…Bearer of Time
Gnomon of Eternity
You must have seen a thing or two
During your torturous sojourn…
How best can we understand our predicament?”
“As Death is the Lord of life…
Life must be the Lord of death.”
…It was a day of surprises.
For the matter beneath his feet to commence shaking was a surprise because it had shown no prior predilection so to do and hence had come to be regarded as stable.
Given the ‘most stable’s’ new propensity, somewhat less of a surprise but still, unthinkable, his previously stable walls also began to shake.
The third surprise came hot on the heels of the other two.
As the usually reliable roof-tiles cascaded around his head, he realised that a shock-wave could be seen with the naked eye.
It was the last thing he saw.
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.”
…They do have something of the ‘other-world’ about them these places.
‘No un-authorised person beyond this point,’ said the sign.
‘But we are more authorised than anyone ever could be,’ said Wen.
It is difficult to disagree but then the village of Cerne Abbas is in itself quite otherworldly too.
I got exactly the same feel from it as when I first went to Glastonbury.
It felt like we had left England and gone abroad, perhaps to France…
‘Albion!’ smiles Wen, ‘the whole of these Blessed Isles used to feel like this…’
The smoke which moments before had billowed hundreds of feet into the darkening sky finally cleared to reveal the Maw of Hell…
From its deep red interior two impossibly tall, dark, slender figures moved together unconsciously…
Eyeless, they emerged into the light of day…
Opening their wide mouths simultaneously, they spewed forth living flame.
The infant souls crouched in the tunnel.
Water trickled and dripped… echoing…
Raven’s claws scratched and scuttled,
drowning the echoes;
he paused and tilted his head:
his moon-eyes flashed.
Two tiny points of light defined the distance.
“Cruuu-aaach!” said Raven, “the light to your right leads to accident and pointlessness. There, is no love and no return. Death is an empty void of nothingness.
“Doooll-aaach!” continued Raven, “the light to your left leads to beauty and design. Love flows everywhere and return is eternal. Death is a paradise of abundance.”
Raven eyed the infant-souls, “which light do you choose?”
…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…
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…