mary-star-of-the-sea

The Last Jedi Poster - An Astronomical Hint?

The poster of The Last Jedi shows a blood red background with what looks like the constellations of Orion and Scorpio behind Luke and Kylo respectively.

In Greek mythology, the Gods sent a scorpion to kill Orion for his hubris, and both Orion and the Scorpion were placed in the skies by the Gods.

The constellations of Orion and Scorpio are never seen in the sky at the same time. When Scorpio climbs the eastern sky, Orion disappears under the western horizon as if hiding from his killer.

However, every six months the roles get reversed. As Orion rises in the East, Scorpio scurries below the western horizon, as if fleeing from the great hunter he killed who now seeks revenge.

The two are destined to consciously interact, brought together by higher forces,  so that each one brings a dramatic change to the other one.

Luke suffered a “death” of sorts when his jedi order was destroyed, and he went into exile, and is being pursued by Kylo. Could it have been due to some arrogance on Luke’s part in the past?

Does this also mean that the rumors of exploding huts is true, and we’re going to see Luke as the pursuer and Kylo as the pursued in Episode 8?

Where does Rey fit in all this? I believe that Rey (with the glowing lightsaber) represents Polaris, the star that never sets, and all the stars in the Northern sky appear to rotate around it. Polaris is also known by other names such as the Pole Star, Highest Peak of the World Mountain, Lodestar, the Steering Star, the Ship Star and Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) .

The ancient Greek referred to Polaris as Kynosoura, from which the word Cynosure is derived. Cynosure means an object that serves as a focal point of attention and admiration or something that serves to guide.

This reinforces Rey’s role as the central character and hero of this adventure. She will also be the voice of reason and guide to both Kylo and Luke, helping a lost and fractured family find their way.

Versus iTunes #40: Zwan’s “Mary Star of the Sea”

Have you ever had something come up on your iTunes that you completely forgot existed? Having finally switched to an iPod dock in my car instead of a CD player, I was taking a drive when the shuffle reminded me of something I had thought was long out of my heart: Zwan. For those of you who were too young or just don’t remember this happening, Zwan was the band Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin formed after the Smashing Pumpkins broke up in 2000, recruiting members of Slint, A Perfect Circle and Chavez. Releasing only a single album, Zwan was kind of a weird phenomenon, and I can’t help but feel weird about their relative obscurity since the Smashing Pumpkins are still a popular band. When you’ve spent so long as an established musical entity people tend to react weirdly to nay output you might have that deviates from your normal sound, making it difficult for many artists to break out and try new things. But even this argument feels a little weird for Zwan, as Corgan has always been a rather bold experimenter with the musical forms he used and Zwan isn’t so disparate from any of the work he’s ever done. What we got instead was what many people labeled as “happy Smashing Pumpkins,” and after all these years, I can say I am quite happy to make this rediscovery.

The designation of happy for music isn’t really a good qualifier, as in theory, any music can be happy or at least cathartic. What I think would be a designation would be that the music of Zwan is much more pop oriented in sound, shedding a great deal of the levels of dissonance and dreaminess of the Pumpkins’ catalog in favor of a rather bright rock sound. While Billy Corgan has always been a really good pop rock writer, it never really showed through until this point and it’s almost a shame, because the pop he puts out is staggeringly well done. For all the pretention that has gone into Corgan’s work over the years, his work is usually rather well thought out in intention and because of that, has a rather direct honesty in what it translates to the audience. Mary Star of the Sea epitomizes this, hitting the listener with songs that are just masses of catchy but dynamic singing set to gorgeous compositions, at least four of which are about as good as one can hope to make a rock song of this nature. The album opener, “Lyric” sets a great tone for the album as a whole, hitting this odd crackling open strum line, before rolling into pitch perfect guitar punctuation and a rhythm section that feels like it’s thundering at just all the moments of pure glee it can find. The drums act as the tar for this track, with Jimmy Chamberlin managing to cobble together fills rather than a more straight forward sense of rhythm, creating moments of broken tension, when the drums just join back into the mix full force as if they’re the loudest voice that could possibly sing along to the song, giving it a disjointed gallop that manages to stay anchored thanks to the overall lushness of the guitar sound. This is one of those songs that reminds me why Billy Corgan is such an interesting singer, not because of his nasal tone, but because of his ability to make such powerful statements with only a few words. The lyrics are rather staggered in delivery throughout the song making the way he sings them especially important, swelling in tone and volume to elevate rather than capitulate the ideas, the kind of dynamic outpouring of joy that comes from finally saying something you’ve held inside. “Honestly,” the album’s lead single was never a favorite of mine until this past relisten, as it fits closest to the Pumpkins’ sound without ever quite hitting the full majesty of it. But what it does do is create a mass of voices, this strong rise towards everyone joining in to sing along, much the way Queen used employ harmonies, using bassists Paz Lenchantin’s feminine timber not to soften, but to focus upon the openness of the lyrics, making their poignancy all the more inspired. That the song is one of the best uses of the three guitar set-up the band employs doesn’t hurt a thing in the world, as it gives a more blanketed sound overall that never quite become busy. “Yeah!,” is just a simple little song that happens to use starkness in the most appropriate way possible, with Corgan’s voice and a guitar solo being the only really defined musical aspects of the track, but this in and of itself is pop bliss, as it manages to be catchy without indulging into trying to go past the honesty of simply saying and expressing emotion, making the moment when Corgan sing “What I want/You can’t fucking kill,” the perfect launching point for the psychedelic explosion of simplicity that laces the guitar solo. And oh man… “Come With Me”… is easily the dumbest track on the album, feeling like an early era Beatles song, but even this comes together perfectly. It’s the epitome of brightness, sounding like everyone is just so happy to be involved in it, as the guitar and harmonica parts hit this wonderful treble balance. It’s strange to listen to it, because it’s pace is so jaunty, that kind of roll down the country roads step, but it’s what makes stripped down rock work; not an exercise in creating tonal dynamics, but simply creating articulate aural ideas of an emotional state.

But this wouldn’t be enough if the album’s overall message wasn’t so massively hopeful. I could really go into the lyrics for quite a bit, because Billy Corgan is one of my all-time favorite lyricists, but I think the easiest way to go about this is to look at one particular song. The astute listener will notice pretty quickly listening to Mary Star of the Sea that the actual lyrics of the album have a rather spiritual bent to them. It’s never very overt what Corgan is talking about, as he tends to be non-specific regarding his religious leanings, but instead does a stellar job of articulating the idea of faith, that abstract belief in something bigger than the self. That is… until “Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea.” This is the one track on the album that really comes clean in what it says, using the lyrics of a traditional song to plainly state both the inherent conflict and resolution of keeping faith: “Jesus, i’ve taken my cross/All to leave and follow thee/Jesus, i’ve taken my cross/All to leave and follow thee/I’m destitute, despised, forsaken/All to leave and follow thee/And follow thee.” This is another rather stark musical number, balanced on a kind of lava-like guitar sound bubbling up from the bottom and then turning into a bigger, more ominous rhythm driven dynamic, punctuating the inherent forthrightness of the lyrics being delivered. It comes off as rather earnest in its attempt, but this twists about midway through, when the extended breakdown, which really plumbs the depths of psychedelic rock, wrenching into this massively pulled guitar sounds. The whole guitar sounds become so painful and plaintive, dripping out like the slow drops of rain, leading Corgan to come back in, more somber and restrained: “Drift as i dive/Find the deep/Out of reach of all light/Stars, ever far/Listless tides along the changing shore.” The songs becomes very evocative of the sound of drowning, the guitar sliding and bending to match the changes in Corgan’s vocals, with the constant refrains of “Everything feels just like rain,” echoing on and in with such little power put behind them. It’s such an odd dynamic to have the more hopeful section put up front and the more somber section in the back, as if he’s falling out of his ecstacy, but it also makes perfect sense. It’s this point where he comes back to feeling human, to only understanding the world from his viewpoint and  how lowly and encompassing that feels against the idea of the bigger self he had previously. The song still manages a massively triumphant vibe, but tempers it carefully to keep it grounded in reality. This is an album about finding happiness, not just being happy.

But it’s not a perfect album I suppose, as much as I’m starting to think it may be. The biggest complaint I can give well… let me give you an analogy first. You guys have heard Abbey Road right? How it ends in the beautiful sweeping and emotionally dynamic “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/ The End” trio and how that just manages to feel like the perfect encapsulation of the Beatles career/ Well it goes on and the album actually ends with “Her Majesty,” a little pop ditty about being in love with the Queen. It acts as a subversion of the powerful momentum that leaves you wanting following the three songs leading up to it, making the album end weirdly instead of perfectly. Zwan has this same problem as “Come With Me” is the closer rather than “Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea.” I think “Come With Me” is a great song, but it’s not the emotional build-up of the previous track, acting as a more coda/return to general sound than a powerful statement to send the listeners home with. And this is kind of a problem for the album as a whole. It’s not that it’s not cohesive, it’s just that they’re not especially well-put together in flow as they could. “Of a Broken Heart” is a beautiful acoustic number, but feels out of place in its position, seeming to drag the album’s tone midway through without a lot of thought of how it can swing back into the richer emotions later in the album. But even then, I don’t think it really would fit anywhere especially well on the album, seeming to diverge so much that it acts jarring. The attempts to diversify the sound seeming to be more experiments than outright matching tonal imprints. It would be a fine song by itself, just not on this particular album. And… I’m going to throw shade at Paz Lenchantin, who is just not much of a bass player. She has a good sense of swing on the album, but you can actively hear errors in her playing during the album and unless she’s playing by herself, she never really fits into the band. I love her vocal contributions but I wish she had thought her parts out better, which thankfully fall down in the mix for most of the album.

I am super high on this album right now. Maybe it’s just euphoria from re-discovering it after so much time and the fact that it features one of my musical inspirations doesn’t hurt but… I don’t know. After Mellon Collie and before Oceania there was such a lull in the beauty I saw in Corgan’s music, where the albums didn’t feel like they were connecting the same way, but I can see it in Mary Star of the Sea and I love it for that.

Is It Guitar Pornography?: Oh yeah. I love Billy Corgan and I love three guitar bands, so this is right up my alley. It’s solos aren’t as good as some of his other solos, but they’re very great overall and I just adore the lushness of the sound they provide.

Who I’d Recommend It To: People who have had a bad day or a bad time overall, because this album is not only generally bright in sound, but works through issues within songs in a cool way. People who can really concentrate on dynamics, as the really full sound needs some attentions. Fans of the Pumpkins who want to see the main men do some different things with the same kind of sound. Indie nerds wanting to pull an obscure one out but haven’t quite got their own obscurity finding chops together. Fans of vocal harmonies and psychedelic romps into the unseen realms. Those who have never played the bass and never plan to. Those with a song in their hearts and those trying to step outside the box a bit. Sing along folks who just want to jam out a little on a car ride.

An Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

Favorite Track: Jesus, I/Mary Star of the Sea

I think there’s this old soul in me
That likes to go down with her ship
When there were sharks in the water
We clung to the helm of it
Our shaking arms steered us
Right into the thickest bits
“Let’s run em over!” “Let’s plow them down!”
Never knowing little shark fins
Were icebergs all along
I should have presumed
We were doomed
From the “bon voyage”
Why we insisted on sprinting
Headlong into jaws
I’ll never know
But we put ourselves here
Just another sea song
The water trickled in slowly at first
A cruel joke
Compared to our breakneck launch
But now the bulkheads, too, are broke
We’re being buried in boiling sea-glass green
And we’ve taken our fingers out of the holes
For one last smoke
We could jump
We could swim
We could grab onto one of those little shark fins
And you might
But I won’t
It’s by choice to the locker I go
I could have been halfway towards happy
Right now
But I bought this float
And scoffed at the thought of lifeboats
And now, baby, I’m going down
But that doesn’t mean
I won’t hold my breath
Until there’s nothing left in it
—  Maureen Armstrong | “Marie, Marie, Star of the Sea”
Litany of the Holy Name of Mary

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.

Heavenly Father, of Whom Mary is the Daughter, have mercy on us.
Eternal Word, of Whom Mary is the Mother…
Holy Spirit, of Whom Mary is the Spouse…
Divine Trinity, of Whom Mary is the Handmaid…

Mary, Mother of the Living God, pray for us
Mary, Daughter of the Light Eternal…
Mary, our light…
Mary, our sister…
Mary, Flower of Jesse…
Mary, Issue of Kings…
Mary, Chief Work of God…
Mary, the Beloved of God…
Mary, Immaculate Virgin…
Mary, all fair…
Mary, Light in Darkness…
Mary, our sure rest…
Mary, House of God…
Mary, Sanctuary of the Lord…
Mary, Altar of the Divinity…
Mary, Virgin Mother…
Mary, embracing your Infant God…
Mary, reposing with Eternal Wisdom…
Mary, Ocean of Bitterness…
Mary, Star of the Sea…
Mary, suffering with your only Son…
Mary, pierced with a sword of sorrow…
Mary, torn with a cruel wound…
Mary, sorrowful even unto death…
Mary, bereft of all consolation…
Mary, submissive to the law of God…
Mary, standing by the Cross of Jesus…
Mary, Our Lady…
Mary, Our Queen…
Mary, Queen of Glory…
Mary, Glory of the Church Triumphant…
Mary, Blessed Queen…
Mary, Advocate of the Church Militant…
Mary, Queen of Mercy…
Mary, Consoler of the Church Suffering…
Mary, exalted above the angels,
Mary, crowned with twelve stars…
Mary, fair as the moon…
Mary, bright as the sun…
Mary, distinguished above all…
Mary, seated at the right hand of Jesus…
Mary, Our Hope…
Mary, Our Sweetness…
Mary, Glory of Jerusalem…
Mary, Joy of Israel…
Mary, Honor of Our People…
Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception…
Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption…
Mary, Our Lady of Loreto…
Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes…
Mary, Our Lady of Fatima…
Mary, Our Lady of Czestochowa…
Mary, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal…
Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel…
Mary, Our Lady of the Angels…
Mary, Our Lady of Dolors…
Mary, Our Lady of Mercy…
Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary…
Mary, Our Lady of Victory…
Mary, Our Lady of La Trappe…
Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence…

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord Jesus.

Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.

I will declare your name unto my brethren.
I will praise you in the assembly of the faithful.

Let Us Pray.
O Almighty God, Who beholds Thy servants earnestly desiring to place themselves under the shadow of the name and protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, grant, we beseech You, that by her charitable intercession, we may be delivered from all evil on earth, and may arrive at everlasting joys in Heaven, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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Pantalaimon: Derived from the Greek elements παν (pan) meaning “all” and ελεημων (eleemon) meaning “compassionate” (i.e. “mercy for everyone”). Alternatively from παντελεία (panteleya), meaning “perfection.” Saint Pantaleon (also called Panteleimon), a doctor from Asia Minor, is a patron saint of doctors and midwives.

Stelmaria: From Latin Stella Maris, another name for Polaris, the North or Pole Star. Stella Maris was, from an early time, also used as a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in her capacity as a guide and protector of those who travel or seek their livelihoods on the ocean. 

Anfang: German. “start, beginning, origin.” From Middle High German anvanc, anevanc, from Old High German anafang, Old Saxon “clutch, embrace.”

Salcilia: From Latin salsus, “salty” (both literally, and in the sense of witty or funny) and also a verb meaning “preserve with salt; sprinkle salt before a sacrifice.” The -cilia could be from Latin -cil (āre), combining form of calāre, “to summon, convoke.” This servant-boy’s name could therefore figuratively mean “to call for the salt.”

Sophonax: From Greek elements σοφία (sophia) “wisdom” & αναξ (anax) “master, lord.” (Possibly influenced by spelling of Greek σωφρων (sophron) “self-controlled, sensible.”)

Belisaria: Fem. form of Belisarius, the Latinized form of Greek Βελισάριος (Belisarios), possibly from Slavonic Beli-tzar “white prince” (the -sarius element being interpreted as coming from the old Slavic word tsesar or tsesari, which was derived from Caesar, thus giving Belisarius a “princely” connotation). This was the name of a famed Byzantine general and war hero.

It’s been a musical kinda day and I’ve been revisiting the scenes of musical disappointment from my past, and really, I can’t believe I judged Zwan’s album Mary Star of the Sea so harshly. It still holds up really well and is way better than I remember! Honestly is still a bop. Go listen!

Also, distressingly I realised I haven’t been to the Science Museum or Natural History Museum for months. Well maybe like two monthsNext month’s Science Lates is all about gaming though! So I’ll be correcting that soon

Litany of the Holy Name of Mary

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.

Heavenly Father, of Whom Mary is the Daughter, have mercy on us.
Eternal Word, of Whom Mary is the Mother, have mercy on us.
Holy Spirit, of Whom Mary is the spouse, have mercy on us.
Divine Trinity, of Whom Mary is the Handmaid, have mercy on us.

Mary, Mother of the Living God, pray for us. 
Mary, daughter of the Light Eternal, pray for us. 
Mary, our light, pray for us. 
Mary, our sister, pray for us. 
Mary, flower of Jesse, pray for us. 
Mary, issue of kings, pray for us. 
Mary, chief work of God, pray for us. 
Mary, the beloved of God, pray for us. 
Mary, Immaculate Virgin, pray for us. 
Mary, all fair, pray for us. 
Mary, light in darkness, pray for us. 
Mary, our sure rest, pray for us. 
Mary, house of God, pray for us. 
Mary, sanctuary of the Lord, pray for us. 
Mary, altar of the Divinity, pray for us. 
Mary, Virgin Mother, pray for us. 
Mary, embracing your Infant God, pray for us. 
Mary, reposing with Eternal Wisdom, pray for us. 
Mary, ocean of bitterness, pray for us. 
Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us. 
Mary, suffering with your only Son, pray for us. 
Mary, pierced with a sword of sorrow, pray for us. 
Mary, torn with a cruel wound, pray for us. 
Mary, sorrowful even unto death, pray for us. 
Mary, bereft of all consolation, pray for us. 
Mary, submissive to the law of God, pray for us. 
Mary, standing by the Cross of Jesus, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Queen, pray for us. 
Mary, Queen of glory, pray for us. 
Mary glory of the Church Triumphant, pray for us. 
Mary, Blessed Queen, pray for us. 
Mary, advocate of the Church Militant, pray for us. 
Mary, Queen of Mercy, pray for us. 
Mary, consoler of the Church Suffering, pray for us. 
Mary, exalted above the angels, pray for us.
Mary, crowned with twelve stars, pray for us. 
Mary, fair as the moon, pray for us. 
Mary, bright as the sun, pray for us. 
Mary, distinguished above all, pray for us. 
Mary, seated at the right hand of Jesus, pray for us. 
Mary, our hope, pray for us. 
Mary, our sweetness, pray for us. 
Mary, glory of Jerusalem, pray for us. 
Mary, joy of Israel, pray for us. 
Mary, honor of our people, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Loreto, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Czestochowa, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Dolors, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Victory, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of La Trappe, pray for us. 
Mary, Our Lady of Divine Providence, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord Jesus.

Son of Mary, hear us.
Son of Mary, graciously hear us.

I will declare your name unto my brethren.
I will praise you in the assembly of the faithful.

Let Us Pray: 

O Almighty God, Who beholds Thy servants earnestly desiring to place themselves under the shadow of the name and protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, grant, we beseech You, that by her charitable intercession, we may be delivered from all evil on earth, and may arrive at everlasting joys in Heaven, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

Yemayá is the Mother of the Seven Seas, the Creation Goddess, and Orisha of fertility and motherhood. She offers protection to women. She is likened to the patron saints Lady of Regla, and Mary, Star of the Sea.  Often depicted as a mermaid, she is associated with the moon, ocean, and female mysteries. She rules the subconscious and creative endeavors. She is the governess of the household and of matters pertaining to women including childbirth, conception, childhood safety, love, and healing. Extremely compassionate and merciful, Yemayá rules the dreamtime, oversees the Moon, deep secrets, ancient wisdom, salt water, sea shells, and the collective unconscious.According to legend, Yemayá originated in Egypt as the Goddess Isis. It is thought by some that the Nubian slaves who returned to different parts of Africa may have brought Isis with them under the new name of Yemayá. It is said that Yemayá gave birth to the 14 Yoruban Goddesses and Gods. When her uterine waters broke, it caused a great flood creating the oceans. The first human man and woman were borne from her womb.Yemayá goes by a number of different names including Queen of Witches, Mother of Fishes, The Constantly Changing Woman, The Ocean Mother, Mother of Dreams and Secrets, Mother of Pearl, and Yemayá-Olokun (a powerful dream aspect). Yemayá’s counterpart in Vodou is called La Sirene, the mermaid. She is related to Mamiwata (Mamma Water), the African water-spirit. There is a common legend about Yemayá choosing her own students; occasionally someone will disappear, sometimes for seven years, and return with tales of having learned the ways of magick and healing in her undersea dwelling. Her offerings are often doves, but never fish, as these are considered her children.