Welcome

Welcome to the website of The Traditional Cosmology Society.

The Society is concerned with exploring myth, religion and cosmology across cultural and disciplinary boundaries and with increasing understanding of world views in the past and present.

We are based in the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies of Edinburgh University. We hold meetings throughout the year, along with occasional day conferences. Cosmos: The Journal of the Traditional Cosmology Society is published annually, in Edinburgh. 

For information on how to join the society please refer to the page here.

The Traditional Cosmology Society is a registered charity in Scotland (Charity Number SC004052).

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Programme Announced for the 2019 Thinking About Mythology Colloquium

The seventh edition of the annual Thinking About Mythology in the 21st Century Colloquium, jointly organised by the departments of Celtic and Scottish Studies and Scandinavian Studies in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) at the University of Edinburgh, has been announced.

Led by Emily Lyle, founder of the Traditional Cosmology Society and author of Ten Gods: A New Approach to Defining the Mythological Structures of the Indo-Europeans (extensively reviewed in a recent issue of Cosmos), the colloquium will focus this year on the interrelations between History and Myth, with keynote addresses by Joseph Nagy (Harvard) and Emily Lyle herself.

The event will take place at Room 1.06, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, on 19th–20th October 2019.

The full programme is available here.

Annual General Meeting 2019

Members of the Traditional Cosmology society are invited to attend our Annual General Meeting on Friday 30th at 50 George Square, Room 2.14, Edinburgh, 15:00 – 16:30. E-members who wish to participate remotely should contact the Society beforehand at tradcossoc@gmail.com, so that a video-link can be arranged.

Over the past twelve months, a number of departures have left crucial positions within the Committee open. It is a great opportunity for new and
returning Members to become more involved in the running of the Society, and help to make our calendar of events more diverse and accessible to all.

Now more than ever therefore it is important for all our Members to make their presence felt, and offer their views and suggestions on the future of our Society.

Here is the tentative agenda for the meeting:

  • Welcome and Apologies
  • Minutes from the last AGM
  • President’s (Chair’s) Report
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Election of the Committee
  • Membership Campaign for 2019-20
  • Expansion of Commitee
  • A.O.B

Minutes will be circulated after the meeting for those who could not attend.

 

Cosmos 32 Released

Issue 32 of Cosmos has been released in digital format to all our e-members!

Here is a preview from the Editor’s Note, by TCS President Louise Milne:

We present here the final selection of papers from the 3rd Annual Colloquium on Thinking about Celtic Mythology in the 21st Century, organised by Emily Lyle and held at the University of Edinburgh on 24th and 25th October 2015. To complement these, and develop the theme of the symposium, we include further items dealing with Celtic matters. Here is the edited transcript of a session dealing with Desmond Bell’s film about the great Irish storyteller Seán ÓhEochaidh (1913-2002), held at the department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, 17 February 2017. The bulk of the review section is devoted to new works in Celtic mythology, including two responses to James Mallory’s study of what he calls the Irish Dreamtime. Finally, we have a special section honouring our Editor Emeritus, Emily Lyle: three responses to her important recent book Ten Gods: A New Approach to Defining the Mythological Structures of the Indo-Europeans (2012).

And here is the full table of contents:

PART 1

Papers from the Colloquia Thinking About Celtic Mythology in the 21st Century. Celtic & Scottish Studies, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh

‘Failed Birth and Rebirth’: A Case Study in the Reconstruction of an Indo-European Myth
Anna June Pagé, 1–20

Sticky Figures: The Afterlife of Pre-Christian Supernatural Beings in Medieval Celtic Texts
Daniel F. Melia, 21–38

Scottish Traditional Tales: Distributions and Prehistory
John Shaw, 39–62

The Return of the Oppressed: Intra-Social Inequality and Supernatural Agency in the Táin and Crofton Croker’s “Teigue of the Lee”
James Carney, 63–82

The Identification of Shamanism in Celtic Literary and Ethnographic Sources
Sharon Paice MacLeod, 83–118

PART 2

On Desmond Bell’s “The Last Storyteller?” A Panel Discussion

Desmond Bell, Louise S. Milne, Liv Willumsen, 119–129

PART 3

Reviews

Dossier: Two Responses to James Mallory’s Irish Dreamtimes
139–147

Dossier: Three Responses to Emily Lyle’s Ten Gods
147–157

E-members can access the full issue in our digital archive. Individual print copies of Cosmos #32 can be ordered for £30 following the instructions in this page.

TCS Talk | Keepers of the Universe | March 22nd 2019

G.05, 50 George Square, Edinburgh |  17:30-19:00
Friday 22nd March

On Friday March 22nd, Dr Lucie Vinsova will give a public lecture entitled ‘Keepers of the Universe’. Dr Visnova is a Czech scholar hailing from Masaryk University in Brno, and has conducted fieldwork with various indigenous communities living in Colombia, both in the mountainous areas of the South West and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the North.

In her lecture, Dr Vinsova will describe the special relationship these ethnic groups have with water. She will explain how indigenous communities in those areas have always appreciated the crucial role played by water in ensuring the well-being of their society and life in general. Indeed, the notion of human responsibility in managing such precious resource can be traced in a number of water-related myths: Dr Visnova will provide insight into various mythological and cosmological motifs, all linked to the importance of water.

She will also comment on more recent developments, however. With páramos (alpine tundra ecosystems, which constitute the main source of water in the Colombian Andean areas) now continuously threatened by mining industries, and with climate- and civilization- related changes altering the delicate cycle of water, members of those communities – she will argue – are increasingly struggling to fulfil their cultural obligations as “Keepers of the Universe”.

 

Vinsova - Keepers of the Universe

TCS Talk | The Meaning of Maya Myths | March 23rd 2018

THE MEANING OF MAYA MYTHS

G.01, 50 George Square, Edinburgh |  17:30-19:00
Friday 23rd March

In his lecture, Professor Aleksandar Bošković will examine the ways in which the Classic Maya have been studied, and the issue of whether it is possible to trace any analogies with the present-day Maya. The Classic Maya built a fascinating civilization, whose belief-system centred on in the inevitability of change, as well as on a complex set of deities and spirits. The rulers had a special place in this microcosm, as they were believed to be direct descendants of the deities responsible for each city-state. Recent advancements in the decipherment of ancient Maya writing have enabled us to gain unprecedented insights into the structure and organization of their societies and spiritual tenets.

Aleksandar Bošković is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Belgrade (Serbia) and at the UDG (Montenegro), and Director of Research at the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade. He has an MA in Anthropology from Tulane University (New Orleans), and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of St Andrews. He is the author or editor of thirteen books, including Mesoamerican Religions and Archaeology (Oxford, 2017), Individualism (Belgrade, 2017), and Other Peoples’ Anthropologies (New York, 2008)

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TCS Talk | Itinerancy and Afterlife | February 2nd 2018

G.05, 50 George Square, Edinburgh | 17:30-19:00
Friday 2nd February 2018

Professor Peter Jackson is director of History of religions at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender studies at Stockholm University. He specialises in the philological study of Indo-European religions, with a special emphasis on ancient Indian and Iranian religions, the religions of ancient Greece and Rome, and Old Norse religion. He has also undertaken the daunting comparative task of exploring how recurrences in the earliest cultic and heroic poetry of ancient India, Iran, Greece, and the Germanic world may provide clues to the common past of these traditions.

In his lecture, Prof. Jackson will examine the mutual dependence between a rudimentary warrior elite and increasingly specialized suppliers of ritual in proto Indo European society. He will explore deep layers of comparative evidence, in order to demonstrate the means by which patron-client relationships in ancient Greece, pre-Achaemenid Iran, and Vedic India paved the way for new notions and sensibilities, including theoretical means of living and the promise of a happy afterlife. Special attention will be drawn to the names and mythical characterizations of Orpheus and the Vedic so-called R̥bhus (r̥bhú- [pl. r̥bhávaḥ]) as idealized projections of the itinerant poet-priest.

TCS Talk | Michal Schwarz | 1st December 2017

Location: Meadows Lecture Theatre, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh.
Date: Fri 01/12/2017
Time:    17:45 – 19:00

Speaker: Michal Schwarz (Masaryk University, Czech Republic)

The Moon in Selected East Asian Folk Tales.  Cosmologies and deities of the moon in selected East Asian languages, traditions and folk tales

Michal’s lecture will focus on examples of folk tales from less known variants of East Asian traditions: for example, a cosmogonic local tale from the Korean Jeju island, and then ethnic Vietnamese and Mường folk tales about deities of the moon. Beside the cosmological complexity of topics in these relatively brief folk tales, the lecture will deal with the historical development of the respective religious traditions through selected theonyms and their use. Finally, Michal will compare Vietnamese syncretic motifs with their counterparts in Indian and Chinese source-traditions.

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Forthcoming lecture

Please note that the date has changed for the lecture by Jelka Vince

Jelka Vince, Ivo Pilar Institute. Czech Republic 
The Proto-Slavic Pre-Christian Ritual Scenario of a Međimurje  Wedding as an Imitation of the Divine Wedding

Tuesday 5th December.
Room G.02, 19 George Sq
17.45-19.00
Jelka_Vince_draft_poster_small

 

Fruitfulness and fertility are widely represented symbolically in wedding traditions. The objective of this paper is to examine a wedding comedy from the Međimurje folklore titled “Baba Went Mushroom Picking” from a angle, which is to say as a document of a nonliterate culture, a source and path to the fragmentary reconstruction of former religious systems. Specifically, the paper hopes to reconstruct the vestiges of a Proto-Slavic ritual scenario, on the basis of which the Međimurje wedding could be connected with divine weddings as paradigmatic models for all weddings. The paper also raises the crucial question of whether this performative form also provides insight into pre-Christian wedding traditions, and into the ritual wedding scenario as a repetition of the sacred divine wedding.