F is for Flidais
Flidais (pronounced appx. FLEE-duhsh) is an Irish goddess. She is also known by the epithet Foltchaín, meaning “beautiful hair.” The modern Gaeilge spelling is “Fliodhais,” which changes the pronunciation, so I prefer the Gaeilge. Little is know about Flidais as She is only mentioned a few times in lore, but this has not stopped Her being a powerful force in the lives of modern people.
Despite the limited information available in the lore, Flidais is associated with both cattle and deer. In Táin Bó Flidais and in Táin Bó Cúailnge, we see tales of Her providing incredible amounts of milk for various armies from her herd and in Lebor Gabála Érenn, we see Her son being granted the power to milk a herd of deer as if they were cattle, thus providing these associations.
As for Her association with the woodlands, the general consensus is that it’s SPG (Shared Personal Gnosis). It’s something I haven’t questioned in a very long time until I sat down to write this and, after scouring through source and other materials and talking with other GPs, I realized it’s pretty well this way for everyone. It just is. Her association with deer and with not being tied down to any one place probably play into this, but I think it also comes from how She presents Herself. I find it funny that She is so often called a “goddess of the woodlands” in descriptions that don’t even list other things about Her when that’s actually not based in the lore. Just goes to show how UPG becomes SPG and can become so intertwined that it isn’t even questioned.
Time for a little more UPG…
So, I first encountered Flidais years ago and totally on accident. I started having these dreams of a woman in the woods, dressed in green, and with fiery red hair. It almost seemed to glow or shimmer. And She was surrounded by deer. Now, I’m from the South and we’re known to have deer even in the middle of a lot of our cities sometimes, but I’d been seeing them EVERYWHERE.
I looked for a very long time, trying to figure out who She was. There were songs that made me think of Her, but I still didn’t know who She was. I was at a kind of post-Wiccan, pre-anything else specific point in my religious journey, so I wasn’t even sure where to look and eventually I kinda gave up. Then I was browsing the internet one day, just reading about various “Celtic” deities when I found a single sentence entry: “Flidais is an Irish goddess associated with the woodlands and deer.” And I knew. I knew instantly that this was who I’d been looking for and who I’d seen in my dreams.
Since then, I’ve done more reading, though not as much as I’d like, and it’s been kind of a trial and error situation, but it feels right. I especially feel Her presence from the budding of the trees through late fall/early winter, though I rarely dream of Her anymore. I think She just wanted my attention and once that was gained, I had Her image burned into my brain.
I also have some UPG about Her association with pet animals. Though Her associations with domestic cattle are well known, I’ve also long felt Her presence in matters of domestic animals like cats, dogs, pet rabbits, etc. I’ve been trying to work out a prayer to Her and Manannán for quite some time, to no avail, because of my profession.
Admittedly, my relationships with the Dé have slacked recently, but after having started morning and evening ritual prayers, it has truly re-energized my spirituality.