Posts tagged “Nerdery

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 Little Too Ambitious

Ah, that wonderful moment when you think, "Oh my damn…what did I do?!"


I've been dabbling in astrology for years—mainly pulling charts for certain gentlemen toward which I have affection in some form or another—and I decided to study it seriously sometime in the last few weeks. I looked around and found a program that will let you pay module-by-module, and I determined out of three software programs most commonly in use, Win*Star was probably the most practical and reasonably priced. (I also picked up another program for fun, but since I don't have a problem with it, I'm not going to discuss it.) I was all excited to have it…until I wasn't.

I'm pretty sure I was already aware that the interface looked like a relic from Windows 95, but not that it would be hard to navigate. I played quite a bit of "what does this button do?", and I'm still unsure.

The included charts look nothing like I want them to (which is crazy, because there are approximately a zillion) and the aspect lines (those indicating conjunctions, squares, trines, etcetera) won't show up even after clicking the appropriate box.

I even tried the blank chart, thinking I could press one button (or select a pulldown) to give me planets, another aspects, a third to connect the lines…but if it's there, I can't see it.

I'm going to try looking up some tutorials on YouTube to see if that helps before seeking a refund, but I just wanted to have a record of me not liking WS so they won't think I'm trying to cheat them out of their money. (Of course, they can probably deactivate my customer number or something, but…)

As for another program? The Solar Fire demo won't even install, so I can't be sure I won't hate that one, too. It looked really nice when I had a consultation with another astrologer, but looking nice and feeling nice are two different things entirely.

The Story of My First Story

I crave your pardon in advance if I’ve already told this story. I think I’ve shared it in bits and pieces over the years (and mentioned a little on my bibliography page), but do not believe I’ve ever posted the entire story at once.


When I was in high school, I dated a guy named Kyle1 through the end of his senior year and the start of his time in community college. Kyle was taking a media issues and television production class with Professor Parker2, whom he got to chatting with one day and confessed his love for the work of director Sam Raimi. It turned out that the professor knew Dr. Octavius at Michigan State, who’d had Sam in class many years ago, so Professor Parker put Kyle and the doctor in touch. To Kyle’s great joy, Dr. Octavius still talked to Sam from time to time and promised to get Kyle an interview with him the next time he came back to Michigan3.

Not the real Professor Parker and Doctor Octavius. Sorry, y’all.

[Had to update the picture in 2021 and now he looks even more like a professor! Nice.]

I want to say, “I don’t know why I said this”, but I do know. I said it, but I also thought there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that it was going to happen.

I had the audacity to say, “Maybe you should ask Sam if I can be in one of his future movies.”

And Kyle had the temerity to do it.


I need to step back from the story a minute, because I believe it’s important to tell you: I have absolutely no reason to believe Kyle was lying to me. Not then, not ever.7

First, because he was deeply in love with me. If I had loved him in return, we would’ve been married several years ago, and his children would also be mine.

Second, I made him tell me the number he was calling, and my friends and I have both verified that it belongs/belonged to Renaissance Pictures (Sam’s production company). It wasn’t some audio spoof that Kyle set up somehow—not only is he not that clever, but the calls I mentioned happened at random times over several years, making it difficult to maintain a phone number and recording for that long. (Plus, this went down in 2001—before the era of Skype, Google Voice and a zillion other such apps.)4


Not that that explanation makes it sound any less crazy when I say “they agreed”.

When Kyle called the first time, he spoke to someone who claimed he was Grant Curtis (pictured with co-producer Laura Ziskin), Sam’s assistant.5, 6 Despite having no demo reel, no resume, no headshot, no audition video or screentest, “Grant” claimed they could use me in the third movie as the Green Goblin‘s long-lost daughter. (I don’t know how they’d stretch the following story out so far, but I wasn’t thinking in terms of that at the time.)

The story would go that—ever paranoid—Norman Osborn had prepared for the event of his death by not trusting his son (Harry) with his fortune. (Nice father, right? But if you’ve seen the Raimi movies, you know this is normal.) Instead, ownership of his company and all his assets reverted to the sister Harry never knew he had, and it would be up to Harry to track her down if he wanted his inheritance. Nothing was ever decided on whether he’d know how to find her, only that she was living in Australia (which I later asked to be changed to Ireland).

I also recall submitting a list of names from which they could choose a forename and middle, and they settled on Ophelia Rhiannon. (I’d hoped they’d settle on Ophelia…it looks So Very Proper next to her brother’s name.)

He could’ve been my first movie daddy. Seriously.

But here’s where my memory gets fuzzy, since this was 2001 or so.

I know they stalled.


They eventually decided they were “going a different way” and they didn’t want me anymore.

Most people would give up, but you can’t give a novelist a storyseed and expect her to ignore it because of copyright.

At least not if you’re me!

[October 2021]

lot has been excised from this entry after this point because (1) it’s old and I’ve changed a lot, and (2) there’s stuff I don’t want to share with the next person to read this! (At least not yet. Maybe someday.)

The short version is that I wrote my debut novel based on this character (and it’s been criticized for being bad, but I was twenty-four, for the sake of all the gods at once!) and it held too close to the Ramiverse movies to be very good—not to mention the copyrighted characters that I never received permission to use! (I wrote to Marvel twice, but never heard back. They probably thought I was crazy.)

Now I’ve taken the novel in a whole different direction (Ophelia doesn’t even have the same pre-story job, for starters; and her prometido doesn’t exist—if she even gets married at all in this one), the copyrighted characters have had their names changed (Peter Parker/Spider-Man is now Taki mac Artair/Night Spider), Night Spider will probably get killed off pretty quickly for being young and stupid, and it will take place on a completely different Earth so certain actors who have seen their character die can be revived elsewhere. (Ahem.)

For reference:

  • Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies took place on Earth 96283
  • Marc Webb’s are on Earth 120703
  • The current movies (by Jon Watts) are Earth 199999
  • Since it appears not to be taken, I’m claiming Earth 517 as my own

Oh and I solemnly swear I came up with the idea of using the symbiotes before I knew/remembered that there was going to be a separate Venom movie. (Which I liked quite a bit, by the way.) When the idea first swam to the surface, it was a leftover from the Earth 96283 days. And these aren’t Klyntar, they’re synthetic, which means no copyright violation and none of that horrendous brain-eating stuff. Huzzah!

I guess when I discontinued Ophelia, the listing left Amazon completely (unlike my discontinued paperbacks), so the current version of the cover isn’t there—making it the perfect thing to end the revised version of this entry with. (That and I can’t reuse it for Sevens.) So here we are:

1Name changed to one of his favorite characters (Modern Age version, according to Wiki) less to protect his identity and more because his real name is boring. Plus, I had a long-term crush on a guy whose name was actually Kyle, so it kind of all fits?

2I don’t know these professors’ real names, so I’m using Spider-Man characters.

3Sam grew up in Michigan, and one of his brother is an emergency room doctor in the Detroit area. The other is a frequent guest star in his movies.

4During the course of writing this, I realized that I’d never asked Kyle if he ever lied to me. So I finally did, and he said no. Which I believe, because—as I said before— I know he loved me.

5That doesn’t make too much sense now when you check his IMDb page and discover that he wasn’t credited as Sam’s assistant back then; but you could also argue that it was meant as “assistant producer” or some such, and you’d be partially correct.

6Kyle spoke a few times with another gentleman who said he was Grant’s assistant, but I can’t remember which times anymore, so I’m leaving him out.

7The numbers got mucked up because I started this in 2018 and didn’t want to rearrange them when I came back to work on this in 2020. Anyway, I found out in 2019 that he was lying and had possibly lied to me by the time I started this post. But probably not about this. (If anyone was lying it was someone on the other end to him.)

Silver and Gold!

I’ve been messing around with genealogy and I’m pretty sure I’ve hit the motherload. (Seriously…all I was expecting were knights and some minor to moderate lords…NOT THIS!)

I was going to title this “Sneak Preview”, but let’s face it: this is the genealogical holy grail, right here. This is the sort of thing thousands of people dig for each year and never find. I should probably be crying, but it hasn’t hit yet.

Dayanara Ryelle

Mari Prescott (mother)

Patricia Lynd (grandmother)

Lester Lynd (great grandfather and son of)

Bessie Small (daughter of)

John (son of)

Frederick (son of)

Jacob (son of)

Elizabeth Earhart/Erhard (daughter of)

Sophia Spencer (daughter of)

Mary Gostwick (daughter of)

Lady Anne Wentworth (daughter of)

Lady Cecilia Unton (daughter of)

Lady Anne Seymour, who comes from…yes, THAT FAMILY!

Which makes Edward Seymour my THIRTEENTH GREAT GRANDFATHER!

Edward Seymour’s brother Thomas married Queen Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. (Queen Catherine would be my 13th great aunt.)

Edward Seymour’s sister was Queen Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. (Queen Jane is also my 13th great aunt.)

Edward Seymour’s nephew was King Edward VI, the only living son of Henry VIII. (King Edward is my first cousin, 13 times removed.)

King Henry VIII (Tudor), 13th great uncle = Queen Jane Seymour, 13th great aunt

Queen Elizabeth of York, 14th great aunt = King Henry VII (Tudor), 14th great uncle

Queen Elizabeth Woodville, 15th great aunt = King Edward IV, 15th great uncle

(Edward IV’s brother was Richard III and Edward’s son was the never-crowned Edward V, one of the Princes in the Tower.)

I think I’ll quit, now.

Anything else will be anticlimactic. O.o

You don’t have to be Catholic…

I find myself saying, “I’m not Catholic anymore, but…”, except I don’t have to. I respect the Pope on a celebrity level, he’s the leader of the smallest country in the world and an American could have a chance at the office just as easily as anyone else. If presidents and heads-of-state from all over can flock to Vatican City for the installation of a new Pope, why can’t I, a Pagan, be excited and fascinated?

This is the third Pope of my lifetime and the eighth for my (Catholic) father. (He was born seven years before the death of Pius XII and has also seen the reigns of John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul I. I, on the other hand, was born eight years into John Paul II’s reign, so until 2005, JP2 was the only Pope I’d ever known.) When I went to World Youth Days¹ 2002, my friends said, “Why are you going? You’re Wiccan.” But I made a promise to myself when I was a young girl that if I ever had a chance to go, I would. It didn’t matter that I was sixteen and long past thoughts of the Catholic church (despite having to go each Sunday until after graduation)…I wanted to go! And really, it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are–the crowd for the final mass is always huge² and electrifying. If you don’t feel the energy, you must be dead inside!

I don’t remember this much excitement in 2005. I swear I watched the news and read the paper, just like I do now, but I do not remember almost-daily articles in the Lansing State Journal and periodic reports on television. CBS even had Randall Pinkston reporting from Vatican City today at noon! Maybe it was because Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was a surefire pick for the pontificate and the cardinals are not so sure this time around. Personally, I would love to see Timothy Cardinal Dolan or Sean Cardinal O’Malley rise to the white. Hell, I’m not picky…even a Canadian cardinal would be a good get in my book! But an American cardinal would be a cause for dancing in the streets! (My second/third choice would be a cardinal from Central or South America.)


Things that Stick Out About the American Candidates

  • Tim pretended to celebrate mass as a child. (Wow…that’s so nerdy I can hardly stand it! *giggle*)
  • Tim has published eight books, the latest in 2009. (High marks from the novelista on that one!)
  • Sean has a blog. At the blog’s inauguration on September 19, 2006, he was the first cardinal to have one. He’s also had a podcast since Christmas that year.³
  • Tim is the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • Tim became a cardinal on January 6, 2012. (One day before my twenty-sixth birthday.)
  • Sean has been a cardinal since March 24, 2006.
  • Sean’s educational credits give me a nerdgasm. (*gigglefit*)
  • Sean has ministerial experience with Latinos.
  • Sean believes that the Democratic party has been too hard on pro-life people. (Going to WYDs made me turn pro-life, so I’m glad he came to our defense.)
  • Sean created a zero-tolerance policy for the sexual abuse cases he worked with. He reportedly settled one hundred and one.

The “Not Cool” List

  • Tim bribed sexually abusive priests with payments of 20k (each) to get them to resign.
  • Tim did not approve of the president’s health and human services mandate. (Although I suppose he ameliorated the issue a little by saying that the revised version was a step in the right direction.)


My Conclusion

I feel like the Wikipedia article on Sean wasn’t quite as extensive as the one on Tim, so I’m not sure how easily I can make a decision. However, based on what I read, I believe Sean Cardinal O’Malley is my American candidate of choice. The fact that he has a blog and a podcast shows that he’s in touch with today’s young Catholics, while the charitable work highlighted in his article made me feel good about his potential decisions regarding the future of the Catholic church as a whole. I love that his education and linguistic abilities make it easy for him to focus on a “Latino-centric” ministry; especially given that Catholicism–long practiced among those of Spanish descent–is on the rise amongst Latinos.

Besides gay and female rights (which will take a long time for the church to deal with, if ever), the sex scandal is a big issue with me. The “repression/celibacy is too much” claim aside (and I can’t say I argue with it), how each cardinal deals with problem (and has dealt with it in the past) goes a long way toward coloring each candidate for me. The fact that Tim bribed priests to resign (even though he claimed it wasn’t a bribe) is a huge black mark in my book. The zero tolerance policy adopted by Sean is probably the best remedy for the scandal. I can’t necessarily say that Sean’s policy should be the rule for all of the abuse cases, since I am woefully undereducated in that issue, but it should certainly be considered by those with the most knowledge of the situation.




¹ Technically “World Youth Day”, on a set Sunday each year. But in my opinion, if it’s not plural, what do you call the days leading up to it? That’s why I always pluralize.

² At the time, I heard one million people were present for the final mass. However, Wikipedia reports 850k. Either way, it’s still the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in…and the worst trouble I’ve ever had getting to a porta-potty! This year’s celebration will be held in Rio from July 23-28. (You can find more about my year here. If you want to hear my memories, use the Disqus comment form below or hit me up on Twitter!)

³ This is a very good thing. If he’s promoted, I have little doubt that he’ll make great use of the papal Twitter account, which will make him the shining light of young Catholics everywhere.


Something I Learned While Writing this Blog: With the presence of 850,000 people, Downsview Park (a retired Canadian air force base) was temporarily the fourth biggest city in Canada. HOLY SHIT! (Pardon the pun!)