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Author Topic: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.  (Read 13056 times)

sionnachdearg

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2015, 06:30:24 pm »
Quote from: Freesia;168496
The books I have are pretty and many of the concepts are considered obsolete (Stonehenge and other standing stones for example). I struggle with finding a place in my practice with the Big Guys: the heroes, place bound deities, deified kings, and wizards. Right now I keep to the Little Guys: the peskies, elves, and folk tale spirits.

 So I'm not deity centered at the moment and focusing on the Little Guys. If I get the attention of one of the Big Guys then I'll handle it or come running for help.

 
I find your comments something I can identify with as I tried to understand the gods and goddesses of Ireland.
When I read more about the Fomorians, the more they become the raiding Norsemen altered in description by oral tradition. One interesting example is one called the Red Maiden in the war of Gaedhil.  There is evidence that she may may be the same as the Danish heroine Rusla which may have came from the name Rollon the dane who conquered Normandy His Anglo-Saxon name was Rolda. It is believed that the Irish interpreted the a at the end of Rolda to be seen as female which would have been acceptable in Ireland where a female heroine. This maiden is mentioned in a poem of the wars of Brian Borumha as one of the chief leaders of the Viking chieftains.
    " The invasion of the red woman
     who was worse than any host,
     the first born who came over the mighty sea
     To gentile maidens
     Against them she practiced the ruff play
     In revenge, so that they died
     She used to light candles around their waist
     from the sidh of the beautiful maidens.... "

Brian Borumha was a chieftain of the Irish who expelled the Norse people at a battle near Galway. The reason I wrote this is how real events develop into supernatural beliefs. The Red Maiden is transformed into a supernatural being living in the fairy mounds. Thus a real female Norse leader mentioned in the saxo Grammaticus is connected with the supernatural Red Maiden who is associated in the fairy mounds. These connections are not perfect but as more and more associations with different sources connect real people with supernatural. Sorry so much but I found this fascinating which raises the possibility that the so call gods and goddesses of the Irish mythological cycle may have had real or idealized people from the past. As in this case the Tuatha De Danann fighting with the fomorians seem less like gods and goddesses than people associated with the builders of the complex burial mounds and henges who seem to have had magical knowledge.  
Sorry about the length but if find this interesting. I am now trying to learn about the spirits of the land who become referred to as the fairies and elves associated with the land.
I would appreciate any thoughts about these ideas.

Freesia

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2015, 07:28:10 pm »
Quote from: sionnachdearg;168722
I find your comments something I can identify with as I tried to understand the gods and goddesses of Ireland.
When I read more about the Fomorians, the more they become the raiding Norsemen altered in description by oral tradition. One interesting example is one called the Red Maiden in the war of Gaedhil.  There is evidence that she may may be the same as the Danish heroine Rusla which may have came from the name Rollon the dane who conquered Normandy His Anglo-Saxon name was Rolda. It is believed that the Irish interpreted the a at the end of Rolda to be seen as female which would have been acceptable in Ireland where a female heroine. This maiden is mentioned in a poem of the wars of Brian Borumha as one of the chief leaders of the Viking chieftains.
    " The invasion of the red woman
     who was worse than any host,
     the first born who came over the mighty sea
     To gentile maidens
     Against them she practiced the ruff play
     In revenge, so that they died
     She used to light candles around their waist
     from the sidh of the beautiful maidens.... "

Brian Borumha was a chieftain of the Irish who expelled the Norse people at a battle near Galway. The reason I wrote this is how real events develop into supernatural beliefs. The Red Maiden is transformed into a supernatural being living in the fairy mounds. Thus a real female Norse leader mentioned in the saxo Grammaticus is connected with the supernatural Red Maiden who is associated in the fairy mounds. These connections are not perfect but as more and more associations with different sources connect real people with supernatural. Sorry so much but I found this fascinating which raises the possibility that the so call gods and goddesses of the Irish mythological cycle may have had real or idealized people from the past. As in this case the Tuatha De Danann fighting with the fomorians seem less like gods and goddesses than people associated with the builders of the complex burial mounds and henges who seem to have had magical knowledge.  
Sorry about the length but if find this interesting. I am now trying to learn about the spirits of the land who become referred to as the fairies and elves associated with the land.
I would appreciate any thoughts about these ideas.

 
Wow. I haven't read up on Irish legends in a really long time. I recognized Brian Borumha, but everything else is fuzzy. When I was younger I loved reading about Irish and Scottish history and folklore. Now I'm working on a teaching degree and my research time is occupied with study and papers.

The Paganism that I practice is more land spirit based rather than deity focused. At this point I center on the home and hearth for my own sanity. I like the idea of including local spirits into my practice, but I've heard people complain that I shouldn't involve them because they aren't of my culture.  

I know that many Pagans outside of Ireland practice a Celtic or Gaelic centered religion, but I don't understand how they incorporate such a regional spirituality far from the origin. I have that trouble with all reconstruction based practices. Others may be able to clarify this matter to both of us.

sionnachdearg

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2015, 10:38:55 pm »
Quote from: Freesia;168726
Wow. I haven't read up on Irish legends in a really long time. I recognized Brian Borumha, but everything else is fuzzy. When I was younger I loved reading about Irish and Scottish history and folklore. Now I'm working on a teaching degree and my research time is occupied with study and papers.

The Paganism that I practice is more land spirit based rather than deity focused. At this point I center on the home and hearth for my own sanity. I like the idea of including local spirits into my practice, but I've heard people complain that I shouldn't involve them because they aren't of my culture.  

I know that many Pagans outside of Ireland practice a Celtic or Gaelic centered religion, but I don't understand how they incorporate such a regional spirituality far from the origin. I have that trouble with all reconstruction based practices. Others may be able to clarify this matter to both of us.

 
I personally believe the Irish Pre-Christian  beliefs were to a large extent land spirit based. The many of the land features and water features in Ireland are named after females whose spirits are identified with those features. In M. Sjoestedts Celtic Gods and Heroes she describes how the poet Amairgin with the sons of Mil who finally defeat the Tuatha De Danann calls on the land of Ireland in honor of the great lady Eire to stop the druidic wind that prevented them from reaching Ireland.
In addition the writings of he Dindshenchas connect females with specific bodies of water, mounds, lakes and springs. (this reminds me of the lady of the lake in King Arthur tales) examples are Boann and the river Boyne a local river goddess/spirit and Sinann and the river Shannon.

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2015, 11:50:25 am »
Quote from: sionnachdearg;168722
When I read more about the Fomorians, the more they become the raiding Norsemen altered in description by oral tradition. One interesting example is one called the Red Maiden in the war of Gaedhil.  There is evidence that she may may be the same as the Danish heroine Rusla which may have came from the name Rollon the dane who conquered Normandy His Anglo-Saxon name was Rolda. It is believed that the Irish interpreted the a at the end of Rolda to be seen as female which would have been acceptable in Ireland where a female heroine. This maiden is mentioned in a poem of the wars of Brian Borumha as one of the chief leaders of the Viking chieftains.

I would appreciate any thoughts about these ideas.

 
The main thought that comes to my mind is, it sounds like you're positing that the source poems of the Lebor Gabála Érenn recounted, not tradition and legend, but current events, long after the Christianization of Ireland.

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sionnachdearg

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2015, 10:32:33 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;168787
The main thought that comes to my mind is, it sounds like you're positing that the source poems of the Lebor Gabála Érenn recounted, not tradition and legend, but current events, long after the Christianization of Ireland.

Sunflower

 
I thought that the source Lebor Gabála Érenn (the book of invasions) is found in the Lebar na Núachongbála along with the Dindschenchas and the Táin Bó Cúailnge. I was under the impression that the Lebar na Núachongbála along with the Lebar na nUidre, the Leabhar Baile an Mhota, the Leabhar Mór Mhic Fhir Bhisigh, the Leabhar Buidhe Lecain and the Cath Maige Tuired were some of the sources to understand about Celtic myth and legend.

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2015, 11:01:16 pm »
Quote from: sionnachdearg;164379
I was brought up with Christian beliefs but over the years been dissatisfied and became interested in paganism and thus found this forum. The problem I have now is the definition used in this forum is so extensive that I find it hard to understand what it means to be pagan. Many of the posts suggest a clear desire not to define things, which I can understand, but that makes it harder for someone new to see if they can identify with paganism. There seems to be a wide range of beliefs from worshiping gods and goddesses (including mixing them from different cultures) to animistic to nature worship. Can anyone organize these seemingly different pathways to help me see which pathway I might Identify with?


Great questions and thread.  I'm learning a lot reading through your post and the responses.

My definition actually changes based on my context - and probably always will.

If most other pagans ask me, I say something like, "It's what you are if you identify as pagan.  For me, part of it is being relativist, so I can't say much more."

There is some merit in leaving it that open, but I also understand that it isn't very practical.  But I tend to focus only on practical issues I've got to contend with at any given time.  So, for instance, some friends and I started an e-zine for pagans in our area recently; and that means that we'll conceivably have to make a decision at some point about what it means, to our panel of five, to be pagan.  What if we get an article from someone who self-identifies as pagan that is anti-environment, for instance?  And, when a non-pagan asks me, I usually offer a definition that is highly example-based; I might say something like, "Although the range of those who identify as pagan is enormous, most pagans are deeply connected to the environment, are highly individualistic and tolerant of others' individual choices, believe in more than one spiritual archetype..." and so forth - knowing, of course, that it's tendential at best but wanting to offer something as a sort of anchor-point.
 
Quote from: Thorbjorn;164427
I would say, and take this with a grain of salt, not to try to fit into what you read or hear Paganism is (I was taught to capitalize Paganism and Heathenism ;)), or to try to take it all in. I tried to do that with Hinduism and Buddhism but it made me reject all the practices and most of the beliefs. Rather, explore your feelings and see what draws itself to you, and what draws you to it. Listen to your gut feelings. Think on the gods and goddesses, or spirits. Open yourself to hearing their call, some will call you, some will not. Thor has been calling me for decades, but I never paid attention until recently, when it hit me like a thunderbolt (pun intended :p). He grabbed me in a headlock. I tried finding other paths, but they didn't feel right. I listened to my gut, and found it. I can't and shouldn't speak for anyone else, but this is how it seems to me to happen.


I think this is good advice.  There is so much material from so many sources that you've got to know yourself well enough to say what is useful to you and what you don't need as you explore.  You've got to be good at balancing skepticism with a willing suspension of disbelief.  And, from this thread, you seem to be.
 
Quote from: sionnachdearg;164584
I became disatissfied with Christianity for several reasons. First I feel there is a general conflict between nature and what was expressed in what I heard in the churches that I attended with a feeling of dominion over nature which was expressed to serve man rather that to be in a mutualistic relationship. I also felt there was too much a male presentation of God and whenever I expressed God as she my comments seemed unwelcome. I became interested in the writings of Ted Andrews with the last book which I read Nature-Speak: Signs, Omens and Messages in Nature. Although I could not identify with everything if felt his ideas were much closer to what I believe in. I do not know if He would be considered pagan but from what I have read paganism is about as good an identification as any.

I also had problems with the way heaven was presented since I feel the spirits of my parents and grandparents are next to me and no in some other place. I then read something about the otherworld in pre-christian beliefs and I became interested since my heritage is Irish, Scottish and Welsh. I want to find out more about the concept of the otherworld and see if there is a way that what is presented by Ted Andrews is compatible with the pre-christian Celtic beliefs.

I would like to know if anyone in the forum can tell me if these two beliefs can be merged and were I can find out more about the Celtic Otherworld.


I so identify with this and have heard from so many others who identified with at least one of the points you're making.  The absence of the divine feminine, the imbalanced view of nature, the suppression of curiosity - I, personally, think these are some of the strongest reasons that Christianity seems to be losing so many adherents (in the western world, anyway).

Although I think you are starting in just the right place with primary sources, here are a few modern books that explore beliefs about Celtic shamanism and the Celtic otherworld.  I don't think any of them are excellent, but I also think they're quite decent.

Blamires, Stephen: Magic of the Celtic Otherworld
Conway, D.J.: By Oak, Ash, and Thorn and Advanced Celtic Shamanism (the latter is actually more like a beginner-intermediate-level text)
McCoy, Etain: Her encyclopedias of celtic hero/ines and Celtic Women's Spirituality
 
Quote from: sionnachdearg;168220
Thank you for this input. I guess that is to some degree the way I see it also but along with that there appears to be a spirituality with the land also especially rivers, lakes, and certain mounds. I would be interested in hearing more about what you think about this approach.


I think geocosmology is one of the best primary sources (assuming you have access to it).
 
Quote from: Freesia;168496
The books I have are pretty and many of the concepts are considered obsolete (Stonehenge and other standing stones for example). I struggle with finding a place in my practice with the Big Guys: the heroes, place bound deities, deified kings, and wizards. Right now I keep to the Little Guys: the peskies, elves, and folk tale spirits.

The main fact is that the place I live is so alien to the green meadows and woods of Ireland and Europe. I'm having a great deal of trouble cobbling together a path that doesn't look like yesterdays scrambled eggs.

Truthfully I don't think I'm doing very well identifying a practice "starting point" and I may have jumped into the maze too soon. I'm tired of studying and just wanted to get in and start doing something. So I'm not deity centered at the moment and focusing on the Little Guys. If I get the attention of one of the Big Guys then I'll handle it or come running for help.

 
I've always felt lucky in that I very much identify with the landscape around me.  But a lot of people identify - primarily, at least - with the landscape/s of another culture.  In cases like these, it can be especially important to engage with models of the landscapes you're longing for - either by creating an altar or other sacred space with those landscapes in mind, inducing dreams of those landscapes - and otherwise visiting parts of the otherworld that resemble those landscapes, creating astral temple space that resembles those landscapes, etc.
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SunflowerP

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2015, 02:00:47 am »
Quote from: sionnachdearg;168921
I thought that the source Lebor Gabála Érenn (the book of invasions) is found in the Lebar na Núachongbála along with the Dindschenchas and the Táin Bó Cúailnge.


Yes, that is one of the sources.

Quote
I was under the impression that the Lebar na Núachongbála along with the Lebar na nUidre, the Leabhar Baile an Mhota, the Leabhar Mór Mhic Fhir Bhisigh, the Leabhar Buidhe Lecain and the Cath Maige Tuired were some of the sources to understand about Celtic myth and legend.

 
I'm a bit confused by this; I certainly wasn't implying that it wasn't. But if you're positing that the Fomorians were Norse raiders, you're positing a very late date (and one well after the Christianization of Ireland) for the events of the LGE. That doesn't seem unfeasible to me, though it doesn't appear to be a position taken by any of the major academic sources.

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Ponder

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2015, 03:16:30 am »
Quote from: Aett of Cups;168924
I so identify with this and have heard from so many others who identified with at least one of the points you're making.  The absence of the divine feminine, the imbalanced view of nature, the suppression of curiosity - I, personally, think these are some of the strongest reasons that Christianity seems to be losing so many adherents (in the western world, anyway).

As to the divine feminine, I think some of that need (if there is such a need; there might but, but I'm not convinced it's universal) is sated by the Mother of God, the blessed Virgin Mary. Of course, Mary is a creature, at least in theory, but she is still the object of intense religious devotion, not just for Catholics, but for most Orthodox and not a few Protestant Christians. Functionally, it is tempting to call her a goddess. This is lacking in American 'evangelical' Christianity, but I don't think American evangelicals represent western Christendom.

I don't know what an imbalanced view of nature entails, because I don't know what you think a balanced view would be. I do know that many Christians in the west are concerned with stewardship of the environment, as they call it. Some Christians seem to disregard the environment just as a consequence of their faith in the power of big business and unrestrained capitalism. Personally I'm a social democrat, so I have little reason to feel that way.

'Suppression of curiosity' is the most puzzling thing for me. St Anselm of Canterbury, one of the most influential western Christian theologians, held to the motto fides quaerens intellectum - 'faith seeking understanding.' The first mind to conceive of the Big Bang, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. Hugely fruitful work in biblical studies and theology has been done by devout Christian scholars (Richard Hays, N.T. Wright, Brevard Childs, Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, to name a few) - and many of those people are or were quite active in their churches. N.T. Wright is even a retired Anglican bishop. Others (Richard Swinburne, Peter Van Inwagen, Alvin Plantinga, et al.) have instead made strides in philosophy. Swinburne is a British Orthodox Christian. Plantinga is American and Reformed, and his denomination in particular, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, has something of a reputation for producing impressive Christian thinkers. The old Unitarians were often fierce and questioning rationalists, and their descendants, the Unitarian Universalist Assocation, are pretty much the opposite of curiosity-suppressing. On a broader level, whenever I think about 'curiosity' or 'innovation', the first thing that comes to mind is the emerging church. All of this is to say that 'suppression of curiosity' is not some sort of defining characteristic of western Christianity.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2015, 03:22:44 am by Ponder »

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2015, 04:40:56 am »
Quote from: Ponder;168948
'Suppression of curiosity' is the most puzzling thing for me. St Anselm of Canterbury, one of the most influential western Christian theologians, held to the motto fides quaerens intellectum - 'faith seeking understanding.' The first mind to conceive of the Big Bang, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. Hugely fruitful work in biblical studies and theology has been done by devout Christian scholars (Richard Hays, N.T. Wright, Brevard Childs, Karl Barth, Jürgen Moltmann, to name a few) - and many of those people are or were quite active in their churches. N.T. Wright is even a retired Anglican bishop. Others (Richard Swinburne, Peter Van Inwagen, Alvin Plantinga, et al.) have instead made strides in philosophy. Swinburne is a British Orthodox Christian. Plantinga is American and Reformed, and his denomination in particular, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, has something of a reputation for producing impressive Christian thinkers. The old Unitarians were often fierce and questioning rationalists, and their descendants, the Unitarian Universalist Assocation, are pretty much the opposite of curiosity-suppressing. On a broader level, whenever I think about 'curiosity' or 'innovation', the first thing that comes to mind is the emerging church. All of this is to say that 'suppression of curiosity' is not some sort of defining characteristic of western Christianity.

 
I would include John Polkinghorne, theoretical physicist and Anglican priest.

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2015, 11:35:07 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;168946
Yes, that is one of the sources.


 
I'm a bit confused by this; I certainly wasn't implying that it wasn't. But if you're positing that the Fomorians were Norse raiders, you're positing a very late date (and one well after the Christianization of Ireland) for the events of the LGE. That doesn't seem unfeasible to me, though it doesn't appear to be a position taken by any of the major academic sources

Sunflower

 
Actually I think there is some evidence that they may be a connection between the inhabitants of Norway/Scandinavia  the same although the word Norse may have too modern of a word for the Fomorians just as Vikings would be inappropriate in a time frame. The possibility that The people living in the lands now considered Scandinavia would come into conflict with the inhabitants of what is now Ireland is very possible. In the tale of the Fomorians during King Nuada of the sliver hand there is reference that the Fomorians came from lochlann which appears to be a reference to the people coming from the lochs/fiords and could represent those from Norway or the Islands in between. There are some interesting investigations of ancient Irish families like the Mac Leods  have a Norwegian origin including some genetic testing. I understand that absolute proof is not possible but I find it fascinating to consider that the different inhabitants of Ireland including the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Danann may have been the different ancestors of Ireland with god like aspects attributed to them in an oral tradition.
These are just some thoughts of mine one interpreting the Mythical cycle as a reverence to Ancestors who enter the sidh. The sidh would be where your ancestors go along with the other spirits of the land.

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2015, 03:11:36 am »
Quote from: sionnachdearg;169250
Actually I think there is some evidence that they may be a connection between the inhabitants of Norway/Scandinavia  the same although the word Norse may have too modern of a word for the Fomorians just as Vikings would be inappropriate in a time frame. The possibility that The people living in the lands now considered Scandinavia would come into conflict with the inhabitants of what is now Ireland is very possible. In the tale of the Fomorians during King Nuada of the sliver hand there is reference that the Fomorians came from lochlann which appears to be a reference to the people coming from the lochs/fiords and could represent those from Norway or the Islands in between. There are some interesting investigations of ancient Irish families like the Mac Leods  have a Norwegian origin including some genetic testing. I understand that absolute proof is not possible but I find it fascinating to consider that the different inhabitants of Ireland including the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Danann may have been the different ancestors of Ireland with god like aspects attributed to them in an oral tradition.
These are just some thoughts of mine one interpreting the Mythical cycle as a reverence to Ancestors who enter the sidh. The sidh would be where your ancestors go along with the other spirits of the land.

 
Interesting idea, but I must concur with SunflowerP regarding the timeline issue.  There's simply no archaeological evidence to support the Norse reaching Ireland before the Gaels.  That said, there is definitely evidence of habitation of Ireland prior to the Gaelic Celts, and likely it was those people were the Tuatha De Danann (the Godhood of said people could be debated forever).

As far as the Sidh/Sithe goes, they are the domain of the Sidhe who were those of the Tuatha De Danann that refused to abide the agreement the Danann made with Humans and went into the ground rather than ascend.  From a theological standpoint it's highly unlikely that a race of spirit-forms that have made almost their entire existence about getting humans dead (the life's work of the Sidhe) would welcome the spirits their most hated enemies.  Immediately post-dead the spirits of man go to Tech Duinn, and from there most cross the western ocean to the lands of the dead (Tir Na nOg, Tir Nam Beo, etc) and some spirits return to the living. (If I've totally misinterpreted your post, please forgive me)

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2015, 08:35:52 am »
Quote from: Darkstone;169320
As far as the Sidh/Sithe goes, they are the domain of the Sidhe who were those of the Tuatha De Danann that refused to abide the agreement the Danann made with Humans and went into the ground rather than ascend.  From a theological standpoint it's highly unlikely that a race of spirit-forms that have made almost their entire existence about getting humans dead (the life's work of the Sidhe) would welcome the spirits their most hated enemies.  Immediately post-dead the spirits of man go to Tech Duinn, and from there most cross the western ocean to the lands of the dead (Tir Na nOg, Tir Nam Beo, etc) and some spirits return to the living. (If I've totally misinterpreted your post, please forgive me)


I think you're treating the Lebor Gabala as a book of Irish myths, which it is not. It's a pseudo-history incorporating scraps of half-remembered myth. Figuring out which bits were part of the pagan mythology and which bits were made up by the authors or borrowed from other sources (such as the Bible) is not easy, but it's very unlikely the pagan Irish ever had a myth in which humans defeated the gods and then made any sort of deal with them.

The Lebor Gabala never says anything about the Tuatha De Danann ascending- it says they all went down into the Sidh mounds. It also says the Tuatha de Danann and the Fomorians are the same thing. It also says Nuadu of the Silver Hand was a Milesian. It is a mess, and shouldn't be taken too literally.

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2015, 11:26:20 am »
Quote from: Gilbride;169321
The Lebor Gabala never says anything about the Tuatha De Danann ascending- it says they all went down into the Sidh mounds. It also says the Tuatha de Danann and the Fomorians are the same thing. It also says Nuadu of the Silver Hand was a Milesian. It is a mess, and shouldn't be taken too literally.


But if someone went through a lot of trouble and thought to synthesize tradition with whatever was being adapted at the time, wouldn't there be continuity editors? You'd think someone would consider that important! :p

Seriously, though, "pseudo-history incorporating scraps of half-remembered myths" somehow doesn't disqualify it as a myth to me because I can't think of a mythos right now that doesn't or could never fit that description.
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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2015, 05:32:55 pm »
Quote from: Gilbride;169321
It's a pseudo-history incorporating scraps of half-remembered myth.

 
That pretty much describes all mythology.

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Re: Trying to understand what it means to be a pagan.
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2015, 08:42:36 pm »
Quote from: Darkstone;169334
That pretty much describes all mythology.

 
Yes and no.

Yes on the broader level, which is why mythology cannot be treated as recounting factual truth (history), but rather the cosmic truths of its culture.

And, at a more specific level, no. The LGE is an instance of early nationalistic* pseudohistory, intended to support a unified identity of Irishness (rather than tribal or regional identity) - still mythic truth rather than fact, but not really cosmic (the cosmic truths of the place/time were Christian, however much the narratives used might, or not, have once represented cosmic truths for the various components of the Irish cultural milieu). Nationalistic pseudohistories were quite fashionable around that time; other instances are Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and the Prose Edda generally attributed to Snorri Sturluson.

(*Or possibly 'proto-nationalistic', since the concepts of 'nation' and 'nationalism' as we know them didn't come into play until much later; the unities being built were not 'nations' in the modern sense - but the process is similar.)

While that's also true of many earlier 'origin story of our people' parts of mythology, those were typically part of the overall religio-cultural fabric of that people: cosmic and mythic truth are effectively synonymous. The medieval proto-nationalistic origin myths, by contrast, were set against a backdrop of Christian cosmology (and often included intentional grafting onto a Greco-Roman historical tree).

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