Wooden Masks

Pacific Northwest Ceremonial Masks (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3807): Pacific Northwest Tribal Art (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3803)

Wooden Masks
Article and research by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Research, August 7, 2017

Throughout history masks have been made for various reasons, and wood was a common medium for making them in. Every culture had examples of them. Masks are atypically worn on the face usually either for ritual, ceremony, magical rites, disguise, performance, theater, entertainment, or protection. They were believed to have first been used for religion and magic. The first written reference of mask comes from the Middle French “masque” meaning “covering to hide or guard the face” in the 1530s. “Masque” was derived from the Latin word “masca” meaning “mask, specter, nightmare”. It could have also originated from the Arabic maskharah مَسْخَرَۃٌ “buffoon”. Masks are also worn for protection during battle as armor, during hunting or sports for protection, and as entertainment / ornamentation during feasts/performances. Some masks are ornamental or religious and not meant to be worn, but as sacred objects or artifacts. Today they are commonly used in psychotherapy and drama therapy.

Anthropological theory suggests the first use by aborigine peoples was to represent some unimpeachable authority of being a supernatural entity like a God/dess or magical spirit / creature. This was also potentially used to promote a certain social role. Earliest found masks date over 9,000 years BP (Before present). Earliest anthropomorphic artwork dates to approximately 30,000-40,000 BP depicting face paint, war paint, leather, vegetative material or wooden masks. Even at the Neanderthal Roche-Cotard site in France there is a likeness of a face over 35,000 BP depicted in cave drawings, but unknown if it was really a mask. Anotolia around 6,000 BCE (Before Common Era) shows a young naked ithyphallic God wearing a horned mask, attributed to the cult of Shiva. The Dionysus cult of Greece also shows mask use allowing participants to participate hidden in debauchery. Iroquois tribes were known to use masks for healing. One of the magical societies were the False Face Society. The Yup’ik were known for their 3 inch finger masks as well as ten-kilo masks hung from the ceilings. Masks were used to create mediators for supernatural forces in the Himalayas. Historic masks were used for disguise, protection, as well as for plastic surgery applications for those suffering mutiliation or birth defects. Masks permitted the imagination to go beyond limitations, from the sacred to the playful, giving imaginative experiences of transformations into other identities. This comes into play with performance and entertainment as well, letting actor/resses to become and manifest into their roles.

In ceremony and ritual the mask allowed transformation, role playing, possession, sacrifice, and presentation of supernatural entities. They also represented a protective role with the mediation of spirits. They can also represent a specific culture’s idea of feminine beauty such as with the Punu of Gabon.

Africa

Most, if not all, of the original peopling of Africa involved Masks. In the West, they were utilized in ceremonies set up to communicate with the ancestors and spirits. These wooden masks are carved by special mask makers who were known as “master carvers”, often passed on through heritage and family lineage. There were fang masks used by the ngil to hunt out sorcerers. Most of the African masks involve animals or the representation of them – believing that the tribe can communicate with the animals spirits by wearing them. Today most African masks are made for the tourism industry.

Australia

Fascinating masks come out of Australia, including full body covering masks that envelope the body.

North America:

Northeastern:
Northeastern tribes like the Iroquis had special wooden “false face” masked used in ceremonies of healing. They were made from living trees, carved in ritual, with a variety of shapes based on function.

Pacific Northwest:

Pacific Coastal original inhabitants were known for their wood craft – many of their masks were prizes of art with moveable jaws, masks within masks, and other moving parts. Some of them were combined with totems, poles, houses, canoes, and shields.

The North American Northwest and Columbia Plateau Tribes have a distinct form of ceremonial and utilitarian masks within their culture and archaeological record. The Artwork of the Native American Pacific Northwest Cultures is phenomenal, embedded with myths, legends, and spirituality that empowers their people. Masks are also utilized as representative totems. Inuit peoples have varying languages and mythology, with masks varying just as much. Many of their masks are made either of driftwood, bones, skins, and feathers. Inuit women use finger masks to tell stories and conduct dances in storytelling.

Transformation is a common purpose for Northwestern use of masks, especially those on the Northwest Coast and area known as Alaska within ritual dances. Many times these are depicted with an outer animal visage hosting moveable parts revealing the inner human face carved in wood. The Northwestern tribes held ceremonies known as potlaches which illustrated the myths in shamanic rituals depicted by the masks. These peoples involved the tribes of Tlingit, Haida, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Tsimshian, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and other First Nations. Common depictions such as the Ancestral Sky Spirit of the Thunderbird that when it ruffles its feathers causes thunder, and blinks its eyes for lightning.

Northwestern coast mask art is well known for its use of formlines, ovoids, U and S forms. Pre-European contact, these masks were made out of wood (particularly Western Red Cedar), stone, and copper. After European contact, most of the masks were made with canvas, glass, paper, and precious metals. Most of the masks and art were done with red, white, black, and sometimes yellow. Patterns are notoriously that of ravens, bears, thunderbirds, sisiutls, eagles, orcas, and humans. Many were implemented in totem poles. After European contact and their attack on the cultural ways of the peoples, much of the art and style was lost. Recent years (decades) a revival has been born bringing back these art styles, masks, and the formerly banned potlach ceremony. Masks were known to be passed on from father to son to grandson.

Southeastern United States:

    ” Wooden Masks: The carved and painted masks probably represents animals. The animals represented here includes a wildcat, pelican, and cormorant, which is a type of bird. The masks likely were worn during religious ceremonies. ” ~ Diorama/display in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo 091712-037.jpg) Wooden Masks: http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=1367 (Expected publication January 2013).

” Wooden Masks: The carved and painted masks probably represents animals. The animals represented here includes a wildcat, pelican, and cormorant, which is a type of bird. The masks likely were worn during religious ceremonies. ” ~ Diorama/display in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo 091712-037.jpg) Wooden Masks: http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=1367 (Expected publication January 2013). Division of Historical Resources – Florida Museum of History – Where I used to work – September 17, 2012: A Walk Down Memory Lane – revisiting College Town – Tallahassee, Florida. (c) 2012 – photography by Leaf McGowan, Thomas Baurley, Eadaoin Bineid – technogypsie.com. To purchase this photo or to obtain permission to use, go to http://www.technogypsie.com/photography/?tcp_product_category=photo
For more information visit:
Tallahassee: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=5093 (Expected publication November 2012)
Florida: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=5079 (Expected Publication December 2012)
http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/
For travel tales, visit:
http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/

Southwestern United States:
Southwestern tribes like the Pueblo, Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni took on the forms of supernatural spirits in very distinctive and elaborate masks utilized in religious ritual as kachina’s or Gods/spirits forms. These were made of wood, decorated with fur, feathers, leather, and/or leaves.

Research is being conducted, please come back for more information and photos.

Pacific Northwest Ceremonial Masks (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3807): Wooden Masks: (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=13678); Pacific Northwest Tribal Art (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3803); Pacific Northwest Tribes (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3467) Exhibit – Denver Museum of Art/ Art Museum (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=838). Wandering around Denver, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken Saturday, August 5, 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsi

e.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Garden of the Gods (CO, USA)

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545)

Garden of the Gods
1805 N 30th Street (at Gateway Rd) * Manitou / Colorado Springs, Colorado * 719.634.6666 * http://www.gardenofgods.com/ * http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545
Originally first published May 9, 2009 by Thomas Baurley

Garden of the Gods is a unique natural geological park that is located in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs … and is a Registered National Natural Landmark. It’s open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer and 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the winter. The park boasts over a million visitors a year or more.

History and Mythology

Where the Great Plains grasslands meet the low-lying pinon-juniper woodlands of the American Southwest at the base of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains a geological upheaval occurred along the Trans-Rocky Mountain Fault system creating these spectacular features over a million years ago. Horizontal ancient beds of sandstone, limestone, and conglomerates were pushed and tilted vertically when the tectonic plates pushed together. Glaciations, wind, and water erosion shaped the features over hundreds of thousands of years.

This geologic feature was seen as sacred grounds by the original inhabitants of the area, potentially visited and used for spirituality possibly over 3,000 years ago to present. As early as 1330 B.C.E. evidence of human occupation has been found from petroglyphs, fire rings, pottery, and stone tools have been left behind. The Ute Indians claim that their people always had lived where Garden of the Gods Park now stands and their people were created there and around Manitou.

The Kiowa, Apache, Shoshone, Pawnee, Cheyenne, and Arapaho also claim their peoples visited or lived here. It was known as a pivotal crossroads and meeting place for many indigenous peoples and nomadic tribes gathered together for peace. Rivaling tribes were said to even have laid down their weapons before entering the shadows of the sandstone features.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

Two sets of petroglyphs were found here – the first hidden in a crevice on the east side of South Gateway Rock depicting a circular shield-like figure divided into four parts with a rain cloud terrace image, a Thunderbird image, zigzag lines, and image of wheat or corn and a faint flower-like image with a dozen dots forming a semi-circle over its top which some experts said was done recently in the last 100 years copying Indian designs from a book. The other petroglyph is pecking in the rock discovered in the 1980’s and estimated to date to 1500 C.E. most likely an Ute Indian design potentially depicting a deer, a third of a buffalo head, and maybe a stone tool seemingly telling a story.

Alleged Native American legends of the site have been told, their authenticity unknown. Marion E. Gridley wrote in “Indian Legends of American Scenes” telling a tale about a great flood that covered all the mountains nearby Pikes Peak. As the waters receded, the Great Spirit petrified the carcasses of all animals killed by the flood into sandstone rolling them down into this valley as evidence of the Great Flood.

The second was written by Ford C. Frick saying “… in the nestling ales and on the grassy plains which lie at the foot of the Great White Mountain that points the way to heaven lived the Chosen People. Here they dwelt in happiness together. And above them on the summit of the Mighty Peak where stand the Western Gates of Heaven, dwelt the Manitou. And that the Chosen might know of his love the Manitou did stamp uon the Peak the image of his face that all might see and worship him … but one day as the storm clouds played about the Peak, the image of the Manitou was hid .. and down from the North swept a barbaric tribe of giants, taller than the spruce which grew upon the mountain side and so great that in their stamping strides they shook the earth. And with the invading host came gruesome beasts – unknown and awful in their mightiness – monstrous beasts that would devour the earth and tread it down … and as the invading hosts came on the Chosen Ones fell to the earth at the first gentle slope of mountain and prayed to Manitou to aid it. Then came to pass a wondrous miracle, the clouds broke away and sunshine smote the Peak and from the very summit, looking down, appeared the face of Manitou himself. And stern he looked upon the advancing host, and as he looked the giants and beasts turned to stone within their very steps … “

If this site was in Australia or Europe, it would be named castles and fortresses associated with Gods, Deities, Spirits, or Faeries.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

Westerners first discovered the features in 1859 by two surveyors who were here to build Old Colorado City. M.S. Beach, one of the surveyors thought it would be a great location for a beer garden. The other surveyor replied to him stating “A Beer Garden? Why this is fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it Garden of the Gods”. General William Jackson Palmer who was known for his contributions of building Colorado Springs convinced his colleague Charles Elliot Perkins to buy the 240 acres embracing the features. In 1909 his children donated the land to the city of Colorado Springs.

The original family that donated the land to the public required that it would always remain free, and that is what it remains today. Garden of the Gods stands as a great park for hiking, walking, bicycling, rock climbing, picnicking, special events, and weddings … The park has it all … protected as 1,387 scenic acres … and presents itself as a unique tourist / information center, with a theater and gift shop near the entrance. Within are 15 miles of trails ranging in various levels of difficulty from beginner to advance for hiking and exercise.

A historical video greets you at the welcome center and tells the tale that began in the 1870’s when the railroads carved westward, when General William Jackson Palmer founded the city of Colorado Springs and upon discovering this natural beauty, urged his friend Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of Burlington Railroad, to make his home where the park now stands. He lived there until he finished his railway from Chicago to Colorado Springs. His railroad project wasn’t a success and never made its destination in the springs.
His homestead eventually became his summer home in 1879. He purchased 480 acres and never actualized building on it, leaving the land in its natural state and for the public. When he died in 1907, he made arrangements for the land to be a public park, and this was enacted by his children in 1909 forever as the Garden of the Gods “where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.” That is exactly what they’ve done …. and its a beautiful place to be.

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Loo-Wit, Mount Saint Helens

Photos and Tales to come – coming soon ….

Story of the Bridge of the Gods: Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

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Wyeast the Singer (Mount Hood)

Photos and Tales to come – coming soon ….

Story of the Bridge of the Gods: Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

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Cairns and stacked rocks


Cairns and stacked rocks

Potential power quest cairns (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3289)

Potential power quest cairns (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3289)

Cairns and Stacked Rocks
By Thomas Baurley

The stacking of stones is a widespread cultural practice all around the world. You know it is a remnant of modern, historical, or prehistoric cultural manufacture because they were not placed there by nature. Most likely a ‘human’ moved one stone atop another. They vary in size from one or two rocks or more stacked on top of each other in simplicity to complexity of mounds, cairns, pyramids, tombs, and massive megalithic complexes.

The meaning behind the practice varies between cultures and time periods throughout history. Archaeologists however, are only interested in those that are at least 50 years old (historical archaeology in America), 100 years old (Europe and other parts of the world), or prehistoric (hundreds to thousands of years in age). They can be field clearing piles, fence piles, burial mounds, markers, signifiers, monuments, spiritual tools, graves, food stores, game drives, rock alignments, power quest markers, altars, shrines, prayer seats, hearths, circles, and/or memorials. Their uses can vary from remnants of field clearing for plowing, stabilizing fences, make walls, clearing or road construction, markers of a road trail or path, survey markers, memorial, burial, vision quest marker, or part of something bigger like a structure, burial, tomb, underground chamber, prayer seat, tipi ring, or offering to Gods, spirits, entities.

These commonly can be found along streams, creeks, lakes, springs, rivers, waterways, sea cliffs, beaches, in the desert, tundra, in uplands, on mountaintops, ridges, peaks, and hill tops. In underpopulated areas they can represent emergency location points. North American trail markers are often called ‘ducks’ or ‘duckies’ because they have a ‘beak’ that points in the direction of the route. Coastal cairns or ‘sea markers’ are common in the northern latitudes can indicate navigation marking and sometimes are notated on navigation charts. Sometimes these are painted and are visible from off shore. This is a common practice in Iceland, Greenland, Canada, and Scandinavia.

Cairns / stacked rocks (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3289).

Cairns / stacked rocks (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3289).

ROCK STACKS

Often the practice of stacking rocks is used to mark a trail, path, or road. Many say without these markings, it is often hard to follow a laid out trail, especially in areas that receive deep snowfall. When modern cairn builders place their ‘art’ or message of ego along a trail they can be causing harm, hiding the true trail markers and if placed in a wrong place can lead a hiker astray or get them lost. Original use is often as a route marker and it’s important to preserve that integrity. Modern application of this practice can not only lead people astray but disrupt cultural studies, archaeology, geology, and the environment. Moving stones can upset plant life, insect habitats, as well as homes of lizards, rats, mice, and other creatures.

Other times these rock stacks have spiritual or religious purpose. These are sometimes offerings to the little people, fairies, faeries, nature spirits, Saints, entities, or God/desses. Sometimes these are arranged for a vision quest, other times as a prayer seat, or part of a stone circle. Many times if found around rivers, streams, creeks, or springs ‘ they are offerings to the nature spirits, water spirits, nymphs, naiads, and/or dryads. Sometimes these are markers for portals, vortexes, gateways between worlds, lei lines, or places of spiritual importance. They honor spirits, Deities, Ancestors, or the Dead.

Sometimes these stacked rocks are considered ‘art’, a meditative exercise, or something someone does out of boredom.

Prince Cian making Cairns (http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=3289).

Prince Cian making Cairns

In spiritual ‘new age’ hotspots, modern creations of these ‘cairns’ or ‘rock stacks’ are actually quite problematic because they have become invasive upon the landscape, blocking access or movement. In addition, modern creations of them destroy, hide, or change importance of historical or prehistoric ones that existed before. This is a similar impact between modern graffiti and rock art. This has become a major problem in places like Sedona Arizona; Telluride, Colorado; Arches National Park, Utah.

Prehistoric use

Aborigines, Natives, Tribes, and Original Peoples have utilized cairns and rock stacks all over the world. Mostly the intent was as a ‘marker’. In the Americas, various tribes such as the Paiutes as well as early Pioneers left them to mark important trails or historic roads. The Inuksuk practice used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other Arctic aborigines in North America ranging from Alaska to Greenland to Iceland are markers for ‘way finding’ and to locate caches of food, supplies, and other goods.

Cairns and rock stacks have been used prehistorically for hunting, defense, burials, ceremonial structures, astronomical structures or markers.

Modern Stacking

Some say the practice began as a New Age spiritual movement with the Harmonic Convergence in 1987 within a global synchronized meditation event for peace, love, and spiritual unity. This fell on places of well known vortexes, spiritual hotspots, or sacred landscapes such as Sedona, Arizona. These have become ‘prayer stone stacks’. Even fundamental Christian religions and cults practice this to ‘claim ordinary moments of life for God and invite those who pass by to notice the holy ground on which they already stand’.

CAIRNS

Cairns are actually technically different than rock stacks. The term actually derives from Scots Gaelic c’rn / Middle Gaelic for ‘mounds of stones built as a memorial or landmark.’ In this application, many of these rock piles are actually burials, tombs, and/or graves. Sometimes they are just memorials and do not contain human remains.

EUROPE

Early in Eurasian history has been the construction of cairns. These ranged in size from small piles to massive hills or mountains made of neatly placed stones. This was very common in the Bronze Age with constructions of standing stones, dolmens, kistvaens, or tombs that often contained human remains. Larger structures sometimes made up earthworks, tumuli, kurgans, megaliths, and underground complexes. Those that were monuments would be added to by people honoring the deceased, common place in Gaelic culture Cuiridh mi clach air do ch’rn, “I’ll put a stone on your cairn”.

In Ancient Greece, Cairns were associated with Hermes, God of overland travel. The legend of which states that Hera placed Hermes on trial for slaying her favorite servant Argus. As the other Gods acted as jury to declare their vote would place pebbles and stones to throw at Hermes or Hera to whom they felt was right. Hermes was said to have been buried under a pile of stones and this was the world’s first cairn.

In Celtic belief, some of the stones represent spirits or faeries. Spirits of the night were often these stones.
Some popular large stone monuments and earthworks in Ireland are the Giant’s Grave or Binne’s Cairn in Curraghbinny Woods, Cork, Ireland ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=1823); Loughcrew Passage Tomb in County Meath Ireland ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=1601); Slieve Gullion in Northern Ireland ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=851); Poulnabrone Portal Tomb in County Clare Ireland ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=101); Knocknashee in Sligo Ireland ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=99); Newgrange Ireland ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=91); and the 9 Maidens Stone Circle in Cornwall, England ( http://www.technogypsie.com/science/?p=71) are homes to European styled cairns.

AMERICAS

Cairns were often used as ‘game drives’ to create lanes in which to guide the prey along a ridge, shelf, or over a cliff. This was popular in the use of buffalo jumps dating as early as 12000 years ago. Others were markers and directional guides. Some are shaped as petro forms shaping out animals, turtles, or other creatures. Some were shrines or offerings to other beings, spirits, or God/desses.

NORTHERN OREGON

Along the Columbia River near Mosier, Oregon exists a 30 acre complex of rock walls, pits, and cairns patterned in a talus and debris field at the foot of a 30 meter Columbia Gorge escarpment commonly called ‘Mosier Mounds’. These are associated with vision quests, burials, and game drives. Along this region, many of the talus and slide debris fields are used regularly for burials, food storage, vision quests, and youth training. These are remnants of Columbia Plateau traditions in forms of walls, troughs, cairns, pits, and trails.

SOUTHEASTERN OREGON

When Euro-Americans came in through the Klamath Basin, they noted the numerous cairns constructed by the indigenous (Henry L. Abbot 1855, William J. Clark 1885). Prior to contact, these cairns had several religious functions from power quests, vision quests, mortuary markers, or graves.

Many of the Cairns or rock stacks found in Southeastern Oregon is being studied by the Far Western Anthropological Research Group (FWARG) in Davis, California. Because of the surviving Klamath tribes have shared information about their use of cairns and rock stacks, much has been learned about their practices and implementation. Many of the cairns in SE Oregon range from small stacks to large cairns, some creating circular structures that are very conspicuous. Because of this, various Governmental agencies such as the BLM and US Forest Service have been making efforts to protect them from damage when making roads, logging, ranching, or other impacts made upon government lands. Some of the smaller rock stacks are not very noticeable, they may simply be only one or two stones stacked upon a boulder or bedrock. Some of these points towards spiritually significant locations such as Mount Shasta and others seem not to have any significance at all. During construction of the Ruby pipeline, a 42 inch natural gas pipeline beginning in Wyoming and running to Malin, Oregon brought to discussion between BLM, the Tribes, and personnel an agreement to develop better methods to identify, understand, protect, and preserve these stacks, mostly after the implementation of the Pipeline. This study was conducted by Far Western.

The Klamath and Modoc Tribes was known to have constructed numerous rock stacks to form petro forms ‘ the moving of rocks into a new formation to create man-made patterns or shapes on the ground by lining down or piling up stones, boulders, and large rocks. Some of these were cairns for vision quests and others formed semi-circular prayer seats. Interviews conducted with the tribes determined that these features contribute to the Klamath and Modoc worldviews and beginnings being an important part of their sacred landscape. Most of their important rocks stacks are found in higher elevations. There are two general forms: the stacked rock column constructed by placing one rock atop another in sequence to varying heights; and the conical cairn that possessing variable number of rocks forming the base built upon to create a conical or mound-like shape. Sometimes linear ‘S’ shaped or wall like rock features are commonplace as well. Prayer Seats are defined as a semi-circular, elliptical, or horseshoe shaped area built with stone and/or timber and arranged to a sufficient height to provide wind break. Many of these were natural features enhanced with rock stacking or lumber. Klamath tribes prohibit touching or photographing cairns, prayer seats, or any other sacred cultural site. Tribal governments permit sketches or illustrations many of the Klamath and/or Modoc are uncomfortable with such illustrations. Numerous studies conducted in 1997 provided recordings of dozens of rock cairns on Pelican Butte ‘ mountain overlooking Klamath Lake, and Bryant Mountain by Matt Goodwin (1997). There are numerous rock cairns in Lava Beds National Monument which is believed to be Modoc territory. The Modoc and Klamath tribes define themselves as residing in a junction of four cultural areas known as the (1) Plateau, (2) California, (3) Northwest Coast, and (4) the Great Basin. Within the Plateau, the tribes would hold the Plateau Vision Quest where they piled stones atop one another in order to obtain visions. This was also common within the Middle Columbia area and the Great Basin. Far View Butte has recorded over 245 rock cairns.

The Yahooskin Paiute also erected cairns for ritual purposes as did the Northern Paiute. Paiute shamans were known to have constructed cairns in the presence of rock art as another extension of their vision quests. The Shasta young boys and young men also stacked rocks reportedly when they sought out luck. Rock stacks and prayer seats are also recorded throughout Northwestern California including Yurok, Tolowa, and Karok territories. Within these territories are distinguished six different configurations commonly used in stacking rocks together forming a rock feature complex located in the high country of northwestern California. These being rock cairns, rock stacks, prayer seats, rock alignments, rock circles, and rock hearth rings. There are also several cairn sites in the Northwest coast culture area such as Gold Beach, Pistol River area, upper drainage of the Rogue River at the juncture of the Northwest coast, California, and Plateau culture areas. At the Ridgeland Meadows Site (35JA301) there are over 50 cairns constructed in conical fashion.

Rock cairns associated with petro glyphs are well known connectors to vision quests and power spots with various tribes, especially the Klamath and Modoc. The ‘house of the rising sun’ cave and pictoglyph site of the Klamath at an undisclosed location in Northern California is notably associated with a power quest that scholars studying the site have concluded corresponds with the ethnographically described house of the Klamath/Modoc culture hero ‘Gmok’am’c’ who is associated with the sun in myths recorded by Jeremiah Curtin and Don Hann (1998) concluding that the site’s association with the mythos makes it a portal to the supernatural section of the Modoc cosmos and therefore being a strong supernatural location for power quests.
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Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary

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Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary
* P.O. Box 1082 * Bloomington, IN * 47402-1082 * / * Needmore, Indiana * http://www.elvinhome.org/index.php *

I remember the first time hearing about Lothlorien … it was by a member of the Omneopoia band in Eugene, Oregon in the early 1990’s as a place I must go for the folk there were like me. I made it there in the late 1990’s as I attended Wild Magic and Elf Fest. I was in awe and completely impressed by how this Elvin community cooperatively live together and manage the Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary. The estate is a center for spiritual retreat as well as a land sanctuary green haven all centered around community and the Earth. It is owned and operated by Elvin H.O.M.E., Inc. – The Holy Order of Mother Earth. In its origins it was known as E.L.F. but changed names when confused with a radical eco-group under the same acronym. They possess federal 501(c)3 status as a non-profit spiritual and ecological entity (since 2008). Lothlorien consists of 109 acres of forest, hills, and valleys along the southern edge of Indiana’s limestone belt. Operated by volunteer labor by means of community, love, ecology, and faith – the center is open to anyone for visitation and attendance to festivals. It is also a nature based campground where sponsors and members can come camp and share in its growth, perpetuation, and regeneration. It was founded by the Elf Lore Family (ELF) in 1983 as a woodland meeting ground, survival education center, and a retreat for Elves. It has since evolved to a sanctuary for all earth-respecting faiths, religions, paths, and beliefs. Members, volunteers, ELF, and HOME all consider themselves Earth Stewards – coming to the land working it, shaping it, and transforming it. They hold several festivals every year, have community gardening, landscaping, lawn-care, path clearing, building of structures and shrines, and repairing those existing as their sacred duties. In addition to the garden, there are several self-composting permanent toilet teepees, a Long hall where meetings, gatherings, and feasts held, a loaning library, a kitchen, campgrounds, communal showers, stages, sacred circles, a thunder dome for drumming, altars, shrines, and temples. Camping season runs from March 21st until October 31st. Definitely a magical model I’d love to follow, create, or be a part of … if only it existed on the west coast! Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Lia Fil: The Stone of Destiny

Hill of Tara

Lia Fil

The Mythic Cycle: According to the 11th century text known as the Lebor Gabala (The Mythic Cycle) this is an enchanted stone of high magic. The mythical remnant of the Tuatha D Danann, one of the four magical treasures gifted to Ireland when the faerie people settled here as the story goes. Legend has it that the Tuatha D Danann were first instructed within the four cities of Falias, Gorias, Murias, and Findias in the “Northern Isles” of Druidry and magic. They traveled from these cities with a magical item from each city, these treasures are known as the four legendary treasures of Eire. This stone came from Falias. The other three treasures were the Sword of Victory (Claomh Solais), The Spear of Lugh (Sle Bua), and Dagda’s Cauldron (Coire Dagdae). “Lia Fil” means in Irish Gaelic “the Stone of Destiny”. It is sometimes confused with the Stone of Scone, of which the Blarney Stone is rumored to be made of. There are references at Blarney Castle suggesting the Stone of Scone and the Stone of Destiny are one of the same, though this is not accurate and is more modern Irish urban myth.

Hill of Tara

The Stone of Scone Myth: It is believed that the stone is that upon which Moses struck his staff when he parted the Red Sea for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt or alternatively part of Jacob’s Pillow where the prophet Jeremiah brought it to Ireland or the Stone of Ezel which was used by David when he hid from King Saul or the traveling altar stone of St. Columba. Whatever the origin, it is rumored to have been brought to Ireland during the Crusades. From there it was said to have become the Lia Fail atop Tara until Robert the Bruce took it to Blarney Castle and gifted to Cormac McCarthy the then King of Munster and incorporated into the Castle as the “Blarney Stone“. However, the Scottish stone of Scone is believed to have been kept in the Scone Abbey in Scone by Perth, Scotland until the British Monarchs captured it and held it at the Westminster Abbey. In 1950, four students stole the stone back for Scotland discovering that it had been broken for hundreds of years. The Stone of Scone was described to be an oblong block of red sandstone, nothing comparable to tales of the Irish Stone of Destiny nor the Blarney Stone. It is not one in the same. This myth came from Scottish chroniclers in the likes of Hector Boece and John of Fordun in the 13th century C.E. According to their accounts, the last King to be crowned at the stone was “Muirchertach mac Ercae” in 500 C.E. The tale goes that MacErc loaned the stone to his brother Fergus in Scotland for his coronation. Shortly after the coronation, Fergus, his crew, and their ship sunk off the coast of County Antrim stranding the Stone of Destiny in Scotland. However, there are other legends that state the stone originally came from Scotland.

The Stone is said to possess great powers – much akin to King Arthur’s Sword in the stone, as being when the right true leader of Ireland put his feet on the stone – the stone would roar in joy endowing said individual with a long reign. When the legendary leader-warrior Cchulainn approached the stone and it did not cry out, he struck the stone with his sword, splitting it, thereby preventing it from roaring ever again except for Brian Boru and Conn of the 100 Battles. This legend is similar to the Scottish “Stone of Scone” that was used for coronations for English, Scottish, and British Monarchs; the Stones of Mora where Swedish kings were elected; the Carantania Prince’s Stone where installation of princes and dukes took effect; King Arthur’s Sword in the stone; the Blarney Stone’s magical gift of gab; and the De Shl Chonairi Mir.

The Lia Fil is a standing stone atop the Inauguration Mound (an Forrad) on the Hill of Tara within County Meath. It was the place where kings and leaders went for their coronation as mythology dictates it is the stone that chooses s/he who will rule. All the Kings of Ireland until 500 C.E. were crowned here. It is also the stone that Ireland was named after, as it is said the “Tuatha D Danann” called Ireland originally “Inis Fil” leading to Eire being first called “Fl” meaning “Island” (Inis) of the King (a.k.a. enclosure, hedge, ruler) (Fl). Lia Fil was the Stone of Ireland, or carried from the term “Fianna Fil” as “Soldiers of Destiny” leading to the name “The Stone of Destiny.”

In more modern traditions, it is a common place for lovers to court and propose. It is the stone at which me and my wife visited on November 7, 2011 when the stone sung to me to propose to her – and I did – we wedded a few months later.

As the stone is not greatly monitored, some vandalism on occasion has taken wear to the monument such as in 2012 when some idiot damaged the stone in 11 places by a hammer.

McGowan, Leaf 1/26/2014 “Lia Fail: The Stone of Destiny”. Official web page: http://www.technogypsie.com/faerie/?p=1189. © 2014 – Technogypsie Productions: Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you enjoy this article, please treat the author to a drink or donate to keep this article preserved online.

Bibliography/Recommended Reading:


  • Campbell, Ewan 2003 “Royal Inauguration in Dl Riata and the Stone of Destiny.” Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
  • Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth 2004 “Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. 1100-1600”. Woodbridge.
  • Keating, Geoffrey 2010 “The History of Ireland”. Website referenced 1/26/14 at http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T100054.html.
  • Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia undated “Lia Fail”. Website referenced 1/26/14.

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The Rock Close of Blarney

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Rock Close

Rock Close
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * www.blarneycastle.ie *

A mystical portal in the heart of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle is Rock Close, a place where faeries dance, Witches’ bless and answer wishes, Druids weave magic, stone monuments made, and magic is alive. The Rock Close garden is not only a site of myths and legends, but of romance and art. A dolmen greets you as you walk along the river after walking through a weaved willow tunnel, with misty meadows, moss covered rocks, and waterfalls. As you walk up the Witches Wishing steps to the Witches Kitchen and where the Witch is trapped in the stone, overlooked by the Druid Cave and by the Druid Ceremonial circle where you can walk around where the faeries play. This is one of the most fun and condensed folklore heavy sites I’ve encountered in Ireland – of course its history is a mystery in of itself. It is also a great romantic getaway from the tourist heavy section of Blarney Castle. Prehistoric dwellings adapted by 10th, 13th, and 19th century adaptations lead a lot to the imagination in this garden. In 1824, Croften Croker wrote in his “Researches in the South of Ireland” about the mysteries of this spot.

    In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. Advantage has been taken of accidental circumstances to form tasteful and characteristic combinations; and it is really a matter of difficulty at first to determine what is primitive, and what the produce of design. The delusion is even heightened by the present total neglect. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the “Wishing Steps,” and you emerge sul margine d’un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moon-light revelry. ~ Croften Croker, 1824

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It was a highly popular in the early 19th century with antiquarians. The mysteries of the Blarney Witch, the Fairies, the Druids, and the Dolmen are sure to enchant you. Blarney Castle does document that this was a place for Druidic worship. The sacrificial altar of course is hearsay, the Druid’s circle is probably, the hermit’s cave or Druid’s cave is a mystery as is the Witches’ kitchen and wishing steps. It has been documented that in the late 1700’s C.E. (Common Era) that the Rock Close was made into the garden area upon which foundations are walked upon today. Apparently the castle owners landscaped around already existing prehistoric dwellings, stone monuments, and Druid circles to make the magical faerie glen it is today.

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Legend of the Blarney Stone

Legend of the Blarney Stone
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland * Phone: 00 353 21 4385252 * http://www.blarneycastle.ie/
One of Ireland’s most valuable and mesmerizing mythical collections is the infamous Blarney Stone. Called “Cloch na Blarnan” in Irish, it is the legendary stone for the gift of gab. “Blarney” means “Clever, Flattering, or coaxing talk”. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone that is built within the battlements of Blarney Castle, located approximately 8 kilometers from Cork, Ireland. It is believed that whoever kisses the stone is endowed with the gift of gab, great eloquence, or the skill at flattery. It allows the gifted to impart the ability to deceive without offending. Its not an easy task to kiss the stone, as one needs to be held upside down atop a drop of a tall tower to reach the kissing spot. The stone became part of the tower in 1446 and has become one of Ireland’s most notable tourist sites.

Where does the stone come from? There are many myths and legends surrounding the stone and its origins, the earliest of which involves the Goddess Clodhna. It is believed that the Castle’s builder, Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, was in a lawsuit and sought out Clodhna for her assistance. She told him to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and as he did, he gained eloquence and won the court case. Flabbergasted by this magical event he took the stone and added to the castle’s stones. The history of the land and place stretches back over two centuries before the current castle’s construction. There are remains of prehistoric sites and Druid ceremonial remains. No one knows for sure when the Blarney Stone came to the grounds, but it was believed to have arrived sometime around 1602 C.E. Many believe that it was a piece of the Stone of Scone. Others believe it to be the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Others believe it to be the stone that Jacob used as a pillow and was later brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. It is said that it then became the Lia Fail, or Fatal Stone and was used as an oracular throne of the Irish kings. Some say its the Stone of Ezel which David hid behind on Jonathan’s advice while fleeing King Saul and brought to Ireland during the Crusades. Others believe it to be the rock pillow used by St. Columba of Iona on his death bead or his portable altar he took with him while doing missionary work in Scotland. Some believe that the stone was first presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 to recognize his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. Lore dictates that the stone was previously in Ireland then taken to Scotland and brought back to Ireland in 1314. It is also said that during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Dermot McCarthy, had been required to surrender his fortress to the Queen as proof of his loyalty. He told her he would be delighted to do so, but something always happened at the last moment to prevent his surrender such as throwing a dinner party or event for the officers charged in the takeover. Many believe this was the charm of the Blarney Stone in effect. The Queen replied to this as “Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!”

Kissing the Stone has been performed by literally ‘millions of people’ in the world, including world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen. Kissing the stone is kissing all of these people by proxy, and by the magical law of contact – gaining the gift of gab that all these people possess. Its not an easy kiss and its important for the lips to touch the bluestone. This quest involves ascending to the castle’s peak, leaning over backwards on the parapet’s edge, entrusting a stranger (Castle guard) with your life by holding on to you. Today, safety wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars help prevent death or serious injury. Prior to these installations, the kisser was in danger of serious life risk as they were grasped by their ankles and dangled from the plummet. According to the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatization in “The Adventure of the Blarney Stone” (March 18, 1946) reported a man attempting the kiss plummeting to his death – but determined to be a murder as his boots had been greased before the attempt. The cautious and germ phoebic consider the Blarney Stone to be the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world, as ranked as such by Tripadvisor.com in 2009. It is documented that more than 300,000 visitors come to kiss the stone every year. When I attended in 2010, I watched the guards use antiseptic wipes after every kiss and had hand sanitizer on the spot. Urban legends are amiss that claim locals go up to the Blarney stone at night and piss on it. Of course, anyone who has ever been to the Blarney stone, knowing the tight and tiny ascension up the treacherous tower (that is locked after hours and guarded) that even with breaching security and risking royal criminal punishment, would have to be damn good aim to hit the Blarney stone. Much of the urban legend comes from the incident in the film “Fight Club” where the narrator urinates on the Blarney Stone during his visit to Ireland as his first act of vandalism.

    ‘Tis there’s the stone that whoever kisses
    He never misses to grow eloquent;
    ‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber, Or become a member of Parliament.
    “A noble spouter he’ll sure turn out, or An out and outer to be let alone;
    Don’t try to hinder him, or to bewilder him, For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone.”

In 1825 Sir Walter Scott came to kiss the blarney stone. Father Prout in 1837 spread word of the wonders of the Blarney Stone making it even more of an attraction amongst the nobility and curious. In 1883 the future President William H. Taft of the United States came to kiss the Blarney Stone. By 1887 the new railway into Blarney afforded many travelers the opportunity to kiss the stone, including boxing legend John L Sullivan, at that time the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. In 1912 Winston Churchill came to kiss the stone. In 1984 Ronald Reagan claimed to have kissed the stone.

Many nation’s around the world have attempted to obtain the Blarney Stone. There are quite a few imposters out and about. The one and true stone is in the Blarney Castle.In 1893 during the World’s Fair in Chicago the Blarney Castle and stone was mimicked with the promoters billing that it was the real stone people were kissing, this of course was false. According to a tradition at Texas Tech University, a stone fragment on display since 1939 outside the old Electrical Engineering Building claims to be a missing piece of the Blarney Stone. In 1938 American businessmen offered the Colthurst family a million dollars to allow the stone to go on tour in the U.S. but the offer was rejected.

The Blarney Stone is just the “icing of the cake” when it comes to the magic and myths of Blarney Castle. Even the grounds in its gardens have their attractions and history, as small caves and structures in the Rock Close garden may have neolithic habitation possibilities, and potentially the home to a mythical witch that was trapped in a rock. The Blarney Witch is said to have servitude to the Castle to grant wishes for those walking up and down the Wishing Steps backwards with their eyes closed focusing on only their wish. The Close also has a Dolmen, Fairy Circle, as well as a Druid’s cave and ceremonial circle. The Martin River that runs through the estate is believed to be possessed by ghosts of salmons leaping for ghosts of flies. Enchanted cows walk from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the castle. There is also a glade where Faeries are believed to be at play.

One can kiss the stone from Monday thru Saturday, 9 am to 6:30 pm in September and May, 9 am to 7 pm from June through August, and 9 am to sundown from October to April. On Sundays, kissing can commence from 9 am to 5:30 pm during the summer, and 9 am to sundown during the winter.

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The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Based in the town of “Sleepy Hollow”, New York formerly known as “North Tarrytown” experiencing the name change to honor this story in 1996. The tale is not documented as an actual legend, but rather a tale by the American author Washington Irving while he was traveling abroad in Birmingham, England. He was a resident of North Tarrytown, New York and used the area as a setting for his short story. Irving included it in a collection of short stories and essays he wrote in 1820 called the “Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a classic example of American fiction, alongside his masterpiece “Rip Van Winkle” which made Washington Irving become a legend in the literary world. As of an “actual” headless horsemen, there exists no evidence of a prior legend or reporting in the means of how Washington Irving told the tale, though there does exist a headless corpse buried in a unmarked grave in the Old Dutch Burying Ground (Sleepy Hollow Cemetery) that matches the “Headless Horseman’s” lack of a head and being a Hessian soldier. (The Full legend and short story can be read here: http://www.sleepyhollowcemetery.org/sleepy-hollow-country/the-legend/. )

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The story details Sleepy Hollow and its inhabitants living there in 1790 around the historical Tarrytown as it existed in that day. The area was inhabited by all Dutch settler descendants who moved to this sleepy little glen called “Sleepy Hollow” by Irving’s story which was already basked in myths and legends making it a dreamy and drowsy place even before this tale came to be. Full of ghost stories and the paranormal, Sleepy Hollow was the perfect place for the existence of the spirit of a Headless Horseman. He was seen by some as the most popular curse upon the village, as he was apparently a ghost of a angry Hessian trooper who lost his head by a stray cannonball during the American Revolution and “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head” eager to victimize those of ego and arrogance. The tale involves the local superstitious ego-centric school master named Ichabod Crane who was after the hand in marriage of 18 year old farmer’s daughter Katrina Van Tassel. He was in competition for the proposal with the town mischief maker named Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt. Crane was after the farmer’s wealth, Van Tassel estate, and saw marriage to Katrina as a way to obtain that status. “Brom Bones” however, also interested in Katrina, was interested in her for love. In his fight for the bride, he tries to mishap and veer Ichabod away from Katrina by performing numerous pranks on Crane, based around Crane’s paranoia and superstitions. Tensions become high, and during the annual Van Tassel harvest party, Crane is told ghostly legends of the area by Brom Bones and the locals. Crane is made so jumpy and nervous on that night that his intended proposal to Katrina was interrupted. He rides home “heavy-hearten and crest fallen” through the ghostly woods that the locals and Brom Bones told the tales of … edgy and spooked traveling from the Van Tassel farm to the Sleepy Hollow settlement. He passes by the tulip tree that had been struck by lightning and was reputedly haunted by Major Andr, the British spy. Instead of seeing that specter, he sees a cloaked rider at an intersection to the menacing swamp. This cloaked rider approaches him and rides alongside Crane. The man, large stature and size, appears to Crane not to have a head on his shoulders, but rather a decapitated cranium sitting on his saddle. Crane becomes spooked and races off to the bridge next to the Old Dutch cemetery. Upon reaching the bridge, the Headless Horseman vanished “in a flash of fire and brimstone” upon crossing the bridge. Ichabod crosses the bridge, but not before the specter re-appears on the bridge and hurls his head into Crane’s face. The next day, Ichabod could not be found except for his wandering horse, trampled saddle, discarded hat, and a mysterious shattered pumpkin. With Ichabod Crane nowhere in sight, the match with “Brom Bones” for Katrina’s hand in marriage was forfeited. Brom and Katrina married. Suspicion amongst the villagers bounced between believing the legend and “Brom Bones” being the villain who had the stature and size of the Headless Horseman. Many believe it was Brom in disguise, playing on Ichabod’s fears, and as a prank used to scare off Crane. However the Old Wives tales prevailed, stating that Crane indeed was “spirited away by supernatural means” and thereby increasing stories (mainly fabricated) of numerous sightings of the Headless Horseman to this very day.

Folklorists compare the American short story to the German folktale of “the Wild Huntsman” when a phantom races through the woods atop a horse scaring trespassers out of the forest. This tale most probably was the one that inspired Irving during this travels through Germany to concoct the tale of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

The German folklorist Karl Musus states that the Headless horsemen was a staple of Northern European storytelling especially in Germany (“The Wild Huntsman”), Ireland (“Dullahan”), Scandinavia (“the Wild Hunt”), and English legends. These “headless” horsemen would race through the countryside with their decapitated heads tucked under their arms, often followed by hordes of coal-black hounds with fiery tongues (demon dogs). Folklore would talk of these as being omens of ill-fortune for those who chose to disregard their apparitions. These ghosts would mainly focus on individuals who had egos and arrogance, were overly proud, and/or scheming persons with misguided intentions such as the likes of Ichabod Crane. There are other folk tales and poems of a supernatural wild chase including Robert Burns’ 1790 “Tam o’ Shanter” and Brger’s Der wilde Jger, translated as the 1796 “The Wild Huntsman”.

The legend of Sleepy Hollow is classified as a fictional tale. It was set on a local bridge in Sleepy Hollow that crossed the Pocantico River into the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Irving most likely incorporated local residents as characters in the tale, whereas Katrina’s character has been matched by folklorists to local resident Elanor Van Tassel Brush. However, there is ample evidence to make it an actual legend based on place names, characters, and history leading to the fabricated tale by Washington Irving. There was a farm owned by Cornelius and Elizabeth Van Tassel that was raided by English and Hessian soldiers in November 1777. They tried to fight off the invaders which led to their farmhouse being burnt down and their family being held hostage. While they watched in horror as their farmhouse was burning, Elizabeth could not find their baby Leah anywhere, and upon trying to run into the flames to search for her baby, was interrupted by a Hessian soldier who led her to a shed where Leah was safely wrapped up in a blanket safe and sound. The family was so grateful to this soldier for the safety of their baby. After the event, when a Hessian soldier was found in Tarrytown (around the area now called Sleepy Hollow) dead missing his head, they gave him a proper Christian burial and buried him in the Old Dutch Burial Ground (now Sleepy Hollow Cemetery) in case he was the soldier who saved their baby.

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Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow was one of the historical sites where many battles and events of the American Revolutionary War took place, and was a great backdrop for this invented myth as many matching actual reports of hauntings and ghostly sightings that pervade the area. After these battles were done, a 30 mile stretch of scorched desolated lands were left to outlaws, raiders, and the corpses of the dead. One of those corpses was indeed a headless corpse of a Hessian soldier nicknamed Mr. Jger found in Sleepy Hollow after a violent skirmish took place there. He corpse was buried by the Van Tassel family in a unmarked grave at the Old Dutch Burying Ground. While Washington Irving served New York Governor Daniel D. Tompkins, he had met an army captain named Ichabod Crane during an inspection tour of the fortifications in 1814. This meeting took place in Sackets Harbor, New York and not Sleepy Hollow. This meeting most likely inspired him to name the character as the schoolmaster for the name, and the schoolmaster image as Jesse Merwin, a local teacher in Kinderhook, New York he also inspired Irving.

This short story has been one the most well studied and examined of tales of its time and of Washington Irving’s works. Numerous re-tellings and re-writings have come about through the ages. Numerous plays, films, and television shows were done to memorialize the legend such as Edward Venturini’s silent 1922 silent film “The Headless Horseman” playing Will Rogers as Ichabod Crane; 1948 Broadway Musical “Sleepy Hollow”; Walt Disney’s “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” in 1949; Disney’s 1958 “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; the 1980 Henning Schellerup “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” television classic; 1988 PBS adaption; The one-act stage adaptation by Kathryn Schultz Miller in 1989 called “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; Nickelodeon’s 1992 “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” episode “The Tale of the Midnight Ride”; Rocko’s Modern Life “Sugar-Frosted Frights” parodie; Canadian television’s 1999 “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; The 1999 Speaker and Orchestra 15-minute composition by Robert Lichtenberger called “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; and the most famous 1999 Tim Burton’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Casper Van Dien, and Christopher Walken. The Legend continued through film and audio tellings with the 1999 computer animated classic “The Night of the Headless Horseman” by Fox; Porchlight Entertainments 2002 “The Haunted Pumpkin of Sleepy Hollow”; Steven J. Smith, Jr.’s 2004 “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in Concert”; the television movie by ABC Family Channel in 2004 called “The Hollow”; 2004 “Charmed” episode of “The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell”; PBS “Wishbone” series “Halloween Hound: The Legend of Creepy Collars”; The 2009 Opera “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Robert Milne; William Withem and Melanie Helton’s 2009 Legend of Sleepy Hollow Opera; the Jim Christian and Tom Edward Clark 2009 Musical “Sleepy Hollow”; The 2011 Hunter Foster book and play called “The Hollow”; Darkstuff Productions 2012 adapted Legend of Sleepy Hollow; and in 2013 a Fox TV series pilot called “Sleepy Hollow” is in production as a modern tale.

North Tarrytown in 1996 changed their name to “Sleepy Hollow” as a memorial to Washington Irving, and its local high school team are called “The Horsemen”, by 2006 a large statue of the Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod Crane was erected, and since 1996 at the Philipsburg Manor holds a Legend Weekend where the story is retold and played out just before Halloween.

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