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The Chisper Effect 7 : Dux Pictorum

Continuing the weekly serialization ofchisper_effect

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

THE CHISPER EFFECT

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

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Chapter VII

In the last chapter we witnessed the supporting evidence for King Arthur’s historicity in the far south of Britain. Since his birth at Tintagel his fame has fanned out to every corner of the British Isles, swelling among folk memories & clinging hardily to topographical features. Scotland, especially, enjoys a vivid Arthurian tradition; there is a Loch Arthur near Dumfries, there is the great mountain of Arthur’s Seat at Edinburgh, while Stirling enjoys its own Round Table & a curious construction known as Arthur’s Oven. By analyzing the battle-list in the Historia Brittonum we can easily identify at least two consecutive battles fought by Arthur in Scotland. The seventh of the twelve battles was sited in the ‘Coit Celidon,’ i.e. the wood of Caledonia, the Roman name for Scotland. It is into this very wood that the wizard Merlin fled following the battle of Ardderyth in 573, and where, according to John of Fordun, he was murdered by shepherds at Drumelzier. The Caledonian Wood was once an epic affair, spreading mile after mile of foliage between Hadrian’s Wall & the Firth of Forth, & thus is too vague a reference point to locate the actual battlefield with any precision. Contrarily, we can state quite positively that Arthur’s eighth battle was fought in a singular & identifiable place in Scotland.

The eighth battle was at the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them

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In a recension of the Historia Brittonum known as Vatican Reg.1964., there is a wonderful piece of handwritten scholia attached to this battle by a tenth-century scribe called Marc the Anchorite;

For Arthur proceeded to Jerusalem, and there made a cross to the size of the Saviour’s cross, and there it was consecrated, and for three successive days he fasted, watched, and prayed, before the Lord’s cross, that the Lord would give him the victory, by this sign, over the heathen; which also took place, and he took with him the image of St. Mary, the fragments of which are still preserved in great veneration at Wedale, in English Wodale, in Latin Vallis-doloris. Wodale is a village in the province of Lodonesia, but now of the jurisdiction of the bishop of St. Andrew’s, of Scotland, six miles on the west of that heretofore noble and eminent monastery of Meilros.

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Astonishing stuff! We have been given a pin-point location for an Arthurian battlefield; a literary arrow aiming straight at Stow-in-Wedale in the Scottish Borders between Galashiels and Edinburgh. The fortress of Guinnion should then be Craigend Fort, two thirds of a mile to the north of Stow, whose grassy remnant of today barely does justice to what was once an impressive 900-foot high hill-fort. That a West Country Arthur was fighting this far north – & further, as we shall soon see – can be understood through the processes of the Chisper Effect. We begin by looking at an antique text known as the Pictish King List: only a handful of copies have survived the rigors of time, but they all contain pretty much the same sequence of kings, albeit with subtle variations in name spellings & reign lengths. The Picts were an ancient Scottish tribe who the Romans just could not conquer, building instead Hadrian’s Wall in order to keep them out of the Empire. Of the variant lists of their kings, the reigns given by the 14th century Poppleton Manuscript can be safely cross-referenced with dates found in the Irish Chronicles. Of these, the Annals of Clonmacnoise give us our first solid date, being;449: Drust mc Erb, K. of Pictland, died.’  Taking this as our starting point, let us examine the Poppleton King List, beginning with Talore, the successor of Drust McErb.

Year Crowned                       Reign-length

(449) Talore son of Aniel   (4)
(453) Necton Morbet son of Erip   (24)
(477) Drest Gurthinmoch   (30)
(507) Galalan Erilich   (12)
(519) Two Drests – son of Girom
———————— son of Uudrost

Drusts reign 5 years together / Drest son of Girom rules solo 5 years

(529) Garthnach son of Girom   (7)
(536) Cailtram son of Girom   (1)
(537) Talorg son of Muircholaich   (11)
(548) Drest son of Muniat   (1)
(549) Galam Cennaleph   (1)
(550) Galam Cennaleph and Bridei together   (1)
(551) Bridei son of Mailcon (30)

The final date of 581 (551+30) given as the end of King Bridei’s reign matches an event recorded in that same year by the Annals of Tigernach;

 581AD : The death of Bruide son of Maelchú, king of the Picts

In terms of reign-lengths, the Poppleton List can be certified as authentic, & looking through it with a keen chispological eye focusses our attention on a certain Garthnach, son of Girom. He was the ruler of the Picts between 529 & 536 & his parent’s name, like so many others scattered through the king lists, is non-especial. However, let us now look at Girom’s name as it appears in alternate versions of the Pictish King List, a cross-table in which philochisps are simply running riot;

picts

Gygurn: Bodleian ms Lat misc c.75

Gigurnus: Scalacronica, Corpus Christi College

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If we simply drop the Gs, we are left with a fellow called Arthnach son of Ygurn/Igurnus, which even the most skeptical of scholars must recognize as an incredible fit for Arthur son of Igerne. It has been a long, long time since anyone spoke Pictish; the phonetical rules of its language have been forgotten forever, expect in a few places where Pictish place-names still linger to this day, such as ‘aber’ for river-mouth & ‘pitt’ for portion of land. That the Picts placed a guttural ‘g’ before the vowels of their proper names is a distinct possibility, & if this is somehow not the case, then it must only be a massive coincidence that Garthnach son of Gygurn lived in the exact same period as Arthur son of Igerne, giving up his throne only a year before Arthur’s death at Camlann. Instead, I would prefer to praise the inherent abilities of the Chisper Effect, including the process of identifying semantics & etymologies of lost languages, a quality which can only enrich the work of future scholars.

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If Garthnach & Arthur were one & the same individual, we are left with the not insignificant problem of transporting a Cornish Arthur onto the Pictish throne. The likeliest & most legal explanation is that Igerne/Gygurn was a Pictish princess, as – according to the venerable 7th century Northumbrian monk, Bede – the nature of Pictish kingship was matrilineal;

 The Picts, accordingly, sailing over into Britain, began to inhabit the northern parts thereof, for the Britons were possessed of the southern. Now the Picts had no wives, and asked them of the Scots; who would not consent to grant them upon any other terms, than that when any difficulty should arise, they should choose a king from the female royal race rather than from the male: which custom, as is well known, has been observed among the Picts to this day.

We know next to nothing about the power politics of 6th century Britain, even less about the Pictish system, but the idea of Igerne being both Duchess in the West Country & a princess of Pictland is not at all far-fetched,  for dynastical alliances between royal houses is a common feature that continues to this day. Britain’s reigning monarch, for example, Queen Elizabeth II, is married to a Greek, while in the age of Victoria, her many children married into most of the noble houses of Europe. We must also recall from the last chapter how a Pictish name, Drystan, appeared on the Fowey Stone only a few miles from Tintagel as the son of King Mark of Cornwall (see image above). Collating & examining the supporting evidence, & beginning with the latest piece chronologically, Arthur’s connection to Pictland seems to be behind the poetical words of Gruffud ap Meredudd ( fl. 1352-1382 ), who wrote of an ‘Arthur of the highlands, hill country of Prydein,’ where Prydein is the Welsh term for Pictavia. We may confirm this this by correlating the ‘Caw of Prydein’ as given in the Old Welsh tale, Culhwych &  Olwen, with the vita of Saint Gildas, which describes King Caw as, ‘the king of Scotia… the noblest of the kings of the north.’

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Two centuries prior to Gruffud ap Meredudd, the 12th century French historian, Lambert of Saint-Omer, describes Arthur quite specifically as a Pictish war-leader; ‘Arthur, Dux Pictorum, ruling realms of the interior of Britain, resolute in his strength, a very fierce warrior, seeing that England was being assaulted from all sides, and that property was being stolen away, and many people taken hostage and redeemed, and expelled from their inherited lands, attacks the Saxons in a ferocious onslaught along with the kings of Britain, and rushing upon them, fought valiantly, coming forward as leader in twelve battles.’  Lambert also presents a second Picto-Arthurian tally with, ‘there is in Britain, in the land of the Picts, a palace of the warrior Arthur, built with marvelous art and variety, in which the history of all his exploits and wars is to be seen in sculpture.‘ This palace may have been at Rhynie, deep in the pretty Cairngorms, whose place at the heart of Pictavia is attested by a large number of Pictish Symbol stones found in the vicinity. A definite Arthurian connection to Rhynie comes through Tintagelware, which had fanned out throughout Britain to a series of high-status sites such as South Cadbury & Longbury Bank in the Dyfed parish of Penally. The latter should well have been the capital of Arthur’s Menevian ‘Throne’ as given in the Triads, & I would now like to remind the reader of the northern realm ascribed to Arthur in the same Triad, ‘Penrhionyd in the north,’ whose name easily transchispers into Rhynie.

Penrhionyd
Rhionyd
Rhyonyd
Rhynie

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Just as Cadbury was home to a grand timber feasting hall; & just as at the ‘high-status’ Longbury Bank in Dyfed, Ewan Campbell & Alan Lane suggest ‘there is tenuous evidence for at least one large timber building,’ so have archeologists uncovered a timber feasting hall at Rhynie. Nestled by the Water of Bogie, three fortified Pictish enclosures have been found in recent years – Rhynie’s ‘Royal Mile.’ Dr Gordon Noble describes the site as ‘a very royal place’ full of timber buildings, defense ditches based on the Roman style & wooden palisades – perhaps the bona fide capital of the Dux Pictorum.

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The Tap o Noth

six-foot-boulder

In the Welsh language, ‘Pen’ means ‘summit or peak,’ which renders Penrhionyd as meaning ‘Peak of Rhionyd.’ Above Rhynie towers the far-seen Tap o’ Noth, Scotland’s second highest hillfort, complete with impressive triple-ringed defense-works. Cast in such a majestic setting it is well worth a trip to Rhynie, a remarkably compact & pretty village whose residents go about their business quite unaware that they are breathing the same pure & mountain air as Arthur did during his seven-year stint as King of the Picts. There was even found, in 1978, a Pictish stone with an image of a bearded man with a pointy nose, who is wearing a head-dress, sporting a kilt & wielding a double-headed axe. Known as the Rhynie Man, it was taken from Rhynie & placed in the foyer of Aberdeenshire council’s HQ. It is rather a stretch of the imagination to consider it an image of Arthur, but it may be the nearest pictorial image we possess of how the true Arthur would have appeared to his Caledonian contemporaries.

More support for a Pictish Arthur begins with another glance at the King List, where we encounter a certain ‘Drest Gurthinmoch’ as ruling the Picts between 477 & 507. The Gurthinmoch element is the most important here, for when we take another look at Arthur’s northern court as given in the Tribal Thrones Triad…

 Arthur the chief lord in Penrhionyd in the north,
And Cyndeyrn Garthwys the chief bishop,
And Gurthmwl Guledic the chief elder

…we can satisfactorily identify ‘Gurthmwl’ with Gurthinmoc.

It makes perfect sense that when Arthur – the chief lord – became the Pictish King in 529, Gurthmwl/Gurthinmoc would have been described as a ‘chief elder.’ He had been a Pictish King himself, ruling for a good thirty years, & combining this nugget with the cornucopia of solid proofs I have provided leads us to only one conclusion… Arthur was at least half Pictish!

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Three years after the Battle of Badon, in 519, an otherwise un-sourced brother of Arthur, Drest son of Gygurn, became King of the Picts. What is interesting here is that at one point Drest shared his throne with a certain Drest, son of Uudrost, whose name transchispers into…

Uudrost
Uudro
Utro
Uther

It seems probable that the two Drests were actually the same man, genflated into the list as individual sons of his mother & father. Either way, the presence of Uther in the King List, & his appearance beside Igerne, pretty much seals the deal that Garthnach was Arthur. He would be king for only seven years, being succeeded in 536 by ‘Cailtram,’ who appears in Arthuriana as Sir Kay. That same year, according to Big Geoff, Arthur had begun a march on Rome, which we may attach to the historical siege of that city by the Ostrogoths that commenced in March 537. According to Big Geoff, after campaigning in France (in 536) Arthur went on to winter in the same country. The following year, with the summer coming on, Big Geoff describes that after departing for Rome in the old Hannibal style, Arthur; ‘had begun to climb the passes of the mountains, when message was brought him that his nephew Mordred, unto whom he had committed the charge of Britain, had tyrannously and traitorously set the crown of the kingdom upon his own head, and had linked him in unhallowed union with Guenevere the Queen in despite of her former marriage.’ The war which followed is quite succinctly described in the Annales Cambrae;

 537 AD The Strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell

The location of this ‘deadly battle’ has never been established to satisfaction, but it seems certain it was somewhere in the north parts of Britain, where the Triads place both Picts & Scots at the battle, as in; ‘three Dishonoured Men who were in the Island of Britain: The third and worst was Medrawd… When Medrawd heard that Arthur’s host was dispersed, he turned against Arthur, and the Saxons and the Picts and the Scots united with him to hold this Island against Arthur.’ There is also a passage in the Old Welsh tale, The Dream of Rhonabwy, in which a certain Iddawg places the battle in the Pictavian ‘Prydyn.’

I was one of the missionaries in the Camellian battle between Arthur and Medrawd his nephew… I was named in Iddawg Cordd Britain. And because of this the ranks of the troops were distributed at Machman. But, however, three nights before the end of the Camell battle I drove them out and I came to Lech Las in Prydyn to eat.

Both Machman & Lech Las are unknown to modernity, but Machman certainly feels like Clackmannan, a town just to the east of Stirling. Named after the pre-Christian ‘Stone of Mannau,’ it would have been the perfect location-beacon upon which Arthur’s armies would have assembled before Camlann. Solid Scottish remembrances of the battle can be found in the 16th century Scottish history by the very erudite Hector Boece;

In that deadly battle more than twentythousand Scots and Picts, together with King Modredus and a great host of the nobles of both nations. About thirty
 thousand of the Britons and their Bretagne auxiliaries died, including King Arthur and Modredus’ brother Gawanus, whowas so loyal to Arthur that he fought against his brother that day.

This passage contains a lovely piece of information that adds peripheral support to Arthur’s historicity. The mention of ‘Bretagne auxiliaries’ finds a correlation in a ‘legio bretonum’ mentioned in the The Life of Saint Dalmas of Rodez (c.800 A.D.) who were stationed ‘Ultralegeretanis,’ or ‘beyond the Loire.’ Of its date, ‘all one can conclude for sure,‘ opines Australian scholar Howard M. Wiseman, ‘is that the incident took place between 534 or 541.’ During Arthur’s continental adventures in the year before Camlann, he is seen campaigning heavily in Burgundy, & may have been the very leader of the ‘legio bretonum‘ as mentioned in the vita.

Returning to Boece, when adding to the casualty list at Camlann, he tells us, ‘furthermore, there died Caimus, Gwalinus, and
 nearly the entire British nobility.’ We should take particular notice of the demise of a certain Caimus. This man, I believe, was the same fellow as Arthur’s successor to the Pictish throne, CailtramAccording to the King List, Cailtram ruled the Picts for only a year, ending his short stint on the throne on 537, heavily supporting the Cailtram to Caimus babel-chain. Another northern king to die in 537 was Comgall, king of the Scots, as given by the Annals of Tigernach;

 537 - Comgall, Domangart’s son, King of Scotland, fell in the 35th year of his reign

By this use of the word ‘fell’ we must come to the conclusion that Comgall died in battle – in the very same year as our seismic battle at Camlann. The ‘gall’ element of his name also philochisps into Gwalinus; & one cannot help but feel that when Boece places Caimus & Gwalinus side-by-side in death, he is referring to them as the kings of the Picts & the Scots. On the other hand, it is difficult to believe that these two monarchs would have marched their armies all the way to Cornwall, where Camelford is thought by some to be the site of Camlann. This Cornish legend is more of an unsupported factochisp based upon a philochisp, a common error in historical investigations. Looking for the ‘Camellian battle‘ in the north, however, brings us to a possible philochisp found in the Pictish heartlands at Carmyllie, near Dundee – & one that may be supported by a definitive local tradition.

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Travelling to the edge of the parish, & ascending the ridge over the gentle Vinney water, one may see the village of Dunnichen in the valley below. It is to the north of that sparklingly pretty townlet, in the gently undulating agricultural landscape of East Mains, that a memory of the battle of Camlann remained long in the folkspeech of the natives, where a transchispering whisper of an Arthurian battle having taken place there refused to fade into nothingness. In the second statistical account of Scotland (1845), the Rev. Mr Headrick records, ‘a confused tradition prevails of a great battle having been fought on the East Mains of Dunnichen, between Lothus, King of the Picts, or his son Modred, and Arthur King of the Britons, in which that hero of romance was slain.’ An Arthurian battle at Dunnichen is hinted at by a clear topographical reference in the locality; of which John Stuart-Glennie declared, ‘a rock on the north side of the hill of Dunbarrow, in Dunnichen parish (in the adjoining county of Forfar), has long borne, in the tradition of the country, the distinguished name of Arthur’s Seat.’  Was this hill the site of Arthur’s camp at the battle of Camlann?

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Archeology has proven that a substantial conflict had been fought in the locality. A Pictish stone was dug up on East Mains, of which instance Headrick observes in 1833’s Statistical Account that, ‘a good many years ago, there was turned up with the plough a large flat stone, on which is cut a rude outline of an armed warrior’s head and shoulders; and not many years ago, the plough also uncovered some graves in another part of the same farm. These graves consisted of flat stones on all sides. They were filled with human bones, and urns of red clay with rude ornaments upon them ; the urns being filled with whitish ashes. By exposure to the air, the bones and urns mouldered to dust.‘ To this information, Andrew Jervise adds (PSAS II, 1854–7), ‘on the lands of Lownie also, (the original property of the Auchterlonies) & in the King’s muir adjoining, a variety of ancient graves have been now and then discovered.’  Also at Dunnichen was found one of the most remarkable symbol-stones in the Pictish pantheon. It had been dug up in 1811 in a field named ‘Chasel’ (Castle) park at East Mains, & moved to the church yard at Aberlemno. One side of this wonderfully carved stone shows a battle in full swing, presumably between the long-haired Picts & what appears to be helmet-wearing Saxons. Camlann was fought on an international scale, a great civil war in which Mordred obtained military assistance from the Saxons, with the Triads telling us; ‘the three disgraceful traitors who enabled the Saxons to take the crown of the Isle of Britain from the Cambrians… The second was Medrod, who with his men united with the Saxons, that he might secure the kingdom to himself, against Arthur; and in consequence of that treachery many of the Lloegrians became as Saxons.’

We also have an account of Guinevere being imprisoned in the locality after the battle. Hector Boece, following, ‘Vairement, Tergotus, and other reliable writers of our national history, because they record things more truthfully, without the tales of itinerant minstrels,’ writes that after the Battle of Camlann, Guinevere was taken to a hill-fort in Perthshire. In May 2014, I decided to investigate the matter for myself, writing it up in the following blogpost;

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Queen Guinevere’s Grave

May 16, 2014

 It has been quite a week. Only the other day I made the first inroads into the previously unfathomable mysteries of the Voynich manuscript, then yesterday I began my initial forays into the academic minefield that are the Pictish symbols. These enigmatic images are found on memorial stones & bits of jewelry across northern Britain, & their true meaning has remained a mystery. Speculation has abounded, but with no Pictish literature to speak of, nothing has ever been able to be properly verified. A lovely clutch of them can be found at a place called Meigle, so two days ago I secured the company of my friend Victor Pope (& his plus one free bus pass) & head off into Scotland in search of a Pictish stone. Our journey took us from Edinburgh, over the red-iron leviathan that is Queensferry Bridge, an experience which reminds me of crossing the Goan river estuaries. From there we trundled through Dumfermline & the western reaches of Fife, before arriving in the gorgeous, stately Tayside town of Perth. Changing busses, we now set off east in the direction of Dundee, along the lush stretch of undulating Green that is the Strathmore.

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After passing through Coupar Angus, the bus veered north-east for a while & took us to the exquisitely compact & cute townlet of Alyth, over which stands the earthy remains of a majestic Pictish hill-fort. Full of Arthuriana, the 16th century Scottish historian Hector Boece writes that following the disastrous battle of Camlann, in which Arthur met his doom, Guinevere was taken to Alyth;

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. Furthermore, ample spoils were collected and shared out among the victors in the traditional way. The Scots were allotted wagons decorated with precious British ornamentation, horses of noble appearance and speed, arms, and the captive nobles, while Queen Guanora, illustrious men and women, and the rest fell to the Picts. These were led to the Pictish district of Horestia, to Dunbar, which was then a very stoutly fortified stronghold (in our days, the name of the place endures, although nothing of the fort save some traces). There they were detained and spent the rest of their lives in wretched servitude.

The bus then trundled on another 3 miles, dropping me & Vic off at Meigle. We had an hour to spend there, the purpose of the visit being to check out the collection of Pictish stones found in the village churchyard & gathered together inside a small, yet atmospheric museum. Luckily, Vic’s plus one bus pass got us in half-price (£2.25 each) & we had a jolly good time checking out the marvelous carvings of a long-dead race. Outside the church there is also the famous ‘Vanora’s Mound,’ said to be the grave of Guinevere herself. The New Statistical Account of Scotland 1845, tells us; ‘Like other places of the same kind, 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,’ while Boece adds, ‘the most ornate of these is that of Queen Guanora, as we are advised by its inscription. There is a superstition in that district that women who tread on that tomb henceforth remain as barren as was Guanora.’

The connection between the mound & the grave comes from a massive symbol stone at whose center stands a figure in a dress being torn apart by lions – local folklore suggests this is Guinevere being attacked for getting it on with Mordred. Other scholars think it might likely to be the biblical Daniel, who also got torn apart by lions & appears elsewhere in Pictish imagery. Anyway, that is our starting block; two separate traditions placing Guinevere in the vicinity of Meigle. The thing is, the reason I’d hauled ass up into this pretty corner of Scotland was that I had a different idea as to the location of Guinevere’s grave. So me & Vic jumps on a bus three miles down the road to Newtyle, chomping on a bridie as we went, from where we began a six mile hike back to Coupar Angus through fields full of May flowers & buzzing insectry. Across the Strathmore the Grampians began their epic journey north to the Moray Firth, with pockets of snow still skipping the tallest peaks in the distance.

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About two miles into the walk, Vic & I came across a tall Pictish stone known as the ‘Keillar Stone.’ It stands on an ancient burial mound, with a clear view across Strathmore to the hillfort at Alyth, & is a really special location indeed. Of the stone, in 1875 William Oliphant described it as an; ‘old and striking monument, making the spot on which it stands historical, though no syllable of the history has come down to us.‘ In 1856, John Stuart-Glennie reported there was a ‘graveyard’ under the stone as in;

The tumulus on which it is placed is formed of earth and stones, and several cists containing bones have been found in it. Ancient sepulchral remains have also been dug up in various parts of the adjoining field.

Of the mysterious Pictish symbols on the stone, the presence of a rimmed mirror & comb combo seems to reflect the eternal female predilection for making themselves beautiful. In the 7th century, Bede records Pope Boniface sending the combo to a Saxon Queen, called Ethelberga. In Bede’s account, he reprints the Pope’s letter to the queen in its entirety, an extract of which reads;

We have, moreover, sent you the blessing of your protector, St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, that is, a silver looking-glass, and a gilt ivory comb, which we entreat your glory will receive with the same kind affection as it is known to be sent by us.

To finish my post I would just like to hypothesise upon a possible factochisp that had taken in the locality. It is true that Guinevere & her fellow nobles were taken in captivity to Alyth, where ‘they were detained and spent the rest of their lives in wretched servitude.’ On their deaths they were buried at the Keillar stone, but over the passage of time, the local tradition that Guinevere was buried in the area, was accidentally shifted to the Vanora Mound at nearby Meigle.

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Back in 2017, one final clue to Camlann’s siting at Dunnichen lies in a long-lost church which once stood in the village. Known as St Causnan’s Chapel, the name is a chispological degeneration of Saint Constantine, Arthur’s kinsman, who received the kingship of the Britons on the field of Camlann itself, when Big Geoff tells us, ‘even the renowned King Arthur himself was wounded deadly, and was borne thence unto the island of Avalon for the healing of his wounds, where he gave up the crown of Britain unto his kinsman Constantine.’ This crucial passage introduces us to the concept of Avalon, or ‘the Isle of Apples,’ one of the most mysterious & magical places in British mythology. An alternative name, ‘Afallach,’ is given in the Triads.

 Three Dishonoured Men who were in the Island of Britain: There took place the Battle of Camlan between Arthur and Medrawd, and was himself wounded to death. And from that (wound) he died, and was buried in a hall on the Island of Afallach

According to legend, Arthur sailed to Afallach to be treated for his wounds by Morgan Le fey & her nine maidens. The Somerset idyll of crankpots, fine scrumpy & quaint, old streets that is Glastonbury has for a long time staked a claim to its being the Arthurian Avalon, even going so far as to fake Arthur’s grave at the back-end of the 12th century. In 1190, an ancient coffin was ‘discovered,’ by the monks of Glastonbury, in which was found a woman’s bones with the hair still intact. Another coffin was unearthed underneath her, which was found to contain a man’s bones. This being removed, they subsequently found a third coffin upon which a lead cross had been placed, which bore the inscription, ‘Here lies the famous king Arthur, buried in the isle of Avalon.’  On opening the third coffin, they found large & sturdy bones, which the monks transferred with suitable honour and much pomp into a marble tomb in their church. They also declared that the other two coffins contained the bones of Guinevere, & waited for the tourists to pour in.

Looking deeper into the initial discovery, we learn that the Abbey was in deep financial trouble. A few years before the discovery, in 1184, the monastic buildings & church of Glastonbury had been burnt to the ground. Money was needed, & with the relics of saints being big business at the time, these wily monks ‘found’ the bones of Saint Patrick. Widespread belief in an Irish burial site soon put paid to that particular claim, & the bones of Saint Dunstan ‘discovered,’ not long after were dismissed just as swiftly. By 1189, with Richard the Lionheart pressing the churches for financial assistance to aid his crusade, the monks were getting desperate. How fortuitous an occasion it was, then, that the bones of King Arthur were unearthed the next year!

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As seems likely, the Monks of Glastonbury had made the whole thing up, meaning the search for Arthur’s grave is back on. With Camlann being fought at Dunnichen, common sense tells us we are looking for an island with orchards somewhere in the vicinity. There is such a place; for as long as anyone can remember a rich & fertile tract of land in Perthshire called the Carse of Gowrie has flourished with that Fruit of Eve, the apple. The Carse still retains the pleasant moniker of ‘the Garden of Scotland,’ whose once sprawling historic orchards have dwindled to only five wee woods in the modern age; Bogmiln, Inchyra Farm,  Muirhouses, Newbigging & Templehall. In days long gone, a holy Pictish community once prospered in the vicinity of Inchyra Farm, as attested by a tall cross slab discovered at St Madoes, which is now in the Perth Museum. Just on the edge of St Madoes we come to Inchyra House, a place of great significance to our investigation on account of two particular Dark Age relics, which placed side-by-side very much invoke the idea that Inchyra was once Avalon.

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The first is a Pictish grave, discovered by ploughing in 1945, & situated 100 meters south of Inchyra House. The remains were been covered by a large decorated flat slab and forty-nine water-rolled stones. This may well be Arthur’s, for the Triads say he was buried on, ‘a hall on the Island of Afallach.’ The skeletal remains were later re-buried. The second relique can still be seen an arrow shot from Inchyra House; the once prominent conical tumulus known as the Witch Knowe. Roundabout the year 1830 a gardener called James Powrie, removed several cartloads of stones, urns and numerous calcined bones. That the remians were buried at the ‘Witch Knowe’ provides a solid link to the attepted magical healing of Arthur after Camlan. It seems quite casual to just slip in the fact that Arthur may have been buried in the grounds of Inchyra, but further evidences suggest as much. An antique Welsh poem called Pa Gur has Arthur up to all sorts of obscure deeds in even obscurer places, including;

In the hall of Awarnach
Fighting with a hag
He cleft the head of Paiach

Here we have a clear philochisp for the Hall of Afallach, where the Triads say Arthur was buried. If this was at Inchyra, then of course the ‘Witch Knowe’ connects with the ‘Hag’ at Awarnach. That Arthur was buried in the area can also be ascertained through the following babel-chain;

Abernethy
Erneth
Aneth
Anoeth

According to a poem known as the Stanzas of the Graves, found in the 13th century ‘Black Book of Carmathen, among a comprehensive list of the burial sites of ancient Welsh heroes we read; ‘Anoeth, the grave of Arthur. In this area we can also place Arthur’s ‘nurse,’ Morgan Le fey. Constructing a babel-chain around her name leads us to St Madoes, the village by Inchyra House. In the chain we encounter a variant of Madoes – Madianus – & the name o yet another Dark Age female sorceress, Modron.

Morgan
Morgon
Modron
Madran
Madian
Madianus

In Celtic mythology, Modron was the daughter of Avallach, whose husband was a certain Urien of Rheged with whom she sired a prince called Owain. Likewise, Morgan Le fey was said to be the wife of King Urien of Rheged, with whom she sired a certain Prince Owain. The two are clearly the same woman, with the philochisp occurring during the transference of Modron’s legend to Brittany, where the figure of Morgan Le fey first prospered in folk-tales & literature.

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Fifteen centuries ago, the alluvial flood plain that is the Carse of Gowrie was a patchwork of many islands, including Inchyra, whose phonetic ‘inch’ stems from the Gaelic name for ‘small island.’ The land upon which the Witch Knowe was raised does rather feel like it was in the island in the past, about a football pitch’s worth. From this place, & on crossing the Tay estuary, one comes to quaint Abernethy, the capital of the southern Pictland. The town even gets a mention in the Pictish King List, as in, ‘Nectonius the Great, Wirp’s son, the king of all the provinces of the Picts, offered to Saint Brigid to the day of judgement, Abernethy, with its territories.’ The vocal, local folklore of Abernethy relates how back in the 6th century Saint Brigit sent nine maidens to the town from Ireland. Their healing skills would have been among the best in Dark Age Britain, & transporting the mortally wounded Arthur to their bosom after Camlann would have been the best option at the time. In his Vita Merlini, Big Geoff describes the nine sisters of Avalon in a classic creochisp based upon Saint Bridget’s maidens at Abernethy;

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There nine sisters rule by a pleasing set of laws those who come to them from our country. She who is first of them is more skilled in the healing art, and excels her sisters in the beauty of her person.  Morgen is her name, and she has learned what useful properties all the herbs contain, so that she can cure sick bodies…. And men say that she has taught mathematics to her sisters, Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten, Glitonea, Gliton, Tyronoe, Thitis; Thitis best known for her cither.  Thither after the battle of Camlan we took the wounded Arthur, guided by Barinthus to whom the waters and the stars of heaven were well known.  With him steering the ship we arrived there with the prince, and Morgen received is with fitting honour, and in her chamber she placed the king on a golden bed and with her own hand she uncovered his honourable wound and gazed at it for a long time.  At length she said that health could be restored to him if he stayed with her for a long time and made use of her healing art.  Rejoicing, therefore, we entrusted the king to her and returning spread our sails to the favouring winds.

Unfortunately for Arthur, his wounds turned out to be outwith the pale of even the abilities of Morgan Le fey, & so Death came & claimed him. That he was buried in a ‘hall’ in the future grounds of Inchyra House certainly feels right, & I began to investigate the matter further. What I discovered was something quite beautiful which all but confirms, in chispological terms, that Arthur was once buried under that ornate Pictish slab & its 49 water-rolled stones discovered at Inchrya in 1945.

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One sleepless night during the writing of this book, as I stared at the ceiling in my bedroom, I was picturing the stone & the Ogham letters inscribed into it. While ruminating on the matter further I came to the conclusion that; if I was right, & Arthur was buried at Inchyra, the Ogham inscription on the stone might mention Arthur, Uther or Igerne in some capacity. A wee google later & the pdf was on my screen of a 1959 paper on the Inchyra Stone by written by Robert Stevenson. To my sleepy joy, the Ogham inscriptions appeared, as transliterated by FT Wainwright. Of their academic accuracy, Stevenson wrote; ‘Professor K.H.Jackson, who examined the stone along with us, is in general agreements.’ The first inscription reads…

 INEHHETESTIE

…in which one can see Anoeth, as in the babel-chain;

Anoet
Inohhet
Inehhet

It is the inscription on one of the stone’s edges that gives us the winning ticket;

 UHTU-O-AGED

In the Welsh tradition, Igerne is given the name Eigr, & thus in the Ogham inscription above we can quite positively see the names of Arthur’s legendary parents;

UHTU                     AGE

Uther                       Eigr

That the philochisps of Arthur’s burial site at Anoeth & the names of both of his parents appear on a single stone are just two more of the many ‘coincidences’ that paint Inchyra as the original Avalon. This means simply that King Arthur was – & still is – buried in the grounds. Inches was not the first time I had found Arthur’s grave, however, for back in my early days as a trainee chispologist I had deciphered another dark-age inscription, & come to the conclusion that Arthur & Mordred had been buried in a romantic glen in the Scottish Borders. It turned out I was wrong, but what I didn’t realise at the time was instead of finding Arthur, I’d actually found the guy who’d found the Holy Grail…

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Next Wednesday, 20/12/17

Chapter 8

The Holy Grail

The Chisper Effect 6 : Dux Bellorum

Continuing the weekly serialization ofchisper_effect

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

THE CHISPER EFFECT

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

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(Register with Completely Novel to…)

BUY A COPY OF THE BOOK HERE

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Chapter VI

Cupbearer, fill these eager mead-horns, for I have a song to sing. Let us plunge helmet first into the Dark Ages, as the candle of Roman civilization goes out over Europe, & an empire finally falls. The Britons, placid citizens after centuries of the Pax Romana, are suddenly assaulted on three sides; from the west sailed the Irish, from the north marauded the Picts &IMG_20171205_130923870_BURST000_COVER_TOP from across the North Sea the Anglo-Saxons slammed into the eastern coasts. For almost a century the situation was getting a tad desperate, until a great hero would rise up from the ranks & lead the Britons to victory. This man, who turned back the invading tide for the duration of his lifetime, was the world famous figurehead, King Arthur. With him we arrive at the world’s greatest collection of creochsips, factochisps, philochisps, & just about every other musterable kind of chisper there is.

The actual existence of King Arthur is a seemingly never-ending hot potato of academic contention. In the early 12th century, William of Malmesbury writes of the ‘warlike Arthur… of whom the trifling of the Britons talks such nonsense even today; a man clearly worthy not to be dreamed of in fallacious fables, but to be proclaimed in veracious histories, as one who long sustained his tottering country, and gave the shattered minds of his fellow citizens an edge for war.’ It is because of those ‘fallacious fables’ that the historicity of Arthur is so strenuously debated, pickling many an academic head & producing a series of ‘Arthurs’ that jump about through time like Doctor Who in his Tardis. Recent scholarship of the most defeatist fashion places him in the same bracket as UFOs & the continent of Atlantis, with Guy Halsall stating, ‘I wish that Arthur had existed but that I must admit there is no evidence – at any rate none admissible in any serious court of history.’ This is essentially a case of ‘we cannot solve the puzzle therefore the puzzle is unsolvable.’

Kingarthur

The thing is there is just too much of an Arthurian tradition for it all to be dismissed as fiction. To find the answers we will have to embark on a Dark Age detective story; it won’t be like Agatha Christie or anything, where a bunch of middle-class grannies & well-educated toffs wander round posh hotels acting all guilty. Instead, we shall undertake our very own Grailquest to find the nuggets of genuine evidence left behind by King Arthur, who was a man, according to William of Malmesbury; ‘worthy to be celebrated, not by ideal fictions, but by authentic history.’ His legend is the primary myth of the British Islands whose name still resonates in every corner of the planet. As time dissolved memories of the historical Arthur, the traces of his famous happenings remained etched in the fabric of time. Clues include mentions in the vitas of seven saints; a crucial passage in the Historia Brittonum made by a ninth century monk, Nennius; while two centuries later, Geoffrey of Monmouth created his fluid Arthurcentric chronicle, the History of the Kings of Britain. Arthur, & many other characters associated with his legend, also turn up numerous times in the archaic poetry of the Welsh. By cross-referencing all this literary information against the archeological record, we are actually quite able to paint quite a detailed picture of Arthur & his times. Exist he must, & we are just about set to prove it.

We begin our investigation with Arthur’s paternal uncle, a certain Ambrosius Aurelanius, said to be the brother of Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon. Ambrosius was a 5th century Roman general who led Brythonic opposition to the first furious waves of Saxon invaders. We learn of this in the writings of a 6th century cleric called Gildas, whose De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain) is the oldest British history to survive the rigours of time. It relates how the Britons, ‘took arms under the conduct of Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the confusion of this troubled period by chance left alive. His parents, who for their merit were adorned with the purple, had been slain in these same broils.’ From this one statement we glean several concrete facts about Arthur’s uncle;

Ambrosius was a Roman: His surname Aurelianus means he belonged to the high-status Aureli gens, an ancient Plebian family. By the 5th century AD, the Aureli had broken into numerous sub-branches, including the Cottae, Oristedes & the Symmachi.

He was one of the last true Romans to remain in Britain: That the Romans stayed behind in positions of power after the departure of the legions is confirmed by a chronicle known as the Bern Codex; ‘in the year 409, Rome was taken by the Goths, and from that time Roman rule came to an end in Britain, except for some, who were born there, and who reigned for a short time.’ The actual length of time meant by the Codex is vague, but we may conclude that the island-born Romans had control over Britain for only a single generation.

His parents were members of the Roman aristocracy: They were probably of senatorial or consular rank on account of them being ‘adorned with the purple,’ i.e. wearing purple-bordered togas.

His parents had been slain in Britain: Gildas describes the plight of the native Britons; ‘the miserable remnant, being taken in the mountains, were murdered in great numbers.’ According to Geoffrey of Monmouth – whom we shall from now on call Big Geoff – the mother of Ambrosius was a daughter of the king of Dyfed (Demetia) in SW Wales; ‘they told them that none knew his father, but that his mother was daughter of the King of Demetia, and that she lived along with the nuns in St. Peter’s Church in that same city.’ This seems to indicate that Ambrosius’ father died before his mother.

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The next record of our man comes from the 9th century Historia Brittonum, in which we read; “What is your name?” asked the king (Vortigern); “I am called Ambrose,” returned the boy; and in answer to the king’s question, “What is your origin?” he replied, “A Roman consul was my father.’ From this we can glean certain new facts with which to flesh out Ambrosius;

Ambrosius was born in the 440s: Chronologically, the passage above occurred after the arrival of the Saxons in England, dated by Gallic Chronicle to before 442. This connects with a passage in the medieval English chronicle made by Roger De Hovedon; ‘In the year of grace 464, the Britons sent messengers into Brittany to Aurelius Ambrosius and his brother Uterpendragon, who had been sent there for fear of Vortigern, beseeching them to come over from the Armorican country without delay, to drive out the Saxons and king Vortigern, and take the crown themselves. As they had now arrived at man’s estate, they began to make preparations of men and ships for the expedition.’ If Ambrosius had  just arrived at his ‘man’s estate’ by 464, then we can see him being born at some point in the mid 440s.

The father of Ambrosius was a Roman consul: At this period, the Roman empire elected two consuls every year, one for the western empire based in Rome, & the other for the eastern empire in Constantinople. Looking through the consular list of Rome kept by Cassiodorus, we find three consuls who bore the name Aurelianus in the 5th century. The first is far too early (Aurelianus, consul 400) & likewise the third is far too late (Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus, consul 485), which leaves only one possible candidate for an Aurelian consul. His name was Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, a member of the Symmachi branch of the Aureli gens, & the consul for the Western Empire in 446 AD. Throughout my chispological surveys I have often been surprised at how much historical information has been missed by many centuries of serious scholarship, but this particular nugget seems so obvious its perpetual non-discovery defies belief. When our oldest historians tell us that a certain man was the son of a Roman consul, common sense dictates we flick through a list of Roman consuls just as we moderns flick through a telephone directory!

In the same year that Quintus was the western consul, the Eastern Empire came for the third time under the jurisdiction of Flavius Aetius. To him was sent, according to Gildas, a desperate letter from the British, reading; ‘to Aetius, now consul for the third time: the groans of the Britons… The barbarians drive us to the sea; the sea throws us back on the barbarians: thus two modes of death await us, we are either slain or drowned.’ Gildas then quite curtly says that the Romans ‘could not assist them.’ At first it seems strange that the western ends of the Empire would make a plea for help to the eastern consul – but knowing now that Quintus died in the Gildasian ‘broils’ which beset the native Britons, we can make sense of the quandary. The refusal of Aetius may have been based along the lines of, ‘if one consul died in Britain fighting the Saxons, why should I, it all sounds rather too dangerous for my liking & I’m gonna have to pass, thanks.’

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We must now look at another passage by Nennius, in which Ambrosius appears as a boy in south Wales; ‘the king (Vortigern) sent messengers throughout Britain, in search of a child born without a father. After having inquired in all the provinces, they came to the field of Aelecti, in the district of Glevesing, where a party of boys were playing at ball. And two of them quarrelling, one said to the other, ‘boy without a father, no good will ever happen to you.’ It is here made apparent that Quintus was slain before the birth of his son Ambrosius, which must have taken place after 446 in order for Quintus to be remembered as a consul. We also discover Ambrosius was living in the kingdom of Glevesing, or Glywysing, a coastal sub-kingdom between the modern-day cities of Swansea & Cardiff. This location leads us to a contemporary of Ambrosius – Saint Paul Aurelian. His vita, written by Wrmonoc, tells us;

Saint Paul, surnamed Aurelian, the son of a certain count named Perphirius, who held a position of high rank in the world, came from a province which is in the language of the British race, because a section of it is regarded as an island, is called Penychen

Penychen was one of the cantrefs of Glywysing, placing another nobly-born Aurelian in the very area where the young Ambrosius grew up. With matching home regions & surnames, & the fact that the name ‘Perphirius’ means ‘clad-in-purple,’ it is highly likely that they were related. It is by placing the boy Ambrosius in Glywysing that we may finally begin to unravel the truth behind his legendary status as the uncle of Arthur. I conject at this point that after losing his consular father, Ambrosius was adopted by a certain king called Glyws, the ruler of Glywysing. In a medieval manuscript known as Jesus College 20,  among the sons of ‘Glois,’ let us now observe an obscure figure known as Amroeth of Margam;

 Ewein vab keredic. Pedroc sant. Kynvarch. Edelic. Luip. Clesoeph. Sant. Perun. Saul. Peder. Katwaladyr. Meirchyawn. Margam Amroeth. Gwher. Cornuill. Catwall. Cetweli. Gwrrai. Mur.

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Amroeth is a treblechisp away from Ambrosius. We must first shorten the source name to Ambros, secondly we take away a ‘b’ – Amros – & finally we change the ending, giving us Amroeth. This suggests three different modes of transmission have occurred, with the last one happening in the 14th century, when the Jesus College genealogies were assembled in Middle Welsh. As for Margam, on the borders of Penychen, it was one of seven cantrefs into which the kingdom of Gylwysing divided on the death of Glyws. A number of early Christian crosses inscribed with Roman names were found about Margam, dating from 450AD, firmly supporting a Romano-British presence in the same small area in which Ambrosius was brought up.

Looking at the Jesus College genealogy, if the legends are correct, then Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon should be among the names as a brother of Ambrosius… but it is not. There is, however, a certain Peder, to whom we can positively attach the site of Arthur’s birth, Tintagel, a Dark Age sea-fortress guarding  the northern coasts of Cornwall. The  key evidence begins with Big Geoff. The guy is recognized as the godfather of Arthuriana, but unfortunately gets a lot of stick from historians, & I can see why. His work is all over the shop, a patchwork quilt of historical flashbacks knitted together in any old fashion… but every now & again he hits the nail right on the head. In the case of Arthur’s birth, he describes a certain Duke Gorlois of Cornwall & his wife, Igerne, the mother of Arthur. Duke Gorlois was not Arthur’s father, however, the honour going instead to Uther Pendragon, who with the help of the wizard Merlin, tricked Igerne into sleeping with him. The story, as told by Big Geoff, is the nearest thing we have to Arthur’s birth certificate;

Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, was there, with his wife Igerne, that in beauty did surpass all the other dames of the whole of Britain. And when the King espied her amidst the others, he did suddenly wax so fain of her love that, paying no heed unto none of the others, he turned all his attention only upon her… At last, committing the siege into charge of his familiars, he did entrust himself unto the arts and medicaments of Merlin, and was transformed into the semblance of Gorlois… They then went their way toward Tintagel, and at dusk hour arrived at the castle. The porter, weening that the Duke had arrived, swiftly unmade the doors, and the three were admitted. For what other than Gorlois could it be, seeing that in all things it seemed as if Gorlois himself were there? So the King lay that night with Igerne.

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To many, the birth of Arthur at Tintagel is nothing but an old wives tale wrapped up in a fanciful piece of mythmaking, garnished with a slice of magical nonsense. The problem is, most of what we know about Arthur is the creation of medieval writers who added all the romantic trimmings; such as Excalibur, lofty-towered Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table & that most mystical wizard of the court, Merlin. No wonder people nowadays find it hard to believe that he was ever a real person, & all these negative vibes about his actual existence is upsetting the tourist board of Cornwall no end, whose Arthurian tradition is a real money-spinner. Tintagel receives thousands of visitors a year, all wanting to see the place where Arthur was born, but their ears are beginning to ring with the voices of a growing number of media-influenced skeptics scoffing, ‘he doesn’t exist, you know’ or, ‘he is actually Scottish, you know.’ For the sake of the Cornish Tourist Board, & for good old honest truth, it is time to put all that errant & nonsensical speculation to bed.

More than eight centuries after Big Geoff penned his history, a lovely piece of epigraphical evidence turned up at Tintagel itself, when a massive grass-fire raged across its promontory in 1983.  Once the fire had scorched its business, the foundations of several dark-age buildings were uncovered on the promontory, one of which yielded in 1998 an extremely interesting piece of broken slate known now as the Artognou Stone. Upon it was found scribbled a sample of sub-roman ‘graffiti’ that shall prove to be the key to unlocking the mysteries of King Arthur. 

Artognou Slate

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PATERNI COLIAVI FICIT ARTOGNOU

Peter Coliavi made this Artognou

When I saw the letters A-R-T,’ declared the archeologist who found the slate, ‘I thought, uh-oh.’ One can imagine the excitement that rippled out from Tintagel that summer, the discovery sending historians & linguists scrambling to identify what the word Artognou meant, with the ‘gnou’ element getting everybody all confused. A few possibilities were mentioned, but no-one got anywhere really – the connection to Arthur was deemed unproven & the whole thing slowly forgotten. The thing is, the slate is broken off at just the place where ‘Artognou’ ends, meaning the word could well have contained more letters. It is all a case of thinking outside the box, or in this case outside the dark-age slate. So I started chucking some of our 26 noble glyphs at the inscription & found that by adding a single letter ‘s,’ we gain the word ARTOGNOUS,’ or ‘Artogenous,’ a Latin word meaning ‘of the gens/family of Arto.’ The slate’s inscription should then be rendered as;

Paterni Coliavi made this, of the family of Arto

Moving quietly along this line of investigation, we need to find somebody called Paterni who was related to Arthur. Looking through the historical notices, a solid candidate turns up in the 7th century Life of Saint Turian. This vita was thought lost until 1912, when it was unearthed by Tabbe Duin in the Public Library of Clermont, France, whose archaic nomenclature suggests a very early date of composition, c.700AD. In chapter five of the vita, a virgin named Meldoch speaks to King Graddalon about his seat in heaven being;

A place destined from him in the kingdom of god, close to Constantine, a king beyond the sea, the son of Peterni, of Cornwall

We gain a full account of this Constantine’s religious life & martyrdom in the 16th century Aberdeen Breviary, a great tome of a book which contains short lives of the saints upon their particular saint’s days. The March 11th entry for St Constantine confirms that his father was ‘Paterni Regis Cornubie,’ i.e. Paterni, the king of Cornwall, a perfect match to the Paterni of the Artognou Stone. According to Big Geoff, it was a Constantine who succeeded to the high kingship of Britain after the Battle of Camlann, when; ‘even the renowned King Arthur himself was wounded deadly, and was borne thence unto the island of Avalon for the healing of his wounds, where he gave up the crown of Britain unto his kinsman Constantine.’ If Constantine was Arthur’s ‘kinsman’ then surely his father, the Cornish Paterni, would also have been related to Arthur, which makes Paterni clearly ‘Artogenous!’ The evidence for Arthur’s existence has been there along, but it is only by peering through the kaleidoscopic lens of chispology can it be seen with any true clarity. As for the second name – Coliavi – it can be connected to the Arthurian Birth Certificate through the following babel-chain, where only a hyperthetical ‘Cleve’ has no record in the annals.

Coliavi
Cleve
Gleve
Glevesing
Glywysyg
Glyws
Gorlois 

We have already seen how Ambrosius was brought up in Glevesing, a name which philochisps into Glywys as given in the Life of Saint Cadog. Written shortly before 1086 by Lifris of Llancarfan, we read; ‘there reigned formerly on the borders of Britain, called Dimetia, a certain regulus, named Glywys, from whom all the country of that district, in all the days of his life, was called Glywysyg.’ The name Glywys is a clear philochisp of Big Geoff’s Gorlois, the husband of Igerne, tho’ in this instance Duke Gorlois is the son of Glywys, i.e. Peder son of Glois. Untangling such threads leads to the conclusion that Arthur was a half, or perhaps step-brother to Constantine, & that Ambrosius Aurelianus – as the adopted brother of Peder son of Glyws – was indeed Arthur’s uncle in a rather roundabout way quite reminiscent of the fractured family units of the 21st century. For example, my own half-sister’s children class as proper cousins my wife’s two daughters from her first marriage.

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Another direct connection between Peter & Arthur comes through a lineage of the Kings of Dyfed – i.e. South-West Wales in the Pembrokeshire region – a region which possesses a number of Arthurian references in folklore & topography.

Cincar
Petr
Arthur
Nougoy
Cathen
Catgocaun

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The last king given appears as the Goidelic ‘Votecorigas‘ the ‘Protector’ (the G/C & V are philochisps between Old Welsh & the Latin languages) on a 6th century memorial stone found in Dyfed itself. The name is given in the Ogham script of the Irish, but is also inscribed in tandem on the stone as the Latinized ‘Voteporigis.’ This man would then be Vortipori, one of five British kings admonished by Gildas in the De Excidio. The ‘tyrant‘ of Dyfed, Gildas writes an open letter to him stating, ‘though the end of life is gradually drawing near… to crown all thy sins, dost thou, when thine own wife had been removed and her death had been virtuous, by the violation of a shameless daughter.’

We have seen already how the mother of Arthur’s step uncle, Ambrosius Aurelianus, was a princess of Dyfed. Another Arthurian connection to the region can be found in the vita of Saint Padarn (480-550), whose monastery was at Aberystwyth, we are told; ‘when Padarn was in his church resting after so much labour at sea, a certain tyrant, Arthur by name, was traversing the regions on either side, who one day came to the cell of saint Padarn the bishop.’  That Arthur became a ruler of this lovely corner of the island, known as Menevia in the Dark Ages, is also recorded in a medieval Welsh text known as the Triads of the Island of Britain. This collection of brief triplets contains an enormous amount of historical details, including a great many nods to Arthuriana, which are still being analyzed & harvested for their fruits. One of the most important of these triads depicts Arthur as ruling in three separate areas of the island; at Kelliwic in Cornwall; in Dyfed; & in a later-to-be-ascertained ‘Penrhionyd,’ somewhere in the north of Britain.

Three Tribal Thrones of the Island of Prydain

Arthur the Chief Lord at Menevia, and David the chief bishop, and Maelgwyn Gwyned the chief elder.

Arthur the chief lord at Kelliwic in Cornwall, and Bishop Betwini the chief bishop, and Caradawg Vreichvras the chief elder.

 Arthur the chief lord in Penrhionyd in the north, and Cyndeyrn Garthwys the chief bishop, and Gurthmwl Guledic the chief elderI

It seems the historical King Arthur is slowly, but surely, emerging from the mists. Some of the best evidence dwells deep within the pages of a single book given the rather mundane title of MS Harleian 3859 h. This lovely tome’s arrival into the public domain occurred in 1753, when the Duchess of Portland, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, sold her family library to the United Kingdom for £10,000. She was one of the Harleys, a family of book-loving antiquarians that had over the years collected more than 7,000 manuscripts, 14,000 charters and 500 rolls. Among this rich seam of literary jewels such is Harleian 3859h, a beautifully illuminated book that when it comes to deciphering the Matter of Britain is something of a Rosetta Stone; for it contains two of the oldest historical documents to mentions King Arthur. One of these, the Annales Cambrae, is stuffed full of brief & fascinating entries which record the most memorable moments in Dark-Age Welsh history, with a few non-Welsh happenings chucked in for good measure. I shall now present the most informative entries given for the 6th century, in which we see the historical King Arthur mentioned in two separate entries. Both of these place him at a battlefield; the first being Mount Badon (516) & the second in which he was slain at the fatal fight at Camlann (537).

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516: The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were the victors.

537: The battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell: and there was plague in Britain and Ireland.

547: The great mortality in which Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd died. Thus they say ‘The long sleep of Maelgwn in the court of Rhos’. Then was the yellow plague.

565: The voyage of Gildas to Ireland.

570: Gildas wisest of Britons died.

573: The battle of Arfderydd between the sons of Eliffer and Gwenddolau son of Ceidio; in which battle Gwenddolau fell; Merlin went mad.

580: Gwrgi and Peredur sons of Elifert died.

The Annales Cambrae terminates its entries towards the end of the tenth century, & we may assume that it was roundabout the year 1000 that the chronicle was originally assembled. Even older than this text, however, is the Historia Brittonum, in whose preface we read;

I, Nennius, a disciple of the holy Elbodugus have taken the trouble to write down some excerpts which the idleness of the people of Briton had caused to be throne aside… I, however, have made a heap of all that I have found, both of the annals of the Romans & of the chronicles of the holy fathers, & from the writings of the Irish & of the English & from the information handed down by the old men of our people.

This tells us that Nennius added nothing of his own research to the HB, which should be considered a 9th Century compendium of earlier writings, whose final notices are dated to the 7th century. As for Arthur, he turns up in only one place towards the end of the text (Chapter 56). This passage is our oldest officially recognised mention of our boy, who appears in a passage known to historians as the ‘Battle-List.’ Here, we encounter an Arthur who is not a king, but a Romanesque ‘Dux Bellorum,’ or battle-leader, who wins twelve military victories against the Saxon invaders of Britain. Once the Romans had abandoned the island, the notion of defence had devolved onto the tribal leaders once more, a fractious state of affairs which allowed the Saxons to gain major footholds in the east of Britain. Four centuries of life under the Roman yoke had had the most pernicious effect on the Brythonic character. Once a hardy & industrious race, the acquisition of Roman wealth had produced its natural effects; employing it in gratification of their appetites & in coarse, sensual pleasures. It is no wonder they were conquered so easily by a relative handful of Saxons, that grandly significant bouleversement of the British islands which would eventually create the nation we know as England, & from this the de facto lingua franca of the globe. Long before then, however,  Arthur would stem the tide during his lifetime. Alas, the names of Arthur’s battle-sites are shrouded in mystery, & it does not help matters when each of the numerous recensions of the Historia offers a slightly different version of the list. In order to simplify matters for the reader, I have synthesized them into a single account;

At that time, the Saxons grew strong by virtue of their large number and increased in power in Britain. Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent.

Then it was, that the magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons in those days, but Arthur himself was the Dux Bellorum. And though there were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their commander, and was as often conqueror.

His first battle was at the mouth of the river which is called Glein. His second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were above another river which is called Dubglas and is in the region of Linnuis. The sixth battle was above the river which is called Bassas. The seventh battle was in the forest of Celidon, which the Britons call Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth battle was near the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them. The ninth was at the City of Legion, which is called Cair Lion. The tenth battle was waged on the banks of a river which is called Tribruit. The eleventh battle was fought on the mountain which is called Agnet. The twelfth was a most severe contest, when Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; no one but the Lord affording him assistance. In all these engagements the Britons were successful. For no strength can avail against the will of the Almighty.

And while they were being defeated in all the battles, they were seeking assistance from Germany and their numbers were being augmented many times over without interruption. And they brought over kings from Germany that they might reign over them in Britain, right down to the time in which Ida reigned, who was son of Eobba. He was the first king in Bernicia, i.e., in Berneich.

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It was Arthur’s now legendary prowess with a weapon which earned him overall command of the native resistance armies. Victorious on a dozen battlefields, by the 12th century all of the locations were forgotten, with Henry of Huntingdon declaring, ‘in our times the places are unknown.’ For the chispologist, solving the Arthurian battle-list is one of the greatest challenges there is, but what we can glean from the Historia’s information is when Arthur was active. The passage gives us two concrete dates on which to fix the Arthurian period, for the Battle-List has been sandwiched between two events verifiable through an early English history known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;

 488: This year Esc succeeded to the kingdom; and was king of the men of Kent twenty-four winters.

Esc was the son of Hengist, the death of whom opens the Twelve Battles chapter in the HB, as in ‘Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent.’  Common sense tells us that Esc (a variant name for Ochta) would have inherited the throne upon the death of Hengist, anchoring the early book-end of the Arthurian era in 488.

547: Ida began his reign; from whom first arose the royal kindred of the Northumbrians. Ida was the son of Eoppa, Eoppa of Esa.’

We are here presented with a direct match to the Battle-List’s final sentences, as in; ‘they brought over kings from Germany that they might reign over them in Britain, right down to the time in which Ida reigned, who was son of Eobba.’ The succession of Ida forms the later book-end of the Arthurian period, which we can now assume took place between 488 & 547. The Annales Cambrae support these dates; by stating Arthur died at Camlann in 537 we narrow things by ten more years, resulting in a final timespan of 488-537.

36D6778800000578-3721915-Ryan_Smith_pictured_digging_the_Post_Roman_Wall_The_royals_who_l-a-7_1470304497547

This same half a century is almost a perfect match for certain shards of broken pottery, coins & glasswork found chiefly at Arthur’s birthplace. Known as Tintagelware, they are reliques of goods imported to Britain from the Byzantine Empire during the 5th & 6th centuries.  Only last year, archeologists unearthed 150 new pieces & also revealed  a series of metre thick ‘palace walls.’ The chief Brythonic export at that period would have been tin (the Greeks referred to Britain as the Cassiterides or tin-islands), while  in return oil & wine poured into the island, contained in the painted clay jars that would one day become the fractured pieces of Tintagelware. According to archeologist Rachael C Barrowman, there was only, ‘a comparatively brief importation from the Mediterranean lasting from c.AD 475-c.AD 550 at the most.’ Large quantities of Tintagelware has also been discovered at South Cadbury hillfort in Somerset, a site long associated with Arthurian tradition. A 16th century traveler & writer called John Leland recorded; ‘at the very south ende of the chirch of South-Cadbyri standith Camallate, sumtyme a famose toun or castelle, upon a very torre or hill, wunderfully enstrengtheid of nature, to the which be 2. enteringes up by very stepe way: one by north est and another by south west… The people can telle nothing ther but that they have hard say that Arture much restorid to Camalat.’ South Cadbury is an impressive hill fort in Somerset, a worthy Camelot indeed, & also the site of a grand timber feasting hall thrust up by some powerful leader round about the year 500 AD. The name has its origins in a certain Cador, whom the monk Lifris, in his ‘Life of Saint Carantoc,’ has ruling side-by-side with Arthur in the West Country; ‘in those times Cato and Arthur were reigning in that country, dwelling in Dindraithov.’ It is by no great leap of faith to include South Cadbury into a royal system established in the Arthurian period, where palaces & feasting halls were filled with, & placed upon, goods imported from the Mediterranean.

Badon_CadburyCastle02_full

There is one problem that must be overcome. The crux of the case of the Antiarthurians, as I like to call them, is the date given by the Annales Cambrae for the Battle of Badon (516) being plunged into all manners of disrepute by modern scholarship. This rather erroneous supposition begins by misunderstanding a passage in St Gildas, in which is mentioned the ‘siege of Badon Hill’ (obsessio montis Badonicus); ‘from that time on now the citizens, now the enemy, were victorious … right up until the year of the siege of Badon Hill, almost the last, not the least, slaughter of the villains, and this the forty-fourth year begins (as I know) with one month already elapsed, which is also that of my birth.’ This means quite simply that Badon was fought in the year in which Gildas was born, & 44 years before he set his pen to paper. If the the Annales Cambrae ar accurate, he would have written the above passage roundabout the year 560. This means that in that period, there should exist a certain king called Maglocune,  who is another of five British kings admonished by Gildas alongside Vortipor.

And likewise, O thou dragon of the island, who hast deprived many tyrants, as well of their kingdoms as of their lives, and though the last-mentioned in my writing, the first in mischief, exceeding many in power, and also in malice, more liberal than others in giving, more licentious in sinning, strong in arms, but stronger in working thine own soul’s destruction, Maglocune

gildas-1

The aforementioned modern scholarship had searched through the 6th century for a man who sounded like Maglocunus, & opted for the Annales Cambrae’s Maelwgyn, King of Gwynedd, who died in 547. To support their babel-chain, they completely ignored the evidence of the Annales Cambrae, & declared that Badon must have been at least fought 44 years earlier – i.e. before 503. Instead, let us retain complete trust in our ancient sources, & begin to look for a Maglocunos as described by Gildas, around the year 560. This date does rest well with what we know about Gildas. His 9th century vita, written by an anonymous Monk of Rhuys, shows how Ainmericus, the High King of Ireland between 565 & 569, asked Gildas to restore church order. This confirms the Annales Cambrae entries for Gildas;

 565: The voyage of Gildas to Ireland

570: Gildas wisest of Britons died.

The Rhuys life connects Gildas to the existence of a leader called Conomerus. At this point in the vita, Gildas is in Brittany where he; ‘at the request of brother monks who had come to him from Britain, ten years after he had departed from the country, wrote a short epistolary book, in which he reproved five of the kings of that island who had been ensnared by various crimes and sins. Now there lived in these days, in the upper parts of that country, a certain tyrant whose name was Conomerus, a man allured by a perverse credulity and a diabolical crime’ The death of Conomerus soon follows in the vita, which leads us to Count Conomor of Poher,  whom the French historian Gregory of Tours has dying about 560. Chispologically, the two names match, for Conomorus is a simple inversion of Maglocune, both of which translate as ‘Majestic Hound.’ There is also a very significant factual match, for both Conomerus & Maglocune are said to have committed what appears to be an identical crime. According to the ‘Life of St Samson of Dol,’ Conomerus killed his own wife & then murdered a certain King Jonas in order to marry Jonas’ widow – an exact sequence of events attributed to Maglocune by Gildas;

For contempt is thrown upon thy first marriage, though after thy violated vow as a monk it was illicit, yet was to be assumed as the marriage of thine own proper wife; another marriage is sought after, not with anybody’s widow, but with the beloved wife of a living man; and he not a stranger, but thy brother’s son. On this account, that stiff neck, already weighted with many burdens of sins (to wit, a double daring murder, the killing of the husband above named, and the wife that was for a time regarded by thee as thine), is bent down through the extreme excess of thy sacrilegious deed, from lowest crimes to still lower.

king-mark-cornwall

As for the Gildasian description of Maglocunos being the ‘dragon of the island, who hast deprived many tyrants, as well of their kingdoms as of their lives,’ Brittany is definitely not an island, & we must assume that the British mainland is intended. Not unsurprisingly, another text places Conomerus across the English Channel at Cornwall, where the Breton monk Wromnoc describes a certain King Mark of Cornwall, otherwise known as ‘Quonomorius,’ who ruled over peoples speaking four different languages. These would be;

Gallo : The Latinized language of Brittany spoken in the sixth century. Big Geoff called Conomerus ‘Chinmarchocus,’ & had him ruling Treguier, near Lannion. In the vicinity stands an Dark Age hill-fort called Ruvarq, which translates into English as ‘Mark’s Hill.’

Brythonic : A Celtic language spoken by the native Britons of Cornwall. According to the vita of Samson of Dol, Conomerus was a usurper in Brittany, an ‘external judge,’ after whose defeat & death a certain Iudalus took over his lands in Dumnonia. This old Brythonic kingdom covered the modern West Country counties of Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire & Somerset. Also important is a 6th century memorial stone found at Fowey in Cornwall, near Castle Dore, said to be the fortress of King Mark. In a medieval Arthurian text known as the Prose Tristan, Castle Dore is said to be sited on the lands of Lancien, which transchispers into the medieval manor of Lantyan on which the stone was found. On it is inscribed ‘Drustanus son of Conomori,’ a relationship confirmed by the Triads of the Island of Britain, which consider a ‘Drystan son of March’ as one of the ‘Three Peers of Arthur’s Court.’ The name Drustan is actually Pictish, ie the Dark Age tribe which dwelt in Scotland,  which leads us to Mark’s next language.

Pictish : Maglocunus easily philochisps into Mailchon, or Máelchú, the father of the great Pictish King Bridei as given in the chronicles. Mailcon’s powerful status in the north is reflected through his daughter Domlech’s marriage to Aedan, King of Dalriada, whose son became a Pictish king. There are also Pictish symbol stones found at Trusty’s Hill in Dumfries & Galloway, whose origin could be from the same Drustanus of the Fowey stone, for only a few miles away stands a Dark-Age hillfort called The Mote of Mark.

Old Norwegian : The Dream of Rhonabwy tells us that Prince Mark led a group of men from Llychlyn – i.e. Scandinavia – at the Battle of Badon, turning up as; ‘the men of Norway, led by March, son of Meirchyawn.’ Big Geoff also places him among the Nordic lands (& Ireland) with; ‘Malgo, one of the comeliest men in the whole of Britain, the driver-out of many tyrants, redoubted in arms, more bountiful than others and renowned for prowess beyond compare, yet hateful in the sight of God for his secret vices. He obtained the sovereignty of the whole island, and after many exceeding deadly battles did add unto his dominions the six neighbour islands of the Ocean, to wit, Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway and Denmark.

The conquest of these widely scattered regions confirms the Gildasian descripton of Maglocune as being the ‘dragon of the island,’ who dispossessed ‘tyrants’ of their kingdoms. This combined evidence suggests that Maglocunus was never Maelgwyn Gwynned, but was instead the famous King Mark of Cornwall. Otherwise known as Conomerus, he would have ruled a pan-ocean empire from Norway to Brittany. All this correlates sweetly  with one of the medieval Welsh Triads which state that ‘March ap Meirchiawn’ was one of the ‘three seafarers of the island of Britain.’ With that, the case for Arthur’s existence should be closed, & all it took was to create a hyperchisp – a hypothetical chisper – that turned ‘Artognou’ into ‘Artogenous,’ to set the ball rolling, since which occasion all the evidence has slotted into place as easy as leaves grow on a tree.

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Next Wednesday, 13/12/17

Chapter 7

Dux Pictorum

The Chisper Effect 5 : Asvaghosha

Continuing the weekly serialization ofchisper_effect

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

THE CHISPER EFFECT

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

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Chapter V

In the previous chapter of The Chisper Effect I began a research trip to India, searching for a different Jesus to the one presented in the Gospels. My journey took me to Hemis monastery in Ladakh, where mysterious ancient texts told the story of Jesus’ studies in India, some of which content correlates to the writings of an ancient Indian poet called Ashu Ghosha. This gives us the vital, factual support to create the following babel chain.

Ashu
Asha
Isha
Issa

Between Ashu & Issa (pronounced Isha in Sanskrit) we see ‘Asha,’ a name which connects to Jesus thro’ a second century text known as the First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ,’ an alternative to those found in the New Testament. Said to have been written by Caiaphas, one of the Jewish leaders involved in the trial of Jesus, the First Gospel is a fascinating storehouse of apocryphal information about Jesus, including a great deal of his boyhood in Egypt. The text contains a crucial piece of information;

And it came to pass, when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem, a city of Judea in the time of Herod the King; the wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, according to the prophecy of Zoradascht, and brought with them offerings: namely, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and worshipped him, and offered to him their gifts

The name Zoradascht is a wee philochisp of Zoroastra, a mysterious Persian ascetic of the 2nd millennium BC. Among his writings are the Gathas, seventeen sacred devotional hymns in which a certain ‘Asha’ is proclaimed the ‘Genius’ of ‘Truth and Righteousness.‘ In one of the Gathas, Zoroastra proclaims, ‘may Asha attain a body,‘ suggesting this was the very ‘prophecy of Zoradascht’ which led the ‘Wise Men’ to Bethlehem where they found the infant Jesus, the very personification of divinity.

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Ashu Ghosha is more commonly known as Asvaghosha, whose philochisp seems influenced by the word ‘Ashavan,‘ which means ‘possessor of Asha.‘ His date can be calculated through ancient Chinese and Tibetan documents (Fu tsou t‘ung chi 2 / Fo tsu li tai tung tsai 1). Anchored on the Buddha’s enlightenment, the ‘Parinirvana,’ of c.530 BC, they state that 600 years passed between the Nirvana and Açvaghosha, giving us a date of c.AD 70. The same six centuries are also used by the Mahâmâyâsûtra, which says; ‘When six hundred years [after Buddha’s death] are expired, ninety different schools of the tîrthakas will arise and proclaiming false doctrines, each will struggle against the other to destroy the law of Buddha. Then a Bhikshu, Açvaghosha by name, will in an excellent manner teach the essence of the Dharma and defeat all the followers of the tîrthakas.’

Little is known about Asvaghosha the man. His life story contains only a smattering of biographical material that has been left to posterity through scattered Tibetan and Chinese traditions. Of these, the most detailed is a biography translated into Chinese by Kumaragiva. We may observe in this text a wandering ascetic able to defeat all comers in theological debate; all, that is, except an elderly Bhikshu named Parsva. Following a competitive debate in front of monarchs, ministers & ascetics, Parsva emerged triumphant & Asvaghosha consented to become his disciple. In this, & every other account of Asvaghosha, his birthplace and parentage differ widely, flung across India from top to tail, a confusing collection which leads one to think that his true origins were actually unknown. The problem has been analyzed in great detail by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki (1870–1966), the great Japanese scholar of all things Buddhist, who states, ‘as a youth, when thoroughly familiar with every department of knowledge, he went to Odiviça, Gaura, Tîrahuti, Kâmarûpa, and some other places, defeating everywhere his Buddhist opponents by his ingenious logic. All these places are situated in Eastern India, and among the Chinese traditions the Record of the Triratna (Li tai san pao chi) as well as the Accounts of Buddha and the Patriarchs (Fo tsu tung chi) agree with Târanâtha in placing Açvaghosha’s native land in the East; but the Life of Vasubandhu makes Açvaghosha a native of Bhâshita, while in Nâgârjuna’s work, the Mahâyânaçâstravyâkhyâ (Shih mo ho yen lun), he is mentioned as having been born in Western India… The Record of Buddha and the Patriarchs Under Successive Dynasties (Fo tsu li tai t‘ung tsai) agrees with neither of the above statements, for it says (fasciculus 5): “The twelfth patriarch, Açvaghosha Mahâsattva was a native of Vârânasî.” A further contradicting tradition is pointed out by Prof. S. Murakami in one of his articles on the history of Buddhism, quoting the Shittanzô (fas. 1), which makes Açvaghosha a man of South India… A few more details about Asvaghosha can be obtained from oriental sources, but only serve to confuse the real man.’ All the confusion about Asvaghosha’s origins imply he may have born outwith India, offering  convoluted support for his being the Judea-born Jesus. Indeed, many of the cities mentioned by Suzuki as being the native home of Asvaghosha, such as Varanasi (Benares), are in precisely the same regions of India in which Notovich places Issa during his academic sojurn through India, who was also, ‘defeating everywhere his Buddhist opponents by his ingenious logic.’  

One story, found in the ancient Buddhist text ‘The Transmission of the Dharmapitaka,’ relates how he, ‘went to Pâtaliputra for his propaganda-tour,’ where he ‘composed an excellent tune called Lai cha huo lo, that he might by this means convert the people of the city. Its melody was classical, mournful, and melodious, inducing the audience to ponder on the misery, emptiness, and non-âtman-ness of life. That is to say, the music roused in the mind of the hearer the thought that all aggregates are visionary and subject to transformation.’ Through this tale we can see how Asvaghosha was one of the earliest poet-saints of India, creative spirits described by the twentieth century scholar M Suryanarayana as, ‘the flowering of divinity in man through the medium of music and poetry.‘ The power of the poet-saint to inspire the Indian mind may be perfectly seen in recent centuries, when the wonderful faith of the Sikhs evolved from the hymns of Guru Nanak. As we shall go on to discover, Asvaghosha possessed so much of that ‘flowering of divinity in man’ that he would inspire faiths & religions all across the ancient world.

With the ‘Ghosha’ epithet meaning ‘speech,’ the author of the Budhhacarita & the Vajra Sucha possesses a fully-translated name of ‘Speech of Ashu/Ashva.’ This helps us understand the real meaning of an obscure passage in the Book of Revelations. Written sometime in the late 1st century by an unidentified ‘John,’ we encounter the messiah figure whose ‘name is called The Word of God.’ 

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.   Revelations 19: 11-16

As a poet of the most prodigious output, Asvaghosha made reputable forays into hymns, epic poetry and even drama. Of the ‘two larger Bauddha works of high repute’ mentioned by BH Hodgson, one would be the famous ‘Buddhacarita,’ a long and beautiful poetical biography of the Buddha. We encounter within it a Virgin Birth story extremely similar to the Christian Nativity, & that the Buddha’s mother appears as a certain Queen ‘Maya’ reinforces the connection to Jesus’ mother Mary. The very valid question we may start to ask at this point is, ‘did the author of the Gospels read the Buddhacarita or, of course, vice versa?’ A connection was suggested by the eminent nineteenth century Orientalist, Samuel Beal;

Having translated the Buddhacarita throughout, and also the greater portion of Asvaghosha’s sermons, I am impressed with the conviction that Christian teaching had reached his ears… the doctrine of a universal salvation, and of Buddha’s incarnation by the descent of the Spirit, and by a power of Bodhui, or wisdom, by which we are made sons or disciples – these and other non-Buddhist ideas found in Asvaghosha’s writings, convince me that there was such an intercommunication at this time between East and West as shaped the later school of Buddhism into a pseudo-Christian form; and this accounts very much for some other inexplicable similarities

Christian motifs are also contained in a branch of Buddhism personally founded by Asvaghosha. Called the Mahayana, or ‘Greater Vehicle,’ its outstanding text, ‘Treatise for Awakening Faith’, was composed by Asvaghosha. A Christian link to the treatise was discerned by Samuel Beal, who observed; ‘there is one book, the K‘i-sin-lun, or ‘Treatise for Awakening Faith,’ which has never yet been properly examined, but, so far as is known, is based on doctrines foreign to Buddhism and allied to a perverted form of Christian dogma… The differentiation of enlightenment into two distinct qualities, wisdom and action, or, according to the terminology of later Mahâyânists, wisdom and love, constitutes one of the principal thoughts of the Mahâyâna Buddhism and shows a striking similarity to the Christian conception of God who is considered to be full of infinite love and wisdom.’ Another concise connection between the Mahayana and Christianity can be found in the Gospel of Luke’s Parable of the Prodigal Son, which uncannily matches a story found in a key Mahayanan text known as the Lotus Sutra.

8 - in discussion

The evidence is accumulating for Asvaghosha being an Indian ‘avatar’ of Jesus Christ. The word means incarnation, & just as there are numerous representations of the Hindu god Vishnu, there appears equally to be several Jesus avatars. One of these was a certain Ishvarakrishna, & during my residence in Leh I mooted my embryonic theory to certain scholars at the Central Institute for Buddhist Studies. One particular morning we were sat outside in the sunshine, a small gaggle of pupils observing our conversations, as I explained to the scholars the crux of my thoughts; not only did Jesus Christ survive the Crucifixion, not only did he travel to India, but during his time on the Subcontinent he would also compose seminal texts which would form the fundamental pillars of both Krishnaism and Mahayana Buddhism.  In this spirit I asked the scholars about the possibility of a certain Asvaghosha being the same personage as Ishvarakrishna. The notion was promptly met with laughter of gentle condescension, and I was told rather bluntly that although the two men may have shared the same era, and written in the same style of Sanskrit, Asvaghosha was a poet and Ishvarakrishna a philosopher. I replied with calm erudition, explaining that although Ishvarakrishna was considered to be a philosopher, he wrote his Samkhyakarika in verse, hence making him a poet.  My observation was met with Vedic silence, a profound moment of validation, for my new theory of Jesus-in-India had passed its first critical test.

Ever since Notovich set the ball rolling, the search for Jesus outside of Judea has been gathering momentum, with fresh evidence turning up all the time. A great deal of this research has been conducted by Professor Fida Hassnain.  He was well placed to do all this, being the one-time Director of Archives, Archaeology, Research and Museums for Kashmir; a job which provided him with intimate access to numerous obscure and ancient documents. He writes in his book, ‘A Search for the Historical Jesus;’

 I was ordered, in the 1960s, to proceed to Leh, the capital of the former kingdom of Ladakh, to examine the historical records and maps relevant to the border dispute between China and India. I had visited Ladakh earlier, and had established the first State Archive Repository there. But my new assignment led me to make many more journeys to the region, and during one such visit I came by chance upon a document relating to Jesus Christ. This was the event which aroused my curiosity and led me to embark on a quest for the historical Jesus

In the first of Hassnain’s books to explore the subject, The Fifth Gospel (1988), the professor quietly reflects upon the course of his personal quest, stating, ‘it took me many years to locate and examine oriental sources, in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Arabic, Persian and Urdu dealing, with the lost years of Jesus. The material was rich and, unlike much of the historical material to which the church had access, on the whole, untouched since ancient times. These ancient documents, recording as they did a little-known connection between Christianity and the East, were of immense fascination to me – each new discovery further fueling my passion for the quest.’ Hassnain’s fantastic work in the field has secured him a place as its leading exponent, and since his arrival on the world stage in the seventies, a series of interested parties have travelled to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, in order to discuss the Indian Jesus. The first was Andrea Faber Kaiser of Spain, and his wife Mercedes (1975), who were soon followed by two German authors, Helmet Goackel (1977) & Helger Kersten (1982). Each visitor was greeted warmly, and given free access to all the documents and information uncovered by the Professor. Hoping very much to be the next, I set off along the Ladakhi plateau on the ten-hour taxi ride to Srinagar, travelling the torturous and serpentine roads that lead to Kashmir’s gorgeous green vales in an airy, yet most solid jeep. As we headed west, I noted nothing much had really changed along the route since the Italian priest, Ippotito Desideri, recorded three centuries ago how, ‘the greater part of the road is along the flanks of the loftiest and most awful mountains and in which ordinarily there is not found sufficient space for one man to pass by another…. only the slightest carelessness with your feet would cause you inevitably to be precipitated down the slope and to be dashed in pieces in the torrent which runs below the two mountain.’

Ladakh Moonland

The journey was a wonderful passage through a landscape of such inspirational majesty it was as if the gods themselves had painted the scene.  Shorn of trees, Ladakh offers a lunar landscape to the erstwhile traveler who dares reach this northernmost part of India. Equally gorgeously on display are the aquamarine waters of the great River Indus, here in its infancy before it flows into Pakistan and down to the Arabian Sea. The proximity of Pakistan was made evident in the Kargil sector – named after a charming little town I passed through in a heartbeat – for here and there were scattered memorials and cemeteries erected by the Indian Army in remembrance to those who fought & died in the three-month War of 1998. As we left the district, the mountains were becoming jagged like porcupines, or gnarled like tree-stumps, or rising into white-haired grey beards like beautiful Himalayan druids ruling over all humanity. Crossing the regional border and dropping into Kashmir, my scenic elation turned to absolute toe-curling terror as I experienced the worst hour of my entire life thus far. Our jeep was descending down a road, or half-a road should I say, zig-zagging a mountain often a meter or so from the precipice, braving such treacherous corners that one false move would see a vehicle and its occupants tumbling hundreds of meters to their inevitable dooms. In the great tradition of Buddhism I felt several lives flash by as our driver overtook on sharp bends, and at one point my nerve broke. The mentalist had just parked up at the edge of the road to let a convoy of trucks pass us and I just had to get out and walk down the road to a safer spot!

After minutes that seemed like hours we eventually dropped to a less dangerous height, and I had reached the famous vale of Kashmir. It was the end of the harvest season, where the paddy fields are shorn of rice and have browned in the summer sun. Two months previously, I was told, all was lushly green, and surely contained the magical quality that makes the Vale of Kashmir so special. On reaching its capital, Srinagar, I encountered an Indian city quite different from those of the plains. Despite its million inhabitants, in Indian terms Srinigar is less busy, much cleaner, and in certain places has quite the European feel. Flat roofs are few and far between, with most houses thrusting up steep sheets of metal to let the rains flow freely to earth. On my first night I bore witness to a great Kashmiri storm, which exploded in violent fury and raged for half an hour or so of torrential rain and booming thunder, after which it disappeared, leaving a cool freshness which blew away the mists that had been all prevailing all afternoon. In the distance I could see the Himalayas again, stepping out of the haze like handsome young soldiers going out on gallant parade.

Photo0504For accommodation during my stay in Srinigar I took a house-boat on the city’s delectably serene Dal Lake. A village on water, one must travel to and from the ‘mainland’ upon the oar-drawn shakaras, a watery oasis of calm far away from the sheer incessancy of India. I spent many a pleasant moment observing the activities of a family dwelling a few meters across the water from my residence. They lived on the lake not for tourism, but for life, their half-carved shakara testament to a world that passed its existence amid such gentle settings.  The lake waters were so still, they acted as the most clearest of mirrors to those colorful boats, doubling the beauty with an all-surrounding sense of the picturesque. Also reflected upside-down in the waters was the pyramid-like peak of the sensational & evocative Zabarwan Mountain, at whose summit sits an ancient temple venerated by three faiths: to the Saivites it is Shankaracharya, to the Muslims it is the Throne of Solomon, and to the Buddhists it is known as the Jyesteshwara temple.

47 - the shrine of yuz asaf

On my very first morning in Srinagar, I decided to take a look at the tomb of Yuz Asaf. His body has long been said to be entombed in a fairly innocuous, square shrine in the Rozabal district of Srinagar. In the Bagh-i-Sulaiman by Mir Saad Shahabadi (1780 AD) we read of the tomb, ‘legends say that there was a prince, most accomplished, pious & great, who received the Kingdom of God. He was so faithful to the Lord. That he was raised to the status of the Prophet. Through His grace he became the guide, to the people of the Valley. Here lies the sepulchre of that prophet, who is known as Yuz Asaph.’ That Jesus came to such a place as mountainous, fertile Kashmir is asserted by the Qu’ran (23:51) which states as fact, ‘we made the son of Mary and his mother a Sign, and gave them shelter on an elevated land of green valleys and springs of running water.’ That Mary once resided in this region can be observed in the small Pakistani town of Murree, a few miles along the mountain passes from Kashmir. Within this charming idyll, an old tomb is aligned in the east-west Christian fashion called Mai Mari da Asthan, or the ‘Final resting place of Mary.’

On surviving the Crucifixion, there is a great deal of documentary evidence which shows Jesus returning to India. An approximate date for his arrival in Kashmir may be identified in a passage by the 15th century Persian scholar, Mulla Nadiri, who describes inscriptions etched into the stonework of the Throne of Solomon.

During this time Hazrat Yuz Asaf having come from the Holy Land to this holy valley proclaimed his prophethood. He devoted himself, day and night, in prayers to God, and having attained the heights of piety and virtue, he declared himself to be a Messenger of God for the people of Kashmir… It was because of this Prophet’s orders that Sulaiman, whom Hindus called Sandeman, completed the repairs of the dome. Year Fifty and four. Further, on one of the stones of the flankwalls encasing the stairs he inscribed: In these times Yuz Asaf proclaimed his prophethood and on the other stone of the stairs he also inscribed that he Yuz Asaf was Yusu, Prophet of Children of Israel

Professor Hassnain correlates the year ‘fifty and four’ to the Christian era’s 78 AD, which fits well with the idea of Jesus returning to India after his ministry in Palestine. Reaching Kashmir, he would die here & be buried at Rozabal. On arriving at the shrine myself, I found it painted green and white; the colours of Islam. Muslims are by far the majority throughout Srinagar, and they have added a great sign at the front of the shrine on which is found a quote from the Qu’ran; ‘that they said (in boast), ‘We killed Jesus Christ the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,’ but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. (4:157-158).’

Rozabal-4

After a couple of young Australian backpackers pocketed a few small chunks of masonry in 2010, the shrine has been closed to visitors. Taking photographs is strictly forbidden, a matter which seriously irked the locals after I innocuously took a shot. “It is an international dispute,” I was told by a tall, bearded fellow urging me to put my camera away while another fellow tried to snatch it from my hands, ripping my shirt in the process. Apologizing in the most profuse of fashions I managed to diffuse the tinderbox, & a peaceful atmosphere broke out once more at the shrine. Through the incident I realized just how much religious sentiment still divides humanity to this day, and wondered what the true Jesus would think about followers of divinity separated only by the ‘name’ of their god, squabbling over his mortal remains.

We must now make a small examination of a certain king Kansihka, who convened what is known as the 4th Buddhist Council. He was very much a new Asokha, being both peace-loving advocate of Buddhism and powerful conqueror, whose Kushana Empire was spread out across great swathes of land through the modern regions of north India, eastern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. We can date the council to the Age of Jesus through an account contained in the Blue Annals, which records the attendance of ‘five hundred argats headed by Arya Parsva.’ This man is the very Bhiksu who taught Buddhism to Asvaghosha, & the Parsva-Asvaghosha-Kanishka historical triangle is completed by a recorded interaction between Kanishka and Asvaghosha;

The king of Tukhâra was very powerful. He was called Candana Kanishtha. Being very ambitious and bold, and far superior in courage to all his contemporaries, every country he invaded was sure to be trampled down under his feet. So when he advanced his four armies towards Pâaliputra, the latter was doomed to defeat in spite of some desperate engagements. The king demanded an indemnity of 900,000,000 gold pieces, for which the defeated king offered Açvaghosha, the Buddha-bowl and a compassionate fowl, each being considered worth 300,000,000 gold pieces. The Bodhisattva Açvaghosha had intellectual powers inferior to none; the Buddha-bowl having been carried by the Tathâgata himself is full of merits; the fowl being of compassionate nature, would not drink any water with worms in it,–thus all these having merits enough to keep off all enemies, they are on that account worth 900,000,000 gold pieces. The king of Tukhâra was greatly pleased at receiving them, and immediately withdrawing his army from the land went back to his own kingdom. The Fu fa tsang yin yüan ch‘uan

The chief object of the Fourth Council was to set in stone the tenets of the Mahayana, of which Alice Getty writes; ‘ended in schism between the Buddhists of the south (Ceylon) and those of the north (India)… While the Sri Lankan Buddhist clung on to the canon of the south (Hinayana)…. the Mahayana recognized the existence of a supreme god (Adi-buddha).’ Adda, or ‘father’ in Aramaic, is the name used by Jesus for God throughout the Gospels, while the notion of the Adi-buddha is contained in the earliest texts of the Mahayana, which can be dated to roundabout the time of the Fourth Buddhist Council, when Tarantha tells us, ‘some of the Mahayana scriptures reached the human world.‘ Suzuki adds, ‘while we are still in the dark as to how Mahayana Buddhism developed in India, we know that when it was introduced into China by the missionaries from India and central Asia, it was already regarded as directly coming from the Buddha’s own golden mouth, and that what must have developed during several hundred years after his death was taken in a wholesale manner for a system fully matured in his life-time extending over a period of about half a century after his Enlightenment. As the sutras were translated into Chinese, the first of which appeared in 68 a. d, they profoundly stirred the Chinese and then the Japanese mind awakening their religious consciousness to its very depths.’  One really does get the feeling here that Jesus-Asvaghosha was an active force in the creation of Mahayana Buddhism, was present at the Fourth Buddhist Council, and was the driving force behind the introduction of a supreme god into Buddhism.

I was now fully charged up by the enticing chance of meeting Professor Hassnain. Obtaining his private address from a smart looking fellow in the street, one short rickshaw ride later was in the Parray Pura district of Srinagar, knocking on the gate of a pleasant and large detached house. To my joy, Professor Hassnain came out, and I was amazed to see how sprightly he was on his feet given that he had passed his ninetieth year. We passed an amiable hour in his garden discussing ideas and sharing theories, and I happily told the Professor how much I respected his work. On one occasion during our spot of Socratic dialogue, this 21st century saddhu spoke with much excitement of his suspicions as to Jesus having met Mary Magdelane while they were both students in the ancient Indian kingdom of Magadha, with her name originally being Mary of Magadha. This idea definitely has some merit, for the ‘Life of Issa’ describes how Jesus studied in Radjagriha, the capital of the Magadha kingdom. The conversion of Magadha to Magdalene would be another example of the Chisper Effect in action, and propelled me to show the professor my own ideas as to who the Indian Jesus really was. Asking for a pen and paper, while I sketched out a brief outline of my own contributions to the theory, the Professor’s eyes lit up with youthful excitement. This was a moment of sheer pride, for I had travelled many miles to show him my work, which was built, of course, upon his own fifty years of study, and to receive such encouragement from the master in the field was a perfect reward.

13 - proffessor hassnain

After a lifetime of studying the subject of Jesus in India, Fida Hassnain had published his magnum opus only the previous year, and he presented me with a copy to take away. The book is called ‘Jesus in Kashmir,’ and his aim in publishing it was, ‘to give further impetus to researches on the hidden life of Jesus Christ.‘  One of the most important pieces of evidence contained in the book is a passage known as the ‘Bhavisya Suta.’ It had been discovered written upon birch-bark papyrus in the possession of the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir, a translation of which was published under the orders of H.H. Maharaja Sir Partap Singh of Kashmir in 1910. Hassnain describes how he discovered the text; ‘my research assistant, Pandit Dinanath Yachh, showed me the Bhavishya Mahapurana, a rare Sanskrit work compiled by Suta in about 115AD. It was evident that the Bhavishya Mahapurana had been compiled by a votary of Hindusim much before the advent of Islam and its author had no knowledge of Christianity even.’ The Bhavisya Suta reveals a number of tallies between Ishavara-Putaram, the self-styled ‘Son of God’ & the Christian Jesus. Most conspicuously, Ishavara declares himself as ‘born of a Virgin,’ while the term ‘Masiha’ is an obvious deviation of the Greek Messiah. The sighting occurs in a region of the Himalayas known as the ‘Huna Country,’ an ancient kingdom known as Hunadesh straddling the modern-day borders of Nepal, Tibet and India. The events of the passage took place during the reign of King Shalivahana, which Hassnain explained spanned the years 39-50 AD. Chronologically, and crucially, this places Jesus in India after the Crucifixion.

Once upon a time the subduer of the Sakas went towards Himatunga and in the middle of the Huna country the powerful king saw an auspicious man who was living on a mountain. The man’s complexion was golden and his clothes were white.

“The king asked, ‘Who are you sir?’

‘You should know that I am Ishavara Puturam, the Son of God’, he replied blissfully, and am born of a virgin. I am the expounder of the religion of the mlecchas and I strictly adhere to the Absolute Truth.’

Hearing this the king enquired, ‘What are the religious principles according to your opinion?

Hearing this questions of Shalivahana, Isha putra said, ‘O king, I hail from a land far away. When the destruction of the truth occurred, –I, Masiha the prophet, came to this country of degraded people where there are no rules and regulations. Finding that fearful irreligious condition of the barbarians spreading from Mleccha-Desha, I have taken to prophethood.

Please hear, Oh king, which religious principles I have established among the mlecchas. The living entity is subject to good and bad contaminations. The mind should be purified by taking recourse of proper conduct and performance of japa. By chanting the holy names one attains the highest purity. Just as the immovable sun at-tracts, from all directions, the elements of all living beings, the Lord of the Surya Mandala who is fixed and all-attractive, and attracts the hearts of all living creatures. Thus by following rules, speaking truthful words, by mental harmony and by meditation, Oh descendant of Manu, one should worship that immovable Lord’.”

“Having placed the eternally pure and auspicious form of the Supreme Lord in my heart, O protector of the earth planet, I preached these principles through the mlecchas’ own faith and thus my name became ‘isa-masiha’.”

There has been a long running debate as to the identification of the Kashmiris as one of the lost tribes of Israel. From Hebrew topography to the semitic physiognomy, & of course the Throne of Solomon, there are enough Judaic traces to support Yuz Asaf preaching to the Jews of Kashmir, ‘through the mlecchas’ own faith.’

In the Indian annals, there is another man who shares the name Ishavara; an ancient poet known as Ishvarakrishna. He is remembered only for creating a single poem known as the Samkhyakarika, which was, as the text tells us, ‘compendiously set down in the arya metre by the noble-minded and devout Ishvarakrishna, who thoroughly comprehended the established doctrine.’  The dates for Ishvarakrishna are unknown, but he must have lived before the sixth century AD, when a Buddhist scholar named Paramartha translated the Samkhyakarika into Chinese. We possess little else information: a 9th century commentary on the Samkhyakarika, the Jayamangala, describes him as an ‘itinerant monk;’ while a Vedic background is implied by the Samkyakarika’s ‘such is creation from Brahma down to a blade of grass.’ So far so good, for both these slender clues can be confidently connected to Asvaghosha, who we have seen was a student of the Vedas & who describes himself in his own Saundaranda text as a ‘mendicant and teacher,’ an excellent match to the Jayamangala’s ‘itinerant monk.’ We must also observe here that in the Buddhist text Tarantha, the father of Asvaghosha was given as a Brahman called Samghaguhya.

Samghaguhya
Samkhyaguhya
Samkyakarhya
Samkhyakarika

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Analyzing the contents of the Samkhyakarika, I have discovered a very tangible link to the Buddhacarita of Asvaghosha through the ancient philosophy known as the Samkhya, which was brought by Ishvarakrishna to its classical perfection. HT Colebrooke writes; ‘it cannot be denied that the Samkhya is the most interesting, if not the greatest, of the six orthodox systems of Hindu speculation and the sixty-nine memorial verses of Ishvara Krishna… though undoubtedly representing a late period in its development, portray more exactly than any other work the true teachings of the school.’ If the Samkhyakarika represents a ‘late period’ in the development of the Samkyha, there must have been an earlier version of the system, a proto-samkhya if you will. This leads us to the twelfth book of the Buddhacarita, in which a primitive version of the Samkhya can be found. When GJ Larson tells us, ‘any attempt to comprehend the development of Samkhya must take Asvaghosa’s treatment seriously,’ we can sense how the poetical ‘Jesus’ first wrote, as Asvaghosha, the Buddhacarita. Composing his Samkhyakarika in later life, by this time his name had transchispered into Ishvarakrishna.

The ‘Krishna’ element extant within the Ishvarakrishna etymology leads us to one of the greatest gods of the Hindu pantheon; that blue-skinned deity and star-turn of the great parabolic poem known as the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God). The Gita has the honour of being the first Sanskrit text to be translated into English, by the very erudite Charles Wilkins in 1784. It has since been translated into hundreds of languages across the world, a most beloved text whose timelessness shall ever reverberate through the aeons. The poem is an episode in the Indian epic poem, the Mahabharata, & is set is the field of Kurukshetra in the moments before the outbreak of an epic battle between the Pandavas and the Kuru, with both armies facing each other across the field. Krishna is in deep philosophical discussion with a young Prince by the name of Arjuna, a situation reminiscent of a scene in the Buddhacarita, where the Buddha philosophizes with a young prince in a rather similar chariot.

When the twentieth century orientalist & professor of Sanskrit EH Johnstone wrote; ‘the account of Buddhacarita is closer to the doctrines of the Moksadharma and the Gita,’ he recognized that chapter two of the Gita contained the same proto-samkhya of the Buddhacarita. By 1918, the highly insightful comparative theologist Holden Edward Sampson managed to penetrate the poem’s symbolism, explaining how the Gita is actually an allegorical exposition of the Samkhya, writing; ‘Arjuna is the soul, Krishna is the eternal and divine ego who drives the chariot/body which carries the soul, while the three qualities that propel the body; sattva (light) rajas (desire) and tamas (indifference) desire, are in the Gita represented as three horses.’

14 - arjunas chariot (1)

The next step on the chispological pathway of instinctual assumption is to presume that Asvaghosha/Ishavara had some part to play in the composition of the Gita. Indeed, ‘a supplementary point to be noticed in Açvaghosha,’ suggests Beal, ‘is the abundance of similar thoughts and passages with those in the Bhagavadgîta.’ Where the Gita contains elements from both Vedic scripture and early Buddhism (fitting neatly with Asvaghosha’s background), it shares similar syntax, grammar and vocabulary with Asvaghosha’s Sanskrit. The same poet is also celebrated for writing a play known as the Sariputrapakirana (Legend of the Disciple Sariputra), which uses allegorical figures to instruct the audience on morality. This is just the model on which the Gita is built, and it is possible that the dialogue-based Bhagavad Gita would have been a didactic play in its original form. The next station we must come to as we ride the thought-train of supposition is that after composing the Gita, Asvaghosha was then given the ‘Krishna’ epithet. Thus, in later years, & under the name of Ishvara Krishna, he would go on to compose the Samkhyakarika.

Krishna is a Sanskrit word, which translates into Greek as Christos. It is no great effort to see the name Isha-Krishna transchispered by the writers of the Gospels into Jesus Christ. The teachings of the Gita’s Krishna are much the same as those of Jesus; as in their spirit of complete renunciation and their mutual focus on love and compassion. Multiple other similarities between the Gita and Christian theology have been noticed by meditative thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi, who compared the experience of reading the Gita with that of Gospels.

The New Testament produced a different impression, especially the Sermon on the Mount which went straight to my heart. I compared it with the Gita. The verses, “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak too,’ delighted me beyond measure

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In the foreword to Sampson’s ‘The Bhagavad Gita Interpreted,’ a fellow student of Hindusim from the west, R.F. Hall, refers to the Gita’s, ‘exact synchronism with the mystery-religion taught by Jesus Christ.’ There are, of course, many parallels between Krishna’s sayings in the Gita and the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, including: 

Krishna: I am Beginning, Middle, End, Eternal Time, the Birth and the Death of all. I am the symbol A among the characters. I have created all things out of one portion of myself
Jesus: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.

Krishna: By love and loyalty he comes to know me as I really am, I love you well. Bear me in mind, love me and worship me so you will come to me, I promise you
truly for you are dear to me
Jesus: Anyone who loves me will be loved by my father and I shall love him and show myself to him

Krishna: Whenever, O Arjuna, righteousness declines and unrighteousness prevails, my body assumes human form and lives as a human being.
Jesus: If God were your Father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself but He sent me.

‘One of the most important contributions of the Bhagavad Gita to religious thought,’ writes H.E. Sampson, ‘is it’s teaching of the bodily dwelling of the divinity among men.’ Both Krishna and Jesus were deemed to be gods who had taken on a mortal guise, physical manifestations of the deity ‘sent’ to earth in order to save mankind through their respective teachings. This radical new concept in theosophy led to seismic revolutions in both Brahmanism and Judaism, and from the bedrock of these older belief systems two new and exciting religions would subsequently grow, whose followers were known by the extremely similar-sounding Krishnaites and Christians.

Can it only be coincidence that an ancient Vedic Sanskrit text, the Krishna Yajur Ved, which sings, ‘In the beginning was Prajapati, with Him was the Word, And the Word was truly the Supreme Brahman,’ has a complete tally with the opening of the Gospel of John. ‘The Divine poet,’ declared the excellent Indian literary savant, Rama Nair, is one who has experienced the reality of the word or Logos, and who enables others to see the Divine. He is one who reveals his own self-realisation so that others can transcend the limitations of their self. God is viewed as the Beloved showering His Grace of Divine love on his disciples. The Divine poet of the East is an avatara, or God in human form.’ The famous opening of the Gospel of John offers a similar idea, by saying, ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was with god, and the word was god….and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’

There now presides a distinct possibility that a pathway has been hacked through the thickets of distant history, along which may be found a glade of international theological harmony. Jesus Christ should in all reality be seen not only as a preacher in Palestine, but also a poet-saint in India. Fruitfully creochisped into Christian, Buddhist & Hindu traditions, such ebullient richness & untrammeled diversity in the world’s worship must be heartily praised. As uncompromising faith and deep devotion draws beautiful music, elegant dancing and vivid imagery from the souls of all peoples and all nations, it would be a dull congregation indeed if this planet of ours all sang entirely from the same hymn sheet.

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Next Wednesday, 06/12/17

Chapter 6

Dux Bellorum

The Chisper Effect 4 : The Jesus Jigsaw

chisper_effectContinuing the weekly serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

THE CHISPER EFFECT

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

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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.

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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.

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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.’ Another Persian scholar of the same period, Agha Mustafa, also noticed how the sayings & teachings of Hazrat Issa were more or less the same as those given in the Gospels. 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.

Iesus
Iarchus
Ayârcya
Yuzu
Yeshu
Ashu
Ashva
Ishvara
Isha
Issa
Isa
Is

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.’

Hemia

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 Ashu Ghosha. Before a copy was placed on my desk at the National Library of Scotland, this obscure Sanskrit treatise had been gathering academic dust for well over a century. The text was first translated into English by BH Hodgson, a polymathic civil servant of the British Empire who enjoyed studying the anthropological natures of Indian religions. His enlightened introduction, written in the early nineteenth century, reads:

A few days since my learned old Bauddha friend brought me a little tract in Sanscrit, with such an evident air of pride and pleasure, that I immediately asked him what it contained. “Oh, my friend!” was his reply, “I have long been trying to procure for you this work, in the assurance that you must highly approve the wit and wisdom contained in it; and, after many applications to the owner, I have at length obtained the loan of it for three or four days. But I cannot let you have it, nor even a copy of it, such being the conditions on which I procured you a sight of it.” These words of my old friend stimulated my curiosity, and with a few fair words I engaged the old gentleman to lend me and my pandit his aid in making a translation of it; a task which we accomplished within the limited period of my possession of the original, although my pandit (a Brahman of Benares) soon declined co-operation with us, full of indignation at the author and his work! Notwithstanding, however, the loss of the pandit’s aid, I think I may venture to say that the translation gives a fair representation of the matter of the original, and is not altogether without some traces of its manner.

It consists of a shrewd and argumentative attack, by a Bauddha, upon the Brahmanical doctrine of caste: and what adds to its pungency is, that throughout, the truth of the Brahmanical writings is assumed, and that the author’s proofs of the erroneousness of the doctrine of caste are all drawn from those writings. He possesses himself of the enemy’s battery, and turns their own guns against them The Bauddha Treatise commences in the sober manner of a title page to a book; but immediately after the author has announced himself with due pomp, he rushes “in medias res,” and to the end of his work maintains the animated style of vivâ voce disputation. Who ASHU GHOSHA, the author, was, when he flourished and where, I cannot ascertain. All that is known of him at Nepal is, that he was a Maha pandit, or great sage, and wrote, besides the little Treatise now translated, two larger Bauddha works of high repute.’

We can here observe how Ashu Ghosa’s, ‘shrewd and argumentative attack… upon the Brahmanical doctrine of caste,’ is a direct match to the anti-brahmanical, ‘discourse to the Sudras,’ as given in the Life of Issa. Ashu Ghosha’s statement that, ‘all men are of one caste,’ offers a direct tally to Issa’s declaration of there being ‘no difference’ between God’s children. The same humanity-loving universality preached by Issa & Ashu may also be seen in the New Testament’s depiction of Jesus, who is seen breaking Jewish taboos by dining with prostitutes and physically touching lepers. As far as our investigation goes, this is the key piece of the puzzle that opens up whole new prospects in the Jesus Jigsaw, for now we have a name, & his name is Ashu Ghosha.

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Next Wednesday, 29/11/17

Chapter 5

ASVAGHOSA 

The Chisper Effect 3 : The Ithica Frage

chisper_effectContinuing the weekly serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

THE CHISPER EFFECT

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

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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.

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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;

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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.

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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.’

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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 the entire realm of the Cephallanians. Zacynthos is still the name of the island furthest south of the Ionian archipelago, where archeology has unearthed a strong Mycynean presence – including Minoan finds – near the village of Vasiholes & Keri. Crocylea would be Corfu, whose Greek name Kerkyra seems the perfect philochisp, while ‘rugged Aegilips’ seems a perfect match for the modern-day Ithica, where excavations at Ayios Athanasios have unearthed a Mycynean palace. Ithica, I believe, is the region in the north-east of Cephallania, which included the modern-day island of Ithica. The real truth, one expects, lies in the extreme proximity of modern Ithica & Kephalonia, separted by a relatively narrow passage of water – & from several angles they do in fact seem a single mass of land. Finally, Neritum would be the area about Mount Ainos/Nera 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. This leads us to a passage in the Odyssey where a certain Menes describe the landing place of his vessel as being, ‘beside the fields away from the city, in the harbour of Rheithron, below wooded Neïon.’ According to the Homeric Ithica website;

The word ῥεῖθρον[i] rheithron (ῥέεθρον), used to describe the physical setting of the port of Homeric Ithaca, is derived from the verb ῥέω (to flow) and its other derivatives: ῥεῖθρα, ῥεῦμα, ποτάμια ῥεῖθρα (river bed), ῥύαξ, etc. So Homer indicates very clearly that the port of Homeric Ithaka was situated in a river bed.

The website states that a Mycynean harbour was found, ‘ in the bed of the River Vohynas at Poros, where, the ancient port of the Pronnaians was on the banks and in the bed of a river – the seasonal River Vohynas, which flows through the scenic Poros gorge and out into the eastern Ionian Sea – just like Ithaka’s ‘harbour of Rheithron’ as described by Homer.’ 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.

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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

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Phorcys

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.

 Another ‘eastern’ clue can be found in the following passage;

There is a rocky isle in the midst of the sea, midway between Ithaca and rugged Samos, Asteris, of no great size, but therein is a harbor where ships may lie, with an entrance on either side. There it was that the Achaeans tarried, lying in wait for Telemachus… Day by day watchmen sat upon the windy heights, watch ever following watch, and at set of sun we never spent a night upon the shore, but sailing over the deep in our swift ship we waited for the bright Dawn, lying in wait for Telemachus

 The island of Asteris would be today’s Atokos, an unspoiled paradise surrounded by tranquil turquoise waters. Near Atokos is another island, Arkoudi, which would be the ‘Prote’ of Pliny’s; ‘before Ithaca, lying out in the main sea, are Asteris and Prote.’ A huge mountainous rock, as Asteris/Atokos rises over 300m from sea level, its high craggy cliffs are a perfect fit for the ‘windy heights’ on which the Acheans set a look-out for the return of Telemachus. On the south side of the island there is also a natural harbour called Cliff Bay, ‘with an entrance on either side.’ Somewhere on the island we may one day find the remains of  a town called by Alalcomenae by Apollodorus. Adding together all the evidences, 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.

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sami

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.

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Sami

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. In the Odyssey, there is a scene which places Odysseus on a hill overlooking the harbour town; ‘I was now above the city, as I went on my way, where the hill of Hermes is, when I saw a swift ship putting into our harbor.’ The ‘Hill of Hermes’ should then be the soaring slopes to the west of the Citadel. Where Laertes farm has been found, the situation of the classical citadel perfectly opens up the bedroom vista of Telemachus, described as ‘a lofty chamber in the fine courtyard with a clear view every side.’ The name Ithica, I believe, was given to the main power centre of the Cephallonian realm, which spanned modern NE Cephallaonia & Ithica island, & was retrospectively reduced upon the modern island only in the 16th century. There is also one piece of evidence yet to find, which I hope to discover one day, the location of Raven’s Crag and at the Spring of Arethusa, which I believe may be found in the hills somewhere between Phorcys Cove & Sami.

And now for your part – the first man you must approach is the swineherd in charge of your pigs. His loyal heart is on your side as firmly as ever, and he loves your son and your wise queen Penelope. You will find him watching over his swines out at their pastures by the Raven’s Crag and at the Spring of Arethusa, where they find the right fodder to make them fat and healthy pigs, feeding on the acorns they love and drinking water from deep pools.

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Next Wednesday, 22/11/17

Chapter 4

ASVAGHOSA (part 1) 

The Chisper Effect 2 : Princess Scota

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Continuing the weekly serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

THE CHISPER EFFECT

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

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(Register with Completely Novel to…)

BUY A COPY OF THE BOOK HERE

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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.

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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:

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 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.”

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 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. Supporting evidence comes through the Chaldean religion of the Druids said to have arrived in Ireland with the Tuatha de Danaan. To both the Chaldeans & The Irish druids, Ba’al was the principle god, whose name transchispers into Bellus, the father of the Egyptian Danaus. It was Bellus who, according to Diodorus Siculus, once led a group of colonists; ‘to Babylon… and after establishing himself on the Euphrates river he appointed priests, called Chaldaeans by the Babylonians, who were exempt from taxation and free from every kind of service to the state, as are the priests of Egypt;  and they also make observations of the stars, following the example of the Egyptian priests, physicists, and astrologers.” 

The date of 1510 B.C. 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_ph2

 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.’

legypt_1

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.

Aphrodite
Naphrodite
Naphrobity
Neferubity

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.

6340f5f3dd99b75e957b17eb2516898e--ancient-egypt

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 promotion to the immortal pantheon ran in the family, for the wings of popular acclaim had also lifted to the highest halls of Heaven her grandfather, Amenhotep I. Her sister, Hatshepsut, also declared her personal divinity, with q wall relief at her mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri depicting her  being born of the god Amun. It was clearly an age of mortal deification, for 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 – & was also 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.’  The classical writer, Porphyry, claimed that Pythagoras once inscribed an epigram on Zeus’s tomb, reading ‘Zeus deceased here lies, whom men call Jove.’ That Zeus had been given a human burial was not a unique situation among ancient deities, for the graves of other gods such as Dionysis, Apollo, Poseidon, Isis & Osiris are mentioned elsewhere in classical literary sources. However, over time, the tomb’s location seems to have been lost. Varro placed it at Mount Ida while Lactantius, quoting from the Sacra Scriptio of Ennius, places the grave at Knossos (e). “Later Cretan tradition”, writes 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 Nonnus, Apate used to stay on mount Dikte “by the false tomb of Zeus.”  This was possibly confirmed as the true site in September 1415, when the clergyman Cristoforo Buondelmonti discovered a cave in the north of the mountain containing a great tomb, whose epitaph contained “letters totally effaced.”

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.

1539974-zeus_greek_mythology_687267_1024_768

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.

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Next Wednesday, 15/11/17

Chapter 3

THE ITHICA FRAGE

The Chisper Effect 1 : Chispology

chisper_effect

Beginning the weekly serialisation of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s

THE CHISPER EFFECT

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

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Chapter I : CHISPOLOGY

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.

The scattered shrapnel of sources which have survived to the modern day has 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.

Photo0357-1024x768

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 brickwork 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.

chinese-whispers

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.

 

Philochain

John stole five hundred turkeys from the market.

Jane stole five hundred turkeys from the market.

Jane stole five hungry turkeys from the market.

 

Factochain

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. Most days of the week the English-speaking people’s are faced with such transmission, for these twenty-four hour units of time are in fact named after the gods of the Anglo-Saxons. Tuesco’s Day became Tuesday;  Woden’s Day became Wednesday; Thor’s day became Thursday & Freia’s Day became Friday.

delhi_metro

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.

Gwenhwyfar

Guinevar

Guanora

Vanora

Wander

Guinevereford

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.

Lisht
Lisht

Significantly, one of the blocks shows Sobeknahkt filling storage jars, just as Joseph was said to have put 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.’ Another important piece of 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

We are here presented with an early success, based upon a simple philochisp between Zaphenath & Sobeknahkt, which we have ably supported with 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.

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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.

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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.

Weterdale

Wetersdale

Utersdale

Uterysdale

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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.

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 * ninth chapters concern the Quest for the Holy Grail, or at least the object which was transmorphed into the Grail over many, many centuries. The tenth & eleventh chapters throw 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 upon 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 judgements on my findings to the reader & both our posterities.

——————

Next Wednesday, 8/11/17

Chapter 2 

PRINCESS SCOTA

The War of 1812

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Nasty Women

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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.

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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

LA TRAVIATA

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DUNDEE LITERARY FESTIVAL

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THE MAIDS

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;

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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.

———————————————–

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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…

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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