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OLD-IRISH-L  June 2002

OLD-IRISH-L June 2002

Subject:

Re: Druid - Magus

From:

Alexis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 16 Jun 2002 17:36:45 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (80 lines)

> De : Croman mac Nessa <[log in to unmask]>
> Objet : Re: Druid - Magus
> In a message dated 6/16/02 2:00:38 AM Central Daylight Time,
> [log in to unmask] writes:
>> << I don't agree with that as you may have guess from my previous mails ! How
>> can you define a complete conversion, on what grounds. >>
> 
> Madainn mhath, Alexis.
> Well, I could go the Calvinist route, in which case I would agree that
> Christian conversion is a perpetual process, ending only with Glorification,
> but I was speaking culturally/sociologically and psychologically, not
> mystically.

I was speaking on the same levels.

>> << I think we have to
>> take up this question from a different angle. First, there are different
>> ways of being Christian, depending of your position into the Church and more
>> generally into the Society (you don't expect the same behaviour from a
>> bishop and a fisherman). >>
> This is where I was speaking psychologically.  Imagine, if you will, having
> been raised in a Pagan culture and then being converted to Christianity.  You
> might make the shift rather easily, but then again, you might not, and might
> well be unwilling to make a complete renunciation of all of the doctrines and
> practices with which you were raised.  Indeed, even in those who made the
> shift easily, I contend that at least some of those would still feel
> nostalgia and doubts;  it's only natural to expect that sort of thing.

You could expect such a behaviour from a new convert, but the writings we
have are from people who had been converted for generations : as far as I
know, only the writings of saint Patrick (and oghams) are contemporary of
the conversion, we have nothing from new converts. So I am afraid that the
psychological side of your argument is weakened, at least concerning the
texts we have.

>> << Second, even where Christianity is dominant, it
>> does not have what I call the "monopoly of the sacred". It means that there
>> are areas where Christian thoughts may have an influence, but is not
>> completely in charge of the sacred. >>
> This is where I was speaking culturally/sociologically, but not in the same
> way you have in speaking of kingship.  What I meant was that there were areas
> in "Christian" countries where the Old Ways survived;  witness, for example,
> the collection of Alastair MacGilleMhicheil (Alexander Carmichael), in _̉rtha
> nan Gàidheal_ (_Carmina Gadelica_), of apparently surviving Pagan
> customs/traditions (admittedly possibly only fragments of the original
> traditions), in the late 1800s/early 1900s in the Highlands and Islands of
> Scotland.  In the remote areas of such countries, the priest might say what
> he wanted, but the common people (and possibly even some of the nobility)
> might go on with their ancient customs regardless.  It is likely that there
> were areas of Ireland and Scotland where a priest seldom came, and areas
> which were so remote from the nearest church or monastery that the people
> simply could not attend worship services even had they felt so inclined.
> Bardic schools continued in Ireland and Scotland until only very recently
> (the 1700s in Ireland and the 1800s in Scotland, if I recall correctly).  How
> much of what they taught was a survival of unalloyed Pagan tradition is open
> to debate, but certainly at least some of their teachings preserved some
> Pagan elements, or there would likely have been no _Carmina Gadelica_ or
> suchlike.

I don't believe that any custom can "survive" for more than a thousand
years. There is no place where human history stops. I will illustrate my
point as following : in the TV serie "Stargate" populations are put on a
planet ; thousand or hundred years later, the heroes go on these planets and
they find the descendants of these populations with the same language,
culture and traditions : this is a nonsense. More seriously, if a druid
burns a victim and a inquisitor burns a witch, they are pragmatically doing
the same thing ; but on a social, symbolic, historic (etc.) they are doing
two very distinct things. So to speak, it is not because you are making
something that looks pagan that you are actually doing something pagan. So,
I don't agree with the "pagan lecture" of the Carmina (and I am not even
questioning the way in which it was collected and arranged by Carmichael and
his editors). And I don't think that the informants of Carmichael considered
themselves as being pagans. In itself, a pagan element or motif is nothing
out of its context. A symbol or a motif has no meaning (pagan or Christian
or anything else) in itself, it is the context that can give its sense and
value.

In a friendly way,
Alexis.

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