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February 13, 2000

Out of the Marvellous - Black Masses, Lord Dunsany and Falling Fish

Posted by daev

Time does fly - yet another chasm gapes between the previous issue and this one. Its been a quiet couple of months, with very little in the way of Irish paranormal tales coming our way - but we've not been not been idle (the devil found work for us). On the Blather website can be found a fledgling, or worse still, skeleton bookstore, where we hope to start reviewing and recommending books.

  1. Tempus Fugit - The Headitorial
  2. Out of the Marvellous - Seamus Heaney, and Ancient Irish UFOs
  3. No Such Place - Lord Dunsany, falling fish, and no such Ireland
  4. Yeats and the Black Arts - Black Masses in Dublin?
  5. TPC Meta Holistic Systems - The Ongoing Saga

Before we attempt to escape the subject of 'time', a small padded parcel arrived last month, and it bore a postmark of January 3rd in Smithtown, New York, USA. Inside was contained 1) A business card from one David L. Anderson from the Time Travel Research Center, Smithtown, NYC. 2) A small 'Seasons Greetings' card, with a logo of three reindeer pulling what appears to be a 'Time Machine' from the 1960 movie version of the H.G. Wells story. 3) A lapel pin, bearing the logo of the aforementioned research centre.

We were a little confused - it was not just that we were surprised, but after racking our brains, we concluded that we had never even heard of the TTRC. Have we met them at some point in the *future*, and they very kindly time-travelled back to January 2000, in order so that I would be aware of them? What's that you say? 'Oh Blatheretic One, surely you jest?.' My dear... when have we ever been serious?

We shall be in New York City this week... and will keep a close eye for apparent paradoxes, and people in unlikely clothing bearing lapel pins... Those of you in Ireland or the UK may have caught *Disinfo Nation* on Channel 4 last Thursday night... visionary artist Paul Laffoley was on it, with *his* design for a time machine. We're definitely sure to encounter him in the next few days - we're off to to NYC to experience Disinfo.Con 2000. Speakers include Robert Anton Wilson, Kenneth Anger, er... Marilyn Manson, Genesis P-Orridge, Joe Coleman, Kenn Thomas, Robert Sterling and loads more...

Some writings by Blather's daev have been popping up on the Disinfo site recently:

*The Mothman Cometh*
A rundown on the tales behind John Keel's book *The Mothman Prophecies*.

*Flight 712: The One That Won't Go Away*
The tale of Ireland's worst air disaster - and the controversy and conspiracy still rage, 30 years later...

*Charles Fort: Scientist Or Humorist?*
A short biography on how he gave his name to forteanism, with a discussion on his work.

*Hell-Fire Clubs*
You're all probably sick of the HFC by now, but for those that aren't may well appreciate this...



    The annals say: When the monks of Clonmacnoise
    Were all at prayers inside the oratory
    A ship appeared above them in the air.

    The anchor dragged along behind so deep
    It hooked itself into the altar rails
    And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,

    A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope
    And struggled to release it. But in vain.
    'This man can't bear our life down here and will drown,'

    The abbot said, 'unless we help him.' So
    They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back
    Out of the marvellous as he had known it.

    - From the poem *Lightenings, in *Seeing Things*, ISBN 0-571-14469-1 pp62, Seamus Heaney , Faber and Faber, 1991

Unfortunately for us, Heaney doesn't state quite which annal contains the tale - Peter Alderson Smith's *Fortean Phenomena in the Annals of the Four Masters* (Fortean Times 54:51) doesn't mention it... we've been delving into the *Annals of Clonmacnoise* for a look recently to no avail, and we've found some interesting things. Rather than list them all in here, in one fell (foul?) swoop, we'll quote a couple here now, and continue to do so, over the next few issues.

P112, AD 715:
'It reigned a shower of honey on Ohinmbig, a shower of Money on Ohinmore, and shower of Blood upon the ffosses of Leinster, for which cause Neal Frossach who was then borne was called Neal Frossac'
[Ohinmbig: Fahan, on the east shore of Lough Swilly. Frossac means 'of the showers'. Neal Frossac became ardrigh (high king) in 782.]

P118, AD 742:
'There were drogons seen in the skyes.'

P118, AD 744:
'There was a Strange thing seen in Ulster in the time of Fiaghna McHugh Royne K. of Ulster, & the time of Eahagh McBreassall, Prince of Neathagh, or Iveagh of Ulster, which was this: The seas have put a whale of a shore in that Contry, in whose head there were three teeth of Gould, every of the teeth weighed five ounces, & for the strangeness of the thing there was one of the teeth brought to Beanchor, & there laid on ye Alter for a wonder which remained there for a long space.'

P118, AD 744:
'There were shipes seen in the skyes with their men this yeare.'

[Thanks to Sean Hillen ( and Garrett Fagan for their help on this matter.]

Variations on Irish 'Cloudship' Stories:

The Smoking Cannon

More Damned Flying Ships

Super-Sargasso Surfin'


'...And I told how I came from Ireland, which is of Europe, whereat the captain and all the sailors laughed, for they said, "There are no such places in all the land of dreams."'
- *Idle Days on the Yann*, by Lord Dunsany, in *The Hashish Man and Other Stories *.

That's a book we've been reading recently, and in it we found a sly reference to some classic fortean phenomena - phenomena which seems almost normal in comparison to the weird worlds of Lord Dunsany. In his short story *The Idle City*, he writes:

    'Then a man stood up who came out of the west, and told a western tale. He said:

    "There is a road in Rome that runs through the ancient temple that once the gods had loved; it runs along the top of a great wall, and the floor of the temple lies far down beneath it, of marble, pink and white.

    "Upon the temple floor I counted to the number of thirteen hungry cats.

    "'Sometimes,' they said among themselves, 'It was the gods that lived here, sometimes it was men, and now it's cats. So let us enjoy the sun on the hot marble before another people comes.'

    "For it was at that hour of a warm afternoon when my fancy is able to hear the silent voices.

    "And the fearful leanness of all those thirteen cats moved me to go into a neighbouring fish shop, and there to buy a quantity of fishes. Then I returned and threw them all over the railing at the top of the great wall, and they fell for thirty feet, and hit the sacred marble with a smack.

    "Now, in any other town but Rome, or in the minds of any other cats, the sight of fish falling out of heaven had surely excited wonder. They rose slowly, and all stretched themselves, then they came leisurely towards the fishes. 'It is only a miracle,' they said in their hearts."


Blather has received a communication from one Peter Bridgman, who, in his researches of alleged black masses in Dublin - in the 19th and early 20th century rather than anything contemporary, came across this wee nugget in a biography of poet William Butler Yeats, which tells of his close shave with the devil, so to speak. If any readers have further light to throw on the subject, speak now, or forever hold thy peace...

    'There were also expeditions to less respectable spiritual groups. Yeats now discovered in Dublin "a whole colony" of black magicians "of the most iniquitous kind", he told Lionel Johnson. While "good Theosophists" were known to "shake in their shoes at the mention of their name", Yeats claimed he was amused by their "hideous costumes" and worship of Isis. The tone of his letter admirably captures his scepticism. "The black magicians have invited me to drop in on an incantation now and again as a compliment to my knowledge of the black art. They have not got enough in the way of soul left to cover an old sixpence but that does not matter much for the present". Yeats's critical faculty was not always so in evidence, however. In the house of Dr. Sigerson, Yeats the occultist experimented with hypnotism and a crystal ball in which a seer (who was probably Mrs Sigerson) claimed to see a vision of a gigantic figure waving his arms around some golden letters. Yeats was wildly excited until Dr Sigerson pointed out that what the seer could actually see was the reflection of a man cleaning the windows by the sign on the Medical Hall opposite'. *WB Yeats - A Life*, p96, Stephen Coote, 1997

We, at Blather, being aficionados of the works of Oliver St. John Gogarty - poet, politician, pilot, patriot, surgeon, novelist and wit - are reminded of the caper in chapter 13 of his book *As I Was Going Down Sackville St. - A Phantasy In Fact* (1937), where Yeats attempts to raise the ghost which reputedly haunted Gogarty's Co. Galway home, Renvyle House in Connemara. As we're not about to quote *an entire chapter*, readers will, for now, have to make do with this taster...the events which preceded the seance.

    'On another night, when the main seas were disturbed, I heard the sounding of a siren far off shore: no hope for any ship on that shark-toothed coast.
    Nearer the sounds came, until I imagined that there was a motor car feeling its way along the back drive to the yard by the beach. And, finally, drowsily I put the noise down to the drumming of some night insect that had entered the room. To me there were no further manifestations, or they were forgotten. Not so to Yeats.

    "Willie," said his wife one evening, "do not leave me to dress alone. I do not want to see that face again looking out from the glass."

    Doors had been opening quietly and shutting quietly as we sat in the library before dinner. I never paid much attention them, attributing their opening and shutting to the opening and shutting of doors in the passage side of the very thick walls.

    "What face?" I asked. But I was not answered. Yeats and his wife left the room. I was resigned to being treated as uninitiated, but my friends looked at one another. Evan Morgan, a Cymric Celt, from immemorial Wales, felt the supernatural at once.

    "You never told me about this," he complained, all alert.

    Now, you cannot ask a man to meet a ghost, because ghosts are not to be counted on.

    "I did not care to talk about it," I said. "I thought that Yeats..."

    "I could not say - "If you met Yeats you met enough of faery, as much as I am ever likely to meet." I implied that it far more in Yeats' province than mine, and, that being so, the omission was not mine wholly. But he was not quite satisfied.

    My hospitality fell short of the necromantic.'

[Gogarty's wonderful *As I Was Going Down Sackville St.* is available from the Blather bookstore]


Shrewd readers may well have noticed a link we printed, to the site of that 'Three Elephants' bunch and their highly questionable behaviour. Well, it would seem that the TPC are not ones to shy away from controversy, oh no. This time, they've raised the ire of one Hardy Rickenbacker, a Canadian 'research assistant', who has gone to the bother of building a website to highlight

    'a number of serious concerns to world saftey [sic] - for most among these is the threat posed by the Global Technocrats and the 3 Elephant conspiracy: namely TPC Meta Holistic Systems - a "so called" new age corporation set on world domination through mind control.'

Dear Hardy also has some er, interesting, ideas about what 'Brittany Spears' *really means* on his website...

Posted by daev at February 13, 2000 8:11 PM

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