Posts tagged “Family

A Priestess’s Manumission

This is sort of a supplement to my book Exilium, so if you've never read it, you may be confused.

But then again, if you know anything about Roman slavery, or have read The Passion of Mary Magdalen, you may know what I'm talking about to some extent.

If you haven't read any of them, not a problem—you're about to get educated. (If you don’t mind spoilers, that is.)

[Caveat: this is a citation-free zone; I'm just going off what Elizabeth Cunningham wrote. If you want to do your own research, I suggest checking her notes section.]

In Roman marriage, ownership of the wife was notionally given to the husband through a document called the manus. (Slaves also had manus, so you can see how much the Romans cared about their women!) There were, however, cases where the manus was retained by the father, who could then manage and punish their daughters as they saw fit.

That's right! If Daddy caught you cheating, he could kick your little ass.

Or kill you, like he did with Paulina's sister in Passion.

(Pardon my spoiler, there.)

I don't know how it actually worked, but in Exilium, I presented an interesting notion about priestesses and their manus. Since I don't think I explained it very well—if at all—I thought I'd make a short post about it.


In Julia's world, a girl's manus was granted to the temple at the time of her initiation. This gave priestesses a wide-ranging set of freedoms, but could also make fathers very angry if, for example, the high priestess declared an orgy—the priestesses' fathers could not punish them for ruining the families’ reputation, because the paterfamilias was now the temple, as personified by the high priestess.

Serving the temple was also the fastest way to manumission, as if the priestess sought to marry a man of whom her high priestess approved, the manus would be burnt in the sacred fire and the priestess would be freed to do as she pleased.

Unfortunately, the temple's ownership could also trip a girl up, as Julia eventually learned.

[Original cover painting for Exilium, which I rendered in black and white.]

If you read the "Not-So-Historical Notes" at the end of Early One Morning, you know what happened to the other priestesses and their manus. But the nature of the kerfuffle over Julia's during Exilium was a little vague.

As high priestess, Julia officially owned her own manus; however, since it was on an institutional basis (as the temple personified, you may remember), she wasn't a freedwoman. In light of this, when Pontius kidnapped her, Livia was automatically promoted to high priestess and the control over everyone’s manus went to her.

Officially, only the Virgo Vestalis Maxima (and the emperor, of course) were superior to the High Priestess of Isis and only they could force Livia to sign over Julia's manus or that of any other priestess. In practice, however, the priestesses answered to the provincial prefect; so when Pontius threatened death or other bodily harm to the priestesses if Livia didn't sign over Julia's manus once he'd decided to keep her as his personal priestess, the high priestess hurried to respond.

Theoretically, once Julia betrayed Pontius and he exiled her, her manus should've been passed to whoever was receiving her in Ireland. However, it somehow got left behind in the rush to kick her out (he likely didn't have his own copy and would've had to go to the provincial record office), so that was the basis of the upset—Julia's manus being on file without a change of possession meant that Pontius still owned her and could do what he pleased. Without her manus, Lucius had no recourse against Pontius forcing Julia into marriage, which is why Lucius paid two hundred denarii and agreed to take as her his concubine. An executor was never appointed, of course, which is how Lucius was able to marry Julia without legal repercussions.

Though if you read the book, you know that Pontius got his way in the end.

A Manifesto of Goodness

One of my dad's coworkers had the audacity to claim that he wasn't a "Good Catholic" because he didn't support Trump.

I don't think a person's politics should define whether they're "good". Which is why I wrote this.

Some (maybe not many) Wiccans, Witches and other Pagans believe that angels are independent agents, rather than being assigned to the Abrahamic god.
Me too. Makes life more interesting, I think.

A good person, whether they be Christian or of another faith, does not deal in absolutes. A good person does not say, “I would think you would follow this politician or that because you’re of a certain religion.”

A good person realizes that the fight for life does not end at the delivery of that life into the world, but that the fight must continue for that life until the Powers that Be declare that life is over.

A good person does not follow someone who declares themselves to be a good person, but who has allowed over 200,000 people to die because of ignorance and inaction.

A good person does not separate families who have struggled to come to this country in a search of a better life simply because they weren’t able to follow the rules due to the government’s neglect of what is often a dire situation.

A good person does not live in fear of words like “socialism” because they were once used in a negative fashion in non-democratic countries.

A good person knows that healthcare is not a privilege but a right, because a good person is a font of compassion.

Miller Fountain at Western Michigan University
(They've redone it since I was last there!)

A good person supports ideas like universal healthcare because it hurts their heart to see someone bankrupted because of medical bills.

A good person doesn’t fight back against things like higher minimum wages and a universal basic income, because a good person does not wish to see others hungry or homeless.

A good person hopes that tuition will one day be lowered or eliminated because no one should be stopped from pursuing their dreams due to their financial situation, nor should they be saddled with unconquerable debt simply because they attempted to be a positive contribution to society.

A good person does not allow the desire for money to override the need to preserve the environment.

This is the tree I named my kitty after!
(It's a Linden.)

A good person does not hate anyone for being transgendered, homosexual or anything else, because a good person loves their neighbor as they love themselves.

A good person does not discriminate against those who are different than them, because a good person understands that we are all equal.

A good person follows good people and trusts fellow good people to do the same, without resorting to attacks or coercion.


Most importantly: a good person does not have to be taught how to be a good person, because they are already doing these things themselves.

And the lighthouse goes out…

I wanted to post something cheerful for Susie's blog-hop, especially since I'm trying to attract people to my Samhuinn Kindle Countdown (28-31 October, Barefoot on the Couch only); but sometimes life decides that cheerfulness is overrated.

Like when your last (biological) grandparent passes on and you weren't really expecting it.

So I'm dedicating this to my grandparents—all my grandparents—and I'll just write what comes.

Arthur Joseph Martin ~ 18 February 1918 – 24 May 1998

What do you say about a gentleman you never really knew? Despite being precocious, I still feel like I didn't start having "real" conversations1 until eleven or twelve—at which point Pop-Pop was already in the throes of vascular dementia.

I know he read Dean Koontz (he always kept his book of the moment behind his spot on the couch in the trailer where my grandparents summered), and I know Dean is more thriller-ish than Stephen King, but I always tell people that I'm sure he would've loved discussing Stephen's books with me—or any books at all. Nevermind that I haven't read anything other than "Uncle Stevie's" tweets for a long time. Gasp!

That is, if I could've engaged him in conversation at all—Pop-Pop was a notoriously quiet person.


Art passed in Lakeland, Florida due to complications from a stroke. He was 80.


1Conversations of a substantial nature that an adult wouldn't mind listening to and/or participating in. I suppose having an idea of when I crossed that line tells you exactly how precocious I was!



Anita Theresa Rademacher ~ 23 February 1920 – 17 April 2004

Of course, just because you're eighteen doesn't mean you can have a conversation any easier.

For some reason, Grandma Martin and I never really warmed up to each other. Maybe she thought I was too much like my mom. I know I never felt she was very warm and fuzzy, which didn't help anything. But maybe she was just one of those people who likes little kids and doesn't want anything to do with them once they can think for themselves. (That would explain why she would dandle me on her knee and sing me a German song when I was a little, but seemed to grow cooler as I got older.)

I don't know why I was hoping she'd live long enough to see me graduate high school…wishing for one last shot at approval, maybe? Except when you're dying, you're probably not thinking of your youngest granddaughter finishing grade school, so I'm not sure it matters.

Despite not being very close, Grandma did personally hand me my inheritance before she went into hospice: a small pewter frog that I'd played with when I was little. (She loved gardening, wrens, hummingbirds, angels and frogs.) You bet your sweet syrup I still have it fourteen years later! It's my freaking frog and I don't plan on parting with it any time soon!


Anita passed from complications due to what was suspected to be pancreatic cancer.

Though far from the final visitor to her hospice room, I was the last one she spoke to.

She was 84.



Pat & Cleo's 50th Anniversary Hoedown, Summer 2004

From front right: Pat Prescott [71], Cleo Prescott [78], Mari Martin [49], Dayanara Ryelle [18], Mike Prescott [48]

Yes, my grandma was two months pregnant when she walked down the aisle!


Cleo Frederick Prescott ~ 20 November 1925 – 23 January 2011

Conversely, how do you mash 25-32 years of memories into one little blog space?

Maybe I should start with this one. I'm going to guess I was pretty young, given my size. Probably not asleep, but simply enjoying the Lake Michigan breeze as we sailed. Location? One of the decks of SS Badger, also known as the Lake Michigan Carferry. (Still running on coal as I write this, after getting an exemption from the EPA!)

Teaching me how to ride a bike. Supervising me as I drove back and forth to my (unwilling) position with him and Grandma as an assistant in their ceramic shop. Building campfires for supper and general relaxing during each camping trip. Big Christmas breakfasts (and regular ones that were none too small!) in which he tried to make me a pancake man. Singing me folk songs like "I Went to the Animal Fair".

Like Pop-Pop, Grandpa suffered from vascular alzheimer's, so his personality died in 2009, even as his body held on for another two years. But that didn't make it any easier to bear, because I loved him so much.


I couldn't tell this story at his memorial service because I knew I'd be too wrecked. But my mom was able to hold herself together long enough to tell it—which I appreciated, as it was Grandpa's favorite. (He loved it so much that he kept repeating it even in the throes of dementia!)

Like many grandpas, mine went off to serve in World War II, ending up in Japan hauling water (for the Air Force, I believe). He happened to be taking a break one day when he heard an officer say, "Man, what I wouldn't give for a pot of potato soup!"

"I can make potato soup, Sir!" Grandpa said bravely. (think he was brave, anyway…I couldn't imagine getting up the courage to do that!)

Well, that must have been one badass pot of soup, because Cleo Prescott spent the rest of the war as a mess sergeant in the Army. He may have never seen the front lines; but if you ask me, feeding dozens of hungry troops is a battle all its own.


As is often the case with vascular alzheimer's, Cleo succumbed to multiple successive strokes on January 23, 2011. He was 85.



Patricia Ann Lynd ~ 24 February 1933 – 24 September 2018

My grandmother was none too gentle in my younger years, having retained some of the famous "redhead temper" into her fifties and partway into her sixties. Still, if asked to choose a favorite grandma back then, she would've won.

As we got older, we became better friends, and I learned that I could confide in her without the judgement and criticism I'd often received from my mother.1 She returned the favor, admitting that she'd been heartbroken and quite depressed for the first few years after my grandpa's death, but unwilling to tell my mother and uncle for fear they wouldn't sympathize and completely dismiss her grief.

Unfortunately, the last few months were rough. She'd finally agreed to go off steroids after seven years, but sacrificed much of the movement in her hands and other extremities in the process. Her doctors had also cut back on her Percocet (due to the opioid epidemic, she said), leaving her in a great deal of pain. Worse, a few weeks ago, they found fluid around her heart—a sure sign that she was already struggling with the end.

Grandma loved her ceramics and had more artistic certifications than I've ever seen in any field. She was a big fan of camping (and hiking while she was still able) and enjoyed going to Algonac to see the ships moving cargo up and down the Saint Clair River. Most of all, she loved lighthouses—collecting them, painting them and reading about them as much as she could.


Pat died Monday, presumably from complications of arterial fibrillation and general heart failure. She was 85.


1 I still wouldn't be talking to her if it wasn't for my grandmother's death, as conversation frequently drifted to claims that my grandmother "wasn't all there" and had "problems with the truth". I can't speak for the latter, but the former is bullshit—nobody who is losing their mind should be able to converse at length about playing basketball and clarinet as my grandmother did in the last six months! Eighty-five and she could still tell me who played what position and the names of the girls that were first and second chair to her third.



My beloved lighthouse has gone out…