The Wood’s Song (3 Minute Video)

semantron pic

I never tire of watching this video and thought I’d share it with you. I love traditions from different countries and religions. I find them fascinating. Perhaps you do, too? I hope so!

Pictured above is a wooden board called a semantron used in Eastern Orthodox Christian monasteries where monks use mallets to bang against the wood, making a cool sound that is used as a call to prayer (like bells are used at churches). Here’s a history of the use of the semantron via Wikipedia:

The portable semantron is made of a long, well-planed piece of timber, usually heart of maple (but also beech), from 12 feet (3.7 m) and upwards in length, by 1 12 feet (46 cm) broad, and 9 inches (23 cm) in thickness.[2] Of Levantine and Egyptian origin, its use flourished in Greece and on Mount Athos before spreading among Eastern Orthodox in what are now Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia. It both predates and substitutes for bells (first introduced to the East in 865 by the Venetians, who gave a dozen to Michael III),[3] being used to call worshipers to prayer. 

In the portable wooden form, at the centre of the instrument’s length, each edge is slightly scooped out to allow the player to grasp it by the left hand, while he or she holds a small wooden (or sometimes iron) mallet in the right, with which to strike it in various parts and at various angles, eliciting loud, somewhat musical sounds (κροῦσμα, krousma).[2]

Although simple, the instrument nonetheless produces a strong resonance and a variety of different intonations, depending on the thickness of the place struck and the intensity of the force used, so that quite subtle results can be obtained.[5] A metal semantron, smaller than those of wood, is usually hung near the entrance of the catholicon (the monastery’s main church).[6] In the traditional monastic ritual, before each service the assigned player takes a wooden semantron and, standing before the west end of the catholicon, strikes on it three hard and distinct blows with the mallet. He then proceeds round the outside of the church, turning to the four quarters and playing on the instrument by striking blows of varying force on different parts of the wood at uneven intervals, always winding up the “tune” with three blows similar to those at the beginning.[3]

The video is three minutes in length.  I hope you enjoy it!

(Romanian monk hitting the semantron with wooden mallets for a call to prayer courtesy youtube)

 

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The Unique Ancient Christian Perspective in Fiction Writing

santorini sunset with church

In our Western world, we are accustomed to works by Christian authors of the Protestant and Catholic faith communities, but we’re lacking a voice for the rich and beautiful traditions of Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Romanian, Serbian, etc.) Christian faith in the fiction publishing realm and bookstores.

This reality struck me in the past two months, but only compelled me to the point of writing about it today.  Readers could learn so many fascinating aspects of the Orthodox Christian culture, traditions, and way of life with access to these writers’ works present in the fiction writing arena in the United States, especially.

I guess it was only natural that I, being an Orthodox Christian, would come to this realization eventually.  I only wonder if any of my Orthodox Christian brethren have thought about this and wished there were fiction books out there that delved into the traditions and beliefs of their own.

theophany cross dive

As a rather new writer in the past three years (coming back to writing after a nearly eighteen-year hiatus…you can read my writing history in a few of my previous blog posts, like my blog post “A Lifelong Dream Unfolding”), I’m still trying to get down the skills of writing, grasping good plot, and character development, but I felt compelled to share my thoughts.

You see, we Orthodox Christians don’t really fit into the tight guidelines of the evangelical Christian publishing, or completely in Catholic publishing.  Our beliefs are a bit different from the Western mindset, and our traditions are unique.  Wouldn’t it nice to have a venue to share these types of stories with you readers out there?  Maybe readers would find the cross dives done in a body of water nearest to a community’s church, why we make St. Basil’s bread, wear prayer rope bracelets, fast, wear crowns/stefana at our weddings, or wear wedding bands on our right ring fingers intriguing.  These traditions and beliefs may be refreshing interwoven in a fiction novel of a character of Eastern Orthodox faith.

stefana marriage crowns

While googling Orthodox Christian fiction writers, I found one from 2011 under a Facebook friend’s website.  With regards to fantasy (which is the genre of the story in the link), in my own personal opinion, I’ve not really been into fantasy about people with supernatural powers because they already truly exist in those who become holy in Christ–Saints.  There are plenty of stories of them in the Orthodox Christian world, but hardly known in the United States, my home country.  Incidentally, Ancient Faith Publishing has started accepting women’s fiction and other fiction by Eastern Orthodox Christians, and I hope other publishing companies follow…at least a few…because it gives us EOCs an outlet for our work.  🙂

I believe opening up this Eastern Orthodox Christian mindset in the Western World’s fiction publishing world would add a unique, fresh, profound, and brilliant expression of Christianity that’s so needed.

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