CELTIC TALES

I wrote the stories below based on fragments of old myths that I have come across. Some believe that the Tuatha Dé Danann, a supernatural race in Irish mythology who were said to dwell in the other-world, were gods, fallen angels or the original ancestors. Whatever you believe, these ancient tales still speak to the soul and because of their strange power they have survived the passing of time. In later folklore, they evolved into the Aos Sí or (fairies) and the Fairy Faith, which along with their stories has also lived on in the hearts of mankind.

CELTIC CREATION STORY 

In the time before remembering, there was only the sacred three. The land below, the sea around and the sky above. One day, the blue sea kissed the sandy shore with her sea-foam lips and not long after felt a storm arise in her vast belly. The storm raged for a eleven months until this divine union produced a white mare. Her name was Eiocha. She was a wonder to behold. The foal stayed beside her mother the sea, only leaving her side to graze upon the green land that was her father’s body. 


When Eiocha was fully grown, she ate seeds from the lord of the forest, the great Oak tree. These magical seeds grew quickly within her and one full moon, she gave birth to the god Cernunnos. So great was her pain in childbirth, that the moon took pity on her and gave her some silver light to ease her suffering. After the birth, the mare gave what was left to the sea, where it transformed into the giants of the deep who lived in the water under the waves. 


In time, Eiocha returned to the sea to be with her mother, where she transformed into Tethra, goddess of the deep water. Cernunnos was  lonely without his mother, so he coupled with the lady of the forest, the beautiful Silver Birch. From this pairing came the gods, Maponos, Tauranis, Teutates, and the goddess Epona. 


But the gods and goddess had no one to worship them, so they took wood from the lord and lady of the forest and from their bark they fashioned the first man and first woman. 


Cernunnos made animals such as the deer, the hound, the boar, the raven, the hare and the snake. Then he commanded the first trees to grow into vast forests to serve as a home for all his children. Epona the goddess made the horse, mare and stallion, in remembrance of Eiocha, who was no more. Teutates took limbs from the Yew tree and fashioned a bow and arrows, to shoot over land and sea. Tauranis made thunderbolts from fire and wind. He would throw them high into the sky to watch them light up the heavens. Maponos fashioned a harp from the first Ash tree. He spent his days making enchanted music that was carried by the four winds to all the corners of the earth. 


The giants of the deep saw the gods happy on the land and were envious, for they had nothing to command. So, they plotted to take the land from the gods and bring it to their domain under the water. But Tethra of the deep, heard their murmuring and told Cernunnos of their plan.


The gods were prepared the day the giants came against them. Tauranis hurled his fiery thunderbolts and the sea rushed into the great cracks in the earth. Teutates killed many of the giants with his deadly bow and arrows. Maponos played a tune on his harp that drove the giants back into the sea, where the goddess Tethra bound them in her deep waters. 


A few giants escaped to the edge of the world. They called themselves the Fomhoire and vowed that they would once again take the land from the gods but that is a tale for another day. 


New gods Belenus, his sister Danu and the god Lir were born on the land where the fiery pieces of the sky had mingled with the wild waters of the sea. Danu went on to bear many children, such as the Dagda, the fearsome Morrigan and the gentle Brighid. From Lir, would come the mighty Manannan, the beautiful Branwen and the wise Bran. 


The Children of Danu and the Children of Lir are the two mighty races the old songs and stories tell of. The Celtic people were born from their blood, bones and spirit. 


THE PROPHESY OF LUGH 


This short story was inspired by the Irish Book of Invasions, which recounts the many times Ireland was conquered by a foreign enemy. According to this chronicle, Lugh was the grandson of one of the Fomorians, a monstrous race that was the sworn enemy of the Tuatha De Danann.


In the time before time, Lugh’s birth was prophesied by a wise woman of great magical powers, who foretold that he would become a great warrior and skilled craftsman. Who, when fully grown, would kill his grandfather Balor o’ the Evil Eye.


Upon hearing of this prophesy that told of his demise. Balor who was more beast than man. Imprisoned his only daughter in a dark cave, in a secret location to thwart any rescue attempts. Sadly, the name of the daughter is long forgotten but the tales of her great beauty have been recanted down the ages. It is said that her hair was golden like the corn, her eyes blue like the sea, her lips red like blood, her skin white as milk.


These tales reached one of the Tuatha who searched the whole of Ireland for three long years until he finally found her in a secret cave on the west coast, that was only visible when the full moon shone upon it. To spite his Fomorian enemy, he seduced Balor’s only daughter and she gave birth to triplets – two girls and a boy - but the fear of her father was so consuming, she dared not leave the darkness, even though she had fallen in love with the Tuathan and he with her.


When Balor o’ the Evil Eye found out about the births, he was filled with a fury not of this world. He murdered his daughter’s lover with his bare hands and fed his bloody body to his hell hounds. Then threw his beautiful daughter and her babies into the harsh winter sea. The mother and two of the babies drowned, but the boy child that was born out of a spite that turned to love, survived the wrath of his grandfather.


Some say he was protected by the gods, who watched over him. Some say it was even Epona herself that saved the boy. He was found in a bed of seaweed on the windswept shore by a smith fie a nearby village. The smith brought him up as his own kin and taught him how to master fire and iron. As time passed, Lugh grew into a skilled craftsman and great heroic warrior.


On the eve of Lunasdal under a blood red moon he led the Tuatha in battle, against the Fomorians who were led Balor o’ the Evil Eye. The battle was said to be so fierce that it raged for over a hundred years. The bones of the dead piled so high, that they reached the sky itself. The blood of the dead stained the soil red, laying waste to a land that would lie barren for over a thousand years. During this most ferocious of battles, Lugh killed his grandfather Balor and brought an end to the time of invasions.


According to legend. When he eventually died, Lugh arrived at Tara, the hall of the high kings of Ireland with a sword he had forged in the fire. He was told by the gatekeeper that only one person would be admitted with a skill - one blacksmith, one wheelwright, one bard. Lugh tells of all the great things he could do. But each time, he is told that there is already someone there who has that skill. 


Finally, he asks, "Ah, but do you have anyone who can do all of them?" 


It was then that the doors to the great hall opened wide and Lugh was finally allowed to enter Tara.

STORYTELLING FEEDBACK

“Rowan is a natural storyteller. Every word is spoken with such heart that it evokes pure emotion and captivates you from start to finish”. (Michael Burdick)