Turtle Was Gone a Long Time, Volume One: Crossing the Kedron
By: John Moriarty
Turtle Was Gone a Long Time: Crossing the Kedron, the first volume of a remarkable trilogyby John Moriarty. The title derives from the diver myth found in Siberia and North America, in particular among the Maidu Indians of California. Diving to the floor of the abyss to find intuitions of the world, the work is a mystical quest, from form to void and back, and enacts one of the central themes of European literature, the journey from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained. In a century in which the human being first set foot on the moon, it attempts ‘to come ashore upon the earth in its perennial first morning’. And just as Homer’s Odyssey underpinned Joyce’s Ulysses, so Turtle is informed by the eschatological journey of the soul as Ancient Egyptians understood it-the post-mortem experience of an underworld, its powers and terrors, yielding to fields of light. The Overture or introduction is a synoptic rehearsal of what follows: three nocturnes in a Tenebrae. ‘Engwura Now’ contains forty poems enlarged by prose commentaries-rites of passage proposing an emergence into instinctive maturity, a New Heroism. In profound dialogue with religions and cultures, it seeks to ‘make them more hospitable to more of what we are’. ‘Tenebrae Now’ is composed of six parables or stories drawn from everyday life in the West of Ireland. They form a pilgrim’s progress towards Good Friday, not as traditionally interpreted but as a mystical journey. ‘Tep-zepi Now and Tai-wer’ returns to the mornings of infinite possibility, and to the potencies-cosmic and cultural-of the beginning. Crossing the Kendron [John 18:1] offers a series of texts describing one individual’s spiritual initiations and transformations, Gethsemane self-encounters and purifications. Ambitious, Dantesque, shamanic, this Beagle voyage across Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Aboriginal and Native American waters seeks the myths, stories, parables and great sayings that will guide and enlighten us in our openness, and availability, to the earth in which each reader is invited to plumb his own depths, and to emerge sacrilized and renewed. Not least, it announces a major contribution to Irish literature and philosophy. Out of print for over a decade, Crossing the Kedron also contains Moriarty’s personal selection of his best poems.
JOHN MORIARTY, writer and philosopher, was born in Kerry in 1938 and educated at Listowel and University College Dublin. He taught English literature at Manitoba University in Canada for six years, before returning to Ireland in 1971. Sometime gardener, lecturer and broadcaster, in 1997 he hosted a major RTE television series,‘The Blackbird and the Bell’. He is author ofDreamtime(1994/99), and the two other volumes ofTurtle Was Gone a Long Time: Crossing the Kedron(1996) andAnaconda Canoe(1998). He lives down from the Horse’s Glen at the foot of Mangerton Mountain in north Kerry.