For this week’s challenge I was hoping to dig a little into my new book on the history of magic and witchcraft, referenced above.
As it turns out, between a busy week at work and then heading to Ireland for my birthday for the weekend, I’ve not had much chance to do so.
Whilst in Ireland though, another opportunity presented itself. As I’ll be moving to Ireland early next year, I’m keen to learn more about the history of magick in Ireland.
We were staying in County Cork and whilst there visited Blarney Castle, home of the infamous Blarney Stone.
In the gardens at the castle there’s an area called “Rock Close”.
According to the guidebook:
The massive rock formations and the great boulders indicate that in pre-historic times it was was a Druidic settlement or place of worship. The druids were the priests of the old pagan religion which existed in Ireland before the coming of St Patrick in 432, and they worshipped the Sun God.
To be found walking around Rock Close are (amongst other things)
The Druid’s Altar and Stones
The Witch’s Kitchen
The Wishing Steps (which have to be transversed downwards and upwards with your eyes closed to have your wish come true)
and the Witch Stone
Most of the rocks stand as they have done for over two thousand years, though some amendments were made by the Jeffreys family in the eighteenth century.
There are ancient yew and ilex trees, with the Yew hanging over the Witch’s Kitchen having been assessed as being over a thousand years old.
It’s an enchanting and magickal feeling place with a real sense of history, you can feel it in the air as you walk around. And even has it’s own fairy glade!
Leading on from this, I have had a quick opportunity to look in my book which has a short section on the druids and Celtic myth and magic.
My books says that historically Druids are likely to have been wise men, teachers, or priests, sometimes described as having magical powers.
According to Roman writer Pliny the Elder, druids saw magical powers in white-juiced mistletoe, which they thought brought fertility. Pliny also claimed that druids sacrificed animals; he described the killing of two white bulls as part of a druid ceremony for gathering mistletoe. Roman writers, including Pliny and Julius Caesar, are the sources of most accounts of druids, but similar stories appear in old Welsh and Irish tales, which had Celtic originals. From the 8th Century Christian scholars recorded these stories in manuscripts such as the 12th-century Book of Leinster and Book of the Dun Cow. Druids in such myths are sometimes magicians with power over storms or other natural phenomena. In one Christian tale, when St Patrick went to Ireland, a druid tried to discredit him by summoning a snowstorm, but Patrick dispersed it with the sign of the Cross.
Irish folklore, is full of myths and legends describing magical beings and gods, shapeshifting, and of course the infamous banshee. And Irish mythology includes a strong connection to other worlds including Tir na n’Og, the Land of Eternal Youth.