Oiche Fhéile Bhríde: The Eve of St. Brighid’s Feast

Tomorrow night is perhaps one of the most celebrated in Ireland.  No, there won’t be any mad parties or green beer; not even wild heathen drumming on the High Places.  Instead, the evening is about family, purification, and continuity of ancient practice.You see, the last night of January is the eve of St. Brighid’s Feast–the eve of Imbolc–and it’s a big deal.  The indigenous Irish marked the beginning of their festivals at sundown, and deemed that dark time especially potent.  [Consider … [Read more...]

Urban Witchcraft: The Power of Rot

Decomposition : creative commons

In Ireland,  the chthonic energy of decay is experienced as Crom Dubh, the dark, bent one who takes the grain under the ground.  He was a sacrificial god heavily associated with Lughnasadh.  In fact, while many Irish people may never have heard of the ‘festival of Lughnasadh’ (apart from the movie), they have certainly heard of Crom Dubh’s Day: Dé Domhnaigh Crum-Dubh.  This is a day of pilgrimage to the high places: a custom maintained with the yearly climb of Croagh Patrick.  More anciently, Cro … [Read more...]

Oiche na Sprideanna Approaches

Traditional_Irish_halloween_Jack-o'-lantern

As we approach the Irish festival of Samhain, I want to share some little known lore. Then on the eve of samain (November 1) precisely Mongfind dies.  So this is The Death of Mongfind the Banshee.  Hence samain is called by the rabble Féile Moingfhinne  "Mongfhionn's feast", for she was a witch and had magical power while she was in the flesh; wherefore women and the rabble make petitions to her on samain-eve. Stokes, Whitley (1903). Revue Celtique 24: 179 A prominent hill called Cnoc Samhna  … [Read more...]

Naturalizing: Bringing Our Practice Home

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My years in Ireland were like graduate school.  They challenged my thoughts on spirituality, witchcraft, and culture.  While living outside my culture of origin, I chose to drop my identifiers and preconceived ideas.  I sought to experience my culture of residence with fresh eyes and an insider perspective.  Irish mythology and folklore have shaped much of our understanding, and practice of paganism.  The very names used for significant seasonal celebrations are influenced by Irish language and c … [Read more...]

St. John’s Holy Well: east Cork [photos]

and we're off...

Down my lane is a Well.  It's an Old Well, long venerated and hallowed; a place of quiet contemplation and healing.  This Well, now dedicated to St. John, is an eye Well; it's known for its eye cures.  The rounds are held in August, they say to commemorate the beheading of St. John, but we know it was a Lughnasadh Well, don't we.  Think about it:Turas (Patron or Rounds) traditionally done at the end of August (remember, that is the date for Old Lughnasadh - before the calendar cha … [Read more...]

A Night In The Mound

carowkeel-and-the-miners-historical-way_1

One time they [the king of Ireland’s three sons: Ruide, Fiacha, and Eochaid] went to talk with their father at the Grave of the Druids [fert na ndruadh] to the northwest of Tara. Where have you come from? he asked them. From Echlais Banguba in the south, they replied, from the home of our nurse and guardian. They were dressed in beautiful cloaks: a green cloak on the eldest, Ruide; a fringed woolen cloak from the Land of Promise on Fiacha; and a blue one on Eochaid, who had a band of shining s … [Read more...]

Night Sounds: An Sionnach In East Cork

Monday night, shortly after midnight, I was pulled from my bed by the strangest sound. I had been reading when I heard it, and at first I thought it was a cow, or maybe the sheep dog down the lane. But when it came again I didn’t recognize it, so I crawled over to the window-seat and leaned out of the upstairs window, hoping to hear more clearly. The valley below was shrouded in a thin mist, which was illumined under a cloudy sky. It was deathly still, with not a whisper of wind. Then the call c … [Read more...]


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