Manifesto of the BLACK THORN LEAGUE
1. According to orally-transmitted teachings of Noble Drew Ali, founder & Prophet of the Moorish Science Temple of America: — Ireland was once part of the Moorish Empire; that is, the celts were Moslems, & there were black moors from N. Africa also present in Ireland. But the moors were expelled by militant Christianity — this event is disguised in the legend of St. Patrick’s expelling the snakes – for which reason the MST celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, in a mood of irony perhaps, in expectation of an eventual Return.
2. In Noble Drew Ali’s system, celts are considered an “Asiatic race”, & thus potential converts to Moorish Science. We consider NDA’s theories to be racial but not racist, because (again according to oral tradition) they were based (at least in part) on spiritual affinity. “Europeans” who wished to Join the MST (including some of the later founders of the Moorish Orthodox Church) were declared to be really celts or “Persians” — (which may have something to do with the oft-remarked similarity of Eiran and Iran).
3. NDA’s hidden history of Ireland may be taken as an esoteric metaphor -but it is supported in some surprising ways by archaeology & even “official” history. In the first place, the celts are an Asiatic race, or at least the most recent arrivals in the west from the mysterious “Hyperborean” heartland of the Aryans — last of those nomadic migrations which settled India, Persia & Greece.
4. Second: What is one to make of those early Celtic crosses inscribed with the bismillah (“In the Name of God”, opening words of the Koran) in kufic Arabic, found in Ireland? The Celtic Church, before its destruction by the Roman hierarchy, maintained a close connection with the desert hermit-monks of Egypt. Is it possible this connection persisted past the 7th/8th centuries, & that the role of the monks was taken up by Moslems? by Sufis? in contact with a still-surviving underground Celtic Church, now become completely heretical, & willing to syncretize Islamic esotericism with its own Nature-oriented & poetic Faith?
5. Such a syncresis was certainly performed centuries later by the Templars & the Assassins (Nizari Ismailis). When the Temple was suppressed by Rome & its leaders burned at the stake, Ireland provided refuge for many incognito Templars. According to The Temple & The Lodge, these Templars later reorganized as a rogue Irish branch of Freemasonry, which (in the early 18th century) would resist amalgamation with the London Grand Lodge. The Islamic connection with masonry is quite clear, both in the Templar & the Rosicrucian traditions, but Irish masonry may have inherited an even earlier Islamic link — memorialized in those enigmatic crosses!
6. It’s interesting to note that Noble Drew Ali’s Masonic initiations may not have been limited to Prince Hall or black Shriner transmissions, but may also have included some hidden lines connected to Irish masonry, & dating back to Revolutionary days in American history. It is known that many common soldiers in the British Colonial Army were masons affiliated with the Irish rather than the London Grand Lodge. This “class” difference -was reflected in the American Revolutionary Army, whose officers were “official” masons but whose private ranks tended to be “Irish”.
7. Historians sometimes forget that in the 18th century, in America, the Irish were generally considered “no better than Negroes”. In 1741 on St. Patrick’s Day in New York a riot broke out, involving a conspiracy which included Irish, African, & Native American men & women — naturally “of the meanest sort.” Some Irish conspirators were overheard to swear they’d kill as many “white people” as possible. The uprising failed & the plotters were executed. As the bodies of two hanged in the open air decayed in an Iron gibbet, “observers noticed a gruesome, yet instructive, transformation. The corpse of an Irishman turned black & his hair curly while the corpse of Caesar the African, bleached white. It was accounted a ‘wondrous phenomenon'” (Linebaugh & Rediker, “The Many-Headed Hydra”).
8. Clearly the Celt & African were linked not only in the gaze of the oppressor class, but also in their own world-view — as comrades, as somehow the same — in a solidarity which extended to Indians & to other “Europeans” who fell beneath the level of the “respectable poor” into the category of slaves & outcasts. Racist feelings did not divide the 18th century poor & marginalized — as would become the case under later Capitalism. Rather the marginalized of all races constituted an underclass & moreover, an underclass with some awareness of itself, hence with a certain power (the power of the “strong victim”). This consciousness might well have been developed in part by Irish-black “masonry” of some sort. And Noble Drew Ali might have known of this tradition, which he masked (or perhaps unveiled) in his parable of the snakes – & celebration of March 17th.
9. In another interpretation of St. Patrick’s anti-reptilism, the “snakes” he banished were in fact “druids”, i.e. Celtic pagans. The snake may have been an emblem of the Old Faith, as it is for many forms of paganism, including African (Damballah) & Indian (the Nagas) — & even for the Ophite Christianity of Egypt (Christ himself depicted as a crucified snake).
10. Celtic pagan lore was embedded in the Romance traditions especially in the Arthurian material — & here once again. we find ourselves in the world of the Arabo-Celtic crosses. For the romances are permeated with “Islamic” consciousness. In Malory’s Morte dArthur & Eschenbach’s Parzifal many Saracen (i.e. Moslem/Moorish) knights are depicted not as enemies but allies of the Celts — & in the latter book the entire story is attributed to Moorish sources (which are now lost). Saracens, Christians, & crypto-pagans are united in a mystical cult of chivalry which transcends outward religious forms, & is emblematized not only in pagan symbols like the Grail & the Questing Beast, but even in such cultural borrowings as the lute (al-‘ud in Arabic), or indeed the cult of romantic/chivalric love, transmitted from Islam to the west by Sufis in Spain.
11. Ireland’s contacts with Spain certainly extend back into the Islamic period, & the so-called “Black Irish” may have as many Moorish as castillian genes. Medieval Irish monks probably absorbed Sufism & Islamic philosophy along with the art of the illuminated manuscript — witness the extraordinary stylistic resonance between the Book of Eells & the Kufic Korans of Omayyad Spain. If St. Francis could visit N. Africa & come back to Italy wearing a Sufi’s patched cloak, so the Irish might easily borrow from Egypt & al-Andalus.
12. All speculation aside, the Moorish Orthodox Church entertains its own esoteric interpretation of NDA’s teachings on these matters. We heartily endorse his “elective affinity” theory of affiliation with a greater spiritual Celto-Asiatic “race”. DNA counts for something, but soul for a great deal more. “Every man & woman their own vine & fig tree” (one of NDA’s slogans) is not a matter of fate but of character, not of birth but of choice.
13. In our historical/imaginative exegesis & unfolding of NDA’s parable, we have uncovered a complex of heretical Islamic & Moorish cultural strands linking Celtic neo-paganism, esoteric Christianity, & the Arthurian cycle, thru Sufism & masonry, to the perennial libertarian struggle of the marginalized & oppressed peoples of the “Atlantic” world.
14. We propose to embody this poetic complex in a popular chivalric order, devoted symbolically to the cause of “bringing the snakes back to Ireland” – that is, of uniting all these mystical strands into one patterned weave, which will restore the power of its synergistic or syncretistic power to the hearts of those who respond to the particular “taste” of its mix. We have borrowed this slogan from contemporary neo-pagans in order to symbolize the special mission our order will undertake toward Celtic-Moorish friendship. The BLACK THORN LEAGUE will be open to all, regardless of whether they are MOC members or not, providing only that they support this particular goal.
15. “Black” in our title signifies not only the black banners of the moors but also the black flag of anarchy. “Blackthorn”, because the tree symbolizes druid Irelands & is used to make cudgels. “League”, in honor of the various Irish rebel groups which have organized as such. Other organizational models include such Masonic revolutionary groups as the Carbonari, or Proudhon’s anarchist “Holy Vehm”, or Bakunin’s Revolutionary Brotherhood. We also emulate certain anarcho-Taoist Chinese tongs (such as the Chaos Society)~~ & hope to evolve the kind of informal mutual aid webworks they developed.
16. The League will bestow the Order of the Black Thorn as title &amp;amp; honor, & will hold an annual conclave & banquet on St. Patrick’s Day in memory both of Noble Drew Ali’s vision, & of those rioters of 1741 who conspired in low taverns to overthrow the State. Bring The Snakes Back To Ireland!
Source: Abdul-Halim V.
Moorish Tag Day Update
The Manifesto of the Black Thorn League is essentially a meditation on Noble Drew Ali’s mysterious teachings about Ireland as “once a part of the Moorish Empire”; St. Patrick’s banishing of the snakes as a mask for the expulsion of the Irish Moors; and the Celts as an “Asiatic race”. Since writing that text we have discovered a vast amount of material relating to this legend, although we still do not know how it reached Noble Drew — revelation? Perhaps — but we now believe even more strongly that the legend itself is far older than Drew Ali’s recension, and we suspect he heard it from authentic “folk” sources. Mixed African/Irish communities are far more common in the “New” World than we knew or expected — to give 2 examples : the Black Irish of Jamaica ( descended from Cromwell’s Irish serfs who intermarried with slave and maroon groups in Barbados and Jamaica ); and Seneca Village, a settlement of squatters — Irish, Black and Native American — who in 1853 were forcibly driven out of the area of Manhattan now occupied by Central Park. The story of the 1741 St. Patrick’s Day Riot in New York may have survived in some community as a legend of African-Irish connections. But the story goes back, back, back, — unbelievably far back.
Our first breakthrough — the first indication of a whole school of history devoted to the Irish/Moorish question — came with the purchase of a book in Dublin, by an Irish journalist named Bob Quinn ( Atlantaean: Ireland’s North African & Maritime Heritage, Quartet books, London/NY, 1986 ). We hope to meet Quinn this year during our next visit to Ireland. His book is not scholarly, but it is wonderfully enthusiastic. Nearly every chapter throws light on what I’ve now come to think of as the Quest. Impossible to give a full precis.
Leaving aside all the material Quinn has collected on, say, Egyptian influence on the early Celtic Church — or Hispano-Moorish-Irish maritime connections — or the Barbary Pirates ( Quinn missed the fact that Irish pirates converted to Islam and took part in the Sallee Republic, a Moroccan corsair utopia )– in other words, leaving aside the historical era, we get to the gist of Quinn’s hypothesis: the “Irish” and the “moors” are the same people ( he never says it outright but it’s clearly what he’s thinking ). But who are they?
Quinn’s first clue is music — the eerie similarity between Moroccan Berber music and Irish *seannos or chant-style singing. We explore this on our radio show, the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade, using folk music collected by Sean O’Riada ( the late great Irish composer ) and comparing it with Gnaoua, Jajuka, High Atlas Berber and other Moroccan forms. The similarities are indeed stunning. But even more astonishing (how did Quinn miss this? ): Ireland and Morocco have the only pentatonic scales west of China and Java!!
Quinn’s second clue is language. A number of linguists and philologists, ranging from Morris Jones at the turn of the century to Heinrich Wagner ( in The Celtic Consciousness, NY 1981 ) have attempted to isolate the pre-celtic substructure in Irish. Too complicated to explain here. The result? Connections between Irish, Berber, and ancient Egyptian! ( pardon the exclamation paints — just can’t help it! ) This school of thought is poo-pooed by the Academic Boss Class — but it refuses to go away. It’s not mere crankism, either ( not that we have anything against cranks ) — but as far as I can judge, it is daring, but thoroughly “scientific”.
The third clue is — Megaliths. Now so far in life I’ve resisted “Megalthomania” ( as John Michell calls it ) but here I’m afraid I’ve succumbed. I’ve read about 20 books on the subject so far, and am developing my own…crackpot theory. Quinn suggests ( as does the turn of the century scholar, T. W. Rolleston, in Celtic Myths and Legends, 1917 ) that the pre-Celtic population of Ireland and the rest of the Insular or thalassic-Atlantic world, the people who built the megaliths, were not wiped-out but absorbed by the late-coming Celts, who preserve significant “megalithic” strains of folklore as well as music and language; that these people are even more clearly represented in the modern world by Berbers ( who have not been absorbed by the Arabs ). Quinn and Rolleston go so far as to imagine that megalithism arose first in Morocco and that the proto-Berbers ( as in Iberian and Hibernian, the Classical names for pre-Aryan aborigines of Spain and Ireland ) were in fact the “Megalithic Missionaries” envisioned by certain archaeologists.
Quinn complains with complete justice that academic Megalithiologists never discuss North Africa, even though it’s apparently crawling with menhirs — and I immediately noticed the Eurocentric bias to most of their work. The politics of all this are complex. People used to believe that the megaliths were Celtic ( “druidic” ) in origin, and that they were pale, the distant echoes of Crete, Greece, Egypt, the great Near Eastern Neolithic civilizations. Gordon Childe, for instance, believed that the “Megalithic Missionaries” were Greeks or Egyptians. Very recently, however, carbon dating has exploded the “Near Eastern diffusion” theory. The earliest megaliths are older than the pyramids — as old as Jerico and Catal Huyuk.
Carbon dating suggests, in fact, that Meagalithism arose in Spain or Brittany around 5000 BCE, and spread from there to Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltics, and to Sardinia, N. Africa, S. Italy, Malta and Egypt! ( Almost no carbon dating has been done in North Africa so Quinn’s suspicions about Moroccan origins may still prove correct. ) But in light of carbon dating the academics have renounced ALL forms of Diffusionism. To listen to them now you’d think prehistoric humans were too dumb to travel at all. Everything is now explained according to the theory of Parallel Development — i.e., everyone invented megaliths separately and on their own, because they’d reached the “right stage of development”.
Lord, what horseshit! OBVIOUSLY people traveled — by sea, as Quinn points out — as far back into the Paleolithic. The Neolithic Atlantaean or Atlantic peoples were OBVIOUSLY very cosmopolitan ( linked by ceremonial “gift” routes along which they traded exquisite ceremonial stone axes — and Megalithic “doctrines” too, no doubt ).
Without going into arguments, I will assert here that Megalithism was a religion based on the calendar ( the *first ideology ) and on agriculture. It bears great similarities to the super-ancient agricultural religion of the Near East ( explored by T. Gaster in his magnificent Thespis ), but with several major differences. For one thing, the megaliths themselves were not temples ( Near Eastern style ) but observatories, calendars. ritual dance/theater sites, fairs for gift exchange, and colleges for higher learning, all in one. ( Classical authors called the megalith builders Hyperboreans, and their shamans, the Boreates — note the B’R root. Again! ) For another thing, the megalithic people were less hierchically structured than the Near Easterners. They retained a tribal or “segmentery” social structure based on the categories of sept, chief and shaman, rather than city, king and priest. This can be shown both archeologically and by examination of 20th century megalithic cultures in, say, Sumatra or Madagascar….
I could go on ( and I will ) — but here I’ll skip to the subject of folklore. The so-called “Celtic” calendar of Ireland is very likely megalithic in origin ( see K. Danaher in The Celtic Consciousnes ) The megaliths are obviously pre-Celtic in origin, so that all “Celtic” folklore about them must be sifted out; what’s left might contain hints about megalithic culture. I need access to certain key early texts ( long out of print or horribly expensive ), such as the Book of Invasions, to carry out this task. So far, I believe I’ve located a complex of pre-Celtic themes in the myth of the Fomorians, the one-legged, one-eyed giants who were already in Ireland when the Celts ( the Tuatha de Danaan ) first arrived — although in some versions the Fomorians came from the sea. ( Note: Amur, an ancient name for Morocco or Mauritania; Amorica, ancient name for brittany, and Fomorians. ) Even the late “druidic” legends of the megaliths are worth studying; yet more promising, however, are the non-learned, non-aristocratic traditions embedded in, say, the Fenian Cycle and the legendary history of Munster ( see Rees & Rees, Celtic Heritage, London, 1961 ); and Breton peasant lore and fairy tales ( see J. P. Mohen, The World of Megaliths, NY 1989 ).
Recently I borrowed and read the entire 1,238 pages of Westermarck’s great Ritual and Belief in Morocco ( Quinn also missed this ). To my amazement I discovered that in the 1920’s the Berbers were still building stone circles and erecting menhirs! Westermarck devotes hundreds of pages to Moroccan stone cults, holy wells and mountains, snake cults, and other pre-Islamic survivals. The Berbers perform ( on Midsummers Eve! ) a burlesque version of the ancient Neolithic Calendrical drama, described by Gaster, and also found in Britain as the “Mummer plays and Morris ( i.e. Moorish ) Dances”.
In short, I believe that a fairly complete reconstruction of megalithic culture is possible, based on a revised Diffusionism and comparative folklore, which will amply support Quinn’s hypothesis of a pre-historic link between Morocco and Ireland. Once this link has been thoroughly researched, I believe that one of Noble Drew Ali’s craziest ideas will turn out to be sheer fact, expressed in religious metaphors. We still need to do a tremendous amount of work — on snakes ( and Dragons ) for example — on Irish and Moroccan prehistorical archaeology — on music ( I’m no ethnomusicologist ) — even on the Barbary Pirates. I’m writing this to solicit help. The story of Moorish Tag Day is expanding into an epic. I’m foundering in a dozen swamps of bibliography. A project like this should be multidisciplinary. The Black Thorn League needs active researchers!
In closing: — Our Moorish Deacon of Paris, Wm. Strangmeyer, brought to my attention the fact that a “Count of the Black Thorn” plays a minor role in one of the Arthurian romances, Hartmann Von Aue’s Iwein ( NY/London, 1984 ), a book I haven’t seen yet. On this basis, however, we should claim an ancient and honorable lineage for the Black Thorn League. History, after all, is a game. The point is to be nights — not pawns.
” I lay you under prohibitions, and restrictions, and death, and destruction, to go and bring me the King of Morocco’s bay filly that outruns the wind and leaps over the wall of castle-bawns.”
— From “The Greek Princes and the Young Gardener”, in Patrick Kennedy, Irish Fireside Folktales, collected in the 1860’s in Co. Wexford
Source: Hakim Bey
Ancient Irish mythology refers to the original inhabitants of the island as being a giant, sea-faring people called the Fomorians (Fomors), which means “dark of the sea”. They are said to be of Hamitic stock. These demons, as they are portrayed as, defeated the first few incoming waves of invaders, but could not defeat the Firbolgs, who settled the land and lived side-by-side with the native Fomors.
Two more invasions, the first led by the godly Tuatha de Danaan, and the second by the Celtic Milesians, took control of Ireland, mixing together with the Fomorians until they were no more. Today, it is regarded that these myths may, to some extent, be explaining actual history.
My theory is that the Fomorians were a real people, and that they were sailers from Africa, probably Negroid. I have three suspicions as to who they were exactly.
The most likely of these is that they were Phoenicians. The Phoenicians were Canaanites, which came from the line of Ham. They were also well-known for their sailing skills, and are said to have traveled to the British Isles, which they called the “Tin Islands”. Perhaps, before Ireland was a Celtic domain, which it wasn’t until a few centuries BCE, the Phoenicians colonized it. The names of these two people even sound similar.
Another idea is that they were Taureg Berbers. The Berber language is Hamitic, and the Berber people live in an area from which travel to Ireland would be easily accessible. The Berbers perhaps set sail from western Morocco, and settled on Ireland before the Celts, making it their new home.
Another Irish legend, similar to that of the Fomorians, tells of Selkies, a sort-of “wereseal” that is a seal during day, but a human by nightfall. Sometimes, in an Irish family of fair-skinned, light-haired people, a child is born with dark hair eyes, and skin, and is called a Selkie.
I believe that those of present-day Irish descent, including myself, an Irish-American, have black roots, and that these features can still be seen in the people and in the culture. In Southern Ireland, some people, refered to as “Black Irish”, are noted for their strikingly dark features, as opposed to the fair-skinned, light-haired north.
Although I have pale skin that does not tan well under the sun, I do have negroid facail features, as well as dark brown eyes, and dark brown hair that is sort-of kinky, especailly in moist conditions.
There is also a subrace in Ireland called the Brünn, said to be of the original Irish stock, which have Meditteranean features, especailly their hair.
In addition to all of this, Celtic music is distictly different from the rest of Europe, and comparable to that of African music. There is a legend that an Egyptian princess, Scota, left Egypt with some followers and journeyed to Ireland, as well. Moorish Science Temple founder Drew Ali teaches that Ireland was once part of a Moorish empire, and that the Irish are a Moorish people. Perhaps there is a common root between the “moor” sound in Fomor and the word Moor?
Because of all of this, I am convinced that there is at least some black admixture in the Irish population. What do you think?