Tag Archives: Sun Ra

Almanac – May 30

1593 – Christopher Marlowe died.  English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era.

Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day, and  greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe’s mysterious early death. Marlowe’s plays are known for the use of blank verse, and their overreaching protagonists.

He was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. During an argument Marlowe snatched Frizer’s dagger and wounded him on the head. In the ensuing struggle, according to the coroner’s report, Marlowe was stabbed above the right eye, killing him instantly. The jury concluded that Frizer acted in self-defence, and within a month he was pardoned.

Marlowe was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St. Nicholas, Deptford immediately after the inquest, on 1 June 1593.

 

 

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1778 – Voltaire died. French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.

 Voltaire was a versatile writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken advocate, despite strict censorship laws with harsh penalties for those who broke them. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.

 

 

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1993 – Sun Ra died. Prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his “cosmic philosophy,” musical compositions and performances.

“Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial,” critic Scott Yanow said, because of Sun Ra’s eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle.

Claiming that he was of the “Angel Race” and not from Earth, but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona using “cosmic” philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all.

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Almanac – March 25

421 – Venice  founded, according to legend,  identified with the dedication of the first church, that of San Giacomo at the islet of Rialto ,which is said to have been at the stroke of noon on 25 March 421

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1807 – The Slave Trade Act became law, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.  The act abolished the slave trade but not slavery itself.

Slavery on English soil was unsupported in English law and that position was confirmed in Somersett’s Case in 1772, but it remained legal in most of the British Empire until the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

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1931 – Tom Wilson born. American record producer best known for his work with Sun Ra,  Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel and The Velvet Underground.

As a staff producer at Columbia Records he  was one of the ‘midwives’ of folk-rock, producing three of Bob Dylan’s key 1960s albums: The Times They Are a-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, and Bringing It All Back Home, along with the 1965 single, “Like a Rolling Stone.”

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1942 – Aretha Franklin born.  American musician, singer, songwriter, and pianist. In a recording career that has spanned over half a century, her repertoire has included gospel, jazz, blues, R&B, pop, rock and funk.

She has been described as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of the black America” and a symbol of black equality.

She first became connected with the movement through her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, a preacher, who traveled the country as well as recorded a weekly sermon for the radio station, WLAC, which reached 65 percent of the African-American population.

On tours with her father, Franklin began her singing career. Rev. Franklin also introduced Franklin to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., starting a lifelong friendship between the two.

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SUMMER SOLSTICE

Today is the Summer Solstice… well, not exactly – a solstice is a point in time rather than a day, and in 2012 that point in time was 23:09 UT  last night. And only in the northern hemisphere – if you’re reading this south of the equator, your Summer Solstice is of course 6 months distant, at 11.12 UT, December 21. Something to look forward to anyway…

So, the Summer Solstice – pay attention now, there may be questions asked later :

The summer solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet’s semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits. Earth’s maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26′. This happens twice each year, at which times the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole respectively.

The summer solstice is the solstice that occurs in a hemisphere’s summer. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, in the Southern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 each year in the Southern Hemisphere  and between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere  in reference to UTC.

Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. Except in the polar regions (where daylight is continuous for many months), the day on which the summer solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight.

Thank you Wikipedia.

As is usual for the British Summer Solstice, an estimated 14,500 people descended on Stonehenge to see the Sun rise – or not, as the usual British Midsummer weather was, well, the usual British Midsummer weather. Or as one report put it:   “The sunrise at 4.52am was welcomed by rain-sodden crowds with a loud cheer and applause despite the sun being blanketed by dark clouds.”  Just so.

I’ve never really understood why crowds wishing to celebrate the Solstices always seem to think it’s de rigueur to descend on Stonehenge and  similar places. I have to admit that I’ve never visted Stonehenge myself, but various acounts from sources that have – including members of my own family – suggest that it’s actually rather sterile spiritually.

Of course, there’s also the fact that I dont like crowds much either, so the thought of spending the darkest hour before the dawn in the rain-soaked company of 14,500 strangers doesn’t, if I’m honest, really appeal. I guess I lean more towards the hermit-mentality, spiritually speaking, and dont really see the need for an extra layer of bureacracy between me and whatever gods  I might choose to believe in…whether its  a Church of England vicar or a  neo-Druid Priest at Stonehenge.

And of course there’s the fact that many – most ? – of those at Stonehenge probably travelled long distances to be there. Fair enough, if that’s what they want to do, but don’t they have any sacred sites nearer to home ? 

And sacred doesn’t have to mean there’s an ancient stone circle there. Myself ?  Early this morning I was up and out to my allotment garden, walking 3 miles across town to get there. Just a rectangle of land, one-sixteenth of an acre surrounded by other one-sixteenth of an acre plots by a railway line on the edge of town

But I’ve worked it for two decades, and it’s become a very personal sacred space to me. Being here alone on the Summer Solstice is far more meaningful to me than mingling with the crowds far away in Wiltshire could ever be.  But each to their own, I guess.

Here’s the song I sing as I work –

 

For the record – it was overcast here too. By 08:00 BST the rain had started. By 09:30 I’d given up and gone home. Then a fog came in from the sea. Oh to be in Britain, now that Midsummer’s here…

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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