Irish Goddesses The Goddesses of the Tuath Dé, (the magical, mythical race known as the Sidhe, the Bright and Shining Ones, the Ever Living Ones, or the Faery folk) still live on in the myths and legends of ancient Ireland, in the energy of her sacred landscape and in the places of power where these Goddesses once lived. Ireland herself is named after the Goddess Ériu, an archetypal earth goddess, mother goddess, fertility goddess and sovereignty goddess. Ériu married the High King in an inauguration ceremony at the Royal Site of Uisneach, bestowing upon him the right to rule. This is echoed in tales of other sovereignty goddesses, Brigid, Maeve, Áine and Macha. Goddesses were often depicted as three in one, either three sisters like Ériu, Banba and Fodhla, or the three Morrigu, The Morrigan, Badb and Macha, or even three aspects of the same goddess: maiden, mother and crone. They presided over every aspect of life and death, from the fiery goddesses of death and battle, to the nurturing goddesses of healing such as Áirmid, Goddess of Herbs. Goddesses could appear in many guises and forms, sometimes shapeshifting into birds or animals or appearing as an old crone and transforming into a beautiful young girl. They were many dimensional, multifaceted and all powerful, for example Brigid, Sun Goddess, Goddess of Imbolc, Goddess of Fire and Water, skilled at smithcraft and poetry, associated with healing, fertility and childbirth, who is now worshipped as Saint Brigid and still associated with the season of Spring, protection, healing wells to this day. Every aspect of nature, the elements, seasons and the landscape was worshipped and attributed to Goddesses, from the creation myths of an Cailleach who is associated with multiple sacred sites in the Irish landscape, for example Knowth, the Beara peninsula and especially Sliabh na Callaigh (Loughcrew) where she dropped an apron of stones on the hilltops forming the cairns, to the legends of the Goddess Boann, whose name means White Cow. Boann’s death in a flood from the Well of Segais created the river Boyne, which in legend is said to mirror the Milky Way galaxy, mBealach na Bó Finne, the Way of the White Cow. As well as being the Goddess of the river Boyne, Boann was a Moon Goddess and a Fertility Goddess. The Goddess was seen everywhere in the land, from the Paps of Anu (Danu, the Mother Goddess) to the Hill of Tlachtga, an Earth Goddess associated with Samhain, whose name means Earth Spear or Lightning Bolt. Áine, the Faery Queen, a Sun Goddess, was especially associated with Summer Solstice and her abode is at Knockainey, close to Lough Gur in Munster.
Text by Treasa Kerrigan
Treasa runs regular public and private spiritual tour guides on various sacred sites in Ireland. www.sacredsites.ie