The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for February 2011

Frozen Calvary

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

This was the scene on Friday at Calvary Cemetery. A minimum of 3-4 feet of ice and snow was apparent, and although the hard working grounds crew had cleared the Boundary Road and created certain obvious pathways to recent interments, access to to vast tracts of the place was impossible.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2011 at 10:00 am

Project Firebox 20

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are many places in and around Astoria where time and space fold in upon each other and you find yourself at the corner of an avenue and street which bear the same number. This scarlet paladin withstands and discharges its duty despite the frozen indignity heaped on and around it at the junction of 37th avenue and 37th street- just off Northern Blvd. Who can guess what odd sights it has witnessed at this tripartite angle between Dutch Kills and Astoria and Queens Plaza, and what strange attractors frequent such concurrent corners?

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 4, 2011 at 2:23 am

Happy Candlemas

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wheel of the year turns and turns, and the foul weather being suffered by the Lords and Ladies of the Pentacle this day is actually a good thing- for it means that the hag Cailleach Bheur sleeps rather than gathering more firewood to outlast the winter. As is the case with several of these ancient calendrical milestones (November 1st for instance), February 2nd seems to be one of those special dates on which things just seem to happen.

Today, after all, is the anniversary of New Amsterdam gaining “municipal rights” from its degenerate Dutch masters in 1653– the day that a colony became incorporated as “The City” and the seedling megalopolis was established.

from wikipedia

Candlemas occurs 39 days after Christmas.

Traditionally the Western term “Candlemas” (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on February 2 blessed beeswax candles for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home. In Poland the feast is called Święto Matki Bożej Gromnicznej (Święto, “Holiday” + Matka Boska, “Mother of God” + Gromnica, “Thunder”). This name refers to the candles that are blessed on this day and called gromnicy, since these candles are lit during (thunder) storms and placed in windows to ward off the storm.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasised in favor of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.

According to over eight centuries of tradition, the swaddling clothes that baby Jesus wore during the presentation at the Temple are kept in Dubrovnik Cathedral, Croatia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today is the day that the Germans finally threw in the towel at Stalingrad in 1943, the anniversary of the opening of Grand Central Terminal in 1913, and the day that Sid Vicious died in 1979.

It’s also Groundhog day, of course, which is the modern enactment of certain more… ancient rites.

from wikipedia

Imbolc (also Imbolg or Oimelc), or St Brigid’s Day (Scots Gaelic Là Fhèill Brìghde, Irish Lá Fhéile Bríde, the feast day of St. Brigid), is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on February 1 or 2 (or February 12, according to the Old Calendar), which falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere.

The festival was observed in Gaelic Ireland during the Middle Ages. Reference to Imbolc is made in Irish mythology, in the Tochmarc Emire of the Ulster Cycle. Imbolc was one of the four cross-quarter days referred to in Irish mythology, the others being Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. It has been suggested that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid, who was later Christianised as St. Brigid.

In the 20th century, Imbolc was resurrected as a religious festival in Neopaganism, specifically in Wicca, Neo-druidry and Celtic reconstructionism.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Wisdom of crowds

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

UPDATE- one of the sharp eyed Lords of the Pentacle has recognized the mysterious column I mentioned in yesterday’s posting (An Odd Impulse) as being part of the Queensboro Bridge- the Great Machine itself. Following text is from the comments of TJ Connick, to whom I am now quite indebted:

Looks quite like the light stanchion that once adorned end of Queensboro Bridge wall on SE corner 2nd Av & 60th St. You can see a shot of it on NY Public Library’s Digital Gallery. Use Digital ID of 707887F in the search window. Its cousin at 59th St is still there last time I looked. Maybe someone can take a look and compare. Seem to recall a lot of time and money spent on restoration of that end about 25-30 years back. Think they took it down and lost it?

A glimpse at Google “street view” confirms. See also library’s picture: Digital ID of 730938F. It’s an old shot of 59th St stanchion. Matches yours, but yours has collar with the depending decorations upside down. Make a ransom note and send it to Dept of Transportation – could be a big score.

– image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery

On behalf of everyone reading this posting, BRAVO TJ!

Additionally, Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY sends along this link to the NYTimes.com from 2001 concerning the lamp post.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 1, 2011 at 12:43 am

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