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Celtic Moons, The Flood
By DragonHawk

(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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