Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Old Man of the Sea

I remember asking him -- as simply as one might ask about the tides, or the weather -- what he thought of the elements. And he answered as simply. “Fire is God’s touch,” he said: “and light is God himself and water is the mother of life.”

I asked him if he thought the old gods were dead. He asked why. I said that he had just spoken of water as the mother of life and yet that he had often told me legends of Manan, the god of the sea.

“No,” he answered, “they are not all dead. They think we are. They do not change. They are very patient, the old ancient gods. Perhaps it is because they do not care at all, no, not a whistle of the wind, for what we think or what we do.”

“But,” he added, “some have died. And some are very old, and are sleeping, till they get their youth again.”

“And Manan ... does he live?”

“Ay, for sure. He was here before Christ came. he will see the end of all endings. They say he sleeps in the hollows of great oceans, and sits on mountain-bergs at the Pole, chaunting an ancient chant.”

-- Fiona Macleod, “Seumas: A Memory” (from The Winged Destiny)


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