Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's a Boy Rock!

Nigel Pennick wrote a fascinating book titled Celtic Sacred Landscapes that is packed with wonderful bits of lore.

Unfortunately, he doesn't cite most of the tidbits. This makes for easier reading but drives me crazy, because I always want more information.

Crossroads, to the Celts, marked transitional places where the underworld, middle earth (yes, he calls it that) and the heavens meet. They were often marked by Herms. A herm, according to Pennick, is "an ithyphallic image of Mercury."

I had to look up ithyphallic. It means an erect penis. Well, of course; how could you carve a soft penis into rock? Wikipedia directs me to Herma: Greek pillars marking boundaries, topped with the head of the god Hermes, and featuring male genitalia.

The pictures accompanying the (uncited)Wikipedia article were disappointing--nary a ithyphallus, or even flaccophallus among them. But here is a picture I took at the Musee de Dept. Breton in Quimper, Brittany.

Now, that's a Herm.

The Gauls, or Celts, were wonderful artists, but they had a different way of looking at things. I think they were minimalists; they include in their art what is necessary.

This carving was unprovenanced, and was only identified as being Gaulish and--probably--1st century b.c. Posted by Picasa

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