Describe instances of “freeing” or “winning” the waters in two different IE cultures. How can this theme be used to reinforce our current practices and cosmology? (300 words min.)
In Celtic lore, the story of Nechtan of the Tuatha De Danann and the secret well that only he and his cupbearers could approach is fairly popular. Mainly because the river Boyne is said to be born of this story, which is still a prominent lore story over in Ireland. In this story, Boann decided to approach this well out of spite, either thinking her beauty was more powerful than the rumors of the well, or to cleanse herself of her infidelity with the Dagda (Puhvel, 279). After circling the well three times, three waves spewed from the well and tore her to several pieces as she attempted to flee. During her flee, she created the river behind her and eventually drowned in its estuary.
Puhvel uses this as an example of a deity that is hoarding a powerful source, in this case water, and then his challenged for this particular treasure.
Another type of story Puhvel talks about comes from the Roman culture where during their war with the Veii, a deep crater lake which is fed by underwater springs had begun to rise up uncharacteristically, over a 100 meters above normal level. The lake rose enough to finally breech the rock barrier surrounding it and ripping through the countryside.
The Romans were then worried that they had caused some sort of divine anger, so they sent a representative to Delphi for oracular advice. The foundation of this advise essentially said that if they did not divert this water away from the sea and instead into the countryside to irrigate, they would never be able to penetrate Veii.
While the waters in these stories had different instigations, their ultimate outcome were very similar in creating rivers and damaging land or areas, essentially changing them permanently through some sort of divine intervention (or so they thought).
(Word Count: 306)