Tuesday, April 21, 2009
THE FLOOD AND THE FIRE
Creation and Apocalypse in Irish Myth and Prophecy
Anthony Murphy and Richard Moore
€19.95 (Stg£17.95); ISBN 978-1-905785-66-7; paperback; October 2009;
250 pages; colour illustrations
Every generation since the birth of Christianity has believed that Armageddon was close at hand. The very notion of apocalyptic events which all but wipe out mankind is deeply ingrained into prophecy and myth, but also in memory. The idea of a great judgement of mankind has become an essential ingredient in religious belief systems, but could these beliefs have a sound basis? Why do we harbour apocalyptic thoughts? Is it because we fear judgement, or because we have a visceral memory of great events in the distant past? Perhaps it is both?
The Flood and the Fire examines the ideas of cosmogony – the beginning of the human story – and eschatology – the fear of a final judgement of mankind – from a uniquely Irish perspective. Our mythology remembers Noah’s flood, and our prophecy hints at cataclysmic events in the future. Saint Patrick prayed for unique blessings for Ireland’s people to save us from great tribulation, and is said to have left guardians on seven mountains to watch over us.
Anthony Murphy, journalist and author, takes us on a journey through Ireland’s unique apocalyptic history, and examines on a scientific, spiritual and philosophical level the extraordinary potency of man’s eschatological complex.
That journey examines many diverse subjects, including the sanctity of the landscape, the 5,000-year-old stone monuments, the symbolism of light and fire, and of water and earth, the island paradises of myth, the ever-present belief in a cosmic otherworld, the honouring of the ancestors, the meaning of megalithic carvings, the study of the stars, the fear of the gods and of retribution through the destructive forces of fire and water.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of this study is its relevance to today. We consider ourselves the masters of technology, and forgers of our own destiny, but as we face the accelerating threat posed by global warming, by the increasing challenges of feeding and maintaining the earth’s seven billion inhabitants, is there an eschatological message for us? Do we stand on the brink of potential extermination? Should we incorporate ancient cosmological wisdom into our thinking as a means to save the planet – or is it already too late for that?
About the Authors
Anthony Murphy is the editor of the Dundalk Democrat and, with Richard Moore, co-author of Island of the Setting Sun: In Search of Ireland’s Ancient Astronomers. A photographer, graphic artist and avid amateur astronomer, Anthony has almost single-handedly assembled the website www.mythicalireland.com, which receives 2,500 unique visitors daily. Richard Moore is an artist, working mainly in oils and acrylics, who has been painting the ancient sites of Ireland for over 25 years.
The Liffey Press, Ashbrook House, 10 Main Street, Raheny, Dublin 5
Tel: 01-8511458. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.theliffeypress.com
Friday, April 17, 2009
Solon of Athens, the Greek statesman, met a “prodigiously old man” one time, on a visit to Egypt. This ancient elder of the world told Solon of many cataclysms which had purged the earth. “There have been and there will be many and divers destructions of mankind, of which the greatest are by fire and water, and lesser ones by countless other means”.
The previous incarnation of mankind, and the current one, are separated in world mythology and beliefs by a great inundation of the earth. The narrative of this deluge is universally familiar as the story of Noah and the great ark in which he sustained and protected life from utter destruction by the elements.
All across the world, from east to west and from north to south, the recounting of this great ferocious cleansing, this prolific but unconsummated washing of humanity, echoes among young and old, great and small.
If Nimrod's tower is a symbol of our desecration of cosmic sanctity, then Noah's ark is equally a symbol of hope, that we shall not be utterly removed from our place in the harmony of cosmos, and that we should once again plant our seed abroad on the face of the earth so that the flower of humanity should flourish and blossom with the earth's blessing, not retribution.
The waters of the great flood of the earth represented a baptism of sorts, a renewing of mankind and the natural order. We once again became infants, crawling and walking on the land and learning all over again what it was like to be nourished and nurtured and to give and take in equal measure, and to share in the wonders of creation. But our re-education in cosmic union taught us of the sacredness of the world, and the bitter necessities for that union to survive included the utmost requirement for restraint. The people of the new world urgently needed to grasp and maintain the infantile humility which had been demanded of them by the rapacious, apocalypic elements.
This is a brief snippet from my next book, currently in progress, which may or may not be called "The Flood and the Fire - the beginning and the end of the world in Irish myth and prophecy".