>From: dooley6x <[log in to unmask]>
>I don't know if a semantic distinction can be shown between actual pagan
>religious practice and those elements of the old religion that survived in
>popular culture while being divorced from their original beliefs.
Which is why it is so important to let the words tell us what the writers
meant rather than imposing modern beleifs anr connotations on them because
of ideas about what medieval monks must have beplieved if they were "true
Christians." And there are always differing levels of belief and practice,
and this is reflected in the way people use words. "Belief" may mean one
thing to the "official" keeper of belief--the lore-keeper (of any religion)
who understand the religion at a sophisticated level, vs. the person who
practices at a folk or vrenacular level who sees things in terms of "you do
this, you get that." I call your attention to the example cited by Gregory
of Tours of the sanctuary at Helarion redeicated to St. Hilarius for the
express purpose of redirecting veneration of level.
>It is possible that the acts of a sénaire or a druí were seen as based upon
>religious ritual as opposed to the mere magic of a corrguinach or the lucht
"Mere magic?" The effect corrguinach was said to have had on armies seems
pretty potent to me.;) I'd say that the internal argument going on in the
Sanas Cormaic description of imbas forsonai indicates that there was a good
deal of disagreement as to what was acceptable and what was not. "Patrick
banned this but he says this is OK because it doesn't invoke demons--it just
>Christendom tolerated superstition, but not actual idolatry. A monk might
>be happy to preserve an old legend, but his true beliefs would be echoed in
>the Félire Óengusso:
Define what were "true" beliefs for a monk in ninth-c. Ireland as opposed to
one in 12th c. or 20th c. Ireland. You'll find differences. You find
differences in the colphons to the TBC where one monk says, "A blessing on
you who keep this intact" *in Irish* and the later copyist who denounces it
all *in Latin* as fantasy and tales of demons.
The ninth century monk wanted Christianity to be the "winner" over paganism,
but I think we should not impose 20th or 21st century notions of what being
"Christian" meant on the Christians of earlier eras. (Actually, 21st c.
Christians don't agree, either, but that's for other lists.) One might also
point out that O/engus was part of a reform movement, attempting to impose
ideas on others because they felt there were problems with what others said
and did. In other words, I agree with O/ Ri/ain: O/engus wouldn't feel the
need to describe the wreck and ruin of the pre-Christian religion if he
didn't feel there were a lot of people glorifying those sites. No, I'm not
suggesting that there were refugee druids out on Uisneach lighting fires on
Bealtaine, but a lot of people calling themselves Christians were doing a
lot of things that the Ce/li De/ didn't like. If we believe one source, the
Cenel Conaill kings may still have been getting up-close-and-personal with
horses as part of their inaugurations. Other kings were stepping on "sacred"
stones and probably still expecting them to roar or at least whimper.
Clerics were using liturgical cursing as defense against their enemies.
Annalists were commending the use of fert filed to commit homicide. Even
today people make rounds at wells today with rosary beads and reciting
paters and aves, but some still look in the well to see if the eel, trout,
or salmon appears to tell them their petition will be granted. In the Old
Irish period, the populace in general was still invoking the "idol gods" and
some monks at least found this acceptable enough to record the invocations.
It wasn't a black-and-white situation. And very much to the point, actions
that today would be pejoratively labeled as "magic" or even demonic--such as
liturgical cursing and charming--were acceptable then.
Yes, this has relevance to translation, because if we read 21st ideas into
the words used by 7th or 9th or 12th c. people, then we may not understand
what they were saying. We run the risk of hearing our words coming out of
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