Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Echoes of a Not So Familiar Past

We pagans are the "country dwellers," the people of the earth, who in times of old were rooted to the places our ancestors had dwelt for generation upon generation. Not so anymore. And in truth, the people of my land have been migrating for several hundred years - sometimes over great distances and across oceans, sometimes between towns or regions within this "new land." My children have ancestors who arrived in Canada before it was even properly called by that name, but counting from the arrival of others they are second- or third-generation Canadians.

Who are we, what is our heritage? French? Celtic? Germanic? Canadian? Qu├ębecois? How we describe ourselves is perhaps a question best left to Elvis Gratton! A classmate of mine once said she felt anglophones in Quebec were like the Heinz57 of genealogy. It may be so.

When we hear the call of the gods, which ones do we hear? Those of the lands our people once inhabited, or of the lands they passed through on their way here? Do we hear the deities of this land that once belonged to other peoples, or maybe those of faraway places our people only visited in their dreams?

Certainly for many of us, there is a stirring deep within when we hear the music of bodhran and of bagpipe. The music of the ancient Celts, like the old Qu├ębecois folk music, never fails to get my toes tapping.

Many years ago I was introduced to Alan Stivell's Renaissance of the Celtic Harp. Some years later I learned to appreciate the songs of Manau - a rarity for me, as I am not generally a fan of rap. If you are familiar with Manau's "La tribu de Dana" you will perhaps recognize the melody of this earlier piece performed by Stivell. Perhaps it will call to you, and you will hear the echoes of a faraway place - long ago and not so familiar, yet somehow a part of you too.


For more on the song, sung in the language of Breton, check out this post at the Celtic Music Fan. It includes the lyrics and a general outline of what the song means.