Ancient word of the day: Thalassophile

Ancient word of the day: Thalassophile

A thalassophile is a lover of the sea or someone who is powerfully drawn to and by the ocean. This ancient word comes from the Ancient Greek θάλασσα (thálassa, “sea”), and φίλος (phílos, “dear, beloved”). I took this photo on Enoshima Island in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan back in early October last year. As the sun…

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

Travel: A visit to Eileann Donan Castle

Eileann Donan Castle is near the Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. I went there once in winter and once at the end of autumn. This place is steeped in ancient mystery, wonder and a sense of the densely lived past. When peering over the loch and the pristine quiet wilderness, you are peering into the deep…

Bas-relief depicting a banquet in the palace of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal

Cooking 4,000 year old Babylonian recipes, how do they taste?

This is one for all the history nerds out and anybody who likes cooking and eating, which probably means you. When you try to recreate an ancient recipe, you may end up with a stinking cesspool of inedible muck or a culinary wonder. Two very famous US universities Harvard and Yale collaborated together to cook…

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you…

An Exquisite Model Book of Calligraphy, 1560

An Exquisite Model Book of Calligraphy, 1560

Have a look at the exquisite pages in Mira calligraphiae monumenta or the Model Book of Calligraphy, which was crafted by Croatian-born mastercraftsman Georg Bocskay, and Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel. This is a real work of art and shows beautiful attention to detail with the gold leaf writing and sublime illustrations of flowers, insects and…

Pele: The Hawaiian Goddess of Fire

Wild woman quote: Love

Thanks Tish for your wonderful reminder the other day of the legendary writer Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. In case you don't know of her, Clarissa wrote the book Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of The Wild Woman Archetype, This book calls upon the eternal feminine qualities in each of us and asks us…

Film Review: Ancient Woods

Film Review: Ancient Woods

I saw this film at the recent New Zealand International Film Festival. The festival has grown and developed over the years and has become quite a magical event. I thoroughly recommend it if you are in Auckland. Ancient Woods is a Lithuanian production and it’s a magical foray into the flora and fauna living in…

Reave A long and low boundary wall or bank, found especially on Dartmoor and in Devon, mostly now sunk back into the landscape. Also, as a verb, to tear, split, divide or cleave. Rof/rifa An Icelandic word meaning to rip or tear something. Rof á landi refers to the rupture of the top soils of…

Summer in Melbourne Part 1: Mushroom Reef Sanctuary, Flinders.

Secrets of the Mornington Peninsula: Mushroom Reef Sanctuary, Flinders.

Following on from my previous post about Tyabb Packing Centre, here is another little known wonder from the Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne where I return to whenever I get the chance.  The Mushroom Reef Sanctuary is home to a gigantic mushroom shaped basalt reef near Flinders in Westernport Bay. Located 86 km from central Melbourne,…

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Pangea: What It Tells Us About Our Fragile Human Lives

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Pangea: What It Tells Us About Our Fragile Human Lives

Around 200 million years ago the world's landmass was contained in one giant supercontinent called Pangea surrounded by a mega ocean. I know that this isn't news but I still find it startling and incredible nonetheless. In the graphic below you can see the composition of Pangea but with the modern countries boundaries superimposed on…

Six Quirky Facts About Red Pandas

Six Quirky Facts About Red Pandas

Red pandas are sweet looking, unobtrusive and stunning mammals that live in the mountainous forests in the Himalayas. With their lustrous and vibrant reddish brown fur and round sweet faces; they have the vague appearance of a fox rather than a Giant Panda. Here's more about a mysterious animal that my boyfriend and I fell…

Book Review: Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini https://wp.me/p41CQf-HI

Book Review: Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini

A surreal art book that redefines the meaning of imagination. Codex Seraphinianus has a lot in common with other bizarre books like the Voynich manuscript. This new edition by Italian publisher Rizzoli was republished in 2013. It has been redesigned by the author Luigi Serafini with includes new illustrations. The fascination and curiosity for Codex…

The Viking Imagination: Medieval Cartography of Scandinavia http://wp.me/p41CQf-Iuf

The Viking Imagination: Medieval Cartography of Scandinavia

Just because I love cartography, here's a couple of remarkable Scandanavian medieval maps. Note the dominance of several kraken and sea monsters off the Norwegian coast and how each country is barely hanging on by a thread because of these menacing beasts. Here be magic, Vikings and mysterious beasts. Velleius Islandia by Abraham Ortellius (1603)…

The Most Beautiful Maps on Earth

Map Porn Part 2: The Most Beautiful Geological Maps on Earth

Where Art Meets Science Scientific visualisations often can look just like objects of visual art. A few weeks ago in Part 1, we looked at how topographical surveys are visualised on both our moon and Jupiter's moon. This time, we are focusing on our own Pale Blue Dot. Both as art and scientific visualisation these…

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…

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal From Berlin

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal Of Berlin Zoo

Roland was a goliath 4,000 pound sea elephant (A.K.A an Elephant Seal Mirunga patagonica. He lived in Berlin Zoo from the late 1920's until his death during the second world war. Here he is getting a snow bath from his handler at the Berlin Zoo (date unknown) In this film you can see his large…

A placid and beautiful Highland Cow, found roaming on the Isle of Skye. Copyright Content Catnip 2010.

Travel: A History of the Beautiful Highland Cow

Highland Cows or as they are commonly known in Scotland Highland Coos are an ancient breed known to have grazed the rugged Scottish landscape since the sixth century. Their genetic origins are still up for debate. They may be native to Scotland or introduced by the Vikings to Great Britain. One scientific train of thought…

Kea - Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

Maori tribes have long held beliefs and customs about the native birds of Aotearoa New Zealand. Birds or Nga Manu had a vital place in Maori tribal life as they provided food, beautiful feathers for adornment and their strengths and personalities were a rich source of metaphor and poetry. Their behaviour was use to predict…