Well, yesterday I went before the Chambre Ardente (I just cannot resist mentioning one of my favourite, unrelated in any way, pieces of witchcraft history here: the Affair of the Poisons, it has absolutely nothing to do with this post except for the evocative name of the chamber! I guess I just have to romanticise and Gothicise everything out of all proportion, all of the time!). This 'chambre' consisted of two archaeologists and a historian and I was in there in order to be assessed in regards to my first year of PhD research. In the US it's called 'Defending your Dissertation' I think. We call it 'Confirmation' as it means you become a confirmed PhD candidate rather than a probationer. The exprience was a bit like an initiation, but only really in regards to waiting outside the 'temple', entering it, being grilled, going out to the Chamber of Reflection while further mysteries occurred within the chambre, coming back into the temple, some further grilling, and then success! Now I understand what Ronald Hutton was saying in one of his books - I think it was 'Witches, Druids and King Arthur' - about academia being a kind of secret society into which one penetrates through ascending grades, and I'm paraphrasing of course, as I'm too lazy to look up the reference, even though the book is not 2 meters away. Anyway, I'm decorating this post with a Mark Ryden animated tree, as that's what my PhD topic is on, but in the prehistoric Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.