Since the Presocratics, scholars and sages have sought to compare and contrast the mythological portents of various socio-religious cultures. More recently and most famously, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell have talked at length about shared psychological archetypes and the oft occurrence of mythical overlap. For Jung, the amalgamation of myth is something that comes naturally through heredity and the collective shaping of the unconscious, an idea furthered by Campbell’s seminal Hero with a Thousand Faces. The early philosophic traditions posited that civilisations looked to a recognisable mythos in order to process the unexplainable in nature, whereas newer anthropological thinkers like James Frazer and Claude Levi-Strauss saw the recycling of such lore as the shaping of inner machinations in conjunction with outer rituals.
Skylight Press would like to make an offering to the comparative myth discourse through its next two offerings, a collection of writings from Irish poet and Celtic mythologist, Ella Young, and an anthropological novel by American poet and Pre-Columbian South American historian, Hugh Fox. In and of themselves, both writers show a willingness to cross mythological borders and work within different traditions. Ella Young (1867 –1956) was a leading force in the Gaelic and Celtic Revival literary movement of the late 19th and early 20th century before emigrating to the United States. Known as “Airmid” (a healing goddess), she wrote poetry and children’s books, gave lectures on faeries and elves in her purple Druid robes, and communed with trees. Her love of the sacred lore of the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Celtic Fomorians easily dovetailed with the ancient sprites of the Pacific Northwest Redwoods. Hugh Fox (1932), a native Chicago poet and renowned academic spent a considerable amount of time studying South American history and archeology. Widely travelled on the subcontinent, Fox has written about various mythological traditions, unearthing interesting cultural links across a span of books. In Gods of the Cataclysm he explored various resemblances between Mayan, Chinese, Dravidian, Yogic, Cretan and Pueblo mythic traditions. For instance, his study of the Mochica Indians in Peru led him to the earlier Carthagenians and Phoenicians. Similarly, in the forthcoming Immortal Jaguar, he travels to the house of the Sun-King, Tiawanaku, in Bolivia, and finds a stunning connection to the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh.
The two books, At the Gates of Dawn and Immortal Jaguar, also present interesting resonances between them. The deep rooted Faery tradition, such as can be found in Ireland, closely matches that of the Immortals in the pre-Columbian Jaguar religion … both suggesting ancient faery-like races that withdrew into the “hollow hills” … known in Ireland as Tir Nan Og, or the “land of the ever-young”.
Immortal Jaguar (ISBN 978-1-908011-09-1) will be released in March.
At the Gates of Dawn (ISBN 978-1-908011-16-9) will be released in April.