© Tom Byrne
Author: Tom Byrne
In unwritten time,
Which compressed itself in the memory, not a chronicle,
When a word had life for as long as air would resound with it,
Then young Einigan Gawr turned the earth in the vale with his peers.
Each planting and harvest marked out the lifetime of Einigan Gawr.
He would sacrifice.
To secure his fortune he gave up part of his hard-tilled crop,
And his flocks, his labour and time, as priests would demand of him;
For they claimed that mankind had a duty to furnish the gods,
Who would, in return, make sunlight and rain serve the needs of mankind.
They had carved a stone.
And they said, it focussed the worship due to the god there marked;
For the people met and would kneel before it, well organised
By the priests, who evolved all the liturgy proper to use.
They taught it to children; thus was their canon ingrained from the start.
He accepted it.
For the priests revealed all the truths that he would require to know,
And they taught that anything else but these mattered not to him;
Like the mountains that bordered the vale, not a part of his life.
And Einigan Gawr would worship as taught and would work on the land.
But the Hot Years came.
And the sun and rain did not shine and fall as they had before,
But the sun shone on and excluded all of the cooling rain,
And the barley was burned in the ground and the apples on trees.
The withered flow thrashed, and writhed ineffectively over scorched stones.
And the deaths began.
First the lambs and calves on the parched hillsides when the grass was browned,
Then the old and young, when their weakened frames could not fight disease.
The adherents all stood at their idol and called on his name,
But Einigan Gawr dug graves for his wife and his child and his faith.
And he turned his back.
And he left his home and his fields and graves and his peers and gods,
And he climbed the hills he had only seen as he worked the land,
And he climbed to the top, and there pausing, to gaze on his world,
He studied the dead brown fields and the dry riverbed far below.
Then he found a cave.
And the burning sun made him seek the cool, dark interior.
And within the cave were a brackish pool and a bed of moss.
So the water and mosses, he mixed them together and drank,
And when the sun set, he sat at the mouth of his cave and he called:
"What did we do wrong?
What lapsed protocol, what liturgical flaw, could lead to this?
Is it punishment, have our gods grown tired of their supplicants?
Or has man been judged ripe; is it time for our souls to be reaped?"
He called and he cried, he sighed, then he slept in the cave till the dawn.
And the dawn was dull!
At the cave's mouth, Einigan Gawr saw clouds calm the sun's raw ire.
For a long time, Einigan Gawr gazed skyward and did not squint.
Then the cloud broke apart in three places and sunbeams streamed out.
A triad of light, one left and one right and one streaking straight down.
And the air was still,
But he heard a voice, and it called him: "Einigan Gawr, your wail
Cut a corridor from your mouth through brain, through your heart to soul,
And your body became a huge horn for that note of pure grief.
Your case has been made. Your anguish is answered, so listen to me:
See your vale below.
All the life down there is down there to change, to be born and die,
And if some die soon, and if some die late, that is as it is,
For each fragment down there is not there on account of itself;
The life that is there is there to proceed not alone, but as one."
"We proceed as one?
We proceed from what, we're proceeding where, and what ground's been won?
What can be distilled from the reeking must of our suffering?
Tell me, how can destruction be progress to many or one?
Why stagger this route? Is this just a cycle, or is there an end?
And he looked below,
In the valley Einigan Gawr saw fields and the tiny town
And the tiny folk at their tiny tasks filling tiny lives.
And he felt unimportant, a leaf blown about in the wind.
"Why am I alive? Why love when that love will be turned into grief?
Shall I see my wife
At some future time in some other world, and with her my child?
Will I know their smiles; will I laugh with them as I used to do?
Will I joyfully meet all the people I loved who are gone?
Is this just a tale we tell the bereaved to relieve mental pain?"
But the voice replied:
"All the things you loved in your wife and child, both their characters,
Both their smiles, their looks, both their dreams and deeds, both their tears and joys;
These were needed to see them through life, but that life is now past.
They need them no more. They grew them, and used them, but left them with death."
And he wailed again.
"For a second time I have lost my wife and my child, but now
It is permanent, not the transience that the priests describe.
What mad god made this world where my joy must be swamped by my grief?
Why give us the sense, when soon it will burn with the pain of some loss?"
And the sky turned black.
In the sultry shade sat a weeping Einigan Gawr, no more
Interested in what he'd once assumed was an afterlife,
And not caring about life and death. As he courted despair,
A white, shocking flash, a sky splitting crash interrupted his gloom.
Then the sky wept too,
With such spurting force and offensive cold that it forced him back
To the cave, its pool and its bed of moss. For a time he sat
Looking out at the torrent that settled the dust in the fields.
But then, in the cave, a spatter, then gushing from fissures above.
A cascading roar
And the white noised white foaming water fell from above his head.
It surpassed his tears, it outdid his cries and it mocked his grief,
For it sucked all the heat from the air, and he shivered from cold,
Much more than before, when sobs made his shoulders pulse gently in time.
"Watch the waterfall.
As you study it; do you see it, Einigan Gawr, the clue?"
"This is all I see: Just the cold, wet force, just the torrent's splash.
I see nothing but wetness and motion, just water on rock.
No stored subtle quality, merely churning and gurgling force."
"Look again, again.
Watch the water fall, do not blink or nod, understand the stream."
So he sat and watched. And he first forgot he was cold and wet.
And at last he forgot the dead anguish that hung on his heart,
Although it had clung and festered but never yet rotted away.
He forgot his name
And location, age and his sex and all he had learned below.
And the water splashed from the fissured roof to the churning pool.
But at last the flow wavered and finally slowed to a drip;
Then Einigan Gawr stood up, and he looked at the clear tranquil pool.
It was now quite full,
But its clear, still surface belied the torrent that coursed before.
On reflection, Einigan Gawr felt then his perspective change:
"When I saw the smashed water fall splashing all over the rocks
I saw the cascading droplets each make their own way to the pool.
As I watched the force
I perceived the course was composed of droplets that fell as one,
And the flow transcended the droplets lives as they wet the air.
And these globules, though many, were varied; no two were the same.
An instant and lifetime saw their uniqueness adorn the bare cave.
Then they reached the pool,
By a course unique to each droplet, still they all reached the pool.
Some were dashed on rocks in their early life and configured freshly
As new and unique airborne droplets, some others fell true,
But all of the flow would finally find its own way to the pool."
"They have reached the pool
And they bring with them such a freshness borne from their journeyed paths
That the pool is sweet, from the benefit of the splashing course.
From each cruel interaction, the whole makes a harvested gain.
All dashing forgotten, calm is the water, transcending each drop.
Then he went outside
And the air was fresh, from the thundered rain, and the birds now sang.
And the voice said, "Einigan Gawr, gaze down at the valley fields.
Can you capture the torrenting force as it churns on the earth?
Look down. Can you see the flow in the motion of life in the vale?"
But he saw the sheep
And the distant shepherds who climbed to them now the rain had brought
Them a chance to save the remaining flocks. By the flooded course
All his neighbours had gathered to capture the water for fields.
At last, he heard distant laughter, which floated across on the air.
And he saw the birds
As they made their congress at swollen flows by the river's course.
And he saw the trees sparkling leaves as droplets returned the sun.
And the children had plunged in the water and shrieked with their joy.
But Einigan Gawr still wept, and his sadness he tried to express:
"Every child that plays
At the water's edge has a stamp unique to itself alone.
What that child may see or reflect or say will expand us all.
For the world will lie fallow unless by the senses perceived.
And what is perception's worth when impressions cannot be expressed?
For we all have something
To say which springs from ourselves alone. It is I that feels,
This is my impression and my point made. I perceive and do.
I am more than a droplet that spatters its way to the pool.
I live and I love, I laugh and I lose, I lament and I learn!"
"This is all so true.
But there's truth found, Einigan Gawr in some correspondences.
Both a tiny seed and the mighty sun represent the sphere.
Yes, and each individual soul in the vale has the same
God stamp. They are all themselves, but together they all flow to Me.
In the water's course and the course of life are not here misplaced.
Take a look down there. Don't you see it, Einigan Gawr the flow?"
"I see nothing but mortals and motion, the life in the vale.
No stored, subtle purpose. Beings, that all seek to live on in their brood."
"Look again, again,
Watch the life down there, do not blink or nod, understand the stream."
So he sat and watched. And he first forgot he was separate
From the mortals in motion, in trees or in fields in the vale,
Or under the earth in burrows or gill breathing river swimming.
And he saw them merge;
All the movements merged to an agitation, a cauldron broth.
And the valley life was a torrent coursing without repose.
All the fragments were swirling in courses unique to themselves.
Would all of the flow yet make its own way to some final repose?
"I can see each gush
Which transcends the course of each fragment's life!" But the being broth boils
In the planet cauldron revealing no focussed flow to me.
Is each life but an eddy, or is there a subtler course
Transcending these currents, forcing a way to repose in some pool?"
"That depends on you
And on all the people who flit their tracks in the boiling broth;
For humanity's bubbling lives condense at the cauldron's brim.
The convection has raised them from slurry, but each must decide
To leap to repose, or else to submit to convected return.
Is the cauldron's froth. Not necessity, nor forgetfulness
Nor indeed does death have a grip on you that may not be freed.
Your attention must rise from the cauldron, gaze over the lip!
Then all of the flow will finally find its own way to the pool."
In the bubbling pot and the teeming world may be here misplaced.
When I farmed my land and I loved my wife and I taught my son
Then I never considered the current of life in the world.
I lived and I loved, I laughed and I lost, I lament. Now I learn.
I am here because
I have lost my world. There is nothing now to retain my mind
In the vale below. Would an honest man with a normal life
Ask the questions which I have been calling up here in my cave?
The world is enough for most, for philosophy harvests no crops."
"It's a simple creed.
I remind you, Einigan Gawr, of truths you have always known.
There are choices made in the course of life that affect the flow.
You can focus attention away from the eddying force;
By acting the human you will propel your small droplet back home.
Cannot grasp the life of a human being as it clutches lives
Of another stamp. When you realise you are on the course
You may act from volition not driven by animal needs
But sprung from this knowledge: you are the best that the world can produce.
For your consciousness
Rests upon the husks of the lesser lives that were lived for you.
The experience of the water's scum, to the slitherers,
To the insects and fish, to the birds, to the grazers and hunters
Pours into you. No further on earth. Can your will make the leap?
It is not too hard
To describe the platform that must be built for that final leap.
It has three supports that together make it a solid base.
They are hewn and are fashioned through life, and their quality is
That each must support the others and all must mature for the leap.
I will now describe
Each support in turn, but I emphasise they are merely parts
Of a whole which springs to transcendent form from their common growth.
Should you strive to develop these qualities, bear this in mind:
That those so seduced by one at the cost of the others will fail.
This being understood,
Then the first support that your platform needs is your Courage. This
Is the quality you must exercise when the undertow
Seeks to drag you back down to the depths of the turbulent broth.
Convention and passion, greed; these are some of the forces at work.
These are currents strong,
That you must resist if you hope to cling to the cauldron's brim.
If you lose your grip and forget yourself, they will drag you down,
And the lower you go, the more you are caught in their thrall.
Gaze over the brim, and Courage must help you to lock hands and eyes.
Once you hold your course,
Then you must reach out in the boiling broth and collect yourself.
You must find the "I". Then your thoughts and words and your deeds will flow
From one source, which is solid and sturdy, to stand the fierce tides.
Integrity then, I name as the second support for your leap.
But of course your life
Will be brushed by storms and by eddied force that you can't control,
And from time to time you'll be prised away from the cauldron's rim.
When you know this, at once you must turn and kick out for the brim;
You must persevere, till courage and honour shall strengthen your grip.
There are three supports:
They are Perseverance, Integrity and Courageousness.
They are all required for your salmon-leap from the cauldron broth.
This is why you were formed as a human, to make such a leap.
Most fail, and return once more to the depths to begin the long climb.
And from time to time
For whatever reason, a man may make such a call on me
As escaped your soul, and to such a wail I will make reply."
"Who are you that remain undetected, till called in despair?"
"You know me too well, you've known me since first you made thoughts in your head.
For distinction dies
When you see the world as the cauldron's flow. Then you understand
That perspective changes as currents gush, but the substance stays
As consistent as ever; it alters in motion alone.
Hence you have been thrust to see new perspectives by rough current force."
I am shattered god;
I am wind in gusts; I am sea in droplets or fire in sparks
I am sparkling shards, yet to realise their immensity.
As each breath posits wind, as each drop posits sea and sparks, fire
Each shard as it sparkles briefly with life may conceive it is Me.
Then he knew his voice
Had been framing all of the questions asked and the answers made.
"Now I know Your name; it is what I called in my anguished wail."
It is "ee", it is "aa", it is "oh". My primeval howl
Called IAO. I will help You speak with the voices of men in the vale.
Then he turned back down.
And he faced his home and his fields and graves and his peers and gods,
And he faced the fields that had been his world when he worked the land,
And he climbed to the bottom. Not turning to gaze on the hills,
He ran to the greening fields and the full riverbed far below.
Then he found his home
And the roof was gone and the dry-stone walls had been plundered well,
But he briefly paused by the double grave, then he turned aside
And he marched to the place where the people had called on their god.
And they, when they saw him paused, then they fled, to peer out of their thatch
At his florid beard
And his streaming hair and his naked skin and his withered frame.
But he turned and called from the flowered idol a mighty "IAO!"
Then they crept from their homes to surround naked Einigan Gawr
"I come from the hill. There I spoke to the one I have named."
There I called on IAO
Who is in us waiting for us to call Him to set our course.
When I spoke to Him, I was gazing up at the breaking clouds
And three sunbeams streamed down in a tripod; I saw on them marked
The method for leaping out of this cauldron's convectional trap!"
Then he took an axe
And he hacked three saplings, which grew close by in the idol's grove.
Then he took a knife and he marked all three with distinctive signs.
Then he bound them together, so each sapling met at one point,
He held it up high, to show what he'd seen when the sun cut the clouds.
"Let the marks I've made
On these saplings now represent the sounds that together make
Up the name of IAO. As his name comprised of three vowels I howled
When my pain fused my mouth and my brain and my heart and my soul,
Let this represent those qualities three that we need to escape."
And he pointed out
Those three qualities on the saplings bound that he held up high:
"They are Perseverance, Integrity and Courageousness."
Turn away from your idol, and look for those values instead!"
They cheered, and they smashed the failed and neglected old idol to bits.
Then the priests came forth
And received from him the three saplings, bound, and he said to them:
"I can live no longer among you all, for the memories
Of my wife and my son and the life that I had are too strong.
No more can I here remain. I will live in the woods from now on."
Then he took his leave
With his axe and knife he retired to live in the wildest wood,
And the saplings hung in the shelter built by the priests' command.
And the people returned to their fields; they farmed as before.
And over the years, wild Einigan Gawr passed away into tales.
For he left no son
And his land was lost to another clan as the tribe increased,
And the priests said Einigan Gawr was sent by a God above
With his saplings to lead them away from the idols of stone.
They held them up high, paraded them out for the people to kiss.
And they told the tale
Of the prophet Einigan Gawr who brought down the name of IAO
From the mountaintop, to replace their idol of lifeless stone.
They had modelled his image, and fixed it to gaze from the wood.
Entwined in green leaves, eyes wild as they gazed through the flux-world to IAO.
And they daubed the marks
That had been by Einigan Gawr etched deep in the sapling wood
On their vestments. Thus, they were marked by these as the priests of IAO.
And they worked out a ritual solemnly praising great IAO
They taught it to children; thus was their canon ingrained from the start.
And they dropped the feasts
Which had once been named to the honour of idols now defunct;
They retained the days, but they marked them freshly as feasts of IAO.
They would mark the ascent of old Einigan Gawr, his return
His birth, His departure. Einigan Gawr marked the course of the year.
But disputes arose,
For a group said Einigan Gawr in fact was the same as IAO
With a human will, but a cosmic nature that marked him out
As a feature of IAO who had been since the dawn of the world.
Distinct from that source, but sharing the same co-eternal substance.
But some others said
That the prophet Einigan Gawr was less than the same as IAO,
Consubstantial Einigan Gawr and IAO could be said to be,
Co-eternal not; IAO had created the prophet Himself.
Some exiles and deaths would settle disputes of this cosmic import.
Then the prophet came
From the wild wood! Einigan Gawr marched up to the shrine of IAO,
With his streaming hair and his florid beard and his withered frame.
And the priests stirred in shock at this chaos come into their world
He gazed at the saplings hung on the wall and their garlanded flowers.
Then he took his axe
And he swung it over his head three times, and he brought it down
On the saplings bound to the temple wall; then he faced the priests.
But they thought that dispute was not right with an axe-wielding man.
They fled, calling out for all to destroy the destroyer of faith.
Then the people ran
To the spot where Einigan Gawr stood fast with his hefted axe
They had axes too, and assorted weapons that came to hand.
But he called out to them in a voice he had used once before:
"I'm IAO, you are IAO, for IAO is still making His way to the Pool.
"He has smashed the shrine!"
The indignant priests pointed hard at him, "He blasphemes the God.
We must call on IAO, we must sacrifice, let us sing our songs
And ask his forgiveness for living this day of great shame,
And burn the wild man, lest IAO make a show of his justified wrath!"
Then the mob advanced
But were quite reluctant to face wild Einigan Gawr's keen axe.
As they paused, he spoke in a sombre tone: "You misunderstood
What I saw from the mountain when looking back down to the vale.
I captured the flow; it boiled with a constant and turbulent force.
What is it you call
When you call on IAO? Does the wind just one
Destination seek? Is the sea just one salty water mass?
Is the fire burning fiercely in forests but one spark alone?
Is IAO separate? Is IAO something other than they, you and I?
Do not look for IAO
In the shuttered shrine or the ritual or the images
Or the sacred tales or the sacrifice or the hierarchy.
There is one way to know when you stand in the presence of IAO
When you have reached IAO, he uses no voice to discourse but your own!"
Then he took his leave
With his axe and knife he retired once more to the wildest wood,
But the saplings hung in the shelter still with the image fixed.
And the priests said: "A madman has tried to disrupt praise of IAO!"
And over the years, wild Einigan Gawr passed away into tales.
But a thoughtful man
Who had been a child when the wild-eyed Einigan Gawr came back to attack the shrine
Once determined he would depart to find something out himself.
So he packed some provisions and set off one morning alone
To find in the wood some essence remaining of Einigan Gawr.
And he walked for days
Through the thickened trees and the brambled paths till at last he came
To a roughly built little shelter perched by a trickling rill
Tumbledown, overgrown by the ferns and the brambles and trees
And there, by the shelter Einigan Gawr was still sitting in death.
For three saplings grew
Round his spine and up through his throat and mouth, whence they split three ways.
To the left and right and straight up. He saw that upon the trunks
There were markings the same as the cuts that the prophet had made,
But grown in the wood, as though still in death he was shouting his words.
Then he took his leave
He retraced his steps to the river vale from the dark, wild wood.
When he came back out, to the clustered huts and the central shrine
Though his friends and his family clutched him, he knew he had made
A journey's beginning. Never could he ever make a return.
As the priests evolved
All their rituals and their social rules and their deep disputes
He inscribed the signs on some blocks of wood and derived the words
To describe the three qualities needed to jump from the rim.
He taught but a few, and they, the Pheryllt, kept the words to themselves.
For in every
Man's society there are those that draw on some outside force
To legitimise social hierarchy's firm establishment.
They object to those claiming unorthodox pathways to truth.
So Menoo the Aged gained that epithet through his tact with the truth.