Away With The Fairies: Danu, The Tuatha Dé, The Land & Me

Unsuspecting, fairy agnostic Bee landed in Ireland in 2001 and settled in the shade of Slieve Anieran, the mountain where the Tuatha dé Danaan first arrived in what was known as Erin. Over the years a relationship with the goddess they worshiped has unfolded with the land, even more than the myth associated with this band that latterly became the fairy race of Ireland, being spirit guide and mentor.

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Bee Smith

Bee Smith

Bee is a former columnist for Sagewoman, published poet, Brigit and Danu devotee (more about this later) and creatrix of guided walks and talks on the theme of Fairy Ireland and pilgrimage leader for Imbolc celebrations of Brigit in Ireland. You can learn more about tours on her website www.irishblessingstours.com.

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Solstice Crossroads

There is a cultural stereotype that Ireland is a Catholic country, harrassed by clergy and neurotically pious. The literary canon tends to reinforce this view; contemporary writers are less concerned with overturning this and getting on with fresh material. Ireland may be a majority Catholic country, but as Catholic friends from other countries point out - not as they know it! While the Catholic Church may be a social institution still, especially in rural areas, it does not hold sway spiritually anymore.  (The resounding 'Yes' vote to gay marriage on 22nd May 2015 in the Republic of Ireland displayed little heed to Bishop's sermons to the contrary.)  The popularity of ancient sacred sites at Summer Solstice is one piece of evidence that Ireland has never really divested itself of her pagan roots. 

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This Place is Sídhe

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Who is Danu?

I ask myself this as I peruse internet articles based on scholarly attention to the tales preserved by Irish monks.  Long geneologies are reeled off of the early Irish residents, some gods, some mortal.  Ireland was inhabited relatively late in human history - perhaps only as little as 9,000 years.  While modern Ireland exported her residents, the earliest inhabitants of Ireland were all 'blow ins' - that nickname given to incomers not indigenous to Ireland. In the earliest days, Ireland had no indigenous population other than the juniper and elk, bear and bilberry.  Recent DNA studies indicate that today's Irish population is closely related to Britons and Scots, with a strong injection to the gene pool from the Iberian peninsula.

So, too, the goddess Danu may not be properly a 'Celt', even as she is venerated as a Celtic deity. She may have originated on the Indian subcontinent and simply moved westward.  It is suggested that her name is echoed in the rivers Danube and Don (one in Russia, another in Yorkshire), but linguists and philogists might dispute any true connection with rivers or Tuatha dé Danaan to Danu at all.

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It takes Heart

Croi - pronounced kree - is the Irish for heart. At Brigid's Day I picked that word from a basket and tied it as a clootie to a hazel tree.  It was a well wishing tree.  A plea for renewal at Imbolc.

It has seemed over this past year that so many people have had had their hearts broken.  People are ill. The earth is sick. Women are systematically violated in perversely imaginative ways. Men are imprisoned by the mythic expectations of strength. 

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Weaving Brigid's Magic

Beannachtaí Féile Imbolg! Beannachtaí Féile Bríde. Blessings of Imbolc! Blessings of Brigid's Feast! At Imbolc we are at the crossroads of the winter, six weeks past winter solstice, six weeks until spring equinox. 

The first days of February have been clear, frosty, but the sun has such a seductive heat in Ireland even in February. They say that weather like this augurs more cold, as the Cailleach is yet to release a vice-like grip on the land.  If it had been overcast and mild then the springtime was come.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Congrats on the book, keep taking those deep breaths, LOL! Just finished leading a public Brid ritual, a few minutes ago. At one
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    I love that snow pile smile from Spirit/Brigid. One of the other things I did for Brigid yesterday was to visit some St. Brigid's
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Oh my goodness, yes, I see how that could be a visit from the Lady. Very special. Thank you for sharing that special moment with m

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Thresholds Crossed into 2015

The calendar New Year does not often feature in pagan festivities, yet it a liminal time; a threshold is crossed and thresholds, as we know, are thin places of transition, magic and manifestation. 

In Ireland, however, the whole period from Solstice/Yule through to Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas/Epiphany) has a pagan quality.  Unless you are actively associated with devout, practicing Christians, Ireland often feels to me the best place to celebrate the winter holidays.  You don't have to be celebrating with self-identified pagans or out of the broom closet witches either. It all seems to happen organically. Maybe Spirit is just pagan in the Irish air.

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  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    The Cailleach has been throwing down lightening and thunder snow here. And it all feels just as it ought to of be as we move towar
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Your remark about the lightening and thunder and Brigid's festival makes experiential gut sense to me. Major mojo!
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    A friend on artist retreat in Taos has commented on the weather synchronicities we have experienced over many time zones. It all f
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Have a wonderful new year! I look forward to seeing what it's going to be like for us.

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Samhain Season Slumbering

Sometimes I forget that Samhain is not the Halloween to All Souls celebrations that include my birthday. Samhain also can get swallowed up in the midwinter Yule/Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanza celebrations that grip the globe. This year of the Horse has galloped; often it has felt like a bucking bronco.  As we approach the end of 2014 I feel myself praying for solitude. Samhain is a season not just a hyper celebration of Celtic New Year. Which is what Halloween feels like in Ireland. We even have fireworks!

Samhain is the turning in time. Last year I spent a lot of time staring out the window. You could say I was busy doing nothing.  As I look at the calendar with all the commitments marked for November I declared a moratorium for December. I have a three week window with nothing and that is the way I intend to keep it.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely reminder, thank you.

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