Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mythology of Ancient Ireland — The Five Waves of Invasion

Most of the myths and legends of the ancient Faery Faith of Ireland come from the Mythological Cycle. From this cycle arise the Tuatha De Danann, who gave birth to the Irish Pantheon of gods and goddesses. More importantly, the Mythology Cycle contains the five waves of Irish invasion.

There are many conflicting stories regarding the waves of invasion. Since the Mythological Cycle was passed on orally, and never written down by the Irish themselves, it is difficult to ascertain the truth regarding this time. The tales of the five waves were eventually written down, in approximately 1100 C.E., but this was more than one thousand years after the events had occurred.

In addition, the tales were recorded by monks. By the time any attempt was made to reconstruct what had really happened, and what was really believed by the ancient people of Ireland, too much time had passed, and too many facts had been altered.

The five waves are full of tales of wizardry and magic. Modern mythology barely hints at most of the stories that are to be had from this time, and each wave is a curious mix of historical fact and speculation.

The Partholan Wave of Invasion

The Partholan Wave was named after the leader of this group of invaders. This man, Partholan, was said to have bled his homeland after having killed both his mother and his father. He settled his people in the area surrounding Dublin. However, they remained in Ireland for only thirty or forty years before they were all eventually killed by the plague.

The Neimheahd Wave of Invasion

Also named after the leader of this group, the Neimheahd Wave apparently came from Scythia. They were harassed by pirates out of Africa, who descended upon the Neimheahd people and attempted to subdue them. Eventually, after their leader, Neimheahd, was killed, the people abandoned Ireland. They scattered into three groups, two of which would become the ancestors of the next wave of invaders.

The Fir Bolg Wave of Invasion

The Fir Bolg Wave arrived 217 years after the Neimheahdians left. They were said to be escaped slaves from Greece, and they introduced agriculture to Ireland. They also brought with them the rule of law and social institutions, and established the first real monarchical government in Ireland.

The Fir Bolg were defeated by the Tuatha De Danann at the First Battle of Mag Tuired. They did eventually return to Ireland as a subordinate people at the beginning of the Common Era.

The Tuatha De Danann Wave of Invasion

All the other waves of invasion arrived in Ireland by ship, but the Tuatha De Danann Wave were said to have arrived on dark clouds thought the air. They were thought to have alighted on a mountaintop. They were said to be people of magick, a race who were proficient in every art.

These mystical people ruled Ireland for many years. Though they were challenged by their enemies, the Fomorians, the interlopers were never allowed to settle in Ireland. The Tuatha De Danann reigned in Ireland until the coming of the Milesians.

The Milesian Wave of Invasion

The Milesians were Celtic people, and the Celts had long established themselves in Central Europe. The Milesian Wave put an end to the supreme reign of the Tuatha De Danann. When the Milesians first attempted to land in Ireland, the Tuatha De Danann conjured up a storm against them. It seemed as if they would never land safely in Ireland.

Eventually, and in scattered groups, they made their way to land. When they did, the battles between the Milesians and the Tuatha De Danann were fierce. Many were lost on both sides. In the end, the two groups decided that the Tuatha De Danann would rule the spirit land, while the Milesian would reign over the physical realm. Peaceful coexistence was the final result.

The five waves of invasion are full of powerful myths and inspiring symbolism. They give a glimpse into the ancient Irish ethics of war, and are the basis for the Irish Faery Faith that would later arise.

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