The Scribe in Me.

The Scribe in Me.

Interesting Stuff

Trivia can be fascinating and sometimes we can glean interest there. Sometimes, the interesting stuff, as information, when employed properly, can be powerful. Then again, nothing is interesting, if you are not interested.

This is where I balance the deep and the meaningful with the inane and the mundane. If there’s no benefit to knowing the important stuff, I might as well give over some space for the useless...

The Cauldron of Destiny - Coire Ansic

According to myth Ireland was overeun by a successtion of invading tribes, they include the Fomorians, the Fir Bolg, The Tuatha Dé Dannan the last of whom were the Milesians or the Sons of Mil, the ancestors of the current Irish. They were entrusted with four gifts by their predecessors the Tuatha Dé; namely the Sword of Destiny, the Spear of Destiny, the Cauldron of Destiny - the Coire Ansic and the Stone of Destiny. The Tuatha Dé Danann are supposed to have brought them from the four island cities from the northern world, Murias, Falias, Gorias and Findias, when they arrived in Ireland. Each object was inbued with potent magic and there is a history attached to each item, some of which survive to the present day.

Known as the (the un-dry cauldron) this cauldron came from the city of Murias in "the northern islands of the world," possibly located in Lochlann (Norway).  No company ever went away from it unsatisfied it was the cauldron of pleanty. It was said to have a ladle so big that two people could fit in it. This cauldron had the power to bring the dead back to life. The most famous owner of this cauldron was the Dagda. He is said to be husband of the Morrígan, and his children include Aengus, Cermait, and Aed (often called the three sons of the Dagda), Brigit and Bodb Derg.He is said to have two brothers, Nuada and Ogma who is the creator of Ogham writing.

Once a fire is lit beneath the cauldron, it will never go empty, and those that eat from it are always satisfied. It could cure all ailments and bring the dead back to life. When it was not in use it housed the invincible Spear of Destiny owned by Lugh. 

There are some suggestions that the giant stone basin found at Knowth, could be the Dagda’s Cauldron, and that the concentric circular design depicted on it could be a map of Atlantis, as described by Plato.

 

The Sword of Destiny - the Fragarach or Claíomh Solais

According to myth Ireland was overeun by a successtion of invading tribes, they include the Fomorians, the Fir Bolg, The Tuatha Dé Dannan the last of whom were the Milesians or the Sons of Mil. These people are the ancestors of all the current Irish. They were entrusted with four gifts by their predecessors the Tuatha Dé; namely the Sword of Destiny - the Fragarach or Claíomh Solais , Spear of Destiny, the  the Cauldron of Destiny and the Stone of Destiny.  The Tuatha Dé Danann are supposed to have brought them from the four island cities from the northern world, Murias, Falias, Gorias and Findias, when they arrived in Ireland. Each object was inbued with potent magic and there is a history attached to each item, some of which survive to the present day. 

Here I will discuss the Sword of Destiny. It was called the Fragarach, translated from the gaelic as "The Whisperer", "The Answerer", or "The Retaliator." It was also called "Claíomh Solais" - the sword of light. The sword was fashioned for Nuada, the first high king and was forged by the gods. It was meant to be wielded only by those who stood above the Stone of Destiny (the Lia Fail) which roared and the sword whispered in response. This came from the city of Falias. No one ever escaped from it once it was drawn from its sheath, and no one could resist it. The sword is also described in the Tain legend as "Nuadu's Cainnel" — a glowing bright torch and it could cause lightening to strike.

With Fragarach at their throat, no one could move or tell a lie, thus the name "Answerer". The sword was also said to place the wind at the user's command and could cut through any shield or wall, and that it inflicted piercing wounds from which no man could recover. So what became of this mighty sword?

It became the Sword of Excalibur of course, the sword with which Arthur slew four hundred and seventy men in single combat. An older spelling of Excalibur is ex Caliburno derived from Calabolg which was a legendary Irish weapon. Caladbolg was the lightning sword of Fergus mac Roich. Caladbolg was also known for its incredible power, and was carried by some of Ireland's greatest heroes. The word calad means hard and the word blog means lightning. The lightning sword is close to the description of the Sword of Light of Nuada known as Claíomh Solais. 

 

Easter Sunday.

On the face of it Easter Sunday seems unpredictable. It never seems to fall on the same date two years in row. Why is that? It is not a prima facie case, there is a logic to when the date falls and why it is different every year.

The Equinox is the midpoint in the calendar year between Midwinter (December 21st), which has the shortest hours of daylight of the year and Midsummer (june 21st), which has the longest hours of daylight of the year. There are two equinoxes every year, one in spring (20 March) and the other in autumn (23 September). This is when the the centre of the visible Sun is directly above the equator as the Earth orbits the Sun. Most of us follow the Gregorian calender (a solar calendar adopted by Julius Caesar in 45 BC) Leap years throw this out a bit, but it is easily followed.

The first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox is known as the Paschal full moon. You will remember this year 2020 as the Super Pink Moon. Easter is always the first Sunday after this full moon. This was decided in 325 CE, by the Council of Nicaea, (a gathering of Christian bishops) and the deigned also that it should always fall on a Sunday. Consequently Easter Sunday will always happen between March 22 and April 25. This explains why all holidays leading up to that day, such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Good Friday, are known as “moveable feasts.”

Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar, and there is a discrepancy of 13 days between calendars, and thus their Easter falls earlier.

Easter Sunday 2021 falls on the 4th of April.

 

April Fool's Day

April Fool's day is celebrated on the first day of that month every year. It's history harks back to the Romans who had a feast around the vernal equinox known as Hilaria, which in Latin denotes 'joyful' and from where we get the word 'hilarious'. The day of its celebration was the first day of the year which was longer than the night. The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings. It marked the day Mother Nature fooled people that the weather was changing.

'Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two' is how Geoffrey Chaucer refers to it in the Canterbury Tales refering  to the time when a vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox in the Nun's Priest's Tale. One story goes that April Fools’ Day began with France’s 1564 Edict of Roussillon, which decreed that New Year’s Day, historically observed on Easter by Christians, was moved to January 1 and those that continued to celebrate the new year on the wrong date were 'April Fools.'

The word 'Gawk' stems from the gaelic word for Cuckoo, a bird long since associated with being able to fool people and is a term commonly applied to a gullible or naive person. In Ireland a popular tradition is to have someone deliver a letter which read 'Send the Gawk further.' The virtues of satire eh?

Mothering Sunday

My very cynical response to my daughters enquiry as to the history or herstory of Mothering Sunday was; 'Halmark probably.' Of course I was wrong, it dates back to the Greeks and the Romans, who knew? The Greeks celebrated Rhea, the Mother of the Gods and Goddesses, while the Romans celebrated the Goddess, Cybele, every March as far back as 250BC.

Mothering Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent and that tradition goes back to medieval times. This is exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday and it also served to remind the faithful of their 'Mother' church as well. On this day you were expected to revisit the church in which you were christened and anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone "a-mothering". Because of the religious observation those in service and apprenticeships had the day off and went home to their mothers with gifts such as hand-picked flowers.

Eventually this tradition evolved into the spoil our mother's day that we celebrate nowadays.

'Beware of the Ides of March.'

When you read history (which I do a lot) and in particular Church history (wherein lie many gems) you come upon terms that relate to the Roman Calendar; namely the kalends, nones and ides. They are Latin terms that refer to the ancient markers used to reference dates in relation to lunar phases. We are all familiar with the quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar ‘Beware of the Ides of March.’

Kalends = New Moon (no moon to be seen). Nones = 1st quarter moon. Ides = Full Moon (whole moon visible in the night sky). The Kalends fell on the first day of the month. Nones was the 7th of 31 day months March, May, July, and October, and the 5th of other months. Ides fell on the 15th of 31 day months March, May, July, and October, and on the 13th of other months.

The Ides of March fell on the 15th of March. In fact, it once signified the New Year, a key date in the Roman Calendar and was marked with celebrations and rejoicing. In the Roman world, the Ides of each month were sacred to the God Jupiter. On this day the high priest would lead the Ides sheep and goats in procession along the main street to Rome’s citadel. Because it marked the New Year, there was extra revelry and other ritual practices.

On this day the Feast of Anna Perenna, a goddess or deity of the circle of the year was also celebrated. From her name we get the term ‘per annum.’ All scores and debts had to be settled by this date. A specially selected man was dressed in goat’s skin and ritually flogged and hounded outside of the city walls to mark the passing from the old year and into the new. He was imbued with all the sins of others and everyone was given a new slate into the New Year. It is from this practice that we get the term ‘Scapegoat.’

After the establishment of the Roman Republic, rulers began exercising control over the calendar, lengthening dates of when they were in power and shortening dates when their rivals were in power. Having won his war with Pompey, Julius Caesar used his position as Rome's chief pontiff to enact a calendar reform in 46 BC and in so doing he changed Rome’s New Year celebration from March 15 date to January.

In fact, our modern calendar is very much like the one that Julius Caesar enacted. It had 365 days and 12 months each year and took into account the fact that Earth’s orbit around the sun by adding a leap day every four years. Ironically on this foreboding day, the Roman Senate conspired to kill Julius Caesar. After ignoring numerous warnings–including those of a seer, Caesar was lured into an ambush and was stabbed 23 times before he died. The expression 'Beware the Ides of March' is first found in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, 1601. The line is the soothsayer's message to Julius Caesar, warning of his death.