Dumhain, Year 778, Kingdom of Galway
In this, my seventeenth year, I will compile the research from my travels. I have no time to spare. This is the first year I will marry at the Yul festival, under the Winter Solstice sky. It has been five moons since my father, Chieftain Aedh, was injured in battle at the outskirts of Limerick. He has made a miraculous recovery. The Gods have spared me from destruction. He was injured saving me. It was a fruitless battle I am embarrassed to have participated in. We lost so many good men in Cahal’s conquest of the Kingdom of Shannon. There are bigger worries afoot, but he insists that we grow Limerick to a wide girth and fill the land with the new MacManus clan, the hybrid Viking-Irish clan. He believes if we become one with them, they will not destroy us, like they did to the Kingdoms of Leinster. It is a trying time I am entering, for my wife will be Cahal’s daughter. I will be a permanent vassal to the MacManus agenda. This is not how my father, Aedh, taught me to live. He said to listen for the Sidhe to come, the faeries, the messengers of the Gods. We are the keepers of their land, and we will rule how they see fit. We cannot stray from this, or we will be destroyed. With this fear I am determined to cling to the old ways before they go away. I see attacks to our culture on every front. Tearlag does not see it this way, but maybe when she can sit in the quiet of Galway, away from the bellowing of her father, Cahal, she will hear the Sidhe herself, and she will know why this matters so much.
Notes from my travels to the Druid shrines, untouched by the monastery missionaries and Viking settlements. Three doorways of the Sidhe were studied —
— Arch of Hawthorn Grove, Kingdom of Galway.
— Lough Gur Stone Circle, Kingdom of Limerick.
— Serpents Den, Kingdom of Innis Aran.
Lunar Calendar used at the sites, based on thirteen full moons. The Roman monks say the year begins after Yul, but they are not listening to the land. They are reading from a timeline in their manuscripts. They are trying to put their calendar on top of ours. Smashing our festivals in the name of theirs. I am afraid we will lose the natural rhythm of our land. The Tuatha de Danaan created this calendar because the land told them how to do it.
Samhain Festival — 24 hours before the new moon, a portal for the dead and the Gods to come stay in our homes. Remain awake for 24 hours, feast and sacrifice to the Gods, to bring a new year and not bring destruction. This is a delicate time. If the Gods are displeased, the world will be swallowed up by the horned monster. Darkness will never end. Bring in sacred fires from the Sidhe portal shrines for protection.
Yul – Winter Solstice, celebrate the coming light.
Imbolc — New moon of Uarain, bring the lambs into pasture. Sacrifice milk to the ground for a good harvest. Sacrifice to the Goddess Brighid for fertility.
Ostera — Spring Solstice, celebrate coming fertility of Spring
Beltaine — New moon Siúfainn, lead livestock past fires for protection to new pastures. Wear crowns of flowers, animal skins and dress in a celebration of nature. Dance around the Beltaine pole to bring good fortune to the harvest. This brings the season of new light and warmth until the end of the year.
Etain — Summer solstice, a sacred fire to honor the light and longest days.
Lughnasadh — honor the God, Lugh, with games and matchmaking. Beginning of the harvest season. Sacrifice first harvests to the Gods. Handle legal disputes before the end of the year. Handfasting trial marriages for the clan.
Waning of the Goddess — Fall equinox, the waning of the Grain God and the Water Goddess. Harvest sacrifices to bring good luck for Samhain and the coming year and dark season.
Samhain Harvest October/November
Dumhainn Darkness November/December
Riúr Frost December/January
Naghaid Home January/February
Uarain Ice February/March
Cuithe Winds March/April
Geamhain Shoots-Show April/May
Siúfainn Brightness May/June
Eacha Horses June/July
Eilmí Many Fences July/August
Aodhrain Arbitration August/September
Cadal Song September/October
The Origins of Ogham, the tree language of our people and the Tuatha de Danaan. Each moon has a sacred tree, each tree has a letter to our language. And most importantly, it is connected, all the three, the skies, the seasons, the trees, and the words we speak. There is no separation. Because of this I drew a wheel to keep this idea in mind for the future generations. The monks have brought a Latin language to us that has opened the door for learning, but threatens to bring our Ogham lines to their death. The Viking Runes, from the settlers, have been scratched upon by our Ogham lines in stone and wood. I will not lose this language in the name of change. If we forget how to speak the language of our trees, we will lose the connection to the Sidhe. The portals to the other world will seize up, the Druids told me. We are in danger of being abandoned by our creators, left in a foreign land on our own soil. Our identity is at stake. Guard this language, fight for it.