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OLD-IRISH-L  December 2010

OLD-IRISH-L December 2010

Subject:

Re: spirals and sacred numbers

From:

Charles DeVane <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 23:36:13 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (67 lines)

On Thu, Dec 30, 2010 at 11:09 PM, Helen McKay
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The spiral is well-attested in most ancient artwork everywhere in the
> western world as representative of the sun.   This comes from two
> sources, the first is that if you stand watching the path of the  sun then
> it forms a spiral, and at a soltice, it turns and creates the oppositely
> handed spiral. So the spiral represents the sun in its passage across
> the sky.  Its symbolic, but its also 'real'.  The second thing is that the
> sun 'grows' things, and many natural growth patterns are also in
> spirals.  Remembering here that in the ancient IE languages with oral
> traditions, shape and form and colour and function etc are all tied
> together in language and conceptualisation and causality of the
> worldview.
>
> The easiest example of this use of the spiral to represent the sun is
> found on the Calendar Stone at Knowth.  Here we can see the moon
> with its circles and cresents each day moving in a circle of the synodic
> month around the spiral of the sun.  Notice that three of the 'moons'
> are lost inside the sun spiral, just as the triduanna sacred fast days
> indicate, the time where the moon is too close to the sun to be visible.
> http://mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/knowth/calendarstone.html
> (there is a lot more on this stone, but the simple part is just to trace
> the moon's cresents and full-moon circles around the sun spiral for a
> month).
>
> On the other point, there is a truth of consistency here from Neolithic
> times up to late Greek,  grian/female/sun/fire/heat/growth  and
> male/moon/water/semen - if we are going to say that only the Irish
> were completely out of sync with the rest of their world and believed
> everything backwards or reversed, despite the evidence, then we would
> have to come up with an amazingly well-proven argument to prove the
> negative.  The problem here is that we tend to be children of the last
> two millenia, when the roles and genders were reversed by Greco-Judaic-
> Christianity, and as humans we are often tied subconsciously into our
> own modern assumptions and emotions, and its really hard to break
> this belief pattern as it now forms an elemental part of our modern self
> identity. And when this happens, we also assume that our beliefs
> are 'right' and that therefore they have an innate naturalness and
> correctness to them, which everyone else in the past also automatically
> saw as the truth.  But that simply isnt true, its an untruth in itself that
> we find uncomfortable, sometimes impossible, to stare into the face of.
> I think one of the most amazing points in history is when the Jesuits
> first met with Chinese philosophers in Beijing, and discovered that
> everything they assumed in life was not a truth, and that it was
> possible to view the fundamental assumptions of life from an entirely
> different perspective.  Those first Jesuit missives discovering the truth
> about themselves and human nature, I think should be compulsory
> reading for everyone, imo.  They are a lesson is honest scholarship and
> humility and honesty.  OK, stopping now...
> Helen
>

Helen,

It seems to me that deities representing the Sun and the Moon can have
masculine or feminine names in Old Irish. What you've said about the
Moon being a male deity and the Sun being a female deity seems to
mirror the IndoEuropean traditions, especially those of India and even
the Baltic states. Indian traditions have the Moon being a male deity
and visiting 27 of his wives (one every few days in their "houses").
It's difficult to have a consistent idea about deity gender due to the
ways that various religions and traditions have overlaid others these
past 5500 years or so. I wonder what the latest scholarly thinking is
on this matter?

Searles O'Dubhain

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