Friday, February 10, 2012

The Early Cornish Language

Cornish was spoken throughout Cornwall, The Isles of Scilly and to some extent in West Devon and Exeter until, following the battle of Hingston Down in 936, the Saxon king Athelstan drove the Cornish out of Exeter and declared the east bank of the river Tamar to be the border of his kingdom - a border which is of course still current today. Despite keeping his kingdom of Wessex separate from Cornwall, Athelstan still interfered with the Celtic monastic system. As the monasteries tended to be the originators and repositories of manuscripts it may be that this is responsible for the lack of extant texts from this early period of Cornish. It is not until around the time of the Norman conquest that a small number of documents start to appear, including the Bodmin Manumissions of the ninth/tenth century, giving the Cornish names of freed slaves, a Cornish-Latin vocabulary list called the Vocabulum Cornicum, and a short piece of advice about marriage dating from about 1200, which was found on the back of a charter dated 1340.



More at http://www.magakernow.org.uk/default.aspx

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Death of Edmund the Martyr ~ Abbo of Fleury

"King Edmund stood within his hall of the mindful Healer with Hinguar, who then came, and discarded his weapons. He willed to imitate Christ's example, which forbade Peter to fight against the fierce Jews with weapons. Lo! to the dishonourable man Edmund then submitted and was scoffed at and beaten by cudgels. Thus the heathens led the faithful king to a tree firmly rooted in Earth, tightened him thereto with sturdy bonds, and again scourged him for a long time with straps. He always called between the blows with belief in truth to Christ the Saviour.
The heathens then became brutally angry because of his beliefs, because he called Christ to himself to help. They shot then with missiles, as if to amuse themselves, until he was all covered with their missiles as with bristles of a hedgehog, just as Sebastian was. Then Hinguar, the dishonorable Viking, saw that the noble king did not desire to renounce Christ, and with resolute faith always called to him; Hinguar then commanded to behead the king and the heathens thus did. While this was happening, Edmund called to Christ still. Then the heathens dragged the holy man to slaughter, and with a stroke struck the head from him. His soul set forth, blessed, to Christ."

Abbo of Fleury c.985



Friday, January 6, 2012

The Battle of the Trees ~ Taliesin

"I have been in a multitude of shapes,
Before I assumed a consistent form.
I have been a sword, narrow, variegated,
I will believe when it is apparent.
I have been a tear in the air,
I have been the dullest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
I have been a book in the origin.
I have been the light of lanterns,
A year and a half.
I have been a continuing bridge,
Over three score river mouths."

Taliesin or Taliessin (c. 534 – c. 599) is the earliest poet of the Welsh language whose work has survived. His name is associated with the Book of Taliesin, a book of poems that was written down in the Middle Ages. His name means "Radiant Brow" (tal iesin in Welsh).



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anglo-Saxon Writings for Advent

"O, let not any believer who wishes to see God grieve for the world's end! They should grieve for the destruction of the world who have planted the root of their heart in the love of it, who do not seek the life to come, nor even believe in it; but truly, we, who know of all the joys of our heavenly homeland, should with one mind be hastening there. We ought to wish that we may swiftly travel there, and come there by the short way, because this world is afflicted with many sorrows, and made wretched by many evils.

What is this deathly life but a journey? Consider what it would be like to grow weary labouring on with a journey, and yet not to wish for the journey to end! The Lord said, "Behold this fig-tree, and all other trees: when they sprout leaves, then you know that summer draws near. So in the same way, when you see the aforementioned signs, then you may know that the kingdom of God draws near." Truly, by these words it is shown that the fruit of this world is falling. It grows so that it may fall; it sprouts up so that it may destroy with pestilence what had previously sprouted."




More at  http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2011/12/fruit-of-this-world-is-falling-anglo.html


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ogam

The ancient Irish writing known as Ogham is believed to be the earliest recorded script used in Celtic Ireland. The ancient Irish lived in a stable tribal society with learned men who preserved their history by means of this unusual written form of Gaelic. With references to books of the old testament, some of Ireland's early history is compared to biblical history. Some suggest that Ireland was first settled by the daughter of a Greek, hEiru (Erin), who is said to have given the country her name. It is also said that Ireland was inhabited prior to the time of Noah and the flood. Of course, this civilization would have been wiped out during the deluge.


There are references to Noah's son, Japheth, who came upon Ireland after the flood while exploring the seas for new land. The Japhethitic Magogians, named after Noah's son, Japheth, and grandson, Magog, are said to have been one of the earliest tribes to settle in Ireland. This tribe was also known as the Scythians. Their king, Phenius, took it upon himself to study letters and learned all seventy-two languages known at the time. He is credited with founding a college of languages and inventing Ogham. He also appointed Gadel to regulate the Irish language into five dialects known as Gaoidhealg, or Gaelic.


History referred to as the 'seven ages of man', beginning with year one, after the appearance of Adam. The date mentioned was 'the year of the world 2317', when the Scythians arrived in Ireland. I do not know how to convert that into modern chronology known as B.C. or Before Christ. Ogham script was used to record the earliest old Irish texts written in about the same era. Ogham inscriptions are found only in the Celtic countries of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Most are genealogical inscriptions on corners of large stone slabs.




Ogham letters are divided into four groups, each containing five letters, for a total of twenty Ogham letters. The Ogham alphabet consists of a series of vertical lines, with horizontal lines crossing it to represent vowels. Sometimes the vowels use dots rather than intersecting lines. When inscribed on stones, Ogham is written vertically from bottom to top. Various opinions exist on the exact origin of the script. Some say that it stemmed from a cryptic way of writing runes (a pagan alphabet of characters), and others claim that it was inspired from the Roman alphabet. Still others believe that it was an original invention.


The order in which the letters appear is a mystery because it is nothing like either the Roman or runic order of letters. The script seems to have some phonetic basis using the names of trees as the sound for each letter; and Ogham is sometimes known as the Celtic Tree Alphabet.


Many years later, old Irish was written with an Irish stylized version of the Roman alphabet, and Ogham disappeared. Some knowledge of Ogham must have been preserved in some form, as its provenance is notated in the fifteenth-century work 'The Book of Ballymote', which also contains other histories of Ireland.




Monday, November 28, 2011

Celtic Advent

Celtic Advent is always Nov. 15-Dec. 24 (Observance begins at Sunset on Nov. 14). The Dates are the same for Eastern Orthodox Advent (Nativity Fast).


For those Christians that observe the Church Seasons, Advent is theChurch Season just before Christmas. In what is referred to as the Western Church (Roman Catholics and Protestants, including Anglicans) observance of Advent Season occurs during the period of the four Sundays before Christmas. The beginning of Western Advent can therefore fall any time between November 27th and December 3rd.


Advent ends on December 24th at sundown, the beginning of Christmas Eve (for Roman Catholics, when December 24 falls on a Sunday, as it did in 2006, the Sunday obligation for Catholics to attend Church still applies, and it is treated as the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and the Vigil of Christmas begins at Evening Prayer I, later that day).





Our English word advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means arrival. In the Latin Vulgate of Jerome, this was the word used to translate the Greek word parousia, which in the New Testament refers to the Second Coming of Christ. So in Advent season we reflect on the two advents, or arrivals of Christ. The Nativity, the birth of Christ, the coming of the Christmas celebration. And also on the Second Coming of Christ, for which, since we do not know when it will be (or the time of the end of our own lives), we should always be ready.


Advent has historically been a time for reflection and prayer. Christ, the Messiah, will be born in Bethlehem, he will save us from our sins. On Christmas day we will celebrate His Nativity, his birth, His First Coming. Christ will come again, to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. Let us use this time of preparation for the celebration of His First Coming to especially prepare our hearts and lives for His Second Coming.


From its origin in the 4th century and on, it was also a time of fasting. The fasting portion was first dropped by the Protestant Churches, and then by the Roman Catholic Church, but is still observed in the Eastern Orthodox Communions.During the time of ancient Celtic Christianity, the entire Church, both Western (including the Celtic Christians), and Eastern (the Orthodox Communions, Oriental Churches, and Eastern Rite Roman Catholics) all celebrated a longer Advent Season as a lesser Lenten fast.


It began on the same date every year on November 15th (Orthodox Churches still observe it as beginning on this day). In the early Church (and going back also through the Old Testament era) and still currently inOrthodox and Roman Catholic practice, every day (liturgical day) officially begins at sundown of the previous date (in this case, sundown on the 14th begins the liturgical observance of the 15th of November).


Observance of Advent appears to have taken place since the 4th Century (300's A.D.) Like Lent, it originally was a season when new Christians studied in preparation for being baptized. In the early Middle AgesAdvent was the Season of preparing oneself for the Second Coming of Christ. It was a season of repentance and dedication to prayer.


Advent seems to have been a result of the observance of the Celticmonks in Gaul, which was taken and combined with a similar three to six-week period of fasting that had been observed in the city of Rome before Christmas (remember, France was still known by the Roman name of "Gaul" in this era, and was still a Celtic country at this time--this was even before St. Patrick converted Ireland---and there were as yet no IrishCeltic monks!).


The Gallic fast (in modern-day northern France) began at sundown after the celebration of the Feast Day (Nov. 11th) of Martin of Tours, a Roman Cavalry officer who became a Christian and founded the first monastery in Gaul (modern-day France).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Coming of Welsh

The construction of Offa's Dyke in the late eighth century was a turning point in Britain's history. It effectively marked out a boundary between the Britons of the west (now Wales) and Germanic tribes of the east (now England) - although there still remained Welsh speakers living to the east of the boundary and English speakers to the west.

Wales, given a geographic expression by the Dyke, was to enjoy a cultural and political autonomy that lasted until the Norman invasions. The word Cymry had been used as early as the seventh century, but it now became popular to describe the Welsh. Derived from the Brittonic word Combrogi, meaning fellow countryman, it is also the origin of the place name Cumbria.



As the Welsh kingdoms developed behind the Dyke, the Welsh language began to assume official status. Whereas previously Latin was the main language of writing, early in the ninth century its alphabet was adapted for the writing of Welsh.

A memorial in Tywyn dated to 810 AD carries an inscription in Early Welsh, barely understandable to a modern Welsh speaker: "Cingen celen tricet nitanam" translates as "The body of Cingen dwells beneath". And glosses in Welsh - that is, written notes in margins - have been found on ninth and 10th century medieval manuscript.

More at http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/themes/society/language_official.shtml
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