Away With The Fairies: Danu, The Tuatha Dé, The Land & Me

Unsuspecting, fairy agnostic Bee landed in Ireland in 2001 and settled in the shade of Slieve Anieran, the mountain where the Tuatha dé Danaan first arrived in what was known as Erin. Over the years a relationship with the goddess they worshiped has unfolded with the land, even more than the myth associated with this band that latterly became the fairy race of Ireland, being spirit guide and mentor.

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Bee Smith

Bee Smith

Bee is a former columnist for Sagewoman, published poet, Brigit and Danu devotee (more about this later) and creatrix of guided walks and talks on the theme of Fairy Ireland and pilgrimage leader for Imbolc celebrations of Brigit in Ireland. She is the author of ebook "Brigid's Way: Reflections on the Celtic Divine Feminine." You can learn more about tours on her website www.irishblessingstours.com.

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Brigid as Serpent Goddess

Early on Brigid's morn

Shall the Serpent come from the hole,

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Seeking the Source of  Winter's Grace

I live in a landscape of liminal spaces. This past Samhain I have been hovering, neither truly in this world nor out of it. Partly this has to do with pondering mortality and how we may live out our last days.  I am not dying (well, not that I know of at any rate), but there are others close who have been taken to that edge physically, mentally and spiritually.  2015 was a challenging and exhausting year, with many highs and some gutting lows for me and those close to me.  I have had to pause, hibernate and dip into the no-words place before I could break surface.

Winter has a stillness that I truly value. I am grateful for the ice that hems us in. I am grateful for the wood that snaps in our log burner and the candle that glows with my many special intentions. I sit and knit little squares that will eventually become a blanket for a refugee or migrant and I am grateful for the meditative space between the click of the needle and the flick of the loop.

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Occupy Sacred Space

If I were not a post-menopausal crone I might put down my frayed, tired and emotional state to PMS. But maybe the entire world is feeling that way, not just me? All I can say is that I am ready to embrace Samhain, the plunging into nights as dark as pitch with pinhole bright spots in the sky and  murky dank days. I associate Samhain as the reflective time, not so much 'down time' as spiral inside time. It is bear in the cave time, slumbering snake time, disappear down some interesting badger den or hare hole time. Less do and more be.

Ironic, since a lot of what I 'do' is encourage people to 'be'. I teach creative writing. I talk with groups and guide them around this corner of sacred land that I am blessed to occupy.

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Of all the Sagewoman blogs I have written, this one, Bake Your Lunasa Loaf For Peace,  hit a chord.

( http://www.witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/away-with-the-fairies/bake-your-lunasagh-loaf-for-peace.html)

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Equinox Migrations

I moved to Ireland at autumn equinox in 2001. Autumn Equinox is inextricably wedded to migration as I remember the fourteen hour journey - three trains, a ferry and a car ride -that was the emigrant trail for me and our Household Goddess Sophie, our beloved and ancient tortoiseshell cat.  At dusk on September 21st  Tony's brother drove down the last road to our rental property. I was arriving sight unseen, since Tony had brought the dogs over the previous week.  The sphinx like profile of the Playbank hove into view and I was completely enchanted. That mountain has never let me go.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Playbank-Hagrid-effect.jpg

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    I add my prayer to yours that Danu bless and rescue these refugees. Americans have been terriblly remiss about taking them in. T

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Making (Fairy) Tracks

By serendipity I met a friend in town on Saturday. Over coffee and an organic raspberry and white chocolate scone (still slightly warm), Mandy told me how she and a friend had been haring round Ireland on a road trip on the trail of the sidhe. Their trip took them from Tara in the east, down to Clare, then up to Carrowkeel and Knocknashee in Sligo. They took in some of the most sacred sites and amazing megaliths in the land.  But they didn't really need to stir themselves so far from Fermanagh. They are all around us here. Or maybe I am just sensitive to the local fey vibrations.

Tourists ask me if I see fairies. I answer honestly. I don't see them and I very much doubt they are very much like Mabel Lucie Atwell's vision of them.  Here is West Cavan I experience them as nature's skin turners and messengers. But maybe that's just how they want to show themselves to  me, for I have a strong suspicion that when they want to make themselves known as friendly allies they choose a form that is least threatening to their beholder. So maybe children do see Mabel Lucie Atwell creations. Musicians hear fairy music. But I have seen a hitch hiker that turned out to be a heron standing on the road verge. A local storyteller saw a bent old woman that turned out to be a hare. 'Turned' being the operative word.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    The local tradition I was told, Francesca De Grandis, is that it is usually unwise to extend a building to the west. A neighbour s
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Thank you for that. I enjoyed reading the details of your local lore, it resonates with me. And, yes to the local easygoing atti
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    I LOVE your story of taking down the shed and luck changing. I sometimes feel like the Lone Ranger for believing in stuff like tha

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In Ireland we have already had a chilly intimation of autumn. Last weekend was spent at a Bards By the Hearth event, since the weather was too abysmal for going out, even to walk John's lovely Tree Labyrinth. But being so close to Lammas, and since it was a Bring and Share event, I made my standard soda bread. It is technically a Northern Irish 'wheaten' loaf, except I make it with spelt. Like so many in Ireland, if I can't get organic wheat flour or buy an artisan loaf in a Farmer's Market, my gut pleads with me to stick with spelt.  Even one of the owner's of Ireland's big bread companies has just announced that he is gluten intolerant.


But I digress from Lunasa. You need to celebrate the harvest and baking bread is the best way I know.  It seems cheating if you resort to the bread machine, which I often do during busy weeks to make sure that I have a decent loaf in the house. Baking yeast bread can be tricky and takes time and patience to get the knack. But Irish soda bread is a sinch.  Our ancestors made it on an open fire. Indeed, a Belcoo woman still goes up to her ancestral cottage to make her 'fadge' (as thy call it in Fermanagh) on the open hearth, just as women down the centuries have done. It tastes better according to Margaret.

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