All Souls Day is a holy day set aside for honoring the dead. The day is primarily celebrated in the Catholic Church, but it is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and a few other denominations of Christianity. The Anglican church is the largest protestant church to celebrate the holy day. Most protestant denominations do not recognize the holiday and disagree with the theology behind it.
According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go. Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. There is scriptural basis for this belief. The primary reference is in 2 Maccabees, 12:26 and 12:32. "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out... Thus made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin." Additional references are found in Zechariah, Sirach, and the Gospel of Matthew.
Jewish tradition also reinforces this belief as well as the tradition and teaching of the Church, which has been affirmed throughout history. Consistent with these teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven. The belief in purgatory has not been without controversy.
Certainly, some flagrant abuses of the doctrine were used to raise money for the Church during the renaissance. Famously, Martin Luther argued with the monk, Johan Tetzel, over the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were sold as spiritual pardons to the poor and applied to the souls of the dead (or the living) to get people into heaven. The abuse of indulgences and the blatant, sometimes fraudulent practice of selling indulgences for money, led to Luther's protest. When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he omitted the seven books of the canon which refer to prayers for the dead. He then introduced the heretical belief that people are simply saved, or not, and argued that there is no need to pray for the dead to get them into heaven. The Church reeled from Luther's accusation, and reformed its practice of selling indulgences.
However, it reemphasized the Biblical and traditional practice of praying for the departed and the importance of such prayers. All Souls Day is celebrated in much of the western world on November 2. Other rites have their own celebrations. The Eastern Orthodox Church has several such days throughout the year, mostly on Saturdays. All Souls Day is not a holy day of obligation. It should not be confused with All Saints' Day, which is a holy day of obligation. Many cultures also mark the day differently. In North America, Americans may say extra prayers or light candles for the departed. In parts of Latin America, families visit the graves of their ancestors and sometimes leave food offerings for the departed.
All Saints’ Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls’ Day, which is observed on November 2 and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.
Although millions, or perhaps even billions, of people, may already be saints, All Saints’ Day observances tend to focus on known saints --that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church. Generally, All Saints ’ Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day, unless they have an excellent excuse, such as serious illness.
Celebrations and customs vary around the world. In the United States, children go out trick-or-treating for candy the night before, while Catholics attend the Mass the following day. In Spain, Mexico and Portugal, offerings are often left for the dead. Across Western Europe, people visit graves and leave offerings of flowers, and in Eastern Europe, they light candles on the graves at night. In the Philippines, families paint and repair graves of their loved ones. These celebrations often blur the distinction between All Saints' Day, which is dedicated to those who are in heaven, and All Souls' Day, which is dedicated for all those who have died.
In Mexico, the Day of the Dead holy days extend from October 31 through November 2. This holiday has spread in popularity into the United States and across latin America. It's generally celebrated from October 31 through November 2, and it coincides with the American Holloween holiday and the Catholic holy days
However, it's important to remember these basic facts:
Halloween is a secular holiday that comes the night before All Saints' Day.
All Saints' Day is on November 1, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation.
All Souls' Day in on November 2, and it is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.
The painting is The Three Witches from "Macbeth" (1827) by Alexandre-Marie Colin
Round about the cauldron go:
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweated venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing.
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat; and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Overland to the Yellowstone River
After an unsuccessful combined military, fur company and allied Indian campaign against the Arikara, often called Rees for short, in the summer of 1823, Ashley and Henry determined that the Missouri River was no longer a viable route to the Rockies. The cost in lives, time and finances caused by the upper river Indian tribes had become too great. To avoid further conflicts with the tribes along the Missouri, the partners decided to equip two groups of trappers and send them overland to the Rocky Mountains.
A group led by Jedediah Smith would travel west along the White & Cheyenne rivers while the other group, with Andrew Henry in charge, would make haste northwesterly to Fort Henry at the mouth of the Yellowstone. Smith’s goal was to contact the Crow Indians to establish trade and gain knowledge of beaver rich areas. Because his new fort was located in hostile Blackfoot territory, Henry hurried to the fort, concerned for the safety of the small contingent of trappers he left there. Whether Hugh Glass volunteered for the Henry party or was recruited, assignment to this brigade put Glass on a collision course with a grizzly bear and legendary fame.
Horses being in short supply, the men in Henry’s party traveled afoot, leading pack animals. According to trapper Daniel Potts there were thirty men with Henry. However, this figure may have included the thirteen men needed to crew the keel boat Rocky Mountains because beaver man James Clyman reported Henry’s overland party numbered seventeen.
Attack by Mandan and Gros Ventre
Whatever the exact number, the group bound for Fort Henry included Potts and Moses “Black” Harris. Both men provided accounts of an Indian attack on their party in late August. According to Potts, the trappers “where fired on by the Mandans and Groosvants in the dead hour of night,” resulting in two men wounded and two killed. These “Groosvants” were not the Gros Ventre of the Prairie, a part of the Blackfoot Confederation openly hostile to all whites, but the normally friendly Missouri River dwelling Hidatsa. An attack on whites by the Mandan Indians was equally unusual, this assault on Henry’s band being the only recorded incident of hostility towards Euro-Americans in this tribe’s history.
Encounter with Mother Grizzly
By late August or early September of 1823, Henry and his remaining fifteen men were well up the Grand River Valley. Hugh Glass, in his role as a hired hunter, was some distance in front of the group searching for game along the brushy river bottom when he encountered a sow grizzly bear with two cubs. The bear charged Glass and rendered a severe mauling. Hearing Glass’ screams for help, several of the party made their way to Glass and killed the bear.
Once the severity of Glass’ wounds was determined Henry and most of the veteran trappers were sure that Ole Glass would “go under” before morning. Glass, however, was still alive the next day. With roving bands of hostile Indians in the area, Henry determined that the best approach was to stay on the move, so he ordered a litter built and they carried Glass along for the next two days.
The slow pace created double jeopardy since both the men with Henry and the men on the Yellowstone were in greater danger until united. Realizing this, Henry asked for two volunteers to remain with Glass for the few days he had left, give him a proper burial and then travel to the fort. For taking on this dangerous task the volunteers would receive an $80 bonus. This plan allowed Henry’s group to move rapidly across country yet fulfill his Christian-invoked obligation to a member of his company.
The men who agreed to accept Henry’s offer to stay with Glass were experienced woodsman John Fitzgerald and a young man who was on his first venture into uncharted wilderness. The original account of this incident, written by James Hall and published in 1825, does not name either of the two volunteers. However the other three early accounts of the Glass story gave the name of the older man as John Fitzgerald. Only the 1838 article authored by Edmund Flagg provided the name of the younger man as “Bridges.” In his comprehensive history of the Rocky Mountain fur trade, historian Hiram M. Chittenden named James Bridger, then nineteen years of age, as the younger man based primarily on information received from upper Missouri River boat captain Joseph La Barge. Because Chittenden was the first to author a scholarly researched and documented history of this era, many contemporary historians quote Chittenden in naming James Bridger as the second man. Did Jim Bridger abandon Hugh Glass?
Left for Dead
Although his only visible motions were breathing and eye movement, Hugh Glass was still alive five days after the Henry and the rest of the brigade departed. By this time Fitzgerald was certain they were in eminent danger of discovery by Indians. He convinced young Bridger their agreement was fulfilled because they had watched over Glass far longer than Henry or anyone had expected him to live. In fear for their lives and convinced Glass would “go under” any day, the two men settled his pallet next to a flowing spring and headed for the fort at the mouth of the Yellowstone. They also took Glass’ gun, knife, tomahawk and fire making kit, items for which a dead man had no need.
Realizing he had been abandoned, Glass summoned the strength to start crawling back towards the Missouri River, driven by the will to survive and an intense desire for revenge on the two men who deserted him. Glass knew that the supplies, arms and equipment needed for not only for recovery from his wounds, but also to embark on his quest to extract revenge from his cowardly caretakers could be obtained at Brazeau’s trading post. More commonly known as Fort Kiowa, this establishment was located on the Missouri a few miles above the mouth of the White River and far enough downstream from Arikara country to provide a reasonable expectation of safety.
Due to his injuries, travel was tediously slow at first. Glass’ only nourishment came from insects, snakes and whatever eatables he could find on the prairie. A week or so into his painful trek, Glass happened upon wolves in the process of killing a buffalo calf. Waiting until the pack had their fill, he was able to make off with half of the carcass during the night. By remaining encamped until most the buffalo calf meat had been consumed, Glass allowed his body to further heal and gain strength. Somewhat recuperated, Glass was able to significantly increase his rate of travel. Once he reached the Missouri River, he obtained a hide boat from some friendly Lakota Indians and floated downriver to his destination. By mid-October 1823, Hugh Glass limped into Fort Kiowa having covered over 250 miles.
Narrow Escape with Langevin
After weeks of survival on his own, Glass had been at Fort Kiowa only a couple of days when he learned of plans to send a small group of traders to the Mandan villages some 300 miles upriver. Post factor Joseph Brazeau had decided that tensions with the Arikara, who had resettled near the Mandan, were quelled enough to attempt a trading venture. The contingent would consist of five men led by Antione Citoleux, more commonly known by his nickname “Langevin.”
As an “Ashley man,” Glass was allowed to purchase a rifle, shot, powder and other supplies on credit. Expecting to find Fitzgerald and Bridger at Henry’s fort near the mouth of the Yellowstone River, he was anxious to head upriver as soon as possible. When Langevin’s Mackinaw boat pushed off early one mid-October morning, Hugh Glass was the sixth member of the crew.
After six weeks of battling the prevailing northwest winds and the seasonally strong downriver currents, the Fort Kiowa traders were within a day’s travel of the Mandan. The section of the Missouri River just below the village was a large bend or “oxbow.” At this juncture, Glass made a fortunate decision, asking to be put ashore. He reasoned that an overland walk on a direct route to the Mandan village was quicker and less tedious than rowing the boat around the large bend; any saved travel time would bring Hugh face to face with his quarry all the sooner.
Unfortunately for Langevin and his men, Brazeau’s idea that the Rees had taken up the peace trail was wrong. Within a day of Glass’ separation, his traveling companions were attacked by a group of hostile Arikara and every man was killed.
Within a few miles of the Mandan village, Glass was spotted by some Arikara women gathering fire wood who sounded the alarm that a white man approached. A group of warriors quickly rode towards the trapper bent on cutting him down. Two Mandan men observed these events, decided that depriving the Rees of their intended victim would be great fun, and jumped on their ponies. The pair of Mandans got to Glass ahead of the Rees, scooped him up and delivered him to the safety of Tilton’s Post, a Columbia Fur Company trading establishment located near the Mandan village. Fate had again saved Glass from death at the hands of the Arikara.
At Tilton’s trading post, Glass learned of the massacre of Langevin’s party and that the men in this fort had been living for months under a constant Arikara threat. Having escaped two deadly encounters, one has to wonder if Hugh Glass may have momentarily contemplated the many life and death events he had survived over the last six months.
In addition to being mauled by a grizzly and left to die, Glass had been involved in three Indian attacks in which 21 men were killed and 16 wounded. While this number of close calls would give most men pause, Glass’ actions indicate he remained focused on his current situation and his pressing need to reach the mouth of the Yellowstone River. Hugh departed Tilton’s post that night under the cover of darkness and took the added precaution of being ferried to the river bank opposite the Arikara camps.
Confronting Bridger at Fort Henry
After leaving a suffering Glass in the care of Fitzgerald and Bridger on the Grand River, Andrew Henry’s brigade had reached Fort Henry in late October. Because the trappers previously stationed at the fort attributed their poor fur harvest to constant harassment by the Blackfoot, Henry decided to relocate trapping operations further south to the Bighorn River Valley. As a result, a second Fort Henry was built near the junction of the Little Bighorn and Bighorn rivers. This new location was about thirty miles south of the larger river’s junction with the Yellowstone River. It was late November when Glass started a long, cold 38-day walk from Tilton’s post to Fort Henry; a trek that took him to an empty fort.
The historical record is silent on how Hugh Glass knew to head for the Bighorn River country when he found Fort Henry deserted. Historians have speculated that a written note was left at the post to alert Ashley and any other downriver company men of the new location should they go to the mouth of the Yellowstone looking for Henry. Whatever the case, based on information from a man identified only as Allen and who was allegedly there, trapper George Yount’s account stated Glass walked into the new Fort Henry on New Year’s Eve, 1823.
Once the shock of seeing a walking, talking man thought to be dead abated, the men at the fort were full of questions, all of which Glass answered. Finally, he had the chance to ask one burning question, “Where are Fitzgerald and Bridger?” After the miles covered and the hardships endured in getting to the place of his anticipated vengeance, one can only imagine the depth of his disappointment when Hugh was told that Fitzgerald had left and only Bridger was at the fort.
From his confrontation with the teenaged trapper, Glass determined the real culprit was Fitzgerald and decided to forgive the younger man. Glass wanted his gun back and Fitzgerald, who still had it, was now on his way to Fort Atkinson, a military fort on the Missouri River.
Returning to Fort Atkinson
The severity of the winter kept Glass at Fort Henry until an opportunity arose for him to head downriver on an official mission for the fur company. Andrew Henry needed to apprise his partner, William Ashley, of the current situation and operational plans for the upcoming spring. Henry determined that the best way to accomplish this was to have a dispatch delivered to Fort Atkinson which could then be forwarded to Ashley in St. Louis. Due to the weather and continued danger from hostile Indians, Henry concluded that five men would be required to accomplish this mission. That Henry was offering extra pay to the men who would undertake this dangerous task probably had little to do with Hugh Glass agreeing to go. Fitzgerald was supposed to be at Fort Atkinson and that would be all the reward Glass needed.
Hugh Glass, Marsh, Chapman, More and Dutton, left Fort Henry on the Big Horn River February 29, 1824, bound for the military post at the Council Bluffs of the Missouri River. Their overland route took them southeast, across the Tongue River to the Powder River, which they followed south until the Powder split into its North and South forks. Following the South Fork took them into a wide valley where they turned southeast and within forty-five miles reached the North Platte River. As the trappers made their way along the North Platte, the spring thaw set in causing the river to resume its flow. At this point, the men constructed “bull boats” of buffalo hides and floated on down the river.
Arikara Encounter on the Platte River
Near the junction of the Laramie River with the North Platte, the skin boats approached a group of Indians encamped along the river. A chief walked down to the shore, making gestures of friendship, speaking in the Pawnee language and inviting the trappers to come ashore. Believing these Indians to be a group of friendly Pawnees, a tribe with whom Glass had once lived, the mountaineers accepted the invitation. Leaving Dutton and all of their rifles with the boats, Glass, Marsh, Chapman, and More followed the chief into the tipi village.
Not long into their parley, Glass overheard an Indian speak in a language that was not Pawnee but Arikara. Realizing they had been duped and were now in a treacherous position, Glass warned his comrades that these Indians were Rees. At the first opportunity, the trappers ran for their lives toward the river. More and Chapman were cut down while Glass and Marsh, going in different directions, managed to reach the hills and hide until dark. Dutton set off downstream at the onset of the fight and eventually encountered Marsh walking along the river. The two men, thinking that Glass had been killed by the Arikara, continued on and reached Fort Atkinson in May without incident.
Once again, Hugh Glass was alone in the wilderness, in the midst of hostile Indians, without a rifle, and three or four hundred miles from civilization. Based on the nearly impossible circumstances imposed upon him by Fitzgerald and Bridger, Glass would later confess to a fellow trapper,
"Although I had lost my rifle and all my plunder, I felt quite rich when I found my knife, flint and steel in my shot pouch. These little fixens make a man feel right peart when he is three or four hundred miles from anybody or any place."
Believing that the Arikara roamed the Platte River Valley, Glass thought it prudent to abandon the river and head cross country on a direct route to Fort Kiowa. Because springtime was the buffalo calving season, the prairie thrived with newborns. This fortunate timing of Nature’s abundance allowed Glass to dine regularly on veal and complete the trip to the Missouri River in fine form. At Fort Kiowa he learned that John Fitzgerald had enlisted in the Army and was definitely at Fort Atkinson.
Sometime in June of 1824, Hugh Glass walked into Fort Atkinson. Bent on revenge, he demanded a face-to-face meeting with John Fitzgerald. The US Army, however, had different ideas. As a soldier, Fitzgerald was now government property so the Army was not about to let Hugh Glass have “at him.” After hearing Glass’ story, the captain on duty retrieved Glass’ gun, returned it to him, and advised the mountaineer to forget about Fitzgerald as long as the man remained a member of the US Army.
Overjoyed to be united with his rifle, yet frustrated that he could not extract some satisfaction from Fitzgerald’s hide, Hugh Glass moved on to western Missouri. After a few months of working at various odd jobs, Glass decided to try his luck in a different part of the country and joined a fur company bound for Santa Fe.
Fellow mountain man and friend of Hugh Glass, George Yount provided most of the information on Glass’s life once his dealings at Fort Atkinson concerning the fate of John Fitzgerald were concluded. According to Yount, Glass was paid $300 at the fort to appease his need for vengeance and to compensate him, at least partially, for the hardships that he had endured. He used these funds to travel to the western settlements of Missouri and, in 1824, became a partner in one of the trading ventures to New Mexico. Once in Santa Fe, Glass formed a partnership with a Frenchman named DuBreuil, and the two men went on a trading and trapping venture along the Gila River.
After a year of trapping and trading southwest of Santa Fe with only marginal success, Glass relocated to Taos. He was then hired by Etienne Provost to lead a trapping party into the southern Colorado territory of the Eutaw Indians. While trapping and canoeing down a river, Glass’s group spotted a lone Indian woman along the bank.
The woman was a Shoshone, a tribe at war with the Eutaws at the time, and hostile toward the whites who traded with their enemy. As Glass and his men approached the woman with an offering of beaver meat, their sudden presence startled her and she let out a horrendous yell. The scream alerted Shoshone braves resting nearby and they fired numerous arrows at the mountaineers. The attack resulted in one trapper killed and Glass with an arrowhead embedded in his back. Glass endured the pain of an inflamed wound while the party traveled 700 miles back to Taos. Once there, a fellow trapper using only a straight razor removed the metal arrowhead. After spending several months in Taos allowing the wound to heal and recuperating his health, Hugh Glass joined a group of trappers heading for the beaver grounds of the Yellowstone River country.
While no information has yet been discovered to reveal the regions of the Yellowstone country visited by Glass during the years 1827-28, the story of Phillip Covington’s employment with William Sublette’s rendezvous caravan during that same timeframe proves that Glass attended the 1828 Bear Lake Rendezvous. Due to the monopoly and high prices being charged by Smith, Jackson, and Sublette at this rendezvous, Glass was asked by the free trappers to represent them to Kenneth McKenzie and invite the American Fur Company (AMFC) to send a trade caravan to the 1829 rendezvous. Thus, when Glass left the 1828 rendezvous he was bound for Fort Floyd, an American Fur Company post located near the mouth of the Yellowstone River, to palaver with McKenzie.
Glass’s movements during 1829 are not certain, but it can be assumed that he made it to the 1829 Pierre’s Hole rendezvous to report to the free trappers the outcome of his visit with McKenzie. The free trappers’ special envoy may have actually influenced AMFC management because a trading caravan under the leadership of Fontenelle and Dripps was scheduled to attend the 1830 rendezvous. Whatever the specific outcome of Glass’s representation of the free trappers, it appears that he and McKenzie developed a mutually respectful relationship.
By the spring of 1830, Glass was trapping and hunting on the upper Missouri region, and based at the recently constructed Fort Union. According to historian H. M. Chittenden, Glass worked as a hunter for Fort Union and harvested so many bighorn sheep on the hillsides opposite the fort these hills became known as the Glass Bluffs. An 1874 map of the Territory of Montana showed the bluffs near the mouth of the Yellowstone still being identified as “Glass Bluffs.”
The American Fur Company ledger book contained accounts for “Hugh Glass –Freeman,” indicating that he routinely traded at Fort Union during 1831-1833. These same ledgers also showed that Johnson Gardner, another famous free trapper, had migrated to Fort Union during the same time period. Gardner had been with the 1822 Henry/Ashley party and had been an independent Rocky Mountain trapper and trader since that time. Since both men came to the upper Missouri country as Ashley men they were probably friends, and it appears that both of these older trappers had opted for the easier lifestyle afforded by a trading post.
In order to cultivate trade with the Crow Indians, Samuel Tullock was sent in the summer of 1832 to the Yellowstone River to build a new trading post near the mouth of the Big Horn River. Named Fort Cass, the new post was completed by the fall of 1832 and its location was three miles downriver from the junction of the Bighorn and Yellowstone rivers. Not long after its completion, Hugh Glass relocated to Fort Cass as a hunter supplying meat to the new AMFC post.
In the early spring of 1833, Glass accompanied by Edward Rose and Hilain Menard, departed Fort Cass to trap beaver a short way downriver from the fort. As the trappers were crossing the ice of the frozen river, they were ambushed by a large party of Arikara Indians who had been concealed on the opposite bank. All three men were shot, scalped, and plundered. It was these men’s misfortune that an Arikara war party, bent on stealing horses, had been scouting the area around the fort when they spotted the trappers.
Another Ashley man, James P. Beckwourth, provided an account of Hugh Glass’s demise in which he stated that he was at Fort Cass in the spring of 1833 and found the bodies of the three trappers lying on the ice. With the exception of learning that Glass and two men were killed on the Yellowstone River in the spring of 1833, none of the rest of Beckwourth’s story matched any verifiable accounts from the period.
Beckwourth ended his version of the Glass story by describing the burial of the three trappers and the Crow Indians’ deep emotional reaction to the death of these veteran trappers,
We returned together and buried the three men, amid the most terrible scenes that I had ever witnessed. The crying was truly appalling. The three men were well known, and highly esteemed by the Crows. When their bodies were lowered to their last resting-place, numberless fingers were voluntarily chopped off and thrown into the graves; hair and trinkets of every description were also contributed, and the graves were finally filled up.
Some of the Arikara war party who had killed the three trappers had moved on to the headwaters of the Powder River where they encountered a camp of trappers lead by Johnson Gardner. Pretending to be a tribe other than Arikara, the trappers allowed the Indians to warm themselves by their fires. Consequently, the trappers noticed an Indian with old Glass’s rifle and other Indians with possessions known to belong to the other murdered trappers. A fight ensued and two Arikara were captured. Seeing the Arikara with guns and knives known to belong to three of their fellow trappers had put Gardner and his men in a mood for vengeance. Johnson Gardner had the Indians scalped, then burned alive when they could not provide a good explanation for being in possession of accouterments known to belong to Gardner’s fellow trappers.
In 1839, Edmund Flagg provided the record of Johnson Gardner’s demise when he stated that: “Not long afterwards Gardiner himself fell into the hands of the Erickeraws, who inflicted upon him the same dreadful death.”
Article by: Clay Landry
See Sources page for the original accounts of the Hugh Glass story…
History has seen some incredible, cut-throat politics and lurid scandals, including the reign of Queen Elgiva: a teenage Saxon princess who was caught enjoying a threesome (along with her mother!), in the bed of King Eadwig, on the day of his coronation and at a time when he should have been discussing affairs of state with his noblemen and courtiers.
Elgiva faded from the pages of history just four years later when King Eadwig conveniently died (he was probably murdered) and was replaced by his brother Edgar.
Today, there are many Roman rings of gold and silver in museums and archives. However, one Roman ring stands out as legendary. Known as the Ring of Senicianus, the Ring of Silvianus, or the Vyne Ring, this gold ring was stolen over 1600 years ago. The owner begged the gods to curse the thief and anyone else who possessed it. Owned by the National Trust today and on display at Vyne Manner, this golden ring may have been the inspiration of J.R.R. Tolkien’s One Ring in The Hobbit.
Sometime during the 4th century AD, Silvianus, a Roman stationed in Gloucestershire, England, visited the elaborate baths of the Celtic God Nodens. Located on a hill above the River Severn at Lydney, the Temple of Nodens celebrated the Roman-British deity that is associated with healing, hunting, dogs, and the sea.
Nodens is a cognate of the Old Irish Nuada Airgetlam, first king of the Tuatha de Danann who was disqualified from ruling Ireland because he lost his hand in battle. Nodens has also been associated with the Fisher King of Arthurian legends, the Norse god Njord of the Vanir (god of wine, fishing, sailing, and fertile land along the seacoast), and the Roman god Mars. By all accounts, Nodens could be a rascally deity and well inclined to help with a curse.
When Silvianus was at the Temple, his golden ring was stolen from him. Silvianus believed that it was Senicianus who stole the ring- how he knew this is not clear. Silvianus thus went to the Temple and prepared a lead plate known as a defixio or ‘curse tablet’.
He inscribed the tablet in Latin:
DEVO NODENTI SILVIANVS ANILVM PERDEDIT DEMEDIAM PARTEM DONAVIT NODENTI INTER QVIBVS NOMEN SENICIANI NOLLIS PETMITTAS SANITATEM DONEC PERFERA VSQVE TEMPLVM DENTIS
Which translates as:
For the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one half [its worth] to Nodens. Among those named Senicianus permit no good health until it is returned to the temple of Nodens.
The ring is large, perhaps intended to be worn on the thumb or outside of a glove. It has a diameter of 1 inch (25mm) and weighs 12 grams (0.4oz). The ring has ten facets and a square bezel engraved with the image of the Roman goddess Venus. When the pagan Silvianus owned the ring, the ten gold sides were bare. Yet a later Christian owner, perhaps Senicianus, had the ring crudely inscribed with the letters “SENICIANE VIVAS IIN DE.” Presumably, the inscriber meant to say “SENICIANE VIVAS IN DEO” or “Senicianus, may you live with God,” however, he misspelled ‘IN’ with two Is and therefore had no room for the O in DEO.
Little is known about the fate of Senicianus. The ring was discovered in 1785 in a plowed field on a farm near Silchester, England. Silchester is a town of Roman origins some 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Lydney. Some researchers say the ring was accidentally lost, others hold that it was purposefully discarded. Falling on hard times, the Silchester farmer sold the ring to the Chute family who lived in the nearby country house, The Vyne. The Chutes were known to be interested in history and antiquities, however, it was not until 1888 that Chaloner Chute took notice of the ring and published a paper on it. And it was not until 1929 that the connection between the Vyne Ring and Silvianus’ curse tablet was established by archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler. The connection cannot be entirely confirmed, however, Senicianus is an unusual name and the close dates of the artifacts seem to support Wheeler’s theory.
J.R.R. Tolkien, at the time merely a professor of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic literature at Oxford University, was asked by his friend Wheeler to help clarify who the obscure god Nodens was and what role he might play in the history of the Ring.
Many now believe that the Ring of Senicianus was the inspiration for the ring in The Hobbit . In an article published in History Today , Mark Horton, professor of Archaeology at the University of Bristol, and Dr. Lynn Forest-Hill, Education Officer for the Tolkien Society, explain:
Silvianus loses his gold ring at Lydney, as Gollum lost his under the Misty Mountains. Silvianus believes his ring has been stolen by someone whose name he knows – Senicianus – just as Gollum thinks his ring has been stolen by Bilbo Baggins. Silvianus curses by name the person he suspects. Similarly, when Gollum works out that Bilbo has found and kept his ring, he cries out in rage: ‘Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!’ Both Gollum and Silvianus know the identity of the persons they regard as thieves who have stolen their gold rings and both declare these names with maledictions.
It is important to recall that the ring in The Hobbit (1937) , which gives the wearer invisibility, is different from that ring in The Lord of the Rings books (1954-55), which gives the wearer unique sight, extended life, and untold power. Author J.R.R. Tolkien has acknowledged the difference, writing, “The only liberty … has been to make Bilbo’s Ring the One Ring: all rings had the same source, before ever he put his hand on it in the dark.”
Interest in the story of The Vyne Ring has been re-awakened by a new exhibition at the National Trust's historic Vyne Estate, which asks the question: what is it that inspired author JRR Tolkien? Martin Parsons sets off On The Trail Of Tolkien to find out, following the author's story from Birmingham to Oxford and beyond. The journey examines Tolkien's early life around Sarehole Mill, visits the city's real-life inspiration for The Two Towers and soaks up Tolkien's influences in Oxford: from the academia of Exeter College, to his meetings with CS Lewis at the Eagle And Child pub, to the Tolkien family home in Northmoor Road. The story of Tolkien's connection with The Vyne Ring is also explored with historian Mathew Lyons and Professor Michael Fulford of Reading University, as Martin joins the archaeological dig at Silchester where the famous 'cursed' gold ring was discovered...YouTube
A film for the National Trust by Honalee Media.
Scientists report that they may have found the earliest written record of a solar storm in ancient Assyrian tablets.
Recent analyses have found evidence of an extreme solar storm that left energetic particles in tree rings and ice cores across the world sometime around 660 BCE. With this in mind, a research team in Japan and the United Kingdom wondered if they’d be able to find evidence of this storm in ancient astrological records—and they may have found something in Assyrian tablets.
Back in the 19th century, archaeologists uncovered thousands of tablets dating back to the Assyrian empire in Mesopotamia, which documented treaties, stories, including the now-famous epic of Gilgamesh, and astrological reports. These reports included observations of the planets, phenomena like comets and meteorites, and of course, predictions of omens. The researchers (today’s researchers) scanned through a collection of these astrological reports in search of auroral-type events, which they define as “reddish luminous phenomena in the sky” and are caused by the Sun’s particles interacting with the atmosphere. Many of the reports weren’t dated, but the researchers could at least produce date ranges based on the astrologer who wrote the report.
They found three reports that seemed to mention auroral phenomena: one reporting a “red glow,” another a “red cloud,” and a third reporting that “red cover[ed] the sky,” according to the paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The records correlate with date ranges of 679 BCE to 655 BCE, 677 BCE to 666 BCE, and 679 BCE to 670 BCE, respectively. Assyria might seem too far south to view the aurora, being at approximately the same latitude as North Carolina, but past research shows that the North magnetic pole was much closer to the Middle East in the 7th century BCE (and especially strong solar storms can cause the aurora to move south).
These records seem to correspond to tree ring data and ice core data showing quick increases in radioactive elements associated with solar activity during this time. Obviously they’re just correlations—but perhaps these tablets are the earliest-yet records of intense auroral activity.
The ice core and tree ring data suggest that the 660 BCE storm would have been quite powerful. A blast of particles following a solar flare could have even punched a hole in the ozone layer. It’s one of the strongest candidate solar proton events on record, alongside similar-looking events from 775 CE and a weaker event around 993 CE.
Scientists hope to better understand and eventually be able to predict these storms, since they’d wreak havoc on our electrical infrastructure. And if you’re an ancient Assyrian, surely a red cloud would be a bad, bad omen.- Gizmodo
Currently housed at the University of Cambridge Library, the historic Book of Deer is said to have been discovered by the University's librarian, Henry Bradshaw, around 1860. It is said to be the only pre-Norman manuscript revealing tenth century northeastern Scottish culture's society and religious traditions, and is the earliest known Gaelic document in existence.
Although fascinating to historians for multiple reasons, the greatest intrigue for those drawn to this ancient text lies within the handwritten notations made in its margins and other blank areas, and not necessarily within the text itself. The notations, also referred to as 'notitiae', are written in the type of Gaelic typically spoken by the upper classes in the early twelfth century region of Buchan at a time later than the original text, indicated land grants or 'charters' and represented the legal rights to land believed to have belonged to the original Deer monastery of Aberdeenshire in Scotland, thus presenting a clear connection to the Deer region.
Although a Cistercian Abbey can be traced back to the year 1219 in a nearby region, any links to an earlier monastery have never been established and appear to have vanished entirely other than within the hand writings of the Book of Deer. If the writings are, in fact, valid, and not forgeries, they indicate the earliest Gaelic documents in Scottish existence - dated back to three centuries earlier than the next earliest historical writings confirmed. Although their credibility has been called into question by some, others argue the writing is completely authentic and believe clues to the location of the actual monastery will be found eventually. Through continued study and ongoing excavations like the fall of 2015's endeavor which sought to use ground-penetrating radar as well as other archeological work being planned and funded primarily by the namesake Scottish Book of Deer Project, such a discovery may well occur in time.
The text of the book comprises eighty-six folios including portions of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the full Gospel of John, an Anointing of the Sick (especially relevant as the church sought to secure the Picts' faith over traditional folk healers when sick), the Apostles' Creed, and an old Irish colophon arranged into a small Gospel Book. (There is also an interesting element within the text, largely considered an error in the Gospel of Luke, which indicates a man named Seth to be the first man and grandfather of Adam.) These types of books were usually made for personal use at the time rather than for use in church, and were called "Irish Pocket Gospel Books." Cambridge University was provided the book by King George I after he bought the library of Bishop John Moore in 1715, but its original transport from its roots in Aberdeenshire remains a mystery. Some have speculated that the Wars of Scottish Independence may have provided the circumstances for its theft.
Although some have suggested the penmanship appears identical among the various notations, others have stressed the differences and proposed the possibility of five different writers. Some of the accompanying artistry, however, is especially unique and noteworthy. Decorative adornments of letters, large Evangelist illustrations and simple drawings can be found throughout the book, and its style suggests similarities to early Irish manuscripts such as the old Irish manuscripts of the Book of Dimma and Book of Durrow.
Of particular relevance aside from the land grants' writing are areas which centered around the monastery's creation in Deer by the saints Drostan and Columba, after they were given the original land from a Pictish authority named Bede. Additionally, some of the writings asserted the monastery was free to remain of paying certain fees. David I of Scotland is also mentioned in the writings, as he is said to have given the monastery certain immunity from lay service and future demands for payments. As a result, during the time of David's rule in Scotland, he enjoyed heightened 'sair sanct' status throughout his reign.
The entire book has now been shared with the world via the digital images of the Cambridge University Library.- Ancient Origins
Book of Deer- WIKIPEDIA
Book of Deer- Cambridge University, Digital Library
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, SCHOLARS!