Saturday, 18 August 2007

Conkers


There have been conkers out on the horse chestnut trees for weeks now, but today i found the first one on the pavement on my way home from work. We have had blackberries in the garden for near on a month and the apple tree up the road has been shedding red fruit for a few weeks also.

Living in the city does tend to preclude me from a lot of the seasonal indicators, however I think it might be a good idea to try to keep track of whats going on about me. Especially to compare these indicators on a year to year basis.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Takeover Bid

I’m still powering my way through Will Parker’s ‘Four Branches of the Mabinogi’ at the moment. I have just gotten to the chapter concerning the fourth branch which surrounds the Children of Don and have come across something which I found very interesting and also useful as it confirms some of my own thoughts.

It centres on the successive takeover of the children of Llyr by the children of Don. Parker uses prehistoric evidence tied in with the myths to begin to put the mabinogi into context within a changing society in Wales. Essentially, he says that the Children of Llyr and the Rhiannon family are the indigenous family and originate back in the Neolithic Age; this was largely a pig based agrarian culture which was succeeded by the incoming beaker Bronze Age culture. The fourth branch, coupled with the Kat Goddeu tells of the time when the incoming deities of the Beaker people ‘took over’ from the indigenous megalithic peoples. The fourth branch has an episode where the pigs from the south are stolen by Gwydion, this along with the Kat Goddeu which again seems to be an account of Gwydion and Amaethon stealing some sort of agricultural knowledge or skills from Bran and Arawn (one and the same maybe?). so what we have is the mythology reflecting societal change over 3000 years ago.


Next come the Son of Beli Mawr. Parker believes that these are the later Belgic peoples, the ‘Celts’ so to speak and as such were also slightly more warlike. Rather than totally succeed the children of Don there seems to be much more of a co-existence, now as there is no evidence of genocide as these Belgic peoples move into Britain, we can infer that it was more of a cultural and possibly aristocratic takeover. so, exactly how these two dominating families interplay with one another and how this is borne out in the mythos is something I need to work out in my head and something that needs pondering.

It would seem that Beli Mawr ISNT Belenus at all but an historical figure, though whether he may have become ‘elevated’ as the mighty dead into an avatar like role remains to be seen. More pondering on this point I think.

It is certainly nice to have some of my own thoughts and ponderings confirmed in this way.

Friday, 3 August 2007

This little piggy...


I finished the last article in a series for Pentacle magazine last night. This one has been difficult to write. The previous three pretty much formed themselves and after the third drew themselves to a close, so to go on and produce a fourth and final piece was a proper pain in the arse. Once I had done an introduction and then two pieces on the two main families I was at a loss as to where to go next. I had considered some sort of ritual work, perhaps something that gives the reader a kick down the path now that they have been shown where it is. it was a rather clumsy idea that formed into a piece called ‘The Four Cults’, an idea that had come to me on the walk home from work one day. It didn’t really work out and I was at a loss as how to write fully about this idea when it is something I had only just come up with and hadn’t had time to ‘work’ with so to speak. Anyway, the editor squished the idea and got me to do something else which turned out to be a blessing and a curse, a blessing for preventing me turning out a pile of shit and a curse as it now meant I had to come up with a whole new idea.

As it happened, something else was in my head from reading a passage from P K Fords ‘The Mabinogi and other Medieval Welsh Tales’; namely his mention of Culhwch in terms of a much older swine god story. So, I went back to this idea, pulled at pieces of it and rebuilt it with some other mythological and folkloric characters and the result is… interesting.

The key thing it has dome is make me think about whether this kind of construct has validity. Certainly anybody out there following some sort of reconstructionist path has to do this rebuilding at some point and when they do it works for them. Presumably. so what I now have is a new way of looking at things, a new means of approaching the year as it revolves and a new mythos that can be woven into that cycle, and it works! Having read it through it really fits the bill, and so what if it is reassembled from bits and pieces from a mythological past, if we don’t do this sort of thing then what’s the point? The gods themselves will happily adapt to new territory even if it is temporal.

What has also struck me today is that this new construct bears a resemblance to another construct I have been thinking about lately and had published in the Beltane issue of Pentacle, namely that of the ‘truer’ nature of Branwen and her brother Bendigeidfran.