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Thursday, September 17, 2015

excerpt from my current work in progress

I'm a bit behind on blogging and translations because I'm in the middle of a new book draft for Pagan Portals: Brigid. The idea of doing more goddess-themed Pagan Portals was suggested by someone on my facebook author page and my publisher really liked it, and asked if I'd be interested in writing about Brigid. I'm about 14,000 words into the 25,000 word draft and its about all I've had time to work on, excluding real life child care (the never ending work-in-progress). So today I thought it would be fun to share a small excerpt from the new book in progress. Although the main focus of the book is specifically on the pagan Goddess Brighid it's inevitable that saint Brigid will have to be discussed too....

Brigid – Goddess and Saint
Our modern understanding of Brigid is largely the result of a blending of the features of the pagan Goddess and Catholic saint (Clark, 1991). There is a sharp divide among scholars on the subject with some like Kim McCone stating that saint Brigid, particularly in her later stories, shows a clear separation from the pagan Brigid, while others like Marie-Louise Sjoestedt say that the saint is an accurate preservation of the Goddess. This makes it difficult and at times almost impossible to untangle one from the other, particularly from material that dates to the transition period when Ireland was still nominally pagan and not yet entirely Christian. We can see this for example in the proliferation of both mythic figures and saints named Brigid as well as the characteristics of the early saint Brigid which clearly reflected earlier mythic patterns, such as providing food and drink to those in need (McCone, 2000). In the Lebor Gabala Erenn we are told that the Dagda is Brigid’s father and that he also had a son named Aed; interestingly saint Brigid also was associated with a person named Aed, in this case a fellow saint. Saint Aed was said to have founded a monastery with buildings dedicated to saint Brigid and saint Brigid was said to have invoked the name of saint Aed to miraculously cure a headache (McCone, 2000).  Those seeking to connect to the Goddess today will have to decide for themselves what they feel genuinely reflects older pagan beliefs and what may have evolved in the later Christian period.
   Saint Brigid was reputed to be the best brewer in Ireland, and her association with beer, ale, and brewing were shared by her counterparts the Welsh Saint Ffraid and the Scottish saint Bride. This particular association may reflect and older pagan belief connected to Brigid of Smithcraft, as it was not uncommon for smith deities to also be Gods of brewing. The Irish smith God Goibniu, for example was associated with brewing as well as smithing. Goibniu had a special mead or ale called the fled Goibnenn, “drink of Goibniu”, that conveyed the gift of youth and immortality to the Tuatha De Danann (O hOgain, 2006). Similarly the Welsh Gofannon was a brewer as well as smith and the Gaulish Secullos, the “Good striker”, although not known explicitly as a smith God was depicted with a hammer and associated with wine.

    Saint Brigid is most strongly associated with Kildare where her church stands near her sacred healing well; the church itself features a perpetual flame tended by Brigadine nuns. Although the perpetual flame cannot be traced with certainty back to the Irish pagan period Brigid’s British counterpart Brigantia had a temple under the guise of Brigantia-Minerva which also featured a perpetual flame (Puhvel, 1987). The Irish saint Brigid and the Scottish saint Bride are believed to be both the midwife and foster-mother of Jesus Christ and both are very strongly connected to childbirth, potentially reflecting older mother Goddess concepts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Read All the Things!

  Those of you who enjoy my translation efforts, don't worry I have some interesting bits about Tech Duinn and Donn coming out tomorrow, but today I wanted to shift back a bit into a more discussion style blog.
    I've noticed a trend lately of people asking for opinions about books and getting some strangely territorial responses. What I mean by that is responses which seem to assume there is one - and only one - book worth getting on a particular subject. It can get very Highlander-esque ("There can be only one!") with people advocating for one book and putting down others like there was some sort of epic prize to be won.
my son with volume 1 of Air n-Aithesc a peer reviewed CR journal. He has good taste in reading material

   First of all, book recommendations will always be highly personal. The book one person loves another person may not be able to finish. So there is that, and we should never forget that a recommendation is really just an opinion about what someone liked. In some cases it isn't even about whether the book is good or bad, just whether it resonated with that person. My preferences tend to extremes - either dry and academic or highly engaging and experiential; some people may like one or the other but many people don't like either. Just like I like chocolate ice cream, but someone else might not; that doesn't mean chocolate ice cream is bad per se.
   Secondly, what a person wants to get out of the book and their own background matters. If someone who is coming from a very neo-pagan background asks me for a book recommendation on Celtic paganism my response will be different than if someone who is coming from a CR approach asks the same question. Context mattes.
   Speaking of context. There's this strange idea that I've seen floating around that if a book is too "Wiccan*" or "New age**" it is somehow flawed or inferior. Let's get something straight here if you are neopagan or worshiping in a neopagan dynamic then there is nothing wrong with books written to cater to that market. While I may be one of the first people to jump on bad scholarship, modern pagan practice is not synonymous with a lack of knowledge of the subject. I have read some very good neopagan books and while that may not be my personal spiritual approach that doesn't detract from the quality of the book itself. I have also read some really awful books and articles written by people claiming a reconstructionist or polytheist approach, so its not as if we can or should assume that neopagan equals poor quality and recon equals good quality. It would be really awesome if we, as a wider community, could cut out the more-pagan-than-thou-better-scholarship-than-thou attitudes. It isn't a competition.
Variety is your friend

   Thirdly, it is entirely possible to recommend a book without putting down every other similar book. It doesn't have to be about how much you loved that one book because everything else ever written about the subject is garbage. I have never seen any subject where there is only one good book in existence on the topic. Also it is possible to recommend a book that you don't like - I do it all the time when I recommend Hutton's 'Blood and Mistletoe' which I can't personally stand but which I admit is a good basic survey of what we do and don't know about the Druids.
   Now in fairness, yes I have written book reviews and publicly said that people should avoid certain books *coughWittacough* for a variety of reasons. And if you have a really valid reason to tell someone not to read something - that it's plagiarism, that it's a disaster of inaccurate info mislabeled, that it has dangerous advice in it - then just be really clear on why you think people shouldn't read it. The reason really should be a lot more than just I didn't like it, or it didn't do anything for me personally.
    In the end it is a truism that we learn from all the sources, good, bad, and blah. Everything we read, every experience we have, contributes to our overall understanding. The key is to keep an open mind and always by willing to re-assess and change your view if you find out a source you liked wasn't accurate, or new information on a subject emerges.
   So read all the things. All of them.
   Ipsa scientia potestas est.

*obviously not referencing British Trad Wicca, but being used as a general term for Wiccan style neopaganism
** also not referencing actual New age material, but apparently being used as a pejorative.

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

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Articles, Manuscripts, and Essays, oh my!


I have really not done well keeping up with the blog this month and I apologize. I'm gearing up for the second annual Morrigan's Call retreat next month and have also been in the middle of several larger writing projects. 
  I recently finished up my 13th manuscript, a book for the Pagan Portals series. This one, like my Fairy Witchcraft and Morrigan books, is meant to be a basic introduction to a topic in this case the topic is Irish Reconstructionist Polytheism. the final draft is with my publisher and I'm hoping the book will be released in October, although I haven't gotten a date yet. Meanwhile I'm still plugging away at book #14, a full length book on Fairy Witchcraft to expand on the Pagan Portals introduction. I am also working on my own full translation of the Cath Maige Tuired and as part of that have translated all of the appearances of the Morrigan within that story; from that I wrote a 5,000 word article which I've submitted to the CR journal Air n-Aithesc for their fall issue. I'm pretty excited about that article actually, as I think its one of my best to date. I'm also working on a second piece on ritual sacrifice and feasting in Iron age Ireland for the same journal as well as an essay on Macha as a goddess of sovereignty for an anthology due out the end of this year.
   So I've been rather busy and as tends to happen the blog is showing signs of neglect. Hopefully I'll have a smidge more time soon to get more written over here. 

Copyright Morgan Daimler

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review - A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality

 I have to start by saying that I met Lora O'Brien at Pantheacon 2015 and was fortunate enough to be able to take several of her workshops. I found that she and I had a very similar perspective on most things relating to Irish paganism, the Morrigan, and the Fair Folk. I decided to review her book A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality: Sli Aon Dhraoi because I read it when it was first released (long before meeting her) and liked it and wanted to offer a positive book review for the blog today. As always I will approach this book review in an honest manner and please trust that I like her book on it's own merits, however I'm acknowledging a potential bias up-front.

   The book is written in an engaging manner, with the author often writing as if she were speaking directly to the reader. This is a style that I personally enjoy very much and it reminded me strongly of one of my favorite neopagan books, Lilith McLelland's Out of the Shadows *. I tend to read a lot of academic material so it's really refreshing to read something with a friendlier tone that manages to find that balance between being down-to-earth without feeling too simple. The book is also written with a dry humor and hint of sarcasm that personally appeals to me, although I can't say how others might take it.
   The text is broken up, aptly enough, into three sections each with three chapters. The first section is centered around the "World of Earth" and includes chapters on ancestry, ancient places, and sacred cycles. The second section, the "World of Sea" has chapters on the sidhe, gods & goddesses, and otherworld journeys. The final section is the "World of Air" with chapters on magical crafts, literature, and priesthood & community. Each chapter covers the author's thoughts and opinions on that particular topic, in some cases very direct and strong views and in others more reserved and encouraging the reader to decide for themselves. For example the chapter on holidays - "Sacred Cycles" - offers some basic information, some insight into the author's own experiences and practices, and encourages the reader to take a hard look at what they already know and how they personally connect to the cycle of the year. In short, this chapter urges the reader to examine their own sacred cycle and relationship to the pagan holidays, rather than filling them up with rote information and how-to's. In contrast the chapter on the sidhe takes a very no-nonsense approach, including solid traditional material and blunt modern views which seem (and rightly so as far as I'm concerned) meant to get the daft new age idea of twee little fairies out of peoples' heads.
   Each chapter starts with a bit encouraging the reader to stop and write down what they know or think about the topic of that section, and in fact there is a great deal of encouragement throughout the book for the reader to journal their thoughts and experiences. It then goes on to include the author's thoughts, opinions, and research, which is all very well done and referenced although I wish the book included a bibliography. Each chapter also includes a guided meditation suited to the topic. The meditation combined with the urging to journal give the text a feel of a workbook that could be very good for beginners or those looking to re-invigorate their spiritual practice. This book isn't just about learning what Irish paganism is, it's about actually living it.
   Overall I really enjoyed this one. I don't agree with everything the author says, but that usually comes down to differences of opinion on some details of belief. I love the amount of scholarship woven into such a practical hands-on style book, and I like that the author doesn't pull any punches, for example her blunt reproach to people mucking up historical sacred sites with candle wax, fire pits, non-degradable offerings, and general litter. There are very few modern Irish pagan books that fall into the neopagan category that I can or would  unequivocally  recommend and this one falls solidly on that short list.**


*Sadly long out of print although it is now available in ebook only.
** I also really like the author's earlier work Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch which came out in 2005. That one makes it on my short list for books I'm willing to recommend on the subject of modern Irish witchcraft.

Copyright Morgan Daimler

Monday, April 27, 2015

Book Review: Feast of the Morrigan


I’m doing this book review for Christopher Penzcak's Feast of the Morrigan a little bit differently. This is a book that is often brought up and that people really like, and it has its good points for modern practice. The author is very clear that his own approach, and that of the rituals and meditations he provides, is based in Wicca and neopagan witchcraft and for people utilizing that style I’m sure what he offers is quite valid. However there are some important issues with the book, specifically inaccuracies in the mythology, that make it problematic. It also badly needed an editor, preferably one familiar with Irish, but I’ll leave that aside as well, except to say that there are numerous spelling errors throughout. It’s the details from the myths I want to discuss here, with the understanding that the book’s sections on practice and modern experience are not at issue. My approach will be to first offer the passage or comment that is inaccurate and then the correct material with citation.

Chapter 1, page 17 – The author states that the Morrigan is never explicitly called a Goddess in the mythology.
Reality: The Morrigan is called a Goddess at least twice that I am aware of. In the Metrical Dindshenchas, poem 49 which can be found here: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/G106500D/
Which says: “dosrocht ben in Dagda;ba samla día sóach” (Arrived the wife of the Dagda; a phantom is the youthful/shapechanging Goddess)  In the Tochmarch Emire we also have this: "‘H-i Ross Bodbo .i. na Morrighno, ar iss ed a ross-side Crich Roiss& iss i an bodb catha h-i & is fria id-beurur bee Neid .i. bandee incatæ, uair is inann be Neid & dia cathæ’. ("In the Wood of Badb, that is of the Morrigu, therefore her proven-wood the land of Ross, and she is the Battle-Crow and is also called the woman of Neit, that is Goddess of Battle,because Neit is also a God of Battle.")  I have quoted them in the original language to illustrate that the word used in is fact “goddess” (dia/dee), however both are also available in English translations, and one of the sources that Penczak has in his bibliography is a dissertation by Gulermovich-Epstein that I know includes the fact that the Morrigan is referred to as a Goddess in the Irish material.


Chapter 1, page 21 – the author states that Tuatha De Danann literally means “Children of Danu”
Reality – Tuatha De Danann most likely means People of Danann (aka Danu) but may mean People of skill as well. Either way the word Tuatha does not mean children.


Chapter 1, page 22 – the author states that the Morrigan had to be petitioned to gain her advice and aid in the second battle of Moytura
Reality – although a very common belief there is nothing in the actual mythology which states this.


Chapter 1, page 23 – the author says that during the Cath Maige Tuired the Dagda sought out the Morrigan and found her washing her clothes with her red hair in 9 tresses. He connects the clothes washing to washer at the ford type activity. 
Reality – In the story, which can be found in English here http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T300011.html  the Dagda and Morrigan have an arraignment to meet on the same day every year - Bai dno bandal forsin Dagdae dia bliadnae imon samain an catha oc Glind Edind. (The Dagda was to meet a woman on a day,yearly, about Samain of the battle at Glen Etin.) So he did not seek her out,rather it was a prearranged meeting. She was not washing her clothes but rather was washing her genitals and her hair color is never mentioned.


Chapter 1, page 23 – further on discussing the same story the author says that the Morrigan promised to take“the heart’s blood and testicles” from a Fomorian king – this is repeated in Chapter 6, page 111
Reality – I suspect this confusion comes from a source used by the author, but since none are cited I can only guess. The passage actually says “crú a cride ocus airned a gailie” she will take the blood of his heart and kidneys of his battle-ardor. The crux of this confusion is the word airned which means kidneys, but is used in an idiom for testicles with toile, which means among other things will power and sexual desire (so airned toile, literally sexual kidneys). However, the passage does not say airned toile, just airned – so kidneys is what it means, not testicles.


Chapter 1, page 23 – continuing with the same story, the author states that the daughter of the Fomorian king is name is Boand.
Reality – the Fomorian king’s daughter is never named in the passage in the Cath Maige Tuired.


Chapter 1, page 24 – the author states that the Tuatha De Danann arrived in Ireland as a flock of blackbirds;this is repeated in Chapter 7 page 125
Reality – this is found in the Cath Maige Tuired Cunga here http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/1maghtured.html it was a vision of a Fir Bolg king, not an actual occurrence: “He told his wizard, Cesard, that he had seen, a vision. ‘What was the vision?’ asked Cesard. ‘I saw a great flock of black birds,’ said the king, ‘coming from the depths of the Ocean.” This vision is then interpreted as an omen of invasion.


Chapter 2, page 36 – the author states that Badb spread the news of the Gods’ victory after the battle with the Fomorians in the form of a crow
Reality – again from the Cath MaigeTuired http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T300011.html
there is no indication of this. Badb is mentioned in relation to spreading the news after the battle, but there is no mention of her doing so in the form of a crow


Chapter 2, page 36 – the author states that badb is also a term for sacrificial victims
Reality – I have never heard of this before and cannot verify it any Irish or Old Irish dictionary.


Chapter 2, page 38 – the author mentions that the lines towards the end of the Morrigan’s final prophecy seem like a “possible admonition against homosexuality”
Reality – again this is less an issue with the author specifically but rather of the translation being misunderstood. The passage says “Ragaid mac i lligie a athar. Ragaid athair alligi a meic.” (The son will go lay down instead of his father. The father will go lay down instead of his son.) Grey gives this however as “the son will enter into his father’s bed. The father will enter into his son’s bed”. The passage is not condemning homosexuality however, which the Irish did not seem overly concerned with, but rather condemning incest. The next lines are:  Climain cach a brathar. Ní sia nech mnai assatigh. (In-law each to his own kinsman. A person will not seek women out of his house.)

Chapter 2, page 43 – the author expounds on Macha’s acorn crop and its possible connection to druids, oaks, and ritual sacrifice.
Reality – Possibly a quibble on my part. Again this is a language issue. There are several words for acorn in Old Irish -  daurgne, dercu, and mesóc,however the phrase the author is discussing – mesrad Machae – is talking about mesrad which is a word that means any nut or tree-produce – although it can and does apply to acorns it is not exclusive to that type of nut and the phrase,which is found in the Sanas Cormac is using mesrad as part of analogy “mesrad Machæ .i. cendæ doine iarna n-airlech” (Macha’s crop, that is men’s heads after the slaughter). It is usually given in English as “mast” but I have seen it translated as acorn, however that is like taking the word nut and saying it means acorn, if you follow what I’m saying.


Chapter 3, page 53 – The author states that the names Morrigan and Morgan sound similar, which supports a connection between the Irish Morrigan and Welsh Morgana le Fey
Reality – the modern Anglecized version of these names do sound somewhat alike. However the names in the original languages do not. I recommend this article for clarification“Concerning the Names
Morgan, Morgana, Morgaine,Muirghein, Morrigan, and the Like” by Heather Rose Jones http://medievalscotland.org/problem/names/morgan.shtml
The short version would be that in the original languages Morgan was pronounced mor-GANT while Morrigan was pronounced MORE-ih-guhn


Chapter 3, page 57 – the author states that the Tuatha De Danann retreated beneath the land rather than risk it’s destruction in a battle with the Milesians
Reality – when the Milesians arrived they fought an epic battle against the Gods before winning the right to live in Ireland. This story can be found in the Lebor Gabala Erenn, volume 5 which can be read online here http://sejh.pagesperso-orange.fr/keltia/leborgab/milesians-r3.html


Chapter 4, page 66 – the author states that the flag of Connacht has a griffon on it
Reality – the flag of Connacht has an eagle on it http://history-ireland.blogspot.com/2012/12/connacht-flag.html


Chapter 4, page 69 – the author states that the “goddess of the land” meets and marries the invading Gaels
Reality – Again from the Lebor Gabala Erenn, volume 5 which can be read online herehttp://sejh.pagesperso-orange.fr/keltia/leborgab/milesians-r3.html
 when the Milesians first arrive they do encounter each of the three sovereignty goddesses in turn and make agreements with them – but there is no marriage involved.


Chapter 4, page 75 – the author states that Connacht has no physical locations associated with the Morrigan
Reality – Uaimh na gCat is located in Connacht and is one of the most well-known sites associated with the Morrigan. http://storyarchaeology.com/uaimh-na-gcait-oweynagat/


Chapter 5, page 86 – the author states that our knowledge of the animals associated with the Morrigan comes mostly from the Morrigan’s stories and says that justifies looking to other cultures to understand these animals
Reality – we have a fairly rich amount of animal lore from and Irish and Celtic perspective surrounding crows,ravens, wolves, cows, horses, and somewhat less about eels. These animals appear in many myths and stories separate from the Morrigan. Glynn Anderson has a book on Irish birds in myth and folklore and Miranda Green wrote book about animals in Celtic myth, for two examples.

Chapter 6, page 89 – the author states that the Morrigan appears to Cu Chulain as a three teated cow that he drinks from
Reality – in the Tain Bo Cuiligne the Morrigan appears as an old woman with such a cow, but she is not the cow herself.


Chapter 6, page 114 – the author states that in an interaction between the Morrigan and Cu Chulain where she appears with a cow, he challenges her and she disappears but leaves behind a crow
Reality – in that story, the Tain Bo Regamna, the Morrigan transforms into the crow and continues trading insults and incitements with Cu Chulain.  The story an be read here http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2015/03/tain-bo-regamna.html


Chapter 6, page 114 – the author states that the Morrigan attacks Cu Chulain as a wolf who causes a stampede of cows to attack him.
Reality – this occurs in the Tain Bo Cuiligne, but conflates two different events. The Morrigan attacks Cu Chulainin the form of a wolf and injures his arm, and then returns in the form of a cow and causes a stampede. there is a version of the Tain by Dunn which does mention cows stampeding when she attacks him as a wolf, but nonetheless it is the wolf biting him that is the actual attack even in that version, not the wolf driving the cows against him. In the majority of versions I have read the wolf comes against him alone and the cows are a separate event entirely. 


Chapter 7, page 122 – the author states that he cannot find anything in Irish myth about the Morrigan having a son with three hearts filled with serpents that must be killed
Reality – this story appears in the Rennes Dindshenchas under entry 13 Berbas which can be found here http://www.ucd.ie/tlh/trans/ws.rc.15.001.t.text.html


Chapter 7, page 122 – the author states that Badb and Nemain have no children
Reality – Badb has at least two children according to the Lebor Gabala Erenn: Ferr Doman and Fiamain


Chapter 7, page 130 – author states that Bres ruled for 7 years until Nuada’s arm was replaced with one of silver
Reality – although somewhat ambiguous in the Cath Maige Tuired it seems that Nuada’s arm was replaced with a silver arm early. He resumed kingship after the silver arm was replaced with the original, healed, arm.


Chapter 7, page 130 – the author states that the Dagda is not a king
Reality – the Dagda was one of the kings of the Tuatha De Danann and is listed as such in the Lebor Gabala Erenn: "Now Eochaid Ollathair, the great Dagda, son of Elada, was eighty years in the kingship of Ireland." http://sejh.pagesperso-orange.fr/keltia/leborgab/dedana-R2-msD.html


Chapter 7, page 133 – the author states, and repeats, that Lugh’s mother is the Fomorian goddess Tailtiu
Reality – Lugh’s mother is the Fomorian goddess Ethniu. Tailtiu, who is listed among the Fir Bolg, was Lugh’s foster-mother.This information is found in the Lebor Gabala Erenn. From the source: "Taillte daughter of Mag Mor king of Spain, queen of the Fir Bolg... and Cian son of Dian Cecht, otherwise called Scal Balb, gave her his son in fosterage, Lug to wit. Eithne daughter of Balar was his mother."  http://sejh.pagesperso-orange.fr/keltia/leborgab/dedana-R2-msD.html


Glossary, page 183 – Banba is said to be a goddess who is one of the Morrigan or called Morrigan
Reality – Banba is part of a triplicity of sovereignty goddesses with her sisters Eriu and Fotla. She is a sister to the Morrigan but is never, herself, called Morrigan.


So it should be clear from this that there are many issues with the mythology as presented in this book. There were also some other small points which I did not get into as they may be more issues of interpretation, however I think the ones that are discussed here seriously compromise the value of the book. Sadly I am all too aware that many people will never read the original myths and stories and instead rely on secondary sources such as this book, and I believe it is very important because of that for books like this to strive to be accurate in what they present. These are not, for the most part, issues in how one looks at the stories or what one takes away from them but are problems with the myths and other information being wrong. Inarguably, factually, wrong. We can do better than this, moving forward as Irish pagans. The rituals and modern practical material may very well be fine and speak to many people, but it is vital that we get the mythology and facts correct to go along with them.

Copyright Morgan Daimler