https://youtu.be/LaAW8ecz694?list=RDLaAW8ecz694 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The faeries mean different things to different people. There is a great range in their taxonomy; they can be the archetypal characters found in faerie tales, folkloric entities existing in a liminal reality, animistic nature spirits responsible … Continue reading
‘Beast Literature’, stories where human-like, talking animals and birds are the main characters became especially popular in the twelfth century (Salisbury, 1994:124-8).
But the Beast Literature tradition did not invent the concept of talking animals. There was a native tradition in Gaelic and Welsh literature (e.g. ‘Nauigatio Brendani’, ‘Culhwch ac Olwen’) which may have originally been derived from the biblical stories of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and Baalam’s Donkey (Numbers 22). (Harris-Logan, 2007: 88-91).
Actually, the idea of animals learning to talk remains common in Scottish Gaelic folklore to this day. There is a literary saying (seanfhacal) in modern Gaelic. ‘Nuair a bha Ghaidhlig aig na h-eoin ‘s ann a bha linn an aigh’ (Back when birds spoke Gaelic…. that was the age of joy).
The most famous example of speaking animals from Scotland is probably a piece of poetry written by Eoghan MacLachlainn (Ewen MacLachlan) called ‘Dàn mu Chonaltradh’ (English title: The Colloquy of the Birds). It was first published in 1798, but is set in the distant age of joy. The translation I give is from Forbes (1905) and is tentative and literary rather than exact.
When MacLachlainn wrote this poem (c.1795) he was still a young man, working as a tutor at Clunes in Lochaber, south-west Scotland, saving money and hoping to go to university (Mackenzie, 1841:321-3). Perhaps the intended theme is one of hope – the world was once a magical place. Harris-Logan (2007:111) has pointed out that Gaelic poetry which represents birds talking is often written for escapist reasons or out of an aspiration for otherness.
More work on my favourite enigma, from New Earth Lady
Dunsgaich, Dunsgathaich, Dunskahay (1424), etc.
The shadowy fort, fort of gloom. This name, as will be understood, has appeared under various spellings, even since above date, while the etymology of the word has also been varied; the shadowy town or fort, the fort of the jutting-out land, sgathaich, branches or brushwood, which no Gaelic scholar would give; even the latter word being pronounced differently should suffice, but worse is to follow in “ the hillock of the skates ” ! One, more probable, cannot be ignored, viz., Sgathach’s Fort, but the queen after-mentioned took her name or title from the fort and not the fort from her; in point of fact, the fort itself took the name from the bay or loch, Sgàth vik, shadow bay, and the district Sgàthavaig is always now in use. The queen above referred to was, according to one account, and accounts vary considerably, she whom Cuchullin fell in love with, the beautiful Aisè, Aoisè, or Aoife (long s mistaken for /), a daughter to Ardgenny; another account gives it that a school of arms was kept by her (Aisè or Aisi) in conjunction with her father, here named Otha or Uathaidh; see “ Death of the Children of TJsnach.” Again, it is stated that Cuchullin fell in love with Uathach, “ daughter of the princess of the dun.” Anyway, this person seems to have been, as above stated, Aisè, who bore a son to Cuchullin, named Conlach, the word gu, con, it may be noted, appearing in the names of both father and son; this son was slain, in ignorance of whom’ he was, by his father.
Cuchullin came very young to Skye from Ireland, where one of his castles stood; he came to learn the feats taught in the military school kept by Sgatbach the Terrible,” her territorial title. This Cuchullin did so as to win the love of an Irish princess, “ Emer or Eimhir the Lovely,” the daughter of Forgall Manach, Forgall the Monk, also designated “ the wily.” While in Skye, he met Aisè, as above stated, but forsook her; see “ Bàs Chonlaoich,” the death of Conlaoch, as given in the Book of the Dean of Lismore. Cuchullin apparently returned to Ireland, and married Emer, Evir, Awoir, or Ayvir, in modern Gaelic.
Eimhear, for by all these names has she been referred to in ancient script, etc., in one or more of which she is said to have proved as faithless to Cuchullin as he was to Aisè,. or Bragela (Braighe Gheala) (fair-bosom, as a poetical title), and said to have been Cuchullin’s wife also, mother of Conlaoch at any rate, and whom he left to pine in Skye. Going to Ireland, he engaged in many combats there, in one of which he fell; various accounts, as may be understood, are given of this final fight, though an Irish poem has it that his death was due to the arts of magic, Cuchullin was still held as belonging to Skye, for in the Ossianic poems he is designed as “ Chief of the Ielei of Mist.” Among many adventures and feats in Ireland, Cuchullin attacked and slew a king of Munster, and carried off his queen, Blamait or Blathmaid, into Ulster; this, it is believed, he did “ for a friend.”
Queen or princess, “ Sgathach ” lived in the dun or fort with her two sons. Many and wonderful, it is said, were the feats taught in the college here, to which, as said, Cuchullin came as a pupil or student. Along with him, pursuing their military education also, were four grandsons of a certain Druid of the Piets of Ulster, called Cathbad; Cuchullin was one, three sons of Uisneach, and Conall Cearnach, five in all.
This queen or princess, “ fierce and ruthless warrior queen,” as she is styled in some accounts, or her daughter, Uathach, according to others, was in love with “ Cuchulainn, the son of Learg” ; none fairer had been seen by her or any other woman, though, it is also said, he loved no woman in Skye, though he was loved by “ three times fifty queens ” ! This warrior-queen Sgathach had the second sight, and foresaw the career and early death (at 30) of Cuchullin, who fell at Muirthemne in Ireland, fighting against great odds. Cuchullin was really older than thirty years, that age having been given poetically, as his full strength and his being “ beardless ” made him appear younger.
Despite the fierce character of this Queen Sgathach, she had other attractions, being passionately fond of music, especially of a melodious nature; she possessed a three-stringed magical harp, one string of which, when tuned, caused laughter and dancing, “ Geantraighe,” gean, good’ humour, cheerfulness, and traigh, strength; a second, crying or weeping, etc., “ G-ultraighe,” gul, guil, weeping, and trcdghe; while the third, “ Suantraighe,” suain, suaine, sleep, and tmighe, caused heavy, balmy sleep.
Queen Sgathach, in addition to the training to arms, etc., inculcated lessons of mutual friendship and fidelity, and bestowed prizes or gifts of arms upon at least two of her favourites, viz., Cuchullin and his friend Ferdagh; these two went to battle, after surmounting many difficulties, on behalf of the three amazons, Sgathach and her two daughters, Uathach and Aisè, while Cuchullin called the queen his “ tender tutoress/’ which apparently she was to him!
The faithlessness of Emer, Emire, Evir, etc., above referred to, is strongly questioned by Irish writers, and reference may be made to her “ Lament for Cuchulainn,” who is there designed Mhic Subhalt, Shubhailt, Shual- tain, also Mhic Sheimhi, in Irish, of course. In the notes to the 1760 “ Trànslation of Ossian’s Poems,” Cuchullin is designed as son of Semo, grandson of Cathbat, a celebrated Druid; there it is stated that he was married very young to Bragela, daughter of Sorglan, at his castle or palace at Dunsgaich; all these accounts conflict, and still another account has it that he married Uathach, the other daughter of Queen Sgathach, but had a son previously (Conlaoch) by her sister, Aoife (Eva); and, on his return to Ireland, he married the before-mentioned Emer or Eimer. All this took place in the first century a.d .
Aife, Aoibhe, Aoive, Aoisè, Aisè, or by whatever name she was known, gave Cuchullin, while in Skye, a model of a fatal—or at least deadly—spear called the “Gath Bolg ” or balg, a bag, etc., made from the bone or bones of some “ monster ” animal. See “ Tain Bo Chuailgne” a mythical tale; the bull referred to here supposed to have been a god.
One of the chief “ Captains ” of Queen Sgathach was “ Maev (Maebh) the Strong,” a warrior woman; there were at least five score of these female warriors, and on one occasion they executed twenty Vikings or Norse seamen, who had escaped drowning in the loch (Loch Scavaig.), by tying the long hair of each to the down-caught boughs of an oak, on which, being let go, the men swung till dead.
In more than one account of this famous fortress (Dunegàich) it is described as being on the “ North-east coast of Scotland,” also “ in the east of Alba ” (by Alba is meant Ireland), and a famous writer described it as a “ foreign academy ” !
Cuchullin’s name is more immediately associated with Dun Sgàthaich than any other place. In Skye to this day (as elsewhere), his very name is proverbial, “ Cho laidir ri Cuchulainn” and another of his names or titles was “ Setanta,” which was his first name, and which an authority says “ indirectly suggests British ancestry in his case” ; he was designed by another authority as a “ daughter’s son of Cathbad, Conchobar’s famous Druid, who had three daughters; the other two were mothers of Conall Cernach (Cearnach) and Naoise, thus cousins of Cuchullin.”
Many are the tales, traditions, and rumours, local and otherwise, as to this interesting castle, now in ruins; it was one of the most primitive, the keep having been, added about 1266. In an Act *of James V. occurs, “ donaldo gromych mcdonald gallich de dunskàwich,”u long, it should be noted. These tales, etc., are, however, vague and not to be depended upon, as, for example, the statement has been made that its origin has been attributed to the Homans, or even to giants, etc.! There are traces of a burial-place near the castle, but no exhumation of bodies or human remains have been made so far as known. Right below the castle, or dun, and resting on a huge flat rock, is a perfectly round stone of a very considerable size and apparent weight; tradition has it that this was the “ putting stone ” (clach-neart) in use by the “ men” of old; it can hardly be raised by two of the strongest “ men ” of this day. This stone, it may be mentioned, is supposed to be nothing more or less than a “ travelled ” boulder of the Ice Age.
In 1514 Dunsgaich was actually seized, and held for a time, by Lauchlan Maclean of Dowart or Duart (Dubhard) black height, and that on behalf of Sir Donald of Lochalsh. The name “Dunskaith” appears in a certain work, and is interpreted “ the fort of mischief” ; this fort, however, is situated on a little knoll on the northern “ sutor of Cromarty,” stated to have been a “royal ” fortress erected by William the Lion, now the site of another fortress; but this by the way.
Dunsgàich proper is shortly described as “ a vitrified fort near Tocavaig, above Gauscavaig Bay.” The present ruins even are thought to be secondary to the original fort built above the “ shadowy ” bay.
Here is earlier Mons Angelorum blog post, 2015, from when I was investigating the Standing Stones….
To stumble across the idea (of a round world) by chance needs an unusual set of geographical features. The only location I have found that the idea can both be proven and stumbled across by chance is at Preseli: At this location, Neolithic constructions of unknown age are located in precisely the correct locations to show how this might have been found.
Immediately below these locations is the possible quarry that some archaeologists say is the source of the bluestones used at Stonehenge. Using the Geocentric Hypothesis, Stonehenge is a model of our Cosmos which shows, amongst other things, that the Earth is round (the circle of Stones representing our world).
Katie-Jo Luxton, the director of RSPB Cymru, said: “Our beautiful, biodiverse and bewitching oak woodlands are some of the least known treasures of rural Wales. These natural forests feature strongly in Welsh folklore but have become undervalued and degraded in recent times. This project will help us restore these mysterious and special places, and encourage the people to celebrate and enjoy these places – and hopefully inspire a new generation of Welsh folklore writers.”
Four pieces of the Celtic rainforest in north and mid-Wales will be the focus of the project. They include Coed Felinrhyd and Llennyrch in Snowdonia, north Wales. Coed Felinrhyd was mentioned in the collection of Welsh legends, the Mabinogion, as the last resting place of King Pryderi of Dyfed, killed in combat with Gwydion the trickster.
‘If there’s one thing we know about ancient Egypt, they did death better than anyone else.’ So spoke the British archaeologist Tony Robinson on a dig at the Aswan tombs in 2018. What he didn’t say is that the more archaeologists dig up, the more they face the same baffling questions. Why, in different parts of Egypt, have so many tombs been found empty? Why mummification? What are the enigmatic Pyramid Texts and the Book of the Dead all about? And the biggest question of all: what did the ancient Egyptians know about death that, thousands of years later, we don’t? Immortality—life after death—seems to have preoccupied them above all else, and we don’t know why.
The Kolbrin contains six ancient Egyptian books, the remnants of scrolls written or copied by scribes from much earlier writings. These enigmatic books, whose provenance has not yet come to light, may one day be recognised as a record of humanity’s distant past—but something even more mysterious can be found there: dotted throughout are writings about ancient Egypt’s search for immortality.
Surprisingly, what the Kolbrin says about immortality has little to do with mummification– indeed, it is rather dismissive of the practice. Mummification, it says, dates back to a far distant time when a group of refugee priests from an advanced civilisation arrived in Egypt after a global cataclysm and found the human beings around them reduced to barbarism.
‘Children wandered the plainland like the wild beasts, for men and women became stricken with a sickness that passed over the children.’1
A set of highly decorated chalk cylinders, carved in Britain more than 4,000 years ago and known as the Folkton drums, could be ancient replicas of measuring devices used for laying out prehistoric monuments like Stonehenge, archaeologists say.
The researchers from the University of Manchester and University College London in the U.K. said that a fixed number of turns of a string around the hand-size objects gives a standard measurement of 3.22 meters — or about 10.5 feet — a length that was used to lay out many Neolithic stone and timber circles.
Three of the ornately carved chalk cylinders were found in 1889, near the village of Folkton, in Yorkshire in the north of England. The smallest is 4.09 inches (10.4 centimeters) across, the next is 4.88 inches (12.4 cm) and the largest is 5.75 inches (14.6 cm).
One of the most famous psychic projects pursued by the U.S. military was a program that sought to delve into tapping into a wide variety of mental powers for military purposes, which was eventually called Project Stargate. Originally started in 1978 at Fort Meade, Maryland, it was the brainchild of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and a California company called SRI International, and its scope would become wide beyond what anyone could have expected. The idea was simply to try and develop psychic powers for use in military operations, initially focusing on remote viewing, wherein faraway objects and places can be seen by the psychic, but soon branching out to clairvoyance, manipulating computer systems with the mind, and even supposedly powers straight from a movie, such as levitation, invisibility, walking through walls, or killing with the power of the mind.
For the last two decades, ghost hunters have relied on a fairly unchanging bag of tools, but a new parapsychological experiment is shaking up the field with jaw dropping results. After appearances in Travel Channel’s Kindred Spirits and Planet Weird’s Hellier, The Estes Method, sometimes called the SB7 Spirit Box Experiment, is changing the way people investigate the paranormal.
EMF meters, digital recorders, and full-spectrum cameras have been staples of paranormal investigation in various forms, but with a few exceptions, innovation in new tools – or the use of old ones – has been relatively stagnant. After all, one of the most sought-after ghost hunting tools, the Panasonic RR-DR60, is a digital recorder that’s nearly two-decades old and can fetch upwards of three-thousand dollars on eBay.
So, where are all the new ideas in the field? Just head to Colorado.
Egypt’s first laws emerged when the Upper and Lower kingdoms were unified, according to tradition, under King Menes around 2950 B.C. From then on, different pharaohs would bring their own approaches to law and order. Although rulers would change, the unifying principle of the monarch’s sovereignty did not. Pharaohs held supreme authority in settling disputes, but they often delegated these powers to other officials such as governors, viziers, and magistrates, who could conduct investigations, hold trials, and issue punishments. Unlike the legal Code of Hammurabi, developed in the 18th century B.C. in Mesopotamia, ancient Egyptian law was not set in stone, and although power always flowed from the pharaoh, Egypt’s laws were rather like the Nile: fluid, organic, and changing with the times. (See also: The truth behind Egypt’s female pharaohs and their power.)
In Egyptian cosmology, the goddess Maat embodied the concepts of order, truth, and justice. Viziers often wore a pendant in the form of the goddess, who is often shown with an ostrich feather on her head. Egyptians believed that living according to her precepts—honesty, loyalty, and obedience to the king—would keep chaos at bay. Egyptian kings were not exempt from living by Maat’s principles. They too were expected to uphold order through wise rule, just decisions, and humility before the gods. This belief united commoners and kings in the responsibility for maintaining balance and harmony in society, which may have led to fewer periods of civil unrest in Egypt’s long history.
Jasun Horsley’s book Vice of Kings is an exploration in the purpose, practice and importance of pedophilia.
Horsley begins with his own childhood among the British aristocracy. He explains the basis upon which he renounced his family and fortune. He branches out from the intimate into the scandal surrounding Jimmy Saville, the life and teachings of Aleister Crowley and the accumulated evidence to suggest that pedophilia is far more prevalent than we commonly believe.
Horsley is interested in exploring the philosophy and culture behind pedophilia. For me, this is a wholly unique approach.
I think of pedophilia as prevalent because it has been successful as a tool of power and wealth accumulation and control. Inducting children into the practice early creates an imprinting system – just as a farmer will hold a calf or foal when it is born to imprint it with the farmer instead of the mother.
These are the subconscious ties that bind. Children can then be trained to provide sex, data storage, courier services, even assassination. Child slaves are the basis of numerous personnel benefits. Child sex slaves create control files and the basis of blackmail. Pedophilia is one of the mechanisms by which covert operations can be implemented and kept secret on an economic basis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how the secrecy of the national security state could exist without pedophilia and related mind control technologies.
IN WESTERN SAHARA, A DISPUTED region on the northwest coast of Africa, there is a 3.5-square-mile plot of land that contains more than 400 ancient stone monuments—an incredible number, even for the Sahara, which “is absolutely full of stone monuments, usually located in places of particular topographical interest,” says Joanne Clarke, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology at the University of East Anglia. Clarke and Nick Brooks, an ecologist specializing in climate change, have been studying this area, just north of the village of Tifariti, since 2002 and recently published the results of their work, according to LiveScience. This remarkable collection of structures and landmarks dates from over 10,000 years ago to 3,000 years ago, and will help the researchers understand how people migrated into the region and adapted to the spread of the Sahara Desert.
The Tifariti area was once a natural basin, and as a water source in an region that was growing increasingly arid, it would certainly have been of interest to migrants thousands of years ago, from present-day Morocco, Libya, and Algeria to the north and what are now Mauritania and Mali to the south. “One of our theories is that as the Sahara dried in the mid Holocene—between five and six thousand years ago—this is one of the refugia, an area where water remained,” says Clarke. And where there was likely to be water, there were people. The variety of these monuments, archaeologists think, reflects the range of places from which these people migrated.
Kirk’s interest is not in the fairy tale but in the numenology of the fairies as superdimensional entities: ‘These sith,’s or Fairies, they call sluag[h] maith or the good people […] are said to be of a midle nature betwixt man and Angell (as were dæmons thought to be of old); of intelligent studious Spirits, and light changable bodies (lik those called Astrall) somewhat of the nature of a condens’d cloud, and best seen in twilight.’
Today is the second anniversary of the Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives being published online after a lengthy legal battle. While we’ll be examing some of the larger impact the release has had in a little bit, we also wanted to share what’s hands down the weirdest thing we’ve found so far.
If you find yourself wandering the creepier corridors of CREST, you might stumble upon a file entitled “PICTURE OF A MAN.” Pretty straightforward title, sure, but when you actually click on through …
In the West, consciousness was long thought to be a divine gift bestowed solely on humans. Western philosophers historically conceived of nonhuman animals as unfeeling automatons. Even after Darwin demonstrated our kinship with animals, many scientists believed that the evolution of consciousness was a recent event. They thought the first mind sparked awake sometime after we split from chimps and bonobos. In his 1976 book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes argued that it was later still. He said the development of language led us, like Virgil, into the deep cognitive states capable of constructing experiential worlds.
This notion that consciousness was of recent vintage began to change in the decades following the Second World War, when more scientists were systematically studying the behaviors and brain states of Earth’s creatures. Now each year brings a raft of new research papers, which, taken together, suggest that a great many animals are conscious.
It was likely more than half a billion years ago that some sea-floor arms race between predator and prey roused Earth’s first conscious animal. That moment, when the first mind winked into being, was a cosmic event, opening up possibilities not previously contained in nature.
There now appears to exist, alongside the human world, a whole universe of vivid animal experience. Scientists deserve credit for illuminating, if only partially, this new dimension of our reality. But they can’t tell us how to do right by the trillions of minds with which we share the Earth’s surface. That’s a philosophical problem, and like most philosophical problems, it will be with us for a long time to come.
Apart from Pythagoras and a few others, ancient Western philosophers did not hand down a rich tradition of thinking about animal consciousness. But Eastern thinkers have long been haunted by its implications—especially the Jains, who have taken animal consciousness seriously as a moral matter for nearly 3,000 years.
If anyone feels inclined to assist with my transport appeal, the GoFundMe transport appeal page is here :
Gratitude for setting it up, and to those who supported already ! 🙂
The mountain in the background is where I live, just where that tree on the middle horizon toward left extends up to the skyline
The wild Welsh daffodils are emerging here, which is glorious to see and soon they’ll be flowering, which is a wonder each year. These are not the big gawdy commercial varieties, these are some ancient native species that must have arrived here somehow after the last glaciers retreated.
Well, my dear readership, I’m rather happy to relate that I’ve been having a fine stimulating exchange with a certain feral feline woman on the internet, and, so far, I have not crashed and burned in a storm of vitriol, slander, discord, woe and/or dismay, and I have to say, I’m somewhat proud of this, because in my view she’s a remarkably awesome person whose extraordinary work I’ve been admiring for some time.
Before any of you readers have the thought ‘…he’s MUCH too old for that sort of thing !’…. Well, of course he is ! He knows this as well as anyone, ya ninnies. Old an grim an savage and feckin knackered. But it IS the Springtime, the sap is rising, buds are swelling, there’s lamb’s tails on the hazels, and if an old man can’t catch the eye of a pretty woman and give her a wink, then what’s the point ? Might as well give up, dig a hole in the ground, jump in, and pull the soil over me head for the Big Sleep. There’s a few sparks left in me yet, I’ll have you know. I’m not quite ready to turn into moldy dust. So there !
Here’s one of her blog pages.
I’m enjoying learning about this wild woman, Sgàthach an Eilean Sgitheanach, who taught martial arts up on the Isle of Skye, it’s all fascinating new information for me to explore. At least, I think it is new ? The stroke scrambled my old brain and deleted info, so that there are gaps and blanks, but I don’t recall having known about this stuff earlier in my life.
I’ve read a lot on ancient Celtic material, but for some reason or other I seem to have missed this very interesting area, so readers are welcome to try and follow me as I explore whatever is there to be found… whether I can make it coherent, lucid or just vaguely intelligible remains to be seen… 🙂
Scáthach, (Gaelic: “The Shadowy One”), in Celtic mythology, female warrior, especially noted as a teacher of warriors.
Scáthach was the daughter of Árd-Greimne of Lethra. She lived on an island (thought to be the Isle of Skye) in an impregnable castle, the gate of which was guarded by her daughter Uathach. At this fortress Scáthach trained numerous Celtic heroes in the arts of pole vaulting (useful in the assault of forts), underwater fighting, and combat with a barbed harpoon of her own invention, the gáe bolg. Her best-known student was Cú Chulainn, who stayed with her for a year in order to learn the skills that helped him win many battles. A number of other heroes of Celtic mythology also owed their prowess to the training of the Amazon Scáthach.
She seems to me less like an Amazon and more like a Ninja.
JP Mallory describes this book as a companion to his The Origins of the Irish, from 2013, in which he sketched the emergence in the early medieval period of a people who were recognisably Irish. In that book he briefly examined the legendary history of Ireland as written down in early-medieval times by clerical scholars who prized the vernacular traditions of poetry, myth and legend and gave them an honoured place side by side with the Latin learning of the church.
He returns to that subject in this latest valuable study written in his characteristic accessible and witty style. This reviewer at first sight thought that the title was the wheeze of a publisher anxious to attract new market segments, perhaps even New Age ones. But, no, it is the author’s own choice and he is clearly a little uneasy about its applicability as he writes in his introduction a wise precautionary apology to the aboriginal peoples of Australia for his appropriation or possible misappropriation of their concept of “a sacred time in which both the natural world and human culture and traditions originated and that these beginnings still resonate in the spiritual life of people today”. What this book really is, is a survey and analysis of the construction, in the Early Middle Ages, of an ancient history of Ireland and its people and the grafting of that history onto the Bible and an analysis of the historicity of famous dramatic stories such as the Táin Bó Cuailnge – the Cattle Raid of Cooley.
The Ulster Cycle stories are set in and around the reign of King Conchobar mac Nessa, who rules the Ulaid from Emain Macha (now Navan Fort near Armagh). The most prominent hero of the cycle is Conchobar’s nephew, Cú Chulainn. The Ulaid are most often in conflict with the Connachta, led by their queen, Medb, her husband, Ailill, and their ally Fergus mac Róich, a former king of the Ulaid in exile. The longest and most important story of the cycle is the Táin Bó Cúailnge or “Cattle Raid of Cooley”, in which Medb raises an enormous army to invade the Cooley peninsula and steal the Ulaid’s prize bull, Donn Cúailnge, opposed only by the seventeen-year-old Cú Chulainn. In the Mayo Táin, the Táin Bó Flidhais it is a white cow known as the ‘Maol’ that is the object of desire, for she can give enough milk at one milking to feed an army. Perhaps the best known story is the tragedy of Deirdre, source of plays by W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge. Other stories tell of the births, courtships and deaths of the characters and of the conflicts between them.
The stories are written in Old and Middle Irish, mostly in prose, interspersed with occasional verse passages. They are preserved in manuscripts of the 12th to 15th centuries but, in many cases, are much older. The language of the earliest stories is dateable to the 8th century, and events and characters are referred to in poems dating to the 7th.
The tone is terse, violent, sometimes comic, and mostly realistic, although supernatural elements intrude from time to time. Cú Chulainn in particular has superhuman fighting skills, the result of his semi-divine ancestry, and when particularly aroused his battle frenzy or ríastrad transforms him into an unrecognisable monster who knows neither friend nor foe. Evident deities like Lugh, the Morrígan, Aengus and Midir also make occasional appearances.
Unlike the majority of early Irish historical tradition, which presents ancient Ireland as largely united under a succession of High Kings, the stories of the Ulster Cycle depict a country with no effective central authority, divided into local and provincial kingdoms often at war with each other. The civilisation depicted is a pagan, pastoral one ruled by a warrior aristocracy. Bonds between aristocratic families are cemented by fosterage of each other’s children. Wealth is reckoned in cattle. Warfare mainly takes the form of cattle raids, or single combats between champions at fords. The characters’ actions are sometimes restricted by religious taboos known as geasa.
A geas can be compared with a curse or, paradoxically, a gift. If someone under a geas violates the associated taboo, the infractor will suffer dishonor or even death. On the other hand, the observing of one’s geas is believed to bring power. Often it is women who place geasa upon men. In some cases the woman turns out to be a goddess or other sovereignty figure.
The geas is often a key device in hero tales, such as that of Cúchulainn in Irish mythology. Traditionally, the doom of heroes comes about due to their violation of their geas, either by accident, or by having multiple geasa and then being placed in a position where they have no option but to violate one geas in order to maintain another. For instance, Cúchulainn has a geas to never eat dog meat, and he is also bound by a geas to eat any food offered to him by a woman. When a hag offers him dog meat, he has no way to emerge from the situation unscathed; this leads to his death.
A beneficial geas might involve a prophecy that a person would die in a particular way; the particulars of their death in the vision might be so bizarre that the person could then avoid their fate for many years.
For example, the Welsh hero Lleu Llaw Gyffes (in one version of his story) was destined to die neither “during the day or night, nor indoors or outdoors, neither riding nor walking, not clothed and not naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made.” He was safe until his wife, Blodeuwedd, learning of these foretold conditions, convinced him to show her how he could theoretically be stepping out of a river onto a riverbank sheltered by a roof and put one foot on a goat, and so on, thus enabling the conditions that allowed him to be killed.
When the Irish poet read the poem, the poem became his. It is his voice that reads the poem to me now. I have gone on to read it aloud to others, so vital does it seem to me, so honest. It’s possible these others may be reading the poem from time to time and hearing my voice or the voices of any and all the people they’ve heard read it. “Donal Og” is a fairly famous poem. It’s been translated numerous times (my favourite version is Lady Gregory’s, the translation I first fell in love with) and, as one of the great Irish ballads, it’s been sung and recorded over a good few generations. The poem in its original Irish has been dated to the 8th Century. We know “Donal Og” means “Young Donald”; we assume the speaker is a she. But Anon? Anon is a fabulous mystery. Anon is the poet who let loose the poem. Thinking about Anon this past month I’ve imagined what it would be like to publish a whole book as Anon, what things it might free me up to say, how unaccountable I’d be to anyone or anything. Sitting down with yourself and working as a poet is a privilege, but imagine, just imagine, saying something so well, so powerfully, that as a thing-in-itself the poem might go on speaking crucially: outlasting its need for a name and that name’s claim on an interval in history.
It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.
You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.
You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.
You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.
When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.
It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.
My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.
My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith’s forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.
You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!
(Trans. Lady Gregory)
This version of an anonymous 8th century Irish poem was translated by Lady Augusta Gregory. For me it’s the poetry equivalent of an earworm, a catchy song you can’t stop humming along with.
The unusual syntax lends it a striking rhythm and the repetition – you promised me; you promised me – makes it easy to memorise, hard to forget. The pleasure is in the shape and the sound, as much as the old, sad story (the lament of the young woman betrayed, those impossible broken promises familiar from so many ballads and folk songs) – or the wonderful imagery: gloves of the skin of a fish; shoes of the skin of a bird. This is a mysterious, magical poem that begs to be read aloud.
The evolving relationship between humans and dogs has attracted significant research interest. This is partially because dogs were the earliest domesticated animal, but many people today have a close connection to this species fuelling interest into the origin of our familiar companion. The bond between humans and dogs developed to the extent that both species benefited in some manner and, for many millennia, dogs have been important in the lives of humans. The extent to which people found dogs a source of protection and comfort, as well as hunting tools are important questions as to how the early alliance flourished (Perri, 2016, Lupo, 2017, Guagnin et al., 2018).
In this paper, we present evidence from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) settlement of Shubayqa 6 in northeast Jordan where the close relationship between humans and dogs is evident. This reciprocal tie involved dogs extensively scavenging through waste discarded at the settlement and, in return, they may have provided humans with the means to hunt more effectively, as well as offering security and early warning of danger. Based on the longer-term patterns of faunal exploitation in the region, the cooperation between humans and dogs may have started earlier in the final stages of the Natufian at a time when widening of the resource base has been repeatedly linked to climate change and population expansion depleting environmental reserves (Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, 2002, Stutz et al., 2009). The importance of the Younger Dryas (∼12,900–11,600 cal BP) as an influence on subsistence strategies has been questioned in recent years (Maher et al., 2011a, Caracuta et al., 2016) and the use of new hunting techniques offers a different factor that should be considered in the interpretation of these developments. It is impossible to assess the level of companionship dogs afforded people from the archaeological record, but this should also be born in mind (Manwell and Baker, 1984). Although cultural attitudes to dogs vary significantly, dogs may well have been more than just hunting tools. However, a main reason for humans to tolerate dogs living amongst them in large numbers would probably have been to utilise their hunting abilities. The question, therefore, is how did the use of dogs influence hunting and the prey targeted as people learnt to hunt more effectively with their new companions?
Gregory Shushan has previously studied near-death experiences [NDE] in early Christianity, the Vedas, and as a methodological issue in the comparative study of religions. In this book, Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions, Shushan provides exhaustive research on textual accounts of Indigenous traditions in North America, Africa, and Oceania. Shushan characterizes Indigenous societies using terms of difference appropriate to the dynamism and variety of traditions covered by this global category–they did not produce written religious texts, they have diverse beliefs particular to their locations, with internal variations consistent with oral cultures and dynamic developments over time. Given that he is providing a compilation of written sources, Shushan acknowledges this as a study of crisis situations. These accounts are found in the records of missionaries and anthropologists from the 17th to the 20th century. “In general, the societies were first studied during periods of religious, cultural, social, and/or physical crises due to multipronged colonialist assaults on their land, resources, bodies and souls—which partly entailed the destruction or transformation of traditional beliefs and practices” (12). His methodological emphasis, therefore, is to provide accounts that are culturally contextualized to accurately represent the Indigenous hermeneutics of religious experience particular to the respective regions. Shushan identifies NDE as “exceptional experience” that he is not reductively explaining away in terms of cognitive science, for example, but rather through interdisciplinary research questions that build a more accurate description of the power of these experiences in the organization of communities, toward the fundamental question “what happens to us when we die?”
Rannoch Moor is a wide, elevated bowl that sits in the Central Highlands of Scotland. Rimmed by mountains, it’s a chalice that held some of the last ice of the last ice age. Ten thousand years later it’s still rising, a few millimetres a year: a long, slow decompression after the burden of a mile’s depth of ice. No roads cross the moor, but there is a railway line and the Glasgow to Fort William train trundles over it four times a day.
When the ice melted, the trees returned. The Black Wood of Rannoch survives as a fragment of the forest that once covered the moor. It would have been home to various flora and fauna including bear, elk, lynx, aurochs, red deer, wolf, and human. In the space of a few centuries, we chopped down the forest for timber and cleared the land of most of its wild animals. Legend has it that in the late 16th century, Domhnal mac Fhionnlaigh, a renowned local hunter and bard, killed all the remaining wolves of Rannoch. I prefer Jim Crumley’s version, which can be read in his book The Last Wolf (2010), where, rather than being killed by man, the last wolf takes herself off to a remote, wild place on the moor and dies of old age. Either way, by the 18th century, wolves were extinct throughout Scotland.
Some kind people have organised this GoFundMe appeal and made some contributions, so if any readers feel inclined to help me with this Terrain Hopper project and thus earn my gratitude, here’s the link, please pass it around like a hat, across the wild turbulent invisible expanses of vastness out there, called the internet. This is not something I’ve ever done before, so it’s an interesting new exploration…
I had an idea. I think it is fresh, but probably others have had the same thought before me. It has to do with time, and whatever constitutes who, or what, I am, and you are.
If, say, you begin at a particular time, say, 9pm, and spend an hour in some activity, until 10pm, are you the same person as the person you’d be if you’d spent that hour following a different activity ?
Seems a simple question that some annoying child might ask. But let’s take a look.
There’s an almost infinite number of possible actions that ‘you’ might have done during the course of that hour, and some of them would have, potentially, dramatic effects upon your subsequent existence.
You could be quite passive and doze in a chair by the fire, or you could go and rob someone at gunpoint, or you could seduce you best friend’s wife, or dance or play piano or cards or, if you’re Jordan Peterson, tidy your room….
Pretty much anything that any human being has ever done is available as an option….
And that’s kind of weird. Does anybody see it that way ? Probably, most just follow a habit or perform a necessary task, unaware that they could choose from other possibilities. Compelled, like a train following a track.
But this is karma, or one meaning of that term. Because if you do one thing, A, then the result is going to be B. And if you do a different thing, C, then the result is going to be D. If you wash the dishes then you’ll have clean plates and pans, but if you don’t, well, they stay dirty, but you did something else, for whatever reason and motive.
And the result is that you yourself will be, or be on the way to becoming, a slightly different character. The increments accumulate. If you go to the fridge for comfort food, you put on weight. If you do press-ups, you get stronger muscles. You can look at porn or read Voltaire, get drunk or struggle to master a musical instrument. Whatever it is, you can choose to make something of yourself, for better or worse
If you wish to advance your social standing, then you need to train yourself and develop skills and learn new and difficult stuff. There’s a hell of a lot of people out there, all competing for advancement and opportunity. A person who disciplines themselves to learn something will gain an advantage over those who don’t or can’t.
That’s fairly trivial and obvious. Obviously, it makes it much easier if you follow a path that gives you pleasure, satisfaction, a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
This is where zen meditation comes is. No sense of achievement or attainment. Just sitting absolutely still doing nothing. Well, not absolutely nothing, because your heart still beats and you breath. It’s not quite the same as being asleep. Or dead. But it gives a sort of gauge of reference for all other possible activities and ways of being.
Of course, it’s not that simple, zen meditation is not just ‘one thing’, there many different things that can be practiced.
For example, you might sit in lotus posture for an hour without any thoughts, just focussed on your breaths, completely single-minded, without letting your attention waver.
You, the reader, might consider such a practice to be absurd, a pointless waste of time. But unless you’ve actually tried it, unless you can actually DO it, you have no real insight or understanding as to what is involved. A person who can do this is not the same as a person who cannot do it, or someone who has never even tried.
When you CAN do it, then you can choose whether to arrange flowers in exquisite harmony, or whether to be a master of violent combat, like Musashi, or whether to assist the suffering of unfortunate people or animals, or whatever else your own personal calling might be.
An interesting topic to explore would be how this stuff relates to the Judaeo-Christian tradition as illuminated by Jordan Peterson in his Biblical series and also Jay Dyer’s work, because, as far as I’m aware neither have much knowledge of Buddhism or Taoism. Maybe I’ll get around to that if a future essay.
Cinderella, for example, revolves around the perniciousness of what researchers call “female intrasexual competition”—the often-underhanded ways women compete with each other. While men evolved to be openly competitive, jockeying for position verbally or physically, female competition tends to be covert—indirect and sneaky—and often involves sabotaging another woman into being less appealing to men. Accordingly, in Cinderella, when the king throws a ball to find the prince a wife, the nasty stepsisters aren’t at all “let the best woman win!” They assign Cinderella extra chores so she won’t have time to pull together something to wear. (Mean Girls, the cartoon version, anyone?)
Psychologist Joyce Benenson, who researches sex differences, traces women’s evolved tendency to opt for indirectness—in both competition and communication—to a need to avoid physical altercation, either with men or other women. This strategy would have allowed ancestral women to protect their more fragile female reproductive machinery and to fulfill their roles as the primary caretaker for any children they might have.
Sure, today, a woman can protect herself against even the biggest, scariest intruder with a gun or a taser—but that’s not what our genes are telling us. We’re living in modern times with an antique psychological operating system—adapted for the mating and survival problems of ancestral humans. It’s often at a mismatch with our current environment.
The word animism is derived from anima in Latin, which literally means ‘breath’, with an extended meaning of ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’. Animism recognises the potential of all objects – animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather-related phenomena, deceased human beings, even words – to be animated and alive, possessing distinctive spirits. As such, animism is considered to contain the oldest spiritual and supernatural perspectives in the world, dating back to the Palaeolithic Age when humans were still hunter-gatherers.
Viewed from the standpoint of today’s organised religions, animistic religions can seem ‘primitive’ and are often dismissed as containing nothing more than superstitious beliefs and practices. This belittling if not antagonistic attitude toward animism has been particularly strong among the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For example, in the United States it was not until the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed in 1978 that indigenous peoples gained the legal right to practise their traditional animistic faiths.
Given this, as one of the world’s last still-flourishing animistic faiths, Shinto can provide a gateway to better understanding the origins of certain universal paradigms found in today’s organised religions.
…It is a dreamland painted in the imagination’s most delicate tints; it is colour etherealised. One shade melts into the other, so that you cannot tell where one shade ends and the other begins, and yet they are all there. No forms – it is all faint, dreamy colour music, a faraway, long-drawn-out melody on muted strings.
Throughout the nineteenth century, ghosts and shadowy interlocutors featured in the narratives of British explorers in the Arctic and their audiences back home. Taking the history of Sir John Franklin’s last Arctic expedition from the 1840s as my central focus, in this book I examine how spectral experiences such as dreaming, clairvoyante travel, reverie, spiritualism and ghost-seeing informed ideas of the Arctic and the searches for a Northwest Passage through the Arctic. The role of spectral experiences in this geographical quest has not been adequately addressed before and I argue that integrating them into the cultural history of exploration revises traditional accounts of polar discovery that focus mainly on ‘men and maps’. This book, then, is about the cultural production of the spectral in Arctic narratives and what this can tell us about Victorian exploration and its legacies.
For those who assert there is such a thing as genuine poltergeist activity (as opposed to the skeptics who attribute it all to natural phenomena, over-imagination or hoaxes) the question becomes: “What is a poltergeist, anyway?” Believers fall into, roughly speaking, two different camps: some posit that polts are independent spirit beings–ghosts with a taste for nasty practical jokes. Others are of the opinion that what we are dealing with are manifestations unwittingly created by the troubled emotions of some member of the affected household–usually a child or teenager.
That debate will likely never be solved on this side of the grave. However, famed ghost researcher Harry Price recorded one English “poltergeist” case which strongly suggests that these “spirits” or “demons” are evidence of the awesome and little-understood power of our subconscious minds.
The story centers around the family of a Sutherland doctor named Wilkins. In 1940, Wilkins’ 19-year-old daughter Olive became engaged to a young flight lieutenant in the RAF. Her parents were not in favor of the match. Although they had nothing against her beau, Dr. and Mrs. Wilkins felt Olive was too young for marriage. Even more seriously, the current war meant that odds were good their daughter might soon go from bride to widow. In the end, however, the course of true love ran smoothly and the young couple married in the fall of 1941.
A more detailed explanation surrounding this ancient description of a square-shaped Earth is provided in “ The Map that Talked ”; which looks at the creation of an intriguing Stone Age map, which uses the stars to create a relatively accurate map of Earth.
This archaic map can also explain the various aquatic descriptions that the Greeks gave to the constellations; where it is found that, when an expanded map of the stars is wrapped three times around Earth the Greek water constellations intriguingly mark the oceans and the constellations that describe heroes that did not drown mark the continents. The same book also describes the initial discovery of the original Babel Text.
Gol-e-Zard Cave lies in the shadow of Mount Damavand, which at more than 5,000 metres dominates the landscape of northern Iran. In this cave, stalagmites and stalactites are growing slowly over millennia and preserve in them clues about past climate events. Changes in stalagmite chemistry from this cave have now linked the collapse of the Akkadian Empire to climate changes more than 4,000 years ago.
Akkadia was the world’s first empire. It was established in Mesopotamia around 4,300 years ago after its ruler, Sargon of Akkad, united a series of independent city states. Akkadian influence spanned along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers from what is now southern Iraq, through to Syria and Turkey. The north-south extent of the empire meant that it covered regions with different climates, ranging from fertile lands in the north which were highly dependent on rainfall (one of Asia’s “bread baskets”), to the irrigation-fed alluvial plains to the south.
It appears that the empire became increasingly dependent on the productivity of the northern lands and used the grains sourced from this region to feed the army and redistribute the food supplies to key supporters. Then, about a century after its formation, the Akkadian Empire suddenly collapsed, followed by mass migration and conflicts. The anguish of the era is perfectly captured in the ancient Curse of Akkad text, which describes a period of turmoil with water and food shortages:
… the large arable tracts yielded no grain, the inundated fields yielded no fish, the irrigated orchards yielded no syrup or wine, the thick clouds did not rain.
The problem of time is one of the greatest puzzles of modern physics. The first bit of the conundrum is cosmological. To understand time, scientists talk about finding a ‘First Cause’ or ‘initial condition’ – a description of the Universe at the very beginning (or at ‘time equals zero’). But to determine a system’s initial condition, we need to know the total system. We need to make measurements of the positions and velocities of its constituent parts, such as particles, atoms, fields and so forth. This problem hits a hard wall when we deal with the origin of the Universe itself, because we have no view from the outside. We can’t step outside the box in order to look within, because the box is all there is. A First Cause is not only unknowable, but also scientifically unintelligible.
The second part of the challenge is philosophical. Scientists have taken physical time to be the only real time – whereas experiential time, the subjective sense of time’s passing, is considered a cognitive fabrication of secondary importance. The young Albert Einstein made this position clear in his debate with philosopher Henri Bergson in the 1920s, when he claimed that the physicist’s time is the only time. With age, Einstein became more circumspect. Up to the time of his death, he remained deeply troubled about how to find a place for the human experience of time in the scientific worldview.
These quandaries rest on the presumption that physical time, with an absolute starting point, is the only real kind of time. But what if the question of the beginning of time is ill-posed? Many of us like to think that science can give us a complete, objective description of cosmic history, distinct from us and our perception of it. But this image of science is deeply flawed. In our urge for knowledge and control, we’ve created a vision of science as a series of discoveries about how reality is in itself, a God’s-eye view of nature.
Such an approach not only distorts the truth, but creates a false sense of distance between ourselves and the world. That divide arises from what we call the Blind Spot, which science itself cannot see. In the Blind Spot sits experience: the sheer presence and immediacy of lived perception.
But if you take Bentham’s formula to its logical conclusion—perfect pleasure, no pain—you end up with the rats in the cage. This rapturous state of existence is known as ‘wireheading’, and it’s a recurring theme in dystopian fiction: should anything unpleasant happen to the inhabitants of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, there’s always soma, delicious soma! “half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a weekend, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon…”
Huxley gave us the weak version of wireheading; his soma-addicts still have some semblance of a life. In the strong version, the pleasure floods the brain to the exclusion of any other activity—the equivalent of a never-ending heroin rush, or an endless orgasm. What if you were offered a pill that removed all pain, and made you experience the purest joy for the rest of your life? Unlike the starving rats, all your mundane physical needs would be taken care of. There’s no catch.
A couple of very kind people have set up a GoFundMe to try and assist my efforts to get
a Terrain Hopper to help me get around, seeing as I now have one semi-useless right leg.
Unfortunately I’m not able to place the ******* link here… ********* !
But I am working on it….
This gallery contains 1 photo.
If you try to play in this style, you’ll need patience and a willingness to experiment, sometimes with little hope of achieving much in the short run. There are no easy shortcuts. Existing banjo arrangements almost never translate … Continue reading
Janas, Faeries, Foel Drygarn, Denisovans, Self-domestication, Psilocybin, Wim Hof, Hyperthymesia, The Tjapwurung
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Janas are imaginary creatures of the Sardinian popular tradition, tiny women with a volatile temperament, a bit witches and a bit fairies, both kind and naughty” . http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=50652 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What are the faeries? Where … Continue reading
This gallery contains 1 photo.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It is hard to claim that the design is beautiful, dazzling or engrossing. But the artwork is destined to be priceless and famous, because it seems to be the earliest evidence for a drawing in the … Continue reading
This gallery contains 7 photos.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Paganism and witchcraft, like most subcultures, tends to go through trends – periods where different things become popular for a period of time. I’ve seen this repeatedly over the years, rather like the tide, things become a prime … Continue reading
This gallery contains 16 photos.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The megalithic remains of Anglesey by Baynes, Edward Neil https://archive.org/details/cu31924029933011 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It is a cause of genuine regret to me that I did not commence my inquiries earlier, when I had more opportunities of pursuing them, especially when … Continue reading