Some of these entries may seem a little disconnected. I’m trying to work my way more deeply into concepts I can just barely wrap my brain around at times. The old Celtic pagan and even Christian concepts of the natural world and the society that lived in it are so different, almost alien to what we wake up to every morning that frankly I feel as though I’m looking through someone else’s eyes. And the focus is just a little bit “off.”
The veils between the physical and spiritual worlds seemed thinner in the past. There was a time when it was easier to believe that there were spirits in the rocks, the trees, the streams. A vision of the world that’s still often dismissed as “Nature Worship” by mainstream society. To be honest I’m not sure how I’m going to explain this road I’m traveling to some of my family. My nephews are wonderful young men, but a more uncurious crew I’ve never met. Heck, they’ve got their drummer, I’ve got mine.
I don’t believe that the old Celts worshipped Nature as I understand word, but they were much more in touch with the world, seen and unseen, around them. This immersion in the spirit world seems to have persisted longest on the fringes of Europe. In Ireland, where Rome’s writ never ran. Or in the highlands and islands of Scotland beyond Hadrian’s Wall. Even the people of Wales held onto most of their independence until the thirteenth century and the invasions of England’s Edward I.
I’m not even sure that the Celtic concept of creation or creator is the same as the world view I grew up with. They certainly have enough different words to work with. And heck, maybe it doesn’t really matter unless you’re trying to learn how to speak one of these jaw breakers of a language.
The word often used in Irish for creator, Duileamh (always capitalized and pronounced dool-yev) doesn’t have the root word for create. It doesn’t have the root word for God, or the Almighty, or Supreme Being; all those words our world view equates with a supernatural Creator.
This difficult, for us, to pin down word can mean “being in the elements,” or “one who is in the elements” or “one who is the elements.” To make it even more interesting the root duil can also mean desire, hope, fondness or expectation. They’re all related, I guess, maybe…….oh heck I’ll take their word for it. Try asking Who is fond of What? Who desires What? Careful, the next thing you know you just might decide that Creator and Creation are caught in a web of desire, hope, and fondness that we aren’t used to facing in our world view of the sacred confined to a few hours on a certain day and tucked in the closet the rest of the time.
The highlanders of Scotland used to bless each other in a way that turns the way we treat each other and the world around us on its head.
“The love and affection of the moon be yours.
The love and affection of the sun be yours.
The love and affection of the stars be yours.”
And work their way through all the things of nature around them until they end with
“The love and affection of all living things be yours.”
Adapted from Yearning for the wind.
Perhaps it isn’t so strange to feel a kinship with the sun. The sun feeds the plants, the plants feed the cows and the cows feed us. I guess you could say we carry a bit of sunshine with us through the day; and the night.
If we really believed that the local river had love and affection for us we might treat it like the irreplaceable creation that it is instead of as a sewer. If we could stretch our minds around the idea that the mountains and valleys might love us perhaps we’d think twice about carving off the top of a mountain to get at the coal and dumping the tailings in the valley below. If we truly felt the living web instead of seeing board feet when we look at an old growth forest maybe we’d be more careful as we harvest the trees we need. As it stands we don’t believe we have the love and affection of our fellow human beings much less the rest of the world and the creatures in it.
The elements of creation. “The Love and Affection of the Elements. The Pure Love of the Elements. The Being of the Elements. The One Who is the Elements.” Tom Cowan notes that the participants were trying to discuss these concepts at a workshop for Celtic Shamanism. One woman in the group wished our language had words like these. Another broke in with “Wouldn’t it be great if our culture had ideas like this.” Taken from Yearning for the Wind.
Just wouldn’t it though?
Cross posted in Walking With Hope.