A photographic journal exploring the more remote haunts, myths, legends and fabulous beasts of the British isles.
‘I saw the dark high head very distinctly; there can be no denial, by even the most rabid scoffer, that in Loch Ness there is something abnormal.’
Mr J.C. Mackay, excerpt from More than a Legend by Constance Whyte.
In 1899, Aleister Crowley, the ‘wickedest man in the world’ or ‘the great beast’ as he was also known, bought Boleskin House by the shores of Loch Ness. Reputedly named after Baal, the bloody God of the Babylonians, Boleskin offered all the requirements of seclusion, space, place and physical arrangement for Crowley to perform his magic rituals. One such ceremony (in which he hoped to attain communication with his guardian angel), required an intensive six-month daily dedication to accomplish. Part of the rite for the initiate was to be able to invoke the ‘Lords of Darkness’ and compel them to serve the ‘Light’. Halfway through this ritual, Crowley was called away to give aid to his ‘Master’ in the cult of the ‘Golden Dawn’. In abandoning the ritual without banishing those forces he had already summoned (and so clearing the air, as it were), he left the door open to this world for certain demonic forces to enter. Misfortune and unease have dwelt in Boleskin ever since, and it is perhaps no surprise that it was reputedly a haunted house. On 23rd December 2016, the house was gutted by fire; the cause was never found.
Some believe that the influence of these dark forces has spread into the countryside around, and are responsible for the manifestations of the ‘beast’ or ‘serpent’ of Loch Ness. The ‘monster’, as it is now called, made itself widely known shortly after Crowley’s final departure from Boleskin House in 1913. The construction of a road along the north shore in 1933 brought in a steady stream of sightings, as the loch was now visible along its entire length. In many reports of the Loch Ness monster, a feeling of unease and fear often accompanies the beholder: a feeling of something unnatural, something out of place. However, legends of beasts, kelpies or water horses, said to inhabit many Scottish lochs, stretch way back in time, long before Crowley and his misguided rituals.
In the 7th century, St Adamnan wrote in his biography of St Columba ‘of the driving away of a certain water monster by virtue of prayer by the holy Man.’ His narrative goes on to tell of how, upon seeing the monster (who had already killed a man that same day) rushing upon a swimmer in the River Ness, the great man invoked the word of God and commanded: ‘Think not to go further nor touch thou that man; quick, go back!’ The beast was so stricken with terror at these words that it fled ‘as if drawn back by cords’.
Thus the Loch Ness monster entered into history. To the highlander of old, it and the other monsters or kelpies of so many Scottish lochs were no harder to comprehend than a man landing on the moon to today’s ‘enlightened’ souls. However, the monster was looked upon as an omen of misfortune; the highlander would not interpret it as an ordinary member of the animal kingdom. Even at the turn of the last century, children playing by the lochside would always have an adult in attendance to guard against the water horse. In George Herbert Morrison’s book, St Columba, His Life and Times, he wrote of the early inhabitants of these mountains:
‘In every spring, in every well, there was a spirit; in every loch there lived some dreaded thing. When the echoes of thunder rolled through the mountain corries, or when the wild storm beat the forest, voices from the great mystery were speaking.’
An old map from 1712 in the Bodleian Library in Oxford has the following note in reference to Loch Lomond: ‘Waves without wind, fish without fins, and a floating island.’
(To be cont.)
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Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
MY BIOGRAPHY My name is Phil Horey, I am a commercial diver and photographer in both land and sub sea images. I have in the past worked as a racecourse photographer for The Scottish Equestrian magazine in which I also had a monthly column reporting on Horse racing matters. I have also had several magazine articles published on the subject of haunted locations and folklore etc. I have exhibited in Edinburgh and further afield in Scotland , and recently was shortlisted for the ‘Take a view’ landscape photographer of the year competition. I have had a lifelong interest in History and folklore and legends of the British isles.