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Arthurian Romances

The World Pertaining to King Arthur

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Irish Mythology and Folklore

The Vorbing by Stewart Stafford 

  
The Vorbing is a must read for all. Mr. Stafford (who is in my opinion a brilliant writer) takes the Vampire myth and turns it on it’s end by keeping to the original myths and dare I say history. In this fantastic novel vampires are neither gorgeous nor sparkling like most most fantasy novels or tv shows on the CW (The Vampire Diaries and the Originals). The novel keeps to traditional Celtic lore and as the series names is the Vampire Creation Myth. The characters keep you reading and the vampires keep you invested in this new haunting series. Grab your copy today on Amazon and enjoy being spooked even more this Halloween!

Could the two of my favorite women in Celtic Mythology be related or one in the same?

As an Arthurian scholar and enthusiast, I love Morgan Le Faye. She has a very sensual and powerful je ne sais quoi. On the other hand, I also like the Morrighan in Irish mythology. These two women share so many characteristics could they be one in the same? I did a little research, and below you’ll see what I found.

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The Morrighan

The Morrigan, the Great Queen, the Phantom Queen and the Monster Queen and her sisters Babd and Macha, are a triple Fairy Queen. They are mistresses of war, magic and prophesy. The Morrigan’s animal form is a crow, and thus she appears as the fairy of death in battle.
It was by her valor, future sight and druid’s magic that Tuatha Dé Danann, the Tribe of Danu, defeated the Fir Blogs in the first battle of Mag Tuired. That the Celtic war diety is female, and not male, says a lot about the deep cultural chasm between bronze age Keltic folk and their Greco-Roman, Levantian and Egyptian contemporaries.
More than with most Irish mythic characters, the tales and personas of The Morrighan vary from time to time and place to place. As a cattle fairy she reigns over property, sovereignty and fertility. But as fairy of death in battle she transforms into crows, bansees, and the death eaters of the Harry Potter cycle.

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Morgan Le Faye

Morgan Le Fay: popularly known as Arthurian sorceress, benevolent fairy, priestess, dark magician, enchantress, witch, sea goddess, shape-changer, healer, and the sole personage of Avalon the Isle of Apples, not to mention daughter of Ygerna (Igraine) and Gorlois, half-sister to King Arthur, mother of Mordred, lady-in-waiting to Guinevere, wife of Uriens, lover of Sir Accolon, fancier of Sir Lancelot, and ‘as fair a lady as any might be’.
Morgan Le Fay was first introduced into Arthurian legend by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Vita Merlini (c. 1150) but her true origin, as with many Arthurian characters, leads back into Celtic mythology and inevitably develops with each new rendition of the tale. Morgan Le Fay’s character is interesting enough, but so is her name.
The name ‘Morgan Le Fay’
In Celtic terms, Morgan (or Morcant) is a man’s name. The feminine version is more correctly Morgain (or Morgue or Morgne). Also Morrigan equates with Morrigu of Irish mythology. According to Celtic tradition the Morrigan (a Triple Goddess of Celtic myth, thought of as the Goddess of Death) flew over battles, shrieking like ravens and claiming dead soldiers’ heads as trophies. Or the answer may lie in Uriens – in early Welsh literature Modron (a version of Matrona) was the daughter of Avallach, wife of Urien, and mother of Owein. The Welsh and Arthurian story lines were later merged, forming a link between Modron and King Arthur. Further, there was a sixth-century Cumbrian ruler called Urien Rheged who presided over a loose coalition of kings (according to some accounts there was also an Arthur, son of King Aedan of dal Riada). Urien had a loose ally: Morcant Bulc – a man – who eventually plotted to assassinate him, which could have been Sir Thomas Malory’s inspiration for the plot in Le Morte d’Arthur where Morgan Le Fay attempts to kill Arthur and Uriens.
‘Le Fay’ is an ancient word for a fairy and to this day, apparently, the Breton name for a water-nymph is a ‘Morgan’.
The possible roots of the Arthurian character Morgan Le Fay therefore run deep into early British mythology and can be traced across several hundred years up to her final act as one of the three women who transported the fatally wounded King Arthur in a barge to the Isle of Avalon to be healed (outcome unrecorded). A speculative summary, based on Welsh and other Arthurian legend, suggest an identification with Modron and also with the river goddess Matrona, possibly derived from the Irish goddess Morrigan. Given the superstitious Christian attitude to supernatural women in the medieval era, the more she is humanised, the more the name Morgan Le Fay descends into an easy literary metaphor for devious, sometimes evil mischief.
Nonetheless the much-maligned Morgan Le Fay never becomes purely evil. Her attractive qualities remain – a healer, she is associated with art and culture, she is sexy, and in the end is worthy of redemption.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and questions.

Ireland in the Lore of the Ancients

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IRELAND IN THE LORE OF THE ANCIENTS

SCOTIA (A name transferred to Alba about ten centuries after Christ) was one of the earliest names of Ireland – so named, it was said, from Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh, one of the ancient female ancestors of the Milesians – and the people were commonly called Scotti or Scots – both terms being frequently used by early Latin historians and poets. One of its ancient titles was Hibernia (used by Caesar) which some trace from Ivernia, the name, it is said, of a people located in the south of the Island. But most trace it from Eber or Heber, ther first Milesian king of the southern half, just as the much later name, Ireland, is by some traced from Ir, whose family were in the northeastern corner of the island. Though it seems much more likely that this latter name was derived from the most common title given to the Island by its own inhabitants, Eire – hence Eireland, – Ireland. It was first Northmen and then the Saxons, who, in the ninth and tenth century began calling it Ir-land, or Ir-landa – Ireland.

In the oldest known foreign reference to Ireland, it was called Ierna. This was the title used by the poet Orpheus in the time of Cyrus of Persia, in the sixth century before Christ. Aristotle, in his Book of the World, also called Ierna. It was usually called either Hibernia or Scotia by the Latin writers. Tacitus, Caesar, and Pliny call it Hibernia.

“This Isle is sacred named by all the ancients,
From times remotest in the womb of Chronos,
This Isle which rises over the waves of ocean,
Is covered with a sod of rich luxuriance.
And peopled far and wide by the Hiberni”

By Rufus Festus Avienus, who wrote this at beginning of the fourth century.

The Story of the Irish Race

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THE STORY OF THE IRISH RACE

The Irish race of today is popularly known as the Milesian Race, because the genuine Irish (Celtic) people were supposed to be descended from Milesius of Spain, whose sons, say the legendary accounts, invaded and possessed themselves of Ireland a thousand years before Christ.

The races that occupied the land when the so-called Milesians came, chiefly the Firbolg and the Tuatha De Danann, were certainly not exterminated by the conquering Milesians. Those two peoples formed the basis of the future population, which was dominated and guided, and had its characteristics moulded, by the far less numerous but more powerful Milesian aristocracy and soldiery. All three of these races, however, were different tribes of the great Celtic family, who, long ages before, had separated from the main stem, and in course of later centuries blended again into one tribe of Gaels – three derivatives of one stream, which, after winding their several ways across Europe from the East, in Ireland turbulently met, and after eddying, and surging tumultuously, finally blended in amity, and flowed onward in one great Gaelic stream.

The possession of the country was wrested from the Firbolgs, and they were forced into partial serfdom by the Tuatha De Danann (people of the goddess Dana), who arrived later. Totally unlike the uncultured Firbolgs, the Tuatha De Dannann were a capable and cultured, highly civilised people, so skilled in the crafts, if not the arts, that the Firbolgs named them necromancers, and in course of time both the Firbolgs and the later coming Milesians created a mythology around these.

In a famed battle at Southern Moytura (on the Mayo-Galway border) it was that the Tuatha De Danann met and overthrew the Firbolgs. The Firbolgs noted King, Eochaid was slain in this great battle, but the De Danan King, Nuada, had his hand cut off by a great warrior of the Firbolgs named Sreng. The battle raged for four days. So bravely had the Firbolgs fought, and so sorely exhausted the De Dannann, that the latter, to end the battle, gladly left to the Firbolgs, that quarter of the Island wherein they fought, the province now called Connaught. And the bloody contest was over.

The famous life and death struggle of two races is commemorated by a multitude of cairns and pillars which strew the great battle plain in Sligo – a plain which bears the name (in Irish) of “The plain of the Towers of the Fomorians”. The Danann were now the undisputed masters of the land. So goes the honoured legend.

Irish Celtic Mythology

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THE TUATHA DE DANANN
Such a great people were the De Danann, and so uncommonly skilled in the few arts of the time, that they dazzled even their conquerors and successors, the Milesians, into regarding them as mighty magicians. Later generations of the Milesians to whom were handed down the wonderful traditions of the wonderful people they had conquered, lifted them into amystic realm, their greatest ones becoming gods and goddesses, who supplied to their successors a beautiful mythology. Over the island, which was now indisputably De Danann, reigned the hero, Lugh, famous in mythology. And after Lugh, the still greater Dagda – whose three grandsons, succeeding him in the sovereignty, were reigning, says the story, when the Milesians came. The Dagda, was the greatest of the De Danann. He was styled Lord of Knowledge and Sun of all the Sciences. His daughter, Brigit, was a woman of wisdom, and goddess of poetry. The Dagda was a great and beneficent ruler for eighty years.
THE MILESIANS
The sixteenth century scholar, O’Flaherty, fixes the Milesian invasion of Ireland at about 1000 B.C. – the time of Solomon. It is proven that the Celts whenceover they came, had, before the dawn of history, subjugated the German people and established themselves in Central Europe. At about the date we have mentioned, a great celtic wave, breaking westward over the Rhine, penetrated into England, Scotland, and Ireland. Subsequently a wave swept over the Pyrenees into the Spanish Peninsula. Other waves came westward still later.
A celtic cemetery discovered at Hallstatt in upper Austria proves them to have been skilled in art and industries as far back as 900 B.C. – shows them as miners and agriculturists, and blessed with the use of iron instruments. They invaded Italy twice, in the seventh and in the fourth centuries before Christ. In the latter tie they were at the climax of their power. They stormed Rome itself, 300 B.C. The rising up of the oppressed Germans against them, nearly three centuries before Christ, was the beginning of the end of the Continental power of the celt. After that they were beaten and buffeted by Greek and by Roman, and even by despised races – broken, and blown like the surf in al directions, North and South, and East and West. A fugitive colony of these people, that had settled in Asia Minor, in the territory which from them (the Gaels) was called Galatia, and among whom Paul worked, was found to be still speaking a Celtic language in the days of St. Jerome, five or six hundred years later. Eoin MacNeill and other scientific enquirers hold that it was only in the fifth century before Christ that they reached Spain – and that it was not via Spain but via northern France and Britain that they, crushed out from Germany, eventually reached Ireland. In Caesar’s day the Celts (Gauls) who dominated France used Greek writing in almost all their business, public or private.

Of the Milesians, Eber and Eremon divided the land between them – Eremon getting the Northern half of the Island, and Eber the Southern. The Northeastern corner was accorded to the children of their lost brother, Ir, and the Southwestern corner to their cousin Lughaid, the son of Ith. The oft-told story says that when Eber and Eremon had divided their followers, each taking an equal number of soldiers and an equal number of the men of every craft, there remained a harper and a poet. Drawing lots for these, the harper fell to Eremon and the poet to Eber – which explains why, ever since, that the North of Ireland has been celebrated for music, and the South for song.

The peace fell upon the land then, and the happiness of the Milesians, was only broken, when, after a year, Eber’s wife discovered that she must be possessed of the three pleasantest hills in Eirinn, else she could not remain one other night in the Island. Now the pleasantest of all the Irish hills was Tara, which lay in Eremon’s half. And Eremon’s wife would not have the covetousness of the other woman satisfied at her expense. So, because of the quarrel of the women, the beautiful peace of the Island was broken by battle. Eber was beaten, and the high sovereignty settled upon Eremon.

 

THE CELTS
Long, long ago beyond the misty space
of twice a thousand years,
In Erin old there dwelt a mighty race,
Taller than Roman spears,
Like oaks and towers they had a giant grace,
Were fleet as deers
With winds and waves they made their ‘biding place,
These western shepherd seers.

Their ocean god was Mannanan MacLir,
whose angry lips,
In their white foam, full often would inter
Whole fleets of ships;
Crom was their day god, and their thunderer,
Made morning and eclipse,
Bride was their queen of song, and unto her
They prayed with fire-touched lips.

Great were their deeds, their passions, and their sports;
With clay and stone
They piled on strath and shore those mystic forts,
Not yet over thrown
On cairn-crowned hills they held their council courts
While youths alone,
With giant dogs, explored the elks’ resorts,
And brought them down

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