Friday, 29 February 2008

Explore Mythology

Explore Mythology

Author: Bob Trubshaw
ISBN: 1872833621

For anyone outside of academia who wishes to learn about myths and/or mythology this is an amazing introductory book with which to start. I am so glad I purchased this book and so upset that I didn't read it the moment it arrived. I could have saved myself an awful lot time, energy and misunderstanding.

The book should have been subtitled: "Explore and challenge your understanding of myth". I have never had to many of my personal ideas challenged and changed by one book! Like most people, I normally have an aversion to my beliefs and ideals being challenged; it can be disconcerting. Mr Trubshaw makes the whole experience enjoyable by allowing you to think. He doesn't say "this is how it is" or "this is how you do it", but, rather, have you considered looking at it from over here? In other words, he positively encourages you to step into the shoes of another, be they from the ancient past or living just across the border from you. I revelled in the experience, oft times speed-reading through the chapters as I immersed myself in Mr Trubshaws words, changing my thoughts as I went.

I did have to slow my reading down, though, as I felt I was missing some very important points. Never have I learned so much, so quickly from so little. As Mr Trubshaw explains, once or twice, this book could have been so much larger; the range of topics could have been so much broader. As it is, this is a lovely little taster that will have you begging for more. Luckily, Mr Trubshaw has provided an extensive bibliography so the reader can follow up any of the ideas explored in the book. He also has a wonderful website dedicated to folklore, mythology, cultural studies and related disciplines - foamy custard.

Having read all but the last chapter (will finish it tonight), I now understand why I was having so much difficulty reading various myths from other cultures - I forgot that my mind was shaped by the cultural myths of the westernised society in which I live. Thanks to Mr Trubshaw, I can approach matters of time, sacred places, mindscapes, liminal space and my own cultural bias from hitherto unknown angles. I actually have a way of gaining insight into the meaning behind the myths of Ireland, Wales and Britain, whereas I had previously been struggling to gain even a toe hold.

I would encourage everyone to read this book and explore the foamy custard website. Why? So much of what Bob Trubshaw writes is relevant to day-to-day living. Having an understanding of the nature of politics, religion, the media, and the society in which we live and how these shape our personal myths, regardless of whether we live in a secular society or not, can enrich our understanding of our own values and, I believe, improve our quality of life.

Take the time to read this book. Although it can be used as a reference for all sorts of studies, it is probably be best read cover-to-cover in the first instance. Its not a hard book to read - Mr Trubshaw having simplified complex ideas so the reader may gain a tentative footing before embarking on an intense exploration.

I will certainly be looking at other titles by Bob Trubshaw, including his Explore Folklore. Oh, and if you do find this book refreshingly different and exciting, check out other titles published by Heart of Albion Press.

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Kilmartin Sessions: The Sounds of Ancient Scotland

I bought this CD at the same time I purchased "Compositions of Stone" from The Megalithic Portal. At first, I hated it and, in fact, it has sat indoors not being played at all. I found it rather grating.

However, I grabbed it by accident on my way out the door on my way to work. It was all I had in the car, so I played it and I have to admit it wasn't how I remembered. Now, either the brownies have been moving things in my house again, or I was in a strange mood when I first heard it.

It is a mix of strange musical combinations, but this is because the musicians use original and/or reconstructed instrumentswhich, although odd to modern ears, our ancestors would have been familiar. Instruments such as the 2,000 year old Caprington horn, the carnyx (the Carnyx was a long Celtic drone instrument made of beaten bronze and held vertically so that the sound travels from more than four metres above the ground. It was known through much of Europe from about 200BC to 200AD and was widely depicted, notably on the Gundestrup bowl which shows three carnyxes being played simultaneously. The end of the instrument is in the form of a wild boar's head, and it has a movable tongue and lower jaw!), and bird-bone flutes.

The CD is divided into six sections: Bones and Stones, Skin and Bone, Horn and Bronze, the Bronze Age Orchestra, The Sound of Battle (which is where the carnyx is heard), Hearing Pictish Stones, and the Cry of Prayer. Its certainly not your usual compilation of music! Some of the tracks sounds very similar, but this does not detract from the allure of the CD. Listening to it, I find myself being transported to other places. For reasons of safety, I have had to remove it from my car to be replaced by more conventional music. ;)

The CD is a project of the Kilmartin House Museum, which is an award winning world-class centre for archaeology and landscape interpretation established to protect, investigage and interpret the more than 350 ancient monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin, Argyll: 150 of which are prehistoric. I am not sure if funds from the sale of this CD contribute towards their fund-raising, but I hope so.

If you have a chance, do go and get a copy of this CD - it amazing!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Exploring Mythologies

An on-line friend of mine informed me she was starting up a new forum and asked if I would like an invite. Well, I am a member of quite a few at the moment, but given the help this person had offered over the last few years, I was interested to see what it would be like, especially once a description was given of what was intended.

So, on Monday I received an invite to this brand new forum. I've only been there for 48 hours and already I have learned more than I have at other fora in the last six months! It seems these fora are going to be full of useful ideas and interesting articles and I can already forsee spending much time participating. I just count myself lucky I received an invitation.

I am already considering dropping some of the other fora of which I am a regular participant, because I can see my friend's work will be far more valuable to my own line of thinking. The only problem is that I have already weeded out several useless e-groups and fora in the last 18 months, so I am not sure how I am going to decide on what to drop.

I can see I am going to have to do quite a bit of work over the coming months, but I look forward to it.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Pagan Motif Jewellery

Whilst surfing the net for a link to sheela-na-gigs, I stumbled across another jewellery site with items to put on my wish list, which I will do immediately upon finishing this entry. Its called Celtic Impressions and they do some lovely items including a spiral ring, triple spiral bracelet and pendant. Its a shame that the ring doesn't also come in silver, as I no longer wear gold. Though, I did notice there was a triple spiral ring available in gold. What's wrong with silver?

Anyways, I have spent a good hour browsing their site. I love their 2000 B.C-Newgrange collection and, especially, the Kerbstone and Dolmen pieces. If only I could win the lottery.

I adore the tripal spiral motif, so much so I am thinking of having it tattooed on my left shoulder - the right one is already occupied. Of course, I have to wait for the recommended tattooist to return from a sabbatical. Its very hard to find anything that incorporates this motif in the way of household items or jewellery. Odd, as it simple and quite beautiful.

I do like pieces that are inspired by the pagan art of early Europeans. I have no idea why - probably because it is so rare; the modern world having abandoned these old stylings as "quaint".

A lot of the pieces from Celtic Impressions remind me of the unique style of jewellery to be found in the Outer Hebrides and in the Orkneys. I am looking forward to seeing what the Sheltand Isles have to offer in the way of designs when I visit there later in the year.

As I do wear silver, its often hard to find modern, unique pieces. Its all a bit "ethnic" for want of a better word and looks rather cheap. That's why I love the designers to be found in the celtic countries. I just wish I had the funds to acquire more pieces.

Donations accepted!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


I had to deliver some horse chestnut wood to my friend's shop over the weekend. So, I called in and was snooping around as usual and she mentioned she had some new sterling silver charms.

I'm so glad I looked, as it turns out she had a lovely crystal ball charm, so I purchased it on the spot. If only I had the money to get the loose charms I have soldered on. I mentioned this to my friend and she is thinking about getting the equipment to do it herself, which will be grand, because every time my bracelet to a jeweller's to have the charmed affixed, they either forget to solder them or they bunch all the charms together. The last time I took them in, they attached a charm to the link used to close the bracelet.

As my friend has a new supplier, I am hoping she will get some more unusual charms in, preferably ones with colour or crystals, as mine is looking a bit plain. Well, as far as a charm bracelet with a pagan and witchcraft can look plain.