The Old Corpse Road Folklore Collective
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Ancient Irish history and legends have come down to us through history thanks to the diligent chronicling of the early Christian monks. The best record of the rich Celtic mythological tradition is contained in the four cycles drawn up by twelfth century Christian scribes:
On a certain day when Finn mac Cumaill rose at early morn in Almu, in Leinster, and sat upon the grass-green plain, having neither servant nor attendant with him, there followed him two of his people; that is, Oisin the son of Minn, and Diorruing the son of Dobar O' Baoiscne. Oisin Spoke, and what he said was:
"What is the cause of this early rising of thine, O Finn?" said he.
Most nature fairies are the descendents of pre-Christian Gods and Goddesses, or of the spirits of streams, lakes and trees. Black Annis, a blue faced said to haunt the Dane Hills of Leicestershire, and Gentle Annie, who governs storms in the Scottish Lowlands may be descended from the Irish Goddess Danu (Anu), mother of Irelands Cave Fairies. Their Highland sister Cailleach Bheur or Blue Hag, seems to be the spirit of Winter. She freezes the ground by stricking it with her staff, and loses her power when spring comes.
Ó hÓgáin gives an account of the Mythological Cycle, a collective term applied to the stories in Irish literature which describe the doings of otherworld characters. The central theme was concerned with the successive invasions of Ireland by supernatural clans. These series of invasions are described in the Lebor Gabála or Book of Invasions.These stories do not form as strong or cohesive a narrative tradition as do the Ulster and Fenian Cycles, but they all center on the Túatha Dé Danan
In the middle ages fairy aristocrats were thought to be the most beautiful of fairylands people and their heroic exploits were described in legends about King Authur, in the Border ballads and in medieval romance. In many stories they were led by a King and a Queen and were at least the size of humans, but they could also be tiny. Like human aristocrats they spent their time hunting, hawking and feasting. Many tales were told of the fairy Rade, when they rode in procession behind there king and queen, on white horses hung with silver bells.
This is considered by some to be older than the tales of the Ultonian (Ulster / Red Branch) cycle, as the main occupation is that of hunting. The Fenian Cycle, or Ossianic cycle, recounts the exploits of Finn Mac Cumhail , whose name means 'the Fair One', and his companions and deals with the cult and institution of warriors, The Fenians, or Fianna.
Among the many beliefs held about the fairies, there is one strand which describes them as beautiful in appearance, but with a deformity which they cannot always hide. The Scandinavian ellewomen, for instance, have beautiful faces, but if looked at from behind are seen to be hollow. The evil but beautiful Glaistigs of the Highlands wear trailing green dresses to conceal their goat's hoofs.
Book of Invasions
The Irish book of Invasions was compiled in the 12th century and alludes to several successful waves of mythical invasions of Ireland The narrative assembled under the title "Lebor Gabala Erenn" meaning The Book of the Taking of Ireland or the Book of Invasions are the literary embodiment of Ireland's own impressions regarding the history of her population. For the early Irish they served somewhat the same functions as the accounts of the wandering of Aeneas did for the Romans.
The fairies of the Medieval Romances grew out of the Celtic tradition of the Heroic Fairies, the knights and ladies of the MABINOGION, the Daoine Sidh who encountered the Milesians in love or battle; but the poets and dramatists of the Elizabethan age brought a different strand of fairy tradition into prominence. This was partly because the rise of the yeoman class, as the 16th century went on, had brought a spread of literacy and produced a new class of writers, drawn from the country up to town as Shakespeare was drawn, and bringing with them their own country traditions,
It has been recently hypothesised that many of the alien and UFO sighings that are being constantly reported, are actually sightings of faeries. Cultural tracking, first brought to our notice by Jacques Vallée in his 1970 classic Passport to Magonia , demonstraits the similarities between abduction by fairies, who were taken to ‘fairyland’, and modern kidnapping by extraterrestrials. Is it a coincidence that toadstools, supposedly domain of the fairies, resemble modern saucer shape craft? One answer is that witnesses in previous times described extraterrestrials and their flying machines in terms of fairies and toadstools.
People have throughout the ages held a fascination for caves. A wide variety of traditions associated with caves occurs in Welsh folklore and the stories may concern smuggling, secret places where heroes are sleeping or fugitives have hidden, treasure has been concealed or mythical beasts have had their lairs. There are many caves in Wales where King Arthur and his knights are said to be sleeping, waiting to be called on when their country has need of their services. Such caves are supposed to exist on Lliwedd near Snowdon or at Craig y Dinas in the Neath Valley. We are also informed that King Arthur's treasure is buried in a cave at Llangwyfan on Anglesey and his magical adviser is imprisoned in a cave yet to be discovered on Myrddin's Hill near Carmarthen.