The Morrígan and Cú Chulainn pt. 2: Insult and Praise as Incitement

"Cuchullain and the Battle-Goddess" by Willy Pogány
“Cuchullain and the Battle-Goddess”

by Willy Pogány in The Frenzied Prince

based on Táin Bó Regamna  

In my earlier post about an Morrígan appearing to Cú Chulainn and offering sex and victory as a test,  I noted that this is not featured in all versions of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. Instead, the Book of Leinster edition uses the remscéla (foretale) Táin Bó Regamna, to set up Her coming at him as a heifer, eel and wolf.(TBC pg. 54, 194)   The story is, again, read as if showing their hatred of each other and why CC needs to be “punished.”  There are several other issues which come up with it, however, which again make no sense if you read it this way and also view the Morrígan as a powerful Goddess.

The Táin Bó Regamna is one of the stories which sets up the circumstances for the Táin Bó Cúailnge, in which the Morrígan essentially sets the entire stream which makes sure Cú Chulainn will play his role. She steals a cow to breed to the Donn Cúailnge, the bull Medb will raid for. Cú Chulainn tries to stop the theft, finding Her all in red in a chariot with a single red, one legged horse with the pole running through it and a man herding the cow. He is first angered that the “woman” answers rather than the man, he even leaps upon Her shoulders. She identifies Herself this time as a satirist, which should at least be a clue as to the words She then gives. The chariot, horse, man and semblance of a woman disappear and She takes the form of a black bird, revealing who She actually is. She seemingly predicts that he will die in a cattle raid when the calf the cow carries is a year old. This gets him angry and he boasts that he will not only survive the raid but will kill all who come against him and will find his fame in it.  She then makes the threat of coming against him as eel, wolf and heifer while he counters as to how he will wound Her. She disappears with the cow.

Now it’s often said that in this She is speaking prophecy, yet if we believe She is a powerful Goddess with great prophetic powers, how can this be? She would be, after all, wrong for, as he proclaimed, he didn’t die then.  Even a true satire, one meant to create magic which makes the words so, would mean he’d have to die in the TBC…or it means She has little power.  So again, we see that if this is taken as it usually is, that they are truly contentious, it shows Her as weak. Perhaps not a problem for some focused on him, but as a follower of Her it is problematic.

So, again, let’s consider what else this might be. What I believe it is is gressacht. This is a form of incitment to battle, using mocking and insult to create rage in the fighter, related to the laíded which Mac Cana demonstrates is incitement through praise.(MacCana, pg 77-78)  He notes the War Goddess doing this in his Macgnímrada which is part of the TBC, and that it is obvious what She is doing there despite the term not being used. (MacCana pg. 80)  Therefore seeing this in the TBR as well as part of the exchange between them in the TBC which we have discussed, shows a pattern, one fitting the role of a warrior and the Goddess who would wish to incite him.

She is, of course, not the only one using this form of incitement on him nor is he the only one it’s used on. In fact, in his battle with Lóch, when She also attacks him, this form of incitement is used on both of them. The women of Connacht and then Medb taunt Lóch to get him to fight Cú Chulainn. Seeing CC in trouble fighting both the eel-shaped Morrígan and Lóch, Fergus called upon one of the Ulstermen to incite him so that he can defeat them both and Bricriu steps up to the task. (MacCana, pg. 79). But perhaps the best known example is when Cú Chulainn must face his beloved Ferdiad and he asks his charioteer Láeg to incite him in this way. (MacCana, pg. 77-78)

The response, to gressacht is expected to be “I’ll show you!” But wordier then followed with the action. Again, we see exactly this in the paring of the TBR interaction between Cú Chulainn and an Morrígan and the events in the TBC.

The concept of the inciting the warrior into action by verbal insult is hardly unique to early Ireland. Most of us know of the verbal lashing associated with drill sergeants and coaches. The idea, especially in the military, had been to create soldiers who could take pressure. And resist being female, as it’s commonly the featured insult (interestingly, MacCana noted that the Irish insults never use the accusation of being womanly to insult men, pg. 90-91 although I think we might want to look at how it was still used as in insult regarding Medb).  However, in light of awareness of bullying’s devastating consequences these methods have been questioned and curbed, although some surely still practice them when possible. We have seen it seep into pop culture “fitness” thanks to Jillian Michaels.  In fact, some personal trainers call such abusive tactics “going Jillian Michaels on someone” and, yes, this is considered a very inappropriate way to treat a client.. Because the problem is that uch insulting usually is nothing more than verbal abuse. Bullying. Because for all some might claim it’s for “their own good” it’s really about control.  And it’s done without regard for what baggage the person it’s being said to already has.

If someone has grown up with verbal abuse, they have learned from the beginning to not respond positively. They have been taught that “I’ll show you!” is not the sought after response. More of abuse just causes more pain and damage, even if the abuser expects and wants a “I’ll show you!” response. And that’s something we must always be aware of. I am not calling for us to use this as a method….unless the person on the receiving end requests it, like CC asked his charioteer. Not even among my, ahem, cult members, although I think this concept has a place as we’ll get to.  In fact, MacCana notes that only certain people seem to have been allowed. Charioteers, women (and there is a heterosexual component with the recipients being male), satirists….Fergus cannot do it, so he calls up on those who can (MacCana pg. 86-89).  Obviously, Goddesses would be among those who can.

The fact that verbal insult can demoralize, psych out, rather than provoke, psych up, was also evident in the Irish literature and in sports today. MacCana notes the various times when screams, shouts, taunts and other noise is mentioned in the war literature, either from opposing forces or the War Goddesses.(MacCana, pg. 69-74)  This too is used in modern sports, especially seen in fighting sports (and taken to a crazier level in scripted “wrestling”). But we can often see that sometimes it does psych up rather than psych out, as taunts are thrown and countered with “I’ll show you!” (sometimes both almost as poetic as in the literature).  Of course, a fighter might want to have their opponent visibly psyched up, it makes for a more glorious fight. We have hardly left the idea that we discussed earlier that a good fighter wants to be known for having a good fight, not an easy win.

As part of that, of course, we again have the laíded, the praise. Not just given by the supporters of the winner or the loser of the winner (part of “good sportsmanship” and “losing well” is to be sure that now everyone knows you lost to someone who was very good, that your skills will benefit from this and “I’ll show you next time!”) but often the winner of the loser. There is no glory in making out the opponent you beat as having no skill, the more skilled they are the more you must have been. We insult, then we praise.

How can we use this today? As I said I think with care, for harming those harmed already is useless. And some of my suggestions are not likely going to sit well with those who might have such backgrounds. I want to say that I think learning to be able to say “I’ll show you!” is a good thing, but I also am well aware that my knowledge of the psychology of it all is far to limited to say how. I think it might be something some may wish to explore with professional help.  It’s not something I’m familiar with because the forms of verbal abuse I can identify being an issue for me have been different…it’s been the “friendly, helpful,” sneaky, manipulative backhanded compliment type that “friends” taught me later in life.  The overt, insult stuff I learned to blow off as a kid. Not always a “I’ll show you!” but more the belief my mother engendered that people who talked shit about you weren’t people who mattered.

Yet, even those who haven’t been overwhelmed by others’ abusing us sometimes do it to ourselves all the same. And maybe those backhanded compliments which slowly, subtly degrade our self-esteem at the hands of friends have their own way too. So even without the overt abuse, we feel we’re not smart enough, not strong enough, not skilled enough….. And we tell ourselves this.

So it’s the self-talk we may need to first learn to say “I’ll show you!” to. Say it with conviction and say it in poetic detail!  And take the action to prove those voices wrong.  Get creative with your response to the negative self-talk, hells, have fun with it! Because the way to deal with it from others is to first deal with it in yourself.

Again, this may well be a gross oversimplification for many, so if you’re not do not let that strengthen the bad self-talk instead! Please!  There are also times to be gentle with yourself.

And to praise yourself!  Never forget that side of it!

I do think there is room, for some, for doing this between two people.  There are even situations where some might seek it out. I have realized one for me, something which …well…is a bit odd.

Although my father never insulted my ability with horses that I can remember, I developed at an early age a need to prove myself to him.  Perhaps this was actually a response to a sense of protectiveness that the feminist child I was resented?  In more recent years  I know my father was quite worried about, first, the crazy abuse survivor, Saoradh, I rescued and, later, my crazy filly, Saorsa, but I was determined to show him in both cases. I did with Saoradh who became calm, happy and no longer so violently reactive in his last years.  But when he died, I seemed to internalize the worry. I became afraid both of “ruining” her and of getting hurt. I became less self-confident with a horse than I have ever been and I ended up seeking a trainer to work with her. And despite that, I just wasn’t getting ti back.  I was getting a great deal of encouragement from my mate and from the trainer…but I couldn’t find it in me.

Then we had a farrier here who flat out told me she was too much horse for me, she’d make a great horse for someone who was confident and I should sell her.  And it was like a fucking light switch went off. After that I began working with her myself and progressed greatly.  Sadly, when he nearly crippled our other mare we had to find another trimmer and I no longer have his reminder to keep that up.  What I do have is a husband confused at why I get annoyed with my doubts come back and he tells me I can do it. Apparently horses are one area where I need someone who makes me say “I’ll show you!” even if they’re not actually taunting me.  (maybe someone will read this and take on the role LOL)

Having identified this one place where I seem to need someone to prove myself to, I can see where that need can be used to strengthen myself. I could see a place for ritualized taunting among warriors. I can also feel that the War Goddesses do do this to us, even today. That perhaps “self talk” isn’t…but then don’t we believers often struggle with who might actually be speaking in our heads (and the accusations non-believers might have on that)? And that, really, it might work best as the taunter is on your side, as Bricriu, Láeg and, most assuredly, the Morrígan really were on Cú Chulainn’s. That such interaction is not adversity but aid. That those taunting know, as does the recipient, that the taunts are lies. And that they’ll be there to praise after. But, sometimes, you have to settle for a know it all asshole who can’t even do his own job adequately.

I do know that there are times when a small murder of crows in a tree I’m going buy when I’m just not feeling into a run feels like more than just a group of wild birds squawking at each other, but are aiming gressacht their remarks at me. I know because it brings up the “I’ll show you!” feeling in me. And I know the difference in the run before and after. And I know the feeling when I put a bit more effort in a run and a chorus of coywolves erupts just as it’s coming to an end, that more than just a local pack calling for a hunt, it’s laíded for my effort. Small moments, but we can find strength in the face of insult and we will feel rewarded. We just have to remember, sometimes the One who taunts will give the deepest praise once we show Her.

See also:
The Morrígan and Cú Chulainn: On Saying “No” 

The Morrígan and Cú Chulainn pt. 3: Of death and dog meat

I also discuss some of this, as well as expand on the nature of the Morrígan “Musings on the Irish War Goddesses” in By Blood, Bone and  Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan Nicole Bonivusto, ed,  Ashville, NC: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2014

Bibliography

A. H. Leahy, ed. and trans, “Táin Bó Regamna,” Heroic Romances of Ireland, Volume II London: David Nutt, 1906 Irish English

Proinsias MacCana, “Láided, Gressacht ‘Formalized Incitement’” Érui vol. 43

Cecile O’Rahilly, trans., Táin Bó Cúalnge from Book of Leinster Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1967 Irish  English

Cecile O’Rahilly, trans. Táin Bó Cúalnge, Recession 1 Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976 Irish English

Copyright © 2013 Saigh Kym Lambert

F- words and several W- words and some stuff that starts with other letters

Actually, it’s mostly “w” I’ll likely discuss here, but the letter “f” probably grabs more attention. ~;p

A recent “discussion” some friends of mine were in, which I won’t go into here brought to light that I don’t always use certain words publicly to describe myself. This has led some people who do not know me to outright say that I reject at least one of them. That would be “witch.” People who claim that are, to put it as politely as I’m able to (as I pointed one to said FB page and STILL haven’t received an apology), full of shit. I do. Note, I use the lower case…it’s not a religious title, it does not have the same meaning as Wiccans attribute to it. In no way would it refer to anything anyone would want to make acceptable to the mainstream society, but we’ll get to that in a moment. The word ties in totally with other words that I am and/or do, some of which also begin with “w.”

The claim of those who wanted me to not use this term because they’ve decided, in their own little minds, that Celtic Reconstructionist Pagans* never, ever, ever use it, is that it’s disrespectful to those in the living culture who do not want it applied to them. Well, I’m NOT applying it to anyone else. I’m applying it to me. I’m doing so for many reasons, some which are more personal than I usually go into. But I want a record, for those who next come across these people making this claim…I am a fucking witch.

Those Big Nose** CRs note that “witch” is used in Gaelic culture (in translation, of course) to refer to a malevolent magic user. This, of course, would fly in the face of those Wiccans and others who are trying to get it “reclaimed” as a nice word, something it never has been. And they are, actually, right, I totally agree. The difference is that while they also want to be acceptable to the mainstream, apparently, I do not. I think that anyone reading this knows I identify my path as that of the Outlaw Warrior Poets, the Fianna and here is our first f-word, being seen as “nice” or “safe” is not part of my agenda.

Now, I am not comfortable using the term “Fianna” for what I am involved in, outright. I would not, that is, I’d not say I belong to the Fianna because that means something particular in modern day Ireland which I’m not a part of (this is not to say whether or not I am supportive, I’ll not bring up such things here, simple to say they have a claim to it that I’m not going to bother challenging). I do describe myself as a ban-fhiannaidh on occasion but I think when I do it’s usually clear that I’ve got my tongue planted in my cheek a bit and, like I do with that w-word you’re all familiar with here, I feel I’m still and probably always will be in this life time just aspiring to it. Perhaps even more so, as I’ve never quite mastered the tests noted in the lore and am of an age where it’s not likely to happen. I might refer to my path as being of the fiannaiocht, the way of the Fianna, inspired by these tales. I tend to skirt around the term, due to the politics, as I noted.

There are other terms in Gaelic for warrior that relate to the outsiders. Díberg is one, which is a term considered far more odious, meaning a “brigand” for which it might be said that fian was Plaque of The Morrigan in chariot sort of a clean-up although that term was not considered particular seemly and properly Christian by the clerics either. (McCone, West) There is, of course, gaisgeach and it’s various forms, which also are found when describing female warriors such as Símha inghen Chorrluirgnig, who is referred to as “…badhb & ban-ghaisgedach do muinntir Ghuill í…” “…witch and warrior-woman in Goll’s retinue….” (Cath Maigh Léna, also Heijda “4.2 Witches”) Oh, there we go that other w-word again.

So, back to that, badb in lower case is found throughout the literature to describe somewhat different classes of beings, as opposed to also being the name of a Goddess who is in the sisterhood with An Morrígan and Macha, and sometimes conflated with the former in a complexity which I’ll get into in a very long article and a longer book someday, maybe. Heijda discusses all of the variant uses and findings of the word badb, including “witch” throughout her essay and especially in the section “4.2 Witches.” That there is this combination of badb probably meaning what we refer to as “witch” and “warrior woman” is, of course, of great interest to me.

We see this sort of combination in various ways, the magic or mystical combined with the warrior woman. Indeed, it’s a strong point of the War Goddesses, including Badb (and again, yeah, it’s coming someday if it doesn’t burst something in my brain first). Scáthach is shown to be a Seer as well as a trainer of warriors. And we have another f-word I use in my practice fàisneachd, prophecy or Sight.

There are other terms which come up for “war witch” that I find interesting but a bit taxing for my limited Old Irish. You see accounts of Goddesses in both the First and Second Battles of Magh Turedh using magic, with a similar but not quite identical term. The term used in the First Battle for Badb, Macha and an Morrígan was bantuathacha which is translated by Fraser as “sorceresses,”(Fraser, pg. 44, para 48) but which is translated by MacAlister LGÉ as “female farmer or landowner.” (MacAlister, pg. 122-123, 160-161 regarding Ernmas, see pg. 150-151, 180-181 and 230-231 regarding Be Chuille and Danann –the last is translated as the odd “farmeresses”) In the Second Battle, Be Chuille and Danann offer spells to Lugh’s question of what all can provide and are referred to as bantúathaid, which would be properly “sorceresses” or “witches” and specifically malevolent ones. (CMT, Gray’s translation para 116-117 , pg. 53-54 in Irish given)

For the actual translations of the words see eDIL for the masculine forms tuathach and túathaid and use the “fuzzy” option as it seems impossible to direct to a translation. While Kondratiev suggests this replacement was a “…misunderstanding of the original word…” (Kondratiev) I wonder if there might have been more to such a change. However, my language skills are not up to such an exploration at this point and right now I sort of just like the idea of witch and farmer being somewhat blurry distinctions. Being that farmer is another f-word I’m aspiring to.

I don’t talk about the witchy or mystical stuff much, in fact I actually started a blog post about my mystical practices several months ago. It ended up becoming a rant on why I don’t write about “woo” and started to feel pointless and so it was greatly truncated and only mentioned as a part of another post. The experiment of writing about magic, trance work, Seership and all that woo-woo witchy stuff remains worked on offline. I’m not really going into it here. I’m just talking about identity here.

And again, I’m a witch. And a would-be warrior. And a Seer.

Along with this those of you who have been paying attention would realize there is another w-word I use, but am often reluctant at using too much or loudly although I have here a few times now…. werewolf. Again, connected to the Fianna/Outlaw Warriors, usually with the Old Irish f-word fáelad or “wolfing.”(McCone, West) When it comes to female werewolves the legal tracks mention confail conrecta “a woman who likes to stray in wolf-shape” (Bitel, pg. 219-220, Carey, pg. 64-68) although whether she might stray with the warbands is not mentioned. But you never know, I mean, they were wandering about too. Wandering outside of society….hmmmmm…..

Just as my definition of “witch” has nothing to do with the way Wiccans or many others in the NeoPagan community use it, my sort of wolfiness has nothing to do with Otherkin or therianthropy communities either. There are many differences, one again being the angst over being “understood” or accepted or what ever which is often a central theme. Or angst in general. I’m not some lost soul born in the wrong body, I’m someone who seeks deeply into myself and the Otherworld to embrace a beast that I can be and I’m the only one who has to embrace it…or can. It’s again about seeking that wilderness, about becoming primal in my body and taking a particular form to travel “astrally” and not about seeking an online community. (I have noted before that A Wolf-Man, Not A Wolf In Man’s Clothing is the one blogger out there who I can relate to at all on this, although we do vary in many ways as well)

All these things I am were not considered favorable by the ancient Irish societal laws that we know, which were Christian. We have no way of knowing, truly, what the pre-Christians thought of them, but these things were, in fact, considered “other” and, yes, “pagan.” These were indeed seen as negative things, but I embrace them and rather than embrace the thinking that shunned them. I have no interest in bringing them out of the wild. In the Brehon laws, none of these things that I am were given honor price nor even sick maintenance. (Kellly, also Bitel, pg. 219-220, Carey, pg. 64-68 specific to female werewolves)

Being outside, being counter-culture, being subversive to a sick society was once embraced by many of us, but sometimes I feel alone. In the ’70s, and yes I’m old enough to remember, the word “witch” was adopted by many feminists to equate with a woman who was dangerous to the patriarchy and to the gender status quo. At the time there was even some contention between feminists who never heard of Wicca and the Wiccans who felt they alone owned the term (as some still do), but, of course, some of those women became Wiccan and even developed their own traditions. Many already felt that was giving into a mainstream. I like “witch” for some of the same reasons they did, as well.

There is a power to being outside that I think some forget. The “noble savage” might be a naive trope, but the reality of what that can mean in a real sense about morality is something we might want to consider. It is much like the issue of if we can be “good” if we do not believe in eternal punishment, can we be good if we reject a society’s notion of “good” and “evil?” Is what is outside malevolent and dangerous not because it’s truly evil, but because it doesn’t obey the cultural constricts of what “good” and “evil” mean? Is there not more honor in being good and just when there is no societal reward for it, when, in fact, society may not truly be good or just? Am I stuck in the past because I still believe in this? Fortunately, there are those Occupying the streets of many cities for several weeks now who also are questioning this. So, no maybe not.

I do not fully understand why some who I know embraced these ideas have become so fully invested in placating those who wish to restrain us. But I put this out there so that if anyone has any question as to whether I have changed my status with culture, it is here. I am a witch, I am a would-be Outlaw Warrior Poet, I am wolfish at times, I am a Seer and a mystic. Don’t fucking tell anyone any different.

(For more about warrior women in Irish Literature see Once Upon A Time…. and The Warrior who Knew No Art of Wounding for more on my trying to put this shit together see A place where things come together, Weighing things out and Ramblings about Serving the War Goddesses or…)

Bibliography

Lisa Bitel, Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996

John Carey, “Werewolves in Medieval Ireland,” Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 44 (Winter 2002)

Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired in Irish Elizabeth Gray, trans. Dublin: Irish Text Society

Cath Maigh Léna for the Irish, Kenneth H. Jackson, ed. Cath Maighe Léna Dublin: 1930 or E. Curry, ed & tr, Cath Mhuighe Léana or The Battle of Mag Léana together with Tochmarc Moméra or the Courtship of Moméra Dublin: 1855; J. Fraser “The First Battle of Moytura.” Ériu 8, 1915, English translation

Fergus Kelly. A Guide to Early Irish Law, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (School of Celtic Studies), 2001

Alexie Kondratiev, “Danu and Bile: The Primordial Parents?”

 

RAS MacAlister, ed. and trans., Lebor Gabála Érenn: The Book of the Taking of Ireland Vol IV. Dublin:Irish Text Society, 1941

Kim McCone, “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Díberga and Fíanna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland” Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, issue 12, 1986

Máire West, “Aspects of Díberg in the Tale Togail Bruidne Da Derga,” Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie (ZcP), Volume 49-50

*They also do not like “Pagan” and all I’ll say to that is that yes, I DID initially use “Pagan” and that was the original term “Celtic Reconstructionist PAGAN” because otherwise what the fuck are we reconstructing? “Celtic?” No, we’re reconstructing Pagan paths based on the Celtic culture we’re called to/come from/whatever. Anything else is as big an insult to the living culture as I can think of. If they do not like the “Pagan” part why the fuck are they using my term at all? And, YES, I was the first…for several years before others who claim to have “founded” it ever used it and even longer before they actually stopped doing Wiccan ritual by their own fucking admission at the time.

“Big Nose Pagan” has long been a term used in place of “Big Name Pagans” especially for those who aren’t really that big of name but do like to stick their noses in other people’s business.

Copyright © 2011 Kym Lambert
Graphic
Copyright © JBL Statues

The Warrior who Knew No Art of Wounding

In a previous post I noted the idea of finding inspiration in the stories of ancient Gaelic ban-fhénnid and indeed you can find many tales online and in books retelling and extrapolating these stories to be more positive than they may have been. One issue, of course, is that not all of these retellings are labeled as such, this is especially true, it seems, within the NeoPagan community but a second source tends to be tourist literature. There are many out there who think they know more about Scáthach or Medb than is really in the texts, which if given the label Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis is fine, but at least in the non-Pagan sources UPG certainly isn’t a factor. There is, btw, quite a great deal on Medb in the text that is not so widely shared, while Scáthach actually has far less material on her. (Diana Veronica Dominguez, Historical Residues in the Old Irish Legends of Queen Medb: An Expanded Interpretation of the Ulster Cycle, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010 is an excellent study of Medb using tales often not bothered with, making her far more human and far less a joke than what is usually focused on)

I believe one of the keys to using these stories wisely, is to be very clear about the fact we are making changes to them. Again looking at Medb, especially as examined by Dominquez, we can retell her story through what we as women can imagine are her eyes, rather than of the male eye which may use the tale to mock a woman making war. We can also emphasize things that some scholars choose to ignore in retelling her story. In order to point out that her quest for the bull in the Táin Bó Cúalnge is the folly of a haughty woman, it’s often left out that she, in fact, also had a reasonable quest for revenge against her former husband Conchobar, who had raped her and killed her son . Medb’s story really has a lot to offer in retelling without actually changing much or adding anything. Yet in retelling it we must be clear that it’s a different perspective from the way the Ulster Tales came down to us, possibly a different perspective than it was viewed by anyone before.

Scáthach, and most of the other warrior women in the texts, we really don’t have much on. It’s in this that we see that while there may be many female warrior names banted about, their stories are very much peripheral to the stories of male warriors, saints or they died horribly in place-name tales. If we tell more of her story than what is in the texts, we likewise need to be clear. For many of us these tellings might be UPG,even SPG (Shared Personal Gnosis), but to those who don’t believe, or simply don’t believe your UPG, stories from such sources are merely modern fictions. I believe it’s okay to have them, we just must be clear that these are not from the source.

Even Macha Mong Ruadh, whose story as a warrior queen is short but quite detailed and positive for her, I believe (although, you know, everyone dies at some point in every tale), offer’s caution. When we tell the tale we might be clear that when she lures the brothers one-by-one into the forest she overtakes them by her own hand. But it’s not actually told what happens in those woods. Someone who does not see women as capable of overpowering men, oh what sheltered lives they must lead, might be thinking she used magic, the only power many think women can ever have, especially those who don’t believe in magic, or had warriors waiting even if this version notes that she bound them.

So, yes, we can retell, we can extrapolate, but we must be clear that’s what we’re doing. And I think we also must take care not to go too far. After all, if a story is of a woman who is clearly not a fighter, why make her so when there are those who are? If we’re going to totally create a new character, should we give her a name of one that is the opposite of what she is. And while we might do this in fiction, non-fiction commentary on literature and history should be way out.

The most stunning example of completely changing the story of a woman in the texts, and not revealing that it is a modern fiction and not what is in the texts, is not actualy from either NeoPagan or a tourism agency, it’s from academic and novelist Peter Berresford Ellis.

I think he was even stretching it to describe Erni (aka Erne for whom Aerial view of Lough Erne Lough Erne was named) as Medb’s warrior his “Peter Tremayne” novel Badger’s Moon (Sister Fidelma #13, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), however, he lists her as such also in Celtic Women: Women in Celtic Society and Literature (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996 pg. 73). This is now happily repeated by countless NeoPagan websites and by Jessica Amanda Salmonson in The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era (University of Michigan, Pagagon Press, 1991). Admittedly, her work is full of poorly substantiated entries, with fiction and historical women noted as equally valid, but in this case she might be forgiven, for scholar Ellis says Erni is a mighty warrior, so we should admire her great deeds. Mighty is Erni!

Um…..

Before recounting, with citation, Erni’s great deeds, I’m going to be perfectly honest, Ellis obviously has better resources than I do, so maybe there’s some lost tale about Erne (yeah, I keep changing the last letter, “e” seems more common, he uses “i” and we’re discussing his work so, I’m trying to use “i” when referring to his work) that indicates this, that is totally opposite the versions I could find. If so, I shall happily stand corrected and rejoice in the finding of another warrior woman. The problem is, Ellis doesn’t cite his sources (bad academic, no biscuit!).

Here are her deeds, the bold emphasis is mine, the italics are not but rather indicate a mistranslation noted on the website source, see note next to it:

13. The chaste Erne, who knew no art of wounding,
50] the daughter of loud-shouting Borg Bán
(the warrior was an overmatch for a powerful third)
the white-skinned son of Mainchin son of Mochu.

14. The noble Erne, devoid of martial spirit, (footnote here notes correct translation is ‘free from venom’)
was chief among the maidens
in Rath Cruachan, home of lightsome sports:
women not a few obeyed her will.

15. To her belonged, to judge of them,
the trinkets of Medb, famed for combats,
her comb, her casket unsurpassed,
60] with her fillet of red gold.

16. There came to thick-wooded Cruachu Olcai
with grim and dreadful fame,
and he shook his beard at the host,
the sullen and fiery savage.

17. 65] The young women and maidens
scattered throughout Cruach Cera
at the apparition of his grisly shape
and the roughness of his brawling voice.

18. Erne fled, with a troop of women,
70] under Loch Erne, that is never dull,
and over them poured its flood northward and
drowned them all together.
The Metrical Dindshenchas, English: The Irish

That the more accurate translation is “free from venom” is actually interesting, given this would say that she’s not only not a warrior, but also harmless “even for a woman.” Poison being commonly considered a “woman’s weapon” by those who have throughout history seen us incapable of actual confrontational violence.

For comparison, the The Edinburgh Dinnshenchas tells the same tale and includes:

Erne with pride, a pure union,
Daughter of good Borg the Bellowing,
She fled — no deed to boast of —
Under Lough Erne for exceeding fear.
The Edinburgh Dinnshenchas, Whitley Stokes, ed. and trans., Folklore 4 (1893) pg. 476, English The Irish pg. 476

The Dinnshenchas of Dubthar, from the Book of Lecan, offers other versions, again with much fleeing and concern with chastity the “insult to the honour of her noble father.” The Irish manuscript series, Vol. 1, Part 1, pg. 186-189

None of these show much warrior tendency, is there a version that does? If so, I’d love to see it and also know what period it is from. Are these the changes from an earlier warrior tale? Sadly, I’m very doubtful that any such tale exists.

Understand, that I see no shame in a woman who is not a warrior to run from a potential rapist. In fact, in most cases, I recommend running to non-professional warrior women, usually after disabling the guy in some way to increase your odds and make him easier for the authorities to catch. However, such mannerisms do not speak of a mighty warrior, a professional warrior according to Ellis, a warrior to a warrior queen. I do not understand why he’d claim she was. So maybe there’s a tale I can’t find?

I think as we tell ourselves stories from the past in ways that are more empowering to us than may have been intended by the original tellers, that we avoid going this far. And avoid making out that a woman in the story is something quite opposite of what she is. I don’t really understand what motivation Ellis might have had in calling Erne a warrior, I’m sure he’s seen all versions of this (and maybe another). But while we might want to find more warriors in the ancient stories, we need to look harder and not change the tales completely.

Text copyright © 2011 Kym Lambert
Photo of Lough Erne from Department of the Environment (DOE) Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) used under terms of Open Government License.

A place where things come together

My gym, with photo shopped wolf picture someone never did make me for itAs I wasn’t writing much about Gaelic spirituality at the time I started this blog, having started at a time of conflict, flux and burn out in the community and taking things more private for awhile, I have realized it might seem a sudden switch to some of my readers. While the intent of this was always to be about various aspects of the warrior path in my life and how they came together, the focus had been on fitness, self-defense and popular culture. That itself might seem quite a mix to some. But it really is in my interest in the warrior ways of ancient Ireland and Scotland that all those things come together, the physical training and the importance of story.

I’m not good at compartmentalizing. Somethings need to be, however, and therefore when I wanted a space to blog about homesteading and to share with my husband, I made another blog Dùn Sgàthan Notes, I also joined a blog for horse advocacy although between three of us we seem a bit too overwhelmed by it all to post much. Then, in order to share space for writing about things related to The Sarah Connor Charm School, I created a blog for the group. This last is the most likely to have cross-posting. (What am I saying? The only thing I’ve posted there so far has been reposts of things from here. I hope this doesn’t annoy those who might read both.)

But this blog is for all things related to women on the warrior path, however diverse that may be for me. It’s a place where things come together for me in my practice. Now I also have a real space location that brings things together, as well.

For years now I’ve had limited space for exercise equipment. Usually a small room, which usually means that things overflowed into the rest of the house.It lead to some bad habits, like making a stop by the computer in between sets, removing my focus.

When I was planning to build my own house, it was actually pretty much centered around the idea of having a gym. A gym/temple, really. But I never built my house. A decade ago we moved into the “in-law apartment” of my parents’ home. Since their deaths, we now own the house…and we still live in the apartment. I wasn’t ready to use the rest, the apartment is smaller and easier to care for and heat and it just doesn’t “flow” into the rest easily. But we decided to find ways to expand into the rest. And, it of course, started with a gym.

Moving the living room Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor doing chin-ups in Terminator 2furniture out of the way (come spring most of it will be moved completely out), we put down padded flooring, moved in the weights, benches, heavy bag. We added a pull-up and dip tower, as I have given up, for now, on finding the perfect bed frame to turn on it’s side. When things are moved out more we’ll have more open space, especially to work the bag, and probably get more equipment over time.

And in the far corner is a shrine. I may be the only Polytheist, especially the only HARD Polytheist, out there who has a shrine in her gym with a statue of An Morrígan and a figure of Sarah Connor. I hope these are joined by a figure or picture of Scáthach or other literary Irish warrior woman, or many, but I’m not finding the right one(s). I’m looking for well done and muscular, tattooed would be nice but muscle is more important. I have some great ideas in my head but a lifetime frustration of never being able to get such images out onto paper (my sister got that talent). I do have a list, a sort of prayer, instead:

I serve the War Goddesses
Badb and Macha and An Morrigan, whose name is Anand
Fea and Nemain, Bé Néit
I follow in the footsteps of the banfénnidi
Macha Mongruadh
Ness ingen Echach Sálbuidi
Medb ingen Echach Feidlig
Creidne
Scáthaig Buanand ingen Ardgeimme
Aifi ingen Ardgeimme
Bodbmall
Líath Lúachra
Luas Lurgann
Étsine
Bréfne
Símha ingen Chorrluirgnig
Bec ingen Conchoraig
Lithben ingen Aitreabhthaigh
Truth in our Hearts, Strength in our Arms, Fulfillment in our Tongues

(ETA April 2012: I have changed this over this time period, please read this post on why and how it reads now)

There are photos all around of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Some, now collected in a frame, are worn, faded, damaged, having gone from apartment to apartment with me for years, the first for 20 years this year, taped to the walls of various “workout rooms.” Likewise, there are similar pictures of Kathy Long. Later these were joined by Demi Moore doing one-armed push-ups as Lt. Jordan O’Neal in G.I. Jane (this also includes the statement “Failure Is Not An Option” at top and D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Self-Pity” at the bottom) and Sigourney Weaver as Ripley 8. But now I have more pristine photos of Linda, with autographs, including one of us together. I’ll be printing more from ComicCon to go up, too.

But while An Morrígan and Sarah Connor grace my shrine, it is not to say that the two images are the same. One is a representation of my Goddess, the other is a representation of a role model. As a hard Polytheist I do not believe that the Goddesses and Gods are archetypes. They are real and They are many. Even a Goddess I worship of the same name as a Goddess you worship might not even be the same Goddess. We are limited, They are not so much, we do not always know who They are, only Who They tell us and They may tell us to meet our always limited understanding.

And while I might be limited, I’m not completely simple either. I have no problem with both worshiping Goddesses I believe are very real and alive and being inspired by stories both ancient and modern. For me Sarah Connor and other modern role models are as potent as the ancient ones of Ness and Scáthach and other literary figures who I also do not believe are degraded* Goddesses but humans in the tales.

So this space, this very sacred space to me, is filled with images that represent the warrior path for me. It allows me to stay far more focused and mindful, more reverent than I have been for some time when working out with weights. I meditate, usually sitting on the balance ball, before the shrine between sets. I focus on what I am doing, what I am offering. Because working out is worship for me, a practice that deteriorated by bad habits, which now I am breaking.

There are no offering plates on this shrine as there are on my others. The offering is my blood, sweat and tears. If something else is demanded there, it will be given, but the focus here is on the work of the body. And where that meets the spirit.

 

*Yes, I know even some Celtic scholars these days use “euhermerized” but this word actually means the opposite; it actually means that the historical becomes mythological, that humans become Deities, not the other way around.

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Text and top photo copyright ©2011 Kym Lambert, wolf picture is currently photoshopped but a similar one will go there Drawing copyright © 2002 Aaron Miller
Photo of Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2 copyright © 1991 Carolco, currently owned by Pacificor LLC

Once Upon A Time….

Once upon a time, I believed that the past was filled with women warriors and there was a great deal of evidence for it especially among the Celtic cultures. Oh, a minority for sure, but there was so much evidence. Such as Boudicca, whose story is told in this video (from the BBC shorts Horrible Histories), Scáthach, Aoife, Medb….the list goes on especially from Ireland, as well as the Cáin Adamnáin. After all, warriors wouldn’t follow a woman if they didn’t have faith in women as warriors, there wouldn’t be all these stories if there were no women warriors, there would be no need to outlaw women warriors if there were no women warriors…..

Now I no longer believe that. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I believe there were Celtic women warriors. What I stopped believing was that there is any good evidence.

It took me a long time to get here and even when I was I was at first a bit reticent about it. After all, I AM writing a book on the Gaelic warrior path for women. The slowness was in part due to the fact that many renown Celticists have supported the that this is evidence, usually just in passing and often citing such evidence as noted above. For example Nora Chadwick stated following noting the Cáin as well that, “Taking what we’re told of Gaulish women warriors by classical writers, together with Boudicca, Cartimandua and Maeve, and with these stories, we cannot but wonder whether there was not some such institution among the most ancient of Celtic people.” (The Celts pg. 136, see below) She is hardly alone in such statements.

As I started up Teh Project again, however, I couldn’t let things go “just in passing.” I actually had to face the evidence issue, because it is something that we must confront and be truthful about. That there is no good evidence, yet I whole heartedly do still believe there were some women warriors in the early Gaelic cultures.

My belief is based simply on the simple fact that no matter how misogynist and repressive a culture is, there are always some women who are of a warrior nature. They may not be accepted as part of mainstream armies or able to openly show themselves to be both women and warriors. They may have been forced adopt the guise of men. They may have been pirates, highwaywomen, outlaws of some kind. And Outlaw in the Gaelic form is something we’ll discuss in a moment.

This puts me in lonely place in the on going debate within both Celtic studies and the Pagan Community about women warriors. Because one side continues to use this evidence, while the other refutes it as evidence or even claims that because because these women warriors typically have supernatural powers it means that there never could have been any women warriors (one would think they never heard of Fionn Mac Cumhail and Cú Chulainn or seem to think that their skills are common among men?). Those who take this view, and there are too many to cite here (go on nearly any “Celtic” email list and dare to write the words “women warriors” and you’ll find them), often also include a deep seated belief that women are inherently unable to be warriors, for example Michael Enright’s unsubstantiated (in a book otherwise filled with obsessive citations) long ranty footnote about how women are constructed in such a way as to not have any ability to fight at all. (Lady With a Mead Cup, pg. 211) It should be noted his evidence for women as Seers, and only Seers, in the warbands mostly consists of exploring stories with some mix of history, when it comes to the Irish tales he only considers to Feidelm, not, for example, Scáthach who was both warrior and Seer).

So here’s the problem with the “evidence” in a nutshell (yeah, I’m going to make you wait to see if I finish Teh Project for more details nah nah nah nah nah):

A lot of women have led armies who have no experience with warfare in history, for instance Joan D’Arc; others have been rulers who sent armies into war, pretty much any ruling queen. (Fraser, The Warrior Queens) Boudicca may have been a trained warrior or she may have been a symbol of hope through horror who male warriors fought for but had never fought herself, we actually do not know. Those who tell us of her, Tacitus and Cassius Dio had only others’ tales to repeat. There is good propaganda, which we’ll also consider in a moment, for a patriarchal culture to have an enemy who supposedly said “”We Britons are used to women commanders in war; I am the daughter of mighty men.” (see also The Agricola and The Germania)

Nor do they tell us anything about whether other women fought under Boudicca or not. The idea is pervasive, but we don’t have evidence. All we have is a bit of logic and the knowledge that during times of crisis, during uprisings and civil wars, women often did take up arms even if it was not the norm. Often they were the push aside and their stories seldom told. (Goldstein, War and Gender)

Other Roman’s such as Ammianus Marcellinus and Diodorus Siculus tell us of Celtic women as big as the Celtic men and as or more courageous and formidable in a fight. The problem with these accounts, however, is that it’s a common tactic for for patriarchal cultures to paint the enemy males as effeminate by claiming their women are masculine and not in proper control, therefore, fighting. (see Goldstein, War and Gender). Again, it may or may not be true, but you can’t use the source as actual proof.

But I’m not writing about Gauls or Britons, I’m writing about Gaelic women warriors, there are tons of them, right? Indeed. In the Irish literature. In fact, along with the well known Medb, Scáthach and Aoife, as well as the Warrior Goddesses, Badb, Macha and Morrígan, who is Anann, there are others. The problem is, they are all stories, some not very flattering to the women warriors. It’s as simple as that.

And people do write, and even fear, things that aren’t real, (think Aliens, for example) so while the fact they’re fiction does not prove women warriors didn’t exist, although I’ve seen such claims actually made on “Celtic” mailing lists, on the basis that the women tend to have supernatural capabilities yet no one claims that stories of the amazing abilities of Cú Chulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhail prove there were no male warriors, it also doesn’t really prove they did. It’s inspirational, it’s hopeful, it’s not proof. And while some may call them myths and proclaim they are a “window” to the Pre-Christian ways, that has been refuted by current scholars. (see, Mallory, ed. Aspects of…, McCone, Pagan Past.., Nagy, Conversing with…)

But certainly no one would make a law forbidding something that wasn’t taking place and the Cáin Adamnáin outlaws women warriors. Well, the citation thing here is getting dense for a blog post, so I’ll let you go looking for silly laws, some are just silly things to have laws about but others just aren’t going to be an issue. But the problem here is that that’s not what the original law Adamnán, or someone, issued. The Lex Innocentium or “Law of the Innocents,” was a much shorter proclamation that clerics, women and children were not to be harmed during warfare, as non-combatants and the punishments if one did. The prologue where the Saint and his mother see butchered women and she forces her son to protect them, actually claims that in Pagan times all Irish women were slaves, the best of them forced by their husbands to fight against each other, not glorious, autonomous warriors. It becomes a problem to claim this shows there were women warriors unless you want to claim those women warriors were slaves. (Kelly, …Early Irish Law and Bitel, Land of Women, pg. 85, 103-110, 211, 223)

What about archaeological evidence? As far as I’ve been able to find, after much looking, and I’m still trying to get more resources on this, there hasn’t been any. And it’s always a problematic evidence where it is found. Burial practices vary a lot, sometimes cremation was used, sometimes there are artifacts and sometimes not and we don’t really know when there are if they were used in life or indicated something else.

Female burials with weapons are often credited with being warrior women (Davis-Kimball and Behan, Warrior Women), but in some cases this may not be correct. As Deborah J. Shepherd points out in “The Elusive Warrior Maiden Tradition: Bearing Weapons in Anglo-Saxon Society” (in Carman and Harding, eds. Ancient Warfare pg. 222-224) in Anglo-Saxon culture it was known that sonless men would name their daughter as a surrogate son and she’d carry weapons as a symbol of that position, but seemingly never would be trained with them. It’s been pointed out that we need osteoarchaeological study of remains to determine if someone buried with them used them in life; perhaps we need to do so in order to see if those not buried with weapons might have trained as well. (see Hanks, “Reconsidering Warfare, Status, and Gender,” iLinduff and Rubinson, eds. Are All Warriors Male? pg. 15-34, see the rest of this book for various views on various cultures)

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Meave painting by J.C. Leyendecker 1907
So what the hells am I doing here, championing the concept of a modern Gaelic warrior path for women, I believe there is no evidence, if I in fact refute the evidence so many believe in? Well, sometimes I wonder. ~;p But really, it’s simple, as I already noted, I still believe there were women warriors, based only on circumstantial evidence as it were. Including the very personal knowledge that no matter what, some women just are called to this path, no matter what their culture might dictate. It may be a small number, but we exist and it’s unlikely there weren’t a few in any culture. “Few” never means “none.” It might make them hard to find, however.

Goldstein estimates the number of women warriors as 1%…that is both 1% of warriors are women and 1% of women are warriors…on average through the world and time. At the moment he estimates it’s about 3% although he’s noting only within the military, not LEO or others who may be described as warriors. (Goldstein, War and Gender, pg 10-11) And he notes not all of these women are in combat positions (although, of course, many non-combat personnel see combat these days…something that’s been true a lot throughout history). Given this, it’s not always hard to hide that 1-3% and can be very difficult to find.

So, I don’t believe there were a LOT of women warriors, but there were some. I also believe that they may not have been part of the culture, that is, I in the regular tribal groups there may only have been male warriors. I think the place female warriors might have existed is Outside, in the Outlaw warrior bands. While we can’t take it, obviously, as actual proof, it’s interesting that the words for “woman warrior” are, from what I’ve found, either a form of ban-fhénnid or bangaisgedh, which tend to indicate an Outlaw Warrior.

While clerics were happily writing tales of tribal matters, the stories of the Fianna, which when mentioned in saints tales were interchangeable with díberga, weren’t recorded until later (McCone, “Werewolves, …”). While we know that young males, prior to attaining their adult rights, would be in these bands, which is also shown in the tales of Fionn, Red and black Pictish Wolf by Aaron MillerMcCone finds it likely that there were men who were never given inheritance who remained. In the tales Fionn is an example. He doesn’t speculate about women in the bands, but Nagy notes those associated with Fionn himself, especially his fosterers. (The Wisdom of the Outlaw) In most of the tales we have of women involved, with the exception of Fionn’s fosterers and Aoife, who is so named (Scáthach isn’t, but is clearly a woman warrior who is Outside the culture in question), the women likewise are only ban-fhénnid for the time they must be for revenge. (Nessa and Creidne, for example) If women remained in the wilderness throughout their lives, how would we even know about it?

Another hint might be that although the early Christian Irish laws tended to see women as incapable of harming any but children and other women, there was concern over female werewolves. (confail conrecta, “a woman who likes to stray in wolf-shape, from Bitel, pg. 219-220, Carey, “Werewolves” pg. 64-68) McCone has made the connection between werewolves and the Outlaw Warriors, of course. (“Werewolves, Cyclopes,….”). It is a connection which intrigues me greatly.

Unfortunately, this is purely speculative and based on the stories. I hope we do get the archaeological evidence someday, but until then, my theory is that we should look to the stories for their inspiration. Many are uninspiring, with the women not shown in good light. I think it’s reasonable to retell these to ourselves in more positive ways, with the constant caveat that it’s not the way the stories went. We find inspiration in modern stories.

Stories, ancient or modern, inspire us, stories let us build our own stories, stories become true for us if we make them so. That’s why I am doing this.

Bibliography

Lisa Bitel, Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996

John Carey, “Werewolves in Medieval Ireland,” Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 44 (Winter 2002)

John Carman and Anthony Harding, eds. Ancient Warfare: Archaeological Perspectives, Gloustershire: Sutton Publishing, 2004

Cassius Deo, Roman History

Nora Chadwick, The Celts: A Lucid and Fascinating History, New York: Penguin Books, 1971

Jeannine Davis-Kimball and Mona Behan. Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines, New York: Warner Books, 2002

Michael Enright, Lady With a Mead Cup: Ritual Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from La Tene to the Viking Age Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007

Antonia Fraser. The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women who have led Their Nations in War New York: Vintage Books, 1990

Joshua S. Goldstein, War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001

Fergus Kelly, A Guide to Early Irish Law, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (School of Celtic Studies), 2001

Katheryn M. Linduff and Karen S. Rubinson, eds. Are All Warriors Male? Gender Roles on the Ancient Eurasian Steppe, Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2008

Kim McCone, “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Díberga and Fíanna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland” Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, issue 12, 1986

Kim McCone, Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature, Maynooth: An Sagart, 1990

J. P. Mallory, ed. Aspects of The Táin, Belfast: December Publications, 1992

Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History, Book 15. London: Bohn, 1862

Kuno Meyer, Cáin Adamnáin: an old-Irish treatise on the law of Adamnan, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905

Kuno Meyer, Fianaigecht :being a collection of hitherto inedited Irish poems and tales relating to Finn and his Fiana, Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1910

Joseph Falaky Nagy. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985

Joseph Falaky Nagy, Conversing with Angels and Ancient: Literary Myths of Medieval Ireland, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997

Diodorus Siculus The Library of History

Whitley Stokes, trans, “Scéla Conchobair maic Nessa/The Tidings of Conchobar son of Ness,Ériu vol. II. London: David Nutt, 1908

Tacitus, The Annals of Tacitus

Tacitus, (M. Mattingly and S. A. Handford, trans.) The Agricola and The Germania, New York: Penguin Books, 1970

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copyright ©2011 Kym Lambert
Meave painting
by J.C. Leyendecker 1907 for Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Ancient Irish Sagas”
Pictish Wolf reproduction © 2002 Aaron Miller