In the Irish myths a mysterious phrase crops up: the gods and the non-gods (or un-gods). We all know what a god is, but what is an non-god?
My first post on the Irish goddess Boand sparked a question on the Mythology Stack Exchange about cows as symbols of wisdom. There is a blog called The Wisdom of Cows, but I suspect that a mythological version wouldn’t run long.
However, Boand is the goddess of the river Boyne, and there are many examples of river-goddesses who give inspiration, wisdom and sometimes musical talent to their worshippers. Continue reading
Check out my piece on Cernunnos and Flidais on the Dun Brython blog.
One of the things everyone knows about Irish mythology is that the deities we all know (Brigit, the Dagda, Boand, Ogma, etc.) are all members of the Tuatha de Danann, the people or tribe of the goddess Danu.
However, none of the Irish sources mention this goddess, who was an important enough ancestor that her name identified all of her descendants. (Imagine if the Olympian gods of Greece were known as the Gaians, for example.) Some Celtic scholars have gone so far as to doubt the existence of any such deity. Why?
(Photo by Robert Verzo, from Flickr.)
The Irish goddess Boand is famous for two things: she is the mother of the young god Aengus, whom she carried to term in a single (nine-month-long) day, and the river Boyne is named for her, after she caused it to gush forth from a magical well.
Books Reviewed: Pagan Portals: Brigit – Morgan Daimler, Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess – Courtney Weber, Brigid: Goddess, Druidess and Saint –Brian Wright, Brigit: Sun of Womanhood – Patricia Monaghan and Michael McDermott, and The Rites of Brigid: Goddess & Saint – Seán Ó Duinn.
“A teacher of mine believes a whole spiritual tradition could be filled solely with Brigid devotees…” (Weber, Loc. 49) This is probably true, and you could certainly fill a bookshelf with volumes on Brigit, goddess and saint. For this post I wanted to review books that would be easily available, written for a popular audience, and likely to appeal to readers. I could easily have gone past five, but anyone who is that enthusiastic about Brigit will no doubt find more on their own.
The imagery of the Greek Gorgon can be traced back to Persian and Near Eastern art, but the myth of the beautiful Medusa seems to come from a different source. A story found in various forms in Greece, India, Ireland and Wales tells of a woman who either becomes a horse or has a strong equine connection, gives birth to twins and suffers greatly.
However, Demeter, Saranyu, Macha and Rhiannon are goddesses, while Medusa is considered a monster. Still, her story is so similar to these others that it obviously descends from the same Indo-European myth.
You might wonder, why are salmon wise? Their ability to return to their birthplace to spawn may have given rise to the idea that they had special knowledge. Their travelling between salt and fresh water shows an adaptability most fish don’t have, and their jumping (immortalized in the Celtic warrior’s salmon leap) is impressive, and gives them their English name (from Latin salire, to jump).