Saturday, 22 December 2012

Final Resting Place

This is a picture of my grandmother's final resting place.  My maternal grandmother died in August 2012, and her ashes were scattered today, 22 December 2012. 

Her picture is now the main focus of my ancestral space in my home, as my grandmother has had more influence on me in later life than any other person.  My gran will live on - in my heart.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dr. Anne Ross

It seems that Dr. Anne Ross, celtic scholar, and author passed away last month.

A small notice can be found at BMDS Online.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Song of the Sea, an upcoming production

Song of the Sea is the new project of Cartoon Saloon (the same company that created The Secret of Kells) and it’ll be coming out in 2013.

“The story of the last Seal Child’s journey home. After their mother’s disappearance, Ben and Saoirse are sent to live with Granny in the city. When they resolve to return to their home by the sea, their journey becomes a race against time as they are drawn into a world Ben knows only from his mother’s folktales. But this is no bedtime story; these fairy folk have been in our world far too long. It soon becomes clear to Ben that Saoirse is the key to their survival.”

Monday, 3 September 2012

Selchie Productions: A Gaelic charm from Coll against drowning and deaths in wars, noted down in 1874

A reblog from selchieproductions:
An t-seun chuir Moire mu Mac
’S a chuir Brighid ‘na brat
’S a chuir Mìcheal ‘na sgéith
’S a chuir Mac Dhé roimh chathair neòil,
Seun thu roimh shaighead,
Seun thu roimh chlaidheamh,
Sian thu roimh pheilear na sgrìoba ruaidhe;
Eilean thu air muir,
Carraig thu air tìr—
Guma motha eagal...
See  selchieproductions for the full charm and translation into English.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Change of Address

As readers of this blog may have noticed, the url address has changed.  It is now located at  So, why the change?

Over the last few years, I have been refining my polytheist leanings and focussing on one particular area, more particularly polytheist traditions of the highlands of Scotland.  Also, I continued to undertake genealogical research, discovering the majority of my ancestors originate from the south-west of Ireland, but also, it seems there are links to Scotland and the Northern Ireland plantation settlers.   In light of this, I felt I better understood the pull that the north-west, particularly Wester-Ross, has on me. 

I also attempted to learn Scots Gaelic, was forced to take a break shortly after I started, but I hope to return to it.   I also started reading blogs and books by Gaelic Polytheists and felt this better suited me, too.  To that end, I still  read around Irish and other related myths, and I continue to learn more about Irish witchcraft traditions as there is very little on the polytheist and magical practices of Gaelic Scotland, presumably because it is thought the language, and culture(?) originated with northern Irish settlers/invaders some time in the fourth century [correct me if I am wrong].

In all this, I learned that the word "celtic" was generally applied only to the languages, and not necessarily the modern cultures most people refer to when they use the word.  So, I decided "gael" was a more appropriate word to apply to my user name.   It has taken some time to make the change - it's never as easy as you think - and change links, domains, email, etc.  The look and appearance of this blog have not changed because that is simply too technical for me, and I'm just not that creative.

My hope is that this doesn't inconvenience readers, and followers of this blog too much; and I hope, too, that the change is understandable.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ebay Bans: spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; magic potions; and more

This from Ebay's 2012 Fall Seller Update:
The following items are also being added to the prohibited items list: advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions; ...
And the following categories are to be removed:
Discontinued categories:
  • Metaphysical: Psychic, Paranormal; Readings
  • Metaphysical: Psychic, Paranormal; Spells, Potions
  • Metaphysical: Tarot Readings
I'm a little ambivalent about this.  It's not as though this is a direct attack on pagans or witches, as prayers are also included; however, it does seem to be targeting a certain set of beliefs and, rather interestingly, I could not find miracles listed among the banned items.

This ban may go some way to stopping the charlatans, but I am one of those people that feel if someone wants to spend $5,000 on a magic candle to cure their ills, then let them so do, because, generally, I am not very keen on the nanny state.   Technically speaking, a seller can still list a ring believed to have been owned by the Grand Magus, Quezacotl Doom Sayer, imbibed with his personal magic, because what they are really selling is the cheap, silver plated ring not the magic attached thereto.  So, these bans and removals Ebay is instigating may not be terribly effective at stopping fools from parting with their money.

Ebay is a business and, as such, reserves the right to refuse anyone from trading with them.  Still, the specific categories being removed, and the items being targeted - although intangibles - are related to a particular sector of society, which gives it a hint of a smell of - what's the right word here? - discrimination against occultists.

Ah well.  Does it really matter to me?  No.  This update will have no affect on me, nor my dealings with various auction/trading sites.   Real occultists are likely to remain unaffected, because, as occultists, everything is generally hidden and not displayed for sale, and the unscrupulous will always find a way to take advantage of the unwary.

Caveat Emptor!

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Broonie, Silkies & Fairies

Author: Duncan Williamson
: 9780862410872

Why did I read it? I had read Duncan Williamson’s “The Land of the Seal People” and truly enjoyed it, so I purposely sought his other publications, mostly because he includes so many tales of the Silkie, also known as the Selkie and seal people, a subject which truly fascinates me: a race people who move between two worlds.

What’s it about? This is a collection of fireside tales told to Duncan Williamson during the years he spent travelling. The tales are from the north-west of Scotland and include:

The Silkie’s Revenge”;
The Broonie on Carra”;
Saltie the Silkie”;
The Taen-Awa”;
Torquil Glen”;
The Lighthouse Keeper”;
Archie and the Little People”;
The Broonie’s Curse”;
The Fisherman and his Sons”;
The Tramp and the Boots”;
The Crofter’s Mistake”;
The Broonie’s Farewell”;
and an annotated glossary.

As can be gleaned from the titles, all are tales involving other folk, and include lessons on how to behave, or not when encountering these folk.  

What did I like? Aside from relishing the tales of the seal folk, I was particularly taken aback by the lack of happy endings often encountered in children’s tales of the modern age. These stories contain warnings, though not all, and very few have a particularly happy ever after feel. Though these are cautionary tales, none was overly terrifying; rather the some characters terrified themselves, particularly in the case of “Torquil Glen”.

I also enjoyed learning different lore surrounding certain creatures, such as the broonie. I had always understood them to be attached to particular families, or homes, but this appears not to be the case in the stories presented in this book relating to the broonie. Rather, a broonie appears as a travelling man to assess the nature of a human’s character and reflecting their fortune accordingly; more as a short lesson than a lifetime curse.

Each story is preceded by a few paragraphs revealing the source of the tale; many have summaries wherein Duncan Williamson adds his own thoughts and feelings on the preceding story, which provides a unique insight into the purpose, and culture of fireside storytelling.

What didn’t I like? It was the small matter of some of the dialect. There are footnotes for some words, and the editor, Linda Williamson, the author’s wife, provides an explanation in the glossary of how they arrived at appropriate language for the publication, it was still sometimes a little hard to discern what was being said. Still, the language did evoke a sense of authenticity of the tales.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I highly recommend “Broonie, Silkies and Fairies: Travellers Tales” by Duncan Williamson to anyone that enjoys a good story, folklore, fairy tales, or has an interest in otherworld beings, and/or the culture of travelling folk, crofters or the north west of Scotland.  

Rating: 4½/5.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Táin Bó Cúailnge more closely based on "real-life" than previously thought

Researchers have used mathematics to conclude that ancient Irish epic, Táin Bó Cúailnge, may be more closely based on real-life societies than previously thought.

The study takes a numerical look at how interactions between characters in the ancient Táin Bó Cúailnge compare with real social networks.
The whole article can be read via the Irish Times website.


All has been quiet here for a few reasons.  Firstly, I moved home rather unexpectedly.  I upgraded from a studio flat on a farm to a house next to a park with my own garden.   I also received some rather nice housewarming gifts, one of which can be seen in the photograph: a lovely statue I had admired for ages which finally came up for sale, but was presented to me.

Secondly, I lost my best friend and grandmother rather unexpectedly, despite the fact she was 92.   With her went the last link to the secrets of our family line.  More importantly, I lost my confidante.  Coincidentally, my grandmother passed on the day set aside in myth for the funeral games in honour of Lugh's foster-mother, Tailtiú.   

These changes have been significant and, as one would expect, have led to introspection.  I am not sure what the outcome will be, or how it will affect my writing here.   It's a case of wait and see.

Until next time ...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Lollipop Shoes

Author: Joanne Harris
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
: 9781405683678

Why did I read it? It was available in audio, and I adored Chocolat by the same author, Joanne Harris, a dose of magical realism, romance and embracing life. 

What's it about? Vianne has escaped to anonymity of the city of Paris with her two daughters, Anouk and Rosette, and is seeking a normal, ordinary life. She's taken on her mother's name Yan, she has stopped creating her own confections with the result her shop is failing, and her landlord is in pursuit of her when the glamorous, exciting Zozie de l'Alba enters their lives with the winds of change flirting around her. Annie (Anouk) instantly likes and admires Zozie for her pride in being unique, different, and as both Yan and Annie come to rely on Zosie, the wind, their pasts and (long held) secrets continue their relentless pursuit. 

What did I like? First, the narration by Juliet Stevenson. It is clear she was a great actress, and when voicing the male characters, I actually thought a male actor had been employed. Ms Steveson's performance of this story was superb and I will actively seek out other books she has chosen to narrate. The story is told through three characters: Vianne, Anouk and Zozie. Ms Steveson made it easy for me to determine to whom a particular chapter related in just the first few words; her characterisation of each individual voice so skillfully personified. I just cannot praise, or thank Juliet Stevenson enough for narrating The Lollipop Shoes, in unabridged format at that. 

I adored the inclusion of folk and fairy tales throughout the story. Each was a morality tale, as was the whole book (see below for more on this aspect), and each raised the suspicions of this reader. As an adult, I still have my childhood compendium of fairytales and I read them in times when I need to feel comforted, so to find an adult book along the same lines is refreshing. These folk and fairy tales are the clues to the secrets in this book, so pay attention.  

The Lollipop Shoes is darker than Chocolat, more like those old-fashioned Grimm fairy tales (before sanitisation) highlighting the gruesome fate that awaits the unwary child who ignores their parent's warnings, and which have a hard lesson to impart wrapped up in a cloak of alluring magic. The magic in this story was much more overt and fairytale-like than the subtle magical realism employed in the first book. I probably enjoyed this because of my penchant for those tales I read as a child, though I can see where it might not be to everyone's liking who enjoyed the more subtle, more believable (?) magic in Chocolat

The Lollipop Shoes is more of a mystery book, with a dire sense of danger to it, rather than the quaint tale of the battle between different outlooks, beliefs and morals of the earlier book, though these do play a significant part in the story. 

The characterisation of the three narrating voices - Vianne, Anouk and Zozi - had depth, and the tension between them was palpable. Shining light on a situation/scene from the point of view of different characters enhanced the feeling of something not being right. In fact, the tension and danger was palpable because of the insights into the thought processes of three, rather than the usual one, or two characters. As the ending approached, the tension tightened and I found myself on edge, and having to listen all through the night and into morning until the climax; I could not stop listening so desperate was I to learn the fates of these three, desperate women.  

The Lollipop Shoes is also a coming-of-age tale and explores themes of finding one's place in the world-at-large, bullying, the growing pains experienced by parents and children as time passes, and the tension this causes between the two. There is also a window on how a parent might balance protecting their children against preparing them for adulthood, and the unique challenges encountered with children that are outside (what society might consider) the norm

Finally, the food; so enticing; so delicious. Joanne Harris knows how to awaken the senses with her descriptions, and I could smell, see and almost touch every culinary creation within the book. With Juliet Stevenson delivering the lines with such sumptuousness, the kind that raises real cravings within me, without resorting to that overt food porn voice employed by those Marks and Spencer's commercials that are meant to entice the whole of the UK, I am ever so grateful that I didn't have a scrap of chocolate in the house when reading this book, or unhealthy food of any type, as temptation was invoked with every word.  

What didn't I like? One aspect of morality explored in the book was particularly distasteful: the ethics explored in the employment of magic. It felt like the ongoing animosity between (non-initiate, non-lineaged) Wicca and other magicians/witches. The so-called laws of magic frequently voiced by the former were applied to Vianne in this book and it truly began to grate, almost to the point of shredding my last nerve, especially when it alluded to the neopagan point of view being the "good", in opposition with the traditional outlook being the "evil", despite Vianne following the old ways in the book.   Even the resolution, when it came, left a bitter taste in my mouth, and not a pleasant one like that provided by chocolate.    This was more than a disappointment. 

Yan (Vianne) was very whiny in this book and the repetitive nature of her complaints did begin to wear, though I know this is often how those of that state of mind behave, not realising they are sounding like a broken record. In a similar vein, I am not sure if Joanne Harris believes her readers to be a little dim, or possessing poor memories, but there was quite a bit of repetition in the book and not just because the same scenes were being voiced by different characters. There was more than one instance when I thought: "Aren't these the exact words she used before and the same story? Has my iPod backtracked without me knowing?

There was an issue with the audio version in that the volume was a little too low and, though perfectly appropriate for this style of story, it meant I had to turn up the volume on my player and this led to some unusual background noises: static; someone receiving an email on Outlook (we all know that pinging sound, don't we?); and some other, not quite discernible, but nevertheless potentially distracting sounds.  

Would I recommend it? Yes, oh yes. I shall definitely be listening again. It's a strong story that draws you in and you listen in wonder, all the while hoping that when the battle comes, your chosen heroine will be triumphant and the villain punished. Just remember, real life is more a Grimm fairytale, than Disney-like "dreams come true" tale.  

Rating: 4/5.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Shelf of Myths

Shelf of Myths by i-c-photos
Shelf of Myths, a photo by i-c-photos on Flickr.
A selection of my books on myths, though I noted the other copy of the Mabinogion has been misplaced.

Random Conversations

Had a rare conversation with my grandmother yesterday about the inheritance within the maternal line of her family of premonitory abilities, and the prominence for us of events that fall on the 13th of any month.

We've had similar experiences, as has my mother, but before yesterday, I had no idea my great-grandmother also inherited these oddities.   I was aware that my grandmother's hitherto lost relatives were all spiritualists, perhaps influenced to be so by their experiences, but my great-grandmother was very secretive and eschewed anything (that fell even slightly) outside the socially acceptable/conventional.

For my part, I always buy a lottery ticket on any Friday the 13th, so that if a major/significant event is to occur, I might have some influence over it.

Friday, 4 May 2012


The gods are having a laugh at my expense, or so it seems.   No sooner had I started to feel comfortable than all manner of strife arose:

  • health;
  • family;
  • accommodation;
  • money
are all in jeopardy.   To that end, this blog is the least of my concerns.  I'll return when all else has resolved itself.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Another Film about Cúchulainn?

Michael Fassbender is to take the lead in a new project written by Ronan Bennett, whose credits include Public Enemies and The Hamburg Cell.

Fassbender will star as Cuchulain, the central hero of the Ulster Myth Cycle in the film (one of the four branches of Irish mythology), which has a working title Irish Myths.

Development funding is already in place for the project which is being produced by Finn McCool Films, the London based production company set up by Fassbender and Bennett.

It is not yet known who will direct the project.

Fassbender is currently in Berlin promoting Haywire. He will next be seen in Prometheus for Ridley Scott.

So says "Screen Daily".

One wonder how this affects the plans for "Hound" being produced by Breakthru Films.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Gaelic Battle Charms

Here is Alexander Carmichael describing the genre of protective charm or seun in Carmina Gadelica ii, 26:

‘Sian’ or ‘seun is occult agency, supernatural power used to ward away injury, and to protect invisibly. Belief in the charm was common, and examples of its efficacy are frequently told.
Go read the Carmichael Watson Project blog on this very intriguing topic.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Curse of Macha: Pilot Feature Film Production

This project is being funded through donations by the general public, using We Fund.  If you're interested in helping, or are just curious, please click here to read more.
Awakened by the onslaught of an invasion, Emer is forced to succumb to the horror of her children missing and the burning flames of her dying village. Rather than accept her fate, she breaks free of the carnage to find another village and a group of warriors willing to take up her cause and find out the truth of this nightmare.

What unfolds is a daring attempt to reach the ancient city of Emain Macha, the stronghold of the Ulaidh (Ulster) Tribes. But with political and religious influences on the struggle for power over the northern territories of Ireland, our heroes our met with overwhelming odds stacked against them. It is with Emer, that the fate of the Ulaidh tribes lays, and through her courage and strength the promise to embrace her children once more.

Many myths and legends have echoed through Ireland's forests, none so infamous than the Táin Bó Cúailgne, an epic tale of greed, lust and pride. 3 deadly sins that have plagued Ireland's shores for an eternity. Our story focuses on one mother’s nightmare and one peoples plight in a land steeped in religious and political turmoil.  Set in the 4th Century AD, Ireland is a land inconstant upheaval. Kings, Queens, Priestess and Warlords battle among themselves for power. All the while the masses struggle to survive daily life in an Ireland that is one dark environment.

The Film is based on the Irish myths of the Táin Bó Cúailgne, our story is an original screenplay by Chris Lennon and Paul Michael.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Maelstrom Melody

As the high winds, accompanied by rain, arrived last night I found myself listening to the sounds; imagining the trendils of the Cailleach's hair streaking through the trees.  Being still, being silent and just listening conjured a mass of imagery.  It was uplifting.

The house shook quite a few times from the pressure, but I slept soundly just allowing my mind to drift on the melody of the maelstrom.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Strange Tides

What a strange season it is: The weather, and other natural forces have felt odd in this corner of the land, being very mild, and my free time over the festivities birthed the unexpected. It's hard to explain what has happened or is happening. My plan was to relax and unwind, but I was driven to something else altogether by forces known, familiar, and unknown and unfamiliar.

Something has switched in this tide; and I have started a journey ... to where or what I know not. The why is even less clear. I do know I had a part in calling forth the impetus on solstice night.

Be careful what you wish for.