Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monday's Leftovers on Tuesday

So here are some photos from yesterday that had nothing to do with the Memorial Day holiday.

I haven't identified the species on this spider yet; I found her hiding under one of the bridges in the Duck Ponds park, like the troll under the bridge in "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" folktale. She's a beauty, though!

Mother and child in the Redtail nest off of Possum Hollow Rd. The chick is still in the fuzz stage, no feathers as yet.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Here in central Pennsylvania, the war most remembered is the Civil War. Gettysburg is just on the other side of South Mountain from us here in Shippensburg, and here in the Cumberland Valley Chambersburg was burned and Shippensburg occupied by the Confederate Army in the course of Lee's march on the Union forces in Gettysburg. So for this year's Memorial Day post I thought I'd focus on a Civil War theme. Above is the grave of a Grand Army of the Republic soldier in Shippensburg's God's Acre cemetery on Prince St. behind the Vigilant Hose Company. And below is a video which includes an old recording of "Battle Cry of Freedom", the rallying song of the Union forces in the Civil War. The person who posted it says that the singers were veterans of the GAR.

I was going to include Lincoln's Gettysburg address in this, but my Mom and I are making a trip over the mountain to Gettysburg next week, so I'll save it for then. We were contemplating going there today, but there was a chance Sarah Palin was going to come through there on her bus trip, and neither one of us trusted ourselves not to commit mayhem on the evil witch. So next week it is.

Note: Tomorrow I'll be posting some other pictures taken on my walk today, including a new spider macro and a shot of Mama and fuzzy chick Redtail Hawks from the nest on Possum Hollow Rd. I didn't want to interfere with today's special Memorial Day edition, so stay tuned tomorrow!

Photo & text © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Myers Cemetery

I went walking up to Orrstown today, about 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of downtown Shippensburg. There was an old Mennonite/Amish cemetery that popped up in one of my weekly email newsletters from Geocaching.com, and you know me and graveyards, I just had to go find it. So since I had two days off in a row this week and the weather was decent, I picked today to go.

It was a goodish hike up there, and it was a little tough to find, being at the end of a dirt road off Orrstown Rd. in an area where most of the roads off Orrstown Rd. are dirt. But thanks to a kindly Old Order Mennonite lady named Mrs. Zimmerman who I bumped into along the road, I was able to pick the right dirt road. (And isn't it a wonderful coincidence that a Mrs. Zimmerman was my good luck on the birthday of yet another Zimmerman, one Robert, aka Bob Dylan!)

It's fairly plain and undistinguished. Most of the stones in the foreground are earlier, from the 1800s, and are plain, unpolished limestone or granite with simple lettering and little or no ornamentation. They very much reminded me of the Quaker cemetery and gravestones in Newport (which I did a post on 3 years ago) in their simplicity; not much of a surprise there, as both religious groups prize simplicity and plainness above all else, and it was William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, who invited the German Anabaptist Brethren (Amish, Mennonites, German Baptists, etc.) to settle in his colony and escape persecution for their beliefs and lifestyle in the old country.

What really captured my attention was the large number of infant gravestones, something that was also painfully common back in the colonial cemeteries of Newport. It was a tough life back in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and the high infant mortality rate was one sign of that.

Note that the two 20th century stones are a bit more ornamental than the Minich sisters stone of the early 19th century. The stone for the son of Walter and Amanda Gettel (notice the lack of a name for the child even though he was 5 years old) has a characteristic "Pennsylvania Dutch" dove of peace design carved into it. But it's the stone for Dena Viola Meyers that intrigued me the most; the stone's shape is certainly interesting - the heart shape of the upper part of the stone with the palm fronds incised under it - but it's the lettering that's so fascinating. It's pure Art Deco! I suspect the grieving parents got hold of a carver outside their religious community, one who was more up-to-date in his aesthetic influences. It's still very simple lettering, but far more "stylistic" than your average Amish gravestone. I so love anomalies like this!

There were a lot more child and infant graves in this cemetery, but the rest of them were more like the Minich sisters' stone. Some had square tops rather than arched, and most of them were much smaller than the surrounding adult stones. But all of the stones, adult and child, shared the same simplicity seen in the Newport Quaker stones - name and dates, but no epitaph or symbolism. There's such beauty in starkness like that!

And speaking of beauty... I'll leave you with three shots of the beautiful scenery up Orrstown way, the top one looking east toward South Mountain and the bottom two looking west toward Blue Mountain and Broad Mountain (and Big Gap between them). Enjoy!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine!

According to California radio evangelist Harold Camping, all the "true Christians" in the world will be taken up to heaven (called the "Rapture" in traditional Christian eschatology) around suppertime this evening. Of course most rational people just laugh this one off, especially as he's made this same prediction several times before. But I got to thinking; if his "true Christians" are like him and the other types who take this sort of thing seriously, then I hope it happens. Because it'll mean all the disgruntled, misanthropic sourpusses will be gone and the Earth will be left to those of us who actually know how to enjoy life. That sounds good to me! PARTY TIME!

Photo © 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Shadow

I featured this card a couple of years ago as part of the Theme Thursday challenge, but I figured I'd repeat it today as part of the ongoing Tarot series.

The traditional #15 Major Trump card is The Devil; I renamed it after the Jungian archetype The Shadow because the two basically mean the same thing. The shadow represents the repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts lurking in the unconscious mind, the part of ourselves we're reluctant to show, and which we tend to project onto people we don't like. It's almost literally the "shadow" of the persona, the face we show the public. As a culture, we've conveniently projected those parts of human nature that we don't like onto the mythological antithesis of the deity, hence the figure of the Devil, Satan, Ahriman, devils, jinn, etc. He's a convenient scapegoat for avoiding dealing with our own shortcomings.

The interesting thing about the shadow is that Jung stresses the point that it's in the shadow because these are things we repress rather than integrate into the personality. Much of Jungian psychology is concerned with integrating those repressed instincts, compulsions, impulses into a healthy persona. Jung theorized that the repression itself is what makes these energies "evil", and that free from repression they become something positive: aggression becomes optimism, repressed sexuality becomes relationship, violent anger becomes passionate advocacy.

In the end The Shadow (both the archetype and the card) represents transformative energies rather than evil or danger. True, transformation can involve a certain amount of danger, but in the end the transformative energy of The Shadow is more challenge than threat. As you can see, The Shadow can be an interesting card to turn up in a reading!

No music for this one; I just couldn't find something that matched the Jungian concept of "shadow". Oh well...

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring Color

Banks of Dame's Rocket by the cattail swamp along the Dykeman Walking Trail, taken while walking home from work this afternoon. There was a light Spring rain falling at the time.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, May 16, 2011

Country Living

Some scenes from a walk around the house and property today.

The old half-barrels behind the shed.

A scene beside the shed.

Blue Jays congregating on an old log.

An Acadian Flycatcher keeping an eye out for food.

A Chipmunk in the backyard.

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Potpourri

Here are some leftovers, and one conversion, from Friday's photo safari.

One of the bridges over Middle Spring Creek in the Duck Ponds park. I thought it looked very Japanese.

Mama Redtail sitting on her eggs. I saw her and her mate set up house in this tree off Possum Hollow Rd. and I've been keeping track of them ever since. Hopefully I'll get to post some shots of chicks in the nest.

While processing the original color version of this for posting (see my last post), I just knew this would make a great b&w shot. I think I was right!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, May 13, 2011

Scenes from the Macro-World: May Flowers

Yesterday was a picture-perfect Spring day, and the macro lens got quite a workout with all the available small flowers around.

Lily-of-the-Valley in front of the house

Daisy Fleabane along the Dykeman Walking Trail

Thyme-leaved Speedwell in the Duck Ponds park

Yellow Wood Sorrel in the Duck Ponds park

Dame's Rocket along the Dykeman Walking Trail

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Comes to the Duck Ponds

Along with those reflection shots I posted the other day, I also got some more photos while wandering in the Duck Ponds park. Here's a scene you've seen before, Middle Spring Creek running through the park. You've seen it in Autumn and in the Winter; here's what it looks like now:

There were several Baltimore Orioles singing to each other back and forth over the north pond. Here are two shots of the one who was right in the tree overhead, singing away.

And that's all there is for now. There were lots of other birds around singing their hearts out, but they were camera shy. Still, that Oriole was definitely the most colorful of the lot!

Before I go, just a brief note: I just posted an article on Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" on the Just A Song blog, including Whitney Houston's version as well. You are cordially invited to go visit!

© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Re-discovering the Divine Mother in the Torah

[I originally posted this several years ago; I thought I'd post it again for Mother's Day this year.]

Let me show you something interesting.

In the King James Version of the Bible Deuteronomy 32:18 is worded this way: "Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee." Note well the verbs used here: to beget (to father, to sire) and to form. Both masculine expressions of the act of creation.

Why is this interesting? Because here is the Hebrew original from which it was translated:
צור ילדך תשׁי ותשׁכח אל מחללך׃
transliteration: tsuur ylaadkhaa teshii wa-tishkah! el mh!ollekhaa.

A more accurate translation of this would be: "You were unmindful of the Rock that brought you forth, and you forgot the God who labored to give birth to you." The Hebrew verbs used are yalad (to bear, to bring forth) and h!iyl (to writhe, to twist, to be in labor, to give birth to), both feminine expressions of the act of creation.

How did such a discrepancy come about? Ah, therein lies a tale!

Long ago in the mists of time the ancient Hebrews were polytheists, like everyone else in the world at the time. Their monotheism based on the High God YHWH emerged only gradually, and even after it triumphed as the "official" national religion a polytheistic folk religion existed side by side with it. When a scriptural canon was eventually compiled and written, elements of the old polytheism, including expressions of the Divine Mother, survived embedded in the text, due to the magnitude of the job and the wide diversity of the materials being compiled. Deuteronomy 32:18 is an example of those old expressions slipping through the editorial net.

Much later on Christianity, which grew out of Judaism, claimed the Hebrew canon as the "prequel" to their own canon. But Christianity was virulently misogynistic; the early Church Fathers, most notably Augustine of Hippo, even argued that women had no souls. Naturally a religion so anti-female couldn't accommodate the idea of the Divine Feminine, so translations of the Hebrew canon buried the Mother under masculine terminology. This is reflected in the Latin Vulgate translation by St. Jerome - "Deum qui te genuit dereliquisti et oblitus es Domini creatoris tui." - and the English translation of the Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims version, which was the Catholic Church's answer to England's King James translation: "Thou hast forsaken the God that beget thee, and hast forgotten the Lord that created thee."

[Note: Oddly enough the Greek Orthodox canon preserves those expressions of the Divine Feminine. There was a pre-Christian Greek translation of the Tanakh (the Hebrew name for the Hebrew Bible) which came out of Egypt and was called the Septuagint, or LXX, and was intended to be used by Jews living in the Graeco-Roman world outside the traditional Hebrew homeland. The Greek church adopted the LXX as its "Old Testament" unmodified, and so preserved the original intent of the Jewish canon. Deuteronomy 32:18 runs thus in the LXX:
θεον τον γεννησαντα σε εγκατελιπες και επελαθου θεου του τρεφοντος σε
transliteration: theon ton gennesanta se engkatelipes kai epelathou theou tou trephontos se.

This translates as: "The god who brought you forth you abandoned, and you forgot the God who nurtured you." As you can see, the feminine expression survives.]

Since the 1950s Biblical translation has gotten more accurate and honest. The expressions of the Divine Mother embedded in the Hebrew text are being restored, at least in most English translations. The ESV (English Standard Version), which is the 21st Century update of the Revised Standard Version of the 1950s, translates Deuteronomy 32:18 thus: "You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth."

Hopefully Christianity, which has accepted the Father all along, is now beginning to discover the Mother as well. After all, a healthy, functioning Family of Humanity needs both the Mother and the Father, something the rest of us accepted long ago.

© 2008 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, May 06, 2011

Impressionistic Reflections

A slight breeze and a sunny day created these reflections on the north pond in the Duck Ponds park today. I immediately thought of Claude Monet's work, especially his later paintings of the water lily pond in Giverny.

And what better music to go with these than the epitome of musical French Impressionism, Erik Satie's Trois Gymnopédies, in this case performed by pianist Aldo Ciccolini. Enjoy!

Photos © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Destruction, #16 in the Tarot major trumps sequence, is traditionally called The Tower. By either name, the card is all about the dramatic destruction that clears the way for new growth; it clears away the clutter and the waste - old habits, traditions, paths worn to ruts - so that there's room for new growth. It's the prairie fire that clears off the old, dead grass so that new grass and flowers can grow, or the forest fire that clears out the cluttering underbrush, or the volcano that spews hot, destructive lava that eventually becomes rich soil. It's catastrophic, it's painful, it's destructive, but the aftermath is all good. And in the world of archetypes, it's Lord Shiva.

Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, the god who dances to the song of his double-headed drum - dimi, dimi, dimi, taka nan tana keylo - which signals the dissolution of the universe so that a new one can grow in its place.

And that takes us to the music for this one, Jai Uttal's "Hara Shiva Shankara" from his 1995 recording Beggars and Saints. Jai Uttal is an American who discovered Indian music and went to India to study it. After coming back to the US and recording an album - Footprints - with jazz pioneer Don Cherry, he then formed the Pagan Love Orchestra, a conglomeration of very talented multicultural musicians. "Hara Shiva Shankara" is a traditional hymn to Shiva set to a reggae beat. This is one of my favorite songs. Enjoy!

Text and Tarot card artwork & photo © 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger