>From: Dennis King <[log in to unmask]>
>The writers who created these tales may have claimed, and believed,
>that they were merely poetic flights of fantasy, but at the same
>time they and everyone else in that time and tradition was quite
>used to expecting hidden meanings and esoteric interpretations --
>our recent work with I2T has certainly sensitized me to that --
>so I would expect that some of those guys must have wondered "Hey,
>could I die and be reborn on earth? As a seal? As a salmon? As
>Mrs. Macintosh's next filthy brat?"
I think it all comes down to this: who was credited with the ability to do
these transformations? Was the ability confined to the de/ithe? Or was it
something ordinary mortal humans could do as well?
And I'll qualify that by saying that what the medieval scribes may have
thought may not have been what the pre-Christians believed. I think it's
possible that what was clear earlier on may have become obfuscated by
OK, now with that caveat, I'll ask: do we know for sure that the Irish
believed that the humanoid form was *the* (default? primary?) form of the
deities or simply a form that they could take, just as they could take
heifer or bull or salmon. For example, look at the two who end up being the
two bulls of the Ta/in. They go through conception, life, death, but is it
truly a becoming or simply taking on the form? And I'll break one of my own
rules and suggest looking at the Mabinogi where Gwydion and Gilfaethwy take
on a variety of forms--and genders--according to the whims of Math and what
he thinks they deserve as punishment for their misdeeds. They go through all
sorts of experiences, but do they ever truly cease to be Gwydion and
Gilfaethwy, any more than E/tain ceases to be E/tain, as Midir tries to
remind her in his (eventually successful) pursuit of her?
So, when Colum cille's visitor describes all his experiences, is he like
some Hindu deity, describing his experiences as an example of what may
happen to humans? Or is he emphasizing how different he is, how he can go on
experiencing many things, in contrast to the limited potential of a human?
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