Monday, August 13, 2007
...... Often when walking early in the morning one becomes aware how truly magnificent the clouds are. Whether the dull grey blankets that stretch from horizon to horizon, or the truly beautiful sunrise, as the colours chase gently across the sky.
Today this other nebulous natural world decided to set out its full array of outstanding creativity. Another world lives above our heads, great white mountains softly moulded, blue duck egg lakes lie tranquil amidst the snowy peaks. They are undershot with horizontal banding of dark grey islands and far to the west the grey blanket of rainclouds are already dispensing vertical misty shadows onto the earth below. The emerging sun delicately edges its attendant clouds with soft apricot and cream, it cannot gain dominancy just yet and bleach out all the colours.
No wonder the ancients looked up into this sky and wondered and saw a physical presence in nature, later, people turned this other world into the habitat of gods, and in doing so reduced the magnificence of nature to the paltry affairs of man.
Looking up and seeing this ethereal world, we are rationally expected to give names to the clouds, - cirrus, cumulus, nimbus, the following passage shows how easily latin words flows into the description of clouds or flowers.....
Just three Latin words unlock the meanings of most cloud names: Stratus meaning layer; cumulus, the word for lump or heap; and cirrus, which means wispy or curly. Add to this basic group the word nimbus, which means 'pouring down rain,' alto, the word meaning middle, and fracto for broken and you've got almost the entire sky covered.
Stratocumulus? That's easy - a layer of lumpy clouds. Cirrostratus - a wispy, curly layer of clouds. Cumulo-nimbus - big lumpy clouds that can pour down rain. How about fractostratus - a smooth layer of clouds that looks sort of torn apart.
There we have it, our beautiful world of clouds reduced to names, fairytales and myths long gone, but nature has no need of words, from a palette of colours the skies will be painted, billowing clouds will form animals, ships and people to the imaginative eye, clouds will race across the sun darkening the land and sea sometimes bringing such darkness as hurricanes and storms rage that it would seem the very end is near.
We cannot expect to go back to a past time, when the sky was god or the land a goddess, but it is comforting to know that once a very long time ago, before we became all knowing that the sky was indeed a mystical place, with its scattering of stars and great Milky Way and that it inspired stories.
The following link is an article written by John Vincent Bellezza, about the Divine Dyads of Tibet, or at least a part of Tibet. Before buddhism, or the Bon religion,there was an earlier neolithic/bronze age religion which fed into the later mythologies. The Divine Dyads are mountain (male) and lake (female) pairings of gods, and are part of the sacred landscape of Tibet, similar in fact to the early mythologised Celtic landscape of Ireland, with its four provinces and central Midhe..
In Bellezza's book Divine Dyads, he mentions circles and straight rows of stones similar to that found in European megalithic culture, but the nature of Tibet is such that very little archaeological work has been done. Though his book is long it is not exactly an easy read, this due to the fact that he uses the Tibetan language, to explain all the named gods, natural features, etc.
The Metrical Dinshenchas