Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss

Following on from last weekend’s posts on poetry I am sharing two more on the subject from Paul Andruss in 2017.

William Blake A Man Born Before his Time by Paul Andruss

Ancient of Days (Frontispiece from Europe a prophecy- Blake)

William Blake 1757 –1827 is best remembered for lines from a handful of poems.


And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?

The Tyger

Tyger, Tyger burning bright,
 In the forests of the night;

Auguries of Innocence

To see a world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand
and eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all of heaven in a rage

The Sick Rose –   

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm…
  Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy

William Blake 1757 –1827

William Blake was born in 1757 to English Dissenters who had separated from the Church of England over State interference in religious matters. At the age of 10, he had his first brush with the spiritual and mystic realm that came to dominate his life, experiencing a vision of a tree full of angels on Peckham Rye Common. Blake continued to have visions throughout his life.

Around this time his parents sent him to drawing classes. When the young Blake developed a preference for engraving, his father apprenticed him at 14 to a print-maker. As a printer and engraver Blake was able to print his own poetry books illustrated with hand-painted watercolours.

Dismissed as idiosyncratic, his genius was ignored during his lifetime. An exhibition of his paintings was poorly attended and the only review hostile. In his twilight years Blake gathered a small group of disciples who kept his flame flickering until his biography in 1865 introduced him to the poet Swineburne, luminaries in the Arts and Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Pre-Raphaelite revival during the hippy era ensured Blake’s rediscovery. His unique artistic style and mystical poems struck a chord with a generation yearning for spirituality. Today he is chiefly remembered for his hand-tinted etchings and two collections of illustrated poems: Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794).

A large part of his work languishes unknown. These are his visionary books, a series of almost incomprehensible interrelated illustrated poems. Described by Blake as prophetic and apocalyptic, they show him to be a revolutionist.

A prophet is not a fortune teller but someone God uses as a mouthpiece. For Blake, God was the embodiment of natural truth and justice, while the church was no better than the Biblical Great Whore.

Babylon the Whore mounted on the Great Beast from Revelation (Blake)

In the Greek, Apocalyptic means to uncover or reveal; accounting for the Apocalypse of St John’s other name: the Book of Revelation. Having said that in Blake’s day the word meant the same thing we understand today: the end times. Yet in Revelation, when the old world is swept away, the righteous inherit New Jerusalem. Rather than the penalty of sin, it is the harbinger of heaven on earth.

Blake may have deliberately sheathed his work in allegory because his radical political views were considered treasonable. He was tried for sedition in 1803 after an altercation with a soldier where the old man was supposed to have cried out: ‘Down with the King!’ He was acquitted.

Blake was an advocate of the Free Love Movement, which wasn’t about throwing your car keys into a fruit bowl – I’m pretty sure Mrs Blake would have had something to say about that. Rather it espoused the political equality, and social and sexual freedom of women. It also advocated the removal of all laws against adultery, homosexuality and prostitution. And was the director ancestor of the Suffragettes and Family Planning.

Blake believed marriage was slavery. This was a time when marriages were often arranged. A woman was required to be obedient and subservient to her husband. Her wealth became her spouse’s on marriage. More or less considered her husband’s property, she was obliged to fulfil his needs and condemned to perpetual pregnancy.

It wasn’t until over a century later, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth Control Clinic in New York City in 1921. The police closed it down. A year later, Marie Stopes – scientist, academician, campaigner and author of the best-selling female sexual health manual, Married Love – opened a Birth Control Clinic in West London that fared better.

Blake was an admirer of the radical English philosopher Thomas Payne whose work ‘The Rights of Man’ played a significant role in the American Revolution and provided the blueprint for The American Constitution and The Bill of Rights. He also admired the French Philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who most famously said: Man is born free and is everywhere in chains. He may have even met Rousseau during his exile in London during the 1760s.

England was the birthplace of revolution. In 1215 King John capitulated to the barons in the Magna Carta. In the 1649, Parliament executed King Charles who believed he was directly appointed by God. In 1688, the Glorious Revolution saw Parliament overthrow of the Catholic sympathiser James II in favour of a restricted monarchy by his daughter and her husband: William and Mary.

Yet, the American Revolution was viewed as a unique and radical event in that it enshrined the rights of citizens and created an egalitarian society. Although women were not in actuality much better off, the ethos of Revolutionary Motherhood gave women a say in rearing their children and eroded the patriarchal rights of paterfamilias. Marriage focused on love and affection rather than wifely obedience; allowing the next generation to choose their spouses and use birth control.

Educated in the newly translated Greek classics, and struggling to shake off the last shackles of absolutism in religion and politics, Europeans looked on the American Revolution as a renaissance of (in their idealised view) ancient Athens: the birthplace of democracy (rule of the common people). That was in fact a slave owning society that denied rights to women.

America a Prophecy Frontispiece (Blake)

In ‘America a Prophecy’ Blake lauds America for overthrowing tyranny, considering it a beacon of liberty and equality. In ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’, he has the women of England look to America, where he believes all discrimination one day will end and where they will receive equal rights.

From the Visions of the Daughters of Albion (Blake)

Blake created a whole mythology around his romanticised version of England. He renamed the country Albion, after a giant who settled here island and whose sons and daughters inhabited it for a thousand years until Brutus came from Troy… the story which begins Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History of the British Kings’.

Blake was very much in tune with contemporary historical ideas when he created his mythology, borrowing heavily from the Bible, including the newly translated excluded books, fragments of classical myth and medieval works such as Geoffrey of Monmouth and the ancient Welsh Black Book of Carmarthen and Red Book of Hergest.

As with all his work, at the heart of his mythology is a lament for the loss of the traditional rural past and a condemnation of the industrialisation and urbanisation ruining England’s once green and pleasant land. Blake’s poem Jerusalem (in full below) is a plea to end the madness of modernity and return to Eden, where Adam and Eve were equal.

It references the medieval story of Jesus visiting Glastonbury in England with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea. Christ’s presence made England a holy land; a New Jerusalem. Where, in the words of John Ball’s sermon preached 400 years earlier during the Peasant’s Revolt…

‘When Adam delved and Eve span who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men… I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty’

During his life Blake saw the agricultural villages and cottage industries that characterised Britain since the Middle-Ages, being overturned by farming machinery and more efficient practices requiring fewer workers. Common land was enclosed by landowners – preventing tenant farmers and smallholders the right to graze animals on common ground – denying an important source of additional income and effectively reducing them to servitude.

Abandoning the traditional way of life, the rural poor flocked to the newly expanding squalid overcrowded cities. Here they were forced to work long hours for little money and less consideration, as unskilled labour in the new steam powered manufactories – giving us the modern word factory.

Is it any wonder the French industrial poor threw wooden clogs into the machines that destroyed their livelihoods? The wooden clog or sabot gave rise to the name Saboteur.

Some analysts equate the ‘dark Satanic mills’ of Blake’s Jerusalem not with the new manufactories but the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford – spewing out the new-age men of science and engineering, and the clergy who enslaved Christ’s own Englishmen for the greedy landowner and fell industrialist.

Others, less given to allegory, point out he could be referring to Albion Flour Mills the first big factory in London, situated close to Blake’s house. When it burned down, possibly due to arson, a contemporary illustration showed the devil squatting over the burning building.

In 1776, France had helped the American Revolutionaries. This was more to piss off the English than for any genuine fellow feeling. The French Monarchy was far more totalitarian.

Thirteen years later it seemed only fair the Americans should in turn help the French Revolutionaries … despite their actions not displaying much gratitude to the French king. (In thanks, the French Republic later gifted America with the Statue of Liberty. Constructed by Gustav Eiffel, a copy gifted by America to France, stands in Paris not far from Eiffel’s Tower.)

With the French Revolution came another prophetic book ‘Europe a prophecy’, where Blake praised the French, as he had the Americans, for having the courage to do what the English would not: embrace liberty, fraternity and equality. This has led some to consider ‘The Tyger’ (in full below) a paean to the French Revolution.

Blake’s fervour is evident in lines like:

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

A reference to Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods, putting man above the rest of creation; which begs the question: if man is the pinnacle of creation why are some less than others?

And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand & what dread feet

The French Revolution began among the poor and disenfranchised – the labourer working with his hands to produce a wealth he does not share. His tools, used to make profit for others, will now smash his chains. Its revolutionary anthem was the marching song ‘La Marseillaise’’ calling volunteers from Marseilles to fight tyranny-

“To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let’s march, let’s march!
Let an impure blood
Soak our fields!”

The Tyger’s concluding lines can be simultaneously read in two contradicting ways.

Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Is Blake parodying his earlier poem The Lamb’ (from Songs of Innocence) with a jab at the complacent and long-suffering English working class; unfavourably compared to their French brothers?

In his complex mythology Blake thought Christ visited England. If Christ is the Good Shepherd; we are his flock. Unlike the tigers of France, Englishmen are content to be sheep and so he wonders: Is the god of universal justice, pleased to see his chosen people bought off by boiled beef and carrots?

By the time the poem was published in 1794, the ideals of the Revolution were lost to the Reign of Terror. Aristocrats and citizens alike where daily denounced and guillotined to the clack of les tricoteuses’ knitting needles. Worse the Terror played into the hands of the English Establishment who had always belittled the Revolution. The English press jocularly compared English Slavery to French Liberty in contemporary cartoons.

French Liberty and English Slavery (a satirical cartoon)

Because the Tyger is a savage beast who knows only how to destroy and devour, do we, in Blake’s last lines, hear his despair that man, by his very nature, is incapable of embracing the universal justice of brotherhood, equality and freedom?

End-piece to Jerusalem (Blake)


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

©Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up -Herbie Hancock, Gems from Your Archives and Talkative Parrots.

Welcome to the round up of posts on the blog you might have missed this week.

We currently have a digger in the back garden, a cement filled trench awaiting blocks for a retaining wall and mounds of earth, that I am sure will be turned into a wonderfully landscaped vista by the end of the week.. that’s the plan anyway.

I had to do a complete replant of my pots this week as the ones I bought from a supermarket as good value, turned out to be duds.. I did think when I put them in that they were too dry and watered them and gave them some feed but after two weeks of TLC… most had died. Anyway… I went to my usual garden centre and paid a bit more and they are all thriving. Just goes to show sometimes bargains do not work out. It is the first year out of about 50.. that it has happened so I should count myself lucky.. All the pots are round the side of the house at the moment with equipment coming in and out and I will have fun putting them back later in the week.

We have old friends arriving Tuesday for two days. They are currently touring south and west Ireland finishing in Dublin over the weekend before coming down to us.. we are only an hour from their return ferry so handy… This is their first time in Ireland and I am looking forward to hearing how they got on..

The Posts from Your Archives is going well. I am so enjoying browsing and reading everyone’s posts to select the four I am going to publish… I feel I am getting to know people a little better and I am discovering some hidden gems to share as you will see later in the post. If you are on the list and have not heard from me… I am just about to begin scheduling the June spots and will get in touch with dates shortly.. It looks like this series is going to run into July which is terrific.

Time to get on with the round up and as always I am very grateful for all the contributions, shares, likes and comments..

William Price King shares the music of American Jazz Pianist, Keyboardist, Composer, Band Leader and Actor Herbie Hancock.

Another two part series from Paul Andruss on Poetry… with some iconic examples from the masters.. According to the Muse….

This week I reviewed Devil in the Wind: Voices from the 2009 Black Saturday Bush Fires by Frank Prem.

This week in early June 1986 we drove the 7 hours to reach South Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico.. fabulous place (those shrimp were to die for) and also I up my exercise routine (makes my knees ache just reading about it!)

Delighted to welcome guest writer, singer/songwriter guitarist Michelle Monet to the blog today who explores the concept of fame and the inclusion of ‘big names’ in memoirs to catch the public’s eye.

Robbie Cheadle with a short story in response to one of Sue Vincent’s Photo Prompt Challenges  Memorandum left by Dr Thompson

Jacquie Biggar with a delicious recipe for soup that can be adapted for everyone’s tastes and would make a great starter or main course.


This week D.Wallace Peach back to nature, and if you think you have bats in your belfry… you might not be crazy.

photo by John Pearce via Flickr

Finance expert Sharon Marchisello shares some of the ways you can pay off your mortgage early.

Our resident foodie, Carol Taylor, shares the stray dog and welfare issues in Thailand and how one mum and her pups enters their lives


Miriam Hurdle takes us on a trip to Yellowstone National Park and Alaska with some amazing photography.


Pete Johnson, Beetley Pete, takes us on a ride in his time machine to ancient Rome.. where would you like to travel to.. the past or the future..

D. G. Kaye – Debby Gies has a wonderful book review feature every Sunday and here is an example where she reviews Midlife Cabernet by Elaine Ambrose.

This week I am sharing a guest post by author A.C. Flory from the archives of Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape.

A heartwarming and poignant short story from Darlene Foster…The Special Date.


Author Christine Campbell shares the first part of a tour of Scotland when she and family drove whilst her husband cycled from John O’Groats to Embo..

surf 1

Another wonderful episode in the linked flash fiction family saga.. The Fold by D. Avery

Charles Yallowitz takes a look at the art of ‘Banter’ the exchange between two people… usually comedic. The Art of Bantering: Not as Easy as You Think

This is the third post from author Jane Risdon and since you enjoyed the audition posts last week.. here is part two…The Auditions Part Two: Let’s Play Rock ‘n’ Roll by Zeppelin

Red Corvette rear end

This post by Mary Smith, illustrates that sometimes the hardest part of caring for a person who has dementia can be leaving them to have some much needed respite… even when they are never far from your thoughts.

October 2014 028-800

New Book on the Shelves

Author update #reviews


Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – According to the Muse (A monologue in 2 parts) Part Two – Born to Die by Paul Andruss

Time for another post  by Paul Andruss who gave us plenty to think about in terms of poetry in part one of According to the Muse yesterday: Part One

According to the Muse (A monologue in 2 parts) Part Two – Born to Die by Paul Andruss

Illustration by Donata Zawadzka

So saith the Muse: Now you see poetry lies in what is written, not how it is written, or even how it looks written, you understand poetry is no mere academic exercise but an irrepressible urge. A writer without passion is naught but a scribbler Pilgrim. Artists have no choice but to strive, for poetry is the soul. And shall I tell you what lies in a poet’s soul?

Pilgrim: No! No you’re ok… That was lovely thanks, but I’ve gotta get…

Muse: It’s a rhetorical question. This is a never-to-be-repeated offer: a lesson from the Muse. You’ll get such a sip from the cauldron of inspiration it will blow your socks off and you’ll never look at a poem in the same way again. And that, my boy, is the first step to becoming a poet.

Pilgrim: Alright then, hit me.

Muse: And don’t think I won’t!

You may believe poetry is all unicorns and rainbows. Wrong. Poetry is fear. Man did not invent poetry Pilgrim. Poetry was birthed in forgotten aeons before man was dragged up from the apes to stand beside the angels. Poetry always existed, unknown and unshaped. Man merely gave it voice, words and reason.

Stripped of language, culture and intellect, poetry is the primal scream of naked panic at descending darkness. Poetry comes from the blind abject terror of believing unless you beseech the gods correctly the sun will not rise tomorrow; the rains will not fall; spring will not come; plants will not grow and the herds will not return.

Predators in Africa make more kills during the new moon. On moonless nights, lion attacks on humans increase threefold. It is not lunacy driving the wolf to howl at the full moon, it is a poetic lament for an empty belly. Does it surprise, man also sings to the goddess Moon and her daughter the hearth fire to keep him safe?

Unlike animals, man knows he is mortal. It drives the two warring forces in his soul. Eros, or lust, is the will to survive no matter what, to seek communion, to create life and art. Thanatos is chaos, death, war, melancholia, and fear.

Man is not simply afraid of death. He dreads when and how it comes. He frets if and how he will be remembered. He believes his only choice is dying ignominious and forgotten, or departing in a blaze of glory.

She died in the upstairs bedroom
By the light of the ev’ning star
That shone through the plate glass window
From over Leamington Spa

Beside her the lonely crochet
Lay patiently and unstirred,
But the fingers that would have work’d it
Were dead as the spoken word.

 Death in Lemington – John Betjeman:

It is not bad. Let them play.
Let the guns bark and the bombing-plane
Speak his prodigious blasphemies.
It is not bad, it is high time,
Stark violence is still the sire of all the world’s values.

The Bloody Sire – Robinson Jeffers :

Pilgrim: Not though I don’t believe you Muse, but what about humour?

Muse: Scared chimpanzees make the same facial expression as a smile and the same sound as a laugh. Why do strangers passing on a narrow track often say hello or excuse themselves with a smile? What is humour if not something to laugh off fear and threat?
Poetry is never humorous Pilgrim, though rhyme often is. Rhyme is a delight. A game of ambiguity and wit played with devices of semantics and grammar to the point of absurdity.

The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag
The reason you will see no doubt
Is to keep the lightning out
But what these unobservant birds
Have failed to notice is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood – Poems Past and Present :

According to the Norse Skalds, rhyme is not poetry. Skalds, drunk on poetic mead, considered rhymesters only sipped the drops spilt by Odin as he fled with his stolen prize.

Pilgrim: And what about love? Surely, the greatest poems are love poems.

Muse: Does not the fear of loss, betrayal and rejection haunt love? Ask any mother if she worries over a child. Ask any lover. While some stories end with ‘and they lived happily ever after’, those that don’t, deal with loss.

Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,
Far, far, removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time’s all-severing wave?

Remembrance – Emily Bronte:

Come, walk with me,
There’s only thee
To bless my spirit now –
We used to love on winter nights
To wander through the snow;
Can we not woo back old delights?
The clouds rush dark and wild
They fleck with shade our mountain heights
The same as long ago

Come walk with me – Emily Bronte:

All religions offer prayer in song: Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Shinto. Even the angels in heaven sing their praises. Poetry is the source from which all art flows: dance, music, song.

Incantation, meaning to sing and chant, comes from Proto-Indo-European, the ancient mother tongue that gave rise to of Sanskrit, Persian, Slavic, Celtic and the other European languages. The Proto-Indo-European word means to speak with the voice of a god. When the gods speak through prophets and poets, the listeners become intoxicated. It is for this reason the Irish God of eloquence, Ogma Sun Face is shown leading men bound with golden chains running from the mouth of one to the ear of the next.

The earliest medieval French poems called lais, meaning ‘songs’ in German and Irish, gave way to chivalric Chansons de Geste or heroic songs. Renaissance poems like Dante’s Divine Comedy, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (Roland’s Madness) and Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Liberated) are divided into cantos (songs). Poems and songs still have verses and refrains.

Because gods speak through poets, poetry is not meant to be easy. Poets are held in high regard because they suffer and sacrifice for art. Odin gave an eye at the well of Mimir for a sip of poetic inspiration. Druidic poets took 25 years to learn poetic lore, including scores of epic poems.

Skilled in extempore composition, they drew on myth to make history mythic. Trained in verse form, rhyme, assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, symbolism, metaphor, simile and metonymy, irony and other stylistic devices, they intoxicated audiences leaving them drunk on loquaciousness.

Homeric poets could recite 25,000 lines of epic poetry. Lines burn into minds in the fearful knowledge, one misplaced rhyme would cause everything to be irrevocably lost. A practice continued in Greece and Rome as part of a child’s education; learning by heart Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Poetry is meant to be spoken and heard, not read.

Pilgrim: Not read? The world’s oldest written text is a poem. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, written four thousand years ago, Gilgamesh seeks immortality only to learn the gods have made death man’s fate. Writing preserved that poem for us.

Muse: Killing poetry in the process. As soon as poetry is written down, it dies.
When science and logic won the battle for men’s souls, the godless Greeks shrank poetry to an intellectual game. Aristotle claimed to analyse poetry. Broke it down into different parts and drew up rules for its application. I was split into nine muses, one for each liberal art, and reduced to a handmaid of Apollo… me, the goddess Muse!

Apollo, a mouse demon, only conquered my shrine a Delphi once the sacred aether had left in its rocky cleft. My pythoness, a slave of unscrupulous priests, was made to sprout gibberish over piles of smouldering laurel, for them to interpret according to their schemes.

I am no handmaid of gods Pilgrim. I am their mother, bride and undertaker. Before a sterile satellite, I was the White Goddess governing the tides of life and death, of women and water. My new, full and old moon faces lit the night, or consigned men to darkness and dread. I was spinner, weaver and cutter of the thread. The morning star, heralding dawn; the evening star bringing the sun home; the midnight star the heavens revolved around: keeper of the pearl-rimmed cauldron frothing with poetic mead. My name meant illumination of thought and I was worshipped as mind, struggle and offering. Then I became memory, practice and recitation.

Odin, like Hermes, is the god of thieves. His ravens Thought and Memory swept the nine realms gleaning news. Learning I governed the nine worlds with charms written upon the World Tree Yggdrasil, Odin thought to steal my power, the power of the Norns. Knowledge made Grimnir arrogant. He hung on Yggdrasil for nine days without food or drink until his flesh felt rough as bark and when the runes travelled over his skin, he greedily gathered them in.

The Norns (The Nordic Fates):
Andruss adapted from Gehrts’ lithograph

Men entombed me in books, captive within grand libraries at Athens, Ephesus and Alexandria. Mistaking knowledge for wisdom those arrogant fools believed themselves gods. Where are those monuments to conceit now? Consigned to flame; their writings ash.

Only the Druids’ poets refused to write my secrets down. Though versed in Greek and Latin, they lived by my code:

Memory to recollect where you come from
Practice so you do not forget
Recitation to tell those to come after

They knew books destroyed poetry and encouraged the unworthy. Had not the sea god Manannan kept the Irish alphabet of trees in a crane skin bag, immune to magic, lest it corrupt men with literacy?

Yet the druids were slaughtered by Caesar; all their wisdom, all their gods, lost, the only survivors Apollo, Odin, Hermes and Thoth. The gods who imprisoned me ensured immortality by hiding inside the written word. Or was it man who made gods subjugate me? For what are gods but inventions of man?

Under gods, man thought me tamed. Then man forgot the gods. But poetry remained. A poet seeking to invoke no longer knows how, he thinks to flatter and seduce and if he succeeds, in blind fumbling excuse, believes I allow because he understands a woman’s needs. As if setting a rose in my hair like I were a Andalusian girl kissed breathless against a Moorish wall under a hot Alhambra moon with him urging my yes, putting hands on me and kissing my neck while I thinking as well him as another draw him down to the perfume of my breasts with his heart drumming like mad in the expectation of my yes. The bloom and the breast is not his to possess or caress until my liberal yes, for this is woman talking and I am sick of love. Yes I am no more his than a snatch of song heard on the jessamine breeze or a flower of the mountain born to die. So let me be yes set me free from the inky bars of this prison page to roll off the tongue careless as a lover’s air whistled on Palma Violet scented breath let loose in an empire of senses where guileless yes is yes, a paradise garden of delight, a sensual world pregnant with life.

(According to the Muse her soliloquy must be read aloud)

Illustration by Donata Zawadzka

Please check out Donata’s website:
Buy her prints:

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives According to the Muse (A dialogue in 2 halves) Part 1: What is Poetry? Paul Andruss

It is time for another post from my archives and one of the articles by Paul Andruss.

Paul who shares a conversation between a Muse and a Pilgrim on the subject of poetry…..and its various forms.

According to the Muse (A dialogue in 2 halves) Part 1: What is Poetry? by Paul Andruss

Wrapped in Light  An illustration by Donata Zawadzka (for Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss)

There are people who,
Aspiring to be considered poets,
Devise mundane sentences
Usual to any written piece
And arranging them in verse
Claim it is a poem
According to the muse
It’s not

Pilgrim: So why Mother Muse, why’s it not a poem? Coz, it sure looks like poetry to me.

So saith the Muse: First of all son, I’m not your mother, I’m a goddess. You can abase yourself on the ground before me if you like, but otherwise less of your lip. Second, do I look like a bloody English teacher?

Pilgrim: But, but, but…

Muse: Oh dear, you sound like an outboard motor.

Let me put you out of your misery. It is not poetry because, although it has rhythm, there is no poetic impulse. It is not what a poem looks like that matters. It is the emotion it stirs.

As a dear friend of mine, Marianne Moore said, ‘Poetry is a matter of skill and honesty in any form whatsoever, while anything written poorly, although in perfect form, cannot be poetry.’  Let me quote from her poem:

nor is it valid
to discriminate against “business documents and school-books”;
all these phenomena are important.
One must make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets,
the result is not poetry,

Marianne Moore – Poetry

Pilgrim: So who’s she then?

Muse: How can you hope to write poetry if you do not know the first thing about it?

Marianne Moore (1887- 1972) was a modern American poet whose Collected Poems published in 1951 won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Bollingen Prize. In his introduction to her work, T. S. Eliot wrote: ‘My conviction has remained unchanged for the last 14 years; Miss Moore’s poems form part of the small body of durable poetry written in our time.’

I take it you know T.S. Elliot?

Pilgrim: Sort of!

Muse: The Lovesong of J.Alfred Pruflock?

Pilgrim: Errrrrmmmm…


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

Anything Pilgrim? Does it yield any emotion?

Pilgrim: Well it’s good inn’t it

Muse: Good inn’t it! Blimey! This is going to be harder than I thought.

Marianne Moore revolutionised the rhythmic base of poetry by only using a pre-determined number of syllables per stanza as her unit of measure. In some ways she was extending what had been done previously with classical English poetic meters such as Iambic Pentameter, which used small groups of five stressed and unstressed syllables in a line.

Originally derived from Classic Latin verse, Iambic Pentameter was adopted by Medieval French troubadours in their Chansons de Geste (heroic songs such as the Song of Roland) and developed in the Renaissance by Dante and Petrarch. It is also believed Shakespeare’s own actor troupe at the Globe Theatre, stressed his words to make the speeches of his plays follow iambic rhythm.

Due to his influence it became a dominant meter in English poetry. Compare Ozymandias a sonnet written by Shelly in loose iambic pentameter with Byron’s lyrical She Walks in Beauty, in iambic tetrameter.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Percy Bysshe Shelley – Ozymandias

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;

Lord Byron – She Walks in Beauty

In using used a pre-determined number of syllables within the verse, Marianne freed poetry from the historical anchors of rhyming schemes, alliteration and assonance, ensuring nothing got in the way of the sheer delight in language, and the precise, heartfelt expression, poetry must contain.

Notice how Sylvia Plath echoes this in Fever 103°, allowing the poetic impulse to transcend the limits set by the verse by flowing into the next

Pure? What does it mean?
The tongues of hell
Are dull, dull as the triple

Tongues of dull, fat Cerberus
Who wheezes at the gate. Incapable
Of licking clean

The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin.
The tinder cries.
The indelible smell

Of a snuffed candle!…

Sylvia Plath – Fever 103°

By working in syllabic blocks, Marianne rekindled interest in free verse, which had originated with the English translation of the Psalms in the 1300s. Its use in Walt Whitman’s strictly metric but unrhymed experiments led to Allen Ginsberg’s 1957 ground breaking radical performance poem Howl.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

Allen Ginsberg – Howl

Ginsberg’s stream of consciousness approach in turn influenced the whole beat generation, allowing free poetry to find its way into all forms of expression: books, plays, cinema and music. His descendants are the Punk and Post-punk poets, and modern RAP (Rhythm And Poetry) artists.

Critics saw stream-of-consciousness as containing the poetic purity of speech. Half-poets, as dear Marianne would say, saw no more than liberation from difficult poetic constraints, and thought, no doubt with relief, ‘anything goes’; not realising poetry lies not within its form but its emotional impact.

They could not see free verse is only free from ‘the tyrant demands of the metered line’. It retains poetic form and impulse. As T.S Elliot said, ‘No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job.’

F. Scott Fitzgerald advised a young writer asking for his opinion, ‘I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly… This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have… none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.’

Poetry is not meant to be easy. It is forged in suffering and sacrifice, shaped with sweat and toil, and tempered by blood. This is what earns poets the right to high regard. For they willingly paid the price lesser mortals shrank from.

Now do you understand Pilgrim?

Poetry is what you write; its source; its inspiration.

Not how it looks, written upon a page.

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Part two tomorrow…..


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Bloggers, Authors, Music, Health, Food and Funnies.

Welcome to this week’s round up where I share the posts you might of missed, and thank you for taking the time to drop in.

It has been a busy week from a blogging perspective as the new series of Posts from Your Archives gets under way. I did wonder if the previous series which usually featured 12 or so bloggers was restricted due to natural reticence. I have noticed before that you are a shy in coming forward which is why I changed the concept this time so that I went into your archives to select four posts to share.

Boy, did that turn things on its head.. there are now 45 bloggers on the list and I am having the time of my life delving into all the archives to select posts to share. And I am finding some gems that I delighted with.. such as poetry hidden away, wonderful personal stories, travel experiences, family sagas and it just goes to show what a thoroughly talented bunch you are. It has also been great to see lots of discussions going on between everyone about the subject of the posts… loving it.

Clearly it is going to take me a little while to get through all the archives and they will appear over the next three months.. I will try to let you know dates in advance of that, but I am totally privileged to be allowed to access your archives and thank you for trusting me with that. This week’s archives coming up later in the post.


After several attempts to delete my account (following weeks of blocked posts and nasty messages), and then receiving emails welcoming me back to Facebook…..(I do not understand the inner workings of FB Bots!) Anyway I have been back tentatively for the last month, keeping in touch with friends and sharing their posts internally, and so far so good. I am hugely grateful to those of you who have manually shared posts using the URL.. and that has worked thank you.

I am now re-installing my Facebook share button and I would be grateful if you would let me know if you get any messages if you share a post. I know that a lot of other bloggers such as The Story Reading Ape, Debby Gies and  Ellen Best to name a few had exactly the same problem, and there is apparently a reason for it.. Facebook does not want their members to leave the site to go off to visit another, particularly if that site is selling stuff they are not getting a cut of!

Since Smorgasbord is not monetized in any way.. I am hoping that things are now back to normal.

It looks like we will be getting the contractors in to do the back garden this week… fingers crossed.. and we are then 95% finished on our project that began 3 years ago on this house. When I look at the before and after pictures the thought runs through my mind “What were we thinking”…..but it is now a lovely family home that we hope to hand over to someone with lots of kids who will enjoy for many years. Our original plan was to put it on the market next spring but now we will probably go ahead as soon as it is finished.

Anyway… time to get on with the posts from the week that you might have missed… thanks as always to contributors and guests who give so much time and effort to providing amazing posts.

D.G.Kaye.. Debby Gies, gives us the low down on the popular holiday destination of Puerto Rico…essential reading if you are planning to travel there.

This month Siliva Todesco serves up a quick and simple classic that is hard to resist for pasta lovers…and I am sure your families… Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Pepper spaghetti.

GARLIC, OLIVE OIL AND RED PEPPER SPAGHETTI (Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino)

Two stories from me this week.. one in response to Diana Peach’s Speculative Fiction Prompt I went a bit outside my comfort zone and went forward in time….with The Enhancement Project..

and the second story was in response to Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills on the subject of getting old. A Small Price to Pay

Weight loss and sleep are connected, and if you are not getting enough sleep your body will not get sufficient time to repair, regenerate and restore balance…The sleep process and the benefits of a good night’s rest.

beating heart GIF

Debby Gies was back on Wednesday with a guest post about a topic we are reluctant to talk about… with doctors included.. our inner workings and colonoscopies. Debby shares here experiences to demystify the process and stress the need to get checked.

I look at the myths surrounding cholesterol and the importance of eating good fats from grass fed animals, including dairy to obtain sufficient Vitamin K2

And a reminder about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, a silent killer that almost ended my life. The statistics in the USA and the UK are not improving fast enough.


Each year, approximately 20,000 people in the United States visit the emergency room because of carbon monoxide poisoning. While many of those people are treated and released, on average, 400 people will die from carbon monoxide poisoning in a given year.

Do you remember the song Dominique by The Singing Nun?  Find out more about the singer and this one hit wonder and the life it led to.

This weekend I share two more posts from my archives, featuring Paul Andruss with Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle.


Doyle and Houdini (library picture)

Jacquie Biggar shares her first camping experience which seems to have been one shared by many….would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of the tent!

Robbie Cheadle with some Flash Fiction…and it is all about the lavender.

Financial expert Sharon Marchisello shares some of the ways to prevent being taken for a ride.. literally in New York..

Fantasy author Diana Wallace Peach shares the miracle and importance of reading with grandchildren…

In Miriam Hurdle’s first post I shared her responses to a challenge that asked specific questions about life… such as ‘A piece of clothing from your younger childhood you still remember?’

Miriam_0001 (2)

Beetley Pete.. Pete Johnson with a thought provoking memory of meeting a man blind from birth who explained how he perceived images we take so much for granted.

Debby Gies shares the stunning photos of her grandmother who competed in the Miss Toronto 1926 pageant, and also other photos that show that the good looks run in the family.

Miss Toronto beauty pageant 1926

The Story Reading Ape.. Chris Graham is well known for his guest posts and in this series I am sharing four from his archives.. this week his guest is Michelle Clements James who puts forward the perspective of a reader.. important for all writers to understand.. after all, readers are our customers.

Darlene Foster poses the question… Are blogging friends real friends? and there was a lot of discussion on the matter.

A lovely poem on the joy of sunshine from Christine Campbell.. certainly one I can endorse.. we so little of of it, it is like gold around here!

Fantasy author Charles E. Yallowitz on the subject of standing out from the crowd.. and being labeled ‘odd’.. and why there is no ‘normal’ to be judged by. Something to think about…

The second part of the linked Flash Fiction that reveals a family drama – The Fold by D.Avery

Jane Risdon who has been in the music industry for many years, shares an audition in Hollywood that had its moments!! Part one here with more to follow.

 (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Mary Smith takes us on a trip to visit some sacred crocodiles.. fascinating history.. watch your fingers now!

IMG_0008 (Small)

New book on the Shelves

Author Update – Reviews

Thank you very much for your ongoing support and I hope you will pop in again next week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Doyle and Houdini: The Dream Team by Paul Andruss

Doyle and Houdini: The Dream Team by Paul Andruss

Some of you might have seen the series on television Houdini and Doyle which fictionalised the relationship between these two complex and legendary individuals. However, as always, Paul Andruss  deconstructs the various rumours and fictional depictions of the events of that time; bringing the truth to light.

Doyle and Houdini: the Dream Team by Paul Andruss

Doyle and Houdini (library picture)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous detective, and Harry Houdini, its greatest magician, are surely a dream team. At least that’s what Sky TV thought when commissioning Houdini and Doyle. The fantasy drama series about the real life friends, where sceptic and believer investigated crimes with a supernatural flavour, was cancelled after one season.

Rabbi Weisz and family escaped the Hungarian pogroms to end up as poor Jews in New York. His proudly self-educated son Erik diligently worked his way through dime museums, sideshows and travelling carnivals into vaudeville theatres, while learning escapology, mind reading and magic. Before he was famous he even had a phony spiritualist act. Erik adopted the name Harry Houdini as a homage to his magician idols Harry Keller and world famous Robert Houdin.

Although from a comfortable background, Arthur Conan Doyle’s father was an alcoholic and spent periods in mental asylums. At one time the family was forced to live in a squalid tenement. Doyle was sent to private boarding school in England, paid for by his uncles.

After studying medicine in Edinburgh, he eventually set up a doctor’s practice in Plymouth. While waiting for patients he began writing fiction.

The Houdini and Doyle friendship developed from a mutual respect due to their similarities and differences. Through hard work both men rose from poverty to the pinnacle of their fields. Houdini started work at nine, yet as the son of a Rabbi longed to be a scholar. Doyle through family wealth became a medical doctor. But maybe the friendship wasn’t so straightforward when you examine things.

Poster for Houdini Spiritualist show (library image)

Houdini is known as a famous sceptic who exposed phoney mediums. But he was genuinely interested in finding evidence for the spirit realm, especially after the death of his beloved mother. However, being a magician, he was wise to all the tricks and took exception to ghouls preying on the bereaved.

Conan Doyle’s second wife was a gifted amateur medium who practiced automatic writing. Holding a pencil while in a trance, with eyes closed and mind empty, allowed the spirits to communicate directly through her. After losing his son and 10 other members of their immediate family in World War 1, the Doyles increasingly turned to spiritualism for solace.

Mutual admiration and their passionate interest in psychic phenomena gave the men common ground. Yet unknown to the other, each had an ulterior motive. After exposing phoney mediums Houdini was finding it hard to get into séances and used Doyle for introductions into spiritualist circles. Doyle wanted to be the man who brought the great sceptic to spiritualism and have him publicly renounce his disbelief. After seeing Houdini perform, Doyle convinced himself Houdini was no mere conjurer but a genuine miracle worker. Houdini’s protestations only confirmed Doyle’s suspicions.

The friendship deepened, mainly because Houdini stayed quiet about the mediums Doyle recommended. In truth he was saving his findings for a book. Things came to a head when Harry and Bess Houdini and the Doyles met in Atlantic City. Doyle insisted Houdini attend a séance of automatic writing with Lady Doyle. Houdini’s mother came through, gushing to her beloved son how beautiful and peaceful the other side was, and how she was preparing a place for him.

After the séance Doyle, noting Houdini was reflective and withdrawn, was sure he had demonstrated the existence of life after death beyond a doubt. Doyle did not know Bess, using the code from their old mind reading act, had pre-warned Houdini that Lady Doyle was pumping her for information about Houdini’s mother all afternoon.

When Houdini told the press he had never experienced any convincing spiritualist phenomena, Doyle was furious. He demanded to know why Houdini doubted his own mother speaking through Lady Doyle. Houdini mildly replied his beloved mother, who could not speak one word of English, had not written a single word in her native Hungarian.

The friends were now enemies. Doyle immediately rushed his version of events into print. He insisted Houdini begged Lady Doyle to sit and she complied only with reluctance. Houdini never forgave Doyle’s lie.

Doyle champions Margery (library image)

On opposite sides of the same crusade, they could not help but clash over the years; with increasing animosity on Doyle’s part. Doyle was a close friend of a notorious medium called Margery, a handsome vivacious woman who used her sex appeal to sway the dry university academics investigating her claims.

More than a paragraph is needed to discuss Margery and her husband’s shenanigans. In the end even Doyle backed off when questions arose over a number of young boys brought to America as wards of Margery’s husband and never seen again. In her twilight years, and now an abject alcoholic, Margery claimed her husband coerced her into professional mediumship, and hinted at the dark measures she was forced to employ to enable her to perform on cue.

When Houdini caught Margery red handed, Doyle was outraged. Margery’s spirit guide threatened Houdini with death. There are letters from Doyle echoing the sentiment. When Houdini died, Doyle crowed he knew Houdini would get his just deserts. He believed the spirits punished him for concealing his psychic gifts behind a façade of a conjuror.

After years of silence, Doyle was corresponding with Bess within a fortnight of Houdini’s death. He speaks of ‘the widow’, as ‘a splendid loyal little woman accepting of the spiritualist viewpoint and keen to get some evidence to give the world’. Obligingly Doyle recommended mediums. When Bess dismissed their messages as rubbish to the press, there was only one thing left to do.

Enter Arthur Ford, a medium and Conan Doyle’s protégé. Ford was the medium who delivered an agreed coded message from Houdini to Bess. It was claimed they were strangers, but Ford and Bess had been close friends for over a year. They were planning a spiritualist tour together: the sceptic’s widow and the medium who brought evidence from beyond the grave. (Read yesterday’s post to find out how that turned out…Rosabelle Believe.)

One of Houdini’s friends said he seriously underestimated Doyle. Houdini could handle frauds and hucksters, but Doyle, as a zealot and someone who could not tolerate being wrong, was the most relentless type of enemy. Yet, like all fanatics Doyle did far more damage to himself than Houdini.

He lost serious money in a psychic bookstore venture.

He was mocked for his endorsement of the Cottingley fairies.

He publically advocated the Zancig husband and wife team as telepaths, even though they confessed they were stage magicians with a mind-reading act.

When caught promoting a fake spirit photograph as genuine, he refused to accept he was mistaken.

He was lampooned in the British Press for claiming spirits in the afterlife enjoyed cigars, whiskey and golf.

As a final insult, even his spirit guide, who came through during his wife’s séances, labelled him a ‘whale’.

Shortly before his death the author of the greatest detective wrote to a friend confessing… “I have moments of doubt when I wonder if we have not been victims of some extraordinary prank played on the human race by the other side.”

©Paul Andruss 2017

Thanks to Paul for a behind the scenes look at the relationship between these two iconic figures from the early 20th century…I wonder what either of them would make of today’s world.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Rosabelle : B-E-L-I-E-V-E by Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss takes us through the mysterious and oft disputed authenticity of spiritualism. The great Houdini yearned to speak to his mother on the other side.. and this is his story.

Rosabelle : B-E-L-I-E-V-E by Paul Andruss

picture29Houdini with his ‘Two Sweethearts’ : Mother & Wife

World-renowned illusionist and escapologist Harry Houdini was devoted to his mother. Devastated when she died in 1913, he blamed himself for being on tour and not by her side. Harry was suspicious of claims made by professional mediums, yet his grief was so great he allowed his friend Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Homes and a devout spiritualist) to persuade him to attend séances to contact her departed spirit.

Instead of desperately needed solace, all Harry found was fraud and calumny. Easily spotting the stage magician tricks  that professional mediums used to dupe the grief stricken, he wasted no time in exposing them.

Despite Harry Houdini’s life-long crusade to expose fraudulent spiritualists he never abandoned hope there was an afterlife. Perhaps it was vanity, as much as anything else, that made him promise Bess, his wife: if possible he would return to prove the existence of a life after death.

Houdini made the same pact with around 20 friends as well as Bess. To each individual he entrusted a unique secret coded message, making it easy to prove any message from beyond the grave was genuine.

On Halloween 1926 Harry Houdini died in hospital from blood poisoning caused by a ruptured appendix. Most film versions of his life have Harry dying on stage, suffering agonising abdominal pain while drowning inside his Chinese-Water-Torture-Cabinet. In fact Harry died in hospital after an operation to remove his appendix and drain the infection spreading through his body.

picture30Houdini & the Chinese Water Torture Trick

Some of Houdini’s friends openly reported mysterious events after Harry’s death: an inscription from Harry mysteriously vanished from a book; framed photographs fell from walls and a sculptured bust of Harry shattered. But none of these events were considered the unique proof Harry promised.

Soon after Harry’s death spiritualist mediums began contacting his wife Bess. Their messages were vague uplifting blandishments about how swell things were on the other side and Bess dismissed them as rubbish. Frustrated by time-wasters, Bess issued a $10,000 reward to anyone able to provide the unique secret proof she and Harry had agreed.

Legend has it Bess offered the £10,000 for a 1-year period, and it was not until the year expired that a medium got in touch with a 10-word coded message from Harry.

In fact two and a half years elapsed before Arthur Ford told Bess he had the agreed message. Arthur Ford and an entourage (including two journalists) arrived on 8 January 1929 for a scheduled meeting at Bess’ apartment. Bess, recuperating from a fall a few days earlier, had her press agent and an old friend in attendance as witnesses.

The medium Arthur Ford delivered the message: ‘Rosabelle – answer- tell- pray, answer- look- tell- answer, answer- tell’

He then added Houdini said the code was one used in one of their mind reading acts. He instructed Bess to tell the assembled group what Rosabelle meant.

In a tremulous voice Bess began to sing a song from her first show with Houdini: ‘Rosabell sweet Rosabell I love you more than I can tell.’ The message, translated from the mind reading code, was B-E-L-I-E-V-E

Stifling tears Bess confirmed it was indeed the secret message and had been delivered as she and Harry agreed. She then dramatically swooned.

The next day the story made headlines around the world courtesy of the journalists attending the séance. It seemed not even eternity could hold Houdini.

picture31Press Cutting

When the spiritualist medium gave Bess the coded message she had agreed with her husband, Harry Houdini, before his death, Bess swooned exclaiming… ‘Yes, yes. That is the message. Harry – Harry!’

picture32Medium Arthur Ford with the invalid Bess who had taken to her bed

Soon afterwards Bess recanted, claiming it was a magician’s trick. It may not surprise anybody to know it was a trick; but it was Bess who was the magician’s stooge.

Stooge seems a harsh word to describe a grieving widow. It is not meant as an insult. All magicians’ used stooges – accomplices, planted in the audience – to be chosen seemingly at random, and used at crucial points to help the magician achieve the impossible.

The truth is Bess was not a strong, independent woman; not Houdini’s equal partner. Like most marriages of the period, while Houdini was the big man; the breadwinner, Bess played second fiddle as his devoted, adoring companion; in short the wife.

Houdini treated her like child. Constantly reassuring her with love-notes and arranging exaggeratedly romantic, clandestine dates together. Bess and Houdini could not have children. Anecdotal evidence suggests Bess had a medical condition. She was described as frail and was often ill.

There was never any doubt Houdini’s mother came first. If Bess was resentful she did not show it. It was not until her mother-in-law’s death Bess got her husband’s full attention.

Even then she shared him with the phony mediums he used, and exposed in trying to contact his mother. And she shared him with flesh and blood rivals too: Houdini’s other women.

Perhaps because of their claustrophobic relationship, Houdini’s death devastated Bess. The first anniversary of his death found her physically and mentally exhausted. A diary entry for October 1927 reads; ‘Dined at Village Grove – home early, no drink or weed.’

picture33The widow Bess: as trapped by Houdini’s death as she was by his life.

Bess had been drinking heavily, using prescription drugs and marijuana, since before Houdini’s death. Now her addictions spiralled out of control. She mixed with ‘colourful characters’ in the wild jazz-age nightclubs she frequented – including Arthur Ford; the medium who would deliver her husband’s secret coded message.

Although Bess claimed not to know Ford, she had been infatuated with him for at least a year before the séance. They planned a lecture tour together based on its successful outcome – the grieving widow and the medium who bought her sceptical husband back from the dead.

As if this was not damning enough, one of the journalists who witnessed the Houdini séance claimed she wrote the story before it actually happened. The whole charade was dictated – word for word- the previous day by Bess.

In a classic entrapment scenario, she invited the medium Arthur Ford to discuss the previous day’s séance in her apartment while her editor and a colleague, concealed in the kitchenette, recorded everything on a Dictaphone. Initially triumphant, Ford’s bubble was soon burst as he realised the journalist would not succumb to his charms, wheedling, or even threats.

On Halloween 1936, on the roof of the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood, Bess conducted a final Houdini séance. Like all the others it failed. At its conclusion, Bess dramatically put out the candle she had kept burning beside the photograph of her husband since his death. She later commented… ‘Ten years is long enough to wait for any man.’

picture34The widow Bess on the cover of an American magazine for magicians

©PaulAndruss 2017

Thanks to Paul for this fascinating article on a subject that still enthralls millions around the world today… I took the liberty of looking at some statistics and found these on the official American Federation of Certified Psychics and Mediums

Psychics’ annual earning, and wealth:

  • Approximate annual earning of a very successful psychic in the United States (Celebrity-psychic and mega name): Over $5,000.000.
  • Approximate annual earning of a reasonably successful psychic in the United States: $500,000.
  • Approximate standard annual earning of a psychic in the United States: $150,000-$75,000.

And with some honesty they also shared this….

  • Approximate number of clients’ complaints and psychics’ rip-off from 2011 to 2015: 1,600.
  • Approximate number of psychics who were convicted for fraud from 1995 to 2015: 350.
  • Approximate number of psychics who were charged but not convicted from 1995 to 2015: 700.
  • Approximate number of psychics who have illegally taped conversations with clients and a third party (State and federal crimes-felonies) from 1995 to 2015: 10.
  • Approximate number of psychics/mediums who had troubles with the law for the past five years: 2,137.
  • Approximate number of psychics/mediums who have hired lawyers for a libel suit, whether filed with the court or not (2007-2012): 12.
  • Approximate $amount earned by psychics/mediums who have scammed clients in 2011-2012: $200,000.000.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up

Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

A quiet week on the home front, with a couple of days of sunshine and more today, so I will be out in the garden for much of the day…not so much making hay as getting rid of the rust in my joints!  David has been working to level off the back garden which was left as a weedy slope, and once the workmen have completed the pathway and resurfaced the back patio, we shall have a lovely spot to eat out which gets the sun in the summer until 10.00pm.  Also another step to getting the house ready to go on the market next spring.

I have also managed to find dry enough days to finish by pot plants. We then had three days of torrential rain and I am afraid some of the younger plants drowned.. you have to be hardy around here!

As always thank you for your support during the week and to the contributors who continue to share such wonderful articles.

I am so thrilled by the amazing response to the new Posts from the Archives series with over 40 bloggers allowing me access to their archives, to select four posts to share with everyone. This means I will be doing a lot of reading of posts, which is wonderful and it means that we have about three months worth of posts. Apologies if you have just gone on the list, but I will respond to you and get in touch when I have selected your posts… The first of those later in the post..

Now for the posts from the week……

This week William Price King shares the life and some of the work of jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Miles Davis

Two posts this weekend from Paul Andruss on Glastonbury and King Arthur.

In this series we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

We wanted to share with you what happens if your body is deprived of individual nutrients over an extended period of time.

Carol Taylor takes the ingredients that contain good sources of the nutrient and creates dishes that the whole family will love..this week Vitamin B6.. and delicious Chicken and prune tagine, tofu and honey bites and spicy sweet potato balls.

Annette Rochelle Aben with the Universal Energy for May and what that could mean for you as an individual…

I trot this post our once a year as a reminder that you are being watched… even when you are not in front of your computer screen. It is not only thieves and vagabonds you need to worry about who might have designs on your empty house, but also trying to claim on your health insurance for some unfortunate mishap that took place while you were having fun in the sun.

My review of the anthology to raise funds for cancer research compiled by Stevie Turner : Understanding: An Anthology of true and significant life events

I unearth one of my poems on the culinary delights of holidays

This week’s carrot ranch flash fiction challenge In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sisu. It’s a Finnish concept of enduring strength, the ability to consistently overcome. Sisu – DNA.

The majority of us who are losing weight will hit a plateau some weeks into the diet.. In this post I explain why and how to work through it.

You can find details in this post…love to hear from you, and as I mentioned if on the list it could be a few weeks before you feature :

Christopher Graham began the new series and I selected one of his guest posts from Emily Gmitter with a wonderful post that I recommend you read.

Here is the first of the posts I have selected from the archives of D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies. Every month on the last Friday, those who participate in a global We Are The World Blogfest, (#WATWB) share inspiring stories of random acts of kindness, or projects that are making a difference to people around the world.

Inspirational Rocks

Children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster is a regular visitor to the blog and has shared some amazing posts. The first post that I selected was from 2013…about a wonderful organisation in Canada that raises funding for the Children’s Hospital.

Elizabeth Bennet and Anne of Green Gables

Author Christine Campbell has given me permission to browse her extensive archives dating back to March 2013… and the first post I have selected is from May 2013… and is about crafting, and in particular those delicate handkerchiefs that have been usurped by the paper tissue in many of our homes…


The next contributor to the series is fantasy author Charles E. Yallowitz who has a wonderful blog where you can find stories, thoughts on life, book related posts and poetry. This week a poem on the journey of an Indie author.

I am delighted to share the first post from the archives of D.Avery who is the author of three short story and poetry collections. I have selected a wonderful serial that I am going to share over the four posts from D’s archives

This is the first post of four from author Jane Risdon… Jane loves to go on a ‘jolly’ for those of you who are unfamiliar with the expression… It is taking a road trip and having fun.. basically. The first post from her archives of 2016 is an example of that.

My next guest in the new series of Posts from Your Archives is author Mary Smith.. I have two blogs to select the four posts from and the first is from her blog My Dad’s A Goldfish, where Mary shares here experiences caring for her father as his dementia worsened. In this post however, she shares the tragedy of the dementia of a school friend who she has remained in contact with, who developed the disease at a much earlier age. Very poignant…

New books on the shelves

Author Update – Reviews

I have often highlighted the inconsistencies of medical studies and the profound and sometimes downright dangerous statements made that vilify or extol the virtues of either a food or medication. This was the case in 2012 when a Professor, labeled one of the UK’s leading experts stated that everyone over the age of 50 should be prescribed statins to reduce their cholesterol levels.  In this post I look at the latest research into Statins and their long term impact on our health.

Thank you again for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed catching up with the posts. Take care and hope to see you next week too. Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Arthur: King or Pawn by Paul Andruss by Paul Andruss

Arthur: King or Pawn by Paul Andruss by Paul Andruss

History is not necessarily written by the winners, but it is written for the winners. As the wheel of fortune turns dynasties rise and fall. Those on the up get to choose what survives and what is consigned to the bonfire. For example, King Arthur is probably the most famous British hero of all time, yet there is no evidence he ever existed. So was Arthur merely a legend, used hundreds of years after he lived to strengthen the political claims of Welsh Kings, Norman Kings and even the Tudors?

Arthur is not mentioned by his near contemporary, the British monk Gildas, who wrote a scathing condemnation of British kings shortly after Arthur’s time called ‘The Ruin and Conquest of Britain’ (around 547AD).

Almost 150 years later, writing for the Anglo Saxons, Bede, a monk from Jarrow, used Gildas as a source when writing his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (finished in 731). Although Bede was a meticulous scholar and had access to early copies of Gildas, and other lost documents, neither does he mention Arthur.

Arthur is first mentioned is in the Historia Brittonum, a compilation of ancient documents thought to have been compiled around 830. The earliest copy we have is from the 1100s. There are many slightly later copies including one in the Vatican. As with any late copies of early works we are not entirely sure what was in the original. Different copies disagree on wording, contents and even the name of the author.

Written some 300 years after Arthur lived, the Historia Brittonum credits him with 12 famous victories against the Saxons: culminating in Mount Badon which brought a generation of peace. Arthur is not called a king but the Dux Bellorum (Duke of Battles) an otherwise unknown title that might echo the old Roman military leader: Duke of the Saxon Shore.

The next work to substantially feature Arthur is Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History of British Kings’ written around 1136. It bears little resemblance to the story we know.

The ‘History of British Kings’ was so popular it sparked an avalanche of Arthurian lore. Some stories even found their way back into medieval Welsh manuscripts and up to recently were deemed independent evidence of Arthur’s existence.

Around 1470 Thomas Malory wrote the English work ‘The Book of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table’ based on French Arthurian story cycle. Some 15 years later, the owner of the first printing press in England, William Caxton, edited the now dead Malory’s work, translated it into French (the language of the educated) and published it under the snappier title of ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’. This contains all the elements we know: Lancelot and Guinevere’, Camelot; and the quest for the Holy Grail.

Morte d’Arthur was immensely popular. Printed books were the latest fashion accessory, and more importantly they were cheap… a hell of a lot cheaper than the old hand written ones. Which begs the question, why the old books were written in the first place?
In the Classical world a large part of the population could read. There were public libraries and a whole industry of slaves dedicated to cheaply copying out works onto mass-produced papyrus sheets, made from Nile reeds. So many people could read they even had trashy novels.

In the Dark Ages the population was mainly illiterate. The preparation of ink, goose quills and parchment from sheep skin was a long arduous process for an Abbey’s cottage industry. Monks would not simply decide to waste their time on something as trivial as history, when they could be using valuable resources on laboriously copying the bible or other religious texts.

So what prompted them?

To be blunt, sucking up to royalty and propaganda!

Before the Historia Brittonum was written the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd was beset by civil war. The neighbouring Saxon kingdom took advantage by annexing territory. When the last king of a dynasty that ruled for 400 years died, the new king, Mervyn, needed to establish a pedigree.

Thanks to Bede, and the perfidious Gildas, the Saxons believed God took England away from the British (Welsh) and granted it to them. Mervin needed ancestors and heroes who had thrashed the Saxons at great victories such as Badon. The name Arthur might have been chosen because Gildas’ hero Ambrosius Aurelianus sounded too Roman: too foreign.
Geoffrey of Monmouth was in a similar position. He wrote during an English Civil War almost a century after the Normans took England from the Anglo Saxons. Stephen seized the throne when his uncle, Henry, died only leaving a daughter, Mathilda, who promptly declared war.

Arthur was popular in Brittany and neighbouring Normandy as Britain migrants had fled there in the Dark Ages. Through some sleight of hand, the Normans lost no time in claiming their conquest a rightful reclamation of the ancestral throne; even though they were Norse-men from Norway. Geoffrey’s Arthur gave Stephen legitimacy and provided a British hero to equal Charlemagne, an ancestor of the French king who was also trying to claim the English throne.

Stephen’s successor, Henry II, went one step further. He took Arthur away from the Welsh. It is believed Henry was behind the monks finding of Arthur’s grave at Glastonbury Abbey, firmly relocating the Welsh hero to English territory. His son Richard the Lionheart, equally po-faced, presented a crusader ally with a sword he claimed was Excalibur.

The idea of the Round Table where all knights were equal was popular in Medieval Europe. The first Round Table festival of feasting, jousting and dressing up as Arthur’s knights was held in Cyprus 1233.

Arthur’s court was long held to have been in Caerleon in South Wales. In the 1290s, Edward I: Conqueror of Wales claimed Camelot was the English city of Winchester and promptly discovered Arthur’s Round Table there. Tree ring analysis subsequently dated the table’s construction to Edward I’s reign.

Some two centuries later, Henry VIII slyly had the Round Table painted with a Tudor Rose and a portrait of Arthur at its head, looking suspiciously like himself, to impress his rival the French King. In actual fact Henry VIII was not joking when he claimed Arthur as an ancestor. Tudor is an ancient Welsh name.

His father’s rival in the civil war, known as the War of the Roses, Edward IV also claimed descent from Arthur through the Welsh Kings. When Edward died of fever, or poison, he left two young sons under the protection of his brother Richard. Richard promptly had his brother’s marriage declared invalid, making the boy’s illegitimate, and crowned himself Richard III.

His brother’s sons known to history as the ‘Princes in the Tower’ are believed to have been murdered by their uncle at the ages of 13 and 10. This view was popularised, somewhat unsurprisingly, in the time of Henry VIIIs daughter Elizabeth I in William Shakespeare’s play.

All things considered, when we see how successive dynasties used Arthur to bolster their claims of legitimacy it does appear Britain’s greatest hero is far more a pawn than he ever was king.

In truth the only person who did not use Arthur for their own ends was Gildas. And here lies the irony. In a biography written after Geoffrey of Monmouth’s book, Arthur’s contemporary, the monk Gildas, is accused of deliberately ignoring Arthur due to a personal beef. It claims Arthur murdered Gildas’ brother and the holy man holding a grudge, deliberately excluded him from ‘The Ruin and Conquest of Britain’.

For once we can be pretty certain this is fiction as the author Caradoc was a contemporary of Geoffrey. And while Geoffrey names Arthur’s wife Guanhumara, Caradoc calls her Gwenhwyfar a Welsh version of the Guinevere only used in later stories.

©PaulAndruss 2017

My thanks to Paul for this wonderful post on one of our most revered legends. Real or otherwise, the very mention of King Arthur has stirred the hearts and minds of millions across the centuries and instilled pride and honour.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – The Dancing Floor of Glastonbury Tor by Paul Andruss

In June this year thousands will descend on Glastonbury in Somerset for a music festival.. As always, images in the media from past years show that there is a certain amount of licence to partake in various shenanigans during the days and nights of the festival.. but there is nothing new in history.. And who knows what ancients stand on Glastonbury Tor looking down on the festival site, laughing at the amateurs emulating a much more fascinating and sometimes deadly time in history.

The Dancing Floor of Glastonbury Tor by Paul Andruss

Somerset Levels Flood 2014 (Daily Mail)

For those who don’t know, the hill of Glastonbury Tor dominates a huge area of low-lying land called the Somerset Levels, which you may remember from the UK media coverage of the disastrous floods submerging large parts of the area during winter 2014.

Ancient Somerset Landscape (Andruss)

The Somerset Levels are marshy fenlands medieval monks drained for agriculture. Before silting up with eroded run-off from the surrounding hills, the area was a sea flooded valley scattered with wooded islands. It would have made Glastonbury Tor a wonder to behold. You can appreciate how it looked on magical winter days when a sea of grey mist leaves the Tor hanging above the horizon like a Fata Morgana; a mirage named after the powerful sorceress of Arthurian legend as it appears to leave places suspended in air like fairy castles.

Fata Morgana (unknown credit)

The hill is topped by the ruined tower of the ancient St Michael’s Church. It was demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII and not destroyed by the earthquake (felt all the way to London) as is sometimes claimed. That earthquake happened in the 1200s and destroyed an earlier wooden church on the site.

Glastonbury Tor showing the terraces (Geoff Ward)

Seven worn and weathered terraces spiral around Glastonbury Tor. Various explanations are given for them, such as natural features; bank and ditch fortifications; early agricultural terraces; cattle paths or even cart tracks. None hold up. Some antiquarians suggest they are the remains of an ancient labyrinth or maze leading to a great Celtic sanctuary on the crest of the Tor. Although parts have crumbled away, they maintain you can reconstruct the shape from what survives.

Reconstructed terraces (Geoff Ward)

Aerial photographs often turn up ghosts of labyrinths cut from the turf in fields near ancient lost villages. All of these labyrinths have the same pattern, or are close variations. Unlike modern mazes labyrinths have no walls. They are simply a turf cut double spiral path that was danced during Easter.

Like dancing around a maypole, the Easter maze dance was a relic of an old pagan fertility ritual. It took place in villages across Britain right up to recent times. Men and women each taking one of the two paths, strutted and hobbled into the centre and then out again.

The same hobbling fertility dance, on mazes of exactly the same design, can be traced back through history. The Ancient Greeks thought it copied the mating dance of the lascivious partridge. Such a belief indicates the dance dates back to the very first farmers, for whom the annual arrival of partridges provided a welcome food source in early spring. The partridges were so intent on mating they were easily caught and so came to epitomise lewdness to the ancients.

Cretan Labyrinth Coin (Pinterest)

Because the maze design was found on ancient coins from Crete, the Greeks thought it was the labyrinth where King Minos kept the Minotaur. In the story Theseus killed the monster at the centre of an underground maze before successfully negotiating his way out by following a scarlet thread from Minos’ sorceress daughter Ariadne. Yet the word labyrinth did not originally mean a maze, it comes from labrys: a Minoan double headed ceremonial axe that was a symbol of sovereignty.

Greek myth has it that the inventor Daedalus built the labyrinth for Minos. Daedalus was the chap who made wings for himself and his son to escape Minos. When his son Icarus flew to near the sun the wax holding the wings together melted, and the boy drowned. Homer (the poet… not the guy from The Simpsons) adds, without explanation… Daedalus in Cnossos once contrived a dancing-floor for fair-haired Ariadne.

The earliest Welsh and Irish books of Celtic myth claim the Celts were descended from ancient Greeks and linked Minos’ daughter Ariadne with the Welsh goddess Arianrhod (meaning Silver Wheel – the Moon).

Robert Graves in ‘The White Goddess’ believes the myth of Theseus remembers the overthrow of the old religion of the Bull god Minos by the moon goddess Ariadne during the collapse of Bronze Age civilisation about 1,000 BC. This places the change to the collapse of the Minoan civilisation around the time of the Santorini explosion. At this time human sacrifice became common on Crete, and may be associated with a new agricultural religion, one that originated the Middle East and involved the sacrifice of the sacred king or Green Man- the male fertility principle.

Ancient Egyptian document from round this time speak of a group of pirates, traders and invaders they call the Sea Peoples. It is thought these were from the coast of Turkey and Phoenicia. These areas worshipped the Harvest Mother Goddess Cybele (Sybil) and her consort Attis, a dying and reborn harvest god slain by the boar’s tusk of winter: just as Dermot O’ Dyna was in Irish myth. Castration featured in the Attis cult as the god’s fertility was given to the fields to ensure the coming harvest.

During the 6 days of mourning at the end of the year, which commemorated the god’s death, want-to-be priests of Cybele would dress as women and emasculate themselves in his honour. Running through the streets, although staggering is probably the more correct word, they would throw their severed genitals through an open doorway. If their aim was true the household would be obliged to nurse them back to health. If they missed, they were left to die where they fell.

According to Sir James Frazer’s ‘The Golden Bough’, there are legends all over Europe of sacred kings being ritually murdered at the end of his reign. His severed genitals were secretly buried and his blood spread on the fields to ensure the coming harvest. No one wanted to leave the King’s ritual death to chance; especially with the harvest depending on it. It is likely the king was first drugged and forced to dance the maze as part of a ritual to induce a hypnotic altered state; offering a vision of the otherworld before his murder.

Newgrange (Andruss)

There is evidence of such a ritual being performed in the Neolithic mound of Newgrange in Ireland. When scientists played drumming through loudspeakers in the inner chamber, the noise caused the sandy floor of the passageway to dance, forming regularly repeating patterns such as circles, waves and chevrons. The corbelled ceiling created infrasound echoes promoting nausea and disorientation. Coupled with psycho-active drugs such a foxglove, deadly nightshade and the hallucinogenic fungus still known as The Old Man of the Woods, any victim would have been confused, faint, ecstatic, disoriented and hallucinating as he proceeded up the passageway to his fate.

Glastonbury Tor was believed to be the Celtic Underworld. The early Welsh poem, the ‘Spoils of Annwn’, calls Glastonbury Tor Caer Sidi; which not only means a Fairy Castle, but also the Spiral Castle; which may refer to the ceremonial spiral labyrinth, carved into the side of the hill. Perhaps it is referring to the ‘dancing floor’ leading the sacred king to the afterlife.

To the Celts the afterlife was real as this one, so much so they left debts to be settled in the next world. They believed doors between the two realms opened on Samuin and the dead returned, real as the living: ideas which still haunt our Halloween. They believed also in reincarnation – a Greek idea adopted from Pythagoras, but much, much older and found across ancient Asia. In their version of reincarnation you might not only be reborn, but somehow return to life looking exactly as you always had.

By Roman times, the partridge dance was performed by young noblemen. Called the Troy Dance, it was supposed to remember the legend of Roman descent from survivors fleeing the fall of Troy. Troy fell when the Greeks left a hollow wooden horse as an offering to the Trojan gods after they packed up and went home. It was a ruse. The Greek fleet was holed up over the horizon, and the wooden horse was stuffed with soldiers. The Trojan horse was dragged into the city and when everyone was flat out from celebrating, the Greek soldiers emerged and opened the gates to their comrades, who slaughtered everyone.
It led to the old adage: ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’. Although one could equally say… ’Beware of gifts bearing Greeks.’

The turf-cut mazes were called ‘Troy Town’ in English, which is ‘Caer-droia’ in Welsh. According to the 9th century chronicle of the ‘Historia Britonum’, Britain was settled by survivors of Troy. The first British King, Brutus, was the grandson of a Trojan prince. Geoffrey of Monmouth recounted the tale in his ‘History of British Kings’.

The Brutus legend was believed true up to Tudor times and many ancient documents, referred to Britain as a ‘Remnant of Troy’. Legend says Brutus and his followers landed at the town of Totnes in Devon, around 80 miles from Glastonbury. A stone in the town, known as the ‘Brutus Stone’, commemorates his arrival.

The original pattern of the labyrinth circling Glastonbury Tor may date as far back as 8,000 years to the Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, when farming first spread to Europe. The same design is found from the eastern Mediterranean to Scandinavia, North-eastern Russia and Ireland. Two mazes are carved on a rock slab near Bosinney in Cornwall; and another is carved on a massive granite block from the Wicklow Hills in Ireland. All are thought to date from the same period.

Rocky Valley Labyrinth Carvings (Britain Express)

©PaulAndruss 2017

My thanks to Paul for this intriguing article that will make me pay more attention to those attending the Glastonbury Festival in future… Little do they know that their shenanigans are minor compared to others who have danced there.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.