In 2015, Bangor University received a large donation of rare and valuable Arthurian books from Flintshire County Council. The University reported:
The Irish Sidhe, relatives of Arial and Puck have a weird attractiveness for the student of Irish folklore, for many reasons and especially because the traditions connected with them explain almost all those superstitious peculiarities which are observable among the Irish people.
It is the duty of the poet to express in rhythmical periods the aerial origin of what are sometimes called `those superstitions of the Irish,’ but for us it is only left to place before our readers in round everyday prose some few of the countless happy and poetic traits peculiar to our Irish Sidhe.
Drowned Settlements of Ireland: Lough Neagh
Lough Neagh (Loch nEachach: the lake of Eochaidh or Eachaidh) is the largest freshwater lake in Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
Folklore has it that Lough Neagh, a 29 km long and 18 km wide lake in county Armagh, Northern Ireland, occupies the site of a drowned city and that buildings may sometimes be seen through the water.
According to an old Irish legend, Lough Neagh was formed when Ireland’s legendary giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) scooped up a section of the land to throw at a fleeing Scottish rival that was fleeing Ulster by way of the Giants Causeway. He missed, and the chunk of earth landed in the Irish Sea, thus creating the Isle of Man and Lough Neagh.
A superb Guest post by Irish author Alan Walsh about his fabulous new novel Sour.
My novel, Sour, is a retelling of the old Irish myth, Deirdre of the Sorrows. It takes the old tale and reimagines it in a modern, Irish small town, with the old heroes and characters from all four cycles of Irish mythology recast as bizarre modern locals. Fionn McCumhaill and the Fianna, for example, are a gang of youths, drinking beer and playing video games , who dabble in local matters. Cuchullain is a traveller and retired fighter, bossed by his wife Emer in their small caravan.
The tale is told by a supernatural personage, a Puca, and pretty much every scene is peopled with modern versions of the old characters. Stories like Deirdre’s are treated with a certain kind of reverence here in Ireland. When they’re staged, there’s rarely any experimentation, any fun had or anything new.
They’re still thought of as something very important to what it is to be Irish, perhaps for being something only really reclaimed in the last century with the Country’s republic. I felt, when writing Sour, that there was a huge amount of respect to be paid to the story and that the best way to do that was to recast elements to appeal to a modern readership and look at the eternal themes in a way to appeal to today’s reader; the plight of a young woman in a man’s world, young people trying to assert themselves and emigration, certainly an eternal Irish theme.
We soar into 2016 with a Special News update Show to bring you all the latest News from the Celtic Myth Podshow team (that’s us, Gary & Ruthie!). In this show, you’ll also hear 6 amazing pieces of music and a small reading by Professor Roland Rotherham from his new book, Sacred Falls: Saint Nectan and the Legacy of the Dragon. The Professor is a renowned Arthurian scholar and has appeared on our Show before, We heard him give a lecture about the “Ladies of the Grail” in Special Episode No. 14. You can read all about it and listen to the show again by going to http://celticmythpodshow.com/
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Probably the clearest example of the survival of an early goddess into Christian times is Brigid (pronounced “breed”), the great triple goddess of the Celtic Irish who appeared as Brigantia in England, Bride in Scotland, and Brigandu in Celtic France.
So entrenched was the devotion of the Irish to their goddess that the Christians “converted” her along with her people, calling her Bridget, the human daughter of a Druid, and claiming she was baptized by the great patriarch St. Patrick himself. Bridget took religious vows, the story went on, and was canonized after her death by her adoptive church, which then allowed the saint a curious list of attributes, coincidentally identical to those of the earlier goddess.
The Christian Bridget, for instance, was said to have had the power to appoint the bishops of her area, a strange role for an abbess, made stranger by her requirement that her bishops also be practicing goldsmiths. The ancient Brigid, however, was in one of her three forms the goddess of smithcraft. Brigid also ruled poetry and inspiration, carrying for this purpose a famous cauldron; her third identity was as a goddess of healing and medicine. Not surprisingly, the Christian Bridget was invoked both as a muse and as a healer, continuing the traditions of the goddess.
It was with great pleasure that we heard from one of our dear French friends, an author and Bagpiper, Valéry Raydon, when he let us know that he was going to release a book about the famous Cauldron of the Dagda. It is scheduled for release this Christmas by Terre de Promesse. The author was born in Nimes in 1973 and has a doctorate in Ancient History. As well as being an independent researcher, he is the author of several books of illustrated stories, as well as scientific articles and essays on the relationship between the Celtic and Indo-European Mythologies. Errors and inaccuracies in the following translation are purely mine and not those of the author of the book.
“The Cauldron of the Dagda” is the first major study of its kind
The Irish Druid-God the Dagda’s Cauldron of Abundance has long piqued the curiosity of amateurs, Celtic scholars and even professional academics. The scarcity of original sources, as well as the lateness and Christian overlay of any mythological sources that refer to the Cauldron, have meant that no major study has been devoted so far to its divine attributes and meaning as could have been encountered in Gaelic and pre-Christian religious thought, especially about the theology of the god, the Dagda.
Druidry and the Ancestors is a book that I have read and found to be very stimulating. Nimue takes us very skillfully around what we do actually know about our distant (and recent) ancestors and what we don’t. She ask important questions like how are we affected by the differences between ancestors of Blood and Ancestors of Tradition. This book is well worth a read. We are very proud to feature a Guest Blog by Nimue about her own personal search for meaning in relation to the Ancestors and what prompted her to write this fascinating book. Full details of how to get hold of the book can be found at the end of the article.
Facing the Ancestors by Nimue Brown
I’m not a historian. Back when I was first learning about Druidry, this didn’t seem to matter. I had a vague impression that other people knew. Out there, someone held all the truths and wisdom about the ancient Druids. As I learned more, I would be able to access more of that. I didn’t really feel much need to be the one holding the history, I was more interested in the bard path. But, there was going to be ancient wisdom eventually, wasn’t there?
Somewhere early on in the OBOD course, and reading Ross Nichols’s book on Druidry, the sneaking suspicion started to creep in that there wasn’t. Everything on offer seemed more recent, for a start. I picked up a few history books, and I started really thinking about things. Then eventually I got round to Ronald Hutton’s Blood and Mistletoe. Any lingering illusions that someone, somewhere else still held the wisdom of the ancients, melted away from me. I confess I felt lost and bereft, and reading the book took me into a grieving process. I went through all the anger and denial of normal grief, and eventually found my way round to a place of quiet acceptance.
What we know with any certainty about the activities of the ancient Druids, is very little. There’s plenty we might infer and surmise from various sources, but that’s not the same as knowing. There were Druids, they did…. Something. Probably not what I want them to have done, either.
Once in a Blue Moon a book comes along that truly opens your eyes. Pagan Portals: Irish Paganism by Morgan Daimler and published by Moon Books is just such a book. It is a short book that covers a lot of ground in explaining Irish Reconstructionist Polytheism with one foot firmly planted in solid research and the other in personal spiritual experience. Celtic Reconstructionism (or C.R.) is one of those “hot potatoes” in modern neo-pagan circles with heated arguments and misunderstandings being tossed back and forth with great passion. This book is one of the few books on the subject that faces these issues head-on and stands out as a well-thought out, well-written and cooling breeze that makes the subject clear, vibrant and exciting. As far as we are aware this may be the first introduction and reference work for reconstructing Irish Paganism as a modern day study and practice.
The author, Morgan Daimler, is renowned as both a scholar of Old Irish and the ancient Irish texts as well as a modern priestess and devotee of the Irish Gods. Her relationships with the Morrigan, Brighid and the Sidhe (the Fairy Folk) have lead her to write excellent introductory texts on each (see the links below) and this book is a very informative introduction to the world of Irish Paganism. Morgan Daimler has given us an excellent, honest approach to reconstructing Irish Paganism, dispelling common misconceptions and explaining the path in simple easy-to-read terms.
So What Is Reconstructionism?
In the words of the author: