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The bird geis, the mute swan; the colour gorm, blue; the dates: September 30 until October 27.
GAB, a tattling mouth, from Scot. gab, gabbach, garrulous, scolding, talkative, a gossiping female, MEng. gabben , to chatter, mock, gab. The Norse gabb, mockery. The Eng. gab. GÀBAIRT, a transport ship, cf. Scot. gabert, possibly from Fr. gabarre, a ship carrying stores. a lighter,
GÀBHADH, danger, peril, emergency, jeopardy, surprise, wonder, obs. gabhadach, artful, cunning, EIr. gád, danger. Lat. hé-res. See next. GABHADH-BHEI, “in danger from fire,” the druidical ordeal by fire as a proof of honesty of intent or innocence. Survival from the flames was considered to vindicate the applicant. The next word is related. GABHANN, flattery, word magic, gossip, from gabh, “to take in.” Gab, a tattle-tale, gabhadh, danger, peril, gabhar, a goat. The Eng. gab, gabby. See boc and the words immediately below. See next. GABHD, to take, a crafty trick from Sc. gaud, a trick, from Latin gaudium. The Eng. give. See above and below. GABHLAN, a wanderer devoid of care, a trickster, a “goatman.” Strangers were credited with honouring "crafty" gods and were thought apt to cheat people since they had no
obligations in the community they visited. See above entries. The goat is particularly associated with the nature-spirit known as Cernu. GABHRA CATHA, the Battle of Gowra, Ireland; the last great conflict in which the Féinn took part and were exterminated. Cairbre, the high-king, hoping to curb the power of what had become a private army following the death of Fionn mac Cumhail, provoked a quarrel. The Féinn, led by Osgar, fought against Clan Morna, who sided with the king. In the battle Cairbre and Osgar killed one another. The site of this battle is usually given as Garristown, County Dublin. GACHANNACH. Any drink strong enough to make one gasp. Harsh. GAD, a withe, thong, cord, iron bar, inherent in a bad sense; Lat. hasta, a spear, Eng. gad, a bar, also our word yard. The Gaelic spear was reusable being attached to the wrist with a thong. Gadluinn, a slender human, a feeble fellow, a salmon after spawning. The Daoine sidh or “little people” were not small but tall and slender. Thus a device used by these folk. The cliabhan or creel was made by twisting and interweaving the gad. In days past a newly married couple was supplied with two creels filled with stones which were set upon the back of “a steady horse.” The animal was encouraged to wander and when some of the gad snapped under the stones and the baskets fell to earth this was understood to be the place where the new couple should build a home and raise a family. As the proverb says “The land that comes must be accepted!” Before the withes could be used to make baskets they had to be steeped in water; thus Is mithich a bhi bogadh nan gad, “It is time to wet the withes,” implies any preparations made for a journey. GAE BULG, GAE BOLG a “belly spear,” a “bag spear,” the "magical" weapon carried by Cúchullain. Said to be "a notched spear" made from "the bones of a sea-monster." Gad, gath, a dart, a sting, a rod made of metal, bulas, hooked,
also, bolla, a bowl or vessel. similar to Eng. buoy. Rolleston says the weapon was foot-propelled. Cúchullain was given his gae bolg by one of the Daoine sidh, the warrior queen known as Aoife, who he seduced while in training on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. In his first encounter with it Cu Cúchullain killed his own son Connla, born of this "fairy-maiden." Thus the balancing of the tables; men who were given great advantages by the Bafinne or “Fates” were led to expect equal disadvantages. Cúchullain also used this weapon to kill his friend Ferdiad and Queen Mebd’s champion Loc mac Mofebis. Although the rod made one entry wound it opened into thirty individual hooks within the body, “filling every limb and crevice with wounds.” This mystery weapon was probably of two distinct parts, viz. the Scot. bools, a pot hook consisting of two articulated parts, the Eng. bow, which has a similar construction. The word also confers with bolt and bag, and may bear some relationship with the people who were called the Firbolge. It is known that the active part of the weapon was bounced beneath body armour from the ground, so it may have resembled the catapults which were used by the Norse, and are mentioned in the Kings Mirror. They had a long lever-arm, at the outer end of which was a bowl or sling. In it was laid a heavy round stone, or more rarely a container for combustible matter. It is stated that the armament was jarthkol, or “coal ground into sulphur. The so-called “casting-stones” were baked clay with pebbles embedded in it. When these clay balls were slung out, “they burst in pieces and the enemy was left with nothing to throw back.” In the literature the “great black ball” used as shot is referred to as “a sheep’s paunch,” which suggests it may have been contained in a leather bag. When the Norse used it against the Greenlanders it made the distinctive herbrestr, or “war-crash, which has
been likened to the explosion of a volcano. One was demonstrated at the court of Eric Magnusson, in Bergen, at the Yule in 1294. “It gives such a loud report that few men can bear to hear it, women who are with child and hear the crash are prematurely delivered, and men fall from their seats to the floor, or have various fits.” A local named Thrand showed Laurentius (bishop of Iceland, 1323-30) what was necessary to produce the crash: fire, brimstone, parchment and tow (apparently saltpetre). Men often take recourse to this weapon as those unfamiliar with it are likely to take to flight.” As aruebusts or firearms were not yet invented this device was called the prandar fisiler. This may relate to the ON. fusillus, a device for striking fire. The word herbrestr is likely to confer with vábretr, “a crash announcing great news or disaster, i.e. any production that causes supernatural fear.” It would seem that the gae bulg was the Celtic precursor of this weapon, which may have passed from them or the Norse to the Algonquin Indians of eastern North America. Schoolcraft mentions the fact that the aboriginals had “a weapon of war in ancient times, a great round stone which was sewed into a piece of raw hide and fastened thereby to the end of a long wooden shaft.” The Skaelings, encountered by the Norse on their first recorded visits to America had a similar device but it seems to have lacked the explosive ingredients although the sound of the hide-bags passing through the air was terrifying to the Europeans. Anne Ross has noted that this weapon could not be extracted from the body “without tearing out the guts.” She compares the device with the Celtic javelin described by Diordotus Siculus: “Some of their spears are forged with a straight head, while some are spiral with breaks throughout their entire length so that the blow not only cuts but tears the flesh, and recovery of the spear tears open the wound.” GAE RUADH. The “Red Javelin,” the spear of the ocean-god Manann mac Ler.
GAFANN, henbane, gaf, a hook, gafal, a nerve, gabhann. gossip, from gabh, “taken in,” tricked by word-play. A fetid Old World herb, a deadly poison to fowls. From this property it is called “black henbane” and is included in preparations such as the witch “flying-ointment,” and in medicines having properties similar to that of belladonna. GÀG CEUD, Prime Gap, “Beginning Cleft,” the first place of life and being, An Domhain. ON. Ginnungugap. Gàg, a cleft, a chink, Eng. gap and gape. Greek abyss from which the Eng. chaos, Lat. fauces, the throat, Cy. gag, possibly the Eng. jag. GAIAR. The son of Manann mac Ler whose affair with Bécuma caused her exile from the western Atlantic land of Tir Tairnigri. GAIDHLIG, Gàidheal. Ir. Gaoidhilig, Gaedhilig, the Erse and the Irish language. Gàidheal, a highland Scot; Gaoidheal, an Irishman, EIr. Góedel, (1100 AD). Also seen as Gaideli. The Cy. Gwyddel, Irishman. The root may be ghâdh, the Eng. good, god, thus “god-like,” Germ. gud, etc. The word has been compared with the Gaul. Geidumni, which confers with the Lat. hoedus, a goat or “goat man.” Notice that the Scots were, in historic times, referred to as “goat-men by Continentals. See boc. The Gaelic root-word appears to be ghadh from which their word gabhar and gabhlan, a wandering man, one devoid of care. Gaelic is currently considered to be the name of the language and people of the Scottish Highlands. The oldest foreign reference to Ireland, in the sixth century before Christ, gives it the name Ierna. Aristotle in his Book of the World also favoured this name. In the first half of the first century Pomponius Mela called it Iuvernia, but the Romans preferred Hibernbia or Scotia. The Scottish matter is probably the most confusing element in Irish history, since the related word Scotland was eventually applied to Ireland’s northwestern neighbour, the land at first called Alba. Scotia is a name from literate times but was claimed
to be derived from Scota, the first queen-mother of the Milesians (and thus a counterpart of Danu). The term Scoti was definitely preferred by continental writers as the name for the people of Eiru. Thus it is explained that “Hibernia is the nation of the Scots,” Scotia being a name “which links itself to no land on earth.” As late as the seventh century, we find native “Irishmen” referring to themselves as Scots when they were in exile. Further, as time passed, they even began to designate their homeland as “the land of Scots.” In the third century the Scots began a colonization of the southwestern peninsula of Dal Riada in Alba. The first colonies in this new place received military help from Tara in order to put down the neighbouring Picts.In the following century, a Munsterman, Lugaid mac Conn, fleeing from enemies, made himself the chief power in this new land. From his son came the ancestors of the lords of Argyle; the MacAllens, Campbells and the MacCallums. A hundred years further on Cabri Riata established kingdoms in both Ireland and Scotland. The Picts were not enamoured of any of this and would have driven the Scots from their land, except for the efforts of the high-king Niall of the Nine Hostages. The effect of all this was the establishment of a huge military presence in Alba by the sixth century, when it became an independent kingdom under Aedh ard-righ. For a time it was powerful enough to hold Antrim, in Ireland proper, as an appanage. That was the state of things until the end of the eight century when began to pressure them in Argyllshire and Dalriada. Looking for a more secure place they marched into Pictland and conducted campaigns against these people until 850 A.D., when Cinead (Kenneth) mac Alpein completely overthrew the Picts by very devious means, and became high-king of all Scotia, Some claim that he even subdued the Britons on his southern borders and the AngloDanish population of the southeast. At this time, with the Scotic people in a position of power, Ireland was called Scotia Major and Scotland, Scotia Minor, but the title fell away from Ireland as their power waned. In the eleventh century, when all Scotland
was dominated by Gaelic-speakers (excepting headlands, and the western and northern islands which were under the Norse), the kingship passed to Mylcollum (Malcolm) who married Margaret, a daughter of King Edmund, an AngloSaxon monarch. Unfortunately for the Scots, he was easily swayed by her, and their son Edgar was entirely English in name and outlook. When he was crowned king, a division developed between the highland tribes and the lowland English kinsman of the king. In the thirteenth century, Gaeldom flickered and went out as a force in the north, the old Irish line becoming extinct with Alisdair (Alexander III) in 1297. Afterwards there began the long wars for succession which ended with the old-English families of Bruce and Balliol firmly on the throne of Old Scotland. There is some correspondence between the old warrior-magicians of pre-Milesian times and the Scots: When the Scots invaded Alba they found present-day Scotland divided into seven territories, and they continued with these divisions. “Each district was termed a Tuath or tribe; several Tuaths formed a Mortuath (sea-tribe) or great tribe, two or more Mortuaths a Coicidh or province, at the head of which was the righ, or King. Each province contributed a portion of its territory at their junctions to form a central district, which was the capital of the whole country, and the King who was elected to be its sovereign had his seat of government here. The central district, where the four southern met was Perthshire and counted Scone as its capital. The northern Tuaths adjoined at Moraigh (near the sea). In the twelfth century the system was modified and the righ was no longer held by the heads of the Tuath and Mortuath. but at the head of the former was the toiseeach (the beginning or front one) and of the Mortuath, the mormaer (the great mayor or major, the sea-ruler, or great steward).” It is possible that these designations were picked up from the Picts, but it is more likely they were
names visited upon the Scots by their Irish enemies. If this is so, it is likely that sea-faring Scots numbered survivors from the old Fomorian sea-kingdoms in the west. It is almost a homely to say that pre-Roman Britain was inhabited by a people “who were mainly Celtic and that the Celts reached this country in three principal waves of immigration. One wave came to the east coast by way of the North Sea, another by way of the Gaul to the South of England, and the third from the Continent by way of Irealand.” This is the view of most historians, although there is no written magic to back up the idea that all the peoples of the islands arrived from the east. In the black well of times long past historians are as much adrift as mythologists, and many of these have a contrary opinion. These is the problem of Irish Gaelic, which is still considered the most antique of all the Celtic tongues. Aryan scholars say that the Indo-European tongues started in northern India and spread slowly from there westward. Professor Schleider (1874) that this Celtic tongue has the appearance of a separation from the supposed root (Sanskrit) at a later date than the Cymric and Brythonic tongues, but they are supposedly of more recent evolution. Worse still, Gaelic has the look of being more closely allied with Latin than any of the supposed Indo-European affiliates. These idiosyncracies suggest that Gaelic might have spread from Ireland to the east, where it collided with, and became associates of the west-bound language which is now preserved in English, German and the Scandinavian tongues. We are then left with the question of where the Gaelic vocabulary originated and are led back to the fact that the Celto-Iberian tongues have “more analogies with American types than with any other.” In his book, On the Phenomena of Hybridity in the Genus Homo,, Paul Broca (1869) said that “Of all Europeans, we must provisionally hold the Basques to be the oldest inhabitants of our quarter of the world.” He said that their language, the Euscara, “has some common traits with the Magyr (Hungary), Osmanli, and other dialects
of the Altai family, as for instance, with the Finnic, on the old continent, as well as the Algonquin-Lenape languages and others in America.” Gaelic has been given similar attachments both from a shared vocabulary with the Algonquin languages and with parallels in the myths of the two people. Folklorist Mary L. Fraser has examined some of these correspondences and concludes that, “The closeness of the (mythic) parallels show that the Indians and the Celts in the far distant past were in direct communications with one another, or were in touch with the same source of inspiration. According to Indian tradition, the white man came from the East, and the Indians from the West, yet there must have been a (very early) common meeting-ground somewhere, sometime. “There are few remains of the Gaulish or Continental branch of the Celtic vocabulary and grammar, what words there are being place-names or inscriptions on tombs. The tongues of the (British) islands were two: Gaelic and Brythonic. The Britons have their name from the Cruithe , who the Romans called the Picts. Gaelic itself has three dialects: the Irish tongue, the Erse (spoken in Scotland) and Manx which is considered a degenerate, more modern form, of early Irish. The Breton tongue is sub-divided into the Welsh of Wales and that of Cornwall, the latter being practically extinct. The Bas-Breton is closely akin, being the speech of tribes who migrated from southern England at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. They settled that part of France anciently called Armoricia, and now Brittany, the latter in view of the fact that the ancient language of the Breatanns is still in use there. It is usually assumed that Irish and Scottish Gaelic represent an older form than Welsh, and that all three are more antique than any of the British tongues. If folklore is believed the “goat-men” arrived in Britain, forced the aboriginals into the north and west, and were similarly treated by successive waves of their continental kindred, who also arrived without invitation.
The Indo-Europeans, including the Brythonic speakers, had no difficulty handling the pronunciation of words incorporating the letter “p” but the early Celts had a peculiar inability to deal with the letter. As a result they often dropped it from the beginning of words. An example would be the old Indo-European pare, the Latin par, meaning “by.” The Celts interpreted this as are, and we see it thus in Are-moricia, the Amoricians, those who lived “by the sea; Are-dunum, Ardun,those who lived “by the fortress,”and similar place-names. When the letter was not entirely neglected it was changed to indicate a slightly different sound. Usually the replacement letter was a “c, k,” or “g.” In the sixth century, the continental or Brythonic speakers regained the use of this lost sound, and in some cases replaced the hard sounds of these letters with the softer “p.” Thus the original name for old England was Cruithne, the land of “pictured (or tattooed) men among the early Irish. Their Brythonic compatriots, the Cymri, better known as the Welsh of Wales, understood the beginning letter as a “p” and thus referred to the eastern lands as Prydain. The Romans restructured this word as Brittan. An often used example of the difference between “q”-speakers and “p”-speakers is found in the Celtic equivalents of the English word “son.” The Gaels represent this as mac, the Welsh as map. There is obviously no prejudice against the continental “p” in the Welsh version, but they found it impossible to voice the “m” in this particular word, and dropped it creating ap as their version. Eventually even the “a” was seen as redundant and was eliminated. This explains the evolution of many Welsh family names, for example ap Rhys, which was ultimately converted to Price; ap Howell, which was contracted to Powell, and ap Ownen, which became Powning. The difference between the Gaelic mhic and mhac are those of a plural as against a singular form. It is noteworthy that early Irish insisted on destroying the letter “p” even in historic times: Adopting the Latin Pasch, a name for Easter, they changed it to Casg. Similarly purpur, a word meaning purple, became corcair. "The Gaelic," remarked Arland Ussher, "is a language
of prodigious diversity of sound and expressiveness of phrase...It has about twice the number of sounds that other European languages can boast..."1 Another Celt, agreed that Gaelic has spellings which are highly poetical, but labels this diversity as "a learner's labyrinth".2 The trouble comes from the fact that the Gaels were a verbal rather than a literate people. The magical binding of words to paper, from which they might be reincarnated, was never a part of the ancient Gaelic crafts. When their words were finally set to paper, they reflected many pronounciations, and the Gaels had no writers of the status of Chaucer and Shakespeare, whose work might serve as a standard. As a result, "English renderings of ancient Irish names, naturally, vary considerably, and of course there is no "official" or "correct" spelling of any of them." 3 One example: In ancient Irish Gaelic what we refer to as the leprachaun was entitled the lubarkin. In Ulster this sidhman was the lucharman; in Cork, the claurican; in Kerry, the luricaun; and in Tipperary, the lurigaudaun. GAINSIG, GAINISG, GAINNISG. GAINISGEAG, sedge, also a minor divinity of marsh and sedge-lands; a banshee, "always moaning for deaths to come." The plant used to create the smudge for the Quarter-Day fires. Literally an “elf-arrow.” “Thus, when Donald Gorm awaited death by hanging at Creag Asduinn in North Uist, he was observed in obsessive predawn conversation with his gainnisg. No man could hear all of what passed between the condemned and his invisible partner, but the man was heard to say "Little do I envy the red-headed one and the couple." At daylight he was hanged, but before dusk, his hangman, a red-haired individual, was found drowned near rocks known as “The Couple.” See following entry.
Colum, A Treasury of Irish Folklore, preface, xiv.
Madeg, "Celtic Spellings", For A Celtic Future, p. 114. Colum, A Treasury of Irish Folklore, p. 52.
GAINNE-SITH, GAINSIG, an elf-arrow or dart. “It was claimed that the sigh carried "quivers of "adder-slough" (snake casting) and bows made of the ribs of a man buried where three laird's lands meet; their arrows are made of bog reed, tipped with white flints and dipped in the dew of hemlock (which was poisonous)...With their arrows they shoot the cattle of those who offend them; the wound is invisible to common eyes, but there are gifted personages who can discern and cure it." (Gnomes Fairies Elves and Other Little People, pp. 351-352). These elf-arrows actually exist as triangular bits of flint, supposedly the heads of arrows used by the Neolithic men of Britain. Though more plentiful in Scotland, they are also found in England and Ireland, and in those places are associated with the "fairies." The wounds they make are said invisible to the ordinary physician but dangerous in the extreme. In the early Anglo-Saxon epics, they are referred to alternately as the "arrows of the elfs” or "arrows of the gods," suggesting that earlier men made few distinctions between these two species of creature from the Unseen World. GAIRM-OLC, gairm, call; Bry. garm, a shout; olc, bad, one bringing on the wrath of a vengeful spirit. It was a tenet of Gaelic wisdom that the name of an individual was intimately associated with his spirit, thus a god could be called at the mere mention of his name. Similarly, it was tabooed to mention the names of certain things that happened to be associated with questionable spirits. It was also bad form to give one's own name to a stranger, or mention the names of certain animals after dark for fear that the spirit of that person or animal might fall under the sway of some dark lord. When a Hebridean drover noticed that the local priest was pasturing sheep on a field known to be "bad for cattle" he had to approach the subject obliquely, thus: "It's telling this matter to the stones I am and not to you, father..." It was supposed that the evil spirit of this patch of land would not be indifferent to any mention of his doings. The speaker did not wish to inadvertently injure the priest or his flock of animals, thus this address, which was intended to mislead this "devil of
the land." Neither will the Gaels speak openly of the "kiln-fire" but address it euphemistically as "aingeal" or "light" of the kiln. The first metal-smelting kilns were known to be the workings of master-magicians, such as the goddess Brigit and it was not considered rational to draw supernatural attention by mentioning her business activities. There is a proverb: "Ill will come if mentioned." The same holds for the matter of speaking of "bathadh" or drowning, which is termed "the clean death", "spoiling" or "destroying" for fear of drawing a similar fate through the unwise use of language. The Devil is never given any real title, or named as a pagan god. He is always "the great fellow," "the black one, "the nameless creature," "the brindled one," or "the evil one." Freer tells of a priest who gave an evening hymn to an elder, one in which the word "diabhol" (devil) was actually spelled out. He took each copy and carefully annotated the text, inserting a euphemism where required. The man afterwards explained that the deletions were necessary because he could not go to bed with such a word in memory. Hell was, necessarily, "the hot place," "the cold place," "the bad place," or even "the good place," in the same way that the sigh are "the good folk;" all classic cases of whistling in the dark. It was never suggested that a cow or horse had died, the proper form being, "it was lost." In asking a question it was always thought prudent to preface the question with, "It is not for myself I am asking this..." If an evil presence happened to be interested in the news it was hoped that the attention of this spirit would be directed elsewhere. GAIS, a lance, a wisp of straw, wisdom, plenty, a torrent, craft, cunning, to shrivel, blast, corrupt, spear, weapon. See gaisde. In some places it was claimed that the fay rode the night winds on wisps of straw. GAISE, a daunting, withering, flaw, blemish, injury,
blasting, a qualm, cf. gais, shrived. See above and below. Gaist, ensnare, deceive, trick. See gaisde. GAISGEACH NA SGEITHE DEIRGE, “The Knight of the Red Shield,” a character in Walter Scot’s Gaelic folklore. In this tale a local king was hunting with his retinue and chose to rest on a grave-mound. While he was there a head encircled by fire approached him. A second head also approached, singing as it came. Out of fear, or some other emotion, the ard-righ arose and struck the singing-head in the mouth. This dislodged a tooth and gold and silver showered from the mouth. This supernatural returned to this spot for three consecutive years before finally retreating to the Otherworld. See ceann, for related matter concerning disembodied heads. GAISDE, a magical trap, a trap, gaiste, ensnare, gin, wisp of hay or straw, wile, a cunning trick; OIr. goiste, a noose, from gaoisd, horse-hair. "The horsehair charm or countercharm;" a wisp of straw used in magic and counter-magic. The hair from a black stallion’s tail was commonly used as a token in Atlantic Canada during the last century. Those who sought the remedy were advised to tie the hair in a pocket of black silk and wear this about the neck. A resident at Norton, New Brunswick (prior to 1923) has said that hair from a cow’s tail has no virtue, “I had to get a black stallion’s hair and I’ve never had a sore throat in all these seven years, except once about two months ago when I mislaid my cord. My throat got sore but I found the cord soon after and now I am well again (Highways & Byways, p. 5). GAL. obs., valour, smoke, vapour, gale, puff, blast of flame, burning straw, kindred, warfare, slaughter, Cy. galla, Bry. galloet, Cor. gallos, might. From this the national name Galatae, a Galatian as well as Gallus, a Gaul. See gall, a stranger. Note the current secondary meaning, “weeping,” Indo-European root, gel, pain, suggesting unhappy relations between Celts. But notice that galan indicates a good or brave girl. Galli was a name which the Romans applied
generally to the Celts. See next. GALAD, womanish, homosexual, an expression of pity: “Poor girl!”” GALAR BAN-SITH. galar, disease, distemper, malady, Illness of the sidh-women. Sickness in men and animals generated bt the magic of the side-hill folk. GALAR NOITID, obs.. pregnancy. Hinging on an old, an invalid idea, that such “diseases” were caused by spiritual possession. GALATAE, from gal, valourous. Eng. Galatian, a Gaelic throne name, also rendered in the lowland dialect as Galashan, Goloshan, Gallashen, Galashun, and occasionally as Galgacus. The leader of gighise, mummers, or disguisers, at the time of Samhain, or Hogmanay. This semi-legendary hero is supposed to have routed a "superior" Roman army sent into the northlands to subdue him. The root-word is gal, valour, war; Cor. gallos, might; from the same source, Gallus, a Gaul (the Celts of France and parts of England). Noteworthy is gall, a lowlander, a stranger (see separate entry), the Gauls being the first foreigners to visit the Gaels. The root may be ghas, a guest, similar to the Latin hos-tis, a guest, and thus Gallus. Galatae may have been a visiting god-hero. In any instance, he represents the sun, summer, and all things of worth. His antagonist in the medieval playlets was often "the admiral of the hairy caps." Clearly, this was an annual rerun of the god Lugh's fight against Cromm the Crooked and his Fomorian shape-changers, the latter representing darkness, winter, plague, blight and generally disagreeable things. "To the primitive mind it seems that you can make a thing happen by acting out the deed itself. If you wish to destroy your enemy, you melt a wax image of him; if you want rain, you splash water about; if you want your crops to grow tall, you perform a dance where you leap high in the
air. When the dark barren days of winter come and you want to bring back the sun and fruitful fields, you enact the birth of the new year by killing and then restoring life to an actor who represents life itself. And every "guisers play consists of three parts that symbolize the death of the old year and the birth of the new one - a fight, the death of the hero and his restoration to life." It has been guessed that the first guiser-plays were instituted at the Samhain, but the lowland Scots tend to follow the notice that "What is played at Yule is also useful at Pasch (Easter)." In Galloway the guisers are known as the Yule boys and their appearance is at Christmas Elsewhere the Hogmanay has been shifted to New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. Wherever they went people tended to be impressed by their ghost-like appearance: "The Gysarts always dress themselves in white. They appear like so many dead persons robed in their shrouds, who have risen from their narrow homes, and the simile is improved because their faces are all painted black or dark blue. Their mutches (moustaches) are sometimes adorned with ribbons of diverse colours, but these seldom enter into their dress." In addition these "first-footers" wore Klu Klux Klan-like "casques of brown paper, shaped like a mitre" on their heads, and wore masks to hide their identity. They were led by King Golashan whose costume was suitable to the role. His immediate followers were appropriately attired as "the admiral of Saint George of England," the Black Knight, the Farmer's Son, the Doctor, and a devil-beast, dressed as a baobh. This pack made its rounds of the homes singing doggerel verse in an expressionless monologue (to further disguise their identities). At the door, the traditional entrance was begged: Rise up guidewife, and shak your feathers, Dinna think that we are beggars; We're only bairns got up to play. Rise up and gie's oor Hogmanay. After an introduction of the characters, the Gaelic king and
his English cousin pair off immediately in a duel, fighting with wooden staffs until Golashans falls "dead" on the floor. The Black Knight is accused of the crime, but being a "true Sassunaich" insists: Oh no, it was not I sir, I'm innocent of the crime, Twas indeed the lad behind me that drew his fine.
Suspicion centres for a moment on the Farmer's Son, but at last, a doctor is called in, who resurrects the hero, thereafter referred to as "Jack", the English equivalent of the god Eochaid, the Horseman of Heaven. The company concludes the play by chanting: Now we will all be brethern, and ne'er fight no more, But we will march together, as we have done before. the grew. This done, the Nathair, sometimes entitled “Beelzebub” or “Judas,” plays his brief role, menacing the onlookers and singing: Here come I, old Beelzebub, And o'er my shoulder I carry a club, And in my hand a dripping pan. I fancy myself a right jolly ol' man. I have a little box that can speak without a tongue. If you have any coppers, then drop in one. An observer wrote: "The common reward of the entertainment is a halfpenny; but many persons fall upon the unfortunate guizards and beat them out of the house." We thank the mistress of this house, likewise master too, As well, the little bairns that round the table
Nevertheless, this oft' repeated play was a sufficiently welcome diversion for most people to come through with payment in cash or kind. When the men of the village abandoned this high ritual it was taken over by boys, who used the money to buy materials for the Samhain bonfire. It has been suggested that Biggar, Scotland, was the last village to pay attention to these rites. The bonfire in the middle of the burgh’s main street was put out by Hitler's blitz. After the war several attempts were made to revive poor dead Golashan but by then television had supplanted it as New Year's Eve entertainment. Theatre workshops revived the essence of the play, but it had less impact in the month of April (which they have chosen for it) and less suspense in the hands of children. GALC, the fulling of cloth, from the English wauk, waulk or walk. In Atlantic Canada, the cloth used to be milled using an "ancient formula:" "Three consecrators placed the web of cloth on the milling table. Then the eldest revolved it once in a sunwise direction (counterclockwise in pagan times) saying, I make a sunwise turn in the service of the Father. Then the second eldest (repeated the action), saying, I make a sunwise turn In the service of the Son. And the youngest followed, saying, I make a sunwise turn In the service of the Spirit. Then the three together said: And each sunwise turn In the service of the Trinity, And each rotation made on it
For the sake of the Trinity. And each sunwise turn In the service of the Trinity. GALIAN, GÁLIOIN, ometimes Fir Gálioin, one of the three sub-tribes of the Firbolgs. Also one of the ancient names for the province of Leinster. Galida, strange, foreign, See Laighin.
GALL, place-name, lowlander, any stranger to the highlands of Scotland. An Englishman. EIr. gall, a foreigner, from Galluis, a Gaul, the first outlanders to visit or be visited by the Irish in pre-Roman times. Gal, valour. Similar to Cy, gal, an enemy. May relate to AS. gast, spirited, and the English word ghastly or ghostly, the Lat. hostis, a guest or hostage, a lowlander, a stranger, from Gallus, the Celticspeaking Gauls (of France) the first to visit the Gaels in pre-Roman times. See Galatae. Later an Alban, a Norse visitor, an Anglo-Norman, and finally an Englishman. Note galloglaigh, babbling stranger, which the Irish used to label the Gaels who had emigrated to Alba and returned as mercenary soldiers in the fourteenth century. Identified in English as the gallowglasses, the clans involved included: MacCable, MacSweeney, MacShechy, MacSorely, MacDonald,
MacNeill and the MacAllen. See above entries. GALLAN, a youth, standing stones, the artifacts which archaeologists have named monoliths or menhirs,. from gall, a lowlander or stranger. Alternately dallán. In former times circles of stone were referred to as the crommliagáe, or “cromlechs,” indicating they were dedicated to the dark lord Cromm or “Crumb.” O’Riordain says these structures are not easily placed in time: “The span of dating evidence - from Bronze Age burials to Early Christian inscriptions shows that the standing stones of Ireland cannot be ascribed to any one period...” GAMHAINN, a year-old calf, a stirk. Ir. gamhuin, EIr. gamuin, from gam, winter, "one winter old. Since the Gaelic year commenced with Samhain it was said: "On Samhuinn eve all calves become stirks." The male lord of the Samhain often dressed in the gamhainn skin as an expression of his regenerate virility and capacity to impregnate the Samh, the inviolate earth-moon-goddess. GAMHANRHIDE, GAMANRAD, see above, + riadh, a snare. The Connacht military elite, their equivalent of the Ulster Red Branch. These were the “stirk-folk,” whose connection with the “side-hill folk” was very close. The wondrous, evergiving, cow of the sidh was their tribal divinity. GAMHLAS, malice, from gann, scarce. See gamhainn. GAN CEANN, gan, pursuing them + cean, genius. A spirit from the sidh which filled young girl’s heads with sexual and other fantasies, preventing them from accomplishing any work. See next. GANCOMER. The amorous but invisible Tuathan who spent his days making love to shepherdesses and milkmaids. Gangaid, a deceit, craft, falsehood, light-headed female, naughty female, mean. Note above entry. GAOID, a blemish, the only disqualification for kingship.
Also stain, disease, flaw,, especially in cattle, rarely, flatulence, wind, from EIr. góet, a stain, a wound. In the Gaelic kingdoms any physical blemish indicated a man out of favour with the gods and one banished from kingship. The Tuathan king Nuada of the Silver Hand was named from the loss of his right-hand in battle against the Firbolgs. Proscribed from kingship he was briefly supplanted by the parsimonious Breas, but regained the crown when his "leech" managed to grow a replacement from the stump. GAOIDHAL GLAS, the name of the mythical patriarch of the Scots race gaoil, family, kindred, violent anger; the language formerly used in the highlands of Scotland. G. gaidhlig, gaidheal, Ir. gaoidhilig, gaedhilig, EIr. goedel (1100 AD), Cy. gwyddel, formerly applied to an ancient inhabitant of Ireland. Root: ghad. similar to the German gut and the English good and god. Perhaps relating to the Latin hoedus, goat-men. According to Seumas MacManus, the first Gael was Gaoidhal Glas who came out of Scythia to live in Egypt. His grandson Niul (Nile or Neal) married a daughter of the Pharaoh, whose name was Scota. Niul and his descendants grew rich and powerful, but the clan was not well-liked by latter-day kings of that realm. As a result, they had to flee through North Africa to Spain, where their leader was Mil. It was the sons of Mil, termed Milesians, who invaded Ireland and established a kingdom at Tara. In the latter days they were forced from Lat. Scotia Major (Ireland) by southern Irish tribesmen. Their final place was the land that the Romans entitled Scotia Minor, which is now Scotland. Most anthropologists think that the Celts came to Ireland from England by way of Gaul but take note of the fact that the Gaels had trade connections with the old Celto-Iberian kingdom of Tartesssos is southern Spain, immediately north west of Gibraltar. See boc. GAOISTEAN, a crafty fellow, gaois. obs. Wisdom, prudence, discretion, science, cf. gaisde, a trap. GAOITHEAN, a fop, an empty-headed chap, from gaoth, wind. Gaoithreag, a blast, a whirlwind.
GAOL, love, fondness, a beloved, a lover, Ir. gaol, kin, family, EIr. gael, a relationship, Germ. geil, wanton. See Gaifhheal, a Gael, an inhabitant of the Scottish highlands. Supposedly based on the name of their ultimate patriarch. GAOTH, shooting pain, a stitch, vanity, flatulence, from gai, also seen as vei, same as ON. ve, the wind. Related are the Gaelic gaibheach, stormy, blustering; gailbhinn, a storm at sea, a storm of snow; gaile, excitement; gaillionn, a windstorm, the Scand. galen, the English gale and ghost. The elemental gods of Scandinavia were sometimes given as Lokki (fire); Vili (water) and Ve (wind). The latter two are represented in Teutonic myth as Hler and Kari. The Gaelic fire-god was Lugh, their sea-god Ler and the windgod Meirneal, who the English called Merlin. Hence gaoistean, an crafty fellow, a “trapper,” and gaoisthean, a fop, a wind-head. The family name Vey is from this root. It has been suggested that under the will of the creator-god they co-operated in the creation of man; the wind-god gifting humans with motion and the six senses. In later Norse mythology Odin is often substituted for Ve as Lord of the Northern Mountains. It has been claimed that the brothers, Vili and Ve, annually usurped the power of Odin, taking his throne and raping his wife Frigga. Each May, Odin was said to return from his winter journeys and leadership of the Asgarderia, or Host of Soul-Catchers. Finding his realm reduced to unhappiness, he always drove off his brothers. Thus, the wind is a male personification of the Cailleach bheurr, similarly driven into exile at the end of winter. The Samhain, or May Day festivities, were partly a celebration of the failure of the winter-spirit. In Scandinavia, until very recent times, the May Ride was celebrated on the first day of this month. In it a flower-bedecked human representative of King Odin was required to drive off a furenveloped figure representing King Uller (Winter) by pelting him with fresh blossomed flowers. In England this day is
celebrated in a similar way, the Woden-figure being termed Jack-In-The-Green, or something of that ilk. Note the following: Wind Wind Wind Wind from from from from the west, fish and bread; the North, cod and flaying; the East, snow on the hills; the South, fruit on trees.
The wind was formerly considered animate, and with good reason: "Every high wind, in many Places of the Highlands, is a Whirlwind. The agitated Air, pouring into the narrow and high Spaces between the Mountains, being confined in its Course...I say, the Air, in that violent Motion, is there continually repelled by the opposite Hill, and rebounded from others, till it finds a Passage, insomuch that I have seen in the Western Highlands, some scattering of Oaks, with their Bark twisted almost as if it had been done with a lever." (Letters From The North of Scotland, pp. 79-80). Wind and rain may be knocked from a rag and that the former can be bound in knots. The southern wind was mythologically associated with Loki and the north wind at first with Thor and later with Odin. The latter rode the Wild Hunt southward on this wind in his search for souls. The wind of winter was as much feared in Britain where the Cailleach Bheur and Herla the Huntsman rode against mankind. The Celts were always circumspect with the wind believing that the sidh travelled in whirlwinds, and adressing any passing gust of wind with words such as, "May God speed you, gentlemen." The idea that the wind represented a god-demon was as widespread as the belief that the sun and the moon were gods. Those not content with avoiding the notice of the wind sometimes warred against it and it Eastern Africa it was once said that "no whirlwind ever sweeps across the path without being pursued by a dozen savages with drawn creeses, who stab into the centre of the dusty column in order to drive away the evil spirit that is believed to be hiding on the blast."
Witches were sometimes considered a variety of demon and it was generally known that they created wind to damage their enemies and to transport themselves from place to place. The wind was ,laterally, considered an inferior spirit, more easily intimidated, killed or driven away than sun and rain gods. The relationship of the witch to her wind-demon, who the German settlers called the geisboch (he-goat) is revealled in a tale from Lunenburg County which was collected by Dr. Creighton: "Every night after tea a woman used to take a broomstick and put it between her legs and go to the chimney and then she'd go up the chimney. She'd say words, "no straffe he, no straffe go..." A servant in the house, observing this decided to try the magic brromstick after hours. On a subsequent night he followed the procedure and found himself above the chimney in the night air. Knowing something of the usual procedure, he utter an incantation for the geisboch and it arrived and took him on his back. Unfortunately, his education was incomplete and he didn't know how to control this "devil", which took him out over the Atlantic Ocean and dumped him. Flying through the air classifies as wonder-work rather than sympathetic magic or divination. Traditionally, most of the northern gods could shape-change into eagles, crows or ravens and take flight. The god Odin flew aboard a magical stallion and his Valkyries followed on similar steeds. The fairies always flew from place to place and so did the baobhs, the druids, witches and Christian angels. Some of my ancestors probably believed that David Rae's wife, a resident of Tullibody, Scotland was spirited into the air by fairies. Twenty years after, there were Scots who attested to seeing her "sitting on a dark cloud drifting over a peak of Dumyat." She was supposedly abducted after "straying from her ain man's side."
Equally traditional was the tale of the herdsman's son who supposedly lived at Waweig, N.B. He had a double part in his hair and was able to "see the wind and fairies". More significantly he once found himself lost in the woods after dark, and like Hansel and Gretel sought refuge with three elderly women in their small cottage. They agreed to having him as a guest provided that he stayed in the back room and minded his business. That night he went quickly to sleep but was awakened by the sound of activity in the kitchen. "Nae, he's asleep", responded one woman to the question of another, at which the boy put on a commendible act of snoring. Creeping to the closed door, he crept to the crack and watched as the naked women lathered themselves with "grease" from a bottle. Having done this they chanted "Fly away, Here go you and I, I and you, here go we!" Suddenly they vanished from sight. Mystified by this, the lad crept out into the larger room, greased himself and repeated what he had heard. Instantly he found himself sitting on the roof of the cottage side by side with the three witches. They argued what should be done with him, but finally supplied him with a red cap, which was their only wearing apparel. This gave them control over the wind demons and without benefit of broomstick they were able to fly to the nearby town of Saint Andrews. Here they squeezed through the keyhole of the Beacon Press and amused themselves by scattering the type and ink. After that they invaded a general store, dropped bugs into the flour barrells, pulled the plug on the molasses and kerosene puncheons, and snatched the red cap from their flight companion. The next morning this unfortunate was left with explaining the damage and how he happened to stand naked within a locked mercantile store. Flying seems a magical act, but few witches claimed to have been carried through the air as directly as those mentioned above. More often, they said that they "rode the air" on a forked stick, a staff or a broomstick. Examined in context confessions of flying often indicated swift, effortless movement as opposed to actual flight. Thus
Isabel Gowdie said, quite plainly, "I had a little horse, and would say, :Horse and Hattock, in the Divellis name!" And then he would fly away, where he would even as straws fly upon the high-way." Witches lacked wings, and so did honest fairies until co-opted by the tale- writers.
J.F. Campbell, researching Popular Tales of the West Highlands, lived for a time with the Lapps. He thought that their manners and customs were similar to those ascribed to elves. He located a northern dwelling, "round, about twelve feet in diameter, and sunk three feet in the ground, the roof made of sticks and covered with turf", which he thought answered the description of a fairy, elf, or sidh hill. He noted that this "hollow-hill" looked like a conical green mound. At home in Scotland he found a very similar abandoned dwelling in the sand dunes at South Uist. This made him suspect that the fay-people must have had human counterparts. He was particularly struck by the fact that the average Lapp, "even wearing a high peaked hat", fit neatly beneath his armpit. Most significantly he said that they moved from place to place using long birch vaulting poles. The tradition that witches flew probably has something like this at its base. It is noteworthy that witches usually departed their hovels through the chimney, like the wind-god Odin and Father Christmas, who can be traced to him. Exiting through a modern chimney would be a considerable feat, but house construction has changed since the days of weems, or sod huts. The souterrains of the Gaels in Ireland and Scotland were beehive shaped chambers made of rock covered with earth. Many of them incorporated long underground entryways protected by traps or obstructions. Almost all had secondary exits for an emergency, but there must have been cases where residents "magically" vanished up the hearth-chimney. Surprisingly, local "Scots" still claim that if you enter by one door and leave by another strangers will come to visit and bad luck will follow.
If it is assumed that witches and fairies took their common characteristics from a prehistoric race who lived beneath ground, then their sudden exits in the face of an enemy might have been misconstrued as "flying". Again, this may have resulted from an altered state, for the witches who flew always anointed themselves with a "Flying Ointment". One recipe required "the fat of yoong children" seethed "in a brasen vessell". Almost incidentally the recorder noted that aconite, and one or two herbs should be blended in. No known chemical can countermand the law of gravity, and fat from any source has no effect when rubbed on the skin. Aconite, commonly called monkshood, yields a white crystalline alkaloid from its leaves and roots, a chemical described as a respiratory and cardiac sedative." In high concentrations it is a lethal poison when introduced into the human circulatory system. At least, it produces an irregular heartbeat and even small doses bring on dizziness and a sense of falling or treading water. Other recipes incoroprate belladonna, which derives from the plant called deadly nightshade. "Persil" recommended by some "pharmacists" was deadly hemlock. These drugs are as bad as they sound, small amounts being capable of producing excitment and delerium. Rubbing such mixtures on the skin was an inefficient way of getting it into the blood, but much more plausible in other times, when people were manual labourers and vermin infested, and had a body surface peppered with scratches and bites. The Flying Ointment may explain why some witches said that only their astral bodies went to sabats, while their physical body remained at home in bed. This is alos consistent with fairy-lore. When a fairy-rade carried off Orfeo's queen to their land, they left her mortal body swooning under a tree. Witches did not have to leave their bodies recumbent when they "flew away" but a woman who visited with a witch several times each week noted that her friend was often present in body while "her soul would be wandering".
On one of these ocassions, while the witch was waiting for her husband to return she went to the stove to stoke the fire. Suddenly she gasped, "I've got an awful pain in my side." Half an hour later her husband arrived to say he had seen her figure on the road and had accidently driven his wagon over her. This had happened, they decided, at the exact time when she had first noticed the stitch in her side. The ingredients listed above are not as esoteric as one might think. Monkshood and deadly nightshade continue to grow on our premises at Sussex, and we did not plant them. It is fairly likely that hallucinatory combinations of drugs caused witches to remember episodes with vaulting poles or hobby-horse brooms as actual incidents of flight. Alchemy was a branch of wonder-working where the amount used often determined whether one got prophylactic or killing effect. Belladonna was not usually recommended by apothecaries, but they did prescribe it to inhibit the muscular contractions of the womb where there was possible miscarriage during pregnancy. GARACH CATH. The final battle of the Tain war, the armies of Mebd and Ailill faced off with those of Conchobhar mac Nessa on the Plain of Garach. Fergus mac Roth battling for the former host was in sight of victory at midday when Cuchulainn arrived at the battlefield. The Ulster hero reminded Fergus of his oath not to oppose him in time of war, and the southerner retired from the field. His going caused the men of Munster and Leinster to follow and by evening the Connaughtmen were defeated. GARADH, GARAIDH, GARRADH, wall, dike, mound, gratuity, the last is considered “the better spelling,” Also, a garden, Ir. garan, Indo-European gher, scratchy, stiff, tear, cf. garbh, rough. The worlds created by the gods were individually referred to as gardens. The name given a giant who lived near Ruthven, Scotland. This ill-tempered vandal had his hair pegged to the ground by local women while he slept. Awaking constrained, he soon broke loose and felled a
number of trees. Setting them ablaze he attacked his tormentors. Warriors of the tribe, returning from the hunt, discovered Garraidh’s lapse into a frenzy and tracked and killed him at the place known as Glenn Garraidh, or Glengarry. Since the women Garraidh had killed were those of the Fionn he guaranteed their eventual extinction. GARADH TOLL, den, copse, thicket, a garden, cf. Eng. yard, ON gardr. Toll, the Eng. hole, ON hol, AS howe (pronounced garah howl). The place of a dolmen-like holed-rock near Dingwall, Scotland. Here divination rites were performed and children taken to be cured of ailments. “A fire was lit; the ailing child was stripped and passed through the hole.” Additionally the mother baked bannock and left this offering on the top of the rock. If it was gone in the morning this was taken as a sign that the child might recover. GARRACH, glutton, The Battle of Garrach. See entry immediately below, The final event in the Táin war, when the forces of Queen Mebd met those of Conchobhar on the Plain of Garrach. Fergus mac Roth, of the south, was in command of the situation when Cúchullain arrived at midday. Cúchullain reminded Ferghas of an oath that both had taken never to fight against each other. As a result Ferghas and his followers left the field, and the men of Munster and Leinster followed him. By evening the Ulster army had decimated what remained of the armies of Connacht. In chasing them from the field Cúchullain cornered Mebd , sheltering in her overturned chariot. A geis prevented him from killing women so she was allowed safe conduct to her own lines. GARRAG, a young crow, garr, a gorbelly, starveling, a spoiled child, glutton, wretch, worthless creature, cf with the English, gorby and gore. Eng. gorecrow. A borrowed word. In North America the dialectic form is corby; similar to the French corbeaux. Cf. G. garrach, Throughout Europe the members of the crow family were considered sacrosanct since they were the preferred familiars of witches and some of the old pagan deities. The crows were
totem animals of all the Gaelic Fomors or sea-giants and their relations, especially the Tuathan-Milesians god known as the Dagda and his daughter/sister/spouse, Mhorrigan, the goddess of fate. Folklorist Edward D. Ives had no difficulty assembling more than a hundred versions of northeastern American folk tales suggesting the disadvantages falling upon men who offended these birds. To begin, it has to be noted that the garrag family is more extensive in Maritime Canada and Maine than in the Old World. Within the crow family one finds the ravens, and the jays, the latter group being subdivided into the Blue Jays and Canada Jays. Any one of these may be entitled a "corby" or "gorby," but the Canada Jay has a vast number of nicknames. We have seen him referred to as the moose bird, the meat-bird, the grease-bird, the greaser, the whisky-jack, the jack-whisky, the whisky john, the john whisky, Hudson's Bay bird, caribou bird, venison hawk, grey jay, woodsman's friend, moosebird, and camp-robber. Most people are fairly familiar with a crow; the raven is an enlarged version with laryngitis. The Canada Jay has been described as a little like a robin, but with grey feathers, excepting a white throat and forehead and a black cap. Its cousin, the Blue Jay is essentially a similar bird but blue in colour. All this tribe are known for their audacity, thieving characteristics, bottomless appetites and ability to "supernaturally" signal, to one another, the presence of food. It has been suggested that these are the characteristics of lumbermen, which may account for the superstition that the gorbys reincarnate the souls of dead woods-workers. Those who are better informed suspect that their bodies enclose the spirits of malevolent minor deities or that they are simply the totem-animals of witches. Whatever the belief, few woodsman will knowingly injure any of these birds. "Anything that happens to a garbie is likely to happen to you...I know a woodsman who kicked at one which was stealing his lunch. He broke its leg; a day after that, this same man got his foot caught in the trace-chain of a scoot and suffered a fractured leg."
There are also records of men who baited the Canada Jay within catching distance, often feeding him beer or whisky. When they plucked out his wing feathers, they soon found themselves denuded of all hair. In a one instance, a man in Nelson, N.B., performed this cruel act and seemed to survive without harm, but his children never developed hair on their heads. Interestingly, there are few stories of this sort in the old country although Professor Ives is almost certain that the corby-stories originated in Scotland or the English north-country travelling from there to New Brunswick and thence to the other Maritime Provinces and Maine. He says there are no exact parallels in the MotifIndex for the Old World although he did find two analogies. A resident of Canterbury, England recalled his father's story of a sparrow which was stripped of its feathers, the torturer suffering hair-loss. He also heard an Ayrshire story about Quentin Young, "the man who plucked a robin" and awoke the next morning to find hair "lying strewn about on his pillow." (Ives, "The Man Who Plucked the Gorbey", 1961. an article reprinted in Fowkes, Folklore, pp. 174188) GATH, a dart or sting, spoke of a wheel, shat, as a beam of sunlight, EIr. gae, gai, as in gae bolg, ON. geirr, spear, AS. gar, Eng. gar-lic, Skr. heshas, missile. Lugh used one of these to kill Balor. Notice that all weapons were considered extensions of their owners, spirited things capable of independent action. The existence of fine “parade” weapons in the graves of warriors suggests they expected to use them in worlds beyond death. GATH-BOLG, a fiery arrow, a common arrow shaft fitted with a bag of combustibles. GATH-DOINIONN, the stump of a rainbow seen at the horizon in stormy weather. Also known as the dog’s tooth, referring to the dogs of Cromm. These creatures are said in pursuit of the sun which they will devour at the end of time.
GATH-DUBH, the “Storm Riders,” a beard of oats, the foundation of a sheaf. The unsely host, the dark riders of the Death god. These were said seen in the undulating currents of rain gusted and scattered in the wind. GATH-FRUIGHE, a poisoned arrow. GATH-GEALAICH, a Moonbeam; gath-greine, Fingal’s banner; gath-linn, the Pole Star. a sunbeam,
GATH-TETH, teth, hot, warm, sultry, impetuous, a fiery dary. GATH-NIMH, a poisonous sting or dart, usually in the form of a thorn. These were placed in the bedding of guests, producing seeming death or a coma. The voodoo-like state could only be alleviated when the thorn was removed from the flesh. The tale is told of a jealous princess who poisoned her brother in this manner. His faithful hunting dogs being the only ones to understand his condition uneathed him and one removed the thorn with his teeth. He recovered “although he had been buried for three days.” GEALACH, the Moon, from geal, white, EIr. gel, clear, shining, Eng. gleam, glow, yellow. Achadh, field, an expanse. The moon is particularly attached to the god Nuada , the “New-One,” and he is the alter-ego of the sun-god Lugh. It is also symbolic of the summer-goddess In the Hebrides it is said: “There is the new moon, the king of the elements, bless it!” Allied with Samh. Or Summer. On Pictish slatestones at Luss, Stobo and Paisley, Scotland, we find the curious engravings of a pair of crescent moons arranged back to back, an ancient symbol of immortality, representing the old moon and the first quarter of the new moon. This pointed out the monthly death and rebirth of that “goddess” in the sky. It is said that the druids carried on their persons a crescent symbolic of the risen moon. Specimens of this crescent made from gold have been found in Ireland where they are referred to as the cornan. GEALACH AN ABACHAIUDH, “The yellow (September) moon
which helps the corn (grains) to ripen.” GEALACH A’BRUIC. The “badger’s moon,” the October moon, during which the badger is said to collect and dry grass for its nest. It is said that weather will change with the badger’s moon. GEALACH BHUIDHE, BUAIUN A’ CHOIRC, The yellow moon of the oats-harvest. In Sutherland. Same as the above, an October moon. GEALACH UR, the New Moon. ur, fresh, new, recent, infant, and related to Nuada, the “New One.” GEALBHAN, a fire, little fire, fire-balls. Indo-European ghel, glow, gleam, cf. geal, white. Generally considered forerunners of evil. An Edinburgh physician staying in temporary quarters at Broadford Scotland sighted a bright light on the water and took it to be a flare ignited by a fisherman in distress. The light came smoothly and steadily towards him and was seen to be a perfect globe of light, or “ball-lightning.” When the light touched the shore, it vanished, and a woman holding a child in her arms appeared in its place and immediately vanished. When the doctor took this tale to the innkeeper, the man explained that this apparition was the backrunner of a woman and child whose bodies had been washed ashore at exactly that place. He explained that the ghost was often seen by others in the district and about the time of year when the shipwreck had occurred. A similar “fetch” is associated with Loch Rannoch; again a ball of energy is seen skimming across the water. It is said that the light always originates at the same place on the loch, travels over the same route and disappears at the same place. Infrequently the ball has been seen to roll up the hill-side known as Meall dubh. Loch Ness has a light known as “The Old Man of
Inverfargaig” in addition to its sea-serpent. Known to the highlands as “The Bodach,” it is often seen in the woods and travelling the rocky shore. During winter storms this ghost may be heard shrieking amidst the wind. Breadalbain has two globes of fire, both resident upon Loch Tay. One of these appeared at Tayside as a foreunner of future events. Two Cameron boys died on a small farm at Morenish and were buried in the churchyard at Kenmore. When a surviving brother arrived home from army-leave he decided they should by exhumed and carried by water to the other end of the loch for re-burial at Killin. On the night before this move took place two bright balls of light were seen cruising across the water on the course set the next day by the boat carrying the two coffins. Again, a ferryman living on the north side of the Tay heard a shrill whistle from the opposite bank and supposing someone wanted passage he rowed to the south side. On arrival he could not find anyone but as he watched a huge ball, which he thought resembled a sack of wool, came rolling down the hillside and toppled itself into his boat. Too terrified to question what he was being asked to carry, he rowed home with great haste. As the boat touched the far side the strange cargo dissolved into a huge white bird, which soared away and came to rest at the burial-grounds of Lawers. Shortly after, the ferryman found himself employed to carry the corpse of a young woman across the water so that it could be buried at Lawers. GEALL. pledge, mortgage, love. Prize, reward, desire. See next. GEALL--CINNIDH, head-pledge. The fine paid by one guilty of manslaughter to the relatives of the deceased. At one point an earl was recompensed at the rate of 66 2/3 cows. An earl’s son brought 44 cows, a thane’s son 11 cows, and so on downward according to social rank. Fines imposed for murder were considered as eirig. GEALTA, a man under a geall, a pledge or proscription. Such a person was doomed to pass a year and a day in the
isolation of the Otherworld or in a wilderness-retreat. Those who died in battle frequently departed without appropriate rites of passage. It was said that they assumed bird-form and had to flit about in a pugatorial place until the Otherworld opened its gates to them. Living cowards, who fled from battle, were also forced to a year of madness in a secluded glen. Gealtair, a coward, a timorous person (with reason). GEALTAN, the harlequin, a quarter-day timorous, skittish, fearful, cowardly. fool. Gealtach,
GEAMAIR, gamer, game-keeper. A name sometimes visited on the Cailleach bheurr or “Winter Hag.” geamanta, tricky, crafty, see next two entries. GEAMH, a pledge, compensation. See next entry. To compensate the Cailleach for the loss of her wild animals taken in the hunt, gamesters collected pledges which were used to purchase criminals from the jails for “use” in the Quarter-Day fires. GEAMHRADH, GEAMRADH, Winter personified. gean, obs. Woman, the Cailleach bheurr. EIr. gemred; OIr. gaimred. From gam, chaste, cold, unproductive, the Winter Hag (or Gamekeeper). Cy., gaem, Br. goam, Skr. hima, cold, ON hrym, frosted, geamnaidh, chaste, virginal, cold. The word is allied with gaoth, the wind, the root being gai, driven. Confers with the Gaelic vei, the wind and with the Old Norse god Ve, whose name is a synonym for wind. A common Gaelic form of this god is Ghei which corresponds with the English ghost. Radh, saying, speaking, bringing about. Gamanrad, the “stirk-folk of Connaught.” Rad is a collective, feminine when in used in the last sense. The Bry. Stem may be giamo, winter; Lat. hiems. In the Celtic Calendaer this was the mid-winter month of Giamonios, twenty-nine days in length (roughly December) following Cutios and followed by Simivionnios. Within the first quarter of winter, the second quarter commencing with Equos. Note the next related note.
GEANAIR, gean. obs. woman; now, good humour, love, approbation, a smile, also, greed; air, high, lofty, most important. Formerly, the month now called January in the English realms. Geanamh, obs. A sword, geanas, chastity, in a good humour, pure, winter-like, cold and distant but goodwilled. GEANTRAIGHE, gean + treaghaid, good humour + transpiercing (creating a stitch in the side), magical music. The spell of music was considered a magic gifted on individual men by the gods. The first musician was Dagda, who possessed the Harp of the North. His talents were bequeathed to his son Lugh. When the Dagda's wife Boann was in labour, he used the three types of music: goltraighe (crying music), geantrighe (laughing music) and suantrighe (sleeping music) to give her respite. Musical spells were used by the Dagda and his sons to subdue the Fomors when they ravaged the Undersea World. GERAROID IARLA, Gerald Fitzgerald. Third Earl of Desmond (1359 -1598). This historical figure appears here due to the myth that his father cohabited with the love-goddess Aine. It is said Maurice Fitzgerald raped the unfortunate mortalgoddess and that Gerald was their son. Apparently Maurice had some desirable characteristics for at his death the legend arose that he was not dead but sleeping and would arise from the waters of Loch Guirr to assist Ireland in a time of danger. Other stories insist that he arises from the Loch every seven years, surveying his lands on a white steed. Loch Guirr is generally stated to be the final resting place of Aine. GEARR, short, hare, a favoured familiar of the baobh. Also a weir for catching fish, short, transient, laconic, deficient, grilse. The original form was geirrfhiadh, a "short deer", the last word is now omitted. "When I was a child there was a superstition that one should say the word "hares" last thing at night on the last
day of each month, and the word "rabbits" first thing the next morning to usher in the new month. I have always understood that this was because witches were supposed to turn themselves into hares, so by saying these "magic" words one got rid of all the witches at the end of the month and ensured that during the next month all witches would turn out to be mere rabbits." (Dr. Gertrude Cormack, Scots Monthy, p. 550). In the ancient tale of Cian mac Maelmuaidh we are introduced to a man who cornered a hare with his greyhound, which as he was about to kill it, shape-changed into a beautiful woman. The rabbit and the hare are both of the species Leporidae; small swift-footed mammals with gnawing teeth. The European "rabbit" was the ancestor of modern domesticated rabbits and the Belgian hare, both being small timid burrowing animals. The European "hare" is of a separate genus; it does not burrow, living instead in thickets and in openings between rocks. Except for the genus "Lepus timidus" it is a wide-foraging somewhat obnoxious animal. All animals, of this general type, are referred to as rabbits in North America. In times past the sighting of a hare on the back of a cow always alerted herdsmen to the fact that witchcraft was in action. Caesar identified this animal, the goose and the cock as the creatures having greatest significance in Celtic cult practises. It was noted that Queen Boudicca of the Brythonic Iceni released a hare before setting out on any campaign of warfare. The hunter gods of the Gaels are frequently pictured as pursuing or holding the animal. GEARRAN (ger-an), the gelding, from gearr, to cut, the short month, originally four weeks starting March 15. It ended with "Cailleach's Week", the last days given over to the "Winter Hag." Corresponds with the old Brythonic Equos, or “horse month.” The thirty days following the first quarter of winter. The duration varies with the authority; some say March 15 until, April 11, others say the entire month of
February, still others insist iit is the nine days following faoillteach, or the last half of February. Any help? Gearranach, horse-like or clownish, a quarter-day fool. Gearr-sporran. A cut-purse or pick-pocket. GEAS, GEISE (gaysh, pl. gaysha), oath, vow, metamorphic enchantment, a bond, spell, charm. taboo, prohibition. EIr. geis, a tabooed act, spell, taboo, charm, the root is ged, the Eng. god, as it appears in guidh, to pray, guidhe, a prayer, a wish, OIr. guidiu, Eng. guide. AS. biddan, the Eng. bid. Any magical injunction the violation of which lead at least to misfortune, at worst to death. Every Gael had geise related to the nature of their bafinne, or “guardians,” to demands of chivalry, or to the impositions of a powerful enemy. Thus, Cúchullain being one of the dog-clan was tabooed from eating the flesh of that animal. When he did so, although inadvertently, he paid with his life. He was first paralyzed on one side and was then murdered by a host of enemies. Those who had ravens as their befinne had to take care not to injure them, for the damage was reflected on their own person. King Conory could not kill a small grey bird because this was his totem. When he almost acted against some of them, a flock materialized into human warriors, who warned the hero of his geas and his danger. In some instances the geise are the birthright of an individual, taboos placed on him by the gods. Diarmuid of the Love Spot had two geise: the first was that he should not reject a lady in distress; the second that he should never pass by night through a wicket-gate. Grannia, the intended wife of Fionn, requested that Diarmuid remove her from her from an unwanted impending marriage. By the rules of the game Diarmuid could not refuse, but his only way out of Fionn's redoubt was through a wicket-gate travelling by night. The pair became enmeshed in a fate that had to end tragically. It is not clear why the gods imposed strange demands: Conary, in addition to honouring birds was forbidden to
follow three red horsemen. Fergus mac Roy could not turn down the invitation to any feast, and when he did the tale of his life devolved into a tragedy for him and the sons of Usnach. In short, these were sacred obligations. T.W. Rolleston has suggested that these impositions were once regarded as a means of keeping one's spirit in a "proper" relationship with the Unseen World of the sithe. In addition to individual taboos, there were general prohibitions that extended to all men and women: Miss Goodrich-Freer mentions the northern Scottish dodging about the word uaine, or “green.” "I remember being perplexed in my early wanderings about the Hebrides by hearing green things being constantly spoken of as "blue" until it suddenly dawned upon me that green must not be mentioned, lest it should call up the fairies." (Celtic Monthly, 1901, p. 141). It is never thought wise to call a dog by his name after dark, because that allowed the sithe to call him and control his spirit to the detriment of the human owner. Numerous other prohibitions hinged on the idea that one should never speak of any devil for fear he might be drawn by the mention of his name. The most wide-ranging curse (possibly still in operation) was that of the goddess Macha. Her tale, told in Tain Bo Cuailnge, pictured her reborn as a dark-haired beauty who appeared mysteriously on the doorstep of the widower named Crunniac MacAgnmain. He welcomed her into his Ulster home, and found her a consummate lover and wife, who supplied him with magical food and clothing as well as heirs. He began to suspect she was a deity when he observed her successfully racing against wild deer. While she placed him under a "geis" not to reveal her special skill, he got drunk and accepted a wager to race her against the king's horses. In spite of a pregnancy, Macha won the bet for her husband, but collapsed at the end of the track where she bore the "emain" or twins, thus giving name to Emain Macha, where the event took place. Angered at the men who had forced her to race against pains of labour, The Macha left Northern Ireland
cursing the land with civil unrest for "nine times nine generations". In addition she promised the Ulster warriors that they would be "inconvenienced" by similar pains on a monthly basis. Thus the outlander Cu Chulainn, a mercenary to King Conor, was the only man in condition to hold the Ford of Ulster when Queen Medb's forces marched north from Connaught. GEAS BOC, a Guy’s buck. A quater-day victim. It is recorded that Samhuinn eve was the time when men battled the dark forces while Samhuinn itself (November 1) was the day when mortals made peace with the spirit world. "On this day the feast of Tara was held, and it was probably on this day that the high-king of Tara celebrated his ritual marriage with the goddess of the earth, to ensure the prosperity of his reign." Remembering that the Mhorrigan was one of the banshee tribe, recalls Keats poem "La Belle Dame Sans Merci", which is based on the old tale that the Irish bean-sidh were beautiful sidh-woman who, at Samhuinn, went searching for mortal lovers. This implies a male victim. In Denmark, the person to cut the last sheath was always a woman, and the male "geis buc" fashioned from the corn became her partner at the harvest dance. She was greeted there as "the widow" and wept symbolic tears because she knew herslf to be wed to a mythical being bound to be killed for the good of the land. Honest kings went to ashes more rapidly than frauds as they had the disadvantage of actually believing that they represented a link between men and the creator-god. They submitted themselves more readily to a role in the sacrificial rite of the divine king, while sleazier compatriots talked their way around failures in commanding the elemental gods who were the real representatives of the Ahair. At that, all of the Celtic kings had short reigns since they invariably showed weaknesses of spirit in allowing floods, famine, fire or the ravages of war.
Incarnate human gods were truly between a rock and a hard place when their "magic" failed. Those seen to be ravaged by advancing age were knifed in battle by a close relative. Some peoples though it unsafe to wait for this season of decay, preferring to return the god-king to the circles of being while he was still vigorous. Thus the Swedes put a legal limit of nine years on the kingship of their god. King Aun circumvented this by noting that his sons shared his spirit and at intervals had them put to death in his place. He was prevented from doing down a tenth son when his adherents pointed to his decrepit health and insisted that he should be the one to die. The Celtic kings were not as "progressive" but some of them did offer relatives as substitutes. When the process was no longer understood, men and women continued to be put to death "for the good of the land", but royal blood was no longer required. In those latter days enemies of the clan, prisoners and murderers were burned alive along with plants and animals which were considered to be familiars of the bhoabhs and bhodachs. This was a very ancient practice as a poem in the Books of Leinster, Lecan, and Ballymote and also in the Rennes Dindsenchas records the sacrifice at Samhuinn of one-third of the new-born children born during Samhradh to the stone idol known as Crom (the crooked) at Mag Sleacht (the plain of prostrations) in County Cavan, Ireland. This must have been during a season of vast crop failure when it was felt that the soil needed a special infusion of godspirit, but even at the best of times this savage stone idol demanded "the firstling of every issue and the chief scions of every clan." King Tighernas and his people prostrated themselves before this nathair with such force that "the tops of their foreheads and the gristle of their noses and the caps of their knees and the ends of their elbows broke." On that occasion two-thirds of the population went to ground and did not arise. According to a persistent myth this day god was killed by Lugh of the Long Arm. Some insist that the idol fell to the magic of Saint Patrick.
People who were sacrificed were often ritually burdened with the evil spirits currently plaguing the neighbourhood, it being supposed that they would not mind the brief inconvenience before death. Further, there seems to have been a Celtic belief in spiritual checks and balances, attempts having been made to pass the evil-spirit which caused illness from a valuable citizen to one of less importance. This type of magic was seen in operation as late as 1589 when Hector Munro of Foulis called on a local bhoabhs to save his ailing life by transferring a spirit of illness on to his half brother George Munro. Witnessses to the procedure said that the chief witch dug a grave in which Hector lay at midnight, wrapped in blankets and covered over with grass sods, the later fastened in place with rowan branches. After certain rites "the chief literally returned from the grave to Foulis castle. His brother George duly died in 1590 while Hector, recovered from his long illness, stood trial for murder and witchcraft." He was found not guilty but the bhoabh that performed the ceremony was burned alive. This same attitude is seen in the marriage rites of Mebd's people. Ward Rutherford writes: "At Samain men from all over Ireland converge on Cruachain, the royal centre of Connaught to woo a maiden. For each suitor, one of his people was secretly slain (thus releasing a spirit to the land of Mebd while gaining surrendering a spirit for the clan of the male partner). The maiden must be the territorial goddesses whose goodwill is secured by these sacrifices and it is in this sense that we must understand Queen Mebd's thirty lovers; they were sacrificial victims." Where the woman was not killed along with her partner she was raped with the full consent of the community, and this victim was often called the "carlin", a word also used to describe the lotting device used in her selection. Carlin, or carline, is derived from the Old Norse "karling", a man-like woman, hence an aged crone or a witch. At first virginal women were required for the rites, but it
was later realized that any woman might serve, virginity restored by an infusion of goddess-spirit.
On the Hebridean island of Tiree, the Rev. J.G. Campbell found that: "In harvest there was a struggle to escape from being the last done with the shearing (of the grain) and when tillage in common existed, instances were known of a ridge being left unshorn (no person would claim it) because of it being behind the rest in growth. The fear entertained was that of having the "ghort a bhaile" (famine of the farm in the shape of an imaginary old woman (cailleach) to feed till the next harvest. Much emulation and amusement arose from the fear of this old woman...The last act of the harvest home was to fashion a doll, which was called the "carlin" (old wife) and this was sent by the farmer to his nearest neighbour. He in turn (when his crops came in) passed it to another still less expedious and the person it finally harboured with had the calleach to keep for the year." Similar habits were reported from Wales, where the old lady was termed the "wrach" (hag). She was fashioned as a plaited "kern" doll six to twelve inches in height. When she was complete men took turns throwing their sickles at this representative of winter and the reaper who first "brought blood" received a jug of home brewed ale. The wrack was then hurridly transferred to another farm by the the ploughman. He was very careful to go unobserved on this errand, for if he was caught he would be roughly routed by farmhands. At the next farm this visitor attempted to impale the old woman on the blade of the foreman's sickle, and then made a hasty retreat being lucky to escape injury from the flying edged-tools that were thrown after him. In more conservative neighbourhoods, the spirit of the grain was simply brought home to the farmhouse, the ploughman having to escape the wrath of the residents who greeted him with pails charges with ice-cold water, If he managed this unobserved he was given ale from "the cask next to the wall" or the master of the house had to pay him a small fine. "The hag was carefully hung on a nail in the hall or
elsewhere and kept there all year. GEASCHAD, enchantment, charm. Conjuration, vow, astrology, a superstition. Geaseachd, enchantment, sorcery. GEASADAIR, wizard, charmer, enchanting, charming, conjurer, sorcerer. Geasach,
GEASA DROMA DRAIOCHTA , (gay sha dro ma dru hok tah), droman, the alder tree; draoi, a magician. An enchantment of inviolable power enacted by a master-magician. These spells were cast by envisioning the final effect on the geisbearer. The magician then chanted appropriate words which increased in volume to a final crescendo. GEASA GRA, (gay sh graw), a love enchantment, but note grab, an interference with normal events, a hindrance, the Eng. grab, to take by improper means. EIr. ghr, gut, a cord, suggesting the use of the “blue clew of witchcraft” to obtain a desired end. Eng. cord. Alternately greathlach, an inspector of cylinders or entrails of animals (a witch).” GEAS DIOMA, dioma, on me; a proscription (on me). A druidic enchantment. GEASA DRAOIDACHT, “the sorceries of the druids.” GEBANN. The father of Cliodhna, the Irish goddess of beauty. GEIS, GEAS, custom, prohibition, a proscription through magic, geisneach, enchanted, like a charm. Enchanting, conjuring. GEILT, terror, fear, a distracted person, wild, made mad through fear, shell-shocked. cowardice. geill, yield, submit, Norse vertha at gjalti. Same word as Eng. jell, to turn solid, freeze in terror. During the battle of Venntry when Fionn mac Cumhail fought Daire Don, the “King of the World,” one of his
warriors named Goll retreated to Gleann na nGealt, the “Glen of the Guilty,” the only place where lunatics and cowards could dwell. There he consumed water-cresses and drank from Tobergalt, the “Well of the Guilty,” and recovered his senses. Suibhne Geilt, similarly reactive to the Battle of Moyrath also went there. Cowardly men, suffering from “shell-shock,” were said to retreat from other men and in the forest acquired a coat of feathers. Although they were unable to fly it was noted that they could run faster than a greyhound and skip among the trees “as swiftly as monkeys or squirrels.” It is said that the spirit of Suibhne having descended to madness flew up into the air “as a bird” and only arrived at his glen of delight “after long and arduous wanderings.” See gealta. GEIM DRUATH, geim, from below; the Druath’s Lever or Spear, a druid’s weapon, the druid’s “cry,” geim, a dart, the word is based on gobhal, a forked stick. The “Druath’s Cry.” Skr. dru, to melt or run, from draoi, a druid. This weapon was thrust at the genitals. Ir. draoi, genitive case, druadh. The Eng. true, an “artist.” Geimh, fetter, chains. In the medieval period the druath was defined as a set of court entertainer, the others being professional jesters, or standup comics, jugglers and buffons, or experts at slapstick. It is said the druath was often dismissed as a buffon but he was “of a superior order.” Of particular note was druath Ua Maighlinne who belonged the court at Ailech in the eighth century. On the eve of the great battle at Almain (Allen) he entertained the northern warriors by reciting all the battles and triumphs of their forefathers. When he was taken prisoner, and about to be beheaded, he was asked to give the geim druath, or “druith’s cry” one more time before dying. So loud, beautiful, and melodious was this peculiar sound that for three days and nights echoes of it reverberated from the spot where he had stood. Another “entertainer” named Donnbo was killed in this same conflict, and it was later agreed that he was not only handsome “but the best at
singing amusing verses and telling royal stories, the best to equip horses, and to mount spears, and to plait hair; and his intellect was acute.” In short, a Rennaissance man. Weighted down with a sad prescience of disaster Donnbo did not feel like entertaining the troops on the eve before battle, but made way for Ua Maighlinne promising to provide the victory amusements on the following night. As it happened his head was severed in battle the next day. The victorious king of Leinster sent a warrior to the battlefield daring him to bring home the head of this man. In the dead of night he heard a voice from the heavens demand that Donnbo make good his pledge of entertainment and the astounded warrior heard “dead singers and trumpeters and harpers render music the like of which he had never heard before. or after. And finally he heard the head of Doonbo give the dordfiansa, the sweetest of all music in the world. When the warrior made as if to lift the head it demanded reunion with its body and the warrior did not dare to defer. GEINTLEACH. gein, obs. a sword, The Gaels called the northern viking-raiders geintleach, “gentiles,” or heathens. Later they revived the old word gaill or goill, a “Gaul”, or stranger, those of “the surly looks” to describe their unwanted visitors. Sometimes the Irish referred to the newcomers as Lochlannaigh, although this was also visited upon the neighbouring Scots. Later still, Irish writers, wishing to distinguish between the earlier and later invaders limited the latter name to the Norwegians and called the Danes the Danair. More commonly the viking Norse were seen as “white” while those of Danish descent were seen as the “black heathens.” This difference had nothing to do with complexions, but took note of the fact that the “whites” fought in commonplace linen albas similar to those worn by the Gaels while the “blacks” favoured dark metal coats-of-mail. GELBAN. A son of the king of Lochlann, or Scotland, who spied on the Red Branch Hostel for his king. The ard-righ Conchobhar mac Nessa wished to know if Deirdre’s looks had faded. Naoise was playing fidchell with Deirdre when
this peeping-tom peered through a window. the fids up at the intruder and put out nevertheless, saw enough to report that still a famed beauty. Elsewhere Trendorm “the spy who lost one of his eyes.”
He hurled one of his eye. Gelban, the woman was is spoken of as
GEOC, wry-necked. to grimace, a gouk or gowk, the cuckoo bird. "So the cuckoo came with its cheating, soft-like call, now here now there...but seldom seen by any...To see the gowk in sleep was to dream of uncanny things. To be gowkit body was to be a fool. A gowket's spittle was the frothy matter so often seen on plants. A gowk's storm was the sudden coming of storm and bad weather at the beginning of April, when in the midst of sunny weather, none was expecting a winter storm." "So the cuckoo bird was a daft, cheating uncanny time - the real beginning of the Daft Days in the year. The bairns, who have aye taken their cue from the old folks, caught up the ancient superstition and began to send one another on gowk's errands whenever April came in. The hunting of the gowk is one of the few old tricks of ancient times left to our bairnies yet." Geocach, gluttonous, ravenous, voracios; geocair, a reveller, vagabond, debauchee, a quarter-Day fool. See gocaman. GEOLA, ship’s boat, yawl, from Scandinavian models, the modern Norse jula, Swed. julle, Dan. jolle, Scot. yolle, A jolly-boat. Cf. Eng. yell, Yule. GEOLACH, a wooden bier, shoulder bands for the dead, giulan, carrying, root ges, to carry. GEUG, a sapling, a nymph, a very beautiful woman, the Sun’s rays, a sprig, a branch, to propogate. GHEOIDH, goose. Cy. gwydd. The destructive magical birds that grazed the grasses and herbs of Emain Macha to the bare ground are thought to have been geese. See cadal a’ gheoidh. Caesar said that the goose, the hare and the cock were the three most important Celtic cult-animals. As the goose was less than retiring it was considered to represent
spirits of war. Drawings of this animal have been found in the Fife caves of Scotland, and these are sometimes ascribed to the Bronze Age. A goose, of high artistic merit, appears on a slab of Eastertom from Roseisle, and another is seen on a memorial from Tillytarmont in Aberdeenshire. Again, a goose is seen flying at the head of a warrior on a stone from Aberlemno. In the “Book of Carmarthen” reference is made to a warrior who lost his eye to a goose. We know that ravens were trained in exactly this art, so possibly geese might have been similarly employed. In the Gaelic realms it was considered a bad omen to spot a goose cruising a lake after dark. If the sighting was on a first Thursday of the lunar month these creatures were assumed to be shape-changed baobhe . In Celto-Roman lore this bird of ill-omen was attached to the god Jupiter who is allied with the Gaelic thunder-deity named Tar or Thor. Rice says that he goose was associated with war-gods in the early stages of mythology “and with witch-like, metamorphosed women at a later period.” The Irish goddess Aine was implicated in altering Gearoid Iarla so that he became a goose. GIALL, obs. a hostage, a pledge, Cy. gwyll, hostage, Bry. goestl, Gaul Co-estios, Germ. gisl, AS. gisel, Eng. ghost. GIBLEAN (gep-lin), April, giblion, entrails, the leavings, grease from a goose’s stomach. A time of expected privation. Gibeach, rough, hairy, untidy but active, gibeg, a rag, a gypsy, giob, a tail, the “tail of the year.” See next. GIBEAN, a poor ragged fellow, a person soaked through with rain,hunch-backed. Probably related to the next entry. GIGEAN, gig, tickler, gigeach, hard-muscled, the master of the death-house, the wake-master, a diminutive man, anything of small mass, from ceigein, a fat man, ON kaggi, a cask, G. gighis, a masquerade, cf. gysar. a masker, a “disguiser.” See next entry. The individual who guarded the door against the Aog and relieved wake-comers of their alcohol (in the interest of decorum). He led the funeral procession,
which was always on foot, and doled out drinks to the wake-procession, usually in proportion to their need. See next. GIGHIS, a masquerader from SIr, gyis, a mask and AS. gysard, one who disguises his identity especially at the Yule. These individuals usually took charge of "doing-down" the individual selected to die in the fire-festivals, thus their need for disguise. At a later date the travelling "guisers" entertained the neighbourhood with a playlet that reflected the old time doing down of evil and rejuvenation of a sun-god at the apex of winter. This exercise degenerated into a revenge of the lower classes upon their upper-class bosses, thus the continuing need for a secure disguise. See the associated entry Galatae. GILLEABART, Gillebride, Gilbert, AS. Gislebert. the servant of the goddess Bridd. In Gaelic,
GILLE-DHU, gillie, pl. gillean, boy, lad; dhu, black, referring to his sub-browned skin and perhaps his disposition. Confers with the Anglo-Saxon cild from which we have child. May be borrowed from the Old Norse gildr, stout, brawny, full of merit. Also note the similar Anglo-Saxon gild, from which guild, a payment in kind or money, and gilda, one who pays, a common fellow. The lowland fairies are always described as having black complexions, while the Gaelic sidh were described as white-faced. Corresponds with the English spirit known as the brown man of the moors, a protector of birds and small animals. In English "gill" is taken as an abbreviation of gillian, a girl or wench of uncertain reputation, thus a wanton person as well as malt liquor medicated with ground ivy. The soapwort plant of England had a habit of growing without bounds and was called gill-run-by-the-street, a nice expression of the contemptuous slant given this Gaelic word. The black lad is precisely the equal of the brownie or bodach, a menial spirit who served households in return for a modest keep. He was like the hobgoblins and goodfellows
of southern England, "those that would grind corn for a mess of milk, cut wood, or do any manner of drudgery work." Some were engaged in "sweeping houses, in exchange for setting of a pail of good water, victuals, and the like, following which they (the householders) should not be pinched, but find money in their shoes, and be fortunate in their enterprises." Those living apart from men walked, "about midnight, on heaths and desert places, and draw men out of their way and lead them all night a by-way, or quite barre them of their way..." According to Keightley all of this breed were cleared from England about the reign of Elizabeth I, "or that of her father at the furthest." The gillie dubh is partially remembered in our eastern provinces of Canada as the gilloc, jillick, jillock or jullic,4 phonetic spellings for a word that also used to be employed to describe a quantity of alcohol, or its container, the measure being related to the Scottish gill, which is less than a quarter pint. Also recalled in the lumbering expression "jill-poke", "Any log or tree that interfered with the movement of timber while yarding on sleds or in the drive."5 Canadian tales of this creature are common: Sutherland Hall at Bonny River were reasonably large for the year seventeen eighty-three, when they were built by a gentleman who had been a major in the Queen's Rangers. This former soldier was one of the Scots who fought as mercenaries for the British in the Revolutionary War. A one time resident of Virginia, he lost his estates there and was in "reduced circumstances" when his regiment was disbanded in New Brunswick. His "growth-potential" was sufficient for a "gillie dubh" to move with him to British North America. Nicknamed the "cold lad" for the breeze that he carried about him, the gillie was a peculiar houseservant. Every night, the regular staff heard him disassembling the kitchen, and knocking things about if they were left too neatly. The workers soon saw the advantage
Dictionary Of Prince Edward Island English, p. 65, George, Timber, p. 25.
of leaving a bit of work to be done, for gillie was an efficient arranger where there was disorder. Unfortunately, the local Anglican priest was convinced of the necessity of banishing this brownie, and tried a number of exorcisms, which were met with a hollow ringing laughter. The clerics own human gillie remembered that this clan was invariably offended by pretensions, so they laid out new clothing and a vast feast for the spirit. The gillie responded with a couplet: What have we here? Hemten, hemten. Here will I no more tread or stampen." He vanished in a whirl of wind that extinguished the candles and took the luck of Sutherland Hall with him. Although Colonel Hugh did manage to prosper without brownie, Sutherland Hall was lost to fire. GILLE-GLAS, the “Grey Servant.” He appears in a traditional Scottish tale as a widow’s son who aspired to, an obtained, good fortune through physical prowess and his “iron shinty.” Like Odin and the Gaelic gods he was beset by giants but killed them all with this iron hockey club. Afterwards it is noted that he “gathered up the grey skirts of his garmets.” Notice that Odin wore similar apparel? This same creature is often described as the haunt of remote mountain-tops. GILLE-GNO, the “Gruff Servant.” Gille, lad, servant, from EIr. gilla, a child, the AS. cild, Eng. child. Used to identify Norsemen converted to Christianity and held as hostages within Gaelic communities, This word was preferred over maol, slave. Also one of the kings of the Undersea World who took this form to enter the camp of the Fionn where he purportedly sought employment. When some of the warriors "tried out" the weather-beaten mare he had with him, she carried them off into the western sea. After numerous adventures, Fionn and his companions agreed to assist the Fomorian in battles with his enemies. The nag was finally revealed as the shape-changed queen of the Undersea Kingdom. GILLEOSA, servant of osag, the breeze, ultimately the god Ve. In the latter days “the servant of Jesus.” From M’A-
Lios is derived the anglicized Lees and McLeish. GIN, GAN, beget, anyone, being, substance, production, kind, obs. the mouth, gineadan, the genitals, gineal, offspring, Ir. geinem, MIr. genar, was born, OIr, gein, birth, Cy. geni, Bry. ganet, born, the supposed root geno, Lat. gigno, begat, Eng. kin, Skr. jano, race, stock, janami, beget, Thus G. gin, anyone. Frequently seen as a suffix, as in Mhorri-gan, begotten of Mhor-ri or Mur-ray, the “great queen.” See gionach. GINEAMHAIR, obs. January. The month of high begetting (since there was little else to do). Also implies “begiining.” Ginean, a foetus, any diminutive creature. Gintinn, the act of procreation. GINEAS, the seat of emotions, emotions as opposed to intellect. The subconscious mind. Geinem, begetter. In ancient times it was suspected that this spirit was resident in the heart, and was constantly at odds with the spirit of the head. GIOBAN-IORTACH, goose-grease, good for the ills or man or beast. GIOLLA GRÉINE. The daughter of a human father and a sunbeam. Told of her supernatural side she jumped into Loch Gréine and was drowned. GION-BHAIR, syn. January, gion, having an excessive love of leisure (but what is there to do in this dark cold month?) avarice, voscacity. See the next. GIONACH, greed, MIr. ginach, craving, from the obs. gin, mouth, thus a “taste” for things, OIr. gen, Lat. gena, the cheek, Eng. chin. GIOINE NAN DRIUIDH, gioine, glass, drinking glass, “the druidic glass,” an amulet worn by members of the druidic order. Also known as the “serpent’s egg” it was supposedly
obtained that it was retrieved from among these animals by tossing it into the air with a scared stick. The eggs were caught on a linen sheet before they could touch the ground. They were then passed to a man on horseback who raced these pooisonous snakes to the nearest running water. Here the snakes could not pass or pursue. The individual “eggs” were mounted in gold and worn on the breast. They were observed as the sizre of a small apple and were said to have a cartilaginous surface. The magic of these eggs was resorted to in solving lawsuits and in gaining access to the kings of the land. Some of these amulets “of glass and stone” remained in Scotland where Pliny said they were “conveyed for the cure of disease...” GIOS, creak, crack, a "putting up" song, milling song. Giosgan, creaking, gnashing. “When a milling frolic was complete and the cloth fulled it was wound upon forms to set. This process called for the "gios", a song in keeping with the usual completion hour of five or six in the morning; the metre tended to be erratic, although more playful than that of the "milling song." "The more knowing matrons would pair off the various girls present with the men destined to become their husbands. There were many forms of "pairing song" and many ingenious impromptu modifications." Usually a lead singer would start asking the question, "What young girl stands here without a husband?" Another singer would answer in the same metre, picking the name of a girl for general consideration. The leader would then ask, "What young man shall I choose for you?" The young girl might tentatively reply, "Won't you give to me my sweetheart?" The leader would then suggest a boy by name, for example: "Then it's Malcolm that I'll send your way?" If the girl had no interest in Malcolm she was likely to be blunt: "That dirty boor, who falls down under the cloud of drink?" Other suggestions would be offered, circumventing the "true love." Left without recourse the leader would at last be forced to name the correct swain, at which the girl was expected to sing his praise. If she was very pleased with him she might
intone: "Ah, that is the lad with the pure heart in his bosom," but if she was less certain she would sing, "If he came begging I'd perhaps offer alms." This was repeated for all the available young women at the gathering, and probably reflects a mode of pairing anciently used at quarter-day festivals. When the cloth was put up it was consecrated with the deasalt (which, see), or sunward turn ceremony in all but pagan communities.” (Highland Settler, pp. 41-43).
GIS, GISEAG, GISREAG, charm, spell, superstitious ceremony, witchcraft in Sutherland, originally a fiery spell backed by supernatural forces, a blast of light energy; later a charm; a magic formula; a fret, any superstition. See geas. The classic burst of light and heat energy used to reduce a foe to black ash; an elder day laser-beam. GIUGA, a goose, a fat silly individual, one “ripe for plucking,” a victim, related to gugail, the clucking of poultry. similar to gogail, cackling.
GIUTHAS, fir, EIr. gius, root gis, see geas; OIr. gae, bristling as in the weapon gae bulge. Resinous Fir tips were burned as torches at the Quarter-Days. GLAISTIG, GLAISTIC, GLAISRIG, glas + tighil, grey, greygreen, pale, wan, ash-like, sallow; Ir. glass, Germ. glas, sheen + + teaghlach, family. Female sidh, a gorgon. A female water imp with a vampire-like taste for human blood; she had the body of a goat from the waist downward. A beansith. or grugach. The male equivalent is the urusig. The Manx glashtyn, also known as the tangie or kelpie. This female sidh approaches descriptions of the classic vampire except that her lower extremities were described as those of a goat. These features identify her as the mate of the bocan, pocan, or phooka, the he goat of Gaelic mythology. The cornbucks, or goat-people had charge of the growth of field crops, and actually dwelt within the grain, being cut down at the harvest. One of their kind, the "corn-mother" (see cailleach bheurr) was overwintered and returned to the field to inspirit it in the summer. The glaistig was benign and gentle towards women, children and the elderly, and was even observed herding cattle for senior citizens. On the other hand, she often took a position near a ford and stopped younger men who tried to pass. Her goat-like attributes were hidden beneath a long flowing green gown, so most men were less suspicion than they should have been when she invited them to dance. Once this seductress held them in "glamour" they were unable to break away as she fed vampire-fashion on their life-blood. These are not unlike the white women and the green women of English myth, creatures equated with the korrid-gwen and the morrigan. The dames vertes, who seem to have been Anglo-Norman spirits led men astray, "destroying them with the violence of their emotions and the exuberance of their lovemaking." The Occult Reader has said...dogs hold in greatest terror certain spots in Skye...rumoured to be haunted by the
glaistigs, local spirits, once popularly held responsible for the deaths and mutilation of members of the canine race." Only one Scottish clan benefitted materially from an association with the glaistig, and this was the Kennedys of Lianachan, who lived on the moor at the foot of Aonach Mor in Lochabar. The family had fled to these wilds pursued by hostile neighbours. This branch of the family known as Clann Ualraig (the descendants of Walrick) fought under the Macdonells of Keppoch and finally became a military power in their own right. According to legend, the Kennedys, at first, had little wealth and no possessions. Walrick Kennedy was often tempted into the fens by will o' the wisp lights but he took the precaution of having his coal-black horse shod with iron, and always wore a powerful belt as protection against the Daoine sidh. He was riding this steed when he came up[on the river Curr. There he found an elderly woman, who unable to cross the river unaided (or so she claimed) asked Kennedy for help. Kennedy agreed but became suspicious when she attempted to mount behind him. "I'll take you over safe," he noted, "but I'd much prefer to have you in front." When she shifted places he seized her hands and using his magic belt tied them to the saddle. She immediately began to bargain for her release but he turned down a number of tempting propositions until she promised to build him, "in one night and one day" a moat-guarded castle which no element could breach. When she further promised to remove herself and all of her subjects from the fenns, Mac Cuaraig agreed: "Before dawn the roof was on the finished building, fire on the hearth and blue smoke from every chimney. Meantime Mac Curaig kept a ploughshare in the fire to defend himself from her witcheries as he well knew what ricks fairies play. Afterwards he loosened the girdle that bound the hag, but kept her outside the window, and when she bid him goodbye with the intention of carrying himself and the castle into fairyland he gave her the hot ploughshare, Mad with pain and fury she leapt away from him and taking up her position on the grey stone of Foich, she hurled at him the curse which has become a household word in Lochebar with reference to the Kennedys: "Grow as the rashes, And with
as the bracken. Turn grey in childhood, And die in your strength." This was a prediction as well as a curse for the Kennedys of LIanachan are no more. Quotes are from Celtic Monthly, 1901. GLAM, GLAIM DICEND, "devouring howl." glam, seize by the throat, ravenous, devour, bawl, cry out. "Forms of verse were many and complex, and the intending poets had to go through an elaborate training to achieve the status of ollam. When they reached that stage they would wield a weapon of fearful authority: Satire. This ranged from the simple "insulting speech without harmony" to the glam dicend (satire from the hilltops, an elaborate ritual of magic." supposedly generating a "gisreag", or jet of destroying fire. The Anglo-Normans divided their "wordsmithery" into charms and spells, the former chanted, the latter, less poetic and paper-bound. The gisreag obviously corresponded with the charm but the English product was less worldshaking. When the Tuatha daoine had been harassed by the "sea-giants", all of their craftsmen had gathered to do war. The magicians had promised to chant up a storm which would create landslides "rolling the summits against the ground" and over their enemies. They also said that they would raise "showers of fire to pour upon the Fomorian host" and create charms that would "take out of their bodies two-thirds of their strength."6 If the word-magic succeeded, its secrets are lost, and today "giseagan" is preserved in Gaelic as the equivalent of "superstition". Caer ard-righ of Connaught illustrates the effects of this magic: His wife fell in love with their foster-son Nede, who happened to be a trained poet. She suggested that Nede should disfigure the king so that he would be displaced under the law that allowed rulers no physical imperfections. Nede thought this might be difficult since it was required that the satirist must be refused a boon by his victim, and King Caer was known for his generosity to
Scherman, The Flowering of Ireland, pp. 55-56.
his adopted son. The disloyal wife pointed out his one weakness: a knife which he could not give up because it represented his personal geas. Nede, therefore, requested the knife, was regretfully refused, and composed a biting satire suggesting that the king was parsimonious. The next morning, the hapless victim awoke to find his face blistered with a red, a green and a white blister. He fled in shame and Nede was elected king in his place. Later Nede, feeling pangs of conscience sought his father-in-law and found him hiding, hermit-like, in a cleft in a rock. Nede approached with words of atonement but the unhappy man died of humiliation at being seen. At this, the rock of his hiding place "boiled up and burst", and a splinter flew off, entered one of Nede's eyes and exploded in his brain. GLAS, sallow, poor, ill-looking, grey from Ir. glas, green, pale, blue-green, a synonym for blue, which was never named in Gaelic because it was considered a colour dedicated to the powerful, and dangerous, gods of the Upper Air. Br. glas, green, Germ. glast, having a sheen; Eng. gleam, glitter, glimmer, glass. The gods were often observed as “blue men,” and there type is not unknown among the present-day Gaels. My late wife, the former Anne Torey of new Glasgow, Nova Scotia, remembers that the Reverend Dr. Fraser of the United Presbyterian Church at Bernard Street had the genotype. She described him as having “a blue-grey skin, light in tone and wax-like in appearance.” Note the alternate meaning, a “lock,” said from the root glapsa, corresponding with the Eng. clasp. GLAS GHAIBHNEACH, GHAIBHLEANN, GAIBLEANN, (Glas Govan), the grey cow of Goibnui, a provider of unending milk. Offended by the Scandinavians this spirit moved to Scotland. Glas. grey; gabbh + leann, prodigious + ale. Balor of the Evil Eye promised this cow to the smith, Goibnui, in return for work on his redoubt of Torr Mor (Great Thor’s Island) off the northwestern coast of Ireland. Balor failed to include the magical "byre" with which the animal needed to be tethered if it were to remain long in one place. Consequently the creature returned to Tory Island, pursued
by Cian, an apprentice to the smith. She was finally restored to the mainland, but ill-feelings were generated between the sea-giants and the men of Ireland. Port na Glaise is said to have been the final residence of the grey cow and some say she is still seen in that vicinity. Wherever she treads there is always an abundance of grass, and occasionally a poor farmer has had the animal arrive unannounced at his homestead. There she has remained enriching that person, until she is invariable stuck in anger, and reacts by disappearing like fog on a sunny mountain-top. See also Gobhan Saor. This animal confers with the Old Norse cow called Audhulma, the “Nourisher” who provided milk for the giant Ymir in the days immediately after the Creation. GLEANN NA BODHAR, “Valley of the Deaf.” Here Cúchullain recovered from his enchantment at the hands of the daughters of Clann Calatin. GLEANN SHEILEACH, Glen of the Sithe or fay-folk, within the town of Oban, Scotland. A place occupied for perhaps nine thousand years. In 1894 quarrymen constructing the present George Street discovered caves containing the remains of Azilian man (6000 B.C.) These Middle Stone Age hunters migrated to Britain just after it had become separated from the continent. Along with human skulls, a score of flints, three stone hammers, harpoons, and other implements of horn and bone were unearthed. GLIC, wise, sagacious, prudent, steady, cunning, cautious, glice, more or most wise. GLISOGANACH UD A STIGH, the “imp that shimmers.” a haunt of Aberfeldy, Scotland. Described as dressed in a black frock-coat, tall and swarthy with an hypnotic gaze. Answers to the name “devil.” Two handred years ago Robert MacLean is said to have wrestled this spirit for three hours. Aftrerwards he was so saturated with evil-influences his horses would no longer approach him and he became melancholy. He was finally exorcisized by a minister from
Weems. GLOG, GLOC, to swallow, a soft lump, glogair, a clown, a stupid person, a Quarter-Day fool, literally an “unstable one,” cf. glug, the noise made by a liquid in a vessel on being moved, Ir. glugal, the clucking of a hen. Also glugach, stammering or clucking, gloc, the noises made by a hen, Eng. cluck, clock, cf. Scot. glugger, the noise made in swallowing a liquid. GNU, parsimonious, surly, mean. In the old Scottish kingdoms a lack of kingly patronage was considered the ultimate evil. Breas was the first monarch accused of this crime. GO, a lie, a fault, a fraud, a liar. Guile, grudge, blemish, obs., the sea, a spear. Said to confer with gag, a chink, “having a bit missing,” Persian zur, false. GOBHA, gow, a smith, now more often gobhainn, from which Mac-cowan. Mac-gowan and Cowan. This craft was considered magical. The divine smith-warrior is commonly seen in the Celtic setting. The divine smith not only fashioned weapons for the gods but presided over the Otherworld Feast. This god is sometimes identified as Tar but is more often said to be the land-form of Manann mac Ler. See next. GOBHAN SAOR (go-uh), gobhainn, a smith; saor (sawr), a sawyer or carpenter; a jack-of-all-trades. The builder to Balor of the Evil Eye. When he and his son constructed the crystal-castle ofTorr Mor on Tory Island, Balor tried to cheat them of their fee by stranding them on the ramparts when he ordered the scaffolding removed. The carpenters quickly began to dismantle their wood and stone work and the sea-giant was forced to restore their underpinnings. When Balor asked why they had attempted to disassemble his castle they explained that it was slightly out of true, and suggested he send one of his sons to Ireland to collect their levelling tools. The tools that they required were
actually non-existent but served to signal the Goban Saor's wife that all was not well. She instructed Balor’s son to retrieve the tools that were needed from a deep chest, and catching him off balance, tumbled him in and locked the top. With the young Fomorian as hostage, Balor was forced to release the carpenters and pay them with the Grey Cow that gave unending milk. Unfortunately, Balor failed to provide the Irishmen with the magical-byre that held the cow in place, and she soon returned to Tory Island. Goban Soar sent Cian of Contje to retrieve the cow and he inadvertently impregnated Balor's daughter, who gave birth to the godhero Lugh of the Long Arm. This lad killed his grandfather Balor, thus fulfilling a druidic prophecy. GOBHAR, GOBHAIR, GOIBHRE, GABHAR, GABHAIR, GAIBHRE, (ga-ar), goat. The root is gab as in gabh, to take (whatever is offered). A Quarter-Day mummer, especially the leader of the group. See boc. Dialectic English, gofer or goofer, from the French gaffe, a bungler, clown, a foolish fellow, an ill-made individual. Confers with goffer, to crimp cloth creating a honeycomb pattern, the kind preferred as ruffles for the costumes of medieval clowns. Related to the German words wafer and waffle. The spelling gopher is preferred to designate small rodents which tunnel the earth in seemingly random, clown-like fashion. Related to the Gaelic gobhar, a goat, the root being gab, take, as in the Lat. caper. The Gaelic root is sometimes given as gam-ro, incorporating the same gam as that seen in geamhradh, winter. The gopher proper is an invisible entity carrying what appears to be a sphere of lambent light, the latter called the gopher-light, corpse-candle, fox-fire, or deadlight. This spirit is known as the fetch when it travels over water and is the close kin of the will o' the wisp. except that the latter is not an inevitable omen of disaster. Gophers are termed runners when they act on behalf of men not destined for death, thus the modern use of the word to describe one who performs errands for the boss. This is the Gaelic fear dearg (fiery man) and the French feu follet
(fiery-fool). The gopher may goof-off while his host lives, but is absolutely committed to communicating warnings of death; first to the person he serves, and later to the community at large. The forerunner may materialize as the double of the man or woman in question, or as a totem animal, 7 but may be perceived as a flaming ball of fire that approaches and falls to earth. The speed of approach is said related to the nearness of death, and there are instances where men or women lived many years after their warning. More often, death after a few days, or weeks, is anticipated. At the time of death, the gopher is aroused for one last duty signalling the passage of the primary soul by lighting the exact future route from the home of the dead person to the final resting place in the cemetery. Less frequently, where death occurs away from home, the light may move from the body to the residence of the dead person, signalling his living relatives that he has "passed over." Whatever the purpose of the light, men are warned against standing in its path, since those touched by it suffered electrocution whether the light was meant for them or some other person in the community. A gopher haunted the village of Cape Negro, Nova Scotia. Two brothers saw one "blazing up right in the middle of the medder (meadow). By the by we could see the "man" who was swinging the lantern. We rushed home and told mother and she ran out and saw it too. After that it came down toward the harbour and then diddled up and down and went back. In most cases the gopher light could be connected with a death, or deaths, in the village. Again, at Cape Negro. two boys managed to kill themselves while hunting birds and afterwards, for several years at the turn of the century a gopher light was seen just before storms at sea: "It would start in the place where the boys shot themselves and would go back (to) the same place. It would start small and would get big as a washtub, and there was a man in the light swinging a lantern. One time, three men went out in a dory that Creighton describes a ghost-dog as a gopher on page 229 of Bluenose Ghosts.
after it to see if they could find out what it was. They took a gun and started to row and they got just so nigh and the light would diddle up and down and it took down the harbour and they couldn't catch it. They shot at it and gave it up. People got scared of it cause after a while it began to move around the shore. It would go down and come up and you could see this man swinging his lantern. When you saw it you always knew there would be a storm..." 8 Sometimes gopher lights merely served to announce a passing, but they could become attached to residences where a traumatic death had occurred, thus evidencing themselves as a ghost of the dead. This seems to have been the case on Spiddle Hill, in Colchester County, Nova Scotia, which was once haunted by a ball of fire. Since it floated over the Ross farm, it came to be called Ross's Torch. "It was a round bright light and lighted the whole place but, when (the family left), it left." No one knew the name of the instigating spirit and it was of such common occurrence that most people ignored it in spite of its reputation as a dangerous omen. One exception was a farmer named Murray, who was a stranger to the region: "He saw the light and was watching it so closely that (his horse and wagon) went off course." He saw something in the light not previously observed and, at home, "collapsed and, although he lived for a while, never got out of bed again."9 At Ingomar, people also gave this name to the spiritlight: "The gopher was something that appeared at Ingomar and people wouldn't go near the place where it was seen... Nothing had ever happened there to account for it as far as anyone knew, but they dassn't pass it. It died away after a
Helen, Bluenose Ghosts, p. 230. Helen, Bluenose Ghosts, p. 235.
while but not before frightening a lot of people." 10 At Clyde River, Prince Edward Island, the haunt appeared as “ dim wavering light.”Joseph Devereux says he thinks it became particularly active in 1910: “It was reported almost nightly at the western end of the bridge. It would drift slowly up the hill past the Presbyterian church, to a point near the Bannockburn Road where, after a pause, it would fade from view.” At first nothing of any consequence took place but toward the end of that year “an old couple, Paul MacPhail and his wife, died in a fire that destroyed their home at the spot where the light was said to have lingered.” This same writer said that similar lights were seen “on a low-lying stretch of land farther west.” 11 At Spirit Hill, Cape Sable Island a man tried to shoot one of this fiery spheres but the shot rebounded and exploded the barrel of his shotgun. Sometimes the lights were accompanied by full poltergeistic effects, as at Seabright, where aprons appeared strangely pleated on the clothesline, lumber was heard falling where no piles existed. Here one resident saw a fire-ball moving parallel to a line fence: "It kept the form of a ball till it reached the woodpile, and then the light disappeared, but not the sound that went with it (a piercing howl). That followed him as far as the door, but not into the house (spirits were sometimes halted by the iron nails and screws that were a part of doors and entrances)."12 Most men could not identify their mirror image, or doppelganger. The exact identity of the gopher-spirit only became obvious to men at the pre-death meeting. This was the spirit that Christian's sometimes identified as their
Helen, Bluenose Ghosts, p. 229.
JOSEPH, “Of Haunts and Spectres,” Weekend Guardian Patriot, Sat. Dec. 17, 1994.
Helen, Bluenose Ghosts, p. 237.
conscience, sometimes seen materialized as a "guardian angel". When Townsend was an adult, working as a plumber on the Ford office tower in Detroit, he had another encounter with the gopher, this time as a light. Townsend was working overtime on a Saturday and had been sent by his boss to the top floor with orders to install radiators: "All right. I went up there. I didn't install much. Eleven o'clock (p.m.) came around. I was the only one at the top of the building. All the others were down below. The boss says, "How's about all going home at eleven o'clock? All satisfied?" Yes. But I didn't know anything about it. Eleven o'clock came they switched all the lights off. I was left up there. A great large room. And a place for a freight elevator right in the middle. You go in there, there's nothing to keep you from going down fifty stories. A hole for a passenger elevator was also there. A hole through every floor. I got to thinking, By gosh, I can't move, I wouldn't dare move. So I doubled my coat into one corner and made a pillow of my lunch box. I didn't go to sleep. I didn't have time to go to sleep. When a great mighty light came up in front of me. Oh, no light, no electric light was as bright. Come over close to me. Then it started to move away. Nothing said,. I knew what it meant: for me to follow the light. I got my coat on, the lunch box and went over to the ladder. And that tremendous light stayed with me almost all the way down fifty floors..." 13 Gopher lights are now termed “ball lightning, and are no longer considered forerunners, but they have become a persistent part of scientific reportage. In Science, September 26, 1924, John Kaiser reported that his house was struck by lightning which spawned a ball of fire, “seemingly about nine inches in diameter which was thrown into the centre of my bedroom and exploded with a terrific noise.” In that same magazine, for September 10, 1937, Mary Hunneman, told of a similar encounter at Fitzwilliam, New
Ronald, editor, Down North, p. 164.
Hampshire. While watching a storm she saw it emerge “out of space” falling through a cellar window into the basement of her house. “It was a round ball, bronze, glistening with gleaming rays shooting out from the top and sides; by its beauty and brilliance reminding one of a Christmas tree ornament... Probably at this same instant, all the electric fuses in the house blew out with unusual violence.” Note also that occasionally on clear moonlit nights, when a cold front is moving in, reports are made concerning goof lights. These hazy spots of light moving across the sky with an undulatory motion, are now considered to be mirage reflections from a wavy inversion layer, or light scattered in passing through ground mist. GOBHAR BACHACH, the “Lame Goat.” Another form for the Glas Ghaibhneach mentioned above. A remain of the mythic cow possessed by the Gabhan Saor. In Skye it is said that the Lame Goat still wanders the countryside finding her byre in the richest meadow lands. She is always in milk, and yield enough to supply a force of warriors. Her name is that given the last sheaf cut at the Harvest Home. GOCAMAN, GUACAMAN, Eng. cuckoo man, a caller from the briar, a sentinel or lookout man, an usher or attendant. Also in Eng. gockman or cockman from Sc. gok-man, a look-out. From the Germanic gucken, to peep. The Norse gauksman, their gaukr, cuckoo, Sc. gowk. Related to G. gog, a nod or tossing of the head and gogaid, a giddy female. A mummer at the Quarter Day. See geoc. GOIBNIU, the “Smithy,” or forge-worker, who served the drink of immortality to the Daoine sidh. He confers with the Wayland Smith of English mythology, the character known as Volund in the Norse eddas. It was said that the Bafinne often came to earth as three beautiful swanmaidens, and that men who plucked their feathers might cause them to take human form and mate with them. The Smith and two brothers did just this, and were able to confine the fates to an earthly existence for nine years.
After this, the three goddesses escaped into the air. Two of the brothers went searching for their errant "wives" but Goibniu knowing it was futile to pursue them remained at home until he was captured by the king of a neighbouring island. Eventually the craftsman escaped to the sidh-hills where he continued to ply his trade. In the war against the Fomors, this smith magically replaced every broken weapon with ones “that never miss their mark; no man touched by them will ever taste life again. And all this is more than Dolb , the smith of the Fomor, can do.” Refer to goban. GOIDHEAL GLAS. Also seen as Goidel, Gaedhal or simply Gael. The mythic son of Niall and Scota, the latter a daughter of the pharaoh of Egypt. The supposed progenitors of the Gaelic speakers (the Irish, Manx and Scots Gaels). GOIRISINN, terror, fear, disgust, detestation, nasty, horrible, alarming, awful. goir, to call out, cry, crow, OIr garo, speak. see next entry. GOISER, pl. goiseran, waits, disguisers, guisers, firstfooters, the cullain men of the Half and Quarter-Days. These are the guisers or disguisers of northern England and the Scottish lowlands. See gighis and Galatae for additional descriptions of the activities of these mummers. Goisinn, a snare, goisridh, company, goisdidh, gossip, godfather, from ME. godsibbe, now gossip. In pre-agricultural Scotland there were two officially recognized seasons: summer and winter. The latter, commencing with the fire-feast of Samhain, was the first half season. It commenced with the old Gaelic New Year (November 1). The second half-season was summer, commencing with the Beltane (May 1). These fire-feasts have been thought to coincide with the movement of wild animals to and from mountain pastures. In agricultural times, two addition half-year celebrations were added to the others, viz. the Imbolg, corresponding with the season of foaling for domesticated animals (February 1) and the Lughnasad, marking the removal of the first crops from the
fields (August 1). Actual holiday celebrations took place over several days around these dates, but the four firefestivals together formed the "Quarter-Days" or "Rentpaying Days" of the Gaelic tuathanachs, or “farmers.” Their English neighbours had different imperatives and different Quarter-Days, but in the border regions the traditions of these holidays have overlapped and melted into one another. In former times, these dates marked the appearance of the disguisers, men who represented the earth-spirits known as the Daoine sidh, or “side-hill people.” More antiquely, the goisers were thought to be antique god-spirits, their leader being a man-god "brought to earth" along with any spirits of evil that plagued the community at that time. See Galatae. GOISINN, GOISNE, a snare, gaoisid. A magical trap. Ir. gaisde, OIr. goistibe, cf.
GOLAMH, the “true” name of Mil orMileus, patriarch of the “Milesian” forces that finally overcame Ireland. Goat-like, toothy, lean-jawed, a “gobbler,” or one who speaks a foreign language. Probably an “endearment” visited on this king by his Tuathan enemies. Eng. gollar, to bawl or shout. GOLANACH, two-headed, forked, horned, from gobhlan. Ellis gives it as “blind in one eye, “ or “one-eyed.” A general name for foreign visitors especially those from the western Atlantic. His prototype might have been mac Golb, the ruler of Magh Mell. He abducted the wife of Fiachna mac Retach and defeated him in subsequent battles. Laoghaire mac Crimthann and fifty champions finally took on this Fomorian and went to Magh Mell. They killed the giant, rescued the wife, and were richly rewarded. See below. GOLL, lipped; Gaul. noted Clinne GOILL, distorted face, angry face, a grin, blubber EIr. gailleog, a blow on the face, any stranger; a See gall. Note also Goll agus Gairb, “Goll and Garb,” a two-headed monster who lived in ancient times at Ridge. His two heads were set on a single neck. This
monster was overcome by Cúchulainn who impaled the head on a sharpened stake. This tale harks back to the duality of the creator-god Da. Allusions are made elsewhere to Fomorian-style three-headed and four-headed creatures. See Loch Cend and Loch Cimme. GOLTRIGHE, golanach + treaghaid, two edged + soul penetrating. "Crying music." Heavily sentimental music used to reduce men to tears. When the Dagda invaded the sea-kingdom to retrieve his harp from the Fomors, he called it magically to his hands and then played the goltrighe and the suantraighe which reduced the sea-giants to tears, and then lulled them to sleep. While they slept, Dagda and his sons lay waste the land of An Domhain. GON. Bewitch, detroy by enchantment, hurt using the evil eye, starve in the cold, wound, blast, pique, gall, charm, fascinate, annoy. Gonach, keen, sharp, bewitching. Gonadair, man with the evil-eye, gonag, a witch, one who pinches or bites, a miserable woman, spell, enchantment, as small portion or bite. Ir. gonadh. wounding, EIr. gonim, I wound, ON. gunnr, battle, from which Clann Gunn, Skr. han, strike or slay. GORAIDH, Godfrey, literally the “god Frey.” MG. Gofraig, EIr. Gothfraid, ECy. Gothrit. ON Gothröthr or Gudrod. The early Gaelic is, however, more closely allied with AS. Godefrid, the Germ. Gottfried. His island was perhaps Fresen (which see). Frey was a sun god, the equivalent of the Gaelic Lugh. GORIAS, gor, profit, laughter, pleasure, light, heat, a summer isle, gorach, silly, thoughtless, mad, a young man; root word: gau, to be free. One of the three mythic islands "of the north" where the Tuatha daoine received their druidic training before coming to Ireland. Urias of the Noble Nature lived here among men who were described as “steeped in wisdom.” The Dagda and his sons ravaged this Otherworld and “out of it came the spear that Lugh carried.” GORTIGERN. The common language spoken by all men in the
elder days. GORM GLAS, “Blue-Green,” the sword of Conchobhar mac Nessa.. This word or “blue” was always substituted for “green,” which was never mentioned aloud since it was the totem-colour of the sithe and the gods of the air. Duncan Reid has noted that many of the Gaels were partially colour-blind and these two colours were those most often involved. Thus we note the expressions: gorm thalla, “the blue hall,”i.e. the sky, but note also an tir ghorm shleibhteach, the “green mountain land.” Similarly gorm phrease described a green bush while gille guirmean is a weed whose blossom is blue in the eyes of most people. “The hastly pale shades od green are uaine.” Glas was taken into Gaelic from the Old Norse tongue and is a colour verging on grey, GRAG, the croaking of crows, Eng. croak, graculus, the noise made by hens. See next. GRAIGE, superstition. GRÀIS, a blessing, prosperity, from gràs, grace, from the Lat. gratia. GRÀNDA, GRÀDA, ugly, ill-favoured, shameful, unseemly, nasty, grim; EIr. gránde, teetered, covered with pustules, one with a skin disease, from gràin, abhorrent, disgusting, Cym. gruen, rough, grief, the Slavonic, groga, the “horrent one.” Gràineag, hedgehog. The Eng. grand and gross. Any powerful, but ugly, leader. Thus, Granda Manann the sea-god and Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy, eastern Canada. Confers with Grannd, Grant, an English family settled near Inverness and with Eng. grand. from the AN. grand. In English mythology the grant is a horse-like fay which breathes out fire and warns humans of danger from this element. During the initial era of the fur-trade, in the sixteenth century, an expedition was undertaken by Etienne crake, Lat.
Bellenger who went first to Cape Breton and travelled from there two hundred leagues down the coast until he came to villages in which there were “houses made of bark.” Here he bartered at ten or twelve villages bringing away ore said to contain silver as well as several varieties of fur. Bellinger paid forty crowns from trade trinkets which realized four hundred crowns so he returned to France a happy man. His voyage had geographical significance since he noticed Grand Manan Island, charting it as Menane, which was supposed derived from the Penobscot Menahan. This island was first described by Hakluyt, who used the name to describe what is now the Bay of Fundy. Grand Manan Island was referred to by the local Indians as ktanagook, “the most important island,” which may explain why it was represented as being the le Grand Menan on the maps of Champlain and later voyagers. In any instance European explorers rarely tagged places with aboriginal names, preferring those from their own cultures. The shortening of this name led to the Bay of Fundy being termed Grand Bay. On at least one early map the Fundy is designated, in full, as Le Grand Baie de Norumbega, “the Great Bay of the Northern Forests.” De Monts preferred La Baye Francoise after the style of the Roman Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), but none of these names persisted. Basque and Portuguese fisherman of the sixteenth century called the waters between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Fondo, a shortened form of profundo, meaning “deep,” but Ganong thought that Fundy was derived from an English misspelling of fendu, “split,” a word that has reference to the fact that the Bay is ultimately divided into the Minas Basin and Chignecto Bay at its headwaters. Notice that an island named Groga-y , the “Isle of Groga,” the “horrible one,” is represented on one of the earliest maps of the northeastern coast, that of Oliveriani, penned in 1510. There is a creature b bearing this name in Old Norse mythology, and she is Groa, the “Green-maker,” who attempted to move a flint splinter (representing the cold season) from the forehead of Thor. Unfortunately she
lost the train of her incantations and the is annoying stone remained embedded. Guerber says she confers with moongoddesses elsewhere, which allies her with the summergoddess Mhorrigan. This sorceress is probably represented in the Gaelic word grugach, wrinkled which resembles grùig, one having an “attitude,” churlish, grudging, gruc, sulky, the Eng. grudge. Note also gróbag, a poor shrivelled woman, thus the Cailleach bheurr, who is the over-wintering form of Mhorrigan. A giantess of Fomorian descent. Alsia, the croaking of crows, which were her totem-animals, greis, gravel, gris, horror, the Eng. grisly, grugach, the “hairyone,” a sith or brownie, the word may also suggest “gnarled trees,” in particular the thornbush. The English word grey is part of this family. In Gaelic mythology this goddess is obliquely referred to as the grisionn, i..e. the gris-fhionn, the “brindled furry-one or the “grey-white-one.” She is thus, the creature identified elsewhere as the Bafinn, or “death-woman,” literally the “white-death,” the banshee or Fate of all men and the gods. The aforementioned island is usually taken to be Groais Island off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland but there is no certainty in this. In later map making Newfoundland itself is seen represented as Grand Isle while the adjacent Cabot Strait is marked as Grand Bay. Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Grand Manan are all, at times, identified as “beginning places” in aboriginal mythology. In each place, tales tell of Glooscap, the godhero of the Algonquins, entering the Underworld through caverns and emerging at some other place far away. This is a metaphor for overcoming death. GRÁNIA, GRÁINNE, gráinne, a small quantity, grain, corn. Gaelic gran, kiln-dried grain, coen, grannaidh, hgaving long hair, Some hold that the Celtic word is borrowed from the Latin cornus. The daughter of Cormac mac Art ard-righ of all Ireland. Fionn mac Cumhail became betrothed in his middle age
to the daughter of Cormac ard-righ, and the Feinn accompanied him to his wedding feast at Tara. Like Deirdri, this princess was uncomfortable with the thought of wedding an “elderly man” no matter how heroic his reputation. Consequently, she approached Oisin and asked if he would elope with her. When he refused, she turned to Diarmuid, who had promised the Òighe that he would never refuse a damsel in distress. Reluctantly, the “spotted-one” fled with this lovely into the wilderness of Ulster. Burning with rage, Fionn pursued. At first Diarmuid treated Gránnie as a sister, but ultimately gave in to the sexual urges created by close company and a common purpose. At first that shared concern was nothing more than eluding Fionn’s hounds, and finding the next badger hole where they could hide. In flight, he was faced with an image of Aonghas who advised him to “flee from this place and every other place known to you. Never go into a cave that has a single passageway, and never take to an island where there are no others somewhere at hand. Where you cook, eat not; where you eat, sleep not; where you sleep eat not on the morrow.” At the first light the pair took this advice and thus avoided the woman-tracker named Derdu, the chief counsellor and spy of Fionn. Even so this tireless woman tracked the lovers at last to the Dun Da Both, which stood within an ancient cromlech. There the Clann Morna led by Fionn. The stone-ring was hard to take having many entrances, and being completely covered over with rubble in those days. Diarmuid only agreed to emerge for battle when he saw the shining figure of Aonghas remove Grannia to the safety of some place beyond time. He then used his staff to vault beyond the circle ring of earth known as the mote which stood about the cromlech, and there made his stand. It is recorded that Diarmuid moved through the ranks of the Feinn “as a wolf through a flock of uncertain sheep.” Afterwards, when Feinn searched through the huge mounds of dead, he found nothing of his long time adversary.
The head of the Feinn now counted these losses: Cormac’s daughter, the warrior named Diarmuid, the dead in battle; the trust of companions in the worth of his deeds, and his own self-confidence, but still he was unforgiving and “wanton in his pride.” As for Diarmuid, he retired into the Brugh na Boyne where he was nursed by Aonghas and Grainne, “although the life spirit almost fled from his mouth.” In spite of this Grainne petitioned the High King that some peace might be made between these recalcitrant men. Although Fionn protested, the Feinn would no longer support his personal quarrel with the son of Donn, and thus the banishment was lifted. Thus, Diarmuid lived to build the Rath Grannia, and there he lay abed when his banshee wailed. Not long after he was invited to join the Feinn in a boar hunt, and Grainne warned him that she had uncomfortable fortellings. The boar that was hunted was the son of Roc, and Diarmuid found it impossible to do the animal any harm with the weapons that he carried. In fact, the boar charged head on against him, ripping and goring the hero,leaving him, at last, as dead. When the Feinn came up to him, it was obvious that their leader was in a good mood for he said: “Here lies , the irresistible, it is a pity that all the woman of Ireland are not gathered to see how he looks at present.” For his part Diarmuid could only beg for his life, noting that Fionn had the power to restore it by bringing a victim of hurt water in his two hands. Although a well of water was not nine paces distant, Fionn’s hatred would not allow him to help his former friend and comrade, and he even made as if to bring water allowing it to drain away between his fingers as he approached Diarmuid. Grainne knew the meaning of the parade of men that came back from the forest, but they bore no corpse, “for that had been taken away by Aonghas Óg.” This event eroded the trust of the chieftains of the Feinn for their leader, and it was said that the keep at Alma became a cheerless place. Nevertheless, after a year, Fionn
petitioned the widow, and she eventually married her late husband’s nemesis. After the marriage, the pair were met by battalions of men shouting derision and “Grainne bent her head in shame.” Nevertheless, it was never said that the sovereignty of earth-goddesses was fair and just and the two remained wedded until death, but it was also said that “the spirit was out of the Feinn.” This force was opposed by Cairbre mac Cormac, and in the end they were killed almost to a man. As for Diarmuid, he went into the Otherworld by way of the Brugh na Boann, but his body remained inviolate on a golden bier near Tara. When ever Aonghas Óg sought companionship, he breathed into the mouth of the corpse, and the spirit rushed east over the waters and roused it, so that this dead man could converse with his foster-father. GREADAL FHINN, Eng. Fionn’s Griddle. A one-time cromlech situated beyond Kilchoan, Scotland. Vestiges exist as socket holes in the ground, and earthenware is found on the site has been dated at 2000 -1600 B.C. See Fionn mac Cumhail. GREALACHEAN, “entrail inspector,” a diviner, EIr. ghr, gut hence the English gore. A druidic specialty. Aged kings who were low in spirit were often separated from their intestines while still living. The condition of these entrails were thought to harbour well, or ill, for the future of the kingdom. GRELLACH DOLLAID, GULLACH DOLLAIRB, the Barony of Rathconrath, Ireland. The secret assembly place for the Dagda and his sons when they plotted the overthrow of the Fomorian king named Breas. It is said that the conspirators included Goibniu, the smith and Daiancecht, the leech. and they “stopped at this quiet place for a full year, making their plans in secret.” It was from the councils taken here that the place was spoken of afterwards as “the Whisper of the Men of Dea (the Tuatha daoine).” When council was broken, the warriors agreed to meet at this place every third year on the anniversary of the date until the
Fomorians were all ousted from Ireland. GRIAN. grian, obs. land at the bottom of water, now: land, The Sun, warm, shining. Bil, the death-god, was nicknamed “the Shining One,” and his holy-day translated as “Mouth of Fire..” He was obviously as much a part of the sun-cult, and the panoply of day-gods, as Lugh. In point of fact the sungod Lugh is nicknamed Lugh Chromain, “Lugh of the Crooked Hand.” In the guise of Cromm the Crooked, Bil is often spoken of as “The Day God,” and it is clear that many of the Beltane altars were once seen as sun-altars. On Mount Callan, near Ellis, Ireland, the Beltane was celebrated on midsummer’s day down to the year 1895. Near Macroom there is a standing stone very clearly designated as “the stone of the Sun.” The antiquarian Sethrun Ceitinn (!c. 1570-1650) said that almost all the cromlechs could be associated with the goddess Grainne, whose name may be taken as Grian, and translated as the “Sun.” Elsewhere it is said that Éire (Ireland) was first married to mac Greine (the son of the sun) and one of her daughters was Giolla Greine, “whose mother was a sunbeam.” The relationship of daylight and darkness, life and death, summer and winter, may not be easy to see, but remember that many of the Irish were located so that they could see the sun-god sink each evening into his domain within the western sea, and he invariably rose by morning from the eastern sea. Note also a woman of this name; a queen of the sidhe, whose palace was within Pallas Gréine in County Limerick. The magician who felt that he could influence the fall of rain conversely knew that he could cause the sun to hasten to the sky. The best trained ancients were also able to extinguish the sun, being aware of eclipses and capable of predicting them. Quite frequently diseases used to be placed on a mangod slated for sacrifice, since it was assumed he only had to carry them for a brief spell before returning to earth, and that he would leave all illness there on reincarnation. The sun was also thought of as a god in the sky, sacrificed each
day to the western earth and reborn, on the morning, out of the eastern womb of Mother Earth. This was a hidden tenant of Maritime witchcraft as shown in the acts of Mrs. Baker, of Oyster Pond, N.S. Parents in that village had a daughter born with a unsightly birthmark on her head, which conventional medicine could not remove. When the child was shown to Mrs. Baker, she said, "The dear little thing; I'm going to do something about that." Drawing first on Christian rites she went into her bedroom and opened a Bible on the table. She then said, "Come over by the window with the setting sun." The mother held the child on her lap while this practitioner "put her finger on the baby's head and made a funny noise with her lips and she did this three times." Afterwards she commented, "That's all I can do today. I hope it will go away. If it doesn't bring her back again." Here, it was assumed that the defect would be carried away with the setting sun, and it was afterwards noted that "It did disappear very gradually." Our witches seemed to have concentrated their effort on producing or curtailing rain rather than stopping the sun in the sky or blotting it out. Nevertheless, there is a persistent belief that the Christian God liked to show his power at Easter by causing it to dance in the sky at its rising. People who held this belief said that they observed the morning sun through black silk cloth or a blackened glass negative. See next entries. GRIANAN AILEACH. A sunny marker. A tumulus, the final burial place of Nuada of the Silver Hand after Balor killed him during the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. GRIANAINECH, one of a sunny countenance, an alternate name for Ogma. GRIAN LUGHA, Literally, Lugh The Sun, He was also known as ” the impotent sun, or the “small sun,” when seen between
Samhuinn and Imbolg. Grian, sun, root gher, warm. Lugha, less from lu, little, the English light. A pale sun. This was the sun shadowed by the Cailleach bheurr, or “WinterHag” Her sun persisted from November 1 to February 2. Although her reign nominally ended with Bride’s Day or the Imbolg (lately termed Candlemas or Groundhog Day) she has never been known to lay down her power-rod without a struggle. It is she who raises the storms of spring, and in the week known as An Cailleach she makes a final effort to retain control. Latha na Cailleach, the Old Hag’s Day (March 25; New Year’s Day prior to calendar reformation in 1600), is the traditional date for her final overthrow, her power being completely gone by the rise of the Samh on the first day of May. Note correspondence of lugha with the defeated (and thus ineffectual) god Lugh (see note under this heading). The ancient Gaels addresssed the sun as follows: O, thusa fein a’ siubhlas shuas, Cruinn mar lan-sgiath chruaidh nan triath! Cia as a tha do dhearra gun ghruaim, Do sholus tha buan, a ghrain! He, of course faced the rising sun in the east. Hence the Gaelic expression for rightness of pursuit, Bheir e fa ‘na ear e, “He brings it to the east.” This has the sense of “He gives the matter proper attention.” At dusk, the following was thought appropriate: An d’fhag thu gorm astar nan spear, A mhic gun bheud, as or-bhuidh ciabh! Tha dorsan na h-oidhche dhuit reidh. Tha paillinn do chlos ‘s an iar. Thig na stuaidh mu’n cuairt go mall Ag coimhead fir a’s gloine gruaidh. GRIAN-SHAM-STAD, solstice. Summer Sun pause. The summer-
GRIANUISG, summer-water, a silly person, fay-person, the
Daoine sidh. GRIBH, obs. Griffin, warrior, a finger. Gribhean, a griffin. Grib-longach, a griffin. GRIGIREAN, GRIGLEACHAN, GRIOGLACHAN, GRIGIREAN, the constellation known as Charles's Wain (Wagon), Odin's Wain. Hugh’s Wagon; home to the Gaelic Oolathair, their creatorgod. Stars known as the Pleiades, anciently the “Allfather’s” court. The Dagda’s constellation. Griogag, a pebble, a bead (in the sky), from the root gris, gravel. GRIOGCHAN, griog, crystal, obs. constellation, the stars of the heavens. GRIOS, entreat, pray, from the earlier grios, heat, encourage, incite, “rake up a fire.” Gris, fire, Skr. ghramsa, sun, heat, sunshine. Note the implicit reference to the pagan fires and the old pagan god Lugh. GRIS, horror, pimples, redness, fire, dt’s, termor, terror, shiver, prickly heat. Sweat produced by fear, a horrified expression; from Scand. grise, to shudder, the English grisly. Grisonn, gray, death-like in complexion, conferring with MEng. gris, having a gray fur. GRODAG, GROBAG DUBH. grod, rotten;, putrid, proud, overly intelligent, cross-tempered, dubh, black, a shrivelled old woman. Another name for the baobh or Gaelic witch. GRÚACACH, GRÚAGACH, hairy, long-haired, a maiden, a woman with a daughter, a brownie, a banshee, sometimes a philosopher, a conjurer or instructor. Rarely the chieftain of a clan, from gruag, a woman, wife, a wig, having lots of hair, maned. Campbell defines this as “‘air of the head.” Ellis says it confers with “an ogre or monster, enchanter or wizard.” An unkempt wizard or enchanter. Eng. crumple. Linguistically related the Dark Lord, the old god named Cromm. The beansith or glaistig of the castle, cattle fold, sheep pen, or dairy in Skye.
“If the herder fell asleep and neglected his task, she tended the cattle herself, and at night would keep the calves away from their dams and preserve the substance of the milk. But she expected a “quid pro quis” for her services, and would beat with a small wand those who neglected to propitiate her with a daily offering of milk.” Highlanders have said that the “long-haired one” was formerly a “professor” or “master of arts,” “the one that taught feats of arms.” In mythology this creature is mentioned as “the learned Gruagach, a druid in his glory.” Demoted, he became one like the Greogaca who haunted the small island of Inch near Easdale, Scotland. “(He) is the phantom of that same Druid, fallen from his high estate, skulking from his pursuers, and really living on the milk left for them by those whose priest he had once been.” It was said that this particular bodach was a retainer to the Macdougalls of Ardincaple; “He takes care of their cattle in that island day and night...” A gruagach is said assigned to Skipness Castle, “and is still remembered as a supernatural female who did odd jobs about the house for the maids and lived in the ruin.” There is another in Kerrisdale, Gaiurloch, Ross-shire. All of these may be the same as the Groac’h of Brittany, reputed to be a druidess who had a seat of learning on an island. These creatures are associated with the Otherworld. In 1867 Kenneth MacLeod reported thgat one of these was seen “standing on the Laig brae in Eigg and she was designated by the harvesters who saw her as:”a woman of the other world.” Campbell equates them with the seagiants. In a few of the tales their descendants described them as “a wise,learned race, given to mahgic arets, yellow or ruadh, auburn haired, possessing horse and knowing how to tame them... Able to put the waters between themselves and their pursuerers, good looking, musical, possessing treasure and bright weapons. Using king’s sons and other races as slaves, and threatening to eat them...given to combing their hair wi.th gold and silver combs...” Therefore, the famhair. See also Morgau
GRUGACH AN UBHAIL. The “apple monster.” These creatures were sometimes represented as throwing a golden apple in the dirction of anyone who approached. Those who caught the apple and returned it with full force killed the beast, otherwise the unfortunate traveller died. GRUNNDAIL, grunnd, ground, well-grounded, sensible, careful, frugal, a sage, grunn, a handful, a crowd, Br gronn, a heap. Similar to the English grain, thus a collector of grain. Also a river monster; perhaps from Sc. grunnd, bottom, channel in water, ON. grunnr, bottom of the sea or river, Eng. ground. Note Beowulf’s troubles with the Grendel and the Grendel-mother. GU, evermore, eternally. GUAG, guath, common, traditional, a Quarter-Day fool, simpleton, clown, a giddy, whimsical fellow, having a spayed-foot, lamed (to prevent escape), Ir. guagin, folly, a silly one, from ME. gowke, a fool, cf. Eng, gawky. Also G. guga, a silly “goose.” Gugail, the clucking of poultry. Same as guacaman, gocaman, geoc, guraiceach. GUAIRDEAN, a whirlwind, vertigo; similar to cuairt, to travel in circles. The sithe in travel. Men often bowed, or lifted their hats to these “good neighbours” as they passed. See next. GUAIRDEAN CEARRACH, the “Left-handed Guardian.” an acronym for the Cailleach bheurr, the “Winter Hag.” “Guardian” has reference to her duties as protector of the animals of the wild and her stewardship over the Cauldron of the Deep. GUCAG DHOSGACH, "the ferry boat of sorcery." Gucag, bubble, bell, globule, bud; do + sgath, negative prefix + a shade, a shadow. The "crystal-craft" used in transport between Britain and the "dead lands of" the west. Confers with "Wave-sweeper" the death-ship piloted by Manann mac Ler
once each year at the constructed of “copper.”
GUIDH, “pray thou,” a prayer, wish, Irish, guidhim, I pary, guidhe, a prayer, an imprecation; gada, gath, voice, from gad, to speak; root-word ged, god, similar to ghedh. to ask (a favour). Also cf. with AS. bidden and the English bid, gad, gab. Wishes directed towards God, the gods or toward nature-spirits. GUILEAGAN, from gaileag, the chirping of birds, the uttering of a charm; refers specifically to the old custom of boiling eggs out-of-doors on Latha Guileagan, freely translated as "Easter Sunday." See guag, above. Easter is, of course, a pagan feast-day confiscated by the Christians. It formerly belonged to the old Norse goddess Eastre, or Ostara, who is the equal of the Gaelic goddess Bridd, the patron of married love, hearth and home. This goddess was too popular to dismiss as a baobh, so she was elevated to Saint-hood as Saint Brigit. The Saxon goddess who survives in our word "Easter" was also considered a fertility goddess, the symbol of a reborn earth after the long "death" of winter. It was customary to celebrate this day by exchanging brightly coloured boiled eggs, for the egg was considered symbolic of the beginnings of life and new things. The early Christians continued this tradition saying that the egg symbolized the resurrected Christ. In various parts of Germany stone altars still stand which are called Ostara stones. They used to be crowned with flowers in the spring and were the sited of ritual and informal sex, great bonfires and left-handed circle dances. These were popular "games" practised well into the last century in spite of the denunciations of Christian priests and philosophers. In Scotland it is still the custom, in the rural outback, to roll these eggs down steep hills, the damage they incur being considered an omen for the egg-runners. GUN DOL AOG, “taken away by Aog,” putrefaction which was attributed to the presence of the spirit known as an-t Aog, the death-god.
GURAICEACH, a plucked bird, a blockhead, hair-brained, queer, a big awkward fellow, an unfledged bird, simpleton, fool. A cuckoo. See geoc, gocaman, etc. GUTH, a bard, to taunt or defame, to ill-name, erudition, having a voice (and using it). Guthach, noisy. GYVE, a magical blemish placed on the forehead of an enemy. See glam dicend.
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