Did the Ancient Irish believe in Reincarnation?


Here is my latest article on Irish Central, for anyone who’s interested.

44 Comments on “Did the Ancient Irish believe in Reincarnation?

  1. Boy, am I late to the party. I’ve just read you article and found it very interesting, mainly because the protagonist in my novel, Catherine Fitzgerald, wonders if there is such a thing after she is visited by spirits both in her dreams and underwater. Half of my debut novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, takes place in Ireland, so of course myths and beliefs come up in my story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Irish Mythology | Friday 13th… Unlucky for Some? | aliisaacstoryteller

      • Hey Ali, Fantastic article! I might have some secondary evidence regarding the eternity of souls, but still not exactly sure how it works with reincarnation. Both concepts make sense to me personally, and I have first-hand experience. But I agree with you, it is likely our ancestors had a different understanding of it while they were alive. For instance, I’m pretty sure no one thought about karma especially in the more modern sense, though, and nowadays that’s the concept most bound up with reincarnation (with some exceptions.)

        I have heard about Irish Brehon laws sanctioning the repayments of debts transgenerationally so that if your son owed you from a trade but couldn’t pay, he could reincarnate as your great grandson or second cousin once removed or something and pay your family in a different lifetime. And yeah, without the fear of death, courage takes on a whole different dimention. So does living more generally.

        Incidentally, I never knew about the story in which Cúchulainn’s birth was precipitated by his mom swallowing a mayfly. You know mayflies have some of the shortest lifespans on the earth, and Cúchulainn himself died very young. This particular story feels to me like it would have quite a few mystical/mythical symbolic meanings to it that might lead to some clues about ancient mystery traditions. I know little about Cúchulainn himself, other than a very basic understanding of what’s been written about him and that the people I know have an ongoing healthily hillarious rivalry with him and his Red Branch cohorts, which reminds me a bit of standoffs like rivalries between college sports teams. I’ve been given an unappologetically one-sided introduction to the whole state of affairs. That’s completely fine with me though, not that I’m biased or anything. 🙂

        I will now go wrap my head around the possibility, either in the instance you mentioned or some other one, of Fionn reincarnating. I’m starting to think that perhaps he and the other fianna did reincarnate and I’ve misunderstood a few things. But that possibility has my head spinning…like if that is true, then why has it been 1800-ish years since any of them have eaten wild boar? A very pressing question! Well at least that particular unfortunate circumstance has now been remedied for a couple people. 🙂

        Sorry for the novel, time to disappear and dissertate.


        • Lol! Glad to hear it Éilis! I still have not had that pleasure…I tried to get some at Christmas, but it was going to cost me something like €90 for a small piece! I couldnt justify the expense! I’d like to discuss more of what you said in this comment, but I think it would be better by email, so expect one soon!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Writing and Music and commented:
    A fascinating subject. Read with an open mind. I personally choose to believe in reincarnation as it is the only thing that makes sense to me.


  4. Excellent! I definitely believe in reincarnation. It is the only thing that makes sense. If you ever get a chance, read Ascending Spiral by Dr. Bob Rich (he’s from Australia). But, it was a fascinating tale of many lives. Loved this article!


    • Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the article. And thank you for the reading recommendation… I will certainly check it out!


  5. Very well written as usual Ali. When I build my time machine I’m going back to check on the religion of the Druids. All the stories of human sacrifices could well be the result of the Victors writing the history.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A fascinating post, as always. It had never occurred to me to interpret some of the myths (the few that I did know) in light of reincarnation, but you make a pretty convincing argument!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Did the Ancient Iris believe in Reincarnation? Check out Ali Isaac’s fascinating post on the subject…you will have to click on another link, but it will be worth it….thanks Ali and Chris Graham!


    • I am delighted if something I wrote sparked a discussion in your home! Thank you! I probably spelled it wrong… there are so many different spellings of everything in Irish depending on when the piece was written, how it was translated etc that I confess I get confused! 😀


  8. A wonderful article, full of interesting facts and information I want to explore further. I especially liked the way you ended it – the fact nothing is concrete and that it is open to interpretation. A storytellers dream 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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