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.
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.
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
Yesterday I announced on Facebook that my ADF grove is dissolving. Specifically, as of January 31, 2017 the ADF Protogrove called Five Rivers is dissolving. I am also allowing my membership in ADF to lapse for reasons that are not earth shattering nor to be made public. Sometimes, relationships just don’t work.
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.
Normally I would spend days and sometimes weeks working on a post so that I can cite all the material needed to convey my point. Today, I am going to write off the cuff and with few references on a topic that I believe should be obvious. Our warriors are coming home stained with the horrors and pain they have witnessed, with little in the way of transitioning from war to peace. This is not how it should be, this is not how it was with our ancestors, and we need to bring back those rituals and social constructs that allow for warriors to truly come home.
The idea that our returning warriors need some sort of ‘home coming’ to help them deal with they have seen is not new, yet our society has totally neglected this aspect of the warriors life. In the article “The Hidden Imbolc” PSV Lupus posits that Imbolc may have been a time when warriors were ritually cleansed and returned to society. Kim McCone presents a theory that the Gundestrop Cauldron depicts such a ritual using Gallic and Thracian imagery in his article “The Celtic and Indo-European origins of the fian” found in The Gaelic Finn Tradition which I summarize in “Synopsis of Kim McCone’s and J. de Vries’ Theory on the Gundestrup Cauldron“. Edward Tick, a leading expert on post conflict treatment of soldiers, has researched and published a book citing instances of how ancient societies may have dealt with issues faced by warriors returning to normal society in the book Warrior’s Return: Restoring the Soul After War.
A conversation online produced the idea that being involved in war stains ones soul, and that we need to go through some sort of process to remove the stain. In the hagiographies of Saint Brigid she used milk to remove the “diabolical signs” from the díberga (outlaw warriors) cleansing them and allowing them to return to normal society. So while the mental health community needs to take the lead on the various mental health issues, our religious communities should consider the spiritual harm done by being involved in or even witnessing the horrors of war.
But we can’t limit ourselves to only those who have seen combat. Despite the negative opinions some folks in the ‘warrior’ community have towards military personnel, the reality is everyone who has undergone indoctrination into the life of the professional soldier, has taken on the burden of the outlaw and has some degree of the ‘stain’ upon them. This calls for us to reconstruct the rituals of re-introducing our warriors to normal society and cleansing them of the ‘stain’. We need to do this at the community level, not as individuals. It takes a community to accept the warrior back and provide the support needed to return to society.
I have written articles, and lead presentations on this topic but now I am putting out a challenge. I challenge every community, every faith, every church, to develop some sort of “Warrior Return” ritual, cleansing, class, whatever you want to call it. Something that will aid the warrior spiritually in coming home and aiding them in removing whatever spiritual stains they may have acquired serving in the defense of our communities. It is the least we can do for them.
In March I attempted to write a response to John Becket’s article “The Lore vs. UPG – A False Dichotomy“, but ended up just sharing information on the triad Aisling, Ársaíocht, agus Agallamh as conceptualized by Erynn Laurie in her blog “Aisling, Ársaíocht, agus Agallamh: A Modern CR Triad.” This month I want to demonstrate why I reject the idea that UPG, or aisling in our terminology, is dismissed out of hand by folks involved in reconstructed faiths such as Gentlidecht by giving an example of how the triad has been applied to two subjects, one that was rejected and one that is accepted.
The most obvious example of UPG becoming accepted by reconstructionist is Manannan Mac Lir functioning as a psychopomp. For those who have not spent years reading every little detail of this god from original source material (translated and untranslated); there is not a single example of him acting as a ferryman for the dead. No song, no story, no sentence ever has Manannan in any known form leading the dead to the Otherworld. Every time Manannan is involved in Otherworld travel with a mortal that mortal is very much alive. However, over the past 20 years he has come to be known as a psychopomp among Wiccanate and recontructionists alike.
While some mistakenly just accepted him as psychopomp, others looked hard within the lore, ourselves, made offerings, asked questions, and then discussed our findings before coming to a conclusion. The final result was an acceptance that Manannan does function as a psychopomp when requested and it fits his over-all role of moving through barriers. The aisling, or UPG, becomes accepted as a reality and we all move on.
The application of the triad has also resulted in the rejection of a common UPG, namely that the Morrigan is a Mother Goddess. There are those who feel that the Morrigan, one of the Morignea, is a goddess of mothers and motherhood. When the idea was presented to the reconstructionist community it forced a lot of research, discussion, debate, more questions and finally a general rejection of the concept by reconstructionists.
The idea that all reconstructionists are hostile to the concept of UPG is no longer a true one, and those that are hostile are in the minority. The Genti application of the triad allows us to take aisling and break it down so that we don’t stray from too far from our root mission; the revive/reconstruction the pagan indigenous religion of Ireland.
Lá Fhéile Aibhneacha
(Law Ayluh Ow-wen-uch-ah)
2015 edition of the Festival of the Rivers ritual for Five Rivers Protogrove in Columbia, MD.
A question I have heard often asked, “What kind of offerings should we make to ….?” can often result in head scratching and uncertainty. In Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh I have made an effort to make the selection of offerings as simple as possible. My methods are based on 20+ years of experience working with the beings in question but by no means are these the only offerings or offering method they would accept.
Sometime in 1995 I wrote an article about Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) religion called “Neocelts: A Modern Celtic Religion.” Between 1995 and 1999 I updated and changed it four times until it was finally published in Connections Magazine as an article about a specific faith based on the CR methodology “Aurrad: Old Faith in a Modern World.” Things have changed since then but the argument of what to call a religion based on what we know of ancient Irish beliefs still rages on. However, this article is not about making an argument for what to call the religion, for that look at my November 2013 article Gentlidecht: Old Irish for (Irish) Heathenism. This article is to briefly explain what a form of Gentlidecht looks like, specifically what followers of Gentlidecht na gCuanaigh believe and what we do as part of our faith.
So, John Becket wrote an article called “The Lore vs. UPG – A False Dichotomy” filled with an opinion that makes it clear he is talking to the wrong (and at this time, minority) crowd. It is a re-hash of a stereotype that has been diminishing over the past 10 years to the point of being an annoyance to many of us who have used to the term “Celtic Reconstructionist” at some point in our careers. In working on my response I realized that arguing his points is not worth the energy spent and it would be better to provide a positive resource on the same topic.