Category Archives: Catholicism

Miramont Castle (Manitou Springs)

Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); 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.
Miramont Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421)

Miramont Castle
~ 9 Capitol Hill Avenue Manitou Springs Colorado 80829 USA – miramontcastle@yahoo.com – http://www.miramontcastle.org/ ~

An oddity overlooking the village of Manitou Springs, Miramont castle is a manor house, museum, and tea room that was originally built in 1895. It was the private manor house for french born Catholic priest Father Jean Baptist Francolon. He later donated his home to the Sisters of Mercy for use as a sanitarium for those seeking healing from the magical waters of Manitou’s springs. The Sisters of Mercy set up the sanitarium in 1895 as a house to heal tuberculosis. They expanded the building in 1896 to take care of additional patients. The sisters were known for their motherly care, cleanliness, and excellence. They not only cared for patients, but contributed to the town’s culture, offering piano, violin, mandolin, guitar, and banjo lessons for the towns folk. The castle fell vacant from 1900 to 1904. The Sisters were urged by Dr. Geierman to purchase the castle for use with workings and healings achieved by German priest Sebatian Kneipp who initiated a water therapy system involving drinking prodigious quantities of Manitou’s healing waters as well as bathing in them several times a day. The Castle experienced a devastating fire in 1907 caused by an electrical fire, destroying part of the Montcalme sanitarium. Patients were relocated to the Castle for the next 20 years. In 1928 the Castle and sanitarium experienced financial difficulties so the sanitarium was converted to a boarding house for the wealthy and tourists, retreat for clergy, and eventually closed. It remained empty until privately purchased in 1946. The castle has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and has achieved national landmark status. Built by Father Jean Baptiste Francolon in 1895 with an eclectic style blending various architectural styles from Byzantine to Tudor styles. It today stands as a great example of Victorian Era design. The museum is fully accessible for tours and events. There is a climbing staircase as well as two chairlifts within. The castle is rumored to be haunted with numerous ghosts and poltergeists. Visitors can view all 42 furnished rooms, the gardens, and the tea room. Rated 5 stars out of 5

Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); 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.
Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); 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.

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Gougane Barra

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Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

Gougane Barra (Gugán Barra)
* Macroom, County Cork, Ireland *
Article by Thomas Baurley, Archaeologist – Technogypsie Productions www.technogypsie.com © 2013 – all rights reserved.

Gougane Barra is a enlightening niche of history nestled in the woods within a lake along Ireland’s southwestern countryside. Gougane Barra means “The Rock of Barra.” Barra refers to Saint Finbarr, the patron Saint of Cork. My first visit was at night which was magically radiant. I look forward to the opportunity to visit the site during the day. This is the home of the hallowed shrine of Saint Finbarr and his oratory. The church resides on a small island in the lake. Next to the church are the historic ruins of St. Finbarr’s monastery and contains ancient prayer cells with remarkably ancient stations of the cross. The original monastery dates to the 6th century C.E. (common era) The original monastery can no longer be found. Behind the chapel are ruins that some purport to be the original monastery, but they were built in the 17th century. They consist of four stone walls surrounding a large wooden cross dotted with a series of prayer cells within which have crosses inscribed. These cells were built in 1700 by Reverend Denis O’Mahony who retired here dedicated to God. During Cromwell’s torment of Ireland, the possession of this land fell out of the O’Leary families hands and fell into ruin. It then passed to the Townsend family and used for farmland. This is the location by Christian myth that Saint Finbarr came to and communed with God, seeing the surrounding mountains as his personal cloister, and the lake mirroring God’s grandeur. It is here he built stone cells to commemorate his hermitage and commune with Deity. It has ever since been a backdrop for art, painting, photography, poetry, and spirituality. From here Saint Finbarr traveled along the Lee River to become the first Bishop and founder of Cork and its church. Saint Finbarr passed away at Cloyne in 633 C.E. His feast day is celebrated in his honor on September 25th. On site is also a Holy Well and Wishing Tree.

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Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

The church (also called the oratory) is of modern construct and design with infamous stained glass windows. Here pilgrims visit frequently, especially on September 25th, the feast day of Saint Finbarr. During Ireland’s Penal history, pilgrims came to Gougane Barra for Mass and is why there are numerous mass rounds in the area.
When we eloped in South Carolina we had plans of coming back to this church to get married at officially for our family and friends as it was always a dream wedding location for my wife. Alas though, an unexpected wee one changed our plans for that. It is however one of the most famous locations in Cork County to get married at

The Gougane Barra Lake formed in a rock basin that was carved out during the ice age with depths upward of 12 meters. The surrounding hills are made of old red sandstone. The park today is approximately 142 hectares in size. It was virtually without trees until 1938 when it was re-forested with Sitka Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, and Japanese Larch. The area now stands forested. The forested and bog areas are abundant with purple moor grass, bog mosses, cotton grasses, sedges, rushes, fox’s cabbage, butterworths, lichens, and sundews. The area is home to the otter, badgers, brown rat, fox, rabbit, field mice, pigmy shrew, pine marten, coal tit, wren, robins, wood pigeons, blackbirds, chiffchaff, willow warbler, pied wagtail, gray wagtail, dock dove, cuckoo, thrush, starlings, red buntings, cormorants, herons, moorhens, and swan.

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Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

Alot of legends surround Saint Finbarr, Gougane Barra, and its lake. It was here in the lake that Saint Finbarr chased off Lú, Gougane Barra Dragon. A dragon or a sea monster like Nessie, the legends vary in their descriptions. The creature’s expulsion is believed to be the source of the large channel that is now the River Lee flowing west to the sea at Cork City. A little sea monster is memorialized in the hedge along the isle’s road. Saint Finbarr was also believed to have been led by an angel from the source of the river Lee at his monastic site to its marshy mouth where he built a monastery “out of which grew the Sea and the City of Cork”. By placing the monastery here it made the River Lee to be the symbol of Cork City and Cork County. Legends tell of him going to Rome on a Pilgrimage and upon his return met Saint David who lent him a horse that miraculously helped him cross the channel. He was aided by Saint Brendan who signaled him in navigation during his voyage east. Some say Pope Gregory was going to make Saint Finbarr pope but didn’t because he was deterred by a vision. When Finbarr returned to Ireland, God created a miraculous flow of oil from the ground, sending him up into heaven and consecrating him as a Bishop. It was also told that he was visited by Saint Laserian and two monks who sat with him under a hazel talking about religion. They asked him for a sign that God was with him, in reply of which, Saint Finbarr prayed and the spring catkins on the bush above them fell off, grew into nuts, ripened, and poured them into their laps. The day he died and his body was moved to Cloyne, the sun failed to shine for a fortnight.

The fairy tale of Morty Sullivan and the Black Steed takes place near here where he was thrown off a cliff by a Pooka. Some believe because of legends such as these, inspire other drunken pilgrims to come t the site in the dark leading to disruption, vandalism, injury, and death. According to Thomas Crofton Croker in his book “Fairy legends and traditions of the south of Ireland” that “in deed this fact was so notorious that the Catholic clergy in the south of Ireland publicly forbade the customary pilgrimage on the 24th of June to the Lake of Gougane Barra as it presented an annual scene of drunkenness, riot, and debauchery too shocking for description.

How to get here: Located 5 kilometers west of Ballingeary on the R584 roadway to Bantry just at the Pass of Keimaneigh. Follow posted signs.

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Tobar Eoin Óg: St. John’s Well, Carrigaline – County Cork, Ireland

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

Tobar Eoin Óg: St. John’s Well (Formerly St. Renogue’s Well)
Carrigaline, Co. Cork, Ireland
Official article: http://www.naiads.org/well/?p=377, archive article: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=14325
Written by Thomas Baurley, Archaeologist – Technogypsie Research (c) 2013; http://www.technogypsie.com

Nestled into the woods between housing estates is a beehive shaped rock cairn covering a historical holy well that today is known as “St. John’s Well” or “Toberabbog”. Since Cork County has a few “St. John’s” Wells, it should be annotated as “St. John’s Well Carrigaline”. It is also called “Tobar Eoin Óg” or “St. Renogue’s” Well, an earlier dedication before St. John took over the well’s magic. The 1840 Ordinance Survey Map records the map as Saint Rinoge’s or Renogue’s Well. It is located to the northwest of Carrigaline, along a residential road and two-track between Ballinrea Road and Ballea Road (R613) and is surrounded by the Dun Eoin residential estates. Even though the well is watched over by parishioners and the local parish, many kids and trouble-makers vandalize and hang out at the site doing controversial activities.

The well is encased and protected by a bee-hive shaped stone structure that resembles a cairn with a small hole from which the water flows. Atop the cairn is a cross in disrepair with scratch etchings of crosses by pilgrims inscribed on the exterior walls. This mineral spring is for the healing of eyes and debilities. Next to the well is a large tree that is surrounded by a low circular wall upon which is a stone plaque that tells a short history of the site. Around the site are a number of benches and steps made of railroad ties. Opposite the well is a small stone altar upon which the name of the well is carved. According to local legend, the well was discovered by a blind man who upon visiting the well, had his sight restored. He was so ecstatic about this miracle, he built the corbelled stone beehive over the well to protect and honor it.

Christian/Catholic observations today at the well are celebrated here on St. John’s Eve which falls on the 23rd of June every year. This is the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. While earlier and older Pagan rites may have been held here celebrating the Summer solstice in similar practices, this well does not appear to be revered by Pagans much anymore. The Christian celebrations have been in practice since the early 19th century C.E. (common era) and consists of a gathering at the well that number in the hundreds of locals coming together to conduct prayers, hymns, and rites at this particular site. St. John’s Eve is derived of both Pagan and Celtic customs mixed with Catholic devotionals to the saints. Originally began by lighting a bonfire with attendees going to sites where Saint John is venerated. In modern day practice, the devotions at this well is organized by a small group of parishioners and Catholic parish clergy. The priest brings in the rosary and circles the well while someone scratch inscribes the cross on the stones of the beehive cairn with each mark representing a decade of the rosary. While the focus is on the clergy, a number of people individually circle the well as well and mark the crosses while praying. The Eucharist is then displayed and venerated during which the Parish choir and the Carrigaline Pipe Band accompany with music. A formal service is performed after which participants go to the well to drink of the waters, bless themselves, and collect some water to take with them for healing activities at home for themselves and loved ones. Some gather water from the flow out of the well while others will crawl on their hands and knees going into the well to get their water. To many, it is very essential to collect the water and touch it at is exact point of its source where it is the purest. To embrace the magic of the waters, it is custom for the pilgrims to say a decade of the rosary at each of the inscribed crosses found in the walls of the well stones for the miracles to be delivered.

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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Pilgrim cross scratches / etchings

Catholic pilgrims to sacred monastic sites usually involving rounds, turas, or stations in southern Ireland have incorporated a practice of scratching / etching celtic and long-bodied crosses into stones at sacred positions on the sites. These are done with pebbles or small scratching stones. Good examples of this practice can be found at Tobar Eoin Óg: St. John’s Well, Carrigaline – County Cork, Ireland and Tobar Ghobnatan cross etchings.

Christian/Catholic observations today at the St. John’s well in Carrigaline are celebrated here on St. John’s Eve which falls on the 23rd of June every year. This is the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. While earlier and older Pagan rites may have been held here celebrating the Summer solstice in similar practices, this well does not appear to be revered by Pagans much anymore. The Christian celebrations have been in practice since the early 19th century C.E. (common era) and consists of a gathering at the well that number in the hundreds of locals coming together to conduct prayers, hymns, and rites at this particular site. St. John’s Eve is derived of both Pagan and Celtic customs mixed with Catholic devotionals to the saints. Originally began by lighting a bonfire with attendees going to sites where Saint John is venerated. In modern day practice, the devotions at this well is organized by a small group of parishioners and Catholic parish clergy. The priest brings in the rosary and circles the well while someone scratch inscribes the cross on the stones of the beehive cairn with each mark representing a decade of the rosary. While the focus is on the clergy, a number of people individually circle the well as well and mark the crosses while praying. The Eucharist is then displayed and venerated during which the Parish choir and the Carrigaline Pipe Band accompany with music. A formal service is performed after which participants go to the well to drink of the waters, bless themselves, and collect some water to take with them for healing activities at home for themselves and loved ones. Some gather water from the flow out of the well while others will crawl on their hands and knees going into the well to get their water. To many, it is very essential to collect the water and touch it at is exact point of its source where it is the purest. To embrace the magic of the waters, it is custom for the pilgrims to say a decade of the rosary at each of the inscribed crosses found in the walls of the well stones for the miracles to be delivered.

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Saint Ghobnatan (St. Gobnata) of Ballyvourney

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Saint Gobnait (ca. 5th – 6th century C.E.)
Other names: Saint Ghobnatan, Mo Gobnat, Abigail, Gobnata, Gobnaid, Ghobhnet, Deborah, and Saint Gobnat.

Counterpart: She is associated with Father St. Abbán moccu Corbmaic who she trained under. Some of his sites, monuments, and shrines have been shared with her or taken over by her. Some claim she is similarly named with the Tuatha de Danann’s Smith, a Faerie or Deity called Goibnui.

Matron/Patron Saint of: Bees, bee keepers, iron workers, Protection, Healing, and the village of Ballyvourney.

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History:
Her name is derived from “Gobba” and ‘Gabha’ which means “Smith”. There is evidence that her monastic site may have been a metalworking site first before its Christian use. Mythology suggests that Goibnui, the Smith of the Tuatha Dé Danann that might be whom St. Gobnait replaced. Due to excavations at her house finding iron working tools and slag, she became associated with the art of metal smithing, iron working, and metal works. In addition to iron, she was associated with bees. She most likely used honey a lot in her healing practices utilizing the health and medicinal properties of it which led people to believe she was in control of bees. She has also been called “Deborah”, the anglicized version of her name that means “Honey Bee”. St. Gobnait, who, it is said, was descended from O’Connor the Great, Monarch of Ireland. Saint Ghobnatan was the matron Saint of the Irish village of Ballyvourney (Baile Bhuirne). She was born in County Clare, Ireland during the 5th (or 6th) century of the Common Era (C.E./A.D.). Folklore suggests that she left Clare when chased by enemies and sought refuge at Inisheer in the Aran Islands. She studied under Saint Enda there and because of this, the Kilgobnet Church on Inis Oirr (Inisheer) is dedicated to her. While primarily seen as the Matron/Patron saint of Ballyvourney, she is held in high tribute and honor throughout southern Ireland as well as Scotland. She was declared a Saint as she was infamous for her ability to heal and for her miraculous protection of Ballyvourney. She was reputed to have passed away from physical body on February 11th, and is thereby celebrated every February 11th as a feast day for her contributions to the world. The year of her death is unknown, but believed to have taken place during the 6th century C.E. Several churches were dedicated to her and tribute can be found in Inis Oírr (Aran Islands), Dún Chaoin in West Kerry, and Waterford. What little is known about her comes from the writings on the life of St. Abbán moccu Corbmaic, her senior companion and Priest which was published in the early 13th century C.E. The dedication to her is not without controversy as writings about Saint Finbarr’s Life suggests that St. Ghobnatan’s church belonged to Finbarr’s foundation in Cork and states it was founded by one of his disciples.

    “Mo Gobnat from Muscraige Mitaine, i.e. a sharp-beaked nun,

    Ernaide is the name of the place in which she is.

    Or Gobnat of Bairnech in Món Mór in the south of Ireland,

    and of the race of Conaire she is; a virgin of Conaire’s race”

    –Note to the Félire Óengusso, tr. Whitley Stokes, p. 73

Lore and Legends:
While she was on the Islands, an angel appeared telling her to keep walking until the day she finds 9 white deer. It was in County Cork, at Clondrohid where she found three deer and followed them. They led her to Ballymakeera where she found 6 white deer. She continued on her path and came across nine white deer grazing in the woods at Ballyvourney. It was there at Ballyvourney that Father Saint Abbán moccu Corbmaic of Kilabban, County Laois installed her as an abbess and given land to create a women’s monastery. It is in the village of Ballyvourney that her church Móin Mór (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built. It was told and known locally that one of the reasons Gobnait received Sainthood was that she saved the village of Ballyvourney from being infected by the plague. She did this by drawing a line in the sand with a stick and declared the village to be consecrated grounds’. The Celts saw bees or butterflies as the vessel in which the soul leaves the body. She was skilled at commanding bees and sent them to attack a invading chieftain and his army who was destroying crops and driving off cattle in Ballyvourney. When invaders tried to take Ballyvourney, build forts, or erect shrines without her permission, she would command bees to attack them. One legend tells of soldiers coming to Ballyvourney to steal livestock after which she swarmed them with bees making them run off leaving the livestock behind. Another version tells of a band of robbers stealing cattle after which her bees attacked them, they returned the cattle to her. These tales are believed to have influenced artisan Harry Clarke from creating the stain glass window in the Honan Chapel located at the University College Cork. It was here at Tobar Ghobnatan that the fairy tale of Morty Sullivan and the Black Steed takes place nearby as the location where he sought to atone for his sins at St. Gobnait’s shrine.

Historical/Archaeological Evidence:
Excavation of her monastic site in Ballyvourney during the 1950’s revealed iron slag, a crucible, and metal working tools/artifacts in the discoveries. It was determined her hut was used in the smithing of metal. She gained an attribute of iron working from these results. This led to rumor and lore about her being associated by the similarly named Faerie / Deity Smith for the Tuatha de Danann called Goibnui. This is because of the (a) metal working / smithing / smelting artifacts found at her home, (b) roots in her name, (c) her being a patron saint for iron working, and (d) earlier evidence of the location being a Pagan shrine and/or site. Since there is no other evidence, most likely it is simply a hypothesis or conclusion derived in an internet blog online. The round circular stone hut north of the statue is the “House of St. Gobnait” or the “St. Ghobnatan’s Kitchen”. During construction of the statue, a container that is used with the production of metalworking or glass works was found there along with post holes found during the archaeological excavation of the site. It is believed the hut was a later addition and that the site’s original first use was for iron working. It is also around this time that the well in front of the hut was believed to have been dug (called St. Gobnait’s Well). St. Gobnait’s Holy Well, of which there are two on site, was revered as a site of healing waters and magic from their early beginnings to this very date. She is also associated with the Múscraige where her church and nunnery are located, bordering Múscraige Mittine and Eóganacht Locha Léin.

Monuments:
A huge statue of her resides at Tobar Ghobnatan monastic site that was erected in the 1950’s CE. Here she is depicted wearing a nun’s habit and stands calmly atop a beehive surrounded by bees. The Honan Chapel’s stained glass work of her located at the University College Cork depicts her adorned in blue robes surrounded by bees with two terrified men at her feet.

Relics and Artifacts:

  • The figurine of St. Gobnait – Within the parish church of Ballyvourney is a 13th century relic of a Saint Gobnait figurine made of wood. She is brought out every February 11th during her feast day by the parish priest and brought before the parishioners and pilgrims given the opportunity to approach it with a piece of ribbon. The parishioner or pilgrim holds the ribbon up to the figurine to measure against her length and around her circumference that is then taken home to be used for healing and other prayers required.

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Article by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions and Research Services: Technogypsie.com. © 2013: All rights reserved.

Article on the Church, Shrine, Graveyard, and Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=14339. Article on the Holy Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=7591. Article on the Tobar Ghobnatan Wishing Trees, Saint Ghobnatan, and Tobar Ghobnatan cross etchings.

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Tobar Ghobnatan Cross Etchings

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Tobar Ghobnatan Cross Etchings
* Tobar Ghobnatan * Ballyvourney (a.k.a. Baile Bhuirne), County Cork, Ireland *

An interesting custom I came across while visiting the Tobar Ghobnatan monastic site were these scratchings in the rocks of sacred sites of a Celtic Cross. They were done hundreds of times atop each other. Actually, the first time I saw this was at St. John’s Well in County Cork. I thought it was an anomoly, but that changed at Tobar Ghobnatan. Tobar Ghobnatan has an unlimited number of examples of this practice. This practice seems to have Pagan roots, but definitely absorbed by Catholicism in practice within County Cork, especially at the Stations while doing rounds or turas.

Throughout the Stations at Tobar Ghobnatan one can see that modern pilgrims have attended the stations and marked the stones around the shrine with Celtic crosses (equal armed crosses) with a stone by scratching the symbol over and over into the stone as part of their prayers. You first see this at the site when you enter the main entrance to the statue, hut, and well – the two gateway stones are marked by crosses, as are the modern cylinder shaped pillars found within the hut and church. This practice can be see at St. John’s Well outside of Cork, St. Declan’s Well at Ardmore, and many other sites around southern Ireland. The practice can be dated as early as the medieval period continuing to present day. It is unknown of how early the scratching of the cross began. Often small pebbles and rocks are left atop the stones so other pilgrims will continue the repetition and practice, each etching the sign of the cross as they say their prayers at the station shrine.

The etching in stone found at Tobar Ghobnatan are considered to be dedicated to the Matron Saint of Ballyvourney and sacred Bee-Keeping mistress, Saint Ghobnatan holy pilgrimage site and monastic settlement known as “Tobar Ghobnatan”. This is the legendary home of St. Gobnait/Ghobnatan. It is located a kilometer south of the village of Ballyvourney where her church Móin Mór (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built.

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Her purported grave can be found in the church yard opposite the hut. This is marked Stations 3 and 4 on the pilgrimage stations/turas map. This is a small artificial prehistoric mound that looks like most other megalithic cists. On its south end is a large stone slab which is the location where many believe her body to rest. Atop this stone pilgrims scratch the cross into the stone slab (Station 3). The slab atop the cist (Station 4) is also covered with scratched crosses. There are said to exist three Bullaun Stones here, the third of which may be in the station 3 stone slab.

How to get here: Drive West from Macroom to Kerry on the N22. As you pass through Ballymakerry (Baile Mhic Ire), you will pass a church on your right-hand side and will take the first left hand turn after the church that has a sign post. Follow the road 400 meters and you will see the first (and main) holy well on the right. You’ll need to go up the hill a bit for parking as it is a very narrow road. Take the next right hand road (near where you can park by a graveyard) up the hill to see the other holy well, statue, hut, church ruins, and main graveyard. There is also a modernized porta-toilet in this parking lot so you don’t have to use the bushes. The GPS coordinates are: 79: W 1967 7688. Longitude: 9° 10′ 5″ W, Latitude: 51° 56′ 18″ N.

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Article by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions and Research Services: Technogypsie.com. © 2013: All rights reserved.

Article on the Church, Shrine, Graveyard, and Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=14339. Article on the Holy Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=7591. Article on the Tobar Ghobnatan Wishing Trees, Saint Ghobnatan, and Tobar Ghobnatan cross etchings.

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Tobar Ghobnatan Holy Wells: St. Abban’s Well and St. Gobnait’s Well

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Tobar Ghobnatan Holy Wells
* Tobar Ghobnatan * Ballyvourney (a.k.a. Baile Bhuirne), County Cork, Ireland *

1ST WELL: ST. ABBAN’S WELL OR ST. GOBNAIT’S WELL

As you drive up to the Tobar Ghobnatan Statue, Well, Hut, Grave, Church ruins and yard, you will see on your right a wrought iron archway with the letters spelling “HOLY WELL” along its top. Another sign labels it as the “Tobar Ghobnatan Holy Well”. When I walked through this archway, I immediately spied a 3/4 large ring of mushrooms known as a Fairy Ring. I had to walk around it 9 times to see if a gateway to the land of Fae would appear. Magical as the site was, alas, no gateway appeared that I was aware of. A short walk down the path you will find the well at the base of a wishing tree. The tree is covered with rags or clouties as well as many other trinkets placed there or tied to the branches as offerings and prayers. These are often cleaned up and removed by the church occasionally some say online. The well has steps down into it, but can often be difficult to access without crawling on your knees to get at the magical waters. There are two taps nearby where one can retrieve the water. This well is believed to be a lot older than the Christian occupation and creation of this monastic site, probably as a Fairy Well or Pagan Shrine. Today visitors claim it is either St. Abban’s Well and/or St. Gobnait’s Well. From the Cult followings, I would think it has more to do with St. Gobnait than St. Abban even though technically I’ve read it is primarily called St. Abban’s Well. The Other well is up the hill by St. Gobnait’s Hut and Statue. It’s unclear which Saint claimed which Pagan well when they took the land.

In Neo-Pagan practice and visitations of the site, the well is circled either three times clockwise, or in a trio set of three times three. It is conducted clockwise to gain something, pay tribute to the well, or to weave a certain kind of magic. It is done counter-clockwise to unwind something, to banish something, or to undo a spell, curse, or action. It is common then to make an offering to the well or tree. The participant then goes to the well, collects water, offers it back to the earth, then either takes a sip of the magical waters or splashes it on their face. It is common to fill a bottle with the magic waters to take home. A bin of empty clean water bottles is located along one of the rock walls for those who forgot to bring a bottle. This well is very common location for seamen to collect water from to bring to their boats used for safe passage during their expeditions. In Christian/Catholic observation of the rounds, the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary”, and the Glorias are spoken at each of the stations. At this station, they do a decade of the rosary and drink the water from the Well. According to the stations, the rounds, or the turas, this is station 10: St. Abban’s Well. Every year on the 11th of February, the parish priest would bring out a 13th century wooden statue of St. Gobnait upon which pilgrims would measure a ribbon against the statue and wrap it around the figure, then take the ribbon home to use for healing magic.

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Next to the well is a large tree called a Wishing Tree which is part of any number of such trees found on this monastic site. Covering this particular tree are offerings to St. Gobniat (and the ancestral water spirits or Naiads of this well) in the form of rags (clouties/clooties – pieces of cloth tied around its branches), prayers, trinkets, tokens, pictures, charms, and/or a variety of personal effects from under garments, hair ties, belts, shoes, rings, jewelry, toys, prayer cards, or other effects. The belief behind pieces of cloth are that they are to get rid of an illness and once the cloth decays so will the illness. It is a concept of leaving something behind of themselves or their loved ones in need of healing.

Along the stone wall and around the well is an assortment of cups, jars, and/or bottles that someone can use to gather water from the well for drinking and/or blessing. As far as I know, the well water is not tested or certified, so drinking from such is at one’s own risk. Anything can get into these public wells and a variety of items from coins, pins, and garbage are sometime found thrown into them. When I visited there was a large bin of washed out plastic bottles for visitors to fill up with holy well water and take with them.

SECOND WELL: ST. GOBNAIT’S WELL (or ST. ABBAN’S WELL)

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Again, like the well above, no one is clear on who claimed this Fairy Well, but it seems to be primarily associated with Saint Gobnait since it is located in front of her house, hut, or kitchen. Both wells are part of the pilgrimage and rounds regardless. In Christian/Catholic observation of the rounds, the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary”, and the Glorias are spoken at each of the stations. At this station, they do a decade of the rosary and drink the water from the Well.
To complete the pilgrimage the pilgrim walks down the road to St Gobnait’s well (Station 10). The pilgrim recites 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Mary’s and 7 Gloria, one decade of the rosary and drinks the water from the well. Like many holy wells in Ireland St Gobnait’s well is associate with a rag tree and there is a tradition of leaving votive offerings at this tree. Below is a photo of the tree taken when I last visited here in 2006, as you can see is covered rags and bead and tokens left be pilgrims. I think it looks quiet lovely. Since my last visit most of these offering have been removed but a few are still to be found. This well seems a bit questionable as to the safety of the water, but is still one apparently drunken from. This well in in front of the round circular stone hut north of the statue called the “House of St. Gobnait” or the “St. Ghobnatan’s Kitchen”. Earlier evidence suggests that the site was an early pre-Medieval to Medieval bronze and iron working site which operated out of this hut. Evidence for this comes from iron slag, a crucible, and other metal working artifacts found during the excavation of the site. With evidence that the wells were Pagan shrines pre-dating Christianity combined with the metalworking has led some rumors to run wild that it could be the metal working site of the Tuatha Dé Danann’s Smith known as Goibnui who share phonetic similarities to the name of Saint Gobnait. There is no evidence found to this ‘hunch’ someone probably weaved online in a blog, but it does add a sense of urban lore to the site that would make it an exciting tidbit of mythos. (Especially since there really exists no solid evidence of any of the Tuatha Dé Danann legend site locations except folklore) In this hut, pilgrims etch a cross into the stones atop this well as well as the entrance stones in the hut during their turas.

BOTH WELLS:

Both of the wells are named after the Matron Saint of Ballyvourney and sacred Bee-Keeping mistress, Saint Ghobnatan (a.k.a. Saint Gobnait) of the holy pilgrimage site and monastic settlement known as “Tobar Ghobnatan“. This is the legendary home of St. Gobnait/Ghobnatan. It is located a kilometer south of the village of Ballyvourney where her church Móin Mór (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built. There are two holy wells at this site, both of which are believed to pre-date St. Abban and Gobnait’s arrival to the land, most likely Pagan shrines or Fairy wells. Today these wells are called “St. Abban’s Well” (most likely ‘FIRST WELL’) and “St. Gobnait’s Well” (most likely ‘SECOND WELL’).

There are several wells throughout Ireland (and other countries) dedicated to Saint Gobnait. There exists a dry well known as St. Debora, Deriola, or Abigails Well that is north of Ballyagran in a high field on the left of the road to Castletown which is believed to be the original Saint Gobnait’s Well. It is currently dry. Legends run wild of a white stag that can be seen at this well especially during February 11th, the Feast day of Saint Gobnait. There are other wells and shrines such as the church site in County Kerry at Dunquin that has a well near Dungarvan in Waterford.

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Article by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions and Research Services: Technogypsie.com. © 2013: All rights reserved.

Article on the Church, Shrine, Graveyard, and Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=14339. Article on the Holy Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=7591. Article on the Tobar Ghobnatan Wishing Trees, Saint Ghobnatan, and Tobar Ghobnatan cross etchings.

How to get here: Drive West from Macroom to Kerry on the N22. As you pass through Ballymakerry (Baile Mhic Ire), you will pass a church on your right-hand side and will take the first left hand turn after the church that has a sign post. Follow the road 400 meters and you will see the first (and main) holy well on the right. You’ll need to go up the hill a bit for parking as it is a very narrow road. Take the next right hand road (near where you can park by a graveyard) up the hill to see the other holy well, statue, hut, church ruins, and main graveyard. There is also a modernized porta-toilet in this parking lot so you don’t have to use the bushes. The GPS coordinates are: 79: W 1967 7688. Longitude: 9° 10′ 5″ W, Latitude: 51° 56′ 18″ N.

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Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo
* Acoma, New Mexico *

I’m not sure how I forgot about this mysterious and heavenly city, “City in the Clouds” as I had studied it extensively in Archaeology and Anthropology courses in University. It took a good travel mate to attract my attention to it as we were travelling across New Mexico. “Aa’ku”, “Hakukya”, “Haak’oh” and “Acoma” are various Native American language names for the Cloud City located 60 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This Mesa-top City, is three Puebloan culture villages combined into one – (1) Old Acoma or “Sky City”, (2) Acomita, and (3) McCartys. “Acoma” is a Spanish (as well as the Keresan language group Acoma) word for “the place that always was” or “People of the White Rock”. “Pueblo” is Spanish for “village”. A Federally recognized tribe, the Acoma are a Pueblo Native American group who are believed to be descendants from the Anasazi and/or Mogollon peoples of the Four Corners Region (Home to Mesa Verde, Salmon, Aztec, and Chaco Canyon culture groups) as are most of the Pueblo peoples. There are approximately just under 5,000 registered Acoma people existing today as most of their populations were decimated by the Spanish, Catholicism, and Euro-American settlers. They have occupied this area for over 800 years as of this writing making their village one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in the United States. The Acoma believe they have been inhabiting the village for over 2,000 years. Archaeologists believe that the Mogollon/Anasazi peoples who gave birth to the Puebloans of the Four Corners region who evacuated the area due to severe droughts, and Sky City believed to be one of the locations they relocated to. This mesa that they moved to is a 365 foot high natural mesa, isolated with built-in natural fortifications. This helped the Acoma defend against Plains, Navajo, and Apache Indians because they were a peaceful non-warring society. However they suffered once falling in contact with the Spanish and Europeans. Spanish explorers in search of the 7 cities of Gold, came to them peacefull at first, trying to locate the legends of gold they were told about. The expedition’s leader, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado noted in his journals during their 1540 visit that this Pueblo was one of the strongest places they had encountered. At the time of their initial visit, the only method to access the top of the Mesa, was via an almost vertical set of stairs cut into the rock face. It took roughly 18 years for the Acoma to realize the Spanish had ulterior motives and relations between the two peoples began to disintegrate. The Acoma discovered that the Spanish had wanted to colonize their lands, so in turn ambused Juan de Onate’s men, killing 11 of them to defend their acreage. The Spanish came back to enforce penalty on the attack, burning most of their village and slaughtering over 600 of their people. They imprisoned the rest forcing them into slavery. They amputated the right foot of all men 25 years or older so they could not leave the Mesa. After the Massacre, the Acoma recovered and rebuilt their community, even though they had to pay taxes and tithing to Onate and his Catholic Missionaries. Churches were constructed and Western ways were taught to the Acoma. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 took its toll on the Spanish, bringing in refugees from other Pueblos, and pushing many Spanish out. Those Acoma that left the Mesa, formed the Laguna Pueblo not too far away. The Acoma then suffered through Westerner diseases brought over such as smallpox and raids from the Ute, Comanche, and Apache. They had to adopt Catholic faith, although also practicing their indigenous faiths in secret.

From 1629-1641 C.E. A Catholic Priest named Father Juan Ramirez was stationed at the Acoma Pueblo constructing the San Esteven Del Rey Mission Church atop the Mesa. The Acoma was forced to build this colossal palace for God moving over 20,000 tons of stone, mud, and straw to the Mesa, making Adobe for the construction. Giant ponderosa pine timber was also hand-carried up to the Mesa from over 40 miles away as 60 foot high wooden pillars hand carved in red and white designs.

The Pueblo Lands Act of 1924 appropriate much of their stolen lands back to them. Protestant missionaries invaded the area bringing alternative faiths to Catholicism as well as Christian influenced schools. The Burea of Indian Affairs forced many of the Acoma children to attend boarding schools, taking the kids from their parents. Much of the ancient ways were lost in process since many elders passed away before the children returned. What children returned often chose Western ways and was no longer interested in ancient traditions. The Church and Acoma village was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and by 2007 became a National Trust for Historic Preservation Site. There are roughly 300 two-three story adobe buildings atop the Mesa with exterior ladders accessing the upper levels where residents live. The Mesa is now accessed by a road built in the 1950’s for Hollywood Film sets needing to bring in studio equipment for movie productions. There are less than 30 Acoma who live atop the Mesa today. There are roughly 60,000 tourists each year visiting the site. The village is not permitted to have running water, electricity, nor sewage disposal atop the Mesa in order to preserve ancient traditions. There is a reservation that surrounds the Mesa, roughly 600 square miles, where most tribal members live while the others live in modern day local cities hosting casinos, restaurants, gas stations, and shops. Today, it is believed that many of their ancestral beliefs and traditions are still practiced in secret from Westerners while also practicing Catholicism, the faith that was forced upon them since Euro-American and Spanish contact. They believe in creating harmony between their people and nature. The sun is seen as their creator Deity. Their world is balanced by the mountains, their community, the sun above, and the earth below. Their religious ceremonies revolve around the weather. They utilize kachinas in their rituals. They would worship in their kivas. The Acoma speak both English and Acoma, while their elders may also speak Spanish. There are less than 5,000 Acoma left today. The government is managed by the cacique (head of the Pueblo) and the war captain who manage the tribe until they die. These individuals maintain strong religious connections to all the work they do as tradition dictates. There is also the All Indian Pueblo Council that began in 1598 and helps manage Indian affairs. They manage over 500,000 acres of traditional Acoma lands consisting of valleys, hills, arroyos, and mesas. Tribal councils, staff, and the governor is appointed by the cacique. Besides Government subsidies, their major income is Tourism.

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Taos Pueblo

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Taos Pueblo * Pueblo de Taos * ?a?opháym?p’?h??oth??olbo * *
* Taos, New Mexico * www.taospueblo.com * ca. 1000 C.E./1450 C.E. to Present day *

As a southwestern Archaeologist, I have always been inspired and intrigued with the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community that has been designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a National Historic Landmark. Aesthetically its a great example of adobe architecture and Puebloan culture. “Taos” was borrowed from the Spanish word “Taos” (t??o) meaning “village”, translating “Taos Pueblo” to “village in the village”. “Pueblo” means “the village” or “in the village” in the anglicized writing of the name, and given the namesake as “Taos Pueblo”, its true name however in the Taos language is “?a?opháym?p’?h??oth??olbo” meaning “at Red Willow Canyon Mouth”. These multi-storied adobe structures have been continuously inhabited for over a 1000 years. As a part of the Eight Northern Pueblos, this community is known for being one of the most conservative, secretive, and private of those in existing Puebloan culture. The village is atop a 95,000 acre sized reservation with over 4,500 inhabitants. The Red Willow Creek (Rio Pueblo de Taos) runs through the village as a small stream flowing into the middle of the community, fed by the headwaters sprung for the from spring and snow melt of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The pueblo is noted for its multi-storied residential complex, consisting of adobe architecture with reddish-brown mud-clay construction that is divided into two parts by the Red Willow Creek. Most of the Taos buildings originally had few windows or doors and were accessed by square holes in the roof led down by long climbing wooden ladders. Roofs were supported by large cedar logs with layers of branches, grass, mud, and plaster covering it all. The Pueblo wall completely enclosed the village back in the day and much taller for protection (today they are short or missing elements). The north side of the Pueblo is the most photographed and painted buildings in North America as they are representative of the largest multi-storied Pueblo structures still in existence. The walls are several feet thick for defensive strategy, and until 1900 C.E. only accessed from ladders in the roof. Homes usually have two rooms, one for living/sleeping and the other for cooking/storage. Each house is self-contained with no passageways between the houses. In early days, they were minimal with furnishings but today have beds, chairs, tables, counters, etc. There has never been electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing permitted in the Taos Pueblo. Kivas are scattered around the Pueblo utilized for council meetings and spiritual rites.

There is controversial debate on exactly when it was built, but estimated construction is between 1000 C.E. and 1450 C.E. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. The original Pueblo Indians (including the Taos Native Americans) settled along the Rio Grande River after migrating from the Four Corners Region as their ancestry come from the Anasazi people who built the ruins in that area (Aztec Ruins, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, etc.) forced to move on by a devastating drought in the 13th century of the Common Era. The waters of the Rio Grande River were more dependable. This Pueblo became a trade center for most of the native Populations of the area including the Plains tribes, often hosting a trade fair every fall after the agricultural harvest. Their spirituality was very Pagan, animistic, and shamanistic in belief structure which was almost demolished by Catholicism and Christianity after contact. The first Spanish to arrive was in 1540 C.E. from the Francisco Vásquez de Coronado expedition in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. By 1620 C.E., San Geronimo de Taos Catholic church was constructed, albeit numerous resistance attempts from the local Taos Native Americans. Resistance against the Catholic faith was hardcore at this time. However, as tensions grew between the Euro-American and Spanish settlers invading the area as well as between the Plains Indians and amongst their own peoples, the 1600’s C.E. of this region was in major upheaval and change. Churches were burnt, settlers were killed, priests murdered, and the grand Pueblo Revolt of 1680 (CE) took foot. The Taos people killed all three priests and destroyed the San Geronimo church. It was rebuilt for a third time by the end of the 18th century and relations between the Spanish and Puebloan culture found a level of peace finding strength coming together to defeat another invader, the Comanche and Ute Indian Tribes from the North and East. Resistance towards Catholicism was still strong.

As New Mexico came under control of the United States away from Mexico, officially becoming a territory in 1847 C.E. the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed with a grand peace requested and cherished. This did not last long as another revolt broke out in this Pueblo, when the Taos Pueblo leader “Tomasito” teamed together with the Mexican leader “Pablo Montoya” instigated a rebellion of Native Americans and Mexicans who refused to become part of the United States. They killed the then Governor Charles Bent while marching onto Santa Fe, followed by refuge in the Geronimo Mission Church. The Church was attacked by American troops, onslaught murder of the rebels and taking the others hostage, once again demolishing the church. It was rebuilt a fourth time in 1850 C.E. near the west gate of the Pueblo wall. The ruins can be seen today in the grave yard.

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In the early 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt took 48,000 acres of land from the Pueblo designating it as the Carson National Forest. This was returned back to the Pueblo in 1970 by President Nixon, and in 1996 an additional 764 acres were given back to the Pueblo covering their sacred Blue Lake – a magical body of water integrated into early Taos Puebloan belief structure.

Today the Taos Puebloan Peoples practice two spiritual practices – the original indigenous spiritual tradition and Roman Catholicism. It is said that the majority of the Taos Indians still practice their old ways even though 90% of their members have been baptized as Roman Catholics. From my experiences however, it is very apparent that much of the old ways have been destroyed by Catholicism. When I asked many Native American vendors in the Pueblo about certain meanings of various stones, symbols, or items (many of which are common knowledge items of lore today) – the response issued that they didn’t know, said there was nothing special about it, or that there was no lore associated with them. This demonstrated to me that either they were keeping secret even that which is common mainstream knowledge, or the general populace in the Pueblo has lost their cultural mythos and lore, which was very saddening to me. In talking to some Puebloan contacts, many say the ancient traditions are still practiced, albeit in secret away from white folk, or that they are now Christian or Catholic in practice. The concept of “community” however has not changed amongst Puebloan culture. Their phrase “we are in one nest” has been the supportive cohesive glue keeping the community together. The other aspect is “family” with high tribute and respect for their ancestors, elders, and parents. Often pictures, photos, or items belonging to ancestors or parents would be found in the homes or shops – a part of ancestral worship in like. Descent is respected from both the father and mother’s side (patrilineal and matrilineal) and although each family lives in a separate dwelling, they come together for family issues, and everyone is available to help care for the children. The elderly teach the young values and traditions of the culture with hopes of securing and preserving Taos Puebloan culture for generations to come.

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