2021

On The Antiquities of Arran (4): Machrie Moor and the Samothrakean Mysteries

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Is it possible, still, that the ancient gods can influence the modern world. Recent investigations of mine have landed my personal supposition on the notion firmly in the YES camp. It all begins with my first glimpse of Samothraki, last summer, about this time of year actually, when I remarked to myself how like Arran the island appear’d – a great mountainous heap on an isolated island, with lower levels spread either side of the peak. Fengari Mountain & Goat Fell are both about the same size & rise like jagged dragonsteeth from the sea & anyone seeing both peaks can only assume they were crafted by the same forces.

On Samothraki is the anciently famous Sanctuary of the Great Gods, which I visited last year & was inspired to recreate the Mysteries once held there – Alexander the Great’s mum & dad were two initiates who met during the ceremony. On visiting the sprawling complex I was inspired to recreate the Mysteries from the scraps of detail recorded millennia ago – the following two posts ( a video) show the idea & its fruition.

Reconstructing the Samothrakian Mysteries

The Samothracian Mysteries

Roll on a year & I am conducting a chispological survey into the antiquities of Arran – see what I can dig up that has been missed. So let us revisit Machrie Moor, an amazing place I was last at a few weeks back. A century ago scholars had decided that because they found sepulchral remains in the circles of Machrie Moor, then this was their main purpose. However, holy sites in Britain have always evolved. It is not uncommon in the south of England especially to find a church built upon the site of a Roman temple, which in turn was erected on some pagan place of worship. It is possible, then, that the Machrie Moor complex had also evolved, from Pagan through Cronos worship into this fresh hyperbasis upon which I shall now attempt to show its one-time relationship with the Great Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothraki.

We begin with a 20th century American author, Jean Stafford, who noticed the connection between Corrie & Cora, inventing a rather spurious story about her being related to Alexander the Great, but adding an interesting detail that her ancestors had migrated from Samothraki to Arran. A strange start, admittedly, but as a Chispologist I see the latent possibility in the village Corrie of being connected to the Goddess Cora, also known as Persophone, the daughter of the great mother nature goddess, Demeter. This leads us then to Strabo, who on discussing the geographical writings of Artemidorus of Ephesus [late second-century BC], we read that, ‘his report about the goddesses Demeter and Core is more credible. He says that there is an island near Britain on which sacrifices are performed like those in Samothrace for Demeter and Core.’

Of course that only narrows the Samothracian mysteries to an island off mainland Britain, but the fact that the rites were performed in this area is both astonishing & also unacknowledged by academia! Those mysteries, by the way, were said to have been founded by two legendary heroes & brothers, Dardanos and Iasion, who became associated with the divine twins known as the Dioscuri. This then leads us to Diodorus Siculus’ discussion of Timaeus [early third century BC];

Historians point out that the Celts who live on the shore of the Ocean honor the Dioscori above other gods. For there is an ancient tradition among them that these gods came to them from the Ocean.

The Sanctuary of the Great Gods
Machrie Moor

One way of looking at that information is to place Dardanos and Iasion voyaging along the fringes of north west Europe, coming across the Samothracian looking Arran & deciding to set up a sister mystery ceremony. Perhaps. But if they did, then it must have been at Machrie Moor, a series of stone circles which seem to mirror the areas at Samothraki thro which the initiation ceremony convey’d. In the following image of Samothraki, the buildings themselves were erected over many centuries but noble patrons, but like I said before, these constructions may have been novel ‘improvements’ on earlier layers, which could well have been stone circles or something akin. This is a quote from my own post on Recreating the Samothrakean Mysteries;

The physical evidence of the Mystery ceremony can be found at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothraki, a sprawling religious pan-centurial site which contains the three sacred precincts which the initiate had to move through in order to complete the Mystery procession. These were the preliminary Myeses, the Telete & the Epopteia. One school of thought states that after a prospective initiate had been prepared in the Sanctuary’s Sacristy, the Myesis took place in the Anaktoron’s main hall, followed by the Telete in the inner adyton at the building’s north end. Once this concluded, the mystai (initiates) could proceed to the Hieron where they acquired the higher degree, the epopteia.

I will leave this post with one last hint at the background to what I now believe is the sacred colony of Samothraki that had been set up on Arran. We begin with a passage from Diodorus Siculus discussing the mysteries;

And Iasion is reputed to have been the first to initiate strangers into them and by this means to bring the initiatory rite to high esteem. And after this Cadmus, the son of Agenor, came in the course of his quest for Europê to the Samothracians, and after participating in the initiation he married Harmonia, who was the sister of Iasion and not, as the Greeks recount in their mythologies, the daughter of Ares.

This wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia was the first, we are told, for which the gods provided the marriage-feast, and Demeter, becoming enamoured of Iasion, presented him with the fruit of the corn, Hermes gave a lyre, Athena the renowned necklace and a robe and a flute, and Electra the sacred rites of the Great Mother of the Gods, as she is called, together with cymbals and kettledrums and the instruments of her ritual; and Apollo played upon the lyre and the Muses upon their flutes, and the rest of the gods spoke them fair and gave the pair their aid in the celebration of the wedding.

The claim is also made that men who have taken part in the mysteries become both more pious and more just and better in every respect than they were before. And this is the reason, we are told, why the most famous both of the ancient heroes and of the demi-gods were eagerly desirous of taking part in the initiatory rite; and in fact Jason and the Dioscori, and Heracles and Orpheus as well, after their initiation attained success in all the campaigns they undertook, because these gods appeared to them.

The key nugget here is the mention of Agenor, who I believe is present in the Pictish King List as Agam/Agnoiun at the very start of the Pictish arrival in Britain.

The children of Gleoin, son of Ercol, took possession of the islands of Orcc, that is, Historend, son of Historrim, son of Agam, son of Agathirsi


Cruithne, son of Cinge, son of Luctai, son of Parthalan, son of Agnoiun

Which leaves us perfectly poised for the next installment of The Antiquities of Arran, where I shall be associating the island with the Hyksos diaspora…

On the Antiquities of Arran (3) : Sacrifice on Stronach Ridge

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There has been a new development to my time on Arran. But before we step forth upon the evolution, here is one last sonnet from my Sannox explorations, with rather a lovely name I think;


ON LOSING A HAT BELOW THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL

Following the bob of the deers’ head guide

I scamper’d up my first Arran hillside

Not quite a goat, not even younger man

But, damn it, let me do the best I can

For I shall dwell the best part of a year

Upon these stones, where bones of mountaineer

Who died a lonely death, a broken pile,

Lies hidden in some crevice peristyle;

On scene-sunk ridge I gulp’d a morsel thrill

But storming midgies meant no standing still

Until I froze, & found I’d lost my hat

A good one, & my only one at that

Destin’d to join the lost lives Arran’s claim’d,

Ungarnish’d & ungarden’d & unnamed.


As for my personal progression, I have found a patron here, who seems a fan of my poetical intellect & historical instincts. One could say Clio & Calliope have gone to work. The gentleman lives in England, but has a holiday home on Arran & after a most serendipitous meeting he has leant me his house &, better, still, his copious cornucopia of archeology books, including many on Arran itself.

A couple of days after we met he took me on a small expedition to the woodlands behind Brodick School, parking the car near the entrance to Glen Rosa. It was not too deep into the forest that we came across certain slanting rocks on which were carved cup marks & some images that looked like circles & keyholes. 

I also noticed certain channels & after a while I I began to get the notion that because there were two channels per circle – the legs of the keyhole so to speak – there might have been some kind of oracular purpose based upon the blood flow of sacrificed animals, or even humans. I.e. putting a bird or a human heart in the circle & seeing where the blood flowed, either the yes or the no channel.

My new friend said he’d never heard that before & a few days later after he’d left for England I began to analyze his library in search of more information on those markings.

In the very famous 2 volume Book Of Arran by J.A. Balfour (volume 1 – archeology 1910), there is a chapter by Fred T Coles entitled ‘Cup & Ring-Marked Rocks: Stronach Ridge, Brodick,’ which immediately gave me the name of the place I had become curious about – Stronach Ridge. In 1910 Mr Coles had made a special examination & drawings of the site for the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which Balfour reprinted.

Of the images, Coles writes;

These designs, though never hitherto noticed in Scotland in anything like the same number, have their cognates elsewhere. For example, on a rockat Gillroannie, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, there occurs just such a plain oval ‘boss’ as is found here on Stronach Ridge… & in Yorkshire, on a stone near the Panorama Stone, & on other surfaces in that neighbourhood, near Ilkley.

In a later book of the 20th century, ‘Exploring Arran’s Past’ Horace Fairhurst adss a little more correlative knowledge;

Examples of comparable decorated surfaces occur notably at Kilmichael Glassary & other sites in Mid-Argyll, & again around Gatehouse of Fleet. Boulders with man-made cup markings on them are common in various parts of Scotland, including Kintyre, but they seem to be scarce on Arran.

As a scholar of Pictish history, I also noticed the similarity between the ring marks & one of the Pictish symbols, monicker’d the ‘Disc & Rectangle.

At this point in my study I would like to bring to your attention a certain passage in Hector Boece’s 16th century history of Scotland. In recent centuries Academia has debated & argued its way through the possible meaning of the Pictish symbols, but perhaps Boece knew the answer all along; 

Those who died fighting the Britons should be honored with conspicuous monuments, and obelisks should be erected over their tombs to match the number of men they had killed. A large quantity of these obelisks can still be seen in the Highlands. In later times the custom arose that the tombs of the most famous and distinguished men were held in veneration like shrines, and men would build cairns of stones and erect large ones on which were inscribed the shapes of fish, snakes, and birds (that age used these instead of letters of the alphabet for writing arcane things), to advise passers-by who they were and what fair things they had achieved in life.

A very early Pictish presence on the island could well be connected to the cairns mentioned by Boece & also Thomas Pennant, who tour’d the Scottish highlands in 1772. Of the cairns, Balfour writes;

The Chambered Cairns of Arran are chiefly distributed over the southern half of the island. It is probable that many examples of this class of monument have disappeared owing to the extension of cultivation. Since the date of Pennant’s tour (1772) a number of great cairns which he describes have wholly vanished.

I shall be analyzing the very early Pictish connection to Arran in the next ‘episode,’ which the cairns might be a relique of. My studies are definitely gonna happen now, I’m sure, for I’ve been bless’d with a sense of security & permanence. My bookshop is up & running, as is the ground coffee beans element which I’ve introduced to my ‘revenue stream.’ Indeed, I feel rather safe, blessed even, to continue my investigations into the Antiquities of Arran.

Samuel Johnson on Pope & Dryden

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Sir Joshua Reynolds famous portrait of Dr Johnson
Sir Joshua Reynolds famous portrait of Dr Johnson
 

Dryden’s page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation; Pope’s is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller.

As tradition ebbs & flows, so fashion comes & goes, & there can be no more of a fashion in English poetry than the more than a century long fastidious passion of the neo-classical couplet. Beginning in the mid seventeenth century & lasting all the way up to the dawn of the Romantics, of the poets who composed in the form there are two which may be considers as the true musical composers of the language. If Milton was a church organ, then Dryden & Pope were symphonies with strings. Pope’s reputation as a poet has always fluctuated. Some ages dote all over him, while others deny him even the title of a poet, as in Hazlitt’s;

The question, whether Pope was a poet, has hardly yet been settled, & is hardly worth settling; for if he was not a great poet, he must have been a great prose writer, that ism he was a great writer of some sort.

For me, Pope was a poet inhibited by poetical experience. Physically invalided, he never really travelled & his poetical creation was confined to books & his prodigious imagination. But a poet he has to be, his Iliad is the greatest transcreation in the English language, a real store house of my language’s phraseology, diction & vocabulary – a true epic lacking only its author’s original muse. Indeed, it was Dryden’s own work with the epic of Virgil that seems to have inspired Pope to his Iliadic task. Coleridge writes, in his Biographia Literia;

Of the two poets, & their differences, Samuel Johnson remarks with acute dissemination. The following passages come from his 1781 ‘Life of Pope,’ so obviously contains a slight bias to Pope, but it is in the comparison with Dryden that we gain such an accurate judgement of both men’s abilities.


In his perusal of the English poets he soon distinguished the versification of Dryden, which he considered as the model to be studied, and was impressed with such veneration for his instructer that he persuaded some friends to take him to the coffeehouse which Dryden frequented, and pleased himself with having seen him.

Dryden died May 1, 1701, some days before Pope was twelve: so early must he therefore have felt the power of harmony, and the zeal of genius. Who does not wish that Dryden could have known the value of the homage that was paid him, and foreseen the greatness of his young admirer?

Pope had now declared himself a poet; and, thinking himself entitled to poetical conversation, began at seventeen to frequent Will’s, a coffee-house on the north side of Russel-street in Covent-garden, where the wits of that time used to assemble, and where Dryden had, when he lived, been accustomed to preside.

He professed to have learned his poetry from Dryden, whom, whenever an opportunity was presented, he praised through his whole life with unvaried liberality; and perhaps his character may receive some illustration if he be compared with his master.

John Dryden

Integrity of understanding and nicety of discernment were not allotted in a less proportion to Dryden than to Pope. The rectitude of Dryden’s mind was sufficiently shewn by the dismission of his poetical prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to apply all the judgement that he had. He wrote, and professed to write, merely for the people; and when he pleased others, he contented himself. He spent no time in struggles to rouse latent powers; he never attempted to make that better which was already good, nor often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little consideration; when occasion or necessity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when once it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind; for when he had no pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude.

His declaration that his care for his works ceased at their publication was not strictly true. His parental attention never abandoned them; what he found amiss in the first edition, he silently corrected in those that followed. He appears to have revised the Iliad, and freed it from some of its imperfections; and the Essay on Criticism received many improvements after its first appearance. It will seldom be found that he altered without adding clearness, elegance, or vigour. Pope had perhaps the judgement of Dryden; but Dryden certainly wanted the diligence of Pope.

In acquired knowledge the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastick, and who before he became an author had been allowed more time for study, with better means of information. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images and illustrations from a more extensive circumference of science. Dryden knew more of man in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners. The notions of Dryden were formed by comprehensive speculation, and those of Pope by minute attention. There is more dignity in the knowledge of Dryden, and more certainty in that of Pope.

Poetry was not the sole praise of either, for both excelled likewise in prose; but Pope did not borrow his prose from his predecessor. The style of Dryden is capricious and varied, that of Pope is cautious and uniform; Dryden obeys the motions of his own mind, Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden’s page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation; Pope’s is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller.

Alexander Pope

Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet; that quality without which judgement is cold and knowledge is inert; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates — the superiority must, with some hesitation, be allowed to Dryden. It is not to be inferred that of this poetical vigour Pope had only a little, because Dryden had more, for every other writer since Milton must give place to Pope; and even of Dryden it must be said that if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems. Dryden’s performances were always hasty, either excited by some external occasion, or extorted by domestick necessity; he composed without consideration, and published without correction. What his mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought, and all that he gave. The dilatory caution of Pope enabled him to condense his sentiments, to multiply his images, and to accumulate all that study might produce, or chance might supply. If the flights of Dryden therefore are higher, Pope continues longer on the wing. If of Dryden’s fire the blaze is brighter, of Pope’s the heat is more regular and constant. Dryden often surpasses expectation, and Pope never falls below it. Dryden is read with frequent astonishment, and Pope with perpetual delight.

This parallel will, I hope, when it is well considered, be found just; and if the reader should suspect me, as I suspect myself, of some partial fondness for the memory of Dryden, let him not too hastily condemn me; for meditation and enquiry may, perhaps, shew him the reasonableness of my determination.

The chief help of Pope in this arduous undertaking {The Iliad} was drawn from the versions of Dryden. Virgil had borrowed much of his imagery from Homer, and part of the debt was now paid by his translator. Pope searched the pages of Dryden for happy combinations of heroick diction, but it will not be denied that he added much to what he found. He cultivated our language with so much diligence and art that he has left in his Homer a treasure of poetical elegances to posterity. His version may be said to have tuned the English tongue, for since its appearance no writer, however deficient in other powers, has wanted melody. Such a series of lines so elaborately corrected and so sweetly modulated took possession of the publick ear; the vulgar was enamoured of the poem, and the learned wondered at the translation.

Poetical expression includes sound as well as meaning. “Musick,” says Dryden, “is inarticulate poetry”; among the excellences of Pope, therefore, must be mentioned the melody of his metre. By perusing the works of Dryden he discovered the most perfect fabrick of English verse, and habituated himself to that only which he found the best; in consequence of which restraint his poetry has been censured as too uniformly musical, and as glutting the ear with unvaried sweetness. I suspect this objection to be the cant of those who judge by principles rather than perception; and who would even themselves have less pleasure in his works if he had tried to relieve attention by studied discords, or affected to break his lines and vary his pauses.

On The Antiquities of Arran (2): Machrie Moor, Stonehenge & the Worship of Saturn

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The History of the Isle of Arran

Time has advanced my stay on Arran by a few weeks now, leading to me leaving my job at the hotel & in a few days opening the island’s first second hand bookstore in many years. A suitable base for a poet to have his office, close to both the opening of Glen Rosa & the sea, I hope to lead a fulfilling expedition into the antiquities of Arran. It will be called NINE BEES BOOKS, with the nine bees standing for ‘Burnley boy Bullen’s braw banter, butties, brews, browsing & …’ I think I might check ‘booyakasha’ in there somewhere. The butties & brews reference alludes to my wanting to sell proper ground coffee & open a spinach & sandwich bar.

As for my previous employment, I left the hotel after an incident. To cut a long story short, if you dont sub your breakfast chef a bottle of wine til morning, he won’t be making breakfast. That’s an old Burnley proverb, that is. But its also given me the freedom to be true to myself – a poet should be working on poems in the morning, not poached eggs. Then history in the afternoon, where I have made an important early breakthrough, I believe. 

On the western side of Arran one finds the cosmically wonderful series of stone circles upon Machrie Moor. I visited the area the other day with my wee dog Daisy, who had escorted me to Arran with a load of stock for the Nine Bees. While she was cuddling up to the tourists I just sat awhile & ponder’d on the history of its ancient uses – long lost to us now; BUT, I believe I have made the first into exhuming the first bones of their religious rituals. The key is simple – understanding that a double circle of stones, such as those erected at Stonehenge & Machrie Moor (number 5), are astral mirrors of Saturn & its ring(s). This infers some kind of ancient worship of Saturn (Roman), or Cronos (Greek), of which there is definitive evidence, both epigraphical & archeological.

1: Epigraphical Evidence

In Plutarch’s moral essay ‘On the Face appearing in the Orb Of the Moon,’ the journeys of a certain ‘stranger, are narrated to him by Sylla the Carthagean, who had heard the tale himself from the servants of the temple of Cronus in Carthage, where the ‘stranger’ had recently visited. The key passage reads;

An isle Ogygian lies far out at sea,’ distant five days’ sail from Britain, going westwards, and three others equally distant from it, and from each other, are more opposite to the summer visits of the sun; in one of which the barbarians fable that Saturn is imprisoned by Jupiter, whilst his son lies by his side, as though keeping guard over those islands and the sea, which they call ‘the Sea of Cronos.’ The great continent by which the great sea is surrounded on all sides, they say, lies less distant from the others, but about five thousand stadia from Ogygia, for one sailing in a rowing-galley; for the sea is difficult of passage and muddy through the great number of currents, and these currents issue out of the great land, and shoals are formed by them, and the sea becomes clogged and full of earth, by which it has the appearance of being solid. That sea-coast of the mainland Greeks are settled on, around a bay not smaller than the Mæos, the entrance of which lies almost in a straight line opposite the entrance to the Caspian Sea. Those Greeks call and consider themselves continental people, but islanders all such as inhabit this land of ours, inasmuch as it is surrounded on all sides by the sea; and they believe that with the peoples of Cronos were united, later, those who wandered about with Hercules, and being left behind there, they rekindled into strength and numbers the Greek element, then on the point of extinction, and sinking into the barbarian language, manners, and laws; whence Hercules has the first honours there, and Cronos the second. When the star of Cronos, which we call the ‘Informer,’ but they ‘Nocturnal,’ comes into the sign of the Bull every thirty years, they having got ready a long while beforehand all things required for the sacrifice and the games … they send out people appointed by lot in the same number of ships, furnished with provisions and stores necessary for persons intending to cross so vast a sea by dint of rowing, as well as to live a long men in a foreign land. When they have put to sea, they meet, naturally, with different fates, but those who escape from the sea, first of all, touch at the foremost isles, which are inhabited by Greeks also, and see the sun seng for less than one hour for thirty days in succession; and this interval is night, ended with slight darkness, and a twilight glimmering out of the west.

A shorter version of all that would go something like this: Greek colonists settled North America – the great continent – sometime in the distant past. Every thirty years – when Saturn enters the sign of Taurus – some of them set off for a holy island, somewhere in the ocean beyond Britain, said to be where Cronos – ie the earthly deification Saturn – was imprisoned. Once on the island, the acolytes would remain an entire cycle of Saturn then move on, one of whom ended up in Carthage to tell the tale. Plutarch writes; ‘he had a strange desire and longing to observe the Great Island (forso, it seems, they call our part of the world), when the thirty years had elapsed, the relief-party having arrived from home, he saluted his friends and sailed away.’

2: Archeological Evidence

If we look at the plan of Stonehenge & the planet Saturn from above, the resemblances are stunning. The two sets of rings are there, as is the central sphere. Around the latter at Stonehenge are two circles of post-holes – the inner containing 29 holes & the outer 30. These numbers actually correspond to the moment when the long-term observation of Saturn corresponds with the long term observation of the sun. A synodic periods is the time required for a body of the solar system to return to the same position relative to the Sun as seen by an observer on the Earth, which in Saturn’s case is just over 378 days. After 29 of these periods, we reach the same number of days – more or less – as those ticked off by 30 solar years. Thus Plutarch is accurate when he describes Saturn worship on a 30 year solar cycle, & anyone who happen’d to be at Stonehenge, & the first circle by reading the post-holes calendar would have known when the new acolytes would have been setting off from ‘The Great Continent.’ In addition, there is also a ring of 56 chalk-filled holes, known as the Aubrey Holes, which could relate to 56 synodic periods of Saturn matching 717 lunar months, & the fact that one more synodic period equals 59 solar years –  when the configurations of Saturn in the sky are repeated exactly two days later inthe solar year – perhaps to check the accuracy of the whole lunisolar calendar.


Ancient Observations of Saturn

The problem is – how did the ancients know about the rings of Saturn. We cannot see them with the naked eye, & apparently could not until the 17th century & Galileo’s invention of the telescope. HOWEVER, there are numerous & wondrous astronomical observations made by our ancients, among whom the ‘myth’ that Saturn was ringed, or held in chains, had spread far & wide. Perhaps the Greeks or some other people such as the Harrappan civilisation had possessed lenses adapted for the observation of celestial bodies, or were the rings around Saturn were visible to the naked eye at some time in the past? But however the ancients knew of the rings, they definitely knew.

In the Zend-Avesta it is said that the star Tistrya (Jupiter &, later, Venus) keeps Pairiko in twofold bonds, relating to Saturn’s girdle of two groups of rings. The text actually reads, “Tistrya, bright star, keeps Pairiko in twofold bonds, in threefold bonds.” A third ring around Saturn was observed in 1980! 

The ‘Pairi’ phonetic of the Zend-Avesta is present in the New Zealand Maori name for Saturn, Parearau. The word pare denotes a fillet or headband; while arau means “entangled”—or perhaps “surrounded” in this case. IIn The Astronomical Knowledge of the Maori, Genuine and Empirical, published by Elsdon Best in Wellington, NZ in 1922, he writes;

Parearau, say the Tuhoe people, is a wahine tiweka (wayward female), hence she is often termed Hine-i-tiweka. One version makes her the wife of Kopu (Venus), who said to her, “Remain here until daylight; we will then depart.” But Parearau heeded not the word of her husband, and set forth in the evening. When midnight arrived she was clinging to another cheek, hence she was named Hine-i-tiweka. Parearau is often spoken of as a companion of Kopu. Of the origin of this name one says, “Her band quite surrounds her, hence she is called Parearau.”

An ancient engraved wooden panel from Mexico shows the family of the planets: one of them is Saturn, easily recognizable by its rings (see Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico (London, 1830), vol. IV)

The Egyptian apellative for Osiris was “the swathed” & in Egyptian legend Isis (Jupiter) swathes Osiris (Saturn). 

The rings of Saturn are referred to by Aeschylus in his Eumenides: “He {Zeus} himself cast into bonds his aged father Cronus”

Mithraic representations of Kronos with his body encircled by a snake (see F. Cumont’s The Mysteries of Mithra [1903]) may attest to a memory of the rings of Saturn. Similarly, the Hindu Sani (the planet Saturn) shown in an ancient woodcut reproduced in F. Maurice, Indian Antiquities (London, 1800 – vol. VII), and described by the author as “encircled with a ring formed of serpents.” 

The Babylonian Tammuz, who represents Saturn, was called “he who is bound.” 

The statue of Saturn on the Roman capitol had bands around its feet.

An epigram of Martial reads, ‘these chains with their double fetter Zoilus dedicates to you, Saturnus. They were formerly his rings.”

In his Saturnalia, Macrobius writes, “Saturn, too, is represented with his feet bound together, and, although Verrius Flaccus says that he does not know the reason . . . Apollodorus says that throughout the year Saturn is bound with a bond of wool but is set free on the day of his festival.” 

In the early second century AD, in his Fourteenth Discourse Dio Chrysostom writes, “And yet the King of the Gods, the first and eldest one, is in bonds, they say, if we are to believe Hesiod and Homer and the other wise men who tell this tale about Cronus.”

The shrines to Saturn in Roman Africa portrayed the god with his head surrounded “by a veil that falls on each of his shoulders,” in a way reminiscent of the planet’s rings. See J. Toutain, De Saturni Dei in Africa Romana Cultu (Paris, 1894)

… & so on. The fact that the ancients knew that Saturn was surrounded rings is beyond doubt, the only question is how they knew. Perhaps Saturn was closer to Earth in the past, or a telescopic eyeglass was invented by some long lost civilisation.

Daisy & a ‘stranger’ at Machrie Moor

Cronos Worship off North-West Europa

Returning to Machrie Moor & its wonderful Saturnine first circle, one gets the feeling that this place especially of the Scottish stone circles is connected to Cronos worship. What else we know comes from Plutarch’s essay & some geographical speculations. A couple of weeks ago, while on Arran, I had a radio interview with the main Faroe Islands media company, who are thinking of putting a story of mine on their ‘Good Morning Faroe’ show. It basically goes that the prison island of Kronos was on the Faroe Islands themselves. My reasoning was that at the southern reaches of the islands – in Sudouroy, near the village of Lopra – stands a pyramidical peak – man made or natural – called Kirvi. Thename contains the initial phonetics of Kronos, & transchispers easily into the Akkadian (3rd-2nd millenium BC) version of Kronus – Kaiwan.

Kir-vi

Kai-wa-n

Pin on Terra
Mount Kirvi

The fate of Cronus differs across texts, but with Orpheus he is incarcerated in the cave of Nyx, a cave of night or darkness, which perfectly reflects the extreme northerness of the Faroe Islands & their ‘eternal’ nights & days. In Plutarch’s moral essay, Obsolescence of Oracles (DeDefectu Oraculorum) one of the speakers is a certain Demetrius, who in an aside remarks upon the eternalimprisonment of Cronus. He relates that Cronus was confined in a cave on an island close to Britain, guarded as he slept by the ancient Briareüs and various other daimones (demi-gods). The Faroe Islands are indeed close to Britain, & even record a local folk lore about Holy Man inhabitaing Sudouroy long before the Norse arrived.

As for the prison island given in Plutarch’s ‘On the Face of the Moon,’ somewhere in the ‘Cronian Sea,’ for me it feels as if Ogygia is phantasy – there’s no island 5 days west of Britain – but the three islands referre’d too are Iceland & the two equidistant’ islands the Faroe archipelago,& Greenland. The latter island then fits well with it being 5000 stadia – about 600 miles, from the ‘Great Continent’ – North America.

The sea is difficult of passage and muddy through the great number of currents, and these currents issue out of the great land, and shoals are formed by them, and the sea becomes clogged and full of earth, by which it has the appearance of being solid. That sea-coast of the mainland Greeks are settled on, around a bay not smaller than the Mæos, the entrance of which lies almost in a straight line opposite the entrance to the Caspian Sea.

The Gulf of Maine is both on the same latitude as the Caspian Sea &about twice the size as the Sea of Azov, called ‘ Mæos’ in classical times. The Gulf of Maine is the best waterway that matches Plutarch’s ‘great number of currents, and these currents issue out of the great land.’ Under the surface, the elevated sea flooor of George’s Bank shapes the floow of currents and divides the Gulf of Maine from the Atlantic Ocean south of Cape Cod. Two major currents, the Labrador Current and Gulf Stream, meet just outside this boundary. Within the Gulf of Maine, the coastline alters the course of cold water owing into the Bay of Fundy, forming a gyre that deteects water southward. As ocean water moves throughout the gulf, it transports heat, sediment, nutrients, and a variety of small organisms unable to swim against the current known as plankton. Currents carry the building blocks of the ecosystem on which all other marine life depends. This of course matches Plutacrh’s ‘ shoals are formed by {the currents}, and the sea becomes clogged and full ofearth, by which it has the appearance of being solid.’

In the same area, the native American tribe known as the Iroquois seem related to the ancient Lycians of Anatolia, who were said to have originated in Crete when it was still polulated by pre-Greek ‘barbarians.’ Is it possible, then, that at the same time Crete sent out its ‘Greeks’ to Turkey, some also cross’d the Atlantic. The matriarchal gynococracy of the Iroquois certainly recalls the Lycians of Anatolia as described by Herodotus.

One custom {the Lycians} have which is peculiar to them, and in which they agree with no other people, that is they call themselves by their mothers and not by their father; and if one asks his neighbour who he is, he will state his parentage on the mother’s side and enumerate his mother’s female ascendants. If a woman who is a citizen marry a slave, the children are accounted to be of gentle birth; but if a man who is a citizen, though he were the first man among them, have a slave for wife or concubine, the children are without civil rights

Lafitau, an early 18th century missionary to the area, show that the name of the Thracian goddess Bendis was derived from the same root as the Iroquois endi or enni, which meant both the ‘day’ and the ‘sun’, the bringer of light. In addition, as each Iroquois village was divided into three ‘families’, of the Wolf, the Bear and the Turtle. So also were the Spartans divided into the three Dorian tribes, and archaic Rome had its Tities, Ramnes and Luceres, whose names are too ancient for us to understand. We also have the name ‘Iroquois’ itself, with its Basque roots (koa denotes where a person comes from) suggesting another link to ancient Eurasia.

Nevergreen

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Brighton Fringe
28 th May – 27 th June, 2021


‘Nevergreen’ was a film created by a team of 10. Written by Gus Mitchell it was rehearsed, shot and edited during 2020 London lockdown. Freshly brought to this year’s Brighton fringe. Starring Katurah Morrish we were met with film footage of a living room that was minimal, though very stylish if dated. She took her time to introduce Rachel Carson who died at 56. Rachel was a writer, scientist, ecologist, and she in her time delved further than most into the world of nature and its assured
place in poetry.

Katurah’ energy as a huge fan of Rachel’s life and writings had her singing her praises in the indoor scenes of this movie/documentary/ theatrical event. We stepped with Katurah into a wood. It was a nice looking day, Rachel’s story was told intimately as we listened to her poetry that was so well constructed and sorted out.

She was alone outside in the wood and as time passed she told her emboldened thoughts “I grew up by the river.” Her illustrious poetry brought about such great happenings as she led her way in and out of existence using nature and imagination to make complete circles like the seasons passing.

The visual illustrations where all by the artist Ana Zoob, having movements of blues and greens and purples. The sound of bird song met with the sound of howling of wolves nearby. This contrasted with her narration of reading Rachel’s poetry that she spoke with long and big meaningful pronunciations.

Taking time to set the scenes she spoke with longing about the deep blue sea. She probed everything to find its essence, its journey, examining minutely with rhetorical resonations and revelations. Her questions were her greatest friend and she took on whatever journey she would find until the next journey.

The act of visiting the trees and rocks was shown as Katurah spoke in sincerity which was nice to be part of. It was told as if there and Katurah compelled us to listen with great focus on the things we were seeing in this journey into the beyond. Performed with a slight smile on her face, it began to speed up, as in a certain place a sense of urgency was introduced. All with wonderful visual art by Ana Zoob of souring and heartfelt illustrations of birds, insects who morphed in and out of life and served as a backdrop as the Direction of Eloise Poulton passed seamlessly.

But when she came to man she began to unravel. And with simple images of city skyline went into the destructive journey of man as they drag all else to the bottom in an inane and out of date striving for power. Rachel was saying that to be in nature is a far finer truth than it is to be separate or outside and without nature, logically suggesting that there is no place without nature, therefore we cannot be without it.

To strive into it, and think about it, and lie down in it and even gently touch a tree and rub leaves. And celebrate the poetry all around us and interwoven into all things. It had striking imagery and production and a very good case for the power of nature that is also in us, pleased and putting a slight smile on our face too. Making this point at the right time and certainly in the right place, But sharing it into an offering to the fringe of something so well written and finished.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly


Lord of Life

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Brighton Fringe
28th May – 27th June, 2021


For our next act in the 2021 Brighton Fringe came the amazing ‘Lord of life’. The Rhino loomed like a hero in pen and ink illustrations of Sally Scott who could never have drawn like that without reverence and compassion for the magnificent animal. In gentle terms this piece of poetry was selected from Norman Morrissey’s book ‘For Rhino in a shrinking world’.

He wrote about an account he had with a Rhino who visited him in his tent when he was asleep one night. The smartly short piece delivered such an amazing an endearing comment upon these animals and the situation we are putting them in. How can we be harming these creatures who as Norman wrote and Harry Owen and Roddy Fox were to read we are torturing for ornament and so called medication.

With these feelings flying the words came with a soft and sweet flavour which confronted our idea of what these animals are; graceful teachers who ever so gently breathed upon him like a kind nurse to nurture him and to ease his day. He wrote that it was an old white rhino with such touching poetry as to bring joyful and gracious tears of love to our hearts, it was really that deep.

The book ‘ For Rhino in a shrinking world’ was written towards the end of Morrissey’s life, making it all the more poignant as we imagine his encounter to have been quite magical though obviously very real. It was a movie of illustrations put together by In Tandem (which is poetry put to imagery) from the spoken word recited by Owen and Fox.

A beautiful eulogy whose message came from the heart and broken heart of one who loved the animals. We were left at his side and were taken beside the rhino itself as it so compellingly lives and breathed among us. With the slightest of composure set the editing of the film as to marvel at. So simple, soft and real, and so true and right in this time.

Daniel Donnelly


WATCH: LORD OF LIFE