> De : Francine Nicholson <[log in to unmask]>
> Objet : Re: Druid - Magus
> Alexis, please note: the medieval Irish monks called these beings *de/ithe*.
> It translates today as "gods" and it translated then as "gods." It comes
> from the Indo-European root for gods and is cognate with the words in all
> the other IE languages for gods.
> The Irish mionks also called the de/ithe other things, but they called them
> de/ithe and they speculated endlessly, over hundreds of years, as to what it
> meant for a being to be called de/ and yet not be equal to the Christian
> "DE/." *Eventually,* people stopped calling them de/ithe, but the process
> took hundreds of years. As late as the 12th c. they were still calling them
> During that process, the monastic scribes and writers repeatedly and
> consistently demonstrate immense concern to convince the general public that
> these figures did not deserve to be *treated* as gods--that means the
> scribes were operating on the premise that the figures were once *treated*
> as gods (whatever that once meant to the pre-Christian Irish--which is
> another topic). To deal with that perception, the scribes offered
> alternative explanations as to what the figures might be.
Well, basically, a Christian is supposed to be monotheist, this means that
there is no other god that God. It means that for them, the terms "Dé" and
"dé" do not have the same value. There is only one true God, the others are
just fakes (demons, old heroes, angels, nephilim...). By the way, Keating
gives a nice (and indo-europeanistic :-)) explanation of the Tuatha Dé
Danann (Vol. 1, pp214-6) : Tuath = tighernas = nobility ; Dé = druid = magic
; Danann = dán = craft ! Here is a new explanation for the problem of these
so-called gods who are no gods in fact ;-)
>> Right again, but at the time the story was written she was not considered
>> anymore as a goddess (if she was ever). Therefore, she could be baptized
>> and become a true Christian. She even took a new name in order to show this
>> profound transformation : Muirgein.
> She was not considered something equivalent to the Christian "God"--and I
> never said she was. And *all* converted "pagans" took new names. That's why
> they called them "baptismal names." The practice of having one name for all
> time came with baptising children (and even they might add names at
> confirmation. "Baptizing the gods" involves transforming their image into
> something other than a god. That's why they always die immediately after
> being baptized: they lose their immortality. So I think your statement
> supports John Carey's contention rather than contradicting it.
In Patrician hagiography, you have a lot of examples of conversion where
people do not change their names. Not *all* the pagans took new names. And I
don't follow you when you interpret their death as a lost of immortality :
dying just after baptism was the best way to reach heaven directly, and it
shows that these characters were waiting for the arrival of Christianity
before dying in order not to be damned. In my opinion, this is a part of a
strategy from the Irish literati to show that Ireland was like a new
Promised Land, and the Gaels a new Chosen People. In a way, they wanted to
show that Ireland was always a Christian country, even before the arrival of
Patrick (they are not the only one to have done that).
>> This is an old paper, and not his best one for its conclusions (in my
> Pádraig Ó Riain, “Traces of Lug in Early Irish Hagiographical Tradition.”
> ZCP 36 (1978), 138-156. I don't think much of your discarding an argument
> simply on the basis of its being "old"--and I myself am old enough to feel
> that 25 years old is not very old! ;) But if ideas are simply to be
> discarded on the basis of age, then I think your notion of the nephilim
> should be tossed out since I think it was first suggested in the 19th c. or
> earlier, iirc. ;)
Don't take things so seriously or personally ;-) Nevertheless, time has not
the same effects on persons and on sciences. Progresses are going so fast !
But I admit that "old" is not an argument.
>> If my memory is good (???), his arguments relies essentially on
>> genealogies and the fact that Molua is a hypocoristic form of Lugh. Having
>> the same name as a god does not make you the tranformation of a god.
> Sometimes it can mean exactly that, if people do not name their children
> after gods.
It remembers me of an other thread on one Irish-list.
> Also, I think the name bit formed only part of the argument. I
> think his point about the genealogies has merit: if people have a habit of
> tracing their ancestry to ancestors who appear in myths as god-like figures
> and those figures sometimes are saints with god-like names, and the sites
> with which they are associated have ritual/cultic/folkloric associations
> with certain festivals, then I agree with Professro O/ Ri/ain: something
> more than coincidence is going on.
Maybe. It is just that I don't see why having a supposed god in the genalogy
of a saint makes him the successor of a god.
>> Brigid is a "cas d'école" concerning how a saint is constantly suspected of
>> being the successor of a god. Everything we think we know about the goddess
>> comes from the saint (or eventually from other goddesses) : this is a
>> problem !
> It is indeed a problem, but it still remains that the saintly figure draws
> on prior traditions. Some can be traced to other saints and those figures
> can be traced to evidence that suggests local pre-Christian figures. It's
> complex, and it cannot be simply tossed out as irrelevant to your point
> becasue it is a "problem." Where's there's smoke, there often is fire.
The habit does not make the monk :-)
>> I agree with the multiple approach, but not with the fact that "the Irish
>> monks were apparently unwilling to simply deny the gods existed". In all
>> cases, they were denying them the status of gods.
> You don't take so much trouble over debating the nature of something unless
> you believe it exists. They believed that the figures existed. They just
> weren't sure what they were. At first, most of the Irish monks apparently
> believed that these beings were knowledgeable or strong enough to wield the
> power of the forces of nature to the same degree that the gods of Rome and
> Greece did.
In Greece or Rome, the gods were not beaten by the humans, they decided were
the humans and the gods were to live. Greek gods have a very different
status from the supposed Irish gods. But it is normal, because we have
ancient greek texts, but no irish equivalent.
>*They called these beings gods*--de/ithe--native and classical
> alike. They also believed that all these gods were inferior to the Christian
> GOD. They sought to prove that their GOD was better, more powerful, nicer,
> more reliable--so they depict saints like Patrick (in this corner we have
> Patrick appearing for GOD and Christ) squaring off against druids (and in
> this corner we have Druid X for the Tu/atha De/ Danann) and the saint always
> wins. They're trying to prove that their God is better, not that the other
> gods didn't exist or that they weren't powerful. They keep trying on
> different ideas about what these "gods" are and how they got to be so
> powerful. There are many ideas, and *eventually* they call them something
> other than de/ithe, but in the Old Irish period, they are still being called
Sorry, but for a Christian, God is not better than the other gods, he is the
only god. This is the difference between monotheism and polytheism. The
examples from hagiography show that the power of God is stronger than the
power of magic, demons...