Search This Blog

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bodach

The name bodach, like elf and goblin, is used for specific fairy beings and is also a generic term for a type of a fairy. Bodachs are found in Scottish folklore where they are usually seen as a type of frightening nighttime fairy that may lead people astray or attack people; in some localized folklore the Bodach is an individual being while in other lore it is a general type of being which can create some confusion. As with so many named fairies we see that there is fluidity in the understanding of who and what Bodachs are.



In Gaidhlig the word bodach has a variety of meanings many of which apply to human men, including an old man, an unmarried man, and a rustic but it can also mean a specter or boogeyman (Bauer & MacDhonnchaidh, 2017). Campbell says that the name means 'a carle or old man' but he also defines them as night specters who are 'no living wight' (Campbell, 1900).  From this we can perhaps gain a mental image of the Bodach, based on the other meanings of the word, but we can also most certainly conclude that it is an Otherworldly being that appears at night and is frightening. Bodachs are only ever referred to as male in folklore and the term for them is an exclusively male one as well.

Campbell describes a variety among Bodachs and lists them as both a type of Bòcan as well as a type of fairy being on their own. The Bòcan in Scotland are any type of terrifying night being which may include fairies and ghosts which frighten humans but don't necessarily cause any physical harm to them (Campbell, 1900). In some areas the term Bodach is used in the same general way that Bòcan is elsewhere, to mean any and all terrifying nighttime spirits while in others the Bodach is viewed as a distinct type of being (Campbell, 1900). When included as one type in the more generalized grouping the Bodach qualifies as one of the Bòcan because of its nighttime appearances and habit of frightening people it encounters, although Bodachs may or may not cause physical harm.

The Bodach was often used by parents to frighten children children into behaving and to keep them away from dangerous areas. Some Bodachs were described as haunting areas that would be particularly unsafe after dark, trying to lure a person into going where they shouldn't. Bodachs often appear to children, trying to lure them into the darkness or to scare them, sometimes harming them directly sometimes only frightening them. In some stories the Bodach would rush down the chimney and seize children who were misbehaving, taking them away (Briggs, 1976). They were also drawn to children who were being loud or crying after dark, as well as those who disobeyed their parents.

There is also a tradition of named Bodachs who have a distinct personality, locality and activity associated with them. One type of named Bodach, Bodach an Sméididh [Beckoning Old Man], would be seen standing near the corner of a house and beckoning with his hands for the viewer to follow him (Campbell, 1900). Another named bodach, MacGlumag na mais, oliath tarrang shìoda, burrach mòr [Son  of Platter Pool from grey spike, silken spike, great caterpillar] sometimes just called Son of Platter Pool, appears to children at windows, gnashing his teeth loudly and flattening his face against the glass; if the child cries out the Bodach takes them away (Campbell, 1900). Another named Bodach is the Bodach Glas [Dark Man] who appeared as a death omen for a certain Scottish clan; he would appear three times and the third time singled doom (Briggs, 1976). In that case the Bodach seems to play a role similar to the Bean Sí in Irish folklore, being connected to a specific family and acting to foretell death within that family line. There is also at least one named Bodach with a friendly nature: normally described as a type of Brownie the Bodachan Sabhaill [Little Old Man of the Barn] was a helpful fairy who would come at night and thresh the crops in the darkness for tired, old farmers (Briggs, 1976).

While they can look and act frightening Bodachs can only enter a home if they are called or invited in (Campbell, 1900). They also rarely attack a person unless the person first puts themselves in the Bodachs power, be it by choosing to follow the fairy, by acknowledging its presence at the window, or by breaking cultural rules around behavior. They are known to take children but otherwise their reputation is ambivalent and focuses more on frightening than harming. In some modern Scottish anecdotal fairylore Bodach is the consort or partner of the Cailleach and in a wider sense modern lore places this fairy in the Unseelie court.

Bodachs are a fascinating type of Scottish fairy, running the gamut in folklore from helpful to harmful, consider in some cases Brownies and most often seen as Bòcans. These little old fairy men appear in the night to frighten children into good behavior, inhabiting the same darkness as ghosts and apparitions, and the safest way to avoid them is to refuse to acknowledge them. In many ways the folklore around the Bodach seems to blend together more common fairylore with other influences and certainly here we see the classic form of the Bogeyman looming large over naughty children in the Bodach's stories.



References
Campbell J., (1900) The Gaelic Otherworld
Bauer, M., and MacDhonnchaidh, U., (2017) Am Faclair Beag
Briggs, K., (1976) A Dictionary of Fairies

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Cailleach

This article originally appeared in Air n-Aithesc, vol III, issue II, August 2016



The Cailleach

“Ebb-tide has come to me as to the sea;
old age makes me yellow;
though I may grieve thereat,
it approaches its food joyfully….
I am Buí, the Cailleach of Beare;
I used to wear a smock that was ever-renewed…”
-          The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare

The Cailleach, or Caillech in Old Irish, is a complex deity who seems to have roots in Neolithic Ireland. Cailleach is from a word that means ‘veiled woman’ or ‘elderly woman’ but in later usage was a pejorative generally used to mean hag or witch. In Ireland she is called the Cailleach Beara or Beare for the Beara peninsula which is her main habitation, although in folklore she is also sometimes given the epithet of Béarrach; the Old Irish word berach means sharp or horned. The Cailleach Beara’s true name is said to be Buí, a word that may mean ‘yellow’1. Alternately it may originally have been Boí, a word related to the one for cow (bó) and it’s possible that she was at one time a cow goddess who represented the land and its sovereignty on the Beara peninsula2. This idea is somewhat supported by her legendary possession of a powerful bull, the Tarbh Conraidh, who had only to bellow to get a cow with calf. Certainly she is strongly associated with Beara and because of the irregular orthography of Old Irish either version of her name is possible, although Buí is better attested, appearing in the well-known poem ‘The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare’. MacKillop suggests that she may also previously have been known as Dígde, a sovereignty goddess of Munster, and Duineach whose name he gives as meaning ‘[having] many followers’, both of which were subsumed into the single identity of the Cailleach Beara at some point3.

Several different goddesses are called ‘Cailleach’ in Irish myth including the Cailleach Beara of Cork and Cailleach Gearagáin of county Cavan4. The most well-known however is the Cailleach Beara, who is strongly associated with south west Ireland. She is considered a sovereignty figure, the archetypal crone who appears offering the throne to a potential king in exchange for intimacy; those who reject her in this guise will never rule but those who embrace her as an old woman will find her transformed into a beautiful young woman and will themselves become king. She is also credited with creating many of the standing stones and geographic features in various areas, who folklore claims are people or animals that she transformed; her bull the Tarbh Conraidh for example was turned into a stone in a river by her when he tried to swim across it to reach a herd of cows on the other side. In other parts of Ireland including Connacht, Leinster, and Ulster the Cailleach Beara is seen as the spirit of the harvest who inhabits the grain and flees from the scythes in the form of a hare5. In many areas harvest traditions included the practice of leaving the final sheaf standing in the field and naming it the Cailleach, or of dressing the final sheaf as an image of the goddess.
The Cailleach as Buí is said to be one of the four wives of Lugh, although other sources say that she had seven husbands; she is also said to have had 50 foster children6.  The Cailleach is generally described as an old woman but she also can appear young, and is considered the progenitor of some family lines including the Corca Duibhne7. A tenth century poem says that she was the lover of the warrior Fothadh Canainne. Folklore claims that she has two sisters, also named Cailleach of their respective areas, who live in Dingle and Iveragh8.

It is said that the Sliab na gCailligh in county Meath were created when the Cailleach flew over the area and accidently dropped the stones9. She is strongly associated with several areas in Ireland including the Beara peninsula in Munster and Slieve Daeane in Connacht10. Although she is found in Scotland as well she is not considered a pan-Celtic deity and so there is speculation that she represents a likely pre-Celtic divinity that was absorbed into Celtic culture at a later point11.

The Cailleach in Scotland has a different although related character, associated more tentatively with the harvest but also with the winter and storms. Called the Cailleach Bheur [beur meaning sharp or cutting in Gaidhlig] she was associated with the bitter winter wind and snowstorms as well as with creating geographic features which bear her name12. In the 1917 book “Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend” we learn that the goddess Bride (Irish Brighid) ruled over the summer half of the year, from Beltane to Samhain, and the other half of the year was ruled by the Cailleach. There are a variety of stories about how the year changed rulers which either feature the two goddesses contending against each other or describe them as aspects of one being. In one version Angus is the Cailleach’s son who falls in love with Bride, so the Cailleach imprisons her which causes winter to come to the land; only when Angus finally succeeds in freeing her on Imbolc does winter begin to relent13. In other versions of the story the Cailleach must drink from a magical spring, either on Imbolc at which point she transforms into Bride, or at Beltane at which point Bride is freed14.

In the Cailleach we see a complex and ancient deity, perhaps rooted in pre-Celtic belief but certainly once a powerful sovereignty goddess. It was she who created several features of the landscape of Ireland and Scotland making her cosmogenically significantly, and she who controls the storms of winter in Scotland. The Cailleach may appear old or young, and may give sovereignty to kings, even divine kings if we see her as Lugh’s wife and the source of his legitimacy as king of the Tuatha De Danann.  Although she is often considered a more obscure deity today, and her place among the Tuatha De Danann is somewhat uncertain, she seems to have been very significant historically and certainly maintains a powerful place in folklore today.


1Murphy, 1956
2O hOgain, 2006
3MacKillop, 1998
4Smyth, 1988
5O hOgain, 2006
6MacKillop, 1998
7Smyth, 1988
8O hOgain, 2006
9Smyth, 1988
10MacKillop, 1998
11Monaghan, 2004
12ibid
13McIntyre, 2015
14 McNeill; 1959; McIntyre, 2015

References

MacKillop, J., (1998) A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology
McIntyre, M., (2015). “The Cailleach Bheara: a Study of Scottish Highland Folklore in Literature and Film”. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/6088609/The_Cailleach_Bheara_A_Study_of_Scottish_Highland_Folklore_in_Literature_and_Film
McNeill, F., (1959). The Silver Bough, volume 2

Monaghan, P., (2004) Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore

Saturday, November 11, 2017

That Time I Unseelied a Tree, and Why You Should Too

So first a story.
I have a fairy tree in my yard and I had the idea at one point to start tying ribbons on it, in the spirit of the rag tree tradition. Now usually a rag tree is by a healing well and the ribbons or bits of cloth tied on it represent prayers for healing of either the person or someone they are praying for. I knew this but still felt drawn to put ribbons on my own tree, and I don't deny I did it badly, because I simply used store bought ribbon. I can say here that my intentions were good, but I've never been a big believer that intentions mitigate harm caused. After a time the tree had quite a lot of ribbons on it, and after a time I started feeling strongly that I needed to take them off - I was even dreaming about it. But I really, really didn't want to remove them. It seemed counterintuitive and sacrilegious to do so, to remove what had been place with prayer and its own little ritual. Yet in the end it became a compulsion, and one day as I walked past the tree on my way to my car I found myself stopping, unable to go on until I removed the ribbons. I went back into the house, found a pair of scissors, and spent enough time that I was late to work taking all the ribbons off. Afterwards I felt a blend of relief and horror at having, effectively, 'unseelied' (unblessed) my tree.

Here's the thing though, as upsetting as it was for me to take those prayer ribbons off that tree, and as much as I felt like I was doing something wrong - was in effect unblessing the tree - what I did was important and necessary. The ribbons I'd put on were synthetic fibers; they were not rotting away with time but instead were strangling the branches they were tied on. In several places when I managed to get the ribbon off there was a clear indent in the branch where the ribbon had started to grow into the tree, and it was obvious to me the harm my actions had caused. I had made a critical mistake in not using natural material and in not tying it loosely so that it would either fall apart naturally or be pulled off by the wind. My well meaning actions would have killed my tree eventually, and removing the ribbons, as much as it pained me to do it, saved it.

That said, there are two main points I want to make here, first about participating in rag tree practices and secondly about removing things already tied to trees at sacred sites. 

Many people today either want to emulate the rag tree practices or look at participating in it while visiting Ireland (or other countries that have the practice) and I am urging everyone to please seriously consider what you are tying to these trees. Recently there have been some good discussion of the importance of proper rag tree practices online both by the Tara Skryne Preservation Group and other travel pages. If you want to tie a rag on a sacred tree you need to be aware firstly that rag trees are very specific trees, usually by a holy well as I've mentioned, and that you can't and shouldn't tie just anything onto the tree. Every tree you run across is not appropriate to tie things to, and just because it's at a sacred site doesn't make it a tree to tie prayers to. Also if you are going to tie things to a tree please use natural, degradable materials. And please don't push coins in o the bark, that will poison the tree. 

When you visit sacred sites and holy wells you will see many strange things tied to rag trees. Some people believe it best to leave what is already tied there alone; others advocate for removing what is and will harm the tree. This is a complicated subject because there are issues with people removing all rags from rag trees, and even cutting the trees down, in protest against the practice itself and I am by no means advocating that. However as an animist and pagan I do think we have an obligation to put the health of the tree before the symbolism of the plastic and synthetic material that is tied to it and slowly killing it. Natural material is fine and should be encouraged, but what amounts to rubbish if left there will only kill the tree that people claim to find sacred.

The reason I began this with my story was to make a point. I was deeply reluctant to take those ribbons down, even though they were my ribbons and I was being told repeatedly to remove them. There was a discussion on a sacred sites travel group I belong to recently about whether it's ethical to remove other people's ribbons from sacred trees, and in my opinion you should, even though I understand the reluctance to remove other people's prayers. Understand it on a deeply personal level. There is an almost atavistic aversion - in my experience - among spiritual people against interfering with other people's spiritual devotions. Yet ultimately we need to look beyond the intention of what have been tied on the trees and to the spirit of the trees and land itself. If we are seeking to respect those spirits, seeking to truly be blessed by these holy places, then we must act in ways that are aligned with that concept. Doing things that kill the sacred trees, ultimately are unblessed - unseely - actions. Removing plastic, non-biodegradable, metal items, no matter what sacred intent was behind their placement is ultimately a blessed, or seely, act because it saves the life of the tree. I titled this post 'the time I unseelied a tree' because that was how it felt, and it was a terrible conflicted feeling. But sometimes we must do what feels wrong in order to ultimately do that which is right.

Removing those ribbons felt like unseelie'ing the tree but in the end it resulted in an increased blessing, and much happier spirits. And I don't regret doing it at all.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fairy Trees

 Fairies and trees have had a long connection in mythology and folklore. Today I'd like to take a brief look at a selection of trees and the main fairylore associated with them.



I would note that this folklore can be convoluted as the trees themselves were often reputed to have spirits, much like we might understand dryads in a modern context, but beyond this tree-spirit could also be home to or associated with other fairies. These other fairies may live in or near the particular tree but were not bound to it in the way a tree-spirit would be. If the tree were killed the tree spirit would suffer a similar fate, while the associated fairies would simply move on to another place. there are also many trees that are associated with fairies as either a protection against them or as a tree they prefer to be around.

Birch- In Scotland its particularly associated with the Ghillie Dhu who was said to lurk in birch groves (Briggs, 1976). The Ghillie Dhu is a solitary fairy who is gentle and helpful but whose appearance often frightens people. In Ireland however fairies are thought to dislike birch, which is used to drive out spirits, and avoid this tree (MacCoitir, 2003).
Oak- Oaks have a strong association with spirits and fairies. Most notably there is a kind of fairy called 'oakmen' who live in areas where oaks have been cut and are re-growing; they appear as short, solid looking beings wearing red hats who may dangerous to those who trespass in their woods (Briggs, 1976). There is also the well known rhyme of 'fairy folk are in old oaks'. Not all oak fairies are dangerous as one entry in the Dindshenchas discusses learning lore from fairy folk in an oak wood (MacCoitir, 2003).
Rowan- Rowan berries by some accounts are the food of the Tuatha De Danann and by extension some people see them as the food of the fairies in general. Rowan is seen as both a protection against magic and also a conduit for magic, appearing in folklore as a charm against fairy magic and witchcraft but also in stories we see rowan wands used to cast enchantments.
Elm- A communal tree it was believed if one elm was cut down the others would die from grief (Briggs, 1976). The spirits of the trees were so tightly bonded that the death of one would doom them all.
Hawthorn- Strongly associated with the Good People it is believed that its unlucky to bring hawthorn into a home. A lone hawthorn growing in a field is often considered a fairy tree and it is dangerous to bring harm to such a tree because to do so will invite the wrath of Themselves. It's an old custom to leave gifts for the Other Crowd at the base of a lone hawthorn (MacCoitir, 2003).
Blackthorn- Guarded by fairies called Lunantishee who punish anyone who tries to cut blackthorns on Samhain or Bealtaine, going by the old dates which would be Nov 11 or May 11 (Briggs, 1976). MacCoitir suggests that Lunantishee may be an Anglicization of Leannán Sí, connecting the Blackthorn to the concept of fairy lovers. Whether that is true or not the Blackthorn generally had a grim reputation, seen as a dangerous tree that should not be messed with, although like so many others it also had protective qualities.
Ash- Mentioned as a protection against fairies in folklore the Ash was used to reverse or treat maladies caused by fairies (MacCoitir, 2003). These beliefs accorded the tree extra respect, so that it was not burned, some lore relating that any who burned the ash would lose their home to fire (Briggs, 1976). Some stories also mention a person's soul being trapped in an ash or otherwise placed in it.
Willow- It was said that willows walked at night and would follow people travelling alone, and their reputation was overall malevolent (Briggs, 1976). This may connect the Willow more general with water fairies who had a reputation for being dangerous and mercurial like the water itself. Lady Wilde suggests that willows speak in music.
Elder - In England and Scotland the Elder is a protection against witchcraft and evil beings; said to be home to fairies of good intent (Briggs, 1976). In Scotland the sap of the Elder was believed to grant the ability to see the Fairy Rade on Samhain, if the person then stood beneath an Elder (MacCoitir, 2003). In alternate folklore elders are said to be shapechanged witches. Elders are another tree that it is generally believed should never be burned or ill luck will follow the person. In Ireland the Elder has a darker reputation, being associated with both ghosts and seen as a wood that invites fairy mischief; in Ireland and the Isle of Man its believed that fairies ride on Elder twigs and branches (MacCoitir, 2003).

This is only a small selection of trees and some related fairylore; it is by no means exhaustive. I hope though that it illustrates some of the beliefs we can find associated with different common trees, and the way that fairy beliefs intersect with our everyday lives. Trees are all around us, even when we live in the city they can be found, and where there are trees there is folklore and fairylore.


References
Briggs, K., (1976) A Dictionary of Fairies
Wilde (1888) Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland
MacCoitir, N., (2003) Irish Trees

Thursday, November 2, 2017

In Service: Ireland a Year Later

 This Samhain has been an interesting and intense one for me on several levels. It has been busy in purely mundane ways and it has been just as busy in spiritual ways. But more than anything I find myself reflecting whenever my mind isn't set on anything else on being in Ireland this time last year, on my experiences there and the initiation I underwent that I had not expected. I hear the water of Ogulla well, feel it cold on my skin, feel the sandy bottom of the well under my feet. I remember the feel of the mud of Uaimh na gCat under my hands and on my face, the sounds of the cave wrapping around me. When I close my eyes I see in the distance the smoke from the fires on Teamhair rising up in the darkness of a moonless Samhain night, the fires of Tlachtga at my back. Water, and earth, and fire, they all still seem immediate and present.

Uaimh na gCat
So much of life is what we plan it to be, especially spiritually. We have goals, we set intentions, we move forward towards a destination, whatever we perceive that to be. Things may not always work out the way we plan or go as we intend but more often than not we do have clear intentions. Or maybe that's wishful thinking on my part. Certainly my own spiritual life as much as it has wandered and sometimes faltered had always felt like it was in my control. And then Ireland.

Nothing that happened in Ireland was what I had anticipated or expected.

And here I am a year later and I feel like I am the same person I have always been and I am also irrevocably different. I don't know how to feel about that even now. I'm not sure that I know how to put that into words, even now, and that's a truly strange feeling for me who uses words as a tool of expression every day. But how do you explain the way a series of small events, small choices, each built on the other can lead a person inevitably to something that is both entirely predictable and entirely unexpected?

the path to Tlachtga, Samhain night, 2017
So many things in my life up to that point led me there, and yet I never saw that end result coming. I had grown comfortable, complacent, with the way things were, and maybe even a little bit arrogant. Funny how quickly that is washed away when circumstances change and you are moved from feeling like you have some status in the human community to a position where you feel like you have very minimal status in a spiritual context. As I told Lora O'Brien during a recent interview* I feel like prior to that point I served the human community but since that time I have served Themselves, and my connection to them is very much one of service. That shift alone is enormous, and I still don't know for certain where it is taking me. I'm not sure it matters on a personal level. That's one lesson I've learned in the last 12 months, not to be concerned so much about myself and my own ego but to focus on what I am supposed to be doing here for Them, at least as best I can.

For all of that if I had known what I was moving towards, what was going to happen, I would not do anything differently. I would still take that first step forward into initiation and I would still accept the role of priestess of the Daoine Maithe. Like the pull of gravity there was such an inevitability to it all that I don't think I could have chosen differently unless I went all the way back to my childhood and made myself a different person from then, and if it meant losing myself entirely what would be the point? Maybe that's inevitable with them as well, for they are known to consume people one way or another, but to quote Bukowski (probably anyway) "For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it's much better to be killed by a lover."

I chose to accept each step of the way when I could have refused or turned aside, and that has since meant a complete restructuring of things, and at the same time not. I have parted ways from Odin, and am no longer his priestess. I am still connected to Macha but it is not the same. I have been forced to look deeply into what it means to be a priestess when the role I am fulfilling is one of service to the Othercrowd not the human community. And yet at the same time so much has remained the same, changed only in its intensity.

There was a cost, of course, because there's always a cost and because it involves the Daoine Maithe that cost is layered and complicated and still playing out. There have been blessings as well, and I try to remind myself of those as often as possible.

Rathcroghan
Life goes on apace and I am standing now a year out from that pivotal dark moon. This year there was a nearly full moon shining down on me as I went out to make my offerings and celebrate the holiday. That seemed very meaningful, but in my mind the memories linger of the darkness and fires and smell of woodsmoke on the air.


*you can listen to the recorded version by joining Lora's mailing list here http://loraobrien.net/community/

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Dearg Due

 With Samhain approaching I decided to write about the Dearg Due, the closest to a classic vampire that can be found in Irish folklore. Almost immediately though I ran into a slight problem, in that I can't find any references to this being in actual books on folklore. The only sources in which I could find the Dearg Due mentioned were more modern works and mostly ones that focused on vampires specifically. This has left me a bit skeptical of the Dearg Due's true origins, but nonetheless I'll relate the story here. It is the time of year for ghost stories after all.

First a bit about the name. Many sources will explain this name as meaning 'red blood sucker' but I think this unlikely. Dearg does indeed mean red, but Due is a more difficult word to interpret. In Old Irish the name may mean 'red owing' or 'red place', but I think it's more likely the name comes from modern Irish 'Dearg Dú'* which could be read as 'red evil' or 'red darkness'. As far as I can tell the words blood and sucker aren't involved.

So, the story then. As it goes around the internet and in the vampire books: Long ago in Ireland there lived a beautiful maiden, the daughter of a rich and greedy father. Many men came from across the land to try to win her hand in marriage but the girl had fallen in love with a local peasant and refused all others. Her father wouldn't allow this and forced her into a loveless marriage with an older man who was terribly cruel to her. Eventually, when she realized her true love wasn't going to rescue her, the girl killed herself. Before dying the girl renounced all that was good in the world, cursed God and those who had made her suffer in life, and swore she would get her revenge. And so it was that after she was buried she rose again from her grave as the Dearg Due; some say that she hunts and kills those who are guilty of hurting others, while others say she seeks out the innocent, especially children and young men to be her victims.

Like traditional Western European vampires the Dearg Due is a human being who died and was buried, and rose from the dead to torment the living. Like those other vampires she roams the night seeking to steal the life force from the living. Unlike other vampires the Dearg Due is not a type of being but a specific individual, and it is said her grave still exists in county Waterford. She only rises from her grave once a year on the anniversary of her death and she can be held in check if stones are kept piled on her grave.

It's hard to pin down how old these stories are or whether they are truly rooted in older mythology or represent a blending of newer thoughts. Certainly they lack the overt fairy folklore we see in the stories of beings like the Baobhan Sithe of Scotland which are also vampiric in nature, or even the more bloodsucking types of Leannán Sidhe found across Celtic speaking countries. But the stories of the Dearg Due are interesting and at the least represent an evolution in folklore as different cultural influences came into play.

*dú in this case is a form of dubh, literally meaning black

Further Reading:
http://gotireland.com/2012/10/11/irish-faerie-folk-of-yore-and-yesterday-the-dearg-due/
https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Dearg-due-the-legend-of-the-Irish-vampire
http://www.oneillclans.com/history/oneill-myths-and-legends/97-irish-vampire-myths-relating-to-the-oneill-clan.html

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Athirne Ailgessach ocus Mider Bri Leith

Athirne Áilgessach & Mider Brí Léith

 Athirne Ailgessach mac Ferchertne. is e is doichlechu ro boi i nHerind. Dochoid co Mider Brí Léith co tuc corra diultada & doichle úad fora thech .i. ar dibe & ar dochill. Arna taidled fer do feraib Herend a thechsom do aigidecht l^ foigde. Na tair. na tair ar in chetchorr. Eirgg ass ol a setig. Sech thech sech thech ar in tres chorr. Cachfer do feraib Herend ataciched ni gebed fria chomlund a llaasin. Nocho doid a. saith riam bale i nfacced duine. Luidseom dano & mucc urgnaide leis & paitt meda co n-essad a saith a oinur. & ro chertaigestar ara belaib in muicc & in paitt meda. Co n-acca in fer chuice. Dogenta th'oínur ar se la tadall na mmuicce & na paitte uad. Cia th'ainmseo ar Athirni. Nocon erdairc ón ar se .i. Sethor. Ethor. Othor. Sele. Dele. Dreng Gerce. Mec Gerce. Ger Gér. Dír Dír iss ed mo ainmse. Ni thanic in mucc. & forfemmid inn air do chuibdigud. Dóig combad ó Dia thísta do breith na mmucce. ar nírbo anfélisium ond uairsin.
 - Book of Leinster 

Athirne Ailgessach son of Ferchertne, he was most inhospitable in all of Ireland. He went to Mider of Brí Léith co tuc cranes* of pettiness and inhospitality from him for his house that is stinginess and grudgingness. No man of Ireland visits a his house looking for hospitality. 
"Do not come. Do not come" said the first crane. 
"Go out!" said his companion. 
"Beyond the house, beyond the house" said the third crane. 
Every man of Ireland who saw them would not succeed in battle that day. 
He did not eat where there were people. He went once and a prepared pig with him and a skin of mead to eat his fill alone. And he settled his mouth on the pig and the skin of mead. He saw a man coming towards him. He wanted to be alone when he was touching the pig and the skin. 
"What name is on you?" said Athirni. 
"Nothing famous is on me" he said "that is Sethor Ethor Othor Sele Dele Dreng Gerce Mec Gerce Ger Gér Dír Dír is my name."
 He [Athirni] didn't take [back] the pig. And he was unable to compose a satire. It is likely someone of God had come to carry away the pig. He was not ungenerous from that hour.

*Cor is a word for a bird that can be a heron, crane or occasionally stork.