Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Last one of the year

I started off trying to revise a piece I did about fire a while ago - probably one of the very earliest articles I wrote. I wanted to flesh it out and add proper references and all that, because when I originally began posting stuff I never bothered. The lack of referencing made it difficult for me to go over stuff and look at the material I'd collected again, and it didn't really help anyone else either, I quickly found. Without references, for all anyone knows, I'm pulling this stuff out of my arse. And I might be over-cautious in my referencing these days, but for the most part it's because I want to be thorough, and I want people to be able to look stuff up if they need or want to. Even if by 'people' I mean just me. Don't take my word for it, neh?

So I started off thinking it was going to be a simple task, for the most part, because I had a vague idea of what needed to be added in. I ended up getting a little frustrated, though, because aside from the fact the fact that the subject kept expanding - more background was need! - I fairly sure, from my reading elsewhere, that Nagy's book The Wisdom of the Outlaw would be good reading on the subject. Kim McCone's Pagan Past and Christian Present references Nagy a lot in his chapter on 'Fire and the Arts,' anyway. Unfortunately, in this respect, my attempts to get a hold of Nagy's book have been thwarted so far.

Four Courts Press have been promising to re-publish it 'soon' for about two years at least now, and whether that's because of financial constraints on their end, or it's being revised thoroughly by the author and the process has been held up...or whatever...I don't know. All I know is that I pre-ordered a copy a good few years ago now, all excited at the prospect of a new edition, and I suspect that my credit card details have got fed up being stuck with the publisher and have wandered off elsewhere by now...And I can get it from the library, except it's been checked out for the past couple of visits I've made, and is now checked out until March at least, if I remember right. Boo. Hiss.

Being thwarted in this respect, I looked elsewhere. And so the subject began to expand and evolve even more into something entirely different. The direction it took wasn't entirely surprising, but until now (since finishing the last set of articles), it's not something I've ever really been interested in...

I ended up researching the whole idea of creation myth in an Irish context. There isn't one, but there are hints, and the whole symbolism and meaning surrounding the concept of fire - especially in relation to water - is pretty much the starting point in that respect. Kinda. So as the idea grew, I wrote, and as I wrote, the focus evolved. And at times, I had no idea where the hell I was going with this. For one, I'm not entirely comfortable with Indo-European studies, and this is a subject that inevitably relies a lot on it in drawing most conclusions by way of comparison. Sometimes these make sense, and are clear. Sometimes, given the resources I have to hand, I couldn't help but feel that some parts have been slightly fudged over in order to fit a hypothesis of they're all the same in the end.

But still. Sometimes my brain, and my books, take me to unexpected places. In some ways, it's kinda like having a holiday, because with folklore you can let it speak more for itself and in a way I prefer doing that. This is a far more speculative area, by comparison, so it allows a little freedom as well as frustration of interpretation, I guess.

I've never really been one to lament the lack of a creation myth or find it problematic, really. On the one hand, I'm aware that without it we miss out on one of the most fundamental aspects of cultural beliefs and outlooks. But on the other, with everything else we have, I've always felt we can get a pretty good idea of the basics at least. We see origin stories on a much smaller level all the time in Gaelic tradition, and in some way at least they often encompass creation as well. In a way, I can't help but feel that these are part and parcel of the whole concept anyway.

In spite of my frustrations with finding some books I wanted, I'm very thankful to one person in particular for their help in locating one article that I would otherwise have missed out on. They'll remain nameless, unless they'd prefer otherwise, but my thanks go out nonetheless because it helped me out of a real hole I found myself stuck in.

Other than that, there's nothing much else to say, other than I might change my mind about what I've written and completely write over it at some point as new information comes to light...I try to be as comprehensive as I can with this, so I may add, tweak, or revise completely at some point as new sources come to light. But here it is in all its glory for now. My only hope is that it makes sense(!):

Creation myth(s)

A few things I haven't done include linking in the basic concept of fire-in-water in relation to the Otherworldly well of Segais, which bears the fire-in-water motif and also seems to link in with trees and, by extension, the sacred tree (the bile); also the point that the duile all seem to fit neatly into the scheme of the three realms, with the exception of fire (or 'spark'), that seems to transcend. I'm not sure if they fit here, or in later articles that might now need revising. Or something. And I do think I could add something about the Cauldron of Poesy, but I'd like to hunt up some good commentary about that before I form an opinion on that...

OK, I'm just thinking out loud now...


Heather Awen said...

I really enjoyed the Creation Myth(s). Have you read Deep Ancestors? Your work helped "flesh out" the proto-Indo-European information I have.

Tairis said...

I haven't - I'd not heard of it before but it doesn't look like it's available this side of the Pond just now :( Shame, but I'll keep a look out!

Ikindè Skrèja Ominnsær said...

Sweet. :)