THE MEIKLIAN TWILIGHT
by Kyle Noble
Foreword In my visual work I explore a fictitious prehistoric landscape. Through this text I have started to bridge the gap between the physical landscape of my home and the strong influence many books have made upon myself and the visual narrative I create. I have taken W.B Yeats' 'The Celtic Twilight' as an aesthetic template for this essay as every time I go home I take this book with me, to enhance my imagination for the wild wanders I love to take. I enjoy suspending judgement on what may be possible. I am interested in the way narrative forms a history. I am interested in how approved academic and pseudo scientific depend on stories to explain their theories. As Hayden White has said; 'stories are not lived; there is no such thing as a 'real' story. Stories are told or written, not found . And as for the notion of a true story, this is virtually a contradiction in terms.'1 Within this text I have utilised a narrative approach to art writing and have appropriated and adapted books into experiences and characters. Although stifled by word count I am confident that this approach has now become a strong element in my super fiction, The Meiklian Project.
Cronon, W citing White, H, The History and Narrative Reader, Routledge, 2001, p247
Contents This Book The Shire A Dig in the Woods The Ancients The Wooden Age Balgorkar The Goddess in the Landscape A Visit in the Wood The Sacred Mountain The Cult of the Faerie Fallen Angels
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Come, heart, where hill is heaped upon hill, For there the mystical brotherhood Of hollow wood and the hilly wood And the changing moon work out their will.
This Book What I aim to discuss in these pages are experiences that are concerned by matters of deep time, yet it is true that supernature has reared her omniscient head more than once. It is not as if every walk I have taken around my home in Aberdeenshire has been curious. However, I have gathered these memories to convey that I have had my fair share of strange meetings. When I look over my experiences during the many years I have been walking and photographing in these parts I have to admit that I have slipped into the chase of a peculiar nuance, that of something very old, mysterious and nearly forgotten.
The Shire I have lived in Aberdeenshire since my early teenage years. I live in a low basin known as the Vale of Alford which in summer is a lush, moderately flat farmed countryside. In winter, bitter winds blow from the north and snow shrouds the landscape until spring. The River Don flows eastwards from the highlands into this low lying valley encircled by small hills and then snakes its way passed Bennachie, the majestic mountain of our area and continues east towards the distant sea. The landscape holds countless monuments from its prehistory. Lone megaliths can be found on hill tops, in fields and forests. Massive stone circles with the unique design of a recumbent stone, command views in a south westerly direction of prominent hills, awe inspiring vistas and the setting of the winter solstice sun. It has been calculated that some of the largest stones weigh 50 tons, such scale draws our attention to the builder's skill and knowledge. There are scots pine, birch, larch and beech forests. Heather on the hills. Bogs in the lower plains. Roe deer roam at a distance, hares stare until disturbed, foxes and badgers live secret lives. Kestrels hover at road edges, buzzards watch silently from their territorial trees, geese land at winter and barn owl's black eyes reflect the onset of twilight.
A Dig in the Wood It began in Meiklemoss wood, I was on an evening jaunt through an outcrop of ancient woodland several fields from my house. I had been many times and knew my directions within the densest area of scots pine wood. I say dense however this is not the best description, it would be very deep and dense if a mysterious hidden field was not at its centre. As I gradually walked out of the near impenetrable deer tracked thickets and came to the clearing I was shocked to see across the field, a white open sided tent and several people stooped over the ground in a delicate manner. In the area where the wood is at its thinnest there has always been a large pile of round and squared granite stones. In old maps of the area a cottage can be seen at the edge of the wood and it was fairly clear that these chunks of rock were the broken remains of that dwelling. I decided to follow my instincts and go over to find out what was going on. Ten minutes or so later, I was near the activity and introduced myself. 'I live just down those fields', I said waving my hand in the northward direction. A few of them nodded and one man who seemed to be leading the work lowered his clipboard and introduced himself as James Capewell. I asked whether he could 'tell me what had been found?', he replied that 'the farmer had been clearing the stones from the foundations of the cottage and had found a shallow and sealed stone chamber beneath.' He continued and said that 'they had found a deer skeleton with scrimshaw like marks upon its surface'. 'But', he said in a somewhat confidential tone, 'these remains are very old indeed. Almost too old to be true'.
I thought about that for a second, as I tried to gauge what could be 'too old' for an archaeologist. 'Is what you've found here as old as the stone circles?' I asked Mr Capewell. 'Well yes, actually a lot older' he said looking over at his colleagues, 'we believe these remains to be almost 12 thousand years old'. He noticed my eyes widen at that. 'So you're interested in prehistory?' he asked. 'Certainly', I replied 'I'm aware of how rich this area is with it and I like to photograph it in my spare time. So what do these dates mean then? Is this big news?'. He look uncomfortable for a moment, 'well we are cautious to publish our findings unless we know for certain, otherwise it may be the end of my reputation. If this skeleton is truly as old as we think it is then the whole field of study here will have to be revised. I am personally optimistic that this may be the first evidence of the Meiklian culture.' I wondered about that for a moment and asked where he had got that name from. 'Meiklemoss Wood of course!' he replied warmly.
The Ancients I was out photographing under a full moon at Old Keig stone circle when I noticed a torch bobbing at the edge of the field. After five minutes or so it had made its way over and I gathered that its owner must be the farmer, the farm house is just down the hill. After nodding as if he approved of my photographic activities he casually started to talk of his late father in the soft country accent of Aberdeenshire. Gazing at the moon he said, â€˜Ma faether used te tell me o fit he'd heard aboot these stanes, bicause we hiv been fermin these perks fur as long as wi can mind. Aye aye it wis his faether at told hem and his faether afore at it told hem. He used tea say at knowledge wis alwise perfect or at least fooler or more pristine ken, in aye eh distant pastâ€™. He paused for a while and then focused on me to continue, 'On a locall level ye ken, the bided in a peacefool time and cood hink on monny a matter o mind fur monny generations'. 'Ma faether ayways said at the auld folk knew the naetures and properties o hings better en wi do noo, ken. And ma faether kent the woods and perks ay aroon these parts'. Ma faether ayways used to say at Auld Keig's stanes were part o mysteerious secrits o an art fit those alchemists hiv ayways tried to recover."
The Wooden Age Late one Thursday I was walking through the grounds of the Forbes estate searching for inspiration. I had just descended from a small hill on the western edge of Slack Wood through an emerald and lilac larch forest. The descent was steep and carpeted with browning ferns and broken branches. I got onto a muddy farm track and continued to walk down towards the Don river. I could hear the water's usual high tearing tinkles but as I drew near a harsher sound grew louder. It didn't sound good and by the time the path leveled out and continued towards the river I had decided that this was a terrible noise, it appeared to be coming from an old an rotting structure at the river's edge. It looked like a high walled wooden hut now slanting precariously due its decomposition. The noise, however, defied its mouldy old exterior with a low grinding and metallic screaming that made me feel very uneasy. I pulled myself together and climbed up to the badly boarded window. I peered into the darkness and could just make out an awful unnatural motion which I hoped was mechanical in nature, there was also the hunched form of what may have been a person in the gloom. I suddenly had an urge to beat the wall perhaps to see if the person was alright or perhaps to see if it was a person at all. Bang bang bang bang! The figure started up and made straight for the door and in the next moment he was turning the corner. I was bottomless with fright. He looked at me, his face old and cracked with melancholic wrinkles. He beckoned to move away with him from the horrible sounds. I asked him 'what on earth was going on down here and was he alright?', with wide and watering eyes he shouted that, 'he was alright except with the age and that he was channeling energy!' I relaxed a bit as I heard this as it seemed make more sense now, he was clearly using the river to generate something. I asked if this was the case but he shook his head and then looked 7
at me differently, almost as though he was summing me up. Then in a quieter and almost impatient way said that he was 'doing as the old folk had done', that he was 'focusing a certain energy that lay in the ground'. This was not what I was expecting and so I sort of blurted out 'like electricity?'. He looked pleased but then a bit wicked and impish and asserted that 'this was an older energy than that, more akin to the ancient druid's technology built into the prehistoric stone monuments'. He continued with a wry smile 'in fact through my research, I have come to the conclusion that the stones are artificial and quite brutal in character. For what I have uncovered', he said proudly, 'is far more ancient and subtle, it is the technologies of the great wooden age'.
Balgorkar Once when I was out photographing the moonlit stones at Balgorkar, I happened to see something as I looked indirectly at the large recumbent stone. I was just about to focus the camera when my eye caught, for a fleeting glimpse, what I can only explain as an ancient vista. The stone circle had become illuminated by transparent billowing curtains of deep tawny ochres, a light which suffused everything within it. For the briefest second I distinctly remember the shimmering forms of figures dancing around the circle at tremendous speed. A low chant could almost be made out. I gave a start as I noticed the centre of the circle had become a black abyssal elliptic void. I stood up straight, the vision dissipated in an instant and I was alone again on the silent moonlit hillside.
The Goddess in the Landscape One evening I met an artist at the edge of Slack Wood. He was wearing a deer stalker and tweeds and a bardic beard. He was perched on an old stone wall at the top of a lush summer green grassy field, with a good view of Bennachie which was now wrapped by a peach swathed evening sky. As I approached from the wood I could see that he was drawing and as I drew nearer I saw that he had rendered Bennachie in an almost wood grain style, I also saw to my vague amusement that there was a definite nipple on the penciled peak. I cleared my throat and said my greetings. He turned and smiled kindly, then nodded to his sketchbook and said 'I'm conducting a study on the best breast hills of Britain'. I was fascinated by this curious statement and we got into his thoughts on such matters. 'Oh aye... aye I grew up on Lewis for a time and over there megalithic structures are very prevalent and have remained almost un-spoilt. It seems that the landscape was seen as feminine, a reclining female even, called The Sleeping Beauty. A lot of the circles on Lewis are aligned to command particular views of her, but the clearest view is from the stones at Calanais.' I asked whether he thought she was beautiful?' To which he replied, 'Er... no they call her the Cailleach which translates to hag, she's the hag of the hills!'. I thought about what he had said for a moment and then realised I had been staring at his beautiful drawing I pulled the two together, 'So are you saying that Bennachie is also a feminine mountain?' I asked. 'Aye of course the 'chie' sound is spelt 'CĂŹche' in Gaelic which means breast. Beinn-na-Ciche means hill of the breast, this mountain has a goddess within, I have no doubt about it.' said the bearded bard.
A Visit in the Wood. Just two fields south and I am into the corner of Meiklemoss Wood. I always wish it went on for miles and I could lose myself in a fright filled panic. Only the darkness can do that there. Winter makes the animal tracks clear enough to follow. The gloom of the wood absorbs even my own rustling, or so I hope, this is Roe Deer territory and I always try to blend and flow along their tracks until I find them. I was once quietly sitting in the shadows of a great gnarled Scots Pine, gazing out at the fracturing sunlit detail of bent branches and gnarled aged trunks when out into a golden shard of light walked a stag. Perhaps five meters away it stood, majestic and glowing. I kept stone still with my heart thumping. His breath steamed from his nostrils, his root like antlers forked towards the cosmos, channeling time and space into an earth shattering experience. Time froze. The breath hung. My heart stopped. Awareness remained and a voice spoke from another world spoke, it told me that it was my spirit helper and then dragged me screaming into the Celtic void.
The Sacred Mountain One Sunday I went for a walk up Bennachie when I had a strange encounter. I was walking up the forestry commission path from the Don View car park when, after about half an hour, I was drawn off the path by a peculiar urge to walk down a corridor of densely growing pine. It can get so dark in these tunnels and invariably pine branch claws manage to tear at ones face as you delve deep. Gradually it grew darker and colder. Off the path, black stagnant pools threatened to stink upon the disturber. On the path, the forest floor was a carpet of amber needles that felt like walking on a beasts back. It was dark then and it wasn't long before the demented jeers of irrational fear drew near. Shadowy Specters loomed, foul winged things scampered in the murks of the wood. I continued for what felt like another ten minutes or so in near blackness, feebly swatting away my phantoms with dry slaps of fleeting rationality. Then suddenly, the path through the trees curved sharply to the right. At the end of this new corridor I could faintly see the dull blue hues of on setting night, how long had I been wandering? I wondered. As I got to the edge of the pine tunnel I realised there rose a very steep incline which, as difficult as it looked, seemed to be the only way forwards. I also realised I had no idea where I was and this alarmed me. I scanned around and spotted a deer track winding its way up the steep face and after twenty minutes or so was quite exhausted from picking along narrow ledges and clinging to the faces of a few massive jutting granite erratics. As I half pulled my way up to a pronounced ledge I gave a start, for there was a woman staring straight at me. Owl like in the now dark blue gloom. I stammered out a 'hello' whilst quickly trying to look all caught up in some brambles on the ledge below. 'Are you aware of the implications of the path you 12
have taken?' asked the wide eyed woman. I didn't quite know what she meant. I suspected it was more than the obvious but I said it slowly anyway, 'That it's a rather steep and dangerous trail?'. I had time to look at her now, what she was wearing seemed quite unusual, a dark grey cloak and she looked quite old with a large and wrinkled face. Her hair, which was grown long, looked more like the roots I had just pulled myself up from. Yes, there was certainly something about her that appeared wild, with those wide and infrequently blinking eyes. A Watcher. 'This path is arduous and fraught with perils, because it is a rite of passage from profane to the sacred' she said. I was startled by this strange language. 'Eh...isn't this just an animal path?' I asked, 'I was sure I was following a deer track and as for perils its hardly a cliff is it?' as I said that I looked back down into the cavernous dusk and realised it was quite a convincing precipice from this angle. 'Ah yes just an animal path, like Bennachie is just any old hill!' she jeered, I didn't enjoy the way she was relishing those 'justs'. 'But if you acknowledge the symbolic world then this hill, Bennachie becomes the highest point on earth, the Sacred Mountain where heaven and Earth meet!' she uttered. Heaven and Earth? What was she saying all this for? I was starting to feel quite helpless. I attempted to reason with her, 'Surely Everest is that mountain if such a mountain exists? Or at least Ben Nevis ? She looked pityingly at me and peeled, 'Can you see Everest?! Can you see Ben Nevis?! This is about what is within your locality. This is about what is relative to you. For the old ones these matters were of great importance.' I was greatly shaken by that and I realised then that I had stumbled into the path of a keeper of 'knowledge'. In a thin voice I asked, 'so what your saying is that for the old ones, Bennachie was the sacred mountain?'. She nodded and then said 'it was the centre, the zone of the sacred, the zone of absolute reality'.
The Cult of the Faerie. One evening in November I went up to Loan Hill of Daviot stone circle. I had taken some stunning photographs and was walking back through the mottled monochromatic murk of the forest path. It was windy and the leaves rattled in their thousands with high white drones. But something was unusual, there was another sound. I thought it was the dull howls of wind on telephone wires but I noticed it was coming from behind me and I knew there were no cables nearby. I turned and saw through the knotted veil of wooden trunks something which made my heart skip a beat. For there, flickered a vision so ancient and occult that it was truly terrible to behold. Moonlit silver cloaked figures surrounded the ancient stones. Otherworldly scintillating symbols of amethyst purple and velvet green enmeshed the very fabric of the air. My breath felt like it was full of those enchanted trembling webs mingling with my bronchioles until neither in nor out felt like movement. And then the final sights with no means of stopping them flooded my consciousness, making my knees give way. I fell to the ground shaking with dread, comprehending what I had just so fleetingly seen. For there in the centre of the circle around which the cloaked figures stood, had hung the dread-deluging sight of an awful omnipresent form, the structure of it so petrifying , for there hovered in the centre of that horrific circle, the Sidhe! the Celtic Faerie!
Fallen Angels Two years ago in May I was walking up a thin beech forest up to Cothiemuir Wood in the early evening when I bumped into a woman and her dog, a collie. She seemed quite excited and I could tell she wanted to talk so I slowed my pace. She said she had 'just been up to the stone circle and discovered a group of archaeologists ending the days dig'. She had 'noticed an elated mood about them and asked what they had found.' They said that they 'had found a bronze cube in the foundations under the recumbent' she said enthusiastically. I remarked in a friendly fashion that this was 'hardly surprising as, as far as I knew the stones were bronze age'. With a satisfied look on her face she smiled and said 'Ah... but they said that this bronze cube directly relates to repeated markings on the Meiklian cow skull found last year!'. I was stunned, this meant a people had been here in Aberdeenshire for 12,000 years or more and to think that they had invented such technology so early. I said this, to which she replied 'what makes you think they had not been taught such knowledge?. 'Taught?' I asked baffled. 'The markings on the artifact found in Keelinhead Wood certainly depict another race. You should read the old religious texts who talk of fallen angels, those texts say that angels had instructed mankind in such techniques as metal-working, interpretation of the stars and magicâ€™ she said reverently. Feeling puzzled I asked 'Weren't these religions all founded in the middle east?'. Again with that strange satisfied look she said, 'that is where those legends came to rest but think about how old all of this may be. Think about it, perfect metal cubes 12,000 years ago, bone artifacts covered with picture and stories of beings from the sky, transferring previously unknown knowledge, it all adds up right?'. I was not convinced but as time has passed, I am now inclined to believe her and the strange rumors one hears in passing. 15
Into the Moonlight Frosted ice nature, left alone for ancient ages Deep translucent films, light year abyssal void Great grey granite portals yawning from forgotten time The lunar disk remembers, illuminating silver and orbital The earth is frozen, crystallized crust of aged mountain Suns burn and they are countless, white hot shimmering pins Silhouettes of a humans past stand timeless Their roof spins, infinite specks each one another solar system The stones will stay until aeons blows them away
Short Story Bibliography Foreword The History and Narrative Reader, Editor G, Roberts , Routledge, 2001 Poem excerpt from 'Into the Twilight', Yeats, W.B, The Celtic Twilight, Cardinal Books, 1999 The shire Welfare, A, Great Crowns of Stone, Nicholson and Bass, 2011 The Ancients: Knight, C and Lomas, R, Uriel's Machine, Arrow Books, 2000 Roberts, G, The Mirror of Alchemy, The Britsh Library, 1994 Lewis-Williams, D, The Mind and The Cave, Thames and Hudson, 2004 Hancock, G, Supernatural, Arrow Books, 2005 Wooden Age Lethbridge, T.C, The legend of the Suns of God, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1972 Lovecraft, H.P, The Colour Out of Space, Penguin Books, 2011 Balgorkar Lovecraft, H.P, The Colour Out of Space, Penguin Books, 2011 The Goddess in the Landscape Shaw, N, Nemeton,Nemeton Publishing, 2010 a visit in the wood
Eliade, M, Shamanism-Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy, Routledge, 1964 Hancock, G, Supernatural, Arrow Books, 2005 The Sacred Mountain Eliade, M, The Myth of the Eternal Return, Princeton University Press, 1974 The Cult of the Faery Lovecraft, H.P, The Colour Out of Space, Penguin Books, 2011 Evan-Wentz, W Y, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, Waking Lion Press, 2000 Fallen Angels Sitchin, S, Genesis Revisited, Harper Collins, 1990 Vallee, Passport to Magonia, Contemporary Books, 1993 Von Daniken, E, Chariots of the Gods, Berkley Books, 1968