Stephen Hawking – New Adventures

Hawking Family


Stephen Hawking, Jane Wilde Hawking and family attend the British Academy Film Awards at The Royal Opera House on Feb. 8, 2015 in London. 

Stephen Hawking was absolutely the LAST person I expected to show up in my living room following his death today, March 13, 2018 at age 76 from complications of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). While it is not uncommon for the dead to show up to chat with me shortly after I learn of their passing, most of the time it is people I knew personally or at least am connected in some way to the friends and family of the recently deceased. That is why it always blows me away when dead celebrities show up. Not every late celebrity contacts me and of those that do, only a few give their permission to publicly talk about it. Hawking gave his permission, so here goes.

Not quite believing what I was seeing when Hawking showed up in his famed wheelchair complete with synthesized computer voice, I told him flatly, “I don’t believe you are here. I don’t agree with your science.” His response via “The Computer” was “That is irrelevant.”

Fine, I asked him what he was about since he had long and publicly made it clear he had no believe in any kind of afterlife and called such beliefs “a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” He replied, “I did not expect this.” No I imagine he didn’t.

Since the dead never show up without some reason I asked if there was anyone he wanted to pass a message on to. He replied, “Tell Jane she was right.” Jane Hawking was his first wife. They divorced in 1990 but regained a relationship on good terms after he divorced his second wife a little over a decade ago.

I had the impression Hawking expected his ex to find that comment both laughter and tear inducing.

When I asked if he had anything else to say, he simply turned his wheelchair around and rolled away beyond where I could see. I repeated the question to his retreating back and only got a curt “no” before he faded from sight.

I think Hawking probably showed up in a form I would recognize him in. In my experience the dead can show up in any form they please, but normally choose one that will be most easily understood by those they visit.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. On the off-chance Jane Hawking ever sees this post, message delivered.  I wish Stephen Hawking all the best on his new adventures, wherever they may lead.


Lynne Sutherland Olson


(c) 2018. Lynne Sutherland Olson.

All rights reserved.

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Barnstone Farm Sacred Classroom – Orkney Island

I never quite know what will trigger an event of remote viewing. When reading for clients I will intentionally try to access locations or moments of interest to them. Other times, like this morning something in my day triggers a flow of information I had not given a single prior thought to. Today that trigger was a FaceBook post by cosmologist Laird Scranton who posted this:

“Based on my comparative studies, the Neolithic Barnstone site on Orkney gives the impression of a place of instruction. Attached is a comparison to Vulture Peak, a Buddhist recreation of a mythical site where stua Buddha was said to first pass instructed knowledge to humanity.

This is the same tradition that we trace to Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, a place that could be quite properly associated with the name Vulture Peak.”

Barnstorm Farm Orkney Island

One of the Neolithic sites among about a dozen at the Barnstone Farm site on Orkney Island. Quite possibly an instruction location based both on Laird Scranton’s comparative cosmology work and the visions the photo prompted for me.

Vulture Peak, Turkey

Vulture Peak, a small mountain just outside the city of the ancient city of Rajgir, India closely associated with the teachings of the Buddha.

While staring rather blankly at the Barnstone Farm photo in Laird’s post I started to see the same white robed figures I saw repeatedly while visiting Orkney Island in person September 2017. In all cases I have associated the men wearing white woolen robes with teachers or priests of some sort that instructed the local population on Neolithic Orkney.  I saw them at Maeshowe Carin, the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

This time I saw five of the white robed instructors standing in an approximate half circle around the hearth of the inner square space. All of them were facing me as if I were standing at the entrance of the site where slabs of stone break the rounded earthen berm that encircles it. They were erecting multiple energetic shields including the earthen berm and the inner sanctuary  square classroom.

Since the students were not present I asked to be shown how they would fit into the scenario. I watched adult students process into the site via the same stone break in the dirt berm single file. Unlike their instructors they were dressed in everyday clothing, all of it dark in color. Basic pants or trousers topped by tunics and covered with rough full body length coats or cloaks with arms. These coats were visibly lined with raw wool, so likely inverted sheep skins.

I saw the students take a right inside the berm and then organize themselves into a double file line that then processed into the sanctuary classroom. Problem was I couldn’t see clearly from Laird’s photo if there was indeed an entrance there. Fortunately a quick Google search confirmed it was exactly where I saw it in my vision.

barnstone-settlement inner entrance

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor. Traveler photo submitted by Åsa A (Aug 2016) Formal entrance to the classroom space students entered via a double line. 

The students processed into the classroom via a double line and proceeded to stand, also in double rows along the interior perimeter of the square classroom. The center was left clear for the instructors and the fire. I saw both students and instructors standing the entire time teaching was going on.  I saw two or three dozen students along with the five instructors. I was further given the information that the teaching day was broken up into two three hour segments with a break for meals between them. I don’t know where everyone went to eat but it was not inside the classroom space. These classes took place over a period of several weeks on an annual basis. I had the sense classes occurred in winter time. This would be logical as spring and summer would have required area residents to be tending to sheep, crops and fishing without time for formal instruction six hours a day.

After the students departed for the day, leaving the site completely the instructors remained and slept next to the fire in the central hearth. (Between the fire and packed body heat over many hours it was probably comfortably warm.) The next morning they woke, got up and directly left the classroom space. I didn’t see any bedrolls, personal grooming or eating taking place inside the classroom. Whatever the instructors did to start their day it didn’t happen in that sanctuary. This reinforced the impression I had of a sacred space, reserved for a specific teaching purpose and not to be used for everyday tasks.  Interestingly the Barnstone location has a number of Neolithic family homes just a few steps away from the classroom site. These homes are laid out the same way as the residences at Skara Brae.

Of course the thousand dollar question is what was being taught in that sanctuary classroom? I don’t have the faintest idea, only that it was important, valued and protected knowledge that wasn’t available to just anyone and required discipline to acquire through formal instruction. No group would go to the trouble of erecting and dismantling energy wards around a large physical site on a daily basis if it was common knowledge. Regardless of what what was being taught I felt privileged to be allowed to see an early sacred school that took place at least 1,200 years before Christ.


Lynne Sutherland Olson



(c) 2018 Lynne Sutherland Olson

All rights reserved.

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Wellington Train Wreck 1910

Wellington Wreckage Slate

Rusting Wreckage of the March 1, 1910 Wellington Train Disaster

Image courtesy of Slate Magazine

On March 1, 1910 a ten foot wall of snow swept two snow bound trains off the tracks into the Tye River Valley killing 96 people. It was the most deadly train accident in both US and Washington State history. To this day you can see broken glass and twisted metal in the valley below the tracks. The ghosts of the dead from the train, the town and the Native population also remain.

A couple years ago two friends and I hiked the easy trail between the two Cascade Tunnel’s at Steven’s Pass. The first tunnel was completed in 1900, ironically to mitigate the problems caused by heavy winter snowfalls for the trains of the Great Northern Railway. The first tunnel is a short walk from today’s parking lot, not far from the overgrown remnants of the former railroad town of Wellington.

“Sam”, “Al” and myself first visited the original 1900 tunnel on an October day that had to have been the last warm and sunny day of the season. The first ghost to greet me at the mouth of the tunnel was a former Great Northern Railway design engineer. He was formally dressed in a morning coat, trousers, black shoes, cravat and top hat. He walked with an expensive black stick with a silver topped handle. He told me he was still at the site because of the terrible decision he made in looking the other way when the railway was in the planning stages for the the tunnel. He told me he knew the avalanche danger had not been mitigated but bowed to pressure from his bosses and created plans he falsely claimed would be acceptable for safe use. The engineer never gave me his name but I doubt it was world renowned engineer John Frank Stevens as the ghost I saw had a graying beard and the vast majority of public access images of Stevens show him as consistently clean shaven until his advanced elder years.

It took me a few minutes to realize the ghost of the engineer was holding back two other spirits who wanted to come forward. I had to be quite firm with him and insist with appropriate angelic backup that he step back and let the two other spirits come forward to have their say.  Those two spirits were of a well dressed 1910 era woman and her early grade school daughter. The woman’s auburn hair was done in the Edwardian Gibson Girl style of the era and like many redheads she rocked a hunter green dress and matching hat with feathers. I would have put her in her early 30’s.

Gibson Girls Library of Congress.jpg

Gibson Girl sketch, Dana Gibson

Image courtesy of The Library of Congress

The woman’s daughter had blond, shoulder length hair and was wearing a short sleeved, knee length dress made of silk.

Mother and daughter were both timid and afraid of the hostile engineer. They told me they had been casualties on the trains swept away by the 1910 avalanche. Furthermore the ghost of the engineer didn’t want them talking to me because they had been the family of one of the Great Northern Railroad officers at the time of the tragedy. The mother had been at a wee hour social gathering (read cocktail party) when the avalanche hit, at the opposite end of the passenger train where her daughter was bunked down for the night. Having been separated a train length apart at the time of their deaths they were determined to stay together after the fact. They didn’t want to move on so I thanked them for talking to me and left them to the afterlife they had chosen, but not before having a dutch uncle talk with the ghost of the bully engineer.

Wellington Madam

Before heading up to the second 1929 tunnel that was built to replace the 1900 one, my friends and I got as close to the town of Wellington as possible. That wasn’t particularly close as the long abandoned town has a great deal of heavy brush, trees and no well defined paths to it. The town had been badly damaged by the same avalanche that swept both the mail and passenger trains off their tracks in early March 1910.  I sent out a general greeting and invite to any ghosts of former townspeople who lived in Wellington in 1910. The strongest response I got was from a local prostitute. I think she was the madam of a local brothel at the time. I didn’t realize her role in the town at first because I originally saw her during an average day in work clothing. She wore a plain skirt and shirtwaist with the sleeves rolled up past her elbows. Her brown hair was in a low messy bun on the back of her head and she had a recently emptied porcelain chamber pot tucked under her left arm. Whips of hair straggled around her tired face innocent of her customary cosmetics. She remained angry about how she felt the railroad authorities had abandoned the townspeople following the avalanche. She said the surviving townsfolk had to fend for themselves regardless of what or who they lost in the tragedy.

At that point the scene shifted to her in full regalia during evening working hours. If I hadn’t already been introduced to her energy signature I would have been hard pressed to recognize her as the same woman. She wore her hair in one of the softer, half up, half down Gibson Girl styles with sleek thick ringlets that rested on her neck and chest. Blush and lip color had been applied. She showed me her pride and joy, a set of French silk lingerie in red and black. This was a complete ensemble from the teddy to the garter belted silk stockings, high black heels and matching hat. The base color was bright red, (similar to popular nail polish colors today) with black lace trim. The hat was red with black goose or swan feathers parallel to the oversize brim. She was incredibly proud of the fact  it had been ordered directly from Paris.

The three of us then headed up the trail to the 1929 tunnel. The walk was easy, today’s trail being the former railroad grade. Part of it was covered with then state of the art re-bar reinforced concrete, ironically built to shield snow bound trains from avalanches. The problem was the 1910 trains were sitting outside of that specifically constructed snow shelter. I saw images of couples promenading on Sunday summer strolls just outside the snow shelter. Today it is overgrown with spindly trees and brush, but back then it was the place to see and be seen with your sweetheart or to give married couples the equal to a “date night” break from the daily grind of life in a railroad town. Based on their outfits they were likely from the late 1890’s rather than 1910 on.

Modern Day Interlopers Not Welcome

Once past the crumbling snow shelter things got tricky for a completely different reason. Al is a gifted psychic in his own right. He has deep empathy for those lost in 1910. Like most Americans today he boasts a mixed heritage, including Southwestern Native American Indian bloodlines. This was a problem with the long dead Pacific Northwest tribe the Great Northern Railroad literally ran roughshod over in the late 1800’s. Al’s tribe was considered one of their enemies and they were none too pleased to have him walking through their lands. He warned me about this dynamic he had experienced during a prior trip. I wasn’t sure I would have as much trouble as he did being a mixed bag of European and Mediterranean bloodlines, in other words just another alien white person rather than an established long term enemy.

I was wrong and surprised at how heavy the energy got as we made our way three miles up the grade. Surprise turned to unease when I looked up from the narrow rail bed and saw hundreds of Native braves lining the high ground above us, sharpened spears at the ready if they felt we were too much of a threat. Neither their expressions nor their sharply filed pointed teeth were remotely reassuring. Those were not smiles, they were baring fangs in the most direct warning possible. I assured them we were just passing through to the upper tunnel and asked they not attack. They didn’t but nor were they about to let their guard down. Al saw them too and our group picked up the pace.

It would be easy enough to shrug off long dead warriors by asking well, what could they do to you and your friends? Not like those spears were solid nor the warriors holding them incarnate. My response would be beings don’t need to be incarnate to do real damage to the living or the dead. I certainly had no desire to be attacked by them on their own ground. Being psychically or energetically overwhelmed in any way is often painful and frightening. It is not an experience any sane sensitive courts.

Déjà vu 1984

The energy on the trail eased up considerably the last few hundred yards to the upper tunnel. As soon as we got to the 1929 upper tunnel I realized I had been there before in high school. A mid-1980’s a field trip took a bunch of students up there. Before the 2008 collapse of the tunnel it was possible to walk straight through. During that field trip I got halfway through the tunnel and had an out of the blue, five alarm panic attack. I remember feeling distinctly uneasy as I watched my footing in the tunnel but I was not prepared for a complete crying melt down. The teachers and Vice Principal were smart enough to get me out of the tunnel ASAP and I calmed down. They attributed the panic attack to me getting overheated in a warm jacket over the course of the hike. At age 13 I simply had no idea why I reacted the way I did or how to explain my feelings to them. I was embarrassed to have caused a fuss. Pretty much identical to the feeling I had at my grandmothers funeral 17 years later when I accidentally stumbled on the boards covering the grave while placing a rose on her casket. I won’t forget the horrified collective intake of breath by my family behind me because one more wrong step and I would joined my grandfather in the grave below. Same level of deep mortification on that field trip. (Who said feelings were logical? Everything emotional is amplified at age 13.)

This time around I made absolutely certain I was grounded, cooled down and hydrated before approaching the upper tunnel. It is not advised people go into the tunnel since the 2008 partial collapse, but I scanned the integrity of the remaining structure and chose to risk it. Nothing fell on my head, but I still found it disconcerting to be standing a few yards into the mouth of the tunnel and hear the whistle of a long scrapped train heading toward me. I didn’t recall hearing that in 1984 but even as an established professional psychic I found it eerie. No panic attacks, I just walked out slowly as I felt the train gaining ground on me. That sensation ended when I got back outside.


Old Cascade Tunnel Upper

1929 Old Cascade Tunnel

Do You Want to Hurt Us?

Since the tunnel is completely blocked the only way past it is to walk on the substantial concrete sides that provide a surface about the width of a normal Pacific Northwest forest walking trail. One small hitch. It had no safety railing and if you went off the side you would tumble directly into the Tye River valley far, far below. I tried, but nope, that was not going to work for me. So I left Al and Sam to continue without me. Had some snacks from my backpack, hydrated more and was enjoying the stunning October leaves below when the spirit of a Native American boy, about age six walked out of the trees and come over to me. With the directness of most children that age, he asked me, “Do you want to hurt us?” I assured him I did not, not him, not his people. I asked the same question in return. He shook his head no, giggled and ran back down the path he appeared from.

This brief interaction go me to thinking about his elders reaction to our ascent to the tunnel. I knew Al wanted to take me to the former Native graveyard on the way back down the trail and decided to see if maybe I could make that a more comfortable experience for all concerned. I sent out a general telepathic announcement to the warriors in spirit I knew were not too far away. I promised I would respect them, their territory and their burial ground. I further showed them the respect I had shown my grandparents grave a few months earlier on the other side of the continent. I have them my word I would treat them and their dead with the same respect I had my own grandparents. Luckily, they believed me.

Native Burial Ground

A few minutes later Sam and Al showed back up and we headed down the trail again. The energy around us was so much lighter! We reached the unmarked burial ground and stood on the trail/grade above it for a few minutes. Normally I don’t do this because let’s face it human remains are not the most pleasant to view most of the time. However this time I did a remote view scan to make sure we were in the right place. We were. Originally I saw orderly graves. They didn’t have the kinds of markers Europeans would expect but the local oral tradition knew the identify, location and story of each person buried there over time. It was a horrible mess. Skeletal remains were not just scattered but utterly broken up, shattered by the railroad’s original grading process. It was impossible to make any visual deductions about which bones belonged to which body. As I pulled my awareness out of the ground, I noticed a young Native woman in spirit watching me closely. She was beautiful and clothed in a white leather dress/robe. She smiled at me and I asked if she was the guardian of the burial ground. She replied no, she was not a guardian, but these were her people and she would be there as long as they were. Al got the impression she was in her lifetime a medicine woman of some sort. She liked that term much better, so I used it thereafter in our conversation.

We had a good chat, she showed me what had happened when the railroad men came to survey and made a deal with her tribe. As usual in such cases they were lied to and cheated badly. The final insult though was desecrating the burial ground. That I could understand. I cannot imagine the insult I would feel if my Mom’s grave was disturbed for any reason, let alone for someone else’s road! (I get upset just watching Seattle dog owners use the cemetery my Mom sleeps in as a leash free dog run.)

Afterlife Consequences

The medicine woman’s enduring rage over these atrocities were as fresh as the day the events took place. She played the long game. She showed me a version of herself that met the railroad men when they eventually died and crossed over. Hollywood movie makers would be hard pressed to match the hellish vision she greeted them with. Her lovely hair was no longer soft and groomed, but pulled back so hard as to be nearly invisible. Her eyes had red circles around the orbital bone with black filling in the space inside the circle and over her eyelids. More red and black paint was slashed on her cheeks and face. She bared her teeth at them and I saw they were filed down to razor sharp points just as her warriors who watched us on the way in. Then she screamed. I only felt the most minor echoes of the railroad men’s terror. Once was plenty.  Nor do I want to see that visage or face that level of vengeful rage in this life or any other. (I am not remotely a shrinking violet when it comes to confrontation. Still I will take a pass on that one.)

Safe Passage

Once she went back to her original appearance I asked her for safe passage back down the trail. Not only did she grant it, she escorted us nearly back to the snow shed. The warriors who had been so tense and watchful before stood honor guard. Their spears were now at parade rest beside them. Their teeth were as pointed as ever, but we were greeted with genuine smiles. This time their children and women joined a few of them to watch us pass. In about half a dozen cases I saw young or half-grown boys at their fathers sides. I understood they were the next generation of warriors in training. One man in particular stood out. I think he must have been a commander of sorts. Probably in his mid-40’s he was at the height of his power with the solid confidence such knowledge grants. He was deeply proud of the teen son who stood beside him, ready to take action at his slightest motion.  I was under no illusions that her escort and the much friendlier honor guard were there to make sure we kept out word and left the area. That was fine with me because I knew myself and my friends were going to keep our word and they could read that intent in us.

I think the next time Sam, Al and myself head up to Wellington, we will have a considerably more positive experience hiking to the upper tunnel. I hope the medicine woman shows up as I would love to talk to her again.


Lynne Sutherland Olson


(c) 2018 Lynne Sutherland Olson

All rights reserved.











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Maeshowe Cairn, Today, Tomorrow and Yesteryear – Orkney Island

Maeshowe Carin Scottish Heritage Image

Image courtesy of Historic Scotland

The most notable aspect of the Maeshowe carin on Orkney Island was the Guardian spirit that showed up as soon as all but three members of my September 2017 tour group entered the cairn. Normally I am not claustrophobic but for some reason I wasn’t keen on following a large group stumbling bent in half in the dark narrow passageway. Two other group members, Seth and Isaac remained outside with me.

As I was facing the entrance of the mounded grassy cairn I saw a male figure in an old style kilt. For those who may not be familiar with the evolution of kilts in the Scottish isles a traditional early style was memorably once described to me as best put on by laying the yards of tartan fabric on the ground, joining it on the floor and rolling ones self up in it. These were not the tailored kilts we grew up seeing in movies or videos of the English Royal Family on vacation. The artists rendition below was closer to what I saw the Guardian wearing, minus the argyle socks.

Old Style Kilt I

The tartan pattern the Guardian wore wasn’t one I recognized.  This one had a muddy brown background with dim lines of color through it, mostly faded black and orange. It had also seen better days, being both ragged and dirty. The Guardian took no notice of this as he stood tall and straight holding a spear resting but ready in his right hand with the pole end resting on the turf beside him. It was hard to tell his age. In today’s terms I would say late 40’s to early 50’s because of the weathering of his face, but his shaggy brown hair and beard didn’t have a trace of gray in them.  He gave the impression of a man at the peak of his powers who knew it.


In doing a mental scan of the overgrown ditch that encircles Maeshowe today I noticed a number of crystal type stones had been buried at intervals under what had once been a wall around the site. Somehow in “seeing” the stones I knew they were not native to the area and had been brought in from some other location. The careful spacing of the stones under the circumference of the long gone wall was clearly intentional. I asked the Guardian about the crystals. He informed me they were meant for activation during ceremonial events. They had not been activated for likely hundreds of years prior to my visit in 2017 because there were no traces of residual energies in them. When I asked the Guardian when they would next be activated he sternly informed me not for another three millennia to come. (When I get an answer like that there is zero point in debating it.) So I asked how would the crystals be activated three centuries on? For starters who would be around who would know to do it?

The Guardian told me reactivation would occur between the combined efforts of two groups of people. The first group would be from the descendants of already old Orkney families who do and will carry certain DNA sequences into the future.  I was shown these future people assembling in a loose knit group in front of the entrance.  They were puzzled, not quite sure why any of them were present, but pulled or lead there by some sort of internal homing beacon nonetheless. I saw a number of conversations along the lines of individual members arriving, seeing other community members there and being surprised at their presence. Consequently a lot of, well, I just felt I had to be here, but why are you type conversations going on.

The other group that would know how to bring about activation of the crystals would be “teachers” from outside of Orkney that would return at the proper time. I was given a visual of these “teachers” as mature men in nubby white woolen robes walking in a single file clockwise line around the Maeshowe cairn as they approached the entrance from the right side of the mound. There was some sort of formal, ritual chant in progress but I couldn’t make out any words.

Maeshowe carin entrance

Entrance to Maeshowe Cairn. Facing the cairn the Guardian was standing to the right side, just outside the gate. (Fence and gate are to keep local sheep from wandering in.) Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson.

I think I was trying the patience of the Guardian as I asked the questions that lead to the future activation scenario I was shown. I was helped in this conversation by both Seth and Isaac who each have significant psychic sensitivities in their own rights. Seth is deeply involved in shamanism. Isaac is the son, assistant and general spear carrier of Laird Scranton the cosmologist and author whose work the tour I was on was centered.

As I was puzzling out how the two future groups would find each other both Isaac and Seth were adamantly saying, DNA, it is DNA! Turns out, according to the Guardian, they were right. These kinds of situations is where it is often helpful to have other psychics around that I can work with because most of the time different psychics get different pieces of any given puzzle. I got very lucky they both happened to be among those I can work with. (If you need to ask why, suffice to say egos grow big in the paranormal world.)

Interestingly Isaac could see the Guardian but the being refused to talk to him. Yet the Guardian had no problem talking to me. My best guess at the time was maybe it was due to gender. I have run across this in the past. Sometimes beings in spirit prefer to talk to one gender over the other. It is not unlikely that sometime in the future a different energy being may well talk Isaac’s ear off while I stand there wondering why they won’t say a word to me. I don’t have an answer for why this sort of thing happens, I just know it does. If I had to hazard a guess and it is only a guess this time, the Maeshowe Guardian may have seen Isaac’s protection of Laird and decided not to talk to Isaac for that reason. Although certainly no Scot, at 6’3″ Isaac does an effective job of giving off a, “No, really, you don’t want to mess with me” vibe. I felt strongly that the Guardian wouldn’t bother our group as long as we didn’t try to disrupt or disrespect Maeshowe in any way.

So after all this time, why is the Guardian still at Maeshowe? According to our Historic Scotland guide, Clare Burgher all the human remains were removed from Maeshowe long ago. I hate to contradict our stellar tour guide, but I was shown that was not the case. There are still human bodies deep below the currently understood bottom of Maeshowe and in a burial practice that was new to me, bits of crushed human bone still reside in walls of the cairn.

Having been given a glance of future activity at Maeshowe, I asked to be shown how it looked in the past, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,800 years ago when it was created. The scene changed significantly starting with the shape of the cairn. Unlike today where Maeshowe looks like an overgrown mound with a sod roof to the casual passerby, nearly three centuries ago it was built in the shape of a stepped pyramid.

Faroe stepped pyramid

A Stepped Pyramid in the Faroe Islands, Google sourced

This location being off the Scottish mainland not surprisingly even back then wispy bits of wild grasses had already taken root but the dark wet stone stepped sides of the Maeshowe cairn were clearly visible. I was told by the Guardian the stepped pyramid was eventually filled in and rounded out intentionally when “Outsiders who wouldn’t understand, ” started to come into the area.

The walls that once stood around the perimeter of the Maeshowe site also protected a deep stone lined “moat”. The light colored stone bricks were carefully fitted together to keep the deep moat water contained. They were clearly hand-hewn into rectangular bricks, perhaps two thirds larger than a standard building brick.  The water was so clear, I could see the tool marks on them.  This was no wading pool. I would estimate the depth of the stone lined moat to between six and eight feet. Among other potential functions, it was a living meat locker full of  silver-grey fish that looked to be about the size of today’s rainbow trout swimming about.

Most people have the good sense to treat burial grounds with respect, but if you do go to Orkney Island and visit Maeshowe, it wouldn’t hurt to remember the Guardian remains on duty.




(c) 2018 Lynne Sutherland Olson

All rights reserved.






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Kings Theater – Brooklyn, NY

Today (1/8/18) I stumbled on a video clip celebrating the splendor of this recently restored 1929 Baroque theater to its original glory in the house with a modern system to make full use of this architectural gem.

I was looking at a still shot of the massive screen and started to get information about the theater’s early days. What puzzled me is I saw a female and male performer on the stage in front of the screen. They were cast as a couple and felt quite prominent for their era. (They were not a couple in real life but had a convincing working rapport. ) She was dressed in a flowered late 20’s summer dress that had a lot of yellow in the pattern. He was in a striped three-piece dark charcoal gray suit. Banter ensued that was received with gales of laughter from the audience. In the 1920’s many early movie palaces and theaters started with silent films and quickly graduated to “talkies” films with dialogue, sound effects and music current movie goers take for granted.  So why I did I see live actors on stage?

Wikipedia to the rescue. Turns out that the September 7, 1929 opening night included the movie Evangeline, a live stage show and a personal appearance by the female movie lead Delores Del Rio.

Delores Del Rio Evangeline Poster

I think the woman I saw on stage was Dolores Del Rio  who showed up for every single showing of that movie at the theater.  Having grown up weaned on Longfellow’s Evangeline I found it interesting that it was the first movie shown at Kings and that the French role was played by the most beautiful Latina actress of her era. The flexibility of stage and screen in action. Anyone who has ever visited Grand Pre in Nova Scotia will know the power of the story around one of England’s best known attempts at genocide in order to take over the painstakingly reclaimed swamp that the French Acadian’s had turned into premium farm land.

I also picked up on the ghost of a young boy, maybe eight or nine years old. He seemed to be the theaters general dogsbody and gofer. It wasn’t a glamorous job. He looked rather thin and his clothing was ratty, but he was absolutely delighted to be there. He climbed the rigging above the stage as if born to it. Although it was against the rules, he routinely slept backstage after the evening performances were over in what looked to be a broom closet. He gave his name as Frankie. As far as he was concerned working at Kings was the adventure of a lifetime. So why was he still there? He told me he had his fair share of childhood diseases of the era, proudly showed me measles scars on his arms, but it seems to have been tuberculosis that got him around age 12. Like many ghosts I have met, he went back to and stayed where  he felt most at home during his life.

The shade of a 20-something stage hand briefly said hello. His case was straightforward, he fell from the catwalk above the stage to his death. A temporary laborer, he seemed to date from the first few years of the theater based on the cap and workman’s overalls he wore.

Loew’s Kings Theater quickly morphed from a combination live stage and Vaudeville house to a recognizable modern move house if one was accustomed to watching movies at Versailles which it was built to emulate.

Because Kings closed in 1977 and was left vacant for 38 years, not surprisingly the spirits of homeless people who took temporary and sometimes final refuge in the toilets and other backstage rooms still roam timidly around the fringes of the building today. At some point I hope to visit this remarkable theater in person.




(c) 2018 Lynne Sutherland Olson.

All Rights Reserved.




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Earl Hakon of Orkney

I wasn’t planning to spend my lunch hour chatting with a 12th Century murderous Earl of Orkney, but that is what I eneded up doing on a day that weather wise wouldn’t be out of place in Scotland combining heavy mist with pouring rain.

The Orkney Islands are a chain of about 70 islands off the coast of Scotland.  Hakon Paulson, future Earl of Orkney was first appointed regent by the King of Norway to rule for future co-ruler prince Sigurd. Sigurd in turn made Hakon earl in 1105. Things were looking up until his cousin Magnus also made claim to the earldom. As the throne of Norway was shared  in Sigurd’s generation by three half-brothers, joint rule was an accepted practice at the time. In fact Hakon and Magnus’s own fathers had been deposed as co-rulers of Orkney by the Norwegians. Thus Hakon was told by the Norwegian crown to share the earldom with his cousin Magnus.  That worked for awhile until Hakon and Magnus’s followers had a falling out around 1114. In order to avoid an all out war Hakon and Magnus agreed to meet on the Island of Egilsay with limited ships and men to sort out their differences. Each man was supposed to show up with two ships. Magnus played by the rules. Hakon showed up with eight ships.

Officially Magnus Erlendsson was known for his deep piety. He was one of histories earliest  recorded contentious objectors. During the Battle of Anglesey Sound off the coast of Wales in 1098 Magnus refused to fight and instead stayed in his ship singing psalms. While this would be a familiar form of non-violent resistance in our modern world, the Norse took a dim view of such behavior which they saw as cowardice.

As Hakon and Magnus met on Egilsay Island the advantage Hakon had of having three times as many ships and supporters than Magnus was made clear when the chieftains in attendance who were tired of joint rule demanded Magnus be executed. The first man Hakon ordered to do the deed refused, but the second one did not. Magnus was executed and buried on the spot. Eventually his body was relocated at his mothers request and by the late 12th Century took up it’s current residence in St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on Orkney Island, the largest of the chain.

The famous Orkneyinga Saga covers about three and a half centuries, but includes a dramatic scene in which Magnus prayed for and forgave his executioners prior to his death.

Hakon was required to make amends for the murder of his cousin. Pressure mounted as assorted miraculous occurrences started to happen around the burial  site such as when the rocky landscape around the grave turned into a green meadow. Hakon made a fashionable pilgrimage to Rome and then Jerusalem in a public show of penitence. After returning to to his now solo Earldom he built the only known example of a round Kirk church in Scotland. 

This is where Hakon’s account of events and the historic and religious records diverge. Hakon’s shade made it clear to me that he murdered his cousin Magnus to retain power as the sole Earl of Orkney. He was not sorry he murdered Magnus. His pilgrimage of repentance was done to keep his hold on power and out of a fear of hell in that order.

Hakon snorted at the idea that his cousins famous piety was anything more than a ploy for political power, no less ambitious than Hakon’s own goals. He commented that as a young man Magnus was anything but saintly in his pursuit of female companionship.

Hakon did offer a couple tidbits of information about Magnus’s death. Hakon claimed he had tried on more than one occasion to kill Magnus via the treachery of poison before their final fatal encounter. Hakon claimed the poison weakened Magnus but unfortunately didn’t kill him. This claim is rather ironic in light of the fact it was his own cook Lifolf  that Hakon ordered to kill Magnus on Egilsay Island. Perhaps Lifolf was also tired of failed murder attempts as he performed the execution. Poison or no poison an ax blow to the head got the job done.

According to Hakon the saintly scene of forgiveness prior to his cousin’s death did not prevent Magnus from screaming and bleeding like a stuck pig just as any other man killed in such a manner would react.

Going back to St. Nicholas (probably first named after Magnus), the round Kirk church Hakon built upon his return to Orkney, Hakon had a less than devout and a more practical attitude about it. Hakon noted to me that building the round church not only provided local jobs but as it was based on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem neatly harnessed the local religious enthusiasm around his martyred cousin to Hakon’s credit.

Hakon was surprised and disgusted by the fact killing his cousin Magnus didn’t give him the unfettered control of his Earldom he desired. Instead Hakon ran into the age old problem of combating the power of martyrs. So in a strategy as old as martyrdom itself he found a way to direct it to his advantage. Hakon said publicly he supported his poor cousins widely accepted sanctity but privately frequently and loudly expressed his view that such beliefs were so much bunk as he cited boyhood adventures involving mead, women and song.

I don’t know why Magnus didn’t show up to give his side of the story, but today it was Hakon’s tale to tell. A loud, larger than life figure prone to boasting and crude although probably fairly accurate observations of his life and times, Hakon would probably be the cousin most fun to have dinner with. (Once my taster had been employed of course.) Dining with Hakon sounds like it could have been as treacherous as accepting a Medici invitation a few centuries later.





(c) 2017 Lynne Sutherland Olson. All rights reserved.

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Skara Brae – Orkney Island


House #4  at Skara Brae looking at the bed (directly past the square hearth) the young couple shared. To the left of the enclosed bed space is the opening to the passageway between homes I saw the husband run into.

Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson

Murder is not what I expected to see when standing in front of one of the Neothic homes retrieved from the turf of the Skara Brae farming villiage on Orkney Island. Let alone a murder that took place roughly 3,200 years ago.

September 2017 I had the opprotunity to visit a number of Neolithic sites on Orkney Island, located off the coast of Scotland and in England on a tour based around the two decades of research done by Cosmologist Laird Scranton. My remote viewing skills kicked into overdrive the entire trip. Skara Brae was our first stop.

Standing in front of house #4 I saw two male inhabitants of Skara Brae fighting to the death on the impossibly green turf closest to the Bay of Skaill. One man was on top of the other and killed him with a sharpened rock dagger that repeatedly slashed at his opponents abdomen and lower ribs. There was a lot of blood involved before the victor killed his target.

The murder absolutely stunned the inhabitants of the tiny village. I could see some of the village watching the fatal attack take place, hear the calls of alarm and feel the shockwaves reverberate through the tight knit community.  I saw three village women huddled togehter crying and urgently discussing the murder. The argument, like so many through history seemed to have been in part about a woman. The victor didn’t have long to enjoy his accomplishment because he was excecuted the next day.

Execution took the form of three or four men, including the murderer going far out into the Bay of Skaill in a tiny, shell shaped boat without oars. The little skiff looked a great deal like half a walnut shell made with scraped hides stretched over a wooden frame with a pronounced midline seam in the basic hull. They went far enough out that the condemed man would not be able to swim back to shore on his own. He was summarily dumped into the water to drown. His executioners knew the tides well enough to allow their little boat to return them safely to the village, which 3,200 years ago was probably about a quarter to a half mile further inland than Skara Brae is today.


The Bay of Skaill as seen from Skara Brae September 2017.

Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson

While the murder was the most shocking thing I saw at Skara Brae I picked up on a lot more details of daily life, mostly around house #4, which is the largest recovered dwelling out of the six restored dwellings open to the public.

I found myself looking into the woman’s bed in the middle of an ancient Neolithic night. It was well into the early morning hours but still pitch black outside. (Scholarship suggests women slept in one bed on the right side of a common hearth and men in annother on the left side of the hearth in the one room house.)  She wasn’t alone. I saw a young couple talking softly and playing with their baby who looked to be between six and eight months old. The husband was holding up this child at arms length while both parents giggled and cooed to make the baby laugh. It was a warm and private moment.

Abruptly the scene shifted to broad daylight. The young wife and baby were not visible but I saw the same husband and father rising from the bed he had shared with them before and scuttling down a passageway from his home to other homes in the settlement. The passage was low and covered as he was running bent in half. His running crouch didn’t seem to impede the speed of his movements in the least and he was quickly out of sight. I didn’t see which house he was heading for. About an hour later our tour guide Clare Burgher with Scottish Tourist Guides confirmed that yes, there were passageways built between the homes of Skara Brae. (If you ever make it to Kirkwall on Orkney Island, ask for Clare, she was an amazing tour guide and exceptionally knowledgable.) The wind on Orkney is constant and exceptionally strong, so covered passageways between family homes would have been a necessity especially during storms.

I think the young family I saw in house #4 were the start of the next generation of leaders at Skara Brae. Not a lot is known about the social structure of the people there in the Neolithic era, but I got the impression he was the son of a chief, laird or leader of some description. It was a small village but leadership was key and in this case felt inherited. This helped explain why such a young couple starting out with their first child had the nicest house in the village. When I asked about how other families in the villiage handled new couples I was shown many of the one room homes occupants would dig alcoves into the walls to create semi-private space for newly formed married couples. Marriage may not have been as formal an arragmement then as it is now, but human biology being what it is, pairing off was inevitable as were children.

At that point I took a broader look at the land around Skara Brae and asked to be shown how it looked at the time of the murder and the young family I had just seen centuries before the mannor of Skaill House was built in any form. First thing I noticed was a permimeter fence, made in the same manner as the stacked stone walls you see all over Orkney and the Scottish mainland even today. The Neolithic inhabitants built and maintained the wall but interestingly did not staff it unless they saw strangers in the area whose intentions they didn’t yet know. When strangers showed up the perimeter wall was manned around the clock until the villiagers knew what they wanted and were about. There was a deep sense of wariness about unknown outsiders within the community.


Typical stacked stone wall at Skara Brae. These walls were all over Orkney Island defining modern fields and property lines. 

Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson

Within the perimeter wall I was shown grains and vegetables under cultivation. All gardens and grain fields were rectanguar in shape with defined borders. Smaller family garden plots were interspersed with larger community grain fields. I had the impression that each family maintained their respective gardens and all families maintained the grain fields.

Although I was not able to shed any light onto why Skara Brae was so abruptly abandoned, it was a fascinating look into it’s heyday.


Lynne Sutherland Olson



(c) 2017 Lynne Sutherland Olson

All rights reserved.





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