The 2nd Puzzle: The Lost Book of Magic

Posted by on Dec 26, 2011 in Historical Puzzles

and The Secret Riches Visualization Tool and Most people know what The Secret is. They know about the power of positive thinking, repetition, self belief. and Few people know however that these ideas were once the key elements in ancient books of magic. Such books often also contained medical knowledge and practical personal advice. The success of such ideas gave these books a long life. They were much sought after and argued over. and And in some periods you could be burnt at the stake for possessing such books. and These days you can buy books of magic and positive thinking for a relatively low cost, and without much danger to your health. You can even go to seminars on how to see your success, or you can give away your money to people selling seals and hoodoo correspondence courses. and So what has any of this got to do with Istanbul? and At the time of the fall of Constantinople (since called Istanbul) in 1453 thousands of scholars fled to Italy. They went to Florence and to Milan and beyond. Among them were physicians, astronomers and mathematicians. and Marsilio Ficino, whose family fled from Constantinople to Italy, was one the most important figures in the Italian Renaissance. and He was involved, with Cosimo de’Medici, in trying to heal the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.a nd He was also a vegetarian, a priest, and at one point was lucky to escape with his life after being accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII.and ND Ficino’s father was a physician under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici, who took the young man into his household and became the lifelong patron of Marsilio, who was made tutor to his grandson, Lorenzo de’ Medici. and So where did Marsilio get his most important ideas? and Many of his thoughts are common sense now, such as advice to keep your body in good order, but some of his other ideas are more far reaching, even to this day. and Marsilio Ficino and In the Book of Destiny, Marsilio details the links between behavior and consequence. He talks about the list of things that hold sway over a man’s destiny, and He practised astrology too and believed in talismans and symbols. His most famous prediction was that the son of Lorenzo de’Medici would become Pope. He did. and His most famous achievement though was in the blending of the occult, the magical traditions of astrology, with the teaching of the Catholic church. and He wrote a treaty on the Immortality of the Soul, which after his death, became dogma of the Catholic and eventually the Protestant churches. This was a theoretical advancement on the Christian belief that we will all live on after death. His theory synthesized Christianity and Platonism, and created a foundation for the Renaissance. and He subscribed to the notion that there was hope for world renovation...

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My Summer Read & An Interview with Glenn Meade

Posted by on Jul 23, 2011 in Guest Posts

Glenn Meade is one of the most successful Irish authors of this generation. His novels include the international bestsellers The Sands of Sakarra, Snow Wolf and his latest compelling blockbuster The Second Messiah. Earlier this year I asked Glenn some questions about his writing. Here are his answers: 1. Glenn, when did you become interested in writing, what drove you to write your first book? At age four, as I hid under the dining room table in my grandmother’s home in Cabra, I discovered I was in the company of an escaped prisoner from Mountjoy jail (this isn’t fiction, it’s true). It was Stephen’s Day and he’d absconded while out on Christmas parole–he was a friend of my uncle, who suggested he hide in the house–and the Guards were out searching for the escapee along Cabra’s Mulroy Road. He told me to keep quiet and read my Dandy Annual. He gave me sixpence. That’s the first time I realized I could make money from hardbacks, and it’s driven me ever since… 2. How and when did you get your first break, your agent or your publisher, and what was that like? I wrote a number of stage plays, without much success. I’d had great fun in the process–theatre was lots of laughs but often impoverishment. I had always wanted to write a novel so I sat down and set myself a work schedule of writing six days a week until the novel was done. It took me longer than I thought–18 months–and I wrote in in longhand, over 500 pages, which meant eventually having to transcribe in onto a computer. It was damned hard work–I still remember the pain of writing and re-writing, and the exhaustion of trying to write and keep a full time job that often involved 50/60 hours a week. 3. What do you think the secret ingredient of your books is? What is that makes them sell? That’s always a hard one. I’m not sure there is a secret ingredient–there are many ingredients that go into a successful novel but I think above all it’s the emotion the tale imparts and the interest the reader has in your characters. Memorable characters make memorable novels. Characters, plot, emotion. Those are the three main ingredients. What you do with them as a writer sets you apart. 4. Which of your own books are you most pleased with in terms of writing craft and what makes you feel that way? Resurrection Day, was the most complex and involved, and required acres of research material. I look back on it as a big accomplishment. It garnered great reviews and media attention but didn’t sell as well as my other books. Web of Deceit was the most fun to write. Snow Wolf, Sands of Sakkara, and The Second Messiah all gave me pleasure, too–once they were completed. 5:   The Devil’s Disciple shifted your...

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A Byzantine Romance

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in On Writing

Under the Comnenian family, the ruling family of the Byzantine Empire who halted the decline of Byzantium from 1081 to 1185, Byzantine writers in Constantinople reintroduced the ancient Greek romance novel. Their era, the era of the Crusades, was also reflected in these stories. These novels span the gap between the last surviving romance novels of late antiquity and the early medieval romantic revival. Only four of these novels survive today, just one of which is written in prose. And only two have been translated into English. This post will focus on one of those, Drosilla and Charikles, by Niketas Eugenianos, (c 13th c) translated by Joan Burton (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 2004) The story of Drosilla and Charikles is interesting for many reasons. Here is the plot: Belthandros, a Roman (Byzantine) prince and youngest son of king Rhodophilos, quarrels with his father and leaves his home to seek his fortune. After wandering in the hostile lands of Anatolia and dealing with Turkish bandits, he reaches Tarsus in Armenian Cilicia. There he sees a fiery star in the depths of a river (a metaphor for love) and follows it to the north. He finds a castle built of precious gems, which belongs to King Eros. It is full of magnificent statues and automatons. Belthandros leaves his escorts outside and enters the castle alone. There he sees an inscription that tells of his predestined love between him and Chrysantza, the daughter of the king of Great Antioch. He is summoned by the lord of the castle, Eros, who announces to him a beauty contest at which Belthandros must give a wand to the most beautiful among forty princesses. The contest takes place and Belthandros gives the wand to the most beautiful princess, whereupon all that surrounds him suddenly disappears “like a dream”, leaving him alone in the castle. At this point he resolves to go out and seek his princess. After a short journey he arrives in Antioch where he meets the king of the city, is accepted as his liegeman, and soon becomes an intimate of the royal household. There he meets the king’s daughter Chrysantza, whom he recognizes as the princess he chose at the Castle of Eros. Although Chrysantza has never seen him before, she too recognizes him, and the two fall in love. Two years and two months however pass before their first love meeting, which takes place secretly at night in the royal garden. The meeting ends suddenly when a jealous courtier discovers them and Belthandros is put in jail. In order to save her lover’s life, Chrysantza convinces her faithful chambermaid, Phaidrokaza, to take the blame by declaring that the prince had visited her instead. The king believes the story and a forced marriage between Belthandros and Phaidrokaza takes place. The following days the couple continues to meet secretly, but soon the situation becomes unsatisfactory, and they decide to flee, together with the chambermaid and two retainers. On the way, they cross a flooded river, where Phaidrokaza and the two...

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