Thursday, October 20, 2016

To be Irish

* The other day after commenting on one of Clare's (Clisare) videos on YouTube, some gobshite thought it be a grand idea to look me up on Google+ and e-mail me. His opinion of me caused some serious internal investigation. So, I wrote this. 
What does it mean to be Irish?
   Ask anyone in The States and you'll most likely hear, "Oh I'm Irish, My Dad side is Irish, or my Grannie was Irish. Yet so many people in Ireland will either not care or look at you like you're not Irish. Having Irish roots and heritage is not the same as "being Irish", right? After all, you don't live in Ireland. By all means is that takes to be Irish? 
So, I live in Ireland and I'm Polish, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, etc. Am I "Irish" now? 
I live in Northern Ireland but my family is from (insert foreign land) can I call myself Irish? 
I have a legal passport with dual citizenship for the US and Ireland, am I Irish yet? 
I was born in the US yet my families roots trace back to the Uí Fiachrach, Niall of the Nine Hostages, and Conn of the hundred battles, what about now?
I speak Irish (Gaeilge) can I be considered Irish? 
I know the Old stories of our people and can tell them, am I Irish? 
I can Sean-nós dance, am I Irish? 
I play the Cláirseach, am I Irish? 
I'm a Gaelic Pagan and celebrate Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasadh. Any closer to being Irish?
     Our culture has a poetic tradition that uses a somewhat ritual response; "Ní hansa". This phrase meaning "not hard" often given before responding to a serious question seems rather unfitting here. It's very hard, there is no easy way of putting it. If you look at what it means to call yourself (Irish) something which has many subtle layers, how can we clearly define it. Are we talking blood lines & heritage? What about culture and customs? Which culture, the Gaelic culture? Is that "Irish"? After all a culture is defined by its Language. Gaeilge has more fluent speakers in the US and world wide than in Ireland, so this means what? Most Irish people do not speak Gaeilge, nor do they know much about pre-christain or even later Gaelic customs. They all seem to be rather consumed with modernization. 

~ What the feck does it mean to be Irish?
     It all depends on who you ask, and where they were born, and where they live now. To some extant even their age will play a part of their responce. One must remember that IRELAND IS AN ISLAND. It has no native people, everyone came from somewhere else. Our earliest roots are a beautiful woven tapestry of mixed history and mythology. Its tales of early inhabitants and different races of beings inspire us; but I can guarantee you that in todays Ireland no one looks to "those people" as their ancestors. Which is sad, as many can trace through DNA roots to a people from the Neolithic and Bronze age throughout the Isles. For a moment think about this. You have a DNA marker that clearly shows you have family that has been in the same region for a good 5,000 years, and they are still there. Now if you can not venerate your ancestors, the land, and the traditions of old, knowing that somehow you are apart of it all - I feel bad for you! But surely these things, thats not Irish is it?
 Back to "Being Irish"
    Ireland today is as diverse as the UK and its roots. I'm sure they'll love being compared. I can hear someone in the corner making IRA comments and mumbling random outdated shite about this country, that country, the past, and religion. Guess what Mr. your relatives were probably Norman, Viking, maybe even Welsh. Oh are we talking about 'The Gael'? Does this sum up Irishness? The culture, the customs and traditions, the language and laws of our past past are sadly hanging on by a thread. You want a real insight into traditional Gaelic culture? (Read: Cattle Lords and Clansmen - The Social Structure of Early Ireland by Nerys Patterson) The fact is, people have steadily been moving in and out of Ireland since the Neolithic. Since that time with the coming of agriculture and trade, innovation and the exchange of ideas and philosophies allowed us to grow in a way to have a very distinct culture, albeit because we are not landlocked. We never were conquered by Rome, and our historical development based on foreign cultural influence played a large role on who we are today in our Irishness. Look at the Normans, they took on Gaelic culture, took our women as wives, adopted our language, and even dressed like us. They fought beside us as a united people to push back the foreign rule to a small area in the east. Now thats a compliment, someone willing to adopt your culture and die for it. This Irishness, It's something very easy to see, yet hard to define. That's Irish right there! 
     A good way to helping someone understand what it means to be Irish is showing someone from outside our culture our historical works of art. Look at the spirals of the Neolithic site of Brú na Bóinne (New Grange) look then at the development of that artistic style almost exactly mimicked in the Iron Age on pottery, shields, sword scabbards, mirrors, and so much more. Later we see it again in the artistic styles in The Book of Kells. This is Irishness; a continual development of culture and people, growing from our past - not defined by it! *With the cultural stream-bed of inspiration in our subconscious we can use the undertow currents of our past to summersault and leap upstream like the Salmon of Wisdom to our future which is ultimately a place of home. Think about that, there is some draíocht ya boi ya. 

     When someone online tells me that I am not Irish because I don't live there, or wasn't born there they are making an ignorant assumption about a stranger. This is very unfair and rude on their behalf. They don't know what my passport says, they don't know that I speak Gaeilge, they don't know that I and many others celebrate 'the old ways' that honor The Tuatha Dé Danann, the ancestors and the sidhe folk. When it comes down to defining who is Irish and who is not, its a foggy thing; much like trying to decipher the Ogham or translate poems and stories from Old Irish. I honestly feel bad for the people who claim to Irish that live in Ireland that do not speak the language and who do not know their stories, and customs. They are not my people. They are Irish because they live there, some were born there; but again, not my people. Ireland... IT'S AN ISLAND, no one is 100% Irish. Get over yerself. Am I saying I'm more Irish than you, NO! I'm saying I simply see myself as a very different kind of Irish than most. Being a Gaelic Pagan which does not subscribe to Neo-paganism is very different. For those on this path the Culture and Faith can not be separated. Our faith is apart of our culture, it is everyday day and everywhere. It is how we see the world, how we treat people with our ethics and virtues. Our views on deity and the otherworld. Our laws, and customs help to define us as well as our language.  
     I guess what I am getting at is, it is highly offensive to assume certain things about people you do not know. I would never call out someone on their Irishness because they are not a Gaelic pagan, thats obsurd. I don't care, it's their private life. I also don't care if they are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan, etc. Unless you are trying to shove your culture/faith down my throat we wont have a problem. I am Irish, I'm also not Irish. Not all of my ancestors come from Ireland... so what. Some come from Scotland, Wales, Germany, and even Greece. Who cares? Most of the people in Ireland are so mixed they shouldn't be so up-nosed about it. Ireland is made up of Picts (Non-Gaelic early people 'possibly Brythonic'?) Gaels, Normans, Anglo Saxon, Viking, Franks, Welsh, British, Germans, Poles, and Czechs. Pakistani, Afghans, Asians, Indians and lets not forget our Travelers! Who claims the right to call themselves Irish and by what parameters? You'd be better off looking for the answers inside Oweynagat. You wanna go one step further and say You're a Celt, I dare you to define that! There is one that is certain, we Irish have been good at two things, maybe three for a very long time, so much so its sadly a stereotype. I'll give ya a hint to one: You're here because of your parents ;-) I'm sure your smart enough to figure the others out.  
    When will we adopt the idea that this earth is our only home and we have to share it. If we embrace one an others differences to understand & compassionately see from their perspective we might further grow and evolve. Possibly into a people that can unify for the greater good to explore outside (and inside) space as "human beings". So, lets just agree NO ONE knows what it means to be Irish. It is like attraction, it's subjective and can not be analyzed... Much like us Irish. It's something you feel and something you share and celebrate. The next time some tourist tells you that their great great great so & so was Irish, don't be an ass to them. They are trying to connect with something they feel inside which is important to them. Be hospitable and good repressive of our culture & buy them round. Show them by example what it means to be Irish. 
     I will leave you with a final warning. The next person to say I'm not Irish for any reason will only get the following response:  Gabh suas ort fhéin a thóin mhóir chacsmuitín bod. A bhastaird bhreallghnúisigh! 

For the rest of ya, 
Beannú na déithe's n'aindhéithe ort - Bí sé amhlaidh
Go gcumhdaí is dtreoraí na déithe thú - Bí sé amhlaidh

Now go wet the tay and give yer one hug ya cunt! 
Slán agus beannacht libh!  
Your Friend

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hardly a Saint!

The REAL Facts about Saint Patricks Day

Patrick or "Pádraig" was not his real name it was: Maewyn Succat

He was not Irish

There were no snakes in Ireland to chase out. 

The 'snakes' being a metaphor for the Pagan culture (Which remained strong and proud long after he died)

He and his converts actually destroyed more positive within Gaelic culture than preserve them.

He tried dividing the Irish from their native culture because 'God' told him to bring a foreign religion to them.

Irish Catholicism remains highly Pagan to this day. Many "folk customs" are actually left over Pagan traditions combined with Catholicism. 

The Celtic Cross shows how the Christain faith had to try and use the native faith to explain it's doctrines. 

The Gael had the concept of the Trinity long before he introduced it.

The Shamrock and the Clover are different.

KILTS/BAGPIPES are NOT Irish, they are Scottish.

~ "Patrick" was a Roman and a Brythonic Celt by blood and wasn't Irish-Gael, his name wasn't Patrick/Pádraig it was Maewyn Succat

~ He was no "Saint", as he spent his youth debauching in the high-lifestyle fashion of all spoiled-aristocrat sharing in what nobles of the Roman Empire were accustom to. 

~  He was a rich kid, son of the Decurio of a province in Roman Britain, which is comparable to a Governor or Lord.

~ He didn't bring Christianity to Ireland, missionaries had been there for a long time prior to his birth. It just didn't catch on because the majority of the locals were happy with their faith. It didn't really take solid root for centuries after his death. 

~ He was captured by Nialach raiders and sold to Milchu, where he served as a swineherd for seven years before being released... not him escaping! He later came back with mercenaries from his mother's family (his father was Roman, his mother a Welsh/Brythonic) and murdered Milchu and his entire family except for his youngest son, burned his farm, and brainwashed the surviving son into a mindless zealot. 

~  He lied profusely about his accomplishments in his self-congratulatory autobiography, most of which has since been debunked by historians, and even the Catholic Church says much of it is allegory and metaphor. 

~  The only reason he is credited the way he is was because he had a lot of his fathers and political money to fund a huge PR machine of books and people that were paid to spread his version of history.

~  The only real success he had was converting the king of one of the major tribes in Eastern Ireland who's Draoithe(Druids) had gotten too big for their britches. They felt they should rule through a puppet king, and threatened the king by telling him to do as they said or he would not be allowed to make public sacrifice. "Patrick" offered him a new chieftain-a god to put above the others- something that fit into Gaelic cosmology to some extent, but was a gross violation of Christian doctrine- in order to win him over by saying this new chieftain-god would give the kings power instead of the Draoithe(Druids). The fact that said power was later usurped by the bishops was a dirty little secret he forgot to mention. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Long Night

   As the "Holiday Season" is soon upon us I wanted to take some time to share some thoughts about this time of year. Our modern culture would have us believe that it's all about the Christ Child and Santa Claus, presents, and treats; but where does this come from? What about things like Christmas Trees and lights, ham, and stockings? For me the beauty of the season is found in the earliest roots of our Proto Indo-European ancestors, because from there we will see how so much is developed and made into what we understand as Christmas today.  

   For a time forgotten, these Megalithic builders placed great importance on the Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year and hence the shortest day. The theme of dark and light is ever present in the stone monuments they have left behind. Places like New Grange in Ireland where the suns rays align to the roof box, travel down a chamber to light the back wall of a burial chamber all demonstrate their obsession with tracking the movement of the sun and moon throughout the seasons. Much speculation exists on any of their spiritual connections with solar and lunar observations. The popular and common thought that seems to be accepted is that the spirits of the people within the tomb could unite with the ancestors during such alignments, or the ancestors were able to be present at such places when this gateway or threshold was open by the alignment. It could even be suggested with places like Stonehenge & the near by place of Woodhenge also played an important role between Winter and Summer Solstice. All that can be said is that from Northern Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, and even in places in France, Spain, Germany and Italy the Winter Solstice seemed very important to the people of the Neolithic. The theme again of Darkness and Light, of day and night and life and death were no doubt very important.  These people dealing with new found agriculture and technology of the 1st discovery of copper, and tin, of hunting, and survival through the hard winters no longer following big game after the ice age became tied to a farmstead. The pastoral lifestyle became hard and often unbearable. The longest night or the darkest time of year had to be hard on them. 

   What does this have to do with Christmas? 
What is Christmas but not the celebration of the birth of "The Christ Child"? Is he not the symbolic human figure of 'the light'? Is this why the early biblical editors chose to set his birthday near the Winter Solstice in place of a pre-existing Pagan culture. Most likely. Is the son not also 'the sun'. If we understand its direct connection to Mithra and Zoraster it is clearly evident. In the ancient Welsh (Brythonic) tradition we can understand the divine child of light with the Mabon or Maponos (Gaulish) 'the great boy, the great son'. In later folk customs of the British Isles we see the battle between the Oak and Holly Kings

    It was from such peoples like the Bell Beaker culture that stretched from Sardinia, Sicily, Northern Italy, Germany, France and Spain all the way to the British Isles and Ireland during the Bronze Age that we see the continuity of culture still embracing the Winter Solstice traditions from the earlier Neolithic cultures already in place for much time. 

What do we know from our ancestors of the European Iron Age?
   The Coligny Calendar found in Gaul (France) mentions the month of December as Deuoriuos. The word 'Riuros' translates to "frost month" from the Gaelic reo, Welsh rhew, Breton riv. In Irish 'reo' means a deep-darkness, so the word Deuorious (Deuo-ro-ious, "great divine feast") would be linked to their observation of the Winter Solstice and would give us a glimpse of the Old Celtic understanding of this holiday. A deeper look into the Gaulish Coligny calendar of the 'samos-giamos' part of the year would give us a more in depth understanding of these solar points on the calendar and their traditions in the continental Celtic world.  

   What can be said is that there was an effort to celebrate hope during this dark time. The seed of light sown in the womb of darkness will grow and in its appropriate season will bloom and blossom. Christmas tree lights, candles, bonfires are all good examples of our early focus of light during this time which clung to hope in connection for the Sun/Son to return. The Proto Indo European culture, and even Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung cover in depth this 'Child of Light- The returning Sun'. He is always born at the time of deepest darkness. What can not be argued is that the archetype is clear and cross cultural with the Mabon/Maponos. The divine child of light is associated with re-birth and salvation. 

   In times before the industrial revolution many of these Winter Solstice celebrations lasted weeks, "the 12 days of Christmas" comes from a time when the Solstice was celebrated for about 3 weeks. Such festivities were not merely indoor family traditions, but entire communal celebrations of public display. These included sporting events, processions/parades, musical performances, divination, and lots of feasting. 

So much could be said in detail about the many cultural celebrations during this time of year. To get a good feel for the many subtle layers of this seasonal festival one should look into a well researched study into the following:

Winter Solstice

Wren Day - Lá an Dreoilín

Saint Stephen's Day

Mummer's Day

Mari Lwyd


Alban Arthan - Alban Arthuan



Krampusnacht - see krampus.
The Wild Hunt

Koročun or Kračun - Slavic

   We would be very dismissive if we did not mention the Norse/Germanic culture for it is here that we have the most direct imagery for our modern Christmas season. If you have a Christmas tree, garland, holly, wreaths, lights and other things of green-red-white in your house consider it thanks to the Pagan Germanic customs. YULE being a holiday where we get much of our traditions from was during this Solstice time. Santa Claus from the Dutch: Sinterklaas is without argument a combination of the Christian Saint Nicholas and the much older tradition of the God Odin during Yule with one of his many names as Jolnír. It was common for children to leave carrots or other treats in their shoes for Odins eight-legged horse Sleipnir much like children hang stockings and leave treats for Santa and his reindeer today. 

Does your family eat Ham during Christmas? Ever wonder where that comes from? The Yule Boar! Check out the following.
The Yule Boar - Sonargöltröltr

   It is hard to forget the Germanic Yule Goat often associated with Krampus the counter part of the dark side of Saint Nicholas. This half man half goat beast would punish the children who misbehaved. No doubt this bastardized anthropomorphic figure is a direct connection to the Germanic pagan past of a Horned God figure. Imagine growing up in alpine Germany long ago where you were terrified by this creature and then having a man in a costume come to your house, spank you or scare the jeebus outta ya. Be good or else! I know some parents that still bribe their children with be good or else. It be much cooler if they dressed up as Krampus after some story telling. 

There is three major themes that are connected to the Winter solstice of we dig through the cross cultural European traditions. 

1. The theme of the Child of Light. The spark of life who is born at the darkest time. To triumph he is often hidden away until the right moment. From the Irish Myths with Fionn Mac Cumhaill & Lúgh to the Welsh tales of Lleu & Mabon/Maponos, to even how Jesus was hidden from Herod the Great. The birth of the light child (Luke Skywalker) Luke = Lewk. The child of light a vigiorus leader who will rule during the samos half of the year when he grows after being hidden. 

2. The theme of the Exiled Mother. Powers of generation and growth are unable to manifest outwardly, but is still active & present usually hidden or not easily recognized. Stories of Demeter and Persephone, Isis and Osiris, Nanna and Balder add to the Celtic tales where we have The Great Mother and The Great Son. Sometimes its her consort, or husband who she wanders searching for while grieving instead of her child. 

3. The theme of the Sun Sacrifice. The new-born light must be given energy from a like source of itself. This is usually blood from a hunt or farm animal with the warm red blood sprinkled or poured onto the cold white ground where the seeds and crops go. Often by someone wearing Gold the color of the Sun. 

How ever you celebrate the Holiday Season, be aware that it is Happy Holidays & Seasons Greetings. There are so many cultures, customs, and traditions of both Judeo-Christian and Pagan being celebrated. I hope you can see from the above that we have more in common through archetype and symbolism than that which divides us. Have a safe and wonderful holiday, and always remember the wise words of our prophets William and Theodore; "Be excellent to each other, and Party on Dude." 

~ In the know:
Sirius shared the same declination as the Winter Solstice sun around 3,150 BC, when Newgrange was built, and it is possible the people who constructed Newgrange were well aware of this coincidental alignment, and therefore they may have used the passage of Newgrange to watch the precessional drift of Sirius over long periods of time. Viewed from Newgrange, Sirius set over a hill called Réaltoge, which is an Irish word for "star". In folklore, it was said there was gold buried under the ringfort. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Corr Bolg

The Irish Crane Bag

The above bag was made for me by Kelsey Goodwin at StarLeather 

She makes wonderful pouches/sporrans that are very affordable and she does custom work at a very fair price. 

     Since I was child I would often collect things I found and put them in a special bag. My magic pouch held rocks, twigs, roots, nuts, feathers, bones, shells, teeth and more. I had special names for each item, and I would on occasion talk to them, hold them and use them in an imaginative play of sorts. I still have a few of these items from early youth and today they hold a deeper meaning for many reasons. As the years have gone by this meaningful collection has waxed and waned as it should. Items have been lost and others were given away to those whom I felt were in benefit of a gift. It wasn't until I was around the age of eighteen that I heard the term 'Crane Bag' used for what I had always dubbed in childhood as my magical pouch. After almost twenty years in a Druid Order I came to understand this in a new way. Though there there still was a cloudiness, or a fog surrounding this Crane Bag of sorts. Many of us on the Pagan path use a Crane Bag simply to hold our items, but what do we really know about the bag? Let us briefly examine where this tradition comes from, and to what it may allude to.

    Why is it called a Crane Bag?

If we look to Irish Mythology where this term originates; Corr Bolg (Crane Bag) we will glimpse a theme as to why the Crane Bag held such importance.

This is a poem from ‘The Poem-Book of Finn’, (Duanaire Finn) Contained within describes the magical Crane-Bag of Manannán & Aoife, the daughter of Delbaeth. How she had been turned into a crane by the jealous Iuchra. How she went to live within Manannán’s household until she passed away. Manannán made the magical bag out of her skin, (as human or crane?) within it held his many treasures. It was passed on in time to others again & again throughout the many tales in Irish mythology.  

Duanaire Finn
I have a question for thee, Caoilte, man of the interchanged weapons: to whom did the good Crane-bag belong that Cumhall son of Treanmhor had?
A crane that belonged to gentle Manannan — it was a treasure of power with many virtues — from its skin, strange thing to prize — from it was made the Crane-bag.
Tell us what was the crane, my Caoilte of many exploits, or, tell us, man, why its skin was put about the treasures.
Aoife, daughter of dear Dealbhaoth, sweetheart of Ilbhreac of many beauties — both she and luchra of comely hue fell in love with the man.
luchra, enraged, beguiled Aoife to come swimming, it was no happy visit: when she drove her fiercely forth in the form of a crane over the moorlands.
Aoife then demanded of the beautiful daughter of Abhartach: ’How long am I to be in this form, woman, beautiful breast-white luchra?’
‘The term I will fix will not be short for thee, Aoife of the slow-glancing eyes: thou shalt be two hundred white years in the noble house of Manannan.
‘Thou shalt be always in that house with everyone mocking thee, a crane that does not visit every land: thou shalt not reach any land.
‘A good vessel of treasures will be made of thy skin — no small event: its name shall be — I do not lie — in distant times the Crane-bag.’
Manannan made this of the skin when she died: afterwards in truth it held every precious thing he had.
The shirt of Manannan and his knife, and Goibhne’s girdle, altogether: a smith’s hook from the fierce man: were treasures that the Crane-bag held.
The King of Scotland’s shears full sure, and the King of Lochlainn’s helmet, these were in it to be told of, and the bones of Asal’s swine.
A girdle of the great whale’s back was in the shapely Crane-bag: I will tell thee without harm, it used to be carried in it.
When the sea was full, its treasures were visible in its middle: when the fierce sea was in ebb, the Crane-bag in turn was empty.
There thou hast it, noble Oisin, how this thing itself was made: and now I shall tell its faring, its happenings.
Long time the Crane-bag belonged to heroic Lugh Long-arm: till at last the king was slain by the sons of Cearmaid Honey-mouth.
To them next the Crane-bag belonged after him, till the three, though active, fell by the great sons of Mile.
Manannan came without weariness, carried off the Crane-bag again; he showed it to no man till the time of Conaire came.
Comely Conaire slept on the side of Tara of the plains: when the cunning well-made man awoke, the Crane-bag was found about his neck. 

What can be said from this?
    In the previous poem we learn that the Crane bag was made by Manannán ma Lir containing many personal treasures to him. Aífe was transformed into a crane by a jealous rival, luchra; she spends 200 years in the household of Manannán mac Lir. When she dies, he uses her skin to hold things precious to him. Though when she dies is she in crane form or a human? The personal items included are his knife, shirt, the king of Scotland's shears, the king of Lochlainn's helmet, the bones of Assal's swine, and the girdle of the great whale's back. Notice that at high tide the treasures are visible in the sea, but at ebb tide they vanish. To what does this allude? Should our Crane Bags wax and wane with the moon and tides each month?
    There is a lot of speculation that the bag contained the letters of the Ogham alphabet. Perhaps it was a bag of Ogham lots carved or burnt on wood? Specifically here, we can suggest the last five letters of the Ogham are being mentioned through symbolism of the original twenty script, making it a twenty five basic script. One early form of Ogham divination was done by observing the legs of cranes. We also see that the bag went through various owners, including Lugh Lamhfada and Liath Luachra from whom it is obtained by Fionn ma Cumhaill. 
   Let us start picking this apart. We know that Manannan was the God of the sea, we have reference to objects that are seen and unseen through the timing of the tides within the bag. Objects like his shirt and his knife and thus a bag created out of a cane-woman. Did the bag hold water? Is there something special dealing with the moon maybe and the concept of these tides? If Manannan is the Sea God, then is he not responsible for the ebb and flow of the tides? Suggesting what could be visible and yet unseen would be within his control and not just that of the natural cycles. Something to consider if you have a personal Crane Bag. Who is allowed to see what, and which times we allow it. We are dealing with sight here, so the seen and unseen could be a light vs. darkness correlation. Could these following Ogham letters on the right hand side of the diagram below represent the items (treasures) listed from this poem? Do they not look like shears/sciccors, a helmet, etc? Was this suggested a form of a hidden language. Maybe language to be hidden from others through use of the Ogham? The Ogham was not a language of the masses in its earliest form as we know. 

What of these treasures? 
     The shirt of Manannán and his knife, what could possibly be the Sea Gods shirt? Since we are not talking about an actual tunic, maybe it's not even fabric at all. Maybe its the ocean itself or something of the ocean like sea weed? It could have been the knowledge of weaving even, maybe like the ebb and flow we could apply some sort of weaving pattern? This is seen possibly as the (AE) Ogham. The knife that he had belonged to Guibhne the Smith God, and it might be the knife like hook found in the Ogham (IO). Maybe it wasn't a knife at all but the knowledge of smith-craft? Maybe the knife is a Druids sickle or reaping hook, maybe its the crescent moon above the water? The King of Scotland's shears (Ui), A good question we may ask is what did the shears symbolize? Cutting, trimming, perhaps keeping up on hygiene or appearances. We do know the Celts were often manicured and took pride in appearances. The King of Lochlainn's helmet (OI) might also be found by their shape among the Ogham. What is a helmets job, protection of the head, what is in the head? The Celts thought that the head was the seat of the soul and it was highly venerated, and sometimes taken in battle. It could be that the helmet represented an attribute of protection of such things? The bones of Asal's swine, and a bone from the great whales back could be cross bones laid overlapping one another creating the (EA) ogham. Bones are symbols of our bodies death, though why the swine & the whale? Are stones of the earth the bones of the earth which many carved Ogham onto, who is to say. A much deeper study of all of these symbols should be considered. I feel these are possible suggestions of the corresponding attributes pertaining to these diphthongs.

    We know that mythology gives us stories that are full of symbolism and metaphors, that things are never what they appear. We see that Aoife in her passions is punished by someone who has a jealous heart. He punishes her by transforming her form into that of a Crane. This theme can be found in a few myths where someone is punished by being transformed into an animal. It is only natural to assume that since she was transformed into a Crane that she should be in the presence then of Manannán with his very watery attributes. What we should mention is the transformation into an animal within a story was never seen as a punishment, the punishment was that they were forbidden to willingly on their own accord to transform back into human form until a given time. As all the tales tell us today, Aoife spent 200 years as a Crane in the company of Manannán. The theme of time within Celtic myths is not how we understand it in our culture, especially that of otherworldly time in the Sea Gods home none the less. From what we gather from the lore, a few moments in the other-world can be generations in our time, and sometimes the opposite where years over there can be but a few moments in our time. This is not suggesting that the Celts didn't understand time, simply that as pastoral and agricultural culture their concept of the seasons, of the light and dark half of the year was perhaps so 'organic and natural' that we are missing something from our own cultural understanding. We would have to live that lifestyle to understand it. I feel to accomplish any real understanding multiple generations would have to undergo living as they did to try and understand where their mindset originates. On a side note, have you ever been camping for a prolonged period of time, say a week or more with no technology, no watches, phones, no time; just sun up, sun down? It changes you, it resets your inner clock! 

     So, then how does a woman become transformed by jealousy? In good Celtic response I would say, 'not hard'. In a very real humanistic approach we need to try to apply this to what we know if we hope to learn from these stories. Ask yourself, how in your life has someone's jealousy and actions changed and transformed you? Aoife was banished to go live with Manannán. Would a jealous lover not cause you to be repelled or seek exile from their presence? Perhaps even to move away and be alone with only the Gods and the ocean. A place full of vast openness always considered to be the place of unknown and unpredictable; which could be be said of anyones future. The part of Aoife being punished is also a theme to explore. When one feels jealousy, they act out of betrayal and harshness. Have you ever been jealous yourself, how did you feel and act? Though any such punishment we may bestow upon those we feel wronged by is only a mask of sadness we wear, not anger. In the end we are only punishing ourselves. 

   Let us examine the Crane in Celtic lore. It can be said that the bird is associated with knowledge or wisdom. It has its ties to the Ogham language as people could read omens from the position of the Cranes feet while it stood still on one leg, or even in flight. In the Irish Book of Leinster Midhir has three cranes which guard his fortress. They had abilities like that of being able to steal away an attackers will to fight. There are three Cranes which are said to guard the entrance to Annwn the Welsh Underworld. Three cranes stand upon a bulls back in a Gaulish carving. Perhaps the Crane speaks of the Goddesses dark aspects? With its loud cry it became later associated with that of mean and unpleasant women in later folklore. Though before this we can see in tales the Crane is a good omen, where Fionn MacCumhail's Grandmother shape-shifts into a crane to save his fall from a cliff when he was a child. In our esoteric studies we learn of the Crane Pose. This is where the individual stands on one foot, closes one eye, with a rock in one hand and pointing with the other. They turn the stone in their hands over and over, recite a certain style of poetry with their backs to a Hawthorn tree as they return ill will to the sender. Powerful stuff. 

What do we put into our Crane Bags and why?
   It is agreed that within our bags the items that are contained are symbols for other things. The power they have is in our ability to attach meaning and memory to them. Just as in Manannán's bag with his the shirt, helmet, and bones. These items were no doubt symbols for things, and not the actual items mentioned. Your items could be sacred objects from locations or pilgrimages, things that represent deeds done, or rites of passages you've been through. Your items could represent anything from the people you know to specific types of energy you work with. A common practice is often that objects being so personal are not for the common view of others or even anyone at all depending on the individual. It is the practitioners microcosm of their magical world. We use these items upon our altars for certain work, we use them for personal divination, and healing, and sometimes in a sort of chess game allowing us to place desired items at certain points; thus actively shaping our unseen world in hopes for a desired outcome.
    I make it a point to shape many (not all) of the items in my bag to form them into highly personalized items. For example a rock from a certain location may be altered by inscribing or carving a symbol upon it. This creates not only an object with a meaning and memory but one that has physical work put into it, forming it into something else entirely. I have two Crane Bags, one is my esoteric/magical bag, the other is a sort of modern Druid take on a EDC survival kit. To give you a good example of what is in my magical Crane Bag I will give you some of the basic items, without of course their private personal attributes:

     My crane bag is made of deer leather, and can fit the size of a giant phone book within it. It has a small inner pocket which often holds items for ready use. Like a pipe and a tobacco pouch. It is the over the shoulder style bag like a haversack. There is a triskele I painted very roughly with three cranes heads on the flap of the bag which was done in woad. The toggle style closure to it has an antler button from which a bear claw and an elk ivory dangle. From some of its hanging leather ties I have an Ice Age walrus tooth that is carved, hazel nuts with ogham, a small bone skull, a red squirrels tail, a ravens talon, a sea shell from Tintagel Cornwall, and an owl feather from New Forest England.
     Inside my Bag I have many small bags and some loose items. I have an Ogham set of the 20 trees each being from the corresponding tree. Many types rocks/minerals carved with various symbols. Teeth, bones, feathers, an owl and a hawk talon, rocks from many holy places in Ireland, Wales, England, a small piece of a castle in Scotland, turff from Ireland, a needle, thread and a thimble, a druids egg, a large carved piece of mandrake root, a hand carved pipe of Cernonnus, a broken harp string, a braid of hair, a boars tusk, carved figures on ice age antler, bog oak, bog yew, a rowan wand carved with ogham, a cloth for divination, old coins from over seas, sheep knuckles, Fidchell game pieces carved with ogham, a leather roll-out Fidchell game board, a promise ring cut in half! a seeing stone to magnify things, my sons umbilical cords, an effigy carved out of mistletoe, acorns, a sun dried Irish potato, an herbal smoking mixture, a salmons skull painted with woad, a flask of real Irish poitín, and various other things made from bone, stone, horn, antler, amber and wood. Sometimes I carry my Broze-Age replica Sickle, and my gold torc when not wearing it.
      As you can see, you can put what ever you want in your Crane Bag, as long as each item is highly personal and personalized. Sometimes I only carry certain objects with me, other times my bag is full. Wax and wane. Much of the power of these objects comes from the memories and associations they symbolize to you. Your bag is not a catch all, you don't just gather items and toss them into your bag. They are carefully selected, worked on and added with great purpose. They are your 'world' in microcosm, ebbing and flowing at all times.
    The question of why we hold certain objects with power or reverence could be looked at that in different ways. Perhaps the item does hold its own personal power, and that alone is enough. It can be a simple item like a feather or a river rock that just called out to you, and we didn't analyze it any further. We just knew where its home was; that being within our Crane bag. Another perspective is that you quested for an item, you might have been looking for an object to have in your bag designated for a certain individual like a grandparent, an ex, or even a child. Why do we gather such items? Why do some of them call to us? Why do we place value on them as important things to us? Maybe the more important question is, what do we do with them and how do we use them once we have them? That is not a topic I can address here, and is for the individual to find out for themselves. If you are interested in making a Crane Bag I would suggest some further reading on Celtic tales, meditation, and working with some inspiration to design your own. It need not be fancy, and might simply be a small cloth pouch worn on your belt, or even a sporran. Only you have these answers.