Posts filed under ‘Cosmology’

Muir, the Sea

All life on Earth has its origin in the seas. Life was possible on Earth in major part because there is water here- in fact as it’s often been pointed out the Earth’s surface is 70% water. Our bodies are mostly water as well- and the Gaels and other Indo-European peoples saw the human body as a microcosm of the universe. Thus salty blood is the sea of our bodies.

Modern Druids often associate the Sea with the Past, the Ancestors and Dead. But why is this? Well, I can think of some reasons based on traditional lore, but I also have some personal associations. The ancient Irish saw the Otherworld as being across the sea, and told tales of immrama– voyages to these places often depicted as islands (which though land are part of the Sea Realm) Also, here in the United States our ancestors all at one time came from over the sea. Personally, the ocean makes me think of my late grandmother who moved from Philadelphia to Florida later in her life. Living in land-locked areas of the country all my life as I have, the sea always seems like a special place one goes on vacation.  I have amassed a sea shell collection from ones I found both the New Jersey and Gulf shores, as well as ones Gram gave me. I like to use a large abalone shell to represent the Sea on my altar.  I have not yet had the chance to visit the Pacific Ocean, but I look forward to doing so one day.

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February 28, 2009 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

The Three Realms

A while back I wrote about the dual concepts of Samh & Geimh. I then had the thought of creating a series of posts called “Celtic Reconstructionism by the Numbers” explaining cosmological concepts. This is as much to clarify my own thoughts and beliefs on them as to explain them to others. I realize I have skipped One, and I will go back to that, but for now my imbas is leading me towards the Three Realms- or as some call them in Irish An Tribhis Mor.  Some people see the 3 realms- Land, Sea and Sky and think “Oh, that’s the 4 Elements with Fire left out. This is a misconception- in CR or historically-based Celtic Paganisms we do not use the 4 elements, which have their origin in late Greek philosophy. While they are often acknowledged in ritual, they are not called and dismissed as they are always present.  Dismissing them would be the ritual equivalent of destroying the universe! Another difference is the realms are not associated with directions.

So now that I’ve said what they are not here’s what they are!

November 9, 2008 at 9:15 am 4 comments

Samh and Geimh

There is a synchroblog on duality, though I found out about it rather late, I thought I would add some ideas from a Gaelic polytheist perspective.

The most important number in Celtic traditions is three and multiples thereof (9, 27 etc) But three emerges from two, and two emerge from one. Sure, a kindergartener can tell you that. But no, I mean this in an esoteric sense. Ultimately, all is One- everything came from one source- be it the Big Bang as in modern science or the Well of Segais or Ginunnagap in Norse myth. The One is separated into Two- or separates the Two into Light and Darkness, Order and Chaos or Female and Male. Or the Earth from the Heavens.

In Irish tradition we see these two cosmic principles as Samh and Geimh. They are Irish versions of the Gaulish concepts of Samos and Giamos. They are not words in modern Irish, but are coinages.

Samh- (sow) represents summer (Beltaine to Samhain) day, light, life, order, the waxing moon, the mundane.

Geimh- (geev) represents winter (Samhain to Beltaine) night, darkness, death, chaos (in a creative rather than destructive sense) the waning moon and magic or the uncanny.

Geimh and Samh are not inherently good nor evil, both are simply part of the natural balance and cycle of things. These two give rise to three- that which lies between them, which belongs to neither one or the other. The liminal, the edges of space and time.

Liminal times- sunrise and sunset, the turning of the seasons, times between the phases of life such as adolescence are when rituals and ceremonies are often held. The powers of the Sidhe (fairies) are stronger, bringing the potential for good luck or for great disaster.

While civilized, known lands could be said to belong to Samh, the wilderness and the unknown places belong to Geimh. Borders between the known and the unknown are the places where Fianna- the outcast warriors and other outsiders dwell.

These ambiguous places and times, which belong to neither one category or the other, are at once dangerous and holy. They inspired both fascination and fear in Celtic peoples.

Other posts on this topic:

May 23, 2008 at 5:30 am 7 comments

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