Unpacking the Lion’s Share…

Strength (Tarot card) - Wikipedia

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‘It is the strongest of all powers,

the force of all forces.

It overcomes every subtle thing,

and penetrates every solid substance.’

Emerald Tablet

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The glosses in the biblical text make it clear

that this tale has been ‘recommissioned’ for use in the canon.

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It is also clear from the related marriage customs which set-up the riddle

that the Philistines were a matriarchal community.

A bride-price is demanded rather than a dowry offered.

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Most weird of all, perhaps, is the riddling episode itself.

It is the only example of an overt riddling sequence in the Old Dispensation.

And it is ‘all wrong’…

The riddle question reads like an answer.

And the answer, which is only half an answer, anyway, reads like a question!

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Ox’s not lions are traditionally renowned for strength.

Lions are more usually associated with ferocity.

Perhaps by attempting to answer the riddles

as they stand some light may be shed.

*

What is stronger than a lion?

The midday sun.

What is sweeter than honey?

The look of love.

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As this is ostensibly a marriage tale which goes wrong

we might begin to see why what has been done to the tale has been done.

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Samson has long been regarded as a type of ‘sun-god’…

Perhaps his wife, who is not even graced with a name,

was originally a ‘moon-goddess’.

‘Out of the eater, something to eat’

could certainly describe the waning-waxing moon.

Both visually and practically by dent of the growth cycles of plants

being linked to the waxing phase of the moon.

*

If the thirty wedding guests are the ‘days of a month’,

it means that the story originated in a culture

with a calendar similar to that of the Egyptians.

A three-hundred and sixty-day year with five intercalary days or ‘divinities;.

*

The bride-price as sacred and profane dress is also interesting,

and, again, is ultimately only half-met.

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The great sun-hero storming off in anger at the close

is perhaps less a show of strength and more one of petulance.

Which may, or may not, be deemed fitting.

The Lion’s share…

Strength (Tarot card) - Wikipedia

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… ‘Cursed be the man who eats a lion

that the lion becomes human.

Blessed be the lion that eats a man

when the lion becomes human.’

The Living One

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Samson went down to Timinah, in Philistine.

On approaching the vineyards there a full grown lion came roaring at him.

Samson tore the lion asunder with his bare hands.

Then he went down and noticed a girl amongst the women,

they talked, and she pleased him.

When he returned to his homeland he said to his mother and father,

“There is a woman of the Philistines whom I would like as my wife.”

*

So, Samson went down to Timinah the following year,

with his mother and father, to marry the woman.

On again passing through the vineyard there

Samson saw the carcass of the lion he had slain before.

In the skeleton of the lion a swarm of bees had a hive, and had made honey.

Samson scooped up some of the honey into his palms,

then he and his mother and father ate the honey as they went along.

*

So they went down to meet the woman, and as was customary,

Samson held a wedding feast for the woman’s kinsfolk.

Thirty companions there were attending the wedding feast

but Samson could not afford the bride-price for the woman.

“Let me set you a riddle,” he said to the wedding guests,

“if you can solve the riddle during the seven days of our wedding feast,

I shall give you thirty linen tunics and thirty sets of clothing but if not

then that number of garments shall be due to me.”

“We shall hear your riddle,” said the wedding guests of the woman of Philistine.

*

“Out of the eater,

came something to eat.

Out of the strong,

came something sweet.”

*

For three days the wedding guests

were unable to fathom Samson’s riddle.

On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband

and provide us with the answer to his riddle,

else we shall put you and your father’s household to the fire,

have we been invited here to be impoverished?”

*

Then Samson’s wife wept before him saying, “You do not love me,

you have asked my countrymen a riddle without telling me the answer.”

“I haven’t even told my mother and father,” said Samson.

During the rest of the feast Samson’s wife continued to inveigle him with her tears

until on the seventh day he told her because of her constant nagging.

She explained the riddle to her kinsmen and at the close of the seventh day

they taunted Samson with the answer, “What is stronger than a lion?

What is sweeter than honey?”

“Had you not plowed with my heifer

you would not have solved my riddle,” said Samson.

*

Then Samson went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of its men.

He stripped them and gave their clothing to his wife’s kinsmen as her bride-price.

Then he left in rage for his mother and father’s house…

 

 

 

 

 

Mistletoe

Bare winter fingers Unveil the treasure hidden By summer's mantle

This picture was taken in early spring last year, just as the world began to warm itself in the pale sunlight. The place was Pilton, a little village near Glastonbury with a legendary history as big as a heart. It is here, the stories tell us, that Joseph of Arimathea landed on a trading visit to the Isles of Tin, bringing with him a boy… his nephew, say some… whose name was Jesus.

None know the truth of that story, though historically it is possible. There is ample evidence for the trade and it is not the only such legend in Albion. It gives credence to the other legend of Joseph that says that after the crucifixion, he brought the story of the resurrection to these Isles, landing, once again, in the shadow of the Tor… bringing word and a Vessel to Avalon.

I hover between a natural scepticism and a desire to accept. So many of the most ancient tales were bent to serve Christianity in its early days, turning the sacred knowledge of the old gods into the hagiographies of fictitious saints or tying their miracles to the hills of the Fae and the healing wells of the goddess, robbing them of their true lineage. I am not a Christian in the orthodox sense; I belong to no church but serve what I conceive of being perhaps better termed the Cosmic Christ. Yet I am also a child of these Isles and rooted in the land, and there is a warmth and simplicity in these old tales of the Child whose feet walked these blessed shores that makes me choose to believe that there is something in them; something that speaks to the heart rather than to the logical mind. As such, perhaps subjective truth is a matter of choice or faith.

Looking down the valley in the photograph towards the Tor, you can trace the ancient waterway, now no more than a stream, that once brought ships to safe harbour at Pilton. The channel remains, deep and wide and the eye of the mind can trace the outlines of moorings and see the bustle of a small trading port. Seeing the land open itself in this way somehow permits belief.

The trees were bare of everything but the balls of mistletoe that would soon be hidden by exuberant spring. The brilliant young green would cover them, hiding from view the ancient orbs, sacred to those who walked the earth long before Christianity reached our shores. The mistletoe lives upon the branches, its seeds rooting and drawing sustenance and life from roots other than its own so that it may flower, fruit and set future seeds, colonising the trees. Not unlike the story that was brought to these shores so long ago.

The mistletoe is hidden for most of the year, covered by the leaves of its host. You only get occasional glimpses of its presence… and only if you are looking. Yet, when the world is bleak and cold and the branches raise skeletal fingers to the sun, it is there… a plant that has been sacred since time immemorial, and which has come to be a symbol of peace.

Here too I find an echo of a faith that is seldom broadcast, perhaps, but which is there in the darkest of times. It does not belong to any particular denomination or religion…it may not even have a name… it is the faith of the heart that turns towards something greater when the shadows fall. In those moments seeds are planted in the soul that may find a place to grow. It does not need logic, facts or explanations. It does not need dogma or teachings… those are for the exoteric world. The heart knows no logic and faith is not rooted in religion… it is an unruly and invasive tendril that winds through the soul. And when it is free to grow wild, then it is beautiful.

The Star of St George…

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The red cross on the white shield of St. George is made up of red scales like the scales of the red dragon that wakes at the foot of St Michael’s Spear.

The red cross on the breast of St. George’s white breast-plate is made up of red scales like the scales of the red dragon whose forked tongue licks the root of St Michael’s Spear.

…And since when did the Archangel Michael become a Saint anyway?

Since the wings from the dragon subdued by St George became the self-same wings unfurling from his shoulder-blades.

Red as blood in the fight the fiery dragon rises

Pinioned and led, fled from earth to pole.

A posited pole that starry spear… arrowing straight to light… eddying out… to and fro… back and forth… body and soul… to soul.

For the sight of the night pole leads to the flight of the light soul.

In passion fled…red to red…unbled.

A bright, spear point fed…

to the dragon, bred.

***

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The Triad of Albion is now Live on Amazon.

THE INITIATE  ~  HEART OF ALBION  ~  GIANTS DANCE

Don and Wen, two founding members of a new Esoteric School, meet to explore an ancient sacred site, as a prelude to the School’s opening event.
The new School is based upon a psychological, nine-fold, system and operates under the aegis of the Hawk of Horus.
The trip does not unfold as planned.
Instead, Don and Wen, apparently guided by a plethora of birds, embark upon a journey that will lead them through a maze of spiritual symbolism, to magical mysteries and the elusive figure of the ‘Ninth Knight’.
The Initiate is the story of a journey beyond the realms of our accustomed normality.
It is a true story told in a fictional manner.
In just such a way did the Bards of old hide in the legends and deeds of folk heroes, the deeper truths of existence for those ‘with eyes to see and ears to hear’.

“From heart to head a lay, from head to heart the way…”

Now imagine that the lens of the camera captures a magical light in soft blues and misty greens and gold. A light that seems to have no cause in physical reality. What would you do? If you were open to the possibility of deeper realities, perhaps you would wish to explore this strange phenomenon… something two people came to know as ‘sacred chromatography’.

As the veils thin and waver, time shifts and the present is peopled with shadowy figures of the past, weaving their tales through a quest for understanding and opening wide the doors of perception…

Available via Amazon UK, Amazon.com, and worldwide

 

Through a hole clearly: the Legend of Sallow Kenneth

(Above: a hagstone of the type used by ‘Pale Kenneth’ to see into a second world)

We were looking for dolphins…

Between Rosemarkie and Fortrose, on the shores of the Black Isle, north of Inverness, there is a promontory named Channonry Point. It projects out into the Moray Firth in such a way that the local population of some sixty bottlenose dolphins take delight in swimming in the rapid tidal races just off its rocky shore.

(Above: Channonary Point on the Black Isle)

We had just missed them (wrong state of the tide) when I spotted the notice board describing Pale Kenneth…. Suddenly there was something more interesting than the disappointment of missing the bottlenoses.

(Above: The Moray Firth is home to a large population of Bottlenose dolphins. Image from the information board)

His name was Coinneach Odhar which means ‘Pale Kenneth’. But the real meaning is ‘sallow’, an older and more historically charged description of a ‘fey’ person. Coinneach Odhar, then, is Kenneth the Sallow.

Kenneth was a 17th century seer from the Hebridean island of Lewis who came to work at Brahan (Bra’an) Castle near Dingwall, about ten miles from where the dolphins swim though the tidal races at Channonary Point.

He is portrayed in a slightly comic fashion on the information board, but, having looked into this, I suspect this carries some cultural sarcasm…

(Above: image of Coinneach Odhar from the information board at Channonary Point)

The ‘seer’, literally ‘see-er’ had possession of a ‘second sight’ – whereby the holder could see two worlds at once; the normal and the inner, more supernatural. The second sight was viewed in Scottish history as more of a curse than a blessing.

Local legends say that Kenneth the Sallow’s mother was responsible for his second sight. She was passing through a graveyard one night when the ghost of a Danish princess appeared before her, intent on returning to her grave. Kenneth’s mother demanded that, in return for her free passage, she should pay her a tribute. She asked that her son be given the magical sight. Later that day, Kenneth the Sallow found a small stone with a hole in – through which he would look and see the ‘second world’.

“Ah, take patience with the lad for he has the Sight and it is a terrible affliction.”

Exercising this ability, the man known by then as the Brahan Seer, or Coinneach Odhar saw visions that came unbidden by day or night. His prophesies were viewed as impressive and accurate, and his fame spread… Some of these prophesies are still quoted to this day

The Brahan estate, where Kenneth worked, was the seat of the Seaforth chieftains, from somewhere around 1675. These became powerful families with great authority and wealth.

Some of Kenneth’s prophetic visions that came true in the years following his death include the Battle of Culloden (1745), which he uttered at the site, and his words were recorded. “Oh! Drumossie, thy bleak moor shall, ere many generations have passed away, be stained with the best blood of the Highlands. Glad am I that I will not see the day, for it will be a fearful period; heads will be lopped off by the score, and no mercy shall be shown or quarter given on either side.”

Kenneth the Sallow’s other prophesies include:

⁃ The joining of the lochs in the Great Glen. This was accomplished by the construction of the Caledonian Canal in the 19th Century.

⁃ He talked of great black, bridleless horses, belching fire and steam, drawing lines of carriages through the glens. More than 200 years later, railways were built through the Highlands.

⁃ North Sea oil was foretold : “A black rain will bring riches to Aberdeen”

⁃ He even told of the day when Scotland would again have its own parliament. He said this would come when men could walk ‘dry shod’ from England to France. The opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994 was followed by the opening of the first Scottish Parliament since 1707

⁃ He said that “Streams of fire and water would run beneath the streets of Inverness and into every house… Gas and water pipes were laid in the 19th century.

⁃ Pointing to a field far from seashore, loch or river, he said that a ship would anchor there one day. “A village with four churches will get another spire,” said Coinneach, “and a ship will come from the sky and moor at it.” This happened in 1932 when an airship made an emergency landing and was tied up to the spire of the new church.

⁃ “The sheep shall eat the men” During the Highland Clearances, families were driven from the Highlands by the landowners and the land they farmed was given over to the grazing of sheep.

At the height of his fame and powers, Odhar made a fateful prediction which would ultimately cost him his life. Isabella, wife of the Earl of Seaforth, asked for his advice. It appears she wanted assurances of the true nature of her husband’s visit to Paris. Sallow Kenneth reassured her that the Earl was in good health but would not be drawn further.

The enraged Countess Isabella demanded that he tell her everything or she would have him killed. Kenneth said that her husband was with another woman, fairer than herself, and then he foretold the end of the Seaforth line, with the last heir being deaf and dumb…

The truth is written in Scotland’s history.

Francis Humberston Mackenzie, deaf and dumb from scarlet fever as a child, inherited the title in 1783. He had four children who died prematurely.The line, indeed, came to an end.

Countess Isabella was so incensed by this, she had Kenneth the Sallow seized and thrown head-first into a barrel of boiling tar.

But the actual history may have been different, though the legend of Sallow Kenneth is a firm part of Scotlands traditions. There is no record of a Coinneach Odhar ever having existed in the Highlands during the the 17th century.

But there is in the 16th century…

Parliamentary records from 1577 show that two writs were issued for the arrest of a ‘principle enchanter’ known as Coinneach Odhar. He was reputedly a gypsy known to supply poison. His skills were purchased by a Catherine Ross, who sought to remove the rivals to the inheritance she wanted for her sons. It was said she had already paid for the skills of over twenty witches, each of whom had each failed.

The records show that many of the witches were caught and burnt – Scotland had a terrible reputation for witchcraft, something that terrified many of its kings. What happened to Coinneach remains a mystery. If he was caught it is likely that he too would have been burnt, which reflects the later legend that he was killed in a spiked tar barrel.

Was this legend transplanted a hundred years into the future?

But what is the link with the lighthouse and the dolphins at Chanonry Point, near Fortrose, the place where our story began?

There is a stone slab at Chanonry Point that is said to mark the spot where Sallow Kenneth died. The inscription reads: “This stone commemorates the legend of Coinneach Odhar better known as the BRAHAN SEER – Many of his prophesies were fulfilled and tradition holds that his untimely death by burning in tar followed his final prophecy of the doom of the House of Seaforth.”

Were these two different people or the same? Perhaps the 16th century Coinneach was the grandfather of the Brahan Seer?

Whatever the truth, these legends, and the prophesies they bear, are set as stone in Scottish lore. One prophesy carries particular resonance.

(Above: The Pictish ‘Eagle Stone’, subject of one of Sallow Kenneth’s enduring prophesies. Source)

An important Pictish stone, the Eagle Stone, stands in Strathpeffer, Ross-shire. The Seer predicted that if the stone fell down three times, then Loch Ussie would flood the valley below so that ships could sail to Strathpeffer.

The stone has fallen down twice: apparently it is now set in concrete, indicating that the legend of Sallow Kenneth continues to hold sway in these parts…

©Stephen Tanham

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

The Laidley Wyrm…

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I weird you a Laidly Worm,

Until the end-of-days,

And freed ne’er shall you be,

Until the king’s successor,

Approach the Heugh,

And give you kisses three…

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Before a legend ‘goes national’ it will first have been local.

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There are lots of ‘merlins’ and ‘arthurs’ in the land of Britain,

although not all of them are known by those names or titles.

*

There are too, lots of dragon slayers,

few of which are called George.

*

Before George became our Patron Saint,

our Patron Saint was called Edmund.

*

Edmund was shot full of arrows then decapitated,

and his decapitated head was stolen, by a wolf…

Which is, perhaps, not very heroic.

Not heroic enough for some, certainly.

*

Before George became our Patron Saint

there was a ‘dragon slayer’ in Northumbria,

here is his tale…

*

“And so to Bamburgh castle, the king a new wife did bring.

But his queen took an instant dislike to her husband’s daughter, Margaret,

And transformed her into a Laidly Wyrm which coiled itself about a Great Stone,

And laid waste the land for seven miles around.

*

Daily, the milk of seven cows was brought the Wyrm but all to no avail,

For the enchantment could only be lifted by Childy Wynd,

Margaret’s brother, but he lived far away over the sea.

*

Word of the dark doings in his homeland eventually reached Childy,

Who built a ship with a rowan-tree mast and silken sails,

And set out to rid Bamburgh of its blight.

*

The queen, she spied the ship and sent out ‘witch-wives’ to sink it,

But they were powerless ‘gainst the magical mast.

As the ship came into land, the Wyrm leapt up,

The Wyrm leapt down, and plaiting ’round the stane,

Banged it out to sea again.

*

Undaunted, Childy put in on Budle Sand and waded ashore.

Finally encountering the Wyrm, Childy laid his sword upon its head,

Yet gave it kisses three,

And though it crept back into its hole a Wyrm,

It stepped out, a Lady.

*

Together, brother and sister returned to Bamburgh,

To be greeted by their joyful father, the king.

The queen was transformed, by Childy, into a toad,

Which to this day spits venom on young girls out walking.”

Duncan Frasier  AD 1270

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Freezing Brass Castles…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

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‘A fleet hoofed horse

moves swift as quick wit’

Old English Proverb

*

…’ After spiriting George away from his mother’s side,

Kalyb, the fell enchantress tended to him as the apple of her eye,

and appointed twelve Satyrs to attend his every whim.’

*

Twelve of anything usually refers to months of the year.

*

‘When he was fourteen years old George

demanded to know who were his parents.

Kalyb told him and showed him a castle of burnished brass

wherein she held captive the six bravest Knights of Christendom’…

*

The seven champions are the planetary bodies again.

George would naturally have to be the Sun,

which if they are given in correct order makes Mars

Spain which for this period in history works rather well!

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There is also a salient point here, though.

The energies of what the Hebrews used to call the Elohim

are ordinarily shut up, or banked, in the subconscious,

and can only be ‘set free’ by the Id at which point

they emerge to form a natural component of the Identity.

*

The Subconscious Mind could even be regarded,

for most people, as an Unseen Presence.

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‘Kalyb promised that if only George stayed with her

she would equip him as a knight

and make him the leader of those in the castle.’

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‘George tricked his knightly accoutrements from Kalyb,

tricked her into her own rock-hewn dungeon,

and freed the knights to go dragon slaying’…

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Which pretty much means that George,

the Patron Saint of England, is a Trickster!

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‘Hearing of a foul beast terrorising the country of Egypt,

George set his will, and charger, in that direction’…

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Egypt, presumably, because ‘she’ is

the Old World exemplar for Christianity.

 

Seven Champions?…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

*

The story of St George which we have been following is by

all accounts strange.

*

It was committed to writing in the late sixteenth century

and was penned by Richard Johnson,

a fabulist possibly most famous for writing the ‘Fairy Stories’

Tom Thumb and Dick Whittington’s Cat.

*

In it St George takes his place amongst six other

‘Champions of Christendom’, to wit,

St Denis, St James, St Anthony, St Andrew,

St Patrick and St David,

who are the patron saints of France, Spain, Italy,

Scotland, Ireland and Wales respectivley.

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Johnson’s ‘history’ makes knights errant of the christian saints

and given that it was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I

clearly seeks to set the new Anglicanism on equal footing with Catholicism.

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St George seems also to be cast in a distinctly ‘Arthurian Light’.

*

But leaving the politics to one side this ‘famous history’

of St George is also pertinent for

more salient psychological reasons….

 

Whispering Woods…

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Nuremberg_chronicles_f_124v_2.jpg

*

… Back in Coventry, Sir Albert’s Lady,

overcome with extreme pain, was forced to choose between

the spoil of her infant, or an end to her life.

*

Placing the preservation of her child,

and benefit of her country over her own safety,

she committed her womb to be opened,

that her infant might be taken from her alive.

*

This most noble Lady was cast into a dead sleep,

her womb cut up with sharp knives,

and the infant taken from the bed of its creation.

*

Upon his breast nature had drawn the form of a dragon,

on his right hand a blood-red cross,

and on his left leg a golden garter.

He was assigned three wet nurses, who named him George.

*

Shortly after his nativity, the fell enchantress Kalyb,

by charms and witchcrafts, stole the infant,

George, from his careless nurses.

*

On Sir Albert’s return in good hope

to hear of the succesful delivery of his Lady,

and the comfort of a child,

 his wished for joy was turned to sorrow.

He found his Lady dead from her dismembered womb,

and his young son abducted.

*

 Such a woeful state banished his wits:

“O Heavens!  Why cover you not the earth with everlasting night?

Why do these accursed eyes behold the sun?

O that the waves of Oceanus might end my days,

or like an outcast, give me joy in exile,

where I may warble my sorrows to the whispering woods.

*

What monster has stolen my child?

O that the wind would be a messenger and bring me happy news of his abode.

If he be drenched in the deepest sea, I will dive to fetch him up.

If he be hidden in the caverns of the earth, I will dig to find him.

*

Why do I thunder forth my loss in vain,

when neither earth nor sea, nor any thing under the sun

will grant me comfort but the recovery of my child.”

*

Leaving his native country, Sir Albert, wandered from place to place,

in search of his son until the hairs of his head were grown white as silver,

and the beard on his chin like the thistle-down…

*

  He ended his days in Bohemia,

where, from age, and excessive grief, he laid himself down

under a ruined monastery wall and died.