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Celtic Moons, The Flood
(Full Moon usually between 21 January
and 17 February)
"Am loch i m-maig" I am
the Flood upon the Plain
The fourth moon of the Celtic Year
(the Celtic Year starts around Samhain (Hallow'een))
Like many cultures the Celts had
a Flood myth and as in many Flood myths the event is portrayed
ambiguously as both a disaster and the source of all good things.
In Celtic Lore, all Water - the source
of all fertility and Life belongs to the Formorians who hoard
it (and so the potential of fertility) in the Underworld from
whence it escapes, whether by accident or design, to irrigate
the mundane Middle Realm, and almost always in Celtic Lore it
is a female who is the catalyst for the "escape".
Whilst water was usually released
from the Underworld by the feminine, Water itself was seen as
a masculine element in early Celtic Lore (DH: remembering that
the influences on the Celtic came from the matriarchal era)
Such references are perfectly depicted in the tale of the Well
of Sergius. The Well of Sergius belonged to "Nechtan"
(Great Nephew) from whom Neptune derives his name (who was originally
the god of the spring (as in well-spring not the Season) but
who later became associated with oceans on account of assimilation
with the Greek Posoidon). Nechton relates back to the Indo-European
idea of the water ruler as "Nephew of the Great Waters"
(DH: similar to notions of "The Word" in relation
to God being applied to the Christ in Christianity but given
the epithet Nephew rather than Son: but as with the Virgin and
the Christ, there was always a Mother (the Great Waters) of
the ruler who later becomes his Wife and therefore Mistress
of the Waters: it is she, as Mother, who "gives life"
to the masculine "Ruler of the Waters" and whom as
Wife (as in the story of the goddess Boann discussed below),
brings the influence out into the Middle World (i.e. the mundane).
Also bring to mind notions of the High Priestess, Emperor and
Empress in the Tarot).
Nechtan's Well of Sergius was surrounded
by the nine Hazel-Trees of Wisdom, whose nuts fell into the
waters and gave it the quality of Divine Illumination much sought
after by the bards (the nuts were also eaten by the Salmon in
the pool impregnating their flesh with the same quality). Only
Nechton's three cup bearers, Fleasc, Lamh and Luamh were allowed
to approach the well of Sergius. The Goddess Boann (Bo-Fhionn
or White Cow) desired to drink from the well herself to increase
her power. Her secret unauthorized approach caused the well
to explode and flood the land before flowing as the River Boyne
(in which the spirit of Boann would from that moment forever
dwell) to the ocean (the Irish Sea).
In the legend of Drumchla Daimh Dule
(Roof of the Floods) the Boann/Boyne is the source of all rivers
of the world and although it appears that Boann's plan has back-fired,
through releasing the waters from the realm of the Formorians,
Boann becomes the Land goddess. As goddess of the nurturing,
life-enhancing forces that are favorable to the Tribe, she does
increase her power: a female Prometheus who steals vital treasures
from the Divine Realm to be accessible to mortals.
Outside the Flood mythos, in modern
Irish Lore Brigid inspires the tribe as goddess of the Land.
In modern Irish Lore Brigid is Keeper of the Water Table and
sends the Waters our on their nurturing mission (DH: Wife).
But as with the Keeper of the Fire in the Earth she is also
the keeper of the Spark of Life (DH: Mother). It is in the conjunction
of these seemingly polar opposite elements that, as Mistress
of both Fire and Water, Brigid derives her fertility and healing
inducing properties. (DH: Only one Element is missing In Brigid's
Lore in order to bring the fertility to the Land and the Tribe:
Air. It is eluded to in the Nine Hazels of Wisdom but comes
forward in the next Moon (just as the Magician in the Tarot
Unites with the High Priestess, so the final element Unites
with the Mother of the Ruler of the Waters).
A similar notion of Nephew of the
Waters appears in both Vedic and Persian Lore -cognates of Nechtan
in their similar indo-European traditions express the same idea
of "fire in water"
Thus the Fire aspects of Imbolc appear
in a watery Moon and it is in this period, the last stretch
of Winter, where heavy rains and snow appear. But the lengthening
of the day creates longer period of the Sun's warmth (Fire),
that, as Spring progresses prevents frosts and allows the abundance
of the Waters to soak into the soils of Earth, loosening their
texture and readying them to nurture the slowly awakening plants.
The lengthening days and watery properties of this moon assist
us to thaw out our rigid winter spirits, preparing them for
growth and the expansion of the senses, as the Fire-heat of
the Sun expands all mundane matter.
Under the Waxing Flood Moon, we become
aware of the gathering of waters in the amorphous, dimensionless
depths of Tethra and the growing pressure against the barrier
of the inert soul - yearning for conscious manifestation. At
Full Moon we uncap the well the waters gush forth. Under the
waning Flood Moon the lake spreads out over the whole land mingling
its waters with our faculties making our minds fertile as they
float up into the preserve of the sky: even as the Land that
sustains us regains its fertility.
Incantation to the Flood Moon
"Welcome, Moon of
the Flood! Rain and snow cover the land with water, hard earth
will thaw into fertile mud where seeds can sprout. Any part
of us that is frozen and refuses to grow must yield to the blessed
dissolution of the Flood."
From "Celtic Rituals: A Guide
to Ancient Celtic Spirituality" by Alexei Kondratiev
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