be shrewd, practical, responsible and persevering (James Earl Jones, Conrad Hilton, Marlene Dietrich, Michel de Nostradamus)
·        They appear reserved and conservative (Richard Nixon, Joan Baez, Victor Borge).
·        Some Capricorns can have mood swings any where from depressed, wretched and miserable to an extreme ecstatic happiness (Ava Gardner, Kirstie Alley, Al Capone).
·        These swings are not the only reason Capricorns deserve the adjective based on their name, capricious. They are either surprisingly witty and subtle, often turning to a career in entertainment (Diane Keaton, Cary Grant, Andy Rooney)
·        or utterly irresponsible and flippant (Rush Limbaugh, Jim Bakker) 
·        With mental processes often deep and profound, they tend to explore all possibilities before making a decision on a course of action and then they can be stubborn and unyielding. Capricorns are capable of persisting for as long as is necessary to accomplish a goal they have set for themselves. (Joan of Arc, Louis Pasteur, J.R. Tolkien, Clara Barton)
·        Another unexpected quality in some Capricorns is their interest in the occult which persists in spite of their naturally skeptical turn of mind (Jeanne Dixon, Michel de Nostradamus, Carlos Castenada).
·        They can be wary and cautious around people they don’t know very well and tend to attract people who do not understand them (J. Edgar Hoover, Elvis Presley).

If they are functioning from their dark side, they can be clingy, pessimistic and fatalistic--even miserly and grudging.

Capricorn is represented by the symbol of the mountain or sea goat. 

It is an earth sign (think rock)  with the influence of planet Saturn (called the Great Teacher and Taskmaster). 

The Tarot card associated with Saturn is the Devil card, not to be confused with Satan (from the Book of Job in the Old Testament—whose role it was to wander the Earth in pursuit of those who did not keep the faith and who broke God’s law. He was authorized to tempt humans to demonstrate their lack of moral goodness.).

Briefly, in ancient Rome, the god of agriculture was Saturn (Saturnus) (equivalent to the Greek Kronos—god of sowing and the harvest). Quickly demonstrating the evolution/origin of this, here are the connections out of which the Devil card developed:
The Devil alludes to Pan (ancient Greece).
  • Pan, the horned woodland goat was depicted with horns and hooves of a goat. Capricornus is latin for horned goat. 
  • Pan was the half man, half goat nature god of physical pleasures and indulgences in food and drink (Dionysius/ Bacchus).
  • The Saturnalia was the joyful festival (end of harvest) of the ancient Roman year when moral restrictions were eased and, “the devil had his day.”
Also, the World Card of the Tarot is co-representative of Capricorn.

Without getting into all the symbolism of the card (that could take a whole post on its own), it basically about completion—we have reached the end of our journey and have learned the lessons put to us by Saturn the taskmaster/teacher/adversary. Along the way we have proved our worth as human beings.

Capricorn’s inner journey is about being honest with himself so that he may reach his highest goals through ambition, commitment and resourcefulness.


Are you a Capricorn? Does it sound like you? 
Could you build a character based on Capricorn?
Love to hear your comments.