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.