SEEKING SARDINIAN MYSTERIES
ANDREW COLLINS REPORTS FROM SARDINIA ON A RECENT CONFERENCE ON GIANTS IN THE EARTH AND ON THE POWERFUL TRADITION OF THE ACCABADORA, THE ISLAND'S SIGNORA DELLA MORTE OR "WOMAN OF DEATH")
Andrew Collins next to the poster of the giants conference in SardiniaWhere else would you find anthropologists, archaeologists, mystery writers and alien believers arguing the case for the existence in former times of giants in the earth? Italy of course, well, actually the beautiful Island of Sardinia in this case. I have just returned from a memorable and rather strenuous stretch at the L'era dei Giganti ("the age of the giants") event, held in the heart of the Sardinian landscape at a place called Pauli Arbarei, noted for its own legends of giant graves and giant bones being discovered in the pastoral lands locally.
Held over the weekend of November 6/7, 2010, the diversity of speakers and performers, all Italian except for myself and Austrian mysteries researcher Klaus Dona, were encouraged to champion their own opinions on giants, whether as flesh and blood human beings, ancestral myths or as ancient astroanuts. There was a minute's silence, for the recently departed Zecharia Sitchin, who championed the somewhat wild notion that the Watchers and their giant offspring, the Nephilim, as well as the Annunaki of Sumerian and Babylonian tradition, were aliens from the planet Nibiru who came here 250,000 years ago to colonize earth and create the race of Adam to mine for gold in darkest Africa.
Naturally, I championed the somewhat more sober view that the Watchers of the book of Enoch, and other Enochian texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, were a memory of the ruling elite that likely entered the Near East around 10,000 BC and laid the foundations for the Neolithic revolution. They created, in my opinion, the first settled agricultural communities with the founding of Pre-pottery Neolithic sites such as the extraordinary megalithic complexes of Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori in SE Turkey. The memory of this elite, most probably shamans associated with the cult of the dead, was recalled across countless generations until these great wisdom bringers, described as walking serpents, became not only the Watchers of the book of the Enoch, but also the Annunaki - the supposed builders of the first Mesopotamian city states.
Much of this is backed up by the fact that this same region of the globe, focused on the great inland sea of Lake Van, is the traditional site of the land of Eden - mentioned on occasions in the Old Testament and famed for its noted garden, serpent and disobedient couple. It is here that the sources of the four rivers of paradise can be found, and it was here also that the first creation of wheat from the domestication of wild grasses took place around 9000 BC. Indeed, the generic origins of no less than 68 modern strains of wheat can be traced to wild grasses (einkorn and emmer) that still grow on the slopes of Karacaca Dag, an extinct volcano just 20 miles (32 km) from Gobekli Tepe.
Large vats have been found at Gobekli Tepe, which are thought to have used to make a wheat-based beer around the same time that wild grasses were first been cultivated at nearby Karacaca Dag. If correct, then beer making might well have preceded the use of wheat to make bread. It would certainly seem that the ruling elite at Gobekli Tepe got their priorities right on this one!
As Tall as Trees
In stature the Watchers of the Book of Enoch, who I firmly believe were flesh and blood human beings, are described as like trees, while their offspring, the Nephilim (a word thought to mean "those who fell", or "the fallen"), were often described as gigante, "giants" (indeed, the famous "giants in the earth" quotation from Genesis 6:4 was originally "Nephilim in the earth", not "giants" - this substitution coming only in much later times).
Personally, I have no reason to assume that descriptions of Watchers as large as trees is based on actual fact. More likely is that the indigenous peoples of the Near East were much smaller than the proposed shamanic elite that arrived on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers sometime around 10,000 BC. I suspect they were no more than six to six and a half feet (2-2.25 m) tall at the most. The Watchers' original homeland remains a mystery, although I have repeatedly proposed that it was the Upper Nile of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Here between 15,000 and 11,000 BC some of the most advanced communities anywhere in the world thrived.
They possessed a sophisticated microblade technology, superior homesteads comparable with those of the later Neolithic age, and even possibly a form of proto-agriculture. This is my best bet as to where the builders of Gobekli Tepe originated.
Evidence of the global disruptions caused by a comet impact in North America c. 10,900 BC (after the work of Richard Firestone and many others including myself in GATEWAY TO ATLANTIS, 2000) can be found in Egypt. A thick carbon-rich layer caused by falling ash and debris from the intense firestorms that would have raged following this unimaginable cataclysm on the North American continent has been found all over the world. The ash would have remained in the upper atmosphere, creating a dense cloud cover that would have blocked out the sun. This would have caused a prolonged period of total darkness and bitter cold, something that is recalled in catastrophe myths worldwide. Afterwards, the ash would have gradually fallen to the ground, creating this 20 cm thick layer known as the Usselo Horizon. It is the greatest telltale sign we have of the reality of this great devastation at the end of the last Ice Age.
Evidence of this destruction is even preserved in the records of ancient Egypt. The so-called building or foundation texts at the temple of Edfu in southern Egypt speak of a time of floods and destruction following the onset of a period of darkness. This occurred after the appearance in the sky of an enemy snake known as the Great Leaping One. In my opinion, this is a memory of the comet impact, c. 10,900 BC.
The chaos and disorder that would inevitably have followed this proposed period of darkness would have included turmoil among indigenous populations worldwide, creating untold migrations into new territories. It was at this time that I believe the Watchers of Eden, the proposed builders of Gobekli Tepe and the founders of the Neolithic revolution moved from the Nile to the Near East, eager to take over the reigns here.
Through an interpreter I told this story to a capacity audience of around 500. I had to cut various corners due to the lack of time, but I think everyone understood where I was coming from.
Andrew in front of a church at Pauli Arbarei
Austrian mysteries writer Klaus Dona, organiser of the Unsolved Mysteries exhibition in Vienna in 2001, and subsequently in Berlin, Switzerland and Japan, gave two presentations. The first provided anatomical evidence for the former existence of giants in the earth, some as much as five and a half metres in height! He showed also a number of pictures of deformed human skulls, mostly from Central and South America. Although many of these can be put down to artificial deformation through the binding of the skull at a very young age, others shown were more difficult to understand. It was a point admitted by an Italian anthropologist whom Klaus turned to constantly on the panel in order that she might explain what was being seen here. She suggested that the weirdest deformations were genetic in nature, although as was pointed out, when do you ever see people like this today?
The one point which intrigued me most is that the seemingly increased size of the craniums caused through deformation must also increase the volume capacity of the brain, espexially as some of the deformations are enormous, causing the individuals to become cone heads!
Reconstructions of some of the individuals behind these strange skulls brought out the odd appearance of these ancient ancestors, some of whom had double ridges across their scalps that really did make them look like aliens, one reason for including the skulls in the lecture.
In his second lecture, Klaus showed slides of many unusual and out-of-place artefacts from around the world, many coming from private collections in Central and South America. These have been the mainstay of his Unsolved Mysteries exhibitions since 2001. Some of the objects or collections seen are quite fascinating, while others should be treated with some caution, since they are perhaps deliberate confabulations created to exploit the modern belief in ancient astronauts visiting the earth.
Horus was an Alien
After other speeches on the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the discovery of over-sized statues in Sardinian tombs, a talk on contemporary Mexican shamanism, and ceremonial displays from an authentic Aztec dancer, I listened to a talk by an "expert on extra-terrestrial life". He told us that the Egyptian hawk-headed god Horus was/is an alien, and implied that the pyramids of Giza were aligned to Orion because this was the home of an alien race. I found these ideas extremely difficult to accept. Perhaps I am just not ready to accept that there are a plethora of alien races out there from an assortment of home planets. But this was the greatness of an event like this, which was able to successfully blend together such diverse opinions in one auditorium. Somehow the whole thing seemed to work, allowing those present to listen to and experience something out of their usual comfort zone.
In addition to what went on inside the hall - a converted gymnasium that serves this beautiful Sardinian village - Sue and I, along with Klaus Dona and his partner Margaret, were privileged to visit some of Sardinia's impressive megalithic sites. This included the Pranu Muttedu archaeological park at Goni, in the SE part of the island. Here dozens of tall menhirs (standing stones) are shaded by groves of trees across an area of 200,000 sq m. One impressive line of megaliths is orientated east-west, while others mark the entrances to circular stone tombs, all constructed sometime between 3000-2000 BC and orientated generally north-south.
Some of these stone tombs at Goni bear the title "Domus de Janas", meaning "house of the witch (or fairies)" in the ancient language of Sardinia. Sue and I were very much impressed by the site and amazed that we had never before seen any pictures of this beautiful and extremely important megalithic complex. It is truly amazing and well worth bringing to the world's attention (see the pictures on my facebook page).
Stone row at the Pranu Muttedu archaeological park at Goni on the Island of Sardinia
A circular stone tomb at Pranu Muttedu with cut windows into three separate hollowed out chambers.
There are a large number of other quite mysterious prehistoric sites in Sardinia, the most noted of which are its so-called nuraghes (or nuraghi)- well-built stone towers, some of considerable size. There are literally thousands of them scattered across the island, with the official explanation being that they are defensive towers. It is a theory hotly contested by the island's earth mysteries researchers who have been exploring the nuraghes' possible astronomical alignments.
Deliberately placed portals, windows and light slits enable the rays of the sun to cast light on the interior walls of the nuraghes at the time of the solstices and equinoxes. In some cases this creates abstract images of pure sun light that reflect symbols known to be associated with the Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of Sardinia. I doubt whether such light play inside these strange structures is without some kind of religious intent.
The most incredible and unique tradition I came across in Sardinia is that of the accabadora. This is the title given to a mature woman who was appointed by a community to apply euthanasia to the old and the infirm. It is something she would carry out with the utmost precision using a cudgel made from a section of a tree branch from which extends another branch, the whole thing cut to form a hammer-like weapon similar in appearance to the Irish shillelagh stick. Another means of inducing death used by the accabadora was strangulation, either by applying pressure to the neck or by placing the victim's neck between her knees (???).
There would only ever be one accabadora in any one generation. Each would serve the local community until their own death, a successor having already been appointed and prepared for the role. Justification for the existence of the accabadora was offered in the fact that only a woman can bring life into the world, so only a woman can take it away.
The accabadora is portrayed as a mature woman dressed in black with a cowl-like shawl covering her head. One can imagine her approaching the house of a victim, her cudgel doubling as a walking stick. It is a sinister and very powerful image, and one made even the more haunting by the fact that this tradition is thought to have continued among some Sardinian communities until the 1970s.
A book I looked at in Sardinia's Cagliari airport contained eye-witness accounts of the last known accabadora, as well as an alleged picture of one, while a woman at the conference alerted me to the fact that an accabadora's cudgel is kept in a museum at a place called Luras in the north of the island. You can see footage of it being unwrapped and shown to a visitor by clicking here), while several web pages record what little is known about the accabadora tradition on Sardinia (see for instance http://golem.ilcannocchiale.it/?id_blogdoc=531228).
Since returning home I have discovered that the accabadora had an additional role that tells us more about her true origin. She would attempt to induce death in a dying person by encouraging the soul to depart from the mortal body. In order to achieve this she would remove all objects of religious and personal significance from the room in which the person lay awaiting death. This supposedly enabled the spirit to more easily break free of its earthly bonds. Additionally, a strange device like a miniature farm yoke, with hooks at each end, was placed beneath the person's pillow, although for what purpose I have yet to ascertain.
Woman of Death
Knowing that Sardinia might preserve archaic folk customs going back thousands of years, it is difficult not to see the accabadora, the signora della morte, or "woman of death", as embodying some kind of magical archetype. Indeed, a Neolithic stone figurine with a bird-like beak, short stumpy wings and human body unearthed at a Sardinian archaeological site in a place called Turriga has been described as a "totem for those who tend the sick and dying, the goddess Janas [who] represents Mother Death in Sardinian mythology" (see http://www.yoni.com/gifts/gorgeous-jewellery/goddess-janas-pendant-7.html). Was the accabadora an embodiment of this goddess of death in her role as the Janas, the witch or fairy?
Statue of bird goddess found at an archaeological site in Turriga, Sardinia.
|It is possible that the concept of the accabadora has its roots in Neolithic times, when the bodies of the dead were placed on wooden platforms and offered up to scavenger birds in the process known as excarnation. Once the birds (which included crows, ravens, rooks and vultures) had picked clean the carcass, the bones would be collected up and deposited in some kind of tomb structure or ossiary (bone box), where they would become a point of communication with ancestor spirits. So could the role of the accabadora have once been linked with the activities of the charnel area? Did she act as an intermediary between the grieving family and the psychopomp (Greek for "soul carrier") that was thought to guide or accompany the departed spirit into the afterlife? Interesting that most psychopomps were represented as birds, totems of mother goddesses like the one found at Turriga in Sardinia.|
I saw a statue of the accabadora in the garden of a café in the village of Pauli Arbarei, where the conference was being held. Carved by a local artist, it displays the signora in archetypal form with her shawl and cudgel. It is a haunting and very compelling representation. The accabadora clearly remains strong in Sardinian popular consciousness, with the signora della morte being featured in books, plays, graphic comics, and short movies (see, for instance, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiJV3vmLdGg&feature=related).
I am fascinated by the concept of the accabadora, and want to know more. Does such a tradition exist elsewhere in the world?
Can it be linked with any other mythical archetype? I would love to learn more about this important subject, which I believe could help us better understand the religious beliefs of the Neolithic cult of the dead.
I would like to thank Stephano Salvatici and his staff for their hospitality and friendship during the conference, and the Comune di Pauli Arbarei, The Regione Autonoma Sardegna Assessorato al Turismo and all the other sponsors, who made the event and my visit to Sardinia possible.
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Carved stone statue of an accabadora seen in the garden of a cafe at Pauli Arbarei, Sardinia