Articles/Essays From Pagans
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
August 3rd. 2014 ...
Are You a Natural Witch?
You Have to Believe We Are Magic...
July 27th. 2014 ...
Did I Just Draw Down the Moon?
Astrological Ages and the Great Astrological End-Time Cycle
The New Jersey Finishing School for Would-Be Glamour Girls and Boys
July 20th. 2014 ...
Being an Underage Wiccan
Greed, Power, Witches, and the Inquisition
Malleus Maleficarum - The Hammer of the Witches
Thoughts on Ghost Hunting
July 13th. 2014 ...
A World Of Witchcraft: Belief Is Only The Beginning...
From Christian to Pagan (Part III)
My Wiccan Ways...
July 6th. 2014 ...
Keys: Opening the Portals into Other Worlds
The Lore of the Door
Leaves of Love
June 29th. 2014 ...
What Does the Bible Say About Witches and Pagans?
Are You My Familiar ?
Invocations of the God and Goddess
Everything's Alright, Yes: Mary Magdalene
Results Magic and the Moral Compass
June 22nd. 2014 ...
Witchcraft vs. Religion
Christianity and Paganism: Why All Of the Fighting?
June 15th. 2014 ...
Becoming Your Own Wise One
Canine Familiars: Role of the Alpha
June 8th. 2014 ...
Moral Relativism and Wicca
Paganism in Cebu, Philippines
June 1st. 2014 ...
Rediscovering My Pagan Faith
13 Keys: The Wisdom of Chokmah
May 25th. 2014 ...
Some Differences Between Priestesses and Witches: Duties and Trials
Awakening to our Celestial Nature (A Free 8-Day Course)
How to Work With Your Muse
10 Things I Love about my Sacred Work as a Public Witch
May 18th. 2014 ...
Finding the God (From Christian to Pagan -Part II)
The Medea Within Us All
Visits from the Departed
May 11th. 2014 ...
Breaking the Law of Return
Mental and Emotional Balance- I CAN Have it!
Karma and Sin
The Sin Concept
May 4th. 2014 ...
When to Let Go...When to Hold On
Goddessy: Sorceress Speaks On Beauty
Embracing my Inner Goddess through Belly Dance
April 27th. 2014 ...
Mental Illness in the Pagan Community
World Crisis: Awaken Witches and Take Action
Being Pagan, Being Bipolar
"Earth Day" Is A Pagan Conspiracy!
April 20th. 2014 ...
Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex: A Guide
Safety: Let's Shift Our Focus
Morality and Controversy in the Craft
A Pagan Perspective on Easter
The Star Child
April 13th. 2014 ...
Magick and Consequences: My Experience with Sigils
Being a Worrisome Witch
Don't Talk Yourself Out of Trying Something New!
What to Do When the Spell/Ritual Flops
April 6th. 2014 ...
The Elements and the Quarters
How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”
Dark Moon Scry: Aries 2014
13 Keys: The Understanding of Binah
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Holy Days Through Irish Eyes
Article ID: 10809
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,986
Times Read: 6,622
RSS Views: 79,500
Posted: July 30th. 2006
Times Viewed: 6,622
For Irish Pagans, a big chunk of our tradition relies heavily on those Irish Legends recorded in such books as Annals of Ulster, Book of Leinster, and the Annals of Four Masters. It is upon these legends I base my observations and weave my personal practice around. My main illustration for the Irish honored holy days comes from the legend of the Courting of Emer from the Táin Bó Cuailgne. It is in this story that Emer is quoted as saying, “No man will travel this country, who hasn’t gone sleepless from Samain, when summer goes to its rest, until Imbolc, when the ewes are milked at spring’s beginning; from Imbolc to Beltine at summer’s beginning and from Beltine to Brón Trogain, earth’s sorrowing autumn. (1) ” It is these celebrations that I have done much searching about and wish to discuss.
I open these observations speaking of Samhain. Samhain (gaeilge for October) is honored as a festival of the New Year which starts on the eve of November 1st. It is also the festival of the dead. That seems to be an odd reason to celebrate. If death is the ending of life why celebrate it as a new year? It is for this very reason that I will address the significance of Samhain as part of my closing. I believe the festival will be easier to understand if put in the context of completing the circle of life.
From the time of Samhain we move on to La Fheile Bride (Brigid's Day/Imbolc/Oilmelc) which is traditionally honored beginning the eve of February 1st. La Fheile Bride is a celebration of the coming of spring. This is the return of the light from the darkness of winter. In spring we prepare and/or create the fields which will produce our crops throughout this year. Because of this time of preparation it can be said that spring is the season of creation. What about Brigid in Irish mythos relates to creation? It is Brigid's relationship to her child. During the Cath Maige Tuired Brigid's son, Ruadan, is sent into battle and is killed. Upon hearing of his death she makes the trek to find his body on the battlefield. When she finally comes across it the power of her love for her son is so strong that her lamenting (keening/wailing) over his body can be heard through all Ireland. This myth puts her in the role of the loving mother and her child as the symbol of creation. Perhaps this return of light can also be seen as the emergence of the child from the dark womb.
As we move on, the next festival honored is that of Bealtainne. Bealtainne (gaeilge for May) is traditionally honored beginning on the eve of May 1st. This festival is also referred to as Beltane or May Day and is in recognition of summer. During summer the fields begin to produce crops, the trees become a lustrous green and we see the wildlife frolicking in sexual euphoria. Life begins to flourish. For these reasons, this season is generally associated with the time of fertility.
It is this flourishing of life that connects summer with Danu (the mother the Gods) and Bile (the father of man). It has been the popular misconception that Danu and Bile were consorts. There is no such myth for this couple. They are never directly associated in any Irish story. My contention is that their connection lies in the story of the Invasion of Ireland by the Sons of Mil (Milesians) to which it is believed that all Irish ancestry traces back (2) . Bile, in this myth, is the father of Mil, the grandfather of his sons, directly making him the father of mortals (man) . It is this conquest of the people of Bile over the clan of Danu that leads to the flourishing of Ireland. Unfortunately, with this triumph brought mortality reminding us that with life there must be death. Every beginning has an end. Summer is a time of fertility and light, keeping in mind the balance of the dark times.
Soon summer gives way to autumn. This is the time of Lug and the festival of Lúnasa (Lughnassadh) which is celebrated beginning on the eve of August 1st. In the Cath Maige Tuired Lug is known as Lug Lamfhada or Lug of the Long Arm. In this story Lug is the god of all arts who eventually becomes the new ruler of the Tuatha De Danaan after Nuada, the De Danann ruler, steps down. To end the battle Lug faces off with Balor, a Fomorian enemy who is subsequently his grandfather. Balor had one eye that required 4 men to lift open the lid. Anyone within gazing distance of his eye would become helpless leading to their death. The myth states that upon the opening of his eye Lug throws a rock (or spear) directly into it causing not only Balor’s death, but the death of the Formorian king, Indech mac De Domnann, thus ending the 2nd Battle of Moytura. It is this victory over impending death that makes Lug significant to autumn. As the leaves around us turn shades of red we are reminded of the blood Lug spilled to save the lives of his people. At this time we destroy the fields in harvest to get us through the coming darkness as our fields will no longer be fertile. This is the time we face our past and prepare to move on into death then into the Otherworld.
As I stated in the opening, I have left my observations of Samhain to the end to show how the year comes full circle. Samhain is the festival of winter honored beginning on the eve of November 1st. Samhain is the time of darkness and of death. According to the Cath Maige Tuired, the Dagda (all-father/creator) consorts with the Morrigan (death) over the river Unshin on this night in order to ensure the fall of the Formorians and the return of prosperity to the De Danaan. On this night, the Morrigan vows to stain her hands with the blood of Indech mac De Domnann. This joining of the Gods is a statement of the time. In winter, we enter the darkness and infertile times represented by the Morrigan. This is the time that we face the death of the vegetation around us and the disappearance of life in general. However, it is also the time that we prepare for the re-emergence of light and the coming of spring represented by the consorting of the Dagda with the Morrigan. It is a time to prepare for the new life, the return of the flourishing of the Tuatha De Danann.
Samhain is not only the dark times of death, but is also the dark times of life. The New Year is the celebration of our return to the womb and our preparation for re-birth. Samhain is the beginning and end of the circle, or perhaps, in a more Irish sense, the passing point in the spiral of life.
1 Kinsella, Thomas, The Tain (Translated) , Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK copyright 1969 pg. 27 2 Annals of Inisfallen
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Author's Profile: To learn more about Blackbird - Click HERE
Other Articles: Blackbird has posted 4 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Blackbird... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).