>mn, (Newt?) I'd be interesting in hearing more specific
>criticisms of MacCrossan's work from you (or anyone else
>who's read it). I think the reconstructionist approach is
>valid insofar as it emphasizes an understanding of the
>basic principles of the old Indo-European religions.
My first recommendation would be for you, or anyone buying into
the reconstructionist/Dumelizian approach of either language (ie,
or mythology, to read Colin Renfrew's book "Archaeology and Language".
The Dumelizian school takes an approach to IE mythology akin to
in reconstructing an IE proto-mythology. There are many assumptions made
along this path, and many subtle pitfalls.
Read Renfrew's explanation of the recent denouncement of the IE concept
of "kingship", for example, or cognates for "drunk", and think about how
applies in a mythological approach...
It's similar to a problem that I have with Joseph Campbell's work and the
work of the Finnish myth school (who have an inventory of myth motifs):
it may distill the essence of myth into some archetypal system and
recurring patterns, in that generalization it loses the unique character
and individual devleopment/evolution of its original context.
> Where do you think MacCrossan goes wrong?
In this specific case (if this is the "Sacred Cauldron" book), MacCrossan
says that what evidence we don't get from Celtic sources we can get by
IE parallels and comparative reconstruction. Bullshit! This is like
that, if an archaeologist of the future could find out everything about
Catholicism by filling gaps in his knowledge with available information
about Baptists. It just doesn't work. The best one could possibly do is
find out what common beliefs might have been when there was some sort of
unity, but in the Celtic case this means find out common fundamental IE
beliefs, and we know that the Celts had a lot of beliefs and practices
that had evolved differently from the other IEs.
> Myself, I like much of his thinking]
>in terms of Celtic cosmology and mythology, but certain
>details of the system he has constructed rub me the wrong
>way, not the least of which are the monumentally boring
>rituals he proposes for the seasonal celebrations.
For a few interesting tidbits about the calendar (esp how it's possibly
different in Ireland than other Celtic lands) and just good general info
in this topic, see "The Celtic Consciousness", ed. O'Driscoll.
Note that it's only logical that practices and beliefs are likely to
for a culture in adapting to a new geographic setting, where the
pastoral cycle and available resources (and hence metaphors/items for
spiritual archetypes, etc) might change from their original setting.