Monthly Archives: December 2017

Curse of the Hay-Collar III…

rampant pictish beast


Now, that night at meat was an uncomfortable one for the Lord

of Dyved, for his companions found sport in ribbing him about

the day’s proceedings upon the Fair-Mound of Arbeth.


“So, was it blows and wounds or were wonders seen today?” asked Idig Arm-Strong.

“Why, I saw a great wonder,” said Tyrnonos. “A woman of uncommon looks rode past that

hill today, only to pull away from our chase without varying her pace.”

“And there’s some who’d say, they saw no looks at all either that way or this,” said


 And all the company laughed.

 “And there’s others who’d say, that such a slight was no wonder at all but a blow,” said

Hevydd Broad-Back.

And the company laughed louder.

And so it went…

Until even Talyssinthe-Bard stood up and sang a ribald lay about a lame buck.  …


Excerpt from, Crucible of the Sun, by Stuart France

Curse of the Hay-Collar II…

rampant pictish beast


… So, the Lord of Dyved climbed the Fair-Mound of Arbeth and the seven chieftains of

Dyved climbed with him…

 As they sat in counsel on the top of the Fair-Mound, they saw a woman, wearing gold

brocade, riding by, on a pale white horse.

Of comely bearing, and fair in face and form she was, and a fine, fitting, match for any young man.

She was approaching along the highway which ran past the hill.

“Men,” said Tyrnonos, Thunder-of-Water, “does anyone here recognise that woman?”

“No, indeed, Lord,” they all answered.

“Then let one of you go to find out who she is,” said Tyrnonos.


Caradawg went but by the time he had reached the highway, despite her

steady pace,  the horse-woman had already gone past without so much as

a look to the left or to the right of her. He followed on foot as best he could

but the greater his speed, the farther ahead she drew and when he saw

that his pursuit was in vain he returned to the Fair-Mound and said to

Tyrnonos, “Lord, it is pointless to follow the horse-woman on foot.”

Now, Tyrnonos, who was a prince among princes, was not used to such treatment from

woman kind.

“All right,”  he said, “but there is some meaning in this, let us return to the hall

and see if she rides past this way tomorrow.”

“A wonder indeed, we have seen today,” said Unig-the-Tall to Hevyd Broad-Back,

“a woman who will not stop for the lord and his company!” …


Excerpt from, Crucible of the Sun, by Stuart France

Curse of the Hay-Collar…

rampant pictish beast


Tyrnonos, Lord of Dyved, ruled the seven townships in a dark land.


Tyrnonos was known as the Thunder-of-Water,

for his mother found him in a cavern, behind a water-fall,

and there was no braver man in all the realm.


Tyrnonos had a mare in his household and he regarded her as the best horse in all nine

worlds.  Every May Eve, she foaled, but no one ever knew anything more of the foal,

so that the Lord of Dyved said to his Master of the Horse, “We are fools to lose the foal of

this mare every year.”

                        “But, what can be done about it?” asked the Master of the Horse.

                        “Three days hence it will be May Eve,” said Tyrnonos, “and I intend to find out

what fate the foals have met with.”


 So, Tyrnonos went with the seven chieftains of Dyved to hold counsel upon the

Fair-Mound of Arbeth, and to see what could be seen.


The seven chieftains  of Dyved who were to sit in counsel  with Tyrnonos where these:

                        Caradawg-the-Hound, Hevyd Broad-Back, Unig-the-Tall, Idig Arm-Strong,

Hwlch Bone-Lip, Ynawg-the-Small and Gruddyeu Long-Head.


Said Talyssin-the-Bard to Tyrnonos before he set foot on the Fair-Mound, “Lord, the ancient

lays are clear as a scryed lake and on one point they all agree; it is the property of this hill

that whenever a man of royal blood sits upon it, one of two things occurs: either he

receives blows and wounds, or else, he sees a wonder.”


 “Well, I do not expect to receive blows and wounds in the company of such a host as this,”

said Tyrnonos, Thunder-of-Water, “but I should very much like to see a wonder.” …

Excerpt from, Crucible of the Sun, by Stuart France

That Wily Wotan…


…“I know where the Wild Wood comes from.”

“Go on.”

“Wodin, or Odin, or Wotan…”

“Wild Wodin, is Myrddin Wyllt! …The High One… So, just how wild is Odin?”

“Wild enough to steal back the mead of inspiration from the Jotunn.”

“That’s pretty wild, how did he do that?”

“By assuming a disguise.”

“What kind of disguise?”

“He pretended he was a giant himself.”

“Oh, Lordy.” …


… Odin called himself, ‘The Evil One’.

All the Jotunn have those sort of names… ‘Death by Envy’, ‘Judgements Thrall’, ‘Bluff’ and ‘Bluster’ etc.

Still, as the God of Gods you would want to outdo all that, so, the Evil One, is pretty much the last word in giant names…

He set off in giant form for the farm of the mead-keeper’s brother.

Clever that.

Thor would have just gone straight to the mountain and the mead-keeper himself but Odin, he is all about turning brother against brother.

Wily you see…wild and wily, probably the same word and only a wise god would know that…anyway, the mead-keeper’s brother has nine human thralls working his farm and when the Evil One strolls onto the land and takes a look around he immediately sees his chance.

The thralls are weary with still a good third of the field to harvest and from the time it is taking for the sheaves to fall their scythes look a tad on the blunt side.

The Evil One pulls a whetstone from his pouch, “Need an edge?” he says, all nonchalant like, to the nearest farm-hand and holds out the hone.

“Do I ever,” replies the farm-hand and when the others see what he is about they crowd around the God, disguised as a giant, in the hope of getting an edge too.

The Evil One duly obliges and as every last jack of them is impressed with their new edge they ask if the hone is for sale.

“I might consider selling it to the one man who can feast me tonight in the manner to which I have become accustomed,” says the Evil One.

Oh, they are all up for that, hell yes, falling over themselves they are to feast the Evil One that night.

Odin squints at them through his one eye and smiles grimly, then he tosses the whetstone high in the air.

Up into the summer sky it arches, glinting in the sunlight, like blue-silver.

Up go the heads of all the thralls to watch it, with not a thought for anything or anyone else, all hoping to be the one to catch it, which they all do actually, every last jack of them.

They jostle, and turn, and run backwards, and flail, and they all catch the edge real good.

Slice each others gullets they do…

The whetstone, when it finally falls to earth, lands in a field of nine dead bodies, and the Evil One, he stoops, and bends, and picks it up, places it back in his pouch and traipses off back down the road the same way he came…whistling… a somewhat plaintiff tune… it has to be admitted.

Excerpt from, ‘Giants Dance’ – Stuart France and Sue Vincent


A Hallowed Holiday…


… We are on the vacation, proper, and the Silver-Bullet is heading this way and that along the ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads of North Yorkshire. There are draw-backs to not having a properly conceived plan. I pick up the road map in an attempt to put some direction back into proceedings and that is when we ‘find’ Thornton-Le-Dale…

Wen sees the Congress-Stone first off, and then we skirt past the ‘Churched-Hillock’ which more or less clinches it, although, we are both conscious, I think, that today should be a landscape day. Churches like this… they simply demand exploration…

…The Simeon window stands brazen as you like proclaiming its message to the world in the chancel of All Saints, Thornton-le-Dale.

It is a fine window. It is beautifully realised and the colour scheme is exquisite. The green and the blue of the two figures alternate from high to low between the robes and the halos. Ostensibly the window shows, The Virgin, in the left light as we look at it, with the temple offering of two turtle doves, in a wooden cage. But already I am beginning to get excited, because what the artist has actually depicted are two white doves. A temple offering of two white doves. They are not turtle doves at all. And they are certainly not pigeons, although if the artist responsible wanted a let-out he could possibly argue that they are, in fact, white pigeons. Very clever, Mr Holiday, always cover your back. Now, why do you suppose he would do that? The other exciting thing about the left light is that the Virgin depicted there is, well, shall we say, ‘a lady of a certain age?’ She is certainly not a woman, or young girl of the age that the Virgin is purported to be at this time. It has to be the Virgin though because the right light as we look at it depicts Simeon, the High Priest who received the ‘Christ-Child’ before giving up the Ghost…in perfect peace.

Oh, Mr Holiday…your window is rapidly advancing to the head of the leading group of all time genius windows!

The coup-de-grace of this particular window, though, is the central roundel which spans the two lights. In the central roundel is a floating head with the moniker, ‘JOHN’, beneath it.

My subconscious gets there first and it is all I can do to prevent myself sinking to my knees. I manage to stifle a sob whilst my mind races with the possibilities and enormities of what I am looking at. I glance over my shoulder to where Wen has taken up position at the lectern and is reading the passage from St. Luke which purportedly relates to the Window. I am right then, it is Luke and not John. My knees are about to start buckling again, so I take one last lingering look at the window and head back into the navel, more to collect my thoughts than anything else…

Excerpt from, ‘Heart of Albion’ – Stuart France and Sue Vincent.



The Incomparable Comper…


…The nearest church is St Nicholas’ of Great Kimble so we head off there.

“Why blue specifically do you think?”

“Well, we’re sort of assuming that it’s a healing energy but if we follow the Theosophists then I suppose it could be devotional.”

“And what are we expecting at St Nicholas’s?”

“To be honest I’ll be surprised if there is anything.”

“What, nothing at all?”

“We were given Our Blue Chapel, remember and I just think that it is special.”

“Well it certainly feels special but it will not be the only church built on an old site, I mean it went out as a definitive edict, to ensure the populace kept coming to the old sites they built their churches on top of them.”

“It very much depends on what has happened in the meantime.”

I hasten along the gravel path, and enter the church porch, pause, look back at Wen as mysteriously as I can, and then twist the iron door ring with a yank and lean into the heavy oaken door.

The door yields…

The door is open…

We step inside.

Now it is a curious thing that since experiencing Our Blue Chapel, we tend to judge all other churches by its incredibly exacting standards and if it does not immediately have the same feel, there is a definite sense of disappointment, which is palpable here, yet this is not a disappointing church by any means. It is well kept. It is obviously well attended and it has some wonderful features, a lovely little side chapel and some quite astonishing stained glass windows, Wen even picks up a bit of colour around some of the side aisles although to my eye there looks to be green mixed in with the blue which sets me thinking…

Wen is quite vociferous in her disappointment. She has appropriated the ‘corporate’ word for use in her appraisal of the place. If you know Wen, you know that ‘corporate’, is a bad, bad word…

“What if the colour is linked to the name?”

“Go on…”

“…Blue for All Saints, Green for St. Nicholas…  I don’t know… purple for Our Lady?”

“You are aware that there were tinges of purple in the central isles of Our Chapel and that the blue from the windows is a different blue to the blue on the walls and floors?”

“I was not aware of that no…It did seem though that the more I looked at the photos the more blue there was.”

“That’s probably just you attuning. The blue from the windows is a lapis blue, whereas the earth blue if that is where it comes from is more of a royal blue.”

“This is crazy…crazy… but true…possibly.”

“And how do they name the churches anyway?”

“There’s a special office, they’re called ‘planters’ but I suppose it’s like priests. There are good ones who know what they’re doing and there are those that don’t. Get a good planter, he tunes into the energy vibration of the place, sees the colour, or feels it and gives it the correct name.”

“It’s a stunning idea but I’ll be amazed if it works like that even though it evidently should.”…


… “And for a long time that is all we had.”

“That, and the Green light of the Lady Chapel.”

“That, and the Gold-Green light of the Lady Chapel.”

“And, when that is all you’ve got you tend to attend to it.”

“Enjoyed ‘tend to attend’ but what did we in fact, have?”

“Well, even that’s not certain.”

“So, what did we appear to have?”

“We appeared to have the head of Christ, which appeared to be floating.”

“I may have to take issue with ‘floating’. I may even have to take issue with ‘head’. I am duty bound to take issue with ‘Christ’.”

“Oh dear, taking issue with Christ is not a happy place to be. Is there a particular reason?”

“Red hair.”

“Ah, well, yes, red hair for Christ is, perhaps, not a familiar attribute, but he is wearing a crown of thorns and he is affixed to a cross.”

“‘He’ is wearing a green crown of thorns and the cross may be a halo and appears to be feathered.”


“Carried, or ‘raised’ by angels. Carried, or ‘raised’ by red haired angels to be precise.”

“Do we ‘know’ any red haired angels?”

“Michael has red hair.”

“That’s that then, but what about the head?”

“It looks more like the angels are carrying or raising a banner with the representation of a head on it.”

“Or, an icon! Is there such a thing in the tradition?”

“There is such a thing, although, whether or not it can be regarded as traditional is very much open to question.”

“Pray, tell of this thing?”

“The Veronica.” …


… “The Veronica?”

“It is one of the ‘Stations of the Cross’. One of Christ’s female adherents approaches her Lord and wipes the sweat from his face as he struggles to Calvary under the back breaking load of the cross. When he has gone, Veronica looks at the cloth, she has used to administer to her Lord, and it bears the imprint of his visage upon it.”

“Another miracle? But of questionable traditional authority you say?”

“The ‘Stations of the Cross’ are supposed to represent Christ’s journey to the cross and beyond as related in the Gospels.”


“The Veronica does not occur in the any of the four canonical gospels.”

“And the apocryphal gospels?”

“It is not in any that have so far come to light.”

“So where did it come from?”

“It was ‘made up’.”

“By whom?”

“If he had a name it has long since been lost to the annals of time, but it is ten-to-one-on that we know not who he was but what he was.”

“You are starting to make less and less sense, ten-to-one-on?”

“He was a Jesuit.”

“Okay… Why would a Jesuit make up something like that?”

“Why, indeed?”

The Wisdom of Solomon…


“So many questions.”

“Chief amongst which, perhaps, is why would the Temple be built by a demon?”

“By the Prince of Demons?”

“It may just be that we are meant to ‘subjectivise’ this story?”

“In which case, the ‘temple not built with tools’ equates to the ‘temple not built by hand’.”

“And to that inner space where speaks, and can be heard, the still small voice of the spirit.”

“And the Naxian Stone?”

“Emery, a grind-stone which is found on the Greek Island of Naxos, reputed dwelling place of Ariadne, who lays the thread that leads from the labyrinth.”

“And the cistern in the mountains?”

“A somewhat elaborate allegory again referring to the precedence of spirit. Benai is the ‘son’.”

“And the hoopoe bird?”

“The hoopoe bird is traditionally regarded as both ‘king’ and ‘demon’ and also has associations with the Queen of Sheba.”

“Solomon and Asmodeus are, in the final analysis, indistinguishable.”

“Or ‘identical’!”

“Small wonder, then, that in the dead of night, the king still fears the return of his ‘demon self’.”

“Sixty armed men is excessively fearful!”


A dog called Toby? III

Domingos Sequeira – Tobias heals the blindness of his father


… “On a recognised Pilgrimage route?”

“Why not?”

“Well, that would explain the presence of the two other Archangels in the paintings even though there is no mention of them in the story.”

“It would.”

“So where does Tobit travel to?”

“It’s just given as a ‘far distant land’ in the version we have but it, maybe, can’t be too far distant if Tobit is related to the family he stays with, which he is.”

“And this artistic tradition surfaced how long after the ‘dissolution’ of the Templars?”

“Enjoyed, ‘dissolution’. Oh, about a hundred years or so.”

“Hmmm. I’m beginning to see what you mean. Gabriel’s ‘lily’ is orthodox. Raphael’s ‘vial’ presumably holds eye ‘salve’ for Tobit, the fish by this stage is purely symbolic, but what of Michael’s golden apple?”

“I was hoping you might be able to throw some light on that?”

“Light from the Garden of the Hesperides, perhaps?”

“Which is guarded by a dragon.”

“A hundred headed dragon.”

“And they call this tradition Neo-Platonic?”

“Not hard to see why, but Ninevah and large ‘fish’, too, appear to be related?”

“That’s what we originally got excited about. We were following the Johannine link, Jonah swallowed by the ‘Whale of God’ et al.”

“‘Make straight the way of the Lord’, pretty much proven, now, wouldn’t you say?”

“We would.”

“And Toby?”

“Has to do with threes, and is the right provenance and time and tradition for the link with the puppet play to be sustained. You were quite right about the word play on that one, all those years ago.”

“‘To be’?…”

“Quite. Threes’ certainly play their part. Not least in Tobit’s age when he dies, but I’m not altogether sure whether a fish actually posseses the attributed organs, which in itself maybe suggestive, but if Sara ‘gets’ the ‘heart’ and Tobit gets the ‘gall’, who gets the ‘liver’?”

“The dog!”


Whether or not ‘Toby’ gets the liver, he always gets the sausages…





The Wisdom of Sun and Moon VI…



… Once he had procured the Naxian Stone, king Solomon kept Asmodeus under vigilant watch and restrained him from leaving the palace until he had built the Temple.

Upon its completion, Solomon said to him, “It is written: He hath as it were the majestic strength of a rhino.  By way of allegory, we say that ‘majestic strength’ refers to the ministerial angels, while ‘rhino’ refers to the demons. But what is your advantage over us?”

Said Asmodeus, “Remove the chain from me and give me your signet ring, and I will show you my advantage.”

So, Solomon removed the chain from Asmodeus and gave to him his ring.

Asmodeus immediately swallowed the ring, positioned one of his wings on the earth, and the other wing in the heavens and hurled Solomon a distance of four-hundred Persian miles from the place where he stood.

 Thus deposed and expelled from his kingdom, Solomon went about like a pauper begging for a piece of bread, while Asmodeus held sway in the temple and palace alike, impersonating the king.

There were none in the kingdom who could see through Asmodeus’ disguise.

In every place that he went, Solomon would say, “I am the preacher. I used to be a king over Israel in Jerusalem and this was the portion of all my labour.”  At which he would show people his regal staff, and profer his bowl for alms.

The Holy Men soon began to question themselves, saying, “Had this pauper been a mad man, he would not repeat incessantly only this one thing. What is this that we have here?”

 Then they sent into the neighbouring kingdoms, asking the people there whether the king had come to them recently. They replied, saying, “Whenever the king comes and goes he demands that women cohabit with him during their period of separation!”

At hearing this, the Holy Men brought back Solomon, who had been deposed, and they gave to him the anklet and chain with on them inscribed the Ineffable Name.

When Asmodeus returned to the palace, and saw Solomon holding the anklet and chain he flew off into the sky, making good his escape.

 Even so, Solomon was forever filled with constant fear, trepidation and terror at the thought of Asmodeus’ return.



The bed of Solomon!

Sixty mighty men are about it,

O’ valiant men of Israel!

(Song of Songs 3:7-8).

The Wisdom of Sun and Moon V…


After three days, Asmodeus was brought before Solomon.

In his hand, he had taken up a stave which men use to measure, and he immediately measured out four cubits on the palace floor. Throwing down the stave before Solomon, he said to the king, “This man has naught in the world save four cubits of the grave. Were you not satisfied in conquering the whole world that you had to come and conquer me?”

Solomon said to him, “I do not want anything from you. I only wish to build the Temple and stand in need of the Naxian Stone.”

Asmodeus answered the king, “The stone has not been delivered into my keep, but rather, into that of the Prince of the Sea. And he has given its secret to none, save to the hoopoe bird, seeing that she alone is faithful in keeping to her sworn oath.”

“And what does she do with it?”

“She takes the rare stone to those desolate mountains where there is no settlement of any kind, and lays it on the ledge of a mountain. This is the reason her name is translated by us in the Aramaic tongue, ‘Mountain Carpenter’, seeing that she will first cleave the mountains, and then bring there seeds from other trees, and throw them down, causing them to spring up in those places.”

Soloman sent out Benai to search for the hoopoe bird.

He found a nest that had fledglings, and covered the nest over with a plate of translucent glass.

When the mother bird returned to her nest, seeking to go inside and feed her chicks, she could not do so.

So, she went off then to the mountains, and returned with a Naxian stone, hoping to cut the glass plate.

But Benai took the stone from her and returned to the palace with the treasure.