Knockroe, county Kilkenny
Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland
A link through time
These two mystical European locations stand two hundred and fifteen miles apart, Knockroe is in county Kilkenny republic of Ireland and the other, Kilmartin is in Argyll, Scotland, about 15 miles south of Oban.
The reason I displaying these images in the same post is simply to highlight something that only occurred to me when one year I happened to visit them only weeks apart. The fact is you could view these two sites individually and study them by themselves all you like, however you would be missing something very important!
The people’s who created these sites shared the same time period and clearly the same beliefs and culture. They lived in Europe both in Ireland and Scotland located in the Geographical British Isles; however some 5500 years ago they knew nothing of recent nations and nationalism , of national borders or even the concept of a European nation.
Both monuments are passage tombs, placed for their dead to be remembered, they both also contain elements for marking the passing of the year and its seasons, by measuring the movement of the sun and the moon.
The structures in these places along with the cultural function they served is identical, to me this shows that these people traveled the seas and not only shared goods and beliefs they in fact where the same peoples. They did not just get on with each other through trade they were each other as brother and sister, mother and father, family and friends.
When they knew nothing of modern boundaries and divisions, what else could they be?
These same people who traveled from one place to another in order to expand their options and abilities did not in any shape or form see themselves as English or Scottish or Irish they were family to each other and nothing more or less!
Easter in Ireland is clearly these days viewed as a religious time in the sense of modern Christianity, however Easter or Ēostre, as a festival has been celebrated for many thousands of years before our current state accepted beliefs….
During last weekend we visited the hill of Tara one of Europe’s and Ireland’s oldest pagan monuments, It was a great time of the year to visit as the air was full of springtime with a feeling that summer was only just around the corner,warm days and long evenings. This is the exact feeling that surrounds the beliefs of the people who made this place so Sacred to their Pagan beliefs in the elements of nature and the seasons. I am never sure if these belief’s can fully be called a religion in modern terms, feeling that they were more a philosophy towards the world that they lived in and cared for very much!
here is a little about the long history of the hill of Tara:
Teamhair is the ancient name given the Hill of Tara. One of the most religious and revered sites in all of Ireland, it was from this hill that the Ard Rí, the High Kings of Ireland, ruled the land. The place was sometimes called Druim Caín (the beautiful ridge) or Druim na Descan (the ridge of the outlook). When walking the path that leads to the top of the hill today, one can easily appreciate why. The long gradual slope eventually flattens at the top for an amazing view of the broad plains in the Boyne and Blackwater valleys below. All that remains of the complex is a series of grass-covered mounds and earthworks that say little about the 5,000 years of habitation this hill has seen.
Most historians, including Biblical scholars, agree that Easter was originally a pagan festival. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary says: “The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo–Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.” However, even among those who maintain that Easter has pagan roots, there is some disagreement over which pagan tradition the festival emerged from. Here we will explore some of those perspectives.
Resurrection as a symbol of rebirth
One theory that has been put forward is that the Easter story of crucifixion and resurrection is symbolic of rebirth and renewal and retells the cycle of the seasons, the death and return of the sun.
Hill of Tara Gallery
Is a design engraved on one of the stones inside the middle chamber of Newgrange is probably the most famous Irish Megalithic symbol.
It is often referred to as a Celtic design, but it was carved at least 2500 years before the Celts reached Ireland. At 12 inches in diameter the tri-spiral design is relatively small in size, less than one-third the size of the tri-spiral design on the entrance stone.
Believed by many people to be an ancient symbol of pre-Celtic and Celtic beliefs, the triple spiral appears in various forms in pre-Celtic and Celtic art, with the earliest examples having been carved on pre-Celtic stone monuments, and later examples found in the Celtic Christian illuminated manuscripts of Insular art. The triple spiral was possibly the precursor to the later triskele design found in the manuscripts.
The megalithic tomb of Newgrange in Ireland features several examples of the triple spiral as petroglyphs. These particular examples do not feature three-fold symmetry of later renderings but feature two intertwined spirals with the third originating from the indentation between the other two. This particular feature is rendered with high fidelity in each instance at Newgrange and would suggest a non-tripartite interpretation. One possible interpretation could be the union of male and female (the two entwined spirals) to engender an offspring though how this relates to its setting in a tomb begs explanation.
Last night in order to highlight the uniqueness of the Newgrange spirals, I produced the following versions by tracing over a photograph I took of the original, thus producing different drawings using both the positive an negative spaces of the relief.
You can read into these your own interpretation of the original meaning ….
Ardgroom Stone Circle
Ardgroom (Irish: Dhá Dhroim, meaning “two drumlins”) is a village on the Beara peninsula in County Cork, Ireland.
Its name refers to two gravelly hills deposited by a glacier, Dromárd and Drombeg. It lies to the north north west of Glenbeg Lough, overlooking the Kenmare River estuary. It sits between the coast and the Slieve Miskish Mountains.
The area is also home to a number of megalithic monuments. Signposted is the Ardgroom stone circle to be found to the east of the village at a distance of about 1 mile, off the old Kenmare road. It has the name “Canfea” but is normally called the “Ardgroom” stone circle. About 1 mile north east lie the remains of another stone circle. The Canfea circle consists of 11 stones, 9 of which are still upright with one alignment stone outside the circle. Unusually for a stone circle, its stones tend to taper toward points.
You can park a car about 1/2km away in a small wooded area with the walk to the circle only being some five minutes. The location is wonderful with a view of the mountains behind and the west Cork, coast-line on to the front of the circle.
Just to spend sometime here is amazing as the circle is in very good condition with most of the stones still standing. This must have been some place three thousand years ago, remote, cut off from the rest of the world. These circles were most likely use to help small farming communities tell the time of the year, the passing of the seasons for which they used the moon as well as the sun.
Also in the vicinity are the remains of at least 2 ring forts, as well as a number of standing stones and stone rows.
The Irish great elk is an extinct species of deer it was one of the largest deer that ever lived. Its range extended across Eurasia, from Ireland to northern Asia and Africa.
The skull and antlers in the main image above are located in the old 11th century dining hall at Cahir Castle county Tipperary Ireland. With antlers spanning 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) this Skull hangs high on one of the gable ends of the hall and seams to fill the room with its presence.
It is some 7000 to 8000 years since these amazing elk walked around the Irish landscape, it is not fully known exactly why or when the became extinct but the most recent specimen of M. giganteus in northern Siberia, dated to approximately 7,700 years ago.
The Irish Elk stood about 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) tall at the shoulders carrying the largest antlers of any known cervid (a maximum of 3.65 m (12.0 ft) from tip to tip and weighing up to 40 kg (88 lb)).
In body size the Irish Elk matched the extant moose subspecies of Alaska (Alces alces gigas) as the largest known deer. The Irish Elk is estimated to have attained a total mass of 540–600 kg (1,190–1,323 lb), with large specimens having weighed 700 kg (1,543 lb) or more, roughly similar to the Alaskan Moose. A significant collection of M. giganteus skeletons can be found at the Natural History Museum in Dublin.
It is understood that the first humans to live in Ireland were the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, settling in Ireland after 8000 BC so it is possible that the first people to live here lived along side these animals and even hunted them for food and for their very skin and bones.
Finnish paganism and the Elk
The elk is a common image in many Finnish pagan art works …
Finnish paganism was the indigenous pagan religion in Finland, Estonia and Karelia prior to Christianisation. It was a polytheistic religion, worshipping a number of different deities. The principal god was the god of thunder and the sky, Ukko; other important gods included Jumi, Ahti, and Tapio.
Shows many similarities with the religious practices of neighbouring cultures, such as Germanic, Norse and Baltic paganism. However, it has some distinct differences due to the Uralic and Finnic culture of the region.
Finnish paganism provided the inspiration for a contemporary pagan movement Suomenusko (Finnish: Finnish faith), which is an attempt to reconstruct the old religion of the Finns.
You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Us
By : Lady Ravenwolf
Do as you will and harm none, ever mind the rule of three
Is one of the most important rules of the wiccan reed
Lets take a look back in history
Ways of the old lost within time
All but forgotten, shrouded in mystery
They were a peaceful kind
Yet thousands met such an untimely demise
The ultimate betrayal of mankind
She’s a witch, they’d point and scream
Those were the burning times
You mortals forever ignorant
She is one of many
With blood line ever strong
Her daughters are alive and well
Apparently you missed a few
The witch seen before you
Is a new kind of breed
Dressed completely in black
Morning the death of sisters past
I will forget my own path
Dancing between the worlds
Choosing to walk the in the gray
My magic is powerful
Though I seek not to harm
I will protect what is me and mine
This will be a finial warning
It is most unwise to cross me
With the flick of my hand
A curse will be placed
With a piercing cackle heard
Last weekend I visited the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, to take a good look at some of the pagan/ per-christian objects that they have on permanent display.
One of the items that really captured my attention was the Corleck Hill – Carved stone head, a sculpture in the form of a triple deity. I think this stone is fascinating and provides a mythological link between per-christian Ireland and the wider world, well before the 1st century AD.
I have spent sometime this week doing a little study on the stone head and reading as much as I can find about its form, so I just wanted to share some on the images I took from the visit and some of the details I have found so far.
The Corleck Hill stone head
Object Number: IA:1998.72
Stone HeadCarved stone head. Early Iron Age, 1st – 2nd century AD. Known since it came to scientific attention in 1937 as the Corleck head, this three-faced stone idol was found in the townland of Drumeague, Co. Cavan around the year 1855. It appears that it was one of a number of carvings found, including a bearded bust now known as the Corraghy head that was later built into a barn in the nearby townland of that name. Thomas Barron, the local historian who brought the three-faced head to the attention of the National Museum spent a lifetime researching the local traditions concerning the find and he concluded that the figures were associated with a shrine located at Drumeague Hill. Nearby is Corleck Hill where it appears that between 1832 and 1900 a Passage Tomb surrounded by a stone circle and a circular embankment 70 yards in diameter were dismantled. The site of these monuments was the center of an important Lughnasa festival that celebrated the harvest, an ancient Celtic tradition that survives into modern times. Other Celtic stone heads have been found in the vicinity such as those from Corravilla and Cavan Town and the find place of the three-faced idol is but twelve miles distant from Loughcrew, Co. Meath. A little further north there is another group of Iron Age stone carvings that appear to be centred on the vicinity of Emhain Macha, the main political and ritual site of ancient Ulster. The likelihood is that the Corleck Head was associated with a shrine reflecting Romano-British traditions located close to where the carving was discovered. The three-faced carving is the finest of its type and there is a small hole in the base to assist its being stood securely, perhaps on a pedestal. One of the faces is heavy browed and all of them have bossed eyes, a broad nose and slit mouth. One of the mouths has a small circular hole at the centre and this feature is also found on two of the Co. Armagh carvings and on another from Woodlands, Co. Donegal. There are several examples of this feature from Yorkshire the best known occurring on two three-faced idols from Greetland, near Halifax. The feature also occurs on a stone head from Anglesey, Wales. H. 33cm; Max. W. 22.5cm.
What is the triple deity
A triple deity (sometimes referred to as threefold, tripled, triplicate, tripartite, triune or triadic, or as a trinity) is a deity associated with the number three. Such deities are common throughout world mythology; the number three has a long history of mythical associations. Carl Jung considered the arrangement of deities into triplets an archetype in the history of religion.
In mythological and its art,three separate beings may represent either a triad who always appear as a group (Greek Moirai, Charites, Erinnyes; Norse Norns; or the Irish Morrígna) or a single deity known from literary sources as having three aspects (Greek Hecate, Diana Nemorensis). In the case of the Irish Brigid it can be ambiguous whether she is a single goddess or three sisters, all named Brigid. The Morrígan also appears sometimes as one being, and at other times as three sisters, as do the three Irish goddesses of sovereignty, Ériu, Fódla and Banba.
The Matres or Matronae are usually represented as a group of three but sometimes with as many as 27 (3 × 3 × 3) inscriptions. They were associated with motherhood and fertility. Inscriptions to these deities have been found in Gaul, Spain, Italy, the Rhineland and Britain, as their worship was carried by Roman soldiery dating from the mid 1st century to the 3rd century AD. Miranda Green observes that “triplism” reflects a way of “expressing the divine rather than presentation of specific god-types. Triads or triple beings are ubiquitous in the Welsh and Irish mythic imagery” (she gives examples including the Irish battle-furies, Macha, and Brigit). “The religious iconographic repertoire of Gaul and Britain during the Roman period includes a wide range of triple forms: the most common triadic depiction is that of the triple mother goddess” (she lists numerous examples).
More ( A fascinating read !!!)
Standing at the top of a hill in the knockmealdown mountains, county Waterford is this amazing standing stone, it rises about 2 meters from the ground. It must have been here for some four thousand years.
I took this images one morning just after sunrise while walking through these mountains that look down over the Waterford coastline.
I placed the rising Sun behind the stone as I wanted to capture the idea of the function of these stones, the tracking of the sun as it moved position on the horizon during the year.
Bonane stone circle and altar of the Moon
During the summer I was lucky enough to get to visit the Bonane stone circle and Alter located near Kenmare , county Kerry. This stone circle was cleared of trees and opened to the full view of the public in current times and it is a great example of a pagan stone circle.
For many centuries it has puzzled historians as to what function these circle served , some think they marks a place of worship others that they acted as a way of measuring the passage of the the year, using the shadows that they cast on the ground. The location and length of these shadows changing as the year passes.
Here at Bonane however it was discovered that the moon was being tracked over an 18.6 year period, it could be that the moon was being worshiped during its movement through the heavens.
They did this by placing an altar about a mile away on a hill side ridge and placed in-line with the center of the stone circle. The most amazing thing is than only every 18.6 years does the moon appear to rise behind the altar at its most southerly point on the horizon and only if you are standing in the center of the stone circle.
The last time this event took place was in 2006 and the next time will be during the Month of June in 2024.
The people who live here in Kerry some 5000 years ago must have been very skilled at astronomy as predicting the movement of the moon has been very difficult until in modern times with the invention of small machines called Orrery and then the use of computers have modern man been able to do so.
See : The Moon Cycles
The task they achieved here is truly amazing and takes a little time to digest, just how they moved three very large stones and placed them on a hill side ridge and then alined a stone circle a good mile away on another hill side and did so with this 18.6 years moon cycle in mind, even today some 5000 years later their achievement is still working.
The difference in thinking between a stone circle being used for the movement of the sun or the moon, or both – is very interesting. As opposed to being used to the help in planting of crops etc, this would appear to imply a function of worship but of what or of who, was it simply the moon or a moon God?
Well the main Pagan deity for this part of the world is thought to be : Elatha
Elatha is quoted as being the “The beautiful Miltonic prince of darkness with golden hair”. He was the son of Dalbaech and a king of the Fomor, he was father of Bres by Eri, a woman of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He came to her over the sea in a vessel of silver, himself having the appearance of a young man with yellow hair, wearing clothes of gold and five gold torcs. He was one of the Fomor who took part in the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh.
During the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Elatha, son of Dalbaech, watched over Dagda’s magic harp, Uaithne, sometimes called Dur-da-Bla, “the Oak of Two Blossoms,” and sometimes Coir-cethar-chuin, “the Four-Angled Music.” He is said to have a sense of humor and a sense of nobility.
Though considered to be the Fomorian father of Eochu Bres, Elatha (Elada) was also the father of the Dagda, Ogma, a son named Delbaeth, and Elloth (the father of Manannan mac Lir) according to the Lebor Gabála Érenn. The mother of these Tuatha De Danann chiefs may have been Ethne, the mother of Lug, based on Ogma’ often cited matronymic “mac Ethliu.” Since Ethne was Fomorian, this means they are all Fomorians. This is rather confusing, but may betray the battle between the two groups as actually being about the new generation of gods displacing the older generation.
Bonane Stone circle and Altar to the Moon – Gallery
The Standing Stones
By : John Bliven Morin
Who will go where the standing stones stand,
when the fog rolls in and covers the land,
when the moon is hidden in a cloudy sky,
and the night is as dark as a raven’s eye,
and the wind is as cold as a winter’s chill,
What’s that? You say you’ll dare, you will?
We’re here. If you’ve courage in your mortal bones,
then go and walk through the standing stones;
yes, that way, go, though it’s hard to see
the ancient path in this obscurity;
your torch is useless for a light,
with the fog and the darkness of the night;
you go alone, for you claim the nerve;
I’ll stay right here, for I only serve.
Follow this footpath through the mist,
and keep to the path I must insist.
You step down the path and I’m lost to view,
as the fog and the mist are surrounding you;
several sounds – grinding – from all about,
startle you so that you almost shout,
but all that comes out is a muted croak,
as you wrap yourself in your winter cloak.
You feel things moving through the very ground,
huge things, horrid things sliding around,
which make your skin crawl with growing fear,
and you sense that something is drawing near;
something immense, for the earth so shakes
that a chill runs up your spine and makes
the hair on your head stand up in fright,
as the fog rolls past and hides from sight
that which you fear but cannot see;
perhaps in your nightmares previously.
Wasn’t that standing stone over there?
But now it’s so close, and that other pair
are much nearer too than they were before!
You remember tales of ancient lore,
as you fall back on some lower stones,
and the Old Ones come to crush your bones;
you scream in fear, you scream in pain,
but all your screaming is quite in vain,
for no one can hear you or see the blood
flow down the altar-stone in a flood;
Then all is quiet; you’ve paid the price,
for you were the Druid’s sacrifice.
and I, their servant. go from here
homeward, until another year.