Posts Tagged ‘irish’

For a long while I struggled with the importance of learning Irish Gaeilge to my devotion to the paganism of my Irish heritage.  Firstly the written form of Gaelic languages are very odd.  Secondly there were so many substandard resources out there. Eventually, I got lucky, someone on Gael Naofa referred me to an Irish conversation club in my area and after a few months of meeting with them I learnt from them of an Irish tutor with affordable rates in my area and evening curses.

After six months of study with the tutor, I can greet Brighid in her own language and say thank you. This is no small feat, Brighid can be pronounced a dozen ways based on what words are before and after it, it’s context and so on.  I can also say a few other phrases. Has it altered my world view? yes.  Is it hard to learn a new language? Yes.  But it is worth it, and if you are dedicated to the pagan roots of your heritage it will do you good to learn a little of the language. And even though tapes didn’t work for me, they do help a lot of people and they are still a good way to start.

Irish (Gaeilge) Tea with Grandpa L1G1 from Lang Hunter on Vimeo.

The above lessons are by my teacher, this is similar to what we do in the group.  By learning to drink tea together in Gaeilge, we learn one of the major daily cultural events of Irish people and it helps us not only learn the language but its context in culture.

These lessons are also interesting and use the same idea of immersion to teach Gaeilge.


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A favorite God

Lugh/Luga/Llew is a pan-Celtic God.  He has the city of Lyons named for him, as well as a pan-Celtic holiday, Lughnasadh held is his honor or in honor of his foster mother Tailtu in August.   He is a god of many skills, granted to him by his mother and he is a god of light, he has a very bright aura like the sun.

Many of my favorite masculine Irish figures are not gods, but rather demi-gods or heroes: Fionn, Cuchulian, Ossian, and Angus.  However, Lugh is all God, so I call him one of my favorites.

We recently held Lughnasadh and we always have an excellent loaf of bread made by one of my coven mates and this year was no different.  It wasn’t long before we had eaten all of him except for the best share which was offered to Him for fertility in our crops.

Lugh Bread

Lugh Bread

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Keeper and Companion

Keeper and Companion painting by Sara Star in sepia tone

A favourite Goddess.

One of my favorite Goddesses is Brigit. I paint her aspect as a Saint quite a lot. And I hope to paint her more in pagan art.

Brigit is so many things, a hearth goddess, a well and spring water goddess, a muse, a healer a forger. I find she is all things relating to creation the spark of inspiration the making and the repairing/treating of the created.

As an artist I find her especially helpful and I think of her often and am devoted to her.

There are so many traditions associated with Brigit. From the Brigit’s mantle that you set out to collect due on Imbolc Eve, to the Brigit’s dolly and bed, to flame cells, to well dressings.

Brigit is my ama chara, my heart kindred friend. I love her and want to be alike to her.

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What’s your witchy background?

Little Witch

It all started on Halloween 1983

It began when I was very young, just  a girl and I was interested in witches and sympathetic to them and their familiars in stories–even when they were cast as the bad guys.  My mom encouraged my interest and taught me wishcraft and protection energy work.   She and my father were non-members of a new age eastern christian fusion church, Unity.  I became interested in Druidry and Irish folk custom in college, a few of my teachers were witches and druids in college, and one of my class mates was the priestess of an interfaith coven, and I started to get involved with it.  Her group broke up and decided to go totally Wiccan instead of interfaith. I moved on into a sort of Coptic/Gnostic interest in Christianity, especially iconography and Mary Magdalen and priestess and Mary Mother of God.

From there it was only a matter of time before I became pagan and witch.

Because of my background, I knew a number of solitary witches and magicians.  Friends lent me books, and one trusted friend suggested I find a group.  I shopped around a bit and eventually found Amy as she was founding her new group (she had moved to a new area too far from her old coven).  And we started, the group slowly grew, often it was only the two of us.  We studied together, she taught me a bit, and now it is at six/seven members.  I studied a ton, and I don’t recall exactly why, but Amy and I got interested in mandrakes.

My internet searches for how to grow mandrakes led me to a now defunct forum on Traditional Witchcraft.  I joined and learned and learned and researched and practiced and experimented so I could begin to give back.  Around the same time, I caught wind of Celtic Reconstructionalism–probably through one of the groups I tried out on experimental magic.

I also began to study under Jack Darkhand in the Millennium Tradition he was founding.   It is a Celtic and Witchcraft magic tradition and spirituality way.   I studied intensely his lesson for about half a year, read thoroughly on theory and spent a lot of time building my practice.  Then Jack Darkhand let me know he was dying.   Later on he and I had a small disagreement that led to us not continuing our lessons, but partin on good terms.  He died a year later and I went to his funeral to try and find other members of his tradition, but I did not, his friends told me it was a new tradition and only his widow is privy to more information than I am.  It saddens me know, because I mostly came around to his point of view on the disagreement and all those months of lessons we lost over it.

These three major sources molded me and I continue to work from lessons from all three, Traditional Craft, CR, and Jack Darkhand.  I bring all these things into the picture when I work with the coven and the other members bring their compatible but diverse backgrounds in as well.

It was ten years ago May, that I first got involved in magical and mystical traditions, and 6 years of being a pagan polytheist.

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Minstrels by Gak

Mistrels by Gak

In the legends of old Ireland, bards could win wars, dethrone kings and permanently blemish the beautiful with their rhymes. There is still a strong remnant of this in today’s society. I think of John Dean’s fall from popularity and loss of his chance at the democratic presidential candidacy because the news media bards satired his enthusiasm and “wooting” at a rally.

Saturday Night Live and Tina Faye affected the world’s view of Sarah Palin in the last election and certainly impacted how seriously people take her to this day.

Bards of old were the newscasters and late night comedians of their day. What we see today had a more magical life in ancient and medieval times. Just imagine what a witch or bard of today can do when they know the occult uses of words and have the skill of Tina Fey or tenacity of a Pulitzer Prize reporter.

A very special trick a good bard has up her sleeve is discovering the targets gies. The gies is a catch 22 type weakness most important people have. Your probably know your mom or dad’s weakness, and if you are a skilled bard, you will catch the targets gies and will either reveal it or use it to trap the target in a social corner.

A lot of magic is in intuition and well place application of the knowledge gained through this extra sense. As a witch it would behoove you to pay close attention to the weaknesses of those around you, and to eradicate or at least closely guard your own weaknesses so no one can catch you off guard.

Perhaps this is why the maxim, “Know Thyself” is so significant to the witch. A witch must know herself and improve herself as to better protect herself and to better perform her magic.

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I have been busy painting and creating all month.  I finished a commission of a greek goddess, I started on another one.  I finished an icon of Brigit for my coven and I created a mounted print of  the same–which is for sale in my shop .

Sacred Brigit Icon

Sacred Brigit Icon

I am fascinated with Brigit, she is a goddess and a saint of both water and fire.   I feel akin to her and I strive to be like her.  She is one of the two patron saints of Ireland.  And she just has an incredible energy.

Brigit signature symbol is the Brigit’s cross which is made of reeds or rushes.  She has a temple and well at Kildare with an eternal flame that was tended in the past by 19 priestesses and now is tended by 19 nuns.  Every 20 days Brigit tends the flame herself

My coven is going to put this icon atop a candle stand for 20 candles.

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