I came to the end of my Bardic course back in February, although, life had its own events and I am still in my ‘gathering my notes before I submit my review’ stage.
Going through my journals (I’m currently on my 5th), I found this entry of going to the stone circle at Froggart’s Edge back in September 2010! I’d only just joined OBOD and this was just before meeting the Grove, for the first time, with Lady Morgana at Alban Elfed of that year:
Performing the Bardic Ceremony (which back then, for me, was peace to the quarters, drawing the circle and saying the Druid’s prayer- swot that I was/am and then making the rest up as I felt appropriate) and sitting in the middle of the circle, facing South. I closed my eyes, steadied my breathing and performed the LBE…
‘..I began to receive certain words, Taurus, Eye of Taurus (Aldebaran), Silvanus Vernicum, even Herne. Druids and witches celebrating at night (the birch trees to the West entrance were covered in clooties). I found myself going deeper, to try and communicate with the spirit of the circle that was worshipped so long ago. I saw the night and a girl hiding behind the rocks. I bade her to come forward and that I meant no harm. She was young, about 16-19 yrs old. She had long black waving curls and large brown eyes, dusky skin. She seemed wrapped in shadow, only her face and skin were exposed. She was beautiful in a fierce and savage way, not provocative. Asking her name, she said she was called “Annis”. She nodded when I asked if she was the spirit of the circle and wrapped the shadows around her like a cloak. She told me this in a soft, cracked voice that became stronger as she went on:
“I am the Goddess and the sacrificed,
I am the queen and the offering,
I am the lover and the mother,
I am the dark that greets the light of the morning Sun,
I am the gift along with the bull,
These stones lie forgotten in their use.
Others come and worship Herne, he is not here, they are wrong.
My name is Annis!”
She stands wrapped in the dark, her eyes wide and her face proud. When I see her face and skin its like I’m seenig her being glowed by the light of a fire. She disappears….. Coming to, I dispel the circle and pull out my runes in answer to whether I can come here again. The rune is Othila, rune of heritage, homestead and inheritance. I leave an offering of water in the egg shaped hole.’
Now, this was before the time I knew about Black Annis, associated with Leicestershire. I did a bit of research when I got back to my parents and found the following:
Froggarts Edge Stone Circle, aka Stoke Flat.
Entrance is SSW.
Built in Bronze Age (2300bc-700bc), burial Urn was discovered by Duke of Rutland in 1939 AD.
Female energy detected according to HedgeDruid.com.
As for the Eye of Taurus, I discovered that in the Age of Taurus, the constellation marked the point of the Vernal Equinox between 4000bc-1700bc. Supposedly, the VE was the New Year of that time.
No remains of slaughtered animals or people, though. – 30th September 2010.
Looking back at the entry, I still remember that day well: the bright Sun as my family hiked, the strong winds of that year blowing my locks back. I would have given offerings differently, in the form of milk or a biscuit with honey on it at the base of the stone (so Nature could take it in her own way). I would have liked to have asked Annis what actually went on there.
Thing is, I had actually heard of Annis before. At least, I had come across another version. Written as ‘Black Annis’ in a book that I own*. Although the description is a lot more sinister than the being I encountered; and Black Annis was based in Leicestershire.
So I was a little surprised when the spirit gave me her name and it was THAT name. Up until then, I had simply forgotten about Black Annis, dismissing her as a bogeyman-vampire type monster….. Fool that I am.
It wasn’t until much later through conversations with Tatterhood that I learned more about Black Annis and the local traditions associated with her. And so I wonder if she is in fact a local form of the Cailleach? More about that another time.
I am not an astronomer or astrologer, I found my information regarding Taurus marking the Vernal Equinox at this site since 2010: : http://www.skyscript.co.uk/taurus_myth.html
The Hedge Druid link is still active and has been updated, although the bit about ‘female energy detected’ is no longer there.
I have a feeling that my research back then was looking up on Wikipedia, which although not reliable, is great for finding sources. If any of my readers do actually know the workings and calculations involved with the sidereal plane and can verify as to whether or not Aldebaran and the constellation Taurus DID mark the vernal equinox somewhere between 4000-1700BC (Which would be a little early for the circle as it was thought to have been built in the Bronze age, see above) then that would be a nice “hit” indeed. Plus I’ll happily announce it in another blog post and give full credit, whether the outcome is positive or negative. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, simple. I think its doubtful that Annis’ people would have used the names Aldebaran and Taurus as we are talking about an insular tribe who probably used their own names and words for the stars and constellations.
*David Rankine & Sorita D’Este, Isle of the Many Gods, An A-Z of the Pagan Gods & Goddesses worshipped in Ancient Britain during the First Millenium CE through to the Middle Ages, Avalonia, London, 2007, p.82.