Lugh, The Striker, and The Sun

This coin is one of a commemorative collection that all portray a scene from popular Irish myths. I might talk later about the other coins in the series, but this is the one that resonates with me the most.

 

This coin shows an image of Lugh charging down the hosts of the Chthonic beings known as Fomorians, or Fomoraigh in Irish.

 

The Fomoraigh were a race of mythical beings who settled in Ireland before the coming of the race of Gods (called Tuatha De Danann) and the race of the current Irish population (called Milesians). Direct comparisons are tricky when it comes to Irish myth, but it’s reasonable to compare them to Jotnar or Titans. The Fomorians were sea pirates who regularly landed in Ireland to plunder and enslave its other inhabitants. Their portrayal in myth is heavily influenced by the actions of the Viking raiders around the time Christian monks and traveling poets were writing these stories down.

 

The Fomorians were primarily opposed to the Tuatha De Danann, the People of the Goddess Danu.

 

Lugh was a young warrior who was half Fomorian and half Tuatha De. He was raised in secret fosterage away from his people until he was grown to manhood, at which point he entered into the King’s hall and introduced himself as a warrior and a master of every conceivable skill and art. Because of his considerable talents, youthful vigor, and eagerness to fight, the old King Nuada hands over authority to Lugh. This was probably intended to be a temporary arrangement, but things turned out otherwise in the end.

 

A common trope you’ll see these days claims that Lugh was a solar God for the pre-Christian Irish. This isn’t true, but rather it’s an invention of the Victorian era, which probably stems from an incorrect translation of Lugh’s name to mean “light.” The only surviving manuscript which hints at a solar connection dates from the 16th century, and even that manuscript says that Lugh actually isn’t the sun.

 

“Bres rose up and said: “Isn’t it a wonder to see the sun rising in the west today.”

“It might be better if it were the sun,” said the Druids.

“What else is it?” said he.

“It’s the shining of the face of Lugh.”

– From Oidheadh Chloinne Tuireann

 

So the Druids confirm that it isn’t the sun approaching, just the bright face of Lugh. In other words, Lugh and the sun are not the same thing.

 

On the back of this coin is a knotwork of fairly common Irish design, which has become so prevalent in all things Celtic since the Celtic Revival in the 19th century. This side contains a great deal of detail, including animal motifs hidden inside the intricate flowing knots.

 

Although Lugh is shown on one side with the sun flashing at his back as he charges down a host of enemies, this image doesn’t resonate with me on any solar level. I just can’t make the mental leap necessary to proclaim Lugh as a solar God despite the evidence to the contrary.

 

But he does fall into the Striker category reasonably neatly when examined through the structure Jack Donovan lays out in his book, Fire In The Dark.

 

Lugh comes to the aid of his people, who are beset on all sides by chaos, greed, and resentment. The Fomoraigh have basically enslaved the Tuatha De Danann, who haven’t been able to resist. Then Lugh arrives, and when he’s asked what he is and what he can do, he says that he can be whatever he needs to be to get the job done.

 

Lugh unites the forces of Order and drives out the Chthonic Fomorians using his spear and his magic. He inspires others to stand up for themselves and assert their will and independence. He kills a fierce being of malice and destruction when he strikes out the magic eye of Balor (which inflicts paralysis) using his sling stone.

 

He lacks some of the symbolism of The Striker which is common in other traditions. His weapon is a spear, not a club or hammer. He isn’t related to the lightning or the oak in the myths, although there is an aspect of storm symbolism in some folklore sources. Also, two of his names are Lonnbemnech (pronounced long-BEV-neck) which means “fierce striker,” and also Rindagach, which means something like “eager to fight with a spear.” The word lonn is also used to describe lightning. Lasrach lonn is an Irish phrase for lightning, and it means something like “fierce flames or lights.” His relation to the spear is evident, that’s just what he fights with, but you could argue that lightning is probably more spearlike than clublike.

 

So although the idea of Lugh having a solar aspect doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, the tangle of knots on the back of this gold-plated coin reminds me of a solar eye, or perhaps a solar engine of motion, dynamism, and light. The playful dance of light across the knots on the back reminds me of the bright eye of The Father watching me in silent judgment, while the image of Lugh charging down a host of foes fills me with Striker energy.

 

These are just some of the thoughts which have occurred to me while using this coin as a focus for meditation. I usually carry this coin everywhere I go in my pocket, separate from my other coins, which are mere currency. In times of doubt, I flip the coin and trust to its decision.

 

Little artifacts like this can often prove invaluable when imbued with the right intent. They can serve as a totem for focus, a source of inspiration, a cure for indecision, or a trigger for different modes of thought. If that’s not magic, then I don’t know what is.

 


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Beowulf and Fortune’s Wheel

beowulf manuscript anglo saxon

I’m not alone in the belief that “Beowulf” is among the greatest legends ever written in the English language. Many are the giants of English literature who have dissected it to unravel its secrets, not least among them being J.R.R. Tolkien whose works are heavily inspired by the Beowulf saga. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon and an expert on the topic of Beowulf, and he is largely credited with popularizing the legend, which had previously been regarded as unworthy of study. This article will be the first part of a series which will give an overview of the narrative, the plot and some important background information. We will also delve deeper into the intimidating mere of the myth that many consider to be England’s National Epic, by interpreting the themes and devices that make this thousand-year-old myth relevant to modern man.

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Baldr Dead

Baldr (also Balder) is one of the major characters in the Norse mythos. A son of Odin (like most of the male Aesir) Baldr was said to be so charismatic and good-natured that he was beloved by all whom he met, and he is associated with light and warmth and the sun.

 

“The second son of Odin is Baldr, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be.”

-“Gylfaginning”, Brodeur’s translation.

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Mogh Roth: The Techno-God.

Smartphone Addiction sounds absurd when you say the words. What normal human being would possibly allow themselves to become dependent on the dim blue light of a computer screen, right? But as absurd as it may sound, smartphone addiction is a real problem, and it’s a problem that we are probably all affected by. That seemingly innocent but slightly reassuring blue light from the screen of your phone, a window into the unlimited realms of knowledge available online, wields more power over your subconscious mind than you might realize. On a very basic level, we find the blue and white light of the screen to be immediately satisfying because of its resemblance to a clear sky. Prolonged exposure to the light of a smartphone screen fools your brain into releasing the same hormones that it releases on a beautiful clear day. The kind of day that we can no longer truly appreciate because we are too busy Instagramming about it.

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Crom Cruach: The Dark God of the Burial Mound.

the ancient pagan Irish once worshipped a sinister and mysterious deity, commonly known as Crom Cruach. However, we are told that he was saluted by other names too. Crom Dubh, Crom Croich, and Cenn Cruach. The meaning of the name of this enigmatic spirit is as mysterious as his history. Crom means “crooked”, Cenn means “head” or “chieftain”, Dubh means “dark” or “black”, Croich means “gallows”, and Cruach means either “bloody” or “mound”. I would not argue that etymology alone should be the means by which we build an understanding of our unknown history, but it is certainly a significant indicator of intent. Taking these things into account we could loosely translate the many titles of Crom as meaning:

“The Dark Crooked Lord of the Bloody Mound.”

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If You’re Up There, Save Me Superman!

In the book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, Friedrich Nietzsche introduces us to his concept of the Superman or Overman. Keep in mind that Nietzsche was writing 150 years ago and his Superman bears no relation whatsoever to Clark Kent, Man of Steel. Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman is a contentious one as the man’s ideas are sometimes hard to stomach for many modern readers. Nietzsche’s legacy has also been misrepresented by many parties since his death to suit their own agendas. The ideal of the Superman itself however, is a solid one.

 

“Man is something that is to be surpassed. Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman- a rope over an abyss. What is great in Man is that he is a bridge and not a goal.”

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Father Prometheus: Unchaining The Titan

In the beginning, all was barren and lifeless. As the murky fog of Chaos dissipated and the earth separated itself from the seas, plant life began to form upon the land. Jungles spread, mountains rose, rivers slithered out towards the sea. Eventually the gods decided to create animal life in order to populate this new landscape. So they employed two brothers, sons of The Old Gods, the Titans, who now lay imprisoned in the depths of Tartarus. Prometheus and Epimetheus were the names of these brothers, Foresight and Hindsight. 

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WOODKERN

woodkern artwork

The word Kern is an anglicized version of the Gaelic word “Ceithern” which translates roughly as “a warlike group”. Woodkern can thus be described as “bands of warlike men who dwell in the woods”. Though the phrase Woodkern refers to men who lived during a specific period of time, they belonged to a very old tradition that dates back throughout the ages of recorded history into times of legend and myth. These men were often described as outcast or outlaws, but in reality they were usually men of good social standing and wealth. They would have needed the funds to supply their own arms and equipment and they would also have needed more skill in the arts of warfare than the average peasant or farmer would have had. Warbands such as these were common throughout history and those who operated in this manner have been known by many names at different periods of time.

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