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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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Sol Duc Hot Springs, Olympic National Forest, Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Maid of the Mist Tour (Niagara Falls)

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Maid of the Mist Tour
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

If you want to get a good look at the Bridal Veil Falls or the Horseshoe Falls from the American side. It begins as a ferry boat that issues you a rain poncho and takes you out from the calm side of the Niagara River near the Rainbow Bridge. The Tour takes you by the American and Bridal Veil Falls, and then into the spray heavy curve of Horseshoe/Canadian Falls. The tour can be accessed either from the American or the Canadian side. The tour is operated by the Maid of the Mist Steamship Company. The first boat was launched in 1846 to ferry people from Canada to America and vice versa. It lost business when the Suspension Bridge was built and became a tour system. Numerous boats and versions were constructed and used through the years. The very first Maid of the Mist I ran from 1846 until 1854 as a double-stacked steamboat ferry. Business failed in the late 1800’s and was not restored until 1895. The boats have saved a few people who plunged over Horseshoe Falls through the years. The Canadian operations will close in October of 2013. Most likely will be operated by another company on the Canadian side in the near future. Rating: 5 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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The Amsterdam Miracle; Begijnhof and Chapel (Holland)

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

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Thor (PG-13, 2011)

Thor
(PG-13: 2011)
Director: Kenneth Branagh; Starring: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Stellan Skarsgĺrd as Erik Selvig, Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, Clark Gregg as
Agent Coulson, and many more.

Based on the Ragnarok mythology, the 2011 American Superhero film “Thor” is based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name. The film starts out in 965 CE with Odin, the King of Asgard, waging war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey for the prevention of them conquering the nine realms, beginning with Earth. Odin’s soldiers defeat the Frost Giants and sieze the source of their magical power – the Casket of Ancient Winters. Just as Odin’s son Thor is about to take the throne, the Frost Giants break into Asgard and try to steal the casket back. This infuriates Thor, and against his father’s orders, travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey and experiences battle with them, breaking the standstill that Odin worked so hard to establish. Odin is angered with his irresponsibility and wants him to learn what it is like not to have Godly powers or his hammer. However, his evil bother Loki discovers he really is Laufey’s son, kills off Odin his false father, and tries to take the throne for the Ice Giants as the new king of Asgard. He lands in New Mexico where he is found by the astrophysicist Jane Foster, her assistant Darcy Lewis, and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig. The government gets attracted to the wormhole through which Thor travelled to reach Earth and the men in black are soon taking all of Jane’s team’s data. Thor and Jane begin to develop a romance as she helps him get back his hammer and deal with becoming human. The Warriors Three find out what is happening and go to retrieve Thor, after which Loki sends the Destroyer to pursue and kill Thor. Battle on Earth, Thor eventually gets his hammer back, and and defeats the Destroyer. They then return to confront Loki and stop his plan. Odin wasn’t killed and awakens, repairs things with his son Thor, and Thor misses Jane. Thor 2 is planned for July of 2013. I found the film riddled with mythology, in-depth interpersonal dynamics of the Gods and their family relationships, and modern day implementation of ancient myths regarding Thor. High action, emotional appeal, great special effects, and good story line. The 3D gave it a high class edge. Review by Leaf McGowan. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. Viewed 4/23/11.

Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

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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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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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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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07.02.10: CSTL: WPP: Day 27 – Pilgrimage to St. or Goddess Brigid, Sacred Wells, Trees, and her Flame



Me being passed Brighid’s Flame at Kildare by Sister Mary

Sir Thomas Leaf awoke late and rushed off to bus station to catch his bus to Kildare. He missed the first bus but caught the second one. It was a pleasant drive from Dublin to Kildare. He passed through the towns of Kill and then Naas on into Kildare. He found the suggested rendez-vous place in Naas that Faerie Moe suggested. A heavenly sight seeing Faerie Moe coming into the cafe with her dog and “Little Man”. A pleasant tea together catching up on life then a crazy Irish car ride back to Moe’s pad. Moe had some surprise sights for Sir Leaf to see such as The Curraugh and the Giant Donolley’s footprints. A wandering around the Curraugh was had with some spottings of faerie trees. A tromp around a graveyard on to areas that Moe explained circle dances took place. Then another quick car ride off to Moe’s Mom’s house for some more tea and a tasty lunch. As time was clicking with things to get to, Sir Thomas Leaf and Faerie Moe headed off to the village of Kildare. First stop was the information center which had kiosks about the Goddess / Saint Brighid and her importance to the area. Unfortunately they missed being able to go into St. Brigid’s Cathedral as it had closed for the day. They rang Sister Mary and headed down to her house where one of the shrines dedicated to Brighid is alive holding the Sacred Flame of Brighid. As requested, Sir Thomas Leaf’s Quest is almost complete as Sister Mary passed on the Sacred Flame of Brighid to him. He was dumbfounded and in awe, feeling especially blessed and endowed with Brighid’s magical blessings. They got directions to both of Brighid’s Sacred Wells and bid farewell to Sister Mary. Sir Thomas Leaf was so honored to have met the sweet Sister and be blessed. On down to the first Brighid’s Well to collect some sacred healing waters. Then the Faerie Moe led Sir Thomas Oisin Leaf on to the final Sacred Well of Brighid for the final collecting of Sacred Waters. This one had a shrine, Brighid’s shoes, the Well, and a Wishing Tree. After making his wish on the tree and doing a silent Brighid spell, getting a lesson from Faerie Moe on how to make a Brighid’s Cross, he was in ecstatic awe that his Quest was completed. All the sacred elements, magic, spells, charms, and requests have been achieved on this Adventure across the great pond. As Faerie Moe needed to get back to her son, she dropped Sir Thomas Leaf off at the bus stop and sweet farewells were said. As Sir Thomas was awaiting his chariot back to Dublin, a drunk couple approached him and chatted his ears off until the bus arrived. Then they got into the discussion of religion and found out that Sir Thomas Oisin Leaf was a Heathen, a Pagan, a Druid. The woman was shocked and felt extremely sorry for him as he would not get into heaven that way. She asked if she could do a blessing over him to bring him back to Christ … luckily the chariot arrived and saved him from a female Saint Patrick ancestor attempting a conversion that would fail. The return to Dublin was swift. A walk back to the hostel, Leaf was blessed, tired, and in ecstasy from the completion of his journey and having such a magical day with Faerie Moe. A good night’s rest was had with very vivid dreams about his future to be. He will be returning to Ireland someday soon.


Me and Moe at Brighid’s Well in Kildare, Ireland

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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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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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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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The Rock Close:

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Rock Close

Rock Close
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * www.blarneycastle.ie *

A mystical portal in the heart of the castle grounds of Blarney Castle is Rock Close, a place where faeries dance, Witches’ bless and answer wishes, Druids weave magic, stone monuments made, and magic is alive. The Rock Close garden is not only a site of myths and legends, but of romance and art. A dolmen greets you as you walk along the river after walking through a weaved willow tunnel, with misty meadows, moss covered rocks, and waterfalls. As you walk up the Witches Wishing steps to the Witches Kitchen and where the Witch is trapped in the stone, overlooked by the Druid Cave and by the Druid Ceremonial circle where you can walk around where the faeries play. This is one of the most fun and condensed folklore heavy sites I’ve encountered in Ireland – of course its history is a mystery in of itself. It is also a great romantic getaway from the tourist heavy section of Blarney Castle. Prehistoric dwellings adapted by 10th, 13th, and 19th century adaptations lead a lot to the imagination in this garden. In 1824, Croften Croker wrote in his “Researches in the South of Ireland” about the mysteries of this spot.

    “In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. Advantage has been taken of accidental circumstances to form tasteful and characteristic combinations; and it is really a matter of difficulty at first to determine what is primitive, and what the produce of design. The delusion is even heightened by the present total neglect. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the “Wishing Steps,” and you emerge sul margine d’un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moon-light revelry. ~ Croften Croker, 1824

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It was a highly popular in the early 19th century with antiquarians. The mysteries of the Blarney Witch, the Fairies, the Druids, and the Dolmen are sure to enchant you. Blarney Castle does document that this was a place for Druidic worship. The sacrificial altar of course is hearsay, the Druid’s circle is probably, the hermit’s cave or Druid’s cave is a mystery as is the Witches’ kitchen and wishing steps. It has been documented that in the late 1700’s C.E. (Common Era) that the Rock Close was made into the garden area upon which foundations are walked upon today. Apparently the castle owners landscaped around already existing prehistoric dwellings, stone monuments, and Druid circles to make the magical faerie glen it is today.

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Poison Hemlock



Poison Hemlock
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Poison Hemlock
Conium maculatum [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Apiales: Apiaceae: Apioideae: Conium maculatum ]

Common Names:
Hemlock, Poison Hemlock, Devils’ porridge, beaver poison, herb bennet, musquash root, poison parsley, spotted corobane, and spotted hemlock, California fern, deadly hemlock, Nebraska fern, poison parsley, poison stinkweed, snake-weed, spotted hemlock, wode whistle.

Localities:
Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, West Asia, North as well as South Africa. It is naturalized in other parts of Asia, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Species:

Description:
Poison Hemlock is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant that can grow upwards of 2.5 meters tall with a smooth green spotted or red/purple streaked lower smooth stem and finely divided, lacy, triangular leaves (similar to that of parsley) that can grow upwards of 50 centimeters long and 40 centimeters wide. The flowers are clustered in umbels up to 10-15 centimeters across and are small and white. When crushed, the leaves produce a rank, unpleasant odor.

Cultivation:
Commonly found in poorly drained soils near streams, ditches, and ponds as well as roadsides, cultivated fields, and waste areas. It is a highly invasive species in 12 of the United States so pay attention to this before planting or cultivating.

Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
All parts of the plant is highly poisonous, to humans as well as animals, but once the plant leaves are dried, the poison potency is reduced. Hemlock contains pyridine alkaloids coniine, N-methylconiine, conhydrine, pseudoconhydrine and ?-coniceine. Conine has a chemical structure similar to nicotine and is a neurotoxin that disrupts the central nervouse system in humans and livestock. Ingestion can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, salivation, emesis, diarrhea, muscle tremors, muscular weakness, dim vision, convulsions, coma, and respiratory collapse leading to death. In ages past, Hemlock was used as a sedative and for its antispasmodic traits. It was used to treat arthritis. Overdose can produce paralysis and loss of speech, followed by depression of the respiratory function, and then death. Hemlock causes birth defects in swine, cattle, sheep, and goats.

Magical Uses:
Hemlock is very associated with British Witchcraft.

Folklore and History:
In Ancient Greece, Hemlock was utilized to poison condemned prisoners – the most famous of which was Socrates in 399 BCE. As Plato describes Socrates’ death: “The man … laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said ‘No’; then after that, his thighs; and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The chill had now reached the region about the groin, and uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said — and these were his last words — ‘Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Pay it and do not neglect it.’ ‘That,’ said Crito, ‘shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say.’ To this question he made no reply, but after a little while he moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed. And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes.” It has shown up in records to have an association with British Witchcraft. There is a long history about children accidentally being poisoned by it when they made whistles from the hollow stems.

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The Yew Tree


Yew Tree
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

European Yew
Taxus baccata [ Plantae: Pinophyta: Pinopsida: Pinales: Taxaceae: Taxus: T. baccata ]

Common Names:
Yew,

Localities:
The European Yew is a conifer that is native to Western, Central, and Southern Europe as well as Northwest Africa, Northern Iran, and Southwest Asia.

Description:
The Common Yew was amongst the first species to be described by Linnaeus belonging to family Taxaceae. The tree is a small to medium sized evergreen tree that grows approximately 10-20 meters tall (33-66 feet), though has been known to reach 92 feet (28 m) The trunk can become up to 2 meters thick (6 ft) though has been found in odd cases upwards of 13 feet thick in diameter. The Yew tree’s bark is thin, scaly brown and comes off in small flakes that is aligned with the stem. Its leaves are lanceolate, flat, and dark green upwards of 1-4 centimeters long and 2-3 millimters broad that are arranged spirally on a stem with the leaf bases twisted to align the leaves in two flat rows on either side of the stem, except on erect leading shoots when the spiral arrangement is more obvious. The seed cones are highly modified with each one containing a single seed that are 4-7 millimeters long and partly surrounded by a modified scale that can develop into a soft bright red berry-like composition called an aril, approximately 8-15 millimeters long and wide, open at the end. These mature 6-9 months after pollination. The seeds are often eaten by a variety of birds such as waxwings and thrushes who disperse the hard seeds undamaged in their droppings. The arils mature over 2-3 months adding to the successful seed dispersal. The seeds are extremely poisonous and biter, but opened and eaten by some bird species such as the great tits and the hawfinches. Male cones are globose and size 3-6 millimters in diameter, shedding their pollen in early spring. They are mostly dioecious but can be variably monoecious and change sex with time. Yews are slow growing and can be long-living, with some trunks having exceeded 2,000 years old (such as The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland). Age is difficult to determine with the Yew wood because rarely any wood on the tree is as old as the entire tree since the boughs hollow out with age, making ring counts impossible. There are some Yew trees believed to be 5,000-9,500 years old based on archaeological evidence of surrounding structures incorporated with the trees. has been estimated at 2,000 years old. It is the longest living tree in all of Europe.

Cultivation:
The yew can be propagated through cuttings, seed, graftings or layering. Yews prefer a moist, fertile, sandy loam soil, but can grow well in most soils, especially chalk, but not in water-logged ground or sticky wet clay. The yew can flourish in the shade of taller trees, but little will grow in their own shadows.

Common Uses:
The Yew, especially the Irish Yew, is commonly used in landscaping and ornamental horticulture, and are used especially for formal hedges and topiary.
A 450,000 year old wooden spearhead, made out of yew, is one of the world’s oldest wooden artifacts found at Clacton-on-sea,in Essex, UK. It is the choice of woods used for constructing longbows. Yew has also been utilized for making spears, spikes, staves, and small hunting bows. Arrows tipped in a poison made from Yew leaves was commonplace in the Middle Ages. European historical construction of bows from the Yew tree caused severe damage to the livlihood of the species and throughout history saw numerous bans of its harvest. Yew wood was also used to create wheels and cogs, spoons, handles, bowls and any turned items, also found in the body of the lute, and within sacred carvings.

Culinary Uses:
The seeds and leaves are highly poisonous. The only part of the tree that is not poisonous is the aril and the wood. The aril is gelatinous and very sweet tasting.

Medicinal Uses:
The seeds and leaves are highly poisonous. The major toxin is the alkaloid taxane remaining toxic even when the foliage is wilted or dried. Horses have the lowest tolerance to Yew leaves, with a lethal dose of 200-400 mg/kg body weight while other livestock are less vulnerable. Symptoms of Yew poisoning is muscle tremors, convulsions, coldness, difficulty breathing, staggering gait, collapse, and eventual heart failure. Death is rapid. Fatal poisoning in humans are rare except if ingesting alot of yew foliage (estimated between 50-100 grams). It has been used for phyotherapy as published in the Canon of Medicine in 1021. It was used for cardiac remedy in a drug named “Zarnab” as a calcium channel blocker drug not in wide use in the Western world until the 1960’s. This was an early precursor to the chemotherapy drug called Paclitaxel that were made from the leaves of the European Yew. In the Himalayas it is used to treat breast and ovary cancer. Conflicts in 1990 against the harvesting of paclitaxel for cancer treatment from the Pacific Yew has stunted use. Some lore claims it was used to stimulate abortion.

Magical Uses:
It was traditional to take a yew branch on All Saint’s Day to the tombs of those who died recently so that they would find the guide to return from the Land of Shadows. Traditionally yews are planted in graveyards, near chapels, churches, and cemeteries as a symbol of transcendance of death. They are also found in the main squares of villages to bring all together. Often planted as a symbol for long life or as trees of death. Yew wood commonly used to make magical wands and/or staves. The yew represents immortality, renewal, regeneration, everlasting life, rebirth, transformation and access to the Otherworld and the ancestors. Many churchyards once stood in a circle of Yew, based on the churches being built over ancient Druid sacred groves. It is one of the most potent trees for protecting against evil and to bring dreams and otherworldly journeys. The Yew often represents old magic. In hot weather, it gives off a resinous vapor that shamans inhale to gain visions. The Yew is the last of the 20 trees in the Tree Ogham used for divination, prophecy, and a mnenomic device for learning. In Ogham, it is the “Idho” as a link to spiritual guidance through ancestors and guardians of the Otherworlds. It also represents death and resurrection or renewal in the Ogham. Yew used in divining rods can be used to find lost property.

Folklore and History:
The name “Yew” comes from the Proto-Germanic “*?wa-” and with possible origination from the Gaulish “ivos”. Word refers to the color “brown”. “Baccata” is latin for “Bearing red berries”. To the Celts, the Yew Tree has extroadinary supernatural power and importance. It was believed to be linked with the land, the people, the ancestors, and to the ancient religion. The tree is sacred to the Goddess Hecate and the Crone aspects of the Triple Goddess. The Yew was often seen as guardians of the Underworld, death, and the afterlife. It was a common ancient poison. Tribal leaders were often buried beneath the Yew as believed its dryad or tree spirit would join with them.


Yew Tree

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Legend of the Blarney Stone

Legend of the Blarney Stone
Blarney Castle, Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland * Phone: 00 353 21 4385252 * http://www.blarneycastle.ie/
One of Ireland’s most valuable and mesmerizing mythical collections is the infamous Blarney Stone. Called “Cloch na Blarnan” in Irish, it is the legendary stone for the gift of gab. “Blarney” means “Clever, Flattering, or coaxing talk”. The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone that is built within the battlements of Blarney Castle, located approximately 8 kilometers from Cork, Ireland. It is believed that whoever kisses the stone is endowed with the gift of gab, great eloquence, or the skill at flattery. It allows the gifted to impart the ability to deceive without offending. Its not an easy task to kiss the stone, as one needs to be held upside down atop a drop of a tall tower to reach the kissing spot. The stone became part of the tower in 1446 and has become one of Ireland’s most notable tourist sites.

Where does the stone come from? There are many myths and legends surrounding the stone and its origins, the earliest of which involves the Goddess Clíodhna. It is believed that the Castle’s builder, Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, was in a lawsuit and sought out Clíodhna for her assistance. She told him to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and as he did, he gained eloquence and won the court case. Flabbergasted by this magical event he took the stone and added to the castle’s stones. The history of the land and place stretches back over two centuries before the current castle’s construction. There are remains of prehistoric sites and Druid ceremonial remains. No one knows for sure when the Blarney Stone came to the grounds, but it was believed to have arrived sometime around 1602 C.E. Many believe that it was a piece of the Stone of Scone. Others believe it to be the rock that Moses struck with his staff to produce water for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. Others believe it to be the stone that Jacob used as a pillow and was later brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. It is said that it then became the Lia Fail, or ‘Fatal Stone’ and was used as an oracular throne of the Irish kings. Some say its the Stone of Ezel which David hid behind on Jonathan’s advice while fleeing King Saul and brought to Ireland during the Crusades. Others believe it to be the rock pillow used by St. Columba of Iona on his death bead or his portable altar he took with him while doing missionary work in Scotland. Some believe that the stone was first presented to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 to recognize his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. Lore dictates that the stone was previously in Ireland then taken to Scotland and brought back to Ireland in 1314. It is also said that during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Dermot McCarthy, had been required to surrender his fortress to the Queen as proof of his loyalty. He told her he would be delighted to do so, but something always happened at the last moment to prevent his surrender such as throwing a dinner party or event for the officers charged in the takeover. Many believe this was the charm of the Blarney Stone in effect. The Queen replied to this as “Odds bodikins, more Blarney talk!”

Kissing the Stone has been performed by literally ‘millions of people’ in the world, including world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen. Kissing the stone is kissing all of these people by proxy, and by the magical law of contact – gaining the gift of gab that all these people possess. Its not an easy kiss and its important for the lips to touch the bluestone. This quest involves ascending to the castle’s peak, leaning over backwards on the parapet’s edge, entrusting a stranger (Castle guard) with your life by holding on to you. Today, safety wrought-iron guide rails and protective crossbars help prevent death or serious injury. Prior to these installations, the kisser was in danger of serious life risk as they were grasped by their ankles and dangled from the plummet. According to the Sherlock Holmes radio dramatization in “The Adventure of the Blarney Stone” (March 18, 1946) reported a man attempting the kiss plummeting to his death – but determined to be a murder as his boots had been greased before the attempt. The cautious and germ phoebic consider the Blarney Stone to be the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world, as ranked as such by Tripadvisor.com in 2009. It is documented that more than 300,000 visitors come to kiss the stone every year. When I attended in 2010, I watched the guards use antiseptic wipes after every kiss and had hand sanitizer on the spot. Urban legends are amiss that claim locals go up to the Blarney stone at night and piss on it. Of course, anyone who has ever been to the Blarney stone, knowing the tight and tiny ascension up the treacherous tower (that is locked after hours and guarded) that even with breaching security and risking royal criminal punishment, would have to be damn good aim to hit the Blarney stone. Much of the urban legend comes from the incident in the film “Fight Club” where the narrator urinates on the Blarney Stone during his visit to Ireland as his first act of vandalism.

    ‘Tis there’s the stone that whoever kisses
    He never misses to grow eloquent;
    ‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber, Or become a member of Parliament.
    “A noble spouter he’ll sure turn out, or An out and outer to be let alone;
    Don’t try to hinder him, or to bewilder him, For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone.”

In 1825 Sir Walter Scott came to kiss the blarney stone. Father Prout in 1837 spread word of the wonders of the Blarney Stone making it even more of an attraction amongst the nobility and curious. In 1883 the future President William H. Taft of the United States came to kiss the Blarney Stone. By 1887 the new railway into Blarney afforded many travelers the opportunity to kiss the stone, including boxing legend John L Sullivan, at that time the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. In 1912 Winston Churchill came to kiss the stone. In 1984 Ronald Reagan claimed to have kissed the stone.

Many nation’s around the world have attempted to obtain the Blarney Stone. There are quite a few imposters out and about. The one and true stone is in the Blarney Castle.In 1893 during the World’s Fair in Chicago the Blarney Castle and stone was mimicked with the promoters billing that it was the real stone people were kissing, this of course was false. According to a tradition at Texas Tech University, a stone fragment on display since 1939 outside the old Electrical Engineering Building claims to be a missing piece of the Blarney Stone. In 1938 American businessmen offered the Colthurst family a million dollars to allow the stone to go on tour in the U.S. but the offer was rejected.

The Blarney Stone is just the “icing of the cake” when it comes to the magic and myths of Blarney Castle. Even the grounds in its gardens have their attractions and history, as small caves and structures in the Rock Close garden may have neolithic habitation possibilities, and potentially the home to a mythical witch that was trapped in a rock. The Blarney Witch is said to have servitude to the Castle to grant wishes for those walking up and down the Wishing Steps backwards with their eyes closed focusing on only their wish. The Close also has a Dolmen, Fairy Circle, as well as a Druid’s cave and ceremonial circle. The Martin River that runs through the estate is believed to be possessed by ghosts of salmons leaping for ghosts of flies. Enchanted cows walk from the depths of the lake to graze on the meadows below the castle. There is also a glade where Faeries are believed to be at play.

One can kiss the stone from Monday thru Saturday, 9 am to 6:30 pm in September and May, 9 am to 7 pm from June through August, and 9 am to sundown from October to April. On Sundays, kissing can commence from 9 am to 5:30 pm during the summer, and 9 am to sundown during the winter.

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Knocknashee

“Knocknashee”, legendary ” Hill of the Faeries”
County Sligo, Ireland

Knocknashee is known as the legendary “Hill of the Faeries” and is one of Ireland’s seven most sacred hills. The name comes from the Irish “knock” (cnoc) meaning “hill” and “shee” meaning “fairy”. Its older name is Mullinabreena or “Fairy Palace”. The hill fort is located near Lavagh, Ballymote, and rises 900 feet high with a flat top, green and lush, with a diameter of a square mile. Oddly, unlike any other hill in the area, it has absolutely no heather. At its base stands the ruins of Court Abbey and its 90 foot high tower that was built in the 15th century by the O’Haras for the Franciscans. This legendary “Hill of the Fairy Mansion or Palace” as “Mullinabreena” or “Knocknashee” is a sacred site for Faeries and those who worship or believe in them being the mythical headquarters or high court of the Fae. Geologically the hill is a 276 m Marilyn located in the Ox Mountains of County Sligo, Ireland with the River Moy at its foot. It consists of a limestone top with shales underlying the lower slopes. The hill is culturally rich with archaeology as it was discovered to be a hilltop fort in 1988 during a Office of Public Works aerial survey of the county with the observbation of the remains of limestone ramparts containing cairns, burial chambers, and hutsites on its top. The fort is 700 meters long and 320 meters wide, enclosed by two earth and stone ramparts covering an area of 53 acres. There are two cairns, the remains of over 30 circular house sites, and two earth/stone ramparts. The hill has a panoramic view of the Connacht plains. The lower exposures of the hill show irregularly bedded limestone with a diverse fauna of colonial and solitary corals, with very well preserved fossils in silica that were deposited some 340 million years ago. Hilltop is covered with a thin peat. A popular play was made in tribute of the hill called “Knocknashee” by the Irish playwright Deirdre Kinahan in 2002. A traditional Irish song was also named after the hill called “The Hills of Knocknashee” with “The River Moy so gently flows from there unto the sea. Farewell to you, farewell to all from the hill of Knocknashee”.
Directions: Knocknashee is a table-top plateau 7 kilometres NEN of Tobercurry. From Tobercurry take the N17 north for 5 kilometres to Carrowclare then take a left to a T-Junction then a right about 1/2 kilometre on your left is a farm house ask here for permission to climb the hill. Portal Tombs around Knocknasee: http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/sligo.htm

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Gilligan’s World – Faerie Park

Gillighans World
* Tel / Fax 00 353 (0)71 30286 / 00 353 (0)71 84100 * Mobile 087 6811690 / 087 6780831 * e-mail gillighans@eircom.net * Registered Office: Baroncourt, Kilmacowen, Ballysadare, County Sligo * Sligo, Ireland *

Gilligan’s World is a hidden little Faerie theme park, farm, and botanical gardens in the heart of Sligo County in the rolling countryside at the base of the famed Tuatha de Danaan battle mound, the “Knocknashee” the Legendary “Hill of the Faeries”, one of Irelands 7 sacred hills. Mainly centered around children, the park can be a bit of fun for adults and kids alike, especially for those in the faerie persuasion. This little magical kingdom was created by the Baronness of Leyny, the Lady Melody Urquhart (Ph.D) as a faerie habitat to capture the true spirit of Ireland and its mythological/archaeological past. In 1993, she left fame and fortune behind in England as a choreographer / producer / director/ and owner of a finishing school in order to build this sanctuary. Attracted to the Knocknashee, the Mullinabreena, the Hill of the Fairy Mansion or Palace. Complete with miniature model villages, enchanted glades, streams, botanical gardens, a petting zoo, snack shop, gift shop, library, restrooms, car park, picnic areas, and an inn. Streams, forests, wildlife ponds, an aquatic cave, play facilities, with games, quizzes, and puzzles to achieve. The staff is well educated about faerie lore and history. Great place for the kids, schools, coach tours, birthday parties, family groups, and overseas tourists. It has a stone tunnel entrance, with dolmen, an amphitheater, lush green lawns, and inspiration for the wild, wacky, kitch, artistic, imaginative, and fantasy. Its open 7 days a week, Easter through September from 12 to 6 pm on mondays thru fridays, 2 pm to 7 pm on saturdays and sundays. While very kitchy and centered around children, as an adult with a faerie fascination, I enjoyed the park very much – and hope to go back to actually explore the actual Knocknashee. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway:

near Bushmills, Northern Ireland
Tied into the legendary faerie lore with being created by Finn Mac Cool as a causeway to walk between Ireland and Scotland, the area is rich in myths and legends. A World Heritage site (UNESCO 1986), operated by the National Trust, the Giant’s Causeway consists of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were caused by the result of a ancient volcanic eruption 50-60 million years ago. Intense volcanic activity caused highly fluid molten basalt to intrude through the chalk beds forming an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled quickly, contraction began with some in vertical directions that reduced the flow thickness, and horizontal contraction that was accommodated by cracking through the flow varying by lava speed forming the columns. In the heart of County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, the site is not very far from the infamous village of Bushmills. The site was discovered in 1693. It is considered to be the fourth natural wonder in the United Kingdom. Each of the hexagonal columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot onward into the sea where they surface again into Scotland. Some of the columns reach heights upwards of 36 feet high. Most of the columns are hexagonal, though some have four, five, seven, and eight sides. Areas of solidified lava in the cliffs are up to 28 meters thick in some places. The area is infamous for the columns, stepping stones, myths, legends, the Giant’s Boot, and the Organ, the Giant’s Eyes, the Shepherd’s Steps, the Honeycomb, the Giant’s Harp, the Chimney Stacks, the Giant’s Gate, the Camel’s Hump, as well as a panoramic seaside view and beaches. Rating 5 stars out of 5.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Giant’s blood pool:

 

 

Giant’s Boot:

 

 

 


 




 

 


 


The Organ:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 



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06.18.10: Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf: WPP: Day 14 – The Bodmin Moor & Three Wishes Festival, Day 1



Morning view in Newquay, Cornwall

Awakening to hearing the roar of the waves, the brilliant sun shining in through the window, and a refreshed sleep … I grabbed my backpack and stumbled downstairs. The bar was closed – too early for the continental breakfast that comes with the hostel. No way to check out so just left the room card and headed off for a harsh walk across the village of Newquay with my 30 kilo frame backpack and 20 kilo napsack. Got to the train station early, so pitstopped into a restaurant for a English country breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, fried mushroom n’ tomato, and baked beans with a splash of orange juice to wash it all down. Not bad of a deal for 2 quid. Then on to await my train to Par to jump a train to Bodmin where I’d meet Faerie Zoe. The Vancouverite Father and Daughter were cycling by and stopped to say hello – I almost didn’t recognize them. As I was sitting and reading Jacqui’s “Cliff Dreamers” … a duck waddled up to my backpack and started pecking it trying to get at my crackets within. The rail wasn’t bad and got to Bodmin in no time at all. As I stepped off the train into Bodmin … I wandered out to the parking lot to meet the lovely Zoe who was awaiting to pick me up. We drove on across the Bodmin Moor with a pitstop at a convenient store enroute for some camp food to pack into the Three Wishes Faerie Festival. I had most of the route from Bodmin to Colliford Lake as I was expecting to have to walk the whole leg of the journey – what a knotmare that would have been! Thank you sooo much Zoe for the rides! Picked up my staff bracelet as helper for the band Woodland and met up with them. Just in time as Shazzah and her friend Darren were in line with us as we awaited shuttle to the plain where supposedly the Lady of the Lake handed King Arthur Excalibur. Found a good camping spot overlooking the lake, kicked around the sheep’s dung, and set up the tent that Faerie Zoe sooo kindly lent me. English tents are constructed much differently than American ones … a good percentage of them don’t really have floors except right in the sleeping nook. The central area is bare ground. Odd, especially as most of the camping land I’ve encountered in the U.K. has lots of sheep or livestock dung on the moors and fields. Explored the festival and did some facepainting with Shazzah Smile and Darren. Good bands and great faeries abound. That evening, Me and Zoe hung out with Woodland in their trailer to a very festive jam session. Fun times! Exhausting day … I was in bed by 1 am … enchanting evening … beautiful lake … mystical woods … and a nice sleep on the moor with no Bodmin Beast in sight! A great thanks to Emilio, Kelly, Kimmy, Woodland, and Zoe for making it possible for me to attend Three Wishes Faerie Fest! Thank you!!!


A railway station duck looking for handouts …

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The Bodmin Beast

The Bodmin Beast
The Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, United Kingdom

There is a legend in Cornwall – and it really is not unique to the Bodmin Moor. Giant cats and panthers are believed to wander and roam all over Cornwall. But these legendary beasts get their infamous label of “The Bodmin Beast” for the most popular sightings take place on the Bodmin Moor, which is of course a creepy landscape full of faerie lore and horror tales. The legends abound on this moor with its wild and rugged landscape full of mysteries. I remembered momentarily visualizing camping on the moor and a chanceful glance at the panther. The authorities will tell you though … there are no giant cats in England. However, the locals will tell you a different story … sightings all over no different than the Mountain Lions in Colorado or the Panthers in Florida – which certifiably exist. Some locals say they are pet panthers and cougars that were let go in the wild. The Bodmin Beast consists of over 60 sightings a a large black panther-like cat that is 3-5′ long with white-yellow eyes that supposedly prey on local livestock. The evidence was strong enough that the government ordered an official investigation in 1995 but resulted inconclusive (no evidence against it, no evidence to prove it). After the governmental report, a small boy found a leopard skull lying on the banks of the Fowey River, but was later determined to be a part of a disposed leapardskin rug. More sightings continued until someone caught video footage of a black animal about 3 1/2 feet long in 1998.

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Clash of the Titans (PG-13: 2010)


Clash of the Titans 3-D
(PG-13: 2010). Director: Louis Leterrier. Starring: Sam Worthington … Perseus; Liam Neeson … Zeus;
Ralph Fiennes … Hades; Jason Flemyng … Calibos / Acrisius; Gemma Arterton … Io; Alexa Davalos … Andromeda, and many others.


Its the modern remake of the classic “Clash of the Titans” with Hollywood’s dash of futuristic special effects as the retelling of the Greek Myths hit the screen in 2010. Its the age-old story of mankind when they questioned the Greek Gods and declared war on them – having a demi-God amongst them to be their sword bearer to clash with the Titans. This telling is set in Argos at the time of the wars between humans and Deities. Perseus, the Demi-God, is hidden amongst the commoners as a fisherman, until its revelled he’s the bastard son of Zeus holding immortal powers. Zeus aides him in the fight against the Titans as Hades seeks vengeance on humanity and Zeus, wanting to release the Kracken to destroy Argos and regain power over mortals and Olympia. Battling demons, giant scorpions, Titans, the Kracken, and Medusa – aided by the Jin, a troupe of warriors, Zeus, and pegasus … Perseus prevails. Slow to start with some dragging moments, and the ending is quickened – but action packed and good effects with a great telling of the Greek myths. The 3-D effects were amazing. Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5.

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Pele


Pele

Pele

Is the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes, Fire, Lightning, Dance, and Violence. Local legend places that Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the specific home of the Hawaiian Goddess Pele, in the Halema’uma’u crater at the summit caldera of Kilauea. She only erupts when she is angry. Several specific lava formations are named after her including “Pele’s Tears” (small droplets of lava that cool in the air and retain their teardrop shapes) and Pele’s Hair (thin, brittle strands of volcanic glass that often form during the explosions that accompany a lava flow as it enters the ocean). It was at the location of Kilauea where it is believed that Pele and the rain God Kamapua’a fought. Halema?uma?u, “House of the ?ama?uma?u fern”, derives its name from the final struggle between the two gods: since it was the favorite residence of Pele, Kamapua?a, hard-pressed by Pele’s ability to make lava spout from the ground at will, covered it with the fronds of the fern. Choking from the smoke which could not escape anymore, Pele emerged. Realizing that each could threaten the other with destruction, the gods had to call their fight a draw and divided the island between them: Kamapua?a got the windward northeastern side, and Pele got the drier Kona (“leeward”) side. The rusty singed appearance of the young fronds of the ?ama?uma?u was said to be a product of the legendary struggle. Pele has numerous siblings including K?ne Milohai, Kamohoali?i, N?maka and 13 sisters named Hi?iaka, the most famous being Hi?iakaikapoliopele (Hi?iaka in the bosom of Pele who are all considered to be the offspring of Haumea. Another mythos is that Pele came from a land said to be close to the clouds, with her parents Kane-hoa-lani and Ka-hina-li?i, and brothers Ka-moho-ali?i and Kahuila-o-ka-lani. She had a daughter with her husband Wahieloa (also called Wahialoa) that she named Laka and a son named Menehune. Pele-kumu-honua entices her husband and Pele travels in search of him. The sea pours from her head over the land of Kanaloa (perhaps the island now known asKaho?olawe) and her brothers say: “A sea! a sea! Forth bursts the sea, Bursts forth over Kanaloa (Kahoolawe),
The sea rises to the hills. . . .” “Thrice” (according to the chant) the sea floods the land, then recedes. These floodings are called The-sea-of-Ka-hina-li?i.

Living Stone:Hawai’ian tradition says that the volcano Goddess Pele, resides in the Halema’uma’u, the summit cratere of Kilauea. As a powerful creative force in nature, with a presence that is both physical and spiritual, she is clearly an inspiration to many. The elemental sculpture, Ulumau Pohaku Pele (ever growing rock of Pele), honors Pele, and the wahi kapu (sacred places) of Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
~ historical marker at Volcano National Park

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Mythmaker – Day 2 – August 1, 2009 performance at Faerieworlds


Mythmaker

Mythmaker – Day 2 @ Faerieworlds
Faerieworlds * August 1, 2009 * 11:20 pm – midnight * Mt. Pisgah, Eugene, Oregon * http://www.mythmaker.ca/ *
One of my most favorite cirque-like troupes for entertainment, dance, firespinning, and performance. By far one of the most talented and enchanting circus troupes and performance companies I’ve ever encountered. They literally bring the living myth alive. They specialize in fire dancing, stilt walking, sacred theater, mythology, ceremonial costumed Celtic circus creatures, magical music and mask making, parades, poi, giant puppets, and sacred storytelling of the staff and sword. Mythmaker Productions is the brainchild of theater director Hjeron O’Sidhe. Hjeron began in performance arts at a young age, mixed with his education in Celtic, Central/South American, and Native American studies, mythology, and storytelling he was inspired to create living myth. From his “Sacred Earth Studios” which was a portable digital recording studio emphasizing ethnomusicology and the preservation of traditional sacred music from around the world, be decided to create Mythmakers. Since 1999 he has written, directed, acted, and composed the musical scores for over 12 performance pieces based on storytelling, movement, and cultural/community empowerment. With his amazing team and collective of fire spinners, dancers, costumers, artisans, and performers; Mythmakers travel around providing entertainment, ritual, ceremony, art, style, magic, and enchantment to the venues they visit. They have performed numerous times at Faerieworlds, Earth Dance, Burning Man, and many other events throughout the United States and Canada. Absolutely mesmerizing. Their performance on August 1st was above-and-beyond amazing. Never miss one of Mythmaker’s performances if you can help it. “To create, integrate, and to perform a new cultural mythology. To live and inspire a new dream, which empowers the individual, community, and culture to co-create a sustainable future for all life.” (Mythmakers mission) Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

My Review of the Mythmaker’s Special Performance, Day 1

Bad Fae Fire Show by Mythmaker
Youtube video by pequenakid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrC9A5aS56I

Continue reading Mythmaker – Day 2 – August 1, 2009 performance at Faerieworlds

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Daemonia Nymphe at Trolls et Legends 2009

Daemonia Nymphe (from Greece)
* Live Saturday, April 11th, 2009 – Trolls et Legendes Festival – Mons, Belgium *
www.myspace.com/daemonianymphe
Mystical and Mythic masterpiece of Greek theater and music, this spectacular band brings one back to the times of Greece and deep ritual. Masked and ritualistic, the audience was noticeably transformed by these artists during the Trolls et Legendes festival in Mons Belgium on April 11th. Performing on period instruments, Daemonia Nymphe brings the unusual to the front. Spectacular and mesmerizing. Thank you. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 16, Part A (4/10) -Leaving Amsterdam for Mons, Belgium to the “Trolls et Legendes” festival …

Part A


Hunting for the hostel in Mons

Friday, 10 April 2009
Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Mons, Belgium

The adventurers had a pretty interesting night partying in Amsterdam with the pub crawl. Awaking early with a hangover was not the best start to the day that Sir Thomas Leaf could have. Onwards to check out from the Zeesburg hostel after a good night rest. Princess Breanna took advantage of the free breakfast and chatting with friends before their departure, Sir Thomas Leaf was certainly too groggy and needed to catch up on winks. A short bus ride from the hostel to the Zeesburg park-n-ride, the party was soon into their rental auto-carriage and off on the road to Belgium – the land of chocolate and fries. The roads getting out of Amsterdam were pretty congested and a headache, but once into Belgium, the traffic alleviated somewhat. It was afterall Easter weekend and since European’s are big on travel and vacations, one would be sure to run into crowds hitting the roads for their Easter vacation plans. The party drove through Brussels, but didn’t stop, as they wanted to get to Mons to find their hostel and the festival center so they could see the opening acts at http://www.trolls-et-legendes.be/. Sir Thomas Leaf has 6 years of French under his belt so was quite excited to try it out – unfortunately he sucks at comprehension and pronunciation, so it was no better that he knew French as he was still stuck with English. It however was much easier for him to manage in Belgium than Germany and other countries he felt. The roads in the historic section of Mons were an absolute nightmare. Cobbled roads all one way, roads the GPS was saying existed either didn’t or were blocked off, the frustrated duo, arguing over directions, finally two hours of driving around in circles parked and hoofed it on foot dragging their luggage. They weren’t too far off as the looming castle of a hostel was right in front of them the whole time, it was just shut off from driving to it because of road constructions and restorations. Checking in, they were blessed with their own private room, as the apparently “full” hostel on the web, wasn’t so full in person. One could spot a few of the festival goers in their outfits that were staying at the hostel as well. Unfortunately, the duo really struggled getting around because no one knew English and with Sir Thomas Leaf’s poor french, it was a struggle finding out where to go. The woman at the hostel desk knew decent English so was able to guide them to the Central station so they could catch a bus to the festival center.

Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 16, Part A (4/10) -Leaving Amsterdam for Mons, Belgium to the “Trolls et Legendes” festival …

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Belgium

Belgium
2008 estimated population: 10,666,866. with a area of roughly 11,787 square miles (30,528 km2)
The Kingdom of Belgium is the founding member of the European Union and the host of its headquarters, and is a small northwestern European country that straddles the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe. “Belgium” is derived from “Gallia Belgica” – a Roman province in northwestern Gaul that was inhabited by the Belgae, a blend of Celtic and Germanic peoples. Belgium hosts two main linguistic groups, the Flemings and the French, with a very minute group of German speakers. It is also the host country to many major international organizations including NATO and the OECD. The two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north that hosts 59% of the population, and the French speaking southern region of Wallonia which is populated by 31%. The Capital region is Brussels, though bilingual, is mostly French speaking. Belgium’s linguistic diversity and related political/cultural conflicts are reflected in their complex system of government. Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg were all known as the Low Countries that were once a larger landmass than the current Benelux (Be=Belgium, NE=Netherlands, LUX=Luxembourg) group of states. Belgium prospered greatly from the end of the Middle Ages to the 17th century with commerce and culture. Continue reading Belgium

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The Unborn (R: 2009)

The Unborn (R:2009)
Written by/Director David S. Goyer. Starring: Odette Yustman … Casey Beldon; Gary Oldman … Rabbi Sendak; Meagan Good … Romy; Cam Gigandet … Mark Hardigan; Idris Elba … Arthur Wyndham; Jane Alexander … Sofi Kozma; and many more.

    “Sometimes the soul of a dead person has been so tainted with evil that it is denied entrance to heaven. It must endlessly wander the borderlands between worlds, desperately searching for a new body… “

One of my favorite horror and mythological themes: the opposite alternative doppleganger-like being that lives in the otherworldly realm with portals into our world by means of mirrors. I’m not sure why I’m obsessed with the mirror-being, doppleganger type entities lore and tales, but I am. This movie definitely has some intriquing twists and ideas behind those legends/beliefs. Its a story about a twin, who doesn’t know she’s a twin. Cursed by a family lineage of twins afflicted by Nazi occultism/experimentation that opened a portal in the past for a evil-doppleganger like entity called a “dybbuk”, a malevolent spirit that refuses to leave the human world and inhabits the body of a person, until it can find a way to be “born”. First haunting his twin sister by dreams and then visions, she goes through a disturbing fight for survival as she wraps herself around Jewish mysticism in order to have the “dybbuk” exorcized from her. Good effects and a good plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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