Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Kennet Avenue.

The West Kennet Avenue is 2.4 Km long and runs between The Sanctuary and Avebury.

Sad to say, only the Avebury section has stones.
A restoration made by Alexander Keiler in the late 1930s.

Originally the stones were dragged there from Fyfield and set in position, probably during the Late Neolithic period. People were buried at the foot of some of the stones, with beakers (capital B as in Bronze Age Beakers).

The dead so often an essential aspect of monuments...
Given to the stones.
Becoming the stones?

There was Grooved ware
(there is always Grooved ware).
A Cornish axe.

The stone that makes fire -flint.
Given- or if you like 'deposited'.

The empowerment of a land enriched with memory.

I hadn't noticed before, but the flint along the Ridgeway down towards the Avenue, looked blue inside...not black.

And it is reasonable to believe that the Avenue took quite some time to complete
Avebury to The Sanctuary- with The Sanctuary constructed during the mid-third millennium BC.

Now I do not have any map in my possession that tells me either where the Avenue goes after the stones end (nor one that has the G numbers- Grinsell- for the barrows. Very frustrating!).

But if you look at Google maps, you can see traces in the land that look like the Avenue's path.

I high-lighted the way I believe it to have gone
In yellow.

But for our expedition this time, we used The Ridgeway and looked for foot-paths down to the road.

Google maps gives the impression that walking along the old way would not be easy.

We began our trip with a visit to Tesco's where we bought bread filled with walnuts and sultanas and to go with it, some cheese, oranges and bananas.

I filled the car with petrol and headed for the motorway.
At this point the sky was grey
It looked like rain.

The Sanctuary was more or less deserted as usual.

We crossed the road
The sun was very hot.

And began walking up The Ridgeway.
In theory you could walk all the way to The White Horse at Uffington.

You would need tough shoes!
The path is strewn with loose flint.

The landscape is truly beautiful though.

After 0.4 miles (the sign post tells us so)
We turned left at the sign-post and headed towards that clump of trees.

A bowl barrow that was graced with beech trees planted there by someone in the late 17th century.

This place has become for me a real sanctuary.
Only two months ago I sat on one of the stones beside the barrow, under the trees,
(eating Parma violets) after watching the midsummer sun at The Sanctuary.
I was so cold!

5:30 am Midsummer at SU 220758.
The trees sheltered me from the un-seasonable,  ice-cold wind.

But today -Sunday 18th August- was possibly the hottest day of the year.

On our return journey this day from The Avenue, we sat here shaded from the sun.
Drinking water, eating oranges.

It is hard to track down the G number for this barrow (G as in Grinsell).

I think it may be G 29?
Its SU number is 220758.

No one is too sure what was found when the top of it was desecrated excavated.
English Heritage say:  Avebury 29, bowl barrow, 2 paces x 6 ft. Excavated by Colt Hoare:
probable primary cremation and incense cup in an oblong cist. Excavations located a cremation in the bowl barrow. Note that earlier sources, principally Smith and Goddard, suggest that the cremation came from Avebury 30 (SU 16 NW 48). The Owen Meyrick Collection in Devizes Museum contains a single Beaker sherd plus one other indeterminate sherd, both attributed to Avebury 29.

We turned left, off the path and skirted around the edge of two fields punctuated by a miserably large clump of stinging nettles.

I was very glad not to be wearing sandals.

The border between the fields and the road was punctuated by this fearsome piece of agricultural equipment!

I climbed over.
Crossed the road.

Opened the gate.

And we were at The Avenue.

We found a wide stone and gratefully accepted the blessing of shadow.
Here we sat, eating and drinking and feeling slightly perturbed by the cows!

Here is the journey with movement and sound.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The solar cross and victory.

The pre-Christian, prehistoric symbol of the cross is often described as a solar symbol.

At the moment I'm content to believe that the cross really was a pre-Christian symbol linked to the sun; but I think that there is another level of meaning. More significantly, it looks to me as if the cross is also a pre-Christian symbol meaning victory.

I think Constantine was well aware of the 'Pagan' victory meaning of a diagonal cross and centre stave, and that he used it to unite Christians and 'pagans'. As a consequence Constantine's Chi-Rho symbol works on several levels. It speaks of Christ to those steeped in Christianity and it speaks of war and victory at the same time.

Constantine's decision to recast Jesus Christ as a war deity helped to create a successful religion, but how Christian Constantine's religion is, is another question. Jesus Christ preached love and compassion. Constantine's symbol, as I shall show latter on, is far more fitted to a god such as Tiwaz or Thor. The uniting element is noble self-sacrifice. Christ and Tyr both exhibited this.

But first, the four arms of the cross.
One of the many examples of images people 'copy and paste' to prove that the cross is a solar symbol comes from Assyria.

Mesopotamia provides examples of some of the oldest uses of symbols, we have access to.

It is logical to look to the distant past.

In this image of Shamas Vul II- whose name links him absolutely with the sun (the sun god was Shamash)- he is wearing a cross on his chest.

The solar icon used in 'Mesopotamian' imagery is a four point 'star', often with wavy lines radiating out...

Therefore it is reasonable to think that the cross in this case really is a solar icon.

The next question is
Why chose a cross to represent the sun?

When I look at a star they really do have star-like, radiating points
Unless I wear my glasses!

But the Mesopotamian's were more inclined to use mathematics than I am, and the two 'stars' most often portrayed on Mesopotamian boundary stones (sun and Venus) have mathematical numbers inherent in their behavior.

Look for Mul Apin, and Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63.

Astronomy links Venus to the numbers five and eight.
Fibonacci numbers...but that's another story.
So in our time we have the five-point star, the pentagram, linked to Venus via Lucifer.

And the Mesopotamian symbol for Venus is the eight point star.

Meanwhile there are four 'stations' of the sun.
Minimum and maximum (solstice) sun rise and sun set 'stations'

The major solstice 'stations' can be drawn as a, X, a cross.

But Stonehenge proves that cruciform isn't the only way to build this solar reality into a stone structure.

So, is it the number 4 that symbolises the sun?

Maes Howe and Newgrange both capture light from the midwinter solstice sun.
Meas Howe is a four sided chamber
Newgrange is a cross-shape space enclosed by a mound

4 as the 'Celtic' number of the sun?
Note.My use of the word Celtic is a bit of a problem, I use it to mean European culture as opposed to Mesopotamian, Egyptian or Hittite. It is a very  imprecise definition, but I'm sticking with it. 
During the British Bronze Age there was much trade with people from Continental Europe and it is likely that to a greater or lesser extent, we shared sets of meanings for symbols.

So the inner meaning given to the cross by Mesopotamian people probably isn't going to be the same as the inner, mythological meaning used by 'Celtic' people, there simply isn't enough contact or shared language.

What we do share is the common observation that the sun has four maximum and minimum positions of solstice rise and set.

Moving forwards a few thousand years; the Christian linkage of Christ's death with a cross may not be accurate.

The cross as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice was roundly criticised by John Denham Parsons in 1896.

But ultimately the shape of the 'stake' used by Romans practising Phoenician execution to evoke 'Shock and awe' is difficult to trace backwards. The Jehovah's Witnesses using their own translation of the Bible do not believe that the 'stake' was a cross, and there is no firm evidence to suggest that it was that shape...

Nevertheless we do have a Christmas link between Christ and the sun, with Christmas occurring just after the  winter solstice.

And we have a solar and victory link between the sun and the cross preserved in legends, where victory in battle is promised by a sign of a cross in the sky.

The most famous is the story of Constantine and the battle of the Milvian Bridge (October the 27th AD 312.)

Though Constantine isn't the only one to see such signs.
(The stories that come after, may well be copies of Constantine's Milvian Bridge cross):

Angus mac Fergus, High King of Alba - and assisted by a detachment of Scots led by Eochaidh, King of Dalriada (the grandfather of Kenneth mac Alpin) - found themselves surrounded by a much larger force of Angles led by their leader Athelstan.
The year was allegedly 832 AD, although according to records, Angus ruled from 731-761 AD.
A short time before the battle, King Angus prayed to God that, in spite of their smaller army, he might lead his soldiers to victory.
His prayers for deliverance were answered - there in the sky could be seen a cloud formation of a white diagonal cross against a blue sky - the very cross-shape on which Andrew, the first disciple of Christ, was put to death.
The king made a promise that if victory were granted to him in battle through the help of Saint Andrew, then his name would for ever after be adopted as the patron saint.
Despite the overwhelming odds against them, the Picts and Scots won the battle and the Cross of St. Andrew became the flag of Scotland.
And for Mortimer who sees a triple son before his battle.
Shakespeare records it in these words:

Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun;
Not separated with the racking clouds,
But sever'd in a pale clear-shining sky. 
See, see! they join, embrace, and seem to kiss, 
 As if they vow'd some league inviolable:
Now are they but one lamp, one light, one sun. 
In this the heaven figures some event.

Constantine's Chi-Ro symbol.
But why was Constantine using a cross as a signifier of victory?

"In hoc signo vinces"- "In this Sign Conquer".

The recording and interpretation of the story changing peace-loving Jesus into a war-god, can be attributed to Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius,  and Eusebius- who were both Christians.

But I believe that the cross had a pre-existent meaning that Constantine chose to exploit, one that the men fighting for him would understand.

The cross (stations of the sun: NE, SE, SW,NW( with the central line indicating North and South) can be found as a bind-rune (runes linked together) 
In this case linking the arrow of Tiwaz with the cross of Gebo.

In Britain, Tiwaz must have been regarded by the Romans as similar to Mars. The Romans left us with the names we still use for the days of the week and Tuesday becomes Tīw's Day.

In French Tuesday is Mardi the day of Mars.

In Iceland Tiwaz becomes the courageous, Tyr (who will sacrifice his hand to the wolf, Fenris at the end of this world system-Ragnorock).

In the Anglo-Saxon Rune poem:
Tiw is a guiding star; well does it keep faith with princes;
it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.
Which is interesting, as the central line running through the solstice positions really does point to the north.

The blessing of Tiwaz would lead to victory.

Tiwaz's rune cut into a spear turns it into a Sacred object, something of the god enters the spear. Tiwaz is a sky god, a god of war, a god to whom human sacrifices were made. The use of arrows, common in the Bronze Age had been abandoned in favour of the spear by 'Celtic', Iron Age times. But the significance of the 'arrow' symbol may have remained, and fitted in perfectly with the shape of the spear.

Yet the name, or word Tiwaz is very close to a word meaning god- 'De us', in other-words, another way to say Ze us (Zeus).

In Britain the name was Tiw, it is now writtain as Teu.

Te uw/ De ew/ De Us

In this verse from The Prose Edda

There the Týr of Triumph
Himself inspired the terror
Of ships; the gods of breezes
That favor good men steered them
Tyr in this verse, refers to Odin, indicating to me that sometimes Tyr meant Deus- god.

Sky god usually have thunder bolts...

Constantine's P running central to the cross, looks like the rune 'Th'

In English, Th looks like a capital D

D as in Donner
Th as in Thor.

If D becomes Th becomes P...

Perkunas is a Lithuanian variant of Thor.

In Slovakia his name is Perom.
Perom's sheild and cross.

But back to symbols in the sky...

In this folk tale linking Perom, sky-visions and victory
The golden balls are apples not suns..

"...He grabbed three golden apples  
And threw them high into the sky...
...Three lightning bolts burst from the sky,
One struck at two young grooms,
Another struck at pasha on a horse,
The third one struck six hundred wedding guests,
Not an eyewitness left
Not even to say, how they died."

The thunder god still keeps his day
Ivan Kupala Day...

Curiously, Constantine's standard- the banner under which his troops marched- was known as the Labarum. 

It has three golden balls...
Perom's apples?
Mortimer's suns?

I have no idea why Constantine has the three 'suns' on his flag.

It has been suggested that the name- labarum- comes from a Celtic word (ancient Cantabri dialect labaro) meaning 'four ends'.

In modern-day Basque the word is lauburu, with the same meaning.

So labarum refers to the X...

But in modern day churches  it is an ecclesiastical standard or banner, as for carrying in procession.
The meanings move on...

So I stop
For now...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Can't see the wood for the trees.

So far all my attempts at modelling The Sanctuary have been inconclusive.

My mind always stops at the ring of stones (marked on the map by rectangles) mainly because it is difficult to model stones in Gmod (computer) or with satay sticks.
See film further down on this page!

I have no idea how big the stones were, how deep the post holes.
I'm in the dark.

I need to read Maud Cunnington's excavation notes.

At the moment my best guess is that the shadows cast by the posts were significant.
I don't mean that the shadows were *it*.
The shadows were a part, not the whole reason...

But they would be dramatic.

The best way to check that would be to draw lines through the plan and see how it appears, I'm guessing that the posts act as multiple gnomons, a weird porcupine-like sun-dial.

The sun's light streams down to us from 'infinity' (as we used to say in physics).

This means that the shadow is at 90 degrees to the sun's azimuth.

The Sanctuary is not aligned to midsummer sun-rise.
This I know because I stood there freezing to death at 5 AM with my bits of string and compass on one of the few days in June when it wasn't raining!

If the midwinter sun sets further to the south than its official azimuth, that would explain why the north-east pathway doesn't align with the sun.

There are a lot of extra posts (The H posts) in the midwinter sun-set position, and a recumbent stone, plus I'd really like to believe that the reason why we celebrate Christmas so close to the midwinter solstice isn't as simple as 'Mithras' or rather 'Sol Invictus'.

Newgrange and Meas Howe prove that a fascination with the midwinter sun in Britain is older than AD 43- the Roman invasion...

At The Sanctuary, the sun path from the midwinter sun points to The Ridgeway and the round barrows. Does this mean that The Sanctuary 'functioned' as a portal for the spirits?

Like a key turning in a lock, the sun slowly moves around to indicate the time when 'the way' is open for the dead to return..or perhaps leave...?

Who knows!
I could write similar things about any structure.

(ignore the grey writing that says equinox sun set. I should have cut that off)
Sanctuary map with shadows.

So the film.
No sound
Just a printed plan, Plasticine
And a torch.

Post script:
I am very grateful to Mike Pitts for posting a photocopy of Maud Cunnington's Sanctuary plans.

This makes it much easier to link pottery remains etc to the correct post holes.
Here, for the terminally confused and border-line obsessive, are the letters and names of the rings.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Third Place.

Pergatory solved a problem for the church...

Where are the dead right now, if they are waiting for Resurrection on Judgement day?

As the tarot card from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck  illustrates, the bible seems to be saying that the dead are waiting within their coffins and burial mounds for the trumpet to sound

And the judging to begin...

The archaic duality of Heaven and hell
Hades and The Elysian Fields.

Or the Monochrome, doom laden
Eternal rubbish dump

Are not enough...

A third place
The place of

Became necessary.

Betwixt and between is a fiction rich in history

Luthor referred to Purgatory as "The third place"
Warren Spector likewise, called computer game space 'liminal'
The third place.

A title or a concept... taken up by Sony for the PlayStation
And turned into an advert

David Eraser Head Lynch

To confuse anyone who had never played a computer game in his or her life
I guess.

In keeping with the concept of Purgatory as being a demi-hell
A place to pay off ones sins
By suffering

The Lynchian 3rdPlace is grim.

Van Gennep and Turner describe liminal space.
Rites of passage and rites of intensification

A place of ceremony and reintegration.
Sacrifice to bind a community
Amongst other
Not so
Terrible things...

The place of transformation
In to a swan..

The anthropologist Edward T Hall and territoriality as The Hidden Dimension:
The way cultures organise invisible space..
Zones and Proxemics.

Popper refered to the non-physical reality of ideas as world three.

Granted, Hall, Popper, Turner and Van Gennep describe invisible and yet radiant spaces that belong to the living.

Purgatory is one step beyond, and yet not so far away as one may think...

A long time before Purgatory
The dead-souls went to the Refrigerium

The word itself refers to a communal meal taken by the friends and relatives of the dead.

It means refreshment

Not fridge
As in household appliance.
Or modern day cryo-tanks...
Just a head submerged in ectoplasmic cloud and liquid nitrogen

Nevertheless, though some believed the ante-chamber to judgment day to be a pleasant place.

Others began to imagine Sacred fire- a metaphor for pre-liminal dissolution.

The baptism of fire
The alchemical golden flames of the phoenix..

Began to burn in the refrigerium.

The period after death
Became an ordeal.

Through fire, through water and then into ice.

Where was it?

Men roamed Sicily between Etna and Stromboli trying to draw a map of Purgatory.
Etna was too infernal
Too close to Hell.

In Ireland the Cistercian monks who controlled pilgrimages to one of Purgatory's main portals completed their map...

The Red Lake..Lough Derg.
On Station Island.
County Donegal.

Condemned by Pope Alexander VI in 1497
A new church was dedicated to Saint Patrick in 1931
Every year pilgrims visit between June the 1st and August the 15th.