At about this time on the 13 May 1991, I was sitting in front of my father’s 8088 computer using WordStar to type out a letter. Although this makes me sound rather old, the technology was well outdated even then and a few months later we were to make the leap to a 386sx (and, much to my anguish, a few months after that the 486 would become widely available).
Anyway this post is about the letter I was writing not the technology I was using to write it (although thanks to technology the original electronic version of the letter survives having moved from 5.25″ floppy disk to 3.5″ disk and from Ireland to Australia and back).
It was a very strange letter. I was pretending to be a friend of mine (Peter) and was writing to one of the lower profile monks in the boarding school that we had both attended (Glenstal Abbey). We been out of school for three years at this point which means that I must have been about to sit my final college exams (so the fact that instead I’m writing weird letters to barely known monks is entirely in character). In the letter I am describing a ficticious argument between Pseudo-Peter and another friend, Pseudo-Gus, concerning the existence of ley lines. Pseudo-Peter, the “author” of the letter, is the believer while Pseudo-Gus is the sceptic. Pseudo-Peter appeals to Fr Bonaventure to supply him with various pieces of ley line related information that would convince Pseudo-Gus that there is something to them after all.
Fr Bonaventure was a most unlikely recipient of such unsolicited mail. He had never taught us in school and I can’t ever remember talking to the man. He had a reputation as a prodigious smoker which was graphically emphasised by the nicotine stains in the front of his (otherwise) white floppy hair. When I later had occasion to help move his belongings out of a seminary room in Maynooth College, I wondered that the university had painted the room such an odd shade of yellow. It was when I removed a painting and saw that the wall underneath was brilliant white that I suddenly realised the entire room was coated in nicotine. That story I can personally vouch for being absolutely true. Another story, more apocryphal but which I also believe, is that he once tried giving up cigarettes but within five hours he had gone blind and was in such a state of agitation that the doctor summoned by his anxious brethern advised him that his body was so dependent on nicotine that it was more dangerous to quit cigarrettes than to continue smoking.
Unfortunately, I can no longer remember why Fr Bonaventure was singled out as a recipient of this lunacy. I suspect it may have been simply a throwaway comment such as “Bonaventure’s your man for ley lines” that set me on my deranged course. Equally sadly, I can no longer remember whether I actually posted it or not although I suspect that I did because a second letter written two days later to another monk (and even more bizarre than the first) definitely was sent. Had I not sworn off drugs following a psychic attack in Toronto the previous year, I would definitely be holding myself up as an example of their debilitating effects. As it was, I was entirely clean though evidently unhinged. I can only suspect that, coward that I am, I genuinely did want the ley line information but wasn’t brave enough to ask for it outright. For fear of actually being sincere, I further wrapped it in a smart-arse format so that if I was ever asked about it I could laugh the whole thing off as a clever send-up of the unsuspecting monk.
Now we jump to 24 March 2005. I’m having a chat with my mother about a slew of articles that I need to get written for my Psychic Questing website. Andrew Collins is strongly of the opinion that I need to show the historical precendents for Questing and I agree so am looking to rope someone into doing a Joan of Arc article for me. Mother throws St Brigid into the conversation and I make the connection from Brigid to Bega, who features in a Psychic Questing book by Alex Langstone (see details here ). Further, both appear to have links to the goddess Diana and when Mum tells me that Sinéad O’Connor is heavily into Brigid and spends some time at Glenstal it is clearly only a short jump in logic to think that she, Sinéad, could write an article for me elucidating the Diana/Brigid/Bega trinity.
Fast forward to 26 April 2005. I am attending a trade show in London’s Olympia. My commute from Haslemere is not without it’s own aspects of the irrational (I can get from Haslemere to Clapham Junction directly very early in the morning but not thereafter – and I can’t return directly from Clapham Junction to Haslemere at all) so I have plenty of time to read the new Grail book by Richard Barber. I subsequently write a review of it for psychicQuesting.com (see the full review here if you’re interested) in which I agree that the Eucharist is the key theme of the original Grail romances but question whether there may be a Celtic influence at work as well. I write:
I agree with Barber that the particular incarnation of the Grail appearing in the Grail romances relates directly to the Eucharist. There is a 15th Century manuscript of the “Lebar Brecc” which appears to be a compilation of much earlier material (possibly some are a translation from 10th Century Latin sources) and this contains descriptions of the Eucharist ritual in use by the Church at this time so again it would be interesting to see whether there were any parallels between the Celtic source and these stories.
On 7 May 2005 I receive an email listing recently published books by old boys or monks of Glenstal Abbey. On the list is a book called “The Rites of Brigid: Goddess and Saint”. The author is listed as “Seán ~ Duinn” [sic]. A little niggle at the back of my mind makes me return to this again and again until I suddenly realise that Seán Ó Duinn might be Fr Bonaventure’s lay name. I go to the Glenstal website to see if I can get any information on the monks and I see that the same Seán Ó Duinn (who is indeed Fr Bonaventure) has, within the very same week (April 23 2005), given a talk entitled Glimpses of the Eucharist in “The Quest for the Holy Grail”.
Perhaps the letter was sent and perhaps, Bonaventure latching into my thoughts like a psychic vampire, this is karmic payback.