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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Aislinge Óenguso: Oengus's Dream

 My newest translation project, the text of the "Aislinge Oenguso". This was a fun and interesting text to do, but a bit time consuming. I did make a few changes in the English, choosing to take a looser approach to the literal translations in order to preserve the flow of the story, and keeping all verbs in the past tense. You may also note that in the text the goddess Boínn is referred to with the definitive article as "the Boínn"; this reflects the Irish material where she, like the Dagda, is given the definitive "the" before her name. This convention seems to have been lost in English but is clearly present in the original Irish of the story. 
  As usual I will give the Irish text first (in Sengoidelc) followed by my translation. The Old Irish can be found online here as well.

Aislinge Oenguso
Boí Óengus in n-aidchi n-aili inna chotlud. Co n-accae ní, in n-ingin cucci for crunn síuil dó. Is sí as áilldem ro boí i n-Ére. Luid Óengus do gabáil a l-lámae dia tabairt cucci inna imdai. Co n-accae ní; fo-sceinn úad opunn. Nícon fitir cia árluid h-úad. Boí and co arabárach. Nípo slán laiss a menmae. Do-génai galar n-dó in delb ad-condairc cen a h-accaldaim. Nícon luid biad inna béolu. Boí and do aidchi dano aithirriuch. Co n-accae timpán inna láim as bindem boíe. Sennid céol n- dó. Con-tuil friss. Bíid and co arabárach. Nícon ro-proindig dano arabárach.
    Blíadain lán dó os sí occa aithigid fon séol sin condid corastar i sergg. Nícon epert fri nech. F-a-ceird i sergg íarum ocus ní fitir nech cid ro m-boí. Do-ecmalldar legi Érenn. Nícon fetatar-som cid ro m-boí asendud. Ethae co Fíngen, liaig Conchobuir. Do-tét-side cucci. Ad-gninad-som i n-aigid in duini a n-galar no bíth for ocus ad-gninad din dieid no théiged din tig a l-lín no bíth co n-galar and.
   Atn-gládastar for leith.
   "Ate! nítat béodai do imthechta", ol Fíngen, "Sercc écmaise ro carais." 

   "Ad-rumadar mo galar form", ol Óengus.
   "Do-rochar i n-dochraidi ocus ní rolámar a epirt fri nech", ol Fíngen. 

    "Is fír deit", ol Óengus. "Do-m-ánaic ingen álaind in chrotha as áilldem i n-Ére co n-écusc derscaigthiu. Timpán inna l-láim, conid senned dam cach n-aidchi." 
   "Ní báe", ol Fíngen, "do-rogad duit cairdes frie; ocus foítter úait cossin m-Boinn, cot máthair, co tuidich dot accaldaim."
  Tíagair cuicce. Tic iarum in Boann. "Bíu oc frepaid ind fir-se", ol Fíngen, "d-an-ánaic galar n-ainchis". 

Ad-fíadot a scéla don Boinn.
    "Bíd a freccor céill dia máthair", ol Fíngen. "D-an-ánaic galar n-ainchis; ocus timchelltar h-úait Ériu uile, dús in n-étar h-úait ingen in chrotha so ad-condairc do macc".
 Bíid oc suidiu co cenn m-blíadnae. Nícon frith ní ba chosmail di. Is iar sin con-gairther Fíngen doib aithirriuch. 
"Nícon frith cobair isindísiu", ol Boann. 
As-bert Fíngen: "Foítter cossin n-Dagdae tuidecht do accaldaim a maicc".
    Tíagair cossin n-Dagdae. Ticc-side aithirriuch. "Cid diandom-chomgrad?’"

   "Do airli do maicc", ol in Boann. "Is ferr duit a chobair. Is liach a dul immudu. At-tá i siurgg. Ro car seircc écmaise ocus ní roachar a chobair".
 "Cia torbae mo accaldam?" ol inDagdae. "Ní móo mo éolas in- dáthe-si".
   "Móo écin", ol Fíngen. "Is tú rí síde n-Érenn; ocus tíagar úaib co Bodb, ríg síde Muman, ocus is deilm a éolas la h-Érinn n-uili".
    Ethae co suide. Feraid-side fáilti friu. "Fo chen dúib", ol Bodb, "a muinter in Dagdai". 
   "Is ed do-roachtmar". 
   "Scéla lib?" ol Bodb. 
   "Atáat linni: Óengus macc in Dagdai i siurgg dá blíadnae." 
   "Cid táas?" ol Bodb. 
    "Ad-condairc ingin inna chotlud. Nícon fetammar i n-Ére cia h-airm i tá ind ingen ro char ocus ad-condairc. Timmarnad duit ón Dagdae co comtastar h-úait fond Érinn ingen in chrotha-sa ocus ind écuisc." 
    "Con- díastar", ol Bodb, "ocus étar dál blíadnae friumm co fessur fis scél".
   Do-lluid cinn blíadnae co tech m-Buidb co Síd Ar Femen.
    "To-imchiullus Érinn n-uili co fuar in n-ingen oc Loch Bél Dracon oc Crottaib Cliach", ol Bodb. 
    Tíagair úaidib dochum in Dagdai. Ferthair fáilte friu. "Scéla lib?" ol in Dagdae. 
    "Scéla maithi; fo-fríth ind ingen in chrotha-so as-rubartaid. Timmarnad duit ó Bodb. Táet ass Óengus linni a dochum dús in n-aithgne in n-ingin, conda accathar." 
     Brethae Óengus i carput co m-boí oc Síd Al Femen. Fled mór lassin ríg ara ciunn. Ferthae fáilte friss. Bátar trí láa ocus teora aidchi ocond fleid.
   "Tair ass trá", ol Bodb, "dús in n-aithgne in n-ingin conda aiccther."
  "Ci ad-da-gnoe, ní-s cumcaim-si a tabairt acht ad-n-da-cether namá."
   To-lotar íarum co m-bátar oc Loch. Co n-accatar inna tri cóecta ingen macdacht. Co n-accatar in n-ingin n-etarru. Ní tacmuictis inna h-ingena dí acht coticci a gualainn. Slabrad airgdide eter cach dí ingin. Muince airgdide imma brágait fadisin ocus slabrad di ór forloiscthiu. Is and as-bert Bodb: "In n-aithgén in n-ingen n-ucut?" 
   "Aithgén écin", olÓengus. 
    "Ní-m thá-sa cumacc deit", ol Bodb, "bas móo." 
   "Ní báe són", ol Óengus, "ém; óre as sí ad-condarc; ní cumcub a breith in fecht-so.Cuich ind ingen-sa, a Buidb?" ol Óengus.
   "Ro-fetar écin", ol in Bodb, "Caer Ibormeith, ingen Ethail Anbuail a s-Síd Úamain i crích Connacht".
    Do-comlat ass íarum Óengus ocus a muinter dochum a críche. Téit Bodb laiss co n-árlastar in n-Dagdae ocus in m-Boinn oc Bruig Maicc ind Óicc. Ad-fíadat a scéla doib ad-fídatar doib amail m-boíe eter cruth ocus écoscc amail ad-condarcatar. Ocus ad-fídatar a h-ainm ocus ainm a h-athar ocus a senathar.
   "Ní ségdae dúnn", ol in Dagdae, "ná cumcem do socht." 
   "Aní bad maith duit, a Dagdai", olBodb. "Eircc dochum n-Ailella ocus Medbae ar is leo bíid inna cóiciud ind ingen."
    Téit in Dagdae co m-boí i tírib Connacht, trí fichit carpat a lín. Ferthae fáilte friu lassin ríg ocus in rígnai. Bátar sechtmain láin oc fledugud íar sin im chormann doib. "Cid immu-b-rácht?" ol in rí.
   "At-tá ingen lat-su it ferunn’", ol in Dagdae, "ocus ro-s car mo macc-sa, ocus do-rónad galar dó. Do-dechad-sa cuccuib dús in-da-tartaid don macc." 
   "Cuich?" ol Ailill. 
    "Ingen Ethail Anbuail." 
    "Ní linni a cumacc", ol Ailill ocus Medb. "Dia cuimsimmis do-bérthae dó."
     "Ani for-maith -congairther rí in t-síde cuccuib", ol in Dagdae.
     Téit rechtaire Ailella cucci. "Timmarnad duit ó Ailill ocus Meidb dul dia n-accaldaim".
    "Ní reg-sa", ol sé. "Ní tibér mo ingin do macc in Dagdai". Fásagar co h-Ailill anísin. "Ní étar fair a thuidecht; ro-fitir aní dia con-garar." 
    "Ní báe’, ol Ailill, "do-rega-som ocus do-bértar cenna a laech laiss."
     Íar sin cot-éirig teglach n-Ailella ocus muinter in Dagdai dochum in t-síde. Inrethat a síd n-uile. Do-sm-berattrí fichtea cenn ass ocus in ríg co m-boí i Crúachnaib i n-ergabáil.
Is íarum as-bert Ailill fri h-Ethal n-Anbuail: "tabair do ingin do macc in Dagdai." 
   "Ni cumcaim", ol sé. "Is móo a cumachtae in- dó."
   "Ced cumachtae mór fil lee?" ol Ailill.
    "Ní anse; bíid i n-deilb éuin cach la blíadnai, in m-blíadnai n-aili i n-deilb duini." 
    "Ci-ssí blíadain m-bís i n-deilb éuin?" ol Ailill. 
    "Ní lemm-sa a mrath", ol a h-athair. 
   "Do chenn dít", ol Ailill, "mani-n-écis-ni."
    "Níba sia cucci dam-sa", ol sé. 
     "At-bérsa", ol sé; "is lérithir sin ro-n gabsaid occai. In t-samuin-se as nessam bieid i n-deilb éuin oc Loch Bél Dracon, ocus ad-cichsiter sain-éuin lee and, ocus bieit trí cóecait géise n-impe; ocus at-tá aurgnam lemm-sa doib." 
   "Ni báe lemm-sa iarum," ol in Dagdae, "óre ro-fetar a h-aicned do-s-uc-so".
    Do-gníther íarum cairdes leu .i. Ailill ocus Ethal ocus in Dagdae ocus soírthair Ethal ass. Celebraid in Dagdae doib. Ticc in Dagdae dia thig ocus ad-fét a scéla dia macc. "Eirc immon samuin as nessam co Loch Bél Dracon con-da-garae cuccut dind loch".
    Téit in Macc Óc co m-boí oc Loch Bél Dracon. Co n-accae trí cóecta én find forsind loch cona slabradaib airgdidib co caírchesaib órdaib imma cenna. Boí Óengus i n-deilb doínachta for brú ind locha. Con-gair in n-ingin cucci. "Tair dom accaldaim, a Chaer." 
    "Cia do-m-gair?" ol Caer. "Cotot-gair Óengus." 
    "Regait diandom fhoíme ar th' inchaib co tís a l-loch mofhrithisi." 
     "Fo-t-sisiur", ol sé.
      Téiti cucci. Fo-ceird-sium dí láim forrae. Con-tuilet i n-deilb dá géise co timchellsat a l-loch fo thrí conná bed ní bad meth n-enech dó-som. To-comlat ass i n-deilb dá én find co m-batar ocin Bruig Maicc in Óicc, ocus chechnatar cocetal cíuil co corastar inna dóini i súan trí láa ocus teora n-aidche. Anais laiss ind ingen íar sin.
    Is de sin ro boí cairdes in Maicc Óic ocus Ailella ocus Medbae. Is de sin do-cuaid Óengus, tricha cét, co Ailill ocus Meidb do tháin inna m-bó a Cúailnge.
    Conid ‘De Aislingiu Óenguso maicc in Dagdai’ ainm in scéuil sin isin Táin Bó Cúailnge. 

  (Shaw, 1934)


 Oengus's Dream

     Óengus was sleeping when he saw a desirable thing. He saw something, the girl appearing to him while he was in bed, and she the most desirable in Ireland. Óengus went to seize her hand to take her to him in his bed. Then he saw nothing; he jumped up from surprise. He did not know what she has flown from. He was there until the next day. Not healthy was he because of his thoughts. He became sick from seeking the figure he wanted to speak to. He did not take food in his mouth. M
oreover he saw her at night again. He saw her with a timpán in her hand that was melodious. She played music on it, to him, there with him until the next day. However she was not with him before his first meal the next day.
    A full year thus while she visited about his bed there so that he fell into a wasting sickness. He did not tell anyone. He exhibited a wasting sickness later and there was no one who knew what was with him. The healers of Ireland gathered together. They did not know what ailed him in the end. One was sent to Fíngen, healer of Conchobuir. He went towards him. He discovered in studying the man the sickness or wound on him and he discovered from the smoke or people going from the house there was a sickness there.
   He addressed him apart.
   "Indeed! Not active are your wanderings", said Fíngen, "You greatly love an absent beloved." 

   "You have judged my sickness on me", said Óengus.
   "Falling in this unseemliness and greatly burdened you told no one", said Fíngen. 

    "It's truth to you*", said Óengus. "A beautiful maiden comes in the most desirable form in Ireland with an excellent appearance. A timpán in her hand, playing for me each night." 
   "No matter", said Fíngen, "Friendship for her was chosen to you; and let you send for the Boínn, your mother, to come to speak to you."
  Someone was sent to her. Then came the Boínn. 

"I am healing this man", said Fíngen, "to whom came a serious sickness". 
Then they told the story to the Boínn.
    "Now will his attending be by his mother", said Fíngen. "To him came a serious sickness; and you must travel around all Ireland, to see if you can obtain a maiden in the form seen by your son".
 She did this until the end of a year. Nothing was found similar to her. After that Fíngen gathered them together. 
   "Nothing of help in this matter was found", said Boínn. 
   Fíngen spoke: "Send someone to the Daghda that he may help his son".
    Someone was sent to the Daghda. Then came the aforementioned. "Why have I been called?’"

   "To advise your son", said the Boínn. "It is better to you to help him. His manner is sorrowful. He is in a wasting sickness. He loves an absent love and no help has been reached".
   "What use calling me?" said the Daghda. "Not greater my knowledge than yours".
   "Greater certainly", said Fíngen. "You are the king of the sidhe* of Ireland; and  let someone go from you to Bodb, king of the sídhe of Muman, and the fame of his knowledge is in all Ireland".
    Someone is sent. He welcomes them. "A nod to you*", said Bodb, "people of the Daghda". 
   "It is reached". 
   "What story with you?" said Bodb. 
   "This way with us: Óengus son of the Daghda in a wasting sickness for two years." 
   "How is this?" said Bodb. 
    "He saw a maiden in his sleep. We do not know in Ireland where is the maiden who he loved and saw. You are ordered by the Daghda to seek through Ireland a maiden in this form and this likeness." 
    "It will be searched", said Bodb, "and obtain for me a meeting at the end of a year to know the story".
   He came after a year to the house of Bodb at Síd Al Femen.
    "I made a circuit of all Ireland until I found the maiden at Loch Bél Dracon at Crottaib Cliach", said Bodb. 
    Someone was sent by them to the Daghda. They were welcomed by them. "News with you?" said the Daghda.
    "Good news; the girl of this appearance that you sought is found. You have been summoned by Bodb. Bring out Óengus with us to see if he recognizes the maiden, when he sees her."
    Óengus was carried in a chariot until he was at Síd Al Femen. A great feast was for them with the king at the head. He was welcomed. They were three days and three nights at the feast.
   "Come out of it then", said Bodb, "to see if you recognize the maiden when you see her. Who you may recognize, no power have I to give her to you except you may see her only."
   They came later until they were at the Loch. They saw there girls of marriageable age in three groups of fifty. They saw the maiden among them. The girls didn't reach only as far as her shoulders. A silver chain was between each two girls. A silver collar around her throat itself and a chain of gold shining on her. And there spoke Bodb: "Do you recognize the maiden yonder?" 
   "I recognize her certainly", said Óengus. 
    "I have no more power for you", said Bodb, "a great measure." 
   "That is no matter", said Óengus, "indeed; because it is she I saw; I have no power to bring her forth on the journey. Who is the maiden, oh Bodb?" said Óengus.
   "I know certainly", said Bodb, "Caer Ibormeith, daughter of Ethail Anbuail from Sídhe Úamain in the district of Connacht".
    Óengus and his people departed then to the region. He brought Bodb with him to speak to the Daghda and the Boínn at Bruig Maicc ind Óicc*. He told his story to them relating to them her form between shape and appearance as they had seen. And told her name and her father's name and her grandfather.
   "Not fortunate to us", said the Daghda, "no control have we over your gloom." 
   "There is some good to you, oh Daghda", said Bodb. "Go to Ailill and Medb because the maiden is near them in their region."
    the Daghda  goes so he is in the land of Connacht, three twenties [60] of chariots in his company. Welcome was given to them by the king and queen. They were a complete week drinking and feasting  after that there with them. 

   "Why have you come?" said the king.
   "There is a maiden in your country’", said the Daghda, "and my son has loved her, and been in a sickness. We have come hence to find out if you can give her to our son." 
   "Who?" said Ailill. 
    "The daughter of Ethail Anbuail." 
    "The power is not with us", said Ailill and Medb. "If we were able to we would obtain her for him."
     "It is best to call the king of the sídhe to you", said the Dagda.
     Ailill's steward goes to him. "A command to you from Ailill and Medb to go speak with them".
    "I will not go", he says. "I will not give my daughter to the Dagda's son". 
     Notice was given to Ailill of this. "Not great his arrival; he knows why he was commanded" 
    "No matter", said Ailill, "He will go and the heads of his warriors will be brought with him."
     Then arose  Ailill's household and the people of the Daghda to go to the sídhe. They laid waste to the entire sídhe. They carried off three-twenties [60] of heads out of it and the king with them to Crúachan in captivity.
   Afterward Ailill said to Ethal n-Anbuail: "Give your daughter to the Dagda's son." 
   "I have not the power", said he. "Her power is greater than mine."
   "What greater power is with her?" said Ailill.
    "Not hard; she is in the form of a bird each other year, in the second year in the form of a person." 
    "What year is she in the form of a bird?" said Ailill. 
    "She will not be betrayed by me", said her father. 
   "Your head from you", said Ailill, "Unless you tell us."
    "I will no longer hold it with me", he said. "I will tell", he said; "you are diligently engaged in seeking her. The Samhain near this she will be in the form of a bird at Loch Bél Dracon, You will see special birds with her there and there will be three fifties (150) of swans about her; and I have feasting preparations with me for them." 
   "No matter to me then" said the Daghda, "because you know her essence you can fulfill this".
    Later a friendship was made by them, that is Ailill and Ethal and the Daghda, and a surety was given to Ethal. The Daghda took his leave of them. The Daghda
 went to his house and related the story to his son. "Go around Samhain near to Loch Bél Dracon and you can call to her from the lake".
    The Macc Óc went there by Loch Bél Dracon. He saw three fifties (150) of white birds on the lake with silver chains with golden ringlets on their heads. Óengus was in the form of a person by the edge of the lake. He called the maiden towards him "Come and speak to me, oh Chaer." 
    "Who calls to me?" said Caer. 
    "Óengus calls to you." 
    "Give your word on your reputation I may return back to the lake." 
     "I accept", said he.
      She went towards him. He put two arms on her. They slept in the form of two swans and then surrounding the lake for three rounds so there was no failure of his honor to him. They went out in the form of two white birds until they were at Bruig Maicc in Óicc, and singing a song musically threw the people into a magical sleep for three days and three nights. The maiden abided with him there afterwards.
    Then there was friendship between the Maicc Óic and Ailill and Medb. This is the explanation of Óengus's thirty hundred [3,000], with Ailill and Medb at the cattle raid of Cúailnge.
    So that ‘The Dream of Oengus son of the Daghda’ is the  name of this story in the Táin Bó Cúailnge


*more colloquially "you are right"
*sidhe, later sí, ie fairy hills or fairies
*fo chen, seems to be an idiomatic expression, similar to mo chen, indicating a nod or bow, probably a welcome or greeting. 
*Bruig Maicc ind Oicc - Newgrange


Copyright Morgan Daimler

Monday, June 15, 2015

Morrigan's Call Retreat 2015

A ritual honoring Badb at the Retreat


   I have just returned from the second annual Morrigan's Call Retreat and once again find myself sitting here trying to put into words an experience that is really impossible to describe. Last year the Retreat was new and smaller, fewer people, a wild and otherworldly location, and the energy of the entire weekend was a challenge to step up and answer Her call. This year was very different: more people, a new location that had more of civilization to it, and an energy that was not about hearing Her call as much as about reclaiming ourselves and our own power in this world.
   Some things did remain the same throughout. We saw an amazing mix of people from every possible background, witch and Wiccan, Druid and CR, Avalonion and eclectic, coming together to honor Her with one voice. We saw the same sense of kinship across lines that normally sharply divide, created by the common ground of a shared respect for the Great Queens. And we saw the same spirit of community ensuring that people were taken care of, that jobs were done, that when the unexpected happened there was always someone there to step up and make sure it was covered. Oh, it was far from perfect, and there was frustration and displeasure and things that went entirely off the plan but somehow the diverse strands were woven together anyway.
   The first day, as always, was the most chaotic, with people arriving and settling in, the Temple being set up through community effort and donations of material and sacred items (for the duration of the event). There were several great classes the first afternoon that I would have loved to attend, but I was teaching a workshop myself and then participating in the ritual. All of the ritual's at the Retreat are part of a larger arc, first cleansing, then challenging, then blessing; participants face the three Morrigna one at a time and, if circumstances are right and the priestess is able, may face Her in truth as She is channeled, aspected, or otherwise chooses to appear during ritual. The first night's ritual was dedicated to Badb and was very much about releasing and washing away what need to be let go of. The ritual itself was done next to a river and due to unanticipated circumstances started after dark with only a single fire at the center of the ritual space to illuminate the area. I cannot speak for the people who attended but I found it both a test of our commitment to Her and a very sacred experience.
the main altar in the temple

  The second day began on very little sleep and with a packed schedule ahead. I had two workshops during the day to teach and a second ritual to help with. My first workshop was directly after breakfast and was on the topic of Macha in mythology, always a fun subject. I was able to attend only one workshop all weekend and that was Jhenah Telyndru's class on Morgan and Avalon, but I enjoyed it and learned a new method of meditation called embodiment that I look forward to doing more with. I co-taught a workshop on grounding, centering, and shielding with Mayra Rickey and Melody Legaspi-Seils which I think went very well. Throughout the day I had many great random discussions with people and I both reconnected with old friends and made new ones. The second ritual was for Macha, and was - not surprisingly - the one I anticipated the most since she is the Goddess I am dedicated to. It focused on the theme of facing Her blade and declaring what you would fight for in life. One of my tasks as Her priestess is to carry Her sword in this ritual, and I am always honored to do it.
  After ritual there was a community feast and concert by Mama Gina, who is an amazing storyteller and singer that truly, I think, deserves the title of bard. Hearing her perform her song "Ruby" live raised the hair on my arms; its so much more evocative live than recorded (although that is still worth hearing too). There seemed to be a nice feeling of conviviality among everyone as we shared food and great music together. The cake that the caterer, Dawn DeMeo, had prepared for the feast was beyond amazing, and I must add that she made a second smaller cake for those of us who couldn't have the gluten/regular flour version which was equally amazing. (And yes, for anyone wondering, the first pieces went as offerings, to be sure that the Gods and spirits shared the feast too).

The epic cake from the feast
   The third day began with breakfast and a panel discussion on honoring the Morrigan, during which I hope I didn't talk too much. It's a subject I have so much passion about that I'm afraid I can't help but want to talk about it a lot. I know my fellow panelists are amazing people, and I loved the diversity of experience and opinion that we brought to it. There was a charity raffle for the Wounded Warrior Project. The raffle draw was great fun and people really seemed to enjoy it. I had donated a book or two and Wouldn't you know the one time my ticket was called it was for my own book? (They let me substitute a different item, but it was quite funny).
   Afterwards I had to prep for the final ritual, dedicated to Morrigan as Anu and to people reclaiming their sovereignty. In the ritual people were asked to come forward and place their hands on a stone, representing the stone of sovereignty, and to say out loud if they were ready to reclaim their power. This was meant to be a simple act but as sometimes happens it became a bit more complex. Everyone also received a small rough ruby as a symbol of having gone through the three rituals and claimed a place - symbolic, literal, or however each person chooses to incorporate it - as one of Her ravens. For that, truly is not for us to decide but for the individual to find meaning in, based in how the rituals effected them personally.
    In each ritual I did my best to serve Her, and Them, and my community. I wore a small silver pendant, of the type that people keep ashes in to commemorate loved ones; this pendant carries clay from Uaimh na gCat, the Cave of Cats, from Cruachan. The earth was a gift from a friend who visited there long ago, and carefully kept the wet clay that coated her clothing when she came out, saving it as it dried. I felt that having soil from her sacred place present at the rituals was significant for helping to have Her present as we called Her in to a new place. One of Her other priestesses, dedicated to Badb, bled into the river as the river took its due before the first ritual, and in the first Her people called her with chants and shouts and screams. And I truly believe she answered with Her presence.
   I received some personal messages through various means throughout the weekend, through an amazing Avalonian priestess and through omens and portents, messages of empowerment and of affirmation. It will not be easy to move forward in the strength other people are telling me I have, or that I know she wants for me but I will try. I will try.
    The Morrigan's Call Retreat was once again an amazing experience. I will never cease to be amazed at seeing so many people from so many backgrounds and who follow such different paths coming together in fellowship. Knowing that we can overcome these differences to come together and honor the same Goddesses without argument or judgment gives me such hope. And the irony that a Goddess of War can inspire such unity and fellowship among Her followers is beautiful and joyous and somehow entirely appropriate.
The river


Copyright Morgan Daimler

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Preconceived Notions and Being a Goth Pagan

  I've been thinking lately about stereotypes and the way that preconceived notions and expectations shape our larger pagan community. Pervasive buggers, you know, stereotypes creep in where we least expect them. Just when we think we're in a safe place, a place free of preconceived judgments, bam! we run headfirst into one. We all experience this, I think, some of us to greater degrees than others, depending on who we are and what we identify as.
   There is a certain anonymity on the internet. To many people I'm just a name, a collection of words, without features or description. In some cases without even gender*. People who don't know me in person or who don't know me well may, and sometimes do, have very specific notions of who I am or what they envision me as. This preconceived image is sometimes very far from reality. How would you picture me, if you don't know me? You might be quite surprised by the reality. I rather imagine the same is true for most of us.
    This can become a shield, a place to hide where our true identity is not shown especially when we know that Self will draw criticism or ridicule. People can create entirely new identities, make themselves into what they wish they were rather than what they are. It can allow us to interact with people who might otherwise never speak to us based on real life qualities, such as dress or appearance. The anonymity of the internet not only allows us to create our persona for others, if we choose to, but it also can make us a blank slate to others which they then imagine as they see fit.
    It can also, conversely, encourage people to express their prejudices without realizing they are speaking directly to someone in the group they are mocking. As part of several subcultures and marginalized groups I've gotten used to it, although it does still occasionally bother me. I've lost track of how often I've seen people within the wider pagan community making off-hand comments that belittle or make fun of groups I belong to. Words are weapons, and casual words can be far more painful than intended.
   I am Goth and I am pagan. I have been pagan for a few years longer than I've been Goth, and one has nothing directly to do with the other, but both are important aspects of my life. Both are part of who I am.
  I have been told, years ago, by someone I respected very much at the time that I need to stop dressing like a stereotypical witch because it made all witches look less respectable.
  I have been told that people like me are why others don't want to call themselves pagan.
  I have been told that when I get a bit more experience or have been pagan for longer** I'll outgrow wanting to wear black
  I have been told that it's sad that I want attention so bad I'm willing to play into the stereotype.
  I have been told that no one will take me seriously as long I keep dressing Goth.
  I have been told that I must be a Satanist, not a pagan, or I wouldn't dress that way.
  And on and on and on.
  There seems to be an assumption that if you are Goth and pagan you must be a newbie, and seeking attention, and not very serious, and confused, and melodramatic. Goth pagans are rarely taken seriously in my experience and are very often criticized, even publicly shamed, for their perceived insincerity, youth, inexperience, and negative reflection on the rest of pagandom.
  Let's be clear here. Goth is a subculture based in a variety of things including fashion, music and a certain macabre aesthetic. It reflects what I like and what I am comfortable with. Paganism (Irish Reconstructionism and witchcraft) is my religion. It reflects a certain worldview, cosmology and core set of beliefs. The two, subculture and religion, are not at odds and I have found they go well enough together in my life. Why my fashion choices and taste in music bother some of my coreligionists so much kind of baffles me, but I think its only fair if I can accept pagans who like Country music and denim, or Pop music and tube tops, then my personal tastes can be accepted or at least ignored.

   I'm proud of who I am, and I think I shouldn't be judged on my appearance, anymore than anyone else should be. I also think that the idea of paganism being accepted by the mainstream if we all just dress and act like the mainstream is a dangerous myth. Not only does it encourage us to try to enforce homogeneity within paganism which destroys our beautiful diversity, but it sells us a false hope that if only we act normal enough we can be treated just like the religious majority. Not because we have equal rights, not because we deserve equal treatment, but because we fit in so well that they like us enough to give us what we deserve. Think about that for a minute. Really think about it - do you want equal treatment because its owed to you, or because the powerful people decide they feel like doling it out like a table scrap?
   Sometimes generalizing is necessary, but its worth considering that if you don't personally belong to a subculture it may be unwise to think you can pass judgment on that subculture. So many of the hurtful things that I see being said are rooted in ignorance and misunderstandings that could be avoided with a bit of open-mindedness and a willingness to listen. It is also worth keeping in mind that sometimes the person who most looks like you expect a certain "type" of person to look may in fact be the least like your expectation.
  It is worth remembering when we find another person's ways confusing, as Neitzsche said "You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

* I have been mistaken for male on multiple occasions in discussion groups and on email lists, because of my name.
** I've been pagan since 1991 and Goth since around '94-ish. At this point I think its safe to say I'm not going to outgrow either.

Copyright Morgan Daimler

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Another look at Fedelm in Different Recensions

For fun and to show the difference that can occur between translations I wanted to expand on yesterday's blog and offer the description of Fedelm from two recensions of the the Táin Bó Cúailnge, the first from the Book of the Dun Cow and the second from the Book of Leinster. You'll see some similarities and also some significant differences between the two:

In tan didiu dosoí an t-ara forsin carpat ocus lotair do thecht ass co n-accatár in n-ingin macdacht remib. Folt buidi furri. Bratt brecc impe, delg n-óir and. Léine chulpatach co n-derggintslaid impe. Dá assa co foraib óir impu. Agad fochóel forlethan. Dí broí duba dorchaidi. Abrait duib dáin co m-bentaís foscod i m-medón a dá grúaide. Indar latt ropo di partaing imdéntai a beóil. Indar lat ba fross do némannaib boí inna bélaib .i. a fíaclai. Teóra trillsi fuirri .i. dí thriliss immo cend súas, trilis tara h-aiss síar co m-benad a dá colptha inna díaid. Claideb corthaire do findruine inna láim, esnaid óir and. Trí meic imlisse cechtar a dá súla.  Gaisced lasin n-ingin & dá ech duba foa carput.’
 - Táin Bó Cúailnge, Recension 1, Lebor na hUidre, 11th/12th century O'Rahilly (1976)

Then when  the charioteer turns the chariot back and had gone they saw the girl of marriageable age before them. Yellow hair on her.  A speckled cloak on her, red-gold there. A hooded tunic [léine*] with red-embroidery about her. Two shoes with gold on them. Her face slender below, broad above. Two heavy dark black eyelashes, delicate they look, which cast a shadow in the middle of her two cheeks. You would think fresh crimson adorns her mouth. You would think there were pearls there behind her lips, that is her teeth. Three plaits of hair with her that is two plaits about her head upwards, a plait covering her back down shadowing her calves to the end. A weaving beam of fine-brass in her right hand, inset with gold. Three pupils in each of her two eyes. Weapons with the girl and two black horses under her chariot.

Impáis in t-ara in carpat ocus dothaét Medb for cúlu, co n-accai ní rap ingnad lé, .i. in n-aenmnái for fertais in charpait na farrad ina dochum. Is amlaid bói ind ingen: ic figi corrthairi ocus claideb findruini ina láim deiss cona secht n-aslib do dergór ina dessaib; bratt ballabrecc uani impi; bretnas torrach trencend sin brutt osa brunni; gnúis chorcra chrumainech lé; rosc glass gairectach le; beóil derga thanaide; dét niamda nemanda, andar let batar frossa findnémand erctais ina cend; cosmail do nuapartaing a beóil; binnidir téta mendchrot aca seinm allámaib sirshúad bindfogur a gotha ocus a cáinurlabra; gilidir snechta sniged fri oenaidchi taidlech a cniss ocus a colla sech a timthach sechtair; traigthi seta sithgela, ingni corcra córi cruindgéra lé; folt findbudi fata forórda furri; teora trillsi da fult imma cend, trilis aile co m-benad foscad fri colptha.
Táin Bó Cúailnge, Recension 2, Book of Leinster version, 12th century, Windisch (1905.) 

The charioteer turned the chariot and suddenly at Medb's back, she saw something, a person unusual to her, that is the single girl at a shaft of the chariot beside the company. And thus is the girl: besides weaving fringe and a sword of fine brass in her right hand, seven sword-ornaments of red-gold well arranged on it; a speckled-spotted green cloak on her; a brooch rounded, strong-covered there on her cloak and chest; a face red, rich-blooded with her; eyes green and laughing with her; a subtle red mouth; brilliant pearl-like teeth, you would think they were white-pearls showering abundantly from her head; similar to fresh scarlet were her lips; melodious strings of a lyre being played by a master, long lasting, sweet-sounding her voice and her enchanting speech; bright as falling snow from a single night was her shining skin and her body that was beyond her garment; feet slender long and fair, nails dark red, well-proportioned, round and neat with her; hair light-yellow, long, and golden on her; three plaits of hair on her head, another plait with a shadow reaching to her calf.

*a léine (pronounced lay-nuh) is a specific garment: loose, hanging to the knee, with long full sleeves. Although it is glossed here as tunic it is not overly similar to the general tunic most people are familiar with. See here for more detail http://www.albanach.org/articles.htmlhttp%3A//www.albanach.org/leine.html 

Copyright Morgan Daimler

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Describing Fedelm in the Tain Bo Cuiligne



A bit of descriptive translation for today from the Táin Bó Cuiligne of Medb's first view of the seeress Fedelm:


Impáis in t-ara in carpat ocus dothaét Medb for cúlu, co n-accai ní rap ingnad lé, .i. in n-aenmnái for fertais in charpait na farrad ina dochum. Is amlaid bói ind ingen: ic figi corrthairi ocus claideb findruini ina láim deiss cona secht n-aslib do dergór ina dessaib; bratt ballabrecc uani impi; bretnas torrach trencend sin brutt osa brunni; gnúis chorcra chrumainech lé; rosc glass gairectach le; beóil derga thanaide; dét niamda nemanda, andar let batar frossa findnémand erctais ina cend; cosmail do nuapartaing a beóil; binnidir téta mendchrot aca seinm allámaib sirshúad bindfogur a gotha ocus a cáinurlabra; gilidir snechta sniged fri oenaidchi taidlech a cniss ocus a colla sech a timthach sechtair; traigthi seta sithgela, ingni corcra córi cruindgéra lé; folt findbudi fata forórda furri; teora trillsi da fult imma cend, trilis aile co m-benad foscad fri colptha.
Irische Texte Mit Ubersetzungen, Windisch (1905.)


"The charioteer turned the chariot and suddenly at Medb's back, she saw something, a person unusual to her, that is the single girl at a shaft of the chariot beside the company. And thus is the girl: besides weaving fringe and a sword of fine brass in her right hand, seven sword-ornaments of red-gold well arranged on it; a speckled-spotted green cloak on her; a brooch rounded, strong-covered there on her cloak and chest; a face red, rich-blooded with her; eyes green and laughing with her; a subtle red mouth; brilliant pearl-like teeth, you would think they were white-pearls showering abundantly from her head; similar to fresh scarlet were her lips; melodious strings of a lyre being played by a master, long lasting, sweet-sounding her voice and her enchanting speech; bright as falling snow from a single night was her shining skin and her body that was beyond her garment; feet slender long and fair, nails dark red, well-proportioned, round and neat with her; hair light-yellow, long, and golden on her; three plaits of hair on her head, another plait with a shadow reaching to her calf."

  The word used to describe the red of her face and nails is actually corcra which is a dark-purple red; in modern Irish this word means purple, but in older Irish it was considered a both purple and a shade of red sometimes translated as crimson. In contrast her mouth is "derga" a bright, intense red, while her lips are "nuapartaing" nua meaning new and partaing being a bright scarlet red associated dyeing cloth.  
    It's also interesting to note that her hair is described simultaneously as "light-yellow" and "golden"; finduidi is a magnifying term which implies intensity of color or quality and, with aelt, is associated with bleaching hair with lime, while forórda means gilt, gold colored, and in expressions glorious. Altogether we can take this as a description of her hair as long and shining blonde. 

Copyright Morgan Daimler

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What Makes A God?

  I'm going to start out by saying clearly, I don't have any answers to this question and I don't think there is an answer. It's a question that inevitably leads to more questions. And I think that's a good thing - we should question this, we should ask ourselves the hard things like this. Without the hard questions there will never be any real growth or deep theology.
  This may - or may not - surprise people but this particular question is one I contemplate regularly. My spiritual practice includes not only beings from acknowledged pantheons who are, generally, agreed to be Gods by  most people's definitions but also beings who I term the liminal Gods who may or may not fit that definition and a wide array of spirits that I consider powerful and influential but not divine. And here is where we hit the crux of this question - how do we define a God?
  According to the dictionary* a god is a being with supernatural powers that controls an aspect of reality and can be worshiped. This presents a problem, however, for animists and those of us who work with diverse spirits because that definition could apply to many spirits who I would not necessarily call Gods. My house spirit is essential to many things and influential over my home, but I wouldn't call him a God. In the same way the Fair Folk can be very powerful and able to influence our world, but I wouldn't call them Gods, even though I offer to them and petition them for luck and blessings.
   Does worship alone make something a God? Certainly Gods are offered to, prayed to, and given acknowledgement for their worth**. Human ancestors and the Other Crowd are also offered to and given respect, and prayed to yet they aren't usually seen as Gods. This also invites the line of thought that it is humans who create and maintain Gods, putting humans, ultimately, at the top of the cosmic food chain. It also opens the questions of what happens to Gods without worshipers, and whether the God with the most followers would be the most powerful.
   Does historic precedent make something a God? That of course immediately leads to the chicken-egg dilemma as we must establish how long something has to exist or be worshiped to be a God, however it can also be helpful to look at whether something was previously considered a divinity. Also this creates a catch-22 with deified humans like Imhotep who clearly weren't Gods originally but clearly were later. And this line of thought would entirely eliminate the possibility of new Gods in our time by arguing that only pre-existing acknowledged Gods were actually divine.
   Does power make something a God? This tends to be my own measuring stick, but even this has its flaws as there are far more blurred lines than clear cut ones. What can something influence and to what degree? What are the beings limits? Of course even Gods have limits, but the power of a God should be greater than that of a ghost or a house spirit, in my opinion.
   Does area of influence make something a God? Or in other words does it have geographic limitations? Is it stationary? Some people will argue this one, because some people do see Gods as tied to locations. Even in my own belief there's a grey area here as the liminal Gods can vary by location, but they are not bound by their environment or preferred area. One measure of a God may be how far its influence extends and how much the being themselves can go. Is it a local spirit or does its influence extend or shift? Can it only manifest or effect things in one place? Or does its influence extend anywhere it chooses to go?
   These are only a few questions that come to my mind when we ask what makes something a God. There are many more that we could ask as well, and its up to each of us to decide how we feel about each question. Because in the end there is no simple answer for the question of what makes something a God.
   Ask yourself these questions, and find your own answers. I know what I think, but you don't need me to tell you how I define a God. You need to find the Truth that speaks to you, find your own understanding of this. Because my God may be your Good Neighbor, and your God may be my fictional character, and that other God over there may be someone else's archetype. Ultimately no one can tell any of us what to believe about this. We must find our own answers.

* Merriam Webster
** worship: Middle English worshipe worthiness, respect, reverence paid to a divine being, from Old English weorthscipe worthiness, respect, from weorthworthy, worth + -scipe -ship http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship

Copyright Morgan Daimler

Monday, June 1, 2015

On Being *That* Guy

  Everyone knows that guy*, the person who is always one of the first ones to speak up about paganism or polytheism, even though they don't really know that much about it. The one who puts down other religions while simultaneously complaining bitterly about religious persecution. The one who is certain that all the debunked bad history is actually true, from the Burning Times (tm) to all-male Druids, from the Golden Age of Matriarchy to the ancient neolithic Wiccans. And no amount of discussion, logic, or evidence can dissuade that guy from their very loud opinions. That guy is the one who makes more experienced people wince or roll their eyes, or in some cases lose their tempers.
   We're all quick to complain about that guy, to criticize and, if we're honest, to go after that guy one way or another: to try to prove them wrong, or teach them, to show them up, or maybe just shut them up. When that guy appears in a discussion, with their loud declarations and boundless belief, you can watch the newer people's eyes widening in confusion and uncertainty and the more expereinced people bristling and girding for battle. We commiserate with each other, present a united front, and advise everyone else not to be that guy. No one gets less sympathy than that guy.
  The thing is - we were all that guy, once upon a time. Maybe not as loudly, or as spectacularly. Maybe not at a time when social media made being that guy a ringside event that people need popcorn for. But we, at least most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, went through that phase in our spirituality where we bordered on zealot and our beliefs were like boulders, even when those beliefs were spun of wishful thinking and fantasy. Most of us have had that time when defending the faith was a badge of honor, even if we were defending it against dragons that looked a lot like windmills to everyone else. If you didn't, if you avoided ever, even once, being that guy, then good on you but I think its something most of us go through. I certainly look back now at a certain, shall we say, enthusiastic period of my spiritual life with a blush and a shrug.
   I'm writing about this today because, as strange as this might sound, I think we need to give that guy a break. When they are foaming at the mouth over things that seem like shadows to us, when they are exuberantly insisting that fantasy is history, when they are loudly declaring their personal spirituality to be the entirety of paganism for everyone, everywhere, I think we need to remember what it felt like to be in that place in our own journey. When that outer passion was maybe covering an absolute terror of being wrong, when that exuberance was disguising a desperate desire to fit in and belong somewhere. Think back to what made you that guy, once upon a time, and try to have a bit of empathy for someone else who is perhaps in that same place. And maybe ask yourself why that guy bothers you so much to begin with.
   Don't stop not being that guy of course, and don't stop living and speaking your own truth. And by all means let that guy know there are other options, other ways, and for the love of the Gods better history. But instead of doing it with words aimed like a sword point or arguments that land like fists, maybe try to listen to what's really being said, and the message behind what's being said, and answer with kindness and an open dialogue.
  It's an idea anyway.

*guy used here in a gender neutral sense, applicable equally to males or females. And yes I really do talk that way in real life.

Copyright Morgan Daimler