Faerie Magick at Samhain
Lá agus Oíche
Leanaí ag súgradh
Amuigh sa ghairdín-
Déan deifir abhaile!
Tá an ghrian dula luí.
Sióga ag damhsa
Amuigh sa ghairdín-
Déan deifir abhaile!
Tá an ghrian ag éirí.
(“Oíche Mhaith” , Céim 1 Leabhar B, Duilleoga, An Comhlacht Oideachais Éireann.)
I circle the ancient stones clockwise from the portal to the axial mount, following the path of the sun. There I place my offering of milk and honey and I call to her…..
“An Ceann Sídhe, a Clíonadh naofa,
Banríon álainn na Múin agus na Shídhe, chuir do cluas orm.
Tugaim brontannas báinne agus míls duit mar mhalairt ar bhrontannas dom.
Go raibh maith agat banríon iontach as do bheannacht.”
Another method is to go to the Hawthorn and bring your supplication as the humble tree is also known as the ‘Giving Tree of the Sídhe’. But to continue their blessings, a gift of milk and honey must be left outside the home each night or the pact is broken.
Irish mythology has evolved over time where the old Gods become faerie type creatures and Megalithic and Neolithic sites as well as certain tree species have become their doorways between worlds. The various medieval texts have evolved their tales overtime as well. Samhain, the new year, is just around the corner and even the Fenian Cycle mentions Samhain on more than one occasion. Andrew posted a version of it with Fionn mac Cumhail’s rise to being leader of the Fianna and his famed deposing of an Dagda’s son at Tara during Samhain. Another is during the ‘Flight of the Lovers’, where Diarmuid and Gráinne flee the wrath of an aggrieved Fionn. It is mentioned that ‘the sídhe come from the other world for a friendly game of hurle every Samhain’. This time of year, mythology suggests is the best time for magick to occur (I’m still not sure where dancing around in the freezing moonlight without a stitch of clothing has come from).
There are two perspectives of magick. Psychological and supernatural. Which one it is up for you to decide, no one else. Both sides will agree that magick is the method of using one’s will as a catalyst to create an outcome desirable to the practitioner. Now this is my personal theory and has always been how I perceive and utilise. It’s what works for you in the end which counts.
A few years back, I managed to quit smoking for just under a year. It was hard at the start and I had to hand my wallet over to my partner so I couldn’t give into temptation. It worked after a month and continued, well, until a lot of things happened towards the end of that year and I was back on them again. I spent the last two years trying to give them up ( I was a pack a day person) and even used a service that is available at work (I work for the HSE) in which a nurse rang me everyday for encouragement and progress while sorting out nicotine replacement therapies. That was a waste of time for me as my personality doesn’t take too kindly to constant lectures and broken records. Also still having nicotine in my system doesn’t really make sense to me even if it’s a gradual decreasing of levels process. It has to be cold turkey full stop. Nicotine replacement therapy does work for some but not me.
In Ireland, the concept of the sídhe being faerie type beings only came about roughly about the time of the Ulster Plantations which also brought about the concept of witchcraft. There is a saying that goes back to that era, “To the protestants their witches and the catholics, their faeries”. I will touch on this another time. Sióga is a relatively modern Irish word which has been constructed from a marriage of ‘sídhe’ (too obvious to explain) and ‘óg’ (young). There is a name Séoige derived from it as well which I nickname my small one.
I am lucky that I travel to a sacred site regularly (when weather permits) at Knocknacoille in West Cork and also where I grew up, there are still many Hawthorn trees. One Sunday morning, my séoige was in the back of the car as we were travelling up to Knocknacoille, and she asked why did I smoke, did I have to and it makes me stinky. The usual. When we arrived, I finished off the pack before we walked up to the Stone Circle. Up at the site, I made a ‘pinky-promise’ with the séoige which was the physical reality ( in my minds eye it was the evocation of the Munster Goddess and her various evolved archetypical aspects as I wrote about at the start of the written piece). It was hard for the first few days especially at work in the hospital and I always had my wallet with me. My partner didn’t realise that I had stopped until she noted that I wasn’t smelling constantly of stale Marlboro’s after a week. She had questioned the small one but just got giggles and “Daddy and me have a secret so not telling!”. She was shocked that I had lasted so long without having a meltdown or entrusted her with my finances. It’s tough going. I still get the odd psychological craving (it takes 3 days for the body to clear out the nicotine so physical withdrawals occur then) but just look at the séoige and remember the pact.
I have benefitted greatly. I spend more quality time with the small one and now she’s like Daddy, cycling like a big person without stabilisers. I have attacked a new project where I am starting my leabhar draíocht anew by making it look like a medieval text as much as possible for my own taste (Andrew has seen the beginnings). It’s going to take a lot of time. I also registered for a charity cycle (120km Fort to Fort from Crosshaven to Whitegate and back or Cork harbour). I spent a lot of time training and completed it. It was hard and nearly gave up in Whitegate ( that is a very tough area of steep hills and lunar surfaced back roads and the event was nearly cancelled due to the high winds). But I just thought of that Sunday with the séoige up in Knocknacoille. I have found that my endurance had increased a good bit and I wasn’t stopping every half hour to have a smoke break. I finished the challenge with a good time of 4 and a half hours cycling time.
It’s at this point where I have to add that magick is only as strong as the effort that you put in and it only lasts as long as you keep up the effort. That is why I always think of our little pact when I look at my small one and just to be on the safe side, I leave a small offering of milk laced with a drop of honey outside by the flower bed every night. You just never know.
The last of the harvest is completed and they are beginning to prepare the memorial pyre of Tlaghta. The New Year is approaching and it is the time of the crossing of both worlds. Remember your loved ones and prepare a place by the hearth for them. Remember to have something special for the sídhe in their various guises. Enjoy the celebrations.
Arís eile, go raibh maith agat as do chuid ama ag léamh an phíosa scríofa seo, agus beidh na beannachtaí Samhain oraibh.
Seán Ó Tuama.