Picture Contest!

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Let’s have a contest! Post a picture of you reading your favorite book in some crazy location. At the end of February, we will vote on the best pictures in the following categories.

Most Likely to be arrested:
Most Likely to finish the book:
Best Scenery/Location:
Craziest Reading Method:
All Time Best:

Post your pictures here on my on my blog at ImmortalPortals.wordpress.com  or on my facebook author page at http://www.facebook.com/LaDonnaColeAuthor.  Through the month I will compile them into one voting booth. Feel free to post a little blurb for the caption.

Invite all of your bookworm friends to participate! $20 gift Amazon.com gift card to all time best and each finalist will receive a prize pack of goodies!

Ready, Set, Go snap those pics!

Immortal Portals of England

I am fascinated by thresholds, portals, transitional places, doors, windows, staircases…anything that sits between.  Some cultures deem these sites sacred, I tend to think they have a point.

From democracy to life. This arch stands outside of the Chapter Room of the Magna Carta in Salisbury Cathedral.

From democracy to life. This arch stands outside of the Chapter Room of the Magna Carta in Salisbury Cathedral.

There is probably a reason I named my first novel, Threshold, and call my blog Immortal Portals. It signifies a moving from one place to another. It indicates a desire to continue, to leave behind what is past, and move forward into a brighter future.  It doesn’t burn the past, but leaves a way of returning, it is a pivotal point in life, to see where you’ve come from and where you are going.

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Cozy and inviting door inside the gates of Windsor Castle. Don’t you want to knock and pay a visit? Tea anyone?

Thresholds indicate hope and adventure, journeys yet to be taken and home awaiting your return.

While we were in England, I became obsessed with taking pictures of portals, places of between.  They were all so beautiful and inviting, I couldn’t resist. So, I am going to post pictures of these breathtaking portals and intersperse with stories and poetry I have written that are significant to thresholds, portals, moments of between.

Immortal

Chapter excerpt, from Threshold, Tsian the Wise.

Chapter 39 Pierced

Leila heard a wailing lament grow in volume and sat up in her bed, peering beneath the sheets of the bunk above her. Chills sped down her arms at the eerie cry, somewhere outside the cave cabin. Starlythe jumped down from the upper bunk, grabbed her sword and looked around wildly.

“What is that?”  She asked Leila.1231120525d

“It’s the Lament of the Dead.” Leila’s voice, a mere whisper was washed away in the death song.

“Is that the Amhra’n?”  Starlythe stepped toward the window and peered out onto the veranda.

Leila’s eyes shifted to a growing blue light and her heart fluttered in her chest.  Hanging from a hook by the door, the Sword of Scrios Fial began to glow in response to the Amhra’n’s grief stricken wails.

Daenara stepped to the door of her room, rubbing her eyes and yawning.  “What’s going on?”  She asked through her yawn.

“The Amhra’n is singing the Lament.”  Leila did not take her eyes off of the sword.

“Who has died?” Daenara clamped her lips together and worry creased her brow.

No one answered.  The Sword blazed dangerously and all eyes were fixed on it. Lady Grace continued the melancholy dirge outside and a feeling of dread settled over them.

Leila inched toward the glowing sword and with thumb and index finger lifted it from its scabbard.  She held it in front of her, squinting her eyes and shielding them with her other hand.  The blue light intensified to pure and blinding white.  A deep resonating pulse sang from the Sword, in tempo with the Chief Bard’s lament. It crescendoed in volume until it eclipsed the song on the porch. Leila felt the power course through the sword and grasped it with both hands.

***

1231120535cLady Grace heard the resonating sound coming from the cabin behind her. The lament froze in her throat and she  craned around to see white light blazing from the window and streaming under and around the door of the cabin.  She lurched forward and Drayse helped her stand.  Lady Grace burst through the cabin door.

Leila stood in the middle of the cabin grasping the light in front of her, arms stretched out as far as they would go.

“What is it doing?”  Starlythe screamed over the bass roar.

“It is pulling me!”  Leila bellowed back.

“The Veil!”  Daenara tore her eyes from the blazing sword to the chamber beside the bedroom.  She pointed. “The Veil is pulsing too.” Blue lights reflected on her horror sketched features.

With slippered feet dragging along the smooth stone floor of the cave cabin, Leila threw a frightened glance to Starlythe.  “I can’t stop it!” She yelled as the Sword drew her toward the veil room.

Lady Grace ran to her foster daughter and wrapped her arms around her from behind and held onto Leila’s hands as they were locked around the hilt of the Sword.

Drayse and Starlythe moved toward them, but Lady Grace threw her hand up to stop them, then reaffirmed her grip on the sword hilt.

“It’s okay.”  She shouted into Leila’s ear. “Let it lead us.  I am right here.  I won’t let go.”

Leila nodded and together they followed the direction of the Moreh Glosa.  It led them passed Daenara and into the veil room.  The warriors closed in behind them.  The veil swirled violently and sound gushed from it in ear shattering intensity. The two pulses were deafening in their joined song.  Ceramic jars in the cabin exploded in the intense vibration.

Drayse draped himself over Daenara to protect her from the projectiles. The other warriors surrounded Starlythe, but her attention was riveted on Lady Grace and Leila as the Sword drove them forward.

“It’s getting stronger!”  Leila cried and leaned against Lady Grace.1231120636

The Sword tip approached the veil in a magnetic pull that felt as though gravity had shifted and pulled them forward instead of pushing them down.  The force increased as they neared the veil.

When the tip of the Sword pierced the blue light of the veil it was wrenched out of their grasp and the veil exploded.

Lady Grace and Leila were flung back into Starlythe and the force rammed her and the warriors against the cave wall. The blast pulsed outward, leveling all of the inhabitants in the cabin. Bits of rock and wood showered down and Lady Grace blacked out.

Lady Grace heard tinkling, she blinked her eyes open and drew in a sharp breath. A weight pressed down on her chest and debris softly settled around her. She coughed and found Leila lying against her chest, unconscious.  She glanced around to see all of the others covered in gray dust and rock, lying in various positions as though dead.

Panic lurched in her heart and she gingerly swiveled her head toward the veil in trepidation and slowly lifted her eyes.

“Dear God!”  She whispered in awe!

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The last five doors are doors from Hampton Court, the favored home of King Henry VIII.  Here are some other gorgeous sites from that castle.

Fountain Court pillars

Fountain Court pillars

The door to the Clock Courtyard

The door to the Clock Courtyard

Little stoop to the kitchens.

Little stoop to the kitchens.

The Song of Fours: Prophecy at Cheulseti

                        Four doors

                        Four keys

                        Four souls

                        Four enemies

 

                        The Spear of Sight,

                         the Helm of Savior,

                         the Chalice of Light,

                         the Grimslayer

 

                        Each must be wielded by the soul that is gifted

                        Appointed by Moreh Glosa, to a chosen sister

                        To stand in the gap of a wall now broken

                        A kingdom usurped by witchcraft spoken.

                       

Four doors with which to slay

Four Doors in Hampton Court.

Four Doors in Hampton Court.

 Four Keys we must obey

 Four souls a price to pay

 Four enemies to keep at bay.

                       

 Sing prayers, oh Sister Bard into the Foscrete

 The two doors made by skilled Cheuluthi

  A spear with flight sight made by artisan

  A helm of knowing the surest battle plan.

                       

                        Two more doors lie in the south

                         and Sister Queen from its wide mouth

                        a song of healing to end all malice

                        with Sister Wise to search the Chalice.

                       

Two Doors at London Tower

Two Doors at London Tower

                        When all seems lost and evil won

                        Grimslayer appears and evil is done.

                        To Sister Brave with no weapon at hand

                        Your quest is now their reprimand.

                       

                        Four doors with which to slay

                        Four Keys we must obey

                        Four souls a price to pay

                        Four enemies to keep at bay.

 

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Stairways and Bridges, Arches and Alleys

A stairway cove in the Wardrobe of London Tower.

A stairway cove in the Wardrobe of London Tower.

 

 England is blessed with a multitude of gorgeous passages.  This one is in the wardrobe of the Tower of London.  The Tower is actually a castle where the royals go when they are feeling threatened or need protection. This is where the Beef Eaters are stationed.  The Wardrobe is actually where they keep weapons and battle attire.

Part of the original wall in the Tower of London. (The Tower of London is actually a castle where the royals go if they are threatened.

Part of the original wall in the Tower of London. (The Tower of London is actually a castle where the royals go if they are threatened.)

 

                       

     

Tower Bridge spams the Thames River.

Tower Bridge spans the Thames River.

Most people think that this is London Bridge.  NOPE. This is Tower Bridge.  London Bridge is the next Bridge over.

Tower Bridge Dusk

Tower Bridge at dusk.

This next beautiful bridge is in the center of Bath, England,  the Poulteney Bridge. Les Mis fans, does it look familiar to you?  Yep, this is the filming site of the famous jump that Russel Crow as General Javert plunged from at the end of the film.

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Eternity stills 
I step into the portal 
Time ebbs and flows in 
Unseen waves of energy 
Death swallowed, life immortal.2013-01-03 05.58.06

Oxford had some beautiful portals, too.  Follow me through the city of  Oxford and on into Trinity Oxford campus. 

Courtyard outside of the Chapel on Trinity Campus, Oxford.

Courtyard outside of the Chapel on Trinity Campus, Oxford.

Many famous people matriculated at Oxford, Tolkien, Stephen Hawking, Hugh Grant, C.S. Lewis, Dudley Moore, Kate Mosse, and Oscar Wilde to name a few.  Did they pass under this arch?

Arch of Knowledge

Arch of Knowledge

Portal to a portal to a portal...

Portal to a portal to a portal…

This narrow passage leads to the Turk Tavern, where Oxonians receive an education in intoxication.

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Many beautiful sites in Oxford.  One of my favorite sites passed too quickly to snap a picture, but it would fit perfectly in this immortal portals blog.  The bus turned down a quaint street in Oxford and I looked above a little shop.  A window was centered over the door, over looking the cobbled streets.  In the window sat an old fashioned typewriter.  I was immediately drawn to that portal.  I imagined myself sitting at the window in front of that typewriter and pounding away, recording all of the stirred imaginations that came to me as I gazed out the window into the bustling town of Oxford.  HEAVEN!  Except for the not-so-easily-corrected-typos-and-the-lack-of-spell-check. 🙂

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Statue of King James, with a Bible in one hand and a scroll in the other. He stands before the door to Oxford Trinity.

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This stair case was tucked into a back alley. I almost missed it. We squeezed through a tight passage and I just happened to turn around and there it was. I made a habit of turning around often after that.

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Here are a few more portal pics from across England. Enjoy!

Window overlooking the chopping block at Tower of London.  Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII's second wife was kept here while she awaited her own beheading.

Window overlooking the chopping block at Tower of London. Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, was kept here while she awaited her own beheading. Can you imagine the scene outside your window was a gory blood soaked courtyard and knowing in a few days your blood would be added to the macabre spectacle?

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My next blog will be shorter, I promise! But there is so much more to explore from my wonderful journey to England.

All poetry, songs, and stories, written and copyrighted by LaDonna Cole.

England Continues to Astound

After we left Stonehenge, we boarded the bus and drove to a little town called Salisbury.  The bus stopped in front of an ancient wall and we disembarked.  I walked straight to the wall and placed my palm on it in awe of the ancient structure.  Trudy, the tour guide said “Amazing isn’t it? This is the original wall built around the city.”

0103130931Built in the 14th century, the stones and remnants spoke of village raids, ashes from millions of hearths, atrocities witnessed, monks and merchants, soldiers and shepherds, children and elderly, maybe even a druid or two.

Trudy told us that they decided to build a cathedral and stood on the Salisbury plain and shot an arrow.  Where the arrow landed, that would be the site of the cathedral.  However, the arrow struck a deer and he ran three miles before he collapsed at the current site of the cathedral.

We passed through a gate in the wall and under an arch. Beautiful passage, welcoming today, but once just the opposite.  To the side, a lovely gate house graced

0103130933cthe wall. I was constantly amazed by the antiquity of these remaining structures. The tour guides

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kept saying of other buildings “Oh this is a very modern building, just 350 years or so.”  Our whole country isn’t even that old! Ha!

As we followed Trudy through the archway, to our immediate right was a sundial on an historic house.

2013-01-03 09.33.15 It had the following inscriptions.

1749
LIFE’S BUT A WALKING SHADOW

THIS IS LIFE ETERNAL THAT
THEY MAY KNOW THEE THE ONLY
TRUE GOD AND JESUS CHRIST
WHOM THOU HAST SENT
St John Chapter 12 verse 5.

from the plaque

Sundial on Malmesbury House, The Close, Salisbury
The bottom black plaque reads:-

An important timely point of interest to the passer by…

In the year of our Lord 1752, the Reformation of the Calendar took place – see the Wall Dial above dated 1749. This Julian calendar made the year too short, thus the accumulated error amounted to eleven days. England adopted the Gregorian calendar, so the next day after Sept 2nd 1752 became Sept 14th 1752.

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To get an idea of the scope, note the tiny people closest to the structure in the background.

We continued down this little ally street toward the leaning spire of the Salisbury Cathedral. As we approached our jaws dropped. It was too much to take in.  The sheer size and mass of the structure was overwhelming.  This?  This was built in 1270? Oxen carts pulled these stones here and without crane or modern machinery this was put together?

Trudy told us that the scaffolding for the restoration had been there all of her life, 58 years.  She said many of the statues on the exterior were damaged by the reign of Cromwell, who used cathedrals as stables for the war horses.

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Note the green moss growing on the gables. Nearly every roof in England was adorned in this organism.

As we drew nearer, we became overwhelmed with not only the size, but the intricate detail and beauty. We stood outside for a while, gawking, then Trudy led us into the sacred chambers and we were humbled. 2013-01-03 09.40.35 2013-01-03 09.39.58 2013-01-03 09.39.12

Before I take you inside, I want to tell you about the revelation I had and how it related to Stonehenge.  I stood in front of this amazing cathedral, eyes watering from the magnificence and I asked God.

“Was this really built unto You? Did they truly want to honor you with this work or was it to honor themselves?”

In that tender soft voice He answered. “It doesn’t matter. I am honored, anyway. I created man, so all of man’s creations honor me, the creator.”

I gasped. “Even Stonehenge.” I said.

“Even Stonehenge.” He agreed. “From the dawn of creation, all great feats of mankind honor me.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks as worship rose within me.  I snapped a few more pictures, then scurried to catch up to the tour party.

More jaw dropping splendor on the inside.  We gaped around at the elegance and sheer majesty of the cathedral. Worshipers sat here and there and the clergy were stirring in the center.  As we approached the central cross section of the cathedral, a clergy stepped up to the podium 2013-01-03 09.56.56and led us in a prayer. We all recited The Lord’s Prayer with her and I was staggered at the idea that for a thousand years, lovers of God had stood in this very site and whispered this very prayer. Reverence doesn’t begin to describe that sacred moment.

More tears streamed down my cheeks as I added my own silent prayers and praise to the end of “For Thine is the KINGDOM, and the POWER, and the GLORY FOREVER!”  Those words have never meant more to me than they did in that moment.  They took on completely enlightened meanings as I whispered them in that place of worship.

For the rest of this blog, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.  Amazing day.

The cathedral is laid out in the shape of a cross.  This is one of the side wings of the cross.

The cathedral is laid out in the shape of a cross. This is one of the side wings of the cross.

The main cathedral, standing in the middle of the cross section and looking forward.

The main cathedral, standing in the middle of the cross section and looking forward.

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Organ, one of two.

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Oldest working mechanical clock in existence.

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Beautiful and original stain glass windows.

Beautiful and original stain glass windows.

Middle of main cathedral. The steeple was added a hundred years later and began to shift because the foundation was not able to support the weight. The reinforced the center by adding arches. You can't even tell what arches were added and which ones were original.

Middle of main cathedral. The steeple was added a hundred twenty years later and began to shift because the foundation was not able to support the weight. They reinforced the center by adding arches. You can’t even tell what arches were added and which ones were original.

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Ceiling in the office area.

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Salisbury Cathedral was built off of the backs of sheep, literally. The people of the area were very wealthy sheep owners and shipped their wool far and wide. They had so much money they were able to build this cathedral in 38 years. Amazing!

We finished the tour in the courtyard after we saw the Magna Carta, our minds spinning.

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Beautiful arches.

Beautiful arches.

This was my favorite day of the week.  Bath, Stonehenge, and Salisbury were undoubtedly spiritual experiences that we will take with us through life’s journey.

Watch for the next blog when I take you on a tour of Immortal Portals of England.

LONDON, OH MAN!

Exhausted, can’t seem to get back on Tennessee time, little toe blistered, but WOW, what a trip!

TN London time

London did not disappoint! Beautiful city, decadent design, so much to do and see and we tried to do it all!  The English country side was breathtaking.

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I will be posting pictures and blogs in the coming months, check out my Facebook page for a few already out there.

Today, I want to talk about the highlight of the trip — for me, anyway.

I am a big Stephen Lawhead fan. He is from England and writes fantasy stories about Celtic druids, knights, Arthur, Merlin, Robin Hood, and many other original stories with similar themes. One book series in particular The Song of Albion series talks about Ravens guarding the cairn’s and burial sites to prevent people from stumbling into the “other world”.  Since I have read several of his books, multiple times, it has taken on legend status in my mind.

So when I got to Stonehenge and was greeted by this site, you can imagine how excited I was.

The Guardian of Stonehenge Stonehenge is surrounded by burial mounds and is said to be the burial place of many prehistoric peoples.  To the right of this sign was an empty field, dotted with hundreds of ravens.  They flew all around the area, landed on the 2013-01-03 08.37.03monoliths and trilithons and had no fear of people.  Guardians of the Otherworld took their job seriously.  I was taken back to a scene in The Paradise War, by Stephen Lawhead.

“We thrashed our way along, stopping every few minutes to listen–I don’t know what for.  What I heard was crows. Faintly, at first.  But each time we stopped it seemed that there were more crows and louder than before.  Judging from the racket, they were gathering in the wood for the night.  Soon their raucous croaks and squawks were all around us…I gave [the cairn] a cursory glance for the thing that commanded my immediate attention was not the cairn, but the crow: a big, black, spread-winged menace watching us with a baleful bead of an eye from a low branch, its sharp black beak open. I fought down the urge to pick up a stick to protect myself.”

Sigh, I just love the way that man puts words on paper! Sheer genius!  Anyway back to Stonehenge.

Sending questions out into the universe, asking for understanding, I sought a La at Stonehengehigher knowledge of the place.  A deeply spiritual experience stirred inside of me that I cannot fully explain.  Whether it was the idea of millions of people through five thousand years standing at these stones seeking answers or God trying to break through the haze of travel craziness, I was instilled with the significance of this site.

What were these stones erected for?  Who undertook the great task of moving them here and arranging them thus? Why? What great happenings took place around these stones?  I had many questions that Trudy our tour guide, as knowledgeable as she was, just had no answers for.

Still questions ricocheted in my head, so I asked the only One remaining who actually knows.  Amused silence answered me.

It hit me that these questions have been asked for thousands of years, by millions of people and I just casually asked as though he had kept the secret just for me for five thousand years.  Stonehenge makes me smileJust waiting for LaDonna Cole to walk the circle and ask the million dollar question, he twiddled His thumbs for 5 THOUSAND years, waiting for me to get there and ask him.  I smiled at my own arrogance and turned in my headset as I headed back to the tour bus.

I got my answer, though at the next tour stop.  It was striking and vibrant and resounded with such truth, that it brought tears to my eyes and a tremble to my hands.  But, now you will have to wait for the next blog to find out what He said.

Until then…