Gothic Styles

gothic-house-1.jpgGothic Styles

The heyday of Gothic styles in architecture was about 1180-1500 or possibly 1550ish in some regions.

Gothic styles – and the movement was above all architectural – became increasingly ornate and elaborate after about 1380-1400. The style was most fully developed in Northern and Central Europe – France, Britain, Central Europe (as far east as Transylvania) – and also parts of Italy, Spain and Portugal. Key features included: flying buttresses to support the walls and roofs. This allowed for large stained glass windows. Another key feature was the pointed arch (as opposed to the round arch inherited from ancient Rome); also large areas devoted to the choir, screens shutting off the choir and sancturary from the nave; spire (on top of towers).

Gothic architecture (except perhaps at the end, when it became playful) tended to make churches dark and mysterious places of awe, sometimes even with a whiff of the uncanny.

In painting, ‘Gothic’ art sometimes tended to be two-dimensional.

Note that the term ‘Gothic’ was first used after about 1530 and meant something like ‘barbaric’.

From about 1770 onwwards there was a ‘Gothic revival’, with Gothic and pseudo-Gothic styles again popular. Two outstanding examples in Britain are the Houses of Parliament and St Pancras Station.

belladonna.jpgBelladonnaAtropa belladonna, named in part after the Greek fate Atropos, the inflexible one who cuts the thread of life. This mysterious plant is the embodiment of beauty and love. “…a moving old picture, death and love it represented”.Belladonna, from the Italian, refers to the wide-eyed, dreamy gaze evoked by the “Witch’s Cherry Juice.”
Italian courtesans dissolved the drug atropine in water then instilled drops into their eyes, dilating their pupils to heighten sensuality. In modern ophthalmology, atropine is used for pupil dilation during eye examinations
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Romans dedicated the plant to the Goddess Bellona, whose priests drank the juice of the berry before sacred rites connected with her worship.
When Christianity became the dominant religion, the Goddess Bellona was discarded and the plant changed from Bellona’s Herb to Belladonna. Ostensibly a reference to the Virgin Mary, the French scholar Jules Michelet believed that belladonna had been named after the “good women,” that being the wisewomen and witches.

Also known as Deadly Nightshade, this perennial produces a cherry size fruit, blue black in colour. Its purple juice is intensely sweet; a deadly temptation for children.
The wines of the Bacchanalian orgies were infusions of psychoactive plants including Belladonna. The plant was used in many Hexen recipes throughout Germany and France.

Please do not grow this plant if you have young children or pets.It was said that Atropa was attended by the Devil himself, who cared for the “Enchanters Nightshade” throughout the year, except Walpurgis Night (November 1) when he returns to the mountain in honour of the Witches’ Sabbat.

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