Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Possibly True Hollywood Story, Part II #ThrowbackThursday

See also A Possibly True Hollywood Story: My Dad's Stories About His Grandfather

In September last year, I shared some family stories that came from my father about his father's father, who was allegedly friends with Buster Crabbe. Today I have a new batch of stories my dad told about himself. To sum up the circumstances briefly:

* March 24, 2014 was my Dad's mom's - Gloria Elaine's - 80th birthday. We had the party on Sunday. Please don't think we ignored her, even though we spent the 24th elsewhere.

* On the 24th, my brother, sister-in-law, my nieces, and my mom hopped on the commuter train into Chicago and went to Shedd Aquarium. My husband and I, and also my dad, had to work Monday.

*After work, hubby, Dad, and I went to the pub for dinner and drinks. We were there almost four hours, during which time many stories were told.

Dad Bill was a police officer in South Bend, Indiana, for 36 years. This is what he looked like as a 21-year-old rookie.

Yep, that's my parents on their wedding day - February 16, 1974.

South Bend is the fifth largest city in Indiana (after Indianapolis, Gary, Evansville, and Fort Wayne), but it's also home to the University of Notre Dame. Having football and basketball arenas, the university is also a concert venue, hosting acts such as U2 and, in the year of my birth, Elvis Presley. Not long before my birthday and his death (not the same day, but kinda close), Elvis performed in South Bend, and my dad worked security.

Elvis in 1970. Public domain
Before the show, Elvis had a hankerin' for some watermelon. It was February, though, and there was no local watermelon to be had. Februaries in South Bend are brutally cold, snowy things. So Elvis sent his private pilot in his private jet to Memphis to fetch him a watermelon from Elvis's fridge. Approximately two hours later, the watermelon arrived, and Elvis enjoyed it on his way to the airport.

He and his best friend (in the 1970s and still today) Tom worked security together at an AC/DC concert, too. One member of the band - he doesn't recall which one - called them "the pigs" (he said something like, "Oy, the pigs are here!") but then offered to share his blunt with them. They politely declined.

AC/DC's Bon Scott, 1979. Public Domain
Dad Bill also had a one-time security gig for Zsa Zsa Gabor. He swears she was one of the nicest people you could ever meet - and, of course, stunningly gorgeous. He escorted her to a steak house and waited outside. But then Zsa Zsa came out and said, "Aren't you going to join us?" And she sat Dad Bill and the other security escort at her table and treated them to a steak dinner.

Zsa Zsa in Lili. Public domain
In the years that Joe Montana was a student at Notre Dame, he lived in an off-campus apartment above a bar. My dad used to hang out at that bar, and the very outgoing, sociable Montana would sometimes invite Dad Bill and his friends up to the apartment. Many, many students - usually of the female variety - would hang out there.

Joe Montana in 2006. Creative Commons image by Phil Hull
Those were some of his best days on the job. He also told us about some of his worst days, days when people committed homicides right in front of him. One summer he witnessed so many, no one else wanted to ride in the squad car with him - he was considered bad luck.

I'm definitely lucky to have him as a dad, though.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Taste of Rome by Lucy Felthouse - #Erotica Excerpt


Book three of the World of Sin series.

Ryan Stonebridge and his friend Kristian Hurst have traveled to London and Paris on their “gap year” adventure, before starting university. Now it’s on to Rome.

The American girls they met in Paris are along for the ride, providing lots of sexy fun for the boys. But as no one in the foursome is looking for commitment, there’s still plenty of scope for hooking up with the locals. Voyeurism, cougars, risky outdoor sex and threesomes abound in the Italian leg of the boys’ European adventure.

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Ryan came to the conclusion that perhaps this journey wasn’t so horrendous after all. He’d been a little miffed that the American girls, Shanna and Taryn, had wanted to tag along from Paris to Rome with him and Kristian. He’d been keen not to end up with any chicks who wanted more than a one night stand, figuring that any romantic entanglements would screw up their footloose and fancy-free gap year trip. Their last year of freedom, without commitment, before they went to University and had to grow up, buckle down.

In the here and now, however, Ryan decided that Shanna actually wasn’t that bad. It seemed she was determined to spice up the never-ending coach trip from Paris to Rome. Eight hundred and seventy miles, thirteen hours. They’d known when they’d booked it that it would be nigh on intolerable, but it was the cheapest way to travel. And having sat in the increasingly stuffy, tiny coach, Ryan could see why. It made cramped seats in coach class on a flight feel like first class.

Shanna had removed her jacket as the crap air-conditioning was utterly failing to cool down the cabin. It had been draped over her lap for a while before she slid it across so it covered part of his too. Ryan frowned, wondering why she thought it was a good idea to make him warmer. He was already melting in the heat. Then she slipped her hand beneath the jacket and moved it over his crotch. She squeezed his flaccid cock, making her intentions absolutely clear. He realized that if he continued to stare down at their laps it would be painfully obvious to anyone who glanced in their direction what they were up to. So he leaned over and kissed Shanna’s cheek, nuzzling her red hair out of the way to murmur into her ear.

“I’m going to try and act natural.” Then, remembering what had happened to him back in London when he’d ended up with cum-filled boxer shorts, he added, “Can you, uh, catch it in a tissue?”
Grinning, Shanna revealed the flimsy white material in her other hand. It appeared she’d already thought of that. Saucy wench—he liked her. She was a fun girl, gorgeous-looking and a great lay. Had things been different, he might have considered pursuing something long-term with her, but it wasn’t going to happen. He and Kristian had this one chance, this few months to live life to the fullest, do what they wanted, do who they wanted, go where they liked, and he wasn’t going to throw it away for a green-eyed, cute-accented chick. No way.

He wasn’t worried about upsetting her, though. He knew that she and her friend had a similar pact and outlook on their European travels. They too were hooking up, having a good time and moving on.

Ryan grinned out of the window. Life was good. A sexy girl was about to get his cock out on a coach and toss him off, and he was heading to the third destination on his gap year adventure. The Italian capital awaited and he couldn’t wait to see what it had in store.

Before he got there, though, he was going to have another orgasm on public transport. First the toilets on the Eurostar, now beneath a jacket on a coach. God, what was it with women and doing it in cramped, risky places? And Blanche—the French bird on the Eurostar—and Shanna weren’t the only ones he was thinking of. He was beginning to forget what it was like to have sex in a bed. Not that he was complaining—Christ, no. If a sexy woman propositioned him, who was he to refuse?

By now Shanna had undone his belt, button and fly and released his cock from his boxers. It had taken a while as she’d had to keep her movements slow, subtle, so no one realized what was happening. As a result of all the fumbling, his dick was rock hard by the time she got it out, and it sprung eagerly into her hand.

She leaned her head on his shoulder and he slipped his arm around her, pulling her close. Anyone who looked now would just see a couple of young people having a cuddle. Or possibly a hot redhead sleeping on the shoulder of a young man who could either be her boyfriend or a total stranger.

Carefully, she began to stroke him, getting into a rhythm that would drive him to climax without anyone knowing.

Ryan turned back to the window, giving the appearance of looking out at the darkening sky. Shanna’s grip tightened, her movements grew faster and he grew closer to coming. He dug his teeth into his bottom lip in an attempt to regain some kind of control. It didn’t help—his hormones raged and the familiar tingle at the base of his spine was a dead giveaway.

Looking as chilled out, as casual as possible, he turned to Shanna and whispered, “You’d better get that tissue ready—otherwise I’m going to make an awful mess.”

She gave a single nod of understanding and moved her other hand beneath the jacket, slowly, languidly. It probably looked as though she was just changing position, rather than anything naughtier. Ryan, however, was at the stage where he didn’t care. If anyone happened to look across, happened to confront them, he’d hold a hand up to keep them quiet until he finished.


Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An Erotic Challenge (Explicit Language)

"Pleasure in the thought of a thing’s existence, if it stimulates desire for that thing, depends upon a person’s susceptibility and the presence of the object. The pleasure is therefore sensual, a matter of feeling and not of mind."

- Translated by Raymond Blakney, and quoted in Blakney’s An Immanuel Kant Reader

So said the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (Critique of Practical Reasoning, 1788). As a philosopher, Kant was interested in the logical underpinnings of morality. Any undergraduate Philosophy major could tell you that Kant’s philosophy was not of the Hedonistic school. Nor was Kant a stripper or a porn star.

If you are an undergraduate Philosophy major, struggling to pay your way through college, then you may well consider getting a part-time job as a stripper or porn star. If you do, and you are a woman, consider using the stage name Immanuela Kunt. Think of Kunt in the Inga Muscio sense*.

But this is not the challenge.

Rather, the challenge is to stimulate desire and provoke the sensual pleasures of the feelings in your lover with a specially prepared meal. This meal is inspired by a game played by Philosophy majors and non-Philosophy majors alike in the dining halls of undergraduate schools across the nation.

If your lover is aroused by women, then you will prepare a meal of foods that evoke the shapes and textures of the vulva and vagina. If your lover is aroused by men, then you will prepare a phallic meal. If your lover is bisexual, then the choice is yours, depending on which feelings and desires you would like to provoke.

Creativity is key. Perhaps the first food that springs to mind when considering the vaginal meal is raw oysters, with their slippery texture and bivalve shape somewhat suggestive of a woman’s parted legs. Oysters alone cannot be the whole meal, though. There must be a variety of foods, all of which suggest female genitals in some way. The leaves of a red cabbage, skillfully arranged on a plate Judy Chicago-style, bring to mind a vulva. Foods with a hole, such as doughnuts and certain breakfast cereals, resemble a vaginal opening, and so much more so if they are pink.

Barbara Walker’s The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets is a treasure trove of inspiration when it comes to foods associated with the female anatomy. Some of its suggestions: eggs, the red fruits (especially apples and pomegranates) traditionally associated with the uterus and/or menstrual blood, and cherries. You may also serve fava beans. Fava is Italian slang for a woman’s genitals, according to the Encyclopedia.

Likewise, it is not enough to simply serve hot dogs or other sausages for the phallic meal. Consider carrots, bananas, cucumbers, zucchinis, and bread sticks. Be creative and diverse. Include not just penis-shaped foods, but also foods whose shape and texture suggest the scrotum and testes, such as figs and prunes. Don’t forget that milk and creamy white foods (ranch dressing, for example, or tapioca pudding) suggest semen. For dessert, consider Twinkies, for their phallic shape and cream filling.

Serve this specially prepared meal to your lover, and watch for the reaction. Pleasure? And if so, is it pleasure of the mind, or of the senses?

Author's Note: I originally wrote this post for a website called "The Erotic Challenge" or something similar, long defunct. Later, it was published in the online magazine Lucrezia, which sadly is also now defunct. - Erin O'Riordan

* Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, 1998

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Rhetta Akamatsu @RhettaA

Today is the birthday of Rhetta Akamatsu, a fellow author I first met on In addition to writing nonfiction, Rhetta is an online journalist, a paranormal investigator, and a lover of the blues. Rhetta didn't ask me to write this blog post - or solicit a blog post from me in any way - but since it's her birthday, I thought it might be nice to share some of her books with the reading public.

Her latest is , subtitled "Women in Photography and Film." The blurb reads:

"Since before the invention of photography, the female form has been used in art and various forms of entertainment because, after all, scantily clad women attract attention. Sex Sells takes a look at women in photos and on film. The book contains no nudity, but is intended for adults and mature young people. From piquant hand-colored "naughty" pictures to biographies of photographers, strippers, pinup girls and movie stars, this lavishly illustrated work will enlighten, amuse and entertain you."

Rhetta's previous books include:

Haunted Marietta (GA) (Haunted America)

Ghost to Coast

T'Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do
'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do, named for a song performed by Bessie Smith (among other great blues women), is about female blues singers of the past and present. Rhetta is the Atlanta Blues Examiner online, and it was from her that I first read about the passing of Etta James.

Happy birthday, Rhetta - and many more!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#YABooks #BookReview Frostbite by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy #2)

SPOILER ALERT! Go away and DO NOT READ if you don't want to know what happens in the second book in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy novel series. This post will discuss the plotline of Frostbite and will include spoilers. You've been warned.

RECAP: I became hooked on reading this series AFTER watching the movie on Valentine's Day. You can read my movie review here and my review of the first book here. I also wrote a post in which I speculated on what, exactly, Lissa's "spirit" magic might be, which you can read here.

In Frostbite, the events of the first book have recently ended, and Rose Hathaway is getting set to take an important Guardian test. The celebrated Guardian who's supposed to administer Rose's test isn't able to, however - he's been attacked and killed by the Strigoi, along with members of the royal Badica family.

To protect the Moroi families from these bold new Strigoi attacks, the Powers That Be at St. Vladimir's move all the students, along with any families who want to go and their Guardians, to a ski resort over the winter holiday. Rose's famous Guardian mother, Janine, shows up to spend Christmas with her daughter; their relationship is strained at best.

Christian Ozera also has a relative show up for the holidays - his aunt Tasha. When Christian's parents became Strigoi, they attempted to kidnap him and turn him when he grew a little older, but Tasha fought them off and thwarted that plan. As a consequence, she has a Strigoi-bite scar on her face. Rose considers Tasha beautiful because of, not despite, this reminder of her bravery.

This bit of ephemera fluttered out of my library copy of Frostbite
Not to say that Rose and Tasha are friends. As Janine is quick to pass along to her daughter, Tasha and Dimitri are old friends, and Tasha would like to hire Dimitri to be her Guardian. That would take him away from St. Vladimir's, but the news gets even worse for Rose: Tasha and Dimitri might decide to have a child Dhampir child together.

I read somewhere - possibly when I added Frostbite on Goodreads - that Dimitri would have a new love interest in this book. I thought maybe it would be one of the female guardians, Tamara or Alberta. In the first book, it's Guardian Alberta who goes with Dimitri to attempt to rescue Lissa from Victor Dashkov. In the movie version, Guardian Alberta (for some reason listed as "Guardian Gabriela" on IMDB) is played by U.K. actress Dominique Tipper.

Absolutely gorgeous human being, am I right? So I thought maybe Dimitri and Alberta would have an attraction to each other. But apparently not.

Rose is crushed at the thought of losing Dimitri. Tasha isn't the only new character introduced, though. We also meet an early-20-something college student and royal Moroi named Adrian Ivashkov. Adrian is very flirtatious with both Rose and Lissa, causing a rift between Lissa and Christian (even though Adrian and Lissa call each other "cousin"). I'm not yet sure what his importance to the 6-book story arc is going to be, but one thing is revealed in this book: Adrian is another Spirit user. He has different abilities than Lissa, though. He can enter Rose's dreams. He doesn't need antidepressant medications like Lissa does, but he does self-medicate with tobacco and alcohol.

Now back to Lissa and Christian for a moment. There's a very awkward scene in the book in which Lissa and Rose's bond means Rose is inside Lissa's head while Lissa and Christian are making love. It's awkward for Rose, of course, and later for Lissa when Rose has to confess it, but it's also beautiful for Lissa and Christian. Rose doesn't know, but I suspect Christian is a virgin. It's rather sweet that Lissa is the experienced one and she gets to initiate Christian.

Meanwhile, Rose considers a more-than-friends relationship with fellow Dhampir Mason. I heard some "alas, poor Mason" rumblings before I started this book, so I suspected things wouldn't end well for him, and not just romantically. Things DON'T end well for Mason romantically, as Rose discovers herself fantasizing about Dimitri while touching Mason.

But then things go from disappointing to disastrous. Mason and some other students go alone after the Strigoi who killed the royals, getting themselves - along with Rose and Christian - held prisoner by the scary vampires and their daywalking human helpers. Christian has to use his fire magic to help Rose escape, and although she earns her first molnija marks for killing two Strigoi, Mason is killed.

The scene that follows is as harrowing and gut-wrenching as Harry Potter's refusing to let go of Cedric Diggory's body. At the end of the book, Rose is walking around in a state of shock, barely able to process her molnija ceremony. I'm not even sure she entirely processes the kiss Dimitri gives her after assuring her he won't be leaving with Tasha, or fathering Tasha's children. Dimitri's last words in this book are "Lots of things," a suggestive expression meaning he has lots of things to teach her both in training practice and otherwise.

The ending of Frostbite wasn't really a cliffhanger. The only thing that wasn't completely wrapped up was whether Christian and Lissa were still fighting or not. They'd better not break up. They're kind of perfect together. I'm already scared because the sixth book is called Last Sacrifice. I hope Richelle Mead doesn't pull a Veronica Roth...

Reverse of library book ephemera
I checked this book out from my local library. I wasn't solicited or obligated to review it in any way. This review represents my own honest opinion.

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“Funny and clever and emotionally hard-hitting” "A perfectly creepy read." Elisa Catrina's debut novel begins as a quirky send-up of vampire romance, but quickly turns sinister. High schooler Stella Ortiz starts dating the mysterious new guy, but her friends are convinced he's bad news: Sebastian misses tons of school, he day-drinks something that smells like pennies, and oh yeah, he's a vampire.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#SexTalkTuesday Welcomes Joan Price As Special Guest Moderator Tuesday March 18

CYBERSPACE (Press Release) – Twitter-based sex chat program Sex Talk Tuesday (#SexTalkTuesday) announced today that it is welcoming award winning writer Joan Price as a special guest moderator for its upcoming show on Tuesday, March 18.

"Having Joan be a guest moderator for Sex Talk Tuesday adds a wonderful new dimension to the many aspects of sexuality the we explore every month.  Sex and aging is such a hot topic, and we are thrilled that we will be able to bring our members and guests the best of the best to answer all their questions. This is going to be a wonderful show," says Angie Rowntree, publisher of

Joan Price calls herself an advocate for ageless sexuality.  Formerly a health and fitness writer, she switched topics in 2005 to senior sex with her spicy memoir, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, to celebrate the joys of older-age sexuality. Questions from Boomers and seniors led to her next book in 2011: Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex, a compilation of 130 reader stories, advice from 45 experts, and Joan’s candid commentary. Naked at Our Age won Outstanding Self-Help Book 2012 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and 2012 Book Award from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.

In 2013, Ageless Erotica was published: a steamy senior sex anthology which Joan conceived and edited. Right now Joan is writing The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty, to be published by Cleis Press in December 2014.  Until then, you can visit Joan’s zesty, award-winning blog about sex and aging,, where Joan continues to talk out loud about aging and sex, partnered or solo.

A fun and provocative Twitter-based chat held every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month from 4pm to 5pm Eastern Standard Time, #SexTalkTuesday is hosted and coordinated by, the Web’s premier destination for erotica made by and for women.

Each session, a guest moderator asks thought-provoking questions to a large and active group of participants, who send hundreds of tweets during each round of #SexTalkTuesday. The result is a lively and entertaining discussion that invites participants to be open and candid with their thoughts and opinions on sex, life, love and the humor of it all, in a way that fosters a supportive and compassionate environment for the conversation.

To participate in Sex Talk Tuesday, go to and use the #SexTalkTuesday hashtag. For more information, or to inquire about serving as a guest moderator, contact Angie Rowntree at editor (at)

Previous #SexTalkTuesday Guests:

Nina Hartley
Desiree Burch

For more info, please contact Brian S. Gross, BSG PR, (818) 340-4422.

Monday, March 17, 2014

#ManCandyMonday Manday Hotties Hop, Irish Edition

La Fhéile Pádraig Shona Daoibh! That's "Happy St. Paddy's Day" in Irish, one of the languages of my ancestors. My dad's family came to the U.S. from Derry/Londonderry (now Northern Ireland, U.K.).

Here are some very Irish hotties. Representing County Cork, the lovely Cillian Murphy.

Born in Germany to a German dad and an Irish mum but raised in County Kerry, Michael Fassbender.

Representing Northern Ireland and County Antrim, Liam Neeson.

Representing County Dublin and originally named Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe, Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Born in County Louth and raised in County Meath, former "James Bond" Pierce Brosnan. I'll be completely honest with you: my favorite one of his movies is Mamma Mia!

Representing Belfast (most of which is in County Antrim, but a little is in County Down), the capital of Northern Ireland, I present Sir Kenneth Branagh. He's Gilderoy Lockhart, he virtually owns Shakespeare, and he directed Thor.

Saving my favorite one for last, representing Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, Gabriel James Byrne. Still my sweet, sweet baby.

This is an Amazon Listmania! list of my favorite Gabriel Byrne movies. The best of the best? The Usual Suspects, Miller's Crossing, and Polish Wedding, although Stigmata will always have a special place in my heart.

Link up with the other participating bloggers here:

Past St. Paddy's Day posts that may interest you:

Great Irish-American Women
The Forgotten Saints of Ireland
To Love an Irishman
Kemberlee Shortland's Irish Pride Trilogy

Enter to win Midsummer Night - Pagan Spirits Book 2 - from Goodreads through March 27

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Snippets from the Writer's Desk

1. Shopping at Barnes and Noble yesterday, I spotted a copy of The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 9 on the shelf. The book's been out since 2010, but I still get excited whenever I see a book with one of my short stories in it on the shelves of a brick-and-mortar book shop.

2. Gayle Pace at the Books, Reviews, Etc. blog wrote a nice review of the revised version of Beltane by me and Tit Elingtin.

Read Gayle's review here. Get your new-and-improved Beltane here.

3. Beltane is Book 1 in the Pagan Spirits Trilogy. Want a chance to win Book 2, Midsummer Night? The Goodreads giveaway is going on through March 26th.

4. It's been officially confirmed that my zombie survivor tale "Wild Ones" will definitely be included in Cleis Press's 2015 anthology of zombie-related erotica Love, Lust and Zombies!

I haven't seen any cover art for it yet.

5. Finally, speaking of anthologies with an Erin O'Riordan short story inside them, it's recently come to my attention that the anthology Happy Endings, edited by Selena Kitt, has a newer and better cover.

This was the old cover. I never loved it. I mean, it's kinda cute, but basically, it's a butt.

I'm a lot happier with the new cover, as found on Amazon:

Much prettier. This anthology contains my m/m short romance "Bat Mitzvah."

Stay tuned tomorrow for a St. Patrick's Day-themed entry into the Manday Hotties Hop.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beware the Ides of March

Why do we say "Beware the Ides of March" when March 15th is approaching? The short answer is, "Shakespeare." The long answer has to do with the ancient Roman calendar. Let's take a look at this expression and where it came from.

The Romans called the Ides of March Idus Martii or Idus Martiae, says the Wikipedia entry. Before the Julian calendar, March - the month dedicated to the war-god Mars - was the first on the Roman calendar. The ancient Romans practiced a number of religious rites, many of them related to New Year celebrations, around the Ides of March.

"Ides" indicates the 13th day of most months, but the 15th day of March, May, June, and October. This observation was based on the lunar calendar, and in ancient times, the Ides of March would have been the night of the first full moon of the new year.

Since the month belonged to Mars, a military parade would have been part of the celebration, according to a Christian Science Monitor article. The ides of any month was usually used to celebrate the god or goddess of that month. February belonged to Juno Februata, so the goddess of marriage would have been celebrated on the 13th, and this probably contributed to our modern holiday of Valentine's Day on February 14th.

Ancient Roman rituals associated with the Ides of March included the sacrifice of a sheep to the chief Roman god Jupiter, the feast of the new year goddess Anna Perenna, and, in later times, a festival known as Mamuralia in which an old man dressed in animal skins, representing the old year, was symbolically driven out. Also in later antiquity, the period between the Ides of March and the Vernal Equinox was sacred to the goddess Cybele and her lover Attis (a version of the Mother Goddess and the Annually Dying God myth). In his Metamorphoses, the poet Ovid identified Anna Parenna as the sister of Dido, the queen of Carthage who appears in The Aeneid of Virgil.

Historically, the Ides of March became associated with ill omen when Julius Caesar was assassinated on that date in the year 44 C.E. The assassination was written about in ancient times by Plutarch and Suetonius, who both report Caesar had been warned by a soothsayer that he would be harmed no later than the Ides of March. Suetonius identifies the soothsayer as Spurinna, which is an Etruscan name, and the Etruscans were known for using the entrails of sheep for divination.

The historical accounts of the time inspired William Shakespeare as he wrote his play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Shakespeare put the words "Beware the Ides of March" in the unnamed soothsayer's mouth.

According to this article, Czar Nicholas II of Russia had a very bad day on March 15, 1917, when he abdicated his throne after his army's defeat by Germany in the First World War. It's interesting to note that the Russian word "czar" is directly related to the Latin word "Caesar." Nicholas II was eventually executed, but not until July 1918.

On his blog Twilight Language (having nothing to do with the Stephenie Meyer book series, alas), learned Fortean researcher Loren Coleman mentions the site on which the soothsayer is said to have made the dire prediction to Caesar is marked by an obelisk. Obelisks, Coleman goes on to say, are linked to ancient Egypt (of course), Free Masonic symbolism, and also "sexual magick." (When "magick" is spelled with a "k" like that, it usually directly or indirectly has something to do with the early 20th century philosophies of Aleister Crowley.)

Unfortunately, the exact connections are not explained in any detail. Maybe the sex magick rituals have to do with the ancient celebrations of Cybele and Attis? Encyclopedia Mythica says, "Along with her consort, the vegetation god Attis, Cybele was worshiped in wild, emotional, bloody, orgiastic, cathartic ceremonies."

This article says initiates into Cybele's cult stood under a wooden grate. A bull was sacrificed on top of the grate, showering the initiate with the blood. (Ew.) Attis was said to have been driven to castrate and kill himself by Cybele's jealousy. Where his blood drops hit the earth, the first violets grew. Cybele's priests, the Gallai, would castrate themselves and afterward assume the social identities of women. Cybele's rituals were actually led by priestesses, though, who had the much less gruesome task of leading ecstatic drumming and dancing.

Turning to my old standby reference book, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker, I learn:

"Egyptians knew the obelisk was intended to represent a giant phallus. It was called the benben-stone, or begetter-stone, similar to the Petra, "the rock that begat thee," as the Bible says. Usually the obelisk was regarded as the erection of the earth god Geb in his perpetual eagerness to mate with the Goddess of Heaven."

The "Goddess of Heaven" whose body literally forms the sky is Nut. She looks like this:
Consciously or unconsciously, Beyonce seems to be imitating the Egyptian goddess in one of her many outfits for her Mrs. Carter tour. But I digress.
According to Walker, Egyptian pharaohs, who thought of themselves as gods, sometimes claimed descent from Nut. As Ancient History Encyclopedia will tell you, Julius Caesar himself was said to be descended from a Roman goddess, namely Venus. Venus seduced Prince Anchises of Dardania, an ally of the Trojans. They produced Aeneas, the hero of Virgil's Aeneid. Aeneas's descendants founded Rome and the family line Julia, Caesar's family line.

So here again we have god-goddess pairings: Caesar is a descendant of Venus, killed on a day sacred to Venus's lover Mars. The day is also sacred to Anna Parenna, the goddess who is the sister of Dido of Carthage, the lover of Caesar's ancestor Aeneas.

In her entry on Venus, Walker writes, "Venery used to mean hunting; for, like her Eastern counterpart Artemis, Venus was once a Lady of the Animals, and her Horned God - Adonis, both the hunter and the sacrificial stag - became venison, which meant 'Venus's son.'"

I don't think the suggestion was that the Romans ate Julius Caesar literally (ew), but religious Romans may have thought of his murder as a symbolic sacrifice. "Venery" is now used to mean "sexual indulgence," by the way - which I suppose is a different form of "hunting."

Walker's entry on Adonis makes the following associations:

- Adonis was the same god as Anchises, who was castrated after his mating with Venus.

- Adonis was castrated by a priest of Venus in the guise of a wild boar.

- Where Adonis's blood drops hit the earth, red anemones grew.

- The castration myth is symbolic of the reaping of grain at harvest time.

About Attis, Walker writes that:

- The cult of Attis and Cybele was brought over to Rome from Phrygia (modern Turkey) in 204 BCE.

- Cybele's temple was located at what is now Vatican Hill. She was worshiped by Augustus Caesar, of whom Julius Caesar was a great-uncle on his mother's side.

- The "passion" of Attis was celebrated on March 25, exactly nine months before his December 25 birth.

- March 25 was also the day the great goddess Juno was said to have given birth to Mars.

- Attis rises from the dead three days after his sacrificial death, celebrated by the Carnival-like (which is to say, Mardi Gras-like) Hilaria festival.

- Ultimately, the Indo-European cultural roots of the springtime Hilaria festival may be the same as the Hindu festival of Holi.

Ancient Euro-Africo-Asian mythologies: what a tangled web. Fascinating, though.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

#YABookReview 'Wuthering High' by Cara Lockwood

Wuthering High (Bard Academy, #1)Wuthering High by Cara Lockwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this from Better World Books because it combines two things I love: Cara Lockwood's writing and what's probably my all-time favorite book, Wuthering Heights. I've previously enjoyed Lockwood's Every Demon Has His Day and Can't Teach an Old Demon New Tricks (you can read my expanded review here on this blog), both of which were silly, fun chick lit and fairly quick, easy reads. This was similar, except the protagonist is 15 years old, placing it more in the young adult than chick lit categories (not that the two are mutually exclusive).

Teenage Miranda has made some bad choices, including one that resulted in her father's BMW colliding with a tree. As a result, Miranda's dad sends her off to a mysterious island. No, the plot doesn't exactly mirror Shakespeare's The Tempest, nor is it a modern retelling of Wuthering Heights like The Heights.

Instead, what this book has is some startling appearances of long-dead novelists, Heathcliff emerging from the pages of the novel from whence he came, a missing girl who may or may not be a modern incarnation of Catherine Earnshaw, a serial arsonist who seems strangely like Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre, a Satan-worshiping roommate, and possibly a vampire.

This book reminded me a little of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, a little of Eileen Favorite's The Heroines (another book in which Heathcliff comes out of the novel and into reality - read the review here on this blog), and a little of Marlene Perez's "Dead Is" series. I like all those things. When I read the first few pages, I wasn't sure I was going to like Miranda (she seems a little spoiled at first, but she's really misunderstood), but she quickly grew on me. I wasn't sure I would like a young adult book that had the MTV logo on the front cover, but it was better than expected. In fact, I think I liked this even better than Lockwood's chick lit series.

This is the first in a 4-part series by Lockwood. I haven't yet decided whether or not I'll go on the read the rest of the series.

I purchased this book with my own funds and was not asked or obligated in any way to review it. This review represents my own honest opinion.
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