Monday, December 21, 2015

Grian-Stad Geamhraidh 2015

A Ghrian 1 translation ©kpn for Gaol Naofa

A Ghrian 2 translation ©kpn for Gaol Naofa

 Original images by Michael Kehoe and Susan

I changed very little from Carmichael's translation in the first half of this. Mostly I cut the "thees" and "thous". It's more in the second half where Carmichael's biases showed, in his choosing to translate "rìoghain òg" as "queenly maiden," whereas the meaning is more like "young queen" or "youthful queen."

As the goddesses with solar attributes are also associated with sovereignty,* this seems an odd change on his part. "Queenly Maiden" scans really well, though, so maybe poetic license also figured into it. One hopes. But it's not the only time Carmichael downgraded a goddess or spirit-woman this way. His collections of Gaelic prayers, songs, poetry and lore are invaluable, but between some sexism on his part and his atrocious handwriting, his translations always need to be checked. 

*At least in Áine's case. We really know very little about Grian. We are not even sure she was seen as a goddess. The idea of her being a goddess or powerful spirit-woman (and not just the name of the sun itself) is largely based on her having a hill near Áine's, and there being folklore that describes them as sisters. Beyond that, there are parallels in the Scottish "two suns" idea, so some of this is reconstructed and supported by shared visions, and not necessarily written in stone, per se. For more on Midwinter in the Gaelic lands, Áine and Grian, and our other main Scottish winter festival, Hogmanay, see our Winter playlist:

Friday, November 06, 2015

White people and "Indigeneity"

What is going on? You'd think after all these years of effort there would be improvement. But it seems every year we get a new batch of white noobs jumping on the ridiculous, offensive,  "Become Indigenous" bandwagon.

Look, of course "Indigenous" sounds weightier and more credible than "pagan" or "polytheist" or "animist" (or what the people doing this really are: Newagers).  Of course the terms in our own languages are hard for outsiders to understand. You know what? Too bad.

Colonizing Indigenous identity is racist.

Anyone can connect with the Earth. We all have ancestors who sang to the spirits and felt the power in the land. But we aren't them.

Yes, many of us follow revived traditions in the diaspora. But we have only been able to do that after several decades of hard work at that revival and reconstruction. We are in no way the same as people indigenous to a landbase who did not go through hundreds (if not millenia) of cultural disruption the way the European ancestors did.

Those of us who are born from colonizers, or who have even gone so far as to colonize traditional communities, Are. Not. Indigenous. Our religions, no matter how animistic, polytheistic, and earth-honouring, are not Indigenous, either.

As someone committed to preserving the ways of my ancestors*, who has taken the message of finding my own roots to heart, it angers and disturbs me to no end to see white nuagers plagiarizing our hard work and trying to use it to hide the fact that they are pretendians. (And thieves.)

So, for the record: Síla na Géige.
Published in hard copy ©1998 KPN, updated regularly on the web since then. Copyrights on file.

More detailed writings on our creation stories and The Spirit Women Who Shape the Land:  p.30, The Gaol Naofa FAQ   Copyright ©April 2012 in all printed and electronic media.

We have chosen to offer these things for free on the web, because we are opposed to commodifying the sacred. Feel free to be inspired by them and share them, with credit, in community. BUT, this has never been an invitation to plagiarize us, to use our words, our research, our personal experiences, or our creations without credit. Even worse, and shocking, is for nuagers to rip us off and then try to use our work to set themselves up as some kind of fake "Celtic Animist" or "Indigenous Celtic", pray to pray operation. If you see someone doing this, confront them. We appreciate it. And if we have to, we know some excellent copyright lawyers if retractions are not forthcoming.

And of course: Colonists, Descendants of Colonists, and "Indigenous" Identity

And: On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity

*Note on ancestry: My ancestry is way more diverse and rich in melanin than I knew growing up. But while that is interesting, and has led me to find cherished relatives, the family culture I was raised in is overwhelmingly Irish/Scottish-American, and as I pass as white to anyone who looks at me in person, I have white privilege. I grew up in Irish American and Irish immigrant communities, and have for many years now worked in collectives with relatives in the Celtic Nations and the First Nations. #AppropriationIsNotSolidarity

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Prophecy of the Morrígan - Memes for Samhain

Here in the mountains we've had our first snow shower, and our first hard freeze, so technically the festival of Samhain is here (despite it not yet being November).

Annie and I have been continuing to make memes, and here are some I've done for the Prophecy. Links below to my full translation.

Prophecy meme – Number 1 - by Kathryn NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa 
Original image: Colin Whittaker

Prophecy meme – Section 2 - by Kathryn NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa 
Original image: Chad K

Prophecy meme – Section 3 - by Kathryn NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa 
Original images: Michael Kötter (coo) and Wikimedia Commons (background)

Prophecy meme – Section 4 - by Kathryn NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa 
Original image: (used with permission)

Prophecy meme – Section 5 - by Kathryn NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa
Original image: Moyan Brenn

The original Irish prayer here is from Cath Maige Tuired. 
For the full prayer in one piece, see my post from 2012, or the Gaol Naofa Memes page. For the fully-footnoted version exploring my translation of this traditional piece, see our Prayer in Gaelic Polytheism article.

In ancient Ireland, a great war is said to have taken place between the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians as they fought for the right to rule Ireland. The tale of this conflict is told in the Cath Maige Tuired (The Second Battle of Mag Tured), and the final battle took place Samhain, with the Tuatha Dé Danann being victorious.
Conflict, death and chaos are common themes associated with Samhain in Irish myth and folklore, but out of this conflict comes a resolution of peace. At the end of the Cath Maige Tuired, the Morrígan (or Badb) relates a rosc (a particular type of Irish poem, which is often written in obscure or archaic language), proclaiming victory in battle, and giving a prophecy of things to come. As Samhain approaches, it seems only appropriate to reflect on these themes, and the message of the Morrígan's words. As a prayer for peace, you might also wish to incorporate the words into your celebrations. The images collated here (five in all) each contain a section of the prayer. You can also view our video of it, which we released on our youtube channel last year:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lá Fhéile Mhacha / Là Fhèill Mìcheil / Harvest

In honour of Là Fhèill Whatever, we've made an Autumn / Lá Fhéile Mhacha / Là Fhèill Mìcheil playlist, which includes several examples of earth-honouring, community traditions that survive in the present day. We have practical demonstrations of wheat-weaving (if you want to make a Cailleach figure for the harvest), the Cailleach an Dùdain (Old Woman of the Mill Dust) song, footage of the Riding of the Marches in Scotland, and of course the Seaweed Molly festival.

The Riding of the Marches is pretty clearly about boundaries - namely the practical act of checking the fences and edges of the territory, and perhaps there's also something spiritual here. At Samhain, hard choices - literally life and death - need to be made by those who raise livestock; Samhain is traditionally the time to decide how many animals can make it through the winter, and how many are going to be slaughtered for meat. At this festival, those who farm are bringing in the last of the grain, so this figures into the winter planning as well, and is clearly symbolized by the slowest person to finish the harvest having to support the Cailleach for the coming winter. It would also make sense that those with the largest fields need more time to bring all the grain in, so this tradition could be a way of recognizing that personal abundance calls for community responsibility - if you have more than you need, proper hospitality and honour leads one to want to share that abundance with those who don't have enough. And maybe having your neighbors toss the Cailleach at you is a way of making sure everyone upholds that bargain.

The Seaweed Molly rite is about giving back to the sea - making an offering of gratitude and thanks that the sea spirits have been kind this year, and not taken back (drowned) any people from the community. I also find it touching that the modern survival has these young surfers and lifeguards carrying the Molly doll (much like a Brideóg) from door to door and recieving honours and gifts for their part in maintaining community safety: Another safe year of swimming in the sea. How fitting that they then paddle out to make the offerings to the spirits on behalf of the community that they help protect.

Slàinte Mhath! 

For more detail on all of the above, see our other recent posts over at the Gaol Naofa Facebook page.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lá Fhéile Mhacha

Lá Fhéile Mhacha for Gaol Naofa 

As seen in our Michaelmas video, the feast of St. Michael on Sep. 29 preserves many seasonal Gaelic customs, though they are mostly the same as ones observed at Lá Lúnasa or Oíche Shamhna in other regions. Pre-Christian deities whose qualities were inherited by Michael include Macha and Manannán.

Manannán already has his own festival at Midsummer. While many of us honour Taillte at Lúnasa, and the Morrígan at Samhain, perhaps Macha also deserves a festival of her own: Lá Fhéile Mhacha.

Like Michael, Macha is also associated with horses and the fields, and the traditional horse races held at this time could be dedicated to her, along with the swimming of the horses, the walking or riding the boundaries of the fields, and the baking and offering of the bannock/strùthan.

The Cailleach is also relevant now due to the equinox sunrise illuminating the inner chamber at Sliabh na Caillí/Loughcrew in Ireland. The last sheaf of the harvest is called the Cailleach, and the Cailleach an Dudain ("The Old Woman of the Mill") dance is also traditional at this time.

Which deities we honour at these festivals can vary a bit with our differing bioregions, as well as which deities we have more affinity with and other factors that affect our households. Whoever you honour at this festival, we wish you a good one!

Photo collage from Creative Commons images by efilpera (horses)  and Duarte JH (field)
Text excerpted from 'Moladh Mhacha'
Adapted from 'Moladh Moire' [257] by KPN for Gaol Naofa
For the full prayer visit our meme page

Feel free to share this meme, as long as you link back to either our meme page or our facebook post.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gaol Naofa Memeage

Those of you who follow us on social media may have seen the memes we've been creating. We've added a page to the site to archive the ones we've done so far, and where we'll be posting more in the future: Gaol Naofa Memes. We've been working with a mixture of proverbs, prayers, triads, and quatrains from various Goidelic sources, doing our bit for language preservation and providing links for further info. For regular updates follow us at our Gaol Naofa Facebook page and Twitter account.
Gaol Naofa – New Moon
Original image: Dawn Perry

Monday, August 24, 2015

New Video - Offerings in Gaelic Polytheism

We've been getting visual :)

More details about the offerings video on our YouTube channel, and in an update over on the Gaol Naofa website.

Gaol Naofa - Dùrachd
Photo credit: John McSporran, used under Creative Commons Licence.

We update more frequently over at our Facebook page, so if you haven't, come visit us there. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Manannán Statue Found! - Fáilte a Mhanannáin!

Just a brief note to thank everyone who has searched, sung, prayed, and searched some more. No news yet as to whether the damage done by the vandals can be adequately repaired, or if a new statue will need to be commissioned. Apparently he was hanging out in the forest.

Busy now, but Annie has more details here: Manannán statue found!

Also check out her New video: New moon post, for more on this "black moon" thing.

We are all relieved he has been found, and hoping the damage is not too severe.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mooon. Sacred.

Some Gaol Naofa website updates and another video. This is supposed to be one of those new moons that, once visible, will be larger-looking than usual, low on the horizon. Haven't seen it yet. Go look outside at sunset and see if you can spot it.

(thanks to Ryan for the title. ;) )