Bride

1 Feb is St Bridget or St Bride’s Day, as you’ll learn if you listen to the ever excellent Bluirini Bealoidis podcast. Bride has several pasts, being the daughter of night and also the outcast daughter of a nobleman born over a threshold (clear symbolism there for the dawn goddess), but also being the goddess who tends cows and cattle produce, a trait she might have brought from her Indian roots. Indeed, Bride was originally a term meaning “o high one” used in the Vedic prayers.

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Back in Ireland, her feast day is one of those marked in the ancient calendar for a turning of the year (in this case the start of spring), but later given a Christian gloss that tied the festival closely to the symbolism also present in Candlemas.

I’m always fascinated by evidence of communities dealing with the same questions/emotional issues, which is why I’ve paired this medieval Irish poem (harking back to the Vedas) with a photo shoot of the singer Joy Crookes that deliberately calls on the imagery for the goddess Lakshmi, another goddess believed to bless her followers with prosperity.

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“Dawn” –

come into my dark oratory, be welcome the bright morn

and blessed be he who sent you, victorious, self-renewing dawn.

Maiden of good family, sun’s sister, daughter of proud night,

ever welcome the dawn that brings my mass book light.

Touching the face of each house, illumining each kin,

white necked, gold bedecked,

welcome imperious one – come in.

Secret codes

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This Jacobite ring says Redii (I have returned), instead of the usual Reditt (I will return; not to be confused with a popular website) and is thought to refer to Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s secret visit to London in 1750…although not that secret as his hostess was known to be one Lady Primrose.

Modern art in unexpected places

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The church next to the  Plecnik house in Ljubljana, which I think Plecnik must have designed for, as the water fonts were set at two careful heights and the metalwork on the doors and in the hanging boats looked familiar.

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The outside looked pretty ordinary or even dull, but inside were all sorts of intriguing details.

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Podcast of the week

Little Atoms podcast has a jaunty jazz intro and an upbeat welcome from host Neil Dennys before he introduces that week’s speaker. The episodes I’ve listened to have featured authors, but Neil also interviews scientists (hence the name) and based on the talks I have heard he’s a thoughtful interviewer who gives his guests space to speak on their subjects.

Natalie Haynes on her retelling of the Iliad from the women’s’ and goddesses’ perspective (and on the classics generally) is a good listen, as is Kristen Ghodsee on her essay collection Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, an episode that led me to the red century columns as a whole. Next up on my list is Fatima Bhutto whose book “The Runaways” is also on my TBR list.

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The Cauliflower

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A book, and book cover, discovered through the She Designs feed (this one is by the talented Lucy Kim). Heading to everyone’s most reviled book outlet to find a description, I came across this gem of a blurb:

“to the world he is Sri Ramakrishna – godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, guru. To the temple owner, he is a Brahmin chosen to defy tradition. But to Hriday, his nephew, he isn’t simply Uncle – maddening, bewildering Uncle, prone to enter trances at the most inconvenient times, who must be protected not only from jealous enemies but also from that most treasured yet insidious of sulphur-rich vegetables: the cauliflower.”

Speechless.

Ruskin

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A fascinating exhibition at Two Temple Place of Ruskin: the art he collected and that inspired him, the art and collections he made, and the makers today inspired by him. It especially made me want to visit the museum in Sheffield that Ruskin founded and that’s still going strong today.

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