What does “Shining Ones” mean?

riders_of_the_sidheJohnDuncan
“Riders of the Sidhe” by John Duncan

The first Irish fairies were not small and winged, but tall, ageless and sometimes radiant. They were the Tuatha dé Danann (Clan of Danu), who possessed more-than-human abilities.

In Ireland, they encountered fierce, seafaring raiders called Formorians, also people with extraordinary talents but normal lifespans. The two groups clashed.

The TDD eventually defeated the Formorians, but were, themselves, vanquished by incoming Celts. Banished to the hills, the TDD gained the name People of the Hills (Daione Sidhe), which was shortened to Sidhe (pronounced Shee). The Sidhe fought against Viking with mortals at the Battle of Clontarf, 1014 C.E.

In later years, not everyone felt comfortable naming them. Just as characters in the Harry Potter series called Voldemort “You-Know-Who” or He-Who-MustNot-Be-Named, the Irish referred to these powerful beings as “Shining Ones”, “Gentry” or “Fair Folk.” Fair folk is the source of the word “fairy.”

Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe explains what the ever-living ones and their descendants are doing today. And who knows? If you’re Irish, you might be part-Shining One, too. http://tinyurl.com/pqd2bnl

 

 

Multifaceted Brigid

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…and Brigit, that was 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.—Lady Gregory, Gods and Fighting Men, 1904

The Tuatha dé Danann arrived in Ireland without their goddess-mother, Danu. Danu does not appear in the annals as a living presence. The role of feminine divine fell to her granddaughter, Brigid, who became so popular with the Irish that they would not convert to Christianity and leave her behind. All that Goddess Brigid had been, Saint Brighid (c. 451–525 CE) became.

Danann Brigid suffered through an unhappy, political marriage as well as the betrayal and death of her son. She was a healer, metalworker, inventor and warrior. She controlled fire. Goddess Brigid protected mothers and infants, inspired poets, and demonstrated her presence through both fire (Brigid’s Flame) and water (Brigid’s Well). Both well and flame are visible today, despite attempts by the Church and by Henry VIII to quench the flame.

…in 1220 AD, a Bishop disagreed with policy of non-admittance of men to the Abbey of Saint Brigid of Kildare. The Arch-bishop of Dublin, Henry of London, insisted that as nuns were subordinate to priests they must open the abbey to inspection by a priest. They refused and requested the inspections be carried out by a female official such as another Abbess. The Bishop was not impressed with this show of disobedience and decreed that the keeping of the eternal flame was a Pagan custom and consequently demanded that the sacred flame to be extinguished. The flame was thought to have been briefly extinguished but was quickly relit by the local people and the Eternal flame survived up to the suppression of the monasteries in the sixteenth century. It was at this time that King Henry VIII demanded the destruction of many monasteries and the Eternal flame was extinguished but never forgotten.–Clas Merdin blog

St. Brighid, true to her namesake, was no ordinary nun. Ordained as a bishop despite her gender, she founded monasteries, a school for art, and managed the eternal flame of Goddess Brigid (converted to a Christian symbol). Stories of the saint’s life echo the goddess’ actions: generosity, healing, care of mothers and children, inspiration of poets and artists, and metal working.

St. Brighid’s day, February 1st, is the festival called Candlemas or Lady Day. Brigid’s festival, Imbolc, is held on February 2nd. It celebrates the return of life after winter.

Sources:

Lady Augusta Gregory Gods and Fighting Men The story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Ireland-arranged-English-Gregory-ebook/dp/B006W12KRM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454102322&sr=1-1&keywords=Lady+gregory+gods

Clas Merdin blog http://clasmerdin.blogspot.com/2014/02/brigids-eternal-flame.html

Art: Joanna Powell Colbert  http://www.gaiansoul.com/shop/art-prints/print-brigid-at-the-forge/

 

 

 

Another World

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Ireland’s Tuatha dé Danann: Myth or History?

If you were an Irish school child before World War II, you’d have learned your history began with the Mythological Cycle, accounts written by medieval monks based on oral tradition going back at least two millennia. Though these texts were considered factual until the 1940s, later historians regarded them as fabulous tales suitable only for fireside storytelling.

One of the texts, the Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Takings of Ireland, also known as The Book of Invasions) dates from the middle of the Twelfth Century (around 1150 C.E.). According to the LGE, five groups entered Ireland before the arrival of the “Milesians” (Celtic Gaels, ancestors of the modern Irish).

The first three groups died out or left the island, while the fourth, called Fir Bolgs, stayed to meet the fifth wave, the Tuatha dé Danann (Clan of Danu). Described as tall, fair haired and beautiful, Dananns possessed more than mortal abilities. Shapeshifting, great strength, resurrection of the dead, magical metalworking, and spellcasting were some of their more remarkable skills. Above all, they never grew old.

After battling the Fir Bolgs for territory, the Dananns settled into a peaceful life until fierce Nordic raiders called Formorians demanded tribute and slaves from them, as they had from earlier peoples. To pacify the Formorians, the Dananns elected Bres, a man with both Formorian and Danann parents, to be their king.

Their strategy failed when Bres proved to be a stingy, selfish king. After he was deposed, he went to the Formorians seeking allies to force the Dananns out of Ireland; instead, Dananns defeated Formorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. Later, incoming Celts expelled the Dananns to an underground world. Now called People of the Hills (Daoine Sidhe) or simply, Sidhe, Dananns were said to return to Ireland at will throughout the centuries. In 1014, they joined mortals in the fighting Danes at the Battle of Contarf near Dublin according W.Y. Evans-Wentz in his book, The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries (1911).

Hard to believe?

Imagine if the Bible’s New Testament books were transmitted from elder to youth in the same way—seven hundred generations of retelling—before being set down in writing in the year 2000. How much would be lost? How much added? Would dubious scholars, disturbed by accounts of miracles, dismiss all as fantasy?

In my book, Shining Ones, I take the Tuatha dé Danann into the modern world. As one Danann descendant puts it,

Our history became legend, legend turned to fairytale until no believed we ever existed.

And that is just as we wish it to be.