Kildare

The word Kildare is derived from the pagan name Cill-Dara, meaning the Church of the Oak. Kildare was a famous pagan sanctuary where a sacred fire burned for centuries into the Christian era. In a clear act of assimilation, the tradition of 19 virgins keeping the fire alive carried on until 1220, when the archbishop of Dublin finally had it ordered extinguished. In 1993, the flame was re-lit and has been burning ever since. Brigid's Fire House is located in the churchyard of Saint Brigid's...

Galicia region

In the far-western Galicia region of Spain is a mystical land which long predates the Christian era. The countryside of Galicia features impressive megalithic dolmens, menhirs, and cromlechs dating from the era of Britain's Stonehenge and France's Carnac. The original settlement of Santiago de Compostela fascinated pagans, similarly to the way the city later attracted medieval Christians, who made countless pilgrimages there to honor the remains of Saint James the Apostle. .Another term for...

Megalithic ritual sites

The word megalith derives from the Greek word meaning great stone. Ireland contains a vast number of megalithic monuments that were used in ancient times as ritual areas. There are about 1,200 megalithic structures scattered around the 32 counties of Ireland. Megalithic ritual sites include dolmens (single large chambers), crannogs (artificial islands), barrows (passage tombs), clochans (beehive huts), cairns (mound of stones covering a dolmen), court cairns (gallery with side chambers),...

Governmental status under Greek sovereignty It is the oldest monastic republic still in existence

The first monks to inhabit the Holy Mountain were Eastern Orthodox hermits who withstood extreme austerities. The monks started to attract other hermits, who in time became organized enough to establish their own monasteries. The monastic rule of Athos was officially established in 963 CE, when a monk named Peter the Athonite started work on the Monastery of the Great Lavra. At its peak there were 300 monasteries on Mount Athos while, today, only 20 self-governing monasteries remain. Of the 20...

Brattahild

Around the year 960 ce, a boy named Erik the Red and his father, Thorval, were involved in a murder. Both were forced to leave their home in southern Norway and, like so many Scandinavians before them, found a new home in Iceland. Erik inherited his father's temper and he committed two murders in Iceland around the year 985. The Iceland parliament banished him from the island for three years. With nowhere else to live, Erik went in search of a western land, which had been reported by a wayward...

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Mont Saint Michel and the Saint Michaels Line

The most famous sacred site on the Normandy coast, just where it joins the peninsula of Brittany, is the island monastery of Mont Saint Michel, an extraordinary Gothic abbey complex that crowns a steep rock pinnacle. According to Celtic mythology, the sea-surrounded outcropping was a primary ocean tomb where recently deceased souls were conveyed to the afterlife. The first chapel on the mass of granite was built in 708 ce for Saint Michel and quickly became the goal for Christian pilgrims all...

Viking Parliament althing

The first Viking colonizers landed at the southwestern tip of Iceland called Vestmannaeyjar, or the isles of men of the west, an archipelago of 13 small islands. When the first colonizers landed in 874 ce, Iceland was one of the world's last large uninhabited islands. In one of the greatest migrations ever recorded, 70,000 Vikings relocated to Iceland in less than 60 years. In the year 930 ce, the Norse had established one of the first parliaments in the world the althing or assembly place,...

Bibliography

Adams, Russell B., Series Director, Mystic Places Mysteries of the Unknown. Alexandria, VA Time-Life Books, 1987. Armstrong, Karen, A History of God. New York, NY Ballantine Books, 1993. Childress, David Hatcher, Anti-Gravity amp The World Grid. Stelle, IL Adventures Unlimited Press, 1995. Dillard, Annie, The Wreck of Time Taking Our Century's Measure. Harper's, New York , January 1998. Judge, Michael, The Dance of Time The Origins of the Calendar. New York, NY MJF Books, 2004. Metzner, Ralph,...

Iceland

The Scandinavian country of Iceland is aptly named because one-eighth of the island's surface area is covered by glaciers. It is also the land of fire, as Iceland has dozens of active volcanoes and more than 200 steam vents. In 1963, off the coast of Iceland, submarine volcanism gave birth to the new island called Surtsey. Iceland continues to grow as new magma is emplaced underground and lava erupts on the surface. Sometimes the active volcano surrounds an ice cap, as is the case with...

The famous Externsteine bas relief of Christ being lowered from the cross also displays pagan imagery

Charlemagne forbade the Saxons to use the site for pagan ceremonies any longer. Because the site was so close to Aachen, and because Charlemagne was on a crusade to extinguish paganism in his homeland, the site was completely denuded of all original buildings and non-Christian references. All that remains from the earliest era are carefully drilled holes, stairs that lead to dead ends, and platforms that seem to serve no purpose. Only recently have some of the pieces come together to suggest an...

Getting to Medjugorje

Most pilgrims arrive by plane at the Split Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia, transferring by private coach to the village of Medjugorje. Sarajevo is 84 miles 140 km northeast, Split is 96 miles 160 km west, and Dubrovnik is 90 miles 150 km south from Medjugorje. The ride from any of the 3 cities takes about 3 or 4 hours. The once small and quiet Herzegovina village has been transformed into a booming shrine town replete with gift shops, religious-themed restaurants, and dozens of tourist motels. In...

Zhirovitchy

Despite a troubled history, the monastery complex of Zhirovitchy remains one of the most venerated religious centers in Belarus. Its prize possession is a holy icon called the Mother of God, dating from the 15th century. The sacred image began attracting pilgrims and soon the monastery became the richest in all of Belarus, then part of Lithuania. Such notoriety attracted the attention of opposing religious factions in neighboring countries. The Orthodox monks were forced to defend their...

Skara Brae

Skara Brae Artifacts

The age-old settlement called Skara Brae is located adjacent to the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of mainland Orkney, off northern Scotland. The level of preservation is one of the finest for a Neolithic settlement and has thus earned the site a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. Until the 19th century, however, Skara Brae lay undiscovered, buried beneath the sand dunes near the bay. Rough seas and high winds in 1850 stripped away the grass, revealing several prehistoric structures. In 1924,...

Saint Winifreds Well

The multi-versioned legend of Winifred comes down from the 7th century. Winifred is also referred to as Gwenfrewi, Saint Gwenfrewy, Guinevere, Saint Winefride, or Winfred of Wales. All versions begin with a nearby prince named Caradog taking a liking to the beautiful Winifred. Caradog pursued her relentlessly, but she always resisted his advances. He was gravely displeased because her decision to become a nun would not allow her to marry him. In a fit of rage Caradog had her head severed. In...

Geoglyphs

The Cerne Abbas Giant

From the earliest recorded time humans have felt an intrinsic need to artistically create sacred images. Animals, either mythical or real, were common themes in prehistory. Sometimes the subject matter was a larger-than-life chieftain or a supernatural being with tremendous powers. Other times abstract or straight lines were represented. Subjects or symbols that seemed larger than life were created with a magical totem quality in mind. If the ground could be scraped away to reveal a different...

Acknowledgments

HIS WORK WAS GREATLY ENHANCED by the exceptional sugges tions from the following editors Lead Editor Jeff Curry, Edward Taylor, Martin Gray, Emiko Monobe, Shell Peczynski, and family members Elaine Olsen mother , Marshall Olsen father , his wife Susan, and Marsi Olsen sister . Book design and direction thanks from Mark Maxam and book cover assistance by Eric Stampfli. Additional support came from my uncle Bud Hausman and his wife Bonnie, who let me work at their summer home in Wisconsin, Joe...

Getting to Epidavros

The famous healing sanctuary is located on the eastern coast of the Saronic Gulf, just offshore the isolated Nea Epidavros Bay, on the Peloponnesian peninsula of Greece. The famous theater, archaeological site, health spa, and religious center are concentrated about five miles 8 km west from the port town Epidavros also spelled Nea Epidavros or Epidauros . Buses ply the route to Epidavros every day via the Greek capital Athens or Nafplio, the nearest city in the vicinity. Motorists will find...

Getting to Einsiedeln

Einsiedeln is located 32 miles 40 km south of Z rich, with an impressive elevation difference of 1,550 feet 470 m . The town has a railway connection with Z rich and other large cities in Switzerland. It is situated not far from Lake Sihlsee in the foothills of the Alps. There are two main pilgrimage dates. September 14th is the anniversary of the miraculous consecration of Eberhard's basilica, and October 13th commemorates the transportation of Saint Meinrad's relics from Reichenau to...

Getting to Mount Athos

The Athos Peninsula, the easternmost leg of the larger Chalkidiki Peninsula, protrudes into the Aegean Sea for some 40 miles 60 km . Each monastery or cloister has a small harbor of their own to receive supplies by sea, but pilgrims must follow a strict protocol. Entry to the Holy Mountain is from the small port town of Ouranoupolis, from which special ferries go to Dafni, the entry point of the monk's republic. There is no land entry to Mount Athos all pilgrims must arrive by boat. In...