Celtic Myth Show News

Bringing the Tales and Stories of the Ancient Celts to your Fireside

Category: Folklore (Page 1 of 4)

Brigid’s Blessings on the Celtic Fire Festival of Imbolc

On Imbolc Eve Irish and Scottish women would clean and prepare their household for Brigid’s blessings during the night. Brigid was said to visit virtuous households and bring Imbolc blessings to the inhabitants. In some places in Ireland and Scotland it was a tradition to open all the doors and windows in the home and for the women of the house to stand at the threshold in order to recieve Brigid’s blessings. After being invited into the house a bed would often be made for her, and a wand or stick laid on the bed or close by.

Imbolc is dedicated to Saint Brigid; a major figure in the early Irish Church who predates the Saint to a pan-celtic pagan goddess of the same name. The festival which celebrates winter’s end, the onset of spring, and the start of the agricutural year is thought to be linked with Brigid in her role as a fertility goddess.

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Imbolc Folklore, Rites and Traditions

Imbolc (Imbolg) the festival marking the beginning of spring has been celebrated since ancient times and the Imbolc folklore that has developed over the years is fascinating. It is a Cross Quarter Day, midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It can fall between the 2nd & 7th of February when calculated as the mid point between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox.

Cross quarter days were traditionally when leasehold payments and rents for land and premises were paid, and on these days people had a little more freedom to celebrate and mark the changing seasons.

In some places in Ireland and Scotland, all work ceased on the feast and devotions at holy wells took place instead.

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Welsh Traditions and Folklore

Welsh Costume - Welsh Traditions

Welsh Traditional Costume

Wales is a country steeped in tradition. Even the Methodist revival in the 18th century, whose stern Puritanism banished the ancient Celtic traditions, was unable to stamp out all remains of their traditions.

Today the old tales are kept alive by the Welsh speakers. There are an estimated 600,000 of them and the numbers are increasing. Traditional Welsh culture has been kept alive by the popularity of the Royal National Eisteddfod, a ceremonial gathering of musicians, poets and craftsmen.

In the late 19th century children were not encouraged to speak Welsh in school. If they did so, they were punished by having a piece of wood called a ‘Welsh Not’ hung around their neck.

Love Spoons – historic Welsh Tradition

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Manx Litfest 2016 celebrates Celtic Stories, Myths and Fairy Tales

Manx Litfest 2016Celtic literature will be celebrated with a night of storytelling, myths and fairy tales at Peel Masonic Club on Saturday, October 1 reports isleofman.com. The festival is striving to develop a strong Celtic influence through each Litfest, and this year, they welcome two fine Celtic writers to the festival, Dr. Sharon Blackie and Kevin MacNeil. The event – Celtic Stories, Myths and Fairy Tales – is part of Manx Litfest 2016 and is being sponsored by Isle of Man satellite firm ManSat Ltd.

It will feature visiting Celtic authors Dr Sharon Blackie and Kevin MacNeil, in conversation with lecturer Dr Catriona Mackie, along with readings of myths and poetry, with some live Celtic music for good measure.

The night marks an initiative by Manx Litfest to develop a Celtic theme within each festival. Other events within the six-day Litfest, which gets underway on Tuesday, September 27, include a talk on the life and writing of Sophia Morrison (2.00pm – House of Manannan – Thursday, September 29), a writing workshop being run by Sharon (now sold out) and an event on the afternoon of Friday, September 30 when Sharon will talk about her new book, If Women Rose Rooted (2.30pm at St John’s Mill).

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Salt and Bread

The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

Sin Eater - The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

Sin-Eater

The Tradition Of The Sin-Eater

In 18th, 19th and 20th Century Scotland, England, and some Welsh communities, families placed a piece of bread on the breasts of their recently passed loved ones.

That’s not the strange part — the families then hired someone to eat the bread, believing that the practice would somehow absolve the sins of the deceased.

Where did this strange ritual come from? 

Eating food at a funeral (or shortly thereafter) is not uncommon — large family dinners often follow the death of a loved one, while drinking has been a cornerstone of wakes for centuries.

Wake - The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

 Funeral Wake

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Daoine Sidhe - Irish Sidhe: Their Kin and Folklore

Irish Sidhe: Their Kin and Folklore

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.

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Cantre'r Gwaelod - the Sunken Land or Lowland Hundred

4,000 year-old Deer antlers found off Welsh coast

A dear friend of ours pointed us to a discovery made during the Spring this year of a set of 4,000 year-old Red Deer antlers on a beach in Borth, Ceredigion in Wales. Recent storms have revealed a whole new section of the Sunken Lands in Cardigan Bay. From 5,000 year-old trees whose stumps have been preserved by the peat, to parts of a wattle walkway made of branches, sticks or logs that must have enabled people to cross the wet ground easily. Now a huge set of antlers, identified as belonging to a Red Deer, have been found found under 1 metre of water.

There’s an ancient folk tale about Cantre’r Gwaelod, or the Sunken Hundred, which was once a fertile land and township before it was lost beneath waves. It is believed that the land extended nearly 20 miles west of Cardigan Bay, but Cantre’r Gwaelod was lost to floods when, apparently, Mererid, the priestess of a fairy well had neglected her duties, resulting in the well overflowing.

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The Mythology of the Green Man and the Green Knight

The Significance of Green

Green has been known for untold ages as the colour of the fairy. Green was so universally recognised, as the colour of the fairy that many in Scotland refused to wear it as to do so would be to invite the anger of the fairy folk. “Greenies” and “greencoaties” were common euphemisms used in Britain for the fairy.

Green was a colour shunned by many as being associated with evil fairies and witches. But why green? Green is also associated with nature, with ripening life, with fertility and that is the reason.

Green was a colour shunned by many as being associated with evil fairies and witches. But why green? Green is also associated with nature, with ripening life, with fertility and that is the reason.

During the formation of Christianity nature was seen to exist for the pleasure and consumption of man. That nature should exist as an entity unto herself, with powers beyond man’s, was a thought that put fear into many.

Later, nature was viewed as evil and anything associated with nature was seen in a similar way. That green represented the power and fertile life of nature slowly came to be associated with evil, and thus Pagan, forms bent on the torment of mankind.

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Irusan - King of Cats

The King of Cats and Seanchan the Bard

King of the Cats

King of Cats

There is a legend preserved in Ossianic tradition of the encounter between Seanchan, the celebrated chief poet of Ireland, and the King of Cats, who dwelt in a cave near Clonmacnoise.

In ancient Ireland the men of learning were esteemed beyond all other classes; all the great ollaves and professors and poets held the very highest social position, and took precedence of the nobles, and ranked next to royalty.

The leading men amongst them lived luxuriously in the great Bardic House; and when they went abroad through the country they travelled with a train of minor bards, fifty or more, and were entertained and accommodated free of cost by the kings and chiefs, who considered themselves highly honoured by the presence of so distinguished a company at their court.

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Ripe Corn at Lughnasadh Harvest

The Celtic Fire Festival of Lughnasadh

Ripe Corn at Lughnasadh Harvest

Ripe Corn at Harvest

Lughnasadh or Lughnasa (pronounced LOO-nə-sə) Irish: Lúnasa; Scottish Gaelic: Lùnastal; Manx: Luanistyn) is a Celtic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season that was historically observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Traditionally it was held on July 31 – August 1, or approximately halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. Lughnasadh is one of the four Celtic seasonal festivals; along with Samhain, Imbolc, and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals, such as the English Lammas.

Lugh

Lugh

The festival is named after the god Lugh, and involved great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests (most notably the Tailteann Games), feasting, matchmaking, and trading. There were also visits to holy wells.

Lughnasadh customs persisted widely until the twentieth century. The custom of climbing hills and mountains at Lughnasadh has survived in some areas, although it has been re-cast as a Christian pilgrimage. Since the latter twentieth century, Celtic neopagans have observed Lughnasadh, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. In some places, elements of the festival have been revived as a cultural event.

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