Archive for the ‘Celtic ritual’ category

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Many great historical documents have been lost in intervening centuries of ‘acquisition’ or political manipulation by other races since Patrick’s time.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

Lunar Standstill: Returning to the Cradle of Civilization

September 27, 2015

Full Moon Perigee—Eclipse @ Moment of Moonrise—California PDTime—Four Nights of Light

Earth and Moon in Eclipse–rarer than 18.6-year wobble at Standstill—courtesy SOHO

Earth and Moon in Eclipse–rarer than 18.6-year wobble at Standstill—courtesy SOHO

When the Ancients calculated ahead in time to the most spectacular tracking through the Heavens visible to the ‘greatest number of peoples of Earth’, it was foretold, we should all become visionaries. 2012 received much kudos and focus, but what if the Maya Long Count Calendar were three years out? What if the Egyptian and Assyrian and Indo-Arctic peoples were right, after all?

Tonight’s the Night, Josephine
Tonight it all comes into coalescence:
In North America at least, because of wide television and media publicity, a huge surge of population will raise their eyes to view the ‘closest blood moon’ to come our way. Actually, media moguls are only partially right: it is the closest to Earth—perigee—in the moon’s orbit round us for this year, but it is also the closest—cosmically—in breaking time-space barriers that will come our way once in a long time.* Tonight’s full moon—appearing most spectacularly in California at her stage entrance in the east, as she enters total eclipse AND as the sun is setting due west–is the crux of the 2015 Minor Lunar Standstill.

Now and over four nights the Harvest Moon will appear to rise and set at roughly the same place—and within moments of the same hour—on our east horizon, setting due west at dawn—in concert with sunrise— under identical conditions. Tonight’s total eclipse is a bonus of the Standstill.**

Closeness to Earth may appear to add vibration to her brightness.

Full equinoctial Standstill Moon Eclipse at moment totality breached, Sept. 27/28, 2015, courtesy Gail Slaughter

Full equinoctial Standstill Moon Eclipse at moment totality breached, Sept. 27/28, 2015, courtesy Gail Slaughter


As for the tides, wow. Similar extremes: as high as seven feet; then ultra lows less than the ‘normal ‘six hours apart. Even the fishermen are confused. But abalone love moonlight.
*PDT Moon enters eclipse at Moonrise 7:11p.m. exits totality after approx. one hour, 8:11p.m. or: enters totality beginning at 10:11 p.m. EDT, ends at 11:24 p.m. EDT.

Ancient Man thought the Moon had come to a nineteen-year cyclical Standstill. Its so-called wobble created an enormous spread of cultural carvings in stone throughout the Neolithic world.

Are we any wiser for our anthropocine leap through time?

Twenty thousand years ago—18,000 B.C.—myth and legend were one. Man looked to the heavens for guidance and to check the weather, and then went out and found another flesh-eating animal to kill and cook on the sacred fire embers.

We may believe civilization has evolved way beyond that amygdalian impetus, but in the opinion of Maya calendrical scholar and astronomy buff, John Major Jenkins, we have barely scratched the surface of ‘civilization’.

SEPTEMBER REMEMBER, OCTOBER ALL OBER

Shifing aurora borealis erupt over Anchorage AK 9/19/15 at height of CME storm

Shifing aurora borealis erupt over Anchorage AK 9/19/15 at height of CME storm

Current notions about cultural evolution refers to a type of social Darwinism in which human society today is supposed to be hierarchically more refined and advanced in every essential way than our grunting? dirty, cave dwelling, ‘primitive’ Neolithic ancestors. This view is naïve; compare life in a typical Third World urban slum of today with the cosmopolitan city dwellers of Alexandria 2,000 years ago. Technology and science is not the barometer of cultural sophistication. Social Darwinism has entered the realm of cliché, although still to a surprising degree it holds currency in the underlying assumptions of many people, including scholars—John Major Jenkins on preface to Hamlet’s Mill de Santillana & von Dechend 1969

Heavenly intervention—in the form of repeat eclipses—is an aspect of Metonic cycle that has always intrigued.

As the sun, moon and earth return to the same relative positions, the pattern of eclipses of moon and earth repeats every nineteen years. A six-hour difference in the lunar draconic cycle, however, is enough to throw the eclipse repeatability out of kilter, but up to four eclipses may repeat around the same dates nineteen years apart, before this happens.

Lunar standstill calendar, NatiMuseum of American Indian, Washington DC

Lunar standstill calendar, NatiMuseum of American Indian, Washington DC

June—too soon
July—stand by
August—come it must
September—remember
October—all over
Hurricane ‘creation’ rhyme, Bahamas 1940s, now outdated, outclassed by year-round storms

ANCIENT OF DAYS—AUTUMN EQUINOX 2015—Repeating the Cosmic Loop—Eclipse, Standstill Harvest Lunar Wobble

Four dominant periods* are 18.6 years—the precession period of the lunar orbit— and 182.6 days or half a year; 13.7 days or half a month, and 9.3 years—the rotation period of the moon’s return to perigee.

The primary nutation of 18.6 years drives two other observational cycles:
the Saros cycle (18 years, 11 days) and
the Metonic Cycle (19 years)

2015 Eclipse Solar Lunar Cycles replicate Ancient Egyptian Astronomy
The great Zodiac of Dendera at Luxor, established during Roman rule 50B.C. and superimposed on the archaic Egyptian temple to Hathor, celebrated the wobbling moon.

The cause of this weird wobble cycle is the precession of the lunar orbit around us, on Earth.

Photographed from ISS: our galaxy, our planet, our moon in eclipse—surrounded by AIRGLOW

Photographed from ISS: our galaxy, our planet, our moon in eclipse—surrounded by AIRGLOW

The Sun’s gravitational pull also brings about a precession of the Moon’s orbital axis, within a period of 18.6 years. Precession advances locations at points where the moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic—at the nodes.

Maximum moonrise and moonset invariably repeat every nineteen years.

Literally, after exactly nineteen solar years the sun will return to the same position relative to the stars—our view of the heavens—and the moon will have nearly the same phase—with a two-hour difference in its cycle.

Significantly, repeat eclipses will occur on the new or full moon nearest to the sun’s passing through one of the nodes.

Sun + Moon conjunct astral nodes. Ancient eclipse prediction practice returns equinox 2015 to surprise skywatchers

Sun + Moon conjunct astral nodes. Ancient eclipse prediction practice returns equinox 2015 to surprise skywatchers

This sacred numeric calculation was much appreciated by the Egyptians, followed by the Greeks, Carthaginians and all early northern peoples, including pre-Celtic Arctic nations. As the dates of the new moon, full moon, would repeat every nineteen years, it naturally fell within cultural knowledge of the privileged. It became ‘mystery schools‘ fodder.

For any given solar calendar date, full Moon events will replicate every nineteen years.

This creates a cyclic loop back to pre-Celtic mythic nineteen Priestesses of Bridget/Brigantia. Each of these individual priestesses represented a character or experience associated with nineteen components of the Great Lunar Year. This relationship creates an excellent basis for cyclic pattern divinations.

*Lunar Standstills
Because of the 5.1 degree tilt of the moon’s orbit with respect to the ecliptic, the moon may be anywhere within 5.1 degrees above or below the ecliptic. During major standstills the moon reaches a declination of 23.5 plus 5.1 degrees or 28.6 degrees; major standstills occur every 18.6 years. At minor standstill the greatest declination that the moon reaches is 23.5 minus 5.1 degrees or 18.4 degrees.

Antikythera—Ancient Astronomical Prediction Device

Antikythera 2000-year old Greek analog computer geared to predict astronomical positions of sun, moon, major planets and constellations. Eclipses were used for calendrical and astrological divination for the Olympiads, 86B.C.

Antikythera 2000-year old Greek analog computer geared to predict astronomical positions of sun, moon, major planets and constellations. Eclipses were used for calendrical and astrological divination for the Olympiads, 86B.C.

This means that every 18.6 years, the rising or setting Moon reaches a northern extreme in rising and setting azimuth at summer solstice, and a southern extreme at winter solstice. These are called major standstills. While such standstills can in principle be determined using horizon observations, as with the summer solstice Sun the Moon’s year-to-year angular displacement along the horizon at summer solstice is very small near standstill. It should be noted that 18.6 years is measured from the point of view of the lunar orbit. Observationally, from the Earth’s surface, the length of time between two major standstills is not 18.6 years: it switches back and forth between 18.5 and nineteen years, with 18.6 years a modern observational average.

Post Scriptum In Death We are in Life The Hajj Stampede
It is with regret that we observe the panic-related crush of death which came this week in Thursday’s New Moon pilgrimage—Hajj—to the Saudi shrine of Shrines. Ancient texts note death and life are one. Yet our condolences nonetheless.

Hilal [waxing lunar crescent]—First ‘New Moon’ Sighting sends Seven Hundred to their Death

Hajj—pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia—annually calculated to fall on waxing lunar cycle

Hajj—pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia—annually calculated to fall on waxing lunar cycle

2015’s Hajj—Pilgrimage of self-denial after month of fasting during Ramadan. Many believers were delirious with joy, even at the concept of being within sight of the shrine, staggering to follow fellow devotees in the sacred circumambulation of their faith’s most hallowed Mosque. Yesterday’s unfortunate panic—two fully locomotive swirling streams of humanity colliding at an intersection in the holy city—crushed and killed 736, leaving for dead thousands of adherents and lost family members in an Arab/Persian/Islamic nightmare.

With life so precious, may we all enjoy the miraculous Antikythera provided by the Heavens tonight and for the next few…
…millennia.
With gratitude
©2015Siderealview ©Marian Youngblood
Equinox 2015


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