Wednesday, March 30, 2011





I was born in a limestone valley. To live in a valley is to enjoy a private sky. All around, life is famed by the horizon. The horizon shelters life, yet constantly calls the eye to new frontiers and possibilities. The mystery of this landscape is further intensified by the presence of the ocean. For millions of years, an ancient conversation has continued between the chorus of the ocean and the silence of the stone.

No two stone shapes in this landscape are the same. Each stone has a different face. Often the angle of the light falls gently enough to bring out the shy presence of each stone. Here, it feels as if a wild, surrealistic God laid down the whole landscape. These stones, ever patient, ever still, continue to praise the silence of time. The Irish landscape is full of memory; it holds the ruins and traces of ancient civilization. There is a curvature in the landscape, a colour and shape that constantly frustrates the eye anxious for symmetry or linear simplicity. The poet, W. B. Yeats, in referring to this landscape, speaks of ‘… that stern colour and that delicate line that are our secret discipline’. Every few miles of road the landscape changes; it always surprises, offering ever new vistas which surprise the eye and call the imagination. This landscape has a wild, yet serene complexity. In a sense, this reflects the nature of Celtic consciousness.

The Celtic mind was never drawn to the single line; it avoided ways of seeing and being which seek satisfaction in certainty. The Celtic mind had a wonderful respect for the mystery of the circle and the spiral. The circle is one of the oldest and most powerful symbols. The world is a circle; the sun and moon are too. Even time itself has a circular nature; the day and the year build to a circle. At its most intimate level so is the life of each individual. The circle never gives itself completely to the eye or to the mind, but offers a trusting hospitality to that which is complex and mysterious; it embraces depth and height together. The circle never reduces the mystery to a single direction or preference. Patience with this reserve is one of the profound recognitions of the Celtic mind. The world of the soul is secret. The secret and the sacred are sisters. When the secret is not respected, the sacred vanishes. Consequently, reflection should not shine too severe or aggressive a light in on the world of the soul. The light in Celtic consciousness is a penumbral light.

No comments:

Post a Comment