Ravemore's Notes

A little meandering… Pagan reflections on a left hand path.

Category: Myths

Alp-luachra

Muirne sat in the tavern shadows, resting from a long day on the road. Smoke tendrils were thick and created a haze around the fire in a nearby stone hearth and the tallow candles on the half dozen or so wooden tables spread throughout the common area. The smell of roasted pork and potatoes permeated the room. She had been looking intently at the skinny and nearly emaciated man seated at a nearby table. He was working on his fourth platter of food, stuffing his face as fast as he could. He had the look of a desperate and haunted man. The inn keeper was also watching him, and was muttering to his portly wife while casting furtive glances towards the ravenous man.

Murine got up from her comfortable spot and glided over to where the man was eating. He barely glanced at her when she sat down next to him. She smiled and leaned in towards his ear and whispered “You are being consumed by greed… but not your own. Do you wish to be free from this curse?” He dropped his fork, nodded, and a tear dribbled down his cheek, to his chin, and then dripped onto his worn shirt. He whispered back, “I cannot live like this any longer.” With this Murine motioned the inn keeper over and ordered a quarter slab of salted beef. He raised an eyebrow, but quickly scooped up the handful of long cross coins she laid on the table and hurried off to do her bidding.

After the dried and salty meat was placed on the table she instructed the skinny man to eat it. He did so… tearing into it like a starving dog. After a few minutes he reached for his mead tankard, but Murine deftly moved it out of his reach and commanded him to eat more. He ate the salted meat until his tongue began to swell and he begged her for drink. She cast his mead to the floor, stood up, and commanded him to follow her outside. He obeyed her without question and followed as instructed. She led him down the dirt road running in front of the inn, but veered off near a stream that passed under a small stone bridge. After they were out of sight from the road she turned to the man and said “Lay on your back near the water and look to the sky. Open your mouth wide, keep it open, and do not close it until the time is right… and you will know when that time comes. Under no circumstances are you to drink of the water from the stream.”

The skinny man nodded and did as he was told, the sound of the running water nearly driving him mad with desire to slake his thirst. After a few minutes of laying on the ground in the feeble light of a half moon, his eyes widened and filled with a look of horror. Two thin, gangly, arms shot out of his open mouth and a creature began to pull itself free from between his crooked teeth. Its flesh was pale, like a dead bloated fish. The man’s lips were stretched further, and the corners of his mouth split with a slight pop as his jaws were distended. His eyes bulged and his skin began to turn blue from lack of air as his mouth gave birth to a spindly little humanoid with large round black eyes containing no whites. The creature wailed, cursing vehemently as it struggled to pull itself free from the man’s mouth. Finally, with great effort it dragged itself out and leapt for the water, drinking it fast like an animal deprived of water for days. The skinny man scrambled to his feet and ran to where Murine leaned against a tree, yelling “What the Hells!?” She merely shrugged and said, “It is called Alp-luachra, of the Sidhe, a fairy creature and a follower of the Unseelie Court. It consumes your sustenance as you eat it, depriving you of nourishment until you either take your own life… or die of starvation” The man then ran toward the road, casting fearful glances behind him, and was never seen in those parts again. He grew old in another county… and told this story often to any willing to listen. (22)

The Watchers and Nephilim…

Éabhla watched her son Demna sleep next to the dying embers of the hearth fire coals. It had been eight years since she had given birth to the boy, none but her knowing his father was the Goat God of the Witches. The feeble light bathed the small cottage room in an orange light, and she quietly mulled over the words of the stranger who had come to the village three days earlier. He was a smith and artificer claiming to be a traveling merchant of metal wares, and his skill and merchandise was the subject of much awe and admiration. He was obviously a master of his art. He offered his name as Tubal Cain… a strange and foreign name. Earlier that evening, after the boy was asleep he had knocked on her door. She had allowed him entry, as she was a witch of great power and had no fear in her heart. Fear was an emotion that had died on that terrible night so long ago. The tale he told to her was fantastic, but in her heart she knew it was nothing but truth.

The old man was very tall, and his skin dark. He smiled benevolently as he sat at the small wooden table in her cottage. His voice was low, and strong… but kind. “Éabhla, the Master has sent me for the boy. He will be a great leader among men someday, and he requires instruction in the mysteries, battle, and kingship. He is more than man, as you know all too well. He requires tutelage away from Danu’s Third Children until the time is right for him to return.”

Éabhla’s heart fell, and a great sadness filled her. The boy was precious. Tubal Cain smiled reassuringly. “Do not fear Daughter of Danu, you will see him again. The auguries foretell it.” She straightened herself in her chair and leaned forward asking quietly “Tubal Cain, tell me more of yourself and my son’s destiny.” She sensed sorrow, or perhaps tiredness, from the old man as he nodded his head and spoke. “I am old Daughter of Danu… very old. I hearken from a faraway land, and from a time far in the past. Like your son, my father was not of men, but my mother was of the Third Children created by the Great Goddess. As a young man I committed a great crime and was banished by my people, but my father placed a mark upon me by which I would be known… and any who would do me harm would feel the full power of his curse.” He bared his left forearm and she glimpsed a strange symbol burned into his flesh. “In those early days man began to multiply on the face of the earth, and the Fomori were still in exodus from our world after the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh, but some resolved to remain and watch over man. For this they were labeled “Fallen Ones” by the Fomori tribes… hated and despised for bringing The Light to mankind. They numbered 200 and were spread throughout all lands where men scavenged or tilled, for they were not confined only to your country, but were known to have inhabited many other places. Some of the most powerful of The Watchers were Araqiel, Armaros, Azazel, Gadriel, Baraqel, Bezaliel, Chazaqiel, Kokabiel, Penemue, Sariel, and Samyaza. Cernunnos was the greatest among The Fallen Watchers, before he ascended to Godhood at the Great Mother’s bidding. The other Watchers serve him unquestioningly. They taught chosen individuals among Danu’s Third Children dark arts, powerful enchantments, mathematics, and astrology to name but a few, but they also saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they took human mates and thereby bore children. Even now this happens from time to time, as well you know. The children of these unions are known as “Nephilim” in an older tongue. They are destined to be great and mighty men of renown. They are often taller, stronger, smarter, wiser… more than mortal men. To fulfill their destinies they must be shaped upon the anvil, tempered, and honed. This is for the benefit of all mankind.

After a long silence he rose from his chair, but before Tubal Cain left he walked to the boy’s bedside and gently moved a lock of golden hair aside. “Éabhla, when he returns he will be known as Fionn, and after this night you should take upon yourself the name of Muirne and leave this place. You will see your son again six years from now… the auguries foretell it. I will return in the morning for my brother and we will depart. He then made his way to the door, offering a gentle and comforting smile as he left. The sadness in her heart was replaced by hope.

Wandering Near the Hedge…

Aodhan breathed in the crisp mountain air, felt the chill of the evening on his bare skin, and smelled the acrid smoke from the embers of his smoldering campfire. His body was weak from fasting, and his mind felt light as a butterfly flitting on a breeze. The rhythmic chant he had been reciting silently over and over for hours had begun opening his awareness beyond the bounds of normal perception. He sought a better understanding of the mysteries of The Craft… knowledge forbidden by the Christian clergy and classified as a profane heresy punishable by death. A dense fog had begun to seep out of the loamy soil, and soon the night was clothed in a blanket of mist. He continued to chant… and his mind wandered closer to the hedge.

“By Horns and Hooves of the great Goat-Foot God,

Keeper of knowledge unflawed,

Bearer of the arcane flame of awakening,

I seek. I ask. I yearn. I’m craving.”

He continued to chant, oblivious to the passage of time… and his mind wandered ever closer to the hedge.

Aodhan heard some rustling in the brush to his right. He turned his head slowly, fearful that an interloper had found his camp and that he would be exposed. He saw no one and breathed a small sigh of relief, the gut wrenching feeling of dread quickly dissipating… but a perplexed look gradually crept across his face. He saw that his breath did not form a vapor when he exhaled into the chilly night air. In fact, he could not feel the cold on his skin at all. He quickly climbed to his feet and his jaw dropped in amazement. He saw himself sitting where he had just risen from, still chanting and deep in trance. He turned slowly in a circle, bewildered, and stopped when he heard a throaty chuckle from the shadows. The raspy voice following the chuckle did not instill any fear in him… it had a comforting quality about it. “

“Third Child of Danu, you come seeking Light in the Shadows… and there is no better place to seek it.

It is in the Darkness where Gnosis can be found. It is where you can cast your soul into the crucible and emerge pure and refined. A Witch’s Blood is drawn to it, is excited by it, and becomes hot like the fires of the forge.

Do you come to the Shadows to place yourself on the anvil?”

Aodhan nodded his head in the affirmative, unsure who was speaking to him. “Yes, I come to learn all you will teach me.”

Out from the gnarled trunks of some nearby trees a great shadow detached itself and approached the camp fire. As it came closer Aodhan could see it was a huge man with the massive head of a goat. Cloven hooves sank deep into the earth from his massive size and weight. He motioned for the young man to sit, his eyes reflecting the firelight like a nocturnal animal as he crouched next to the fire. Aodhan quickly bowed his head in reverence and sat as instructed. He knew he was in the presence of a God.

The Goat God of the Witches then began to speak, his low voice nearly a whisper.

“I will impart some wisdom to you child. What you do with it is entirely within your judgment.” He then uttered many secrets to the young man… a few of which follow.

“The pleasures of the flesh are a pathway to power. Embrace them. Be wary though, when they become the object of desire instead of the key to discovery, you will reside in a prison of your own making.

The serpent is a sacred creature. It will often seek you out to offer the fruit of knowledge. Eat of it, that you may know me and emerge into infinite and diverse possibilities.

Three is a powerful number.

The blackest magic can falter under the light of Lugh. Work them and conceal them where the Sun does not touch.

There is great power and great danger in True Names. Guard yours and diligently seek out others.

Value Knowledge and Wisdom above blind faith and servitude.

Separation from the Natural Order is a prerequisite for Godhood. Yet, the Natural Order is necessary to maintain Godhood.

There is great power in the feminine. It is a cornerstone of The Mysteries.”

There was much discussion in the darkness as the Goat God instructed. He wove his teachings into elaborate stories and allegories, presenting challenges for Aodhan to ponder and work through, giving him insights into mysteries he would most likely struggle with in the course of many lifetimes. As the Witching Hours drew nigh to their end though, Cernunnos, God of the Witches bade Aodhan farewell with a simple gesture of his hand and a low grunt. The young man bowed his head in reverence, uttered a short prayer of gratitude and thanks, and when he looked up again the towering presence of the Light Bringer was no longer there. He could still smell the Goat God’s musky odor though, as it hung about the camp. He also keenly felt the cold and could see his breath in the air. He was again in his body. The coals of the dying fire flared briefly and ignited of their own volition, and with the fog and mists now gone, Aodhan could see the twinkling of the Morning Star on the eastern horizon.

Lares

Ancestral spirits who protect the home and hearth, all cultures seem to have them in one form or another… but the word “Lares” just seems to roll off the tongue and feels good. The dead often self-bind themselves to our physical world, delaying their journey on the Low Road, and the living relatives that they leave behind are often the reason. Love, duty, honor… they are all strong concepts that carry over. As long as we give them reasons to tarry, and a sense of purpose, those spirits will remain with us to watch, protect, and comfort. Small devotional altars, or shrines, are recommended. Pictures or mementos of our ancestors, things that were important to them should be placed there. Offerings of incense, food, and other comforts should be made on a regular basis to let them know we think of them and appreciate their sacrifices and attention. If you have a hearth or fireplace, that location would be ideal, and failing that a kitchen, as they are areas intimately tied to the family structure, places where family members come together to prepare food, eat, and ward away the darkness and cold of the winter months.

Shrines are always very personal creations, and there is no right or wrong way to build one. No exact measurements. No specific items to be placed on them. I always love seeing pictures and reading about other people’s shrines. Look around for inspiration, particularly in those cultures that have been practicing this art for ages… there are many.

Manannán mac Lir – A Story

Seamus, a young man of only 16 years, sat at the crest of a long wind swept dune near the tree line on a very small island. There were more rocks than trees though, and the small thickets of vegetation were bent and gnarled from constant seaborne wind. He watched the rolling breakers hitting the shore, tears streaming down his face. His ship had wrecked on nearby rocky shoals, and he had been the only survivor to make it to land. He could still see the remains of its masts and rigging bobbing among the flotsam and jetsam littering the waves. He felt like retching. He remembered only a week before, his pappy telling him to make an offering to The Lord of the Waves… and he had heeded that advice. He remembered dropping his only silver shilling into the sea with a short prayer to Manannán mac Lir. A coin he had earned working the potato fields near Dublin, waiting for his chance for employment on the fishing boat. It seemed the gesture had been in vain though. It had been days since he had eaten and he felt his body weakening. He had found small reservoirs of stale water in the stumps of a few trees… but those were being used up rapidly.

Lost in his thoughts and despair, he did not notice the other man on the island until he was nearly upon him. He was tall, dressed in old style oiled leathers, and carried a large wool crane bag on his shoulder. Shoulder length hair was bound in a braid. Seamus was speechless. He saw no ship, and could not comprehend how this man came to be there. The man strode up to him and stood there, silently appraising him. Seamus stuttered out two simple questions: “Who are you, and where did you come from?” The man smiled gently and gestured for silence. He collected dead wood while Seamus watched, and when he had a decent sized pile, bent near it and whispered a few strange words. The pile burst into flames, and Seamus’s eyes widened in disbelief. The man then reached into his crane bag and withdrew a small pig. He dispatched the animal and was soon roasting the delicate flesh in the fire. Realization soon dawned upon poor Seamus. He was in the presence of a God.

He ate in silence while Manannán mac Lir watched him, eagerly consuming all that was given to him. Finally he asked, with eyes averted, “My Lord, why did you save me?”

Manannán mac Lir smiled softly and his voice was low, almost like the pounding of waves on rock. “You did not survive because I saved you Seamus, you survived because you can swim, and you put every ounce of effort and energy into surviving. The Gods sometimes help those who help themselves, but making an offering and uttering a prayer never hurts.” He grinned as he flipped a silver shilling onto the sand at Seamus’s feet. The boy stared at the coin dumbfounded, he felt dizzy and faint, light of body and mind. Moments later Manannán mac Lir held a great swan in his hands, and as he thrust it into the sky and released it he said softly “Fly Seamus… fly.”

As he watched the large swan take flight and head towards the mainland, the Great Goddess Danu approached from a nearby copse of trees, a small smile on her face. She bent down and picked up the silver shilling, brushing grains of sand from it as she stood. With a twinkle in her eye she said, “Lord Manannán, you should have been a potter.” With a sly grin he said, “Aye, I sprinkled water upon inert clay at the creation of your Third Children, Great Mother, aiding in their shaping… and even now I feel the need to do a little molding.” A small pig nestled against his leg, grunting for attention, and he bent over, picked it up, and placed it back into his crane bag.

Cron Annwn

The fogs and mists drift through the woods, flowing down from the hills like an opaque stream and collect in brushy hollows and low spots. Eddies and currents powered by light tendrils of wind move it randomly, almost hypnotically in random directions. The fog glows softly with light from a full moon you cannot see through low cloud cover. You can feel the silence… it is almost tangible. Nights like this are when we often see spirits of the dead who have self-bound to our world walking the night, or hear stories of frightening encounters with the Unseelie Court. We know not whether it is something inherent in a foggy night, or the result of our own projected fear and apprehension. We just know it is this way.

There are abundant stories, passed on orally from father to son and mother to daughter, of the White Hounds in the mists… Cron Annwyn. Few have seen them, but those that have claim they are spotless white of fur with red colored ears, standing nearly the height of a grown man. Their howling is loudest when they are at a distance, and as they draw nearer, it grows softer and softer as they approach their quarry. They roam the mists hunting the spirits of the dead, or those who have committed serious evil deeds, devouring them to sustain their own existence. It is more than probable that they are Sidhe, and it is said they dwell in the Underworld under the sway of Morrígan, The Crone, when they are not roaming the surface world.

The hunt does not differentiate between evil and good spirits, and this serves as another reminder on why we must not stray from The Low Road when it is our time to begin our own journey to the Cauldron. Also, the next time you find yourself in the fogs and the mists, when the sun has dipped below the horizon, listen for Cron Annwn… and if their howls seem to be receding, and you have evil in your heart… head indoors and cast your wards. (14)

Of Savage Lust, and a Pact with the Goat God of the Witches

Éabhla scurried through the dense brush, mud and tears staining her cheeks. The gurgle of the nearby river Shannon could be heard rolling against it banks. Her body shook with fear, which slowly began to turn to rage. Her sister had been burned at the stake not more than two hours prior, and she was still in a deep state of shock. Times had been rough since their parents had walked the Low Road, and she and her sister had been forced to rely on prostitution to afford food. Connaught was not an easy place to make a living, as most others were also poor. They did what they had to do to survive though. Their luck took an even worse turn when a jealous wife accused them of witchcraft. The arrests and trials had been swift. There had really been no hope of true justice. She could still hear in her own mind the screams of her sister from her dank cell as the flames had consumed her flesh. She had prayed to the old gods, begging for help, crumpling into a sobbing heap on the pile of filthy hay on the dirt floor while she waited for them to load fresh faggots of kindling and wood around the stake.

She did not know who the cloaked and hooded woman was that unlocked her cell, and in fact she did not even see her enter the stone walled hut serving as her place of detention. She had entered the torch lit room quiet as a wraith. All three guards had fallen fast asleep, but only seconds earlier had been boasting and laughing about the executions in progress. It was surreal. As the door swung open the woman reached in and lifted her up gently by the arm and whispered in her ear, “Child, I have come to free you from your bonds and give you choices. Your sister now walks the Low Road, but it is not yet your time. Morrigan is not yet ready to cut your thread and call you home. If you wish security make your way to Kildare, the sisterhood will take you in and you will be safe. They will indoctrinate you and you will become a keeper of the flame. If you seek vengeance though, head to the river with all due haste. The choice is yours… make it wisely.”

Éabhla had no doubt where she would go. After exiting the doorway she sprinted to the nearby tree line, her tattered skirts flying about her. When she glanced back there was no sign of her savior. She headed toward the river, branches scratching her skin in her rush to get there.

She crouched near an old gnarled Oak Tree, her ears straining for any sign that she had been pursued. She expected to hear the sharp cries of villagers and see wan halos of torchlight in the mists, but there was nothing. She could feel a presence though, but her determination to avenge her sister squashed any fear trying to creep into her heart. After a long period of time a low guttural voice from the darkness startled her. “Child, you walk in darkness and you have called upon the old gods in your despair… what is it you seek?” She replied softly, her eyes straining to see who spoke to her. “I was told to come to the river if I wished vengeance.” After a few short moments the voice again carried through the darkness. “The Mother always offers choices child. You chose to come to the river. Do you forgo your other choice?” Éabhla straightened her back and stated simply “I do.” There was a chuckle that sounded reminiscent of rolling thunder many miles away. “Are you willing to make sacrifice for the vengeance you are seeking?” She bit her lip and said flatly “I am.”

A very large shadow drifted from the lee side of a nearby boulder where the speaker had been concealed. Éabhla’s heart skipped a beat in her chest when she realized the huge man had the head of a massive goat. He was no man at all. He was Cernunnos, God of Witches. As he approached she could smell the acrid odor of his skin and see the feral glow of eyes reflecting weak moonlight making its way through thin wisps of fog. Her legs became weak. She was enamored with his overwhelming physical presence, with the way he moved, the sound of his voice. Before she knew what she was doing she was casting her skirts aside and guiding his gigantic phallus to her entry. They rutted, oblivious to the world, and he whispered secrets to her. Secrets of poppets and curses, mysteries concerning herbs, bindings for demons and other Lesser Powers, and lore of all kinds. She was unmindful of the world, lost in pleasure and pain… and the secrets kept coming. In between grunts and squeals she offered herself, body and soul, into his service for the rest of her life. After what seemed to be ages he grunted and filled her with his seed, a flow her small body could not contain, and her cup did run over. The Goat God of the Witches rolled her over, gently patted her belly, and softly said in his throaty voice, “New life has been created to replace one that has been lost, and you now have the knowledge and power to avenge a wrong if you choose to do so. You are now truly that which you and your sister were accused of and punished for.”

Less than a month later the judges presiding over the trial of Éabhla and her sister had taken their own lives… all of them. Some experienced sudden and strange illness, some had lost their minds degenerating into incoherent babbling of witches and demons, and a few just ended their existence with no apparent reason at all.

Lycanthropy

There are some who make the choice to bond themselves inseparably with the spirits of animals through incantations and magic. Sometimes the transformations are physical in all sense of the word, sometimes they are a transformation of spirit. In either case there is a vicious melding of the individual and the beast. They have no sense of good and evil, only that of hunter and prey. Their existence is servant to the waning and waxing of the moon, and they are deadly hunters. They are what we know as were-creatures, or lycanthropes. They are a shadow of the chaotic nature of the Fomori… and by extension the dark side of the Goat God Cernunnos.  Man has his dark sides, even as the Gods. Do not shrink from it, and recognize it for its place in the balance.

Innocents can also find themselves unwilling victims of lycanthropy by being bitten by a were-creature, or being born to a were-creature. Cures can be dangerous and unreliable. Once a victim tastes human blood, the process is irreversible. Silver weapons are said to be highly effective against were-creatures. The highly poisonous herb wolfsbane, better known as monkshood, is reputed to repel lycanthropes.

Example of an old ritual:

The ritual site must be remote and free from possibility of interruption and a full moon must be in the sky and visible. The preferable time is in the witching hours, between midnight and dawn. A stream of Lycanthropus water must run through the area where the ritual will be performed. Lycanthropus water differs from ordinary water in subtle details often overlooked, such as possessing a strange faint odor, not identifiable, or having a lurid sparkle strongly suggestive of the water being somehow alive. As the water rushes, it sounds like muttering or whispering human voices rather than the typical sound moving water makes, particularly at night. Dogs and horses are especially fearful of these bodies of water and will try to avoid them.

Select a level piece of ground to perform the ritual on.

Next, mark a circle of not less than 7 ft. in radius.

Within the circle and from the same center mark another circle 3 ft. in radius.

In this inner circle kindle a fire of pine or black poplar. Over the fire place an iron tripod holding an iron vessel of water.

As soon as the water begins to boil throw into it 3 handfuls each of the following substances: Parsley, saffron, aloe, and poppy-seed.

Add 3 cups of a salve base and the hair of a wolf.

After it renders down and cools, strip off your clothes and smear the salve all over your naked body. Kneel at the edge of the Lycanthropus water and incant the following:

Tis night, ’tis night, and the moon shines white

Over pine and snow-capped hill; the shadows stray through burn and brae and dance in the sparkling rill.

Tis night, ’tis night, and the Goat God’s light casts glimmering beams around. The spirits dance, the spirits prance on the flower-enameled ground.

Tis night, ’tis night and the werewolf’s might makes man and nature shiver. Yet its fierce grey head and stealthy tread are nought to thee, oh river!

Oh water strong, that swirls along, I prithee a werewolf make me. Of all things dear, my soul, I swear, in death shall not forsake thee.

Next, strike the banks of the river 3 times with your forehead; then dip your head 3 times into the river, at each dip gulping down a mouthful of the water.

This completes the ritual. At the next full moon, you should undergo your first metamorphosis into a werewolf.

Myths

Myths are usually defined as traditional stories that are told to convey religious experience, to establish behavioral models, and to teach. Does it really matter if a definitive line cannot be traced from ancient texts? I say no, it does not matter one wit. It does not even matter if they are newly created stories. As long as they still convey powerful messages and fill our minds with awe and reverence, they have done their part and will continue to be valid representations of religion. Do not bow to the pundits who will criticize you for myths that do not follow the traditional story-lines. They are fools. Times change, and to be relevant the stories must sometimes also change to retain a connection with culture. So, with that being said, create your own myths, stick to the traditional ones, or change the old stories to fit your own needs… just continue to learn from them and keep the sacred messages close to your heart.

The Sidhe

In time mortal man multiplied, and they traveled the seas under the guidance of Manannán mac Lir. When the Sons of Mil arrived on the shores of Ireland they found the Tuatha De Danann in possession of the land and engaged them in battle. The Great Mother’s Second Children recognized they would thereafter be in decline, for their seers foresaw that mortal man would become legion, more numerous than the heather on the hills. They invoked the Great Goddess Danu seeking her advice and judgment, and she convened a conclave of the Gods at which all of the Tuatha De Danann attended.

Discussion and debate ensued for three days and three nights. There were two distinct and different schools of thought. Some argued that war was the answer and that to the victor should go the spoils, for through strength of arms the vitality and the protection of the world was certain. Others argued that mortal man should be forced into a peaceful coexistence, for through their combined strength, defense against the Fomori if they should return was assured.

The Great Goddess Danu merely watched and listened, and she duly noted that throughout the conclave Cernunnos had not uttered a single word. She then spoke and silence settled over the gathering. She asked Cernunnos for his thoughts. All eyes turned to the Goat Headed God, many suspicious, for his origins and race prior to ascension were well known. When he spoke, his guttural voice carried to all, and none interrupted.

“There will be mortal men proud enough to believe themselves Gods, and some brave enough to endure much and accomplish it, they are beautiful creations indeed. Free will is wisdom, for the balance will always strive to regain its natural state. The Tuatha De Danann have never truly had leeway to freely choose their own destinies, therefore they find it difficult to see this gift handed so easily to the Third Children of Danu and seek to either destroy them, or force them into servitude. This conclave has not been about the fate of the Tuatha De Danann, but that of mortal man. I say that the Second Children of Danu should now be given this choice, for whichever path they choose they are still one side of the same coin. The dominion of the Third Children is a certain future. Those that choose to war against and harm mortal man, so be it. Those that choose to aid them, so be it. Dominion to all touched by the sun and the moon should go to the Third Children, and the hollow hills and other places below the surface to the Tuatha De Danann.”

Many of the Tuatha De Danann looked away at his words for they sensed the unadulterated truth in what he said. Some were ashamed, some merely accepting. The Great Goddess Danu smiled, for she saw wisdom in the words of Cernunnos. The assembled Tuatha De Danann were then transformed by the Great Goddess Danu into the fairy folk, later known as the Sidhe.

Those who were more inclined to help man formed the Seelie Court, and those more inclined to harm the Unseelie Court, and they departed for the realms below. The Sons of Mil then took the lands of Ireland for their own, and their encounters with the Fair Folk are well documented, even up to today…

Creation

There was once a time when there was no time. There was only the void and the darkness. Eventually the void and darkness transformed, became self-aware, and named itself Danu. In that self-awareness she felt loneliness, so she stretched forth her hand, whispered words of power, and created the worlds… intent on filling the emptiness inside her heart. She brought the stars into existence, the mountains, and the seas, yet she still did not feel complete. So she continued in her contemplation and walked the worlds.

In the waters of a river she looked upon her reflection and saw the image of the sun over her shoulder. She saw that the light was beautiful, felt that its warmth was good… and she stretched forth her hand again and whispered words of power, giving birth to our Great Lord Lugh, forming him from the fires of the Sun, and their desire knew no bounds. Their coupling brought much into existence, plants, animals, insects, and the First Children of Danu, The Fomori.

The Fomori were giants, creatures of destruction and chaos. Lesser Powers. More than mortal, but less than true Gods. They ruled the land for ages, worshiping Danu as “Domnu”, and even now they are often called the “Children of Domnu.” Their rites were powerful, black, and terrible. Some places even now carry a taint, a leftover taste of their former glory. Her First Children brought her great satisfaction, but the world lacked a sense of balance, and much of her creation could not realize its potential. So she continued her contemplation and walked the worlds.

Our Great Sun God Lugh saw our Great Mother Danu deep in thought, and asked her what troubled her so. She replied that her worlds and creations were many and none could experience the other. In answer to Danu’s distress Lugh traveled to the Northern Lands and in a long valley near the sea planted a seed, blew his breath upon it, and whispered powerful magic. From that seed sprang a Great Oak Tree, its branches and limbs climbing into the heavens to connect all of the Great Mother’s worlds, and its roots delved deep into the earth and the hollow places below. Danu saw Lugh’s gift and knew happiness.

In time the Great Goddess again stretched forth her hand and whispered words of power and brought into being her Second Children, the Tuatha Dé Danann, or “Children of Danu.” They were fair and many. Lesser Powers. More than mortal, but less than true Gods… and they warred unceasingly with the Fomori. In time the Fomori were defeated and driven forth. They traveled the branches of the Great Tree to lands bound in shadow.  There they still lurk, plotting and scheming the conquest and destruction of the lands from which they were exiled. A tide of chaos held in check by the power of order. They are dangerous beings, full of hatred, and their memories are long.

The worlds now embodied law and chaos, good and evil, light and darkness. The Great Goddess Danu then prepared for the creation of her Third Children… mortal men and women. Beings given choice over which paths they would walk… law or chaos, light or darkness. Beings with the capacity to be kind and cruel, good and evil. Beings with a divine spark, a piece of the essence of the Gods… a soul.

Danu then empowered Morrígan of the Tuatha Dé Danann to cut the threads of fate that bound the souls of her Third Children , and gave her reign and providence over the underworld to where they would go after death to await rebirth.

She then empowered Brigid of the Tuatha Dé Danann to teach her Third Children healing, and the art of the spoken word, and gave her reign and providence over the hearth and home.

She then empowered Manannán mac Lir of the Tuatha Dé Danann to teach her Third Children to master the waters, and the value of wit and wile, and gave him reign and providence over the seas, mists, and the weather.

And to the dismay of these three new deities, the Great Mother Danu empowered a goat headed Fomori called Cernunnos to teach her Third Children of fire and sorcery, and tasked him with watching over the souls of the dead as they traveled the Low Road to the Underworld of Morrígan, and to incite the creatures of field and fen to reproduce when the appointed seasons came. He would later be known as the Goat God of the Witches to the faithful, and a Devil to those of other faiths.

The Great Mother Danu scooped up a handful of clay, shaping them into man and woman. Manannán mac Lir sprinkled water upon them, thereby aiding their shaping and tying them irrevocably to the element.  The heat and light of our Sun God Lugh set them in form. Brigid whispered words of power and touched her fingertip to their hearts and infused them with the desire to search, question, and reason. Morrígan waved her hands above them, chanting the dirge of death, ensuring they were to be mortal. With these tasks complete Lugh, Manannán mac Lir, Brigid, and Morrígan departed to prepare for the arrival of the Third Children. As they left The Great Mother Danu looked upon her incomplete creations in contemplation. From the depths of the dark wood Cernunnos crept and knelt next to the clay forms, the Great Mother watching intently what he would contribute. She had been aware of his presence from the beginning as he watched from the shadows. He whispered an incantation, dark and ancient, and a small fire ignited between his horns. He removed two small flames with his finger tips and dropped them into the clay where they disappeared into the material. He then departed into the woods, the hand of Danu caressing his shoulder with affection as he left. She smiled, for he had gifted her Third Children with souls… and the potential to become Gods and overcome fate. Danu then completed her task of creation and departed the garden from which her new children had begun to awaken.

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