And I saw in those days how long cords were given to those angels, and they took to themselves wings and flew, and they went towards the north.
And I asked the angel, saying unto him: ' Why have those (angels) taken these cords and gone off? ' And he said unto me: ' They have gone to measure.' - The Book of Enoch
The Long and Winding Road
Earth Mysteries, a term coined in the early 1970s, is today used to describe a multi-disciplined approach to the study of ancient megalithic sites and landscapes, a wide variety of unexplained phenomena across the planet, including ancient anomalies, alignments, crop circles, ancient earthworks, standing stones, holy wells, mazes and labyrinths, terrestrial zodiacs, folklore and folk customs, UFOs, ghosts, psychic archaeology and other related paranormal matters. This list is not exhaustive by any means; generally anything outside the norm is acceptable for study. Falling largely outside the accepted range of mainstream research, Earth Mysteries are generally regarded with suspicion by scholars and ignored by orthodox science, which makes it so much more appealing to many; we are not tied in a box but, by necessity, we are always thinking outside it. Not confined by text book teachings, followers are free to think and operate beyond the constraints of academia.
Earth Mysteries is denied as a discipline altogether by some and considered by others to begin with the antiquarians John Aubrey and William Stukeley. Aubrey, carried out much field-work at Avebury and Stonehenge and recorded notes on many ancient sites, including Wayland's Smithy. Aubrey is also remembered for his inclusion in his plan of Stonehenge in his "Monumenta Britannica", recording a series of depressions immediately inside the enclosing earthwork of the henge. Curiously, Stukeley does not mention them in his painstaking examination of the site, and it was not until more recent excavations undertaken in 1921-25 by the Society of Antiquaries that they were found to be holes cut in the chalk, thought to hold timber uprights. A total of 56 holes were discovered and named the 'Aubrey holes' in honour of John Aubrey's observation. These holes are now recognized as belonging to the first phase of the monument's construction.
Whereas the likes of Aubrey and Stukeley were what could be considered as perhaps the first archaeologists, the modern Earth Mysteries movement has always been at odds with academics owing to the lack of hard evidence supporting their heterogeneous interests. Considered as peripheral or extreme in relation to the approach to archaeology and related matters, regarded by many as the ‘lunatic fringe’ owing to reliance on the ley line as the centre pivot of the quest for alternative explanations to anomalous occurrences. This has attracted labels such as pseudo-science and pseudo-archaeology to describe Earth Mysteries by many scholars who attempt to discredit these alternative theories by a process known as ‘debunking’; using science to intentionally exposing claims as being false, exaggerated or pretentious
The Long and Winding Road
In September 1870 William Henry Black gave a talk to the British Archaeological Association entitled ‘Boundaries and Landmarks’ in which he speculated that "Monuments exist marking grand geometrical lines which cover the whole of Western Europe". Black had studied roman roads during the 19th century acquiring considerable expertise on the subject and had pursued his studies for fifty years before releasing his theory that he had uncovered a whole system of ‘grand geometric lines’ which ran across Britain and Europe. Black suggested these lines linked major landmarks in a precise manner, often defining the boundary markers of counties.
Fifty years later, in 1921, Alfred Watkins (1855–1935), had noticed that several hilltops with ancient ruins on them in Herefordshire formed straight alignments. He noticed other occurrences where ancient sites, standing stones, and burial mounds were aligned, appearing so as to criss-cross the countryside. He called these alignments "leys" and published his findings in two publications, 'Early British Trackways' 1922, and ‘The Old Straight Track’, in 1925. Watkins, however, believed that these alignments were intended as trade routes; a straight line being the quickest way to move between trading centres. Watkins formed the Straight Track Club to further study these associations with megalithic sites. This theory of ley lines criss-crossing the landscape seemed to be along a similar theme to Black’s earlier speculation of the geometrical lines, adding further speculation that the ancient structures of Great Britain were specifically built to a deliberate design. In 1935, Watkins died, and in 1948, with a shrinking membership, the Straight Track Club disbanded.
A year after Watkins death, in 1936, British occultist Dion Fortune, wrote a fictional book called The Goat-Foot God in which she used the idea that ley lines were corridors of mystic power connecting megalithic sites such as Avebury and Stonehenge in southern England. Fortune had lived at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, although a mystical centre even then it was hardly the New Age town it came to be in the late 1960’s.
If any one place epitomises the modern Earth Mysteries movement then it has to be the Somserset town of Glastonbury with its legends concerning the burial of Joseph of Arimathea and the two "cruets" containing the blood and sweat of Christ in 63AD and the exhumation of King Arthur in 1191AD. The mysticism of the new Avalon continued into the 20th century when discovery in 1906 at St Bride's Well of a blue glass bowl by Wellesley Tudor Pole after he received a vision suggesting that a holy vessel was to be found in a local well, which baffled British Museum experts and led to speculation that it was the Holy Grail.
Shortly after, in 1908, Frederick Bligh Bond was put in charge of excavations of Glastonbury Abbey and over a period of ten years excavated and restored the ground plan of the Abbey at a fantastic pace. Seemingly without using traditional methods of archaeology, Bligh Bond accurately marked out the next areas for excavation, uncovering the floor plan of the abbey, a huge building nearly 600 feet in length, the missing Edgar Chapel and Loretto Chapel. The authorities were amazed the speed and accuracy of Bligh Bond’s findings leading to speculation that he possessed a copy of the original plans. Then in 1918 Bligh Bond disclosed the source of his information, when he published the book "The Gate of Remembrance" in which he revealed that he and his associate, John Alleyne (pen name of Captain John Allan Bartlett), had been in contact with the spirit of a deceased monk through automatic writing during séances. The revelations eventually led to Bligh Bond’s sacking and he went onto to lecture in America and edit Psychic Science magazine and later Survival, the journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.
In an earlier work, Avalon of the Heart, (1930) Dion Fortune recorded that while living in the shadow of the Tor, Bligh Bond’s daughter Mary suddenly started to produce automatic drawings. She had never received any training but drew remarkable anatomically accurate depictions of the human form. But these drawings were far from human, strange ethereal forms of nature spirits and demons adorned the walls in the cottage on the Shepton Mallet road she shared with her father. Mary Bligh Bond recorded her psychic experiences in the book ‘Avernus’, published in 1924. In mythology Avernus is the name of a lake near Cumae in Italy, and was believed by the ancients to be the entrance to Hades, the underworld, through Virgil’s Sixth Book of the Aeneid.
(Left) Lake Avernus Aeneas and the Cumaean Sibyl, c.1814-5, by J M William Turner.
At the beginning of the 20th Century the 'High History of the Holy Grail' or the ‘Perlesvaus’ was translated into modern English, and in 1929 Katharine Maltwood, a fine artist, was commissioned to illustrate a Map for the book, to illustrate where the 'Knights of the Round Table' travelled on their Quests. The anonymous author of Perlesvaus told how Joseph of Arimathea collected the Holy Blood of Christ at the Crucifixion and was later imprisoned by the Jews. This was a continuation of the theme started in Robert de Boron’s 12th Century poem Joseph d'Arimathie which tells of the removal of the Grail from the Holy Land to Britain and the preparation for Perceval's as keeper of the Grail. The story Christianised Chrétien's pagan graal as the cup of the Last Supper. Traditionally, on escaping from prison Joseph travelled to Britain and set up the first Christian church at Glastonbury where he became the ancestor of an unbroken line of valiant knights. Some geographical references in the text are so direct that when carefully examined seem to accurately describe the Glastonbury landscape, leading to the claim that the Perlesvaus, or at least its prototype, must have been composed at Glastonbury. A Fragment of the Perlesvaus manuscript has been found at Wells Cathedral which adds credence to this claim.
As the Perlesvaus would appear to be based on the Somerset countryside, centred around Glastonbury, it seemed logical for Maltwood to research her map in the same area. After studying local maps and commissioning aerial photographs, Maltwood made the discovery that of the Glastonbury Zodiac, a giant Zodiac drawn into the Somerset landscape which she went onto to describe fully in her book ‘Glastonbury’s Temple of the Stars’ in 1935. The stimulus of interest in the mysterious landscape was pushed onto the back-burner with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, but there was a new mystery in the skies which would ultimately lead to its resurrection.
Part II - The New Mythology
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