Category Archives: January 2016

Ursa Major – My Favourite Constellation

My Astronomy class on http://www.hogwartsishere.com required me to write an essay on my favourite constellation. It is set up in three parts: first, just what the constellation is and some informational things about it, second, an origin myth surrounding it and third, I got to make up my own creation myth surrounding it! I thought it would make for an interesting blog post! Enjoy!

ursa-major

For my favourite constellation, I have chosen that of Ursa Major, Latin for “The Great She-Bear”. I have chosen this mostly for sentimental reasons in that the asterism known as The Big Dipper (also known as “The Plough”) can be found in it, and this asterism has always been a comfort to me in when searching the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere no matter where in that Hemisphere I may be. It was the first constellation I learned to find in the night sky as a child, and it is still the first I seek at night in present times. Ursa Major, as well as being in the Northern Hemisphere, is bordered by such constellations as Draco (“The Dragon”), Camelopardalis (“The Giraffe”), The Lynx, Leo Minor (“The Little Lion”), Leo (“The Lion”, a member of the Twelve signs of the Zodiac and the star sign of yours truly), Coma Berenices (“Berenice’s Hair”), Canes Venatici (“The Hunting Dogs”), and Boötes (“The Herdsmen”). Quite the menagerie!

There are a lot of origin myths surrounding this constellation, as it has been visible in the night sky for most of recorded history. The Romans had a myth that a nymph of the goddess Diana, named Callisto, was sought after by the king of the gods (the almighty Jupiter). This made Jupiter’s wife, Juno, so jealous that she turned Callisto into a bear. This was the Roman myth surrounding Ursa Major, and that of Ursa Minor is connected in that Callisto encountered her son while in bear form, but he tried to kill her, so to protect them both, Jupiter turned them both into bears and they became Ursas Major and Minor, or The Bears Great and Little.

A wise woman once told me that the Great Bear was once a girl, shy and timid and vulnerable. She would gather berries and plants from the forest to eat, and her hair was as long as time and as black as night. One day, her innocence was stolen from her by a huntsman, who attacked her, cut off her hair to sell,  and left his children in her belly. She gave birth to twins, but one died, so she was fiercely protective over the other, despite the origins of his father. She knew she had to gain strength and cunning to protect herself and her child from the likes of the huntsman, so she began to eat meat, to build muscle and grew her hair again, thick enough to protect her body from harm, teaching her child to do the same. Little did she know that the huntsman had been a werebear, a shapeshifter. Every full moon, her son would transform from a boy into a bear and wreak havoc on the surrounding villages. The girl, now a woman, did all she could to heal the hurts inflicted by her son, giving aid to the wounded and herbs to the sick. But she knew it was not enough.

So one full moon, she followed her son. She watched as he roared and tore apart a young girl the age she had been when she’d become pregnant with him. And she knew what she must do. Just as he was wiping the blood off his muzzle, the young bear’s mother stepped in front of him and held out her arm. Enraged with the fury of bloodlust, he clawed at her chest, striking deep. At that moment, she plunged a dagger through his thick fur into his heart, and they both died.

In the palace of the dead, she was awarded the longest blackest hair of night and the most prominent place in the night sky, to guide and comfort those in need. She is the Great Bear, and the Little Bear is with her, hers to protect us from forever. The stars are her tears, and if one bottles them, one can heal any sickness. So it was told to me, and so I tell it to you now.

 


Husband/Wife Book Reviews – I Review ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell

I just recently finished reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and I highly HIGHLY recommend it. My friend Kyla once described it to me as ‘The perfect novel’, so I immediately bought it from Chapters (I tend to do such things from time to time). Years later, my husband Graham challenged me to read it (I also tend to buy several books that I don’t end up reading – hence the Husband/Wife Book Reviews, where Graham chooses a book for me to read off our shelves and I for him). It will be difficult for me to review this without giving away too many spoilers, so I will try to be as generic as possible while still including the things that made an impression on me.

I am finally done reading it, and it was quite a ride. Mitchell masterfully weaves the theme (continuity, birth and rebirth)  of the entire piece throughout various time periods (past, present and future), not only stylistically in that each story section is a different form of storytelling (from journal to letters to a novel to a screenplay to an interview to an orison), but also in the different spellings of words throughout time and especially in the future.

Vast doesn’t even begin to describe the scope of this novel. I feel I could read it eight times over and only just scratch the surface of everything it addresses. Racism, the fight for supremacy, all manner of government systems, belonging to a tribe of some sort. All of these things are woven throughout the various plots and ingeniously incorporated into each story.

I would include quotes, but I feel they could be spoilers, so I will just apologize for the short review and say, I highly recommend this book. It gets a well deserved 4.5 stars out of 5.cloudatlas


Happy New Year!

Happy 2016, dear Readers! I have so much to tell you!

First of all, my New Year’s Resolutions (which are very simple, so that they are attainable are):

– Read all the books on my Goodreads ‘To-Read’ list (therefore getting me 10 closer to my 25-book reading goal for the year: I like to keep the goal low so I can at least get close to surpassing it). A list of my own personal books I want to read can be found here on my Goodreads ‘To-Read’ list.

– Learn more about herbs and their properties (some major financial setbacks from 2015 have made correspondence to complete my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Winnipeg, as well as completion of a program in Homeopathy from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada both impossible at this point in time, so I have enrolled in the wonderful Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (on the Muggle Net of course) to refresh both my knowledge of the World of Harry Potter and also, of course, to learn some things about plants and stars and other such interesting and useful topics.

ravenclaw

Required essays for my courses (like my upcoming Astronomy one on my favourite constellation) are going to make great blog posts, so I hope you’ll join me for the ride as I learn a bit about the magical side of things. Also, just so none of you witches or wizards out there are too concerned, I’m over 17, so the Ministry of Magic can’t have a Trace put on me if I share some of what I learn, and the School has obtained a special exception from the Ministry that I may practice what I learn in my own home, so this is all legal and above board. 🙂

Also, I have finished Cloud Atlas and intend to have a book review ready by tomorrow (had planned on adding it to this entry but it just doesn’t seem to fit). I’ve kind of been putting off writing the entry because I really enjoyed it, and there is so much to say about it, but so many spoilers I don’t want to give away. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend, like I wrote in one of my recent entries.

As you can see, my depression has lifted for the time being, and I am back to my productive, nightwalking self again. Did Astronomy, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Herbology today. Tomorrow will do History of Magic, Potions, and Transfiguration. And of course my book review.

I might be nerdy, but at least I’m not a Muggle. ;*

Love you all and have a great night/morning.