Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stones and water

A quick look at our five covers of Celtic Guide, so far, and it would seem I have a fixation with water and stones. In fact, I do. I have collected stones from castles and beaches and foundations of old family houses to the point where I don't know which stone came from where, I just know that they mean something. In looking at all the old civilizations, including the Celts, one of the main pieces of evidence that we have is of stone work. It's not that these people didn't build with wood, it is just that the stone lasted, stood the test of time, even if a little battered. The stone world of the Celt was virtually always surrounded by water. They say the same water on the earth today was here a million years ago, and will be here a million years into the future. What two better substances – water and stone – to symbolize a culture which has also stood the test of time?

There is evidence that at least some Celtic people helped build the pyramids of Egypt. The oldest set of laws in the world are the old Celtic Brehon Laws. Versions of the Celtic language are still spoken 2,000 years later, outlasting even Latin as a language of the common folk. While the melody for the song "Danny Boy" is simply a borrowing from a much earlier "O'Cahan's Lament," you can be sure the O'Cahan minstrel wove together pieces of music he had learned from earlier musicians to create that beautiful melody. Elvis borrowed the melody of "Annie Laurie" for his "Love Me Tender," and Dylan borrowed an old Irish song for his "Blowin' In The Wind." In fact, Dylan was a great fan of Irish music hanging out with Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers almost to the point of being a pest. When he came out with his first album he included the Celtic song "The Minstrel Boy" because of the ring of defiance it had, which he obviously incorporated into much of his own music. From Dylan came Springsteen, Mellencamp, the Beatles, and so many more, and so it is safe to say, with no question what-so-ever, that Celtic music has been the single most influential force behind modern music, as well as Bluegrass, Country Western, and even show tunes.

The point I am making is that the Celtic culture has been around for a very long time and the oldest evidence of its magnificence may be the multitude of castles and monasteries left behind, and the fact that it conquered some of the wildest waters and lands on earth, from the Highlands and Islands, to the rugged Antrim coast, to the Cape Breton mountainous coastline, to the forbidding Yukon River Valley – through multi-thousand mile sea journeys to Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, and even Hawaii – and it is easy to see that the Celts made the world theirs by way of water.

And so, perhaps simply because I am a Celt, I love stone and water, and my covers seem to reveal that. Maybe June will be different. Maybe July won't.

Celtic Guide

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