Tag Archives: Taliesin

The right to challenge

In Taliesin’s myth, his step-father brags about him and he ends up in front of an irate king, having to prove he is as good as his step-father suggested, in order to save the man from being punished. Taliesin then goes on to trounce the king’s bards, proving his superiority over them. It’s not a lone case, there are comparisons to make with the Irish story in which, to substantiate bragging, Macha ends up running against the king’s horses. Then there’s the tale of the boy wizard Merlin calling out and humiliating another king’s Druids, because Merlin knows what they do not.

Myths that come to us from the mediaeval period should not, of course, be taken as clear proof that the Celts did anything in particular, but they do provide inspiration and possibility. I believe in following the inspiration.

What these stories suggest to me is firstly that authority cannot be absolute. Those who take visible roles are not beyond challenge, and if they cannot recognise when the new kid in town outclasses them, they are in trouble. The more arrogant the king’s Druids are, the greater their fall will be. Secondly, everyone has the right to challenge, no matter who they are, but thirdly, they have to back it up. If Taliesin had not known his stuff, the outcome for him and his step-father would have been entirely different. The right to challenge comes with the obligation to prove your worth.

It is good to question everything. Asking questions is the basis of all philosophy. Thinking deeply about things is probably more important than whether that takes you towards the same conclusion as the next person. Deep consideration will be richer and more involved than passing interest.

It is good to question each other, because in doing so we can all learn. I’m blessed with people who spot holes in my logic and arguments I haven’t developed properly, and who flag this, which gives me the opportunity to push further, and to think more deeply. I really value that. Often, I wander into a topic, and someone will turn out to know far more than me, and, generous with their knowledge will share that, so that I can learn. Sometimes I post things that affirm other people’s ideas, and sometimes I come up with things that were less familiar.

Asking questions should be an act of interest. We can do it respectfully – we do, here, and on many other blogs I’m connected with. When you view people as equals, as a starting point, it is easy to approach with respect and ask why someone thinks a certain thing, what they are drawing on, how they came to the conclusion. We might not agree, and that’s fine too. There’s very little in Druidry that can be ‘proved’ in a substantial way. We can respect the diversity of ideas and interpretations, and grow from those, collaboratively. It is one of the many strengths of our community.

It is good to question. It is good to question authority. It is important to show respect, because if you don’t, ye gods had you better be good, or the kings and their now-irate Druids will get a very different ending to the story.