Walking as Art

Mythology & Religion

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth.
                                                                                                                    Revelation, X

Jacob's hip dislocation following his fight with the Angel (1000 BC)

               When Jacob reached the Jordan River he stopped and set up camp in a place called
               Jabbock. That night, he took his family across the river and then returned to the camp.
               All of a sudden an angel grabbed him and they began to wrestle. They fought until
               dawn. Jacob was tired and exhausted, but he was winning the fight. The angel had hurt
               his hip, but he still fought on.

               Finally, when the angel saw the sun coming up he said, "Stop! Let me go! It's dawn."

               "I won't let you go until you bless me," Jacob said.

               He said, 'Jacob.'

               Your name shall no longer be called Jacob rather Israel, for you have
                         struggled with God and with man and you have been
                         victorious.' Jacob asked, and said, 'Please tell me
                         your name.' He said, 'Why are you asking for my
                         name?' And he blessed him there. And Jacob called
                         the place Pniel [God's face], 'for I have seen God face
                         to face and my soul was saved.' The sun rose as he
                         left Pnuel. And he was limping because of his thigh.
                         Therefore the children of Israel do not eat the hip
                         tendon until this very day, for Jacob's thigh joint was
                         afflicted at the hip tendon.

                                                                                    Genesis Chapter 30, Verse 25 & Chapter 33, Verse 4

Incidentally, when Jacob was born, he emerged grasping his twin brother Esau's heel and he was therefore named 'Heel-Catcher'.

Homer (800 BC)


Vulcan Hephaistos (son of Talus) the lame smith-God in a winged wheel-chair (Greek vase)

On this the mighty monster hobbled off from his anvil, his thin legs plying lustily under him. He set the bellows
     away from the fire, and gathered his tools into a silver chest. Then he took a sponge and washed his face and
     hands, his shaggy chest and brawny neck; he donned his shirt, grasped his strong staff, and limped towards the
     door. There were golden handmaids also who worked for him, and were like real young women, with sense and
     reason, voice also and strength, and all the learning of the immortals...       The Illiad, Book 18

Because of his lameness, the god of fire was not respected by his parents Zeus and Hera, who flung him out of Olympus so that he fell to earth (Il. 1.590-94; Il. 18.395-97). To trick them into recalling him, the crafty god sent Hera a throne; she sat on it and was unable to rise, and only Hephaistos knew how to release her. Ares was sent to bring him back, but Hephaistos drove him off with hot coals. Dionysos succeeded with a gentler method, getting him drunk on wine, putting him on a donkey, and bringing him back amid a raucous procession of satyrs.

With regard to the fall of Hephaestus there are again two versions, both Homeric: in Il. 1.590 he is thrown from heaven by Zeus; in Il. 14.395 this is done by Hera, in disgust at his lameness. (So Paus.i. 20. 3, Mythogr. Graec. ed. Westermann p. 372.) The latter account is followed by the hymn; cf. also on 319. Zeus discovered some treachery of Hera's and hung her up by her wrists. Hephaestus became angered at this and condemned Zeus. Zeus immediately flung Hephaestus from the heavens again, breaking both his legs, making him lame.

Hephaestus was rescued by Thetis and Eurynome, who taught him the art of metalwork. He is said to have invented leg braces, which he himself wore (fashioned in gold), despite the scorn he initially encountered. But because of Hephaestus' genius and the exquisite and magical gold objects fashioned in his forge, he was eventually restored to his rightful place among the gods on Mt. Olympus. He married Aphrodite, whose extra-marital affair with Ares was one more source of humiliation for him.

Sing, clear-voiced Muse, of Hephaestus famed for inventions. With bright-eyed Athena he taught men glorious crafts throughout the world, --men who before used to dwell in caves in the mountains like wild beasts. But now that they have learned crafts through Hephaestus the famed worker, easily they live a peaceful life in their own houses the whole year round.

Be gracious, Hephaestus, and grant me success and prosperity!             Hymn To Hephaesus

O Father Zeus, O gods in bliss forever, here is indecorous entertainment for you, Aphrodite, Zeus's daughter, caught in the act, cheating me, her cripple with Ares, - devastating Ares. Cleanlimbed beauty is her joy, not these bandylegs I came into the world with: no one to blame but the two gods who bred me!


Aeneas was lamed in the battle for Troy when Diomedes threw a rock which 'struck Aeneas on the groin where the hip
turns in the joint that is called the cup bone.' The stone crushed his joint and broke both the sinews...' (Illiad,V,303ff.)
But Aeneas was rescued by his mother Aphrodite, healed by other goddesses, and went on to become the father of Rome, as Jacob was of Israel.

The Teutonic Wieland were also lame

Völundur (from the Rydberg's Edda, 1887)

Egill was the foremost of archers and skiers. Egill's brother, Völundur, was a master of smiths and craftsmen, who studied under Mímir himself, and was thought to be an equal to Mímir's sons, if not better. Ívaldi, his sons and kinsmen swore oaths of allegiance to the Gods. Mímir, the guardian of the World Tree, had until now kept away from the Gods' striving to save the world order from the powers of destruction. When Völundur had finished his sword, Mímir saw that the Gods might never succeed. He then left the Underworld, accompanied by his wife, who is the mother of the Dísir of Night, and the Njárar, who are his kinsmen. He went all the way up to the Wolf-Dales, where he came upon Völundur sleeping, and bound him fast with his magical bonds. He confiscated the sword of revenge, brought Völundur down into the Underworld, and imprisoned him in a strong dungeon on an island in the middle of a lake. Mímir's queen ordered Völundur's knee-tendons to be cut, expecting terrible misfortune if ever Völundur escaped.

Daedalus/Icarus & Egil/Wieland

The 3400-year-old legend of flight tells how Daedalus fashioned wings of feathers and wax so he and his son Icarus could fly from prison on Crete to safety in Sicily. When Icarus flew too near the sun, the wax melted, the feathers blew away, and he fell to his death. Daedalus's flight and Icarus's fall have touched our minds ever since.

A ninth-century Moorish inventor named Ibn Firnas built wings and, like Daedalus, covered them with feathers. Firnas crashed and hurt his back. Later, he said he hadn't noticed how birds landed on their tails. He hadn't built a tail to help him land.after an engraving by Goya

About that same time, the Vikings told a story with echoes of both Daedalus and Firnas, but with a new insight. Their hero, Wieland (Wayland), made feathered wings to escape an island prison.

When his brother Egil tested them he crashed -- this time because he'd failed to launch himself into the wind. These insights converge in a story told by the 12th-century English historian William of Malmesbury. He writes about an Anglo-Saxon monk, Eilmer, of Wiltshire Abbey:

Eilmer ... was a man learned for those times ... and in his youth had hazarded a deed of remarkable boldness. He had by some means, I  scarcely know what, fastened wings to his hands and feet so that, mistaking fable for truth, he might fly like Daedalus, and, collecting the breeze on the summit of a tower,

              (That means launching himself into the wind.)

he flew for more than the distance of a furlong. But, agitated by the violence of the wind and the swirling of air, as well as by awareness of his rashness, he fell, broke his legs, and was lame ever after. He himself used to say that the cause of his failure was forgetting to put a tail on

Many names of the Devil turn upon his outward Form. The most striking feature is his lame foot: hence the hinkende teufel (diable boiteux), hinke-bein (limping-leg); the fall from heaven to the abyss of hell seems to have lamed him, like Hephæstus hurled down by Zeus (p. 241). (20) He further resembles that god and the lame smith Wieland (Völundr p. 376) by his skill in working metals and in building, as also by his dwelling in a sooty hell. Here the antithesis to clear shining white Deity demands a dingy black hue, as the dark elves where opposed to the light.

This development of an intrinsic significance in the hero's name finds an unexpected confirmation in the striking similarity of
the Greek fables of Hephaestus, Erichthonius and Daedalus. As Weland offers violence to Beadohild (Volundr to Boovildr), so
Hephaestus lays a snare for Athene, when she comes to order weapons of him; both Hephaestus and Volundr are punished
with lameness, Erichthonius too is lame, and therefore invents the four-horse chariot, as Volundr does the boat and wings. One
with Erichthonius are the later Erechtheus and his descendant Daedalus, who invented various art, a ringdance, building, &c.,
and on whose wings his son Icarus was soaring when he fell from the clouds.

                                                                                from Grimm's Teutonic Mythology

The limping partridge dance of Crete

The dance floor at Knossos could also have served as a threshing floor for grain, such as that of Atad mentioned in Genesis, 50: 11. The partridge is related to a limping dance performed at Carmel during Pesach, the Passover Feast, that

     appears to have been a Canaanite Spring festival which the tribe of Joseph adopted and transformed into a
     commemoration of their escape from Egypt under Moses....The proverb quoted by Jeremiah: "The partridge
     gathers young she has not brought forth," means that Jewish men and women were attracted to these alien
     orgiastic rites. So also the understanding Titian gives us a glimpse of a partridge through the window of the room
     in which his naked Love-goddess is lasciviously meditating fresh conquests.

The non-material form of cultural preservation perhaps can best be seen in the traditions of the ritual dance, and of the grand theater--with mythological roots very much older than the settling of Crete--in which it is set. One of the principal features of the great palace at Knossos uncovered by Evans was interpreted as Ariadne's dance floor. Upon this was performed the labyrinthine Geranos, or Crane Dance as it was called on Delos...still a popular folk dance throughout Greece. To be sure, some versions of the myth say the shipload of reprieved victims stopped by Delos on the way home where they performed this dance before an altar constructed by Apollo him-self from the horns of she-goats taken only from one side of the animal's head, reminiscent of the one horn grasped by Europa, and of the one horn clasped by the much earlier female figure in the Paleo-lithic cave at Laussel. The Geranos is a circle-dance in which the performers with joined hands weave in and out, over and under, tying themselves as it were, into a knot and then untying themselves without letting go of hands. It may be related to the circle dances said to have been conducted by Jesus in the Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas. The equinoctial timing of the celebration also suggests affinities with the old Troy Town, Maze, and Morris Dancing of the British Isles, and the Sword Dances of the Highlands. Robert Graves relates this Cretan tradition to the mating ritual of the cock partridge which it carries out on a regular dance floor. Partridges were hunted by hiding a lamed a decoy cock in the center of a brushwood maze, the sound of its cries attracting other birds: the hens to mate, the other cocks to challenge, and both to feed. Therefore, literally at the center of this labrynthine myth, we find an extraordinary correspondence with Duchamp's sculpture With Hidden Noise, for the Labyrinth itself may be based ultimately on a construction "with hidden noise." Moreover, some ancient traditions attribute to the call of the concealed decoy a miraculous generative or procreative power, capable (in effect) of transforming the Virgin into the Bride, for, according to Aristotle, Pliny and Aelian the hen partridge can be impregnated by the sound of the cock partridge's voice....

Robert Graves, The White Goddess, p. 328.
Click to view full-sized image

The painting by Titian described by Graves is one of a series of works very closely related to the Venus of Urbino, probably painted "with some assistance from the workshop" between 1545 and 1548, and presently in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. A partridge is perched on a window sill, the object of interested sniffs from a little dog who is on the pillows, with some of Cupid's arrows, at the feet of Venus. The pose is certainly more open, for the hand no longer forms the gesture of a Venus Pudica (in the style of Giorgione) as in Titian's earlier Venus of Urbino, and the goddess's legs are uncrossed. Titian, however, also incorporated a red- legged partridge (alectorus rufa) in another earlier painting (done in the late 1530s and belonging to the Scuola di San Rocco), an Annunciation in which the Virgin Mary was intended as the new Eve who extinguishes the sins or transgressions of the old (origo peccati per Genitricem Christi extincta est). Since, for such a subject, there could be no question of "lasciviousness," this context underscores the iconographical ambivalence of the partridge, both as a symbol of sexual potency and as a token of divine miracle:
Click to view full-sized image

the partridge, its mostly negative connotations notwithstanding, could symbolize the Incarnation itself: the female was believed to be so full of sexual desire that it was able to conceive by a wind that had passed a male, or even by the latter's mating call. But this very fact was susceptible of a positive interpretation: a partridge bearing the motto AFFLATU FECUNDA ("fruitful by a breath of air") could illustrate the fact that the Virgin conceived by the Holy Spirit; and since the Virgin Mary, through the angelic salutation, "conceived through the ear" (quae per aurem concepisti), the partridge could visualize the phrase AVDITA VOCE FECUNDA ("fruitful by hearing a voice").

     [Erwin Panofsky, Problems in Titian, Mostly Iconographic, New York University Press, New York (1969),
     pp. 29 f., 121, and pls. 34, 134. Professor Panofsky, thanking Millard Meiss, cites Filippo Picinelli, Mundus
     symbolicus, IV, 53, No. 553. "For the whole subject" see, E. Jones, "The Madonna's Conception through the
     Ear," in Essays in Applied Psychoanalysis, London and Vienna (1923), pp. 261 ff.]

The Assumption of the Virgin, Scuola di San Rocco, VeniceIt seems, then, that the pesach bull cult had been superimposed on a partridge cult; and that the Minotaur to whom youths and maidens from Athens and elsewhere) were sacrificed had once represented the decoy partridge of a brushwood maze, towards which the others were lured for their death dance. He was, in fact, the center of a ritual performance, originally honoring the Moon-goddess, the lascivious hen-partridge, who at Athens and in parts of Crete was the mother and lover of the Sun-hero Talus. (In Athenian legend Talus was thrown down by Daedalus from a height and transformed into a partridge while in the air by the Goddess Athene). But the dance of the hobbling cock-partridge was later transformed into one honoring the Moon-goddess Pasiphaë, the cow in heat, mother and lover of the Sun-hero, the bull-headed Minos. Thus the spirally danced Troy-game (called the "Crane Dance" in Delos because it was adapted there to the cult of the Moon-goddess as Crane) had the same origin as the pesach. The case is proved by Homer who wrote [or sang!]:

     Daedalus in Cnossos once contrived
     A dancing-floor for fair-haired Ariadne

     [Graves, The White Goddess, p. 329. The Homeric verse "the scholiast explains as referring to the Labyrinth
     dance, and...Lucian in his Concerning the Dance, a mine of mythological tradition, gives as the subjects of
     Cretan dances: 'the myths of Europ, Pasiphaë, the two Bulls, the Labyrinth, Ariadne, Phaedra (daughter of
     Pasipha), Androgeous (son of Minos), Icarus, Glaucus (raised by Aesculapius from the dead), the magic of
     Polydius (probably the shape-shifting dance of Zagreus at the Cretan Lenaea), and of Talus the bronze man
     (virgin-born of Perdix the partridge hen) who did his sentry round in Crete.'"]

Talus and Dice

The talus (astragalus) 'had a special application in days gone by. Dice were carved from them, hence the term talisman. That is kind of poetic for there is clearly a major function of the talus to deal with chaos and the unanticipated.

The 4 sides of the talus were designated among the Romans as supinum, pronum, planum, and tortuosum, and correspond with the numbers "three,". "four", "one", and " six"  receive in the Mohammedan East the names of ranks and conditions of men. The Persians, according to Dr. Hyde (De Ludis Orientalibus, p. 147) name them, respectively, duzd "slave" dihban "peasant," vezir "viceroy," and shah, or padi-shah "king". Similar names are given by the same author as applied to them by the Arabs, Turks, and Armenians. From this it appears that the names and rank given to the significant throws, "three," "four," "one," and "six," with knuckle bones and dice in western Asia find their counterparts in the names and rank of the same throws in China, the names of the classes of human society found among the Arabs being replaced in China with the terms for the cosmic powers: "Heaven" ("six"), "Earth" ("one"), and "Man" ("four"), and the "Harmony" ("three?one"), that unites them.

Hermes the messenger and culture-carrier brought the art of writing and the science of number, the mason's craft of piling one stone
upon another (and much else) to archaic Greece, including a magical cube: the die. The complex and frequently contradictory nature of
Hermes suggests that he is a very old god. Some elements (among them dice and gaming) reveal him to be a cultural adaptation of the
god Thoth, the Egyptian lord of magical lore. In some Greek myths, it is Hermes who gets credit for inventing dice, which--as god of
shepherds--he is said to have fashioned from the astragaloi, or the knucklebones from either sheep or goats. In another, even earlier
tradition, a Mediterranean precursor of Hermes, perhaps closer to the Egyptian Thoth, used the more nearly cubic heel bones of the
boibalis, or Libyan antelope. In The White Goddess, Robert Graves relates tali, or dice, to divination and the alphabet. The figure of
Talus, one manifestation of the lame-king type, like the biblical Jacob or the Fisher King from the Grail legend, was associated with

Talus in one account was the son, or maternal nephew, to Smith Daedalus, in another was forged in the furnace of Smith Hephaestus. Dionysus, because of his titles
pyrigenes and ignigena ("engendered by fire")--a reference to the autumnal Toadstool-Dionysus engendered by lightning--may have been equated with Talus in this
sense....Mercury was not only patron of dice-players but prophesied from dice. He used five dice with four markings on each, in honor of his Mother, precisely like
those given an Indian King at his coronation in honor of the Mother; and if, as I suppose, he used them for alphabetic divination he had his own alphabet of fifteen
consonants and five vowels. The game of hucklebones is still played in Great Britain with the traditional set of five. In the case of six-sided dice, however, three
made a set in ancient times; these would provide the diviner with eighteen letters of the alphabet, as in the thirteen-consonant Beth-Luis-Nion [alphabet].

[Robert Graves, The White Goddess, p. 330-332. ]

Athene was first credited with the inventions of divinatory dice made from knuckle-bones, and these came into popular use; but the art of augury remained an
aristocratic prerogative both in Greece and at Rome....The [later] Apollonian priesthood constantly trespassed on the territory of Hermes, an earlier patron of
soothsaying, literature and the arts; as did the Hermetic priesthood on that of Pan, the Muses, and Athene....The barbarous Hellenes took over and exploited, in the
name of their adopted god Apollo, the Creto-Helladic civilization which they found in Central and Southern Greece--boxing, gymnastics, WEIGHTS AND
MEASURES [our emphasis], music, astronomy, and olive culture were all pre-Hellenic--and learned polite manners.

[ Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Section 17, Volume I, p. 66 f.]

The most familiar expression of the number six in the province of solid geometry is the 3-dimensional cube with six faces. A cubic die on
which all six faces are distinguished--as commonly used in games--obviously has just six probabilities for each cast. In the teeth of
Einstein's merely wistful assertion that "God doesn't throw dice," an entire discipline studying probability and statistics has been erected
(without which much of modern physics could not have been done) based instead upon the assumption that He sometimes does...or at
least that He might. Starting with the simplest case, casting lots by using a single cubic die, the analogical mind could associate with each
of these possible values all sorts of fanciful correspondences with either "the world of things six in number," or "the world in its sixness."

Dice supplied the instrumentality for generating both the oracular wheel of fortune and all forms of playing cards. In one form or
another, dice are also among the oldest known implements used for sortilege, or the casting of lots. Not surprisingly, therefore, dice were
regarded as religious in nature long before they were used as secularized equipment for vulgar gambling and games of chance. The
person who performed the sortilege and read the lots in Greece was known as the Hierophant; his name means just that: "one who
shows or reveals the secret or the mystery." This title originally had been given exclusively to the High Priest presiding at the Eleusinian
Mysteries, where the Great Gods were honored.

Since the early Renaissance in Europe, "The Hierophant" has been the name given to the Tarot card of the Major Arcana (also called
trumps or "Triumphs"). To this particular card is allotted the cardinal number five--usually indicated by the Roman numeral "V." In the
lore of Qabala (variously spelled, as Cabala or Kabbalah, etc.) this number and card both came to be associated with the letter vau (or
vav) as written in Hebrew. Nevertheless, a connection with sixness is borne out because in the sequence of cards in the Major Arcana,
the Hierophant is the ordinal sixth, since the unnumbered or "zero" card (the Essence, conventionally but incorrectly called the Fool) is
counted as the first, that is, in order. The archetypal image of the Hierophant, as one who shows the secrets and reveals the mysteries, in
Western European iconography was drawn to resemble the Pope. This card is further interpreted as symbolizing the distractions of
externally adoring sacred knowledge, which block the Essence from assimilating and embodying it as genuine wisdom, or internally
realizing the Unity. At another level, this card represents the teacher herself/himself, the proverbial Gypsy Master who knows how to roll
the dice and deal the cards, or the "mediumistic being," in the words with which Marcel Duchamp, himself, chose to define the essential
function an artist.

The object symbolically associated with the Semitic form of the letter vau is a tent-peg, hook or nail, also recalling for cross-cultural
Renaissance Qabalists, the Crucifixion. But when read in Hebrew, the letter is equivalent to "and," the English conjunction. The Greek
word kleis KEY, and the Latin clavis "nail," are related lexically; and through the Latin we get CLEF, CLOVE, CLAUSE, CLOSE,
CLOISTER, CLOISONNÉ, CLAVICLE, CLAVIER, CEMBALO, CHORD and other words, including (through clava) CLUB. The
Indo-European root is klu, which (probably through the Germanic, Old English and Frankish forms) yields LOT, LOTTO, LOTTERY,
ALLOT. The connections can be appreciated in Greek, where klerousis means "election by lots." In vulgar Latin the sortiarius was the
"caster of lots," from the Latin sors, lot or fortune, as with the diviner of lots in China, the "reader," or sortilegus, casting the I Ching.

The primary function of apportioning lots, for the Greeks, belonged to Lachesis among the three Moirai or Fates. Apportioning was understood as the primary
action, in that the unspun wool would be apportioned by weight before being given to a slave; then it could be checked again by weight when the work was finished.
It was this executive function later usurped by Zeus, preserving the archaic metaphor of a length of thread with the length of one's lifetime.

[ Richard Broxton Onians, The Origins of European Thought: About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate (New Interpretations of Greek,
Roman, and kindred evidence also of some basic Jewish and Christian beliefs). Cambridge (1954). Part III, "Fate and Time," & Chapter II, Peirata, p. 335).]

The word for a die--a cube, like the gaming piece--comes from the proto-Indo-European zero-grade root do, through the Latin datum,
"that which is given." The derived French form of the word appears in Marcel Duchamp's posthumous work, a twenty-year secret, Etant
donnés. Closely related to datum is the Latin verb dare which can mean both "to give" and "to play." The English language received the
word "die" in this sense through the Old French dé, "a playing piece." If nothing else, With Hidden Noise, like so many of the other
Readymades, is a playing piece: a curious puzzle, a perplexing intellectual and aesthetic enigma, an involvement with chance and fun.
Although the poet and critic Octavio Paz addresses it to Duchamp's magnum opus, we mention here his opinion that

The direct antecedent of Duchamp is not to be found in painting but in poetry: Mallarmé. The work that most closely resembles the Large Glass is Un coup de dés.

[ Octavio Paz, Marcel Duchamp: Appearance Stripped Bare, translated by Rachel Phillips & Donald Gardner, Viking, New York (1978), p. 77.]

It should be perfectly obvious that with one cubic die, in the casting of lots there are six probabilities. Not quite so obviously, with two
cubic dice, twenty-one different numerical combinations can be obtained, assuming the dice are so similar as to be indistinguishable; this
comprises what mathematicians call "the unordered set." However, with dice of different colors, say, it is easily demonstrated that there
are, in fact, thirty-six different combinations, "the ordered set" (since 6 x 6 = 36).

The number 36, the ordered set of combinations possible with two dice, is regarded as a solar number in mythology and traditional lore.
One illustration of this is the famous glyph of the Minoan Labyrinth associated with Daedalus and the Minotaur at the ancient capital
Knossos on the island of Crete. Drawn in the characteristic way--as it has been shown for years on the cover of Daedalus, the quarterly
Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences--the archetypal maze requires precisely thirty-six turns to penetrate the
convoluted space from the outside and to arrive (like Theseus) at its heart, presumably the lair of the Minotaur. Theseus then had to
retrace his steps and in another thirty-six turns, following the clew given to him by the most holy Ariadne, to emerge once again into the
light of the sun from the magical prison, an emblem of sleeping consciousness.

Theseus, the Attic solar hero, thus completes his journey to the Underworld--or the voyage within, to the depths of the psyche--in
seventy-two steps, which is no mere accident. If the average number of heartbeats per minute is taken to be seventy-two, we may
observe that the ratio of 72:60 also has a cosmic correspondence with the mean rate of the precession of the equinoxes: since the rate of
precession is reckoned to be fifty seconds of arc per year, the sun will precess sixty minutes (one degree) of arc in seventy-two years,
the length of a full lifespan, known as our human eon, also spelled "Aeon," or in the transliterated Greek form we use here to specify this
sense, aion. Relating all this in a cultural frame of reference, the late, distinguished scholar of folklore, mythology and cultural history,
Joseph Campbell points to:

the observable fact that at the moment of the Spring equinox (March 21) the heavens are never quite in the position they were the year before, since there is a very
slight annual lag of about 50 seconds, which in the course of 72 years amounts to 1 degree (50" x 72 = 3600" = 60' = 1 degree) and in 2160 years amounts to 30
degrees, which is one sign of the zodiac.

[ Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology (Volume II), p. 117.]

Recent scholarship has begun explore the intriguing and long-overlooked subject of the precession of the equinoxes: an ancient and
recurrent, if at times obscure, theme both in world literature and in the history of science. For example, another illustrative legend
concerns the Jews of Alexandria who celebrated an annual festival,

the excuse for which was that the Five Books of Moses had been miraculously translated there into Greek by seventy-two doctors of the Law (`the Septuagint')
who had worked for seventy-two days on them, each apart from the rest, and agreed exactly in their renderings at the conclusion of their task.

[ Graves, The White Goddess, p. 276. See also, Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Deschend, Hamlet's Mill: an essay on myth and the frame of time, David R.
Godine, Publisher, Boston (1977). ]

The Capitoline Hill was not chosen willy-nilly by the medieval residents of Rome. It had been a sacred center, not only for the Roman
Empire, but also for the Republic before it and, before the Romans came to town, for the Etruscans (or perhaps for the Sabines, since no
one is certain about which of the city's seven famous hills they commanded.) There were three ascents to the summit of the Capitoline
Hill. Only the gentlest of these, called the Clivus Asyli, could be by negotiated chariots, hence this became the route followed by
triumphal processions and their cars containing conquering generals returning to Rome. Military commanders were prudently prohibited
by patrician politicians from entering the city unless specifically awarded a Triumph. In Republican times, an exclusionary perimeter had
been established by the Senate, with the Rubicon River defining the northEastern boundary of Italia proper. Now, at that time there were
also three separate laws against gaming: Leges Titia, et Publicia, et Cornelia. These countermanded not only the playing of dice-- of
which there were two kinds: six-sided tesserae, and tali rounded on two sides with the other four marked (named for Talus, the hero
killed by Daedalus)--but also games of chance of any kind, except during the month of December when celebrating the Saturnalia. These
circumstances lend a double importance to the often repeated quotation of Julius Caesar who (without having received a formal
invitation) decided in 49 B.C. to cross the Rubicon, thus, by marching on Rome, in effect declaring war:

     Iacta alea est!

     "Let the die be cast!"

The alea of the phrase was the Latin word for a die - the same root is aleatory, depending on chance. Our word die (singular of dice) comes from the Latin word datum which is also the root of data. There is some indication that the word was used in the common Latin to mean a playing piece.

Achilles, the HeelAchilles' Mother.

     Achilles was the son of Thetis and Peleus, the bravest hero in the Trojan
     war, according to Greek mythology.

When Achilles was born, his mother, Thetis, tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the river Styx. As she immersed him, she held him by one heel and forgot to dip him a second time so the heel she held could get wet too. Therefore, the place where she held him remained untouched by the magic water of the Styx and that part stayed mortal or vulnerable.

To this day, any weak point is called an “Achilles’ heel”. We also refer to the strong tendon that connects the muscles of the calf of the leg with the heel bone as the “Achilles’ tendon”.

The term “Achilles’ heel” was first used by a Dutch anatomist, Verheyden, in 1693 when he dissected his own amputated leg.

Although the above rendition of the Achilles’ story is in current vogue, Michael Macrone, in his It’s Greek to Me, tells us that Achilles didn’t always have a vulnerable heel. Oh yes, he had a weak spot, but according to the original story about Achilles, Homer, in the Iliad, said it was his pride. Later versions indicate his weakness was his love for the Trojan princess Polyxena. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid suggested that Achilles had a vulnerable spot on his body; but the Roman poet, Statius (c. A.D. 45-96), was the first to imply in a poem that it was his heel.

Friar’s Heel

The outstanding upright stone at Stonehenge is so called. Geoffrey of Monmouth says the devil bought the stones of an old woman in Ireland, wrapped them up in a wyth, and brought them to Salisbury plain. Just before he got to Mount Ambre the wyth broke, and one of the stones fell into the Avon, the rest were carried to the plain. After the fiend had fixed them in the ground, he cried out, “No man will ever find out how these stones came here.” A friar replied, “That’s more than thee canst tell,” whereupon the foul fiend threw one of the stones at him and struck him on the heel. The stone stuck in the ground, and remains so to the present hour.

The Limping Hero: The Archetype of the Maimed Figure in Literature

The Limping HeroPeter L. Hays, ISBN 1-893818-13-6 (2000) Second Edition (orig. Grotesques in Literature)

Lameness...signifies that man no longer dwells in Paradise. There is still much he can enjoy in life, but he must earn his living by the sweat of his brow, and sometimes his place in life through the bloodshed of others. He must know pain, deprivation, and death. pp.24,162.

The Limping Hero is the study of an archetype--that of the maimed figure--tracing it from ancient, mythopoeic times, through the Middle Ages, and concentrating on the appearance of "limpers" and their significance in modern literature.

There are three categories of limpers

                             I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
                             Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature,
                             Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
                             Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
                             And that so lamely and unfashionable
                            The dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
                             Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
                             Have no delight to pass away the time,
                             Unless to spy on my shadow in the sun
                             And descant on mine own deformity:
                            And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
                             To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
                             I am determined to prove a villain...
                                                                                           Shakespeare, Richard the Third, Act I, Scene I

The Star Rigel

Rigel is said to be the part of Orion that was stung by the Scorpion. Orion is the legendary great hunter of the Greek mythology. It was said he was the most beautiful of men and the most skillfull of hunters. Unfortunately Orion accepted this
praise with utter confidence it was true, and then some. He began boasting of his skills, claiming to have total superiouity over all and was punished for his brazenness by the Goddess of Earth, Gaia, who sent a giant scorpion and ordered it to sting Orion. As mighty as Orion was, after only a brief battle, the scorpion managed to deliver the hunter a deadly sting on the heel. The constellation of Orion is next to the constellation Eridanus, which appears to flow out of Orion's heel.

The Arabic name for Rigel is Ar-Rijl, "The foot". Algebar and Elgebar are seen in poetry for this star, but it universally is known as Rigel, from Rijl Jauzah al Yusra', "the Left Leg of the Jauzah", (the Arabic for Orion). Al Sufi gave the earlier popular name Ra'i al Jauzah, "the Herdsman of the Jauzah", whose camels were the stars alpha (Betelgeuse), gamma (Bellatrix), delta (Mintaka), and kappa (Saiph). Al Najid, "the Conqueror", was another title which also was given to alpha (Betelgeuse) and gamma (Bellatrix).  It was know as "the Foot" of — i. e. next to — the Twins; and "Payer", the Hebrew Kesil, of the constellation.  It is called the foot that crusheth in the Bible (Psalm 91:13-15; Romans. 16:20).

In the Norse astronomy Rigel marked one of the great toes of Orwandil, the other toe having been broken off by the god Thor when frost-bitten, and thrown to the northern sky, where it became the little Alcor of the Greater Bear. (Allen).

Astrologers said that splendor and honors fell to the lot of those who were born under it. Associated with fame, wealth, and originality.

Rigel is truly an extraordinary star which contrasts strongly with Betelgeuse. Although 65 times the size of the sun, it is nowhere near as large as Betelgeuse but far denser and hotter. Rigel radiates nearly one hundred time more energy than Betelgeuse and shines brilliant white. Astronomers use a standard distance to compare the brightness (luminosity) of stars. The luminosity of a star is calculated as it would appear if it were placed at a distance equal to 10 parsecs from Earth; a parsec being 3.26 light-years, so 10 parsecs is equal to 32.6 light-years. If both the Sun and Rigel where placed side by side at a distance of 10 parsecs, Rigel (which actually lies at the remote distance of 1000 light-years) would shine as brightly as a crescent Moon, while the Sun would appear as very faint star barely visible to the naked-eye - in short Rigel's luminosity is some 50,000 time greater than our own Sun and its surface temperature twice as hot. If we could cross the void and visit this gigantic powerful star we would be greeted by a spectacular sight. Rigel is actually a triple star system with Rigel B, a smaller blue companion which orbits Rigel, and Rigel C which orbits Rigel B. The distance between Rigel and Rigel B is about 23 light days, while Rigel B and C are extremely close companions separated by about the diameter of our solar system. A small telescope will show Rigel B.

Samuel Butler, Hudibras (1660 - 1680): Amazonian crippling of male children

For in what stupid age, or nation,
Was marriage ever out of fashion?
Unless among the r Amazons,
Or cloister'd friars, and vestal nuns;
Or Stoicks, who to bar the freaks
And loose excesses of the sex,
Prepost'rously wou'd have all women
Turn'd up to all the world in common.
The Amazons were a nation of female warriors, whose principal city was located on the southern shore of the Black Sea (Scythia).   They were expert riders and archers, and for close-in fighting they used spears and long battle-axes.  Only those who had killed in battle were allowed to mate, and only during two months of the spring. Male children and captives were crippled and used as slaves.  The reason for crippling the males was to tame them and to make them better for breeding.  "The lame best perform the act of love," said Antianara, a queen of the Amazons.  These men were used solely to impregnate the women. Women never dated or married. Sexual intercourse had to be random to prevent any bond forming between the
two partners. Recorded by recorded by the Byzantine scholar Eustathius. See also Donald J. Sobol, The Amazons of Greek Mythology (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1972).

The world of the Buddha footprintFootprints of the BuddhaA line drawing of the left footprint at Pakhan-gyi, Union of Myanmar, the world's largest Buddha footprint

Buddha Footprint at Loka-hteik-pan, Bagan, Myanmar (1157 AD)One of the more curious aspects of Buddhism is the tradition of Buddha footprints. Footprints are just one sign of the presence of the Buddha - the others being the bodhi tree, an umbrella, a throne, and the dharmachakra or wheel of the Law. Many temples have reproductions of the feet of buddha.. Tradition holds that the Buddha (Gotama), or an incarnation known as "the future buddha" (Metreya) left these to guide us to enlightenment. Since most of these footprints are the size of a bath-tub, the future buddha is apparently not someone to mess with. When found in nature, these relics are subjected to extreme scrutiny to insure they have all of the right signs, then they become places of worship.

Footprints of the Buddha exist in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma. The first footprints appeared during the appatima period that started in the earliest period of Buddhism and which remained strong until the 4th century. In Thailand, the oldest footprint, dating to 600 AD, is located at Sar Morakot, Khok Peep District, Prachinburi province.Old versions in Pakistan, southern India and Sri Lanka have few markings.Those from the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods in Thailand are more decorated - at Wat Phomonastery a reclining image of the Buddha has with the soles of his feet embedded with 108 auspicious symbols. There are actually several buddha footprint temples in Thailand, but the most important of these is the Phra Puddhabat temple in Saraburi Province (20 kms. from the town of Lop Buri on the Saraburi - Lopburi route). It was discovered in 1624 and is under royal patronage of the first class, housed in a special pavillion, or mondop, which is the site of a pilgrimage fair in January-March. The footprint is a natural impression in limestone rock 50  x 150 x 30 cm deep. The brim is now covered with gold but the bottom still reveals the natural rock.The largest is the left footprint at Pakhan-gyi, Burma. During the Bagan Period (B.E.: 1583 to 1830; A.D.: 1040 to 1287), most of the several thousands of pairs of Buddha footprints were prepared, painted and embellished. There are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 pairs of stone footprints in Sri Lanka. A Buddha's footprint at the Archaeological Museum, Swat, in Pakistan is thought to be the one mentioned in the travel records of the Chinese monks Faxien and Xuanzang, who made their pilgrimages in the fifth and the seventh centuries.

In Sept. 2002, thousands of people in Thailand  flocked to see a puddle at the top of Had Sai waterfall in Pungna province, which was in the shape of Buddha's footprint. They believe the water in the puddle will relieve pain and bring good fortune and say it is being guarded by a frog. Many visitors to the site left incense, flowers and candles when they came to pray while others have being asking the frog for this month's lottery numbers. The frog is said to be weak and close to death because many people have been rubbing talcum powder into its skin in the hope of seeing the lottery numbers!
Wat Phra Buddhabat, Saraburi Thailand (1624)Buddha footprint, Sri Lanka - early traditionA royal Ayutthaya Buddha footprint, Thailand (AD 1752)Pakhan-gyi Buddha footprint, Burma (Ava dynasty)
Buddha footprint 1Buddha footprint 2Buddha footprint 3Buddha footprint 4Organization of 108 auspicious illustrations on a Buddha footprintGandharan Buddha footprint, Pakistan - early traditionTirat Buddha footprint, Pakistan

The Holy Nails of the Cross

Crucifix 1150-75, Rhenish or Mosan; and Giovanni Bologna, Christ Crucified (1588), National Gallery, Washington DC;

On early crucifixes four nails were used to crucify Jesus. During the medieval period (in the 15th century) this number was changed to three in honor of the Holy Trinity especially when the nails were painted apart from the cross as symbols of the Passion. When three nails are used, a single nail pierces both of the victim's feet. Fr. James Groenings, S.J. in the Passion of Jesus and Its Hidden Meaning claims that four nail holes were discovered on the True Cross and that the stigmata of St. Francis reflected the use of four nails during the crucifixion of Christ. Because of the shape of their dried buds, clove flowers are symbols of the Holy Nails. "Clove" comes from the Latin "clavus" meaning "nail."

The legs were pressed together, bent, and twisted to that the calves were parallel to the patibulum. The feet were secured to the cross by one iron nail driven simultaneously through both heels (tuber calcanei) with the right foot above the left. the
legs would be flexed at a 45 degree angle and the feet were flexed downward at a 45 degree angle until they were parallel to the vertical beam. The feet would be driven through with another spike between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. The dorsal pedal artery would be severed and again the nerve would be pierced or pressured and the Tarsal bones would act as the brake for keeping the spike from ripping through the foot as the victim pushed against it.

The condemned man could buy time by pushing himself up on the nails in his feet, stretching his legs and so raising the body to relieve the chest and arms. This allowed his to breathe better - for a while. But perching with a full weight of the body on a square nail driven through the middle bones of the feet brings intolerable pain. The victim soon lets his knees sag until once more he is hanging from the wrists, with the median nerves again strung over the nail shafts. The cycle is repeated to the limit of endurance.


18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
19 Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
20 Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

Deformity was clearly a disqualification for the priesthood in Jewish tradition. The idea of maternal impression held that the unborn child could be affected by influences on the mother during pregnancy.


And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet. he was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth. (Samuel 4:4)

Walking on Water

                                           The people realized that God was at work among them in what
                                      Jesus had just done. They said, "This is the Prophet for sure, God's
                                      Prophet right here in Galilee!" Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm,
                                      they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off
                                      and went back up the mountain to be by himself.
                                           In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the
                                      boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had
                                      grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew
                                      up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out
                                      when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They
                                      were scared senseless, but he reassured them, "It's me. It's all
                                      right. Don't be afraid." So they took him on board. In no time they
                                      reached land on the exact spot they were headed to.
                                                                                                                                        John 6:14-21 (also Matthew 14: 22-33, and Mark 6:45-52)
Print by Aaron Hicks Icon of Christ walking on water Patras

Christ walking on the water Carmelite Missal 1398

Water themes in Christian myth may have been selected for preservation by Christian mythic-mystic poet/allegorists largely because many entheogens (hallucinogens) produce wavy visual distortions.  The spirit -- the transcendent aspect of the mind or mental worldmodel -- is passively fished out of a wavy environment. When the mind has such a strong loose-cognition entheogen state that the walls wave like the Beatles' octopus' garden, the accustomed sense of being an egoic actor and prime mover is replaced by the sense of hanging or being lifted up. Self-control tends to seize, in self-control seizure, in the mystic state.  "Faith" amounts to a way to relax out of this seizure which calls like the sirens.  "Sinking" is becoming overtaken by self-control seizure.  Faith means understanding that the reality about self-control has been fully expressed in the mythic realm, in which one has fully and perfectly participated.

The common "on water", "through water", "in water", "surrounded by water", or "under water" theme also alludes to visual distortion in the entheogen-triggered mystic state. Against what Joseph Campbell sometimes seems to imply ("myth is relevant for everyone's life"), the ultimate, highest, and final referent of religious myth is not the struggles of mundane life, but of the intense mystic state.

Maintaining mental stability and self-control stability during the intense mystic state is like walking on water: it requires faith and assuredness that one has given tribute to the transcendent control relationship, fully and sufficiently establishing that one comprehends that the Ground trumps ego's power of control or the lower mind's sense of being an agent commanding the power of self-control.

The mystic state remains dangerous just as all daily life remains dangerous, but now it's a danger that has been accounted for, as one brings along a life-preserver during recreational boating.  We should talk of "the dangerous aspect of" the mystic state rather than saying that the state "is dangerous".  Electric guitar has dangerous aspects (deafness, electrocution) but we wouldn't stop at saying that electric guitar "is dangerous".

These ideas have direct equivalents in other religions, e.g. Kwan Yin holding a krater (small ceremonial cup) of the drink of the gods, riding a dragon on the raging sea.

                                   He alone stretched out the heavens
                                      and treads on the waves of the Sea (Yamm)
                                                                                                                                    Job 9:8 (NIV)

In the original Hebrew the word for sea is Yamm, who is the evil sea god in ancient Canaan myth. For the Hebrew people Yamm is the chaos monster.

Although the Hebrews didn't believe in sea monsters, the ancient Hebrews of the Bible used the image of a sea monster to symbolize evil. Crocodiles were the perfect real example. They called the mythical embodiment of evil Rahab or Leviathan. In the Bible God's name is Yahweh.  In the Old Testament only Yahweh has the authority to rebuke evil.   In the New Testament Gospels only Jesus has the victory over chaos. Only Jesus has the authority of God, becuase he is God in flesh.  Only Jesus can rebuke evil!   In a prophetic messianic Psalm Yahweh’s power to rule the sea (chaos) is transferred to a David king who is called the firstborn of the Father.

                                      You rule the raging of the sea;
                                      when its waves rise, you still them.
                                      You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
                                      you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
                                      I have found my servant David;
                                      with my holy oil I have anointed him;
                                      I will set his hand on the sea
                                      and his right hand on the rivers.

                                      He shall cry to me, 'You are my Father,
                                      my God, and the Rock of my salvation!'
                                      I will make him the firstborn,
                                      the highest of the kings of the earth.
                                      I will establish his line forever,
                                      and his throne as long as the heavens endure.
                                                                                                                     Psalm 89: 9-10 (New Revised Standard Version)
Kings have power and authority.  In the above ancient prophecy a decendant of Israel's greatest king, David, would be the "highest of the kings of the earth."  This is a  messianic prophecy regarding Jesus Christ. After the miracle of feeding five thousand with only five loaves and two fishes the zealots wanted to grap Jesus and make him king in thier quest to overthrow Rome. Jesus slipped away from them into the safety of the mountains.  This was not the kind of kingship that Jesus was about.  Jesus rejected the role of military leader against Rome. His was the eschatological battle against the cosmic enemy, the chaos monster characterized by the sea.

In The Truman Show, Truman takes a boat to the end of his world. Gets out and seemingly walks on water.  He had conquered his evil.
wpe8.jpg (11930 bytes) Jesus in training for the miracle with a sceptical Peter

Ho No Hana Sanpogyo foot-reading cult

Japanese for-profit cult lead by multimillionaire Hogen Fukunaga, who established Ho-no-Hana, in 1987, written various ways: Ho No Hana Sanpagyo, Hono Hana Sanpagyo, Ho-No-Ha-Na Sanpagyo, sampogyo, etcetera.

In a twist on palm reading, Fukunaga and other cult leaders read the soles of people's feet. Upon examination, victims are told they have a serious illness or will
suffer misfortune. They are then urged to attend expensive training sessions, and to purchase high-priced scrolls and other ornaments that are said to ward off evil, cure illnesses, deliver from sin, and break family curses.

It was revealed during earlier court proceedings that a manual forexamining the soles of the feet advised cult examiners to scare people by promptly concluding that they would suffer cancer, die young or go bankrupt. As a result, the cult was able to prey upon troubled people. They attended training sessions and bought scrolls or ornaments priced at millions of yen that supposedly brought fortunes to their buyers.

The cult - whose seminars sold for up to $45,000 - was raided by police in early December, 1999, looking for evidence connected with a law suit filed by three  women who claim the cult defrauded them. In the past three years, some 1,100 such claims have been filed against Ho No Hana.

Hundreds of police launched raids across Japan on a wealthy religious cult suspected of swindling housewives by promising to diagnose their ailments by examining their feet. Scores of plainclothes police swarmed over a sprawling temple complex near Mount Fuji, the heart of the Ho-no-hana Sanpogyo sect.

Officers, who swooped on 74 sect buildings in Fuji city, suspect the cult persuaded the women to hand over about 22 million yen (HK$1.7 million) in return for "health advice".

In addition to supposedly diagnosing people's health by examining their feet, Hogen Fukunaga - who does not have a license to practice medicine - also engages in navel-gazing. A 1995 Wall Street Journal story on the popularity of belly-button reconstruction among the Japanese, mentions Fukunaga's views:

Japan is so umbilicus-conscious because the navel goes to the core of Japaneses culture, says author Hogen Fukunaga. "The navel is the core of everything about the person," writes Mr. Fukunaga in a book about how a navel's shape can diagnose one's ills.

In September 1995, the acquaintance asked a friend scheduled to meet with the pope to introduce Fukunaga to the religious leader. During the meeting, Fukunaga presented the pope with two rings purchased in Rome beforehand and asked the pope to wear one of them while he wore the other. Mr. Fukunaga also presented Bill Clinton the 1996 "Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Award."


In Naples, Catholics leave ex-voto ('out of vow') images and objects in churches, shrines, stret walls or even in a saint's former home. These offerings depict the object of prayer: e.g. a silver image of a leg in return for a cured leg. They allow people to form their own relationship with God without the mediation of priests.

Silver ex-voto (British Museum)

The Camino: The pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela

                                                   ¿A dond irá meu romeiro,
                                                    meu romeiro adond irá?
                                                    Camiño de Compostela,
                                                      non sei s'alí chegará.

The last 20 years have seen an extraordinary revival of interest in the pilgrimage to Santiago. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the
Council of Europe in October 1987, and inscribed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 1993 (click here for the relevant webpage).  Many thousands of
people each year now make their way, on foot or by bicycle - sometimes also on horseback - along the ancient ways.  There are as many reasons for this revival as
there are pilgrims. It is noticeable, however, that many people make the pilgrimage at a turning point in their lives, and that many are helped to come to terms with
personal crisis by a period of separation from all that is familiar, and the shared hardship of the road. One of our members reflects on the spiritual dimension of the
pilgrimage on another page of this website, and a French pilgrim, Philippe Do Ngoc, includes on his site the témoinages of a number of pilgrims who have been
affected by the experience (as well as a page of prayers for pilgrims).

Some start from their own homes, or from other places nearby which have special significance for them; many head for one of the traditional asssembly points in
France: Paris, Vézelay, le Puy-en-Velay, or Arles, and then follow one of the old routes to the Pyrenees and the beginning of the camino francés in Spain. Those
with less time either start from a point on the route nearer to Santiago, such as St Jean Pied-de-Port or Roncesvalles (this is the most popular starting point for
Spanish pilgrims); or make the pilgrimage in stages, as holidays allow, picking up each year where they stopped the year before.

The cathedral authorities in Santiago require that pilgrims must 1) carry the credencial or pilgrim passport, and produce it, stamped and dated; 2) have walked or
ridden on horseback the last 100 km to Santiago, or cycled the last 200 km, and 3) declare a spiritual or religious motivation, to qualify for the Compostela, the
traditional Latin certificate of pilgrimage. There is a certificado, also in Latin, for those making the journey for other reasons.


Roughly 70% of pilgrims each year are men, 30% women (though the proportion has been closer to 60:40 in recent years); 70% make the journey on foot, 30% by
bike (though in 2000 and 2001 the proportion was closer to 80:20) . The statistics for 2000 (possibly still untypical, though not a Holy Year) show that  44% of
pilgrims were under 30; 36% were between 31 and 50.  The percentage of those over 50 has grown from 16% in 1997 to 20% in 2000. And 6.7% were over 70.
Most pilgrims are Spanish (ca 70%), with Germans and French predominant among the remainder. For a more detailed breakdown, provided on the website of the
Archbishopric of Santiago

The idea of the Jubilee or Holy Year, the plenary indulgence, and the compostela, are historically linked.  The Jubilee goes back to the Old Testament ("And ye shall
hallow the fiftieth year ... it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession ... " - Leviticus 25,10). Taken into Christian theology, it is
defined by Isidore of Seville (Etymologies V, 37, iii) as "a year of remission of sins". Indulgences, or remission of all or part of the time to be spent in purgatory,
were at first general and partial, but by the C11th the Church was offering particularly generous indulgences to those participating in the reconquest of Spain, or
making especially long and arduous journeys to the shrines of the saints. Plenary indulgences were first offered in 1095 to pilgrims to the Holy Land who died on the

It is widely claimed that in 1122 Pope Calixtus II gave Compostela the privilege of granting a plenary indulgence to those who visited the shrine of the Apostle in
each year when the saint's day fell on a Sunday, and while there made their confession, attended Mass, gave a donation for the upkeep of the shrine, and undertook
to perform good works. The papal bull of 1179 making the privilege perpetual is now thought to be a C15th forgery.  The earliest documented account of
indulgences granted to jacobean pilgrims by the Papacy dates from the mid-C13th, and the earliest jubilee year identified by Constance Storrs is 1395. In any case,
the gaining of the plenary indulgence became a dominant motivation for the pilgrimage (in the C15th few pilgrims sailed from England except in Holy Years).

Confession amd communion remained essential to the granting of the certificate of having completed the pilgrimage, first called la autentica.  Originally hand-written
and sealed, with slips of paper attesting confession and communion pasted on, it became in the C17th (printing reached Galicia very late) a printed document which
included the confirmation of confession and communion.  These two elements appear to have been dropped from the compostela in the mid-C18th, and the text as
we now have it is little changed since then.

The plenary indulgence - never, as far as we know, a printed document - is still granted to those who come to Santiago at any time during a Holy Year, make their
confession, attend Mass, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, and undertake some charitable work (this can include a charitable donation). On arrival at the Cathedral in Santiago, pilgrims take their credencial or Pilgrim Record, duly stamped along the way, to the nearby Pilgrim Office and a Compostela certificate (still written in Latin, and confirming the completion of the pilgrimage) is generally issued. Walkers and pilgrims on horseback must have completed at least  the last 100km and  cyclists the last 200 km,  in one stretch, to qualify. You will be asked your motivation: those who do not count 'spiritual' as part of their reason for making the pilgrimage can obtain another document, a certificado, to attest to their having completed it.

The Triskelion or Celtic swastika

'The triskelion (from the Greek "three-legged") is one of the oldest symbols known to mankind. The earliest representations of it were found in prehistoric rock carvings in northern Italy. It also appears on Greek vases and coins from the 6th and 8th centuries BC., and was revered by Norse and Sicilian peoples. The Sicilian version has a representation of the head of Medusa in the center. The Manx people believe that the triskelion came from Scandinavia. According to Norse mythology, the triskelion was a symbol of the movement of the sun through the heavens.' It was derived from a design which showed the spokes of a wheel and which, in turn, represented the rays of the sun. Because of this it has been described as a solar wheel and was a symbol of pagan sun worship. Related symbols are the cross and the fylfot, or four-legged swastika. The swastika was a very early decorative device used in India and was also found in ancient Greece and on many altars in Rome. In Scandinavia the swastika was used to represent the hammer of the Norse god Thor and in this capacity it was depicted on carved stone crosses. In the Isle of Man it is found on several Norse crosses such as one at Onchan which dates from around the 10th century A.D.

It is the symbol of triplicity in unity, one of the basis of the Celtic religion, and probably originally a solar symbol. Triplicity in the Celtic civilisation is exemplified by:
- the staff of the Celtic pantheon: Lugh, Daghda (Taran), and Ogme ;
- the unique goddess who has three aspects: daughter, wife, and mother ;
- the division of the society in three classes: priestly class, ruling and martial class, and productive class (craftsmen, farmers, fishers ...)
- the philosophical conceptions of the world based on number 3: the three circles of existence, the bardic triads...
The triskell is also often said to represent the three dynamics elements: water, air, and fire, or the wave of sea, the breath of wind, and the flame of fire. One of these elements is sometimes replaced by the furrow of the earth. A more complex interpretation says that the centre of the triskell is the static earth, which receives life from the three dynamic elements. The spiral could symbolize life, dynamics and enthusiasm, as opposed to everything straight and spellbound. Another design which appears to be related to the Three Legs is the Triquetra, or triple knot. This has been defined as an endless line forming three arcs symmetrically interlaced. The device has associations with the early inhabitants of central and north America and with the cult of Shamanism. The triquetra is also found on carved stones in northern Europe and, like the swastika, occurs on some of the crosses in the Isle of Man, as, for example, the Calf of Man Crucifiction slab, which is of Celtic origin and dates from about the 8th century, just prior to the arrival of the Vikings. The 9th or 10th century wheel headed cross at Lonan also depicts the triquetra.

It appears that the four legs of the swastika developed into the Three Legged design. The device is well known in the island of Sicily and occurs on a vase from Agrigentum which dates from the 5th century B.C. The design appears also on a coin of Aspendus, a town in Asia Minor, which is believed to date from about 500 BC. Another coin from the same region is dated about 400-300 B.C. The Three Legs appeared in 317 B.C., again in Sicily, on the coins of Syracuse. The emblem also occurs on a shield which is depicted on an Etruscan Vase preserved at the Vatican, and is of unknown antiquity. There are other examples of similar vases around the world, one being at the British Museum in London. The Three Legged device was commonly found among the Celts and Norsemen of north-western Europe. Closer to home, a simple version of the Three Legs appeared on the 10th century coinage of the Norse King Analaf Cuaran who ruled both in Dublin and in Mann.

Although we Manx will be loathe to admit the fact, it does seem that Sicily had the Three Legs at a much earlier period than did the Isle of Man. The Sicilian legs were always naked and often had the head of Medusa at the central point. They usually had wings attached to the heels and this would link them with the god Mercury or Hermes. The Manx legs are normally encased in armour and have spurs on the heels.

The connection with Sicily probably comes about through the Norse occupation of the Isle of Man from about 979 to 1265. The Vikings sailed throughout the Mediterranean Sea and knew Sicily well and it was probably these seafarers who brought the emblem to the northern and western parts of Europe. A further connection with Sicily was that the Scottish King Alexander III, who ruled over Mann in 1266, was the brother-in-law of Prince Edmund. The Pope had promised Edmund the title of King of Sicily in return for his military aid in a dispute.

The earliest use, which can be dated, of the Three Legs within the Isle of Man is in 1310 when they appeared on the shield of Henry de Bello Monte, Governor of the Island for King Edward II of England. They also appear on the Manx Sword of State which is thought to date from around 1230. Another early occurrence is on the market cross of the village of Maughold which is probably late 14th century.

The representation of the triskell must be dextrogyrous (turning to the right). A senstrogyrous (turning to the left) triskell would have a maleficent, or at least hostile meaning. Traditional Breton dances and processions always turn to the right. The war dances of the ancient Celts started by turning to the left to show hostility, and ended by turning to the right, as a sign of victory.

The triskell is close to the hevoud, another Celtic symbol and the Basque lauburu, and is probably of pre-Celtic origin (for instance on the cairn of Bru na Boinne in Ireland).

The motto of the Isle of Man, which often accompanies the arms, is the Latin Quocunque jeceris stabit, which means "wherever you throw, it will stand", referring to the triskelion. Between approximately 1735 and 1765 the island was ruled by the Duke of Atholl. During that time two series of coins were issued in the name of the duke with counter-clockwise legs. Before and after that time, when coins were issued in the name of British monarchs, the direction was clockwise.

Another design which appears to be related to the Three Legs is the Triquetra, or triple knot. This has been defined as an endless line forming three arcs symmetrically interlaced. The device has associations with the early inhabitants of central and north America and with the cult of Shamanism. The triquetra is also found on carved stones in northern Europe and, like the swastika, occurs on some of the crosses in the Isle of Man, as, for example, the Calf of Man Crucifiction slab, which is of Celtic origin and dates from about the 8th century, just prior to the arrival of the Vikings. The 9th or 10th century wheel headed cross at Lonan also depicts the triquetra.

The Three Legs device appears on the Manx national flag, armoured in gold and silver and with spurs on the heels, on a red field. This flag, with the addition of the Union flag in the canton, provides the Island's maritime ensign, known technically as "a defaced Red Ensign". The Legs appear on all the Island's currency notes and on some of its coins and postage stamps.

The Three Legged badge was popular as a tattoo, especially amongst Manx seamen. Captain Bligh of the Bounty described his young Midshipman Peter Heywood, who was involved in the mutiny in 1789, as being "Very much tatowed & on the Right leg is tatowed the Legs of Man as the impression on that Coin is". Bligh was married in the Isle of Man and would be familiar with its coinage

In recent years the Isle of Man Government took steps to protect its long-standing use of the Three Legs as the national emblem. Whilst it does not seek exclusivity in its use, it can prevent others from seeking to register the design as a trade mark exclusive to themselves.

There is a town in Germany called Fussen, which is German for "feet", which uses a Three Legs symbol. This is probably a modern usage of the badge. There, it is called "Drei Fussen", or three feet. This is the name given to the emblem in Manx Gaelic where it is known as "Tree Cassyn", which also means Three Feet.
Sculptural panel on the Manx Museum
Sugar tongs