Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why it's lore, not holy writ

It's a good thing Celtic Reconstructionists know better than to take every word written by the monks who wrote about pagan Ireland seriously. Otherwise, we'd have to buy into this segment from The Life of Adamnan and ask ourselves some odd questions:

Cumalach was a name for women till Adamnan come to free them. And this was the cumalach, a woman for whom a hole was dug at the end of the door so that it came over her nakedness. The end of the great spit was placed upon her till the cooking of the portion was ended. After she had come out of that earth-pit she had to dip a candle four man's hands in length in a plate of butter or lard; that candle to be on her palm until division of food and distribution of liquor and making of beds, in the houses of kings and cheiftains, had ended. That women had no share in bag or in basket, nor in the company of the house-master; but she dwelt in a hut outside the enclosure, lest bane from sea or land should come to her chief.

But it's easy when it's obviously propaganda and not the subtler workings, such as some of the odd encodings in the myths. I still wonder if anyone who wants to recreate the "real" old ways will ever be caught taking this one seriously.

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