Monday, July 19, 2010

Fairytale Gods

I reread Pat O'Shea's The Hounds of the Morrigan last week. I love this book for many reasons, but mainly because it is 674-pages of Irish fairytale. Epic struggle of good against evil, but even more than that, of innocence against corruption.

Pidge and his little sister Bridgit have no idea what they're doing, but help always shows up, because they are under the protection of the Dagda. While there are several gods and goddesses in this story, not all of them good (i.e., the Morrigan, the goddess of battle and destruction and rot), the Dagda seems to be a class above the rest.

In fact, it's easy to read the Dagda as simply God... I don't recall noticing much about the character of the Dagda, or about Pidge and Bridgit's relationship with him, when I read this book before, but on this reading (2nd? 3rd?), I paid more attention to the writing style and the themes and characters and such, which was all quite lovely. Anyway, I wanted to type of a scene from the beginning, when Pidge first meets the Dagda, whose voice whispers to him:
Pidge froze into a statue of himself. He didn't dare move. He sat with his eyes staring straight ahead not seeing anything, but feeling with the back of his neck. After a long, long moment of this, he tried to make his head vanish inside his body like a tortoise pulling into his shell.
It was as though he were getting ready to receive a blow on the head.
Don't be afraid, said the Voice. I am your friend.
Oh, what'll I do, thought Pidge fearfully.
Am I hurting you? the Voice asked with infinite gentleness.
Believe in my friendship.
"But, I'm afraid."
said the Voice.
Music flooded down the chimney as if it were water surging over the edge of a fall. It hushed--and there was a down-pouring of perfumed light, in accord with the clear and perfect notes of a solitary flute, in which the light rejoiced and danced.
It all faded and whispered away.
Look up!
Pidge looked up and saw the night-time. It was filled wiht glittering stars.
I write my name, said the Voice.
Out of the multitude, the biggest and brightest of the stars formed the word: DAGDA.
This scene is lovely in itself, and even better in the context of the story. But I think it's also a great depiction of what our interactions with the real God can or even should be like at times. It's so easy to lose the sense of wonder and pleasure, and get caught up in duty and guilt.

But the truth of the relationship, the heart of the matter, is the music and the mystery, the stars rearranging and the world seeming safe, beyond all reason. It's the quest and the questions, and not needing the answers because you know the Person is with you.

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