With Lúnasa fast approaching for those of us in the northern hemisphere, Gaol Naofa is pleased to announce the release of a number of new videos.
Continuing the festival-themed collection we have on our Youtube channel so far, we’re picking up where we left off at the beginning of the month and have now uploaded new videos for the Gaelic festival of Lúnasa, as well as the primarily Scottish festival of Là Fhèill Mìcheil (The Feast of St Michael, or Michaelmas). As with the other videos, we aim to give a brief introduction to the major themes, lore, and traditions associated with these festivals, giving an idea of how it can be celebrated today.
While it may seem odd to explore saints’ days, in most communities these are now secular events, with cultural celebrations that contain traditional, seasonal customs with clear ties to the older deities and spirits. Often observances that our polytheist ancestors made at the fire festivals now survive in the traditions of the neighboring saints’ day.
Tying in with Lúnasa as well as Samhain, we also have a video on the Prophecy of the Morrígan from Cath Maige Tuired (The Second Battle of Mag Tured). While the story of Cath Maige Tuired is centred around Samhain, many of the major themes the tale deals with are also relevant to Lúnasa, not least the episode where Lugh spares the life of Bres in exchange for knowledge on how best to plough, sow, and harvest the crops. But Lúnasa is also a traditional time for peace, when everyone sets aside their differences to come together to celebrate the day in the company of their people and community, as they gather together to honour the sacrifice of Taillte and take part in the games and festivities that Lugh instituted in memory of her.
The prophecy the Morrígan (or Badb) sings at the end of the tale speaks to this major theme of peace, that we, as Gaelic Polytheists, focus on at this time of year. As we head towards the festival of Lúnasa, we invite you to join us in this prayer for peace…
Sith co nemh,
bid sír nae.
Peace to the sky,
life and land everlasting.
Gaol Naofa would like to extend special thanks to Ali Isaac for giving us permission to use her photo of Taillte’s assembly site, as well as to the members of our Gaol Naofa community who have shared their photos of sacred sites, family and friends.
July 26, 2014
Following on from the launch of Gaol Naofa’s dedicated Youtube channel back in March, we are pleased to announce the addition of five new videos.
These videos continue the focus on festivals that our first two videos on St Patrick’s Day began, and we are ultimately aiming to cover the whole of the festival calendar. In contrast with Gaol Naofa’s more substantial publications, our aim with these videos is to offer a brief introduction to the subjects we’ll be covering, in this case giving an overview of some of the lore and traditions associated with the festivals, and giving an idea of how Gaelic Polytheists might celebrate. On this occasion we have:
- Lá Fhéile Bríde – Detailing the lore and traditions associated with the festival that marks the first flourish of Spring
- Là na Caillich – The Day of the Cailleach in Scotland, which falls on March 25th and marks the beginning of the Cailleach’s rest period, until she reawakens in winter
- Bealtaine – Focusing on the traditions and customs of the festival of Summer
- Midsummer: Áine and Grian – Introducing the Midsummer traditions in Ireland, and the issue of solar deities in Gaelic tradition
- Midsummer: Manannán mac Lir – Taking a look at the Midsummer tradition of “paying the rent to Manannán mac Lir, which originates on the Isle of Man
The release of these videos coincides with the Isle of Man’s national holiday, Tynwald Day, which was once a part of the island’s Midsummer celebrations. On this day, we wish you all the blessings of Manannán Beg mac y Leir.
July 7, 2014
With summer comes cultural, spiritual and social gatherings. Along with a chance to celebrate and hold reunions with distant family and friends comes the opportunity to meet new people. Whichever kind of gatherings you attend, you may find yourself wishing you knew what to say in response to some of the questions that may arise about Gaelic Polytheism. Or, less fun, you may encounter some people who have misconceptions about Gaelic and Celtic traditions. Worse, you may cross paths with some exploiters. While we don’t like to dwell on the latter sort, unfortunately, dispelling misinformation is a necessary part of cultural preservation. Our cultures – languages, music, spiritual beliefs and ceremonies – cannot be preserved if misinformation is allowed to take the place of authentic ways.
So, to this end, we have prepared a small collection of materials, which can be utilized in person as well as on social media. We have a leaflet on Gaelic Polytheism and Gaol Naofa in particular (since we are only speaking for our particular tradition of Gaelic Polytheism), as well as some flyers about how to spot offensive vs. authentic practices. These are situated in a new Resources section within the site Library.
We hope your summer is going well, and that you receive the blessings of Áine, Manannán, the ancestors and spirits of nature this season. Slàinte Mhath!
June 13, 2014