Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Pictish KingList 700 Years before the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath

2014 History Corner

Just a little history to while away New Year hours, before the daily round catches us unawares… It seems increasing one’s awareness of our more ancient roots has the added pleasure of making us more compassionate towards other struggles of NOW. Plus, Pictish history is my favorite indulgence, because the Scots tried to sweep it under the carpet, and the English taught only their own version in all schools.

So, for dipping in, or future delectation: here are the REAL heroes of pre-Celtic Scotland: Alba—Dubh: Home of the White Race with the Black Hair

Reblogged from Devorguilablog: View from the Pictish Citadel

PICTISH KINGLISTS:

Colbertine version of the Pictish Chronicle: King List MS-A from Paris, Bibl. Nat. MS Latin 4126

Pictish kinglists are exceedingly difficult to cross-reference and confirm, particularly as, once the Scots were in power in Forteviot (from c. AD843), annals were consistently adjusted–corrected, scored through and re-written–to reflect homage to the Scots and to glorify Dalriatan Scots lineage, to the detriment of the Pictish line.

Even as late as the Letter by the Barons of Scotland to Pope John XXII (otherwise known as the ‘Declaration of Arbroath‘) in 1320, it was felt necessary to explain to the holy father how ancient was their ancestry and how famous was the nation of Scots–‘having expelled the Britons and entirely rooted out the Picts’.

Recent scholarship by remarkable historians, however– Marjorie O Anderson, David N Dumville and others–have added light to the darkness and within a relative framework of intermarriage between the reigning houses of neighbouring states at the time, a tentative list emerges.

A longer page with more detailed background can be found at Devorguila-page here.

As research and new knowledge produce results, these lists will be updated and revised. They are offered in the spirit of true academic thirst for knowledge and we hope that they will be received in the same light.

KINGS OF PICTS
While it is known that the journeys of Columba brought him to the fortress of Bridei son of Maelchon, king of the Picts, ‘near Inverness’, the extent of his dominion is not known. It may be that he ruled over the ‘Northern Picts’–as several annals from that time refer to the kingdom of the Picts as being divided by the range of the Mounth into northern and southern kingdoms.

On several occasions kings are referred to as ruling on ‘this’ side of the Mounth or on the ‘other’ side of the Mounth. Depending on where the Chronicle is being written at the time (either northern monastery at Fyvie or Kineddar or Deer– or southern monastery associated with Forteviot, Iona or St Andrews: Because no ‘original’ Chronicle of the Picts now survives–only 12thC copies–it is difficult to know which location is implied.

Forteviot cross commemorating Pictish monarch Custatin filius Forcus: his Latin name gives Pictish authenticity

Bridei is known to have died c. AD585.

617-633 Edwin King of Northumbria [Oswald, Eanfrith, Oswiu exiled in Pictland]
634-641 Oswald returned from exile, reigned as King of Northumbria
641-670 Oswiu reigned in Bernicia and from 655 over Northumbria
653-657 Talorgan son of Eanfrith (Northumbria) king of Picts
670-685 Ecgfrith king of Northumbria [672 Picts deposed Drust from kingship]
[672 Pictish army slaughtered by Ecgfrith]
672-693 Bridei son of Bili king of Picts [Adomnan became 9th abbot of Iona in 679]
681 Siege of Dunnottar (Kincardine)
682 Bridei laid waste the Orkneys
683 Siege of Dunadd and Dundurn (Perthshire)
685 Battle of Dunnichen Moss, called ‘Nechtansmere'; Bridei/Pictish army killed Ecgfrith, king of Northumbria
[Adomnan wrote his Law of Innocents and made visits to Pictish king in 697, d.704]
697 Tarachin (sic), Talorcan, king of Picts expelled from his kingdom
706-724 Nechtan son of Derile king of Picts (N and S)
711 Picts slaughtered by Northumbrians on ‘plain of Manaw’ (Clackmannan).
711 Nechtan requests Northumbrian architectural expertise in building a church ‘in the manner of Rome’, dedicated to Saint Peter–probable first church at Restenneth
717 Nechtan requests Columban ‘familia‘ return to Iona, leaving Pictish kingship in control of the Pictish Church
724 – 734 Nechtan retired to monastic life at Derile (Darley, Fyvie, Aberdeenshire); Drust ruled as successor
727 Oengus defeated Drust in three battles
728 Oengus defeated Alpin; Nechtan came out of retirement, defeated Alpin
729 Oengus defeated Nechtan who again retired, d. 734
729-761 Oengus I, son of Fergus, king of Picts
[735 death of historian Bede]
Oengus as overlord in Dál Riata, d.761
739 Oengus had Talorgan son of Drust drowned
750-752 Teudubr (?) son of Bili, king of Strathclyde, overlord of Picts
752 Battle of Asreth in Circenn (Mearns) between Picts; Bridei son of Maelchon died.
782 Dubh Talorc, king of the Picts on ‘this side of the Mounth’ died
789 Battle among Picts where Conall, son of Tadc escaped; Constantine victorious
802-806 Devastation of Iona by Vikings
811-820 Constantine, son of Fergus, king of Picts and of Dál Riata; founded Dunkeld–he is Pictish king commemorated on Dupplin Cross:Custatin filius Forcus
820-834 Oengus II, son of Fergus, king of Picts and of Dál Riata; founded Saint Andrews, buried in sarcophagus there
839 major victory by Vikings over Picts; death of Eoganan (Euan) son of Oengus–opportunity used by macAlpin for his takeover
c.840 Kenneth macAlpin king of Dál Riata
c.847 Kenneth macAlpin king of Scots and Picts – called himself King of Alba

KINGS OF SCOTS
858-862 Domnall (Donald I) king of Alba, brother of Kenneth
interregnum 862-880Constantin, son of Kenneth, king of Alba
ditto Aedth, brother of Constantin, king of Alba
880-889 Giric/Grig, brother of Donald mac Dunstan, king of Picts & Alba d. 889
because of his Pictish lineage, Giric/Grig ruled from Northern Pictland (St Cyrus in Mearns named after him)
He is founder of the Harbour of Aberdeen
900-943 Constantine II, son of Aedth, king of Scots
[937 after treaties negotiated with Northumbria, Constantine defeated at Brunanburh by Athelstan]
939 death of Athelstan
943-952 Constantine II retired to seclusion of St Andrews
943-954 Malcolm I, son of Donald mac Dunstan, king of Scots
954-962 Indulf son of Constantine II, king of Scots
[962-967 Culen macIndulf and Constantin macCulen interregnum with Dubh son of Malcolm and his
brother Kenneth II son of Malcolm 971-995]
967 Culen died at Cullen, Banffshire
966-1005 descendants of Constantine I excluded descendants of Aedth (son of macAlpin) from
kingship
Historical Kings of Scots
997-1005 Kenneth III, son of Dubh and his son Girc joint rule
1005-1034 Malcolm II king of Scots
1034-1040 Duncan I, grandson of Malcolm II through eldest daughter Bethoc. It was through his grandfather Malcolm II’s line via Malcolm’s second daughter Doada that Macbeth claimed kingship in 1040
1040-1057 Macbeth, grandson of Malcolm II, king of Scots
1057-58 (6 months) Lulach, son of Gruoch, lady Macbeth, by Gillecomgan, king (died at Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire)
1058-1093 Malcolm III Canmore, son of Duncan I, king of Scots

Further reading:
The Pictish Symbol Stones of Scotland (RCAHMS) ed. Iain Fraser 2008
Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD80-1000 by Alfred P. Smyth 1989
The Sculptured Stones of Scotland (2 vols) John Stuart, 1856
The early Christian monuments of Scotland: a classified illustrated descriptive list of the monuments with an analysis of their symbolism and ornamentation. JR Allen and J Anderson, 1903

©1998-2012 Friends of Grampian Stones, Editor: Marian Youngblood
Reblogged from Devorguilablog: View from the Pictish Citadel
©2013-2014 Youngbloodblog

January 5, 2014 Posted by | history, Prehistory, sacred sites | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

500 Days till 12:XII:TWELVE: Crop Circle prophecies

500 Days until 12:XII:TWELVE

'Angel' crop circle Barbury Castle, July 2, 2011: dimensional wormhole or Mayan 13-moon calendar? Images courtesy CircleChasers & Nardeep Pujji

Humanity loves prophecies: our histories are full of them.

According to several ancient cultures, we are entering a new phase in human development, human consciousness, earth-consciousness, union with the Divine.

Astrology was to the ancestral mind a gift from the future, the heavenly bodies’ allowing the human race a glimpse of time’s far shore, a beacon through uncharted waters –literally steering the human vessel by the stars. And –however skeptical you may be– all ancient cultures had their oracle, allowed themselves to be guided by astrological readings based on ever-changing celestial movement and planetary alignments and collisions.

Many have become dissociated from the daily rhythms of the Earth, forget to look nightly at the stars and their feelings seem divorced from reality –whatever that is. The thought of one’s emotions actively being influenced by the electromagnetic and orbital changes of planets in the solar system — let alone the distant stars — is often ridiculed as being naïve, even ignorant.

Solstitial full moonrise, stone circle Northeast Scotland Midwinter 2004, photo Marian Youngblood

But our ancestors were not ignorant. Unlike us, they were daily in touch with the earth, aware of her ‘forcefield’ — for want of a better word– her seismic and electromagnetic fluctuations which altered weather patterns, brought bounty and drought, changed seasons. They were so aware of such regular rhythmical cycles that they devised stone circles to measure and signal points in that cosmic compass, hours/days in that solar and lunar calendar. From modern scientific data collected at some stone circles, it is thought likely that our ancestors knew where and when risings of the sun and moon affected rings of stone to produce increased ‘flow’ — a power not unlike electricity as we know it.

The calendar of the ancient Maya has become significant in recent times as a wayshower to help us navigate through the choppy waters of group consciousness. In Mayan calculation, their ancient Long Count calendar — a measure of Man’s rising to meet the gods — is beginning to wind down. We are approaching the End Times, the Moment of Cosmic All-change, the point on the ecliptic where the Sun (and the Earth in orbit around it) comes into conjunction with the center of our Galaxy at 11:11 on December solstice 2012.

There are 500 days from Lammas this year to the 10-day prelude to solstitial union with galactic center: on 12:12:12 we shall either have completed planetary ascension or we will know our work has been in vain. I prefer to think we shall complete the program — that we as a species are destined to rise to the challenge facing us.

New Age philosophy and astrology support a path to ascension required of its vision-keepers, lightworkers (through meditation and right living) as a process of uniting these two conflicting polarities, emphasizing the need to bring harmony to the male-female yin-yang, left and right brain hemispheres which must operate before the Earth may return to a balanced state of wholeness and oneness.

Life spiral: 2011 crop circle at Avebury Trusloe July 13th (left) & neolithic carved rock, Argyll c. 3000BC

Crop circles this month have featured both the yin-yang (Louth, July 20), several spirals (July 13 Avebury) and an elaborate serpent motif (Inkpen, July 29), the symbol of all life, as well as orbiting bodies reminiscent of the inner solar system. See Siderealview blog for more detail.

The serpent, symbolic of Life, seen in the snaking of equinox sunset light down the pyramid of Chichen Itza, is common to many archaic worlds: medical science’s caduceus, Hermes the messenger to the gods, and the Garden of Eden would not be the same without him.

According to the ancient Maya, he rises through the world Ages, culminating with the flowering of human consciousness — NOW. To the Maya in their Long Count calendar, the Cosmos consists of Nine Underworlds or levels of development that complete in 2012. So important to their cosmological measurements were the numbers Nine (levels), Twenty (days, katun) and Thirteen (moons) that these powerful digits were expressed in their most significant monument construction. Mayan pyramids all have nine tiers or platforms.

The twenty-year (katun)cycle is intrinsic in all their calculation.

The longest tun-based time cycle was called the hablatun, each totalling 460,800.000,000 days = 1.26 billion years. Thirteen hablatuns made up the first Underworld (the initial creation cycle, beginning 3114BC) giving a total duration of 13 x 1.26 MM days or 16.4 billion years. This time period of 16.4 billion years is very close to current scientific estimates for the formation of matter from light at the birth of creation, or the ‘Big Bang’.

Each of the nine levels represented a different Underworld — expressed horizontally in the pyramids’ construction. Just as the levels of the pyramids are seen to become progressively smaller as they tier towards the top, so too the amount of time in each Underworld becomes shorter in duration as they progress hierarchically through the calculation.

It is interesting in a lunar calendrical context that this weekend –July 31-August 1– marks the Leo New Moon: a powerful coming-together of celestial forces following on from the Mayan Day-out-of-time, Monday 25 July 2011. And on August 1st we, the human race, walk through the dimensional wormhole and enter the Fifth Day of the Ninth and final Underworld of the Mayan Longcount.

This coincides with Lammas, Celtic quarter day, fire festival of the ancient Britons which was celebrated at the height of Nature’s season of bounty, the middle of the fruiting year when Earth empties her cornucopia into the laps of an unsuspecting world. As the midpoint (in all calendars ancient and modern) between summer solstice, June 21st, and autumn equinox, Septmember 23rd, LammasLughnasad, the festival of light god, Lugh, revered in indigenous harvesting communities in the Old World– marks the point in the celestial sphere where the Sun culminates, arriving at 15 Leo on August 7th, a week from now.

Ancient Brittonic communities marked Lammas as the most joyous of all fire festivals, often feasting and dancing, sharing and giving for three weeks before LAMMAS and three weeks after. During the Neolithic, stone circles were used for such fire festivals, the central floor marked by successive generations of fire-burning, heavily pounding feet which revellers flattened like a remarkably sophisticated dance arena.


Video of West Woodhay Down, Inkpen crop circle July 29th 2011,
thanks to Shumnyabai (Joan Wheaton): Divine Serpent with Neptunian forked tongue and rattler tail reflecting Maya god Kukulkan (Quetzalcoatl), the divine feathered serpent who gives life.

Miniature tufted crop circle appeared in pristine East Field, Alton Barnes on the morning of July 26, 2011, after a night of torrential rain, photo courtesy Bert Janssen

Now, in the 21stC, we are greeted with the mystical equivalent for our time — crop circles, created electromagnetically — and capable, through the miracle of late age images and electronic media, of stimulating our primeval alert system, piqueing our human pineal gland into producing natural mellowing melatonin and driving our dormant DNA into revving up to a higher gear. We are entering the brief Mayan Fifth Day — a portal of opportunity which completes on August 17th.

We should use it.

HUMANITY HEALING alert
Humanity Healing Community acts as one of the new world’s wayshowers in suggesting that the arrival of the Lammas/New Moon/Fifth Day is even more potent because as a point in consciousness — it encourages us to choose actively how we want our new world to be.

Roundway(2) pine cone crop circle, July 25, 2011. The human pineal gland is massively affected by sunlight, goes into catatonia if deprived of light


‘What do you Want?
The Universe is asking and waiting for your answer.
The cosmic force of Creation needs you to focus the lens, to get clear on your vision, your dreams, your intent. You can take a giant step forward with whatever you want this weekend when three energetic gateways converge.
There is both an opportunity and a responsibility in this.’
Humanity Healing: A call to focus

Thoughts, intent, actions, emotions are intensified — go quantum — at a time like this. The energetic portal is more than an opportunity given us by our overlighting Presence — Humanity’s Oversoul — it is an instruction. We can each make a difference, add a contribution to the fate of the human race.

This may sound rather dramatic. Actually, it is. This is a time, unprecedented in human history. On the esoteric level, we are told we asked to come and to be here –incarnate– at this time. On the psychic level, we are sensing a coming-together of many traditions, a meeting of minds from many populations and backgrounds. Many spiritual leaders of the world’s diverse faiths are encouraging us –willing us to take the plunge.

Planetary transformation. It’s what Carl Sagan would have called our stepping up to take on the mantle of a Level I civilization. He and Kardashev would have been proud.

Prophecies of indigenous people everywhere point to the times we are going through now as a period of intense purification, a transition from our current cycle to whatever comes next.

Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation; Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, Iroquois Confederacy


“So then, what is the message I bring to you today? Is it our common future? It seems to me that we are living in a time of prophecy, a time of definitions and decisions. We are the generation with the responsibilities and the option to choose the the path of life for the future of our children, or the life and path which defies the Laws of Regeneration. Even though you and I are in different boats –you in your boat and we in our canoe — we share the same River of Life: what befalls me, befalls you. And downstream, downstream in this River of Life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.

“500 years ago, you came to our pristine lands of great forests, rolling plains, crystal clear lakes and streams and rivers. And we have suffered in your quest for God, for Glory, for Gold. But, we have survived. Can we survive another 500 years of ‘sustainable development?’ I don’t think so. Not in the definitions they put ‘sustainable’ in today. I don’t think so. So, reality and the natural law will prevail: The Law of the Seed and Regeneration.

“We can still alter our course. It is NOT too late. We still have options. We need the courage to change our values to the regeneration of our families, the life that surrounds us. Given this opportunity, we can raise ourselves. We must join hands with the rest of Creation and speak of Common Sense, Responsibility, Brotherhood, and PEACE. We must understand that The Law *is* the Seed and only as True Partners can we survive.”
Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, and a Chief of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs

All the Prophets said this moment would come. The Hopi say we are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the Bird Tribes, circling and massing, congregating for our shared flight through cyberspace, to reach consciousness, nay, communion with that all-pervasive force of the Universe, call it what you will. We have five hundred days to go. So, are we ready?

Coincidental with the 500-day look ahead, Father Time is presenting us with a seven-day energy window in present time for us to focus our intent. From Ramadan/new moon through Mayan 5 I’x (Gregorian August 3rd,2011 –this week) until August 5th–still to come– we would do well to use this cosmic energetic helper: 5 I’X was to the Maya symbolic of the Force of the Universe and the day of commemoration of the World.

As a springboard from which we step off and project ourselves into the new, Culture has not prepared us for what comes next. No avid scanning of ancient texts, no guru, no world leader, no reincarnation of the Spirit of Delphi or channeled message from Arcturus can prepare us any better than we can ourselves for what may greet us on the other side of this Portal in contemporary Time.

The Human Race has reached the Finish Line. We have to step forward and claim our prize, some call it our birthright, gird our loins and step into the blue yonder.

The energy window is OPEN. Let’s fly together.

What a trip.

©2011 Marian Youngblood

July 31, 2011 Posted by | ancient rites, Ascension, astrology, calendar customs, consciousness, crop circles, culture, energy, environment, festivals, history, nature, New Age, New Earth, numerology, popular, pre-Christian, Prehistory, ritual, sacred geometry, sacred sites, seasonal, spiritual, stone circles | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2011 Crop Circle season: Royal Fever or Beltane Ghosts?

Bosschenhoofd, Netherlands, Easter Sunday 2011

The English crop circle season still shows no authentic signs! But there were two appearances over Easter: one in the Netherlands and one in Wales.

Last year, 2010, spring in Britain was ‘late’, as it followed the previous winter’s heavy freeze; so the first crop circle to emerge did not occur in the month of April, but on May 5th (Old Beltane), in alignment with an ancient sacred stronghold (and site of the first Salisbury cathedral) at Old Sarum. Its appearance was eagerly awaited by the crop circle community because the earliest farming crop to start into flower –oil seed rape, canola– was only just out of the ‘green’ stage. Previous years had brought early ripening and, by comparison, the 2010 season had a lot to make up for.

So, it seems, does the summer of 2011. A repeat winter freeze, (human) standstill and a gradual earth-warm-up and then, bam, an April ‘heatwave’. Easter Sunday, April 24th, was the warmest April day in Britain since 1949: the month of April the warmest since records began 100 years ago. Last week, the British geared up for the Royal Wedding and the weather was playing along nicely. So, it might seem, is the sense of humour of the crop circlemakers: Prince William (Wales and Windsor) married on Friday, while one week previously, on Good Friday, the first canola circle appeared in South Wales.

Canola is a plant of the brassica family which often signals the start of the crop circle season, because in Britain nothing else (barley, wheat, maize) is anywhere near its ripening stage at the end of April.

There have been exceptions. Unusually, in 2010 a Somerset bean crop was used on June 7th at Stony Littleton longbarrow near Bath to showcase the double spiral of a traditional clock mechanism, as if perhaps to highlight the concept –or urgency– of time.

Gwent Good Friday crop circle, Severn Bridge, Chepstow, photo courtesy Olivier Morel

Then, lo and behold, the first Dutch formation –on Easter Sunday morning– at Bosschenhoofd, 22 miles South of Rotterdam, appeared in grass.

April dates that heralded the start of a British season in three previous years had already passed–April 15, 19 and 17 for years 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. The weather in England has been heating up fast, however, so it was a relief when the first crop circle of this season appeared over the Easter weekend –not in Wiltshire amid the sacred landscape of ancient Saxon heritage– but in an even older landscape with genuine Brittonic origins: Gwent, where this most ancient race has left evidence of human settlement since Mesolithic times.

Coincidentally–the Circlemakers are great on synchronicity–the tight little formation appeared at Innage farm near Chepstow, a stone’s throw across the Severn Bridge from the Oldbury nuclear power plant which featured in a crop image last July and which (with less publicity) vented radioactive steam one month ago, frightening already anxious residents on both sides of the river. Public concern was quelled by nuclear authority spokesmen after locals were understandably alarmed at the announcement of new ‘works’ planned for the nuclear facility, despite the awful and uncontrollable meltdown continuing in Fukushima, Japan after last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

The new Welsh design, in a field of oil seed rape, lies only seven miles southwest of the spectre of last season’s remarkable formation –the July 18th ‘quake-vibration’ crop circle at Woolaston Grange, Gloucestershire. While lying on the same (Welsh) side of the Severn, the 2010 ‘ghost’ technically lies in England, but it also faces diagonally across the river to the nuclear plant. Between the two lies the ancient stronghold of Caes-Gwent, ‘castle of Gwent’, modern Chepstow.

Roman 'Venta', rebuilt in 1069, Castle Gwent-over-Wye is the oldest extant stone building in Britain

In an historical context, Chepstow’s Welsh name, Caes Gwent, castle of Venta, Roman ‘market place’, shows how ancient are its roots and how significant is its position on the confluence of the river Wye (over which the 11thC Castle of Gwent still towers) with the Severn –that great tidal estuary which eventually flows into the Bristol Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. This is the southern heartland of the ancient (pre-Celtic) Brythonic kingdom, where ancient Britons spoke a dialect understood by other Britons of Prydein –Roman Britannia. Their language was understood over the water-bridge in Brittany, throughout Cornwall, Isle of Man, Rheged (ancient Cumbria), Dumbarton and Strathclyde (Dun-Britton), Brigantia (Yorkshire and Northumberland) and northern Pictland (Prydein). Their ancient monuments, aligned with the movements of the heavens and dedicated to their ancestral dead, were generations older than Stonehenge. Avebury’s great circle is their nearest relative in design and in time.

Once again, bang on time, the crop circle phenomenon has drawn to our attention an ancient landscape–full of sacred detail and priceless earthbound wisdom– almost totally forgotten in the 21st century.

But the Circlemakers display yet more layers to enlighten us.

Four-petal lotus of the root/base chakra in the Gwent crop circle, 23rd April 2011

Another coincidence can be seen in the Chepstow design’s similarity to the four-petalled lotus of the Muladhara, the red-hued base chakra design which kicked off the 2011 January season in Sleman, Yogyakarta, Java. At that time, a statement from the Sultanate warned the Javanese–the world’s most populous Muslim country, already steeped in shared knowledge of kundalini and the significance of chakras in the energy body, borrowed from Hindu belief–that the appearance of the ‘base chakra’ presaged

“Nature’s selections (i.e. acts of God) in this country shortly”
HRH Prince Karyonagoro (Kandjeng Pangeran) January 2011.

In Vedic Kundalini the red base chakra is the lowest, most physically-driven, of the body’s energy centres. In recent years many crop circles and spiritual groups have been emphasizing the need for us, the human race, to rise above physicality and elevate ourselves at least through the second and third to the level of the (green) fourth heart-chakra, in order to prepare ourselves for our anticipated move –along with the planet Earth– into fifth-dimensional reality, nirvana, a permanent state of bliss or Ascension.

With the exception of the ‘message’ Crop designs at Crabwood Farm August 2002, Circlemakers do not usually leave us specific directions. They use hints, fractals, energy mosaics, pointers and clues to a mystery which we –in wracking our braincells and stirring up our DNA– seem to delight in trying to solve.

Gwent seems to be hinting…

It is interesting to note that the combination Muslim-Hindu population of Great Britain (England, Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland) has doubled in ten years, from 1.5million in 2001 to around 3 million in 2011; and outside of Leicester and Harrow, the predominant residential city-satellites for Hindu and Muslim peoples with Indian subcontinent roots (within commuting distance of London on M4 and M48) include Cardiff and Chepstow-on-Wye.

As the Circlemakers are known for their sense of humour, they might just be saying that we, the people of the British Isles, despite introduced Vedic wisdom and several seasons of implicit teachings and clues from crop circle mentors, are–in consciousness–still psychically hanging out around our own base chakra, i.e. our heads are still up our kundalini tail.

Judging by recent seasons, May 1st (Beltane) appears to be the seasonal cut-off date. Beltane means earth festival bigtime for the Circlemakers. Buddhist Wesak celebrates the Buddha’s birth on the first full moon of the Taurus cycle (this year May 17th). But May also means the Baal fire ritual of the Ancients. Once again we are being reminded (implicitly) how our ancient Brittonic ancestors valued –nay, worshipped– the sacred return of Light in the full blossoming of May Day, Beltane, with the Earth’s rise in fertility, the blossoming of trees and flowers, the Earth Mother’s return to full growth and potency. Beltane was more than just a fire festival at 15ºTaurus, the mid-point of the growth season; it was a celebration of renewal and a belief for all Mankind that the Earth was capable once again of overcoming death, dying, winter, moving through budding of new growth into full-blown summer and supreme joy of life.

It is this ancient practice, once a sacred belief system held by our pre-Christian Brittonic ancestors–kept alive in some Druidic and Wiccan traditions so often ridiculed by modern skeptics–that the crop circles seek to remind us: Life is not dead. We and the Earth are alive.

Eight/Infinity crop circle with central lovers-knot, Milk Hill 08-08-08

Looking back, it is easy to spot this recurring theme. The decade of the 1990s had marked a gradual trend towards an earlier start to the season in April; remarkably, 1999 began on April 3rd! But by contrast, the first half of the ‘noughties was marked by late beginnings–mid-May (2001, 2005), even early June (2002, 2003, 2004 & 2006). 2009 began on time (first crop circle on The Ridgway near Avebury/West Overton on April 17th. In 2008, April 19th marked the beginning with a six-armed spiral at Waden Hill, Avebury. It was also the year of the bee (at Honey Street, no less) on July 27th; the first year crop circles were confirmed in the USA and Brazil; and, with synchronicity we are coming to expect, the famous ‘Eight’/Infinity formation which on 08-08-08 graced Milk Hill, Alton Barnes.

Milk Hill June 2009 crop circle overlay on 08-08-08 ghost

Circles arrived even earlier in 2007, with the Oliver’s Castle seven-arcs on April 15th. 2007 was famous for its ‘Om’ design of 07-07-07–at East Field. This remarkable formation began a trend in croppie thinking of assigning special meaning to specific numerical sequences: a simple form of numerology or gematria. That said, 2006 was a disappointment to many who waited until 21st May for the first sign in East Sussex. According to crop-prophet Freddy Silva, that year was atypical because it was jinxed by a high number of ‘hoax’ cropcircles. By contrast, it was famous for its first-time 3D-special effects formations. They have been entrancing us ever since.

The Measure of a Man and of an Angel will be the same in the New Jerusalem
Revelation of John 21: 17

Wayland's Smithy '12 Towers' crop circle, reminiscent of the blades of a combine harvester, arrived 08-07-06, photo courtesy Steve Alexander

The world’s first 3D design at Wayland’s Smithy, Oxfordshire, left, –combination skyscraper-overhead, 12-towers and Florence Nightingale’s Rose Diagram–appeared July 8th 2006: 06-07-08. Its proximity to Wayland’s Smithy neolithic burial chamber is not accidental, as it implies a connection between the ancient Saxon god of metalworking and the future of the human race being forged now. The British–as mythologist Barbara Clow has stated bluntly–are not exactly known for their knowledge of their own sacred beginnings. She implies (the reality of) America as a God-fearing race; while the British have no tolerance for the sacred. Many of the most emphatic crop markings of recent years have emphasized this lack of sensitivity to our ancient wisdom and essence of the sacred. Designs have increasingly been sited in close proximity to primeval sacred sites or places of ancient wisdom whose meaning and context have, in general, been studiously ignored.

The Twelve Towers, as the Waylands formation became known, has been likened by crop circle veteran Joseph Mason to the final reckoning of the New Jerusalem in the Revelation of John: Jerusalem was said to measure 12×12=144 cubits, a sacred number meaning ‘Light’, often represented by the cube. His exposition is worth reading for its incisive content and extreme intuition. Wayland’s inate spiraling form has reappeared many times since that year, as a kind of reminder of its End-of-Days message. One also sees in it the ‘Rose Diagram’ of Florence Nightingale–the first time a woman effectively cured an epidemic by alerting the medical community (and the world) to iatrogenic deaths in foul hospital conditions in the Crimea. She made her presentation via a diagram her superiors could visualize, and her visual method changed the way humanity looked at health. In that sense the crop circle message may be our own health warning, an alert that our world may now be in imminent danger, as a result of our own pollution of earth’s fragile systems.

2006 may have been an odd year — no crop circle 06-06-06; a short season that ended abruptly on August 14th. But it did deliver some amazing pieces of inter-dimensional wonder. And from that year onwards, the world croppie audience began sitting up and paying attention.

Seasons come and go and we are learning to expect bigger and more explicit messages. What surfaces above all is the sense of wonder they impart, to thousands who have never actually sat in one or experienced the sense of ‘community’ they intuitively bring to the fields. Many have only seen them from above: the photographic message, shared so willingly and selflessly by dedicated crop circle pilots and photographers and website volunteers. In a gentle, unobtrusive way, it seems that the symbols in the fields are encouraging us to reconnect with our own sense of community–and our own sacred selves.


Vibration and Frequency and Form

All matter is in essence a group of particles vibrating at a common frequency, (a current scientific theory) and it is understandable that we human beings, made up of particles vibrating at a certain frequency, are affected by other vibrating particles–positive or negative–depending on the interaction.

This is inkeeping with current spiritual group ethos: raise your vibration to create your own mastery. The idea resonates well with the crop circles. Some see them as ‘temporary temples‘ for a modern age that has lost its sense of the Sacred. As huge, geometric temples, they seem to inspire our psyche towards wonder, a higher sense of reality and awareness. It is documented that many people feel compelled to enter formations in the fields from quite a distance away, and afterwards describe feelings of peace and wellbeing while inside the ‘sacred’ space. Many attest to lives profoundly changed in some capacity–psychologically or spiritually– by the experience.

Savernake forest 'wormholes', July 6th, 2006, photo courtesy Steve Alexander

Over the years it has become commonplace for circle visitors to experience an energetic ‘flow’ within its precinct. Video cameras malfunction, batteries suddenly go dead, compasses fluctuate wildly. The electromagnetic field which circles produce has been likened by some dowsers, empaths and sensitives to the static they feel inside the oldest stone circles. Again, it seems synchronistic that the crop circles and the stone circles of Wiltshire and North Britain share a mystical connection in location, effect on ground water and subsoil. Samples taken for scientific analysis by non-profit agencies such as BLT Research confirm this. In 1980 the Dragon Project measured a miraculous surge of radiation within the precinct of Rollright Stones, Oxon at the moment of sunrise. Stonehenge visitors (for midsummer sunrise) confirm similar rises in energy. Both these stone circles are reasonably complete in construction. By contrast, dowsers who have visited ‘restored’ stone circles –a notorious one in Aberdeenshire at Strichen–experience sickness and have to leave because of the disruptive energy fields created by misaligned or substituted stones of the ‘wrong’ geological composition. It seems our Neolithic ancestors had a sense of ‘knowing’ where to place stone circles on the earth’s electromagnetic nodes–and within widely electrically-conductive aquifers of chalk or limestone– it worked like a dream.

In the magical situation created by an overnight crop sensation arriving via light, heat and sound in a ripening field, the essence of electromagnetic currents seem to be retained by the very bounds of the design’s circumference. According to BLT’s research, only gradually over a period of days–probably with traffic generated by visitors along paths leading in and out–does the energy level dissipate. There are some field formations where the energy appears so potent that its influence lingers not only through the winter after harvest, but, remarkably, for several subsequent seasons.

… as a ghostly reminder of what once was…
These are the famous crop circle ‘ghosts’.

Silbury Hill 2010: crop spectre of 2009 'Beetle' ghost

It was standard archaeological procedure throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to try to examine (from the air, via balloon and subsequently from helicopter or light plane) any area of ‘archaeological significance’ where it was suspected there might have been structures on or below ground which had been ‘lost’ in modern development, carelessness or just plain ignorance. In the (hot) summers of 1949, 1976 and 1996 major advances were made and documentary evidence added to British archives of ancient sites where structures showed up in the dry landscapes of a few arid summer months as ‘cropmarks’. Little did the archaeologists know then that something similar would become the focus of world attention in the second decade of the next millennium which would give an altogether different meaning to the expression ‘crop formation’. It is this ephemeral ‘ghost’ –an appearance within the soil itself after all vestigial reality of structure or form has been removed– which the crop circles have in common with some neolithic (and mesolithic) structures. The vibration of the form itself creates a lingering impression in the earth which –under certain conditions– can be witnessed once more. The spectre of the form lives again.

It is not just their physical form which has a remarkable effect on the humans attracted to enter crop circles. Their ghosts do as well. And, seen from the air –as we are now treated to, courtesy of the generosity of volunteers like Olivier Morel, above– crop circles are making their mark on the civilized world.

It may still be considered an ‘alternative’ world, a ‘loopy fringe’ by some, but even the media is coming around to the idea that the human race is jointly heading for some kind of quantum leap –either this year or next.

We are being treated to something in accelerated time: a reminder by Spirit of the Sacred which many of us seem to have forgotten. It is something quite wonderful, infinitely fulfilling and much needed, in order to bring our lives back into some kind of perspective. Because it is a little beyond our grasp, there is a thrill associated with this achievement. And it is well overdue.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Ascension, astronomy, crop circles, culture, popular, Prehistory, sacred geometry, sacred sites, seasonal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Phantom’s Child and the Scent of Roses

PHANTOM’S CHILD

Fyvie eastern front, showing contrast between older apartments and Seton's grand front


‘FYVYNS riggs and towers
Hapless shall your mesdames be,
When ye shall hae within your methes,
From harryit kirk’s land, stanes three–
Ane be in Preston’s tower,
Ane be in my lady’s bower,
And ane below the water-yett,
And it ye shall never get.’
Thomas the Rhymer

In November last year a group of us writers decided to take part in the NaNoWriMo marathon: a project to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. One of the carrots dangled before our writerly eyes — slaving over our Muse-filled computers — was the offer by Amazon’s CreateSpace that ‘winners’ who reached the target would have their novels published by them: one proof copy provided free. Too good to be true. Several of my blogging friends took part and we had until June 30th 2010 (today) to edit, rewrite, get feedback on and submit the resulting MS. It was truly a marathon. I and a number of my blogging buddies miraculously succeeded in reaching the wordcount. Below is an excerpt from one of the chapters of my entry: ‘Phantom’s Child’. Another was featured on this blog back in November last year. The evocative bookcover (shown below) was designed by my talented illustrator friend Joris Ammerlaan. Thank you, Joris.

A haunting scent of roses follows Lady Lillias

‘I AM not as I appear. I have taken many forms. The greatest of these is the one they call the Greene Ladye, but I am many. I have always lived, never died. It is my wraith they see in the drawing room, but my spirit is abroad for all Time. I cannot die.’

History is a strange thing: its tellers and retellers say one thing, historians in books something else. Mother’s tale had such immediacy, such clarity; I might have been there with her.

Kings, queens and courts of old had royal bards recite their oral history. This clever method of continuity made the past sound real. In the earliest times, when only clerics and kings could write, it served a dual purpose: to keep tradition alive (books and manuscripts could be burned and stolen), and to instill in the young a pride and knowledge of their heritage, so that they, too, would pass on a love of nationhood to their children.

Mother’s tale had such tragedy and yet it was full of poignant meaning, I didn’t want her to stop. At first I had no idea why she was discovered searching the Fyvie Charter Room for what I thought was the wedding dress of her ancestor at Straloch. It was only after some details emerged that I knew, not only was she living the life of her Straloch ancestor in her mind. She was being dragged through the minds of all her ancestors; my ancestors; through a long line of past lives.

Dame Lillias Drummond, the wraith who haunts the Ladye's Bower

I have since wondered whether she has passed on to me the ability she expressed that fateful day in the car on the way home with the boys. They were quite oblivious, lost in their ‘I Spy’.

I have many times since then felt myself in my mind standing in a room I do not recognize. If I had been able to ask Mother, I would have tried to find out what to expect. As it turned out, her need to express the tale was so vital, her slight frame shaking throughout, it was beyond us to make her stop. And after the tale was told, I’d already lost my opportunity.

Mother was already in the realm of the ancestors, caressed by their timeless fingers – a flimsy ribbon of time and space, of genealogy and upbringing – which holds the family together.

* * * * * * *

OF course I’d heard of the Fyvie curse. We all had. Many families in the Shire had similar stories. When your family tree is a product of generations of intermarriage and strategic connections, there’s bound to be an overlap. It’s understandable.

Fyvie started out as a domain of kings. Even before 1200 there were royal charters. But in the mists of unrecorded time, local knowledge, a few recopied Pictish Chronicles, and placenames in the countryside were all one had to go on. We knew there was a Pictish royal settlement, nay, even a royal lineage through the female line there, but records were sparse.

The only real window, though, the window of history, had some significant dates.

One I learned at school was the event with ‘all-the-2s': Alexander II of Scotland held his court there on February 2nd 1222. He was not the only king to make his residence in the turreted stone keep. William I ‘the Lion’ was there before him and probably had something to do with the earlier curse – the curse of the weeping stones.

Mother was less concerned about the stones and more about the second part of its pronouncement,: that, as these displaced sacred boulders would never be found, the ladies of Fyvie would be cursed forever; to survive in the knowledge that they could not bear sons who would live to reach maturity.

I doubt whether the original builder realized he was desecrating sacred ground when he took three stones to build the first stone tower. It’s called the Preston Tower, but it was standing long before that family owned Fyvie in the early 15th century.

Mother didn’t concern herself with such details. She said she was sure it was a Pictish citadel before the Normans took it over in the 12th century, and the Picts hadn’t moved the stones, because they held sacred heritage dear. So it couldn’t have been them.

I guessed the Normans — after 1066 — were the culprits. It’s a long time for a lineage to pay the price of something as simple as moving three sacred boundary stones from Churchlands and building a tower on top of one of them. But that, it seems, is what caused the curse.

And while two of the stones have been found — one in the foundations of the Preston Tower and one residing in a bowl of its own tears in the Charter Room where Mother was caught red-handed — the third is never going to come to light. Thomas the Rhymer, author of the sad song of ‘hapless mesdames’, was fairly clear on that.

Mother said he had it in for Fyvie because he thought they were inhospitable and slammed the great door in his face.

‘But it was only the wind.’ She spoke in a whisper, as if she remembered the day personally.

Great Iron Yett swung shut when Thomas the Rhymer approached

‘Thomas of Ercildoune. Berwickshire was his home. What he was doing up this way, I cannot fathom.’ She continued. ‘He liked to think he was a seer of sorts. He warned Fyvie of his visit, and admonished them to keep the yett open, but it took him two years to arrive. I imagine by that time they’d forgotten or were concerned with other things. He was singing ballads and pronouncing oaths and prophecies at the feast tables of all the nobles between Edinburgh and the North. Anyway, when he finally arrived, a fierce storm arose and the winds caused the great iron yett to slam shut before he reached it. They say, too, that while the castle was surrounded by a vortex of high wind, he stood in a pool of calm just a stone’s throw away.’

His curse certainly had a far-reaching effect. Not just through time in this amazing place, but through generations of families in other houses in the county as well.

It was common knowledge in our circle that since 1433, the castle, its lands and its title of barony had failed to descend through the firstborn son. Since the mid-fifteenth century until it was purchased by the National Trust for Scotland in 1984, the firstborn male of every generation at Fyvie died. The castle changed hands too. So the curse wasn’t family-specific. Mother made me remember that. Or rather, she used to tell me: ‘it goes with the family AND with the house.’

That meant the female line was cursed too, even if it married into another line.

I was never very sure — until that day in the car — whether our family had Fyvie links or not. But now I am certain of it. And, if you believe in curses – and this one seems ironclad – there isn’t much one can do about it.

In 1290 it was king Robert III of Scotland who gave Fyvie to Henry Preston, whose tower remains. He had no male heir, so the castle changed hands through marriage in 1433, passing with Preston’s eldest daughter to the Meldrums. It is known that they did indeed build the second tower to mirror the first.

Their firstborn son died.

However, as the Meldrums had houses elsewhere, they chose not to live at Fyvie and somehow escaped the curse for a generation or two.

The Meldrums sold Fyvie to the Setons, another great Northeast family with houses all round the county. Sir Alexander Seton, first earl of Dunfermline and Chancellor of Scotland who bought it in 1596 had no time for the curse; his dreams of creating a dynasty did not include ‘such nonsense’, Mother said; and he began plans to make it an architectural masterpiece.

Alexander Seton's great south front at Fyvie

His building of the grand southern front which greets visitors today, was inspired by castles he had visited in the Loire and valley of the Rhône, and his vision was truly spectacular. He consolidated the south front with a five-storey wing connecting both the Preston and Meldrum towers and built a great extended work of staterooms and offices stretching out back toward the North. His glorious south façade culminated in central twin towers which greeted his famous guests and royal visitors: it is this Great Entrance which is called the Seton Tower. In dividing his time between the court in Edinburgh, a palace in Dunfermline and creating such grandeur in Aberdeenshire, he had little time for his wife and four daughters. He had no male heir.

‘It was during his grandiose schemes that time passed and he forgot about me.’

I jumped. I had forgotten Mother was still consumed by her persona as one of the Fyvie ladyes: Until that moment it hadn’t occurred to me to ask which of the ‘hapless mesdames‘ of the castle had become the one with which she identified the most.

'Phantom's Child', 2009 NaNo winner picked up by Amazon CreateSpace publishing arm

So it was Lady Lillias Drummond, wife of Alexander Seton, later to be known as the ‘Greene Ladye’.

I might have known. Lillias was a sad soul. She gave him five daughters, all hale, healthy, nubile and ready to marry into the best families of the land. But because of his position, or perhaps because he had to prove that the curse was no match for his power and wealth, he wanted a male heir. The long awful tale began with his plan to marry another.

In order to do that, however, he had to be rid of Lillias.

‘I was too strong. He couldn’t poison me and, while he tried, he was unable to starve me to death. I died of a broken heart.’ I’d read many versions of the tale, but wanted to hear it from Mother’s lips.

Lillias heard of her husband’s plan to marry Grizel Leslie and gave up early in 1601. Her husband had her locked in her bower, the so-called Murder Room, and fed her gruel. They said she died there and her body was left to decay. Another story is told of her being walled up in a secret panel. However, Mother was not going to let me dwell on details.

‘He left me there to die, but for the sake of decency, did not take a second wife until October of that year. I was in my room from May till October.’ She made her own death sound quite surreal; her disembodied voice came from another layer of reality. ‘Only on their wedding night, I declared I’d had enough of the charade. He needed to be punished. He did not believe in the curse. He and Grizel were going to have a son, whatever happened to me. I made sure they remembered their act was murder. I stalked them that night. I stalk them still.’

The tale is told to present-day Fyvie visitors that on the night of October 27th 1601 the newly-wed couple had to spend their wedding night in the bedchamber above the Charter room in the old tower, because the new apartments Alexander was decorating for his bride in the Seton Tower were not yet finished. They were disturbed by strange scratching sounds outside their bedroom window, accompanied by heavy sighs which went on through the night. In the morning they discovered a name scratched on the outside window sill upside-down:

‘D. LILIES DRUMMOND’.

As the bedchamber is on the fourth storey, fifty feet above ground in the old defensive wall which has no footholds, it was thought the carving might only be achieved by someone with powers of levitation — or the ghost now called the Greene Ladye.

Mother loved this part of the story. I know she liked being Lillias. She said it was because she has free rein to wander throughout the apartments at night, as she did when she was mistress, but I think it is something simpler.

Lillias always left the room with a lingering scent of roses

Mother always loved her garden and roses were her particular favourite. Whenever I found her in latter years, she had, season permitting, a rosebud in her hand. Lillias, or the Greene Ladye, has been seen by many Fyvie custodians. She is one of their favourite ghosts. And whenever there is a chance encounter, or one of the guides or visitors feels a presence over his shoulder, it is usually accompanied by the scent of roses as the apparition moves through the room.

Mother read my thoughts.

‘Yes,’ she said. I am glad. They took my home, my children and my life. But I was able to bring my roses.’ She smiled and I was certain that she was right. For a moment, in the old family car filled with noise, childish laughter and song, on Mother’s last drive from the coast to the security of home I was sure I smelled the scent of roses.
©2010 Marian Youngblood
This is an excerpt from one of the chapters of Marian Youngblood’s forthcoming historical novel ‘Phantom’s Child’, published by Amazon CreateSpace

June 30, 2010 Posted by | authors, belief, culture, history, novel, Prehistory, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ides of March: Prophecy & the Power of Belief

Julius Caesar, iconized and immortalized after his death, Ides of March 44BC

Julius Caesar, self-styled vanquisher of Britannia, those restless natives in the extremities of his empire, would be surprised to learn that, 2054 years after his death on 15 March 44BC, we still remember him, if only for the prophecy that warned of his demise. It is extraordinary that most of the English-speaking world – if they think about it at all – associates the middle of March with that ancient Roman calendar which named the beginning of a lunar month the Kalends, the day of New Moon the Nones and middle (or full moon) the Ides. And, as the Julian calendar had only been established and corrected to include months of 30 and 31 days two years before he died, it seems his prophesied murder had potency because it happened on a Roman full moon.

What is it about phases of the Moon and our need to believe in doom and gloom?

Nostradamus, French apothecary and seer Michel de Nostradame (1503-1566) was famous not only for thousands of quatrains, but for the obscurity and multiplicity of their interpretation. He wrote the following quatrain:

‘The Moon in the full of night over the high mountain, The new sage with a lone brain sees it: By his disciples invited to be immortal, Eyes to the south. Hands in bosoms, bodies in the fire’ Century IV number 31

French Apothecary and Seer, Nostradamus

It has so far escaped attribution. In recent years the most famous of his quatrains (Century I Quatrain 87) has been interpreted (usually by re-writing its context), to apply to the World Trade Center tragedy of 9/11, 2001. In the original it appears:

‘Earthshaking fire from the centre of the earth will cause tremors around the New City. Two great rocks will war for a long time, then Arethusa will redden a new river’

When rewritten to tie more closely into the the Twin Towers scenario, it reads:

‘Sea of fire at the world centre, The tower of the new city will tremble: Two great blocks will be at war for a long time, Then Arethusa will redden a new river

Lost in the thrill of proclaiming the French mystic’s ability to see five hundred years into the future with such precision, the interpreters failed to notice a suggestion by a contemporary volcanologist that Vesuvius is sited between two great massifs, did in fact tremble and erupt shortly after this prediction and Arethusa – a Greek mythological Neried who was turned into a fountain – appeared to influence ‘rivers’ of lava which cascaded down its slopes. Nearby Napoli/Naples, in translation does also mean ‘New City’.

Such is the nature of perfect prognostication.

Its interpreters may never agree. And yet it is human nature to ‘see’ the alternate reality, poised, ready to believe.

In the months following 9/11 public hysteria whipped up by veiled suggestion had books on Nostradamus and those quoting his work catapulted to best-seller status in both Amazon and Barnes & Noble reading lists.

In Nostradamus‘s time, the Scots-Gaelic equivalent of the French prophet was one favored by Clan Mackenzie in their talented son ‘Dun’ Kenneth (Coinneach Odhar), the Brahan Seer. While first reference to him in print does not appear until Thomas Pennant’s ‘Tour of Scotland’ (1769) “Every country has its prophets… and the HIghlands their Kenneth Odhar,” it is likely this refers to Keanoch Owir, ordered prosecuted by Rossshire authorities for witchcraft by two Commissions of Justice in 1577. Oral tradition says he predicted the fate of Fairburn Tower, seat of the Mackenzies overlooking great landholdings in Rossshire river valleys of the Orrin and Conon:

‘The day will come when the Mackenzies of Fairburn shall lose their entire possessions; their castle will become uninhabited and a cow shall give birth to a calf in the uppermost chamber of the tower.

Fairburn Tower where the Seer predicted a cow giving birth

The castle did indeed become a ruin and in 1851, when a cow calved in the garret, it was being used by a farmer to store hay. The prophecy was so well-known that people came by train to Victorian health-spa Strathpeffer and on by coach to see the cow. She had climbed up the tower following a trail of hay, had a good feed at the top and become stuck. She gave birth to a fine calf and both were carefully led down some five days later, allowing enough time for the incredulous to visit and see the prophecy fulfilled for themselves.

A laborer on the Brahan Seaforth estate, Kenneth was summoned by Isabella, Lady Seaforth to give her news of her husband, then on a visit to France. He saw in his mind the Earl cavorting with a Parisian demoiselle and wouldn’t answer his mistress. She threatened him with dismissal and insisted until he told her what he had seen. The revelation cost the oracle his life. Traditional reward for the bearer of bad tidings was death by ‘tarring’ in a barrel of boiling pitch. Before receiving his sentence, he threw his ‘divining’ stone into Loch Ussie and foretold the end of the male line and the extinction of the Seaforths.

In its Georgian heyday, one mile west of Brahan House the grounds stretched to meet the A835 Dingwall-to-Ullapool road. A monument rests by the road. It was here that the Brahan Seer’s final prediction of the fall of the Seaforths became a reality.

When the last Lord Seaforth died (after his four sons) the estates went to his eldest daughter, Mary. She had married Admiral Hood, spending several years stationed in the East Indies. When the Admiral died, Lady Mary Hood, (later Lady Stewart-Mackenzie) returned wearing the traditional Indian white coife of mourning. In 1823 Lady Mary was in control of a pony carriage near Brahan accompanied by her sister, Lady Caroline Mackenzie. The ponies bolted and the carriage overturned. Lady Caroline was thrown out and died of her injuries.

Dun Kenneth’s last words before he was ‘tarred’ were that Lord Seaforth’s possessions would be

‘inherited by a white-coiffed lassie from the east and she is to kill her sister’

Two of his predictions remain, so far, unfulfilled:

‘One day black rain will fall on the City of Aberdeen’

Optimists hope this refers to North Sea Oil and not nuclear fallout. And

‘Rome was; London is; Edinburgh shall be’

While this could refer to the present condition of Scots parliament sitting in the Scots capital, it may imply a future time when Edinburgh becomes more important than the capital of Great Britain…

Scotland’s most famous seer, however, is 13th-century Thomas the Rhymer, Thomas Learmounth of Ercildoune (c. 1220 – c. 1298), from a district now called Earlston near Berwick in the Borders. There is documentary evidence of a Thomas Rimor de Ercildoun witnessing deeds in the 1260s.

Nearly all his sayings have been recorded, and were first published in 1603, but it is remarkable that in the handing down through oral tradition of his many prophecies, the rhyming and rhythm has been maintained, so that his legacy is indeed a series of poetic prognostication.

And, remembering that what a poet, bard or seer of the 13th century was usually expected to foretell was the fate or future of a great house or a noble family, his words have a way of telling an alternative history of ‘lowland’ Scotland stretching from the Moray Firth to the Forth.

Sir Walter Scott became fascinated by him and created the ‘Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer’ to include in his ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border‘, 1802.

Syne they came to a garden green,
  And she pu’d an apple frae a tree:
‘Take this for thy wages, true Thomas;
  It will give thee the tongue that can never lee.’ Thomas and the Queen of Fairyland 17thC Anon

The Queen of Elfland gave Thomas the gift of prophecy

The tale goes that Thomas Learmounth, while out walking near his Tower House of Ercildoune, sat to rest under the ‘Eildon Tree’, a hawthorn, known to have magical powers. While he slept, the Queen of Faeryland spirited him away to live with her, some say for three, others for seven, years and when he returned from what he thought was a nap of a few minutes, the world had changed by several years.

And he returned with the power of prophecy.

The Queen’s gift was bestowed on condition he should always speak the truth, but also on the strict understanding that he would return immediately at her summons.

His elf-given powers predicted some historically life-changing events:

The death of King Alexander III in 1296 in a fall from his horse
The succession of Robert the Bruce as King of Scots
The disastrous defeat of King James IV of Scots at Flodden in 1513
The defeat of Mary Queen of Scots at the Battle of Pinkie in 1567 and
The Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England in 1603.

The downfall of many a great landed family was until the age of film and television attributed to the powers the Queen of Elfland had bestowed on Thomas the Rhymer. Now fantasy is the stuff of moviemakers.

However, some of his prescient pronouncements bear repeating.

The family of Gordon from whom George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (the poet Lord Byron) was descended, suffered in a typically Thomas fashion:

‘When the heron leaves the tree
The laird o’ Gight shall landless be’

On May 12, 1785, his mother Catherine Gordon of Gight, the last female descendant of an estate overlooking the river Ythan in Aberdeenshire, married Hon. John Byron. The estate was sold soon after the marriage. Tradition says that about the time of the marriage the falcons or ‘herons’ which had built their nest for many years in a ‘fine tree near the castle’, left and took up their abode in the woods of nearby Haddo. Gight is now a ruin. Another, that

‘At Gight three men a violent death shall dee
And after that the land shall lie in lea.’

This prophecy was also fulfilled.

One of the most famous tragedies to befall a family in Aberdeenshire was that of the hereditary Earls Marischal, (former Knights Marischal), Masters of Horse to the Royal Household from time immemorial. The honour was traditionally given to the house of Keith, earlier known as Keiths-Falconer, later Earls of Kintore, Lords Inverurie and Stonehaven, a family with hereditary lands at Dunnottar south of Aberdeen, and Inverugie near St Fergus in Buchan. Their medieval power was so great that when county boundaries were drawn up in the 12th century after Norman nobles moved north with the Court, St Fergus (and Inverugie) was allowed to maintain the status of being part of Banffshire, from where the family originated. It is to this day an enclave of ‘Banffshire’ within the confines of ‘Aberdeenshire’ in this Buchan corner.

Crown Jewels of Scots Regalia, hidden from Cromwell's soldiers in the cellar at Kinneff

The family had been immensely wealthy, with lands stretching from the Moray Firth (Banffshire and north Aberdeenshire) through Kincardineshire (the coastal fortress of Dunnottar) to the Esk river boundary with Angus and the Mearns: an area half the size of Switzerland.

They were trusted, loyal to the Crown, had held their hereditary position as protector of the King’s person and his stable for centuries. They were elevated to Earls Marischal after supreme acts of bravery on behalf of the Royal House, concealing the royal regalia – the Crown Jewels of Scotland – after the coronation of James II in 1650, from the eyes of Cromwell’s soldiers, whose most ardent quest was to remove and destroy them, as they had so recently melted down the English regalia.

Dunnottar - fortified promontory keep on the North Sea - where the Crown Jewels were hidden

The Knights Marischal were the trusted recipients of the precious Crown, Orb, regal Sword and Sceptre after the hastily-conceived coronation at Scone, and they concealed them at Dunottar until it, too, lay under siege. The situation became urgent. The ‘Honours’ were lowered by rope to a serving woman in a boat who took them to the nearby village church of Kinneff and hid them in the cellar. For this act of bravery and allegiance the Keiths – after the king’s “Restoration’ – were elevated to Earls Marischal and once again their power and position seemed untouchable.

Until some of Thomas’s prophecies started to bite.

One relates him standing personally within Inverugie Castle grounds on a huge prehistoric boundary stone revered as sacrosanct in his time:

“Inverugie by the sea
Lordless shall thy lands be
And underneath thy hearth-stane
The tod* shall bring her birds hame.”

*tod = fox

and

“As lang’s this stane stands on this craft
The name of Keith shall be held alaft’
But when this stane begins t’ fa’
The name of Keith shall wear awa'”

In 1715 the Inverugie property of the Earl Marischal at St. Fergus was ‘attainted’ (put in disgrace). This meant that by order of the Crown, descendants could not inherit. The estate at St Fergus was bought from the Crown by York Buildings Co. Trustees of that Company sold it in 1761 to George, Earl Marischal, son of the attainted earl.

The stone of Thomas’s recital was removed in 1763 and built into the church of St Fergus which was then under construction. This seemed to add to the family’s downfall. The ‘new’ owner went into debt and he sold Inverugie in 1764, the year after the stone was removed, to Lord Pitfour, one of the senators of the College of Justice. Inverugie has not been in Keith hands since that time.

Dunnottar, too, fell into ruin.

One of the family’s other houses was at Auchmedden, near Pennan in Aberdour parish on the North Coast.

“As long’s there’s an eagle in Pennan
There will be a Baird in Auchmedden”

Baird was another family name of the Keiths. In historical records of the House, a pair of eagles built their nest in the cliffs near the village of Pennan and the Bairds protected them with the greatest care and fed them by placing daily on a ledge of rock near their eyrie food and tidbits. Willam Baird joined ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie as an officer of his bodyguard at Culloden. He continued in hiding for some years after and then lived the remainder of his life at Echt House (central Aberdeenshire) where he died in 1777. Auchmedden was not confiscated, but Mr Baird had to sell it in 1750 to relieve debt contracted in support of the Stuarts. When it was bought by Earl of Aberdeen in that year, the eagles left.

There is one final Keith prediction which may be their death knell, although Thomas’s words do not specifically mention the family:

‘When Dee and Don shall run as one
And Tweed shall run with Tay
The Bonnie Waters o’ the Urie
Shall bear the Bass away.’

The Bass is a man-made medieval mound used to garrison troops of David I (1170). It is situated at the confluence of the Urie and Don in Inverurie which meets the boundary of the lands of Keith Hall, where the Earls Marischal built their glorious edifice after they were elevated and once more restored to royal favour. The Hall is a superb example of 17th century style and elegance and its surrounding woodland reminiscent of once-great royal hunting forests.

The Earl of Kintore, in his traditional rôle as Chief of Clan Keith

It lies on the edge of the modern town of Inverurie and the town is encroaching.

The river floods regularly and in these last floodings, the Bass got its feet wet.

Within the last decade, the great Hall was sold and converted into a condominium; while the Earl and Countess of Kintore remained on the estate – making a comfortable residence in the Stables – they both seemed to have ‘lost’ something in the move.

Lord Kintore then ‘lost his seat’ in Tony Blair’s insensitive reshuffle of the House of Lords and the light went out of his life.

The Countess contracted cancer and was given a few months to live. One Hallowe’en, before events could progress too far in that direction, the Earl took his own life. His wife died within the year. Their son, the present Earl, no longer makes his home in Aberdeenshire.

The lands are walked upon by Inverurie passers-by who use the once-great ‘hunting forest’ to promenade their dogs on weekends, in the evenings; in fact at any time of the day or night. How many of them are aware of the great history that lies under their feet?

“The name of Keith shall wear awa'”

has come true in ways even Thomas could not have imagined.

So, did the Queen of Elfland ever summon Thomas back? Maybe so.

He disappeared one day in 1298 after walking out of his Tower House and was never seen again.

According to legend, he will return and come to Scotland’s aid in the hour of her greatest need…

March 15, 2010 Posted by | ancient rites, calendar customs, culture, earth changes, history, New Earth, popular, Prehistory | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fire Festivals & Persistence of Pasche

Carnival in Rio before Lent


‘First come Candlemas
Syne the New Meen
The niest Tiseday efter that
Is Festern’s E’en.
That Meen oot
An’ anither at its hicht
The niest Sunday efter that
Is aye Pasche richt.’
Ancient Scots Easter calculation. Anon.

The Calendar according to the Moon was regular as clockwork. It was reliable, you could see it in the sky and you could set your life rhythms by it. The old Scots rhyme above spoken slowly will make sense even to the least son of the soil of Ultima Thule. But non-Scots may need a little help in translation.

Festern’s E’en – as Hallowe’en – was an ancient calendar fire festival celebrated, like all pre-Christian revelry, at night. And, like Hallowe’en, it still is. Only we call it by another name: Carnival.

Translated simply, it is the evening before the ‘Feast/Festival’. With a capital F, this celebration was one of the greatest fire festivals in the Celtic Year. When it became absorbed into the Christian calendar, its importance and significance to the populace was so great, that it was deemed necessary to give it a place of prominence second only to Christmas. As such it has remained. The festival that precedes Easter is throughout the world celebrated with fire and puppetry,processional and masqued balls, dance and music and food and drink.

If you ask a South American about Carnival, ‘Carnaval’ in Portuguese, he will tell you they prepare for it all year round. In some cultures it has become almost more important than Christmas – a reversion to type, backtracking to pre-Christian times.


In Brazil, it makes complete sense to hold Carnaval precisely on its February moon date in the ancient calendar because in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires it is full-blown summer. By contrast, German Fasching, held similarly in February, is pretty chilly dancing in the noctural streets of northern Hamburg!

Terence Young's 'Thunderball' James Bond in 1965


Carnival used to be held in the Bahamas in February too, when spring is at its height and the casuarinas blow carefree along Nassau Beach. But in the summer of 1965, Chubby Broccoli and Sean Connery made a James Bond film set on Paradise Island and commissioned the Carnival Committee to stage an ‘extra’ Carnival, so they could weave festive fiery scenes into ‘Thunderball'; since then Bahamian Carnival has been a summertime festival.

London's Notting Hill Carnival

Similarly, the London Carnival of Notting Hill, begun in 1964, is held on the last weekend in August. No connection to Lent or Easter any more.

But originally, before the Gregorian calendar took over calculation and reckoning by the moon in 1582, Carnival was high festive season in that ancient stream of festivities used by Man to celebrate the return of the Light to a dark winter world.

Candlemas, as I’ve mentioned before, is the first glimpse of light waxing and adding grace to the darkest days of winter. On February 2nd – or Bride’s Day, before solar months took over as calendrical norm – the measure of light from the heavens increases to such a degree that birds begin to mate, petals on spring flowers open and the Earth softens its frozen grip.

In lunar terms, the first New Moon of the second month (Gregorian) was celebrated in every northern hemisphere culture planet-wide from prehistoric times. From Buddhist to Inuit culture the return of light to nurture the earth’s crucial growing plants was a calendar custom worth celebrating.

When Christian calendar calculators were devising Roman Church high and holy days, they took care to incorporate these ancient fire rites as an integral part of Christian culture and ‘lore’. it did not do to lose a single ‘soul’ in the transition from a pre-Christian to a Christian world.

And, as it was a long-standing tradition for local people to mark ancient quarter days – the solstices and the equinoxes – with festivals of fire, it seemed right that they should transit unaltered into the Christian calendar: marked instead with candlelight inside church buildings.

Christmas was chosen at the time of (northern) winter solstice when the ‘ignorant’ (pagan) desperately needed to celebrate the return of ‘light to the world’. Christ was called the ‘Light of the World’. The Son of the Sun.

Midsummer was fully taken up with a light celebration of its own – in northern latitudes the longest days of the year brought bountiful harvest and genuine thanksgiving by a rural population for the gifts of the earth continuously provided from midsummer through to Lammas, an August ‘cross-quarter’ day. No Church overlay was necessary; nevertheless Roman Catholicism superimposed the feast of John the Baptist on midsummer’s day and frowned heavily on pagan corn dollies and such Celtic fripperies perpetuated by an agricultural society.

The Equinoxes, however, required more serious contemplation.

Most rural (so-called ignorant) converts were aware of the movement of both sun and moon. While that may appear to us today to be rather sophisticated intellectual knowledge, it was commonplace then to note changing seasons, hours of light and dark and the phases of the moon. When equinox arrived it was – in the human mind at least – a miracle that every place on earth had exactly the same number of hours of light and dark for one earth period of 24 hours. The sun rose at 6 and set at 6 on every man, woman, child and beast on earth. The phenomenon was in itself worth celebrating. In astronomical terms, the event occurs precisely at the moment the Sun (traveling along the ecliptic) appears to cross the celestial equator, and while ancient Man may not have known that added sophistication, his life was changed by its occurrence twice in every year. In addition, he celebrated the spring (cross-quarter) festivals of Wesak, Beltane, May Day, along with any events providing an excuse for Morris and maypole dancing, The Church allowed these to continue, so long as the requisite saints were also remembered and offerings given.

While Archangel Michael was given dominion over autumnal equinox, Easter was chosen as a fitting ‘high’ celebration to take over the vernal equinoctial light-and-dark balance.

What put a spanner in the works was that – late in the seventh century – when two contemporary Christian systems were running alongside in mutual cooperation, the internal systems within the Celtic and Roman Churches came to a clash; an impasse.

Venerable Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People'

Hugely influential, powerful and wealthy King Oswiu of Northumbria had been happy to run his Christian nation along the lines of Columba’s Celtic (thirteen-month lunar) calendar issued and maintained from Iona. This Celtic doctrine conveniently recognized the King as head of religious affairs. His Anglian Queen Eanfled, a devout Roman Christian recognized not the King but the Pope as head of the Church. They might have reconciled their differences, had it not been for a calendrical anomaly which in some years had the King ordering huge feasts for Easter at exactly the moment when his Queen was still fasting in Lent. Because another such year was due to happen in AD665, with the assistance of Wilfrid, new abbot at Rippon, and recently returned from Gaul and Rome, the King called the Synod of Whitby in AD664 and led a thorough investigation into the rites and rituals of both systems. The event is described in detail by Jarrow churchman Bede (673-735) who completed his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 731.

While the Synod changed lives, split families and royal houses, even intra-kingdom alliances, thereafter church festivities centred on Easter were standardized throughout the land and celebrated in accordance with Roman custom.

Easter remained the highest festival of the Christian church until the Scots Reformation when (after 1660) presbyterian austerity superimposed simplicity, reduced dogma and a return to ‘speaking to God’ directly.

For the rest of the British Isles, however, and for descendants and dependents the world over, Easter remains one of the great festivals of the Christian calendar.

Curiously, for a celebration washed, ironed and folded so neatly by successive synthesized systems – prehistoric, early-historic, pre-Christian, Celtic and Roman Christian – Easter emerges as a supreme highlight in the Church year.

Its one concession to its pagan past is that is remains to this day a date fixed according to the Moon.

And, in order not to offend other faiths which, like Anglian Eanfled, might take offence at the bulldozing approach (e.g. Spanish Inquisition, Salem witch trials), there is a built-in mechanism of calculation which ensures that Easter and Passover never collide and that the Christian High Festival should never occur BEFORE equinox.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, bead capital of the world

So the little rhyme above, translated, simple enough and sympathetic to Scots ears, sums up global lead-time to Pasque, Pasche, Oster/Easter, the pagan event of maiden-goddess Eostre/Ostara, the Highest Festival in the Christian Calendar: when in the High Days before the Fast of Lent, the Roman Catholic world celebrates. From Italian Carnivale to German Fasching (Fastnacht, the eve before the Fast), prelude to French Pasque, in Portuguese Carnaval and on ‘Fat Tuesday’ of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, bead-festooned feasters and revellers make merry because tomorrow their stomachs will die.

The modern gesture to Pancake or Shrove or Fat Tuesday (Festern’s E’en) is not lost on marketers for supermarket chains who do a roaring trade in maple syrup and readymix batter. It’s the ‘stock up while the going’s good’ mentality, because the body must endure the subsequent fast of Lent for a regulation 40 days. Once more the Roman Church succeeded in condensing multiple events in Christ’s life into one festival: this fast represents the period of time He spent without food while meditating in the desert.

Nowadays, nobody questions that its immediate successor in the calendar is representational of His death and resurrection, when historically the two events happened years apart. Once again, ancient symbolism is used to gloss over detail.

‘First arrives Candlemas (Feast of Bride); Then the New Moon
The following Tuesday will be ‘Fastnacht’/Fasching or Shrove Tuesday
Allow that ‘moon’ to wax and wane
And watch till the next moon is full
The Sunday thereafter will be Easter Day.’
translation by Scots descendant, non-Anon

It worked for King Oswiu in 664. I can assure you, the calculation works still!

©2010 Marian Youngblood

March 8, 2010 Posted by | ancient rites, astrology, astronomy, calendar customs, consciousness, culture, festivals, history, pre-Christian, Prehistory, ritual, seasonal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Midwinter Solstice: Return of the light

Sine umbra nihil

Burning the Clavie at Burghead, Moray

MIDWinter Fire festivals were ancient man’s most fervent prayer to the Universe to return the light to the earth after the shortest day.

At 57º North latitude in Scotland, the equivalent in North America of the parallel of Juneau, Alaska, there aren’t a lot of hours of light in December and January. By the time solstice – the day the sun appears to stand still – December 21st – arrives, ancient man was getting to the point where it was going to get dark forever, unless something was done to propitiate the spirit world.

In the earliest known Calendars devised by Arabian astronomers, even the balmy latitudes of the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas saw a dwindling of the light. And so when Neolithic man erected stone circles and sacred precincts of stone leading the eye to the horizon to a point where the sun set on midwinter’s day, he did it for a most urgent purpose: to ask the Light of the Universe, the Sacred Fire, to return.

What better way to kindle the blessing of the gods of light and fire than with fire itself?

In Northeast Scotland, where recumbent stone circles abound, the recumbent or ‘resting’ stone lies in the southwestern quadrant of the circle, flanked by two carefully chosen pillars of stone (quartz, quartzite, granite with inclusions to reflect the light), creating a window on the horizon where the midwinter sun goes down. At 4:00 p.m.!

Aberdeenshire's recumbent stone circles' window on the horizon

It is more than seventeen hours before it rises again. Seventeen hours must have created an enormous hiatus of doubt and disbelief in the minds of ancient communities whose shaman or holy man might be the only one who knew the light would return. But did they? It is no wonder that oral tradition handed down tales of the supernatural abilities of such knowledgeable men.

We have no record of how such workers of celestial magic were named in the time of the first farmers, the Neolithic communities who raised the megaliths of Aberdeenshire.

But by the time of Roman historians, like Tacitus and Ptolemy, who wrote of ancient Britons’ ‘great powers’, Roman respect for the Celtic peoples of Europe and the Druids of the Britannia was great. Ptolemy and Caesar record phenomenal belief by the people in their magicians, their Druids, their ‘keepers of knowledge’ and rightly so. The Celtic traditions known to the Gauls owed their origins to the British druidic élite. Much veneration and respect was paid in Gaul to this small group of islands lying in Ultima Thule, or in Roman slang ‘off the map’ on the edge of the Roman Empire.

Sun and moon markers embedded in stone

Certainly by the time of our Pictish ancestors – those whom the Romans called the Caledonians – stone circles were in constant use for fire festivals and seasonal rites of propitiation for the welfare of the community. The Picts also had their own druidic priest class like those of Wales and other Brittonic peoples. And their power to be seen to command the elements of fire, water, wind and earth were extraordinarily great. Annals and documents from Gaul, Cornwall, Brittany and Rome confirm their hold over the people, not only to guide farming work through the annual cycle, but also to act as advisor to queens and kings.

By the ancient Celtic calendar, known to the Romans as their equivalent of the Julian method of calculation, there were ten months in the year and thirteen moons. Man moved according to the sun for daily light and warmth, but owed allegiance to the moon for rhythms of planting and harvest, the female menstrual cycle and hence the cycle of birth and death. The Julian calendar was a ruling force for fifteen hundred years, until it started to lose time.

By then the Church, mathematicians and enlightened astronomers had stepped in to alter the rhythm to run more closely with human time. Most nations changed over to the new calendar after it was decreed law by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. But the Orthodox Greek and Russian Churches refused to change. Other nations remained staunchly in favour of the older calculation. Among these were Ethiopia and Russia, who did not accept European calendar reckoning until 1750. Ethiopia still does not.

And Burghead in Moray.

In Burghead they burn the clavie to celebrate the return of the light of a dying sun. An ancient rite practised on the night of solstice in pre-Christian times, to propitiate and ask the dying sun to return, its confused calendrical transposition to January 11th can only be slightly rationalized by calendar change. Nevertheless, it is on this date that Burghead has through oral tradition and in living memory rekindled and paraded its torch of blazing fire.

It’s a little more complex than merely holding to the old calendar. Well-wishing for a new year is what we do in the Northeast of Scotland when the calendar points to January. It’s called Hogmanay. It was always so. Or was it?

In Gregorian, we count this as 2009; about to go 2010. It is already 5770 Jewish time. The month of February 2010 opens the Chinese year of the Tiger; on February 22 Islam moves into 1431. For Sikhs, new year (542) comes just before vernal equinox when Hindus (2067) and Persians (1389) celebrate, just as we used to before the Julian calendar adjusted new year from March to January.

Clavie Crew hoist the burning barrel and parade it round the town

This is no surprise to the Clavie Crew of Burghead on the Moray coast. They still run on Julian time.

When Scotland changed calendars in 1660, there was much misunderstanding in country districts – the loss of 11 days was seen as someone in a position of power having robbed them of important events. This was also a period of change in parishes because of the implementation of new church doctrines introduced at the Reformation. Calendars in Church records added to the confusion by writing numbers in ‘Old Style’ and ‘New Style’. It caused so much concern that Old Parish Records (OPR) had to show both systems. Births in the OPR are recorded for several years in both Old and New Time.

Also at the Reformation pre-Christian festivals, such as clavie-burning and fire festivals at Beltane, Hallowe’en and harvest too, were frowned on. On the other hand, local tradition was strong: it was commonplace to mark the return of the light after midwinter in all northern communities and northeastern ports. Such pagan celebrations as ‘fire leaping’ and dancing round the fire within the precinct of stone circles was still known in 1710 and harvest fire festivals continued unabated until the year 1942. Gradually, however, other celebrations and farming fire festivals started to die out.

When the other northern ports stopped their Clavie burning in winter after the first World War, Burghead held on. After the second War, it continued to celebrate as it had always done. It has continued to do so ever since, except for two of the years during the 1939-45 European War.

Now only two villages hold to the ancient tradition: a pre-Christian ritual of celebrating the closing of one seasonal door and the opening of another.

Stonehaven in Kincardineshire celebrates with a street festival of fireball-swingers. Both festivities are awe-inspiring, if marginally dangerous to watch. It must be awesomely perilous for those involved. On Hogmanay night Steenhivers have a street party to end all street parties. Whereas Burghead only spills combustible materials over the shoulders of Clavie-bearers, Stonehaven delights in spinning fire in clumps into an unwary crowd.

Stonehaven has conceded to the newer calendar, swinging its crazy fire balls on Hogmanay; yet it is celebrating the same midwinter seasonal hinge as the Clavie Crew of Burghead: The end of the Old Year; Old Yule: Aul’ ‘Eel.

Burghead is more precisely still counting its eleven lost days.

In Burghead, lighting the eternal fire and carrying it round the town reenacts the celebration of the return of new light after the longest night in the Northern hemisphere – the dark of the Latin quotation often found on sundials: ‘without shadow there is nothing’. Implied, naturally, is the fact that the all-important entity which creates shade in the first place, is the Sun.

To the Clavie King and his torch-bearers of Burghead, this is Aul’ ’Eel, pre-Christian Yule or winter solstice. Yule becomes interchangeable with Christmas south of the border but Scotland has held to its pagan festival of Hogmanay, itself a testimony to and turning point in that Roman calendar.

Fire for the clavie is ritually kindled from a peat ember – no match is used. This is in respect for the spirit of fire itself which is eternal.

The Clavie itself is an old whisky barrel full of broken up staves ritually nailed together by a clavie (Latin, clavus, nail). One of the casks is split into two parts of different sizes, and an important item of the ceremony is to join these parts together with the huge nail made for the purpose. The Chambers’ Book of Days (1869) minutely describes the ceremony, suggesting that it is a relic of Druid worship, but it seems also to be connected with a 2000-year-old Roman ceremony observed on the 13th September, called the clavus annalis. Two divisions of the cask in the Burghead ritual symbolize the hinges of the old and the new year, which are joined together by a nail. The two parts are unequal, because the part of the new year joined on to the old is very small by comparison with the old year which is departing.

Burning the Clavie at Burghead

Clavie King, Dan Ralph and his Clavie Crew heave the Clavie into position

Clavie King Dan Ralph has carried out his duty for twenty years. He gathers together his Clavie Crew and they help each other take turns carrying the man-sized torch: a tar-barrel stoked with oak staves soaked in combustible fluid. It is a feat of human endurance alone to lift what must weigh more than a man, not to mention avoiding flaming drops of leaking fuel. They stagger in unison round the town, dispensing luck as they go: flaming brands from the burning tar-barrel are presented as tokens of abundance to important burghers, including the publican. The bearers keep changing; circling the town sunwise, stopping only to refuel or change carriers. A final free-for-all happens after the clavie arrives at the fire-altar hill, on a rib of the old Pictish ramparted stronghold, which juts out into the Moray Firth. There it is fixed to its fire-altar, the doorie.

More tar, petrol, any source of incendiary fuel is added until the flames reach for the heavens. Then both fire and wooden vessel, the fast-distintegrating clavie, and its lethal blazing contents are left to die.

Happy New Year. Julian indeed.

December 6, 2009 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, crystalline, culture, nature, Prehistory, ritual, sacred sites, stone circles, sun | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Crop Circles and ancient Lammastide

Overhead 360º view from within the simple swirled crop circle of August 24, 1995

Overhead 360º view from within the simple swirled crop circle of August 24, 1995 at Culsalmond, Aberdeenshire

Crop circles are not new. The phenomenon is centuries-old, embedded in folklore in South Africa and China, achieving sparse comment from English academics in the 1600s; noted in police records and farming journals in 1890; by military and ‘classified’ sources through the 1950s and ’60s.

It was not until 1980, however, that the general populace began to notice them. Since 1990 size and intricacy have developed, mimicking computer fractals, fourth dimensional reality, esoterica known only to quantum physicists. Nearly 30 years after that Thatcherite time, discussion favours excitement over fear, anticipation rather than suppression, belief more than ridicule. The appearance of upwards of 10,000 reported ‘genuine’ crop circles in twenty-nine countries worldwide has brought the subject into the mainstream. It has become ‘cool’ to talk about what they might mean.

In the English countryside since 2005, designs have become so complex, it is natural to speak of codes and mathematical sequences and quantum physics and astronomical numbers. As simple ellipses expanded into trailing solar flares, hypercubes, calendrical geometry and astrophysical complexity, we became mesmerized by beauty in the summer landscape, breathless with anticipation of what would come next.

In 2009 the pick of the crop finished at the end of August. Fields in September were conspicuous by their absence.

They’ve got us where they want us: on the edge of our seats.

In a lull between September’s close and next year’s crop of never-before-seen designs, what have we learned? Why are we being gifted such inspiration?

What associative ideas do they generate? What emotions do they trigger? Where do they mostly appear?

White Horse and Star Guidance sextant Crop Circle, Alton Barnes, Wiltshire

White Horse and Star Guidance sextant Crop Circle, Alton Barnes, Wiltshire

Many delving, however briefly, into this phenomenon would associate the random appearance of crop circles with that other kind of circle: the ancient and sacred stone circle. That the majority of designs in England has focused on the hallowed precincts of great sacred sites like Avebury and Sillbury Hill, Wiltshire, Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire and within sight of ancient burial mounds of Hampshire is no coincidence. The same is true for appearances near ancient ancestral sites in other countries: Holland, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Latvia; even the Serpent Mound, east of Cincinnati, Ohio. In all this exotica, it is easy to miss one particular circle of great simplicity but infinite importance in the farmland of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which appeared at the end of Lammas, 1995.

A little patience and we can find a context, a common link.

First off, like the siting of ancient stone circles, crop circle placement is not random.

Dowsers, diviners, engineers, television cameramen and aircraft pilots can all attest to electromagnetic anomalies occurring in cleared agricultural land where Neolithic and Bronze Age farmers placed their mounds, erected their trilithons, buried their dead. Feng shui proponents, who detect minute variations in electrical body pulses, have commented on the extraordinary fluctuations of energy contained within the relatively small area concentrated on Wiltshire’s sacred sites; Alton Barnes, with its twin village Alton Priors, rank high on the electromagnetic scale. It is not surprising, therefore, that this select valley houses not only the prehistoric White Horse, but was home to Milk Hill swallow configuration (2008) and multiple coded designs in 2009: whirling dolphins, star tetrahedron and the sextant (star navigational instrument) created in three stages; contemporary appearances at Alton Priors include – in perfect timing – the exquisite eight/infinity symbol of 08/08/08 (August 8, 2008) and the swallow with coded tail of June 2009.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to watch your compass needle fluctuate wildly at Yatesbury, Wiltshire; a newly-charged car battery die on the edge of a field at Sillbury Hill, near Avebury or your camera spontaneously recharge in the centre of a newly-laid crop design at Alton Barnes. These magnetic phenomena are commonplace to students of ‘leyline’ energy meridians, with which the Wiltshire basin and Cotswold range are filled. But it is significant that Yatesbury was home to the dragonfly glyph of June 3rd and Phoenix of June 12th 2009. Sillbury Hill has always deviated instruments; its great chalk mound resisting man’s excavations to discover its secret; but it opened its fields to decoration of extraordinary complexity on August 3rd, 2009 when plain swirled circles were found to contain at their centres the intricately woven patterns reminiscent of the medieval corn-dolly craft.

According to a representative of the British Feng Shui Society, an area of Britain ranking second only to the Avebury-Yatesbury-Windmill Hill energy vortex is the largely forgotten agricultural plain of Scotland–lying between the 56th and 57thN parallel–in the counties of Angus, Aberdeenshire and Banff. World attention has focused on names like Bishops Cannings, the Roundway, and Chiselden. But how many have heard of Sunhoney, Easter Aquhorthies, Culsalmond or Old Rayne?

Among the excitement of first circles decorating Wiltshire and Oxfordshire in the 1990s, the contemporaneous appearance of a single swirled design in wheat in Aberdeenshire was overlooked. Yet their locations–within ancient sacred landscape, in proximity to prehistoric ritual sites of previously huge importance to a country population–and the time of year in which they appeared have a common link.

In ancient times, the Celtic calendar revolved round the farming year: birds start to nest at Candlemas (February 2nd), Vernal Equinox fields are prepared for sowing; Beltane (May 1st) held a huge fire festival celebrating the seeded land; fire festivals were perpetuated ritually and with deliberate intent, until well after the Reformation. Only then did Church and State combine to desecrate such ritual, relegating it to the realm of pagan superstition (pagan = L. paganus = country-dweller), implication: simple country folk knew no better. Midsummer solstice was a time of rejoicing for the bounty beginning to appear in fruit and crops; Lammas (August 1st) marked the onset of harvest, usually over by autumnal equinox; and the Celtic Year ended and began anew with the festival of Hallowe’en/All Hallows Day. Christmas was superimposed on the earlier festival of winter solstice, when the land was in almost total darkness, with farming people praying for the return of the Light.

In an abundance of festivals, the greatest for agricultural and rural families was that of Lammas. While its pivotal date was August 1st, the festival coincided in a good summer with the actual harvesting of grain. In most communities it began three weeks before and continued until three weeks after that date–ending around August 24th. Through the medieval centuries, every community in the Land had a Lammas fair dedicated to the local patron saint, a Horse Fair, a fair to compete, display wares, buy and sell food, fruit and harvested bounty.

Annual horse fair and Travelling People's Market, Aikey Brae, Buchan

Annual horse fair and Travelling People's Market, Aikey Brae, Buchan

Aberdeenshire, like many of the southern counties was rich in such events. The names, if not the actual ethos of the celebration, linger in local names. Old Rayne has its Lourin’ Fair; annual Aikey Fair occurs at Aikey Brae near Old Deer. And Culsalmond had the greatest fair of them all: St Sair’s Fair. Named after one of the earliest Brittonic saints to spread Christianity in the North, St Serf was the patron of the St Sair’s Horse and Feeing Fair. Not only serving as a forum for employing (feeing) farm servants, it attracted horse and cattle fanciers from all over the kingdom. While Aikey and Lourin continue to show horses, St Sair’s Fair did not survive World War II.

The stance at Jericho on the Hill of St Sairs has dissolved into the sod of the Glens of Foudland, like the tiny chapel to St Sair which used to mark the spot. Even after such fairs were officially banned in 1660, St Sairs was going strong in 1722. Horses were being traded in 1917 on the hill. Change in farm practices and two wars were its undoing.

What is significant, however, is not that great stallions used to parade these hallowed slopes, but that St Sairs happened within a sacred enclave of ancestral ritual circles, burial mounds and avenues just like Avebury and Sillbury Hill. The Culsalmond recumbent stone circle lies buried among the gravestones of the ruinous pre-Reformation kirk; Neolithic carved stone balls were found on the farms of Jericho, St Sairs and Waulkmill, within a sacred avenue flanked by three stone circles and two burial mounds. Bronze Age urns from Colpy and Upper Jericho have, along with charred body parts and Neolithic carved stone ladles, found their way into museums in Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh and London. More than one hundred flint arrowheads and several hundred flint implements have disappeared from this ancient place–and the archaeological record.

It was here on the last day of Lammas 1995 that a crop circle sent a reminder–a simple swirled design in wheat–to trigger in this ancient landscape a memory of connection to its agricultural past and, perhaps, if we are listening, the key to our communal future.
©2009Marian Youngblood

October 11, 2009 Posted by | crop circles, culture, Prehistory, sacred geometry, sacred sites, stone circles | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 441 other followers