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Thread: Grave for a Wizard and a Magical Artifact

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    Senior Member United States skywizard's Avatar
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    Grave for a Wizard and a Magical Artifact




    A Spellbinding Story of Discovery

    Powerful wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers wielding supernatural staffs and spells have captivated our imaginations for thousands of years. Characters like Merlin, Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Yoda are icons of popular culture and continue to spellbind both children and adults. These fictional characters were in a great part inspired by real life people who dedicated their lives to developing scientific thought, hermetic philosophy, divination, and priestcraft. By the 16th century every Royal Court in Europe employed at least one in-house alchemist who blended esotericism and natural philosophy into a rich system of magical thought. This story recounts the discovery of a medieval wizard’s grave and the magical artifact I unearthed there, which still completely mystifies me.


    Uaigh Mhurcha Riabhaich

    I was brought up in Caithness in the north east of Scotland and for many years I had been fascinated as to why the 1871 Ordnance Survey 25″ map depicted a dotted circle bearing the title Uaigh Mhurcha Riabhaich (ND 2454 5479). We recently filmed at this location as story is being featured in an upcoming episode of The People’s History Show on STV. A little research revealed that the name had been associated with this remote spot at the east-end of Loch Watten for over 600 years.

    Taking the Wizard’s Head

    Caithness folk in the village of Watten still tell their children the tale of a powerful wizard who was murdered, decapitated, and buried in a circular grave at the end of the loch. This folktale was recorded with many others by James Calder in his 1887 History of Caithness. Between 1350 and 1372 Paul Macintyre of Creichmore’s sent his son Gillespie north to Caithness to collect cows in lieu of late rents. His small militia was led by Murdo Rivach Mackenzie, a respected Highland warrior and sorcerer. While heading south with a herd of cows they were ambushed at the east end of Loch Watten by a gang of Caithness men, who murdered Gillespie and Murdo.

    Being a wizard, Murdo was quickly decapitated and his body was burned where it fell. His head was taken south with Gillespie's corpse and crossing the Ord (A9 road) the party squabbled and Murdo's head was lost over a cliff while Gillespie's body was washed away as they tried to cross the River Helmsdale. It is written that Murdo's magically imbued battle sword was preserved for some time by the Budges of Toftingall - who eventually returned it to Kenneth Mackenzie of Seaforth in 1688. Little more is known about Murdo Rivach other than that he was regarded as a brave outlaw and a powerful wizard.


    A wizard conjuring a man from his grave.


    What Was Murdo Rivach?

    The name Murdo is Celtic in origin and in contemporary Gaelic it means ‘Sea Warrior ’. It’s possible the circular grave is that of an important Norse chieftain, priest or shaman, an idea supported in the fact that in 1954, only 600 meters (1968.5 ft.) upstream archaeologists discovered the grave of a woman from the Viking era. Furthermore, in William. F. Skene’s 1886 book Celtic Scotland, he tells of a battle between Ljotr/Liot, a powerful 10th century Norse Jarl of Caithness and Orkney and a Scottish earl called Magbiod (Macbeth) which fought at Skida Myre (Skitten Moor) near Watten. Having won the battle, Ljotr died of his wounds shortly after and was buried at Stenhouse near Watten. His grave is said to be marked by a stone named Stone Hone which is located only 500 meters (1640.4 ft.) NNW of Murdo Rivach’s grave.

    Just 200 meters (656.2 ft.) south of Murdo Rivach’s grave, at Greystones Farm, a single standing stone penetrates a field and the remains of a standing stone circle is located 600 meters (1968.5 ft.) upstream. A few miles north in the parish of Bower another standing stone, called Stone Lud, was the favored marker for Victorian Historians trying to identify the burial site of Jarl Ljot. However, it can be said with confidence that both Stone Hone and Stone Lud were erected in the Neolithic era (4000-2000 BC) and neither are Viking grave markers.

    Where and How Was Murdo Buried?

    The 1871, Ordinance Survey Name Book reads; “This is rather a peculiar feature situated about 120 yards south from the S.E. end of Loch Watten, in a field close to the public road; its formation is circular being about 60 links (approx. 391/2 ft.) in diameter, possibly at one time trenched round.” The OS mappers suspected the site was possibly a Danish (Viking) camp because it was circular in construction and made of a type of clay which was totally different from neighboring fields.

    The Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments (RCAHM) has several entries about this site: In 1872, it was recorded as a possible Danish camp (a circular construction of clay about 60 links in diameter,) and it was noted that "a wizard named Mhurcha Riabhach was shot and buried here about 1720 .” In 1963, a record states “ the only trace of the feature is a very slight depression 13.3m in diameter, in an arable field.” In 1982, there was no change to the previous field report and in 1995 it was noted that it was "a slight depression but covered in hay ricks.”

    Turn towards Loch Watten at the Brown Trout Hotel. The grave site is 700 meters (2296.6 ft.) along the road on the right-hand side.

    Discovering the Adder Stone

    I set out one weekend in 2012 to locate Murdo Rivach’s Grave and upon measuring the diameter of the circle, outwards from its center, a curiously shaped stone peered at me through the top soil.


    Ashley Cowie with the artifact recovered from Murdo's grave.


    This piece of sandstone had spent many millennia in the sea and its edges appear to have been serrated, but this might be damage resulting from its oceanic origins or ploughing. Two of the stones faces, and one edge, resemble human faces with two eyes and mouths. In many countries, this find could be dismissed as ‘just a stone’ but when interpreted against its social background it might be much, much more.

    Holed stones were regarded as magical as early as the beginning of the second millennium BC (Murray,1943) "Perforated stone amulets were not only seen as hostile to the multifarious crafts of witches but also…protective against the much dreaded evil eye …as such these stones were deliberately placed with three in a room and one in a grave.” (Elworthy, 1903).

    Similar natural stones with human faces have been recovered in North Germany, Egypt, and Scotland, where “stones with natural holes in them, forming faces, were formerly believed to have magical powers of various kinds.” (Hole, 1980; Edwards, 2008). In ancient Egypt, natural stones with human faces were called aggry or aggro and were central to rituals and ceremonies.

    Historically, in Scotland these stones go by several names: Holey Stones, Witch Stones, Mare-Stones, Wish Stones, Hag Stones, Druids’ Stones, Druids’ Eggs, and Serpent Eggs. In the south of Scotland, they were most commonly ‘Adder Stanes’ and in the north, where Scottish Gaelic prevailed, they were called ‘Gloine nan Druidh’ – ‘Druids Glass’. Adder stones were held in extremely high esteem, "the most distinguishing articles of Druidic decoration”.


    A collection of threaded Adder Stones.


    They were used to protect people and their possessions against negative forces and were most often hung in windows and above doorways. They were also placed above beds to protect sleepers from nightmares, perceived as working in a similar way to native American dream-catchers. Albeit the perceived powers of these stones varied from place to place, depending on the local customs and traditions. All across Scotland farmers used them to protect their fields from demons spreading disease and wolves attacking their livestock. In 17th century Scotland and Norway, mariners guarded their ships against violent sea witches and fatally seductive fin-folk (half seal-half human creatures in Norse mythology) by attaching these stones to their hulls.

    Adder stones were sometimes placed in fields and on doorsteps to protect people, animals, and harvests against curses/hexes and belief in their healing properties was widespread - especially their ability to cure snake bites. When worn as an amulet/pendant around the neck they were thought to aid overall healing, ease painful wounds, and offer spiritual protection against witches and witchcraft, on land and at sea.


    Stone with a hole (hagstone or Adder stone).


    Conclusions

    All over Europe, ancient peoples believed that holes in natural features were portals or gateways into the fairie dimension, populated with mythical Fae folk, giants, elves, demons, and spirits. Myths recount people looking at the full moon through honey stones and whispering wishes and spells. To have discovered one on a wizard’s grave is a remarkable cultural find.




    Source:
    http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancie...907?page=0%2C1


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    Quote Originally Posted by skywizard View Post
    Conclusions

    All over Europe, ancient peoples believed that holes in natural features were portals or gateways into the fairie dimension, populated with mythical Fae folk, giants, elves, demons, and spirits. Myths recount people looking at the full moon through honey stones and whispering wishes and spells. To have discovered one on a wizard’s grave is a remarkable cultural find.
    I'm building a new theory... Sink holes, Holes in rocks... these often happen in areas that get clashing fronts of weather (I think, zero research so far).

    I think they represent the Hutchinson (extreme interference fields from various sources that destabilize matter) effect, which hurricanes and tornadoes also seem to exhibit.

    Sink holes I feel would be the key to prove/disprove this theory... one would have to correlate sink holes with oppositionnal weather fronts (clockwise / counter clockwise clashes... Cold/hot etc...).

    Or maybe it's nothing.. keeps popping up in my head though.
    Question everything. Always.

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    Senior Member Amanda's Avatar
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    Modwiz - What a thought provoking thread. Lately I have been pondering Merlin and I have a recurring thought that Merlin and perhaps other 'Magicians/Wizards' were in fact not an actual person. Researching Merlin I discovered that no definitive birth or death records have been located. This seems to be a theme - as your thread above indicates as well - just myths and legends with no actual documented factual reference.

    I am not suggesting they were not actual people who existed as Humans do but I am wrestling with a theory. Now I want to be clear, black or white magic/magik is all the same to me and I have never been interested in participating but I am a keen reader and like to learn. Ignorance is not my friend. So I have pondered the theory that Merlin and perhaps others of his mythical ilk were in fact not an actual person. Perhaps they were a reference to the practice of sorcery or alchemy or other esoteric sciences? Perhaps the need to be secretive, lest those that practiced were killed as per the ill fated Murdo in your thread information?

    What if our ancient Earth history is in fact littered with mythical references to entities or practices or some other faction that are not actual people but something entirely not human? Even King Arthur has a genetic history that can be physically traced and even has a connection to Joseph of Arimathea but not so the (mythical) Merlin who was very much associated with his court and reign.

    What if Murdo and other ancient myths are not actually connected to a person? What if ...?

    Thanks for stimulating my critical thinking Skywizard.

    Much Respect - Amanda

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    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    How about this: Merlyn is another word for Wizard. There were many Merlyns because there were many Wizards. One very memorable one was apparently in Arthur's Court.

    Wouldn't John Dee also be a Wizard? We now have many 007s.

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    Senior Member Amanda's Avatar
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    Anyone notice the Masonic Symbol on the chest of the Wizard depicted in the artwork - in the opening thread. Hmmm...

    Much Respect - Amanda

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    It was the first thing I noticed. Artistic flair, IMO, although the artist does seem to be throwing a hint or clue of what they might believe into their art.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    How about this: Merlyn is another word for Wizard. There were many Merlyns because there were many Wizards. One very memorable one was apparently in Arthur's Court.

    Wouldn't John Dee also be a Wizard? We now have many 007s.
    A a Christian (Dee), I would not describe him as a Wizard. He was a magician working with energies that were clearly not very human friendly.
    Last edited by modwiz; 18th May 2017 at 23:16.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amanda View Post
    Anyone notice the Masonic Symbol on the chest of the Wizard depicted in the artwork - in the opening thread. Hmmm...

    Much Respect - Amanda
    Doesn't look like the compass and square to me,, more like two compass's

    Though I thought hte same thing when I saw it, so it must have been the intent.
    Question everything. Always.

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    Magician, not Wizard? I've no wish to malign Wizards. I'm not an expert on the subtleties of types of magic users. Wizard, Sorcerer, Magician, Warlock, etc.

    And then there's the Witch.

    Peoples' comprehension of that word is a joke. If I actually meet someone who's not a witch and has a true understanding of what that means I'll fall on my knees in praise.

    BTW, I'm not a Witch.

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    Question everything. Always.

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    Now this is magic!


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    The Derivation Of The Word "Witch"
    Doreen Valiente

    Strangely enough, the derivation of the word witch is a subject on which scarcely any two authorities can be found to agree. The most frequent explanation is that it is akin to the word wise, and that witchcraft therefore means The Craft of the Wise.

    It is widely believed that Gerald Gardner originated this derivation. However, this is incorrect, as it appears in Hugh Ross Williamson's book, The Arrow and the Sword, first published in 1947, before any of Gerald Gardner's books on witchcraft. But is this the right derivation?

    Not according to Professor Jeffrey Russell, who gives an appendix on this subject in his book A History of Witchcraft (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980). Professor Russell rejects any connection with the Old English word witan, meaning to know, as he also does with the Old English wican, to bend. In his opinion, the real origin comes from the Indo-European word weik, which has a general connection with religion and magic. From this very ancient root-word came in turn, among other things, a word wikk, meaning magic and sorcery, and this eventually produced the Old English wicca, a male witch, wicce, a female witch, and the verb wiccian, to bewitch or work witchcraft.

    It will be seen from the above that "Wicca" does not mean "witchcraft" and never did, in spite of its widespread modern use. So how did this usage originate? In his biography, Gerald Gardner: Witch, it describes his initiation in "Old Dorothy's" house, and says, 'It was half way through when the word Wica was first mentioned: "and I then knew that that which I had thought burnt out hundreds of years ago still survived."' It will be seen that at this time Gerald didn't even know how to spell the word. Its correct spelling is as above. Nor, unfortunately, does this account state in what context the word was used. It might have been that Old Dorothy's coven was simply proclaiming Gerald a male witch, in which case this would have been an accurate use of the word.

    So where did Gerald get the idea that "Wicca" meant witchcraft? I would like to advance a theory of my own. I must emphasize that this is just a theory, and I may be wrong. But I believe that this idea originated from his reading of a book which I know that he possessed, namely An Encyclopedia of Occultism by Lewis Spence. This very valuable work of reference first appeared in 1920, according to the mention of it in the bibliography at the end of Gerald's book, Witchcraft Today. It has recently been re-issued by Bracken Books under the title of The Encyclopedia of the Occult. The entry referring to witchcraft begins: "Witchcraft: (from Saxon Wicca, a contraction of witega, a prophet or sorcerer)." This could have been read and misunderstood to mean that "Wicca" meant witchcraft, and this misconception has been carried on through the ranks of modern witches ever since.

    It has to be said, of course, that the word Wicca has its uses to define the present-day revival, especially in the USA, where a number of associations using this word have gained legal recognition as religious bodies. Personally, however, I prefer the term The Old Religion, which is the English equivalent of the Italian term used by the followers of Aradia, namely La Vecchia Religione. (See Charles Godfrey Leland's book, Aradia: or the Gospel of the Witches, first published in 1899.)

    (Incidentally, there is a legend in witchcraft circles to the effect that the reason why the original edition of this book is so rare is that old Gerald bought up all the copies he could find and destroyed them. Whether there is any truth in this or not, I cannot say.)

    In spite of Professor Russell's opinion, as quoted above, there is an older derivation of the word witch that may perhaps be worthy of consideration. This may be found in A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language by the Rev. Walter W Skeat (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1901). This book discusses the above-mentioned derivations from wicca, wicce, etc., and then in turn connects these old words with the Norwegian vikja, which means firstly 'to turn aside' and secondly 'to conjure away'. Thus, speculates the Rev. Skeat, the word witch possibly meant 'averter'.

    He also mentions that the Anglo-Saxon word witega, a prophet or seer, comes from the Anglo-Saxon witan, to observe, which he says is 'cognate with witan, to know.'. We have seen that Lewis Spence regarded witega as the origin of wicca. So who is right? In spite of all claims, it seems to me that it remains a matter of opinion. One thing we do know is that the word came to Britain with the Saxons, who at the time of their arrival on these shores were pagans. I believe that to them, the word witch (or whichever of its forerunners they used), did not necessarily have any derogatory meaning. A witch was a seer, a knower, an averter of evil. The word only took on a negative meaning with the coming of Christianity, which taught that all the gods of the heathen were devils. So anyone who clung o the old ways and the Old Religion was a devil worshipper. And annually, around Halloween, we still see the same old charges being made in the same old spirit of bigotry. Isn't it sad that these good folk haven't learnt anything since the Dark Ages?
    Speaking from my own self...the Norwegian word vikja means to yield or to avoid something and in that there is wisdom. So if you are traveling from a point to another point it would make sense to avoid obstacles on your way. A wise witch could inform you of the obstacles ahead, if you asked her. Makes sense?
    Whatever is true. Whatever is noble. Whatever is right. Whatever is lovely. Whatever is admirable. Anything of excellence and worthy of praise. Dwell on these things. Jesus Christ (I agree)

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    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Awesome. (no sarcasm)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    Awesome. (no sarcasm)
    yeah right...
    Whatever is true. Whatever is noble. Whatever is right. Whatever is lovely. Whatever is admirable. Anything of excellence and worthy of praise. Dwell on these things. Jesus Christ (I agree)

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