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" Seek the truth and run from

those who claim to have found it "

after André Gide

Medieval Mysteries

June 13th, 2014


OBOD member Karen Ralls is a historian and musician who has recently written a book entitled Medieval Mysteries: A Guide to History, Lore, Places and Symbolism. Here is some information about the book, followed by Karen’s own words about its contents. A great book for anyone interested in this fascinating period:

Cross the threshold and journey into the world of the High Middle Ages (1100-1300), to further explore twelve of the most-frequently-requested medieval topics today. From Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose to the delights of Monty Python, the medieval period – pagan, Christian, and otherwise – continues to intrigue, inspire and fascinate many today. But what were some of the unexpected developments, interesting people, and key events of this epic time?  For general readers and specialists alike, medieval historian, former Rosslyn Chapel museum exhibition Curator and author Karen Ralls presents the key historical facts and associated places, symbolism, and folklore for each of the twelve medieval topics, providing a much-requested ‘medieval anthology’ — a lively introductory portal for all readers, in one place, which includes the major historical facts as well as some of the lesser-known aspects about each of the topics.  The story of each subject comes alive as never before, providing a solid, engaging overview about each subject, as well as numerous full colour photographs throughout, a Recommended Reading List (from both academic and selected general sources), four appendices, Historic Sites to Visit,  Notes, and a full Bibliography. Topics covered include:

  • The Knights Templar
  • The Grail and the Grail quest
  • Mary Magdalene: medieval places, traditions and shrines
  • Black Madonnas: from springs, grotto and grove to Chartres…
  • The courage of the Cathars
  • Medieval Guilds;  The Green Man
  • The Troubadours
  • Heresy, Heretics, and heresy trials
  • Rosslyn Chapel
  • King Arthur,  Glastonbury, Merlin

Further explore the history and wonders of the High Middle Ages —  a time of potent symbolism, unexpected developments on many fronts, and much spiritual questing. 

‘Medieval Mysteries: History, Places, and Symbolism – is a history book covering twelve of the more-frequently-requested medieval period subjects. Although being ‘medieval period/High Middle Ages’ (1100-1300) in focus, I do discuss throughout (wherever I possibly could!), the history of the pagan-related aspects of a number of medieval period subjects, i.e, the Green Man, the earlier roots of the Black Madonnas, from springs, grottoes and groves, to Chartres, medieval heresies, the Grail Quest. I also enjoyed finding an early ‘Our Lady of the Oak Tree’ in France.’ – Karen Ralls


  • Karen’s website and details of her other books can be found here.


A Huge Thank You!

June 13th, 2014

A huge ‘Thank You!’ to everyone who helped to make last weekend in Glastonbury (all four days of it!) such an outstanding success. Everyone was amazing, and if you were there, what you experienced was an example of an incredible amount of team-work – from the teams who organised tickets, security, the music, the buffet, the fringe events, the rituals, and so on. And some individual heroism too – from Hawkie who made litres of Nuinn’s Dragonsbreath Mead for 400 thirsty druids, for example!

Still reeling from it and off to Germany soon, so no time for more comment, but you can read blog accounts from others here:
OBOD 50th Anniversary Gathering : 6-9 June 2014

And Damh will be putting up recordings over the coming months and Kevin Redpath is making a film of it, though that will take a while to be edited.

A related post here:

And news that 500 trees will be planted to celebrate the anniversary here (for only £5 you can make that 501!)

And some photos here – many more on OBOD’s Facebook page here:


OBOD’s Golden Anniversary Celebrations, Glastonbury Tor, 7 June 2014



OBOD’s Golden Anniversary Celebrations, Arthur ZZ Billington on guitar & Weil Influence on fiddle, play at the Eisteddfod in the Abbey Grounds, 7 June 2014


OBOD's Golden Anniversary Celebrations - An exhibition of work by Jamie Reid, Will Worthington, Sharon Zak and Polly Morris at the Glastonbury Galleries

OBOD’s Golden Anniversary Celebrations – An exhibition of work by Jamie Reid, Will Worthington, Sharon Zak and Polly Morris at the Glastonbury Galleries