Staring into the terrifying thunderous tumult of the Corryvreckan whirlpool, it's easy to see why its sheer primal energy has fascinated people for centuries.Now Edinburgh folklorist Stuart McHardy has suggested a startling new theory - that the awe-inspiring natural vortex between the islands of Scarba and Jura in Argyll and Bute was the true origin of the Holy Grail.At its wildest, some say the whirlpool forms a spectacular swirling cauldron 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The cause is hidden beneath the waves – a giant rock pinnacle rising from the depths to within 95 feet of thesurface.
Water on the seabed is forced upwards when it hits the submerged rock, causing huge waves. The noise can keep the neighbours awake up to 20 miles away.
McHardy believes that the Corryvreckan was, for pre-Christian Picts, a "Mother Goddess" - the Mother of All Fertility Symbols.
"These ancient pagan tribes
saw the whirlpool as a giant cauldron - or Grail - of rebirth," he
says. "They believed it was the womb of all creation and could even
awaken dead warriors. It was literally their Holy Grail."
In his new book On the
Trail of the Holy Grail, McHardy writes that incoming Christian monks
tried to erase all trace of this ancient way of thinking. They rewrote
what they saw as dangerous pagan beliefs, downplaying the regenerative
power of femininity, promoting the idea of asingle, male God and
disguised the religious significance of the whirlpool.
The final blow to the Old Religion is thought to have come from the legendary warrior Arthur, the hammer of the Picts.
Historian of the Clan
Arthur, Hugh McArthur, believes a 10th century Welsh poem contains
cryptic clues that reveal the Corryvreckan's central role in early
stories about the Holy Grail. Preiddeu Annwn (The Spoils of Annwfn)
describes how King Arthur and three boatloads of warriors sail to the
Welsh Otherworld to steal a magical "cauldron of inspiration". Arthur's
boats pass through the "gates of Hell" to Caer Sidi (the Fortress of
the Fairies) but only seven of his force survive.
McArthur writes: "It is
this successful but costly raid on the most unassailable fortress in
Britain that made Arthur the livinglege......
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