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Posts tagged “celtic mythology

Happy 1st of May to everyone, it is Beltane in the Pagan and Celtic calendar ….

1st of May and its Beltane Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

1st of May and its Beltane
Kilkenny Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Beltane or Beltain

(/ˈbɛl.teɪn/)is the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish it is Bealtaine ([ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲə]), in Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn ([ˈpjaul̪ˠt̪ˠɪɲ]) and in Manx Gaelic Boaltinn or Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Morning Star 2

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush; a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

Historic Beltane customs

Beltane was one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals: Samhain (~1 November), Imbolc (~1 February), Beltane (~1 May) and Lughnasadh (~1 August). Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season, when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the “symbolic use of fire”. There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, and to encourage growth. The aos sí (often referred to as spirits or fairies) were thought to be especially active at Beltane (as at Samhain) and the goal of many Beltane rituals was to appease them. Most scholars see the aos sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. Beltaine was a “spring time festival of optimism” during which “fertility ritual again was important, perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun”.

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Celebrating the Spring Equinox 2015, with its Pagan traditions

Sunrise behind the standing stone. Knockmealdown Mountains. County Waterford. Irish landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Sunrise behind the standing stone.
Knockmealdown Mountains.
County Waterford.
Irish landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The Spring equinox 2015 celebrating

Today marks the arrival of spring, the date of the vernal equinox, or spring equinox as it is known in the northern hemisphere. Spring equinox. During an equinox, the Earth’s North and South poles are not tilted toward or away from the sun. (Ref :Wikipedia)

The oldest footprints in the world 2

This means the sun will rise exactly in the east and travel through the sky for 12 hours before setting in the exactly west.An equinox happens twice a year around March 20 and September 22 when the Earth’s equator passes through the centre of the sun.

For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that is taking people into their winter.

In English there is open access to Stonehenge tomorrow. Access will be from 05:45am until 08:30am.

Druids and Pagans like to gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Spring Equinox, to see the sunrise above the stones.

Knockroe pasage tomb 4

The Pagans consider this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility. This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility). Her name is also where we get the female hormone, oestrogen.

From Eostre also come the names “Easter” and “Esther” the Queen of the Jews, heroine of the annual celebration of Purim which was held on March 15. At Easter, Christians rejoice over the resurrection of Jesus after his death, mimicking the rebirth of nature in spring after the long death of winter.

It is also a time to cleanse your immune system with natural remedies. In Wiltshire and other parts of rural Britain it used to be tradition to drink dandelion and burdock cordials as the herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after a harsh winter.

The Equinox of the sun : Gallery

Slievenamon 13 11 2013

Yesterdays Sun 1

Sigma SD15 Kilkenny sunset 1

That sun on Midwinters day 2013


The Elements : Earth

Suir valley from Tullahought - Kilkenny landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Suir valley from Tullahought – Kilkenny landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Connected to the North,

Earth is considered the ultimate feminine element, Earth is fertile and stable, associated with the Goddess. The planet itself is a ball of life, and as the Wheel of the Year turns, we can watch all the aspects of life take place in the Earth: birth, life, death, and finally rebirth. The Earth is nurturing and stable, solid and firm, full of endurance and strength. In color correspondences, both green and brown connect to the Earth, for fairly obvious reasons! In Tarot readings, the Earth is related to the suit of Pentacles or Coins.

Mother goddess is a term used to refer to a goddess who represents motherhood, fertility, creation, or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.

Kerry Ring forts 3

Celtic Goddess

The Irish goddess Anu, sometimes known as Danu, has an impact as a mother goddess, judging from the Dá Chích Anann near Killarney, County Kerry. Irish literature names the last and most favored generation of deities as “the people of Danu” (Tuatha De Danann). The Welsh have a similar figure called Dôn who is often equated with Danu and identified as a mother goddess. Sources for this character date from the Christian period, however, so she is referred to simply as a “mother of heroes” in the Mabinogion. The character’s (assumed) origins as a goddess are obscured.

The Celts of Gaul worshipped a goddess known as Dea Matrona (“divine mother goddess”) who was associated with the Marne River. Similar figures known as the Matres (Latin for “mothers”) are found on altars in Celtic as well as Germanic areas of Europe.

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 16

In many cultures, earth spirits are beings that are tied to the land and plant kingdom. Typically, these beings are associated with another realm, the forces of nature that inhabit a particular physical space, and landmarks like rocks and trees.

In Celtic mythology, the realm of the Fae is known to exist in a parallel space with the land of man. The Fae are part of the Tuatha de Danaan, and live underground. It’s important to watch out for them, because they’re known for their ability to trick mortals into joining them.

Grange Crag Walk 5

Gnomes feature prominently in European legend and lore. Although it’s believed that their name was coined by a Swiss alchemist named Paracelsus, these elemental beings have long been associated in one form or another with the ability to move underground.

Likewise, elves often appear in stories about the land. Jacob Grimm collected a number of stories about elves while compiling his book Teutonic Mythology, and says that elves appear in the Eddas as supernatural, magic-using beings. They appear in a number of old English and Norse legends.


Boann, goddess of the River Boyne. A Gallery and Poem.

Fresh water 4

A Story told by: Deanne Quarrie

Boann, Deanne Quarrie

Boann is the Irish goddess of the river Boyne. Her name means “She of the white cattle.” She was the wife of Nechtain and the beloved of the Dagda, the Good God. It is possible she could be a later naming of Danu Herself. Aenghus mac Og, her son, was the product of the affair between Boann and Dagda. In order to keep the pregnancy secret, the Dagda halted the sun for the term of the goddess’s pregnancy, and so Aenghus was born out of time.

Boann is a Goddess of fertility and the stars. She connects the Way of the White Cow to the White Mound of the Boyne. She gives her name to the preeminent brugh in all of Ireland, Brugh na Boinne. She is honored mid-winter at Imbolc.

Fresh water 2

Many ancient peoples had stories of floods in which water was both honored as a life bringer and as a destroyer. Water was seen as something that “escaped” from the realms of the gods.

In many of the stories it seemed to be a female who was involved when water, would through some disaster, come to the land, bringing growth and abundance though turbulence.

Probably the most famous version of this myth in Celtic tradition is the Irish story of the Well of Segais.

Growing around this well were nine hazel trees of wisdom, whose nuts fell into the water and gave it the quality of divine illumination, much sought-after by those seeking this wisdom.

Boann was the wife of Nechtan, keeper of the sacred Well of Segais, which was a source of knowledge. Only Nechtan and his cupbearers were permitted to approach the well. The goddess Boann desired to drink from the well herself, to increase her power.

Fresh water 1

She attempted to challenge the Well of Segais, by going around the well chanting, circling widdershins (counterclockwise, or against the sun direction) . She circled the well three times, as she chanted “amrun.” The well rose against her incantations. Three waves rose up from the well which then flowed forth in five streams and drowned her. Because she was of the Sidhe, she did not die. She lost an arm, a leg and an eye in her battle with the well.

The five streams of wisdom that flowed from this well represent our five senses: taste, smell, feeling, sight and hearing. In her contest with the Well of Segais, Boann experienced “shamanic death” of drowning. In so doing, she gained the Wisdom of Segais as it swept her away.

Manannan said of this….

Fresh water 3

“I am Manannan, son of Ler, king of the Land of Promise; and to see the Land of Promise was the reason I brought [thee] hither. . . . The fountain which thou sawest, with the five streams out of it, is the Fountain of Knowledge, and the streams are the five senses through which knowledge is obtained. And no one will have knowledge who drinketh not a draught out of the fountain itself and out of the streams.”

From this, we learn that we must experience through all of who we are, through all of the five senses which must be open. This is our gift from Boann.

Boann can be a great ally for poetic composition and many other forms of artistic expression. Invoking or singing Boann’s name while sitting next to a river or stream can be a very powerful and inspiring experience. Clear the mind, open the soul, and listen to the music of Boann playing from the waters. You will always go away a new person.

Vigil at the Well

A rock ledge. A dark pool.
Pale dawn and cold rain.
And a woman alone
holding three coins.

She circles the well
three times in the rain.
She offers the coins
to a great ancient tree
then bends to the pool.

A glimmer of silver.

Dawn striking the pool?

A fish in its depths?

The pool stills again.

The sky blazes red.

The woman gets up.

Nothing seems changed.

But the next day a wind
blows warm from the sea.

Boann suite de reels