Saturday, January 31, 2015

Recently Read: Mary Magdalene: Princess of Orange

I've finished reading Mary Magdalene: Princess of Orange by Ralph Ellis. It was an interesting read. The first half of the book dealt with the Mary Magdalene/Orange mythos, and the second half was pretty much a polemical about various things, including Islam and environmentalism.

I'll focus on the first half of the book as that's what's relevant here. The main points of interest were;

  • Mary Magdalene was a descendant of the Egyptian Ptolemaic line - the line that also produced Cleopatra
  • One of these Ptolemaic ancestors went by the name Thea Muse Ourania - Ourania meaning golden among other things
  • That after arriving in France, Mary Magdalene lived in/founded the French town of Orange
  • That the House of Orange derives its name from both this town and its links to Mary
  • That Orantes (statues or images of people with their arms outstretched in prayer) were symbolic of Mary
  • That Oranges, Gold and Red/Blond Hair all became symbolic of Mary Magdalene and her family line
  • That some fairy tales, most notably the story of Rapunzel, are covert references to the story of Mary Magdalene
  • That the orbs that kings and rulers are often portrayed holding are symbolic of oranges (and also the Earth over which they rule)
  • That Mary Magdalene was often portrayed in art covered/clothed in her long hair
  • That the Reformation and subsequent Enlightenment in part stemmed from this Orange/Magdalene under-culture

Ellis also points out that the name Caesar comes from the Latin word caesaries meaning hair. Obviously lots of this is relevant to red hair. Interestingly, it also provides a link between the red hair of Reformation Europe and the red hair of ancient times. Well worth reading.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Red Hair Illustrations

Speaking of art I came across these images when I was walking past Teesside University yesterday. They look pretty cool. I had to take a few pictures, what with the red hair an all. I think they're by an artist/illustrator called Alessandro Taini.

The Tree of Knowledge - An Orange Tree?

Following on from the topic of oranges, I've been reading about the possibility that the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was an orange tree. Obviously there can be no absolute certainty with this as the story was just that, a story, and the fruit in it was unspecified. However, it's nevertheless interesting to look at how this myth has been interpreted over the years.

We generally think of the fruit as an apple - a symbol of sexuality. However, in some regards an orange would make more sense, as the tree bestowed knowledge and an orange could be regarded as a symbol of the sun, gold, light and illumination. (This is touched upon in the Mary Magdalene: Princess of Orange book which I mentioned in my last post - I'll review it on here when I've finished reading it).

In some works of art the fruit is actually depicted as an orange as well. The image beneath is by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Note the difference between the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge in the foreground and the fruit on the trees in the background.

I also came across this painting called The Fall by Michiel Coxcie.

No doubt there are many others out there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mary Magdalene, House of Orange

I'm quite excited today :D

Last night I came across a book titled Mary Magdalene: Princess of Orange by Ralph Ellis. It links together Mary Magdalene, the House of Orange, red hair and the Protestant movement. This seems to tally with my own research and speculation about red hair being a totem of Protestantism.

It's quite satisfying to find someone else thinking along similar lines. I've just downloaded the book. I felt I was out on my own with this stuff, so it's a reassurance that maybe I'm on the right track. Hopefully the book will provide even more evidence.

I listened to Ralph Ellis speaking about the book online last night and he pointed out something that hadn't occurred to me - the link between the word orange and the word gold. In Latin the word for gold is aurum, like aura, hence the French word for it - or, and the Spanish oro. This would suggest that orange and gold are cognate, and that the generally accepted etymology of the word orange is slightly wrong.

Sweet :)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Flamingos and Phrygian Caps

I've been talking a lot about fires, Phoenicians and the Phoenix in recent posts. Anyway, I've just came across something I'd never thought about before - the flamingo. The name obviously suggests flame, and it supposedly relates to the Spanish word flamenco. Looking up flamenco it says the etymology is contested, and that it possibly relates to flame or Flemish. (If Flemish equals flame then that would be a very interesting avenue to go down.)

Flamingos are bright pink/red of course, and it's easy to see how the name flame would apply. It's said that they were a possible inspiration for the Phoenix bird. If this was the case the pink colour of the Flamingo would maybe help explain the red/purple confusion regarding the name Phoenician.

Interestingly, Flamingos are part of the genus Phoenicopterus. I'm guessing this was a post-Linnaeus naming, inspired by the Phoenix/flamingo link, it certainly adds promise though.

Tonight I also came across the Phrygian cap in my wanderings - the red cap associated with freedom and liberty in revolutionary France. It never occurred to me before that the red Phrygian cap might sync in with red hair, but now I've started to marry red hair with the Protestant reformation it does seem a possibility.

Investigations continue.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bodhidharma - Red Hair?

Yesterday I listened to an episode from Red Ice Radio titled Bodhidharma: The Blue-Eyed, Red-Bearded Barbarian. I won't link to it as I felt it had mildly racist undertones that I feel uncomfortable promoting without comment, but it contained some interesting information regarding red hair, and it's there on YouTube for anyone that wants to search for it.

The main thrust of the interview was that Bodhidharma, the famed Buddhist monk, was a red-haired, blue-eyed European. He's apparently described as 'blue-eyed' and 'red-bearded' in ancient texts, and also depictions of him in art show him as a red-bearded European.

(Incidentally, the names Bodhidharma and Buddhist look quite similar to me.)

Apparently, a lot of people were referred to as 'red-bearded' in eastern texts, the Chinese regarding all foreigners as red-haired barbarians. This seems like something worth delving into more. I've never really looked very deeply into red hair in the east, so I might have to widen my net a bit and start searching.

The guy being interviewed also stated that the native-American Mayans put on fake red beards to signify their nobility.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Robin Hood - Red Head??

I couldn't resist the temptation to write a follow-up to that last post. The idea that Robin Hood might equate to Red Head (robin meaning red, and hood possibly equalling head) just being too tempting.

Robin Hood of course was an outlaw, robin might even be cognate with robbing or robber. I've come across red hair and outlaws before - notably the red-headed bandits of Mawddach, a large band of outlaws and thieves that terrorised Wales during the 16th century.

This all tallies a little bit with something else I've been covering recently - the relationship between red hair and the ancient Phoenicians. The Phoenicians may seem quite far removed from robbers and bandits, however a possible link may be found in the word pirate. Some people have suggested that there could be a link between the words pirate and pyro, meaning fire, as in funeral pyre or pyrotechnics. In fact, the words pyre and fire are quite similar.

The Phoenicians are also linked with fire via the fabled Phoenix, the fire-bird, consumed in flames and re-born out of the ashes. The word Phoenician not only begins with a P like pyro, but also with a F-sound (Ph) like fire. So maybe pirates, the bandits of the sea, link in with the sea-faring Phoenicians. Maybe the names share a common origin.

The name Phoenician also supposedly means red/purple-people, as we've discussed before. Could pyro and purple be cognate with each other? Did 'purple' originally mean the colour of fire? - hence the confusion over whether it notates a red or a purple colouring.

This is all highly speculative of course, but I can't help but wonder out loud.

Going back to Robin Hood though it's interesting to note that in early ballads Robin Hood supposedly wore red clothing. He was also often accompanied by Will Scarlet :p

Robin Redbreasts, Robert, Red Hair and Rethinking

A few weeks back I mentioned I was looking into the name Robert and its possible relation to the words ruby and ruddy. My contention being that maybe Robert was another red name.

Anyway, I think I've made a breakthrough. A robin redbreast keeps popping in our garden and it made me wonder if the name robin meant red as well.

According to Wikipedia;
The distinctive orange breast of both sexes contributed to the European robin's original name of redbreast. In the fifteenth century, when it became popular to give human names to familiar species, the bird came to be known as robin redbreast, which was eventually shortened to robin.
This doesn't seem quite right to me. The idea that people started giving animals human names seems a little bit silly to me. I can't imagine the fifteenth century was that quaint. It seems much more likely that it was named robin simply because it was red. This is backed up by the next line on the Wikipedia page that states;
Other older English names for the bird include ruddock and robinet.
Robinet is obviously just another version of robin, and the name ruddock actually meant red - hence the word ruddy - supposedly deriving from the Old English word rudig.

Now given that we're told that the name Robin derives from the name Robert, this must mean that the etymology of both names is wrong. Wikipedia tells us that Robert... a Germanic given name, from Old High German Hrodebert "bright with glory" (a compound of hruod "fame, glory" and berht "bright").
I would say that hruod, rather then meaning fame/glory as stated, was actually a variant of the word red, giving the name meaning as something more like bright-red.

Interestingly, if we can accept that Robin/Robert meant red then this in turn would also shift our thinking in regard other people from history and fable that had the name. Robin Hood would possibly become red-hood (Little Red Riding Hood??). Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck), that famed figure from English folklore, would also maybe need rethinking. Not to mention all the various king Roberts.

I also read that in the twelfth century the name Ruddock (and other variant spellings of the name) was given to people with extreme sexual habits. Is this where the word rude comes from?

Incidentally, is the word hood a variant of head?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Juan Ponce de Leon - Redhead?

It's often stated elsewhere on the internet that the Spanish explorer and conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon was a redhead. I thought I'd have a deeper look into this to see if it's true. Although I haven't come across a definitive reference for the statement, I have found it mentioned in numerous books (modern works that is), often accompanied by the statement that he was 'renowned' or 'well-known' for having red hair. I think this is enough for me to add him, with a degree of certainty, to the redhead canon, although an earlier reference would be nice.

I also found out that Ponce de Leon and his fellow conquistadors were accompanied by a red-haired attack dog named Becerillo, which they used to terrify and attack native Indians. The following quote comes from a book titled Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico by Hugh Thomas;
The subsequent conquest was simple, marked by the achievements of his dog Becerillo, who, with his terrifying red hair and black eyes, became renowned for his skill in distinguishing by smell between friendly and enemy Indians.
My searches also threw up this quote about a one-eyed, red-haired conquistador. I found this in a book titled Dream State by Diane Roberts.
Panfilo de Narvaez, a red-haired, one-eyed, mean son of Spain, famous for ordering the slaughter of 2,500 native people in Cuba, got the license to run Florida after Juan Ponce de Leon succumbed to that Calusa arrow.
The same book also produced this interesting little titbit about red hair;
The Spanish always get the credit for being the first Europeans to see Florida. They may not have been. The Welsh tell how Madog, a twelfth-century prince, sailed around the Keys up into the Gulf of Mexico. One of my great-uncles said the first Robertses and Tuckers met a blue-eyed, red-haired Welsh-speaking Indian.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Prince Idon of Mu

I recently came across the 'Prince Idon of Mu' red hair origin myth again. This is a tale that appears on various websites and states that a legendary figure named Prince Idon was the very first redhead - acquiring his red hair after visiting Atlantis. The story goes something like this;
Prince Idon discovered Atlantis after fleeing his homeland. He arrived during sunset and was so amazed by the beautiful red colours of the sky and the clouds that his hair turned bright red. He became the first redhead and all other redheads descend from him.
I came across this story years ago on-line and immediately dismissed it out of hand as it seemed so obviously made up. At the time I was only interested in the history of redheads and had no interest in the modern mythology of red hair - of which this is a classic example.

Coming across it again I thought I'd have another look at it. I thought maybe there might be at least a half-truth in there somewhere. However, I couldn't find any provenance for it whatsoever. Even the name Idon doesn't seem to appear anywhere in ancient mythology. Maybe it stands for I-don't know.

It does appear as an English family name in various different spellings. There's also the Norse god IĆ°unn (or Idene), a female deity associated with apples and youth.

I guess Idon could also be viewed as a variant on Eden or Odin.

In summary though I'd have to say that this legend is probably %100 made up. It's probably no older than I am. There could be the possibility that it has its origins in some Theosophical work - the legend of the lost continent of Lemuria is very 19th century. However, I'm not hopeful, I'll keep my eye out for anything that may relate though.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Red-Bearded Judas and Boudica

I recently read the play Bonduca - a Jacobean play about the Celto-British queen Boudica and her spirited resistance to the imperialism of ancient Rome.

Strangely, a character named Judas figures in the play. One of Bonduca's daughters refers to him as -
That hungry fellow, with the red beard
No doubt tapping into the common notion that Judas sported red hair. True to form Judas is also devious, cowardly and self-interested in the play.

I'll take this as more evidence of a general belief that red hair was a token of distrust.

As for the play itself, it was fairly entertaining. It was loosely based on the story of Boudica as told by the writers Cassius Dio and Tacitus.

Interestingly, Cassius Dio described Boudica as having long red hair that hung below her waist. He also stated that she wore a many-coloured tunic and a large golden necklace.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Red Hair, The Reformation and Forged History

Last month I was looking at ancient quotes about red hair. One striking anomaly was that the ancient writers repeatedly referred to the Germanic tribes as being red-haired. For example this from the writer Tacitus;
For my own part, I agree with those who think that the tribes of Germany are free from all taint of inter-marriages with foreign nations, and that they appear as a distinct, unmixed race, like none but themselves. Hence, too, the same physical peculiarities throughout so vast a population. All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames....
However, if we look at the people that live in what's now modern-day Germany we can see that red hair is rather uncommon. Either the ancient writers located 'Germany' somewhere different to where we locate it today or the population make-up of Germany has massively changed in the last 2000 years. Either that or the ancient writers were simply mistranslated or wrong.

All these possibilities are interesting in their own way, however there's one other possibility that, although far-fetched, is maybe even more interesting. And that is that these 'ancient' works, far from being truly ancient, were actually medieval/renaissance forgeries. In fact, the authenticity of some of the works of Tacitus were questioned by scholars when they first re-emerged into print after the dark ages.

If that was indeed the case then the next question would be - why create a forgery describing the Germans as red-haired when they clearly weren't?

In previous posts I've talked about the possible relationship between red hair, the Reformation and the colour orange. Namely that red hair and the colour orange became totemic symbols for the Protestant movement.

Now Germany of course was something of a hotbed in regards the Protestant movement. (I've also noted before the common theme of red hair in the Northern Renaissance artwork of the period.) Anyway, could the Reformation/Humanist scholars of the time deliberately have forged 'ancient' works to emphasise the totemic 'red hair' of the Germanic tribes? Much like the way the Nazis repainted the Germanic peoples as being blond-haired and blue-eyed to suit their particular vision.

It should be noted that many of these ancient works tell the story of Rome's Caesar and Co, fighting red-haired tribes in the north of Europe. Paralleling how the Roman Catholic church fought the Protestant northern states of renaissance Europe. Were these works another example of an ancient story being told to parallel and influence a more modern cause? - the same way that Protestants retold the story of ancient Rome's Lucretia as an allegory for the transgressions of the Roman Catholic pope.

It's an interesting idea.