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Here be the Viking Hoard: The Mystery of the Lewis Chessmen http://wp.me/p41CQf-ItW

Here be the Viking Hoard: The Mystery of the Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessmen were likely to have been made in Trondheim in Norway from walrus ivory. This kind of bone was hard to come across at the time (1150-1200 A.D), as it required hunting during a brief window of time per year in the Arctic Circle, using primitive hunting tools of the time and in…

A frog in a well never knows the vast ocean

A frog in a well never knows the vast ocean

A frog in a well never knows the vast ocean There is an ancient Taoist expression that 'A frog in a well never knows the vast ocean'. This is a reminder to be humble and to accept the world as being vast, with our own knowledge of it limited. We must never assume to have…

Mt Egmont Taranaki from the sky. Copyright Content Catnip 2020: A year of hope, peace and adventure

2020: A year of hope, peace and adventure

Too often when we have busy lives we can easily become over-wrought with anxiety and worries about whether we are doing enough, achieving enough or making the most out of every moment in life. Life becomes a to-do list or a check-list of tasks instead of a pleasure. I vow to listen to my body and mind and take it easy when I need to, just simply being instead of doing or creating things.

Olaus Magnus’s Carta marina of 1539

Ancient word of the day: Kraken

A Kraken is a mythical behemoth. A man-eating and fearsome gigantic cephalopod that drove fear into the hearts of sea-going Scandanavians. The word kraken comes from the Swedish word “krake”, which means twisted. Seen traditionally as a beast to be feared and respected, it also embodied a sense of deep oceanic magic and mystery. Kraken…

Hidden shinto shrine in Kyoto Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

The Enlightenment of Everyday Objects

In ancient Japanese tradition, when a treasured household item reaches the end of usefulness, it is given the proper funerary send off that it deserves. This unusual ritual harks back to two ancient philosophies. The Shinto Animist philosophy that all things alive or otherwise have a soul. And the Nichiren Buddhist philosophy that when a…

Travel: Eileann Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. Copyright Content Catnip 2010

Ancient Word of the Day: Kawaakari

Kawaakari (Japanese) The glow of a river or stream in darkness or dusk, the gleaming surface of a shadowed river (Japanese 川明かり). Kawaakari can refer to the reflection of the moonlight off flowing water, or the gleam of late sun at dusk. Obumbro (Latin) To shadow over and over: to make dark with shadow; to…

The Enlightenment of Everyday Objects

Japan’s 72 gossamer-light and poetic microseasons

The traditional seasons in Japan are marked out by impercetibly small changes in nature across 72 miniature seasons in a year, each lasting 5 days and reflecting the fleeting, impermanent and diaphanous beauty of nature and all of its wonders. There are 24 divisions or sekki in the calendar that are split into 72 kō…

Book Review: The Mind is Flat by Nick Chater

Book Review: The Mind is Flat by Nick Chater

Forget all about the Freudian id, superego and ego vying for your present attention. And forget about Jungian archetypes and stuff randomly bubbling up to the surface of your consciousness. According to Behavioural Psychologist Nick Chater – this doesn’t exist. Instead, what we all have is a flat mind. Or a mind that’s incredibly adept…

Seven Tips for Writing Top Notch Travel Articles http://wp.me/p41CQf-5h

Ancient Word of the Day: Grimmelings

Although similar to the gloaming, grimmelings is a slightly different natural phenomenon at both ends of the rotating sun's traverse across the sky. Grimmelings - The first or last gleams of the day (Scots, esp. Orkney). From the Norwegian "grimla", to glimmer before the eyes, to twinkle or blink. Also "grimlins". Or “the harlot’s hour”:…

Book Review: The Origins of Creativity by Edward O. Wilson

Book Review: The Origins of Creativity by Edward O. Wilson

Ant-lover and Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, Edward O. Wilson has been arguing for the unity and connectedness of all human knowledge for many decades. In his latest book The Origins of Creativity, Wilson singles out creativity as humanity’s most important legacy which has allowed us to evolve and dominate other organisms on…

Celestial ceilings and soaring skies in Poland

The quirky meander through the origins of language in the Polish calendar

With a few exceptions that are Latin, the Polish month names of the year take more from the Pagan world of seasonal changes, rather than from the Latin calendar that we all know and use in English. What's even more interesting is that even though Poland is historically a Catholic country, they chose to distance…

Kyoto river boat ride adventure by Content Catnip TV

Kyoto river boat ride adventure by Content Catnip TV

Arashiyama is a charming little town just on the outskirts of Kyoto that features a lot of highly regarded UNESCO Heritage sites such as the Kinkaku-Ji temple. Although we found that surprisingly the most enjoyable activity was simply floating along the river in an old wooden boat and being guided by two funny guys, along…

Hibernal From Latin hībernālis (“wintry”), from hiems (“winter”), hibernal is term for something that refers to winter. On this, the long, long night of Winter Solistice of the southern hemisphere, the dawns and the gloamings grow ever deeper and more thickly velveteen black. Although this point in time marks the darkest, longest night and from this kernel grows the essence of…

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

In this funny, odd-ball and deeply emotional novel by Japanese debut novelist Sayaka Murata, we follow the book’s heroine Keiko, who is in her late 30’s and is working as a sales assistant in a convenience store, while living unmarried and childless (a mortal sin in Japan). Keiko has been bullied and friendless for most…

Welcome to a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Welcome to a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Looking like a cross between a surreal computer game and an alien planet, Socotra is a relatively unexplored and remote island off the coast of Arabian Peninsula. It's a sparkling diamond of natural diversity and rugged wildness, with over 700 endemic species of flora and fauna. Only a small number of countries have more endemic…