Articles/Essays From Pagans
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
Banishments, Conjurings, and Hexes for a Modern World
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
The Fear of Witchcraft
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Sex, Lies, and Witches: Love in a Time of Wiccans and Atheists
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
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)
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: 3,654
Times Read: 7,172
RSS Views: 79,500
Posted: July 30th. 2006
Times Viewed: 7,172
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 1997-2016 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).