Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Elephant Never Forgets

So the saying went when we were growing up.  A PBS program the other night explained why - it's in their DNA (surprise, surprise).  The elephant matriarchs lead their family groups over the same time-worn trails through the Kalahari desert century after century, passing crucial survival knowledge on to the next generation as they do so.  And last night (this time on the Knowledge channel), while watching an excellent program on the origins of Scotland it occurred to me that perhaps the same thing happened with us.  You see, the men in our family generally exhibit a distaste for religion ranging from lip-service to outright atheism, and the ancient Scots (our ancestors) did too, as it turns out.  The original inhabitants of what is now Scotland were the Picts - pagan tribesmen with a penchant for headhunting who believed in Druids if anything.  They resisted conversion to Christianity under Garrick, a Gael who invaded Pictland in 878 AD - only succumbing when two Pictish cousins (Donald and Constantine) raised in Ireland as Gaels came home in 889 AD and defeated Garrick.  (Gaelic was the new language and religion of power, resulting in Constantine being crowned King of "Scotland" in 906 AD.)  So, the question is: how long does it take to wipe out the collective wisdom of milennia in our Scottish DNA?  A mere eleven hundred years?  I think not.  Come to think of it, my Snuggie would make a good Druid cloak!