Angelina Kalahari

"Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself." by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Tag: relationships

The Day Of Love – Valentine’s Day

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Tomorrow is the day of love – Valentine’s Day.

I know Valentine’s Day is about romantic love, but being fascinated by the origins of things we take for granted, I discovered that the history of Valentine’s Day is rather obscure, and clouded by all sorts of legends.

The holiday’s roots lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. But Pope Gelasius I changed the pagan festival into a Christian feast day, declaring February 14 the day to celebrate the memory of St. Valentine, a Christian martyr. But which St. Valentine is supposed to be honoured isn’t clear as there were about a dozen of them, the name being a popular one during the fourteenth century. There was even a Pope Valentine.

The festival used to begin when members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathered at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or Lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat for fertility, and a dog for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. The matches often ended in marriage.

But, in fact, the medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer may have invented Valentine’s Day as we understand it today. Chaucer did what many historical romance fiction writers of today do – he often placed his poetic characters into fictitious historical contexts that he represented as real.

Around 1375 Chaucer wrote a poem, “Parliament of Foules,” in which he links a tradition of romantic love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day. No record exists of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to his poem, that received widespread attention. The poem refers to a belief commonly held, especially in France and England, that February the 14th was the beginning of birds’ mating season. His line from the poem, “For this was sent on Seynt Valenteyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate,” is supposed to be the reason for the invention of the holiday as we know it today.

We know that Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages. But written Valentine’s only started to appear after 1400.

Charles, Duke of Orleans, while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415 following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, wrote a poem to his wife. It is the oldest known Valentine still in existence today.  (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)

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Today, Valentine’s greeting cards rival the amount of cards sent out at Christmas.

What is gratitude and why is it important?

 

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According to the Oxford Dictionary, gratitude is the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

But what is it really?

“Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components, which he describes in an essay, Why Gratitude is Good.”

You can read all about his ideas, here http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition

The reason I wanted to write something about Gratitude today is because I feel 2016 was such a strange year. Well, for me, anyway.

Of course, good things have happened to many people, including to me. I published my children’s novel, George And The Gargoyle Who Lived In The Garden in 2016 and I was supported by so many lovely readers who bought it. The novel was even bought by the central library in Enfield, which means that it is available for loan throughout London. I was able to buy my gorgeous new car, my Abarth, that I’d been wanting for ages. My wonderful students have achieved great things which made me very proud. I have been blessed to have amazing friends in my life and I feel that my relationships have deepened with those people who are very important in my life.

I’m truly grateful for things like the fact that I am healthy for the most part, I can move around freely, I can breathe fresh air, I can see, hear, speak, I have a lovely warm home, I have enough food to eat every day, etc. I’m still here and I get another go at another day, and hopefully, another year

For all of those things, and more, I am extremely grateful.

But…

I feel the world has entered a rather darker phase now than I have ever seen before. Strange political events, terrorist activities, the refugee crisis and war has contributed to make me feel this way. It is difficult to remain grateful in the face of such events. As someone who leans towards the metaphysical truths in life, I know that even these disturbing events have their place, but the human, three-dimensional part of me, can’t quite get my head around the state of the world at the moment.

The fact that so many of our great icons, like Alan Rickman, Rick Parfitt, David Bowie, Prince, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, Pete Burns, Terry Wogan, Gene Wilder, Caroline Aherne, Muhammad Ali, Victoria Wood, David Guest, Carrie Fisher and George Michael died last year, among so many other great people, makes me wonder if they all left because they know something we don’t.

The craziness of life can be overwhelming and then, feeling gratitude may be the last thing on our minds, but I feel that gratitude is very important because it allows us to turn bad things and obstacles into opportunities. Gratitude also turns what we have into enough.

Even though some scary things have to carry on from 2016, I trust that 2017 will bring clarity, joy and good fortune to us all. And lots of things to feel grateful for.

Happy Winter Solstice 2016!

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I LOVE the winter solstice.

There are many festivals during the month of December. But the one I like to celebrate, is the winter solstice. I love the idea that we’re experiencing the shortest day of the year on 21 December this year, in the northern hemisphere, at any rate. In the southern hemisphere, the opposite happens as it’s the longest day of their summer.

The word, ‘solstice,’ derives from the Latin, ‘stolstitium,’ meaning ‘sun standing still.’ And in fact, on this day, the Sun does seem to stand still in the Tropic of Capricorn, before it ‘turns around,’ and reverses its direction.

I just love the fact that the day after the winter solstice the days start to lengthen again until the summer solstice. It’s such a joyous reminder that life goes on, no matter what our own personal challenges might be. A promise that summer will return to our lives, no matter the darkness that some of us have to battle.

This time of the year can be particularly challenging for many of us as we face the challenges of being with people we don’t normally spend time with, and perhaps we have difficult relationships with them, or for others it’s the loneliness that this time of the year can bring. It seems such a pivotal time because it’s so close to the new year. It’s a time when many of us make new decisions for our lives in the new year.

This year, for the first time in years and years, my husband will be in London with me, and we will spend the winter solstice and Christmas together. I’m usually on my own at this time of the year, and over the years, have developed my own ritual that I love and look forward to every year. So, to have him here this year will be quite lovely but strange.

It is thought, in times gone by, though, that the winter solstice was indeed more important to people than the summer solstice. It was the time when wine and beer were finally fully fermented and animals were slaughtered. It meant they did not have to be fed through the winter. But it led to big feasts that everyone could look forward to and enjoy.

The winter solstice has been celebrated throughout the ages by many different cultures. Among others, we find Saturnalia in Ancient Rome starting from around 217 BCE that included a huge weeklong feast. The Feast of Yuul in Scandinavia involved putting an entire tree in the fireplace. Yalda, an Ancient Iranian festival celebrates ‘the longest and darkest night of the year,’ and the re-birth of the sun, and during Santo Thomas in Guatemala participants still indulge in the flying pole dance.

Today, in the UK, people flock to Stonehenge in Salisbury, Newgrange in Ireland, or Maeshowe in Scotland to celebrate the re-birth of the sun. All these megalithic monuments clearly align with the sun and face the winter solstice sunrise.

I’d like to wish you all a wonderful winter solstice, however you celebrate it.

Are virtual friends real? What do you think?

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Even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK as our American friends did yesterday, I feel everyone probably should at least look at the people and things they are grateful for. I’m grateful for so many things.

I was asked this question the other day, “Are virtual friends real?”

I’m grateful for all my friends, including my virtual friends, and I am lucky to have several virtual friends whom I’ve never met in real life, but who have become very important to me. Actually, I don’t even like the phrase, virtual friends, but to avoid confusion, I’ll stick to it for this post.

I regularly Skype for two to three hours every week or so with friends I have never actually met before.

A very dear and important virtual friend lives in Texas near a forest. She’s a writer and a musician, and when we Skype, we talk about writerly things and everything else under the sun. Perhaps because we share writing and music (voice, in my case), a love of nature and forests, we have a great understanding of each other, and exchange tips and advise about writing and life. We support each other and share in each other’s lives – our heartaches, sorrows, madness, creativity, lows and highs. She brings such deep joy to my life.

A much loved, treasured and significant virtual friend lives in Atlanta, America. When we Skype, I get a real measure of her essence and energy. I see parts of her home behind her, share in her joy of her dogs, and in her life, in a far more immediate way than only writing can allow. We discuss singing and voice, especially Adam Lambert’s amazing voice, life, our families, our careers, and we share ourselves in the knowledge that everything we tell each other is safe with the other. She is also my most important beta reader, and she enriches my life beyond measure.

Another friend, who lives on a ranch in Texas, became a virtual friend after we met one crazy night in New Orleans at an Adam Lambert show, when we danced together in a gay club until around four o’clock in the morning.  It’s always wonderful to catch up with her and to hear her tales of their goats and horses, and of her lovely family.

In 2015 one of my very first, wonderful, much loved virtual friends suddenly died. I can assure you, my heartache and sadness was very real. I still miss her every day.

I’m immensely grateful for the amazing opportunity to have met these special friends. I cherish them and the time I get to spend with them, in the same way that I value my friends who live near me. We share ourselves and talk on the phone, Skype, via email or Facebook regularly in the same way that friends who live near me, and I, share our lives and talk on the phone, WhatsApp, SMS, or meet up once in a while for lunch, dinner or just a coffee. I really don’t see any difference.

I have lived in other countries, and my friends who were once my real friends there, have since become virtual friends because of distance, but they are nevertheless still very much a part of my life. Thanks to technology, our world is now much smaller, and it’s always an amazing experience to Skype with someone across an ocean in another continent.

 

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