Final Summary

Going into my project, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to find.  I knew that there had to be some aspect of alteration to the Irish myths, given the lack of information about the old Irish deities, but I didn’t know how much or how obvious it would be as I read through the myths.  And when I first started out reading, I realized that it most likely would be very subtle changes.  For the most part, that was right, there were a lot of things that could very well be edits by the Christians that I only noticed due to it not feeling right.  For instance, the repeated use of the number 7 in a lot of the myths just seemed weird to me, because I already knew that number held a significance in Christian stories.  With further research, I found that the main sacred numbers of Irish mythology were three and five, with the importance of the trinity and the five provinces of Ireland being some of the reasoning behind that importance.  Due to this, it was a reasonable theory for me to make that the abundance of the usage of the number seven was an alteration by the Christian monks who wrote down the Irish stories.

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Blog Post 3

One factor that sets Irish mythology apart from other mythic traditions is the lack of a creation story.  In Greek mythology there is the story of Ouranos and Gaia, the birth of the Titans, and the separation of Earth and Sky.  In Egyptian Mythology there is the creation of the first gods including Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, and Nut.  And in Christianity there is the creation of the Earth by God over those seven days.  However, in Irish mythology, there is no story that dictates the creation of the world.  Whether it never existed, was erased by the scribes of their stories, or was lost to time is unknown.  The closest thing that exists to a creation story in Irish myth is the Lebor Gabála Érenn, or the Book of Invasions of Ireland.

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Blog Post 2

The story of the Táin Bó Cuailnge is a war story about the battle between the King and Queen Ailill and Medb and the warrior Cú Chulainn.  The beginning calls back to the birth of Cú Chulainn, and that story has a part that feels like it was added in later.  The myth tells that the King of Ulster, Conchobor, helped to rear a young boy with the help of his sister Deichtine, until the boy died of an illness.  Wrought with grief, Deichtine asked for a drink, and it is said that in that drink was a small creature that passed through her lips and vanished as she swallowed it.  In a vision reminiscent of the appearance of the Angel David about the birth of Christ, she is visited in a dream by a man who introduced himself as Lug mac Ethnenn.  Lug is a very prominent Irish god, however in this story he is not introduced as such, he merely says his name and that Deichtine was now pregnant with his son as a result of that creature in the drink.  The absence of mentioning he is a god struck me as interesting and is something that I mention again later with The Morrigan.

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Post 1

For the beginning of my project, I focused on immersing myself in Irish myth, keeping an eye out for anything that I recognized as familiar to Christianity, using my background knowledge and the knowledge I gained from preliminary readings of a few Bible stories.  I focused first on the Penguin Classics publishing of Early Irish Myths and Sagas.  In this collection was stories such as The Wooing of Etaín, a classic myth, and The Birth of Cú Chulaind, the beginning of one of the more prominent mythic heroes in Irish culture.  Throughout my reading of these myths, I did notice key points that piqued my interest in regard to the connection to Christianity.  For one, there is an odd pattern that had occurred in many of the myths where the people will say “I swear by the god my people swear by.”  I will need to look more into this, but it is my hypothesis that this phrase was a way for the scribes that wrote and edited the oral stories to remove the mentions of the pagan deities while still keeping it separate from Christianity.  This works to create the illusion of monotheism without forcibly converting the myths to swear by God, which would be frowned upon by Christians anyway.

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