The Threefold Path

Up in the hills of Muskerry in West Cork, there are 3 sites. One is a Wedge Tomb, Knocknakilla Stone Circle complex and the Tobar Eoighan Naofa (Well of St. John), all within a 5 mile radius of each other. According to Google Maps, it takes an hour to travel by car but it’s obvious they never physically mapped it as it takes longer due to the nature of Irish backroads and you can’t travel safely the at 80 km per hour (the Irish way of saying slow down is post a high speed limit on a dodgy looking road. Unless you have a deathwish, you will adhere to caution and take your time unless you want to travel to the other side of the planet via giant potholes or blowing your horn at cattle in the middle of a field that you wound up by missing that sharp bend).

Knocknakilla (Stone of the Church), Musherabeg Mountain, County Cork, Ireland

Knocknakilla is an interesting stone circle. It comprises of two large portal stones that are outside a much smaller 5 stone ring and there is a minature stone circle to the SouthEast. It is listed as a heritage site but has never been repaired. The area is resting on a bog (on the side of a mountain??) andd one of the portal stones has fallen as wel as the smallest stone in the ring (the altar stone). Nevertheless it is visited at times of ritual decompression as when the first time I was there, there was evidence of Wicca with coloured candles and dreamcatchers left there and I met 3 of them at dawn one morning earlier this year. Knocknakilla is the anglicised name for Cnoc na Coille which translates to the Hill/Mound of the Church in old Irish. I have travelled here on a number of occassions for ritual decompressions when weather permits. It’s highly dangerous up there when raining or after rain. I have also planted a stave dedicated to Brighid of the Forge in the centre of the main stone circle (which was removed by persons unknown). Brighid of the Forge is the main archetype whom I internalise/invoke and there is a reason why I call upon her presence there (apart from the area being covered in Rushes).

St. John’s Well, Mushera, County Cork

Further up the road, an Tobar Eoighan Naofa looks out north. It is a Scared Well dedicated to St. John and the Stations of the Cross are held there but it has a history that goes beyond Christianity. St. John had 3 sisters who were nuns, St. Lasair, St. Inion and St. Latiaran (all nuns of Cullen) it was dedicated to Latiaran celebrating lasair (flame) at Imbolg , Inghné Bhuídhe (yellow hair in old Irish, modern Irish is gruaige buí) at Bealtine and Latiaran at Lugnasadh. The aspects seem to follow the growth of cereal crops and with the it’s also possible that she is the Goddess Brighid. The reasoning for this could also be that she falls into the terra forming category as she is also given the title, the Musker Cailleach and the relation to Lasair which translates to eternal flame. The more recent story variation is that she was a wise giantess who carried boulders on her apron and accidently dropped some on her journeys which formed the Muskerry hills (if you have ever driven up here, they are small mountains not hills). There is an Irish Historic Footnote at the site explaining this (I’m surprised that the Church authorities allowed its erection) but it does not go into detail so I had to research further into the 3 names. I looked into the local folklore tales of the townplace of Cullen.

The Wedge Tomb is in a field further down the mountain but there are no records about it as the same with many others of its kind so no one knows who was buried there. It would not be wrong to presume that it is the marked grave of a high ranking individual as there are many graves found in other complexes with adornments found on archaeological digs belonging to that class.

Okay, enough with the local Irish cultural and history lesson. The 3 aspects of the Goddess Brighid convey a lot of meaning to me personally. To some, the perception of the 3 relate to maiden, mother and Cailleach but it is also important that Brighid is not only one of many Irish harvest Goddesses but also of the Forge. In Irish society from when, I am not sure but up to the late 1950’s at least, rural farmers were also the local blacksmith. From this, it is not difficult to see how both farming and smithing can combine. On the farming side, birth, maturation and reaping. From the forge, furnace, tools and strength of tempering. There is another aspect and that is of the warrior as she fought on the battlefield with the Tuatha Dé against the Fomórians in the second battle of Moytura and the cry of her mourning for her slain son ( Ruadan the smithing seed of both Fomórian and Tuatha Dé) became the signal for battle. Thusly, farming, smithing and battle are the 3 aspects of Brighid that interweave to become inspiration, learning and the abiltiy to use the lessons learned in my everyday life or the path I walk. Maybe you see this or maybe you see other aspects. The Triskelle or Triquetra revolves on many points of it’s circumference.

Go raibh maith agat as do chuid ama agus go mbeannaí an bandia duit go léir.
Seán Ó Tuama.


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