Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Carrots - Scotlands most important food

If someone were to ask you a question about naming the most important Scottish foods – one would rattle off; haggis, turnips (neeps) and tatties (potatoes), herring, and then if anyone knew about Scotlands hedgerows and wet agricultural lands -
blackberries, apples and probably oats and barley – BUT – what IF we have it all totally wrong ????
What If CARROTS are one of the most essential foods to the Scottish and Gaelic heartland ? and somehow we have either forgotten about this fact or Carrots have literally gone ‘underground’ as a sacred Scottish food. Carrots are part of the ancient fertility religion in Celtic lands and Gaelic Scotland – part of the Old Ways that have been partly obscured and thinly veiled with the Christian ideology of St Columba..

The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of prayers, hymns, charms, incantations, blessings, runes, and other literary-folkloric poems and songs collected and translated by amateur folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912) in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910.

St Michael is spoken of as 'brian Michael,' god Michael, probably secretly a renaming of the old Celtic (Druidic) Gods e.g. Dagdha or Lugh.
In Christian teaching the Angels are not to be worshipped as gods, so its very likely that in the same Celtic pantheon as Brigid, Bride, Brigitte one would find references to the old gods of Celtia veiled with Christian ideas.
Certainly the Archangel Michael is a warrior prince and his battle with Lucifer, Samael etc in the Fall of Angels mentioned in The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus Flavius marks him out to be the general of the Host of Heaven.

It is this militarism which is mixed into and confused with the History of the Celts with their Book of Invasions and the legends of the giants – the Tuatha De Dannan and their magical weapons who came to these shores having been dispossessed and fallen from elsewhere.
Whereas the Anunnaki/ De Dannan may have been quick to assume the title of god, e.g. Angus Og, certainly the Archangel Michael was not on the same side as the fallen giants and their progeny mentioned in the Book of Enoch.

Also note the fertility rituals and practises connected with St Michaels day on the 29th of September and the harvesting of Carrots – and their secret meanings !!

Are these beliefs therefore really all about the Archangel Michael who would never claim to be a god ?
Nor would St Michael regard Scottish fertility rituals with carrots as substance by which the souls of mankind can achieve the path to Heaven.

Forget Haggis, Neeps and Tatties – its Scottish Carrots that are central to the Scottish cycle of birth, growth and death and just as Burns night gave praise to the Haggis on January the 25th it was St Michaels Day on September the 29th when the power of Carrots manifests in Scotland.

Praises to this pseudo-Michael quoted from the Carmina Gadelica collection.

Thou wert the warrior of courage
Going on the journey of prophecy,
Thou wouldst not travel on a cripple,
Thou didst take the steed of the god Michael,
He was without bit in his mouth,
Thou didst ride him on the wing,
Thou didst leap over the knowledge of Nature.

St Michael is the Neptune of the Gael. He is the patron saint of the sea, and of maritime lands, of boats and boatmen, of horses and horsemen throughout the West. As patron saint of the sea St Michael had temples dedicated to him round the coast wherever Celts were situated. Examples of these are Mount St Michael in Brittany and in Cornwall, and Aird Michael in South and in North List, and elsewhere. Probably Milton had this phase of St Michael's character in view. As patron saint of the land St Michael is represented riding a milk-white steed, a three-pronged spear in his right hand and a three-cornered shield in his left. The shield is inscribed 'Quis ut Deus,' a literal translation of the Hebrew Mi-cha-el. Britannia is substituted for the archangel on sea and St George on land.

On the 29th of September a festival in honour of St Michael is held throughout the Western Coasts and Isles. This is much the most imposing pageant and much the most popular demonstration of the Celtic year. Many causes conduce to this--causes which move the minds and the hearts of the people to their utmost tension. To the young the Day is a day of promise, to the old a day of fulfilment, to the aged a day of retrospect. It is a day when pagan cult and Christian doctrine meet and mingle like the lights and shadows on their own Highland hills.

The Eve of St Michael is the eve of bringing in the carrots, of baking the struan,' of killing the lamb, of stealing the horses. The Day of St Michael is the Day of the early mass, the day of the sacrificial Iamb, the day of the oblation 'struan,' the day of the distribution of the Iamb, the day of the distribution of the 'struan,' the day of the pilgrimage to the burial-ground of their fathers, the day of the burial-ground service, the day of the burial-ground circuiting, the day of giving and receiving the carrots with their wishes and acknowledgments, and the day of the 'oda'--the athletics of the men and the racing of the horses And the Night of Michael is the night of the dance and the song, of the merry-making, of the love-making, and of the love-gifts.

Several weeks previously the people begin to speak of St Michael's Day, and to prepare for St Michael's Festival. 'Those concerned count whose turn it will be to guard the crops on St Michael's Day and to circuit the townland on St Michael's Night. The young men upon whom these duties fall arrange with old men to take their place on these occasions. As the time approaches the interest intensifies, culminating among the old in much bustle, and among the young in keen excitement.

Three plants which the people call carrots grow in Gist--the 'daucus carota,' the 'daucus maritimus,' and the 'conium.' 'The 'daucus carota' is the original of the cultivated carrot. The 'daucus maritimus is a long slender carrot, much like the parsnip in appearance and in flavour, and is rare in the British Isles. The 'corium,' hemlock, resembles the carrot, for which it is occasionally mistaken. It is hard, acrid, and poisonous.

Some days before the festival of St Michael the women and girls go to the fields and plains of the townland to procure carrots. The afternoon of the Sunday immediately preceding St Michael's Day is specially devoted to this purpose, and on this account is known as 'Domhnach Curran'--Carrot Sunday. When the soil is soft and friable, the carrots can be pulled out of the ground without digging. When, however, the soil is hard, a space is dug to give the hand access to the root. This space is made in the form of an equal-sided triangle, technically called 'torcan,' diminutive of 'tore,' a cleft. The instrument used is a small mattock of three prongs, called 'tri-meurach,' three-fingered, 'sliopag.' 'sliobhag.' The three-sided 'torcan' is meant to typify the three-sided shield, and the three-fingered 'sliopag,' the trident of St Michael, and possibly each to symbolise the Trinity. The many brightly-clad figures moving to and fro, in and out, like the figures in a kaleidoscope, are singularly pretty and picturesque. Each woman intones a rune to her own tune and time irrespective of those around her. The following fragment was intoned to me in a soft, subdued voice by a woman who had gathered carrots eighty years previously:--

Cleft fruitful, fruitful, fruitful,
Joy of carrots surpassing upon me,
Michael the brave endowing me,
Bride the fair be aiding me.
Progeny pre-eminent over every progeny,
Progeny on my womb,
Progeny pre-eminent over every progeny,
Progeny on my progeny.

Should a woman find a forked carrot, she breaks out into a more exultant strain that brings her neighbours round to see and to admire her luck,

Fork joyful, joyful, joyful,
Fork of great carrot to me,
Endowment of carrot surpassing upon me,
Joy of great carrot to me.

There is much rivalry among the women who shall have most and best carrots. They carry the carrots in a bag slung from the waist, called 'crioslachan,' little girdle, from 'crios,' a girdle. When the 'earrasaid' was worn, the carrots were carried in its ample folds. The women wash the carrots and tie them up in small bunches, each of which contains a 'glac,' handful, The bunches are tied with three-ply thread, generally scarlet, and put in pits near the houses and covered with sand till required.

The Chaplet of St. Michael is a wonderful way to honor this great Archangel along with the other nine Choirs of Angels. What do we mean by Choirs? It seems that God has created various orders of Angels. Sacred Scripture distinguishes nine such groupings: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels and Angels (Isa. 6:2; Gen. 3:24; Col. 1:16; Eph. 1:21; Rom. 8:38). There may be more groupings but these are the only ones that have been revealed to us. The Seraphim is believed to be the highest Choir, the most intimately united to God, while the Angelic Choir is the lowest.

The history of this Chaplet goes back to a devout Servant of God, Antonia d'Astonac, who had a vision of St. Michael. He told Antonia to honor him by nine salutations to the nine Choirs of Angels. St. Michael promised that whoever would practice this devotion in his honor would have, when approaching Holy Communion, an escort of nine angels chosen from each of the nine Choirs. In addition, for those who would recite the Chaplet daily, he promised his continual assistance and that of all the holy angels during life.

The Chaplet of St. Michael
O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, etc.

[Say one Our Father and three Hail Marys after each of the following nine salutations in honor of the nine Choirs of Angels]

1. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Seraphim may the Lord make us worthy to burn with the fire of perfect charity.

2. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Cherubim may the Lord grant us the grace to leave the ways of sin and run in the paths of Christian perfection.

3. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Thrones may the Lord infuse into our hearts a true and sincere spirit of humility.

4. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Dominations may the Lord give us grace to govern our senses and overcome any unruly passions.

5. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Virtues may the Lord preserve us from evil and falling into temptation. Amen.

6. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Powers may the Lord protect our souls against the snares and temptations of the devil.

7. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Principalities may God fill our souls with a true spirit of obedience. Amen.

8. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Archangels may the Lord give us perseverance in faith and in all good works in order that we may attain the glory of Heaven.

9. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Angels may the Lord grant us to be protected by them in this mortal life and conducted in the life to come to Heaven.

Say one Our Father in honor of each of the following leading Angels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael and our Guardian Angel.

Concluding prayers:

O glorious prince St. Michael, chief and commander of the heavenly hosts, guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits, servant in the house of the Divine King and our admirable conductor, you who shine with excellence and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil, who turn to you with confidence and enable us by your gracious protection to serve God more and more faithfully every day.

Pray for us, O glorious St. Michael, Prince of the Church of Jesus Christ, that we may be made worthy of His promises.

Almighty and Everlasting God, Who, by a prodigy of goodness and a merciful desire for the salvation of all men, has appointed the most glorious Archangel St. Michael Prince of Your Church, make us worthy, we ask You, to be delivered from all our enemies, that none of them may harass us at the hour of death, but that we may be conducted by him into Your Presence.This we ask through the merits of Jesus Christ Our Lord.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Hogmanay or else ....

In Scotland there are many traditions that come from ancient times and some of these can involve surreal or dark behaviour centered around some aspect of the native environment. The Scottish new year or Hogmanay these days most people think of having a few drinks and celebrating at midnight. In Scotland though there was always that bit more to it all ......

Hog·ma·nay (hgm-n, hgm-n)
n. Scots
1. The eve of New Year's Day, on which children traditionally go from house to house asking for presents.
2. A present requested or given on this day.

The 'gillean Callaig' carollers or Hogmanay lads perambulate the townland at night. One man is enveloped in the hard hide of a bull with the horns and hoofs still attached. When the men come to a house they ascend the wall and run round sunwise, the man in the hide shaking the horns and hoofs, and the other men striking the hard hide with sticks. The appearance of the man in the hide is gruesome, while the din made is terrific. Having descended and recited their runes at the door, the Hogmanay men are admitted and treated to the best in the house. The performance seems to be symbolic, but of what it is not easy to say, unless of laying an evil spirit. That the rite is heathen and ancient is evident.

WE are come to the door,
To see if we be the better of our visit,
To tell the generous women of the townland
That to-morrow is Calendae Day.
After being entertained the guisers go sunwise p. 157 round the fire singing--

May God bless the dwelling,
Each stone, and beam, and stave,
All food, and drink, and clothing,
May health of men he always there.
Should the guisers be inhospitably treated, they file round the fire withershins and walk out, and raise a cairn in or near the door, called 'carnan mollachd,' cairn of malison, 'carnan cronachd,' scaith cairn. p. 157
They tramp loudly, shaking the dust of the place off their feet, and intoning with a deep voice the following and other maledictions:--

The malison of God and of Hogmanay be on you,
And the scath of the plaintive buzzard,
Of the hen-harrier, of the raven, of the eagle,
And the scath of the sneaking fox.
The scath of the dog and of the cat be on you,
Of the boar, of the badger, and of the 'brugha,'
Of the hipped bear and of the wild wolf,
And the scath of the foul foumart.

Scottish Andrew ? Who do you think you are ?

Scottish Andrew ? Who do you think you are ?

At a recent business networking event it was put to me in a critical way – who did I think I was – when I had stated that I am Scottish Andrew.
It seemed to my professional critic and business analyst that I was doing too much – trying to be more than I actually was because I was incorporating the term ‘Scottish’ into my name.
He was having trouble with a Scottish business idea that incorporated a Paranormal Ufo Tour, Scottish Art and a Ceilidh band that would play at Scottish community gatherings e.g. weddings. I appeared to be mixing up my communication channels and marketing streams. After all he laughingly announces to the gathered group of other business people who had attended to obtain his pearls of wisdom .. ‘Who would want a man in a green suit playing at their wedding …’

I would hate to have been Richard Branson turning up at one of these Enterprise assistance events today – After all who would want the sexual connotations of rock and roll handling their travel arrangements, monies and credit ratings ! etc

My critic though did make me focus on illustrating and highlighting the traditional provenance of my Scottish Andrew idea – so here is the extended answer to the question – Scottish Andrew ? Who do you think you are ?

Scottish Andrew Arts, Music and Storytelling is part of an ancient and historic tradition of the Ceilidh.
Originally, a ceilidh was a social gathering of any sort, and did not necessarily involve dancing.
Ceilidh (plural ceilidhs or ceilidhean) is from Scottish Gaelic cèilidh, Irish céilidhe, from Old Irish céile ("companion") is defined as an Irish or Scottish informal social gathering anywhere in the Celtic diaspora where traditional folk music is played, with dancing and story telling.

The folklore expert Alexander Carmichael in his folklore collection Carmina Gadelica, 1900, tome I, p. xxviii writes..
‘The 'ceilidh' is a literary entertainment where stories and tales, poems and ballads, are rehearsed and recited, and songs are sung, conundrums are put, proverbs are quoted, and many other literary matters are related and discussed.’

Scottish Andrew is a part of that diverse folk tradition; a Scottish musician and ceilidh dance caller to facilitate and participate in all aspects of the gathering, with Storytelling that is part of the paranormal and mystical tradition in Scotland, a poet and composer, a ‘Dissident Scientist’ [2012] with solutions to the conundrums of the cosmos, and a producer of innovative art that seeks to augment the nature of tartan designs and the tradition of colours in Scotland.

In that context, Scottish Andrew is a Ceilidh ‘player’ – part of the ancient tradition of multifaceted performers and artistes called the Filidh - Scottish Gaelic: filidh, plural filidhean who were an integral part of community events.

The word "filidh" is thought to derive from the Proto-Celtic *widluios, meaning "seer, one who sees", derived ultimately from the verb *widlu-, "to see". This may suggest that the filí were originally prophetic poets, who foretold the future in the form of verse or riddle, rather than simply poets.

The Natural and Supernatural photography of Scottish Andrew carries on that tradition of seeing the truth in our Cosmos.

Through such traditional musicians as Turlough O'Carolan (who died in 1738 and is often lauded as "the last of the bards") the musical tradition of the fili has made its way to contemporary ears via a contemporary culture of folk music artists and composers such as Scottish Andrew and his Wild Geese Ceilidh Band.

The fili maintained an oral tradition that predated the Christianization of Ireland and the culture placed great importance on the fili's ability to pass stories and information down through the generations without making changes in those elements that were considered factual rather than embellishment.
In the accounts of Stargate Edinburgh Tours that Celtic tradition of paranormal folklore which witnesses, collects and compares the reports of modern faerie tales is preserved in the 21st Century through the reportage of Andrew Hennessey.

Scottish Andrew, Andrew Hennessey is part of an ancient tradition of community arts, entertainment and social insight.
In more recent decades, the dancing portion of the Ceilidh event has usurped the older meanings of the term, though the tradition of guests performing music, song, story telling and poetry still persists in some areas of the Celtic fringe.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Politically corrected Flower of Scotland

Whitehall in London England today released a politically correct and
Edited version of the popular Scottish Nationalist song The Flower of Scotland by Roy
Williamson of the folk group the Corries in 1967.

It was suggested that it should be adopted north of the border in Scotland to help suppress separatist tendencies and to keep the idea of English sovereignty uppermost in the Scottish psyche ….

FLOWER OF SCOTLAND …. English edit.

Oh flower of somewhere to the very north of England
When shall we perceive
Your recurring similitude
That did incur mortality for
One’s miniscule valley and dale

And did prove slightly troublesome to
Glorious Edwards army
And chastised him homewards
To reminisce once more ….

This verse now replaces:

O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again
That fought and died for
Your wee bit hill and glen.
And stood against him,
Proud Edward's army,
And sent him homeward
To think again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


One of my most stark and memorable gigging quotes of the 20th Century originates in a notable Hotel in Scotland’s capital city in 1997. One cold winters night after a drive and on arriving hours early in the Belford road area to set up a large and bulky public address system and other heavy musical gear to facilitate the room turnaround and the progress of the wedding banquet – it was going to be a long wait till after the meal and speeches – so I asked the events manager for a small pot of tea. He replied … ‘If we gave every musician that came here a cup of tea where would we be ?’ In stark contrast to the cheap nonsense from this notable hotel in Edinburgh is the staff policy of the Virgin Hotel operated by entrepreneur Richard Branson, also in Edinburgh. Their policy IS to cater for the entertainer with tea or coffee because they say that a happy entertainer means a great event. It was a night and day thing.