Ireland has recently conducted national DNA research that asks the question of what actually makes the Irish...well, Irish? As a country conditioned by emigration the Celtic tiger of the 1990's and early Noughties brought an influx of new blood into the population. Cue some national soul searching.
If you read the earliest Irish texts, such as the Book of Invasions, Ireland has always been rather 'multi-cultural' although that was probably not the fashionable interpretation in earlier times. This DNA survey has noted that along with the Irish being well connected with the Scots and other British populations, there is a strong marker for Spanish, specifically, Basque, lineage.
At this thinnest time of year, Samhain, when the veil between our world and the sidhe is gossamer I want to offer a poem in praise of Danu, our most ancient of goddesses. Danu is the gift giver and it is said that her name is embedded in our English word donation. Her name is embedded in the rivers - the Don in Russia in the east and another in the west in Yorkshire, England and the Danube that runs through the heart of Central Europe. Some say that her origins are in India. She is undoubedly pan-Celtic and very, very ancient, sort of the great-granny of so many deities.
The first impulse in a divinity is, then, to give. It is said in Ireland that Danu had a husband called Bile. Now that is a word, along with crann, for tree. In my research I found that Ireland has seven sacred or chieftain trees. It got me thinking about Danu's husband and this poem, Nemeton, is the result.
Welcome to my world one that is quite literally magical. In this blog I’ll share how a relict goddess, the legends of her devotees and the earth that is their homeplace have nurtured my spiritual path.
In 2001 after a protracted leave taking from England, my Irish born partner and I were led to Ireland guided by Yeats’ synchronicities, goddess guidance and the ridiculous spinning of a pendulum over a map in County Cavan, a place neither of us remotely entertained as our new Irish residence.
However Brigit and Yeats’ and the pendulum knew better than our scepticism. By various meaningful coincidences we landed in Dowra, the first village on the river Shannon. It is a village that spreads over two counties, Cavan and Leitrim. Moreover, there is rumoured to be a remnant of the Black Pig’s Dyke, an earthwork defence to keep marauding Ulsterman out of Connaught, behind Oliver McGrail’s house. So we also bestride two ancient kingdoms of Ireland. To complicate matters still, this corner of northwest Ireland was also a subkingdom – Breifne – which actually does accurately follow the geological contours that the ice sheets sculpted millennia ago.