All of us live together in this corporate fetish cult. We agree upon and consent to its reality, just as the Aztecs agreed upon Quetzalcoatl and the lost people of Easter Island agreed that the great stone effigies of their remote island had significance…
– Joe Bageant
Not much to say, except hoping you are having a good time. Portland has been lovely the last several days, blue skies, flowers budding, hayfever building, you name it.
I took Rowan out for his first driving lessons, he got his permit on Friday. We drove around the auxiliary parking lot for OMSI for almost an hour. By the end of it, he was doing pretty well! Anyway, he has a couple of more months practicing before he can pass his final test.
Doing the spring cleaning kinda thing, looking at chickens and bees for the back forty… Mary is checking out the soil. I love this time of year. It seems like the longest winter ever. I am surprised we didn’t have wolf packs hunting through downtown Portland. The snow, the cold, the howling winds…
So here we are, with the miracle of life in the springtime …. The birds are back, lots of babies in strollers, the squirrels are chasing each other, the house critters have fleas, and the world is dancing again.
On The Menu:
The Journeybook Magazine!
Songs From The Wood…
The Cult of Gods, Spirits, Fairies And The Dead -The Testimony of Paganism
Spring Becomes The Man: The Early Poetry of James Joyce
James Joyce Biography
Jack in the Green
From our friends Rak & Tim over in Australia… I do the distribution for this in the US at the present… Support a great bit of work!
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce The Journeybook!
Rak Sez: “We are pleased to announce that The Journeybook: Travels on the Frontiers of Consciousness is now available for sale worldwide. It can be purchased through our secure e-commerce site at http://www.thejourneybook.com using Visa, Mastercard or Paypal. If you want to pay through direct bank deposit or another method email me for details.
The price is a low AUD $40 (around US $25) for the 250 page book, with over 50 full colour plates, plus postage and handling US orders ship from our US fulfillment centre to keep postage costs down). The website also has forums to keep in touch with the Journeybook community and discuss the issues raised, art galleries and more. Do check out the Flipbook function on the site which allows you to browse through the book at leisure!
Please help support psychedelic media by purchasing The Journeybook and forwarding this email to friends you know would be interested in owning a copy of “The World’s Best Psychedelic Anthology”!Undergrowth #8: The Journeybook is an essential map of hyperspace for the contemporary psychonaut and the uninitiated alike. Travel through time and space and partake of mushrooms at Harvard, hemp in Nimbin, DMT in the Amazon and anti-depressents in the suburbs of the West, to name but a few of the experiences which await you. Dance at Dionysian festivals, meet alchemists in the laboratories of Switzerland, trippers in the corporate highrises of Brisvegas, and journey to the edge of the universe within our anthology’s pages…
The Journeybook is a collection of tales of altered states, essays, history and manifesto for psychedelic culture in the 21st century. It covers the modern usage of sacramental plants and offers insights into traditional and contemporary shamanism, as well as analysis of the current state of global psychedelic culture and its place in a sustainable future.
It features interviews with Terence McKenna (previously unpublished), Dennis McKenna, Daniel Pinchbeck, as well as articles by Rak Razam, Erik Davis, Graham St John, Tim Parish, Tim Boucher, Dave Cauldwell, Des Tramacchi, Brummbaer and others. An 18x 20 cm art book edition with over 250 pages, it is fully illustrated with over 50 pages of colour paintings, photography and digital graphics from the Undergrowth art collective, including new works by regular Undergrowth contributors Gerhard Hillmann, Oliver Dunlop, Izwoz, Ahimsa, Tim Parish, Rak Razam and others.
The Journeybook is an essential handbook for those interested in the subject of consciousness, spirituality and understanding the rich pharmacopia of thought that exists beyond the confines of mainstream cosmology.”
Songs From The Wood…
Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn- William Wordsworth
“The old Irish when immersing a babe at baptism left out the right arm so that it would remain pagan for good fighting
“Scratch the Christian and you find the pagan – spoiled- Israel Zangwill
Christianity has made of death a terror which was unknown to the gay calmness of the Pagan- Marie Louise De La Ramee
“There is something pagan in me that I cannot shake off. In short, I deny nothing, but doubt everything.” – Lord Byron
From The Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries: The Cult of Gods, Spirits, Fairies And The Dead -The Testimony of Paganism
– W.Y. Evans-Wentz
‘The cult of forests, of fountains, and of stones is to be explained by that primitive naturalism which all the Church Councils held in Brittany united to proscribe.’ Ernest Renan.
Edicts against pagan cults–Cult of Sacred Waters and its absorption by Christianity–Celtic Water Divinities–Druidic Influence on Fairy-Faith–Cult of Sacred Trees–Cult of Fairies, Spirits, and the Dead–Feasts of the Dead–Conclusion.
THE evidence of paganism in support of our Psychological Theory concerning the Fairy-Faith is so vast that we cannot do more than point to portions of it–especially such portions as are most Celtic in their nature. Perhaps most of us will think first of all about the ancient cults rendered to fountains, rivers, lakes, trees, and, as we have seen (pp. 399 ff.), to stones. There can be no reasonable doubt that these cults were very flourishing when Christianity came to Europe, for kings, popes, and church councils issued edict after edict condemning them. 1 The second Council of Aries, held about 452, issued the following canon:–’If in the territory of a bishop, infidels light torches, or venerate trees, fountains, or stones, and he neglects to abolish this usage, he must know that he is guilty of sacrilege. If the director of the act itself, on being admonished, refuses to correct it, he is to be excluded from communion.’ 1 The Council of Tours, in 567, thus expressed itself:–’We implore the pastors to expel from the Church all those whom they may see performing before. certain stones things which have no relation with the ceremonies of the Church, and also those who observe the customs of the Gentiles.’ 1 King Canute in England and Charlemagne in Europe conducted a most vigorous campaign against all these pagan worships. This is Charlemagne’s edict:–’With respect to trees, stones, and fountains, where certain foolish people light torches or practise other superstitions, we earnestly ordain that that most evil custom detestable to God, wherever it be found, should be removed and destroyed.’ 2
The result of these edicts was a curious one. It was too much to expect the eradication of the old cults after their age-long existence, and so one by one they were absorbed by the new religion. In a sacred tree or grove, over a holy well or fountain, on the shore of a lake or river, there was placed an image of the Virgin or of some saint, and unconsciously the transformation was made, as the simple-hearted country-folk beheld in the brilliant images new and more glorious dwelling-places for the spirits they and their fathers had so long venerated.
THE CULT OF SACRED WATERS
In Brittany, perhaps better than in other Celtic countries to-day, one can readily discern this evolution from paganism to Christianity. Thus, for example, in the Morbihan there is the fountain of St. Anne d’Auray, round which centres Brittany’s most important Pardon; a fountain near Vannes is dedicated to St. Peter; at Carnac there is the far-famed fountain of St. Comely with its niche containing an image of Carnac’s patron saint, and not far from it, on the roadside leading to Carnac Plage, an enclosed well dedicated to the Holy Virgin, and, less than a mile away, the beautiful fountain of St. Columba. Near Ploermel, Canton of Ploermel (Morbihan), there is the fountain of Recourrance or St. Laurent, in which sailors perform divinations to know the future state of the weather by casting on its waters a morsel of bread. If the bread floats, it is a sure sign of fair weather, but if it sinks, of weather so bad that no one should take risks by going out in the fishing-boats. In some wells, pins are dropped by lovers. If the pins float, the water-spirits show favourable auspices, but if the pins sink, the maiden is unhappy, and will hesitate in accepting the proposal of marriage. Long after their conversion, the inhabitants of Concoret (Arrondissement de Ploermel, Morbihan) paid divine honours to the fountain of Baranton in the druidical forest of Brocéliande, so famous in the Breton legends of Arthur and Merlin:–’For a long time the inhabitants of Concoret in place of addressing themselves to God or to his Saints in their maladies, sought the remedy in the fountain of Baranton, either by praying to it, after the manner of the Gauls, or by drinking of its waters.’ 1 In the month of August 1835, when there was an unusual drought in the land, all the inhabitants of Concoret formed in a great procession with banners and crucifix at their head, and with chants and ringing of church bells marched to this same fountain of Baranton and prayed for rain. 2 This curious bit of history was also reported to me in July 1909 by a peasant who lives near the fountain, and who heard it from his parents; and he added that the foot of the crucifix was planted in the water to aid the rain-making. We have here an interesting combination of paganism and Christianity.
Gregory of Tours says that the country-folk of Gévaudan rendered divine honours to a certain lake, and as offerings cast on its waters linen, wool, cheese, bees’-wax, bread, and other things; 3 and Mahé adds that gold was sometimes offered, 3 quite after the manner of the ancient Peruvians, who cast gold and silver of great value into the waters of sacred Lake Titicaca, high up in the Andes. To absorb into Christianity the worship paid to the lake near Gévaudan, the bishop ordered a church to be built on its shore, and to the people he said:–’My children, there is nothing divine in this lake: defile not your souls by these vain ceremonies; but recognize rather the true God.’ 1 The offerings to the lake-spirits then ceased, and were made instead on the altar of the church. As Canon Mahé so consistently sets forth, other similar means were used to absorb the pagan cults of sacred waters:–’Other pastors employed a similar device to absorb the cult of fountains into Christianity; they I consecrated them to God under the invocation of certain saints; giving the saints’ names to them and placing in them the saints’ images, so that the weak and simple-hearted Christians who might come to them, struck by these names and by these images, should grow accustomed to addressing their prayers to God and to his saints, in place of honouring the fountains themselves, as they had been accustomed to do. This is the reason why there are seen in the stonework of so many fountains, niches and little statues of saints who have given their names to these springs.’ 2
Procopius reports that the Franks, even after having accepted Christianity, remained attached to their ancient cults, sacrificing to the River Po women and children of the Goths, and casting the bodies into its waters to the spirits of the waters. 2 Well-worship in the Isle of Man, not yet quite extinct, was no doubt once very general. As A. W. Moore has shown, the sacred wells in the Isle of Man were visited and offerings made to them to secure immunity from witches and fairies, to cure maladies, to raise a wind, and for various kinds of divination. 3 And no doubt the offerings of rags on bushes over sacred wells, and the casting of pins, coins, buttons, pebbles, and other small objects into their waters, a common practice yet in Ireland and Wales, as in non-Celtic countries, are to be referred to as survivals of a time when regular sacrifices were offered in divination, or in seeking cures from maladies, and equally from obsessing demons who were thought to cause the maladies. In the prologue to Chrétien’s Conte du Graal there is an account, seemingly very ancient, of how dishonour to the divinities of wells and springs brought destruction on the rich land of Logres. The damsels who abode in these watery places fed travellers with nourishing food until King Amangons wronged one of them by carrying off her golden cup. His men followed his evil example, so that the springs dried up, the grass withered,
and the land became waste. 1
According to Mr. Borlase, ‘it was by passing under the waters of a well that the Sídh, that is, the abode of the spirits called Sídhe, in the tumulus or natural hill, as the case might be, was reached.’ 2 And it is evident from this that the well spirits were even identified in Ireland with the Tuatha De Danann or Fairy-Folk. I am reminded of a walk I was privileged to take with Mr. William B. Yeats on Lady Gregory’s estate at Coole Park, near Gort (County Galway); for Mr. Yeats led me to the haunts of the water-spirits of the region, along a strange river which flows underground for some distance and then comes out to the light again in its weird course, and to a dark, deep pool hidden in the forest. According to tradition, the river is the abode of water-fairies; and in the shaded forest-pool, whose depth is very great, live a spirit-race like the Greek nymphs. More than one mortal while looking into this pool has felt a sudden and powerful impulse to plunge in, for the fairies were then casting their magic spell over him that they might take him to live in their under-water palace for ever.
One of the most beautiful passages in The Tripartite Life of Patrick describes the holy man at the holy well called Cliabach:–’Thereafter Patrick went at sunrise to the well, namely Cliabach on the sides of Cruachan. The clerics sat down by the well. Two daughters of Loegaire son of Niall went early to the well to wash their hands, as was a custom of theirs, namely, Ethne the Fair, and Fedelm the Ruddy. The maidens found beside the well the assembly of the clerics in white garments, with their books before them. And they wondered at the shape of the clerics, and thought that they were men of the elves or apparitions. They asked tidings of Patrick: “Whence are ye, and whence have ye come? Are ye of the elves or of the gods?” And Patrick said to them: “It were better for you to believe in God than to inquire about our race.” Said the girl who was elder: “Who is your god? and where is he? Is he in heaven, or in earth, or under earth, or on earth? Is he in seas or in streams, or in mountains or in glens? Hath he sons and daughters? Is there gold and silver, is there abundance of every good thing in his kingdom? Tell us about him, how he is seen, how he is loved, how he is found? if he is in youth, or if he is in age? if he is ever-living; if he is beautiful? if many have fostered his son? if his daughters are dear and beautiful to the men of the world?”‘ 1
And in another place it is recorded that ‘Patrick went to the well of Findmag. Slán is its name. They told Patrick that the heathen honoured the well as if it were a god.’ 2 And of the same well it is said, ‘that the magi, i. e. wizards or Druids, used to reverence the well Slán and “offer gifts to it as if it were a god”‘ 2 As Whitley Stokes pointed out, this is the only passage connecting the Druids with well-worship; and it is very important, because it establishes the relation between the Druids as magicians and their control of spirits like fairies. 2 As shown here, and as seems evident in Columba’s relation with Druids and exorcism in Adamnan’s Life of St. Columba, 3 the early Celtic peoples undoubtedly drew many of their fairy-traditions from a memory of druidic rites of divination. Perhaps the most beautiful description of a holy well and a description illustrative of such divination is that of Ireland’s most mystical well, Connla’s Well:–’Sinend, daughter of Lodan Luchargian, son of Ler, out of Tír Tairngire (“Land of Promise, Fairyland”), went to Connla’s Well which is under sea, to behold it. That is a well at which are the hazels and inspirations (?) of wisdom, that is, the hazels of the science of poetry, and in the same hour their fruit, and their blossom and their foliage break forth, and these fall on the well in the same shower, which raises on the water a royal surge of purple. Then the (sacred] salmon chew the fruit, and the juice of the nuts is apparent on their purple bellies. And seven streams of wisdom spring forth and turn there again.’ 1
To these cults of sacred waters numerous non-Celtic parallels could easily be offered, but they seem unnecessary with Celtic evidence so clear. And this evidence which is already set forth shows that the origin of worship paid to sacred wells, fountains, lakes, or rivers, is to be found in the religious practices of the Celts before they became christianized. They believed that certain orders of spirits, often called fairies, and to be identified with them, inhabited, or as was the case with Sinend, who came from the Other-world, visited these places, and must be appeased or approached through sacrifice by mortals seeking their favours. Canon Mahé puts the matter thus:–’The Celts recognized a supreme God, the principle of all things; but they rendered religious worship to the genii or secondary deities who, according to them, united themselves to different objects in nature and made them divine by such union. Among the objects were rivers, the sea, lakes and fountains.’ 2
THE CULT OF SACRED TREES
The things said of sacred waters can also be said of sacred trees among the Celts; and, in the case of sacred trees, more may be added about the Druids and their relation to the Fairy-Faith, for it is well known that the Druids held the oak and its mistletoe in great religious veneration, and it is generally thought that most of the famous Druid schools were in the midst of sacred oak-groves or forests. Pliny has recorded that ‘the Druids, for so they call their magicians, have nothing which they hold more sacred than the mistletoe 3 and the tree on which it grows, provided only it be an oak (robur). But apart from that, they select groves of oak, and they perform no sacred rite without leaves from that tree, so that the Druids may be regarded as even deriving-from it their name interpreted as Greek 1 (a disputed point among modern philologists). Likewise of the Druids, Maximus Tyrius states that the image of their chief god, considered by him to correspond to Zeus, was a lofty oak tree; 2 and Strabo says that the principal place of assembly for the Galatians, a Celtic people of Asia Minor, was the Sacred Oak-grove. 3
Just as the cult of fountains was absorbed by Christianity, so was the cult of trees. Concerning this, Canon Mahé writes:–’One sees sometimes, in the country and in gardens, trees wherein, by trimming and bending together the branches, have been formed niches of verdure, in which have been placed crosses or images of certain saints. This usage is not confined to the Morbihan. Our Lady of the Oak, in Anjou, and Our Lady of the Oak, near Orthe, in Maine, are places famous for pilgrimage. In this last province, says a historian, “One sees at various cross-roads the most beautiful rustic oaks decorated with figures of saints. There are seen there, in five or six villages, chapels of oaks, with whole trunks of that tree enshrined in the wall, beside the altar. Such among others is that famous chapel of Our Lady of the Oak, near the forge of Orthe, whose celebrity attracts daily, from five to six leagues about, a very great gathering of people.”‘ 1
Saint Martin, according to Canon Mahé, tried to destroy sacred pine-tree in the diocese of Tours by telling the people there was nothing divine in it. The people agreed to let it cut down on condition that the saint should receive its great trunk on his head as it fell; and the tree was not cut own. 1 Saint Germain caused a great scandal at Auxerre hanging from the limbs of a sacred tree the heads of wild animals which he had killed while hunting. 1 Saint Gregory the Great wrote to Brunehaut exhorting him to abolish among his subjects the offering of animals’ heads to certain trees. 2
In Ireland fairy trees are common yet; though throughout Celtdom sacred trees, naturally of short duration
, are almost forgotten. In Brittany, the Forest of Brocéliande still enjoys something of the old veneration, but more out of sentiment than by actual worship. A curious survival of an ancient Celtic tree-cult exists in Carmarthen, Wales, where there is still carefully preserved and held upright in a firm casing of cement the decaying trunk of an old oak-tree called Merlin’s Oak; and local prophecy declares on Merlin’s authority that when the tree falls Carmarthen will fall with it. Perhaps through an unconscious desire on the part of some patriotic citizens of averting the calamity by inducing the tree-spirit to transfer its abode, or else by otherwise hoodwinking the tree-spirit into forgetting that Merlin’s Oak is dead, a vigorous and now flourishing young oak has been planted so directly beside it that its foliage embraces it. And in many parts of modern England, the Jack-in-the-Green, a man entirely hidden in a covering of green foliage who dances through the streets on May Day, may be another example of a very ancient tree (or else agricultural) cult of Celtic origin.
THE CULT OF FAIRIES, SPIRITS, AND THE DEAD
There was also, as we already know, more or less of direct worship offered to fairies like the Tuatha De Danann; and sacrifice was made to them even as now, when the Irish or Scotch peasant pours a libation of milk to the ‘good people’ or to the fairy queen who presides over the flocks. In Fíacc’s Hymn 1 it is said, ‘On Ireland’s folk lay darkness: the tribes worshipped elves: They believed not the true godhead of the true Trinity.’ And there is a reliable legend concerning Columbkille which shows that this old cult of elves was not forgotten among the early Irish Christians, though they changed the original good reputation of these invisible beings to one of evil. It is said that Columbkille’s first attempts to erect a church or monastery on Iona were rendered vain by the influence of some evil spirit or else of demons; for as fast as a wall was raised it fell down. Then it was revealed to the saint that the walls could not stand until a human victim should be buried alive under the foundations. And the lot fell on Oran, Columbkille’s companion, who accordingly became a sacrifice to appease the evil spirit, fairies, or demons of the place where the building was to be raised. 2
As an illustration of what the ancient practice of such sacrifice to place-spirits, or to gods, must have been like in Wales, we offer the following curious legend concerning the conception of Myrddin (Merlin), as told by our witness from Pontrhydfendigaid, Mr. John Jones (see p. 147):–’When building the Castle of Gwrtheyrn, near Carmarthen, as much as was built by day fell down at night. So a council of the Dynion Hysbys or “Wise Men” was called, and they decided that the blood of a fatherless boy had to be used in mixing the mortar if the wall was to stand. Search was thereupon made for a fatherless boy (cf. p. 351), and throughout all the kingdom no such boy could be found. But one day two boys were quarrelling, and one of them in defying the other wanted to know what a fatherless boy like him had to say to him. An officer of the king, overhearing the quarrel, seized the boy thus tauntingly addressed as the one so long looked for. The circumstances were made known to the king, and the boy was taken to him. “Who is your father?” asked the king. “My mother never told me,” the boy replied. Then the boy’s mother was sent for, and the king asked her who the father of the boy was, and she replied: “I do not know; for I have never known a man. Yet, one night, it seemed to me that a man noble and majestic in appearance slept with me, and I awoke to find that I had been in a dream. But when I grew pregnant afterwards, and this wonderful boy whom you now see was delivered, I considered that a divine being or an angel had visited me in that dream, and therefore I called his child Myrddin the Magician, for such I believe my son to be.” When the mother had thus spoken, the king announced to the court and wise men, “Here is the fatherless boy. Take his blood and use it in mixing the mortar. The walling will not hold without it.” At this, Myrddin taunted the king and wise men, and said they were no better than a pack of idiots. “The reason the walling falls down,” Myrddin went on to say, “is because you have tried to raise it on a rock which covers two large sea-serpents. Whenever the wall is raised over them its weight presses on their backs and makes them uneasy. Then during the night they up-heave their backs to relieve themselves of the pressure, and thus shake the walling to a fall.”‘ The story ends here, but presumably Merlin’s statements were found to be true; and Merlin was not sacrificed, for, as we know, he became the great magician of Arthur’s court.
There are two hills in the Highlands of Aberdeenshire where travellers had to propitiate the banshee by placing barley-meal cakes near a well on each hill; and if the traveller neglected the offering, death or some dire calamity was sure to follow. 1 It is quite certain that the banshee is almost always thought of as the spirit of a dead ancestor presiding over a family, though here it appears more like the tutelary deity of the hills. But sacrifice being thus made, according to the folk-belief, to a banshee, shows, like so many other examples where there is a confusion between divinities or fairies and the souls of the dead, that ancestral worship must be held to play a very important part in the complex Fairy-Faith as a whole. A few non-Celtic parallels determine this at once. Thus, exactly as to fairies here, milk is offered to the souls of saints in the Panjab, India, as a means of propitiating them. 1 M. A. Lefèvre shows that the Roman Lares, so frequently compared to house-haunting fairies, are in reality quite like the Gaelic banshee; that originally they were nothing more than the unattached souls of the dead, akin to Manes; that time and custom made distinctions between them; that in the common language Lares and Manes had synonymous dwellings; and that, finally, the idea of death was little by little divorced from the worship of the Lares, so that they became guardians of the family and protectors of life. 2 On all the tombs of their dead the Romans inscribed these names: Manes, inferi, silentes, 3 the last of which, meaning the silent ones, is equivalent to the term ‘People of Peace’ given to the fairy-folk of Scotland. 4 Nor were the Roman Lares always thought of as inhabiting dwellings. Many were supposed to live in the fields, in the streets of cities, at cross-roads, quite like certain orders of fairies and demons; and in each place these ancestral spirits had their chapels and received offerings of fruit, flowers, and of foliage. If neglected they became spiteful, and were then known as Lemures.
All these examples tend to show what the reviewer of Curtin’s Tales of the Fairies and of the Ghost World states, that ‘The attributes of a ghost–that is to say, the spirit of a dead man–are indistinguishable from those of a fairy. And it is well known how world-wide is the worship of the dead and the offering of food to them, among uncivilized tribes like those of Africa, Australia, and America, as well as among such great nations as China, Corea, India, and Japan; and in ancient times it was universal among the masses of the people in Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
CELTIC AND NON-CELTIC FEASTS OF THE DEAD
Samain, as we already know, was the great Celtic feast of the dead when offerings or sacrifice of various kinds were made to ancestral spirits, and to the Tuatha De Danann and the spirit-hosts under their control; and Beltene, or the first of May, was another day anciently dedicated to fetes in honour of the dead and fairies. Chapter ii has shown us how November Eve, the modern Samain, and like it, All Saints Eve or La Toussaint, are regarded amo
ng the Celtic peoples now; and the history of La Toussaint seems to indicate that Christianity, as in the case of the cult of trees and fountains, absorbed certain Celtic cults of the dead which centred around the pagan Samain feast of the dead, and even adopted the date of Samain (see p. 453).
Among the ancient Egyptians, so much like the ancient Celts in their innate spirituality and clear conceptions of the invisible world, we find a parallel feast which fell on the seventeenth Athyr of the year. This day was directly dependent upon the progress of the sun; and, as we have throughout emphasized, the ancient symbolism connected with the yearly movements of the Great God of Light and Life cannot be divorced from the ancient doctrines of life and death. To the pre-Christian Celts, the First of November, or the Festival of Samain, which marked the end of summer and the commencement of winter, was symbolical of death. 1 Samain thus corresponds with the Egyptian fête of the dead, for the seventeenth Athyr of the year marks the day on which Sitou (the god of darkness) killed in the midst of a banquet his brother Osiris (the god of light, the sun), and which was therefore thought of as the season when the old sun was dying of his wounds. It was a time when the power of good was on the decline, so that all nature, turning against man, was abandoned to the divinities of darkness, the inhabitants of the Realms of the Dead. On this anniversary of the death of Osiris, an Egyptian would undertake no new enterprise: should he go down to the Nile, a crocodile would attack him as the crocodile sent by Sitou had attacked Osiris, and even as the Darkness was attacking the Light to devour it; 1 should he set out on a journey, he would part from his home and family never to return. His only course was to remain locked in his house, and there await in fear and inaction the passing of the night, until Osiris, returning from death, and reborn to a new existence, should rise triumphant over the forces of Darkness and Evil. 2 It is clear that this last part of the Egyptian belief is quite like the Celtic conception of Samain as we have seen Ailill and Medb celebrating that festival in their palace at Cruachan.
There is a great resemblance between the christianized Feast of Samain, when the dead return to visit their friends and to be entertained, for example as in Brittany, and the beautiful festivals formerly held in the Sînto temples of Japan. Thus at Nikko thousands of lanterns were lighted, ‘each one representing the spirit of an ancestor,’ and there was masquerading and revelry for the entertainment of the visiting spirits. 3 It shows how much religions are alike.
Each year the Roman peoples dedicated two days (February 21-2) to the honouring of the Dead. On the first day, called the Feralia, all Romans were supposed to remain within their own homes. The sanctuaries of all the gods were closed and all ceremony suspended. The only sacrifices made at such a time were to the dead, and to the gods of the dead in the underworld; and all manes were appeased by food-offerings of meats and cakes. The second day was called Cara Cognatio and was a time of family reunions and feasting. Of it Ovid has said (Fasti, ii. 619), ‘After the visit to the tombs and to the ancestors who are no longer [among us], it is pleasant to turn towards the living; after the loss of so many, it is pleasant to behold those who remain of our blood and to reckon up the generations of our descendants.’ And the Greeks also had their feasts for the dead. 1
The fact of ancient Celtic cults of stones, waters, trees, and fairies still existing under cover of Christianity directly sustains the Psychological Theory; and the persistence of the ancient Celtic cult of the dead, as illustrated in the survival of Samain in its modern forms, and perhaps best seen now among the Bretons, goes far to sustain the opinion of Ernest Renan, who declared in his admirable Essais that of all peoples the Celts, as the Romans also recorded, have most precise ideas about death. Thus it is that the Celts at this moment are the most spiritually conscious of western nations. To think of them as materialists is impossible. Since the time of Patrick and Columba the Gaels have been the missionaries of Europe; and, as Caesar asserts, the Druids were the ancient teachers of the Gauls, no less than of all Britain. And the mysteries of life and death are the key-note of all things really Celtic, even of the great literature of Arthur, Cuchulainn, and Finn, now stirring the intellectual world.
427:1 Cf. F. Maassen, Concilia aevi merovingici, p. 133.
427:2 Cf. Boretius, Capitularia region Francorum, i. 59 for each of the above references cf. Jubainville, Le culte des menhirs dans le monde celtique, in Rev. Celt., xxvii. 317.
429:1 Cf. Mahé, Essai, p. 427.
429:2 See Villemarqué sur Bretagne.
429:3 Cf. Mahé, Essai, p. 326; quoted from De Glor. Conf., c. 2.
430:1 Cf. Mahé, Essai, p. 326; quoted from De Glor. Conf., c. 2.
430:2 Cf. Mahé, Essai, p. 326; quoted from Goth., lib. ii.
430:3 A. W. Moore, in Folk-Lore, v. 212-29.
431:1 Cf. Rhŷs, Arthurian Legend, p. 247.
431:2 Borlase, Dolmens of Ireland, iii. 729.
432:1 Stokes, Tripartite Life of Patrick, pp. 99-101.
432:2 Ib., text, pp. 123, 323, and Intro., p. 159.
432:3 Book II, 69-70; see our study, p. 267.
433:1 Rennes Dinnshenchas, Stokes’s trans. in Rev. Celt., xv. 457.
433:2 Cf. Mahé, Essai, p. 323.
433:3 The Celts may have viewed the mistletoe on the sacred oak as the seat p. 434 of the tree’s life, because in the winter sleep of the leafless oak the mistletoe still maintains its own foliage and fruit, and like the heart of a sleeper continues pulsing with vitality. The mistletoe thus being regarded as the heart-centre of the divine spirit in the oak-tree was cut with a golden sickle by the arch-druid clad in pure white robes, amid great religious solemnity, and became a vicarious sacrifice or atonement for the worshippers of the tree god. (Cf. Frazer, G. B.,2 iii 346 ff.)
434:1 Pliny, Nat. Hist., xvi. 95; cf. Rhŷs, Hib. Lect., p. 218.
434:2 Dissert., viii; cf. Rhŷs, ib., p. 219.
434:3 Meineke’s ed., xii. 5, 1; cf. Rhŷs, ib., p. 219. The oak-tree is pre-eminently the holy tree of Europe. Not only Celts, but Slays, worshipped amid its groves. To the Germans it was their chief god; the ancient Italians honoured it above all other trees; the original image of Jupiter on the Capitol at Rome seems to have been a natural oak-tree. So at Dodona, Zeus was worshipped as immanent in a sacred oak. Cf. Fraser, G. B.2 iii. 346 ff.
435:1 Cf. Mahé, Essai, pp. 333-4; quotation from Hist. du Maine, i. 17.
435:2 Cf. Mahé, Essai, p. 334; quoted from Lib. VII, indict. i, epist. 5.
436:1 Stokes, Tripartite Life, p. 409.
436:2 Cf. Wood-Martin, Traces of the Older Faiths in Ireland, i. 305.
437:1 W. Gregor, Notes on Beltene Cakes, in Folk-Lore, vi. 5.
438:1 Temple, Legends of the Panjab, in Folk-Lore, x. 406.
438:2 Lefèvre, Le Culte des Morts chez les Latins, in Rev. Trad. Pop., ix. 195-209.
438:3 See Folk-Lore, vi. 192
438:4 The term ‘People of Peace’ seems, however, to have originated from confounding síd, ‘fairy abode,’ and síd, ‘peace.’
439:1 Cf. Le Cycle Myth. Irl., p. 102.
440:1 The crocodile as the mystic symbol of Sitou provides one key to unlock the mysteries of what eminent Egyptologists have erroneously called animal worship, erroneously because they have interpreted literally what can only be interpreted symbolically. The crocodile is called the ‘son of Sitou’ in the Papyrus magique, Harris, pl. vi, II. 8-9 (cf. Maspero, Les Contes populaires de l’Égypte Ancienne, 3 Intro., p. 56); and as the waters seem to swallow the sun as it sinks below the horizon, so the crocodile, as Sitou representing the waters, swallows the Children of Osiris, as the Egyptians called themselves. On the other band, Osiris is typified by the white bull, in many nations the sun emblem, white being the emblem of purity and light, while the powers of the bull represent the masculinity of the sun, which impregnates all nature, always thought of as feminine, with life germs.
440:2 Cf. Maspero, op. cit., Intro., p. 49.
440:3 Cf. Borlase, Dolmens of Ireland, iii. 854.
441:1 Cf. Lefèvre, Rev. Trad. Pop., ix. 195-209.
Spring Becomes The Man: The Early Poetry of James Joyce
When the Star Goes forth in Heaven
When the shy star goes forth in heaven
All maidenly, disconsolate,
Hear you amid the drowsy even
One who is singing by your gate.
His song is softer than the dew
And he is come to visit you.
O bend no more in revery
When he at eventide is calling,
Nor muse: Who may this singer be
Whose song about my heart is falling?
Know you by this, the lover’s chant,
‘Tis I that am your visitant.
Strings in the Earth and Air
Strings in the earth and air
Make music sweet;
Strings by the river where
The willows meet.
There’s music along the river
For Love wanders there,
Pale flowers on his mantle,
Dark leaves on his hair.
All softly playing,
With head to the music bent,
And fingers straying
Upon an instrument.
My Dove, My Beautiful One
MY dove, my beautiful one,
The night-dew lies
Upon my lips and eyes.
The odorous winds are weaving
A music of sighs:
My dove, my beautiful one!
I wait by the cedar tree,
My sister, my love.
White breast of the dove,
My breast shall be your bed.
The pale dew lies
Like a veil on my head.
My fair one, my fair dove,
What Counsel has the Hooded Moon
What counsel has the hooded moon
Put in thy heart, my shyly sweet,
Of Love in ancient plenilune,
Glory and stars beneath his feet–
A sage that is but kith and kin
With the comedian Capuchin?
Believe me rather that am wise
In disregard of the divine,
A glory kindles in those eyes,
Trembles to starlight. Mine, O Mine!
No more be tears in moon or mist
For thee, sweet sentimentalist.
James Joyce Biography:
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finneganns Wake (1939). Joyce’s technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature, and created a unique language of invented words, puns, and allusions.
James Joyce was born in Dublin, on February 2, 1882, as the son of John Stanislaus Joyce, an impoverished gentleman, who had failed in a distillery business and tried all kinds of professions, including politics and tax collecting. Joyce’s mother, Mary Jane Murray, was ten years younger than her husband. She was an accomplished pianist, whose life was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. In spite of their poverty, the family struggled to maintain a solid middle-class facade.
From the age of six Joyce, was educated by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, at Clane, and then at Belvedere College in Dublin (1893-97). In 1898 he entered the University College, Dublin. Joyce’s first publication was an essay on Ibsen’s play When We Dead Awaken. It appeared in the Fortnightly Review in 1900. At this time he also began writing lyric poems.
After graduation in 1902 the twenty-year-old Joyce went to Paris, where he worked as a journalist, teacher and in other occupations under difficult financial conditions. He spent a year in France, returning when a telegram arrived saying his mother was dying. Not long after her death, Joyce was traveling again. He left Dublin in 1904 with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid who he married in 1931.
Joyce published Dubliners in 1914, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1916, a play Exilesin 1918 and Ulysses in 1922. In 1907 Joyce had published a collection of poems, Chamber Music.
At the outset of the First World War, Joyce moved with his family to Zürich. In Zürich Joyce started to develop the early chapters of Ulysses, which was first published in France because of censorship troubles in the Great Britain and the United States, where the book became legally available only in 1933. In March 1923 Joyce started in Paris his second major work, Finnegans Wake, suffering at the same time chronic eye troubles caused by glaucoma. The first segment of the novel appeared in Ford Madox Ford’s transatlantic review in April 1924, as part of what Joyce called Work in Progress. The final version was published in 1939.
Some critics considered the work a masterpiece, though many readers found it incomprehensible. After the fall of France in WWII, Joyce returned to Zürich, where he died on January 13, 1941, still disappointed with the reception of Finnegans Wake.
Jethro Tull: Jack in the Green (02/10/1977)