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Head Case - A Simulacrum in Eire

Towards the very beginning of Wild Talents, his fourth and final book, Charles Fort wrote: "But my liveliest interest is not so much in things, as in the relation of things. I have spent much time thinking about the alleged pseudo-relations that are called coincidences. What if some of them should not be coincidence?" [1] That is to say it isn't a single anomalous phenomena that is of interest but the phenomena's relationship to the world, whether science or other phenomena, boy scouts or cheese for that matter. It is the perpetually expanding and contracting piece of elastic that links one thing to the other that concerns our thoughts.

Together with a friend I had spent some time on the Dingle Peninsular in the magical Kingdom of Kerry within the isle of Ireland. We had visited stone forts, shrines, film locations, inscribed stones and climbed the holy mountain of Saint Brandon. In the fair Kingdoms pubs we drank a drop of the black stuff and partaken in a sip of the waters-of-life.

 

With plenty left to see and do it was soon unfortunately time to point the car towards Dublin and head for our flight home, a journey that we had planned to take a few days as we wanted to climb the mountains of Carrauntoohil, Galtymore and Lugnaquilla - known to the soldiers at the artillery range there simply as 'The Lug!'

 

At a campsite in Killarney we ate a supper of vegetable stew and drank bottles of Guiness; listened to the local radio station and fed crumbs of bread to a friendly robin.

 

It was going to be one of those great days in the hills, sunshine, peace and quiet, a bit of a walk, a bit of a scramble and topping out on Carrauntoohill, the principle peak of MacGillycuddys Reeks and at 3409 feet high, the highest mountain in all of Ireland.

 

We had parked at a farm beyond the Corrauntoohil Youth Hostel. An old boy told us that it would be a fine day but views would be limited because of a low mist, asking whether or not the sun might not burn off the mist he simply answered "perhaps" - perhaps in this case meaning 'of course not you stupid bloody Englishman!'

Our route up the mountain took us in our shirtsleeves across Black Stream and out onto Hags Glen, following the sinuous flow of the Christ Sorrows Beck towards the scramble known as The Devils Ladder. To the right and above the trail we walked were the crags known as the Hags Teeth and to the left, jutting out obscenely, The Bone.

 

On the breezy summit of Carrauntoohill we paused for a celebratory bottle of Guiness under a giant cross formed from iron girders. We sat soaking in the views and playing a word game of great imagination, cunning and thought. Together taking turns we filled in the blank areas of an imaginary map, a map where from the slopes of 'Long Willy Raise' one could look down upon 'Hobs Black Crack'. You get the idea and where the game is going and the depths to which it would plummet; double entendre, lewdness and the downright pornographic. I digress and so did we!

We descended back the way we came, down The Devils Ladder and onto Hags Glen between Lough Gouragh and Lough Callee, when, just below the jagged prominence of the Hags Teeth my friend pointed out a most wonderfully shaped rock, a simulacra of a grinning hag, a witch or perhaps this being Ireland a banshee.

 

In Wild Talents Charles Fort wrote: "In the New York Times, Feb. 24, 1932, the rector of the church, the Rev. Dr. Robert Norwood, is quoted: 'One day, at the conclusion of my talk, I happened to glance at the sanctuary wall and was amazed to see this lovely figure of Christ in the marble. I had never noticed before. As it seemed to me to be an actual expression on the face of the marble of what I was preaching, His Glorious Body, I consider it a curious and beautiful happening.' I have a weird theory that the force of thought, a dominant thought, may be strong enough to be somehow transferred to stone in its receptive state." [2]

 

It seems only appropriate that within the confines of a church should be found a simulacrum image of Jesus Christ, whilst we, stood upon the grimly sounding Hags Glen and surrounded by such portentous geological features should discover the simulacrum of a hag. Creative thought, imagination, Guiness and pilgrimage are indeed a powerful magical concoction, especially so in such a place as the fair Kingdom of Kerry.

 

Fort continues: "If I could say any pictorial representations that has appeared on the wall of a church that it was probably not an interpretation of chance arrangements of lights and shades, but was a transference from somebody's mind, then from a case like this, of the pretty, the artistic, or of what would be thought of by some persons as the spiritual, and a subject to be treated with reverence, would flow into probability a flood of everything that is bizarre, malicious, depraved, and terrifying in witchcraft and of course jostles of suggestions of uses." [3]

 

So what are we to make of the stone-hag - chance perhaps, a trick of the light maybe; what of coincidence or synchronicity or as Fort suggests - witchcraft!

[1] Charles Fort: The Complete Books of Charles Fort (Dover, NY, 1974), p846

[2] Charles Fort: The Complete Books of Charles Fort (Dover, NY, 1974), p1027

[3] Charles Fort: The Complete Books of Charles Fort (Dover, NY, 1974), p1026