Category Archives: Folklore & Folk Culture

Our section for folklore and folk culture – the arts, lore, ways, beliefs, thoughts, and practices of the common folk, country folk, Pagans, heathens, simple folk consisting of hand-made, traditional, family-based context. Join us in the articles and information below for all things folk …

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.

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The Orient Land Trust, Villa Grove, Colorado

Orient Land Trust / Valley View Hot Springs

The Orient Land Trust a.k.a. “Valley View Hot Springs”
info@olt.org, olt.org * PO Box 65, Villa Grove, CO 81155-0065 * 719.256.4315 * 9 am – 10 pm. Open to the public 7 days a week – closed December 1st – 28th.
This fantastic Land trust is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources, wildlife habitat, open space, historic and geologic features of the northern San Luis Valley for the enjoyment of current and future generations. The OLT protects a humongous bat colony, hot springs, alternative energy use, and is well known for its high altitude dark skies for astronomy, exposed active geological fault, limestone caves, numerous trails, historic buildings, town sites at an abandoned iron mine, and a working ranch. The OLT is a naturist community (clothing optional) with 24 hour access to the hotsprings when camping or renting their rustic lodging cabins. They limit the number of visitors based on space availability and environmental impact. For current pictures and views … visit their web site, linked above. The entire grounds are clothing optional – while the majority of the guests tend to swim and soak without swimsuits, there is no pressure either way. The OLT welcomes a diverse clientele of couples, singles, and families from all walks of life – children are always welcome, though require supervision. They offer camping and cabins, their indoor lodging have heat and electricity, though there are no telephones, clocks, radios, or tvs in any of the rooms. All of the ponds and pools are outdoors – there are no private pools or hot tubs – there are four natural ponds with temperatures ranging in the 90’s, an 80′ long spring-fed swimming pool (no chlorine) in the high 80’s, and a heated hot pool around 105 degrees. Our visit to this fantastic resort was over the weekend of 11/10-11/11. A must visit for any hot springs or naturalist enthusiast. Rating 5 stars out of 5.

Additional Visit: 1/24-1/25/09. 2/16/17-2/18/17. Excellent visit.

Orient Land Trust / Valley View Hot Springs (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=164); near Moffat, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Miramont Castle (Manitou Springs)

Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Miramont Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421)

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

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

Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Miramount Castle (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=29421&preview=true); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

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Rock Creek Farm Corn Maze, Denver, CO

Rock Creek Farm Corn Maze ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28063) - Halloween Fun 2016 - Sir Thomas and the Prince, Denver, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken October 30, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Rock Creek Farm Corn Maze

Rock Creek Farm Corn Maze
~ 2005 S US Highway 287,
Broomfield, Colorado ~ (303) 465-9565 ~ https://www.facebook.com/RockCreekFarm/ ~

This year, for Halloween fun, we joined together with some close friends and high tailed it to the Rock Creek Farm for their miles of corn mazes to explore. It was my son’s first experience tromping around such custom-styled, aerial view famed mazes such as these. Rock Creek has hundreds of acres of pumpkin patches and corn fields ready to explore and enjoy for the Fall holidays. The U-Pick-Em pumpking fields are great places to get your festivity decor and pumpkins. They have a petting farm with pigs, ponies, goats, donkeys, chickens, and other farm animals. They have bouncy houses and inflatable slides, rolling balls, and other games to partake in. Many activities are free, others were a bit pricey. They did put a lot of work into creating these fields. We had a great time. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Rock Creek Farm Corn Maze ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28063) - Halloween Fun 2016 - Sir Thomas and the Prince, Denver, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken October 30, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Rock Creek Farm Corn Maze ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=28063) – Halloween Fun 2016 – Sir Thomas and the Prince, Denver, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken October 30, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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2016 Vinotok Fall Festival (Crested Butte, Colorado)

Vinotok Fall Equinox Festival ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27751) - New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken September 24, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Vinotok Fall Equinox Festival ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27751)

Vinotok Festival”
Middle/Late September Annually
Crested Butte, Colorado
https://www.facebook.com/Vinotok-112218345485150/

Annually around the Fall Equino or after, there is held a major free Fall Festival held by the small town of Crested Butte, Colorado in the heart of their downtown. Activities and festivities are actually held week long, with the cusp and end being the big public procession, trial, theater, and burning of the Grump – a huge bonfire held just at the end of Main Street. This year, 2016 marked its 31st year – and it was a spectacle to enjoy and be part of. Annually this multi-cultural grassroots celebration of the Crested Butte community spirit gathering, celebrating the vital energy and harvest of Crested Butte founders, citizens, and elders who settled the valley, mining and farming, homesteading and ranchers for the bounty and gifts they’ve enjoyed in their history. With a Indo-European Wicker Man harvest festival twist, the spirit of the land and valley is celebrated. Rites and rituals, feasts and events are held, with the final Saturday night involving magical Maidens and Lads led by the Green Men and Harvest mothers into the streets, mumming into each restaurant and bar, luring out the patrons into the streets for the grand trial of the Grump – a large wicker man who is processioned down the streets to the bonfire circle where he is banished and burnt with other effigies into the night – dancing, drumming, and chanting. Everyone pouring in their grumps for the magic to be actualized.

The event is free except for the feast on Friday night. Free camping options available on forestry and BLM land a short drive away.

Vinotok Fall Equinox Festival ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27751) - New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken September 24, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Vinotok Fall Equinox Festival ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=27751) – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken September 24, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Bridge of the Gods, Oregon

Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken June 6, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ).

Bridge of the Gods
~ Columbia River, Cascade Locks, Oregon ~

Legend has it that this area was home to a magnificent land bridge manifested by the Gods of the local Native Americans. Today it is a steel toll bridge crossing the Columbia River connecting Interstate 84 with Washington State Road 14. It is one of the few crossings between Oregon and Washington.

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

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

History
In 1920 the U.S. War Department issued a construction permit for the bridge to be built for the Interstate Construction Corporation. By 1925 one pier was constructed and the project seemed a failure until the Wauna Toll Bridge Company purchased the project in October 1926 for just over $602,000. They built a large canti-lever bridge with a 707’9″ main span and 211’8″ anchor arms extending 1,131 feet with an overall length of 1,858 feet / 35 feet width across the Columbia River. The original model had a wooden deck and was only 91 feet over the water surface. The bridge had to be raised after the construction of the Bonneville Dam to handle the backwater. This upgrade was funded in part by Congress in 1940 for just over $762,000. The bridge was taken over in 1953 by the Columbia River Bridge Company and eventually purchased by the Port of Cascade Locks Commission for $950,000 on November 1, 1961.

Modern Times
The steel construct of the modern “Bridge of the Gods” is owned and operated by the Port authority of Cascade Locks, Oregon. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and costs $1.00 to cross for an average automobile. Before the current model, there was a much more spectacular construct. It is a canti-levered bridge that is the third oldest bridge found on the Columbia River.

Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken June 6, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Cascade Locks Marina ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26681 ). Volcanic Legacy: Chronicle 25 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Idaho & Wyoming. Photos taken June 6, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21521. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Sol Duc Hot Springs, Olympic National Forest, Washington

Sol Duc Hotsprings (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26101); Olympic National Park (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099), Washington. Exploring Olympic Peninsula - Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 25, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Sol Duc Hotsprings (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26101); Olympic National Park (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099), Washington. Exploring Olympic Peninsula – Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 25, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

Sol Duc Hotsprings and Campground, Olympic National Forest, WA
http://www.olympicnationalparks.com/lodging/sol-duc-hot-springs-resort/

As opposed to the rustic natural state of the Olympic Hot Springs, Sol Duc is the developed National Park Service hot springs resort in the Olympic National Forest. We wound up going here when we found out the road to Olympic Hot Springs had been washed out (March 2016). Sol Duc is well known for its pool, soaking tubs, and camping. It lies off the natural springs dotting the Sol Duc River. The original inhabitants of the area – various Native American tribes who frequented the Springs, believed them to be healing and therapeutic. Euro-Americans took over the area in the 1880’s as usual pushing out the aboriginal visitors. They opened a resort in 1912 here but it was burnt down in 1916. It was rebuilt in the 1920’s with less scale operating until the 1970s until problems with the spring occured. After the problems were resolved it was rebuilt again in the 1980s operating since. The current Springs are operated and managed by the National Park Service, open for visitors from March 25 until October 30th each year. The pools can be accessed from 7:30 am until 10 pm daily. Cabins and campsites are available for overnight lodging. There are 32 cabins that sleep 4 each, dining facilities on site, gift shop, store, a river suite that sleeps 10, 17 RV sites, and a primitive campground. There is no wifi, telephones, television, or radios offered. There are three modern pools, regulated and cleaned daily to soak within.

Folklore: Native American lore talk about two dragons who lived in the adjoining valleys who often would fight together. Their fights would be so fierce that the trees in the mountain’s upper realms would be destroyed so badly they would never grow back. The dragons experienced a even match each fight, and never able to prevail against one another. After years of struggling they each retired to their own valley, living under the earth, and it is their hot tears that feed the waters of the springs creating the hot springs – the Olympic Hot Springs and Sol Duc.

Geology: The springs are located on or near the Calawah fault zone extending from the southeastern Olympics to the northwest into the Pacific Ocean. The water is vented from a hot spring caused by geothermal heat coming up from the Earth’s mantle by geothermal gradient with water percolating up after contact from the hot rocks. Because the hot water dissolves solids, high mineral content is mixed in the waters ranging from calcium to lithium even radium causing healing effects on bodies soaked in them. The Springs are managed by Olympic National Park.

Sol Duc Hotsprings (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26101); Olympic National Park (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099), Washington. Exploring Olympic Peninsula - Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 25, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Sol Duc Hotsprings (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26101); Olympic National Park (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099), Washington. Exploring Olympic Peninsula – Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 25, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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Gougane Barra

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Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

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Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

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Gougane Barra, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

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

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Binne’s Cairn: The Giant’s Grave, Curraghbinny Woods, Cork, Ireland

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Binne’s Cairn, The Giant’s Grave, Curraghbinny Hill, Ireland

The Giant’s Grave: Binne’s Cairn
* Curraghbinny Woods, County Cork, Munster, Ireland * Latitude: 51°48’41.35″ * Longitude: -8°17’52.72″ *

Atop the summit of Curraghbinny Hill in Curraghbinny Forest Recreation Area lies a mound of giant stones/ cairn that is locally called “The Giant’s Grave”. The grave overlooks Cork Harbour. It was excavated by an archaeological team in 1932 by archaeologist Sean P. O’Riordan. During this excavation, a large circle of giant boulders were uncovered beneath a spread of stones. Within the cairn was an arc of smaller stones closer to the center. In the center of the monument was a heap of stone and clay. That is all found within the cairn. Nearby however were found cattle teeth, cattle bone, charcoal, cremated human bone, a small bronze ring, and two collections of water-rolled pebbles imported from elsewhere. The cremated human bone found nearby was carbon dated roughly to be 4,000 years old. No one knows the exact date of the cairn, but it is estimate to be Bronze Age (2000 B.C.E. to 400 B.C.E.). The name of the woods “Curraghbinny” in Irish is “Corra Binne” named after the legendary giant called Binne. It is believed that this cairn is his burial chamber atop the hill (called a “Corra” in Irish). The stone most likely was deposited naturally during the Ice Age 20,000 years ago. The Giant’s Stone in Crosshaven went missing after the slob in the town center was filled in and was recently recovered and brought back to be displayed in the middle of Crosshaven.

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Binne’s Cairn, The Giant’s Grave, Curraghbinny Hill, Ireland

The legend of the Giant named Binne
According to Robert Day who told the tale in 1892 about a giant named Mahain who threw two stones from Monkstown landing in Ringaskiddy and the other in Crosshaven. It is believed this was the Giant named Binne. Another local tale tells a similar tale, but this time the Giant was called Binne, and lived locally in Currabinny. He was the giant who cast the stones into Crosshaven years ago. The stone apparently has a set of fingerprints embedded into the stone leading viewers of it to believe they belonged to a giant.

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Binne’s Cairn, The Giant’s Grave, Curraghbinny Hill, Ireland

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

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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

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

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

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

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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Pilgrim cross scratches / etchings

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

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

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Saint Ghobnatan (St. Gobnata) of Ballyvourney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relics and Artifacts:

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

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

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

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Tobar Ghobnatan Cross Etchings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading Tobar Ghobnatan Cross Etchings

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Tobar Ghobnatan Wishing Trees

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Tobar Ghobnatan Rag Trees (Wishing Tree)
* Tobar Ghobnatan * Ballyvourney (a.k.a. Baile Bhuirne), County Cork, Ireland *

Main Article Here: http://www.naiads.org/well/?p=363

A grand example of a large wishing tree (or rag tree) can be found at Tobar Ghobnatan in County Cork Ireland. It is a magical space of charm and tradition, with holy wells, shrines, mythology, and magical spots. 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. When I walked through this archway, I immediately spied a 3/4 large ring of mushrooms known as a Fairy Ring. 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. The well has steps down into it, but can often be difficult without crawling on your knees to get at the magical waters. There are two taps nearby where one can retrieve the water. All over this tree are paper and cloth rags, fabric clooties (cloughties), and plastic remnants tied to the branches. Sometimes these can be found in the hundreds of individual offerings and prayer petitions. However, according to gossip, the local Church cleans up the tree on occasion, removing the rags and tokens. Whether or not this is true is unknown, but not many items here look really old so it might be true. The concept is to leave behind something of yourself or someone that you love that is in need of prayers, healing, or petitions. The concept with the rags is that when it decays so will the illness that it represents. This is a kind of sympathetic magical rite. Unfortunately some pilgrims to the sites don’t realize how the spell or magic works. You can see this when they tie a piece of a plastic bag on the tree. Plastic will take forever to decay, so will the illness it is to represent. If only they knew! In addition to the rags, others leave coins, jewelry, rings, prayer cards, figurines, toys, personal effects, clothing items such as belts, shoes, garments, and trinkets. The cloutie and Wish trees found at Tobar Ghobnatan are considered to be dedicated to the Matron Saint of Ballyvourney and sacred Bee-Keeping mistress, Saint Ghobnatan holy pilgrimage site and monastic settlement known as “Tobar Ghobnatan”. This is the legendary home of St. Gobnait/Ghobnatan. It is located a kilometer south of the village of Ballyvourney where her church Móin Mór (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOTH WELLS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tobar Ghobnatan (St. Gobnait’s House, Church, Cemetery, Statue, & Well)

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

Named after the Matron Saint of Ballyvourney and sacred Bee-Keeping mistress, Saint Ghobnatan, this site is a holy pilgrimage location 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 St. Ghobnatan’s church Móin Mór (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built. The site is believed to have been a pre-Christian Pagan site used to smelt bronze and iron. There are also 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. Gobnait’s Well” and “St. Abban’s Well”. This Christian site was believed to have been founded first by St. Abban who founded a convent here and giving it to Saint Gobnait. It is however, primarily attributed to St. Gobnait, and both wells seem to carry her name and reputation, even though there is controversy as to which well belongs to which Saint.

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The Statue of St. Gobnait

St. Gobnait’s cult and laity, as well as the Catholic population of the area, often come to the site for recreation, hiking, prayers, petitions, and doing the rounds or turas. However, every February 11th, the date that St. Gobnait was believed to pass away (year unknown), has become her official “Feast Day” which calls for tribute and celebrations for her. Pilgrims to the site do these rounds on the feast day by coming to the statue (station 1) and processing in a clockwise direction around the site scratching crosses on the stones of each station as they do their rounds. Just to the left of the statue the pilgrims begin reciting three sets of prayers seven times each at each station making a very long day to the rite and ritual involved. These are seven “Our Father” prayers, seven “Hail Mary’s” prayers, and seven “Glories of Christ”. The statue was erected in 1950 C.E. The turas however are believed to be done in the general vicinity of the statue for at least since the 17th century. No date is certain when the pilgrimage and practice began.

St. Gobnait’s Kitchen or House
Next to the statue is a round stone circular hut that is believed to have been either the kitchen or house of St. Gobnait. During construction of the statue and excavation of the site, post holes were found suggesting that the site was used for production of various crafts. From the 1800’s until 1950’s the hut and site was in complete ruin. The hut and site was restored after the site was excavated in 1950 by M.J. O’Kelly who rebuilt it to its current state. The excavations suggested that the site was used for metal craft working up to the early medieval period based on large amounts of iron smelting slag, a crucible, and other metal working artifacts found on the site. There are also Bullaun Stones found on the site. These were believed to have been used to grind metal ores in. It is believed the hut was a later addition and that the site’s original first use was for bronze or iron working. The circular hut, which has been restored, has an internal diameter of 6 meters. It was believed to have been used by iron and bronze smelters. 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). The House or Kitchen was deemed the second station of the turas. Here is the best example of the crude crosses scratched into the stones and markers during the turas on the site. This is done on the portal stones when they enter the hut, and on some of the stones atop the wall. Since this hut has evidence of an earlier site for smelting iron and bronze, folklore ties it to an earlier being or Deity … that of Goibnui, the Smith of the Tuatha Dé Danann that might be whom St. Gobnait replaced. One of the holy wells stands before the entrance to the hut. This one is definitely listed as St. Gobnait’s Well. The main well, found on the right hand side of the road down the hill before one comes up to the right side of the road as one drives up to the site. This main well is also called St. Gobnait’s Holy Well, of which both were revered as a site of healing waters and magic from their early beginnings to this very date.

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The Graveyard / Church yard
The cemetery is a fabulous find just in of itself. Some of the grave markers are fantastically carved and decorated. Celtic crosses dot the landscape. There is a large sculpture of a woman believed to be a Goddess standing on an egg with a snake curled around her feet that is interpreted by some modern day Pagans as being a sculpture of the White Goddess. There is no documentation to authenticate this however. St. Gobnait’s purported grave is located here. This is marked Stations 3 and 4 on the pilgrimage stations/turas map. This consists of 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 rests. 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.

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The Ballyvourney Church – Stations 5-9 is the medieval church that is located in the graveyard. It is one of the major stops for pilgrims doing their rounds and is a location of more cross scratchings/etchings that are made during the turas/stations/rounds. This church was built atop an earlier church that may have been the original Móin Mór (a.k.a. Bairnech) church of St. Gobnait. Pilgrims begin at the northwest corner of the earlier foundation noted as station 5 and cite seven “Our Fathers”, “Hail Marys”, and “Glories” at each station. They go in a clock-wise direction circling the church saying a decade of the rosary visiting station 5 four times and all the other stations once. Station 6 can be found in the east wall window of the chancel where the altar was believed to first had rested. After prayers were made, they circle the church, re-enter, and pray at station 7 – rubbing the Sheela-na-gig carving above it which many believe is an image of St. Gobnait. Near the Sheela-Na-gig is the Flagstone of the Thief. The Flagstone of the Thief found in the graveyard and church ruins is believed to represent the tale when St. Gobnait fastened the thief and the cows he stole to the flagstone on which they were standing when they were caught, and the feet/hooves imprinted themselves upon the stone. There is a tale of this flagstone that states a robber once came to the church yard and tried to erect his own shrine here. Once Saint Gobnait learned of this, she took her bowl and threw it at the shrine, thereby destroying it. Since then, the bowl has been located along the west wall of the church and is a place where pilgrims go to touch it with a personal item used to gain healing.

Both of these particular carvings are believed to date from the 15th century C.E. From here the pilgrims would proceed to station 8 just outside of the south wall where the Chanel meets the wider nave. They would circumambulate the church again stopping at station 9 on the south side of the west wall just above the top of the steps at St. Gobnait’s Bowl. Pilgrims would reach into the bowl and touch the stone. Folklore states this bowl was used by St. Gobnait to defeat a local chief who was building near her monastery by destroying his fort. The final station is at St. Abban’s Holy Well (station 10). Here at the church each 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.

No one knows for sure when the pilgrimages began at this site. Many believe early Pagan faiths came to this location for other reasons, most likely to pay tribute and make offerings at the fairy wells. Once Christianity took over the site, pilgrimages probably did not occur until after the death of St. Gobnait in the mid to late 16th century C.E. The earliest written accounts of pilgrimages to Ballyvourney date to the early 1600’s C.E. The Pope Clement VIII in 1601 granted a special indulgence of 10 years to those who came here on the feast day, went to Confession and Communion and prayed for peace among the “Christian princes”, for the expulsion of heresy, and for the exaltation of the church. Other works of art such as the poetry of Dáibhidh Ó Bruidar, the writings of Don Philip Ó Súilleabháin and Seathrún Céitinn clearly demonstrate that by the late 16th century the Saint Gobnait cult was strong and thriving. Donal Cam Ó Súilleabháin during his escape from Béara came to this monastic site in 1603 C.E. with his men to pray to Saint Gobnait offering her gifts asking for her protection. In 1645 C.E. the Papal Nunico Rinuccini wrote about the Cult as well from descriptions of his visit. In 1687 C.E. Sir Richard Cox wrote about Ballyvourney as being home to the Gobnait cult and location of the holy relic that makes cures and miracles to the pilgrims there, referring to the 13th century figurine of St. Gobnait used by the parish during the feast day. Traditionally the relics of Saint Gobnait were in the care of the O’Hierlihy family. It was cared for by this family until 1843 when it was passed on to the Parish priest. Today, the figurine is in care of the local Parish priest.

It is worthy to note that a ring fort that could have had ties with the Pagan pre-Christian use of the site, was destroyed by a local farmer. Information about this incident can be found at http://corkarchaeologist.wordpress.com/destruction-of-ringforts/. There are other wells dedicated to Saint Gobnait throughout Ireland. A magical well in Dunguin exists by the school house that consists of a shrine and well. Another is in Kilgore called the “Tovar Ghobnait” that is enclosed with two pillar stones and a cross stone. It is an ancient stone with a water mark impression that holds rainwater, and is said that the bowl never goes empty. During the summer months it is also said that the wild roses growing around the site will never root if transplanted elsewhere. It was here 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.

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

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

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

Continue reading Tobar Ghobnatan (St. Gobnait’s House, Church, Cemetery, Statue, & Well)

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St. Columb’s Rill, Northern Ireland

St. Columb’s Rill, Northern Ireland

The source of the magic for the infamous Bushmill’s Irish Malt Whiskey, these volcanic blessed waters is the life stream of the elixirs produced at the Bushmill’s Distillery for over 400 years (1608). Saint Columb’s Rill is a tributary of the “an Bhuais” (River Bush) of Northern Ireland. The Rill is actually a rivulet, or really small stream, that rises in bog land five miles southeast of the Bushmill’s Village in County Antrim. It is named after the Patron Saint “Columba” of Derry/Doire. It is one of the inspired waters creating the art of Irish Whiskey known as “Uisce Beatha” Gaelic for “Water of Life”. It is the distinct mineral composition of these waters that gives Bushmill’s its distinct flavor, combined with the arts the distillery uses to distill them, triple distilled in copper stills, and matured to spirits in oak casks.

Saint Columba was a distinguished student of Saint Finnian in 546 C.E. (Common Era) when the monastic settlement of Derry was formed and established by him. Saint Columba was fascinated by magical and healing waters, and the Rill was no different legend states. Being concerned with the health of his community, he identified and recommended various springs and water sources for people to drink from. He was one of the twelve Apostles of Ireland who sailed across the Irish Sea in 563 C.E. beginning missionary work in the lands that became Scotland. They sailed to Iona, a small island where they created the “Cradle of Christianity” in Scotland.

Geology – The water that feeds Saint Columb’s Rill, comes up from limestone and sedimentary rock before passing through basalt and igneous rock gaining small quantities of calcium and magnesium which makes the water alkaline and slightly hard. This process feeds off the elements of the remains of former volcanic activity of the area that is much attached to the fabled Slemish Mountain 30 miles to the south which was the dormant plug of the volcano that created these stones. This mountain is riddled with faerie lore as well as Christian roots with being the home of Saint Patrick when he was taken to Ireland as a slave being the place he tended sheep and pigs in 405 C.E.

As The Rill moves northeast, it flows across acidic Sphagnum peat lands before making its way to the village of Bushmills. This colors the water brown and gives it its’ distinctive peat flavor. It is cherished so much by the region that it is protected and monitored by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency guaranteed not to be ever tainted or polluted. They had one incident in 2012 that was stopped once discovered that had to do with peat harvesting for fuel. The Bushmill’s Distillery lies in the direct path of Saint Columb’s Rill and captures some of the fast moving waters into their private reservoir holding in excess of 2.2 million gallons at any given time. The rest of the Rill runs underneath the distillery and discharges into the River bush, finding its way into the Atlantic at Portballintrae where the Giant’s Causeway lies.

In earlier years, there were four other distilleries licensed to operate near Bushmill’s utilizing the Rill. These have purportedly been closed since. The Bushmill’s Inn opened the Saint Columb’s Rill Relaxation Room that provides guests with a range of homeopathic procedures and treatments using the Saint Columb’s Rill waters for spiritual and physical healing.

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Montezuma Well

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Montezuma Well
* Montezuma Well and Montezuma Castle, Arizona *

One of my favorite wells in America, this Native American sacred site is phenomenal and full of mystery! When driving up to the Well, just north of Montezuma Castle, its a small 1/3 mile hike up a short hill to a naturally occurring spring in a sink hole thriving for hundreds if not thousands of years in the desert. Over the top of the sink hole is a series of empty cliff dwellings, caves, and ruins of stone pueblos from peoples who used to live at the sacred spring. It was formed by an enormous limestone cavern collapsing into the spring forming the sinkhole that you see here. From prehistoric cultures to a 14th century farm, the ruins on this National Park property is enticing on their own with the magical spring as icing on the cake. This natural oasis is like none other as a natural well with a never-ending supply of water for a region where water is very scarce. The waters in this spring well up from deep underground caverns and flow constantly out into the sinkhole and down through the boulders into the nearby river. The sinkhole measures approximately 368 feet across and 55 to 120 feet deep with an elevation of 3,618 feet above sea level. The well’s spring water trickles down through the limestone boulders into Beaver Creek, the sacred outlet being a spring hole under the boulders from the sinkhole and is most likely the the revered sacred outlet of the spring.

Over 15 million gallons (57 million liters) springing forth from these primordial origins. The geology of the area is very unique providing refuge to various species of animals, plants, and creatures that are found no where else in the world. This contributes to the sacredness it possesses to early peopling in the area, especially those living at Montezuma Castle cliff dwellings. The name “Montezuma” is a misnomer, as he most likely never visited nor knew of this place. The Hopi called it “Yuvukva” meaning “sunken spring” or “Tawapa” meaning “sun spring”. The Yavapai called it “Ah-hah gkith-gygy-vah” meaning “broken water”. The Western Apache called it “Tu sitch’iL meaning “Water breaks open”. The spring and sinkhole is embedded into emergence mythologies and is a place of origins to many tribes. The communities that settled here were able to exist here for several centuries. No one is sure of why these people left, but it could have been a build-up of low-level arsenic found in the waters affecting their health over time. The Dwellings date from the 1100’s of the Common Era (C.E) through 1400 C.E. when large networks of pueblo-communities set up their villages in the Verde Valley especially at Sacred Mountain and Montezuma Castle.

The two peoples that lived in this area well recorded were the Hohokam and the Sinagua. The first settlers were believed to be the Hohokan, a Pima word for “all used up”. They lived in pit houses made of sticks, poles, and mud irrigating crops of beans, corn, and squash. The second peoples were the Sinagua. Sinagua means “without water” in Spanish, and may have related to the disappearance of the people when droughts hit the area. The Sinagua created the cliff dwellings and pueblos upwards of 55 rooms in the area. They primarily farmed the area as well as some hunting. They were master craftspeople creating tools, manos, metates, ornaments, and garments. Natives first occupied the area around 2,000 years ago – along the Verde River and Beaver Creek. The peoples went through waves of occupations and disappeared almost as quickly as overnight. Archaeologists pondered the reason for this, from low levels of arsenic in the waters making them ill over time, drought, exhausted soil, diseases, wars with marauding tribes coming into the area, or viral outbreaks. No one knows for sure, but when they left, they left the dwellings in the same condition as they had inhabited them.

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This sink hole has been a mystery to everyone who has encountered it. Science today is still stumped about its complexities – its depth, its source, and its constant flow. It is considered quite miraculous. The Yavapai and Apache peoples believe that once something emerges from its vents at the bottom of the well, it can never return. Oral traditions tell of the spirit of a great water serpent that still lives here called “Ah-hah bavilwaja” or “water monster”. That has been true, even to science. Even when a regional drought is taking effect on the area, a sweet 1.6 million gallons flow through its main vents every day at a fairly regular consistency and nearly constant 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius). Science thinks they might have an idea where the water originated and is constantly investigating with National Park Service dive teams. 55 feet deep, fluidized fine sand boiling up in swirling cascading mounds creating the mirage of a false bottom as the vents are another 65 feet deeper making measuring its depth difficult. They tried to put research equipment in and just as the legend dictates, could never get them in, they would always be pushed out. Specialists of all kinds have come to study the well through the years. The geology of the well tells its formation was between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago from precipitation atop the Mogollan Rim peculating down through hundreds of yards of rock, basalt flows, Coconino sandstone, Supal Group, Hermit Shales and others until it reached the relatively permeable Red wall Limestone beneath trickling towards the Spring that is Montezuma Well. The waters and soils combined with an underground dike of volcanic basalt forcing it back to the surface after its ten-millennium journey. Geological patterns and ripples of travertine just 1/3 of a mile around the spring are remains of another massive dome created by yet an older spring than the existing one in Montezuma Well. There are no fish within these waters, just thousands of freshwater leeches and is home to creatures found nowhere else on the planet. Since there are high levels of dissolved carbon dioxide – 80 times higher than any other lake, life is impossible for the fish, amphibians, and aquatic insects to settle here. The well is home to only 5 living species with the leeches being the top of the food chain. These are (1) Endemic leeches, (2) amphipods, (3) snails, (4) diatoms, and (5) water scorpions. The amphipods risk going to the surface to feed on microscopic algae trying to escape the leeches during the late afternoon sunlight. Once darkness folds, the leeches rise and feast on them. Migrating ducks, native sonoran mud turtles, and muskrats often come in and swim the waters on occasion as well. Around the edge of the spring is quite a varied assortment of plant and animal live. The plant life include the One seed Juniper, Arizona Sycamore, Arizona Walnut, Acacia, Velvet Mesquite, Velvet Ash, Joint-fir, Ephedra plant, Cliff-rose, Brittle bush, Salt Bush, Creosote Bush, Desert Broom, Spanish Dagger, Indian paintbrush, gray thistle, hedgehog cactus, gray thistle, pale evening prim rose, penstemon, prickle poppy, prickly pear, jimsonweed, milkvetch, yellow columbine, maidenhair spleenwort, and Globemallow. Animal life include deer, raven, american wigeons, coots, cinnamon teal, canadian geese, gadwalls, ruddy ducks, mallards, robin, roadrunner, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, american kestrel, belted kingfisher, gamble’s quail, cardinal, canyon wren, black phoebe, gila woodpecker, great blue heron, lesser goldfinch, mourning doves, red-shafted flicker, gopher snakes, bull snacks, rattlesnakes, collared lizard, horned toad, cottontail rabbit, javelina, skunks, arizona gray fox, porcupine, beaver, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit, and jackrabbits.

While Native Americans inhabited this region for hundreds if not thousands of years, the first white explorer to come to the well was the Spanish explorer Antonio de Espejo during his 1583 expedition. He basically described the Montezuma casle and well site in his journal as an abandoned pueblo with a ditch running from a nearby pond. Early settlers believed the cliff dwellings belonged to the Aztec emperor Montezuma which gave root to the naming misnomer. The castle was actually home to the Sinagua Indians and deserted a century before Montezuma was even born.

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Icelandic Wonders Museum

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Icelandic Wonders Museum
* Hafnargotu 9 * 825 Stokkseyri * + 354 483 1202 * info@icelandicwonders.com * http://www.icelandicwonders.com/ *

As a enthusiast about folklore and faerie lore I was very excited to hear that Iceland had a Elves and Trolls museum. Ventured in we did to find a collection of the legends and lore of Icelandic unseen people. It is dedicated to Trolls, Elves, and the Northern Lights. Within a maze of rooms within a very large 1200 meter square warehouse is a tour through the faerie world as a glimpse of how the elves and hidden folk live, as well as learning about the Northern Lights. At $24 / 1,500-kr) equivalent entrance fee for an adult it is extremely over-priced. It probably is only appreciated by someone who is an avid fan of such things, a complete rip-off for the general public. Its attached next to the Ghost Center which is even less interesting than the Troll museum. You wander through the Troll cave and learning about these giants, hang out in a special room dedicated to Northern Lights, and end at the Souvenir Shop. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

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Hiwassee River (Murphy)

Hiwassee River
Hiwassee River, Murphy, North Carolina

We stumbled upon this river while in search of the legendary fairy crosses. We searched along her shores for the staurolite crystals as we wandered down to an Irish sounding town called “Murphy” through which the infamous Hiwassee River flowed. The river has many names, including the Heia Wassea, Highwassee, Eufasee, Eufassee, Highwassee, Quannessee, etc. The proper name, the “Hiwassee” comes from the Cherokee word “Ayuhwasi” meaning “meadow” or “savanna”. The Creek indians (Muskogee) say its name is the “Koasati” and “Hitchiti” for “copperhead snake”. This could be for the numerous copperhead snakes the river gives a home to. The Hiwassee is a 147 mile long River that has its headwaters flowing from the northern slopes of the Rocky Mountain in North Georgia flowing down into North Carolina and turning west to Tennessee where it dumps into the Tennessee River. Where it flows through North Carolina it has three sections where it is dammed by the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) at the Hiwassee Dam, the Chatuge Dam, and the Appalachia Dam. These Dams were all constructed in the 1940’s. Some of the river’s waters are diverted from the Appalachia Dam into a pipeline tunneled 8 miles through the mountains and being gravity-fed through the Appalachia Powerhouse for electric. The river is well known for its white-water rafting, as it possessed class 1-3 rapids at various points along its course. River is used at various points for boating, fishing, and water skiing. The river has major tributaries including the Nottely River, Coker Creek, Valley River, Big Lost Creek, Spring Creek, Toccoa River, and the Conasauga Creek. The region through which this river flows was inhabited by various ethnic groups, including the Muskogean groups before the arrival of the Cherokee. The riverbanks were first explored by westerners in the 16th century by Spanish explorers. There is good reason to believe that Hernando de Soto probably crossed this river where it merges with the Tennessee River at Hiwassee Island in 1541 C.E. There is probable evidence that Juan Pardo followed a trail along its shores in 1567. Earliest European maps of the river valley dated to the 17th century vaguely showing the river basin occupied by a mountain branch of the Apalachee and the Kusa. The Tama-tli, the Apalachee, and the Kusa were also known to have had occupation here. It was in this valley that the early English explorers and traders found the Muskogean and Yuchi towns occupying in the 1690s which led to territorial battles including the massacre of the remaining Yuchi tribes. It was also here that a 40 year long war between the Creek and the Cherokee ensued beginning in the early 1700’s. The area eventually became the Cherokee homeland by the 18th century. Near the mouth of Peachtree Creek by present day Murphy, North Carolina was a Cherokee town called Hiwassee (Ayuhwasi). The tribes had established various routes and paths through the area such as the Great Trading Path, the Overhill Trading Path, and the Warrior path. By the 1760’s the Cherokee lost all of their lands in present day North Carolina east of the 80th longitude which runs through Murphy and crosses the Hiwassee River there. This was the penalty to the Cherokee by the British since they had assisted the French in the French and Indian War. American Independence Battles took place in the area, and the river was home to one of the largest camps such as Fort Cass on its southbank near Charleston, Tennessee. Today, it is a hallmark of the town of Murphy, North Carolina as it passes a Cherokee Indian mythology site known as the “Leech Place”. This legend tells of a house-sized leech that could control the waters of the Hiwassee and use them to sweep hapless people to the bottom of the river and consume them. This place was called the “Tlanusi-yi” or “The Leech Place”.

Read about the folklore about the monster that haunts these rivers: The Leech Place: http://www.technogypsie.com/faerie/?p=537

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Paul Koudounaris’ lecture on Heavenly Bodies : Spectacular Jeweled Skeletons

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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.

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Roswell, New Mexico

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Roswell, New Mexico

The “All-American City” or so it is branded by themselves, Roswell was a hometown to me from the 3rd grade until senior year of High School. Oh the fond memories of this dust-bowl of a town who’s prime entertainment for the high school youth was “dragging’ main street” every weekend to see who was “out and about” and hanging out in the Sonic drive-in. Of course many shenanigans went on making out at the Lover’s lane hill overlooking the city, or making love in the rocks at Bottomless Lakes State Park when our parents thought we were at the library or prom. Of course those mischievous few of us spent many days (and evenings) partying or exploring the Missile silos on the outskirts of town. Bonfires in the control room was a special kind of ambiance. Of course, we all heard the legends and rumors of the “UFO crash”, alien abductions, alien autopsies, and secret military bases – but that’s all they were … legends. Now these green or gray skinned aliens don the cities light-posts and is a theme park attraction to every gift shop, fast food joint, hotel, and wal-mart. The downtown theater we once partied to “Rocky Horror” has mutated to its own science fiction picture show as one of the world’s magnets for UFO experts, enthusiasts, and crazies as the International UFO Museum.

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Roswell represents and is in the county seat of Chaves County fluctuating annually in population growth as business boom, close, die, diminish or become reborn. It now boasts a population of 48,000 inhabitants in 2012 celebrating its standing as being New Mexico’s fifth largest city. Outside of UFO’s and aliens, Roswell’ites make their living with irrigation farming, dairy farms, ranching, petroleum, manufacture, and distribution. It was never really a tourist trap, UNTIL … the aliens arrived. It was however home of Bottomless Lakes State Park, Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and the New Mexico Military Institute (1891). The 1947 UFO crash made it the most popular, other than that it was a central point for some very famous people including Robert H. Goddard who invented the Rocket. No wonder those “hush-hush” secret military bases set up shop in this small hick town of tumbleweeds. Other famous inhabitants were Patrick Garrett the Sheriff, John Chisum the Pioneer, Demi Moore the Actress, John Denver the folk singer, Nancy Lopez the LPGA golf pro, Austin St. John the first Red Power Ranger, UFO Phil the singer, and Tom Brookshier the Pro Football player.

The UFO crash has much lore, legend, and news stories surrounding it – taking place just outside of town to upwards of 75 miles away near Corona. Whatever crashed there, was hauled into the local Roswell Army Air Field, the “then” secret military base for much dark mysteries … or so they say. On July 8, 1947 the Roswell Daily Record reported the “capture” of a “flying saucer” by the U.S. Government, hauling the ship and its inhabitants to the Walker Air Force Base. the U.S. Government to this day maintains it was debris from an “experimental” high-altitude helium weather and surveillance balloon. A high level military official from the base apparently came on to record to state it was actually a spaceship crash with alien bodies captured. It has been believed to be one of the U.S. Government’s most infamous cover-ups.

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Roswell was first inhabited by Native Americans who were pushed out by Euro-American Aliens – a group of pioneers from Missouri who started up the first Euro-American settlement 15 miles southwest of present day Roswell in 1865. They ran out of water however, so had to abandon this “Missouri Plaza”. Hispanics moved in from Lincoln, New Mexico as did John Chisum with his famous Jingle Bob Ranch 5 miles from Roswell’s current downtown. In 1869 two business-men from Omaha, Nebraska named Van C. Smith and Aaron Wilburn set up shop in what is now downtown Roswell building two adobe buildings – the general store, post office, and make-shift hotel. This gave birth to the “True” Roswell. Van’s father was Roswell Smith, whom he named the town after. By 1877, Captain Joseph Calloway Lea and his family bought out Smith and Wilburn, becoming the largest land-holders of the area. The town survived the Lincoln County War from 1877-1879 and by 1890 local merchant Nathan Jaffa struck clear gold when he sprung water tapping a major aquifer while digging a well in his back yard giving major growth and development opportunities for the area. The Railroad came through town by 1893. When World War II struck the country, the military set up a prisoner of war camp near Orchard Park holding Germans forcing labor on them to build Roswell’s infrastructure, especially paving the banks of the North Spring River. A iron cross can be found on the north bank built by the Germans in the Roswell Spring River Zoo. By the 1930’s, Robert H. Goddard popularized Roswell with his early rocketry work bringing in the military heavier from 1941 to 1967. Ruined by alien autopsy conspiracies and economic down-turn, the Walker Air Force base was finally DE-commissioned as were the 22 missile silos surrounding the city.

Located on the high plains, Roswell experiences the four seasons with cold winters, mild warm springs, very hot summers. Monsoons are common during the summer months with torrential downpours, thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and tornadoes.

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Horseshoe Falls

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Horseshoe Falls
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

Located on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, the “Canadian Falls” or “Horseshoe Falls” is the most famous and most attracted spots at the Niagara Falls wonder. Over 90% of the Niagara River flows over these falls and is used for massive hydro-power generation. The Remaining 10% of the river flows over the American Falls. These falls are located between Terrapin Point on Goat Island and Table Rock in Ontario. The Falls have been fought over between America and Canada throughout history.

The Myth of the Maid of the Mist is a Native American legend from the Ongiaras Tribe about a young woman, named Lelawal, the Maid of the Mist. She lost her husband at a very young age and was lost in sorrow. She canoed along the Niagara River to the Falls, singing a death song paddling into the current. She was caught up in the rough waves and hurled into the falls, but as she fell, Heno, the God of Thunder who lived in these falls caught her carrying her down to his home beneath the veil of waters falling. Heno and his sons took care of her until she healed. One of his sons fell in love with her, married, and bore a son who learned to be a God of Thunder. The Maid however missed seeing her family and tribe. Heno reported to her that A great snake came down the mighty river and poisoned the waters of her people. They grew sick and were dying, being devoured by the snake until the mass disappearance of the tribe occurred. She begged Heno to be able to go back to the realm of her people to warn them of the dangers, so he lifted her through the falls back to her people. She advised them to move away from the river onto higher lands until the danger passed. Heno came back and brought her back to her husband. Once the great snake discovered that the people deserted the village, it went into a rage hissing and going upstream to search for them. Heno rose up through the mist of the falls and threw a giant thunderbolt at the snake killing it in one blast. The giant body floated downstream and lodged just above the cataract creating a large semi-circle that deflected huge amounts of water into the falls just above the God’s home. Heno swept through the falls trying to stop the massive influx of water caused by the position of the corpse. His home was destroyed. He called for the Maid and his sons returning up into the sky making a new home in the heavenly realms watching down over the humans, Heno thundering in the clouds as he once did in the falls. The thunder of the falls is Heno’s voice. [ http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/09/the_maid_of_the_mist.html ] Other legends claim Lelawala was betrothed by her father to a king she despised and secretly wanted to be with He-No, the God of Thunder, who lived beneath Horseshoe Falls. In the middle of heartache she chose to sacrifice herself to him, paddling her canoe into the Niagara River and swept off into the Falls. He-no caught her, merged with her spirit, and lived forever in his sanctuary behind the falls, whereas she became the “Maiden of the Mist”.

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New York Faerie Festival 2013

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New York Faerie Festival 2013
* http://www.nyfaeriefest.com/ * Ouaquaga, New York *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Headless Horseman Bridge

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The Headless Horseman Bridge
* Sleepy Hollow Cemetery * Sleepy Hollow, New York *

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is responsible for the fame of these two bridges. The original bridge, that Washington Irving used in his Headless Horsemen Legend, is long gone collapsed and/or disappeared. The main street / highway concrete bridge lays claim to fame to being the Headless Horseman Bridge, as does the wooden recreated bridge within the cemetery that has more picturesque charm of the tale. The town was originally “North Tarrytown” but name-changed to the village of “Sleepy Hollow” in 1996/1997 to memorialize the stories and Washington Irving. The picturesque bridge in the cemetery was built in honor of the tale and connects the old cemetery to the new cemetery. It is believed to be the actual spot where the tale reflects. This is the site where Ichabod Crane purportedly tried to cross the Pontantico River to escape the Headless Horseman, and is the site where he reputedly disappeared. The public bridge, on Route 9 – the main highway through town, that passes in front of the church also claims to be the original Sleepy Hollow Bridge location.

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Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Thomas Baurley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Berkeley Springs State Park, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

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Berkeley Springs State Park
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

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

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Hill of Uisneach

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

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Viking Art Stone, Borre, Norway


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

The Viking Art Stone
Borrehaugene National Park, Borre, Norway

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

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