Turtle Was Gone a Long Time, Volume Two: Horsehead Nebula Neighing

By: John Moriarty

Publication Date: January 1997


Turtle Was Gone a Long Time: Horsehead Nebula Neighing, the second volume of a remarkable trilogy, continues John Moriarty’s spiritual journey embarked upon in Crossing the Kedron. In a Prelude to Horsehead Nebula Neighing, the author poses two questions. Are we the iceberg into which the earth has crashed? Have we lost, or did we ever acquire, evolutionary legitimacy? Moriarty goes on to question the axioms and assumptions of the late twentieth century and to suggest other cosmologies, myths and metaphors through which we may ‘walk beautifully upon the earth’. Mediated through poetry, philosophy and literature – from the sacred writings of Christian mystics to coffin texts of the Egyptians and cradle texts of the Navajo Indians – Moriarty transforms humanity’s Pequod voyage of self-destruction into an Ishmaelite quest for Divine Ground.

In his call for cultural regeneration, the author invokes alternative tongues, Native American and Hindu, shamanic north and classical south. Readings from Meister Eckhart, Malory and William Law, Pascal and Melville, Berkeley, Blake and Black Elk, Darwin and Nietzsche, the Bible, medieval morality plays and the Mandukya Upanishads guide us along ancestral trails in dialogue with ‘the great tradition’.

With exhilarating singularity of vision, Moriarty offers readers paradigms of co-creation and self-interrogation, and through a process of calling-to-witness makes manifest ways of being in the world.

‘It is hard to imagine any Irish thinker not being excited by this book. When one considers the vapidity of what passes for contemporary religious thought and the pettiness of so much of our poetry, the appearance of Moriarty on the scene is dramatic.’ Brian Lynch, The Irish Times

‘…an extraordinary book. He has journeyed back into our mystic past and discovered our buried undergrounds which sprout much of our day-to-day behaviour. It has to be savoured slowly and thoughtfully, and the reward is rich.’ – Alice Taylor, The Sunday Tribune

Mesmerising.’ Customer review


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 of Dreamtime (1994/99), and the two other volumes of Turtle Was Gone a Long Time: Crossing the Kedron (1996) and Anaconda Canoe (1998). He lives down from the Horse’s Glen at the foot of Mangerton Mountain in north Kerry.

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Weight 1 kg
Dimensions 160 × 240 mm
Publication Date

January 1997


Hardback, 315pp

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