The Macha School: In Search of the Mad Monk


Allen Armenson

Shortly after its discovery in the Newgrange ruins, antiquarians began speculating wildly on the possible authorship of the historical anomaly now known as the Corvus Folio. The piece itself was mere myth for centuries: nine elaborate images coupled with separate pieces of writing in an unknown text, supposedly written on a small sheaf of paper (though most scholars believe it was papyrus, given the age of the ruins). Only reproductions of this original “folio” exist, and were thought to be a hoax until the discovery of another copy, over 200 years later, re-ignited interest in the artifact.

With two Folios found in wildly different regions, one in Ireland and the other in what is now Iraq, theories about the Folio’s authorship and purpose began to formulate and serious study began to take place. In returning to the early theories and documents on the Corvus Folio and adopting the early nomenclature, Daril Orrnab laid out the foundation for the a more developed take on the Macha school of the Corvus Folio updated for the early 20th Century. What follows is an attempt to distill his pages of hand written notes compiled in 1921 by his daughter,-Maryanne Orrnab.

Orrnab’s writings focus on vague references to a figure that appears sporadically in various locations over a 200 year period around the dawn of the Common Era. While these are clearly not the same person, the Macha school attributes those repeat occurrences to the disciples of the “white haired man” variously referred to as Ada, Monk Ada and Mad Ada. While the Mad Monk is likely a conflagration of these disciples, it is believed that the resulting cult was the creation of a single man who took the whispered lore of the Hilkin and Alamite tribes, and transformed them into a fully formed cosmology and belief system.

Folio scholars have postulated logographic occurrences of the HIlkin/Alamite deity of Ada in many cultures. These predate the appearance of the so called Mad Monk Ada, sometimes by centuries. A symbol interpreted as Ada appears in several Mesopotamian artifacts appearing on various fragments of the Ebla Tablets and possible variations on the Weld-Blundell prism. From ancient Egypt there are odd hieroglyphs appearing in some New Kingdom funerary books that Folio scholars have connected to the Ada deity. And examples of oracle bone script dated from the Shang dynasty contain elements remarkably similar to the Hilkin symbols (Orrnab was dismissed as crackpot for his inclusion of East Asian sources when he tried publishing the 1920s. He would be posthumously vindicated decades later when the Yi Folio was found).

All of these “occurrences” are, of course, speculative, and the likelihood of such an insular people having such widespread influence is unlikely. But, it is possible that whisperings of the Ada cult travelled via trade routes and migrations leaving a cultural footprint, however small, across multiple continents. However, it is just as likely that the similarity in symbols is entirely coincidental, allowing for entirely separate cultures to independently create remarkable similar symbology. The same kind of global coincidence that would figure into the Mad Monk’s teaching hundreds of years after these relics were in use.

Ada was the name he gave himself. Of course, scholars of the Folio will recognize the name Ada from the legendary Hilkin figure Ada-Kil-Sin that later gave rise to a minor cult phenomenon in the 18th Century. Most Macha theorists consider the Mad Monk the literary voice behind the Hilkin mythology. If the Vindications did exist, it was likely the first written translation of Hilkin fairy tales. The more grandiose elements of the high mythology are likely inventions of the Mad Monk to support his inchoate religion. He was said to speak in riddles, employing visual tricks and elaborate grids to communicate to his followers. In some accounts he also addressed crowds in a more conventional fashion from something most commonly referenced as The Vindications.

The Vindications is yet another broken puzzle piece. Some fragments of the Latin translation are still intact. Those, along with the rare written accounts hat have been found, form a combination of high Hilkin mythology and apocalyptic imagery that promised a kind of transcendental experience reserved for its followers.

But, the crux of the Mad Monk’s influence was his “visual sermon,” an object consistently referenced in relation to the Mad Monk’s teachings, but never fully explained. It is alternately described as a stone inscription the monk would carve before speaking and a tablet that he would pass on to his followers. It is the Macha contention that the Corvus Folio is a version of that visual sermon.

Most recorded western accounts of the white-haired Mad Monk Ada occur between 20 BCE and 80 CE. He is sometimes connected to more established early alternatives to Christianity including Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, and Merkabah Mysticism. Certainly, the Mad Monk seemed to have borrowed from some these developing belief systems, but he is believed, at least among Macha scholars, to be his own entity.

Many of the cited accounts seem to be purely the speculation, often bordering on fantasy, of those looking to find historical corollaries to the mythical figure. The aforementioned Mesopotamian references appear in mundane texts like financial documentation and accounts of ascension.

More colorful examples include a white haired man who spoke in the angoras of Rome, Pompei, and Corinum Doburrorum. One who utilized symbols and codes to communicate his beliefs that some believe were selectively adopted by the Roman imperial cult in order to strengthen the ruling class’s claim of divinity.

Around the same time there are references to his appearance among the Bedouin tribes where he is described as the “white monk” who traveled along the trade routes bearing divine imagines.

On the other side of the world, Han Dynasty scrolls mention a scholar-official who rode with the nomadic tribes and taught various schools of thought including Confucianism, Daoism, Tengrism and a mysterious belief system that functioned entirely in imagery. His possible appearance is also noted on the wooden scrolls detailing Emperor Qin Shihuang’s far reaching search for an elixir that would grant him eternal life as one of the foreign magicians admitted to the emperor’s court promising the key to immortality. It is believed that the Mad Monk’s solution to this particular problem came the form of the visual sermon. His key to immortality: the Corvus Folio.

These mentions, however tenuous, have driven the myth of the Folio. The notion that it grants immortality has made it the focus of conspiracy theorists rather than academics, and resultant theories have driven desperate men to steal archeological treasures and greedy men to keep those treasures secret. Orrnab laments this kind of sensationalism but insists on the validity of the Macha claim that the Corvus Folio was created as part of a fledgling religion that was spearheaded by a man(or men) calling himself Ada.

The Macha school does not conflict with the Hilkin theory, indeed the most logical explanation of the Mad Monk’s existence is that he was himself a Hilkin(or Alamite). His writings and travels either influenced the mythology of the Hilkins or was drawn from it, but it was his visual sermon that beguiled the great kings. Scant forensic evidence and infighting among the few legitimate scholars of the Folio have made progress of its study nearly impossible, but the Macha school persists. Emerging anthropologists are still working, building upon Orrnab’s work to unravel what may one day be acknowledged as one of history’s most intriguing riddles.