Thank You, SIBYLS


After the earthquake in Nepal we have supported rebuilding schools at both Sangachok and Maga Pauwa by sending donations  directly to N.I.C.E. – a fund raising group associated with Mahabir Pun.  It is very pleasing to see progress has been made. Future donations will also help schools establish online education connections.

The people of Sangachok and Maga Pauwa  have sent these photographs to thank the Sibyls.


It is amazing how far a helping hand can reach across the world.

The Sibyls Salute: Gloria Steinem

by The Sibyls

Gloria Steinem Quote

Gloria Steinem, feminist icon, founding editor MS magazine, social activist and commentator is currently on tour in Australia. In an article titled Gloria Steinem at 82: a hopeless hopeaholic always on the move by Susan Wyndham (18 May 2016, SMH) Gloria claimed she will have to live to 100 years of age to keep up with her current commitments.

‘On her to-do list: help get Hillary Clinton elected as US president (“I think she can win and she has to win”); introduce a Vice series of documentaries on violence against women around the world; consult on an HBO TV series about Ms, the feminist magazine she co-founded in the ’70s; work on a one-woman theatre show in which actor Kathy Najimy plays Steinem and the real Steinem joins in for an audience Q&A.

Gloria Steinem Sibylesque

We, The Sibyls, salute Gloria Steinem for her lifetime involvement in social reform and her continuing commitment to improving the lives of minority groups and the disadvantaged. She has been politically active for over 50 years and an inspiration for generations of women. Now, at 82 years of age, she is a role model for older women. She is an articulate, intelligent and vital life force, who demonstrates how much can be achieved at any age by anyone willing to put up their hand and become involved.

1 hour interview on ABC Radio 774 with Jon Faine and Kaz Cooke

Notable Women: Christine de Pizan

by Lorna Ebringer

 Sibylesque Virginia Woolf Quote

A lot has been written about the life and work of Christine de Pizan, late medieval scholar and writer but I had never heard of her until Sibyl in chief Kerry asked me to write about her for Sibylesque. Here is a potted history for those of you who would like to become acquainted with this extraordinary woman.

Sibylesque Christine de Pizan in her studyAccording to the British Library Christine de Pizan was born in Venice in 1365, the daughter of Tommaso de Benvenuto da Pizzano who was a physician and a court astrologer. After her birth the family moved to France where Tommaso accepted an appointment as court astrologer to Charles V. It was here at the court that Christine received an extensive and wide ranging education supervised by her father, an education that was normally reserved for men of the wealthy class in that time.

City of Women by Christine de Pizan. She supervised the production of the illustrated manuscript.

City of Women by Christine de Pizan. She supervised the production of the illustrated manuscript.

At the age of 15 Christine married Ettiene du Castel. She had three children before being widowed 10 years later. It is clear from her poems that Christine loved her husband and felt her loss deeply

Alone and in great suffering in this

deserted world full of sadness has my

sweet lover left me. He possessed my

heart, in greatest joy, without grief.

Now he is dead; I’m weighted down by

grievous mourning and such sadness has

gripped my heart that I will always weep

for his death.

(from One Hundred Ballads, completed before 1402, translated by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski)

As her father had also died four years earlier Christine had to find a way to support herself, her children and her mother. She turned to writing and in the following 30 years published both prose works and poetry enjoying great success serving as court writer for several dukes and the French royal court of Charles VI. It is claimed that she was the first woman in western literature known to have made a living as a writer.

 Sibylesque Christine de Pizan being instructed by the Sibyl in the spheres of heaven

Initially she wrote love ballads for wealthy patrons often on commission. These proved very popular and she wrote 300 in all. Her prose works include The City of Women, the Faytte of Armies or The Deeds of War and Chivalry, The Book of Peace and the book of the Changes of Fortune.

Nowadays Christine is of interest to feminist scholars for her writings on the position of women in society. Simone de Bouvoir wrote in 1949 that she was the first woman to take up a pen in defence of her sex. In her plea for the education of girls Christine wrote

“If it were customary to send little girls to school and teach them the same subjects as are taught to boys, they would learn just as fully and would understand the subtleties of all arts and sciences.”

Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

 Sibylesque Christine de Pizan and 'The City of Ladies'

and on domestic violence

“How many women are there … who because of their husbands’ harshness spend their weary lives in the bond of marriage in greater suffering than if they were slaves among the Saracens?”

Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

At the age of 55 Christine retired to a convent at Poissy.




Lorna Ebringer’s passions include trekking  in remote areas of Georgia, China and Japan, opera appreciation and rock ‘n roll dancing. Her previous post was When god had a wife.


Photo Source: British LIbrary Manuscripts online.………………………………………………..



There is a link between Wisdom and Age, but, maybe, not the one you think.

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Barry Schwartz Quote

We know as we age that we are, indeed, much wiser than in our youth, but can we really justify this assumption? In their book The Art of Wisdom and the Psychology of How We Use Categories, Frames, and Stories to Make Sense of the World, Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe give some insights into art of acquiring wisdom. (You will find a review at Brainpickings.)

Sibylesque   Christine de Pizan  Book of Queens

Dancing around the notes on a page applied specifically to rules.

 ‘A wise person knows when and how to make the exception to every rule… A wise person knows how to improvise… Real-world problems are often ambiguous and ill-defined and the context is always changing’.

Barry Schwartz gave a good example of this applied wisdom in his TED lecture on Our Loss of Wisdom.

In this lecture Schwartz lists the Job Description of a hospital janitor. This job description lists tasks but does not mention a patient as if a hospital janitor cleaned in a parallel universe devoid of human life. Yet the janitors that showed wisdom did not follow the letter of the law. One janitor knew not to vacuum in a visitor’s room at one point because a patient’s family was sleeping there. Another janitor did not mop a floor because a patient was taking their first tentative steps around their room following an operation.

This is wisdom. It is also something we Sibyls understand. People are different. No two life-situations are the same. Combine the two and there are many possibilities. But here is the catch. You must be creative and flexible, otherwise, your response to any situation will be RIGID, predictable, but not necessarily wise.

 You must also be old. Why? Here is Barry Schwartz again:

 “A wise person is an experienced person. Practical wisdom is a craft and craftsmen are trained by having the right experiences. People learn how to be brave, said Aristotle, by doing brave things. So, too, with honesty, justice, loyalty, caring, listening, and counselling.”

The Erythraean Sibyl  Beauvais Cathedral SibylesqueMy book, Forgotten Wisdom, begins with the words ‘Certainty ended for me on 2nd March, 1995. I was 42 years old’. My forties were the miserable years. They began with learning that my mother was dying of cancer at 66 years of age and continued through a long illness with one child, a sick spouse and, torturously, writing humorous articles for a living.

Yet, talking to my daughter the other day, I realised for the first time that I’m thankful for those 8 years of misery. At the time, I would have paid anything not to live through those years. But now, I wouldn’t give them back. They formed me. Up until that point, the life choices I had made– university courses, husband, children – had materialised. I thought I was in control of life. Then I wasn’t. Now I’m less arrogant, more sympathetic, less rigid, more open and less judgemental.

Am I wise? Wiser, perhaps. At least, I know this: The birth of wisdom follows the death of certainty.

So wisdom is a craft and you need a broad range of experience in life – joy and misery, triumph and disappointment, fear and acceptance, pain and endurance – to hone this craft.

For more Wisdom of The Sibyls see Jennette Williams on the beauty of the older women, Mary Beard on silencing women in the public forum and Doris Brett for a journey through stroke, love and recovery.

Perhaps, the Sibyl’s anthem should be:

Bring on the music of life. Let’s dance.


Drinking 8 glasses of water a day for Dummies


Navy quote 1You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him water ski.

ff………….Kerry Cue, Sibylesque (Just made that one up to be annoying)




Even as I write these lines some self-proclaimed health adviser will be insisting that for optimum health you should drink 8 glasses of water a day.

This assumes two things:

1. You are incapable of deciding if you are or are not thirsty. Answer this question. What day is it? Correct. As you do not appear to have dementia, you will remember to drink fluids.

2. That 8 glasses is the correct fluid intake for you. How do they know?

8 glasses a day   women under hairdryer pinterest

Meanwhile, the claim that you need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day has been debunked.

Drs. Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb at the University of Pennsylvania reviewed published clinical studies on the topic and found no data to suggest people need to stick to the “8 x 8″ rule.

“Indeed, it is unclear where this recommendation came from,” they write in an editorial in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Photo source: Vintage Hairdryers pinterest