In the Middle Ages of 1226, Jupiter and Saturn came remarkably close together. The Traveling Troubadour Trilogy was set in the Middle Ages. Perhaps, just perhaps now mind you, Ra-me, the Traveling Troubadour was looking at the sky at night and witnessed the two round balls coming close together. You can meet Ra-me at conniesarnold.com. Our hero would have looked at the glowing orbs and felt compelled to compose a ballad. Maybe he called it “Ode to Skylight.” He wouldn’t have known that it should have been entitled “Ode to Dome Shine.”
A Middle Ages Troubadour: Minstrel Singer
Then we move on. Galileo made his first telescope in 1609, but when Jupiter and Saturn passed close again 14 years later, they hardly made a ghost of a showing this time. Don’t know if Galileo saw them or not. It might have been a dark and stormy night.
Now we’re told that Jupiter and Saturn will once more be passing close by each other like they did in the Middle Ages. The figure given us is 0.1 degree apart. The astronomers went on to explain that’s just 1/5 of a full moon diameter. I’m sure that these dimensions mean about as much to most of us in this Modern Age as it would’ve to those in the Middle Ages.
It seems that we are in for a new sky show. The next great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be December 21, 2020, but you can watch them as they are coming together now, near the starry band of the Milky Way.
This is a depiction of a conjunction.
The 21st of this year is also the date of the December solstice.
VIKINGS: THE FIRST PIRATES
In the Middle Ages the Viking sailors were a force to be reckoned with on the waters and by those towns hugging the coastlines. Sailing from Scandinavia, these fierce warriors of the seas were the first known pirates and raiders to plague the Middle Ages. While some set out only to fish or trade, others boarded any ship within their reach, looting and raiding freely from the 8th through the 12th century.
Many Viking warships sported animal figureheads at their bow, and Viking warriors could be seen in helmets adorned by animal horns. Some figureheads are those of women. These figureheads may relate to the role of the ship and were carved on both ends of the boat.
Pirate longships were double-ended, the symmetrical bow and stern allowing the ship to reverse direction quickly without having to turn around. This trait was particularly useful in northern latitudes where icebergs and sea ice made sailing hazardous. The warships were long, narrow, and shallow.
Without maps and compasses, the sailors in these open, wooden boats braved the North Sea and the Baltic. Using landmarks on the coastlines and the sun, they discovered Iceland and North America. They explored rivers flowing through Europe. It can only be left to the imagination as to the number of souls lost in their treacherous travels.
Pirates were free to roam and attack at will. No central power existed in the Middle Ages, and often countries or even landowners hired pirates to add to their own possessions. Rulers and warlords often sent out their own ships for the purpose of piracy.
The threat of walking the plank was one way the captains used to keep control of their crew. If an enemy ship overtook them, that enemy ship confiscated all treasure aboard and hung the offending captain from the yardarm. There were no ‘peacekeepers’ of the sea in the Middle Ages.
In our book, Mudcat the Pirate, we find our hero, Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour, sailing through stormy waters to rescue the maiden kidnapped by Mudcat the Pirate. This pirate, too, has been sailing the coastal towns, stealing their treasures. The book, Mudcat the Pirate, Adventures of Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour the third book in the Ra-me trilogy, can be seen at conniesarnold.com
Book Feature: Blaze the Dragon by Connie Arnold
Arnold’s book Blaze the Dragon is the second book from the Traveling Troubadour trilogy.
The Adventures of Ra-Me the Traveling Troubadour is a series of children’s books written by Connie S. Arnold. It begins with The Patchwork Princess, followed by Blaze the Dragon. The latest installment in the trilogy is the book Mudcat the Pirate. The main protagonist of these stories is a young musician named Ra-Me who roams from place to place searching for adventures. His only weapons are his musical instruments. Since working on these books in 2018, Connie Arnold and her works have come a long way. Her works have gained critical success and positive reviews from a number of children’s books literary circles. Today, ReadersMagnet takes a closer look at Arnold’s book Blaze the Dragon, the second book from the series.
Blaze the Dragon, the Adventures of Ra-Me the Traveling Troubadour
Following the events in the first book (The Patchwork Princess), Ra-Me heads on to another great adventure. After successfully saving the life of the princess from the fierce dragon and the black knight using his songs and musical instruments, Ra-Me gains popularity. In this second book, Ra-me is invited to sing and play in a dragon village. They are celebrating the coming-of-age of Blaze the Dragon. Each dragon in the village goes through a rite of passage when they turn twelve years old. However, the celebration goes awry when Blaze losses his ability to breathe fire. For dragons, breathing fire is the one thing that they must be able to do. Panic sets in the village as each dragon takes turns in making Blaze breathe fire. Their efforts were all in vain. The dragon leader turns to Ra-Me and asks him to play a song that will ease Blaze’s anxiety and make him breathe fire. The chief of dragons, Inferno is pushing Ra-me to do whatever he can so that Blaze can pass the rite of passage and become a true dragon. With the help of his instruments, Ra-Me begins to compose a song with magic and help Blaze breathe fire.
Just like the first and the third book, Connie Arnold’s Blaze the Dragon is filled with adventures and surprises. Blaze the Dragon introduces a whole new set of characters as Ra-Me finds himself in the middle of a dragon village and a looming disaster. Published in 2019, Blaze the Dragon takes young readers into another unforgettable adventure filled with songs and magic.
BEHOLD THE GLASS GLOBE, or keep your eye on the ball
The technical term for gazing into a shiny reflective surface to obtain new information or predicting the future is called “scrying.”
Medieval Times was a period when omens and superstitions abounded. A time when people endeavored to learn their futures by studying the world around them and by divination or looking into the mystical. A leader might seek, through magic, to know if his enemies were within or without. Would his own brother fight to depose him from his throne? Would he be successful conquering a neighboring kingdom? He believed that magic might tell him many things if they could tap into it. Fortune telling was an occupation looked down upon in the Middle Ages, but it was available. Some fortune tellers ‘guessed’ right more than they were wrong and became rich. Others were not so good at guessing and were poor. You could tell them apart by the clothing they wore. The rich wore costly robes of purple and red, the poor costumed like other villagers.
Religious leaders throughout the world considered crystal gazing and scrying a forbidden occult. The Old Testament in the Holy Bible forbids divination, saying “for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deuteronomy 18:14).
The Koran forbids the pagan practice of El-Meysar, a method of magic and divination in Ancient Palestine and Syria. The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns against Spiritualism, using divination or magical practices. In the book “The City of God,” St. Augustine said scrying was “entangled in the deceptive rites of demons who masquerade under the names of angels.” DON’T BE FOOLED.
Being forbidden may have given them a definite allure and certain practices became popular. The balls could be quite beautiful made of quartz crystal. The largest-known true crystal ball is now in the Smithsonian Institution. It weighs 106.75 lbs. Most globes are the size of grapefruits.
One of the most famous crystal balls is the Wicked Witch’s crystal ball from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” which is made of handblown glass. It sold at auction for $129,000.
The above picture is entitled The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse dated 1902. This crystal gazer must have been a successful one since she seems to be very well dressed. Or, perhaps, she was attached to the house of someone important. The Victorian Era ended in 1901, but this picture is reminiscent of that period.
Since the 13th Century, gazing globes have been a very important part of gardens, both spiritually and aesthetically. Many felt that the globe could ward off bad things like disease, evil spirits, attackers and even ghosts. It is known in some legends to keep the witches away.
In our time, we are most familiar with mediums who supposedly connect with the spirit world, calling upon those who have passed from this life to the next to send back information to the living relatives.
Or, there are fortune tellers available in their tents in any carnival, gazing into their “fake” crystal balls. Good news can be yours for a price.
Modern globes in modern gardens no longer have superstitions attached to them, but they continue to grace the landscapes. Gardens now have gazing balls, mostly made of glass and placed on a pedestal. Deep blue and brilliant green seem to be the favorite colors; however, some are made with a mirror-like finish to mimic the original quartz crystal.
In the book, The Patchwork Princess, the Adventures of Ra-me the Traveling Troubadour Book 1, by Connie S. Arnold, King Lister would have had a gazing ball in the garden in the castle’s courtyard. Perhaps, he used it to divine where his kidnapped daughter had been taken.