Gentlidecht – Finn, God of Fénidecht

In the article entitled Fénidecht I explain that the fiana are part of an Indo-European cultural phenomenon that have been associated with wolves and werewolves, also called ‘wolf warriors’ (McCone, Werewolves, Cyclopes, Diberga, and Fianna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland, 1986, p. 16).   If you do a search for other examples of this institution you will find warrior hunter gods to which these groups were associated, but not for the fiana. This could be due to the fact the Irish had an oral tradition, and stories of their gods did not start to get written down until the 5th century by Christian scribes who altered and hid the mythologies while other Indo European people were writing down their stories or would be writing them down before Christianity could fully take hold of the culture.   It could be that the Irish did not have a deity associated with the wolf warriors, but that is unlikely given that hunting and warrior bands were a core part of Irish culture and other Indo European (IE) cultures have stories of such gods.  No, I suspect the truth is that the Irish god of the ‘wolf warriors’, the hunt, and wild places is the well-known deity turned hero, Finn mac Cumall.

Continue reading

Fénidecht – Prayers of the Féinnid

Most of these can be found on this blog dating back 4 years.  I am consolidating and re-sharing them now to kick-start the year with something on topic.

Daily Declaration

Warrior, hunter, poet, seer, outsider, I am what is feared by the ‘things that go bump in the night.’ With truth in my heart, strength of my arms, and constancy of my tongue, I walk the boundary between worlds and stand at the borders guarding against the unknown. Armed against those who wish to harm; I am the wolf, I am the prey, I am the wild hunt.  I am a guardian between the realms, a wild beast in the wood, a féinnid defending my people.

Pre training devotional

As I prepare my mind, body and spirit for the stresses of combat I call on Scáthach, teacher of Cuchulain to guide me.
I offer the pain to be felt, sweat to be dropped and blood to be spilt to you as my sacrifice in payment for your guidance.

A Processional Prayer– Written for use at Public events in which I remained outside of the ritual.

Finn, Chieftain of the Fiana hear our call.
For we stand at the boundary between Order and Chaos, the civilized and the wild.
As the tribe gathers we come to observe and protect.
We shall fear no man, nor beast, and nor spirit.
We shall challenge any who come to do the people ill.
Gods and ungods of the people, know that we are here and we are allies.
With spear and shield we will protect the people, aid the people and sacrifice ourselves for the people.
We stand at the boundary between Order and Chaos, the civilized and the wild.

Warning and offering to the undesired. – When I was working on my initial ADF rituals I was prepared to include a section for the Outsiders, I took the aggressive approach.

Spirits of ill intent, dare not approach for I will bar your way.
Unwanted guests, I am steeled against you and will bar your way.
Dare not approach and an offering will be made.
Accept this bargain and peace there shall be.


If you enjoy reading my musings and writing, please share my blog on your social media outlets – John

Fénidecht – Disaster Preparedness: Getting Home

As part of the prepping exercise in 2014, I built myself a “get-home-bag” to keep in my car in case something occurred while I was at away from home that required me to either shelter in my car for a period of time, or hike home.  No part of this planning included bugging out of the area so the resulting pack was small.  In the past two years I have reviewed backpacking blogs and site, mapped out my various routes home, and had some experiences that have changed my perceptions.  While my initial attempt was solid for what I knew, I see the pack now as wishful thinking and probably would not have helped me as much as I would hope.

Continue reading

Fénidecht – Disaster Preparedness: Getting out of dodge.

Back in 2014 I completed an exercise in preparedness and created a  Zombie Apocalypse Go-Bag and then shared my results.  Since then I have taken the bag with me whenever I have gone on  over-night travel more than 60 miles from home.  In doing so I realized the bag I chose was a poor choice, that I didn’t have any idea how to pack such a bag, and that I may not have made the best choice in the items I chose to pack.  So I took to the web and read what the experts had to say; not preppers but recreational backpackers.  The folks who know how to pack, hike, and survive for 5+ days in the bush.  What I learned forced me to make some changes, and now I share what I have learned with you.

Continue reading

OPED – Celebrating the Frost? Let’s not.

Yesterday a man died. That man advocated for ritual initation of post-pubescent minors into his brand of Wicca via sexual intercourse. He never backed down from this position. While never charged with a crime, the very advocacy of this particular crime makes him a disgusting individual that should not be honored.

We should not be celebrating this mans life. He died.

Time to forget him.

Good riddence Gavin Frost.

Fénidecht – Of injury and fatness…

A year ago I was injured during Krav Maga.  They call it tendinopthy but most people just call it ‘tennis elbow’, it was coupled with an actual tear in the tendon.  This resulted in pain and constant demotivation to do anything.  Even Zombies, Run! lost its shine.

I went to the doctor immediately after it happened but she didn’t make a diagnosis nor did she send me referrals.  She just said take some Motrin and let her know if it gets worse.  So I changed doctors.  By March I saw my new doctor and she immediately refereed me to an orthopedic doc and sent me for an MRI.  The ortho doc made the diagnosis and sent me to an occupational therapist with a hand and arm specialty.  Best thing ever.

Now a year later my elbow is fully healed and I know stretches to keep it from happening again.  The problem is, I have done nothing to maintain my weight loss in that year and am back up to about 10 pounds under where I started, but 15 higher than where I was when I got injured.  Even with running, it is too infrequent for weight loss, even though I am consistently hitting 5k in 45 minutes…nothing impressive mind you but better than last year.

The point of this brief post is to tell everyone that you can’t allow injury to reverse everything you have worked to accomplish.  I grant you that there are instances in which you simply can’t do anything but if you can move, you can exercise SOMETHING.  What could I have done with a busted elbow?  I could have run more and done just about anything with the core.

Today – I started over.  Did some cardio, some core, and the heavy bag. After 30 minutes I walked away with wobbly legs and a sore shoulder.  But it felt good to be doing something again.  Now to get back to my Krav Maga classes.

Don’t be a fool like me.  Don’t give up.

Fénidecht – Escaping a Zombie Apocalypse

I do not consider myself a ‘prepper’ or a ‘survivalist’.  I do not expect the world to fall apart anytime in my lifetime.  However, natural disasters do occur and putting in some time and money to be even a little ready is harmless.  So, I did an exercise in preparedness and this post is what I came up with for two people evacuating their home without a destination.

911, Katrina, Sandy, three events that have left even the least most paranoid person with a sense that something could happen that would force one to flee their house, community or even the region.  Or maybe you don’t want to flee, you want to shelter in place.  In either instance you have to have a plan.  Part of the training of the Féinnid is to put together such a plan, to include what some call a bug-out kit.  A kit with everything you need to survive in urban and rural environments with minimal planning.  This post is about my bug-out kit in instances where sheltering in place is not an option.

The kit I put together has a higher cost than is necessary as I did purchase a couple all-inclusive-kits such as medkits and survival kits which you may be able to put together cheaply once you know all the contents.   Everything fits into or onto a single backpack or can be slung over the shoulder independently without too much trouble.  Weight wise the kit comes in at less than 30 pounds without clothing or toiletries that would have to be added at the time of departure.  

When deciding to do this I had to figure out what exactly my plan would be and then build to that.  What I came up with was a worst case scenario in which I have less than 24 hours to evacuate and no place to evacuate too.  This meant preparing to live in primitive conditions for at least 48 hours with a mind towards a hike into the mountains.

To start the kit I had to choose a backpack.  I ended up with a black 80 liter pack with a frame and plenty of loops for straps.  The bag itself has a water collar and even a cover in case it rains.  It has pockets on the top, center, both sides and of course a cavernous main section.  The main section can be accessed from the top or the bottom.  This is key as it will allow easy access to any of your supplies.

The next choice was water, food and shelter.  For water and food I chose a kit that was designed for 1 person for 48 hours.  In it are water packets as well as 2400 calorie ration bars.  I also added a LifeStraw, water purification tablets, and a 2 liter canteen as it is clear that the water provided in the kit would not last long if the weather is hot.

Shelter can be a small tarp held up by a single stick, or you can purchase a small 2 man single pole tent .  Part of the shelter is your sleeping bag, and for this I specifically suggest the US Army Patrol Bag stuffed into a waterproof case and strapped to the lowest part of the backpack.  You should also throw in a space blanket to add to your ability to stay warm, these often come with survival kits and first aid kits if you go that route. 

 You will need a fire starting kit, not only to heat up food but to aid in warmth and safety.  Fire starting supplies should begin with a phosphorous fire starter kit and water proof matches.  Add to that some sort of saw, machete or hatchet to make wood collection go easier.  Also you may want to add an entrenching tool or folding shovel to dig a firepit making it easier to conceal and put out.

Put together a small first aid kit or buy one from any camping store.   With a little research you may be able to build one yourself rather inexpensively.   You should plan for this to contain a lot of supplies for cuts, gashes, strains and sprains, and possibly a broken bone.  So be sure to include gauze, tape, splints, gloves, medicated ointments and of course alcohol.  Your muscles will be sore if you have to hike due to traffic jams so also include pain killers.

You will need to know where you are going and plan to not have GPS.  Be sure you have current maps of your region and the region you intend to get too as well as a compass and a flashlight.  If you don’t know how to read a map or use a compass, don’t wait until a disaster strikes.  Learn some basic orienteering now.

Knowing what is going on in the world is just as important as survival.  You will need a radio receiver that operates on something other than an electric plug.  The one I chose is from Sportsman’s Guide and has a crank that charges the batteries but can also run on solar and when fully charged will be able to charge up a cell phone, assuming you can get service.

What you wear will help protect you from animals, insects, and the elements.  While I do not suggest you pre-pack all of your clothing you can pack a few items.  Underwear and socks are the easiest items to pre-pack and you should pack at least 3-4 pairs of each.  Your socks should be good well made socks made for hiking.  When disaster does strike you should be putting together pairs of jeans, long sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes.  If it is cold be sure to add  inner-wear such as thermal underwear, it will get cold.

Once you have the above kit put together you can add items to it that will help you survive longer or more comfortably.  For eating have added a military messkit, eating utensils and a can opener.  I added 50 feet of parachute cord in case things need to be tied down, or hung up in a tree.  I also added a  LifeStraw Family Filtration System, since I will be with my family and it is much easier to fill up canteen with this and I don’t like water purification tablets.  I also added a large fixed-blade knife to the pack for large cutting jobs, such as dressing an animal or carving into wood.

The more controversial items you may choose to include are firearms and gas masks. A gas mask is only going to be useful during civil disturbances in urban areas so while I have them I expect to dump them once I get into the woods and use the bag to carry other items.  A firearm could be anything from a hand gun to a shot gun, but it should only be taken if you know how to use it.  Most people I know would take a long arm so they could use it to hunt and this is probably the best reason to have it.  Remember to carry ammunition for the firearm as well.

This seems like a lot of stuff that takes up a lot of space so you will want to keep your pack well organized.  This means that when you pack your backpack you are going to want to compartmentalize as much as possible.  Placing items into smaller sacks or cases within the backpack or putting smaller items in pockets on the outside of the  will make it easier to find and keep like items together.  You will also move some items from the pack to other locations when you hit the road.  For example, the canteen and gas mask can be carried on your belt or on the strap that comes with the case freeing up a lot of space inside the backpack for clothing and more food should you decide to carry it.  As it stands right now with my pack fully packed, less the clothing, there are still 4 empty pockets outside the pack as well as several liters of space inside the pack.

If you think of anything missing that is a must have or even just a comfort leave a comment.  With climate change and an increasing level of violence in our society you never know when you will have to bug-out, and we can all use all the help we can get.

Why I do not worship the Morrígna

Original Post

I must be one of the few people in the Irish polytheism community that does not worship the Morrígna is some way.  In fact, not giving her offerings is so important to me that we made it a rule within my group, that we would not allow anyone to make offering to any of the Morrígna in our group rituals.  Being one who has been involved in warriorship for most of my adult life, it confuses my peers when I tell them of
my total opposition to the worship of the battle goddesses known as Nemain, Badb and Morrigu  (I am leaving Anand and Macha out of this for now.) I was spurred to write this entry after reading about a
Temple of the Morrigan at Pantheacon run by a group known as Coru Cathubodua, the idea of a temple to these goddesses being established at a Neopagan gathering of hundreds of people actually scares me a little.
There are plenty of blogs out there written by people who I respect a great deal that go into all the reasons they worship the Morrígna, you can read one of them, Shadow of the Hooded Crow.  I am
going to focus on the reasons why I do not worship her and won’t be part of any ritual that does, except under a very specific circumstance.
The very first thing that must be understood is that I have seen war, rather I have seen the effects war has on people’s lives, psyche and most importantly their body.  During my time as a medic in the United States Air Force I was often pulled to a unit know as am aeromedical squadron.  These teams were the ones that transported patients from around the world back to the United States for treatment.  On a few
occasions this included Somali’s who were injured during their clashes.  All of the wounds we were  treating were either from gunshots or explosives, inflicted on men, women and children.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than helping a kid who has an arm blown off to eat.
Then there was the American helicopter pilot that had a phosphorous round explode in the cockpit.  Out of everyone on the crew, he survived…in a way.  I say that because when he came back to the United States he was still alive, but with +90% 2nd and 3rd degree burns.  We kept him in a coma so that he would not have to be in pain.  I saw his dressing change.  You simply cannot imagine what that looked like, or how it would make you feel if you saw it up close.
Finally, there is my friend.  He carried a ‘saw’ while deployed in Iraq.  The fact that his gun is called a ‘saw’ should give you a pretty good visual of what this gun can do.  During one patrol his squad came upon a kid no older than 14 with an AK-47 in his hands and walking towards the squad.  While the entire squad screamed and yelled for the kid to drop the weapon, he raised it to his shoulder.  My friend has a recurring dream of this incident, each bullet hitting that kid in slow motion.  It’s not a dream.  It’s a fucking nightmare.
That is war. War at a distance at that because I saw them all cleaned up or in the case of my friend learned of it second hand.  Imagine seeing those wounds fresh, or witnessing the events as they occured.  This is what the Morrígna want, they want death and blood and slaughter.  Even when making prophecy it is death and war that they prophesize.  No, they are to be respected and feared but I give them no offerings and I won’t be part of any ritual that does.A few years ago, I would be trying to convince people to think as I do on this topic and I tended to avoid having close relationships with people who did worship them (I no longer do this, nor think it is appropriate).  Even Alexi Kondratiev would on occasion try to explain why it is a bad idea to “invite them into your home”, his term was “psychopath”.  As it is, I know some very nice people who worship one or more of the Morrígna and none of them have died a horrible death…yet.  So now my position is simple – Not in my house.  Easy to enforce and doesn’t step on anyone’s beliefs.
Addendum March 25, 2014.Dear reader, based on responses in other forums I feel it necessary to make this statement.  This blog post is about my experiences.  I understand that in the lore and your practices there is more to the Morrígna than just being a blood thirsty goddess of war but this is not a blog about her it is a blog about my experiences. Want to know all about her there are plenty of places to go, I suggest starting with
Addendum August 17, 2014.
The discussion with Alexi Kondratiev in which he used the term ‘psychopath’ to describe the Morrigan occurred at the Chesapeake Pagan Community Gathering in 2008.  I no longer try to convince people it’s a bad idea to worship any of the Morrígna (it is rude and inappropriate). And the comment about people not being killed by her “yet” is meant as a joke.  Lighten up.

Outlaws/Outsiders Part I – Fénidecht

The following article has been published in “Oak Leaves – The Quarterly Journal of Ár nDraíocht Féin” Spring 2014 Issue No. 64

If  you attend Neopagan festivals or belong to a public Neopagan group, you have likely encountered individuals who, while willing to participate in social activities, for specific and often spiritually-based reasons they are unwilling or unable to take part in the religious aspects. As Neopagans, we generally accept that from outside the community many of us appear different from the norm or don’t seem to fit easily into mainstream culture. It’s often this “otherness” that brings us together, despite the variety of our beliefs and practices. So it’s understandable that when our members seem committed to remaining apart from our most central religious activities, we may react with disdain, discomfort, or simply not know what to do with them. After all, what’s the point of belonging to a community if you don’t actually want to belong?

At issue is a basic misunderstanding: Neopaganism as a whole has not yet recognized the true  motivations and needs of these individuals, nor recognized that a historically-grounded role known as the ‘outsider’ can be a powerful spiritual path for its practitioners while also contributing to the broader
Neopagan culture.

Though every person has his or her own reasons for remaining on the fringe of their chosen community, this article will focus on the Gaelic based ‘warrior outsider’ path known as fénidecht. Presented here  from a historical perspective as well as a modern spiritual practice for those who identify as Irish or  Scottish polytheists, we look to the tales of the Irish warbands known as fiana for inspiration.

Ancient Fiana
 Up until the medieval period, communities of Indo-European descent were routinely harassed and, paradoxically, protected by bands of men living in the wilds. Often wearing the pelts of and referred to as wolves, these men  have had many names among many peoples, such as the French iuventus, Irish fíana, Germanic úlfhéðnar, Welsh gwyn , Greek krypteia, Gaulish gaesates and in Indo-European *koryos (McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 22, 30; McCone, Werewolves,  Cyclopes, Diberga, and Fianna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland 15). As in other cultures, the Irish fíana,  were typically comprised of temporarily disenfranchised youth (such as second sons without inheritance or uncontrollably rowdy adolescents), social outcasts, and self-imposed outcasts seeking recompense for offenses given outside the law (as in the case of Nessa, who sought  to avenge her foster father’s death at the hands of a fían). (McCone, Werewolves, Cyclopes, Diberga, and Fianna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland 13; Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in
the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 48-51). Living outside of established communities, these men formed an ancient counterculture; existing beyond the bounds and protections of their villages laws, they had their own rules and values.

Leading these outlaw bands were older warriors who for various reasons never transitioned back into the communities. Instead, they trained and fostered the young men (and if we believe the tales, sometimes women) who were sent to them to become féinnidi (singular féinnid).  Despite being part of the counterculture, these aging warriors were held in high regard by local leaders and ironically were often asked to enforce the established laws and defend towns and villages from outside forces. Despite such status, they remained outsiders in both their eyes and those of the people they protected. They lived
and worshipped their gods on their own.  (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 50; McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 20).
According to the lore, in Ireland these bands were led by gods and heroes such as Finn mac Cumaill; Nessa, daughter of the King of Ulster; the druid Cathbad; and many others named in the Ulster and Ossianic Cycles of Irish mythology. These roving warrior bands often raided the countryside, attacking farms and hostels, while at the same time defending Ireland against invaders from the Otherworld or across the sea as necessary (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic
Narrative Tradition 54-55). To join a warrior-band or fían required one to give up all claims to hearth and home and complete legendary feats requiring mental and physical discipline (Keating 349-350). Separate from their society, they had to fulfill the most crucial and highly valued roles for themselves, including those of hunter, warrior, poet, and seer. As he excelled in all these things, Finn mac Cumaill was often considered the epitome of the accomplished warrior outsider.

Modern Fiana
 The reality is that we no longer send our disruptive youth into the wilds to learn usefulness as hunters and warriors, or to keep them from making trouble for the community. However, outsiders do still play a role in 21st century culture. From the hermit living in his rural home to the soldier and his family
living next door, the outlaw motorcycle club you saw on the highway and the loner kid who seems slightly off to classmates and parents alike, modern life affords the intentional and unintentional outsiders many different lifestyles and expressions, and unlike in the past, they may or may not come together in counterculture groups. The hermit isolates himself voluntarily much like some ancient seers and poets while the soldier, also a volunteer (at least in the U.S.), is involved in a military lifestyle not so different from the warriors of old, and that is separated from regular society by the tasks they are asked
to perform. Some outlaw motorcycle clubs may be involved in criminal activity, while the loner kid is intellectually or socially in conflict with his peers. These are all examples of modern situations and lifestyles that can set people apart from their societies of origin.

So how does fénidecht manifest as a life practice in the 21st century with our cities, supermarkets, standing armies and police forces? The answer is complex due to the fact that those I know who identify themselves as féinnidi vary greatly. Though fénidecht manifests as a spectrum encompassing wildly different lifestyles, all are practitioners of fénidecht due to what they have in common.

To begin with there are the physical and mental aspects of the warrior/hunter, namely combat and survival training. Warriors are trained to fight and are expected to do so if the need arises. In the 21st century hand-to-hand training is the most available and does not come into conflict with any legal authority the way weapons may. The mental training a warrior goes through to cultivate survival skills typically includes simple plant identification and ideally the experience of a hunt. At minimum  warrior/hunters would know if they can and would kill for food, and it’s best if they test that
capability occasionally. An authentic practice of Fénidecht also requires that the warrior/hunter aspect of the path be sustained through non-combative physical training.

Following the old model, modern féinnidi should also be reading and writing poetry—in other words, practicing filidecht. As noted previously, in Irish lore Finn is held as the quintessential warrior outsider, and his command of poetry rivaled that of the more widely known bardic traditions. Filidecht is a basic and as essential a component of fénidecht as hunting or fighting skills (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 17-40). Further, the requirement for the
memorization and recitation of poetry comes to us from the stories of Finn and the initiation requirements to join his fían (Keating 349-350; Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn inthe Gaelic Narrative Tradition 248). Today, this requirement could be expanded  to include the writing of rituals and liturgy that they share with their communities.

Additionally, as the fíana had the ability to interact with and even enter the Otherworld (Dooley and Roe 13-15; Nagy, Shamanic Aspects of the “Bruidhean” Tale 302), it follows that modern féinnidi must  cultivate the skills of the seer. Unlike Finn and his fían we don’t physically cross the boundaries between the worlds, but through journeying and divination we can interact with the Otherworld to get answers
and seek aid for ourselves or our community.

Last but not least, as much as the ancient fíana conducted raids, they also defended their homelands and thus the communities to which they would eventually return to finish out their days as householders or
old men (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 51; McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 20). Because modern fénidecht
mostly live in communities rather than remaining camped in the wild, this defensive role must evolve slightly. Serving in the national or local defense industries, working with or on the police and firefighting forces, working in the personal or self-defense industry, doing festival and event security, and even participating in activism to protect your community’s interests are all ways in which the “defense of the people” can manifest.

Beyond the traditional roles and their associated skills that define féinnidi, another defining feature of Fénidecht is the worship of the gods of the Gaels, since this path is specific to the Irish and Scottish cultures from which Finn’s legends come. (As a side note, the same tradition of warrior outsider exists in the Welsh culture and is called gwynwyr in Middle Welsh (Lewis xi)). Many naturally worship the war
deities but there are also “outsider” deities, such as Manannan, Finn, and Brig Ambue.

Today’s Outsiders and Their Communities
 What I’ve described so far are practices familiar to many pagans, especially those who follow a warrior path. However, there is a distinct difference between warriors and warrior outsiders, namely  “separateness” from the larger community. Again, the reasons vary, but for those who identify with the fiana or for whom Fénidecht would be an appropriate path, those reasons typically have to do with differentreligious practices, views, or values that restrict what they are able or willing to share with others. For example, it’s common for Neopagan groups to work with a variety of deities from a variety of cultures in ritual space—but for a warrior outsider devoted to a particular god or Gaelic pantheon, this
kind of ceremony may be best uncomfortable, and at worst in direct conflict with his oaths.

So then what can an outsider or even a group of outsiders do for the communities to which they only peripherally belong? I have already covered a few things that féinnidi can do to contribute to the communities’ wellbeing, such as being part of defense efforts and contributing poetic and ritual material to the liturgies. But I believe Neopagan communities can provide more proscribed roles and open themselves to including féinnidi in yet more ways.

If affiliated with a group, féinnidi could participate in community rituals by acting as guardians—protectors outside the ritual itself—both in a physical sense as well as spiritual. When attending public festivals they could do the same—in fact, it was at a pagan festival where I first witnessed a large-scale  recognition of the outsider as the organizers gave them space and latitude to function as they saw fit. Some who follow fénidecht have composed prayers and ritual acts they perform during these community rituals either independently or together as a small, intimate group. The féinnidi could also come together, much  like their predecessors, as groups that aid each other in development in all areas of fénidecht and to celebrate the outsider lifestyle and spirituality. Part of this effort could include an exploration of the transitory nature of being an outsider.

After all, being a féinnid was never meant to be a permanent state, but a temporary one after which the individual would return to society (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 50-52). For most, this is still true. There are warrior outsiders who fluidly move in and out of society during different periods of their lives, and others whose status relates more to their profession or experiences, such as the soldier who is leaving military service or returning from war. This aspect of fénidecht has historically been addressed through rites of passage transitioning outsiders back to the community-at-large when desire or circumstance calls for it. The Gunderstup cauldron has a
depiction of one of these rituals and is described by McCone in detail (McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 28-29). But groups of féinnidi can do more than facilitate these rituals and transitions for their own  as members go through phases of being within the community and without—they can provide such work as a service to the broader community as well, facilitating rituals of ‘cleansing’ and ‘purification’ for others, such as the aforementioned soldier. (Lupus).

As you can see, Fénidecht is a modern, complex and valuable spiritual practice. It is my hope that in  exploring how those who practice fénidecht approach their spirituality and showing how these féinnidi
can support the Neopagan community, this article may inspire more groups to provide for the inclusion and spiritual development of these individuals in their organizations. As knowledge of this path spreads, I look forward to seeing the community learn how to acknowledge and accept the outsiders, and
give them a place and a voice, which is, ultimately, what all human beings—even self-described outsiders—desire.

Dooley, Ann and Harry Roe, The Tales of the Elders of Ireland: A new Translation of the Acallam na Senorach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Keating, Geoffrey. The History of Ireland from the Earliest Period Through the English Invasion. Trans. John O’Mahony. New York: P.M. Haverty, 1857. PDF Document.
Lewis, Timothy. A Glossary of Mediaeval Welsh Law Based Upon the Black Book of Chirk. London: University Press Manchester, 1913.
Lupus, P. Sufenas Virius. The Hidden Imbolc. 1 February 2011. 1 October 2013.
McCone, Kim. “The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian.” The Gaelic Finn Tradition. Ed. Sharon J. Arbuthnot and Geraldine Parsons. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012. 14-73.
—. “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Diberga, and Fianna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland.” Camrbidge Medieval Celtic Studies Winter (1986): 1-22. PDF.
Nagy, Joseph Falaky. “Shamanic Aspects of the “Bruidhean” Tale.” History of Religions 20.4 (1981): 302-322. PDF.
—. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition. London: University of California Press, 1985.

Synopsis of Kim McCone’s and J. de Vries’ Theory on the Gundestrup Cauldron

The short of it is that Prof. McCone theorizes that the Gundestrop Cauldron is associated with fiana like warriors of Gaul.  All based on the images on three of the inner panels of the cauldron.  I will paraphrase his work from his article “The Celtic and Indo-European origins of the fian” found in The Gaelic Finn Tradition published by Four Courts Press.

Panel 1 – This is the well known ‘Cernunos’ panel, the main figure with Gaulish parallels (see “Keltische Religion (1961 Pp106-7))  with horns on his head and the “hatching” of the clothing worn is indicative of fur.  A deer stands on the left and a wolf on the right, with the horns associating him with the deer and the fur possibly associating him with the wolf.  The implication being that he has attributes of both animals.  Above and below the figure are a goat and lion, which would have the same cultural attributes as the deer and wolf near Eastern or Balkan context.  Keep in mind that the cauldron most likely comes from Thrace, which was a mix of Eastern and Gaulish peoples.

Prof. McCone believes that the figure depicted is a patron of the *koryos the outcast warrior bands of Indo-European cultures such as the Fiana in Ireland.

Panel 2 – The second panel has hunters accompanied by hounds or wolves attacking large oxen.  Above each stands a spotted cat like figure that could be a leopard. The prey our doubtless to be aurochs with the leopard being another Balkan addition.  If the dog figures are hounds then they would be helping with the hunt, if wolves they could represent the ‘mascot’ of the hunters, who garments resemble that which is worn by the “Cernunos’ figure on the first panel.  The two outer men are wearing only britches and cap with the more seasoned leader wearing a garment covering his upper body.  With the stylized leaves, also found on the first panel, this could be a *koyros hunting party in the woods.

Panel 3 –  The third panel depicts a ritual, where a group of foot soldiers move towards a cauldron are dunked into the cauldron and come out as horseback warriors.  An initiation or cleansing from one status to another.  The bottom six soldiers are armed with spear and shield and are again wearing clothing as depicted on the ‘Cernunos’ panel.  At the front of the line of soldiers is a wolf facing the oncoming soldiers, with musicians at the end of the line.  The wolf is presumably the mascot and the young men are the ‘young wolves’ preparing for initiation back with the musicians also being ‘young wolves’ not yet ready for the transition but acting as assistants to the ritual.

I will quote McCone’s summary:

Whatever about some of the details, the crucial point here is that the three scenes from the Gundestrup Cauldron, just discussed, present clear evidence for a sequentially regulated Gallo-Thracian opposition between, on the one hand, spear and shield, and, on the other, a class of mounted warriors, progress from the former to the latter set being marked by a baptismal rite of passage. 

For my own part.  I have to wonder if the cauldron was actually used for such rituals.  Now that would be an amazing thing.

Further reading:

de Vries, J. Keltische Religion (1961), pp 104-07

Kim. “The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian.” The Gaelic Finn Tradition. Ed. Sharon J.
Arbuthnot and Geraldine Parsons. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012. 14-73.