Alba cona Lingantaibh

by Seonaid

You who have been in the charmed West have seen the gloom and the shine of the mountains that throw their shadow on the sea – have heard the wave whisper along that haunted shore which none loves save with passion, and none, loving, can bear to be long parted from. You, unlike so many who delight only in the magic of sunshine and cloud, love this dear land when the mists drive across the hillsides, and the brown torrents are in spate, and the rain and the black wind make a gloom upon every loch, and fill with the dusk of storm every strath, and glen, and corrie.

Not otherwise can one love it aright: "Tir nam Beann s'nan gleann' s'nan ghaisgach," as one of our ancient poets calls it --- "The land of hills, and glens, and heroes." You, too, like Deirdre of old, have looked back on "Alba" and, finding it passing fair and dear, have, with the Celtic Helen, said in your heart---

Inman tir in tir ud thoir.
Alba cona lingantaibh!
"Belovéd is that dear land,
Alba of the lochs."

In the mythology of the Gael are three forgotten deities, children of Delbaith-Dana. These are Seithoir, Teithoir, and Keithoir. One dwells throughout the sea, and beneath the soles of the feet of another are the highest clouds; and these two may be held sacred for the beauty they weave for the joy of eye and ear. But now that, as surely none may gainsay, Keithoir is blind and weary, let us worship at his fane, rather than give all our homage to the others. For Keithoir is the god of the earth; dark-eyed, shadowy brother of Pan; and his fane is among the lonely glens and mountains and lonelier isles of "Alba cona lingantaibh."

If we could hear the wind blowing along Magh Mell -- the Plain of Honey -- we might list to a new note, bitter-sweet: and, doubtless, the waves falling over the green roof of Tir-na-Thonn' murmur drowsily of a shifting of the veils of circumstance, which Keithoir weaves blindly in his dark place. But what was, surely is; and what is, surely may yet be. The form changes; the essential abides. As the saying goes among the islefolk: The shadow fleets beneath the cloud
driven by the wind, and the cloud falls in rain or is sucked of the sun, but the wind sways this way and that for ever.

It may well be that the Celtic Dream is not doomed to become a memory merely. Were it so, there would be less joy in all Springs to come, less hope in all brown Autumns; and the cold of a deathlier chill in all Winters still dreaming by the Pole. For the Celtic joy in the life of Nature – the Celtic vision – is a thing apart: it is a Passion – a visionary rapture. There is none like it among the peoples of our race.

Enjoy a beautiful winters day... my best friend is Cailleach and she stirs the cauldron of the Scottish heart. :)