Feathers itch when they grow, and every second Samhain means the time has come again when Caer Ibormeith must turn from girl to swan. She is quiet when it happens, as though all sound as be stolen, just like her body is stolen. For a year she must be nothing but swan. She must fly and eat grubs and pick lice free from her feathers and avoid the jaws of hungry foxes.
It is exhausting to be something you are not, and even more exhausting to have to be two separate things you aren’t quite. A swan cannot be a woman, and a woman cannot be a swan, and Caer Ibormeith is trapped between two worlds.
So, for you more experienced Pagans, how long were you practicing before you started seeing, I guess, results? I’ve considered myself a Pagan for about 6 weeks now, and I guess nothing has really happened yet? Deities haven’t been talking to me or anything… the most I’ll get is vague feelings that could just be wishful thinking. From what I see on tumblr for most or at least a lot of people it’s in-your-face obvious. But I’m not sure if this is something that comes after a lot of practice or that some people have the ability and others don’t.
Continued under the cut because it is quite long and rambly, but I would really appreciate advice and feedback on this!
Óengus is a God of Love, Youth and Poetic Inspiration. He is the son of TheDagda and Boann, and was said to live at Brú na Bóinne.
Óengus’ father, TheDagda, had an affair with Boann, the river Goddess who was the wife of Nechtan. To disguise Boann’s pregnancy, TheDagda stilled the Sun for 9 months so that Óengus was conceived, gestated and born in one day.
Midir became Óengus’ foster father.
Parents: The Dagda & Boann (Midir acted as a foster father).
Siblings: Oghma an Cermait.
Children: Diarmuid Ua Duibhne (foster son).
When he came of age, Óengus dispossessed TheDagda of his home, Brú na Bóinne (an area of the Boyne River Valley that contains the passage tombs Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth). He arrived at his father’s home after TheDagda had shared out his land amongst his children, and none was left for Óengus so he asked whether he could instead dwell in Brú na Bóinne for “a day and a night”, - to this, TheDagda agreed.
Now, bear in mind that the Irish language has no indefinite article, so “a day and a night” is equal to “day and night”, which covers all time, therefore enabling Óengus to take permanent possession of Brú na Bóinne.
Tales of Óengus:
Óengus also killed LughLámhfada’s (yes, Lugh as in Lughnasadh) poet for lying about his brother, Oghma an Cermait. The poet claimed that Oghma was embroiled in an affair with one of Lugh’s wives.
In the “Tale of Two Pails”, a sidhe woman, foster daughter of Óengus, became lost and wound up in the company of St. Patrick where she was then converted to Christianity. Unable to win her back, Óengus left and eventually, consumed by grief, she died.
Óengus fell in love with a girl who appeared in his dreams. His mother, Boann, Goddess of the river Boyne and a cow Goddess who’s milk formed the Milky Way (known as Bealach na Bó Finne, - the White Cow’s Way - in Irish), searched the whole of Ireland for a year. TheDadga did the same. It was the King, Bodb Dearg who finally found the girl after a further year of searching.
Óengus travelled to the lake of the Dragon’s Mouth and there he found 150 girls chained in pairs. Among them was his girl, Caer Ibormeith.
Caer and the others would take on the form of swans for 1 whole year, every second Samhain. Óengus was told that if he could identify Caer in swan form, he could have her hand in marriage. Instead, he turned himself into a swan and the pair flew away, singing a beautiful song that would put all who listened to sleep for 3 days and 3 nights.
He owned a sword named Moralltach, the GreatFury, given to him by Manannan mac Lir. This, he gave to his foster son, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, along with another sword named Beagalltach, the LittleFury. He also gave him two spears of great power: Gáe Buide and GáeDerg.
When the young man died, Óengus took his body back to Brú na Bóinne where he breathed life into it whenever he wished to speak to Diarmuid.
In other legends, Óengus was able to repair broken bodies and return life to them.
Hey Badger, can you do some digging for me? I want to know if yew has any particular significance in Norse lore, but when I try looking up tree lore, I either get stuff about Yggdrasil or I get Celtic tree symbolism. Thanks!
So it’s not shocking that you’d get information on those. A lot of what we know about Norse tree lore comes from extrapolating from Celtic and Anglo-Saxon lore. As for Yggdrasil, some dispute the species identity and believe it to be a yew rather than an ash. So in addition to being the most central (hah) tree in the lore you’ve got that to contend with as well. So with that said, here’s what I can find on the yew.
As I said, some dispute that Yggdrasil is really an ash tree. In Voluspa it seems quite clearly to be stated to be an ash tree:
Ask veit ek standa, heitir Yggdrasill
An ash tree I know, called Yggdrasill
However F. R. Schroder argues that the etymology of the word Yggdrasil links it to the yew instead. He derives yggja from *igwja (yew) and drasill from *dher which means pillar or support rendering the name to mean “yew pillar”.
There’s some other potential links to the yew and to Yggdrasil. Yew is an evergreen tree like Yggdrasil. Yew is poisonous and therefore linked to death but also to reincarnation thanks to its evergreen nature.This harkens to Odin’s hanging on the branches of Yggdrasil, dying, and coming back. Further links can be found in the carved yew figures that were sexually ambiguous with damaged left sides of their face. These were often found in bogs, probably thrown in as a sacrifice to Odin - himself to himself.
There was also a temple in Uppsala, Sweden. Adam of Bremen wrote about it: Near this temple stands a very large tree with wide-spreading branches, always green winter and summer. What kind it is nobody knows. There is also a spring at which the pagans are accustomed to make their sacrifices, and into it to plunge a live man. And if he is not found, the people’s wish will be granted.
The tree-spring combination strongly parallels that of Yggdrasil and the Well of Urd. There is no way to tell but Laffler has proposed that this tree was a yew. This would indicate that perhaps at least for the Swedes, Yggdrasil was a yew tree in their cosmology. This could also link it to the god Freyr as the temple at Uppsala was dedicated to him.
Further links to Freyr might be found in the parallels between Skírnismál and the Celtic tale Aislinge Oenguso (The Dreams of Oengus). Both concern love-struck fertility gods who withdraw from the world due to their pining. Mortal assistants are sent to woo the object of affection and win her over despite disapproving family. Oengus falls in love with Caer Ibormeith whose last name means ‘Yewberry’. This would give her a connection to death and magic. Freyr’s love Gerdr, being a jotun, also has a link to the realm of death and magic. Furthermore, Schroder, the one responsible for the Yggdrasil meaning ‘yew pillar’ theory, also believes that Freyr’s name Ingunar-Freyr links him to the yew by actually meaning “Lord of the Yew goddes Ingun” (How likely this is to be true I can’t say but it might have some small basis in fact if indeed the tree at the temple was a yew.)
Yew also had clear magical connotations. In Anglo-Saxon heathenry, the yew was likely represented by the rune YR (though like everything in heathenry this is also debated.) Many wands and amulets composed of yew wood have also been found with runes carved into them. Frequently these were for healing or protective purposes. For instance, the German Tollhoz was made of yew wood and used to cure dogs of rabies. Elliott believes that many of the yew’s magical uses with runes were adopted from the Celts; an example of Celtic influence in his opinion is the casting of runes cut into yew being drawn from ogham and spreading from there.
So basically it had strong magical powers but we just don’t know a lot and everything we do know is pretty speculative at best and wild-ass guessing hoping to make sense of things at worst. But if there’s any clear connections to gods it’s likely to Odin and possibly to Freyr as well. I’m sorry; I hope this helps :x
Runic Amulets and Magic Objects by Mindy Macleod and Bernard Mees
The Withdrawal of the Fertility God by Annelise Talbot
Runes, Yews, and Magic by Ralph W. V. Elliott
Trees in Anglo-Saxon England: Literature, Lore and Landscape by Della Hooke