Celtic Corner
Original designs inspired by the art of the Celts
by Alastair Luke

The Path of Wisdom

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In a number of Celtic stories, such as the Adventures of Cormac, one will find references to a sacred well of water. When I first read about it I was struck by the symbolism to such an extent that I wanted to do a design incorporating all that it said. At first I wanted to include all the symbolic numbers and images but in the end I found that a more simple approach was what was going to happen. Also I wanted to add a few ideas of my own.

'In a nut shell', the path of wisdom, or knowledge, according to the stories, starts with the sacred well. Around the well are nine hazel bushes or trees, which drop hazel nuts into the water. These are in turn, snapped up by the nine salmon which are swimming in the pool. The knowledge is then passed on to us when we eat the salmon, if we are lucky enough to catch one as in the case of Fionn MacCumhail. One can drink from either the well itself, or from the five streams which flow from it. These streams represent the five senses through which knowledge is garnered. It is said that to drink from the well is good for the soul and heart, while to drink from the streams guarantees excellence in the things you want most.

Different but parallel, is another path that knowledge can follow. Here I have made the Sun symbolize inspiration which we may experience when life decides to bless us with a channel to something larger than ourselves. This inspiration we transfer to words or pictures which we can put down in a book. From this book others can view, read and learn.

Whatever your path, I feel we should strive to live immersed in the flow of knowledge and natural wisdom. The study of books will facilitate our ability to build on the ideas of others, however it is life itself that is the greatest teacher.

On a nifty note, the expression, 'in a nutshell' comes from this area of Celtic folklore. The hazel nuts were thought to contain all knowledge.

'Knowledge is knowledge and in the end all roads lead to peace.'

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