An Ancestor Find

I have been looking for a photo of my bio-mom’s paternal grandmother (my great grandmother) for over fifteen years. I found photos of my 2nd great grandmother, my 3rdgreat grandmother, and a fascinating story about my 3rdgreat grandfather but in all that time of searching (and I have some training as a genealogist so I know how to do a decent search) I hadn’t turned up anything on the woman in question: Edna Baldwin (later Edna Armiger). It didn’t help that her name was not all that unusual.

I will say that every place and person I contacted was extremely helpful, and through that help I was able to flesh out this line all the way back to the Huguenot ancestor who first came over to the States. I’m very grateful for everyone’s assistance. The key piece came from one of my aunts – who also has what I would term an ancestor practice, though for her it is being what she calls a “keeper of our line,” and remembering stories, tracing genealogy, etc. Well, she found a picture of Edna Baldwin and Perry Barnes, my great grandparents. I almost fell out of my chair when I opened the package today. This fills in a huge piece of my genealogy and my ancestor shrine.

Edna was apparently an opera singer in Baltimore, though during the depression she supported herself by working as a seamstress. She and Perry divorced early –theirs was a volatile relationship. My aunt told me that Edna once threw a knife at Perry (he had serious drinking problems so I’m not passing any judgment on this whatsoever) and only the thick newspaper he was holding up prevented damage. Family history says that Perry was a doctor, but I’ve found no evidence of that (and census records indicate quite the contrary, though he did graduate from college). I suspect they were two passionate people who were extremely ill matched.

Anyway, may they both meet with comfort and healing amongst our ancestors. May they be well remembered. They’ll both be well honored at my shrine.

edna baldwin perry hanna


Creation Song

i was spoken into being
by a ruthless God
sung into consciousness
by discordant runes
resolving into me,
knit through my synapses
running like fire
into my heart.
These things have consequences.
smoke sings,
an angel cries
and i devour
the heart of my God
and am reborn.

(G. Krasskova)

Rite of Spring

This is a link to Joffrey Ballet’s performance of “Le Sacre du Printemps,” possibly one of the most infamous ballets in history. Choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, with music by Stravinsky, it’s premiere in 1913 caused a riot. Joffrey Ballet painstakingly reconstructed his choreography and staging from interviews with dancers, letters and contemporary accounts. Here is an article about that. (I disagree with the author that this was a precursor to modern dance. This, unlike so much of modern dance, was actually art. Simply because it uses jagged, geometric movements does not modern make. There is a cohesive, narrative theme. It was, however, completely new in theme and style for its 1913 audience). Viewing it is like being present at a terrible yet sacred ritual. The audience almost becomes an unwilling participant.

Nijinsky’s choreography taps into something primal and holy, holy like blood, holy like terror. The story tells of a sacrifice chosen to herald in the spring.

Recent Conference Paper

I just presented a paper at this year’s Patristics, Medieval, and Renaissance conference at Villanova. This conference is one of the main academic conferences for theologians and so far it’s been really amazing. The key note speaker tonight, Susan Ashbrook Harvey gave a phenomenal presentation on Syriac Christian hymnody and women’s voices. It reminded me of why I want to learn (and am currently suffering through classes where I am drowning in syntax) Syriac so badly. 

My own paper was on a completely different topic. I wrote about a fifteenth century pilgrimage narrative by a Swiss monk, Felix Faber and the somatic way in which he interacted with relics on his journey. I made liberal comparisons with the 4th century pilgrimage account of Egeria. I’ve uploaded it to my profile here for those of you interested. 

I’m looking forward to the panels tomorrow. There are so many great presentations here.