Archipelagoes, Sacred and Profane, of the Island Roots of Europe


The Background

We are dealing with a time when the sea was the main thoroughfare. Even though the transmutive forces that concern us here are also linked to the Black Sea, our main concern in this seminar is with the interaction between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

We favour neither the sacred nor the profane as both are equally essential to the story which is perhaps best illustrated in the way the seas interlock. Thus, the sacred movement is largely from Mediterranean to Atlantic; the secular or profane from Atlantic back to Mediterranean. The hypothetical story of the emergence of European Culture we explore centres on the contribution of two hugely transmutive forces: Christianity, and the mediaeval Romance (Arthurian) movement.

The first impetus - South to North - is what we might loosely call the christian movement in the Western Isles. This has its origins in the training of St. Patrick in the Mediterranean. It was spread North-West by St. Brendan to the islands of Shetland and Faroes and Iceland.

The Romance movement has its origins in the Atlantic with the Norse and moves back to the Mediterranean via an already Christianised Brittany.

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© ASPIRE 2012.