Reflections: My 2018 A to Z Blog Challenge

Hello out there,

I enjoyed the 2018 A to Z Blog Challenge more than 2017. Last year, I just couldn’t break the code. This year, it went well.

I did two challenges during April (as did others like this or this). I wrote poems for the National Poetry Month and mythology for the A to Z Challenge. Unlike last year, I decided not to piggy-back them by using one post for both challenges. Thus, I posted twice on most days and consider my blog stats questionable. Views, likes, and follows were consistent throughout the month.

As with last year, the A to Z reveal in March got a lot of attention. In April I posed to my blog 56 times.

I think my poetry (NaPoWriMo) was favored over the folklore and mythology creatures in A to Z. I got some comments, such as “I did not know that” regarding the myths. I enjoyed most of the research and writing. While I finished both challenges, I was burning out.

On April 1st, I was almost two weeks ahead in writing for A-Z blogs. However, I wrote the NaPoWriMo poems each day based on the midnight prompts 29 out of 30 times. The one day I did not use the prompt, I wrote the poem from a previous idea. As time passed, I lost my advantage on A to Z. By April 29th, I was writing Z for the next day’s final posting. I was ready to stop before the challenges were completed.

While I stopped doing morning pages for April, a good outcome of the April challenges was getting my brain back to daily creative writing and poetry. My writing had slowed to a virtual stop during our move from Washington state to Texas. These challenges helped me to perk-up and I feel more like writing now. I restarted MPs May 2nd.

Since I did two challenges simultaneously and posted twice per day, it makes sense that my 2018 numbers almost doubled what they had been in 2017.

I tried to keep my A-Z posts brief (<600 words) and used at least two graphic images per day. I felt that format might help visitors do a quick reading and move on. When I read other blog posts during April, I did not always finish when they were long reads.

As was the case last year, I was unable to predict the popularity of any post or poem. I am grateful to all who clicked like when they did. And my special thanks to anyone who took the time to comment either in WordPress or on Facebook.

The most interesting thing (it shouldn’t have surprised me) I learned was that people who know me personally prefer when my writing sounds like me (my voice, in their opinion), despite the quality of the writing. It’s as though I’m forgiven when the reader can hear my voice.

I also find that when I can ditch my inner editor for a while, I enjoy writing more. That finding my voice method leads to some “trashy” flapdoodle twaddle, but when I can channel my inner Bukowski, I can feel it (his attitude). I like it. I find pleasure in writing dark, real life, miserable shit, but I avoid it more than I want to. I’m not sure why.

Maybe I am making a mistake allowing my concept of public opinion to dictate my writing style or content. If I was going to publish other than my blog, then that might be wise. But I do this for pleasure.

For now, I need to write from the inner me and stop letting what I think others may think guide me. I’ll work on that. But such letting go isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’m a bit programmed.

Thanks for listening. Look both ways and mind the gaps.

Bill

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A2Z Challenge – Z is for Zeus

Gunna stick with the Greeks, but Romans would be Jupiter.

Zeus is the “Father of Gods and men” who rules the Olympians of Mount Olympus and is the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. He is youngest child of Cronus and Rhea and he married Hera although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione.

He is known for his erotic escapades, but aren’t they all? That horsing around resulted in Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne). With Hera, he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus.

His pappy, Cronus was daddy to several children with Rhea. They were Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. He swallowed them as soon as they were born because Gaia and Uranus said that he was to be overthrown by his son, just as he had previously overthrown Uranus, his own father. That is family drama for Greek gods. There’s more…

When Zeus was about to be born, Rhea and Gaia came up with a plan to save his ass, but in such a way that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which Cronus promptly swallowed.

Zeus and his brothers divvied up the world, Poseidon got the sea, Hades the lower world, and Zeus the heavens and the upper regions. The earth was common to all. Zeus was also the source of all prophetic power, signs, and sounds – good as well as bad.

Why was Zeus the most important god? Because he is the presiding deity of the universe, ruler of the skies and the earth, and was regarded by the Greeks as the god of all-natural phenomena on the sky, the personification of the laws of nature, the ruler of the state, and father of gods and men.

Look both ways and don’t mess with Zeus.
Mind the gaps. Challenge met!

A2Z Challenge: Y is for Yeti

Yeti is a company in Austin that angered the NRA. They make coolers and specialized drink cups. Supporters of the gun lobby are taking their Yeti coolers out to the boonies and literally blowing them up (and recording the deed). Turns out it was a misunderstanding, but this is the NRA. Boom! Oops, too late. See it by clicking here. And I am writing about weird behavior by mythological creatures. Oh, well.

Is blowing this up disrespecting the flag?

In the folklore of Nepal, the Yeti, AKA the Abominable Snowman, is a tall ape-like creature said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. This dude could be confused with Big Foot, or Sasquatch, which is a North American (primarily Pacific Northwest, Washington State or BC, Canada). While they’re not the same, there are similarities (big hairy ape-like). In neither case, has anyone ever produced an example or had one over for pizza and some beers.

Most folks regard the Yeti as a legend for lack of evidence indicating its existence. As with so many things, existence could be proven, but non-existence cannot. Safe to be Yeti (or Big Foot) agnostic. However, here is proof of Sasquatch: I spotted him at the Issaquah Coffee Shop sipping a latte and meeting his neighbors.

Big Foot having his coffee.

Abominable Snowman was coined as a name in 1921, when Charles Howard-Bury led a British expedition that he chronicled in Mount Everest The Reconnaissance. In the book, Howard-Bury accounts crossing an area at 21,000 feet (6,400 meters) where he found footprints that (according to him) “were probably caused by a large ‘loping’ grey wolf, which in the soft snow formed double tracks rather like a those of a bare-footed man”. He added that Sherpa guides volunteered the tracks must be The Wild Man of the Snows.

Maybe they’re cousins or something.

Look both ways for Yeti or Sasquatch and take a photo so we can prove the affirmative. But mind the gaps, particularly crossing the Himalayas at 21,000 feet without oxygen.

 

Poetry — NaPoWriMo: Her Three Cups

The day 27 NaPoWriMo prompt encourages me to pick a tarot card and then to write a poem inspired either by the card or by the images or ideas that are associated with it.

I know very little about tarot cards, and I have never had any kind of reading. I selected a card after reviewing what I could, most of which left me worse off than before I started. I selected the three of cups because after this only three more days will be left in the poetry challenge, three is a prime number, and three has significance in many areas such as religion, superstition, art, and even death. I also like cups, and the three woman pictured seem right. I’ve no idea why I have that thought. I am so not a mystic.

The tarot site said of the card, “Maidens in a garden-ground with cups uplifted, as if pledging one another. Divinatory Meanings: The conclusion of any matter in plenty, perfection and merriment; happy issue, victory, fulfilment, solace, healing, Reversed: Expedition, dispatch, achievement, end. It signifies also the side of excess in physical enjoyment, and the pleasures of the senses.”

Her Three Cups

She held out the cards and said to me,
“You must believe for this to work.”
I smiled to her and looked to see,
“This must work, then I’ll believe.”
Quiet and intense – she made us hot tea.

She poured, “Why so much, you refuse to believe?”
“I accept what is true, I trust in the proof.”
Spread out the cards as she said to me,
“I pick. Minds of deep doubt lead rarely to truth.”
She guided my hand, “This card you must see.”

Three maids with three cups meant nothing to me,
“Thrice blessed or so cursed, look close to this card.
For the rest of your life, the number is three.”
“What is this message? Must this be quite so hard?”
“It is what this is, and what you choose to believe.”

(Bill Reynolds, 4/27/2018)

Look both ways to find the truth.
Mind the gaps in the facts.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

A2Z Challenge: X is for Xochiquetzal

Before I get into this, I want to thank Chris Caldwell for suggesting so many mythological creatures, several of which I have posted so far. He also suggested that look to Aztec mythology for the letter X.

That led me to Xochiquetzal (pronounced Sho.chi.ket.sal), an Aztec goddess associated with fertility, beauty, and female sexual power. She was the protector of young mothers and a patroness of pregnancy, childbirth, and the crafts practiced by women such as weaving and embroidery.

This goddess of sex, crafts, fertility, dance, music, singing, weaving, magic, and love spells holds marigolds as sacred to her.

Xochiquetzal was also the patroness of many other humans; mainly lovers, prostitutes, weavers, and craftspeople. According to some, this was because they could make pleasure or objects that were beautiful to behold.

Xochiquetzal was the goddess who seduced a priest and then turned him into a scorpion as a mark of her power. If you want to make your mark in this world, screw a priest and then turn him into a nasty bug that stings.

She was depicted as incarnated youth, love, and beauty; and was amorously pursued by several Aztec gods. Presumably, they knew about the priest but were unafraid.

Unlike other fertility goddesses, she encouraged love-making for pure pleasure, not reproduction (thus ignoring the Pope). She had the power to forgive human sins that weren’t necessarily of a sexual nature. I am not sure why that matters, but I read it.

She was the wife of the water god, Tlaloc, and consort (girl friend?) to the god, Tezcatlipoca. She lived in the Aztec paradise of Tamoanchan. This goddess-lady was widely worshipped, and many rituals were in her honor, to include incredible acts of sacrifice (of course) and some somber confessions.

Xochiquetzal was a (not the) creator of humans and functioned as an intermediary between them and the other gods. She is frequently referred to as a facet of the female divine goddess, Tonacacíhuatl, from whose womb the first four Aztec gods were born.

Although she was a mother herself, this goddess never grew old and always appeared in the full bloom of youth. However, when one looks at Aztec art and how she was depicted by them, one can see how cultural differences can affect that.

No matter how you see this, look both ways for Aztec gods.
Just don’t try to spell or pronounce their names.
Mind all gaps.

 

A2Z Challenge: W is for Witches

There are big differences between witches and the other 25 folklore creatures I am writing about. The first is, minus a few mythical ones which may not be, witches are human. The second difference is that I am certain some people who declare themselves witches (including friends of mine) will read this blog. Thus, I may well be brought to correction about what I write. Another difference is, along with elves, I think witches are cool. I like them.

The amount of information available, much of it provided by self-identified living witches, is plethoric. Any library could dedicate and fill an entire section to witch-related topics (I bet some do). All this I say both as an excuse for my brief driveling twaddle, and to encourage the curious toward continued exploratory adventure into the worldly subjects of witches and witchcraft and nature and other witch-related things, such as Wicca.

This link will take you to a list of famous witches from various eras. That page will also provide a link (interesting) to related belief systems (religions). And this link will take you a Wiccan page that will explain 15 different types of witches (I didn’t know).

I have written about witches before (this poem, for example), but only fictionally as I battle my own cognitive dissonance with reality, stereotyping, and fiction.

That said, one category of witchery includes mythology and folklore, which is the category for this blog, according to the A-to-Z Challenge list of categories. To keep between the lines of myth and lore, I present five witches for you from mythology and folklore.

From Homer’s Odyssey, a witch named Circe drugged sailors and then turned them into animals, wolves and lions mostly. For me, that explains a lot. Odysseus worked with Circe on the problem and after a year, he and his sailors were free to go back to Ithaca.

The Witch of Endor used the ghost of Samuel to tell King Saul that he would be defeated and killed by the Philistines in battle. However, he was only wounded in the battle, but then he killed himself anyway. He must have been bewitched. Go figure!

Vampires with toe thing.

The Chedipe is a witch who got pissed at men. She rides a tiger into their homes unnoticed. She then sucks the life out of men through their toes. I have no explanation for her sucking toes to death fetish. The guy dies, and she moves on to the next victim. Have a good night and keep your toes covered. Can a witch also be a vampire? I noticed some talk of prostitution in my research.

The witches from Macbeth remind me of a high school skit I was in. These Sisters of Fate were the agents of destruction for Macbeth and all of Scotland. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Hecate is the Greek goddess of witchcraft, witches, sorcery, poisonous plants, and other hocus-pocus stuff. She is still worshipped by some groups and is the source for the concept of a jinx.

Ignorance then. Now?

I cannot imagine this.

Look both ways for witches from the east and the west, the north and south.
Mind the gaps and the pointed hats.

 

A2Z Challenge: V is for Venus

I decided on Venus over vampires for this post because some of you know so much about vampires than I. Seriously, I have considered turtle necks on more than one occasion.

Venus is not just any Roman goddess. She is the. We are talking love, beauty, prosperity, fertility, and victory. And she oversees sex. I could add music, art, and passion. She was so important to Romans that they claimed her as their ancestress. According to mythology, her son Aeneas fled from Troy to Italy. He became the ancestor of Remus and Romulus, who founded Rome. That is a big deal, if you’re a Roman.

So, Venus is mother of Rome, sort of. She has other ties to Greek mythology. The Romans claimed she was the same goddess as Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. For Venus the Romans adopted many Aphrodite symbols, like roses and myrtle. Myrtle was so important to this goddess that even statues of her wore myrtle wreaths.

Venus’s festival happens on the first day of April. It was called the Veneralia. Aside from draping Venus in flowers, followers also carefully washed her statue, and promised to fulfill the moral obligations of good Roman wives and husbands. Many men and women also asked her advice on matters of the heart. I am sure they got dependable answers.

Other symbols of Venus included the scallop shell, doves, dolphins, pomegranates, pearls, mirrors, and girdles. Girdles? Some of these were borrowed from Aphrodite. So was her origin story which claims that was born of seafoam.

There is a ton of artwork depicting Venus. At one point in history painting Venus was so popular, after the classical era, any unclothed female figure came to be called a Venus.

Venus and Mars

Venus had many titles which further demonstrated her importance. Venus Cloacina was the purifier; Venus Felix was the lucky (she could be prayed to for good fortune); Venus Genetrix, mother; Venus Murcia, representing the importance of myrtle to her; Venus Verticordia, the changer of hearts; Venus Victrix, the goddess of victory.

Venus was married to Vulcan, the god of fire and the forge. Oddly, Vulcan was one of the ugliest of the gods. But he loved her so much that he created a golden carriage to pull her around. The carriage was drawn by doves to match Venus’s own beauty.

Venus was also the mother of Cupid, the Roman god of love.

Despite identification with Aphrodite, Venus was a native Roman goddess. Her name is the same as a Roman word for a particular kind of love. That name can be traced all the way back to the language before Latin, to a word meaning “to desire or love”. It’s clear that Venus was with the Romans for a long time.

The planet is named Venus. It was visible in the ancient night sky and because it was so bright and beautiful, it was named Venus. Although Venus is no longer worshiped by large numbers of people, we still remember her in music and in other in art and science thanks to her widespread influence.

(Requested source reference: https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/goddesses/venus/  Greek Gods & Goddesses, February 22, 2017)

Two oldie Venus songs…

Look both ways for the goddess of love. Mind the gaps.