Oweynagat Cave of the Cats

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats
– Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace. Rathcrohan / Rosscommon, Ireland
GPS: 53.79677, -8.31038
Article/Research by Thomas Baurley/Leaf McGowan/Technogypsie Productions, 10 October 2017

One of my most favorite sites in Ireland is the “Cave of the Cats” underneath the realm of “Rathcrohan“. It is officially called “Oweynagat” and pronounced “Owen-ne-gatt”.
The Cave is also labelled “Uaimh na gCat”, Irish translating to “Cave of the Cats”. When I first visited this site we had a tremendously hard time finding it. We found where it was supposed to be, but it lay behind fencing on a farmer’s field. We knocked on the farmer’s door, and there was no answer. A neighbor saw us, asked what we were doing and who we were, and he showed us the entrance, giving us permission to enter. It was a small hole under some Fairy thorn trees. The Site is actually a natural narrow limestone cave that hosts a man-made souterrain at its entrance. This is seen by all as the official entrance to the Otherworld and home to the Morrigan or Medh. In the Medieval Period of Ireland, it was labeled “Ireland’s Gate to Hell”. It is a particular sacred site for the Pagan holiday and festival of “Samhain” or Halloween.

It is said that during the Feast of Samhain, the dead, their God/desses, and Spirits, would rise from their graves and walk the Earth. This cave is one of the main places where Spirits and the dead associated with the Fae and/or the Morrigan, would re-surface including creatures, monsters, and the un-dead. There exists an Irish legend based off the “Adventures of Nera” where a warrior is challenged to tie a twig around the ankle of a condemned man on Samhain eve, after agreeing to get him some water would discover strange houses and wouldn’t find water until the third house. Upon returning him back to captivity would witness Rathcroghan’s royal buildings destroyed by the spirits. After this he must follow the fairy host to the Sidhe where he meets a woman who tells him the vision he saw will happen a year from now unless his mortal comrades are warned. He leaves the Sidhe and informs Ailill of his vision who destroys the Sidhe in response.

Some believe the “síd” or the Sidhe of this tale is either the Mound of Rathcroghan or Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. It makes the most sense that the Cave of the Cats is where the destructive creatures and fae emerged. There was a triple-headed monster called the Ellen Trechen that went on a rampage across the country before being killed by Amergin, father of Conal Cernach. There have been tales of small red birds emerging from the cave withering every plant they breathed on before being hunted to their death by the Red Branch. There is also legends of herds of pigs with similar powers of decay emerging from the cave until hunted and killed by Ailill and Medb.

The name itself, “Oweynagat” is believed to refer to the Magical wild cats featured in the tale of “Bricriu’s Feast” that emerge from this cave to attack the three Ulster warriors before being tamed by Cúchulainn. Some also claim that the cave was named after Irusan, the King of the Cats, who is featured in Irish fairy tales and hailed from a cave near Clonmacnoise (her home). Another tale from the 18th century CE tells of a woman trying to catch a runaway cow that fell into this cave (nevermind the entrance being too small) and followed it into this cave. It is said the cow and woman emerged miles away in County Sligo, near Keshcorran. There is also a legend of a woman that was told to have killed a monster cat in this cave, turning the woman into a great warrior, and this is why its called “Oweynagat”, Cave of the Cats.

The Birthplace of Medb

It is also believed that this cave is the actual physical birthplace for Queen Medb. The legend states that the Fairy Queen/Goddess Étain who was fleeing her human husband with her fairy lover Midir came here. Midir wanted to visit a relative named Sinech (the large breasted one) who lived in the cave. Within the cave was said to be a great otherworldly palace where a maid servant named Crochan Crogderg (“Blood Red Cup”) lived, and she had granted Midir and Etain entrance. It was here that Crochan was believed to have given birth to a daughter named “Medb“.

The Entrance

Nestled under a fairy tree in a farmer’s field (private property) is a small opening that really only looks large enough for a house cat to fit through. But if a human gets down on their hands and knees, can shimmy into this small hole, they will be presented with a small chamber that connects to a passageway that continually increases to a massive tunnel wider and higher than one could fathom. At the inner lintel of this entrance is an Ogham inscription that bears the words “VRAICCI…MAQI MEDVVI” translating to “FRAECH” and “SON OF MEDB”. Some also translate this to mean “The Pillar of Fraech son of Madb”. This is also seen as the birthplace of Medb. A second ogham inscription, barely visible, reads “QR G SMU” but has not been translated. This beginning chamber is actually a man-made souterrain at the entrance to a natural narrow limestone cave. The souterrain was originally contained within an earthen mound that was later damaged by a road construction project in the 1930’s. The souterrain is made of drystone walling, orthostats, lintels, and stones that measure approximately 10.5 meters from the entrance to the natural cave’s opening.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – entrance chamber

The Tunnel

After crawling on one’s hands and feet, the passage increases in width and height, eventually one can stand up, and eventually the tunnel becomes wide and tall enough that a small Giant could move through it. This is the passage of the Fae, and leads to the Morrigan’s Lair. As one continues down, they’ll find a caved in shamble that is behind a muddy pool of water. If one successfully climbs up and over it, the passage continues to another area that is caved in. Apparently workers on the surface planted a utility pole that collapsed this section of the tunnel. Beyond this is believed to be the Entrance to the Otherworld, and the Morrigan’s Lair. This is actually a natural limestone cave that has been mapped approximately 37 meters deep.

The Morrigan

The Queen of the Dark Fae, the Goddess of the Underworld, of Darkness, and Battle, rules the world of the Fae from this place. It is believed that every Samhain, she is pulled on a chariot out of the Cave of the Cats by a one-legged chestnut horse alongside various creatures such as those mentioned above. Some also say on occasion she leaves the cave with a cow, guided by a giant with a forked staff, to give to the Bull of Cúailgne. She is also known to take the bull of a woman named Odras who follows her into the cave before falling under an enchanted sleep upon awakening to see the Morrigan who repeatedly whispers a spell over her, turning her into a river, the same river that feeds the muddy pool at the shamble. Apparently the cave is seen as a portal through which the Morrigan would pass in order to work with Medb as Goddess of Battle. She drove her otherworldly cattle into the cave every sunset. The Morrigan was blamed to have stolen a herd of cattle who belonged to a woman named Odras, and upon following to Morrigan to retrieve them, was turned into a lake by the Goddess. As is the story of Nera, a servant of Medb who met a Fairy woman here in this cave. He married her, and she warned him of Medb’s palace being burnt to the ground next Samhain by the creatures of the otherworld. Upon hearing this, Medb stationed her forces in the cave each Samhain to protect Cruachan from destruction.

Rathcrohan is the legendary burial grounds of the Kings of Coannaught. The region covers approximately 518 hectares hosting more than 20 ring forts, burial mounds, megalithic tombs such as the Relig na Ri (burial ground of the Kings), Rath na dTarbh (For the Bulls), and the Rathbeg. The archaeological site is massive, with earthworks spread over the region with the Grave of King Dathi (Last Pagan King of Ireland) as a 2 meter high standing stone being one of the few physical landmarks left that can be seen. This is also the site of the mythical battle of the “Tain Bo Cuailgne” that remains in the hearts, minds, and folklore of the people of Tulsk and Rathcroghan recorded in the Ancient Irish Epic of the Tain Bo Cuiailgne, the “Cattle Raid of Cooley”. The Tain Bo tells the story of Queen Maeve of Connaught and her armies that pursued the Grat Brown Bull of Cooley, the mighty warrior Cuchulain who does battle with the armies here, and his foster brother Erdia as he defends the Brown Bull, and the province of Ulster. There is a “Tain Trail Cycling and Touring Route” that re-traces the journey that Queen Maeve and her armies traveled from her Royal Palace at Rathcroghan across Ireland to the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, the home of the Brown Bull. Rathcrohan hosts over 60 National Monuments here.

Bibliography/References:

  • Druid School: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats. Website referenced January 2012.
  • Fenwick, J. et al 1977 “Oweynagat”. Irish Speleology 16, 11-14.
  • Hannon, Ed 2012 “Visions of the Past: Oweynagat Cave”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://visionsofthepastblog.com/2012/10/01/oweynagat-cave-souterrain-co-roscommon/.
  • Mulranney, R. n.d “Caves of Ireland: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://cavesofireland.wordpress.com/home/caves/oweynagat-cave-of-the-cats-co-roscommon/.
  • Waddell, J. 1983 “Rathcroghan – A Royal Site”. Journal of Irish Archaeology 1.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Rathcroghan”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rathcroghan.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – Passage downward.

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Manito, the Great Spirit

Photos and Tales to come – coming soon ….

Story of the Bridge of the Gods: Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

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Multnomah the Warrior (Mount Rainier)

Photos and Tales to come – coming soon ….

Story of the Bridge of the Gods: Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

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Loo-Wit, Mount Saint Helens

Photos and Tales to come – coming soon ….

Story of the Bridge of the Gods: Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

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Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams)

Photos and Tales to come – coming soon ….

Story of the Bridge of the Gods: Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

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Wyeast the Singer (Mount Hood)

Photos and Tales to come – coming soon ….

Story of the Bridge of the Gods: Geologically this is one of the shortest crossing areas between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River. It is believed that a thousand years ago there was a massive landslide from the north shore of the Columbia River that slid into the river and blocked the Gorge. It created a natural dam and inland sea that extended between Oregon, Washington, and into Idaho. As river pressures began carving out natural bridges and tunnels under this landslide to outlet into the Pacific, eventually the blockage dam was washed away. Some say it originally carved a large natural stone bridge that the Native Americans believed was created by the Gods. Legend has it this land bridge eventually collapsed back into the Columbia River, destroying the inland sea, and creating the Cascade rapids.

Native America legends tell a tale that the Great Spirit Manito created this bridge so his peoples of the Columbia River could cross the river from bank to bank, and it was so called the “Giant Crossover”. This Great Spirit assigned the Wise woman Guardian Loo-Wit to watch over it and protect the river, bridge, and peoples of the area. Out of fear and respect for the Great Spirit, the tribes would appeal for protection while crossing the river. It was eventually called the “Bridge of the Gods” translated and nicknamed as such from the white westerners who came through the area. Manito had sent his sons to earth – the three great mountains: Multnomah the Warrior (Mt. Rainier), Klickitat the totem maker (Mt. Adams), and Wyeast, the singer (Mt. Hood) who all presided over the river and the bridge peacefulling for many years until the beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into the valley between Klickitat and Wyeast. She fell in love with Wyeast while still flirting with Klickitat, causing rivalry and jealousy between the two causing the mountains to fight over her. Their arguing, growling, trembling, and feuds caused lava, ash, and earthquakes to form in their path – and each other hurling white hot rocks at each other. This destroyed the forests, environment, and beauty of the valley – and broke the bridge causing it to fall into the river never to be seen again. Manito was so upset by this, he formed huge rapids in the Columbia River to separate the feuding brothers. Klickitat won Squaw Mountain’s heart and Wyeast admitted defeat, much to the dismay of Squaw who loved him so, and although at the side of Klickitatt with a heavy broken heart, became depressed and fell into a deep permanent sleep and sits today as “Sleeping Beauty” lying just west of Mt. Adams. Klickitat under such shock from Squaw’s depression, once with a high straight head like Wyeast, fell with grief that he dropped his head in shame and never raised it again. Loo-Wit got caught up in the cross-fire during this battle, and fell with the bridge. the Great Spirit rewarded her with a wish, and she asked to be made young and beautiful again – but being old, she did not require companionship so chose a lonely location. She became the most beautiful of all mountains and made her home far west as the beautiful and powerful Mount Saint Helens.

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Morrigan

091112-144

The Morrigan

by Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions, on December 28, 2013. © 2013: All Rights Reserved – www.technogypsie.com

Also known as The Phantom Queen (“Morrigan”), The Great Queen (“Morrigan”), “Morrigu”, “Morrigna”, “Morrighan”, “Mir-rioghain” (modern Irish), “Morrighan”, “Morgan”, “Mir Rigan”, “Morrigu”, “The Dark Fae Queen”

Goddess of Life, Death, Battle, strife, and sovereignty

Ancestry: Father was Aed Ernmas, Her mother was Ernmas and she has two sisters known as badb and Macha. Her sons were “Glon”, “Gaim”, and “Coscar”.

Corresponding Deity: “Nemon” (Venom), “Macha” (Battle and the Mother), “Fea” (Hate), “Badbh” (Fury); Anu; and “Anand”.

Associations: War, Life, Death, Dark Fae, Dark Elves, Ravens, Crows, the Earth, Mugwort, Yew Trees, Willow Trees, Quartz Crystals; strife, and sovereignty

Forms/Shape shifting: Hag, The Carrion Crow, eel, wolf, heifer, old crone,

Sacred Sites: Plain of Muirthemne (Dundalk, County Louth); Cave of the Cats (Roscommon, county Roscommon); River Unshin (Corann); “The Paps” hills in the North or The Di Chich na Morrigna (pair of hills) (‘two breasts of the Morrigan’) in County Meath; The Cooking Pit of the Morrigan (Fulacht na Mor Rioghna) burnt mound site in County Tipperary; and others.

050712-263
Cave of the Cats, Rathcroghan, Ireland

Description: – The Morrigan, the Triple Goddess, known in modern film fantasy (such as “Lost Girl”) as the Queen of the Dark Fae goes far back to the origins of Irish mythology. She is depicted as a Faerie Queen as well as a Goddess. She was the Goddess of Death, Battle, Life, strife, War, and sovereignty. She resided in the Northern realms which were associated with that of the Earth, justice, and the Ancestral Dead. As a Triple Goddess she was also the Crone aspect of the Earth Goddess. The other aspects were “Macha” as the “Mother” and “Anu” as the “Maiden”. She was known to many as the Goddess of War, Life, and Death. She could take life as quickly as she could give life. She was often seen teamed up with the Furies : The Goddesses of War as “Fea”, “Nemon”, “Badbh” (as her three aspects) and “Macha”, “the Mother” who was also the “battle fury”. Indo-European translations suggest that the term “Morrigan” roots as meaning “terror” or “monstrousness” relating to the Old English “maere” meaning “nightmare”, Scandinavian “mara” or Old-Russian “mara” also meaning “nightmare” and “rogan” meaning “queen”. She was known as the “Great Queen”, “Phantom Queen”, and/or “Queen of Demons”. She was notorious for appearing before great warriors when their life was in danger offering them an alternative and assistance in exchange for a commitment, item, or duty. She was known to have appeared before Cuchulainn in a variety of forms. His father, the Dagda, was recorded to have made love to her during creation myths. Cuchulainn was said to have described her as a beautiful woman with streaming long hair, red eyebrows, and wearing a long red cloak and armed with a gray spear riding in a chariot. While he was in battle, she challenged him as an eel, wolf, old crone, and heifer. Other theorists claim the cult of the Morrigan can be tied into many of the other megalithic Goddess cults such as to Matrones, Idises, Dosir that appeared as triple Goddesses as well. Many of these inter-related to fate, death, and birth. Others say the Morrigan is more similar to Norse Mythology’s – the Valkyries as harbingers of death, using magic to cast blessings or curses on warriors and heroes and choosing who will live and die. She was a known shape shifter who could change form at will. One of her favorite battlefield shapeshifting forms is either the crow or raven. The Morrigan has also been accused of inspiring the Irish monnerbund groups who would band together as a group of young warrior-hunters who lived on the borders of society and participating in lawless activities before joining the mainstream when they got older. Some say these groups as well as the Fianna dedicated themselves to her and that she was their Matron. They would gather together at the infamous Fulacht na Mor Rioghn burnt mound sites and cook their hunted deer here somewhat in the like regard of the three hags who cooked the hound in the Cuchulainn myth. She is also seen as a guide to the Underworld or Otherworld, with mazes and passageways, tunnels and caverns leading not only to her lair, but those of Otherworldly entities and places. In this way she is seen as a a dark Queen of the faerie kingdom. She will choose the souls and spirits that she wants to guide down certain paths whether correct or incorrect in achieving their chosen destinations. She is known to use foul weather to cloak passageways or roads, with subtle mists or dense fog, storm clouds, thunder, lightning, or bezerk noises to misguide the traveler. As a Goddess of Sovereignty she is associated with the land and the earth, also as seen as the ruler of the land by granting victory and kingship to those she deems fit. According to myth, legend, lore, archaeology, and literary evidece she could have been the first and earliest of the tribal / territorial Goddesses in Ireland, whereas her connection to land, kingsip, and sovereignty was important if tribal land threatened.

Folklore: There are many Irish myths and legends involving the Morrigan, and this list is but a sampling: The Tain Bo Cuailgne, The Morrigan and Cuchulainn, The Battle of Muirthemne, Bres Mac Elatha and the Tuatha De Danann, The Hostel of the Quicken Trees, The Exploits of the Dagda, The Awakening of the Men of Ulster, The Morrigu, Cruachan, Dagda, The Courting of Emer by Lady Gregory, The Story of the Tuatha De Danann, and Donn Son of Midhir to name a few. In the “Battle of Mag Tuired” (Cath Maige Tuireadh), the Dagda comes across the Morrigan on Samhain at the river Unius where she is washing herself with one foot on each side of the river’s bank. It is said the river was formed from her urination. The Morrigan makes love to the Dagda just before he goes to battle with the Fomorians and they form a tryst. She promises him she would summon the great Druids of Ireland to cast a spell on behalf of the Tuatha De Danann destroying Indech, the Fomorian King, taking from him “the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valour.” She was believed to have taken two handfuls of his blood and depositing them in the Unius river. As the battle is about to be joined, Lugh, of the Tuatha De Danann asks each of them what power they are bringing to battle … he was unable to interpret the Morrigan’s reply, but knows it involved pursuing, destroying, and subduing. In Battle she chants a poem that breaks the battle and the Fomorians are driven off into sea. After that, she chants another poem that celebrates the victory and prophesizes the end of the world. When she appeared before Cuchulainn as a beautiful red-headed warrior, he turned away her amorous attempts, and apparently in due form during his battles in the Ulster Cycle conflicted him as a heifer, eel, wolf, and old hag. During his battle at Muirthemne, she appeared to him as three crones who were roasting a hound on a rowan spit. He was not to eat of the meat for his namesake was after the hound. Eating such would be forsaken and represent the day he dies. The crones shamed him into eating the tabooed flesh and that led to his death in battle that same day. The Morrigan transformed to the form of a black crow, flew to his corpse, and sat on his soldier so that the enemies knew he was truly deceased. Another Cuchulainn’s death tale depicts Cuchulainn encountering the Morrigan as a hag washing his bloody armour in a ford prophesizing his death. After this, Cuchulainn holds himself up tied to a standing stone with his own entrails so he could die standing upright and it is in this pose that the Morrigan transformed as a crow lands on his shoulders so all knew he was dead. Another tale talks of the Morrigan appearing as an old crone trying to cross a stream in front of Diarmuid O’Duibne. No one in Diarmuid’s company took pity on her except he, and went to the stream carrying her across the water on his back. During this act, she transformed into a beautiful tall sidhe woman who was from Tir na nog. She blessed him with the gift that no woman could ever resist his look or refuse him. A woman named Grainne fell in love with him causing him to gain the wraith of Fionn Mac Cumhaill who was also trying to woo’ her. Another legend tells about the Morrigan luring away Odras’ bull. Odras then follows her to the Otherworld through the cave of Cruachan. The Morrigan discovering this, awaits for Odras to fall asleep and then turns her into a pool of water. I’ve always wondered if this “cave of Cruachan” is the “Cave of the Cats” in Roscommon, and if the the pool of water just beneath the rockfall leading up to a hole and passage to the Morrigan’s house is poor old Odras?

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just by the pool’s edge, before the shamble
up to the Morrigan’s Home
Cave of the Cats, Rathcroghan, Ireland

History: The earliest manuscripts referring to her are in the 8th century O’Mulconry Glossary saying that “Macha” is one of the three “morrigna”. 9th century Latin Vulgate translation of the Book of Isaiah as the Lmaia translating to Herbrew Lilith, described in the glosses as “a monster in female form, that is a morrigan”. The 9th century C.E. Cormac’s glossary also describes her as does a gloss in the H.3.18 manuscript of “gudemain” meaning “spectres” with a plural form as “morrigna”. The earliest account depicting the Morrigan as an individual was during the Ulster Cycle stories where the tale between her and Co Chulainn are told in the Tain Bo Regamna (“The cattle Raid of Regamain”). In the 12th century texts known as the “Mythological Cycle” she is also described and told tales about. In the “Lebor Gabola irenn” she is listed amongst the “Tuatha De Danann” as a daughter of Ernmas, granddaughter of the Nuada. In the Mythological Cycle, Ernmas is said to have three sisters known as uriu, Banba, and Fodla which are synonyms for Ireland and were married to Mac Cuill, Mac Cocht, and Mac Graine, the last three Kings of Ireland that were Tuatha De Danann. Ernmas had three daughters who were Badb, Macha, and the Morrigan that were described as being “wealthy”, “springs of craftiness”, and “sources of bitter fighting”. The Morrigan was also referred to as being named “Anand”. She had three sons, “Glon”, “Gaim”, and “Coscar”. The 17th century “History of Ireland” by Geoffrey Keating stated the oriu, Banba, and Fodla worshiped Badb, Macha, and the Morrigan respectively. The 1870 publication of “The Ancient Irish Goddess of War” by W.M. Hennessey was very popular in dressing the Morrigan as a war or battle Goddess. She was also at times linked with the Banshee because of her raven or crow-like shape shifting image and her involvement with foretelling omens, oracles, and prophesies involving certain warrior’s and hero’s violent deaths, just as the Banshee do. The scholar Patricia Lysaght states that “In certain areas of Ireland this supernatural being is, in addition to the name banshee, also called the badhb.” It was through this interpretation that the Morrigan was known not only to cry out imminent death but also the outcomes of war.

Present-day Rites and Rituals:

Many Neo-Pagans today celebrate, worship, honor, and pay tribute to “The Morrigan”. This can be found in many different Pagan traditions such as Druidism, Wicca, Witchcraft, and Celtic Shamanism. Sometimes she’s included in ceremonies with other Deities, while others actually set up permanent shrines in her honor. These shrines sometimes have items sacred to her such as a bowl of brine and blood, raven or crow feathers, red cloth, menstrual blood, and anything else that represents life and death, fertility and war, the crow, or mythology associated with her. Some modern-day Morrigan cults suggest that the rites be kept sweet and simple, to encompass her mythos, and add in elements of her symbology. They say when you fee her presence to offer her something of value to you such as your blood, hair, or favorite beverage. She is infamous attendee of initiations regardless of being a birth, a death, transformation, or a commitment. Some ritualists call the Morrigan down into their cauldrons in order to gain her prophecy or wisdom there.

Bibliography / Recommended Reading / References:

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Goibnui, the Smith of the Tuatha D Danann

Goibnui, the Smith of the Tuatha D Danann

Other names:
Govannon (Welsh), Gofannon (Welsh), and Gobannos (Gaulish), Goibniu, Goibhnet, Goibhniu.

Counterparts:
There is suggestions that Goibnui, the Smith of the Tuatha D Danann, was replaced by Saint Ghobnatan. The site of Tobar Ghobnatan had archaeological evidence of a hut and artifacts such as iron slag, a crucible, and metalworking tools leading experts to believe that the site was used for iron works before its Christian occupation. This may have been the metalworking site of Goibnui. This also led to St. Gobnait to being a Patron Saint of Iron Workers. Both names have similar roots. Monastic site where St. Gobnait’s house, well, church, and grave resides has suggestive evidence that it had formerly been a Pagan Shrine with fairy wells. Gofannon (Welsh) and Gobannos (Gaulish). He lived on in Irish myth as Goban Saor, the craftsman who built the two round towers.

Deity / King / Lord of:
Irish/Celtic God of Smiths, Faerie lord of Metal craft. Son of Goddess Danu. Brew master of Immortality elixirs.

Qualities:
iron working, smelting, metal working, brew master, beer.

Description:
Goibniu is the Irish God of Smiths and was a son to the Goddess Danu. He was the official Smith to the Tuatha de Danann. He is found in company often with Luichtne the carpenter, Creidne the wright, and Diane Cecht the leech. His parents are unknown, but believed to be the hypothetical son of Danu, brother to Dagda and Dian Cecht. Others claim his family to be Tuirbe Trgmar (father), Net (grandfather), Balor Elatha (half-brothers), and Dagda (Nephew). He continued on in Irish folklore as Goban Saor, the legendary craftsman who built the round towers.

History:
He was believed to be killed alongside Dian Cecht by a painful plague that struck Ireland.

Folklore/Mythology:
He was believed to be able to smith swords that would always strike true. He was in possession of the Mead of Eternal Life. He, Credne, and Luchtainel were believed to be the creators of the magical weapons used by the Tuatha de Danann in battle. He and his brothers Creidhne and Luchtaine were known as the Tr De Dna, the three Gods of art, who forged the weapons which the Tuatha D used to battle the Fomorians. He was believed to be a creator of beer that would make its drinker immortal. He was a master brewer for the Tuatha de Danann. His feast would protect the Tuatha de Danann from sickness and old age.

Archaeology/History:
Referred in the Book of Invasions as “Goibniu who was not impotent in smelting, Luichtne, the free wright Creidne, Dian Cecht, for going roads of great healing, Mac ind Oc, Lug son of Ethliu.” Another text referring to him was the St. Gall codex referencing him in a charm during the “Second Battle of Magh Turedh” calling upon him in a spell to remove a thorn “very sharp is Goibnius science, let Goibnius goad go out before Goibnius goad!” During the Second Battle, Ruadan (son of Bres and Brighid) was sent to kill him. As the Fomorians felt he’d make a good spy, he was asked for parts of a spear from Goibniu assembled by a woman called Fron. Ruadan threw the spear at Gobniu wounding him. The spear was pulled out and he was keened by Brigid inventing the practice of keening and giving it to humankind. Keening is the high-pitched wailing for the dead often referenced to the Banshee (beansidhe). He went to the Well of Slaine, watched over by his family and healed by its magic waters, returned to battle, making more weapons for the Tuatha de Danann, and won Ireland from the Fomorians. His weapons always made their mark and wounds inflicted by them were always fatal. His ale made the Tuatha de Danann invulnerable. the Lebor Gabla renn describes him as as not impotent in smelting’.

Monuments and Artifacts:
The site Moytura in County Sligo is supposed to be associated with him as is the Moytura site in County Roscommon.

Bibliography/Recommended Readings:

  • R.A.S. Macalister 1941 “Lebor Gabla renn: Book of the Taking of Ireland” Part 1-5. Dublin: Irish Texts Society.

  • Gray, Elizabeth A. 1982 “Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired”. Dublin: Irish Texts Society. URL: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T300010/index.html
  • MacCulloch, J.A. 1911 “Religion of the Ancient Celts.” Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.

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Could St. Gobnata be a modernized version of Goibniu?
Statue at Tobar Ghobnatan

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Lelawal, The Maid of the Mist

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Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York

Lelawal, The Maid of the Mist
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

The Myth of the Maid of the Mist is a Native American legend from the Ongiaras Tribe about a young woman, named Lelawal, the Maid of the Mist. She lost her husband at a very young age and was lost in sorrow. She canoed along the Niagara River to the Falls, singing a death song paddling into the current. She was caught up in the rough waves and hurled into the falls, but as she fell, Heno, the God of Thunder who lived in these falls caught her carrying her down to his home beneath the veil of waters falling. Heno and his sons took care of her until she healed. One of his sons fell in love with her, married, and bore a son who learned to be a God of Thunder. The Maid however missed seeing her family and tribe. Heno reported to her that A great snake came down the mighty river and poisoned the waters of her people. They grew sick and were dying, being devoured by the snake until the mass disappearance of the tribe occurred. She begged Heno to be able to go back to the realm of her people to warn them of the dangers, so he lifted her through the falls back to her people. She advised them to move away from the river onto higher lands until the danger passed. Heno came back and brought her back to her husband. Once the great snake discovered that the people deserted the village, it went into a rage hissing and going upstream to search for them. Heno rose up through the mist of the falls and threw a giant thunderbolt at the snake killing it in one blast. The giant body floated downstream and lodged just above the cataract creating a large semi-circle that deflected huge amounts of water into the falls just above the God’s home. Heno swept through the falls trying to stop the massive influx of water caused by the position of the corpse. His home was destroyed. He called for the Maid and his sons returning up into the sky making a new home in the heavenly realms watching down over the humans, Heno thundering in the clouds as he once did in the falls. The thunder of the falls is Heno’s voice. [ http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/09/the_maid_of_the_mist.html ] Other legends claim Lelawala was betrothed by her father to a king she despised and secretly wanted to be with He-No, the God of Thunder, who lived beneath Horseshoe Falls. In the middle of heartache she chose to sacrifice herself to him, paddling her canoe into the Niagara River and swept off into the Falls. He-no caught her, merged with her spirit, and lived forever in his sanctuary behind the falls, whereas she became the “Maiden of the Mist”.

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Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York

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Arduinna

The Goddess Arduinna
Arduina, Arduinnae, Arduinne, Ardbinna.

Culture: Gallo-Roman, Gaulish, Celtic Mythology. Belgium; Luxembourg; France; Dren, Germany.

Similiar to: Gallo-Roman Goddess Diana.

Deity of: “Lady of the Forests”. Goddess of the Heights, Moon, Forests, and Hunting.

Sacred Animals, Plants, Stones, Etc.: The Boar.

Description:

Her name is derived from the Gaulish “arduo” meaning “height”. Several place names are named after her. Especially the Ardennes Woods (Arduenna silva), the Forest of Arden (England), and the personal names of “Arduunus” and “Arda”. Eponymous Goddess of the Ardennes Forest and region, represented as a huntress riding a boar especially in the present-day regions of Belgium, Luxembourg, and France – in the Ardennes region. The Goddess Arduinna considers wild boars sacred. There is a asteroid and a plant species named after her. The most popular reference of her comes from a Roman inscription in Rome, Ialy where she is invoked along with Camulus, Jupiter, Mercury, and Hercules. There is a bronze Gallo-Roman statue of a woman bearing a short belted tunic, riding a boar side saddle, and holding a knife assumed to be Arduinna by the 19th century antiquarian who discovered it as the modern symbol of the Ardennes region is a boar. She is known of first by two inscriptions – the Dren, Germany deae Ardbinnae (CIL XIII, 07848) and the Rome, Italy Arduinne (CIL VI, 00046). Her name derivatives are found on coinage of the Treveri and the Galatian ????. It was in 565 C.E. hat Saint Walfroy (Wulfilac) preached to his local parish and community in Villers-devant-Orval forbidding them to worship Arduinna any longer.

    Bibliography/Recommended Reading:
  • Celt.net. “Arduinna”. Website referenced May 2012. http://www.celtnet.org.uk/gods_a/arduinna.html.
  • Delamarre, Xavier; Lambert, P.Y. 2003 “Dictionaire de la Langue Gauloise (Dictionary of the Gaulish Language)” Paris.
  • Green, Miranda 1986 “The Gods of the Celts”. Stroud: Sutton Publishing.
  • Gysseling, M. 1970 “De Vroegste geschiedenis van het Nederlands: een taalkundige benadering in Naamkunde 2”
  • Pantheon.org. “Arduinna”. Website referenced May 2012. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/arduinna.html.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. “Arduinna”. Website referenced May 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduinna.

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