Monday, December 30, 2019

Ella Young in the Brugh of Angus ~ commonly known as Newgrange

Irish poet, mystic and folklorist, Ella Young (1867 – 1956) wrote in her memoirs Flowering Dusk... (1945) about an experience she had, on her own, inside what she names as "the Brugh of Angus" and what is commonly called Newgrange in County Meath.  The date of this visit is not given but Ella left Ireland, never to return, in 1925.
Image by Denise Sallee, ©2009

In her chapter entitled "Cave of the Red Steeds" she recounts her lengthy stay in a farmhouse near Cong, County Mayo, and entering a natural cave with many chambers where she remained for some time. 

"My thoughts went back to another silence—silence and darkness in the Brugh of Angus, the artificial chambered mound at Newgrange by the Boyne. I sat alone in the Central Chamber of the Brugh (having bribed the custodian to absent herself and her candles). The roof arched above me in blackness and there was great silence about me, penetrated by the chill joyousness of the Brugh. Suddenly, I became aware that the Chamber was filling with pale light that surged like water through the narrow tortuous entrance passage. Like water, it seemed to have weight and substance. Washed by this pale liquid slow-moving light the pillar-stone of the Brugh suddenly flamed silver, shot up like a column of moon-fire. The Sun, journeying westward, had touched it with an out-stretched finger.

Ella Young goes on to compare the cave in Cong and the Brugh in Meath—noting that "the Brugh of Angus had been carefully fashioned. The Ultonian* kings paid honour to it, and at the Samhain Festival processions wound among the standing stones that still, in broken formation, circle the mound. Fire leaped on the summit. Five great roads converged on it."
* A native or inhabitant of Ulster

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

My Lady of Dreams

A moment's pause in an ever darkening world...

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Lughnassa ~ The Marriage Feast of Lugh

Detail Setanta Wall (Dublin, 1974) by Desmond Kinney: Photo by  Bob Phillips
The Marriage Feast of Lugh celebrated each August in Ireland is mentioned several times by Ella Young in her memoir Flowering Dusk: Things Remembered Accurately and Inaccurately (1945).

She begins by recalling events involving the nationalist political group in which she was active -  The Daughters of Ireland (Inghinidhe na h√Čireann) 

"That night the little room in a back street of Dublin city - where the Daughters of Ireland were celebrating the Lughnassa, the Marriage Feast of Lugh the Sun God to the Royal Sovereignty of Ireland..."  Earlier that day, Ella was climbing Slieve Gullion with her friend Phyllis MacMurdo who Ella greatly admired. They discussed the old tales and the old gods and Phyllis declared "Let us gather heather, white and red, and go tonight to the play that the Daughters of Ireland are putting on  (Red Hugh's Captivity by Alice Mulligan...)."

Another reference to the Marriage Feast of Lugh in Ella Young's memoir is also when she writes about the activities of the Daughters of Ireland:  "Since we are reviving everything at once, we pay attention to the ancient Festivals. There are four which divide the year into periods of three months: the Festival of Brigit, the Pure Perpetual Ashless Flalme, in February; the Festival of Beltane, the coming of the young Gods who succor the Earth, in May; the Marriage-Feastival of Lugh, the Sun, who weds the Sovereignty of Erin in August; the Festival of Samhain, that opens the Inner World, in November."

In a section Ella titles "The Royal Sovereignty of Ireland, 1922"
From: Irish Civil War – essential facts
she writes about the beginning of the civil war. It is June 28 and she is in Dublin where the "guns boomed day and night" and she looked toward the Four Courts and spoke about the men there as the smoke rose and the "ground muttered and shook... a hundred good fighting men...were prisoners in Mountjoy [prison]...They held out for five days, and surrendered only when the walls fell in and flame licked about their feet...Like fire the civil war spurts and rages from town to town, from countryside to countryside. The Feast of the Lughnassa draws on. Fires were lit on the sacred hills of Ireland at this Festival in token that Lugh the Sun-God was wedded to the Royal Sovereignty of Ireland. Those were joy-fires: our fires hiss and flicker with blood."

Lugh was associated with sovereignty because he represented sacred kingship. The marriage feast  - or Great Rite - is the act of the named king asking of the land he is to reign, permission to rule. The land is represented by the goddess, who through sexual union with the king, gifts him with this sovereignty. This is such a powerful act and such a powerful image. Ella Young and her many comrades fought for this sovereignty - for the land, for ancient and sacred Ireland to regain what had been lost. There is no doubt that the English crown was never given sovereignty by the land - by the goddess who embodies all of Ireland and her people.