• Mind / Body,  Photography

    The Mystic Emptiness

    Ever have those moments when the light strikes the surface you’re looking at in a certain way and suddenly there’s a change, an almost mystic feel in the air and you want suddenly to say, “Yeah, baby!” I do all the time. Then I realize I’m alone, or in a church, a mosque or some sacred site where such an expression would be highly inappropriate. The world really is an incredible place at times, particularly when you get to see the most mundane things all over again, but in a new way. Perhaps that’s why I’m so relieved to have my camera and this blog. Being a writer or a creative person is very solitary at times. You’re always trying to capture a moment, hold it, freeze it in glass. Now it’s not so lonely. I could say more, but somebody else has already said it far better: “The most…

  • Food & Drink,  Mind / Body,  Places

    Adaçayi: a sage choice of drink.

    COULD THIS TEA SHARPEN OUR SENSES? DIMINISH THE AGING PROCESS? MAYBE. A few years ago,  I started visiting Yeniköy, and in particular, Yeniköy Kahvesi, a tea garden/coffeehouse set above the village’s main boulevard, nestled beside one of the community’s Greek churches. Overhung with vines and interlacing tree branches this quiet spot is a popular weekend brunch option year-round with its mix of sun and shade, indoor fireplace and relaxed attitude. One day when a group of us gathered there in early spring with our books and Sudoku puzzles, my friend Despina ordered an adaçayi (sage tea). I’d like to think that my life has changed for the better since that day. THE LANE BEHIND YENIKÖY KAHVESI. Made simply by infusing hot water with sage leaves, this herb turns the water a vibrant fluorescent yellow-green. It’s a refreshing hot drink usually enjoyed with a slice or two of lemon. From that day on…

  • Books & Lit

    Secret Societies: Oh no! or … Oh really?

    THE MASONS WERE HERE! THE MASONS WERE HERE! BUT WAIT … WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? For as long as human civilization has existed, it appears that secret societies have existed. Sometimes they were mainstream society’s priesthoods and knowledge keepers and the secrets they kept from the mainstream were the basis of their power, as they told themselves that they were keeping “the meat for the men and the milk for babes.” Other times they were completely underground organizations unknown or only rumored because of the threat of persecution for what may or may not have been their radical thinking. Until recently I had absolutely no idea what most of these societies were supposed to have believed. Many a blockbuster movie would have us think that they were sacrificing virgins and offering them up as a tribute to Satan. The problem with finding out what secret societies like the masons believe…

  • Mind / Body,  Photography

    When the compass spins.

    SUPPOSE THIS IS A DOOR TO ANOTHER WORLD … WOULD YOU STEP THROUGH? Ever have that feeling that a passage to another world hovers just beneath your nose? Ever wonder if the image in the mirror might be the larger you, and that you might be nothing more than a thin reflection of limited dimension? In this city there are endless windows, ajar doors, stairways and passages that prompt my curiosity. Sometimes it seems that they might lead to some alternate reality, a world curled up inside our own. As early as childhood, stories like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles had a ring to them that drew in my young mind. There’s something about the notion of portals to other worlds that intrigues me, be they a wardrobe or a painting hung on wall.  A GOLDEN CITY? MAYBE … BUT THE ROAD BETWEEN HERE AND THERE IS OBSCURED. In the last…

  • Food & Drink,  Mind / Body

    The Elixir of Life?

    THE ELIXIR OF LIFE GRANTS IMMORTALITY TO ANYONE WHO DRINKS IT. The ultimate quest or Opus Magnum of the alchemist is the Lapis Philosophorum, more commonly known as the Philosopher’s Stone. With it she could transmute base metals into noble gold and even more importantly, mortality into immortality. Its recipe is the greatest secret of the Royal Art. Far more often than not, however, its pursuit shortened, rather than lengthened, the seeker’s life. In fact, poisonings, explosions and other misadventures were commonplace. But as long as man and woman have lived—and more importantly—died, the potential gains outweighed the dangers of failure. As far back as Gilgamesh we have accounts of people seeking to unlimit their existence. Frankly, who wouldn’t care for a taste of unlimited youth? THE  CHEMICAL WEDDING OF PHILOSOPHICAL SULFUR & MERCURY. Two notable figures—or legends, if you prefer—reputed to have achieved the Opus Magnum were Nicolas Flamel (September 28, 1330-1418) and later, the…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Books & Lit

    The Hermetic Museum Alchemy & Mysticism

    © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH Santa Claus has many powers, but he’s not a mind reader. That’s why I had to give myself a little Christmas present today after discovering The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy & Mysticism by Alexander Roob at my local bookstore. As you’d expect from a Taschen book it’s lavishly illustrated, and by far the most appealing visual guide to alchemy I’ve had in my hands. Its author, who studied painting at the University of Fine Arts, Berlin has been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart since 2002. In my opinion, no self-respecting student of alchemy should be without it. www.taschen.com  © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH  © 2011 TASCHEN GmbH

  • Mind / Body,  People

    The power of the rose.

    JAYDA URAS SPECIALIZES IN TINCTURES, TEAS AND INDIVIDUALIZED TREATMENTS. Jayda Uras, owner and operator of Vie En Rose creates fully organic treatments with locally sourced ingredients produced just outside Yalova, believing that anything you put on your body should be just as pure as anything you put in it. When conventional medicine failed to provide adequate answers in her own life, she chose a different course. I sat down with her the other day to discuss her alternative brand of medicine and where her inspiration came from. ORGANIC HANDMADE SOAP.

  • Mind / Body

    What’s with all the alchemy references and motifs?

    Alchemy is a great metaphor for life. Sometimes described as spiritual chemistry, Alchemy is the quest to turn base metals such as lead, into noble gold. The art and practice of alchemy was steeped in an arcane language full of contradictions and red herrings … which sometimes reminds me of modern life. In the West, alchemists’ work was primarily concerned with the creation of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, with which he or she could allegedly not only accomplish the transmutation of minerals but could achieve physical immortality. Despite alchemy’s ultimate dismissal and denigration by serious science it’s interesting to note that the inventor of ‘the Calculus’ and one of the fathers of modern physics, Isaac Newton, believed in and wrote more on alchemy than on any other subject. Like alchemy, creativity isn’t scientific. It isn’t measurable. It’s about spirit. It’s about personal style and individual discovery. Like science, however, the most…