Category Archives: Living Myths and Legends

Cave of the Cats (Rathcrogan/Roscommon, Ireland)

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats
– Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace. Rathcrohan / Rosscommon, Ireland
GPS: 53.79677, -8.31038
Article/Research by Thomas Baurley/Leaf McGowan/Technogypsie Productions, 10 October 2017

One of my most favorite sites in Ireland is the “Cave of the Cats” underneath the realm of “Rathcrohan“. It is officially called “Oweynagat” and pronounced “Owen-ne-gatt”.
The Cave is also labelled “Uaimh na gCat”, Irish translating to “Cave of the Cats”. When I first visited this site we had a tremendously hard time finding it. We found where it was supposed to be, but it lay behind fencing on a farmer’s field. We knocked on the farmer’s door, and there was no answer. A neighbor saw us, asked what we were doing and who we were, and he showed us the entrance, giving us permission to enter. It was a small hole under some Fairy thorn trees. The Site is actually a natural narrow limestone cave that hosts a man-made souterrain at its entrance. This is seen by all as the official entrance to the Otherworld and home to the Morrigan or Medh. In the Medieval Period of Ireland, it was labeled “Ireland’s Gate to Hell”. It is a particular sacred site for the Pagan holiday and festival of “Samhain” or Halloween.

It is said that during the Feast of Samhain, the dead, their God/desses, and Spirits, would rise from their graves and walk the Earth. This cave is one of the main places where Spirits and the dead associated with the Fae and/or the Morrigan, would re-surface including creatures, monsters, and the un-dead. There exists an Irish legend based off the “Adventures of Nera” where a warrior is challenged to tie a twig around the ankle of a condemned man on Samhain eve, after agreeing to get him some water would discover strange houses and wouldn’t find water until the third house. Upon returning him back to captivity would witness Rathcroghan’s royal buildings destroyed by the spirits. After this he must follow the fairy host to the Sidhe where he meets a woman who tells him the vision he saw will happen a year from now unless his mortal comrades are warned. He leaves the Sidhe and informs Ailill of his vision who destroys the Sidhe in response.

Some believe the “síd” or the Sidhe of this tale is either the Mound of Rathcroghan or Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. It makes the most sense that the Cave of the Cats is where the destructive creatures and fae emerged. There was a triple-headed monster called the Ellen Trechen that went on a rampage across the country before being killed by Amergin, father of Conal Cernach. There have been tales of small red birds emerging from the cave withering every plant they breathed on before being hunted to their death by the Red Branch. There is also legends of herds of pigs with similar powers of decay emerging from the cave until hunted and killed by Ailill and Medb.

The name itself, “Oweynagat” is believed to refer to the Magical wild cats featured in the tale of “Bricriu’s Feast” that emerge from this cave to attack the three Ulster warriors before being tamed by Cúchulainn. Some also claim that the cave was named after Irusan, the King of the Cats, who is featured in Irish fairy tales and hailed from a cave near Clonmacnoise (her home). Another tale from the 18th century CE tells of a woman trying to catch a runaway cow that fell into this cave (nevermind the entrance being too small) and followed it into this cave. It is said the cow and woman emerged miles away in County Sligo, near Keshcorran. There is also a legend of a woman that was told to have killed a monster cat in this cave, turning the woman into a great warrior, and this is why its called “Oweynagat”, Cave of the Cats.

The Birthplace of Medb

It is also believed that this cave is the actual physical birthplace for Queen Medb. The legend states that the Fairy Queen/Goddess Étain who was fleeing her human husband with her fairy lover Midir came here. Midir wanted to visit a relative named Sinech (the large breasted one) who lived in the cave. Within the cave was said to be a great otherworldly palace where a maid servant named Crochan Crogderg (“Blood Red Cup”) lived, and she had granted Midir and Etain entrance. It was here that Crochan was believed to have given birth to a daughter named “Medb“.

The Entrance

Nestled under a fairy tree in a farmer’s field (private property) is a small opening that really only looks large enough for a house cat to fit through. But if a human gets down on their hands and knees, can shimmy into this small hole, they will be presented with a small chamber that connects to a passageway that continually increases to a massive tunnel wider and higher than one could fathom. At the inner lintel of this entrance is an Ogham inscription that bears the words “VRAICCI…MAQI MEDVVI” translating to “FRAECH” and “SON OF MEDB”. Some also translate this to mean “The Pillar of Fraech son of Madb”. This is also seen as the birthplace of Medb. A second ogham inscription, barely visible, reads “QR G SMU” but has not been translated. This beginning chamber is actually a man-made souterrain at the entrance to a natural narrow limestone cave. The souterrain was originally contained within an earthen mound that was later damaged by a road construction project in the 1930’s. The souterrain is made of drystone walling, orthostats, lintels, and stones that measure approximately 10.5 meters from the entrance to the natural cave’s opening.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – entrance chamber

The Tunnel

After crawling on one’s hands and feet, the passage increases in width and height, eventually one can stand up, and eventually the tunnel becomes wide and tall enough that a small Giant could move through it. This is the passage of the Fae, and leads to the Morrigan’s Lair. As one continues down, they’ll find a caved in shamble that is behind a muddy pool of water. If one successfully climbs up and over it, the passage continues to another area that is caved in. Apparently workers on the surface planted a utility pole that collapsed this section of the tunnel. Beyond this is believed to be the Entrance to the Otherworld, and the Morrigan’s Lair. This is actually a natural limestone cave that has been mapped approximately 37 meters deep.

The Morrigan

The Queen of the Dark Fae, the Goddess of the Underworld, of Darkness, and Battle, rules the world of the Fae from this place. It is believed that every Samhain, she is pulled on a chariot out of the Cave of the Cats by a one-legged chestnut horse alongside various creatures such as those mentioned above. Some also say on occasion she leaves the cave with a cow, guided by a giant with a forked staff, to give to the Bull of Cúailgne. She is also known to take the bull of a woman named Odras who follows her into the cave before falling under an enchanted sleep upon awakening to see the Morrigan who repeatedly whispers a spell over her, turning her into a river, the same river that feeds the muddy pool at the shamble. Apparently the cave is seen as a portal through which the Morrigan would pass in order to work with Medb as Goddess of Battle. She drove her otherworldly cattle into the cave every sunset. The Morrigan was blamed to have stolen a herd of cattle who belonged to a woman named Odras, and upon following to Morrigan to retrieve them, was turned into a lake by the Goddess. As is the story of Nera, a servant of Medb who met a Fairy woman here in this cave. He married her, and she warned him of Medb’s palace being burnt to the ground next Samhain by the creatures of the otherworld. Upon hearing this, Medb stationed her forces in the cave each Samhain to protect Cruachan from destruction.

Rathcrohan is the legendary burial grounds of the Kings of Coannaught. The region covers approximately 518 hectares hosting more than 20 ring forts, burial mounds, megalithic tombs such as the Relig na Ri (burial ground of the Kings), Rath na dTarbh (For the Bulls), and the Rathbeg. The archaeological site is massive, with earthworks spread over the region with the Grave of King Dathi (Last Pagan King of Ireland) as a 2 meter high standing stone being one of the few physical landmarks left that can be seen. This is also the site of the mythical battle of the “Tain Bo Cuailgne” that remains in the hearts, minds, and folklore of the people of Tulsk and Rathcroghan recorded in the Ancient Irish Epic of the Tain Bo Cuiailgne, the “Cattle Raid of Cooley”. The Tain Bo tells the story of Queen Maeve of Connaught and her armies that pursued the Grat Brown Bull of Cooley, the mighty warrior Cuchulain who does battle with the armies here, and his foster brother Erdia as he defends the Brown Bull, and the province of Ulster. There is a “Tain Trail Cycling and Touring Route” that re-traces the journey that Queen Maeve and her armies traveled from her Royal Palace at Rathcroghan across Ireland to the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, the home of the Brown Bull. Rathcrohan hosts over 60 National Monuments here.


  • Druid School: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats. Website referenced January 2012.
  • Fenwick, J. et al 1977 “Oweynagat”. Irish Speleology 16, 11-14.
  • Hannon, Ed 2012 “Visions of the Past: Oweynagat Cave”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at
  • Mulranney, R. n.d “Caves of Ireland: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at
  • Waddell, J. 1983 “Rathcroghan – A Royal Site”. Journal of Irish Archaeology 1.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Rathcroghan”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at

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Hotel California – Urban Legend?

Hotel California, Around San Francisco, California.

The Hotel California, Fact myth or legend?

Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

“The Hotel California” ~
A fictional place, but full of urban myths and legends.

The “California Hotel” photo above, is NOT of course the place of the legend from the Song, nor was it the headquarters for Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. I’m actually not sure of the history of the actual hotel in this photo, but it called to mind my memories about this urban legend. (The photo above MIGHT be the California Hotel of historic landmarks, as it was in Oakland. The California Hotel historic is a important cultural center for the African-American community of San Francisco’s East ay during the 40’s-60’s, it experienced severe economic difficulties and turned into subsidized housing in the 80s)

I first came across the urban legend in 1990 at the Starwood festival when I was hanging out with a Satanist from the Church of Satan who first told me the tale … “one of the members of the Eagles was at this bar and got drunk with Anton LaVey’s daughter, she brought him home that night to her hotel room (at the Hotel California where supposedly the headquarters of the Church of Satan resided), they became lovers. Apparently he was so tied up in the affair with her that he disregarded showing up to band practice or responsibilities, and in a sense “never could leave” the hotel. When He snapped out of it, he apparently wrote the song about the experience hanging with the Church of Satan. A similar tale was told to me by my mentor Isaac Bonewits, founder of ADF (Ar nDraoicht Fein – A Druid Fellowship) who briefly joined the Church in his youth, but was so rambunctious and a trouble maker, the Church of Satan actually kicked him out of their group. (I do know that to be true as I’ve seen historic film reels of him in their ranks. Apparently he was recruited after creating a parodic devil’s throne upon which he proselytized on at UoC Berkeley to harass the local bible thumper on campus. They ran across him, were impressed, and asked him to join. )

I digress, back to the original legend. Some claim that Larry Salter, the Eagle’s manage admitted in the Waco Tribune-Herald (Feb. 28, 1982) that the Eagles were involved with the Church of Satan. Oddly the Church of Satan was first legally registered as “Hotel California” (legal entity name). But the Eagles claim far and wide, they were not associated with the Church and it was a leap that people jumped to. (

The Eagles claim that the “Hotel California” is an allegory about hedonism and greed in Southern California in the 1970s. As they first experienced California at that time, they were impressioned that California was about money, drugs, women, and fame – true hedonism, and they were disquieted by it all pushing that un-ease into their lyrics to warn others about the dark underside of such adulation – “a loss of innocence”, corruption of the artist in California imprisoned in a gilded prison that the artist freely enters that he cannot leave. It is not actually a place, but a metaphor of the west’s music industry and its effect on musicians ensnared by it. (

To make matters worse, many conspiracy theorists have marked that “Anton LaVey” (leader of the Church of Satan, San Francisco) can be seen in the balcony window as depicted on the album cover for the record “Hotel California”.

    Mirrors on the ceiling,
    The pink champagne on ice
    And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
    And in the master’s chambers,
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives,
    But they just can’t kill the beast

    Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    ‘Relax,’ said the night man,
    ‘We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave!’

The urban myth has odd facts and twisted thoughts behind it, and whether or not those with the inside knowledge are telling the truth and the Eagles are covering it up to save their reputation, or it is quite a bit of hog-wash and conjecture, we’ll never know. Frey and Henley claim that as much as people want to know what the song was about, they really don’t know themselves. It was an attempt at a “twilight zone” influence and many beliefs are abound. (

Of course the fundamentalist Christian organizations still claim it is a Satanic song, the band was gifted their success by dealing with the Devil (dueling banjos) at the crossroads giving their lives for their success. They won’t let go of this urban legend regardless. (,,,

And Cracked hosts a good explanation of it all here:

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at

Hotel California, Around San Francisco, California. ( ~ Pacific Coast Highway 101 – Driving North to Oregon through California – Great Pacific Northwest Move 2013. Photos from Thursday, 26 September 2013. (c) 2013 – photo by Leaf McGowan, Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ( Purchase rights and/or permissions to use can be obtained at site listed here. To follow the adventure, visit To read reviews visit

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Faerieworlds Winter 2011 Celebration: “Pirates vs Faeries” Masquerade Ball

Faerieworlds Pirates vs Faeries Ball .

Faerieworlds/Neverworlds Winter Celebration 2011: Pirates vs. Faeries Masquerade Ball
January 29, 2011: McDonald Theater, Eugene, Oregon

One of my favorite dances annually is the Faerieworlds Winter celebrations where they bring together the magical acts of Faerieworlds indoors to the McDonald theater in downtown Eugene, Oregon. Family and friends within the Faerie realms of Oregon, Washington, and beyond come together, dressed to the nines in Faerie and fantasy costumes ready to mesmerize one another in their frolick together. This year was the theme of “Pirates vs. Faeries” as they dance battled the two realms. It was a great display of art, theater, and magic. The magical band “Woodland” enchanted all with their otherworldly music and presence, as well as being hosts to the party. Drinks, festivity, dancing, friends, and family were blended into an amazing night. I was on a bit of jetlag as I soared the skies and roads with a rental car for a 36 hour visit to family coming from Colorado. It was worth every minute. Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Faerieworlds Pirates vs Faeries Ball. Photo by Thomas Baurley / Leaf McGowan / Technogypsie Photography (c) 2011 – – Read the adventure here: For more reviews, visit Faerieworlds Winter Celebration 2011: Pirates vs. Faeries –

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Battlemoor VIII {2017}, Buena Vista, Colorado

Battlemoor VIII
August 30 – September 4, 2017 * Cottonwood Meadows, Buena Vista, Colorado * *

The Age of Chivalry

One of Colorado’s Society for Creative Anachronism’s (SCA) premiere events … Battlemoor represents the re-creation of the “Age of Chivalry” during whence the Dark Ages have ended and the Middle Ages begin. The focus was on the chivalric ideals of heroism, picturesque castles, glorious churches, pangeants, camps, tournaments, charity and gallant self-sacrifice as it swept across Europe. With active members of the SCA working hard to replicate the historic beauty of the Period with costumes, arts, crafts, battles, competitive tournaments, encampments, parties, and events. From Vikings to Knights, Gypsies to wanderers … it was like stepping into the past. With the backdrop of the amazing picturesque mountains of Buena Vista they recreated the Kingdom of Battlemoor. A six day camping event of feasting, swimming, battling, fighting, debating, conversing, partying, and friendships. It was put on by the Kingdom of the Outlands, one of the 20 Kingdoms found within the SCA.

Our first experience with this amazing event was as vendor’s … The Tree Leaves Oracle sharing cultural arts from Vikings, Pirates, Middle Ages, and the fantastical beliefs of faeries, creatures, and folklore. We had a wonderful time making new friends and re-acquainting with old friends. My son Cian had a blast playing with friends he met at Northern Realms War as did I. The Vikings of the Northern Realms War as well as the Gypsy Camp enchanted us with evening hours of festivity, food, drink, and fun. Thank you all. The Beach party enchanted the wee prince as he won rubber knight duckies during the Marshmallow catapult game and Spear the Santa games. Roasting marshmallows on the fire, hot dogs, pancake breakfasts, Roasted goats, pigs, and bacon wrapped corn were amongst a few of the delicacies we were treated to. The Snow Dragon Inn blessed me with many libations. The Merchant coordinator did an amazing job laying out the site, making sure the vendors were well cared for, and had free lemonade/snacks daily for us to take a break at. Thank you. The pond was cold, but refreshing swim, as was the river. The Cottonwood Meadows site was phenomenal. We’ll be back, It was a great time. Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Vending at Battlemor 2017 (; Buena Vista, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken August 31, 2017. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2017: – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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The Magic Fest (1st annual: Northglenn, Colorado)

The Tree Leaves Oracle Booth – The Genii “Oisin Leaf” performing at the Magic Festival.

The Magic Fest
Friday August 18th – Saturday August 19, 2017
1st Annual, EB Rains Jr Memorial Park / DL Parsons Theater, 11800 Community Center Drive, Northglenn, Colorado

The premiere consortium of magicians, illusionists, and entertainers with a galleria of magical goods, tricks, entertainers, and services. Hosted in the heart of Northglenn, this year’s fest was its first over Friday August 18th and Saturday the 19th. It all began with Intrigue ( friday night in the 1920’s / 1930’s era theme for adults with an evening of speakeasy and partying accompanied by magic, drinks, jazz, and vendors. Our booth the Tree Leaves’ Oracle featured the 1920’s wizard Leaf doing sleight of hand, close-up and stage tricks within the booth. The costumes were fantastic around the party and event. Hosting in the green glory of the EB Rains Junior Memorial Park with outdoor entertainment and bars hosted for free. Within the theater were special paid performances of magical delight. The main stage hosted the Jazz Spiders with a mentalism twist of Anthem & Aria, followed by the Bringers of Swing. On the Sleight of Hand stage Shawn Preston and Joe Given performed, and in the bar were Don Zellner, Brandon Parker, Joe Givan, and Shawn Preston doing card tricks. Magicians walked around the festival doing tricks everywhere with Salida Circum, the travelling escape room, and much more. David and Leeman performed in the theater for shows at 7 and the Sideshows, Oddities, and Spirits performance by the Theater of Dreams Carol Massie and Joe Givan.

Saturday was a full day of fun for the family with lots of kid activities, shows, performances, and fun. Vendors, food trucks, bouncy castles, wand making, and fun in the park. Over 25 magicians performed during the event over 5 stages and roaming performers. The entertainment all free to anyone wanting to attend and be amazed. Cliff Davidson and Mark Strivings bedazzled children in the Kid’s tent. Steve and Carissa Walters did kid magic in the activity area sending home the young ones with tricks to start their own performances. Bryan Parker and Cosmo Solano performed closeup magic on stage 2. Professor Phelyx and Anthem / Aria performed mentalism on stage 3. Richard Kewsell and the Sleightly Impossible (Gene Gordon and Matt Brandt) performed parlor and cabaret magic on stage 4. Alec Mueller and Trevor Vernor, teen magicians, walked around the fest performing all around. The Genii Leaf performed at the Tree Leaves Oracle booth out front. Lots of gifts, tricks, books, face painting, food, and services were offered by vendors local and far.

Once again the City of Northglenn provided an amazing free festival for everyone to enjoy with thousands in attendance. It was a grand event indeed. Can’t wait til the next one! And gearing up to their spectacular Pirate festival as well in a few weeks. Rated 5 stars out of 5

Tree Leaves’ Oracle booth at Intrigue, The Magic Fest (, Northglenn, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken August 18, 2017. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2017 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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Denver SantaCon 2016

Denver SantaCon 2016

Denver SantaCon 2016
~ Begin Union Station to Black Shirt brewery via Rail to Thirsty Lion to La Boheme to Wazee Supper Club, Denver, Colorado ~

Story coming soon …

Denver SantaCon 2016 ( – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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Serpent Mound, Peebles, Ohio

Serpent Mound (; Exploring the Moundbuilder - New Beginnings: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken November 26, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Serpent Mound (

Serpent Mound
~ 3850 State Route 73, Peebles, Ohio 45660 ~ 1-800-752-2757 ~ ~

One of the most world famous mound-culture sites in Ohio, Serpent Mound is an animal effigy mound that can be seen from the sky or up high. The site is well preserved and protected, with a nice parking lot, rest rooms, museum, and group picnic areas. There is a scaffolding tower you can climb on to view the serpent mound better. There is a $8 charge per vehicle to park, otherwise admission is free. Park is open 9 am until dusk. Museum closes at 4 pm. You no longer can climb or walk on the mounds as they are being preserved for future generations and protecting their sacredness. This site is the world’s largest surviving example of an ancient animal effigy mound. It winds over 1,348 fee oer the ground, and the earthworks are beautifully preserved example of an undulating serpent with an oval shape at the head. These kind of mounds were created by aboriginal inhabitants of the area prior to Euro-American settlers and exploration. The earthworks are very sophisticated art and unfortunately through the past, many were destroyed by Euro-American settlers, homesteaders, agriculture, and development. Early excavations revealed no artifacts to help identify which tribe or peoples created it. It is believed that multiple cultures could have contributed to it over time. There were later discovered, three conical burial mounds right by the Serpent Mound, two of which date to the Adeno Culture (800 BCE – 100 CE) and one to the Fort Ancient Culture (1000-1650 CE). A nearby village site was occupied by both the Adena and the Fort Ancient Cultures. Carbon dating from within the mound has shown conflicting dates for both Fort Ancient and Adena Time periods leaving the mound builders a remote mystery. Excavations in 2012 reveal the buried foundations of a fourth coil near the head. While there are some oral traditions suggesting possible interpretations of its meaning and use, there are also many modern theories trying to explain it, but no sound complete explanation exists. There are striking astronomical correlations with the moon and sun, with astrological observations that can be made throughout the year with various seasons and festivals. The serpent motif has a symbolic connection to many cultures as a symbol of cycles of birth and death, resurrection , and the higher/lower worlds.

A tributary of the Ohio Brush Creek runs through the park, bringing many species of plants and animals to live here, rare and common. The rock cliffs below the mound are dolomite limestone as the bedrock base providing classic karst features of grotto cliffs, and springs / sinkholes around the region. The earthworks sit atop a narrow flat ridge at the edge of an ancient crater at least 4 miles in diameter. The crater was formed by a meteorite impact that occurred 250 million years ago, giving lift to this magical formation. At the ancient crater’s center, the bedrock was pushed upward at least a thousand feet from its original position. Throughout the bowl of the structure there are massive cracks, faults, and places where to rock layers are jumbled and even upside down. The Mound has international recognition and has been submitted to UNESCO – United nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization for the World Heritage List.

Serpent Mound (; Exploring the Moundbuilder - New Beginnings: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken November 26, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Serpent Mound (; Exploring the Moundbuilder – New Beginnings: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken November 26, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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Soap Lake, Washington

Soap Lake (, Washington. Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 29, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Soap Lake (, Washington.

Soap Lake, Washington
~ 47°23′18″N 119°29′15″W (47.388341, -119.487611) ~

Both a small town and a natural phenomena of a magical healing lake, “Soap Lake” was called “Smokiam” by the Native Americans as “Healing Waters”. It is a soft mineral lake in between Ephrata and Coulee. It is located in Grant County Washington. The abundant mineral within the waters is what is referred to as “washing soda” giving it a suds-like, slippery film feel. The minerals are alkaline which kills most bacteria it comes in contact with without damaging the animal or human the bacteria is living on, and when the tissues repairs itself the massive layers and deposits of mineralization will occur. The lake is very popular as a healing cure for Burgeger and Reynaud’s disease because it opens the capillary and extremity circulation of those affected by it. There are over 20 alkaline mineral salts found in Soap Lake, and is why many gather mud from the bottom of the lake to spread across their bodies for its natural healing effect. The mud sucks out toxins, moisture, and oils from the skin, giving it ability to heal. Combined with sunshine from the desert, it has been known to control psoriasis. The minerals found in Soap Lake are Sodium, Bicarbonate, Sulfate, Carbonate, Chloride, Potassium, Organic Nitrogen, Fluoride, Ortho-Phosphate, Nitrate, Calcium, Magnesium, and less than .01 percent of Iron, Aluminum, Copper, Rubidium, Lithium, Strontium, Barium, Chromium, Lead, Manganese, Titanium, Vanadium, and Boron. The waters have been rumored to cause relief with rheumatoid arthritis, beurgers disease, eczema, psoriasis, raynaud’s syndrom, and paralysis.

This lake is one of its only kinds in the world, and no other lake has been found as such in the world. It drew large crowds of visitors back in the 1920’s. The U.S. military sent young men to Soap Lake to help arrest symptoms of the debilitating disease known as Buergers Disease. Some bathe in hot baths using the water at 104 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, once a day. For capillary dilation, others take 108 degree fahrenheit hot baths for 20 minutes a day. Others just swim in the lake for their skin. Others use the mud combined with the sun for sun tanning while others take mud baths. There are some that even believe in drinking it, but never taking more than 2 ounces four times daily. This however is not recommended. The first layer of the lake has approximately 81 feet of mineral water, the second level is mud-like and consists of a stronger mineral composition with concentrations of unusual substances and microbes. It has been stated that these layers have not mixed for thousands of years, creating the rare condition called meromictic. There are only 11 meromictic lakes in the U.S.

The town has just over 1,500 residents (2010 census). Through the years it has become a busy resort and health spa, had grown to four hotels and various rooming houses making the waters known. It also became a touristy social center with celebrations, festivals, socials, and gatherings held often. This ended around the Depression as a drought hit the lake, dwindling the tourist trade and visitors. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, new irrigation canals were built, and brought life back into the area. From the 1900’s to the 1940’s, numerous sanitariums were built on the shores to help attract and cure visitors.

Soap Lake (; Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 22, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Soap Lake (; Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 22, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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First Beach, La Push, Washington

First Beach ( - La Push ( - Forks, Washington: Olympic National Forest and Park: Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 26, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
First Beach ( – La Push – Forks, Washington

First Beach, La Push, Washington

Tribal lands outside of Olympic National Forest not far from Forks, and part setting / inspiration from Stephanie Meyers series “Twilight” it is a location off the path from the Twilight Tour in Forks. Only 14 miles towards the coast from Forks, this is the home of the Quileute Tribe who originally habitated these lands for their sea-faring quests and fishing trips. It was here they traditionally built their cedar canoes for oceanic journeys, whaling, and seal hunting. La Push is their current headquarters. They signed their first treaty with the Euro-American settlers here that eventually relocated them to a reservation in Taholah, but because of their remoteness, wasn’t enforced, and many stayed in this area. In 1889 President Grover Cleveland established a one mile square reservation here for them, with about 252 inhabitants. That same year, the town was destroyed by arson. Today it is a popular tourist destination and is home to oceanfront resorts, a fish hatchery, a seafoo company and a marina. They host an annual festival called Quileute Days every July 17-19th celebrating their cultural heritage, with fireworks, salmon bake, dancing, songs, softball and other tournaments, vending, and food. They are featured as characters in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series as the wolf people.

First Beach ( - La Push ( - Forks, Washington: Olympic National Forest and Park: Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 26, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
First Beach ( – La Push ( – Forks, Washington: Olympic National Forest and Park: Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 26, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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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


Taos Pueblo * Pueblo de Taos * ?a?ophym?p?h??oth??olbo * *
* Taos, New Mexico * * 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?ophym?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 Vsquez 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.


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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Tortolita canyon trail #54 and Nogal Trail 48


Nogal Trail #48 to Tortolita Canyon Trail #54
* Sierra Blanca, Ruidoso, New Mexico, USA *

On November 2013 we went for a hike along Nogal Canyon Trail #48 to the peak overlooking the Valley of Fire on the Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 to spread the ashes of our family. If you’d like to read the Chronicles of that adventure, go here: . Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 is 9 miles long and begins off of Forest Road 400 through Private Land ending at the Crest Trail (T25). Its a popular trail for horseback riding and hiking. It’s a light hike. Midway along this trail it meets the 1 1/2 mile long Nogal Trail that rises gradually 600 feet in elevation. The trails’ highest point is 9,000 feet above sea level and is a very pleasant hike, moderately-used, with a gentle gradual incline at the base of Nogal Peak. The Nogal trail ends at Tortolita Trail and starts at the downfall shamble of a abandoned gold mine (which was flooded when we visited). Tortolita Trail follows the steep west faced slope of Nogal Peak towards the head of Nogal canyon, climbing above Dry Gulch and extending to the old trailhead in Nogal Canyon. It is not well used or maintained, thereby sometimes hard to follow. At this intersection, appears to be an archaeological site labelled PH 1 (or could represent Post Hole 1 atop the peak) just off center of the intersection of these two trails. It appears to be that of an old mine as rock piles abound and a deep cut in the peak looks mined.



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Brushwood Folklore Center (Sherman, New York)

Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

Brushwood Folklore Center
* * * 8881 Bailey Hill Rd. * Sherman New York * 14781 * 716-761-6750 * *

One of my favorite campsites and festival grounds is Brushwood Folklore Center, nestled in upstate New York. A rustic wooded retreat on over 180 wooded acres outside of Sherman, New York in rural Chautauqua County. A clothing optional campground and resort focused on creativity, community, and spirituality. A great place to relax, become one with nature or with others, or to be part of the fabulous festivals held year round including bonfires, drumming, dancing, swimming, and soaking in the hot tub. The grounds are full of lots of temples, sanctuaries, altars, and sacred spaces where various groups host numerous rites and rituals every year. Family and community run since 1970, Brushwood is a family and community oriented campground.

Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

The campgrounds have seasonal campground sites, co-ed showers, flush toilets, a swimming pool, and two hot tubs. There are three covered pavilions near main camping, lots of outdoor space for workshops, lectures, ceremonies, and performances. An heated indoor lodge for year-round use and heated indoor sleeping areas for over a dozen visitors. Camping fees are only $10 /night (2013 rates) with day passes at $6/day until 6 pm. The heated indoor lodging (dorm-style trailer) is $15/night – all per person. On occasion, potluck dinners are held to promote opportunities for community to meet and share meals together. Home to numerous annual festivals, some of the famous festivals like Starwood in the past, now Summerstar, Sirius Rising, Wellspring, and many other events each year. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

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New York Faerie Festival 2013


New York Faerie Festival 2013
* * Ouaquaga, New York *

Each summer towards the end of June a special portal opens to the Faerie Realm in the farmlands of New york state just east of Binghamton on a very magical nature sanctuary dedicated to the Fae. We decided this year to venture forth to this magical event. On our 2013 visit we came to enjoy the fantasy lands from June 28th until June 30th as the portal remained open. We were first to pass over the slippery muds from the rainstorms that dotted the event. Meeting goblins, mermaids, trolls, and orcs definitely sparked the imagination as we hiked along the paths to the stone circle, bathed on the mermaid beach, crossed the troll bridge, met the tooth fairy, and admired various altars. Frolicking with the Faerie queen, pixies, and elves … dancing to the amazing music of a plethera of talent on its stages. It was family fun for all ages. The merchant village had great artists and craftsmen, food stuffs, and goodies, and amazing faerie chai teas. Time in the realm, albeit wet, was wonderful as the festival was added to one of my current favorites. Rating: 5 stars out of 5


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Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 November 28, 1859)


Washington Irving
(April 3, 1783 November 28, 1859)

An American author, biographer, story teller, historian, diplomat, and essayist famous in the early 19th century.
Most known for his short stories Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, a resident of “North Tarrytown” which has been name-changed to the village of “Sleepy Hollow” in 1996/1997 to memorialize the stories and Washington Irving. The nearby Irvingtown is named after him and was called such even while Irving was still alive. He became famous in 1802 from the observational letters to the Morning Chronicle, written under his pen-name of Jonathan Oldstyle. After moving to England in 1815, he became world famous for his “Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.” in 1820 which contained the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip VanWinkle. He alongside James Fenimore Cooper were the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and were influential to other American writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe. He also inspired European authors such as Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Francis Jeffrey, and Charles Dickens. He also wrote a five volume biography of George Washington before his death in Tarrytown age 76 years of age.


Washington Irving loved the areas of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown living just down the road from Sleepy Hollow in his Dutch-style estate he called “Sunnyside”. He fought to have the Tarrytown Cemetery to be called the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery upon which he wrote:

    My Dear Clark:
    I send you herewith a plan of a rural cemetery projected by some of the worthies of Tarrytown, on the woody hills adjacent to the Sleepy Hollow Church. I have no pecuniary interest in it, yet I hope it may succeed, as it will keep that beautiful and umbrageous neighborhood sacred from the anti-poetical and all-leveling axe. Besides, I trust that I shall one day lay my bones there. The projectors are plain matter-of-fact men, but are already, I believe, aware of the blunder which they have committed in naming it the “Tarrytown,” instead of the “Sleepy Hollow” Cemetery. The latter name would have been enough of itself to secure the patronage of all desirous of sleeping quietly in their graves. I beg you to correct this oversight, should you, as I trust you will, notice this sepulchral enterprise.
    I hope as the spring opens you will accompany me in one of my brief visits to Sunnyside, when we will make another trip to Sleepy Hollow, and (thunder and lightning permitting) have a colloquy among the tombs.
    Yours, very truly,
    Washington Irving ~ New York, April 27, 1849


He was born to two Scottish-English Immigrants – his father was William Irving, Sr. from Quholm, Orkney and Sarah ne Sanders who were married in 1761. He had 10 other siblings, 8 of which survived as adults. The first two brothers named William had died in infancy, as well as the fourth – John. His surviving siblings were William, Jr. (1766), Ann (1770), Peter (1772), Catherine (1774), Ebenezer (1776), John Treat (1778), and Sarah (1780). They had settled in Manhattan, New York City. Washington Irving was born on April 3, 1783 at 131 William Street, during the same week city residents learned of the British ceasefire that ended the American Revolution. He was named after George Washington, the hero of the Revolution. While his siblings became merchants, he followed a career in writing. He had a hard time staying in class, often sneaking off taking adventures or attend theater events. After the 1798 yellow fever outbreak, his family moved up the Hudson to a healthier climate just outside of Sleepy Hollow. It was here he became fascinated with the local ghost stories and Dutch customs. He was inspired to write Rip Van Winkle after visiting the Catskill mountains where he wrote had the most “witching effect” on his boyish imagination. He wrote under many different pseudonyms, including Jonathan Oldstyle, William Wizard and Launcelot Langstaff. He began as a comic writer lampooning New York Culture and politics making him popular in the States by 1807. He also was the first to nickname New York City “Gotham” (Anglo Saxon term for “Goat’s Town”.

Washington lost his 17 year old fiance Matilda Hoffman in 1809, the same year he finished his first major book titled “A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasy” under his name Diedrich Knickerbocker. He pranked the citizens of New York at the time by placing a series of missing persons ads in the papers looking for his pseudo-name Diedrich Knickerbocker as he listed being a crusty Dutch historian who had gone missing from his hotel in NYC. He also placed ads from the hotel manager saying that if Mr. Knickerbocker didn’t return to the hotel to pay his bill, the hotel would publish the manuscript that he left behind. Many followed the story and manuscript with interest. Rewards were placed for his return by NYC officials, all the while gaining interest in his book. He later adopted the pseudonym that December giving him immediate popular success making him a celebrity. After his NY success, he became the editor for Analectic Magazine writing biographies of naval heroes and was the first to reprint Francis Scott Key’s poem “Defense of Fort McHenry” which was later immortalized as the “Star Spangled Banner” becoming the anthem for the U.S.A. He originally opposed the War of 1812, but after the British attack on D.C. in 1814, he felt patriotism and enlisted, serving under Daniel Tompkins, the governor of NY and commander of the NY State Militia. Mid 1815 he left for England to attempt to salvage his family’s trading company, residing there for 17 years. He wound up filing bankrupty and continued writing from 1817-1818. He became great friends with Walter Scottt and continued writing, composing “Rip Van Winkle” overnight while staying with his sister in Birmingham England. By 1818, he became the chief clerk to the US Navy staying in England to pursue a writing career. By 1819 he published the “Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent” which contained Rip Van Winkle and in the second volume published the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. He struggled agains literary bootleggers, being victim of theft having numerouls of his sketches reprinted in periodicals without permission. He would up having to pay to have his first four American installments published as a single volume by John Miller in London, and through Walter Scott, procured a more reputable publisher for the rest of his book, London powerhouse John Murray who took on the sketch book. To protect from copyright fraud, since there was no international copyright laws at the time, he concurrently published in the U.S. and Britain to protect his copyright. Bouncing from Paris to London, he became a socialite who was honored as an anomaly of literature – “an upstart American who dared to write English well.” He continued travelling around Europe up through 1821, reading Dutch and German folk tales to get more material. After the death of his brother William, he reached a downfall with depression and writer’s block causing a slow down of his works. In 1822, he wrote “Bracebridge Hall” or “The Humorists, A Medley” that had a similarity to the Sketchbook narrating a series of 50 loosely connected short stories and essays. He then travelled back to German, settling in Dresden for the winter. He became involved with Amelia Foster and became attracted to her 18 year old daughter Emily. He was refused the marriage proposal to her. He then returned to Paris, collaborating with playright John Howard Payne translating various French plays for the English stage. By 1824, he published a collection of essays called “The Tales of a Traveller” which included another famous short story of his called “The Devil and Tom Walker”, all done under his pseudo-name of Geoffrey Crayon. The book wasn’t as well received as he hoped, depressing him, causing him to retreat back to Paris spending most of the year figuring out his finances and coming up with ideas that were never finalized.

In 1826 he was invited to Madrid to help process newly discovered documents about the Spanish conquest of the Americas. He stayed in the Alhambra palace in 1829 that gave him new inspirations. He began working on several books at once, publishing “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus” by 1828 which wound up having 175 editions. These were the first of his to be published with his real name. A year later he published “The Chronicles of the Conquest of Granada” and then in 1831, the “Voyages and Discoveries of the Companions of Columbus”. His works on Columbus were a mixture of fiction and history giving birth to the genre of “historical fiction” or “romantic history”. One of these works was the source of the the myth that the Earth was flat. In 1829 he left for England to become the Secretary to the American Legation in London. He also joined the staff of the American Minister Louis McLane and being assigned the role of “aide de camp”. That year they worked on a trade agreement between the U.S. and the British West Indies, sealing a deal in 1830. It was then he was awarded a medal by the Royal Society of Literature and a honorary doctorate of civil law from Oxford by 1831. He returned to writing again later that year, finishing the “Tales of the Alhambra” that was published in 1832. Mid 1832 he returned to America to assist Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, Charles La Trobe, and Count ALbert-Alexandre de Pourtales on a surveying mission in Indian territory. Through this he became acquainted with novelist John Pendleton Kennedy.

Again hitting accounting issues in his life, he started writing for more income and published “A Tour on the Prairies” which was a grand success. He was asked in 1834 to write a history of the fur trading colony in the American Northwest (Astoria, Oregon) highlighting fur magnate John Jacob Astor as “Astoria” finished in 1836. In 1835 Irving and Astor with help of some others founded the Saint Nicholas Society in New York. He also became friends with Benjamin Bonneville, an explorer who influenced Irving to have interest in the territories beyond the Rockies. He bought out Bonneville’s maps and ntoes, which he used in his book “The Adventures of Captain Bonneville” in 1837. During his time he built his Tarrytown New York home – the Sunnyside. It took him 20 years to get it the way he wanted it, and funding it was his articles sold to Knickerbocker magazine under his names Knickerbocker and Crayon. He mentored and advised many aspiring writers, including Edgar Allen Poe. He was also a forefront initiator to stopping piracy and establishing international copyright law.

In 1842 he hosted Charles Dickens and his wife at Sunnyside during Dicken’s tour. Later that year he was appointed Minister to Spain. He became too busy to write, and was wrapped up in politics and warfare. He fell with a crippling skin condition, and needed to return home in 1846 taking up permanent residence at Sunnyside working on an “Author’s Revised Edition” for George Palmer Putnam and made a deal that guaranteed him 12 percent of the retail price of all copies sold which was a first for that time period. In 1848 John Jacob Astor passed away and Irving became the executor of his estate and the first chairman of the Astor library. He continued writing during this position writing biographies of Oliver Goldsmith in 1849 and a work on the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 1850. By 1855 he published “Wolfert’s Roost” another collection of stories and essays first written for the Knickerbocker, as well as a biography for George Washington within 5 volumes published between 1855-1859. At 9 pm on November 28, 1859 he finished the final volume of the Washington biography, he died of a heart attack in his home of Sunnyside. He was buried in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery on December 1, 1859.


His grave marker was commemorated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1876 poem “In the Churchyard at Tarrytown”. Irving was considered the first American Man of Letters and was the first to earn his living solely by his pen. He was seen to be the one to perfect the American Short Story with his stories firmly placed in the U.S. even though he borrowed from European lore. Many authors however saw him as over-rated, including Edgar Allen Poe who stated “Irving is much over-rated .. and a nice distinction might be drawn between his just and his surreptitious and adventitious reputationbetween what is due to the pioneer solely, and what to the writer”. In addition to nicknaming NYC as “Gotham” used in Marvel comics, he also came up with the expression “The Almighty Dollar”. His pseudo-name “Diedrich Knickerbocker” is often still associated with NY and New Yorkers becoming a common use name amongst New Yorkers. He also changed how Americans celebrate and view Christmas – he inserted a dream sequence in his “History of New York” depicting St. Nicholas soaring over tree-tops in a flying wagon leading to the practice of individuals dressing up as Santa. He portrayed the idealic Xmas customs in a quaint English manor from which many Americans draw in their observation of the customs for the holiday. Chicago made “Irving Park” in his honor and The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation coined the “Irving Trust Corporation” after him as well. He is often quoted by the Flat Earth Society to prove the Earth was flat prior to the discovery of the New World.


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Legend of Sleepy Hollow


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Thomas Baurley

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: )


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.


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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Berkeley Springs State Park, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia


Berkeley Springs State Park
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Located in the heart of downtown and main street Berkeley Springs, West Virginia is a magnificent state park based on the town’s historic mineral spa. Since pre-contact, the waters were visited for their magical, medicinal, and restorative powers. Known to cure and heal digestive disorders, stress, skin disorders, and depression. After contact and colonization of the Americas they were popular because George Washington spent five weeks bathing in them. It is the only state-run spa in the United States and operates under the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Originally the site of a 1750’s health resort, they were taken over Lord Fairfax in 1776, giving birth to the Roman bathhouses. The spring is a cool one, at a constant temperature of 74.3 degrees, originating from the Oriskany Ridgeley sandstone of Warm Springs Ridge flowing with significant amounts of sulphates, nitrates, and carbonates, especially magnesium carbonates upwards of 2,000 US gallons (2,800 to 7,600 L) per minute. Common for bathers to come and visit often as well as visitors filling up their water containers.


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Hill of Uisneach

The Hill of Uisneach / Cnoc Uisnigh or Ushnagh, in the heart of County Westmeath, is a 182 meter high sacred hill that was once considered to be the absolute center of Ireland. Located along the northern side of R390, and 8 kilometers east of Ballymore, next to the village of Loughanavally – it is a pivotal connection of four adjacent townlands – Ushnagh Hill, Mweelra, Rathnew, and Kellybrook; and is the meeting point of the provincial borders of Leinster, Munster, Connacht, Ulster and Midhe. (Midhe was the once separate 5th province) and by so being, has been called the “omphalos” or “mystical navel of Ireland” atop which rests the Cat stone, the Ail na Mreann or “stone of divisions”. (The actual geographic center of Ireland is near the western shore of Lough Ree to the west). The site was seen as the tromping grounds of the tutelary Goddess riu who is seen as the personification of Ireland and is where she legendarily met the invading Milesians and the poet Amergin, after much debate, agreed to give the country her name. The site was most famous for the lighting of the Beltane fires and Druidic ceremonies, of which has been reconstructed with Irelands infamous Festival of Fires Celebration. According to the Lebor Gabla renn (Book of the Takings of Ireland) the first fire was lit here by the Nemedian Druid Mide and ever since, a fire was lit here during the feast of Beltane which supposedly can be seen from the Hill of Tara. According to legend, when those at Tara saw the fires lit at Uisneach, they would light the fires on Tara. According to the Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed that the stones of Stonehenge were brought to Britain from the Hill of Uisneach. Some say the hill is also Riba or Raiba that was identified by Ptolemy (Ptolemaeus), the Egyptian/Greek astronomer when he wrote Geographia in 140 C.E. The site is rather large, spread out over two square kilometers including holy wells, wells, enclosures, barrows, megalithic tomb, and two ancient roads.


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Viking Art Stone, Borre, Norway

Viking Art/Rune Stone, Borre Viking Marked, Borre, Norway

The Viking Art Stone
Borrehaugene National Park, Borre, Norway

In the Borrehaugene National Park lies a modern artistic replication of a Viking runic stone as one walks towards the grave mounds. The Park is home to the largest number of burial mounds from the Viking age – which were contemporaneous to the famous boat graves at Oseberg and the trading centre Kaupang in Tjlling. It is suggested that this burial site was used for burying Norwegian kings descending from the Ynglinge dynasty. I unfortunately could not find any information about who created this piece of art on the boulder, if the boulder was added to the park or was a currently standing one, and what is the age of the painting. It does however look very modern.

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Borre Viking Marked


Borre Viking Marked
Viking Market / Festival, Borre, Borrekaupangen – the historical Borre Park, Norway: Sunday, 8th July 2012.

An amazing trek across the Irish and North Seas, through four countries, three days to reach, three days to embrace, and three days to return … I was taken captive by a Jorvik Viking from York and sailed to this impressive market illustrating the Viking Way of life. It is reknown as one of Norway’s best Viking Festivals and Markets. Focusing on vending, fun, games, entertainment, and ancient craft – it is definitely a highlight not to miss for any history buff. It has been running since 1994 and one of the largest in Scandinavia, with over 12,000 visitors and 500 vikings participating annually. From July 6th-8th, 2012, it was held in Borrekaupangen – the historical Borre Park, Norway, at the base of Viking burial mounds, near the Viking museum, along the Oslo Fjord. The smells, sounds, activities, and environment of all things Viking was had by all, celebrating one of the more impressive eras of Nordic history. Unfortunately I missed the “Vikings only” “kaupang” that preceded the public market occuring all week long involving learning and teaching of dying wool, making shoes, weapons, and other Viking crafts. There were several hundred viking tents with well over 700 vikings from all over Europe – Scandinavia, Ireland, England, Iceland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, France, and many other places. The village was bustling with activity from artisans, musicians, fire performers, jugglers, battles, slave markets, black smiths, cloth dying, and craft creation. Authentic reproductions from the Viking age was of high importance, as each craftsman or artisan researched their wares, art, and creativity based on the same materials, equipment, tools, and weapons that were used in the Viking Age. It is a reflection of the Viking way of life, with everyone wearing the clothes of the period, cooking food over fires, selling their commodities, and doing “Viking business”. I myself, an archaeologist, participated by investigating the use of ceremonial and war body paints based on the colors of the time from woad, madder, indigo, and other spectrums created by what the era produced. Designs were tricky especially as the public wandered through the day with modern kids wanting modern designs and trying to lure them to the designs of the day. The musicians, storytellers, performance art, and ritual to commemorate the burials nearby were fantastic. Viking warfare, battles, and re-enactments of games, feuds, and commerce were stunning. Lots of activities were had for the children. Friday saw a public marking running from 2 pm until midnight, Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm, with a grand feast for all the Vikings Saturday night. Parties all night, and the market running from 11 am until 6 pm on sunday. This event was more than stunning, it was phenomenal … Rating 5 stars out of 5.

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Staurolite: Fairy crosses/stones

We often have a large selection of faerie crosses in our found treasures collection you can obtain from us, view them here:

Fairy Stone / Fairy Cross / Staurolite

Localities: Fairy Stone State Park, Virginia, USA; North Georgia, USA; Little Falls, Minnesota, USA; Taos, New Mexico, USA; Switzerland; Russia; Australia; Brazil; France; Italy; Scotland.

Description: Popular to its folklore and legends, this stone has a State Park in Virginia named after it as it is home to its namesake “fairy stones”. It is also the official stone of the state of Georgia in the USA. Most commonly shaped like Celtic crosses or the St. Andrew’s cross, as an “X” or as a “T” shaped Roman cross, and square Maltese crosses. Color of the Staurolite varies to the region it comes from but can be dark brow, brownish black, grey, or reddish brown.

Geology:Staurolite are a combination of silica, iron, and aluminum. A silicate mineral, with the Chemical formula of Fe2+2Al9O6(SiO4)4(O,OH)2, and a Strunz classification of 9.AF.30, possessing a monclinic prismatic crystal symmetry. It’s H-M symbol is (2/m), with a Space group of C 2/m, and a unit cell a = 7.86 , b = 16.6 , c = 5.65 ; ? = 90.45; Z=2. Coloring ranges from yellowish brown, rarely blue, dark reddish brown to blackish brown, pale golden yellow in thin sections with a subvitreous to resinous luster, white to gray streaks, transparent to opague diaphaneity. Specific gravity is 3.74 – 3.83 meas. 3.686 calc. Twinning is commonly as 60 twins, less common as 90 cruciform twins. Subconchoidal fracture, brittle tenacity, mosh scale hardness of 7-7.5. Common to have penetration twinning, or a characteristic cross-shape. It occurs with almandine garnet, micas, kyanite; as well as albite, biotite, and sillimanite in gneiss and schist of regional metamorphic rocks. It is only found in rocks once subjected to great heat and pressure. A rare mineral occurence in nature, it is only found in certain areas of the world in the fairy cross or celtic cross shapes. Each are unique and never are identical. True Staurolite crosses are hard enough to scratch glass.

Folklore: Named after the Greek word “Stauros” for “cross”, they are commonly known as “fairy stones” or “fairy crosses”. According to European and Christianity influenced Native American legend on the state park website, “hundreds of years before Chief Powhatan’s reign, the fairies were dancing around a magical spring of water, playing with naiads and wood nymphs, when a elfin messenger arrived from a city far away bringing the news of the death of Christ. When these creatures of the forest heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept, as their tears fell upon the earth they crystallized into beautiful crosses”. During the first meeting of John Smith and Pocahontas, it is said the Indian princess gave John Smith a good luck charm made out of a “fairy cross”. Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart used them during the crusades to heal the wounded. Some say these are the tears of the Cherokee who wept over the loss of their homeland during the exodus on the “Trail of Tears”. Others talk of an ancient race of mountain faeries who were dancing at their favorite meeting places, and upon finding out that the “Great Creator” had died, shed tears, so moved, were crushed in heart and cried, as they wept their tears crystallized into the “fairy crosses”. Others say that during the defeat of the Tuatha de Danann and other faerie races when they were forced under-ground to live in the hills, the faeries around the world shed tears, made of Iron to represent the Iron Age destroying their race, in the shapes of crosses as an omen of the peopling that would destroy the planet next.

    Ay the charms of the fairy stone make you blessed
    through the days of labor and nights of rest
    Where ever you stay, where ever you go,
    May the beautiful flowers of the good Fairies Grow.
    ~ Little Falls Minnesota web page

Well known that Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, Thomas A. Edison, Colonel Charles Lindbergh, and other prominent people carried one of these on their person(s).

Magical uses: For centuries these were believed to protect the wearer from sickness, accidents, disaster, and witchcraft. Used to find lost objects. Placed under the pillow to help induce lucid dreaming and astral travel. Used as amulets for good luck. Used to aid stress, anxiety, fear, considered soothing energy, and helpful with grounding. Many believe they embody an energy that will help you make contact with faeries or nature spirits. Some believe wearing the stones will help one stop smoking. Astrologically associated with Pisces. Associated with the base chakra. Healing qualities, good luck, rituals, protection, fever, defeat of malaria, stress, depression, addictive personality traits, time management, smoking cessation.

We often have a large selection of faerie crosses in our found treasures collection you can obtain from us, view them here:

By Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions and Research Facility.

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Charleston Therapeutic Massage

Charleston Therapeutic Massage

* 310 Broad St, Ste 8, Charleston, SC 29401 * (843) 723-7005 * *

Very relaxing and healing experience as I found a massage therapy centre to fit exactly what I needed. As a fellow massage therapist, its often hard to find someone who can perfectly release your aches and pains, finding the right “sync” within your muscle structure, and provide the relaxation once needs after a cross-country trip from Burning Man in Nevada as I was about to fly off and move to Dublin, Ireland. I had quite a full muscles pulled that summer doing lots of building for the Irish Core Effigy at the Burn, and this pitstop in my travels has destined me to return to Charleston in the near future for many more healing sessions. Reiki, massage, and relaxation all-in-one. I’m even considering utilizing their weight loss and fitness program services in the near future. I couldn’t rate any other massage therapist better than Bill at Charleston Therapeutic Massage. If you’re in Charleston, don’t miss this hotspot for total relaxation and healing. Rating: 5 stars out of 5 ~ Leaf McGowan. Visited October 2011. [rating:5]

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Tree Leaves’ Vardo: The 1984 Pace Arrow (2005-Present)

It was in 2005 that my boss saw snow collecting above me and Liz’s tents while doing field work at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site as we weren’t about to stay in the “hanta house” infested ranch house most of the field crew was staying in. At least with a tent, we could control what entered. As my boss originally owned this wonderful caravan, he was primarily working back up in Colorado Springs and never using it. On occasion he’d let field crew sleep in it while working down in the field to get some space away from others. He’d use it on occasion when down in the field. Then one cold winter day, he offered to sell it to me. I bought it and it then became my “field headquarters” while doing Archaeology down at Pinon.


Years later, after the army stripped away the Directorate of Environmental Compliance and Management and moved the archaeologists into the Directorate of Public Works, many changes lay ahead for lodging opportunities for the archaeologists and wildlife officers taking care of the resources at Pinon. The field houses were deemed “un-inhabitable” and the field crews were no longer allowed to stay overnight on the training grounds. Therefore it came time for me to move my RV from Red Rocks ranch. Rain storms and flooding we had to fight when moving the RV that weekend we went down. But once on the dry interstate highway, it was smooth sailing from Trinidad to Colorado Springs. This Archaeological bunkhouse was now to change definition … it became the festival headquarters for The Tree Leaves Oracle and Folk Fellowship, Pirate Relief, and Technogypsie Productions. It has about 60,000 miles and hasn’t been used by us much as it gets between 8-10 mpg. told it only gets 6 mpg if towing a car. We’ve taken it from Trinidad to Colorado Springs, From Colorado Springs to Denver, to Rocky Mountain National Park, and on a few outings.


As Pirate Relief, Tree Leaves, and Technogypsie Productions went abroad exploring the globe from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Australia … The Vardo became a storage unit for the faeries, art, wares of the companies while abroad still located in Colorado.

Potentially Available for Sale

Since most of our world explorations are taking place outside of Colorado and mainly consist of international locations, we are contemplating selling this piece of our history and memory. Those interested should contact technogypsie (at) gmail . com with an offer. Serious enquiries only. It can be viewed First week of September 2012.

Known problems:
It has a small fuel leak in the rubber seal where the fuel line connects into the gas tank (above it). A mechanic friend once temporarily fixed this (without dropping the tank) for a case of beer. That fix lasted 6 months. He did say, it was temporary fix, and to properly fix it, the gas tank would need to be drained to drop the tank to properly fix. Of course, it has over $100 worth of fuel in its 1/2 full tank, so have been waiting til the tank worked its way down naturally to fix. Supposedly an easy self-fix for those mechanically inclined. Otherwise mechanics have quoted approximately $200 to fix.

The water pipes (shower/faucets) had hard water once running through them which caused leak(s) somewhere in the water lines. Not sure what it would involve to fix that. Since we’ve owned it, we haven’t used the water as hadn’t really the call for it.

Battery might need to be replaced. Since its been in storage for over a year, there is a good chance the battery is dead (though it has been disconnected when put in storage).


Master bedroom in back with a pull out privacy screen (Queen bed) with cabinets and storage. Side bathroom with toilet and sink, medicine cabinet, and under sink cabinet and drawer. Across from bathroom is a shower stall. Next to shower is a clothing cabinet and storage drawers above central heat/furnace. Kitchenette has microwave above hood range gas stove with 4 burners, and a oven. Storage cabinet and 3 drawers underneath the sink. Half size (5 cuft?) mini fridge across from kitchenette. Living room has two chairs with table that can be packed up for more floor room. Across from table/chairs is a fold out sofa couch that can turn to a bed to sleep 2. Fold-out bunk above driver/passenger seat that sleeps 2 kids. Total sleeps: (6) = 4 adults and 2 children comfortably. Central air conditioning in roof unit/ controls in ceiling interface. Generator on outside, with awning over door that folds out. Storage cabinets on outside of RV. Ladder to go to top of RV on back.

Its a 1984 Pace Arrow, 27-30′, and is most similar to these various RV’s (1984 Fleetwood Coachmen Pace Arrow): 1986 Fleetwood Pace Arrow, 1986 Coachmen, 1986 Pace Arrow for sale, 1986 Pace Arrow for Sale (Austin), and 1986 Pace Arrow Valuation: Nada Guide (to the best we can remember afar what it has).

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Ossian’s Grave (Cloghbrack/Cushendall, Northern Ireland)

Ossian’s Grave
* Cloghbrack * Cushendall * Northern Ireland *

The fabled site of where the wandering poet, bard, and seer “Oisin” is believed to be buried. Atop a hill overlooking the valley and down into the Glen as well as over the Channel to be able to see Scotland on a clear day, the location for this small megalithic tomb is spectacular. The Tomb faces East, South-east next to an oval cairn dedicated to poet John Hewitt. Oisin’s Grave / Ossian’s tomb is a small megalithic semi-circular court opening into a two-chambered burial gallery. The back chamber is composed of two sidestones at the southwest, a back or sidestone at the northeast, with a pair of transverse jambs higher than the other stones as if they may have been originally designed as portals. The Forechamber is in very poor shape with only 2 sidestones intact with a pair of portal stones. Within the chamber lies a fallen stone that may have been the displaced roof-stone. The large court dominates the tomb, but additional stones suggest that the court may have belonged to two periods, relating to a back chamber and subsequent fore-portals.

A great irish poet, John Hewitt was very impressed with Ossians grave and the megalithic tomb that exists on this hill. So much that he wrote a poem about the site called Oisins Grave: the horned cairn at Lubitavish, Co. Antrim. Because of this, a stone cairn in Hewitts memory was constructed here in 1989 commemorating him as the Poet of the Glens.

    We stood and pondered on the stones
    whose plan displays their pattern still;
    the small blunt arc, and, sill by sill,
    the pockets stripped of shards and bones.
    The legend has it, Ossian lies

    beneath this landmark on the hill,
    asleep till Fionn and Oscar rise
    to summon his old bardic skill
    in hosting their last enterprise.

    This, stricter scholarship denies,
    declares this megalithic form
    millennia older than his time
    if such lived ever, out of rime
    was shaped beneath Sardinian skies,
    was coasted round the capes of Spain,
    brought here through black Biscayan storm,
    to keep mens hearts in mind of home
    and its tall Sun God, wise and warm,
    across the walls of toppling foam,
    against this twilight and the rain.

    I cannot tell; would ask no proof;
    let either story stand for true,
    as heart or head shall rule. Enough
    that, our long meditation done,
    as we paced down the broken lane
    by the dark hillsides holly trees,
    a great white horse with lifted knees
    came stepping past us, and we knew
    his rider was no tinkers son.

Official information:

Related Documents…

ossians1.jpg (215.0 KB)
ossians2.jpg (259.5 KB)
More Information about these Documents…Opens in new window


SMR Number ANT 019:006 Additional Information…
Council MOYLE
County ANT
Grid Ref D2129028460
Protection State Care and Scheduled
Parish LAYD
General Periods [description of Periods]Opens in new window
Specific Type Specific Period
BORLASE,W. 1897, I, 262-3
GRAY,W. JRSAI 16, 1883-4, 360
GRAY,W. P.B.N.F.C., 1883-4, APP.236 NO.6
O’LAVERTY,J. 1887, VOL.IV, 542
PSAMNI 1940, 9
UJA 13, 1907, 84, PLAN & PHOTO

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Tiveragh Fairy Hill (Cushendall)


The Tiveragh Fairy Hill
Cushendall, Northern Ireland

Legend and lore has it that this very broad sided hill with steep sides overlooking the small village of Cushendall in Northern Ireland is the gateway to Tir na nOg. A place very well known locally to be haunted by faeries, leprechauns, elves, and pixies … this giant hill is a natural fortress all in its own and easily seen to be claimed as a stronghold by the fae. Fairy tales mention many stories about it rising up on pillars during the twilight evening with glimmering meriment of faeries frolicking and dining. Many believe that the wee folk live in this hill that is accessed by a nearby cave. As the warning goes, if ye are mortal, regardless of how appeasing the faerie music may sound, if you wander within, you’ll never be seen again on this plane of existence. Time holds a whole different rhythm in Faerieworlds.

We however, of fae persuasion, did venture up the hill at the turn of twilight just as the sun was going down. We spied the hill with visions of faerie impressions while across the valley atop Ossian’s Grave – the Megalithic tomb believed to be the burial spot of the fabled poet and bard Oisin. Now Oisin was lured into fae, into Tir na nOg where he lived until he requested to return to the land of mortals to visit his family. Of course due to faerie time, he came back several hundred years later to find them all gone and deceased. He fell off his faerie steed and became a blind old man wandering these fields eventually dying. If the faerie tale is true, this would be the hill he would have rode out of and across the valley would have been his grave overlooking it … curiouser and curiouser. Midway along the way up the base of the hill is one of the most magnificent Faerie Thorn Trees I’ve ever encountered. As usual with these faerie hills, I always find a wee hole just big enough for the Victorian sized fae to enter within, usually lined with heavy rocks, making it look peculiarly like its a miniature mine rather than a animal hole. We climbed atop as the sun was going down, empowered by the feelings of the ancient ones. Archaeologically though, this may be a massive hillfort. I’m looking for those records and will post my findings here.

    On Tiv-ra Hill near Cushendall,
    I heard a commotion behind a wall,
    I stopped and looked over, and boys-o-boys!

    Now what do you think was making the noise?
    Twas a Hurley match – and may I choke -
    It was two wee teams of the Fairy folk
    That was rippling’ and tearing’ and weltin’ away
    In the light of the moon was bright as day.

    And their playing pitch was hardly as big
    As my Uncle Barney’s potato rig;
    And me there watchin’ them puck and clout
    At the back o’ the wall with my eyes stuck out.

    When all at once, like the squeal of a hare,
    A wee voice shouted, “Who’s that up there?”
    And a bit off a thing about nine – inch tall
    Came climbing up to the top of the wall.

    And he stood there; he stood about pot -size
    With his two wee fingers up at my eyes,
    And its God’s own truth that I’m speakin’ mind ye,
    ”Get out o’ that,” says he, “or Ill blind ye!”

    Aye that’s what he said, “I’ll blind ye,” says he,
    And by Jing what he said was enough for me,
    Did I run? Aye surely; I didnt miss -
    And I haven’t seen Tiveragh from that to this.

    ~ H.Browne

    The Fairy Hill Tiveragh is a fairy hill and near to Cushendall,
    And nobody goes there at night, no nobody at all.
    The hill is small, the sides are steep.
    And I have heard it said That flickering lights go in and out While everyones in bed.
    And on the top two hawthorns grow, A white one and a red.
    ~ John Irvine Desmond

~ Yours truly, Leaf McGowan

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Stonehenge Festival


Stonehenge Festival, a set on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
The Summer Solstice Stonehenge Celebration at Stonehenge, Salisbury, England, UK. June 20-21, 2012.

To learn more about Stonehenge, visit my page at:

In the near future, photos and articles relating to the 2012 festival will be posted here (estimated July 2012)

Photos by Leaf McGowan and/or Thomas Baurley. purchase and/or use permission can be obtained here:

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Cirque Du Soleil’s “Alegra” (Dublin, Ireland) ~ April 25-29, 2012

Allegria - Cirque du soleil
Allegria - Cirque du soleil

Allegria – Cirque du soleil
– April 25-29, 2012. Dublin, Ireland *

Coming soon to Dublin is the world infamous monumental “Cirque Du Soleil” with their astonishing troupe and show “Alegra”. It’s a mood and a state of mind after which the show is named. Coming from the Spanish term for “jubilation” the troupe will show power and the handing down of it through time with artistic demonstrations of the evolution of ancient monarchies to modern democracies, old age, youth, and the cycles of time. With the King’s fools, minstrels, beggars, old aristocrats, and children making up the show’s universe speckled with clowns, they come again to stun their audiences. I’ve been fortunate to experience this amazing show of acrobats, music, performance, arts, stilt-walking, fire art, juggling, comedy, clowning, and breathe death-defying feats. Mesmerized by the costumes, stage design, arts, illusions, super-human body twisting and endurance … I’ve been addicted to the Cirque since I first saw them in the early 1990’s at their home arena in Quebec. Definitely a not to miss show when they come to town. Unfortunately we don’t have the funds to see this show while it hits Dublin this year, but for those that can afford it, definitely go out for a time of your life. You will not only be amazed and whirl-winded, but tingled to sheer ecstasy. If for some reason we do find a way to go via winning tickets or being gifted with them, we’ll definitely add on to this review with a stunning report. ~ Tom Baurley

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Steampunk Art & Performance Snippets from Dublin’s St Patricks Day Parade 2012

The Saturday March 17, 2012 St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade in Dublin, Ireland. Video clips of various Steampunk themed art and floats presented in the Parade.

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The Amsterdam Miracle; Begijnhof and Chapel (Holland)

Begijnhof and Chapel
*Zandvoorterweg 78 * 2111 GZ Aerdenhout * Tel. 023-5246229 * Fax. 023-5440081 * info: * website:
Amsterdam, Holland
It was here, at the Begijnhof that a few days before Palm Sunday on March 15, 1345 a sick man in the Kalverstraat took the Sacrament of the sick from the local priest. The man vomited up the host, which was caught in a basin and thrown on the fire where it “appeared” to “float above the flames”. It was an amazing miracle. A woman then stretched out her hand into the flames to seize the host from the fire and put it in a case. She remained unburnt and unharmed from putting her hand in the fire when touching the host. The priest, who was from the Oude Kerk was sent for and took the host back to the “Old Church”. The next day a woman in the house in the Kalverstraat opened the case and saw that the host had magically transported back. She sent for the priest again, and again he took the magic host back to the Old Church. The next day for a third time, the host transported back to the case in the sick man’s room. The miracle of the bread that didn’t burn and wouldn’t leave the house became known widespread. Again, the priest took the host, but this time returning to the Old Church with a solemn procession. The next year the Bishop Jan van Arkel declared this host to be a genuine miracle. Two years later, a church was built on the very spot where the miracle took place. As people joined a procession to take the holy sacrement through the streets of Amsterdam in mid-march to celebrate the Miracle. The Holy Stead Chapel (The Ter Heylighen Stede) was consecrated by the vicar-general of Bishop Jan van Arkel, the Bishop of Utrecht in 1347.

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The Chronicles of Sir Thomas Rhymer Oisin Leaf 04.28.11: Tracing Captain Cooks Footsteps


Travels Down Under:
Following Captain Cooks Footsteps


Thursday, April 28, 2011

* Brisbane, Queensland, Australia *



Early to rise, Sir Thomas Leaf arose after a semi-restful nights sleep on an air mattress in his Couchsurfing hosts home in Brisbanes Artsy West End. It was a nice day and a good morning for his walk to work. A brief snack of his hosts gift of Tim Tams and a stuffed pastry from a stand along his journey as he took on a 30 minute commute to volunteer as a tour guide for the HMB Endeavour while in Brisbane. He enjoyed people-watching and the artistic scenery as he made his way across Victoria bridge and through …. [continued link below …]


The Chronicles of Sir Thomas Rhymer Oisin Leaf 04.28.11: Tracing Captain Cooks Footsteps.

The latest installment of The Chronicles … now at its new site!

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