Reply To: Here comes the sun, Lugh, Lughnasad, Danu

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Here comes the sun, Lugh, Lughnasad, Danu Reply To: Here comes the sun, Lugh, Lughnasad, Danu

#11358
Dowrgi
Participant

However, I did get some bear spray today to carry with me when I am walking in the VA state parks because we have black bears here and they can maul you and also climb trees. It is best not to upset the black bears, and not run, because then you become prey.

You certainly don’t want to get on the wrong side of a bear!

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly given its powerful nature and spirit, the word for bear in some Northern European language seems to have been a taboo/avoidance word, the “real” word being substituted by another one. A tradition of taboo words has existed among fisherfolk around the British Isles and Ireland right up until the present day and the words for some animals in Celtic languages might suggest a taboo word. The Germanic words for bear, including the English word, basically mean “the brown one”, the Scots Gaelic word for bear is mathan and although Irish Gaelic today seems to use béar, there is also the word mathúin from Old Irish mathgamain and math – possibly the “good one”. I think there’s also an Old Irish word for bear that means the “honey desirer” – another euphemism perhaps. The possible connections between bears and Arthur is also interesting given the Proto-Celtic *arto (bear). Welsh, Cornish and Breton don’t seem to have these euphemisms for the bear.

The words for hare also seem to be euphemisms and the Cornish word scovarnak, basically means “the long-eared one” – the same euphemism that fishermen use up to the present day since you must never mention hares, or rabbits, while on a boat! I believe the Shetland and Orkney Islands had a strong tradition of this right up until recent times. The reasons for the taboo are complex and today are probably seen just as superstitious ways of avoiding bad luck, but I think there may be a lot more to it than that. If we can trust Roman writers, the hare was mentioned as a sacred animal among the Britons. An old West Country tradition is that you should always salute a hare, doff your hat and thank him if you come across one, similar to how lone magpies should be saluted too. Another animal that I feel may have taboo connected to it is the otter, the Celtic words used today basically meaning “water hound” and the modern Welsh, Cornish and Breton words for wolf may not be Indo-European at all as their etymologies may be substrate. There’s a lot here to ponder.

In being a druid it is important not to let intellectual discourse come between you and what you simply believe about the celtic otherworld. You need to live your beliefs and be sure of them. Over intellectualizing on everything stops people from seeing the otherwold, and experiencing the spirit in trees and the energy flowing throughout the land.

Indeed, but we also need to make sure we don’t fill our heads with erroneous notions that could show us up for lacking knowledge. In the golden age of the bards of Ireland and Wales, no bard worth their salts would have been taken seriously had they got stuff wrong either. I don’t think traditions and ideas have to be old to be good nor are old ideas necessarily good because they are old, but it is important to get to the truth in terms of clarity – our motto is “the truth against the world”, let’s not forget that. Unfortunately, so much has been written about druids and druidry over the last few hundred years that it’s very often difficult to sort out what is genuine lore and what is someone’s speculation based on whatever the personal bias or political/religious fashion of the time was and of course, today, there has been a lot of commercialisation of “Celtic” culture too. As you allude to, the best way is your own revelation through your interaction with the universe and nature and I think that’s really the time when you have to empty the glass of all your notions and ideas, whatever they may be, so as to let the awen fill it again.

Bennathow
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