Sunday, 30 October 2011

Glastonbury part 1.

When thinking about Iron Age locations I think that I'm being a bit dense, really this is a case of I can't see the wood for the trees. Archeology forms a framework for locations, but the more interesting information is to be found in myth.

Archeology calls them hill forts but the hill part of hill fort is much more evocative when it is called Caer, or Dynas or Inis (sometimes spelt Ynys).

It is also possible that echos of Bronze Age ideas can be heard in Iron Age myth. The cauldrons of 'Celtic' myth offer inspiration and rebirth. They remind me of the stone bowls filled with cremations, found in passage graves.

Perhaps the Iron Age cult of the severed head is all that remains of the Bronze Age rite of using preserved bodies...sometimes a single body being in fact a composite of more than one body to make a whole ancestor to be buried in needful places, possibly as protectors [LINK]

It is quite difficult to find a Celtic Persephone myth, the closest I've got is the story of Creiddylad, which brings me back to her father he of the silver hand.

Nodens, or Nudd, or Nuada or even sometimes, Lludd.

His son is Gwyn ap Nudd.

From Wiki:
Gwyn ap Nudd plays a prominent role in the early Arthurian tale Culhwch and Olwen in which he abducts his sister Creiddylad from her betrothed, Gwythyr ap Greidawl.

In retaliation, Gwythyr raised a great host against Gwyn, leading to a vicious battle between the two. Gwyn was victorious and, following the conflict, captured a number of Gwythyr's noblemen including Nwython and his son Cyledr.

Gwyn would later murder Nwython, and force Cyledr to eat his father's heart.

As a result of his torture at Gwyn's hands, Cyledr went mad, earning the epithet Wyllt.

After the intervention of Arthur, Gwyn and Gwythr agreed to fight for Creiddylad every May Day until Judgement Day. T he warrior who was victorious on this final day would at last take the maiden.

This fight probably represented the contest between summer and winter and is a variant of the Holly King myth. According to Culhwch and Olwen, Gwyn was "placed over the brood of devils in Annwn, lest they should destroy the present race".

 And the theme of the glass castle: Caer Wydyr- a tower surrounded by water; Ynis Witrin, Ynisgutrin, Urbs Vitrea...Glastonbury:

Before the Glass castle
There is the maze of the labyrinth,
The raising of the veils and the closing of shadows..
And the enveloping darkness of the night.

Basically we should have gone on a trip to Glastonbury this week...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Warley Woods- off the Hagley road to Birmingham.

We went back, to try to find the 'river' of cold air. It was midday (not sunset- as it was when I originally experienced it) and Warley Woods felt like a happy place; lots of people and dogs and push chairs. It was a bright day, autumn trees, the weather almost warm.

After so many years it was hard to remember where the weird cold line had been, that evening we had been looking for a house to buy, to move out of the rented house in Pargeter road Bearwood...

It was sixteen years ago.

We had parked the car and looked around the street and then walked into the woods just to see what was there. It was early evening. The sun was setting. The woods were empty, but that line of cold, the experience of it was odd; I mean really odd.

So yesterday, Tuesday morning we went back to try to work out where the invisible river must have been located.

But first we had to try to work out why we had been there at all!

Eventually the images in my memory started to match up with the land.

The line wasn't where I'd expected it to be; there is a line that runs down through the park land that probably fills up with water when there is heavy rain, there is an occasional pool close to the road apparently. Visually this rain made indentation is the most obvious place for cold air to gather.

But it really wasn't the place, it didn't feel cold.

When I felt the slightest hint of the curious cold sensation I retraced my steps and tried again, then I did it with my eyes shut.

The line is marked on the map as a dark green dotted line.

Imagine yourself on the dotted line looking ahead, just where the slightly more green grass is...that's the Ghost road.

Looking right you would see the tree stump on the other side of the rain ditch.

If you looked to your line with the biggest tree.

Along that line, from the stump to the tree, that is where I thought that I had felt the colder air, but today in bright sun shine and wearing motor bike clothes, I wasn't sure..

Guess we have to go back.
At times like this an accurate thermometer would be very useful.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The day the sun fell...ghost roads of Britain.

One thing lead to another, as it does.

When writing about Sekhmet  I was fascinated by the cloudy yellow scarab at the centre of a piece of jewellery worn by king Tutankhamun; I was fascinated to learn that it is made from vitrified sand.

The temperature at the desert surface was at least 1600 Celsius to melt the sand.

Images flow outwards from the thinking: of science fiction death-rays, Tesla and the Tunguska explosion of 1908, C-beams; images from Halo, recollection of the missile defense shield as imagined by President Reagan.

One thing leads to another and I found myself looking at images of HAARP, the ionospheric heater.

The odd thing about HAARP is, it has been singled out as the ionospheric heater...actually there are at least two more in operation right now. One belongs to 'us' Europeans as EISCAT, with it's ionospheric heater located at Ramfjord, and the other, in Russia is called Sura.

I expect that there are more.

So...where does HAARP fit in with ghost roads?
Nowhere really, just thinking about lines of force, how the ionosphere is plasma organised by the lines of magnetism emanating from the earth (thus creating the magnetosphere).

Thinking about how magnetism is an effect of a current of electricity, and electricity is the flow of electrons.

Thinking about the modern myths that derive from knowledge. As far as we know we are on the surface of a spinning ball of rock that has a weird electrical heart, spinning around a ball of plasma (the sun) that is also spinning through space and bathing this planet in waves of more sun-stuff (plasma).

It seems very unlikely that things on this planet are simple or predictable; electricity flows and causes a pulse to dance through everything.

When Alfred Watkins saw lines in the land (1921) he saw them as signs of ancient pathways. Then slowly over the years, Alfred Watkins’s ley lines accumulated other meanings; from UFO navigation 'roads' to geomantic dragon paths, from spirit paths to earth energy and back to spirit paths.

In 1989, Paul Devereux and Nigel Pennick published, Lines in the Landscape, in it Paul Devereux suggested archaic landscape lines were spirit lines rather than "energy lines".

Energy lines are a very modern interpretation of weirdness, originally movement was interpreted as a property associated with life. The wind and water also moved and so possessed something almost life, but not quite. The thorough and empirical description of energy, and the use of mathematics to quantify that movement or to name the kind of movement didn't happen until the invention of steam engines. Electricity and magnetism were also originally (in our culture) linked to anima (the animating force of life). When electricity and especially X ray and radio became a part of our cultures mythic thinking, spirits could be heard in white noise...and x ray proved that something could travel through solid walls.

So it is logical to assume that a concept of spirit lines would predate a concept of energy lines.

Before Arthur Watkins wrote about ley-lines, W Y Evans Wentz in 1911, had recorded a Breton belief in the Ankou, a king of the dead. He recorded that it was believed that the Ankou's subjects have their own particular paths or roads over which they travel in great sacred processions.
'On November eve the living are expected to prepare a feast and entertainment for the dead, of curded-milk, hot pancakes, and cider, served on the family table covered with a fresh white table-cloth. The dead come to enjoy this party with their friends; and as they take their places at the table the chairs are heard to move, and sometimes the plates; and the musicians who help to entertain them think that at times they feel the cold breath of the invisible visitors'.
I think we have two kinds of experiences here, the first is a distant recollection of an ancient tradition, an echo of the original beliefs that had caused the creation of the cursus, and secondly an experience of something real..

Unfortunately no one describes how they know that there are ghost roads, but the experience of weird, and
the understanding of it as pathways remains.

Ghost roads are odd; I cannot begin to answer what they really are. I stepped onto one once and I don't wish to repeat it, but the experience has always puzzled me. It was as if I had walked into a river of invisible cold water.

I didn't feel as if anything in it could see me; I didn't feel any consciousness within it. A strip of land was simply colder when I stepped into the invisible line of cold...and warmer when I had walked through it....

Well it is a long way from HAARP with its energy pathways; a linear array of microwave transmitters to my river of cold air, to the coils of a labyrinth (I still maintain that using a labyrinth makes a dowsable pathway).
I suppose I should try to remember where the 'ghost path' was, and see if it is still there, take a photo or two.

Pomegranate rattle.
And I should buy a pomegranate to see if I can make a rattle.

Meanwhile, this is a pomegranate rattle made from clay, circa 500-400 BC, found in Cyprus.

And in this article about ancient music:
The book of Exodus tells us that Aaron’s garment was decorated with bells. Aaron served as priest at the desert tabernacle during the Exodus wanderings, which are generally placed in the 13th century B.C., 400 years before the date of the oldest known bell. The explanation of this discrepancy is to be found in an error of translation. The Hebrew word which is universally translated as “bells” in the relevant passages from Exodus is pa’ammonim (singular pa’ammon). The hem of Aaron’s robe is decorated with embroidered pomegranates of various colors, alternating, we are told, with “bells”:
Dried pomegranates.
“In its hems made pomegranates of blue, purple and crimson yarns, all around the hem, with bells (pa’ammonim) of gold between them around about: a golden bell and a pomegranate, alternately all around the hem of the robe. Aaron shall wear it while officiating, so that the sound of it is heard when he comes into the sanctuary before the Lord and when he goes out that he may not die”
(Exodus 28:33–35; see also Exodus 39:24–26).b
These “bells” were not true bells but, rather, rattling or jingling devices. Noise-making attachments to garments are known in almost all ancient cultures and served what scholars call an apotropaic function—that is, they gave the wearer magical protection. Note that Aaron’s robe was protected in this way “that he might not die.”
Dried poppy heads.
There is always going to be a confusion between pomegranates and poppy heads...they look so similar in pictures or carvings.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sekhmet- blood mirror.

Image by Mark Wilson, (A.K.A. MW Cats).
When the Sumerians wrote about the gods destroying civilisation, water was their lethal element, they described the flood.

When the Egyptians considered their catastrophic past, they chose fire.

The translucent scarab at the center of this beautiful jewelry (once owned by Tutankhamen) is vitrified glass created when the sun came down to destroy all of mankind.

A myth that could possibly describe this event is found in a New Kingdom (1600 and 1100 BC) royal funerary book called the Book of the Heavenly Cow and it describes Sekhmet the lioness, as the wrathful form of Hathor - the eye of the sun - the eye of Re, causing this terrifying event.

The story begins with Re the self-created one.
Re had ruled gods and humans together for millions of years and now he was becoming old. His bones were stiffening into silver, his flesh was becoming gold and his hair hardening into lapis lazuli. His people too- born from his tears- were changing, once loyal and respectful offering praise and prayer, now the people were rebellious and lazy.
Re knew that they were plotting against him.

 He was old and tired.

He wanted to return to the primordial waters of Nun.

But before turning away forever, Re sought advice.
The other gods gave him council. Nun saw how angry Re had become and suggested that pain and fear would stop the people treating Re as if he were ineffectual, Nun suggested that Re set the eye free.

In this image, Maat (order and justice) kneels before Hathor of Dendera, and it is easy to confuse her with Isis.

Hathor wears the solar disc and cow horns because she is both the wife of Horus of Edfu and the great cow of the heavens, who gives birth to the sun. Once a year, two weeks before the new moon in the third month of summer, the statue of Hathor of Dendera was taken out of the temple for the Festival of the Beautiful Union.

The statue was taken down to the river where another statue of Horus was waiting at the quay. Both statues were presented before Maat (possibly as a third statue) before being taken to the Edfu temple for a marriage ceremony.

After fourteen days there, the statue of Hathor was returned to Dendera.

Amongst the first gods people name are  (all seeing and cause of plagues..)

Sekhmet is the 'wrathful' form of Hathor, meaning the cow can become a lioness. She is the Lady of the Wild places (giving birth to all wild things) and the active, fire principle -wife -of the sun. She is an old goddess, 'she who scratches', a wild lioness, a 'mistress of life'. Sekhmet can cause and cure disease and her priests are recognized as healers.

As Pakhet, the lioness, Hathor embodies both characteristics

But, back to the story:
Re gave the order and his gentle daughter, Hathor transformed herself into the wild lioness, Sekhmet. She descended into the desert where she began her lethal game, soon leaving the sand strewn with the dead and stained red with their blood.

The lioness temporarily too well fed to eat anymore returned to Re proud of herself and her efficiency.

But when Re looked at what she had done he was sickened and filled with guilt. He realized the magnitude of the power he had unleashed, and one look at Sekhmet made it clear to Re, Sekhmet enjoyed the terror and destruction and would not stop

Re sent his fastest messengers to Yeba, to order that red pigment be sent from there to Heliopolis. At Heliopolis the priests ordered the serving maids to grind hundreds of baskets of barley. The red pigment was mixed with the barley and 7,000 jars of blood-red beer were brewed.

Re and the other gods inspected the beer and were pleased.

Early, before Sekhmet had left to begin her killing again, Re went to the killing-fields and emptied the 7,000 jars of blood-red beer over the fields so that they were flooded to a depth of three palms...

As Sekhmet drew close to the land she saw the beautiful red beer and thought that it was blood, as she drew closer she was mesmerized by the sight of another lion -her reflection-coming up to meet her. Sekhmet and the red lion drank deep of the blood until Sekhmet could hardly stand.

Sekhmet returned to Re and he welcomed her back...
That would be the end, except Sekhmet, now happy and satisfied becomes the cow Mehet-Waret and Re can no longer tolerate life among people.

Re climbs onto the cow's back and remains in the sky.

Cybele is shown with lions, likewise Durga. The image above is a plate found in Alexandria on Oxus (now Ai Khanum). It depicts a fire alter and in keeping with the Mesopotamian border stone tradition, three symbols in the sky: Venus, the sun and the moon.

In this image, Durga is killing Mahisasur. The picture was taken at Chittaranjan Park, Delhi, Oct 22, 2004 by Mukerjee..

And finally, Inanna.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tua Ya Pek.

After buying the bank of Heaven ghost money..

I started to wonder about the signatures: Yin Low (judge of the Underworld) and Yuk Wong (Jade Emperor) previous post.

At YouTube I found a series of four films showing of a man 'being' a tua ya pek, being possessed by a guardian of the Underworld.

It starts off with Chinese dragon and lion dances.
I think the location is Singapore?

Then the guy who is to be possessed gets dressed and drunk...and is both grave, gentle and impressive as he swaggers around handing out sweets and blessings.

He is also called upon to lacerate his tongue.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The bank notes of Heaven and Hell.

These bank of heaven notes in the picture above, can be bought from Chinese supermarkets.
They are recognisably money.

The other sort (in picture below) doesn't look like money.
It represents gold or silver.

The first time I found money for the dead, I didn't know what it was!

I had bought the rough bamboo paper version, that has a smear or bold block of silver or gold in its center.

I had no idea what these beautiful bits of paper were for.

A friend of mine, born in Thailand,  recognised them and was shocked....she told me it was money for the ghosts. Well, at that time I was living above a shrine room, I prayed daily (or more) for the living and the dead, nor had I had her upbringing, so I didn't worry too much about the 'bank notes' or the ghosts, rather I was pleased that there was a tradition for anyone, not just 'religious' people, to think well of ghosts and to wish them happiness.

The gold and silver paper is meant to be folded into an ingot so that it looks as if you are offering silver or gold.

Another site that shows you in pictures:

When my children had Halloween parties we would always burn 'money for the dead' generally we used the more recognisable bank notes, to make it more meaningful.

I must admit I didn't think too much about the names on the notes.

The last two years, because my children are older (two have left home, two almost old enough to go) we haven't done much for Halloween, which has been rather sad...for me...because I feel that an English Halloween leaves a lot to be desired and would be better if it was more Day of the Dead Mexican style. Just buying a bag full of mini chocolates for the trick or treaters and printing off designs for my kids to use as pumpkin carving templates hasn't been very Halloween-ish, or Halloween enough.

It is a shame that I feel that I should have the excuse of children (oh, you have to make it an occasion for the kids) to hide my need for rituals and to creating sacred space.

But eldest son asked me if he could invite some friends around this year, 'as you like to do Halloween', so I guess I should make some plans.

Today we bought the bank notes. When I got home I noticed that they are Heaven Bank Notes so I wondered if there a difference between heaven and hell notes?

Heaven notes are offered to the deities of the underworld.
And so are hell notes...

There are two signatures on the notes: Yin Low and Yuk Wong, these two noble entities seem to be in charge of things....

The Chinese Yin Low is judge of the dead, he is a large man with a scowling red face, bulging eyes and a long beard wearing  robes and a crown on his head that usually bears the kanji meaning for "king."

Yin Low is both king and judge of the underworld. He is shown with another judge who holds a brush and a book listing every soul and the allotted death date for every life.

There is also Ox-Head and Horse-Face, who are guardians of hell. They bring the newly dead, one by one, before Yin Low for judgement.

The karmic balance of each person facing Yin Low determines where that person goes next, people with enough merit (good karma accumulated by acts of kindness and recitations of mantras as long as 'the merit' has been given away...that is) will be be reborn to have a happy life.

People who have been cruel or who have committed misdeeds will be sentenced to torture and/or miserable future lives.

Yin Low is the absolute king, but the underworld is divided into ten levels or courts each ruled by a Yama King, who specialises in certain crimes.

The spirits of the dead, on being judged by Yin Low, are supposed to either pass through a term of enjoyment in a region midway between the earth and the heaven of the gods, or to undergo their measure of punishment in Naraka, the nether world, situated somewhere in the southern region.

After this time they may return to Earth in new bodies.

So basically the money is offered to him to be kind to one's relatives.
Is that bribery?!

The second name is Yuk Wong, The Jade Emperor.

Heavenly Grandfather...

The bank notes of Heaven or Hell are 'Joss money'.
The word Joss probably comes from Portuguese Deus, meaning god. It exists between two realms, the real and the imaginative. Death is real, the pain of losing someone you love is real, offering ghosts fake money is real only in the imagination.

But that is where ghosts live...

Imaginative gesture offends the Protestant ethic, but makes sense to the bit of me that knows there is nothing I can really do for the dead other than to pray for them.

A symbolic gesture is better than nothing in my experience.

Many people say that the bank notes can be offered for 'good luck' or to ask for help from Yin Low, more importantly perhaps, it is used to help pay off one's celestial debts.

But the main thing is to offer the money with respect.

It is supposed to be bad to give Hell or Heaven notes to the living, to give someone a Hell note is to wish them dead, apparently. And like the 'ingot' paper, Bank of Heaven and Hell notes should be kept out of sight somewhere in the house until needed, (which is probably why they are tucked away in a dark corner of Wing Yip) and when they are burnt, they should be folded.

Quite a few web-sites say "folded in a specific way"

It is considered bad luck to burn real money, and the special folding of the notes means that the money is clearly Joss money..

So, after thinking about it a British ghost festival could be something like this:

1/ Lamps are lit on the alters to attract the ghosts, the alter contains food for the ghost, photographs of loved ones who have died.

2/ The gates of the Underworld open.

3/ Incense, joss money and food are offered.

4/ Paper lanterns are floated down rivers, to help the ghosts find their way back to the Underworld...


Hindu and Tibetan.
The bull headed lord of heaven: Yama.

A holy man was told that if he meditated for the next 50 years, he would achieve enlightenment.

The holy man meditated in a cave for 49 years, 11 months and 29 days, until he was interrupted by two thieves who broke in with a stolen bull.

After beheading the bull in front of the hermit, they ignored his requests to be spared for but a few minutes, and beheaded him as well. In his near-enlightened fury, this holy man became Yama, the god of Death, took the bull's head for his own, and killed the two thieves, drinking their blood from cups made of their skulls.

Still enraged, Yama decided to kill everyone in Tibet. The people of Tibet, fearing for their lives, prayed to the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī.

Now Yama is considered to be a wrathful deity, but oath-bound to be a protector of practitioners.

The second part of the story is:
Yama was depopulating Tibet in his insatiable thirst for victims. Manjushri traveled to the underworld to seek out Yama, who dwells with all his minions in the sealed up iron cities of hell. To tame Yama, Manjushri adopted the same form, adding to it eight other faces and a multiple array of arms, each holding fearful and deadly weapons.

He further sprouted a corresponding number of legs, and surrounded himself with a vast host of terrifying beings. To confront death, he thus manifested the form of death itself, magnified to infinity. Death (Yama) saw himself endlessly mirrored back to himself, infinitely outnumbered by himself. Death was literally scared to death.

Thus the yogi who meditates through the imagery of Yamantaka intends and hopes to develop a sense of identity strong enough to face down death, and the fear that attends upon it. Each head, each limb, each attribute, symbol and ornament of Yamantaka expresses the total mobilization of the faculties of enlightenment needed for this ultimate confrontation.

Both Yama and Yamantaka are represented with bull’s heads, but Yama always has an ornament, shaped like a wheel on his breast, which is his distinctive mark.

The Hindu Yama is the son of the Sun. He is the presiding deity of Naraka and he is also known as Dharma, ultimate reality, or basically god of the way things really are