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Moorish Tag Day Update
by Hakim Bey

The Manifesto of the Black Thorn League is essentially a meditation on Noble Drew Ali's mysterious teachings about Ireland as "once a part of the Moorish Empire"; St. Patrick's banishing of the snakes as a mask for the expulsion of the Irish Moors; and the Celts as an "Asiatic race". Since writing that text we have discovered a vast amount of material relating to this legend, although we still do not know how it reached Noble Drew --- revelation? Perhaps -- but we now believe even more strongly that the legend itself is far older than Drew Ali's recension, and we suspect he heard it from authentic "folk" sources. Mixed African/Irish communities are far more common in the "New" World than we knew or expected -- to give 2 examples : the Black Irish of Jamaica ( descended from Cromwell's Irish serfs who intermarried with slave and maroon groups in Barbados and Jamaica ); and Seneca Village, a settlement of squatters -- Irish, Black and Native American -- who in 1853 were forcibly driven out of the area of Manhattan now occupied by Central Park. The story of the 1741 St. Patrick's Day Riot in New York may have survived in some community as a legend of African-Irish connections. But the story goes back, back, back, -- unbelievably far back.

Our first breakthrough -- the first indication of a whole school of history devoted to the Irish/Moorish question -- came with the purchase of a book in Dublin, by an Irish journalist named Bob Quinn ( Atlantaean: Ireland's North African & Maritime Heritage, Quartet books, London/NY, 1986 ). We hope to meet Quinn this year during our next visit to Ireland. His book is not scholarly, but it is wonderfully enthusiastic. Nearly every chapter throws light on what I've now come to think of as the Quest. Impossible to give a full precis.

Leaving aside all the material Quinn has collected on, say, Egyptian influence on the early Celtic Church -- or Hispano-Moorish-Irish maritime connections -- or the Barbary Pirates ( Quinn missed the fact that Irish pirates converted to Islam and took part in the Sallee Republic, a Moroccan corsair utopia )-- in other words, leaving aside the historical era, we get to the gist of Quinn's hypothesis: the "Irish" and the "moors" are the same people ( he never says it outright but it's clearly what he's thinking ). But who are they?

Quinn's first clue is music -- the eerie similarity between Moroccan Berber music and Irish *seannos or chant-style singing. We explore this on our radio show, the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade, using folk music collected by Sean O'Riada ( the late great Irish composer ) and comparing it with Gnaoua, Jajuka, High Atlas Berber and other Moroccan forms. The similarities are indeed stunning. But even more astonishing (how did Quinn miss this? ): Ireland and Morocco have the only pentatonic scales west of China and Java!!

Quinn's second clue is language. A number of linguists and philologists, ranging from Morris Jones at the turn of the century to Heinrich Wagner ( in The Celtic Consciousness, NY 1981 ) have attempted to isolate the pre-celtic substructure in Irish. Too complicated to explain here. The result? Connections between Irish, Berber, and ancient Egyptian! ( pardon the exclamation paints -- just can't help it! ) This school of thought is poo-pooed by the Academic Boss Class -- but it refuses to go away. It's not mere crankism, either ( not that we have anything against cranks ) -- but as far as I can judge, it is daring, but thoroughly "scientific".

The third clue is -- Megaliths. Now so far in life I've resisted "Megalthomania" ( as John Michell calls it ) but here I'm afraid I've succumbed. I've read about 20 books on the subject so far, and am developing my own...crackpot theory. Quinn suggests ( as does the turn of the century scholar, T. W. Rolleston, in Celtic Myths and Legends, 1917 ) that the pre-Celtic population of Ireland and the rest of the Insular or thalassic-Atlantic world, the people who built the megaliths, were not wiped-out but absorbed by the late-coming Celts, who preserve significant "megalithic" strains of folklore as well as music and language; that these people are even more clearly represented in the modern world by Berbers ( who have not been absorbed by the Arabs ). Quinn and Rolleston go so far as to imagine that megalithism arose first in Morocco and that the proto-Berbers ( as in Iberian and Hibernian, the Classical names for pre-Aryan aborigines of Spain and Ireland ) were in fact the "Megalithic Missionaries" envisioned by certain archaeologists.

Quinn complains with complete justice that academic Megalithiologists never discuss North Africa, even though it's apparently crawling with menhirs -- and I immediately noticed the Eurocentric bias to most of their work. The politics of all this are complex. People used to believe that the megaliths were Celtic ( "druidic" ) in origin, and that they were pale, the distant echoes of Crete, Greece, Egypt, the great Near Eastern Neolithic civilizations. Gordon Childe, for instance, believed that the "Megalithic Missionaries" were Greeks or Egyptians. Very recently, however, carbon dating has exploded the "Near Eastern diffusion" theory. The earliest megaliths are older than the pyramids -- as old as Jerico and Catal Huyuk.

Carbon dating suggests, in fact, that Meagalithism arose in Spain or Brittany around 5000 BCE, and spread from there to Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltics, and to Sardinia, N. Africa, S. Italy, Malta and Egypt! ( Almost no carbon dating has been done in North Africa so Quinn's suspicions about Moroccan origins may still prove correct. ) But in light of carbon dating the academics have renounced ALL forms of Diffusionism. To listen to them now you'd think prehistoric humans were too dumb to travel at all. Everything is now explained according to the theory of Parallel Development -- i.e., everyone invented megaliths separately and on their own, because they'd reached the "right stage of development".

Lord, what horseshit! OBVIOUSLY people traveled -- by sea, as Quinn points out -- as far back into the Paleolithic. The Neolithic Atlantaean or Atlantic peoples were OBVIOUSLY very cosmopolitan ( linked by ceremonial "gift" routes along which they traded exquisite ceremonial stone axes -- and Megalithic "doctrines" too, no doubt ).

Without going into arguments, I will assert here that Megalithism was a religion based on the calendar ( the *first ideology ) and on agriculture. It bears great similarities to the super-ancient agricultural religion of the Near East ( explored by T. Gaster in his magnificent Thespis ), but with several major differences. For one thing, the megaliths themselves were not temples ( Near Eastern style ) but observatories, calendars. ritual dance/theater sites, fairs for gift exchange, and colleges for higher learning, all in one. ( Classical authors called the megalith builders Hyperboreans, and their shamans, the Boreates -- note the B'R root. Again! ) For another thing, the megalithic people were less hierchically structured than the Near Easterners. They retained a tribal or "segmentery" social structure based on the categories of sept, chief and shaman, rather than city, king and priest. This can be shown both archeologically and by examination of 20th century megalithic cultures in, say, Sumatra or Madagascar....

I could go on ( and I will ) -- but here I'll skip to the subject of folklore. The so-called "Celtic" calendar of Ireland is very likely megalithic in origin ( see K. Danaher in The Celtic Consciousnes ) The megaliths are obviously pre-Celtic in origin, so that all "Celtic" folklore about them must be sifted out; what's left might contain hints about megalithic culture. I need access to certain key early texts ( long out of print or horribly expensive ), such as the Book of Invasions, to carry out this task. So far, I believe I've located a complex of pre-Celtic themes in the myth of the Fomorians, the one-legged, one-eyed giants who were already in Ireland when the Celts ( the Tuatha de Danaan ) first arrived -- although in some versions the Fomorians came from the sea. ( Note: Amur, an ancient name for Morocco or Mauritania; Amorica, ancient name for brittany, and Fomorians. ) Even the late "druidic" legends of the megaliths are worth studying; yet more promising, however, are the non-learned, non-aristocratic traditions embedded in, say, the Fenian Cycle and the legendary history of Munster ( see Rees & Rees, Celtic Heritage, London, 1961 ); and Breton peasant lore and fairy tales ( see J. P. Mohen, The World of Megaliths, NY 1989 ).

Recently I borrowed and read the entire 1,238 pages of Westermarck's great Ritual and Belief in Morocco ( Quinn also missed this ). To my amazement I discovered that in the 1920's the Berbers were still building stone circles and erecting menhirs! Westermarck devotes hundreds of pages to Moroccan stone cults, holy wells and mountains, snake cults, and other pre-Islamic survivals. The Berbers perform ( on Midsummers Eve! ) a burlesque version of the ancient Neolithic Calendrical drama, described by Gaster, and also found in Britain as the "Mummer plays and Morris ( i.e. Moorish ) Dances".

In short, I believe that a fairly complete reconstruction of megalithic culture is possible, based on a revised Diffusionism and comparative folklore, which will amply support Quinn's hypothesis of a pre-historic link between Morocco and Ireland. Once this link has been thoroughly researched, I believe that one of Noble Drew Ali's craziest ideas will turn out to be sheer fact, expressed in religious metaphors. We still need to do a tremendous amount of work -- on snakes ( and Dragons ) for example -- on Irish and Moroccan prehistorical archaeology -- on music ( I'm no ethnomusicologist ) -- even on the Barbary Pirates. I'm writing this to solicit help. The story of Moorish Tag Day is expanding into an epic. I'm foundering in a dozen swamps of bibliography. A project like this should be multidisciplinary. The Black Thorn League needs active researchers!

In closing: -- Our Moorish Deacon of Paris, Wm. Strangmeyer, brought to my attention the fact that a "Count of the Black Thorn" plays a minor role in one of the Arthurian romances, Hartmann Von Aue's Iwein ( NY/London, 1984 ), a book I haven't seen yet. On this basis, however, we should claim an ancient and honorable lineage for the Black Thorn League. History, after all, is a game. The point is to be nights -- not pawns.


" I lay you under prohibitions, and restrictions, and death, and destruction, to go and bring me the King of Morocco's bay filly that outruns the wind and leaps over the wall of castle-bawns."


-- From "The Greek Princes and the Young Gardener", in Patrick Kennedy, Irish Fireside Folktales, collected in the 1860's in Co. Wexford

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8 comments

6 Aug 2004 @ 21:43 by ov : Tag Day
Interesting stuff vaxen. You might be able to make some connections on this through the mid 1700's, especially the Irish and Barbary Pirates and the start of international banking which is a templar indirect connection, and spice it up with a litte bit of alchemy. The playground that I'm thinking this might happen is Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle wiki over at MetaWeb.com. Could be an eclectic group of puzzle cracker hacker types that meet up over there.  


6 Aug 2004 @ 21:59 by vaxen : thankyou...
so much for the link ov.  


6 Aug 2004 @ 23:04 by ov : Tag Day
No problemo vax. You will still need to come up with some interesting wiki entries that are primarily about the 1700's but which after two or three level of indirection lead into the material that you are really interested in. But, there is an emergent field waiting there for the seeds that you have. I finished reading Quicksilver a couple of months ago, and last month I took a quick scan through The Confusion, second book in the trilogy, while standing in the bookstore but I'm waiting for the second hand bookshop to surface a copy before I read it. I haven't been on the metaweb for awhile, been looking at other things, but I know that all of the tangents I mentioned in my previous comment are main players in the game. The third book, The System of The World, is scheduled for publication this Fall. As Neil says in the first paragraph of the intro page on the wiki, this is an experiment, and I think it will be an interesting one, like a role-playing game except at the conceptual hermetic level rather than the visual virtual level. Keep all this in mind when you plant your seeds and be subtle or you may get tuned out for being an obsessive troll. There is potential there though. imho.  


6 Aug 2004 @ 23:36 by vaxen : Thanks,
ov, for the warning. I think I'll take some time and see what is there first. Trolls have some pretty dark magick, you know? I am not one but it would be an interesting roll of the dice.  


6 Aug 2004 @ 23:46 by ov : just guessing
I've read quite a bit of the site, but I've also read enough of Neil to get a feeling for how his mind works, and where this whole thing could go. So it's not so much a warning, but a caution based on expereince at other sites when epiphany by others can cause boredom in the whole. On second thought, fuck it, fire in the hole, and throw in the holy hand grenade. hahahahaha nutcrackers clacking and manics on parade.  


13 Aug 2004 @ 19:41 by skookum : music and linguistics
seems to me this should be taken seriously

my Irish great grandparents salute you  



27 Jul 2005 @ 15:56 by Albert Nason @207.245.183.55 : Ireland and Africa
I have some info that fills the gap between African Fomorians in 5000 BC in Ireland, and Irish seamen in the Sallee rovers of North African piracy of 1700s..
An Ethiopean professor in an American university told me that there were some odd links between Ireland and Ethiopia. The word for the Virgin Mary in Ethiopean is "Dingel", and it is the same in Irish gaelic, as in the Dingell peninsula of west Ireland. Also, the Coptics of Egypt sent missions south to Ethiopia (the head of the church in Ethiopia, the Abba Salama, or father of peace, was always an Egyptian coptic sent down from Alexandria, until emperor Haile Salassie decided to appoint an Ethiopian when the last egyptian Abba Salama died in 1950s). But they also sent Coptic missions NORTH during the dark ages, and Saint Patrick, a Briton serving as a slave in Ireland, escaped and was educated and ordained at the Coptic monastery of L'erins in southern France, or Gaul as it then was. There were profound differences between early Irish christianity following Saint Patrick and that issuing from Rome, differences not ironed out until the Synod of Whitby in England in 700s.  



30 Jun 2011 @ 04:20 by Farooque Ahmed @14.98.190.199 : Moor, Amorica, America
Barry Fell, 1980, Saga America (page 190) noted that Cufic Arabic inscriptions dated to 650 AD (according to carbon-dating result) have been found from Nevada (California) and elswhere in North America. There is reasonable ground to believe that the Moors (North Africans, Moroccans in particular) had trade ties in the Atlantic and across the Atalantic including with Iceland, Celtic peoples, Ireland and Ardh-e-Majhoola (unknown world, later the Americas) in the 5th-7th century AD at the earliest. Indeed, Amorica (Brittany, in northwestern France) was named after the Moor somehow whether one like it or not. When Columbus landed in the Caribbean in 1492 AD, the New World were already known as Amoorica (from al-Moroca) to the Spanish Muslim (Andalusian Muslims) descendants already. Indeed Sad ibn abi Waqqas led many Moor sailors across the Atlantic in 649 AD and reached the Ardh -e- Malkuba (unknown world)from northwestern Africa. The Moors led by Sad ibn abi Waqqas explored the Ophir (Philippines), the Cathay (China) and Al-Moorica (Amorica/Brittany/America) inbetween 649 AD to 654 AD. The Tang dynasty accounts of China recorded that Sad ibn abi Waqqas arrived with an Arab embassy to China in 651. Indeed Sad ibn abi Waqqas explored these Pacific countries (Cathay, Philippines, USA etc). Cheng Ho of China also sailed to America in 1421 AD according to a book by Gavin Menzies. Columbus emulated the feat in 1492 AD arriving in America when that land was already known to Moroccan or Spanish Muslims as al-Morroch (pronunced Amorica by the Europeans). A later interpolation claimed that a sailor named Vespucci Amerigo who arrived much later Columbus in the New World and thus "America" was named after "Amerigo" which is an Eurocentric explanation for the sake of claim. We better go for better research and better knowledge than self-fulfilling satisfaction and narcissism. Indeed, Morocco's consciousnes about American nation is so old that it was Morocco alone that recognised sovereign USA in 1777 AD, much before any European nation did.  


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