Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Scotland's Whirling Goddess or the Holy Grail?

Mr. Dan Brown, please pick up the red courtesy phone...

~Via the Scotsman

STARING into the terrifying thunderous tumult of the Corryvreckan whirlpool, it's easy to see why its sheer primal energy has fascinated people for centuries.

Now Edinburgh folklorist Stuart McHardy has suggested a startling new theory - that the awe-inspiring natural vortex between the islands of Scarba and Jura in Argyll and Bute was the true origin of the Holy Grail.

At its wildest, some say the whirlpool forms a spectacular swirling cauldron 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The cause is hidden beneath the waves – a giant rock pinnacle rising from the depths to within 95 feet of the surface. Water on the seabed is forced upwards when it hits the submerged rock, causing huge waves. The noise can keep the neighbours awake up to 20 miles away.

McHardy believes that the Corryvreckan was, for pre-Christian Picts, a "Mother Goddess" - the Mother of All Fertility Symbols.

"These ancient pagan tribes saw the whirlpool as a giant cauldron - or Grail - of rebirth," he says. "They believed it was the womb of all creation and could even awaken dead warriors. It was literally their Holy Grail."

In his new book On the Trail of the Holy Grail, McHardy writes that incoming Christian monks tried to erase all trace of this ancient way of thinking. They rewrote what they saw as dangerous pagan beliefs, downplaying the regenerative power of femininity, promoting the idea of a single, male God and disguised the religious significance of the whirlpool.

The final blow to the Old Religion is thought to have come from the legendary warrior Arthur, the hammer of the Picts.

Historian of the Clan Arthur, Hugh McArthur, believes a 10th century Welsh poem contains cryptic clues that reveal the Corryvreckan's central role in early stories about the Holy Grail. Preiddeu Annwnf (The Spoils of Annwn) describes how King Arthur and three boatloads of warriors sail to the Welsh Otherworld to steal a magical "cauldron of inspiration". Arthur's boats pass through the "gates of Hell" to Caer Sidi (the Fortress of the Fairies) but only seven of his force survive.

McArthur writes: "It is this successful but costly raid on the most unassailable fortress in Britain that made Arthur the living legend that he is today. Arthur overcame the challenge, he sailed over the dragon (whirlpool) to Hell's gate, assailed the mountain, slaughtered the pagans and returned triumphant with the hallowed pagan treasures, leaving an ancient religion reeling from a fatal blow."


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