A Pagan Ur-Text of the Lebor Gebála Érenn
Book One. The First World
In darkness I write, not the dark
of the flamed volcanic gods
who take summers’ crops from men,
but of Brigid’s templed womb.
Windowless, my earth-burmed hut;
empty of comforts, I wait
for the forehead eye to light
the way to Brigid’s knowledge.
Nothing I touch can I take
–not pen, sword, or Druid staff.
only alone in the dark
can I sleepless dream and see.
Before time, before this sun
moved, before red Earth cooled,
we lived on a perfect star
in the perfect Pleiades.
We were gods and lived as gods,
knowing neither death nor pain,
but we lost knowledge of love,
of loss, sorrow, and remorse.
Our star died for us to send
us out in swirling metals
to an unborn denser sun
of chaos and storms of rock.
War was there then in heaven,
great collidings of the gods,
still children in their new minds
howling only for themselves.
Then came worlds where rocks had been.
Elementals were born in
earth, air, fire, and water–
these the spirits before Man.
Then came the life of the sea,
animal, plant, clear blue sky,
and light in which all were seen
in seeded copulations.
The bodiless clouds above
looked on coupling animals
and knew desire and lusted
to have springtime sex in them.
In showers of gold they rained
into lizard seed and egg.
At pleasure’s end, they could not
ascend to be gods again.
Sad beasts screamed, trapped gods cried out.
Minotaur and centaur,
chimeras roamed earth and sea.
From this race Man was to come.
Book Two. The Second World
The gods found no peace in beasts.
Some forgot, becoming beasts,
more cruel and resentful,
no longer knowing themselves.
Others discovered the dream
that set them free nights to be
up in the skies, free again
to command beasts of the day.
Then the meteor struck earth
and the gods discovered death
bore all the freedom of dreams
and built their kingdom of death.
To live was to be asleep.
To be dead and dream-bodied
was the real life the gods
enjoyed while the beasts endured.
When warm blooded animals
gave off the odor of sex,
the gods were startled again
and hovered, sniffing over them.
Again the gods took over
the hot animal bodies
and coupled with them for play.
Thus the walking apes were born
The apes dreamed the dreams of gods,
the gods dreamed of being apes,
so in Ethiopia,
the race of Man first was born.
Then continents ripped apart,
seas shifted and Man began
his hard life of wandering,
day-dreaming and night thinking.
Book Three. The Third World
The long Age of Ice began.
Man wandered, following herds
of reindeer, bison, auroch,
and the great-tusked mastodon.
Man drove out the Great Cave Bear
from his lair, took on his fur,
and placed his skull on altars
of square, unhewn flat stone.
Man found in the warm traces
of the animals red capped
mushrooms men chewed together
as their souls were born in caves.
The animals were Man’s life–
gods and Man as one again.
Aloneness opened, shamans,
men in animal skins, painted
the dreaming on the rock walls,
carved animals of amber,
engraved Goddess images
that girls signed with menstrual hands.
The squat men who could not run,
but tottered from side to side,
could not follow us dream-bodied
to animal gatherings.
We left them behind, dull louts
of crude tools and ugly hags–
sullen, without Brigid’s star
of knowledge on their foreheads.
They backed off in fear from us,
hunted rabbits, disappeared
into the southern passes,
and left no carved marks behind.
Then the skies changed, ice melted,
and the seas rose covering
our seasonal fishing camps.
This world ended in Flood.
Book Four. The Fourth World
On islands at the world’s edge,
the College of Wizards stood.
When the World Flood recalled it,
they were released from hiding
and again allowed to take
a hand in the affairs of men.
Before, no temples were built.
Now temples began to rise.
From green Ethiopia
they had come an age ago.
Now to Anatolia
they called for a Gathering
of all the tribes and schools
of star diviners, wizards
who became lion or eagle
to run and dream-fly at night.
Wizard now challenged shaman,
on hilltops built Goddess Wombs
with great stone plinths, each engraved
with animals of each tribe:
fox, leopard, lizard, ostrich,
headless dancers of the dead.
The stars took their positions,
rising on the horizons.
The shamans lost the contest,
and left for the Northern Lights
where there were no sunken caves,
but oceans of endless ice.
There at the Crossroads arose
the school of the new Druids,
the parting of all the tribes,
each with its god to guide them.
Then the Druids named a king,
and feast of the sacred bull.
All drank the blood, ate the meat,
and swore faith to the year’s king.
When the Temuir Feis ended,
the Chosen became blessed to Death,
the king rose from the dead bull
and coupled with the Goddess.
In the morning the tribes left.
Indra led the way eastward
for the horses and cattle,
his mind set on the mountains.
Dagda led the slow way back,
westward across the broad lands
turning from open tundra
to the short sight lines of trees.
Lir led the way to the sea,
on rock island stepping stones
from Aegean to Malta,
and starred Hyperborea.
Long before the tribes had come
to Eriu they had known
one another from the depths
of time before history.
I fostered child of Brigid,
raised among the Western Norse,
son of a priestess mother,
raped and taken from Temuir,
here alone on this west shore
declare the Lebor to be
a monkish fraud only meant
to advance the evil Church.
May earthquakes strike their churches,
may winds erase their black words,
may rising seas again flood
their towered monuments.
I see in Brigid’s forehead eye
the coming age ending not
merely by skyrock and flood
but by volcanoes, earthquakes,
storms and seas rising against
all the cities of the world.
A thousand years from today
this cursed monkish age will end.
I the unnamed of the filidh,
of no man’s world recite this,
knowing I will never see
in light what I see in dark.
To read the original text of the Lebor Gebala Erenn, see http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/celtic/irish/lebor.html
William Irwin Thompson (born July, 1938) is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He has made significant contributions to cultural history, social criticism, the philosophy of science, and the study of myth. He describes his writing and speaking style as “mind-jazz on ancient texts”. He is an astute reader of science, social science, history, and literature. He is the founder of the Lindisfarne Association.
His book, Still Travels: Three Long Poems was published in 2009 by Wild River Books. Order a copy from Amazon.
Works by William Irwin Thompson
Memoir – Farewell Address at the Lindisfarne Fellows Conference
Memoir – Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne: 1972
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part I
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part 2: A Community in Fishcove, Long Island
Memoir – Building a Dream – Part One: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – My Dinner with Andre Gregory: Lindisfarne-in-Manhattan, 1977-1979
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Shadow Side Part Two: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Cathedral Part Three: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Conclusion: The Economic Relevance of Lindisfarne
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary: Reflections of a Homeschooling Parent
Memoir – Sex and the Commune
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary
Memoir – With Gregory Bateson’s Mind in Nature
After Heart Surgery: Hokusai’s Great Wave
A Lazy Sunday Afternoon
Nancy Grayson’s Bookstore
On Reading “The Penguin Book of English Verse”: on my iPad and Exercise Bike
Wild River Books/Poetry – Nightwatch and Dayshift: Cezanne
Anatolian Days and Nights and the Cultural Evolution of Spirituality
And the Votes are In: The American Elections of 2010
Avatar – When Technology Displaces Culture
Bedtime Story for a Civilization
The Big Picture: Reflections on Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
The Big Picture, II
Child Abuse and the Catholic Church
The Digital Economy of W. Brian Arthur
From Shamanism to Religion, Part Two
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality, Part Three
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality: Conclusion
January 1, 2011: Reflections on the Philosophical Notions of Republicans
January 6, 2011 – Part Two: The Etherealization of Capitalism
Nature and Invisible Environments
Of Culture and the Nature of Extinction
On Nuclear Power
On Religion – Part One
On Religion and Nationalism: Ireland, Israel, and Palestine
On Transnational Military Interventions
A Pagan Ur-Text of the Lebor Gebála Érenn
Part 1 – The Shift from Industrial to a Planetary Civilization
Part 2 – The Shift from an Industrial to Planetary Civilization
Part 3 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The Recovery of a Cosmic Orientation
Part 4 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – The Global War for Drugs
Part 5 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The New Jerusalem
Part 6 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Catastrophes as the Spur to Institute Tricameral Legislature
Part 7 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Complex Dynamical Systems and Tricameral Legislatures
Part 8 – The Shift from a Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Israel and Palestine: Sic transit gloria mundi
Part 9 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – On Sarah Palin and the Technocratic Society
Part 10 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – On Conspiracy Narratives as Expressive of the Transition from the Nation: State to the Noetic Polity
Part 11 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Global Awareness and Personal Identity
Part 12 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Conclusion: The United Nations
Political Meditation for the Fourth of July, 2011: Can We Shift from Empire Back to Republic?
St. David’s Day, 2011, Technology and Social Change
Saint Patrick’s Day, 2010: Us and Them: Identity and the State
Some Reflections on Hurricane Sandy and an Outline for a New Civilization
Technical Hubris: and the Sinkhole of Obama’s Centrism
Television and Social Class
Thanksgiving Day, 2010: The Uses and Abuses of History
The Elections of 2010
Thoughts on My new Kindle App: on My Mac iPad