Or, I should say one of my hypotheses. And again, if you are versed in Irish mythology, I would love your opinions and comment.
The stories I read recorded in the great Irish invasion and myth cycles seem to reflect a late bronze age – iron age society. A society settling into the Brehon Laws and caste system, with its powerful tribal chiefs, warriors, and elite. Deforestation began in earnest during this time. These are the people who built stone circles, erected standing stones, and began to dwell within earthen embankments known as Lios or forts. It was a society built around exposure, boasting, and extravagance.
It was not a society that reflected the values of the small groups that constructed the great Sídhe, and dwelt along the edge of the forests or in clearings; who built crannogs that hovered between sky, earth and water. This earlier mesolithic and early neolithic society seemed to possess a reverence for their surroundings. It has been noted in the literature that to assume they did not clear the great forests because they lacked the tools, imposes bias. There is speculation they were exposed to, and possibly possessed, the technology to clear land when needed. It just appears they chose not to.
Within paganism many take the heroes and gods of the Irish Myth cycle close to heart. Many also envision other-than-human persons, both seen and unseen, living within a cultural ethos reflected in the literary accounts of these myths.
When has the literati ever reflected on-the-ground practice?
Even if the literary sources accurately reflect the folk tradition and myth of their time, they are still reflecting the most recent “ancient” culture. These stories were written in the middle ages and seem to reflect the society of their iron age ancestors: those who lived ~1000 years before. They do not reflect the culture who built the Great Mounds. Certainly, the remembered folk narratives of “faeries” only reflect an 18th century (very modern) reflection of those most recent “ancient” cultures (medieval), who lived ~1000 years before.
Our stories change as our culture changes – they are not static.
I ask myself; do I want to espouse an iron age cultural narrative, or do I want to go deeper…. further…. Under ground to a more ancient past?