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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Mythology

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Welcome to part two of the constellation series. As you can see, I'm trying for an alphabetical order in these but I might sneak one in if I forget one of them. Which I will. Anyway, the second sign we'll be looking at is Aquarius.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Every month, the members of Neos Alexandria study three different Deities for our Gods of the Month Club. Originally, the Deities were limited to the official Hellenistic-oriented pantheon of Neos Alexandria itself. This year, though, members agreed that we could start looking into Deities outside ancient Alexandria, allowing for some very lively discussions (is Brigid three Goddesses or a trinity?) and comparisons (who knew Athena and Kali had so much in common?).

Early on in the GMC program -- though I can't remember exactly when -- I made a capital-P Promise that I would write at least one poem in honor of each Deity for that month. So far, I have managed to keep that promise. And, I have to admit, I have been very surprised to discover that it is not my matron and patron Deities that I am most excited to write for (though I will take any chance to pen a poem for Hermes or The Charites), but rather those Deities with whom I have only a passing familiarity or no familiarity at all.

I remember the month when Neith was selected. My initial response was "Um ... she's like the Egyptian version of Athena, right?" Well, not exactly. The two Goddesses do indeed have some areas of interest (like warcraft and weaving), but they are distinct Deities with their own personalities and histories. I learned a lot about Neith that month, came to appreciate Her as a Goddess in Her own right, and was inspired to write two very different cosmogonic poems in Her honor.

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  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am absolutely terrible at poetry. Brighid was my matron for years and still, I never grew out of the fourteen year old emo poems

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I greatly enjoy looking at the night's sky although I can barely make out any of the constellations. As a new and regular series on Baring the Aegis, I want to share with you my study of the mythology behind various constellations. Today, I'm starting with Andromeda.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    I love stellar mythology, as well. I find it rather ... uncomfortable, though, how little agency Andromeda has in this story. Eve
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I wrote about the role of men and women in Greek myth before* and noted then, that is wasn't the most balanced. Androméda did end

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Warrior's Grief

I ease my students into Beowulf by having them read the Anglo-Saxon poem 'The Wanderer' first. It's a great introduction to the warrior ethos that the longer narrative celebrates, but in a short form. It's a poem about grief but the first thing we'll notice is that the loss mourned isn't a partner, child or parent, but the narrator's leader.

Wyrd bið ful aræd!       Fate always goes as it must!

The center of the warrior's life is a relationship the Roman historian Tacitus named comitatus when he first observed it in the continental Germanic tribes. A leader gained followers by offering them praise and treasures for courageous behaviour in battle. They rewarded him with their loyalty. It was the center of their lives; it also took a central role in the poetry of the era.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    We don't hear enough about the sanctity and beauty of the warrior ethic from these traditions. You know how much I love "Beowulf"
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, my dear. This piece actually motivated me to kick off a series on Hávamál, so I hope you'll find that appealing as well
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Really great information here. Lots to take in and consider.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A few weeks back, I listed the how-to writing guides which I found most useful. Among them was Corrine Kenner's Tarot for Writers. Throughout her text, Kenner references the traditional Rider-Waite deck -- a deck which I have never owned or used. Nonetheless, Kenner's exercises and suggested spreads work with (virtually) any deck.

That (virtually) there is important. The book has proven most useful not just with the decks with which I am most familiar, but also those decks that contain the most densely packed imagery.

The first two decks that I purchased (I really can't remember which came first) were The Motherpeace Round Tarot by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, and The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr. I have since added The Anubis Oracle by Nicki Scully, Linda Star Wolf, and Kris Waldherr; Ancient Feminine Wisdom of Goddesses and Heroines by Kay Steventon and Brian Clark; The New Mythic Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke, Liz Greene, and Giovanni Caselli; and the Art Nouveau tarot from Lo Scarabeo, to my collection.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Thanks for mentioning Dugan's new tarot deck. I will have to see if I can find a copy.
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Wonderful post! I haven't picked up The Goddess Tarot, but I love that the staves are the path of Freya. I just took a class about

Over at Patheos, Star Foster recently blogged about the paganizing influence of books such as the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It is a conversation I have had many times, online and in person: do such books really bring people to Paganism (of whatever tradition)? Based on my own completely unscientific survey, I believe the answer is yes. Books like the Percy Jackson series -- and possibly Rowling's Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants, Anne Ursu's The Cronus Chronicles, and others -- do seem to spark an interest in the old Gods and mythologies. Or, perhaps, fan a flame that was already there.

 
At the same time .... I have to confess, I did not particularly enjoy The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series. I got so little enjoyment out of it, in fact, that I did not bother to continue with the books, or even pick up Riordan's other series (The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus). I was ... disappointed. Let down. I had so been looking forward to a story which drew upon the ancient mythology and treated the Gods of old respectfully that ... eh ... shallow characters, shallow use of mythology, et cetera and so on.
 
I suppose I should have known better. This is a series written for mass entertainment. Riordan (so far as I know) is not any persuasion of Pagan, and he did not write the books with a Pagan audience in mind. This series was written for people who treat the old Gods and myths as fictional characters, not as real beings or sources of wisdom.
 
Which leads me to the second half of the title above: yes, we can do better. We -- the Pagan community at large -- need to be writing stories for our children about the Gods we honor and the traditions we practice. We need to offer them positive role models, kids just like them who struggle with the same problems and who do their best to act honorably. Heck, we need to be writing such stories for the non-Pagan community, too; show what we're all about.
 
So, consider this column a call to arms ... or rather, pens. Get your collective butts in your chairs, offer up a prayer or two for guidance and inspiration, and get writing! And here are a few ideas, free and clear, to do with as you please. Adopt them whole, take pieces here and there, use them as a launching pad for your ideas. Whatever. Just get writing!
 
One) Ecological. Ages 4-8. A dryad who lives in Central Park befriends a group of young children who play hide and seek near her tree. She introduces them to the wonders of the Park, to the amazing plants and animals who make it their home. For fans of The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library series, and the Reading Rainbow books. 
 
Two) Mystery series. Ages 7-12. A young devotee of Athena uses math and science to solve crimes. The Goddess Herself makes at least one appearance in each story, offering the young girl guidance by explaining mathematical theories and principles, scientific concepts, and so forth. For fans of The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, The Magic Treehouse series Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca, and The Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.
 
Three) Adventure series. Ages 7-12. In 8th century northern Europe, a young boy accompanies his father as they sail around the Baltic Sea, down the Atlantic coast of  Europe, and through the Mediterranean to distant Byzantium. Along the way, he encounters strange new cultures, languages, religions, and animals. A stealthy way to teach kids about geography, history and even map reading. For fans of The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan and the Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford.
 
Four) Paranormal. Ages 10-13. In the early 1800s, the young woman who will become Queen Victoria befriends three sisters. Unbeknownst to Victoria, the sisters practice British Traditional Witchcraft in secret, and they use their abilities to protect the future Queen. A great way to explore British history, women's history, and pre-Wicca Witchcraft. For fans of the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins and the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan.
 
Five) Alternate history. Ages 12-18. In this what if ... series, the Pharaohs still rule a polytheistic Egypt. Follow the adventures of one of Pharaoh's daughters, as she solves mysteries, undertakes diplomatic missions, and romances handsome princes -- with style, of course. For fans of The Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale, the Luxe series by Anne Godbersen, and Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lyn Child.
 
Six) Fantasy. Ages 12-18. Too many fantasy books draw on Greek mythology, or maybe some mash-up of Middle Eastern mythology. Time for a change. Go Aztec. It is an incredibly rich source of fantastic creatures, terrible monsters and great warriors, peopled by amazing Gods. Treat the source material with respect and go for it. For fans of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, and The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.
 
Seven) Paranormal. Ages 13-18. In the years immediately following World War II, an American teen accompanies his family to occupied Japan, where his father is stationed. When he befriends several Japanese teens, he gets caught up in a mystery involving an ancient ghost. How better to sneak in important lessons about war, peace, forgiveness, Shinto, Buddhism, and Ainu traditions? For fans of Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes, Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, and Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata.
 
Eight) Science fiction. Ages 13-18. When the Earth can no longer support human life, generation ships filled with colonists flee for the nearest habitable planet. But it will take decades to reach their new home. Follow one Wiccan coven across the years as they adjust to life on the ship, adapt their traditions and practices to their new surroundings, fall in and out of love, marry, pass those traditions on to their children and grandchildren, and finally make landfall on their new home. For fans of the Across the Universe books by Beth Revis, the Matched series by Ally Condie, and the Sirantha Jax books by Ann Aguirre.
 
So, there you have them: eight ideas for Pagan- and/or polytheist-centric books for kids, tweens and teens. Choose one or two. Pick up your pen, your pencil, your laptop, whatever. And get writing! 



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  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    It seems I have taken you up on your challenge, Rebecca: http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Paths-Blogs/the-man-who-wailed-at-the-s
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Brian: give it a shot. You might discover you have a talent for writing after all.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Amy: thanks for the suggestion. I will add Bird's book to my To Read list.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A few days ago, I got into an interesting discussion with PaganSquare founder Anne about Hellenismos in general and slavery in particular. The discussion focussed on what should and should not be part of Recon practice and slavery, obviously, was one of the things we both thought had no place in it. I realized, though, that not everyone may know what slavery entailed in ancient Greece and the many difference there are between the ancient Greek form of slavery and the modern history version of the same practice.

Now, first off, I do not condone slavery in any way, shape or form and the whole idea of people owning people has no place in current society. This blog post is not about slavery in current time. I will get back to this a little later on, but no modern Hellenic in their right mind would think to bring that back. And even if they did, there are laws against that sort of thing now. 

With that out of the way, indulge me as I paint a picture of slavery in ancient Hellas. First, its prudent to describe the life of ancient Greek slaves, as slaves, too, could acquire rank and even slaves of their own. The word 'slave' wasn't known in ancient Hellas, in fact, the first mention of the word dates back to the seventh century C.E.. A Greek slave was called a doûlos (δούλος), which would translate best as a 'servant' or 'serf'.  In ancient Greece, doûlos were the working class. They were teachers, farmers, shop owners, herders, doctors, city militia, cleaners, etc. Because many performed a public service, they had a house of their own as well as a salary. Household serfs were called oikétês (οἰκέτης) and lived in the house of their master who was called a kyrios (κύριος). The female head of the household was charged with teaching--and keeping order amongst--the household serfs.
 
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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Are you familiar with the Theodish practice of "thralldom"? They have essentially taken the ancient practice and turned it into a
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Even before checking out that link, I have to tell you that I literally woke up my girlfriend with my giggling at the use of the w
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Thanks for an interesting post, Elani; the only part I didn't get was the disclaimer in which you disavowed the practice of slaver

Today is my birthday. I'm now officially twenty-seven years old. I told Anne I was twenty-seven already so she wouldn't have to change it a few weeks later. Shhh! Anyway, today is a busy day so I'm doing a short one, one of the Delphic Maxims series I have been doing on my blog for a while.

A little less than I week ago, I discussed the Delphic Maxim of  'be grateful' (Ευγνωμων γινου). Today I'm addressing a related maxim but one with a very different reasoning behind it; 'do not be discontented by life' (Τω βιω μη αχθου).

We are all told our fate soon after we are born. At night, the Moirae (Μοιραι)--better known as the Fates--enter the room where the newborn lies and they whisper their destiny into their ear. They are the only ones who can do this, as they have spun the threads that make up our fate. Mothers can invite the Moirae by leaving offerings on a table in the nursery. If they wait long enough, the Moirae will appear and, while they enjoy the offerings, will tell the fate of the child. The most well known myth surrounding this event is that of Althaea and Melaeger, who are told that Melaeger will only live as long as the log in the hearth remains unconsumed. Althaea hurries to extinguish the log but eventually kills her son by burning the log.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Life is messy, no worries. Have a great b-day!
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Well, as you say "as for fate causing social conservatism ... isn't that already the point of a Recon faith?" gave me pause. There
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I enjoy a good theological discussion, on my birthday, no worries I think it's important to remember that modern Hellenic Recon

A few days now, I have tackled controversial topics on this blog so to give everyone, including myself, a rest, I'm going to tackle a good old fashioned ancient Greek topic; the peculiar place of beggars in ancient Greek society. After all, of all professions there were in ancient Greece, the profession of beggar is, perhaps, the most difficult to understand.

A beggar, or ptóchos (πτωχός), was both a welcomed and a loathed sight at the gates of ancient Greek cities. According to some sources, most notable Hesiod's Works and Days, being a beggar is a profession, equated with potters and minstrels. They performed a public function simply by being who they were and doing what they did. But what did they do?

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  • Luke Hauser
    Luke Hauser says #
    Good research on an unusual topc -- thanks for the post
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Unusual topics are the most fun ;-) Thank you for your kind feedback.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for the great post! There is nothing so modern as the problems of the ancient world. Except the problem of 'purifying' our

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

No, that title is not a typo. I do mean theoilogy.

Theology, to quote the ever-handy Wikipedia, derives "from Ancient Greek Θεός meaning "God" and λόγος-logy, meaning "study of." God. Singular. By its very nature, at its very root, the word assumes a single Godhead. As such, I find the term best suited only to those religious systems which are explicitly monotheistic or monistic, eg Islam, most strains of Christianity, some branches of Judaism, and some sects within Hinduism.*

But, it is an ill-fit with explicitly polytheistic or even duotheistic systems, such as some branches of Judaism, some Christian sects, most sects within Hinduism, and the majority of Pagan and indigenous traditions. When I write about the nature of Zeus, I am not engaging in theology -- I am engaging in theoilogy. Zeus is not God Alone. He is part of a vast family of Deities; He is part of a web of relationships and responsibilities, and I cannot even begin to comprehend him outside of that web. Thus, theoilogy, from the Ancient Greek Θεοί meaning "Gods." Plural.

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I got back from my city trip to Berlin late last night and I had planned on writing about some experiences from that trip, but I received my daily e-mail from a friend who informed me that his wife's cousin had taken his own life unexpectedly, and that his life was pretty hectic right now because of it. He would therefor need some time to get back to me. After that, the concept and act of suicide was set firmly in my mind and I could write about nothing else. So here is fair warning; this post is about suicide, it touches on depression, my interesting childhood and my opinion on suicide. If any of these are triggers for you, I would ask you to come back tomorrow. Also, and I will get back to this, depression lies.

I grew up in a household where the threat of suicide was prevalent. When I mentioned moving out, when I got angry, when something went wrong (especially if it was something I had caused--or for which I was blamed), I was stopped and the emotions repressed by a veiled or outright threat of suicide by my mother. I used to be angry about that, but as I got older, I understood that it was simply her only way to deal with the depression and personality disorders she was struggling with. She did try once, and it was a horrible experience for all involved. After that, though, I think she realized that no matter how miserable she was, she wasn't really going to go through with it. The threats only stopped when we agreed that she was only allowed to call me with a suicide threat if she really meant it. She never spoke of it again.

Through my experience with suicide, I have developed a very low patience threshold for people who use (the threat of) suicide as an excuse to get attention. For people in my social circle who honestly feel they might commit suicide, I am there. All I ask of them is that they ask for help if they need it. I will gladly give it. I'll get up in the middle of the night for weeks to talk them off of any ledge they might be on, but I need honesty and I will not be guilt tripped into helping them. I did that for at least ten years. I'm a very decent human being. If you need me, in any way, I will be there for you. You don't have to lie. But if you simply need attention, if you need a shoulder to cry on and someone to tell you what a miserable life you have and act shocked you have even considered the act of suicide, I am not the person to go to. I'm the person you go to for help, and to get you help.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    No harm done, glad to be of service.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I appreciate your concern; thank you. If you do NOT want to give the impression you'd been suicidal yourself, you should consider
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Done, thank you. I apologize for any inconvenience.

The Protogenoi (Πρωτογενοι) are the First Born Deities of the Greek Kosmos. They are the building blocks of the universe, primordial Deities. I have written before about Them, in a post about genealogy of the Gods.

The Protogenoi we know of are: Aether (Αἰθήρ, 'Light'), Ananke (Ἀνάγκη, 'Fate' or 'Compulsion'), Khronos (Χρόνος, 'Time'), Erebos (Ἔρεβος, 'Darkness'), Eros (Ἔρως, 'Desire' or 'Love'), Gaea (Γαῖα, 'Earth'), Hemera (Ἡμέρα, 'Day'), Hydros (Ὑδρος, 'Primordial Waters'), Khaos (χάος, 'Chaos' or 'Air'), Nêsoi (Νησοι, 'Islands'), Nyx (Νύξ, 'Night'), Ôkeanos (Ωκεανος, 'Water'), Ourea (Oὔρεα, 'Mountains'), Phanes (Φάνης 'Procreation'), Pontos (Πόντος, 'Sea'), Phusis (φύσις, 'Nature'), Tartaros (Τάρταρος), Thalassa (Θάλασσα, 'Sea'), Thesis (Θεσις, 'Creation'), Uranos (Οὐρανός, 'Sky').

As might have become apparently from the, previously mentioned, earlier published post; any mythology from this era is incredibly mucky. There are a few sources we can track the beginning of the universe to; because that is where the Protogenoi were born in--or from; the beginning of the universe. They are the embodiments of the aspects of life They are named after. Zeus may be Lord of the Sky, but the sky itself is a primordial Deity, distant from humanity but ever-present.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    I know a few modern Hellenics who honor the Protogenoi. There is even an Oracle of Nyx.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I'm referring to the Orphic hymn to Nyx.
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    You mean Aphrodite Philophannyx? I... Guess you could say the two were equated but as far as I'm aware, Philophanny was only used

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Patheos has been in a bit of a kerfluffle this past week -- or, at least the Pagan Channel has been. It all started with Catholic blogger Mark Shea's post of his views on small-p paganism and neo-paganism. Patheos bloggers Star Foster and Jason Mankey counter-responded, and there were lots and lots of comments below each of those posts, ranging from the thoughtful to the angry to the wtf??

Considering the focus of this blog, and in the interests of interfaith dialogue (or, at least, interfaith not-screaming-past-one-another), a few literary suggestions. Each of these books in some way addresses the relationships between Jesus, the Christianities that rose out of his teachings, the ancient Paganisms, and modern Paganism. Hopefully, they will open a few eyes, broaden a few horizons, and allow for clearer dialogue.

(And, yes, I do mean Christianities, plural. Considering the vast theological differences between Catholicism, Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism, Valentinianism, the Cathars, and et cetera and so on, Christianity is as much an umbrella term as Pagan. Thus, Christianities.)

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Even though it's a novel, anybody interested in this subject will greatly appreciate Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxson's "
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Brian: yep. An interesting enough book, but I found it to be rather repetitive. It read like an essay that had been padded out t
  • Brian Shea
    Brian Shea says #
    Are you familiar with God Against The Gods by Jonathan Kirsch?

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.

In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.

These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    I ventured to make "corn" dollies from corn husks, only to realize that they are made from the wheat or barley. Amazing what can b

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