Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Camulaunos pt. 1

I have been thinking about and blogasming about the idea of a new Promethean myth for the Brythonic tradition. So, inspired by some of the Joseph Cambell and Megli I have been reading I took some time to sit and write something. I am not a natural story writer - speaker, yes - so this might look and read a little clumsy.

Anyway, here is part 1:

Some time after the making of the world by the Great Father Tigernonos, the Great Mother Rigantona and their Bull-hoofed brother Taranis, the many gods of the land and the sky and the sea were born.

And so it was that after a time men came to live on the land that had been born from the sea and those men lived in the forest and on the plains. They hunted game amongst the trees and they fished great salmon from the rivers. In time they flourished and their numbers grew with each summer and waned with each winter as the cold took away the spirits of the weak and the old to the place under the land where the roots of the mountains are washed over by the birth of all rivers and streams.

Amongst these people was a family-tribe and their chief was a man named Camulaunos. He was the most favoured by the gods; he had thick dark hair the colour of an aurochs back, golden eyes like the swiftest of foxes and pale skin like the breast of the she-swallow. He was the strongest, the fastest and wisest of all the men of the tribe. Each of his hands could hold two spears, with each arm could throw three spears and he was able to wrestle down the biggest of game with ease. Not only this, but he knew every place where game went, every place where the purest of streams bubbled from the Land behind the Land and every bush that brought forth the sweetest fruits. For all the blessings the gods had seen to bestow upon Wetionos, his heart grew heavy with the passing of the seasons as he saw the people of his family-tribe grow weak and pass into the Land behind the Land when winter took hold. Some sickened and faded away, others starved and some still were taken by the wild things that lived in the forest beyond the Black Trees.

It happened that one winter when the snow was deep on the ground and the ice hung from the bones of every man, woman and child that Camulaunos made out into the forest to find game to feed his people. He strode onwards and northwards to the places his people never went to, in order to find some game that had not already been hunted or killed by the cold.

He espied in the undergrowth a boar with shining white bristles; as big as any he had ever seen and with a skin like a frost covered meadow. Its eyes burned fierce red and its tusks glinted with rime.

Camulaunos took up his greatest bronze spear and held it aloft, at this the boar saw his intentions and made to run away deeper into the forest. It plunged onwards deeper and deeper into the places where men never set foot; into those places given over to the wild things and those creatures the gods themselves have turned their gaze from. Onwards they ran; hunter and hunted until Camulaunos threw his mighty spear and pierced the flank of the shining boar. At this the boar cried out;

'Hold your blade and spare my life, and in return I will grant what you need'

‘In taking your life will gain what I seek most' replied Camulaunos

'Hold your blade and spare my life' bellowed the boar 'and I will give you the sweetest meat for roasting, the flesh that will never blacken and will satisfy all who taste it'

'Your own flesh will be the sweetest, and your own flanks will feed my family' said Camulaunos as he drew out his knife ready to slit the throat of the boar before him.

'Hold your blade and spare my life and I shall take you to Mokkonos himself'

And with this Camulaunos placed his knife back in his belt and pulled his spear from the flank of the boar. He was lead into deep valleys and across desolate hillsides for days on end by the bright boar with the bloodied flank, until they reached a wooded valley of blackthorn. From here Camulaunos pushed through the thorny growth deeper into the valley, the frosty barbs pierced his skin and tore at his clothes whilst the icy mud soaked his feet and pulled on his boots. As the braches got to their densest and the blood flowed freely from a many wounds on his skin, he emerged into a clearing. Standing in the middle of the clearing was Mokkonos.

He was twice as tall as a man and the breadth of his shoulders greater than that of any beast Camulaunos has ever seen. His legs like tree trunks dug at the heavy soil beneath his razor sharp and wickedly black hooves. Frost clung to his thick shaggy legs and sweat ran down his huge haunches, the mist from his great mouth swirled around tusks like scythes; each as thick as a man’s arm and both yellowed with great age. His eyes burned like the coals from the deepest part of the forge, his red lips dripped saliva and his tongue hung out as red as fresh blood. His entire body was swathed in thick black fur and it bristled with dozens of broken spearheads and shaft from a thousand failed hunts. Camulaunos knew that the bearers of those spears had not lived to tell the story of the monstrous boar they had seen and failed to kill, he knew that the bones that littered the muddy ground before him, and that were ground into splinters, had been those men.

Camulaunos drew himself to his full height and held his spear by his side, he addressed the monstrous beast before him’

‘Your kin promised me a great feast of boar flesh, if I were to spare his life’

The Black Boar of the Thorns pawed at the ground and spoke to the small man before him;

‘If such a deal is made then it must be honoured Camulaunos, and you of all men who live in the lands to the south of here will be the one to take such a flesh’

‘Take our your blade and cut all you can carry from my flank’

And so Camulaunos took out his bronze bladed knife and went over to Mokkonos and cut from his thick black flank a chunk of his flesh nearly too big to be carried. With this he made his way back through the thorns to his family-tribe’s settlement.

Two days passed and Camulaunos’ people were hungry again, so he went back to the valley with the thorns and the monstrous Mokkonos and took all he could carry, and Mokkonos did not appear any the slighter for it. A third time did he go back to that place and retrieve his people’s fill of boar meat and a third time did they say they were hungry soon after.

So Camulaunos went back to Mokkonos a fourth time. And this time Mokkonos refused him.

‘I spared the life of your kin and a bargain was made, Boar of the Thorns’ Camulaunos said.

‘My part of this bargain I fulfilled, your people were fed and they were no longer hungry’

‘They are hungry again and will always be hungry with each coming winter. For every winter the game leaves the land, the fish leave the rivers and the trees and bushes retreat to the Land Behind the Land to hide from the frosts that you bring’ Camulaunos told him ‘and every winter my people sicken and die and our greatest warriors thin and grow weak’

Mokkonos looked down on him with burning eyes and breathed out a great swirl of frozen mists. The icicles that hung from his shaggy black hide cracked and shattered as he shook himself down.

‘I have lived in this valley for longer than any other beast that lives on the land, I have been pursued by the greatest hunters of every people and made each of them the hunted. I have seen countless Suns born loft in the Chariot of the Thunderer and seen them sink and fade out. I have watched as the sons of Neptonos have raced up the
rivers of the world to chase the women who hide in the springs, and seen them return to the watery depths empty handed. I watched as the Great hawk flew aloft and was brought down by the spear of Lugus. I have seen all of this and many more things in my time in this valley, and there is one thing I have seen that you will desire’

'far to the north of here is a river, a wide and fast flowing thing the colour of blood. Beyond that river is a plain of golden grasses and shining flowers like no man has ever seen. Upon that golden plain is a great hall bigger and finer than any hall made by the hands of a man. Within that hall live many of the gods.

‘To the east of that hall is another river, a stream that appears to be no more than the span of a single stride, but there is no man who can step over it, even with a hundred great strides. You must cross that stream and there you will find the small stone hall and well tilled land of Ambaxtonos. Around it are fields of grain like no man has ever seen; golden stems with fat shining heads of grain of every type and form, plains filled with the finest shining swine; broad and well formed flanks and strong and muscled heads pursued by throngs of perfect young, cattle so monstrous and grand as to strike fear into a man’s heart; they produce the finest of milks with which to make the sweest of drinks, or the softest and most nourishing of cheeses. These are the lands which Ambaxtonos tends and the produce of them is what feeds the gods at their nightly feasts.’

‘Beside the stone hall of Ambaxtonos is a pen of oaks posts, each seemingly no taller than a youth, yet there is no man alive who could climb over them even if given a hundred years in which to do so. You Camulaunos must climb over them.’

‘Inside that pen is the sow Senua Vinda, and it her who you seek Camulaunos, it is the farrow of that sow which will feed you and your people for evermore. Your lives and your hunters will no longer be subject to the whims of the gods, no longer will your warriors thin and weaken, and no longer will your children turn to bones before you.
If you want to give this to your people Camulaunos, then you must bring Senua Vinda back to your family-tribe and they must care for her offspring.’

‘This much I will give you freely Camulaunos, the rest will be costly; draw three bristles from my back and take them with you. They will aid you in getting to the stall of Senua Vinda. They will aid you in getting into that oaken-posted pen and they will aid you in getting back to your home from the land behind the land. For this much the sons of the gods will turn their spears on me and it will be Lugus who hunts me in the depths of winter and not your men, and it is for this which I will enact a price of you and your children;

‘No longer will I reside in this thorn-brush but will be abroad with the darkening of the skies as the Sun cools at winter. I will be at your fields Camulaunos; I will feed at your crops as and tear at your livestock. I will grind the ground beneath my hooves and freeze the very soil you wish to plough. This will be my price Camulaunos, for making myself unwelcome in the halls of the gods I will now seek sustenance from your halls instead.’


Bo said...

That's fab!! surprisingly easy to do, though, isn't it???

Lee said...

it is... it just comes splurging out in an unstoppable mess. often while im on the bus home and not in a position to write it down.

coming up with descriptive materail for the 'gods' is the hard part but you throw in lots of grand, gold and maginificence and you are away!

i think i might do more of this kind of thing :)

Lee said...

actually one of the best parts is throwing in references to other events or places and then leave them - keep the reader wondering.

Bo said...

Exactly. We know so very little British mythology we might as well just *make it up* with one eye on I-E---for which West is excellent---and one on the Mabinogi/Irish. whatever is arguably consistent with both is legitimate.

I'm worried ('worried' the wrong word though) about the similarity between Wetionos and Wedionos, which ultimately arose cos I cdn't be arsed to look up what happened to the cluster -ty- in British, and thus what 'Gwydion' would come from. So Wedionos the divine druid IS Gwydion, in my 'mythos'. But of course you want to bring in the 4th branch and pigs and Hen Wen, which also requires Gwydion as the hero.

One way around it might be that the gods in lots of I-E myth are vulnerable: they need some special food to keep them going, usually called 'deathless' (ambrosia, Indian amrita, which are the same word). Now in Irish myth, Goibniu has a special feast called 'the feast of age' in which he serves magical pigs, that are always alive and ready to be eaten again the next day no matter how many times the gods tuck in. I'm sure any original pig myth should contain this meme.

You could have *Gobannonos go in search of the divine, immortality-bestowing swine, bringing back a small herd on which the children of Don supped ever after. That would require Mokkonos to be an even more primal being (unless by virtue of this feat Gobannonos *gained* the title Mokkonos)...

The keeper of the swine should prob also have a magical drink called *ammawriya.

I'm planning a novel set in britain in the 1st c AD, which will feature a lot of British myth and druidic lore, reimagined through the latest Celtic and I-E scholarship and my very dark imagination...:) It's basically lensing I-E material through the british landscape and language, appropriately enough.

Lee said...

first off;

had a dream last night, i was working on the family farm and was looking after a sow and her piglets (big black wild boar of a beast she was, thick yet osft fur all over) and the piglets broke out and escaped.

the Wetionos name is bugging me too, it is too similar to Wedionos. i shall have to think about changing it.

since i have been reading West i have got the major themes in my head and have plans for them. this one though was going to be a human thing, the aquisition of agriculture and the beginning of the removal of humans from the cycle of things.

the Gobannos-Ale incident will feature as part of the first gods V. incomers (think titans and olympians and Aesir V. vanir or Formors V. tuath rolled into one)myth

i am also going to do a creation myth too - very much plagiarised from yours in some ways but with different gods invovled that fit more with my personal cosmology.

Potia said...

I enjoyed reading this even with it being a work in progress :)

One bit I found a bit odd was the bit where Wetionos is led though the forest to Mokkonos. I don't think the repetition was intentional but I could be wrong - it looked more liketwo drafts had got a bit muddled though.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with for your descrption of the hall of the gods :)

Lee said...

thanks Potia - yep it look like where i stictched two chunks together (the joys of working on it at home and at work *ahem* )

ah... the halls of the gods... i have some ideas :p