This past month has been a whirlwind of activity — primarily in my professional life, which has nearly been as busy as August’s orientation season. Now, as we close out the month, I’m relaxing this evening while on a new laptop (my old one was from 2015; it was time) listening to Seikilo and looking forward to a virtual conference and a few days of vacation next week. As per usual for these updates, I have a few photos and some religious reflections. I should also say that I updated the About KALLISTI & Me page because it’s time. I’m not sure if it’s baiting or not for me to now be calling worshipping many Gods “theism,” but that’s what I’m doing there now. 🙃 Happily, when taking a glance at blog traffic, I’m seeing some referral hits that have led me to some positive feedback about The Soul’s Inner Statues. I’m so happy that people are finding the web resource useful. 🥰 It’s for anyone, not just people who are interested in a Platonizing practice, and I’m so pleased that people are calling it practical and recommending it.
On to the updates!
The month started with some redecorating. The period product B corp Cora usually sends out cards with its products. One of the first boxes I received from them a few years ago had this one in it, which I put on my dresser. Sometimes, it has been a touchstone — 🫂 especially during those times when I’m angry or fatigued. 🫂 After the Supreme Court ruling, I saw a square frame that could fit it, and I decided to do that.
Professionally, it was a hectic month because I was asked to do programming for a variety of summer students. It was fun, but also a lot of work, especially since one group asked somewhat close to when they wanted an event. I had to figure out how to make rare book requests for the first time in the ten years I have spent in my job — the event they wanted was a showcase of historically important science books. For that event, I read up on the scientists’ works and spent a lot of time in databases attempting to synthesize things that may be of interest. I learned about Émilie du Châtelet, whom I came across when trying to broaden out from men, and found a piece in Physics World, “Emilie du Châtelet: the genius without a beard,” that was extremely relatable. Most of us women with “masculine” intellectual pursuits deal with a lot of demons, both internally from our own learned self-doubt and caused by others’ behavior, and it made me think back to my blog post about Athene and Arachne. (This was one moment when I was happy I had framed that card from Cora.) Du Châtelet was key in popularizing Isaac Newton in Europe — she translated his work into French, wrote a robust commentary/annotation to her translation, and performed tests to validate his science.
Below are some images of Kepler and Copernicus’ works.
A second event that week didn’t involve special collections, but during the summer when enrichment activities happen and library sessions aren’t tied to a grade, I love showing science undergrads what print journals once looked like and how they evolved from the early 19th century to the present. It helps a lot when we start searching in online databases, as people a generation below me (usually) have little (if any) mental sense of why journals are divided into issues and volumes. While the humanities still do actual journal volume releases, in the sciences, it’s increasingly common for articles to be released as soon as they’ve gone through peer review, copyediting, and journal formatting, issue TBD. Preprints have already disrupted the paper-journal relationship, and this is just one more thing.
One of the 19th century volumes that I checked out was from the American Journal of Science, and it contained an article by someone who was positing that the planets’ orbits change over time. In the 19th century, he proposed this due to the luminiferous ether idea (and the concept that resistance would make planets “fan out” to greater orbits). It’s neat that, while the idea of a luminiferous ether isn’t really a thing anymore, exoplanet research using modern telescopes has shown that early solar systems are very dynamic, with planets migrating in and out until the tumult (hopefully) gives way to equilibrium.
This month, I also co-chaired a conference, and I taught some brand-new workshops on a few technical topics. It was a lot of work, and I was generally adequate at maintaining self-care and doing recharges, although there were some days when my email inbox felt unbearable because I had so much to take care of that I wasn’t sure how to even start triaging it.
One “recharge” activity was a trip to a nearby beach with my girlfriend. We did a cookout and had a relaxing time chatting, reading, and getting our feet wet in the surf.
Some things did drop. I maintained contemplations on passages until July 8th, but that dropped off due to having less seamless mornings than I wanted. Yesterday evening, I went through a few books and picked out passages for the next week or so. This morning, I did a contemplation of a passage again, Hávamál 56. I wrote up some (heavily Platonizing) thoughts about it.
However, other things were added. I’m doing brief evening meditations now, followed by short prayers at my shrine. Usually, they’ve been prayers to Eir (with patchouli incense) as part of my Year 35 prayer efforts, but yesterday night and tonight, they are prayers for underworld Gods and ancestors, in keeping with the approaching dark moon. I could do passage contemplation in the evenings, but I’d prefer to do that in the mornings before my commute. Praying to Eir has been illuminating, perhaps in a different way from what may be typical because the worship is filtered through a Platonizing lens for me. I see a lot of meaning in her relationship to the healing mountain with the other healing Goddesses and the fact that she’s associated with battlefields and combat medicine. In Platonism, especially in Proclus, embodiment/generation is likened to a battlefield (the war of generation), and that descent carries a lot of meaning because it indicates that Eir has a healing function related to the body, multipart soul, and wholeness under stressful circumstances.
Finally, one of my coworkers came back from a library conference last month and let me know that NASA has made an image of Hypatia in conjunction with an artist to celebrate women in science. They write a bit more about her online, but the image caption on the actual poster reads, “Hypatia (born in 350) was known to be a great thinker in her age. She was one of the earliest women to be a noted astronomer, mathematician and philosopher in ancient Greece and Egypt, and was also the head of an important school in Alexandria. Unfortunately, in 415, Hypatia was killed in the streets by a mob during a time of religious unrest.”
I wonder what school that was.
And remember, as the alphabet oracle says: Helios, who watches everything, watches you.