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GaolNaofa
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Gaol Naofa — Irish, Scottish and Manx language and cultural preservation, prayer, and earth-honoring spiritual practice: www.gaolnaofa.org
Gaol Naofa — Irish, Scottish and Manx language and cultural preservation, prayer, and earth-honoring spiritual practice: www.gaolnaofa.org

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In light of some of the recent comments about Celtic Reconstructionism that have surfaced elsewhere (apparently in the wake of some controversy in heathen circles), Gaol Naofa would like to make it clear that we take a strong stance against racism, oppression, discrimination, sexism, and bigotry in all its forms.

In Gaol Naofa our community is about culture and connection, mutual respect and accountability to one another, not blood quantum. While we honour our ancestors, we also highly value our interfaith work, and our relatives and loved ones from all racial and ethnic backgrounds who form the fabric of our living communities. We are not a "folkish" organisation and we do not believe that racist, "folkish" views have any place in Gaelic Polytheism or CR as a whole. Those who know the history of Celtic Reconstructionism (and its subset, Gaelic Polytheism) know that any insistence that members be "white" goes against the very founding principles of CR in general. The same goes for the ridiculous belief that the nuclear, straight family or modern, conformist gender roles (or gender expressions) are in any way necessary or relevant to our lives. Our ancestors, and our communities now, are more suited to diverse, extended families of choice as well as blood. Those who claim otherwise are either ignorant of our history and living cultures, or simply racist, and bigoted.

http://www.bandia.net/caorann/#background
http://www.paganachd.com/faq/misconceptions.html#racist
http://www.gaolnaofa.org/membership/

It cannot be stressed enough that we believe that Gaelic Polytheism is not something that is or should be dictated by race or ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation, ability or disability, gender or gender expression, blood line, marital status, nationality, or political party. If this is something you don’t agree with, then please look elsewhere.

#GaelicPolytheism #CelticReconstructionism #CR #CelticPolytheism #Celtic #GaolNaofa #Racism #Gender #Sexism #Homophobia

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New video! To accompany our latest video we've also revised updated our Daily Rites article on the Gaol Naofa website to include prayers in both Gaelic and English: http://www.gaolnaofa.org/articles/daily-rites/

For more information see the announcement on our website: http://www.gaolnaofa.org/articles/daily-rites/

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With love, holding our loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.
Too much death recently. Too many voices lost.

________________________________________________________
Photo by Kris Williams https://www.flickr.com/photos/jixxer/16081712662/
Text: http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/corpus/seanfhaclan/MacDonald_roghainn.html

Please maintain the links to the original photographer. They'll stay on this if you simply click share (rather than downloading it).

Mòran Taing
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The formula found in this Gaelic prayer, of repairing "bone to bone...flesh to flesh..." has an ancient pedigree and can be found in much older sources, such as in the Irish myth of Cath Maige Tuired, when Miach gave Nudau a new arm made of flesh, joining it "joint to joint of it, and sinew to sinew." A ninth or tenth century Germanic manuscript uses the same formula and attributes it to Odin, while the far older Atharva Veda also echoes the concept. Modern versions of the prayer can also be found in English and Shetland dialects, too.

Aside from using this kind of prayer as an aid to physical healing, the formula lends itself more metaphorical uses as well, in prayers to help repair the bonds of a community, perhaps, as we discuss in our article Prayer in Gaelic Polytheism: http://www.gaolnaofa.org/articles/prayer-in-gaelic-polytheism/

With this in mind we've changed the final line from "Gun leighis mise seo — May I heal this" to "Gun leighis sinne seo — May we heal this." At a time of such strife in the world as it is today, prayers for healing may also be an aid to peace and protection as well.

Original images: White Horses by HeHaden –
https://www.flickr.com/photos/hellie55/3581414001/

Cow by Marilyn Peddle – https://www.flickr.com/photos/marilynjane/3960089490/

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Slàinte Mhath!
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Donn as a name is not uncommon in early Irish literature, but the most famous of these is Donn son of Míl, one of the kings of the invading Milesians who wrested control of Ireland from the Tuatha Dé Dannan. 

In some versions of his tale, Donn refused to acknowledge the goddess of sovereignty, Ériu, and so was cursed to never again set foot on Ireland. During the Milesians' attempt to land once again, the ship he was in was sunk and he was drowned. 

His body was recovered and buried on an island, which was then named after him: Tech Duinn, The House of Donn. This island is most often associated the Bull Rock, off the coast of the Beara Peninsula, County Cork.

In other versions of Donn's tale his death is more of an heroic sacrifice for his people, although he was still laid to rest on Tech Duinn. Because of this, as the first of the sons of Míl to die in Ireland, he declared, "'To me, to my house, come ye all / After your deaths.' 

Donn fulfills the role of "first ancestor" (or first male ancestor) and functions as lord of the dead. So strong was this connection that later Christian commentators would claim that all souls of the "heathen Irish" would travel to Donn's House before going to hell; in an attempt to get the ancestors to turn from the old ways, some even tried to equate Donn with the Christian devil.

Text: With thanks to Sionnach Gorm.

References – Lebor Gabála Érenn: http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/lebor5.html
Historia Brittonum: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/T100028/

Image: Collage and photo manipulation, with sunset photo by Peter Broster https://flic.kr/p/aeTgkr

As usual, please feel free to share any of the memes posted here. Images are used under Creative Commons licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). When sharing these memes you must retain their credit and a link back to the original (where relevant).

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Sláinte Mhaith!
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The word Samhain comes from the Old Irish Samain, which is thought to mean 'Summer's End.' It is primarily the name of the month of November, but is also used for the Gaelic festival that falls at the beginning of the month, and which also marks the beginning of winter.

In Ireland it's Samhain, and pronounced "Sow-in."* Festival celebrations begin on Oíche Shamhna – Samhain Night.

In Scotland it's Samhain or Samhainn, pronounced 'Sav-in' or 'Sow-een'. The festival begins on Oidhche Shamhna – Samhain Night.

In the Isle of Man it's spelled Sauin, pronounced 'Sow-in'. Celebrations begin on Oie Houney – Samhain Night.

* Pronunciation note: "Sow" to rhyme with "cow," not "low."

Original image by Jimmy Brown: https://flic.kr/p/jSQRwD
As usual, please feel free to share any of the memes posted here.

Used under Creative Commons licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). When sharing these memes you must retain their credit and a link back to the original (where relevant). This is very easy to do: Just click SHARE, and that will include this message with the image.

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In ancient Ireland, a great war is said to have taken place between the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians as they fought for the right to rule Ireland. The tale of this conflict is told in Cath Maige Tuired (The Second Battle of Mag Tured), and the final battle took place Samhain, with the Tuatha Dé Danann being victorious.

Conflict, death and chaos are common themes associated with Samhain in Irish myth and folklore, but out this conflict comes a resolution of peace. At the end of Cath Maige Tuired, the Morrígan (or Badb) relates a rosc (a particular type of Irish poem, which is often written in obscure or archaic language), proclaiming victory in battle, and giving a prophecy of things to come.

As Samhain approaches, it seems only appropriate to reflect on these themes, and the message of the Morrígan's words. As a prayer for peace, you might also wish to incorporate the words into your celebrations. The images collated here (five in all) each contain a section of the prayer. You can also view our video of it, which we released on our youtube channel last year:

https://youtu.be/PM9bOtpjYPw

The original Irish is from Cath Maige Tuired:

http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T300011/index.html

For more information about the translation, which is by Kathryn Price NicDhàna, see our article Prayer in Gaelic Polytheism on the Gaol Naofa website:

http://www.gaolnaofa.org/artic…/prayer-in-gaelic-polytheism/

As usual, please feel free to share any of the memes posted here. Some of the images are used under Creative Commons licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), while others have been used with permission from the original photographers. Credits are given with each of the memes individually. When sharing these memes you must retain their credit and a link back to the original (where relevant).

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Prophecy Memes
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A cheud sgeul air fear an taighe, is sgeul gu làth' air an aoidh.
First story from the host, and tales till morning from the guest.

Story-telling is always entertaining no matter the time of year, but some stories are more apt for a particular occasion than others. Many of the Irish tales we know today are centred around the festival period of Samhain, and they often have Otherworldly themes.

These tales would be especially appropriate to look at in the run up to Samhain, or during your celebrations. Tales include:

Echtra Nerai – The Adventures of Nera
Cath Maige Tuired – The Second Battle of Tured
Airne Fingen – Fingen's Nightwatch
Mesca Ulaid – The Intoxication of the Ulstermen
(See our memes page for direct links to the tales – http://www.gaolnaofa.org/library/memes/)

Gaelic Proverb from: http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/…/seanfhac…/MacDonald_roghainn.html

Original image: Ben Salter – https://flic.kr/p/7fNJWV

Used under Creative Commons licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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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.

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The baking of the Strùthan Mhìcheil (a special bannock bread) is one of the major focuses of Là Fhèill Mìcheil. As the ingredients are mixed together, and then as the bannock is shaped, a blessing is said, as Carmichael records here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cg1/cg1083.htm

Following on from Kathryn's blog post last week, we've adapted the blessing here for Macha and the Cailleach, both of whom may be related to the festival in their own ways: http://nicdhana.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/la-fheile-mhacha.html

If you would like to try your hand at making a strùthan yourself, here's a recipe: http://www.ceolas.co.uk/2015/08/struthan-mhicheil/

Collage from original photos by Ivan Walsh (Horsies): https://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/14485082829/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/14671411632/

And Michael Foley (Loughcrew): https://www.flickr.com/…/michaelfoleyphotography/8732478711/ https://www.flickr.com/…/michaelfoleyphotography/8733414094/

Used under Creative Commons licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

For full footnotes on adaptations made to the original blessing, see our Memes Page: http://www.gaolnaofa.org/library/memes/

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