One of the boons of living in a city with a decent municipal or university library system is that one can find books on all sorts of subjects  – for example, the following is the best study of the origins of Swiss folklore I know of to be available in the French language [Ancient Swiss Mythology: from shamanic and Celtic practices to their modern metamorphoses].

DSCN8967Lausanne (Sauvabelin), 28 May 2015

Long-time followers of this blog will have recognised the mask shown on the cover of the book. If not, click here. My point here however is not to discuss the annual procession that takes place in Lötschental (Valais/Wallis) in February.

It is rather to point out a link which I think exists between the masks worn by the Tschäggättä and a fixture of contemporary Swiss national day celebrations:

Google_Schweizer Bundesfeiertag_1st August 2015The candle-lit paper lantern which is paraded before and after the bonfire/fireworks.

Does this link seem far-fetched or totally arbitrary? Well, one ought to remember the quasi-totemic fascination the Celts had for the severed heads of enemies killed in battle:

DSCN9009Illustration by André Houot showing a Celtic ceremony, Museum of Art and Archaeology, Geneva, 30 May 2015

In fact, I am convinced that this Celtic filiation also holds true for the Halloween pumpkin lanterns. So some traditions are able to stand the test of time quite well, no?

By the way, I spent the evening of Lugnasad in a small village called Lucinges. Does the linkage LugLucinges seem arbitrary to you? If so, maybe I should go to Lugano next year for the 1st of August.  😉

Definition of ‘mythopoetic’ according to the shorter version of the OED:

(b) relating to or denoting a movement for men that uses activities such as storytelling and poetry reading as a means of self-understanding