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padodes
2009-08-11 20:01:07
Iconic Paps
I think paulocon’s comment on the iconic value of the Paps (of Dana) is certainly true in a historic sense. Mountains like these bring us into contact with the deep relationship that not alone the Celts but also the previous inhabitants of our island, going back to Neolithic times, have had with the Irish landscape, and it is one that hasn’t lost its significance in the 21st century either.

In Dana (Danu or Anu) we have the mythological figure of one of the great Mother-Goddesses revered by the Celts, strongly associated with fertility and prosperity. It has often been pointed out that such Celtic divinities relate back to an earlier Neolithic Mother-Goddess, whose cult can be found right across Europe. Without being aware of it, no doubt, the Celts were turning to a Dea Mater in much the same way as the Neolithic farmers had done millennia before them, seeking the same favours. The cairn-covered Paps are a megalithic reminder of this continuity, even though the present Irish name, Dhá Chích Danann, is of Celtic origin. What I find interesting in relation to the Paps is that the mountains are not just considered to be the resting place of the Goddess, a mere topographical footstool. They have taken the actual shape and form of her rich and promising bosom. They are she. One could speak of animistic identity.

All of this might seem far away from our present-day approach to mountains long divested of their divinities and any sacral character. Curiously, though, in the language of modern ecology it isn’t hard to find in all but name a growing reverence for an almost personified Nature on whose threatened bounty our survival depends.
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