Sunday, 24 July 2011
Leo, the Lion of Goonzion
Leo (The Lion)
Many sightings of the Beast of Bodmin Moor say that it is lion-like, this could be a thought form emanation from the Leo Zodiac outline, which in turn may indicate the boundaries of a Mesolithic (and later Celtic) tribal area.
Leo’s body lies over Goonzion Downs, he is the Lion of Goonzion. Leo also stands on the village of Ley, it could be said that he is a “Ley lion”. Another place name that makes up his outline is Luna. Luna is the Latin name of the Earth's Moon as well as the Roman moon goddess Luna. Leo also stands over the 1412 Pant(h)ers Bridge.
The 'Roaring Shaft' in the complex of mines on Goonzion Down has been said to make a roar like 'a battery of stamps falling regularly with thuds and reverberated through the ground'. These noises may have been natural in origin, but they served to feed the dark images of monstrous beasts and spirits in the minds of those who worked to mine copper, silver and gold.
The sun is in this sign from 24th July to 23rd August. A fire sign.
Key words: kingship, fatherhood, jewels, gold, regal, warmth, fire, sunshine, drama, happiness, command, courage, size, creation, breadth.
Light or planet: the sun.
Body parts: heart, back.
In common with our predecessors Katherine Maltwood (Glastonbury Zodiac), Mary Caine (Glastonbury & Kingston Zodiacs) and Sheila Jeffries (Lizard Zodiac), we begin our exploration with the sign of Leo. The constellation of Leo has been known for more than 5000 years. It was identified in Mesopotamia, when the sun stood in Leo at the time of the summer solstice, its symbol expressing the power of the sun god. Leo is one of the few constellations whose shape clearly corresponds with its name. Alpha Leonis is known as Regula, of 1.4 Magnitude, one of the stars of the Spring Triangle. It is about twice as big as the sun, with 120 times the sun’s luminosity. It is a blue-white star of spectral class B7 with surface temperature of 14,000 K and lies about 78 lights years away from us. Gamma Leonis known as Algieba is one of the most beautiful binary stars. Its components of 2.4 and 3.6 Magnitude are both golden yellow and orbit each other about every 600 years. Their distance is 126 years away from us. R Leonis, a red giant is among the long-period variable stars of the Mira Ceti type. It changes its brightness between 4.4 and 11.3 Magnitude in a course of 310 days. Leo contains many bright galaxies.
According to Greek mythology the first labour of the solar hero Hercules was to kill the Nemian Lion. His enemy, Hera, queen of the heavens, sent it from the moon. A lion is the symbol of St Mark. According to the Bestiary, lions sleep with their eyes open. Lions when hunted would cover their tracks to avoid pursuit. Lions are born dead. Human beings do not enrage a lion so long as they do not harm him. A lion is afraid of a white cock. A lion spares prisoners and those lying on the ground and will eat an ape when ill. Leo is a Lion of Goonzion, whose body lies over Goonzion Downs. Ras Elased Borealis and Ras Elased Australis lie in the parish of Warleggan. The star Zosma lies near the holy well in St Neot.
On 21st July 2006, at 14.36 travelling from Fletchers Bridge towards the sign of Leo, we glimpse a fairy in the bushes on the right hand side of the lane. We stop to investigate further. The fairy wears a lace tutu and pearly earrings and is approximately two feet tall. She has red lips and blue almond shaped eyes. She is smiling and has her arms raised in what would be a ten-past-nine position on a clock face. Her left leg is outstretched and her right leg is bent so that the left foot touches the back of the knee of the right leg. The fairy appears to be made from scrap materials such as old nylon tights and pieces of fabric cut from old curtain material. She is filled like a soft toy and suspended from the bushes by further scraps of material hidden behind her. We continue in a winding, roughly southeast direction, passing Tredale Farm, Pinsla Garden and Nursery, through Pinsla Downs past Gwel An-Nans Farm. At 14.43 we see a wooden signpost, mounted with wrought iron supports on a stone base. The top wooden part of the sign points in four directions, CARDINHAM, WARLEGGAN, and BODMIN are visible, the words on the fourth arm of this sign are slightly obscured but we can make out …DENWELL & CABILLA MANOR. The woodwork of the sign post is painted white, the lettering in black. Rather than having pointed ends, the ends of the signposts are cut with rounded ends, forming semicircular domes rather than points. There is fifth lower post, also cut in this manner, which is set into the wrought iron below the main cross section of the sign post. This post reads: MOUNT and the word is followed by a small painted arrow. We continue down the road through the small village of Mount. In a gap between two dry stone walls at the right hand side of the road, nine stone steps lead up to a small iron gate. Two signs are fixed to the gate. One reads:
in red lettering. The other larger sign reads
SOUTH WEST WATER
WASTE WATER TREATMENT WORKS
NO UNAUTHORISED ENTRY
A circular filter bed lies in the enclosed space behind the gate. We pass Bofindle Farm on our left and then South Bofindle Farm on our right. We pause at Panters Bridge. On a stone to the right of the bridge there is a green metal sign with a white rounded edge. Some of the white lettering on this sign is missing. It reads:
ANTE S BRIDGE
RI ER BEDALDER
IR A 1415
Grass, stinging nettles and other foliage surround the sign. A rectangular Highways Department sign is fixed to a stone beside the bridge. The sign is painted in white and grey sections. The section with the white background takes up the top one third of the sign and the section with the grey background takes up the bottom two thirds of the sign. In the top section written in black letters are the words WEAK BRIDGE, in the bottom section a smaller white area is enclosed by a red circle. Within the circle are the black letters
We continue onwards to the village of St Neot. Two old millstones lean against the wall of a building in the street, they are of equal size. There is a quantity of lichen on the millstone on the left. The bottom edges of these stones are flat, so they rest neatly upon the tarmac without rolling away. To the right of the millstones is a white plastic drain spout, draining rainwater from the roof of the property into a gutter beside the millstones. Behind a public bench constructed from concrete sides and wooden seat supports we see a group of three sculpted figures. There are two pieces mounted upon a stone wall and both approximately two feet in height. They are made from scrap materials in a similar style to the fairy we saw near Fletchers Bridge. These figures sit on the wall and are clothed in coloured fabric. They both have heads made from papier-mâché onto which stylised details have been a painted using a palette of primary colours, with shades of brown to represent skin tone. The left sitting figure wears a blue knitted hat striped in shades of blue and purple. Yellow cord-like fabric extrudes from this hat to suggest two pigtails. The left pigtail stands straight upright, while the right pigtail forms a semicircle. This pigtail is attached to the branch of a bush growing above it. The figure wears a pink jumper with a light blue and green patchwork design sewn to its front. It wears white trousers; a green and black scarf is knotted around its neck. Straw extrudes from the wrists and ankles of this figure. The straw is tied at the wrists with orange baler twine. The wide blue eyes of this figure stare straight ahead. The seated figure on the right has been fitted with a wig made from black wool. Its head faces over its left shoulder and its eyes are closed. It wears a dark woollen hat. Navy blue material covers its arms and legs, with two white stripes on each of its arms. Brown fabric covers the body of this figure. A necktie decorated with parallel red, white and black diagonal stripes is tied around its neck. It wears candy-striped leggings, from the ankles of which pieces of straw extrude. Straw also extrudes from the wrists of this figure. Between the legs of this figure, there is a yellow object of a similar size and shape to a lemon. It stands on one of its narrow ends. There is a face painted on this lemon-shaped object. A third figure stands to the left of the two seated figures, by the side of a stone water culvert. This figure is wearing a hooded cape made of brown fabric, over dark coloured undergarments. It has a leather belt buckled around its waist. It is wearing the black headphones of a walkman or personal hi-fi around its neck. Straw, tied with orange baler twine, also extrudes from this figure’s wrists and ankles. This figure has a papier-mâché head and its eyebrows are raised as it looks up at us. Its right arm is holding a freshly cut green stick, which has some leaf buds attached. A fishing line is fastened to the end of the stick and hangs down into the culvert. Three plastic fishes are attached to this line; they have red heads and white bodies. Ferns and mosses grow in the culvert. At 15.12 we notice an arrangement of stones set into the wall on the opposite side of the road. A large, irregular shaped stone is set in a niche formed into the wall, enclosed within an arch consisting of three dressed stones. Above it is a small rectangular carved stone. There are three notches or grooves cut into the rear of the irregular stone.
A sign written in Gothic script marks ST NEOT VILLAGE STORE AND POST OFFICE. There is a red post box marked GR set into the storefront. The window contains a display of craft pottery and sunflowers. The shop front is painted white with a black edge skirting at ground level. A hanging basket with red poppies and other blue flowers hangs beside a red Post Office sign. There is a house nearby with a slate nameplate reading SERENA HOUSE. Across the road many colourful floral baskets hang from the front of the London Inn. The London Inn is the only public house that lies within the sign of Leo, on its front doorway is a brass lion’s head cast in brass. Outside at the front of the inn is low walled enclosure fitted with a wooden bench and two bench seats. The enclosure is paved with irregular shaped pieces of slate. There is a blue ashtray in the centre of the bench. Beside the Inn there is a churchyard which we now enter. A stone carving of a crucifixion stands on a lichen-covered stone memorial. Two rusted iron balls rest on the base of this construction, each ball has a one-inch diameter hole drilled into its centre. A slate set into the side of the church has a skull carved at the top of it. Carved into the slate is a Latin text:
Nemo praecellit nili que sequendus,
Serior patres ego sum secutas
Me secuturus meditetur unus
Inside the church porch there is a notice board, fixed to this is a plastic-laminated sign headed GRYLLS SUNDIAL. There is a diagram of the sundial and more explanatory text. Pinned to the church door is a smaller sign, also laminated in plastic, it reads:
WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE
VICAR MUST BE OBTAINED BEFORE
ANY REPRODUCTION OR
PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS
We wonder what this ecclesiastical authority wants to hide as we enter the church. We become aware of a plenitude of leonine imagery within. In a stained glass window, a saint holds a small winged and haloed lion. In another window a round-eared lion is shown on the deck of Noah’s Ark. In two other stained glass panels showing the life of St Neot, a golden lion’s face features on the side of fountains, spewing forth milky water. In another stained glass, Jesus and his disciples sit around a round table, of the sort more often favoured by King Arthur. At 15.36 we notice a sundial attached to the outside of the church. It is dated 1682. According to this sundial the time is now 2pm.