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
What is an Altar ?
I have visited an old church yard at Castlemorris, county Kilkenny for many years, its a fascinating location. Its the Altar that sits within the old church and castle that’s just drawing me back everytime.
It sits below an old chapel window and the light from the doorway highlights it even on a very wet day, the old chapel is still roofed but the water gets through the stone and drips onto the floor of the chapel.
This Alter has started me wondering about the history of such constructions and what they have been used for over time.
Today in Christian times we think of an Altar as a place that a priest stands and performs a service for anyone who is in attendance, this however has not always been the case.
An Altar in Pagan and pre-Christian times was a place of personal worship they could be in any location but a place of spiritual meaning was common, in the woods and at a river or spring a place that meant something to the community, A pagan believer could and did have Personal Alters in their own homes.
Personally I feel that the Altar is the key to Pagan beliefs, they are places of personal dedication and an indication as to where we find ourselves as Humans.
At an Altar you usually leave an item of dedication, food, something you have made, an item that means something too you personally and that you are willing to spiritually hand over too forces that you both respect and/or rely upon for your very existence.
I feel that this alone contains a truth about our spiritual beliefs, we worship the elements the seasons , Nature because we live in it , we rely upon it and we feel the need to in some form get closer to it by forming a spiritual connection. Then to worship the elements that give us our existence and lives.
This is the function of an Altar, or at least the function of human spirituality relating to it for many thousands of years. Many feel that the Altar is the centre piece of this worship of the forces that we exist in.
Forces that for many thousands of years mankind has noted yet not understood, The season and the growth of food. In the winter its shortage, Storms, Other Animals that we live with and in many cases in the past and even today could pray on us.
Sometimes, simply leaving out food in the hope that they did not was a form of dedication.