Category Archives: Mythology

A Twice-Stole Spear…

*

… “Mananawn’s Mount,” muttered Fin, pensively.

“Yeas!” exclaimed Daatho, “from Sidhe Finnaha, where Leer himself resides, he descends like a fire-storm. That radiant place on the very crest of the height is crowned with flames that leap rubied-red, through the day-light hours, but as night falls it sparks and spits like star-fire, as a guard against the foolish and unwary.”

“Do not the High Ones have their share of our spoil?” asked Fin, “what need has one of theirs to torment us so?”

“If the stone of the hills know it they utter it not,” said Daatho, “yet men will ever spin their yarns to draw out the unknown.”

“What stories have you heard told on this matter?” asked Fin.

“The old men say that it is all on account of a spear. They tell that Cuill, who was once the head of the Fianna, stole the spear from the Fairy Rath of Alain, son of Mithna.”

“And where is that spear now?” shouted Fin.

“Where is last year’s winter?” smiled Daatho.

“Is it with Goll, who is now head of the Fianna?”

“It is not with Goll, no,” said Daatho, “though Goll, it is true, sacked the Dun of Cuill, he did not get the spear, and nor did any man now known.”

“And what of the Fianna?” asked Fin, “has the strength of every champion’s arm been sapped by these fire-storms?”

“You can try the strength of your own arm,” laughed Daatho, “the king has offered their heart-wish, as reward, to any man who can stay the burning of Tara.” …

to be continued

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High-Way to Tara…

*

Fin Mac Cuill stood on an out-crop of rock and surveyed the Fortress of Tara…

Brightly coloured banners ran from the breeze over her ornately carved roof-poles…

Long had Fin yearned for this moment, Tara before him and his feet upon the High-Way that led to her…

There was no need now to hasten his steps.

Fin allowed his thoughts to wander…

His mind penetrated the long-roofed halls of Conn, beloved king of his father…

The long-roofed halls where Goll now lorded it…

Goll, Lord of the Fianna…

Goll, slayer of Cuill!

“A heartening sight, is it not?” mused a voice close by him.

Fin turned swiftly in alarm, regretting the loosening of the fetters which normally bound his mind.

The stranger smiled, “Feast your eyes while ye may, stranger, for tomorrow the sun will rise on the charred ruins of that fortress.”

“What man utters such a dire prophecy?” demanded Fin.

“Daatho, utters this prophecy, a man with lands and thralls here. Were you not a stranger you would know that every third Sarwen, Alain, son of Mithna, burns Tara to the ground.

“One man burns Tara to the ground, you say, Daatho?” grinned Fin, disbelieving.

“He is a Crafty One,” said Daatho, “and those that know, of such veiled things, say that he dwells on Smithies Height.” …

to be continued

Sheer Fantasy…

golden-dawn

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Ish-na-e-cha-ge, First-Born-Being, roamed among the Animal-Nations.

He understood their ways and their languages.

They beheld him in wonder and awe and could do nothing without his knowledge.

He pitched his tent in the centre of the land and no spot was impenetrable to his gaze.

Even so he longed for companionship.

From a splinter drawn from his Big-Toe he formed Little-Boy-Man and taught him everything he knew.

Eventually the time came for their parting.

“What shall I do without you?” pleaded Little-Boy-Man.

“If you get stuck,” replied First-Born-Being, “look to the end of the road where two trees meet.”

*

Tell-Tale Signs…

*

…There is lots of real depth in this little story.

It is culled from the pages of, ‘Folk Tales of the British Isles’ and is full of that rare and ever dwindling commodity known as Folk Wisdom.

This re-telling then is necessarily based on the translation of Sean O’Sullivan who reports thirty-two other versions of the tale none of which, sadly, now appear to be freely available.

The tale fairly bristles with three-fold quandaries and displays an initial three-fold structure which ultimately, and to the apparent chagrin of the story-teller, shifts to four.

This inter-play between Form and Content can hardly be accidental.

Ostensibly an answer the riddle tale, as is the way with these things, it throws up more questions than it answers.

At the forefront of which are:

Why does Death curl around the hearth ?

Why does a tied sheep stand for Strength?

Why is Youth  housed below stairs?

There are more, loads more…

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Gate to the Land of Youth III…

*

… “Shame on you,” said the old man as he struggled to his feet, “to think that such mighty men cannot tie one small sheep.”

He took hold of the sheep, dragged her easily to the wall and re-tied the broken rope.

Fin and his Merry-Men were somewhat aghast to behold these uncanny proceedings but before they could inquire of the old man he again called to the girl below stairs.

“Come and get some more food ready for Fin and his men.”

Up came the girl again and before long a feast fit for kings again lay before Fin and his Merry-Men.

“Now you tuck in good and proper,” said the old man, “you’ll have no more trouble from my sheep.”

*

So, Fin and his Merry-Men ate and drank their fill until, feeling well sated, they drew their chairs back from the table.

Fin had a mind to speak with the girl but when he went down to her she said, “You had me once, you have me no longer, and you will never have me again.”

Fin turned on his heel and went back to his chair.

Then Dermot went down to her and got the self same response.

The same happened to all Fin’s men even though none of them had ever met the girl before.

Ossian was the last to go down but him she led back upstairs by the hand, and across the floor, with her until she stood before Fin.

“Fin Mac Cool,” she said, “ever has the fame of you and your men, for prowess, spread throughout the land yet you all failed to tie the sheep.”

“Is there a solution to this riddle?” asked Fin.

“Things in this hovel are not what they seem,” said the girl, “the sheep, is Strength, the old man, is Death, for none other but death can overcome strength itself,  and I am Youth. I can give each of you whatever gift you ask of me.”

Each man in turn asked for what he wanted.

Fin spoke first.

He asked that he might lose the stench of clay which had clung to him ever since the day he lay alone with a dead woman.

Conan asked for invulnerability in battle and the strength to slay hundreds.

Dermot asked for a love spot on his body which would cause every woman who saw it to fall in love with him.

Finally, Ossian asked for the ‘Grace of God’ and was taken by the girl to the Land of Youth until Saint Patrick came to Ireland.

*

Gate to the Land of Youth II…

*

… Within the walls of the white-washed house Fin, and his Merry-Men, found an old man lying bent on the edge of the hearth with a sheep tied to the wall alongside.

They sat at table and the old man raised his head and acknowledged them.

‘Little enough chance of sating our thirst and hunger in this hovel,’ thought Dermot.

Just then the old man called loudly for food and drink, and up from the floor below came a strapping young lass who wasted no time in setting the table with a feast fit for kings.

But no sooner had Fin and his Merry-Men put fork to food than the sheep which was tied to the wall broke its hempen rope and rushed toward the table sending the food and drink to the floor.

“By the Gods!” cried Conan, “look at the mess you have made of our supper, and we so badly in need of it.”

“Get up and tie the sheep, Conan,” said Fin.

So, Conan got up and, grabbing the sheep by the scruff of the neck, attempted to drag it back towards the wall.

Try as he might he was unable to do so.

“What’s this,” laughed Dermot along with all the other men, “Conan, the great warrior, defeated by a sheep.”

“I am more than happy to stand aside and let a better man have a go,” growled Conan.

“Get up and tie the sheep, Dermot,” said Fin.

So, up got Dermot and he too tried to drag the sheep to the wall but was unable.

Each of Fin’s men in turn attempted the task and failed until, eventually, Fin himself was forced to stand and tie the sheep but all to no avail.

That sheep was not for budging…

To be continued.

*

Gate to the Land of Youth…

*

Fin and his Merry-Men were hunting atop a hill.

All day they were there yet caught no glimpse of game.

As evening drew in, Fin spoke, “let’s turn for home, boys, there is naught for us on this dismal hill,” he said, “’twill be late when we get there and a hunger and thirst will be on us.”

“A hunger and thirst on us, already,” said Conan, and spat into the ground.

*

So Fin and his Merry-Men turned and set off down the hill-side.

Before long a Black Fog fell and they lost their way.

“No good ever came from a fog of this sort,” said Fin resignedly, “we’re out for the night now, boys, and no mistake!”

As the Merry-Men set too, assessing their predicament, Dermot spied a white-washed house in the gloom.

Whichever way he turned the house still loomed.

“This way for a home-stead,” cried Dermot, “maybe we’ll find food and drink this dreary night after all.”

So Fin and his Merry-Men followed Dermot to the white-washed house…

To be continued.

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The Lord of all Proud Beasts…

rs-332*

His skin is hard as rock.

His heart huge as a boulder.

His belly thick with spikes.

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His eyes glow like dawn.

He sneezes and lightnings flash.

Flames leap from his mouth.

*

Smoke pours from his nostrils

like steam from a boiling pot.

His breath sets coals ablaze.

*

He looks down on the highest

and watches terror dance before him.

Is nothing on earth his equal?

*

Keys to the House of Don: Crucible…

rs-254*

‘…Such a situation invites the approach of treating the various versions  as at least theoretically, the garbled remnants of an episodic whole. While such a method can never lead us to the definitive story but merely and at every turn to a series of closely parallel yet different approximations of the definitive story, some approximations will be seen to be better or nearer the definitive story than others… ‘

Crucible of the Sun

… “Well, first off I suppose I’d better decide which of our seasons to drop,” said Wen, looking somewhat bemusedly at the sky, “and after much deliberation, I’ve decided that I’m going to drop winter.”

“Why, oh pray tell us why, Little Grub?”

“Because, psychologically, winter is death and the seasons should be all about life.”

“An admirable piece of deduction!”

“We do have a problem though.”

“We do?”

“We need to know the length of the year?”

“Don’t worry about being too precise just go with a thirteen month year.”

“Why?”

“Because in one of the extant versions of the story the princess had twelve hand-maids, and take the summer as being five months long, because of the king’s five eye patches.”

“Which makes autumn and spring each four months in length.”

“Perfectly balanced, that is, Little Grub, perfectly balanced.”

“And summer is not?”

“No, the fifth month of summer is an imbalance, hence the king’s baleful eye signifying the late summer sun which will blight the crops if they are not gathered in.”

“Does that also work psychologically?”

“How do you mean Little Grub?”

“If the Ego is not transcended, for want of a better term, then the ‘fruits’ of the individual life turn rancid?”

“I think that is true. The Ego turns to Super Ego instead of turning to the Id, takes everything, especially itself, hyper-seriously and cannot tolerate anything without its own image.”

“So why did you go with nine hand maids for the princess?” said Wen.

“They linked with the children ‘lost’ beneath the sea and signified the nine months of gestation.”

“The ‘seals’, the sea being both a watery womb and the subconscious?”

“We’ll make a lunatic of you yet, Little Grub.”

“I’m not sure I want to be a lunatic,” said Wen and then went on, “so I would have a spring smith forging the year, a summer warrior defending the year, and an autumn wizard contemplating the year,” with scant regard for just how mad that made her sound.

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