The Chisper Effect 4 : The Jesus Jigsaw

chisper_effectContinuing the weekly serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved


(Register with Completely Novel to…)




Chapter IV

The teachings of Jesus Christ are the foundation stones upon which stands one of the most important religions of mankind: Christianity. We encounter its founder in the canonical Gospels of the New Testament, four moving reports of the ‘messiah’s’ ministry in and around the city of Jerusalem. Before this, and indeed after, as some scholars would have it, a great deal of evidence, both new and old, suggests he had at one point taken residence in India.  Following the Indian sub-continent’s introduction to the tenets of European Christianity; by the nineteenth century many native intellectuals began to notice the numerous similarities between the religion preached by the ‘Carpenter’s Son’ from Judea, & the antique faiths of India. One of these scholars, an early 20th century ascetic called Swami Sivananda Saraswati, suggested that Jesus, ‘lived like a Hindu or a Buddhist monk, a life of burning renunciation and dispassion. He assimilated the ideals, precepts and principles of Hinduism. Christianity is modified Hinduism only, which was suitable for those people who lived in the period of Christ. Really speaking, Jesus was a child of the soil of India only. That is the reason why there is so much of similarity between his teachings and the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism.’

My own interest in an Indian Jesus was piqued in February 2011, while rummaging through the worm-riddled books of the Ragunhandan library in Puri, a wonderful sea-girt city of the eastern state of Orissa. As I sat beneath the creaking fans, the noisy rush of temple-traffic honking and swirling outside, I felt a memory of the great Imperial adventure surge through my spirit. The colonial era of the British had overseen the translation and study of many ancient texts, a whirl of orientalia which has provided a rich literary canvas for historians to explore. It was in Puri, for instance, that I first ruffled through an English-language version of the Bhagavad Gita, and it was in that same city that I heard, for the first time, of how Jesus Christ had spent time in India.


My adventure began with strange wild music – the long quavering notes of huge horns, like those which awake the echoes of the Alps in the harpy-haunted route to Chamounix. These surreal notes of some ethereal song drew me onto the library roof, where I could observe below me in the street a colorful religious procession of the Hindu sort. I also found myself the closest any Westerner ever gets to the guts of the epic Jaggernatha Temple, forbidden as we are to enter its sacred confines. The library roof, however, offers a pleasant, though restricted view of at least a portion of the inner Temple into which the procession was gradually filtering. Also watching the events unravel below was a scruffy-looking, fifty-year-old, American gentleman. As we stood together in the blaze of day high on the library’s rooftop he transfixed me with a rather curious tale as if he was an Ancient Mariner & I some futuristic Wedding Guest.

“Jesus is said to have been there, y’know,” said the American.

“He did…” I replied with nonchalant indifference. It seemed a rather far-fetched notion. Orissa is a long, long way from Jerusalem.

Yeah man, there’s this book I read a few years back by this Russian guy called… ehm… Notovich – that’s right…  it’s called the lost Gospel according to Jesus Christ or something…”

The American went on, explaining that it made a great deal of sense for Jesus to have spent time in India. When he walked on water, for instance, he was merely using the mystical powers of a yogic master. He then described other elements of Indian asceticism that appear in the Gospels, such as reincarnation, as when Jesus declares John the Baptist to have once been the prophet Elijah. Becoming slowly intrigued by the idea, a few days later I found the American’s words whistling around my mind while wandering a provincial library in Bubanaswar, the capital of Orissa. I soon unearthed a copy of Notovich’s book, sitting quietly on a shelf next to another book titled ‘Jesus in India,’ by a Muslim writer called Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Taking my seat amidst a silent sea of white shirts, I plunged into both texts, emerging sometime later with the quite solid conviction that Jesus must have spent time in India. The two books in conjunction provided too many coincidences to think otherwise, and being a student of historical mysteries, I decided to take up the challenge of solving that rather peculiar question – did Jesus live in India?

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There is perhaps no more difficult a puzzle to solve as the Jesus Jigsaw. Nevertheless I began to research the matter within the salubrious cloisters of Scotland’s National Library in Edinburgh. This vast repository of books, from all eras and upon all subjects, has been of vital assistance throughout my studies, and after a couple of years I had collated enough  material and eked out enough fresh insights to write a book – this book – which touched on the the subject. It is one thing to study a mystery using libraries and the google mega-brain, but a far different thing altogether to venture into the exotic regions where that mystery initially occurred. With this in mind I took it upon myself to travel to India once more, to immerse myself in all the chaos, wonderment and ever-living vitality of that happening, maddening land. Finding the truth about Jesus seemed like looking for a fleck of gold dust in a haystack, but I was well up for the challenge.

As I left Edinburgh one late September evening in 2013, a thick fog had enveloped the city. At every turn the brightness of summer was fading into mellow fruitfulness, the mad rush of the city’s festival season echoing gently on the breeze, its show-posters crumbling to nothingness in the Autumnal rains. To Edinburgh’s residents, a dour seven months or so of early darkness, biting cold and grey skies lay ahead. The seemingly endless Scottish winter is not one for the faint-hearted, and the notion of spending an alternative season in the sun, hard on the trail of the historical Jesus, had becoming a rather inviting alternative. A few hours into my flight to Delhi, I found myself soaring over the dusty, rocky, mountainous landscape of Turkey. Two thousand years ago, in that desolate world far below my window, travelers would have been slowly plodding eastwards along the ancient highway known as the Silk Road, that grand and ancient facilitator of trade between China and Europe. If Jesus did travel between the Holy Land & India, following the Silk Road would have been a likely course. Evidence for his presence along the route was discovered in Afghanistan by the twentieth century orientalist O. M. Burke, who came across a sect of a thousand souls devoted to the worship of a certain Yuz Asaf, whom they also knew as Issa, son of Maryam. Their traditions speak of how Yuz Asaf escaped the cross, settled in Kashmir, and was the performer of great miracles.


Native topography places Jesus in Afghanistan, where two plains near Ghazni and Jalalabad bear the name of Yuz Asaf.  According to an early 20th century Persian scholar, Syed Ahmad Delhvli, Jesus received the name ‘Yuzu Asaf’ in the following fashion; ‘Hazrat Issa, who cured lepers, came to be known as Asaph. He was known as Yuzu, and as he had cured lepers, he came to be known as Yuzu Asaph, for he not only cured them but gathered them under his merciful protection.’ We can see here that Jesus was given an alternative name, Hazrat Issa. This is a slight deviation on Isa Ibn Maryam, given to Jesus by the Islamic tradition, while the earliest fragments of the Gospel of Matthew call Jesus the similar ‘Is.’  The principle key to unlocking this puzzle is recognizing and accepting that in true chispological fashion, Jesus was known by different names in different lands and by different tongues. ‘In general,’ declared the 4th century Church Father Epiphanius of Salamis, ‘all the other peoples have it according to the language of each of them.’ Each of these versions represents an individual Jesusian avatar, an interconnected nexus of names which create the following Babel-Chain. The first name in the chain is Iesus, which was the earliest Roman and Greek spelling of Jesus. It was only about a thousand years ago, at the turn of the first millennium, that the ‘J’ sound began to take precedent.


Not all of these names are attached to the story of Jesus, but by analyzing them in more detail we shall see how they possess curious and numerous connections to both Jesus and each other. Each name contributes biographical details to the vita of a single individual upon whose existence several creochains have grown, like the petals of a holy lotus. Of such chispological wonders of theology, a modern Tamil scholar, K.D. Thirunavukkarasu declares, ‘the fragrance of a lotus is the sum total of the fragrance of the individual petals that compose the lotus… If the petals are plucked away, the lotus ceases to exist. If what has happened or has been achieved in the regional spheres is bypassed, the composite image… gets distorted and disturbed.’ In the same fashion, much of the botany of the true Jesus has been stripped away, leaving us only the ‘distorted and disturbed’ image contained within the Gospels.


On arrival in India, & after a swift tour of Delhi’s many splendors, I flew north, rushing over the snowy crowns of the mighty Himalayan massif to the veritable rooftop of the world – Ladakh. On reaching lovely Leh, Ladakh’s little capital, I took a pleasant room with spectacular views of the mountain-gods. The situation is one of immense charm, surrounded on all sides by a grey, arid desert which bleeds into a jagged chain of mountains encircling the wide basin in which Leh sleepily sits. The town (one could hardly call it a city) has the feel of an oasis, swimming with zen-like calm, far from the chaos of lowland India. This extreme serenity was mellowed even further by a decidedly end-of-season atmosphere – many hotels and restaurants had been closed since mid-September – and only the hardiest of trekkers were in town in order to tour the region. Semi-autonomous Ladakh is more affectionately known as ‘Little Tibet,’ a moniker reflected in the faces and food which permeate the region. A remote and scarcely populated land, there is a wonderful austerity to the place, although modernity is slowly seeping into its ancient fibers. Its capital seemed a suitable place to start my hunt for Jesus, for during my studies I had come across several fellow travelers who had placed the prophet among these obscure & far-flung reaches of the Himalayas. In the twentieth century, where Lady Henrietta Merrick says, ‘in Leh is the legend of Christ who is called Issa… where he was joyously received and where he preached,’ Nicholas Roerich (paraphrasing a Tibetan legend), says Jesus, ‘was joyously accepted by monks and people of the lower class. And Jesus taught in the monasteries and in the bazaars; wherever the simple people gathered—there he taught… Among the Ladakis, Jesus passed many days, teaching them. And they loved him and when the time of his departure came they sorrowed as children.’ F.A. Plattner states the same legend had ‘spread widely through Ladakh, Sinkian and Mongolia,’ adding, ‘the Hindu postmaster of Leh, and several Ladaki Buddhists told us that in Leh not far from the Bazar, there still exists a pond near which stood an old tree. Under this tree, Christ preached to the people, before his departure to Palestine.‘ One would imagine that this tiny slice of Jesus’ life has never been preached in a Christian church – but does that really make it any less valid a biographical anecdote?


After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950s, thousands of refugees began to stream over the border into India, including the Dalai Lama himself, who currently resides in exile at Dharam Sala, a few hundred kilometers to the south of Ladakh. The Indian government warmly received the Tibetans, housing some of them 5 miles from Leh in the townlet of Choglamsar. It is there that I found the Central Institute for Buddhist Studies (CIBS), the contents of whose library I wished to engage with. The journey to CIBS was made by sharing one of the many jeeps that work the route, costing a meagre 20 rupees one-way. On reaching the campus, one encounters a series of clean, pristine, modern building blocks all agleam under a bright sun, with a backdrop of mountains quite conducive to academic endeavour. The spacious grounds were dotted with young, book-reading, claret-cloaked monks; pretty schoolgirls gossiping about life and studies; while other pupils serenely carved large statues of the Buddha in the open-air. Despite arriving unannounced, I was received warmly and given the use of their fascinating little library, whose comprehensive specialty books on both Ladakh and Mahayana Buddhism I could only have rummaged through in this obscure corner of the planet.


For almost two millennia, the version of Christ as depicted in the New Testament glimmered like a ghost among the meagre biographical offerings stored in the four Gospels. This entrenched state of affairs finally began to change towards the tail-end of the 19th century, when the standardized Jesus was all-of-a-sudden given a complete transfusion of life-blood through the publication of a single book. This infamous tome had the audacity to place Jesus in India during his so-called missing years – that wide width of time between his sighting in Jerusalem at the age of twelve, and his re-appearance in Judea at thirty. During this period, most Christian scholars have presumed him to have lived and worked as a carpenter in Judea, but a Russian named Nicholas Notovich offered a radically different view to this, firing off a literary cannonball still echoing with great resonance in these our modern days. Notovich had heard a rumour that a text containing information about an Indian Jesus was kept at the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh. On his first visit he was told there was no such manuscript, & left empty-handed. On the return to Leh, however, he was thrown off his horse & broke a leg. Returning to Hemis for recuperation, it was only then that the scrolls were shown to him. Translated & published as ‘The Life of Issa,’ this controversial account describes how Jesus traveled to the sub-continent as a teenager, where he pursued an intense program of study in the sacred scriptures. In the age of Jesus, the Indian world had become more sophisticated than the Roman behemoth even, incredibly advanced in spirituality, sciences & mining; stuffed full of teeming universities & prosperous trade centers, it was the true jewel in the global crown of civilization. For a youth with such an outstanding & expansive mind as Jesus, it was the natural place to harvest his education.

The most significant feature of Notovich’s book is that, for the first time, eastern & western traditions of Jesus are reconciled into one seamless text. The sources, as Notovich tells us, were ancient Tibetan scrolls which were translated to him by the monks at Hemis. According to these, the scrolls had been originally, ‘compiled from diverse copies written in the Thibetan tongue, translated from rolls belonging to the Lassa library and brought from India, Nepal, and Maghada NNotovich150200 years after Christ.’

The claims made by Notovich caused a great deal of consternation throughout the Christian world, with the beautiful and tranquil idyll of Hemis suddenly becoming the nervous eye at the centre of a theological hurricane. The growing furore startled the monks so much that they hid the scrolls, roundabout the time of the Second World War. Just before, in the 1920s, Swami Nirmalananda Giri described how Swami Trigunatitananda, ‘not only saw the manuscript in Himis, he also was shown two paintings of Jesus. One was a depiction of His conversation with the Samaritan Woman at the well. The other was of Jesus meditating in the Himalayan forest surrounded by wild beasts that were tamed by His very presence.’ The last westerner to see the scrolls was a Swiss matron named Elizabeth Caspari, who the chief librarian of Hemis at the time, Lama Nawong Zangpo, was permitted to examine the manuscripts. Although she could not understand their contents, Lama Zangpo declared to her quite succinctly that ‘these books say your Jesus was here.’

Since Caspari’s visit to Hemis, these precious scraps of paper seem to have vanished completely. Such a lack of hard evidence inevitably led to a growing sense of academic indifference to the text, treating it at best as an unprovable curio, and at worst a complete fraud.  Whether they were real or not, the legend of the scrolls had been firmly established, and throughout the twentieth century a series of scholars made the trek to Hemis hoping to see them at first hand. One of these hardy spirits was the young Holger Kersten, author of the widely-read, ‘Jesus Lived in India,’ who describes his experience as follows; ‘with an understanding smile, the wise lama instructed me first to find the Truth for myself, before attempting to convert the whole world… Finally, the old man informed me that the scriptures in question had already been looked for, but nothing could be found.’


Roll on four decades and it seems that somebody at Hemis had found the scrolls. This vital reference is found buried in an Indian newspaper story concerning a Buddhist spiritual leader called Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche, who just also happened to be the top lama of Hemis monastery. He told the Hindu Times (June, 23rd 2013), ‘we have a hand-written manuscript of Jesus Christ in our secret library but we have not yet got the opportunity to make it public to the world.’  If the top lama of Hemis, a man very much in the know, admits to possessing such controversial scrolls, who are we to claim any different? At a stroke ‘The Life of Issa’ by Notovich gains an element of academic credibility, and several months after the article’s appearance I found myself in a taxi, piercing the lofty desert of Ladakh on the way to Hemis monastery itself. On arrival at that magical place, the scrolls were as elusive as ever, for the lama had gone to Delhi for several weeks on spiritual business. I personally expect that one day in the future the scrolls might be put on display for the world to see, but on wandering amid the sheer beauty of Hemis, I could understand the case for keeping them hidden and preserve the tranquility of the monastery from hordes of camera-wielding pilgrims. Returning to Leh empty-handed, I would have to find Jesus another way, beginning with the relevant section of Notovich’s ‘Life’ which describes Issa’s time in India:

When Issa was thirteen years old, the age at which an Isrealite is expected to marry, the modest house of his parents became a meeting place of the rich & illustrious, who were anxious to have as son-in-law the young Issa, who was already celebrated for the edifying discourses he had made in the name of the All-powerful. Then Issa secretly absented himself from his father’s house: left Jerusalem, & in a train of merchants, journeyed towards the Sindh.

Fame spread the name of the marvelous youth along the northern Sindh, and when he came through the country of the five streams and Radjipoutan, the devotees of the god Djaïne asked him to stay among them.

But he left the deluded worshippers of Djaïne and went to Djagguernat, in the country of Orsis, where repose the mortal remains of Vyassa-Krishna, and where the white priests of Brahma welcomed him joyfully.

They taught him to read and to understand the Vedas, to cure physical ills by means of prayers, to teach and to expound the sacred Scriptures, to drive out evil desires from man and make him again in the likeness of God.

He spent six years in Djagguernat, in Radjagriha, in Benares, and in other holy cities. The common people loved Issa, for he lived in peace with the Vaisyas and the Sudras, to whom he taught the Holy Scriptures.

But the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas told him that they were forbidden by the great Para-Brahma to come near to those who were created from his belly and his feet;

That the Vaisyas might only hear the recital of the Vedas, and this only on the festal days, and That the Sudras were not only forbidden to attend the reading of the Vedas, but even to look on them; for they were condemned to perpetual servitude, as slaves of the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and even the Vaisyas.

“Death alone can enfranchise them from their servitude,” has said Para-Brahma. “Leave them, therefore, and come to adore with us the gods, whom you will make angry if you disobey them.”

But Issa, disregarding their words, remained with the Sudras, preaching against the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas. 

He declaimed strongly against man’s arrogating to himself the authority to deprive his
fellow-beings of their human and spiritual rights.

“Verily,” he said, “God has made no difference between his children, who are all alike dear to Him.”

The white priests and the warriors, who had learned of Issa’s discourse to the Sudras, resolved upon his death, and sent their servants to find the young teacher and slay him.

But Issa, warned by the Sudras of his danger, left by night Djagguernat, gained the mountain, and settled in the country of the Gautamides, where the great Buddha Sakya-Muni came to the world, among a people who worshipped the only and sublime Brahma.

When the just Issa had acquired the Pali language, he applied himself to the study of the sacred scrolls of the Sutras.

After six years of study, Issa, whom the Buddha had elected to spread his holy word, could perfectly expound the sacred scrolls.

He then left Nepaul and the Himalaya mountains, descended into the valley of Radjipoutan and directed his steps toward the West, everywhere preaching to the people the supreme perfection attainable by man.

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 Notovich’s ‘Djagguernat’ temple is the same as the Jaggernatha temple in Puri, over whose precincts I heard of the ‘Life of Issa’ in the first place. The Jesus it describes is a deeply erudite scholar who embraces the teachings of both Buddhist and Vedic theologies. He was a creative and independent thinker, branching out into his own personalized dogmas and preaching universal acceptance to all who wished to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Just as the Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrim, had reacted badly to Jesus in Judea, Issa’s radical new message was met with indignance by those who held the religious status quo in India. The main point of offence was Issa’s rejection of the caste system, and his pronouncement that, ‘God has made no difference between his children, who are all alike dear to Him,‘ a notion which neatly reflects the Gospels’, ‘Jesus pronounced many ‘woes’ to the scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites… For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.’ (Matthew 23:13). During my researches in the National Library in Edinburgh, I had discovered that the anti-establishment, God-loves-everybody message as preached in the Life of Issa is also promulgated by a Sanskrit text called the Vajra Sucha, composed 2000 years ago by a certain Asvaghosha…


Next Wednesday, 29/11/17

Chapter 5


The Chisper Effect 3 : The Ithica Frage

chisper_effectContinuing the weekly serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved


(Register with Completely Novel to…)




Chapter III

There has just passed a grand cycle of human time that begins & ends with two very different fellows named Homer. The first was an elegant & majestic wordsmith, the world’s most famous poet, the herald-in-chief of Western civilization. The more recent avatar was a beer-swilling, doh-carping, tv-watching cartoon character representing all that went wrong in said Western civilization. Despite such a vast difference in effectivity, more people have giggled through a single episode of The Simpsons than have ever read the Iliad in the entire history of mankind. Yet, it is the first Homer, one hopes, who will be remembered a long, long time after that yellow-skinned cartoon character is cast into the dusty tombs of our television graveyards. Homer the poet was the musical mastermind & maestro composer of two of the finest poems ever to grace humanity; the Iliad & the Odyssey. Reading through these poems, one is presented with two differing shades of Homer’s genius. Where the Iliad is a supreme & serious portrayal of human personality under duress, the Odyssey is primarily a superexotic tale of adventure. The two poems also differ in gender; whereas the Iliad is a militaristic theater full of men, the Odyssey is dominated by women: from the enchanting nymph Calypso, through Odysseus’ strong & faithful wife, Penelope, to the goddess Athene, who directs the action like some majestic conductress before a classical symphony orchestra.

Set in a long gone age of heroes, the two epics in tandem sing of the epoch in which was fought the Trojan War, a ten-year siege which began with the famous kidnapping of Helen of Troy. The story goes like this; after indulging in a little extra-marital bliss with Paris, Prince of Troy, that famously good-looking lady fled to Asia Minor with her new lover. Her husband in Sparta, Menaleus, was outraged;  with family honour at stake he & his brother Agamamenon embarked upon a famous pan-Grecian expedition to Troy. Cue a ten-year siege, the Wooden Horse, the toppling of the towers of Ilium – Troy’s local name – & the creation of the back story behind Homer’s wonderful poetry. Then, after the fall of Troy, the Greek heroes had to make their way back home, the adventures of one of whom, Odysseus, forms the chief matter of the Odyssey.


This brings us to the ‘Ithaca Frage,’ a phrase coined in the 19th century by German scholars battling furiously over the whereabouts of the home island of Odysseus. In these our modern days, Ithica is a member of the Ionian archipelago, off the western coast of the Greek mainland, of which island Martin Young says, ‘virtually all of the archaeology that has taken place on the Ionian Islands up to the Second World War was aimed at solving this ‘Ithaca Question.’ In the 19th century, for example, William Dorpfeld invested a great deal of time, money & effort in a fruitless search for Odyssean remains on the island of Leucas. If he would have read his Homer properly he would have known that Leucas was too far east, for when Homer says Ithica was ‘furthest to sea’ this can only mean one island – Cephalonia.

I am Odysseus, Laertes’ son, world-famed for stratagems: my name has reached the heavens. Bright Ithaca is my home: it has a mountain, Leaf-quivering Neriton, far visible. Around are many islands, close to each other, Doulichion and Same and wooded Zacynthos. Ithaca itself lies low, furthest to sea towards dusk; the rest, apart, face dawn and sun.

The tourist to the lovely, yet ultimately erroneously named island of modern Ithica, may embark on a plethora of tours through all the sights of Odyssean scripture. This ‘Ithaca’ was completely depopulated & unnamed only 500 years ago.  In 1504, the island’s Ottoman rulers began to hand out free land for settlers who, at a later date, possibly recognizing the income their future descendants could make from Donkey rides to the palace of Odysseus, gave their new home the name of Ithica. As late as 1572, the island was known as Val de Compere, as found on a map made by Thomas Porcacchi. Looking at the evidence in the 21st century, one can clearly see that a factochisp had taken place, & I determined upon establishing the truth. Thus, in 2011, I visited Cephalonia with a well-thumb’d copy of the Odyssey in my pack. A blog I worked on recorded my journey to the island;


How lovely look the Ionian Islands this morning, shadowy shapes crowning a deep sea-purple, under an endless canopy of cerulean blue sky! I am writing this amidst the fortress of Glarantza, a ruined city built & then abandoned in the medieval period. It lies a kilometer or so outside the townlet of Killini, from where, in a few hours, a red ferry shall speed me across the pure azurity of the Mediterranean Sea toward the mountain island that is Cephallonia. It is all a far cry from the reading rooms of the National Library of Scotland where I picked up my first hints that Cephalonia was the actual Ithica of the Odyssey. My initial suspicions had been confirmed as I sailed by the island from the north, whose mountain is indeed ‘far visible,‘ as Homer says. Disembarking many miles away at the port of Patras, it can still be made out along the western horizon. To the Cephalonians the mountain is called Ainos, but it is the Italian names, Monte Nero & Montagna Nera, which retain the Homeric Neritum. Cephalonia is definitely not ‘low-lying,’ as Homer describes Ithica, but the Roman geographer Strabo clarifies the situation;

Now although Homer’s phraseology presents incongruities of this kind, yet they are not poorly explained; for, in the first place, writers do not interpret chthamale as meaning “low-lying” here, but “lying near the mainland.”

I am now sat on the forward deck of my ferry to Cephalonia. Drawing closer to the mountain-island, a wonderful romantic vision set against a pinkening sky, I have taken out my copy of the Odyssey. It is the same one I had sent to me five years ago as I wintered on the Sicilian island of Marettimo. It was there that I learnt how Samuel Butler had visited Marettimo a century ago, & became positively obsessed with the island being the Odyssean Ithica. My interest piqued, I sent for the Odyssey from my library in Cumbria & joined in the game. Later that winter I even spent Valentine’s night with my girlfriend picnicking in the so-called Calypso’s Cave on the island of Gozo, by Malta. At this point I had wanted to press on to Ithica, but time & expense prevented it. It would take several more years before the inclination to visit the island had returned like a force 10 wind – only this time I have done my research.

I am feeling as if I was Odysseus in the hold of the Phaecian ship, making his final journey home. By my side on deck, & companion for my trip, is Paul Underwood, a talented musician 12 years my younger from Edinburgh. Skimming through my copy of the Odyssey, by now full of personal underlinings & scholia, I have been regaling him with readings of the passages that parallel our own journey to the island {Book 13}. This involves the landing of Odysseus at Phorcys Bay, a place I am determined & excited to find. My friend is equally as excited by the possibility of discovering the Phaecian treasures Odysseus hid in the cave. The idea of finding long-lost gold & jewels brought to our animated minds thoughts of Indiana Jonesian escapades along the Cephalonian coast. There is a scene in the first film of that series, The Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana Jones shows his Egyptian friend an amulet which is the key to the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. The Nazis are meanwhile searching vainly for it among the ruins of Tanis. ‘They are digging in the wrong place,’ yelps Sallah gleefully, before dancing around like a maniac. Similarily, in 2004, a vast, glossy tome of a book was released to rather too much fanfare, Odysseus Unbound, declaring the Paliki peninsular of Cephalonia was the Ithica of Odysseus. My personal studies in Edinburgh have instead located a different part of the island as the likeliest candidate for the palace.


The credibility of the Paliki peninsular theory has been slowly crumbling into the sea in the seven years between its publication & my visit to Cephalonia. Geologically speaking the long, narrow channel that the book said once made Paliki an island occurs nowhere else on the planet below the glacial line. Even one of the writers of the book, professor John Underhill, admitted on the 2nd October 2008, during an illustrated lecture at the Geological Society, that the channel lacks any non-artificial present-day analogue; but argued that in the Homeric period the channel might have been partly excavated by human action. He later opined that “the tectonic dislocation in this area is far more extreme than originally imaginedconsequently, the long yet extremely narrow channel path may not be relevant.” All this rather sounds like cats on a hot tin roof, & gently tapping my back pocket, where the notes I had made in Edinburgh nestled snugly, I await landfall with earnest. As we sail, there is not a cloud ahead to tarnish those ‘clear skies of Ithica.’



Ah, heady times indeed! Returning to my desk in 2017, let us continue our investigations into the Ithica Frage. In the Iliad, we read of how Odysseus led a contingent of 40 ships to Troy.

Odysseus led on the Cephallenians,
Soldiers from Ithaca; well wooded Neritum, Crocylea,
rugged Aegilips, from Zacynthus, Samos,
both those inhabiting the mainland
and those from cities on the facing shore.
Odysseus, as wise as Zeus, led these troops,
who came with him in twelve black ships.

In this passage we see that Ithica & Neritum are considered separate entities within the Cephalonian realm. Neritum, of course, would be the region about Mount Ainos in the south of Cephalonia, where in recent years a large Mycenaean megaron building & tholos tomb have been found at Tzannata, near the port of Polos. It was just further up the coast from Polos that I believe Odysseus made his return landfall at a place Homer called ‘Phorcys Cove,’ which I believe I discovered in 2011. The following account of the discovery is again taken from my blog.



The date is November 18th, 2011. I am currently writing this sat on a small cliff overlooking what I believe to be the Cove of Phorcys, as described in Book 13 of the Odyssey. Last night myself & Mr Paul Underwood landed on Cephalonia at the lovely harbor of Poros, camping a little north of the town by the beach. Ere the dawn I was up making preparations for my attempt at Phorcys Cove, reading & rereading the appropriate sections in my steadily fraying copy of the Odyssey.  Come the more-than-fine morning, after a hearty fire-cooked breakfast of eggs, pre-cooked sausages & genuine Heinz baked beans, we set off eagerly along the coast toward Sami. I have very strong reasons to believe that this is the site of the palace & town of the Odyssean Ithica. Its name, I presume, has thrown many off its scent, for Homer mentions a certain Same as being a separate island altogether. But names of such antiquity were prone to move about all over the place like electrons performing their spontaneous quantum leaps.

It was a brilliant morning, the warm sun a far cry from the chilly Scottish Autumn, & we thoroughly enjoyed our walk along the rocky rudiments of a coastal road, passing flocks of bell-ringing goats, bringing to mind Eumaeus who said, in the Odyssey; ‘here in Ithica eleven herds of goats graze up & down the coast’ Were these goats, eyeballing me with intense curiosity, the ancestors of those eleven herds, dwelling as they did on ancient Cephalonia like the twelve tribes did Israel? Continuing our stroll, we were accompanied by gorgeous mountains rising to our left, while luscious waters glimmered to our right. The sky was endless, & out of the sea rose the scattered isles of the Ionian archipelago; the nearest being modern Ithica, whose colours & features grew sharper as we headed north. A couple of hours hiking later we came to an open expanse of sloping ground, at the bottom of which was a gently curving bay. I had identified it by using Google Earth back in Edinburgh, & getting out my Homer, I quickly found the relevant passage;

As soon as that most brilliant star arose, which is sole herald of the light of dawn, then the seafaring ship approached the island. On Ithaca there is a bay of Phorcys, The old man of the sea: in it, two headlands, Projecting, sheared off, crouching from the harbor, Shield it from waves whipped up by blustering winds… They rowed inside: they knew the bay of old. The ship ran up the beach for half its length at speed: such strength was in the rowers’ arms.

As Odysseus approaches the Cove for the first time, we are given three topographical clues;

(i) The bay is named after the sea-god Phorcys
(ii) It is contained by two low, headlands which
jut out into the sea
(iii) There is a beach with enough sand-width to take half a ship


Looking at these clues, I was alerted to a curious pink-white rock formation-headland on the southern side of the bay.  It was an interesting moment, the sea breeze rustling through my notes as I stood at the sea’s edge, for to my wonder the mythology of Phorcys had turned into stone before me, as if petrified by the Medusa herself. I could see some kind of wingless stone dragon, & it was monsters such as these that Phorcys & his wife, Keto, were said to have presided over. As ancient mosaics depict Phorcys as a grey-haired, fish-tailed god, with spiky crab-like skin and crab-claw forelegs, so the rock formation before me possessed the same spiky crab-like skin. Phorcys & Keto had several horrific-looking children, including the monstrous Skylla (the crab) who devoured passing sailors, encountered by Odysseus in Book XII of the Odyssey. Of the others, two in particular seemed to converge on this rock image. The first was Ekhidna, a dragon, & the second were the gorgons, including the famous Medusa. They were said to have created the dangerous rocks & reefs all along the Greek coasts, & perhaps it was their petrifying gaze that turned Ekhidna to stone beside this very sea-bay.

To the north of the cove sat the remnants of what may have been another monstrous rock formation which today is just a line of eroded rocks peeping over the water’s surface. In between lay a small, sandy beach, large enough for half a boat, which would have been even larger with the lower water levels of three millennia ago, as attested by the fish farms of Ponza. Other features include the overhanging rocks mentioned by Homer, which line the cove, dramatic blocks of red earth that have been slowly sea-ravaged through time.

Here is the harbor of Phorcys, the Old Man of the Sea; & there at the head of the haven is the long-leaved olive-tree with the cave near by, the pleasant shady spot that is sacred to the Nymphs whom men call Naiads. Over there you can see its vaulted roof – it will put you in mind of many a solemn sacrifice you have made there to the Nymphs – while the forest-clad slopes behind are those of Mount Neriton.

To my astonishment, this small, beautiful portion of Cephalonian coast ticked every Homeric box; all three of the clues contained in the above passage can be applied to this lovely bay, over which I shall be making camp tonight.

(i) There is an olive tree at the head of the bay
(ii) There is an overarching cave sacred to the nymphs
(iii) Above it are the wooded slopes of Mount Neritum (Ainos)

Today, the whole area is full of olive trees, some of which are so gnarled & twisted they reek of great antiquity. The trees have literally swarmed up the hillsides all around, & it is easy to imagine that they are a great herboreal tribe descended from the single olive tree which once commanded the head of the cove. On venturing down to explore, I came across the very cavern Homer sang about. It truly was an astonishing moment: my research in Edinburgh had led me to this very stretch of Cephalonian coastline, & here was the cave before me!  After three thousand years of erosion, it has have lost some of its frontage, but there is still enough room to imagine religious ceremonies taking place – there is even standing room at the sea-ward side of the cave. The entrance to the sea is open, & affords a wonderful view, but there are also two other entrances: one north & one south, just as Homer says. The stone basins & jars are long gone, but there is a great supporting column of rock that perfectly fits Homer’s description of the Naiads spinning their cloth.

So saying, the goddess entered the shadowy cave and searched out its hiding-places. And Odysseus brought all the treasure thither, the gold and the stubborn bronze and the finely-wrought raiment, which the Phaeacians gave him. These things he carefully laid away

PB180016-1024x768 The cave I am currently exploring contains several places where one could hide treasure – but 3,500 years had removed both the treasure & the stone that guarded them. My friend was disappointed to find this, but it wasn’t surprising really, & our spirits remained undiminished. Tomorrow we hit the road once more, but heading back to Poros rather than in the footsteps of Odysseus, who left this bay in a more rugged fashion. The poem tells us;

Meanwhile Odysseus turned his back on the harbor & followed a rough track leading up into the woods & through the hills

The path taken by Odysseus would have been an ancient trackway which penetrates the rising valley behind me, separated by the two heights pretty much beginning at the cove.  Odysseus took to the long hill paths & set off out for his home city, calling on at Eumaeus’ hut for a wee while, near a certain ‘Raven’s Crag.’ I would love to have searched for the crag on this trip, but will have to return one day in the future to do it instead. What I can do this time is try & find the location of Odysseus’ palace, whose harbor-side location has baffled scholars for millennia. There is a clue in the text that tells us this was at least on the eastern side of the island, for in Book 2, Telemachus leaves Ithica on a breeze blowing from the west, which would have been impossible on the western side of the island.

And now, out of the West, Athene of the flashing eyes called up for them a steady following wind & sent it singing over the wine-dark sea.

I have suspicions that the harbor of Ithica is actually the modern day village of Sami – but this investigation I shall leave unto the morrow. Until then I shall remain at the Cove, & ruminate upon the time Homer saw it for himself, three thousand years ago.



Back in 2017, narrowing our search to the eastern parts of Cephalonia, let us focus on the two ports which serve sea-farers in our modern times. Poros, to the south, serves Zacynthus in the summer & Killini all year round. The other is Sami, Ithica’s deepest & best harbor, serving Patras on the mainland. Above the Sami harbor still stand the ruins of a classical settlement, one of the four city states of the Cephalonian Tetrapolis which flourished between the fifth & second centuries BC. Its two citadels cap the verdant hills of Palaiokastro & Agioi Fanentes, while the rest of the ruined city sprawls down into the foothills. Classical Sami was conquered by the Romans in 188 BC, & would maintain its prosperity until the 3rd century AD. Following a short period of decline, a monastery grew up at the site in the Byzantine period, the building of which utilized stones from the Hellenic city. This pattern of cannibalizing masonry suggests that the remnants of the palace of Odysseus may lie somewhere underneath Classical Sami.

An Odyssean palace at Sami fits into the general Mycenaean scheme of elevated & defensible positions, but as at the Akropolis in Athens, all traces of the settlement would have been destroyed by later building. It may not have been so durable in the first place: we are told in the Odyssey that Telemachus was astonished to see how grandly situated was the palace of Menaleus in Sparta. Back at Ithica, Telemachus describes a level ground on which Penelope’s suitors spent the daytime in playing sports; an arena mirrored by the wide, flat space one comes to when following the road down from the lofty citadel at Sami. Continuing the descent, about a kilometer further to the south, the charming modern-day village has a sea-front location which is a perfect fit for the harbor-town in the Odyssey. Behind its shoreline, the houses fan out into a large, triangular plain, the cultivable area called the agron Odysseus would have ploughed his fields as the war party of Agamemnon arrives to summon him to Troy.


Apart from the main road from the citadel, which winds down from the hills past the wonderful monastery & its wildening olives, there is also an ancient trackway which spills out of the hill about a kilometer to the west of the harbor. It is there, at a junction of highways, that we come to the site of a watering place as described in the Odyssey;

But when, as they went along the rugged path, they were near the city, and had come to a well-wrought, fair-flowing fountain, wherefrom the townsfolk drew water–this Ithacus had made, and Neritus, and Polyctor, and around was a grove of poplars, that grow by the waters, circling it on all sides, and down the cold water flowed from the rock above, and on the top was built an altar to the nymphs where all passers-by made offerings 

Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood seems to describe the same watering place, here called Roupaki Spring: ‘approximately 1 kilometre south of Sami town, on the eastern side of the road & at a short distance from the junction between the Sami-Argostoli & Sami-Poros roads, is a spring called Roupaki. East of the spring Kavvadias excavated some foundations which he thought could have been prehistoric, on account of some large pithos sherds close by. More recently, about 300m west of the spring, on the other side of the road, Marinatos excavated a curved wall which cut across the torrent bed & which he thought may have been a tumulus.’

Significantly, the Homeric fountain is said to have been created by the three legendary founders of Cephalonia: Ithacus, Neritus & Polyctor. To this day, three main highways intersect at the point; one leading to the Mycenaean ruins near Polos; the other into Sami; the last over to the Paliki peninsular, where a Mycenaean settlement once stood. From this we may conclude that there were three main principalities on the island of Cephalonia; the Neritum of Neritus, the Ithica of Odysseus & the Paliki of Polyctor. The latter’s Mycenaean settlement would be the never-been-found ‘Plyktorion’ given in the Homeric Scholia as being situated on Ithica, which further supports a Cephalonian origin of the home island of Odysseus.

With a little more archeology we may finally put the Ithica Frage to bed. Christina Souyoudzoglou-Haywood (I love that name) points out a Mycenaean house not far from the Rousaki Spring, situated on a small hill.

Vounias is a low spreading hill on the western side of the bay of Sami about 1k south of the village of Nea Vlachata (Karavomylos). The eastern side of the hill is a classic example of Karstic topography, as it is riddled with caves & treacherous chasms. But its summit & in particular its southern & western slopes bear rich soil & are planted with age old olive trees. On the summit of the hill, near its southern edge, Marinatos excavated the remains of a Mycenaean house which came to light during the construction of a lime kiln.

This seems an apt description of the farm of Odysseus’ father, Laertes, as given by Homer;

Meanwhile Ulysses and the others passed out of the town and soon reached the fair and well-tilled farm of Laertes, which he had reclaimed with infinite labour. Here was his house, with a lean-to running all round it, where the slaves who worked for him slept and sat and ate

The Odyssey gives us several clues as to the location & make-up of the farm of Laertes;

(i) After his reunion night with Penelope, Odysseus rises at dawn and goes to Laertes’ farm in the wooded part of Ithica.  To this day, the area around Vounias Hill remains wooded.

(ii) To get to Laertes’ farm, Odysseus has to cross the city from the palace. Looking at the plain from the citadel shows that the town of Sami lies slap-bang in the line of sight between the citadel & Vounias hill.

(iii) The rows of vines that grow to this day on Vounias hill are a perfect topographical match for the description in the Odyssey of its sloping vineyards, such as when we read, ‘he found his father alone on the vineyard terrace.’

When looking at the evidence, a Sami location for the Odyssean homeland makes sound sense. A simple, topographical factochisp is in play, & all we need to do is imagine the 16th century movement of the name ‘Ithica’ from Sami to an island just across the waters to its east, & everything fits together without flaw.


Next Wednesday, 22/11/17

Chapter 4

ASVAGHOSA (part 1) 

The Chisper Effect 2 : Princess Scota


Continuing the weekly serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved


(Register with Completely Novel to…)



It has long been acknowledged that one of the Earth’s most fertile islands lies off the eastern coast of Canada, whose first European settlers adorned with the most honorable name of Nova Scotia. The population remains vigorously proud of its Old World roots, indefinitely perpetuating the linguistic, athletic & literary heritage that sailed to its shores across the vast Atlantic from the herring-heavy sea-ports of Scotland. Especially vibrant among the communities of Cape Breton is a love of traditional Scottish music; from a tender Burnsian ballad to the swirling bewitchery of a fiddle-driven ceilidh. These snippets of Caledonian culture have helped to carve the spirit of the hardy Nova Scotian, who gazes fondly across the ocean stream, through the remote ruggedness of the mountain wilds, yon the serene beauty of the still-watered lochs, to the gargoyle-hewn city of Edinburgh, where beats the pulsing heart of the Scottish diaspora. When asked of their ancient kindred, most Nova Scotians are aware of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert the Bruce & William Wallace. Certain scholarly sorts will remember Kenneth MacAlpine, the great Scottish king who defeated & absorbed the Picts, creating the united nation that we moderns know as Scotland. A few enlightened sorts will recall the name of Fergus Mor, the leader of the Ulster Scots who crossed the Irish Sea to found the Kingdom of Dalriada, c.500AD. There will also be a cluster of Nova Scotian historians who have made notice of the references in classical literature to the Scotti, that tribe of Irish sea-pirates who harassed the British coastline during the days of the Roman Empire. In our deeper history, the Scots are lost to posterity, but for one obscure account, contained in the writings of a good number of medieval chroniclers, which states as fact these following cardinal points;

  • The Scots were named after an Egyptian princess called Scota
  • Scota married a Greek warrior called Gaythelos
  • They were driven from Egypt with many followers & eventually settled in Ireland.

My own interest in the topic began in the summer of 2011, while reading through a large & impressive hardback book by the Edinburgh-based artist Robert Powell. The text of one chapter, called by the intriguingly enticing, & virtually impossible to pronounce, ‘Polypanokatohypnopseudoscotichronicon’ was supplied by a certain Gregor Sloss, where one passage in particular caught my eye;

According to information collected some years ago from an elderly goatherd in the village of Krioneri, half-way up a mountain & in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Crete, the princess who founded Scotland was actually a Minoan, & the proof of this is that many Scots have dark hair

This is the first time, I believe, that the idea of Princess Scota being Minoan was ever muted in print. There was clearly a factochisp in play somewhere, & I began to wonder why Scota was considered a princess of both Egypt AND Minoa.


Centered on the fabulous palaces of Bronze Age Crete, Minoan culture flourished from c.2000 BC to c.1450BC, a period which saw the building of beautiful palaces, the creation of exquisite works of art & the invention of one of the world’s first alphabets – Linear A. It can be safely said that Minoan Crete is the cradle of European culture, whose capital was the magnificent palace at Knossos, in the north of the island. It was here that a 19th century archeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, discovered the very labyrinthine palatial complex of rooms that had been mythologized as the prison of the half-man, half-bull Minotaur. Previous to this great endeavor in the dust, academic consensus had regarded the legend as unprovable fancy… yet the truth in the tale was literally dug out of the ground. As for the veracity of Princess Scota, it was a faint rustic remembrance of her Cretan heritage, maintained over two & a half millennia, that proved to be an inextinguishable light into the past. I eventually tracked down Mr. Sloss in Edinburgh, a charming intellectual who told me the tale of that morning when he stumbled across the vital clue to unraveling the origin of the Scots:


 In 2009, while hiking through the orange-dotted Cretan countryside, I came across a village of about a hundred people called Krioneri, situated well off the tourist trail. Near the entrance to the village stood an old farmhouse, whose garden was full of blooming flowers & ripening vegetables. It was also home to one of those annoying Greek dogs who bark ferociously at strangers, whose incessant yelping brought its old owner out of the house to see what was going on. Noticing that I was a tourist, he asked me in reasonable English where I was headed. After replying that I was simply exploring the area he promptly, & very excitedly, invited me in for a drink.

His name was Manoles – short for Emmanuel – & he brought out some delicious home-made wine in old water bottles. Like most Greeks, he had a decent command of English & our conversation began to roll easily. After pleasantries were exchanged he asked me of my marital status, & on replying I was single he told me of the many beautiful women that lived on the island of Crete & urged me to find one of my own. After this, the conversation swung to my origins, & on telling him I was Scottish he said, “You know of course how Scotland was founded?”

“Go on,” I replied.

You are the Cretans of Britain & we are the Scots of Greece. Many years ago during the Minoan civilization, there were too many of us & a princess of Minoa went sailing with many Minoans – they travelled very far & founded new land – that is why many people in your country have dark hair, because of the princess!”

“That is amazing,” I told the old farmer, “In Scotland we have the same story, only the princess is Egyptian!”

“It is not amazing,” said Manoles with a wistful sigh, “but very sad! Everyone knows of the Vikings & the Pharaohs, but the Minoans have been forgotten… yet, I assure you the story I have told is true. I heard it from my father as he heard it from his – a tradition that has been in our family forever.”



 Mr. Sloss described to me how struck he had been by stumbling upon an old man in the middle of nowhere who knew all about Princess Scota. To him, the odds of his Manoles having read the Scotichronicon of Walter Bower – in which the Scota legend is chiefly preserved – was a long shot too far. I concurred most heartily, & after thanking him for an interesting story, parted his pleasant company for the academic cloisters of the Scottish National Library. During my studies, I have been fortunate enough to have had my residence in & around the UNESCO city of literature, Edinburgh. Along with the British Library, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Cambridge Library & the National Library of Wales, ever since 1662 the National Library of Scotland has been given a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom. Submerging my studies among the many tangled legends of Princess Scota, my first port of call was the Scotichronicon mentioned by Mr. Sloss. In reality this book is actually a paraphrase & continuation of an earlier history of Scotland, the Chronica Gentis Scotorum (1385) by John of Fordun. His magnificent & erudite work formed Scotland’s first attempt to provide its people with a continuous story, synthesizing the scattered droplets of history into a single stream, & it is by diving headlong into Fordun’s telling of the legend, translated by the grand old erudite 19th century Scottish scholar WF Skene, that we obtain our first glimpse of Princess Scota.

In the third Age, in the days of Moses, a certain king of one of the countries of Greece, Neolus, or Heolaus, by name, had a son, beautiful in countenance, but wayward in spirit, called Gaythelos, to whom he allowed no authority in the kingdom. Roused to anger, and backed by a numerous band of youths, Gaythelos disturbed his father’s kingdom by many cruel misdeeds, and angered his father and his people by his insolence. He was, therefore, driven out by force from his native land, and sailed to Egypt, where, being distinguished by courage and daring, and being of royal birth, he married Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh. Another Chronicle says that, in those days, all Egypt was overrun by the Ethiopians, who, according to their usual custom, laid waste the country from the mountains to the town of Memphis and the Great Sea; so that Gaythelos, the son of Neolus, one of Pharaoh’s allies, was sent to his assistance with a large army; and the king gave him his only daughter in marriage, to seal the compact.

 Although the marriage of Scota & Gaythelos was successful, the politics about their union were complex. It seems that Gaythelos was given the hand of the pharaoh’s daughter in return for his military assistance. Then, upon the death of the pharaoh, Gaythelos succeeded to the throne alongside his wife… an event which went down like a lead balloon among the Egyptians, with the Royal Couple soon being driven out of Egypt. John of Fordun records the story;

We read in another Chronicle — the remainder of the Egyptian people… being on their guard lest, once subject to the yoke of a foreign tyranny, they should not be able to shake it off again, gathered together their forces, and sent word to Gaythelos that, if he did not hasten, as much as possible, his departure from the kingdom, endless mischief would result to him and his without delay.

 Another Chronicle says : — Gaythelos, therefore, assembled his retainers, and, with his wife Scota, quitted Egypt

Fordun gives the exile of Gaythelos & Scota a very precise date, stating, ‘seven hundred and sixty years before the building of Rome, in the year 1510 B.C.’ The exact same year is also marked out by a chronicle known as the Parian Marble, inscribed on a stele found on the island of Paros. Erected in 263 BC, among its entries we may read that 1247 years previously – i.e. 1510 BC - ‘A ship with fifty oars sailed from Egypt to Greece, and was called Pentecontorus, and the daughters of Danaus……’ At this point, the stele is too weathered to contain more information, but we do know the story of the daughters of Danaus from other sources. These describe him as the progenitor of fifty black-skinned daughters (see Aeschylus) who fled to Greece from Egypt, a legend which we may now see as a creochisp of the Egyptian women who sailed with Scota, & would eventually find a new home with her in Ireland. It is no coincidence that Irish mythology contains the Tuatha de Dannan – a godlike tribe said to be among the earliest settlers. Chispologically speaking, Danaus & Danaan are a positive match, & it seems that the Daughters of Danaus & the Tuatha are the bookends of the great migration of Scota, Gaythelos, & their conjoined people.

The date provided by John of Fordun also helps us solve one of the great modern conundrums of history & Egyptology. According to the Ebers Papyrus, in the ninth regnal year of Amenhotep I there was a helical rising of Sirius. If this astronomical reading was taken from Thebes, it would be dated to 1517 BC, which means Amenhotep would have taken the throne in 1526 BC. This is known as the Low Chronology. According to Manetho, Amenhotep I reigned 21 years, supported by the tomb biography of his magician which explicitly states he served his pharaoh for 21 years. This means that according to the Low Chronology, Amenhotep I would be alive both sides of 1510 BC, suggesting John of Fordun was wrong. However, if the reading was taken from Memphis, then the rising would have occurred in 1537 BC & Amenhotep would have taken the throne in 1546 BC. This is known as the High Chronology. The 13-year reign of his successor, Thutmose I, would then span the years 1525-1512 BC, strongly suggesting that he was the pharaoh which John of Fordun says was the father of Princess Scota. Thutmose was the third pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty as instigated by Ahmose I, whose dates we can now properly give thanks to the brilliant historical laser-focus of John of Fordun, who has finally helped settle the High-Low Chronology conundrum.


 Ahmose I (1571-1546 B.C.)

Amenhotep I (1546-1525 B.C.)

Thutmose I (1525-1512 B.C.)

Thutmose II (1512-1498 B.C.)

 That Thutmose I was Gaythelos’ father-in-law is evinced by deeper analysis of Fordun’s; ‘all Egypt was overrun by the Ethiopians, who, according to their usual custom, laid waste the country from the mountains to the town of Memphis and the Great Sea; so that Gaythelos, the son of Neolus, one of Pharaoh’s allies, was sent to his assistance with a large army.’ To classical historians such as Herodotus & Diodorus Siculus, Ethiopia was the territory immediately to the south of Egypt, i.e. Nubia. These battles between Gaythelos & the Ethiopians/Nubians connect to campaigns fought by Thutmose I in the early years of his reign. Inscriptions at the tomb of Ahmose, son of Ebana, tell us that in the second regnal year of Thutmose (1524 BC), the pharaoh traveled down the Nile & slew the Nubian king. Playing a prominent part in this & other successful expeditions would win Gaythelos much renown; so much so that the Pharaoh offered him his daughter’s hand in marriage. This leads our investigations to the now-ruined 3,500 year-old palace in the confines of Tell el-Dab’a, the site of ancient ‘Avaris.’ On excavating the ruins in the 1980s, Manfred Bietak unearthed an 18th Dynasty royal compound built by Ahmose I. The palace of Avaris was evidently used as a military base, one which could have housed Gaythelos & his ‘spirited band of youths.’ Alongside magazines, huge grain silos & the burials of  both horses & soldiers, Bietak (ii) tells us; ‘we have evidence that troops were stationed here in the form of a series of bone, flint & bronze arrowheads & carefully prepared stone missiles found in the palace.’


In the ancient gardens adjoining the palace at Avaris, archeologists found a solid connection to the legend of Gaythelos as given by Manoles & Gregor Sloss. It is an extremely rare occurrence to find one of the famously beautiful wall paintings of the Minoans outside of Crete, but portions of one such fresco were clearly defined at Avaris. Possessing all the hallmarks of Minoan artistry, the fragments share the same techniques applied to paintings at Knossos, including the mixing of buon fresco and the painting of tempera upon a polished lime-plaster surface. Numerous Minoan motifs are recognizable at Avaris, such as bull-leaping, horses set at the flying gallop & majestic griffins. ‘The only real match for the wall-paintings,’ states Bietak (i), ‘comes on the walls of the mighty Minoan palace at Knossos whose half-rosette, triglyphic frieze matches the motifs at Avaris.’ The Knossian link seems certain, especially when the Avaris fragments depict similar scenes to Crete’s northern craggy mountains, while according to Bietak (i) the Avaris bull-leaping arena ‘can be identified with the western court at Knossos, since it was situated according to our representation at the edge of open landscape but connected with the palace.’

Modern scholars, ruminating on the existence of these Minoan frescoes, have tentatively approached the idea of an Egypto-Minoan royal match. V.A. Hankey mused upon the matter with, ‘one very attractive hypothesis that has suggested itself is that of a dynastic marriage.’ Bietak elaborates by stating the Griffin images on the paintings are; ‘especially appropriate to such a scenario. According to Reusch & Marinatos, griffins were primarily the protective companions of goddesses & queens. Just as a heraldric pair of griffins decorate the throne room at Knossos, so our large griffin could equally be from a queen’s throne room.’ The only record of a marriage between Greek & Egyptian royalty in the era of Ahmose I, or his descendants, is that of Gaythelos & Scota, who we may now place quite convincingly in the palace of Avaris. This takes a significant step towards validating the rustic lore of central Crete, which remembers Scota not as an Egyptian princess, but as a Minoan. The truth it seems is that she was Egyptian, but she married a Minoan. A solid link between Gaythelos & Crete is mentioned by the 17th century Irish historian, Geoffrey Keating:

That same night a serpent came upon Gaedheal (Gaythelos) as he was swimming, and wounded him so that he was at the point of death… His people told Niul to take the lad to Moses; and he took Gaedheal into the presence of Moses. Moses prayed to God, and applied the rod he held in his hand to the wound, and thus healed it. And Moses said that, in what place soever the stock of that youth would settle, there no serpent would ever have venom, and this is verified in Crete, an island in Greece, in which some of his posterity are.

It is by the other name of Avaris, Peru-nefer, or ‘House of Nefer’ – later rebuilt as Piramesse – which brings us neatly to the Egyptian name of Scota. This princess, the eponymous matriarch of all Scots, can be only one of the two daughters sired by Thutmose I; Neferubity or Hatshephut. Of all the royal princesses of that era, the mummy of Neferubity has never been found, while her sister was definitively buried in the Valley of the Kings. Logic dictates that the missing Neferubity must have been Scota. The first element of her native name – Nfrw – means ‘beauty,’ while the second element – Bity – represents Lower Egypt (the Nile Delta). The full translation of Neferubity would be ‘Beauty of Lower Egypt,’ exactly where the palatial abode at Avaris is situated. Very little is known about her, & she is mentioned only by the meagrest handful of finds. She is depicted as a child on the tomb of her royal tutor Paheri, at El-Kab, while in a cartouche at her sister Hatshepsut’s Deir-el-Bahari mortuary temple she is a toddler stood below her parents, & is crucially named as the ‘king’s daughter.’ That she is never depicted in Egypt as an adult sits complicitly with a marriage to Gaythelos in her youth, & an early political exile. Such an act by the Egyptian people was contrary to the matrilineal laws of pharaonic succession; on Thutmose’s death the throne should have gone to Neferubity – the eldest daughter of the ‘Great Royal Wife,’ Queen Ahmose-Nefertati. The throne was instead passed illegitimately to Neferubity’s half-brother, Akhepenere, who took the title Thutmose II. To validate this irregularity, Neferubity’s younger sister Hatshepsut would later marry Thutmose II, consolidating her half-brother’s usurpation of the throne.

Nefrubity with Queen Ahmose and Pharaoh Thutmose I at Deir el-Bahari.
Neferubity with Queen Ahmose and Pharaoh Thutmose I at Deir el-Bahari.

If Scota was originally an Egyptian Princess called Neferubity, then how came she by the name of Scota? The word springs from a Greek source, Skotos, which means moral or physical darkness. The latter is easily applied to a dark-skinned Neferubity, for ruling members of the 18th dynasty were portrayed, in the main, as black or dark brown, suggesting a Nubian origin. AH Gardiner states; ‘it is apparent from images of the Egyptians that they were dark-skinned. The facial features of the sphinx possess all the attributes of the African negro.’ Let us imagine for a moment a fair-skinned Minoan gazing upon a beautiful, dark-complexioned Egyptian princess. That they consciously remembered the exotic bride of Gaythelos as ‘skotos’ originates in a human instinct still rife with us today, for whether the liberal modern likes it or not, we all possess a basic, subconscious & tribalistic urge to acknowledge the colour of skin. ‘That is why many people in your country have dark hair,’ had said Manoles, ‘because of the princess!” Proof of Neferubity’s ‘nick-name’ lingered on into classical times, in a now-ruined Minoan settlement on the southern shores of Crete, facing Egypt. The site is known as Phaestus, where in classical times a temple was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite, revered locally under the epithet Scotia. A few miles from Phaestos lie the ruins of Kommos, a coastal harbor settlement which must have served the Minoan noblemen of the area rather like the port of Ostia served ancient Rome. Its connection to Neferubity’s Egypt comes through a series of large civic structures, whose masonry echoes the massive building blocks of the pharaohs. There are also a number of pottery finds at Phaestus dated to the LM I period of archeology (Lesser Minoan 1), 1600-1500 BC. These heralded from countries such as Cyprus, Syria, Egypt & Palestine, which show Kommos very much part of the same trade network as that of Avaris. Bietak tells us, ‘archeological material from Tell el-Daba from the time of the early New Kingdom… amphorae & other vessels from Syria-Palestine continued to be imported in substantial quantities plus Cypriot imports.’

The basic idea is that the black skinned Neferubity would eventually be worshiped at Phaestus as Aphrodite Scotia.  Worship of the goddess Aphrodite is late, post-dating the days of Neferubity by several centuries, & the etymology of her name is unknown.  As or her name, ‘no explanation, has been offered,’ says Martin Bernal,  ‘for the… suffix –dite.’ Through Chispology, however, Scota’s true Egyptian name proceeds in regal procession through the mists of history.


Heredotus tells us, ‘after a long lapse of time the names of the gods came to Greece from Egypt,’ & the Greek goddess of love being originally the ‘Beauty of Lower Egypt’ makes perfect sense. Between Egypt & ancient Greece, both physically & culturally, comes Minoan Crete, & we can observe in the names of gods & goddesses recorded in Linear A, on tablets found across Crete & beyond, how Mycynaean Greeks incorporated Minoan deities into their own pantheon.

Atana Potinija = Athena
Ereutija = Eileithyia
Posedaone = Poseidon
Pajawone = Paian was a classical epithet for Apollo
Are = Ares
Enuwarijo = Enyalios was a classical epithet for Ares. 

5.352A significant link between Aphrodite & Neferubity comes through the association of Aphrodite with an Egyptian snake-goddess called Wadjet, who was worship’d at an ancient city near Memphis given the name Aphroditopolis by the Greeks. Both Wadjet & Aphrodite were celebrated for their abilities to inspire fertility & love, & it is in the phallic nature of the snake that we may see the association between Wadjet, Aphrodite & sex. It is in the bringing of Wadjet-worship to Crete by Neferubity that we can discern the true origins of several mysterious statuettes discovered in Crete by Arthur Evans. In 1903 he came across two faïence figurines within the ‘Temple of Repositories’ at Knossos, who wore girdles identical to the one worn by Aphrodite as she embarked on a seduction of Zeus. On examining the irregular hieroglyphs carved on the base of one of his figurines, Evans declared them to have been engraved locally & suggested there had once been a cult to Wadjet on Crete. Other finds include a ritual snake tube with undulating handles & conical cup discovered at Kommos, another snakewoman idol found by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd amid the ruins of the Minoan palace at Gournià, & fragments of several female figurines discovered by Federico Halbherr near Gortyna.


On coming to the island as the beautiful consort of Gaythelos, Neferubity would have imported & spread the worship of Wadjet throughout the island. A flamboyant figure, flowering with the vibrant fashions of Thebes, to the rustic Minoan she would have seemed divine. Her deification ran in the family, for the wings of popular acclaim had also lifted to the highest halls of Heaven her grandfather, Amenhotep I. In that same era, a certain pharaoh of Egypt called Seuserenre implanted the idea that he was divine in his own people by declaring himself to be ‘the Good God.’  His full name was Seuserenre Khyan, whose title as ‘Ruler of the Foreign Land’ has been found on seals all across the Near East, including an alabaster jar-lid discovered at Knossos. This gives Seuserenre a direct link to Crete, where another mortal king called Zeus had been deified in exactly the same period. I very much believe they were the same person, for ‘besides assuming the Egyptian throne-name, Seuserenre,’ writes William C Hayes, ‘Khyan concocted for himself the Horus name, ‘Embracer-of-regions,’ suggestive of world-wide domination.’ From Seuserenre’s name & status we are able to transchisper to the great god of Olympus with ease. Diodorus Siculus, for example, places Zeus on the throne of Egypt & gives him the title of ‘King of the Entire World,’ just as Seuserenre is described.

According to the third century BC Cyrenaic philosopher, Euhemerus, Zeus had been a majestic, but very mortal, law-giver who had been deified into the greatest god of the Hellenic pantheon. He is said to have been born on Crete – at Mount Ida – & also be buried on the island. ‘Later Cretan tradition,’ cites Sir Arthur Evans, ‘has persistently connected the tomb of Zeus with Mount Juktas, which rises as the most prominent height on the land side above the site of Knossos.’  According to Greek tradition, Zeus had a son called Epaphus, or Apis, which is a neat chispological match for Seuserenre’s successor in Egypt, Apepi. Furthermore, connected to pharaoh Apepi are two females who seem to have entered the Greek pantheon; his sister Tani, as attested on a door of a shrine in Avaris, & his daughter Herit. These names philochisp into Athena & Hera, two of the most prominent goddesses of Olympus. More proof that Zeus was Seuserenre comes in the ‘Fables’ of Gaius Julius Hyginus, in which Zeus ‘bade Epaphus, whom he begat by Io, fortify the towns in Egypt and rule there. First of all he founded Memphis, and then many others.’ This brings us full circle, for Epaphus was said to be the father of Danaus, whose daughters we have already associated with the exile of Scota. The date of their departure from Egypt, 1510 BC, fits perfectly into the epoch of Seuserenre, who ruled two generations before them at the turn of the 16th century BC.


Using Chispology, we have seen how the name Zeus is a transchisperal shortening of Seuserenre. Knowing such historical transmission is possible, we can now look at another mysterious Egyptian pharaoh called Sesostris, for ‘Seuse’ & ‘Seso’ are remarkably similar phonetically. Sesostris appears in the Histories of Herodotus, who is said to have led his armies into Asia, Africa & Europe. In the latter campaign he defeated the Thracians of northern Greece, which is an identical conflict to that fought by Zeus against the Titans, who also heralded from Thrace. Just as Zeus was the ‘King of the Entire World,’ & Seuserenre was ‘Embracer-of-regions,’ the Roman historian Strabo tells us that Sesostris also conquered the world. It is evident they are all the same man, & it is through The Chisper Effect that we have woven their individual strands into a single personage. In the same way, the romantic legend behind the exile of Scota & Gaythelos from Egypt left traces in different mythomemes, temples & in the very ground itself, whose scattered shards I hope to have herein reassembled into some kind of cohesive piece of Bronze Age pottery.


Next Wednesday, 15/11/17

Chapter 3


The Chisper Effect 1 : Chispology


Beginning the weekly serialisation of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved


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These are the historical observations, methodical inquiries & druidical calculations made by Damian Beeson Bullen of Burnley. My task has been one of the mightiest of challenges; the extreme scarcity of evidence left to us by the deep past is by far the largest bar to ascertaining a proper historical truth. Equally as counter-productive is the prevalent tendency among modern scholars to treat ancient reports with suspicion, to disrespect venerable writers as mere myth-makers, as corrupt & devious Machiavellians with hidden agendas, especially when some nugget crops up which runs against the grain of their long-wrought, personal theories. Despite this state of affairs, I am rather of the opinion that we broad-minded moderns must respect everything that we are given as we say, ‘this is what we have got, this is what has been left to us,’ and construct our histories according to the evidence.

These sources which have survived to the modern day have come from the minds of intelligent people, the intellectual elite of an age. We must remember that each of these clue-givers represents the tip of an iceberg, for beneath the surface these ancient scholars would have conducted their own research into the matter from accounts long lost & forgotten. A great many of these ice-berg tips have reached modernity, but they are still a scanty sample, leaving great gaps in the historical canvas like spaces in an extremely difficult suduko square.


The fabric that is the multi-hued tapestry of history contains holes which have been darned only by the imaginations of historians. They will often use the same methods that paleontologists use when reconstructing an extinct animal entire from a single bone, or when archaeologists conjure civilizations from half a broken pot! In many cases these ‘solutions’ have left numerous loose threads dangling, when tugging upon one with any weight of serious thought unravels the entire needlework completely. On first coming to my studies, I soon discovered that certain sections of historical research were actually in a state of chronic disarray; whether down to this defective academic needlework, or more likely an error in factual recognizance made by our earliest historians. Mistakes of the latter sort would then be perpetuated by centuries of scholars & scribes who, not knowing the material they were using was corrupt, maintained such errors as truth. Only by a painstaking examination of all the clues possible may we at some point discover if what we are reading is the actual truth, or is only a mere factoid; that is to say a fact-shaped falsity that has become generally believed. It has been my delight & my duty to detect & to correct as many of these factoids as I could find, utilizing a new investigative process known as Chispology.

What the modern sciences of forensics & ballistics are to criminal justice, so Chispology is the new tool in which to unearth, to identify, to understand & to assemble the evidence left to us by posterity. Like a microscope scouring the vast metaverses of history, Chispology helps us hone in on emerging themes, helps us deviate from false narratives & helps us to take things at prima facea, free from the obscuring mists of time & happenstance. When looking at any piece of history, there are five separate forces which may affect an event. The first is its Realization, that is to say the moment or moments when an event occurred. The second is its Remembrance, whether contained in the memories of witnesses, or a more tactile entity such as the bullet-holes in the masonry of Budapest, pommeled into the masonry during the Hungarian rising of 1956. The third force to effect historical events is their Recording, the moment when they are stored for posterity by some enduring medium such as the printed page or via its modern-day version, the website. From here the information diverges, whether in an act of Reproduction – i.e. copying the story with varying degrees of accuracy – or Regurgitation, a retelling, a remoulding, a refashioning of the tale.

Between an event’s realization and its recording, a great many factors may affect its remembrance, which inevitably results in a distortion of the truth. Over passages of time, people are prone to forget the facts of a matter, or perhaps be influenced by personal bias when it comes to the retelling. ‘History is written by the victors,’ piped Winston Churchill, and after winning the Second World War it was his 6-volume epic on the affair which became the seminal touchstone for all future students of the war. As time spins on further from an event’s realization, especially those of hundreds – if not thousands – of years ago, items of remembrance become rarer & rarer, opening themselves up to such misinterpretations that one false academic assumption can send scholars spinning off into barren cul-de-sacs for centuries.


These alterations in remembrance occur under the auspices of what I have labelled the ‘Chisper Effect,’ named after the children’s parlor game, Chinese Whispers, in which a bunch of noisy kids with chocolate smudged-faces gather together in a circle. A single sentence whispered ear-to-ear, and by the time that string of words has traveled the circuit it has almost inevitably ben altered in sound & sense. In the same fashion, an alteration of sound and sense has affected a lot of our historical information. In this day and age, the era of mass communication, a piece of writing can be sent to billions right across the world without it changing one iota. Things were very, very different in the past, however; until the advent of printing in the 15th century names, places, dates etc. were oftentimes corrupted through transmission, whether orally or through the scribal transliteration of texts. Where Sir Frederick Kenyon writes, ‘the human hand and brain have not yet been created which would copy the whole of a long work absolutely without error,’ the Roman poet Martial, infuriated by this lack of accuracy, complained, ‘if any poems… seem to you either too obscure or not quite good Latin, not mine is the mistake: the copyist spoiled them in his haste to complete for you his tale of verses.’ As centuries pass, and new alterations are bolted onto the old, the original names and bona fide facts became ever more obscured in the mists of history. Modern academia is faced with this annoyingly messy morass of information, a jiggedy jumble which has baffled the best of brains, but once we begin to understand the processes of the Chisper Effect, we may begin to make sense of that maddening jumble. If history is a kaleidoscopic patchwork of confused accounts, then Chispology is the lens that coalesces the evidence into a cohesive & logical depiction.

I have called an identifiable occasion of alteration in an act of historical remembrance a Chisper, of which there are three principle forms, or Transchispers. Of these, the Philochisp is a subtle phonetical variation that is obtained through the transmission of a word or phrase. The Factochisp is a distortion of an event’s ‘realisation’ into something different to that which occurred. The Creochisp is an embellishment of an event, its regurgitation, a milder form of distortion that has been influenced by the original, but takes on a whole new spirit of its own. The more mouths & minds through which information passes, the more open to corruption becomes the truth. These moments of alteration can be strung together into ‘chains’ known as Philochains, Creochains and Factochains, which may then intertwine like an infuriating jumble of thick wooly thread. Here follow two examples, both of which spring from the same event, being: John stole five hundred turkeys from the market.



John stole five hundred turkeys from the market.

Jane stole five hundred turkeys from the market.

Jane stole five hungry turkeys from the market.



John stole five hundred turkeys from the market.

John stole five hundred chickens from the market.

John stole five hundred chickens from the farm.


The two sentences, ‘John stole five hundred chickens from the farm,’ & ‘Jane stole five hungry turkeys from the market,’ seem the record of quite different events. But we in the know understand they are both errant remembrances of a singular happening. It is the chispologist’s task to unravel these chispers, as if they were following a piece of thread through a maze to the pointed rock on which the ball of yarn was caught. When analyzing such tangles, the good student will learn to think outside the box, to acquire an instinctual feel for the similarities between Jane’s stealing of five chickens & John’s stealing of five hundred turkeys, then enable themselves with the tools which shall aid them in investigating & identifying the chispers which shall lead them back to their common source of realisation.

Of the three species of chisper, when it comes to historical investigations the Philochisp is the most prominent. These may be easily observable, as when the English Peter becomes the Dutch Pieter; the Albanian Petro, the Indonesian Petrus & the Spanish Pedro. Note how, in the Spanish version, the letter ‘t’ has been changed to a ‘d,’ while the –er ending has become -ro. A copyist’s error here & may lead to something like ‘Badro’ & we are presented with a name from which only faint hints of ‘Peter’ may be discerned. The student of Chispology must be aware of vast varieties in languages & dialects – some alive, some dead – through which a name may have traveled, before arriving on the page or screen before us. About a thousand years ago, for example, a fishing village near Newcastle was given a plethora of differing names; including Witelei, Wyteley, Hwyteleg, Witelithe, Wheteley, Wytheleye, Whitlaw, Whitlathe & Whitlag – none of which are an exact fit for the standardised ‘Whitley Bay.’


Imagine an underground train travelling through Delhi during the Commonwealth Games of 2010. Three consecutive carriages are filled with the visiting natives of three separate countries – in the first are Mauris from New Zealand, in the second are Zulus from South Africa and in the third are Inuits from Canada. On to the train steps an itinerant singer from Rajasthan, whose sweet voice entertains the carriages to the accompaniment of a stringed sarangi. As he makes his way through the train collecting money, each set of visitors asks him his name. That night, during animated meal-time conversations, all three sets of visitors remember the singer’s name, which has now been subtly changed through the lingual processes of each of their three languages, resulting in three different versions of the original. Twenty-five years later, at three separate reunion dinners, the Rajhastani singer is spoken of again, only this time no-one can quite remember what he was called. A name is mentioned, which the company agrees to along the lines of, ‘yes that sounds right,’ but of course it is not the same, and the name has changed yet again through the mnemonic processes of the Chisper Effect. By this point in the process, as it made its way through time and language, six different versions of the singer’s name have developed out of the original

An alternative name for a philochain is the more poetic-sounding Babel-Chain, after the biblical Tower of Babel in which God divided the world’s original language. Just as normal chains are only as strong as its weakest link, the Babel-Chain works best when each philochisp is supported by confirmable facts. Without the back-up of historical evidence, all we would possess is a simple list of phonetically interconnected names, & quite a good deal of historical research stands on such shaky ground. A good example of a well-supported babel-chain is found within the mythology of King Arthur, in which the name of his wife, Guinevere, appears with five variant spellings.

If you could spare a moment to say the following names out aloud, slowly and in sequence, you should be able to feel each philochisp as it occurs.







When comparing the names Gwenhwyfar and Wander, it would appear strange to suggest they were the same woman, but analyzing the sources shows both names have been ascribed to the legendary queen of King Arthur.

Three unbridled ravagings of the Isle of Britain: The first of them, when Medrawd came to Arthur’s court in Celli Wig in Cornwall; he left neither food nor drink in the court he did not consume, and he also pulled Gwenhwyfar out of her chair of state (The Welsh Triads C.13th)

On the following day, the British camp was ransacked. In it were discovered Arthur’s consort Queen Guanora, and no few men and women of noble blood (Hector Boece C.16th)

It is the scene of innumerable legends, which agree in representing it as the residence or prison of the infamous Vanora or Guinevar, who appears in the local traditions under the more homely appellation of Queen Wander, and is generally described as a malignant giantess (The New Statistical Account of Scotland 1845)

As I proceed through my investigations, I hope to bring together more Gwenhwyfars and Wanders, interconnecting their variant names within webs of external evidence, & square by square fill up that historical suduko square. Before I commence the elucidation of my investigations, however, & to get us all into just the right mindset, let us examine two direct examples of how Chispology can be used to eke out the truth in long-fabled mysteries. The first is found in the Book of Genesis, where we read at the very start, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens & earth,’ which is soon followed by the introduction of Noah’s Ark into world history. After the floodwaters subside to leave a sparklingly fresh planet Earth, & after an awful lot of ‘begatting,’ we come to one of the earliest Biblical patriarchs. A young fellow known as Joseph, he is more famous these days for being the all-singing, all-dancing, technicolour-dreamcoat-wearing fellow of an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical. The realisation of the story, however, is no fanciful fairytale, for an actual archeological record of his existence was discovered during the 1907-08 excavations at Lisht, a village to the south of Cairo. Excavations uncovered four relief blocks, all seemingly from a single ancient scene which had been broken into pieces by the ravages of time. Of these blocks, the largest bears an Egyptian name, Sobeknahkt, who was a royal official under pharaoh Amenemhat I. This leads us to a sentence in the Book of Genesis (41:45), which reads;

Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-panea

Sob               Zaph

Ek                He

Nahkt                Nath

As I have said, a babel-chain is at its best when supported by other evidence. Luckily, the four blocks at Lisht give us more information on Sobeknahkt that links him to Joseph. His title, as given by the blocks, was Royal Chief Steward, fitting perfectly with Genesis 45:8, which states; ‘So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ The blocks also give Sobeknahkt the title ‘Chief of the Friends,’ meaning he would have been the most trustworthy of all the pharaoh’s officials, reflected by the Biblical pharaoh’s proclamation to Joseph of; ‘Only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ The blocks at Lisht also name a woman described as ‘beloved Dejeb-nut’ who belonged to Sobeknahkt’s family. This is an Egyptian philochisp of the Hebrew name Di-Nah, who was said to be the sister of Joseph. The blocks also depict Sobeknahkt’s ‘beloved father,’ whom we may now presume was the Biblical patriarch, Jacob.


Significantly, one of the blocks shows Sobeknahkt filling storage jars, just as Joseph was said to lay aside one fifth of Egypt’s produce in preparation for famine. Genesis 41:48 reads; ‘He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it.’ That a major famine occurred during this period is evinced elsewhere by an ancient Egyptian text known as ‘The Teaching of King Amenemhat,’ where we find a reference to that pharaoh’s anti-famine measures; ‘None hungered in my years, none thirsted then. Men rested through what I had done, and told tales of me.’ The Biblical parallel to this is, ‘The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread.’ Yet another piece of external evidence can be found in the reign of either Amenemhat or his successor Sensuret I, when a farmer named Heqanakht mentions that although a great famine came to Egypt, there was no hunger in the land; ‘Do not worry about me! Behold, I am healthy and alive. Behold, you are like one who can eat his fill, when he was (already so) hungry that he had sunken eyes. Behold, the whole of Egypt has died (and) you did not hunger.

Here we have an early success, based on a simple philochisp between Zaphenath & Sobeknahkt, which we supported by valid historical evidence. Our second example is more complex, & we will have to recognize not only philochisps, but factochips & creochisps also. The case in question is the identity of the man behind the legend that is Robin Hood, the Lincoln Green wearing, bow-wielding outlaw of Sherwood Forest. We know he lived before 1377, when a mention of him appears in the poem Piers Ploughman by William Langland; ‘I can not parfitli mi paternoster, as the preist it singeth / But I can the ryms of Robin Hode, and Randolf Erl of Chester.’ A 15th century Scottish historian called John of Fordun then gives ‘Robin’ a very solid date – that of 1265. He writes, ‘In that year also [1265] the disinherited English barons and those loyal to the king clashed fiercely; amongst them Roger de Mortimer occupied the Welsh Marches and John-de-Eyville occupied the Isle of Ely; Robert Hood was an outlaw amongst the woodland briar’s and thorns.’

Fordun’s information is a regurgitated creochisp of the actual truth. As he researched the matter, he came across information that a certain Robert Hode was Robin Hood, & that his epithet or surname came from his place of residence, Hood or Hode Castle at Kilburn, North Yorkshire. On investigating further, John of Fordun must have discovered that the property had once been in the hands of the D’Eyville family, whose principle member was Sir John D’Eyville, the baron who ‘occupied the Isle of Ely.’ Sir John was a rebellious fellow who did fight alongside Simon de Montfort, & thus Fordun presumed that Robin Hood was Sir John D’Eyville of Hode Castle, & wrote his account accordingly. The reality is somewhat quite different, for it is in the person of Sir John’s junior kinsman, Robert D’Eyville that we must identify the true Robin Hood.

The first concrete mention of Robin occurs in the margins of a Latin poem written down in 1304 by the Prior of Alnwick. The original text can be found in the first volume of Francis Peck’s unpublished edition of the Monasticon, now in the British Museum, with the title of; ‘Prioris Alnwicensis de hello Scotico upud Dumbarr, tempore rigis Edwardi I. dictamen sive rithmus Latinus, quo de WIILIELMO WALLACE, Scotico illo ROBIN WHOOD, plura sed invidiose cani.’ On this title we read how the great Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace of Braveheart fame, is described as ‘the Scottish Robin Hood.’ Being a contemporary of Wallace leads us to the Duchess of Cleveland’s Battle Roll, where our suggested Robin, Robert D’Eyville, ‘earned a fearsome reputation as a well-born miscreant,’ alongside his brother Joseline. Together, these two brothers famously rampaged with some violence across the north of England, targeting travelers & religious houses. As they struck, they would use the same methodology as that executed by Robin Hood in the ballads which framed his legend. One raid in particular is especially resonant of the modus operandi of Robin; in order to rob the Bishop of Durham at Northallerton, Robert , Joseline & two hundred men dressed in the habit of friars. We must also examine the Calendar of Patent Rolls for 1318, where on November 1st we are presented with a list of fifty or so adherents of Thomas Lovel of Skelton. Among the names we can very clearly identify two of Robin’s main gang-members; William Scarlett & John de Methle. The latter man is recorded elsewhere in the same period as ‘Liteljohn of Methley,’ who was an archer captain in the retinue of the Earl of Lancaster.


That Robert D’Eyville of Hood, Will Scarlett & Little John were all active c.1320 puts them in the correct time period in which is set the earliest ballad concerning the legend – A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode. The story shows Robin being vilified by an un-numbered King Edward, who was conducting a tour of the north of England in order to sort out the problem of the poaching of royal deer from a certain ‘Plomton Park;’

All the passe of Lancasshyre

He went both ferre and nere

Tyll he came to Plomton Parke

He faylyd many of his dere


There our kynge was wont to se

Herdes many one

He coud unneth fynde one dere

That bare ony good horne

This back story fits with the neatliest of sweetness into that of King Edward II, who stayed at Ightenhill Manor in my home town of Burnley, Lancashire, between the 4th & the 13th of October, 1323. Between Burnley & the town of Rossendale there once stretched a great swathe of deer-dotted hunting ground through which the modern Woodplumpton Road winds today. I’ve walked it myself, a lovely country tonic to the vigours & rush of urban grittiness. From Woodplumpton we can notice the philochisp to Plomton, & that the Burnley area was Robin’s stomping ground may also be seen in an enemy of his called Guy of Gisburne, who heralded from a town just a few miles to the north. More support can be found again in the Geste, in a certain character called ‘Richard at the Lee.’ Hitherto this day he has remained unidentified by the most strenuous study, but if we dig a little deeper we come across a figure in history who fits the bill, the 14th century Richard de la Legh who married Cecily Towneley, of Towneley Hall, Burnley. He would not long after take her family name – & estate – becoming Richard Towneley, erasing his original name from all but the most obscure of records. I found the evidence one day while casually examining a great family tree in Towneley Hall itself, a spot of literary archeology which should help stabilise the true identity of Robin Hood.


In the Geste, we are also told that Richard possessed a castle at a place called called Verysdale, or Uterysdale. This would then connect to a name in a 1273 land grant which records land owned by Gilbert de la Legh – Richard’s father – lying on both sides of the River Calder at Towneley called Weterode and Waderode. The ‘dale’ suffix would then be the open valley of ‘weter,’ giving us.






In the Geste, we are told that Robin Hood & his men spent time at the ‘fayre castel’ of Richard at the Lee. In the above map you may observe that just to the south of Towneley Hall there is a ‘Castle Hill’ whose ancient, grassed over ditches may still be seen to this day. There is one problem, however, & that is the date of Richard De La Legh / Towneley. He was born in 1313, & in the Geste we hear of how Richard at the Lee’s son slew a man in a jousting competition. Richard’s Towneley’s eldest son was born in 1350, which indicates that if the Geste story is based upon real events, its creator was blending occurrences from different periods into an artistic tale, the aforementioned Creochisp. This would help to explain why in the Geste, when we hear the story of the knight & his jousting son, the knight is un-named. It is only later that we discover he is Richard at the Lee, suggesting two separate tales were fused into a single strand. Between them lies the seam, the needle-point of pastiche, & it is up to the Chispologist to recognize as such.

Having elucidated some of the nuances of Chispology, I shall now make a small examination of some of the more famous mysteries of human history. In this book I shall be looking first at the background behind the very ancient tale of Princess Scota. From my studies into the Homeric Question I have chosen the search for the location of the island of Ithica, the home of the Greek hero Odysseus. The next two chapters constitute certain portions of my investigations into the time that Jesus Christ spent in India, the so-called ‘missing years’ between his sighting in Jerusalem at the age of twelve & the commencement of his Galilean ministry at thirty. After this comes another dual-chaptered survey, this time into the legend of King Arthur & the very real historical figure who lies at the root of it all. The eighth chapter concerns the Quest for the Holy Grail, or at least the object which was transmorphed into the Grail over many, many centuries. The penultimate chapter throws a light upon a Grand Tour of Europe undertaken by the young William Shakespeare, in which the seedlings of his literary genius were first planted. We shall then come to my final exposition of the Chisper Effect, in which I hope to explain the proper underlying factualities on which stands the myth of Jack the Ripper. Throughout this book, & at all times, I shall be attempting to prove the validity of my new investigative technique, leaving judgement on my findings to the reader & both our posterities.


Next Wednesday, 8/11/17

Chapter 2 


The War of 1812


Last weekend, the first 3 stanzas of the 1812 War segment of Stars & Stripes arrived at the theatre. On Thursday I finished off the first part of the triad on a walk around Haddington. The next morning I took a hike in the glorious Lammermuirs beyond Snawden, the epic expanse from Dunbar to Stirling along of the Forth before my feet,  & the loneliness energized by exercise & a strangely balmy late October. I also found a few magic mushrooms dotted about, a surreptitious aspect of my hitting the hills to compose, but one the Pendragons of old would have approved of.  On the walk I completed the middle part of the triad. I also mused a little on the architectronics of my poem, which I can now finally present, well in at least scaffold form.


The poem is divided into at  ten-lined stanzas, of which 5 make up either the Strophe, the Epode or the Antistrophe of an individual Ode. A little like the Odes of ancient Greece,  the Epode – here placed in the centre of the Ode rather than at he end – is chaunted by actors just as the chorus was sung at the sacred altar of classical Ode performances. I have also infused the Epodes with a some energetic Shakespeariana – everybody loves a bit of acting. On either side of the drama, a narrator will read the strophe/antistrophe. Perhaps reading out over images projecting onto a screen while the actors/actresses change between scenes.


Come the evening I found myself driving through Edinburgh’s rush-hour traffic, with Led Zeppelein on full blast may I add, then crossing the recently opened Queensferry Bridge. Its a fine structure, but it baffles me what they are doing with the old Forth Road Bridge at the moment. So on to Perth, where I think I found the last parking space in the city, & the Saint Petersburg Orchestra. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, The Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky was rather like the Venus & Adonis./ Rape of Lucrece paintings of Titian – where poetry bursts out of its conventional literary chains & into other artistic media. I also managed to compose a stanza of S&S in the same, un-noted fashion as at the Dundee Rep. It reads;

An empty city is emptier still
Excepting crimson Cockneys, Scotch & Welsh,
Tough faces in the torchlight until Dawn
Drags up its smoking wracks of destruction;
Tho’ private properties left as were found
The map with all the government buildings
Sees crosses red spread slowly ‘cross a grid
Beseeming as by Freemason design,
Whose noblest part, tho’ gutted, parch’d & black,
Stands defiant to its dreadful damage!


I enjoy driving back from Perth – the quiet & dark motorways a real sort of meditative bath of the soul. On the drive I mused my way into another blog, realising that I am writing a new epic poem, & I should record the processes with a little more detail than Axis & Allies, for the benefit of future appreciatives. So here I am.


Yesterday (Saturday) – I took another walk up into the hills, this time parking up at the cottages under Stoneypath Farm & hitting the public bridleway to Whiteadder. I climbed for about two miles, composing the final four stanzas to accompany the one that came to me in Perth. The final one really does invoke the galaxy of heather buds I found myself among as etched down my lines.

Our sun is a bauble of red heather
Up in the Lammermuirs, so many stars,
The Universe is distance, as is Earth,
Thus, while in Belgium laughter blends with wine,
On Chistmas morn, tho foes the day before,
At New Orleans the battle rages on
Where black & white united for the cause
Protecting beauty from the filthy grip
Of British rapists, God fell on their right,
Skittling Redcoats back to panicking ships.


Nasty Women


I’m really not quite sure how it happened, but it appears I have started the composition of another epic poem. The other night, as I sat in the Dundee Rep theater with Emily, 3 stanzas (30 lines) of blank verse dripped like distilled whiskey into my mind, concerning the War of 1812 between the fledgling United States of America & Britiain. They form the first parts of the 4th canto, of which I have recently architecturalised there shall be 75. The title is Stars & Stripes, & it begins at Valley Forge with the Revolutionary Army & George Washington, & shall end in the present day. I have studied copiously & shall continue to do so; a mixture documentaries including Ken Burns’ recent one on Vietnam, web-study & of course the National Library, which outwith its numerous volumes of American literature has some rather fine old American dictionaries I can read for authenticity. The poem begins;

America, carv’d long by ice & fire,
Twyx endless streams of blinding orison,
Tho’ dream me here in Burnley, Lancashire,
My wife’s ancestor fought for Washington
& him no less than colonel, in the strain
Of desperate refusal to the crown,
When East of Mississippi’s vital vein
Upsoar from field & homestead, port & town,
Brave men to sever, with portentous knives,
King George’s haughty hold upon their lives.

In my own life I am happily dwelling in the Lothians, but these days the benefits of driving allow me to wander the hills & admire the coasts… in the same morning! It is upon these missions I am mostly composing, but of course there are other pans in the fire. I am returning to Alibi once more, with a cabaret singer called Rosie as my lead girl, & Harry the hat as my lead man – both of whom are excellent singers. Tinky fo from strength to strength & I have an interesting November lined up for us all, beginning with a trip to Featherstone Castle for a gig with the Eden crew. The Mumble is also ticking over I have recently opened up ‘markets’ in Leeds & Seattle, finally realising the true international potential of my site.


Two mornings ago I was sat writing this paragraph in the ‘The Law,’ a room in the lower levels of the deliciously opulent Malmaison Hotel in Dundee. The city is Emily’s nursery, where she brought up her babies from birth. Two nights ago I had picked her up from work driven us to Glagow – stopping off at a recently-turned 60 Colin’s for food – before engaging with La Traviata at the Theatre Royal. A funny yet brilliant melodramatic opera by my favorite composer Verdi (he just soothes me without effort), it means ‘Fallen Women’ & I am sure it is after this particular creation that the term ‘soap opera’ was meant. We drive back through the rain & darkness to Haddington, & this morning we were away again; me dropping Ems off at work while I typed up the Opera notes in my flat in Edinburgh. A couple of hours later we were back on the road, driving to Dundee to catch two pieces at the Literary Festival – a performance of my favorite poem the Raven & an author-talk on the recent ‘Nasty Women’ anthology – & in the evening, The Maids.  It is while watching The Maids that 3 new stanzas arrived in the world – the first of their type thus far with S&S, ie naturally & without referring to my notes One of these is an epic simile concerning the release of the British Army from the Napoleonic Wars, in order to fight in America.

As when a troupe of cowboys shoots thro’ town
Unstoppable, & robs its little bank,
When word spreads thro’ the counties all around,
Whose sheriffs ride to help, but while them gone,
The towns they left protectless in the dark ,
Descended into anarchy & crime,
Until the sheriffs rode back from justice – 
So too Europa’s ogre has been chain’d
On Elba’s isle, freeing the scarlet lines,
Those battle-harden’d veterans of war.


The next morning I left Emily snoozing & had a potter around Dundee, an interesting town. On checking out, Ems drove us to Broughty Ferry & the two houses she lived in when she was having the girls – a fine nursery. We drove back through Fife, calling again at Kirkcaldy Old Kirk to trace Ems’ ancestor (it was closed this time) & rather pitying the shoppers of the poor town. We did get a DVD of Spielberg’s Lincoln, however, with which I concluded my mellow Saturday. On waking early Sunday morning & I got to work, writing the following three reviews;

LA TRAVIATA. Scottish Opera, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Britain - 16th Oct 2017






As the Sunday began to trickle by, Emily alerted me to the fact that I had seem to have aroused some form of feminine angst among the Nasty Women authors. This proceeded throughout the day, but it was when one of them attacked my use of the ampersand (the – & ) that Emily flipped. She loves William Blake (he used them prodigiously) & me, & leapt to my defence. She’s like, ‘nobody disses my man’s ampersand!’ It had been bubbling. As we left the Bonar Hall in Dundee, I asked her what she thought of the Nasty Women & you could have fried an egg on her anger. Anyway, here’s the chat. I’ve changed the names of the ladies involved in order to avoid any more flare-ups;


Aglaea : Hi. I’d like to query the descriptive language used in this article ‘two punks and a maiden’ is a sexist description of three professional writers at an event ON SEXISM. Secondly, do you have editors? You need to check your statistics on rape, and stop your journalists making dismissive and inaccurate assertions. Rape statistics are far higher than ‘0.1% of men’.

Thalia : See also “ladies of demure countenance”. This article is ridiculous.

Thalia : Just in case this doesn’t get past moderation on your website…

1) “Two punks and a maiden”? Please tell me which century you’re living in. Here in 2017 we are fighting against men dishing out patronising bullshit towards women

2) The comment about learning more about one’s body from the internet than from formal sex education was Becca’s, not mine. You might recognise her as the blonde “punk”, not the red-haired one.

3) You’re actually going to “not all men” an existing “not all men”? Unbelievable. Thanks for being part of the problem.

Calliope : Hello! Another Nasty Woman and professional Technical Writer and Editor chiming in here. Did you know that inane and nonsensical are so close in connotation that your statement about Donald Trump is almost as repetitive as Trump himself? And I also take issue with the use of ampersands throughout this piece of journalism. You may want to consult a style guide moving forward.

ME : sorry to offend

Ive changed it to

rather than the 96 percent of all likelihood given figures of rapeline calls & those that go unreported

I think ‘vast majority’ would have been a better phrase. The description of two punks & a maiden was one of aesthetic literary style, btw, not a personal judgement x Damo

Aglaea : Can I suggest that you take a serious look at your aesthetic literary style? Personal judgement is conveyed through language, which you used.

Thalia : “Two punks and a maiden” is sexist bullshit. Edit it out.

Thalia : Likewise “demure countenance”.

Thalia : Also, can I suggest that in future you don’t end your comments with a kiss? Trust me, nobody here wants your kisses.

Thalia : And analytic prose might serve you better than your distinctly purple “aesthetic literary style” (a phrase you should edit for redundancy).

Aglaea : A shred of professionalism would not go amiss here. If you really think you aren’t being sexist, can I suggest reading something, anything, about micro aggression or patronising language or even looking up the OED for maiden? Your grip on standards of journalistic language seems loose.

Euphrosyne : My essay literally parodies the sexist distinction between fairy tale princesses and witches in art. Ironic that you manage to use that very same language to write about us.

ME : Ok – Ive changed it

Thalia : Well done. Now, have you learned anything from this?

ME : I didn’t realise there where 200,000 rapeline calls a year in the UK, that’s mental

Clio : Hi, another Nasty Women here. Language has connotations, and it is frustrating to see an article that is largely positive still using loaded terms.

“Demure,” as has been stated, paints the audience as Victorian ladies or similar (modest), with a juxtaposition of women with pink hair, I suppose, who are undemure (immodest) by contrast?

Swapping out “two punks and a maiden” to list the three Graces still doesn’t help. These are not mythological creatures–they are working, professional writers. It does seem to be part of your style–you refer to a man as a lion and there’s mention of ambrosia, but it’s still something that tends to not go down well with women. It sounds like they are being put on a pedestal.

“Cooked up to order” has that connotation of women in the kitchen, whether or not you meant it, and “virgin” publisher likewise has a lot of baggage. Even if you take out the sexual definition, it then means naive or inexperienced, and 404 are neither of those things.

Saying a woman “chirped in” makes it sound like she’s a bird, and it’s a verb that is very rarely used with men even if a comment is delivered in the same tone.

Others have mentioned the dismissive tone of the rape statistics.

Is this nitpicky? Perhaps. But it’s frustrating that in an otherwise complimentary writeup in an event to see these microaggressions come up and again. One or two could be shrugged off, but these gave a cumulative effect. We point it out because we are tired. This sort of unthinking objectification is partly why Nasty Women as a collection exists.



The Wife


ME : An alternative view from a female Mumbler (the wife) also in attendance..

Attending the Dundee Literary Festival, I took the opportunity hear a few voices from the many contributors to Nasty Women. I had no previous knowledge of this book of essays, but immediately understood the sad origin of the title and knew, this is important. Regrettably, I left trembling with anger for the missed opportunity.

To kick off the talk, the contributors on stage explained the impetus for the book; marketing. Let’s jump on the Trump bandwagon while feminism is hot. When one said, “the marketing was amazing”, I clenched my fists with frustration. Before we even heard their stories they told us the empress has no clothes. The back story is, this was merely an opportunity to sell books, and they each quickly sought an essay for inclusion. Unfortunately, in haste to catch this cynical marketing wave, the essays appeared to be poached from their private teen-angst journals. What a brave exposé! But no new insights, only the adolescent attempt to sound intellectual, then pride that their “pitch” was selected. We’re not off to a good start.

The first essayist explored how the punk diva Courtney Love helped her through depression and ostracism; that timeless growing pain of being misunderstood. We all need our heroes, who as kids we feel speak only to us. Mine was Baba Ram Dass. His book Be Here Now helped me through those dark years. We’re lucky if we find that book, that CD, but because I was a 20 year old woman in the Seattle music scene of 1992, I can tell you that Courtney is an awkward hero. I was there. She’s no hero. She’s a narcissistic junkie who reaped the benefits of her dearly departed to mutilate her body with Hollywood surgery. It was hard to circumvent my real-life experience, but I acknowledge the woman who wrote this essay wasn’t in Seattle didn’t ‘Live Through This, she only saw the myth. I understand the Courtney archetype resonated with her, but beyond that, what is she saying? When I was a kid a woman who appeared strong empowered me to feel strong. This is not enlightening. As far as mental health goes, I myself experienced clinical depression as a teenager (and still do) with the threat of being institutionalised, but as much as I commiserated, I couldn’t help think, “Yeah, and…?” Let’s blossom beyond this suffocating time and speak of what we learned. Be your own hero.

The second speaker again reached for her dear diary with an essay on periods, birth control, and the scars patriarchy left on her body. Periods suck, and it is commonly known that male dominated big-pharma doesn’t care about women, but you know what? They don’t care about ANYONE. There aren’t any good birth control choices, we all know this. So an essay that big pharma is evil and doesn’t care about women was bereft of deeper insight. The cliché of a woman singing her lament of periods and the damage caused by birth control was pedestrian and trite. Similar to a “female comedienne” who’s act is all about menopause. Can women just be comedians and talk about life stuff? Aren’t we more than our bodies? Can we transcend our periods or lack there of? Are there not bigger Trumpet fish to fry?

Our third contributor’s essay was familiar, youth enamoured with the Goddess power we find in Wicca and sisterhood. But I felt the subject of empowerment through foraging petty considering the enormity of the causal misogyny we face today. I heard in her such overly-academic naïveté; that she discovered making a tincture with women is a threat to men. That the threat to patriarchy through our ability to heal ourselves (as witches did) has any relevance today was a huge disappointment. This is something an 18 year-old coven discovers and is not worthy of today’s discourse. Let’s move beyond this fledgling epiphany.

During the question/answer segment, I was appalled to hear one contributor say “some male friends are like, ‘but I’m a good guy’, but I don’t care, I want them to apologise and reform”. Hold on a minute, my best friends are men; wonderful, insightful, kind and generous men who have nothing to apologise for. These pseudo-intellectual “feminist” blinders are antithetical to equality and impede us moving forward.

I was also disappointed by the old chat that they’re victimised because they don’t want children. Those on stage were outraged that breeders want them to conform. Again, this is without understanding a wider perspective. When friends who are parents say this, it’s merely an unabashed, evangelical outburst. We’ve fallen in love with our children and had an amazing life experience that cannot be replicated. It’s similar to what we might say to celibates; “Are you sure you don’t want to have sex? Orgasms are amazing!” Don’t take it personally – we don’t actually give a shit if you have kids (or orgasms), just understand anyone who says such is “sharing the good news”, speaking from their experience. You don’t have to agree, just smile and nod, as I would to Jehovah’s Witnesses because it’s not my bag. That’s what we do, us humans, we share experiences and want others to see what we found. To be offended by this is shallow, insecure, and simply ridiculous.

On exiting this talk it took effort to control my anger, it was a struggle to keep my voice down as to not offend those beside me. And this was curious thing, why was I so angry? What button has been pushed? After a few days of digesting the experience, I feel that the outrage comes down to the missed opportunity. The gravity of our present situation was dumbed down by regurgitated notions of feminism. It’s disheartening to think these women aspire to be our voices in the Trump era. Dig deeper, there’s so much more to say.

In all, the talk was wrought with nit-picking without wisdom, lack of nuance, and a childish defensive reflex that hides female voices to be heard. I was embarrassed for the contributors, the publisher, and the audience of women who were not challenged to think beyond this pathetically one-sided wankery; this lazy, self-soothing excrement that is Nasty Women. I hoped for so much more.

Thalia : Do you not allow your wife to have a Facebook account, that she needs you to speak for her?

Thalia : I’m also curious about why you think this is an appropriate thing to post on your publication’s professional page.

Thalia : And do you not know that your edit history is visible to anyone who clicks on the word “edited”?

Me : I swear down, when we came out of the talk & she started going on about all that Im like, I cant say that in the review babe – but after reading your comments, shes like let them hear the truth babe x

Thalia : Yeah, but why not post it herself? Why does she need you to speak for her?

Diana : Why on earth even post it ANYWAY? What on earth is your point here? This is the most unprofessional thing I’ve seen in a while

Me : the wife says…


Thalia : Seems to be you she’s pointing that at, mate.

Cassandra : Another Nasty Women writer here to add my two cents (since you appear to be acting as the middle man for your wife, please let her know to angrily clutch her faux feminist pearls as appropriate). It’s a little alarming that you felt the need to post this follow up after reading the comments from my fellow writers critiquing your initial review. Instead of even attempting to understand why your “aesthetic literary style” was inappropriate at best and incredibly sexist at worst, you issued a non-apology and then edited your review with an even more ridiculous comparison of these professional authors to eroticized mythological representations of charm and grace, as if your reference to the audience as of “demure countenance” wasn’t horrendous enough. I’m not even going to touch the “not all men” implications that you made.

I’m just genuinely baffled as to why you felt it necessary to diminish these women in their talent and write a review that at face value appears charitable, but upon further reading makes it clear that you do not take them seriously at all. You write about the event as if to sound as though you appreciated it while simultaneously attempting to put these women back in their place, which to you appears to be an ultra pink, ultra feminine space where they speak softly and prettily as virgins and only say words acceptable to your delicate ears.

This follow up, on the other hand, is full of out of context statements regarding how this book came about, misconceptions related to the writers’ contributions, and a hefty dose of holier-than-thou attitude based on your wife having not actually read the book. Had she read it, she might actually know that Nasty Women is an intersectional collection of over twenty feminist offerings on many subjects, written from many perspectives, all touching in some way on how we as women navigate life in this era. These were but three of them, and considering a basic tenet of the book is that we speak our truths however they present themselves, they require no justification to either you or your wife on how or why these writers chose to relate their lives to the public. She literally missed the point so hard on all three of the essays discussed at this panel that I would not be surprised if her hair is still messy from where it flew over her head. Pardon me if I sound rude, it’s only that it seems nonsensical for me to claim that something has entirely missed the mark when I’ve had only a small taste of it, especially when I didn’t know what I was getting a taste of in the first place. Imagine if I assumed the Mumble was made up of asinine and rude reviews without ever having read any of them but this one… though perhaps that’s not a stretch.

We’d love it if either you or your wife picked up a copy of Nasty Women and read it cover to cover, though I can infer that this is unlikely. Writing from a place of blissful ignorance instead is the height of lazy, self-soothing excrement, so I’ve heard.

Sorry if I’ve offended.

Me : Tell me about it, she gets reyt uppity when she’s ‘ad a rum. Anyway, after all the one-way attacks on my ‘aesthetic literary technique’ yesterday, I thought I’d explain what it was. I’m a poet, I branch into prose from time to time like a necessary walk in the hills, but the poet is always with me. In Arabian poetics & the poetics of classical Greece, there are the two notions of Takhyil & Phantasia. In essence its painting pictures in the mind. Thus when I wanted to set the room scene in Dundee, my ‘two punks & a maiden’ was, although not 100 percent accurate, in a visual sense everybody who hears the phrase who was not there would get a mental image not too far away from the photograph. It also took only 14 letters & an ampersand to achieve. Into the mix then comes the two extremes of feminism, defined as people who who really there, the radical dyed-haired lady & the quiet, rather plainly dressed woman with a definite ‘demure countenance’ who sat in front of us. This was actually a metaphor showing how well attended the talk was. I do believe that through a proper understanding of the nuances & results of both Takhyil & Phantasia, the Nasty Women may have rendered a different opinion. I think people are too keen to leap at the pindrop these days. X Damo.

Aglaea : I am a poet. I am also an academic, and a reviewer. All three of those require very different approaches and registers. Most writers manage to separate these three. Also you’ve had enough of our time. I couldn’t care less about *why* you wrote such a sloppy and sexist review, only that you did. I don’t think I’ve ever met such an unprofessional poet or reviewer.

Letters from Crete (vii) : The Real Phaecia



So, I am back at Star Beach a few hours before my flight – where I shall attempt one final essay before returning to Britain as, I hope, a Pendragon. Yesterday we drove around the coast of Mirrabello to Mochlos, a startlingly mellow village-cluster reminscent of an Indian getaway. In fact, a few dope-smoking travellers were chilling out there – idling the time perhaps until they could return to the East. My attempts at getting a boat to Pseira were of no use, however, & we were redirected to Tholos, a lovely, sandy local beach for locals – set amidst an immense olive grove which carpeted the valley between mountains. Leaving the girls to frolic in the waves, I availed myself of a local sailor to take me to Pseira – an island 2 miles off the coast. I would have an hour or so to potter about the Minoan town which I have strong reasons to believe was Scheria, the capital city of the Phaecians, among whom Odysseus spent a little time on his was back to Ithica.

The Phaecians were said to have originally come from the city of Hyperia, near Kalaureia, on the Greek mainland at the plain of Troezen, before finding new home somewhere on the edge of the known – or rather known Grecian world, ‘far from men that live by toil.’ Interestingly, the name Kalaureia, is also given to ‘a small island near Crete’ by Pausanius. The new Phaecian realm is well described in the Odyssey & most people associate it with the island of Corfu, on account of a rock in the harbour. However, that the Phaecians called Odysseus ‘a stranger’, the king of Kephalonia just down the coast from Corfu, does seem unlikely, especially when Odysseus says “…if I outlive this time of sorrow, I may be counted as your friend, though I live so far away from all of you.” The answer lies elsewhere, & so we must cast our net wider to catch the Phaecian fish. Several clues in particular have pointed me to this Gulf of Mirrabello, the ‘Lovely Bay’ of the Venetians.

1 – The Phaecians are said to have transported Rhadamanthys – a Cretan Prince – to see Tytus on Euboea.

2 – The name Scheria, the chief Phaecian city, seems present in the name ‘Pseiria’.

3 – On Psiera there is a Minoan town with two harbours divided by a main street which is a perfect match for the description of Scheria as given in the Odyssey.

4 – Pseira lies in a gulf, the Gulf of Mirrabello, a key word used in the Odyssey… ‘for seventeen days I sailed over the sea, and on the eighteenth appeared the shadowy mountains of your land; and my heart was glad, ill-starred that I was; for verily I was yet to have fellowship with great woe, which Poseidon, the earth-shaker, sent upon me. For he stirred up the winds against me and stayed my course, and wondrously roused the sea, nor would the wave suffer me to be borne upon my raft, as I groaned ceaselessly. My raft indeed the storm shattered, but by swimming I clove my way through yon gulf of the sea, until the wind and the waves, as they bore me, brought me to your shores.’

5 – Pseira lies across the Aegean Sea from Athens, which connects with the Odyssey’s ‘flashing-eyed Athena departed over the unresting sea, and left lovely Scheria. She came to Marathon and broad-wayed Athens.

The descriptions of the Phaecians heavily invoke the Minoans of Crete, with both races being praised for their high seamanship. At Pseria in 1991, archeologists found a Minoan serpentinite seal stone, which shows a ship with a beak-shaped prow, high stern, and single mast connected to the vessel by ropes – & significantly, no oars. This connects to the concept of the Phaecian ships being ‘steered by thought’ – ie by sailing, the intellectual use of the wind. Indeed, the greatest Minoan shipwreck – dated to between 1800 & 1675 -was found just of Pseira by Greek archaeologist Elpida Hadjidaki in 2003. There is also the story-telling of a poet at Phaecia, which involved the use of nine singer/dancers which mirror the Cretan ‘Curetes.’ At Pseira, there is a great deal evidence of such ritualistic entertainment ceremonies, where at the so-called ‘House of Rhyta’ – named after a drinking vessel known as the rhyton – many cups & goblets were found.  Chemical traces in one rhyton hint of barley, beer, and wine. In the House of the Rhyta there was also a very large, almost communal, kitchen space, suggesting the building was used for feasting purposes.

Archeologists also tell us that Psiera was a Minoan settlement (high point c.1600 BC) that was destroyed in the Mycynean ‘conquest’ of 1450. After this date, Linear B turns up on the island, while we can also see the Mycynean Greeks beginning to incorporate Minoan gods into their pantheon. As recorded in their Linear A script on tablets found across Crete & beyond, the Minoans worshipped many dieties who would later be picked up by the Greeks;

 Atana Potinija =Athena;

Ereutija = Eileithyia,

Posedaone or Poseidon;

Pajawone = Paian was a classical epithet for Apollo;

Are = Ares

Enuwarijo = Enyalios was a classical epithet for Ares.


This means that the Pheacian elements of the Odyssey must be older than 1450 BC, which assimilates into my earlier essay in the Menalean layer of the Homeric material dating to the 16th century BC.

The barren, rocky island of Pseira rises from the sea, two miles from the coast by the Kavousian plain, & sailing there was a joy, over a perfect sea & under gigantic slopes of the mainland peaks. En route I was delighted to discover my ships pilot knew what I was on about when I began babbling about Odysseus & Alcinus & Phaecia. ‘”Scheria?” he said, with an understanding eye. ‘Yes, yes,’ I replied, sweeping my hands in a broad circle about me, ‘it was here?’ Arriving at the island, my boat would wait for me for an hour as I explored the ruined town, a section of the Minoan world was excavated in the early 20th century. It was beautifully peaceful & with my notes in hand I began to make my correlations, being;


Inhospitable coast

There were neither harbors where ships might ride, nor road-steads, but projecting headlands, and reefs, and cliffs… without are sharp crags, and around them the wave roars foaming, and the rock runs up sheer, and the water is deep close in shore, so that in no wise is it possible to plant both feet firmly and escape ruin.

One side of the island of Pseira is indeed a sheer surface of unclimbable, unlandable cliffs.


There is a river below a wood

 As he swam, he came to the mouth of a fair-flowing river, where seemed to him the best place, since it was smooth of stones, and besides there was shelter from the wind… If I climb up the slope to the shady wood and lie down to rest in the thick brushwood, in the hope that the cold and weariness might leave me.

 Pseira is an arid place these days. But small rivers & springs once flowed here, & if one were to round the island to the south from its sheer side 3,500 years ago, one would have come to a river mouth under a steep climb as described by the Odyssey.


A Walled City

About the city he had drawn a wall, he had built houses and made temples for the gods, and divided the ploughlands…. when we are about to enter the city, around which runs a lofty wall

Remnants of the wall can still be found at the top of the ‘city,’ which was a quite substantial settlement of 60 houses.


 Two Harbours

A fair harbor lies on either side of the city and the entrance is narrow, and curved ships are drawn up along the road, for they all have stations for their ships, each man one for himself.

A very impressive tall, steep flight of steps, known as the Grand Staircase, leads up from the beach to the town. On either side of the Peninsular was a Minoan harbour.


Place of Assembly

Their place of assembly about the fair temple of Poseidon, fitted with huge stones set deep in the earth. Here the men are busied with the tackle of their black ships, with cables and sails, and here they shape the thin oar-blades. For the Phaeacians care not for bow or quiver, but for masts and oars of ships, and for the shapely ships, rejoicing in which they cross over the grey sea… Alcinous led the way to the place of assembly of the Phaeacians, which was builded for them hard by their ships. Thither they came and sat down on the polished stones close by one another

To the north of the Grand Staircase resembles the village square, or plateia, common in modern Cretan villages.


Palace of Alcinous

The houses of the Phaeacians are no wise built of such sort as is the palace of the lord Alcinous. But when the house and the court enclose thee, pass quickly through the great hall, till thou comest to my mother, who sits at the hearth in the light of the fire, spinning the purple yarn, a wonder to behold, leaning against a pillar, and her handmaids sit behind her. There, too, leaning against the selfsame pillar, is set the throne of my father, whereon he sits and quaffs his wine, like unto an immortal.   Of bronze were the walls that stretched this way and that from the threshold to the innermost chamber, and around was a cornice of cyanus… golden were the doors that shut in the well-built house, and doorposts of silver were set in a threshold of bronze. Of silver was the lintel above, and of gold the handle. On either side of the door there stood gold and silver dogs… Filled were the porticoes and courts and rooms with the men that gathered… within, seats were fixed along the wall on either hand, from the threshold to the innermost chamber, and on them were thrown robes of soft fabric, cunningly woven, the handiwork of women. On these the leaders of the Phaeacians were wont to sit drinking and eating, for they had unfailing store. And golden youths stood on well-built pedestals, holding lighted torches in their hands to give light by night to the banqueters in the hall.

This could well have been the ‘House of the Pillar Partitions’ dound found on the West side of the peninsula, to the north of the town square. Fragments of loom weights were found at the house, connecting with the weaving maidens. Indeed, as the Odyssey describes Phaecian women sitting & weaving, so at Pseira was found a relief showing just the same thing.


Then, with a toot of his horn, my hour was up & it was time to sail back to Tholos. As I did so, I could make out the small offshore island which looked the stony hull of an upturned boat. During my investigations, & googleearth trawls, I had searched in vain for such a topgraphical feature, which had been connected to the Phaecians in the Odyssey;

 Then Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, answered him and said: “Lazy one, hear what seems best in my sight. When all the people are looking forth from the city upon her as she speeds on her way, then do thou turn her to stone hard by the land—a stone in the shape of a swift ship, that all men may marvel; and do thou fling a great mountain about their city.”

Now when Poseidon, the earth-shaker, heard this he went his way to Scheria, where the Phaeacians dwell, and there he waited. And she drew close to shore, the seafaring ship, speeding swiftly on her way. Then near her came the Earth-shaker and turned her to stone, and rooted her fast beneath by a blow of the flat of his hand, and then he was gone

So would one of them speak, but they knew not how these things were to be. Then Alcinous addressed their company and said: “Lo now, verily the oracles of my father, uttered long ago, have come upon me. He was wont to say that Poseidon was wroth with us because we give safe convoy to all men. He said that some day, as a beautiful ship of the Phaeacians was returning from a convoy over the misty deep, Poseidon would smite her, and would fling a great mountain about our town. So that old man spoke, and lo, now all this is being brought to pass. But now come, as I bid let us all obey. Cease ye to give convoy to mortals, when anyone comes to our city, and let us sacrifice to Poseidon twelve choice bulls, if haply he may take pity, and not fling a lofty mountain about our town.”

This is where the poem leaves off, & we may assume their protestations to Zeus worked. The problem is, however, that the island is just off shore at the Minoan town of Gournia. The Minoan Pompei, it is in a state of great preservation, the foundations of all the houses still intact in stone, only the mud-brick upper storeys fading in the dust the millenia. Its many similarities with Pseira, however, suggest they were part of the same realm, which would also have included including Kavousi, Tholos, Vronda, Kastro, Azoria, Mochlos & Chrysokamino. These, then, would have been among the Phaecian princes as described by Alcinous;

Our folk have for their chiefs & rulers twelve eminent princes, or thirteen if you count myself

 In conclusion, there are too many pieces available when reconstructing a Pseiran Phaecia, & thus by the accumulation of coincidences we may at least begin to place this part of the Odyssey in its proper contextus. It is upon this hyperchisp – ie hyperthetical chisp – that further investigations may be made into the creation of the Odyssey. There are Cretan elements in the epic which pop up as almost outsiders, chaffing against the grain of the Athenian recension, but in fact may be the deepest levels of the Odyssean tale, one which took place before 1450 BC.

One also gains an inkling that if the Phaecians truly were the Minoans, then they would have spoken the language as inscribed in Linear A tablets. This language could then be traced back to their original homelands in the Troezen – at Calaureia – which were established by a Lydian called Pelops – son of Tantalus, the king at Mount Sipylus in Anatolia –  after whom the Pelopponese would be named. Now, Lydia is essentially western Turkey, where Mount Ida towers over the Trojan Plain – & of course there is a Mount Ida in Crete. Therefore, it makes sense that ancient Minoan was Lydian. Indeed, 17 letters of the classical Lydian alphabet have indentical or near identical correspondents among the Linear A glyphs.


There are also a number of phonetical similarities between Lydian & Linear A, as in


LYDIAN ———————————  LINEAR A


Atr / Atros (dead)                                    A-Du / A-Du-Re-Za

Kopai (abundant)                                          Ka-Pa

Kue (collect)                                            Ku-pa / Ku-ra / Ku-ro (appears to mean ‘total’)

Ovie (sheep)                                               Ovis

What is also interesting is that if we assimilate Lydian into the Egyptian name for Crete, Kaftiu, alongside the Biblical ‘Kapthor,’ we gain a possible translation of Kaf (Cavity, from Proto-Indo-European ḱówHwos) Tiuae (divine), as in the divine cave(s) of Zeus on Crete. In addition, that the Phaecians said themselves to have fled their homelands after the Cyclops’ went on a rampage, we may gain a Lydian transliteration of the word as FUE (flee) – KIN (clan) – ie. the clan which fled to safety.


We may now presume that classical Lydian evolved from the Bronze Age Minoan as contained in the Linear A inscriptions. This opens up a whole of potential answers to academic conundrums. Why does Linear A contain elements of the Anatolian languages such as Lycian & Carian, yet have no connections to Minoan Crete?Well, through the Phaecians they do. Why is Linear A found in certain places on the Peloponnese? Because it was introduced there by Pelops. Why is the Lydian word for the votive double-axe, ‘Labrys’ the phonetical base-root of the Cretan labyrinth, & why is the labrys itself found all over Minoan art? Because it was introduced there by the Lydians.  Why did the genius Michael Ventris, the cracker of Linear B, instinctively feel that Linear A was connected to the Etruscan language? Because according to Herodotus stated, the Etruscans came from Lydia, supported by recent DNA analysis & the Etruscan-like language was found on the Lemnos stele. Why does King Manes, son of Zeus, the first monarch of Lydia, sound so much like ‘Minos,’ son of Zeus, the great king of Crete? Because their name means king in Lydian… and so on. The idea of the Phaecians introducing a language & new aspects of culture into Crete, creating what we know as the Minoans, resonates rather well with all the information we have at the moment, & should be well worth looking into by future bards & scholars.

Finally, we may now look at the tradition of Minos as given by two classical era historians.

Minos is the first to whom tradition ascribes the possession of a navy. He made himself master of a great part of what is now termed the Hellenic sea; he conquered the Cyclades, and was the first coloniser of most of them, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sons to govern in them. Lastly, it was he who, from a natural desire to protect his growing revenues, sought, as far as he was able, to clear the sea of pirates Thucydides

Minos, according to tradition, went to Sicania, or Sicily, as it is now called, in search of Daidolos, and there perished by a violent death….Men of various nations now flocked to Crete, which was stripped of its inhabitants; but none came in such numbers as the Hellenes. Three generations after the death of Minos the Trojan war took place; and the Cretans were not the least distinguished among the helpers of Menelaos. But on this account, when they came back from Troy, famine and pestilence fell upon them, and destroyed both the men and the cattle. Crete was a second time stripped of its inhabitants, a remnant only being left; who form, together with fresh settlers, the third Cretan people by whom the island has been inhabited Herodotus

We may now assemble a timeline using some of the findings I have made so far in these ‘Letters from Crete.’

 c.1700 BC : Crete is conquered by Manes of Lydia. He is known as Minos. Neopalatial buildings spring up across Crete. Lydian is introduced into the island alongside an alphabet to write it (Linear A)

c.1600 : Pseira island settled by the Phaecians, ie the Minoans, who have left the Troezen : Men of various nations now flocked to Crete, which was stripped of its inhabitants; but none came in such numbers as the Hellenes (Herod.)

c.1550 : Events surrounding Menaleus (& Odysseus) which will be later incorporated into the Homeric narratives – Three generations after the death of Minos the Trojan war took place (Herod.).

c.1450 : The Cretan civil war in which the house of Mycynea are triumphant. Greek becomes the native language of the island, but retains the Linear A alphabet. – when they came back from Troy, famine and pestilence fell upon them, and destroyed both the men and the cattle. Crete was a second time stripped of its inhabitants, a remnant only being left; who form, together with fresh settler, the third Cretan people by whom the island has been inhabited (Herod.)


Star Beach

17th July

* An Anatolian invasion of Crete c.1700 is suggested in  Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black; Larry S. Krieger; Phillip C. Naylor; Dahia Ibo Shabaka (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell

Letters from Crete (vi) : THE HOMERIC ANSWER (The Odyssey)


Yesterday morning I had Emily drive me to the hospital at Ireapetra. Picking up Adonis at the very foot of the mountain. His car wasn’t working & it was easier for him to come with us via Ireapetra by car, than hike up to Agios Ioannis. Leaving me at the hospital while they went back to pack, etc. my lungs were gently coaxed back to normality by a gas-splurging thing, & I was picked up by Emily at the hospital. From here we drove to Elounda, a bit of an ex-pats colony, for our final stint in Crete. The rooms are OK, but they have A/C & mosquito nets – a godsend. I slept most of yesterday & well into this morning on account of my asthmatic lack of sleep at Ioannis – it was rather like A Nightmare on Elm Street, I was afraid to nod off as I might have never woken up. One thing that did go up was the palmthorn. I had just immersed myself in a bath, when the water must have diusturbed my puncture wound’s scab & suddenly, like the cork in a bottle, the black thorn emerged out of my foot. I had no idea it was bloody huge! A great testament to the human body’s ability to expel alien bodies.

Today we’ve pottered about Elounda, having lunch on a floating restaurant – including a freshly caught, 60 euro fish – while gazing on  the old leper colony at Spinalonga. Then off to a nearby waterpark where the mixture of chlorine & seawater is making all my bodycuts scream in pain. It is under these conditions, the, that I shall begin my further investigations into the Homeric Question. In an earlier Letter, I showed how the Iliad was the construction, or rather reconstruction, of a Greek poet under the patronage of a Greek King. The Odyssey came to light ubder an extremely set of circumstances that occurred the Athens of the 6th century BC. The demagogic catylyst was a tyrant called Pisistratus, whose influence on the Homeric poems has been observed by many classical writers;


Pisistratus brought together & published the Iliad & the Odyssey



We praise Pisistratus for his gathering together the poems of Homer



Pisistratus brought them together, as this epigram, inscribed by the Athenians on Pisistratus’ tomb, makes clear: Pisistratus, great in councils, I who gathered together / Homer, who had formerly been sung here & there

Anonymous Life of Homer


Who was more learned in that same period, or whose eloquence is said to have had a higher literary culture than that of Pisistratus? He is said to have been the first to have arranged the books of Homer, which were previously confused, in the way we now have them’



Of the two epics, the Iliad seems too much of a composite to have been ‘previously confused’ as Cicero says. On the other hand the Odyssey still seems confused to this day, a jumbled mass of plots & stories which leap about through the narrative like literary atoms. Pisistratus may have had some influence on the Iliad, however, his work on which is referred to by Eusthatius, who writing about the Iliad’s tenth book – otherwise known as the Doloneia – states, ‘the ancients say that this book was put seperately by Homer & was not counted among the part of the Iliad, but was put into the poem by Pisistratus.’ Pisistratus is also said to have fudged the ‘Catalogue of Ships,’ the Iliad’s account of the Greek forces who sailed to Troy, interpolating Ajax’s bringing of 12 ships from Salamis to prove that it was once an ancient possession of Athens.

The need to show off one’s power with monumental exhibitions is an ever-present trait of the human condition. In recent centuries, the Great Exhibition of the British Empire in 1851 & the neoclassical buildings of Adolf Hitler at Nuremburg are perfect examples of the grand ego in demonstrance. Pisistratus understood how, & more importantly, why, Lycurgas had instrumented his own version of Homer, Wishing to demonstate his own cultural splendour, the Athenian lawgiver emulated the modus operandi of his Spartan predecessor. He is even mentioned by name in Book 3, where ‘Pisistratus’ appears as Nestor’s noble son, while the tyrant’s own return from exile to Athens, & the resumation of his leadership there, is a perfect metaphorical match for the return of Odysseus to Ithica. Furthermore, when we see Odysseus being praised with, ‘in the world of men you have no rival as a statesman & an orator,’ do we not in fact see a veiled tribute to Pisistratus.

The platform for the first performance of the Odyssey would have been a festival known as the Greater Dionysia in Athens, instigated by Pisistratus himself. A celebration to Dionysys, the god of wine, the festival would last six days; mirroring the very six equal parts into which the Odyssey is divided. The central stage of the festival was the theatre to Dionysis on the Acropolis – built at the instigation of Pisistratrus – which that would later play host to the works of the best playwrights of ancient Greece. Let us imagine the very first recital of the Odyssey being sung from the stage of this theatre, when for six consecutive nighst throughout the festival, Athenian bards would bring the adventures of Odysseus to life.

In contrast to the testosterone-fueled Iliad, the Odyssey has a lighter, feminine touch which has led certain scholars to believe that the poem may have been composed by a woman. In light of the period of its creation, it seems probable that this new feminine direction was intended to please the women of Athens, who held a high social standing in the democracy. Among the many strong female characters in the poem, the true star & heroine has to be the goddess Athene, who dominates the action from beginning to end. Being the ‘patron saint’ of Athens, her presence in the poem fully strengthens the idea that the Odyssey was created in the city.

Of the poem’s creation, Strabo discusses how Pisistratus ordered an official recension, while entrusting the task to four leading scholars. Indeed, inconsistancies in context run rife throughout the Odyssey, & scholars have identified an earlier ‘A’ poet, & one or more later hands who they designated as the ‘B’ poet. The latter is seen as modernising & lengthening the nucleus of the poem as given by A, & we may assume that the B poets are those employed by Pisistratus. They are never actually named, but we may suggest possible contemporaries who were active in Athens during the 6th century. One of these ancient erudites may have been the literary-minded, Onomacritus, of whom Heredotus himself states had collected the oracles of a poet called Museaus, but inserted forgeries of his own making.

Another of these scholar-poets may been the classically famous Stesichorus (632-555 BC). Only fragments of his poetry survive, but he was widely celebrated for his epic tayles in lyric metre, a talent perfect for the job of assembling the Odyssey. ‘The greatness of Stesichorus’ genius,’ praises Quintillian, ‘is shown among other things by his subject-matter: he sings of the most important wars and the most famous commanders and sustains on his lyre the weight of epic poetry. In both their actions and their speeches he gives due dignity to his characters, and if only he had shown restraint he could possibly have been regarded as a close rival of Homer.’ In a similar vein, Dionysius of Halicarnassus commends Stesichorus for ‘the magnificence of the settings of his subject matter; in them he has preserved the traits and reputations of his characters,’ while Longinus puts him in select company with Herodotus, Archilochus and Plato as the ‘most Homeric’ of authors.

The Suda, a massive 10th century Byzantine collection of biographies, attributes to Stesichorus a poem known as the Nostoi, which deals with the return of the Greeks from Troy. This makes Stesichorus the perfect poet to deal with the return of the Odysseus to Ithica & the textual source of some of the more obscure ‘nostoi’ details present in the Odyssey.

According to Plato, Stesichorus created a palinode which read, ‘that story is not true / You {Helen} never sailed in the benched ships. You never went to Troy,’ which is consistent with the ‘Egyptian’ Helen as hinted at in various places in the Odyssey. Plato adds that because of these slanderous verses, Stesichrous was rendered blind, a legend that may even have transchisper’d into Homer’s own legendary blindness.

In the wake of the Athenian recensions, by 500 BC the Homeric poems were closing in on their final forms. Two centuries later, it was up to the librarians of Alexandria to edit & critique Homer, dividing the epics into their standard 24 books apiece. That city’s founder, Alexander the Great, always slept with a copy of the Iliad under his pillow, even paying homage to Achilles at Troy on his way to conquering Asia. Plutarch tells us that Alexander’s favorite line in the Iliad was ‘Great in the war, great in the arts of sway,’ an apt epitaph for that mighty conqueror of the ancient world. Since the Alexandrian edit, the Homeric poems have been copied & copied & copied again until they would become the poems that appear in our modern texts. Holding them in your hand today is akin to the moment when Schliemann first set his eyes on Hisalrik Hill. He knew the truth about the Trojan War was in there somewhere, & all he had to do was start digging.


15th July

Letters from Crete (v) : FORMAL FREE VERSE


Formal Free Verse


The time is 3.30 AM Cretan o’Clock. I am currently having a mild account on account, no doubt, to the series of cats that hover about our Agios Ioannis home waiting for scraps. And the altitude doesn’t help. Also a bone of contention is the massive battle I’ve been having with the mosquitos, & after two hours of carnage I’ve decided to just go out onto the verandah & type an essay through the night. There is a fresh-laid coffee by my side. The goat’s bell is tinkling. The subject of my next installment shall be my recent endeavouring with Free Verse. Although a Parnasssian at heart, I have dabbled with Free Verse since my inception as a poet, including one huge vomiting of material in 2003, a piece I entitled Bohemia In fact one of my favorite pieces – The Lost Poem – is free verse.


On reaching the pinnacle of my education as a Pendragon, I became almost obliged to consider Free Verse in a formal way, to record its invented ‘species’ in the same way that the Welsh Bards recorded their poetic forms. This research I have only just completed, & also put into practice with the composition of ‘Sylvermane : The Last Wolf of Scotland,’ in which I experimented with & utilized 24 poems. The majority of these I have taken from poets of the last few decades, like the stars in the sky I shall name each form after them, or in some cases the poem which they wrote or even the collection was a part of. The 24 poems (& examples from my own work) are;


1 : Respiro


From the collection ‘Journey Across Breath’ by Stephen Watts, translated as ‘Tragitto nel respiro,’ by Cristina Viti


Upon ancient Cruachan,

Long-lost hill-fort ,mossy

gums, rings of gorse, Hipp

olytes’ spear, amber-heade

d, shaft thrust in cavern so

il : Millennia before; in thi

s den tonight a she-wolf e

mpties slowly her womb f

or Old White, these pricele

ss births AT LAST! AT L

AST! & manifesting the di

vine, four wonderful pups;


2 : Tomlinson


A staccato stanza From Charles Tomlinson’s ‘Ode to San Francisco.’


The red Dawn spread

& did suffuse

sufficient pinks

horizon turns

milky white

a splodge of paint

hits holy canvas






3 : Thorpe


From the poem ‘Putting the Boot In’ by Adam Thorpe


Malcolm waits

for full-faced moon


hearing the tales

of Cruachan’s Carlin


he’d comb’d the long locks

of Morag, by rivers


he’d heard the thunder

stun green-robed Watchers


fetch me, my love,

my bier & my bow


rough-clefted arrows

& strings so supple





4 : Wheatley


From the poem ‘A Skimming Stone, Lough Bray’ by David Wheatley


Unseen forces

lift the lid of sleep

twitching limbs, raising heads

lick her mouth

belly’s filling

blood-flow growing thicker.


Months pass by

happy playtimes

burgeoning hierarchies settle

ears flatten

tails ween legs

pointing straight at Sylvermane.




5 : Turnbull


From the poem ‘Lake’ by Gael Turnbull




This is a song for the very last wolf

of Scotland; bards call Sylvermane

to mind when thinking of lost ways,

whenever Scotland has forgotten

The Wolf once freely roamed.


Encircle & gather

ye night-flying moths,

embroider your lugs,

with the benefit of wine

my beating breast

falls, evenly,

like orchid dust

on a blazing tongue;


Long ago,

when time stretch’d taut,

the ice withdrew,

rivers thawed in silence,

spring returned to the islands,

exfoliating, blooming,

sturdy oaks flooded north,

centuries on centuries.

repeating to infinity

nature’s sacred progress.


6 : Tsvetaeva


Designed by Marina Tsveaeva



Sylvermane danders dark, waste hills

brown, unsightly plains

extraterritorial       continuous pines

rocky rivers feeding Loch Erroch


Trees without foliage

mountains covered with whiteness

bitter dawns      loneliness

watchers watch on unperturbed


There was a time when Manmeat

fear’d the wolf        from well-trodden

paths never strayed, beside the Spey

immense in trees, refused venture













7 : Tempest


A wild, stormy, random & meandering form used by Kate Tempest in her ‘Let Them Eat Chaos.’



Angry winds batter land


Climate change






Sun dimmer than any memory remembers


Except the yews, of course, & the oaks

Whose rings recall the icy ages











With feebly bleeting sheep






8 : Gaer


From the poem ‘The Hill Fort (Y Gaer) by Owen Shears


Since the day she was taken

Fuscous darkness stains the mountains

Despite gloriously daybreak the world


Choking with ashen hills

Shrunken salted lakes

‘We dallied here when we were


Alive – day sets – the scowling sun

Has smithereened into shards,

Gloomy skies, the murkiness of death


The moon is a half-sunken skull

Or a jellyfish beached & stinkin’

Begrutten – Sylvermane weeps lonely


& forgotten, ensared by sadnesses

torturous sensations of stagnancy

of life forfoughten – he paws


between wolf-pits, gap-toothed traps

whos einfignant jaws laugh at him

all in the shady sadness of a vale


Raven swoops by him, mocking

His fate’s dolour, pitying

His gait’s depression a fly drifts by


Ad infinitum not always forever,

the end has come for the Wolves,

aye, there shall be no second summer


He is the formal, final leaf

of winter, ready for the sheering

clinging stubbornly in the hurricane


of change, across the Moray sands

his paw prints weakly wander, & he

sighed low, more like a Titan in a cage.





9 : Hugo


From the poem ‘April in Cerignola’ by Richard Hugo


This is Norway, esteemed. The sun is mean

all summer, but underneath the Watchers

gaze on trollskin forests, trunks support

Valhalla on columns of adamantine granite.

Misty mountains stitched with river silver

lynxes prowl by wolverines, brown bears

& tremendous gangs of wolves, among

whom prospers, exhausted, Sylvermane.


Out of his ain soul’s dolesome desolation

he is led to a lake of blackest pitch called

Amsvartnir, his fur’s birthmark seems

a streak of fish; Lyngvi appears ahead

overgrown with heather, dilemma island,

this place Fenris imbounded by the Gods

chained to a jagged rock; saliva-formed,

the River Van his prison’s testament




10 : Aygi

From the poem’Playing Finger Games’ by Gennady Aygi


Malcolm welcom’d heartily – the Hunter Poet, whose fresh-spirited lines in these very halls have been repeated by lesser bards – they had stood before the Campbells of Glenorchy – Sir John of Bredalbane had made Kilchurn a barracks, standing as it does, knifepoint sharp, at the bare throat of cattle-tracks




11 : Berk

From the poetry of Ilhan Berk


As aroma of pine needles wafted low

Into the flatlands by the firth

Sylvermane caught the scent, & rose

In delectable postures, rising gladly

It felt good to move, paws tickled by needles

Forming sandy forest beds

He fell asleep that night, an owl calls precision

Whole nations of owls agree



12 : Barnstone

From the poem, Family, by Willis Barnstone



Two years fly by & the pack

Is changing fast, Sylvermane

his brother

& his sister

after the season of snows

tension rises with the sun

day of fangs & claws

broke oer Cruachan

it was a mighty match-up ‘til the last

when Sylvermane saw sense & slinked

away, alone

a refugee


13 : Egan

A scattering of word formations as found in the book, Thucydides & Lough Owel by Desmand Egan



sacred liquid


nowhere else in nature’s realm

can be seen that shade of red


skies streak with a glorious horizon

skies adorn’d with Dawn’s crimson tails


I am wolf & wolf I am!’




14 : Insom


From the poem ‘Insomonia; By Sydney Lea


the Trossachs’ sculptured stillness, since him born

his Fur always grey, but his name

was given under noble circumstances –

His mother watched him as a cub

sat stone-still on stones below peaktops hidden

by tottering cumuli, where flashes of cyan sky

erupted in the whiteness of the whitest cloud,

jaws gaped open… an old, old soul




15 :

From the collection ‘Deep-Tap Tree’ by Alexander ‘Sandy’ Hutchinson


In this prehistorical landscape each rock

has a name, each tree its shade of green



crystal water

flows through Glencoe; ferlie, immortal




16 : Concrete


The universal term for poetry that has both meaning & ashthetic qualities.




Over waves

Wings beating

Escorted by wyrd

Valkyrie legions

Red sun resuming

From the misty

West, shadow

Peaks climbing tall

Over Norway, her awesome glory

Bewroughten by northern Gods

An endless forest tatters skies

But out of these trees, Sylvermane

Hears the howl

Scampering call

Of happy wolves

Children of Fenris

Rapid descending

Talons flash









17 : Kazantzis


From the collection, ‘The Rabbit Magician Plate’ by Judith Kazantzis


Flipping in her iron-forged talons

she brings back fish for the feasting

Sylvermane coughs up bones


Days pass, stength increases,

cunning accumulates & speed

accelerates as teeth gnaw sharper































Agios Ioannis



Letters From Crete (iv) : FRAMING THE SONNEVERSE


Framing the Sonneverse


I am writing this overlooking the Libyan Sea, from the moputain village of Agios Ioanis. We reached her three days ago, calling in at Gortys – the ancient capital of Crete – in 39 degree heat, & too hot to explore much. I did pick up a copy of the oldest Law Code in Europe however, & have a mind to mixing it in with some classical poetry Emily gifted me as translated by Robin Skelton. From Gortys we took a wrong turn & ended up back at busy Heraklion, which was perhaps serendipitous as it allowed the girls to have another blast at Star Beach.



At 5 in the evening we set off for our next residence, crossing the island again form sea-to-sea as far as Ireapetra. On the way I was delighted to see the stone boat sunk by Poseidon near Psirea, the island which I presumed to be that of the Phaecaens of the Odyssey. I’d searched for it in vain on Google Earth, thinking it would be hard at the island’s Minoan twin harbours – but instead it is closer to the mainland & the Minoan city of Gournia, which may be of some significance. I shall be returning to the area tomorrow, & shall be studying the matter further then.


Agios Ioannis is a 9k drive at the head of a wonderful olive u-shaped mountain recess. Stacked white against the mountains, it is half dilapidated & half regenerated in the Calcata fashion. Once abustling town, in the 70s & 80s its inhabitants drifted to easier lives in the city & by the coast, leaving an insanely beautiful ghost-town. Even today, in the winter there are only 6 fulltime residents. Our house is large – with two wings, an excellent garden tended by the grey-bearded Adonis. Five cats, 3 dogs, & a goat contribute to the safari-like nature of our domicile, along with grievously nasty mosquitos that are ravaging the girls. There are only two places to eat – & no shops – the modernistic, uniquely-detailed Route 55 Café Bar, & Kristina’s tavern, where we can takeaway genuine Greek food to eat at one several places in our garden.


I have been chiefly editing the Silver Rose while here, which leads me to the contents of this essay. In one of my Pendragon Lectures, I formulated the theory that all poems stood upon four pillars – Music, Mood, Mould & Measure. Let us now apply this theory to the exploration of the sonnet form, retaining the ‘quatordicci’ element that seems natural in soneteering, ie the prevalent usage of the number 14.

The Mould of every sonnet, then, is bounded by a 14-line restriction. However, a sonnet may be divided into staves, or stanzettas as I like to call them. The Petrachian, for example, contains two stanzettas, of 8 & 6 lines respectively. In the terms of the Sonneverse, let us call to mind the following couplet;


Every stanza is a planet

Every sonnet is a star


The meaning behind this is simple. A sonnet is powered by the same energy that emanates from a star- a fiery light-giving force that gives life to its system. This energy then brings to life the planets – ie stanzas – & whether the star is powerful or weak depends upon the quality of the sonnet. As I have explored the Sonneverse, I have mapped out a number of typical star systems one expects to find.


1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X            X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X       X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X       X  X  X  X       X

X  X  X       X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X       X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X       X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X

X  X  X

X  X  X



In the above system charts, 6 would be the Petracrcian (8-6), 10 would be the Shakesperean (4-4-4-2) & 11 would be the sonnet form used by Shelley in his Ode to the West Wind (3-3-3-3-2). Of course there are many other variants; seven couplets, whether separated or in a solid block, irregular sonnets which look & feel like Free Verse, & so on into infinity, one expects.

 The Shakesperean Sonnet

Each x is a syllable with the letters representing the last syllable & its rhyme.





Each planet of a star-system can be mapped out via its MEASURE – giving further physical variation to a sonnet, including its potential rhyme scheme. Iambic pentameter, the measure of the Welsh Bards, the Alexandrine French – or a mixture of three & many more besides – all can utilized by the sonnet’s creator to craft their starsystem. William Blake understood the notion, when he said that the genius & creative spirit of mankind was poetry, & it is in the sonneverse that we gain our most natural reflection of the Untold Universe at large. Each planet will then have its own atmosphere, or MOOD, while its music is its life, a barren rock of sterile words or one singing with that operatic voices of man, beast, bird & insect, just as is heard – faintly – in the fabulous land of Creta.


I shall leave this essay two further expansions of the Sonneverse. In the purest sense of the physics behind sonneteering, whereas 14 sonnets make a traditional sequanza, we shall now call them Sonneclusters, 14 stars all closely linked in time, space & by theme. The gathering of sonneclusters will then create a Galaxy of Sonnets, 196 of them, & of each these galaxies are a part of the Sonneverse, when so many as yet remain undiscovered, that is to say, unwritten.


Agios Ioanniss

13th July