"Samhane" is the English equivalent of The Scottish Gaelic  "Samhuinn," and has been described as "a Celtic feast of the departing sun" but it was also the beginning of a New Year. Ultimately, the source of this word is "Samh" a personification of  the goddess known in the south of Britain as "Sum" whose name is embedded in the word "summer." The longer word connotated "Summers end." Samhuinn commenced the Celtic New Year and marked a notable decline in the power of the Sun and an increase in the magic of the Moon. Crows and tree pirated from the TV series "Six Feet Under."

Painting by Rod Mackay. The celebration began at dusk October 31, and ended November is as night fell.  In the best of moods Samh cohabited with the sun-god Bel following the Beultaine on and after April 30. That last word connotates an "ascendant Sun."  As a winter-goddess, she was less than civil with human kind who were descended from trees. As a death goddess she collected the souls of men and women as mid-winter and transported them into the west, the "lands of the dead." Her far-travelling familiar was a carrion crow, who might fight for her or provide espionage. This bird shared her mood swings.

Sir George James Fraser thought that  Samhuinn was more important than the Beultaine, as new fires were rekindled then, divination of the future was attempted, the spirits of dead ancestors were welcomed home, and evil spirits were
discouraged through ritual magic. The belief was that the mist separating the world of the living from the dead was thinnest at this time of year. In Christian mythology, this idea was never completely suppressed and it morphed into All Saint's Eve and Day, which passed through All Hallows Eve and Day and finally emerged as Hallowe'en which is still celebrates. We won't go into the bloodthirsty pagan customs of this fire festival which have blackened the reputation of this "hellidaeg"or "holiday,"among some Christian sects.

The g
ods and goddesses of pagan Europe liked powerful or crafty birds, and the Old Norse god Odin or Woden (as the Old English called him) kept two of them whose names were  Thought and Memory. These names appear English above, and in runic symbols on the splash page. Odin willing traded away his right eye for "knowledge of all things," but was never a happy deity after that exchange. However, he was quick to admit that he hated contemplating the loss of Memory when it travelled from his shoulder. A  mortal god, he was less disturbed that his ability to reason might at some point take flight and never return.  A first wife died of a wasting disease with her memory completely intact. My mother succumbed to another wasting disease, which took her memory first and later functional thought.

Painting by Jamie Wyeth. Whichever ability is taken first, the crow left alone certainly symbolized bad luck, and hence perhaps that old saw, "One crow sorrow..? The word "samh" and very similar words in other languages can also mean "half,"usually used in conjunction with another word, for example the The Anglo-Saxon word "samsoden", was applied to half-sodden, or half-cooked food, while the obsolete English word "samdede," meant half dead, just as "samhale," indicated a person in less than peak condition. "Sammy" is another abandoned word, once used to describe a half-wit, ninny or simpleton. In certain situations "samhuinn" can indicate half-time. Better two heads than one?
Painting by Arthur Rackham. There are two periods standing on either side of any half-time, and these were anciently identified as Samhradh (sow-een), or summer, and Geamhradh (geowr-ug), winter. Winter can be a fickle season. The summer goddess was a shape-changer as well as a mind-changer and in winter took the form of a Winter Hag, "Cailleach Beur" or "Bear Woman." In human form, she was Odinesque, having a single eye. The Cailleach or storm-wife was considered the spirit of winter, the enemy of life and growing things. Her annual coming to Scotland was announced by the sound made when she washed her plaid in the whirlpool, of Corryvreckan. A person of inconsistent temperament she occasionally helped men and women, but more often blasted them with a thunderbolt from her magic staff. Wherever she went, her symbol of authority created snow and sleet. She was considered the death-goddess to those who died upon the land and in the Yule led the "Unsely Court", a host of the dead, on a circuitous route across Britain.

Photograph by Rod Mackay. "Two crows joy?" That depends on the wishes of the befinne. In the pagan world, men and women, like the mortal deities were gifted with at least one supernatural adviser by the immortal shape-changing Bafinne (White Death), corresponding with the classical trio called the Fatum, or Fates and with the Old Norse, Nornr. This nature spirit had three occasionally reincarnated representatives in the real world, Mhorrigan (Sea queen?), the goddess controlling times past,  Babd (Crow),
the present, and Macha (Plain), the future. All could transmute into any form within or outside the trinity. The followers of these earth-based mortal goddess, were usually invisible supernaturals, given the duty as acting as the "guardians" of men and the gods, "for good or ill." From this pagan wellspring, possessive Christian angels and demons may have sprung. Very few people credit their luck, or lack there of, to any pagan suprantaural entity.

This is the only illustration I could find picturing The Morgan (as the Welch and English termed her), the most attractive and youngest of the triad in the company of a "carrion crow."  And yes she is Morgan Le Fay of the Arthurian Romances, in which she is pictured as a terrible troublemaker although a blood relative of King Arthur. Of course, these tales are a latter-day co-opting of folklore and mythology going back a couple of thousand years.

Christian Leyendecker's painting of
Cú Chulainn rushing into battle with help from Mhorrigan in the form of her crow familiar. There is disagreement over the derivation of the Morrígan's name. Mor may derive from an Indo-European root connoting terror or monstrousness, cognate with the Old English maere (which survives in the modern English word "nightmare")  while rígan translates as 'queen'. In the Middle Irish period the name is often spelled Mórrígan taken to mean "Great Queen" (Old Irish mór, 'great'). "There have also been attempts by modern writers to link the Morrígan with the Welsh literary figure Morgan le Fay from the Matter of Britain, in whose name mor may derive from Welsh word for "sea", but the names are derived from different cultures and branches of the Celtic linguistic tree."

The morgha is the folk-descendant of the Celtic Cailleach bheurr, the original Morgan or Mhorrigan corresponding with Samh, the alter-ego of the aforementioned winter hag. This goddess was described as a perpetual regenerative virgin, one who lay annually, at Samhuinn, with the Irish kings of
Tara, thus ensuring their divine right of kingship. The Scots were of course immigrants into the land that came to be called Scotland. In the medieval romances, she was described as Morgan Le Fay the half sister of Arthur. Morgan and Arthur shared the European carrion-crow as their familiar. There are descendants and they share  Sutherlandshire with the Mackays.  The two clans are indistinguishable and share the same badge. They fought, at one time or another, with all of their neighbours and literally with the Gunns. But that is very ancient unsavoury history.

And some of them have this thing about crows which are the the totem-animal of the siol or “seed of" Morgan. Her name is sometimes represented in Gaelic as Mórrigán or Mórrigú but it is not unknown in the mythology of other lands. In the Bas-breton this lady was known all along the coast as the Korrigan or Korrigwen and in Cornwall as the Horridgwen. In Italy this sea-deity was Fata Morgana, “who is perhaps a personification of Fortune, a being of a higher order (of supernatural).” The ancient pagan goddess Mhorrigan, “the sea-born,” a “daughter” of the Dagda, is alternately seen as a Gaelic mermaid, and some adherents therefore suppose they are protected against death by drowning. Superstitions do survive? "Morgens, morgans, or mari-morgans are Welsh and Breton water spirits that drown men. They may lure men to their death by their own sylphic beauty, or with glimpses of underwater gardens with buildings of gold or crystal. They are also blamed for heavy flooding that destroys crops or villages,"

The old gods and goddesses of the pagan world are not faring as well being less regarded that angels and demons. English author Neil Gaiman has described their plight in his novel, American Gods (2001), which was adapted for television in 2017.The premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. If not... Mr. Wednesday is easily spotted as an immigrant from Europe. Woden seems to have kept both Thought and Memory, but is pictured as at risk of losing both because  the American obsessions with media, celebrity, technology and drugs, among other things. Right on? President Wee Donnie MacLoud is an example. "Two crows joy?"

The hooded crow, familiarly known as a "hoodie," is variously named in the languages used in Europe and Britain.  The adult crow is larger that the southwestern species being 18 to 20 inches in body length.  The Scots crow is opportunistic, a constant scavenger. It will drop molluscs of rocks to feed on those animals. On coastal cliffs, the eggs of gulls, cormorants, and other birds are stolen when their owners are absent. It will also feed on small mammals, scraps, smaller birds, and carrion. The crow has the habit of hiding food, especially meat or nuts, in places such as rain gutters, flower pots, or in the earth under bushes, to feed on it later. Other crows observant crows will steal from their neighbours. These are all characteristics prized by mercenary clansmen; self reliance at all costs! This map illustrates the current range of this bird, but that could have been further south at the time when Wodin and Mhorrigan were active in Great Britain, and coincidentally both these old pagans are often picture in hooded garments.

Even heroes have their limitations: In Celtic folklore, the bird appears on the shoulder of the dying  northern Irish warrior Cú Chulainn in his last singular battle against the south. His downfall came at the hands of the Mhorrigan, who is not only identified as the Cailleach, but as the wife of Tethra one of the Daoine sidh, or fay folk. The hooded crow is therefore seen as the familiar of these thin, nearly invisible folk who lived "under the hills of Ireland and Scotland. In the eighteenth century shepherds in both countries made offerings to this crow hoping to protect their flock from a "murder of crows." In times past we know that this bird foraged further south. In Herefordshire, England they frequently flew in into England to feed on dead sheep in fields. In 1855 the Royston Crow was named and  was afterward featured on the crest of the North Herefordshire District Council.

Inset illustration by Stephen Reid shows Mhorrigan welcoming her familiar home at tea time.  Medieval food habits were more liberal then. "This species, like its relative, is regularly killed by farmers and on grouse estates. In County Cork, Ireland, the county's gun clubs shot over 23,000 hooded crows in two years in the early 1980s." So much for the sanctity of old goddesses? By the way, flight was not her only means of travel. In the stories of the Ulster cycle' mentioned in small part above, she is seen as a serpent, a cow and a wolf.

Painting by Stephen Reid, showing the men of Ulster being cursed in perpetuity by Emain Macha of the triune. In the earliest copies of the Lebor Gabála Érenn, three sisters, named Badb, Macha, and Anann are mentioned. In the Book of Leinster version, Anann is identified with Morrigu, while in the Book of Fermoy version, Macha is identified with Morrigan. She is a confusing shape-changer, her name being sometimes "applied to different women who for the most part seem to be sisters or related in some manner, or sometimes it is the same woman with slightly differing names in different manuscripts and redactions. We see that Morrigan is identified with Badb Macha, Anann, and Danann (Daoine). The first is usually identified with the raven and battle, the second usually identified with the archetypical Celtic horse goddess, the third with the land goddess, and the fo[u]rth with a mother goddess."


This painting by Christian Leyendecker describes her as Maeve.  This seems appropriate since she was the moon-goddess who united annually with the sun-god Lugh or Bil, in the interest of keeping a balance between the demands of the two seasons "in the worlds of both men and the gods." This depicts the Mhorrigan in her battle-goddess configuration.  In the "Cattle Raid of Cooley," Maeve is described as the Queen of Connaught and one maven says her name means "drunkeness," but the meaning is closer to "one who intoxicates, a cause of great joy." At first a supporter of the young
Cú Chulainn she turned against him when, as a man, he failed to recognize her endearing characteristics and helpfulness. The name is an anglicanization of Mebd or Badb, the goddess of the present.

Again, Stephen Reid.  Ferdiad, son of Damánis a warrior of Connacht in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. In the Táin Bó Cúailnge, Ferdiad finds himself on opposite sides to his best friend and foster-brother Cúchulainn. When Ailill and Medb, king and queen of Connacht, invade Ulster to purloin the magical bull Donn Cúailnge,  Cúchulainn, demanded that ownership be established by single combat, Ferdiad agrees to fight Cúchulainn after Findabair, Ailill and Medb's daughter, has seductively plied him with alcohol, and Medb bribed, shamed and goaded him to do so. After three days, the fight ended after
Cú Chulainn called in help from his two invisible guardians and thrust a barbed weapon up his former friend's anus. He was said to be grief-stricken.

In his final stand against the southerners the hero had belted himself in an upright position against a standing stone.  His fight had been so extreme even his enemies were loathe to attack him when he was dead.  Note the corona of godhood surrounding his head.  The illustrator Stephen Reid apparently knew that Cúchulainn was a mortal demigod being the son of the chief god named Lugh. This was the Gaelic sun god personifying the summer season, the mortal god who was ritually married to the moon goddess of winter on May 1 when he became intoxicated with her beauty, wit and prowess in battle. However, his interest waned and vanished by November 1 in each and every year. When, Lugh himself finally did go to earth, his regenerated godhood was assumed embodied in the various Kings of Tara who succeeded him.

Yet another meaning of samh is as assembly or gathering.
Interestingly a get-together of ravens is known as a constable, unkindness or conspiracy. They are the largest of the Latin "corvus" or "crow family." When any species of crow gathers en mass, it becomes a "murder of crows." Many birds live at least part of the year by themselves and when they gather are termed a "flock."  Crows like company.  As a youngster, I wandered into the burnt lands north of St. Stephen and stumbled upon a grounded collection of hundreds of crows who sat in entire silence. It was a winters day and a friend and I were looking for Christmas greenery in the wilds beyond so we proceeded carefully right through that murderous group, whose individuals ignored us until we had passed. Then, they all took wing. Unnerving as Wee Donnie would say. However, not supernatural?

John Duncan's "Riders of the Sidhe." This painting depicts Sidhe riders on Midsummer run. The riders carry two of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann (people of Mhorrigan): the cauldron of Dagda and the sword of Nuada. The other two treasures, not pictured, are the spear of Lugh and the Liath Faill also known as the Stone of Destiny. At a guess, this ride is led by the sun and moon deities.

"Considered a mystic by some, a madman by others , he
(Duncan) stated that he could hear "faerie music" while he painted." He married a woman whom he believed had found the Holy Grail at Glastonbury. The marriage did not last and
he never remarried.

This rough sketch of the sun-god is also by Duncan. Lugh is represented in Irish mythology as a warrior, king and saviour, a well-rounded lad, a teacher of crafts and the arts as well as a proponent of law and order. He is alternately represented as a storm god or sky god, and in the this last form is confounded with the nature-spirit named Kai or Kay.It is said that he was the son of Dian Cecht of the Tuatha Dé Danann,but his mother was the Fomorian (western or Atlantic shape-changing sea giants) princess Ethniu.  He was the maternal grandson of the Fomorian, Balor, who Lugh killed in the Battle of Mag Tuired in defense of "true men" and the fay folk. His foster-father was the sea god Manannán. Lugh's son was the  Cú Chulainn, often considered an reincarnation of Lugh. Words containing Lu,or lo or le, have appeared for millennia in many languages,  always indicating light or sun or sun god. In folklore it has been suggested that Mhorrigan was of partly Fomorian extracting and that she stole the Cauldron of the Deep from her western based kin-folk before defecting to Ireland.

Duncan, Without resorting to insult let us simply say that Fomrians could be humanoid and quite beautiful, but they were malevolent giants (averaging about 15 feet in height) and their sole magic was shape-shifting. That pale rider on a pale horse could represent the goddess of the future, the collector of the dead. When the first human arrived in Ireland the Fomorians were already resident and they defeated and scattered the Partholonians. The Firbolgs were also human and when they relocated, saw nothing of these giants, who were reputed to come from a floating island far out on the Atlantic. The Tuatha Dé Danann were the next immigrants and because of their magical skills were taken to be gods.

Painting by Arthur Rackham. The Fomorians were able to cohabit and breed with both humans and giants and King Breas of the Danannn was of mixed blood. Although a handsome fellow, he proved to be parsimonious and heavy handed when it came to taxation of the Danann. That led to wars, which ended with Lugh's defeat of these hostiles, who were forced to leave Ireland. As for the Danann, they were defeated at the hands of the Milesians the next interlopers, who had little magic but superior iron weapons. Defeated, they became subservient forced to retreat to Fomorian redoubts or take to the "hollow hills" in the outback, they became known in Scotland as daoine sith (people of the side hill). The "folk of the mounds," the Aos sí,  are fierce guardians of their fairy hill, rings, and special trees, and are the most direct descendants of the Mhorrigan and her kind.  The Gaelic Otherworld is seen as closer at the times of dusk and dawn, as are the festivals such as Samhain, Beltane and Midsummer. The banished magic-makers were only small in terns of their power base. Physically the were described as tall and thin, with an ability to seem, if not actually be, invisible.

Painting of the trickster god Lokki by Arthur Rackham.  Mythology is awash with ancient gods who did not make the cut ,and not all were mortal and open to vengeance.  This unreliable fellow was invited into the fellowship of Odin's Aesir, After he arranged the death of that god's favourite son Baldur, he was chained underground awaiting Ragnarök, the final battle of good and evil at the end of time. He is suspected as having once been a sun god, demoted to the status of hearth god and finally left with control of underground fire.


This overheated guy turns on the charm as imagined by Arthur Rackham. The Gaelic immortal nature spirit, Aod, pronounced Kai or Kay (Fire) is of this ilk. Lugh is actually a triune god with a long history, but forces of nature have few tales to tell. Aod also has two brothers whose names translate literally as Ler (Water) and Cari, pronounced Kari or Carey (Wind). Mackay or McKay is a Scottish and northern Irish name, the anglicized form of the old Gaelic Mac Aodh  "son of Aodh", an ancient personal name meaning "fire". Etymologically, this is the same name as McCoy. In Inverness, the Gaelic form is written as Mac Ai. These point up two pronunciations but there are many more spellings and dialectic versions. There are alternate spellings of Aod, Aoid, Aoidh and Aoibh, and he/she is anciently a pagan deity. It may be remembered that that Lokki was among other things a sex-changer who gave birth to Odin's eight-legged steed as well as the Fenris wolf, the world-worm and the god's know what else.

Painting by Stephen Reid.  Ler, god of the ocean was said to have pursued and impregnated Aoibh, the
Pleasant-Faced, a metaphor for the sun. By Aoibh he had three sons and a daughter, all changed into swans and banished by her sister who became Ler’s second wife. By this woman, who was named Aoife (literally, “One Deemed to Die”), Ler begat Mannan mac Ler a mortal sea deity. Notwithstanding his mortality, Mannan was the most prominent god of the past, ruling the sea world on the arm of Fand, the Pearl of the Ocean. His home was in the western Atlantic, a place known as Tir Tairnigri, the Land of the Daughter of Thunder. The continental Celtic god of thunder was Tar, who is the equivalent of Thor, thus we see that Norse and Celtic myth are not mutually exclusive. Whether male or female in aspect this supernatural could easily enter the watery domain, as the Sun obviously sometimes does at dawn and dusk. "He was able to exist for nine days under water without the need to breathe air and could travel unimpeded for nine days without sleep. When it rained this sun god evaporated all drops that came within a hair's-breadth of his body."

And now, a diversion into the supposed "real world."

The infamous Highland Clearances seemed to prove that sheep represented a better investment than tenant farmers, and in any event the MacMafia which drove the chieftains flock south out of Sutherlandshire went on to better lives on other continents. Fishing was as difficult as faming due to the wild geography of the Sutherland coast.  Some clan members abandoned fighting in foreign wars as a means of making a living for less dangerous pastimes. By the way, "Mackay" is often pronounced as "McCoy," hence that expression. The most successful of the lot was the scion of an emigrant, who brewed his product in Queensland, South Africa. Graham Mackay went on to transform his local company into the second largest brewer world-wide. He died in 2013.

Sutherlandshire never was a sinecure. It was not a cush place. Since they did have a lot of experience as fighting me they did regularly hire out as mercenaries to fight in foreign wars. There is no room for much military history, but we should mention Chief Sir Donald Mackay, Baronet of Nova Scotia, elevated to the peerage as Lord Reay in 1628.

He gathered a force to fight against German Catholics in the Thirty Year's War. Illustrated above it was noted that, "They are a strong and hardy people who survive on little food. If they have no bread, they eat roots . When necessary, they can cover more than 20 German miles in a day's forced march. (1 German mile = 4¾ English miles) Besides muskets, they carry bows, quivers and long swords." It was also said that "The Mackay is always good for a thaler (dollar), belying the idea that Scots are all parsimonious.

In the new world they became lumber barons, industrialists, car dealers, real estate agents, and (shudder) politicians. The other mercenary Mackays were successful in helping to c
apture Stettin and Colber. During 1632 Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden was killed at the Battle of Lützen and Lord Reay was not repaid large sums of money due to him by the king. In January 1649 Charles I was executed following civil war in England. Donald Mackay, 1st Lord Reay having fought for Charles I during the civil war was to be created Earl of Strathnaver but the royal patent was not completed and Reay went into exile in Denmark where he died in February 1649.

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the Clan Mackay were anti-Jacobite, taking the side of King George I of the United Kingdom. That did not earn them undying gratitude from either the English or other Scots. and a century later they were scattered throughout the British Empire after the Highland Clearances. Life in the Colonies had to be less horrific? There were certainly short-term advantages in the late 18th and early 19th century. Land was inexpensive or free and building material was at hand everywhere.

In 1836 the redoubtable Englishwoman Catherine Parr Traill was homesteading in Upper Canada when she wrote:
"We have neither fay nor fairy ghost, nor bogle, satyr nor wood-nymph, our very forests disdain to shelter dryad or hamadryad. No naiad haunts the rushy margins of our lakes, or hallows with her presence our forest rills. No druid claims our oaks ... we look upon things with the curious eye of natural philosophy alone." Furthermore Christian clerics were show to come to the Canadian outback. It was not a paradise on earth but the distance separating neighbours did mean that settlers had the benefit of a re;relatively;y peaceable kingdom.

Rod's photo of Mi'kmaq canoe at Shelburne, 2010. Traill said that in colonial world there was  "no scope for the imagination."  The lady further said, "The only beings in which I have any interest are the Indians, and even they want the warlike character and intelligence that I pictured they would possess."  Obviously, she did not really want the Indians to show more aggression and she did not ask them what they thought of her theory that Canada was a new world, "its volume of history as yet blank."  Had she enquired, Traill would have found a well-developed oral history and mythology, real causes for whistling in the dark, but the European population was busy establishing itself.  It was decades before WASPs and WASCs paid any attention to their tales, myths or ideas, let alone their needs..

Traill's sister, Mrs. Susanna Moodie made a similar dismissal of the native culture in 1852, when she wrote:
"The unpeopled wastes of Canada must present the same aspect to the new settler that the world did to our first parents after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden; all the sin which could defile the spot, or haunt it with the association of departed evil, is concentrated in their own persons. Bad spirits cannot be supposed to linger near a place where crime has never been committed. The belief in ghosts (spirits), so prevalent in old countries, must first have had its foundation in the consciousness of guilt. "

The English poet Rupert Brooke (1887- 1915), was on the same wave-length as the Traill sisters. After briefly visiting Canada he wrote, "The maple and the birch conceal no dryads and Pan has never been heard among these reed beds. Look as long as you like [He was able to spare a few weeks.] and you shall not see a white arm in the foam. A godless place. And the dead do not return. That is why there is nothing lurking in the heart of the shadows, and no human mystery in the colours, and neither the same joy nor kind of peace in dawn and sunset that older lands know. It is, indeed, a new world. "

It must be remembered that Brooke represented the sentiments of a fading imperialist empire, and many Canadians of that time considered the Brits to have a superior grasp of reality.  It is harder to understand the motives of native born men and women who have promoted a similar image of Canada as a grey, unspirited wasteland. In 1948, Douglas Le Pan (1914-1998) published a thin book of poems, which included a poem entitled, "A Country Without Mythology." Hopefully he was decrying our lack of interest in the tales which comprise our myths, legends and history, but then he was a bureaucrat. Earle Birney (1904-1995), who suggested in 1962 that "it's only by our lack of ghosts we're haunted."  An odd statement considering the fact that he was raised on a remote B.C. farm.

Mi'kmaq birch-bark container maker at Shelburne, 2010. Speaking of the Wabenaki, a subset of the Algonquin confederacy, mythologist Charles Leland, a native of Philadelphia thought that the word signified white or light, pointing out the fact that they live nearest to the rising sun in the east. He noted that this group included the Mi'kimaqs of Nova Scotia and the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes of Maine, as well the St. Francis Indians of Canada and some smaller clans. He noted that a missionary among them, Abbe Millot had found that, "This country is one of the most suggestive of superstition I have seen. Everything here, sea, earth and heaven, is very strange."


Charles Leland added,"The Wabenaki mythology ... gave a fairy, an elf, a naiad, or a hero to every rock and river and ancient hill.... When the last Indian shall be in his grave, those who come after us will ask in wonder why we had no curiosity as to the romance of our country..." This hero of the resistance had broader interests than some of the above mentioned individuals and held many jobs. He was a journalist, a tradesman, a comic novelist, a collector of myths and folklore and an industrial art teacher who influenced the Art and Crafts movement in the United states. When he was in his 60s, he travelled in New England and wrote The Algonquin Legends of New England  in which he attempted to link Wabanki culture and history to the Norse. He has been criticized for bending the Wabenaki tales he collected to lend credence to his hypothesis.  Still, the collection has merit and the book is illustrated with birch bark engravings created buy a member of the First Nations. Above, a young woman takes up a dangerous relationship with one of the horned serpent people.

The Wabenaki god-hero, Kluscap (Liar) beats hell out of his evil twin brother Lox, seen here in wolverine form. They believed in an extensive system of spirits and spirit worlds. In Indian belief, those things which seem dead to us, rocks and trees are rather the living tombs of diverse beings and spirits. The geography was thus seen as completely animate, the strangest features of the landscape being regarded as particularly worthy of attention, and avoidance or placation with gifts. In the old tales, unusual trees, mountains, deep clefts, and unusual boulders were all considered as possible incarnations or reincarnations of forceful shape changers or spirits.  At right Charles in his "dotage" when a good deal of time can be wasted c
oncerning the unseen world and the veil separating the quick from the dead.

The Europeans  did not leave folklore behind as those conservative sisters suggested. They were educated women! Among the aboriginals, whirlpools, waterfalls, rapids, giant waves and other great races of water were considered to be incarnate sea-spirits which clustered about peculiar configurations of the sea-bottom.

Rod's photo of Old Town Lunenburg Pioneer Cemetery. The Celtic people's beliefs were similar. Their god, Manan mac Ler, was rarely seen in human form but the men, who defended ancient Ireland swore that they sometimes saw him travelling inland from the open sea in the form of a huge wave driven by three, centrally connected, turning legs. Islands on the ocean were sometimes seen as shape-changers which might become marine monsters from time to time. Unusual patterns or colours on the surface of the sea were routinely avoided because they suggested something uncanny just below the surface. Black patches on the sea were particularly avoided as supernatural "evil islands." My , on both sides of the family, were dicey on the subject of the supernatural but accepted a medley of superstitions from both here and there.

Same cemetery and photographer.  Of the various things in earth-world, stones are considered the most elemental by the People of the Dawn, being referred to in all mythology as "the bones of the earth." Throughout the region, the men and women noticed that "living stones" betrayed their presence at dusk and dawn, by showing the same peculiar light as that which surrounded the bodies of men, other living animals, and certain plants (including most trees). It was believed that when shamans were being tracked they often hid themselves within stones, and were frequently brought down as a result of careless shape-shifting. If an arm or leg happened to be left unreformed, it could be struck off with a spear creating a trauma that would entrap the magician for a long time within his rock. Particularly large, overbalanced, or peculiarly striated or coloured stones were regarded with great suspicion, and men formerly collected bits of such stones, reasoning that possession of a fragment gave them control of the spirit of the whole.

Personally I have witnessed some strange stuff, which I would label as mispreception or a physical anomaly, until something more reliable comes along. Helen Creighton and her acolyte Clary Croft have both written about witchcraft, and Helen seems to have been a true believer when it came to most things considered fantastical.  It is all a good read and this theme has been selling books since the witch-burning days.  The supernatural a reputational minefield for academics and Leland stepped directly in the poop in 1899, when David Nutt released the above title. Leland had become president of the Gypsy Lore Society in 1888 when the book was published claimed that it embraced the traditional beliefs of Italian witchcraft as conveyed him in a manuscript provided by a woman named Maddalena, whom he refers to as his "witch informant." That is neither her nor there since it became the primary text backing Neopaganism half a century later.

Leland was a least a very interresting fellow. He may have been a committed believer in strangeness. like some other mythologists and folklorists.He told a story that shortly after birth his nurse took him to the family attic and performed a ritual involving a Bible, a key, a knife, lighted candles, money and salt to ensure a long life as a "scholar and a wizard".It was said that this foreshadowed his interest in folk traditions and magic. Who actually knows? Intelligent men, like Kluscap, can be great liars, just for the sheer fun of it! He also divined that "Life will be lengthened while growing, for thought is the measure of life." Self improvement is all very well, but why was he such a prolific recorder. It might be because he understood that human memory is fallible and fleeting, and all ends (as far a current reporters know) when the quick become dead.

"How do you remember to remember?" - Stephen King.  "Start with a blank canvas...it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color you can't remember. .. Pictures are magic you know." Making pictures can be time-consuming and Ruth does not trust her drawing skills and that is why she prefers alphabetical drawings on stickies as reminders. Over the decades pictures and the written word have served to correct faulty recall of times past. Sometimes we lie because we can't accurately recall the truth, although there are other reasons.

Stephen King has had one of his characters state, "Art is memory" and of course painting, drawing and writing are all art forms.  Pictures and words embedded on paper have  the capacity as another character say, 'to give you back your memory, and a person's memory is everything. Memory is identity. It's you."

One of my earliest diaries was entitled, "Painting Against the Tide," and I knew there was a outgoing tide for all humans as a result of a 14-month fight against tuberculosis in a sanatorium as a teenager. In his book, Duma Key, which I have been quoting, King has his main protagonist wryly comments concerning a friend: "I never saw the man himself again. He died of a heart attack two months later, in Tamazunchale's open-air market, while dickering for fresh tomatoes.

"I thought there would be time, but we always think stuff like that, don't we? We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living?" And sometimes we do? "Know when you are finished, and when you are, put your pencil or paintbrush down. All the rest is only life, February 2006 - June 2007."

Getting back to basics, how sharp are you? Which bird is the combination of all colours and which the lack thereof?  There will be a test at the end of the semester.  The difference is that Memory is entirely the resurrection of time which is past. Thought can centre on past, present or future time, and can consist of unimportant wool-gathering, or the generation in the brain of an idea, notion, opinion, view, impression, feeling, theory, judgment, assessment, or conclusion. Any of these can be as misconceived as memory. "Though thinking is an activity considered essential to humanity, there is no consensus as to how we define or understand it."

Trouble is it is not just "great drinkers" who think themselves "great men." "Great thinkers" also think they have the best ideas. Again, this is a case where there is no consensus concerning what constitutes rational thought. Entrepreneurs, fixated on the bottom line, may for example, see trees a resource needing exploitation. Now, that's a thought?

Ecologists don not think that trees are a like Mhorrigan the renewable virgin and fear that a livable habitat for human life may be lost.  In their case, a healthy. mixed forest has sometimes become no more than a memory of better times. Our remote ancestors did not have the information technology to judge between good and bad ideas. Intelligent people can fall on either side of the quarrels generated by human inaction in the face of serious problems. consensus has not been reached when it comes to facing unfortunate truths.

It approaches Samhuinn as I insert these final three photographs of Mahone Bay on another sunny but cooling day. It is now 2:45 pm and dusk falls upon this tiny village at 6:38 pm. The Celtic New Year will not be rung in, but I know that there will be activities tonight. I've seen some of them in times long past, without having participated. Leaves have been scurrying.

Frost is not impending any more, but only the hostas are a wipeout and there are a few leaves left on trees. Maples are mostly gone but oak leaves are still green.

In short, the tourism season is over. However, crowds will return for the Father Christmas Festival at the end of November, and early December.

Like some other animals our ancestors were scatological thinkers and some remain so. This decoration still stands before the Bank of Nova Scotia in Mahone Bay.

Here's to Samhuinn!  "Prepare to be amazed!" That's a final Stephen King quote.

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