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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tri Cuirn o Cormac ua Cuinn - The Three Goblets of Cormac grandson of Conn

Today I'd like to offer a shorter translation piece for you:

Cuirn sin tucad do Cormac u Cuinn dar muir
Feacht n-ann do luid Aedh Oirdnidhi mac Neill Frosaidh mic Fearghuile mic Maile Duin do ordugud fer cuigid Connacht. Do luid dar Eas Ruaidh ocus do baithed a fuis meisi ocus a cuirnn ann. Tainic Aedh co riacht Corca Tri, co n-deisidh a tigh righ Corca Tri. Coeca righ do riguibh Eirenn maille re h-Aedh.
Longuis Aedh adhaigh domhnaidh ocus an rigraidh: ocus cia ro loing Aed, ni sib digh, uair ní bai corn lais, or do baitheadh a cuirnn ocus a cuaich ac Ath Enaigh uas Eas Ruaidh, oc tiachtain don t-sluadh thairis. As amal immoro robai Aed cona sibh digh a leastur aile o ra dealuigh re cich a mathar acht a curn. Ba bron tra do righ Corca Tri ocus dia seithid, each ic ol ocus righ Erenn gin ol. Togbuis Angal a lamha fri Dia, ocus feicis gin codladh gin tomailt co madain, gu n-eabert a bean fris ara barach, ‘Eirg,’ ar si, ‘co Dirlus Guaire mic Colmain, uair ba tealach feile ocus naire o aimsir Dathi anall, dus an fuigbithea corn tria firta na feile ann.’ Cechaing Angal righ Corca Tri tar dorus na ratha amach, ocus tuisleas a cois deas, co ra tuisil cloch leis isin lis .i. an cloch do bai ar belaib an t-suirn a rabudar na tri cuirn as deach robai a n-Eirinn .i. an Cam-corn ocus an Litan ocus an Easgung. Cuirn sin tucad do Cormac u Cuinn dar muir, ocus ro folaig Niamh mac Lugna Firtri an dara comalta do Cormac u Cuinn, iar n-dith Cormuic, co toracht Coirpri Lifeachuir dar muir ocus cia ro fritha na cuirn aile la Cairpri, ni fritha na cuirn-siu co h-aimsir na næmh ocus Aeda Oirdnidi mic Neill, or tucad cealtar tairsib o Dia, co ru-s-foillsid do righ Corca Tri tria firta na feile.
Altaigis a buidi do dia an t-i Angal ocus beiris leis na curna, cona tri lan do mid inntibh. Do-bert a
laim Aeda Oirdnidi righ Eirenn, ocus atlaigi do dia ocus do-bert an Litan a laim righ Ulad, ocus do-bert an Easguing a laimh righ Connacht, ocus fagbuis aigi budhein an Cam-cornn. Co toracht iartain do Mailseachloinn mac Domhnuill, co tuc-sidhe do Dia ocus do Ciaran a coitcinne co brath.
- RIA MS 23 O 48: Liber Flavus Fergusiorum, 1435-40


The Three Goblets* of Cormac Ua Cuinn
There was one time Aed Oridnide, son of Nial Frosach, son of Feargal, son of Maelduin, came to bring order to the men of the province of Connacht. He went over Eas Ruaid, and his table-attendants and his goblets drown there. Aed went until he reached Corca Tri, and rested at the house of the king of Corca Tri. Fifty kings of the kings of Ireland were along with Aed.
Aed ate on Sunday night and the kings [as well]: but though he ate he drank no drink, because he had no goblet, because his goblets and his cups were submerged at Ath Enaig, above Eas Ruaid, as the army was taking it. It was thus around Aed with them drinking from other vessels of great distinction as if from the breast of their mother but his goblet alone [was missing]. It was a sadness for the king of Corca Tri and his wife that the horse nearby was drinking and the king of Ireland without drinking. Angal raised his hands to God, and went on without sleep [and] without food until morning.
The next day his wife said to him: "Go," said she, "to Dirlus, to Guaire son of Colmain, for that has been the house of welcome and generosity from the time of Dathi on, to see if you would get a goblet there through his wonderful generosity."
Angal, king of Corca Tri, proceeded through the door of the fort outwards, and his right foot slipped, and a stone fell from the fort that is the stone that covered the mouth of the division(?) where were the three goblets that were best in Ireland that is the Curved-Horn, and the Litany, and the Eel. These were the goblets that were brought by Cormac grandson of Conn over the sea; and they were hidden by Niamh son of Lugna Firtri, the second foster-brother of Cormac grandson of Conn, after the slaughter of Cormac; and Cairpri Lifeachuir came over the sea, and though the other goblets were found by Cairpri, these goblets were not found till the time of the saints and of Aed Oridnide son of Nial. Because a cloak went to cover them of God, until they were revealed to the king of Corca Tri, through his wonderful generosity.
Angal gave thanks to God, and went with the goblets, with the three full of mead. He put them in the hands of Aed Oirdnide, king of Ireland, who gave thanks to God, and put the Litany in the hands of the king of Ulster, the Eel in the hands of the king of Connacht, and reserved to himself the Curved-Horn.
Successively afterwards [it went] to Maelsechlainn son of Domhnaill; it went as a peace-offering to God and to Ciaran, generally, until Judgement.
- RIA MS 23 O 48: Liber Flavus Fergusiorum, 1435-40

*I'm translating corn here as goblet but it can also be read as drinking horn. Certainly drinking horn has a more poetic feel with the names Curved-Horn and Eel, and the word tends to convey meanings attached to those shapes. I just went with goblet because it felt more regal in context. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Online Fairy Resources

I've posted various recommended reading lists before but I thought it would be both helpful and fun to post a selection of assorted links to online resources for the subject of fairylore here that don't fall into the realm of 'recommended reading'. There are after all other media one can look to for education on the subject and there's some great music and fiction as well. Many of these are also more modern looks at fairylore and show, I think, the way that the Good Folk continue to interact with people and the way that stories and poetry act as vessels for the older folklore to be carried forward.





Videos
Kin Fables by Five Knights Productions is an excellent series of short independent films with fairy themes
Dr. Jenny Butler gives a great interview on youtube about Irish Fairy Lore
There's also this short video of a modern fairy encounter that I recommend people watch.
Michael Fortune has a wonderful series of videos on Irish folklore, some of which focus on fairy beliefs. These are must watch in my opinion.
Ronan Kelly's Ireland (linked above) has an episode 'Pat's East Galway Fairies' that also worth a watch.
You can find several videos of Eddie Lenihan on youtube, of varying quality, and I suggest watching them all. Lenihan is a well known story teller in Ireland and he has fought in the past to keep a fairy tree from being destroyed for the sake of a road.
Lora O'Brien offers a fabulous class on the Irish Sidhe on her website.

Fiction and Poetry
Charmingly Antiquated on Tumblr has a great comic about a university taken over by the Fey.
Five Knights Productions also has a graphic novel series titled Kin available online
Rosamund Hodge has an excellent short story online called 'A Guide for Young Ladies Entering the Service of the Fairies'
Lora O'Brien's 'The Fairy Lover' is a fascinating look at the Leanan Sidhe, and 'The Banshee in Italy' is worth a read for certain.
Author Jennifer Lawrence has several excellent pieces online including 'Tam Lin's Garden' and 'Rebuttal: The Faerie Queen's Reply' that represent good, modern takes on the story of Tam Lin

Non-Fiction
Professor Ashliman of the University of Pittsburgh has a very useful site called 'Folktexts' that I recommend people checking out as a solid online non-fiction resource
Another great non-fiction source is the folklore site Duchas. There is a great deal of fairylore to be found there, although in fairness not all has been transcribed into English.

Audio Resources and Music
Bluirni Bealoidis has a great podcast focused on fairies titled 'Fairy Forts in Folk Tradition'
The BBC program 'In Our Time' has an episode titled 'Fairies' that presents a variety of views on the subject
There's a large array of songs that could be recommended, of course, but below I'll offer a selection of some that keep with the more traditional views.
Heather Dale, "The Changeling Child' and 'The Maiden and the Selkie'
Mor Gwyddelig's version of Buain a Rainich is very good and bilingual.
There's also several good versions of Tha Mi Sgith or A Fairy's Love Song.
Coyote Run has a very good take on fairy lore with their song 'Finnean's Dance'
Some of the old ballads can be listened to as well such as 'Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight' and 'Tam Lin'.
I'll end with one of my favorites songs with a fairy theme:


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Magic in Motion - Circles and Compasses in Folklore

The idea that movement in magic has significance is of course an old one and can be found in both folk magic and folklore. In witchcraft we see this reflected in the idea of casting a circle and in some forms of modern traditional witchcraft in casting the compass*, and we also find the idea in references to early modern witchcraft which involve the idea of moving directionally around a space either deiseal [clockwise] or tuathail [counterclockwise]. This same idea is reflected in Irish and Scottish folk practices where sacred spaces such as grave yards or holy wells were first circled three times deiseal before being entered.

Movement in circles is seen for a variety of purposes, including taking oaths, enchantment, breaking spells, and protective magics (Wimberly, 1928). We see the idea in various ballads and stories of a person circling or moving around a place or person in order to cast magic on them. This idea also exists in folk magic, such as we see in the Carmina Gadelica in Caluinn a Bhuilg 63 where the visiting carolers circle the house three times deiseal to drive out negative spirits and Oidhche Challaig 66 where inhospitably treated singers circle the fire tuathail before reciting a curse on the house (Carmichael, 1900).

The idea of a circle being used for protection is also an old one. There are examples from The Ballad of Tam Lin where the variously-named protagonist uses holy water to create a protective circle or compass around herself, apparently to avoid detection by the Fairy Rade:
"There's holy water in her hand,
She casts a compass round,
And presently a fairy band
Comes riding o'er the mound
." (Tam Lin 39D)
Generally the protagonist takes this action after being explicitly told to by her fairy lover:
"Ye'll do you down to Mile Course,
Between twall hours and ane,
And full your hands o holy water,
And cast your compass roun
'" (Tam-a-Line 39G)
Wimberly suggests that the references to holy water in these versions are reflections of the later use of milk or water to rescue Tam Lin by bathing or submerging him, and also that it may represent a later Christianization of the pagan practice of using protective circles/compasses. In either view the act seems to secure a level of protection for both the protagonist and later her lover as well by creating a barrier against the Good Folk (Wimberly, 1928). The ballad also suggests that while within this circle the protagonist was invisible to the Fairy Rade passing by, and was only finally seen when she moved to pull her lover down from his horse. 

The direction of the movement was important, with circling done in a deiseal way, with the sun [clockwise], being seen as blessing or protective:
"So let me walk the deasil round you, that you may go safe out into the far foreign land, and come safe home." (Scott, 1827)
"...the kindred of the deceased carried the body ashore, and, placing it on a bank long consecrated to the purpose, made the Deasil around the departed." (Scott, 1828)
In some cases this is referred to as 'right and round' or 'right and around' (Wimberly, 1928). McNeil wrote that all festivals started with the deiseal circumambulation three times of the site or the specific item like bonfire or holy well (McNeill, 1956). Bullán stones are turned deiseal to work cures or for healing prayers and it was once the common practice for holy wells to be circled deiseal before being entered. The concept behind this magic hinges on the idea that moving deiseal, or towards the right hand side or south, is a naturally positive and beneficial direction which follows the motion of the sun.

In sharp contrast compassing tuthail, or widdershins* in the Scots language, was seen as having a very different purpose. It was sometimes referred to as 'wrongwise' or 'contrariwise' and represented going against the natural order, towards the left hand side or north, or against the motion of the sun. It is a direction strongly associated with witchcraft and also with invoking Fairy:
In the Ballad of Childe Rowland the protagonist's sister is taken into Fairy after going around a church widdershins, with the implication that this action opened her up to fairy abduction; in the same way to gain entrance to rescue her the protagonist must walk three times round widdershins himself. 
"Margarat Davidsone quhan scho sa the new moyne scho ran thrys widdersones about" [Margarat Davidson when she saw the new moon she ran thrice widdershins about] (Crammond, 1903).
"The wemen maid fyrst thair homage [to the Devil], and nixt the men. The men wer turnit nyne tymes widderschinnes about and the wemen sax tymes" [The women made first their homage {to the devil} and next the men. The men were turned nine times widdershins about and the women six times](Pitcairn, 1833)
"Upon the pronouncing of some words, and turning himself about wider-shins, that is turning himself round from the right hand to the left, contrary to the natural course of the sun" (Miller, 1877).
When bullán stones are used for cursing they are turned tuathail and there are some accounts in folklore of stones being held in the hand and turned tuathail to enact hexes as well.

However while widdershins does have a particularly strong association with hexing and negative magic today, and is even viewed by some Christians as both unlucky and even blasphemous in relation to sacred sites, it was used for positive ends including healing and its historic association with witchcraft is likely, in my opinion, why in modern terms we view it entirely as negative. Some examples of positive uses:
"The said Aliesone past thryse widdershynnis about the said Issobel hir bed muttering out certane charmes in unknawen wordis … and thairby cureing of the said Issobell of hir diseas " [The said Alison passed thrice widdershins about the said Isobel's bed muttering out certain charms and unknown words...and thereby curing the said Isobel of her disease] (Gillion & Smith, 1953)
"In cureing of his wyfe, be causeing ane grit fyre to be put on, and ane hoill to be maid in the north side of the hous, and ane quik hen to be put furth thairat, at thre seuerall tymes, and tane in at the hous-dur widderschynnes " [In curing his wife, by causing one great fire to be put on, and one hole to be made in the north side of the house, and one quick hen to be put through it, at three separate times, and taken in at the house door widdershins] (Pitcairn, 1833).
In these examples of healing we see widdershins motions being used to remove illnesses and work cures on ill people, resulting in a positive outcome for the patient. As previously mentioned widdershins motions were also associated with entering Fairy as well.

The exact use of the circle and the choice of direction depended on the situation and purpose as discussed above, but the wider concept is a recurring thread in folklore and folk magic. This idea includes everything from walking fully around a location, object, or person, to turning something like a stone in the hand with the direction of the motion having intrinsic significance to the outcome. We still see these concepts today in neopagan witchcraft, although how close or far from the folk practices the modern practices have grown is debatable.

Caiseal Chaoilte


*the concepts of casting a circle or casting a compass are effectively synonymous, and in fact the term 'compas' or 'compasse' in Scots means "a round or ring; a circle or circuit" (DSL, 2018). In practice they also seem to have many similarities, particularly the older versions.
*there are roughly two dozen variant spellings for widdershins in Scots. I'm using what I think is the neopagan standard here as the word has passed into some sort of common use through older neopagan texts. Be aware however that in older non-pagan material the word may be found in various spellings including, for example, withershins, wyddyrshins, wouderschinnis.


References
Pitcairn, R., (1833) Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland
Miller, J., (1877) Renfrewshire Witches
Carmichael, A., (1900) Carmina Gadelica volume I
Gillion, A., and Smith, J., (1953) Justiciary Cases
Geoghan, S., (2005) Gobnait: Woman of the Bees http://www.matrifocus.com/IMB05/ireland-gobnait.htm
Harold Johnson and the Cursing Stones (2011) https://vimeo.com/16714531
DSL (2018) Compas. http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/compas_n
Child, F., (1882) The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
Scott, W., (1827) Chronicles of Canongate
Scott, W., (1828) The Fair Maid of Perth
Crommond, W., (1903) The Records of Elgin, 1234–1800
Wimberly, C., (1928) Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads
McNeill, F., (1956) The Silver Bough

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Following in the Tracks of Hooves - a Pilgrimage in Ireland

Sheep tracks at Healy Pass

I'm just back from a recent trip to Ireland, helping co-facilitate a tour for Land, Sea, Sky Travel to the Beara peninsula. Most of the tour, of course, was focused on that job of facilitating for the people on the tour, but I had my own moments of experience as well and as I sit here back at home processing all of that I thought I'd share a little bit of what the experience was like for me. Later I'll write a more detailed blog about the tour and the places we went. Here I just want to explore a bit about my personal experiences.

The title of this blog is based on a joke I started making early on, that we were 'following in the track of little hooves' as we went along our journey. It was only partially a joke though, as we did indeed end up following sheep tracks more than once - on Oileán Baoi they guided several of us to a beautiful spot to meditate and crossing Healy Pass on foot from one viewing point to another they led us along the side of the road. We saw sheep often, not particularly surprising, but it was delightful to see the lambs everywhere and to feel like Bealtaine was more than just pretty words and flowering trees. Following the sharply pointed little hoof prints was a way of listening to what the land itself was saying to us.

Animals more generally became something of a theme for me on this trip, although I'm not sure I can explain exactly how meaningful that was. There were domestic animals, including the aforementioned sheep as well as cows and horses; there were black dogs at portentous moments and black and white cats lurking along paths. At the Burren Bird of Prey Centre we met a variety of magnificent birds and I was able to assist by holding a barn owl, which is like a dream come true for me. There were also many wild animals that crossed my path in what seemed like important ways. When my plane landed I was greeted by the sight of rabbits in the field at the airport; I saw seven of them which seemed a good omen. When we went to the Cliffs of Moher I made friends with a Chough, who after I started talking to him as he dove around the edge of the cliff came over and landed near me for a conversation. We went on a whale watch and saw a basking shark, minke whales, and seals and when we went over to Oilean Baoi [Dursey Island] I saw dolphins in the channel. I saw swans at Loch Guir, and Gougán Barra, and Poulgorm; the two at Poulgorm hung out with me for hours (in fairness they were used to tourists feeding them and seemed very docile for swans). I also saw a wild owl at Poulgorm one evening, which felt very special. The last animal I saw at Dublin airport was another rabbit.

My Chough friend
During this trip we went to many significant locations - places that were well known or maybe less well known but archaeologically significant. They were all amazing of course and important...but the places that spoke most to me, the places I felt the most strongly connected to weren't famous ones, or at least weren't in themselves famous. I enjoyed the camaraderie at the big locations and the feeling of helping others (or trying to) in their quest to connect to these places, but for me it was the odd spots I stumbled across, sometimes fully unexpected and unintended that really grabbed me.

There was a Whitethorn outside the circle of stones at Ciorcal Liag na Gráinsí [Grange stone circle] that I immediately connected to in a deep way, and later in the trip when we came back to the site and were able to access an adjacent smaller circle there was also a solitary Thorn there that spoke loudly to me. Of course I have an affinity for Whitethorns so maybe that's no surprise. At Oileán Baoi [Dursey Island] there was an out of the way spot across from Crow Head that had some very powerful energy to it. And when we climbed up to see the stone circle(s) at Caiseal Chaoilte - or Caiseal Coillte, the signs couldn't agree on the Irish - it wasn't the stone circles that drew me but a small outcropping of rock jutting up into the air a short way off. In the same way at Gougán Barra while the Slanan healing stream was beautiful it was a spot near the shore of the lake that spoke strongly to me. I spent a lot of time at Poulgorm near our hotel, listening to the water and the wind and feeling the flow of it all around me.

The place that I connected the strongest to, by far, though was the ruins of a building at the edge of a cemetery near saint Gobnait's shrine in Baile Bhúirne. I stumbled across it entirely by accident. Our group had stopped at the tobar Ghobnait [Gobnait's well) on the way up to the shrine and when most of the group went back to the road to continue to the shrine I and a few others didn't. Instead we decided to follow a small trail through the woods. It led to the ruins of a large house, which the group stopped to explore. I headed off into the woods, following the pull of something calling me*. After some wandering through the trackless woods I found myself inside high stone walls with the ruins of a building, surrounded by blooming gorse, blackberry, young trees, and thick-growing underbrush. The building was like a siren song, calling me in**. I stood for a while as close as I could easily get, just speaking to the spirits there and listening to what they had to say to me. I could not get inside the building, which was surrounded at this point by a small stream and heavy underbrush and at then several of my adventurous companions had arrived on the scene making me reluctant to involve others in further risky shenanigans.

Ruins near saint Gobnait's shrine


We found our way into the cemetery and then over to the area where saint Gobnait's statue is, but I kept being drawn back to the site of the ruined building. I felt like I belonged in it. I wandered over to the side of the building against the road, peering into the windows, touching the stone. At the far corner was a plaque which read '1846-48 Famine Porridge House'. Reading that gave me a physical jolt. There was a haunting spirit to the place but also a sense of belonging and home that made me want to crawl through the window and move in.



I also found myself living my service to the aos sí on this trip in many ways. I listened to the spirits of the places I went, to the ones who spoke to me and the ones who didn't. I found myself compelled to work to help and heal Thorns being damaged by improper rag tree practices. I've been an advocate of proper rag tree traditions before now of course but on this trip I found the sight of damage to the trees bringing me to tears and whereas before I cared about it now I find it's a compulsion.

Removing a nylon strap from a Hawthorn; you can see the way the strap is restricting growth of the limb and the way the bark has grown into the imprint of the nylon pattern because of the tightness of the material. This will kill the entire branch over time. 

My first trip to Ireland was a profoundly initiatory experience that changed my life. This trip was about service on many levels - about doing what little I could to work for the land and the spirits of the places I was going to. It was also about being open to the experiences as they came and accepting the journey as it happened instead of projecting my expectations onto it. There was no profound moment here, no life changing shift, but it little moments and small things that made me feel a sense of connection to some places.


*not always a wise thing to do
**seriously don't be me here. The smart thing to do in this situation is not go wandering into dangerous ruined buildings.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Upcoming Releases 2018

The second half of 2018 is going to be busy for me with published pieces being released, and since I often have people asking me what I have coming out and when I thought it might be helpful to recap here.

August 31, 2018 - Seven Ages of the Goddess. An anthology by Moon Books that features a series of articles from various authors each focusing on a different aspect of the goddesses in history. I contributed a piece to this focusing on goddesses hidden in folklore. The idea behind it is the way that some goddesses became folkloric characters as paganism shifted into Christianity in europe. There are, of course, many other interesting articles in here as well.

September 18th, 2018 - The Real Witches of New England: History, Lore and Modern Practice by Ellen Evert Hopman. I was interviewed for this book and am in a section of it discussing my particular kind of witchcraft and some of my thoughts on practicing and New England witchcraft.

September 28th, 2018 - Travelling the Fairy Path. The third book in my Fairy witchcraft series this book is also (as far as I plan anyway) going to be the final one. I do like things in threes. It takes a more personal look at my practice and is meant to be a more advanced book, focused on the actual practice of this type of witchcraft.

October 26th, 2018 - Pagan Portals the Dagda. My next Pagan Portals book ,focused on the Dagda, will be out this October. I'm very excited for this one as there just isn't anything on the market focused on this deity and he is such a fascinating and multilayered god.


There are a few other books coming out this year that I don't have release dates for yet. I contributed three pieces to a wonderful Dagda anthology that is on track to publish this year, but hasn't gotten a firm date for publication yet. My 7th novel is also nearly complete and should be out either late May or early June, but again I don't have a precise date yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Translation - Compert Mongan

Below is a new translation I've done of a section of the Conception of Mongan. It's a very interesting story and I quite like this version which focuses more on Fiachna's wife perspective than the other common story. 


COMPERT MONGAN

... Asbertsa dagní didiu ar atá do chéle i ngúais már. Tucad fer húathmar ara chend nad forsabatár & atbéla leis. Dia ndernam mád tú caratrad berae mac de. Bid amre in mac bid Fíacnai dano. Regasa dun chath firfidir i mbárach im theirt aranícubsa & fessa in mílid ar bélaib fer nAlban. & asbert frit chéliusiu ar n-imtechta & as tussu rom foídi día chobair. Dogníth samlaid. In tan reras in cath díarailiu co n-accatar ní in tslúaig in fer sainigthe ar beolo catho Áedain & Fiachna. Dolluid dochum Fiachna in tainredach & asbert fris accaldaim a mná a llá ríam & donindgell dia chobair isind uair sin. Luid iarom resin cath dochum alaili & fich in mílid & memuid in cath ria nÁedán & Fiachna & dointaí Fíachna día chrích & bá torrach in ben .i. ben & birt mac .i. Mongan mac Fíachna & atlugestar a céli a ndogéni friss & addámirsi a imthechta uli. Conid mac do Manannán mac Lir intí Mongán césu Mongan mac Fiachnai dogarar dé. ar foracaib rand lía máthair a llude uadi matin a n-asbert Tíag dum daim dufail in matin bánglain iss é Monindan mac Lir ainm ind fir dutárlid.

- Lebor na hUidre

The Conception of Mongan

(Fiachna is off fighting in Scotland when a noble looking stranger appears to his wife at home and asks her for a meeting between them. She refused saying she would not disgrace her husband; the stranger asks if she would tryst with him to save her husband's life and she replied that she would do anything in her power to save him if she could)

[text picks up after gap]
.... He said that she should do it then because "your husband is in great danger. A terrible man goes against him and he will die by him. If you have a [sexual] alliance with me a son will come from it. Famous will be the son of Fíachna. I will go to the battle in the third hour tomorrow and it will be told by all the mouths of the men of Scotland. And I will tell your husband of these wanderings and that you sent help to him." It was done. 
When they went into the battle the gathered hosts saw the man and the warriors of Áedain and Fiachna whispered of him. He went to Fiachna in particular and spoke of the discussion with his wife before and that he had promised to give his help in that hour. then he went and fought against the others and vanquished the soldiers and the battle was won by Áedán & Fiachna.
 And Fiachna went back to his country and the woman was pregnant, that is the woman gave birth to a son, that is Mongan mac Fíachna and he thanks his wife for what she had done and she told all her adventures to him. He was a son of Manannán mac Lir this Mongán though Mongan mac Fiachna was the name on him. When the man went from [Mongan's] mother he left this poem which he said to her in the morning: I go to my house, the clear-bright morning is at hand, it is he Manannán mac Lir, the name of the man who came to you.

- Lebor na hUidre

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Odin and the Wild Hunt - Excerpt from 'Pagan Portals Odin'

The following is an excerpt from my recently released book 'Pagan Portals Odin'
Cover art by Ashley Bryner


"The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt is a group of spectral horsemen who ride the air at night, accompanied by hounds and horses, and led by a fearsome Huntsman (or in some cases Huntswoman). The Hunt is found in several areas of Western Europe as well as America and who exactly they are as well as who leads them can vary depending on where they are, so that in Wales they are known to be fairies led by the God Gwynn ap Nudd, while in Norse lands they are the souls of dead warriors, or the dead more generally, led by either Odin or Odin and a consort (Jones, 2003). In the Germanic areas the Hunt is often led by Odin under the name of Wodan, or sometimes Frau Hulda, or both together, and parts of England by Herne. There has been some suggestion that Herne is either Odin in disguise or else if Herne is a purely literary character that his later development into a deity was heavily influenced by Odin (Ford, 2001). The hunt in Germany is also sometimes led by Frau Perchta, or Frau Gauden [Mrs. Odin], who led groups of dead children or witches through the sky (Berk, & Spytma, 2002). In the areas where it is led by Odin it may be called Odensjakt [Odin’s Hunt], Oensjaegeren [Odin’s Hunters] or Odin’s Army. Odin’s connection to leading the Hunt goes back in writing at least several hundred years and speculatively in oral tradition to the 13th century (Lecouteux, 1999).

    The Wild Hunt is known to ride out at certain times of year, especially during Lent, which is usually March and April, as well as around Midsummer and Midwinter (Grimm, 1883). Meeting the Hunt was usually seen as a bad thing and people would flee indoors or avoid going out when the Wild Hunt was known to be abroad, because of the danger it represented, but it could also bring blessings to people who were clever enough to earn them. For example, in stories like “Wod, the Wild Huntsman” the protagonist meeting the Hunt is rewarded with gifts of meat and gold for his cleverness. Conversely offending the Wild Hunt might mean the person earning a more gruesome reward, such as the corpse of his own child or a severed human limb, while other times the Hunt would turn on the individual and tear them to pieces (Berk, & Spytma, 2002; Grimm, 1883).

The beings who make up the Wild Hunt itself in Norse and Germanic lands are most often the dead, often the battle dead who still appear to bear the wounds that killed them. These ghostly troops also included animals, particularly hounds and sometimes wolves, and horses that may have as few as two or as many as eight legs (Kershaw, 2000). It’s possible that these horsemen are the Einherjar, although they may also be other members of the Dead associated with Odin. 

The Wild Hunt may also have had a living counterpart, a cult of masked youths who engaged in ecstatic practices to connect to Odin and the spirits of the ancestral dead, and held processions at certain times of year (Kershaw, 2000). The Wild Hunt, particularly in Germany, had associations with blessing the harvest (Lecouteux, 1999). We may perhaps suggest that at least in Germany Odin as Wodan and his Wild Hunt was at one point connected to cultic practices that may have had many layers of purpose, possibly both connecting to the dead and blessing the land."

References
Berk, A., and Spytma, W., (2002) Penance, Power, and Pursuit, On the Trail of the Wild Hunt
Ford, D., (2001). Royal Berkshire History: Beware the Ghostly Hunt
Grimm, J., (1883). Teutonic Mythology, volume 1
Jones, M (2003) The Wild Hunt. Retrieved from www.maryjones.us/jce/wildhunt.html
Kershaw, K., (2000). The One-eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-)Germanic Mannerbunde
Lecouteux, C., (1999). Phantom Armies of the Night