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Category: Mythological Cycle (Page 1 of 2)

First Harvest Lugh

Lugh and the Festival of Lughnasadh – “the binding duty of Lugh”

First Harvest Lugh

First Harvest

The great wheel of the year turns again on the evening of July 31st to August 1st, with the Celtic festival of Lughnasadh, “the binding duty of Lugh ” as the last in the cycle of the four seasons of the Celtic world.

This feast marks the beginning of Autumn or Fall, and the harvesting season – crops were harvested in August, fruit in September around the Autumn equinox and meat in October before Samhain/Halloween. The ‘first fruits’ of the harvest were crops.

Lugh Lámhfhada

Lugh Lammas fair Eastbourne

Lammas Fair – Eastbourne

Lughnasadh is named after the Celtic Sun God Lugh, ‘The Bright or Shining One’, God of the Harvest. He also presides over the arts and sciences, and as such he was called Lugh the Il-Dana, ‘Master of All Crafts’, or Samildanach, ‘he of the many gifts’. He was expert smith, craftsman, harpist, poet, sorcerer, physician, chess player and warrior.

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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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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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Scathach from The Feminine in Early Irish Myth and Legend article

The Feminine in Early Irish Myth and Legend


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In early Irish mythology and legend, the feminine is quite dominant in the otherworld as well as on earth.

The land of Ireland and features of its landscape such as mountains, rivers and lakes were frequently associated with goddesses and other supernatural females.

Early Irish deities did not have specialised areas of influence like those of the Greeks and Romans, for instance.

The same Irish goddess could be a young woman or a hag, a mother or a virgin, a warrior or a seductive temptress, depending on the occasion.

In mythology, it was Ériu who gave her name to Ireland but the names of her two sister goddesses Banba and Fodla were also used.

Another trio of sister goddesses were all called Brigid and they were patrons of fertility, healing, smiths and poetry. They presided over a perpetual fire and the spring festival of Imbolc.

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"Dark Angel" from the Ravens in Celtic Mythology article

Ravens in Celtic Mythology


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Ravens figure heavily in Celtic mythology and legend. They were linked to darkness and death – especially the death of warriors in battle. Celtic war goddesses often took the form of a raven. In “The Dream of Rhonabwy”, the knight Owein battles King Arthur in a dream world assisted by ravens. Some tales suggest that the great King Arthur himself was turned in to a raven upon his death.

Rhonabwy is the most literary of the medieval Welsh prose tales. It may have also been the last written. A colophon at the end declares that no one is able to recite the work in full without a book, the level of detail being too much for the memory to handle. The comment suggests it was not popular with storytellers, though this was more likely due to its position as a literary tale rather than a traditional one.

The frame story tells that Madog sends Rhonabwy and two companions to find the prince’s rebellious brother Iorwerth. One night during the pursuit they seek shelter with Heilyn the Red, but find his house filthy and his beds full of fleas. Lying down on a yellow ox-skin, Rhonabwy experiences a vision of Arthur and his time.

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Cauldron - "From Cauldron to Grail in Celtic Mythology"

From Cauldron to Grail in Celtic Mythology


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The transformation from Cauldron to Grail is a theme that occurs throughout Celtic Mythology – from the Cauldrons of the Dagda and Cerridwen to the Holy Grail of King Arthur. In one part of the Mabinogion, which is the cycle of myths found in Welsh legend, Cerridwen brews up a potion in her magical cauldron to give to her son Afagddu (Morfran). She puts young Gwion in charge of guarding the cauldron, but three drops of the brew fall upon his finger, blessing him with the knowledge held within. Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons until, in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesin, the greatest of all the Welsh poets.

The Cauldron of Knowledge

Cerridwen’s magical cauldron held a potion that granted knowledge and inspiration — however, it had to be brewed for a year and a day to reach its potency. Because of her wisdom, Cerridwen is often granted the status of Crone, which in turn equates her with the darker aspect of the Triple Goddess (as envisaged in modern paganism). As a goddess of the Underworld, Cerridwen is often symbolized by a white sow, which represents both her fecundity and fertility and her strength as a mother. She is both the Mother and the Crone; many modern Pagans honour Cerridwen for her close association to the full moon.

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Death-of-Arthur

Is Bardsey Island the mystical Island of Avalon?


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An apple found nowhere else in the world has been discovered growing on a Welsh holy island. The variety of apple – believed to date back to the 13th Century when it was grown by monks – was spotted on remote Bardsey Island.

Wales displays two prominent peninsulas: Llyn in the North and Pembroke in the South. Between them is the broad sweep of Cardigan Bay. Two miles out to sea off the tip of the Llyn Peninsula lies Bardsey Island (Welsh name Ynys Enlli).

Bardsey Island has long been associated with religious activity. Pre-Roman Celts visited the island to pray and often to die on this most western isle as they followed the setting sun. During early Christian times Bardsey Island was a place of pilgrimage. There is a pilgrim’s route along the North Wales coast with a string of churches built along the way. Indeed three trips to Bardsey was considered equal to a pilgrimage to Rome. Anybody buried on Bardsey was guaranteed eternal salvation.

Dr Joan Morgan – one of the world’s leading experts on apples – said the apple was the only one of its variety in the world.

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Brigid from Goddesses and Heroines By Patricia Monaghan


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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 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.

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The Brothers Grimm - "Fairy tales origins are thousands of years old, researchers say"

Fairy tales origins are thousands of years old, researchers say


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Fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast can be traced back thousands of years, according to researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon, reported BBC News

Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.

They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.

The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.

Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

And a folk tale called The Smith And The Devil, about a blacksmith selling his soul in a pact with the Devil in order to gain supernatural abilities, was estimated to go back 6,000 years to the Bronze Age.

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The Dagda’s Cauldron – new Celtic book for December 2015


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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.

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