Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

Union Jack

Kudos to my British cousins for putting their national security and therefore the well-being of their own people first, which is the foremost duty of a civilized nation.

Cue Andrew Roberts in the Wall Street Journal (h/t NWO):

Surely—surely—this is an issue on which the British people, and they alone, have the right to decide, without the intervention of President Obama, who adopted his haughtiest professorial manner when lecturing us to stay in the EU, before making the naked threat that we would be sent “to the back of the queue” (i.e., the back of the line) in any future trade deals if we had the temerity to vote to leave.

Was my country at the back of the line when Winston Churchill promised in 1941 that in the event of a Japanese attack on the U.S., a British declaration of war on Japan would be made within the hour?

Were we at the back of the line on 9/11, or did we step forward immediately and instinctively as the very first of your allies to contribute troops to join you in the expulsion of the Taliban, al Qaeda’s hosts, from power in Afghanistan?

Or in Iraq two years later, was it the French or the Germans or the Belgians who stood and fought and bled beside you? Whatever views you might have over the rights or wrongs of that war, no one can deny that Britain was in its accustomed place: at the front of the line, in the firing line. So it is not right for President Obama now to threaten to send us to the back of the line.


©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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From Fox News

From Fox News

Several days ago this headline on Fox News caught my eye, Tourist captures image of mysterious sea monster off Grecian coastline.

Harvey Robertson was on a boat cruise off the coast of Parga, sailing through sea caves with his family. He was initially just trying to capture the unusual color of the surrounding water with his iPhone camera.

What he shot instead has baffled those across the Internet—and marine scientists. Looking back through his camera, Robertson saw that he had captured a grey creature that resembles an elongated manatee. The strange animal appears to pop out of the water in one photo, then disappears under the greenish water in the next.

Evidently Robertson, a Scottish tourist, didn’t realize he’d taken a picture of the animal until later. Fox joked that perhaps the Loch Ness Monster had followed him to Greece.

Having a lifelong interest in cryptozoology, I was fascinated by these photos and the fact that the creature was so curious– “just popping up to say hello!” And something about the creature seemed terribly familiar to me. Since I first read the story I went back and looked at the initial photo a few more times but didn’t read more about it. This morning I woke up, looked at it again, and it hit me– it looks like a Pictish beast. The snout, the eyes, the body length…

The Maiden Stone, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From the Aberdeenshire Council.

The Maiden Stone, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From the Aberdeenshire Council.

A little history– the Picts occupied the northern and eastern part of Scotland during the late Iron Age and earlier on in medieval times. The Romans called them the Picti, the Painted Ones. They were a fierce people who seemed to disappear or be absorbed by the Gaels about a thousand years ago. Several hundred stones carved by the Picts have been found and so there are multiple depictions of this mysterious creature along with others that are not easily identified. The Maiden Stone dates from the 8th or 9th century AD.

Nowadays we are quick to dismiss our ancestors’ “mythology” and so consign centaurs and dragons and Bigfoot to the realms of fantasy. We don’t care to explain why some of these creatures have been a part of many cultures planet-wide and how their stories have been passed down to us over thousands of years. We (ahem) enlightened modern humans tend to laugh off what we haven’t seen when it’s actually hilarious how little we know about our world. We remain largely ignorant about what lurks in the deep oceans and dark jungles. Perhaps Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World wasn’t so far off.

Given the depths genetic experimentation has already sunk to, mixing human and animal genes, pirating parts from unborn children, and generally playing God in ways that could be grossly misused (hybrid armies?), it’s plausible that a rearranging of our fundamental building blocks has been attempted before. Some believe that aliens manipulated our genomes in the past. Others believe that a certain fallen angel and his doomed legions (greys) have been trying to alter God’s design for their own purposes since the beginning, requiring purges like a worldwide flood (Noah’s ark) and the Israelites’ orders to destroy certain peoples, including giants.

Pictish Beast 2

From the BBC

I don’t think this animal is a result of genetic tampering, but could just be another of the wonders of God’s creation. If this creature is real, it’s amazing. I look upon the staggering beauty and diversity in our world that was all designed to work together and marvel over how much fun the Creator must have had cooking it all up. Mathematically it’s impossible for all of this to have evolved, from nothing, by chance, even over billions and billions of years. As C.S. Lewis said, “If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as one of the facts inside the universe– no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside us as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way. And that’s just what we do find inside us.”

So to automatically dismiss the existence of a creature like the Pictish beast is arrogant. Anything is possible with an unlimited Creator and what’s real isn’t limited to what we’ve personally seen. Who’s to say that what’s also referred to as the Pictish dragon or Pictish elephant couldn’t have migrated to warmer water over the centuries– or maybe this is a cousin that’s been there all along. I’ve always thought this animal was a water beast because of its posture and appendages. Depictions of it aren’t limited to the seashore; the Maiden Stone, for example, is inland in Inverurie, which is near a major river. You can see the Maiden Stone in 3D here (note the centaur-like figure too).

Pictish Beast 1

We have porpoises, manatees, and dugongs, so why not this guy? If he’s like them, he’s probably highly intelligent, and his ancestors likely interacted with people in the past. Maybe he was swimming along and was stirred by some ancient memory of getting a free snack from the odd-looking long-limbed things in the boat. It’s amusing that this tourist in Greece was Scottish because nearly every Scottish body of water of any size has a kelpie legend associated with it. Kelpies are also called water horses and in some stories have the ability to change into human form. For centuries the Scots and others have been seeing something, and while facts can be exaggerated, I believe something actually existed or perhaps still exists.

Ultimately I hope this photo can be proven to be unaltered so that it gives us all a better appreciation of our neighbors on this fragile ball. We, here, now, are the remnants of an ancient original design that through our own choices and bad influences has become flawed. Maybe this guy’s a holdout, a survivor, part of a group that’s smart enough to generally avoid humans to preserve themselves (note that he was in a cave). He might look just like his kind did hundreds or even thousands of years ago, back in the days before cameras when Pictish artists would carve their likenesses into pillars of rock. Maybe only the females have the ponytail. Clearly creatures like this were important to the Picts, important enough to include in a message transmitted through time, one that would someday reach us and say, “don’t be so quick to scoff at what we knew all along.”

From The Heroic Age, Pictish Art and the Sea, by Craig Cessford, University of Cambridge. Simplified illustration of some dragonesque brooches from Scotland, the Mortlach 2 symbol and some Pictish Beast symbols (based mainly upon Allen and Anderson 1903, vol. III and Kilbride-Jones 1980).

From The Heroic Age, Pictish Art and the Sea, by Craig Cessford,
University of Cambridge. Simplified illustration of some dragonesque brooches from Scotland, the Mortlach 2 symbol and some Pictish Beast symbols (based mainly upon Allen and Anderson 1903, vol. III and Kilbride-Jones 1980).


Read more about the Pictish beast in Craig Cessford’s Pictish Art and the Sea.


What can be more foolish than to think that all this rare fabric of heaven and earth could come by chance, when all the skill of art is not able to make an oyster! -Jeremy Taylor


©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Seattle Highland Games 2015 1

Every July in Enumclaw, Washington, near the southern border of King County, a fabulous festival is held at the old fairgrounds. There is something for everyone– all genres of Celtic music from the traditional to modern Celtic rock, athletic events, food, a kennel show, livestock, clan booths, lectures, processions, pipe and drum competitions, dancers, and dramas that showcase real weapons.

Bellingham, Tacoma (Graham), Skagit County, Whidbey Island, Prosser, Kelso, and Spokane all have similar events during the late spring and summer that are worth attending. The 69th Annual Pacific Northwest Highland Games and Clan Gathering can easily attract 25,000 to 30,000 people because of its rich offerings. You don’t have to be Scottish to attend– as on St. Patrick’s Day when everyone is Irish, here everyone is at least a little Scottish (the Welsh always have a booth too). And keep in mind that not everyone who is Scottish is white– Scottish descendants come in all shades and sizes.

There are always certain dignitaries present at these events. During the formal kickoff of the games midday, they are introduced and a benediction is given. Seattle Highland Games 2015 2

These formalities are followed by a procession of the clans in alphabetical order followed by the traditional dog breeds featured in the kennel show. Here, Clan Buchanan takes to the green (which was pretty crispy looking after an unusually hot summer lacking any meaningful rain).

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Note the leather shields and weaponry. It’s refreshing to be in open carry sword territory.

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Mr. and Mrs. Nessie accompany the Seattle Genealogical Society. Later I found them posing for photos near the entrance to one of the exhibit halls. Normally elusive, they know they’re among friends at the games.

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The Corgis– a favorite of the Queen of England– are one of many Celtic breeds strutting their stuff.

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The 79th New York Cameron Highlanders are a fixture at such events and provide a three-volley salute at the opening ceremonies. Everything at their encampment is meant to appear authentic, so if you blocked out the surrounding tents, you’d suddenly find yourself in another century.

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From the modern to the ancient, all manner of wares are sold here. Yes, you too can own a cannon and use it to jolt your oblivious neighbors back to reality next time they have a large crowd singing drunken karaoke classics of the ’80s until midnight.

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The Romans made an appearance for the first time. They occupied Britain for hundreds of years and are a huge part of our history. Arthur himself may have been at least part Roman. One of my clan names has Latin roots.Seattle Highland Games 2015 9

Our Viking brethren camp out with the clans and remind us of the other large invasion that integrated itself into the local culture and gene pool.

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The Scottish Court. I remembered to curtsy after taking the photo.

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There are always traditional Highland animals on hand, such as sheep, cattle, and ponies. This mama cow and calf were interested in all the people wanting to pet them, but mama’s horns easily clanged against the metal fencing, unintentionally startling many.

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Do you know the caber toss? The crowds get very involved with this event. The caber is a pole nearly 20 feet long that weighs 175 pounds or so. Competitors must pick it up and toss it so that it flips end to end, trying to achieve the straightest toss possible. You should see the size of some of these guys. The announcers made the athletic events especially entertaining this year (what was that about the guy from Baton Rouge and The Waterboy?).

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Looking over the grandstands to the south. The weather would be hot, then cold, then sprinkle, then burst out in sunshine. We were putting our jackets on and taking them off so often we must have looked like a flash mob doing some sort of routine.

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More big burly men in kilts. This weight throw event seemed to be populated by Stone Cold Steve Austin lookalikes with one supersized Guy Fieri-esque contender. The ball and chain they are throwing weighs well upwards of 50 pounds– and these guys could throw.

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What’s a Scottish event without a good weapons cache? This is one of many vendors at the games.

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An indoor stage.

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This fine chap attends every year. This time he was accompanied by a Scottie that evidently didn’t mind his blaring bagpipes.

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One of the many bands competing at the games, the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band, who received several awards.

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Pirates beware: your curly fries are a hot commodity.

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Each clan booth has its own decor and insignia. If you’re from that or an associated clan, you can hang out at their booth like family… because you are.

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There were many beautiful dogs here, among them Gordon Setters. You can stop and pet each breed. Some handlers even keep a dog up on a table for easy access.

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Bagpiping isn’t just a man’s game. Pipers and drummers are male and female, young and old.

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Here CJ Henderson, Aaron Shaw, and Tiki King of the Wicked Tinkers rouse the crowd with their high energy Tribal Celtic madness. At first glance you might wonder what a didgeridoo is doing among kilts, but this Aboriginal alpenhorn and its Bronze Age cousin make this group.

Henderson can do things with a didgeridoo that I didn’t know a didgeridoo was designed to do. He and his enviable circular breathing can turn the didge into a beat box, brass band, 2000-foot deep beluga, bass clarion, and a bevy of other functions. He also used it to poke the awning above to drain off pooled water, cheering loudly along with the audience as he found yet another use for his caber-like companion.

These guys sing, play multiple instruments, banter, and even parade off and on the stage during performances. Henderson also plays a mean bodhran, and Shaw is like the Slash of pipe players.

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This might look easy. It’s not. These women are competing in the sheaf toss, which means securing a 10-pound burlap bag on a pitchfork, then tossing it behind you in an effort to clear a bar that can be set 20-something feet high. One world record was nearly set today– the woman in that class was nearing 30 feet.

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Tent art.

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Why not pick up a shield for the kids? They can be used for fighting, sledding, home defense, fort building, serving meals, and when not in use, as bedroom decor.

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At the closing ceremonies, all the pipe bands come together on the main lawn and march to the grandstands. It really is like seeing an army assembled.

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The master of ceremonies announces the results of the weekend’s competitions.

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The musicians march forward as they play in unison. If you’ve never heard hundreds of bagpipers at once, you need to. Put it on your bucket list. It will rouse your Scottish blood something fierce. Note the looming clouds to the north.

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The Scottish American Military Society folds our flags.

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See the menacing cloud lowering itself to the left? This is why the emcee told the audience he was going to hurry. I also hoped that the doves that were just released would hurry home because there were at least three eagles soaring on updrafts close by. Go doves, go!

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All pipers and drummers 10 years of age and younger were called forward to be recognized. Seattle Highland Games 2015 33

Almost done… fists in the air like you just don’t care… WHOOO….

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Just as the bands retreated, the floodgates of heaven opened. Even the bumbershoots were Scottish on this day.Seattle Highland Games 2015 35

Despite the torrential rain and thunder, this merry band of competitors found an available shelter and continued to play and cheer.

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The fairgrounds emptied quickly. We were soaked to the skin in about two minutes.

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These two gentlemen were among the last off the lawn as they sprinted for shelter.

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Next year will be the 70th Annual Pacific Northwest Highland Games and Clan Gathering. This year it cost $17 per adult per day and $12 per child over five. The two-day passes are a better deal. Admission is cash only, so if you didn’t bring enough, the onsite ATM charges nasty little fees. Parking costs about $5; many homeowners across the street and the hotel down the block offer parking spots.

There is a beer garden and pubs, and some performers, in the Celtic tradition, emphasize the importance of drink, so us nondrinkers might not find that appealing. But there is more than enough for both adults and children to do otherwise.

Given the caliber of the musicians performing, speakers, and athletes competing, it is well worth your dime, and you get get to be among your brethren as well. You can see this year’s schedule, showcasing the variety of events, here.

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For that is the mark of the Scots of all classes: that he stands in an attitude towards the past unthinkable to Englishmen, and remembers and cherishes the memory of his forebears, good or bad; and there burns alive in him a sense of identity with the dead even to the twentieth generation. -Robert Louis Stevenson


©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Robert Burns

Originally posted January 25th, 2014.


January 25th is Burns Night. Those inclined toward arson shouldn’t get too excited; it’s actually a holiday that celebrates Scotland’s most renowned poet. 

Scotland.org – Burns Night

Robert Burns lived just 37 years but in that time is said to have written or revised 559 poems and songs. A passionate man, he also fathered at least a dozen children, not all with his wife, the last of whom was born the day of his funeral.

Burns’ observations on the lives and feelings of the common man eventually endeared him to all classes of society. He was forthright and relatable, and his burning love for his country made him an icon of Scottish nationalism. But it’s not just the Scots who praise young Rabbie Burns; he has been immensely popular in other countries as well as evidenced by tributes from Sydney to Stanley Park to St. Petersburg.

Burns Night will be celebrated around the globe and many parties will involve Scottish music, dress, and traditions. A favorite Burns Night ritual is the recitation of his Address to a Haggis before the haggis is eaten:

If you don’t know haggis, you might not want to– it’s sheep organs with oatmeal, onions, spices, and suet boiled in the sheep’s stomach. Some adore its rich, spicy taste; others of us are fine with fake (vegan) haggis. 

Here in the Northwest, we’ve taken great liberties with the holiday, with some celebrating Gung Haggis Fat Choy. That’s a combination of Burns Night and the Chinese New Year, a strange mishmash that began in Vancouver about 20 years ago. Today is the 255th birthday of the Bard of Scotland– he was born in 1759– and in true weird wet weather fashion the Seattle celebration is being held the day before Presidents Day.

Others, however, stick with more traditional timing and traditions. There will be Burns Night celebrations on Mercer Island and in Mountlake Terrace tonight, cities on either side of Seattle. The Canadians love Burns Night, so they will be partying along with many in the UK, Australia, and America.

Burns is a rock star in Russia as well– many Burns Night dinners have been happening there this weekend. Some love the smell of haggis in Kiev. When Burns was translated into Russian during the days of Imperial Russia, common folk felt a kinship with him and honor him to this day. счастливые ожоги ночь! (that’s a literal translation, but hey, I tried).

The largest Burns Night Supper to date happened in 2009:

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth in 2009, more than 3,900 Burns Suppers in more than 80 countries were joined together to make the ‘The World Famous Burns Supper’ celebration.

From MacSween, Burns Night FAQs.

Even if you don’t want to get your tartan on and revel in a reading of Burns’ poetry tonight, you can easily find his writings online. One of my favorites is also one of his shortest musings:

The Book-Worms (1787)

Through and through th’ inspir’d leaves, 
Ye maggots, make your windings; 
But O respect his lordship’s taste, 
And spare his golden bindings.

Along with Auld Lang Syne, Burns’ Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn from 1793 is one of his better known literary triumphs, known to most as Scots Wha Hae:

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled, 
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, 
Welcome to your gory bed, 
Or to Victorie! 

Now’s the day, and now’s the hour; 
See the front o’ battle lour; 
See approach proud Edward’s power- 
Chains and Slaverie! 

Wha will be a traitor knave? 
Wha can fill a coward’s grave? 
Wha sae base as be a Slave? 
Let him turn and flee! 

Wha, for Scotland’s King and Law, 
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw, 
Free-man stand, or Free-man fa’, 
Let him on wi’ me! 

By Oppression’s woes and pains! 
By your Sons in servile chains! 
We will drain our dearest veins, 
But they shall be free! 

Lay the proud Usurpers low! 
Tyrants fall in every foe! 
Liberty’s in every blow!- 
Let us Do or Die!

Burns wrote in Scots. You can find the English and Scottish Gaelic translations of this poem here.

Feel free to browse more of Burns’ works at the Burns Country site, where they’ve posted his complete works. In his short and challenging life, Burns wouldn’t know that allowing his mind to spill over onto paper would be cause for celebration more than two and a half centuries after his death. His spontaneity and creativity still makes Scottish blood boil with pride and unites various cultures in the name of brotherhood and the love of a good trope with their tripe.


Thus bold, independent, unconquer’d, and free,

Her bright course of glory for ever shall run:

For brave Caledonia immortal must be…

-Robert Burns, 1789


©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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To my Scottish brethren who are scattered all over the world– Happy St. Andrew’s Day! Alba gu bràth!

Scottish Flag

St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and every November 30th is St. Andrew’s Day. Scotland.org has a fantastic website about this important day. They even have this Saltire Yourself app. A saltire is a diagonal cross, also called St. Andrew’s Cross, which is the basis for the Scottish flag. (more…)

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