Monthly Archives: November 2013

Jews and Magic in Medici Florence

Between 1615 and 1620, Benedetto Blanis (c.1580-c.1647), a Jewish scholar and businessman in the Florentine ghetto, sent 196 letters to Don Giovanni dei Medici (1567-1621), an influential member of the ruling family. Blanis served Don Giovanni as palace librarian—organizing and cataloging the library’s contents, acquiring books from various sources and sharing his patron’s most esoteric interests. Together they ventured into dangerous and often forbidden territory—astrology, alchemy and the Kabbalah.


Discovered nearly four centuries later by art historian Edward Goldberg during his research in the Medici Granducal Archive, Blanis’ letters provide a portrait of a man struggling to survive in a strange no-man’s land between the Jewish ghetto and the Medici court. The letters also reveal the bond between two figures who strove to explain the world through the language of magical power.


Edward Goldberg discusses his book Jews and Magic in Medici Florence: The Secret World of Benedetto Blanis, which was published by University of Toronto Press in 2011.

Edward Goldberg received a Ph.D. in modern history from Oxford University in 1979 and taught in the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard University from 1981 through 1987. He has published widely in the course of his 30 years of archival research in Florence. In 1995, Goldberg founded the Medici Archive Project to provide worldwide public access to the historical data in the Medici Granducal Archive through a fully searchable database at Established by Grand Duke Cosimo I in 1569, the archive of the Medici Grand Dukes offers the most complete record of any princely regime in Renaissance and Baroque Europe. The 3 million letters contained in more than 6,000 volumes richly document more than 200 years of human history (1537-1743

Jews and Magic in Medici Florence.



Scriabin: Sonata No 10 (Marc-André Hamelin)/Acuarela: Berenice (4th Vs)



Absorbed in the gems of Angels.

I feel alone, at times around people? I feel less the magical world  of angels. and the sparkling,  lilac scented, confectionery jewels within the alpha waves of stars. Perhaps it is the introvert in me.? No matter ones personality type. It’s just as well, to try to  believe in the best within a person. Even when they do not. For this? We need an army of angels, my Sister would say.

I find, it’s not easy to find the more delicate octaves of pure inspiration and love. It’s so easy to be full of calumny. I remember my sister telling me something along these lines, when she and I would stretch. She would say? Pretend that your head is pulled by a string of invisible stars. Maybe she did not say that? But it is a ballet technique of always remaining upright. Mother Mary, Our Lady. She is my recent, ever graceful guide. Mary is always seen, stepping on the head of the snake. The snake represents, our base or lower emotional limbic states. Fast thinking and shallow breathing, reactivity. The poor Ouroboros or snake? Just as the Raven? The snake always gets a bad rap in terms of metaphors, in Western culture so to speak and no so much in the East.  The dragon is very superior to the snake in their eyes and it is pure chaos in terms of Western ideology.

However we look at at? It’s been easy, as I am sure it is for many? To let the frenzies in da house. Illness becomes rampant. It gets harder and harder to do good, which ultimately means for me?  What is best for everyone. Our mind should be a place of serenity, just as our homes. I call on Mother Mary to help me rise above my restless soul. A zen master, whose name I cannot remember at all. He has a strange theory in terms of evolution. He felt that as the spine became upright. Like a channel powered vertically. Our brains, began to change shapes, based on pure physics. During meditation, the mind and the spine is always beginning in the upright position. As all the thoughts evaporate, like burnt pop corn kernels and sputtering clunking fumes? It is as if we are planted into the purest soil, as rich as chocolate. I find that even the air that I breathe seems scented with almonds, jasmine, roses and violets. It is as if the angels are announcing they are arriving.

Mother Marty is always head commander. I choose to see her beauty in everyone. I choose to believe we are all intrinsically created for good and beauty. When God takes away our schedules and plans? He does not always consult with me first. Alas, I must believe somehow? He has something better in mind, that I simply as of yet, cannot see. Angels, help me accept that so many things, simply do not make much sense. Not even in a Dr Seuss world.

Alas, these are some wondrous and inspiring angels. All that we need and depend upon to survive, has very little to do with negative energy. We bit into a strawberry? We know that God is going to be good. It is not going to be toxic or burn our lips. We all depend, ever so much upon the kindness of an infinitely compassionate source. From where and what? We shall never know. I see Mother Mary in a strawberry! What would life be like , if the sun got into a rancid mood and decided not to rise? What is the flowers, all decided to hide? We are helplessly, hopelessly , dependent upon all that we take for granted. God’s love.

Sometimes, luck? Even when it seems we least expect it fall into our lap like a windfall, from an omnipotent King. The story of the King whom forgave a poor subjects debt. But that very same subject, was less merciful or compassionate with a man whom owed him a small portion. The parable, goes that the King raged about and took the luck away from the less than grateful subject for persecuting another, just after he was so very blessed indeed. I just want to stay on the side of court with angels, even if my road is rough and i don’t always know why? They say, we cannot all be able to bear the burdens of this world at once, or no one could have any fun at all.

Therefore, it is a privilege to not suffer, but carry some of the burdens in this life. Burdens, which are part of life. Some God may have decided simply are not strong enough to carry a specific task.  No matter what God gives me?   There shall always be immeasurable grace and guidance, to help us thru the difficult phases. Everything happens for a reason, and usually it is to remind us, to stay clear from harms way in the long run.  Be about beauties business!  I had a job that encouraged violence and mayhem.  Our boss? She made it easy to hurt each other.  She would bounce pay checks or with hold  pay.  Give to some and not to others, like a horrific dog fight. She was the authority figure and she brought out the worst in everyone. When I finally left that job?  She missed me so much?  She moved her new business next door to me!  I loved her, but it’s a shame when we are encouraged to be beastly or as my neighbor says “Sweety Beast”  God might have a plan, where we will not make a tragic mistake and disfigure our soul, once and for all.  When we  take the path of destruction? We harm ourselves the most, when we choose to abuse others. Because we are no longer amongst the beauty and balance of angels. Meet the crew. Reclaim your innocence and original mind of beauty.  Look for what is a blessing in disguise.







I Say a Little Prayer

Beings Akin

Music by Burt Bacharach and Hal David (1967)
Performed by Aretha Franklin
Aretha Now (1968)

Photo by Jan Saudek: Valerie

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solar system cake pops

i love these more than lollipops! Cake pop solar system.

paper, plate, and plane

As I consider the diminished frequency of my posts (thanks to several weeks of juggling three jobs, followed by a dramatic lifestyle change into a 9-5 as of last week), I really ought to avoid consecutive posts on the same topic.  However, I had a surplus of cake and frosting from my previous post, carrot cake pops.  The result: a further exercise in the making of cake pops, specifically marbleizing, manifested in the likeness of planets.

In the midst of my cake pop research, I stumbled across Wilton’s decorating technique of marbleizing candy for pops.  I contemplated uses for this particular technique and was inspired by something I’ve been teaching children over the past three years — to build a model of the solar system.

Simply take several colors of candy melts, swirl a tiny bit, and let the act of dipping create the full marble effect.  For…

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The Holy Family with John Baptist as a Boy — Adriaen van der Werff

Such a unique portrait. I have never seen any paintings which feature Jesus and John the Baptist? I hope it is in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem. Near John the Baptist well.


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Distractions, honey and a Song

Saint of Honey words and honey-like persuasion.

Neal Obstat Theological Opining

Today is the feast of the 12th century Cistercian St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who stands as one of the few saints in Church history to have a papal encyclical written about him (see here). The pope declared Bernard doctor mellifluus, the honey-sweet doctor, for his unparalleled eloquence. Bernard was an exceptionally influential author, a persuasive negotiator and a steely-willed reformer. His massive commentary on the biblical Song of Songs stands among the greatest works of spiritual and exegetical literature in the medieval western Christian tradition (see here for an online version, and here for a good intro to B’s primary works).

All that said, the first impression I got of St. Bernard, which has kept with me to this day, is the story a Trappist monk told me about Bernard after I shared with this monk my own personal struggle with discouraging distractions during prayer.

Bernard was riding…

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Monk in a Scriptorium
Many of the books used for education in medieval Europe were reproduced by monks. They diligently copied entire texts in a monastery room called a scriptorium, which was designed for this purpose.

Alcuin and other scholars also wrote theological treatises, poems, histories, essays on government, biographies (the most famous is Life of Charlemagne by Einhard), and hagiographies (stories of the lives of saints). Instead of using paper, which was unknown in the West, these scholars wrote on parchment made of animal skins. All works were written out by hand, which is why they are called manuscripts —from the Latin words manus (hand) and scriptus (written). Carolingian artists worked with Byzantine and Roman illustrations to create paintings to decorate these texts. These paintings are called illuminations, and manuscripts with these illustrations are known as illuminated manuscripts. For example, in the front of each of the four Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament of the Bible) artists painted the portraits of the authors using vivid colors and gold leaf. The Romans had often begun their books with an author portrait of this type. By adopting this practice for Christian texts, the Carolingians used Roman traditions for Christian purposes.

It’s quite odd, but last night I had a moment inside of my deep slumber, where I remember walking the giant stones of Florence.  Meandering, Inside of the tobacco scented with strong coffee and leather scented aisles of the piazza’s. It is books that I seemed to have sniffed, even more than panini.

I don’t miss the deep loneliness I felt, but just the same?  Inside of my dream last night, I was told by some compelling force to look over by the gold stamped leather workshop window and to find a glass tiny dome.  Mind, you it is a surreal fragmentary moment only.  But I licked my finger and as if an internal compass, within me possessing a reason unknown to me?  I leaned down and like a little glass ladybug?  Stuck onto my finger was a contact lens?

That was the dream.  What does it mean?  I have no idea, just like my endless folly in going all the way to Florence.  There was no hard nor concrete proof, for which I should do such a thing?  Do swans or geese download instructions or ask explanations?  No.  A wistful no. A man is akin to a cologne?  Bottled up inside, avoiding careful jostling, so as not to crack open this mysterious novella of personal experience and seents.  This is the feeling I had tried like a mad beserker?  To open this mystery of a seeming illogical dream, about a golden with sun drenched patchouli world. Yes, I went to help a man, I thought with his cancer.  Yet, it too remained a puzzle.

I later found a wondrous writer, named Luisa.  Apparently, she was moved to write a novella about a female monk.  A woman posing as a monk, whom lived and whose life revolved around the Florentine Scriptorium’s I believe.  Our friend, was to even her surprise, discovered was a Catholic Priest.  In memory of Florence and my odd dream last night of traveling back to Florence last night, to procure a lost contact lens?  Perhaps, the meaning shall reveal itself to me. Saint Lucy might intercede into my internal eye, and impart some wisdom.

I know there are beautiful people whom, like those monks , writing in the dusty stone cellars by glowing candlelight are bewitching. Do they hold secrets as to why they fled the secular world?  Or is there truly a transcendental world of men whom have experienced visions.  He claimed, I understood later.  He claimed, to have had a supernatural vision, in Portugal of Our Lady, at Fatima.

Today, I got a bit of a psychic notion.  It was that either I will land within a surprising emergency soon or I will care for those whom have.  Is not this the nature of disease.  The lack of ease or DIS EASE. Perhaps, flying to the sanctuary of a hidden magical book laboratory is a perfect place, for a man to distill, ferment, co-mingle and infuse.  To marinate with the holy some might say not, scriptures. One day, I will read her book on a woman posing as a monk during the medieval eras, when it is translated into English.

Oh I forgot, It is a book also about beautiful necks.  The tension of ones sensual versus ones spiritual?  Perhaps it is not at odds, but in Japan?  The neck is an indicator of great, magical beauty.  Talk about nonsensical or illogical?  It makes a bit of  unctuous sense. Only a soul with a rarified sense of  restraint, as if chained into a dungeon, only to decode magical religious texts, could fancy such a fetish.

Well, I merely, today make a homage to Florence and to the sweet possession of pages made once upon a time of trees. Tactile and medicinal.



Guzon Angel

Guzon Angel

I don’t know what Guzon actually means? However, from what I can decipher? It is Norwegian in origin. I find this photo, so beautiful and she is known as the “Lonely Angel” according to it’s original blog.

Semarang, una città normalmente alluvionata – videoclip indonesiano n. 90 – 564.

thank you for the sharing… Prayers for Indonesia.


dopo avere mangiato qualcosa a un baracchino in riva al canale, ed era una raccolta di gustosissimi frutti tropicali, sono rientrato nel vecchio hotel di Semarang.

domani mattina dovrò partire molto presto col treno per Surabaya e non voglio affrontare le incertezze di un trasferimento semi-notturno; decido quindi di spostarmi dal solenne e semi-inondato palazzone del centro in un hotel di fronte alla stazione ferroviaria.

questo è moderno e non troppo costoso (ci passerò la notte svegliandomi ogni mezz’ora, come sempre mi succede in questi casi) e anche la zona ha qualche aspetto interessante.

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prima di tutto il grande bacino d’acqua, circondato da solenni lampioni su pilastrini di marmo, davanti alla Station, e poi passeggiando un po’, ecco l’opportunità di dare un’occhiata ad un quartiere abbastanza moderno e alla sua vita, penso, fuori dai circuiti turistici, e perfino al porto di Semarang, su cui ci si dovrebbe…

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