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Posts Tagged ‘History’

     Updated 23/09/2014

     The Wheel Of The Year calendar comprises four Celtic fire festivals interspersed with two solstice and two equinox celebrations.  September’s Equinox denotes the height of the Autumn season.

     The Autumn Equinox is named variably as Modron (Mother Goddess) or Mabon (Divine Son) – deities from Welsh Mythology who can be found in The Legends Of King Arthur.

     Modron is a harvest and fertility goddess who shares characteristics with the Roman Ceres.  On the agricultural calendar Lughnasadh (August) is The First Harvest (grains and cereals) and The Autumn Equinox (September) is The Second Harvest (fruits and vegetables).

     At the Equinox the year wanes, yet the harvest is plentiful.   The ancient tribal people of The Western Hemisphere believed their Mother Goddess entered the third trimester of her pregnancy whilst her divine consort prepares his descent to the wintry underworld.

     According to Arthurian Legend the fallen King Arthur is transported to Avalon, the “Isle Of Apples” to await his rebirth – an echo of the story of the dying god.  The Autumn Equinox is the best time for apple-picking and the fruit has come to have many sacred and mystical associations.

     Apples are used for a variety of regional folk customs, games and recipes at this time of year.  Slicing an apple across the middle reveals a pentacle or star – the symbol of man in harmony with the elements.

     Why not celebrate your Harvest Festival with some apple bobbing or by indulging in some candy apples?

 

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     If it has been a while since you visited The Arcade of Arts & Arcana Gallery then here is a naughty peek at what you’ve been missing!

     The Victoriana album is just one of a series of permanent features which are regularly updated and available to view via the Gallery tab at the top of the homepage.

Click to visit the Gallery

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     Updated 29/07/2014

     Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-na-sah) is one of eight festivals celebrated on the ancient Wheel Of The Year seasonal calendar.  It marks the midpoint between The Summer Solstice and The Autumn Equinox.  It was once observed when the first sheaf of corn was cut and now, most commonly, on 1st August.

     The First Harvest is named for the Irish Sun God, Lugh, who also lends his name to the Modern Irish name for August.  In Gaelic Mythology Lugh held a funeral and athletic games to honour his foster-mother, Tailtiu who died of exhaustion after clearing the land for agriculture.  Tailtiu represents an earth or harvest deity whose labours feed and nurture the people.

     At Lughnasadh tribal people throughout Western Europe and The Northern Hemisphere gave thanks for their grain and cereal harvest and sought blessings for next year’s crop.  The birth, death and rebirth of the cornfield was symbolic of the eternal cycle of all life.

     The Anglo-Saxons referred to The First Harvest as Hlaef-mass, meaning “loaf mass”.  Loaves would be baked in the shape of a corn god then broken and consumed to represent the blessings of his sacrifice.  The practice was adopted by modern Christians who refer to this festival as Lammas.

     Corn dollies, or spirit cages, are traditionally crafted at Lughnasadh to lure and capture crop spirits.  Combine this with the often misconstrued concept of sacrifice and you have the plot for The Wicker Man!

     It was common in agrarian societies for a god and goddess to marry at Beltane (1st May) and conceive a child to represent the new year and it’s harvest cycle.  In Folklore the father god “John Barleycorn” is “sacrificed” at Lughnasadh to nourish the bountiful goddess, her child and the people.  This is still reenacted today via the burning of a cornstalk effigy (not Edward Woodward).  Sometimes a bull would be sacrificed in the fields for a celebratory feast. 

     Today the people of Ireland still honour Lugh’s prowess by climbing closer to the sun, at the summit of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, to gather bilberries for celebration foods and wine. 

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     Updated 24/06/2014

     The ancient seasonal calendar – known as The Wheel Of The Year – has reached Litha (meaning “wheel”) also known as The Longest Day, Midsummer and The Summer Solstice.

     Litha marks the height of the sun’s powers at the middle of the year before the inevitable shortening of daylight hours.

     Midsummer has been observed since Neolithic times.  It held special significance to the Scandinavian, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon people and is still celebrated throughout The Northern Hemisphere today.

     Litha was a time to urge the growth of crops in the hope of a plentiful harvest.  A wheel would be set on fire and rolled downhill to “warm” the fields, a practice first recorded two thousand years ago.

     Golden-flowered  Midsummer plants, such as Calendula and St. John’s Wort were collected for their healing powers.

     According to ancient polytheist traditions The Antlered God – and his localised variant, The Green Man – reaches the height of his powers at the midpoint of the year whilst his Goddess consort carries the promise of renewal conceived during May’s Beltane celebrations.  This seasonal courtship was adapted by William Shakespeare in his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

     At Midsummer those living in the far Northern Hemisphere experience White Nights or The Midnight Sun as there is little if any darkness.  Families celebrate by heading out into the countryside; staying awake, lighting bonfires, feasting, drinking and enjoying saunas.

     Many stone circles throughout The United Kingdom are aligned to dawn at Midsummer and considered sacred to solar deities such as the Celtic Bel.  Celebrants gather at Stonehenge each year to drum the sun down at dusk and then up at dawn on The Longest Day.

Related Articles

Imbolc ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Ostara, The Spring Equinox ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Beltane ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

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Lily Wight

     Updated 27/11/2015

     Here’s something to keep you busy until Episode VII: The Force Awakens!

     Star Wars: The Complete Vader is an excellent coffee table book from Random House at a bargain price!

     There are plenty of glossy images, pullouts and keepsakes with a surprisingly thorough text, so even hardcore Star Wars fans should see or read something new 🙂

     A heartily recommended time waster.

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     Updated 29/04/2014

     Beltane (meaning “bright fire”) or May Day is one of eight festival days marked upon the ancient seasonal calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.

     Beltane heralds the beginning of Summer as it lies halfway between The Spring Equinox (Ostara) and The Summer Solstice (Litha).  It is a time when daylight hours are long, trees blossom and herding animals are turned out to pasture.

     Beltane was originally observed by the Gaelic people of Ireland, Scotland and The Isle Of Man who performed protective rituals for their crops and livestock whilst The Celtic Tribes of Western Europe and Britain also celebrated mating rituals and male potency.

     Beltane is named for the Celtic Sun God, Bel (Belenos/Belenus) who is associated with West Cornwall, formerly Belerion.  The Romans dubbed him the “British Apollo” and – like many solar deities – he pulls the sun with his chariot and is associated with inspirational light and healing waters.

     Beltane also celebrates The Spirit Of The Greenwood in the guise of The Green Man; known variously as The Celtic Antlered-God Cernunnos, Herne The Hunter, Jack-In-The-Green and even Robin Hood.  Cernunnos consorts with The Mother Goddess at Beltane to assure the birth of the following Spring from the dead of Winter.

     Collecting May blossoms or “bringing in the May” is a euphemism for this time of sexual licence.  Beltane remains a popular time for marriage ceremonies and traditional handfastings.

     Jumping over a broomstick on May Day symbolises crossing the threshold from Spring to Summer and combines the masculine (handle) with the feminine (brush)… no sniggering at the back please 😉

     Dancing around Maypoles at Beltane is still practiced today throughout Europe, Scandinavia and The British Isles.  The origins of this tradition are lost but Folklorists believe the pole represents the ancient reverence for sacred trees or a phallic symbol!

     Pre-Roman tribes danced and walked themselves and their herds around or between protective Beltane fires.  These bonfire celebrations are enjoying a modern revival attracting fire-eaters and coal-walking.

The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Imbolc (birth of Spring)

Ostara (Spring Equinox)

Related articles

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     Updated 19/03/2015

     Ostara (Old High German) or Ēostre (Old English) falls upon 20th March.  It is one of eight ancient Wheel Of The Year festivals denoting seasonal shifts.

     Ostara marks The Vernal (meaning “youthful”) Equinox: the height of Spring.

     Daylight and darkness are balanced at The Equinox, prior to the lengthening of days: a period sometimes referred to as Lent.  It is a time to celebrate fecundity and growth.

     Ostara is named for an ancient Germanic goddess and the month that bears her name; Ôstarmânoth, now April.

     Ostara is a dawn goddess associated to the Greek Eos and the Roman Aurora.  She represents the resurrection of light following the death of Winter.

     Ostara’s totem animal is the hare: a symbol of fertility dating back to prehistoric times.  The hare was admired for its enthusiastic mating rituals and it’s associations to moon goddesses and the female reproductive cycle.

     Eggs are an ancient symbol of renewal, fertility and life-force.  They can be decorated to represent the wishes we hope will manifest in the coming summer.

     Eggs were used to play a number of festival games such as treasure hunts, races and relays (our modern egg and spoon race).

     Ostara is a solar festival so bonfires, hearth fires and candles can also be lit.

     The daffodil or “harbinger of Spring” is the traditional flower of the Ostara festival.

 

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     If you were vaguely curious about what Hayden Christensen might have been up to since Star Wars then look no further.

     This gloriously raunchy and surprisingly starry romp is based upon The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio so it’s literary too!

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     Updated for 2015

     Imbolc (pronounced i-MOLK meaning “in the belly”) is one of eight seasonal festivals marked on the ancient calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.  Imbolc is observed on 1st February each year.

     Imbolc heralds the first stirrings of  Spring as it lies halfway between The Winter Solstice (Yule) and The Spring Equinox (Ostara).  It is a time when days lengthen, new buds and shoots appear and the first lambs are born.

     Imbolc was originally observed by the Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) people as a vital indicator of a new agricultural year.

     The festival was deemed sacred to the Gaelic goddess Brighid (pronounced breed) the midwife of the year and protector of women, children and newborns. 

     Hearthfire celebrations involved the baking of bannocks; the origin of Pancake Day.

     Corn Dollies and Brighid’s crosses would be made from dried stalks, reeds and rushes to bless the coming season.

     Imbolc was a time for weather forecasting.  Watching for snakes or badgers to emerge precedes the North American tradition of Groundhog Day.

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     We could not allow Puppet Month to go by at The Arcade of Arts & Arcana without wishing a very Happy Birthday to Mr. Punch who is celebrating 350 years of terrifying minors with his anger-management issues.

 

     Here are a few Punch facts to peruse if the pictures haven’t made you run screaming from this post ~

*  Punch & Judy performers are known as “Professors” and are sometimes assisted by a “Bottler” who corrals the audience, collects money and provides musical accompaniment. 

*  Mr. Punch is a manifestation of the mythological Trickster archetype.  His current anglicized form was adapted from the sixteenth century Neapolitan character Pulcinella from the Italian Commedia Dell’ Arte. 

*  Diarist Samuel Pepys recorded Punch’s début in London’s Covent Garden in 1662.

*  Punch regularly beats the other characters with a wooden baton known as a “slapstick”, a name now used as a collective term for a genre of physical comedy.

*  The Punch & Judy Show was originally intended for adults.  Contentious characters such as The Devil and Punch’s mistress Pretty Polly were sidelined in the late Victorian era as the performances were adapted for children.

*  The device which creates Punch’s familiar rasp is called a swazzle.

 

     Click the smiley for lots more information 🙂

 

 

Punch & Judy Pub, Norfolk, UK.

 

 

     Finally, a little treat from Stop-Motion Maestro Jan Svankmajer.  Don’t have nightmares, Blogsprites! 

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*Postage stamps, matches, refrigerators, lightbulbs, antiseptic, inflatable tyres, cars, buses, telephones, iron bridges, railways, cameras, bandstands and promenades are all Victorian inventions.

*After the death of Prince Albert (1861) Queen Victoria dressed in black and had fresh clothes and a wash-stand prepared for Albert every day.

*She also spoke of “the mad, wicked folly of women’s rights”.  No comment.

*Only two British monarchs have reached their Diamond Jubilee.  Victoria celebrated hers in 1897.

*Britain and China went to war… over Opium trafficking!

*A large part of the world still speaks English today because of Victoria’s empire.

*The Commonwealth is made up of countries which were once under British rule.

*The River Thames was so thick with sewage that paddle-steamers could hardly move.  After 30 years of work a new improved sewage system was completed in 1875.  It is still in use today.

*Victorian architecture favoured Medieval Gothic and Classical Roman or Greek styles.

*The first Victorian computer was called the “analytic engine”.

 

     All facts borrowed from The Victorians by Robert Hull.

     Click here for another post 🙂

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     Updated 17/06/2014

     Here at The Arcade of Arts & Arcana we are not ashamed to trawl kids’ books for fascinating factoids.  Here are few of our findings…

 

*Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital opened in 1852.  If you scroll down the sidebar you will find a link to Children With Cancer UK, this site’s nominated charity 🙂 

*Edward Jenner helped to wipe out smallpox in just 40 years when free vaccinations became available in 1840.

*The bell residing in the Houses of Parliament clock tower was cast in 1858 and named for building supervisor Sir Benjamin Hall.  Big Ben of course.

*Building ships from steel instead of heavy iron was a very good idea.

*Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1863) influenced Parliament to pass the Chimney Sweeps Act.  The use of children as sweeps was finally stamped out in 1875.

*Today southeast Asia produces 90% of the world’s rubber.  Rubber seeds were originally sourced in South America, shipped to the UK for cultivation at Kew Gardens and re-distributed to Malaysia and Indonesia.

*The first bicycle, the Penny Farthing, was made in 1883 with solid tyres and no brakes.

*The first electric underground railway opened in London in 1890.  The system soon became known as “The Tube”.

*Many UK newspapers were founded in the Victorian era.  The Times rose to prominence by reporting on the blunders of The Crimean War.

*Many Scots families emigrated to Canada (settling Nova Scotia or New Scotland) due to their own, less well-known potato famine.

 

     All these facts are borrowed from The Victorian Age 1837-1914 by James Harrison.

     Click for another post 🙂

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Updated 09/06/2014

     All these amazing facts have been borrowed from the Snapping-Turtle Guide, Victorian Life by John Guy.

*The average life expectancy for a Victorian city-dweller was a measly 40 years!

*At the beginning of Victoria’s reign (1837) 20% of the population lived in towns.  By the end of her reign (1901) this figure had risen to 75%.

*Beer was less than a penny a pint causing problems with drunkenness… especially amongst children.

*This was probably because both boys and girls wore dresses until they reached about five years old.

*Thomas Edison didn’t just invent the phonograph (1877) he suggested talking-books for the blind.

*The Railway Age created affordable travel for all and inspired that Great British pursuit: a day-trip to the seaside!

*Victorian Artists and Poets reacted against The Industrial Age by incorporating romanticised Myths, Legends and The Natural World into their work.  (Click the Gallery tab for an album of Pre-Raphaelite paintings.)

*Thank whatever gods you believe in for the invention of chloroform!  Available for use on patients as an anaesthetic from 1847.

*According to royal protocol no one is allowed to propose to a queen so Victoria had to ask for Albert’s hand in marriage (and we all know where he kept the ring *warning* this link features adult content)!

*Women (and anything they earned or owned) were considered the property of their husbands or fathers until legal amendments beginning 1882.

 

     Click for another post you might enjoy 🙂

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     According to Blackadder the only thing Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary is good for is looking-up rude words (how true).  So, when  Victorian Era photographer and film-maker Eadweard Muybridge invented Bullet Time it was inevitable he would use his remarkable new-fangled equipment to capture images of naughty ladies (and a few game gentlemen too)!

     It’s old.  It’s black and white, so it’s Art 😉

 

*Warning* Adult Content.

 

     Okay, he did a few other amazing and groundbreaking things too…

 

     Victorian Era Bullet Time!

 

 

     Click for a post you may enjoy 🙂

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Updated 03/06/2014

     Despite obvious extensive research and the Stoker seal of approval belated Dracula sequel Dracula The Un-Dead is a wasted opportunity which panders to modern tastes instead of keeping faith with the original vampire classic.

     Dacre Stoker and collaborator Ian Holt throw in everything from Elizabeth Bathory and Jack The Ripper to The Titanic creating a convoluted yarn which, although fast paced, struggles to find themes and focus.

     This sort of  Victorian Gothic Alternative History, or Literary Re-imagining, has been done far more successfully before by author Kim Newman whose Anno Dracula series is both effortless and ingenious in its use of similar settings and characters.

     The Un-Dead reads more like a sequel to Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula movie and when Dracula intones to Mina’s son “I am your father!!!” you may just die laughing.

     A fun read, but shouldn’t this have been a modern-day classic?

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Thank you http://myvoyagethroughtime.wordpress.com/
For this amazing link!

Thank you http://myvoyagethroughtime.wordpress.com/ For this amazing link!

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     Updated 16/10/13

When bookshops are heaving with Twilight knock-offs it’s a travesty that this superb novel is out of print in the UK  and had to be sourced secondhand, from overseas.”

     At least that is what a certain reviewer (ahem) said the last time they considered Kim Newman’s superlative Anno Dracula – the first book in a truly diverse, enlightening and remarkable series.  Since then Newman’s twenty-two year old vampire novel has received a  well deserved new edition and relaunch to go with its brand new sequel, Johnny Alucard (2013).
     Part Dracula sequel, part alternative history, Anno Dracula is a tour-de-force of literary and historical research enlivened by Newman’s light touch and rich detail.   Fans of The Age of Empire will enjoy recognising and sourcing the characters and events which are effortlessly woven into an original investigation of The Ripper murders.  It’s a deceptively simple mystery that uses action and fun to distract the reader from how very smart it really is. 
     Mr. Newman may seem more than a little in love with his genius concept – and well he might – because you will fall in love with it too.
Click for –

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     As a winner of The Versatile Blogger Award I am thrilled to present three more bloggers with the same certificate 🙂

     Do check out their excellent work…

     http://brideofthebookgod.wordpress.com/

     Smart, insightful and diverse.  A library in blog-form.

     http://countryandvictoriantimes.com/

     Everything you ever needed to know about American Victoriana.

     http://rhiarti.wordpress.com/

     A talented crafter and lover of Steampunk.

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     Updated 15/05/2014

     A “subtle” hint of Literary misogyny has confined Carmilla to countless Hammer-style lesbian vampire flicks yet J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s perfectly executed short novel (1872) preceded Bram Stoker’s Dracula by a good twenty years.

     Many familiar folkloric traditions were collected and presented here first, so Le Fanu’s tale has lost non of its relevance.  The foggy Eastern European locales, racing horse-drawn carriages, suspicious locals and masquerade balls are all present and continue to contribute to the variable laws of vampirism.
     The prose is fast-paced and contemporary with a tantalising cinematic quality.  Taut with tension and genuinely chilling Carmilla deserves just as much adoration as The Count!

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InkAshlings

Sometimes you aren’t after a big fantasy read. Sometimes you just want something gentle, and funny and a bit silly. Soulless was all that for me.

My friend gave me the best selling Soulless last year for my 21st, but my book backlist was so long, I never got around to reading it. I finally got around to it last month, and from the blurb my brother and I were were already laughing hard at;

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

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Amazing!

Country & Victorian Times

Although this is a bit different from what I usually post, I came upon this picture on the internet and just had to share. I have read and watched a lot on the subject of the undead and vampires, and even read about this cage over graves before. However, I have never actually seen a picture of one before and found it unique. So, I know what your asking, “so what does this have to do with this site and why is it posted?” Well, it has to do with the Victorian era and all of their superstitions and what we now know of as irrational fears.

The caged grave as seen above was used to prevent one of two things. 1: If you were to come back alive and become a walking undead then you wouldn’t be able to remove yourself from this cage and you could be dealt…

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What a brilliant blog! I would like to present you with The Versatile Blogger Award. Congratulations! For information on what to do next just click the link in my homepage sidebar x

Bride of the Book God

The Last Days of Glory by Tony Rennell gives us a detailed insight into events around the death of Queen Victoria, from Christmas 1900 until her magnificent funeral six weeks later.

It’s a book that’s been on my shelves for a long time; I spotted it in a bookshop just after it came out which is why I have this rather handsome little hardback copy. I’m slightly astonished (and also a bit ashamed) to say that means this has been in the stacks for close to twelve years. But it is one of those books which needs to be read at exactly the right time because of its level of detail. I can’t even remember why I picked it up when I did but I was soon absorbed and read it over a weekend.

I studied history at university and the past has always been of great interest to me…

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     Updated 06/02/2014

     Kate Mosse’s début novel, Labyrinth was much-loved and promoted by Richard and Judy’s TV book club allowing Mosse to swiftly and decisively establish herself as the female answer to blockbusting airport favourite Dan Brown.

     Sepulchre, Mosse’s second standalone novel, combines folklore and history to weave a simple yet compelling treasure-hunt mystery with Tarot magic and the lush French countryside thrown in for good measure.

     As with Labyrinth the past and present intertwine around the comparable adventures of two female protagonists but the Nineteenth Century heroine easily trumps her modern-day counterpart whilst secondary characters are frustratingly underwritten for a novel with such a hefty word count.

     It is Mosse’s descriptive and lyrical prose which prevents accusations of peddling pulp and Sepulchre stays the right side of sentiment; emerging as the thinking woman’s Romantic Fiction.

     A light, unchallenging but highly enjoyable read.

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Tarot

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Updated 05/03/2015

 

Elle Q. Sabine

I have been thinking quite a bit about this painting, Take the Fair Face of Woman by Sophie Anderson. Some title it The Fairy Queen, though Anderson mostly painted portraits of women and children.

The full title is much longer: Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things.

(It’s currently held in a private collection – the photo comes from Wikimedia Commons collection.)

I call the painting, in my head… Fand.

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