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OLD-IRISH-L  September 2016

OLD-IRISH-L September 2016

Subject:

Re: ogham agus achu

From:

Helen McKay <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:11:13 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (14 lines)

> "Warn him that he may not come to the house he leaves till ogham and
> pillar be blent together, till heaven and earth, till sun and moon be blent
> together.’ ‘God is not above our gods’ said Aengus. ‘There is one thing’,
> said Manannan. ‘The one almighty God is able to subdue our idol gods and
> they are not able to despoil Him who is the powerful Lord made heaven and
> earth and the sea with wonders, and made the universe complete.’"

I had wondered why the usual story about all of time being made up of day and night was replaced by this tale.  And I think the answer lies in its context, that it is a Christian statement designed to demonstrate a Christian purpose.   Because the 'ogam agus acchu' isn't the only thing here out of kilter, its the use of the term 'merged' which is also odd.   We are quite used to the idea expressed in pagan terms of the fear that the sea might flood the land, or the earth swallow us up, but these are quite realistic fears in a way, as these events do occur at a local level or in a major calamity.  But using the term 'merged' is unusual (?unique) and implies 'destroyed', and that indicates that we have here a description of the day of judgement when the world is ended, destroyed, because as Manannan says, God has ultimate power over these things.  This Christian worldview where time and the universe itself is utterly destroyed in the end is possible because they have abstracted God into a separate kingdom where good people can go after the end of the world.  But I doubt this would have been the case in the pagan worldview where the natural universe contains everything.  A fear of a calamaty such as the sea flooding the land does not imply a belief that the entire world and time itself is utterly destroyed and comes to an end. In fact I'd think that the Celtic worldview is that an era comes to the end of a cycle perhaps, but that then the universe picks up and starts again anew.  Time is forever even should major calamities occur.  Think of Ragnarok, where the world is razed by fire and flood and the gods themselves battle for the world, destruction and horror abound, but in the end the world starts anew with a few gods and two humans who will survive the horror.  
Another thing that doesn't sit right is the mention of the sun and moon merging.  I may be wrong but I can't remember a pagan instance where the moon falls down or such?  But the selection of earth, sky, sun, moon suggests that again we have a later (Christian period) reference to the four elements, na ceithre duile :   aer[sky], tene[sun], uisge[moon], talamh[earth].  So Manannan is saying that the elements merge and as such the world is destroyed. 

So, if we stop thinking that anything that mentions earth/sky moon/sun is necessarily pagan, then I believe the above statement is actually rather perverse.  Perverse in its way because it is rewriting the first pagan story where Angus holds the Bru for all time.  It's saying that God will destroy all things in the universe in the end, and that while Angus may take possession of the Bru until time and the world as we know it is destroyed, his power will ultimately be overcome by God who has control over all these things, including Angus himself.  
 
Helen

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