The Green Man, Venus and Their Place in Modern Life

Tannhäuser and Venus – Still Showstoppers

The recently finished Tannhäuser revival at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, broke all daftness records, but is the production we shall remember. Was it the 40 hospital beds on stage for the exhausted returning pilgrims, or the 20 suits of armour that were raised and lowered randomly, throughout the 3 hours – sometimes replaced with a set of devils? Silly theatre can be so powerful!

During the overture, Tannhäuser, (played by a stunt man) is lowered the 50 feet or so from the top of the stage, waving arms and legs. He takes several minutes to descend into a sea of female flesh, albeit with artificial breasts. I assume, there cannot be a female chorus, so well endowed, with not a wobble in sight. I wondered what the women would do with Tannhäuser’s full suit of armour once he was beneath the sea of limbs. I wasn’t disappointed. During the crescendo of brass, bits of armour were thrown up from the depths and then appeared the real, exhausted Tannhäuser, ready for his domestic with Venus.

Why is Venus important to us in 2017, or why was she important in 12th century Christian Germany, or 19th century Paris? Why is she a key figure in Wagner’s opera, Tannhäuser? I believe it is because she is a good vehicle for the artist to express creativity and challenge popular ideas. That is the role of the artist.

Pagans helped us to Chrstianity

We can understand why Wagner uses Venus as a dramatic vehicle, but why does St. Chad’s Church in Harpswell have William Harrington, (rector, died 1350), resting on a superb Green Man? The Cathedral in Würzburg has a Green Man overlooking God. Nicosia churches have multiple Green Men. The 13th century minstrels were fascinated by Venus.

Is there a connection? Is there an explanation?

Waldemar Januszczak has an offering I’d like to test. In his fascinating BBC4 program on the Dark Ages, he pointed out that early portrayals of Christ gave him a feminine, or at least very boyish face. Only later, with the Mary cult well established in Christianity, do Jesus depictions move toward the heroic Jupiter-face. Waldemar explains thus. Early Christianity had an image problem – how to appeal to the 50% of the population, who were women. To get around this, artists often went for an androgynous Jesus. The later, post Mary-Cult version of Jesus with Jupiter’s face, was designed to bring the pagans on board, without detaching them from their old religion.

Once one starts looking, Waldemar’s argument stands up in many scenarios.

St. George’s female side is beautifully portrayed in any number of early 15th century sculptures by Bernd Notke. The Katherine Church in Lübeck has plaster copies. One of them cannot be a mistake. George is more feminine than the princess waiting to be saved from the dragon. Is the female George another example of the boyish Jesus?

It didn’t happen in a day.

During early Christianity, there were still pockets of pagan sympathy, and belief in gods such as Venus was a staging post between pagan and full Christian. Venus helped keep new Christians in their old comfort zone. Minstrels and poets used her to express sides of their characters, that were no longer acceptable as medieval Christian dinner talk. Was an androgynous St. George a useful comforter for both genders? Why did Venus reappear so many years after her demise as a Roman goddess?

The theory is, that the middle ages were not as Christian as our history lessons have us believe. For example, the Slav King Jaczo, reigned over the area we now call Berlin Brandenburg. He crossed to Christianity in 1154. That was when, with his horse sinking exhausted into the Havel, he did a few try-out prayers to various deities. Things improved after summoning Christ and his horse was helped to the bank of the river. He decided to become a follower, but did he give up his three-headed pagan god Triglav, immediately? Probably not. We all need islands of safety within our vision, before we can take the leap.

Wagner and Venus

Time to apply Waldemar’s theory to Wagner’s Tannäuser. Wagner merged two medieval sagas for his opera. That apart, he remained (nearly) faithful to the original yarns.

Venus lived in the Venusberg, somewhere in what is now Thuringia. Tannhäuser told Venus that he wanted to leave her, because he missed the sky and birdsong. The Venusberg was subterranean, in a mountain, rather than on it, and hidden from mortals. Hold that thought. The protruding bone, which supports female pubic hair is called the mons veneris in anatomy – Latin for Mount of Venus. In the saga, men who entered the Venusberg, accepted perdition.

Let’s assume Venus and Tannhäuser were in a vast cavern, waited on by as much voluptuous flesh as a man could want to gaze upon and sample. You can have too much of a good thing – apparently. Tannhäuser, after an hour of operatic wailing, shouting and accusations, leaves Venus, and returns to the Wartburg. This medieval castle is on a mountain in Thuringia, and is where the rest of the operatic action takes place. The hall can still be visited. In the Wartburg, he rediscovers his love for Elizabeth, the symbol of Christian female purity. She is waiting to be taken and dominated by an honourable knight. Tannhäuser, a knight and minstrel, had been her dream man, before he went sampling without portfolio in the Venusberg.

Tannhäuser gets embroiled in a singing contest on the theme of true love. Elizabeth’s hand is the prize for the winner. Tannhäuser’s friend Wolfram, dutifully sings of pure love – no lust. Tannhäuser blows a gasket and tells them that a bit of lusting after flesh hurt no one. Elizabeth is enthusiastic about the idea. Tannhäuser gets carried away and admits to a sojourn in the Venusberg. He is turned out the castle and told to join pilgrims underway to Rome to see if such a sin can ever be forgiven.

Elizabeth’s Libido, in his Dreams

Nowadays the same soprano sings Venus and Elizabeth, in the same costume and make-up. We have to ask – was the Venusberg a figment of Tannhäuser’s erotic fantasy? Did he fantasise about Elizabeth’s female libido? Is Elizabeth ready to show the lustful part of her femininity? Was this a match made in the Venusberg, rather than in heaven? We never find out. Tannhäuser leaves the distraught Elizabeth to wonder what might have been. She agrees that her husband must be presentable and accepts he must go to Rome. She prays for the Pope’s forgiveness.

Stunning Redemption

Tannhäuser returns from Rome and relates Pope Urban IV’s words. He is as likely to be forgiven such a heinous sin, as Urban’s staff is, to sprout leaves. Elizabeth sinks exhausted to the floor. Wolfram covers her with a shroud. Tannhäuser wants to return to the Venusberg, Elizabeth rises from under the shroud. Now she is Venus and tries to seduce him. Wolfram holds Tannhäuser back, and prevents him approaching Venus. Tannhäuser dies, as pilgrims enter to declare the staff has sprouted leaves – Tannhäuser is forgiven and can join Elizabeth in heaven.

Accepting Sex Drive

In 19th century Europe, many men believed, if women possessed sex drive, they were whores. No one asked the question, was Tannhäuser without guilt, when Venus and he engaged in so-called, sins of the flesh. Did the staff sprout, because there was no sin to be forgiven? In the medieval version of the saga, Tannhäuser does return to the Venusberg, and the staff still sprouts. Were those poets and minstrels trying to tell us, lustful sex is not a sin? Is this why we still love those ancient stories?

We know what Wagner thought. He celebrated female sex-drive on stage, most notably in Tristan and Isolde, although he did let the love potion take the blame for Isolde’s wanton behaviour. No one is fooled, nowadays. We know Tristan and Isolde have the hots for each other, long before the love potion is administered.

Why did Wagner go for the soft ending in his version of Tannhäuser? These operas divided society. The Paris premier of Tannhäuser, (1861) was a disaster and wrecked by the audience’s protests, because the dance was in the wrong place and disturbed dining habits. Perhaps, with such an audience, the medieval ending was unthinkable. The lovers had to go to heaven, not the Venusberg!

Jean Shinoda Bolen, in her Jungian analysis of the role of Goddeses in our lives, defines Venus as the woman with serious sex-drive. I left my copy of Bolen’s ‘Goddesses in Everywoman,’ in a prominent place in my house. No visitor has managed to pass the book without stopping and having a peek. We all need a bit of pagan!

Venus goes other Places

The Tannhäuser story has inspired many works of art, literature and the occasional film (Blade Runner). Aubrey Beardsley added to the genre in the 1890s, with his thin volume, The Story Of Venus And Tannhäuser. It wasn’t printed in full until the 1960s, because no one had the courage. Beardsley died before completion. He describes Tannhäuser’s entry into the Venusberg and the high jinks thereafter. It is pure smut and great fun. Another reason we need Venus – to remind us that life is to be enjoyed and you never know what you might like until you have tried it.

I couldn’t resist Venus and Tannhäuser either. The lovers, in my novel Goddesses, role play Beardsley’s ideas. The complete novel should be a published this year, providing my courage doesn’t desert me.

Goddesses set us Free

Gods and Goddesses, are there to let us let our hair down. They allow us to act out a bit of our character, which otherwise, wouldn’t find an outlet. They appeal to the non-Christian part of us today, as they did for the early Christians 1000 years ago. Waldemar is right. They let us off the hook, but in so doing, keep us on the hook. Let off steam sometimes, is the message. A little bit of what you like, does you good.

Bolen defines women as character types, by using goddesses. If that sounds trite, read her book.

What about the Green Man?

We all love a mystery and the Green Man remains one. We have no idea of his symbolic meaning in pre-Christian society. Why was he so popular with gothic-church builders? Most mysterious, is his enduring popularity as a garden ornament. What position in our character does he personify? We don’t know, but we all like to be a bit mysterious. That is a character trait, too.

Clive La Pensee has used Beardsley’s take on the Venus/Tannhaeuser story, as a major part of his third novel, called Goddesses. He lets his two main protagonists role-play Beardsley’s action, with hilarious and ultimately, disastrous consequences. His heroine Connie, uses a variety of goddesses to achieve sexual liberation, in a way, which would have pleased Venus and Elizabeth.
His second novel – out soon, celebrates women risking disaster, to organise a hostile world to meet their needs. ‘Someone Tell Me What Is Going On!’
Clive has just released his first humorous/sad/wistful collection of poems, dealing with love in old age, Brexit, Fake News and the wisdom of youth. You can ask for your money back, if he doesn’t get a chuckle or a tear out of you.

Client Company Reviews [For Search Engine Marketing] Leads To Revenue Growth

We are not setting out to change the mind of anyone who is responsible for marketing or maybe owns a company; that those reviews [with the star ratings] that show up in the search engine results of how important it is to first collect feedback from client as a key component in day to day business operations.

For the sake of argument how about taking the point of view of a potential bed and breakfast customer, staying in town for a couple of nights and looking to determine where a good place to stay will be within a particular town or location.

The situation could be that a group of friends during a visit to a town for concert are looking for a nice clean place to stay [say] located somewhere in the King Cross region of London, UK. As is normal in the mobile technologically advanced world in which we live today, a quick internet search making use of Google’s search engine in this case will provide the browser with a list of hotels and bed & breakfast establishments in the region that will be suitable for them to stay for the required couple of nights.

From the search results it is clear for all to see the user ratings of the relevant hotels and other lodgings that are now prominently displayed both within the SERPs [search engine results] and in addition to that also on the accompanying area map that is now displayed.

Any prospective client is now able to follow the link as defined by the pin of the bed & breakfast establishment and then the searcher is able to see sometimes details as well as those summaries of the latest customer reviews. These reviews show up next to other relevant company information as it pertains to the organisation; this may include hours of operations, full physical address, phone number and email address.

We have of course used bed & breakfast and hotels for this example but this equally applies to restaurants, car dealers, cosmetic surgeons, dentists, veterinarian surgeon and other business that now can be broken due to the one really negative review.

As we can see the use of company client reviews within search engine marketing can often be all that is necessary to put one in a position to make a decision concerning where to stay for a few nights.

It is our view that businesses should incorporate collecting feedback and reviews from clients as a matter of day to day operations. This will a) provide the business with valuable market research and b) allow it to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors as more and more of search continues to be dominated by the reviews given by real clients on their experience with the company in question.

How To Select An Efficient Warehousing Service For Your Company

If you are an owner of a business and feels that managing and storing your productions in-house is incurring you a hell amount of money, then its time you decide to outsource your warehousing service to some third-party. A warehousing service is considered praiseworthy if they have a dedicated system that provides you the best storage and depot solutions that will minimize your inventory and logistics expenses.

Here are the determinants of an ideal warehousing service:

The location and space allotted for storage

As a business owner, your first priority is your client’s satisfaction when it comes to timely delivery of your products. A poor location of a warehouse can be a major obstacle in shipping your products to your destination on time. Parallel to this, proper planning while using the space in the warehouse is extremely important. You should select a service where you see stocks are organized efficiently, the old stock has been cleared out and there is no clutter inside the storehouse.

A committed team

The staffs present in the warehouse all the time are responsible for evaluating the warehousing conditions and decide whether it needs any improvements or modifications. They are one who faces the issues that arise daily and hence give a call to the management for the betterment of the service. So whenever you choose a warehouse service please see whether the team involved in the management and storage is a dedicated team with high skills and experience.

Transparencies in the entire process

Before jumping into any decision, you need to know what are the stages and procedures involved in the warehouse service. Yes, this point is important because otherwise you cannot judge the quality of a service and determine if it’s deviating from the usual norms and regulations. With a service provider with a transparent and clear process, it is possible to trust them blindly.

Advanced technology and quality control

The warehouse agencies that maintain the quality standards – ISO 9000 (quality control) and ISO 90001 (quality management) are considered to be the efficient and high standard companies. These play a crucial part to ensure that the anticipated outcomes are due to the utilization of best processes and technology available. A service provider that uses the best software with mobile scanners and high-quality integration with distribution partners is the ideal choice for you.

Warehousing operations are costly and time-consuming, but it is the soul of your business. Poor storage and depot facilities can cause your business to drop down below par. So, why take such risk and wait for such instances to occur? Seek the best warehouse service and skyrocket your business’s profits.

Postmodern Film Approach: CBC’s Othello

If I understand Othello correctly the viewer is supposed to be enveloped in a sense of suffocation, a feeling of being smothered, as Iago’s box closes around the others, capturing them. That doesn’t happen in this production at all, and one of the reasons it doesn’t is that the production is so beautiful. The sets, the costumes, the cinematography, all of it – it’s excellent, even breathtaking, to the point of distraction. (Compare the sense of asphyxiation in Trevor Nunn’s film with Ian McKellen and Willard White and the BBC film with Bob Hoskins and Anthony Hopkins – in those we feel really choked.)

I’m a firm believer that the “style over substance” type of aesthetic can go a long way, and justify a lot, but it usually can’t go all the way and justify everything. The true stars of this production are the costume designer Debra Hanson; the cinematographer Glen Keenan; the production designer Callum Maclachlan; and even the composer of the haunting theme, Philip J. Bennett. So – what of everything else?

I understand the necessity of time limitations in a television adaptation of Shakespeare, and I understand Orson Welles edited this work enormously also, but that isn’t justification. Chopping this play to two hours from its true three and a half is too much. It turns the play into Shakespeare for adolescents. Too many key speeches and scenes have to go. In particular the bawdy jesting between Iago and Desdemona as they leave the ship cannot be hacked off, as it gives too much insight into both of those critical characters. The cuts hurt.

Too: showing the corpses at the very start, and then flashing back, is a mistake. (It was a mistake when Welles did it as well; it will always be a mistake.) I can’t get behind this kind of re-writing of Shakespeare in any way, shape, or form. And this isn’t the only way Zaib Shaikh re-writes. He gives Roderigo the line “… this Muslim” (meaning Othello) at one point, which Shakespeare certainly didn’t write. The point is reinforced by having Othello exchange his necklace (a star and crescent) with Desdemona for hers (a cross) at the beginning, when they’re married. I don’t see anything wrong with the visual message of the necklaces, but again, re-writing the Bard, putting in words he didn’t write? A no no! Show, don’t tell.

The camera here is relatively bland. What about the acting? Christine Horne as Desdemona and Peter Donaldson as her father are sensational; I’ve not seen earnest, wholesome goodness just ooze out of Desdemona like this before. In the thankless role of Bianca Nazneen Contractor isn’t bad, and Ryan Hollyman looks like a great Roderigo. No one else is a Shakespearean heavyweight, to say the least. Compare Frank Finlay’s “Are you mad?” in the final scene to Matthew DeSlippe’s here and you’ll know most of what you need to know.

Christians: Wondering If You Are In The Right Relationship?

What am I getting myself into?

I received an email from a man who wrote them with a sense of bewilderment. He had been dating a woman for six months and had strong feelings for her. Being that they were both in their late 30′s, they felt they knew what they wanted out of life and didn’t see the point in waiting too long to get married, so he was contemplating popping the question. But, he didn’t want to make a decision based purely on emotion. With the rate of divorce being so high he was questioning his ability to detect whether or not he was making the right decision. His question is one that is on many people’s minds: How do I know I am with the right one?

There are many indicators to help you know if you are with the right person and the way you feel about someone is certainly one of them. Usually, when you are with “the one” you feel a strong, familiar, peaceful connection to him/her in addition to the romance and excitement. But… we all know feelings change and fade. The honeymoon always comes to an end. This is the secret of a strong and lasting marriage… learning to love each other even more when those feelings of romance aren’t present. But, if you can’t rely on feelings as the proper gauge, what is there you can count on?

A New Trend Among Dating Couples

Here’s an interesting trend: more and more couples who are not yet engaged are attending marriage preparation courses and retreats in an effort to boost their discernment process and feel as confident as possible about their chosen partner. I spoke with one such couple, Julie and Brian, about this and the Julie, gave a notable response: “We just want to know what we are getting into so we don’t waste each other’s time.” I had asked Julie specifically why she would attend if she and Brian weren’t engaged, yet. “It’s too important… I don’t want to get a divorce, I’d rather have a long and happy marriage.”

Fair enough. So, if you love the one you’re with, is it enough to be in love and agree on the issues of children, faith, finances, etc.? Some people would say yes, but hearkening back to the gentleman who had emailed me describing his sense of being perplexed, it was clear he still wanted some sign, some indication he couldn’t doubt that his girlfriend was the person God had intended for him.

If you find yourself in these same shoes, I’d like to offer you a simple, yet very effective way to help you discern whether you are with Mr. or Mrs. Right. Just ask yourself these three questions:

1. Will my relationship with this person bring me closer to God?

2. Will my relationship with this person make me a more loving person?

3. Will this relationship allow me to use my gifts and talents?

If our goal in life is to spend eternity with God in heaven then this first question is one we should always ask ourselves. If you answer it honestly and follow through, you take a huge step in knowing if this person is the right one for you. Even if you’ve only been together a short time, you already have some insight into your behaviors as a couple. Are you comfortable discussing your beliefs with this person? Is faith and morality as important to your significant other as it is to you? Do you share any spiritual goals? The answers to these questions all indicate one of three things: either the relationship is moving you toward God, it isn’t, or you need to start talking about these things to find out.

Regarding the second question, it’s important to understand that I’m not talking about romantic love because that should naturally be a yes. This question focuses you on detecting if your relationship with the person you are dating will enable you to grow in love for God and others? Genuine love is self-less. It focuses on others. So in your relationship, are the two of you focused on making the other happy, or are you in the relationship for your own benefit? Another way to tell if your relationship will help you become a more loving person is by defining how open the two of you are to new life. Two people who are committed to each other but not yet married reveal their openness to new life by never using artificial contraception at any stage in their relationship which means you remain celibate until marriage. But in addition to that important point, ask yourself if you, as a couple are comfortable sharing your faith with others?

The third question might sound odd, but it is really an important thing to consider. when you think about living the rest of your life with this person. God endowed you with gifts and talents for a reason… so you can use them for His glory and the good of others. This question will help you determine the level of harmony between the two people in the relationship… Is your significant other supportive of your interests and goals? Does this person encourage you to follow your dreams and stand beside you to cheer you on? I might add here that this is something you should feel comfortable doing in return. Can you get behind this person up on all his/her pursuits?

If you are wondering if you are in a relationship with the right person, I encourage you to take some time and reflect upon these questions. They are tools I use often in other types of decisions I must make as well and are very effective.