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. ;) )

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Là Fhèill Brìghde 2015

This has been a busy Imbolc, so this will be brief. Here's our Là Fhèill Brìghde video. We made this last spring, so this is the first time we've had it for the festival day.

We've been continuing to work on the missing Manannán situation, and will have more materials out shortly.  For Imbolc proper, Annie got it together in the midst of it all to post Là Fhèill Brìghde links and stuff, as well as some lovely photos of Brigid's well and environs at her sanctuary in Kildare. Check 'em out, and we'll be back shortly.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Singing Manannán Home - New Video and Memes

image composite by Gaol Naofa at gaolnaofa.org

The search for the Limavady Manannán statue continues. As Gaelic Polytheists, as people involved in cultural preservation, we are continuing to assist the effort, via networking and raising the alert via the Gaol Naofa and CAORANN pages on Facebook and Twitter (Gaol Naofa Twitter, CAORANN Twitter), and now with a new video and some more memes.

For this video we have compiled some of the many, astonishingly beautiful photos of the statue and land in Limavady, County Derry, Ireland (Léim an Mhadaidh, Co. Dhoire, Éire), plus a prayer we are using to call Manannán home. This video also has the Manx lyrics synched up with the corresponding verses in the song, to better facilitate learning.

We are calling Manannán from wherever he is, to show himself in the world, and to reveal the whereabouts of the statue. If the statue has been destroyed, we will support efforts to have it replaced. But it is up to the people of Limavady, and the sculptor, John Darren Sutton. The Limavady town council has expressed interest in replacing it themselves. After all, they originally commissioned the piece as part of their sculpture and heritage trail. If their budget will not adequately cover a replacement, we have also promised to help with any needed fundraising. While it's impressive to see the worldwide attention on this, those of us in the diaspora need to remember that any fundraising - if it is even necessary - needs to go through the local community in Ireland, specifically the Limavady community, and not through any individual from outside that community.

These amazing photos were largely collected via the Facebook group, Bring back Manannan Mac Lir the Sea God.  All the photographs in the video and memes are used with permission from, and gratitude to, the photographers (see the video credits for the full list of participants). Feel free to share them to keep the search for the stolen statue on the front burner.

The theft continues to get a great deal of press in Ireland and worldwide, and in specialized media like The Wild Hunt, who quote Annie and mention our work with Gaol NaofaCalling Manannan mac Lir Back Home.  

See the update on the Gaol Naofa site for full details: Where is Manannán?

text copyright ©2015 Kathryn NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa and gaolnaofa.org

Monday, January 26, 2015

Search for Stolen Manannán Statue Continues

Gaol Naofa - Song for Manannán
Photo copyright © David Wright, used with permission. Song traditional Gaelg.
See our Midsummer video for the tune and pronunciation. Memeage by Kathryn NicDhàna

By land and sea and helicopter, by beaches, trails and roads, Irish people are searching for the stolen statue of Irish sea god Manannán mac Lir.

"Sea god Manannán mac Lir still missing after police search"

Locals in Limavady have issued a Missing Persons Alert:
Gaol Naofa - Missing Sea God
DESCRIPTION - A well known six foot tall striking local male with an athletic build. He has shoulder length hair held back with a headband and has a beard. We have concerns for his health in this weather as he is bare chested with only a thin shawl held at the neck with a decorative clasp to keep his top half warm. Evidence at the scene suggests he has injuries to his feet!

He is a very striking fella so if you have seen him please let us know.

Last seen standing at Gortmore viewing point Binvenagh Mountain around the 21st January looking out to sea.

Locals have searched the area and have completed an overflight to check he was not dumped in the area.
And a local funeral director is offering a reward for the statue's return.

On the polytheist front, we are making offerings to him, and singing his traditional songs. We are asking Manannán to help the police and citizens who are searching, and to spur someone who has information and is feeling uneasy to do the right thing and come forward with the truth.

Gaol Naofa - Manannán Meme
And a smaller version
While some are suggesting a co-ordinated, timed effort for the night of Jan 31 - Imbolc, this coming Saturday - we are not waiting for a particular night. We are on this right now.  Manannán is a guide and guardian of our Gaelic Polytheist and Gaol Naofa community, so we are singing to him every day and night. As we have been since this news broke and will continue to do until justice is done and he is brought home.

The many people who love this statue, be they polytheist, Christian, or any other religion or lack thereof, are sharing their photos on the Facebook page, Bring back Manannan Mac Lir the Sea God. While most are those who just love the statue as art and history, others are sharing altar photos as well.

This Manannán playlist has a video of sculptor John Darren Sutton creating the statue from the clay on up, along with local reactions to the theft (here on YouTube for those who can't get Northern Ireland TV news broadcasts) and more songs for him. For the tune and pronunciation of the Manx song in the meme above, see our Midsummer video in the same playlist. We will be adding more Manannán information and materials to the playlist as the situation develops.

Let's bring him home!