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Irish Folklore


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The parallels between Irish and Nordic/Teutonic folklore are numerous.


The Irish battle goddesses often appear in bird form. Badb means crow, and the Morrigan is called Battle Crow (an badb catha).


Lug and Tiwaz were more than war gods, although both were sometimes equated with the Roman Mars.


There are parallels between Lug and Odin. Both had supernatural horses, and both had famous spears.


Both Lug and Odin were associated with crows and ravens, the birds of the battlefield.


Both Lug and Odin were associated with supernatural women who affected the outcome of battles.


H.R. Ellis-Davidson believes the Valkyries may have links with the “spirit wives” of Northern Eurasian shamans.


These spirit wives protect their human husbands when they journey to the Other World, and fight hostile spirits on their behalf.


The Valkyries are linked to birds, particularly ravens. In Irish tales female spirits were associated with battle and death.


Brian Branston claims that the wychez and Valkyries (ie spirit wives) were connected with the grave and death. They came riding over the land shrieking as they went. (The Lost Gods of Britain. Thames and Hudson. London. 1974 page 106)


Branston tells us that the Waelkyries (in old English) were identified with the Greek Erinyes, (who were older that the gods), in 8th and 9th century Old English manuscripts.


The Erinyes were the ancient Greek Furies, the black terrors who led the dead – the damned souls. Was this ancient folk memory the origin of the Wild Hunt?


The Morrigan could appear as a lovely girl to tempt warriors. The Valkyries also offered to sleep with warriors.


The battle goddesses have links with water as well as crows and ravens.


The territorial goddess, who represented the sovereignty of Ireland, was both a death goddess and a battle goddess. She sat in state with Lug in the Other World.


Both the territorial goddess and the Morrigan could present as a hideous hag or a beautiful woman.


The territorial goddess would profer a cup to the man destined to be king. Ellis Davidson recalls the Valkyrie who offers a horn in Norse iconography.


Ellis-Davidson points out that Patricia Lysaght linked the banshee with the territorial goddess. This may explain why the banshee is associated with ancient families who have long resided in the same locality.


Aine was a member of the Sid (sic). She lived in a fairy mound in Lumerick with her father. She was allegedly attached to the O’Corra family in the 19th century.


It was customary to carry bundles of burning hay and straw around the hill called Croc Aine on St John’s Eve. This was then taken to the fields to bless cattle!


Three goddesses (Badb, Fodla and Eriu) confronted the Milesians when they invaded Ireland. It was agreed that the Milesians should rule the surface of the land. The Tuatha de Danann were supreme in the underworld and the burial mounds.


The Book of Invasions cannot be viewed as history. However, in all probability it does contain genuine memories of the disparate people who settled in Ireland.


It was believed that the Enchanted World could be reached by sea, or entered through a burial mound. Beautiful women from this Other World tempted human lovers.


Source: Ellis-Davidson H.R. Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, Syracuse University Press New York 1988.

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It is little surprise these neighboring cultures had so much in common as the were both seafaring people who likely often came in contact. Modern reconstructionalists often look neighboring cultures for inspiration for modern Irish magical practices.


Great information Bill :-)

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Great little piece to chew over. Found the links between the black birds/death/battle interesting and I think I recall these symbols appearing in other cultures as well though it's been a loong day and I cannot shake the brain too hard. Thanks for posting this!

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Hmm, I wonder how much Odin and the Morrigan have in common with Lucifer and Lilith. I see some parralells here.

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  • 1 year later...

Just a quick comment before I go shopping with my partner, according to our legends and stories, the Tuatha Dé Danann were not native to Ireland, rather they came from across the sea rather the Formorians were the original people/gods of Ireland before any of the invaders came. Where they came from exactly is never stated for sure, so who knows.


Also it should be noted that the Vikings have a huge influence on our culture and stories, as they invaded and ruled Ireland for a long time, and therefore some legends may have changed over time to match their native norse stories and gods.

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