The Badb School: A Summary of the Hilkin Theory
E.E. Gilbert, 1981
When the first Corvus Folio was found in Newgrange at the end of the 17th century theories about its creation and creators were relatively simple. It was a single document, found in an isolated monument with incredibly sophisticated imagery and made on equally sophisticated materials. It was taken at the time as evidence of an advanced culture that flourished several millennia ago.
Immediate candidates for the Folio’s creators were the mythical Tuatha De Danann who’s history was already intermingled with the Newgrange monument. Antiquarians began searching for analogous imagery or references in sources like the Yellow Book of Lecan and the Book of Leinster as well as older sources that predated Christian influence like Lebor na Huidre and Cin Dromma Snechtai. Though the extensive crow imagery lead to the Morrigan association which has forever remained linked to the Folio, it also drove theories linking the Folio to myriad other cultures citing, among others, Norse mythology, Ancient Greek religions, and of course Biblical sources.
The Folio was passed among a number of historians and antiquarians before it was stolen from the friend of the Ashmore Museum, Elden Ashgrove, who had the Folio on loan for examination. The theft alone drove interest in the Folio, but when it was connected, however covertly, to both the phenomena of Ada-Kil-Sin and the Cochemvet Manuscript, the quest for answers became an obsession for the those that followed the Folio.
Chief among them was Herbert Ashe, an amateur historian who abandoned his growing cabinet of curiosities to pursue the the origins of the Corvus Folio. Though he reportedly wrote two compact volumes on the subject, neither exists today, though he is remembered among enthusiasts as the first to discover the Hilkin connection.
“The People” were mentioned in the recently translated Narrative of Ada-Kil-Sin that was all the rage among Heidegger’s masquerades in the early 18th century. Though Ashe rarely engaged in the public entertainments he was acutely aware of the trends that drove the crowds and was immediately convinced of a tangible connection between the Ada-Kil-Sin of The Narrative and the fox woman of the Folio.
References to both the Hilkins and Alamintes were also supposably contained among Cochemvet’s research.
Ashe combed through the great libraries of Europe and eventually found fragments of Mordene’s pamphlets of Hilkin folklore. Though most of the stories were incomplete, Mordene’s scattered notes on “the people” hinted at a very secretive group who guarded their heritage very closely. By his own admission, the tales he collected were elliptical, incomplete, and likely deliberately misleading as they related to the people who told them. But Mordene was certain that this reclusive culture played a significant role in human history. Though the fate of Mordene is unknown and much of his research is lost, many suspect that he was killed for the research he was doing, and perhaps by the very people he was studying.
Ashe assembled what fragments he could and began writing and speculating about the Hilkins. Initially many of his contemporaries followed his lead. Apocryphal tales of researchers going mad in their pursuit of the Folio were not uncommon. Ashe himself met an untimely end, stabbed in the streets of London by an unknown assailant, before he published any of his findings.
Understandably, any continuing research on the Hilkin people was of the clandestine sort, and ill reported. The unprecedented imagery sparked wild attributions to many legendary cultures, including the Umman Manda, the Sea Peoples, and even the Atlanteans. Though theories that were proposed very few were meaningfully explored. More connections were also undoubtably made between the Folio, Ada-Kil-Sin, and the Hilkin folktales, but little progress was made throughout the 18th and 19th centuries to ground the Folio to any sound archeological theory.
Only one thing was clear: investigating the Corvus Folio and the Hilkin people was dangerous. So it was not a surprise when the most significant discovery of Hilkin stories was made by a man who had no idea what he was looking for. Dr. Aaron Genkins vacated his position at Amherst University to devote his full attention to the neglected library of the Calamus estate when it passed into the hands of renown philanthropist(and suspected extortionist) Victor LeSargent at the turn of the twentieth century.
It was with in those dusty volumes that he found an intact journal of one James Mordene, a member of an unnamed monastic group that engaged in missionary work in the late 12th century. From the introductory page: “I lament the stubborn nature of this close knit group of families who have resisted nearly all of my attempts at conversion, with sometimes violent adherence. Despite their reluctance to speak with me I did manage to coax a few tales from some of the younger family members and will translate them as faithfully as memory allows.”
The text from the Calmus estate was so fragile it was barely readable and Dr. Ginkens managed only a cursory look at its contents before LeSargent arranged for the book to be restored and transposed by another party. Despite repeated attempts to revisit the manuscript, Dr. Ginkens never saw the text again and was summarily fired by LeSargent for continuing to try.
Ginkens wrote a detailed account of his discovery of, and lack of access to, what believed to be a significant historical account of a forgotten people. After submitting the article to the American Journal of Archeology he promptly disappeared, seeming to confirm fears that the Folio was a dangerous area of study.
Despite those fears, once the second Folio was found during the Woolley excavation of the Tombs of Ur, more seemed willing to take the risk. It was there that the Corvus Folio evolved from mere archeological curiosity into a seriously considered artifact and area of study. The discussions and debates that unfolded during the decade long archeological dig would come to define how the Folio was referenced in the coming years and the “Three Schools of the Folio” were unofficially, through irrevocably, established.
The idea of the Hilkins as an established peoples has persisted in all schools of the Folio and more complete versions of Mordene’s tales have been discovered in various collections through throughout the first half of the 20th century(as well as field recordings recently collected by Olivia Anglesea). But the question of who the Hilkins may have been(or may still be according to some theories) still remains.
While the discovery of the Ur Folio gave renewed traction to the Umman Manda theory and a Mesopotamian origin for the Folio, other theories emerged: Scythians, Guitans, Mediomatrici…countless western cultures were considered as candidates for Hilkin ancestry. Then, of course, the Yi Folio was discovered and an entire hemisphere of new candidates was opened for further exploration and speculation.
Though answers to the Hilkin question aren’t likely to come any time soon, the Badb school has persisted. It is still not certain which came first, the Folio or the tales, but the association is clear, and the centuries long search for the identity of the Hilkin people will continue.