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Posts tagged “Irish Paganism

Ardgroom Stone Circle

Ardgroom stone circle County Cork Nigel Borrington

Ardgroom stone circle
County Cork
Nigel Borrington

Ardgroom Stone Circle

Ardgroom (Irish: Dhá Dhroim, meaning “two drumlins”) is a village on the Beara peninsula in County Cork, Ireland.

Its name refers to two gravelly hills deposited by a glacier, Dromárd and Drombeg. It lies to the north north west of Glenbeg Lough, overlooking the Kenmare River estuary. It sits between the coast and the Slieve Miskish Mountains.

Canfea stone circle West Cork

Canfea stone circle
West Cork

The area is also home to a number of megalithic monuments. Signposted is the Ardgroom stone circle to be found to the east of the village at a distance of about 1 mile, off the old Kenmare road. It has the name “Canfea” but is normally called the “Ardgroom” stone circle. About 1 mile north east lie the remains of another stone circle. The Canfea circle consists of 11 stones, 9 of which are still upright with one alignment stone outside the circle. Unusually for a stone circle, its stones tend to taper toward points.

You can park a car about 1/2km away in a small wooded area with the walk to the circle only being some five minutes. The location is wonderful with a view of the mountains behind and the west Cork, coast-line on to the front of the circle.

Just to spend sometime here is amazing as the circle is in very good condition with most of the stones still standing. This must have been some place three thousand years ago, remote, cut off from the rest of the world. These circles were most likely use to help small farming communities tell the time of the year, the passing of the seasons for which they used the moon as well as the sun.

Also in the vicinity are the remains of at least 2 ring forts, as well as a number of standing stones and stone rows.


Irish great Elk – one of the largest deer that ever lived

Irish Elk ,  At : Castle St., Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Irish Elk ,
At : Cahir Castle, County. Tipperary

The Irish great elk is an extinct species of deer it was one of the largest deer that ever lived. Its range extended across Eurasia, from Ireland to northern Asia and Africa.

Cahir Castle 001

The skull and antlers in the main image above are located in the old 11th century dining hall at Cahir Castle county Tipperary Ireland. With antlers spanning 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) this Skull hangs high on one of the gable ends of the hall and seams to fill the room with its presence.
It is some 7000 to 8000 years since these amazing elk walked around the Irish landscape, it is not fully known exactly why or when the became extinct but the most recent specimen of M. giganteus in northern Siberia, dated to approximately 7,700 years ago.

Description

The Irish Elk stood about 2.1 metres (6.9 ft) tall at the shoulders carrying the largest antlers of any known cervid (a maximum of 3.65 m (12.0 ft) from tip to tip and weighing up to 40 kg (88 lb)).

In body size the Irish Elk matched the extant moose subspecies of Alaska (Alces alces gigas) as the largest known deer. The Irish Elk is estimated to have attained a total mass of 540–600 kg (1,190–1,323 lb), with large specimens having weighed 700 kg (1,543 lb) or more, roughly similar to the Alaskan Moose. A significant collection of M. giganteus skeletons can be found at the Natural History Museum in Dublin.

It is understood that the first humans to live in Ireland were the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, settling in Ireland after 8000 BC so it is possible that the first people to live here lived along side these animals and even hunted them for food and for their very skin and bones.

Finnish paganism and the Elk

European elk

The elk is a common image in many Finnish pagan art works …

Finnish paganism was the indigenous pagan religion in Finland, Estonia and Karelia prior to Christianisation. It was a polytheistic religion, worshipping a number of different deities. The principal god was the god of thunder and the sky, Ukko; other important gods included Jumi, Ahti, and Tapio.

Shows many similarities with the religious practices of neighbouring cultures, such as Germanic, Norse and Baltic paganism. However, it has some distinct differences due to the Uralic and Finnic culture of the region.

Finnish paganism provided the inspiration for a contemporary pagan movement Suomenusko (Finnish: Finnish faith), which is an attempt to reconstruct the old religion of the Finns.


The Elements : Water.

The elements , Water Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The elements , Water
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The Pagan element of Water and the pagan Irish Goddess : Boann and the Irish God : Nechtan

Water, is of a great necessity, without it nothing can live. Only earth and water can bring forth a living soul. Such is the greatness of water that spiritual regeneration cannot be done without it.

Thales of Miletus concluded that water was the beginning of all things and the first of all elements and most potent because of its mastery over the rest. Pliny said “Water swallow up the earth, extinguishes the flame, ascends on high, and by stretching forth as clouds challenges the heavens for their own, and the same falling down, becomes the cause of all things that grow in the earth.

Water is a cleansing, healing, psychic, and loving element. It is the feeling of friendship and love that pours over us when we are with our family, friends and loved ones. When we swim it is water that supports us, when we are thirsty, it is water the quenches our thirst, another manifestation of this element is the rainstorms that drench us, or the dew formed on plants after the sun has set.

The power of the energy of Water, can be felt by tasting pure spring water, moving you hand through a stream, lake, pool, or bowl full of water. You can feel its cool liquidity; it’s soft and loving touch, this motion and fluidity is the quality of Air within Water. This Water energy is also contained within ourselves, our bodies being mostly composed of Water.

As well as being vital for life, within the energy of this element is contained the essence of love. Love is the underlying reason for all magic. Water is love.

Water is a feminine element, it also the element of emotion and subconscious, of purification, intuition, mysteries of the self, compassion and family. It is psychic ability; water can be used as a means of scrying or as an object for meditation. Water is important in spells and rituals of friendship, marriage, happiness, fertility, healing, pleasure, psychic abilities and spells involving mirrors.

Ref : Pagan elements of Water

The Elements Water 2.

Irish Goddess : Boann, Irish God : Nechtan

Celtic (Irish) Goddess of the River Boyne and mother of Angus Mac Og by the Dagda. She was the wife of Nechtan, a god of the water. Likewise, Boann was herself a water-goddess, and one of her myths concerns the water. According to legend, there was a sacred well (Sidhe Nechtan) that contained the source of knowledge. All were forbidden to approach this well, with the exception of the god Nechtan (as was noted, Boann’s husband) and his servants. Boann ignored the warnings, and strode up to the sacred well, thus violating the sanctity of the area. For this act, she was punished, and the waters of the defiled well swelled and were transformed into a raging river, a river that pursued her. In some versions, she was drowned; while in others, she managed to outrun the currents. In either case, this water became the river that was known henceforth as the Boyne, and Boann thereafter became the presiding deity.

Another aspect of the myth of Boann is that she bore Angus. She and the All father of the Tuatha De Danaan, the Dagda, engaged in an illicit affair that resulted in the birth of this god of love. However, since both Boann and the Dagdha wished to keep their rendezvous a secret, they used their divine powers to cause the nine month gestation period to last but a single day – or so it seemed, for the sun was frozen in the sky for those nine months, never setting and never rising. On this magical day, Angus emerged into the world. She held the powers of healing. Variants: Boannan, Boyne.

The Elements Water 3


Pagan ring forts and passage tombs , From Kerry to kilkenny

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 15Knockroe passage tomb, county Kilkenny
Irish landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Pagan ring forts and passage tombs , From Kerry to kilkenny

During July last year 2013, I visited two ring forts near Cahersiveen, County Kerry and posted on them as below :

Kerry Ring forts 3.

Cahergall ring fort

Cahergall ring fort is a massive stone construction, built between 400BC and 500AD, It can be found close to Cahersiveen, County Kerry. Leacanabuaile feels very much more like a dwelling place for people to both live and keep themselves safe from the surrounding Environment. This included raiders and wild animals stealing cattle.

Kerry Ring forts 6

Leacanabuaile, stone ring Fort

Sitting on a hill side near Cahersiveen in County Kerry is Leacanabuaile Stone Fort, it is considered one of the best examples of an Irish ring fort.

The name translates to ‘Hillside of the Summer Pasturage’.

Returning home

The visit to both these locations was one of the most interesting history trips I have ever done and left me with a great sense of the History of Europe and of the people who lived here before Christian times.

On returning to county Kilkenny I fell like I was living in a place with a much more limited sense of history, Tipperary and Kilkenny feel much less remote than the coast line and mountains of county Kerry and their history seems to be much more modern.

Well it has taken me almost a year since the visit to Cahergall and Leacanabuaile to realise that this impression of my local area is far from true. Apart from the location of Knockroe (Post here), I have started to visit and find more and more local remains of Ireland’s past and it clearly goes way beyond the days of St Patrick and the early church.

The images below are satellite images of many passage tombs and ring forts, within 10km of our home :

KIlkenny ring forts 5

KIlkenny ring forts 4

KIlkenny ring forts 3

KIlkenny ring forts 2

KIlkenny ring forts 1.

Finding these locations was a real eye opener and showed to me that these forts and passage tombs must have been located through out the country.

The forts in Kerry have been restored over the last 5 years and may well have been in the same poor condition as the local ones here.

It is more than likely that the stone from these locations has been used in more modern times to build local Churches, Farms and stone walls on farm land, Yesterday I posted on the high cross at Kilkamerry and talked about this re-use of Pagan sites to build Christian locations.

It is very likely then that current church yards and grave yards have also been constructed on more of these sites, many more circular features exist on the local landscape and are possibly also ring forts but for these ones time has made things a little less clear.

What does becomes clear from looking deeper is that the pagan history of Ireland was extensive and that the pre-Christian population of this Island was as big as any other location on the European continent.

The images here are of the tomb or ring fort on Ballinlinagh hill, county Kilkenny and of the passage tomb of Knockroe :

Gallery

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 10

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 11

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 12

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 13—————–

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 14

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 15

KIlkenny and tipperary ring forts 16


The Pagan tree and forest plants

Pagan tree beliefs trees

Trees, herbs, and plants are very important to Druids. They represent their sacred alphabet, they are used for healing, and many Druids name themselves after trees. Trees are the connection between the realms. Ireland was said to be divided into four lands, each occupied by a sacred tree with a fifth tree at the center.

The five most important trees are the oak, rowan, birch, apple, and yew:

The oak is connected with strength, protection, and stability. Some say that the very word Druid derives from duir, the old word for oak.

The rowan is useful for protection, youth, and prophecy.

The birch is symbolic of beginnings, renewal, regeneration, and cleansing. It is also associated with the bard.

The apple tree is the tree of life and is said to reside at the center of the otherworld.

The yew is associated with death and decay because it is very poisonous, but this unique evergreen tree also lives for thousands of years. It is related to the ovate and is frequently found near sacred wells.

Other trees, such as the ash, willow, and hawthorn also frequently appear in mythology and legend.

Pagan tree beliefs

Foremost among the herbs and plants most revered by Druids is mistletoe. Mistletoe is a parasite frequently found growing on oaks. It is said that mistletoe, which grows off trees rather than from roots in the earth, must never be allowed to touch the earth. It is sometimes called all-heal, but it is poisonous, so use it with caution. Verbena, or vervain, is gathered at Midsummer, whereas mistletoe is gathered at Midwinter. It is used as an offering to the gods. It is also considered a cure-all and is said to ward against evil spirits.

Herb robert

HERB ROBERT, GERANIUM ROBERTIANUM

This herb has been used in medicine for centuries, although in the 20th century, particularly in Portugal it was hailed as a folk cancer remedy when the powdered leaves were taken with a raw, fresh egg yolk. Of course this has not been proven to work. Dioscorides described it and it was known to the old herbalists, who used it mainly for blood problems, as the stalks and leaves turn bright red in autumn, a sign to these old herbalists that it was good for the blood.

This plant is known by around a hundred names some of which refer to other plants more often, such as bloodwort (red dock), and red robin (not ragged robin) and cranesbill, which is native to the US and poisonous. However Stinking Bob is a name given to this herb which is unique to it, and refers to the smell given off by its bruised leaves. It is also called the Fox Geranium, some say because of its “foxy” smell after rain. It is native to hedgerows and woodland in Europe the British isles included, and to temperate Asia as it grows as far east as Japan and in the Himalayan regions.

No one really knows how it became Herb Robert, although there are several contenders for being its namesake, including Robert Duke of Normandy, who died in 1134, St Robert of Molesme, a French monk who died in 1110, and Robin Goodfellow or Puck, the mischievous elf who has a role in Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The Latin name Robertianum might be a corruption of ruber meaning red, rather than referring to any specific Robert, Robin or Rupert, names that seemed to have been linked to this plant.

The leaves of Herb Robert are the main part of the plant used for medicinal purposes and an infusion of these has been drunk and used as a wash for the skin, and for inflammation of the eyes. A poultice of the leaves has been used to relieve hardened breasts, to increase lactation in nursing mothers, to relieve irritated skin and the pain of rheumatism and reduce bruising, as well as being applied to herpes sores and ulcers. The infusion can also be used for the same external purposes.