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- a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
- a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism





The CREATION MYTH in Neo-Druidic Liturgy



Bile / Toroidal Field Cosmogram
(c) 2011 Earrach of Pittsburgh


The Creation Myth

.
Who are we?
From whence do we come?
What is the story of Our People?
.
Not hard... 
.
A great misty cloud had gathered together in the void
Swirling and spiraling; spiraling and swirling
Drawing ever-in upon itself.

At its center a radiance shone forth
And drove outward the surrounding cloud
gathering the waters together here below.

And so it was that the stuff of creation drew apart
To form the Fire Above
And the Waters Below.

The Solar Fire warmed the Cauldron of Creation
And stroked upon its waters with thunderbolts
And begat upon it Life.

And the Life begat the Creatures
And the Creatures begat the Ancestors
And the Ancestors begat Us; the Living People.

Upright, like you, Great Tree,
We bear upon us the mark of Creation
Then, now, and for all time.

Rooted in the ancestral waters of the World Below,
Spanning this Middle-World of form
And reaching ever-upward to embrace the Fire Above.

--(c) 1995 Earrach of Pittsburgh--



About that "Creation Myth"

     Who are we?
     From whence do we come?
     What is the story of our people?

Around the fire, who among our folk speaks the story of our origins?

Virtually everyone knows the biblical story of the six days of creation and of the first man and woman and their fall from paradise. As Westerners we have grown up in a culture strongly affected by the creation myth of the dominant religion of our people. The function and effect within a culture of having a story of how things came-to-be may be one of the main traditional factors that helps a people define themselves.

Oddly enough, with a broader historical view we probably wouldn’t hesitate to list Romans, Greeks and Norse as “Westerners” also, wouldn’t we? So it seems that the “current” dominant religion dictates the creation-story of a people, independent of the regional heritage that came together to provide the largest part of a culture’s heritage. Certainly those earlier cultures themselves were strongly affected by imported philosophies and folkways as well yet the prevailing religious leadership in their times decided what the state or tribal story was and how it should be told and preserved for future generations.

Sometimes the creation stories of a people overlap as a new religion or cultural paradigm arrives and is accepted by the people (or is forced-upon them). For all the media attention given to Christian Fundamentalism in recent years, we can hardly consider the Genesis story to be our culture’s sole or “primary” creation myth any longer. Much to the Fundamentalists’ chagrin, the 6th grade science teacher is actually now the tribal grandfather with the sacred office of bestowing our current “true” origins-story to our children. This never could have happened without the active application of the principle of the separation of church and state. (Bless you Tom Jefferson; long may your words and ideas live!)

A creation myth still is not a part of the “official” structure of an ADF rite but I incorporated ours early in our grove’s history because, as I initially struggled with the structure and intention in Isaac’s design, I sought clarification from one of the main sources of his inspiration: the works of Mircea Eliade*. Eliade’s works are full of the creation stories of world cultures, ancient and contemporary, and over and over he shows us how very important a people’s sense of their origins is to the way and the why of how they worship. Recalling the structure of the world and the retelling and re-enacting of the story of its origins seemed to Eliade to be a fundamental motif in religious rituals from virtually all cultures, and particularly those of the Indo Europeans.

Ahhh… so that was what Isaac meant by the “Reconstruction of the Cosmos”! Yes, and then it became clear why it belonged right there, between the establishment of sacred space and the opening the gates to the other worlds and spirits… Of course. But something was missing… even later Ian’s revision of plugging-in the veneration of Fire, Well and Tree almost did it but still it seemed to me the people needed the story to show why that pattern is important and the story – The Story itself, needed to be told: it needed to be recalled and shown to be holy-in-itself and crucial to our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. And, per Eliade, it needed to be told to the folk, over and over, with regularity.

A Creation Story, authentically "ours"
I wanted then a story that was not exclusively Neopagan, but rather, I wanted a story that was inclusive-of or at least resonant with many elements of western mythic tradition and yet I also insisted that it be point for point in agreement with the sacred teaching handed down to me by my tribal elders in the suburban schoolhouse science-classroom.

To tell the tale of how our world came to be I do not think it necessary to reach back 14 billion years to the "Big Bang" from whence –all- things seem to have proceeded. No, the story of how the Sun and Earth came to be and eventually how they fostered the development of Life; yes that’s "our" story...

Ours is the story of the birth of the Sun and its children, 
the Solar System... the origin of our Holy Mother Earth…
- (c) 2005 Earrach of Pittsburgh

 * Of Eliade's works, particularly:  
The Sacred and the Profane  –and-  The Myth of the Eternal Return

The Creation Myth, annotated...

 

"Who are we? From whence do we come?"
"What is the story of Our People?"
- In the traditional mode of the Filid bards of old Ireland we begin our story exactly as a great number of tales and ancient dialogues began, with a question and the simple perennial retort:

“Not hard...”

I.

"A great misty cloud had gathered together in the void
Swirling and spiraling; spiraling and swirling
Drawing ever-in upon itself."
- The proto-solar nebula did begin to swirl in the icy blackness some 5 or 6 billion years ago. Largely composed of hydrogen it also it contained a small percentage of the complex heavier elements which only are created in old dying stars; the very elements you are made of. In the Eddas,  the Northern folk knew it as “Ginnungagap”, “the yawning void”, filled with a frigid, rimy mist, begotten by the admixture of the primal fire and ice cast into it. Planetary scientists say that water ice is one of the primary constituents of the material which formed the planets; “dirty” ice, that is.   See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6968724.stm

II.

"At its center a radiance shone forth
And drove outward the surrounding cloud
gathering the waters together here below."
- The bulk of the rotating proto-solar cloud gathered itself together into a disc and at the hub of this cloud of infalling debris soon there had gathered a huge and increasingly dense ball of protostar-stuff. It was so dense that it’s interior warmed from compression. Eventually the density was so great that the core temperature had reached hundreds of millions of degrees and the pressure now was enough for hydrogen nuclei to fuse in a thermonuclear reaction. The new star, our Sun, began to shine. The very outward pressure of that radiance began to push the rings and shells of gas and ice and debris away from the Sun and this contributed greatly to the coalescing of these proto-planetary “rings” into balls… planets.

III.

"And so it was that the stuff of creation drew apart
To form the Fire Above
And the Waters Below."
- The first polar differentiation in our set of universal cosmic symbols is here suggested and reinforced. We place the waters and ground “below” us - and the fiery solar-center above us. We “find our feet”, and as we do, a pattern, a vertically aligned cosmogram begins to take shape.

IV.

"The Solar Fire warmed the Cauldron of Creation
And stroked upon its waters with thunderbolts
And begat upon it Life."
- A billion years go by and the Sun and the Solar System now have settled into a series of forms relatively familiar to us now. The Earth has cooled enough for the oceans to cover most of her surface and the atmosphere undergoes a series of changes which make the scene set for the greatest mystery of all to commence. Here is a metaphor echoing an illustration found in a thousand textbooks which shows modern scientists trying to emulate the “primordial soup” and then firing electrical discharges through it, they find the result they’d hoped for, a series of extraordinarily long molecules, hydrocarbons: the building blocks of life.

V.

"And the Life begat the Creatures
And the Creatures begat the Ancestors
And the Ancestors begat Us; the Living People."

- To quote one of the great voices of the 20th century:
      “Evolution is not a theory; it is a fact… 
        It is simply the way things happen.”        – Carl Sagan in Cosmos.

And was strangely affirmed by Pope John Paul II's own statement:
"...new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory. "

You and I are children of the Ancestors. They were children of the Creatures of old. And the Creatures were the children of the first Life. You might say we were made from the very dust at our feet. And that dust was made in the hearts of stars that died billions of years before our sun was born. What greater heritage could one possibly want?

VI.

"Upright, like you, Great Tree,
We bear upon us the mark of Creation
Then, now, and for all time."
- We recall the verticality of our model of the world and here insert the tree image at the same moment we are reminded of its similarity to our own form, each itself an echo of the pattern of our cosmic origins.

VII.

"Rooted in the ancestral waters of the World Below,
Spanning this Middle-World of form
And reaching ever-upward to embrace the Fire Above."
- And at last, we link it firmly with our contemporary system, itself based on ancient traditions of the Indo European peoples yet similar to traditions from around the world. This is who we are, from where, and why.

-© 2005 Earrach of Pittsburgh-

3 comments:

  1. The only problem i see is it is of only the physical realm and though it is very modern it should have more humanity in its model

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dont mean to criticize. I just thought it good to have more spirit.

      Delete
  2. That's probably a general characteristic of my personal spirituality.
    You can see what I mean on:
    http://thebookofsassafras.blogspot.com/2011/05/druidism-and-spirit-of-nature.html
    ( particularly in its final line ). - EARRACH

    ReplyDelete