Looking back and forward

As one year draws to a close, it is a great time to reflect on both your achievements and failures of the past year.

What are you most proud of? and what are you most ashamed of?

What are you strengths and weaknesses? In a year of great pressure and living in bubbles we have all exposed both. Some of us have adapted extremely well, whilst others have been badly affected mentally, physically and spiritually. We’ve probably all had our ups and downs.

Loneliness has been extremely difficult for many. Livelihoods of many have been put in jeopardy. Businesses have closed, whilst jobs in the health sectors and care have become new vocations for many.

Sadly many people have suffered losses and have moved on into the next life. It is the ones left behind who suffer though and it has been a year of grief.

Remember, you are never alone in your suffering and the majority of people have shown great adaptability and resilience during 2020.

Many people actually do care for others, although social media can be a vicious, cruel place. Sometimes we say something that we later regret, maybe a comment or a post. It takes great humility to apologise and delete unintentional hurtful comments. Sadly, some prominent, famous, respected proud figures would rather dig themselves a bigger hole than apologise. Pride certainly comes before a fall.

Let us always exercise kindness and acceptance. We aren’t here to pass judgment on any gender, sexuality, faith, ethnicity, disability or addictions. To do so may elevate ourselves in our own eyes at the expense of others. However, we would lose total respect by the majority of people.

Personally I like New Year resolutions, but resolutions need to be an ongoing thing, reviewed and revised throughout the year. Set achievable, but realistic goals for yourself.

But most of all, have a happy, healthy and fulfilling New Year. Thank you for supporting this site in 2020.

I want to bring you more lessons in 2021, with a personal of objective to complete the course and have accredited Bards, Vates and Druids and move us forward.

Filtiarn x

An Mac Tíre: The Wolf and the Irish Son of the Earth; Fact and Lore

In the Brehon Laws, the wolf was dealt with in it’s context for being a threat to young livestock, particularly calves. ‘The Book of Werewolves’, S Baring-Gould. Wolf hunting was considered a public duty, with one law stating that a client had to go on a hunting excursion at least once a week for his landlord. Also, if it was known that a pack of wolves lived in a particular area, it was an offence for someone to drive their neighbours livestock towards them. These Laws even deal with a wolf being taken from the wild and treated as a domestic pet. The Law treated any offences commited by this wolf the same way as a domesticated dog. One thing to note is that the Brehon Laws did not discuss the threat of a wolf to a human as there is nothing mentioned about this scenario. The general consensus would be that such attacks were rare with the exception written in the ‘Annals of Connaught’ 1420 that “many persons were killed by wolves”. It is more than likely a very harsh Winter made the wolves desperate.

The extensive areas of wilderness that existed in Ireland ensured the survival of wolves for a good while with the growing population of humans. ‘The Fauna of Ireland’, FJ O’Rourke. During the 1500’s, there was a substantial trade for wolf skins from Ireland to the port of Bristol with a range of 100-300 skins being exported each year. Up to 1652, wolves were still found in the outskirts of Dublin with a public wolf hunt organised in Castleknock. A Cork city Official wrote in 1698, describing wolves in the city district. As with Irish Catholics, the wolf population also fell foul of the Cromwellian governing body. ‘To Hell or Connaught’, P Ellis-Bereford. The Protestant Planters were horrified that wolves were still common and a bounty was set by the Parliment with £6 per female and £5 per male. Because of this and the ongoing destruction of the Irish natural woodlands, the wolf population decreased rapidly from the 1600’s to the late 1700’s. The last recorded wolf kill was in 1786 by John Watson of Ballydarton, county Carlow who hunted a lone wolf who was killing his livestock of sheep on Mount Leinster.Since then the Irish wolf has been extinct in the country. However all is not lost. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/northern-ireland-public-goes-wild-for-bears-and-wolves-roaming-free-at-sanctuary-in-donegal-38631553.html

In Irish, Mac Tíre is a relatively newer descriptive word and has two other names as well. Bréach and Faol. These are dialect variations that are found in townland names. Foe example, Britway in county Cork in Irish is Bréach Maigh or the Plain of the Wolf, Feltrim, county Dublin is Faol Droim or Wolf Ridge and Clashavictory, county Tipperary is Clais an mhic Tíre or Ravine of the Wolf. There are many more around the country that have these descriptions. ‘Wolf-Forgotten Irish Hunter’, K Hickey.

The above history would suggest that humans and wolves did not get on but it’s qualites were revered and respected by all. It was admired for it’s bravery and warlike attributes which, in legend made the wolf a symbol of kings and warriors. Also, in the legends, it is shown as an animal that responds with good deeds when treated with respect.

When we look at the tales given the Christian filter, especially when they involve saints, their miraclous powers and compassion tame the wolf’s predatory nature. ‘Book of Werewolves’, S Baring-Gould. In ‘The Life of Saint Cainnech’, the saint tames a wolf that had eaten a calf. The owner of the alf complained to Cainnech, who in turn told him to go back to his livestock and clap his hands. When the owner did this, the wolf returned and stood in the place where the calf had normally stood. The cows licked it and accepted its presence, while they were being milked. The wolf returned each morning for the remaining season getting the same treatment. According to ‘The Life of Patrick’, a wolf made off with one of the shepard boys charges and in turn was rebuked by the woman of the house. The next day, the wolf returned with the calf in it’s mouth unharmed and dropped it at the boys feet, before running back to the woods. Saint Colman is supposed to have had a covenant with the wolves in the nearby forest. They would come to hime each day and behave like domesticated dogs around him. Saint Molua is described to have taken pity on a pack of starving wolves by providing them with cooked calf meat in the guest quarters of the monastary. This became an annual event and the wolves protected the monastary and livestock. Another is a tale from ‘De Ingantaib Érenn’ where Patrick’s preaching is vehemetly opposed by the people of Ossary “ It is told that when the holy Patricius preached Christianity in that country, there was one clan which opposed him more stubbornly than any other people in the land; and these people strove to do insult in many ways both to God and to the holy man. And when he was preaching the faith to them as to others and came to confer with them where they held their assemblies, they adopted the plan of howling at him like wolves”. Patrick responded by praying for God to punish the clan, resulting in them suffering “a fitting and severe though very marvelous punishment, for it is told that all the members of that clan are changed into wolves for a period and roam through the woods feeding upon the same food as wolves; but they are worse than wolves, for in all their wiles they have the wit of men, though they are as eager to devour men as to destroy other creatures.”

Sounds fantastical and miraclous, doesn’t it. But there could be a logical reason that is unwritten and the wolves could be human. The Irish werewolf is different from the Teutonic or European werewolf, as it is really not a “monster” at all. Unlike its continental cousins, this

shapeshifter is the guardian and protector of children, wounded men and lost persons. According to some ancient sources, the Irish werewolves were even recruited by kings in time of war. Known in their native land as the faoladh or conriocht, their predatory behaviour is typical of the common wolf, not beneath the occasional nocturnal raid. It’s a possibility that the saints came across them or employed their services. In some folklore, werewolves became so by donning the hide of a wolf. The people of Ossary could have been a group of mercenary warriors who wore wore pelts as a form of uniform and invoked the attributes of the wolf archetype in their daily lives as the wolf was also a symbol in Early Ireland of people who lived close to nature.

In the Cycles, Lebor Gabala claims that the Tuatha Da Danann roamed Irealnd in the forms of wolves. In the Ulaid Cycle, a poem about Queen Maedbh describes her as “ a fair-haired wolf-queen”, the Ulster warrior Conall Cearnach’s name is derived from ‘cunovalos’ meaning ‘strong like wolf’ and in ‘Táin Bó Cuailnge’, an Morrigú attacks Cú Chulainn in the form of a wolf. In the Osiniac Cycle, Fionn mac Cumhaill is said to have ‘ loved the music of far off wolves leaving their lairs’ and Caoilte of the Fianna recounts ‘the music of the wolves’. The 8th Century text ‘Cormac’s Glossary’ defines wolves as creatures of uplifting howls. In the Cycle of Kings, Cormac McAirt, is nursed by a she-wolf and in ‘Suibhne Geilt’, Mad Sweeney says on his death bed “Ba binne liom robhaoi tan, Danálach na gcon alla, Ina guth cléirigh astaoigh, Ag meilighis ag meigeallaigh.” or as Béarla “It was melodious to me once, the cries of the wolves, than the cleric indoors, a-bleating and a-baaing.”

I could go on about describing the attributes of the wolf archetype but that is subjective and the wolf has a personal meaning to each individual. That is for you to make of alone. Seas os comhair na gealaí agus canadh fonn an mac an tíre. Do amhrán ón taobh istigh. Seán Ó Tuama.

Celtic Christian Druids

Celtic Christian Gravestones

A lot of people assume that because I am a pagan Druid I am anti Christian. Nothing could be further than the truth. The Bible is actually a great resource and the passages in the book of Colossians about “love” are some of the greatest descriptions of love ever written.

Let’s face it, all ancient writings contain a mixture of chaos and order. We can see how society changed from the war mongering Hebrews who killed every man, woman and child at Jericho to the later civilisation that were held in Babylonian captivity and influenced by the Persians, Greeks and Romans.

The sad thing about fundamentalist Christians is that they concentrate too much on the judgmental parts and tend to skip the parts on “unconditional love”, “judge and be judged” and ignoring sins of adultery, whilst condemning entire groups of people as gross sinners.

However, many, many Christians are NOT like that. They run soup kitchens for the poor, they send aid to Africa and the developing world. In my home town, one church started off the very first food bank, which grow un number each year. I love these people and other religious groups that do similar.

I don’t think the vocal minority represent Christians as a whole and most are kind and considerate.

If you are interested in both Druids and Christianity there needn’t be a conflict.

The attached link takes you into a rich resource of material that may interest you. Whether you are pagan or Christian, you are welcome to the Order of Celtic Wolves.

Samhain 2020

 Finally, the time of the end of the old and beginning of the new cycle has arrived. A celebration of a tradition that has survived adversary and those who are supposed to oppose it celebrate it indirectly through evolving traditions. Great fires will be lit heralding the new age and ritually cleansing the land. Sweet treats will be made or bought and used in traditional activities and feasting. Even Chritianity conceded and let the days remain as a celebration and rememberance of our dear departed. The Sídhe wander the land taking offering to quench their thirst for revenge or leave a wake of mischief to lay note that all is not forgotten. Trick or treat anyone? Carving a vegetable to ward off those who seek you harm and lighting a candle in front of photographs of those who passed before you.


 In Ireland, as well as the celebration of the end of harvest (October as Gaeilge is Deireadh Fómhair or End of Harvest),it is the anniversary of many. From the annual tribute of the Neméd to the Fomór , the fatefull battle of the Tower of Conrág, the Fire of Rememberance of the 3 sons of the powerful Tlagtha who died giving birth to them, the 1st and 2nd battles of Moy Turadh to the defeat of the grandson of an Dagda by Fionn MacCumhail at Tara. There are many others. The door of the House of Donn open allowing visits of ancestors to their homes for a brief period and the 4 of the Tuatha Dé who stayed behind after the banishment, wander the nights wreaking trouble and strife upon households of the bloodline of Mil unless an offering is left for them and sate the appetite of an Púca. According to the ‘Flight of Diarmuid and Gráinne’ from the Óisín Cycle, more peaceful of the Sídhe will wage a rivalry with the Mil bloodline in a friendly game of hurling. All of the aforemented survive in some shape or form today. The Old Ways are always remembered.


 This year is different however, with the pandemic. Ireland is in a national lockdown and we cannot travel beyond 5km unless it is for work reasons or essential shopping and cannot have large gatherings in public or at home. We do have to protect one another. And to add to it, there is currently a storm outside, but as I am writing this piece, dawn is breaking and the rain has stopped as well as the clouds parting to offer a great view of the approaching dawn. I can’t go up to the Knocknacoille Stone Circle. Many of us cannot travel to our personal places of ritual decompression but does it matter. The Gods and Goddesses are archetypes of Nature and are always around us. We can perform our own personal ritual decompressions at home either solitary or online if you wish to take part in a large ceremony. It is a time for celebrating the end of Harvest and remembering your loved ones. Perform your decompressions solemnly and enjoy the festivities that you create. Carve your vegetable produce of choice and leave it lit with the offering for an Púca. Light a candle, place it before your cherished photographs with a food offering. Remember those loved ones fondly. Celebrate the day with your family. Bob for apples or wear blindfolds and try to bite the hanging apple. Have a feast of treats with them. Leave out bags of treats for the naughty little Sídhe who come a knocking on your gate or before your door. Recount the legends of old to the young. It is both a time for serious reflection and also fun and games.


 Beannachtaí Laisir Mhór na Samhna agus an timthriall nua ar gach duine. Seán Ó Tuama.

Calan Gaeaf

Whilst we are familiar with Samhain, which originates in Ireland and Scotland, we should also acknowledge Calan Gaeaf, an ancient Welsh celebration with lots of similarities with Samhain and Halloween.

Calan Gaeaf is the name of the first day of winter in Wales, observed on 1 November. The night before is Noson Galan Gaeaf, an Ysbrydnos (English – Spirit Night) when spirits are abroad.

Children building a Coelcerth

During Calan Gaeaf, children and women would dance around a village fire (Coelcerth) and everyone would write their names on rocks and place them in and around said fire. When the fire started to die out they would all run home, believing if they stayed, Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta (the tailless black sow) would devour their souls.

The following morning, all the stones would be checked. If a stone was missing, the person who wrote their name on the absent stone would be believed to die within one year.

Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta

Adref, adref, am y cyntaf’,
Hwch ddu gwta a gipio’r ola’.

Home, home, at once
The tailless black sow shall snatch the last.

The Celtic Origin of Halloween

During the second battle of Mag Tuired on the Eve of Samhain those slain by the Fomorians were brought back to life by the magical waters of the Slaine Well to return to battle until their secret was later discovered. Many lost their lives from both sides during battle and this sets the tone for Samhain, a remembrance of those who have passed from this life to the next.

Samhain is one of the four main festivals of the Gaelic calendar, marking the end of the harvest and beginning of winter. In Serglige Con Culainn (‘Cúchulainn’s Sickbed’), it is said that the festival of the Ulaid at Samhain lasted a week. Three days before, Samhain itself, and the three days after.

In public gatherings people feasted, drank alcohol and held contests. Bonfires were lit and stones cast into the fires. Every third Samhain a Gaelic cultural festival was held at Tara and the nobles and Ollams (highest ranking Bards/Poets with equal standing to the king) of Inisfail (Ireland) met to create and renew the Brehon laws, and to feast. Druids lit a sacred bonfire at Tlachtga, making sacrifices to the gods by burning them in the fire.

Ancient Neolithic tombs in Ireland are aligned with the sunrise around the time of Samhain. Samhain is a time when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the Sidhe (the “Fae”), could more easily come into our world. Offerings of food and drink were left outside to appease them. Divination rituals and games were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples. Departed kin were requested to attend feasts and a place set for them. Mummers’ plays and disguises were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door, reciting verses in exchange for food.

An Mac Tíre: The Wolf and the Irish Son of the Earth; Fact and Lore

In the Brehon Laws, the wolf was dealt with in it’s context for being a threat to young livestock, particularly calves. ‘The Book of Werewolves’, S Baring-Gould. Wolf hunting was considered a public duty, with one law stating that a client had to go on a hunting excursion at least once a week for his landlord. Also, if it was known that a pack of wolves lived in a particular area, it was an offence for someone to drive their neighbours livestock towards them. These Laws even deal with a wolf being taken from the wild and treated as a domestic pet. The Law treated any offences commited by this wolf the same way as a domesticated dog. One thing to note is that the Brehon Laws did not discuss the threat of a wolf to a human as there is nothing mentioned about this scenario. The general consensus would be that such attacks were rare with the exception written in the ‘Annals of Connaught’ 1420 that “many persons were killed by wolves”. It is more than likely a very harsh Winter made the wolves desperate.

The extensive areas of wilderness that existed in Ireland ensured the survival of wolves for a good while with the growing population of humans. ‘The Fauna of Ireland’, FJ O’Rourke. During the 1500’s, there was a substantial trade for wolf skins from Ireland to the port of Bristol with a range of 100-300 skins being exported each year. Up to 1652, wolves were still found in the outskirts of Dublin with a public wolf hunt organised in Castleknock. A Cork city Official wrote in 1698, describing wolves in the city district. As with Irish Catholics, the wolf population also fell foul of the Cromwellian governing body. ‘To Hell or Connaught’, P Ellis-Bereford. The Protestant Planters were horrified that wolves were still common and a bounty was set by the Parliment with £6 per female and £5 per male. Because of this and the ongoing destruction of the Irish natural woodlands, the wolf population decreased rapidly from the 1600’s to the late 1700’s. The last recorded wolf kill was in 1786 by John Watson of Ballydarton, county Carlow who hunted a lone wolf who was killing his livestock of sheep on Mount Leinster.Since then the Irish wolf has been extinct in the country. However all is not lost. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/northern-ireland-public-goes-wild-for-bears-and-wolves-roaming-free-at-sanctuary-in-donegal-38631553.html

In Irish, Mac Tíre is a relatively newer descriptive word and has two other names as well. Bréach and Faol. These are dialect variations that are found in townland names. Foe example, Britway in county Cork in Irish is Bréach Maigh or the Plain of the Wolf, Feltrim, county Dublin is Faol Droim or Wolf Ridge and Clashavictory, county Tipperary is Clais an mhic Tíre or Ravine of the Wolf. There are many more around the country that have these descriptions. ‘Wolf-Forgotten Irish Hunter’, K Hickey.

The above history would suggest that humans and wolves did not get on but it’s qualites were revered and respected by all. It was admired for it’s bravery and warlike attributes which, in legend made the wolf a symbol of kings and warriors. Also, in the legends, it is shown as an animal that responds with good deeds when treated with respect.

When we look at the tales given the Christian filter, especially when they involve saints, their miraclous powers and compassion tame the wolf’s predatory nature. ‘Book of Werewolves’, S Baring-Gould. In ‘The Life of Saint Cainnech’, the saint tames a wolf that had eaten a calf. The owner of the alf complained to Cainnech, who in turn told him to go back to his livestock and clap his hands. When the owner did this, the wolf returned and stood in the place where the calf had normally stood. The cows licked it and accepted its presence, while they were being milked. The wolf returned each morning for the remaining season getting the same treatment. According to ‘The Life of Patrick’, a wolf made off with one of the shepard boys charges and in turn was rebuked by the woman of the house. The next day, the wolf returned with the calf in it’s mouth unharmed and dropped it at the boys feet, before running back to the woods. Saint Colman is supposed to have had a covenant with the wolves in the nearby forest. They would come to hime each day and behave like domesticated dogs around him. Saint Molua is described to have taken pity on a pack of starving wolves by providing them with cooked calf meat in the guest quarters of the monastary. This became an annual event and the wolves protected the monastary and livestock. Another is a tale from ‘De Ingantaib Érenn’ where Patrick’s preaching is vehemetly opposed by the people of Ossary “ It is told that when the holy Patricius preached Christianity in that country, there was one clan which opposed him more stubbornly than any other people in the land; and these people strove to do insult in many ways both to God and to the holy man. And when he was preaching the faith to them as to others and came to confer with them where they held their assemblies, they adopted the plan of howling at him like wolves”. Patrick responded by praying for God to punish the clan, resulting in them suffering “a fitting and severe though very marvelous punishment, for it is told that all the members of that clan are changed into wolves for a period and roam through the woods feeding upon the same food as wolves; but they are worse than wolves, for in all their wiles they have the wit of men, though they are as eager to devour men as to destroy other creatures.”

Sounds fantastical and miraclous, doesn’t it. But there could be a logical reason that is unwritten and the wolves could be human. The Irish werewolf is different from the Teutonic or European werewolf, as it is really not a “monster” at all. Unlike its continental cousins, this

shapeshifter is the guardian and protector of children, wounded men and lost persons. According to some ancient sources, the Irish werewolves were even recruited by kings in time of war. Known in their native land as the faoladh or conriocht, their predatory behaviour is typical of the common wolf, not beneath the occasional nocturnal raid. It’s a possibility that the saints came across them or employed their services. In some folklore, werewolves became so by donning the hide of a wolf. The people of Ossary could have been a group of mercenary warriors who wore wore pelts as a form of uniform and invoked the attributes of the wolf archetype in their daily lives as the wolf was also a symbol in Early Ireland of people who lived close to nature.

In the Cycles, Lebor Gabala claims that the Tuatha Da Danann roamed Irealnd in the forms of wolves. In the Ulaid Cycle, a poem about Queen Maedbh describes her as “ a fair-haired wolf-queen”, the Ulster warrior Conall Cearnach’s name is derived from ‘cunovalos’ meaning ‘strong like wolf’ and in ‘Táin Bó Cuailnge’, an Morrigú attacks Cú Chulainn in the form of a wolf. In the Osiniac Cycle, Fionn mac Cumhaill is said to have ‘ loved the music of far off wolves leaving their lairs’ and Caoilte of the Fianna recounts ‘the music of the wolves’. The 8th Century text ‘Cormac’s Glossary’ defines wolves as creatures of uplifting howls. In the Cycle of Kings, Cormac McAirt, is nursed by a she-wolf and in ‘Suibhne Geilt’, Mad Sweeney says on his death bed “Ba binne liom robhaoi tan, Danálach na gcon alla, Ina guth cléirigh astaoigh, Ag meilighis ag meigeallaigh.” or as Béarla “It was melodious to me once, the cries of the wolves, than the cleric indoors, a-bleating and a-baaing.”

I could go on about describing the attributes of the wolf archetype but that is subjective and the wolf has a personal meaning to each individual. That is for you to make of alone. Seas os comhair na gealaí agus canadh fonn an mac an tíre. Do amhrán ón taobh istigh. Seán Ó Tuama.

The Threefold Path

Up in the hills of Muskerry in West Cork, there are 3 sites. One is a Wedge Tomb, Knocknakilla Stone Circle complex and the Tobar Eoighan Naofa (Well of St. John), all within a 5 mile radius of each other. According to Google Maps, it takes an hour to travel by car but it’s obvious they never physically mapped it as it takes longer due to the nature of Irish backroads and you can’t travel safely the at 80 km per hour (the Irish way of saying slow down is post a high speed limit on a dodgy looking road. Unless you have a deathwish, you will adhere to caution and take your time unless you want to travel to the other side of the planet via giant potholes or blowing your horn at cattle in the middle of a field that you wound up by missing that sharp bend).

Knocknakilla is an interesting stone circle. It comprises of two large portal stones that are outside a much smaller 5 stone ring and there is a minature stone circle to the SouthEast. It is listed as a heritage site but has never been repaired. The area is resting on a bog (on the side of a mountain??) andd one of the portal stones has fallen as wel as the smallest stone in the ring (the altar stone). Nevertheless it is visited at times of ritual decompression as when the first time I was there, there was evidence of Wicca with coloured candles and dreamcatchers left there and I met 3 of them at dawn one morning earlier this year. Knocknakilla is the anglicised name for Cnoc na Coille which translates to the Hill/Mound of the Church in old Irish. I have travelled here on a number of occassions for ritual decompressions when weather permits. It’s highly dangerous up there when raining or after rain. I have also planted a stave dedicated to Brighid of the Forge in the centre of the main stone circle (which was removed by persons unknown). Brighid of the Forge is the main archetype whom I internalise/invoke and there is a reason why I call upon her presence there (apart from the area being covered in Rushes).

Further up the road, an Tobar Eoighan Naofa looks out north. It is a Scared Well dedicated to St. John and the Stations of the Cross are held there but it has a history that goes beyond Christianity. St. John had 3 sisters who were nuns, St. Lasair, St. Inion and St. Latiaran (all nuns of Cullen) it was dedicated to Latiaran celebrating lasair ( flame) at Imbolg , Inghné Bhuídhe ( yellow hair in old Irish, modern Irish is gruaige buí) at Bealtine and Latiaran at Lugnasadh. The aspects seem to follow the growth of cereal crops and with the it’s also possible that she is the Goddess Brighid. The reasoning for this could also be that she falls into the terra forming category as she is also given the title, the Musker Cailleach and the relation to Lasair which translates to eternal flame. The more recent story variation is that she was a wise giantess who carried boulders on her apron and accidently dropped some on her journeys which formed the Muskerry hills (if you have ever driven up here, they are small mountains not hills). There is an Irish Historic Footnote at the site explaining this (I’m surprised that the Church authorities allowed its erection) but it does not go into detail so I had to research further into the 3 names. I looked into the local folklore tales of the townplace of Cullen.

The Wdege Tomb is in a field further down the mountain but there are no records about it as the same with many others of its kind so no one knows who was buried there. It would not be wrong to presume that it is the marked grave of a high ranking individual as there are many graves found in other complexes with adornments found on archaeological digs belonging to that class.

Okay, enough with the local Irish cultural and history lesson. The 3 aspects of the Goddess Brighid convey a lot of meaning to me personally. To some, the perception of the 3 relate to maiden, mother and Cailleach but it is also important that Brighid is not only one of many Irish harvest Goddesses but also of the Forge. In Irish society from when, I am not sure but up to the late 1950’s at least, rural farmers were also the local blacksmith. From this, it is not difficult to see how both farming and smithing can combine. On the farming side, birth, maturation and reaping. From the forge, furnace, tools and strength of tempering. There is another aspect and that is of the warrior as she fought on the battlefield with the Tuatha Dé against the Fomórians in the second battle of Moytura and the cry of her mourning for her slain son ( Ruadan the smithing seed of both Fomórian and Tuatha Dé) became the signal for battle. Thusly, farming, smithing and battle are the 3 aspects of Brighid that interweave to become inspiration, learning and the abiltiy to use the lessons learned in my everyday life or the path I walk. Maybe you see this or maybe you see other aspects. The Triskelle or Triquetra revolves on many points of it’s circumference.

Go raibh maith agat as do chuid ama agus go mbeannaí an bandia duit go léir.
Seán Ó Tuama.

An Cailleach Bhéarthach and the Walker

A good time ago, there was a man, during the time of an Cailleach Bhéarthach that lived at the foot of the Néifinn mountains in County Mayo, and he thought he was a good man for walking as there was in Ireland. But he knew that an Cailleach Béarthach was that bit better than him. So he decided to go and speak with her and take her walking so that he could see how much walking she was able to do more than himself. And he came to her and said that he had business to do in Galway and he asked an Cailleach to accompany him, that there maybe something she may want to purchase in town. She agreed, as she said she needed to get some teasing cards, to card her wool and that, as he was going there, they would go together. She added that it was much better company to have the two of them walking together rather than one person walking on their own.

They got themselves ready and they started off on the walk and it didn’t take them very long until they were in Galway. They had their dinner and an Cailleach bought her teasing cards. When they had all the things bought that they requried-bits and pieces-they set off for home again. They were walking on strongly, sometimes half running, half trotting and it wasn’t long until they were almost at the foot of the Néifinn mountains. But they came to a big river that faced them on their journey. The roads weren’t there at that time like they are now. And they met up with another man who was going some of the way in the same direction they were going themselves. When they got to the river an Cailleach made a run, carrying off with her, under her arm the man who was her companion for the day, and gave a leap across the river. When she brought her companion across the river under her arm, the other man wasn’t able to jump across at all-not even halfway. And the spot where there was a waterfall and a fording place to cross over by, was nine or ten miles away from them. An Cailleach and the man she took across under her arm, had, indeed, made a great shortcut.

“What harm did I do to you”, said the man she had left behind on the otherside, “that you didn’t bring me across like the other man?” “You did not do me a bit of harm”, she said, “but let those things stay unreconciled.” She left him there, though he had never done anything wrong to her, because she thought that it wouldn’t be right for her to be coming to the aid of every last person.

When she was parting from the man who had been her companion for the day, an Cailleach was going a bit farther, she knew full well that he was tiring from the walking. She asked him, “Does your wife have much butter in the house?” “She has some”, he said,” and a few crocks of butter.” “Well, when you get home tonight”, she said,”ask your wife to fetcha crock of butter and to put it with its bottom facing the fire and its mouth away from the fire.” “And let you put the soles of your too feet”, she said, “on top of the butter at the mouth of the crock and stay like that until tomorrow. If you don’t do that”, she said, “you’ll be dead by morning.”

He did as an Cailleach instructed him. He asked of his wife to get the crock of butter and position it. Then he took of his shoes and stockings and put his too feet onto the butter in the mouth of the crock. And by morning every last morsel of the butter had soaked into his feet. And only for that he was dead from the exertion of the day’s walking with an Cailleach.

When an Cailleach arrived home, she took a can with her and milked her goats; and then she had them all milked and settled down before the sun set at the foot of the Néifinn mountains of County Mayo.

The above Cailleach, an Cailleach Béarthach, is the evolution of the fertility goddess, Flidas of County Mayo legends, from goddess to wisewoman or to use other terms that I find personally distasteful, a hag or witch especially when Her description is that of beauty. The tale is a also another evolution, with the advent of Christian Ireland, with hidden meanings of a much older legend. Like all legends or folktales, this serves as a teaching tool as well as entertainment.

The above narrative came be viewed as personal learning path taken on a spiritual or psychological level. When invoking or internalising an archetype, it is what you personally take from the experience is what you learn from. Even in a group setting, a ceremony or ritual still reaches to you on a personal level that differs from the others. The extra companion can be seen as a teacher, research or others in a group. They can only take you so far. When you reach the river, the companion(s) is left behind so that you take the journey yourself with your archetype alone. Take what you personally learned and meditate on it or else the whole process or journey will be dead or lost to you. External dogmatic structures can only take you so far. The journey and leap is yours alone to take.

Go raibh maith agat as do chuid ama a thógáil chun é seo a léamh agus an léim a dhéanamh trasna na habhann.
Seán Ó Tuama.

The Dúile

Ancient Ways or 20th Century Neo-Paganism?

In this written piece, I am not deliberately trying to dispell notions that are modern ideals of neo-paganism believed to be that of ancient paths, but tracing their origins. In this one in particular, the Dúile or the Nine Elements will be examined. It is important to remember that in Ireland, in particular, there is no written evidence handed down through the generations as everything was transferred from generation to generation orally. Ogham is believed by the archaeological community to date back as far as the 5th Century, used as commerations of names on stone and monks transcribed the sagas of old onto manuscripts from the 8th Century onwards. They also got a Christian twist over time to suit the intergration and establishment of the new religion. In the 17th Century, John Aubrey (1626-1697) brought an interest into the mega and neolithic monuments surrounding the Engilsh countryside (see https://orderofcelticwolves.com/2020/08/03/john-aubrey-founder-of-druid-renaissance/?fbclid=IwAR2PKpFaGS09j2zMKWgt-nJRVVgwvTkA9vcPWPItkBP-k08WrGcQlFwipMQ for more details) and in the late 19th and early 20th Century WB Yeats (1865-1939) (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/william-butler-yeats) brought a renewed interest in Irish mythology through his works in literature and the Arts. Because of these two figures and others, we can try to piece together the jigsaw of how our ancient ancestors society worked through prose, folklore, the old saga’s and archaelogical finds, but there are missing pieces still to be filled. Because of these missing pieces, we all (myself included) try to fill in the gaps with resonating parts of our own personal paradigms. There is no harm in that as long as we are able to accept that we may be wrong when new evidence surfaces and change our perception if need be. The damage that becomes is when we step on a soapbox and beat the air fanatically stating that “this way is the only way” and try to convert a flock of followers into your way of thinking. The true art of imparting wisdom is that others use the knowledge gained in their own way and not become a diluted carbon copy of your path.

So what are the Dúile? These are the Celtic nine elements. Accrording to ‘Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla’ Ó Dónaill 1977, the word could be the plural form of element, creation or life depending on how it is used in a sentence (see https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/D%C3%BAile ).This extract from ‘The Summerlands’ Searle Ó Dubhain 1997 will give an example of what the neopagan idea of these elements http://www.imbas.org/articles/elements_duile.html . We know that Tree-Ogham is a modern construct as the archaelogical finds on Ogham are not all tree related and in some modern texts there are additions that have no historical value except for that of modern divination. In fairness, Ó Dubhain does refer to the archaelogist Macalister’s translation of ‘An Lebor Gabala’ but he has made a mistake. Fintan of the Caesarians narrates the saga, not Ollamh of the Milesians. I believe this to be an unintentional error in Ó Duhnain’s perception of ‘Lebor Gabala’ to suit his ideal of the old ways as it is mixed with mythology of mainland Britain and possibly ‘The White Goddess’ Robert Graves 1948.

The Song of Amergin

Am gáeth i m-muir,
Am tond trethan,
Am fuaim mara,
Am dam secht ndirend,
Am séig i n-aill,
Am dér gréne,
Am cain lubai,
Am torc ar gail,
Am he i l-lind,
Am loch i m-maig,
Am brí a ndai,
Am bri danae,
Am bri i fodb fras feochtu,
Am dé delbas do chind codnu,
Coiche nod gleith clochur slébe?
Cia on co tagair aesa éscai?
Cia du i l-laig fuiniud gréne?
————————————-
I am wind on sea
I am ocean wave
I am roar of sea
I am the stag of seven battles
I am an eagle on the cliff
I am a tear of the sun
I am the fairest of plants
I am a wild boar in valour
I am a salmon in the pool
I am a lake in the plain
I am a hill of poetry
I am a word of knowledge
I am the head of the spear in battle
I am the God that puts fire in the head
Who shed light on uncut dolmen?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who shows the place where the sun sleeps?
If Not I
https://cinematicpoems.com/2019/08/17/song-of-amergin-a-cinematic-poem-short-film-in-ireland-directed-by-arnie-hensman-2019/
As you can see, there is a difference between the original prose and Ó Dubhain’s.

So where do they come from if not Amergin’s tale? The late Victorian Age had developed an interest in Eastern Occultism in the wake of Christianity that was beleaguered by scientific developments and new biblical criticisms. For some, explorations of hermetic thought, ritual magick and romaticised notions of Eastern wisdom plugged the gap left by the decline of Christian dogma, ‘Victorian Occultism and the Making of Modern Magic:Invoking Tradition’ A. Butler 2011. From 1899, Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn (colleagues of Yeats) blended the two in their literary accomplishments. The 9 elements are very similar to the 9 chakras. https://satorirei.com/2015/07/28/the-9-chakras/comment-page-1/ .

Unfortunately the trail goes cold when trying to research the Dúile beyond the Celtic Revival. Others may fair better. I would be better for you to compare the Dúile with the chakras for yourselves and draw your own conclusions rather than go by mine.

Seán Ó Tuama.