Category Archives: Christianity

Spirits and Entities, spirituality of Alcohol

Spirits and Entities of Alcohol
by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions

It always amazes me how the world really doesn’t understand the “root” of all things, nor pay attention to the “history” of various items or substances that they use occasionally or daily in life. I strongly believe it is very important to know the “root” and “makeup” of anything one puts in their bodies. Regardless of whether one is religious, spiritual, or scientific – the role of religion and spirituality in all aspects of life has some intriguing elements that should not be ignored. The proverb “You are what you eat”; has a lot of elements of truth in that saying because what you put in your body affects it chemically, physically, mentally, emotionally, and yes, spiritually. I won’t debate between science and religion in this article and for those readers that are atheist and don’t believe in spirituality – while reading this – simply ignore the spiritual overtones of this article and focus on the chemical aspect of what is being put in your body and understanding the elements you allow into your temple. For those readers that are avid drinkers – think about the drink you are putting in your body and go for higher quality substances as one really should consider changing to “organic” and “triple distilled” spirits instead, and for the spiritual user – know the entity or “spirit” you are inviting into your being.

This is not a negative article on drugs, substances, or alcohol, but rather a spiritual understanding of why we use them, the benefits and the dangers associated with them. Alcohol use needs to be practiced responsibly, for abusing it can lead to serious consequences. There really is more to “being under the influence” than you can rationally understand. Historically and spiritually, in all world cultures and religions, in folklore and mythology, every substance, every herb, every mineral, and every plant has a “spirit” or “entity” or “deity” assigned or associated with it. Drugs – Alcohol, barbiturates, hallucinogens, chemicals, or what-not are made of compositions of plants, herbs, minerals, and living matter. Drugs are medicines as well as poisons, with positive and negative effects on a living host that ingest them. Side effects from these drugs create various moods, effects on the body, mind, spirit, and persona. Many of these effects are utilized for spiritual visions, trances, omens, oracles, prophecies, messages, or communication with the beyond in the realms of religion. When abused, they often consume the body and the soul and will create a degradation of a being. Regardless of the substance : alcohol, marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, mDMA, barbiturates, etc. – Each substance has its own entity or spirit that culture attributes certain persona and effects to. It is pretty important to understand what entities you are dealing with, and how to gain advantage from a temporary relationship with them, and how to avoid them taking advantage of you.

For this article, I’m focusing on “spirits” or “alcohol”, as it is the most common grouping of entities that the mass population deals with. Why is “Alcohol” given the name “spirits” in the annals of history? The words “alembic” and “alcohol” are metaphors for “aqua vitae” (Life Water) and “Spirit”, often refer to a distilled liquid that came from magical explorations in Middle Eastern alchemy. “Alcohol” comes from the Arabic “al-kuhl” or “al-ku??l”, which means “Body Eating Spirit”, and gives the root origin to the English term for “ghoul”. In Middle Eastern Folklore, a “ghoul” is a “evil demon thought to eat human bodies”, either as stolen corpses or as children.

Since the root of the name “alcohol” is related to the concept of “body eating spirit”, this is also one of the early roots to traditional taboos on imbibing alcohol in the beginnings of Islam and similar prohibition faiths. In Islam, consumption of any alcohol is punishable with 80 lashes. To many “Pagan” or “Heathen” faiths, the imbibing of spirits and the temporary relationship with these entities gives definition to the “aqua vita” beliefs or “life water” or “connection / communication with spirits” that can be quite beneficial. In fact, faiths that had its roots in Paganism, such as Christianity and Islam, have carried over beneficial beliefs about the consumption or imbibation of alcohol.


As Middle Eastern alchemists ingested alcohol they reported that their senses deadened and this is why they saw the elixirs produced as possessing “body taking” qualities. This is where the Europeans are believed to have derived the use of “spirits” for “alcohol”. What is ingested affects a living body spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Some believe it will affect the soul as well and that it is all about relationships. Some faiths and cultures have credible valid positive reasons to abstain from drugs and alcohol, while others have equal reasons to promote them. Many cultures see drugs and alcohol as negative, but if one looks into the history of these elementals, there exists many positive elements in their usage, especially when balanced with spirituality and religion. Many cultures and faiths traditionally ingest something in order to commune with the Divine, God/desses, and/or spirits. Whether the wine and bread of Catholic Mass, or the trance induction of peyote with South American Shamans, the use of these substances have a honored tradition throughout history. Shamanic use of trance-inducing drugs are not considered destructive, but rather gifts of the Gods that allow the body and spirit to commune with higher planes of existence. Peyote, ayahuasca, salvia divinorum, absinthe, psilocybin, and other substances are assigned to induce spirit communication, clairvoyance, and the ability to heal. Most forms of Christianity consume alcohol as part of everyday life and nearly always use “wine” (fermented grape juice) in their central rite with the Eucharist or “Lord’s Supper”. The beliefs surrounding this practice state that Christian Tradition and/or the Bible teaches that “alcohol” is a “gift from God that makes life more joyous, but that overindulgence leading to drunkenness is a sin”. The key of Christianity is “moderation”. 19th century Protestants attempted to move from this earlier position of thought and pursuing “abstention” or “prohibition” of alcohol believing its use to be a “sin” even to the extreme of a sip (i.e. Mormonism). The Bible repeatedly refers to alcohol in use and poetic expression, and while mainly ambivalent to it, still states them to be both a “blessing from God that brings merriment” and a “potential danger that can be unwisely and sinfully abused”. “Wine” is often portrayed in daily life as a symbol of abundance and physical blessing, and negatively as a “mocker” with beer being a “brawler”, and drinking a cup of strong wine to the dregs and getting drunk can be presented as a symbol of God’s judgement and wrath. As puritans often spoke in their sermons that “Drink is in itself a good creature of God, and to be received with thankfulness, but the abuse of drink is from Satan; the wine is from God, but the drunkard is from the Devil”. Bible warns that alcohol can hinder moral discretion, and that alcohol can be corrupting of the body and a substance that will impair judgement and distract one from God’s will of life.

While the Ancient Egyptians promoted beer and wine, they did warn of taverns and excessive drinking. However the Greek Dionysus cult promoted intoxication as a means to get closer to their Deity. Macedonians viewed intemperance as a sign for masculinity and were well known for their drunkenness. Alexander the Great was a proponent to the Cult of Dionysus and known for his inebriation. Ancient and Modern Roman celebrations on March 15th of Anna Parenna celebrates the Goddess of the Returning Year by crossing the Tiber River and “go abroad” into Etruria and picnic in flimsy huts made of branches, drink as much alcohol as they could, as it was thought that one would live for as many years as cups of alcohol one could drink on this date. Once finished they would return to their homes in Rome. Most Pagan religions encourage alcohol use and some pursue intoxication promoted as a means of fostering fertility. To Pagan faiths it is believed to increase sexual desire and to make it easier to approach another person for sex. Norse paganism considered alcohol to be the sap of Yggdrasil and drunkenness as an important fertility rite in this religion. Alcohol was also used for medicinal purposes in biblical times as an oral anesthetic, topical cleanser, soother, and digestive aid. Problems associated with industrialization and rapid urbanization were also attributed and blamed on alcohol including urban crime, poverty, high infant mortalities, though its likely that gross overcrowding and unemployment was the actual root cause. The modern world then started blaming personal, social, religious, and moral problems on alcohol. This led to modern movements of prohibitionism. A typical Buddhist view on Alcohol use is as a shortcut for the pursuit of happiness as it produces a short term euphoria or happiness and this is the reason millions of people drink it repeatedly every day. Buddha teaches alcohol as well as all drugs, lead to mis judgement, blocks rational thinking, and therefore preached against amongst its disciples even though in some Buddhist disciplines it is used as offerings to Deity and spirits. Islam, Jainism, the Bahai’ Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, the United Pentecostal Church International, Theravada, most Mahayana schools of Buddhism, some Protestant denominations of Christianity, and some sects of Hinduism – forbid, discourage, or restrict the drinking of alcoholic beverages for various reasons.

Science tells us alcohol releases dopamine into the brain, stimulating the pleasure sensation. There are a lot of “expectations” with alcohol, and many of these will still operate in the absence of actual consumption of alcohol, when the individual believes they are consuming alcohol. Research in North America shows that men tend to become more sexually aroused when they think they have been drinking alcohol, even when they have not been drinking it. Women report feeling more sexually aroused when they falsely believe the beverages they have been drinking contained alcohol. Men have show to become more aggressive in laboratory studies when they are drinking only tonic water but believe it contains alcohol, they also become less aggressive when they believe they are drinking only tonic water, but are actually drinking tonic water that contains alcohol.

In Magical Views, the use of alcohol, especially in ritual and rite, is a very powerful vehicle for altering states of consciousness, communicating with spirits, Deities, Ancestors, and entities. It aids in relaxation for ritual. It frees the mind of responsibility and control, and is a great aid to those very logical individuals that have to be “in control”. However it can be detrimental to those who have a lot of natural psychic or medium-ship abilities that have been raised in families or cultures that demonized or invalidated these gifts. As alcohol and drugs impair the left brain first (logical) and enhances right brain activity (where spirit communication and psychic abilities reside), thereby increasing psychic or mystical experiences while under the influence. The affects are dependent on the individual and their type, as it can be dangerous with some people – those susceptible to possession and toying by spirits, excessive drinking is similar to “throwing open the saloon door and calling out to a crowd of alcoholics – ‘Bar is open, drinks are on (in) me’”, which will attract lower astral entities to enter the body and soul to experience the alcohol vicariously through the person. It is easier for spirits to influence one when they are intoxicated, some of which are very “low life” or “demonic” entities. (Many are good and powerful, including Deities like Dionysus, Maeve, etc. but usually associate with the particular elixir being imbibed) Mixing of “Spirits” can be dangerous and very toxic on the body and spirit, as the doorway to the soul can be an orgy of spirits that the person cannot handle, often leading to alcohol poisoning, sickness, illness, and/or death.

Historical: Ancient China had wine jars in Jiahu dating to 7,000 B.C.E. and considered a spiritual food rather than a material food with high importance in religious life. Neolithic wine making was found to date from 5400-5000 B.C.E. as archaeologists uncovered a yellowish residue at Hajji Firuz Tepe in a jar that analysis determined came from wine making. Early brewing dates in Egypt showing alcohol was presided over by the God Osiris. Chalcolithic Era Indus Valley civilizations in India date from 3000-2000 B.C.E. with Hindu Ayurvedic texts describing beneficent uses. Babylonians in 2700 B.C.E. worshiped a wine Goddess and other wine deities. Xenophon (431-351 BCE) and Plato (429-347 BCE) praised moderate use of wine as beneficial to health and happiness, but were critical of drunkenness. Hippocrates (460-370 BCE) praised it for its medicinal properties (wine). Some Native American peoples developed an alcoholic beverage called Pulque or Octli as early as 200 C.E. that was used for visions, religion, and prophecy. The first distillations of spirits came from the Medieval Period, with the School of Salerno in 12th century, and fractional distillation developed by Tadeo Alderotti in 13th century. Distillation of whiskey first performed in Scotland and Ireland for centuries, and the first written confirmation of whiskey comes from Ireland in 1405, Scotland in 1494.

Alcoholic beverages are drinks that contain “ethanol” (a.k.a. “alcohol”). They are divided into three classes: beers, wines, and spirits. “Spirits” often related to distilled beverages low in sugars and containing a minimum of 35% alcohol by volume. These are often referred to as Gin, Vodka, and Rum. Alcohol is legally consumed in most countries, though regulated by over 100 countries in terms of production, sale, and consumption. In most countries and religions, alcohol plays a major role in social events, rituals, and traditional celebrations. Alcohol is a psychoactive drug with a depressant effect that reduces attention and slows reaction speeds. It can be addictive and those addicted are considered to be under the sickness called “alcoholism”. Science shows that alcohol is beneficial in moderate amounts, especially a glass of wine drunk daily as it aids in digestion. If food is eaten before alcohol consumption, it reduces alcohol absorption, and the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the blood is increased. The mechanism for the faster alcohol elimination appears to be related to types of food especially those with alcohol-metabolizing enzymes and liver blood flow. Consumption of alcoholic drinks during Medieval times was a method used to avoid water-borne diseases such as cholera as alcohol kills bacteria.

Beer:
is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, and the third most popular drink after water and tea. It is produced by brewing and fermenting starches derived from cereal grains – most commonly by means of malted barley, though sometimes with wheat, maize, or rice. There are two main types of beer: Lager and Ale. Ale is classified into varieties such as pale ale, stout, and brown ale. Most beer is flavored with hops adding bitterness and as a natural preservative. Beer is usually 4-6% alcohol by volume, but can be less than 1% or more than 20%. It is a stipend of the drinking culture of most nations, and has social traditions such as beer festivals, pub culture, pub crawls, and pub games. The Christian Bible refers to beer as a brawler. Medieval monks were allotted about five liters of beer per day – allowed to drink beer but not wine during fasts. Many Saints and Deities were associated with Beer, such as: St. Adrian, the patron saint of Beer; St. Amand, patron saint of brewers, barkeepers, and wine merchants; and The Ancient Egyptians believed Osiris gave their people “Beer” as he invented it and it was a necessity of life, brewed in the home on an daily basis. In Ancient Egypt, Cellars and wine presses often had a God who was associated with each of the 17 types of beer they created. These were used for pleasure, nutrition, medicine, ritual, remuneration, and funerary purposes. Babylonians often offered beer and wine to their Deities as offerings.

Wine: Alcoholic beverages distilled after fermentation of non-cereal sources like grapes, fruits, or honey. It involves a longer complete fermentation process and a long aging process (months or years) that create an alcohol content of 9-16% by volume. Sparkling wines are made by adding a small amount of sugar before bottling, creating a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The Bible refers to wine as a symbol of abundance and physical blessing, bringer and concomitant of joy, especially with nourishment and feasting; as well negatively as a mocker. It is commonly drunk with meals, as the Old Testament prescribed it for use in sacrificial rituals and festal celebrations. Jesus’ first miracle was making copious amounts of wine at the wedding feast of Cana where he instituted the ritual of the Eucharist at the Last Supper during a Passover celebration that “wine” is a “new covenant in his blood”. Under the rule of Rome, the average adult male who was a citizen drank an estimated liter (1/4 of a gallon) of wine a day. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican monk and the “Doctor Angelicus” of the Catholic Church said that moderation in wine is sufficient for salvation but that for certain persons perfection requires abstinence and this was dependent upon their circumstance. Wine has been associated or assigned to various Saints, Deities, and Spirits such as St. Amand, patron saint of brewers, barkeepers, and wine merchants; St. Martin, the so-called patron saint of wine; St. Vincent, and patron saint of vintners. In Ancient Egypt, Cellars and wine presses often had a God who was associated with each of the 24 varieties of wine they created. These were used for pleasure, nutrition, medicine, ritual, remuneration, and funerary purposes. Babylonians in 2700 B.C.E. worshiped a wine Goddess and other wine deities. Babylonians often offered beer and wine to their Deities as offerings. In Greece the art of wine making reached the Hellenic peninsula by 2,000 B.C.E. – the first of which was Mead, and by 1700 BCE wine making was commonplace and incorporated into religious rituals. Balche’, a Mayan Honey wine, was associated with the Mayan deity Acan.

Spirits: Unsweetened, Distilled alcoholic beverages that have an alcohol content of at least 20% ABCV are called spirits. These are produced by the distillation of a fermented base product, which concentrates the alcohol, and eliminates some of the congeners. These can be added to wine to create fortified wines such as ports and sherries.
These are often Vodka, Rum, Gin, Whiskey, Whisky, Tequila, and other spirits.

Some commonly believed changes in personality with ‘types’ of alcohol:

  • Beer: Boldness, Braveness, Becoming Boisterous, Loud, Obnoxious, Lush behavior, Know-it-all attitudes, and Dumb-ness.
  • Wine: Romantic connotations, sexuality, relaxation, restfulness, tranquility, lush-ness.
  • Vodka: Bravery, Boldness, Invincibility, Strength, Attitude, Security.
  • Tequila: Boldness, wildness, sexuality, aggression, and lush behavior.
  • Absinthe: Creativity, Inspiration, Desire to do Art, Write, or Music; imaginative thought. Rumored to be psychedelic and produce hallucinations. Inspires oracles, omens, and prophetic thought.
  • Rum: Wildness, craziness, boldness, and lust.
  • Gin: Intellectual thought, healing, lethargy, and dumb-ness.
  • Whiskey: Aggression, testiness, boldness, violence, invincibility.
  • Irish Whiskey: Revitalization, Rebirth, Renewal, Invincibility, and Intellectual discussions.

Print Friendly
Share

Gougane Barra

113013-254
Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

113013-260
Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

113013-267
Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

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

Continue reading Gougane Barra

Print Friendly
Share

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

113013-284
St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

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

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

113013-011
St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

113013-026
St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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

Print Friendly
Share

Saint Ghobnatan (St. Gobnata) of Ballyvourney

113013-195

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

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

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

113013-197

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relics and Artifacts:

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

113013-198

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

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

Print Friendly
Share

Tobar Ghobnatan Cross Etchings

113013-192

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

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

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

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

113013-180

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

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

113013-228

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

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

Continue reading Tobar Ghobnatan Cross Etchings

Print Friendly
Share

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

113013-138

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

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

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

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

113013-140

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

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

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

113013-184

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

BOTH WELLS:

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

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

113013-135

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

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

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

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

Print Friendly
Share

Taos Pueblo

112213-038

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

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

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

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

112213-069

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.

112213-121

Continue reading Taos Pueblo

Print Friendly
Share

Paul Koudounaris’ lecture on Heavenly Bodies : Spectacular Jeweled Skeletons

1415597_10151788907323727_411803705_n

Paul Koudounaris: Heavenly Bodies
* Lecture, Slide Show, and Book Signing * The Strange Factory * Albuquerque, New Mexico * Friday, November 22, 2013 *

A race from Taos to Albuquerque to visit a friend’s lecture on his amazing discoveries about decorative skeletons was a whirlwind by itself, but would up to be an incredible night of magic, gold, jewels, and folklore. We wandered into the Strange Factory a little late as a snow storm slowed our travels on site, but were warmed with awe as we saw some of the works that Paul Koudounaris exhibited in his presentation. A astute author and photographer from Los Angeles, California; Paul K was presenting at the oddities shop called “the Strange Factory” in the University district of Albuquerque. Paul K’s charnel house and ossuary research has broken research milestones in folklore, oddities, and macabre art. This evenings lecture covered those of human skeletons found in Catholic churches adorned with gold and gemstones. He is a leading expert on bone-decorated shrines and religious structures.
Paul Koudounaris, PhD in Art History (UCLA 2004) is an author and photographer from Los Angeles that specializes in Baroque-era Northern European Art. His charnel house and ossuary research and photos have made him a well-known figure in the field of macabre art, and he is a leading expert in the history of bone-decorated shrines, human remains, religious art, and religious structures.He obtained a PhD in Art History from UCLA in 2004, with a specialty in Baroque-era Northern European Art. He began his research in 2006 studying the use of human remains in religious ritual and as a decorative element in sacred spaces, especially within the context of the Catholic Church. He began researching the existence of these pieces, photographing them, writing about them, and publishing the results in the Prague Post, Fortean Times, and other such publications. He compiled a premiere work on bone-decorated religious structures taking field trips to over 70 sites along four continents, many of which had never been seen or photographed. He released this book as “Heavenly Bodies” in 2013 through Thames and Hudson. This story told the tale of a group of skeletons removed from the Roman catacombs during the 17th century decorated with jewels by various nuns. These bones were at first mistakenly identified as Christian martyrs and shipped to Germanic churches, decorated, and placed in the altars. Through time, most of these were removed, disposed of or thrown into storage during the Enlightenment. He tracked down the corpses’ locations, documented them, and photographed them for for book. This book followed his successful masterpiece “The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses” in 2011. The presentation was well spoken and masterfully done to a full house in attendance.

Print Friendly
Share

Whitby Abbey

The Gothic Abbey
The Gothic Abbey, Whitby, England

The Whitby Abbey
* Abbey Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire – YO22 4JT *

I have always been drawn to the iconography of the Gothic Abbey atop the hills of Whitby, England. It is that vaguely interwoven backdrop of the gothic culture that is drawn to this city that once was home to Bram Stoker and the concept of “Dracula”. This fabulous monastic ruins was founded in 657 of the Common Era by King Oswy of Northumbria as a “double monastery” Anglo-Saxon style masterpiece housing both men and women. Equip with a decent visitor center and museum, one can walk the majestic ruins of this Yorkshire image. The 1220 Early English Gothic style ruins belong to the church of the Benedictine abbey re-founded on its site by the Normans. Embracing the sky with high richly carved pinnacle d east and north end transepts brandishing the marks of war, nature, and history as it is slowly reclaimed by the Earth. Definitely a spectacular monument not to be missed. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

081211-007

It was this Abbey, belonging to the Benedictine order, that was left in ruin after the dis-establishment after the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of King Henry VIII. Now preserved, monitored, and cared for by the English Heritage with its museum housed inside the Cholmley House. One of North Yorkshire’s most memorable monuments, it has been used for numerous photo shoots, films, documentaries, and settings. Whitby was originally called “Streoneshalh” (named after Fort Bay or “Tower Bay”, of the Roman settlement that stood here first) and was home to the first Anglo-Saxon monastery here in 657 C.E. by Oswy (Oswiu), the King of Northumbria at the time. Lady Hilda, the abbess of Hartlepool Abbey, and grand-nieces of the first Christian King of Northumbria, Edwin, was appointed founding abbess of this “Streona’s Settlement”. This was a “double monastery”, managed and occupied by Celtic nuns and monks. It was also the home of the great poet Caedmon. By 867-870, the Danes led successive raids of the monastery, leaving it in ruins for almost 200 years. When Reinfrid, one of WIlliam the Conqueror’s soldiers travelled to this site as a monk, it was called “Prestebi” meaning “white settlement” in Old Norse. He founded a new monastery atop the ruins of St. Peters with two carucates of land, joined by the founder’s brother Serlo de Percy, they began Benedictine rule. In 1540, Henry VIII declared the Dissolution of Monasteries, thereby falling into destruction and ruin. Locals mined stones from its structures, leaving it but a crumbling ruin on the landscape. It however was still used as a landmark by sailors coming into port, and was heavy inspiration for Bram Stoker when writing “Dracula”. In 1914, it was shelled by German battle cruisers by a mis-fire giving it un-repairable considerable damage.

Continue reading Whitby Abbey

Print Friendly
Share

The Amsterdam Miracle; Begijnhof and Chapel (Holland)

Begijnhof and Chapel
*Zandvoorterweg 78 * 2111 GZ Aerdenhout * Tel. 023-5246229 * Fax. 023-5440081 * info: info@stille-omgang.nl * website: www.stille-omgang.nl
Amsterdam, Holland
http://www.begijnhofamsterdam.nl/
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.

Continue reading The Amsterdam Miracle; Begijnhof and Chapel (Holland)

Print Friendly
Share

Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Countess

Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Queen

* August 7, 1560 – August 21, 1614 *

Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed was a late 16th century Hungarian countess who became legend for her mass serial murders of her servants after which she would bathe in their virgin blood in order to retain her beauty and youth. (She was also known as the “Blood Countess”, “Countess Dracula”, or the “Blood Queen” and more accurately as Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian and Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak) She, along with four collaborators, were accused of killing over 650 victims who were primary young female girl servants, but was only convicted for 80 of them, involving no trial or conviction. She’s become the focus of vampire myth and legend, high in popularity with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia whom Bram Stoker’s Dracula is based.

She was born to George and Anna Bathory in 1560 raised at the Ecsed Castle with links to the Voivod family of Transylvania. She was also the niece of Stefan Bathory, former King of Poland and Duke of Transylvania. She was raised very literate and scholarly, having been fluent with Latin, Greek, and German as well as being obsessed with the study of science and astronomy. She was a very knowledgable woman who often intervened on behalf of destitute women. In 1575 she wed Ferenc Nadasdy, potentially as a political arrangement, in the little palace of Varanno. They then moved to Nadasdy Castle in Sarvar, spending much of her time alone while her husband studied in Vienna as well as when in 1578 he became the chief commander of the Hungaran Troops during the war against the Ottamans. Her husband gifted her the Csejte Castle that is located in the Little Carpathians near Trencsen which came with a country house and 17 adjacent villages, agricultural lands, and outcrops of the Little Carpathians. While he was away at war, she managed the castle and estate affairs which involved providing food, sustainability, and medical care for the Hungarian and Slovak peasants. She had to defend her husband’s estates that were on the route to Vienna during the height of the Long War which lasted from 1593 to 1606. This was a difficult feat as the castle and village previously had been plundered by the Ottamans. In 1585 she gave birh to her daughter Anna, then a second daughter named Ursula, and finally a son Tomas – both of whom died at a young age. In 1594 she gave birth to Katherine, then a son Paul in 1597, and finally Miklos. Her husband died in battle at the ripe age of 47 in 1604 C.E. It was shortly after his death that the local church and villagers began to complain about atrocities purportedly done by Elizabeth. Rumor had it that one of her handmaidens had accidentally cut herself and splattered blood on the countess. As the countess wiped off the blood she was impressed with the fact her skin looked younger, lighter, and rejuvenated beneath it. It was rumored then that she went on a murder spree killing her servants and bathing in their blood to become younger. It took the Hungarian authorities some time to respond and investigate the accusations. By 1610 she was under investigation of murder. Testimonies from over 300 witnesses it was proposed she had killed mainly the adolescent daughters of local peasants lured to work in the castle as maidservants, then she moved on to killing daughters of lesser gentry who were sent to the castle to learn courtly etiquette, and many others were believed to have been abducted with estimates of over 650 victims. Even with testimonials and minimal evidence, the government bypassed a trial and execution for fear of the public scandal it would cause the noble family (who at the time was ruling Transylvania) and would cause her property to become siezed by the crown. They debated sending her to a nunnery but realized she needed to be under strict house arrest and released King Matthias’ debt to her. December 1610, the authorities arrested Bathory and four of her servants who were believed to be accomplices. They reportedly only found one girl dead, one girl dying, and another girl wounded with others locked up. King Matthias requested the death sentence for her, but again, for fear of affecting the noble family’s reputation, was dismissed. Her associates were tried and punished in 1611 even though Bathory did not appear at the trial. Dorota Semtész, Ilona Jó, and János Újváry were found guilty and served the death penality by having their fingers ripped from their hands before being burnt at the stake. Janos was beheaded before burnt at the stake as he was deemed least guilty. Katarína Benická was sentenced to life imprisonment as was only accused of dominating and bullying the other women. After these trials, Elizabeth was placed under house arrest and walled up in a set of rooms in the Csejte Castle of Slovakia where she remained for four years until she died. She was discovered dead on August 21, 1614 after several plates of food were discovered untouched. She was buried in the castle’s churchyard but after villager outcry she was moved to Ecsed interred at the Bathory family crypt.

 

Continue reading Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Countess

Print Friendly
Share

Prana, Mana, The Life Force

Spirit Force, Life Force, The Force, Mana, Prana, Spiritual Energy

Many see this as the all creating and destroying eternal force in the universe from which all life – whether biological or spirit comes from or departs to. Some call it the Creator, some see it as above any Creator or God/desses. Some call it a Supreme Being, others call it the Universe. Some call it “Energy” while others call it “Magic”. Some give it a consciousness while others see it as a energy field. Every religion, cult, belief system, form of spirituality and even alternative medicinal practices embrace and address it. It is seen as a variety of phenomena that is observed or experienced by some observers in a particular faith, spirituality, or religion. It is seen as the “energy” that is the life force that flows within and between all things. It is Life. It is the “breath of life”. It is seen as the continuum that unites body with the mind and spirit. It is what makes a animal be “alive”, or a plant “grow”, or a lightning bolt scream across the sky. It is the force behind gravity, science, and magic. Some see it as “vitality” or “vitalism”, “subtle bodies”, “qi”, “prana”, “mana”, or “kundalini”. Some say you can see this energy force as “vibrations”, “rays of light”, “fields”, or “auras”. It is the web of life that connects all life together. PRANA is the Sanskrit term for “vital life”. It comes from the roots “pra” meaning “to fill” and Latin “plenus” meaning “full”. It is seen as one of the five organs of vitality or sensation, as “breath”, “speech”, “sight”, “hearing”, and “thought”. It is the notion of the vital life sustaining force of all life and vital energy. Mana as a Oceanic term for the impersonal force or quality that lives within animals and inanimate objects. It is seen as the “stuff of which magic is formed” as well as the substance from which souls are made.

Print Friendly
Share

American Stonehenge

American Stonehenge
Maryhill, Washington * Contact: Maryhill Museum of Art * 35 Maryhill Museum Drive * Goldendale, Washington 98620 * 509-773-3733 *
by Thomas Baurley

America has several Stonehenges – replicas of the infamous original from the British Isles. The American Stonehenge at Maryhill is one of the most popular sitting atop a lonely bluff overlooking the town of Maryhill, Washington and the length of the Columbia River. It is a full-size identical replica astronomically aligned of the ancient monument of “Stonehenge” in England. It serves as a replica for those who died in World War I and was built by the road engineer, Sam Hill from 1918-1930. It took him 12 years to perfect the monument, dedicating it on July 4, 1918 and completing it in 1929. He passed away shortly after its completion and was buried at the base of bluff below the monument in a difficult to reach location so that he’d be left alone by the tourists he expected to come see his monument. Hill originally built the monument after being mistakenly informed that the original Stonehenge was used for sacrifice. He wanted to symbolize how humanity was still being sacrificed to the God of War. His monument can be seen ominously looming on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River and easily seen by all passerby’s on U.S. Highway 97.

    The dedication plague at the monument reads:
    “In memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death can alone quench.”

Sam Hill also built a mansion nearby that hosts the Maryhill Museum of Art holding monuments of the Klickitat County soldiers who died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. It is also the very first monument in the United States to be constructed to honor the dead of World War I. The altar stone is aligned with the sunrise on the Summer Solstice. There is no admission to the Memorial.

American Stonehenge and the Columbia River Valley, Washington.  11/16/15. Chronicles 20: Exploring Oregon/Idaho border lands. October-November 2015. Photographs by Eadaoin and Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=16903www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/  American Stonehenge: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=7629 Columbia River http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=1151
American Stonehenge and the Columbia River Valley, Washington. 11/16/15. Chronicles 20: Exploring Oregon/Idaho border lands. October-November 2015. Photographs by Eadaoin and Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=16903www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/
American Stonehenge: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=7629
Columbia River http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=1151

Continue reading American Stonehenge

Print Friendly
Share

Wishing Trees


Wishing Tree @ Brigid’s Well in Kildare, Ireland

Wishing Trees
“Wishing Trees” are very common throughout Ireland, England, and Scotland. They are usually individual trees upon which “folk magic”, “folk spells”, “faerie offerings”, or “prayers” are offered. Sometimes it is particular to a specific species, where the tree lives, or how it looks. Many times they are associated with faeries or a particular Deity. They are very common alongside sacred wells in Ireland and the UK. The practice usually involves petitions or offerings made to the tree, a nature spirit associated with the tree, a Saint, a God/dess, or the ancestors with a request for a wish to be fulfilled. Coin trees involve offering of coins to a particular tree. These are often hammered into an old trunk, branch, or small tree. Sometimes these are oaks, rowan trees, hawthorns, ash, or thorn trees. Some hawthornes serve for fertility magic such as a common one in Argyll, Scotland by the Ardmaddy House. Sometimes hundreds of coins are hammered into the bark and wood with the belief that a wish will be granted for each of the coins added. A similar one that is well known is by the sacred well of ST. Maree in Loch Maree, Gairloch, Scotland that has hundreds of coins hammered into it. Also all over the Yorkshire Dales, such as in the pictures shown here I took during a hike, are found with hundreds of coins offered to nature spirits and/or faeries for a granting of a wish. Clootie Wish Trees are found next to sacred wells throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. This involves the practice of tying a piece of cloth, often called “clouties”, “clooties”, or “cloughties” to ask for a answer to a prayer, a wish, and/or a petition. One of the most well known “wishing trees” is the Madron Well in Cornwall. With the Madron well, a sacred well of healing, it is believed that as the cloth rots, the ailment that one is seeking a cure for disappears. Even Charles Darwin recorded the finding of a “wishing tree” in his travels in Argentina called “Walleechu” which was treated by the local inhabitants as a Deity. It was festooned with offerings such as cigars, food, water, and cloth hung from the branches by bright strips of colored thread. Popular wishing trees in Hong Kong is the “Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree” near the “Tin Hau Temple” in Lam Tsu where paper tied to an orange and thrown up in the trees that stick will grant the petitioner a wish. The wishing tree next to Brigid’s Well in Kildare is a common tree for petitioning healing requests.


Penny offerings for good luck
and as gifts to the Fae

“Wishing Tree”
Yorkshire Dales, England

Continue reading Wishing Trees

Print Friendly
Share

Brigid’s Sacred Wells in Kildare, Ireland


Brigid’s Well #1, the “Wayward Well”, Kildare, Ireland

Brighid’s Holy Wells in Kildare
*
Kildare, Ireland

The Goddess or St. Brigid has two holy wells in Kildare? She certainly does. Some say that one of the wells belongs to the Ancient Goddess Brigid while the other well belongs to St. Brigid. Both are sacred, both are holy, and both hold Brigid’s magical healing waters. Well #1 is the ancient “original” sacred well of Brigid. Well #2 is the dressed up sacred shrine and park of Brigid with her well. They were two distinctly different entities … an Ancient Goddess who’s ethereal Godly presence can manifest as a human female and the actual magical human nun turned Saint who was the personification of the Deitie. One in the same? could be. Two differently distinct entities who share the common thread? very possibly. Two wells … that seems to be the case. One for the Goddess and One for the Saint? I would say “both” wells contain “both” the Saint and the Goddess in them. I’ve come to notice a pattern with this, that the “ancient” Pagan “original” well is often offset from the “Christian” one. This seemed to be the case when I went to see the Madron well in Cornwall, England (though technically that one had “three” – the original one buried in the marsh, the Pagan “original” one offset from the one underwater, and the Christian well house.). There are many Brigid wells in Ireland as well as Britain. As wells were the sacred sites of veneration in the Druidic faith, many also have an associated sacred tree with them that are covered with votive offerings. These are often called “Wishing Trees”. Trees covered with “clotties” or ribbons of cloth done as a prayer for healing or a spell to obtain something. Pilgrims come here to get in touch with the well inside themselves. Wells are sacred places where people for thousands of years have come to pray, worship, and reflect. Pagan and Holy wells are often seen as the entrance to the womb of Mother Earth, the source of life. Each holy well usually is always related to healing, and each well usually has a specialty that it performs. Brigid’s wells are pretty powerful for healing sore eyes. Brigid is associated with all healing. Her girdle is capable of curing all disease and illness and this well is rumored to make “the blind man seeing, the dumb girl speaking, etc.”

Brighid’s Holy Well #1 a.k.a. “The Wayside Well”

The first well is the ancient Pagan sacred well of the Goddess Brigid. It is located just next to the car park of the Japanese Gardens. This well / spring itself feeds and nourishes the Gardens themselves. This is the spring source whose waters run off and feeds the newer well. It’s not really decorated and is simple, rustic, ancient, and silent. Seemingly forgotten. I has only an inscription sign in Irish that translates “St. Brigid, Mary of the Gael, pray for us.” However it is still a major focal point for pilgrimmages and ceremonies. The Brigid Eve ceremonies (January 31st) start at a small fire set up just outside the Japanese Gardens car park with a chanting to the Goddess Brigid which is followed by a candlelit journey of contemplation about the Goddess and the Saint and the spirit that weaves them together. The candle lit journey goes to this well and ends at the second well. It is customary to gather this well water in a bottle because of its strong healing properties and in exchange to leave an offering for the spirits and faeries who dwell there.


“Tobair Bride” / St. Brigid’s Well, Kildare, Ireland

Brighid’s Holy Well #2 a.k.a. “Tobair Bride” (St. Brigid’s Well)

The second well is the “supposed” Christian well of St. Brigid. It’s the tourist one. It’s the “Official” one. This is the one in the tourist guides, sign posts, and advertisements. It is located in a landscaped grotto at the end of a short lane close to Well #1. The local Catholic clergy moved Christian devotion and practices to this site in the 1950’s supposedly out of concern for people’s safety in accessing the original well which was at the bend in a narrow busy road. It is here that the Roman Catholic healing well is located. While pilgrims often visit both wells, this is the well where an involved ceremony, similar to the “stations of the cross” is conducted. Pilgrims reflect on the Goddess and/or Saint Brigid and how they weave together.

Continue reading Brigid’s Sacred Wells in Kildare, Ireland

Print Friendly
Share

Brigid’s Sacred Flame at Kildare


Brighid’s Flame
* Kildare, Ireland *

For well over 1,000 years, if not 2,000 years or more, the sacred fire of the Goddess Brigid (now St. Brigid of Ireland) has existed and kept holy / sacred by her followers, priestesses, and/or members of her Order. In Ancient times, the Priestesses of Brighid kept her flame eternally lit with 19 Priestesses keeping vigil that the flame was never extinquished. As Christianity spread through Ireland, the Goddess Brigid was so integral to the Irish population that She could not be eradicated and thereby made a Saint by the Catholic Church. In the 6th century C.E., A nun iconified as “St. Brigid” came to Kildare and built a nunnery/monastery and school on the same site where the Brigid Priestesses were keeping vigil at the Fire Temple eventually absorbing and taking over the duties of the Priestesses now brandishing the torch for Christianity while keeping the Pagan faith alive just hidden. Through many Viking conquests, raids, and wars, the original wooden church, monastery, and foundation was eventually rebuilt as a stone Cathedral by the 13th century. Giraldus Cambrensis wrote in the 12th century that the Flame was attended by twenty “servants of the Lord” at the time of St. Brigid with Brigid herself being he 20th. When she died, the number went down to 19 with each of the nuns taking their turns at night and on the 2oth night, the nineteenth nun would put logs on the fire and St. Brigid would miraculously tend the fire which never went out. By the time Giraldus wrote that, the fire had been continually burning for 600 years, and thereby never had its ashes cleaned out, nor did the ashes ever seem to increase in size. Surrounding the fire was a legendary hedge that no male could ever cross. By Legend, one of Strongbow’s men attempted to cross the hedge and wound up going mad. Another had attempted but just as his leg crossed the threshhold, his comrades pulled him back. Unfortunately the leg that did cross became maimed and he was crippled for the rest of his life. The magical hedge no longer exists, but in times of legend, protected the flame from male invaders by cursing them to go insane, die, become maimed, or have their penis wither. The Sisters of Brigid (Catholic nuns) continue the work in safeguarding the eternal flame in Solas Bhride which means “Light of Brigid”.

Once during the 1200’s the Eternal flame was briefly extinquished by Henry of London, the Norman arch-bishop of Dublin who ordered it to be put out as he considered the tending process to be a Pagan practice and not to be tolerated. It was quickly relit by the locals and the Sisters continued doing this until the 16th century’s British Reformation. During the Reformation, King Henry XIII had a campaign to destroy Catholic monasteries and in this process, attacked the St. Brigid foundation at Kildare, thereby extinquishing the flame. On February 1st of 1807, the Bishop of Kildare, Daniel Delany, restored the Sisterhood of St. Brigid and thereby re-lighting the Eternal Flame of Brigid. The Sisterhood of St. Brigid’s mission was at this point to restore the Ancient Order and bring back the legacy and spirit of St. Brigid to Kildare (and thereby the world). The town center saw the Flame rekindled in the heart of Kildare’s Market Square once again as well, in 1993 by Sister Mary Teresa Cullen, the leader of the Brigidine Sisters at that time. From that point, the Perpetual flame was monitored and kept alive in their home and on February 1, 2006 – the flame was brought back to the center of the Market Square where it has been permanently housed in a large glass enclosed vessel (and numerous flames kept alive in the Sister’s houses). The St. Brigid’s Flame monument, centered in the photo above, was unveiled by President Mary McALeese on St. Brigid’s Day, February 1st, 2006.

Continue reading Brigid’s Sacred Flame at Kildare

Print Friendly
Share

Brigid’s Cross

Brighid’s Cross
* Kildare, Ireland *

Another blessed part of my pilgrimage to Brigid and Kildare was learning more about Brigid’s Cross. I had the pleasure of Faerie Moe as a guide, a local friend giving me the tour of Kildare and the sacred wells as well as giving me an on-hands explanation on how to weave a Brigid’s Cross. As a dedicant to the Goddess Brigid for over 20 years, in my early years i fumbled at making them, but never made anything as intricate and powerful as the crosses I saw at St. Brigid’s shrine and Sister Mary’s house. Amazing. Many say that the St. Brigid’s Cross, a.k.a. Cros Bríde, Crosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde, is actually an Irish symbol of sun worship representing the sun in the center with rays of light coming from it in the shape of the arms of the Cross. Some say it represents a Brigid legend where in the story St. Brigid miraculously hung her wet clothes to dry on a sunbeam. It is also considered a Pagan sun wheel. They are traditionally made on February 1st for Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St. Brigid’s feast day). It is also a symbol of Ireland and its provinces. Ireland has four provinces, but in ancient Ireland there were five – an invisible one in the center of Ireland. To some, the Brigid’s cross represents the four provinces (in the modern standard design) and in the 5 handed cross like shown in these pictures, representing the 5 provinces. The arms represent North, South, East, West, and Center. The 5th Province, the invisible one, is the province of healing and reconciliation. Brigid’s Cross probably first appeared in Ireland between the 2nd century B.C.E. and the 2nd century C.E. It is a folk magic tradition of weaving together straw to create a equal-armed Celtic cross that represents the Goddess Brigid, or modern day St. Brigid. Taking rushes that are woven together into a swastica-like /Celtic cross-like ornament, with a central square and four spokes protruding from each corner of the square in opposing directions, that has some variations found in Celtic art both ancient and modern. Brigid’s cross appears often traditionally on February 1st, the eve of St. Brigid’s feast / Imbolc / or Candlemas. In some traditions, the Brideoga or Biddies, young virgin boys who would carry a churndash (post used to churn butter) that is dressed up as a woman or an effigy of St. Brigid, and would go door-to-door through their neighborhood collecting alms for the poor. While collecting alms, they would leave bundles of straw and rushes outside the homes that they visited. At nightfall, young virgin girls would pick them up and ask to be admitted to the homes in the name of Brigid and would weave the rushes into crosses. After traditional prayers and a meal at the homes, the crosses would be placed under the eaves in the house or in the outhouses and sometimes blessed with holy water. The leftover rushes would be woven into a girdle called a “crios” or a tie for cattle or sometimes as a Brid’s bed or mattress for the Saint. Just as cattle were traditionally led through holy lakes or doused in water from Brigid’s well, they were often led through uplifted arches of these girdles. The Brid’s bed or holy mattresses were often placed at specific sacred wells and believed to possess curative powers to counter barrenness and to protect families and animals from natural calamities, especially lightning and fire. Some see the Brigid’s cross as symbolic of the evolution of the Goddess into the Saint. The Brigid’s Cross magically is believed to protect a house where it hangs from evil and from fire. Because of this, it is often hung in kitchens.

The Brigid’s cross is commonly woven on February 1st or 2nd, the date of Celtic Imbolc or Candlemas, a time to celebrate Brigid in her maiden form – the winter elder “cailleach” is reborn the maiden in her phase of collecting kindling for winter fires and warming the hearth for spring when she becomes young again. (After serving the winter as the aged woman still collecting kindling to keep the fire going to rejoice the flame for her rebirth) As the inventor of “caoineadh” or “keening”, from the mourning of her son Ruadán’s death, she inadvertently created the art form to keen. Some say this is tied into the creation of the Brigid’s cross. At this time when the night sky turns to the North star, the big dipper turns through the seasonal year, creating patterns in the sky that the Brigid cross is said to invoke. To tie into the warming for spring, Brigid is the fire keeper of the eternal flame always burning in Kildare, keeping the people of Ireland eternally warm. During her conversion to becoming a nun led to the practice of the Brigid’s cross, a craft many children and adults partake of weaving the kindling into a spiral form of the Brigid’s cross.

Here is a great web site with diagrams of the weave: http://www.fisheaters.com/stbrigidscross.html

Continue reading Brigid’s Cross

Print Friendly
Share

Sister Mary and the Shrine to St. Brigid (Goddess Brigid)

Sister Mary and the Shrine to Brighid
* Private Residence / Kildare, Ireland *

Probably one of the most enlightening and blessed experiences on my pilgrimmage and quest to Ireland in June of 2010 was meeting, visiting with, and being passed Brigid’s Eternal Flame from Sister Mary, the Brigidine Sister – one of the 19 sacred guardians of Brigid’s Flame. A call to see if she was home, me and Faerie Moe headed down the hill to Sister Mary’s private residence. A very humble, peaceful, and vibrant woman, Sister Mary welcomed us into her house and took us into the back room where the Shrine to Brigid was and one of the protected eternal flames of Brigid stay lit. We admired the numerous Brigid’s crosses, the artwork, and the spiritual offerings/dedications to St. Brigid (aka. Goddess Brigid). I was tingling with excitement and had an overwhelming ecstatic experience just standing in the room – in the presence of two of my favorite women – The Goddess Brigid (St. Brigid) through Sister Mary and the Shrine, and my friend Faerie Moe. What more could one ever ask for? If ever a glimpse of enlightenment, it was this particular moment in space and time for me. Being shown around Kildare by Faerie Moe who lives in the area and getting indepth local’s tour of the sacred sites that mean so much to me, learning about the work of Cairde Bhride, and being passed St. Brigid’s flame was an overwhelming experience. I did my best not to let it show, but i know I clumsily stumbled around from the feelings of awe I was in.

Sister Mary Minehan: A humble, peaceful, and shining powerful spiritual woman that embodies the illumination of the Goddess Brigid/St. Brigid. She is one of Brigid’s guardians of the sacred Eternal flame, a Brigidine sister who lives in Kildare, Ireland. Her life is dedicated to the work of Cairde Bhríde, the Catholic Order of St. Brigid that embraces both the Christian Saint and Goddess aspect of Brighid. The Order has an outreach community of 50 men and women who call themselves the “Cairde Bride” or “Friends of Brigid”. The Group do circle dances, rituals at the wells, greet pilgrims, watch over the wells, guard the Sacred Flame, teaches about Brigid, throw the “Feile Bride – Brigid’s Festival”, promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation. Sr. Mary Minehan grew up in Puckane, a small country village where she was boarded at a private boarding school and the Brigidine secondary school in Mountrath. During her last year in secondary school, on a retreat, and had a revelation to become a Brigidine sister. She joined the convent and live sacredly dedicated to God and Brigid at the Novitiate in Tullow. From there she became a teacher and worked in various Brigidine schools around the country before ending up in Kildare in 1992. (Brigidines work throughout Ireland, the UK, US, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Kenya, and Papua New Guinea) She chose Kildare upon being asked to come there to explore her Celtic Heritage and to reclaim Brigid of Kildare for the new millennium. Sister Mary was first exposed to Brigid at an early age through her grandmother who used to make Brigid’s crosses with rushes. She remembers her mother’s leg ulcer being cured by Brigid and came to know her as Brigid the Healer and Brigid the Protector. Sister Mary is one of the Protectors of the Flame and one of the Brigidines who will pass the flame to pilgrims to Kildare. Sister Mary Minehan can be reached at Solas Bhride at solasbhride@eircomnet and is a must for anyone on a pilgrimmage to Kildare for Brigid to meet.


Me receiving Brigid’s Eternal Flame from Sister Mary

Continue reading Sister Mary and the Shrine to St. Brigid (Goddess Brigid)

Print Friendly
Share

St. Brigid’s Cathedral – Kildare


St. Brighid’s Cathedral

St. Brighid’s Cathedral
* Kildare, Ireland * Open May-September, Mon-Sat 10 am – 1 pm; 2 pm – 5 pm; Sundays from 2-5 pm. Cathedral closes October thru April.

In the heart of Kildare lies St. Brigid’s Cathedral. This is the place in 480 C.E. that St. Brigid renamed as “Cill Dara” (modern Kildare) which means the “Cell or Church of the Oak” and built her Abbey on the hill beside a great Sacred Oak Tree. The present day stone Norman Cathedral is a restored 13th century version rebuilt numerous times after many fires, desecrations, and ruins of the originals that existed as early as 500 C.E. The Cathedral is likely built atop the Original Pagan Shrine to the Goddess Brigid and the later early Christian foundation and Church of St. Brigid. Brigid was the Goddess of Poetry, Magic, Muse, Inspiration, Healing, Smithcraft, and the Harvest. As a Saint she is the provider of plenty, giver of life, nurturer, fertility, and fire. The current structure seen in these photos was built in 1223 by the Norman Bishop Ralph of Bristol in an early Gothic style with a square central tower. Because of the history of invasions and plunders, especially by the Vikings, the current Cathedral was built for defense as well as worship. The Cathedral continues to serve the townspeople of Kildare as well as Brigid devotees from around the world and has for centuries. After the Reformation the Cathedral fell in disrepair and in complete ruins after the Confederate Wars by 1649. It was rebuilt in 1686 and restored to its present form from 1875-1896. In the 19th century it was rebuilt and restored back to its illuminated origins. Additional major restorations took place in 1996. The interior of the Cathedral has numerous stone carvings ranging from Pagan and early Christian to Norman period or later. It also houses numerous artifacts ranging from a 16th century vault, religious seals, a medieval water font, and shrines. It is here that the Nunnery originally founded by St. Brigid in the 5th century once stood as well as her original wooden Church. The churchyard has a graveyard, Celtic Cross, St. Brigid’s Fire Altar and Firehouse, Vaults, and a 105 ft high Round Tower (one of the last to be erected in Ireland). The Cathedral contains numerous medieval tombs, the most famous of which is one of the Fitzgeralds of Lackagh ( 1575 ). It is here that the Priestesses or Sisters of Brigid kept the flame eternally lit. This required 19 Sisters or Priestesses that kept vigil and made sure the flame never went out. Now Christianized, the Sisters / Nuns tend to her flame and continue the work the ancients once started. It was extinguished between the Reformation and its re-establishment in 1807. In 1993 the Perpetual flame was re-kindled in Kildare’s Market Square by Sister Mary Teresa Cullen.

Continue reading St. Brigid’s Cathedral – Kildare

Print Friendly
Share

The Pagan Goddess Brigid, or the Christian Saint Brigid


St. Brighid

The Goddess Brigid
a.k.a. St. Brigid of Kildare, Brigid of Ireland, “Brigit”, “Bridget”, “Bridgit”, “Bríd”, “Bride”, “Mary of the Gael”, or “Naomh Bríd”
As a Saint and Actual Living Person: St. Brigid – c. 451 – 525 C.E. (A.D.)
Goddess of Poetry, Magic, Healing, Smith craft, Learning, Common People, Flocks/Stock/Yield of the Earth, and Inspiration.
Patron Saint of Ireland along with Saint Patrick and St. Columba. Early Christian Nun, Abbess, and Founder of several Monasteries.
Holiday: February 1st as “Saint Brigid’s Day, Candlemas, Imbolc, or Oimelc.

“As the Goddess: ” Throughout Europe, especially in England and Ireland, was the Pagan worship of the Goddess Brigid. She was the Goddess of Poetry, Magic, Healing, Smithcraft, Learning, Common People, Flocks/Stock/Yield of the Earth, and Inspiration. She is identified in Lebor Gabála Érenn as the Daughter of Dagda and a poet; a half sister of Cermait, Aengus, Midir, and Bodb Derg. In the Cath Maige Tuireadh she is responsible for inventing keening while mourning as well as the whistle used for night travel. Her British Counterpart Brigantia was the Celtic equivalent of the Roman Minerva and the Greek Athena. She is also the Goddess of all things perceived to be of higher dimensions such as high-rising flames, highlands, hill-forts, upland areas, activities depicted as lofty or elevated such as wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship, healing, Druidic knowledge, the home, the hearth, and skills with warfare. When the Celts came to Ireland in 500 B.C.E. they brought with them the Druidic religion. Druidism was polytheistic with many Deities who interacted with humanity for good and for bad. It was a common practice for various Deities to be assigned to certain regions or places where a cult site would be established. One was established, as early, if not earlier than, 500 C.E. in what is now known as Kildare. The shrine and cult was dedicated to the Goddess Brigid. In the Celtic cosmology, the chief God was The Dagda Mor (God of musicians, magic) who ruled over the people of Dana (the Tuatha de Danann or the Faerie folk). Dana was the Mother of Irish God/desses. She was also associated as “Brid” the “Poetess” which is identified with the Goddess “Brigantia” who ruled over the Brigantes – a powerful Celtic tribe in North Britain. Brigantia ruled over water and the rivers – the Brighid in Ireland, the Braint in Wales, and the Brent in England. “Brid” meant “exalted one”. She is often referred to as a “Triple Goddess” – the Three Sister Goddesses named Brid: (1) Goddess of poetry and traditional learning; (2) Goddess of the Smith’s Art; and (3) Goddess of Healing. Through time, these three Goddesses and their attributes were merged into one figure – the Goddess Brigid. With the coming of Christianity, Paganism became absorbed and purposely phased out by the mainstream populace until eventually it was not tolerated. The Gods and Goddesses of old were diminished down to the same rank as faeries, angels, Saints, and royalty. Many of the ancient Gods and Goddesses were converted to Christian Saints by the Catholic Church as a means to dissolve Pagan belief systems. In Christian times she was converted to a Saint, after the actual St. Brigid of Kildare.

    Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach
    Ni bu huarach im sheirc Dé,
    Sech ni chiuir ni cossena
    Ind nóeb dibad bethath che.

    Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
    Nor was she intermittent about God’s love of her;
    Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for The wealth of this world below, the holy one.
    ~ Saint Broccan Cloen

“As the Saint and Historical Person:” St. Brigid was the “Mary of the Gael” and only second in popularity to the people of Ireland next to St. Patrick. She was primarily associated with Kildare, the Curraugh, and the whole region of the Liffey Plain known as “Magh Life”. St. Brigid was born to Dubtach or Dubhthach, the descendant of Con of the Hundred Battles, a Pagan Chieftain of Leinster; and to Brotseach or Brocca, A Christian Pict of the house of O’Connor who was a slave baptised by St. Patrick. St. Brigid was believe to have been born somewhere between 451-458 C.E (453 most common) at Faughart near Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland. Some accounts state that Dubhthach, her father, was from Lusitania and kidnapped by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland to work as a slave in the same regard as happened with Saint Patrick. Her mother, Brotseach, was also believed to be a slave of Dubtach who was sold off shortly before Brigid’s birth to a Druid who lived at Faughart a few miles from Dundalk. Apparently much of this regard in her life affected Brigid’s views on things, especially with the concept of people being property.
Dubtach, her father, and his family, were natives of Leinster and Fr. Swayne, the late Parish Priest of Kildare, who claims they were from Umaras between Monasterevin and Rathangan in County Kildare. She was baptised in the Christian faith under the name of “Brid” or “Brigid”. Legend has it though that she was weaned on the milk of a white red-eared cow, the color of the beasts of the Tuatha De Danann. Through her life Brigid was especially kind to the people she encountered and was notorious in legend for miracles to be associated with her. One legend tells of her as a child in charge of the dairy by her mother that she gave away so much milk and butter to the poor people where they lived that none was left for her family. She knew her mother would be furious so resorted to prayer. As an answer to her prayers, when her mother visited the dairy she found an abundance of milk and butter. She was also known to be a lover of animals and had many tales of her kindness to stray and starving dogs. In childhood she supposedly encountered St. Patrick. Supposedly she was brought to hear him preach and when she listened to him she fell into ecstasy. She was so dedicated to charity, taking care of common people, healing the sick, and her faith that when she reached marriage age, she instead decided to dedicate to religious life. Pagan lore states she was one of the guardians of the Sacred Flame and Shrine of the Goddess Brigid in Kildare.

Christian tales tell of her leaving home with seven other young girls and traveling to County Meath where St. Maccaille the Bishop resided. The Bishop was hesitant to instate the girls because of their young age into the order. During prayer, it was here that they experienced a column of fire that reached the roof of the church resting on Brigid’s head. The Bishop gave the veil to the eight young girls upon hearing of this miracle. St. Maccaille’s Church was on Croghan Hill in County Westmeath and it was here that St. Brigid founded the first convent in Ireland which attracted many ladies of nobility as postulants and it was here that Brigid and her sisters completed their novitiate. After completion, they journeyed to Ardagh where they made their final vows to St. Mel, the Bishop of Ardagh and nephew of St. Patrick. Brigid founded another convent here and remained for 12 years. At the Bishops request, she sent sisters to various parts of Ireland to establish new foundations including herself. As St. Brigid traveled around Ireland, she visited with St. Patrick when he was preaching at Taillte or Telltown in County Meath to obtain his blessing. Throughout her travels she conducted blessings and miracles along the way gaining Sainthood. The Leinstermen knew Brigid was from their province and constantly asked for her to return home amongst them and was offered any site in that province. She decided to make her foundation on Druim Criadh near the Liffey in what eventually grew into Kildare. She chose a spot on the ridge of clay near a large oak tree and decided to build her oratory beneath its branches. Purportedly there was already a Shrine to the Goddess Brigid here. The new foundation prospered and grew quickly. Girls from all over Ireland and even abroad came to St. Brigid’s foundation to join the community. The foundation was named after the “Church of the Oak” or “Cill Dara” which evolved to modern day Kildare. The poor, the afflicted, the sorrowful came to Kildare for Brigid’s healing, advice, and guidance.

Besides a church, Brigid built a small oratory at Kildare which became a center of religion and learning and developed into a Cathedral city with two monastic institutions, one for men and another for women with St. Conleth appointed as spiritual pastor for both of them. She also founded a school of art, including metal work and illumination that St. Conleth presided over as well. From this was produced the “Book of Kildare” which was praised by Giraldus Cambrensis as having every page fantastically illuminated with interlaced work and a harmony of colors that it was the work of Angels and not of Humans, but it has long since vanished since the Reformation.

Continue reading The Pagan Goddess Brigid, or the Christian Saint Brigid

Print Friendly
Share

Kildare, Ireland


Kildare, Ireland

Kildare, Ireland
* http://www.kildare.ie/ * http://www.kildaretown.ie/ *
The visit I took in July to Kildare was one of the most sacred pilgrimmages I’ve made in my life. The Goddess Brigid has been my Matron and principle Deity since 1990 (20 years). I sought out Brighid’s flame, her holy wells, and to see the town that centers around the belief of this ancient Goddess and now Catholic Saint. “Kildare” is also known as “Cill Dara”. It is one of the oldest towns in Ireland. It originated in pre-Christian times with a shrine to the Celtic Goddess Brigid. After Christianization, it became the site of the great Christian foundation of St. Brigid. The town and area is full of legends, lore, historic buildings, and ruins dating well over 1500 years. Kildare was a town even before the Vikings colonized the coast and building towns, as even though towns are believed not to have existed prior to the Vikings. We know that Kildare fit the definition of a town as Cogitosus, a 7th century monk from Kildare, described it as a “vast metropolitan city” with a street of stone steps and urban characteristics existing before the Vikings arrived in Ireland. It is on these facets alone that it can claim to be the oldest town in Ireland. Kildare owes its existence to St. Brigid who founded her monastery here in the late 5th century C.E (484). There is evidence of older Pagan shrines to the Celtic Goddess Brigid that were served by a group of young women who tended a perpetual fire that was kept alit here. Brigid was the Goddess of ars, poetry, healing, childbirh, magic, livestock, and the yield of the Earth. The earliest shrine is believed to have been built over by St. Brigid’s Cathedral and may have been associated with a particular sacred oak tree growing on the site. Some believe that the Christian St. Brigid was a convert from the Pagan women who tended the Pagan Shrine to the Goddess Brigid. Regardless of the roots, by the 5th century, a unique Christian foundation was established by St. Brigid. She chose a site at the ancient shrine, under a large oak tree, on the ridge of Drum Criadh (Ridge of Clay) and built her church. Its foundation was renamed Cill Dara (The Church of the Oak) which is where the modern name Kildare comes from. St. Conleth, another Saint popular in the area, died in 520 C.E. Brigid’s Shrine was erected by 523 C.E. St. Brigid passed away at age 70 in 528 C.E.

Kildare flourished from the early 7th century to this day. It became a grand center of learning and a school was established for students from abroad as well as the sons of the Gaelic nobility. As the foundation grew, the requirement for artisans, traders, and tillers of the soil increased until Kildare reached a proto-town status. Kildare and its political / secular powers were watched very closely by the local kings of Leinster who were based in the nearby town of Naas. There is mention in the Annals that in 710 C.E. the monastery was burned. In 756 the Bishop Eghtigin was killed by a priest at St. Brigid’s altar in Kildare as he was celebrating mass which at that time was forbidden for a priest to do in the presence of a Bishop. The Annals mention the building of a wooden church in 762 but by 770 Kildare and the monastery was burnt down again. By 772 it was burnt again on the 4th of Ides of June and again in 774. By 799 St. Conleth was placed in a shrine of gold and silver.

The Annals of Ireland referred to Kildare alot especially from the 9th-11th centuries in relation to raids and plunderings of Vikings and the Native Irish. They recorded that in 835 C.E. a Danish flet of 30 ships arrived in Liffey and another in the Boyne where they plundered every church and abbey in the region and destroyed Kildare with fire and sword carrying off the shrines of St. Brigid and St. Conleth. However the Brigidine order had removed the remains of St. Brigid and hid them in Downpatrick before her shrine was destroyed. In 868, Queen Flanna, wife of Finliath, the King of Ireland, rebuilt the Church. In 883, Ceallach Mac Bran, the King of Leinster gained a battle over Kildare in their church and slayed many in the churchyard. The same year the Danes laid spoil upon Kildare, its religious houses, and took the abbot and 280 of his clergy plus family captive. By 895 the Danish raided Kildare again. In 926 Kildare was ransacked by the son of Godfrey of Waterford and again by the Danes of Dublin in the same year carrying away numerous captives and rich booty. They ransacked Kildare again in 953. By 962 Kildare was almost completely destroyed by the Danes of Dublin and most of Kildare’s inhabitants were made slaves, yet the Collegiate School of Kildare continued teaching and the professors remained in residence. In 992 Kildare was yet, once again, destroyed and preyed upon by the Danes of Dublin. They plundered it again in 998 and 1012. In 1013 the Danes burnt Kildare down to the ground. In 1016 It was again plundered by the Danes. In 1018 it was recorded that all of Kildare except one house was consumed by lightning. According to the Annals, the Monastery was burnt through the negligence of a very bad woman. In 1040 Kildare was destroyed by fire. By 1050 Kildare and its great stone church was burnt down again and again in 1079. In 1089 the town was destroyed by fire. In 1135 the Abbess was forced from her cloister by Dermot McMurrough and made to marry one of his followers. In the course of that event, approximately 170 of Kildare’s inhabitants were slaughtered.

After the Normans landed in 1169, they came to Kildare with Strongbow using it for the center of his campaign to conquer Leinster. Giraldus Cambrensis, the Welsh chronicler of the Norman Invasion recorded his impressions of Kildare, its round tower, its marvelous manuscripts, and the Legends of St. Brigid. It was also here the very first mention of a castle in Kildare which was probabl a motte and bailey castle. The first stone castle to be built was done by the Earl Marshal on the site of the present castle in the early 13th century. Strongbow died in 1176 and by 1189 his daughter and her husband William Marshal Snr inherited Kildare castle. In 1295 John Fitzthomas quarrelled with Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster causing unrest in Kildare. Calbach O Conchobair Failge captured the castle and burnt many of its documents, the followers of William Donyn broke into the castle and robbed it of money, cloth, wheat, oats, malt, oxen, cows, sheep, and pigs. In 1297 William de Vescy surrendered the castle to the king. The same year, Walter, son of Nicholas the chaplain, broke into the Cathedral and stole treasures from the Church. In 1032 the Inquisition claimed the Bishop of Kildare built the Castle of Kildare on church lands without permission. The Castle was sieged in 1315/1316 by Edward Bruce after a 3 day siege. Kildare and the region, being on the frontier lands of the Pale, were centrally attacked not only through history by the Vikings but dispossessed native Irish. The town went into the possession of the Fitzgerland family and by the Confederate Wars in the 1640s was garrisoned and the Cathedral stood in ruins. At this time Kildare was believed to have been abandoned and no longer inhabited. By 1798 Kildare got involved in the Rebellion and was where Lord Edward Fitzgerald, leader of the Rebellion, lived and some 350 men were massacred in Gibbet Rath when they were trying to surrender. The Jockey Club was founded in the 1700s and brought in horse training stables at the nearby Curraugh adding prosperity to the town and region with horse racing. By the 1800s the British Army artillery barracks were strongly rooted in the area and the Curraugh. With ease of access to Dublin by road and rail it became a dormitory town of Dublin and also declared a Heritage Town. Kildare’s major attractions are St. Brigid, her Cathedral, her wells, her flame, the Irish National Stud and Horse Museum, The Japanese Gardens and Visitor Center, and the Round Tower.


Cill Dara

Continue reading Kildare, Ireland

Print Friendly
Share

St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Dublin)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
* Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Saint Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8, Ireland * http://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie *

In the Medieval District of Dublin lies one of Dublin’s most famous churches also known as The National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick, Dublin or “Árd Eaglais Naomh Pádraig”. The Church was founded in 1191 C.E. and is the larger of Dublin’s two Church of Ireland cathedrals as well as being the largest church in Ireland with a 140 foot spire. The Cathedral is in memorial to St. Patrick and his colored past in Ireland and is meant to lift the spirits of the Irish out of the realm of things and circumstances which change into a realm of things that are eternal and unchanging giving everyone a perspective in both space and time to be face-to-face with faith in God through Christ giving one true meaning and lasting satisfaction … or so states the web site. This was the hotspot of activity for St. Patrick when he passed through Dublin on his journey through Ireland baptising converts from Paganism to Christianity in the well where the Cathedral now stands. In memorial, a small wooden church was built on the site to be one of the four Celtic parishes in Dublin. John Comyn, the first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin converted this small church into a Cathedral in 1191 C.E. THe current Cathedral was erected between 1200 and 1270. Much aging, erosion, degradation, disrepair, and some fires struck the Cathedral through time. Minot’s Tower and the weset nave were rebuilt between 1362 and 1370 following a fire. St. Patrick’s became an Anglican Church of Ireland after the English Reformation (ca. 1537) even though most of the population surrounding it in the Pale was wholely Catholic. During confiscation, some of the images within the Cathedral were defaced by Thomas Cromwell’s soldiers and collapse of the Nave in 1544. Cromwell set up his stables in the Nave during his time in Dublin as a sign of his disrespect for the Anglican religion which he associated with Roman Catholicism and political Royalism. In 1560 one of Dublin’s first public clocks was placed in St. Patrick’s Steeple. In 1666 The roof was close to collapse and was replaced by 1671. When Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) became the Dean of the Cathedral from 1713-1745 he brought more attention to the needs of the Cathedral. He had himself buried there with his friend Stella who took great interest in the building and funding an almshouse for poor women and Saint Patrick’s Hospital. 1769 the infamous spire (now a Dublin landmark) was added. From 1783 until 1871 the Cathedral became home to the Chapel of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick where the Knights of St. Patrick held their ceremonies until 1871 they moved to St. Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle. By 1085 the north transept was in ruin and the south was deteriorating that emergency work had to be done on the nave roof. Funding issues, Problems with seepage of water, number of floods, and disrepair during times of religious reformation and Irish struggles – The Cathedral not being restored until 1860-1900 with a full-scale restoration done by the infamous Guinness family. Benjamin Guinness believed the Cathedral was in imminent danger of collapse especially the Victorian era artwork … unfortunately most of these were removed and never replaced now no longer surviving. Since no records were kept during the restorations not much is known as to what is genuinely medieval and what is Victorian pastiche. Even though the Church is the largest in all of Ireland, it is not the seat of a Bishop as that is held by Christ Church Cathedral with St. Patrick’s being the National Cathedral for the whole island. St. Patrick’s is operated instead by a Dean, since 1219, and the most famous of which was Jonathan Swift. St. Patrick’s was also the location for the funerals of two Irish Presidens: Dr Douglas Hyde and Erskine Hamilton in 1949 and 1974 respectively. In 2006 there was a group of 18 Afghan refugees who sought asylum within St. Patrick’s staying there until persuaded to leave a few days later. The Cathedral receives no State funding so while free for those who come to pray, ask for a small fee in tourism. In 2006 the Cathedral had over 300,000 visitors.

Continue reading St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Dublin)

Print Friendly
Share

Medieval District of Dublin


Medieval District

Dublin, Ireland

The walled district of Dublin that contains Christ Church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublinia Medieval Museum, The Brazenhead Pub, and many other landmarks is known as the “Medieval District”. As Dublin can trace its origins back beyond a 1,000 years with a good part of Ireland’s historical cultural, educational, and industrial activities taking place in this area. The Egyptian-Greek astronomer/cartographer Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus ) wrote about Dublin in 140 C.E. as the settlement called Eblana which would date Dublin to over 2,000 years old. These writings of Dublin and Eblana being the same city are still under academic debate. Dublin was believed to have begun as a Viking settlement that was later preceded by a Christian ecclesiastical settlement called Duiblinn. In the 9th-10th centuries there were two settlements where Dublin now stands. The Vikings resided in this area and called themselves “Dyflin” after the Irish “Duiblinn” or “Black Pool” referring to the dark tidal pool where the River Poddle enters the River Libbey. As a Gaelic settlement it was called “Áth Cliath” which means “ford of hurdles” located further up the river where present day Father Mathew Bridge is located at the bottom of Church Street. The Vikings ruled Dublin for almost three centuries until they were expelled in 902 C.E. They returned in 917 C.E. until they were defeated by the Irish High King Brian Boru at the battle of Clontarf in 1014 with Viking rule completely ceasing to exist by 1171 C.E. Dublin became the center of English power in Ireland after Norman invasions of southern Ireland (Munster/Leinster) from 1169-1171 C.E. when Dublin replaced Tara in Meath as the seat of the Gaelic High Kings of Ireland. After the Hiberno-Norman defeat of Dublin in 1171 C.E. most of the Norse inhabitants left the old city building a new settlement on the north side called “Oxmantown” and by 1400 C.E. the Anglo-Normans were absorbed into Irish culture. Settlers from England and Wales began populating the area. Rural areas around the city as far as Drogheda became an extensive English settlement and by the 14th century was fortified against the Native Irish becoming known as “The Pale”. English rule functioned from the Dublin Castle with landowners and merchants ruling Parliament from 1297 C.E. This was also around the time that St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church, and St. Audeon’s were established. Medieval dubliners were fearful of siege from the native Irish, walling the city where the Medieval district now sits. This fortified Medieval Dublin’s 5,000-10,000 inhabitants is a tightly knit small are of no more than 3 kilometers in circumference. Outside the city walls were suburbs such as the Liberties, on the lands of the Archbishop of Dublin, and Irishtown, where Gaelic Irish were supposed to live after having been expelled from the city proper by a 15th century law. Native Irish were forbidden to live within the walled city even though many did by the 16th century. Life during the Medieval period was very precarious and tragic. 1348 saw the lethal Black Death that ravaged all of Europe in the mid-14th century. Dubliners who died from the Black Death were buried in mass graves in the area called the “Blackpitts” and the plague lasted until 1649. Through the Middle Ages, Dublin payed protection money called “Black Rent” to Irish clans so that they would not raid the city. 1315, Edward the Bruce and his Scottish army burned Dublin’s suburbs. The English lost interest in maintaining their Irish Colony and eventually Dublin was taken back by the surrounding Irish. 1487 saw the English Wars of the Roses and in 1537 Silken Thomas besieged Dublin Castle. Henry VIII sent a large army to destroy the Fitzgerlands and replace them with English rule bringing back Dublin under English Crown rule.

Print Friendly
Share

St. Audeon’s Church

St. Audeon’s
* High Street, Dublin 8, Ireland * http://62.73.177.39/en/HistoricSites/DublinArea/StAudoensChurchDublin/ * +353 (0)1 677-0088 *

Located right next to Christ Church, St. Audeon’s Church is designated as a National Monument as one of Dublin’s earliest surviving medieval churches. The towere alone is believed to be Ireland’s oldest and its three bells date from 1423. The church has an attractive botanical churchyard with flowers, herbs, shrubs, and plush lawn. Its 15 century nave is intact and the Church is currently undergoing restoration. It stands next to St. Audeon’s Catholic Church (1847). The Churches are in the heart of the walled medieval district and is the only remaining medieval parish church in Dublin. It was dedicated to St. Ouen, the 7th century Bishop of Rouen and Patron Saint of Normandy.

Continue reading St. Audeon’s Church

Print Friendly
Share

Christ Church

Christ Church Cathedral
* http://cccdub.ie/ * Dublin, Ireland *

Christ Church also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was founded in 1030 C.E. in Dublin’s Medieval District and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The Cathedral is in Gothic style architecture and is operated by the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. It is also the cathedral of the Ecclesiastical province of the United Provinces of Dublin and Cashel in the Church of Ireland. Oddly, Christ Church is also officially claimed as the seat of both the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic archbishops of Dublin. Originally Catholic then taken over by the Church of Ireland after the English Reformation. The Church sits next to Wood Quay and is connected to the Dublinia Medieval Museum by means of a dual carriage-way building overpass. The first cathedral was founded after 1028 C.E. after the Hiberno-Norse King of Dublin, King Sitric Silkenbeard made his quest to Rome. Dunan or Donat became the first bishop that answered to Canterbury rather than the Irish Church. THe Church was built on high ground overlooking the Wood Quay Viking Settlement. Secular clergy operated the first cathedral, then in 1163, the Benedictines came in and it was converted to a Priory of the Regular Order of Arrosian Canons (Reformed Augustinian Rule) after some time which was subsequently headed by an Augustinian Prior until re-establishment in 1541 after the English Reformation in 1539. This became the Priory of the Holy Trinity which was the wealthiest religious entity in Ireland possessing over 10,000 acres of land in Dublin alone. The Church became the new church structure of King Henry VIII when he converted the Priory to a Cathedral with a Dean and Chapter. In 1547, King Edward VI suppressed St. Patrick’s Cathedral and had its treasures transferred over to Christ Church. This was reversed by Queen Mary in 1558. Queen Mary I and James I of England increased Christ Church’s funding and assets. By 1560 the Bible had its first reading in English at Christ Church. Repairs and maintenance was performed on the Cathedra from 1829-1831 and then extensively renovated and rebuilt from 1871-1878 by George Edmund Street. This demolished the 14th century choir with a new eastern end and chapter house built over the original crypt, and the tower and south nave arcade was rebuilt. More renovations were achieved from 1980-1982. The Cathedral contains the tomb of the medieval Norman-Welsh warlord Strongbow and is located in the nave. There is some debate on whether or not it really is Strongbow’s tomb as the original tomb was destroyed centuries ago and purported to have moved here. This tomb was used as the venue for legal agreements from the 16th-18th centuries. Behind the organ in the choir is the infamous mummified “Cat and Mouse” that was found trapped there and mummified by the dry air of the cathedral. The cathedral crypt, constructed in 1172-1173, is the largest crypt of its type in all of Britain and Ireland. The Crypt contains the oldest known secular carvings in Ireland, a tabernacle and set of candlesticks used when the cathedral last operated under Roman Rite, the stocks made in 1670 used to punish offenders before the Court of the Dean’s Liberty, and historic books and altar goods.

Continue reading Christ Church

Print Friendly
Share

The Mummies of St. Michan’s Church

St. Michan’s Church of Ireland and it’s Mummies
* Church Street * Dublin, Ireland * Hours: Nov-Feb: Mon-Fri 12:30-2:30pm, Sat 10am-1pm * Admission: Free to Church; Guided tour: €3.50 adults, €3 seniors and students, €2.50 children under 12 *

A little hidden secret to Dublin tourism is St. Michan’s Church. St. Michan’s was named after a Danish Bishop. The Church is most famous for its ancient Viking origins, it’s 18th century organ, its mummies in the basement that were an inspiration for Bram Stoker in doing Dracula. The Church was built on the site of a Danish chapel that was originally founded in 1095 C.E. by he Danish colony in Oxmanstown, located near 4 Courts, and for many centuries was the only parish on its side of the Liffey River. It served the Viking population that was expelled from within the city walls. It was rebuilt in 1685 to serve a more prosperous congregation by Sir Humphrey Jervis and restored in 1998 and is now under control of the Protestant Church of Ireland. Church may have been designed by Sir William Robinson, Ireland’s Surveyor General. The Church has fabulous woodwork, a large 1725 organ which is legendary to have been played by Handel for his “Messiah”, has a 1516 chalice, a Penitent’s Stool, and and 18h century font and pulpit. Its biggest attraction is in its crypt where the dry climate created by limestone walls has preserved centuries old bodies intact like mummies. The Church runs guided tours down into the stone tunnels that are lined with decaying coffins, haunted burial chambers, and crumbling corpses can be seen up front and maybe even touched. Amongst the Deceased are the notorious Four: a 400 year old Nun on the left, A woman on the right, a thief – as he is missing a hand and both feet in the center, and towards the rear – A 6 and a half foot man believed Possibly to be a Crusader who was sawn in half to fit into the coffin – he’s the most intriguing as one of his hands is lifted slightly in the air. Folklore states that Bram Stoker visited this crypt and it is responsible for part of his inspiration for Dracula. The last room in the corridor holds the coffins of the Sheare brothers who were executed for the 1798 Rising as they were hung, drawn, and quartered by the British. Also buried here is Oliver Bond, another 1798 Rising participant; the Mahematician William Rowan Hamilton; and maybe even the remains of Robert Emmet who was executed during the 1803 Rising.

Continue reading The Mummies of St. Michan’s Church

Print Friendly
Share

St. Michan’s Church, Dublin

St. Michan’s Church
* 8 E Church St * DUBLIN 3, Co. Dublin, Ireland * 01 8724154 *
One of Ireland’s most macabre and spooky sites, St. Michan’s Church is an early Danish chapel that was built in 1095, then reconstructed in 1686 as a church, and may be the only parish church built on the north side of the Liffey that survived from a Viking foundation. The exterior is very bland, but the interior has fine woodworking, a beautifuly 1724 organ, a simple church, and creepy vaults beneath. Underneath the church in its crypts are many naturally mummified remains of the dead so haunting that they inspired Braum Stoker with Dracula. Because the walls of the vaults contain limestone that keep the air dry, the bones were able to preserve on their own – and its dead are infamous as a 400 year old nun, a 6 and 1/2 foot tall man who is thought to be a crusader, and a body with its hands and feet severed – a thief, and the Sheares brothes – Henry and John who were part of the 1798 rebellion. Many claim the church and crypts to be very haunted. Tours are open on Saturdays and some weekdays.

Continue reading St. Michan’s Church, Dublin

Print Friendly
Share

St. Mary’s Abbey of Dublin

St. Mary’s Abbey
Dublin, Ireland

St. Mary’s Church
On the corner of St. Jervis and Mary Street, St. Mary’s Church of Ireland was one of Ireland’s earliest examples of a galleried church. It was built in the early 18th century, boasting of the Renatus Harris organ and spectacular stained glass windows. As it fell in ruin, it closed its doors in 1964 until it was taken over by John Keating in 1997, restored and re-opened as John M. Keating’s Bar in 2005. By 2007 it became the “Church Bar and Restaurant” as a Cafe, Juice Bar, Night Club, and Barbeque Restaurant. The Church was infamous, as Arthur Guinness was married here in 1761; John Wesley the Founder of the Methodist Church did his first Irish sermon here (1747); it saw the baptisms of Sean O’ Casey the Playwright/Author of ‘The Plough & The Stars’, ‘June & the Paycock’, & ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’; Theobald Wolf Tone; and Jonathan Swift (Author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’), and the Earl of Charlemont attended service here. Mary Mercer, founder of Mercer’s Hospital and the Hanging Judge Lord Norbury are buried here.

St. Mary’s Abbey
* Meetinghouse Lane, Off Capel Street and Mary’s Abbey Street * Dublin 1, Co. Ireland, Ireland * 01 8721490 *
Down a creepy alley, John our ghost tour guide asks us if we feel unsettled in this very alley. I must admit, something was amiss. This back alley enters into the hidden secret of Dublin – St. Mary’s Abbey, founded in 1130, one of the wealthiest Cistercian Abbey in Ireland. There are only two rooms remaining of the original Abbey – the Chapter House and the Slype. This Abbey had alot of involvement in the affairs of Ireland until it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. This is where “Silken” Thomas Fitzgerland began his unsuccessful 1534 rebellion, and is how the Abbey is mentioned in the “Wandering Rocks” chapter of Ulysses by James Joyce. Today it houses a fascinating exhibition constructed by the Public Works and the Dublin Archaeological Society, with Trinity College’s History of Art Department. The Abbey was only recently re-discovered, 7 feet underground, under a bakery in the 1880’s. Some say ghosts walk the alley and can be seen in the remaining rooms of the Abbey. Oddly, perhaps because the bakery above could have housed ghosts, someone leaves bread here all the time that requires the Council to post a sign to “Stop leaving Bread Here”. Please don’t feed the ghosts.

Continue reading St. Mary’s Abbey of Dublin

Print Friendly
Share

Wolfe Tone Square (Dublin, Ireland)

Wolf Tone Square
Corner of Mary Street and Jervis Street, Dublin, Ireland

Desecrated Cemetery behind Church Bar (formerly St. Mary’s Church) that is now a City Park.

I walked through this park many times during my 2 week visit to Dublin … little did I know it was a grave yard. Formerly St. Mary’s Church, which is now the Church Bar Nightclub and restaurant, used to have a graveyard where this small city park now sits. St. Mary’s Parish was a large and wealthy church – as soon as the graveyard became overcrowded by the mid-nineteenth century – that “in order to make room for others, bodies were taken up in absolute state of putrefaction, to the great and dangerous annoyance of the vicinity”. The Churchyard eventually became a playground by the 1940’s and the tombstones were just piled against the wall. The Church of Ireland sold the graveyard in 1966 to the Dublin Corporation who converted it to the current “Wolfe Tone Memorial Park” and they moved the headstones around the perimeter. The park has never been successful except as a drinking spot for the youth. Ghost hunters and sensitives claim the land is haunting and much unrest is here, with reports of spirits wandering around during the day and night as well as many lured into suicides upon what is known as hanging trees. A revisit in 2012 saw a hauntingly empty carnival perched atop the remnants of graves no longer held sacred or respected as tires rest against the etchings.

Continue reading Wolfe Tone Square (Dublin, Ireland)

Print Friendly
Share