To the Greeks words were but containers of meaning, but Ancient Celtic myth tells of how the Great High God sang the created world into existence with but the breath of a word. Some myths such as the Babylonian Ennuma elish saw creation as the outcome of battle between the forces of good and evil, a battle that still rages and is inherent in nature. Not Celtic myth. Creation can be nothing other than holy, for it flows from the music of breath, Oran Mór, the Great Melody which because it flows from divinity, and is divinity itself, must always be holy. Not only is Oran Mór, the cause of creation, it is part and parcel of creation itself. It’s the holiness of the Creator en-fused in all Creation. It is the sound of wind and thunder; the sound of the God-Force. It is the sound of a gently gurgling spring or a crying baby; the sound of the God-Substance. And it is even more: it is the sound of the Creator in holy conversation with creation.
Not even the sound of the restless, stirring, dark waters could be heard.
Then, a great spiraling strain of Melody moved across the endless waters.
Subdued at first,
then quickly gathering momentum until it reached a great crescendo.
And, then, there was Life!
But the Melody did not stop.
It continued its song,
filling all of Creation with its divine harmony.
And so it continues today,
for all those who listen.(1)
It is this idea of uttered breath as language or word that gives mystical quality to all Celtic expression. On the Creators’ part, Oran Mór, is the divine grace that is mystically ever-present within the created. On the part of that which is created, Oran Mór, is a sacramental yearning to experience this grace as well as the joy that naturally wells up in its experience. Words, in the sacramental sense, are nothing less than praise for the Creator and the on-going enlivening power of the Creator in the created universe.
Oran Mór, is that which gives the words of language their mystical power, a power with far more potential than with words that only contain meaning. Not unexpectedly, given the similarity to Hebraic thinking, not to mention that Kabbalic thought was “born” in the old Celtic areas of Europe, the Kabbalah gives the same mystical understanding to the sounds of Hebrew letters as do the Celts to their language. In the Kabbalah, God is not the static Christian God of traditional Christianity, but a “dynamic becoming”, that is, God needs creation. Without creation’s participation in the Word which is God, YHWH, God remains incomplete, unrealized! It is up to us, not God, to actualize the divine potential in the world.
This sounds surprisingly similar to the teachings of the Celtic Christian theologian, John Scotus Eriguena, who stated that it is “more proper to say that God is created in us, than God created us.” (2) If it is true as Eriguena claims, that God is created in us as God creates us, then God needs us to actualize Himself in creation. Thus, our words, our mystical portion of Oran Mór, give “birth” to God in creation, just as God’s word gave birth to creation. To put it in a Christian context, Jesus does not become the Word, or Christ, until we give birth as such in our words. Not words which contain meaning, but words which are meaning themselves. Call it the “bom again experience”, or whatever you will, but it is still words mystically sounded in the Christian’s conscious thought that gives birth to the Christ, otherwise he remains but a man named Jesus.’ The Celtic Christian understanding of the Word could give rise to a whole new Christian theology of Logos. (3)
Realize that you are about to serve your God in joy. Begin to combine letters, a few or many, permuting and revolving them rapidly until your mind warms up.
Delight in how they move and in what you generate by revolving them. When you feel within that your mind is very, very warm from combining the letters, and that through the combinations you understand new things, then you are ready to receive the abundant flow, and the abundance flows upon you, arousing you again and again. (4)
While not a Celtic instruction as to the power of words, this Kabbalic instruction certainly is embedded with the Celtic essence. For it is precisely in this way, in the smithing of sounds called words that the Celtic mystical spirit is released to actualize all that is divinely inherent in creation.
1. Oran Mór: The Primordial Celtic Myth
2. This is why Christ can be called the Word, for in the Hebraic understanding of that expression, it is both the Word uttered that creates and the Word that is reborn, or as Eriguena would say, re-created in us, through being uttered. Ironic isn’t it? Christians talk about their being “born again” when it is Jesus who is being born anew as the Christ, the Word, in the life of each believer.
3. Logos is the Greek word for word and is used of Christ in Sf. John’s Epistle 1 :1.
4 The Essential Kabbalah edited by Daniel C. Matt (NY: Harper Collins, 1994.), p. 103. The Kabbalah teaches that God creates by combining and arranging the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in all possible ways. Many kabbalists sought to imitate this activity of letter permutation based on the detailed instructions in Setor Yetsirch.