On Mon, 2 Aug 2010 03:36:30 GMT, [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Walsh, who specifically warns against trying to find pagan antecedents to
the customs of Martinmasse. Also, see Ronald Hutton's The Rise and Fall of
Merry England, where he started off with the assumption that he could find
pagan antecedents to the English folkways, but discovered that most of the
customs he found were only a century or two old.
>Trying to interpret the folklore of later times and extrapolate a
pre-Christian religion is simply a red herring, as tempting as that might be.
Further to Dave's comments, Hutton's Stations of the Sun 1995 makes a
similar point about antiquarians extrapolating back about Samhain customs
and concludes amongst other things that this festival contains no evidence
as a 'day of the dead' type whereas it does display an assembly.
Irregardless of Hutton's conclusions, the apologist nevertheless makes the
point about extrapolation.
Hallowtide had no antecedent in Samhain - the Christian festival was related
in the opening of a Basilica; it did have an antecedent in All Martyrs, that
derived from a Christian action to rededicate the Pantheon, and the timing
related to the previous religious practices that rededication was wiping out.
Likewise, at the usurping of Beltaine in Ireland, there is no antecedent of
the Paschal Fires to be found in Beltaine, other than the precedent set
amongst European cultures of a seasonal celebration, of which the imagery
was naturally (literally) similar.
The language of Ireland provides a link to that of Gaul, where an
archaeological artefact that is dificult to contextualise is available to
analyse. Both Irish and Gaulish and also British systems of celebrating the
seasons have links in the words used to describe the relevant periods, so
there is a real trail to follow. But this can effectively be performed from
first principles, by putting down the antiquarian book and stepping back
from it as previously said, and while not needing to reinvent the wheel,
reassess what has been collected already.
In natural histories, phylogenies are able to be constructed that are
meaningful by following the lead of shared - but derived - features, as
distinct from shared features alone. The same principle can be employed in
sorting out the boxes of information at our disposal.
Grandchildren are now alive of flower children, who can claim in all honesty
what their grandparents did, but unless they also include where those
actions are derived from, it may be worryingly recorded or embedded in the
fourth generation that these somehow are a continuation of a much older
But there's heaps and heaps to consider, and I certainly hope this all
continues with gusto!
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