Monday, March 31, 2014

Burial Mounds are Where Fairies Live

Burial Mounds are Where Fairies Live

Fairies abodes can be found under many of the burial mounds, in Ireland, England and the Ohio Valley

Burial Mounds are Where Fairies Live.—When I asked Patsy where the fairies live, he turned half around, and pointing in the direction of Dun Aengus, which was in full view on the sharp sky-line of Aranmore, said that there, in a large tumulus on the hill-side below it, they had one of their favourite abodes. But, he added, ‘The rocks are full of them, and they are small fellows.’ Just across the road from where we were standing, in a spot near Oak Quarter, another place was pointed out where the fairies are often seen dancing. The name of it is Moneen an Damhsa, ‘the Little Bog of the Dance.’ Other sorts of fairies live in the sea; and some of them who live on Aranmore (probably in conjunction with those in the sea) go out over the water and cause storms and wind.

Angus Ōg - Irish god of Love

Angus Ōg - Irish god of Love

Angus Ōg (Angus the Young), son of the Dagda, by Boanna (the river Boyne), was the Irish god of love. His palace was supposed to be at New Grange, on the Boyne. Four bright birds that ever hovered about his head were supposed to be his kisses taking shape in this lovely form, and at their singing love came springing up in the hearts of youths and maidens. Once he fell sick of love for a maiden whom he had seen in a dream. He told the cause of his sickness to his mother Boanna, who searched all Ireland for the girl, but could not find her. Then the Dagda was called in, but he too was at a loss, till he called to his aid Bōv the Red, king of the Danaans of Munster—the same whom we have met with in the tale of the Children of Lir, and who was skilled in all mysteries and enchantments. Bōv undertook the search, and after a year had gone by declared that he had found the visionary maiden at a lake called the Lake of the Dragon's Mouth.
Angus goes to Bōv, and, after being entertained by him three days, is brought to the lake shore, where he sees thrice fifty maidens walking in couples, each couple linked by a chain of gold, but one of them is taller than the rest by a head and shoulders. “That is she!” cries Angus. “Tell us by what name she is known.” Bōv answers that her name is Caer, daughter of Ethal Anubal, a prince of the Danaans of Connacht. Angus laments that he is not strong enough to carry her off from her companions, but, on Bōv's advice, betakes himself to Ailell and Maev, the mortal King and Queen of Connacht, for assistance. The Dagda and Angus then both repair to the palace of Ailell, who feasts them for a week, and then asks the cause of their coming. When it is declared he answers, “We have no authority over Ethal Anubal.” They send a message to him, however, asking for the hand of Caer for Angus, but Ethal refuses to give her up. In the end he is besieged by the combined forces of Ailell and the Dagda, and taken prisoner. When Caer is again demanded of him he declares that he cannot comply, “for she is more powerful than I.” He explains that she lives alternately in the form of a maiden and of a swan year and year about, “and on the first of November next,” he says, “you will see her with a hundred and fifty other swans at the Lake of the Dragon's Mouth.”
Angus goes there at the appointed time, and cries to her, “Oh, come and speak to me!” “Who calls me?” asks Caer. Angus explains who he is, and then finds himself transformed into a swan. This is an indication of consent, and he plunges in to join his love in the lake. After that they fly together to the palace on the Boyne, uttering as they go a music so divine that all hearers are lulled to sleep for three days and nights.
Angus is the special deity and friend of beautiful youths and maidens. Dermot of the Love-spot, a follower of Finn mac Cumhal, and lover of Grania, of whom we shall hear later, was bred up with Angus in the palace on the Boyne. He was the typical lover of Irish legend. When he was slain by the wild boar of Ben Bulben, Angus revives him and carries him off to share his immortality in his fairy palace.

Angus Ōg, Irish god of love, New Grange
Angus is the special deity and friend of beautiful youths and maidens

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Celtic Goddess Dana, Mother of the Irish Gods

The Celtic Goddess Dana, Mother of the Irish Gods

The greatest of the Danaan goddesses was Dana, “mother of the Irish gods,” as she is called in an early text. She was daughter of the Dagda, and, like him, associated with ideas of fertility and blessing. According to d'Arbois de Jubainville, she was identical with the goddess Brigit, who was so widely worshipped in Celtica. Brian, Iuchar, and Iucharba are said to have been her sons—these really represent but one person, in the usual Irish fashion of conceiving the divine power in triads. The name of Brian, who takes the lead in all the exploits of the brethren, is a derivation from a more ancient form, Brenos, and under this form was the god to whom the Celts attributed their victories at the Allia and at Delphi, mistaken by Roman and Greek chroniclers for an earthly leader.
Dana, goddess, mother of Irish gids, Dagda, Brigit, Celts,

The greatest of the Danaan goddesses was Dana, “mother of the Irish gods,

Incantations to Protect Children from Fairies

Incantations to Protect Children from Fairies

Nature of the Belief in Fairies.—‘As children we were always afraid of fairies, and were taught to say “God bless them! God bless them!” whenever we heard them mentioned.
‘In our family we always made it a point to have clean water in the house at night for the fairies.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Magic, Witchcraft and the Fairy Faith

Magic, Witchcraft and the Fairy Faith

    The evidence from each Celtic country shows very clearly that magic and witchcraft are inseparably blended in the Fairy-Faith, and that human beings, i. e. ‘charmers,’dynion hysbys, and other magicians, and sorceresses, are often enabled through the aid of fairies to perform the same magical acts as fairies; or, again, like Christian priests who use exorcisms, they are able, acting independently, to counteract fairy power, thereby preventing changelings or curing them, saving churnings, healing man or beast of ‘fairy-strokes’, and, in short, nullifying all undesirable influences emanating from the fairy world. A correct interpretation of these magical elements so prominent in the Fairy-Faith is of fundamental importance, because if made it will set us on one of the main psychical highways which traverse the vast territory of our anthropological inquiry. Let us, then, undertake such an interpretation, first setting up, as we must, some sort of working hypothesis as to what magic is, witchcraft being assumed to be a part of magic.
     The Bible, then so frequently the last court of appeal in such matters, was found to sustain such theories about witches in the classical example of the Witch of Endor and Saul; and the idea of witchcraft in Europe and America came to be based—as it probably always had been in pagan times—on the theory that living persons could control or be controlled by disembodied spirits for evil ends. Hence all black magicians, and what are now known as ‘spirit mediums’, were made liable by law to the death penalty.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Fairy Faith and Excorism

The Fairy Faith and Excorism

In estimating the shaping influences, designated by us as fundamental, which undoubtedly were exerted upon the Fairy-Faith through the practice of exorcism, it is necessary to realize that this animistic practice holds a very important position in the Christian religion which for centuries the Celtic peoples have professed. One of the two chief sacraments of Christianity, that of Baptism, is preceded by a definitely recognized exorcism, as shown in the Roman Ritual, where we can best study it. In the Exhortation preceding the rite the infant is called a slave of the demon, and by baptism is to be set free. The salt which is placed in the mouth of the infant by the priest during the ceremony has first been exorcized by special rites. Then there follows before the entrance to the baptismal font a regular exorcism pronounced over the child: the priest taking some of his own saliva on the thumb of his right hand, touches the child’s 
[Pg 270]ears and nostrils, and commands the demon to depart out of the child. After this part of the ceremony is finished, the priest makes on the child’s forehead a sign of the cross with holy oil. Finally, in due order, comes the actual baptism. And even after baptismal rites have expelled all possessing demons, precautions are necessary against a repossession: St. Augustine has said that exorcisms of precaution ought to be performed over every Christian daily; and it appears that faithful Roman Catholics who each day employ holy water in making the sign of the cross, and all Protestants who pray ‘lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’, are employing such exorcism St. Gregory of Nazianzus writes, ‘Arm yourself with the sign of the cross which the demons fear, and before which they take their flight; and by the same sign, said St. Athanasius, ‘All the illusions of the demon are dissipated and all his snares destroyed.’ An eminent Catholic theologian asserts that saints who, since the time of Jesus Christ, have been endowed with the power of working miracles, have always made use of the sign of the cross in driving out demons, in curing maladies, and in raising the dead. In the Instruction sur le Rituel, it is said that water which has been blessed is particularly designed to be used against demons; in the Apostolic Constitutions, formulated near the end of the fourth century, holy water is designated as a means of purification from sin and of putting the demon to flight. And nowadays when the priest passes through his congregation casting over them holy water, it is as an exorcism of precaution; or when as in France each mourner [Pg 271]at a grave casts holy water over the corpse, it is undoubtedly—whether done consciously as such or not—to protect the soul of the deceased from demons who are held to have as great power over the dead as over the living. Other forms of exorcism, too, are employed. For example, in the Lebar Brecc, it is said of the Holy Scripture that ‘By it the snares of devils and vices are expelled from every faithful one in the Church’.And from all this direct testimony it seems to be clear that many of the chief practices of Christians are exorcisms, so that, like the religion of Zoroaster, the religion founded by Jesus has come to rest, at least in part, upon the basic recognition of an eternal warfare between good and bad spirits for the control of Man.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Food Sacrifice to the Fairies

Food Sacrifice to the Fairies

Food-sacrifice plays a very important rôle in the modern Fairy-Faith, being still practised, as our evidence shows, in each one of the Celtic countries. Without any doubt it is a survival from pagan times, when, as we shall observe later (in and elsewhere), propitiatory offerings were regularly made to the Tuatha De Danann as gods of the earth, and, apparently, to other orders of spiritual beings. The anthropological significance of such food-sacrifice is unmistakable.
With the same propitiatory ends in view as modern Celts now have in offering food to fairies, ancient peoples, e. g. the Greeks and Romans, maintained a state ritual of sacrifices to the gods, genii, daemons, and to the dead. And such sacrifices, so essential a part of most ancient religions, were based on the belief, as stated by Porphyry in his Treatise Concerning Abstinence, that all the various orders of gods, genii or daemons, enjoy as nourishment the odour of burnt offerings. And like the Fairy-Folk, the daemons of the air live not on the gross substance of food, but on its finer invisible essences, conveyed to them most easily on the altar-fire Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, and other leading Greeks, as well as the Romans of a like metaphysical school, unite in declaring the fundamental importance to the welfare of the State of regular sacrifices to the gods and to the daemons who control all natural phenomena, since they caused, if not neglected, abundant harvests and national prosperity. For unto the gods is due by right a part of all things which they give to man for his happiness.
[Pg 280]The relation which the worship of ancestors held to that of the gods above, who are the Olympian Gods, the great Gods, and to the Gods below, who are the Gods of the Dead, and also to the demons, and heroes or divine ancestors, is thus set forth by Plato in his Laws:—‘In the first place, we affirm that next after the Olympian Gods, and the Gods of the State, honour should be given to the Gods below.... Next to these Gods, a wise man will do service to the demons or spirits, and then to the heroes, and after them will follow the sacred places of private and ancestral Gods, having their ritual according to law. Next comes the honour of living parents.’
It is evident from this direct testimony that the same sort of philosophy underlies food-sacrifice among the Celts and other peoples as we discovered underlying human-sacrifice, in our study of the Changeling Belief; and that the Tuatha De Danann in their true mythological nature, and fairies, their modern counterpart, correspond in all essentials to Greek and Roman gods, genii, and demons, and are often confused with the dead.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Native American Belief in Fairies and Elves

Native American Belief if Fairies

In the New World, we find in the North American Red Men a race as much given as the Celts are to a belief in various spirits like fairies. They believe that there are spirits in lakes, in rivers and in waterfalls, in rocks and trees, in the earth and in the air; and that these beings produce storms, droughts, good and bad harvests, abundance and scarcity of game, disease, and the varying fortunes of men. Mr. Leland, who has carefully studied these American beliefs, says that the Un à games-suk, or little spirits inhabiting rocks and streams, play a much more influential part in the social and religious life of the North American Red Men than elves or fairies ever did among the Aryans

Midir the Proud and his Fairy Place

Midir the Proud and his Fairy Place

Henge on the Hill of Tara. 

Midir the Proud is a son of the Dagda. His fairy palace is at Bri Leith, or Slieve Callary, in Co. Longford. He frequently appears in legends dealing partly with human, partly with Danaan personages, and is always represented as a type of splendour in his apparel and in personal beauty. When he appears to King Eochy on the Hill of Tara he is thus described:
“It chanced that Eochaid Airemm, the King of Tara, arose upon a certain fair day in the time of summer; and he ascended the high ground of Tara to behold the plain of Breg; beautiful was the colour of that plain, and there was upon it excellent blossom glowing with all hues that are known. And as the aforesaid Eochy looked about and around him, he saw a young strange warrior upon the high ground at his side. The tunic that the warrior wore was purple in colour, his hair was of a golden yellow, and of such length that it reached to the edge of his shoulders. The eyes of the young warrior were lustrous and grey; in the one hand he held a fine pointed spear, in the other a shield with a white central boss, and with gems of gold upon it. And Eochaid held his peace, for he knew that none such had been in Tara on the night before, and the gate that led into the Liss had not at that time been thrown open.

Midir the Proud, son of Dagda, fairy palace, Bri Leith

Midir the Proud is a son of the Dagda. His fairy palace is at Bri Leith

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Celtic Goddess Morrigan, Embodies the Perverse and Horrible among Supernatural Powers

Celtic Goddess, Morrigan

There was also an extraordinary goddess named the Morrigan, who appears to embody all that is perverse and horrible among supernatural powers. She delighted in setting men at war, and fought among them herself, changing into many frightful shapes and often hovering above fighting armies in the aspect of a crow. She met Cuchulain once and proffered him her love in the guise of a human maid. He refused it, and she persecuted him thenceforward for the most of his life. Warring with him once in the middle of the stream, she turned herself into a water-serpent, and then into a mass of water-weeds, seeking to entangle and drown him. But he conquered and wounded her, and she afterwards became his friend. Before his last battle she passed through Emain Macha at night, and broke the pole of his chariot as a warning.
Morrigan, goddess, Celt, preverse, horrible, supernatural powers,

A goddess named the Morrigan, who appears to embody all that is perverse and horrible among supernatural powers

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Description of the Danaan Story of Cleena's Wave

Description of the Danaan Story of Cleena's Wave

One of the most notable landmarks of Ireland was the Tonn Cliodhna, or “Wave of Cleena,” on the seashore at Glandore Bay, in Co. Cork. The story about Cleena exists in several versions, which do not agree with each other except in so far as she seems to have been a Danaan maiden once living in Mananan's country, the Land of Youth beyond the sea. Escaping thence with a mortal lover, as one of the versions tells, she landed on the southern coast of Ireland, and her lover, Keevan of the Curling Locks, went off to hunt in the woods. Cleena, who remained on the beach, was lulled to sleep by fairy music played by a minstrel of Mananan, when a great wave of the sea swept up and carried her back to Fairyland, leaving her lover desolate. Hence the place was called the Strand of Cleena's Wave.
Landmarks of Ireland, landmarks, Ireland, Dannan, fairy,
Cleena back to Fairyland, leaving her lover desolate. Hence the place was called the Strand of Cleena's Wave

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fairy Goddess Ainé

The Goddess Ainé

Another topical goddess was Ainé, the patroness of Munster, who is still venerated by the people of that county. She was the daughter of the Danaan Owel, a foster-son of Mananan and a Druid. She is in some sort a love-goddess, continually inspiring mortals with passion. She was ravished, it was said, by Ailill Olum, King of Munster, who was slain in consequence by her magic arts, and the story is repeated in far later times about another mortal lover, who was not, however, slain, a Fitzgerald, to whom she bore the famous wizard Earl. Many of the aristocratic families of Munster claimed descent from this union. Her name still clings to the “Hill of Ainé” (Knockainey), near Loch Gur, in Munster. All the Danaan deities in the popular imagination were earth-gods, dei terreni, associated with ideas of fertility and increase. Ainé is not heard much of in the bardic literature, but she is very prominent in the folk-lore of the neighbourhood. At the bidding of her son, Earl Gerald, she planted all Knockainey with pease in a single night. She was, and perhaps still is, worshipped on Midsummer Eve by the peasantry, who carried torches of hay and straw, tied on poles and lighted, round her hill at night. Afterwards they dispersed themselves among their cultivated fields and pastures, waving the torches over the crops and the cattle to bring luck and increase for the following year. On one night, as told by Mr. D. Fitzgerald, who has collected the local traditions about her, the ceremony was omitted owing to the death of one of the neighbours. Yet the peasantry at night saw the torches in greater number than ever circling the hill, and Ainé herself in front, directing and ordering the procession.
On another St. John's Night a number of girls had stayed late on the Hill watching the cliars (torches) and joining in the games. Suddenly Ainé appeared among them, thanked them for the honour they had done her, but said she now wished them to go home, as they wanted the hill to themselves. She let them understand whom she meant by they, for calling some of the girls she made them look through a ring, when behold, the hill appeared crowded with people before invisible.”
“Here,” observed Mr. Alfred Nutt, “we have the antique ritual carried out on a spot hallowed to one of the antique powers, watched over and shared in by those powers themselves. Nowhere save in Gaeldom could be found such a pregnant illustration of the identity of the fairy class with the venerable powers to ensure whose goodwill rites and sacrifices, originally fierce and bloody, now a mere simulacrum of their pristine form, have been performed for countless ages.
Druid, Goddess Ainé, love goddess,
The Goddess Ainé was sort a love-goddess, continually inspiring mortals with passion.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Defeat of the Tuath DeDanaans and their Conversion to Fairies

The Defeat of the Tuath DeDanaans and their Conversion to Fairies

     A great battle with the Danaans at Telltown then follows. The three kings and three queens of the Danaans, with many of their people, are slain, and the children of Miled—the last of the mythical invaders of Ireland—enter upon the sovranty of Ireland. But the People of Dana do not withdraw. By their magic art they cast over themselves a veil of invisibility, which they can put on or off as they choose. There are two Irelands henceforward, the spiritual and the earthly. The Danaans dwell in the spiritual Ireland, which is portioned out among them by their great overlord, the Dagda. Where the human eye can see but green mounds and ramparts, the relics of ruined fortresses or sepulchres, there rise the fairy palaces of the defeated divinities; there they hold their revels in eternal sunshine, nourished by the magic meat and ale that give them undying youth and beauty; and thence they come forth at times to mingle with mortal men in love or in war. The ancient mythical literature conceives them as heroic and splendid in strength and beauty. In later times, and as Christian influences grew stronger, they dwindle into fairies, the People of the Sidhe; but they have never wholly perished; to this day the Land of Youth and its inhabitants live in the imagination of the Irish peasant.
Tuath De Danaans, defeat, magic, mounds, fairies.
The Tuath De Danaan's green mounds and ramparts, the relics of ruined fortresses or sepulchres, there rise the fairy palaces of the defeated divinities

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Celtic god Lir - Danaan divinity, the Father of the Sea-god Mananan

The Celtic god Lir - Danaan divinity, the father of the sea-god Mananan 
The Children of Celtic Danaan god Lir

Lir, Danaan, Celtic Divinity

Lir was a Danaan divinity, the father of the sea-god Mananan who continually occurs in magical tales of the Milesian cycle. He had married in succession two sisters, the second of whom was named Aoife.She was childless, but the former wife of Lir had left him four children, a girl named Fionuala and three boys. The intense love of Lir for the children made the stepmother jealous, and she ultimately resolved on their destruction. It will be observed, by the way, that the People of Dana, though conceived as unaffected by time, and naturally immortal, are nevertheless subject to violent death either at the hands of each other or even of mortals.
With her guilty object in view, Aoife goes on a journey to a neighbouring Danaan king, Bōv the Red, taking the four children with her. Arriving at a lonely place by Lake Derryvaragh, in Westmeath, she [pg 140] orders her attendants to slay the children. They refuse, and rebuke her. Then she resolves to do it herself; but, says the legend, “her womanhood overcame her,” and instead of killing the Children she transforms them by spells of sorcery into four white swans, and lays on them the following doom: three hundred years they are to spend on the waters of Lake Derryvaragh, three hundred on the Straits of Moyle (between Ireland and Scotland), and three hundred on the Atlantic by Erris and Inishglory. After that, “when the woman of the South is mated with the man of the North,” the enchantment is to have an end.
When the children fail to arrive with Aoife at the palace of Bōv her guilt is discovered, and Bōv changes her into “a demon of the air.” She flies forth shrieking, and is heard of no more in the tale. But Lir and Bōv seek out the swan-children, and find that they have not only human speech, but have preserved the characteristic Danaan gift of making wonderful music. From all parts of the island companies of the Danaan folk resort to Lake Derryvaragh to hear this wondrous music and to converse with the swans, and during that time a great peace and gentleness seemed to pervade the land.
But at last the day came for them to leave the fellowship of their kind and take up their life by the wild cliffs and ever angry sea of the northern coast. Here they knew the worst of loneliness, cold, and storm. Forbidden to land, their feathers froze to the rocks in the winter nights, and they were often buffeted and driven apart by storms. As Fionuala sings:
Cruel to us was Aoife
Who played her magic upon us,
And drove us out on the water—
Four wonderful snow-white swans.
Our bath is the frothing brine,
In bays by red rocks guarded;
For mead at our father's table
We drink of the salt, blue sea.
Three sons and a single daughter,
In clefts of the cold rocks dwelling,
The hard rocks, cruel to mortals—
We are full of keening to-night.”
Fionuala, the eldest of the four, takes the lead in all their doings, and mothers the younger children most tenderly, wrapping her plumage round them on nights of frost. At last the time comes to enter on the third and last period of their doom, and they take flight for the western shores of Mayo. Here too they suffer much hardship; but the Milesians have now come into the land, and a young farmer named Evric, dwelling on the shores of Erris Bay, finds out who and what the swans are, and befriends them. To him they tell their story, and through him it is supposed to have been preserved and handed down. When the final period of their suffering is close at hand they resolve to fly towards the palace of their father Lir, who dwells, we are told, at the Hill of the White Field, in Armagh, to see how things have fared with him. They do so; but not knowing what has happened on the coming of the Milesians, they are shocked and bewildered to find nothing but green mounds and whin-bushes and nettles where once stood—and still stands, only that they cannot see it—the palace of their father. Their eyes are holden, we are to understand, because a higher destiny was in store for them than to return to the Land of Youth.
On Erris Bay they hear for the first time the sound of a Christian bell. It comes from the chapel of a hermit who has established himself there. The swans are at first startled and terrified by the “thin, dreadful sound,” but afterwards approach and make themselves known to the hermit, who instructs them in the faith, and they join him in singing the offices of the Church.
Now it happens that a princess of Munster, Deoca, (the “woman of the South”) became betrothed to a Connacht chief named Lairgnen, and begged him as a wedding gift to procure for her the four wonderful singing swans whose fame had come to her. He asks them of the hermit, who refuses to give them up, whereupon the “man of the North” seizes them violently by the silver chains with which the hermit had coupled them, and drags them off to Deoca. This is their last trial. Arrived in her presence, an awful transformation befalls them. The swan plumage falls off, and reveals, not, indeed, the radiant forms of the Danaan divinities, but four withered, snowy-haired, and miserable human beings, shrunken in the decrepitude of their vast old age. Lairgnen flies from the place in horror, but the hermit prepares to administer baptism at once, as death is rapidly approaching them. “Lay us in one grave,” says Fionuala, “and place Conn at my right hand and Fiachra at my left, and Hugh before my face, for there they were wont to be when I sheltered them many a winter night upon the seas of Moyle.” And so it was done, and they went to heaven; but the hermit, it is said, sorrowed for them to the end of his earthly days.
In all Celtic legend there is no more tender and beautiful tale than this of the Children of Lir.
Lir, Danaan, Celtic, father of the seas,
Lir was a Danaan divinity, the father of the sea-god Mananan who continually occurs in magical tales of the Milesian cycle