Tag Archives: folklore

The Humpty Dumpty Brothers, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Humpty Dumpty Sculptures

The Humpty Dumpty Brothers Sculptures
Colorado Avenue and Tejon Ave, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Article by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions, July 21, 2016

The whimsical humpty dumpy egg sculptures off Colorado Boulevard between Tejon and Pikes Peak have a strange history in Colorado Springs, especially having become the target of multiple vandalism accounts and pranks. They were originally created by artisan Kimber Fiebiger of Minneapolis who submitted one as an installation for the annual Art on the Streets program in 2003. The first one was called “Hump D” and sat in front of the Pikes Peak Center. Local businesses were impressed and commissioned additional ones. One was stolen in 2003, others vandalized over several years, and cost the city much in repairs and replacements. There are now four of them on south Tejon near Colorado Avenue. There is the one that sits on the wall, another playing a violin, another reading a book, and one toppling and hanging on for its life under the parking garage. Rating: 5 stars out of 5 (Visited 7/20/17)

These sculptures are also just down the road from America the Beautiful Park. They are located next to the infamous “Twilight” sculpture by Bobbie Carlyle.

Additional Reading and References:

Humpty Dumpty Sculptures : Strolling downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken July 20, 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

Interested in this review or story? have things to add? please comment below. Do you enjoy this article? if so, please consider buying the writer a chai, lunch, or help cover gas funds for covering these sites. Thomas Baurley is a work from home single father sharing his inspirations, treasures, findings, and travels. Tell him thank you if you like his work, Please donate. Need a new or updated review? contact him for more information.
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Cairns and stacked rocks


Cairns and stacked rocks

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

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

Cairns and Stacked Rocks
By Thomas Baurley

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

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

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

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

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

ROCK STACKS

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

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

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

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

Prince Cian making Cairns

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

Prehistoric use

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

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

Modern Stacking

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

CAIRNS

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

EUROPE

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

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

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

AMERICAS

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

NORTHERN OREGON

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

SOUTHEASTERN OREGON

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

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

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

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

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

photos 08/27/12 172 to 240

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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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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Modern Statue of Queen Maedbh (Dublin)


Modern Statue of Queen Maedbh

* Burlington Road, Dublin, Ireland *

The Modern Statue of Queen Maedbh / Maedhbh / Maeve standing strong and naked while holding a bull’s head. Located on Burlington Road, Dublin, Ireland. Photo take June 6, 2012. The statue was presented in 2004, and sculpted by Patrick O’Reilly. It depicts a modern re-telling of Queen Maeve, representing the power & equality of Celtic women, told by its viewers as a symbol of brutality, kitch, polyandry, and obsession of a power hungry queen. As a ruler of both mortals and the legendary fae, she was a female ruler in Irish History, dominating over western Ireland (Connacht) around the 1st century B.C.E. Strong, powerful, beautiful, and passionate about love and war. She was legendary for her large armies and rumored to have slept with many of her commanders, motivating them for her tasks at hand, and using them at her will. This statue was supposedly created to symbolize this power of her, represented by her large giant fomorian-like stature, naked, with a verocious sexual appetite. Legend has it that she could sleep with over 30 men a day. Her holding the head of a bull in the right hand represents her main myth, the Cattle Raid of Cooley. As her husband owned a bull of superior strength, that outranked her fortune. She couldn’t have that, so as she needed one to compete, she went to war to take the best bull known in Ireland. “The bull of Ulster”. The spear represents her as a warrior, the bird her freedom as well as her enchantment. It is one of Dublin’s little most known statues down a street not often frequented by the public.

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Tiveragh Fairy Hill (Cushendall)

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The Tiveragh Fairy Hill
Cushendall, Northern Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ~ H.Browne

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

~ Yours truly, Leaf McGowan

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Shakefest 2012: May 26th – Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Ireland

2012 Shake Fest: Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Ireland

Shakefest 2012
May 26-27th, 2012 * Charleville Castle * Tullamore * Ireland * Shakefest.net *

This year will be Shakefest’s “7th” Annual Dance and multi-cultural festival held at the historic epic Charleville Castle. The festival grounds is starting to bustle with activity as preparations are in the flow to welcome local and international community, visitors, friends, and family to celebrate culture. Since 2006, Shakefest has been bringing together an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Cultural Dance, and Artistic Workshops ending with a multi-cultural evening of dance performances. This year, Shakefest is expanding into more folklore, diversity, performance art, crafts, and themes for all ages, sexes, and cultures. This year features numerous workshops, classes, performances, and activities such as a “Faerie Glen” to get lost in, A “Madhatter’s Tea Party”, A bouncy Pirate Ship, Indian Cuisine, Performances by Tullamore’s “The Red Embers”, Galway Bellydance, Appolonia Tribal Bellydance, Sheeoneh, Nicole Volmering, and Aoife Hardiman.


Joana Saahirah ~ photo courtesy of Shakefest

This year’s International Guest Instructor is Oriental Dancer Joana Saahirah of Cairo, Egypt providing authentic education on Egyptian History and Folklore as well as Oriental Dance instruction in Classical, Saiidi and Alexandria of Mellaya styles. Declan Kiely will host a special workshop on how to “Dance like Michael Jackson”. Hip Hop, Jazz, Poi & Ribbon Dancing, Bachata and Argentinian Tango classes are also offered. There will also be African dance, poetry, open-mic sessions, a kid’s gigantic Dragonfly and butterfly hunt, punch and judy, juggling & stiltwalking by Stagecraft Ireland, Drum Circles, and a magic show. This year will also be breaking ground on a live history section with the KHI Medieval Re-enactors treating audiences to combat simulations of the Crusader’s Knight’s Templar with medieval tents, a full try-on armoury and archery for all ages.



KHI Medieval Re-enactors ~ photo courtesy of Shakefest

Featured musical performances by 40’s Swinging The Bugle Babes, Our Annual Multi-cultural Hafla, daring fire show by The Red Embers & Babylon’s Inferno, The North Strand Kontra Band from North Dublin. Dazzling Romanian and Bulgarian instrumental band is expected to finish off the fest with explosive energy and lively dance accompanied by original and traditional tunes from clarinet, saxophone, trombone, keys, banjo, double bass, and drums. If you’re travelling through Ireland this weekend or live in the magical isles, this event is not to be missed. Gates open at Noon on Saturday the 26th with admission only €10 general entry, €10 camping, €20 family day pass or only €15 for evening entertainment.  All proceeds will be going towards Charleville Castle Restoration Fund – Operation ‘Raise The Roof’ project in which money will be raised towards putting a protective roof on the castle chapel. We’ll be covering this event, so come back here for photos, review, and the stories we weave from the experience …


North Strand Kontra Band ~ photo courtesy of Shakefest

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Visit us at the 2012 ShakeFest at the infamous Charleville Castle!

2012 Shake Fest: Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Ireland
2012 Shake Fest: Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Ireland

This year, Technogypsie Productions, Pirate Relief, and The Tree Leaves’ Oracle & Folk Fellowship are helping with the production of “Shakefest by creating a children’s (and adults) fun area as the “Faerie Glen” with a Wishing Well, Rag Tree, and a Madhatter’s Tea Party and much much more. After hours, we’ll be doing a sorta- reunion for our Irish Core Effigy friends we camped with at Tir na nOg this year at the Burn. Childrens Madhatter’s Tea Party is around 1:30 pm, while the Adults Tea Party is at the Witching Hour. Costumes required to participate. Dress as Pirates, Faeries, or someone from Alice in Wonderland. Face painting, Faerie Art, stickers, candles, and Tarot Readings also available. Saturday, May 26, 2012 – Charleville Castle, Tullamore, Ireland – Faerie Glen & Madhatter’s area open from Noon until an hour or two after the witching hour …Note: If you are coming for the Evening activities, please arrive by 6 pm – for bands and entertainment as gates close early.

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Ochre

Ochre

A common denominator amongst indigenous cultures around the globe is the use of ochre in ritual magic, painting, and funerary customs. You can find this intriguing use amongst the Australian Aborigines, the Native Americans, the Celts, the Egyptians, and even prehistoric Cro Magnon cave dwellers. In many of these societies, only certain individuals were permitted to collect ochre. It was a popular trading item amongst the Native Americans, the Australian Aborigines, the Celts, and other civilizations that has elaborate rituals. The term “Ochre” comes from the Greek “?????, ?khrós” which means “pale”. It is sometimes spelled “ocher”. It most commonly is yellow-gold, light yellow brown, or with a reddish tint for color. Red Ochre, is distinquished in use from regular ochre as it often has more ritual and burial use in various cultures. Some rare forms of brown or purple ochre are popular in ceremonial use as well. It was amongst the very first pigments to be used by humankind as it was a tinted clay embedded with mineral oxides consisting of hydrated iron oxide. The first written use of ochre appeared in 1550 BCE papyrus scrolls in Egypt. The earliest art utilizing ochre belonged to Cro-Magnon cave paintings of Southern Europe dating from 32,000-10,000 B.C.E. Some Neolithic graves suggested they used the ochre symbolically representing a return to the Earth or a form of ritual rebirth and symbolizing the blood of the Great Goddess. The Ancient Picts and the Irish were known to paint themselves “Iron Red” with red ochre. After being ground, it was often mixed with fish oil, animal fats, linseed oil, or oils to make a paint out of it.

In Australia, “The Ochre Pits”, a mine belonging to the Western Arrernte, are a popular place to visit amongst tourists in the Northern Territory, just outside of Alice Springs on the Larapinta Trail. These pits contain numerous layers of multi-colored rocks that the Australian Aborigines would grind up as pigment or paint to utilize in their ceremonies and was a common trade item between neighbouring clans and countries throughout the continent. Ochres from these mines were the choicest known to man – soft, vivid, magical. Some with sheen others without, ranging in color from crimson to gold. The Australian Aborigine would ground the ochre and mix it with Emu fat to use as a bodypaint for ceremonial body adornment.

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The Dreaming and Dreamtime

The Dreaming and “Dreamtime”

As I take a career and life journey’s “Walkabout” around Australia and Europe during the Summer of 2011, during my visit to the Australian National Museum I really for the very first time embrace the concept of the Australian Aborigine “Dreaming” and “Dreamtime” that I was first introduced to during my Anthropology of Religion class I took during my college years at Florida State University. Nevermore did the concept “sink” and “settle” in me more than at this time of my life that I could truly say in a “Stranger in a Strange Land’s” true essence of “grokking” the concept fully and spiritually. “The Dreaming” tells of the journey and actions of the Ancestral Beings when they were creating the natural world. An animistic narrative telling of a “timeless time” of formative creation and perpetual creating. This took place during a mythological era called “Dreamtime”. This is a sacred era when the ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings formed “The Creation”. The philosophy is infinite and demonstrates how the past and present is linked together to prophesize the future. The concept of “Dreaming” is often used to refer to a person’s or group’s set of beliefs and spirituality. The Australian Aborigine might refer to “Shark Dreaming”, “Kangaroo Dreaming”, or “Eucalypus Dreaming” and this would refer to particular natural items or life forms in their resident area or country, laying down patterns of life from which to follow. This creates their mythos, their creation stories, and their folklore as to why certain things have come to be. They believe that every person exists eternally in the Dreaming and represents both the spirit that existed before physical life began and is the spirit that exists after death as a “Spirit Being” or “Spirit Child”. The Spirit Being can only exist physically by being born from a mother, entering the fetus during the fifth month of pregnancy. Upon birth, that child is to become a special custodian of the land and country to which s/he was born, required to learn the stories, lore, and songlines of that particular place. Our natural world, especially that which is within one’s cultural heritage, race, and species, is what provides the link between the people and “The Dreaming”. The Act of Dreaming and the stories that are within them carry the truth from the past, blended together with the code for the Law, to operate and facilitate the present. Every story within “The Dreaming” weaved as creation through the “Milky Way” is a complete long complex tale, many of which discuss consequences and our future being. During the Dreamtime, the Australian Aborigines believed that the creators were both men and women who took on spiritual forms. These “cultural heroes and heroines” sometimes defined as spirits, other times as “God/desses”, would travel across a formless land, create sacred sites and significant places of interest during their travels weaving story and songlines that would guide the spirit beings they birthed in Creation. They joined together with various spirits to create the land, the waterways, the geographical features of the land, the skies, the seas, the plants, the animals, the stones, and all the other wo/men that exist. Every event that takes place would leave a record in the land. To the Dharawal, “Biami” the Great Spirit, went up into the skies to watch over their people and to make sure they obeyed his rules. Spirits habitating in waterholes, caves, and other spirit places to watch over or affect those people that lived near them. This was one of the reasons that another tribe would not conquer tribal lands for doing so would place them in a land full of strange and potentially hostile spirits. The Australian Aborigines believed in both good and evil spirits they called “Goonges”. Children would be warned not to go to certain areas for the “goonge will get them”. Same for the oceans, for they too contained spirits underneath the waters and explained deaths at sea, getting caught in a rip current, or attacks by various sea creatures. The Creators, or the Ancestral Spirits, were shape-changers who were half-human, both male and female, who used the powers, great wisdom, and intentions to create all of being. They lived and retired in the sky clouds. The Aborigine believed that every living creature were created by the Creators as “spirit-children” and/or “spirit animals” during the Dreamtime and were assigned to live in particular spirit places. They believed that their own birth was the result of a spirit child entering into the mother’s body and was brought into being during conception by the specific actions or designs of the creators to make spirit children in the Dreamtime. They also believed that after death their spirit would return to the spirit-place to await rebirth. It was in Dreamtime that the Creators and ancestral spirits created the world which we all live. The Australian aborigines embrace all of life and the phenemena that affects if as part of the vast and complex system of relationships that go back to the original acnestral Totemic Spirits of the Dreaming. The Dreaming establishes a culture’s and regional country’s laws, taboos, structures, and history in order to ensure the continuity of life and land in that area. Breaking these cause destruction to the areas that one’s spirit is meant to guard or caretake.

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Milky Way and the Crocodile Story


The Milky Way and Crocodile Story

Upon wandering around the Australian National Museum in Canberra of the Australian Capital Territory, I discovered this fine bark painting. This unique Aboriginal folklore masterpiece consists of a application of ochres and polymer on bark with wooden restrainers attached to its rear. It was done in the 1980’s by Galuma Wirrpanda of the Aboriginal Manggalili clan in the Baniyala lands of the Northern Territory of Australia. It is the painting that tells the story about the Milky Way and the Crocodile according to Aboriginal myth. This painting shows the “milnguya” or “Milky Way” as a river. A constellation in the Milky Way is seen as “The Crocodile” which is surrounded by stars that represent the deceased members of the Aboriginal Manggalili clan. The overturned canoe and paddles refer to the drowned ancestors of the Munuminya and Yikawanga who found their way to the Milky Way by following string made from the fur of the possum Marrngu.

This mythos was also very sacred to the Ancient Maya. Displayed is the crocodile mouth in the Milky Way, representing a dark rift called the “Xibalba” or “The Underworld”. It has similarities to that which the Aboriginal Australians and the Mayans who noticed it and embedded into their lore as well. Each night, this constellation changes its orientation causing the Milky Way to become north/south oriented on some nights and then on others it alternates to east and west. This relates to Aboriginal creation stories. It is told that the date of present creation took place on August 13, 3114 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) On this date, the hearth was laid out – three stars from Orion were put in place by the Gods. During Mid-August each year, the Milky Way would be right overhead and this change in orientation would be highly notable. It was on February 5, 3112 B.C.E., two years after the hearth was created, that the cosmic tree of creation was lifted up to the heavens. On the 5th of February every year the Milky Way would also align directly overhead showing changes that is opposite to the mid-August alignment). Many believe that the sky is seen as a re-enactment of creation. As the constellations move, so do the cycle of stories from dusk to dawn. When the Milky Way is aligned to the north and south, it represents the world tree. As it turns to east and west, it becomes the crocodile tree that manifests as a canoe carrying the maize Gods across the sky in the Mayan Myth.

Sources cited:

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Holy Wells and Sacred Springs

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Holy Wells and Sacred Springs, a set on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Photos from visits in 2011 to Holy Wells and Sacred Springs. 8 July 2011: Giants Well at St. Michael’s Mount; Madron Well. 31 October 2011: Chalice Well and White Spring, Glastonbury, England. Well of Tara.

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The Happy/Sad Foot of Sunset Blvd

Happy/Sad Foot of Sunset Blvd
* Sunset Blvd. * Los Angeles, California *

There’s a whirling sign of a foot on crutches that locals claim has supernatural and mythical properties: The moment you glance at it … if it is a Happy Foot, good luck will come your way. If it is Unhappy, Bad luck comes your way. According to locals (& now Boingboing.net) this rotating sign that is the advertising sign for a Foot clinic will prophesize your luck. The sign rotates slowly. The urban myth has become so popular with locals and tourists, that it has been already immortalized in the book “You Don’t Love Me Yet” published in 2008 by Jonathan Lethem. He writes “Lucinda’s view took in a three quarter’s slice of the sign as it turned in its vigil over Sunset Boulevard: happy foot and sad foot suspended in dialog forever. The two images presented not so much a one-or-the-other choice as an eternal marriage of opposites, the emblem of some ancient foot-based philosophical system. This was Lucinda’s oracle: once glance to pick out the sad or happy foot, and a coin was flipped, to legislate any decision she’d delegated to the foot god.”

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Ghost Stories on Wreck Beach …

Saturday, November 6th, 2004

Wreck Beach Ghost Story, Wreck Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia


Wreck Beach Ghost Stories

Wreck Beach- Vancouver, B.C.

Some say, that if you visit Wreck Beach at night, and are away from the camp fires or the crowds, you can hear a woman screaming as if she’s being brutally murdered. Some say, you can see a apparition of a bloodied naked young girl stumbling around on the sand or walking the trails. Others claim to have seen a mist that floats with a shape of a young woman. Some have said to hear screams coming from the bushes. Others have reported seeing a ghost of a male wailing in agony.

Evidence of these tales have not been proven. Some say the ghost tales are hearsay. In 1990, Kevin Ladouceur was brutally murdered on the beach. He was the first reported murder at Wreck Beach. The horrid death of Christina (Tina) Joy Thompson who was murdered at the top of Trail Six in August 1993, inspired a local play called “Wreck Beach” that tells the tale, and could be the source of the tale. Apparently this was the 2nd murder committed at Wreck Beach by 1993. Not aware of any other murders since that date.

In 1995, after two years of angst in the community as rumours circulated over who murdered the popular girl, Joseph Daniel Hammond arrived with a priest at the Richmond RCMP detachment and admitted killing Thompson. He was jailed for life and is eligible for parole in 2004. Hammond said he had watched the woman argue with her boyfriend. He then offered to carry a bag for her up a trail. He began to touch her and a struggle ensued. The woman was quickly strangled. The Crown lawyer said that Hammond had intercourse with the deceased woman “a couple of times” in the bushes after killing her.

Links:
http://www.vancourier.com/issues01/08301/news/083101nn1.html
http://www.nsnews.com/issues98/w120798/12049801.html
http://www.nsnews.com/issues98/w102698/10239802.html
http://www.cms.uhi.ac.uk/publications/re/arp05.pdf

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Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Countess

Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Queen

* August 7, 1560 – August 21, 1614 *

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

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

 

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Vampires / Vampyres


St. Michan’s Church Crypt, Dublin, Ireland
legendary inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Vampires
A creature of lore, legend, folktale, and myth that is believed to be an undead human (human brought back from the dead) that either feeds on the blood or life force of living humans in order to survive. There is much controversy in the folkloric record on whether vampires either drank blood or just fed off the life energy of others. Some believe that “blood” is the best representation of “life essence” and is therefore what vampires need to survive. Vampires are mentioned and recorded in numerous cultures around the world, described in history as old as man him/herself. Older parallels of similar creatures in legend, such as the Old Russian “????? (Upir’)” seem to date much earlier at 1047 C.E. mentioned in a colophon in a manuscript of the Book of Psalms written by a priest who transcribed the book from Glagolitic to Cyrillic for the Novgorodian Prince Volodymyr Yaroslavovych calling him “Upir” Likhyi which translates to “Wicked or Foul Vampire”. Local and associated Pagan mythology suggests there was Pagan worship from the 11-13th centuries of “upyri”. There is mention of similar creatures throughout history in Greek mythology, Mesopotamian lore, Hebrew records, and Roman stories placing demons and spirits who fed on the life force of humans perhaps being the earliest vampires. Numerous world mythologies described demonic entities or Deities who drank blood of humans including Sekhmet, Lilith, and Kali. The Persians were the first to describe having blood drinking demons. Greek/Roman mythology spoke of the Empusae, the Lamia, the striges, the Gello, the strix, and the Goddess Hecate as demonic blood drinkers.

The documented case of Elizabeth Bathory who killed over 600 of her servants and bathed in their blood led to the reputation of her being a vampire. Same as with Vlad the Impaler of Count Dracula mythology of Transylvania who would impale his victims alive on upright stakes and would eat dinner while watching them suffer and slide down the poles in shrieks of torment. The Istrian (Croatia) 1672 legend of Giure Grando, a peasant who died in 1656, but was believed to have risen from the grave to drink the blood of the villagers and sexually harass his widow became a vampire-like legend. He was stopped by having a stake driven through his heart and then beheaded by the local village leader. Shortly after this legend, during the 18th century, a frenzy of vampire sighting in Eastern Europe went rampant including some notorious vampire hunting in Prussia (1721), Habsburg Monarchy (1725-1734), and the tales of Peter Logojowitz and Arnold Paole in Serbia.

Arnold Paole was a soldier who was attacked by a vampire. A few years later he became a farmer that died during harvest of his hay crop. He was buried and believed by the local villagers to be rising from the grave feeding off of them. The documented case of Plogojowitz, of a man who died at 62 only to return from the grave asking his son for food. Upon being turned down, the son was found dead the next day. Plogojowitz apparently had killed him as well as various neighbours by draining their blood. The Serbian tale of Sava Savanovic told of a man who lived in a local watermill that would kill the millers and drink their blood. This tale led to the creation of the 1973 Serbian horror film called “Leptirica”.

The term itself as “vampire” however was not utilized until the early 18th century during a time when vampire hysteria was rampant. The first use of the term “Vampire” came from a 1734 travelogue titled “Travels of Three English Gentlemen” published in the 1745 Harleian Miscellany according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The English term “Vampire” may have come from the french term “Vampyre” or the German term “Vampir”. These terms may have derived into the Serbian “??????/vampir”. During the early 18th century tales of vampires throughout Eastern Europe became rampant. Vampires were often associated as revenants of evil beings, suicide vicims, or witches; or from malevolent spirits possessing a corpse or being bitten by a vampire. It was during this time that the hysteria caused individuals, families, and communities to dig up the graves of suspected vampires and them mutilating the corpses, staking them, or conducting rites of exorcism. In 1718, after Austria gained control of northern Serbia and Oltenia, officials recorded local practices of exhuming bodies and “killing the undead”. Official recording of these practices from 1725 to 1732 led to widespread publicity of vampires. It was from this that led to many of the original vampire myths we have today that described vampires as either being in the form of a human, as a resurreced rotting corpse, or a demon-like creature roaming at night. Much of the hysteria was similar to the Witch Craze of the Inquisition. Neighbours would accuse the recently deceased for diseases, deaths, plagues, and tragedies that cursed the local village. Scholars at the time were steadfast that Vampires did not exist attributing the incidents to premature burials, rabies, or religion. However, the well-respected theologian and scholar Dom Augustine Calmet composed a 1746 treatise with reports claiming vampires did indeed exist. This was supported by Voltaire who claimed vampires were corpses who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomaches, after which they would return to the cemetery. This would lead the victim to wane, pale, and fall into consumption while the vampire would bloat, become fat, rosy, and become rejuvenated. They were disputed by Gerard van Swieten and the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria who passed laws prohibiting exhumation and desecration of bodies ending the vampire epidemics in Austria.

The “18th Century Vampire Controversy” or “Hysteria” gave birth to many fabricated myths and legends that lent stories about blood suckers evolving to the image we imagine of today when we think of “vampire”. Many of these images today come from writers, authors, and film. John Polidori’s 1819 novella “The Vampyre”, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula”, and the film “Nosferatu” are the main culprits for much of today’s image of a vampire, especially the pointed teeth, the sleeping in daylight, the drinking of blood, and sensitivity to sunlight. Stoker based much of his imagery and lore from former mythology of demons, faeries, and werewolves that he fit into the fears of late Victorian patriarchy. His book gave birth to a trend of vampire fandom that has lasted for over 100 years and still flourishing.

From Europe the vampire craze spread to parts of New England in the Americas, particularly Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut. Paranoia and hysteria went rampant in the same manner as Eastern Europe’s 18th century Vampire Controversy. Documentation of cases with families accusing vampirism being the cause of the plague of consumption that devastated their communities. Families would dig up their dead to remove the hearts of suspected vampires. A very popular documented case was of the 1892 Rhode Island incident of Mercy Brown who died at age 19 of consumption, believed to be a vampire returning from the grave and feeding on her family and neighbours, was dug up by her father, had her heart cut out and burnt to ashes, only to be fed to her dying brother in attempts to save him from the rotting disease.


St. Michan’s Church Crypt, Dublin, Ireland
legendary inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Three Main Types of Magic

THE THREE MAIN TYPES OF MAGIC:

Three basic types of magic anthropologically defined:

  1. Homeopathic Magic
    (The law that like produces like) – if some form of action is being performed on something, it will have the same impact on the intended real thing.
  2. Sympathetic or Imitative Magic
    The believe that Performing an action on some object, the same will happen to the person or object in which it represents. This is based on the belief that a relationship is made between the objects based on the presumption that one can influence something based on the attachment. An example of this is such acts as rock art with hunting magick by drawing out a successful hunt, rain dances, etc.
  3. Contagious Magic
    The law of contagion basically states that if a person has contact with certain things, they will influence the person who is under contact with such things. Examples of this are: Voodoo dolls which contain part of fingernails, hair, or teeth (DNA) of a targeted person – creates the person him/herself within the doll and anything happening to the doll happens to the attached person.

    Methods of Spellcraft:

    Herbs, incenses, oils, brews, candles, divination, oracles, sacrifices, offerings, sex magic, tantra, incantations, rhymes, dances, 8-Fold states, chemistry, alchemy, stones, elemental, worlds, fire, water, air, earth, trance, prayer, petition, manifestation, portals, visualization, invocation, evocation, poetry, words, names, symbols, talismans, charms, amulets, tools, events, prana, healing, cursing, attacking, defensive, curing, poppets, etc.

    Methods of Purification:

    Sweeping, censing, asperging, anointing, cleansing, bathing, showering, dusting, warming, implantation of symbols, dunking, baptizing, erasing, purifying.

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Niamh

Niamh

“Niamh of the lovely hair” was the daughter of the Irish Sea God, Manannon Mac Lir. She was the Queen of the Tir na n-Og, the mythological race of Faeries who lived in the Land of the Eternal Youth. She would ride on her Faerie steed “Embarr” across the waves to the West Coast of Ireland quite often. On one of these trips, she met members of the warrior group known as the Fianna. One of the warriors, a bard named Oisin, she came to have a liking for. He fell for her with love at first sight. She quickly took him on her horse with her back to Tir na n-Og. She was most notorious for having been the Faerie princess who lured off the great Bard Oisin to Faerieland where they were married and she had hoped he would have been fine residing at in the Land of the Eternal Youth. After three years in Faerie, He grew weary and tired, missing his family, and asked to return to his land to see them. She set him off on the same white magical steed that she brought him to the land of Faerie on, the horse “Embarr” (means “Imagination”) and warned for him not to step foot off his horse when he returns to the human world. He discovered three years in Faerie was three hundred years in Human. He accidentally fell off Embarr when he was trying to help some farmers move a big stone, and Embarr ran home, across the waves. Poor Oisin immediately became a blind old man to wander Ireland searching for his family and his Niamh. He could never find the entrance to Tir na n-Og again. Niamh waited and waited for him, but Oisin never returned. She had become pregnant with his daughter, Plur na mBan, a beautiful Faerie princess known as “The Flower of the Lady”. After many years, Niamh went back to the mortal world to search Ireland high and low for her sweet Oisin. She was too late, Oisin had died and disappeared forever. His tomb somewhere up in Northern Ireland near the Giant’s Causeway. During her wanders searching for Oisin, she met the Faeries of Brittany who invited her to join them. She didn’t, but rather sent them a magical moving picture of herself. This upset the Brittany Faeries who placed her in a deep wood where she wandered for a long time with a light on her forehead eternally lost. After she discovered her escape, she experienced great disappointment and anger with the Brittany Fae, and returned to Tir na n-Og, presumably casting a magic spell that took all of the Brittany’s faerie children with her in revenge.

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Lost Girl: Season 1

Lost Girl: Season 1
(Television NR: Showcase, 2010)
Creator: M.A. Lovretta. Starring: Anna Silk, Kris Holden-Ried and Ksenia Solo; and many others.


Its an expose of the Faerie world hidden within the human world where the season follows on the sensual charismatic Bo who never really felt at home with the humans tortured by not being able to experience love with them as she drains them to death during sex. She soon discovers she is a Succubus and is not alone, but in a world of the Genus Fae and without a tribe. She’s pushed to choose a tribe with the Dark Fae or the Light Fae, and decides to stay neutral. She becomes a renegade and teams up with a gothy girl human sidekick who becomes an investigator for the abnormal while figuring out who Bo’s mom is and her faerie origins. Falling in love with a Lycanthrope, at ends with the Morrigan, fighting off various species of Fae while keeping things secret from the human world. Full of mythology and faerie lore blended into the modern human world … this is a treasure and an action packed series. A must see for any faerie enthusiast. Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Season 1:

  • Episode 1: It’s a Fae, Fae, Fae, Fae World (September 2010)
  • Episode 2: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Fae (19 September 2010)
  • Episode 3: Oh Kappa, My Kappa (26 September 2010)
  • Episode 4: Faetal Attraction (3 October 2010)
  • Episode 5: Dead Lucky (17 October 2010)
  • Episode 6: Food for Thought (24 October 2010)
  • Episode 7: ArachnoFaebia (31 October 2010)
  • Episode 8: Vexed (7 November 2010)
  • Episode 9: Fae Day (14 November 2010)
  • Episode 10: The Mourning After (21 November 2010)
  • Episode 11: Faetal Justice (28 November 2010)
  • Episode 12: (Dis)Members Only (5 December 2010)
  • Episode 14: Blood Lines (12 December 2010)

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Wishing Trees


Wishing Tree @ Brigid’s Well in Kildare, Ireland

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


Penny offerings for good luck
and as gifts to the Fae

“Wishing Tree”
Yorkshire Dales, England

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Brigid’s Sacred Flame at Kildare


Brighid’s Flame
* Kildare, Ireland *

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

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

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Brigid’s Cross

Brighid’s Cross
* Kildare, Ireland *

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

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

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

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The Pagan Goddess Brigid, or the Christian Saint Brigid


St. Brighid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kildare, Ireland


Kildare, Ireland

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

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

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

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


Cill Dara

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The Curraugh

The Curraugh
Near Kildare and Naas, Ireland

It is said that in 480 C.E. Saint Brighid came to the area to found a monastery in Kildare and had approached the King of Leinster and asked for land for the poor and on to which to build it. He laughed a her and told her that if she lay out her cloak, whatever space the cloak covers is hers to keep. She laid out her magical cloak and thus claimed almost 5,000 acres of land in County Kildare which is known as “The Curraugh” (a.k.a. “An Currach”). It is a flat open plain that is common land for the Irish. It is used for Army maneuvers, Irish Horse breeding / training, horse racing, sheep herding, and public recreation. Ireland’s largest Fen, the Pollardstown Fen is also located here. There are many rare species of plants that grow on the Curraugh so it is a hot spot for botanists and ecologists. The Curraugh also has a sandy soil that was formed after an esker deposited a sand load on it thereby creating excellent drainage characteristics. In early Irish history, the Curraugh was a central point for legends and lore for thousands of years. The hill north is called the “Almhain” or “Hill of Allen” where the mythical Fianna used as a meeting place. The Fenian tales talk of much mythology here. The Curraugh is littered with prehistoric ruins, ring burial-mounds, and the Race of the Black Pig which may have been an ancient cattleway. In 1234 C.E. Richard Marshal, the 3rd Earl of Pembroke lost a battle here against a group of men loyal to King Henry III of England, he was wounded, and died at his castle at Kilkenny the same year. The Curraugh was also a common site for the mustering of the armies of the Pale. They held a Rebellion in 1798 here that resulted in a massacre of 350 unarmed United Irishmen at Gibbet Rath. This location is now where the Curraugh Camp is hosted where the Irish Defense Forces train. On March 20, 1914 the Curraugh Camp saw an incident called the “Curragh Mutiny” while the Camp was the main base for the British Army in Ireland. As in 1912 the Liberal coalition British governmen of H. H. Asquith had just introduced the Third Home Rule Bill for Ireland which proposed the creation of an autonomous Irish Parliament in Dublin. Numerous Unionists objected to the inclusion of potential rule by the proposed Dublin Parliament and founded the Ulster Volunteers paramilitary group in 1912 to fight against the British government if necessary on this point. In 1913, Lord French and Henry Hughes Wilson with a number of senior officers expressed concerns to the government that the British Army would find it difficult to act against the Volunteers since they were all there to defend the British Empire. To combat this the Curraugh base commander Sir Arthur Paget was ordered by London’s War Office in March 1914 to start preparations to move troops to Ulster in order to deal with any violence there that might break out by occupying governmenet buildings and to repel any assaults by the Ulster Volunteers. He misinterpreted his orders from a precautionary deployment to meaning an immediate order to march against the Ulstermen. At this point he offered his officers the choice of resignation rather than fighting this battle. 57 out of 70 of the Officers, mostly Irish unionists resigned or accept dismissal rather than enforce the Home Rule Act of 1914. When Paget reported this to London. This caused Asquith’s Liberal Government to back down claiming an honest misunderstanding and the men were reinstated and the Army would not be used to enforce the Home Rule Act. A month later, the Northern Irish Ulster Volunteers covertly landed about 24,000 rifles at night in the “Larne gun-running” incident without discovery or arrest. This event led to Unionist confidence and the growing Irish separatist movement convincing nationalists they wouldn’t have Army support in Ireland which in turn increased nationalist support for the Irish Volunteers and a growing concern for an Irish Civil War. The Home Rule Act was dropped after the start of World War I. The plains were also used to film the battle scenes in the film “Braveheart”. A famous Irish song called “The Curraugh of Kildare” is dedicated to the plains.

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Faerie Trees

 


Fairy Tree, the Curraugh, Kildare, Ireland

Faerie Trees
United Kingdom and Ireland

Faerie trees are mythical hotspots of otherworldly and/or faerie activity. Faerie trees are seen as the haunts of Faeries. They are fiercely protected by the Fae. It is believed that any human foolish enough to pass by a host-tree late at night will find their arms bruised or pinched by small faerie fingers. Three thorn trees growing closely together are especially potent. Thorn trees hung with ribbons or rags are good gifts to faeries of the tree. Faerie trees are most associated with the Oak, Ash, and Thorn. Sometimes it is associated with the Rowan tree. Others claim its the Elder, Blackthorn, Hazel, and/or Alder. The trees most twisted together are the most notorious of faerie trees – and this is common amongst the Elder. If two thorns and an elder are found together it warns of great danger as do Oak, Ash, and Thorn. In the British Isles, the Rowan is believed to protect one from witchcraft and enchantment. Its berries opposite its stalk display tiny five pointed stars or pentagrams which are notable protective symbols. Color red, as in the flavor of the berry, is also seen as a protection against enchantment. The tree is believed to afford protection to the dwellings by which it grew and often people would take branches of the tree to be carried for personal protection from witchcraft. The belief in them go back to classical mythology, whereas legends tell us that ‘Hebe’, the Goddess of youth, once dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the Gods from her magical chalice. When she lost this cup to demons, the Gods sent an eagle to recover the cup. The feathers and drops of blood which the eagle bled in the fight, fell to the earth, whereas each one of them turned into a Rowan tree – the legendary Faerie Tree. It is because of this it is believed that the Rowan derived the shape of its leaves from eagle’s feathers and its berries look like the droplets of blood. The Rowan is also prominent in Norse mythology as being the tree from where the first woman was made. The Mountain Ash were also associated as Faerie Trees which are the most well-known of the Rowan. The wood of the Rowan is often used for staves, wands, divining rods, and walking sticks. Berries are often used to make alcoholic drinks.


The Curraugh, Kildare, Ireland

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Gorse

 

 

 

 

Gorse

Ulex europaeus or common names: Gorse, furze, furse, or whin

Taxonomy: Kingdom: Plantae; Division: Magnoliophyta; Class: Magnoliopsida; Order: Fabales; Family: Fabaceae; Subfamily: Faboideae; Genus: Ulex; Species: U. europaeus; Binomial name: Ulex europaeus L.

Gorse is a common name for the Ulex europaeus, a genus of roughly 20 species of spiny evergreen shrubs that are native to Western Europe and Northwest Africa. It is closely related to the ‘Broom’ Family hosting green stems with small leaves. The plant is extremely dry in its branches and leaves – making it a severe fire hazard with an explosive burst with wildland fires. Because of the quick fire explosions and passing on of the waves of flames – gorse is very good at withstanding fire damage and spreads its seed pods best when torched by wildfire. Burnt stumps will sprout new growth from the roots. The branches host extreme spininess with shoots branching out 1-4 cms long. It can grow up to 2-3 meters tall (7-10 feet). Leaves of younger plants are trifoliate resembling a small clover leaf before they evolve into scales or small spines. All of the species host yellow flowers. Many of these species grow in sunny sites in dry, sandy soils. Flowers bloom from late autumn throughout the winter season with flowers strongest in the spring. Some gorse is always in flower and host a coconut-like scent. Gorse is the perfect environment for wildlife nesting and protecting its inhabitants from predators due to the dense thorny cover.
Culinary: The flowers are edible and often used in salads, tea, and in the manufacture of a non-grape based wine. It is high in protein and commonly used to feed livestock as fodder.
Common uses: Used as livestock fodder. Bundles of gorse used to fire traditional bread ovens. According to Jasmine ( jasmine@archaeosophia.co.uk / http://www.archaeosophia.co.uk ) “Gorse may also used in the vitrification of Iron Age hill-forts in Scotland; experimental archaeology has shown that the temperatures it can reach are high enough to turn rock to glass. The fires would have to be kept burning for about a week to maintain the process… In 1934, Vere Gordon Childe and his colleague designed a test wall that was 12 feet long, six feet wide and six feet high, which was built for them at Plean Colliery in Stirlingshire. “They used old fireclay bricks for the faces and pit props as timber, and filled the cavity between the walls with small cubes of basalt rubble. They covered the top with turf and then piled about four tons of scrap timber and brushwood against the walls and set fire to them. Because of a snowstorm in progress, a strong wind fanned the blazing mixture of wood and stone so that the inner core did attain some vitrification of the rock”. Modern foresters can attest to gorse fires raging across hillsides well in excess of 800 degrees centigrade on open ground – a covered, stoked fire fed over time would be capable of vitrification and gorse not only freely covers most Scottish hillsides, but is one species which seems to actively flourish after fires – the perfect renewable resource.” [Thanks Jasmine!]
Folklore: ‘When gorse is in flower, kissing is in fashion” is a common rhyme.

 

 

 


Gorse
The Curraugh, Kildare, Ireland

Our Official Page on Gorse is now located at: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/gorse/.

Our Official Page on “Foxglove” is located at http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/foxglove/.

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