Monthly Archives: March 2013

Tuatha De Danann

The Tuatha Dé Danann, or “people of the goddess Danu”, were an ancient race of supernatural beings in Ireland.  They were said to have arrived from four great cities to the North, Failias, Gorias, Findias, and Murias, with several treasures.

The first was the Stone of Fal (Lia Fail) from Failias, which would scream whenever a true king of Ireland would place his foot on it. This was eventually placed on the mound at Tara, the mythical seat of the High Kings of Ireland. The next was the Sword of Nuada from Findias, a weapon that only inflicted mortal blows when drawn. The third was the Spear of Lugh from Gorias, which never missed its target. The last was the Cauldron of Dagda from Murias, from which a constant supply of food came forth.  These treasures also correspond to the four elements, with Lugh’s Spear representing Fire, Nuada’s Sword representing Air, Dagda’s Cauldron representing Water, and the Stone of Fal representing Earth.

With their King Nuada, they fought and defeated the Fir Bolg, the inhabitants of Ireland at the time.  Nuada lost an arm in battle, and was no longer allowed to be king because of it.  The half-Formorian Bres was chosen to be king instead, whose tyranny led to a battle against the Formorians.  In this second battle, King Nuada was killed by the Formorian King Balor.  However Lugh killed King Balor, defeating the Formorians, becoming High King of the Tuatha people.

They were eventually defeated at Teltown by the mighty Milesians (thought of as the first Celts).  Legend states that the Tuatha Dé Danann were allowed to stay in Ireland, but were forced underground.  They became known as the Faery People, or people of the Sidhe, and can be found in the faery mounds that still exist in Ireland today (such as the Brú na Bóinne, Newgrange).

The Milesians chose the name of the Tuatha Dé Danann goddess, Eriu, as the name of their new kingdom. Eriu (or Eire) is still used as the name of Ireland.  Eriu’s sisters, Banba and Fódla, are still sometimes used as poetic names for Ireland.

The Tuatha Dé Danann people are surrounded by myth and legend.  Ancient manuscripts depict the Tuatha people as real-life kings and queens, however they exhibit many ties to pre-Christian deities of Ireland.  The Tuatha Dé Danann included great heroes and deities, including Lugh, Danu, the Dagda,Brigid, Áine, Oghma, and the Morrígan.

And although defeated, they still exist in legends today.

Wikipedia
Magick and Mythology
Tuatha De Danann

© A Year And A Day (2012)

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Goddess Alive

Goddess Alive: Inviting Celtic & Norse Goddesses Into Your Life  Michelle Skye (2007)

The changing of the seasons, phases of the moon, even our personal experiences-all are reflections of the Divine Feminine. Create a stronger connection to the sacred world and your own divinity by welcoming these thirteen powerful Celtic and Nordic goddesses into your life. (Amazon)

The Winter Solstice: Cerridwyn, Welsh Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal
Imbolc: Brigid, Irish Goddess of Fire
The Spring Equinox: Eostre, Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring
Beltane: Freyja, Norse Goddess of Love and War
The Summer Solstice: Áine, Irish Goddess of Faeries and Fertility
Lammas/Lughnasadh: Danu, Irish Mother Goddess of Wisdom
The Autumn Equinox: Modron, Welsh Mother Goddess of Mystery
Samhain: Hella, Norse Goddess of the Underworld

Waxing Moon: Branwen, Welsh Goddess of Sovereignty
Full Moon: Maeve, Irish Goddess of Personal Power
Waning Moon: The Valkyries, Norse Goddesses of Battle Magic and Soul Journey
Dark Moon: Morrighan, Irish Goddess of Magic and Death
New Moon: Rhiannon, Welsh Great Queen and Horse Goddess

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Spiral

The Spiral is known as a symbol of the goddess, a symbol of life.  A Spiral represents “death and rebirth as movement into the disappearing-point of formlessness, and out of it again, to a new world of form.” (The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets)

Spiral symbology is also present in the Double Spiral and Triple Spiral.  Double Spirals represent dual purpose in life, the inward journey and the outward journey.  A Double Spiral can also be seen in the yin-yang symbol.

The Triple Spiral is believed to be an ancient goddess symbol.  It can be thought to represent the Triple Goddess (maiden, mother, crone) or the goddess Brigid.  The Triple Spiral is also used to represent the three realms of land, sea, and sky.

File:Newgrange Entrance Stone.jpg

Also known as Triskele, the Triple Spiral is seen at many ancient Irish Megalithic and Neolithic sites, such as at the Newgrange monument.  Triskelions can also be seen in the flags of Sicily and the Isle of Man.

The Celts believed that all things moved in eternal cycles, and the triple spiral reminds us of the cycle of life.

Goddess Symbols
Wikipedia

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Standing With Stones

Standing With Stones: A Journey Through Megalithic Britain
(DVD, 2008)

I watched a very interesting movie on the ‘standing stones’ of Britain, the megaliths, henges, stone circles, cairns and other neolithic structures built thousands of years ago across the British Isles.  Everybody knows about Stonehenge and Newgrange, but what about the other ones?  How many different megalithic sites are there?  What are their significance?

Types of Megalithic Sites (wiki)

Standing Stones – (aka megaliths) solitary stones set vertically in the ground
Stone Circle – a monument of standing stones arranged in a circle
Stone Row – (aka stone alignment) a linear arrangement of upright, parallel standing stones set at intervals along a common axis or series of axes
Dolmen – (aka portal tomb, portal grave, or quoit) a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table).  Usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow.
Cromlech (Welsh) – usually refers to dolmens, however it is widely used in French and Spanish to describe stone circles
Cairn – a man-made pile (or stack) of stones, often erected as landmarks
Barrow – (aka tumulus, burial mound, kurgan) a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves.  A cairn might also be originally a tumulus.
Henge – features a ring bank and internal ditch surrounding a central flat area.  May contain ritual structures such as stone circles, timber circles and coves.
Cist – a small stone-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead, perhaps under a cairn or long barrow
Cursus – (Latin for “course”) large parallel lengths of banks with external ditches, thought to be early Roman athletic courses

We journey through the UK and Ireland, staring in Southern England, making our way through Wales, Ireland, Northern England, Scotland, and the remote northern Scottish Isles.  One thing is abundantly clear – nobody really knows why these megalithic structures were built and what their exact purposes were.  Theories abound, however these ancient structures are still shrouded in mystery.

Here is a list of sites discussed in the DVD:

Western England
Ballowall Barrow
Mên-an-Tol
Rocky Valley
Nine Stones (Dartmoor)
Yellowmead

Southern England
Knowlton Henge
Chestnuts Long Barrow (Medway Megaliths)
London Stone
Wiltshire
Stanton Drew The second largest stone circle in Britain
Barrows
Rollright Stones
Stonehenge (Winterbourne Stoke, Barrows, North Kith, Cursus, Normanton Down Barrows, Darlington Walls, Woodhenge, West Kenet, Long Barrow, Silbury Hill)
Avebury – The largest stone circle in Britain
Goldrum
Priddy Nine Barrows
Stoney Littleton
Wayland’s Smithy
Belas Knap
Also: Uffington White Horse, Long Man of Wilmingdon

Wales
Gors Fawr
Ysbyty Cynfyn
Bryn Celi Ddu
Druid’s Circle (Anglesey)
Barclodiad-y-Gawres
Pont-y-Pridd
Rocking Stone
Tinkins Wood
Cerrig Duon / Maen Mawr
Pentre Ifan
Llech-y-Tripedd
Moel-y-Uchaf

Ireland
Castleruddery
Carrowmore
Maeve’s Cairn
Shronebirrane
Poulnabrone
Beaghmore
Browne’s Hill Dolmen
Creevykeel
Labbacallee
Urach
Ardgroom
Newgrange / Knowth / Dowth (Brú na Bóinne)

Northern England
Arbor Low
Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor
Bleasdale Circle
Rudston Monolith, Cursus
Long Meg and her Daughters
Formby Point
The Chasms
Mull Circle
Devil’s Elbow
Cashtal yn Ard
Castlerigg
King Orry’s Grave
Cursus
Langdale Axe Quarry
Druid’s Circle
Sunkenkirk

Scotland
Clava Cairns
Twelve Apostles
Cairnholy
Glenquicken
Cairnbaan
Achnabreck
Kilmartin Glen
Leys of Marlee
The Recumbents

Scottish Isles
Callanish (Calanais)
Maeshowe
Ring of Brodgar, Stenness – The third largest stone circle in Britain.
Grey Cairns of Camster
Skara Brae
Tomb of Eagles

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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The Singing Stone

The Singing Stone O.R. Melling (1988)

 

Following anonymous clues and increasingly strong dream-visions, modern-day Kay travels to Ireland and enters the Bronze-Age. She and a De Danann foundling, Aherne, are charged with finding the lost treasures of the De Danaans. Ultimately, their quest will redeem the ancestors and reconcile warring invaders and settlers moral concerns that mirror modern ones.

________

This was the book that started it all for me, peaking my interest in magic, adventure, and all things Celtic.  Imagine my surprise when I grew up and realized that much of what the author wrote about was from existing Celtic folklore and mythology, rather then a figment of her imagination (well, ok maybe a bit of figmental imagination thrown in).  The Tuatha de Danann, the Fomorians, the Fir Bolg, Amergin, Eriu, and the four magical treasures; Dagda‘s Cauldron, the Spear of Lugh, the Sword of Nuada, and the Stone of Destiny…  all from Celtic folklore.  Even though I first read this book many, many years ago, I think its a great young adult book for children and adults alike.  Definately my favourite from O.R. Melling.

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Eostre

Ēostre (Ostara, Ēastre) is an obscure Germanic and Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and dawn, and is thought to be the namesake of the Christian holiday Easter.  Her festival is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring.

File:Ostara by Johannes Gehrts.jpg

The cleric Bede first described Ēostre in his book De Temporum Ratione in the 8th century.  However, material related to her is so minimal that some scholars argue that she was never a goddess at all.  Her name could have been derived from Ēosturmōnath, the Germanic name for the month of April.  The High German word for Ēostre is Ostara.

Eostre - Thalia Took

Her name is thought to mean “to shine”, therefore Ēostre is seen as a goddess of the dawn.  However it is also thought that Ēastre is the ancient word for “spring”.  There are also links to the name Ēostre and “east”, the direction of the sky where the sun first rises, which gives Ēostre the name “Eastern Star”.

Through her association with dawn, Ēostre may be related to the Greek Eos, Roman Aurora, or Indian Ushas.

Ēostre is connected with growth, renewal, abundance, new beginnings and fertility.  As symbols of rebirth and fertility, eggs and rabbits are sacred to her, as is the full moon.

Ēostre represents the transitional time between childhood innocence and adult passion, and reminds us that life is full of untold possibilities and adventures.

Thalia Took – Eostre
Wiki – Eostre
Goddess Alive

© A Year And A Day (2013)

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