What I’ve Learned from taking Mythology in the Summer: Part II

  1. wombatApparently, the Australian Aborigines do not like wombats: “Oh, what funny creatures some of them were–the kangaroo, the frilled lizards, the bats of all types, the pelican with its big bill, the platypus, the flying-fox, the stupid-looking wombat, and the frog that grew to maturity in such a strange fashion!”[1]  The ‘stupid-looking wombat,’ really? If you ask me, I think they’re pretty cute. But apparently, Australia’s natives would disagree with me on my opinion.
  2. Ironically, if you ask one of my friends, one of my stock replies for years if someone asks me a particular question, such as, “Are you an assassin?” I’ll reply with, “Only on Tuesdays.” Unknowing till this week, this answer is apparently one which comes from my Celtic roots. In one of their myths, Bress, a king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was captured. He begged for his life to be spared and offered as his own ransom to make the cows of Ireland to always be in milk, yet the druids denied this gift. He then offered to make it for his captors to have a good wheat harvest every year, yet the druids rejected this gift too. Instead: “Lugh told this to Bress. But he also said: ‘You shall have your life in return for a much less service to us than that.’
    ‘What is it?’ asked Bress.
    ‘Tell us when we ought to plough, when we ought to sow, and when we ought to harvest.’
    Bress replied: ‘You should plough on a Tuesday, sow on a Tuesday, and harvest on a Tuesday.’
    And this lying maxim (says the story) saved Bress’ life.”[2]
    Why on Tuesday? Honestly, I don’t know. I personally have used such a reply as a smart aleck remark. In this myth, however, it’s possibly a forgotten joke, or a Celtic riddle. Put what makes Tuesday so special to the Irish culture I truly don’t know. There’s just something about Tuesday. I mean, it is the day after the dreaded Monday after all. (There is an interesting connection here though, or perhaps a strange coincidence. Bress became king of the Tuatha Dé Danann after King Nuada lost his arm, making him no longer fit to lead them, and that the Norse god Týr in which the name ‘Tuesday’ is derived from[3], only has one hand. True, today Tuesday in Ireland is known as Dé Máirt (Mar’s Day) for they adopted the Latin days of the week; however, was that the case in ancient Ireland?)[4]
  3. The ancients of Ireland may have invented the classic ‘wizard’s hat,’ or at the very least inspired it. To the left is an artifact from the Bronze Age, the Berliner Goldhut (the Berlin Gold Hat), one of only four such hats which have been discovered. It is believed to be a calendar of some sorts, having what appears to be 1,739 suns and half-moons carved into it, which would be worn to help predict the pattern of the sun, hypothesized in having astronomical, agricultural, and festival uses. Perhaps even elevating the one who wore this hat to a wizard-like status. The one who could predict the cycle of the sun, the one who could predict time.Hobbit+Trailer4
  4. Magikarp live in Ireland, and elves live in Iceland. Apparently, magikarp are not merely Pokémon who live in the Kanto Region, discovered by the Japanese. In Peter Pringle’s retelling of the myth “Dagda’s Magic Harp” (which can be found on Youtube), he begins his song with:
    “Once there was a magikarp,
    The same days of old,
    And fair King Dagda played upon,
    Enchanted strings of gold.”
    Additionally, a sizeable portion of the population of Iceland, mostly in the rural areas I’m told, truly believe that there are elves. These elves, the huldufólk, are believed to be invisible to most, and live under many of Iceland’s strange rock formations, making them forbidden to be destroyed such as by construction projects. I promise I’m not making this up, and you can Google search this claim if you don’t believe me. There are still people who truly believe that there are elves, just as you and me believe there is a sun and there are trees, which kind of makes you wonder, are they the ones who are wrong?
  5. 318947-magikarpStories. People love stories. After reading all these myths from so many different cultures, it’s bluntly obvious that we as people love stories. All these myths could have instead been constructed as long histories, or as laws, or long lists of morals, and while we do have some of these preserved, this is just not the case. Mythologies consist of stories. Stories of gods, of people, of animals, of magical beings. For there is just something about ‘story’ which both excite us and connect with us. Even the Bible uses this technique, using ‘story’ to pass down the remembrance of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and so many others. Why else do we love reading books or watching movies so much? Or sharing events from our lives, or listening to the events of others? It is because we love stories. It’s just something within us, a part of what makes us human. That is why we perk up when the minister begins a story in his sermon or why we’re drawn to the lives of people who don’t even exist. It is because as people, we love stories. One trait which we have as a child, in which we never grow out of.
    6. Dragons are real! One of my classmates is also the wife of a game warden, who she asked to bring an alligator to campus as an awesome show-and-tell! He shared many cool things about this beastie, but one fun fact which stuck out above all the rest that I did not know, was these dragons so happen to be common in Arkansas. Meaning at night, if you shine a light out at the waters and see glowing, red eyes, you’re probably staring at a dragon:
    20160519_092426
    20160519_09232420160519_092008(0)20160519_092026*Inspired from lectures by Dr. Hunt
    ~Some Photos Obtained
    [1] Smith, Ramsay W. Myths and Legends of the Australian Aborigines. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications Inc., 2003. Print (29).
    [2] Squire, Charles. Celtic Myth and Legend. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications Inc., 2015. Print (115-116).
    [3] “The name Tuesday derives from the Old English ‘Tiwesdæg’ and literally means ‘Tiw’s Day’. Tiw is the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic god *Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse, a god of war and law.”
    “Tuesday.” Wikipedia.org. 12 April, 2016. Web. 17 May, 2016.
    [4] “The relationship between the one-handed Nuada and the battle-god Lugh calls to mind that between the Norse Tyr and Odin, and as examined in the discussion of that pantheon, this relationship seems to have very old roots. Further, several similarities between Odin and Lugh imply that both have some common Indo-European ancestor: Lugh was part Fomorian, just as Odin was part giant, and the name Lugh itself may well come from a Gaulish word for ‘raven,’ an animal explicitly linked to Odin.”
    Fee, Christopher R. Gods, Heroes, & Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print (71-72).
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