At the Opera Friday, Jun 29 2007 

Miss Barbara asks for advice:
Dears, I have a serious question to pose. I am going to the opera this Saturday and I just bought a lovely black velvet dress to wear with long black gloves and black velvet pumps and sheer black stockings. My dilemma, and I hope more experienced brunettes out there or perhaps a particularly savvy blonde will be able to rescue me, is: what kind of purse should I carry? I found the most perfect clutch with beaded off-white pearls and silver, but with a black dress? I just don’t know. What do you pettes suggest? Anxiously awaiting your advice.

Miss Olyvya answers:
Oh, Miss Barbara, I hope I have caught you before you left for your opera! The purse problem is simple, darling, it just has to be black, of course, black with silver is fine. Big beads, little beads, heavy satin, even velvet — all will do quite nicely as long as it’s black. And small.

Miss Violetta dreams:
I have always wanted to wear a dramatic hat, voluminous cape, and black satin Chinese-style gown. My long black hair would be elegantly drawn up into a tight bun; long earrings, perhaps black opal (my birthstone) would just graze the middle of my neck. I would enter the lobby of the opera house – all eyes turn to examine this glamorous, mysterious, imposing woman. Perhaps my hat has a bit of netting over the front, just enough to make my facial expressions enigmatic. I have a box all to myself, high-powered binoculars (plated with mother-of-pearl) on a pince-nez. Perhaps I am watching “Gotterdammerung”, losing myself in the heavenly cries of the Rhinemaidens. In an ideal world, all bodies of water would be inhabited by nymphs and mermaids, forever combing their lustrous hair, forever luring travelers into their watery paradise.

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Intelligence and Success Thursday, Jun 28 2007 

This is a commentary on Verse 4 from The Great Hymn to Mahalakshmi

Thou Art the Giver of intelligence and success
And of both worldly enjoyment and liberation
Thou Art the self of mantra,
O Mahalakshmi, obeisance to Thee.

The parallelism of the second and third lines could be lost upon a modern reader, who would be inclined to read intelligence, success and worldly enjoyment as three broadly material goods and liberation as the only spiritual one. Actually they are two matched pairs, for Intelligence, in traditional thought does not mean mere worldly reason, but that transcendent faculty by which we grasp the fundamental Realities behind worldly existence (and which is thus the necessary precursor to reason). Reason is the lunar reflection of the Solar Intelligence. Thus we have an example of what is called chiastic (or X-shaped) parallelism:

Intelligence and liberation (from worldly attachments) belong together, as do success and worldly enjoyment. The importance of this verse is its indication of the balance between worldly and spiritual goods offered by Mahalakshmi. Worldly people pursue only the things of this world. Spiritual ascetics preach a complete abstinence from the world. Worshipping our bounteous Lady, we may combine the two — innocent worldly pleasure and spiritual advancement. In the picture the lotus flowers and the gold coins can be seen as representing the spiritual and worldly gifts respectively.

The statement Thou Art the self of mantra must be understood in the light of the doctrine that a mantra, being a representation of one of the cardinal modifications of the Primordial Sound, embodies the Deity Herself.

For the full hymn and commentary:
The Great Hymn to Mahalakshmi

Thamë and Sithamë Tuesday, Jun 26 2007 

Harmony, Comeliness, Seemliness: such are the watchwords of Aristasian “Law and Order” — a phrase from another land which would not be in the least out of place upon Aristasian lips, but would carry with it quite another colouring. All law, to the Aristasian, is akin to the laws of mathematics or of music — an expression of the underlying harmony of being; all order fundamentally the order of a dance, which is ultimately the great dance of the cosmos, presided over by Sai Thamë, the Angel of Harmony. To an Aristasian, grace in the sense of “gracefulness” is not a different concept from grace in the theological sense. They are intimately bound up one with another – and all of life is intimately bound up with them.

Sithamë (pronounced sit-ah-may) means the special thame of an individual. Thamë (with a small “t”) is a complex word that means “law” and “harmony” and “own-nature”. In a traditional society there is the thamë that is proper to everyone, there is the thamë that is proper to a particular estate (priestesses and intellectuals, nobles, artisans, servants), to a particular job or function (motherhood, musicianship, etc.) There is also the thamë that is special to an individual – her own personal nature, her “calling”, her “way”. This is called her sithamë or own-thamë.

See also:
Thamë, The Golden Order

Once upon a Time Monday, Jun 25 2007 

Miss Victoria Mayhew commented:
Here in Vintesse, as in all Aristasia Pura, we do constantly strive for the higher realm. I think here we are closer to the realm of the Idea – logos, if some of the ladies here prefer that term – than the inhabitants of Telluria are. Having lived for a little while in Telluria
with my cousin Sarah, I cannot help but make that observation. However, I fear that we fortunate maids of Aristasia are still trapped in the cave, watching shadows dance on the wall.

In the Golden Age, we were in the realm of the Ideal, were we not? Then came the Silver Age of Heroines; what we might think of as “once upon a time.” Some parts of the Far  East are surely still thus, although I have never travelled that far and know of no maids from those reaches. My theory is that Aristasia Pura corresponds to the Age of Bronze, when things are still sound although not quite heroic…but Telluria is in the Age of Lead, and is fundamentally shaky and corrupt, in much need of a cleansing and a tearing down for rebuilding. The Wheel turns; all things pass, even the horrors of the Pit.

Miss Alice Trent answered:
Thank you, Miss Mayhew, for your very pertinent comments – as you suggest, phrases like “once upon a time” indicate that a story (normally a traditional fairy tale) is set in “that time”, or “nowever” – in the time that transcends time, but which also may for us be represented by earlier and purer Ages.

Aristasia’s Iron Age is no doubt nearer to the Bronze Age in Telluria, though such things as the development of individualism indicate that it is indeed an Iron Age. Maids in the East do have a mentality closer to that of earlier Ages and are less affected by the changes of the Iron Age which are most typified in the West, which, being the Land of the Setting Sun, will always tend to come into its own in the last Age.

Where Eastern people accept the sovereignty of the West, it is not because they believe that the ways of the West are inherently superior, but because they acknowledge that the time of the West has come and that its sovereignty is a symbolic necessity for this age – a concession more easily granted since the West in Aristasia makes no attempt to interfere with the ways of the East.

A Millinery Primer Part 2: Feminine Glory Sunday, Jun 24 2007 

Miss Norma continues:
Please gather around for the next little lesson in millinery lore. We have already seen how hats are an essential feminine garment, as perfectly feminine as, say, frothy, lacy, silky undies, but with this obvious difference: a hat is an outie, that is, always displayed, worn to be seen, plumage, really, not some delicate secret, soft as eider down, known only to a girl herself (and felt by her always) but glimpsed by others only on the rarest of chances. So if hats are not silky and lacy and frothy and downy-soft (though they sometimes may be), just why, then, are they so very feminine? 

Now being a philosopherette is not an employment prerequisite for a Kadorie junior fashion editrix, so I can make no claims to any particular sagacity, yet it seems to me that hats allow Maid to display, nay, flaunt her essential feminine links to beauty, fecundity, gracefulness … indeed, to the most exalted other-than-Maid aspects of Dea’s creations. So Maid appropriates the most beautiful, not-Maid manifestations of the manifest world – feathers, flowers and fruit, and fur – which for this very reason have found their way into the milliner’s art, so that they might adorn and embellish, indeed crown, the head and brow of Dea’s finest creation – Maid herself. When a girl wears a fine hat she is glorifying Dea by wreathing Her finest creation in the subservient beauty of flowers, feathers and fruit – indeed, Maid would adorn her hats with butterfly wings, too, were they sufficiently durable.

But too many words, not enough pictures, pettes, so here are some proofs from the session Stephanie G. shot today on the hotel veranda, after the sun had gone behind the wall, so that the light would be softer. Please take note of the long, soft, green gloves (how can you miss ’em?)

For Part 1 see A Millinery Primer

Rosa Mundi Friday, Jun 22 2007 

Rosa Mundi, the Festival of the Rose of the World, begins the magical Season of Fire and Rose.  The season is not of a fixed duration, but is generally held to be between Rosa Mundi and the end of the month of Rosea (vide the Aristasian Calendar).

During this season it is a custom to place a single rose on shrines and before statues and pictures of the Mother.

Last year at the Rosa Mundi service, Lhi Raya Chancandre Aquitaine spoke about the Midsummer Solstice as the Southern Gate of Heaven, and told how its symbol is the lark, which ascends vertically from the ground into the clear blue sky, even as the soul may ascend toward Dea.

She also told us the old saying that “the veil between the worlds is thinner at this time”, for midsummer is one of those times of the year when the subtle realms draw closer to the gross realms. That is why a play about the encounter of mortals with fairies was entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

We learned about the Rose as symbol of the Mother and also of Sai Sushuri, who is the Divine Love; and also the Rose as symbol of the world, whose many petals are the many different things of the world, and whose single heart, from which all petals grow, is Dea Herself, “from Whence all comes, to Whom all must return”.

The service for Rosa Mundi will take place at The White Rose Room this Saturday: see The Blue Camellia Club for details

Good Fences, Good Neighbors Thursday, Jun 21 2007 

Miss Amy recommends Kadoria:
The other day, after a full morning, I enjoyed the simple luxury of reading a real magazine from Kadoria (or rather, the Tellurian Kadoria, the 1940s). If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading a real magazine, I would strongly encourage you
to make this effort. For in real magazines, one finds affirmation of goodness, order, beauty, and truth, affirmation and acceptance of these things as normal, and as virtues one should aspire to. After copying down a recipe or two and noting the latest in fashions and hairstyles, I read a touching letter to the editor. A reader had written to discuss how good fences make good neighbors: because it is over a fence that a borrowed cup of sugar passes, and it is over a fence that two friends talk about Little Suzie’s latest violin recital or how best to soothe the new baby’s colic. And it is over a fence that appreciative comments are made on each other’s gardens, and hints are shared about how to economize and make a comfortable home on a family’s limited income. If you have a deep longing for real neighbors, just as I do, I invite you to move to Kadoria and buy a little tract home right next to the one we are going to purchase. There is a perfect white picket fence that separates our houses. You can comment on my tulips just about to bloom, and I’ll compliment your lovely jonquils. When the little ones are asleep, we’ll chat about everything imaginable: how to keep our homes in spit-spot shape the most efficient way possible (have you heard about that astonishing machine that actually washes dishes!), and how to cope with the occasional tantrums of those toddlers we each have. Here, where we will live, in a loving neighborhood that respects goodness and honesty and cleanliness, life is quite lovely; quite lovely indeed. And remember, new neighbor of mine, that a well-run home does not end at the front and back doors; it shines in the face of the clean, well-mannered child living therein, and it blossoms in the heart of that Brunette Mummy, eager to return to the sanctuary of her home after working so hard at the office.

Aristasian Geography: Beyond the Map Tuesday, Jun 19 2007 

This little map shows only the West and hither-East of the Motherland. Its precise accuracy is to be doubted and it should be looked on rather like one of those mediaeval maps that have everything in more or less the right place but are often inaccurate as to precise shapes, sizes and details.

To the North of the map, the land is known to be very inhospitable. Millennia ago dark creatures lurked there and a few may still be there. The Queen of Kadoria was long ago entrusted with the task of maintaining North-Western security, and there is a narrow zone inside the Northern Wastelands, above Quirinelle and Vintesse, maintained by the Kadorian Army with patrols from other national forces. Further east, the borderlands are kept by the Arkadyani. Further east still there is a Great Wall built long ago. This is still kept by companies of archers and there are cavalry posts along the way in case of need. Nowadays these installations (both east and West) serve the function mostly of training camps, teaching the arts of survival and combat in rough country.

Eastward, in the North, the distinction between Arcadia and “Amazonia” becomes less clear. The true Arcadia is a land of reduced technics by Westrenne standards but is a Northern technical enclave in the East. Trains run regularly, the streets of the towns are gas-lit and the postal service (not strictly technical, but always remarked upon as part of the Arcadian passion for organisation) is legendary. In most of the great cities, one can post a letter the in morning, inviting someone to tea that same day, and receive a reply by lunch time.

Because of the non-forceful and somewhat “ritual” nature of Aristasian government, the Eastern boundaries of Arcadia have never been entirely clear, with certain Eastern princesses declaring themselves under the protection of Her Majesty Arkadyana for some purposes and not for others. But a thousand miles after the railway has been replaced by the stage-coach, where the stage itself has become intermittent and the mails are irregular, Arcadia may be said to have more-or-less ended and the government of the local royalty is far more important than any contact with the distant Arkadyani throne. Even here, though, you will find the odd enclave of West Arcadians running schools or trading companies or simply living there from choice, still living in West Arcadian style and dressing for dinner in the formal clothes of High Arcadia.

“Amazonia” as you will no doubt be aware, is not really a nation. It has no single Queen, though the far-Western Area (that shown on the map and a bit beyond) has rulers firmly loyal to the Westrenne Empress (whom they regard as Raihiranya Orvilanhela – the Empress of the World). As with Arcadia, things become less clear-cut as we move eastwards and eventually the border between “Amazonia” and Arcadia disappears as other forms of jurisdiction become more prominent.

We do not know as much about the East as we do about the West. Even in Sai Herthe itself, with the lack of modern communications in the East, it is not always easy to distinguish “hard fact” from “travellers’ tales” – and of course there is less anxiety to do so than there would be in Telluria. Facts are as important for what they have to tell us as they are for their correspondence to the material surfaces of things.

But here are some things we do know: Some way east and south of our map is Rayapurh (Sun-City). Rayapurh was the last of the great Eastern successors to the Cairen (or Caeren) Empire. Rayapurh retains much of its old glory and the question of whether the Empress at Rayapurh is Raihiranya Orvilanhela or whether that title has now passed to the Empress in the West is one that may never be satisfactorily settled. There is a recognition in the East that these latter days are the Time of the Setting Sun (that is, of the West). There are some that call the Empress at Rayapurh the Little Empress of the South and some who hold that she is the true Spiritual Sun of the world.

Incidentally, the Capital of Novaria is called Novarayapurh, and (since Raya also means “Lady”) the name of the Westrenne Imperial Capital, Ladyton, is a translation of Rayapurh.

East of Rayapurh we find many nations and principalities; some former Heiress-Empires of Caere, some continuing to claim Imperial glory in one degree or another; we find different races and peoples like the white-skinned Alvitsenhe (not pinkish-skinned like the Westrennes, but very white and almond-eyed); the great snow-capped mountain ranges, and beyond them Caere itself, its towers still standing but with no claimant to the Imperial Throne. The Chamber of the Empress is kept in its beautiful state, but the High Princess of Caere never uses it. There is no question that the seat of the Mayaraihiranya moved west long ago (that is, long before the time of present Westrenne Empire). Caere is still a great centre, perhaps the great centre of culture in the nether-East.

There are lands beyond Caere, and then the great and small islands of the Estrenne Sea.

To the West of our map it has long been held that the Isles of the Blessed lie and the Jewelled Paradise of the Daughter. It has been considered impious to sail very far beyond the Westrenne shores. Probably one could in fact circumnavigate the globe, and no doubt this prohibition constitutes something of a confusion of Sacred Geography with material geography and is one of the few really “pre-modern” ideas to continue to prevail in the West.

There may, however, be a profound reason for this. The reader cannot by now be unaware that East and West have a symbolic (and therefore ritual) significance beyond their merely spatial reference (or rather because of it, for even the ignorant never cease in reality to move in sacred space). The opening of the “West beyond the West” in Telluria has gone hand in hand with the Rationalist Revolution, and it may be that one is the geographical equivalent and ritual enactment of the other.

However that may be, the further reaches of the Golden Sea are held to be sacred and inviolable, and of the very few who have ever sailed thither, none has returned to tell the tale – nor ever set out with the intention of returning.

The Feminine Sun Sunday, Jun 17 2007 

Amaterasu Omikami

The Flag of Caire and the Aristasian Imperial Flag feature a central Sun, the symbol of Sai Raya. Solar associations are also central to traditional symbolism all over Telluria, for example the lion or the eagle figure in most Western national and imperial emblems. In the East the direct representation of the Sun is found in national emblems, such as that of Japan. The emperor of Japan is the direct ancestor of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, just as the Empress of Aristasia is the direct ancestress of
Sai Raya.

Despite Western familiarity with the patriarchal classical world which sees the sun as masculine and the moon as feminine, this is rather an unusual perspective worldwide. The Sanskrit tradition masculinises both luminaries, while throughout the world the original Feminine Sun is to be found in a very large number of patriarchal cultures, sometimes with a masculine moon.

Japan has already been mentioned. Old Lithuanian songs have a feminine Sun-Deity, which is interesting because Lithuanian is the only still-living Indo-European language as ancient as Sanskrit, with which it shares many features. Its Solar Deity probably represents the pre-masculinised form of the Sun of the Sanskrit tradition. In the Celtic world the Sun Goddess is Grainne or Igraine; in Old Slavonic, Saule; among the ancient Semites, Athtar and various other names. In Germany, popular tradition still refers to Frau Sonne. The very word “Sun” comes from the name of the Scandinavian Sun-Goddess Sunna or Sunnu. Sunday, of course, is Her day. Just as Friday is a contraction of Freya’s day, Sunday is a contraction of Sunna’s Day.

The Wrong World Saturday, Jun 16 2007 

Miss Sakura wrote:

Very early in my life I felt I was in the wrong world and from a young age I had dreams (night dreams and day dreams) of a world where all people were ladies. I felt I had friends in that world and when I layed down I would talk to those friends.

Sometimes when I was very young I believed that if I did this little thing or did not do that thing, it would help or hurt my friends in this other world that was my true home. As I grew a bit older I knew these were just my personal superstitions and I thought that the whole thing about another world might be a fantasy of my own.

But still I felt this world very strongly, and my other-world friends told me when I layed down that I will meet them in this physical world in some years to come. There was one who spoke to me often and said she was in another place in this physical world and she hoped we could meet one day. And others told me there were many of us who belonged not to this earth but to a feminine world, and that we are coming together to make an outpost of the feminine world.

All this I knew before I heard the name of Aristasia. Now I know that Aristasia is the name of the world I had always dreamed of, and I believe some of my friends are here in Aristasia.

I wonder if we will know one another, because there is a veil between the non-physical communication and the physical world. The powerful lady who told me many of these things years ago might be you, my lady. Do you remember telling a small girl that you were in the physical world and we may meet?

No matter. I know my friends are here; old friends and new friends and I know this is my home. Thank you all for being here.

Perhaps we have been sent from the Motherland to be born in this strange world for a purpose? I wonder what that purpose is?

Most important of all is to find our friends again!

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