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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Light of the Isles

Air Date: Week of January 2, 2015

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Celtic storyteller Mara Freeman (Photo: Courtesy of Mara Freeman)

We return to Mara Freeman to learn about Angus the Ever Young who was worshiped by ancient druids and pagans as the king of light and youth.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood and I’m still with Mara Freeman, the storyteller who just told us the story of “Return of Bride.” And I’d like to ask you to tell us more about this story. In particular, tell us about Angus? Who is he and how does he factor into Celtic lore?

FREEMAN: Well, as I think you can tell from the story Angus very much personifies the sun. You know he rides up and down the land and his royal robe of crimson streams behind him bringing back the light to land, particularly coming back in splendid fashion at the winter solstice. And there is an actual place in Ireland that celebrates the birth of Angus. And this is played out in an extraordinary fashion in the landscape. And that place in fact, a number of listeners probably will have heard of this place, is called Newgrange. And what it is is a huge great egg-shaped burial mound or earth-shaped chamber in the middle of the green meadows of the Boyne River in Ireland. Not far, it’s about 40 miles Northwest of Dublin. And Newgrange was built, oh more than 5,000 years ago, it’s extraordinary. And the marvelous or one of the marvelous things about Newgrange is that there’s a great spiral stone at its entrance way. You go beyond that spiral stone and you have to pretty much bend double to crawl along this long passage way that leads you into the heart of the chamber itself. It’s as if you’ve been going down this birth canal that opens up into the womb of the mother earth. And the womb is filled with these beautiful petroglyphs, rock art full of spirals and shapes that look like suns bursting into life. So, probably, thousands of years ago the druids and maybe the ancestors of the druids themselves would have been sitting in that chamber in the dark, perhaps fasting, perhaps praying um holding their ceremonies, awaiting the return of the light because on the morning of the winter solstice the light did in fact return. The first rays of that morning sun on that special day of the year would come shooting down that narrow passage through the vagina of the earth herself and light up the womb inside where the people would have been waiting for this tremendous rebirth of the light at this time of the year.

CURWOOD: Mara Freeman, you love telling this story of the return of Bride, why?

FREEMAN: Oh, it just has all the characters. You know, it’s a beautiful story. It’s a fairy tale itself but it’s also a story of the land. But for me the most important, the most vital, and vibrant stories of the Celtic, and really of all indigenous peoples, have to do with the earth herself. And I love the pieces about the linnet and the oystercatcher and the all the little details about nature because this is a true myth. You know myth is a reflection of what really goes on in our world, told as a story that all ages can understand. And so it’s a true story made alive and made dramatic for all to enjoy.

CURWOOD: Mara Freeman thank you so much.

FREEMAN: Thank you, Steve.

 

Links

Mara Freeman’s page

Mara Freeman’s book: Kindling the Celtic Spirit

 

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