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…

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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…

Cosmic Cuttlefish by Sylvia Ritter

Ancient words of the day: Glamour and grammar

Glamour is an 18th Century corruption of the word grammar. Or the occult processes that were traditionally associated with learning during the middle ages. The words grammar and glamour are also associated with the word grimoire - a spell-book. Glamourie: witchcraft, magic, fascination or a spell Glaumerify: to cast a spell over or bewich Glamour-bead:…

Got enough books? What a stupid question!

Ancient word of the day: Tsundoku

The Japanese word, “Tsundoku", which literally means "reading pile", dates back all the way to the Meiji era (1868-1912). It's a unique word for which there is no English equivalent. If you're an avid reader though, you will well understand that feeling...it's pure happiness, the feeling of knowing that you have many more books ready…

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Philoxenia comes from Ancient Greek. This literally translates to be "friends with a stranger". Philo - Friend, Xenia - Stranger. In Ancient Greece, hospitality was ranked highly as a personal virtue. Great honour was bestowed upon a guest by a host. If a stranger was to appear on your doorstep in Ancient Greece, you were…

Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Jisei: Haunting Japanese death poems from history

Japan has a long history of jisei, or death poems. Jisei is the “farewell poem to life.” These poems were written by literate people, often monks, royalty or courtiers just before their death.  A Jisei from Prince Otsu in 686 BC is one of the earliest recorded death poems. Not all death poems are written…

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Whelm originates from Old English and it means to overturn or capsize a hollow vessel (a boat, a heart); to bury by wave, flood, storm, avalanche. The etymology is from the Old English hwelfan, to 'upheave'. This explains the modern use of "overwhelmed" and "underwhelmed". No voice divine the storm allay'd, No light propitious shone;…

Ancient word of the day: Dægeseage

Ancient word of the day: Dægeseage

The ancient word of the day is Dægeseage. This is an old English word for daisy. The origin of Dægeseage is literally daisy or day's eye. Which makes sense when you think about the quaint little flower and its tendency to follow the arc of the sun through the sky from dawn to dusk, soaking in as much light and goodness as possible.

Mark Ryden's gloriously uncanny paintings

Ancient word of the day: Uncanny

The ancient word of the day is Uncanny. This is the feeling of encountering a landscape, person or object that is both frightening and unsettlingly dissonant. Freud coined a similar word for this “unheimlich”— which is to say, eerie and both homely and unhomely. I'm sure you would be able to recall some uncanny encounters,…

Ancient word of the day: Celandine

Ancient word of the day: Celandine

This pretty yellow star-like flower is from the buttercup family. It is common to see it flourishing at the beginning of spring in new grasses, hedges and in at the banks of rivers. It blankets forest floors. Commonly thought of as being a weed, it is still absolutely beautiful to behold.

The ancient and elusive fairisle of Hy Brasil

Hy Brasil is a mysterious phantom island that was thought to exist off the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean for hundreds of years. The area being nautically challenging for seafarers, it was an elusive and mysterious place, hailed in pre-Christian times as being the Celtic Elysium or land of promise. During Christian…

I Collect Images of Paintings Like Others Collect Treasures

Ancient word of the day: Cirrocumulus

Origin: 1650s. Cumulus " a heap, pile, mass, surplus " in Latin *keue "to swell" in Latin. Cirrocumulus are flocks of fleecy clouds that whisk past us on a glorious spring day. Often their appearance in the evening foretells of a stormy morning the following day. At least thats old shepherd’s wisdom. German Schäfchenwolken: Little…