The Goddess Way: Ancient Stories for Modern Hearts

Judith Shaw both paints and writes about the Goddess, great symbol of life, death and the natural world. For the past few years she has focused on the Celtic Goddesses, whose stories are explored here in The Goddess Way.

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Aine, Celtic Summer Goddess

Aine, (pronounced AW-neh), was originally worshipped as a Sun Goddess. Like so many Celtic goddesses and gods, Aine has assumed many other roles over the years, being seen as a Moon Goddess, a Goddess of Love, a Fertility Goddess, a Healing Goddess, and a Sovereignty Goddess. Aine is also known as a Faery Queen. She is often called Aine, Goddess of Love, Light, and Fertility. Her name means “brightness, glow, joy, radiance; splendor, glory, fame” and she is associated with the abundance of summer.

Aine, nicknamed Bright, could take the form of Lair Derg, a red mare that no one could outrun. As Lair Derg, She walked among Her people, offering aide where needed.

Aine had two sisters, Fenne and Grainne. When the moon was full, the three sisters would ride their horses out from their sidhes (underground mounds where fairie goddesses live) to laugh and play in the moonlit waters of the sacred lake, Lough Gur.. It is possible that Aine and Grainne alternated as goddesses of the waxing and waning solar year, changing place at the solstices.

Aine, who most likely was worshiped as far back as the Neolithic, was the ancient Sovereignty Goddess of the province of Munster in South West Ireland where one finds Her sacred hill, Cnoc Aine. This hill was once the most powerful, royal ceremonial center of Munster. In ancient times, the ritual marriage between King and Goddess was performed here, thus legitimizing his kingship.

As a Moon Goddess and a Fertility Goddess she ruled over and protected both crops and animals. At Midsummer celebrations on June 23 the people honored Aine. The men lit torches on the top of her hill, Cnoc Aine, and then ran down through their cattle and fields asking Her blessings for an abundant harvest. It was believed that at the same time Aine and the fairies of Her sidhe undertook a similar procession in the Otherworld.

Aine, beautiful, bright and glowing, is a muse to every poet. She could inspire great works of creativity or drive the artist to madness.

Above all else, Aine was the people's Goddess, who gave much to them and received their love and worship in return. An ancient myth tells the story of how Aine gave the gift of grain to the people of Ireland. In this account, Aine sat in her birthing chair on Lammas, August 1st, and gave birth to a sheave of grain. Thus the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after Lammas are also her sacred days.

Aine was also associated with water and healing. The enchanted Lough Gur, which lies only 4 kms from Cnoc Aine, was another site sacred to the Goddess. On the night of the full moon, known as All Heal Night, people were brought there to be healed If they didn't recover, then Aine would sing to comfort the dying and help them in their passage to the Otherworld.

Aine's popularity was increased by her role as Goddess of Love. She is known for teaching her human children about love, both by taking human men as lovers and by teaching humans how to express their love in a sacred manner. She gave birth to many children through her love of mortal men, creating what some believe to be a magical Faerie-Human race.

There are many differing accounts of Aine and Her human lovers. An early tale tells of how Aine was raped by King Ailill Aulom of Munster. Aine bit off his ear (“Aulom” means one-eared), thus rendering him unfit for kingship.

Various stories exist about Her marriage to Gerald, the Earl of Desmond. Some believe that Aine fell madly in love with him and enchanted him into marriage. A different version tells that he fell instantly in love with her when he happened upon Her while she was bathing in a lake. He used his magic cloak to win and marry Her. Yet another story tells that Aine was raped by the Earl. She retaliated by turning him into a goose or by killing him or both. But whichever way the Earl and Aine came together the birth of a son is always recounted. Aine's son was a magical child who became The Magician. Perhaps he was Merlin himself.

Another version of Her liaison with Gerald illustrates the power of non-violence. In this version Aine didn't kill him but struck a deal with him. By this agreement Aine would gain her freedom if he showed even the slightest bit of surprise at anything their son might do. As Aine's son was a powerful magician the day ultimately arrived when the Earl was unable to hide his surprise at one of his son's amazing feats. Aine gained her freedom and she returned to Her sidhe, where She lived in peace and happiness. With the power of intelligence, ingenuity and determination, She freed herself from bondage.

The mists of time have veiled Aine's lineage, yet some connection to the Sea God, Manannán Mac Lir is always present. In one version of Her story, She is the wife of Manannán Mac Lir. Others claim She is the Sea God's daughter. Yet others say Aine was the daughter of Eogabail, a member of the Tuatha da Danaan, who was himself the foster son of Manannán Mac Lir.

Aine, with long red hair held by a headband of fallen stars, was always seen wearing yellow, attire fitting for a Goddess associated with the sun and the moon. Her element is air. Her sacred animals are the red mare, rabbit and swan.

Aine calls you to claim your own power and to experience true joy. She offers aide with love, fertility and prosperity. May the Goddess of Light, Love and Fertility, who brings us the sun's power and life force and the moon's mystery, intuition and regeneration, be with you and protect you as you move through the days of your life.

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Judith Shaw, a New Orleans native and graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has always been interested in myth, culture and mysticism. Her work, inspired by the goddess, nature and sacred geometry, combines whimsy and the esoteric - whimsical tree paintings which often look like women dancing are intertwined with esoteric symbols such as those found in sacred geometry. After graduation, while living in Greece, the Goddess first appeared in her artwork. The Divine Feminine, in all of Her manifestations in this world, continues to inspire Judith.    Judith has also lived in Mexico and visited France, Italy, Turkey, China, Guatemala, and Jamaica. She now lives in Albuquerque where she divides her time between painting, writing, yoga, gardening, bee keeping, and hanging out with friends and family.  She is putting the final touches on a deck of Celtic Goddess cards which will be published soon.  


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