18 January 2019

Cultural Continuum II

Cultural Continuum II

Walking up to the summit of Loughcrew
This photo taken on the same day as I had the strange experience at Loughcrew in County Meath, at Sliabh na Callí, which is the main hill at the site. It is the abode of Béara, who is a Bean Sí (faerie woman) and one of the Tuatha Dé.  There is a passage tomb on top, in which at the equinox sunrise, the rays of the sun shine down and illuminate the inner chamber.  There are the graves of extremely ancient dead kings, queens, and warriors there.  I give a full account of my strange and singular experience at Loughcrew in my book 'Finding the McCains.'

These Celtic faeries are not your wee, cute type, of the Victorian era children's books.  They are not small, and do not have wings, and are not cute. They are tall, fair, powerful beings of light, that are dangerous to be around.  Mysterious beings from another world of existence, who occasionally, still have interaction with our world.  There are several interesting theories about their existence. I will go into these matters in my next book in some detail where I explore the phenomenon of Faeries from a perspective of quantum physics and morhpic resonance and self organising fields of existence.    

Béara is remembered throughout Ireland and Scotland, in the old Gaelic homelands. She is, or has become in legend, a primordial nature spirit and Queen of Winter.  She can appear as an old woman or as a beautiful young maiden, tall and fair.

Cailleach Béara is called Cally Berry in Ulster English and has other names in other regions.  You will also hear Gentle Annie, Old Woman of the Mountains, and she is known as Caill Bhuere in Argyll.  Cailleach is often translated as the Hag or Witch, but Cailleach really just means the Veiled One.  The word Cailleach is used in several Irish terms.  A Cailleach Phráta is a shrivelled potato and a Cailleach Oiche is an owl.  A Cailleach Feasa is a wise woman or fortune teller and a Cailleach Dhubh is the term for a nun.

The mystery of Loughcrew and my experience there added to my understanding of the people and culture from which my family originated.  Béara is still remembered in Kilmichael Glassary where the McCain family originated.  Stories of her were told around the McCain hearths for centuries.  These stories of the Old Faith did not please everyone however.  

In 1560s, Seon Carsuel, Bishop and pastor to the fifth Earl of Argyll, complained about the Gaels in mid Argyll, where my family lived, just a short couple of miles from the Bishop's residence.  In his writings, Bishop Carsuel cited the stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann as the survival of paganism among the Gaels there.  Bishop Carsuel lived at Carnasserie Castle, and he could literally look out to the smoke from the hearth fires of McCain homes where the stories of Béara and the other Tuatha Dé Danann were being told.  The Bishop was not please with the survival of Gaelic pagan lore .

To quote Bishop Carsuel, ... darkness of sin and ignorance and design of those who teach and write and cultivate Gaelic, that they are more designed, and more accustomed, to compose vain, seductive, lying and worldly tales about the Tuatha Dé Danann and the sons of Mil and the heroes and Fionn Mac Cumhail and his warriors and to cultivated and piece together much else which I will not enumerate of tell here, for the purpose of winning for themselves the vain rewards of the world.

Bishop Carsuel wrote that in 1567.  Two short years later my own family left mid Argyll and moved to Donegal.  They were part of the the Gaelic military build up connected with Iníon Dubh and her marriage to the chief of the Ó Dónaill clan.


Myrddin (Merlin) the Druid of the Old Faith
Carsuel, in his writings on the beliefs of the Gaels, was describing a cultural continuum that was still alive in the 1500s and had it roots in the Bronze Age (or earlier).   At Loughcrew, I had experienced something that would have been familiar to my McCain ancestors that lived near him.  What would the good Bishop think if he knew centuries later that at least some Gaels still enjoyed the 'vain, seductive, lying and worldly tales' of the Tuatha Dé Danann?  No offense meant to the good Bishop, but it is reassuring to know that tales of the Tuatha Dé Danann still live and I had been fortunate enough to participate in one.  

Placing an 'intention' on a Faerie Tree
I have loved Celtic myths since I was a young boy.  It is not only my McCain family that I have this love, the other lines in my family are also from Ireland on my paternal side and from Wales on my maternal side.  My father's mother's father's line, the Tweedy family, has the Second Sight. I have been aware of the Second Sight since I was a young boy.  I am researching the Second Sight now for upcoming writing projects.  As many know I had a stroke back in late September, which laid me low for six months.  I am back writing and researching now and I have another personal experience to include in my research.  A Tweedy cousin of mine had a Second Sight experience last summer.  The vision was a portent about me and related to my health... and a month or so later, the event happened.  This gets into the topic of morphic resonance, i.e. the nuts and bolts of how Second Sight works.

Old beliefs, our tales of our people, our tribes, etc., it still lives after all this time.   We are our ancestors.  

© 2018 Barry R McCain

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02 June 2018

McCain's Corner: Cultural Continuum II

McCain's Corner: Cultural Continuum II: Walking up to the summit of Loughcrew This photo taken on the same day as I had the strange experience at Loughcrew in County Meath,...

19 July 2017

Fairies and the Old Faith

Walking up to the summit of Loughcrew
This photo taken on the same day as we had the strange experience at Loughcrew in County Meath, at Slieve na Callí, which is the main hill at the site. It is the abode of Béara, who is a Bean Sí (fairy woman) and one of the Tuatha Dé.  There is a passage tomb on top, in which at the equinox sunrise, the rays of the sun shine down and illuminate the inner chamber.  There are the graves of extremely ancient dead kings, queens, and warriors there.  I give a full account of my strange and singular experience at Loughcrew in my book 'Finding the McCains.'  These Celtic fairies are not your wee, cute type, of the Victorian era children's books.  They are tall, fair, powerful beings of light, that are dangerous to be around.  Béara is remembered throughout Ireland and Scotland, in the old Gaelic homelands. She is, or has become in legend, a primordial nature spirit and Queen of Winter.  She can appear as an old woman or as a beautiful young maiden, tall and fair.     

Placing an 'intention' on a Faerie Tree
The practice of leaving 'wishes' or intentions, on Fairy trees goes back to pre Christian times.  A Fairy Tree is often located near a holy well, and a spiritual place of worship for pagans.  Many travel, a pilgrimage of sorts, to the Fairy trees, to leave prayers or intentions, to ask a blessing or a favour, from those mysterious, unseen but felt, aspects of nature and the Old Faith that still manage to survive at these locations. When you visit a Fairy Tree you will see an array of objects left in the branches or at the base of the tree.  You will see ribbons, messages written on paper, colouful pieces of cloth or foil, photographs, toys, small figurines, and even strips of fabric torn from a visitor's clothing. 

A Fairy Tree near a Holy Well

A Fairy Tree is often a Hawthorn tree, but not always.  A lone hawthorn standing in the middle of a field or pasture garners both respect and some suspicion by the local communities.  A Fairy Tree is thought to bring good fortune, but it is also known to belong to the Otherworld and is part of the Sidhe.  For this reason, it was the tradition to never cut nor harm the tree for fear of retribution of the old gods and their allies.  The Fairy Tree was, and to some still is, seen as a gateway into the Fairy realms.     


With my old son, Donovan, on Tara Hill at Lia Fáil. 
This photo taken at Tara.  My older son, Donovan, and I are standing by the Lia Fáil, a stone of power that was a gift to Ireland from the Tuatha Dé.  It is one of the four legendary treasures of Ireland brought to Ireland from the Northern Isles by the Tuatha Dé.   The treasures are the Claíomh Solais (sword of light), the Sleá Bua (victory spear of Lugh), the Coire Dagdae (cauldron of Dagda), and the last, the Lia Fáil (stone of Ireland).  


© 2017 Barry R McCain

20 June 2017

Summer Solstice 2017


 The Summer Solstice, aka St John's Day, but, in the Old Faith, the Day of An Dagda (the good god). Feasting and dancing, and bonfires were lit in celebration. So today, raise a glass to An Dagda, if you are lucky enough to have a bonfire, it is tradition to jump it, suggest this be done before taking in ale. Happy Solstice!!!

09 June 2017

Tuatha Dé Danann

Danu

Tuatha Dé Danann (tribe of Danu) is the name of the Gaelic ancestral gods.  They are also known by the earlier name of Tuath Dé (tribe of gods).

The Tuatha Dé are also called the Aos Sí and are the Faeries of later Gaelic folklore.  However, they are not the diminutive creatures of the popular Victorian children stories or of modern Hollywood portrayals. They are described in the earliest primary sources as being tall, with red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, and very fair skin. They are luminous beings of great power and strength... and very dangerous to those unfortunate enough to become their enemy.

Sightings of the Tuatha Dé were common in older times, but have become less frequent in modern times, though there are several eyewitness accounts from the 20th Century.   These sightings take place in their traditional homeland of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, however one of the Tuatha Dé, Manannan Mac Lír, was sighted in Canada on Nova Scotia in the early 1900s.

Our knowledge of them comes to us from the filter of the Christian monks who first recorded the stories and history of the Tuatha Dé.   The stories were embellished and at times given comic aspects to enhance the tale. Some of the Tuatha Dé are obvious cognates with gods in other Indo European deity pantheons. Nuada is a cognate with the Noden, Lugh is a pan Celtic god, Bríd is a cognate to Brigantian, Tuireann with Taran (Taranis), Ogma with Ogmios, and Badbh with Catubodua.

As I develop this blog, I will enumerate the Tuatha Dé, discuss their cognates with other Indo-European pantheons, and discuss late examples of, if not worship, at least acknowledgement of, the Tuatha Dé in modern times.  


     

Oisín and Tír na nÓg

Oisin and Tír na nÓg by by Francois Pascal Simon Gerard

07 June 2017

John Duncan... Riders of the Sidhe

Riders of the Sidhe, by John Duncan 1911
An illustration of the Tuatha Dé Danann by Scottish artist John Duncan.  Duncan was born in 1866 in the Hilltown area of Dundee.  He submitted his first art work to a local magazine The Wizard of the North at the age of 15.  From 1887-88 he worked in London as a commercial artist.  After spending time on the Continent to study art he returned to Dundee in 1889.     

In 1892 Duncan moved to Edinburgh to work with urbanist Patrick Geddes and he became part of the Celtic Revival movement.  Duncan was the principal artist of Geddes' seasonal magazine The Evergreen.  In 1897 Duncan returned to Dundee to exhibit Celtic and symbolist paintings at the Graphic Arts Association and the Royal Scottish Academy.  He travelled to America to teach at the Chicago Institute for a short time, before returning to Scotland to stay.  He passed away in 1945.  


Cultural Continuum II

Cultural Continuum II Walking up to the summit of Loughcrew This photo taken on the same day as I had the strange experience at ...