What exactly is matcha and why is everyone talking about it? – Eater

“Meet matcha, the current darling of the tea world. This finely milled green tea powder – the staple ingredient upon which traditional Japanese tea ceremonies were built in the 12th century – has seen a surge in popularity recently thanks to its visual appeal, purported health benefits, and beautiful, distinct flavor.” (Kathy YL Chan, in ‘Eater’)

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The Hobbit: 3 days to go

“Hobbit stamps, Hobbit coins and Hobbit markets are all in the works as the city of Wellington, New Zealand, prepares for the world premiere of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ on Nov 28.” (Mark Johanson, writing in the International Business Times, 10 Oct 2012)

3 days to go #1 (25 Nov 2012)

3 days to go #1 (25 Nov 2012)

“The film is the first in a trilogy, with director Peter Jackson returning to JRR Tolkien’s novels after his hit adaptations of Lord Of The Rings.” Subtitled ‘An Unexpected Journey’, the film stars British actors Martin Freeman and Sir Ian McKellen. (BBC News : Entertainment & Arts, 08 Oct 2012)

I snapped these shots this morning on my way to work. (The Embassy Cinema, on Wellington’s Cambridge Terrace, is just a few minutes’ walk from my apartment.)

3 days to go #2 (25 Nov 2012)

3 days to go #2 (25 Nov 2012)

St Francis in New York

Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. (St Francis of Assisi)

This morning, the radio was playing music in honour of St Francis of Assisi, whose Feast Day is 4 October.

“Though he was never ordained to the Catholic priesthood, Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.” (Brady, Ignatius Charles. “Saint Francis of Assisi.” Encyclopædia Britannica Online.)

Catholic and Anglican churches traditionally hold ceremonies for the blessing of animals on the following Sunday.

photo credit: Helena Kubicka

photo credit: Helena Kubicka

New York’s Cathedral Church of St John the Divine is today having its annual festival service, Blessing of the Animals and afternoon Fair.

Many years ago, I caught news footage of a St Francis Day procession at St John’s, New York. And I still thrill remembering the impact it had on me … the music, the dancers, the animals – especially the elephant. It was a majestic circus!

This year, “visitors can expect to see a great variety of animals process up the nave,” the cathedral’s website says, “including a yak, a tortoise, baby swans, and a macaw.”

“The Fair’s themes – celebration of Creation, Compassion, and Faithful Stewardship of the Earth – align with the vision and work of Saint Francis,” the website says.

Aligning with life in 21st century New York, “All bags are subject to security inspection before entering the Cathedral. To avoid a lengthy wait in the line to enter the Cathedral, visitors are encouraged not to bring bags and backpacks. The Cathedral does not have a checkroom.”

St Francis of Assisi, by Cigoli (painted 1597-99)

St Francis of Assisi, by Cigoli

“Preach the gospel always, and when absolutely necessary, use words.” (St Francis of Assisi) 

The painting is by Lodovico Cardi, (known as Cigoli) 1559–1613. St Francis, oil on canvas, 198 x 147 cm, 1597-99, The Hermitage, St Petersburg. 

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

tree with a twist (21 Dec 10)

tree with a twist (21 Dec 10)

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!

(from the German carol, O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum)

Here is one of a number of images of my newly-constructed ‘tree with a twist’ – captured this morning whilst a summer storm was building.

Numerous websites offer a range of materials concerning the origins of the Christmas tree. On one, The Holiday Spot, I found a plasuible summary:

“Like the majority of practices associated with Christmas, the tradition arose from the intermingling of ancient Roman beliefs and the spreading Christian religion. Early Christians believed certain trees flowered unseasonably on Christmas Eve as homage to Jesus’ birth. This belief combined with the Roman practice of decorating their homes with greenery for the New Year formed the basis of our modern fascination with icicles and fancy angel tree toppers.”

Religion vs magic

The only real strength of any religion is derived from its pilfering of Magical doctrine; and, religious persons being by definition entirely unscrupulous, it follows that any given religion is likely to contain scraps of Magical doctrine, filched more or less haphazard from one school or the other as occasion serves. (Aleister Crowley, from Magick Without Tears)

Fascinated by magic from an early age, and at the same time drawn to the Christian liturgy, it was only later that I began to recognise the multi-faceted relationship between the two.

The AC quote is from Ewakening, one of the sites on my blogroll. Thanks.


Every ceremony or rite has a value if it is performed without alteration. A ceremony is a book in which a great deal is written. Anyone who understands can read it. One rite often contains more than a hundred books. (Gurdjieff)

I latched on to ritual very early in life – and was fascinated as much by esoteric magic as by liturgy.

In recent times, my clean-out project has required me to remove from my hallway many of its ceremonial artefacts. But, in essence, my daily rituals are pretty much – as Gurdjieff suggests – performed unaltered.

I’ve been sensing that blog-keeping is becoming a new, essential part of my daily ritual.

PS: The clearing of ceremonial artefacts from my hallway is temporary – allowing clear access between the storage closet and the front door (and the garbage chute).