When is a Celt…

5 May, 2009

… Not a Celt?

A fine article of this title by Joanna Hautin-Mayer just crossed my path (via the Naked Woad Warrior‘s blog). It’s a harsh-but-fair look at the level of pseudohistorical invention punted as fact by some neopagan writers. Informative and fun – take for example this gentle dig at the claims made in “Witta: An Irish Pagan Tradition” by Edain McCoy. After noting Ms. McCoy’s claims that the potato as an ancient Irish symbol (having somehow not been aware it was imported from Peru in the 16-17th Centuries!) she also points out this gem:

McCoy goes on to claim that “the famous epic poem Carmina Burana was a manuscript found in an Italian monastery which clearly glorifies the Mother Goddess”(p.4). What exactly this statement has to do with anything, I cannot determine. But in fact, Carmina Burana is the name given to a collection of bawdy drinking songs in Latin probably written down in the tenth or eleventh centuries, the manuscript of which was found in a Bavarian monastery. If pieces such as “It’s my firm intention in a barroom to die” are to be considered as hymns to the Goddess, then all country music must be pagan.

Ouch!

Have a read, tho’ it be longish.


Shamanism, myth and metaphor – and Wolverine

22 March, 2009

From this piece on the popular funny book character as shamanic figure:

Myths, rituals and religion bind us together and can be seen metaphorically as the bones of our society. Our personal belief and value system can be seen as our soul’s set of bones. As we grow up we take on the beliefs and values of the people around us. There comes a point for some of us where we start to doubt the absolute truth of the claims of our culture. We question and question and lose all belief. We are left dismembered and torn apart.

Our symbolic bones are brittle and fragile to begin with because we see them as being literally and absolutely true. For example, when the claim that the moon is a goddess is understood literally, it is smashed to pieces when we land on the moon. Stories and symbols address psychological needs and these change over time. In order to stay relevant and useful the stories and symbols we hold dear must also change. The literal and absolute perspective can not accommodate change and so is weak and fragile.

A man with unbreakable bones has a belief system that is fluid and adaptive to his life. He chooses from the stories and symbols around him and defines himself through them. He dances to the beat of his own drum. He is protected from the manipulation of others by his conscious recognition of the power of symbol and story. The transition from a literal to metaphorical perspective requires the complete dissolution of everything that we previously held to be true. When the process is completed the core of our being is left free from doubt and insecurity.

Well said, bub.
(And don’t get me started on the shamanic arc of Hugh Jackman’s career… let’s just say, go see a double bill of The Prestige and The Fountain and see how that does ya.)

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