Browsed by
Tag: celtic

bearing light from darkness

bearing light from darkness

It’s Imbolc, one of my favorite non-Kemetic holidays: the Day of Fire.

I sing for Brigid, and I light a candle in the darkness beneath Her cross, next to a necklace that makes me think of Her spirit and a dark-blood stone from Sekhmet’s altar. I let the flame burn a while before returning Brigid’s cross to my throat, and I contemplate the fire of winter.

There’s a lot to be said for burning away the chill, but I live in Texas right now, and it’s not so very cold and snow-drenched.

Instead, I focus on the light itself. It has been a very dark autumn and winter, and I want to make February a month of bringing back the light. So I will think of small, tangible ways in which I can do that.

For now, I leave you with this from my private journal, which mentions Netjer but embodies Brigid’s spirit as well:

May the work I do
by voice, limb, and hand
be strong in structure,
stable in foundation,
beautiful in form,
and long in longevity.
All creations are art
and all art is my work,
my good work, born by my flesh,
sacred to me.
May it all bring honor
to Netjer, Who blesses me
and provides me the world(s)
in which I create and serve.

PBP Fridays: L is for Lugh

PBP Fridays: L is for Lugh

When I wrote about Brigid, I said I’d also write about Lugh when the time came. Well, we’ve reached the Ls in the Pagan Blog Project, so time to step up! As with Brigid, I’m going to finally do the basic research I didn’t do as a pagan youth and really dig into Lugh’s mythology and characteristics before talking a little bit about my personal experience with and opinion of Him.

Please note, lovely readers: All of this is a work-in-progress. It will change as I continue digging through books and other sources. Do not take this as a rock-solid encyclopedic entry at any point. :)

attributes

– master of all skills
— He is a wright, a smith, a champion, a swordsman, a harpist, a hero, a poet and historian, a sorcerer, and a craftsman
— gained entrance to King Nuada’s court in Tara by having all these skills in one man
– harvest
— fertility of crops
– light
— the sun (this is only in modern interpretation; there is no historical basis for this)
— lightning
– storms
— creates storms when He spars with Balor
– warrior
— His spear was Gae Assail, the Spear of Assal, one of the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann; also called “the famous yew of the wood” and/or “a yew tree, the finest of the wood”
— another spear was Areadbhair (“Slaughterer”), whose tip had to be kept immersed in a pot of water to keep it from igniting
— Lugh’s spear was so blood-thirsty that only by “steeping its head in a sleeping-draught of pounded fresh poppy seeds” would it rest and cease struggling to be let free to slay
— His sword was Fragarach, Manannan’s sword
— uses a sling-stone/sling-shot
—— “Lugh’s sling rod was the rainbow and the Milky Way which was called Lugh’s Chain.” (snippet from an untried online source)
– king
— Nuada of the Silver Hand made Lugh king of the Tuatha De Danann
– druidry
— shapeshifting
— magic
– games of skill, including ball games and horsemanship
— credited with creating Fidhchell, the classic Celtic boardgame
– oversees journeys (Julius Caesar)
– oversees business transactions (Julius Caesar)
— Lugh’s name may be derived from lugios, “oath”
— the Irish word lugh connotes ideas of “blasphemy, cussing, lies, bond, joint, binding oath”
– threes (triplets keep showing up in His myths)
– ravens
– lynxes

relationships

– Lugos was a consort of Rosmerta, a nature goddess
– Lugh was a consort of Dechtine, granddaughter of the Dagda
– husband to Bui and Nas, daughters of Ruadri, king of Britain, and Echtach and/or Englic
– father of Cuchulainn (by Dechtine) and Cnu Deireoil and Ibic (by Nas)
– son of Cian Mac Diancecht of the Tuatha de Danann and Ethniu Ni Bhaloir of the Formorians
– brother of Ebliu, wife of Fintan
– half-brother to Muirne of the White Neck
– foster child of Manannan Mac Lir and Tailtiu, wife of Eochaid Mac Eirc
– grandchild of Dian Cecht, Balor of the Evil Eye (whom Lugh slew in battle), and Ceithlenn
– His horse was Enbarr of the Flowing Mane, on loan from Manannan
– His dog was Failinis
– slain by Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, and Mac Gréine; drowned near Loch Lugborta

names and titles

– Lugh or Lug (Irish)
– Lú (Irish)
– Lugos/Lugus (Gaulish) (lacks the “master of all arts” attribute)
– Llew Llaw Gyffes (Welsh)
– Lugh Lámhfada (Lugh the Long-Handed)
– Lugaid
– Lugaidh
– Lonnansclech
– Luga
– Lámfada
– Lugh the Light
– Samildánach (“All Skills”)
– Ildánach
– mac Céin
– mac Ethlenn
– Maicnia (“boy-warrior”)
– Lonnbeimnech (“Fierce Striker”)
– “The Bright One with the Strong Hand” (Lleu’s epithet)

notes

– Lugos was the patron of Lugodunum (Lyons, France) in Gaul.
– Worshipped during the 30-day Lughnasadh festival, along with Rosmerta.
— Fertility magic during this festival was used for good crops and harvest.
— In Irish Gaelic, the word for August is lunasa.
– As king, He led the Tuatha de Danann to victory over the Formorians, slaying His grandfather, Balor of the Evil Eye, with a slingshot and turning that eye’s power back on the Formorians.
– Was prophecied to grow up and slay Balor of the Evil Eye, so Balor locked his daughter away; Lugh’s father found and seduced her, and she bore triplets, two of which were drowned, but Lugh survived and was rescued and fostered.
This is a great article about learning at Lugh’s feet.
A summary of some of Lugh’s myths and attributes.

My experience with Lugh was with Him in a strongly solar role; He was the first pagan god I encountered and spent time following, and I’ll probably always remember Him as the god in the sun Who taught me about the cycle of the seasons. True to my then-Wiccan roots, I followed Him as He crested in high summer, celebrated in August, and died with the harvest; as the sun, He was reborn at Yule, and I waited all the dark winter for His strength and light to return to my part of the world. (It’s important to note that this was about when I first started experiencing SAD – seasonal affective disorder – and so the mythological death of my god each autumn became inextricably linked with the physiological and psychological effects of winter-time depression.) Though Lugh as the sun was of primary importance to me, His mastery of all skills and patronship of human jacks-of-all-trades came in as a close second; as a scanner with a great deal of interests and hobbies, I was delighted to find a god who had more than one single specialty.

I later parted ways with Lugh, amicably and with gratitude, to follow in the footsteps of another deity: Sekhmet. I still feel a great appreciation for what He taught me and a great respect for Who He is.

In parting, a prayer to Lugh, found here:

Great Lugh!
Master of artisans,
leader of craftsmen,
patron of smiths,
I call upon you and honor you this day.
You of the many skills and talents,
I ask you to shine upon me and
bless me with your gifts.
Give me strength in skill,
make my hands and mind deft,
shine light upon my talents.
O mighty Lugh,
I thank you for your blessings.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

PBP Fridays: F is for Feral

PBP Fridays: F is for Feral

Feral is a big word. It means the long-term guest-cat living in our household, who has slowly learned what it means to not hiss and flee from any still object that’s even remotely animal- or person-shaped. It means all the cats and dogs living in urban and suburban areas without human caretakers. It means all the human-brought domesticized animals that got out into the countryside and went native– often ousting truly native species and wrecking ecosystem balance in the process.

Feral means non-human sometimes, or maybe just non-thinking. Instinctive, perhaps even intuitive. Feral is a word that evokes a sense of dangerousness, of unpredictability, of wildness. Feral can bite the hand that feeds and lick it tenderly not a minute later. Feral evades capture. Feral cannot be reached with logic, and only sometimes can it be tempered with the reliable structure that logic can build. One rehabilitates a feral animal in part by providing a secure, unchanging rhythm and structure until it learns it does not need to fear or aggress. Our half-feral girl has come from living on a closet shelf to sleeping on my stomach at night because she learned I don’t react when she hisses; I do not take advantage of her fear or vulnerability, and so I am not a threat. A non-threat may be lived with peaceably; a non-threat may even be trusted.

For me, the word feral overlaps with the word pagan. Both of them speak to less civilization and more nature, more blood and marrow and greenery and sickness and danger and risk. I do not romanticize old days with nonexistant roads, poor or no education, more primitive medicine and surgery, and frequently terrible human rights. But I do see the disconnect from wildness that exists in my urban, civilized, well-educated, sanitized world now. It can be very hard to be feral in healthy ways when everything around you is automated machinery and political maneuvering. It can be very hard to be nature-based pagan when everything around you is plastic and steel and pavement and glass.

I am in some ways feral, a human animal who has not lost its ties to instinct and flesh. I am sometimes-tame, domesticated enough to live in the world we have constructed, civil enough to wish for joy and abundance and love for all people, intelligent enough to understand compassion and justice and social contracts. But beneath this veneer of well-cultured humanity is still an animal seeking to survive the chaos of life in whatever way it can, and I react to trauma like my half-feral cat has reacted to her own, despite all my efforts at cultivating zen within myself.

I seek feralness in others. Most of the heart-deep friends I have understand the nature of the human animal and share it with me, bound to visceral experience and strong instinct and the sense of striving to live, even within our blessedly privileged and safe lives. Most of the gods I follow have feral natures– the keening kite, the roiling black sea, the sunning lion, the hunting lioness, the stinging scorpion, the roaming stallion. The poetry I write drips with imagery for all the senses, and the novels and short stories I craft feature creatures or monsters or shapeshifters of some sort far more often than humans. The media I consume – music, movies, books – revolve around the highlights of feral entities, the struggle to resolve feral nature with compassionate morals, glimpses of things that are not purely human. The martial art I study seeks to train the instinct to react appropriately, knowing the body can move so much more quickly than the mind in a hot situation, knowing the body is its own kind of animal.

I have said before that I love Celtic paganism and my Kemetic path in very different ways. Kemeticism is the sun upon my skin, the wind and light through clean branches, the warmth of the working day when words are said clearly and things are built strongly. But in Celticism are my roots, deep within the loamy soil, untouched by sight and light, coiling and winding, drinking deep of the world and its marrow, full of blood and spit and sweat and hairs. When I engage with Celtic gods and Celtic paganism, I do so as a feral human animal; when I act as a Kemetic, I do so from the higher faculties that I possess, logic and structure and order and reason. This does present unique challenges, such as finding it difficult to intellectually study Celtic history and mythos as I have Kemeticism, such as finding it difficult to interact with my human ancestors within a non-feral Kemetic framework. The dynamic between feral and not-feral feels like the twisting spiral of my very DNA, the centerpoint around which all of my work – physical, spiritual, and creative – revolves.

Much like I need both animal nature and human intelligence to call myself a human animal, I need both Celtic and Kemetic nourishment for my spirit to truly thrive.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

PBP Fridays: C is for Cernunnos

PBP Fridays: C is for Cernunnos

Cernunnos is the name usually used to describe the Horned God of Celtic traditions. In terms of artifacts, very little is attested to that name specifically, and even the etymology isn’t entire sussed out. In terms of modern-day pagan worship, Cernunnos is seen as a god of the Wild Hunt, a god of fertility and sexuality, a god of nature and wild animals, and much more.

To me, Cernunnos is

the darkness beneath the trees
hoofprints left in loamy soil
an endless trail to follow
a god so far ahead he’s never seen
signals left on the path
blood pumping through veins
cool air, warm skin
muscles flexing and contracting
sweat
sex
night-time wind
the smell of damp earth and greens
shadows under leaves
stars in the sky
the forerunner of the path I’m on
not a person, only a presence
not a person, only a concept
not a person, only a feeling

April 21, 2010, personal journal:

I hadn’t realized the bedroom window was open. After I took my hot shower, I came back into the bedroom with Vas’s Unbecome playing… and just stopped.

The smell. Cool warmth. Enough moisture in the air to turn shadows into dark, waxy green leaves. The sound of passing cars intimate and grittily real, underlaid with haunting music. The touch of the wind on my warm, bare skin and how it slipped into my lungs like pure oxygen, a prayer of flesh.

I thought of the Horned God; it was His smell, His taste, His touch, His dark forest overlaying my pedestrian reality.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

The Blessing of Brigid

The Blessing of Brigid

From The Virtual Abbey:

Our celebrations, always full of spontaneity, are grounded in our own liturgical traditions. On Brigid’s day, we culminate with this song adapted from “The Blessing of Brigid” in Carmina Gadelica:

One group sings over and over:

I am under the shielding of Brigid each day,
I am under the shielding of Brigid each night.

While others sing in counterpart:

Brigid is my comrade-woman,
Brigid is my maker of song,
Brigid is my helping-woman,
my choicest of women,
my guide.

This is incredibly heartfelt and gorgeous.

PBP Fridays: B is for Brigid

PBP Fridays: B is for Brigid

Before I encountered Sekhmet, nigh six years ago, I was an avid lover of Celtic mythology (even if I wasn’t a very good student of it). The two gods Who stood out to me then were Lugh and Brigid, and I want to talk about Them both as part of the Pagan Blog Project… both to remember my time with Them and to do some more thorough research that I hadn’t done when I was younger.

In fact, I think I’m going to cover the research portion with the same Cliffs Notes format as I’ve used for Nit and Nebt-het so far.

attributes

– poetry
– healing
– smithing
– fire
– all high things
— high-rising flames, highlands, hill forts, upland areas
— wisdom, excellence, perfection, intelligence, druidic knowledge
— skill in warfare, craftsmanship, medicine
—— goddess of warriors without status
– home and hearth
— protection thereof
—— protects livestock
— fertility and prosperity
—— aids women, especially in conception and childbirth
– holy wells and rivers
– goddess of the land (who would be married to the king)
— bringer of spring

relationships

– daughter of the Dagda + one of the Tuatha De Danann, a poet
– wife of Bres of the Formorians
– mother of Ruadan
– had two sisters of the same name: one was a goddess of healing, one a goddess of poetry, one a goddess of smithing
– half-sister to Cermait, Aengus, Midir, Bobd Derg
– owns two oxen, Fe and Men
– owns the “king of boars,” Torc Triath
– owns the “king of sheep,” Cirb
– equated to Minerva and Athena
– related to St. Brigid

names

– “Brigid” means “exalted one.”
– “Breo-saighit” means “a fiery arrow.”
– Other names/spellings: Brigit, Brighid, Brid, Bridget, Brighde/Bride, Fraid, Brigindu, Brigantia, Braga, Braganca, Brigantis, Bregenz, Bidang

notes

– Invented keening when mourning for Her son, who was killed in battle.
– Invented a whistle used for night travel.
– Her day is February 2, both St. Brigid’s Day and Imbolc/Imbolg.
– “At Luxeuil in the Saône valley of eastern France, … Bricta is specifically identified as the consort of Luxovius, a god of healing and light which may be cognate with Lug.”

Lady Augusta Gregory (Gods and Fighting Men, 1904):

[She is] a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing along with that, and a woman of smith’s work, and it was she first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night. And the one side of her face was ugly, but the other side was very comely. And the meaning of her name was Breo-saighit, a fiery arrow.

The Second Battle of Magh Turedh:

Bríg came and keened for her son. At first she shrieked, in the end she wept. Then for the first time weeping and shrieking were heard in Ireland. (Now she is the Bríg who invented a whistle for signalling at night.)

And now for some personal recollection.

When I worshipped Brigid, I did not comprehend or interact with gods as I do now. It’s a strikingly strong difference; today, I have very tangible, palpable experiences with my gods. Some 8-10 years ago, I didn’t – I just aimed my devotion, my love, and my prayers at Them and hoped They heard me. I would occasionally feel the presence of a god, but that was usually Cernunnos, not Brigid or Lugh.

Yet Brigid remained incredibly important to me, however little I studied Her, however little I directly experienced Her. I started calling February 2 the Day of Fire and looked to it as the first hope of spring, the first landmark that winter’s hold would begin to loosen over the snow-dowsed mountains. The time between my personal new year on Jan 15 and the Day of Fire on Feb 2 was a period of incubation and preparation for steering the new year, a time of imagining and planning how I would continue to build my own self.

Brigid, first and foremost to me, was the Lady of the Forge. Hearth-fire was well and good; it protected, it gave life through its warmth and light, but it was the heat and deep color of the forge that stood out the most to me. I was, and still am, ever-changing; the forge became a way to rebuild myself. When terrible things happened and stripped away parts of me, I knew I was only being melted down, the dross removed, in order to be reforged into a stronger, different person. I found comfort and security through radical changes and hard times by knowing that I was in Brigid’s forge, being improved time and time again.

I am still very fond of Brigid and Her Day of Fire, which is coming up rather quickly. Maybe I’ll reach out to Her once more.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.