Celtic Creation

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Many cultures have a "creation myth" that explains how everything existing came into being, but the absense of a Celtic creation myth points to two possibilities: either they never had one or we have lost it. If we have lost it, then that assumes that the Christian scribes who copied down all our surviving myths found no value in it, despite their obsession with pagan lore. What is more probable than, is that the Celts never had one, and prefered to see the world a being eternal like their knotwork art they are famous for. One of the creation myths that' would be most in alignment with the Celtic and Druidic mind, is the Oran Mor.

Quiet— Eternal Quiet. Not even the sound of the restless, stirring, dark waters could be heard.

Then, a great spiraling strain of Melody moved across the endless waters. Subdued at first, then quickly gathering momentum until it reached a great crescendo.

And, then, there was Life!

But the Melody did not stop. It continued its song, filling all of Creation with its divine harmony. And so it continues today, for all those who listen.

The primordial myth of Creation, common to all people, tells of a mighty melody – the very breath of the primordial god – that sang Creation into existence. To the Celts it was known as the Oran Mór, "The Great Melody", a melody that did not cease with the initial creation, but goes on and on and on, inspiring Creation along its holy pilgrimage of giving and receiving blessing.

It is this primordial myth that, like a Celtic knot, weaves throughout the entire corpus of the Celtic mythos, knitting an interwoven, cohesive mythology. The Oran Mór, as the primordial "sea melody," flows through the myths and legends of submerged lands, mystical springs, life-giving cauldrons, and holy grails. As Wisdom it "fills the head," and gives meaning to the severed heads that so disturbed Caesar. It is the "creative melody," always creating, both in the hearer and in the one singing. It is the myth of Uaithne and Boand who bear the three strains of music: innocence, sorrow, and joy. It is The Song of the Three Cauldrons giving and receiving creative blessing in its song. The words of the song are as diverse as there are people to hear it; always taking their meaning from their divinely breathed sound, never from that design which we impose. The Oran Mór’s divine sound gives meaning to – no, creates – the Celtic languages. These are languages that provide us melodious words such as Cruithear, yr wyddor, and grammeria to role on our tongues and savor; words that have no import apart from the divine melody.

Ultimately, the divine song, as with Percival, gives form to, and rises up within us the basic question of Celtic myth— "Why do you suffer?" It is this question, this song, which interprets not only Celtic myth, but also Life!

The Oran Mór, as Celtic myth attests, is nothing more or less than the creative energy of the primordial god. Call the song "Grace." Here is the divine energy whose various numinous aspects are revealed not only in the Continental and the Insular gods of the Celts, but in Creation herself. The Oran Mór as the numinous music – energy – sings Creation into existence, and becomes the holy, mystical song of Life sang in the seasonal festivals and rituals of sovereignty of the Celtic peoples. It is this holy song of Creation that fills humankind and gives meaning to history, making mythical history objective. It is this song that drives us to pilgrimage and simultaneously brings about the hiraeth, that indescribable yearning for home. It is gorfoleddu in the midst of oppression.

The Oran Mór is still being sung today, but, alas, we live in an age that no longer hears, or even listens for, that primordial divine Melody of Creation. This is an age that serves up soul-less science and life-less religion, each noisily clamoring to be heard over the other. It is an age runctiously marked by fragmented, in your face, individualism, an individualism so tumultuous that it robs the Self of its very ease. No longer, in the discordant noise of this age, can the Great Melody be heard. If it is heard, ever so slightly, it is seldom recognized for what it is. All we hear is the contentious noise of conflicting "realities". And, thus, we wander restlessly with a sorely dis-eased soul, through a clashing wilderness of antagonistic half-truths, each demanding to be heard as the Melody of Life.

In this fragmentation, we have lost our way, our holy nature, and have profaned the holiness of both Creation and the Creator. We have failed to live up to our potential as co-creators, with the divine, and in so doing have compounded the profanity and brokenness of a holy Creation. However, all is not lost. Deep within each of us lies a yearning for our lost (w)holiness. Thus, we discover our co-creative role within divinity, and with it, the holiness of Creation. We learn to ask the right question, which is simply, "Why do you suffer?"

There is however, one problem. We are incapable in our fragmented state to accomplish the quest on our own. We need a hero. It is when we find our hero – in truth, our divine nature with which we have been created that is within – and allow it to be our Advocate in a jointly fought struggle with suffering (and profanity) that we find holiness and with it our wholeness. Not merely a wholeness within This-World, but the original wholeness both within and between This-World and the Other-World. In other words, we re-enter into the One-World of Celtic Paradise.

To live sustainably, in the fullest sense of the word, we need to learn to live once again within the One-World of Celtic Paradise. To live sustainably demands the full participation of our senses. It is the Oran Mór, in Celtic myth, which gives vitality to the senses. For the Celt, as it is for us all, there are five senses: sights, touch, sound, taste and intuition. All are God-given, all are to be celebrated. It is, however, intuition, or The Sight (as the Celts know it), that rises from the "deeper nature" of the Oran Mór. For the Song has the uncanny ability to recognize herself as she is sung throughout Creation. It is in the recognition of herself that she (Oran Mór) stirs up within our being "The Sight." In hearing the Song being sung beyond us, the Song within wells up seeks herself. We might say that She seeks her original wholeness. And in the seeking the Song within makes our head/heart to hear the other, and in so doing, gives us "The Sight", or understanding, of that which is to come, that which has been, and that which is.

To live according to "The Sight" is not to live with one foot in This-world and the one foot in the Other-World, but to live as Celtic myth demonstrates with both feet simultaneously in both worlds. The Oran Mór assures us that which we need to do so is already within waiting to be heard and applied creatively. To do so is to begin to re-enter the One-World of Celtic Paradise.

Below are two creation myths said to be Celtic, though they may likely be written much after:

Celtic Creation Myth #1

Once upon a time, there was no time and that was when there also was no gods and no man walked the surface of the land. But there was the sea, and where the sea met the land, a mare was born, white and made of sea-foam. And her name was Eiocha. On the land, near where the land met the sea, a tree grew, a strong and sturdy oak. On the oak, grew a plant whose seeds were formed of the foam tears of the sea. To sustain her, Eiocha ate the seeds, these white berries, and they were transformed within her. Eiocha grew heavy with child and gave birth to the god, Cernunnos. So great was her pain in childbirth that she ripped bark from the one tree and hurled it into the sea. The bark was transformed by the sea and became the giants of the deep.

Cernunnos was lonely and he saw the giants of the deep who were numerous, so he coupled with Eiocha and of their union came the gods, Maponos, Tauranis, and Teutates, and the goddess, Epona. Eiocha soon tired of the land, being a creature of sea-foam, and she returned the sea, where she was transformed into Tethra, goddess of the deep water, sometimes called Tethys.

The gods and goddess were lonely for they had none to com- mand nor none to worship them. The gods and goddess took wood from the one oak tree and fashioned the first man and the first woman.

Cernunnos also made other animals from the one oak tree, the deer and the hound, the boar and the raven, the hare and the snake. He was god of the animals, and he commanded the oak tree to spread and grow, to be come a forest home for his children.

Epona also made animals, but she made only the horse, mare and stallion alike, in remembrance of Eiocha who was no more.

Teutates took limbs from the one tree, and fashioned a bow, arrows, and a club.

Tauranis took limbs from the one tree, and fashioned thunderbolts made of fire and noise. He would leap to the top of the tallest trees and hurl his weapon at the ground. The ground would shake, the grass would burn, and the ani- mals would run in fear

Maponos also took limbs from the one tree, but he fashioned not a weapon but a harp. He stretched strings of the winds from its limbs and spent his days in Cernunnos' forest. The winds would join in the melodies, and the birds as well. And all Cernunnos' animals would come from near and far to hear Maponos play.

The giants of the deep saw the gods and goddess happy on the land, and the giants were jealous, for they had none to com- mand nor none to worship them. So the giants plotted against the gods; they would overwhelm them with the sea and take the land under the water. But Tethra in the deep sea heard the murmuring of the giants in the waves and she remembered her days as Eiocha and so she warned her sons and daughter. The gods were prepared the day the giants came against them.

The gods took refuge in the one oak tree. Tauranis hurled his thunderbolt and split the land, and the sea overflowed its boundaries. Maponos broke the sky and hurled it at the giants. Teutates' deadly aim with the bow and arrows from the one oak tree cut down many of the giants. The giants of the deep were not without weapons; they had the strength of the waves.

The gods overwhelmed the giants, but could not destroy them. The giants of the deep were driven back into the sea, and Tethra bound them in the deep waters. But a few escaped Tethra and fled far from her reach. They called themselves the Fomor, and built a life on the outer edges of the world. But the Fomor dreamed of conquest, and vowed to once again take the land from the gods. Of their later battles, our histories tell us much.

The sea returned to its bed and Maponos repaired the sky. And the gods looked for Epona as she had been absent from the victory. Epona had rescued one man and one woman from the watery and fiery destruction, and the three of them waited deep in Cernunnos' forest. From this man and this woman Epona saved would come our mighty people. The gods and the goddess left the deep of Cernunnos' forest and re- turned to their home near the one tree of oak which still stood strong and sturdy, and the sacred berries where still white as sea-foam.

Where the fiery pieces of the heavens Maponos had torn from the sky had mingled with the waters of the sea, there were born new gods. The god Belenus and his sister Danu sprang from where the heavenly fire had been but little quenched. The god Lir sprang from where the waters of the sea had al- most quenched the fire of heaven. From Lir, as the histo- ries tell, there would come the mighty Manannan, the beautiful Branwen, the wise Bran. But from Danu many chil- dren would come, the Dagda, Nuadha of the Silver Hand, the wise Dienceght, the smith Goihbhio, the fearsome Morrigan, the gentle Brighid. The Children of Danu and the Children of Lir are the two mighty races our songs tell of, ever opposite.

Celtic Creation Myth #2

The giants are the gods of old. The world was made from giants, in the first winter. A mighty giant was created from hoarfrost. And when fire came, he melted. From the enormous bulk of his body came the worlds. From his blood flowed the sea, from his bones the mountains, from his hair the forests, from his skull the sky. And from his lashes, covering the eyes that beheld all was fashioned the Earth. In the centre of the Earth, on hills rising high as mountains, live the gods, and below seethes the Underworld, land of the dead and all their secrets.

Passed on through spoken language, the Celts do not have a specific creation myth; rather, they begin their history with the settling of Ireland. Ireland was invaded by five successive waves of people.

The first wave was the Partholonians. Partholon, his wife Dealgnaid, and their companions landed in the western province of Munster on Beltaine. Ireland was already inhabited by the Fomorians, thought to represent the ancient, evil Irish gods. The Fomorians were driven out to the north, where they returned periodically to plague the successive invaders. The Partholonians did a great deal to develop Ireland, building the first building as well as clearing four plains and forming seven lakes in addition to the one plain and three lakes Ireland possessed at the time. Unfortunately, all the Partholonians except one, Tuan mac Cairill, were killed in an outbreak of the plague.

The next wave was the Nemedians. They also landed in the west and fought the Fomorians, winning three battles with them. After these battles, they too were struck with the plague, and the Fomorians took advantage of the weakness of the Nemedians to demand heavy tribute. Eventually the Nemedians rose against the Fomorians and demanded freedom or battle; in the ensuing battle, they defeated the Fomorians. It is not clear whether they were all killed as well or whether they left the island, but after that battle the Nemedians no longer lived in Ireland.

Two hundred years after the Nemedians' battle, the Fir Bolg arrived in Ireland from Greece. The Fir Bolg divided Ireland into five provinces, Connacht, Ulster, Leinster, and two Munsters, and were the first Irish people to establish a kingship and administration of justice.

The Tuatha de Danaan arrived next, on Samhain, and fought a great battle against the Fomorians. The Fomorian king, Balor, was killed, and the Fomorians were driven out of Ireland for the last time.

The Milesians lived in Spain until one of their princes sighted Ireland from a watchtower. He sailed to find it and there met the three Tuatha de kings, who became afraid that he would try to invade Ireland and killed him. His companions returned to Spain with his body, and the Milesians set sail to exact revenge. When they arrived, the three Tuatha de kings requested that they be left in peace for three days. Amergin, poet and Druid of the Milesians, agreed, and the Milesians withdrew their ships for three days while the Tuatha de prepared for battle. After the battle, the Tuatha de were defeated, and Amergin was given the task of dividing the land, and he gave the Tuatha de Danaan the land below the ground and the Milesians the land above. After this, the Tuatha de lived below the hills, and it is they who were turned into the legendary faerie folk of Ireland.

Wales has another, little known creation myth, that tells of a lake bursting, flooding all lands. Dwyfan and Dwyfach survived in a mastless ship with pairs of every living creature and landed in Prydain, now Britain.

From: http://library.thinkquest.org/03oct/00875/text/CelticC.htm http://celt.net/Celtic/Artisans/mills/oranmor.html - © Oran Mór and text, Frank Mills, 1998

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