Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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Daemons Discuss is our podcast!  It's part of Daemons Domain as a whole; it covers the same subject matter in a ridiculously randomized way, just like we do on the site.  Think of it as a supplement to Daemons DomainThe Daemons have a lazy web developer An entirely new site for it didn't make a lot of sense.  It is unique in a way that there are very different ways to subscribe to it.  Listen to us however you like to listen to your podcast shows!  If you have a favorite app for a mobile device, you can find us on it!  If you are new to podcasts, let us help you out:

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Contact us about the podcast using the form provided on the show notes of each episode.   If you just want to type an email to us: DaemonsDiscuss (AT) gmail (DOT) com (we write it that way to avoid spam bots that scroll websites for email addresses - what a pain, right?  Daemons have their hands full, we tell you!)  This email address is exclusively for matters regarding the podcast.  You can also give us a call and leave us a voice mail here: 1 (360) 519-7836.  You can also leave a voicemail on SpeakPipe! All general inquiries about Daemons Domain should be made using our main contact form.


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Beginnings, Endings, Change.


"Wait, what?!"  Yes!  This website falls under our big "Daemon Umbrella" as well. 

Armitage4Clairmont is where we started our 'public life' in 2012; the crusade officially ended on the 22nd of August, 2017 (the day of official casting announcements). Fare thee well, #RA4MC. We have no regrets, and we are pleased to welcome Matthew Goode (#MatthewSquared) to the All Souls universe with open arms! Richard Armitage was Matthew Clairmont in our hearts and imaginations for 5 years. We have no doubt Matthew Goode will easily fill that role for the following 5.

The site remains, but the domain expired in 2018.

Even though you no longer can visit at www.Armitage4Clairmont.com, we archived it online via blogger, and you can still visit it here to read about our first public journey in the fandom.

Here is where we've stashed other goodies from our early Armitage4Clairmont days:

YouTube Channel 
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Deviant Art Gallery (our "movie posters" and other graphic art uploaded there)
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Original Campaign Website circa 2012 (archived)



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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Yoga and The All Souls Trilogy

Aly Davis - photo by Jennifer Mahuet
23 September, 2016 
By Aly Davis

Looking back, I honestly can't remember exactly how I came upon the All Souls Trilogy. If memory serves, a friend with whom I boarded my horse suggested it when I mentioned needing new reading material. As she listed off the book titles, I thought it'd be right up my alley! Little did I know, that I would connect with the series on many more levels than just my superficial love of fantasy and magic. Nor could I ever have anticipated how my relationship with the series, along with the lens through which I read them, would change over the following two and a half years. Now, here I am, writing a guest post for the most amazing three women who love the trilogy as much as I do and for all of you, who I know love it as much as the four of us!  All of this brought about by a connection through social media and yoga.  Pretty cool, right?

During the time of my life when I made my first two trips through ADOW, SON and TBOL, I adored books, magic, fantasy, romance, and horses. I have owned, showed, and ridden my whole life and was thrilled to discover that Deborah Harkness is an avid horsewoman herself! But then she introduced me to a new love: historical fiction.  Up to that point, I had regularly left all adoration of history to my father and his obsession with the Civil War.  His insane ability to memorize dates, places, and historical experiences can easily rival any encyclopedia set or even a professor of history (He's a veterinarian, so science is a thing with him too! And math. And anatomy. He's a genius)!  I had never even considered the fact that I might fall in love with 1590's London, Henry Percy, and all of the little shops in the Blackfriars district on my own terms.

But that wasn't all that the books piqued of my curiosity. For years, I had been curious about the practice of yoga.  Here I was, reading about Diana and Matthew working their way through what sounded like an incredible yoga class with Amira. But what was a vinyasa? It had to be a different language, right? It's in italics! But what language, and what did it all mean?  With my first two reads through the books, I sort of skimmed over the yoga scene.  But as I came back for my third read (a year and a half into my yoga journey), I was able to experience the scene with an entirely new set of eyes. Suddenly, it all made sense! And not just the poses and sequencing; it no longer sounded like a bunch of hippy mumbo-jumbo. I fell just as in love with Amira as I did with Diana and Matthew.  I was able to see the whole series through an entirely new lens: yoga was the answer. To everything! From Diana's power, her control, to Matthew's temper, and the concept of time traveling... but let's not get ahead of ourselves! Embedded here are some photos and videos to help you visualize the poses and and understand the sequences that Amira leads the class through.  Hopefully, this will help you have a better grasp of the scene through visualization.


"Amira took us through some gentle stretches and got us onto our knees to warm up our spines before we pushed back into downward dog. We held the posture for a few breaths before walking our hands to our feet and standing up."
 
Mountain pose as described in The Discovery of Witches (by Deborah Harkness) demonstrated by Aly Davis

"Root your feet into the earth," she instructed, "and take mountain pose." I concentrated on my feet and felt an unexpected jolt from the floor. My eyes widened."


"We followed Amira as she began her vinyasas.  We swung our arms up toward the ceiling before diving down to place our hands next to our feet.  We rose halfway, spines parallel to the floor, before folding over and shooting our legs back into a pushup position.  Dozens of daemons, vampires, and witches dipped and swooped their bodies into graceful upward curves. We continued to fold and lift, sweeping our arms overhead once more before touching palms lightly together."

As I had mentioned earlier, I had been quietly curious about the practice of yoga for years. Having been raised in a fairly strict religious home, though, I was under the ignorant impression that the practice of yoga was innately connected to Buddhism and therefore completely off-limits to me.  It wasn't until I met one of my best friends, Burgundy, that I realized that I was mistaken!  Burgundy, whose husband was deployed with mine (March through November of 2013), was an avid practitioner and helped my already sparked interest flower to fruition! Through the past year and a half of consistent practice I have found more peace, patience, and community than I have in any other aspect of my life. I love the sweat, the self-challenge, the tradition, the homeopathic paths that have opened to me, and the awareness that accompanies listening to your body every day.  I am always challenging myself to be stronger, more flexible and more focused. I crave yoga nearly as much as I crave chocolate which is saying a lot! Yoga has become so much more than an exercise or hobby. It has become a lifestyle!

Wheel Pose
King Pigeon Pose
"By the time we took to the floor for backbends and inversion everyone in the room was dripping wet - except for the vampires, who didn't even look dewy."

Hand Stand
Forearm Stand
"Some performed death-defying arm balances and handstands, but I wasn't among them. Clairmont was, however.

Fallen Angel Pose
[...] At one point he looked to be attached to the ground by nothing more than his ear, his entire body in perfect alignment above him."

Savasana
Diana's Savasana variation
"The hardest part of any practice for me was the final corpse pose - savasana. I found it nearly impossible to lie flat on my back without moving... 'Diana," Amira whispered, 'this pose is not for you. Roll over onto your side.'... 'Curl into a ball.' Mystified, I did what she said. My body instantly relaxed."

Now that we all have a vague visualization of what went on in the most glorious five pages of ADOW (I know I'm a titch biased when it comes to the yoga scene, no doubt!) let's dive in a little deeper.  Just like the practice of yoga itself, this passage has so many layers just itching to be unpacked!  For starters, there's the obvious: Matthew tells Diana that Amira's class is a "mixed class". To your run of the mill yogi like myself this means just as it sounds; a mixed class tends to be a complete mash up of different levels and styles and there's really no way of knowing what you're getting yourself into until the class starts.  But this takes on an entirely different meaning when Diana walks into a truly "mixed" class full of creatures! She's walking in on a group of people who have not only been seasoned over many years to stay away from other "breeds" of creatures but to consider themselves superior. A lot of work, primarily at the individual level, must go into making this class really work. It is certainly no surprise that it takes nothing short of having an empath as an instructor to make this highly-charged class run as smoothly as it does!

'"Close your eyes," Amira suggested again gently.  "It can be hard to let go of our worries, our preoccupations, our ego. That's why we're here tonight."

The words were familiar - I'd heard variations on this theme before, in other yoga classes - but they took on a new meaning in this room."'

To every yogi, this "variation on a theme" is not just a common saying, it is our goal, what we work toward through a consistent practice.  It may sound to non-practitioners to be that "hippy mumbo-jumbo," as it did to me before I began my practice, but the opportunity to let go, even just for an hour, is a gift in this crazy, fast-paced life that we all live! Worries and preoccupations are inevitable but through meditation in movement we can sometimes manage to leave these constant concerns behind just long enough to feel a reprieve.

Letting go of the ego, on the other hand, is a much harder task. For everyone, the ego is what keeps us comparing ourselves to others and what bogs us down when we don't feel like we have/are/can do enough.  This is an especially potent piece of the puzzle in this particular class full of vampires, witches, and daemons who have been taught their whole lives that no other creature is as "good" as them and who have generations of ancestry to live up to. We're talking genius daemons who are rivaling Steve Jobs and Sir Isaac Newton, vampires who have thousands of years of built up ego (not difficult when you're naturally gorgeous and more cultured than most everyone else you come in contact with), and witches with grimoires going back hundreds of years, chock full of spells from witches whose reputations they must live up to. Ego plays a huge role in the entire series of books but for this amazing five pages we catch a break; a break we didn't even know we would need as badly as we do.

So we've unpacked some of the deeper stuff but what about the hilarious irony glittering over the surface of this whole scene? None but a yogi would probably notice it (I know I didn't the first two times I read it) but on my third read through I couldn't help but giggle a bit as I finished the passage and realized just how ironic some of it was!  For starters, one of the main focuses of yoga is on the breath.  Yogis breathe their way through movement, oftentimes each movement aligning with a new breath.  But vampires? They can make it to Diana's count of 200 before feeling the need to take another breath! And yet they seem to be the ones struggling to keep a slow, steady pace while daemons, naturally high-strung and over-active, struggle to keep up with the class.  How very backward! Of course, any yogi would kill to be able to sustain standing poses for indefinite amounts of time like the vampires apparently can, but believe me when I tell you that I don't understand how in the world the daemons wind up sitting comfortably in lotus.

Tree Pose
Warrior 3
Ardha Cadra Chapasana
"Gradually the room's energy settled again. Amira moved us through a series of standing poses. Here the vampires were clearly at their best, able to sustain them for minutes without effort."

After over a year and a half of practice I still can't sit comfortably in lotus without feeling locked in and in need of fidgeting.

Lotus pose
“There was no one to my immediate right, but across a small expanse of open floor two daemons sat in lotus position with their eyes closed.”
 
But here are the daemons, totally at ease with being all tangled up, just proving that yoga is the lifesaver I have found it to be! The irony throughout the entire passage is so potent, yet so true.  You come to expect surprises from your body through practice, and often come to learn that everything you thought you knew about yourself proves you wrong by showing you the polar opposite on your mat. The clumsy find grace, the over-thinkers find mental clarity, the perfectionists discover the beauty of the natural flaws of practice. And everyone is brought down to a ground level ego to build from afresh.

"Good grief! She got all that from five pages?!" Yes, I did! And I wish like crazy that those weren't the only five pages of yoga in the series (hopefully there'll be more in The Serpent’s Mirror!).

Truth be told, I believe that every single person in this world could benefit from the physical and mental practice of yoga. We could all use a little more activity, a little more calm, a little more peace and happiness. But after rereading the trilogy through a yogic lens, I can honestly say that Diana and Matthew probably need more consistent practice than most. Maybe they could even try some partner or acro yoga! In all seriousness, Diana and Matthew lead extremely stressful, exhausting lives and the act of letting go of preoccupations, worries, and ego could help both Matthew's temper, which is always bubbling right beneath the surface, and Diana's control over her magic.

As I followed Diana through her journey of harnessing her magic, both in present day and in 1590, my mind constantly came back to the same thought: Diana needs more yoga, specifically asana (the movement part of yoga that we've been discussing).  Granted, it would be a strange practice to bring to 1590's London, but I feel that the act of consciously managing breath and energy could've eased the strain of learning magic. Not only was Diana under immense stress, between the threat of death by fellow creature's hands and her need to learn in a few months time the amount of magic that takes most witches a lifetime to master, but the magic that she needed to learn was very closely linked to her emotions and desires which are often buried deep within the inner mind and heart. Diana's meditation in the Bishop House's yard was an amazing way to ground her and open her third eye, practices that all yogis long to master as well.  She she seemed to have dropped that as she moved into more advanced magic and even after she left for 1590's London. If only she had kept up with both her asana and meditation practices! Both of these equal halves of yoga strive to leave the practitioner with a deep honoring of self, a better management of energy, and a connection to the inner mind - all things that Diana needed to harness her power.  A solid yoga practice could have brought Diana much more quickly and succinctly to herself - the real her - that she kept hidden and stamped down for so long during that period of time.  So many benefits, so little time!

Even after all of this, I feel that I have only skimmed the surface of the books connections to yoga.  There is so much more that I'd love to put into words for you regarding Diana's control of magic, Matthew's desperate need for a little more practice, working with the third eye, and some of the crazy hidden connections between yogic lore and the relationship that Diana and Matthew share. Maybe I can save it for another time!  Lord knows I love to write, especially when it's something that I'm passionate about - yoga and the All Souls Trilogy being two passions right at the top of the list!

If you have any questions, or if you yourself have been curious about the practice of yoga and want to learn more, please find me on Instagram!  You too will have a chance to get involved in an awesome community of yogis.  Reach me here--> @alylynnyogaandthings, and shoot me a direct message.  I would love to hear from the All Souls community, and help anyone interested to begin or develop a practice!  If you're not on Instagram, but would still like to chat, please feel free to email me at rothenal@miamioh.edu!  Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to check out the amazing Daemon's Domain blog, and specifically for taking the time to hang with me here.

Namaste!
 ______

Thank you, Aly!
Thank you, readers!
Til Next time...



All photos/videos for this post © 2016 Aly Davis.

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