Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sheelanagigs, in cultures closer to nature

The Normans are also known as Northmen, the Vikings.

Among their conquest achievements is their invasion of England from Normandy, the area of France given to them to keep them from plundering up the Seine any longer. And, from England and Wales, on to Ireland.

After conversion to Christianity, the Normans built churches with distinguishing characteristics, see www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_church_architecture; and www.mondes-normands.caen.fr/angleterre/cultures/GB_FR/culture6_3.

The Normans built their churches wherever they went - see, for example, in Sicily, in the crusades era. See the Monreale post at Sicily Road Ways.

On many in the British Isles, you also will find - if your eyes will tell your brain, and your brain will let it through -- that there are unclothed forms on Norman churches. These are called sheelanagigs, and they can be either gender. They may be up high, as the first one we found at St. Clement's, Rodel, Harris, the Hebrides. The sheelanagig there is midway up the tower, and quite small, but intentionally placed on a course there. See Hebrides Road Ways

Some explanations say they are fertility symbols, some say they stem from old Celtic forms, as at crossroads or patted for luck or for children; others have no explanation. How they look: Some are dignified, some are exhibitionist, some are hag-ish, others are quite lovely. Here is a closeup of the one here at St. Clement's. Do visit this site for long descriptions and many pictures of sheelanagigs. www.sheelanagig.org.

Biography - Following People, Real or Fictional, and Songs

Here is a good overall biography resource: //www.biographybase.com/bio/a.

Follow signs for any real or fictional person. Or, you may just come upon one at a cafe. Here we found James Joyce, in Pula, Istria, Croatia - near the old Roman gate.

Spain. Ernest Hemingway was in Spain in the 1930's, among many other places. See www.timelesshemingway.com/thearoom/generalsec1. See the Hemingway post at
Spain Road Ways

France. Joan of Arc is over much of northern France. See www.archive.joan-of-arc.org; and
France Road Ways

Germany. The Brothers Grimm are centered in Germany. A fine museum is at Kassel. It was hard to find with our map, but we just parked finally, and walked through a large park rather than cope with one-way streets. The Brothers Grimm tales are the subject of www.nationalgeographic.com/grimm/index2. Our culture waters them down ridiculously. Are our children so fragile that they can't hear the real thing? I have an old Grimm from the late 1800's, early 1900's, and Rapunzel becomes "with child," the young man falls off the ladder and is blinded in the briars, she wanders int he wilderness and has twins, and ultimately they meet up again.

Rome. The Romans were over most of southern and central Europe. See www.bbc.co.uk/schools/romans/; and Germany Road Ways. They knew that it is one thing to conquer, another to administer afterwards, and they did both well - for centuries.

We also dogged these characters, real and fictional - using England as an example of all the springboards:

England. Robin Hood's legacy or compulsory sharing has spawned a New York City anti-poverty effort at www.robinhood.org/home/home.cfm. See character overview at www.boldoutlaw.com/.You can give your opinions at the Robin Hood Society at www.robinhood.ltd.uk/robinhood/index.

England. Find more about King Arthur at www.kingarthursknights.com/.

England. Charles Dickens? see www.helsinki.fi/kasv/nokol/dickens.

England. Chaucer - this site includes music at www.luminarium.org/medlit/chaucer.

England. Thomas a Becket. His life and murder at Canterbury Cathedral are described at www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/becket.

England. Peter Pan. Read the story version yourself at www.literature.org/authors/barrie-james-matthew/the-adventures-of-peter-pan/index.

Wales. And the castles regarding the Prince of Wales and Edward II in www.castlewales.com/caernarfon, and Wales Road Ways.

Scotland. There are Robert the Bruce, see www.magicdragon.com/Wallace/Bruce6. And
and William Wallace (Freedom!"); this site says it is getting at the truth: Wallace . The BBC also has a site: William Wallace overview

Nessie, see Loch Ness

and Rob Roy MacGregor in Scotland. See Rob Roy; Scotland Road Ways

Orkney, Ireland, Shakespeare. King Lot at Orkney. Early British Kingdoms

England and Scotland. Samuel Johnson at Dunvegan at Electric Scotland

The Huns, Huns. See the map of the migrations there. There are vestiges in Transylvania also. See Romania Road Ways

Everywhere. The Plague, www.themiddleages.net/plague.

Italy and France. Leonardo, www.mos.org/leonardo/bio.

England again. Dickens, www.online-literature.com/dickens/. Note to parents and teachers - educate yourself about what kind of term paper resource this is. I hadn't looked into them before. More traditional site is www.ontalink.com/literature/charlesdickens/index.

There will be plenty of signs for the other big sights as we go anywhere. We just don't focus on them. Sing whatever song you know about the place name or from the place as you go. Great for Paris and Ireland and Germany.

Brave people overcome: Marketgarden, Uskoks, Vinegar Hill, Templars, Heretics all over

Remember the overrun. Ours is a violent past. Look for this greed and power theme: Who lost out to history?

1. Operation Marketgarden, WWII in The Netherlands (A Bridge Too Far): Nijmegen and Arnhem. See www.rememberseptember44.com/. If the Allies had ultimately lost, what memorial would have lasted at these places for the people who died? History is told by the victors.

Is this true: Who gets in the books, and how, depends on the interest of the victor.

2. Croatia's Uskoks. Go to the city of Senj. See Croatia Road Ways That was an Uskok town, with their fortress at the top of the hill. I understand the Uskoks were refugees as the Turks pressed north and as the Ottoman Empire expanded on and on. The Uskoks settled at Senj and then assisted the Venetians and other Croatians against the Turks.

They were so successful, that the Turks were stopped, but then the Uskoks had to defend against their erstwhile allies, the Venetians, who turned against them, and ultimately demolished them. Greed and force.

3. Ireland and Vinegar Hill. See Ireland Road Ways Go up that hill, and feel how it was for farmboys with pitchforks to ascend against cannon. There is a statue in Wexford showing that. Vinegar Hill at least is remembered in folksong, however - remember Father Murphy. Next St. Patrick's Day. He was with the boys at Vinegar Hill, and was executed for it. Politics and force.

4. Here is a big one. The Knights Templar. Interest stems from seeing Templar castle, off on hill, inaccessible, Croatia. Misguided destruction; then the destruction of the destroyers. Tradition lives on. See the founding of the Knights Templar at users.1st.net/whitacre/templars. And at www.crystalinks.com/templars.

Find out for yourself what they did, what they learned and hid, if anything, and who did them in and why; and from as many sources as you can. Not just the movies or current novels.

Quotation attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux justifying Templar existence at the First Crusade by glorifying killing of non-Christians (in Berry, Steve, The Templar Legacy, Ballantine Books 2006 at p.353 (fiction):

"Neither dealing out death nor dying, when for Christ's sake, contains anything criminal but rather merits glorious reward. The soldier of Christ kills safely and dies the more sarely. Not without cause does he bear the sword. He is the instrument of God for the punishment of evildoers and for the defense of the just. When he kills evildoers it is not homicide,but malicide, and he is considered Christ's legal executioner."

Then the fate of the Templars themselves. Friday the 13th. Slaughter. Remnants? Great fun on internet.

Heretics. People who believed what they believed. See an overview of this concept of "heresy" at www2.kenyon.edu/Projects/Margin/heresy. Lions and tigers and bears? Ultimate issue seems to be the challenge to hierarchy. Gone.