Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Lucifer Bridge Poetry Anthology

The debut poetry collection from Alex Langstone will be available to purchase from January12th 2010. The book promises to be packed with some of the author's most stunningly descriptive and evocative poetry, along with beautiful artwork and photography by some of today's leading occult illustrators.

The Last Angel by Nicholas Roerich

A personal view by Alex Langstone

The front cover features
The Last Angel by renowned Russian mystical artist and philosopher Nicholas Roerich. It was painted in 1912, and is representative of the feeling of the era just before the first world war, where prophets and visionaries saw the madness of the world closing all around. I chose the cover art, not because of it's pervading sense of gloom, but for it's profound visionary appeal. Roerich the visionary mystic painter, along with many of his contemporaries felt this sense of disaster around in the early 20th century. There are many echoes of this today in the early 21st century. The doom and gloom of the 2012 prophecies, the crazy materialistic secular society we live in, conspiracy theories, suicide bombers, corrupt governments everywhere, crazy fundamentalist religions, fascism; the list goes on and on. But there is hope! Within the darkness of humanity there is a spark of beauty and creativity that hosts the divine peaceful and nurturing spirit of the universe. Through my writing, I hope many will glimpse this beauty of the natural world, be uplifted by it and come to realise that we need to try to foster a positive optimistic outlook, where each of us are free to express our own spiritual voice. Therefore the last angel becomes morphed into a being of transformation, light and hope, who leads us along the shimmering pathway to where we each need to be!


The write up below is from the back cover.

Lucifer Bridge is the debut poetry collection by Alex Langstone. Featuring modern poetry of a surreal, mystical, esoteric, and romantic nature, partly inspired by the diverse beauty of the British landscape and also by the dark visionary esoteric-poetic adventures of the author. Alex Langstone has previously seen his work in print through various publications including The Heritage Journal, Meyn Mamvro, Poetry Cornwall and The Mirror of Isis, and in anthologies published by Forward Press. This debut collection, hand picked by the author, promises to inspire, excite, delight and stimulate!



The Last Angel is reproduced with kind permission of The Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York, USA.

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK
Lucifer Bridge is available to buy from this website.
Click here to buy now.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

In Memorium


Dave Hunt
1941 - 2009

Friend and mentor across time and space.
A tribute by Alex Langstone.

It is with great sadness that I can report the death of ASH magazine founder Dave Hunt. Dave was a stalwart of the Earth Mysteries and Occult communities in the south-east and his encyclopedic knowledge of folklore and mythology was outstanding. He spent many years researching landscape mysteries and legends around Essex, a county he loved.

Dave was born in 1941 in Mevagissey, Cornwall and he always loved exploring the British landscape. Indeed in 1993, we spent time researching an alignment of ancient sites across south-west England, which was eventually written up as The Eucharist of Osiris, and published in The Lighthouse volume 2 number 1.

But it was in 1985 that I first met Dave. I was a keen and enthusiastic 20 year old, wet behind the ears, but fascinated by esoteric subjects and eager to learn. Dave took me under his wing, and over the months and years that followed I learned much. Dave had a great way of passing on knowledge, and I shall always remember with affection, the years we studied together, and the way Dave always encouraged and supported me. He was the key player in the publication of my book Bega and the Sacred Ring, and without his valuable support I doubt if it would ever have been published!

His esoteric legacy spreads far and wide. Dave worked alongside many within the esoteric community. He was a student of 20th century occultist extraordinaire William G. Gray and was an adept of the Craft of Cunning. Dave worked with Andrew Collins during the early Earthquest group, where he helped Andrew research the Running Well Mystery. He later helped Andrew again in the search for the seven swords, by finding the sixth Meonia sword in Tintagel, Cornwall. This episode has been immortalised in chapter 45 of Andrew Collins' psychic questing classic The Seventh Sword. The chapter is entitled Morgana Awakes and absolutely sums up how I will always remember Dave.

Dave Hunt co-founded ASH magazine, along with myself, Ian Dawson, Claire Capon and Jim Kirkwood, and under his leadership he encouraged us all to write and lecture about what we had researched. He remained with the magazine until its demise in the spring of 1997. He also helped host two very successful ASH magazine Esoterica conferences and was fundamental in the organisation of the ASH Wednesday public meetings, held during the mid 1990s. He was an active member of the Leigh-on-Sea based Temple of Isis Iseum, during the early 1990s and a valuable guiding light, teacher and mentor in the Clan of the Trees. Dave's biggest legacy though was his research. He spent years researching the Essex Landscape Zodiac, and I sincerely hope that someone, somewhere has this document, and that it will one day be published. I recall spending many happy hours out in the field with Dave, whilst he checked and re-checked the maps and the landscape for clues to the elusive geometry of the Zodiac, and he gave many excellent lectures on this subject.

I am very fortunate to have in my possession some of Dave's work, and it will all be published in due course.

The thing that will always stay with me most of all was Dave's infectious sense of humour. Many times I recall situations that needed the lightness of his humour and he always made everyone laugh, and this was one of the joys of belonging to some of the groups he was a part of. Dave was a wise soul, who would tell it as it was! He will be sadly missed in the communities he served.

Below is a poem from an early issue of ASH, that Dave wrote. I can recall talking to Dave about it at length at an editorial meeting, where it caused much discussion. It is a particular favourite of mine and seems a fitting conclusion to this obituary.

Years End by Dave Hunt

Years End

by Dave Hunt

In the hours between the hours when day has
died and night not yet begun
and this old Earth is made to sigh by Autumn's dim
and dwindling days,
over hills and vales made mellow by the mists and
setting sun.
The Mother of the mystery walks her secret ways.
As old as time, and born of time itself She passes,
quiet, stealthy and unseen.
Shuddering with the cloying cold that surely
soon will come.
Making Summer's sun and warmth a half
remembered dream.
And as She passes, with caressing touch, She
plucks the life from all She does survey
and drops it, gently as a falling leaf, into
a basket made of dark decay.
Over all the land She wanders, dogged by
shades of darkness and of fear,
pausing for a while at homesteads locked
against the Crone,
to scratch at door and window or to
freeze the child's tear
who hears her in the chimney softly
moan.
When She has passed the land is
locked in Winter's sere and snowy hold.
The now dead sun hangs like a pearl in
the pewter bowl of sky,
yet folk in Albion, huddled round the
fires against the cold
quietly wait to hear from far a future
Child's cry.

Written in 1989, and originally published in ASH magazine no. 3.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Bodmin Riding

So, what do the Cornish towns of Penzance, St Ives and Bodmin have in common? Well the answer may lie in a folk-tune heard around mid-summer in the aforementioned ancient and historic towns.

Above: the beast, helliers and the casket of St Petroc.

So with the tune's catchy refrain reverberating all around, here is a review of the 2009 Bodmin Riding ceremony The Horns of the Beast, performed at Bodmin Jail on Saturday 5th July 2009.

Bodmin Riding is a new experience for me, having recently moved to the district from Penzance. The festival offers us an unusual gateway into the second half of the year, just as Mazey Day functions as a climax at the height of the season. Bodmin Riding falls on the first weekend of July, and complements the previous weekends celebrations in Penzance superbly.

The Ragadaziow had gathered, and the Helliers (Cornish language "huntsman") seek the Beast around the town. They soon caught him, and the whole troupe gradually processed to the turreted and historic Bodmin Jail courtyard. The ancient bones of Bodmin's founder St Petroc lay in the old wooden chest, guarded by the gang of musicians that is the Ragadaziow (worthies of the borough).

Copious amounts of Riding Ale was consumed, and the Helliers guarded the beast, whilst An Gwary Bosvenna (the Bodmin mummers play) was performed. This unique play is a whistle stop flash through Cornish history in just 15 minutes, and draws on other traditional Cornish mummers plays, ancient manuscripts and folklore. A truly subversive celebration of the spirit of Cornwall!

Once the play had been performed, and more Riding Ale consumed, The Ragadaziow processed from the courtyard, playing the Riding tune and beating their drums. The sacred relics of St Petroc followed and behind the Helliers with their chained and fearsome Beast! Members of the public joined the procession towards the town centre, where the trial of the beast would be performed, and the town's mummers play would be acted once more. It was fascinating to watch people’s reactions as the penny gradually dropped that the Beast was not a nasty monster but was in fact a totemic representation of themselves.

At the trial the modern story of the Beast of Bodmin is told along with other stories, like the legend that the founding saint of Bodmin tamed a dragon by taking a thorn out of its foot. So in some ways the beast has become St Petroc's dragon, and thus a symbolic icon of Bodmin Town.

Bodmin Riding is a unique festival, blending ancient folk-tales of the area with a fun contemporary folkish feel. The best part of the festivities surround the ritual parading of the Beast of Bodmin. True weirdness; and because of that, absolutely fantastic!

Above: the Beast of Bodmin is captured by the Helliers

Notes

Click here to read more about, and hear the Bodmin Riding tune.
See here for 2006 Video of the hunting of the Beast
Photos: Top. The Beast the Helliers and the casket of St Petroc. Right. A Ragadaziow piper. Left. Bodmin Jail. Bottom. The beast is caught! All photos copyright Alex Langstone.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

20th Anniversary of Cumbrian Quest for Bega

St Bega's church, Bassenthwaite Lake

Today sees the 20th anniversary of the birth of the Quest for Bega.

On June 24th 1989, Carole Young and I set off on an historic quest to the Cumbrian Lake District. What we discovered both inwardly and externally has continued to guide and inspire our lives to this day.

I am still in the process of writing a book about all of this, and I hope that it will be ready for the public domain sometime soon.

In the meantime, take a look at Esoteric Explorer for a taster of my earlier book, Bega and the Sacred Ring, which was published in 1992.

Celtic cross and dragon at St Bees Priory

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Carwynnen Quoit: the Restoration of a Ruined Megalith

This report was first published by Heritage Action's Heritage Journal and is reprinted here with their kind permission. Heritage Action is an organisation dedicated to preserving our ancient heritage by protecting the ancient sites of Britain and Ireland. See www.heritageaction.org for further details.


Carwynnen Quoit: the Restoration of a Ruined Megalith


A Report by Alex Langstone

Carwynnen Quoit is one of the few Cornish portal dolmens to be found outside the Land’s End peninsula of the Duchy. The quoit lies in a field and, at present is nothing more than a collapsed jumble of stones.

new-image1

Carwynnen Quoit today. Image credit: Pip Richards www.sustrust.co.uk

The monument fell down in 1842, but was re-erected shortly afterwards. However the mighty monument fell again during an earth tremor in 1967, and has since been largely forgotten. The quoit belongs to the Penwith Chamber Tombs category of ancient monument, and dates to the Neolithic circa 3000 BC. Also known as The Giant’s Quoit or the Devil’s Frying Pan, it would have had a similar appearance to Lanyon Quoit, sited a few miles to the west, close to Land’s End.

Above: Lanyon Quoit

The capstone formally stood on three supports standing 1.5 metres high, and the monument was formally owned by the St Aubyn’s Pendarves Estate, where it was known as the “Cromlech Park”.

A meeting of the Camborne branch of the Old Cornwall Society was held at the stones in the summer of 1925 and the Bards of the Cornish Gorseth held their annual gathering at the quoit in 1948.

The Sustainable Trust, (a small, locally based environmental trust) have now purchased Carwynnen Quoit, along with the five acres of land surrounding it. Their long term goal is to restore the monument to its former glory and have just had a geophysical survey carried out to see what may remain below the surface. The group are hoping to re-erect the monument without the aid of any mechanical assistance, which in turn, may give us a better understanding of how our ancestors built these monuments in the first place!

Depending on what archaeology is present, a strip may be planted with indigenous trees to extend a wildlife corridor between two close by adjoining woods. The Trust are aiming to design the area around it to provide an appropriate setting for the Quoit based on how the area may have looked when it was first erected. They are working closely with Historic Environment Local Management; an English Heritage led project providing information, training and guidance to ensure this is done in a sensitive and responsible manner. Also involved are Cornwall Heritage Trust, Cornwall Archaeological Society, Heritage Environment Service and the Cornwall Archaeological Unit.

Pip Richards, director of the Sustainable Trust, said “Bear in mind that phase one is only just under way:- the purchase, establishing a database of interested folk and bringing education to and involving a wide cross section of the public. We will form a group to fund phase two. The Heritage Lottery Fund have agreed in principle, but will probably need a series of further events associated with the re-erection. Patience is required.”

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Carwynnen Quoit as drawn by William Borlase

Please see the following links for further details:

The Sustainable Trust

Save Pendarves Quoit


Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Stone Circles of Cumbria

A great new lavishly illustrated guide to the stone circles of the English Lakes has recently been published. It fills a huge gap in the market, and as I have recently returned from the region I thought I would review the work for posterity!

A Guide to the Stone Circles of Cumbria
by Robert W. E. Farrah

This new guide book is an absolute gem. Loads of photographs and references, including map references are given to all the major and lesser known stone circles of Cumbria. The author talks about the sites within the wider context of the sacred landscape, and writes with passion and knowledge of his subject.

Site plans are included, both from the past, and new ones and detailed information is given on how to get to each site, which is essential for the more remote monuments.

New interpretations are discussed and landscape alignments put to the test. The only downside to the book is the physical size of the volume, which prevents it from being taken out in the field! For anyone wanting to explore the ancient past of the Lake District, this book is a must, and for folk interested in the Earth Mysteries of Cumbria, it is a welcome publication.

Highly recommended!

166 pages. Hayloft Publishing. £20.00. ISBN-10: 1904524532. ISBN-13: 978-1904524533

Photos: Blakeley Raise stone circle (NY 0601 1403) and Long Meg (NY 5711 3721)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Castlerigg, Castle How and Blencathra

A recent visit to the Cumbrian Lakes brought new insights into some well known, and some not-so-well-known ancient sites. A dawn vigil at Castlerigg stone circle at the Vernal Equinox proved interesting and initial exploration of newly visited Castle How hill fort upon the shores of the beautifully mystical Bassenthwaite Lake was inspiring. The ancient sacred peak of Blencathra seems to play a central role within the mythic landscape in this area.

Castlerigg, Castle How and Blen
cathra

by Alex Langstone

Blencathra - the ancient seat in the fells

Castlerigg stone circle is the most popular ancient monument in Cumbria, the circle is set within a circle of mountains, upon the summit of Chestnut Hill high above the Victorian lakeside town of Keswick. There are 38 stones in a circle approximately 30 metres in diameter. Unusually, within the ring is a rectangle of further standing stones about which very little is known. The tallest stone is 2.3 metres high. It was built around 3000 BC - the beginning of the later Neolithic Period - and is one of the earliest stone circles in Britain. Several of the surrounding peaks seem to play an important factor in the geometry of the site, and recent research has shown that Blencathra (2,848 ft) can be placed in a central role in the sites alignments.

The circles northern entrance aligns precisely towards the divide between the summits of Skiddaw and Blencathra, with the Summer Solstice sun arising over Blencathra and setting over Skiddaw. The stone circle is also an observation site for the Major Lunar Standstill. We visited this site at the Vernal Equinox for the first time this year, and we witnessed the sun's rays moving slowly up the side of Threlkeld Knots, eventually rising precisely in a notch just below the summit of Clough Head Fell. The rectangle of stones as mentioned above seems to point towards the Vernal Equinox sunrise, and this alignment continues for another 6 miles to the east, towards Great Mell Fell, with it's mountain-top tumulus. This alignment is said to mark the rising of the constellation of the Plaiedes, heralding the approach of Beltane, and of the summer! Despite the amazing sunrise














The Equinox sun moves along the edge of Clough Head, and rises in a prominent notch just below the summit.

we witnessed, it was sad to see (but obviously totally necessary) that the National Trust have had to rope off part of the circle, to allow the grass to grow back - another sign that this is the most visited pre-historic tourist attraction in the region. We also noted two bare patches within the circle, one due to bonfires being lit at the centre and the other, again due to erosion by tourists, walkers and livestock.

Another nearby ancient site seems to have an important alignment to Blencathra. Mayburgh Henge, near Penrith (pictured right) is one of three henge monuments situated closely together of which two now only survive. In the centre of Mayburgh henge is a solitary 9 foot standing stone, originally one of four. The main axis of the site is east-west, and the equinox sun rises in the entrance to the east and sets on the saddle notch of the very prominent but distant Blencathra. Several other ancient sites seem to focus on Blencathra; the Tumulus and stone circle on Knipescar Common, Swarth Fell stone circle, Castlerigg (as previously mentioned), Moor Divock Stone Circles and the Cockpit stone Circle. All-in-all a very special mountain! Its Cumbric name may give us clues to what it may symbolise? It is likely that the name Blencathra is derived from the ancient Cumbric language blaen (a bare hill top) and cathrach (a chair). This would give a meaning of "the bare hill top shaped like a chair", which perfectly describes the topography of the hill. So Blencathra becomes the ancient seat or throne of the land!

Castle How, Faerie Gateway of Bassenthwaite?

Castle How Hill Fort, Bassenthwaite

Castle How (sometimes spelt Howe) is a small Iron Age hill fort which rises steeply near the northern tip of Bassenthwaite Lake. Marked on OS Maps (NY202 308) and known locally as the fairy mound, there are stories of people disappearing into thin air whilst walking near the site, and other stories of things appearing and then disappearing again.

The hill fort is now thickly wooded with birch and beech and is very atmospheric, with superb views across the lake. Ramparts can clearly be seen at the periphery and the hill top is completely flat. A beautiful and little known ancient site, though a well worn pathway to the summit shows that local folk like to visit, and it is a shame that a recent fire has been lit on the summit of this archaeologically sensitive site.

Inspecting fire damage on the summit of Castle How

References.
A Guide to the Stone Circles of Cumbria by Robert W.E. Farrah
www.visitcumbria.com/stonecir.htm
Guidelines for visiting ancient sites click here
Photography by Paul Atlas-Saunders

Monday, 2 March 2009

Spring Folk Festival Round Up

The folk traditions of Beltane are numerous. A time to celebrate Spring, and to welcome in the Summer. A festival of fertility and a celebration of nature's beauty. A time to honour all that is Sacred within Nature. Britain has a plethora of festivals at this special time of year, and to get us in the mood, folklorist and esoteric explorer Alex Langstone delves into some of them.


SPRING FOLK FESTIVAL ROUND UP


With Spring just around the corner, and the promise of warmer days and lighter evenings, I thought I would look forward to some of the great and unusual British folk festivals that the season brings forth annually. There are plenty to chose from, but here are some of the best from Shropshire, Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Cornwall and North Essex.

THE BELTANE FIRE SOCIETY

This fantastic community festival is held in Edinburgh, and along with the other fire festivals is celebrated on Calton Hill every year on April 30th. Visit their fantastic website here or better still, visit the unique festival!

Fire Arch, Calton Hill, Edinburgh
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CLUN GREEN MAN FESTIVAL

For a unique May Day holiday weekend, Shropshire's Clun Green Man festival looks set to be a top contender. Click banner above to check out their website, and see below for a taster of the colourful weekend!

The iconic Green Man of Clun

Shropshire Bedlams Border Morris
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Another cracking festival is held at Thornborough Henge in Yorkshire on Sunday 3rd May and will include the mystery play "The May Eve Haul - The Birth of Taliesin" performed by The Sacred Brigantia Players. Children coming to the event are invited to bring water pistols so that they can participate in the play! The event is free, and it all kicks off at midday. Camping is available at a nearby camp site. For details click banner above.

The Green Knight of Thornborough Henge
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PADSTOW 'OBBY 'OSS

The Padstow 'Oss

The Padstow 'Obby 'Oss is one of Cornwall's most famous festivals and it all happens every year on 1st May. Come early as the town gets absolutely packed, but I would thoroughly recommend that you visit at least once in your life!

See here for details of this fantastic ancient celebration of the return of Summer.

Padstow 'Obby 'Oss Musicians
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THAXTED MORRIS RING

At the end of May the annual Morris Dancing bash is held at Thaxted in Essex. This visual spectacle is an amazing gathering of Morris clans from around the country, and all forms of Morris are there to be seen!

This festival is the spiritual home of the Thaxted Horn Dance, which is performed at dusk, unlike its counterpart at Abbots Bromley in the autumn. Visit the Thaxted Morris website for more details of the amazing and unusual festival. See website here

Thaxted Morris
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Lastly we have the Penzance May Horns Beltane Procession! Revived in 2008, the festival was a huge success last year, with many of the townsfolk processing along the seafront, led by the Green Man and the May Queen, who were joined by many musicians and dancers.

This years do is to be held on Sunday May 3rd. Please click banner above to go to the website.

The May Horns Green Man of Penzance

There are hundreds more events like these across Britain, many of them virtually unknown outside the towns and villages that hold them. Seek them out, for they are a valuable living resource of folk tradition and magic, often hidden amongst seemingly every day things within these colourful and entertaining celebrations of the ancient feast of Beltane.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Company of the Green Man

A great new website has recently emerged, based upon an original idea by the late Ronald Millar. The Company of the Green Man was founded in 1998 and flourished until Ron's death in early 2006. Chris Walton has now re-started the Company, and has launched a website of the same name.


Ronald Millar wrote the book The Green Man Companion and Gazetteer in 1997 and in a note at the back of the book invited interested people to join The Company of the Green Man and thus (with a little bit of encouragement) the Company began. Members enjoyed receiving copies of Ron's Newsletters from number 1 in September 1998 up until number 27 in September 2005.

The new website takes up the quest for the green man where Ron left it, membership is free and open to all, and the website has a growing picture gallery, some original articles from the newsletter a really useful book list, gazeteer, maps, plus loads of information on "those mysterious green chaps". More articles are promised and the site is already proving itself as a fantastic online resourse for all those interested in the Green Man.

You can visit the website by clicking the following link www.thecompanyofthegreenman.co.uk

Green Man, Ely Cathedral