Hi first thread here, I've read this a few times in case you don't know it's by Alan garner the final part of a trilogy, the first two are regarded as
children's books, but like Harry potter many adults enjoyed reading them, this final book is most definitely for adults.
the reason that I wanted to post about this was that since reading this I just can't get it out of my head there's just something about it, there
seems to be a deeper meaning to this, but I can't put my finger on what it is.
"I think you’re correct in seeing a correspondence with The Owl Service – both books start with a scratch; the nurse’s administering of the
injection (as we presume is happening) is on one hand suggestive of the scratch Gawain will receive on the neck at the hands of the Green Knight –
but we could also seeing it as Garner’s hint that we are looking at an eruption into the ‘real’ world of a myth that will be similar to the owl
service. Here the scratching and the whole eruption of the mythical into the real seems to constellate around a girl on the verge of womanhood, such
as is often the case with poltergeist phenomena (well, this is one theory I’ve read).
Susan, similarly, is on the verge of womanhood – she is about to cross a boundary in her life and is thus in a ‘liminal’ state, and we all know
how much Garner loves liminality. The liminal, as a state of ‘neither nor’ is unsettling and undefined, and is therefore a doorway through which
the ‘other’ manifests. If we look at the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion on which the Owl service is based we find that Lleu can only be killed
when in a strange state of ‘neither nor’ – he can’t be killed on foot, on horseback, on solid ground, in water etc – and so he is killed
when he is in a state that renders him none of these things – half standing on a tub of water with one foot on the back of a goat etc etc –
interestingly Lindow man is killed in a bog – neither land nor water; and he is neither strangled on drowned or his throat slashed or hit on the
head with an axe – but all of the above!
Colin’s desire for his sister to remain as she was is denying her the crossing of the liminal point; her energies are repressed, contained – and
so she starts to twist and change – as you say, she wants to be flowers but Colin is making her owls. She needs liberating from Colin’s image of
her; she is the germ seed of his neurosis, whose very repression causes the illness.
I agree – I think we should look at the watcher next – his story hasn’t really been touched on in this thread. My first comment would be that
both he and Colin seek supernatural aid in trying to bring back or summon a woman – and both receive an answer, but not the one they expected.
There’s an issue surrounding the summoning of archetypal energies or personal needs – and a question of the validity of this act and the danger of
mixing myth and reality. This made most clear in Colin hunting for his sister, who has disappeared into an archetypal realm of hunted maidens on a
symbolic date, with a radio-telescope! Garner’s own therapy after a breakdown (as told in ‘A Voice that Thunders’) was likewise an exploration
of the dangers of what happens when a myth blurs with reality (in his case brought about by watching the filming of his book – where characters from
his own psyche suddenly became flesh and blood walking the same hillside where his imagination had placed them).
Garner isn’t suggesting that myth is not valid; he is saying it is powerful and in many ways more real than what we term reality. This is why Meg
warns him of summoning the Sleepers – she seems to talk of them as if they are the archetypal energies of myth, and once you release them you’re
on your way to madness (unless you have, like the shaman Garner really is, learned how to integrate them).
I wonder if Boneland is the equivalent of the stone woman carved by the watcher? Is it a call for a new guardian? The guardian/watcher wants a woman,
but only to beget a child to whom the tradition can be passed down; he asks for help but the powers send not someone of his own blood but a newcomer;
they answer his prayer but not in the form he expected. Similarly Susan is brought back, but not as Colin wished, through a juvenile summoning of
mythical powers, but through a delving into his own unconscious, and accepting that she has changed. Garner is the watcher on the Edge – and maybe
Boneland is a summoning – a call to others to take up the mantle of the guardian of ancient traditions?"
edit on 3-2-2013 by Gildenel because: (no reason given)