The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge

What ho Wee Readers, and welcome to The Great Star Wars Lockdown Binge. I know, I know, sometimes it feels like this Lockdown is going on forever. And I won’t lie, two months is a ridiculously long time to be stuck in your house – I mean if it wasn’t for streaming services like Disney Plus or Amazon Prime, I’d have snapped along time ago. Turning to more positive subjects…surprise, I’ve got a Disney Plus account now, and of course the only thing to do when one forks over the nearly sixty quid for a subscription, is to force her family to join her in the Great Star Wars Binge. Knowing of course that because they are locked in the house with her, they can’t say no forever.

‘The Great Star Wars Binge’, as I have so coined it, consists of all eleven canonical films – that is, the prequels, the originals, the sequels and both anthology films – along with the two canon series I can in anyway justified making my family watch: The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars. I did plan to watch Rebels as well, but it just never happened. We also did not watch Resistance, because I don’t care how long they keep us locked in here like we’e prisoners. Nothing will make me watch that willingly.

The scoring for each film shall go as follows:

0 – Could Not Be made to Watch

1 – Crap

2 – Just Barely Above Crap

3 – Technically not a bad film, but did not grab me at all

4 – A Good film, but nothing more than that

5 – Absolutely excellent – would watch again

Anything higher than 5 – best film on earth, I am going to binge watch this for the rest of my life. This is what I will be watching on my deathbed.

Right, on with the show.

Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

The first installment of the groundbreaking prequel trilogy – telling the story of the fall and corruption of the Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker into the sinister Sith Lord Darth Vader. This is a highly under-rated film full of political intrigue, and questions of the true culpability of the republic and the Jedi in the continuation of the practice of Slavery within the Galaxy. Yes, the republic has less influence in the outer rim planets – but you’d still think the Jedi would make some attempt to free one of their new members mothers from a life of slavery.

Mum’s Rating: 6 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 14

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Jump forward a couple of years and now our young Vader is played by Hayden Christensen. Half love story, half spy thriller – revealing the first sinister steps of Senator Palpatine’s plan to control the galaxy through fear. Creating a fake war, with both sides basically under his control, a plan so dastardly and ingenious that not even the Jedi can see what they are walking into. Palpatine is awesome…I mean evil, completely evil, not cool, or one of my favorite characters…completely evil.

Mum’s Rating: 4 /5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4/5

Final Rating: 11

Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith

The culminating episode of the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, this is my favorite Star Wars film. Everything set up in the last two films comes to beautiful fruition in this tragic film in which a man tormented with dreams of his wife dying in labor – the same kind of dreams that preceded his own mother’s death – seeks the dark arts for a way, anyway, to prevent her death. In the end he ends up betraying his colleges, his friends, his family – all in the name of the power to save the woman he loves. Who dies anyway, from a broken heart. God I love this movie!

Mum’s Rating: 3.5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 7 / 5

Final Rating: 13.5

The Clone Wars – The Seige of Mandalore

Set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – the Clone Wars tells a fascinating story of the war that ultimately destroyed not only the Republic but the Jedi as well. However for this Star Wars Lockdown Binge, we only watched the four last episodes – covering the siege of Mandalore and Order 66 – because it’s ‘unreasonable’ to expect people to wait the length of a seven season cartoon, before the next star wars film.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 0 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 8

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Or as I like to call it, Star Wars : Episode 3.5 – Solo Eleven. Yes, ultimately at it’s heart Solo is is a heist film, coincidentally set in the Star Wars Universe. And I’m not saying that as a bad thing either, the Star Wars franchise needs to grow and expand if it’s to stay relevant, and trying out new forms of story and film is how you do that. The fact that it tells the backstory of one of science fiction’s most iconic characters, is really just the cherry on top of an excellent adrenaline filled heist flick. The reason it lost a point for me was that it was so adrenaline filled that watching it made me feel like I was having a panic attack – which does somewhat take away my enjoyment of the film.

Mum’s Rating: 3 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 5 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 12

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

While Solo is the Heist film of the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One is the war movie. I know, I know – technically all the Star Wars films are war movies, but you know what I mean. While the numbered films are grand and epic, with bright flashing laser swords and high crashing drama – this film is hard and gritty. While the other nine are flying up in their ex-wings trying to be the hero who blows up the deathstar – the people of this film are down on the ground sacrificing their lives so that those ex-wings even have the chance to play the hero.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 4 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 14

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

I’ll just say this now, to get it out of the way, I truly believe that the blowing up the Death Star scene is the worst part of not just this Star Wars film, but the entire franchise. It goes on much too long, and the only interesting development happens right at the end – Han’s arrival and Luke’s success. That being said, this isn’t a bad film, in fact I very much enjoyed the rest of it – just not enough to give it a 5.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 3 / 5

Final Rating: 10

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

This is a good film, undoubtedly but I would hesitate to say that this is where Star Wars peaked. Although to be fair, Star Wars is such a large franchise – both in the legend and canon sense – that to say it peaks at any one place, no matter it’s individual merit – is the height of absurdity. Although, having said that, they never have quite topped the shock of the plot twist of Luke’s true Father, though goodness knows they’ve certainly tried.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 5 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 13

Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi

This is my favorite of the three original films, and I’m not too proud to admit that the Ewoks play a large part of that. In fact I’m even going to be so bold as to say that they are the best part of the film overall. Or at least the parts that they occupy – the ground battle on the moon of Endor – are much better than some of the parts in which they did not – that is, Luke’s confrontation with the Emperor. I don’t mean to throw shade at something that so many people – including myself – enjoy, but when you’ve just come from Prequel Palpatine’s careful manipulations of not only his future student, but the entire Galaxy, Original Palpatine’s expectation for Luke to turn and join him because he hurt his friends, is almost ludicrous in its stupidity. That’s not how motivation works, Emperor, you used to know that.

Mum’s Rating: 4 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 12

The Mandalorian

Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda. Baby YODA. BABY YODA! Oh yeah and there’s something about a Mandalorian but be honest…that’s not why we’re tuning in.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 13

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Look down at those scores, now look back at me, now down at the scores again. I swear I did not go into The Force Awakens intending to give it such a high score. I still hold fast to the view that its plot is just a tad too similar to A New Hope’s to be coincidental. However having now watched both films very close together in a short amount of time, I have now amended this theory somewhat. While both films follow the same story beats, to an almost religious level – young hero/heroine from a backwards sand covered planet finds a droid with important information that she/he has to deliver to the Rebellion/Resistance so they can stop the Empire /First Order – the Force Awakens plot seems to stand as a superior version. Things that still don’t exactly make a great deal of sense to me in a New Hope – like why were the plans for the death star being sent to Obi Wan Kenobi specifically – seemed to go far more smoothly in this new version of the story. In the Force Awakens, Rey finds the droid by accident and then bumps into Finn determined to finish Poe Dameron’s last mission, again by chance. The resistance itself doesn’t give the call to adventure for these two heroes, unlike Luke and Kenobi. I mean I know you could say that Lea was under attack and she had to think fast – but Rouge One reveals that it was always the plan to give Kenobi the plans, so I’m not sure what the endgame was for that idea.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 8 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 5 / 5

Final Rating: 18

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

I will stand on my pedestal and say that this is absolutely the worst of the three sequel films. Of course, saying that is less of a condemnation than you’d think. I genially think that taken out of context, all three films are well made, good films that anyone would enjoy. However in the context of the Star Wars franchise, I don’t think it adds much – I did like the emphasis on the force being something that belongs to everyone rather than just the Jedi, but that was completely disregarded in the next film so it didn’t really matter .

Mum’s Rating: 4.5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 11.5

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

I liked this film. It was a good fun film, its story was exciting and it didn’t rely on just copying the plot from the originals like the first two sequel films did. Also – and I know many people may disagree with me on this – but I liked where the characters ended up in their respective arcs. That being said, I’d be lying if I claimed the addition of Palpatine in this film didn’t feel a bit tacked on to the overall sequel trilogy’s story.

Mum’s Rating: 5 / 5

Dad’s Rating: 3 / 5

Wee Lassie’s Rating: 4 / 5

Final Rating: 12

In the Race for which is the superior Star Wars property – that I was able to make the others watch – we have:

In the rear The Clone Wars, limping along with an 8, from two people that enjoyed it but didn’t love it.

Barely two points ahead we can spot Episode IV: A New Hope, lagging with a 10.

Just a step beyond that you can see Attack of the Clones with a proudly won 11, and the only interesting love story in all of new canon. With the Last Jedi, only a hair’s breath in front with an 11.5.

Next up we have the shocking trio of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and Solo: A Star wars Story, each sporting a shinny new 12 to their name.

Baby Yoda and his Mandalorian guardian are making good time; alongside Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back with their ratings of 13. Revenge of the Sith, not too far in front with it’s hard fought for 13.5.

In joint second place, Rouge One: A Star Wars Story and Episode I: The Phantom Menace prove that the sacrifices have all been worth it with their solid ratings of 14.

And finally leading the way, in a shocking twist of fate to most Star Wars fans – Episode VII: The Force Awakens is winning this race, with an astounding rating of 18.

Do you agree with my parents and I’s ratings, would you have chosen differently? If so, drop me line down in the comments – Star Wars opinions are as varied as its fans and each deserves a voice. If you’ve enjoyed this look into the deep sense of obsessive fandom and boredom that provoked this binge during Lockdown, remember to follow the Wee Blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook and Goodreads. And sign up for The Wee Mailing List to receive all new content. Until next time Wee Readers, have a bonny day and may the force be with you.

The Wee Writing Lassie and the Folklore of the Nine Sacred Woods

Into the Cauldron

The Sacred Woods Go

Burn them fast

And burn them slow.

Is it a poem? Is it a limerick? No, Wee Readers, it is a spell. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you should remember that I am a vegan, in fact I was raised vegan from the age of two. How is this relevant to the current post, well, it’s not really – it’s just to remind you that I come from a slightly none traditional family. Which is why it should be less surprising when I say that we celebrated this May Day by performing a bit of magic. That is burning the nine sacred woods in the Beltane Bonfire. Well, what we did wasn’t really a bonfire per say, more like a small fire in a cauldron – but the intent still remains the same. We set fire to sticks from the nine sacred woods – in theory, they’re very difficult to find and some of them are toxic, so mostly we burned sticks that we were drawn to pick up – saying a blessing on to the world with each one we set a flame. Because it really felt like it needed it. The sacred woods consist of the first nine woods of the Celtic Tree Calendar, they are listed below in no particular order – along with some of the folklore associated with them.

9. Ash

Myth in its fibre, wood made word, the fissured bark

of Yggdrasil, world-tree, tree of Ask – the first man

tree of manna, foe feller, child healer, known by eye & fingertip

Excerpt from Ash Tree by Chris Poundwhite

Traditionally the Ash Tree represents the mother of the world. In ancient Norse Mythology the world tree Yggdrasil – that great holy tree that connected all the realms both mortal and otherwise was a an ash tree. In fact mortal Norse warriors would sometimes make their spears from ash, and they were referred to as Aescling or ‘Men of Ash’.

8. Willow

Know ye the willow tree

Whose gray leaves quiver,

Whispering gloomily

To yon pale river,

Lady, at even tide

Wander not near it,

They say its branches hide

A sad, lost Spirit?

Excerpt from The Willow-Tree by William Makepeace Thackeray

In the ancient druid stories the universe, mankind and everything was hatched from two scarlet eggs hidden within the willow tree. One egg formed the sun and from the other came the Earth – which begs the question where was the Willow Tree. This was recreated in the seasonal festival of Beltane using painted eggs. This would later be hijacked by Christians, for the holiday Easter. So just remember, that come Easter Weekend when you’re rolling your brightly colored chicken fetus down a hill, you’re performing an ancient Druid ritual.

7. Hawthorn

My palms rest

Upon the blackened trunk

Of a melancholy hawthorn

It’s choked wood crumbling

Into dust

Falling between my fingers

Extract of Burning Hawthorn by Lotus

In Ireland the Hawthorn tree is known as the fairy tree, although take care to call it something else as it is disrespectful to mention the fairies by name. Because of this connection to the little folk it is considered extremely bad luck to cut down a hawthorn tree. So much so that in 1999 work on the main road from Limerick to Galaway was interrupted because a Hawthorn stood in the way. Wish the owners of the woods near my house shared such beliefs – sometimes I feel there won’t be a forest left by the time this lock-down ends.

6. Birch

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do.

Extract from Birches by Robert Frost

In Celtic mythology Birch represented renewal and purification – and it was celebrated on Samhain (the holiday that would later become Halloween) which was the beginning of the Celtic New year. It also, as you might have guessed is connected to Beltane – a festival known in more modern times as May Day. Ritual fires were made of birch and oak, and Birch Trees were often made into living May poles.

5. Rowan

rowan tree with berries in summer sunny day

Oh rowan tree, oh rowan tree,

Thou’lt aye be dear to me,

Entwined thou art wi many ties,

O’hame and infancy.

Thy leaves were aye the first o’spring,

Thy flow’rs the simmer’s pride;

There was nae sic a bonny tree

In a’ the countrieside

Oh rowan tree!

Extract from The Rowan Tree by Lady Nairne

In Greek mythology it was said that the Rowan trees sprung from the fallen feathers of the eagle that had been sent to recover the cup of the Goddess Hebe. However it was attacked by demons before it could manage. Thus the Rowan Tree’s leaves are shaped like feathers and their berries are as red as blood. We can see great significance in Norse Mythology as well, where we see a rowan was transformed into the first woman – the first man having come from an Ash. As well as in British Folklore, where the Rowan is meant to protect against witchcraft and enchantment.

4. Holly

But the Hue of his every feture.

Stunned them as could be seen,

Not only was this creature

Colossal, he was bright Green

No spear to thrust, no shield against the shock of battle,

But in one hand a solitary branch of Holly

That shows greenest when all the groves are leafless.

Extract from ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Night’, author unknown

In Celtic legend the Holly King would battle the Oak King at the changing of the seasons. During Winter Solstice, the Oak King would arise triumphed – there after he reigns upon the earth, until the Summer Solstice where upon the two battle again. And this time it is the Holly King who defeats his opponent. And on and on, the cycle of the seasons go.

3. Alder

Are you weary, alder tree,

in this, the age of rain?

From your branches

droop clots of lichen

like fairy lungs. All week,

Squalls, tattered mists:

alder, who unfolded

before the receding glaciers

Extract from Alder by Kathleen Jamie

In Irish Folklore it is generally considered bad luck to pass an alder tree on your journey. The Alder tree was the tree of the God Bran – who you will remember if you’ve been following me, that I mentioned in this earlier post – along with Odin, Apollo and King Arthur. It was also associated with the Goddess of spinning, because it was a source for strong colored dye. In Magical belief Alder reminds us of the need to blend strength and courage with generosity of spirit and compassion.

2. Oak

A mighty wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground.

While other trees fell all around

The Weary Wind gave up and spoke.

How can you still be standing oak?

Excerpt from The Oak Tree by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

Throughout the world’s cultures the Oak tree has been venerated, often as the symbol of the greatest god in the pantheon. Gods such as Zeus, Jupiter, Dagda, Perun and Thor – called the Oak tree their own. Many Ancient kings would imply they were personifications of these gods by wearing crowns of oak leaf during times of victory – and even today, the oak leaf remains a symbol of military prowess.

1. Hazel

In the Beginning Love satisfies us.

When Love first spoke to me of love –

How I laughed at her in return!

But then she made me like the hazel trees,

Which blossom early season of darkness,

And bear fruit slowly.

The Hazel Trees by Hadewijch of Antwerp

The Hazel Tree has been venerated since the days of the Druids’ power, maybe even longer than that. There is an old ancient tale – repeated in varying forms across ancient Britain, of nine sacred hazel trees that grew around a pool. In the pool swam Salmon (who were honored by Druids), when the nuts fell from the trees, the Salmon would leap up and eat them – and from those nuts the salmon would absorbed the tree’s wisdom. I’ve mentioned the hazel nut before, in my previous post – because not only does it provide you with great wisdom, but a good boost to your immune system as well.

If you’ve enjoyed this foray into the folklore of the nine sacred woods, don’t forget to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook. And follow The Wee Mailing List, for all new content. Also check out Trees for Life – where most of this folklore information came from, it’s a fascinating site for anyone interested in the folklore of trees. Remember if come next May Day you decide to burn the nine sacred woods in your own Beltane celebration, make sure to exercise proper fire safety – you will be working with open (if not very large) flames. I also advise eating something afterwards, I always feel light and giddily shaky after burning the wood and food in the belly is a good way to ground yourself, or so I’ve been told. If you found any inaccuracies in what I’ve said here today, don’t hesitate to mention them down below in the comments. I love to be corrected, it’s how we grow. Until next time Wee Readers, make sure to get plenty of Sunshine, stay safe and have a bonny day.