The Stonelight Team
Jack Roberts (left), Martin Brennan (centre) and Toby Hall (right). Photo by Anthony Murphy at the 'Boyne Valley Revision' conference at the Newgrange Lodge in December 2009.
core group of Stonelight from the mid seventies was
Hall and Jack Roberts.
The starting point of the work is the ongoing piecing together of the function
and purpose of the Irish Megalithic culture.
Many people have assisted over the years. Our initial feeling was that the
chambered cairns of Ireland, were much more than the 'tombs' they were and incredibly still are usually
Despite constant references to wider and more uplifting functions from Ancient
writings, through Borlase, AE,
John Michael and many others, there remains a strange resistance to a
multidisciplinary evaluation of their possible purpose.
In the early seventies Martin moved from Maya studies in Mexico to Japan, after
some years in Japan
where he had gained a black belt in Aikido, his teacher advised him to return to
Ireland the land of his ancestors and
to study the ancient megalithic culture. These researches led to his first book
The Boyne Valley Vision
, in which
he advanced the groundwork that the messages inscribed on the kerbstones of the
great Chambered Cairns, was astronomical in nature.
In this and his subsequent book
The Stones of Time
(Stars and the Stones, Art
and Astronomy in ancient Ireland) Martin further
advanced the astronomical achievements of the culture by revealing a series of
sun and shadow sequences in the cairns at key times. The most spectacular being
the sun crossing the glyphs on the backstone of Cairn T,
during the equinoxes.
Other aspects of the cairns and culture have intrigued Stonelight folk and
researchers from various disciplines, many adding to
our knowledge of their purpose / function and often also their enigma! Verily
they are the 'The Temples of the Ancestors',
and to deliberately denigrate them is both inauspicious and unwise. Stonelight
is dedicated to furtherance of our understanding of
this heritage in both the fields of science and spirituality.
The Stars and the Stones by Martin Brennan was published in 1983, it was later re-published as
The Stones of Time
- Calendars, Sundials and Stone Chambers of Ancient Ireland.
A study of solar and lunar alignments at a number
of Irish Megalithic sites, in depth investigations of the Equinox sunrise alignment at Loughcrew
Cairn T and the Winter Solstice sunrise alignment at Newgrange.
Purchase at Amazon.com
Martin Brennan - Obituary
Martin V. Brennan, author, artist, megalithic discoverer, pioneer by Toby R Hall - December 2023
Martin Vincent Brennan, 'Morsheen', was born of Irish parents from Roscommon and Galway
on 16th June 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. The family lived close to the library, Natural
Museum and Prospect Park. These three locations had an inspirational and creative impact
on his life. The boy brought home a book on Chinese writing and glyphs, an art he continued
throughout his life. He was a Daykeeper living and exploring time through the Azteca-Mayan
Cosmology for many decades in Mexico.
In the Natural Museum his young mind was fascinated with wooden Mayan Temple
reproductions and the Meso-American heritage. In Prospect Park, which was
shaped and modelled around the shape of the island of Ireland, the land
of his forbears, he embraced nature and his Irish roots.
After college, his formal art training was in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn,
in visual communications, where guest lecturer, author and mythologist Joseph Campbell,
presented the cross-cultural concept of the The Hero's Journey. During his time
in Pratt he deepened his fascination with the Meso-American culture. From Pratt
he moved into an advertising agency as a design and graphic artist. However, he
was not destined to spend his days working the city and 'mad men' advertising
industry - he was an explorer, a maverick. Growing up Brooklyn he had an exciting youth.
He was athletic and excellent runner and basketball player. In college he was
rarely beaten on the track. He put this down not just natural athleticism but
to his mental preparation, before the starting gun he envisioning himself as
a horse. He was natural Shaman who connected with both the natural and spiritual
worlds throughout his life.
He moved from New York to Mexico study Maya prehistoric rock inscriptions, art
and ritual. He lived with an Indian family deep in Jalisco mountains, where
he did extensive field work on local art and Shamanism. Whilst in Mexico, he
met author Alan Watts, who was interested to learn more of Martin's Mayan
research and arranged that he bring his findings along to show him and his
friends the Randolph's who had an interest in art and the Meso American culture.
The meetings lead to new phase of his journey, Japan. The Randolphs helped him
travel to and enrol in Shotokugi Zen Monastery, Japan's first/oldest Zen Monastery
dating from 1322, where he studied Oriental art and calligraphy at Shotokugi.
He also studied also Akido in which he acquired a Black Belt. He remained
active at Akido, basketball and swimming into his 70s.
By combining art and aikido he fundamentally embraced the ways of brush,
(and pen) and sword. He was happiest when he was drawing. He embodied the
way of artist, scholar, warrior and shaman. His Japanese Zen and Akido
training along with his Mexican fieldwork and study of Shamanism, art
and his visual communications experience made a good grounding for his
next area of focus, the Boyne Valley monuments and Irish Megalithic
culture - areas in which he was to make unique groundbreaking and valuable discoveries.
This move to Ireland came about through his esteemed Japanese, Celtic scholar,
teacher who suggested he travel to Ireland land of his parents and study
the ancient culture. In 1970 he left Japan for Ireland and the Boyne Valley.
He, settled in top floor flat in Fitzwilliam Street. He worked in
Graphic Design and Advertising, working at the Peter Owen's Agency.
He founded an official Akido Dojo in Trinity college. Several of his
Japanese teachers visited to celebrate the founding of the Akido project
and to initiate the work into Boyne Valley culture as a Cultural Spiritual undertaking.
Between the glyphs on the kerb stones, drawings and photographs, Martin soon
deduced that the enigmatic designs in part were depictions of astronomical symbols,
the sun and moon and cosmological cycles. The fruits of this research are to
found in his two Irish books, The Boyne Valley Vision
, Dolmen Press 1979 and
The Stars and the Stones
, Thames and Hudson 1982.
Republished by Inner Traditions USA in 1994 as, The Stones of Time
Martin handcrafted his books. He wrote them in his distinctive longhand and they
were adorned with his beautiful and distinctive drawings. He would start
a book by designing the cover, meet with the publisher and progress from there.
His enthusiastic and charismatic presentations of the research intrigued and
found favour with the eminent publishers, Dolmen Press and Thames and Hudson.
This latter was helped by front page news stories of groundbreaking discoveries
of the sun entering the recess's of the chamber cairns, Cairn T and Cairn L,
in the Loughcrew Hills on the vernal equinox
and cross quarter day respectively and his friendship author John Michell.
To catch the sun entering the chambers one had to be up early and drive to the
Boyne Valley or Loughcrew Hills and to climb the hill to be in place for the sun
or moon to shine in. The logistics of this led to the need for one or two cars
and small group of observers to be in the selected cairns. This loose collective
of megalithic enthusiasts went under the title Stonelight
The equinox sun beam was the bringing to life of the 5,000 year old glyphs as the sun beam moved across
the backstone in Cairn T.
The sunbeam penetrating the dark cairn/womb and
illuminating the symbols breathed life and light into the monument as it
revealed its astronomical function as a calendrical device of great antiquity
and sophistication. Martin hoped with the publication of The Stars and Stones,
the catch-all diminutive tomb theory/burial mound label would be laid to rest
and the abodes of the Daghda, Aengus and the pantheon of historic/mythic
residents of the wonderful cairn/residences/sacred mounds would be recognised
as sacred, scientific edifices - 'Temples of the Ancestors'.
Shortly after the publication of The Stars and Stones, Martin unexpectedly
needed to return to New York. Regrettably the revelations of "the golden
secrets of our past" as astromegailtic-cosmological temples was ignored
and even ridiculed. In part, it must be said because these discoveries
came from outside the doors of the establishment dogmatic tomb theory orthodoxy.
Martin moved from New York to Boulder, CO, where he taught and trained
a local basketball team based on Akido principles. Here he produced his
third book, The Hidden Maya (1998, Bear and Company) in which he decoded
the enigmatic hand sign language depicted in Aztec and Mayan codices, rock
carvings and pottery. His breakthrough for came from his realisation that
the sign language of plains Indian's had roots in the earlier Meno-American
hand sign language and was able reverse deduce these hand gestures.
He did extensive work in decoding the Codex Borgia and Azteca-Maya Calendar system.
To his last day kept Azteca-Mayan day-keeping journals where he wrote in Gaelic,
Chinese, Japanese, and with Azteca-Mayan glyphs that in detail recorded the subtle
intricacies of each day. He was regarded as an author's author.
Publishers liked to publish him for unique scholarship rather than just projected
sales; they recognised the intrinsic value of his work.
In 2009, Anthony Murphy author and curator Mythical Ireland
, instigated a plan
friends of Martin bring him 'home' for a winter solstice conference
in the Boyne Valley. This trip was a joy for Martin as he met many old friends and
good number of archaeologists including George Eogan
, excavator of the extraordinary
Knowth megalithic complex. Martin had hoped that his astro-calendrical discoveries
would be accepted and bury the the tomb moniker after the 30 year 'acclimation'
period. Alas, he did not live long enough to see that change.
Martin died on 1st November 2023 after a fall and short hospitalisation,
close to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where he lived for over a decade. He will be greatly
missed by many who hoped and expected that he would live to see the publication
of more of his deep insights into nature of time. He was an erudite maverick,
a lifelong bachelor, genius, author, teacher and shaman who lived a full life
on his own terms. His decade in Ireland added greatly to the comprehension
of our nation's scientific and spiritual roots. May he rest in peace.
Boyne Valley Private Day Tour
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and culture of the Boyne Valley with our full-day private tours.
World Heritage site, explore the Hill of Slane, where Saint Patrick famously lit the Paschal fire.
Discover the Hill of Tara, the ancient seat of power for the High Kings of Ireland.