Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Carmina Gadelica

I've been browsing through the Carmina Gadelica, the collection of Celtic prayers, blessings, and charms compiled by Alexander Carmichael. As Roger explains in ECHO:
[He] went on to tell them about the Reverend Carmichael, who had combed the Highlands and the Isles in the nineteenth century, talking with people, urging them to sing him their songs and tell him their ways, collecting “hymns, charms, and incantations” from the oral tradition wherever he could find them, and had published this great work of scholarship in several volumes, called the Carmina Gadelica.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46 ("Ley Lines"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Some of the prayers are really quite beautiful. Here, for example, is a Celtic prayer from the Carmina Gadelica, Volume III, that appears in FIERY CROSS. I like this one a great deal.

REST BENEDICTION

Bless to me, O God, the moon that is above me.
Bless to me, O God, the earth that is beneath me,
Bless to me, O God, my wife and my children,
And bless, O God, myself who have care of them ;

Bless to me my wife and my children,
And bless, O God, myself who have care of them.
Bless, O God, the thing on which mine eye doth rest.
Bless, O God, the thing on which my hope doth rest,
Bless, O God, my reason and my purpose.
Bless, O bless Thou them. Thou God of life ;
Bless, O God, my reason and my purpose,
Bless, O bless Thou them. Thou God of life.

Bless to me the bed-companion of my love.
Bless to me the handling of my hands.
Bless, O bless Thou to me, O God, the fencing of my defence.
And bless, O bless to me the angeling of my rest ;
Bless, O bless Thou to me, O God, the fencing of my defence.
And bless, O bless to me the angeling of my rest.
"Soul Peace" and "Soul Leading" (prayers that Jamie recommends to young Ian in VOYAGER) are listed in Volume I, as is the blessing Claire recites just before leaving Jamie in DRAGONFLY ("The Battle to Come").

There are a great many other Celtic prayers, charms, and blessings listed in the Carmina Gadelica. Not all of them are as solemn as the ones mentioned above. Here, for example, is the "Cud-Chewing Charm", from Volume II of the Carmina Gadelica, which Roger notes briefly in ECHO (p. 458 hardcover ed.) And there are several different blessings for smooring a fire.

If you want to see more from the Carmina Gadelica, look here for volumes I and II, and here for volume III.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to figure out the prayer/blessing that Jaime says after a hunt, or before butchering an animal to thank it for feeding the family. Any ideas or insights would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

The grealach prayer he says seems like it came from Psalms in the KJV in particular. Some hunters say the grealach prayer taken from the Bible, but I couldn't find that one. It may just be something that Gabaldon made up?