Spell a Day – Jan 9th 2016

Today’s entry from my new almanac is about personal glyphs or sigils. This is something I have not really done but perhaps I should. Then I can mark my works like one of my idols, J.R.R. Tolkien did. Here is what he did with his initials.
JRRTolkienGlyph

You can clearly see the J, then he reversed his R’s and the T crosses the J to make it complete.

So I decided to do a little research into my family lineage to see what was out there already. I looked into the Ferrell name and most records point to Ireland, where it is believed to come from  Ó Fearghail. In Irish Gaelic this is presumed to mean “Man of Valor”. Not a bad legacy to live up to. Immigration records trace back to 1701. There are records of Ferrell (or one of it’s other spellings, including Farrell most commonly) on the rosters of both the union and the confederacy. There is even a record of a Captain Robert Ferrell in the Revolutionary War, as well as a John H. Ferrell, who was awarded a Medal of Honor as a member of the Union Navy in 1865.

Taking my cue from the Irish background. I looked up some Irish Gaelic Runes. Google directed me to Ogham, an early alphabet from at least 4th Century AD. It is believed to be older than that.
ogham_vert

I have always had an interest in rune stones, but I had always stuck more to the Futhark runes as that is the ones used for runecasting that I studied once upon a time. I have some Tarot Cards too.

Using the Ogham alphabet, I constructed a a rather uninteresting looking sigil from my initials. Certainly nothing like what Tolkien came up with using the standard alphabet.
OghamInitials

I can certainly come up with something better than that. Sadly the Futhark alphabet I am more familiar with yielded nothing any better looking. I will spare you that image.

So I tried to start thinking outside of the box. Something I have always thought of getting a tattoo of, if I were to ever take that step, would be a symbol of Gemini, my astrological sign. My favorite forms of this are the ones with the little bit of curve to them, as opposed to the straight line blocks. To have the little bit of curve and flow seems to fit more with the somewhat airy and intellectual side attributed to Gemini people.
gemini.jpg

Taking the above picture as my base, I played with the runes and discarded them again. They just did not seem to convey my name in anyway. Going back to the standard alphabet, I came up with a design that I think has potential. Granted I am no artist so please be gentle.
AMFGlyph.JPG

I did decide after the first drawing to move the line for the F down a little so that it would stand out better without looking like an E with the bottom of the Gemini symbol. What do you think? If anyone makes their own glyph/sigil and wants to share in the comments I would love to see them. Have a great one and see you next time.

On this Day in Literary History – Nov. 8th

Gentle readers, indulge me if you will. I am going to attempt a new series of posts to keep things lively. I am calling them, On this Day in Literary History. I am hoping to find something of consequence each day that holds some personal meaning to me and share with you a bit of history, a bit of myself, and generally just revel in the lush history that is the written word. So, to begin, here is a writer who has written a book I have read multiple times, whose birthday just happens to be today.

Bram_Stoker_1906

I imagine it was a chilly day in Dublin Ireland the morning of November 8th, 1847. This day would see a literary giant born the third child of a well to do family. Abraham “Bram” Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) would spend much of the first 7 years of his life bedridden. When he recovered, he was enrolled in private school. It is said he attributed his long years of illness beneficial to his thought development. Even excelling at athletics later in life, Bram found early success as a theatre critic with the Dublin Evening Mail. His review of a production of Hamlet garnered him a dinner with the great Henry Irving.

He continued to write short stories, and as a clerk in Dublin wrote a manual on the profession. He also was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club.

After marrying Florence, much to the chagrin of his friend Oscar Wilde, Bram relocated to London and would embark on a 27 year journey in the employ of Henry Irving, first as the acting manager, and later business manager, at Lyceum Theatre. His journey’s took him through much of Europe and even to the United States where he met two presidents, and one of his idol’s, Walt Whitman (a personal favorite of mine as well). During his time in London’s high society, Bram would also become friends with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (another favorite of mine). Quite lucky of him I think to have hobnobbed with such famous personages.

His only child, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker, was born during his time in London. Father and son were both cremated upon their deaths, son being added to father some 50 years later. Their final resting place, Golders Green Crematorium, is a tourist destination where visitors are escorted to see the urn containing this literary legends ashes.

There is a festival I would love to attend held in late October to celebrate the life and work of Bram Stoker. If you are ever in Dublin around this time, I suggest you check it out.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was probably the first “horror” novel I ever got my hands on. I devoured it quickly. I have watched both the “unauthorized” adaptation (according to Bram’s wife, Florence), titled “Nosferatu”, and the authorized version starring Bela Lugosi. The story of Dracula is so permeated in popular culture that many purists have resented the recent “sparkly” vampires. I have read many vampire stories, including Twilight, but I always come back to Stoker’s excellent tale. Hopefully one day soon I will be able to share this book with my son. I don’t this would particular scare him or anything, but just that he doesn’t quite sit still long enough for longer books yet. For anyone reading this who hasn’t read Dracula. I suggest you add it to your To Be Read list asap.