When You Get Home (Avebury)

November 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments

The image of people dancing round ancient monuments—not to mention ancient monuments dancing round people if folklore is to be believed—has so impressed itself on the collective consciousness as to make the connection with maypole dancing quite overt.  In fact maypole dancing is a celebration of May 1st, which is the date when the sunrise shines up the Michael Line.  At the centre of the Michael Line stands Avebury.  The upright Maypole brings to mind a standing stone, or herm, and when the pole is wreathed in the traditional ribbons it is strikingly similar to the caduceus, Hermes’ staff. Everyone associates May Day dancing with fertility rites but this is more of a reflection of the Victorian mind-set than the mundane reality, which is villages annually celebrating their relationship with the Megalithic world.  What is that link? After all, long distance transport is not much concerned with local village life.


Beating the bounds

There is a much more immediate ‘megalithic’ requirement which concerns the annual marking of boundaries ceremonies. In a pre-literate era without permanent records or maps, without written records of any kind, people have to physically check, or ‘beat’, boundaries, at frequent intervals. They are in fact carrying out land surveys on the ground, which is simply the local equivalent of what Megalithia Inc. was doing on a larger scale. The techniques are sufficiently similar to assume that one gave rise to the other but which is chicken and which is egg cannot be known at this distance.

Boundary markers included hedges, walls, standing stones and very often particular species of trees, most notably oaks. Etymologically, door is at the root of oak (in Old Irish oak is dair, in Welsh and Cornish dar); it may even be the root of the term Druid. Rivers which are obvious boundaries are sometimes given Dor- and Der- names. It is interesting to speculate why so many rivers begin with a T – Thames, Trent, Tweed, Tay  – along the eastern side of Britain, where much of the coastline has been effected by Megalithian restructuring. There are not one but two Tynes (at Newcastle and Edinburgh), a name which irresistibly suggests the tines of a fork.

By Protestant Tudor times, when literacy was universal, the annual beating the bounds was disapproved of and maypoles were equated with “styncking idols” and often broken up,  presaging the fate of many of Avebury’s stones. The site was not made safe until the 1930’s when Alexander Keiller bought it. Were it not for the fact that the land was acquired by an owner who was a member of the Society of Antiquities, we might not have known of Avebury’s existence at all. But the historical pendulum is always swinging in Britain and nowadays Avebury is once more firmly a Megalithic Monument with a village in it rather than the other way round.


The Spanish Connection  

It may come as something of a surprise to find the church at Avebury is not dedicated to St. Michael, or even St. George, but to St. James. James is the patron saint of Spain, a country with strong Megalithic links to Britain and a long history of tin-mining. James is also the patron saint of blacksmiths and so linked to metallurgy and horses.


              Hermes on an Early Classic Greek vase  

Hermes was typically portrayed wearing a traveller’s cap and cloak and carrying a purse and staff. The purse is a reminder that the Megalithic System needed to be paid for, which is something of a mystery in the days before a money economy. The medieval pilgrim’s garb of broad-brimmed hat, cloak, satchel and long staff mirrors that worn by Hermes. The cloak of St. Martin, one of the most famous relics in the Middle Ages, was in the care of the monks of Saint-Denis and St. Martin’s shrine at Tours was a major stopping-place for pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela.[1]

Pilgrim Monument (Navarre, Spain)


The three saints, Michael, George and James, have a common connection with the heroic horse-and-rider triumphing over evil theme. We are familiar with St George and St Michael in this role but St. James, the Moor-slayer, appeared on a white horse in the sky above the Battle of Clavijo. Clavo in Spanish means hammer and Clavijo sounds like “Son (hijo) of hammer”. All this suggests that St James was originally Spain’s Thor, the hammer-throwing god of thunder.[2] The connection is made explicit in Christian iconography because St. James was one of the ‘Sons of Thunder’ (Zebedee). The Sons of Thunder are twins and St. James’s twin as Moor-slayer was San Millán, who likewise rode a white horse across the sky.

San Millán’s monastery at Suso is said to be the “cradle of the Spanish language”, i.e. where it was first written down; milón is Hebrew for dictionary. Irish was one of the earliest written demotic languages and according to Irish legend the country was colonised by Milesians the sons of Mil, a Scythian ruler who died in Spain. Since they arrived in Ireland on May Day there is a clear Megalithic connection established. It is noticeable that, outside Britain, Megalithic associations seem bound up with writing but in Britain itself there is the supposition that the Megalithic Druids intentionally kept writing out.[3]



The chalk downland here used to be well populated with juniper but the plant has now retreated more or less completely to the chemical and biological warfare establishment at Porton Down.  Though what they use juniper for is anybody’s guess. In the real world juniper is intimately connected with alcohol. It is the main flavouring of modern gin supposedly introduced to this country by Elizabethan soldiers fighting in the Netherlands, hence ‘Dutch courage’, and gin, we are told, comes from jenever, Dutch for juniper.  But juniper, if not gin, has been around for rather longer, juniper berries having been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. There is a connection between juniper berries and mistletoe, the Druids’ sacred plant.  Juniper berries, which harden all too quickly, fail to germinate unless birds’ digestive processes have softened their cases;  birds are attracted to mistletoe berries particularly in the winter and therefore likely to eat nearby juniper berries—there is actually a species of mistletoe called ‘juniper mistletoe’.  It has always been something of a mystery as to why the Druids venerated mistletoe[5], which is poisonous to humans, but perhaps it was used, like juniper, in shamanic healing processes where the incense is wafted around the patient’s head as a prelude to treatment, an ancient version of Vicks though presumably more potent.

Both juniper and mistletoe are inedible as are all the best alcoholic additives. Just as we call beer ‘bitter’ when hops are included, so the Ancients added that other even more bitter herb, wormwood, Latin Artemisia absinthium meaning bitter, to their alcohol. Artemisia refers to Artemis (Diana) who gave Chiron the Centaur the power to use the plant medicinally. Chiron, a master healer who died of a poisoned arrow in the hoof, or rather in the thigh (a wound in the thigh being a frequent fate for heroes),[6] passed the secrets on to Dionysus who was Master of the Revels in the old days but later as St. Denis became a megalithic Christian saint, prominent in the Gothic cathedral movement.

Wormwood was highly regarded in Central America, being honoured in a festival celebrating the Goddess of Salt in which women wore garlands of wormwood on their heads just as laurel wreaths were worn in the Old World by victorious athletes, eminent scholars and Roman emperors. Laurel was the intoxicant of choice for oracular sibyls.


Sprig of Wormwood

It has feathery silver-grey leaves and usually grows on roadsides, where the Romans are said to have planted it for footsore soldiers to put in their sandals. This unlikely tale is no doubt the acceptable version of a racier reality concerned either with alcohol or drugs. Roman soldiers were certainly famous for their forced marches but wormwood in their sandals is less likely to be the cause than wormwood in their drink-containers.[7] The Romans are credited with the introduction of a great many plants and animals into Britain but this is probably just more Classical propaganda.


Wormwood has  been widely used as a preservative by brewers for centuries, if not millennia, before hops were introduced (into beer) from Holland in the fifteenth century; beer is the oldest alcoholic brew known to archaeologists and then as now it needed to be bacteria-free—it was safer to drink than water in most eras. Wormwood was sometimes called ‘the blood of Hephaistos’, which immediately associates it with metallurgy since Hephaistos was the god of blacksmiths (and subterranean fire). The general belief, not only in mythology, that blacksmiths were heirs to magical powers is all part of the nexus connecting metal-working, secret knowledge, megalith-builders and fire-breathing dragons.

Wormwood is spelt in different ways and has various translations but rather than bitterness they all emphasise positive qualities, e.g. wermuth ‘preserver of the mind’ and wermod ‘man-courage’ or ‘spirit-mother’. Worm/orm seems to be the same word as herm and wormwood/vermouth is linked to wisdom as well as Hermes. Worms/orms are at the heart of the metal industry, e.g. the Great Orme, Llandudno, which was reputedly the largest copper mine in antiquity. The connection between wormwood and metallurgy is clear enough at the lexical level but unfortunately the whole area of the Ancients’ use of vegetable alloys in metal-working has been largely ignored by the academocracy. Why not become the world’s authority on the subject yourself?

Extract of wormwood was the main ingredient in absinthe, such a potent brew that it has been banned in modern times. After the excesses of the nineteenth century (AD), wormwood-infused alcohol remains banned today. Although it was likewise banned in Switzerland, the canton of Neuchâtel persists in producing a bootleg or ‘blue absinthe’, which is only too appropriate because juniper berries have been found in prehistoric Swiss settlements, the north side of Lake Neuchâtel is where the so-called Iron Age La Tène culture originated and Geneva is where ginèvre, French juniper, is supposed to have come from, giving us the word gin itself. It is interesting that gin was the first of the modern ‘drug-panics’, when the upper classes convinced themselves that the lower orders are becoming too rampaging[8]. The constituents of wormwood when distilled were used not only in liqueurs like absinthe but also in medicinal preparations; in fact officially absinthe was a Swiss patent medicine which was exported to France in 1797 by Henri Louis Pernod though clearly wormwood had been in use long before Pernod’s “invention”. No doubt the Ancients were, like us, prepared to pay the asking price for mind-altering drugs which would include the cost of long distance transport. Furthermore, vermouth contains ephedra, an amphetamine-like drug, which might contribute to long distance transport à la Peruvian Marching Powder. Essential oil made from wormwood contains thujone, thought to possess psychoactive properties and therefore responsible for the notorious mind-altering effects of absinthe. Its potency was evidently known to the Ancients: Greek athletes were prescribed thujone, probably in the form of wormwood leaves soaked in wine, before taking part in the Olympic Games. This is also presumably the origin of the laurel wreath worn by Olympic champions.

Another plant that contains thujone is sage [Salvia]. According to Culpepper quoting Pliny, sage was a cure for ‘stinging or biting serpents’ as well as aiding the memory and “warming or quickening the senses”, all of which duplicates the wormwood effect. The ancient Greeks particularly prized apple-bearing sage, which coincidentally or not had to be collected on 1st May before sunrise[9]. The Romans used Salvia Divinorum for divination, as its name indicates. Also known as Oculus Christi, Christ’s Eye, it was said to be particularly efficacious to treat eye complaints, for which water from ‘holy wells’ was also commonly prescribed. What is actually going on here awaits discovery[10]. The Megalithic System must have had the transport of high value, low volume goods at its heart to make any economic sense. The point about high value goods is that they tend to remain high value only so long as the secret of their manufacture is kept. Hermetic knowledge, that is secret knowledge, would seem to be central to Megalithia. These secrets can be remarkably long held. Like ‘Greek Fire’, nobody now knows how traditional absinthe was made. This esoteric underground stream can be traced directly from megalithic times right up to the alchemical era; only the scientific revolution and the rise of the modern academy have brought such knowledge out of the darkness

It would seem that the Ancient Apollinarians took drugs deliberately for their intellectual uses unlike our latter-day créatifs who do it for the buzz and then find to their surprise that it aids the artistic process. However it is more likely that the mind-altering aspect was less important than the intellectual endurance factor. One of the things we know about the Druids, but it must be true of any pre-literate intellectual caste, is that prodigies of memorisation are necessary. Amphetamine-style drugs make this process both enjoyable in itself and multiplies the time that can be devoted to it without the brain seizing up in protest. As we have seen, the Megalithic System not only benefits from transporting drugs as high value low volume cargo but the carriers themselves are required to walk such vast distances that drug-fuelled journeys were almost certainly involved.  Merrie England indeed!


[1] Pilgrims are not Christian at all but the inheritors of far more ancient practices. Pilgrim just means foreigner etymologically speaking (cf. Saracen, Frank, Berber, all terms alluding to strangers passing through). The term pilgrim, like the closely associated hermit, is an example of how slightly other-worldly Megalithics reinvented themselves as slightly other-worldly denizens of Christianity.

[2] In dragon-lore the only effective weapons against dragons are iron and thunderbolts.

[3] The first recorded priest of Avebury church was called Rainbold who was also the first independent abbot of St. Emmeram in Regensberg, Germany, and is presumably the same person as the Irish Rombald operating in Belgium. The Abbey of St. Emmeram was noted for its book production and illuminated manuscripts and had close ties with Gorze Abbey near Metz, dedicated to St. Gorgonius i.e. St. George.

[4] Gin-and-It stands for Gin and Italian Vermouth and was the favoured tipple of British ladies who lunched between the wars.  The Americans took it over and dubbed it The Martini (after the leading brand of vermouth).  The British thought of it as vermouth-with-a-gin-kicker whilst the Americans moved rapidly to gin with a vaguely vermouthian flavor.  This is one of the great differences between them and us, that is between us and the Megalithics.  They correctly understood that alcohol was best treated as a vehicle for other, superior mind-enhancing substances (of which, as we shall see, vermouth is one) while we regard alcohol as an end in itself.

[5] Mistletoe grows at the tops of trees in a rounded clump and is allegedly a phallic symbol. The annual Druidic practice of cutting mistletoe with golden sickles, gold being the metal sacred to the sun, is linked to the sacrifice, i.e. castration, of the old king forced to give way to his replacement at the winter solstice to bring in the New Year. A possible instance of mistletoe berries has been found in Britain as part of a Bronze Age ‘tree-burial’, inside the oak coffin of the very tall “Gristhorpe Man” in North Yorkshire. However, mistletoe does not feature in Ogham, the Irish ‘tree alphabet’, and seems to have been more central to Gallic than British Druidry. In French mistletoe is gui which suggests it is the same word as ‘guy’ i.e. guide, as in Hermes the messenger guide.

[6] For hoof read heel, ritualistically significant in the mythology of god-sacrifice. The references are well-known: Achilles, one of Chiron’s disciples, Adam fated to bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent to bite man’s heel, the pierced feet of Christ. In bull-fighting and fox-hunting the foot or paw is a prized trophy, rabbit’s feet are still lucky charms.  In some myths the sacred thigh-injury was received during wrestling, e.g. Jacob and the angel, the sport also associated with the Cretan bull-cult. Hermes, god of athletics, was especially honoured in wrestling schools of Ancient Greece.

[7] Or perhaps not. We may have lost touch with an entirely different means of drug delivery. It may be that the psychoactive substance in wormwood can suffuse through the sweaty skin of the sandalled foot, just as the laurel wreath delivered its message direct to the brain via the temples. In the Eleusinian Mysteries the head was presumably nicked in order for the laurel to work better which would then be the origin of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

[8] At the time of writing the British government has just rushed through special legislation to ban a plant fertiliser with interesting side effects, after two teenagers died using it. As soon as the ban came into effect, the coroner’s report revealed they had died of something else entirely.

[9] It is common to find references in folklore to specific moments, such as sunrise and sunset or changes in the moon’s cycle, being crucial for the efficacy of remedies and spells. This is quite likely a throw-back to when surveyors could only make meticulous measurements using solar or lunar reflections from fixed points such as wells and lakes. But it might be that we have lost touch with a whole science of maximising the potency of plants by time of planting and/or harvesting. However, Rudolph Steiner and his soi-disant disciples are on the case.

[10] The French word for eye, œil (uel in Old French) is uncannily like ‘well’. There is a very deep connection between wells and eyesight, clearly to do with the reflection from water (cf. ‘mar’ words like mere, mirror, mirar meaning to look in Spanish, voir and verre in French, etc.) which suggests wells were important reference points in surveyors’ sightings (cf. Eratosthenes at Aswan).


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