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Super Short Ogham Intro

170r of the Book of Ballymote (1390)

Ogham (Ogam) – the Ancient Irish Art of Writing

Ogham (Pronounced: OH-mm, spelled ‘Ogam’ in Old Irish) is an ancient Irish language, written in a series of simple line markings along a straight edge.  The original alphabet is a set of 20 characters or feda, arranged in 4 groups of 5, called aicmí.  In later manuscripts, 5 additional letters appear, called the forfeda.

The characters themselves are known collectively as Beth-luis-nin, after the first letters of the groups, similar to the way Greek Alpha and Beta gave us the ‘alphabet’.  Each Ogham letter is associated with a plant or tree, and a particular sound, and represents a collection of ‘kennings’; keys to knowledge, called the Briatharogaim.

While the texts and tales frequently mention Ogham being carved on wood and bark – used for spells and to record genealogies – it is the 358 inscribed stones known to remain in Ireland which provide a more permanent record.  These seem to have served as burial or commemoration stones, boundary markers, and even a legal record for who might hold title to the land on which they stand.

It is impossible to definitively date the language, as we have no certain fixed points in history, archaeology, or linguistics.  Most will agree that the Ogham carved stone tradition dates at least back to the 300’s CE, coinciding with the coming of the Latin language to Ireland, through trade with Roman Britain and the scholarship of Christian monks.  Whether this was the start of the script, or it has deeper Pagan roots, is a question that waits to be answered.

Ogham’s importance in a hero’s burial is immortalised in the Táin:

“Then Etarcomol’s grave was dug
And his headstone planted in the ground
His name was written in Ogam
And he was mourned.”

 

Further Ogham Resources

Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom, by Erynn Rowan Laurie

Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom is a breakthrough in ogam divination and magical studies. Rather than working from the commonly known tree alphabet paradigm, Erynn Rowan Laurie takes us back to the roots of each letter’s name, exploring its meanings in the context of Gaelic language and culture. Like the Norse runes, each letter is associated with an object or a concept — “sulfur”, “a bar of metal”, “terror”. These letters are deeply enmeshed in a web of meaning both cultural and spiritual, lending power and weight to their symbolism. With two decades of experience with the ogam and over thirty years of working with divination, Erynn offers insights into the many profound meanings hidden in the ogam letters and their lore. She explains each letter in context and shows how to expand the system in new and innovative ways while acknowledging and maintaining respect for ogam’s traditional language and culture. In this book, you will find ways to use the ogam for divination, ideas on incorporating ogam into ritual, discussions of how ogam relates to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, and instructions for creating your own set of ogam feda or letters for your personal use.

Get Your Copy Here (it’s an affiliate link; I’ll get a few cents if you buy here, but it costs you nothing!)

 

The Poet’s Ogam: A Living Magical Tradition, by John-Paul Patton

This book is a creative exploration of the Ogam, based on a 17-year study by Irish author John-Paul Patton. The text explores the historical context of Ogam and the relationship between Ogam, poetry and the Gaelic harp. It contains a range of comparative studies between Ogam and the Kabbalah, Runes, I Ching and other systems. The text also presents original creations of an Ogam calendar, a divination system, and a reconstruction of Fidchell (the ancient Irish chess game) based on Ogam. The text further includes a system of Gaelic martial arts based on an elemental Ogam framework, magical Ogam squares, Ogam pentacles and much more, that fill this Tour de Force of contemporary Ogam study and use. The Poet’s Ogam carries on the Art and Science of the Filid-the Philosopher Poets who created and developed the Ogam and is a must for anyone with an interest in Celtic spirituality and magick. John-Paul Patton is generally recognised as a leading authority in Ireland of esoteric Ogam studies.

Get Your Copy Here (it’s an affiliate link; I’ll get a few cents if you buy here, but it costs you nothing!)

 

Sacred Irish Trees

Person by Tree

Sacred Trees in Early Ireland

Early Irish law was based on decisions made by the Gaelic Brehons, learned men and women of old Irish society who took on the responsibilities of the Judge.

It was an oral tradition, but the rulings were recorded by later Christian monks and priests, and so we have surviving Brehon Law manuscripts from the 700s.

The system remained in use despite many changes through Irish history, with native laws only specifically banned by the English in 1600.

The Brehons called their laws Fenechas – the law of the freemen of Gaelic Ireland, and it was a civil (not criminal) code which focused on payment of compensation for harm done, rather than punishment. Irish trees were revered and protected as an essential part of each community, and recognised as both sacred and valuable.

A text called Bretha Comaithchesa, which means ‘judgements of neighbourhood’, specifically regulated how Irish society dealt with harm done to trees. Damage to an especially valuable tree such as an oak or yew was a more serious offence than to a less prized tree, so 28 principal trees and shrubs are divided into four classes, with different rules applied to each group.

The 28 Principal Irish Trees

The most valuable and noble are the airig fedo – ‘lords of the wood’.

  • Dair ‘oak’ (Quercus robur, Quercus petraea)
  • Coll ‘hazel’ (Corylus avellana)
  • Cuilenn ‘holly’ (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Ibar ‘yew’ (Taxus baccata)
  • Uinnius ‘ash’ (Fraxinus excelsior)
  • Ochtach ‘Scots pine’ (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Aball ‘wild apple-tree’ (Malus pumila)

Then the aithig fhedo – ‘commoners of the wood’.

  • Fern ‘alder’ (Alnus glutinosa)
  • Sail ‘willow, sally’ (Salix caprea, Salix cinerea)
  • Scé ‘whitethorn, hawthorn’ (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Cáerthann ‘rowan, mountain ash’ (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Beithe ‘birch’ (Betula pubescens, Betula pendula)
  • Lem ‘elm’ (Ulmus glabra)
  • Idath ‘wild cherry’ (Prunus avium)

The fodla fedo are the ‘lower divisions of the wood’.

  • Draigen ‘blackthorn’ (Prunus spinosa)
  • Trom ‘elder’ (Sambucus nigra)
  • Féorus ‘spindle-tree’ (Euonymus europaeus)
  • Findcholl ‘whitebeam’ (Sorbus aria)
  • Caithne ‘arbutus, strawberry tree’ (Arbutus unedo)
  • Crithach ‘aspen’ (Populus tremula)
  • Crann fir ‘juniper’ (Juniperus communis)

And least valuable are the losa fedo – ‘bushes of the wood’.

  • Raith ‘bracken’ (Pteridium aquilinum)
  • Rait ‘bog-myrtle’ (Myrica gale)
  • Aitenn ‘furze, gorse, whin’ (Ulex europaeus, Ulex gallii)
  • Dris ‘bramble’ (Rubus fruticosus aggregate)
  • Fróech ‘heather’ (Calluna vulgaris, Erica cinerea)
  • Gilcach ‘broom’ (Sarothamnus scoparius)
  • Spín ‘wild rose’ (Rosa canina)

King of the Woods

Let’s take for an example the mighty Oak. A mature Irish Oak (Quercus Robur) can live for more than 500 years, and grow 130ft tall. One of these trees supports over 250 species of insect, and over 300 different types of lichen, which form the food chain for a multitude of birds. Oaks grow acorns, a feast for many wild creatures, who can also make a home in the tree – whether they’re nesting in branches or curling up at the roots. Humans also benefit greatly from each and every tree, so it’s no wonder the oak is known as the ‘king of the woods’. In Irish it’s called dair, and shares a root with the word for magic and druid – draoí. The practical value of the oak in Brehon Law is said to be “its acorns and its use for woodwork”; the acorn crop was particularly useful for fattening pigs, while oak-timber is the finest for fences and buildings.

Why Connect to Trees?

Tree energy is unique and incredibly healing. Trees can help humans to:

  • Ground Ourselves – centre our spirit within our body, and directly connect to the earth.
  • Heal Ourselves – particularly for old and deep emotional wounds.
  • Discover Our Ancestors – bridge the generational gaps of time and link to our past.
  • Clear Our Physical Blockages – cleanse impurities and pain or obstructions we have collected.
  • Connect to Other Worlds – trees exist in worlds of earth and sky, carry water and create air.

How to Connect to a Tree

First, find one that’s physically convenient to you – in your garden or where you work maybe? You’ll want to build a relationship, so the occasional flying visit will not do. Go and look at it, really look at it. Stand back and take in its overall form and growth habit. See how the leaves are shaped, the patterns they form on stem or branch – notice every part of it.

Feel the sphere of energy, or aura, around the tree. It is formed in circles, and can be quite large; the outer ring will match roughly with the overall spread of branch and root. Step up to, then inside the energy circle. If you move slowly and close your eyes you’ll feel a slight push, a feint resistance as you step through, and again through each interior ring as you make your way to the trunk.

Find a comfortable spot and stand or sit with your back leaning against the tree. Sense how you are safe inside its energy circle. Take off your shoes and touch the earth beneath your feet. Put your hands to the bark of the tree, or flat on the soil beneath it, and let energy flow from the crown of your head, down your spine, and out of your body, down into the earth.

Allow your body to refill with fresh energy as you breathe air into your lungs, and pull the tree’s healing power through the top of your head and down into the centre of yourself. Let it circle and flow through you. Spend some time; see what thoughts come to mind.

When you feel refreshed, step away and thank the tree for the connection that day.

Visit the tree again soon!

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The Three Realms in Irish Tradition

triple spiral in stone square

[from the archives, shared for personal history context…]

Perhaps, since you already work in this realm, you could look at the three realms (land, sea and sky) from the Tain and the three worlds of the shaman? Either from scholarship or practice. Formal is by no means necessary, though some reference to sources is appreciated.  In fact, with so much commentary and research I would be quite open to more subjective work…

Communication from Frater Docet Umbra, 2012


This article first appeared in the Journal of the Irish Order of Thelema, ‘Fortified Island’, Issue #1, in March 2013.

It’s a long time since I thought of my work in a Thelemic context.  Unsurprisingly, to me at least, not a lot changes when that shift does take place.  It didn’t take much to change my perspective to the concepts and practices of Thelema – different words, different names, different rituals, but the essence is the same as I had always believed and experienced.

I started through the Man of Earth initiation cycle as a personal journey, a challenge to myself that is one in a long series of such challenges.  A lifetime’s worth, or more, one might say.  I came from a firm family grounding in Irish heritage and nature exploration, exceedingly boring to the child I was, but ever appreciated since.  From personal Gnosis in my teens, I found training and connection in a Traditional Wiccan coven, working through their triple degree system and learning a whole lot.  Moving from there I found myself in Roscommon.  Not quite knowing how or why that had happened, I set to explore, and found I had landed in Cruachan.  Ancient Royal Capital, perhaps one of the first sites in Ireland of consistent ritual and ceremonial use.

Connection to the land became about more than just local entities and legends, as I had previously experienced.  A small group, just four of us, remained of our previous working group, and we were three intensely dedicated sisters and one male; who was learning a lot, but in some ways along for the ride.  And we began working through the worlds.

Neart mara dhuit,
Neart talamh dhuit,
Neart nèimhe.

Mathas mara dhuit,
Mathas talamh dhuit,
Mathas nèimhe.

Power of sea be with you,
Power of land be with you,
Power of sky.

Goodness of sea be with you,
Goodness of land be with you,
Goodness of sky.

Collected by Alexander Carmichael
I remain wary of Carmichael’s work, I must admit, but no more so than I am wary of many of the other folklorists of his time.  I find it difficult to reconcile how a person from another culture entirely – particularly when the language from which they are hoping to collect has so much in the way of tenuous and liminal associations and inflection (as is the case in Scots Gaelic and Irish) – can accurately capture or convey the ‘true’ meanings of the original.  However, the same can be said for nearly every single piece of literary material we have to work from, starting with the Christian Monks who faithfully transcribed the Irish myths, legends and even historical accounts (albeit changing the timelines on occasion to fit in the Christian worldview), and on up to certain more recent ‘Celtic’ explorers.  We must do what we can with what we have.

There is value to be had, even if at times it might only be useful in an inspirational sense, from the literature that is available.  As modern seekers, we can study the source material available, understand what we can from that, review and share experiences and theories with other seekers, and work consistently on developing our own connection from this point; the only place we have from which to work.

And so, that is what we did.  Looking at the Táin, an integral tale to this complex of sites, as well as it’s broader value in Irish Literature, we developed the idea of the Earth, Sea, and Sky model, the three worlds.  How would we learn this, experience this, with no one to teach it?  How could it be taught?  What would the journey of an initiation cycle look like when based around this core concept?  How could we make that work?

There were many late night conversations, many heated debates, and even a few all round arguments.  A loose plan was formed to work through each world on an annual basis, with a programme of rituals and exercises for each, culminating in an intense practical initiatory experience of the particular elements of that world.  We put ourselves through the wringer – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  We survived Earth, we survived Sea, we survived Sky.

Then everything blew apart, in quite a spectacular fashion.  The small sparks suddenly exploded out of all proportion.  Family relationships, careers, friendships, even a marriage, all burned up in the unplanned extra, the middle of the triple spiral that touches all three worlds, the sacred centre of every circle.  The world of Fire.

We survived Fire, but we did it as individuals.  Our work exploded and imploded, and, speaking for myself at least, evened out (eventually) into a steady, burning core of power and connection that touches all the worlds.  And it is that connection that has been my most important lesson.  Nothing stands alone.  There are stories within stories, sites within sites, people within people.  Inter-linking circles, spirals, which join place to place, people to people, and one time to another.  None of our sacred sites is just one thing, at one time.  None of our deities or archetypal characters stand alone, none are confined to one location, one function, one relationship.  None of the Daoine Eile are restricted to one role, one aspect, one place.  Recognising and studying the layers, the overlap, the bridging points, is essential.  Working between worlds can be a key to understanding Irish traditions.

Celtic Woad – an Authentic Resource?

Kiera Knightley as a Woad

Ah, the Celtic tribes – they painted themselves blue with woad and ran naked into battle. Right?

Got high as a kite to scare the bejaysus out of their enemy and improve their ferocity because, as we all know, woad is a powerful hallucinogen. Right?

We’ve all seen Braveheart, and that King Arthur film on the telly box – they even called the people ‘Woads’ in that, didn’t they? Sure, then it must be true…

Though seemingly well attested in eye witness accounts, scholars question the veracity of this belief, but that doesn’t seem to filter into the body art or Celtic re-enactment communities with any great speed.

Personally, I believe that ancient tribes of Ireland and the British Isles, such as the Picts and more southern Britons, did utilise methods of tattooing and body decoration as part of their battle, spiritual, and even everyday rituals.

Herodian, in the First Century CE (Common Era), said of the tribes –

“they puncture their bodies with pictured forms of every sort of animals. And this is the reason why they wear no clothes, to avoid covering the drawings on their bodies.”

I am inclined though, to at least challenge the ‘fact’ that they used woad to dye themselves blue.

The most often quoted source for this prevalent belief is the Roman emperor Caesar’s recorded description of the Brittani, a Celtic tribe. It has been commonly translated as:

“All the Britons dye their skin with woad, which produces a blueish colour and makes them appear horrifying in battle”.(1)

The original Latin, however, says: “Omnes vero se Britanni vitro inficiunt, quod caeruleum efficit colorem”. The “vitro inficiunt” could translate classically as ‘stain/dye with glazes’, or ‘infected themselves with glass’.(2)

The blue colour he describes could have been caused by body paint rather than tattoos, or it is possible the tribe used scarification techniques or glass ‘needles’ to tattoo themselves. But probably not with woad. Why not?

Woad (Isatis tinctoria)

Although it makes a wonderful indigo coloured dye for materials, a safe, biodegradable natural ink, and is also showing usefulness as a wood preservative; it’s pretty crap as a body paint, or a tattoo ink.

It’s extremely caustic – when used as tattoo ink it literally burns itself to the surface, and though it heals fast, it leaves an excessive amount of scar tissue. Alas, none of it blue.

A tattooist, Pat Fish, is often quoted as saying she believes that Celts used copper as a blue colour and firewood ash or lampblack for a black.(3)

Traces of copper based pigments were found on an ancient body, excavated from a bog in Cheshire, UK. This would seem to indicate the presence of copper tattoos of some sort, which would have been coloured blue. Of course, we now know that copper is highly toxic, and would not use it on or in our bodies.

From my own experiences with powdered woad, using it as a body paint, I’ve had to mix it with something (I’ve tried hair gel, commercial body glitter gel, and even PVA glue!) to try and get it to stay on at all. Even then it streaks all over the place or just dries up and flakes off. Not entirely reminiscent of a battle hardened warrior.

It also doesn’t seem to particularly stain the skin. Perhaps it would stain in certain areas, such as the finger tips or elbows, through prolonged contact. But so would pretty much anything.

And besides, blue smudged cuticles and tinted elbows aren’t going to particularly impress anybody in battle, even if you take the time to assure them that it’s genuine Celtic woad.

And to the other common belief, that of high Celts running round?

Woad is not a strong hallucinogen. A mild psychotropic, at best. Reports of woad induced ancient battle/modern festival madness must have, to my mind, been greatly exaggerated. Pagan types, collect your people?

All in all, the only practical possibility is that woad was used on the battle field as a possible wound cauterising agent, on account of its astringent properties.

It’s a nice thought for those of us who are proud of our ‘Celtic’ heritage – and I use the term in the academic sense, please understand that – being able to use the same materials or techniques as our ancestors, to look the same or perhaps even produce the same effects.

I can see why it can be difficult to give up on. Even if the actual evidence or effect achieved is disappointing at best, and at worst, somewhat risky in the hands of the inexperienced.

A possible alternative to woad or copper, which would also have been available at the time, is iron.

Julius Caesar, while commenting on early Celtic tribes, said that they had “designs carved into their faces by iron”.(4) Iron could possibly be used to produce a blue coloured ink or dye, if handled by an expert.

Don’t try this at home, girls and boys! However, with the sheer beauty of the Celtic art and wonderful tattoo artists that are available now, I’d be encouraging the use of these to connect with or emulate the warriors of old, rather than the crude inks they employed.

After all, the Celtic people were nothing if not highly adaptable. If they had the kind of high quality ink that we have available to us now, I seriously doubt that copper filings, or woad, would even get a look in.

###

Resources

(1) – Philip Freeman, “War, Women, and Druids”, University of Texas Press, U.S.A. ISBN: 0-292-72545-0
(2) – Encyclopedia, Columbia University press (online): http://www.answers.com/topic/picts
(3) – e.g. In her article for ‘An Scathán’, entitled “Celtic Tattooing: Primitive art form emerges in America”, available online at: http://www.underbridge.com/scathan/archive/1995/11_november/11.11.tattoo.html
(4) – Julius Caesar, “Commentarii de Bello Gallico”, circa 55 BCE (Before Common Era)


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(This Article)

First North American Publication, Tattoo Revue Magazine.
First Canadian Publication, Celtic Heritage Magazine

Your Irish Ancestry?

Family Tree and Irish Ancestry

To move forward, we need to understand what is behind us, what has developed us, how to use the fertility of prepared and nourished ground and seed to grow and thrive into the future.

This is our Ancestry.

Blood lines are important, and an understanding of family ties, bonds, history, and each root and branch of our physical family tree will provide a firm foundation from which to build. But what of spiritual ancestry? What of the deep seated desire that burns in so many of us for a land, a tribe, a culture from which we have no discernible descent?

I am Irish. It’s a simple statement, an understanding that one originates from a small green island on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Irish people have always been explorers, travellers, hard workers and adventurers who sailed and settled throughout the globe. Ireland’s blood reaches far and wide, but Irish culture, Irish heritage weaves an even wider net over the world. And Irish spirituality sings a pure siren song, even for those whose physical ancestry does not seem to tie in with this land.

What harm? Irish mythology is rich with ‘invasions’ of other cultures, blended into a fine tapestry through time. We are a multicultural stirring pot; so whether your grandmother was from Connemara, or Colorado – if the spirit of Irish ancestry stirs your soul, you can explore it. Here’s how.

 

Your Ancestor Altar

First, you create a special place in your home or garden, welcoming to ancestral spirits. A quiet corner is good, with a table or shelf, and an area in front where you can sit facing it. The space should be as tech free as possible, and if it’s unavoidable, think about placing plants or salt rock warmers to support clearing ‘negative’ ions.

In this clear space, think about what your ancestry means to you. Go there, with a notebook and pen, sit with eyes closed, and observe what initial thoughts surface when you turn your mind to your Ancestors. What names surface? Associated places? Physical characteristics? Moods or personalities? Family events? Memories, stories, or anecdotes?

Then open your eyes, and take written note of what you thought or felt. Let this be the basis of your ancestral actions.

For many of us, not all things associated with family and ancestry are positive, or even easy to remember and think on. Take note of this too, let it flow through you as much as you can, observe it, record it. Sometimes, it can be just as important to understand the parts of our past that we do not want to incorporate into ourselves, as this leads a clearer path to determination for who we do want to be.

Some of your memories and thoughts on ancestry will be related to death, and so, dark or shadowed. But remember that it is within the darkness that seeds first grow, it takes the absence of light to bring forth hope, and new life nourished by the old.

Looking at your notes, begin to gather items and physical triggers or representations related to your ancestry. This could be photographs, family crests, memorabilia or souvenirs… anything that relates in your mind, or resonates in your spirit, with your ancestral memories. Take your time, gather or remove things as seems right to you. Aim for deep quality resonance over sheer quantity of items.

Finally, place a trio of small items at the front of your ancestral altar to represent the 3 worlds of Earth, Sea and Sky – clustered in a triple spiral formation around a central point of fire, even a simple tea-light candle for safety.

Spend some time at your ancestral altar weekly at least, but preferably every day. Sit quietly and absorb, meditate on the items and their resonance, move and change things around as you will over time. This is your space, for inspiration, and balance – life and death, co-habiting and calm.

 

Action Items

 

“Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin”

(Old Irish Saying) – There’s no hearth like your own hearth.

Phonetic Pronunciation: Neel ane tin-tawn mar thu hin-tawn fayn.

 

  • Choose 1 of your ancestors – whether blood relative or spiritual predecessor – and begin to form a specific relationship with them.
  • Place a photograph on your altar, along with a sample of handwriting, small personal item, or anything else that may for a direct physical link.
  • Light the flame at the centre of the 3 worlds, and close your eyes. Breathe deeply, imagining yourself at the centre of the worlds, holding the flame in your core.
  • Think of this internal flame as your hearth fire, which you have sat down by. Invite your ancestor to come and sit by your hearth with you. Picture them clearly in your mind, and use your own words, whatever feels most comfortable. You are inviting them for a chat, not formally evoking their presence.
  • If they don’t show up at first, don’t worry. Sometimes it takes a wee while to establish a connection and form a pathway. You keep showing up every day, and extend the invitation regularly. They’ll get there.
  • When they do, you can have a chat. Ask a question, share a story, get their perspective or advice on a matter. Listen, remember, and be respectful.
  • When you’re done, thank them and say goodbye. Stay sitting, and let them leave your space before you do.
  • Then you can take a few minutes by your hearth yourself. Look at the fire, and see it as the candle flame on your altar. Breathe deeply, and feel your body sitting by your altar. Move, and open your eyes.
  • Write your notes!

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The Bull In Irish Mythology

Red and White Bull

There is an altar in Paris, which bears the inscription “Tarvos Trigaranus”, which means ‘Bull with three cranes’ (as in, birds). Carved in relief is a tree with spreading branches, in front of which stands a bull, with two of the birds perched on it’s back, and the third on it’s head.

In the Gundestrup cauldron (found in Denmark, and probably dating from the first century BCE), which is decorated in detail both outside and inside in high relief, we see what appears to be a depiction of the hunting/imminent killing of a huge bull on the interior base plate.

A warrior or a deity is shown seemingly about to spear the neck of a prostrate bull which far out-scales him. There are also dogs present, which may lend weight to the possibility of it being a hunting scene.

Pronsias MacCana (‘Celtic Mythology’: Littlehampton Book Services, 1969) links the Donn Cuailgne, Brown Bull of Cooley, to Tarvos Trigaranus, which he calls the ‘three horned Bull’ – indeed he states the two can “scarcely be dissassociated”. He goes on to speak of “a number of widely attested names which seem to imply familiarity with the notion of a bull-deity”, such as the Gaulish name Donnotaurus, which means ‘Brown, or Kingly, Bull’.

In this case, the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailgne takes on quite a deeper meaning than the simple theme of overly hormonal bulls having a bit of a territorial spat. The two great beasts were never of this world, having reached those forms by changing originally from swineherds of two lords of the Otherworld, through a series of forms including ravens, stags, warrior champions, water beasts, demons and water worms.

Bull symbolism appears in vast quantities when dealing with the ancient ‘Celtic’ world.

From ritual deposits and sacrifices in the late Bronze Age, to carving and other artistic representation of bull figures, to place-names and tribal names representing the animal, and also taking into account the traditions of cattle raiding and ranching which were/are so prominent in Ireland particularly – we see the bull itself, or possibly deity connected with bulls, as a hugely significant figure. World-wide, bulls represent powers of strength, fierceness, and virility, and we have no reason to doubt that the Irish viewed their bulls any other way.

Bull statuary and iconography survives mainly in Gaulish, and some British finds. Being an unnatural form, the triple horned bull mentioned above seems to have been particularly a sacred image. This carries through when we see it being found in shrines, temples, and even the grave of a child (Colchester, England).

Perhaps the triplication of the horns is a way of increasing the potency of the animal’s fertility and virility power; three horns are better than two! Three is also a power number in itself in Irish and Celtic cultures, showing up many times over in relation to many different things.

Whether the imagery we see, or the larger than life creatures we hear tell of, represented a particular deity or simply the attributes of the animal itself is unclear.

Miranda Green (‘The Gods of the Celts’: The History Press, 2011) gives an example of a “silver washed three horned bull”, which was found at a shrine in Dorset, England, and dates from the middle of the fourth century CE. She gives the figures we can see on it’s back as deities, and makes links with the above mentioned bull carrying three cranes – saying they may be examples of the shape shifting we hear about in the tales. It is possible.

What evidence we have, in Ireland and abroad, certainly shows a respect for the attributes of the tarbh (pron. Tar-ev).

As a Taurean myself, I am totally down with the idea of a kick ass Lord of the Bulls, or one who can shift at will to bull form, with all the wonderful qualities that would bring to a situation. Can you spot the bull bias here?!

However, having yet to be introduced to such an entity, or personally encounter one on my travels, I will content myself with exploring, for now, the idea of working with the bull as a ‘power animal’.

It doesn’t have to be a bull either. I am as sick as the next person of coming across those people who assert in all earnestness that their “power animal” or “spirit animal” (neither of which are terms that are culturally appropriate for me or you to use, btw, unless you have a true heritage with certain native tribes) is something ultra cool, like a super sleek panther, or a super strong stallion, when they remind you more of an ageing shetland pony, a bit knackered and up for nothing more than a quiet corner of paddock and a hay hammock which runneth over.

Hey, who knows, maybe that stallion is in there somewhere, stabled for now but ready to break free at the slightest hint of filly. Stranger things have happened.

Rest assured though, your animal ally, if you have one, doesn’t have to be a soaring eagle or a bristling bear. Or even a bull. Your average mouse has a lot it could teach the modern Pagan.

I have a friend, Ailish, who now embraces the fact that the goat is a factor in her life that will probably never go away, and I realised long ago that the humble donkey exerts a bigger influence over me than my sense of street cred is comfortable with. So, there you go.

There are also associations astrologically between Ireland and the sign of Taurus.

William Lilly’s “Christian Astrology”, which first appeared in 1647 and was reprinted in 1985 (by Regulus Publishing Co., London), places Ireland – along with Switzerland and Cypress, among others – as a Kingdom which is specifically associated with the sun sign of Taurus, the bull.

The Easter Rising, which marked the establishment of the free Irish Republic and the attainment of political independence in Ireland, was an armed uprising of Irish nationalists against British Rule. It happened on Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, and centred mainly in Dublin, placing it firmly in the realm of the Bull.

Since an tarbh is of such importance in the Irish (and broader ‘Celtic’) legends and history, it’s as good a place to start as any.

Working with this established Irish animal ally can lead you to the experience and insight of finding your own personal animal guide/s. The following can be adapted or utilised to suit your own needs.

It would be good to have a working partner or group facilitator who could lead you in this sort of journey, even better if they can play a drum in time to their own words. I know, I used to read things like that back in my baby Pagan days and get a sinking feeling, as I always worked alone then. And I didn’t have a handy tape recorder either, to record myself leading myself on a journey.

Alone is fine. Working alone is even better in some ways, because you create your own rhythm and set your own pace. If you have a drum, beat it as you go. If you don’t have one, or you feel it would distract you, try and get some music to play: something with a heavy drum beat and no words or wailing women.

Settle yourself comfortably. Somewhere outdoors would be good, an open plain or field of rolling grassland would be excellent. Cattlesheds might be going a touch too far, it takes ages to get the cow poo out from between your toes. If you want to focus on a particular Irish Bull, the Donn Cuailgne was to be found in the North East of Ireland, and the Finnbennach in the North West. If you wish to align yourself in either of these directions, that’d be good.

Having said that though, bits of Finnbennach ended up all over the country, giving places like Athlone their names in Gaeilge (the Irish language, please don’t call it Gaelic!), so I doubt if it matters much which way you point your face. Working without crossed limbs and keeping your spine straight spine is good, but don’t go contorting yourself unnaturally. There’s not too many westerners who can hold the lotus position and still keep their mind on the job in hand. Don’t hurt yourself.

Try a straight backed armchair, leaning against a tree or wall, or just lie flat on the ground.

Breathe deeply for you. Focus on each breath as it comes in, filling you with energy, and as it goes out, flowing away all the stresses and strains of your day/week/year/life. Breathe through your nose exclusively. You don’t need to take massive deep diaphragm ones either, just relax into a steady nasal breathing pattern. I believe this to be healthier and easier to maintain than mouth breathing, as you shift away from conscious thought.

Now, just drift your way to thoughts of Bull. Every time your thoughts drift away, just notice it, let go of the distraction, and guide yourself back to the Bull.

What do you know? What do you see, or smell, or hear, or taste, or feel? What do you call it, how do you experience it? Simply keep your focus on Bull, and see what happens.

When you’ve had enough, re-focus on your breathing, and on your physical self – where your body touches the earth, what it feels like, what you can sense around you here and now. And when you’re ready, open your eyes and move around a bit. Maybe eat something.

Now, write it down. Do it again later, and write that down too! Rinse and repeat, and look for patterns, messages, guidance or clarity in the experiences you are having. Let me know how you get on!


If you’re interested in learning more about a native Irish Journey technique that can form the basis for an authentic spiritual/magical practice – Join the 30 Day (free) Guided Journeys Programme below.

Part 9 – Dearg Corra – Who’s Who of Irish Mythology Series

Who's Who of Irish Mythology

Part 9 – Dearg Corra

I found a Book Proposal from 13 years ago, that I had agreed to write before life took a different turn for me – a ‘Who’s Who of Irish Mythology & How to Work with Them’.

I may or may not turn it into a book at some stage…?! But for now it may as well be out in world as sitting on my computer.

WARNING: It’s an unedited old photo of my thoughts and practice 13 years ago. So, be aware.

 

[Check Part 8 Here…]

 

Dearg Corra

Placement ~ Fenian Cycle

Pronunciation:  Jee-arr-g Korr-ah.  Also called Derg Corra.

Dearg Corra will usually only be referred to as a servant of Fionn Mac Cumhaill.  This is due to the somewhat strange story about him from an 8th Century text, which seems to be a survival of (or a way of collecting) older stories/references concerning the character.

The story goes that he was Fionn’s servant, and was propositioned by a lover of Fionn’s who had taken a liking to him.  When Dearg Corra rejected the woman, she went to the Fenian leader with a story of being raped, and the servant was banished.  While hunting in a forest, Fionn later came across “a man on the top of a tree with a blackbird on his right shoulder, and a bright bronze vessel in his left hand, in which was a leaping trout; and a stag was at the foot of the tree.”  Fionn didn’t recognise the man as he had hidden himself in a Féth Fiadha (pron. Fay Fee-ah), which is a magical ‘cloak of concealment’, but he could see that the stag was sharing apples with him, the blackbird was sharing nuts with him, and the trout was sharing water from the bronze vessel with him.  Fionn then placed his thumb in his mouth to access his own magical seeing ability, and proclaimed the following: “It is Dearg Corra, son of Daighre’s descendant, who is in the tree!”  These quotes were given by Kuno Meyer in the Revue Celtique 25.

Alwyn and Brinley Rees “merely mention” the character of Dearg in the context of an enemy of Fionn, who is perhaps a supernatural malevolent burner.  They use the fact that he is said to have jumped “to and fro across the cooking hearth” to support this.  Dáithí Ó hÓgáin goes into the whole thing in far more detail.  His take on the story is that the only way to explain the supernatural elements contained within it, is to view it as a survival of a “cult of some divinity”.  He links Dearg Corra to a fire God, giving the word Dearg (which means ‘Red’) as a common enough name for a God in Early Ireland, along with the connection to his ancestor Daighre (pron. Dar-ah, meaning ‘flame’) and attributes his aforementioned fire leaping as symbolic of the flames cooking food.  He links the deity to a possible Irish representation of the horned animal God whom the Continental Celts referred to as Cernunnos; a name which will be at least familiar to most modern Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans.  The evidence for this is, admittedly, circumstantial.  Dearg Corra symbolising the provision of sustenance (his role as a servant, his connection to the cooking of food), his role as protector and sustainer of wild animals as the hunters quarry, his skill at concealing himself from your average prying eye (even Fionn with his Seer’s abilities had a bit of a job in identifying him), and the best surviving example of the Cernunnos figure in all his glory (seen on the inner plates of the Gundestrup Cauldron, now housed in the National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark) shows him surrounded by animals such as the stag and the fish, among others  – all of this does seem to point to the true role of Dearg Corra being more than it initially may appear.  Ó hÓgáin also further connects the character (or at least the name) of Dearg with aspects of the God of death, Donn, and with the Dagda; seemingly in the context of more violent deaths and slaughter.

Though there is little concrete evidence for the death connection, it makes sense to me that a God of life would also have a flip side concerned with death, and that a protector of animals who also works for or with a hunter figure such as Fionn, would preside too over the violence and death of the kill.  If nothing else, he could make sure it was done right.  And as the prevalent horned animal God figure, referred to as Cernunnos by archaeologists, appears to have been quite widespread among the Continental Celts – and indeed, Proinsias MacCana even makes connections with an Indian God form appearing on a seal found at Mohenjodaro; who may be a prototype of Shiva in his aspect as Pashupati, ‘Lord of the Beasts’ – I am not sure it is too far fetched to conclude that there quite possibly was an Irish God who represented the same values and concerns, at some stage in our history.  There is certainly, in my experience, a native Irish Being who responds quite happily to the evocation and invocation of Cernunnos or the ‘Horned God’, which I  have experienced while working in the Irish landscape.

From a modern magical perspective, Dearg Corra can be seen to be  primarily concerned with, or representative of, the following:

  • Fire; for cooking, and sustenance.
  • Forestry, and forest dwelling wildlife.
  • Protection of, and continual provision for, the hunted.
  • Concealment, especially from those who have no business with seeing.
  • Right conduct of the hunter, honour and respect in the kill.

If you choose to work with Dearg Corra, or indeed, he chooses to work with you, a forest setting would be particularly appropriate.  Look for him in the trees, and by the camp fire or cooking pit.  The wildlife he sustains could be your guide: especially look to the stag, the blackbird, or the trout to direct you to him.  Whether you visit his dwelling places in this world or through connection to the Otherworld, be watchful.  Trust in your own ability to see and your power to connect, as Fionn did.

 

This is the End of This Book Proposal! Thanks for Following the Series  🙂


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Part 8 – Flidhais – Who’s Who of Irish Mythology Series

Who's Who of Irish Mythology

Part 8 – Flidhais

I found a Book Proposal from 13 years ago, that I had agreed to write before life took a different turn for me – a ‘Who’s Who of Irish Mythology & How to Work with Them’.

I may or may not turn it into a book at some stage…?! But for now it may as well be out in world as sitting on my computer.

WARNING: It’s an unedited old photo of my thoughts and practice 13 years ago. So, be aware.

 

[Check Part 7 Here…]

 

 

Flidhais

Placement ~ Ulster Cycle

Pronunciation:  Flee-ash.  Also called Fliodhais, Flidais.

 

If she is known at all, it is as a Goddess of cattle or deer.  The main surviving tale we have concerning her from original source material is “Táin Bó Flidais”, which has two versions.  A short version appears first in Lebor na hUidhre, The Book of the Dun Cow, an 11th Century text.  A similar short version can be seen in the Book of Leinster, from the 12th Century, and also in a manuscript from the 15th Century called the Egerton manuscript.  But perhaps a more interesting version, for it’s additional esoteric elements, appears in the 15th Century Glenmason manuscript. “Táin Bó Flidais” is one of the Remscéla or ‘Fore-tales’ which precede, and explain, the happenings of the epic Táin Bó Cuailgne, the ‘Cattle Raid of Cooley’.

Flidhais is said to be a woman of the Sidhe, who crosses to this world.  She brings with her a herd of wonderful cattle, the most amazing being a cow they call the Maol Flidais, the Bald or ‘Horn-less’ cow of Flidhais.  This creature could feed over three hundred men, and their families, in one night from a single milking.  The Fairy woman marries a man from Connaught, Aillil Fionn, a neighbour of Queen Meadbh and her husband Aillil.  On a visit to Maedbh’s court, Flidhais meets and falls in love with the exiled Ulster warrior Feargus Mac Roich.  A man of powerful sexual appetites, usually it took seven women to satisfy him; but Flidhais was a match for him on her own.  She puts him under a geis (pron. gesh), an ancient obligation or prohibition, to take her away from her husband.  A bloody battle ensues, the upshot of which is that Feargus brings her the severed head of her late husband.  The Maol Flidais, not as enamoured of Feargus as her mistress, mourns the death of her former master – who had fought bravely against odds that were vastly stacked against him, as Feargus had attacked him with the help and support of Queen Maedbh’s forces.  This amazing animal was only convinced to go and join the Connaught herds by the reminder that there she would have the companionship of her beloved Flidhais, and would also become the fitting consort of the fantastic White-Horned Bull.

Some versions of the tale then say that Flidhais remained the wife of Feargus until she died, a long time after, in Ulster.  But the longer version states that she was sorry for the killing of her husband, and that she is “rescued” on the way back to Maedbh’s court.  Flidhais “returns to the west” (i.e. the Otherworld lands from whence she came) along with her fabulous Maol Flidais.

Proinsias MacCana, in his “Celtic Mythology”, only briefly refers to this Lady as the Irish Goddess “who ruled over the beasts of the forests and whose cattle were the wild deer”.  Alwyn and Brinley Rees make no discernible mention of her at all, but the popular fictional writer Caiseal Mór does bring her name into his “Well Spring Trilogy” as a Goddess of the Hunt.  Dáithí Ó hÓgáin makes correlations between the more recent Mayo folk story of Dónall Dualbhuí and Muinchinn to the tale of Flidhais and her maligned husband, Feargus still being cast as the warrior who defeats him by treacherous means.  He says her name was likely to have originally referred to liquid, most particularly to milk, and that her epithet of Foltchaoin (pron. Fult-queen) means ‘soft-haired’.

There are accounts of Flidhais from the earlier Mythological cycle, which place her as the mother of a king, Nia Seaghamain, whose name has been translated to mean ‘warrior of deer-treasure’, as during his reign the “cows and does were milked together every day”.  It was his mother with her herd of both wild and domesticated animals, deer and cattle, who had made this benefit of the king’s reign possible.  Dáithí Ó hÓgáin goes on to deem her to be an original mother-Goddess figure.

From a modern magical perspective, Flidhais can be seen to be  primarily concerned with, or representative of, the following:

  • Provision of sustenance.
  • The flow of milk – breastfeeding, lactation generally.
  • Sexual appetite and satisfaction.
  • Cattle; farming, keeping, tending of herds.
  • Co-operation with wilder animals, especially Deer.

 


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Part 7 – Aengus Óg – Who’s Who of Irish Mythology Series

Who's Who of Irish Mythology

Part 7 – Aengus Óg

I found a Book Proposal from 13 years ago, that I had agreed to write before life took a different turn for me – a ‘Who’s Who of Irish Mythology & How to Work with Them’.

I may or may not turn it into a book at some stage…?! But for now it may as well be out in world as sitting on my computer.

WARNING: It’s an unedited old photo of my thoughts and practice 13 years ago. So, be aware.

 

[Check Part 6 Here…]

 

 

Aengus Óg

Placement ~ Mythological Cycle

Pronunciation: Eng-guss Owe-g.  Also called Aongus, Aonghus, Aenghus, Oengus, Mac Óg, Mac Óc, Mac Ind Óg, Mac in Dá Óc.

 

Known as Young Aengus, he is often spoken of as a God of love and youthful pleasures.  Daragh Smyth referred to him as the “greatest and wisest of magicians of the Tuatha De Danaan”.

His name has been translated in many ways.  Aengus means ‘true vigour’, this is generally agreed upon.  But the ‘Mac ind Óg’ part, though often translated to mean ‘son of the two young ones’, would be grammatically incorrect as such.  Dáithí Ó hÓgáin states it is accepted that the original form of this name would actually be ‘maccan óc’ or ‘in mac óc’, which instead puts him as ‘the young boy’.  There are many tales that survive that illustrate Aengus as a youthful expression of Irish deity.

His conception and birth story is an obvious example.  From a 9th century text we learn that the Dagda is his father, having desired his mother, Bóann, Goddess of the river Boyne in county Meath, and wife of Nuada (later known as Ealcmhar).  Brugh na Bóinne (pron. Broo nah Boy-nah, which we know as Newgrange) was their home.  The Dagda was king of all Ireland then, and he sent Nuada away on a journey.  He then magically stopped time, making the night disappear and Nuada feel no hunger or thirst.  The Dagda lay with Bóann, nine months went by, and she bore him a son – after which Nuada returned, not having noticed the passage of time and remaining in the dark (so to speak) about what had happened.  His mother named him Mac Óg, as she said “young is the son who was begotten at the beginning of a day and born between that and evening”.  Aengus was fostered and reared until he was 9 years old by Midhir at the otherworldly rath of Brí Léith (now known as Slieve Golry and located on Ardagh Hill, in County Longford).  He became a champion hurler in that time, but during a quarrel on the field one day, another player told him that Midhir wasn’t his real father; actually he called him a hireling whose parentage was unknown.  Aren’t kids lovely?!  This set Aengus off on a mission to find and secure his true heritage.  He was advised by Midhir (whose name may have originally meant something like ‘judge’) as to who his real parents were and where his inheritance lay, and proceeded to meet with the Dagda at Uisneach, in County Westmeath.  In the Book of Leinster the story then runs thus:

Mac Óg asked for his share of land after the Dagda had apportioned all of the Sidhe mounds to the lords of the Tuatha De Danaan.  He was told there was none, for the Dagda had completed the division.  “Then let me be granted”, said the Mac Óg, “a day and a night in thy own dwelling” (Newgrange).  When that time was up and the Dagda asked for his home back, Aengus’ reply was quite cunning.  “It is clear,” he said, “that night and day are the whole world, and it is that which has been given to me”.  In the story ‘The woo-ing of Étaín’, it is given that the dwelling belongs to Nuada, not the Dagda, and the latter advises his son on how to gain possession, notably on Samhain eve, which he does after the day and night similarly on the grounds that “it is in the days and nights that the world is spent”.  Nuada is named as Ealcmhar for this tale, which meant ‘the envious one’.  Although he was given another dwelling as compensation for his loss, I suppose Nuada can’t really be blamed for being a wee bit envious after such trickery.

As far as source material on Aengus Óg goes, we also have a rather interesting text which is called Aislinge Oenguso (pron. Ash-ling Eng-guss, meaning ‘the vision of Aengus’).  The story was given in Revue Celtique III, by E. Muller, and by Francis Shaw in 1934, and goes like this.

Aengus is asleep one night when he sees a beautiful maiden approach, but as he reaches out to touch her, she disappears.  As a year goes by and such visits become a regular occurrence, he pines for the lack of her.  He falls in love with her as she comes to him in his sleep, and plays him music, but he can never reach her nor find out who she is.  As he continues to sicken with longing, his physician approaches his mother for help.  Bóann searches Ireland for a year, but fails to find the maiden, and Aengus continues to waste away.  The Dagda is sent for, and with the help of Bodbh(pron. Bove, a king from the Province of Munster whose knowledge was celebrated through all of Ireland), and another year’s searching, the girl is finally named and located.  The maiden is Caer Iobharmhéith (pron. Care Eevor-vay-th, meaning ‘Yew Berry’), and they find her at Loch Bél Dragan (now known as Lough Muskry, in the Galtee Mountains of County Tipperary) in the midst of a hundred and fifty maidens, each pair linked by silver chain.  They track her back to her father’s home in Connaught, only to discover that he has no power over her, and that she spends alternative years as a maiden and as a swan.  They determine she can be found again at Loch Bél Dragan the following Samhain with a hundred and fifty swans about her.  Unable to recognise her at first in that form, Aengus calls her to him with the promise that he will return to the lake with her, and when she comes he puts his arms around her, and sleeps with her by taking the form of a swan himself.  He then encircles the lake three times in her company, thus fulfilling his promise, and the pair fly off together back to Brugh na Bóinne, where their sweet song puts all who hear it fast asleep for three days.  Caer stays with her lover in his dwelling after that.

Aengus Óg is given as being concerned with love, both his own entanglements and those of other couples, in many sources.  In a story of unfulfilled love, when his intended went with Midhir instead of him, he cast “the blood red nuts of the wood”, his food, down onto the ground in anger.  Clíodhna is said to have loved him, and indeed one tale says she drowns as she goes in search of him.  He lends his horse to an eloping couple, who is said to have been so huge that when they stop for a rest and the horse urinates, it forms Lough Neagh, which is the biggest lake in all of Ireland.  Aengus also appears as the patron and protector of the later Diarmuid, a Fenian warrior, who elopes with the intended bride of Fionn Mac Cumhaill – Gráinne – helping the pair escape their pursuers at least twice when all seems lost.  Eugene O’Curry, writing in 1873, relates how a mediaeval text describes how he forges four of his kisses into four birds “which charmed the young people of Ireland”.

Dáithí Ó hÓgáin attributes his ownership of a “wonderful multi coloured mantle” (which only appears to be a single colour to a man about to die), to the suggestion of the exuberance of youth which lingers about him.  Daragh Smyth puts his role in later medieaval romances as a somewhat wily character down to the possibility that Christian scribes may have found it necessary to belittle such an important and powerful figure.  He also ascribes the survival of Aengus into Irish folklore as a frightener of cattle – as illustrated by Lady Augusta Gregory, who wrote “…every sort of cattle that is used by men would make way in terror before him” in her ‘Collected Works’ – as perhaps due to the fact that his mother is the cow Goddess, Bóann.

To my mind, Aengus Óg does indeed seem to still be concerned with lovers and with guidance of youthful exploits and experiences.  A close friend of mine related to me an experience she had of being spontaneously contacted by him in a time of loneliness and despair.  This is not a girl who is given to flights of fancy or wishful thinking, be sure on that.  During a personal meditation, which took place in her home, in which she was seeking… something – guidance, answers, help perhaps – she experienced the following:

 

I got an image of a man standing in front of me (around where my altar is, I was kneeling in front) and he handed me a white flower, and I just (don’t know why) figured it was Aongus.  But I’d never worked with him or called him or anything before, or thought about it even.  I don’t really know why I thought it was him, I just thought it was, so I figured I should find out some more information.  He wore a tunic I think, but my idea of a vision wouldn’t be as clear as yours.  I remember the flower and the man and the hand handing it to me.  And, I felt comforted.

 

From a modern magical perspective, Aengus Óg can be seen to be  primarily concerned with, or representative of, the following:

  • Search for love, inspiration of love, the comfort of a lovers embrace.
  • Protection and aid for lovers, especially those who find themselves put upon or kept apart by others.
  • Youth, and the rise of the young to replace the old.
  • Perception of time, the importance of a single day.
  • Hope, and comfort, for those who pine or long for companionship.
  • Charm and wit, the intelligence and ‘street smarts’ to make a situation or an opportunity work to your desire or in your favour.

 

If you choose to work with Aengus Óg, or indeed, he chooses to work with you, pay special attention to birds, either physical ones presenting themselves to your notice or those that appear as imagery or visionary visitors.  Depending on what aspect of his help you seek, a lakeside setting might be appropriate.  For general knowledge, you might try to focus in on the image of his kisses as birds, his multi coloured mantle, his huge horse, his relationship with cattle, the swan imagery, or soothing music.  Samhain Eve has figured in relation to him, so this would be an appropriate timing for your work, again depending on what aspects you wish to attune to.  Time wise – the turning of night to day or day to night, the magical span of dawn or dusk, will be potent power points to work with this deity.  The ancient site of Newgrange itself would also be a good place to figure in, or indeed any of the locations mentioned above in connection with Aengus Óg.

 


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Part 6 – Walking Your Path – Who’s Who of Irish Mythology Series

Who's Who of Irish Mythology

Part 6 – An Turas

I found a Book Proposal from 13 years ago, that I had agreed to write before life took a different turn for me – a ‘Who’s Who of Irish Mythology & How to Work with Them’.

I may or may not turn it into a book at some stage…?! But for now it may as well be out in world as sitting on my computer.

WARNING: It’s an unedited old photo of my thoughts and practice 13 years ago. So, be aware.

[Check Part 5 Here…]

Walking Your Own Path

I cannot and would not want to take you step by step along your personal path.

I can only relate what I’ve experienced, what I’ve researched and what I’ve learned.

Then I must leave it up to you, Dear Reader, to explore honestly and with integrity, where your own journey or Turas can take you.

Create your sacred space in whatever way appeals or feels comfortable to you, either in your home or at a special physical place that is appropriate or inspiring to the work in hand.

In doing so you will have formed an intersection between the worlds, an saol sin agus and saol eile, in which you can meet and get to know the Powers with whom you wish to work.

When you are finished, thank and say goodbye to anything or any Being you have called on, and also to the Spirits of Place – Spioraid na hÁite (pron. Spirrid nah Hawt-ya).

Leave offerings of bread, beer, milk, honey, or whatever is appropriate to the Powers and the place – but ONLY leave offerings that are fully and quickly biodegradable.

If you have nothing that will break down or be consumed completely within a day or two, then spit on the ground or wind a strand of your hair to a tree as an offering and a sacrifice from your person.

Seriously folks, if I see another plastic bag or sweet wrapper, not to mention the torn umbrellas, bits of shattered glass, and baby’s bibs others have reported, tied to a tree or otherwise left at a sacred site, I may just have to scream.

What do these people think this will achieve, other than pissing off the Powers?!

If you walk a spiral path as you create your space, then un-walk it as you deconstruct, and generally clear and tidy all remnants of your presence (both physical and subtle) before you leave or finish up your working.

As the primary aim of this book (and all of my work) is to facilitate and aid you in the forming of relationships with the Powers of Ireland, and there’s none of us getting any younger, it’s probably time to get on with doing just that.

Some of the Gods and Goddesses, or mythical figures, you will have heard of or perhaps worked with, and some you may be meeting for the first time.

But they are all interested in seeing how the journey goes.

So let’s meet them.


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