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Subject: Re: Celtic history v. mythopoetica
From: Steve Suelzle <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Fri, 28 Apr 1995 19:07:19 +0000

text/plain (53 lines)

On Mon, 24 Apr 1995, Colin Campbell wrote:
> I fear, Mara, I must disagree with you. What troubles me deeply
> about much of the contemporary pagan view of the Celts is it
> foists an all too easy meaning on what is truly "mysterious". I
> grew up with many of these "big bloody stones" around me, I can
> assure you that strip the superficial mystery away and they
> remain deeply numinous. I think we at least owe the Celts the
> attempt to understand and interpret from what evidence we truly
> have, not that which we wish we had. What alarms me is that often
> the contemporary Celts are judged against a mythical version of
> their past, and these judgements are used against them.
>   I am not necessarily arguing against the mythopoetic view, I
> believe however that a mythopoetic view and a historical one can
> both benefit from a partnership. I think Hutton argues a similar
> view, many people have given us watered down 20th century
> popular psychology version of "Celtic paganism", unfortunately they
> are like those 19th storytellers who took the mystery out of
> folktales and made fairies into cutsy tinkerbelles.
>  Recovering the Celtic past is important to me, and while I might
> be a bit prosaic in your book, I must admit that the sight of a
> standing stone through mist or the sound of a Free Church
> congregation singing a Gaelic Psalm remain powerful to me,
> although I won't join with either church,
>    le deagh dhurachd
>        Colin
I agree.  I don't know why both view can't exist side by side, as
long as we try to remember which is which.  I use physicaI facts to
inform myself on what happened, as far as I can tell.  I use my
imagination (or the imaginings of others) to fill in and flesh out
the places or reasons that I don't have actual facts about.  I also
agree that it is important to make sure and not substitute the real
story for one of your own or (especially) a more superficial one. It
seems like it is easy for the book writers (myself too, if I'm not
careful ) to make easy claims as to what happened in history.  It is
a real danger.  I don't know what the word is.  I want to say
'anthropomorphizing'.  But I know that only applies to ascribing
human characteristics to nonhuman things. Here, what I want to say
that is that they are ascribing modern 20th century thinking (or,
more specificaly the thinking of the reasercher) to the thinking of
the historical people.  Its true that I have to use my perceptions to
figure things out.  However, it is also a trap to think that everyone
thinks the way I think they do.
Steve Suelzle   | Everybody is a part of every-
[log in to unmask] | thing, anyway.
Portland, OR    |               -Donovan

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