Friday, February 15, 2013

Siftings: NUNNEHI.

Hello folks. Now that Ivan Sanderson's book and notebook and journal collection is in fairly good order, [read: on shelves and pretty accessible], the long task of sifting through the "unorganized boxes of paper" is beginning in earnest. The above pictures show some "once-through" sorted materials at the top, and a partially mined "chaos box" at the bottom. Going through these things is an adventure, but since such a high percentage of it is VERY low-grade ore, it helps to have someone to sit across the table with and share the job. Other than that, believe it or not, I find the task pretty tedious.

But, it has its rewarding moments.

In that box above, completely separate from any similar content, Ivan had a very poor-quality copy of several pages of James Mooney's MYTHS of the CHEROKEE from the Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report for 1897-8. He had cut up these pages and pasted them onto a few sheets of paper with no attribution whatever --- there could have been other pages somewhere else or lost, but this was just an enigma. I don't know why I even bothered to squint away at the crumby document, but I'm glad that I did. [As you can tell from my lead-in, the title page above, nor the picture pages below, were with the cut up "article"; I found them later when I got interested enough to do the detective work on what this was].

What it was was the field information gathered about a type of paranormal being [society of beings] who resemble old Celtic ideas of the Siddhe --- not the little people of Faerie, but the full-sized entities more like the Tuatha DeDanaan. I was surprised by both the tale told and the fact that Sanderson was even interested, as he shows little interest in such things elsewhere in the collection. Ivan didn't really like the paranormal that much. Maybe he thought that this tale hinted of something more like a "lost tribe".

Well, I am very interested even if Ivan was only luke warm. The introduction to the story that I'm going to tell shortly spoke of this "race" of "magical"/ paranormal beings called the Nunne'hi. They were described as full-sized persons, looking just like the local Native Americans, and mainly friendly and occasionally helpful. As they were described I got more interested. They liked singing and dancing in the forests. Some were said to reside under ancient mounds --- WHOA! just a minute, I thought, what's going on here? The Cherokee and the Celts aren't supposed to have made up the same myths!

Then I read the story which had been collected. There it was: the characteristic of a tale about an actual Encounter, rather than a dramatized folkwisdom tale for around-the-campfire.

The story takes place in a forested mountain setting which would be just fine for ancient Ireland or Wales or Scotland. This tale differed from the others in that Mooney's informant [colleague?] got it first hand from the person to whom it had happened. Not only did Wafford [Mooney's confidant] hear this from the experiencer, but had heard it previously from several second hand sources [which is why he looked the fellow up for an interview]. All of Wafford's sources said that this man was "a truthful, hard-headed man". Here is what he was told:

When he was 10-12 years old he was practicing with bow-and-arrow near the river and got tired of it. He sat on the riverbank building a fish trap, and was piling up some stones to wall in the fish. A normal looking stranger came up to him, remarked that this looked like hard work, and he should take a break. The boy was quite willing to do that, but didn't know if the next offer [to come up the river and have dinner at the stranger's house] was the right thing to do. But customs were different in those days, and the boy went along.

The house was fine and the people very friendly. He had a nice meal, and while doing so, a friend of his family arrived at the stranger's house, and that made him feel at home. He played with the family's children, went to sleep, woke in the morning, had breakfast, and began to get started for home. He and the original gentleman began walking down a path between a cornfield on one side and a peach orchard on the other. Soon the trail connected with another one, and the man said: go by this trail to the ridge ahead and you'll come to the river road. That will take you straight home. And he turned and went back to his house and farm.

And this is the punchline....

The boy walked just a little way towards the river, and, in curiosity, turned and looked back. There was no peach orchard nor cornfield. There was no house nor trail. There was only the mountainside and the trees.

The Irish know all about what happened there. Whether it's called "The Lost Sod" or the "World Alongside", the boy had passed into the parallel world of the Nunne'hi and, just there, passed back out again.

He continued uneventfully back home, where he was greeted by many who had been looking for him. In explanation, he told his story. He saw the family friend who had visited that house also that evening. But the friend said: no, I have been with everyone else looking for you. His family told him that no house was there and that the family friend was an impersonation by the Nunne'hi. They told him that there have sometimes been the sounds of drumming coming from that mountainside, but he had visited no men, but the Nunne'hi.

The more that I find of this stuff [and it has been a walloping great mound of it], the less possible I believe that one can sustain that nothing paranormal is going on in these incidents. How is the "coincidence" of these characteristics across the ocean possible, if not because they both arise from a real underlying shared cause? The Cherokee even have their second and separate group of knee-high little people to go along with the 5+ footers. I will probably go to my grave "All-The-Way-Fool" in my belief in this all-too-infrequently-manifested reality. "They" are one of the few things that I've not experienced and would like to do so.  Just for fun.

Of course, if The Trickster is the same sort of entity operating covertly, then maybe I have already had the pleasure. Still, wouldn't mind seeing a little circle of forest-path dancers one day.

Till next time... Peace and hope you had some love on Valentine's Day.


  1. Very enjoyable reading. These encounter stories make me wonder about multiple realities stacked together like Russian dolls. In that sense, it's as if the veracity of the stories are secondary to the way they can stimulate our imaginations and add depth to our common cultures.

    I'm also reminded of tales whereby a holiday couple find themselves staying at a beautiful guest house that is no longer there when they go back. These 'Magoniaesque' encounter tales seem to have been with us a long, long time.

    In recent years (1957), three English Naval cadets reported a similar experience and I tend to accept what they claimed. They were orienteering and somehow wandered into an abandoned village that, by all appearances, was like something from the late Dark Ages. Much like those 'sea was like a mirror' moments you wrote about last year, these lads were disconcerted by the complete silence in this odd place. Oz Factor?

    Mike Dash wrote an interesting article about the encounter although I'm less confident about his conclusions.

  2. Thanks for the reference. It was enjoyable reading as well. The author says that these "reality slips" [whatever they are] are rare --- well, maybe, depending upon how many there have to be to get beyond "rare", but my poor surveying of the world of anomalies hints to me that there are actually a good number of them --- sure, not as many as UFOs, Fairies, PSI, et al, but enough to take seriously. I note that a lady in the commentaries offered her own incident.

  3. Fantastic. Look forward to taking a look at that extract from Mooney. I think I was telling you about the parallels I was finding between the black dog stories of the British Isles, and the similar "cadejo" stories I found in Guatemala -- black dogs with sometimes flaming red eyes, regarded as a protector in Guatemala, but also, at times, as something a bit darker or frightening, like one of the Pooka stories in McManus's book. One of my projects in Spain will be to see if there is a tradition of "el cadejo" in Spain as a whole, or in the Galacia region -- the Celtic-influenced area in the northwest of Spain. I'm curious if there's a Celtic link. But the cross-cultural details and similarities are intriguing. I'll have to remind you of the "enchantment" stories I heard in Guatemala, as well.
    I know a local woman at the university who has a black dog encounter of her own in Ireland about 25 or 20 years ago....

  4. And the connection to the mounds and fairy forts is fascinating. You know, of course, of the rich history of mounds in our area of Michigan. Most of them fell to the plow and building boom -- often just a sort of wanton destruction, as well -- but there's the one that still stands in Bronson Park.
    I was fascinated by the famous Cairn at Knocknarea, near Sligo, that I climbed while I was in Ireland. One story is that it is the grave of Queen Maeve, who was one of the Siddhe, I believe.

    1. Will, if you don't stop insisting on being interested in these things, you're going to go down in history as one of the last "un-modern" whackos.

      Maybe, if the world's lucky, readers of things similar to this blog will still be around, and you won't be alone.

  5. See this site for interesting recent story. Hmm.

    1. The story is interesting given the Cherokee context of the environment. The website is far too accepting of boggling claims for my tastes.



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