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  • Magonia #9: The Myth Continues June 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern , trackback


    As access to information gets easier, and there was a huge-internet powered jump in the 1990s, then surely the information available to us should become more accurate, right? Easier to check facts, easier to be checked… Not a bit of it. As information becomes more accessible then more people have more access to information and human beings enjoy their favourite pursuit: myth making (aka cobblers). There follow six examples of modern descriptions of Magonia, which Beach would argue are inaccurate in historical terms, but that bring the myth of Magonia on to the next generation. Beach wants also to preface this by saying that writing a blog every day, he often gets things wrong: facts sometimes, opinions frequently. There is no judgement here (save in a couple of cases, see, for example, the sub-cities above Orkney and France). What he is interested in is how we distort the past for our present needs and how mistakes are perpetuated and amplified by quotation.

    i) Gratuitious Details

    The following comes from a website listing instances of UFOs through history.

    The Archbishop of Lyons, Agobard, wrote, in his De Grandine et Tonitrua, that he had stumbled upon an angry mob lynching three men and a woman. When asked why these people were to be hanged, the mob responded that they were people who landed from a ‘cloud ship’ in Magonia. The Archbishop promptly freed the men and the woman who the mob thought were going to use magic to spoil the year’s harvests. Over 1800 witnesses.

    Forget the slight and unimportant mispelling of a Latin word: this blogging genius merrily wrote on the present site for three months before realising that he had spelt ‘bizare’ wrong in the banner (sigh). Forget the fact that they were to be hanged: actually they were to be stoned. Forget the confusion about where Magonia is too: it seems that the four had landed in Magonia rather than coming from Magonia. Concentrate, instead, on the ‘1800 witnesses’. There is absolutely no number given in Agobard. There is just the word conuentus. Presumably this website author, who seems a credit to his profession, has picked up this number from somewhere else. But where? And where did the source get the number?

    ii) Back to front

    The whole Magonia mythos is difficult: perhaps not as difficult as the Trinity, but still difficult… There is a land, Magonia, somewhere ‘out there’ in another dimension or perhaps, perhaps in the clouds. There are ships that fly out from Magonia apparently summoned by tempestarii, European witch doctors who magic up weather. The Magonians ruin crops on the instruction/suggestion of the Tempestarii and, by so doing, manage to take some of these crops away with them back to Magonia for which they pay the Tempestarii. It is easy to get things mixed up. Who knows, perhaps Agobard got confused? (Worrying as he is our only real source…) Anyway, here is one of a thousand examples where writers misconstrued Agobard or some source quoting him.

    The Tempestarii are a race of beings who control the weather from their magical land of Magonia. Because they live in the clouds, naturally they can’t grow crops. So, they cause magical storms–the crops ruined by these storms are in fact taken back to Magonia on great sky-ships.

    Here the Tempestarii, instead of being on the ground, in grimy little cunning-man sheds, are in the clouds on the ships. What Beach loves about this mix up is that not only are the Tempestarii put in the wrong place, but that there is an absolutely brilliant illustration associated with the same. We are not sure about copyright but would encourage you to follow this link and we’ve given a teaser above of a flying Tempestarii.

    iii) Deductions

    Tempestarii. In medieval lore, witches who specialized in STORM RAISING for the mythical dwellers of a land in the sky called Magonia. When huge storm clouds rolled over the land, they were said to be the ships of the Magonians. The Tempestarii aided the Magonians by whipping up the wind and creating lightning and thunder. By maliciously dumping their cargoes overboard, the Magonians sent hail to pelt the crops below. Then they would land their ships and, with the further help of the Tempestarii, steal the beaten-down crops. Often they would streak back into the sky without paying the Tempestarii and the witches would give chase, which the peasants below saw as the wispy clouds in the sky that follows a storm. Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witches, (2007), 342

    This is a source-based text with though ‘deductions’, some reasonable, some (ahem) imaginative. First there is the notion that the Tempestarii raised the storms FOR the Magonians. That is reasonable enough and is what Beach would assume having read Agobard. That huge storm clouds were the Magonian ships is also interesting and very possibly true, but there is nothing in Agobard to suggest this. We learn that their cargo was hail: this is, likewise, possibly right, but there is nothing in Agobard… The Tempestarii would help them load the crops into the ships, allegedly: again possibly this is right but – sorry to be tedious – there is nothing in Agobard. So far Beach likes this, despite his carping. The writer is thinking ahead of Agobard and add a few ‘perhaps’ and this is all useful and to the point. However, where does the author get the last phrase from: ‘Often [the Magonians] would streak back into the sky without paying the Tempestarii and the witches would give chase, which the peasants below saw as the wispy clouds in the sky that follows a storm.’ WtH? Here we move from deduction to fiction.

    iv) Making a point

    Let’s say that you are a partisan of some unusual philosophy: for example, crop circles. Agobard’s account of Magonia may just conceivably be useful, particularly if tweaked.

    As incredible as this may sound, documented reports of crop formations go back to at least 815 AD. Agobard, the Archbishop of Lyons, issued an edict prohibiting pagans from taking seeds out of crop circles for their fertility rituals. Obviously they were a regular phenomenon for this to be mentioned so casually in the official church records. These next three excerpts help round out the story. Even the BBC covered this story at one point (emphasis added):  When do the circles date from? One of the earliest reports was in Lyon in 815AD, and a late 16th Century woodcut depicts the devil mowing a field into patterns. [broken link] The oldest known recorded crop circle event occurred in the 9th century in France, where the Bishop of Lyon sent out a prohibition to the recently converted locals against using seeds taken from crop circles for pagan fertility rituals. Agobard, the archbishop of Lyon, wrote ‘Against the foolish opinion of the masses about hail and thunder’ and reported that people believed in ‘Tempestarii’, which had conjured cloud ships from Magonia, a far-off place in the skies. These resulted in fierce storms, and a ransom was demanded on behalf of the Magonians in the form of crops they had flattened. [n.b. the links have been inserted into the text]

    Where to begin? Agobard talks of crops being knocked down by hail. To the best of Beach’s knowledge crop circles have nothing to do with hail. 815 is the wrong date: c. 815 would be closer, though even that… Agobard did not issue an edict forbidding pagans from taking seeds, never mind seeds out of crop circles. The fact that the BBC cover the Agobard angle means nothing at all: the BBC favoured Keynseyism, Jimmy Saville and the European Union… There fact checkers are also not what they used to be. The third link is not quoted with full accuracy. Notice the pointed use of ‘flattened’ at the end.

    v) Poems

    This was written by a monk in California, Aelred: it is an extract from a longer poem entitled Magonia and Beach loves it.

    And yet, there is still Magonia.

    I learned of such a place when,

    as that young monk

    I wanted more than desire.

    I had read that in the Middle Ages,

    Magonia, a celestial region,

    was thought to exist;

    inhabited by extraordinary and wise beings

    traveling in cloud ships,

    abducting humans, only to return them,

    as the skeptical Agobard, Archbishop

    of Lyons wrote, to speak

    of wonders beyond comprehension.

    I savored the name, and

    gave in to the mystery.

    I hoped Magonia existed

    though every rational fiber

    of my mind scoffed

    at faith nurtured by sensation.

    But I knew I did not feel,

    and feared, because of this,

    I failed in faith.

    There is still so little faith,

    and all feeling seems reduced to

    an ache

    of not being chosen.

    I so wanted God,

    or family, or friends, or lover,

    or some gray galactic stranger

    to choose me.

    And oh, I know

    they are all from Magonia.

    Why are the Magonians ‘wise beings’? Where does our author get the information that they kidnap humans? This seems to come out of the Comte de Gabalis via Vallée. At least that is our guess. Beach, btw, adores the line about ‘some gray galactic stranger’. Oh to be a monk, for a month, silent at table with brother Ailred.

    vi) Delirium

    Comment would be futile here… Argument would be counterproductive.

    The main Avian outpost in the human world can be located above the Gobi Desert, and is known as ‘Shambhala’. This stronghold drifts through the sky, concealed amongst artificially perpetuated cloud, and if necessary, can warp into the deva world, out of the more sophisticated radar technology. Some authors claim that this city is subterranean and once formed part of the old Lemurian Empire. This is not altogether untrue, since the city does exist underground in a sense when it warps into the deval world ‘inside’ the Earth. Furthermore, the people of Lemuria were ‘dark skinned’, and thus in this respect, formed a close alliance with the Avians in ‘Shambhala’. Smaller subcities also exist, hovering over land and sea, the most famous being the ‘City of the Fin Folk’ over northern Scotland [!] and ‘Magonia’ over France. Von Nidda, Cosmic Evolution, 38

    Of course, all these quotations, based as they may be on misunderstandings, wishful thinking, a failure of critical thinking, dishonesty, insanity or (why not) special insight, give Magonia new life. Who knows where the ‘sub-city’ will be in fifty or two hundred years? Floating, Beach hopes, above your town. Other Magonia contributions: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com