More work on the PCon presentation

Steamy time travel
I got an email today that joyful_storm won't be making it down to PCon this year (I am sad), but we will get together sometime soon, with any luck, just for hanging out purposes.

B has moved in today. We discovered that the guest bathroom tub does not drain if one takes a bath. I'm going to have to get some drain unpluggy stuff for it tomorrow when the stores are open.

I have started ogam's flamekeeping shift, followed immediately by my own, tomorrow. Also, there will be steampunkery at the AFK.

I dredged through McQuarrie's Manannán dissertation and dug up incidents of Manannán as a healing deity. I also put together my basic outline for the presentation. Tomorrow during the day, I'll drag out my big pad of paper and start writing out the names of the 30+ deities so that people will be able to spell them properly (at least from the sources I've compiled) if they are interested in exploring these figures further.

Also, there is banana bread. Noms.

Oh, and here, have a vid from the Abney Park show I went to earlier this month:

Being shrunk

extra meds
Went down to the VA today for my monthly shrinkage and did some useful stuff. Texted a bit with D, who will be in town over the weekend. He's taking me to Morroccan on Friday night in return for staying at my place. Sunday B will be hauling her stuff here to put in the garage, then she will be moving in to my library for a couple of months on Monday.

I still need to work on more research for my PCon presentation. I want to at least finish skimming the Silva Gadelica before I give it all up and just make my list and my outline. It's an intimidating project and, as I suspected, a hell of a lot more material than I had initially seen. Compiling lists of particular types of figures in Irish mythology is always a lot more involved than you first suspect.

Tomorrow is group at the VA. I am tired. Things are going to be crazy busy for me very shortly.

Further research

Ogma
I spent a goodly chunk of this evening delving about in books, looking up potential healing deities and other figures, and found quite a number listed here and there. I'm still chasing down some others. I found a note that may be of interest to alfrecht and will be typing up a quick quote and sending it off to him in a little bit.

In pursuit of some of my research I have had cause to attempt to read Táin Bó Flidhais: "The Mayo Táin" by Stephen Dunford. I have a sneaking suspicion that he stabbed a thesaurus and let it bleed out onto the pages. It isn't pretty. It gets the story across, but his language is labored and not at all imitative of Early and Middle Irish tales. He cannot resist using some verbal detritus or other when a simple (or even a poetic) word will do. Here, for your delectation, is a sample sentence from this overwrought monstrosity:

Then, as her bosom throbbed and heaved with the quick deleterious pulsation and palsy of grief, and with her fair and beautiful face blanched with streaming tears, her ululating yowls of lamentation echoing united and multitudinous across the landscape, falling and rising in lingering cadences, Flidhais commenced a doleful and remorseful dirge in which she ruefully recalled and recounted every worthy action of her deceased husband and of his hallowed and atavistic progenitors.

As you can see, not much to recommend this version. It is, mercifully, slim.

gra_is_stor's mom and one of her sisters will be in town shortly. Her mom may come to the Abney Park show with us tomorrow, and they will both probably join us on Sunday for the bad movie festival. We'll be viewing the two Dr Phibes movies and Mars Attacks. It should be fun.

Dishes were done. Food was had. Research was compiled. All in all, not a bad day.
Breakin' Ur Geasa
Four photos of the mural depicting Cú Chulainn in the Táin Bó Cualigne from Setanta Center in Dublin.

Dublin: Táin mural 1, From Setanta Center, Dublin

Dublin: Táin mural 2, From Setanta Center, Dublin

Dublin: Táin mural 3, From Setanta Center, Dublin

Dublin: Táin mural 4, Mural from Setanta Center, Dublin

In which a ritual is outlined

Airmed
Today's task was doing research and work on outlining the Airmed ritual for our visit to Heapstown Cairn. I reviewed several texts and looked at different websites where people talk about their particular takes on her, including a couple of rituals to/for her from different groups. So much hating on Dian Cécht over the whole thing, but it helps to remember that the incident with Miach replacing Nuadha's hand in the text of Second Battle of Mag Tuired occurs before the battle, and before Dian Cécht, Miach, Airmed and Octriuil are chanting around the Well of Sláine. Miach, though a surgeon, is a plant-god from whom all the healing herbs grow and so rises anew on a pretty frequent basis if one looks at it properly.

All the healing herbs of Ireland were brought to Lus Mag (the Plain of Herbs) by Dian Cécht and put into the Well of Sláine, so presumably they came from Miach's cairn and needed to be taken from there before the healing work could even begin. Time in myths is not nearly so linear, and deities die and reappear alive without any referent to actual human lifespans and life cycles. Is it so hard to believe that the story of Dian Cécht's "jealousy" might really be a setup for the creation of needed healing materials that could later be used by all of them? Or that it was unreasonable for Dian Cécht to keep the secrets of healing all ills from humans by scattering the herbs on Airmed's cloak? She, after all, did keep the secrets of these herbs. Though the text of the story says "the Holy Spirit" knows them, we can be certain it was Airmed -- who sorted through them in the first place -- who knows what they do.

Anyway, research was done and an outline produced and sent off to Jhenah and vyviane. I also spent a few minutes doing a drabble for the weekly fic challenge in one of the communities I read, which was fun.

Tomorrow is a trip down to Seattle to do some clothes shopping for the pilgrimage with joyful_storm, and to meet for a bit with alfrecht and neo_lux. If I have any spoons when I get home, I'll probably work on the incubation rituals. vyviane tells me we are way ahead of schedule, which helps slightly, but so much of my stuff really kind of has to be done before I leave. I'm glad her end of things is working so very smoothly! It gives me hope for the rest of the pilgrimage as well.

Sunday I'm doing a Skype chat with Jhenah to discuss ritual and other stuff. Things are proceeding apace.

Moving along

ow. Robertson Davies
Today was the CR schmooze down in Seattle. I headed down early and got two packets printed up for the Ireland pilgrimage, and five sheets of the postcards done so that I could leave info at Edge of the Circle. I left one of the packets there, and will probably leave the other at East West if I can get there sometime soon. During the schmooze, Patrick did some work on my arms; this helped but I'm still aching a lot.

Spent some time at Kaladi Brothers today pre-schmooze so that I could do a little work on the pilgrimage material and still have internet access. I worked through some ideas for the opening ritual at Brigid's well in Kildare, though there's obviously still quite a bit to do. vyviane kindly got an itinerary together in a format I can work with, which I printed out and will be hauling around with me while I scribble ideas. I've also got some of the material I want to do the day we visit Newgrange, Knowth, and Tara. I'm thinking we'll work on prompts dealing with sacred time and space, so the story of Oengus and the Daghda, and the Settling of the Manor of Tara would be the texts for that day. I want to look at how we see ourselves in landscape/time/space, but also to consider what we consider our sacred center.

Due to scheduling, Heapstone Cairn got added back into the itinerary, which means I can do some devotional work with Airmed while I'm in Ireland as well, which is an unexpected but very happy surprise. Local legend has it that the Well of Sláine is buried beneath the cairn, and that Lough Arrow is the site of the Second Battle of Mag Tuired, so there's a lot going on, mythologically, in the landscape. In regards to Brigid as the center of the pilgrimage, it might also be a place where we can talk about the origins of keening and do work surrounding grief and loss for our writing.

There is just SO MUCH STUFF that can potentially be covered in all this. It's hard to know how to condense it all into manageable amounts. Though I suppose it's better to have way more than I need than to try to stretch a thin membrane of information to the breaking point. I need to figure out where in each day a class/workshop might fit. *ponders schedule*

Cosmic Coincidence Control strikes again

Join the Illuminati!
The book I mentioned that I picked up today on Yeats is W.B. Yeats and the Tribes of Danu by Peter Alderson Smith.

When I was looking at the flyleaf, there is a library mark.

This book used to belong to garzan. Gar lived for years in Olympia, then moved to Glasgow, Montana and worked in Salt Lake City, Utah for a while as well.

He's currently in Thailand.

Hey, Gar! I have part of your library here! ;)

Out and about while writing

writy typewriter keyboard
I headed out shortly after I got up today for the AFK, where they have ethernet connections available and made myself ready to do battle with the download of iOS 5 for the iPad. I'd tried several times from home to do the download and got timed out, so I figured a hard connect would probably be more reliable. Sadly, the first attempt, even there, took a couple of hours and resulted in another timeout. While I was waiting and watching the microscopic crawl of the initial attempt, I worked on a new post for my Searching for Imbas blog.

One of my friends had a dream last night that featured yours truly, and the dream carried some strong resonances of a figure called Muirgeilt. As you might guess from the name, she would be of some interest to me -- geilt being the sort of sacred madness I've been researching because of Suibhne and the whole mad poet trope in Irish myth. Anyway, I wrote a post about Muirgeilt where I explore what was going on with the images in my friend's dream and talk about why they're significant. That took most of the time while I was waiting the first instance of the download.

Thankfully, the second attempt was over and done with inside of twenty minutes, so I've got the iPad updated with the new OS and we'll see whether that makes any genuine difference in my use. It's apparently added a bunch of stuff, but a lot of it I'm not inclined to use, given my primary focus on writing with a little websurfing from that platform.

While I was doing the updating stuff, I worked on expanding the Mandragora piece that I'd finished last week. This will be the third real draft of the essay and I got it up to 3613 words today before I sent it off to finnchuill. I think I hit all the things he was asking me to deal with or expand upon.

I'm going to see if I'm feeling up to driving down to Seattle tomorrow to see sebastian_lvx for chai, but my sinuses and my ears are off, and I may not be in much shape to be leaving the house. Coming down with a cold is never any fun, yet I do have to pick up some more valerian root and feverfew, and possibly something else for the cold, if I have a chance to talk with Leon. It's very frustrating, though I'll admit I've been pushing myself pretty hard of late. I'm starting to feel that hot ache in my joints that definitely says "you are getting sick." Staying home in bed most of the day may actually be the wiser choice for me tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Into page 13

Brigid Poet
I've been making further progress on the Queering the Flame essay today, getting myself into page 13. I'm hoping to push as far as, possibly, 15 pages tonight before I go to bed. Last night I discovered another sacred fire (tended by men) that destroyed someone who defiled it, in a life of Saint Ciaran, which was cited in passing in a book I had on Irish archaeology by R. A. S. Macalister. I ended up chasing down the reference and got a really excellent quote from another Macalister book that was, happily, on Project Gutenberg. The fire in question wasn't said to be a perpetual flame, but it was very specifically a sacred flame, and one which punished the malfeasant young man who violated it.

I also ran across a thoroughly bizarre little incident that related two black snails turning into wolves, which I turned over to alfrecht, who had not seen it before. I mean, really -- snails? This tale involved a very paranoid St. Cormac running away from snails because he knew they were shapeshifted wolves. But imagine "running away" from snails. It beggars the brain. I have to wonder what drugs this guy was on!

I printed out the article in progress so that I could take a look at it, and scribbled a bunch of notes and corrections on the hard copy, pointing out places where I need to smooth out transitions, and where I need to expand. The current draft cuts off far short of where I wanted to go. There are several points that I have yet to make regarding perceptions of gender of religious women in early Christian Ireland, following some of Lisa M. Bitel's arguments from Land of Women. I've also traced down a couple of the hard references I had previously found to cross-dressing and to the relaxing of gender restrictions surrounding the Brídeog processions in some areas of Ireland where they were originally girls-only. It's interesting that in some places the processions were cross-dressed men and women, or men and disguised women, and in other places they were girls-only that eventually opened to participation by boys. There seems to be a great deal more fluidity here than might appear on the surface.

Sometime soon I'll be ready to add a discussion of male poets gendering as female in their relationships with their patrons as a significant aspect of this, given Brigid's patronage of poets. It seems like a salient point for the argument, certainly. I have one of the references in the stack of photocopies on my desk, but will probably need to find a couple more; I know they exist.

I'm nowhere near tired as yet, so will continue on with my writing for a few more hours tonight. Earlier today I watched Pia do some more of her artwork online; it's always amazing to watch her. When I have some available funds I'll commission another couple of pieces from her. I can't this month, as my funds are thin until August 1st, but next month I should be able to do so if she still has a slot open for this batch. Insomnigrackles as Totems! I shall hang it over my bed and make offerings to the little bastards in hopes of them leaving me the fuck alone.

Sadly, my right hip continues to ache like a sumbitch. This has been probably three days so far, but if I try to medicate for it, the meds knock me for a loop and I can't focus enough to write, so I've been sitting around most of the day feeling like I've got a blade stuck in my hip joint. I'll take something for it when I go to bed and can afford to let the tramadol do its worst. In the meantime, more writing.

From the MEARCSTAPA list, cfp

Erynn SteamIcon
CALL FOR PAPERS

ASIMS Session for
The Southeastern Medieval Association
Agnes Scott College
Decatur, Georgia
October 13-15, 2011
Voices of (the) People

Session: Voices of the Irish Middle Ages

In its position on the farthest edge of Western Europe, Ireland is often neglected in discussions of popular medieval studies; it is literally consigned to the margins. But medieval Irish society had a profound effect on European medieval culture as a whole, and the Irish people often raised their voices in dissent or assent to various practices and promoted their society abroad through trade, religious missions, or exchange of people. This session, sponsored by the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies, invites papers on any aspect of Irish medieval literature, history, archeology, or culture that deals with the transmission of this medieval Irish “voice”: the Irish speaking for or about themselves, or others who spoke about Irish people or civilization, or artifacts that spoke for people when they could not speak for themselves.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to Larissa (Kat) Tracy: kattracy@comcast.net.

Deadline for submissions to this session: May 30

Presenters will be notified of the committee’s decision before the SEMA submission deadline of June 15.
Sarasvati
I spent several hours today filling out the questionnaire for the polytheism survey that someone was doing. I'd posted the call for participants a month or so ago. The questions didn't seem problematically biased (to me, anyway) as some studies are, and tended to focus more on experience, though there was one question about "faith," which you might expect from a questionnaire on something religious or spiritual. I managed to answer most of the questions in some depth and had a pretty good time thinking about the whole thing as I did so. It's nice to have something interesting to consider, particularly on a topic so near and dear to my heart.

I talked about things like how Sarasvati, as a river goddess, taught how people can approach worshipping these entities when one lives far from where the physical river resides -- the river Sarasvati disappeared centuries ago, and her many other aspects came to the fore during that process. Now she's worshipped globally by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, as well as by western Pagans without a connection to her culture of origin. I think that's a pretty powerful statement of how religion and deity changes with time and the shifting of geography and circumstance. If she were only the spiritual manifestation of the physical river, she would not have been able to make that transition or to travel to distant continents.

Certainly when we think about deities like Bóann and Sinann, who are strongly associated with particular rivers in Ireland, we can see how this is important information and a useful model. There are many ways to approach these issues, and I think one of the most useful ones for those of us who dwell on continents far from the origins of the deities we follow is to look at what they do that is not solely specifically linked to particular features of land and water. Understanding that we can access those places in Otherworld realms is also important and powerful. We are neither the first people who have had to deal with these things, nor will we be the last.

Among the other moments of my day was a quiet making of peanut sauce. It's not the best peanut sauce ever, but it's pretty tasty, and at the moment it sits atop a mound of rice, long beans, and chinese broccoli. It is, therefore, the best peanut sauce in the house!

Last night I was feeling ill again, though I think it was just the tomato sauce with the sardines, which I had two days in a row. I'm going to have to lay off them in the evening, I think. Acidic stuff is still a problem for me.

The check from the contractors arrived today! I emailed to let them know, and the secretary was astonished by the swiftness of the local postal service. She thanked me for my patience regarding the situation. If I'm up to getting out of the house tomorrow, I'll wander down to the Safeway and deposit the check in my account. There are moments when money gods do actually get to be useful. Today's email also brought notice that my new Brigid statue had been shipped, so it should arrive fairly soon. I'll be redoing the Brigid altar when it arrives. It's well past time I did so.

When I finish up the renovations, I'll probably post a picture.

Getting busy for Samhain

Oiche Shamhna
Today I headed down to Seattle to meet ogam at Travelers when he got in. We grabbed lunch there, wandered up to Edge to say hi, and then popped over to Floating Leaves so that Oggie could say hi to Shiuwen. We had some lovely charcoal roasted Dong Ding that she said she got from a guy in Taipei who roasts it himself in his apartment in a tiny room with two little charcoal burners. It was amazingly delicious. We talked for probably an hour or so about tea, life, and politics, and we all had a great time.

After that, we headed north to my place, where we talked a little longer before ogam went over to the folks' house that he's staying at. I'll be seeing him again tomorrow noonish.

Once he took off, I spent some time collecting further bits and clarifying on supplies for the Samhain ritual upcoming. I also took the link provided by celtic_elk for Airne Fingen (Fingen's Night Watch). To get to the article/translation itself, click the link for Section Three on that page.

I ended up having to download each page (19 of them) as PDF files and printed them all out separately, then hunted around for a program to merge all of them into a single PDF file, which I eventually found. I now have the article as a single PDF file, thank the Gods, and will be able to find/use it whenever I need it now. That was a couple of hours of slightly frustrating work, though, before everything got together.

When I told ogam that we could do dinner together tomorrow night, and that I had to make the gołąbkis and borscht tomorrow so that they'd be done before I had to leave for Seattle on Saturday, he was absolutely thrilled. He was practically bouncing and asked about my recipe. I showed him my huge Polish cookbook and he's very much looking forward to helping out with the process -- all that blanching of cabbage leaves takes a couple of people to manage efficiently, so that's a relief for me.

I'm now awaiting a couple of teriyaki chicken legs in the oven for dinner tonight. I'm filled to the brim with tea, but hoping that I'll be able to get some sleep tonight so that I'll be able to cope with the weekend! I fired off an email to the ZAPP librarian at Hugo House about the zine collection and got an autoreply back that she'll be in again November 1st, so I won't have to worry about dealing with it before next week.

Let's play Stump the PhD!

Erynn SteamIcon
In last night's entry, I mentioned the very obscure Irish healing deity Octiuriul. My friend alfrecht was left going "who?" Granted, I did misspell it, swapping out a the inintial iu for a ui, so that probably made Googling more difficult. Considering his PhD had to do with canids, I'm unsurprised he missed this guy, though. Octiuriul is the other son of Dian Cécht, mentioned once, to the best of my knowledge, in the Second Battle of Maigh Tuired. Several people asked, so here's the reference in question, from Elizabeth Gray's translation, Irish Texts Society, p 55, section 123:

Now this is what used to kindle the warriors who were wounded there so that they were more fiery the next day: Dian Cécht, his two sons Octiuriul and Míach, and his daughter Airmed were chantings spells over the well named Sláine. They would cast their mortally-wounded men into it as they were struck down; and they were alive when they came out. Their mortally-wounded were healed through the power of the incantation made by the four physicians who were around the well.

And that's it as far as I can tell for any reference to Octiuriul.

Thanks for playing Stump the PhD!

*hugs alfrecht*

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