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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Lia Fil: The Stone of Destiny

Hill of Tara

Lia Fil

The Mythic Cycle: According to the 11th century text known as the Lebor Gabala (The Mythic Cycle) this is an enchanted stone of high magic. The mythical remnant of the Tuatha D Danann, one of the four magical treasures gifted to Ireland when the faerie people settled here as the story goes. Legend has it that the Tuatha D Danann were first instructed within the four cities of Falias, Gorias, Murias, and Findias in the “Northern Isles” of Druidry and magic. They traveled from these cities with a magical item from each city, these treasures are known as the four legendary treasures of Eire. This stone came from Falias. The other three treasures were the Sword of Victory (Claomh Solais), The Spear of Lugh (Sle Bua), and Dagda’s Cauldron (Coire Dagdae). “Lia Fil” means in Irish Gaelic “the Stone of Destiny”. It is sometimes confused with the Stone of Scone, of which the Blarney Stone is rumored to be made of. There are references at Blarney Castle suggesting the Stone of Scone and the Stone of Destiny are one of the same, though this is not accurate and is more modern Irish urban myth.

Hill of Tara

The Stone of Scone Myth: It is believed that the stone is that upon which Moses struck his staff when he parted the Red Sea for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt or alternatively part of Jacob’s Pillow where the prophet Jeremiah brought it to Ireland or the Stone of Ezel which was used by David when he hid from King Saul or the traveling altar stone of St. Columba. Whatever the origin, it is rumored to have been brought to Ireland during the Crusades. From there it was said to have become the Lia Fail atop Tara until Robert the Bruce took it to Blarney Castle and gifted to Cormac McCarthy the then King of Munster and incorporated into the Castle as the “Blarney Stone“. However, the Scottish stone of Scone is believed to have been kept in the Scone Abbey in Scone by Perth, Scotland until the British Monarchs captured it and held it at the Westminster Abbey. In 1950, four students stole the stone back for Scotland discovering that it had been broken for hundreds of years. The Stone of Scone was described to be an oblong block of red sandstone, nothing comparable to tales of the Irish Stone of Destiny nor the Blarney Stone. It is not one in the same. This myth came from Scottish chroniclers in the likes of Hector Boece and John of Fordun in the 13th century C.E. According to their accounts, the last King to be crowned at the stone was “Muirchertach mac Ercae” in 500 C.E. The tale goes that MacErc loaned the stone to his brother Fergus in Scotland for his coronation. Shortly after the coronation, Fergus, his crew, and their ship sunk off the coast of County Antrim stranding the Stone of Destiny in Scotland. However, there are other legends that state the stone originally came from Scotland.

The Stone is said to possess great powers – much akin to King Arthur’s Sword in the stone, as being when the right true leader of Ireland put his feet on the stone – the stone would roar in joy endowing said individual with a long reign. When the legendary leader-warrior Cchulainn approached the stone and it did not cry out, he struck the stone with his sword, splitting it, thereby preventing it from roaring ever again except for Brian Boru and Conn of the 100 Battles. This legend is similar to the Scottish “Stone of Scone” that was used for coronations for English, Scottish, and British Monarchs; the Stones of Mora where Swedish kings were elected; the Carantania Prince’s Stone where installation of princes and dukes took effect; King Arthur’s Sword in the stone; the Blarney Stone’s magical gift of gab; and the De Shl Chonairi Mir.

The Lia Fil is a standing stone atop the Inauguration Mound (an Forrad) on the Hill of Tara within County Meath. It was the place where kings and leaders went for their coronation as mythology dictates it is the stone that chooses s/he who will rule. All the Kings of Ireland until 500 C.E. were crowned here. It is also the stone that Ireland was named after, as it is said the “Tuatha D Danann” called Ireland originally “Inis Fil” leading to Eire being first called “Fl” meaning “Island” (Inis) of the King (a.k.a. enclosure, hedge, ruler) (Fl). Lia Fil was the Stone of Ireland, or carried from the term “Fianna Fil” as “Soldiers of Destiny” leading to the name “The Stone of Destiny.”

In more modern traditions, it is a common place for lovers to court and propose. It is the stone at which me and my wife visited on November 7, 2011 when the stone sung to me to propose to her – and I did – we wedded a few months later.

As the stone is not greatly monitored, some vandalism on occasion has taken wear to the monument such as in 2012 when some idiot damaged the stone in 11 places by a hammer.

McGowan, Leaf 1/26/2014 “Lia Fail: The Stone of Destiny”. Official web page: http://www.technogypsie.com/faerie/?p=1189. © 2014 – Technogypsie Productions: Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you enjoy this article, please treat the author to a drink or donate to keep this article preserved online.

Bibliography/Recommended Reading:


  • Campbell, Ewan 2003 “Royal Inauguration in Dl Riata and the Stone of Destiny.” Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
  • Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth 2004 “Royal Inauguration in Gaelic Ireland c. 1100-1600”. Woodbridge.
  • Keating, Geoffrey 2010 “The History of Ireland”. Website referenced 1/26/14 at http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T100054.html.
  • Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia undated “Lia Fail”. Website referenced 1/26/14.

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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.

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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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