9th September 2016
Obviously a lot of my writing finds its source in the contrast between Christian and pagan. I suppose growing up in a valley that boasts one of Scotland's largest collections of pre-historic stone circles and cairns, the call of a distant drummer never seemed too far off. By contrast, I lived in a Christian community that had broken away from the traditional church, but which was still rather evangelical in respect to other traditions. It's kind of odd that they chose to put roots down in this "heathen" land, then, and I think at some level of my childish heart, this was not lost on me. Though I was singing with the best of them that "For me to live is Christ to die is gain," a deeper drone was playing itself in and out of the soundtrack.
(Well, that is a rather romantised version of my Pictish ancestors - for one thing, they would have frozen to death going about the Scottish highlands in this get-up. A more accurate picture would have them huddled inside goat or deer skins.)
But the nature of that drone from oh so long ago is hard any more to decipher. It's like trying to find Jesus amidst the Christian religion that usurped him. How do we uncover the ancient ones? That's what I've been trying to do in my book series, of course. But just as in the Christian tradition, it's best to look where you'd least expect it. For instance, it's on record that the early church didn't like pagans coming to their services because they tended to dance. Ha!
One of the most restrictive denominations of Scottish Christianity goes by the ironic name of The Free Church. No singing, no dancing there. This is the species of church that took over the people of the far flung island of St. Kilda, a place that had had a history of its own out there from before Yeshua Ben Yosef ever set foot in Galilee. I like to think of the St. Kildeans way out in the ocean dancing around their sacred fires, lifting their faces to the stars and dancing with abandon. The fantasy is even better if in the middle of the fire you put the effigy of a grim-faced minister of the Free Church.