Crone in Corrogue: Wild Wisdom of the Elder Years
Glorying in the elder years, a time of spirituality, service and some serious sacred activism
Fairies Don't Like Iron?
I had heard that fairies don’t like iron. This really nonplussed me since their landing pad in Ireland was Iron Mountain. It didn’t get that name for nothing. It really is iron rich.
If you look at the texts about the Tuatha dé Danaan there are two key points where iron in the landscape is a prominent feature of the tale. The first is when they land on Slieve Anieran in Co. Leitrim. The second instance is when they are defeated by the Milesians at the Second Battle of Moytura, which is on the Sligo/Roscommon boundary. In their retreat after the battle they are said to have travelled north and east past Lough Arrow on to Lough Allen.
Lough Allen has Slieve Anieran on its eastern shore. On its western shore north of Lough Arrow lies Arigna, where for generations iron and coal has been mined. When I consider the topography in terms of the Tuatha dé Danaan saga iron surrounded their territory. If you go to the mountain just east of Slieve Anieran you have Benaughlin in Fermanagh/Cavan. In Swanlinbar pig iron smelting was carried out in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Really, you can’t get away from iron; it almost seems like a ring fence around what could be considered the Fairy Folk’s homeplace. Because the trajectory of their retreat after Moytura surely shows a desire to ‘home’ to their place of arrival in Ireland before they departed into the sídhe.
I shared my puzzlement with an Irish born friend Siobhán MacMahon, who is also The Faerie Shaman, for elucidation.
“Oh, that’s easy,” she said over Skype, “The fairies use iron whenever they break ties irrevocably with a particular world. Humans need to use iron if they want to break contact with the fairies though.”
Light bulb moment!
When the Tuatha dé Danaan left the four cities of Filias, Falias, Gorias and Murias they needed the iron of Slieve Anieran to break their tie with the land they left behind. After the Shining Ones were defeated by the Milesians they instinctively headed toward the ‘homeplace’ to use the iron again for their retreat into the sídhe.
This is why it makes perfect sense to me to call Slieve Anieran the Fairy Homeplace in Ireland. Homeplace is a rural Irish concept that invokes great passion for the land that has been inhabited by one’s blood kin for generations.
Fairies may inhabit the whole of the island of Ireland but Iron Mountain is especially dear to the indigenous earth spirits of this particular land and sacred to Danu, her tribe and those of Her clan who retreated into the fairy sídhe at their homeplace.
So it’s a bit of a myth that fairies don’t like iron. It’s all about its proper function with fairies.
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