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Tami Whitehead
poet


Joined: 28 Sep 2002
Posts: 41
Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2002 3:29 am    Post subject: Grave Greetings Reply with quote

Hello all...
I hope this board/list takes off. I was very excited to find a Robert Graves list, and have hopes of discussing this and that...I was intrigued by Mark's questions about Graves' sources, and would love to see that topic explored more specifically. My own interest and love of Graves centers on his works on mythology, and his approach to it, very refreshing in a world dominated by Jungian archetypes and collective unconscious...

The White Goddess is of particular interest to me, alphabets and calenders being a bit of a hobby. If anyhone is out there, how about some discussion?

Waiting is...
Tami
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Mark Carter
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Joined: 01 Jun 2002
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Location: Bloomington, IL, USA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2002 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Tami,

Glad to see another sane person replying to the board. It has been my experience that good, intelligent debates over White Goddess are usually hijacked by the fringe element and turned into discussions of subjective experiences while reading the book. Rolling Eyes Not that I am against this. I myself am one of the modern neo-pagans who sprang up in the book's wake, but I still like the historical side of it just as much.

As far as exploring the topic more specifically I've been doing that in my spare time for a while now. I'm actually working on a book about the sources behind White Goddess and the impact the book has had on the modern neo-pagan community. It's been a strange trip so far. As I often point out, I'm no professor. With just a high school education I never thought I would be pondering 5th cent. Irish inscriptions or hunting down books I can't pronounce. I often wonder if I am the right man for the job, but I don't see anyone else doing it. Most pagans I know don't have the education for it and those who do have the education like to downplay the impact White Goddess has had on what many of them consider to be tree hugging hippies and occultists. Someone needs to bridge the gap.

So far I have a 88,000 word draft and it's not done yet. (Yes, I'm bragging. Wink ) I'm not sure exactly what to do with it when it's done. I've never attempted to publish a book before and I'm not a professional writer. A few people are interested in seeing the draft but only one of them is anyone with any sort of qualifications to pass judgement on it. An archaeologist friend of mine who specializes in Celtic archaeology has agreed to check it for historical errors. I hope there may be someone on this board willing to check it for any errors regarding Graves's biographical details. After that I guess I check out the legal side and make sure I can use the Graves quotes I've chosen. Then it's time to look for a publisher. I'm not sure it will be easy. The book has a rather limited appeal.

I'll stop here....I'm just ranting anyway. It's refreshing talking to another sane person actually interested in the story behind White Goddess.
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Tami Whitehead
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Joined: 28 Sep 2002
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Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2002 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Mark,
Thanks for your note. I wish you the best of luck with your endeavor. I too have noted the "subjective respones" you spoke of. Why do you think folks are so unwilling to look at myth and lore as anything but metaphor? I get excited when I see some obscure fact of society reflected in Grave's work. I guess I just want everyone else to get excited too.

I am curious about a statement you made, mentioning something about the impact of WG and Graves in general on the neo-pagan community...and forgive me if this sounds glib, but *has* there been an impact? I really don't know any neo-paganists, or other magic-users, who have read WG, let alone been impacted by it. I know several folks who have bought copies, but they don't read it generally, and say they don't get it, or it is too hard to read (pish-posh, say I, get a dictionary and muddle through!) I am truly interested to know if you have found folks that have indeed been impacted, or groups that have, what-not. Could you elaborate? (...note the subtle segue into a new discussion topic...)

Myself, terribly, irrevocably, impacted by Graves, WG, GM 1&2, Claudius etc...I was glad to have something less ephemeral than Campbell to bite into. I did a lot of side-line research into Grave's ogham alphabet, its elaborate system of associations--I have some ideas, and some questions. Does this fall within your area of interest, or are you focusing mainly on sources? My own copy of WG is in storage, all I have out are my notes, but I am going to dig out my old copy now that there are folks I can discuss it with...right now, I am swimming happily in GM 1&2, and have even more questions on a lot of things in it, and wonder if this forum is strictly for WG, or if we can delve a bit into his other non-fiction reference type books.


Tami
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ian
bard


Joined: 25 May 2002
Posts: 72
Location: Oxford, England

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2002 7:59 am    Post subject: other topics Reply with quote

Quote:
I am swimming happily in GM 1&2, and have even more questions on a lot of things in it, and wonder if this forum is strictly for WG, or if we can delve a bit into his other non-fiction reference type books.


Dear Tami,

Just say the word and I'll happily open up another topic.

Ian
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Tami Whitehead
poet


Joined: 28 Sep 2002
Posts: 41
Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2002 6:43 pm    Post subject: Giants, Giganti, Anakim Reply with quote

Thank you Ian. I'll take you up on your invitation, and throw out Titans and giants to begin with. In GM2, 117.3 Graves makes reference to the
giants, and possibly human ones, pointing to the 'Hamitic Watusi' in Africa as offshoots. OK. Then he says that the Anakim of Palestine and Caria belonged to this race.

Just picking this as a starting point, my first question is, just where did he get that information? Is it something commonly available to armchair scholars, is there a book I am supposed to know I am supposed to have? He is wonderful at citing all his sources for the actual myth in GM, but his commentary is very arcane sometimes.

OK. So a race, not a seperate branch of hominid. A race that apparantly still has some descendents around. Have there been any studies to follow up on this? Any dna profiling or carbon dating of giant human remains? Are seven foot tall people technically giants? Is this giant ancestral bones thing possibly, maybe, evidence of the disease called 'giganticism?' Our local sheriff has it, and he just keeps growing, bigger and taller, and they say that eventually his body won't be able to support itself. Am I way off track here?

He mentions the Anakim of Palestine and Caria, referring back to GM1, 88.3, which goes into greater detail about the Anakim in to the Bible, and suggests that they originally hailed from Crete or Greece.

Is there a connection between the Palestinian ( & Syrian?) Anakim, and the Annunaki, who judged Inanna in the Underworld?

Tami
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fell
gleeman


Joined: 07 Oct 2002
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2002 12:07 am    Post subject: [giants, etc], after a moment of greeting Reply with quote

Hello to everyone,

What a breath of fresh air the accidental discovery of this forum is. I was mildly searching for illustrators of Rabelais' works (apart from dear Gustave Doré, overdone and undergrown), when by whim I turned to look for criticisms of the White Goddess, don't ask me why. But why ask questions, when here you are.

Like many of you, I have never met a pagan who had read WG (for that matter, I have never met a scholar who had read WG) but they all (oh all of them) seem to own it (or conversely, seem to mock it). At one time I worked at a bookstore and recommended it to all and sundry, finding Joseph Campbell suited more their tired tastes. But it's like wanting to read Nabokov and settling for Amis instead. Granted, Campbell has some wonderful generalities, and he suits most, but after tasting of Graves (his randomness, his accidents), Campbell does not satisfy. He is a false rubber nose on a worn down statue and he needs to be usurped. But such is the need of society. Please join me in a sigh. Sigh.

I hope to add a little to the discussion, but this first topic of Giants and Titans requires more of me than mere flippancy can give. I'll read up and hope you all return again. I promise to be less formal in the future.

For pleasantries sake, I'll mention briefly a wonderful work that also affected me greatly. Jane Harrison's Prolegomena to Greek Religion. Delightful.

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Tami Whitehead
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Joined: 28 Sep 2002
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Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2002 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Fell, Thanks for stopping by.
you said:

Like many of you, I have never met a pagan who had read WG (for that matter, I have never met a scholar who had read WG) but they all (oh all of them) seem to own it (or conversely, seem to mock it). At one time I worked at a bookstore and recommended it to all and sundry, finding Joseph Campbell suited more their tired tastes.

So, it's not just me...that's good to know...I think. Yes, how about that? They all own it, have not read it, decry and dispute it, and start quoting Masks of God or something. It's weird. You know, I like Campbell, loved him until I discovered Graves. But it's like he's Mr. Rogers in a wonderful neighborhood, and he wants to be *your* neighbor. He's wonderful at giving one some basic skills, a vocabulary, and idea how it all works. But it's frustratingly lo-cal, half-caff, fat-free. Like in Dickens, "Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today!"



You said:
But such is the need of society. Please join me in a sigh. Sigh.


Sigh. What's up with all that? OK, I will not be bitter, I will not be bitter, I will not be bitter....

Just read a book already! Think about things themselves! Jeez, why can't they read Campbell and say, Really, how so? and actually pull out Pausanius and look it up? What is the wrong in that? Gods, I feel like a heretic, wanting to read the Holy Books myself...<<gasp-pant...gulp>>Sorry. I feel better. I'm ok. See Laughing

As for reading up before you jump in on the giants/titans thing, that's great, but you can just throw something out. Please do. I did, and no one has thrown anything at me yet...

Tami
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fell
gleeman


Joined: 07 Oct 2002
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2002 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good morning, Tami,

Given the option after little sleep of whether or not to do as I'm paid to do, or to think as I'm not paid to think, I think I'll take the latter. Let's see what this crumbling palace of a brain can toss off...

Graves mentions early in GM1 that the inhabitants of Crete are descendants of a group hailing from somewhere in Israel (can you tell the book is nowhere near me?). Early Jewish legends had it that the wandering children of Israel, puttering about in the desert, towered over 40 feet tall in some cases. The rabbi say (or Ginzburg says, at any rate) that if you were to drift off into the desert today, you could still pass beneath the bones of the millenia-dead grumblers, their upright knees like mantis arms forming arches beneath which to pass. Granted, phsycially the sons of guns couldn't be quite 40 ft tall, and we are all prone to magnify our ancestors a little ("No, honest, he really was the son of God" or "My mother was a Minotaur's love"), but given the possibility that either a) there were giants or b) a group of tall people lived around and struck awe in a group of little people, I'd say there is a definite avenue for serious thought.

But let's look at the role of giants in much of literature (fairy tale, legend, myth, popular song, picture puzzles and non-American films). Typically, like dragons or wizards, they are the antithesis of the hero, not to be praised, giant in vice as well as in form, usually greedy and gluttonous (can you blame a giant for eating men whole or a dozen sheep in one go?). And because a villain is always more interesting if the grotesque is involved ("holy hell, the bastard only has one eye!"), because a giant man may or may not have a tendency to eat the short peopleof this earth, because he could usually crush a tree even when arthritic on a cold December morning, he would certainly be a fantastic foe for Jack or Ulysses or David to kill. So, are giants mainly the construct of imaginations gone populous? I can imagine a family of little lizards, telling tales to one another around their little lizard hearth, about giant thunder lizards who roamed the earth and ruled and caused fear and the one little lizard named Lenny who defeated the mean big lizard with a flurry of feathers and chicken bones (though we know he'd be lying because chickens weren't invented yet). Even through the lies, though, there would be some hope that maybe, just maybe, those lizards existed. Then again, a family of lizards that lives only as a figment of my imagination is hardly basis for a logical argument. But if Aristotle could use Atlantis...

The cyclops (cyclopsi, cyclopses, kyklopes?), children of Poseidon, children of the raging sea, children of the maker of earthquakes, were giants. King Saul stood head and shoulders above any other man in Israel. Mountains get angry and spew lava across the land, yet inspire awe and worsip. So giants are not merely enemies of our heroes, they are often regal and worthy of our praise. But they fall hard. And their hits hurt. Their rage makes us tremble.

One other connection. If the sea fathered giants, could not the sea have brought giants across on boats? Or, who is the mid-eastern equivalent of Poseidon? Three letter word...blast. I forget. And drop down to up north: the corpse of a giant spawned little maggots that twisted themselves into dwarves. Dwarfs born of earth, Giants of the sea, Scandinavia, Mesopotamia, the whole thing spinning Charybdis around.

Enjoy the day.
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fell
gleeman


Joined: 07 Oct 2002
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2002 4:38 pm    Post subject: on giants and mountains Reply with quote

I don't know if it's bad form to reply to myself, but there is another side to things.

Near the end of my last post, I drew an unoriginal analogy between giants and mountains, but it may be a flawed analogy. Both deal with a sense of monumentality, but monumentalities directly opposed. A mountain is stable, unmoving, solid, grumbling only occassionally. But a giant represents a mobile monumentality, a monumentality dangerous because of its inherent instability. Yet upon the shoulders of giants stands genius. Infirm foundation.

Imagine a giant wearing the red shoes.

H
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Mark Carter
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Location: Bloomington, IL, USA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2002 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I guess I better start checking this board more often. I had only just now gotten around to replying to Tami when I see a whole conversation has grown up since I was last here. Anyway, my reply to Tami was;

Excellent questions! Where do I start? I'm afraid that once you get me started I'll never shut up. You asked, has WG made an impact on the neo-pagan community. I say yes, but perhaps not in as direct of a method as I once thought. The education level of the pagan community would seem to rise and fall rather quickly. At least we get that impression because so much of pagan networking takes place over the internet, where things are often blown out of proportion quickly and fashions have a shorter life span. So, maybe we are never exactly sure of an overall picture. Certain publishers have contributed to the problem by popularizing paganism with a lot of introductory books of little lasting value. What we end up with is a large influx of "newbies" who haven't done the in depth reading. In the last few years this mass of new blood (no jokes please) have become representative of the whole and these are the very people who have not read WG. Yet, these people draw from authors who were highly influenced by WG and often spit out Graves's ideas without realizing their origin. Traces of WG are lacking in many of the pagan authors of this generation but those of the last generation were highly impacted by it and many of those are founders of modern neo-paganism. Gardner, Valiente, Starhawk, Ed Fitch and Herman Slater all come to my mind easily. Any serious pagan today will hunt down these authors after they get their fill of pulp introductory material. The most serious of them will eventually seek out Graves, Frazer, Murray, Harrison and all sorts of stuff that is a far cry from the "New Age" section at Barnes & Noble. I'm sure all this can be disputed but I'm only speaking for what I've seen of the pagans I know personally and I can't help but feel it is more or less a fair summary of the situation as a whole.

OTOH, you have a point when you say many pagans haven't read WG, or even tried, and those who have didn't "get it". I only know 2 or 3 pagans in my personal (off-line) life who have read WG. Yet, it has had a large impact on each of them, regardless of how much they understood. All of them have also told me it's a book you have to read more than once and I agree. Like the Bible, it's a source of spiritual inspiration (and vague, questionable history) which offers something new every time you open it. Graves himself was aware of this comparison and commented in a couple of interviews that there were "some hopeful young people in California who have taken my book The White Goddess as their Bible" and that there were "various White Goddess religions started in New York State and California.

My interest isn't just with the sources behind WG, but I think that's a good starting point. Graves doesn't really offer anything new in WG but instead offers new twists on older ideas. I'm interested in the history of those ideas and how Graves took them and created something new. Graves wasn't the 1st person to read Frazer, Murray and Harrison. He certainly wasn't the 1st to read the Guest translation of the Mabinogion and he wasn't even the 1st of his own family to write about the history of Ogham. So what happened in his head that allowed him to write WG where others who had read the same material could not? I've read most of Graves's sources. I'm very familiar with some of them, but I never could have written WG. Who could have guessed that WG would become a prime inspiration for a revived form of pagan religion? What caused Graves to write a book which would inspire the pagan community when he never considered himself part of that community?

We have to look towards Graves's personal life, but even that fails us. We can make typical statements about his religious upbringing, early sexual trauma, near death experience, Nancy and Laura's feminism, seeing ghosts, blah, blah‚ blah. We can say those things all day and all we've done is suggest some stock Jungian archetypes which Graves would not approve of. Did those events really contribute to the creation process or are they simply more sources, different from the books only because they were personal and not literary sources? I don't know. It's a hard question which cuts to the core of spiritual inspiration. I can't answer it in this post, or in the book I'm trying to write. I can only dissect WG as best I can and lay out the parts I can explain and then leave it to someone better educated than myself to draw any further conclusions. Still, I press on because if nothing else, what I write helps me to get more from WG and the few friends who have read what I've written so far say it has helped them too. As I often claim, I'm not qualified to write the definitive book on Graves or WG. I hang out here mainly to find answers and opinions of those better educated than myself, in hopes of keeping my foot out of my mouth or repeating conclusions that someone else has already arrived at unbeknownst to me.

As for your "side-line" research into Ogham, I would love to hear about it. I too have done considerable research into Ogham. Its associations fascinate me and part of my research has been an attempt to discover just how many of these associations Graves himself created and how many are actual survivals of a real Celtic tradition. A friend of mine has just written a book on Celtic paganism. It's not published yet, but his dissertation has caused considerable interest. Having seen his manuscript I have tried hard not to pre-empt his Ogham findings in my own work.
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Tami Whitehead
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Joined: 28 Sep 2002
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Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark,
I see what you were saying about the pagans, and I have to agree with you in that regard.


You said:
"As for your "side-line" research into Ogham, I would love to hear about it. I too have done considerable research into Ogham. Its associations fascinate me and part of my research has been an attempt to discover just how many of these associations Graves himself created and how many are actual survivals of a real Celtic tradition. "

Groovy. Let me dig out my notes, and I'll try to post something tomorrow or the next day. But I can say that from my own studies, yes, the associations fit very neatly when juxtaposed against Northern European, Celtic and even Hebrew. For real. That was pretty much the thrust of my studies, btw, was to check and double-check his associations, and check the math, so to speak, and I found it pretty dead-on with what I learned about runes, and other alphabets. The key really is iconographic, and has everything to do with lunar calenders.

You said:
"As I often claim, I'm not qualified to write the definitive book on Graves or WG. I hang out here mainly to find answers and opinions of those better educated than myself, in hopes of keeping my foot out of my mouth or repeating conclusions that someone else has already arrived at unbeknownst to me."

Just so you'll know, I am not qualified either. Wink But I'll hang out too.

Tami
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Tami Whitehead
poet


Joined: 28 Sep 2002
Posts: 41
Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 6:29 am    Post subject: Fe Fi Fo Fum Reply with quote

Hi there Fell,

Some good points, and excuse me if I ramble in reply...


You said:
"Typically, like dragons or wizards, they are the antithesis of the hero, not to be praised, giant in vice as well as in form, usually greedy and gluttonous (can you blame a giant for eating men whole or a dozen sheep in one go?)."

Hmmm...sorta like the titans, in the eating of young gods and such. Makes you wonder if p'raps the bone-munching giants in folklore refer back to either a) a maurauding race of large, brutish cannibals, or b) ritual initiations or sacrifices by the same...wait, didn't someone else say that?

You said:
"The cyclops (cyclopsi, cyclopses, kyklopes?), children of Poseidon, children of the raging sea, children of the maker of earthquakes, were giants."

They were also, in several places, smiths. And keepers of sheep. And they didn't know what wine was...hmmm.

I have wondered if titans and giants were somehow the same. There seems to be white titans and black titans, and white giants and black giants, and they always are just a bit older than the gods...And Graves makes the titans seem very much the guardians of planetary powers, and so forth...I am always intrigued when I read of Giants or Titans in myth. Which comes back to my question of the annakim, annunaki, nephelim etc...

Just rambling...
Tami
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fell
gleeman


Joined: 07 Oct 2002
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 3:47 pm    Post subject: the misters smith Reply with quote

Morning Tami,

What I love most about conversations such as these is the constant reminders of what we've left out. You mentioned that giants were often smiths as well, and you have reminded me of one of my favorite works, The Forge and the Crucible by Mircea Eliade.

The book is an exploration of Alchemy, its eastern and mesopotamian roots. Primary amongst figures is the smith, whose value to his people was unmeasurable; to the extent that he was often hobbled to keep him with the clan. Hobbled, because he had a tendency early to travel from clan to clan, selling his wares, itinerant, with few loyalties. His work was thought to be magic, for he molded the metals into powerful weapons and decorative charms. He stroked everyone's vanity, he allowed them to win wars.

If we take the course of scholars of the past (I have no idea of the scholars of the present, they seem to ignore these topics altogether), the old gods were either defeated in battle, cast aside as ghosts or myths, transformed into lesser deities of the new religion, or regaled as jokes in the present. The smiths were of an ancient and mysterious trade, incredibly strong, though perhaps not so brilliant. Intellectual gods like the Olympians found weaknesses of the Titans and overthrew them (although I don't remember the Titans ever being called dumb), perhaps only because of humanity's love for the smaller guy to win (hence the crucifixion of a god or the imprisonment on an island of an emperor) or because intellectual prowess is in fact greater than bodily mass.

Also recognizable is the pattern society has of destroying mystery religions. At some point, the common man gets fed up with not being allowed in the holy of holies, forces his way in, and mucks everything up. I adore the ending to the Golden Asse of Apuleius, where secrecy is stressed again and again. Poor Isis. If only she knew where things were heading. Every cherished thing loses quickly its splendour.

One of these days, I will get around to the nephilim, annakim and their brood. In the meantime, enjoy the autumn.
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Tami Whitehead
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 8:28 pm    Post subject: The Misters Smith Reply with quote

Hi Fell,

You know, you oughta go ahead and register on this site, it's nice to get private messages and stuff Smile It's nice to have you as part of our clatch.

Yes, smiths...and before that bronze workers, and before that, copper and tin I suppose. P'raps too they were the fletchers and flint knappers of the neoliths...wasn't there speculation that the fletchers and flint knappers were oft times the lame, the old and the otherwise handicapped members of the tribe, perhaps given useful work suited to their limited abilities? Hmmm...makes one wonder if perhaps those stone age craftsmen were likewise hobbled or lamed, if the laming of later smiths recalled that tradition, or if it is just a happy coinky-dink.

I am sure there is the practical reason you gave, to keep them from running away, taking their magic and skills to another tribe. I also think this likely developed into a ritual, perhaps an initiation or mark or something. There are simply too many late references to the condition or practice in myth.

You know, now that I think about it, in many northern traditions smiths were regarded as "big medicine," and they (usually through their association with Odin as master of magic) we feared magic-users. Perhaps the hobbling was also an attempt to keep the magic of the smith, not just the skills. Didn't Grave's somewhere speak of statues of gods being tied or otherwise restrained to keep them from returning to their original land? OK, using my "lunar reasoning," I wonder if the whole thing might be related to written language, in that there is evidence that early arrowheads and spearheads were inscribed with charms or some such to help them hit their mark. Even a slinger's stones were scratched or molded with "strike" etc. As the armorers and weapon makers, it's thought that the smiths gave magical powers to the items they made, and myth and folklore both are littered with magic spears and helmets, magic swords and the like.

There is also the link between hanging and smithing. The link between hanging and letters is Odin of course, hanging upside down in the tree to gain the runes. Did the smiths attain their magical instruction in a type of sundance ceremony, recieve visions and understanding of letters and cyphers that gave them the mystical ability to properly infuse their items with powers? I think it is likely, given that there is so much that seems to be saying just that, or maybe I am again overstating the obvious to an audience that thinks all this is old hat.

I keep coming back to that little cave were the Titans set upon Zagreus, and beat their shields, and painted themselves with gypsum...possibly with the tuft of wool they revealed to Zagreus...(so they kept sheep as well? didn't we already say the giants of the north were also keepers of sheep?)
Wasn't smithing in the north at least associated with the Thunder god, and Zeus was a thunder god, and Zagreus was a older form of Zeus...I think...

musing,
Tami
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fell
gleeman


Joined: 07 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2002 3:54 pm    Post subject: full circle Reply with quote

morning Tami,

How amazing, the labyrinthine twists of myriad minds building upon one another, swinging smiths from trees and filling fletchers full of their fell arrows. Know a name and control the bearer, from voodoo to fraser, a sympathetic magic and an empathetic god. If they know your secret name, they can make you do what theywant, sling the evil eye over their shoulder and present your clinging soul to perdition. I cannot remember references to giants or titans or the pre-pantheon gods creating language or writing, though the Egyptians certainly have their moments. I have no books in front of me at the moment, can you think of any? And I promise on the grave of somebody important, I will get around to the giants.

I thought for sure I was already registered. I'll try again though.
And one of these days I'll tell you why this brought me full circle. Odin, smiths, wanderers...
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