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Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music

DigiTrad:
ANN O' HETHERSGILL
WAULKING SONG


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open mike 08 Jan 03 - 06:43 PM
GUEST 08 Jan 03 - 06:48 PM
open mike 08 Jan 03 - 07:02 PM
CarolC 08 Jan 03 - 07:03 PM
open mike 08 Jan 03 - 07:05 PM
CarolC 08 Jan 03 - 07:10 PM
GUEST 08 Jan 03 - 07:15 PM
Malcolm Douglas 08 Jan 03 - 07:40 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 08 Jan 03 - 09:45 PM
Peg 08 Jan 03 - 11:20 PM
michaelr 08 Jan 03 - 11:27 PM
Sorcha 09 Jan 03 - 12:48 AM
Peg 09 Jan 03 - 09:23 AM
curmudgeon 09 Jan 03 - 09:27 AM
GUEST 09 Jan 03 - 09:40 AM
Dani 09 Jan 03 - 11:26 AM
CarolC 09 Jan 03 - 11:36 AM
Peg 09 Jan 03 - 12:23 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 03 - 12:26 PM
Schantieman 09 Jan 03 - 01:57 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM
Peg 09 Jan 03 - 06:05 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 09 Jan 03 - 06:36 PM
Malcolm Douglas 09 Jan 03 - 09:46 PM
CarolC 09 Jan 03 - 10:43 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 09 Jan 03 - 11:00 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Jan 03 - 12:39 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 10 Jan 03 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,Robin Harrison 10 Jan 03 - 09:52 PM
Sorcha 10 Jan 03 - 10:52 PM
open mike 10 Jan 03 - 11:03 PM
Snuffy 11 Jan 03 - 06:45 AM
GUEST 11 Jan 03 - 10:36 AM
CarolC 11 Jan 03 - 11:07 AM
CarolC 11 Jan 03 - 11:10 AM
open mike 13 Jan 03 - 08:37 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 13 Jan 03 - 10:24 PM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Jan 03 - 11:42 PM
GUEST,McWilliams 16 Nov 12 - 03:59 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: open mike
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 06:43 PM

I am interested in helping a friend with research on
celtic or gaelic songs for weaving tweed. He has a
theory that there is a connection between waulking
or welking or whelking and silkies or mermaids...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 06:48 PM

Open Mike,

Can you please stop putting unneeded line breaks in your posts. It's really annoying

Thank you


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: open mike
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:02 PM

guest--who are you? And what is a line break and how do they get into my postsand how do io get them out? i just type straight in and click
submit...sorry you are annoyed by broken lines..or whatever...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: CarolC
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:03 PM

You might be able to find something out in one of these sites:

Google search keywords "Norman Kennedy" waulking


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: open mike
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:05 PM

after clicking submit for the previous message I saw a box called auto- matic line breaks at the bottom of this box--I presume this feature is something that every mud cat has available to them-am i the only one who has this annoying (to you-whoever you may be) feature? I shall un-click it and see if this makes your life better.....it is now un-clicked


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: CarolC
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:10 PM

I looked at your 07:02 post in this thread with "view source" in Internet Explorer, open mike. You have a "hard" line break after the word click. Did you hit your "enter" key after you typed that word? That could be why your lines are short and a bit broken up. I think that is what the GUEST was rather tactlessly referring to.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:15 PM

Try here on Gaelic song:

http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/~craig/gaelsong.html

This article on waulking:

http://www.siliconglen.com/scotfaq/8_2.html

This bibliography:

http://www.music.gla.ac.uk/HTMLFolder/Research/NetMuse/Demo/Gaelic/HTML_Docs/Further_Reading.html

Track down the Greentrax CD called "Waulking Songs of Barra"

If I can think of anything else, I'll let you know. I'm curious as to what this research is? Sounds like the research has to do with folk beliefs linking mermaid legends and songs to waulking songs? Is that it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:40 PM

I'm puzzled. Why does your friend think there is a connection between waulking and small molluscs?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 09:45 PM

I agree with Malcolm. What is the theory, and why?

Why would they think there is a connection with sea creatures?

Gaelic Waulking songs were composed by the women
about their every-day lives. They were just talking about their own lives.

What are you looking for specifically? IF you are looking for the Gaelic Songs, try:

An Cliath Clis

We have 90 some songs. They are all in Gaelic. Some of
them have a translation.

IS that what you're after?

Don't worry about Guest's complaints. Nothing wrong
with what you did!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Peg
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 11:20 PM

there are many references to the sea in Gaelic song; but not necessarily in waulking songs...although there is at least one of these that is about gathering seaweed...
there was a woman (scholar and singer) who gave a very interesting talk at the Harvard Celtic Colloquium this past autumn about the imagery of the sea in Gaelic songs sung by women...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: michaelr
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 11:27 PM

Open mike -- can you tell us a bit more about your friend's theory? I'm interested in the selkie myths.

Peg -- that sounds like a fascinating lecture. Do you by chance remember the woman's name?

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Sorcha
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 12:48 AM

I do have sheet music to Waulking of the Fauld, but no words as far as I know. Would you like to have it? It is supposed to be a waulking song.......3 pages and the rythym is really ugly..........


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Peg
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:23 AM

Michael; I will have to check out the program but give me a little while to dig it out...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: curmudgeon
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:27 AM

Try to find a copy of the LP "Heather and Glen." It has some fine field recordings of waulking songs. Also, I think Norman Kennedy has recorded one or two -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:40 AM

I too would be interested in finding out who the speaker was Peg. As to the research, one needn't have direct references to selkie/mermaids in waulking lyrics for the research to be valuable. So little research has been done on women's songs in Gaelic music, and the influence of women's songs on the broader tradition, that I would think any research on them would be welcome.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Dani
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:26 AM

One of our own Mudcatters did a workshop on these songs at the FSGW Getaway a couple years ago. It was fascinating!

Mr. Swann, unless I miss my guess, is it your lovely wife? She seemed to know lots and lots.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: CarolC
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:36 AM

The rythm of the songs has to do with the waulking process, Sorcha.

After several yards of tweed are woven, the cloth is cut off the loom and the beginning end and end end are sewn together to create a big loop of cloth. The tweed is soaked to thoroughly wet it, and then it is arranged in a loop around a large hard surface, like a big table or something.

The women arrange themselves around the table and each one grabs hold of the part of the loop that is directly before them. They grab, then smack the cloth hard on the table, and then pass their bit of cloth to the next woman. So the rythm of the song would have to be able to fit with this series of movements: grab - smack - pass, grab - smack - pass...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Peg
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 12:23 PM

The woman's name is Mairi Sine Chaimbeul, and the title of her talk was "The Sea as an Emotional Landscape in Gaelic Song."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 12:26 PM

The Gaelic singer and teacher from Sabhal Mór Ostaig?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Schantieman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 01:57 PM

Isn't/wasn't (I can't imagine it being allowed nowadays) the cloth soaked in urine for this process? If so, why?

Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM

to soften it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Peg
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 06:05 PM

yes, that's her.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 06:36 PM

Well, the urine was stale, and therefore odourless. The ammonia of the urine was partly used as a fixative. The urine also allowed the process to help clean the cloth of dirt, and other material still in the cloth. These days there are other products to do the jobs mentioned.

The entire process takes time, but it passes quickly while singing.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:46 PM

And you really do need to sing to pass the time when throwing around a huge lump of wool soaked in piss! Not terribly romantic (and surely stale urine smells worse than fresh?) and most of the songs seem to have been far from romantic, too. Hence my doubts about cutesy mermaids; and whelks, come to that.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: CarolC
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 10:43 PM

The singing also helps keep the women moving with the same rythm. That helps things work much more smoothly than might be the case without the song. I imagine it's not unlike the way chanteys and other types of work songs help people all keep the same rythm.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:00 PM

As I said earlier, the songs are of women's lives. This would include women dumped by men of higher status, or women talking about other iniquities in their lives.

The urine would have been in the barrel for many months, and would have lost any odours after that long a period, Malcolm. That's according to the record. Personally I have never encountered urine sitting around for that length of time.

What ARE whelks? Some kind of mollusk, I gather. I don't remember any songs of that subject. Or of mermaids.

Most of the songs are about love lost, rejected or love hopeful. Many songs brought to the waulking table in recent years are songs of the sea. They have similar rhythms and steady beats.

Usually we sing these songs with enthusiasm. It's the best way to do it.

I would really like to hear this theory.

Open Mike, any chances of your friend coming to tell us of it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 12:39 AM

I'm afraid I was being a bit disrespectful, wasn't I! Although many of the songs were about love and the like, many also were relative impromptus in which (if it isn't too facile a point to make in the circumstances) the participants "took the piss" out of each other, or others well-known locally. Same principle as many other kinds of work-song, including shanties, of course.

On reflection I expect you're right about stored urine; any suspended solids (which would probably be the originators of potentially offensive odours) would settle out over time. How long was it actually stored for before use, though? Urine was widely used in the tanning and dyeing trades (as were dog faeces and oak bark, but that's a bit off-topic) and was commonly collected daily, though I can't remember if it was habitually matured before use.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 11:01 AM

You are QUITE eloquent and elegant in your description of their impromptu creation of songs. I was trying to get that across, but couldn't think of how to explain the earthiness of it. I think you captured it very well, Malcolm.

As I said previously, the urine would have been collecting over a couple of months in a barrel or large container of some sort.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST,Robin Harrison
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 09:52 PM

I heard this story many years ago.
      Peter Kennedy,the great English BBC collector of folk songs,was recording waulking songs as the women worked.He was being very assiduous and serious about the opportunity extended to him and was making the assumption the meaning of the songs ,which of course he could not understand,was stuff like.....isn't this wonderful cloth,great catch of herring yesterday,looks like Morag is pregnant AGAIN etc.At a later date someone translated the words and they were saying stuff like "who's the twit in the old suit" " some stiff from London" and much worse.The singing was indeed impromptu !!
    I believe he told this story against himself. Nice story.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:52 PM

LOL! but, does open mike want my sheet music or not? Sorry,but imnsohi, piss smells like piss and I don't care how old it is.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: open mike
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 11:03 PM

i am interested in any of the resources that may be related to this thread. From my years of spinning and weaving studies,
I think that in my recollection of indigo dying, the best
urine to use for the color is from young fellows...not sure why?
maybe just because they would be the ones more willing to donate
without repercussions??
trying to imagine how the collection would occur??


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Snuffy
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 06:45 AM

I remember reading somewhere that in rural Wales they used to have "tea parties" for the specific purpose of collecting urine - perhaps the tannin helped.

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 10:36 AM

Around here we refer to the pot as "the thundermug". In the night, people had pots they would piss in, so as to avoid the nasty walk to the outhouse. The pot was emptied & washed out first thing in the morning. I'm sure some such similar ritual was routinely performed in Scotland, as it is everywhere else in the world, even today.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: CarolC
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 11:07 AM

This site has a nice description and illustrations of waulking events and of the waulking process itself. It also explains the use of urine as opposed to other agents.

http://www.houseofscotland.org/waulking.html

One site I was looking at that gave information about the old fulling mills said that sometimes villagers were paid a penny a bucket for their urine. I guess they just made their deposits into a bucket and when it was full, they'd take it to the fulling mill and recieve their pay. Another site said that in some places only the urine of preachers was used because it was supposed to be pure and free of alcohol.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: CarolC
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 11:10 AM

Oops. The site I linked to doesn't talk about other agents. Some of the sites discussed the use of fuller's earth and some kinds of plant alkali as the fulling agents or detergents that were used to remove oils from the wool. Apparently, in some places, particularly Ireland, these other agents were not available and urine was used instead.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: open mike
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 08:37 PM

Hi, I am "Open Mike"'s friend--Eric Whollem--with the theory that links waulking with the mermaids, or selkies.

[The term "whelk" has nothing at all to do with this correlation, which is drawn from comparative folklore of various nations].

First off, in the Greek world the Weavers was a designation of the Fates, or the three Moerae, which were the three aspects of Aphrodite.
Although she is a separate Goddess from Aphrodite, Athena is said to have taken a porpoise form in her marriage to Poseidon (as Amphitrite). The oracle of Athena was Arachne, the weaver (albeit a spider). So both Athena and Aphrodite, as sea Goddesses, have connections to the weavers.      

Seals are said in Greek lore to be the offspring of the Nereids, the oceanic nymphs who were the children of the Oceanids Nereus and Doris. The Nereids are said to be the "Goats of the Sea." But elsewhere in the Greek milieu--Crete to be exact--the foam of the sea is said to be made from Wool. Is this wool the wool of the Nereids, the seals, or sea nymphs? And in Crete the Moon is said to be the spindle of the Weavers--the spindle of the Mermaids--the Fates.      

Sea Rams are found in mythology in various parts of the world. Agni, the Sea God, in India is said to have as his consort a Ram. And in Scandinavia Heimdall the White Ram is husband of Ran the Sea Goddess. Thus Rams and wool mythically have been aspects of the sea for centuries. But originally the impetus to associate mystic waters with Rams and wool may have begun in ancient Persia where Yama was the SHEPERD of the dead by the waters of the river of the dead--later to be transformed into Ymir in Scandinavia--and to Yomi in Japan. Marija Gimbutas also notes many ancient Ram clay effigies from ancient Europe with aquatic symbols. Eaganna, the Babylonian Goat-Ram-Fish, is one of the major gods of ancient Mesopotamia. Thus the roots of the mermaid associations of waulking music run deep.

Why do mermaids weave? There may be an ancient connection to fishing nets: the Net of Ran may be a sister of the Veil of Isis and the Net of Indra. My view is that the Eleusinian mysteries dealt specifially with the mystery of the veil of the mermaids. But there is not time to go into that here. One of the lost works of Orpheus, the founder of the Egyptian rites at Delphi is said to be "The Veil."

The mermaid in Russian folklore is Rusalka or Rusalki--which I see as etymologically akin to the Celtic term Selkie, especially as the Rusalkis are said to be Weavers of Silk in their underwater domain. (Shioda is Gaelic for silk.)So basically it seems logical to connect waulking--wool working--with the mermaids, as historically the weavers of the sea have an especial connection to wool. Also the text of many of the waulking songs deals with aquatic themes: boats, reincarnation via seal form, "the silk of Galway" etc. My interest in gathering the
texts of waulking music is to glean such oceanic metaphors for comparative analysis. Not all waulking music contains aquatic metaphors, for the role of the Fates is interwoven in all manifestation, terrestrial as well as otherworldly. It's the basic inspiration that is archaic--linked to the Mediterranean mythos, etc.

In Ireland bards whose message is prophetic are called "Vates"--is this not another connection to the Mediterranean milieu where the Fates are the three mermaid sisters? Chanting is preeminently the function of the Fates, whose inspired words might guide human destiny.
In this sense the bardic milieu of the Celts, in it's everyday songs of work, where wool is concerned--the waulking songs--may well be linked to the voice of the Mermaids.
   
   Thanks for the many inquiries into the link between the wool working music of the Celts and the Selkies.

(I have written a book --out of print--entitled "The Mystery of the Mermaids; Goddesses and Gods of the Sea;" and some of my selkie
poetry can be found on the poetry page of my Website: Whollem's Earth Art.")


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 10:24 PM

Thanks for the explanation. I personally don't think there is a link between the subjects. Very little of the waulking songs I am familiar with deals with the ocean, except when they are lamenting the fellow who is off over the ocean and not at home.

Very incidental. Interesting ties. Thanks for the information.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 11:42 PM

I'm with George on this one. An awful lot of that, though certainly interesting, has a very Gravesian ring to it. Waulking is not weaving, however, and perhaps you might be better off looking at surviving weaving songs. Having said that, seals are occasionally mentioned in waulking songs (but often simply as a poetic commonplace associated with the sea); the only example I can think of at the moment that actually mentions a transformation (into "an animal without horns", though a seal does seem to be meant) is Oran Mu'n Ghruaghaich-Mhara (Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol.IV issue 16, 1911; Norman MacDonald, Gesto Collection, 1895), which was noted by Frances Tolmie in Skye, 1862.

The great majority of waulking songs, however, do not mention seals or sea-women (mermaid is perhaps not the best term to use, as representing something rather different in popular culture), and the sea-imagery is no more than we might expect from people living on small islands. An interesting hypothesis, nevertheless; thanks for posting it. In précis it does seem to rely over-heavily on speculative etymology and some quite large assumptions, though; I shall have to read the book some time if I come across a copy, and get a better picture of the full argument.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: (waulking) tweed making music
From: GUEST,McWilliams
Date: 16 Nov 12 - 03:59 AM

I can imagine the rhythmic similarities of ocean waves, rowing, scrubbing the decks of ships, pulling in the nets, flensing the fat and flesh of whales and seals; throwing and passing along the cloth in the fulling process, clockwise, repetitively; weaving, throwing the [thing that holds the horizontal thread of the loom -- shuttle?], shifting up and down, back and forth of the planes of the loom; and other tasks equally tedious in repetition. I can imagine the communal aspect of the work shared by many hands. I can imagine these tunes in rhythm with the hands and the sounds of the materials and machines.

So little exists of a "factual" nature in the historic record of Celtic peoples. Into such vacuums, mythology does tend to grow and fill in the gaps of [the newcomer to human evolution: empiricism and the triumph of reason] "truth." These functions (weaving, shearing, shepherding, felting, and waulking) are so ubiquitous as to be called "universal": in meeting the human survival of weather, gorse and heather, tending to animals, and survival of cultural signifiers such as styles and kinds of weaving and layering of clothing, oral history preserved in song and story, and the like (speak to me, O Muse ... ). In a poetic sense -- no less "valid" than in the inky pages recording history and myths -- the urge to tie together thematically all of the simultaneous occurrences of materials, images, tools, songs, whether sacred or mundane, mundane in sacredness, sacred in mundanity, is very pleasing to my mind. Modern science of the mind has a technical term: pattern recognition. Also pleasing are the gaps, mystery, strangeness, contradiction. To deny the mystery, to live the illusions of hubris, myths tell us will only lead to danger and destruction.

I liked Eric's descriptions of juxtapositions of world myths, creatures, work, and narratives. If only persons and nations were willing to de-center their mythic narratives -- some want to see a unifying genius, other want to let narratives reside on the same plane together, not privileging one over another -- perhaps less blood would soak the clothing of those who cannot and will not permit the coexistence of ones who only seek to live and let live.

My $0.02,
Anne


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