…I’ve elaborated several times, then several times more about the magic and beauty that resides within the Celtic language and its music… my formative teens were spent living and WURKING in Tobermory on God’s Gift of an island, Mull, in the Scottish Hebrides... my immersion in the local community and the Gaelic tongue brought immense pleasure, including a sheaf of medals in solo singing at the An Comunn Gaidhealach’s National Mods… comes now this terrific post from my dear friend, 2ndwitch… enjoy…
It is so easy to take things for granted. Reading, for example. We read stories, poems, factual books, all sorts and combinations . . . but how often do we stop when reading to think about the origins of the words in front of us?
This has been brought home to me these last three months. I am English, born in Lancashire (and in some ways very proud of my heritage), but I have lived north of the border for over half my life, and these last months I have been studying Scottish literature, including a module called ‘The Gaelic Legacy’. I do not have the Gaelic, and much as I would love to learn I suspect I am now too old and too inflexible to change that now, but this module, led by the Gaelic poet and academic, Meg Bateman, has been fascinating.
So much of the beliefs of Gaeldom were ahead of their time. They believed in a round earth at a time when it was ‘known’ to be flat, they revered women, they held their bards in high esteem, and most of all, they showed understanding of and respect for the earth and nature in all that they did. Many places and rivers are named for various goddesses – such as Banff, Loch Earn, Dee, Don, Tay etc, and many features in the landscape and hills are named after parts of a woman’s body – Cailleach, Mam etc.
The poetry of the bards down the centuries tells the history of the Highlands, it reflects the politics and exploitation of the glens, the clearances and the raping of the land. The stories of Lewis Grassic Gibbon are rooted in the land, in nature, as are Edwin Muir’s writing, George Mackay Brown’s and so many others. And perhaps most of all, the poetry of Sorley MacLean, that is clothed in the Gaelic Legacy but when so clad can stride across Europe and further afield.
And as Meg herself has written, “In Gaelic culture we have the remnants of primal understanding of man’s place in nature.” I think we need to look hard at the Gaelic Legacy, it has a lot to teach us!
… many thanks, 2ndwitch… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!
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