The Micmac and Malicete peoples, who currently live in the Maritime Provinces are not thought related to the palaeolithic Indians. Their ancestors could not have been in place to witness the great glacial floodings in the northeast, but may have heard the tradition from their neighbours. In any event, all of the tribes living along the continental glacial edge were familiar with the phenomenon, and the world flood probably became entwined with tales of freshet floods along the Saint John River and other local streams. In local Indian mythology Glooscap inhabited this world, emptied of people, for ?seventy times seven nights and seventy times seven days” there being no other Indians on the land at the time ? excepting wild Indians, very far away in the west.” It is claimed that the ?Master” arrived on the scene in by ?stone canoe” cruising in on the tide with the rising sun; although others claim he came down from the moon. The least imaginative version has Glooscap appearing from the depths of the forest. In the legends this mortal-god is remembered as ?the wonder-worker” but his name is a synonym for ?liar.” Like most mortalgods he assumed some of the prerogatives of his betters, but the Indians were always careful to point out that he was not ?Nikskam, Father of Us All, nor Kesoolkw, Our Maker, nor yet Espae Sakumow, the Great Chief.” Rather, he was spoken of as the first creation of Kji-kinap, the Great Power. It was said that Glooscap was once a sentient but unmoving mountain located in the Ukakumkak, or ?beginning place.” This is amazingly close to the Old Norse concept of a Ginungugap, or ?beginning gap:” in fact the two places are both north east of New England, the former being identified as Newfoundland, the latter as beyond the Davis Strait. Before the beginning days, Kji-kinap, or Kesoolkw, is said to have tired of perpetual chaos (which is the natural state of being) and organized matter and energy as a rainy-day activity. In a Passamaquoddy version of the creation myth Kji-kinap created the Six Worlds of the known universe and came to earth in the form of a blazing meteorite. Standing over the rock mass that was to become a man-god, Kji-kinap directed lighting bolts across Glooscap from north to south and east to west. In some versions of the tale he breathed life into the mouth of the ?stone man,” ?the man from nothing.” It was said that the Great Spirit raised this first life form so that he might have someone to admire his handcraft: ?Behold here, how wonderful is my work, all this I created by my wish of mind: the existing world, ocean, rivers, river-lakes.” Being a creation of the one-god, the newly-made mortal god had an innate grasp of magic and immediately strove against his creator to see if he could better him in bringing interesting things into existence. Perhaps seeing that his cause was lost, Glooscap willed a wind, which tore some of the newly formed trees up by the roots. His maker then created a similar wind that was so strong it tore Glooscap’s hair from his head. But this wind was superior, being so subtle Glooscap only noticed the damage when he put a hand to his bald head. Having a short attention span, the ?one god” soon tired of this play, turned the keys of the universe over to Glooscap, and stepped back outside of time and place. 1

From the first Glooscap was said to have ?an evil twin” but it appears that this creature was his alter-ego rather than a separate personalty. The woman called Noogumich (grandmother) who shared his tent, seems, in like manner, to represent his feminine aspects. It was suggested that she was not his mate, but the provider of food, medicines and sober, grave and good advice. Malsum (Wolf), the brother, was understood to be evil from conception, and it was he who killed his mother, the moon-goddess, by tearing his way from her womb in his premature desire to be born. The origin of ?The Grandmother” is rarely specified although it is said that she owed her existence ?to the dew of the rock” and was ?born of the noonday sun.” If we accept the myth, this three-in-one being stood long upon his strange land, awaiting the coming of more commonplace men. It is said that he afterward established an Indian village at Pictou, ?a town of a hundred wigwams.” This agrees with the archaeologic record, and if true, attaches Glooscap to the linguistic group known first as the Sourisquois, and later as the Micmacs. Their ancient bailiwick stretched from the Saint John River east to the ocean and from the Gaspe to Cape Breton, including all of Prince Edward Island and most of Nova Scotia. It also dates his coming to the period before ceramics evolved and suggests he was not associated with the Celtic and Old Norse settlers who arrived in the northeast in historic times. As the ceramic period commenced locally about the year 500 B.C., Glooscap is associated with these or earlier times. Unless it is assumed that Indian sources are unreliable Glooscap cannot be Prince Henry Sinclair or an viking Norse traveller as some historians have suggested. The ancestors of these Indians approached the northeastern shore from the west rather than the east. We are told that the ?people of the dawn” once lived beyond the Cordellarian Range, perhaps as far north as the Rockies. Chief William Paul of Shubenacadie claimed that three young families began this epic trip by paddling up rivers from the shores of the west,through the canyons to the headwaters. Here the party climbed to the mountain tops and portaged their canoes toward the south east and the plains. Following brooks and rivers they arrived at the headwaters of the Mississippi and followed this river to the ocean. At the delta, they struck out to the east and rounded present-day Florida. Travelling along the coast they at last came to the site of what is now New York. Here they penetrated inland to ?Wokumeak”, a clear water lake that used to back New York City. Following streams out of it, they paddled northeast to Boston. ?When they got there one of the young men died and they named a river ?Soogogea” after him. Following north, they explored the Penobscot River and the Saint John, naming the latter ?Oolotook, ? ?a very quiet running water” which they noted ran ?back and forth” with the tides (the Reversing Falls). They remained here for a year, and then moved on to ?Shubenacadie”, Nova Scotia, ?the place of the wild nuts.”1 Creighton, Helen, Bluenose Magic (1978) p. 86: Paul also refers to this as the Indian potato and as ?sugebbun-k”. It is described elsewhere as the ?segabun” or Indian Turnip and is now best known as the Jack-In-A-Pulpit. The plant contains crystals of oxalate of lime and is not eaten in the raw state but is allowed to dry for several months so that the pungent taste dissipates. Slices of the dried bulb are still considered a cure for chest ailments and it is used to treat stomach complaints. 2

Having explored all of Nova Scotia and some of New Brunswick, these early Micmacs decided to stay in the region, noting, ?we can live into this place better than where we come from...no disasters will trouble our children here, no storms, no thunderstorms, no earthquakes, no cold weather (a relative and perhaps premature judgement). Every particle that belongs to this land is very precious and nice and not hurtful. Everything is ready to hold life up, and that’s’bout all.” Interestingly, Shubenacadie, the new population centre, was only a few miles from Debert, the former south of Truro, the latter immediately north. Thus the early Micmacs settled not far from the old haunts of the mysterious el-folk. In the archaeological records this tribe was first designated as the Souriquios, and they soon occupied Nova Scotia and all of New Brunswick west of the Saint John River. At this same time the lands west of the river, down into New England, became the province of the Malecite tribes, to whom the Micmacs are linguistically allied. The Passamaquoddies may have been a costal element of the Malecite tribe, most of which dwelt inland. The newcomers must not have been long in discovering the presence of Glooscap’s major encampments at Blomidon and Pictou, which are both close to Shubenacadie. The mangod afterwards came among men, but kept his own camps at Blomidon, at the Fairy Hole in Cape Breton, and at Minister’s Head, on the Kennebecasis River in New Brunswick. In his book Prince Henry Sinclair, the writer Frederick Pohl equates the merchant-prince with Glooscap, and traces his movements in unbelievable detail (considering the fact that Glooscap’s history is ambiguous and entirely oral). He contends that Glooscap spent no more than a part of one summer and a single winter among the People, leaving on the following summer. Considering the far-flung camps that the Master established, and his adventures in every part of the northeast, he must certainly have been a busy god to accomplish all of this in a single year! We are more inclined to suppose that Glooscap represents the sum of a number of visitors from the outside world. Whether he visited little, or long, Glooscap made a serious impression on all he encountered, having ?the air of a great chief.” It was admitted that he was especially admired ?by the women,” although all felt honoured ?whose wigwam he deigned to enter.” He was a clever politician, ?able to read the thoughts of men as if they were beads strung one after another as wampum. He could see deeply into every heart.” In addition he was reported ?a right boon companion, who loved nothing better than ?a well-filled pipe full of fragrant tobacco.” Glooscap often took leave from the Indians disappearing into the earth, or journeying in distant lands, but he frequently returned to a winter camp at Blomodin, or established himself northwest across the Minas Basin, at Cape D’Or. The latter place was first named Owokun, ?where the deep sea surges,” and is a promontory well suited to guard against unexpected intrusions. Cape D’Or projects into the tidal race of Minas Basin at a place where the mouth constricts to six miles, thus it is well named. Glooscap may have had good reason for visiting this rather exposed highland, which once stood like a spear in the waters between Advocate Bay and Greville Bay. The west side of the Cape is precipitous and more than 250 feet in height where it looks out on the Bay of Fundy. It has the aspect of a grounded island, which is exactly its history. The whole Minas 3

Basin was once clear of water as drowned tree trunks within the upper basin testify. If the Master had arrive before, rather than after glaciation, he would have seen a ?golden island” rather than a ?golden cape.” In those el-days these Nova Scotia highlands were separated from the mainland by a strait which was more than a mile in width. In the older seas, two boulder strewn spits very nearly closed off the race of water and then the glacier filled what remained of the channel with detritus. When the sea flooded back into the Fundy valley the island had become a cape standing above Advocate Harbour. Since then two more spits have developed shutting off the harbour. Cap D’Or was given its name by Champlain and his cohorts, and or is French for gold, thus Cap d’Or was the ?Golden Cape” when it was first seen and named in 1604. This is appropriate for any cliff face exposed to the setting sun, but is particularly significant in view of the fact that Champlain named Advocate Harbour Port des Mines and made the adjacent thoroughfare Channel des Mines and the basin beyond, Bassin des Mines.. There is no indication in the historic record that the French took any gold from this location, but the names were probably spread about to confuse competitors. Champlain did say he found abandoned copper mines at the head of the Bay of Fundy, and one of these promising locations had to be dismissed as unworkable since it was located just above the low tide line. In Glooscap’s time this mine may have stood in a better location with respect to the moving tides. It must also be noted that placer gold has been found on the south shore of Minas Basin and there have been nine active gold mines there since Champlain’s day. Glooscap knew about the shiny metals and warned the tribes against the avarice that white men would show in seeking them. If Glooscap mined copper, gold or silver he said nothing to the Indians, but he did state that his wigwam, in the Afterworld, would be seen lined with gold. The Master retained other monopolies including that ?in stoneware, in toboggans, in knowledge of good and evil, in pyrotechnics, and all other commodities,,,He shaved the stone into axes, spear points and other forms, but the braves preferred plucking their beards to using one of his stone razors. He got fire by rubbing two sticks together for, well, perhaps two weeks. One occasion, he engaged in bringing all the ferocious animals under the control of man. After a rest of seven moons Glooscap got busy clearing the rivers and lakes for navigation.” 12 Chief William Paul adds that Glooscap introduced a thirty day calendar for the year, each month beginning with ?the bright moon.” ?..twelve moons would be one year and he had a name for each moon-month. ?Agese-goos,” that’s the month of May, ?Wegawwegoos,” that’s October. It would appear that the Argonauts were not the only Europeans to intrude upon the western ocean, for Glooscap created a taboo against taking canoes upon salt water, possibly hoping to forestall premature contact with the white men. Another reasons may have the simple lack of ?sea-canoes.” By the year 1600 Nicholas Denys reported that the natives made free use of dinghies hidden near the shoreline by fishing captains, who intended to retrieve them on a subsequent voyage to Atlantic Canada: ?When the owners recognize their boats at some

Anon, quoted by Rev. D. McPherson, Port Hood, N.S., for many years a missionary among the Micmacs, Lib. Cong. recordings 7285, 7286. 4

later date, they make no more ceremony about taking them back than the Indians do in borrowing them.” L’kimu suggested another problem:, ?the Bad Fish which often infest these seas.” The sorcerer told Abbe Maillard that ?these brutes attack the sterns of our canoes so suddenly and without warning that they sink the boat and all who are in it. Some escape by swimming but there are always some who lose their lives to these flesh-eating fish. When we make a journey on the ocean (which we rarely do) we take very leafy branches and affix them to the stern of our canoe. Then these fish draw away and do not come near us. Apparently they think this is land where they could became stranded.” This was early on, but in 1893, these ?devil fish” were still a force off the shores of Pictou. Here two canoemen, Louis Pictou and Peter Muise were on a trip for white maple. Just beyond Green Point, Pictou took up his gun to shoot a loon, but before he could fire had his attention diverted by a huge shark which was homing in on them, This fish was quicker than the trigger finger and bit a piece out of the canoe which was over a foot long and two feet wide. The shark did not attack after that but the canoe went down and=d Louis Pictou was drowned. Whatever the true case, Glooscap predicted the ultimate collision of cultures, explaining that he would drive his canoe into the northwest seeking a new death-world for the tribes: ?In years to come your home here is to be distroubled. You’ll be living with people who fancy flashing stones and you’ll come to trade in them as they do. You may think that these white people possess the land which belongs to you, but I will come in the end to return your homes, prevail my words.” With this, Glooscap boarded his stone canoe and departed from the Maritime Provinces. Some claim that he is now busy filling a lodge with spear-points and that he will return south when his arsenal is filled. Like most mortal-gods, Glooscap made every attempt to represent himself as the creator-god, which may explain why his name is a synonym for ?liar.” A few credulous individuals may have believed that he created ?mikumweesmaq,” the ?little men who lived beneath stones,” but it seems likely that few accepted the idea that he had created human life. There was is a tale that the human spirits were released from trees when Glooscap peppered them with magic arrows, but this coexists with another which says that the first man, Nataoansem, ?came unto Glooscap and Nogami under a noonday sun.” Similarly, ?the mother of all Micmacs came unto these three and saluted them (on another day) when the sun was highest.” The implication is that these were children of the sun rather than the offspring of the culturehero. In the latter days there were no questions concerning Glooscap’s status as a man-god: When they were interviewed on a Cape Breton reserve during the last century John Knockwood and Martin Sack said that Glooscap was not considered a chief of their tribes and was certainly not a god although he was ?a very great man, who might have become a god.” Noting his grasp of technology and his information concerning the white races, a number of present-day writers have attempted to describe Glooscap as a displaced European. This is contrary to Indian tradition where the master is represented as ?having about the same grade of yellow” (skin) as the local tribesmen. William Paul says, ?Micmac Indians. They didn’t see any difference about him by the 5

person.” Glooscap appears to have been somewhat taller than average, but aside from that, his chief distinguishing attributes hinged on his possession of magical weapons and skills. Like Thor, he possessed a ?laser-belt” capable of sending forth jets of damaging energy. Early on in his career, while Glooscap laboured at the organization of Kji-kinap’s world, his brother Malsum toiled to construct his own forms of life. The Wolf was always an incapable craftsman and his only success was the animal known as ?Lox”, which white men have named the wolverine, or Indian devil. This creature served as Malsum’s spy and is still known to have a genius for disassembling the works of men. Glooscap tolerated this unpleasant addition to Earth World until Malsum began to use Lox to plot with men for his overthrow. In a high noon confrontation ,the twin brothers belted up and met in northern New Brunswick. Their random blasts at one another denuded the entire landscape in the fashion of a forest fire. As an unintended consequence, a stray beam of energy blasted its way through Perce Rock in the Gaspe. This supposedly created a breech in the barriers between the worlds allowing unwelcome company to flood through and savage the world of men. Those that intruded included witches and warlocks, strange sea-creatures, the thunderbirds, the underground panther, sometimes referred to as the horned serpent and the Chenoos, or Canoose, who were similar to Glooscap in size, but cannibalistic and unhygienic in appearance and attitude. These latter may have been the viking Norse, who appeared in North American waters after the Micmacs and Maliseets had become a sizeable population. According to ancient myth, Glooscap remained longer in the land of men than he had intended because he considered himself responsible for this mess. When he had civilized or terminated all of these dangerous folk, Glooscap turned his canoe at last to the north-west. Since he retreated into the northern seas there is a possibility that Glooscap may have gone to rejoin the classical race referred to as the Hyperboreans. Excepting his size Glooscap is not represented as much different from the Algonquin tribesmen. This is not true of the ?gods” of Peru. Here the Incas told the Spaniards that they had lived in a world of savagery until a bearded, light-skinned foreigner and his entourage came to their country to teach them technology. An Inca known to the Spaniards as Garcilasso recounted developments as he heard them from his uncle: ?In ancient times, all this region...was covered with forests and thickets, and the people lived like wild beasts, without religion, or government, or towns, or houses, without cultivating the land, or clothing their bodies...They lived two or three together in caves, or clefts in the rock, or caverns underground. They ate the herbs of the field and roots or fruit like wild animals, and also human flesh. They covered their bodies with leaves and the barks of trees, or with skins of animals. In fine, they lived like deer or other game, and even in their intercourse with women they were like brutes.” Ciez de Leon writing of the period ?before the Incas reigned in these kingdoms, says that the sun-god first appeared in South America ?on the island of Titicaca.” Indian informants told him that ?he came from a southern direction, a white man of great stature, who by his aspect and presence demanded veneration and obedience.” Like Glooscap, he travelled widely admonishing men to prefer good over evil. In most places he was named Ticiviracocha , but in Collao they call him Tuapaka. In other parts he was Arunaua but in all places they built temples in which they inserted blocks of stone bearing his likeness.” A third writer who participated in the colonization of Peru asked the Indians about this 6

culture-hero, the man-god was described as ?a tall man, bearded, wearing a long white vestment tried with a girdle. He carried his hair short but upbraided behind in the manner of a priest of men. He walked solemnly, and carried in his hands things which the natives say were very like the books and breviaries that our priests carry in this day.” No one knew exactly where Ticci originated but in the language of several South American tribes his name interprets as, ?Foam of the Sea,” one of the designations also pinned on Glooscap. A fourth chronicler suggests that some of the Indians suspected the visitor of misrepresentation. While the highlanders of Peru were reverent towards their sun-god, the coastal dwellers said that, indeed, a tall, blonde, white-skinned personage had visited them before moving northward to Lake Titicaca. There they say he established his hegemony through deliberate misrepresentation, introducing his fair-haired offspring to the northerners as offspring of the sun. Even in his capital Ticci and his white and bearded followers were referred to as the mitimas, an Inca word for colonists or settlers, suggesting that some of the natives understood their true nature. Like Glooscap Ticci taught men how to grow and cultivate crops and showed the Indians how to construct homes and live in organized communities governed by law and order. Going a little further than his northern counterpart this man-god introduced formal sunworship and ordered the creation of megalithic carvings and the characteristic step-pyramids of South America. From the centre of his empire Viracocha sent missionaries to all parts to teach men that he was their creator and protector. Like Glooscap, the Ticci was unable to control all of the population and tiring of the business of revolt and war gathered his party and moved across land to the port of Manta in Ecuador, from whence all sailed westward into the Pacific departing for the ?land of the setting sun.” In neighbouring Venuzuela the man-god was named Tsuma or Zuime, but he is, again, credited with creating an agricultural society like Hu and Glooscap. In those parts it is claimed that this divine lived among the people for a time but was finally driven out because of his persistent stiff-necked advice. The Cuna Indians have a tradition that after the great flood, ?there appeared a great personage who taught the people how to act regarding one another, what name things had, and how to use them. He was followed by disciples who spread his teachings.” In Mexico, where the Aztec empire flourished, the god was entitled Quetzacotal and it was said that he was white and bearded. It was this fact that allowed the Spaniards to penetrate the Aztec lands without initial resistance, for the men of the new world were convinced that the new strangers were the kin of this powerful race. This god of men was ?clothed in a long white robe inscribed with red crosses and carried a staff in his hand.” After his tenure, some say he died on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and that his body was burned (in Celtic or Norse fashion) along with all of his treasure. Others insist that Quetzalcotal and his entourage built ships, ?a magic raft of serpents,” on which they sailed away promising to return and reclaim the land in the distant future. There are similar culture heroes north of Panama: The Plains Indians referred to this outsider as The Old Man. Among the Salish tribes he was Coyote and on the Pacific coast, 7

Raven. He was Trickster to the Carrier Indians and Wisekedjak among the Crees and Saulteaux. Immediately west of Glooscap’s country lived Nanabush or Nanabozho the patron of the Ojibwa. It was this man-god who stole fire from the sun and gave it to man. According to myth, he also raised the Canadian Shield, refashioning the world following the Great Deluge. He allied himself with men against their great enemy, the cannibalistic Wendigo, entered and exited the belly of the Great Sturgeon (thus overcoming death), persuaded the Thunderbird-men to peace, invented rock art and tutored men to become the shamans known as the Midewiwin. Like Odin he created four beneficent creatures and placed them at the four points of the compass. The one in the east was called Light; the southern spirit, Heat; the western, Rain; and the northern guardian, Snow. It was claimed that this god among men rested from his toils in the form of a great ice-island that floated upon the great seas in the remote north. It is guessed that he currently resides at the Giant’s Tomb, a promontory above Thunder Bay, Ontario. Nanzabohzo has been identified with the more recent Hiawatha, ?he who makes rivers.” Hiawatha supposedly assisted Chief Dekanahwideh in the creation of the Iroquois Confederation about the year 1459. Charles M. Skinner (1896) writes that this hero ?came to earth on a Messianic mission, These tales of various culture heroes suggest pre-Columbian visitations of the Americas from abroad, probably by a number of oceanic travellers, whose individual exploits sometimes became confused and embodied in a single mythic figure. Throughout the years, attempts have been made to explain away the paradox of technically advanced, oddly-featured, strangers among the brown-skinned beardless natives who occupied lands all the way from Labrador to southern Peru. Some historians have suggested that the flowing white robes and beards of the ?gods” were allegorical references to the rays of the sun, and that the Indians somehow confused post-Columbian visitors with those who visited after 1492. Both these views reflect the early European underestimation of the intellect and sense of history of the Indian tribes of the Americas. In our day this cultural bias has combined with the odd notion that movement over vast distances is impossible without ocean liners, trains, cars and airplanes. Many modern historians will not accept the idea that men travelled widely in preColumbian time. This, in spite of the fact that the ?first” explorers of the New World had only rudimentary methods of travel. Even on land, the Spaniards, within two decades of their first landing in Mexico, explored all the territory between there and the Pacific Ocean as well as the other compass points from Kansas to Argentina. In the millennia before their invasions it is difficult to believe that sea-voyagers and land-travellers were any less active. The visual records of the South American cultures suggest that the ?gods” were intrepid travellers. The pyramid of Quetzalcotal, the Mexican culture-bearer, shows him swimming as a plumed serpent amidst conches and other marine shells, all carved in high relief on this structure from top to bottom. On the hilltop of Cacaxtla, about ninety miles from Mexico City, there are polychromed frescoes of a black-skinned man holding a marine shell under one arm. From it, the artist has shown a white man emerging ?as if born from the sea.” Again, in the Yucatan, there is a Mayan pyramid whose walls featured white mariners, with flowing golden hair, doing battle, at the sea-shore, with land-dwelling black people.


We can only guess at the warring factions in these panels (now destroyed by tourists), but it can be supposed that many ancient mariners were driven from their own shores by famine, war, pestilence, and the winds and currents of the great ocean-sea. In historic times, blond-haired travellers were most often associated with the viking Norse sea-kings, but this people inhabited the Caucasian plains in pre-history. Their blood-lines (and red hair) are still seen in Lebanon, the home of the ancient Phoenician sea-traders. The Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II was blond-headed and the daughter-in-law of Cheops is pictured in her tomb as flaxen-tressed and blue-eyed, so that ?Nordic features” are seen to have been less exclusive in times past. The ?gods” streamed into the west out of the eastern ocean, and it seems probable that their individual identities became clouded by the fact that their high-priests often assumed their names. There may have been a few dozen Glooscap heroes, all descended from the supreme sun-god who was the first to bear this name. In the long span of time these may have become reassimilated into a single mythic deity, the god-creator, culture-hero, and mortal benefactor of men, all rolled into one. Ruth Holmes Whitehead, staff ethnologist at the Nova Scotia Museum, says that the corpus of myth will not stay still: ?Kluscap is first recorded (in written Micmac tales) about 1850. He goes from being one of many Persons in the traditional Micmac world to a central position as the Micmac spirit-helper, always victorious in encounters with Europeans (such as the Canoose). His story-cycle annexes other tales, placing him in a starring role. By 1930, he has taken on some attributes of Christ (particularly in raising men from the dead at the end of time).” His earlier names are of no great consequence since the fundamental spirit of the mortal-god is preserved in his myth-cycle. British prehistory is divided into three main periods of time - the Stone, the Bronze and the Iron Ages. The earliest period, the Stone Age is divided into the Early, Middle and Late Stone Ages. For the confusion of laymen these are represented in technicial works as the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic. There is much controversy, particularly when it comes to relating mythic peoples to prehistoric artifacts, further the dating of these Ages is uncomfortably different from place-to-place. Katherine Scherman thinks that the Fomorians represented ?Mesolithic man, who crept round the edges of the Country catching what food he could with his rude stone weapons, and ekeing out a static existence for some three thousand years...” The Partholonians and Nemedians were certainly contemporary with these folk but appear to have a more advanced handle on things. Irish archaeologist Sean O’Riordain says that ?The Bronze Age may be taken as extending from 2000 B.C. to 500 B.C. and is subdivided into Early, Middle and Late phases, each of 500 years duration.” This start of this Age aligns itself with the coming of the Tuatha daoine to Ireland. This being the case, some of their number may have rubbed shoulders with the Beaker Folk. These people fashioned a distinctive style of pottery and arrived on the islands of Eiru and Alba during the earliest years of the Bronze Age. At that the Bronze Age is not isolated from the Iron Age, which is regarded as the period from 500 B.C. on to the fifth century A.D. whien Christianity came to the western islands. If the Milesians are truly attached to iron technology then they date from about 500 B.C. in spite of fact that the date is given in folklore as 1000 B.C. O’Riordain has noted that the Iron Age was 9

not really well developed in Ireland until about 300 B.C. The succeeding centuries were spoken of as the Early Christian Period, which was followed, in the eleventh century by Medieval times. There is not a divison mentioned above which will fail to raise hackles in some part of the historic and scientific communities. Nevertheless, this is a necessary and useful time scale provided that the reader remembers that time blurs at the edges of Ages and Periods, which are not sharply set apart from one another. Considerable overlap of implements and monuments occurs, and and many objects have been found which fail to compute for their supposed place in time. Throughout Britain some generalizations about time have been made by referring to the large artifacts of men; forts, souretrrains (man-made caves), crannógs (lake dwellings), megalithic tombs, burial mounds and standing stones. These last, known to archaeologists as monoliths or menhirs, have attracted most attention because of their undeniable presence. These are the things that our Gaelic ancestors called the gallán (fromgall, a lowlander or stranger) or dallán. In former times circles of stone were referred to as the chrommliagán, or cromlechs, indicating they were dedicated to the dark lord Chromm or ?Crumb.” O”Riordain says these structures are not easily placed: ?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...” The megalithic tombs number over 1000 examples in Ireland alone, and at that many have been destroyed and others lay unlocated. Most archaeologists relate these burial chambers, on the basis of structure, to others found on the continent, and consider them the product of a cult ?which arose in the Mediterranean and came to this country by way of the Iberian peninsula and Brittany.” In the different districts of Ireland they are referred to as ?the giant’s grave, Leaba Dhiarmuda’s Gráinne,” or the ?cloghogle.” As with the standing stones, there is a suggestion that the Celtic folk did not identify themselves as builders of these structures. There was always stories that Fomors had erected these and other antiquities, but the circles of stones were more often identified as unfortunate giants who had shape-changed by the Tuathan magicians. In some of the graves there are bits of pottery which have been identified as ?beaker-type,” suggesting that the Tuatha daoine might have been present when these passage graves were built. On the other hand there are gallery gaves both in Ireland and Scotland which have been found to contain pottery ?of a heavy type” with crude decorations and these are thought to be of the Neolithic period. The souterrains are even more numerous than the megalithis tombs and ?are found all over Ireland.” They occur in Scotland where they are termed ?earth-houses” or”weems” (from umah, a cave) and as ?wags” (from uaigh, a grave or vault). One of these at Jarlshof, Shetland, has been dated to the Early Iron Age, but others in Scotland have incorporated Roman rubble into their walls. In Cornwall they are termed fogous, and here most are of the early Iron Age. They are even found in Iceland, where they exist as rock-cut tunnels. There is an early Iron Age 10

example in Jutland, otherwise they are not known on the continent excepting the somewhat similar souterrain-refuges of France. Obviously, not all of these structures were created by the retreating Daoine sidh, but many are early enough to have seen use by these bronze-age peoples. In Westviking, Farley Mowat has made a case for Newfoundland as the centre of Old Norse interests in North America. As an aside he has noted that men were probably travelling the Gulf Stream to Europe in the Neolithic period. Scherman has identified the Fomors with Mesolithic man, and if this is the case, the Western Ocean was a busy place very early on. Mowat says, ?They came from west to east,” and insists that, ?History preserves the records of several such ?discovereies” of Europe from America...” We wish we knew who they were and where these accounts he refers tod. We have read brief notes concerning encounters with western men on eastern shores, at or slightly before the time of Columbus, but all the epic accounts are mythological rather than historical. Nevertheless, we will buy Mowat’s contention that Stone Age men were the equal of present-day North American aboriginals. It used to be thought that men of the elder days possessed shipping that was too frail to withstand an ocean voyage, but the archaic Indians of North America seem to have possessed sea canoes, and some of these immense thirty-seaters were still around to greet the fisrt European fishermen when they arrived on the Newfoundland banks in the seventeenth century. The Eskimos were never limited to simple kayaks, but travelled the waters of the Northern Ocean in hide-coveredumiaks, which are very similar in design to the old Irish coracles or curraghs. The hide-covered boats of either people could be sailed (hence ancient references to ?winged coracles”) and were perfectly seaworthy, often containing forty men and their gear. Mowat guesses that these were ?sea-kindly ships” in no way inferior to the fourth-century Romano-Celtic wooden ships used at a later date. ?The use of sqauresails does not imply that these vessels were unhandy and could only run before the wind. Such acknowledges experts as Alan Villiers have demonstrated that square rig is nearly as efficient as fore-and-aft rig, and will enable a well-designed ship to go windward quite successfully.” In the earliest days there were probably few men who actively sought to cross the ocean from north-eastern Atlantic waters. Fishermen and sea-travellers are not always free agents, and some coastal voyagers must have found themselves unexpectedly Storm-blown into the offshore. The largest force there is a huge gyre of counter-clockwise travelling water, that seawithin-the-ocean which we call the Gulf Stream. Its circles about the calm Sargassos Sea, and in the North Atlantic, more or less parallels the Continental Shelf, travelling dead for Great Britain. Those who are on the Gulf often need no sails to make a crossing, although the prevailing winds are also to the north-west. No west bound sailor could hope to make a fast crossing in the face of this sea-current, but the northern Europeans did have a nore northernly route. Accidents of geology left them a line of stepping-stone islands from the Britidh Isles to the Hebrides, the Shetlands, the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland, hence to the other lands Down East. Further, the Stream eddied north-westward at this place, and off Greenland the sweep of water entered the Labrador Current. In these 11

waters there was no prevailing wind to counter and the various landfalls were never more than 400 miles apart, usually within five days sailing distance. Once the Gulf Stream was found, and tried, it a circle route between the two sides of the Atlantic would be seen as practical. The fact that this sea-route was lost in historic times is no argument against its use in the remote past. In an article for ?Oceans” magazine Norman D, Rosenberg has identified the earliest settlers on the northern islands of Europe as ?neolithic farmers and herdsmen” from the eastern Mediterranean forced from their lands by their own poor husbandry and soil practises. His contention that they were led to their voyage by the voice of a priestess, following the advice of a mother-goddess, seems speculative, but the idea that they went to the forest and created ?water-tight and resilent” wooden-hulled ships ?with stone axes and awls,” has got to be wrong. The making of seaworthy ships is not a merely a matter of a desire for survival. Truthfully, no one knows who first came to the Hebrides and what matters drove, or pulled them there. The islanders of historic times have characterized themselves as ?A race of fishermen who do some farming.” Considering Rosenbergs assement of the Hebrides as a treeless archipelego amidst flagstones and heather, it is hard to picture it as the paradise of any group of agriculturists even in the warmer climate of the distant past. Further, the long trip along the shores of the Mediterranean, around Spain and through the long reaches of the English Channel and the North Sea would have been more fraught with dangerous possibilities than any ocean-crossing. It seems more likely that the islands were populated from nearby Pentalande, the place of the Picts and later the Scots. It was probably approached by sea-men, and possibly some of them were ultimately from the mysterious west. They did leave impressive passage graves, the best known being Maes Howe (pronounced hoo) on Mainland, the largest of the Orkney Islands. It is supposed to have been erected in 2400 B.C. which makes it a pre-Tuathan structure of Neolithic time. Consisting of stone slabs, weighing as much as three tons, and measuring as much as 18 feet in length it is an undeniable masterwork of dry-masonry, put up by folk who were contemporaries of the Firbolgs and the Fomors. The whole place is currently hidden beneath a 24 foot high grass mound which is about 115 feet at its greatest width. This underground place was not built for giants as the 36-foot entryway is never more than 4 to 5 feet in height. At the end of this cramped passageway there is a 15 foot square room, with wall niches assumed to have once held the bones of the dead. The people who came here may have been devoted to an earth goddess as Rosenberg has suggested, but the entrance shaft is aligned for penetration by the sun at mid-winter and midsummer and these were the times when Lugh ferried men to the west, or to the east, in his solar wind-ship. North of this location there are other stones thought aligned to the movements of the sun and the moon. In the year 1800 B.C., Rosenberg says that the ?nomads from the Rhineland, distinguished by their copper implements, bronze weapons and beaker-like vessels crossed to Britain.” If these Beaker People were not the Tuatha daoine they were, at least, their associates. It is said that these newcomers swept up from the south dominating the local populations 12

wherever they settled. On the moors of Mainland th wizard-warriors erected two great cromlechs, now known as the circles of Brogar and Steness. These are, of course, Norse names from a later period in time. Only a few of the latter stones still stand by the Ring of Brogar is pretty much intact. A ring of similar age is found at Callnish on the island of Lewis. During these centuries the Orkneys and the Shetlands (which also attracted megalith builders) stretched a little further seaward and stood amidst a maze of navigational hazards. When Nemed and his men sailed first in Irish waters it was said: ?There appeared to them a golden tower on the sea close by. Thus it was: when the sea was at ebb the tower was above the water, but when it flowed out, the water rose and sub,merged the tower. Nemed went with his people toward it from greed for gold.” This myth is supposrted by the fact that gold was now discovered in the Wicklow Hills of Ireland. The Tuathans gathered it up and took this metal and the products of their forges into Denmark and southern Scandinavia. There they must have found and traded amber, perhaps carrying it to more southernly ports for further profit. Even after relatively secure land trails had been established for the amber trade to the east, some of this sea-trade continued into historic times, Mediterranean peoples taking up where the Tuathans and other northern people left off. As time passed the northern seas filled with ice as the climate moved toward the ?Little Ice Age,” but the route which by-passed the Orkneys was never completely abandoned. Then came tThe Iron Age was a time of great turmoil and unrest throughout Europe. A succession of tribes moved in one each other crowding the relatively empty lands bordering the Atlantic. The Celts were at least involved in this restlesss stirring of peoples. In one of the waves which was generated at Britain, a people who were security conscious arrived in the outer islands and built the round towers known as brochs (from the Gaelic broc, grey in colour). These were defensive, conical, double-walled outposts, standing near the sea, on heights of land, stretching all the way from here to Ireland They may be the work of Celtic-speaking builders and perhaps a thousand brochs have been discovered as circular piles of rubble. Some, like the Broch of Mousa, in the Shetlands, is essentially complete at a height of 43 feet, Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether these strange structures were put up by Milesians, or Tuathans or by the Picts, and it is not clear who these people feared. Whoever they were, they seem to have retreated from these islands as low-pressure weather systems brought almost continuousrain and snow to the northlands. Any who remained were certainly put to the sword in viking times, the only exceptions being the Celtic inhabitants of the Hebrides, who mastered the Norse warlords until the year 1266 A.D. The Old Norse became a skilled sea-faring people, but they were traditionally agriculturists and hunters and might never have turned to the sea except for the sight of Celtic trading craft in their harbours. The wooden ships of Britain served as their first models for their first ungainly ships, which later evolved into the famed dragon-ships. But before they suffered the indignity of being attacked on their own magh mell, the Celts had a Golden Age of maritime activity, and there might be less knowledge of this except for their contact with the Mediterranean world of written records. Men of Egypt are known to have 13

developed primtive basketlike boats, caulked with bitumen. The Mediterranean people also had skin and wicker craft, like the Irish coracle. Wherever these were found one usually found a surfeit of cattle and a poverty of large trees. No doubt Neolithic men navigated their craft in creeks and lagoons as a preliminary to trying out the Mediterranean. Even in pre-dynastic Egypt arcaheologist have found illustrations of fairly substantial Nile-ships, some obviously transporting animals up to the size of elephants. Like the Celts, the earliest of these seafaring men must have realized the peculiar freedom and the opportunities that are linked to ownership of a ship. Boat owners could conduct trade, engage in piracy, and flee the vengeance of chiegfs and kinbgs, unless they happened to possess a navy. Because the shipping of the Mediterranean developed in warm relatively calm waters, it spread fewer sails. ?The Mediterranean,” notes one historian, ?is a sea where a vessel with sails may lie becalmed for days together, while a vessel with oars would easily be traversing the smooth waters, with coasts and islands everywhere at hand to give her shelter in case of storm. In that sea, therefore, oars became characteristic, their arrangement being the chief problem in shipbuilding. As long as the Mediterranean nations dominated Western Europe, vessels of the southern type were built upon northern coasts, though there generally was wind enough here for sails and too much water for oars.” The first boats seen in Egyptian picturesare shown being paddled, but 1250 B.C, the crews are unmmistakably shown in rowing postures, about 20 or thirty individuals being the usual number seen in action. The Indo-Europeans were generally late coming to the sea: There was some early boat building in the Fertile Crescent, but this did not lead to much until some of the Hamitic peoples crossed to the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Here they became known as the Phoenicians, and soon developed relatively large craft, and set up harbours at Acre, Tyre and Sidon. Eventually they pushed their interest westward and founded Carthage and Utica in North Africa. The colony at Carthage became the most populous city in the region. Profiting from the long seige of King Nebuchadnezzar II, they gained funds which allowed them the greatest fleet in the known world. Carthage claimed even the Western Mediterranean as her own, thus annoying the Romans who had earlier claimed it as Mare Nostrum. The Carthaginians fought the Greeks for control of Sicily, causing Alexander the Great to plan for her conquest, but he died beforehis forces were able to take action. At her greatest expansion, Carthage had a home port with a population of a million people, and was largely industrial, being famed for her woven goods. At first she was satisfied with a coasting trade, but in those sterile days she had a land-trade into what is now the Sahara Desert, exchanging black slaves, ivory, metal and precious stones from these regions with her Mediterranean neighbours. She soon noticed the Spanish copper mines and to exploit them established a colony at Gades, now called Cadiz. Coasting tentaively along the coasts of Spain and Portugal she finally discovered the Cassiterides, the Scilly Islands of Cornwall, England, and here there was tin. In the reign of the Pharoh Neccho XXVI, (600 B.C.) a Phoenician trade ship, 14

commissioned by the Egyptians, is supposed to have circumnavigated Africa from east to west, starting at Suez and finally returning by way of the Straits of Gibraltar after three years at sea. In 520 B.C. a similarly ambitious captain named Hanno cruised down the western shore of Africa, and came home carrying three hairy ?people,” who he termed gorilllas. Regretably they proved to be violent shipboard guests, and were killed and skinned, the hides deposited finally in the Temple of Juno. Recounting the successess of these people, the Greek geographer Strabo noted: ?Famed are the voyages of the Phoenicians, who a short time after the Trojan War (ca. 1200 B.C.) explored the regions beyond the Pillars of Hercules and founded cvities there and in the central Libyan (Afriican) seaboard. Once while exploring the coast outside the Pillars, they were driven by strong winds a good distance out on the ocean. After being tossed for many days they were carried ashore on an island of considerable size, which is situated a great distance west of Libya.” We cannot know if this was one of Azorean group or some part of the New World. According to Aristotle, the Cathiginians were known to have made some use of this find, for he says they explorered and discovered that the ?island” was ?large in extent, fertile in soil and full of navigible rivers; but the Carthiginians ordered that none other than their subjects should go there.” His description is hardly applicable to any of the Azores or Canaries, which have no navigable rivers. Other ancient texts explain that settlement was discouraged as Carthage felt too many of her citizens might want to go there. She also kept the land a secret because of the unsettled political climate of her times, considering that some fraction of her population might eventually need this hidden place as a sanctuary from enemies. The Portuguses writer, Antonio Galvao says that carthiginian merchants organized a fleet for the exploration of the New World, sailing out of Cadiz, Spain, in the year 590 B.C.: ?They were trying to prove that there was land and found some in the countries we now call Mexico and the Antilles.” In point of fact, the Carthiginians were quite possessive of all lands beyond the Pillars and with their maritime superiority were usually able to block the Atlantic from explortation by other peoples. Strabo tells of an exception, when a Phoenician vessel was followed out of the Mediterranean on its way to the tin mines of Cornwall. When both vessels approached the fogenshrouded and rock-strewn waters of Ushant at the entrance to the English Channel, the Phoenician captain deliberately steered his craft into shoaler water where both ships were wrecked. The Romans all died for their curiosity concerning this sea-route, but some of the Phoenicvians escaped on wreckage, and ultimately the state compensated the captain for tyhe loss of his vessel in the interests of preserving their monopoly over the supply of tin, which was vital in the making of bronze weapons. This attitude explains why classical mapmakers worked in such darkness. Even in Strabo’s day, the Greeks were uncertain about the exact locationm of the Pillars let alone anything beyond them. Timaeus had reported that the ?Fortunate Isles” could found west of Gibraltar but most geographers were skeptical of his report. Everyone knew about Plato’s fable 15

concerning a land he called Atlantis, and of his insistence that there was a continent on the far side of the Atlantic, but the idea of sinking lands was preposterous for most ?right-thinking” men. As for the east, it was known that there was a place called India and an Eastern Ocean which Aristotle though had a vague hope of containing habitable lands. If the length of the world was poorly fathomed, the width was even lesss definite. The Nile was known but places further south were not. As for the Atlantic, it was not referred to as ?Sea of Darkness” without cause. Britain and Ireland were known, and some islands were randomly dotted on the ocean west of Spain and Africa, but there was no decent intelligence relating to anything which existed out there. Pytheas,, a resident of Massilia , in what is now southern France was a shadowy figure whose time and personality are lost. He would be completely unknown to us except for certain ?absurd” statements he made cooncerning the geography of the world. He claimed to have somehow avoided the Carthiginian blockade and taken an expedition out on the Atlantic for a look at the tin islands and anything else which might have some trade value. To satisfy his own curiosity he sailed to the northern limits of Britain. There he noted that the clear distinction between land and water was lost, earth sea and air becoming somehow involved in a jelly-like mix which made more northernly navigation impossible (at the season of his visit). Nevertheless, the locals told him that there was an island named Thule which lay six days voyage further in the direction of the Arctic Circle. Although Pytheas made a fair stab at describing the northwestern coast of Europe as well as the British Islands, his story was taken as ?a tissue of fables,” because of the references to oceanic slush and sea-fog, and his statement that at Thule, the days were twenty-four hours long at the time of the summer solstice. While Polybius dismissed this pioneering work of discovery, other academics, notably Eratosthenes and Strabo, rethought the matter and decided they were dealing with a credible individual. These men compiled the first credible maps of the ancient world, assisted in no small measure by the the downfall of Cathage in 183 B.C., and the rise of Roman interests in places far beyond the Mediterranean. Until Rome fell, men continued to peer beyond the great darkness at the west of Europe. In the second century A.D. the Greek geographer Pausanias wrote of islands west of the Atlantic, where there were red-skinned people, ?whose hair is like a horse’s mane.” This followed an earlier report of the Roman Consul Matellus Celer, when he was officiating in Gaul. The king of a neighbouring province brought before him several people having a bronze coloured skin and straight black hair. The Roman was told that these folk had said they had been blown across the Ocean in a large wooden boat. The Romans were, at least, aware of lands on the opposite margains of the Atlantic. Perhaps they also made the western passage for a Greco-Roman torso of Venus has been pulled up from the Gulf of Mexico near Vera Cruz. This is not a very useful find since it might have been transported there long after the classical Romans were gone. This is not the case with dozens of Roman oil lamos uncovered recently within pre-Incan tombs in Peru. A third 16

century terra-cota bust of Roman provenance has been recovered from a Mexican tomb which unfortunately dates from the twelfth century. A better find was a hoard of Roman jewellry discovered in six Mexican graves by Dr. Garcia Payon. They have been identified as dating to 150 B.C. They could have been transported by a non-Roman ship, but the associated materail has been carbon dated to about 100 B.C. At York, Maine there is a stone said to bear a Latin inscription, and nearby a coin dated at 237 A.D. was found, but this could be a hoax. During the last century a more impressive horde of several hundred Roman coins, was found on a Venezuelan beach. They dated to 350 A.D. and are now held by the Smithsonian Institute. In this decade a farmer in Missouri unearthed metal items, including a bronze drinking cup. Tests on the various metals indicated they were made using processes current when the Roman Empire was at its height. Claudius Ptolemy is almost as shadowy as Pytheas , but is thought to have been active about the year 150 A.D. His birthplace is uncertain but it might have been Greece. Like his predecessors this new cartographer interviewed travellers and consulted ancient texts to try to figure out what was where. The firstlatitudes and longitudes for his Geographica were recorded in 127 A.D. and the last in 151 A.D. With these in hand he set abound creating ten maps for Europe, four for Africa and twelve maps to illustrate Asia. The authorship of the 27 maps which were finally produced to accompany his long text have sometimes been credited to Ptolemy, sometimes to apprentices and sometimes to an energetic medieval editor. The last does not seem to be the case as internal evidence in the text indicatyes that the wriiting followed a comparisopn of maps already drawn. Copies were made and the earliest surviving version of the Geographica dates no later than the twelfth century. The fundamental data needed to produce an accurate map of the known world was lacking in 150 A.D. and for many years after that date. The effect on map production was the creation of sensational errors of scale and form. Following a earlier geographer named Marinus , Ptolmey set the prime meridian at the Fortunate Isles (the Canaries or perhaps the Maderas), assuming that they were the furtherest west of any lands. His knowledge of the islands in the North Atlantic was broader than that of Strabo, but he was ?ill-advised” with regards to Ireland, placing it further north than any part of Wales. Scotland. drawn from his place markers, came out strangely skewed to the northeast, twisted aboiut so that it trended almost from west to east. The Scandinavian peninsula was interpreted as two large islands, Scandia and Thule. The northern coast of Germany west of Denmark was shown as the margain of the Northeren Ocean, which was pictured as running from east to west. The northern coast of Asia was not shown. A work with almost cannonical influence the Geographica has been described as both a keystone and a millstone for cartography. There were many variations on the original Ptolmey map of northwestern Europe,but one of special interest featured the offshore islands of Britain as they were perceived in 300 A.D. The mainland is represented in the southeast as Gallii Belgice Par, the Country of the Belgians and Gauls, and as Magnii Germanit Pars, the Great County of the Germans. Britain is 17

distinguished as Insula Britanica, while the north, now called Scotland, is represented as Albion. Ireland is shown labelled Ibernia. This map identifies the locations of many of the Celtic tribes, and we draw special attention to the northern retreat of the Caledonii. On this map there is a surfeit of ?oceans,” a definite change from the Greek concept of a cirumfluent Oceanus. Here the Roman concept of Mare Nostrum,, ?Our Sea” as opposed to those bordering other nations has been extended to the Oceanus Fluvius, or ?Ocean-River,” or earlier days. Thus weO. Britannicvs,, now called the English Channel bordering southern Britain and O. Germanicvs, now the North Sea, due west of Germany. Magh mell, the Great Plain is seen subdivided into a southern O. Vergivivs, ?the Green Ocean;” O. Hyperborealis, ?the Northern Ocean;” and O. Dev Calidonivs, the ?Ocean of the Caledonian gods.” This last is very instructive considering the fate of the Tuatha daoine. The more usual form of the word for god isdeus, the plural being dei, dii or dis. Notice that the Romans said that the Gauls claimed descent from Dis-pater, literally the ?father gods.” He correponds with the Gaelic Oolaihair, and probably confers with the Germanic Teus, whose name is preserved in the day of the week known as Tues-day. This sword-sun-war-agricultural deity corresponds exactly with the Welsh Hu or Duw, and the Gaelic day-god called Aod, whose name traslates into English as ?Hugh.” All are related to the twins, Lugh-Nuada, and are doublebarrelled personalities, the Germanic form conferring with English words such as ?duo,” ?twi-,” ?bi-” and ?two.” O. Dev Calidonivs might have been meant to slight the Caledons as the word ?devil” derives from the earlier Anglo-Saxon deo-ful, originally, ?full of god-spirit,” and there may have been something of this connotation in Latin. The Gaelic name for a god is dia, the Brythonic doe and the Gaullish, dêvo. This correponds with the Latin divus, the ?deified” one, the deus (hence our word deuce). This is very close to the Sankrist deva and the Norse tivar, the ?gods.” At the height of Celtic marine power, the Romans went about their own business in their own seas, which included not only the Mediterranean but the Caspian Sea. It was cleared of Carthiginian pirates and the coasting trade there was brisk, profitable, pleasant and safe. The Romans got on with trade using Greek as a common language, and their coinage as the universal means of exchange. In spite of appearances the Roman Empire was on the skids, pressured by barbarians and constitutional troubles. With so much exchange of goods, ideas began to flow and the native Roman Stoicism found itseelf competing with Oriental cults. Overtaxation made Rome more vulnerable and in the midst of all these troubles a new and dangerous religion cropped up, its adherents so feared they were referred to as ?the third race.” It centred on a cruicified Nazarene named Jesus, often called the ?Anointed” (Christos in Greek). In spite of governmental moves to eradicate it, Christianity assimilated Hellenism, and became a nation within the Roman Empire. Its churches became numerous, independent, and powerful, its creed easy for people without hope to accept. Its code was rigid and conservative but demanded little, excepting faith, in a world boxed in by physical demands and mental strain. Christianity unfortunately swept up the best minds in Europe and bent them to its will, rendering scientific research comatose through the period we now refer to as the Middle- or Dark Ages 18

(300-500 A.D.) Between the years 410 and 422, the Roman legions began to withdraw from Britain (England), much to her detriment. The Scots moved in on the Picts, and they in turn swarmed south over Hadrian’s Wall. Then the Jutes, Angles and Saxons descended on the unready Britons and by the beginnings of the seventh century all present-day England was ruled by Anglo-Saxons rather than Celts. Toleration was never a strong point with these Germanic tribesmen, who installed Thor and Odin in place of Roman Christianity or the remains of classical and Celtic paganism. But missionaries did redescend on Britain, and it was converted by men with a literary tradition starting with their ?God-spells,” magically entombed in magic ?boxes” they called Bibles. From St, Ninian’s time (360-420 A.D.) the outlanders set up monasteries that became centres of learning for the British Isles, and these places were responsible for assimilating rather than overpowering Celtic paganism. The good deities of the past were canonized, while the the dark lords and ladies were banished to some generally recognized ”hell-hole” such as An Domhain or Nifhelkheim. Since the Christains were able to use Celtic mythology to overcome the old gods they were not averse to collecting tales from the remote past, and it is thus that we have some notion of an echtral the ?western voyages.” Echtral is a peculiarly Gaelic concept implying a voyage of the spirit as well as one in person. It seems to be based on the Old Irish preposition echtra, meaning ?without.” A similar Welsh word is eithr, something ?extra,” that which is beyong normal experience, thus echtra, the adverb, ?adventures,” and eachgdranach,, a ?foreigner.” Something of the meaning is also seen in the related Latin word extra and in their extraneous, the source of the English ?strange.” The Gaelic word iar or siar is related, the original form being perhaps the preposition meaning ?afterwards, afar” or ?further on.” In special use it becomes ?the west.” The great difficult in identiying directions in Gaelic text is realized when we note that the word for ?east” is ear. The collectors of tales of travel were eachdairhean, the historians, their embodied subject matter being called echdranach, or ?history.” Not all voyages to the west were great occupations, since there were many western islets within easy sailing distance of Gaeldom. To cover oceanic voyages the Gaels had a separate word im-rama, ?about sea-tangle (seaweed),” suggesting possible encounters with the infamous Sargasssos Sea. The imrama has to do with unwilling travellers, those pulled into the Atlantic by a sea-siren, or pushed there by banishment or some religious imperative. The longes , on the other hand, involved willing travellers, those who sought adventure or commercial advantage. The latter word is founded on long, a ship or vessel, the Old Norse lung, the Latin longa, a ?ship of war.” Joseph Jacobs, the one time president of the English Folklore Society said that his study of classical and Irish literature made it clear that the Gaels ?sallied out of Ireland to harry the lands of the East and Northeast” at a very early date. Like others, he concluded that they pushed as far north as Iceland and ?accumulated considerable knowledge concerning the surrounduing seas and a still more considerable stock of sailor’s yarns.” The earliest of these may have been?”The Tragedy of the Sons of Turenn.” as it is the only one to include the old god Lugh as 19

a prime character. Thesecuraidh, or champions, were forced to take up sea travel, and this is one of the characteristics of ?imrama:” men did not choose their course, but were directed to the sea by some external force which they were unable to counter or resist. Thus mortals were blow by storm-spirits to the gates of Tir nan Og , or were seduced into that land by the caprice of immortals who promised endless life, love,food and drink. Two very old myths centre on this theme: ?The Voyage of Bran,” and ?The Tale of Connla,” both present the hero with a voluptuous maiden who persuades them to follow her to ?the Pleasant Plain, the Land of the Living Heart.” Some of the adventures of Bran are seen in the somewhat similar ?Voyages of Maelduin,” which seem to be an eighth century compilation of everything offered up in the earlier centuries. ?The Voyages of Snedgus and mac Riagla,” and those entitled ?The Voyages of St. Brendan,” appear to be Christian reinterpretations of the Maelduin story. Brendan and his seafaring monks were as ?driven” as if they had set sail before unexpected winds. They were not interested in the ?easy” life, gold, slaves, or obtaining new territory for their ard righ, but sought ?the grace of God,” and possibly found it. For a very long time the curach, or curragh, was dismissed as a boat incapable of taking on the ocean, and the imrama were dismissed as romances loosely based on adventures of coast-hugging traders and fishermen. ?Leather boats” had been mentioned in the writings of Caesar, Pliny and Solinus, but they have survived as the coracles of British freshwater lakes and the salt-water craft of Dingle, Ireland. Unfortunately these models are somewhat degenerate, the former being capable of carrying only two occupants. The Curraghs of Ireland are known to range up to about 22’ of length, but again they hold only four seamen. There are pictures of these primitive craft on some of the stone pillars, but usually details are scanty to begin with or have rubbed away with the passage of time. Fortunately an early Celtic craft is still seen carved in more than usual detail on the stone pillar of a cross overlooking Bantry Bay in the southwest, and the printing elsewhere dates it to the eighth century A.D. This boat is shown with five oarsmen (possibly paired) and a steersman. The record of Brendan’s voyage tells us there were ships of larger size, his having a complement of 14 men. Other records suggest that the largest ships might have had complements of up to 40 ?heroes.” The major literary references to curraghs were published by G.J. Marcus in ?Factors in Early Celtic Navigation,” Etudes Celtiques, Volume 6, 1952. Aside from Navigatio Sanctii Brendani Abbatis, the other great source of information is Adamanan’s Life of Columba. The building of a curragh is really an extension of the craft of wickerwork, since the basic structure is cross-framing of scantlings (thought to have been ash, about 1x2” in size). The old Celtic hunters often built temporary dwellings by creating an oversize basket frame, which was then covered with water-proofed hides, and turned mouth-down to the earth. Turning it over and closing the door-opening created an almost useable boat. Gunwales had to be added (and these may have been constructed of 1x6” oak planks). Without these protective edges the boat would soon have become tattered above the water-line. When linen sails came into vogue, they were set upon a mainmast, or mainmasts, ranging to perhaps twenty feet in 20

height, It is guessed that the masts were probablyplaced within mast steps made of oak, rewsting directly on the keelson. In 1977 Tim Sevrein led a number of fellow countrymen in a reconstruction of a curragh and a transatlantic voyage from Ireland to Newfoundland. They built a 36-foot boat, tieing together ash strips with thongs that had been pre-stretched by hand to limit their elasticity. The hull members were then soaked with wool grease to preserve the wood and limit friction between the timbers. They found that forty-nine oxhide butts were required to cover the framework, the whole being stitched in handmade cord waxed with a mixture of beeswax, resin and grease, so as to fill the awl holes between pieces. In finishing their reproduction, the workers attached leather to the the oak keel-skid with copper rivets, this being ?a very highly developed technique in Christian Ireland.” It is said that Brendan’s men applied ?oxhides tanned with the bark of oak,” and carried spares aboard ship in case of puncture or other form of damage. For the modern-day craft, oxhides were prepared using this antique process, and after specimens were laboratory-tested it was noted that ?oak-bark leather proved very strong even when wet.” It was also revealled that it had an open fibre structure particularly suited to taking up waterproof grease. The dressing of the butts also followed the advice that the monks used ?fat for preparing hides,” to cover the boat,” and ?smeared all the joints of the hides on the outside with fats.” To remain as authentic as possible the ship ?Brendan,” was treated only with substances known in medieval times - tallow, beeswax, cod-liver oil, wool grease, in places single, elsewhere in combination. After many experiements the essential dresssingwas recognized as raw wool grease. The leather was first dipped in baths at 50° centigrade and the hides were then stacked, after which it was found that there was a 37% uptake of this waterproofing agent. At the end of the Atlantic voyage, the hides were re-examined and found essentially unchanged in chemistry and physical condition. The thongs used to tie together cross-members were alum treated, an approach known to men from Roman times or earlier. These were swathed with a tallow and fish-oil combination before being put to use. In all twenty three miles of flax thread were used to stitch the oxhides to one another and to the frame. After the crossing, Severin’s crew had this to say of the ?Brendans” performance at sea: ?The maximum distance achieved (under sail) in a 24-hour period was 115 miles. The minimum day’s run was, of course, nil in a flat calm, and on bad days ?Brendan” was actually driven back by adverse winds. The average days run was 40 miles and cruising speed of 2 to 3 knots...The maximum reading on the log scale was 12 knots in heavy weather and high seas... The most impressive ascpect of ?Brendan’s” performance was her sea-keeping ability even in severe weather. She successfully negotiated prolonged periods of heavy seas and strong winds,,,The satbility was enhanced by ballasting with 1600 poiunds of fresh drinking water, half stored beneath the floorboards. Without doubt the chief danger was a capsize at sea. Deliberate capsize during sea trials proved extraordinarily difficulty, even when the boat was unballasted. After being downed ?Brendan” could be turned right way up by a 5-man crew and it took 12 minutes bailing...to empty her...” 21

In the course of travel, the ?Brendan” got into an icefield off the coast of Labrador, and sustained a puncture two hundred miles from land. After long hours of removing water with a manual bilge pump, Severin found ?a sizeable dent in the leather hull.” Despite its tensile strength of two tons per square inch, the leather had burst below the waterline. Once the source of the leak was found, it was patched from the outside after three hours ?of bone-chilling work.” This enabled the admittedly undermanned boat to gain a landfall on Peckford Island, Newfoundland. Summarizing what he had learned, Severin noted that the voyages of days gone by had been ?little appreciated” because the descriptions of them seemed naïve to latter-day readers. Tales of sea-monsters and fantastic buildings, in or on the sea, seemed at least overblown, but more likely fabulous. ?The real fault lies not in the medieval author for his writing, but in the modern perception of the older experience. It is easy to dismiss such tales as worthless and childish when viewed from the commanding heights of twentieth-century knowledge. But ?Brendan” taught us to look at them otherwise. ?Brendan” helped us to understand by placing us in situations similar to the original. Time and again we found ourselves deeply impressed and sometimes awed, by what we encountered at sea... How much more impressive these same scenes much have been to medieval sailors, especially those eagar and expectant to see God’s marvels. Their vivid prose (actually) fails to capture the spendour of the occasion, and it is scarcely surprisng that they should have come back (to land) and reported so extravagantly and with such wonder.”

Three sorrows of the sennachie fill me with pity; The telling of them is always harsh on my ear. Prime among these is that of the fate of the Clann Tuireann Most woeful of all to hear. When the ?magic-ones,” still ruled Ireland they were hard pressed by the Fomorians until a young man-god came to their rescue. He was called Lugh of the Long Arm, because his spear acted almost as it it were an extension of his body. The spear of Lugh is cometimes referred to as a ?dart,” which makes it clear that it was what the Romans met on the battlefield as a crotalum, a bronze spear with a small pear-shaped bell filled with gravel at the nether end. This was rattled before battle to disturb the enemy. A short spear, the crotalum could be used as a stabbing instrument, or it could be thrown over short distances, and usually retrieved, since it was tied to the wrist by a leather thong. Hence it was, quite realistically, a part of the arm of 22

the champion, and the source of his magic since it was identified as an instrument of creation. Born of sea and land blood, Lugh of the Long Arm had been raised in the ?depths of the ocean,” and had come to land to assist his father’s folk, the Tuatha daoine. Lugh’s possessions were elemental: he wore the Milky Way as silver chain, and the rainbow was his multi-colured sling. His sword, loaned to him by Manann mac Ler was irresistable; his horse equally at home on the plains of land or sea. His father was the leech whose name was Cian Contje, and he supposedly had two uncles, Cu and Ceithinn. These men were traditional rivals of the brothers Brian, Iuchar and Iucharba mhic Tuireann. The ?sons of Turenn” have to be understood in terms of the loose translation, ?a spark of fire from an anvil.” Actually ?Thor’s-fire,” might be more accurate. Thor will be instantly recognized as a rival god of the Scandinavians and Tuetons. In those realms solemn oaths went up to ?Odin, Thor and Tyr, the later two having been displaced in popular religion by the ?father of the gods.” According to some mythologists Thor or Donar was the son of Jörd andOdin, but others claim he existed long before these latter-daydeities found their way into Europe. As a child Thor had an unmaneagable temper and was fostered off on Vingnir and Hlora, who brought him to some semblance of cultivation. In adulthood he was welcomed into the ruling-council of the Aesir and built the palace named Bilskirnir (Lightning). Thor was always honured as the primal god of pagan Norwayand as second in the triune elsewhere. He was called ?old Thor,” because mythologists say he was attached to an older dynasty of gods. He was never represented as an elderly man, but as one in his prime, muscular, with a bristling red head of hair and beard, from which sparks flew when he was angry. As we have noted elsewher the Gaelic god Lugh confers with Tyr, thus their sometime contentions ins pite of the fact that they were usually represented as companions. The northern races adorned Thor with a three-pointed crown, a glittering star affixed to each. Sometimes he was pictured as having a halo of fire, this being considered his essential element. As such he is related to the various gods of fire and may even be though of as an aspect of Loki or Lugh. His power was evidenced in his ability to project lightning (excepting sheet lightning which the province of Loki) but the actual source of his might was the hammer Miölnir (the Crusher) which he hurled at enemies. As his hammer was red-hot he gripped it in the gaunlet named Iarn-greiper. He could hurl this device over long distances, and with great strength under normal circumstances, but in a difficult situation could double his strength by concentrating his energies upon the magic nelt Megin-giörd. Thor was reputed to travel the sky as Aku-thor, the ?Charioteer,” and in many places thunder was was attributed to the creakings and groanings of his bronze chariot. Thor married twice: first to the giantess Iarnasaxa, the mistress of the Anglo-Saxons, and finally to Sif of the Golden Hair, a prototypical Scandinavian. Macbain says that Thor appears in Gaullish tales as Taranis, and that he is similar in character to the classic god Jove. In Gaelic myth Thor was identified as Tòrr and thunder as torrunn. 23 A torr was

understood to be a conic heap of earth or a broch; the word confers very closely with ?tower.” The people of Thor were the Torr-is , hence the clan and Scottish places such as Torri-don. The men of this clan were the guardians of fire upon towers, and the Torrys may have been the builders of the mysterious brochs found in costal locations throughout Britain. The clan name is also associated with piracy, and the ?watchtowers” may have had as much to do with sighting prey as with guiding merchant ships to safe havens. This was the nature of the Sons of Turenn, who opposed Lugh, his human father, and his two uncles. At the beginning of the Fomorioan conflict Lugh asked the three older men to muster forces from the various provinces of Ireland. They split up to do this and Cian was crossing the Plain of Muirhevna when he spotted the enemy approaching. Outnumbered, he shape-changed into a boar and concealled himself in a herd of wild pigs. He was too late in his magic for the three men had seen a rider on the plain, and wondered where he had gone. Soon they deduced that some enemy numbered himself among the swine and Brian, having magic at his own command, drew out a magic wand and changed his two brothers into hounds. They soon detected the human scent and chased Cian, until Brian managed to wounmd him with his spear. Cian now begged that he be allowed to return to human form before dying, and Brian agreed, noting that he would find it more honourable to kill a man than a dirty animal. When the brothers recognized who stood before them, the blood lust set in, but Cian smiled noting that they would find the eric , or retribution payment much higher for him than a dead boar. Nevertheless, Lugh’s father was struck down with stones rather than swords and spears, the boys thinking it likely that Lugh might deduce the identity of the murderers from the marks left by conventional weapons. In the end the Turenns dug a deep pit for the body and buried their victim standing upright, and covered it with a cairn of stones. After that they set out to engage in war with the Fomors. Lugh of the Shining Face won a great battle at that time, and the Fomrians retreated into the fog, slinking off into their northern retreats. At the moment of victory, Lugh noticed that his father was missing, and without taking rest, went looking for him. On the Plain of Muirhevna, Lugh heard the stones wailing as banshees, and went to cairn and the bloodied rocks. His men retrieved the body and then rebburied it for their leader, and Lugh vowed vengeance. Back at Tara, Lugh found the Sons of Turenn sitting amidst the nobles of the Tuatha daoine, for they had played a valorous role in defeating the Fomorians. It was Lugh, however, who was offered the champion’s portion, and when he asked the ard righ for permission to speak to the assembly, this was naturally granted. When he arose to say that his father had been murdered the Tureens acted as surprised as the rest. When Lugh demanded satisfaction from the killers, even they murmered assent.


Then Lugh told everyone who the murderers were and noted that he could not kill them while they sat taking the king’s hospitality, but he did say he wished a substantial eric. The Sons of Turenn standing at griom attention demanded what compensation their enemy sought, and he replied that they should bring to him ?three apples, a spear, a pair of horses and chariot, seven swine, a young dog ,and a cooking-spit.” After this they were to go to a hilltop and give three victory shouts. This fine seemed small recompense for a killing and Brian was suspicious that Lugh intended some trickery, and his senses were well placed, for now Lugh filled in some of the details of what was to be their echtral: The apples were those which hung in the Garden of Light. Each was the colour of burnished gold and the size of the head of a small child. When eaten they could cure any wound or illnesss. The pigskin was a possession of the king of a far land and it had similar healing properties when laid upon a wound. The spear that was wanted stood in another distant place, and like the ?Answerer,” it was an irrestitable weapon, so hot for blood its point was always kept in ice lest everything about it be reduced to a liquid. The horse and the chariot were revealled as being in the dominion of another king, and they had the ability to travel upon land and sea. The seven swine were those kept by the King of the Golden Pillars and they could be eaten day after day for they invariably regenerated themselves at night. The young dog had the power to frighten all men and beasts and it belonged to a King of the East. The cooking spit was the chief posssession of the sea-midens, residents of the deep Green Ocean. Finally, the hill where the shouts were to be rendered was the property of King Michan and his sons, who had been the boon companions of Cian Contje. They had sworn that no man would shout from this sacred place without facing death. The Sons of Tureen are seen to have faced considerable difficulties in completing a number of imrama, but they possessed courage, cleverness, and almost as much control of magic as Lugh. Golden apples are basic to many world myths. They were the chief crop of the ancient Gaelic island of Abhallon, or Avalon (the orchard), which was one of the places cited as a western paradise. Notice that silver apple branches were the passports carried by men who wished to enter these western realms. While apples are considered to have originated in the region between the Black and the Caspian Seas, they were a common commodity in medieval Europe, and there is no certainty that they all were introduced into North America in historic times. In the old mytholgy it was more than a simple matter of ?an apple a day..,” for it was rumoured that the gods managed apparent youth and longevity by eating apples from the Garden of Light. In Gaelic mythology frequent reference is made to ?the golden apples of the sun,” as representing the god of light. In Norse tales, the keeper of this orchard was Idun, the ?dusky woman,” the ?outdoors woman, ” a earth-mother like the Samh of the Gaelic mythology. It was said that she was not born of men or the gods, and was thus the only true immortal to walk the earth. As the gods depended upon the ?apple-woman” for their appearance and health, they 25

kept her close at hand, the remaining racesbeing eagar to possess the fruit. The scalds of Norway said that Idun was once promised to the giants by Loki when he was their captive. Returning to Agardr he artfully led herto distance fields, supposedly to look at a new species of the fruit, apparently growing in the wild. There she was abducted by a giant in the form of a storm-eagle. Before long the gods became aware of wrinkles and crow’s feet and seeking Idun finally deduced that her absence was somehow due to Loki’s duplicity. He was given instructions to immediately restore the lady on pain of death. With the matter put that way, he borrowed Freya’s falcon plumage, and iin shape-changed form flew to the castle of the frostgiant, where he managed a daring rescue. This story is not unlike that told of the three Sons of Turenn. To gain the golden apples they assumed the forms of hawks, ?and flew like arrows out of the sun, each grabbing an apple in his talons. Though the daughter and the king in the Land of Light altered themselves into bigger hawks and followed far out over the sea, they did not regain the apples and so the brothers accomplished their first task.” Details of the pursuit are given in the Norse story where it is said that Thiassi pursued Loki beyond the walls of Asgardr. Knowing this might happen, the gods had built huge bonfires close to the inner walls, and they gave them additional fuel once Idun and Loki were safe within. The storm-giant missed seeing this ruse and flew into flames and went crashing to his death by fire. His daughter, the goddess Skadi, demanded and got recompense for the death of her father. She first married Niord, and then cohabited with Oden, but finally took up with Uller and moved her residence to Skadilande, or ?Scotland.” The Sons of Tureen next turned to the problem of gaining the magic pigskin. Here again, the mucc, or wild boar, was a sun-symbol. Frey, the son of Niord was the Norse equivalent of Lugh, and his brith-gift from the dark elfs was Gullin-bristi, the ?Golden-Bristled One,” another personification of the sun. Lugh was sometimes said to travel as a wild boar, and it was sometimes rumoured that the sun-chariot was hitched to a boar. The radiant bristles of the aniumal may have been considered symbolic of rays of sunlight, or of spikes of golden grain which were raised by the force of sunlight. Whatever the case, the boar represented Lugh’s agricultural interests, and his tearing up of the ground using his sharp tusk is considered to have suggested the plough to the first farmers. In historic times the pig was so important to the first settlers of Bermuda, they featured it on their coinage. Settlers in eastern North America found it equally useful, for they simply turned the animals loose to fend for themselves through the summer and shot them for food when they had become fat and uncontrollable. In some of the stories the pigskin sought by the Tureens is identified as the ?Skin of Tuis,” who is the Germanic god more commonly identified as Tyr. As we have said this skin had the property of healing injuries when placed upon them. If dipped in ordinary water from a stream it was seen to become wine. Tyr was said to be the son of Odin by a sea-goddess. He appears to have no specific 26

dwelling place but ranked next to Odin and Thor , a fact remembered in the naem Tues-day. He was the principal, divinity of Ziusburg now called ?Augsburg,” so perhaps the Tureens visited the Germanic tribes as the second of their labours. King Tuis greatly respected the art of the ballader, and was pleased when the visitors offered him a praise-poem. Unfortunately the king did not feel this was sufficient justification for giving up the pig-skin, altyhough he did agree to give the entertainerrs all the gold coinage which this skin could contain. With the skin filled to the brim, the Sons of Tureen tuirned on their host and fought their way out of his court. The battle ended when Brian serously injured the king and escaped in the confusion that followed. In a forest-retreat the brothers made good us of the skin by laying it upon their various wounds. In the third year of travel the Tureens approached the ?Land of the Hot-Spear,” a possession of Pisear ard-righ. Again they appeared as poets and asked for the spear as a return for their praise-song. This king was less gracious than the last and fell into a rage, during which fighting broke out. This time Brian hurled the Apples of the Sun at the king and shattered his skull. The boys then fought their way to the ice-house where the spear was kept, tore it from the block and used it in their escape. Next, the brothers travelled to fetch the horses and chariot that are reminiscent of the Horses of Manann. In Gaelic mythology black horses were always equated with the western wind and storm clouds, while white horses were thought of in terms of gentler southern winds and fluffy fair-weather clouds. The Gaelic immortal named Ler was the Norse Hler and both he and his female companions travelled the waters as ?sea-horses,” or sea-serpents (which were always identified as having horse-like heads). The god of the sea was usually represented as a black stallion, befitting his role as the god of death at sea. Ler and his wife Ràn, the ?Roarer,” were frequently represented as having nine beautiful daughters, the mhorigu, who the Norse termed the ?billow-maidens.” The mermaids of English tradition, these creatures were described as wanton, moody and capricious, sullen and apathetic or lustful and vivacious by turns. These creatures with snowy arms and bosoms, and long slender limbs, golden-hair, and sea-blue eyes, were fascinating to men because of the songs they sang and the fact that they went about in revealling gowns of a transparent blue, white or greenb material. All of the female members of Ler’s family were consummate shape-changers and were personified both as white-caps on the rough sea and as white horses playing with their brothers who were the wind. To gain the horses of the deep the Sons of Tureen took work as mercenary warriors at the court of the Dobhar ard righ, who ?stabled” these valuable animals. For seven weeks they stood at arms without glimpsing the animals, but during this time they proved very useful, so that they came to the notice of the ard righ. In his company, they asked to be show these valuable ?animals,” and the flattered king ordered that the horses be driven about the racecourse of his island. The horses were demonstrated on land and water, and when they stopped to be admired, the brothers leaped into the chariot, slaughtered the king with the posoned spear of Pisear, dumped the regular driver, and drove off laughing at their trick.


By now the three brothers had a reputation that travelled before them and at their next stop ?The Island of the Golden Pillars,” where they were supposed to steal seven magic swine, the king Easal, on the advice of his counsellors, decided to surrender them without debate. The Islands of the Pillars hark back to the origins of the world of men. When things were newly formed, the gods used the skull case of the dead giant to create the dome of heaven. Some support was needed for this structure and the gods sent four burly little men to the four points of the compass to serve the function of the classical Hercules. It was alternately suggested that the heavens rested upon golden pillars at the nine ?corners” of the world. Interestingly, the individual underground hills of the Tuatha daoine were frequently said to rest upon similar pillars which could be raised on the eve of the quarter days. Similarly, it was held that An Domhain, itself, arose from the sea-bed on pillars, once in seven years. Within the classical domain, the nine pillars were upon the islands of the Hesperidaes. It has been noted that the Canary Islands were said to have each possessed a bronze pillar (although there are but seven islands) in historic times. Perhaps this is because the other two were on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar? In these places legend has it that standing stones werelocated, each marked Ne Plus Ultra, ?Nothing Lies Beyond.” The King of the Island of Pillars even went an extra mile with the Tureens, accompanying them to the Island of the Dog, where he promised to persuade this brothermonarch, the king of Ioruiadh to surrender the black dog that guarded his keep. He noted that his daughter was married to this king and would probably prove agreeable. This was not to be, the owner struck down his ?insolent” father-in-law, and fought the Turenns. Again they triumphed, made peace with this monarch of that far land and took the dog. This creature has to be Coinn Iothair, the ?weasel-dog of the high cornyard,” a creature otherwise known as Aog, the ?guest,” a seeker after the souls of the dead. He was the gateguard of Chromm the Crooked, the alter-ego of the sun-god Lugh. There is also little doubt that he correponds with the Norse dog-god named Garm, the constant companion of the deathgoddess Hel. ?Beside Hel-gate, stood the fierce, blood-stained dog, cowering at times in a dark hole known as the Gnipa cave. This monster’s rage could only be appeased by offering a Helcake, which never failed those (of the dead) who had given bread (in life) to the needy.” As Nifhelheim traditionally located near Baffin Island, in the Canadian arctic, it may be presumed that Coinn Iothair was borrowed from this realm. It will have been noticed that the objects that the Tureens sought were largerly former possessions of Lugh. Some of these magical objects had been lost to Fomorian enemies in the heat of battle, so the sun-god was naturally anxious for their return. In six years the three brothers had obtained five of the required objects, including the Horses of Manann, and the ?Answerer,” which were on loan from Manann mac Ler. Because of his ability at farsight, Lugh knew what had been accomplished and wishing to have the treasures so that he could keep the Fomorians in their places of exile, he threw a spell upon the Tureens, so that they forgot the remaining requirement and returned to Ireland. There Lugh took from them the apples, the spear, the pigskin, the horses and the swine, and smiled wryly as the warriors boasted of their 28

exploits. Having had his moment Lugh reminded them that the spit from Fianchuibhe was not in evidence. The unhappy men were therefore required to turn their ships westward one more time, the undersea kingdom of the ?white out-beings,” of mhorgu, those ?born of the sea.” This appears to be the first mention of the ?land of women” in Gaelic mythology. To get there Brian had to obtain and put on the colleen druith, or ?water helmet,” which the sea-maidens used to pass from the world of men to their own island beneath the sea. As Brian was not unattractive he was only a short while persuading the thrice fifty maidens who guarded the mythic ?cookingspit of the deep” that they should pass it into his hands. Unfortunately the three lads, now middle-aged men. were not met as hospitably by the clan of King Michan. When they ascended his hill, the king approached and demanded to know their business, and noting his pledge forbade them to raise their voices in this place. They did shout and a battle ensued in which Michan perished along with his three sons. But the Sons of Tureen suffered mortal wounds, which could only be reversed with the loan of the magic pigskin. The father of the Tureens petitioned Lugh to borrow it, but the sun-god, being a true Celt, insisted on this revenge, making the excuse that the three could not aspire to greater valour, and had no need for a longer life. The quest, and expiation, was now complete, but Lugh in his failure to forgive, revealled one of the faults which condemned all the living ?gods” to terms of life, death and reincarnation. Perhaps because of this incident, the mighty god’s reputation shrank, and after his death he was identified as Lugh-chrommain, ?Lugh of the crooked goat-pen.” The death of Lugh centered about the incident with Cermait of the Honeyed Mouth. This young buck was found in bed with Lugh’s wife and after he killed him, Cermait’s son took his vengeance. The name Cermait implies a ?Lingering friendly person,” and he seems to confer with Lugh’s brother Ogma.


Second, the bird-cursed Children of Ler; I curse the mouth that made young lives in vain. Conn, Fionnuala and Aedh (the chief bards) Theirs is the second deep pain. When the Celtic Gaels came to Ireland they left nothing to the Tuatha daoine except the hollow hills where space and time had little dominion. When Boabd Dearg, the ?Red Crow,” was elected their leader, his candidacy was opposed by Ler or Lir of Finaghy, who is cognate with the Welsh sea-god Llyr. His original kingdom was An Domahin, and may have remained so for the name of his kingdom reduces itself to fine-aghaidh, the ?tribe or kindred of the aged faces.” Further, it is stated that he was ?a lord from the north (the Beginning Gap?) Having lost as a candidate, or supporter of some opponent, Ler quietly retired from politics, leaving dominion of the seas in the hands of his son Manann mac Ler. For his part, Ler would give neither fealty nor tribute to the new chief of the Daoine sidh, and this attitude was also that of his son. Ler was an immortal, but he married Aobh, sometimes given as Aebh, the eldest daughter of Ailell of Aran, a foster-child of the despised Boabd Dearg. She had two pairs of twins by him, but died giving birth to the last set, On the death of this princess of the Tuathans, Boabd Dearg and his old rival were somewhat reconciled, when the former suggested that Ler take his second daughter Aoife in marriage. She was jealous of her sister’s children and on her way to the annual ?feast against aging,” which traditionally took place at the side-hill of her father, she instructed her male travelling companions to slay the step-children. When they refused, this mistress of the dark 30

arts changed the four into swans. The children of Ler were thus forced to spend three hundred years among tyhe flocks at Loch Darravagh (Westmeath); a further three hundred years on the Atlantic islands of Erris and Inishglory; and according to the terms of the spell three hundred additional years amidst the rocks of Inish Gluaire. After this time the curse might be lifted in the unlikely event that a chieftain from the north agreed to marry a princess from the south of Ireland. Aoife on her way to the side-hill, where she told her father that the children had been kept at home. Suspicious of this answer, Boabd Dearg sent a messenger to Ler asking if this was true. When it became apparent that Aoife was involved in deep evils, the chief wizard of the Daoine sidh transformed her into an evil demon of the upper air, and named her the ?East Wind.” Sadly, the best magicians of both houses were unable to reverse the spells set by Aoife, and the children remained shape-changed for nearly a thousand years. At the end of their ?imprisonment” they did revert to human form but as wizened ancients who quickly died. So ends the Irish Matter and little more would be known of this clan except for the old Welsh tales known as ?The Four Branches of the Mabinogi,” in which we find a personage known as Llyr, whose son was Manawyddan. From the stories told about them, they are recognizable as the Gaelic Ler and his son Manann. In Wales the god of the ocean had his chief centre at Llyr-cester, now called Leicester. As we have said there were two important divine houses; the House of Dön, whose descendants were the ?Children of Light,” and the House of Ler, who were not of the Danann line of deities, but Fomorians. As was the case with many Gaelic families, these two families were allied by marriage, and according to Welsh geneaology Llyr was married three times, his first wife being Penardun, one of the daughters of Dön, who the Irish named Danu. Their only child was Manawyddan, who had five siblings through the other marriages of his father. The second of these was to Iweriadd, who seems to correpond with the Gaelic Aobh . The third marriage was to Euroswydd who may be the evil stepmother named Aoife. Welsh myth also designates Iweriadd as the place which the Britons called Hades.. The Welsh had a tendancy to confuse it with Ireland, since that island lay between them and the far west. The offspring of Iweriadd’s marriage with Llyr was two children: Bran or Vran and his sister Branwyn. Manwyddan married his half-sister Rhiannon, born of a union between Llyr and Euroswydd . There were two additional brothers of this marriage: Nissyen an Evnissyen. Bran h as been identified as ?a god-giant from Hades,” while Branwynn was referred to as the ?lovegoddess” of Wales. Manwyddan , or Manann had may land holdings on both sides of the ocean. In the west it was said that he ruled from Tir Tairnigri, the ?Land of the Prophecy,” his dunn being Emain Albach, the ?House of Stone.” In the east he possessed Castle Manan” in northern Ireland as well as the Isle of Man which lay in the Irish Sea. His brother Bendigeid Bran was king of all the larger island of the Britain excepting the extreme north. His seat was at London, but he also 31

held court at Harlech in Wales. His sister Branwyn was usually resident there, and he was frequently visited by his three half brothers. Here it may be noted that bran indicates the European hooded crow in Welsh, but the same word in Gaelic means ?a raven.” Ultimately, the root word is gra, a ?cry,” and from this the English word ?crane,” and thus there is a tenuous connection with the previous tale. The Children of Ler were all present at Harlich one spring morning when ?thirteen ships coming from the south of Iweriadd made toward the land with a swift motion.” When the ships were harboured, the people of the court observed that the craft were the best furnished they had seen. ?Beautiful flags of satin were upon them, and they put out boats and came toward the shore.” Before long it became apparent that the chieftain of the fleet was Matholch (pronounced Matholaw), the ?Bear-god,” who had come to ?The Island of the Mighty” hoping to form an alliance through marriage. In the end, a dowry was set and the hosts of both people proceeded to Aberfraw to consummate a marriage between Matholch and Branwyn. Because the Children of Llyr were giants the festivities were held in the open under tents ?since no house was large enough to contain Bran. Unfortunately Branwyn’s hald-brother Evnissyen felt left out in the negotiation for marriage and to show his displeasure went to the stables where Matholch horses were kept and cut away their lips and their ears. Hearing of this Matholch approached Evnissyen asking why he had disfigured the animals. Getting no satisfactory answer, he loaded his new bride on his flagship and withdrew into the Western Sea. Bran , knowing nothing of this, sent messengers to enquire why his quest was summarily leaving his company, but could only get word that the departing king felt unjustly insulted. A few questions amongst his retainers revealled what had taken place. Hearing this Bran called Manawyydan to his side and suggested that he sail after the westerners carrying a huge staff of silver, and a plate of gold as eric , while promising to replace every damaged animal. ?And show unto him the man who did this thing,” said Bran, ?and because it is my brother say hat it would be hard to put him to death, and perhaps there can be p[eace in some way to his liking.” When the embassy approached Matholch he listened to what they had to say and returned to the Welsh court. Bran was very pleased with this unexpected outcome and to ?enhance the atonement,” gave the stranger ?heaven’s reward... a cauldron the propoerty of which is, that if one of they men be slain today, and be cast in tomorrow he will be as well as ever he was at best, except that he will never regain his speech.” That night the highest men of the two courts held long discussions and the next morning, the prizes were all removed to Iweriadd . In the far land Branwyn had great renown, honour and friendship, and was mother to Gwern. In the second year, the kinfolk persuaded Matholch that he had not received reasonable 32

compensation for the loss of his horses, and he submitted to having his bride reduced to the status of a scullery-maid. Further he forbade ?ferry-boats, ships and coracles” from any commerce with Wales, and imprisoned all Welshmen who came to his shores. This went on for three years without the trouble being known at the court in Harlech. In Wales Branwyn found a starling storm-tossed into the west, and bound a letter to the bird’s wing before releasing it back to Wales. When Bran read of his sister’s grief, he immediately summoned his warriors led by ?seven-score and four chieftains of the land.” They all resolved to act against the western island, leaving Bran’s son Cardoc as king while they warred. ?In those days it was not as far across the sea as it is now, and generally much shoaler water.” The sea-host set out to cross it and from the opposite shore the movement was such that men fancied they saw a mountain (Bran the giant) and many trees (the masts of ships) moving on the deep. The warriors of the far place had to assemble in disagreeable haste, and seeing themselves unprepared, approached Branwyn asking what settlement she felt might be acceptable to her brother. She said, quite bluntly: ?Give the kingdom to our son Gwern and I will make the necessary peace with my brother.” In council it was agreed that this offering should be made lest the countryt be destroyed. Soon after, the two sides assembled and Gwern was brought to meet the councillors on both sides. At this, Evnissyen uexpectedly took the boy in his arms, and before he could be stopped threw him into a blazing hearth fire. Branwyn attempted to save him but Bran prevented her and the armies separated to regain weapons.

?And then they fought. But the people of Iweriadd kindled the fire under their cauldron of regeneration, and cast the dead into it uuntil it was full; and the next day they all came forth fighting men, nearly as good as before, except that none could speak. Evnissyen spying this, with the warriors of the Island of the Mighty nowhere resusicated said in his heart, ?Alas! woe is me, that I am the cause of this great loss of men. Evil betide me if I find no deliverance from this.” And so, he cast himself among a pile of corpses awaiting rebirth; and two unshod strangers came tro him, and taking him to be one of them, cast him into the cauldron. And he arose, and streetched out his limbs, so that by pure force he burst that vessel into four parts, and bursty his own heart in the work.” ?In consequence of this the men of the Island of the Mighty had what victory they could have undere such losses; but they were not victorious, for only seven of them stood and escaped. As for Bran he was injured in the foot with a poisonmed dart. The others who escaped death were Pryderi, Manawyddan, Taliesin and four common warriors. An Bran said to them, ?Strike off my head before the poison reaches it and bear it away to the White Mount in London-town. There bury it with the face towards Gaul. So long as it resides in the land, no enemy shall ever trod on the Land of the Mighty.” So they did as told and left the west and Branwyn went with them. But on the coast she uttered a groan that broke her heart, and they buried her at Alaw in a four-sided grave. Back in Wales the seven survivors found Cardoc deposed and the island of Greater Britain under the kingship of Caswallen, another of the sons of Bran. Completely

discouraged at the turns of fate, the seven trudged on to bury the head at London. Here the head remained ?until Arthur dug it up, for hr would not have the land defended by magic but by force of his own right arm.” Although the isalnd of the west is often identified as Ireland it is clearly the Gaelic An Domhain, which the Welsh called Annwyn. Matholch in this tale is, perhaps, a stand-in for the veiled creator-god who they called Mathonwy, the ?High-bear.” He was one of the twin gods of the House of Don, the other being Monogan, the”Mountain-born.” Monogan was the father to Beli , and Mathwony the sire of Don. These cousins married to create the gods of the Welsh, who the Irish knew as the pantheon that included Lugh (he was Llew or Llaw in the Welsh tales). The destruction ofIweriadd included a deluge, and as the Welsh survivors sailed away, what remained of that ancient land was seen smouldering beneath the ash of renewed volcanoes. Earthquakes extended far out to sea, and it was noted that the Irish Sea had deepened so that Bran could not have waded to the far eastern shore. Fortunately, he was now reduced to a more compact talking head, and was easily transported by ship. Elsewhere we have seen the Celtic Cauldron referred to as the Dagda’s Kettle, a valuable trophy taken at the despoilment of An Domhain. The Welsh had difficulty explaining how the cauldron happened to be in Wales and a sub-plot says that Matholch had prior knowledge of the Cauldron, which originally cameout of his western land, from a mound (the Hill of Hu?) or perhaps from the watery Lake of the Cauldron. Here Matholch once met a tall ill-looking fellow with the kettle strapped on his back emerging from the deep. He was accompanied by an equally firece looking giantess, and the pair asked to take service at the king’s Court. This they did, but at six week intervales, the wife gave birth to fully-armoured warrior, ?children who were a curse on the countryside.” This is reminiscent of the god Loki who cohabited with the giantess Angurboda, producing the fierce goddess Hel, the world-worm and the dangerous Fenris wolf. The Norse gods banished these creatures to the western ocean, but Matholch enticed these ?beauties” into a house of iron and built a fire under the floor. The giant and giantess waited patiently until the walls became white hot and they walked through them as through a veil, but the children were all roasted alive. The giant and his wife thus took up the kettle and sought refuge in Wales, and in thanks for the kindness of their new host gifted Bran with the Cauldron of the Deep. In a strange and mystic poem by Welsh poet Taliesin, the Cauldron is represented as one of the spoils of Hades, also called Annwyn, ?brought thence by Arthur and lodged at Caer Perdryvan , four times revolving, within the four-square Castle of Pwyll; the fire to heat it warmed by the breath of nine virgins, its edge rimmed with pearls, and it would not cook the food for a coward or a man forsworn.” There is obviously a parallel with Bran’s venture, for the poem concludes: Before the doors of Uffern (Hades)the lamp burned, When we went there with Arthur - a splendid labour 34

Except seven, none returned from Caer Vedwyd (the Land of Youth). In other Celtic tales, the cauldron is represented as a cornucopia, as a well, or a fountain, each a symbol of abundance. This is also the nature of the Holy Grail as it is represented in medieval romances. This cup, which Christ used at the Last Supper is said to have had curative powers; the sick or injured who looked upon it and went away would survive for at least a week. The guardians of the cup who looked on it throughout their lives did not age; ?though they lived two hundred years not a hair on their head turned grey.” The Grail knights, having no source of food or water, apprently lived by it, shape-changing it into all manner of food and drink. Each man, it was said, had what he required à son gré, according ?to his liking.” From the word gré came the word Gral in French versions of the tales, and from this we have ?Grail.” ?It was the satisfaction of all desires,” said one poet of the elder days. In older tales the Grail is not represented as a chalice but as a stone relic, and in the Welsh poem ?Peredur,” there is note of a similar ?Stone of Abundance,” guarded by the black serpent, slain by that hero. More remotely the it was said that the fire of the sun poured forth each morning from the cauldron of the ocean, and thus the cauldron was sometimes spoken of as the ?cauldron of the sun.” The tales we have recounted were from the days when ?gods” were still at large, but the third sad tale of the bard was reckoned from about the first century A.D. This was the sorrow of Usna, protectors of people. Carried to ruin by subtle and fearful strokes Naoise, Ardan and Ainle On them, my heart is broke. This was essentially the tale of the misfortunes that followed a Pictish princess named Deirdre nicCruitnigh, after she fled the Ulster king Conchobar and mated with Naosi, a member of Clann Uisna, who were named after the day-god Aod also called Uis or Huis.. These men were followed all over Pictdom by the forces of the Ulster king until they escaped to a far kingdom in the western ocean. Conchobar eventually extended these men and their followers a full and complete pardon, but when they returned to Emain Macha, he arranged their deaths and took back his bride. Unfortunately, Deridre had no smiles or small talk for him and after a year, he sought to punish her by making her the slave of one of his lieutenants. On her way to this new sorrow, the lady leaped from the chariot in which she was being driven, and killed herself upon a roadside rock. As the hero Ferdiad had given his word that the Uisna could come back to Ireland without retaliation, he joined the south when it decided to war with Conchobar and the kingdom of Ulster. As the House of Hugh had consisted of Firbolgs, these men, who came to northern Ireland under Naoise, also slipped across the border to oppose the north when it fought against the notorious Queen Mebd. 35

We have already mentioned Osygia or Ogygia, the Greecian flood-survivor. Homer said that the island named after him was located upon the ?Boundless Sea,” and that the place was ruled in the latter days by Calypso, the sea-nymph who tried to detain both Odysseus and his son Telemachus. Plutarch (d. 120 A.D.) reported this island as a real place within the Atlantic, located five days sail due west of Britain. The Gaelic form for this very ancient place was Tir nan Og, the ?Land of Youth,” named for Aonghas Óg , Angus Young; also entitled mhac Óg, the younger son (of Dagda). His ?brothers” were often stated to be Ogma, the god of eloquence and Midir , the god of the underworld. He has a extremely close correpondence with the sun-god, Lugh, who is sometimes given as his father or brother. Ogma may very well be a form of Aonghas Óg, for he is also represented in Gaelic as Ogma grian-aineach, ?indeed, an out-being with a sunny countenance.” Further og by itself confers with the more modernuibe, a mass or lup, a ?ball” of matter, and hence the ?sun.” He is identified with the Gaullish god Ogmmios who the Roman writer Lucian liked to identify with the classical Hercules. This same god was known to the people ofBitannius Major (England) as Ogmia, and fragments of pottery bearing his picture and name have been recovered from archaeological digs at Richborough, and these show a figure with long curly hair, with sun rays radiating from his head. He also holds a whip identified in Latin as that of Sol Invictus, the ?Unconquerable Sun.” Aside from being a warrior, Ogma was known for role in conducting souls to the Otherworld. He is usually listed as the god of eloquence and literature, in which case he is referred to as Ogma cermait, the ?honeymouthed.” His powers of persuasion were such that it was sometimes said that he chained listeners to him with a golden fetters running from his tongue. He is also credited with the invention of the Ogham, which was at once a cryptic druidic language and a means of magically embedding sounds on paper, wood or stone. The children of Ogma are variously given: It was sometimes said that he married Étain , a daughter of the god of medicine Diancécht. If so, there offspring are givben as Tuireann and Cairbre . But mac Cécht, mac Cumhail and mac Gréine are also listed as his offspring. Ogma passed through the second Battle of Magh Tuireadh and in it slew the giant named Indech, the Fomorian son of the prime goddess Domnu. After the battle he claimed the sword called Orna which had been held by the Fomorian king named Tethra. It had the capacity top 36

speak recounting all the killings it has performed. With the passing of the elder gods of the earth Ogma is supposed to have retuired into side Airceltrai. The brother named Midir is perhaps the antithesis of Aonghas or Lugh. Often referred to as ?Midir the Proud,” he was the son of the Dagda who ?went to earth beneath Slieve Callery west of Ardagh, County Longford. His first wife was Fuamnach and his second Étain who is sometimes seen attached to Ogma. His is said to have been chosen as a foster father to Aonghas, which may explain why this god is not shown taking an active role against him in the troubles that followed. Midir confers in many ways with the Welsh Myrddin, the Anglo-Norman Merlin who the Romans called Merlinus. This god-hero is, in turn, reflected in the earlier Welsh underworld deity named Gwyn, ?who was a great hunter, the one who conducts the souls of the dead to Annwyn.” His antagonist was the magician called Gwydion, ?a friend of mankind and giver of the arts of civilization; he wars against the underword deities.” Linguistically Midir boils down to ?a cave threshold,” or ?an eye in the earth,” and it may be significant that the country called England was once referred to as Myrddin’s clae, which is to say Merlin’s enclosure. Additionally, one of the wonders of the ancient world was Merlin’s cave, located somewhere in central Britain, and referred to as ?The Cave of the Winds,” from the perpetual breeze that blew up from the depths of the earth. Some said that this was an entry point to other worlds and guessed that the wind was one which travelled ?between the worlds.” It was also agreed that the World Flood commenced with waters which gushed up through this opening and that the cave’s location was lost beneath the silts that covered it when the waters subsided. Looking carefully at this myth leads to the conclusion that this place was one of the power-points of the elder world, one of the mysterious ?navels” so often referred to in early literature. Remember that the Oolathair was either dismembered or relieved of his belly-button, and this was sometimes given as the cause of the Great Flood! Remember also that Misgarth, the great Norse ?middle garden” was constructed of reorganized bits of the dead proto-giant. Midir may confer with Norse word, and represent the earth in a male configuration. In this case, the concept of rushing waters may be seen as part of a vaguely defined fertilization process. The name Fuamnach identifies Midir’s first wife with underground ?noise,” and perhaps this is why he tired of her company and took Étain, the ?kernal” of all things, a lady who surely confers with Samh, the goddess of summer. It is said that the expression ?as fair as Étain” still identifies any Gaelic beauty whose charms are without question. Fuamnach the Cold One was very jealous of this rival and used the magic she possessed to turn Étain successively into a pool of water, a worm and a fly. While Étain was in this last form the witch-woman raised a storm that lifted the fly out of the underground and buffetted her for seven years in the skies of Ireland. In all this time Midir and Aonghas sought the seemingly lost lady, but nothing could be deduced from her disappearance until the long period of storm ceased and the fly settled within the Brugh na Boann. Being no nnovice at magic, Aonghas immediately recognized the enchanted Étain but had no idea how he might raise the spell. While he was working on this question Fuamnach 37

tracked down Midir’s love and raised more winds which blew her away. This time her fly body fell into the drinking glass of a chieftain’s wife, and thus she was impregnated with this goddess of the Daoine sidh. When Étain was reborn she had no memory of past events.. This was the time of the high king named Eochaid who being wifeless discovered the beauty known as Étain, the seeming daughter of the Milesian lord named Etar. The king wooed her and brought her back to Tara as his wife. There the high queen became troubled with dreams of one who claimed to be her husband in a past liife, and before long the underworld king appeared before her to invite her to rejoin him in his side:

?...that marvellous land, full of music, where none says,”mine” or ?thine,” where white always are the teeth, and black the brows of men and women. There eyes always flash with manny-coloured lights and the hue of foxglove is on every cheek. Pleasant it is true is the plain of Ireland, but these are deserts compared with the Great Plain which lies beyond. It is a wonder of this place that youth never surreenders to age, and that there men are all fair and without blemish, and women conceive freely without taint of sin...O lady, come with me to this far land and the purest gold will rest on thy head, thy meat will be the swine’s flesh all unsalted (the pigs of Manann); new milk and mead shalt thou drink, and live forever.”
In spite of this persuasive argument Étain was not ready tro accept a pig in a poke, ?a stranger without name and lineage.”To remedy this, Midir revealled his background, and spoke of his wife’s 1,012 year incarnation following her birth in the Land of Youth. Ultimately Étain accepted her fate, but only on condition that the Eochaid agree to some form of annulment. Having to be content with this, Midir approached the king on the Hill of Tara knwing that his weakness was gambling. After playing a number of games of fidchell in which Midir was the consistent loser, the king was led to propose a final game the stakes to be at the pleasure of the winner. Thus Étain was demanded after Midir revealled his true prowess at the game, and Eochaid was bound to honour his word. An hour was set when the queen would be ?reclaimed,” but Eichaid set a trap for his rival, surrounding his castle with a host of armed warriors. As it happened this was a useless preparation. As the king sat feasting, Midir suddenly mateialized at his table next to Étain. Holding out his right hand he caught the lady about the waist, and the two rose away from the assembly straight up and out through a roof window in the palace. Angry and bewildered the king and his men followed to the out-of-doors, where they observed two white swans circling and moving toward the side of Slievenamon. Not an ready loser, Eochaid summoned this chief druid, who tried to regain the queen through magic. Not much of use was accomplished through this except that the ogham written upon three wands of yew revealled where Midir and Étain were located. This allowed the king to assemble his forces and mount a campaign against the Otherworld. In this he had the support of some of the Daoine sidh: When Boabd Dearg had been elected high king of that tribe, Midir had supported the opposition led by Ler and Manannn mac Ler, and those of the old ?gods” who 38

were on the opposite side now supported king Eochaid. This combined force spent nine years digging up one souterrain after another, but while the diggers slept, the people of the side repaired the damage. At that, the the men finally came upon the inner stronghold, the ?gate” to the Otherworld. Seeing that this was indefensible, Midir offered to compensate Eochaid for his loss by sending him fifty beautiful handmaidens. When the high king refused, he sent Étain to the surface-world, but sent her with the maidens, each shape-changed in her image. It is said that the queen gave some intimate sign which allowed him to recognize her and thus she was returned to the world of men, and lived with Eochaid for ten years before his death. In that time she bore him a dauighter who was also named Étain. This daughter, distinguished from her mother as Étain oig , the ?younger,”married Cormac, the king of Ulster and from their line came Ireland’s most famous high king, the man named Conaire mor. This was the last major war between men and the ?gods.” Those of the Daoine sidh who allied themselves with men were absorbed into the large gene pool. The sigh were not decisively defeated, but they withdrew further into their underground retreats, and followed the sun westward into the sea, becoming at last a people unknown outside folklore. Eochaid wass not quite home fee for he imposed on the tribes of Tethbai ( a district comprising parts of Westmeath and Longford) by demanding statuatory labour to build a road across the the Bog of Lamrach. The foundations for the road were laid with the trunks of trees, but the people resented the task and on the eve of Samhuin set thir ritual fires about Eochaid’s palace while he was inside. As a result, the causeway was never completed. It is generally supposed that mhac Óg mor was the son of Dagda and Boann. His palace ?under the hill, ” inherited from his mother, was Brugh na Boann , the ?souterrain, or tumulus, of Boyne.” He was a young man of beautiful appearance, and so personable that four birds, representing his gentle nature were always in flight about his head. A romantic, often identified as the god of love, Aonghas was frequently smitten by a need for female companionship, but once fell hopelessly in love with a spirit-image which he saw in a dream. When he moped too long about the house his mother enquired about his ?sickness,” and helped him organize a search for the girl. She was not found in all of Ireland, and his case seemed hopeless until he went to Boabd Dearg, ard-righ of the Daoine sidh and a dweller in the underground of Munster. Boabd took up the search where others left off, and after a year came back to Aonghas to report that he had located the visionary maiden living near the Loch Beul Dracon, the ?Lake of the Dragon’s Mouth.” Taken to that shore he and Boabd observed fifty women marching along the lake shore in couples, the pairs linked by chains of gold. Their leader, a woman taller by a head than the rest, walked alone, and she was identified by Aonghas as the woman of his dreams. Boabh Dearg knew her as Caer Ibormeith, the daughter of Ethal Anubhail out of the sidhe ofUisman in Connaught province. It is interesting that this lady lived at the ?Dragon’s Mouth,” for her name relates to the word cair, a ?blaze,” or ?a stream of sparks.” Notice that sea-goddesses were often termed 39

?flames of the sea” due to the phosphoresence seen in the depths. From this connection the Gaelic cair may also be interpreted as ?sea-foam.” Having seen his true love at a distance, Aonghas immediately enlisted the aid of Queen Mebd of Connaught to seek out her father, a man named Anubhail, so that a marriage could be arranged. There was a problem here in the fact that the parent was unwilling, and a resident of Meath rather than Connaught. As a result his keep was besiged by King Ailell and the Dagda, but after that Anubhail said he could not comply since no one acted on behalf of his daughter, who was the product of his union with a Fomorian giantess. As a result she was a shape-changer who lived year-by-year, alternately as maiden and swan. ?On the first of November next, after Samhain,” he father declared, ?you will find her living with one hundred and fifty other swans within the Dragon’s Mouth.
Aonghas was not disuaded by this peculiarity of physiology and at that time visited the lake where he took the form of a swan,, and plunged into the waters to join his love on its surface. Afterwards they took flight to his palace on the Boyne, uttering such soulful cries that all who heard fell into a restful sleep which lasted for three days and nights. After their union, the love god had a tendancy to be ?distracted” by other ladies, but at the samhuinn(November 1) invariably remembered her, and sought her with renewed interest, usually locating her at the time of the festival of im-bolc (February 2). They were sexually reuinted at beulteinne (May 1), their ardour somewhat cooled by the lughnnasad (August 2). It was this annual pairing which was emulated when the high-kings of Ireland ritually coupled with virgins from the Brugh na Boann on the eve of the first day of May. Caer is therefore Samh or ?Summer,” in her desirable form and the Cailleach, or death-goddess, sometimes called the ?Winter Hag,” in her off-season configuration. The destructive aspects of winter are therefore seen as the withdrawl of the love between Aonghas and Caer. At the height of her power the Caelleach Bheur became so persuasive her forces whitened the sun, thus winter was regarded as the feminine, or blighting season. At the height of his power, Aonghas was able to arouse the creative urge in this earth goddess. Thus the male season was equated with the dominance of the male sun over the elements of the earth. In his day Aonghas was regarded as the patron of love-lorn youths of either sex. He was the god of what might be termed free-love, the domesticated version being the interest of his sister Bridd , or ?Bride.” Aonghas Óg may very well confer with the mythic Aonghas bolg, the Bolg, or ?Super Cow,” being his mother Boann. If so, he can be considered the male ancestor of the Firbbolg as well as the progenitor of those who called themselves the Dési. In the latter configuration he is called Angus of the Terrible Spear. This nickname sprung from the rape of his niece by a son of the High King Cormac. Looking for rude justice, the reincarnate god-hero went to the court and killed princeCellach. In the process he inadvertently pulled back his spear and drove the butt into Cormac’s eye. As the king was nopw ?blemished” he was forced to relinquish the kingship. The original Aonghas allied himself with Ogma and the Dagda in the pillage of An Domhain and the execution of the proto-giant known as Oolathair. After the Tuatha daoine 40

were themselves routed by the people of Mil, the Dagda had the responsibilty for alloting the sidhe, or ?side-hills,” to those of his folk who wanted to remain within Ireland. Aonghas was not given a hollow-hill as his father thought that he should inherit it on the death of Boann. Aonghas, however, extracted a promise that he would be allowed to spend”the last long day and night of all time,” at the Brugh. The Dagda was never a great intellect and failed to realized that he had promised his son occupancy throughout eternity. Since ?the twelfth of never,” never arrived Aonghas became the defacto owner of this place which is now equated with Newgrange. Newgrange is not a fabulous place but a real passage grave, consisting of two side chambers and an end chamber, in the form of a cross, all buried within a sweeping mound of stones. Sean O’Riordain says that ?the excellence of the work and the height (20 feet) makes the Newgrange roof an impressive feature of this great monument.” This place was originally the site of the fortress of Nechtan, an early water-god often identified as the legitimate husband of Boann. Sidhe Nectain, or Nechtan’s Hill (the Hill of Carberry, County Kildare) . This place reputtedly held the Well of Segais, the source of all the world’s knowledge. This source of water, sometimes referred to as Conla’s Well, was overhung by the nine hazel trees which were laden, in season, with the nuts of inspiration. A salmon named Finntann (the deluge survivor?) lived in the well and by eating these nuts became the wisest animal of all time. Only four men were priveleged to go to this well at the source of the River Boyne, Nechtan and his four cupbearers. Like Bluebeard, Nechtan warned his wife to stay clear of the place,but she disobeyed the taboo. The waters of the well rose against her and drowned her, but remained to create the River Boyne. The salmon settled in a pool on the river where Finegas, thge druid found asnd caught it. Reasoning that he could become all-wise by eating it he gave it to his apprentice Fionn mac Cumhail to cook. Fionn burnt his thumb in handling the fish and sucked his thumb, thus obtaining the wealth of knowledge that would otherwise have entered the body of his master. Aonghas had no better luck than his mother and may not have outlived the Dagda. He is certainly not mentioned as a participant in the action which Dagda and certain men mounted against his brother Midir, the ruler of the Underworld at Bri Leityh in County Longford. Like all the gods, Aonghas retired at last to his own western kingdom, Tir nan Og. As we will shortly observe the land of longevity was never a fable, and tales of fountains of youth in North America were almost endemic to that continent. In passing, we must mention the singular myth relating to the origin of the river Shannon, which was named for the Gaelic goddess Sionan. She was the daughter of Ler’s son Lodan , ?who went to Conla’s well, which is under the sea, i.e. in Tir nan Og.” ?This was the well,” say a bardic narrative,”at which grew nuts of poetry and inspiration. Their flower and fruit came upon one another in a single hour, and falling upon the water they coloured it royal purple.” When Sionan came to the well she ommitted certain rites of approach, and the angry waters welled up and overwhelmed and drowned her, washing her up on the shore of the great river created by the flood. 41

In this same tragic vein, the tale of Ethné, a daughter of Aonghas., born at Brugh na Boann. Her playmate was a daughter of Manann mac Ler fosterred out on the love-god. Ethné grew into a beautiful and gentle although slight maiden, for it was discovered that she did not eat the meat of the magic swine of regeneration, at the feast of Manann. The sea god himself was called in to solve this unusual behaviour and found that one of the chieftains allied with Aonghas had raped the girl causing her ?guardian demon” or bas-finne to leave her body. After that she began to waste, but Manann and Aonghas made a momentous world-voyage in ?Wavesweeper,” and brought back from some far part ?two cows whose milk never needed freshening, and on this the girl was able to live. On this magic drink, Ethné survived until the age of the Milesian kings, which means she was roughly 1500 - 2000 years old when she and her handmaiden went to the river Boyne for the usual ritual of washing. Here, she misplaced her Cloak of Invisibilty, that which hid her from prying human eyes. Bereft of it she could no longer find her way back to the Mound of Angus, and wandered into the walled garden of St. Patrick. Here she became a Christian but like many of the converted Daoine sidh was never fully at ease with the morality of Christianity. Once while praying at a church on the Boyne, she heard the rushing of air and knew that the sigh were nearby. Hearing their voices on the wind, she fainted, and although she recovered was struck with an irreversible ennui, from which she died. The church of the winds was renamed Kill Ethné. It shoud be mentioned that kill is an old form of cella, a monastic ?cell,” shrine, or church, and has nothing to do with the act of murder. The Brugh was a passageway to the Otherworld as well as a dwelling place, and it was by this route that Setanta the son of Lugh came to the world of men. His mother Dechtera was the daughter of Cathbad the personal druid attached to King Conchobar mac Nessa ( ca.1 A.D.). On the eve of Dechtra’s wedding to Sualataim mac Roth the lady and her fifty attendents disappeared, and it was later runmoured that they were carried off by ?birds” into the western land of Tir nan Og. A three year search was conducted to try to find this party, but their fate remained obnscure until a flock of birds suddenly descended on the fields about Emain Macha and began to destroy the fruit and crops. The king and his knights rode out against the birds, but they merely flew off, luring the party further and further south until they eventually found themselves at the base of the Mound of Angus. As night fell, the warriors sought refuge in a abandoned hut. One of the men was sent to fetch water, and passing along the river, he came on a huge mansion and within it was greeted by Lugh of the Long Arm and a company of people which was seen to include Dechtra and her fifty handmaidens. The knight reported all he had seen to King Conor, who requesting a meeting between himself and Dechtera, but thorough searches of the river could find nothing of a noble house on the riverbank. In the morning the warriors found a new-born infant in their midst, and assumed that this was her gift to the province of Ulster. The child was fostered to Dechtra’s sister who was then nursing her own child Conal. He was named Setanta and inherited the realms of Cathbad, that part of Ulster from Dundalk southward as far as Usna in Meath, a place generally referred to as the Plain of Murthemney. His residence was Dun Dalg. The druid named Moran predicted that this child would have a 42

short but glorious career as a warrior. When he was a boy Setanta was sent as a fosterling to Conor’s court and her received the nickname by which he became better known. One afternoon King Conor and his nobles were feasting at the dun of a wealthy smith named Chullain. Setanta was supposed to have travelled with them, but involved in a boyish game of hurley, had followed just as night fell. The dun was by then closed to visitors and a huge guard dog placed before it to greet strangers. A terrible turmoil ensued and when the sound died down and the warriors investigated it was found that the unarmed boy had killed the dog with his bare hands. To compensate Chullain, it was agreed that Setana should replace the dead cu (dog) for a year and a day, and it was thus that he was ever after called Cu chullain, the ?hound of Cullan.” As a son of the god of light, Cu chullain attracted a great deal of attention from the ladies, so that the husbands of Ulster began to wish he would take a wife sparing them the roving eyes of their own loved ones.Eventually he did settle his desires on Emer, daughter of Forgall, the lord of Lusk, a small village north of Dublin. The maiden was reputed to possess all six of the requisite gifts of womanhood: beauty, a sweet voice, intelligent speech, wisdom, chastity and a way with needles, but was not yet ready to marry. Consequently she attempted to persuade the visitor to her home to take up with he older sister Fial, but failing this explained that she could not take as husband a man with no reputation. This conversation led to Cu chllain’s interest in a military career. He had heard men speak highly of the academy of Sgàitheach aBuannad, ?Skatha the Mercenary,” a woman-warrior whose residence was Tir nan Sgàitheach, the ?Land of Shadows,” a place located in the Western Ocean. The Island of Skye to the west of Scotland was frequently called the ?Island of Shadows,”leading to the supposition that this was where the military heroes of Ireland and Scotland trained, but in point of fact it seems to have been more remote. Ård-Greimne was the lord of Lethra, the ?Other Side.” His name indicates a ?High Stronghold,” a place referred to in the records as ?a land of red brightness,” and he appears to be the sun-god Lugh. He was the father of two noted female warriors Sgaitheach, ?who taught Cúchulainn martial arts and Aoife, who had the capacity to defeat him, but finally became his lover” It is said that Cuchulainn and two companions questedIafter the woman-warrior in Alba, but there a vision came between him and theothers so that he travelled on alone. ?Now he was astray and ignorant, but he saw a terrible beast (inm some versions a self-propelled crystal boat) and the beast turned its side to him. So he made a leapp on its back and did not guide it, but let it choose the way. They travelled like that for four days, till they came at last to the ends of the bounds of men, and to an island in a loch.” HereCuchullain got directions to the interior of that far land (which sounds little like the Isle of Skye) and met many dangers before he came to the realization of his wish to find Sgaitheach: black forests and desert plains, all lying before her land.” The Island of Skye is only sixty miles in length ?the most crofted land in Britain,” with 43

nary a ?black forest” for centuries past. Just before he approached her holdings, the young man came to the Plain of Ill-luck, a boittomless mire of ?sticky clay and bog plant,” which appeared impassible. While he was debating what to do, a young man approached ?whose face shone like the sun.” The young man (who was Lugh) presented Cuchullain with a wheel (some tales say a golden ball; in any event a sun-symbol), indicating that the hero should roll this object before him into the morass. As he did so, the wheel blazed with light and shot heat from the rim which baked a dry path which could be safely followed. Having penetrated the Shadow Lands he next encountered the ?Beasts of the Perilous Glen,” and escaping them came to the bridge beyond which stood the domain of Skatha. Here Cu chullain found a number of young men milling about, and when he questioned them they all said they had come to be trained by Skatha. When he asked why they hadnot passed on across the bridge to being their classes, they explained that the bridge was a kind of teeter-totter, which rose at the far end when a man stepped on the near end. Some potential students had ended their lives here amidst a gorge filled with swirling waters and ravenous monsters. Studying the bridge, Cu chullain at last decided that it was two carefully balanced to be crosssed except by a leap to the mid point. He made three abortive attempts at crossing in this way, but each time turned back amidst the jeers of his contemporaries. On a fourth try he gained the centre of the bridge, and in one additional leap made the far side and stood before the Fortress of Shadows. While Cu chullain lived on the island of Skatha his closest companion was a Firbolg named Ferdiad and his female lover a daughter of the witch-woman. While Cu chullain practised the arts of war, hostilities developed between Skatha and her sister Aoife or Aifa. Before Skatha marched against her sister’s host she placed a sleep herb in Cu chullain’s drink not wishing to lose her prize pupil in a premature combat. The potion, enough to have stilled most men for a day, simply mad Cu chullain drowzy for a hour, and he soon follwed the chariot tracks in Skatha’s wake. When the armies met, Cu chullain attracted Aifa’s interest by killing six of her heroes. Aifa called out a challenge for one-on-one combat, but Skatha warned himn that this would be an unequal contest. Hearing this, Cu chullain demanded to know what Aifa valued most, and getting his answer, accepted the challenge. In the first moments of battle Aifa shattered Cu chullain’s sword. At this the hero shouted ?Look there, the horses and chariot of Aifa have fallen into the glen!” Seeking out her most prized possessions, Aifa glanced to one side,and this allowed her adversary to rush and disarm her. After this a peace was extorted from the powerless woman, who afterwards became Cu chulainn’s friend and lover. After his training Cu chullain returned to Ireland and was not long making a reputation as a hunter-warrior, and soon began to enquire after Emir, the girl he wanted as his wife. When the father, Forgall the Wily, proved obstinate and opposed to a wedding, Cu chullain demonstrated the ?hero’e salmon leap,” which he had used at the Bridge of the Leaps. This time 44

he braoached the ramparts of Fioll’s dun, killed the chieftain, struck down eight men, and carried off not only Emir but her foster sister and two arm loads of gold and silver. Outside the dun others attacked and it was said that he killed a hundred enemies at every ford from Olbiny to the Boyne. Having won his lady at such a cost of life, Cu chullain was never willingly parted from Emir while they lived. Notwithstanding this love match, Cu chullain continued to have a number of affairs with women including Blathnat,, the wife of the King of Munster; and Fand the main romantic interest of Manann mac Ler. Cu chullain’s chief fame was his nearly single-handed defense of Ulster during the so called Táin wars but there are interesting reflections of his connection with the Otherworld in both of these seductions. Cú Roi , the Rough And Ready Dog,” was thethe son of Daire, who succeeded to the kingship of Munster, the place most often associated with the Dead Lands and the Fomorian giants. In youth, this southerner was a friend of Cú chullain and together they had raided Inis Fer Falga (The Isle of Man) making off with the local princess, the woman named Blathnát, along with other treasures. The two quarrelled over the lady but the giant bested Cú Chullain leaving him buried on the seashore before he took off with all the loot. At his fortress Cú Roi made Blatnát his queen, but she was more attached to Cú Chullain and managed to send a message to him saying that she would be ?very appreciative” if he could arrange her rescue from the fortress of Sleemish. To help Cú Chullain find the hidden entrances to the dun, the queen pured fresh milk into a stream running through the place, and signalled him when it was appropriate to attack. Leading a host of his own men, the Ulster hero traced the white stream back through hidden underground passages, killed his former friend and carried off the lady. This tryst was not totally satisfactory as Cú Roi’s chief bard followed the couple and seeing a chance seized Blathnát and carried her over a precipice to their mutual death. Cú Roi reputedly returned from the ?west” to settle a matter that fell out of Bricriu’s Feast. This Ulster champion was often called Bricriu Nemthenga, the one with the ?Poisoned Tongue,” because of his expertise in creating dissention. This admitted champion gave the most sumptuous quarter-day feasts in all Ireland, and many attended to witness the inevitable excitement that attended this troublemaker. On one oocassion he promised three women that they might serve as the May Queen, and had them all arrive at the main entrance with their attendants at exactly the same hour. As a result of this, and similar machinations, he hired eight mercenaries to guard him at all times. In one moment of inspiration Bricriu set up a competition to find the champion of the land of Ireland and had a druid recall Cú Roi as judge of worth of the contestants. In the end various contests narrowed the field to Cú Chullain, Conal anmd Laere. To settleon a winner the unrecognizable Cú Roi , ?a demon of the waters” was called up ?from the depths where he dwelt.” He proposed a true test of courage, challenging each of the warriors to sever his head from his body, allowing him to return the favour on the following morning. Conal and Laere refused this test recognizing that that Fomorian shapechangers were notoriously difficult to kill. Cú Chullain possessed a sword equal to the task and therefore chanted a Gaelic charm over the blade and decapitated the creature. The Fomor arose, seized his bleeding head, and went immediately into the water. In the morning he was reincarnate, his head firmly in place, and ready to claim his ?trophy.” Cú Chullain, true to his 45

promise, laid his neck on a stump to take the fatal blow. Three times the ?demon” brought his axe down near the heroes head, but each time missed doiing any damage. He then announced that Cú Chullain was clearly the bravest man in Ireland and the true champion of that place. Brave as he was, Cú chullain was unable to resist the magic of the Daoine mara, or seafolk. Once, exhausted from hunting, he lay curled beneath a standing-stone, when he had a dream in which two women of the sigh came at him armed with rods, with which they beat him. These were obviously of the species now known as the aplein, who the Anglo-Saxons called night mares, for the hero knew that he was dreaming but was unable to defend himself in that state and could not awaken himself. When he did emerge he found himself sweat-soaked and sore and all but dead. For a year and a day he suffered as if he had been beaten, and none of the druids could influence his disease for the better. At the end of this time a stranger approached Cú chullain as he lay insensitive to the world and told him to return to the pillar-stone where he had experienced the dream if he wished to recover. In that place he met one of the women who had beaten him, a youthful beauty clothed in a long green mantle. She introduced herself as Fann the wife of Manann mac Ler, and said that she was presently separated from her husband because of protracted quarrels. His absent from her household had left her defenseless against some of his vassals, and three Fomorian kings had beseiged her palace at Tir Tairnigri. Fann said that she would lift the effects of the magical beating, and take Cú chullain if he would assist her in opposing these ?sea-demons.” The Ulsterman was interested in the proposition but decided to send his charioteer into the west to report on the truth of Fann’s prediciment. Thus the aid-de-camp, a man named Laeg reported to the fay-woman and was transported by her people to the Otherworld. Laeg came back to Ireland and told Cú chullain that he had crossed a huge ?lake” on a boat made entirely of bronze, and behind the western strand had seen a kingdom surpassing all others in beauty and sophistication. Cú chullain therefore decided to mount an imrama into the deep sea. On the way to TirTairnigri , the shipload of heroes was beset by sea-demons who came upon them as wave-like beings shrouded in mist. These may have been the minions of the jealous Manann mac Ler or perhaps the forces of the three kings who fought against Fann. In the Land of Promise, Cú chullain easily overcame Fann’s enemies and within the month was enjoying life as her lover. He soon decided to return to Ireland,, but being smitten with the fairy-queen arranged a meeting place on the eastern shores at the Strand of the Ancient Yew Tree. Cú Chullain had not travelled alone to the New World, and his talkative comrades let out rumours that told the heroes wife of his intended affairs. Emer, noted the unequal competition:?There is nothing the spirit might wish for, that is notgiven to Fann !” Seeing no other resolution but the death of the sea-goddess, Emer gathered fifty of her warrior-maidens and armed them with sharp knives, giving them orders to slay Fann when they came upon her. To manage this the party followed Cú chullain to his supposedly secret trysting-place. 46

At that place, the husband and wife could not resist a face-off, in which Cú chullain recited all the virtues of his latest conquest, while Emer responded saying, ?Sooth, the lady to whom yopu cling is hardly better than I, but the new is always sweet and the old fruit bitter.” The hero perceived the justice in this argument and agreed to return to his wife, at which Fann broke into tears ?the mighty love that she bore Cú chullain being tumultuous within her.” Perhaps drawn by her wails, Manann appeared at this time asking if she would return to him or stay with the Ulsterman, She answered, ?In truth, neither of you is the better man, but I will go with thee Manann, seeing that Cú chullain already has Emer. All of this was an invisble transaction for Cú chullain who was forced to ask Laeg what was happening. ?Fann,” responded the charioteer, ?is departing from this strand with the Son of the Sea knowing that she is no longer pleasing in your sight.” At this the hero fled in sorrow, and for a very long time lay love-sick, refusing meat and drink. At last the druids cured him to some extent by giving him a draught of forgetfulness, and in the course of time, Manann shook his great cloak of invisibilty between Cú chullainn and Fann so that they would have no memory of one another through the long journey to the end of time. After that Cú chullain had little time for considering affairs of the heart, but he did have other close encounters with the Otherworld. Throughot most of the long war between the north and the south Cú chullain had little help from the armies of Ulster since they were subjected to a powerful curse levied on them by the goddess known as Macha. For his part, Cú chullain was personally opposed by the goddess Mhorrigan and after defeating her and a champion named Loch fell into a well deserved blue funk. Sorely wounded he lay within the grave-mounds of Lerga, watching his enemies encamped nearby. As he watched he saw in their camp fires the striding figure of an imperious warrior, that passed through the entire host without attracting any attention. ?He wore a tunic of silk embroidered with gold, and a green mantle fastened with a gold brooch; and one one hand was a black shield bordered with silver and two spears in the other.” The seeming stranger came directly up to Cú chullain and addressed him saying, ?Sleep from this time by the grave of Lerga; slumber deeply for three days, and for that time will I stand in your place and defend the Ford of Ulster against the armies of Mebd.” Cú chullain was in no condition to refuse this offer and fell into a trance. It is said that the stranger applied healing herbs to his injuries while he slept and when he awoke he was completely able. ?An Cuchulain knew that this was Lugh his father, who had come from among the People of Dana to help him through his hour of despair.” Like many of the gods and all the mortal ?gods,” Cú chullain finally met his bas finne, and died a tragic hero. In the course of his life he inadvertently killed his own son, and was forced to slay his best friend Ferdiad. He rejected the love of Mhórrigán, the goddess of summer and roused her wrath as Badb, the goddess of battle. It was this crow-goddess who arranged his death and it was she who plucked the eyes from his unseeing head after he died standing, his back to a pillar-stone, his face to a horde of enemies. 47

Conchobar mac Nessa who had been Cú chullain’s leige was said to have been wed to the sovereign goddess, but she had a tender eye for many men and had left him, and Ulster, to favour Ailill and Connaught province. While Mhórrigán did overcome the hero of Ulster, she lost the Táin war and was tracked and killed by a northerner. Conchobar was ambushed in turn by the Connaught warrior Cet, who shot a ?magic” brain-ball at the king. While this strange poisoned object did not kill the king, it pentrated his skull and lodged in his forehead. His physician advised against removal and also suggested that the king abstain from any violent rage or excitement such as the riding of horses. Seven years later Conchobar’s temper flared and he died just within the Chritian Era.

Some writers have considered it unfortunate that the oral traditions of the Celts fell into the hands men who supported a new and demanding religion. The Christian scribes, in setting down tales and sagas of the past, had to be conscious of the their dogmas, and their transcriptions often bowlderized the concepts and themes of the original stories. This Christian veneer is usually easy to penetrate and the moralizing postscipts are obvious as propoganda: Thus, the sea-god Manann mac Ler is represented in one case as foretelling the coming of Christ into Gaeldom. In another tale, Cu chullain returns to earth and pleads with Saint Patrick to intercede for him so that he can be released from Hell. Thankfully the underlying stories were too strong to be submerged in the passage from one hand copied manuscript to the next and the essential stories made better reading than the homelies of the Church. During the so called Dark Ages, there was actually more than usual enlightenment in parts of Ireland. It was in this time (the sixth to the fifteenth century) that Hibernia became famous for her tech screpta, or ?great libarries.” The most ancient epics were probably written down before the middle of the seventh century, but how long they had existed before this, in the oral medium, is impossible to guess. At that, writing per se probably existed long before the arrival of Christianity. and several Irish philologists have pointed to fragments of ogham in the Brehon Laws as evidence of pagan writing of high antiquity. In the fourth century a continental book written in Latin, Cosmographiia Aethici Istrii is said to have been the travel log of Aethicus. He spent some time in Ireland examining books written in a tongue he could not understand. He dismissed them as being the work of ideomochos, ?unskilled toilers” as opposed to masters of the classical tongues, but heat least mentions the existence of many hand-written works. 48

Even Edmund Spenser, who profited heavily from Irish mythology, but derided the Gaels as backwoodsmen, was ready to admit that the ?Irish hath had the use of letters very aunciently and long before England. Whence thy got those letters is hard to say...but that they had them aunciently is nothing doubtful. The Saxons of England are said to have their letters and learning and learned them from the Irish, and that also appeareth by the likeness of character, for the Saxon character (form of letters) is the same as the Irish.” The ?host of books” seen by the earliest vistors was gone by Spenser’s time because of the viking lootings and burnings of the repositories. The years of destruction continued until the route of these pirates after the reign of the high-king named Brian Boru (ca 1000 A,D,) The major surviving manuscripts therefore date from the late eleventh century. The oldest surviving books in Gaelic are the Leabhar na hUidre , the Book of the Dun Cow and Leabhar Laignech, the Book of Leinster, and a third book known only by the Bodleian Library Reference, ?Rawlinson Manuscript B502. The first of these was transcibed in 1106 A.D. at Clonmacnoise and the second at Terryglass in Tipperary. The third work also originated at Clonmacnoise. Aside from these there are about five hundred and fifty tales in manuscriopt form and perhaps one hundred and fifty tales yet to be discovered. Surprisingly the bulk of this Gaelic material has not even been reformatted in modern Gaelic let alone translated into English. Echtra Brain maic Febail, the ?Sea-Voyage of Bran Son of Febail,” is preserved in fifteenth and sixteenth century manuscripts, and these are considered copies of a work first penned in the seventh century. This story may be much older as its elements are decidely preChristian. The tale commenced when Bran was walking near his fortress. Hearing music he was unable to resist sleep and fell into a stupor beneath a tree. When he awoke he found a silver branch with a white blossom on it on the ground beside him. He went back to his dun and that evening was visited by a woman in foreign clothing in spite of the fact that the gates of his place were firmly bolted against such intruders. This strange sidh-woman sang a long lay to Bran descrbing the delights of her western homeland somewhere in the far reachs of the Great Ocean. The next day, Bran and his three foster-brothers decided to find this place, and in the company of twenty-seven warriors, they set sail on the Atlantic. Two days and nights out of Ireland they met Manann mac Ler riding behind his sea-horses travelling in an easterly direction. He paused to explain that he was headed for the Scottish kingdom of Dal Riada where he intended to beget a son by Mongan a queen of that land. For his part, Bran travelled on until he arrived at the ?Island of Joy.” Here one of his crewmen jumped ship, but the rest travelled on until they arrived at the island alternately referred to as Eumhann or Tir na-mBan. The latter may be translated as the ?Land of Females,” the former as a variant of neamh, or ?heaven.” Here Bran and his crew were met by hoards of amorous women, and found maidens ?all without care, fear of death, or subject to any sickness or infirmity.” They soon paired off with the locals ?living sumptuously each with his woman.” This island of compliant virgins survived transplantation into Christian mythology and in the Breton legend of St. Machutus (ninth century) it is given as the island of Yma a place inhabited by beautiful, but less willful, female angels. Bran had 49

sailed to this island in the midst of a storm and might not have landed except that the beautiful princess of that place threw him a ?blue clew,” the standard line-line of Celtic witchcraft. She pulled the ship by magic to the shore and there the travellers remained for what seemed a single year. Soon the crew tired of unending sensual pleasure and petitioned their captain to go home to Ireland. The princess who had become Bran’s companion warned the mariners that time passed more rapidly in the human lands to the east, and Bran was not altogether willing to leave, but was finally persuadfed to seek their old homesteads. As they left the woman warned all the Irishmen not to set foot on Irish soil, for she explained that a century of human time had passed and those who offended this taboo would immediately age by that century. As the coracle neared land one of the crew did leap ashore and was immediately reduced to a pile of dust. Seeing this, Bran laid by, wrote his story on Ogham wands and threw them to viewers on the shore. He then turned his ship back towards the west and from then ?his face was not known.” This earliest of recorded Irish voyages is distinguished by the beauty of its poetry. Although most ?voyages” began in the east, the Fomorians and the Tuathans often fancied Irish or Scottish girls and the most lustful ?god” of the west was decidely Manann mac Ler, who hadthe ?horses of the sea,” as well as the self-propelled ship Aigéan scuabadoir, the ?Wave-sweeper” for transportation. In one instance the king sent his druid to the east to lure the baeautiful Tuage into his hands. Disguised as a woman the magic-maker lulled the woman to sleep and carried her to the beach at Inbherar Glas where he went looking for a boat. In his absence the tide came in and she drowned. In anger Manann cut down this servant for gross incompetence. He had much better luck with a beauty who happened to be the wife of Fiachna the fair. In some tales it is said that the sea-god approached the queen of Dál Riada while her husband was campaigning, saying that her husband would be lost unless she slept with him. Another version of events says that Fachtna called for the help of the sea gods when he was being worsted in battle. Manann agreed to turn the tide of the affray if he was granted a conjugal visit with the king’s wife, and he agreed. Shape-changed to resemble the husband, the sea god impregnated the lady with a son who was named Mongán. The sea-god took the infant to his own kingdom for fosterage, and returned him to Ireland as an adult. It has been said that Mongán was the reincarnate Fionn mac Cumhail, at this is what the shade of his foster-father Caoilte claimed when he materialized to announce the young man’s arrival at the fortress of Moylinny. There was an historic king Mongán who ruled Ulster until 625 A.D. He married the beautiful Dubh Lacha, born on his own birthday. One day in a burst of friendship, this king promised Brandubh king of Leinster, anything he was able to offer, and the unworthy man asked for the king’s wife. Under the terms of honour of that day, Mongán was forced to surrender her. Fortunately, he possessed the ability of shape-cahnging from his father’s folk,, and was able to take the form of a druid in order to penetrate the fortress of his rival. There he entered the queen’s quarters and slept with his wife on a regular basis. Eventually he conscripted a crone named Cuimne to get his queen back. She shape-changed into a beautiful woman who appeared 50

to be the daughter of the king of Munster. To stack the deck he gave the woman a love charm so that Brandubh would be unable to resist her. He then offered this woman in place of Dubh Lacha and Brandubh quickly agreed. The reunited pair were long gone from the palace at Leinster when Cuimne was discovered to have lost her shape and attractiveness. The old Irish tale entitled Echtra Condla chaim maic Cuind Chetchathaig, the ?Sea Voyage of of Connla,” has much in common with the voyage of Bran. It appears in the Book of the Dun Cow, which is guessed to have been written about the year 1106, when its author a Christian named Maelmori , ?the Servant of Mary,” was murdered. The original text is in metrical form, a sample of cante-fable, the form of all tales in the keeping of the senachaidh. It is said that Connla was the grandson of the historic Irish king named Conn, who had headship of that land between 123 and 157 A.D. Some have said that Connacht was named after this ard-righ although that place was actually mapped somewhat before his birth. Connla appears to have been an authentic prince of the realm and is given as the eldest sonof Art mac Conni n the Annals of Clonmacnoise where he is represented as Conly. He did not ascend the throne, and it was suggested that he was either slain or disappeared during his father’s lifetime. Crionna mac Art was slain by his uncle in a political struggle and after Connla ?sailed away to fairyland and never returned Art became known as Art the ?Lonely,? and it was claimed that he was afterwards silent ?till life’s end.” Art was eventually succeeded by an exiled nephew, Lugaid Mac Conn. It may be assumed that the legend of Connla and his sidh-maiden developed in the second half of the second century. As it now stands, the manuscript is a ?doctored” seventh century variant, touched by the hand of a Christain, or Christians, who introduced reference to God’s day of judgement and to the waning power of the druids. This addition is rather obvious and does nothing to separate the legend from its true roots in pagan pre Patrician Ireland. Connla was the son with the ?Fiery Hair,” a fact that sets him apart as having genes of the sithe. He was therefore certainly visited with the mixed blessing of the ?two sights,” and the ability to see things very acutely at great distances. His birthright also protected him from death by fire or water. It is said that Connla first saw his fate as he stood with his father on the heights at Usna. This place was, itself, replete with memorials of the past, being ultimately named for the old god <Uis, or Huis, the English ?Hugh.” also represented in Gaelic as the day-god Aod. Variously given as Uisliu (literally the ?day-god Lugh”), it is also written as Uisnach, Usnach , Usnach and Usnagh. Usna was the husband of Ebhla , a daughter of the love-god Aonghas Og. He had an affair with Ebhla’s sister Maga and this produced the Clann Useneach and the famous Irish Red Branch hero Naoise who has been mentioned in the tale of Deirdriu. Connla’s bafinn was a beautiful maiden ?all clad in white,” a certain characteristic of the Daoine sidh. Art, who stood at his son’s side lacked the two-sights and saw nothing, but he heard his son ask, ?Where do you come from maiden?” She responded, in words that the prince alone heard, ? I come from Magh Mell, the ?Great Plain (of the Ocean), where there is neither death nor sin; where we keep holiday every day, where there is no strife. We who dwell there 51

have our homes in the round green hills and men call us thus, the ?Daoine sidh, (i.e. the Side-hill people of the goddess Danu).” This is noteworthy as the individual homes of the Algonquin Indians of eastern North America meet this description. It will also be noted that the Norse in their final foray in the region captured two children but lost their parents when they ?disappeared into the earth.” In any event, the king and his courtiers stood dumbfounded at this seemingly one-sided conversation. When the king enquiredof the empty air who it was that talked with his son, the lady made her voice clear to the whole company: ?Connla speaks alone to a young maiden, untouched by age or death. I call him away to Innis Subach, the ?Merry Plain,” to Magh Mell, where Boadag (i.e. Bobd Dearg) is ruler. There has been no complaint nor sorrow in that distant land since he became high-king. Come with mme Connla of the Fiery Hairy which as as ruddy as dawn. A sith-crown awaits thee, and their your comely face and royal form will never decay, and your youth shall continue until the end of time.” As Connla was his tanist or ?heir” to the throne, the king was disturbed at this suggestion and called the druid named Coran to his side. He asked the druid to repulse the maiden, and Coran did so by chanting spells in the direction from which the voice had issued. At this she began to fade from Connla’s sight, but before she had entirely vanished she threw an apple to the prince. The young man would not be parted from this artifact, and for the following month, would take no other food excepting bites from this apple. As he ate it reconstituted itself, so that it never diminished in size. As Connla ate more of this fruit he became increasingly enamoured of the strange foreign maiden. When the month ended Connla and his father were, for some reason, on Magh Arcomin and here again the maiden emerged from a distant mist and walked toward the prince. Again only he could see her and she addressed him, ?Thhis is a fine land but it stands amidst shortlived mortals who stand in fear of death. The folk of the ever-living, beg and bid thee to come away with me to Magh Mall, for they now know you having observed your actions from afar.” This time the king and all his courtiers heard the maiden’s voice and the druid was summoned to chase her back to the Land of Shadows. While they waited his arrival the maiden addressed the king saying, ?Great king, the druid’s power is little loved, and has no honour in my land. When the Great Law comes here the druid’s spells will at last go to earth, and no more curses will fall through the lips of the black demons.” Sensing that this was so, the high king turned to his son and asked what he thought. The young man responded: ?Tis hard for me. I love my own people above all else; yet this great longing to travel has fallen on me, and I wish to know the maiden.” The maiden hearing this replied, ?Then the ocean itself is not as strong as the waves of 52

longing. Come with me in my curragh, the great gleaming crystal ship that stands on the strand. Soon we will reach Boadag’s realm. I see the bright sun fail in the west, but we can reach it before night. At that place is another land and people worthy of your love, a place joyous to all who seek it. It is called Tir na-mBan, only wives and maidens dwell there. If thou wilt we will go there and live long together in happiness.” When the maiden had ceased to speak, and before the druid arrived, Connla turned with the invisible maiden and followed her to a nearby strand where they leaped into the curragh and departed for the west. The king and his people could dop nothing to stop this and they watched until the crystal ship met with the setting sun, and then saw nothing more of this ship or their prince. It will be remembered that Bran also found himself in Tir n-mBan, the ?Land of Women.” This land is sometimes given in the tales as Tir na-n-Inghean, but the last word indicates ?daughters” rather than ?virgins,” as some authors have suggested. Here the women who greeted the heroes seemed more amorous than virginal. In both tales, Magh Mell seems to be the widest designation for a number of western lands described as lying fo na’muir, or ?under the sea.” This may imply that they are sinking islands or merely take note of the fact that they were beyond the horizon in the western retreat of the sun. The Land of Women may very well be distinct from Aircthech, the ?Ark,” or ?Place of Clemency;” Ciuin, the ?Mild” or ?Civil Place;” Magh Mon, the ?Land of Slowness” or ?Negligence;” Imchiuin, the ?Land of ButterMelting Heat,” Subhach, the ?Place of Merryment;” and all all the other supposed synonyms for the ?Great Plain of the Sea.” Whatever the case, the dwellers in the west supposedly told the men of Ireland that there were ?thrice fifty distant islands in the ocean, all west of us, and each of them is twice or thrice as large as Eriu (Ireland).” As we have noted, folklore suggests that An Domhain may lie at the roots of Magh Mell , and the former land was not a totally happy place. Pagans, who believed in reincarnation, tended to view residence in the lower world as a temporary inconvenience and not permanent damnation, which is why they dwelt on the kinder aspects of life in the west. The Christians had a less flexible view of light and darkness. Thus, we find the adventures of Bran and Connla incorporated into those of later voyagers, a distinction being made between two different western lands: In Imram Maelduin the travellers arrive at two islands, one occupied by lamenting people who never fail in their complaints, another by a folk who are always joyous. The same two islands are mentioned in Imram Curaig Ua Corra, the ?Ocean-travels of the Sons of O’Corry.” There are similar lands in the Latin Navigatio Sancti Brandani, which is based on Celtic models. The pagan version of some happy western land filled with compliant women was too bold for Christian asceticism so it was converted into Terra Repromissonia Sanctorum, ?The Land of Promised Sanctuary,” or heaven on earth. Brendon’s ?decent” paradise probably owes a additional debt to the Grecian concept of Isles of the Blest, classical tales of travel, and elements from the Bible. It has been guessed that Brendon’s ?great whale,” the beast called Iasconicus may have been pilfered from the Roman 53

writer Lucian. The Christians supposedly mistook the beast for an island and landed there to celebrate mass one Easter morning. Whales and sea-giants were formerly considered cut of the same cloth. The Breton legend of Saint Machutus correponds quite closely with Brendon’s tale: In the fomer, Machutus came to an island where he found the dead giant named Mildu. Using the power of God, the saint revived the poor creature and baptized him. Afterwards the giant agreed to attempt to drag the ship of the travellers through the ocean to Yma, but a storm arose and the cable parted forcing them to find another way to penetrate that western land and its surround of mirror-like golden walls. When Brendon was translated out of Latin into Galeic as Imram Brenaid , liberties were taken with this part of the text and the whale has becoma a beautiful oversized maiden, ?whiter than sea-spray but a hundred feet high, nine feet across between the breats, and with a middle finger seven feet long.” She was lying lifeless as Brendon first saw her, her shoulder pierced by a gigantic spear. Brendon managed to revive her and baptize her, at which she explained that her sea-race was one of the damned, patiently waiting redemption. Unfortunately she was unable to survive the taking of sacraments and died immediately after. This maiden is clearly the giantess Mhorrigan and we are reminded of her mating with Dagda, both sets of feet being planted on opposite sides of the river Boyne. Clearly, the Irish could not resist a return to sensual symbolism. Nansen thinks that this maiden is the giantess from Tir nan-n-Inghean who sought Fionn mac Cumhail’s protection from a suitor but was killed by his spear. He says she is also mentioned in Jens Lauritzõn Wolf’s Norrigia Illustrata, where she is found as a resident of Iceland. Nansen also thinks that Irish myth has had ?influence on Norse literature.” Thus he notes the theft of a neck-chain (or perhaps a bridle) by one of the Christian brothers in the Navigatio. There is something akin to this in Irish folklore where men purloined the magic-bridles that controlled the dangerous kelpies. They had the temporary use of these horse-like beasts, but were invariably killed by them. All this reminds Nansen of the story of Thor Adelfar in Saxo Grammaticus , but that is not as clear a parallel as that of Odin’s stolen gold: It is said that Odin’s wife Frigga had such an unnatural love of ornaments she once melted down her husbands chief statue and had the dwarfs fashion a necklace from it. The dwrafs could not betray their queen, but Odin had his suspicions and retreated from his country and his wife, allowing the icegiants to take control for seven long years of winter. It was this same neck-piece that was ultimatyely stolen by Lokki, whose story ended in grief. The supernatural cat in Imram Maelduin that takes on, and kills, a mariner who attempts to purloin a neck-chain must represent a similar goddess in animal form. In the Book of Leinster (twelfth century) there is an additional reference to a little cat that three young priests took with them on a sea-voyage, In Imram Brenaid is said that the little cat taken with them from Ireland ?grew into a monkey as large as a young ox, which swam after after Brendon’s boat and wanted to swallow it.” Notice that the cat was Frigga’s prime totem-animal as it was a symbol for the Gaelic Mhorrigan. Thus the continuing refusal of sailors to take black cats aboard ship. In the case of Brendon’s voyage the symbolism clearly suggests tensions between paganism and Christianity. Legends of happy lands in the western ocean are widely diffused and in Anglo-Saxon literature there is a dialogue between Adrianus and Ritheus (tenth century) where we learn that 54

there is perpetual sunlight ?in the belly of that whale called ?Leuiathan,” ?...in the second season it shines in Hell; and the third season it reposes upon the island called Glith, and there reside all holy men waiting their time until doomsday.” This place called Glith (the ?Glittering” Land) is clearly the Gaelic island of Airgtheach, the ?White House,” one of the islands supposedly observed by Bran. Pseudo-Gilda’s twelfth century description of an island called Avallon (a place borrowed from Welsh myth) is also connected with great bounty, thus: ?A remarkable island is surrounded by ocean. It is full of all good things; no thief, no robber, no enemy pursues there. There is no violence, no winter, no summer that rages immodestly; there is peace, concord, eternal spring. No flower is wanting, the apple-trees bear fruit and flowers on the selfsame branch. There, without fear, without stain, youths lie with their maidens, and there is nothing like old age, no oppressive sickness, no sorrow, but a life full of joy.” Notice the parallels with the Gaelic Tir-nan-Og, the ?Land of Youth: ”...where there is not save truth, where there is no age, nor decay. sorrow nor gladness, envy nor jealousy, hatred nor haughtiness.” This is the Magh Mell of folklore, also called Tir Tairnnigri, the ?Land of the Daughter of Thunder;” Hy Breasil, the ?Distant Isle of Breas;” Tir nam Buadha, the ?Land of the Victorious;” Hy na-Beatha, the ?Land of (Eternal) Life;” Tir Màg , the Lazy Bed Land,” or the ?Fertile Land;” Trág Mór, the ?Great Ebb-tide (Place),” the ?Great Strand;” Tir nIongnadh , the ?Land of Wonder;” and Tir fo-Tonn, the ?land Under Waves.” Imram Curaig Maile Dúin, the ?Coracular Ocean-Voyages of Maelduin,” were preserved in their oldest form in a manuscipt which comes from the close of the twelfth century, and is thus later than they tales about Bran and Connla. The twelfth century manuscript is now lost, but it has been guessed that this tale dates from the second half of the eighth century. In the great list of two hundred Irish romances, itself dating from the eighth century, six Imrama or ?Overseas Voyages” are listed, and of these ?The Voyage of Maelduin” is given as the first of its class. Of the others that are mentioned onlu ?The Voyage of the O’Corras,” has come down to us. Two Imrama not mentioned in this story list are also known today, and ?The Voyage of Snedgus and Riagla,” and ?The Voyage of St. Brendan” are therefore considered more recent works.

?The Voyage of Maelduin” was probably assembled from various tales of travel by Aed the Fair, the chief story-teller at the Irish court in the eighth century. Joseph Jacobs thinks that he created his work by borrowing his theme of the love of an immortal maiden for a human hero from ?The Voyage of Bran.” Two of the episodes appear cribbed from Maelduin (?The Isle of Wailing,” and ?The Queen of the Magic Clew”), and something very near to these tales may also be found in ?The Voyage of Bran.” Aed also borrowed from the mythic tales of the Tuatha daoine to fashion the story of ?The Queen of the Brazen Gate,” but he also took Christian legends and worked them into the fabric of this voyage. He was familiar with the actual travels of his saintly countrymen as they traveller to evangelize the Northern seas. It is pretty certain that he borrowed yarns spun from the tongues of seafarers back from the distant Faeroes or

Iceland. He handled these elements with a singular preception for their romantic qualities and effect, little guessing that they would be recast in a work of popular fiction, the famed Latin Navigatio S. Brendani , which breathed fresh life into the old legends. The ?Sea-Voyage of Maelduin” is an Irish romance preserved in numerous Gaelic manuscripts of which the oldest is one copied at the close of the twelfth century from an earlier one which is now lost. The antique nature of the Gaelic used in it justifies attribution to a much earlier time, possibly the middle half of the eighth century. The Irish ?Voyage of Maelduin” has been printed, with an English translation, by Dr. Whitney Stokes, in the ninth and tenth volumes of the Revue Celtique, and the retelling that follows is based on his version of events. Maelduin was a very successful explorer, returning after three years and seven months "driven in his barque to and fro over the boundless, fathomless ocean." The son of Ailill Edgebattle, he was fostered to the King and Queen of Arran at the murder of his father. In later, years seeking the murderers, Maelduin built a ship "of wicker work, of eight thwarts (rower's seats) covered with ox-hides of hard bark-soaked red leather.” On the day appointed by his druid, the seventeen men and their captain raised "a many-coloured sail" and put to sea. In one day of sail and rowing they found land in two small and barren islands, where they stood off and heard men boasting of various piratical deeds including the killing of Maelduin's father. They suspected that the gods had favoured them by leading them so early to their quarry, but as they prepared to land a great wind came up which tossed them on the waves for three days and three nights. At their next landfall, Maelduin was driven off by a horde of voracious ?ants” and sailed on for an additional three days and nights. On the next island they found a beast shaped somewhat like a horse but with long sharp talons. Thinking it seemed overly pleased to see them, the voyagers made another narrow escape to the sea. On a third island, they found men racing horses, but convinced they were an assembly of demons, did not remain long. A full week after their departure they chanced upon a much larger island on which stood a huge residence, with two doorways opening on land and a third on the sea. Hoping to find food and drink, Maelduin put in, but found the place empty. Fortunately, they found liquor and provisions in four of the bedrooms but finding no other signs of life departed. Later, their provisions again ran short, but they came to an island with high cliffs on all sides. A wood came downat one place, and here the ship passed beneath apple trees but they found no fruit to satisfy themselves. The next place had a stone fence around it but here they were repulsed by the antics of a monster "whose skin revolved like a mill-wheel its flesh and bones remaining still." This monster threw stones at them from the beach and one passed through Maelduin's shield and lodged in the keel of the boat. At the next stop they were fortunate to find many trees bearing fruit, with golden apples on every bough. In the orchards there were many small animals red in colour and shaped like pigs. It was observed that these creatures retreated into caverns at night but joined the birds in pilfering the apples by day. Two of the crew landed but were surprised to find that the ground was hot beneath their feet, so they hastily gathered food working quickly to preserve the soles of their feet from burning.


Before long their apples were eaten and a great and thirst returned. Further, their nostrils were bothered by a sulphurous smell which seemed to arise from the waters. They were glad to find a new harbour in a island of white rock surmounted by a fortress. Around the fort were numerous snow-white houses. They entered the largest and found no occupants except a small cat which never gave up its play to consider the men. The wall of the house was designed in three sections. The top rank carried "gold and silver brooches fastened in place by pins; the next gold and silver necklaces as large as vat hoops and the third gold and silver-hilted swords. These were white quilts on sleeping pallets and garments of shining cloth. Again they found roasted meat and flagons of ale but no company. They ate and took away what was left of the food but Maeldun warned his crew that it was probably not a good idea to touch any of the treasure hung on the walls. Against his advice, a crewman attempted to carry of a necklace but as he walked toward the door the cat attacked him, its fiery eyes burning him to a cinder. After that Maelduin soothed the animal with careful words. put the necklace back in its place, cleaned the ashes from the floor, and set sail. The ship chanced next on an island on which there were double palisades of brass. On one side of this fence they saw sheep of white and on the other black animals. In the midst of the flock was a gigantic man who was keeping the colours separate. When he three black sheep into the white enclosure they turned white while white sheep thrown in the other direction turned black. Considering this ominous, they ignored their stomachs and travelled on. On the next isle, which possessed a lofty mountain, they found, killed, rotated and ate a pig. Following the base of the mountain was a broad river. When a crew member put the wooden part of his spear into this body it was immediately consumed in flames so they went no further in that direction. Seeing a giant sitting among hornless oxen on the far bank they decide this was another unsafe place and moved on. Next they came close to the swirl of waters which they attributed to the workings of the miller of the gods, and these have since come to be called the Maelstrom. They came then to a land of people black in body and clothing who wore "fillets" about their neck and never seem to rest from wailing. Lots were cast to see who should approach them and one fell to Maelduin's foster-brother, who mingling with the crowd found himself caught up in their strange emotion. Maelduin attempted to rescue him, but the two men who followed were similarly afflicted. Four others followed being careful to refrain from breathing the air within the crowd, and these were able to rescue all but the foster-brother. In the end the sailors were forced to leave without him. On the next western isle they were met by a maiden "who entertained them and brought them food." She gave them a rather heady ale the strength of which left them unconscious so that they awoke three days later at sea, out of sight of the place and its hospitable lady. The next landfall was a small island featuring a fortress with brass doors and a crystal bridge at the approach. This proved as slick as glass and the crew eventually wearied of trying to get near the door. While they lay prone, a sidh-woman moved effortlessly over the bridge, took water from a nearby fountain and returned to the fortification. The mob followed but could not force the door. Their hammerings on the bronze fastenings finally produced a soothing music that lulled them to sleep.


These actions and reactions were repeated for three days until the sidh-maiden came forth and greeted Maelduin, naming him and all of his crew and saying, "It is long since your coming hath been expected." She then led them into her place and sent some to haul their ship upon the shore. She brought them a cheese-like food and liquor, but it was said, "she knew when they had had enough and then ceased to serve them." The men thought that this woman would make a fit wife for Maelduin so they approached her on his behalf and she promised her answer "on the morrow." When dawn came they saw neither island, nor the sidh-woman, but found themselves adrift upon the empty sea.. On the next island they met with a man clothed only in body hair (like the Fomors). This individual said, "I am a man of Ireland who went on pilgrimage in a small boat. This split under me so I went back to my native sod built again and ventured forth. The Lord had given me sod under my foot in this place which groweth by a foot each year. The birds of the trees of this place are surely the souls of my children and the kindred who await time's end. Angels feed me daily with half a cake, a slice of fish and liquor from a well. Whey or water is mine on Wednesdays; sweet milk on Sundays; bright ale and wine on feast days. At noon each of the souls of the dead receiveth the same, enough for each." The old man entertained them, provisioned them and predicted: "All of thee will reach thy desired country excepting one." At a new location, the mariners heard the sounds of smithies, anvils and sledges and saw cockelshell boats approaching over the sea. They retreated and were bombarded as they rowed by masses of glowing iron, which the chief smith threw after them. The sea hissed and boiled but the warriors fled swiftly to mid-ocean. Next Maelduin's people saw the undersea world in a place where the waters seemed so thin , misty and unsubstantial. Fearing that the surface might not support their craft they looked downward and saw roofed strongholds, and flocks and herds guarded by an armed man. Perceiving a beast attacking the man fled, and the creature fell upon an ox, devouring it in the twinkling of an eye. At the next island they came to a great stream arching out over the beach and the water, and here the wanderers passed the ship through the spray without getting wet. At the falls they pierced the waters with their spears and brought out salmon in such vast numbers they could not gather them because of their great numbers. When they were thus resupplied they cruised on their way. Next they were faced with a great silver column rising in mid-ocean where there was no land. It had four sides, each measuring two oar-strokes in width, so that the compass of a column was eight strokes. The base could not be seen through the depth of water. A silver mesh was seen hanging down from the summit of these towers and as they passed under it Maelduin warned his folk not to cut it with their spears, "for what we see is surely the work of mighty men." However a man named Diuran cut away a sample saying that he would place it on the high altar at Armagh if he were lucky enough to return to Ireland. At that a voice issued from the top of the columns and if the men of Ireland could not understand the language they understood the mood of the speaker and hoisted their sails before the wind.


Thereafter they approached another large island, on which they found a vast plain, grassy and smooth and nearby a strong fortress enclosing "a goodly furnished home." There rode out from this place a woman arrayed in a blue hood, purple embroidered mantle with gold embroidered gloves. There were sandals on her feet and the horse furnishings were finely adorned. She returned to the fortress without approaching them, but afterwards a maid-servant came to them inviting them within the walls. They were, again, royally entertained and as they were about to depart on the following morning the lady of the house suggested: ? Stay here for this is a place where old age has no place; rather you will keep what age you have at present and long life will follow attended by every joy and delight." Obviously, the travellers had attained Hy Brazil. "Why," questioned the sidh-queen, "go wandering longer from island to island under the western sun?" "How came you here" asked Maelduin? She replied: "There dwelt a good man on this isle and I was his wife and these seventeen maidens his daughters and our children. When he died their was no heir, so I am queen, and go daily to judge the disputes of those others who live here." Following her advice they lived with the sidhean for three winter months but it seemed to them more like three years and they soon talked of nothing but Ireland. When Maelduin refused to set sail for home the men murmured that Maelduin had more love for the queen of this place than his homeland and friends. Convinced by them, Maelduin once set sail, but the queen threw a clew and line after them and drew them back to dockside. Thereafter the group remained hostage for nine more months. On the next escape attempt, the queen threw the clew again and it lodged in the arm of a sailor. Seeing this Maelduin cut the arm off with his sword and thus they escaped from Tir-nan-Og. At the next stop, they plucked red berries from trees which looked like willows or hazel. It fell Maelduin's lot to sample this fruit, but the juice plunged him into a coma and they thought he was dead. After twelve hours be became conscious although hung-over. So his crew gathered the fruit of the land, moderating its alcoholic effect by mingling it with water. Thus supplied they rowed eastward. At another large island overgrown with yew and oak trees, they found meadows, sheep, a Christian church and a fortress. Within the church was an ancient cleric, who declared himself, "the fifteenth man in a community of blessed monks. We went forth on our pilgrimage upon the boundless ocean and came to this island. All are dead except me." Here they lived for another season. In the spring a huge eagle-like bird came to their island carrying green leaves and grape-like berries in its talons. It sat wearily pecking at the fruit as Maelduin and his men approached, but the bird did not heed them. Later that day, the first bird was joined by three others and then they flew off into the quarter from which they had come. The nearby lake was reddened by the berries the birds carried and Diurin became convinced that a plunge into the waters would renew his youth. The others were less certain, but Diurin did bathe, and fact or fancy, he suffered no weakness nor infirmity, nor failing of eyesight, nor loss of tooth or hair throughout a very long life. Bidding farewell to their host they sailed now to an island around which was a fiery moving magical circle. Within it was an open doorway and as it came opposite them they could briefly see the indwellers, humans who were beautifully formed and dressed. "Pleasant it was to harken to their drinking songs and hard to depart, so delightful was their voices."


They now turned the prow southward and found a man plastered close to a broad rock clothed only in his own white hair. "I was from Rorach in Ireland," admitted the man, a cook at a monastery. Is old the food and treasures of my brethren for treasures and jewels and became proud and haughty. They rejected me so I set to sea in a hide boat but I was driven to mid-ocean by contrary winds and in this place came upon one like myself but sitting upon a wave. When he asked where I was bound he said that my only destination would be a land of the damned for he could see I was surrounded by a crowd of sea-demons. Then he demanded I throw my treasures overboard or that my craft would remain motionless on the sea." So I did so and then landed upon this crag where I have lived for seven years and now do penance. Here I receive food each day and neither wind, nor wet, nor cold affects me." Then the hermit said, "You will all reach home except one man. And Maelduin you will have your murderer, but slay him not, for the God has spared you many times from perils at sea.” So they continued to the next place, an island filled with sidh playing and laughing without pause. The one who explored here did not return to the ship just as the two holy men had predicted. After this they landed on another island deserted of all but cattle, kine, oxen and sheep. Here they saw falcons exactly like those found in Ireland, so they noted their direction when they flew into the southeast and they rowed after them. Their next landfall was that which had been first in their voyage. At the door of the fortress on that island they heard a man muttering that Maelduin was on their trail. A second said it was more likely he had drowned, while a third suggested, "Mayhaps he will wake you from your sleep tonight." "What shall we do when he comes?" asked a fourth. "Welcome him gladly, " suggested the chief among them, "for I have waited too long for his vengeance and he has suffered much in getting it!" At that Maelduin struck the knocker on the door and entered to tell his former enemies of the great things seen on the ocean-sea. Afterwards Maelduin retired to his own district and Diurin took the silver net he had stolen and laid it on the altar at Armagh. These adventures were soon carried far and wide; the high-bard of Ireland remembered them, and they were afterwards written down ?so that men might appreciate the marvels and the generosity of the Christian God.” A similar Sea Voyage is the Imram Snedgusa acus meic Riagla, ?The Voyage of Snedgus and mac Riagla.” which has been preserved in the Yellow Book of Lecan dating from the fourteenth century but is considered to date at least to the second half of the nninth century. In it, the men of Ross successful killed Fiacha mac Domnaill righ ?for his intolerable tyrannies.” All were found guilty before the law and sixty couples were sentenced to banishment as ringleaders of the uprising. Two Christain monks, Snedgus and mac Riagla , sat as judges but they were sympathetic to the cause of the men whose fate was left ?to the Great Ocean.” Afterwards they set out on a voluntary pilgrimage following in the wake of the earlier curraghs. It is said that they drifted north-west ?in the outer ocean” and after three days their thirst became almost intolerable. Christ took pity on them and brought them into ?a river within the sea,” where the water had the taste and sustaining qualities of tepid milk. Afterwards they visited many other islands, at last reaching a landfall where they met people who spoke Irish Gaelic. There first encounter was with a group of women who sang to them and told them that many generations of Irish 60

considered this land home. They were eventually taken to the court of the king of that place, and he received them well asking their origin and mission. It was obvious that the king had knowledge of the earlier civil war in Ireland for he asked, ?How goes it in Ireland, and how many of Domnaill’s sons still live?” They answered that three remained, ?but Fiacha mac Domnaill fell by the men of Ross, and for that deed sixty couples were banished to the seas.” The king smiled and responded, ?That is a true story: I am he who killed the King of Tara’s son (i.e. Fiacha) and we are partly those who were sent to sea. This action was well for us, for we will stay here until Judgement Day, and be none the worse for it, for this is a land without sin, without evil, and without sinful desires. This island we live on has been good to us, for it is the birthright of Elijah and Enoch.” Thinking this place suited their needs the two clerics remained presumably enjoying immortality in this western retreat. The first two centuries after the birth of Christ saw the Tuathan rebellion and the recovery of the Milesian dynasty. The first in this new line of kings wasTuathal Feidlech, who faced 133 separate battles before bringing any meaning to the title ard righ. His reign is remembered for the wedding of one of his daughters, Dairine , to King Eochaid of Leinster, Tiring of her, the king pretended she had died, and in due course sought the hand of Tuathal’s second daughter, a woman named Fithir. Through mismanagement, the two wives of Eochaid met, and soon their father marched into Leinster in an angry mood. The province and the king were only saved after this place agreed to pay the boru, or cow tribute, a crushing burden oftribute which was exacted for nearly 500 years. Thus Tuathal left his country a festering sore, the cause of many wars between Meathg and Leinster, with the other provinces arrayed on one side or the other at different times. The son of Feidlimid mac Tuathal was the third century high-king, Conaire Mór, also entitled Conn of the Hundred Battles. This genealogy is far from certain for there may have been a ?crow” in the woodpile. Aonghas married a swan and Cú chullain’s mother had been ?carried off” by birds, so the seduction of Mess Buachalla ?by a mysterious bird-god from the Land of Youth,” seems almost commonplace. In this instance Mess Buachalla was pregnant before her marriage to the high king, but Conaire appeared to be in the successsion, and was elgible for selection at the ?bull-rights” on the death of his ?father.” In ancient Ireland the eldest son did not proceed to the high throne as a matter of divine right but had to be selected by the will of his clan, and sometimes his right of acession was determined by the ?bull-feast,” In this rite the animal was put down and a druidic diviner ate and drank the flesh and blood, retiring to sleep and dream of the legitimate king. In this particular case, the ?bull-rite” had revealled a naked boy walking the road to Tara. In the countryside Conaire was playing an outdoor game with his three foster brothers when he saw birds circling toward him. He quickly got out his rock and sling and was about to try his luck, whenm the birds settled and shape-changed into warriors. One of them stepped forward and identified himself as the Neglam, the ?king of thy father’s birds.” From this it would appear that the ?bird-god” was the shape-changed Aonghas Ög, or someone of similar importance in the western world. This royal messenger strongly advised Conaire against 61

killing his totem animal, outlined the nature of the taboos he needed to observe, and suggested it would be profitable to shed his clotyhing and take a walk toward Tara. Following this advice, Conaire soon found himself declared high-king of Ireland. Conaire must never had the hand of the earth-goddess though it was said that, ?No man slew another in Erin during his reign, and the voices of men seemed sweet as the strings of lutes. From mid-spring to mid-autumn no wind disturbed a cow’s tail.” Disturbance came at last from Conaire’s three foster brothers, who were born thieves, evil, proud and not very adept at their trade. They were frequently taken red-handed, but Conaire could not put his former playmates to death. He did, however, banish them, suggesting that they find some foreign land to ravage. On the seas around Britain they found Ingcel, the ?One-eyed,” a son of the King of Britain (England). Joining forces, they helped this fellow attack the fortress of his family, reducing Ingcel’s father, mother, siblings and their holdings to black ruin in a single night. Looking for other diversions, these pirates gathered like-minded souls, including the seven Mainn brothers, the sons of Ailill and Queen Mebd of Connaught. These creatures made their descent upon Ireland, taking land on the Dublin coast near Howth. Hearing of this Conaire headed in their direction and found himself, one night, not far from a Leinster hostel. Unfortunately the noise of the royal cavalcade was easily detected by pirate-spies who informed the others and they marched against this safe-house. Conaire could not marry the soverign bride of Ireland as he was a direct descendant of king Eochaid who had caused the Daoine sidh nine years of warfare. And now she came seeking postponed vengeance, a solitary hag at the gate of the hostel. It was said that she had shins ?as long as weaver’s beams,” and that her limbs were ?as dark as those of a stag-beetle.” Her mouth was twisted and the hair of her head reached to her knees over a grey wool mantle. Not knowing who this might be, but seeing that she looked like a witch, Conaire asked what foretelling she might have for them, and she replied: ?Neither fell nor flesh of the king and his house shall come from this place except that which the birds scavenge in their claws.” A little frightened at this, the king was about to shut the doorson her when the woman asked for admission to the hostel. Conaire remembered that it was one of his taboos that no person should ever enter a place where he resided after sunset, but he also knew that the laws of the hostel made it mandatory that she be allowed entrance. The creature who was admitted was the ill-omened Baobd or Mebd, the warrior-spirit of the Mhorrigan. Almost immediately an attack commenced: one of Desa’s sons rushed the hostel, but his head was cut off and flung back at the enemy. The pirates now fired the hostel, but this was put out from within with wine and the various liquids that happened to be stored within. At last Conaire and his supporters came out into the night, and the reavers and mooncussers were met and routed. But Conaire, suffering a terrible thirst from fighting, lay exhausted and sent a cup-bearer after water. By the time of his return the pirates had counterattacked and all were dead excepting Conal of the Victories, who alone bore the news to people at large. Thus it was that the Daoine sidh regained some ground for the losses that Midir had sustained many years earlier. 62

Conaire’s son-in-law, who was his namesake succeeded him because his son Art was still a child and ineligible for election. Conaire II was cheifly remembered as the father to the Cabri brothers, who were the first of the Scots to settle Alba. Art was entitled Aenfer, the Solitary, and ruled sometime between 180 A.D. and 250 A.D. It was said that he was not entirely of human blood his mother having been Bécuma Cneisgal, of the ?Fair Skin,” a resident of the Land of Promise. She had an affair with Gaiar, one of the sons of Manannn mac Ler, without asking permission. As a result she was banished from the west and evenually stumbled upon the Irish household of Conaire. She persuaded this gentleman to take her as a concubine but having given birth to Art, grew jealous of the relationship between father and son and took steps to try to have him banished from court. It has been guessed that Conaire’s falling out with the earth-goddess may have been partially connected with this mis-step. With the new ?goddess” in place the country grew progressively infertile and miserable. Failing at all the usual means of eliminating a rival Bécuma talked her son into playing a high-stakes game of fidchell, the fate-game also known as brandubh . She had no chance of losing since she had the assistance of two expert invisible masters. When Art lost, she was able to place him under the geis of taking on an imrama, a sea voayge which would ostensibly lead him to a bride named Delbchaem. This maiden was as beautiful as any of her kind, but was the daughter of Morgan, king of the Land of Wonder, and the husband of a giantess named Coichend , who just happened to be the most feared warrior woman in the west. It apperared that Bécuma would now have the king and his kingdom for herself. Art set out on the ocean but found his greatestest difficulties in the Otherworld where he was forced to overpower hideous toads, a river of ice, a giant, and the choice between two cups; one poisonous, the other harmless. Beyond all this he had to destroy the evil parents of his potential wife. This he managed and returned safely to Ireland, where he confronted the widowed Becuma forcing her to retire from court. This would appear to be another case of ?alls well that ends well,” but Art was deeply troubled by the duplicity of his mother and it was said that he lived a solitary life from that time, ?one largely silent to the end of his days.” The end came for him when he was killed by foreign mercenaries led by his nephew Lugaid, who had been exiled among the Picts. It has been suggested that Art may have beenintrospective because of the early loss of his two older brothers, Conla and Criona. The latter is supposed to have been eliminated while still a youth by one of Art’s uncles, but the former was involved in his own imrama: It is said that Conla ruaideach, of the ?fiery hair,” first saw intimations of his fate when he stood with his father Conn on the heights overlooking the Western Sea. There the two men were approached by a woman dressed entirely in white. Only Conla could see her and when heasked where she had come from, she replied, 63

?from?the Plains of the Ever Living, where there is no sin or death. There we holiday the whole year, in fact we have no need of holiday for each day is a joy. In all our pleasure we find no strife or immorality. And because some of us have our homes beneath the green mounds, men call us the sigh.”
The king and his company were greatly surprised to see Conla carrying on a conversation with ?empty air.” The king said, at last, ?With whom art thou talking?” At this the maidenn beacme apprent to him, saying, ?Conla speaks with me, whom neither age nor death can touch. I love your son, and I have come to call him away to Magh Mell, where Boadag (the old karl, a mate of the Badb) is king. That is the kingdom where there has been no complaint or sorrow sincethe elder days. Turning to Conla, the young maiden said,” Now Conla, come away with me. In the west a fairy crown awaits thy red head. Come, and I promise never will your present comliness fade, and your youth will last even until the last day of judgement.” The king fearful of this apparition, called his druid quietly to his side and asked for a spell than would drive this unwanted sigh back to her homeland. But the druid said, ?This is no mortal, and the task you set may be too great for my magic.” Nevertheless, he made the attempt, addressing his words to the place where the woman’s voice could be heard, although she remained invisible to most of the company. At these words the woman began to fade, but before she vanished threw a golden apple in Conla’s direcvtion. Impulsively he caught it, and would not release it from that time. It was said that the boy would not afterwards take food and drink, but would only chew at the apple, which regenerated itself as he ate. As he consumed the fairy-food there grew within him a lust for the fairymaiden, and at the end of a month, she again materialized before him and his father on the Plain of Arcomin, and again entreated him to travel with her to ?the Plain of All Pleasures.” Conn quickly called for his druid, but the maiden faced him saying: ?Oh, mighty Conn, of the Hundred Battles, the druid’s power is not to be loved, and has no honour whatever in the west amidst people who are upright. The Law will presently come, and when it does, the druid’s spells must fail, for they come from the lips of the black demon, whose power is nothing!” Seeing some truth in this, Conn turned to his son, asking what he wished, and the lad admitted that a longing for this maiden made her irresistable. When the visitor heard this she responded, ?The ocean is then not as strong as the waves of your longing? Come with me then in my curragh . Soon I promise we will sail within Boadag’s realm. I see the bright sun fall into the ocean; yet far as it is, we will be with it before dark. There I promise is a place worthy of your desires, a land always joyous to all who seek it. Only wives who are maidens dwell there, and there we will live together in joy.” When this speech was done nothing could hold Conla who rushed to the beach and sprang into ?a gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe.” As all the courtiers watched the :”canoe” glided effortlesssly away over the bright sea until it was lost at the setting of the sun. 64

Of all the ancient kings of Ireland, it is Cormac mac Art who is remembered as the greatest patron of the senachies and the historians of Ireland. Lugaid turned out to be a rude, ill-tempered high king, little mourned at his death. Cormac came and claimed his father’s throne, but at the investiture, a rival named Fergus Black-Tooth managed to accidently singe the young king’s beard giving him a blemish that disbarred him. The Black-Tooth became king for the year it took for Cormac’s face to heal, but he returned with an army and overthrew the usurper at Crionna on the Boyne. The Book of Ballymote says: ?There now came to kingship Cormac, and the world became replete with good things: food from the land, gifts from the sea. There were neither woundings nor robberies in his time.” Another ancient account adds: ?He was a king of great good judgement and Eirinn was prosperous in his day. Just judgements were made by him, and no man dare wound another, during the short jubilee of his seven years.” He did not always take wise council, and when his high steward persuaded him that the Munstermen paid too little in taxes he warred against them and was forced into a humiliating settlement when they defeated him in Limerick. On a personal level he was a good man. When he saw that his wife Ethne was taking advantage of his concubine Ciarnat, he said nothing in rebuke of his wife but introduced the first water wheel into Ireland so that the unfortunate girl could grind the amount of grain that the queen set for her. A deeply religious man Cormac rebuilt Tara and reinstated the house of virgins that had charge of the fires of Beul. Dunlaing mac Edna once broke into this sacred retreat and killed those in the grove, and for that Leinster was levied an additional tribute for the support of the Samhain and Beltane. It is claimed that the connections that Cormac’s father had had with the Otherworld were maintained and that his court, numbering more than 1000 paid staff members, welcomed visitors from all the lands: ?The Galls, Romans, Franks, Frisians, Albanians, Saxons, Cruithnians (Picts), for all these men came seeking him, and he repaid their interest with gold and silver, with steeds, and with presents of chariots. But they came not for these prizes but because none was more celebrated, more dignified, or more wise...” At his court Cormac entertained the ambassadors of Manann mac Ler and was himself invited to travel to the west. It is said that he was approached by an young man who appeared on the green of Tara, and given a silver branch heavy with nine red apples. When he asked the use of this artifact Cormac was told that when the branch was shaken it had the capacity to easy the pain of wounded men, women in childbirth and those enfeebled by illness of any kind. Cormac therefore asked if the branch was for sale, and was told that it could be available if the king was willing to pay the price. Without thinking what he said the king admitted that he would pay any price for such a useful tool. The youth then claimed the king’;s wife, his daughter and his son as payment, and Cormac was forced to comply. When the family 65

membbers learned that they would be separated from the father they were sorrowful, but Cormac shook the sigh branch amidst them causing them to forget all sorrow and care when the departed with the young man into the west. After a year of loneliness Cormac decided to attempot to trace his lost family. It is said that the king travelled ?through a dark magical mist” on a ?wondrous plain.” Emerging he found men busily erecting a house, whose roof was being thhatched with bird feathers, but as the workmen rode off to fetch additional feathers, one half of the roof, or the other, alternately flew away, so that it seemed the building project might go on forever. In another place Cormac watched a youth attempting to build a fire, but before he could fetch a second tree, the first was reduced to embers, so that he also seemed engaged in unending labour. Cormac journeyed on into this strange country and came, at last, two three wells, each covered by an immense stoine head. Nearby he spotted a sheiling and entering found ?a tall couple clad in many-hued garments.” They greeted the king and asked him to stay for the night. For food the country-man went hunting and returned with a wild boar, which he spitted and placed over a log in the floor hearth. When it came time to start the fire the stranger suggested that Cormac tell a true story, but the king suggested that the host tell one of his own, since the first story was by laws of hospitality the duty of one giving shelter . Thus the stranger said that the boar was one of seven similar swine and that these alone could provide enough flesh to feed the world. ?For if a pig is killed and if the bones are returned to the stye it will be seen to be alive by morning.” This seemed a fabrication, but the fire burst into roaring life and the first quarter of the pig was cooked. The woman of the house was next asked for her story and she said she possessed seven white cows able to give enough milk to satisfy all the people of the world. This was also a true story, and so the third quarter was cooked. Cormac was now required to tell a story which would cook his quarter of the animal, and he said that he was on imrama, a search for his wife, son and daughter who had been born away from him a year past by a fay-youth. At this the man of the house smiled as the fire burst into activity a third time.” Indeed, this is the truth, and now it appears we need company for this feast1” At those words a portal opened and the family of Cormac entered. ?It was I who was that youth,” said the older man, ?and I who led you into this, my kingdom. Eat now and drink!” And while they ate Manann mac Ler commented on the parables to be seen in the western lands: ?Those who thatched the roof with feathers, these were men who in in earlier time sought riches and fame to build their house. The young men dragging hopelessly upon trees, they are those who labour for others,; much trouble is their due, but they arte never able rto warm themselves at their own fires. The three heads at the well consist of one which passes 66

water and gets water; one which gets water but delivers none, and a third which receives water from the other two but gives up nothing, and this last is the worst of men.” When they had feasted Manann spread the table with a fresh cloth and said, ?Thiscovering may be asked for food and it will deliver to all deserving folk. From his belt he took a goblet and set it on the palm of his hand saying, ?This cup has virtue in that a false story will shatter it, and a true story make it whol;e again, and these shall be thy recompense for the bother you have had in coming to my domain. And when they had eaten and slept, and visited, they rose in the morning and found themselves transported back to Tara, and beside them were the promised objects as well as the silver branch, which was afterwards found to serve as a eye on the Otherworld, and a key to passage to that western place. The Fomorian treasures which Cormac possessed were lost to men after his death. Cormac’s daughter Gráinne became engaged to Fionn mac Cumhail with unfortunate consequences for all of Ireland. Oner of his sons, Cellach was slain by a Dési warrior named Aonghas for raping his daughter. In the process the butt of the man’s spear blighted the king by putting out one of his eyes. Cormac did not respond in kind, butb exiled that clan to Meath, which was regarded as their patrimony. These men were not satisfied with old land and allied themselves with the king of Munster who eventually settled them in Waterford, a place still associated with the Dési. Cormac retired to Cleite Acaill, on the Boyne, where he spent his time writing a book concerning the requirements of kinship, another dealing with criminal law, and a third treating ancient historic and genealogic information. Unfortunately the last book exists only as fragments quoted by later writers. Although Cormac died in the year 267, more than 150 years before the coming of Christianity to Ireland, and had great respect for the old ways, there is an ancient tract identifying him as the third Irish monarch converted to the beliefs of Christ before the coming of missionaries. Tradition says that the great king of the Irish requested that he should not be buried facing the gods of the west, as was the fashion with his ancestors interred at Brugh na Boann, but that he be placed in the earth of Ros na Riogh, looking east for the ?holy light that would soon make Erinn radiant.” Disregarding this nonsense, the druids of the court bore his body across the river to the Brugh but on the way a great wave swept down the river and carried his corpse to Ros na Riogh, and here his last wish was respected. There is a high probability that the Shetlands, the Orkneys, the West Isles and the Faeroes were reached and settled by sea-going Fomorians, and other races of more certain human extraction, before the Golden Age of the classical civilizations had come to the Mediterranean. Even with mythology we know less than we would like about these prehistoric men, but we can be certain they were out there on the ocean, showing as many navigational and survival skills as those now possessed by existing American aboriginal peoples. The Fomors, who were exiled to the far islands of the north must have been eventually supplanted, or at least 67

have had their gene pool altered, by the Firbolgs, the Tuathans, the Picts , the Scots and the Norse who followed them as refugees or pirates. Seamen by birth or breeding or circumstance, they must have been completely familiar with the sweep of magh mell, the ?great plain,” of the open sea by the opening of the historic period in the year 330 A.D. teaching justice, fortitude, forbearance to the red man, showing them how to improve their handicraft, ridding the woods and hills of monsters, and finally going up to heaven...He entered his stone canoe and began to rise in the air to the strains of melting music. Higher and higher he arose, the white vessel shimmering in the sunlight, until he disappeared in the spaces of the sky... Some say he now lives at the top of the earth, amid the ice, and there directs the sun. He has to live in a cold country because, if he were to return. he would set the ice on fire with his footsteps.”

Fionn mac Cumahil, a name frequently seen anglicized as Finn Mac Cool, was the southern equivalent of Cú chullain. His father was Cumhail of Clann Bascna, the first leader of the royal bodyguard to the high-king Conchobar mac Nessa. This organization entitled the Fiann was put together some seven hundred years after the defeat of the Tuathans on the orders of Fiachach ard-righ. They consisted of twenty-five battalions of men, and constituted a military élite, mainly drawn from back-country cernach of Clann Bascna and Clann Morna. A man named Cumhail was their first leader but their most prominant hero was Fionn mac cumhail , his 68

son. The king’s manadate said that this army was raised, ?To uphold justice, and put down injustice, particualarly that instigated by the lords and princes of the realm, and to guard harbours from foreign invasion.” These men were soldier in time of war and police in times of peace. They prevented and halted robberies, exacted fines and tributes, and put down public enemies all over Ireland. This ability was due to the fact that they were wood’s runners rather than cavalrymen, living upon the land from betwen Betlain and Samhain, camped in the open, living on the produce of the chase. During the long winter they bivouaced at the expense of the people. Notwithstanding, Fionn was a weakthy prince in his own right with a residence upon the Hill of Allen (Alma) in Kildare. The Fiann recruited at the times of the annual fairs and had extremely high physical standards for admission to their ranks. Fionn. like most Irish heroes had the blood of the Daoine sidh in his veins. His mother Murna was the grand-daughter of the ?god” named Nuada who was identified with the mortal named Cian Contje> It will be remembered that he impregnated Ethlinn the daughter of Balor, giving rise to the sun-god named Lugh. She had later marriedCumhail mac Trenmor, the head of clann Bascna, who became Fionn’s father. Unfortunately Murna’s father was the leader of the rival clann Morna and did not approve of the union. Cumhail was pursued and killed by members of clann Morna, and the wrathful grandfather would have eliminated his new grandson except that he was hidden with two ?woods-women.” As a youth, mac Cumhail, who wast at first named Demna, killed Lia, lord of Luchra, and recovered the magical treasure bag which had once been the chief possession of the Fiann. This bag was made from the skin of the air-demoness known as Aoife, who had been caught and killed in crane-form. The ?treasures” in question were all from the western sea-realm, and included the knife and shirt of Manannn mac Ler. These objects had the property of becoming visible at full tide and disappearing at the ebb. With this in hand, mac Cumhail sought out his uncle Crimmal who now held leadership of the Fiann. As Demna was not old enough to become a warrior-hunter, he was fostered to Finegas, a druid who dwelt near the Boyne where he had spent years attempting to catch the mythic Salmon of Knowledge whose name was Finntann. As mentioned earlier the apprenticedruid burnt his finger while cooking the salmon for his master, and accidently acquired the wisdom of the ages. Afterwards he was nicknamed the fionnar, or the ?finger cooler,” a name contracted as Fionn. Having defended the high king’s palace against an invading demon in a Beowulf-like episode, he was made head of the Fiann by Cormac mac Art. thus by-passing Goll of Clann Morna one of his traditional enemies. Although this private army was supposed to uphold the power of the ard righ, the oath of fealty of members was to their chief rather than to that more distant power. While mac Cumhail always supported his patron, he was less fond of his successor Cairbre Lifeachar and joined Breasil, king of Leinster in resisting the old Boru tribute. One reason for this revolt was Caibre’s open support for Clann Morna a Connaught off-shooot of the Fiann led by Aedh the Comely. 69

Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, Dermott of the Love-Spot,a son of Donn, was fostered with Aonghas. and thus went to live at Brugh na Boann. While he visited Aonghas to sort out the details of this fosterage, Donn discovered his wife had bedded with Roc, the steward to Aonghas. When a child was born out of wedlock, the jealous husband crushed the skull of this infant with a stone. Using Tuathan magic, Roc touched the baby with a magic wooden wand, and turned it into a living boar (the totem of the sun-god clan). Roc placed a geis thatthe man-beast should kill Diarmuid if he ever encountered him, and then released the animal into the forests surrounding Ben Bulben, County Sligo, where he awaited the weavings of the fates to complete his destiny. Diarmuid must have been reincarnated several times before emerging from his side to join the Fiann. Being a descendant of the Fomorians, Diarmuid had no trouble making the grade. Soon he was scavenging the woods for game with three new friends, Conan, Goll and Oscar. Once the four found themselves seeking shelter in a wood’s-hut inhabited by and elderly man, a young and beautiful girl, a sheep and a cat. When the four were offered food, the cat jumped onto the table andbegan to help itself from their plates. Each champion tried to brush it to the floor, but found that it was immoveable. The old man smile and wryly noted that the cat was death incarnate, and thus could not be moved by any living thing. The four champions then retired to sleep in the same room with the young girl. Seeing that she was a beauty, each of the males tried to proposition her, and she turned down all but Diarmuid. Apparently he came up to her expectations, for she said: ?I am Òighe, the goddess of ?youth,” (and the female counterpart of Òg) and I cannot stay with you forever but I place upon you the mark which no woman can see, but which all will perceive, and seeing will love you without reservation.” Thus originated the famous love spot of Diarmuid. The ?Chase of Gilla Dacar,” sometimes referred to as the ?Gruff Servant,” is one of the Fenian tales in which the handsome Diarmuid played a starring role. When the summer service of the Fionn was over, the army made its fall encampment at Knockany in Munster, three batallions being encamped here to live off the land by hunting. In the particular year that is of interest, Fiann appointed Conan as master of the camp, while Diarmuid was named the leader of the chase. Once while the principals of the hunt awaited the results of a chase by their hounds they were approached by a churl, ?a huge, ugly, misshapen fellow dragging along by brute force a great raw-boned, sway- acked mare.” It was noticed that his chest was ?as broad as a door,” and that he was ?wide-mouth, gap-toothed, with a head as shaggy as that of a wolf.” All in all, a presentable Fomorian giant! He carried an iron-mounted club, and when it banged against the horse’s side, she echoed like a hollow kettle. The horse’s ribs showed through a thoroughly flea-bitten hide. The horse looked so slight that every blow from the club seemed destined to cause it to fall sideways. This fellow announced that he wished to become a servant to the Fionn, and said he was 70

called the Gilla Daccar, or ?Hard Gilly,” because he was a stranger to obedience and service. The members of the Fionn laughed at this, but Fiann considered the stranger with a degree of seriousness, and finally, he was voted into the company. Conan was instructed to the lead the new servant’s animal to the commonland, but there it raised a commotion with the other steeds kicking and biting and snarling until there was total confusion on the grazing field. To ease this matter, Conan attempted to mount the nag to ride her out of the field. As he did so she fell to the ground with him in place and refused to rise. Laughing at this, the gillie suggested that a few others mount her, ?She’s not used to so little weight my lad!” Getting into the spirit of the mon=ment thirteen men mounted themselves behind Conan Baldhead, and suddenly, to everyones surprise, the mare sprung to her feet her bowed back becoming suddently horizontal. All the Fionn laughed uproariously at this scene but the gillie took offense and said,”The humans of Ireland need not mock my horse. It that’s the way its to be I’ll leave Ireland, and tell other Fomorians not to hire out to such uncivil men.” Before there could be any responnse to this, the gillie walked off bawling after his horse to follow. At first the pace was measured, but then it picked up, and the fourteen unfortunatyyes found themselves unable to detatch themselves from the back of this magical animal. As she ran, the hollows in her sides filled out, and she became a full-blooded white animal of majestic appearance. In the distance Fiann called his men to pursuit, but only Liagin the Swift made any advance on the galloping animal and her master. The chase terminated after the whole party burst into the ravines of Kerry, with the western ocean standing directly before them. Here it was thought that the gallop must end, but the mare galloped directly upon the sea. At this Liagin made a desparate grasp at the animal’s tail, and became the fifteenth man lost to the Fionn, for he could not release his grasp. Soon the seas-horse disappeared over the horizon, lost in the fabled regions of the west. Fiann and his warriors now consulted about their next move, and finally decided to outfit a sea-going craft to go in search of their abducted comrades. Some say that the men built a huge ocean-ready raft. ?Ewhen that was done they made sails out of their mantles, put on board venison, took water, and sailed out upon the great sea.” The time they were at sea varies from a single day to ?many days of voyaging,” the latter seeming a more likely period for any land not known to these folk. Their imrama took them, at last, to a cliff-faced landfall, which was beyond the climbing abilities of most men. Fiann and most of his men had to pause on the narrow beeaches ?to make ladders and hack out footholds.” Diarmuid being the most agile member of the crew, climbed the precipitous cliff using natural hand holds, and at the summit discovered a rough country with woods standing before a high mountain. Within the woods he discovered a well-worn path that led to a well. Seeing nobody about, he took a drinkingh-horn, dipped it into the well, and drank his fill. Almost immediately a warrior pushed his way out through the woods and challenged Diarmuid for drinking from his horn. Seeing no retreat from the man’s sword, Diarmuid pulled his own and began to fight. 71

Although the Champion of the Well was an experienced fighter he lacked Diarmuid’s stamina, and finally flung his sword into the well diving in after it. For two subsequent days, the Fionn hero hunted the nearby woods and returned at dusk for another draught of water, and an additional battle. In each case, Diarmuid tried to extend a hand in friendship, but thie knight wasalways hostile, and on the third ocassion, the Champion got his hands about Diarmuid’s waist and pulled him down into the deep. As the pair sank through the water, the human’s senses faeded, but he regained them as he was dragged upward through a water-soaked passageway ringed with stone, that ended in the courtyard of a fortress. Armed men stood all about him.

?keep this one captive,” demanded the Champion of the Well,”hopefully he may be the only Irish champion of the Fionn that the King of Sorca has been able to bring into action against me.”
As for Fiann, he and his men were all this time climbing the cliff, and at the top they came on signs of Diarmuid’s movements. They came at last to the well, where Diarmuid had been captured and here Fiann gave the cry of the Fionn hoping that Diarmuid might be able to answer. But he was in no position to respond if he did hear the rallying cry, and there came instead a sigh-chieftain who identified himself as Abartach, the ?Bold One,” the king of Sorca , the ?Bright Place.” ?I am threatened by the King ofTir Fo Thuinn, the ?Land Beneath the Flood,” he explained, ?the one who would take from me the treasures that make me supreme in this realm, the Great Spear, the Stone and the Cauldron of the Deep.” Hearing this Fiann said, ?Methinks you are the Gruff Gillie, why should I take sides against the King of the Undersea World against one who has stolen my comrades?” To this the king replied, ?Search deep in your memory for my name, I have a promise from your folks from an elder day.” Fiann did recall that his father had been one of those entertained in a distantr part of the western world, and recalled that the host had been Albartach. Thus, like Cu chullain , Fiann became the reluctant ally of a sigh-people. This settled the king of Sorca led men of the Fiann to a great cavern in the earth, and they entered passages and after a day’s travel by torchlight came to a fortress. There they were met with hospitality, but none of the retainers of Sorcasay anything concerning the fate of Diarmuid. In this interval, the hero with the love-spot lay unguarded but disarmed in courtyard of the king of the Land Under the Flood. While he slept, Diarmuid was approoached in a dream by Morag (the Mhorrigan), who introduced herself as the sister of the king of Donn, the ruler of the Land Under Waves. ?She was the one of the three colours - the whiteness of snow, the redness of blood, and the blackness of the raven that drinks the blood that has flowed on the snow. She was graceful in her stature and graceful in all her movements,” but apprently unaware of Diarmuid’s beauty-spot for she claimed to be in love withFiann.


?Take me to Fiann for I can aid your cause!” Diarmuid tended to believe her, but said he had know kowledge of where his leader was located. The lady being a boabd of considerable powers said that he was presently with the king of Sorca, and she led him by a secret passage from her brother’s realm to the place where the armies of his opposition were assembling. While the men of Sorcva prepared for war, Diarmuid placed Morag within a ring of shields under a magical rowan tree where she would be safe from her ?brother.”
In the battle neither army yielded until Diarmuid’s sword pierced the shield of Donn. With that done Abartach was declared the victor, and Fiann was led off to be introduced to Morag: ?When the harps played Morag chanted a poem meant for Fiann alone, and remembering that he had once been a bard, Fiann returned the compliment. Then the sighwoman turned to Fiann and said, enigmatically, ?I shall be with you in Ireland!” Considering this promise, Fiann made no further demand on the king for his services, but Conan demandedthe use of the mare of the ocean: ?Put fourteen women of this realm on her back, and let your own mare, who is queen of this place, bear up in the rear where Liagan was forced to hold, then return us all to our homeland.” The other fourteen who had been abducted cheered for this plan. the king of Sorca merely smiled and turned to Fiann saying, ?Look now upoon your men. When he did as he was told, the Fionn were no longer in a strange land but on the wide beach below the hills of Kerry. The people of the west gone. There was no sign of the fourteen handmaidens, but Fiann found at his sideMorag. ?He lifted the woman on his shield so that she could see her new home. And with shouts and songs they all marched inland to Fiann’s house which was on the hill at Alma. The sigh-woman in this tale is sometimes named Tasgaidh, loosely translated as ?Tasha,” but having the real-meaning of ?a treasury,” or ?depository for good things.” In any instance this story clearly represents another form of the rape of An Domhain, the treasure which was carried away being represented in this instance as the female spirit of the deep. Morag may also confer with another woman possessed by Fionn, namely Sadb, a daughter of Boabd Dearg. Her name translates as the ?straying-” or ?lounging-onne.” She was supposedly shape-changed into a fawn by the ?Dark Druid” for some unspecified offense. One day while Fionn was hunting near his home fortress he came across her in this form and kept her from being killed by hounds. That night she appeared to her rescuer in human form, and became his mistress. They lived happily for a while, but the Dark Druid hearing she had been released from her spell, pursued her and made certain that she had no further relations with Fionn. Fionn searched Ireland attempting to recover her, but at Ben Bulben came upon a naked boy reputedly raised by a doe. Fionn recognbized him as his own son by Sabd and called him Oisin or ?Little Fawn.” One can guess that the ?Dark Druid” was Donn who tracked the lady for her duplicity in the battles of the Fiann with the king of the Land Under the Flood. Oisin, the ?Cornerstone,” became, in his day, the most famous bard in Ireland, as well as a redoubtable warrior. On a summer morning this champion of the Fiann was standing with 73

his father on the shores of Loch Lena, when they saw riding along the strand a maiden riding a snow white steed, like those seen in the kingdom of Manann. It was said that she wore a dark brown mantle that had the look of silk, and that the material was set with stars of metallic red gold. She wore a golden crown on her head and a crest of gold nodded on her horse’s head, while his hoofs were shod with silver. When she had come near Fionn asked her name, and she responded saying, ?I am Nèamh (Heaven, the Scared Grove), she of the Golden Hair, and what brings me here is the love of this man Oisin.” Turning to Oisin she asked if he was ready to depart with her to her father’s land in the west, and he replied, ?That I will, and to the ends of the world if thou wish it!” And it was said that he cared no more for earthly things so vital was the fairy spell which she proojected. Then the two men stood transfixed as she spoke of Tir Tairnigri, the ?Land of Promise.” Afterwards Fionn tried to recall all that was said on that breathless morning, and recalled that what had passed went something like this:

Delightful in promise is this land beyond all dreams, Fairer than any thine eyes have ever seen. There all year about fruit falls from the tree, And all the year long the bloom is on the flower. There with wild honey drip the forest trees; The stores of wine and mead shall never fail. Nor pain nor sickness known the dweller there, Death and decay come near him never more. The feast cloys not, of chase none tire, Nor music ceases though forever through the halls; The gold and jewels of the Land of Youth Outshine every treasure of this world of men. Thou shald have horses of the sigh-breed. Thou shall have hounds that run down the wind; A hundred chiefs shall follow thee in war, A hundred maidens sing thee to thy sleep. The crown of sovranty thy brow shall bear, And by thy side a magic blade shall hang, And thou shalt be lord of all the Land of Youth And Lord of Neamh who wears the golden crown. Before any further words could pass,Neamh turned her sigh-horse in the direction of the setting sun, shook the bells of the bridle, took up her man with her strong left arm, and fled 74

down the wind. Although Oisin was never again seen by his father his association with men was not at an end. It is written that when the white horse of the sea reached the western ocean, it ran lightly upon that great plain away from Ireland. As they approached the distant sun,, it shone more fiercely, and the riders passed into a yellow haze in which Oisin lost all sense of time and place. At that, dream like images floated by on either side: towers and palace gateways ebbed and flowed, and once a hornless deer-like animal chased by a white hound with one red ear was seen. Again, the travellers saw a young maid ride by on the water upon another white sea-horse, her left hand bearing a golden apple. Afdter her their came a young horseman on a third white horse, his purple cloak floating soundlessly behind him on the wind. Oisin asked Neamh who these persons were and where they journeyed, but the golden-haired one warned him that such questions were dangerous, and that it was better for passers-by to ignore the phantoms they perceived on the way to the Land of Youth. In the Land itself Oisin was the hero in many adventures as his princess had promised: He once rescued a beautiful maiden from the keep of an evil Fomor and begat several male children by the princess of that far land including the far-famed Plur na mBan, the ?Flower of Women.” After what seemed to him to be three weeks of intensive senusual delights, Oisin expressed his wish to be returned to Ireland so that he could visit his father and his old comrades. Neamh agreed on the promise that he would eventually return to the west, but she cautioned him that things might not be exactly as he had left them. With that she made him the loan of a white horse, suggesting that he remain mounted while in the land of men. In that country he found nothing of the Fiann or the world he had known and at last came to the suspicion that several hundred years of time had elapsed in the east in what had seemed to him less than a month. There seeking to help some workers remove a stone from a field, he fell upon the earth, and immediately aged. In Christian versions of the tale it was said that Oisin met and was entertained by Saint Patrick but he was never converted to the new religion, and presumably returned to Tir Tairnigri when he died. Something of Cu chullain’s troubles with the side-hill folk is preserved in ?The Chase of Slievegallion, which features Morag in a similar form: Here we are again introduced to Culann the Smith, who is often taken as the human form of Manann mac Ler or his father Ler. He was said to reside within the sidh of Slievegallion, the ?Hewn Out Way of the Stranger.” It was this”god-giant” who had his guard dog strangled by the young Setana who was afterwards nicknamed Cu chullain. In the Fenian version of the tale this Tuathan-Fomorian divinty had two daughters, Aoine and Milucra , both in love with Fionn. As Ellis has said ?Aine has been identified with Anu, mother of the gods, as well as with MÓrrigán, goddess of battles.” He thought these identifications were ?suspect,” but it would appear that all the once separate (and local) deities have actually become thoroughly confounded in the annals of folklore. In any event, the youthful Aoine once admitted that she had no interest in white-haired 75

men and her sisterMilucra saw this as a means of having Fionn for herself. According to this tale, the Fionn were at the hunt when they came upon a doe near the Hill of Allen, and ran it northwards until it was forced onto Slievenamon, the ?Holy Hill,” a vertible focal point of Tuathan magic, a place very similar to Hugh’s Hill in legendary lore. Fionn alone saw the doe disappear into the mountain-side, and it was he who encountered the weeping lady of the mountain. She claimed to have lost a golden ring in a nearby lake and asked Fionn to find it for her. He tried and at last succeeded, at which the lady plunged into the lake and disappeared. Fionn then saw that the waters had been magically charged agianst him for his youth had fled, and he was so feeble and ancient that his hounds failed to recognize him. When the chase party caught up with Fionn his voice was so weakened he could barely whisper his identity. Fionn said he thought he recognized the perpetuator of his misfortune as Milucra of Slievegallion. The Fiann, therefore, placed their leader on a litter and carried him to that side, where they began to dig. Like others before them, they eventually penetrated the gates of the Otherworld, where they were met by a maiden carrying a drinking horn of red gold. She was Aoine, the goddess of love and youth, and thefirst from the cup restored him, but left his hair white. It is said that Fionn’s hair colour would have been returned with another sip, but he was content to be young again and turned away with prematurely grey hair. At Slievegallion there is an antique standing stone on the mountain-top, which the locals used to avoid as the dwelling place of the Baobd or ?Witch” of the Lake. Although the place was not often visited a mysterious beaten path, worn by inhuman feet, is still seen to lead from the lake-side up the mountain to the standing-stone. Fionn’s failure to accept the second draught from the drinking horn was tantramount to having other love interests, and the fay-woman were exceptionally jealous beings. It was often said thathe Mhorrigan or Samh, the summer goddess, was herself a fickle virgin, and would not vest her soveranty on any man for a long spell of time. It was this lady who sent three Fomorian giants in secret to Ireland to strike down Fionn and rub out this insult. The following story, recounted by J.G. Campbell is folklore and not recorded in the Ultonian cycle: Fionn was supposedly encamped with his men at the Hill of Howth, in Alba, when they saw a boat emerging from the west ?with all the blackness of a shower.” While they watched the ship was drawn ashore to seven times its length and a sheiling built at the sea-side. Observing that the building which was put up was of a much finer craftmanship than was general for Ireland, Fionn went down to see what was afoot, and was surpriseed to find three Fomors. When he asked about their mission in Ireland they openly replied that the King of the West had sent them to do open combat with the Fiann. Mac Cumhail was surprised to here this since he had parted from the west leavingt hose people as allies. When the giants asked if Fiann was in the region, he said ?Probably not!” and retired leaving the big fellows pinned down by an enchantment which prevented them from leaving the general area util they saw him a second time.


Thinking it best to check matters with Abartach, Finn launched his one-man coracle on the sea and hoisted ?the spotted towering sales” to the wind. After landing in the far country, Fionn was picked up by a man questing after a dwarf for the king. At the court , he and his dog Bran made spectacular entertainment, but came to be most appreciated by the king for overcoming ?a great Monster who wants my daughter and half my kingdom to himdelf.” The creature that was taken down was much like the Anglo-Saxon Grendel, destroyed by Beowulf, but in this version of the tale, it was the dog and his ?venomous boots,” that did in the sea-creature, ?he struck the monster on his breast bone and took the heart and lungs out of him.” The father of this creature showed up for battle on a subsequent night, and this time Bran was a more reluctant assassin, but he did accomplish what Fionn was unable to do in single combat. On a third night the mother of all evil appeared looking for satisfaction, but again this hag was puit down with poison. The king recognizing the fact that he hosted a great eastern hero asked the name of his guest and was pleased to hear that he entertained the renowned Fionn mac Cumhal. For his part Fionn was surprised that no mention was made of any vendetta, and when he asked why he was pursued by three Fomorian warriors, the king of the west explained that these ?heroes” were not his men, but those of three sigh ladies (the Bas-finne) from another place. Although the king of the big men could not recall these warriors he was able to tell Fionn that the three had given their lovers shirts which gave them the strength of a hundred men, and that it would be advisable to approach them at night when their shirts were removed. Fionn was now given every honour and allowed to depart. Just as he was pulling away, three sigh men seeking work appeared at the quay, and they were hired to relieve the problems in managing an ocean-going coracle single-handed. Back in Ireland, Fionn was able to make immediate use of the individual skills of these men, for the soothsayer was able to tell him that the Fomorian giants were bedded down for the night, while the thief was able to relieve them of their magic-shirts by being taken up to the roof by the climber. There he slid down through the chimney opening and stole away before the light of day. At first light Fionn apppeared at the door of the giants beating on his shield for attention and as a challenge. Seeing that they were not outfitted to beat down their opponent, the Fomorians admitted their inability to do combat and their connection with the Mhorrigan and begged forgiveness. Fionn swore them to the Fiann and they proved faithful to his cause from that time on. Fionn mac cumhail became betrothed in his middle age to Gráinne, the daughter of Cormac ard-righ, and the Fionn accompanied him to his wedding ferast 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 77

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 elduding Fionn’s hounds, and finding the next badger hole where they could hide. In flight, he was faced with an imahge 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 p[assageway, 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 Deidu, the chief cousellor and spy ofFionn. 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 ribble in those days. Diarmuid only agrred 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 woved through the ranks of the Fiann ?as a wolf through a flock of uncertain sheep.” Afterwards, when Fionn searched through the huge mounds of dead, he found nnothing of his long time adversary. The head of the Fiann 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 selfconfidence, 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, theFiann 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 Fiann 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 Fi ann came up to him, it was obvious that their leader was in a good mood for he said: ?Here lies , the irresitable, 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 Fiann had the power to restore it by bringing a victim of hurt water in his two hands. Although a well of water was not 78

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 Fiann for their leader, and it was said that the keep at Alma became a cheerless place. Nevertheless, after a year, Fiann 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 haed in shame.” Nevertheless, it was never said that the soveranty of earth-goddesses was fair and just and the two remained wedded until death, but it was said that ?the spirit was out of the Fionn.” Under a new leader, Cormac’s son, who was named Cairbre stirred against them, 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. Men who held power cohabited with the soveran bride of Ireland and another of these was the Fenian hero named Oscar, the ?Deer-kin.” This name was given tohim because his grand-mother was the shape-changing deer-woman named Sadb. He was described as the mightiest warrior of all the Fiann, a man with a heart,”like twisted horn sheathed in steel.” As a youth he had been impossibly uncoordinated, so that the Fiann usually refused to take him on their expeditions. One day, however, he followed the troop, and found them falling back before their enemies. He seized a piece of wood and went into a battle frenzy in which he killed two opposing kings and his own friend Linné . After that, he was given command of a battalion which was given the name ?The Terrible Broom,” because it swept all enemies before it. Oscar lived to hear of the departure of his fatherOisin for the west, and saw the death of Fionn mac Cumhail. Some say that his grandfather was killed putting down an internal revolt, but others claimed that he was not killed but retired to a long sleep in a cavern, from which he would rise when some great terror fell upon the future of his people. In any event the Fiann were now opposed by the new high-king, a man whose name was Cairbre. His dasughter Sgeimh Solais, the ?Light of Beauty,” was about to be wed to the son of the king of the Dési. The Fiann demanded their usual tribute of twenty ingots of gold for ?travelling expenses,” so that they might attend the ceremony, but the king refused calling upon clann Morna to help him break the power of this great private army. Cairbre had personal command of the Morna, while the Fiann , who were largely drawn from clann Bascna , marched under Oscar. The two men met in single conflict to their mutual destruction. It was claimed that Fionn afterwards appeared upon the battlefield ?in a ship” to 79

lament the death of his grandson. This can onlyhave been the craft of Manann mac Ler, which could sail the furrows of the earth as easily as it crested the waves of the ocean. When all was over it was said that there was hardly a man, or a boy, left alive in Ireland, but whatever the losses of Cairbre he had his posthumous wish for the Fiann na h-Eireann were gone forever. After Oisin’s departure for the Otherworld, his post of chief bard was filled by Caoilte, the ?Thin man,” a cousin of Fionn. In some of the tales he is given as the warrior who struck down Ler when the Fiann assisted Midir in his war against the northerners and Boabbd Dearg. After the destruction of the Fionn he was forced to take refuge in a souterrain of the Daoine sidh. In a late Christian embellishment Caoilte , like Oisin, was forced to return to the world of men so that he could meet and be influenced by Saint Patrick.

Ptolmey had confidently stated that there were no less than 27,000 islands just beyond the Pillars of Hercules. He guessed that those in the western Atlantic might prove ?uncountable.” At first there were few men who wished to undertake the task, for Christians understood that the medieval name for the Atlantic Mare Tenebrosum, ?The Sea of Darkness,” was almost an injunction. The Arabic name al Bahr al-Muzlim, ?the Dark Sea,” was scarcely more encouraging for Muslims, as it reminded these men of the ?state of darkness” in the minds of unbelievers: ?that depth is that of the vast ocean, overwhelmed by billows, topped by waves, overriden by the darkest clouds, all amidst depths of darkness, each layered on that beneath.” It is perhaps fortunate that men of less hardened beliefs came to inhabit the islands at the edge of the known world. The sea-going Celts named the broad-sea, as they saw it, the cuan-mor, ?the Great Harbour.” Even the Gaelic muir, the sea, has positive connotations as it appears in mor: ?great, famed, famous, a good spear-thrower.” For Christians, the Latin word tenebrosum, a superlative for a prison, evoked images of the Prince of Darkness. The Gaels saw the open-ocean in another light, often naming it the muir-uaine, the fertile. ?green” or wet sea. The Celtæ were mentioned in third and fourth century Latin histories as a transalpine people, sometimes identified as the Hyperboreans or Gauls. Their name may be from their own language forms; thus, the Gaelic céile, a fellow, a member of a society. This was the Welsh cilydd, found in the Brythonic tongue as keiljo, a way-farer or traveller. The word is noted as similar to the the Latin celsus, high, and the Enghhlish word excel. This is, less flatteringly, the AnngloSaxon hild, war, and the Norse heldr, people of the death-goddess Hel. The Celate were probably ?smiters,” and their name relates to war by ceilt, or concealment. This Gaelic word also refers to bronze axe-heads, for these warriors were also woodsmen. Note also the related English word kilt. Currently, there is no reference to the lands of the Celtae as was once the case on the oldest maps. The word is now understood as a linguistic rather than a racial or tribal name. Although no historic notice was taken of these people, who shared a common vocabulary of words but had various dialects, until 900 B.C., it si known that they were skilled in metal work, 80

and perhaps the first to use iron (the word is the Old Irish iarn, which was later borrowed into the Germanic tongues). This metal was new to the classical world in a day when the Celts were routinely using it to cut trails through the seemingly impassable forests of Europe and Asia. The old Gaelic word sligim. I hew, still appears in slighe, the modern Gaelic word for road. The state of these roads may be guessed in the related English word slough. These were the first corduroy roads, essentially log-filled bogs. When the Romans came upon these tracks through the wilderness, they upgraded them by covering them with pavements of stone. It has always been thought that the Celts were settled somewhere about the River Don, their villages making a great arc which ran from there to Galatia (Ankara, Turkey). There was never a state, as such, the individual settlements being perversely individualistic. Scholars now think that the Celts arrived in Britain between 2,000 and 1,000 B.C., their last major infux coming in the second century B.C. They may have been more widely distributed than was formerly thought for the mummies of Xinjiang, China are decidely Caucasian and have features which attach them to these early horsemen. Xinjiang is near the Chinese city of Ürümqi in central Asia. The hundred or so corpses which have been brought there in the past sixteen years by archaeologists are astonishingly well preserved. They come from the northwest of Chgina at the southern fringe of the Taklimakan Desert. Unlike the mummies of Eqypt these are the remains of ordinary people, preserved by the heat of a parched, stony place. Until very recently, scholars have been loathe to accept the idea that ancient men travelled over vast distances by land and sea, and Chinese historians have liked to represent themselves as peoples apart, civilized through their own efforts, uncorrupted by western influences. Nevertheless, these Caucasians, blond or red-haired, long-nosed, with deep-set eyes and narrow brain cases, are referred to in Chinese texts of the second century B.C. as the Yuezhi or Wusan, and the earliest remain, that of ?the woman in yellow,” has been dated to the year 4000 B.C., a time when even Babylonia was nothing more than a developing flood-plain. Excavated from the Peaccock River region she still wears a shroud woven from wool and a felt cap, like that favoured by later residents of the north of Europe. The Chinese texts make it clear that these people were troublesome intruders, but a few arachaeologists have begun to suspect that these ?barbarians” introduced the Chinese to such basic ?civilizing” influences as the wheel and objects made from metals. It is not only the physical attributes of tthese people that mark them as westerners, for many of the mummies wear woolen garmets, woven from sheep or goats. Despite the crudeness of the fibres, they are beautifully dyed in green, blue and brown ?so as to make a plaid design.” Plaid designs were never unique to Celtic-speakers, but they are decidely European, as is the twill-weave, indicating the use of ?a rather sophisticated loom.” Like the Celts, the mummified folk had the use of a distinctive three-part wheel, identical with wheels found spead across Europe, dating as far back as the year 3,000 B.C. Most archaeologists think that the birth-place of horse-drawn vehicles was the Ukraine; wheeled chariots do not seem to have been used in China until 1,800 years later. The Xinjiang people were definitely horsemen since the burial sites have turned up wooden bits, leather reins and a 81

horsewhip. With the remains researchers even found wooden cheek-pieces for a horse, all decorated with images of the sun. At Subashi, a related site, turned up a leather saddle. It will never be positively known that these people were related to the Celts, but the extinct Torchian language of central Asia is known to have Indo-European roots, and cavepaintings of them show knights carrying long western-style swords beneath their full red beards and long Caucasian faces. The major ethic group of that region today are the Uygurs, people with an unusaul degree of fair complexions and red hair for a Chinese tribe. Asuide from the distinctive hair colour therte are certain attributes of the mummies that show distinctive Celtic traditions: One of the oldest corpses unearthed was the so-called Loulan mummie, a 40-year old female with a single feather decorating her hood. The use of feathers is a well known Irish way of designating rank; the chieftain being allowed three feathers, and minor princes and their mates one or two feathers. Again a three month old infant was found with stones weighting its eyelids, an well known Gaelic ruse for preventing reflections of those foredoomed to death in the eyes of a corpse. The clothing worn by Cherchin man includes a red and ble cord twisted about the right wrist, another ward against evil. The burial boots are red, orange and blue, the colours preferred by the warrior-magicians known as the Tuatha daoine. Finally, there is the Tubashi woman, a 2,300 year-old female found interred next to her mate. She was found with an extraordinary two and one half-foot cone-shaped felt hat with a broad rim. As ?Discover” magazine writer Evan Haddington has said, such eccentric headgear was widely worn by women and men in some of the Asiatic tribes, but this does not mean it is not attached to the Welsh headgear of the century just past. The witch hat is actually inappropriately named, since the witch was never a part of Celtic tradition. The Celts obviously moved about long before they pushed into southern Europe and Asia in the third century B.C. During the sixth century, they had extensively settled northern Italy and were constantly at odds with the interests of the Romans. In 390 B.C. some of them conquered Rome itself, and it was not until 345 B.C. that the Latins had regrouped enough to retake their independence. The Italian Celts (Cisalpine Gauls) remained distinctive until 196 B.C. when they were finally absorbed by the Romans. Many writers were, from this time, of Celtic background, most notably Virgil, Gallus, Cornelius, Nepos and Trogus Pompeius. In 280 B.C., Celtic ?barbarians” made a similar sweep into the Greek States and sacked Apollo’s Oracle at Delphi. They even marched against Eqypt in the reign of Ptolmey II. Although Julius Caesar was interested in subduing the British Celts, he contained rather than conquered them and Ireland and distant Scotalnd were never incorporated into the Empire. The loose Celtic confederation was smashed by Romans and later by the expanding English and French empires. Nevertheless, there are said to be 2,500,000 people still using some form of Celtic vocabulary and syntax. The two basic linguistic groups of Greater and Lesser Britain, Brythonic and Goidelic, are thought to have diverged about 2,500 years ago, so there were Celts living on the western islands closest the continent by this date. The first visitors to Britain from the east may have been reluctant sailors for legend says that they were the kin of Bith, a son of Noah, and the father of Lady Caissir. This family failed to take Noah’s advice but when they saw the advancing waters took a sailing ship out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic, hoping to survive and recreate a kingdom on one of the islands. The lady had fifty damsels ?to solace her warriors three.” One of them died of too much 82

?solace,” and the rest of the expedition was caught in the floodwaters and drowned within forty days of their arrival, the exception being Tul-tunna, sometimes called Finntann, who lived through the flood in a ?flood-barrel” anchored to a mountain top. Having passed his ?best used before date,” this man became a virtual immortal, his presence overlooked by the basfinne, the deathmaidens, or fates, who never admitted to any mistakes in the conduct of their business. There are some versions of this legend that contend that Finntann survived by shape-changing into a salmon.
The next arrivals after the flood were supposedly led by Partholon, a Gaelic form for the Latin Partholomoeus, also written Bartholomoeus, and currently Bartholomew. He and his crew of sailor-mercenaries are supposed to have arrived 278 years after the waters receded. This is a pre-Celtic name for there is no use of the letter "p" at the beginning of any other Gaelic name. This family continues to be represented in Clan Macfarlane or Macfarland. A number of linguists have suggested that the name has links with the Spanish Bar Tolmen, a character in their legends but others think they may have come to Ireland from the west rather than the east. T.W. Rolleston says they came from that quarter by way of the "unsailed Atlantic" from "the Land of the Happy Dead", sometimes referred to as Magh Mell, the Great Plain of the Sea. King Partholan travelled with his father Sera and his queen, Dalny and other companions of both sexes. When they arrived in Ireland they immediately set about land "improvement" on a large scale. We are told that Ireland in antiquity consisted of a single plain, holding only three lakes and nine rivers. This number was increased as the newcomers dammed waterways. At least one new lake burst to the surface from underground caverns as the Partholonians were digging a grave for one of the King's sons; this was afterwards called Lake Rury after the dead man. The Partholonians found the land thinly inhabited by a savage race which the Celts called variously the Fomhoraicec, the Formagh, the Fomoraig Afraic, or Fomors. The word, in its most complete form, was derived by combining the Gaelic fo + mor + aigeen. This has the sense of under + sea + deep; the undersea folk who live in the deep. They possessed "a fleet of sixty ships and a strong army." Historians, such as Seumas McManus, presumed they sailed out of Africa, as one adjective seems to suggest. The original form of "afraic" was, however, not the name of a country but "aparr", designating a military expert. It relates to the Gaelic "aparsaig", a knapsack or haversack and to those who carried such bundles from "afar." The original source is quite likely the Latin "aparte", meaning that which is "apart" from the usual. Ignatius Donnelly has suggested that the word was once a synonym for "western." If this is so, the Fomorians were not originally inhabitants of the sub-continent but of a land in the Atlantic if not under it. Partholan's people fought the Fomors to a draw and settled themselves at present-day Tallaght, on the west slope of Dublin Mountain near the Dodder River. Ireland's history might have been different had they spread from that beginning, but the place is notorious as the site of the first plague in Ireland, an event which killed nine thousand people in a single week. It was said that a mass burial took place, and one can see raised hills about the village in support this legend. With these newcomers weakened, the Fomorians attacked them and drove them from the isles. 83

The sea-going Nemedians were next to take an interest in the Fomorian island of Hibernia or Ireland. It was said that they were related to the Partholonians and came, like them, "from the mysterious regions of the dead." Rolleston says that Christian scholars, embarrassed by this thoroughly pagan connection for the patriarchs of Ireland gave the newcomers a Christian lineage and claimed they sailed out of Spain or from one of the patently human ports on the Mediterranean. At any rate, when these pirates arrived in Ireland they were not driven by flood waters: "As they sailed (westward) there appeared to them a golden tower on the sea close by. Thus it was: when the sea was in ebb the tower appeared above it , and when it flowed in it rose above the tower. Nemed went with his people towards it for greed of gold." This was a poor beginning for the Nemedians and the Fomors, who afterwards remained in constant warfare. In all, Nemed fought four successful campaigns against them, afterwards "improving" the land by making new lakes and clearing twelve separate plains. Unfortunately, history repeated itself, and the Nemedians were also afflicted by a disease in which two thousand people died. The Fomorians afterwards established a tyranny over the Nemedians demanding two-third of their produce and the sacrifice of equal proportion of their children to the ancient gods of the ocean. The Partholonians had been opposed by the Fomorian king Cenchos (Footless), who by this time had died leaving his land kingdoms to the kings Morc and Conan. The stronghold of the Fomorians was on Tory Island off the northwestern coast, and here the Nemedians led an invading force which captured Conan's Tower and took King Conan hostage. At a decisive moment in the battle Morc arrived with a fresh sea-host and routed the invaders. The men of Erin were all at the battle After the Fomorians came; All of them the sea engulfed, Save only three times ten. Poem, Eochy O'Fiann, ca. 960 A.D. The Fomorians were almost as badly damaged, but the thirty male survivors and the women and children of the Nemedians were forced to retreat from Hibernia. Rolleston thinks they left no descendants in the British Isles, but other scholars claim they returned and established themselves in England under the leadership of a leader named Britto. Those of the latter persuasion say that a few of these tribesmen recrossed the Irish Sea to became represented in mythology as the Firbolgs and the Tuatha daoine. Rolleston is certain that this was not the case: "(The historian) Nennius says that they came from Spain, for according to him all the races that inhabited Ireland came from Spain (but) Spain for him was a rationalistic rendering 23 of the Celtic words designating the Land of the Dead.


See also De Jubainville, Irish Mythological Cycle, p. 75. 84

The next invaders came in three waves, the Firbolgean the Fir-Domnan and the Galionin, all more generally designated as the Firbolgs. It is a matter of record that one of their kings, Eochaid mac Erc, was married to Taltiu, or Telta, daughter of "the King of the Great Plain", the Land of the Dead and the homeland of the Fomorians. She is sometimes also represented as the mate of Manan mac Ler (a Fomorian sea-god) and as the foster mother to the great culture-hero named Lugh of the Long Arm. Whatever their connections with "sea-giants" the Firbolgs had to fight them off and they seemed to have managed this out of sheer numerical superiority. According to Leabhar Gabhala, The Book of Invasions, the next arrivals were the Tuatha danann, "the folk of the god whose mother is Danu, or Anu." Danu is spoken of as the matriarch of the Tuathans, the sister-consort of the god Dagda. She is also anciently identified as Bridd, or the Bride, later as Brigit or even Saint Brigit. Padraic Colum says this race of "wizard-warriors" was not from Mediterranean, but originally lived "in the northern isles of the world, learning lore and magic and druidism and wizardry and cunning until they surpassed the sages of heathendom. There were four cities in which they learned their lore and science and diabolical arts, to wit, Falias and Gorias, Murias and Findias. Out of Falias was brought the Stone of Fal, which was in Tara. It used to roar under every king that would (legitimately) take the realm of Ireland. Out of Gorias was brought the Spear that Lugh had. No battle was ever won against it or him who held it in his hand. Out of Findias was brought the Sword of Nuada. When it was drawn from its deadly sheath, no one ever escaped from it, and it was said irresistible. Out of Murias was brought Dagda's Cauldron. No company ever went from it unthankful." The Firbolgs were uncertain where the Tuathans came from as they were "wafted into the land on a magic cloud" (probably sea-fog). They were first noticed encamped in western Connaught where they were approached by a Firbolg scout. They soon made it clear that they intended to take the land and managed this in two battles that took place in County Mayo. They were afterwards undisputed rulers of the island kingdom but their king, Nuada had the misfortune to lose his right hand in battle. By law no man could serve in this position if he suffered a physical "blemish". As a result an election was held which resulted in the installation of Bres as the next high-king. Bres was the son of a woman named Eri, but his father was unknown to him and the public at large. Bres, "a strong and beautiful hero" proved parsimonious and unable to contain the piracy and illegal taxation which the Fomorians imposed on his people. He was finally deposed, but retreating to the arms of his mother learned that his father had been King Elathu, a Fomorian chieftain based in the Hebrides. He obtained his help and that of Balor "of the Evil Eye", the leader of the Fomorians on Tory Island, in an attempt to regain the kingship. Balor had the ability to kill men by projecting his spirit outward through his single eye, but the Tuathans received unexpected help from the reincarnate god, Lugh of the Long Arm, reborn as the son of Balor's own daughter and a Tuathan called Kian of Contje. In preparing for the battle it is recorded that the Tuathans summoned every available fighting man as well as their magicians. The latter promised that they would cast the twelve mountains of Ireland upon the heads of the Fomors, caused fire-showers to fall upon them and weaken them by binding the urine in their bodies and those of their horses. The physician Diancecht (the father 85

of Kian) promised to revive the dead who were slain in battle by placing them within Dagda's cauldron of regeneration. In the battle the Tuathans as first died by the thousands from the "venomous fumes" that issued from the eye of Balor, but Lugh ended that by casting a "dart" at him "which carried the eye out through the back of his head." After that the Fomorians were slain in numbers that rivalled "the stars in heaven, the flakes of a winter's snow, or grass beneath the herds of cows." Beaten back into the sea they were never a further trouble to "mankind". Most retreated to the islands of Scotland or to places even further west or north and there they remained until a much later time when a few of their number repopulated Connaught and mixed with the Irish population. The leader of the Fomorian forces at this time of defeat was King Breas, and from him we have the Island of Breas, far out on the western ocean-sea. The fifth invasion was that of the Milesians, the sons of Mil, who were the first identifiable Celtic-speaking people. They were originally residents of Scythia who were temporarily located on the European mainland, opposite Britain, about the year 1000 B.C. Like others before them, they were in pursuit of their "Isle of Destiny." Advancing on Tara, following the beaching of their boats, the Milesians met a Tuathan host and demanded that they surrender the land. They of course refused, and a great battle was met at Taillte (now Telltown) in which the bronze weapons of the Tuatha danann proved unequal to the iron-age swords and spears of the newcomers. When the Tuatha danann realized that they were finished it is recorded that some of their number fled into the remote hills, where they became entitled the Dannan sidh, or side-hill folk, the prototypes of the Irish "fairies." Others fled to Scotland and the Hebrides, but the largest group met at the mouth of the River Boyne with Manann mac Ler, the Fomorian sea-king, whose name still rests on the Isle of Man and on Castle Manann, Ireland. In return for their pledge of allegiance to his father Ler, the elemental god of the ocean, Manann gave the Tuathans cloaks of invisibility and transported some to the island of Hy Breas-il far off in the western Atlantic. The origins of the Tuatha daoine have been as hazy as the fog that brought them to Ireland, but the name of this tribe tells all: It was said that the god-men not have been Celticspeakers, but we know they were able to parlay with the Firbolgs who shared their language. The word tuath has vanished from Irish Gaelic but in the Erse tongue of Scotland it is still used to indicate people or a population. Interestingly, related words are found all across Europe, viz.: the Welsh tud; Cornish tus; Brythonic tud; Gaullish, tout (the French word ?all”); and the Germanic Teuton which relates to both Deutsch and Dutch. These confer with the Latin totus, ?all (here gathered).” Beyond this is another element not deeply buried: Notice that the Gaelic form is twopart tua tha? The latter word, sometimes given as ta is a form of affirmation, the full form being taim, ?I am.” Who did these people think they were? Quite simply the living incarnation of the god Tua, who is


the Anglo-Saxon Tue, the Teutonic god Teu , who we recall each week in a slightly modernized Teus dag (Tuesday). This is the same god the Scandinavians called Tyr or Tyrr. There are almost endless configurations of the name, a few being Deus, Heus and just plain Hu or Hugh. In a strange Gaelic-Teutonic mix, this word comes to the surface as Aod, Aoid or Aoidh, one of the so-called ?day-gods” of Britain. These are all related to the Latin deo, ?god,” thus we see that the Tuathans were saying, collectively, ?I am the god.” The last part of their name is the Erse word duin ?man;”daoine, ?men,” said to connotate the female matriarch of these tribes. The goddess Danu or Anu has her name embedded in the great eastern Europen River called the Don, and there are several similarly named rivers in Britain. From these clues we can guess that the Tuatha daoine were related to the Teutons, migrating to northwestern Europe from the region of the River Don. They migrated from there to Ireland carrying with them little indication of their attachment to the old war-agricultural deity who gave his name to their tribe. It is of note that Tyr was a mortal sword-god, and in mythology it was said that his sword was briefly purloined by Gaelic Scotsmen, who at least remembered his rituals in their sword-dances. The word tuath has secondary meanings which are clues to the final disposition of the Tuathans. After the Tuathans became reduced the word tuath was sometimes used to denigrate them and their god. Thus peasant farmers, or tenants, those who had no hold on their own property were entitled the tuathain or tuatha-aitchech, the ?rent-payers.” Tuath also came to mean ?north” for that is where most of the displaced population moved. In some cases the relocation was Scotland or its western isles, but the word is also used to mean ?left,” which suggests that some of this tribe moved up, and out, occupying unspecified Atlantic islands. The word touta, which is related, indicates ?left-handed,” and may indicate a congenital condition in this population. In the earliest days anything left-handed was considered ?well-omened,” but that changed with the defeat and the word tuaithheal now points out a person who is travelling ?wrongly or left-wise.” Similarly a tuaicheal is currently ?dizziness,” while tuachioll indicates ?a lefthanded eddy of wind, travelling against the natural currents of the sea, travelling against the sun, confused, going northwest.” Tuathal is an anti-cyclone or a left-handed whirlwind. A tuaisd is a ?dolt,” while tuaisdeach indicates any umseemly act. These were the fruits of military defeat. The places where the Daoine sidh lived were teghain, lterally ?thatched homes.” With a little twisting and turning through Gaelic the word teg can be shown to relate to tuath, the intermediate form being tugha. which indicates a simple roof-covering, especially a ?thatch.” The latter Ennglish form is essentiallty the same word and they resemble the Latin tego, a ?cover.” The root Gaelic is thought to be tog , ?to raise up,” or possibly steg, which is also written stig. This word is the verb ?skulking” and is not unlike the Old Norsestygr, ?shy,” and their word stic, ?ghastly.” This word appears in the Gaelic glastig, the ?grey skulker,” a vampire-like sidh. Tugha is the Middle English tile or tigel, the Latin tegula from the verb tegere, ?to cover or thatch.” From this we have the Latin Thule sometimes represented on old maps by the englished Thyle, all indicating ?the northernmost place.” An island of this sort often represented as having tiled beaches, flat-stones overlapping one another. From the sense of isolation or remoteness of a Tyle, came the more general ile, represented in Gaelic as eil. From this we have the modern words ?isle,” and ?island.” These words are all related to the Latin terra and the Gaelictyr, both denoting ?land.” See the block note on Thule for further wordsmithery.


In the Gaelic tales the Fomors were shape changers who often travelled to the land as sea creatures. Charles G. Leland says that the Wabenaki Indians of eastern North American were convinced that ?the giants were whales. This incident and the fact of their inhabiting a mysterious country (east) beyond the sea and the fog would identify them with the enchanted land of the Eskimo, the place visited by the Angakok in their trances and by others in kyaks. This country (of the giants) was Akilinek, ?the fabulous land beyond the sea.” It also has a Norse affinity. The land of giants was supposed by both Icelanders and Indians to be in the North Atlantic.” Looking at this mythic history, Katherine Scherman is willing to credit veracity to everything but the tales of magic connected with the Tuatha dannan. She notes that all of the human invaders encountered the Fomors, "always uncouth and vicious, always seeping in from the shore to be driven back again by the civilized and better equipped newcomers. In Partholan's time these savages lived on costal islands, ate very poorly, and fought against his race,hardly hindered by the fact that most had, "but one foot, one hand and one eye." Interestingly, a creature of similar description is preserved to this day in the Scottish fachan, which supposedly haunts seaside locations and exists by killing and robbing passers-by. Scherman has support for her view of the Fomors, who were never regarded by those that followed them to Ireland as creatures of the human kind: "They are, in Gaelic legend, the giants, or sea-demons, powers of darkness and ill, believed to have been overcome by the Tuatha de Danann. Most of them are represented as huge and deformed, some with animal heads, and gifted with blighting and malignant potencies." Elsewhere it is noted that these "potencies" were an ability to shape-shift, assuming any size and form which they might wish and that of blighting crops, or striking down men and animals, with the "evil-eye". Aside from this, they were considered repulsive because they routinely ate raw flesh including that of their dead own dead kin as well as that of enemies. Scherman suspects that the Fomorians represent mesolithic man and some of the others more "advanced" agriculturalists and war-mongers. As she sees it the Senachies, or tale-tellers of the Gaels invented "the wholly mythical Tuatha De Danann investing these old Celtic gods with human form and slotting them neatly into history. Besides their conquest of Ireland and the magic-ridden battles...the Tuatha De Danann participated in a series of romantic and heroic adventures in which there is no dividing line between the supernatural and the earthly, and in which unreality approaches the absurd." If the gods have their beginnings in abstractions, it is usually the case that men found it profitable to take up their mantles. This being the case the Tuatha danann were no more unlikely than the Fomors. As for magic, it is usually a matter of mirrors and misdirection, an art that has a way of becoming generally understood to be thinly veiled fact. The Fomorians had the misfortune to be an aboriginal race, and as such, had to face the wrath created by the bad conscience of those who displaced them. While they had continuing "bad press" it noted that they were of the race of men, since they intermarried with the various invading races and are, presumably, still represented in the gene pools of Ireland and Scotland as men of unusual height.


The Fomorians suffered unfortunate genetic skewing from the norm, some supposedly having ?the heads of animals.” Many of them were reported to possess ?a single eye, hand and leg,” and Cichol Grinchenghos, a Fomor slain by the Partholons at the battle of Magh Ibha was even more handicapped, his second name interpreting as ?footless.” His mother had been Lot, a monstrous woman with full lips located on her breasts, and four eyes implanted in her back. Interestingly, the ruling house of Munster, one of the five original provinces of Ireland, is entitled ?the House of Donn.” Donn was the general name given the god of death. He was a Fomor and had the responsibility for transporting all the dead across the sea to the ?Land of Shadows.” Tech Duinn , ?the Staging Place for Men,” for their voyage into the far west was often represented as standing just off the coast of Munster. This province is represented in ancient stories as the place of origins, and it has been noted that many men born in the region were single-eyed. One product of mixed marriage was Lugh and another his enemy Bres, the one time high-king of Tara. After the failure of Bres the Gaelic word "brislech" came to mean "overthrow". The related word "breisleach" has also been invented to indicate "confusion, delirium or nightmare" while "bras" still identifies one who acts without thinking. Then there is Hy Brazil, the anglicized form of the Gaelic Ard Bres-eilean, the high island of Bres, his place of final retirement. In Anglo-Norman times, the Anglo-Saxon Hy Brazil was represented on maps as Haut (high) Brazil, the first word being pronounced "ho"; from this we may have the variant O.Brazil. On the other hand, this may be a reference to shape of the island, or the "O" may be considered an abbreviation for either "old" or "overcast" (fogged in). An Domhain, later entitled Hy-Brazil, was variously known in Gaelic as Magh Muir, ?the Great Plain of the Sea;” Magh Mell, ?the Plain of Pleasure;” Tir-n’-Og, ?the Land of Youth;” and as Tir Tairnigri, ?the Land of Promise.” It was, perhaps, never a single island, its character varying from the brooding Fomorian land known as Dun Scaith, ?the Fortress of Shadows;” to happier sounding places such as Tir na tSamhraidh, ?the Land of Summer;” Tir na mBeo, ?the Land of Perpetual Life;” Hy-Falga, ?High Auk Island;” Magh da Cheo, ?the Plain of the Two Mists” and the strangely denoted,Tir fo Thuinn, ?the Land Under Waves.” Tir-uaine, is ?The Green Land.” Each name suggests individual features of the Fomorian holdings, but they were, overall, "a land wherein there is not save truth, and where there is neither age nor decay, sorrow nor gladness, nor envy nor jealousy, hatred nor haughtiness." Unfortunately it was also a place of little action, and men invariably tired of the sensual pleasures which it offered.


Gaelic, tir, land, earth, similar to the Latin terra. A root is ters, dry land, which is always the implication of this word; nan, of; og, young. This word can be shown to confer exactly with the English juvenile. The general name given the Gaelic ?islands” of the west, supposedly places


of perpetual youth and sexual abandon. Fortunate Isles.

Similar to the Roman Islands of the Blessed; the

Aonghas Og was of the race of Danu. His name translates as, ?The Uniquely Chosen Young One,” and is immortalized in Tir-nan-Og, ?The Land of Youth,” Angus Og was the progenitor of the Gaelic Clann M’Aonghuis, sometimes shortened to Mac-innes, and further disguised as M’Ainsh. He is sometimes represented as Mhac Og, ?The Youngest Son” (of Dagda). His mother was believed to have been Boyne, Boinne, or Boyne, and their palace in Ireland was at Brugh-na-Boinne, on the Boyne River at, or near, the ruins now known as Newgrange. This god of love was considered so attractive that ?four birds, which were his kisses, always circled about his head. In the well-known tale, ?The Dream of Aonghas,” the god fell in love with a dreammaiden, and being certain she walked the land of men, asked his brother Bodb Derg (Red Crow). for magical help in finding her. The girl was finally pointed out as Caer Ibormeith 34 , the daughter of a side-hill dweller living in Connaught. Aonghas enlisted the aid of Ailill and Mebd, the rulers of that province, in persuading Ethal Anubhail to part with his daughter. Ethal sent word that he could not comply since his daughter was the product of a dalliance with a swan-maiden (one of the shape-changing children of Domnu), and she moved with her mother’s kin on Loch Bel Dragon, The Lake of the Dragon’s Mouth. The father noted that if Aonghas could identify her from among one hundred and fifty resident swans, he was welcome to have her. Being a god Aonghas had no trouble with this, and courted her and won her love while he was in swan-form. This lady thus became the bridd, the bride; a character much honoured as the goddess of love. The swan personae was one she could not escape, and on the Samhuinn she always reverted to this configuration and fled from Aonghas of the White Steed. The Scots said she was no willing wanderer but was periodically taken by the dark death god whose name was Bel or Bile. Some held that she was a winter prisoner within Ben Nevis, Scotland, where she awaited annual rescue at the Beultainne. A larger number of Celts held that her prison was somewhere in the winter-lands of the north-west, or perhaps within An Domhain. Like all of the mortal gods Aonghas died and his inheritance was ?the green island of perpetual summer (and youth) that drifts about on the silver tide of the Atlantic.” There he suffered from the inevitable amnesia brought on by other loves and occupations, but on the Samhuinn he invariably dreamed of his Samh, and went riding out from his western palace to find and succor her. It was sometimes held that the Cailleach Bheur, or Winter-Hag, attempted to keep them apart, but by Bride’s Day (February 2) it was always evident that she had failed. With the return of the spirits of the Samh and Aonghas Og to their Note that the name disassembles as caer, sea foam; ibor, tricks or incantations and meith, fat, or having a pig-like (silken) skin. 90

Brugh on Beultainne (May 1), the rule of the Bel and his winter cohort, the Cailleach, were seen to be at an end and summer sat enthroned again upon the world of men. In the first quarter, until Lugh’s day (August 1), during the time entitled, ?the days of the long sun,” the happy couple execised their sunny influence from Tir na tSamhraidh, or Summer Land. By mid-summer it was clear that the powers of love and the sun were on the wane, and in the seconmd quarter the pair were less attentive to one another. With their ardour decreased the sun became progressively more distant, cold and lacking in life-giving powers. In the Gaelic world summer was the samhradh, literally, the ?riding out time of Samh.” Her final day of some authority was Oidhche Shamhna, now known as Hallowe’en, but she was memorialized in the month of November which was an t-Samhuinn. Thus commenced a new year and ?the days of the short sun,” which were given into the hands of the death god Bel and his consort the Cailleach Bheur, also known as the Winter Hag. This pair was thought to live somewhere in the northwest, the source of the most violent winds of winter. Their summer palace, and place of exile, was perhaps the Atlantic island of Dun Scaith, the Fortress of Shadows. The shadow queen seems to be the Norse giantess Skadi , who following a number of trial marriages, allied herself with Uller, the god of Winter. The battle between the seasons is also seen in Norse mythology where Skadi is recognized as the shape-changed goddess Frigga, who is usually paired with Odin. Like Aonghas, Odin had a tendancy to ?lose his place,” and went wandering the earth in summer and late fall. While he was gone his authority, and his ?wife,” were taken by his ?twin,” the god Uller. By the first day of May, Odin always returned to a regenerate Frigga, driving off the unwanted suitor. Lugh and his bride may be thought of as a manifestation of Dagda and Danu, the patriarch and matriarch of the Daoine sidh, and he has another dark personae in Crom the Crooked. In some of the tales Lugh struggles against Crom to restore summer. If the agents of light are the land goids; those of dark are decidedly the Fomorian sea-giants. The Cailleach, the ruler of the three months of the graine lugha, or failing sun, is described as one-eyed and hairy, like the seals of the ocean. From this last characteristic, she was also known as Mag Moullach, the one with the Hairy Hand. She was also given as the Beire, or Bear. Various Anglo-Saxon tribesmen identified her as the Old Sough, Gyre-Carline, The Storm-Wife or Gentle Annie. The death goddess was said to have a local seat within the Scottish mountain called Ben Nevin, and came forth from it on or about the time of the New Year (November 1), to wash her great plaid in the whirlpool of Coire Bhreacain, the ?Cauldron of the Plaid.” ?Before the washing it is said that the roar of a coming tempest is heard by people on the coastr for a distance of twenty miles, for a period of three days until the cauldron boils. When the washing is over, the plaid of old Scotland is virgin white.” The Cailleach was represented in lore as a hag, the mistress and guardian of wild animals, but no friend to men. In her season she went about brandishing her magic staff, blasting the vegetation and the beasts of men with bolts of lightning. At the peak of her bad temper, which came at mid-winter, she rode before the storm-winds, her packs of ravaging animals seizing and carrying off the souls of the dead. Sometimes the withering winds also carried away the bodies of those not yet dead.


The Reign of the Winter Hag ended nominally at the Imbolg, which we now term Groundhog Day (Februrary 2). The latter is a perfect remembrance of the Cailleach since she was a Bear, Grund Hogge, or Earth Beast. The Imbolc was also called Bride’s Day remembering that this was the day when Lugh chanced upon his lost bride. According to one tale the Samh was kept imprisoned during the ?short months,” a guest within Ben Nevis; but there is more general agreement that Lugh had to travel to the An Domhain, or the dark islands of the west, to recover her. While Lugh sought to carry her off on his white stallion, the Cailleach made every effort to hold her, and in this interest raised the storms of spring. In the week known as A Chailleach she still still makes her best effort, her final overthrow coming after the day that bears her name, Latha na Cailleach, the Auld Hag’s Day, March 25. The complete failure of the powers of the winter deities was symbolized in the celebration of Beltane (May 1). It would seem that Lugh and Bil, and the Cailleach and the Bride are not really contending poersonalities, but components of a single god and goddess. Some of the old tales reinforce this by saying that the Cailleach retreated annually to the Island of Youth, far out in the western sea, on the Oichche Bridd, or Eve of the Bride. In the centre of woods in that place (as in An Domhain) there was once a fountain of perpetual youth. ?There at the firttst glimmer of dawn, before any bird has sung or any dog barked, the hag drinks of water that emerges from a crevice of a rock, and having renewed her yoouth, emerges as Bride, the fair young goddess at the touch of whose wand the dun grass turns to vivid green, starred with the white and yellow flowers of spring.” Of course, the transformation of Beul to Lugh and Cailleach to Samh was only made fast on the first of May, and in the interval from Bride’s Day to Beltane schizophrenia (and mixed weather) prevailed, as it does to the present.


Gaelic, The Island of Breg, a feminine form of Bres which confers with Bridd. Another name for Hy Breasil. The goddess Breg is frequently represented as the mate of Dagda. A triune deity her other parts are Meng and Meabal. Bregon was the son of the goddess and the father to Bilé, the god of death, and Ith. Milesius, the king of Spain claimed that he was the father to these two children, and when Ith was killed by the Tuatha daoine he used this as a pretense for invading Ireland. The men of the southern province of Munster said that they were the descendants of Ith and insisted he had come there out of the western rather than the eastern sea from the Island of Breg. This is supported in the fact that Tech Duinn, the gathering place for the dead, was traditionally off the coast of Munster, and the dead lands were always properly located in the western Atalantic. Further, Munster was considered the beginning place for the land-born tribes of men, and its rulers were associated with An Domhain in the fact that they were referred to as members of ?The House of Donn.” The southernern chieftains never willingly submitted to Tara, claiming that they were not Milesians but the sons of Ith by way of Lugaid (Lugh). The Munster-men saw themselves as being central to the continuance of Fomorian


occult powers, and some of their kings openly called themselves the Dumnorex, king of the deep, or king of the worlds.

Several Greeks, in particular Sotion of Alexandria in the second century B.C., and Clement of Alexandria, at a later date, admitted that their ideas of the immortality of the soul was borrowed from the continental Celts. the Romans borrowed freely from the ancient Greeks and the Roman writers, Plutarch and Procopius, were certain that their "Land of the Dead" was no further north than western Britain, which some claimed was actually separated from the eastern parts by an unscalable wall (possibly a tale dating from glacial times?). On the northern coast of Gaul (France) the Celtic population were certain that their last abode was located in some vague extremity of Britain. They claimed that there was a populace of mariners whose business consisted of ferrying the dead to the nether world. The spirits of the dead, it was supposed, were met on the beach by ships sporting the sun symbol. Although they appeared to have no oarsmen, these were always sunk to the gunwales in the water as if bearing a heavy burden. When the shades were on board it required but a single stroke of the oars to propel it to the nether shore. The great journey always took place at midnight and the boats were more active in winter than in summer, for it is still said that night and winter are synonyms for death, and with the coming of the cold the veil is thinned, life taking on a semblance of death and vice versa. The ?fire-ship,” that transported the souls of the dead was Aigean scuabadoir, which is the Wave-Sweeper. This was a magical ship that knew men’s thoughts and was propelled without sails at the will of the helmsmen. It was brought from the Otherworld by Lugh and given as a gift to Manann Mac Ler. It is still claimed that this burning ship plies the waters from the Hebrides of Scotland to the island of Eigg, turning afterwards westward into the ?empty” ocean. In neighbouring islands it is known as the Long Thane, and some say it is piloted by the Devil. Not surprisingly, a phantom fire-ship, or ships, is commonly seen in Canadian Atlantic waters at the western terminus, where the Land of Shades is supposedly located. It is noteworthy that only Ler was immortal, and Manann is now sometimes called Oirbsen, this following his drowning in a lake of that name located in County Galway. For the Cymerians and the Gaels the death world was in the west but not impenetrable as their living heroes often visited there and sometimes returned home. One of these was Cuchullain, the hero of Irish Ulster, who took miltary training in the Otherworld known as Sgaitheach, which is most often associated with the present Isle of Skye in Scotland. This juxtaposition arises from a linguistic similarity of the two, but the idea has become entrenched with the naming of two island after Cúchullain. There are other possibilities for the site of Dun Sgaitheach: Peter Ellis prefers the Isle of Man, noting that one tale has Cúchullain and his friends landing there, and penetrating a wilderness to the centre, where they found a pit swarming with venomous serpents. This was exactly what they sought for in the legends of the world serpents represent not only the sea-folk but their vast hordes of treasure. The adventurers fended off these creatures but were soon attached by an army of frogs, strangely equipped with bird-like beaks. As they fought these animals they turned into bird-headed dragons, like those on the prows of the Old Norse longships. The Hibernians prevailed and carried off three magic crows 93

and a marvellous cauldron which on command with overflow with gold and silver or an inexhautible supply of porridge mixed with meat. The mariners harnessed the crows (befinds) to pull their vessel back to the west and Ireland. At the last moment the gods who guarded this place conjured up a storm and wrecked the ship. Cúchullain and his companions were by then within sight of the shores of their homeland and were able to swim to shore, but they lost all the treasures of that magical land. There is some evidence that Sgaitheach dwelt in the far western ocean with her consort Beul, the god of death. Her full entitlement was Sgaitheach a Uanaind (of the Fixed Purpose). This last word was often written as buanna, mercenary, and is also found in Búanann, an alternate form for the goddess Boann or Boyne, who is allied with the Mhorrigan and the various seadeities of the west. She is said to have been a daughter of Árd Greimne (High Stronghold) of Lethra (on the Other Side). Whatever the case, Cúchullain knew of the woman and her place by reputation, and went there to learn feats of arms. In a separate incident, the Ulsterman traversed black forests and desert plains before arriving at the Fortress of Shadows. At the Plain of Misfortune he found a seemingly boundless moor consisting of sticky clay and bottomless bogs, a good description for many parts of the eastern North American mainland. As he stood defeated by this instable landscape, his father Lugh appeared before him as a young man who presented him witha golden apple (or a wheel in some versions). He was advised to roll this magical device before him, and doing so was gratified to see it blaze with light that dried a path through the quagmire. He next passed the beasts of the Perilous Glen and on a green he found many men of his home country playing the game of hurley (hookey or hockey). Among them was Frediad, son of the Firbolg named Daman, and Cúchullain asked him how he might pass to the Dun Sgaitha. The Ford of Leaps was seen to be broiling with the tides of the sea, and the ravenous monsters swimming there seemed to render it impassible, while the ?ford” seemed beyond a leap between the high lands on either side. Nevertheless, the hero made three abortive leaps and on the fourth crossed the chasm to stand before the Fortress of Shadows. Others, following his example, were able to make the leap. Within the fortress, Cuchullain was an immediate success with Uathach, the daughter of Sgaitheach, and soon became warder of the gates. When Sgaitheach went against her sister Aoife on a neighbouring island, the hero was forced into single combat. This powerful warrior woman was his technical superior, but at a critical monment in their fight, he shouted that her horse was endangered. This animal was her greatest possession, and she turned to look. At this Cuchullain seized her about the waist, hugged her until she dropped her weapons, and then carried over his shoulder back to his own lines. Aoife capitualated in more ways than one, and by the time his apprenticeship was up it was clear that Aoife was pregnant with the Ulsterman’s child. Cuchullain now returned to Ireland. His son Conla, being under a geis not to reveal his identity, was killed by his father At home in Ireland, the Mhorrigan of Battle, better known as the Macha, sided with the men of Ulster, but falling out with them she became allied with the forces of Connacht. When war developed between the two provinces, the raven-witch appeared before Cúchullain as a young woman ?clad in cloth of many colours.” This was probably tartan, and it is worth noting 94

that the Norse goddess Hel was constantly referred to as ?the parti-coloured goddesss.” Apparently hoping to reconcile herself with the spirit of the north, the Mhorrigan represented herself as the daughter of a great mortal king, who attracted by his exploits, had come to offer the young man her love. Unfortunately, Cúchllain was battle-weary and rudely rejected her proposition. To late he saw her vanish from sight and reappear as a crow. From that time the woman of the Fortress of Shadows became his implacable foe, but Cúchullain had the support of his father Lugh, the god of the sun, a part-time resident in the west. When the war ended in a northern victory the Mhorrigan sent her ladies in waiting after the hero, and they beat him with rods until he was almost dead. Cuchullain found himself unable to raise an arm to defend himself against their magic. Afterwards he was thoroughly demoralized and very ill. At length a druid-priest directed Cuchullain to a standing stone, where he explained that the youth might learn how to throw off his weakness. There he met one of the green mantled woman who had beat him and she told him that his help was needed in opposing three "demonkings" who had invaded the realm of Fand (fisher-woman), Pearl of the Sea, the wife of Manan mac Ler. These two were quarrelling and the lady’s personal kingdom was besieged by three Fomorian devil-kings, all retainers of her estranged husband. In return for their defeat Fand promised Cuchullain the return of his health and a robust time in bed with the queen. Seeking his lost virility, Cuchulainn entered the Sidheann Mor, ?the Great Sidh Hill,” passing within it beyond "a lake" in a magic boat made entirely of bronze. In the far west in a place of dense seafogs, Cuchullain opposed the demons who materialized as rushing waves. Afterwards, the young human remained with Fand "for some time" being finally returned to Ireland where they arranged a trysting place in a strand of yew trees. Unfortunately, Cuchullain's wife learned of this pairing, and although she was an uncommonly patient individual, she was totally antagonistic toward this laison. She insisted that Cuchullain choose between her and the fairy-queen, an easy choice since, "the new is always doubly sweet; the old sour." Finally, however, Emer reminded Cuchullain of their marriage vows and he returned to her. Abandoned and lovelorn Fand returned to her husband. Even so, Cuchullain fell into a despondent mood and fled from his home, refusing all food and drink until a druid cured him with a draught of forgetfulness. Not a grudging god, Manan shook his cloak of invisibility (the ocean as a dividing and estranging power) between Cuchullain and Fand so that they might not meet short of the end of time. Cuchullain’s remaining time was not long, for the venom of Mhorrigan was still directed against him. Taunted by the witch-woman, Cuchullain raised a private army and marched out on the Plain of Murthemni, where he hoped to confront her. There, the mistress of magic created delusions of danger, death and loss and at the ford of Emania appeared in the form of a washer-woman rinsing blood from clothing. As Cuchullain approached this banshee he saw that the clothing was his own, just before she vanished. After that Mhorrigan appeared to him as three elderly crones roasting meat upon rowan spits. When they invited him to join them, he refused until they accused him of being discourteous. When he had eaten he discovered that he had offended his totem animal by eating dog-meat. His left side paralyzed, Cuchullain was only able to oppose the foes which gathered by tying himself to a cromlech near Slieve Fuad, 95

south of Armagh. At that, it was a full day of battle before the death-crow finally perched on his shoulder and plucked out his eyes. The southern hero, Finn mac Cumhail, made at least two trips into the west; the first following the "Fomorian" giant who termed himself the Gruff Gillie. This character, slackjawed, cross-eyed, gap-toothed and hairy, rode into the camp of the Fionn looking for work. The Irishmen made great fun of the Gillie's sway-backed horse, so that the owner felt constrained to defend the animal. When Conan attempted to mount the nag it immediately lay down on the ground, but the Gillie said, "She's used to more weight than your's little mannikin, Let a few of the other lads stand above her and she'll rise right enough!" In the spirit of fun thirteen others crowded in behind Conan Baldhead, and to their astonishment, the animal did rise, and the Gruff Gillie led it away toward the west. When Finn and his remaining camp-followers came to their senses they pursued but neither the hounds nor the foot-soldiers could keep the pace of this giant horse and his keeper. The whole troop came at last into the ravines of Kerry and down to the sea. The Fomorian took the halter rope and went directly into the sea, fourteen men bound by magic to the horse that followed him. At the last Liagan, one of the pursuers caught the tail of this peculiar horse but he too was led into the sea, the horse racing on the water's surface. Fiann was committed to follow, and the company built rafts, made sails from their mantles and set out into the ocean. At the end of a day they made landfall but a high cliff faced the narrow strand. Dermott O'Duvina was the only alpinist among them, so while the others struggled to cut footholds he climbed the cliff and came upon a wood backed by a mountain. In the wood he came to a well, and beside it a silver-decorated drinking horn. Being thirsty he dipped and drank but was soon confronted by the champion of the well, who struggled with him on three separate occasions, each time retreating into the well. At the last duel, the stranger seized Dermott and pulled him under. In the meantime Finn and his other men made the top of the cliff face with ladders and footholds and following Dermott's trail came to the well in the woods. Here they met the warrior from the well who identified himself as Abartach, King of Sorca, who explained that he had decoyed them there to help him resist the invasions forces of the King of Land-underWave", who intended to take from him the treasures of the sidh, "the Spear (of Lugh), the Stone (of Fal) and the Cauldron (of Dagda)." Finn agreed to the proposition because Abartach had once extended hospitality to his father and not because Dermott was held hostage. It is said that the King of Sorc then led them into a cave. "Then they went through passages into the earth and after what seemed a day's travel came to a fortress. There they were reunited with Dermott, who had come by the watery route. With the King of Sorc's army reinforced, it went to battle against a Fomorian host and fought until Dermott brought the King of Land-under-Wave to his knees. At that the giants agreed that the sidh-king Abartach was ard-righ of the dark lands and true holder of the treasures of the deep. At the victory feast Finn first met Niamh, the daughter of the King, who promised they would meet again. The following morning the entire retinue of men were returned to their own homes among the Hills of Alma. 96

The Fomorians seem to have been in mood for revenge against Finn for they sent a sailing ship to the harbour of Howth, built a dwelling on a hillside there, and made enquiries concerning the whereabouts of Finn mac Cumhail. Being a shrewd character, Finn actually approached these warriors asking what they desired and was told that the three were ?Heroes of the Fomors,” sent to do battle. Having some wish to preserve life and limb Finn calmly explained that Finn was out of the county and immediately placed them ?under crosses and enchantments,” so that they might not move from the place where they had settled until he willed it. Finn went away and made ready a hide-covered coracle, hoisted ?the spotted towering sails,” and sailed directly to ?The Kingdom of Big Men.” On Fomorian shores, Finn was quickly taken to the king, a wayfarer having decided that he and his dog bran would make an excellent dwarf and miniature lapdog for the monarch. Finn proved adept at this role and getting the confidence of the king, discovered that man’s kingdom was at risk from a rival Fomorian. For three nights Finn met the monster in various forms, but although outgunned, Finn was more than the mental equal of this creature and twice tricked him out of actual combat. On a third try, the Fomorians slow brain realized the situation and Finn was forced to do battle, but calling on his dog, diverted the enemy, long enough to kick him with a poisoned shoe point. Pursued by the mother of this giant, Finn did in the redoubtable hag using this same trick. Having gained the trust of the western king, Finn now asked that his warriors be recalled from their death quest. To his surprise he was told that no orders had ever been directed against him. Rather, the three Fomorians were free-agents drawn to the land of men by sidhmaidens living within the hollow-hills. As recompense the King tendered the human hero every honour and told him that the strength of the three big men actually resided in their male shirts, given to them by the sidhean. Returning home , Finn now arranged to purloin these shirts and afterwards challenged the Fomors to battle. They declined and were forced to swear allegiance to the Fionn. Finn mac Cumhail is supposed to have fallen in battle but some insist that he and his bard Oisin were transported to the kingdom beyond the west by Niamh or Moriah, the daughter of the King of Sorc. When Finn fell in battle the two were invited to mount the white horse of the sea-gods, and when it reached the water, it ran lightly across the waves. As they passed on the water's surface, towers and palace gateways loomed and vanished in the sea-smoke and at one point the trio saw a hornless doe pass by pursued over the water by a white hound with a single red ear. Again they saw a maiden ride by, a golden apple clutched in one hand. She was trailed by a young horseman with a purple cloak straining behind him in the wind. Finn wished to ask who these apparitions were, but Niamh had cautioned him to ask no questions nor to take particular notice of anything seen short of the shores of the Land of Youth. In that place Oisin met with may adventures, once rescuing an imprisoned princess from a Fomorian giant. But at last, following the experience of many living men in this land beyond the horizon, he tired of repeated sensual delights and longed for his native land. Finn, being among the dead, had no such option, but Oisin was given use of the white steed for the return 97

trip. He was cautioned not to leave the back of the animal if he had any wish to return to the western lands. In Ireland, Oisin found nothing of the villages of his day and driven by loneliness retreated from the Hills of Allen. He then traversed all of Ireland, and in the east came upon men of what seemed a lesser race struggling to move a huge boulder. As he leaned from the horse to give them help he became overbalanced and fell to the ground. In an instant, the white steed vanished and from the ground their arose instead of a warrior of great power and physique, a withered old man. Thus it was shown that time passed differently in the western lands for Oisin reckoned he had been gone from Ireland no more than three weeks. Conn of the Hundred Battles, before he became High King, wandered into a magical mist where he and his followers encountered a man who invited them into a side. There he was introduced to a girl seated upon a crystal throne, wearing a golden crown (clearly representing the Sovranty of Ireland). Lugh, the god of the sun, appeared beside her foretelling Conn’s ascent to the throne and the fates of his descendants. Returned to the world of men Conn did become a ruler (177-212 A.D). Shortly after he took as a concubine, a goddess who came out of the western sea. She was Becuma Cneisgel, whose affair with a son of Manann Mac Ler had made her persona non grata in the Otherworld. Unfortunately, her presence in the country made the crops and cattle unfertile and made men miserable. She came ton resent Conn’s son Aefner, otherwise known as Art the Solitary, and played him a game of fidchell in which she used her befinda to cheat and win. As a penalty, Art was forced to undertake an echtral into the western ocean seeking the hand of Delbchaem, a princess in the Land of Wonder (giants) who was guarded by somewhat austere parents. The goddess thus hoped to rid herself of a rival for Conn’s affections, but Art set out, opposed by a plague of giant toads, a river of ice, a giant, and a choice between a safe drink and a cup of poison. Notwithstanding he finally destroyed Delbchaem’s unwilling parents and took the maiden home to Ireland. He thus lived to become High King and impregnate Achtan, the smith’s daughter, producing an illegitimate child who sat enthroned as Cormac Mac Art. Conla might have become King but as he and his father Conn stood on the heights at Usna they were approached by a strange maiden in unusual attire. Connla asked who she was and was told, "I am one who comes from the Plains of the Ever Living where their is neither death nor sin. There we keep every day as a holiday and have never-ending pleasure and no strife. And because we have our homes under the round green hills we are called the sidhean, or side-hill folk." The king wondered at its son's conversation with an empty space, for Conla alone was able to hear and see the maiden. "With whom do you speak?" questioned Conn the king. At this the woman materialized for him as well and said, "I am the maiden of Tir-nan-Og and I love Conla of the Fiery Hair and intend to take him into my own realm." Angered and afraid, the king called for his druid to erect a magic to oppose this woman's will. As the spell-maker chanted, the sidh-maiden began to fade but just before she disappeared she tossed a red apple into Conla's hands. After that Conla would neither eat no mortal drink but munched at the apple, which regenerated itself during the night. When a month had passed the maiden came to proposition him once more, and Conla had to admit his longing for the 98

stranger. Facing him the maiden said: "The ocean is no more powerful than thy desire. Come with me, therefore, in my curragh, the gleaming straight-sided crystal canoe and we will so reach Boadag's (Boann and Dagda's) realm. I see the western sun now sinks but with this craft we can reach it before dark. At that place is a land worthy of the journey, a land that proves joyous to those who find it. It thou will we can seek it and dwell together there always." When the maiden was finished Conla left his own folk, vaulted into the Crystal craft, and in the sight of all the assembly the two lovers disappeared into the western sea. A similar story involved Crebhan, a High King who was seduced into the western sea by a goddess from the Otherworld. Unlike Conla he led an expedition which returned burdened with treasures. Cormac Mac Art, the brother of Conla, is a High King known to have ruled in historic times, from 254 to 277 A.D. He was the illegitimate son (some prefer to say the grandson) of Conn of the Hundred Battles, and became ruler after putting down Fergus Black Tooth. He was seemingly on better terms than his father with Manann Mac Ler, who sent an emissary to him offering a silver bough bearing apples from the tree of forgetfulness. When it was shaken the music which issued from its apples lulled those who were dying, or whose minds were troubled by want, woe, or weariness into a happier state. Without thinking, the king offered to trade whatever might be asked for this valuable object. Unfortunately, the stranger required Cormac's wife, son and daughter, and the Cormac felt he had to comply with his promise. Cormac was able to relieve his distress by shaking the branch, but after a year decided to follow his kin into the sidhean lands. There he was met by Creide Firaland, a goddess who presented him with a splendid cloak and tried to entice him into abandoning his search for his family. He chose to look further and as he moved westward a dark mist rose about him but parted on a marvellous plain where he saw many horsemen and men thatching a roof with the feathers of exotic birds. Three immense wells stood at western edge of the plain and on each was mounted a stone head. A single stream supplied each head with a single jet of water gushing from the mouth of the first head, two from the second and three from the third. While resting here he encountered a rustic who invited him to dine on roast pig cooked over a magical fire. To activate it, the stranger explained, one had to recount a true story. Cormac told of his quest and the animal was cooked. Seeing this, the stranger on the plain revealed himself as Manan Mac Ler, who said, "It was I Cormac, who bore away your kin and gave you the branch so that you would come here as my guest. The branch is already thine, but here also is a tablecloth, which when spread provides the condiments for a feast and here a goblet that shatters in four parts when a lie is told over it and reassembles on hearing the truth. Here also is the greatest gift I offer..." At this, Cormac's wife and children appeared, and the company ate and slept. When the humans rose in the morning they were back in Tara and the branch, the tablecloth and the goblet were at their sides.At Cormac’s death these objects were reclaimed by the Otherworld. Unfortunately those favoured by the gods could usually expect a balancing of the scales through 99

misfortune. In Cormac’s case, his daughter Grainne became engaged to Fionn Mac Cumhail, the king’s chief bodyguard, but she eloped with one of the Fionn warriors named Diarmuid, an event that led to horrible complications. As a consequence a son named Cellach was slain by an offended chieftain after he raped her niece. In trying to save the boy, the king’s eye was accidently put out on the butt of the killing-spear. The disfigurement cost Cormac the highkingship and led to events that cost him his life. During Mac Art’s visit to Tir Tairnigri, the ramparts of a royal dun were seen. Inside the visitor observed a shining fountain, the source of five streams, each making a murmur ?more pleasing that mortal music.” In the fountain five salmon were observed and over it grew a hazel tree, said to be the source of hazel nuts, the source of poetry and inspiration (obviously the fountain parallels the cauldron of the deep). Mac Art was told that the nuts that fell into the water were eaten by the salmon, who had thus become all-knowing and all-wise. This tale has attachments to certain tales concerning, ?The Nuts of Knowledge,” and the ?Salmon of Inspiration,” which have become a part of folklore.


Gaelic, tairneanach, thunder; inghean, daughter; Land of the Daughter of Thor. The god was often termed ?Old Thor” as he predated both Tyr and Odin. He mated productively with the giantess Irenasaxa, matriarch of the Anglo-Saxons and with Sif of the Golden Hair, who bore him two children, Lorride and Thrud, the latter a giantess noted for her strength and size. She quarrelled with her father over a elfin suitor named Albus, who was perhaps the patriarch of the Albainns, or British Celts. Thor demanded that the suitor show his merit by showing a knowledge that would compensate for his small stature. The examiners kept the poor candidate up beyond dawn, and by the rules imposed by Odin he was transformed into stone.

Men usually came to grief when they travelled to the western world. Another example was Ciabhan of the Curling Locks who was attracted to Cliodhna a goddess who lived in Tir Tairnigri. She submitted to being courted by the mortal but Manann was displeased so that the couple had to flee to the east. While Cliodhna rested on a western strand of Ireland, her lover went to seek food. She was lulled into sleep by Manann’s harpist, and then Ler sent a great wave ashore to seek her out and return her to the west. Folklore remembers the lady as a sidhprincess, formerly worshipped in County Cork, but ?The Wave of Cleena,” persists on that coast. Men were not the only ones to have intrigues with the Fomors, who were not universally ugly: Eri the wife of Cethor,, an adherent of the Tuatha daoine happened to be at the shore when a young man arrived in a crystal ship. After formalities he made love to her and presented her with a ring, foretelling that she would give birth to a son. He suggested that she give the ring to her boy when he was old enough to wear it. The boy was named Bres, and his father was later 100

revealed as a pirate-prince named Elathu. If the Fomors had presumptive habits, the Tuathans were no better: One of the latter raped Ethne, the daughter of Roc, who chief steward to the love-god Aonghus Og. As a result Ethne became introspective and did not eat or drink. Angus determined that the goddess had become converted to a pure spirit by this experience, and brought her two enchanted cows so that she might have sustenance. When Ethne went with a daughter of Manann to bathe she lost her veil of invisibility and could not return to the Otherworld. It was even supposed that Eochaid Mac Erc, a Firbolg king, married or abducted a lady named Tailtu , who is sometimes represented as the mate of Manann Mac Ler, the foster-father of the sun-god Lugh. Bran was another who went searching for "The Happy Isles" and it is said that he succeeded, sailing for hundreds of years along their strands. There are several men named Bran, or ?Raven,” in the Celtic world and this may be due to the fact that the name anciently had the same weight as the present Ard Righ, or ?High King.” At least one man bearing this name sacked the Grecian temple of Delphi in 279 B.C., while another is known to have conquered Rome in 390 B.C. Neither relates to Bran, son of Febel, the hero of the famous echtrai known as Immram Brain, ?The Voyage of Bran.” The tale of Bran took place in pagan times although it was not placed on paper until the eighth century A.D. While walking near his redoubt Bran heard the sound of sweet music which caused him to fall asleep. When he awoke he found a strange branch of silver with white blossoms sprouting from it laid at his side. He went back to his fortress that morning, and found that even though the gates had been bolted a sidh-woman in splendid, if eccentric clothing, was waiting for him in his private chambers. Standing before him she sang a lay describing the Otherworld and the pleasures that awaited mortals who came there. As she departed, the silver bough that had been in Bran’s hand leaped from him to her just before she vanished. The next day, Bran and his foster brothers, and twenty-seven warriors (in all 9x3 = 27 honouring certain mystical considerations of the time) set out to pursue the woman and her mysterious land. After two days and nights on the water they met Manann Mac Ler riding his ?horses” (sea-serpents) over the waves. He said that he was on his way to the land of Dal n' Araide, ?The Tribe of the Seed of Men,” probably ?Dalriada,” the ancient Kingdom of the Scots in Argyllshire, Scotland. There he said he expected to have his way with a queen of that place and thus beget a son to be named Mongon. There is a Christian version of this in which Manann predicted the coming of Christ to the world of men instead of detailing his intended sexual exploits.



Gaelic, Land of Women, ban, white, she, female. Related is banabh, pig, which appears in the alternate form Banba as one of the place-names of Ireland. The Scootish Banff. Bannal, a troop or band (originally of females), an unlucky assembly l;ikely to rouse heavy weather at sea. From this the English banal. Frequent reference is made to legendary islands peopled by females. Note particularly the ?Islands of Eleven Thousand Virgins,” frequently charted in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence off Newfoundland.

Bran and his men must have made a fair impression on the sea-god, for he allowed them to sail on into the west. On the Island of Joy, Bran lost one of his mariners to the unquestioned sensual pleasures found there. He and the others sailed on to Tir mBan, ?The Land of Women,” where he saw a beautiful woman standing on the shore. Bran feared a closer approach because of the shoals, but this new friend threw a ball of magical yarn to him, and with it ?drew the ship to the shore.” In this place Bran and his voyagers remained for a year, but the crew got restless and demanded that he return home. Home at last, one of his company jumped on shore and was immediately converted to dust. Realizing that too much human time had passed for him to walk on the shores of Ireland without falling victim to "real time", Bran set about in the sea and returned to the land of the setting sun. This is one of earliest tales of a voyage in the west, distinguished by the beauty of its poetic form in describing the snowy cliffs of the ?Land of Silver,” a place a-riot with flowers and perpetually hazed in mist. It was always noticed that time passed differently in the western isles than in Europe. Bee Fola, the wife of King Diarmuid, was called to the Otherworld in a very realistic dream. She later attested to having spent a day and a night in the Otherworld, but on her return found that scarcely a minute had been lost in the world of men. She found her husband just stirring from sleep, which was exactly how she had perceived him on departure. Lergaire Mac Crimthann of Connaught later led fifty men to Magh Mell. His friend Fiacha Mac Retach had his wife abducted to the sea-kingdom by a Fomorian named Goll. He eventually slew the giant and married Fiachn’s daughter, both families remaining in the west where the men served as co-rulers of an island kingdom. This is reminiscent of the troubles of Dechtire, daughter of Cathbad, who on the evening of her wedding to Sultaim Mac Roth, was abducted into the Otherword, she and fifty of her handmaidens being magically changed into birds to make the passage. She and her servants were ultimately returned, but by then she was pregnant with Cuchullain by the god Lugh. Being a sensible man Sualtaim was glad to see his betrothed and accepted the child as his own. Not all migrations were in a westward direction. Becuma Cneisgel, ?The Fetching Fair One,” was born to the Land of Promise but had the poor judgement to couple with Gaiar, without asking permission of his father, the sea-god Manann Mac Ler. When this Fomor learned of the affair he banished her to the world of men. Fortunately she was able to overcome the scruples of Conn of the Hundred Battles, who took her as a concubine. Similar problems surrounded the maiden called Durfulla (literally the stubborn sufferer). A daughter of a king of the merfolk she married a human. When she died she was buried on an offshore island which soon succumbed to the powers of erosion and weathering and no longer stands. 102

The ?Sea-Voyage of Maelduin” is an Irish romance preserved in numerous Gaelic manuscripts of which the oldest is one copied at the close of the twelfth century from an earlier one which is now lost. The antique nature of the Gaelic used in it justifies attribution to a much earlier time, possibly the middle half of the eighth century. The Irish ?Voyage of Maelduin” has been printed, with an English translation, by Dr. Whitney Stokes, in the ninth and tenth volumes of the Revue Celtique, and the retelling that follows is based on his version of events. Maelduin was a very successful explorer, returning after three years and seven months "driven in his barque to and fro over the boundless, fathomless ocean." The son of Ailill Edgebattle, he was fostered to the King and Queen of Arran at the murder of his father. In later, years seeking the murderers, Maelduin built a ship "of wicker work, of eight thwarts (rower's seats) covered with ox-hides of hard bark-soaked red leather.” On the day appointed by his druid, the seventeen men and their captain raised "a many-coloured sail" and put to sea. In one day of sail and rowing they found land in two small and barren islands, where they stood off and heard men boasting of various piratical deeds including the killing of Maelduin's father. They suspected that the gods had favoured them by leading them so early to their quarry, but as they prepared to land a great wind came up which tossed them on the waves for three days and three nights. At their next landfall, Maelduin was driven off by a horde of voracious ?ants” and sailed on for an additional three days and nights. On the next island they found a beast shaped somewhat like a horse but with long sharp talons. Thinking it seemed overly pleased to see them, the voyagers made another narrow escape to the sea. On a third island, they found men racing horses, but convinced they were an assembly of demons, did notremain long. A full week after their departure they chanced upon a much larger island on which stood a huge residence, with two doorways opening on land and a third on the sea. Here hoping to find food and drink, Maelduin put in, but found the place empty. Fortunately, they found liquor and provisions in four of the bedrooms but finding no other signs of life departed. After another length of time their provisions again ran short but they came to another island with high cliffs on all sides. A wood came down on one side and here the ship passed beneath apple trees but no fruit to satisfy any of the mariners. The next place had a stone fence around it but here they were repulsed by the antics of a monster "whose skin revolved like a mill-wheel its flesh and bones remaining still." This monster threw stones at them from the beach and one passed through Maelduin's shield and lodged in the keel of the boat. At the next stop they were fortunate to find many trees bearing fruit, with golden apples on every bough. In the orchards were many small animals red in colour and shaped like pigs. It was observed that these creatures retreated into caverns at night but joined the birds in pilfering the apples by day. Two of the crew landed but were surprised to find that the ground was hot beneath their feet, so they hastily gathered food working quickly to preserve the soles of their feet from burning. 103

Before long their apples were eaten and a great and thirst returned. Further, their nostrils were bothered by a sulphurous smell which seemed to arise from the waters. They were glad to find a new harbour in a island of white rock surmounted by a fortress. Around the fort were numerous snow-white houses. They entered the largest and found no occupants except a small cat which never gave up its play to consider the men. The wall of the house was designed in three sections. The top rank carried "gold and silver brooches fastened in place by pins; the next gold and silver necklaces as large as vat hoops and the third gold and silver-hilted swords. These were white quilts on sleeping pallets and garments of shining cloth. Again they found roasted meat and flagons of ale but no company. They ate and took away what was left of the food but Maeldun warned his crew that it was probably not a good idea to touch any of the treasure hung on the walls. Against his advice, a crewman attempted to carry of a necklace but as he walked toward the door the cat attacked him, its fiery eyes burning him to a cinder. After that Maelduin soothed the animal with careful words. put the necklace back in its place, cleaned the ashes from the floor, and set sail. The ship chanced next on an island on which there were double palisades of brass. One side of this fence they saw sheep of white and on the other black animals. In the midst of the flock was a gigantic man who was keeping the colours separate. When he three black sheep into the white enclosure they turned white while white sheep thrown in the other direction turned black. Considering this ominous, they ignored their stomachs and travelled on. On the next isle, which possessed a lofty mountain, they found, killed, rotated and ate a pig. Following the base of the mountain was a broad river. When a crew member put the wooden part of his spear into this body it was immediately consumed in flames so they went no further in that direction. Seeing a giant sitting among hornless oxen on the far bank they decide this was another unsafe place and moved on. Next they came close to the swirl of waters which they attributed to the workings of the miller of the gods, and these have since come to be called the Maelstrom. They came then to a land of people black in body and clothing who wore "fillets" about their neck and never seem to rest from wailing. Lots were cast to see who should approach them and one fell to Maelduin's foster-brother, who mingling with the crowd found himself caught up in their strange emotion. Maelduin attempted to rescue him, but the two men who followed were similarly afflicted. Four others followed being careful to refrain from breathing the air within the crowd, and these were able to rescue all but the foster-brother. In the end the sailors were forced to leave without him. On the next western isle they were met by a maiden "who entertained them and brought them food." She gave them a rather heady ale the strength of which left them unconscious so that they awoke three days later at sea, out of sight of the place and its hospitable lady. The next landfall was a small island featuring a fortress with brass doors and a crystal bridge at the approach. This proved as slick as glass and the crew eventually wearied of trying to get near the door. While they lay prone, a sidh-woman moved effortlessly over the bridge, took water from a nearby fountain and returned to the fortification. The mob followed but could not force the door. Their hammerings on the bronze fastenings finally produced a soothing music that lulled them to sleep. These actions and reactions were repeated for three days until the sidh-maiden came 104

forth and greeted Maelduin, naming him and all of his crew and saying, "It is long since your coming hath been expected." She then led them into her place and sent some to haul their ship upon the shore. She brought them a cheese-like food and liquor, but it was said, "she knew when they had had enough and then ceased to serve them." The men thought that this woman would make a fit wife for Maelduin so they approached her on his behalf and she promised her answer "on the morrow." When dawn came they saw neither island, nor the sidh-woman, but found themselves adrift upon the empty sea.. On the next island they met with a man clothed only in body hair (like the Fomors). This individual said, "I am a man of Ireland who went on pilgrimage in a small boat. This split under me so I went back to my native sod built again and ventured forth. The Lord had given me sod under my foot in this place which groweth by a foot each year. The birds of the trees of this place are surely the souls of my children and the kindred who await time's end. Angels feed me daily with half a cake, a slice of fish and liquor from a well. Whey or water is mine on Wednesdays; sweet milk on Sundays; bright ale and wine on feast days. At noon each of the souls of the dead receiveth the same, enough for each." The old man entertained them, provisioned them and predicted: "All of thee will reach thy desired country excepting one." At a new location, the mariners heard the sounds of smithies, anvils and sledges and saw cockelshell boats approaching over the sea. They retreated and were bombarded as they rowed by masses of glowing iron, which the chief smith threw after them. The sea hissed and boiled but the warriors fled swiftly to mid-ocean. Next Maelduin's people saw the undersea world in a place where the waters seemed so thin , misty and unsubstantial. Fearing that the surface might not support their craft they looked downward and saw roofed strongholds, and flocks and herds guarded by an armed man. Perceiving a beast attacking the man fled, and the creature fell upon an ox, devouring it in the twinkling of an eye. At the next island they came to a great stream arching out over the beach and the water, and here the wanderers passed the ship through the spray without getting wet. At the falls they pierced the waters with their spears and brought out salmon in such vast numbers they could not gather them because of their great numbers. When they were thus resupplied they cruised on their way. Next they were faced with a great silver column rising in mid-ocean where there was no land. It had four sides, each measuring two oar-strokes in width, so that the compass of a column was eight strokes. The base could not be seen through the depth of water. A silver mesh was seen hanging down from the summit of these towers and as they passed under it Maelduin warned his folk not to cut it with their spears, "for what we see is surely the work of mighty men." However a man named Diuran cut away a sample saying that he would place it on the high altar at Armagh if he were lucky enough to return to Ireland. At that a voice issued from the top of the columns and if the men of Ireland could not understand the language they understood the mood of the speaker and hoisted their sails before the wind. Thereafter they approached another large island, on which they found a vast plain, grassy 105

and smooth and nearby a strong fortress enclosing "a goodly furnished home." There rode out from this place a woman arrayed in a blue hood, purple embroidered mantle with gold embroidered gloves. There were sandals on her feet and the horse furnishings were finely adorned. She returned to the fortress without approaching them, but afterwards a maid-servant came to them inviting them within the walls. They were, again, royally entertained and as they were about to depart on the following morning the lady of the house suggested: ? Stay here for this is a place where old age has no place; rather you will keep what age you have at present and long life will follow attended by every joy and delight." Obviously, the travellers had attained Hy Brazil. "Why," questioned the sidh-queen, "go wandering longer from island to island under the western sun?" "How came you here" asked Maelduin? She replied: "There dwelt a good man on this isle and I was his wife and these seventeen maidens his daughters and our children. When he died their was no heir, so I am queen, and go daily to judge the disputes of those others who live here." Following her advice they lived with the sidhean for three winter months but it seemed to them more like three years and they soon talked of nothing but Ireland. When Maelduin refused to set sail for home the men murmured that Maelduin had more love for the queen of this place than his homeland and friends. Convinced by them, Maelduin once set sail, but the queen threw a clew and line after them and drew them back to dockside. Thereafter the group remained hostage for nine more months. On the next escape attempt, the queen threw the clew again and it lodged in the arm of a sailor. Seeing this Maelduin cut the arm off with his sword and thus they escaped from Tir-nan-Og.


Gaelic, maille, armour; duin, man; the carrier of a maul or heavy weapon. The name may also have reference to the Maelstrum. the Norwegian whirlpool which this explorer visited. Whirlpools were percieved as the result of grindstones or mauls operating on the sea-bed. Maelduin’s Isle, mentioned below, confers exactly with Brendan’s Isle. If this account is believed Brendan arrived first at this place.

At the next stop, they plucked red berries from trees which looked like willows or hazel. It fell Maelduin's lot to sample this fruit, but the juice plunged him into a coma and they thought he was dead. After twelve hours be became conscious although hung-over. So his crew gathered the fruit of the land, moderating its alcoholic effect by mingling it with water. Thus supplied they rowed eastward. At another large island overgrown with yew and oak trees, they found meadows, sheep, a Christian church and a fortress. Within the church was an ancient cleric, who declared himself, "the fifteenth man in a community of blessed monks. We went forth on our pilgrimage upon the boundless ocean and came to this island. All are dead except me." Here they lived for another season. In the spring a huge eagle-like bird came to their island carrying green leaves and grape-like berries in its talons. It sat wearily pecking at the fruit 106

as Maelduin and his men approached, but the bird did not heed them. Later that day, the first bird was joined by three others and then they flew off into the quarter from which they had come. The nearby lake was reddened by the berries the birds carried and Diurin became convinced that a plunge into the waters would renew his youth. The others were less certain, but Diurin did bathe, and fact or fancy, he suffered no weakness nor infirmity, nor failing of eyesight, nor loss of tooth or hair throughout a very long life. Bidding farewell to their host they sailed now to an island around which was a fiery moving magical circle. Within it was an open doorway and as it came opposite them they could briefly see the indwellers, humans who were beautifully formed and dressed. "Pleasant it was to harken to their drinking songs and hard to depart, so delightful was their voices." They now turned the prow southward and found a man plastered close to a broad rock clothed only in his own white hair. "I was from Rorach in Ireland," admitted the man, a cook at a monastery. Is old the food and treasures of my brethren for treasures and jewels and became proud and haughty. They rejected me so I set to sea in a hide boat but I was driven to mid-ocean by contrary winds and in this place came upon one like myself but sitting upon a wave. When he asked where I was bound he said that my only destination would be a land of the damned for he could see I was surrounded by a crowd of sea-demons. Then he demanded I throw my treasures overboard or that my craft would remain motionless on the sea." So I did so and then landed upon this crag where I have lived for seven years and now do penance. Here I receive food each day and neither wind, nor wet, nor cold affects me." Then the hermit said, "You will all reach home except one man. And Maelduin you will have your murderer, but slay him not, for the God has spared you many times from perils at sea.” So they continued to the next place, an island filled with sidh playing and laughing without pause. The one who explored here did not return to the ship just as the two holy men had predicted. After this they landed on another island deserted of all but cattle, kine, oxen and sheep. Here they saw falcons exactly like those found in Ireland, so they noted their direction when they flew into the southeast and they rowed after them. Their next landfall was that which had been first in their voyage. At the door of the fortress on that island they heard a man muttering that Maelduin was on their trail. A second said it was more likely he had drowned, while a third suggested, "Mayhaps he will wake you from your sleep tonight." "What shall we do when he comes?" asked a fourth. "Welcome him gladly, " suggested the chief among them, "for I have waited too long for his vengeance and he has suffered much in getting it!" At that Maelduin struck the knocker on the door and entered to tell his former enemies of the great things seen on the ocean-sea. Afterwards Maelduin retired to his own district and Diurin took the silver net he had stolen and laid them on the altar at Armagh. Their adventures were soon carried far and wide; the high-bard of Ireland remembered them, and they were afterwards written so that men might appreciate the marvels and the generosity of the Christian God.


In Maelduin’s story there are a number of incidents that have connections with tales told by later travellers on the Atlantic: In the narrative an antagonistic ?smith” supposedly threw a fiery mass after the explorers so that the sea boiled around them, although they were not actually hit. In the ?Navigatio Brandani” we find his ship approached a similar island where ?a barbarian came running to the beach carrying a long pair of tongs in his hands bearing a fiery mass in a skin of immense size and heat.” He threw this after the alarmed Christians as they retreated in their coracle, and continued to lob missiles after them when they were a full stadia away at sea. Where the masses fell into the sea, the water ?boiled as if it were a fire-spouting mountain, and smoke arose as if from a baker’s oven.” When the Old Norse travelling with Karlsefni came to America they also fled ?with appropriate haste” before ?the black ball of the Skraelings (aboriginals).” These objects appeared to the Europeans to be something like ?a sheep’s paunch” flung from the end of a long pole, which made a terrifying sound as it passed through the air. Schoolcraft (1851) mentions this device as the traditional weapon of war of the Algonquin Indians who l;ived on the northeast coast of America. He said that it consisted of ?a great round stone sewed into a piece of raw hide and fastened thereby to the end of a long wooden shaft.” The shaft was roatated overhead, and maximum velocity having been been attained, the missile was released. Nansen, and others, have taken the view that this weapon unites all these stories of travel in a single fictitious corpus, but his opinion solidified before Norse artifacts were actually located in Newfoundland. It is more likely that this weapon was rather widely distributed and encountered by more than one journeyman. Such ?catapults” were actually fairly well known in ancient Europe. One is mentioned in ?The King’s Mirror.” It had ?a long beam beam or lever arm, at the outer end of which was a bowl or sling, wherein was laid a heavy round stone, or more rarely a barrel of jarökol (i.e combustibles and projectiles).” Elaborating, this reference says: The mineral matter was a mixture of coal and sulphur; the stones for casting were made of baked clay containing pebbles. When these clay balls burst from their bag and were slung they themselves fragmented into small bits so that the enemy had nothing to throw back.” In this instance the weapon was carried by the Old Norse when they warred against the native Greenlanders, and the active end of the device was described as ?a great black ball resembling the paunch of a sheep.” In some of the tales it was referred to as a prándr fisiler, which relates to the Norse word fusillus, an implement for striking fire, and our word ?fuse.” Thus, ?a fused bag.” We think this was the equivalent of the Gaelic erball , or ?air-ball.” Currently the latter word continues as the descriptive for an animal tail, thus ?a length of cord-like matter with a ball at the end.” In ancient times this weapon may have been the infamous gae-bolg carried by Gaelic warriors such as Cú Chullain. It was said that the weapon was first fashioned by Bolg, the son of Buan, ?a champion from the eastern parts of the world.” from the bones of a sea-monster which he found on a berach. Of this material he constructed ?a spear,” which he gave to the warrior named Jubar who passed it on to another, who gave it to Aoife. She gave it to Cú Chullain and with it he killed his son, a number of enemies and his own friend Ferdiad. It is clear that this was no traditional weapon for Cú Chullain was near losing his battle when he called for his charioteer to throw the weapon to him: ?Ferdiad now raised his shield again, but at that moment Cuchulain seized his Gae Bolg in his toes, and drove it upwards against Ferdiad (beneath his body armour) and it pierced through the iron apron and burst in the three millstones that guarded him, and passed deep into his body, so that every crevice and cranny of his body was filled with barbs.” Notice that gae-bolg is itself descriptive: gae, or gabh, ?a crafty trick,” being derived from gad, a withe, or switch, or rod, 108

conferring with the Norse gaddr, ?a stinging rod.” Bolg is related to the modern bolla, a boll or bag or bowl, as well as to bolt, a welt. We think this weapon is that referred to elsewhere by the Gaels as the earball, literally an ?air-ball.” The explosion of the device is mentioned in Biskupa Sögur when it was demonstrtated at the court of Eric Magnussonm, at Bregen, Yuletide, 1294. Laurentius Kalfsson, the author of this saga, says that Thrand showed him the ingredients necessary to produce a herbrester, or ?air-burst,” viz. ?fire, brimstone, parchament and tow (saltpetre).” Cú Chullain was active just before the Christian era, so if he possessed one of these air-bombs, the secret of gunpowder was abroad in Europe long beforer the fourteenth century when it came into general use in warfare throughout the northwest. It is generally thought that gunpowder originated with the Chinese and it is, today, a simple mechanical mixture of about seventy to eighty percent saltpetre with the remaining ingredients being about ten percent each of charcoal and sulphur. In Thrasnd’s demonstration it was noted that the herbrester was so loud that women in pregnancy delivered their children, and that men were forced from their chairs ?or had various fits.” This was a valuable side effect for it was noted that those who had not previously encountered this fire-bomb often fled before they felt its effects. This noise may compare with the mythological vábrester referred to in the Fosterbrothers Saga. It was said to be ?a crash announcing disaster or great news.” Elsewhere it is entitled the vederbrest, ?a sudden noise causing surprise and terror.” Both words confer with Ve, the elemental god of the wind. The Grönlandske historiske Mindesmærker, mentions the similar isbrester or jökulbrester which used to be heard in Iceland. Notice also the Norwegian Book of Vanagastus, where mention is made of Luridan (a god of the wind) who is ?always at enmity with fire, and thus wages war with the firey spirits in Heckla (a volcanic mountain)... When the battle is upon the mountains, the spirits of the air are often worsted, and then there are great moanings and doleful noises heard as far away as Russia and Norway for many days after.” These sounds were likely volcanic in origin, and some may have come from temperature changes in glacial sheets of ice, but clearly others may have been sounds from tools of battle. As we have said Maelduin and Brandon were both driven from the land by strange weapons. Remember that Brandon fled from a hostile native bearing ?slag in a long pair of tongs.” Nansen has noted that scorium, ?slag,” is used in medieval Latin as a side-form of corium, an animal’s skin or hide. There is no reference to explosions or fire enamating from the poles which the skraelingr whirled ?against the sun” when they came to visit Karlsefni’s settlement in North America at a somewhat later date, but mention was made of a doleful whirring nose made by the ?black ball” as it was slung away from the poles. In the Grönlendinga-thattr it is related that the natives made a second attempt to trade with the Norse but a misunderstanding led to further hostilities. At exactly the moment when one of the skraelings was killed by Karlsefni’s servant, a brest mikinn, or ?great crash” was heard, suggesting that the natives may have known more about this technology than the Norse visitors. It is almost an historical convention that the Algonquin Indians of the St. Lawrence valley learned the game of lacrosse from the Norsemen or Greenland eskimos, and it is guessed that the Greenlanders got the game from Europeans. The original lacrosse stick was structuurally very like the gae bolg and is also reminiscent of the magical Gaelic stick carried in the game of caman which the Irish call ?shinty” and the English ?hooky” or ?hockey.” Caman makes reference both to the ?crooked” stick used by players and to a hollowed plain which served as a playing field. This name is also given to the staff carried by the calluinn-man at the 109

holiday known in English as the Hogmanay (New Years). At the free end was the caesin-uchd, a ?breast-strip” made of sheep-skin, which was used in ritual magic. It is just as likely that lacrosse stick was descendant from Celtic as Norse sources, and it is even possible that the transmission of ideas was from west to east rather than the reverse. Nansen, and scholars of his day, were convinced that all ?civilizing influences” and technical know-how travelled from east to west, thus he concluded that the Irish tales of run-in with staff-carrying natives were nothing more than ?an echo of the classical Cyclopes of the Æneid and Odyssey.” He thought it likely that the great stones thrown at Odysseus were ??modernized” by the saga-writers, who had transferred medieval European catapults and explosives to the Indians.” That hypothesis suffers from the fact that the Celtic tales (even in written form) pre-date the medieval period. Nansen is also fond of the idea that the old Irish legends of fortunate islands located in the western ocean are ?derived from classical myths of the Elysian Fields and the Insulae Fortunatæ.” In point of fact, Greek and Roman legends represent nothing more than a shared belief with the Celts and the Norse that there was land far to the west. It seems to us that myth and legend are interactive and it may actually be the case that the classical tales originated in northwestern Europe. During the Middle Ages many people became armchair travellers because the church discouraged investigations into potentially damaging realities. The Venerable Bede, an AngloSaxon ecclesiastical historian, who lived between the years 673 and 735, interviewed a Northumbrian who had been revived from the dead, and repeated a tale of his journeys in the after life: He was apparently led first into the northeast of the world, a place provided for those who had died but were having second thoughts about accepting Christianity. This purgatory was said located within a vale of great breadth and depth and of infinite length. On the left were dreadful flames; on the right, violent hale and cold snow flying in all directions. Both places were full of men’s souls, tossing and turning as if in a violent storm.” A guardian angel assured his guest that this was not hell but a place of temporary torment for those who had rejected Christ in life. If they recanted they were quickly accepted into Heaven, if not they were shunted to a place further east, where one might observe ?black globes of flame rising out of a great pit..the flames thereof being alive with human souls.” There was no doubt about the identity of this place, so the two observers hurried on to the south-east, a land ?full of fragrant flowers where assemblies of men dressed in white rejoiced together.” This was not heaven which was said to be still further east and barred from living men by walls of fire.

The Island of Brendan the Navigator has most often been charted in South Atlantic waters, but there are many exceptions as one approaches the the seventeenth century. Included in the latter category is a map recently recovered from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, which places it on the St. Pierre Banks, west of the Grand Banks, just above the part of the continental slope known as the Laurentian Cone. "Plan de Geometral de L'isle Tere-Neuve" was found in the random assembly of original and photocopied maps from abroad brought to 110

Canada by the National Archives. A curator noted that this "quirky and puzzling" map showed two imaginary landfalls "S. Brandon" at the edge of the Cabot Strait within 100 statute miles of the island of St. Pierre, and "Ste. Croix", shown almost an equal distance seaward. The map is known to have been penned as late as 1715 and "shows more place names than any previous map of Newfoundland and Labrador, although the information for Cape Breton is at least 100 years out of date (for the time of the drawing). It shows communities in Newfoundland that never existed, as far as we know. It seems so illogical!"


Gaelic, brenn, the Brythonic form of bran a raven or crow. A root is gra, cry, hence the English crane. ?Much used in personal and river names.” The latter part of the word seems to be donn, brown, dust coloured, perhaps referring to the wearing apparel of a monk. This word relates to Domhnach, Sunday, and the pagan sea-land of An Domhain.

One possibility is that the island of "Saint Brandon" represents a remembered place submerged by the sea in the first post-glacial years. Its remains may not be deeply submerged, parts of the St. Pierre Banks being as little as 50 feet below sea-level. On the other hand, this mythic land may have existed during the period of first European exploration. The sea-slope here is geologically a very unstable place, and in this century the most severe earthquake ever recorded on the eastern coast of America, set off an earth slide that cut the Trans-Atlantic communications cables at exactly this location. It takes little imagination to suppose an earlier event that might have carried this "earthly paradise" on a great flood along the Cabot Strait depositing it finally on the Sohm Abyssal Plain, one of the deepest parts of the Atlantic. When the French came to Atlantic Canada, one of their missionaries named Chrestien LeClerq convinced himself that they were the first to present the Christian cross to ?these barbarians.” A patriarch at Gaspe assured him otherwise: ?Thou are not yet forty years old, and for only two have dwelt among us. Even so you pretend to know our maxims, our traditions and our customs better than our ancestors who gave them to us. You see each day the old man Quiodo who has lived through 120 years. He saw the first ship of whites land in this region (by computation as early as 1567). He has said to you often enough that the tribes at Miramichi did not receive the use of the cross from these strangers and that his own knowledge of it is longer than this, having come to him not from these men but from his fathers, who lived at least as long as he did. Accordingly, you are not positioned to judge whether we have the Cross of Christ from the French or received it long before your kind came to our shores.” It is probable that the flow of men to the west never ceased but the fanciful voyages of Maelduin were almost certainly assimilated into those of Saint Brendan the Navigator, a man 111

whose reality is less questioned. Brendan was born at Fennit in County Kerry, Ireland, in the sixth century. He was trained as a monk in Galway and returned home to establish a monastery overlooking the sea. From his youth he had heard of Tir-nan-Og, the stories of far off island having persisted into Christian times with the difference that the promiscuous men, women, giants and little folk of the isles had been replaced by Christian martyrs. Barinthus, a fellow monk, and grandson of King Niall, told Brendan he had sailed to "The Land of the Saints," located on an island "resplendent in beauty, full of fragrant apples.” Perhaps directed by this, Brendan had a dream in which an angel of the Lord directed him to seek the Blessed Isles. Following his vision. the monk gathered some like-minded individuals and they built "very light vessels, ribbed and sided with wood, strengthened with iron and covered with oxhides. They smeared the joinings with myrrh and bitumen, pitch and rosin and fitted them with three rows of oars to each boat and sails made from the skins of animals. Twenty men were given to each of the craft and the monks put in food for forty days, butter and tallow to dress the hides, water in goatskins and the wine needed for mass. Their bed were laid in the bottom of heather and beach grasses." Unlike Maelduin, these Christian travellers did not seek out a druid for their blessing but went instead to Saint Enda at Inishmore. Three days later they set sail from the Aran Isles heading into "the strong-maned sea." These eccentric tourists started their voyage at the beginning of the sixth century, the beginning of the "Dark Ages", but their tale, Navigatio Sanctii Brendani, went unwritten until the tenth century when it became the best-seller of its time. Under this circumstance it is not surprising that Saint Brendan came to represent an amalgam of adventurers although "the sights and events accord with actualities in the midAtlantic." Maelduin was warned by his druid against taking more than seventeen men aboard his ship, but he carried three extras and all were lost on land or sea. Saint Brendan was given similar advice but at the last moment took on a jester. On one of their first landfalls they were met by mice "as big as cats", who quickly stripped this fellow to "bare bones strewn along the shore." Brendan approached an Isle of Birds, where he found embodied the souls of the former angels who had allied themselves with Lucifer in the great fall from glory. Like Maelduin the voyagers encountered a hermit stranded on a small islet in the middle of nowhere. Instead of a greedy cook, this person proved to be Judas Iscariot, standing in the sun awaiting his final punishment. After dark Judas said he was tormented by devils. Before passing by, Brendan directed a few Christian prayers at this unfortunate guaranteeing him a few extra hours of lesser agony before commencing the next week's torment.


Woodcut of one of the unusual islands visited by Brendan, where he was confronted by a fire-throwing demon. Mount Hekla in Iceland is shown here being harnessed to smelt metals.

At a later date they approached what they interpreted as the gates of Hades, a place where they saw a mountain rising directly out of the sea, the sky "full of clouds and smoke about its summit." The peak of the mountain was seen to be clear of clouds and shooting fire into the air. They heard noises like thunder and afterwards inhabitants of the place came out (as they did to greet Maelduin). Their leader, "hairy and hideous, begrimed with fire and smoke" cried "Woe! woe! woe!" Alarmed Brendan thrust a cross in his direction and commanded that the brothers put on additional sail. Seeing that they were leaving the savage "rushed down to the shore bearing in his hand a pair of tongs with a burning mass of slag which he threw after the Christians. Where it fell the sea fumed up like a heap of burning coals and a great smoke arose as from a fiery furnace." Afterwards the people of this isle returned to their smithies and stoked up their forges so that the island seemed on vast globe of fire. When they could no longer see the island, the brethren could hear the loud wailing of the damned and perceived a noticeable stench far out at sea. These voyagers also encountered something similar to Maelduin's columns, which appeared to be made of crystal from top to bottom. Everything could be seen through it yet it seemed harder than glass. They entered this strange floating island through "one of many doors" afterwards spending a whole day skirting a single quarter. Obviously Brendan was sailing 113

in a cold climate but later he became becalmed in a southern sea where the surface of the water was so thick with seaweed it looked like "a thick curdled mass." In St. Brandan; a Medieval Legend of the Sea, edited by Thomas Wright (1844) this peculiar incident is also related (edited into modern English): ?And then they sailed forth and came soon after to land, but because there was little depth (of water) in some places and great rocks in others they went at last uppon an island, believing themselves to be safe. Here they made a fire to dress their dinner, but Saint Brandon remained still in the shipp. And when the fire was right hot, and the meat near done, then this island began to move; whereof the mon ks were afraid, and fled anon to the ship, leaving the fire and meat behind them, and they marvelled sore at the moving (of the place). And Saint Brandon comforted them and said this was, in fact, the great fish Jasconye, which laboureth night and day to put his tail in his mount (thus: the ?Great Worm” of Anglo-Saxon and Norse mythology). This incident is also related in the South English Legendary, a collection of the versified lives of the saints, put together by a committee in Gloucester at the end of the thirteeenth century. That account says The monekes wende up to the ylle, ac seint Brendan noght; The monekes gonne make here, mete of that hi hadde-broght. Hi makede fur, and soden then hem fisch in a cauldron faste; Er this fish were i-sode, somdel hi were agaste. For tho this fur was thurf hot, the yle did quakede anon, And with great eir hupte al up; this monekes dradde echon, Hi bidhulde hou the yle in the see wende faste, And as a quic thing hupte up and down, and that fur fram him caste. He saum more than tuei myle while this fiur i-laste. The monekes i-seghe the fur wel longe, and were sore agaste; Hi cride yurne on seint Brendan, what the wonder were. ?beoth stille,” quath this gide man, ?for noght ye nabbe fere! Ye weneth that hit beo an yle, ac ye thenceforth amis, Hit is a fisch of the grete see, the gretteste that ther is, Jacsom he is i-cleped, and fondeth night and dai To putte his tail in his mouth, ac for gretnissse he ne mai.” After many sundry adventures the Navigator encountered a dense cloud and knew they were near the Land of the Saints, for angels had told him that this island was always enshrouded in fog. Seven years after their first sailing Brendan's crew rowed into to harbour and saw a land thickly set with trees laden with fruit. All the time they traversed this land, no night fell on it, but the sun shone like it does at meridian. For forty days they viewed the land in various directions and could never come to its end. Their explorations ended by the vastness of the project, the travellers now came upon a young man who confirmed their suspicions: "This is the land you have sought, but could not immediately locate as Christ the Lord wished you to see the glories of the ocean. Return now to the land of your birth, bearing with you as many precious stones and those fruits your ships can carry. In years hence this same land will be made manifest to those who come after you." This said and done, Brendan "set sail, in a direct route 114

eastward, under God's guidance, and arrived at last at his own monastery."


In Thomas Wright’s interpretation, it is said that this new landfall was found three days west of the encounter with the ?great serpent,” often referred to as a whale: ? And when they had sailed west for three days and nights they saw only land, wherefore they were right joyful. But soon after, in God’s time, they saw a fairy land, full of flowers, herbs and trees, wherefore they thanked the Lord for his good grace, and before long went upon that land. And when they had gone long in this place they came upon a full fairy well, and near it stood a fairy tree, full of bird’s nests, and on each branch sat a fairy bird, and they sat so thickly that the leaves of the tree could not be seen. Their numbers were so great, and the songs they made so merry that it was a heavenly noise to hear. Wherefore Saint Brendonnnn kneeled down on his knees, wept for joy, and made devout prayers unto the Lord God, asking that be revealled what these birds meant. And before long one of the birds left the tree and came to the saint amd mede full merry noise before him like a fiddle, a hymn of the most joyful kind. And Saint Brendon demanded that this biord tell him the cause of their thickness on the tree and why they sang with such joy. And the bird spoke, saying, ?Sometime we were angels in heaven, but our master Lucifer fell down to hell because of his high pride. We fell with him, some higher, some lower, according to our individual offenses. But because our trespass was small, our Lord havve set us here in this place, where we are free of all painn and always in great joy and mirth. According to his pleasure we serve up hymns to him on this tree in the best manner we known. Sunday is the day of rest from all occyupation and on that day we all appear as white as snow.” And then the bird said, ?It is now xij, monethes (14 months?) since you departed from your abbey, and in the xij hereafter ye shall see the place to which ye deserve to come. Ye shall keep your Easter here with us each year and at the end of the appointed time come to the Londe of Byhest. And it was on Easter Day that the bird said these words to Saint Brandon. And then the flow flew back and sat on the tree. And then the birds sang once more, and after supper Saint Brendon and his fellows went to bed, ansd slept very well, and on the morning they arose in good time, and then the birds began matins, the prime and the hours, and all such services as Christian men used to sing.” The saints and heroes privileged to glimpse some aspect of the Netherworld described it as a better place than any mortal land. Here there was eternal spring, eternal youth, eternal sunshine, clean water and perfumed winds, and meditation. The meadows of the west were unspoiled, ?clad in flowering clover all bedewed with honey.” Its trees were crowded with songbirds and bent with mellow fruit. Those who came to the far isles in life were only visitors to the abodes of the gods, the giants and the little people, and were always returned to the land of men to meet their death before they could be at rest beyond the western sun. The Greek Isles of the Blest had their matching Hades, just as the Norse Valhalla had Nifhelheim. The Celtic Land of the Dead was never as separate from their Land of the Living; these races expected neither reward nor punishment for the act of living. The word ifrinn, ?hell,” does exist in old Gaelic, but derives from the Latin infernum and is clearly a Christian addition to the Celtic notion of an Otherworld.


The earth goddesses of the Brugh na Boyne, had as their ultimate death-world, Tir na t’Samharaidh, the ?Land of Summer,” a place obviously closer Tir nan Óg than the dreary northern nether lands associated with An Domhain. The dead lands included the Fomorian ?winter-islands” of Dun Sciath, the ?Fortess of Shadows,” and Hy-Falga, the ?Hidden Place.” Summer Land was, or lay close by Magh Mell, the ?Plain of Happiness,” and Tir na mBeo, the ?Land of the Living.” As we have said,Samh was the goddess of the easy season, the ritual bride to the kings of Tara, one of the Daoine sidh, who came annually out of the Brugh na Boann to celebrate beultainn, the ?Fires of Beul.” Her name, like that of her male associate Beul , has gathered about it the characteristics of numerous local deities such as the bas-finne, the ?death-maidens” who the Norse called the valkyra. Particularly allied with Samh is the Fomorian sea-goddess known as the Mhorrigan, the youthful form of Mebd and Macha. She is often also seen as affiliated with Aoine and the matriarch of the Daoine sidh, the deity called Anu or Danu, who is ultimately Domnu, the creator-goddess equivalent of the male Donn. Her over-wintering form, the Macha was most often referred to, less formally as the Cailleach bheurr, or ?Winter Hag,” although she was sometimes designated as Cailleach beara, the ?Bear Woman.” She was also called Bui, the ?Pale Yellow One,” goddess of the winter son, the half-year mate of the enfeeebled and white-haired Lugh, in his guise as the god of the dead lands. Because she controlled the winds of winter this goddess was alternately called Fea the Hateful, from the Gaelic ve, the verb ?to blow.” Bui is obviously Búanann, also seen as Boann or Boyne, the Mother of Heroes. In some tales. she is spoken of as ?the lady who taught martial arts and ran a school for warriors. The name signifies <lasting one, ’ ? but she is more obviously Boanu or Anu, the ?Cow-fire” goddess. Also associated was Cathubodua, the ?Warrior cow-person.” The Book of Lecan says that she was regenerated as a virgin maiden on seven important ocassions, and married at least seven kings. She had fifty foster children in addition to those from her own loins, and”founded many tribes and nations.” This is quite probably Mebd Lethdearg, of the ?Red Side,” the daughter of Conán of Cuala, a queen of Leinster. She was represented as a goddess of soveranty to whom it was necessary for the king to be ritually married to be legitimized. Although she had numerous affairs she was wife to nine high-kings, icluding Conn of the Hundred Battles, Conn himself, Con’s son Art, and Art’s son Cormac in the short list. The interaction of the Mhorrigan withthe Milesians is exemplified in the case of Niall Noighiallach:, the son of Eochaid mac Muchtra, the twelfth king to bear the name Eochaid. This king of Munster had a pedigree reaching back to Ith son of Bregon so he was in the line of succession for the high-kingship except for the fact that he was a goill after the fashion of the Cailleach Bheurr. That lady was often said to possess a single virulent eye, and this was also the case with the king. The term goill embraces more than this ?blemish” including general distortions of the face, blubber lips, inane immobile grins, pock-marks, the wry-mouthed condition, crossed-eyes and similar genetic or accidental ?problems.” The people of Munster 117

all suffered from their relationships with the Fomors, and the king more than others since this ?defect” barred him from the throne at Tara. Eochaid was king at the time of Conchobar mac Nessa and formed an alliance with Ailill and Mebd during the Tain war. Niall ard-righ had no such problem and he came to the throne and ruled between the years 379 and 405 A.D. He raided Britain and Gaul during the time of Theodosius the Great being forced to retreat by the Roman general Stilicho. He was assassinated in Gaul by some of his own people which he was ?distracted” by some of the local women. He was te progenitor of the very successful Ui Néill, or O”Neill dynasty, but the main point here is the fact that he was Eochaid’s youngest son, and probably would not have come to power except by way of a powerful omen: Once the five sons of Eochaid hunted and while they did developed a thirst. In a clearing they came upon an old hag ?with grey hair, black skin and green teeth (a reflection of the seahabitat).” She offered them water in exchange for a kiss. The three elder boys refused, but Fiachtra pecked her modestly on the cheek. At this she prophecized that he would reign briefly at Tara. Hearing this Niall must have suspected her identity and gave her a full fledged buss on the lips. She demanded intercourse and they retired into the woods where she shape-changed into a beautiful raven-haired beauty who identified herself as Flaithius, the ?Chieftainess.” After a successful romp in the moss, this mhorrigan told Niall that his line of kings would be the most successful in the history of Eiru. The ancient domain of the Cailleach in Ireland was said to have been the Baera Penninsula on the border between Cork and Kerry. In Scotland, this lady was said to be the creator-goddess of their land, and was thought to be embodied as a whirlpool found near Rathlinn Island the Hebrides. Coire-brecan, the ?Cauldron of the plaid” is usually associated with the Chailleach’s annual washing of her shawl just prior ot the storms of winter, but Ellis insists that Corryvreckan is named after Brecan, the grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages. He and his fleet had the audacity to approach this tabooed place and his fifty ships sailing our of Eiru for Alba were all lost. She was regarded as the mid-winter collector of souls of the dead, the huntress and gamekeeper of the northern lands, a creature who had a youthful counterpart in the Norse goddess Skadi. This goddess is occasionally represented as Breg, a form of Bridd, i.e. Bride or Brigit. WhereBreg appears she is noted as the wife of Dagda, and is a typical triune deity, her others forms being Meng and Meabel. The Summer Lands certainly included the Eilean Mhorrigan, or island of the Mhórrigán. The lady has her name from the Gaelic mhorr, ?great;” combined with ?rig,” queen and possibly Anu. The first word confers with muir, ?the sea,” thus her name may also be translated as ?seaqueen.” Her name is sometimes represented in Gaelic as Mórrigán or Mórrigú but it is not unknown in the mytholgy of other lands, being represented in English as ?Morgan.” In the ancient lands of the Bas-breton this lady was known all along the coast as the Korrigan or 118

Korrigwen and in Cornwall as the Horridgwen. As far south as Italy this sea-deity was recalled as FataMorgana, ?who is perhaps a personification of Fortune, a being of a higher order (of supernatural).” The Morgain of the Near East has even been philologically tied with the Arabic Merjan Peri, ?equally celebrated all over the (Far) East.” Every north western land had its version of this óighea muir , or ?sea-maiden,” who left descendants in the Anglo-Saxon mermaydes. In her book Somerset Folklore (1961) Miss Ruth Tongue has noted that the people of her coast related the morgan with the conger eel: ?There was once a sea morgan with a beautiful face, and she’d sing on the autu,mn evennings and anyone heard her had to go, and they’d wade further out and further to reach her till the quicksands got them, and the conger eels had a feast. They always knew when the eels barked she would be about on the low tide...” The dwelling place of ?sea-morgans” led to such names as the Glamorgan coast of Wales. Thomas Keightley says that the Breton korrigan had its counterpart in the creatures that the Romans called the gallicenae, the ?strangers of Sena (the Isle of Saints opposite Brest, France).” These were regarded as oracles of a Gallic god, living in the Mare Ofismician, the now called the English Channel. These were said to be nine virgin priestesses, ?able to charm the winds, turn themselves into what animals they will,, cure wounds, and predict the future; but the last they will only do for those navigators who go to that island to consult with them.” Keightley thought that these ladies had ?all the attributes of the Damoiselle de Lais de Marie du France.” One of this kind was wounded by Gugemar in the form of a doe, afterwards adressing him ?with a human voice.” Another ?loved Lanval, and carried him off to an island.” A third propositioned Graelent, and he and his mistress crossed ?a very deep and broad river” to arrive in her country. Like the Gaelic visitors from the Otherworld, the ladies of the lake appeared to visit their human lovers without being seen coming or going. Keightley says this matter may be resolved through a reading of Lai d’Ywence. The hero of that song is a shapechanger like these women, ?a real man, but one capable of assuming the shape of a bird.” Note the resemblance to Lugh who was often seen flying the sky as a hawk or an eagle. Lanval’s mistress informed him that that she was always available to him, although distance might separate them. He had merely to wish for her presence and, ?I will presently come to you, All commands ready to do. No one but you will me see, Or hear the words that come from me.” Granlent’s paramour warned him: I shall love you trewely; But one thing I forbid straitlÿ You must not utter a word apérte Which might our love make discovérte. I will give unto you richlÿ Gold, silver, clothes and fee. Much love shall be between us two 119

Night and day I’ll go to you: You’ll see me come to you alwáy With me laugh and talk you may. You shall no comrades have to see, Or who shall know my privacy. Take care that you do not boast Of things by which I may be lost. Unfortunately, humans were always human, and never able to live by their pledges of these sea-morgans, so the ladies always felt it within their right to ?travel on” to some new love when the oath of secrecy was inevitably broken. In relating the korrigans to the gallicenae, Keightley quoted an ancient Breton poem: ?There are nine korrigen, who dance, with flowers in their hair, and in robes of white, round the far founatins, by the light of the full moon.” Speaking of the sea-woman and their sea-daughters, Keightley added that, ?they draw down to their palaces of gold and crystal at the bottom of the sea, or of ponds, those who venture imprudently too near the edge of the water. Like the mermaids thaey sing and comb their golden hair.” In ancient Italy it was sometimes suggested that the Fata Morgana was not the ultimate authority in the affairs of men, but a spirit subject to the Demogorgone. Keightley says that this overlord of the witches was ?a being unknown to classical mythology,” but we would guess that reference was made to the ?demon gorgons,” the three fabled sisters of Greek mythology, who had snaky hair and faces that were so terrible they turned people to stone. According to Aristoto the Demogorgon had a temple in the Himalayan region, and here the Fates were summoned annually to give an account of their actions. ?To get there they travelled through the air in various strange conveyances, and it is no easy matter to distinguish between their convention and a Sabbath of the Witches.” On the other hand, the people of the continental lowlands of northwestern Europe were as certain that the headquarters of the faee qui estoit appéllee Morgane was ?en Iysle des Zeelande,” which is to say ?Zealand” or ?Sealand.” In Ireland her palace was said tio lie in the underground of Connaught province, but in Scotland it was more traditionally located within Coire-Bhrecain, or ?Corryvreckan,” the famous whirlpool located between the northern end of Jura and the Isle of Scarba within the Inner Hebrides. The Island of Eigg, which lies in this same group (whose name is prohibited from polite speech) is also her property being properly spoken of as Eilean Nem mBan More, the ?Island of Big Women.” Ocassionally her residence was said to be within the largest hollow hill on the Island of Pomona, which is in the Orkneys.

None of these lands may be counted as her place of origin, which is said to have been 120

the beginning-gap known as An Domahin. The Mhorrigan’s parents are not often mentioned as she is an elemental of the water, and possibly the elemental Domnu, the feminine form of Donn. the creator-god. She is sometimes represented as the daughter or ?wife” of Ler, Manann mac Ler, Lugh or the Dagda. but it appears that she stands beside each man-god, in turn, as his soveran-bride, the source of his temporary power. The Mhorrigan was the physical type of the Daoine mara, or ?sea-folk,” and for this reason there was always a bit of fish in her native form. She was not as obviously finned, or scaled as the male of her species, but she did have a transluscent skin, cod-fish like eyes with reflective red pupils, and a slight webbing of all her fingers and toes. Her hair was variously described as blond, red, or black, depending on whether it was seen in sunlight or beneath deep water. Some men who saw her said that her hair was actually the colour of rock-weed. A consumate magician she never had to put up with natural deficiencies and could alter her form, or colouration, to suit circumstances. She had the ability to take any organic form, and could become a seal, a fish, a half-fish, a dog, cat or horse on a whim. In Ireland, the offspring of her ocean matings were termed the múrivgach, the ?sea-daughters” or the mara-uara, the merrows, or mermen. In Scotland the males were the ceasg, or ?hairy ones,” and the females the maighdean mara, or ?sea-maidens.” In the northern islands they were termed sea-trows, or seatrolls, after Old Norse models of language. The Mhorrigan and all her kind had a vast knowledge of history, and could use this as a base for predicting the future. They also possessed the ability known as far-sight and the blighting- or evil-eye. The Mhorrigan was also a channel for what the old Gaels termed anim or ?spirit” (the word being linguisticvally attached to her name). The Celtic root was amnion, that which ?stirs” or causes motion, a word close to the Latin animus and our current word ?animal.” It was believed that the Anu could add to the life force of an individual, or subtract from it, in the sexual act. It was said that a highly spirited individual could profit from such a union as the flow of energies was always in the direction of the individual having the greater potential energy. This explains why the Mhorrigan always insisted on mating with an individual who was at least her equal in terms of lust and endurance. The Mhorrigan could increase the life expectancy of a lover by simply kissing him or blowing upon his face, but these acts could attenuate the life of a older man or someone with low energy levels. She could also act indirectlly by blowing her anim upon food or drink placed before a friend or an enemy. The Anglo-Saxon tribes of southern England eventually collided with the Celts and described the descendants of this sea-woman as the Blaec Annis. She was said to dwell within sloughs and backwaters emerging to abduct children or kill adults by blowing her fetid breath in their direction. Although the history of this goddess is incomplete it would appear that she allied herself with the Dagda when he and his sons invadedAn Domhain. It was thus that she became a totem of the land-dwelling tribe known as the Tuath daoine and left the Great Plain dispirited. Although she is often reopresented as the guardian of the Cauldron of the Deep, it is clear that she is the cauldron of regeneration, the source of balance between the world of living and dead 121

things. Peter Ellis has said that she is ?interchangeable with Macha, Badb and Nemain (Emain Macha),” but this is not entirely correct since the Mhorrigan was a source of constructive anim. The other ladies might act as a mhorrigan, but both were basically destructive elementals. It is really improper to label the Mhorrigan as embodying ?all that was perverse and horrible among the supernatural powers.” Where the Mhorrigan was seen to commit any act of terrorism she was no longer the great renewable virgin but a ?more mature”goddess. Nancy Arrowsmith is closer the truth in saying that the sea-folk ?reflect the nature of the waters which they haunt.” At times the morgans could be as serene as the calmest waters of summer, seeking to delight, charm and accomodate anyone they happened to encounter. A few days later their summery looks could change, and under black clouds, they might become baobhean, dragging victims into the deep, sometimes devouring them. The summer occupations of the sea-folk were usually less likely to lead to violence than the things they did during the winter months. In the warm days they were seen lounging off-shore, or on the headlands, singing, hair-combing, dancing and shape-changing so that they could attend the festivals of humans who lived near the seashore. At every time of the year the sea-people had charge of generating weather and brewing storms. They were considered responsible for upwellings, ?tidal” waves, hurricanes, sea-cyclones, the trade winds, and when men were killed by these phenomena they had charge of their spirits which were taken into the undersea kingdom. At one time it was commonplace for ocean-going captains to placate the mer-folk with gifts thrown into the sea. In the process it was often said that the wreath or offering of food was donated ?for the old cat,” who was, of course, the Mhorrigan. Many verbal bouts ensued between sea-captains and merpeople, the winner being considered the individuual who managed ?the last word.” In situations of extreme danger, some seamen promised a son or daughter, or the next born, in exchange for help in overcoming a storm at sea. Fishermen also routinely tried to bargain with the sea-folk because the taking of fish, or the crossing of wide expanses of water, was though impossible without the complicity of these suppernaturals. In Scottish folklore the tale is told of a fisherman, who being unmarried, and without heirs, promised that he would surrender his son at the age of twenty to a sea morgan. Eventually he did marry and his wife gave birth to a son, who learning of his father’s bargain tried to escape his fate by journeying in parts away from his homeland. During his trip, the lad was constantly reminded of his destiny by the strange creatures who opposed him, two Fomorian giants, an old crone and the three-headed serpent of Loch Laidly (representing the triune goddess). In each case he was able to put down these monsters, and after saving the life of a local princess, acquired her as a bride. The one thing that the Mhorrigan could never tolerate was a female competitor, so dead on the date of this young fellow’s twentieth birthday she appeared ?without leave or asking” and ?swallowed him whole.” This is a polite way of saying that the Mhorrigan was nubile and nearly irresistible as an object of lust. In polite versions of the tale, a sea serpent ?ensnared” the 122

youth and carried him down into the depths of the loch. The princess, to retrieve her prince from the Otherworld, took the advice of ?an old soothsayer” (druid) who remembered that mermaids were unable to resist beautiful music. The princess therefore took her harp to the shore and played upon it until the sea morgan surfaced. She then stopped her hand, at which the mistress of the seas asked her to ?Play on!” She said she would but only after seeing that her husband was unharmed. To oblige the morgan thrust the capotive man out of the water until he was vvisible above the waist. The musician then continued, and the piece was so sentimental that the mhorrigan lost her grasp and the princer shape-changed himself into a falcon which broke free. In one of the variants of this tale the ?sea-monster” regurgitated the man. Seeing that she had been tricked the morgan took the princess in place of the man who had escaped her grasp. The prince, in turn, consulted the druid, who assured him that there was only one way to overcome the morgan: ?In the island that lies in the midst of the loch is the white footed hind (doe), and if she is caught there will spring out of her a hoodie (crow), and if she is caught, out of her will come a trout, and the trout containeth an egg, and here is encapsulated the soul of the sea-maiden, and it the egg is crished she will die.” Now there was no known way of crossing to Eilean Mhorrigan for the sea-maiden routinely sank each boat and raft that ventured upon the ?loch” (a metaphor for the ocean). So it was that the prince decided to jump the gulf using his black stallion (a symbol of storm clouds ). On the island this prince called upon his magic black dog to track and bring down the doe. When the morgan shape-changed into a crow his totem falcon brought her down, and the trout was caught up by his magic otter. When the egg spewed from the trouts’s mouth, the prince put his foot upon it, and the witch cried out, ?Break not the egg, and all that you ask will be given up to you!” The prince then demanded his wife, and having her in his arms stepped down soundly upon the egg. It was never said that Mhorrigan was an immortal. Having complicity in the death of the Oolathair, she was subject to numerous reincarnations, but her elemental spirit could not be destroyed and re-emerged time and again as the renewed virgin of summer. In one of her first appearances among men, Mhorrigan assisted the Tuatha daoine in routing the last of the Fomoran sea-giants. When these god-warrior-magicians were, in turn, defeated by the Milesians she found no compromise in giving herself to the heroes among the Milesian invaders. It has been suggested that she was named Eriu when she and her sisters, Banbha and Foldha stood on the shores greeting these newcomers: ?Welcome warriors,” she supposedly cried out, ?to you who have come from afar this island shall henceforth belong, and from the setting to the rising of the sun, there is no better place than Ireland. Your race will be the most perfect the world has yet known.” As we have noted elsewhere the House of Donn was named after the death god, who was 123

sometimes associated with the Dagda and Bilé. In current folklore Donn has the same weight as Ler, or the Norse god Hler, being commonly associated with shipwrecks and sea storms. In some folklore, he is represented as the son of Midir, god of the Underworld. More often he is confused (and understandably so) with the eldest of the eight sons of Mil. It was this man who was hospitably greeted by the three soveran goddesses of Ireland, and he reacted by ?paying scant respect.” In this case, ?scant respect” meant a little more that ignoring her, for elsewhere it is reported that ?Eiru was overrun at Inver Sceni in Bantry Bay.” She survived long enough to predict the doom of prince Donn . The Milesians put to sea after this and Manann mac Ler caused a great storm to blow up against the invaders. In one version of events Donn lost his life while checking ouut the nature of this magic storm from the mainmast. Others state that he was killed attempting to make land, or on the land, and that his brothers agreed to his request that he be buried on an offshore island. Here the traditions of Donn og and Donn sean , ?Old Don) become intermmixed, for the Irish death god also had an offshore island entitled Tech Duinn, at the southwest of Ireland. In spite of this bad start, the Mhorrigan was always attracted to the newcomers, often with mutually fatal effect. She was central to the Táin Bó Cuailgne, ?the Cattle Raid of Cooley,” which is the most famous Gaelic epic. The first reference to it in written form is mentioned by Senchan Torpeist, the chief poet of Ireland, who died in the year 647 A.D. Surviving texts date much later than this, perhaps as late as the eleventh or twelfth centuries, but essentially all describe the troubles that a Connaught queen named Mebd had while trying to capture the prized Brown Bull of Cuailgne, which was kept in Ulster province. She led a host of warriors against Ulster, whose warriors wererendered useless by ? a strange debility inflicted on them by the the Macha. Only the youthful champion Cú chullain was unaffected by this ?curse of childbearing,”since he was in training in the Land of Shadows at the time of pronouncement. He defended the northern kingdom at the Ford of Ulster, until these men were relieved and able to come to his aid. As we will see, the Mhorrigan attempted to befriend Cú chullain while her two sisters fought against him. The eleventh century historian Tierna was astute in noticing that ?All historical records of the Irish, prior to the reign of Cimbaoth (ca. 300 B.C.) are dubious.” Much which followed was equally so, but it certainly marked the beginning of some firm ground for history. This was the time of the founding of the northern kingdom called Ulaid, or Ulster and at its centre was Emain Macha, now reprtesented by a few grassy ramparts near Ard Macha, now named Armagh. Emain is supposedly derived from eo, a bodkin and muin , the neck, hence ?a brooch worn near the neck.” The old Irish brooches were large circular things of silver or bronze crossed by a long thorn-like pin, and they do resemble the circular ramparts of the old Celtic fortresses. Perhaps Macha wore one of these? It is said that she was the the daughter of Aod ruairdh, the Ulster king, whose two brothers Dithorba and Cimbaoth succeeded him. ?they agreed, in turn, to enjoy the sovranty of Ireland.” Translated this meant they proposed to cohabit about with Macha, who was technically queen, but could not rule alone by the laws of the time. She decided against this arrangement, and fought and killed Dithorba, and forced Cimbaoth to accept her in a formal marriage. 124

The five sons of Dithorba were put out by this and fled into Connachta or Connaught where they plotted against Macha. Travelling on their trail the warrior-queen found them in a wooded region, where, wearied from a hunt, they were drinking and eating before an open fire. A master of disguise, or perhaps a shape-changer, the lady put on ?her grimest aspect.” Some have represented her disguise as that of an ancient crone, while others say she took on the looks of a war-goddess ?red all over, with the terrible flashing eyes as powerful as death itself.” Whatever the case the brothers were individually taken by her powerlessness or her sinsister beauty, and not recognizing her tried to lead her off into the woods for private parties. She overpowered them all by arms or magic, and returned with themas bound prisoners to Ulster. With the spear of her brooch she supposedly marked the circle of the first fortress of Emain Macha and set these captive princes at the work of masonry and earth-filling. This woman was the living model for the ?goddess” camed Macha, Emain Macha or Nemain . As we have already noted she was later reincarnate as the deer-like woman who went to live with the woodsman named Crundchu. When he wagered her in a race against the Ultonian horses this caused her to abandon Ulster for Connaught and place her curse for ?nine times nine generations” upon the fighting men of the north. The counterpart for the mature warrior-queenBaobd, was unquestionably Mebd or Maeve, or May, the daughter of the high-king Eochaid Feidlech. She may be remembered as the first wife of Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster. Leaving him she secured Connaught as her principality through a May-December union. After that she made a third marriage to Ailill of Leinster. It can be argued that she was the most engaging character in the Tain , for her antagonist Cu chullain, the Hound of Ulster, was predictably heroic. While Mebd was his equal in beauty and ferocity , she betrayed unusual appetites and an upredictable lack of fair play, to the extent that she might be called an anti-heroine. This mature queen of the Celts was very unlike the youthful raven- black Mhorrigan: A warrior who was lucky enough to escapeMebd’s attack described her as ?A tall, fair, long-faced woman with soft features. She had a head of cornyellow hair, and wore a purple cloak with five hands width of goldupon the shoulders. She carried a light, stinging, sharp-edged sword in her hand and held an iron sword in a woman’s grip aloft over her head. A massive figure...” For her own part Mebd said that she was ?the last and haughtiest” of the six daughters of the high queen. ?I always outdid them all in grace and giving and in battle and warlike combat.” Moreover, she had charge of a battalion of fifteen hundred mercenaries and an equal number of freeborn men. While her dominion was peopled by some of Milesian blood, the west of Ireland was largely a retreat for those whose ancestors had been Fiorbolgs, Tuathans or Fomorians.\ The problem of the brown bull arose from a domestic squabble in which the queen and her consort were comparing their earthly worth. Ailill pointed out the fact that his personal 125

possessions included the red bull called Finnebenach. the best of its breed in the land. Mebd, in a huff, went to her steward and asked if there was a better animal in Ireland, and he said there was; ?...the Brown Bull of Cuailgne that belongs to Dara, who lives in Ulster.” Mebd attempted to hire stud services but the drunken steward made a bad impression when he visited Dara’s complex. As a result Mebd was forced to make a foray into Ulster to take the animal. Ferdiad, the former friend of Cu chullain was now Mebd’s lover, but he would have marched against Ulster without this alliance, for he longed for vengeance because of the death of Deirdre and the sons of Uisna. Here it should be noted that the bull represented strength, virility and divine kingship. Druids bent on divination ate the flesh of the white bull ?from the sea,” drank its blood and slept within its hide. Their dreams were taken as an absolute reflection of coming events, for it was said that the hide would tighten upon the body of a false magic-worker, crushing the life from his body. The west of Ireland was always equated with the Otherworld that lay further toward the sun, and the advance of Mebd’s army may be read as the onfall of night and the forces of darkness. It was said that the two great ?bulls” of Ireland had originally been swineherds serving the kings of the Tuatha daoine. ?They had been successively turned into two ravens, two serpents, two human warriors, two demons, two animaculae, and finally fallen into the bodies of these two kine.” Those who gathered on the Connaught side were extraordinary: ?the seven sons Maines. all sonms of Aillil and Mebd, each with his retinue; Cet and Anluan , the sons of Maga with thirty hundreds of armed men; the yellow-haired Ferdiad with his company of Firbolgs; the boisterous Fomors who delighted in war and in strong ale. There came also Mebd’s men from Leinster, so difficult to control they were broken into small companies and dispersed among the others. Then there was Cor mac Conaire and Fergus mac Roi, and all the other exiles from Ulster, those who had revolted against the northern king for his duplicity with the sons of Uisna. Before hostilities commenced Mebd went to her chief druid and asked what might be the outcome of war and he was enigmatic saying only that she would survive all battles. On the way back from this meeting, she met an apparition from the side. ?a young maiden with yellow tresses that fell below her knees,clan all over in a mantle of green and holding a shuttle of gold for weaving upon the loom.” This was clearly a form of the Bas finne, one of the weavers of fate, and when questioned, she admitted being involved with ?weaving the hosts together for the foray into Ulster.” Mebd asked what material emerged and the maiden replied, ?All the fabric of the future is be-crimsoned.” Mebd was surprised at this answer for her spies had already told her that the warriors of Ulster were disabled by pains resembling childbirth. When she asked who would reduce her host she was told: ?I see a man of small stature, but the hero’s light is on his brown, a steripling young and modest, but a dragon in battle, by him your slain will lie thickly.” Notwithstanding, Mebd thought the foretellings sufficiently positive to proceed. While this was happening Cu chullain sent his mortal father Sualtam to Emain Macha to rouse the 126

troops. To block the progress of Mebd’s host Cu chullain journeyed south to Ardcullin and enacted magic at the standing-stone. At first none of the southern druids could undoe this magic and Mebd’s army of 54,000 men were forced to encamp in a sleet storm. When this geise came unravelled Cuchullain killed four men at the edge of the the host and impaled their heads on a four-forked pole. Again this was taken as a device requiring counter-magic, and again some time elapsed before the pole could be extracted from the ground. ?By these devices Cu chullain delayed the invaders until the men of Ulster had recovered from their debility.” In all of the earliest encounters Cu chullain was an unseen killer, a guerilla, slaying men by twos and threes. In one notable instance he killed a squirrel and a pet biord with his sling while they sat on Mebd’s shoulders. Afterwards, as the host moved closer to Ulster Cu chullain was seized by the riastradh, a ?battle frenzy,” usually said to have been brought on by drinking blood and other more active ingredients. In this condition the boy-hero was seen as ?a fearsome and multiformed creature such as had never been known before.” This ?frenzy” may have involved the magic of disguise as well as that of ventriloquism for it is said that the sound of his voice ?like that of a lion” came from all quarters, while his head was surrounded by ?a blaze of light.” At that, Cu chgullain made no attempt to harry the host provided that they made no advances and sent one warrior against him at a time. Tiring of this game, Mebd sent Natchtantal into combat, and taking a third of her army went by another route on a sudden foray into Ulster, penetrating as far as the northern coast at Dunseverick. There the keeper of the Brown Bull had taken refuge, and the raiders captured him and all the herds of the north, driving them south in full view of Cu chullain as they returned. Cu chullain killed the leader of the escort for the cattle but had no means of taking back the Brown Bull. The supposed object of the war having been obtained it might be suspected that Mebd would withdraw in triumph, but she smarted under the failure to kill Cu chullain and sent twenty warriuors against him at a time. He somehow kept them at bay. In the midst of this operation a curious incident took place: A young woman came to Cu chullain explaining that she was the daughter of a king, and attracted by tales of his exploits, had come to offer him her love. Tired from over-exertion, Cu chullain put her off saying he had no interest in women as things stood. Thus the woman ?clad in the mantle of many colours,” rewarded his rudeness saying, ?It will go hard with you for this act. When you do battle again I shall be the eel about thy feet in the ford.” Her chariot then carried her into the istance, where he saw her fly away as a crow. Immediately, the hero knew that he had rejected the love and help of the redoutable Mhorrigan. When Cu chullain fought next against Loch, the Mhorrigan appeared as his supernatural enemy. At one point she came charging at him in the form of a white heifer with red ears, but he turned her aside, blinding one of her eyes with the cast of his dart. She then came swimming up the river as a black eel, that attempted to upset him. While he was driving her off Loch was able to wound him. Again she attacked as her totem, the grey wolf, and again he was wounded, although he drove her off. At this his battle fury took hold, and he drove the gae bolg up against 127

Loch ?splitting his heart in two.” The Mhorrigan was nearly killed by these efforts, but so was Cu chullain, whose further duties at the Pass of Ulster had to be assumed by his father, the god named Lugh. With Lugh there fought one hundred and fifty boys of Ulster, those in their puberty, not afflicted by the curse of Macha. Three times they drove back the southern host, but were at last slain. Cu chulainn awoke from his wounds to see this carnage, and ?drove furiously round and round the host, and as he passed ?the demons, goblins, and wild things of Eriu all echoed his taunts.” In the uproar, the host thought that many men had descended upon them and fell to killing one another in the confusion of the moment. It was said that six scopre and ten princes were lost to Mebd as well as horse, women and wolf-dogs and common men without number. Here again, it is said that Lugh fought on at the side of his son. Cu chullain was now faced with the magic of the druids of clann Cailtlin and with battle against his former comrade Ferdiad, but he survived both encounters. In the meantime the Ulster druids were able to lift the curse of Macha and the hosts of Conchobar marched southward to relieve the long-suffering hero. ?And Conchobar’s armmy fell upon eight scores of men in Meath, who were carrying away a great booty of women-caoptives, and they slew all. Mebd was forced to fall back towardsthe south but stood at last on the Plain opf Garach in Meath. There she personally led three charges amidst the Ulstermen, but even so the men of Munster and those of Leinster retreated leaving the Connaught men alone in battle. and these were routed into their own country. Cu chullain even rode down the seemingly invincible Mebd, but finding her cowering under her chariot said, ?I am not wont to slay unarmed women.” He went further, protecting her from his own forces until she safely crossed the Shannon at Athlone. Thus Ailill asnd Mebd were forced to respect a peace that lasted for seven years. Mebd felt obligated to Cu chulllain for her life, but had a black hate for him because of the dishonour his bravery had settled on her. She sought vengeance and south the widow of the druid Catlain , whose family Cu chullain had slain. Pregnant at her husband’s death, this woman had given birth to three misshappen children, three boys and three girls, ?all mischevious, hideous, poisonous, born for evil.” Mebd hoping to use them sent them to learn the black arts of Alba. ?And even further they travelled acquiring lore, so that they came back mighty in their craft, well able to be loosed against Cu chullain. Aside from these foes, Cu chullain had enemies in Erc mac Cairbre, whose father he had killed in battle, and Lewy son of Cu Roi, the one time king of Munster. Mebd sent secret messages to all these folk, and they waited until the monthly curse of Macha again brought down the Ulstermen, and then marched to the Plain of Murthemney. There the new host encamped and the children of Catalin took hooded thistles and puffballs and leaves and made them into the semblance of marching men, and Cuc hulainn fought this fairy-host. Sickened and wearied from mock-battle he was forced to seek the healing house 128

in a solitary northern glen. While he recuperated, the druids filled the air with signs of war and loss, with flames and smoke and cries and wailings ?and goblin chatter and the sounds of trumpets of horns failing on the wind.” A daughter of the Catalin then put on the form of Cu chullain’s nurse and bade the hero rise up to defend Ulster. ?And the Mhorigan came and sat at no great distance croaking of war and slaughter.” Cu chullain was convinced and rising from his sickbed, called his chgarioteer to harness his horses and make read. Lost admidst plantoms the hero fought his way to the fortess of Emain Macha, which seemed to be aflame, but when he arrived it had suffered on damage and his wife Emer was unhurt. Nevertheless he departed for the south convinced that war was upon the land. At the ford upon the plain of Emain he saw the kneeling washerwoman, ?a young raven-haired maiden, weeping and wailing, and she washed bloody clothes which he saw to be his own.” It was soon after that Cu chulainn was tricked by three old hags (the Bas-finne) into eating dog-meat, which was his geis. Doomed to death by these omens of the Mhorrigan/Baobd/Macha , Cu chullain nevertheless extracted a heavy toll of death from his enemies befoire he died with his back to the pillar-stone, and the black crow plucked out his eyes. The Mhorrigan did not remain incarnate much beyond her nemesis,and her human counterpart, the queen Mebd , had no easy life in what remained of her eighty-eight years. Her lover Fergus was slain by king Ailill when he discovered the younger man bathing in a lake with his wife. Ailill was in turn slain by Conal of the Victories, and Mebd retired to Inis Clothrann (now known as Quaker’s Island) in Loch Ryve. Here she continued the practise of bathing each morning, and here Forbai the son of Conchobar discovered her ?and shot her with a bullet from his sling, so that she was smote in the centre of her forehead and fell dead.” In discussing the matter of warrior-queens Antonia Fraser noticed that such these strongwilled Bronze Age queens were no fable, but she thinks that ?the status of women as a whole was not superior to that of men.” ?The existance of these spirited and respected individuals represents a state of affairs which is a far cry from the dreams of true matriarchy and matrilineal succession, the evidence for which is ?very dubious,” and ?best consigned to the large corpus of myths (i.e. fabbles) surrounding Celtic society.” ? Fergus mac Leda is often represented as a king of Ulster, but as he was a contemporary of Conchobar it is necessary to assume that he was a sub-king, in the manner of Cu chullain. He fought with the forces of Ulster and survived all the troubles with the south. While he lived a race known as the Fiolan, the ?Earwigs” or ?Maggots,” dwelt in the far west led by a king known as Lubdan (pronounced youb-dan). This is an obvious compund of Lugh with Donn . The king’s bard, a man named Eisirt, had heard of a huge race of men living in the east in a land called Ulster, each of these giants able to annihilate a whole battalion of the little people. Thinking his own kingdom the centre of all power, Lubdan reacted by clapping the poor poet into prison while he rethought his concept of the lands overseas. The little fellow was a solid scientist and demanded to be allowed to travel to Ulster so that he could bring back artifacts which would prove his point. 129

The king allowed this, and it was thus that King Fergus found a little man at his gates, a persona able to be borne on the hand of the dwarf of the court. Notwithstanding his size, Eisirt proved a strong source of entertainment at court, being both wise and witty after the way of his profession. Eventually, the bard was allowed to return to the west, takking with him Æda , the court dwarf, who seemed a Fomorian giant in the eyes of Lubdan. Convinced that a race of giants existed in Ireland, Lubdan and his wide Bubo travelled there to see the sights in that strange place. Thus it was that Lubdan’s white steeds bore their chariots to the gates of the rath of King Fergus. Here, the couple were so amazed by the proportion of things that they decided to go no further than the king’s kitchen, where they might find a bit of porridge beforer teturning home. There Lubdan found he could only reach the rim of the porridge bowls set out for breakface, by standing on his steeds back. In the act of eating he became overbalanced and slid into the oatmeal, and was there found by the scullions. Taken to Fergus the poair were well treated but he refused all appeals to let them return to the west. The nubile Bubo (Boann?), who is obviously a type of the Mebd engaged in several spirited but difficult assignations with the giants, while her husband was diverted in tell the gilles how to do their work. At last, a host of wee folk came to Ulster seeking the release of their king. When Fergus refused, he soon found that the Daoine sidh were not without power: Soon the country was plagued by dry cows, defiled wells, and aborted pregnacies and blighted by crops that shrivelled without cause. But the king was obdurate and tried to ignore the dei terreni or ?earth-gods.” At last Fergus agreed to return the tiny monarchs if they would ransom themselves with some valuable from the Otherworlds. Thus, Lubdan suggested some objects for consideration: the cauldron which was always filled with food and drink, the harp that played without hands upon it, and water shoes, which allowed people to walk upon or under the water. Fergus was most impressed by this last object and agreed to take it in exchange for the realease of the Fiolan. This was not the end of the matter, for it is never easy for men to outwit the sigh. With the ?water-fins,” Fergus never tired of exploring the undersea lakes and rivers of Ulster. However, one day, in Lake Rury, he encountered the muirdrism, a spine-covered sea-monster, from which he barely saved himself by flying to the shore. From terror (or from poisonous contact) his mouth became twisted awry. AS no monarch couild hold power with a blemish, the memberrs of the court put away all mirrors to keep his condition from him. One day he unjustly struck a servant and the girl cried out: ?It would be better for you to avenge yourself against the fish that has so twisted your mouth than do brave deeds against women.” Fergus demanded to see a mirror and soon saw what she meant. Fergus now put on the magic shoes and went seeking the muirdris or ?sea-bramble,” (a sculpin?) The Ulstermen who stood watching on the shore saw the loch boil and redden with undersea action, and eventually the king rose with the monster’s head in his hand and his sword in the other. The blemish was gone, but tired from the effort he sank back into the water and drowned. 130

These are not the sole incidents that suggest relationships between the world of men and the Otherworld: There was Aoibhill, the ?Beautiful” who appeared to be a version of the Bas finne. She ruled from Craig Leith, the grey rock, located two miles north of Killaloe, a side of North Munster. She acquired Dubhlainn Us Artigan as a love interest and thus became the beansigh or ?bansheee” of Dal gCais, the clan O’Brien. Like many of the sea-maidens she was a patron of music and possessed an automatic harp. Unfortunately this music was the death-wail of the clan, and those who heard it were not expected to live. In remote records there is also talk of a Diarmuid , a minor prince of Ireland (unrelated to Diarmuid of the Love Spot), whose wife Bec Foldha was approached by early one morning by an Otherworlder who invited her to attend revels in the west. Without considering the consequences she accepted the invitation, and was returned the same morning before her husband had stirred from sleep. Little is known of this monarch or Crebhán, the man who was ?White clay.” in the hands ofNáir, the ?Shameful one.” This goddess from the Otherworld presented him with great treasures before returning him to Ireland. A tale equally lacking in detail is that of Giolla Gréine, the daughter of a human father and ?a sunbeam.” When her slim hold on humanity was revealled, the girl jumped into Loch Gréine, the ?Lake of the Sun,” and floated as far as the Daire Gréine, ?Oak Grove of the Sun,” being found drowned at Tuam Gréine, the ?Tomb of the Sun.” She may be associated with Lugh or with Ogma, since one of his alternate names was Grianainech, the one with the ?Sunny Face.” The Annals of the Four Masters tell us that a seamorgan was taken alive from Lough Neagh in 558 A.D. Murius Ó Conchuir, chief of the Munster pipers, is recorded to have left his home to live beneath the waves with a mermaid. This is not the only story of people taken into the undersea world by supernaturals. In the Book of the Dun Cow we are told of the flooding of Loch Neagh. A woman supposedly avoided death here when the ?gods of the ocean” gave her, and her dog, the means of surviving under water. Bored by a year beneath the flood she asked to be changed into a salmon and lived in this form for three hundred years, until she was rescued by Congall, who called her Muirigen the woman ?Born of the Sea.” Those who were perceived as ?sea-born,” were not always welcome in the kingdoms of men: Morann, ?Sea-fire,” who became the chief judge and druid of Ulster at the time of the Red Branch, was born with a caul or ?bag of waters” in place over his head. His ?father” judging him to be of inhuman blood, gave ordered that he should be drowned in the sea. It is now wellknown that those who are ?caul-born” cannot be drowned, but the servants attempted to carry out their orders. When they dropped the child into the ocean, the ?birth-cap” split and the child spoke to the men asked that he be rescued. The troubled gilles did not dare return with the child so they took it to the door of the smith for fosterrage. The craftsman raised the child and eventually returned it to the father. Morann’s most famous judgement was who should have charge of the education of Cu chulainn. The matter was referred to him when Conchobar mac Nessa’s druids could not settle the matter amongst themselves. Morann decreed that Sencha 131

should teach the boy languages and rhetoric, that Fergus mac Roth should be responsible for teaching him gamesmanship and that Amergin would instruct him in all other matters. In a like manner, men who came to the western shores were not invariably appreciated: This was the case with Móen , sometimes given as Maon or Maen. Ellis says that the name signifies ?dumb,” and he was later termed Labraid Loinseach, ?The Mariner Who Speaks” after he regained his ability to talk. Móen was the grandson of Ugani Mor, himself the foster-son of Macha. Ugani Mor was an extremely successful Gaelic warrior-king and managed to subjugate the greater part of Britain and a portion of the continent as far south as Muir Torrian, the Mediterranean Sea. Ugani was the common ancestor of the royalty of all the provinces excepting Munster. It was his son Labraid whose activities gave a name to Laighin or Leinster. Laighen’s own father was killed in by his uncle Cobthachach and the throne usurped. Cobthachach forced the young boy to eat a portion of his father’s heart, and this fearful act struck him dumb. Because the lad was ?blighted” he was regarded as no threat to the throne, but his father’s friends arranged for his transportation to Britain in case the uncle should change his mind. Labraid was reared in secret under the joint fosterage of Craftine, a celebrated harpist and Feirceirtine, a poet-philosiopher. In Britain he received a blow to his head when playing caman (hurley) and suddenly regained his speech. When Cobthahach heard rumouurs that his nephew now had the credentials to reclaim the crown of Ireland he sent men to assassinate him but the young man moved on to Gaul (perhaps the land of Gioll?) There he spent time in the kingdom known as Fir Morc, the land belonging to the ?Fisher-folk.” The ruler here was Sgurriath, the ?giant of the sharp hill.” whose daughter was Muiriath. the ?Sea-giantess.” Muiriath’s mother was the guardian of her daughter’s virginity, and it was said that she slept ?with one eye always open.” The girl fell in love with Móen and persuaded Craftine to teach her boyfriend the sleeptunes. Móen tried this magic on the household and the mother fell asleep so that the pair could make love. On waking the mother was immediately aware of a change in her daughter’s status, but she and her husband accepted Móen’s new position as son-in-law with good grace. Further, the king of the Gauls promisedMoen an army so that he could make an attempt to overthrow his evil uncle. From this invasion by the Gauls, the name of the province became Leinster, because these men were armed with broad blue-headed iron spears which were called laighne (pronounced lyna). As they were later alloted lands, and settled there the province became Laighin and the Norse called it Lein-star, ?the Place of the Spearmen.” The spearmen attacked while Craftine played his slumber tunes, and thus the Gauls were able to take Dun Righ, the ?Keep of the King.” It is said that Cobhthach retreated with thirty warriors into a hall,, where they were shut in and burned to death. Labra the Mariner now came to the throne, but after his succession it was noted that he invariably wore a golden helmet for all civic functions, and it was rumoured that he only had 132

his hair cut once a year, and that immediately afterwards the barber was put to death. Once the hair cutting chore happened to fall upon the only son of a poor widow. The women pleaded that her son be spared, and the not uncaring king willed that it would be so if the individual swore himself to strict secrecy. The young man, aware of his king’s dreadful secret fell into an lingering illness that was scarcely better than death. He consulted a druid who advised him to travel to the naerest cross road and tell all he knew to the nearest tree, making the tree promise it would tell no one. He did this, and his mind eased, returned to his trade. It was a willow tree that thus gained knowledge of the kings strange secret, and this tree was cut and made into a harp for Craftine. At its first playing the harp sang out: ?Labraid has the ears of a horse!” Over and over it repeated this espionage before the dumb-founded court. Knowing this to be the curse of his Fomorian heritage, Labraid removed his helmet and revealled his ?dreadful” debility. Because this ?blight” had not measurably affected the justice and harmony of his kingship Labraid was not required to step down, and thus a mark for racial tolerance and an understanding of those with physical defects. This tale is reminiscent of that of King Mark of Cornwall, the husband of the ill-fated Iseult , had the ears of a horse, and thus was nicknamed M’arch, the ?Son of the Horse.” As we have seen access to the west usally involved an imrama. While the water route was the most commonly used we have noted cases where people flew to the Otherworld, and then there were the souterrains, which offered immediate ?temporal displacement” from one world to the other. Not surprisingly, the most famous cave-entrance was Ráth Cruachan, the ?Fortress of the Hip, or Hump,” which was once the property of Mebd. Cruachan was frequently given as an alternate name for Connaught province, and the old hill itself was described by Christian scribes as the ?Gate of Hell.” The fact that the hill is also termed Rathcróghan ties it more firmly to the old warrior queen, for the word cró is Gaelic for a animal killing pen, blood, death, or a passageway (for example, the eye of a needle). Note also the fact that the Scottish word ?cro” indicates ?the weregild (i.e. banshee) of the various individuals in the Scoto-Celtic Kingdom, from the king on downwards.” The ending gann indicated something which is ?hurtful.” The site of this fortress remains as a huge ruin three miles north-west of Tulsk, County Rothcommon. It is a circular site about an acre in in extent, surrounded by so many other structures, it has been described as ?a town of fortresses.” Ráth Cruachan was still in use as the royal capital of the province in 645 A.D. when king Ragallach was assasinated there. The cavern of Cruach was not an easy entrance for there were guardians, some of which emerged into the world of men. OPnme of these was Aillén, a malevolent Otherworld monster who used to come ouut of the cave at the unbinding season of Samhain. A pyromaniacal dreag , or dragon, he lulled the defenders of Tara to sleep with sea-music and then consummed them, often leaving their residences in fiery ruin. This went on until Fionn mac Cumhail opposed his music by pressing the blade of his magic spear to his forehead. He then drove off the beast and beheaded it.


Airtiech was another supernatural resident of Cruachan. He had three daughters who once assumed the shape of werewolves and raided the countryside in every direction. The warrior Cas Corachplayed music to enchant them and convinced them that they should assume human form to have a better grasp of the melodies. When they shape-changed, the hero threw his spear at them, impaled all three at once, and beheaded them. With this reputation it is not surprising that men had to be bribed to enter the Hill of Cruach. Ailill of Connaught reguarly offered a prize of a gold-hilted sword to any man who would go to the gallows just outside the rath and encircle the foot of a dead captive on the gallows with a withe or band of willow twigs. This device then became as effective as a silver bough in gaining admission to the Otherworld. Several warriors went out on the Samhain to try this stunt but none but Nera followed through to the end of the adventure. As Nera was placing the withe, the corpse spoke asking that he be taken down and given a drink. N era obbeyed carrying the dead man half slung over a shoulder. The pair found the first house they approached surrounded by flames, and a second encircled by a broad moat filled with water, so they moved on. At a third house the dead man was offered three cups of water. The dead man spat out the third cup at the people who had offered him hospitality and its poison killed them on the spot. Nera then carried the corpse back to the gallows as instructed. Returning to Ráth Cruachan, this gillie saw Mebd’s palace aflame and saw beheaded corpses scattered on the ground. It appeared that Fomorian invaders had used the opening of the ?eye” that was the Cave of Cruachan to do what damage they could in the world of men. Nera followed this crew through the veil before it closed at dawn and on the other side became the ?guest” in a sidh of the Otherworld. Here he was ordered to carry firewood and lodged with a female of the species. They became lovers and the sigh-woman informed him that what he had seen of the destruction of the rath was a possible future rather than an event, and that it could be forestalled by escaping to the east and destroying the entrance. Nera therefore took his wife and child back through Ceruachan and told king Ailill what the future might hold for him and his kingdom. Ailill therefore sent Fergus mac Roth out to destroy the sidh , and the warriors did more, taking great plunder from its treasure house. These valuables included the crown of king Brion, one of the three wonders of ancient Ireland. This particular tale is obviously preChristian in origin, but the Echtra Nerai from which it derives is no later than the eighth century. Nera’s wife reminds one of Cliodhan (pronounced Cleena) another ?goddess of beauty” who lived at first in Tir Tairnigri. She became hopelessly enamoured of Ciabhan of the Curling Locks, and they fled the Land of Promise for Glandore, County Cork. While she rested from the long sea voyage, her new lover went inland to look for food. The girl was lulled into sleep by the music of Manann mac Ler, and while she lay helpless, the sea-god sent a great wave to sweep her back to his domain. The lover was, of course, left desolate, but her name was given to one of the three ?Great Waves” of Ireland. These were the waves whose roar could be heard over all of Ireland when they responded to the moans of the magic shield of Conchobar mac Nessa, which always cried out when the bearer was in trouble. 134

Hy Brazil has been described as "a small circular island." Apparently, it lay within the fog-zone of the Atlantic and was blessed hard to find. It was frequently described as a floating island, a decent enough excuse for the difficulties of navigation in seas "full thick o' fog". Those who tried to approach the lost isles sometimes said that they receded toward the horizon as they were approached, or that they were remotely perceived through the deeps It was even claimed that it was located below the waves rising once in seven years for "a breath of air." Those who wished to land in that interval were advised to fire flaming iron-headed arrows on the strands, the artifacts of man having the magic to bind the island in place as long as men walked the shores. Some have said that the mythic island was close at hand and thus, among the southern Hebrides, we find the island of Scarba, which is only matched by the Welsh coast of Glamorgan for the clamour of walking dead which frequent its shores as they await transport. Scarba is marked by the same lofty cliffs which attach to every mystic island, and ranks among the most haunted islands in the world. Nearby is a whirlpool surpassed only by the Old Sow and the Maelstrom. This is Corryvreckan, anciently said to be the lair of an enormous sea-beast and, even further back in time, the headquarters of powerful sea-giants. The people of the Shetlands also spotted sea-trows (trolls) who they said "inhabit a region of their own at the bottom of the sea. They require a peculiar atmosphere and live in habitations constructed entirely of the choicest submarine productions. When they visit the upper world on occasions of business or pleasure they are obliged to enter the skin of some animal capable of respiring in the water. One of the shapes they assume is that of what is commonly called a merman or mermaid, human from the waist upward, terminating below in the tail of a fish. But their most favourite vehicle is the skin of the larger seal or Haaf fish, for as this animal is amphibious they can land on some rock, and there cast off their sea-dress and assume their own shape and amuse themselves as they will in the upper world. They must, however, take especial care of their skins, as each has but one, and if it should be lost, the owner can never re-descend , but must become an inhabitant of the supramarine world." The residents of the Faeroes said that the seals of their islands ?put off their skins and assume human forms on ninth-night. After some time they resume their skins and return to the water.” Even the Innuit of the central barrens had theirussuit, ?dwarfs” believed to inhabit the deep seas. The northerners fished recretionally for these creatures, ?but none is ever caught.” The undersea beings seemed to enjoy participation for they would allow themselves to be hauled up near the surface but always disappeared in a flash of silvery legs abovbe the water.


In the myths of Eastern Woodland Indians this undersea world was recognized as the place of the jipjakamaq, or ?horned-serpent people.” Some of them lived on the shallows of the continental shelf as humanoid creatures, their encampments being exactly like those of men on land. These huge sea-serpents could swim through the rocks of the land as easily as through water and often came to the shores in the form of whales, sharks or other fish. Here they shape-cahnged and walked upon the land as great sorcerers. It was guessed that their home world was far out in the ocean toward the northwest. Some said that Glooscap’s chief enemy was Atosis, ?The Great Snake,” the head of these people. In the oldest days, when Glooscap first encountered Marten the god returned from the wildernesss to find the little man’s flute broken in the snow. Immediately he set about to track him and, at last heard upon the air his distress song, a tune sung ?when a metoulin is in dire need.” Approaching he found Marten seeking a straight stick for which the cannibal could use as a barbecue spit. Whispering on the wind as Glooscap advised his little friend to take back a crooked stick, and advised him how to make use of it against the enemy. Within the wigwam of ?the great sinful beast,” the snake upbraided Marten, ? Why such a crooked stick, thgis is useless!” ?Trulr, ?it is very twisted replied the little man, ?but that which is most bent can be made straight.” With this he began to heat the stick in a nearby fire and it began to straighten.” The snake bent closer to observe this and Marten rammed a pointed end into his eye. At this the snake pursued him out of the camp, ?but at the door he met the Master who slew him out of hand.” This curious story is reminiscent of Ulysees and his trouble with the Cyclops, and also reminds one of Lugh’s conquest of Balor of the Evil Eye. Charles Leland suggests that ?the Snake, in some more perfect version of this tale, has but a single eye.” In most of the tales creatures of evil disposition such as the thunderbirds and the water goblins are known as being partially alive, their right half being entirely of unseeing, unfeeling stone. If so, the Celtic Fomors and the horned-serpents are one. Tales of lands and even villages beneath the sea may well be reminiscences of the days of the deluge. In his book Phantoms Of The Sea. Raymond Lamont notes that the drowned village is a prevalent superstition "especially along the west coast of Britain." The village of Kilgrimod, near Blackpool, Lancashire actually was lost to weathering and erosion and sailors will not go to sea when they hear the sound of the phantom Kilgrimod church bell tolling from under the waters. On the other hand hearing the bells of the deep on Yule eve is considered a good omen and the locals still come to the beach at that time, stretching themselves at full length on the pebbled shore to better detect the slightest sound. Tradition also claims that a village once existed in what is now Nigg Bay off Cromarty, Scotland. There a great storm came in from the sea sweeping between the two headlands which are still known as the Cromarty Suitors. All the fields and homes of the valley were buried beneath sand and mud and water and even the church fell before the elder gods of the sea. Thereafter, sailors out of the ports of Cromarty and Moray Firth kept an attentive ear to the wind before sailing. Danger was surely forecast in the sound of church bells. Some of the oldest sailors remember that their fathers said that remnants of the old buildings could be clearly seen surfacing through the sand in the late 1890s. The last recorded hearing of the bells was 136

during the early years of the 1920s. Another localized loss is described by George Borrow in Wild Wales: "Old Bala stood in the old times where the lake now is and a fine city it was, full of houses, towers and castles, but with neither church nor chapel, for the people neither knew God nor cared for Him, but thought of nothing but singing and dancing and other wicked things. So God became angry with them, and one night when all were busy singing and dancing and the like, God gave the word and the city sank down into the Unknown and this lake (Lake Bala) boiled up where it once stood. Further north, in the Hebrides, on North Uist, it was confidently said that the Hillock of Liandail was once a credible mountain "a lot higher above sea level than at present...some people thought that the island began to disintegrate at a distant time and that it was therefore highly likely that people left the place by degrees. Others said that the island sank in one day along with the rest of the west side of the island." Obviously, reports of such local calamities became confounded with deluges of greater proportion. It will be remembered that some of the Fomorians retreated to the Hebrides after they were trounced by the Tuatha daoine. Fire-ship figure prominently in both North American and European folklore and one of these ships is said to be "Wave Sweeper" the phantom galley of Manan mac Ler who, once every seven years, personally pilots his craft up the western coast from his Isle of Man to the Hebrides, all between being within his domain. Some say he is on routine inspection of his costal kingdom, others say this voyage also includes a side-trip to Tirnan-Og, for mac Ler used to be responsible for gathering the souls of the virtuous dead for transport to the western Paradise. Since the advent of Christianity another fire-ship, "the longtheine" has periodically been seen travelling between the Inner Hebrides and the Isle of Eigg. In the Hebrides, it careens past the island whose name should not be spoken (Nem Ban Mor, the Retreat of the Great Woman) at lightning speed. Those who are gifted with the two sights have seen a lean black fiddler at the helm, and have heard his laughing and the desperate howls of the damned from below decks. "Doubtless this fire ship is, at least, conveying the soul of some Southern (English) Lord (to hell)." Even the Christian devil might well speed by this Isle of Mhorrigan, who was said to be of the befind, those sidh-creatures whose moves governed the fates of men and the gods. Her Old Norse counterparts were the Three Norns who the Anglo-Saxons called the Wyrd Sisters. Mhorrigan was also a three-in-one goddess, her middle-aged form being named Badb (Mebd or Maeve) and her aged counterpart, Macha, the cailleach, crone or hag. The Mhorrigan was known to have Fomorian blood although she assisted the Tuathans being a daughter of that sidh-clan through her father Ernmas. Her animal totems were the raven and the wolf, and she often travelled in these forms. On the battlefield she delighted in the death of each enemy by appearing before him to predict his imminent loss of life-force. She could shape the future, endowing it "with good or doubtful gifts" according to her whim. Her descendants are the peoples of Clan Morgan or Mackay. This is also the Fata Morgana of Italian legend, who is said to be ?a being unknown to 137

classical mythology.” Knowledge of her was apparently imported into Rome from the west, and she is first mentioned in literature by Lactantius. At first notice the celebrated Morgana might be thought a simple personification of fate, but writing of the time classes her as an independent entity subject with the other Fata and witches, to a greater being the Demorgorgon, who does have a place in classical tales. She seems to be the parallel of the Gaelic Befinde, the ?three in one” goddess of Fate. Aristoto said that the Demorgorgon, ?the Gorgon of the Sea,” had a mountain retreat in the Himalayas where the fates assembled every fifth year to consult with one another. He noted that, ?they all travel through the air on various strange contrivances and it is no easy matter to distinguish them from, everryday witches travelling to a Sabbath convention. The other two Italian fates are the Fata Nera and the Fata Bianca. The latter is still involved with the distribution of gifts at the Yule season. In the north of France, and especially in Normandy, the mythology of the sea-people was similar to Celtic and Norse models. There the morgans were known as Dames Blanche, or ?White Ladies.” It was said that they lurked ?in narrow places such as ravines, fords and bridges, where passengers cannot well avoid them,” Infact it was said that these creatures emerged from the water to actively solicit male passers-by, insisting that the dance or grant a seemingly simple request. Those who refused were prevented from passing, but those who extended a hand in friendship might be subjected to more than ?a round or two.” In the end an unsatisfactory partner was often discarded ?flung into a ditch full of briers and thorns.” The white woman at Pont d’ Angot would not allow anyone to pass who did not first bow on his knees to hjer. Those that refused were given over to les luitons, as well as to cats, owls ?and other beings under her sway.” The luitons were ?horses from the sea,”shape-changers who might appear as animals or fishermen or farm-labourers. One of these the Nain Rouge of Normandy often appeared as a small boy who walked with fishermen as they returned from the Dieppe shore. Those who were respectable pagans were treated to ?his amusing tricks,” but those who prayed to diligently to the Christian god ended their day by being flung through the air into some deep-hole filled with water. A group of children at Pollet met Le Petit Homme Rouge . When they ?began to make a game of them,” he caused the sky to rain rocks at them ?as thick as hailstones.” Elsewhere, configured as a horse, he took some late-staying children on his back and carried them to their death in the ocean. One of the chief accusations against Joan of Arc was that she danced with the dames of the fountain at Lorraine. Of their kind the most celebrated was Melusina, who married the Count of Lusignan. Raymond, having accidently killed his uncle with a glancing boar-spear often wandered the forests of Colombiers trying to deal with his grief. One night he came upon three white women dancing at the Fountain of the Fays. Of these, the lady Melusina seemed the most beautiful and self-assured, and they marrried on condition that the count would agree not to see her on Saturdays or at the time of birth-giving. With his great wealth the count built this sea-woman the castle at Lusignan, and the mansions at La Rochelle, Cloitre Maillers, Medrsent and other places.


The marriage was only blighted by the deformity of children born to the marriage (Geoffry, for example, was born with the tusk of a boar), but Raymond loved Melusina dearly ?for her beauty ravished both heart and eyes.” A cousin, jealous of the Count’s great fortune in love, incited the poor man to spy on his wife on a Saturday, and discovered her secret: ?The lovely form of Melusina ended below the waist in a snake, grey and blue, mixed with white..” He was not repulsed by this but was terrified at the thought of the loss he knew he had to suffer for offending his contract. When his wife learned that he knew she was one of the sea-serpents she departed promising that she would only return as the banshee to each dying lord of the castle of Lusignan. In times after it was sworn that the white woman or a snake-woman was seen at the castle in times of crisis. The Duke Serville, who attempted to hold the castle against a seige by the English, swore that a ?large serpent coloured blue and white,” squeezed beneath his bed chamber door and reformed into a woman who said: ?Ho, Serville, thou who has stood many seiges are you afraid of me? Know that I am the only mistress of this keep, and your tenure here is at an end.” So saying she collapsed into the sand and ?glided away so swiftly he could not perceive her going.” Sixth century heroes found other entrances to Morgan’s westyern holdings: Acccording to Aristoto the Franks identified three fee sisters: Logestilla, ?who was temperate and sage,” and her two sisters, Morgana and Alcina who were ?false and voluptuous.” Morgana succeeded in displacing Logestilla from their island home, a place bequeathed to the good sister by their father. Fortunately her other holdings (presumably on the mainland) were protected from further avarice by ?a gulf (the Atlantic) and a chain of mountains (the Pyrennes). At the bounds of Logestilla’s holdings ?where one may look down on France and Spain and the two seas.” there was a stronghold guarded by an elderly enchanter named Atlante. The castle of the magician was so high that it was an natural prison, which the master reached using a flying creature known as a hippogriff. The old man had a magic belt which could make people unconscious, and using it he had assembled a large number of hostages to staff his palace. Among the knights of Charlesmagne imprisoned here was one named Rogero, ?a Saracen born of Christian parents.” His betrothed, Bradamante, disguised as a man, sought Rogero and forced Atlante to release all of his prisoners ?although, in their secret hearts, many regretted the voluptuous life they left behind.” In the war of wits with Bradamante, Atlante had left his buckler hanging from the saddle horn of the hippogriff (a creature half horse and half griffin). Hoping to get this valuable tool Rogerio mounted the beast, but not knowing how to control it found himself travelling on a long flight west. By experiment, Rogero finally got his steed to land at a place where there was ?a fountain surrounded by myrtles, cedars and palm-trees.” As Rogero attempted to take a drink from the fountain the myrtle tree, to which the hippogriff was tied, spoke identifying itself as the shape-changed Astolpho formerly ?one of the bravest paladins of France.” This unfortunate explained that he had been travelling home to aid the great emperer of France when they chanced to spot what appeared to be an island in the ocean. As his ship approached, all aboard saw that it was a whale carrying the enchantress Alcina. Using hypnosis, the lady got Astolpho to mount her whale and it soon kidnapped him to the remote island of the fountain. Here Alcina ?entertained” the knight, as she had done with many before him. Tiring of his love and talk, the sorceress finally turned him into a tree just as she had shape139

changed others into plants, rocks and wild animals. Unable to help Astolpho, but forewartned, Rogero walked two miles beyond the fountain to the city of Alcina, a place ?surrounded by walls of gold, which seemed to reach the skies.” The writer said that ?A broad plain and level road led up to the gates of the city, and from this another branched off, narrow and rough, which led to the mountains.” Following heroic logic Rogero selected the rough way which was guarded by hobgoblins. These creations were very much the Fomors, one being described as ?approaching human form but having the neck, ears and muzzle of a dog.” He waded into this uncouth tide of strangly shaped people slashing at them with his sword. As he fought to beautiful women approached and the rabble scattered. Greatful to them for his deliverance, Rogero could not refuse them when they invited him to visit their city: ?The grand and beautiful entrance was adorned by a portico of four vast columns all of diamonds. On the threshold was a bevy nof charming women. They all ran to receive Rogero and conducted him into the palace, which appeared lioke a paradise. As they walked the maidens explained that this was a place ?the barest idea of satiety, want, and above all, of age,” a world where men and women sought ?luxury and gaety, a place where the cup of happiness seemed overflowing and exhaustless.” In an inner apartment, the two ladies introduced the hero to Alcina, who appeared ?at once courteous and dignified.” Rogero noticed that the sexes of the court were ?all well matched in beauty, youth and grace; but Alcina was their star.” Thus began a life of easy and luxury for this paladinn, while Charlesmagne struggled without his support. As for Bradamante, she sought her lover at the cavern of the winds, the tomb of Merlin the magician. Here an enchantress named Melissa advised her that Rogero was entrapped in a timeless place. Agreeing to assist the seeeker, ther enchantress assumed the form of a horse, and taking Bradamante on her back, rode across the waves and in one night reached the island of Alcina. Here she shape-changed into the form of the old magician Atlantes, a man whom would not seem out of place on the island, and who had been an instructor to Rogero. Approaching him she gave him a magic ring which could penetrate illusions. Fortified from the charms of Alcina, Rogero saw that he had been courting a hag. ?All her charms were artificial. She was, in fact, older than Hecuba or the Sibyl of Cumae; but an art, which regrettably our times have lost, enabled hger to clothe herself in the attractions of youth.” Seeing this Rogero quietly put on his armour and made his esacpe on a horse that had once belonged to Astolpho. Alcina pursued, giving Melisa and Bradamante the opportunity to sack the palce of the Otherworld. In the various rooms she undid the talismen and spells, broke seals, burned strange images, untied hang-knots and released the prisoners (after the fashion of King Arthur when he sacked An Domhain). Astolpho was among those who were unbound, and he fled with the golden-headed lance on the winged-horse of the islands. In a short time all of the friends of Charlesmagne were reunited at the castle of Logestilla, where Alcina dared not intrude. In the practise of Gaelic "druidhaich", or magic, it is a tenant that things which bear the 140

same name, or appearance, have the same essential spirit. It is, therefore, worth noting the adventures of Sir George Calvert, whose life came considerably after medieval times and the adventures of King Arthur. Sir George was entitled Lord Baltimore, and in April 1623, received from his king a Royal Charter to lands in the New World. In remembrance of the occasion, this Englishman had a medallion struck bearing the inscription "Pro Patria et Avalonia" (For Country and Avalon). He probably thought the selection of a name for his new colony nothing more than a nice bow to mythology and a good-sounding name, but things are rarely simple, especially in the lands of men. His ship was designated "The Ark of Avalon" and he eventually did direct it to sail to the south-east corner of Newfoundland, a region still called the Avalon Peninsula. As we have observed Avalon, or Avilion, is a Celtic word meaning "The Isle of Apples", and that this place may have had some connection with the earthly paradise of Tir-nanOg. Some are sure that this is the resting place where King Arthur was transported after his death. When geologists commenced their analysis of the land forms they discovered that all the Atlantic Provinces lay within a great ancient down-fold of crust now called the Appalachian geosyncline. A crudely abbreviated geologic history of this vast valley is that it was pressed between western and eastern lands into a series of uplands and basins; the most southernly being named the Avalon Platform. This landform includes all of southern New Brunswick, part of southern Prince Edward Island, the Cobequid Mountains of northern Nova Scotia, most of north-eastern Nova Scotia, all but the extreme north of Cape Breton and, of course, the sea-bed connecting all this with Newfoundland. Whether the choice of name goes beyond happenstance or not, it is appropriate, since many researchers have identified these regions with the Gaelic, and other Celtic, islands in the western sea. During the fifth and sixth centuries in which the romances were written there was a warming of the climate and conditions became better for Atlantic voyages. This explains why men like Maelduin and Brandon suddenly began making more or less regular forays into the north-western ocean. A. R. Lewis says that by 450 A.D. Celtic control of the seas extended from Ireland to Britanny to Spain and that "this represented local maritime strength as much as any surviving Roman tradition." By the next century many traders were in routine contact with Norway and Iceland. Something of this Celtic connection was still visible when Mercator created the first map to show both North and South America in 1538: On it the Atlantic is given as Oceanus occidentalis, but the more northernly part, now called the Labrador Sea is called Oceannus Deu calidonius., ?The Ocean of the Caledonian deities.” Alexander Macbain considers this a native Gaelic word derived from the root coille, ?a wood.” The Old Irish is caill, correponding with the Welsh celli, and the Cornish kelli. The English equivalent is ?holt” and the German hoz, all correponding with the Latin caledonius, ?a dweller in the north of Britain,” thus a ?woodlander” or an ancient Scots highlander. This ocean is shown as occupying the deep between Hybernium (Ireland) and Baccalearum regio (Labrador-Newfoundland). The second part of the word Caledonian confers completely with the Gaelic domhain, and with An Domhain, the so-called undersea ?beginning place.” The vessels in use ranged from carved wooden vessels to rather more ambitious hide141

covered curraghs. An example turned up from the bed of the River Thames shows that some were proper ships. This one was 60 feet long and had a beam of 16 feet. Her mast was ten inches at the base and her lines those of a fine sea-going ship. The curraghs were, of course, powered by square sails with auxiliary oars for calms and narrow waters. In the end, the Picts and the Gaels extended their trade into the Baltic and established outposts on the Faeroes, the Shetlands and the Orkneys and had semi-permanent hunting and fishing stations in Iceland. Although they probably visited the New World, or its offshore islands, the residents of Britain were not subject to population, or other pressures, great enough to cause them to consider migration and settlement of either Tir-nan-Beo, the Land of Long Life, or Tir Thuinn, the Land Under the Waves, let alone the more austere island of Bas-ile, or that of the saints. The Christians of Spain and Portugal were differently bent when the Moors invaded their territory in 734 A.D. As the Florentine scholar Toscanelli (1474) noted these invaders were ?infidels.” According to him an archbishop of the Roman church whose name was Oporto fled from Portugal with six bishops of the Spanish church and a large number of followers. Putting to sea with their goods and cattle they came at last to the Atlantic islands known as the Antilles. Several historians writing in the sixteenth century insisted that the ships intended landing there but meeting inclement weather were forced to islands much further west. They also insisted that mariners of their own time had reached a place called The Islands of the Seven Cities where they found people who spoke Portuguese. The inhabitants said their ancestors had fled a Moorish invasion of Spain and Portugal after killing their king, one Don Rodrigo. According to some sixteenth century chronicles the Seven Cities corresponded with the place called New Spain, now Mexico, but others say the place was ?recovered” on the coast of northeastern America. Following the Moorish invasions Spain and Portugal developed a culture tinged with Arab interests. In the twelfth century Europeans embarked on a massive translation of Arabaic documents, founding a college at Toledo with this in mind. As works of mathematics, astronomy and history became available to western scholars it appeared that the Arab races were fully aware of all eastward approached to the Orient by the seventh century. It was also clear that some of their thinkers had become aware of ?a new world in the west, beyond the Sea of Darkness.” Prince Henry of Portugal, also known as ?Henry the Navigator,” had sent out his first caravels about 30 years before Columbus started his ?great venture.” He is known to have assisted mariners in the circumnavigation of Africa. That venuture by Vasco de Gama was guided by an Arab pilot named Ahmad ibn Majid who used an Arab map not previously seen in western sea-ports. Quite possibly similar charts brought men to the outer edge of the Azores 45 and perhaps carried them beyond, as writer Lynne Jobe has suggested. The Catholic monarchs, Fredinand and Isabella, lived in Seville in an Arab palace, the Alcázares Reales. At the end of the fifteenth century the town in which the sponsors of Christopher Columbus lived was still dominated by a the Great Mosque. Charles V and other Spanish monarchs continued to dwell in the Alcáares. Interestingly, that palace complex was


See ?What If...” by Jobe in ?Aramco World” magazine, Vol. 43, No. 1, 1992. 142

decorated with Islamic tiles, many bearing symbolic representations of the nearby Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar), all entitled Plus Ultra, the Latin for ?There is More Further On.” This was a modification of a well-known classical phrase Ne Plus Ultra, ?There is Nothing More.” The Arabs, looking west from Spain and Portugal called what they saw Bahr al-Zulamat, ?The Sea of Darkness.” The classical scholars of the medieval period referred to it in similar terms as, Tenebrosum Mare. Either descriptive seems apt as heavy cloud banks characterize this part of the Atlantic for most of the year. Notwithstanding all this ill-omen, there is reference to a mysterious island named Yunan in the Arabic writing of Zakariyya al-Qazwini. Although Yunan bears the name of old Greecian holdings, it may bear better relationship with Atlantis: ?Now the sea has taken possession of it. Among its wonders is the fact that anyone who thinks of something in that land never forgets it, or at least remembers it for a very long time. Merchants who have gone there by sea say that when they came to that place, they remembered things long forgotten. This is why it is the birthplace of philosophers whose like has rarely been found elsewhere.” Historian Paul Lunde thinks that this island was within the Mediterranean, ?a semi-mythic land of enhanced memory, cut off by the sea, comparable to another island between the coasts of Yemen and Ethiopia that was said to possess a fountain of wisdom that cleared the minds of those who drank its waters.” We are reminded of the Celtic Fountain of Regeneration, also known as the Cauldron of the Deep, whose waters were proof against aging. In the latter days this kettle was purloined by the land”gods” and supposedly lies buried beneath Uisneach, or Hu’s Hill, at the geographic and political centre of Ireland. We are told that this symbol of power was the navel of the Fomorian creator-god, and when cut away, killed the spirit of the people’s of the deep. Even before they possessed the kettle, the powerful Tuathan magicians somehow tapped its potencies to restore life to their warriors killed in battle. Hearing this, the Fomorians sent a reconnaisance into Tuathan territory and they located the magical ?Spring of Health.” Being unable to destroy it, they filled it with earth, and raised a cairn oover it, a stone-pile still called the ?Cairn of Octriallach,” after the leader of the expedition. That done the Fomorians returned to the battlefield at Magh Tuireadh and their Octriallach permanently put down Ogma, one of the sons of Dagda, the chief of the gods. There is a possible linguistic link between Yunan, or Ionia, and Ireland, which Ptolmey called <Iovepvia., and the Latins Iverna. This is a name for the Grecian seat of the Muses and corresponds with the Gaelic Iardonn, as well as the Cymric Iwerddon, both identifying ?The Western Lands of Don.” When lands of eternal youth were not found at this place, the Mediterrean equivalent of Tir nan Og was pushed westward into the Atlantic. Several late medieval maps mark and island in the Atlantic, and entitle it the ?The Island of Iove,” or ?Island of Jove.” Frequently it carried the futher note: ?Here nobody dies.” There is an enigmatic passage in Zakariyya al Qazwini’s Monuments of the Countries which may have some bearing on the subject: ?Yunan. he writes, ?was the birthplace of all the Greek plilosophers. But now the sea has taken it by force. Among its wonders was the fact that anyone learning something in that land never forgot it, or at least, reembered it for a very long time. Merchants who went there by seasay that when they came to that place they rememberred 143

things long forgotten. Since the loss of this place philosophers the like of these have never been seen anywhere.” The island to which this thirteenth century author refers is the Arabic for Ionia. The Grecian people of Ionia migrated from this ?lost land” and settled Chios, Samos and the Cyclades as well as parts of the coast of Asia Minor. To the Ionians we credit the earliest development of literacy and philosophy among the Greeks. The Ionians lost their independence and influence in the sixth century B.C. The ?Ionian migration” is very reminiscent of the movement of the Tuatha daoine from their northern isles to Ireland. For Qazwini this Ionia represented the source of these people, ?a semi-mythical land, cut off by the sea - a partial Atlantis, comparable to a similar island between the coasts of Yemen and Ethiopia that was said to possess a fountain of wisdom that cleared the minds of those who drank its waters.” The classical scholar, F.G. Plaistowe, says that this word confers with Ianus or Janus, which derives from the Greek Zeus ?the Two-faced,” who was also called Juppiter: ?An old bifrous (two-faced) deity, who as the sun-god marked the course of the year. January was sacred to him and he was the god of beginnings and entrances, doors &c. The doors of his temples were kept shut in times of war, and open in times of peace. Hence the Latin Ianuarius, ?January.” Elsewhere it is noted that the genitive of Jupiter was Jovis, ?the nominative and genetive for the god Djovis, akin to the English Tues-day, the chief divinty of the ancient Romans. As we note elsewhere Tues, Tyrr or Thor confers with the Gallic god Eusgenus who is the Gaelic <Uisdean the Welsh sun-god Hu . This is the Norse Ey also represented as Ay and in Gaelic as Aod, the ?Day.” Side forms are Eòin from which we have the more modern Iain and the English Ian or John. From this also, the feminine Joan. The chief Celtic island named Iona lay in the West Isles of Scotland and some have guessed that it was named after the Hebrew Iona, a ?Dove,” since St. Columba who installed a Christian monastery there was nicknamed Colum, a ?Dove,” his birth-name Crimmhann, a ?Wolf” being thought inappropriate to his mission. The island was always a religious shrine, but the earliest form for it was Ioua , and this was used in pre-Christain times when the island was clearly identified as Innis nan Druinidh, the ?Island of the Druids.” The exact meaning of iona is lost but it may refer to the feminine genitive plural of the Irish Gaelicionadh, which is given as ionai, ?her wonder; her surprise.” conferring with ionad, a ?place.” The word may be broken down into roots which suggest something on the line of ?not commonplace.” At the northern end of Iona there are ruins of a dun just north of the Ridge of Courcil. ?The Well of Eternal Youth is on the north slope and it is said that if a woman bathes her face and hands in it before sunrise she will become young again...This is an interesting remnant of the days before Columba when the people worshipped the sun (Aod or Lugh) and an unknown God. It is often supposed that this god lived in water (since he went into the western ocean each night), so that fountains and wells were considered sacred, and thought to contain magical powers...” A quarter of a mile north-east there is a similar well which was formerly approached by sailors seeking to buy winds to move their ships.


Mela’s map of north-western Europe represents Ireland as Juverna , but that form is later seen altered to <Ivernia or Hibernia.. There all sorts of derivative spellings including Ibern, Ybernia, and Ibernia, When medieval mapmakers realized that Ireland was not the fabled land of neverending youth, the island was pushed into the Atlantic. By 1525 it was nestled into an embayment of Maritime Canada, where Wolfenbuttel idenntified it as Y. des: Juhan, the ?Issle of Ian” or ?John.” It was distinguished as a holy island two years later when Maggiola named it Ia. de S. Joan. In the following years it was occasionally secularized, and its gender fluctuated. The name also changed slightly from Ivan to S. Juan to Sainct tehan, with every other possible and impossible spelling between these samples. It was sometimes placed in waters due south of Nova Scotia, and was sometimes shown due north, and not infrequently it was represented in both places at once. The sum of all this is that Cape Breton Island or modern day Prince Edward Island was intended. By the time of Champlain (1604) the name had settled on the latter island, but either would be apropos. Cape Breton is noted as a ?beginning place” or ?entrance” to the Underworld (near Cape Dauphine), and here it is rumoured Glooscap first came to the northeast, later using nearby Kelly’s Mountain as a jumping-off point for the netherworld. He is also scheduled to return here at some future time to settle the score with the whites on behalf of the Algonquin nation. A site near Charlottetown also works quite well as Iona-west since it once harboured a standing stone within a fountain of youth. It was not until the mainland of North America was encountered in1513, that the Legend of the Fountain of Youth became a subject of conversation and astonishment at the Spanish court. The peninsula of Florida is clearly marked on the de Cosa map of 1502, but it was the experiences of Ponce de León that eventually led to the idea that there was very possibly a continent in the western ocean. Earlier visitors to that general region had heard the Indians say that there was a fountain that could restore the dead and reverse the aging process on an island named Bimini. Juan Dias de Solis, among others, was said to have stumbled upon it ?at a distance of 325 leagues from Hispanola (Spain).” Writing of similar discoveries Italian historian Peter Martyr d-Anghiera said, ?those who have explored ann island which is called Boyuca or Ananeo, have found there a fountain which has the virtue that by drinking its water, old men are rejuvenated.” Somewhat later this coast was identified with that explored by de León. Running into the land at the place where he thought this island might be located, the latter explorer named the northern part of the peninsula Florida, allegedly because he arrived at Pascua florida, or Easter Sunday. The southern part, which he interpreted as an island, he called Bimini, a name now applied to a different place in the Bahamas. Ponce de León did not discourage the rumour that there was a fountain of regeneration as he needed all the backing he could get to get royal permission to found a colony in Florida. His story was upheld when Peter Martyr met a Lucayo Indian, who attested to the fact that his elderly father had gone to Flkorida and come away a new man. This Indian, the captured by Spanish slave-raiders was taken to Spain, learned Spanish and was batized Andres Barbudo, a name derived from the unusual fact that he was bearded, ulike most southern Indians. This story was backed by other reputable men including Vázquez de Ayllón, a high official in the Spanish court. Most of these witnesses attested that they had been prevented from actually seeing the spring by the ferocity of the Indians, who had effectively beaten off several packs of Spanish ?tourists.” De Ayllón managed to contact an Indian captured in a raid 145

in southern Georgia. ?This man, named Chicorano is by no means stupid,” wrote Peter Martyr,”and was able to learn Spanish with relative ease.” Clever or not, Chicorano told a number of ?tall-tales” to anyone who would listen. His repertoire of mythic places and peoples included a place he called Duhare where the residents were all white-skinned and had red hair. Their king was a giant named Datha, and their queen of almost equal stature, had five sons, all nearly their equal in height. Near this kingdom was Xapida, where pearls were taken in great quantity and where more giants tended herds of domesticated deer, which they milked, using the product in cheese-making. He identified a third mainland kingdom called Inzingnanin. Long ago, he said, a people had come there by sea. This race had inflexible tails, like crocodiles. In order to sit in comfort they constructed chairs with a hole in the middle. A sea-people, like the Fomors, they ate rawfish, but because this product was lacking in their new locale they quickly died of a deficiency disease. It was in Duhare, however, that Chicorano said that the Spaniards would find the fountain they sought. Here all men were of the same age, and were continually renewed from drinking the water.

Morgan la Fay of the medieval romances is the Mhorrigan of Gaelic myth. Thomas Keightley says: "Of the castle and isle of Avalon (Apple) the abode of Arthur and Oberon and Morgue la faye, the fullest description is seen in the romance of Ogier le Danois ...” The Arthurian legends centered about a British king who was supposed to have consolidated the Celtic kingdoms against the Anglo-Saxons in either the fifth or the sixth century. Although Arthur Pendragon was probably an element of folklore he became central to the so-called ?medieval romances.” He was said to have been a northerner, who as king lived in state with his wife Guinevere at Caerlion on Usk. His knights set out on various chivalrous exercises, some across the great waters of the world. In his appointed time Arthur was wounded by unfriendly relatives who promoted the Saxon cause. From the battlefield at Camlan he is supposed to have been transported to Avalon, the island of the faeries. There he rests against the day when he will return to assist his people when they are in need. It is thought that the ?High Bear” was originally the Gaelic Athair, who is the Norse Alfadr, the Welsh Gwydion. In the semi-mythic ?histories” of early Britain, Morgan is represented as the half-sister of Arthur. Jealous of his power she plotted against him and it was her son Mordor who allied his forces with the Saxons destrying the Celtic kingdoms. Since the Isle of Avalon was a place of forgetfulness, this was no impediment to the two living together in this place between life and death. The continental versions of the tale have tended to give Arthur a secondary role to Charlesmagne, or King Charles Martel, who led the Franks in the century following Arthur. Ogier the Dane was one of his retainers, which explains his presence in the armies of France. 146

"At the birth of Ogier several Fairies attended, who bestowed on him various gifts. Among them was the mistress of their kind, Morgue la Faye, who gave him that she should in after years be his lover and friend." Accordingly Ogier pursued a long and successful career in his mortal life and, approaching the age of a hundred, was returning by sea from to France when the vessels of his fleet were hit by storm. His own ship was throiwn into the ?great sea,” where it was driven ?near the castle made of lodestone which is called Avalon. According to the medieval writers this place not far from ?the terrestial paradise,” attracted ships and disassembled them by pulling spikes from their planks. The vessel eventually piled in on the rocks with other flotsam and jetsam, and here the survivors divided the provisions agreeing that every man whose rations failed should be thrown into the sea to prevent starvation and a lingering death. Ogier had less appetite than the others and eventually found himself alone. He was about to jump over the rail when a voice from heaven instructed him to seek ?the castle of light.” He was advised that he might reach it by passing over the series of wrecks on the rocks. ?On the isle thou wilt find a path. Follow it and be not dismayed at anything seen or heard on the way.” Following this advice the Dane saw the castle of Avalaon and ?leaping from vessel to vessel, got to the island where it was.” On arrival he had to slay two guardian lions but after that wandered into a hall where he found ?a horse sitting at a table richly supplied.” This talking animal treated the knight courteously and persuaded him to get on his back, after which he carried him to a splendid sleeping chamber. We are told that the horse was a luiton, one of the creatures the Gaels called a caillpeach. He had once been a great king named Papillon, but conquered by King Arthur he was forced to take this form for three hundred years. After this purgatory he believed he would receive ?the crown of joy” and be welcomed as a resident of Faerie. It is noteworthy that this creature is the Icelandic nikkur, which is one of the eddaic names of Odin. He appears always in the form of an apple grey horse on the sea-shore, but is distinguished from a common horse by having his hoofs reversed. ?If one is so foolish as to mount him, he gallops off and plunges into the sea.” The ?horse from the sea” is Manann mac Ler in Celtic myth, and his sister (or consort), the goddess Mhorrigan, also appears in this form. In the morning Ogier met a huge serpent which he immediately killed, and stepping about it, went down a path into an garden. Here he plucked an apple which he tasted, becoming immediately ill. In a deleriouis state he saw ?une moult belle dame, toute vestue de blanc.” This lady introduced herself as Morgan le Fay and placed on his finger the ring of youth. Ogier immediately shed his hundred years, and singing, as the young often do, passed with his patroness into the great hall. There he saw ?the fay ladies all crowned with crowns sumpotuously made, and evermore they sany and danced and led a right joyous life, without thinking any evil, but taking what pleasures they might find.” At this juncture Morgan introduced her new ?friend” to King Arthurt, ?and placed on his brown a crown, rich beyond estimation.” ?Forthwith his former state was forgot. Forgot was all,, joy, grief, pleasure and pain.” His days now centered on ?never-ceasing abandon.” ?Such joyous pleasures did the Fay 147

ladies make for him that a year did not last a month for him.” But Avalon was a terrestial place and one day Arthur took Ogier aside and told him that Capalas, the king of luitons was raising a war against Avalon. Ogier agreed to help mount a defense and the knight had the satisfaction of forcing the enemy to capitulate. Two hundred years of additional delight followed. ?Charlesmagne and his succession failed, and even the descendants of Ogier became extinct. Then the Paynims invaded France and Morgan felt she could not hold this news from her lover. Accordingly, she took the Leathean crown of forgetfulness away and allowed him to take up a sword for his old alliance. ?The fee of the island gave Ogier this sword saying that as long as it flamed his life would last.” In leavetaking, Ogier and some companions were swallowed in a cloud and stepping out of it found themselves on the summit of Montpellier in France. The Dane soon defeated ?the infidels,” and on the death of the king of France was on the point of espousing his widow when Morgan appeared and spirited him away to Avalon. ?Since that time, the fate and adventures of Ogier have been unknown among men.” Thomas Keightley felt that Avalon ?was perhaps the Island of the Blest, of Celtic mythology, and also the abode of the Fees, through the Breton Korrigan.” At the same time, he admitted that a majority of writers thought it was more likely a much smaller island at Glastonbury, England. ?At least it is called isle, being made nearly such by the ?river’s emraceement.” ?It was named Avalon from the British word Aval an apple, as it abounded with orchards.” Keightley thought that the Saxon Glasthney, ?glassy isle,” was perhaps from the hue of the water surronding it. It is no surprise that the Bretons refer to their mermaids as the morgan (sea-women) the younger ones being known as the morverc'h (sea-daughters); "they that draw down to their palaces of gold and crystal at the bottom of the sea or ponds those who venture imprudently too near the edge of the water." It may be noted that the people of Brittany distinguished between the wee folk as fees (fays) and nains (dwarfs); the morgans belonging to the former class. The fay are also frequently known as the korrig or korrigan and the nains as korr or korred. There is a very good chance that these names are all phonetic variants of Mhorrigan. These sea-women certainly correspond with the Korrid-gwen, a goddess revered by the Welsh bards, to whom they assigned nine virgin attendants. It was Korrid-gwen who had charge of a magic vase (the Cauldron of the Deep), "the edges of which were adorned with pearls, containing the wondrous water of bardic genius and of universal knowledge. Thomas Keightley says: "The korrigan can predict the future, assume any form they please, move from place to place with the rapidity of thought, cure maladies by the aid of charms which they communicate to their favourites. Their size is said not to exceed two feet, but their proportions are most exact, and they have flowing hair, which they comb out with great care. Their only dress is a long white veil, which they wind round their body. Seen at night, or in the dusk of the evening, their beauty is great; but in the daylight their eyes appear red, their hair white, and their faces wrinkled; hence they rarely let themselves be seen by day. They are fond of music and have fine voices but are not much given to dancing. There favourite haunt is wells and they are said to celebrate there each spring a great nocturnal festival at the end of which a great cup goes around filled with a liquor one drop of which would make 148

one as wise as God himself...Like fairies in general the korrigan steal children...They are also very fond of uniting themselves with handsome men to regenerate their accursed race. It is generally believed they were once great princesses who, having refused to embrace Christianity were struck by the curse of god. Hence they are animated by a violent hatred of religion and the clergy...The last trait to be noted of these beings is that, like similar beings in other countries, their breath is deadly. The Roman writer Pomponius Mela claimed an acquaintance with these island folk who he insisted lived "on Sena (the Isle of Saints, opposite Brest) "in the British Sea" where they served as oracles "of the Gallic God." Again, Mela wrote, "They are holy in perpetual virginity, and are said to be nine in number. They are called the Gallicenae, and are though endowed with singular powers, so as to raise by their charms the winds and seas, and also to turn themselves into what creatures they will, to cure wounds and diseases incurable by other physicians, to know and predict the future; but this they do only for navigators who go purposely to the island to consult them." On expert said that the medieval Avalon was said located "sur en lysle du Zerllande", in the romance entitled Hugis d'Avgremont. Here we are told lived the "faee qui estoit appellee Morgane." This location is in the vicinity of Denmark. We are reminded also of Merlin's nemesis, the celebrated Lady of the Lake, who lived in "feerie" an illusion created by the art which Merlin had learned from his "sea-demon" father and had passed on to his lady love. The Lady Vivienne dwelt on the summit of a hill in a valley where "the wood was deep and wide, and this place was so secret and secluded that right difficult was it for any one to find, the semblance to a lake being very persuasive." While Morgan was a friend to Ogier the Dane she gave a great deal of trouble to Cuchullain. His geise, or prohibition was the eating of dog meat, the dog being his totem animal. In her guise as three elderly women she invited the hero to eat with her and when he refused accused him of being overly proud. Stung by this he took meat with them and became paralyzed on one side. In this state he was attacked by human enemies and by a crow who announced that death was his lot. Morgan also engaged in a power struggle with King Arthur and in one instance placed his magic sword in the hands of an enemy. Fortunately, Excaliber returned to his hand at a crucial moment and Morgan was forced to leave Avalon for her fortress in the Hebrides. The morgan persists in British folklore: In the western highlands of Scotland she is identified as the bean-sidh (sidh-woman) a fact that underlines the land half of her inheritance. She is also entitled the bean neeyah, or washer woman, from her habit of using upland streams to wash the garments of those destined for death. She is occasionally known as the cailleach bheur, or winter hag, and as the lair glas, or grey mare, another of her incarnate forms. At her best, she is seen as a vampire-like raven-haired beauty but by the harsh light of day it is invariably noticed that the pupils of her eyes are red, her skin white and dried and her fingers and toes webbed after the fashion of many of the sea-people. "Bean-sidh" corresponds with the English "banshee" and she is the wailer after the dead of those belonging to Clans Morgan and Mackay. As the cailleach bheur she has full charge of the half of the year from November through April, and like Odin, is given responsibility for the yearly collection of the souls of the 149

dead at mid-winter. Sometimes dubbed the "huntress", she is always after game although she considers animals of the wild to be her responsibility as well as her quarry. Each summer she is re-born as Samh or Mhorrigan, the goddess who gives her name to the entire summer season Samhuinn, extending from May through October. In mid-winter, she has been seen on beaches of the western isles driving her pure-white hornless cattle or scavenging seaweed and beach-grasses for hungry animals. It should be noted that the cailleach is sometimes said to have created Scotland with soil carried across the North Sea from Lochlann (Norway) in her wicker creel. It had been her intention to create a reserve for her animals but in the process she accidently picked up a few of the annoying ting lice-like creatures known as man. Wherever the cailleach travels she carries she carries a walking staff which generates snow at all seasons of the year and releases lightning on command. She uses this to kill any offending species and the weapon has been coveted, but never taken, by any of the "heroes" among men. Miss Ruth Tongue, the English folklorists mentions this sidh-woman in "Somerset Folklore" (1965). She notes that "sea-morgan" was a synonym for "conger eel" around the Severn Sea. She also told of a sea morgan "with a beautiful face" who would sing there on autumn evenings. Men who heard her felt impelled to follow her voice and invariably fell prey to the offshore quicksands. After that "the conger eels got a feast." The people of this coast knew the morgan was near when the conger-eels barked her welcome. Fortunately this creature came up, at last, against the son of "a gifted woman" born on Sunday (a sure protection against evil) and congenitally deaf. This lad wandered into her presence and "as he couldn't see her voice and her hair was green, he didn't think much of her. He got out his Steart Horse (mudsledge) and went over the flats with his eel-spear, and all the while she was singing, he was getting a fine haul of congers, and the sled kept him from sinking in the quicksands. When he speared twelve of them, she gave a shriek, and took off - and she never came back." It is noteworthy that the Micmac Indians of Maritime Canada knew of this mermaid, who they called ?nehwas,” to distinguish her shape-changing cousin, the ?jipjakamsqw,” or ?horned-serpent woman,” who also inhabited northeastern waters. The morgan was never commonly reported by name but they were seen, the first report Nicholas Denys, the second from Newfoundland in the seventeenth century; others following from the Saint Lawrence River (1744) and Lake Superior (1782). In mythology there are many metaphores; the cauldron representing the ocean coming readily to mind. In a similar manner fountains and wells and deep lakes were seen as miniature versions of the open sea, and when men ?disappeared” into the deeps it was understood that that they had penetrated a rift between the worlds, just as certainly as if they had jopurneyed to the edge of the world by ship. Natural caverns at the sea-side had a similar reputation as places where the wind blew between the worlds; openings where men might approach and be swallowed up by chaos incarnate. The last sidh in Scotland held their last Samhain meeting at the Elfin Kirk, near Peterstown, and afterwards passed through the needle-eye between these two sea-stacks into seeming oblivion. On the western shore of North America there are similar openings in sea-walls, and here strange beings have been observed emerging from nothing. Glooscap was ?the man from nothing,” a being who emerged from the sea, or the deeps forest, 150

or a rock cleft, the story varying with the teller. In any event, he was only one of many travellers who talked themselves from place to place along the roots, branches and stems of the world tree. Metaphore, or reality, we know of many travellers who took the short route between the worlds. Odin went regularly to the underworld after he took charge of the annual Asgardreia, the gathering of dead souls known less formally as the Wild Hunt, Woden’s Hunt, the Raging Host, or The Passage. In the deep of time Odin was a normal human, but to obtain the wisdom for which he became famous, he somehow penetrated the depths beneath the World Tree to consult the frost-giant who guarded Mimir’s (Memory’s) Spring, which like the Celtic Cauldron of the Deep, was said to be ?the source of all wit and wisdom.” When he asked Mimir for a draught from his well, the wiley ancient refused unless Odin would surrender one of his eyes. The god did not hesitate but with his left hand plucked out one eye, and thus became a being very like the Celtic Fomors. Mimir kept his pledge to Odin, but turning from him sank the eye deep within his fountain, where it shone with subdued vigor. The single eye of Odin was afterwards considered emblematic of the sun, his lost eye located at a distance, was seen as representing the moon. Drinking deeply of the well of knowledge Odin the man-god acquired hindsight, farsight and foresight, but painfully aware of his alter looks Odin afterwards wore a slouch hat to partially hide his face, and these were seen as the clouds. As a memorial to his visit Odin broke a branch from the tree of life and fashioned from it his flesh-seeking spear Gungnir. Although all-wise, Odin was now made aware of the failure built in to all the projects of men and the gods, and the transitory nature of the universe. This knowledge altered his high spirits soi that he became taciturn, melancholy and contemplative, possessed of a logic-based manic-depressive nature. To test his new abilities Odin disguised himself as a simple hobo and went to visit Vafthrudnir, a frost-giant whose knowledge of events was said unsurpassed. In a contest of wits, both man-gods gave equally detailed answers to the questions they asked one another. Aty the conclusion of their time, Odin bent near the giant and asked what the Allfather would whisper to his son Baldur, as the boy lay upon his funeral pyre, To late Vafthrudnir realized that he had promised his head to Odin, the only one who could answer this question. Following this test of his powers Odin hung himself from the world-tree, using his pain as a source of further enlightenment, After nine days and nights he visualized the runes and mastered written words, which he carved as charms upon his spear and upon the teeth of his eight-footed stallion. In the underworld, Odin did not overcome death or the Ragnaraok, ?The Twilight of the Gods,” but he did find the means of reincarnation and returned to the worlds of men and the gods better equipped to sidestep, if not deal with, reality. Odin’s gifts of eloquence and poetry also came from the underworld in a separate incident. In this instance, he seduced the goddess-giant of a mountain purloining the secret of ale-making from her in the process.


Before princes and noblemen could read, history, mythology and legend were the monopoly of the story-tellers, but with the magic of writing there developed forms of language based on differences in dialect. The Romans penetrated deeply into the lands of northwestern Europe, but they were less persuasive in Wales, Ireland and Scotland and in the the Teuton and Scandinavian lands than elsewhere. Nevertheless there was, at an early date, a pidgin Latin which had the name Langue Romaine in classical circles. The French language was divided into two dialects of this form, the river Loire beign the boundary between them. South of the river the affirnative word ?yes” was expressed as oc, and to the north it was sounded as oil (oui). Hence the southern dialect was sometimes referred to as langue d’oc, while the northern variety was the langue d’oil. The latter was carried into England by the Normans, and is the origin of the present language known as French. It may be called French Romane to distinguish it from the Provencial Romane of the south. The latter dialect used to be that of commerce, wealth, and stable government in a ?soft and enervating climate.” Its poets were the troubedours, and their favourite compositions were love-songs and satirical works. The northern poets were trouveurs and their source of inspiration was myth and legend. The Middle Ages were times when ?chivalry” was directed against the enemies of the Christian religion, so it was not surprising that writers ransacked the past looking for examples of courage and piety that might serve as models for action. Celtic mythology is a fascinating world of fantasy but it might seem a little too dark for the purpose, but remember that these tales are essentially optimistic. Even in tragedies death is never the conqueror, the Celts having perhaps evolved the idea of the immortality of the soul. The druid taught that death is a changing of form but that life is unending in the flux and flow between east and west. The symalarity of druidic ideas relating to the afterlife and those of Pythagorean philosophy have been remarked upon. Clement of Alexandria has written that Pythagoras had a Celtic slave and that the Greek was thus introduced to druidic philosophy. The Celtic concepts were highly regarded among classical peoples and Aristotle, Sotion and Clement all state that the early Greecian writers borrowed their doctrines from the Celts. The Chrtistians were not antagonistic to the basic idea of an afterlife and adapted mythology to their purposes by assimilating the heroes (sometimes renaming them) while banishing unwanted characters and dogmas. King Arthur and Charlesmagne were two men who were selected as deserving emulation. Arthur was represented as a brave, if not always successful warrior, a Christian monarch who successfuly withstood the ?infidels,” defending the Britons against the pagan Anglo-Saxons. In Gaelic myth, Arthur was a supplementary character, the son of a king of Britain who stole the two hunting dogs of Fionn mac Cumhail. The Irishman pursued Arthur to the larger island and retrieved his animals, forcing him to swear fealty in the process. Thomad Bulfinch has characterized the man as”a little prince of the Silures (in South Wales) who was magnified into a conqueror of England, Gaul, and of the greater part of Europe.”


Tales of his activities were carried from Cornwall when the Amoricians settled Brittany, and his genealogy was extended backwards by imaginative medieval writers, so that he became linked with Brutus, a survivor of the Trojan War. In Wales Arthur’s activities may have first been chronicled by St. Talian, a bishop of St. Asaph, in the seventh century. This work was the basis for A History of the Kings of England, which was first translated into English by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1150. Charlesmagne had a more certain history, and it is no surprise that his holy wars against the Saracens became a favourite topic for fiction. The first semi-historic version of these wars was probably penned toward the close of the eighth century. These somewhat fabulous view of the past were for a while also imprisoned in a local language. At that time the Italian and Spanish languages were still unformed and the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic tongues were those of unimportant conquered peoples, thus the tales of Charles V were translated first into Norman French which was then understood by anyone of consequence in Europe. The adventures of these two remarkable god-like men, taken together with tales about less well-known traditional or completely imaginery heroes, accumulated and emerged from the original languages in which they were written to form the corpus now known as the ?Medieval Romances.” The first of them followed the bardic tradition and were written in verse. It was not until the thirteenth century that the prose romances began to appear. The romances were generally given prefaces in which the author attempted to separate himself from the real sources of his inspiration. These tales were never represented as fables or novels, but as histories of actual events, and the writers did not like to think of themselves as mere compilers or copyists. They sometimes went to great length in promoting the originality of their thought saying that ballads and folklore had been consulted but found wanting, forcing them to revert to ?original Greek and Latin sources.” The names of these ?original histories” were not often stated leading to the suggestion that they did not exist ?except by authority of the assertion of the writer.” It has been said that the Celtic bards were committed by oath to represent past events as candidlly and truthfully as they were able, but with the development of these new ?histories,” anachronisms became commonplace, and earlier errors of geography, genealogy and social order became more widespread and even deliberate. A specimen representing the style and intent of these writers is seen in Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur (1485):

?It is noteworthy through the universal world that there be nine worthies, the best that ever were. That is to wit three paynyms, three Jews, and three Christian men. The paynyms they were the incarnations of Christ, being named Hector of Troy; Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. Emperor of Rome..And as for the Jews, which likewise were incarnations of Our Lord, the first was the Duke Josuah, which brought the children of Israel unto the land of the host; the second, David, king of Jerusalem and the third Judas Macabees. And the other incarnations have been the noble Arthur...Charlesmagne, or Charles the Great, and last Geoffrey

of Boleyn.” It is obvious that no complete trust can be placed in the veracity of the Medieval Romances but they do have comparative value, especially where they touch material already known from earlier mythology. Thelais or poetic tales of Brittany were translated into French verse by Marie de France, a resident at the court of the English monarch Henry III, who held this part of France. This circumstance explains why these stories are better known in England than in France. It is guessed that the English writers Chestre, Chaucer and de Monmouth all borrowed incidents from these poems. Thomas Keightley has noted that the lais are filled with ?Fairy machinery” in spite of the fact that the word Fée is only mentioned once in the surviving poems. He says that the characters found in Lais du Gugemar, Lais de Lanval, Lais d’Ywenec and in Lais de Graelent ?differ in nothing from the Fays of Romance, and these appear to be human beings endowed with superior powers.” Barzan-Briez was consulted by Keightley concerning the folklore of the oldè gentil Bretons and was told that the fays were of two classes,in French nomenclature the fées and the nains. The Breton name for the former was korrig or korrigan and the latter, korr or korred. Keightley says these forms are the same in the singular and plural and that the Bretons, like the Gaels, abandoned use of the letter ?k” so that we now see variants on the name such as crion, couril and goric, ?but all are forms of the names given above.”

?The former (korrigan) he identifies with the Gallicenae of Mela. The korrigan, our authority further states, can predict the future , assume any form they please, move from place to place with the rapidity of thought, cure maladies by the aid of charms...There size is said not to exceed two feet, but their proportions are most exact; and they have long flowing hair, which the comb out with great care. Their only dress is a long white veil, which they wind round their bodies. Seen at night, or in the dusk, their beauty is great; but in the daylight their eyes appear red, their hair white and their faces wrinkled; hence they rarely let themselves be seen by day. They are fond of music and dancing. Their favourite haunts are near water, by which they sit and comb their hair. They are said to celebrate every returning spring in a great nocturnal festival: On the sod they spread a table-cloth as white as driven snow, covered with the most delicious viands. In the centre is a crystal cup, which emits such light it needs no lamps. At the end of the banquet a cup goes round filled with a liquoe, one drop of which would make one as wise as God himself. At the approach of a mortal the whole vanishes.” ?Like fairies the korrigan steal children against which the remedy usually employed is, to place the child under the protection of the Virgin by poutting a roaary or scapulary about its neck. They are also found uniting themselves with handsome young men to regenerate, as the peasants say, their accursed race. The general belief respecting them is, that they were great princesses who, having refused to embrace Christianity when it was preached in Amoricia by the Apostles, were struck by the curse of God. Hence it is that that they are said to be animated

by a violent hatred of religion and the clergy. the sight of a soutame, or the sound of a bell, puts them to flight; but the object of greatest abhorrence to them is the Holy Virgin, The last trait to be noticed of these beings is that, like similar beings in other countries, their breath is deadly.” Also within the realm of popular belief is Ti Goriquet, otherwise known as the ?House of the Korrigans,” located significantly in the French Department named Morhibhan, at Carnac near Quiberon. This remarkable complex of four thousand standing-stones stand on the seashore on an arid plain where their are neither shrubs nor trees and few pebbles left alone a source for construction. When the local Breton’s are asked what the stones indiacte some say that they are an ancient enemy turned to stone by magic. Others say that the stones are the work of the Crions or Gorics, little men barely three feet in height who had the strength of giants. ?Each night they dance about the stones; and woebetide the traveller who approaches, for he is forced to join in the dance, where he is whirled about, breathless and exhausted, until he falls down amidst the laughter of the Crions. All vanish with the break of day.” An old sailor of that district told the folklorist M. de Cambry that one of the stones covered an immense treasure, the others being set to decoy treasure-seekers. Dr. W. Grimm noted that the ruins of Tresmalouen were dwelling places of the Courils, ?They that are of malignanat disposition, but who are great lovers of dancing.” He also suggested that they were to be found near standing-stones and told of shepherds who had been drawn into their dances, caught up there until cock crow. Keightley said that ?instances are not few where persons thus ensnared have been found the next morning dead with exhaustion and fatigue. Woe also to the ill-fated maiden who draws near the Couril dance! Nine months after, her family will count one new member. Yet so great is the power of these dwarfs, that the young stranger bears no resemblance to them, but appears (to the maiden) to have the features of some (human) lad of her village.” Little men were also supposed to live beneath the castle of Morlaix, and this clan had the unfortunate habit of going about at night beating upon tin-ware. ?They possess great treasures, which they sometimes bring out; and if one passes by athe time they allow him to take a handful of money, but no more. Should anyone attempt to fill his pockets, the money vanishes and he is assailed by a shower of boxes to the ears from invisible hands.” The most patent sea-morgan of the northern French laes was Melusina who married the Count of Lusignan. At the end of the fourteenth century Jean d’Arras collected what traditions were known of her in Chronicle. This book was rewritten by Frere Stephen, a Dominican, who attempted to give it a better story line, and create interest in the heroine by attaching her to several noble houses: His version says that Elinas, king of Alba, was left widowed and devoted most of hus time hunting. One day he stumbled upon a rustic fountain in the wilderness, and whikle quenching his thirst, was approached by the fay Pressina and a number of other maidens. This sea-woman agreed to sleep with the king if he agreed not to visit her at the time of birthing. He 155

agreed and the pair had three daughters: Melusina, Melior and Palatina. Unfortunately, he forgot his promise and broke his word, and the mother and daughters disappeared. It was said that she retired to Cephalonia, the ?Lost Island,” so called because it was only by chance that it was visited, even by those who had stumbled more than once upon its shores. Here the korrigan raised her daughters, taking them easch morning to a high mountain from wich Alba could be seen, thus reminding them of their father’s land and the broken promise. The three sisters (the Gaelic Bas-finne) decided to revenge themselves on their father, and travelling to Britain when they were fifteen years of age, they used their magic to imprison him with a mountain. Pressina was not amused by this action taken on her behalf and spotting Melusina as the ring-leader condemned her to spoend each Saturday in the uncomfortable form of a woman who was a sea-serpent from the waist downward, this curse continuing until she found a man who would marry her and keep his promise to abstain from seeing her on this particular day. Melusina travelled the world looking for the man of her dreams and eventually established a kingdom of fays in the forest of Colombiers, near Poitou, France. There as elsewhere, there was built La Font de Séc, the ?Fountain of Thirst,” also known as the Fountain of the Fays. In 1698 it still stood and it was said that a May fair was held near there each year. At it the women of the neighbourhood sold bien coiffées, fancy pastry figures, sometimes called merlusines. Here the youth named Raymond wandered having recently killed his uncle by accident. At the fountain he met three young women dancing in the moonlight, and immediately fell in love with Melusina. Predictably, he agreed to her terms of marriage, but it proved unhappy because of the deformity of their children. Like Bluebeard’s wife, Raymond could not still his curisity and eventually looked in on her on a saturday and discovered that she was part seasnake ?grey and sky blue mixed with white.” Like her mother Melusina was forced to leave the castle of Lusignan for the Otherworld, but in going promised to haunt the premises and the Fountain of Thirst, coming ?especially on that Friday before the lord of this castle shall die.” The lords of Lusignan eventually became extinct but the shade then attached herself to the kings of France when they were about to depoart their lives. It was sometimes said that Merlusina retreated to mountains near Grenoble, communicating her magic to a number of natural vats found in that place. It is said that the fate of the local crops is tied to the amount of water seen in two of them, one consecrated to corn, the other to wine. A full harvest is to be had when the vats overflow at May day. If they are half full a middling harvest is expected, but when they are dry a blight is thought inevitable. These are not the only places attached to fay-maidens: The old castle at Pirou, on the coast of Cotentin, in Lower Normnandy, was said built by these people, long before the 156

Norsemen descended on that countryside. Fearing the violence of the northerners, the korrigan shape-changed themselves into wild geese. It was claimed that the birth of heirs within the house of Pirou was celebrated when geese strutted in the courtyards of the castle. If the newborn was a girl the plumage of the birds was whiote; if a boy, grey. It is also claimed that the lords of Argoiuges encountered twenty midens mounted on white horses while they were chasing game. The one who was their queen became the consort of the chief lord. His taboo was that he should never use the word mort in her presence. When she delayed over her toilet as they were preparing to attend a tournament, he casually remarked: ?fair dame, you would be the one to fetch Death, for you would never reach his abode.” When this was said she was carried off into the Otherworld, leaving the imprint of her hand on a gatepost as she passed. ?She comes yet each night, clad in a white robe, and wanders in the castle ruins, unterring over and again, ?Mort! Mort! ? A very similar legend is attached to the castle as Rânes, but here a footprint was supposedly left in a battlement as the fay-woman vanbished. This mark may still be seen. Keightley has classified the Romances of chivalry as: ?those of Arthur, those of Charlemagne, and those of Amadis. In the first, with the exception of Isaie le Triste , the fairies appear seldom; the second exhibits them in all their brilliancy and power; in the third which belongs to the literature of Spain, the name does not occuir although the enchantress Urganda seems equal in power to La Dame du Lac.” This last korrigan is specifically mentioned in Lancelot du Lac, which is possibly the earliest of the prose Romances. It was first printed in 1494, and has a metrical equivalent in La Charette which was composed by Chrestieb de Troyes sometime before 1191. Among the incidents of that epic is the death of King Ban, at the torching of his castle on the command of his seneschal. His widowed queen left her new-born infant at lake-side to comfort her husband in his last moments. On her return, she found the infant in the arms of a strange woman. She entreated the woman to return the child, but wordlessly, it carried the babby into the waters of the lake. This lady was the one called Vivienne, who dwelt en la marche de la petite Bretaigne, i.e. in ?little Britain,” or Brittany. In later days Merlin the magician became her lover, and he supposedly taught her his arts, which she used to imprison him. In consequence of her arcane knowledge she became a korrigan , and the prose account says, ?Lancelot was carried into the lake by one who was fay, and in those times past those women who possessed charms and incantations were all called the fay, and there were many of them, most in Great Britain. They knew the virtues and use of words, of stones, and of herbs, and by strange means kept themselkves in youth and beauty, and in riches according to their desires.” The lake was not substatantial, but feerie, which is to say an ?illusion,” that the lady had trumped up from the arts which Merlin had taught her. The Romance says that the wonderworker actually lived on dry land on the summit of a hill, somewhat lower than that on which King Ban had erected his castle. Here she had quietly erected ?many fair houses” on a wooded 157

plain at an even lower level, and through it ran a ?little river well-stocked with fish. Notwithstanding, ?the place was so secret and so concealed, that right difficult was it to find, for the semblance of a lake covered it so that it could not be perceived.” When Lancelot was mature he was taken by the lady to King Arthur’s court, where is subsequent history is still a little understood. A variation on this theme occurs within the Romance called Maugis d’Aygremont et de Vivian son Frère when the servants of the Duke abducted his two children. The older child was sold as a slave but the younger was lost to the kidnappers when they were eaten by a lion and a tiger. These animals then quarrelled over the infant and killed on another. This left the child to be recovereed by Oriande la Fée who lived nearby with four other korrigan. Having examined him and found a gold ring in one ear, the fay damsels knew he was of noble birth, but not knowing who he was carried himn off to Rosefleur where he was raised under the name Maugis. Her brother Baudris was his teacher, ?a man of a hundred years who knew all sorts of necromancy and the arts of magic.” When Maugis was full grown he became the ami of the damsel, and shortly afterwards gained the enchanted horse named Bayard when he travelled ti the island of Boucaut. He then turned back an adventurer who meant to take the lands and castle of Oriande and gained the flaming sword Flamberge which he afterwards gave to his cousin Renaud. In Tristan de Leonis, king Melidus, the father of Tristan was drawn into a hunt by mal engin et negromance of a fairy who had fallen in love with him, In this prose Romance, written by de Troyes and published in 1489, the man was held in captivity until released by Merlin. Thomas Chestre’s poem Sir Launfal gives more twists to mythology: Sir Launfal is represented in this Romance as a favourite of King Arthur who made him the steward of his court. When Arthur married the beautiul but frail Gwennere, the daughter of Ryon, a king of Ireland, the court was generally displeased with the match. To offset this the new queen gave rich gifts to everyone but Lanfel. He forestalled demotion by taking to the woods where he lived a life of poverty. This was his situation when two lovely ladies invited himn to visit their mistress. At the trysting spot, he was introduced to the Dame Tryarmour whose father was the king of the fay. This lady gave her love and her gifts to Launfal, on condition that he remain true to her and keep their affair secret. Made newly wealthy, the knight returned to court and was happy in all things until the queen herself made an amorous advance. When Launfal repulsed Gwennere shwe gained her day by accusing him of rape. The charge was credited against this unfortunate man who was sentenced to be burned alive. This execution was only forestalled by the appearance of Launfal’s mistress who helped him make his escape. The fullest account of the sea-kingdom of the west is given in Ogier le Danois. 158

The fate of the Medieval Romances was something like that of the Victorian novel. Voluminous manuscripts of the type existed in the great public libraries, but were never transcribed from hand-written manuscripts to the printed page. A bit outdated they were seldom perused by learned men until the middle years of the last century. Severalk of them were taken out and edited by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Southey, and others were published under the bylines of antiquarian societies. The readership for such works was small enough to guarntee a publishing disaster in terms of profit, so only modest efforts were made. There was known to exist a whole class of manuscripts whose translation into English seemed a hopeless cause. These were the Welsh popular romances, jointly called the Mabinogeon, from the singular word mabinogi, a tale. A vast collection of handwritten stories was known to exist in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, but there were few interested translators, fewer potential editors, and no publishers. Welsh was then a spoken language of the peasants of Wales, but there were few Welsh scholars. Neither Scott nor Southey were experts in the language but thgey did persuade the small Welsh literati to do their duty by bringing out an English translation of these once famed literary works. This was not an easy matter, and in 1819, Southey wrote Sir Charles Wynn saying ?I begin to despair of ever seeing more of the Mabinogeon...Till some such collection is made the ?gentlemen of Wales” ought to be prohibited from wearing, and interdicted from toasted cheese also. Your bards would have met with better usage if they had been Scotchmen.” Sharon Turner and Sir Walter Scott expressed similar wishes and misgivings, and the lady made an attempt to gain her desire through William Owen, ?a man imperfectly acquinted with English.” Looking over the first translations, he advised Sharon to ?make the language grammatical, but do not alter his idiom in the slightest point.” Unassisted bby true patronage Owen made little headway. Help finally appeared in Lady Charlotte Guest, an English lady married to a wealthy Welshman, who made herself acquainted with both languages. She released four octavo volumes containing the Mabinogeon in Welsh, and in English, giving comparisons from French, German and other affiliated literature. The authors of the oldest Welsh poems were said to be Aneurin (500-550 A,D.), Taliesin, Llwarcg Hen (the Aged), and Myrddin or ?Merlin.” The authenticity of the poems attributed to each has been assailed since all were transcribed by way of romances, and some have been branded as inauthentic. Thomas Bullfinch thought that the poem of Aneurin entitled ?Gododin” had the strongest claim to authenticity. ?In this pooem he laments the defeat of his countrymen by the Saxons at the battle of Cattraeth, in consequence of having taken too freely of the mead before joining in combat.”


The prose portion centres, in part, on a hero named Kynon who tired of the pedetrian adventures within his own land went travelling ?through deserts and distant regions.” One of these wanderings apparently took him into the Fomorian strongholds for he sought directions from ?a black man of great stature...He had but one foot and one eye in the middle of his forehead.” This individual directed him to the Valley of the Fountain, and travelling to it he found the waters of life, ?and by its side a marble slab (representing the male element).” When Kynon threw water from the fountain upon the slab there was the mandatory earthquake and peal of thunder, followed by a shower ?as neither man nor beast could endure.” Being a typical hero he did manage to survive the downpour but was soon confronted by a knight ?clothed in jet-black velvet, and with a tabard of black linen about him.” This is another version of the ravaging of the undersea world, complete with the tale of loss due to submergence, for the dark knight is made to say: ?What evil have I dione thee that thou shouldst act towards me and my possessions as thou hast done today? Dost thou not know that the shower to-day hast left in my dominions neither man nor beast alive that was exposed to it?” In the joust that followed Kynon was unseated from his horse, as any mortal would be confronted by Death in the Dead Lands. Afterwards Kynon noted that ?The black man did not bestow further notice on me, nor did he despoil me of my arms or imprison me.” Having obtained ?a dark bay palfrey, with nostrils as red as scarlet (a sure designation of a creature bred in Hades) Kynon rode out of this country to a meeting with King Arthur and his knights at Caerleon upon Usk. In this tale King Arthur is represented as a man in his dotage, falling asleep as Kynon recounts his travels. The virile Sir Owain was, however, goaded into searching out the Knight of the Fountain. In the land of the Fountain, Kynon’s experience was nearly repeated except that Owain got the better of the black knight who was ?wounded to the very brain.” As the dark lord retreated Owain followed him into his castle, but the gatemen lowered the portcullis with such suddeness and violence it cut his horse in two ?and even carried away the rowels of the spurs that were upon Owain’s heels. Entrapped by the gate, Owain was approached by a maiden, an obvious personification of Summer: ?She had yellow curling hair and a frontlet of gold upon her head; she was clad in a dress of yellow satin and on her feet were shoes of variegated leather.” This morgan seeing Owain’s favourable looks, and hearing his name, asked him to open the gate for her but he could not comply. Somewhat sardonically she responded,”Truly, it is sad to see that I cannot release thee; for every woman should succor thee as there is no one more faithful in service to women than thou.” Nevertheless, she did give the knight a stone of invisibility and instructed him in its use. When the people of the dark lord came to kill Owain they found his dead horse but no 160

sign of the enemy. Inadvertently released from the gate, Owain followed the mystery lady to her chambers, a room ?where there was not a panel that had not sundry images in gold portrayed upon it.” This maiden named Luned, was a morgan but not the Morgan, being by her own admission a ?servant of the Countess of the Fountain.” The dark guardian of the fountain, given his fatal blows by Owain, was the Lord of this Lady. Luned approached her reminding her that ?unless thou canst defend the fountain, thou canst not maintain thy dominions.” This paved the way for Owain’s eventual acceptance of the kingship through the taking of a sovereign-bride. It was said that ?Owain defended the fountain with lance and sword, and when he overthrew a knight he divided what he gained amongst his barons and knights, and thus no man was more beloved than he by his subjects, abd thus it was for three years.” By this time some concern was felt for Owain at the court of King Arthur, and an expedition was mounted to find him or avenge him. Eventually Arthur’s household arrived at the Slab of the Fountain and having heard Kynon’s tale they knew how to summon the Lord of the Fountain (i.e. Ler, the ?Sea”). Arthur made as if he would throw water on the slab but Kay asked that boon ?so that the first adventure will befall me.” Sir Kay is given in the romances as the steward to the court, the ruler of the province of Andegavia. This name is given in French texts as Queux, the ?Spoon-bearer,” or ?head cook.” Bullfinch notes that this name is ?a title, and not a name; yet the personage who bore it is never mentioned by any other.” Actually it is commonplace for men to take names based on their profession, and note the derived queter, ?one who pushes a ball or a spoon.” Anciently this ball was the sun, and as we note elsewhere Kay, the Gaelic Aod confers with a number of sun-gods including Lugh the son of Dagda. Bullfinch notes that his the only comical character in Arthur’s court, a Falstaffian source of merriment and discord. ?In the romances, his character is a compound of valour and buffoonery, always ready to fight, and generally getting the worst of the battle. He is sarcastic and abusive in his remarks, by which he often finds trouble (thus he is the counterpart of Lokki), Yet Arthur seems to have an attachment to him and often takes his advice, which is generally wrong.” In this instance Kay roused the thunder and showers as Kynon and Owain had done before: ?And such a thunder-shower they had never known before, And when the rain ceased, the sky became clear and on looking at the ttree by the fountain they beheld that it was now completely leafless. Then birds descended upon the tree and songs were heard from them, sweeter strains than had ever been heard before. Then they beheld a knight on a coal-black horse and encountered him, and it was not long before Kay was thrown on the ground. Then the knight withdrew and Arthur and his folk camped for the night.” In the end all of the knights of Arthur’s household tried, unsuccessfully, to unseat the black guardian until only Gawain and Arthur were untested. When Gawain tried his hand it was found that neither was unable to get an advantage although they fought through three days. At last Gawain struck a blow that carried Owain’s helmet from his head and the champion’s identity was known to be that of a friend. At the castle of the Countess of the Fountain Arthur’s 161

folk visited for ?three agreeable months,” but in the end the King petitioned the Countess to permit Owain to return to Britain. The Countess gave her consent although it robbed her of her champion for the Fountain. After three years spent at Caerleon, Owain was reminded of this abandonment of duty by the arrival of a typically Fomorian emissary:”a damsel upon a bay horse with curling mane (symbolizing the waves of the ocean), all bespecked with foam, the bridle and saddle of gold. Approaching Owain she pulled the ring of bethrothal and soverignty from his ring-finger, saying: Thus shall be treated the deceiver, the traitor, the faithless, the disgraced, the beardless.” After this she turned her hgorse and rode away. Reprimanded, Owain ?wandered to the distant parts of the earth and to the uncultivated mountains.” He remained there as a hermit wandering about with the wild beasts until his health failed and he eventually came to the park which was a possession of a soverign-princess. Here he was found by her attendants and restored through the efficiency of a life-restoring balsam. ?Owain rendered signal service to the lady, in a controversy with a powerful neighbour, so that he made ample requital to her for her hosptality.” He remained here for three years but ultimately moved on to a hostile-looking land. Here he heard sounds issuing from a huge crag in the middle of the woods. Riding towards the spot he saw a grey rock split in two with a huge serpent nested in the centre. A black cat (sometimes described as a lion) attempted to move towards Owain, but was turned back by the snake. Seeing this, Owain cut the serpent in two and the animal gamboled about the hero as if it were a tame greyhound. Toward evening Owain made camp and fed the cat, While doing so he heard powerful groans coming from a cavern in the rocks, and calling out he was surprised to find the imprisoned Luned, the chief attendant to the Countess of the Fountain. ?I am held here,” she explained,” because I vouched for the return of Owain from the court of King Arthur. I shall be put to death unless he comes again by a certain date which is no further off than tomorrow.” The hooded Sir Owain did not reveal himself to his old saviour but waitedfor the morning, when the men of the Fountain arrived with the intention of burning Luned alive. Challenged they attacked Owain and he was ?hard beset,” but the cat aided him in his fight. As his adversaries complained of this unfair advantage, Owain imprsoned the animal in the cavern where Luned had been kept and went back to the fight. But the lion seeing Owain failing against the odds found a way out and attacking the nearest enemies slew them. It is then said that Owain returned with Luned to the catle of the Lady of the Fountain and convinced her that she should resettle herself at Arthur’s court, ?and there she remained as his wife as long as she lived.” This is patently a revamped version of the Dagda’s invasion of An Domhain, the Lady of the Fountain being the goddess Mhorrigan, who was won over to the cause of the land-gods by the Dagda/Lugh. Notice that the black cat was one of her favourite totem-animals, so it is seen that neither Luned nor Owain were in any real danger of death.


56 In this work we are also told of Pwyll , prince of Dyved (Wales) who was at his palace of Narbeth attending a feast when druids told him of the mountain above Annwn. This place has been called ?The British Hades.” Pwyll was told that those who sat upon this mound either received blows from invisible assailants or saw otherwise invisible worlds. Unable to resist a chance to observe things through through this temporal rift, Pwyll sat upon the hallowed earth and soon observed a lady mounted on a pure white horse. When the horse turned aside, Pwyll attempted to follow it although his druids advised him that no one was fleet enough of foot to approach the aniamls of the mound-dwellers. Hearing this, the prince nevertheless mounted his fleetest horse and pursued. Although horse and rider came at last to a distant country they never lessened the distance between themselves and this maiden. On the following day, Pwyll resumed his stake-out of the mound. This time he mounted his own steed when she first came within sight, but was still unable to catch her. At last he thought to call out, ?Beautiful maiden, do thou stayest for me!” The maiden, responding to politeness of tone, stopped and responded, ?I will now stay gladly, but it would have been less taxing on your horse if you had though to ask earlier.” Comingnear Pwyll asked why she came among men, and she said, ?To see thee.” The prince was flattered and asked who she was. ?I am Rhiannon, daughter of Heveydd, who seeks to marry me to one other than you. What is your answer to this?” The young man immediately gave her his pledged and they agreed to meet for a wedding at the castle Heveydd on twelfthmonth (Beltane).

At the appointed time and place Prince Pwyll was in an agreeable mood and when a supplicant came seeking a favour he too quickly agreed. The man startled him by noting that, ?The lady I love is to be wed to thee this night. I ask her of thee according to thy word.” Learning of this slip of the lip Rhiannon wryly noted, ?This man is Gawl, the man of whom I spoke. Never did a host make poorer use of his wits than this.” Having made a solemn and inflexible Celtic vow, Pwyll could only stall the inevitable and agreed to a wedding between Gawl and Rhiannon at the end of another year. In the new place and time, Gwal was the good-humoured host, while Pwyll came disguised as a begggar. In a unguarded moment it was Gawl who promised. ?anything which is fitting; that will I gladly grant to honour my wedding.” Pwyll wanted a modest boon, the filling of a bag with meat. Unfortunately for the host, this magical sack had an unending appetite for everything put into it. ?Will this not cease, ? questioned Gawl?” Rhiannon being a magic-worker suggested that there would be no end unless the food was tamped down with human feet. Without thinking Gwal stood within the bag and Pwyll quickly turned up the sides. Afterwards Gwal’s retainers were seized and the men loyal to Pwyll played ?badger in the bag” kicking it from place to place with their feet. After a time, the captured man submitted to sureties in return for his release, and once out of the bag showed no further interest in Rhiannon. When Gwall had departed the true lovers were married.

Note that the CymricPwyll correponds with the Gaelic Bel as well as the Gaullish Belenos. All three are recognized as guardians of the Otherworld. Pwyll was at first a normal human, but went on exchange with the lord of the dark lands, and later became the chief among the denzins of the mound. 163

The Welsh goddess Rhiannon is attached to the continental Rigatona, ?The Queen of Demons,” and she in turn is no lesser being than the Gaelic Mhorrigan. Like her, Rhiannon is a mare-deity, the ?one in the shining brocade who rides (or is) the pale horse.” She is also one, or all, of the nine sorceresses of Gloucester, ?those who laid waste the country before the champion Perredur smote them dead.” In these two cases nothing is said of the entrance to the land of Norns or that of the Gwragedd Annwan (pronounced Gwarageth anoon). The Welsh faeries were led by Gwyn, (gwyniad, ?white”) the great hunter of the Otherworld, a deity who led the souls of the slain to Annwn. He obviously confers with the Gaelic god Bile and the Norse Asa (Odin) who are also deathwards. In later Welsh myth, Gwyn became a relatively innoucuous ?king of the wee folk.” The interests of the dark world were opposed by Gwydion (gwawd, ?poetry”) who, like Lugh, was a famous musician and magician, and a friend to mankind. He gave the arts to men and warred against the Netherworld. In the medieval romances he is sometimes represented as Merlin, who was said to have been the son of a Welsh princess and a demon. The entrance to the water-kingdom of the Gwaragedd Annwan was said to be a small lake near the Black Mountains of Wales. In former days, when men were on better terms with the lake-dwellers, there was an erratic, a lone rock standing at lakeside, which could be penetrated at the quarter-days. Men who passed into it found a tunnel which led them to an island very like Avalon. Here they used to be hosted at a feast amidst exquiite gardens, entertained with music, told the secrets of nature, and allowed to stay as long as they pleased. However they were always warned that the island was holy and that nothing might safely be taken from it. One day, in the deep past, a visitor pocketed a small flower thinking it might bring him luck. The moment this man returned to ?unhallowed ground” the flower withered and he was stricken with paralysis. At the same time the tunnel flooded with water and the rock became impenetrable stone. Back with the Mabinogeon we learn of the Kilwich who came to Arthur’s court on a bride-hunt. He was met in a rather surly fashion by the gate-keeper, who insisted he could not enter the court as ?the knife is already in the meat.” Kilwoch insisted on immediate entry promising that he would set up death-shrieks ?at every gate” if he were delayed. He had his way with only a slight delay and soon addressed the assembly craving the boon of a kinsman. It is interesting that his request demanded the manpower of specific heroes and deities, among them ?the majestic maiden Creiddylad, the daughter of Lludd, she who is known as the perpetual maiden.” This is, of course, Samh or Mhorrigan who is also represented as ?Cordelia,” in the writing of Shakespeare. It is noteworthy that the bard said that her father was Lear (the Sea), ?called indiscriminately Llyr or Lludd.” It was said that she was ?devoted” to her aged parent, the great immortal god of the ocean. Bullfinch says that few men were aware that it was her destiny ?to remain with him until the day of doom.” This is not to say that she was exclusively his for it is a matter of Welsh tradition that she was the prize of May day battles between Gwn ap Nudd, the king of the fairies and Gwythyr op Greidiol. Whoever managed to conquer at that time had her favour for the summer-season, which might be cheerful and bright or winter-like according to the outcome. The maiden that Kilwoch had been advised to seek was named Olwen but none of 164

Athur’s people were familiar with her or her country. Arthur asked time to send messengers to every part of the world seeking her wheeabouts, but Kilwoch became so tired of waiting he eventually warned that he would soon ?depart, bearing the honour of this house with me.” To forestall this Arthur called upon Kay and Bedwyr and Kyndelig, the guide, Gurhy, the linguist, Meneu, the druid, and Gawain ?the Green Knight,” as a strike force intended to bring back the lady at all costs. It is not said how these men travelled but they must have come, at last, to the Otherworld, for they found their destination in ?a great castle on a vast open plain.” When the travellers asked a herdsman whose castle stood before them they were told that it was the dwelling of Yspadaden Penkawr stood before, but also told them that men who willingly sought this place never returned from it alive. Nothwithstanding, Arthur’s kinfolk spent a night billeted with the herdsman and his wife, and on the morning she sent a message of parlay to Olwen, who came out to greet them. Notice that she is the ?part-coloured goddess:” ?The maiden was clothed in a robe of flamecoloured silk, and about her neck was fitted a coller of ruddy gold, studded with rubies and emeralds. More yellow was the hair of her head than the flower of the broom and her skin like unto the foam of the sea, whiter and fairer yet were her hands and fingers, like sea-anemones amidst the spray of a meadow-fountain. No eye of the hawk exceeded hers in brightness and her bosom was that of the breast of a swan, her cheeks reddeer than the rose. Whoesover saw her loved her, and the trefoils sprang from the footprints which she made.” This lady of the Summer warned ?I have pledged my faith to my father not to go without his counsel for his life is only sustained until the day I am espoused (in short his sovereignty depended on his relationship with his daughter/wife). Therefore ask what you will of him but whatever he requires of you, you must fulfill, for if you fail to do so you will not obtain me for your master and none of you will leave this place alive.” Although they were a little disturbed by this, the crew now assaulted the nine castle gates slaying the porters that guarded the various entryways. ?And they slew the nine watch-dogs (of the dark lord Cromm) and went forward into the great hall.” More than a little put out by this act Yspadaden Penkawr granted a preliminary audience, and as they were leaving siezed one of the three poisoned darts that lay at his side and threw it after the petitioners. Bedwyr whose one armed, but the most agile of the company, caught the missile in the air and threw it back at the king so that ot caught him in the knee. A true Fomorian he merely noted that his future son-inlaw was not a gentleman: ?I shall walk the worse for this rudeness, which is without cure.!” That night they again retired to the herdsman’s house outside the castle precints, and again they met with the ruler of this distant land. This time he said that he needed another night to consult with the girl’s four grandparents, and again as his ?guests” were leaving he attempted to pin one of them to the floor. Meneu caught this dart and wounded the giant in the middle of his chest, but it did little beyond making him short of breath. On the third day tried the third dart which Kilwich himself plucked from the air, and this time wounded his potential father in law ?through the eyeball (thus paralleling the tale in which Lugh kills Balor). Yspadaden was apparently well made for it caused a burning in his eye ?and 165

a little giddiness about the time of the new moon,” but he was not greatly damaged. On the fourth day, the giant complained that the espousal of his daughter would lead to his death (as was the case with Balor). Nevertheless, the monarch knew better than to try to do more than circumvent the will of the Fates, so he set trials for Arthur’s men hoping they might fail. The requirements in this case remmind one of those placed on the sons of Tuireann by the sun-god Lugh: a white wimple for his daughter’s head on her wedding day, the harp of Teirtu, the services of the huntsman named Mabon, two cubs from the litter of the wolf named Gast Rhymhi, the sword of Gwernach the Giant, and finally ?horses and chivalry.” To complete their tasks the travellers returned to Arthurs court where, the king himself ?went in his ship Prydwen by sea, while others went on the hunt by land,” for the various elements of the treasure-hunt. It is of interest that Bedwyr the One Armed and his friend Kay pursued the wolf-cubs, just as the one-armed Tyrr and his ?friend” Thor hunted down the Fenris-wolf. To contain them the heroes had to obtain a leash made of hair plucked from the living beard of Dillus Varwawe, a gigantic wild boar. Kay managed this by entrapping the animal in a pit, immobilizing him with a terrific blow, and plucking the hairs from his spine using homemade wooden tweezers. With the varied talents of the whole assembly Arthur’s men aided Kilwoch in gaining everything needed to claim Olwen. When it was seen that Yspadeden Pehkawr had lost power to the Britons, the herdsman, whose brothers he had killed, stepped forward and decapitated the former king wnd placed his head on a stake of the citadel. ?They then took possession of the castle, and all of its treasures. That night Olwen (Mhorrigan) became Kilwich’s bride, and she continued as such as long as she lived. The various romances have some common threads that suggest an underlying truthfulness even if they are ?a ransacking of history and fable to find examples of courage and piety that might excite (Christain) emulation.” If Arthur was the chief focus of British interest, his parallel is found in Charlemagne on the Continent. Arthur’s pretensions were that he was a brave, historical, not always successful warrior and individual, who stood up to the infidels (i.e. the Saxons). His memory was supposedly carried in the folklore of the Celts when they retreated to the fastness of Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Amoricia. His grandeur was quite possibly magnified to that of European conqueror and his genealogy was gradually worked back to Brutus, a supposed participant in the Trojan Wars. A chronicle of the doings of the Britons from the first days was written in the Welsh and Amorician tongues under the title The History of the Kings of Britain. This was translated into Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1150 A.D. Welshmen have sometimes considered the essential facts to have been those of a now lost earlier history penned by St. Talian, Bishop of St. Aspah in the seventh century. The illustrious British poet Milton reformed this work as part of his History of England. The story has some counterparts in Irish prehistory, for the Albions were said to have been a giant race like the Fomors. The attachments to classical myth are of interest since Albion, the first giant, is described as a son of Neptune, the supreme god of the sea, who is comparable with Ler or Lear. It is said that Albion was slain by Hercules when he stood in the way of his westward quest after the ?cows of the sea.” Hercules is usually said to confer with the Gaelic Lugh, so we have here further contention between the land and the sea gods.


In Gaelic myth there is sometimes mention of Noah, or Nuada as the progenitor of the British Celts. In English ?history” it is said that Noah’s grandson Histion had fours sons, Francus, Romanus, Alemanus and Britto, from whom are descended the French, the Romans, the Germans, and the British peoples. Milton didn’y like any of these tales preferring that which gives the glory to Brutus, the Trojan. According to Monmouth, Brutus was the son ofSilvius, and he the son of Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, whose flight from Troy following the long war there used to be well-known. Brutus with his father at the chase accidently killed him with a stray arrow (again bring up the theme of paternicide). Banished by his own kin he at first settled himself in a remote part op Greece. Here they suffered the same fate as the early Gaels, being oppressed by the king of that country. They retreated to the woods, engaged in guerilla warfare and ultimately overcame King Achelous. To be rid of them, the king granted Brutus his daughter in marriage and furnished the shipping, money and provisions which would see them safely deported. The ?Trojans” with a fleet of one hundred and twenty ships set out for an island somewhere in the Merditerranean, where they erected a temple to Diana (remember that the Tuatha daoine were the people of Danu?) In this derelict place they invoked their oracle who advised them to ?seek far in the west, on the ocean wide, beyond the kingdom of Gaul, the land Seaggirt, where giants dwelt; Now voiud, it will fit thy people. Bend there thy course, to this lasting seat. There shall another Troy arise and kings be born, whose dreadful might will awe the world, and conquer nations round.” Brutus, now fitted out with divine directions, sailed out into the Tyrrhene Sea, off Italy and evenntually they rounded Spain putting in at the Loire River in France. Here they intended to settle, but the goddess was opposed and the Gauls were also antagonistic. They soon put to sea again, landing on the Devonshire coast of England where they did put down roots. Diana had not got it quite right: The island of Albion was still inhabited by some of Albion’s race, It is said that the Trojans encountered these giants and ?extripated” them. The chief giant-killer is supposed to have been a man named Corineus, who appears elsewhere in mythology as the horned-god Cornu. Cornwall which was named after him, was the region he receieved at the division of land. ?There the hugest giants dwelt, lurking in rocka and caves, till Corineus rid the land of them.” It is further claimed that Brutus set up a city named Triovantus, later renamed London, and havving governed England for more than two decades died, leaving his sonsportions of England: Locrine was deeded the middle lands while Camber received the west, which for a time was called Cambria. A third son, Albanact received Albania, now named Scotland in all but the Gaelic tongue. Interestingly, a King Leir is represented as a successor to the Brittonic throne although he corresponds in some parts with the old Gaelic god of the ocean. It was noted that Leir reigned from Leicester which was named after him. He had no male issue, but only three daughters (matching the three Basfinne). When he had grown old he decided to divide his kingdom among them, arranging marriages for them before his death. To aid him in the division 167

he decided to determine which of the three loved him most. Goneril, the oldest daughter (conferring with Macha) when asked assured her father that she loved him ?above my soul.” Having answered so well she was given a husbad and a valued part of his estates. Having seen the success of this answer the second lady, Regan (Mebd) answered, when asked, that she loved him ?more than all things in the world.” This seemed appropriate and she was given her due. Cordelia (Mhorrigan), the youngest, was also questioned. Although she had previously been the best-loved by her father, she answered candidly: ?Father my love for you is that which duty demands. Those who say they offer more flatter you.” The old man did not expect this answer and persisted in re-phrasing the question but she would not reset her answer. Finally old King Leir responded: ?Since thou hast no care for thy aged father in the fashion of your sisters, you will not have anything I can offer,” With this he married Goneril to the Duke of Albany and Regan to the Duke of Cornwall, and divided the country equally between them. For his retirement he went to livbe with his eldest daughter taking a hundred nights with him to serve his needs. The new arrangement did not prove agreeable to Leir for the oldest girl reduced his attendants to thirty, claiming they were too numerous, disorderly and expensive to maintain. The old king therefore moved in on his second oldest daughterr, but she refused to assuage his wounded pride and took the part of her sister. When he finally moved north again, Gonreil only agreed to have him along with a single servant. In this position he remembered Cordelia and her honest answer and journeyed to visit with her in exile. She immediately recognized his forlorn state and sent her own servants to him to furnish his needs. Since Cordelia had allied herself with a powerful prince she was able to persuade him to accomapny the old king in retaking England. The wicked sisters were put down, and Leir regained the throne for three years but in the end Cordelia succeeded him and reigned for five years. However, the sons of her sisters, rebelled against her and she lost both her crown and her life. Shakespeare has taken this old tale as the theme of King Lear, The madness of Lear and the poor success of Cordelia in attempting to restore her father to power in that novel are literary variations.

Utgardr, ?the garden of confusion,” was sometimes called Jotunheim, the ?home of the heavy eaters,” these people being identified with theVanr, or sea-giants, who were defeated by the gods and banished to the northwestern boundary of the world. Odin is supposed to have gone there seeking wisdom from the giant named Mimir, and Thor travelled there during one of earth’s cold spells. The people of Jotunheim governed the north wind and were blamed for sending south the biting blasts that nipped crops before they matured. Thor went to see them with the intention of forcing them to show more civilized behaviour. Accompanied by Loki, he set out on his chariot riding up on the south wind for an entire day. At the edge of giant-land he came upon a peasant hunt, where the inhabitants were poor but very hospitable. They had only two goats to provide for their needs and Thor saw that these would hardly be adequate for his own appetite. He therefore took on the role of cook, 168

intending to bring a little magic to hhis work of preparing food. In the pot the goat’s meat multiplied so that there was plenty to serve everyone, but Thor cautioned the giants against throwing the bones on the ground or breaking them. As they the meat was torn away the god collected the bones in the goat skins which lay nearby on the floor. The peasant and most of his family ate heartily and did as they were told, but one son, being more ravenous than the others, broke a bone and sucked the marrow from it, such things having once been considered a delicacy. In the morning Thor arose struck the goat skins with his hammer and reivigorated the two goats except that one was perceived to be lamed. Noticing this defect Thor was inclined to slay the whole family, but the guilty boy owned up to his sin. In the end the pesant appeased Thor’s growing wrath by enslaving the boy and a sister Roskva to the god. Charging the peasant with care of the goats and adding these giants to his company Thor and Loki walked from here into ?a bleak and forbidding country, always enveloped in a nearly impenetrable grey mist.” Through the fog the party at last spotted a house which had one side that seemed ?nearly all portal.” Finding the doors open, the travellers entered and being very tired fell to the floor and slept until they were awakened by ?a peculiart noise and a prolonged trembling of the ground.” Thinking that the roof would surely fall in this earthquake, Thor and his companions took refuge in a side-room where they again fell asleep. At dawn, the people emerged from the place and had not gone far when they came upon a resting mountain-giant, whose snores had produced the sounds they heard and whose sleep-movements had rocked the ground. Thor’s people stood amazed as the giant groped about in the twilight looking for some object laid aside while he slept, and this proved to be the his mitten, which was the ?house” in which the visitors had sheltered. Eventually, the giant Skrymir caught sight of the tiny people, and learning that they were on their way to Utgardr volunteered to act as a guide. They all walked on for another day and before Skrymir lay down to sleep he offered them some of the provisions from his carry-all, but they had to go without food since not even Thor could untie the giant’s knots which guarded the mouth of the bag. Troubled by the giant’s snoring Thor struck him three frightful blows with his hammer, but the giant responded by brushing at his face as if wayward leaves were falling there. In the morning the mountain-giant parted from his new friends, noting that they could come to Utgardr castle by taking the ice-bridghe. Beyond they found a castle of ice and slipping between the bars of the porticullus found their way to Ut, the king of giants. In spite of the small size of Loki and Thor, the Jotun recognized them as the mighty foes of his race and invited him to show their powers. Thor, having fasted much to long, declared he would meet any wager in return for a decent meal. The king ordered that a wooden trough full of meat be brought to the great hall, and placing Loki at one end and his cook Logi at the other, commanded that the two show who could eat best. Loki did an admirable job, but by the time he had pigged out at centre trough, he found that Logi had eaten all of the bones from both meals and consummed the wooden trough as well. Contemptuously Ut nettled Thor to show well he could drink. 169 Bringing in a large

drinking-horn, Ut told Thor that normal giants could empty the vessel at a single draught. Thor tried the ale but when he thought the horn empty it appeared filled again to the rim. Afterwards Thor’s servant, the lad called Thialfi said he would run a race to prove his power, but he soon fell behind Ut’s runner who was named Hugi. Thor now agreed to a test of strength and trightening his magic bet, which increased his powers, he strained without effect in an attempt to raise the giant’s cat. In thge end Thor was reduced to wrestling Ut’s elderly nursemaid and this ended as badly as the other tasks. In the morning the guests were escorted to the southern boundary of Utgardr, where the giant-king said they hoped that Thor would l;eave his kingdom in peace in the years to come. In a more open mood, the giant admitted that he found Thor impressive, and said that he had only been able to defeat him by indirection and magic. Loki’s (Fire’s) opponent was, after allhe noited Logi (Wild Fire) which was always more consuming. As for Thialfi he had raced against Hugi (Thought) and what is faster? The drinking horn had magical links with the ocean, whose ?ale” could nbever be taken in a single drink. The cat was the shape-changed Middle Earth serpent, whose tale-biting act ties him to the sea-bottom. Eli, the nurse, was irresistible Old Age personified. In truth, Thor could not have beat these odds. Ut warned that if any of the gods contended with the Jotuns at a future time similar delusions would be brought to bear. At this Thor raised his hammer against the castle in the north, and would have destroyed it, but it vanished in the mist, forcing him to leave the north winds intact. Thor found it difficult to overlook this slight and when he later found the giant Hrungnir, rattling sabres with the gods at the very gates of Asgardr, he raised his thunderhammwer to strike him down. He was prevented from doing so by the other gods, who cited the sacred rites of hospitality, and the bad taste in desecrating their own home with blood. Wrapped in his wrath Thor retreated but demanded to meet the giant in a holmgang or duel within the bounds of Jotunheim. When his fellow giants heard that he had accepted the challenge they constructed a nine mile high creature of clay who they named the Mist Wader as his second. Thor selected the giant-servant Thialfi as his helpmate. On the day of the duel, Thialfi made fairly quick work of the Mist Wader, for his hear was a cowardly mare, who fled leaving the creature inanimate. Thor stuck at Hrungir’s stone club with his hammer, and the flint of which it was made pulverized. A bit of this material embedded itself in Thor’s forehead but before he fell his hammer went at the giants head and killed him. At home Thor’s lover, the goddess Sif tried to remove the splinter and they finally had to send for the sorceress Groa. By reciting powerful runes the enchantress loosened the chip. Feeling he would soon be free of this nasty encumbrance Thor decided to reward the lady by telling her that he had managed to rescue her lost son from the far side of the Elivagr Stream. Delighted with this news, Groa lost her place in the rune words and the flint became caught in Thor’s flesh where it remained. Thor was even less enamoured of the giants after this and when his hammer was stolen he was certain he knew who had taken it. Consulting with Loki, he explained they were now all at hazard since the giants could use the thunder-hammer to successfully storm Asgardr. Loki volunteered to spy out the thief id Freya would loan him her shape-cahnging falcon-feathers. The goddess agreed, and as a black bird, he flew north to the palace of the frost-giant named 170

Thiassi, the chief of northern thunder storms. By artful questioning he deduced that Thrymthurse monster did have the hammer and that he had decided not to risk using it but had buried it deep in the ground. The giant confided that he might return the hammer if he could have the goddess Idun as his bride. There was a problem in this: Idun, the goddess of beauty was already mated and did much care for ?the dreary northlands.” When Freya approached her with the idea, her bloodpressure spread her neck arteries sop seriously she burst the necklace she was wearing. In addition, Idun was the protector of the groves which grew the apples which the gods used against aging. Some say that Thor and Loki shape-changed themselves into Idun and her attendant to trick the frost-giant, but knowing Loki, it seems that an alternate tale is more nearly true. It ius said that Loki watched for Idun in the lonely groves of Brunnaker. There he told her of several new grafts of apple which were found in an orchard not far distanct. She followed him out of Asgard, and not long after he left her stranded near the borders of Utgardr. Seeing her there the leering Thiassi came and took her in his eagle shape, and carried her away to his cheerless castle. Isolated Idun began to lose weight, but all the time refused to eat herself anmd offered him none of her magic apples which were the source of renewed life and health for men and the gods. The gods were not mindful of Idun’s whereabouts since she was a known recluse, but as she faded and aged so did they, and no apples of youth came to their tables. Investigation revealled she had last been seen with Loki, and Odin soon demanded, and got, a confession. The gods now menaced Lokki and he had to assure them that Idunm would be returned. Donning the falcon-shape again he flew to the palace of Thrymheim and found the goddess there, mourning her exile from her beloved Bragi. Changing Idun into a nut, Loki took her up in his beak and rapidly flew back to Asgardr. He was soon pursued by an eagle, the giant Thiassi, returning from a fishing expedition on the northern sea. Within Asgards the gods had built a guiding fire near their gates, and seeing Loki pursued they stood by with extra fuel until he was through the smoke. As soon as he and Idun were out of harms way they threw combustibles on the pyre and Thiassi pursued through flames. The inferno incinerated his feathers and he lost altitude plunging into the flames. The Aesir were overjoyed at the outcome but had broken the hospitality of their gate and when Thiassi’s daughter Skadi turned up looking for compensation they were forced to allow her to marry one of the gods. Skadi, the goddess of winter, selected by lot Niord, one of the old race of sea-giants attached to Odin’s court, but could he could not stand the dangers of her chaotic realm, where they went in the winter, and she had no liking for his soft palace at the sea-shore. They parted by mutual agreement and she mated at last with Uller, the god of winter, who is the alter ego of Odin. She is said to have departed for the islands west of Scandinavia where she settled the in the Hebrides and became the spirit of the land named Skadi Land or Scotland. The Jotunns were also known as the Thurses, or ?Thirsty Ones,” and remembrances of excursions to this northern place seem to have continued into the Middle Ages. In the Germanic countries the heavy-drinkers consorted in Scharanfennland. Nansen says that this mythic 171

country had its counterpart in Fyldeholmen, the ?keep of the full-ones.” Thus we find the phrase ?go to Fyllehilm” meaning ?to go on a drinking bout.” As Nansen says, this phrase shows a certain Norse preoccupation with alcoholic drink as the most important feature of any land of desire, and from this, perhaps, the naming of Winland during the Norse age of Atlantic exploration.. In the Farosese lay known as Gongu-Rólv’s kvæthi a giant carried the human named Rolv to Möyaland, the ?Great Land” of Irish myth. There the hero found Lindinmjá, a fair maiden with whom he slept for three nights. On the third she lost her virginity. The other maidens in that place wanted to throw him into the sea, or at least torture him, but the ?injured” maiden used her magic to call the bird named Skúgv to her. She commanded this giant creature to carry her lover from harm, and this was accompllished in seven days and seven nights of travel. He was eventually deposited in Norway on the high mountain called Trondhjem, ?Troll’s home.” This tale reminds us of the Gaelic Tir na-m-Ban, the ?Land of Whiteness” or ?Females,” where virginity was protected for its utility in enacting magic. Sometimes reference was made to ?Islands of Virgins,” where men were not welcome. At maturity some of these ladies travelled to Tir na Fer, the ?Land of Men,” so that they could become impregnated and continue their social order. Unwanted male children were exposed to death on the barrens after the women returned to their home island. This was exactly the situation on the island of Sena, off the coast of Brittany where it will be remembered that there were priestessses who held all-female orgies, to which men were not invited but ?had to visit the men on a neighbouring coast, and return after having had intercourse with them.”

The Arabs also knew that there were islands in the Great Ocean and called some of them Jaza’ir al-Khalidat, the Eternal Islands, perhaps after a Greek model. Some of their tales mention these islands casually as if they were legendary rather than mythic, and some said there were six in all, although if they are the Carnaries (as we suspect) there were actually seven. Some writers pointed to the fact that there once stood a bronze statue at the Port of Cádiz, Spain, warning mariners to turn back while sober second thought was possible. Not all men took the warning for in 942 an Arab historian named al-Mas’udi said that, ?It is generally accepted that the sea- the Dark Atalntic - is the source of all other seas. They tell marvelous stories of it, which we have entered in our book entitled, The Historical Annals, where we speak of what was seen there by men who entered it at the risk of their lives and from which some have returned safe and sound. Thus, a man from Cordoba named Khashkhash got together a number of young men from the same city and they set sail on the ocean in ships they fitted out. After a rather long absence, they returned with rich booty. The story is famous, and well-known to all Spaniards.” Unfortunately, the Annals, which presumably gave a detailed accoiunt of this passage and what was seen in the far west, is lost. We are not certsin what direction Khashkhash took, and 172

he may have done little more than plunder the shores of Spain, France or Britain. Probably, he travelled further afield for Arab historians were by then aware of the geography of northwestern Europe, and this sea-voyage is couched in the context of an All-Encompassing Sea. These mariners may be those mentioned by al-Idrisi’s account of a voyage taken by eighty men from Portugal sometime before the year 1147 (the date when this Muslim realm fell to the Christians). The mugharrirun who took this voyage became famous enough to have a street in Lisbon named after them at the present time: ?It was from the city of Lisbon that the mugharrirun set out to sail the Sea of Darkness in order to discover what was in it and where it ended...These men, all ordinary people, got together and built a large ship and stocked it with enough food and water for several months. Then they set sail with the first gentle easterly and sailed for about eleven days until they came to Sheep Island. There were so many sheep there it was impossible to count them, and they ranged freely, with no one to watch them. The party landed and found a spring with a wild fig-tree beside it. They caught some of the sheep and killed them, but the flesh was so bitter they could not eat it. They did take some sheepskins and sailed further south until they sighted an island. They could see it was inhabited and under cultivation. They headed toward it in order to explore and when they were still offshore, found themselves surrounded by boats, which forced their ship to land beside a sea-side city. They saw there men who were all light complexioned, with very little facial hair. The hair on their heads was lank and they were very tall; their womenfolk generally beautiful. They were imprisoned here for three days but on the fourth an Arab-speaking man entered and asked thenm about their intentions. They told him everything and he told them that he was the king’s interpreter and that they had nothing to fear. The next day they were taken to the king where they explained that they had set out to see the wonders of the ocean. The king laughted at this, saying: ?My father has already tested the ocean for its ?wonders.” Some of his slaves embarked westward for a month until they came to a place where there was no more light. They came back having seen nothing of any importance or use.” The king then ordered his people to treat them well sp that they might have a good impression of his land. Later when the west wind began to blow they were placed in a boat which had been prepared for them and were taken on a three day trip to an adjacvent mainland. Bound hand and foot they were placed on a beach where they struggled unsuccessfully to get free: ?When dawn broike we foundourselves in great pain and thirst because we we so tightly tied. Then we heard noises and the sound of people, and we all cried out. Some people approached, and seeing our difficulty, released us. They asked us what had happened and we thold them the whole story. They were Berbers. One of them asked us: ?Do you know how far you are from your own country?” ?No,” we answered. ?A full two months journey!” he replied. Our leader responded Wa asafi! ?Woe is me!” and to this day that place is known as Asfi.’ Asfi is a port on the southern coast of Morocco. The first place these Arabs visited was Jazirat al-Ghanam, the Island of Sheep, a persistent image in many of the early voyages. In related writings al-Idrisi says that the Sheep Island was very large and shrouded in shadows. These details seems to place it in the north rather than the south Atalntic, for the Canaries and associated islands are less forbidding places and were never known to have wild populations of sheep. Near Sheep Island the writer says was Raqa, the island home of the Roc, a red bird the size of an eagle, ?which catches fish with its claws and never flies far from its home. Here is found the fruit of a tree, somewhat like a large fig, which when eaten is the antidote for any 173

poison. A king of the Franks (French), hearing of this valuable commodity, sent men to bring him samples, but that ship was lost in the sea.” Paul Lunde thinks that Sheep Island was within the Azores, and that the species of bird mentioned might have been a goshawk. Unfortunately for his argument, he has to admit that ?the sheep are a problem. No large animals are indigenous to the Azores and no sheep or goats could have been brought to the islands .”