Keltria Journal #43 – From the Editor

The following is the complete text of "From the Editor" from Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue.  This issue is available in its entirety from MagCloud


From the Editor

Photo of Tony Taylor

Tony Taylor, Editor
Keltria Journal

When I was young, my ideas regarding heroes were ill considered. Micky Mantle and Roger Maris were great ball players, but they really weren’t true heroes. By the time I reached the “age of reason,” I realized that a hero is someone who lives with integrity and teaches with both words and actions – not merely a celebrity.

The character that came the closest to fulfilling my idea of a hero was Paladin of the series “Have Gun Will Travel.” He had a classy, even an aristocratic air; and yet, he was never condescending. He always distinguished right from wrong, and was never mean or spiteful. Snobs and bigots were distasteful to him and he always helped the exploited or downtrodden. Paladin’s religious proclivities were decidedly nebulous, although he demonstrated knowledge and acceptance of all religions. First airing in the late 1950’s, this program’s scripts were conceived long before the era of “political correctness,” and yet Paladin quoted Kahlil Gibran even though I noted Gibran was a personage of the 20th century and not the 19th. The fact that Richard Boone, who played the part, had a physical resemblance to my much-admired grandfather impressed me as well.

When I began on the path of Celtic spirituality and Druidism, I found that many of the Celtic heroes and heroines share characteristics with Paladin. They often displayed their human aspects in that they didn’t always act heroically. When they didn’t it was usually because some sort of geis has been laid upon them. The ancient Celtic heroes’ actions should demonstrate how to act and react to situations with honor.

Read the heroic stories in Celtic mythology, particularly Cú Chulainn’s and Finn’s stories, and consider whether they behave as true heroes or are they acting without honor? Do the gods teach them lessons? Would Paladin be proud of them?

About this issue

Cover -- Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #43

Welcome to Issue 43 of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magic. The theme of this issue is Celtic Heroes and Heroines.

I have often read stories of the Bards of old satirizing kings and royalty effectively destroying their reputations. Although clear examples of that skill are few and far between, Jenne Micale draws our attention to the stories of Briciu, an ancient anti-hero. Bricriu may certainly be thought of as the original “jerk” as Jenne shows us in “Just Saying: Satirists as Catalysts and (Anti) Heroes.”

Jenne’s poem, “Leborcham lies to Conchobar,” pairs well with her article illustrating that what may seem to be lies are really truth.

Sharynne MacLeod NicMhacha encourages us to understand the many roles of women in Celtic society in her article, “Druidess, Priestess, Poet & Seer: Women’s Historical Roles in Celtic Religion.” From the treacherous Cartimandua and the fierce warrior Boadicea, to the gentle herbalists, “Druidess, Priestess, Poet & Seer” provides insight to Celtic women and their place in Celtic society.

Cover - Keltria Journal #42

Keltria Journal #42

Steven Posch is a well-known storyteller in the Midwest. I have known him Steven since the mid 1980’s. When I received the interview, “Our Plow, It Is Made of the White Quicken Tree,” I was pleased to include it in this issue. This interview was originally submitted for inclusion with our “Storytelling” issue (#42); however, because the interview is so focused upon Yule and “wassail,” I decided to wait until this issue, which is much closer to Yule. Johnny Deer is Steven’s alter ego and fulfills the role of interviewer. Steven, like Jenne, also has included a poem, “Plowman’s Wassail,” which can be sung to a traditional tune.

Cú Chulainn and Finn are, arguably, the greatest of the Celtic Heroes. Saigh Kym Lambert leads us through a comparison and a contrast between these two heroes in “The Heroes Betwixt and Between.”

Please send your thoughts and opinions regarding this issue, future themes, or other comments to letterstotheeditor@keltria.org.

-tt


Cover of Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick -- Issue #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #43 -- The Heroes Issue.  Is available in its entirety from MagCloud.

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From the Editor – Keltria Journal #42

Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick - Issue #42

From the Editor - Tony Taylor

Tony preparing for a handfasting.

Tony preparing for a handfasting.

When I think about spring and summer all sorts of wonderful activities come to mind. Weddings, festivals, conferences, and eisteddfods all contribute to the excitement of these seasons.  The contributions of those who follow the bardic path enhance all these activities and are an important part of Keltria. For example, during Keltrian weddings and handfastings, we often practice the art of storytelling as part of the ceremony. It is great fun and enjoyed by everyone assembled. We weave the usually mundane story of couple’s meeting into a Celtic wonder tale completely blown out of proportion and peppered with innuendo. For example, the bride is the not so-helpless-princess and the groom is a knight who rescues her anyway. The “best woman” and “best man” tell the story then dissolve into an argument as to whether or not the groom is worthy of the bride and vice versa.

With hands on hips, the best man paces back and forth critically eyeing the bride while extolling and exaggerating the virtues of the groom. The groom is subjected to the same scrutiny by the best woman. Each attempts to top the other’s story. These tall tales always contain a bit of truth, as a Celtic boast should. For example, in reality the bride may have cooked a roast beef dinner for her family, but the boast might be that she single-handedly slaughtered the last aurochs when it threatened the tribe. She ate its heart, which gave her the beast’s strength and bravery. Then, she cooked the carcass in a huge cauldron, cast by her own hands, which fed her entire tribe for many days. Ultimately, the dueling duo agree they will allow the wedding to proceed and heartily shake hands.

At gatherings, and particularly at eisteddfod, there is a time and a place for the bards assembled to tell stories and enthrall the audience with their skills. We appreciate the opportunity these events provide us to hone our storytelling abilities.


Cover - Keltria Journal #42

Keltria Journal #42

The theme for this issue of Keltria Journal is storytelling. The authors come from a variety of backgrounds and share different perspectives. We begin with Jenne Micale, who, like many of us, comes from a family that did not speak of their history. She carries us along on her personal journey of discovery.

Isolde Carmondy and Chris Thompson, the Story Archaeologists, lead us through three different tales of the past demonstrating why telling the stories of places (dindshenchas) is important today. They emphasize that tales of time and place provide a connection and continuity, which explains our place in the universe.

Daphne Bishop associates the authors and film makers of today, such as J. K. Rowling, J. R .R. Tolkin, and George Lucas, with ancient storytellers. She challenges us to modernize the ancient Celtic lessons, imbuing them with relevancy to our times, thereby keeping them alive.

Mary Gavan, a professional storyteller, describes the characteristics of an effective raconteur beyond the mere telling of the tale.  If we follow our personal convictions and succeed against all odds, we become the inspiration for the storytellers of the future. However, stories are more than just the content. The successful storyteller captivates the mind, body and the spirit of the audience, creating an aura of wonder.

Finally, in the 1990’s many members of the Henge of Keltria were actively creating new mythology. Inspired by “The Power of Myth” the idea of  “MYTH” (Make Yourself The Hero) Keltrians staged “cattle raids”  at several festivals. The concept was to capture participants’ “cattle icons”, i.e., stuffed toys, by making imaginative plans and implementing them using guile and skill rather than brute force. At the evening’s campfire, tales were told of the day’s exploits in the form of the Celtic boast.

The results were marvelous. Twenty years ago, Beltaine 1993, we published “Cattle Raids”, the first of several stories from “The Book of the Valley”, as an example of how a tale can grow in the telling to become a Celtic wonder tale.  Elements of truth weave through the story but Celtic exaggeration runs rampant.  The story is clearly among the “Best of Twenty Years Ago.” Enjoy.

Send your thoughts and opinions regarding this issue, future themes, or other comments to letterstotheeditor@keltria.org. Be sure to indicate if the letter is publishable.

Note: Keltria Journal Issue #42 is available on the Keltria Member Webpage until Issue #43 releases.