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2006 Archive:
The Winchester Mystery House - Ghost Chronicles
December 28, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Investigating Jane Doherty - Ghost Chronicles
December 20, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Shadow People - by Lee Prosser
December 16, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Westford Knight - Ghost Chronicles
December 15, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Haunted Real Estate by Richard Senate
December 13, 2006

Traditions Behind Christmas By Vince Wilson
December 8, 2006

The Haunted Dibbuk Box - Ghost Chronicles
December 6, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Have Ghosts? Will Travel: A Ghostgeek's Guide to the RMS Queen Mary By Jen Brown
December 4, 2006

Thanksgiving: A Day of Forgiveness - by Lee Prosser
December 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

America's Stonehenge - Ghost Chronicles
November 29, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) - by Jeff Belanger
November 16, 2006

Ghost Hunt Seminar - Ghost Chronicles
November 15, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Ghost Photography: Orbs by Robbin Van Pelt
November 9, 2006

Pet Ghosts - Ghost Chronicles
November 6, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Ghosts Haunt the Inn by Richard Senate
November 3, 2006

Japanese Woman Artist - by Lee Prosser
November 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Ghosts of the Windham Restaurant - Ghost Chronicles
October 30, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

The Salem Witches - Ghost Chronicles
October 23, 2006

Ghostvillage Radio - podcast

Homan House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: A Preliminary Report by John Sabol
October 20, 2006

What Does Halloween/Samhain Mean to You? - Compiled by Jeff Belanger
October 16, 2006

That is the Way of It - by Lee Prosser
October 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Fooling the Ghost Hunter by Richard Senate
October 11, 2006

Jack Kerouac - by Lee Prosser
October 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

Civil War Re-enactors and the Ghost Experience - by Jeff Belanger
September 15, 2006

Who Goes There in the Shadows? - by Lee Prosser
September 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Engagement and Data Analysis in Symmetrical Field Investigations by John Sabol
September 11, 2006

Occult Warfare by Richard Senate
September 6, 2006

Cats and Other Critters From Beyond the Grave - by Lee Prosser
September 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

Chicago's Strange Angles and Haunted Architecture by Ursula Bielski
August 25, 2006

I Have a Hunch: A Look at Psychics, Mediums, and Clairvoyants - by Jeff Belanger
August 16, 2006

Geof Gray-Cobb - by Lee Prosser
August 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Orbs: Have They Become that Boring? by Tuesday Miles
August 14, 2006

A Night on Char-Man Bridge by Richard Senate
August 7, 2006

Five Union Soldier Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
August 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

A Visit With Author and Witch Kala Trobe - Interview by Lee Prosser
July 26, 2006

Perceptual Stratigraphy: Making Sense of Ghostly Manifestations by John Sabol
July 24, 2006

The Trouble With Witches - by Lee Prosser
July 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

A Look at Our Haunted Lives - by Jeff Belanger
July 13, 2006

An Active Ghost Hunt at a Haunted Bed and Breakfast by Richard Senate
July 7, 2006

Lee Prosser, 1969 - by Lee Prosser
July 4, 2006

Column - regular feature

My Theory on Spirits by Edward L. Shanahan
June 28, 2006

Ethnoarchaeoghostology: A Humanistic-Scientific Approach to the Study of Haunt Phenomena by John Sabol
June 19, 2006

Christopher Isherwood & Lee Prosser in 1969 - by Lee Prosser
June 16, 2006

Column - regular feature

ESP, M&Ms, and Reality - by Jeff Belanger
June 15, 2006

A Duel on the Airwaves by Richard Senate
June 5, 2006

Marjorie Firestone and Her Dream Predictions - by Lee Prosser
June 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

Until Death Do Us Part? by Rick Hayes
May 31, 2006

Part Four: the Conclusion: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
May 22, 2006

Column - regular feature

Folklore, Folklore, Folklore with Dr. Michael Bell - interview by Jeff Belanger
May 16, 2006

Swami Chetanananda and Lee Prosser - by Lee Prosser
May 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Theatre, Sance, and the Ghost Script: Performances at Haunted Locations by John Sabol
May 5, 2006

Willard David Firestone and the River Ghost - by Lee Prosser
May 1, 2006

Column - regular feature

When the Spirits Held Sway at the White House by Richard Senate
April 25, 2006

Part Three: Investigation: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
April 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Talking Reincarnation with Dr. John Gilbert - interview by Lee Prosser
April 17, 2006

Billy Bob Firestone and the Ghosts of Pythian Castle - by Lee Prosser
April 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Cryptobotany: the Search for Lost Plants by Richard Senate
April 7, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 4 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
April 6, 2006

Vedanta and Durga - by Lee Prosser
April 2, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 3 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 30, 2006

Ritual, Resonance, and Ghost Research: The Play in the Fields by John Sabol
March 27, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 2 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 23, 2006

Celtic This, Druid That, Saint Patrick Hit Me With a Wiffle-Ball Bat - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
March 21, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 1 of 4 by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers
March 16, 2006

Christopher Isherwood, Time Loops, and Ghosts - by Lee Prosser
March 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Druids - by Lee Prosser
March 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

Natural Selection and the Involution of the Gettysburg Ghosts by John Sabol
February 28, 2006

Part Two: Investigation: Primrose Road - Adams St. Cemetery - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
February 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Lights, Camera... Action! by Brian Leffler
February 16, 2006

Divination and Geomancy - by Lee Prosser
February 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Spirit Messages from a Murderer by Richard Senate
February 8, 2006

The Ghosts of Springfield, Missouri - by Lee Prosser
February 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

The Ghost Storyteller: A Dinosaur Among Lemmings? by Charles J. Adams III
January 23, 2006

The Fools Journey: A Magickal Roadmap to Life - by Marcus Foxglove Griffin
January 20, 2006

Column - regular feature

Tarot and Spiritual Alchemy - by Lee Prosser
January 15, 2006

Column - regular feature

Demons from the Dark by Chip Coffey
January 9, 2006

Spooky - by Lee Prosser
January 3, 2006

Column - regular feature

March 30, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry Book Excerpt Part 3 of 4

By Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers

The Mysteries of Druidry by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers 9. What gods did the Celtic people worship?
The Celtic people believed in a variety of gods and goddesses, and not every Celtic nation had exactly the same pantheon. The archaeological record in Gaul reveals 374 god-names, many of which were gods of particular tribes or localities. Sometimes the same god was known by different names, and many of the names were deemed too holy to pronounce aloud (thus the common oath: I swear by the god my tribe swears by). This taboo may also have been intended to prevent your enemies from invoking your own gods against you.

It is important to remember that in the pre-Christian times, the people believed in complex and imperfect gods who, like human beings, had personalities, interests, and feelings. A religious professional would be required to know these things in order to work with them and avoid angering them, thereby risking the welfare of the tribe. Because the Celtic Gods are similar to humans in disposition and temperament, they are so much more accessible and easier to understand. The idea that the gods might be makers of morality and judges of humanity is a foreign idea to most ancient European cultures. Some of the gods are simply the beings who live in and with natural forces, landmarks, special places, weather events, animals, trees, and so on, and who are controllers of their movements and dispositions. Others are the deities of particular tribes or nations, who sponsor that tribe and support it in various ways. A tribal deity may be seen as a distant divine ancestor, who confers special benefits upon the best of his mortal descendants. As a general rule, although there are exceptions, male deities look after human social affairs, and female deities dwell in landforms and the forces of nature. Each tribe had its own small group of local gods, although there were a few rock-star deities embodied in the landscape of whole continents, or who were the progenitors and sponsors of whole nations. 

In the chapters to follow, I will discuss some gods in detail, as the discourse requires. Here, I will briefly mention a few of them, which will give an impression of the diversity in the Celtic pantheon as well as some of the commonalties among the different Celtic nations.

From Ireland:
Lugh Lamh-Fada, the Long Handed or Many Talented, a god of the sun, of military victory, and of the harvest.
Manannan, the god of the sea, and of passage to the Otherworld.
Morrigan, a goddess of the Earth, and of sovereignty. 
Dagda, another god of the sun, and of tribal leadership.
Brighid, a goddess of healing, midwifery, blacksmithing, poetry, and fire.
Diancecht, a god of medicine and physicians.
Ogma, a god of writing, knowledge, wisdom, and public speaking.
Angus, son of the Dagda, god of youth, beauty, and love.

From Wales:
Arawn, lord of the Annwyn, the Otherworldly realm of ancestors.
Pwyll, lord of the kingdom of Davyd, and husband of Rhiannon.
Arianhrod: She is the Goddess of Caer Arianhrod, sometimes identified with the constellation Coronea Borealis, which is where the souls of slain heroes go. 
Rhiannon, goddess of sovereignty associated with horses and the Underworld. 
Cerridwen, mother of the poet Taliesson, goddess of wisdom and old age. 
Lyr, god of the sea

From Gaul (including some equivalent Roman deities according to Julius Caesar):
Lugh (Mercury), a god of the sun
Belinus (Apollo)
Taranis (Mars) a thunder god
Teutatis (Jupiter) a father god
Brigid (Minerva)
Cernunnos (Dispater) a god of animals, hunting, fertility, and death. 
Epona, a goddess of horses and of motherhood.

10. Did the Druids practice human or animal sacrifice?
For those who want to believe the answer is yes, there is plenty of literary and archaeological evidence to justify the belief. For those who want to believe the answer is no, there are plenty of other ways to interpret the evidence. 

The Romans recorded that the Druids executed criminals and prisoners of war in religious ceremonies. This was no different than elsewhere in the ancient world. Julius Caesar wrote that such victims were tied into huge man-shaped effigies made of wicker and burned alive. The ancient historian Livy reported that when an army of Celtic Gauls attacked and killed a Roman army commander named Postumius, they killed him and made a chalice from his skull. Some accounts describe one person's life being sacrificed so that a terminally ill noble would survive, thus indicating a belief in a cosmic balance of forces.

It is fashionable among some contemporary Druids to claim that Julius Caesars account of the Wicker Man is mere propaganda, designed to stir up support for his war in Gaul. Less easy to dismiss is the image on the inside of the Gundestrup Cauldron, which has a panel depicting a man about to stab a bull through the throat with a sword. This artifact corroborates Roman and Greek literary accounts of the Bull Feast in which animal sacrifice was a necessary part of the ceremony of inaugurating kings. Less easy to dismiss again is Ann Ross account of the Lindow Man, the bog body discovered in England, near the border of Wales on 1st August 1984. He had been simultaneously strangled, drowned, and clubbed. The absence of any signs of struggle on the body seems to indicate that he did not resist the sacrifice but rather agreed to it willingly. His last meal included a bit of burned bread (possibly the equivalent of pulling the short straw). All of these facts, among others, according to Ross, provide strong evidence that the Lindow Man was a Druid who agreed to be sacrificed in an (unsuccessful) attempt to prevent Roman armies from invading Britain. There are numerous other bog bodies discovered all over Europe, killed in similar ways and with evidence similarly pointing to a willing victim. Celtic scholar Miranda Green has described how the selected victim would be treated like a king for as much as a full year before the sacrifice. He would be given all the best food and clothing, for instance, or permission to have sex with anyone he wanted. This may have been intended as an incentive for volunteers, or perhaps the result of a belief that high-status victims were more valuable than low status victims. If the latter is true, then it would be necessary to make the victim a temporary king to maximize the magic of the sacrifice.

In the last decade of the 19th century, the Scottish-born anthropologist James Frazer published The Golden Bough. This was the first major work of comparative mythology, the first to list the laws of magic as occultists know them today, and the first to suggest that the purpose of myth was not only to explain the world but also to effect change. Myth, to his mind, was tied to ritual: people connected with the gods and with the sacred powers of the world by re-enacting their mythologies in ceremonial dramas. The book is most well known for the description of the ritual sacrifice of societys highest ranking member: the king. In his account, the murder of the king was a widespread custom. His idea was that the king was a sacred figure, the embodiment of a god, whose personal qualities were connected to the condition of the territory he ruled. In Frazers words:

the kings life or spirit is so sympathetically bound up with the prosperity of the whole country, that if he fell ill or grew senile the cattle would sicken and cease to multiply, the crops would rot in the fields, and men would perish of widespread disease. Hence, in their opinion, the only way of averting these calamities is to put the king to death while he is still hale and hearty, in order that the divine spirit which he has inherited from his predecessors may be transmitted in turn by him to his successor while it is still in full vigor and has not yet been impaired by the weakness of disease and old age. 

As we can see, this death had a practical ritual purpose tied to the communitys desire for survival: it was intended to achieve a renewal of the world, in particular the revival of plant life, in order to prevent starvation. Some Sacred Kings were killed automatically after a certain amount of time (on his account, usually seven years), others were subject to challenges on regular occasions like annual festivals, still others were in perpetual danger from those who might kill him to take his place at any time. Some Sacred Kings were ordinary members of the community who temporarily substituted for the king after losing a bet, for instance by drawing a burned piece of bread from a basket. And some Sacred Kings were effigies or animals, so that no human being had to be killed. The spirit of the sacrificed king was then reborn in the fertility of the plants and crops. Frazer had effectively shown that the death and resurrection of a god was a rather commonplace belief in the ancient world, and not something accomplished only by Christ. Frazer emphasizes that it was also accomplished by the Greek hero Adonis, for instance. It may be that the Celts accepted Christianity so readily because the idea of a sacrificed and resurrected deity was already familiar to them.

However, there is a great deal of controversy about this. Many of the details of Frazers work were disputed, and various inconsistencies led scholars to reject his account by at least the 1950s if not earlier, at least insofar as it was claimed to be a factual account. His ideas about the logic of magic, and of the connection between mythology and ritual, remain respected. The bog bodies like the Lindow Man could have been convicted criminals or prisoners of war rather than willing victims. Finally, there is no evidence of human sacrifice in Ireland, though there is evidence of animal sacrifice there. And there is no evidence of the sacrifice of women, anywhere in Celtic world.

To understand this phenomenon, it is important not to assume that ancient people held the same values that we do today. To the Celts, death was not the frightening, final thing it is to most of us born in the 20th century. It was a Druidic doctrine that the soul is immortal and that death is part of the cycle of someones existence. It follows that human sacrifice may not have been so repugnant to ancient people. Indeed a certain amount of violence may have been part of the meaning of the sacred -- the violence of the warrior on the battlefield, the animals in the forest, the hunters who chase them, and the thunderstorm in the sky. Certainly, there were other forms of punishment in Celtic law deemed worse than death, such as banishment. If Julius Caesar had lied about the Wicker Man in order to fuel his propaganda effort, he would have been quickly exposed by other eyewitnesses and his credibility would have been ruined. If ancient cultures killed people for religious purposes, it would have been a very special and powerful ritual, performed only in times of serious need. 

We today regard death as a negative thing, or even as an annoying interruption of the status-quo, if we acknowledge it at all. But Death is one of the most important facts and mysteries of human life. How we acknowledge this mystery, or how we fail to acknowledge it, tends to reveal our deepest spiritual commitments and our most strongly-held values. I think it cannot be denied that ancient Pagan societies had this dark side, the transformation of murder into one of their most important ritual dramatizations of myth and meaning. But it would be wrong to paint Druidry as nothing more than an elaborate death-cult. Obviously, there are no modern Druids who continue the practice of human sacrifice today.

11. What Celtic temples and sacred places exist?
There are literally thousands of stone forts, earthwork rings, holy wells, stone circles, and other monuments scattered all over Europe. Unfortunately the majority of them are in ruins today, either through age and disuse or else from deliberate destruction. Still others have been converted to serve Christianity. The site of Gauls central Druidic stronghold, in what was then the territory of the Carnutes tribe, is presently the site of Chartres Cathedral. Another class of sacred places are those constructed by the pre-Celtic Neolithic people, which because of their monumental size remain numerous and reasonably intact to this day. The two most well known Irish sites of this kind are Tara and Newgrange. 

Newgrange has many names: Cashel Aengus, Brugh Na Boinne, or the Wonder Hill. It is what archaeologists call a passage grave or passage mound. It is a large circular man-made mound of earth surrounded by a ring of kerbstones. A single (known) passage opens from its southeast face that leads into the mound to a central chamber. The passage is angled so carefully that direct sunlight can enter as far as the central chamber, some 80 feet inside the monument, only at sunrise on midwinter morning. Within a few miles from Newgrange are several other passage mounds, including Knowth, which has two passages aligned to sunrise and sunset on the equinoxes. Other famous passage mounds include the Loughcrew Complex, elsewhere in Ireland, and Maes Howe in Scotland which also admits sunlight only on Midwinter morning. 

The Hill of Tara is one of my favorite places in Ireland. Its serene grassy fields, great earthwork circles, and the extraordinary view over the countryside make it easy to feel like a king. It was, indeed, the seat of the national kings of Ireland. It is a low hill with gently sloping sides, and features a large concentration of earthwork circles and avenues. The largest earthwork enclosure, Rath na Ri (Fort of the King) is over 100 meters in diameter, and inside it are two smaller earthwork circles and a passage mound. There are also six holy wells surrounding the hill, a massive royal avenue now known as the Banquet Hall, and numerous satellite mounds and enclosures. Tara is also the home of the Lia Fil, (Stone of Destiny), the upright standing stone on which Irelands kings were ceremonially confirmed. It presently stands in the Rath of the Assemblies, one of the two earthwork enclosures inside Rath na R. One of the translations of the name Tara is spectacle or wide view, since it affords an excellent view over the landscape of Ireland. Tara has been the center of religious and political power in Ireland for approximately four thousand years, and nearly 500 kings are buried in its vicinity. Its importance obtains even in the modern period: for instance, thousands of people attended a meeting called by Daniel OConnell in 1843 to support his demand that the Act of Union with Great Britain should be repealed. And in 1916, the Declaration of the Republic was read out on Tara before it was read out on OConnell Street, in Dublin. Some of Irelands most noteworthy public figures in the late 19th to early 20th century, including Arthur Griffith, Maude Gonne, W.B. Yeats, George Moore, and Douglass Hyde, all protected Tara from being excavated by the British Isrealite Association by standing in the way of the bulldozers. The British Isrealites were looking for the Arc of the Covenant, which they believed was buried under the earthwork circle now known as the Rath of the Synods. Although the hill is presently threatened by nearby motorway construction and the possibility of intrusive tourist development, it remains one of the jewels of the Irish landscape.

Read Part 4...

The Mysteries of Druidry by Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers is being released in May 2006 by New Page Books. This excerpt is being reproduced with permission of the publisher. All text is copyright Dr. Brendan Cathbad Myers.

2014 Haunted New England Wall Calendar by Jeff Belanger photography by Frank Grace
Check out the 2014 Haunted New England wall calendar by Jeff Belanger and photography by Frank Grace!

Paranormal Conferences and Lectures
Don't miss the following events and lectures:

Jeff Belanger and “The Bridgewater Triangle” at Dedham Community Theatre - April 6, 2014 9:00PM

The Spirits of the Mark Twain House - Hartford, Connecticut - April 12, 2014

Paracon Australia - East Maitland, New South Wales, Australia - May 10-12, 2014