Archive for the ‘Celtic ritual’ category

Nechtan’s Pictish Nation—8thC Strongholds of the New Religion

September 29, 2019

PICTISH PETERKIRKS IN ABERDEENSHIRE & MORAY—
King Nechtan’s 8thC Stone Strongholds of the New Roman Religion

Pictish 8thC stronghold of Duffus, near Elgin had its own stone Peterkirk at Gordonstoun, Morayshire

If Pictish sagas were unearthed from oblivion into which they descended after A.D.843 ‘union’ with the Scots, Nechtan, High King of Picts, last in the Heroic Age of Pictish warriors, anointed leader of his people, evangelizing monarch, would top the bill.

In a reign of less than thirty years (706-729), Nechtan of Derile—who held matrilineal sacred stronghold lands of Darley-Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, and hunting forests stretching as far as royal Duffus on the Moray coast, above—brought deliverance to his northern peoples from Dark Age beliefs. Dissolving petty rivalries with Scots’ Dal Riata on the West, he united his nation through church, wealth, and powerful alliances. He was one of few Pictish royals to die in his bed (†732).

In Northumberland, just south of the border with Pictland, Anglian church historian Bede wrote a contemporary account during Nechtan’s reign. He died within three years of the great king. Contemporaneous Annals written at Iona are particularly detailed at this time too; so accurate sources are not lacking. Bede was a meticulous researcher, especially in ecclesiastical matters, and Nechtan was considered both spiritually and socially enlightened by the Anglian church.

Aberlemno Class III (mid-9thC) Pictish carved stone depicts seminal battle of Nechtansmere, 685, which consolidated Pictland/Prydein independent of Northumbria & Anglian church

In the quarter-century prior to Nechtan’s modernizing ways, two of the most powerful northern nations fought a battle which was to be a cultural watershed. Nechtansmere—A.D.685, May 20th—was fought on Pictish soil at Dunnichen Moss near Forfar, in southern Pictish heartland between Angles and Picts under Bridei son of Bili. A Pictish victory—and death in battle of Anglian King Ecgfrith—it radically put an end to Northumbrian interference in Pictish affairs. The solitary small outpost of Anglian religious education at Abercorn-on-Forth was closed, and its monks politely asked to return to Northumbria. Bridei paraded Northumbrian Ecgfrith’s body around the country and had him ritually buried on Iona.

The two nations returned to relatively amicable relations until the end of the century.

Six years later Nechtan was to take the throne.

He came from impeccable matrilineal succession of the Royal house. He was cousin to Bridei son of Bili, c.672-693, who had fought ‘for the inheritance of his (maternal) grandfather’ at Dunnichen, when Nechtan was an impressionable child at court.  So the cataclysmic turnaround of affairs which resulted, of great Northumbria having to hand back part of conquered Pictland to the Picts, must have made a deep impression on him.

When he came to the throne in 706, following his brother Bridei son of Derile (697-706), Nechtan son of Derile was well-versed in power, spoke fluent Latin, knew ecclesiastical ropes and how to wield them—and understood the importance of allying himself with Rome. By contrast, the rustic, colonial Celtic Church of Columba centered on Iona, was fumbling along traditional lines—out-of-date and unaware of major changes happening with its powerful neighbor. In addition to works of its celebrated founder, Iona was famous for one other historical gem, without which we would all be lost in the Dark Ages.

Iona kept a series of remarkable ‘Chronicles’.

Eight Great Brittonic Nations
For the most part these were written contemporary accounts of major incidents and alliances of the eight great nations which made up ancient Britain: from Cornwall in the south, through ancient Wales, Man, Anglesey, Dunbritton (Dumbarton), Strathclyde, Anglia (Northumberland) and Prydein (Pictland).  Many copies were made and originals are now lost. It is accepted within historical circles that each ‘nation’ had its own chronicle and an original Pictish Chronicle existed as a separate series of documents held at Pictish church centers like Deer, St Andrews and in the Pictish capital, Forteviot. None survives.

While not available to us until recopied in the 12th century, the ancient origin legend of the kingdom of the Picts is preserved in an Irish quatrain:

Royal Forteviot’s triumphal Arch fragment, c.8thC, from the Pictish palace in the capital Fortriu—Dunning—modern Perth & Kinross

‘Morsheimer do Cruithne clainn raindset Albain i secht raind: Cait, Cé, Cirig, cétach clann Fib Fidach, Fotla, Fortrenn Ocus is o ainm gach fir dib fil for a fearand’ Seven of Cruithne’s children divided Alba into seven divisions: the portion of Cat, of Cé, of Cirig a warlike clan, the kingdoms of Fife, Fidach, Fotla and Fortriu and the name of each of them remains upon his land

These were sub-kingdoms of Nechtan’s great realm—in the north, Cat (Caithness), Cé (Mar and Buchan)* and Fidach (Moray and inland Banff)*; south of the Mounth—Cirig became Magh Circenn, plain of the Mearns; Fib (‘Kingdom of’ Fife), Fotla (Atholl) and center of the court, Fortriu (Forteviot). By contemporary standards, it was a massive kingdom to administer and rule.   *Kingdoms of Fife and Forgue in Buchan retain ‘kingdom’ status to this day.

Thirty Years of Peace—and Peterkirks
Nechtan’s childhood included education at court by monks from the highest monasteries of the day. He was fluent not only in Latin but in all northern British dialects, and learned Gaelic on visits to Iona, which he maintained through contact with a Columban familia of monks who attended his brother Bridei’s court. An enclave persisted from the time Anglian Abercorn mission returned south of what became the permanent border. In spite of Abercorn’s closure, good relations were maintained with the Anglian church through contact with Northumbrian Jarrow. This was a clever device allowing the Pictish court to be fully informed on church doctrine via both outlets: Iona created a Celtic connection with the Irish church; Northumberland provided a direct line to Rome.

Within five years of his accession, Venerable Bede records that Nechtan decided to ask his powerful Northumbrian neighbours—descendants of those who fought and lost in 685—for advice on how to go about building stone churches throughout his kingdom, along the lines of those already spreading in Anglia, ‘in the manner of Rome’.

He was aware of the strategic nature of his request. As a powerful ally, not only would his wish be granted, but by spiritually kneeling before Rome, he was joining a European alliance of other wealthy and powerful nations.

Bede’s superior, Abbot Ceolfrith of the Jarrow monastery, responded volubly, subsequently sending architects to Nechtan to assist in his nationwide reform.  They helped build the first Peterkirks, revolutionary buildings in stone named, like the citadel in Rome, after the first apostle of the Roman Christian mission. It served to create another schism with Iona, whose missions were rustic, simple constructions of earth and rubble.

Ruinous Cistercian Abbey on site of Deer foundation & Peterkirk in Buchan, where Pictish monks penned the 10thC Latin Book of Deer

These stone structures were to become the first network of Peterkirks throughout Pictland, many of which survive, at least in name. From St Peter’s at Restenneth in Forfarshire through the Mearns (Meigle, Tealing). Over the Mounth—mountain range dividing present Kincardine and Aberdeenshire from Mar and Buchan—foundations to Peter were placed at Glenbuchat, Peterculter, Aberdeen (Spittal), Fyvie, Peterugie (Peterhead), Deer, Rathven-in-Enzie (now Buckie), Bellie, Essil-Dipple, Duffus, top, Drumdelgie and Inveravon.

Because they were made of stone—compared with earlier turf monastic cells—they were in the later Buchan vernacular called ‘fite kirks’—white, as in gleaming stone. Two of these survive, albeit altered, at Tyrie in Buchan and Rayne in the Garioch.

‘Hammer of the Scots’ Edward I sends Oaks in Apology

Morayshire’s Peterkirk at Gordonstoun School’s west avenue is a 13thC reconstruction of the original 8thC stone building. Recorded as ‘savagely burned’ by Edward I in 1298, the English king repented and sent the then Rector a ‘gift of twenty oak trees to help with repairs.’ Now roofless, remains of Duffus Peterkirk feature a 14th-century tower and finely vaulted 16th-century porch.

Along with his request for physical assistance, Nechtan asked for guidance in the correct calculation and maintenance of Easter tables. This question had been a matter of stigma among northern kings since the religious controversy at the 664 Synod (gathering) of Whitby—present Yorkshire—nearly fifty years earlier. Columban Iona maintained calculations by an antiquated calendar, a lumbering process which sometimes had east and west celebrating on wildly differing dates. Anglian Northumbria was more modern, calculating according to tables approved by popes in Rome.

Essentially papal calendars were never going to celebrate alongside their Jewish counterparts. Easter had to fall after spring equinox, but separate from Passover.

Easter for the Picts was obviously a festival which was going to catch on, accustomed as they were to sacred seasonal celebrations. A wave of new religion spread like wildfire through a nation only recently converted in pockets by wandering monks.

The North did not have to wait long for Iona. It ‘converted’ officially in 716. By then Nechtan was already in full progress: Roman tables were in use, stone churches were being built nationwide in the name of Peter; Pictish monks now wore ‘Roman’ tonsure. All the Pictish king had left to do was to thank his southern neighbors politely for assistance and, equally politely, ask the Jarrow monks at court to leave.

In his first decade as king, he consolidated a strong alliance, formed the matrix of a new religion for all his peoples, and, because with religion came learning, initiated a process to educate at least his Pictish upper classes, thus making his kingdom a superior Christian power. If he had retained the Columban familia at court, its monastic simplicity would have continued to relate religious matters to ‘conversations with God’. By introducing a building program, Latin instruction via the church and the correct way to celebrate the highest festival of that religious body, he elevated his nation into the light—but a light which he as supreme ruler controlled.

Church Under ‘Servitude’ After Fashion of the Picts
It was a brilliant concept by a northern king to spread religion by secular means.

Significantly, 175 years later, when Scots ruling dynasty was struggling with an essentially Pictish concept it had inherited in its takeover–the power of ‘lord over church’—King Giric (c.889) made history by ‘liberating’ the Church which was ‘under servitude up to that time, after the fashion of the Picts’.

Nechtan’s new wave relied heavily on his nobility for its introduction. In his large but scattered nation, wherever there was a lordly stronghold, there would be a private chapel. If no foundation already existed dedicated to British holy men of the previous century’s wave of wanderers, a stone church would appear in Peter’s name–the new fashion.

Copying out Easter tables and sacred Latin texts became the norm in schools for the educated. A Latin Pictish chronicle appeared. Previously the sole domain of Irish and Welsh monasteries, it contained a Pictish king-list celebrating and chronicling Nechtan’s royal line which Anglian, Welsh and Irish chroniclers were quick to copy. But, with the new wave came something which Picts across the land understood. The message was carved in stone.

Pictish Class II carved Cross slab in laird’s wing, Monymusk kirk

Class II cross-slabs date from Nechtan’s reform: either mounted warriors conversing with angels, or the cross carefully fused with pre-Christian symbols which were familiar, the message was clear: landed Pictish aristocrats are following in the ways of Christian heroes–and you can too!

In Nechtan’s second decade as king, centers for carving sophisticated new imagery sprang up everywhere: in Angus there is a cluster of Class II stones—at Meigle, Aberlemno, Brechin. The new religion took hold at centers around the Moray Firth—at Rosemarkie–a former Peterkirk–and at Kineddar-Spynie near the great Elgin stronghold of Duffus which had its own Peterkirk, above. There at least 26 fragmentary slabs have been found. An equal number have been unearthed at Tarbat-on-Beauly on the Black Isle, within monastic walls.

Easter, Roman Style, and St.Fergus as Pictish Emissary
Conservative Cé—Aberdeenshire provinces of Mar and Buchan—seem to have held out the longest: with only the merest scattering of cross-slabs within a huge proliferation of Class I pre-Christian symbol stones.

Four apostles in simple illuminated manuscript endpages of 10thC Book of Deer, Buchan, with 12thC margin notes in both Latin and early Gaelic

Exceptionally, it was at Deer in Buchan within that conservative culture that monks produced the exquisite sacred calf-vellum pocket gospel, left, The Book of Deer, now held at University of Cambridge.

A number of Pictish holy men played a rôle in Nechtan’s great plan. After all, Latin was not exactly a language the countryman was going to pick up spontaneously. Bede says Nechtan promised to introduce Latin usage for his people ‘insofar as their remoteness from the Roman language would allow.’

It was essential that his bishops–already fluent in Latin–should be completely familiar with Pictish patterns of speech.

St.Fergus chapel, Dyce Aberdeen 8thC Class II relief-carved Pictish cross stone with familiar symbols

Gone were the days before 585 when Irish Columba had needed an interpreter to speak to king Bridei son of Maelcon, at the Pictish court in Inverness. Nechtan used Picts to speak to Picts.

One of them—Bishop Fergus—attended Rome in 721 to sign papal decrees, on behalf of his royal patron. This saint features both south and north of the Mounth: as patron of Glamis at the center of cross-slab carving in Forfarshire; but, as Northerners know him, patron of Moy in Moray, St Fergus in Buchan and, most significantly, Dyce which has one of the few magnificent Class II cross-slabs, right, in Aberdeenshire. Cé was conservative, not pagan. The simple cross was already understood.

Nechtan’s Golden Age had begun, and it looked as if it might continue forever.
©2009-2019 Marian Youngblood

Canticle for a Lost Nation—Unlocking Ancient Interlace Woven into Cultural Myth

March 17, 2019

CANTICLE FOR A LOST NATION
Unlocking the Ancient Interlace woven into Cultural Myth

Neolithic Carved Stone Ball, found at Towie, Aberdeenshire 3000BC, in Museum of Scotland Edinburgh

For a nation proud of its heritage, its oral tradition and roots–supported by faithful descendants in all corners of the globe–we Brittonic Scots are remarkably careless with it. In part this stems from a history of being conquered. But suppressed belief and myth have a way of being treasured: a precious relic to be hidden from secular eyes.

Twenty-first century culture today celebrates fifth-century Brittonic peripatetic monk, Patrick who ‘brought the Church’ to Ireland. They wave shamrocks, hold parades and declare green themes in diverse locales through New York, L.A., Dublin and Hounslow. Rio de Janeiro and Boston, too.

A little background may be in order.

Britannia was an island of subdued people, glad to be abandoned in AD420 when the Romans walked out, left to themselves in a rich land with its own ancient culture.

Many great historical documents have been lost in intervening centuries of ‘acquisition’ or political manipulation by other races since Patrick’s time. He preached when sacred secret knowledge of the Dark Age was kept dark–maintained in recesses of the cultural mind, secrets rehearsed in saga and song–known in the historic Pictish era–to all.

Brittonic Patrick sent as a Slave to Ireland

Illuminated Chi Rho Gk. first letters of name of Christ in A.D. 8thC Celtic gospel Book of Kells, held Trinity College, Dublin

Ninth-century church annals, the Book of Armagh, includes a work by Patrick, his Confessio, in which he describes his life at a Roman villa in Britain, his capture by Irish raiders, and his seven years of slavery in Ireland.

Recovering his freedom, he returned to Roman Britain, recording that he was educated and ordained into the priesthood. He eventually succeeded in being sent as a missionary back to Ireland. He concentrated on the north and west of the country, achieving strong connections.

Patrick never claimed to have converted all of Ireland. But tradition has it that his mission began around A.D. 432. It was C.7th biographers Tirechán and Muirchú who credited him with converting ‘all the Irish to Christianity’ and won for him the status of national apostle.

Confused chronology in Patrick’s life came about when tradition merged the work of two monks—continental Palladius and (‘Irish’) Patrick of the Confessio.

There is not enough evidence to support traditional date, A.D.432, for the start of his mission, but a date of 492/493 is given for his death in Annals and biographies.

Little is known of the first impact of Christianity in Ireland. Traditions in the south and southeast refer to early saints who allegedly preceded St. Patrick, whose missions may have come through trading within the Roman Empire. The earliest date is A.D.431, when St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre in Gaul, with the approval of Pope Celestine I, proposed to send ‘Palladius to the Scots believing in Christ.’

After that, missionary history in Ireland is dominated by St. Patrick.

Caledonians Unsubjugated, Rome Withdraws
By A.D.368, just thirty years before Roman withdrawal from Britain, Ammianus Marcellinus describes tribes of the Priteni [Picts] split into two by the Mounth: northern Dicalydones and Verturiones in the south. To Roman authors, Priteni-Britanni were linguistically just another people of Prydein. By the post-Roman Dark Age, Caledonians had re-possessed their northern forests, the Fortriu people their rich lands of Perth and Fife.

Although Scots history is still untaught in schools, few deny knowing that Kenneth mac Alpin, c.AD843, united the kingdoms of Picts and Scots. Fewer seem aware that his dynasty–so bold and so desperate for fertile plains–carefully perpetuated the title of those he deposed, calling themselves Kings of Picts for another sixty years.

Alongside Pictish lands they annexed Pictish Law–a remarkable piece of diplomacy which survives in the basis of Scots law today.

Between the fifth and seventh centuries, the great forests of the Northeast were the domain of kings–Stocket, Kintore, Deer–a resource which ensured royal entertainment [the boar hunt] and feasts [deer and lesser animals] for warriors and entire communities, as well as wealth of timber and grain.

While none but the lordly burned wood in the fireplace of the great hall–most people cast peat for fuel–bounty of the forest—kindling—was available to all. This convention remains today in the understanding between tenant farmer and landowner/laird that while he may not cut down the laird’s trees, all windfall is his.

At least two royal strongholds survive.

These are not small domains like those confirmed in later medieval charters to royal burghs, but whole estates crowned by forests, nourished by rivers and centered round the ‘castle-hill’ [Brit.caer] of a noble family: in the south the Kingdom of Fife points to the king’s mound–Cinrimonaid, St.Andrews—made famous by Constantin king of Picts [789-820]; in the north the Kingdom of Forgue has its Place of Ferendracht–‘place’ in old Scots indicating a ‘peel’ or fortified mound of the heroic age.

There are others.

A.D.5th century pre-Christian Pictish carved stones in Aberdeenshire heartland Romans couldn’t sudue

In the North, earliest placenames give fairly good timelines, where the castle-hill [Brit/Pict. caer, castell] usually denotes early-historic occupation of the pre-Scotic Pictish period, like Kintore, Inverurie, with attendant royal chapels [Lat. capella, Welsh/Brit. eglys]-in the Northeast often seen in telltale ‘chapelton’ within ancient church boundaries, but separate from the later parish church. Compare rath/roth element at Rathmurriel, Rothney in Insch, which derive from 12th century settlements, like Flemings [Flinders] at Leslie.

Second early element Brit. eglys, easily identified south of the Mounth like Ecclesgreig in Mearns, ‘church of Giric’, is more elusive farther north, but does occur. There is one on the Banff coast–conveniently close to Pictish stronghold Dundarg–Strahanglis Point, ‘point of the valley of the church’.

Another clue to Pictish Christian foundations is the presence of a circular enclosed burial ground, like the one at Deskford within the precinct of the medieval laird’s Tower. At Fordyce on the North (Banff) Coast where remains of a Pictish tower dedicated to St. Talorcan stand, there is another. At Tullich-Aboyne one remains where the former church was dedicated to St. Nathalan, [d.679].

Language survival of Pictish Doric in Aberdeen
There are delightfully archaic, short, stubby single-syllable names in the language too, to satisfy our yearning for earliest beginnings.

It helps to remember that the parish system, discarded by modern mapmakers, transmits a clear layout of medieval churchlands, themselves descended from earlier chapels attached to Pictish strongholds.

By the seventh century, Pictish kings were fully Christian, educated from youth in the cultural milieu of a monastery. In the centuries before Gaelic became a court language, it was the language of the Northern Irish Scot [Americans have a convenient term for these Ulstermen: Scots-Irish]. More significantly, it was the language of Irish monastics, keepers of annals, copiers of sacred texts, educators of the nobility.

It is no accident that Iona came into prominence following the ministries of saints like Columba [d.597] and Adamnán [d.704].

The Church was common education for young nobles of ‘all four peoples’ of Britain, according to Northumbrian cleric Bede, writing at the end of the seventh century–Angles, Britons, Picts and Scots. By 690, there was a long tradition of wandering British monks, educated in the Irish church, returning to convert the peoples of their homeland.

Patrick, interestingly, is one of the few Britons who took the Christian message to Ireland [mid-fifth century].

Four apostles in simple illuminated manuscript endpages of Book of Deer, Aberdeenshire, c.f. Book of Kells below

British Ninian, d. c.432, founder of Whithorn in Galloway, is credited with inspiring several Pictish clerics of Northeast tradition. Drostan, Medan and Colm are sixth century saints, giving their names to foundations at Deer/Insch, Pitmedden/Fintray on Donside and St.Coombs in Banff.

Finnian and Brendan, both mid-sixth-century travelers, spread the word and their names to churches planted throughout Pictland; Brendan, known as the wanderer, did his conversions by sea; his name in Banffshire is Brandan or Brangan where his dedications run along the North Coast.

Ethernan patron of Rathen in Buchan died, according to Irish annals, in 669 ‘among the Picts’. He is patron of Kinnernie (Donside) and Banchory-Ternan (Deeside) [contra Brev.Ab where he is called St.Ternanus].

Illuminated apostles: 10thC Iona Book of Kells, now in Trinity College, Dublin shows Matthew as Man, Mark winged Lion, Luke the surgeon as winged Bull and John as Eagle

A contemporary Briton celebrated in southern Pictavia was St. Serf whose dedication at Culsalmond is rare north of the Mounth. St.Sair’s Fair was held here near Colpy until well after the Reformation. His other foundation was at Monkeigy [Keithhall], now Inverurie.

Marnan, 7thC patron of Aberchirder-Marnoch and Leochel, Lumphanan was celebrated long after his death with Marnoch Fair, held traditionally on second Tuesday in March.

Recent research suggests that portable crosses–roughly circular stones like pillows carved with a simple cross and pre-dating the eighth century [class II] Pictish cross slabs were the hallmark of these holy men. They reach far and wide.

Fish-shape ogham carved on rear of Pictish stone at St Fergus Chapel, Dyce-Aberdeen hidden in mortar for 12 centuries

Such compact Christian amulets surface in Aberdeenshire, temptingly close to early foundations. Cross-inscribed stones—with no other ornament—appear at Aboyne, Afforsk, Banchory, Barra, Botriphnie, Bourtie, Clatt, Crathes, Culsalmond, Deer, Dyce, Ellon, Fintray, Inverurie, Kinnernie, Logie-Coldstone, Logie-Elphinstone, Monymusk, Ruthven and Tullich.

A saint’s well where converts were baptized invariably lies close to these foundations. After the patron died, their relics—ranging from pillows of stone to crozier and bell—were treasured by the community.

A Fintray legend persists that St. Medan’s head was kept—wrapped in beaten silver—until melted down to make a communion cup for the (reformed) kirk. The head of the saint was kept at Banchory where t’Ernan’s bell, the ‘Ronnecht’ did not survive the Reformation; t’Ernan was patron of Findon, Arbuthnot and Slains.

One further legacy is the former pagan alphabet—ogham—carved in stone, reintroduced by early pilgrims as means of explaining Christian doctrine to the illiterate. Few remain in the north [Newton, top and Dyce, left] but their clear fish-tail shape had meaning to a populace venerating the salmon, carved locally on pre-Christian Pictish [class I] symbol stones. To new converts it simultaneously represented the fish symbol of Christ, Gk. Ikthos.

Ogham served as (Christian) stopgap until the art of [class II] cross slabs appeared in the next century. These cross-carved monoliths heralded nationwide conversion under King Nechtan who was to drag his kingdom out of the Dark Age and shine the light of revelation into early medieval Europe.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

Warlord Centres of Pictland: a Glimpse into the Lost History of the Scots

January 25, 2019

Renewed interest in Britain centers on outlying rural (pagan) carved stones & sacred Pictish strongholds/objects left by the Romans when they withdrew in A.D.420. Aberdeenshire heartland holds greatest treasures: Bronze Age beakers in museums; Roman pavements leading to C.5th Pictish carved stones of 12 sacred creatures & symbols; early-Xtian ‘Fite Kirks’ made of stone, when England was living in Dark Age straw huts.

Derilea's Dream: Memoirs of a Pictish Queen

Pictish horse and stronghold mound, Bass, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

The bard was asked who of the kings of Prydein
is most generous of all
‘And I declared boldly
That it was Owain’
The Gorhoffedd, 12thC heroic poem

The subject of royal lineage brings out the romantic in the scholar and the scholar in the romantic.

Lordship and kingship in a Pictish context has been given both treatments over centuries of scholarship, each with its version of history. Lately tolerance between disciplines allows students of literature, language and art history to communicate with archaeologists and pre-historians in a renewed attempt to investigate the rôle of royal centres in the Pictish kingdom.

Pictish kings and sub-kings ruled a nation which grew from a loose confederation of tribal groups in the third century to become a major political and land-owning force at the time of their takeover by the Scots in the ninth.

To describe them as a lost society…

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Winter Ends with New Year Beginnings

December 21, 2018

WINTER ENDS with NEW BEGINNINGS
Emerging from the Longest Night into a New Year

It is Solstice—the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This year—2018—it is also the night of the Full Moon—a cosmic coincidence which will not happen again until 2094.

Hogmanay now a World-Scots Celebration

Traditional Christmas pudding, oozing flaming brandy, courtesy Delia Smith

Meanwhile festivities are revving up for a week of celebrations in all corners of the globe—more glitzy in countries with the Santa Claus connection: the USA welcomes his reindeer to school halls and shopping malls. Yule logs burn in grates from Scandinavia to Scotland.

While New Year’s Eve is still a week away, around the globe Scots are preparing. They have their own name and a long rich heritage associated with the last night of the Old Year—Hogmanay.

Theories abound on the derivation of Hogmanay. While I favor the translation given by the Scots Dictionary—aguillaneuf=gift for a new year, below—there are others. The Scandinavian word for a feast preceding Yule was “Hoggo-nott” while the Flemish words (many have come into Scots) hoog min dag=’great love day’. Hogmanay can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, Holy Month, or the Gaelic, oge maidne, new morning.

Remembering that Mary, Queen of Scots grew up as child bride at the French court, the most likely source seems to be the French translated bodily to Scotland with her when she became Queen. ‘Homme est né’ (‘Man is born’) in France is the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged. Aguillaneuf is still celebrated in Normandy, and presents given at that time are hoguignetes.

Tar barrel flaming at Burghead on Auld ‘Eel ends with burning the Clavie at the ‘Doorie’ on the ribs of Pictish promontory beach fort

In Scotland a practice similar to Normandy was recorded, disapprovingly, by the Church:

It is ordinary among some Plebeians in the South of Scotland, to go about from door to door upon New Year`s Eve, crying Hagmane
Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1693

Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for 400 years, from Protestant Reformation c.end of C.17th until around 1950s. The reformed Kirk portrayed Christmas as a Popish or Roman Catholic feast and it was forbidden. Many Scots had to work over Christmas and their winter solstice holiday was taken at New Year, when family and friends gathered for a party and to exchange presents—especially for children.

Earliest known Gaulish Coligny ‘moon’ calendar of 13 months dates to A.D. 150

In the earliest known Celtic calendar, the Coligny Calendar of 13 moons (months), now in the Palais des Arts, Lyon, the year began at Samhain, November 1st Fire-Festival of the Dead. At this time the veil between this world and the Otherworld was believed so thin that the dead could return to warm themselves at the hearths of the living. And some living—especially poets, artists, clairvoyants and shaman/healers—were able to enter the Otherworld through the doorways of the sidhe, fairyfolk, like the stone-lined entrance to passage graves in Scotland and Ireland

When the Julian calendar was in place in Rome, the Coligny caledar was seen as the Gaulish equivalent of a 10-month/13moon year, beginning November.

Traditions before midnight on Samhain perpetuated in rural communities when the calendar changed to Gregorian (at the Reformation) such as cleaning the house on 31st December—including taking outside ashes from the fire, when coal fires were in vogue. There was a superstition to clear all debts before “the bells” at midnight.

On the stroke of midnight it is traditional to sing Auld Lang Syne. Robert Burns claimed his verse was based on an earlier fragment, and the melody was in print eighty years before he published in 1788.

Partying from Hallowe’en through Hogmanay
An integral part of Hogmanay partying which continues today is to welcome friends and strangers alike with warm hospitality; and to wish everyone a Guid New Year. The underlying belief is to clear out any vestiges of the old year—ancient tradition included literally sweeping the house clean—and preparing to welcome in a young, fresh New Year on a happy and positive note.

“First footing”—i.e. the first step over the threshold into the house after midnight—is less common now in cities, but continues in rural Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house, the First Foot should be male, dark-haired (believed to be a throwback from Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and/or whisky. These days, however, whisky and perhaps shortbread are the only items still prevalent—and available.

“Handselling” was a custom of gift-giving on the first Monday of the New Year, but this may also have died out.

Magical fireworks displays and torchlight processions through Edinburgh, Elgin and many cities in Scotland are reminiscent of ancient custom at pagan Hogmanay parties which persevered until the late C.20th.

Traditionally one New Year ceremony more reminiscent of American Hallowe’en involved dressing up in cattle hides and running around the village being hit by sticks. The festivities included lighting bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels down the hill—as is still practised in Burning the Clavie at Burghead, Morayshire—and tossing torches. Animal hide was wrapped around sticks and set on fire. This dense smoke fended off evil spirits. The smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.

Giant fireballs hefted by strongarm celebrants swing through Stonehaven harbor near Aberdeen on ‘auld ‘Eel’, old Yule

Some customs continue, especially in small, rural communities in the Highlands and Islands where tradition—along with language and dialect—are kept alive. On Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, young boys form rival bands, the leader of each wearing a sheepskin, while another member carries a sack. The gangs move through the village from house to house reciting a Gaelic rhyme. On being invited inside, the leader walks clockwise around the fire, while everyone hits the skin with sticks. Formerly, the boys would be given bannocks (fruit buns, similar to focaccia) for their sack before moving on to the next house. This tradition is reflected in American Hallowe’en, two months earlier.

Scotland’s Legacy of Ancient Customs
One of the most spectacular fire ceremonies to take place is in Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen on the Northeast coast. Giant fireballs, weighing up to 20 pounds are lit and swung around on five foot-long metal poles that need sixty men to carry them, as they march up and down the High Street. The origin of this pre-Christian custom is linked to Winter Solstice December 21st, with giant fireballs signifying the power of the sun’s return. The fireballs were believed to purify the world by consuming evil spirits in the New Year.

Confusing Samhain/Hallowe’en with Hogmanay is understandable. Longtime tradition holds them inter-dependent. Only the numbers have changed.

Eagle Nebula Pillars of Creation, NASA Space telescope

A theory of gravity is also a theory of space and time — Albert Einstein

According to current thinking, we have gone beyond conventional spacetime and are now floating somewhere in a ‘construct’ of our own imagination.

One hundred years ago Albert Einstein had his great insight.

A decade afterwards he revised his general relativity to include quantum theory. And yet a century later physicists are still beating the quantum drum, trying to figure how to work outside theoretical time, when physicists have always formulated their theories within a space-time framework.

Let the New Year reveal.
And don’t forget. Raise those glasses on Hogmanay.
©2018 Siderealview

Hallowe’en was Always Weird—A Look at Wynton’s 1420 Chronykil

October 31, 2018

MACBETH & THE THREE WEIRD SISTERS

The three witches—current version—in forecourt of Glamis Castle, ancient thanage in Angus, Scotland

Andrew Wyntoun, known as Andrew of Wyntoun (c.1350-c.1425), was a Scots poet, canon and prior of Lochleven & St Serf’s Insch, Aberdeenshire, where he is thought to have written this poem to his hero, Macbeth—11thC King of Scots, who died at Lumphanan fifteen miles distant. Wyntoun then became canon at St. Andrews, a most hallowed position for a cleric of his time. His greatest work (1420) is his Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland

‘All night he thought in his dreaming
That sitting he was beside the King
At a seat in hunting where his sire
Unto his leash had greyhounds two
He thought while he was seated thus
He saw three women going by
And those women then thought he
Three weird sisters most likely be

MacBeth cairn, Lumphanan, where the King of Scots was slain by Malcolm in 1057

A nycht he thowcht in hys dreamyng,
That syttand he wes besyd the kyng
At a sete in hwntyng; swa
Intil his leisch had grewhundys; twa
He thowcht, quhile he wes swa syttand,
He sawe threw wemen by gangand;
And thai wemen than thowct he
Thre werd systrys mast lyk to be.

*The first he hard say, gangang by,
‘Lo, yhondyr the Thane of Crumbawchety!’
The tothir woman sayd agane,
‘Of Morave yhondyre I se the thane!’
The thryd than sayd, ‘I se the kyng!’
All this he herd in his dreamyng…
Sone eftyre that, in his yhowthad,
Of thyr thanydoms he thane wes made;

Queen/St. Margaret’s arms—Lion Rampant & sacred Martlets around Christian cross

The fantasy of his dream
Moved him most to slay his overlord
…And Dame Gruoch, his sovereign’s wife
He took and left with her his lands
And held her both as his wife and queen
Which, before then, she had been
To his sovereign—queen living Queen
—who was Kyng with Queen Regnant
For few honours then had he (Macbeth)
Only the grace of lineage affinity

Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor
Shakespeare’s stirring predictions by the three witches to a dreaming king reaching for the throne describe the cauldron scene magnificently. Macbeth will not only become thane (mormaer) of Glamis (Forfar, seat of current Earl of Strathmore), thane of Cawdor (Cawdor Castle is Nairn seat of Campbell Thanes of Cawdor since 1320), but King of Scots—whose royal court in MacBeth’s time was the Palace of Scone, Perthshire.

Dupplin 6thC Pictish Cross Forteviot before removal to museum names Constantin son of Fergus King of Picts

Syne neyst he thowcht to be king,
Fra Dunkanyis dayis had tane endying.
The fantasy thus of his dreme
Movyd hym mast to sla his eme;
As he dyd all furth in-dede,
As before yhe herd one rede,
And Dame Growky, his emys wyf,
Tuk, and lef wyth hyr hys ly,
And held hyr bathe hys wyf and queyne,
As befor than scho had beyne
Till hys eme qwene, lyvand
Quhen he was kyng with crone rygnend
For lytil in honowre than had he
The greys of affynyte.

*Wyntoun’s Cronykil refers to Cawdor in Morayshire, as Moravia, but the closest the first witch comes to Glamis? is the Thanage of Glenbuchat? in nearby Donside as his Crumbuchaty. The second sees him as Thane of Moray, leading to the third witch’s prediction: ‘I see the King’.

Wyntoun clarifies: “Soon after that, still in his youth,
“Of those thanedoms he Thane was made.”

All this when his Lord was dead
He succeeded in his stead;
And seventeen full years he reigned
As King, as he was then, of Scotland.
During his reign were times of plenty
Abounding both on land and sea.
He was in justice right lawful
His laws fair to all.
When Leo X was Pope of Rome
As pilgrim to his court he came
And in his alms he gave silver
To all poor folk who had none
And always tried he to work
Profitably for Holy Kirk

Illuminated apostles: 10thC Iona Book of Kells, now in Trinity College, Dublin show Matthew as Man, Mark winged Lion, Luke surgeon winged Bull, John as Eagle

All thus quhen his eme was dede,
He succeedyt in his stede;
And sevyntene syntyr full rygnand
As kyng-he wes than in-til Scotland.

Corgarff Castle on the Lecht pass military route between Braemar Castle, Ft.George and Cawdor

All hys tyme wes gret plente
Abowndand, bath on land and se.
He was in justice rycht lawchful,
And till hys legis all awful.
Quhen Leo the tend was Pape of Rome,
As pylgryne to the court he come;
And in his almus he sew sylver
Till all pure folk that had myster;
And all tyme oysyd he to wyrk
Profitably for haly kyrke.

Wyntoun extols the virtues of his hero, Macbeth, who claimed the throne of Scotland through his mother’s kinship with Duncan—whom he killed in Elgin (Moravia, Moray). Rival Malcolm also claimed the throne through the female line. In Lumphanan, he succeeded in killing the wounded Macbeth and, (after stepson Lulach’s pitiful six months as king), took the crown to become Malcolm III (Canmore) of Scots in 1058. He married Saint Margaret of Scotland (1070-1093), bringing peace and prosperity to northern lands during his (long) reign of 35 years.

He and Margaret are credited with pulling Scotland out of the Dark Ages and into Medieval Europe.
©2018 Siderealview

Hogmanay—Time for Seeing Both Past and our Future

December 31, 2016

HOGMANAY—Prelude to New Year the Old Way

Here’s a wee dochan doris
Jist a wee drap, that’s aa’
A wee dochan doris
Afore ye ging awa’                    

There’s a wee wifie waitin’
At a wee but-‘n’-ben
But, if ye can say ‘it’s a braw bricht meenlichty nicht’
Ye’re aa’ richt, ye ken

Winter sun enhances frost crystals from high cirrus cloud, tocreate light mirages

Winter sun enhances frost crystals from high cirrus cloud, to create light mirages

We just passed winter’s shortest day.
The solstice: solar ‘standstill’, the point when the Sun appears to come to rest at the center of the galactic plane. It seems to stand on celestial equator, pausing in time, moving neither north nor south.

Four winter solstices ago, we planetary travelers collided with Galactic Center on December 21st, 2012, when the Great Cycle Calendar of the Maya comes to full rest; pause; restart.

Time and Light or Bread and Circuses
The Romans—a civilization we liken ourselves to more as time elapses—became so tired of their outdated Julian calendar, adding days, subtracting nights, that they elaborated on the earlier pagan rekindling of Saturnalia—extending a Hallowe’en thru Christmas holiday period into ten days of non-time in the run-up to January 1st and the New Year.

Khronos, Father Time—in his human persona Aeon—holds zodiac wheel in balance for human race

Khronos, Father Time—in his human persona Aeon—holds zodiac wheel in balance for human race

This respected period of utter chaos, drunken festivities, carnival and masqued balls was known as Saturnalia.

Not to be confused with current Hogmanay in Scotland.
While the Scots may already feel repercussions, there are certainly more to come—in the Empire and in now-disintegrated Scotland, Hogmanay will live forever, whatever the climate. Rhyme at top is traditional toast in broad Scots to test if you could outdrink them. Translation for dummies in comment section, below.

This year’s solstitial preparation for the New is a good time for pausing.
For all of us:

To contemplate how much we shall change in the coming year—because the Human Race is changing fast and we have changed radically in the past year—
To give thanks for the road that brought us here to this point in space and time and for this moment—before plunging into the maelstrom once more—
To bless all those immediately around us NOW—as well as our loved ones far afield—absent friends—and family gone to fresher fields—
A time to remember and a time to look forward—

Time and Light are on our side.

Time Warp and the Magic of Seventeen

Perfect bowl-shaped crucible zodiac chart for Hogmanay eve—with Uranus outmaneuvering Saturn—presages a receptive year for 2017

Perfect bowl-shaped crucible zodiac chart for Hogmanay eve—with Uranus outmaneuvering Saturn—presages a receptive year for 2017

Χρονος Kronos was God of and out of Time, Father Time

Κρονος A Titan who killed his father Ouranos—Uranus, Roman creator god
Both confused within Roman god Saturn.

KRONOS (Roman Saturn) was the primordial Greek god of time. In the Orphic cosmogony he emerged self-formed at the dawn of creation. He was seen as discorporeal, serpentine in form, with three heads—of a man, a bull, and a lion. He and his consort, serpentine goddess Ananke—Inevitability—enveloped the primordial world-egg in their coils and split it apart to form the ordered universe of earth, sea and sky. After this act of creation the couple circled the cosmos driving the rotation of heaven and the eternal passage of time

Kronos was depicted in Greco-Roman mosaic as Aeon—Eternity personified. He holds a wheel inscribed with signs of the zodiac and Gaia—Mother Earth—reclines at his feet, right. A.D.5thC. poet Nonnus of Panopolis described Aeon as an old man with long, white hair and a beard, below, but mosaic-art presents a youthful figure—above.

The figure of Kronos was essentially a cosmological double of the Titan Kronos/Cronus—Father Time. Confusing the heirarchy, Hellenist culture sometimes merged Kronos with creator-god Phanes, and occasionally with the Titan Ophion.

Χρονος /Kronos self-created master of Time

Χρονος /Kronos self-created master of Time

No wonder we in the 21stC are confused. Drawn irrevocably to the madness of twelve days out of Time—just enough to feed our inner spirit, before we have to step back into the so-called real world when January hits.

ThunderSnow four inches on the Coast Range; chains required. Freezing hail in Mexico, battling a weak tropical front.

Thundersnow! Even the weather forecasters have given up; while in California, agriculture and home farmers are grateful for any seasonal precipitation, to allow the parched earth some semblance of moisture catchup, before the growing season starts all over again.

Hope for the Human Race to begin again with new resolution?

There is no Planet-B

Coal-fired industrial smog shuts down Chinese cities Beijing and Hangzhou

Coal-fired industrial smog shuts down Chinese cities Beijing and Hangzhou

Even resolutions can be broken. Two years ago the Western nations agreed to a climate resolution. There are many who are doing their utmost to stick to clear healthy living, with clean healthy energy.
And there are those who are not. Marrakesh Climate Talks notwithstanding, United Airlines, one of the last American flight providers to operate within United States, as well as internationally, has closed its service to northern University town Eureka/Arcata, but has opened two new flight services to mainland China.

The mind boggles.

As does our inner spirit—watching and waiting for us to catch up with our human selves in a real grasp of what we are doing to our Pale Blue Dot—our only home—until they colonize Mars.

May we—at least some of us—wake up before that. They say seventeen is a good number.
Happy New Year.
©2017 Siderealview

Old Endings New Beginnings—Death and Regeneration in the Age of Scorpio

October 26, 2015

HUNTER’S MOON HERALDS CELTIC NEW YEAR
Fireworks in the Sky for Hallowe’en/Guy Fawkes

Ancient custom SoCal style—Ghostbusters-inspired Hallowe'en frivolity in the glitz capital

Ancient custom SoCal style—Ghostbusters-inspired Hallowe’en frivolity in the glitz capital

Orionids began the whole celestial fireworks show by scattering fragments of leftover comet Halley (orbit period 76 years) last Tuesday night, October 20th, as we hovered at Scorpio’s door. Ostensibly meteors came from the head and spear of Orion. The Hunter, however, forever pursuing the Pleiades through the northern sky, lies 1,344-Light-Years distant from us, while Halley’s cometary fragments skidded past within a skittish 50-miles overhead.

Brit Guy Fawkes mask, traditional Bonfire Night mingled with Hallowe'en, is  banned in Persian Gulf as anarchist

Brit Guy Fawkes mask, traditional headwear for Bonfire Night mingled with Hallowe’en, is banned in English Ex-pat Reserves in Persian Gulf as anarchist

Halloween 2015 approaches, and with it British Guy Fawkes’s revolutionary—but foiled—attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605 Gunpowder Plot, celebrated throughout the English-speaking world. It is hard not to feel a revving up of cultural unrest, mirrored in grand scale on the celestial tapestry overhead. Following recent eclipses, planet conjunctions and lunar standstill moments to light up the sky, the Heavens continue to give us a box-office show right through our transition into autumnal Scorpio restriction, Saturnine beating our not-so-savage breast, and our cultural winding down of the Creational Clock—to primordial death.

And regeneration.

Earth’s Crustal Plates in state of Flux
It is horrific to learn of devastation caused by last weekend’s two massive 7.5-magnitude and 7.1-mag. Richter scale earthquakes, interrupting an unusual lull in quakes worldwide. Both are causing havoc and tragic loss in Hindu Kush and Vanuatu.

Earth's tectonic crustal plates: Himalayan upthrust mirrored by Pacific plate displacement in Sunday's  shock in Vanuatu

Earth’s tectonic crustal plates: Himalayan upthrust mirrored by Pacific plate displacement in Sunday’s shock in Vanuatu

While in Afghanistan, fears surface that such ferocity will open subterranean faults to the Ganges and Bangladesh, Pacific plate movement in Fiji shows equivalent turmoil only 50 miles deep. Both tremors were forecast.

Algol as Demon Star
Media traditionally tries to displace or make light of world tragedy by focusing attention on the cultural caricature. The current fave demon star is Beta Persei, otherwise known as Algol in the constellation Perseus. The star’s archaic name comes from the Arabic for ‘head of the ghoul’, or ‘head of the Demon’, because it appears to die and come back to life.

Why did early stargazers name this dual star for a ghoul—demon? Beta Persei, otherwise Algol or the Ghoul Star* was known to flicker. Ghoulishly, it was also seen in folktale as Medusa’s hair. Entwined within a legend of a star that fades and returns mysteriously from the Realm of the Dead.

Sound familiar?

Ancient astronomers calculated its rhythm and guessed—rightly—that its twin star system, with the dimmer of the two bodies passing in front of the brighter, has a regular beat. It causes Algol to shine in spurts—to pulsate. So, throughout the ancient world, Algol was seen as a demon or monster, who, as we know, is the Devil’s familiar. Centuries of observation have proved Arab astronomers’ calculations. 2015 Astronomy forecast is for Algol to reach minimum brightness late Friday night, October 30th 2015 at 11:52 p.m. in central U.S.A. (October 31st 04:52 Universal Time).

*To find the Ghoul Star: look for constellation Perseus—cuddling Andromeda—in the northern evening sky. Perseus lords over the northeast sky, above the bright star group Capella and The Kids (lower left of Perseus) and the Pleiades star cluster (lower right).

Greek and Roman culture associated the star with the Head of Medusa, monster-woman, whose fearful countenance struck a man to stone. Snakes in place of her hair were additional encouragement not to stare.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 2.09.58 PMWhen the dimmer of the two stars passes in front of the brighter, Algol shines at minimum brightness. Astro forecast calls for Algol to reach minimum brightness late Saturday, October 30th, at 11:52p.m. Central time, U.S.A. (October 31st 4:52UTC).

Ancient astronomers were fully aware of the influence the heavenly bodies’ movements had on their population. Greek and Roman culture controlled their populace by providing—not only bread and circuses—but also seer-oracles with miraculous predictions to affect their worlds.

Meteorite held as sacred fire from Heaven in sanctuary of Hellenic Oracle at Delphi and in Saudi Mecca's Inner Sanctum

Meteorite held as sacred fire from Heaven in sanctuary of Hellenic Oracle at Delphi, and in Saudi Mecca’s Inner Sanctum

A meteorite, a “Zeus-fallen thing,” was kept in the Temple of Venus on Cyprus, and another in the pre-Hellenic Temple of Apollo at Delphi, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus in Greece. In Rome, a piece of sky iron, regarded as a heavenly shield upon which the tenuous security of the state depended, was cared for and guarded by a special order of priests.

Most famous holy meteorite is called the Black Stone, Hadshar al Aswad. Mounted in silver, it sits in a place of honor in the Ka’aba, the sacred shrine at Mecca, and is circumambulated by all Muslim devotees who make the Hadj, the requisite holy pilgrimage. The sacred stone has a vulvic-shaped cleft which suggests ancient pre-Islamic goddess worship. It is attended by a phalanx of men called the Sons of the Old Woman.

Arabic and Arab culture dominated the sky: star names still bear their mystical Arabian names—their connotations striking fear in believers’ breasts. It may even put goose bumps in ours.

Algol is one of these.


TRIPLE PLANETARY CONJUNCTION SHINES BETHLEHEM BRILLIANCE

Jupiter Venus and Mars triangle in pre-Dawn Eastern sky

Saturn moves out as Sun moves into Scorpio. Get started on the Grand Plan: all signs in 1st/2nd house

Saturn moves out as Sun moves into Scorpio. Get started on the Grand Plan: all signs in 1st/2nd house

To counteract all the willies, hoolies and ooeys, there is contrast—thank the Angels—in the morning sky.

If we have learned anything from last month’s astounding sky tapestry, it is that celestial cycles are never-ending. And there is a rhythm which we normally-oblivious humans can attune to—if we take the time to do that.

Lunar standstill provided the springboard for repeat eclipses, close encounters of heavenly bodies with Earth, and an awareness

    that galactic fireworks can be to us—as they were to our ancestors—a source of gratitude and awe for the Great Beyond. Now—tonight—one month farther into this miraculous heavenly cycle of an amazing year—three cycles later than Mayan predictions—we prepare for Hunters’-Harvest full Moon: closest tightest brightest full moon combination of highest tides, lowest rainfall, highest land temperatures and greatest earth movement and tectonic mayhem since the last cycle.

    Pacific plate movement is merely a reflection of crustal displacement along the Himalayan upthrust, according to NOAA and USGS. It helps to remember, however, As Above So Below. And it was independently forecast.

    Azimuth, angle and rising times coincide miraculously to give us a pre-dawn display all week until Ghoul Hour

    Azimuth, angle and rising times coincide miraculously to give us a pre-dawn display all week until Ghoul Hour

    Ancient astronomers, students of celestial expansion and collapse, would have been amused by our (modern) human frailty and lack of vision, in midst of clear cosmic signs that all is well in Star Worlds.

    All this week—prior to and immediately after Tuesday (tonight’s) full moon, where our cultural sight should be set is perhaps less on poor old Sol, led by Saturn into Scorpio’s western clutches over the Pacific.

    Brilliant Venus, in conjunction with Jupiter above, and dimmer Mars below, 4:45a.m. October 25, 2015 looking East

    Brilliant Venus, in conjunction with Jupiter above, and dimmer Mars below, 4:45a.m. October 25, 2015 looking East

    Rather should we look East: Shake our culture shackles and set the alarm to get up before dawn—with Daylight Saving Time imminent—November 1st—this is an easy 6a.m.event. Then feast our eyes on three miraculous planets—Jupiter, Venus and Mars—rising in conjunction within minutes of the Sun’s brightening rays. Each dawn they can be seen, dancing a jig: vying a little each morning for position, getting closer and yet closer into a conjunction mazurka, which will separate and scatter in early November.

    Two thousand years ago, such a spectacle would have inspired pilgrims. If we suspend 21stC. disbelief, their heavenly beauty might also inspire us to pause briefly in our headlong millennial crawl over the edge.

    If we are all spared~~and allowed to Return from the Dead on Sunday~~ 😉
    ©2015 Siderealview


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