The Hero Journey

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“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have one before us, the labyrinth is fully known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

Joseph Campbell

The Orkney Islands

These words were on my mind as I felt the plane lift off the runway heading towards Scotland to follow the bagpipes.  I am not an easy traveller as some who have no fear of flying, missing train schedules, or unexpected detours.   I want a plan with timetables and reservation numbers to confirm that there will be food and shelter at the other end of the journey.  In other words, I want security every step of the way.  There is safety in believing that somehow I remain fully in control of my circumstances and surroundings.

That is not the hero journey.  To travel that road, security and comfort must be set aside for something grander to occur.  The important thing, I reminded myself, is that I have taken a first step.

 

The Orkney Islands

Blàr Chùil Lodair

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‘Will ye no come back again’

 Scottish lament after Charles Edward Stuart returned to France following the failure of the 1745 uprising.

Culloden Moor

Culloden Moor

Blàr Chùil Lodair, The Battle of Culloden was the final skirmish of the 1745 Jacobite Rising under the command of Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie.  It was the House of Stuart against the House of Hanover for the restoration of the Stuart line to the British Throne.  Without the benefit of military experience and ignoring the advice of his commander, George Murray, Bonnie Prince Charlie chose to fight on open marshy land that fateful day of April 16, 1746. His forces consisted mostly of Scottish Highlanders, along with a few Lowland Scots and a small detachment of Englishmen from the Manchester Regiment.  The fight was quick, bloody and decisive. Charles Stuart returned to France, defeated, never to return again to Scotland.

The Highlands lost many brave men that day.  The relentless pursuit of remaining Jacabites and the Act of 1747, in reaction to the Jacobite rebellion would be equally catastrophic.  Every attempt was made to destroy the clan system of society across the Highlands, including banning the wearing of the tartan and carrying weapons.  There was an understanding that the Highland Pipes, although not specifically mentioned in the new laws, were outlawed as well.

The Clans

Music defines a society’s values and traditions; lyrics and tunes can be used as a rallying call to action.  The Highland Bagpipes endured as a testament to the resilience and courage of a people who would not forget their heritage.

Bonnie Charlie’s now awa’,
Safely owre the friendly main;
Mony a heart will break i’ twa,
Should he no’ come back again.

Chorus:
Will ye no come back again?
Will ye no come back again?
Better lo’ed ye canna be,
Will ye no come back again?

The Memory

The Memory

Highlands & Lowlands

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The Highlands

Scotland is divided into two distinguishable historic regions, the Highlands and the Lowlands.  Beginning in the later Middle Ages, a cultural difference appeared when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout the Lowlands.  The Highlands are located north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault.  A’ Ghàidhealtachd which means “the place of the Gaels” includes the area of the Western Isles and the Highlands.  It will not come as any surprise that Scotland has embraced, over the years, two distinct types of bagpipes.

The Great Highland Pipe is more familiar than its cousin, the Lowland Pipe. It is the pipe that is used at outdoor ceremonies like the Highland Games.  The piper must blow into the pipe to fill the bag with a reserve of air, which then escapes through four separate pipes, three being the “drones” and the fourth the “chanter,” which is where the piper’s fingers play the tune.

The Chanter

The Chanter

 

The Drones

The Drones

The Lowland pipes are noticeably different. Rather than blowing into the pipe to fill the airbag, the piper uses his or her arms to squeeze bellows that produce the air for the bag.  While Highland pipers stand or march, Lowland pipers usually take a seat. Their pipers are generally quieter, even mellow, and are suitable for indoor events.

Whether Highland or Lowland, the pipes define and enrich the traditions and heritage of a nation.

The Return (A Piper’s Vaunting) 

Pittendrigh Macgillivrary (1856-1938)

Och hey! for the splendour of tartans!
And hey for the dirk and the targe!
The race that was hard as the Spartans
Shall return again to the charge:

Shall come back again to the heather,
Like eagles, with beak and with claws
To take and to scatter for ever
The Sasennach thieves and their laws.

Och, then, for the bonnet and feather!
The pipe and its vaunting clear:
Och, then, for the glens and the heather!
And all that the Gael holds dear.