A Fire in the Head | Shamanic Use of Amanita in Irish Mythology

Shape-shifting, transformation, reincarnation, head-cults, ancient ritual magic, you’re seen it all on this blog so far. It’s pretty far-fetched stuff, even for a fantasy writer who OD’s on caffeine and prosecco late into the night just to bring you these stories, right?

Death by cheese, anyone? Brain-ball, a new line in deadly weaponry, perhaps? I’m telling you, you can’t make this stuff up. It’s already there in black and white, if you care to look, preserved in the ancient texts which tell our Irish mythology.

Spending so much time engrossed in these stories, I’m bound to come to a few conclusions of my own. Here’s one which no one’s going to like, because it defies everything we’ve been told about our ancient ancestors.

I don’t believe they worshipped a multitude of Gods and Goddesses. No, I think they simply honoured their ancestors. That’s a completely different thing.

Think of it this way;  when you visit the grave of a departed loved one, you’re there to pay your respects, to remember and honour them. You’re not there to worship them, or the stone you placed on their grave to mark their resting place.

Similarly, when our ancestors went down to the River Boyne, I believe they went, not to worship some river Goddess, but to remember and honour their beloved ancestor, the woman Boann, a much respected Queen, who drowned there.

Boann was one of the Tuatha de Danann, a race of supernatural God-like people who conquered Ireland over four thousand years ago. To those who came along many years later, the Romans and the Christians, for example, the powers and technologies of such people could only come from the divine; they could only be explained as Gods. Or demons, depending on your view. But let’s not go there right now.

Honouring the ancestors generally involves the belief that the dead continue to exist beyond the mortal world, and that they may be able to influence and interact with the living in some way.

This fits with what we know of ancient Irish society through the mythology we have inherited. It also fits with those cultures practising shamanism, which requires achieving an altered state of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with the Otherworld. And the more mythology I read, the more convinced I am that the Druids were actually shaman.

We think of the shaman as being primitive, some kind of witch doctor, mumbo-jumbo, more showman than shaman, really. The shaman practised amongst other rituals, singing, chanting, dancing, drumming, fasting, and dreaming as ways of entering transcendence.

They had various tools to aid their journeys into the Otherworld, such as a drum, generally an animal skin stretched over a simple wooden hoop with a handle across the diameter. Sounds like an Irish bodhrán, to me. Some used feathers in rituals and ceremonies, just as the ancient Irish bards wore a cloak made of swanskin and feathers called a tuigen.

But what did they actually do? They performed many functions within their communities. They were healers; passed messages between the Otherworld and the physical world; conducted religious and spiritual guidance; foretold the future; preserved a community’s history via storytelling.

Irish mythology is awash with tales of druids practising magic, presiding over battles, invoking storms and strange unnatural weather, performing healing, predicting the future, and being consulted often by Kings. We also know that the filidh were not only inspired poets but seers, healers, and workers of magic, as well.

The shaman would also sometimes use psychoactive substances to enter their trance. That’s where this pretty little thing comes in…

The Irish called it Agairg Cuileoige, but it’s more popularly known as Amanita Muscaria, or Fly Agaric. I always thought that was because eating it gave you wings, but apparently it was used as a poison for flies by grinding and mixing with milk. Which is disappointingly mundane.

Amanita has been used throughout the ages and around the world for its hallucinogenic properties, usually as an entheogen (meaning ‘generating the divine within’) for religious, shamanic and spiritual purposes.

In fact, R.G.Wasson, an American author and ethnomycologist (someone who studies fungi) went so far as to suggest that Amanita is the mysterious and elusive substance known as Soma, so revered in the Rig Veda, an ancient sacred text of Vedic Sanskrit hymns.

Amanita appears between August and November, and is generally found beneath birch and spruce trees, with which it forms a symbiotic relationship (organisms that live together, but where the relationship is not necessarily beneficial to both).

It can be no coincidence that the first letter in the Ogham alphabet is beith, represented by the birch tree, host to the amanita. It is said that Ogham was created by Ogma of the Danann, when he sent a message to Lugh by carving seven beith symbols on a birch branch.

The Amanita’s cap is bright crimson, grows to about 12cms in diameter, then fades to orange and pale yellow as it ages. It is scattered with white flecks, which are actually remnants of a protective shroud that covers the mushroom when it emerges. These can be washed off in heavy rain.

Bearing in mind its psychoactive properties, it seems hard to imagine it wasn’t used by the ancient Irish in some of their rituals. What first springs to my mind, is the ritual of Imbas Forosnai, imbas meaning ‘inspiration’, in particular the sacred poetic inspiration of the ancient Filidhand forosnai meaning ‘illuminating’ or ‘that which illuminates’. Imbas Forosnai as a ritual seems to me to exhibit many of the characteristics of shamanic activity.

According to Cormac’s Glossary (Cormac was  a King of Munster and a Bishop, who died in 908AD), this ceremony involved the poet seeking knowledge to chew the ‘red’ flesh of a pig/dog/cat. He must call on his gods (or ancestors), chant incantations, place his hands over his face and eyes, and sleep (enter a trance). This may last 3, or 3×3 days and nights until he has achieved the knowledge he seeks in the Otherworld, all the while being watched over to ensure he doesn’t move and is not disturbed.

Surprisingly, much of this makes sense. No, really, it does! For example, placing hands over eyes is reminiscent of one of the hand positions used in Reiki to enable the Third Eye chakra to see into one’s higher consciousness, spirituality, and the Otherworld. The darkness also acts as a kind of sensory deprivation.

Being watched over indicates the presence of more experienced druids, who are able to deal with any negative symptoms which might occur, such as vomiting ( a common side-effect) during trance.

Chanting is also another way to aid the onset of trance. In Ireland, the technique is called Tenm Láida, which means the ‘illumination of song’, and involves the repetitive singing or chanting of poetry until a trance-like state is induced.

In the Macgnimartha Find (the Boyhood Deeds of Fionn), Fionn mac Cumhall is said to have learned Imbas Forosnai, Tenm Laida and Dichetal do Chennaib (inpromptu, spontaneous performance/ speech without prior preparation), as part of his training, probably during his time with the druid, Finegas. Also, in a later story, when he finds the beheaded body of a man in his home, he is able to identify it as his fool, Lomna, by chanting Tenm Láida.

For me, the chewing of the meat during Imbas Forosnai stands out like a sore thumb (Fionn’s prophetic burnt thumb, maybe?). By red, I assumed raw, but what would this achieve? It seems far more likely to me that the red flesh referred to was actually the red cap of amanita muscaria.

Ireland was covered in forest. Birch is a native tree of Ireland. It is also the host of the amanita. I have seen them growing in my local forest beside Lough Ramor. So it is highly likely that the druids would have been aware of them, and even made use of them.

But what of ‘the fire in the head’? Well, one of the symptoms of amanita ingestion is a marked heating of the head, apparently caused by blood rushing in. The poetic inspiration so sought after by the filidh is also described as ‘fire in the head’, and there are many examples of this in Irish mythology.

Firstly, let’s look at Brigid, pagan patron of smithcraft, healing and poetry. The name Brigid means ‘bright/ exalted one’, from the Sanskrit brahti, and is thought to refer to her association with fire and the sun. When she was born (at sunrise), a tower of flame was said to have extended from the top of her head to the heavens… the fire in the head.

This is how Cormac’s Glossary describes her:

“Brighid, a poetess, daughter of the Dagda. She is the female sage, woman of wisdom, Brighid the Goddess whom poets venerated as very great and famous for her protecting care. She was therefore called ‘Goddess of the Poets’. Her sisters were Brighid the female physician, and Brighid the female smith; among all Irishmen, a goddess was called ‘Brighid’. Brighid is from breo-aigit or ‘fiery arrow’.”

As the patron of poetry, she must have been skilled in the art of Imbas Forosnai, and all it entailed. There are other references to her link with amanita use, too.

According to tradition, in her incarnation as a Christian saint, she was born at sunrise on the threshold of a house, which is a liminal place so beloved of the pagans, ie it was neither within nor without the house. She was raised by a druid who fed her only the milk from a white, red-eared cow. A metaphor for a brew concocted from the red and white amonita, perhaps? She often turned water into milk, which tasted like ale, and used it to heal the sick. Interesting.

Cuchulainn was someone else who experienced a fire in the head, although his was less than poetic. According to Thomas J Riedlinger, author and mental health therapist, the warrior’s terrible battle-frenzy, or riastradh, and subsequent wasting sickness from which he could not be roused, are evidence of amanita consumption. His fire in the head was described thus…

Among the clouds over his head were visible the virulent pouring showers and sparks of ruddy fire which the seething of his savage wrath caused to mount up above him.

Quote from Shee-Eire

The riastradh included great physical distortions, feats of huge strength, an unstoppable frenzy to kill everyone in sight, and an aura-like glow around his head, known as his ‘hero’s ligh’. He experiences great heat, which causes vats of water to boil; his heart beats wildly; he suffers facial and visual distortions, and becomes agitated, athletic and very strong, able to perform such impossible feats as the salmon leap, for example.

In the story of the ‘Wasting Sickness of Cú Chulainn’ (Serglighe Con Culainn), the warrior becomes depressed after missing his target of striking two birds from the air with a stone, and he falls into a malaise in which he sleeps for a year, dreaming prophetic visions, from which he cannot be roused.

Although exaggerated, these symptoms are all common experiences of consuming amanita, save for the blood lust and the length of the dream period. Where use of amonita has been observed in cultures indulging in shamanic ceremonies, the dream period lasted several days, but could be prolonged by ingesting more mushrooms, or drinking the urine of an affected individual, which remains psycho-active. Yuk!

Although the amanita is not mentioned directly in any ancient text, there are many shady references to it. Many magical foods are mentioned in Irish mythology; the rowan berry, apples, the hazelnut of knowledge, the salmon of knowledge. Whilst nutritious, and therefore vital to our ancestor’s survival, none of these foods have been found to possess any psychoactive properties. It has been suggested therefore, that these could all be secret metaphors for the use of amanita.

Why secret? Well, it wasn’t food for the common folk, but reserved for the sacred few in search of enlightenment. Remember how both Sionann and Boann were drowned in their search for knowledge?

The druids may also have wished to keep their source of enlightenment secret from the Christians; St Patrick was not a friend to them, and indeed by outlawing the practices of Imbas Forosnai and Dichetal do Chennaib, he may well have been attempting to prevent the use of amanita, being a bridge into the Otherworld and accessing the beings who resided there.

Not only that, but there is much speculation over his banishing of the snakes. As Ireland has no indigenous snakes, it has been proposed that this meant he banished the druids, but there is also a suggestion that the snake referred to amanita; Alexei Kondratiev discovered folk references in Ireland and Scotland, describing the mushroom as an náthair bhreac, ‘the speckled snake’.

It’s all a furtive fungal fog of speculation. None of it can be proved, but it’s an interesting line of argument. Personally, I have no experience of eating magic mushrooms, but I feel certain our ancestors did.

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72 Comments on “A Fire in the Head | Shamanic Use of Amanita in Irish Mythology

  1. Pingback: The Land of the Ever Young Part Two | aliisaacstoryteller

  2. Wow! So much surprising stuff in this post, Ali. However, I’m not surprised that our ancestors believed they could contact the ‘other world’ and using magic mushrooms (as I call them) I’m sure they will have seen a lot. You must spend so much time researching all this, but I can tell how very much you enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Hugh! Trouble is, I’m getting lost in research and vomiting out too much into these posts… the last few have gotten too long. Time to rein it in a bit. But yes, I’m sure they would have used these mushrooms, they used everything else the earth supplied, and I’m sure it freed up inhibitions to allow them to experience things we no longer know how.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Have you thought about splitting posts into two parts to make them shorter and adding a link to the second part to the first part in case anybody missed it? I’ve done it on some of my short stories that I thought too long for just one post. It seemed to works well especially if you publish the second post 24 hours after the first one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I guess they’re long for blog standards, Ali. But you know me, I’d read anything you decided to post on your blog abou Irish mythology regardless of how long it was. 🙂 If you split the posts up, definitely include a link in each linking the two. I follow some blogs where the author doesn’t do that, and wordpress will not necessarily display actually related posts in the related section, so sometimes the posts are as good as lost if you are not 100% on top of reading them in sequence. And I don’t want to miss anything of yours!


  3. Fascinating and convincing argument, Ali! I wonder which comment in my head is going to win out first? 🙂 Looks like it’ll be mine. I totally agree with you, it makes far more sense that our ancient ancestors were honoring their own ancestors, not worshiping gods. I doubt those ancestors even wanted worship, or to be mistaken as gods. And that has actually been my experience…

    Odly, if you were to talk to certain modern Celtic Reconstructionists and even a few modern druids, there’s a lot of controversy over the concept of Celtic shamanism. It depends on if you’re speaking to someone who takes the term shaman to mean something broad (in which case there are also modern shamans all over the world), or else claims it is a term which describes a specific culture in a specific region and nothing else counts. I find the disagreement kind of beside the point but nonetheless it exists. Personally, it has always seemed evident to me that our Irish ancestors practiced a form of shamanism. I was trying to think back about things I did as Mairin, but have not been able to recall too much.

    I wonder how much religious practices are affected by the kind of social structure of a society–for instance, Rome and Athens were quite urban, among other things the gods and goddesses directed people in explanations for the seasons, weather patterns, the existence of creatures, the origin of the world, … and there was a marked separateness, between gods and mortals, perfection (somewhere up there) and imperfection (down here on earth), and the gods interfering with mortals could explain why many things happened. That isn’t to minimalize the role or function of Greek and Roman deities or anything, these are just conclusion sI have drawn about what their mythology is in part trying to do. The actual gods and goddesses, in whatever way they might exist, could be a totally different matter. In contrast, I doubt ancient inhabitants of Ireland needed supernatural explanations for the workings of the natural world, not in the same way. Being so close to living with and by and on the land produced an immanent, immediacy, and an understanding of interconnectedness, cycles, birth and death, inner and outer, here and there. Supernatural explanations would just be superfluous. Death would not be out there, but in here. It would not be so strange then to accept this physical world as only one world among at least two, maybe more, because transformation, like living, is a cycle. I would think that if our ancestors had any gods at all, they would be natural resources themselves–a river, for instance, or the sea. But I know they believed everything had a spirit, was sacred– animism — the sea would not have to be a god to be divine. Nor would any ancestor. The sacredness lived in everything, rather than as an outward thing to be attained or marvel at from a distance. There was no mystery about there being a mystery within everything. Magic is just like change… sometimes it is hard to trace the why of an action or an occurance, the reason never needs to be limited to a single world, or to what is visible – because the invisible is just as present – or the outward – because much is hidden. Without separateness, barriers such as above or below ground, divisions between this world and the next, don’t just disappear, they were never experienced to begin with.


  4. it makes absolute and wonderful sense!! I’ve done a lot of reading too about shamanistic cultures, dream time and piercing the veil between worlds including, years ago, the works of the controversial Carlos Castaneda (very weird guy with some great quotes!! lol) and the teachings of Don Juan( supposedly a native Mexican brujo) Fantastic post Ali!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. Well, you’re way ahead of me, then. 😁 I haven’t heard of either of them, but will Google them now. Always learning, huh?

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh yes!! Carlos Castaneda was quite a character with quite a story. Much mystery surrounding him and his group who all vanished after he died- completely. No one was ever able to find them. His books were fascinating and frightening! His quotes are brilliant. Look them up! I often quote him on my blog!


        • I don’t know enough about Carlos Castaneda either. Do you mean his group were supposedly physical humans who all vanished after he died, or were they perhaps fictitious characters that didn’t exist to begin with, or were they a group of people from the other side who were already dead and so wouldn’t be visible? I guess we won’t ever know, but do you have any knowledge of what he claimed about who they were? I’ve just never investigated it. 🙂 I do know there has been a lot of controversy about his claims that he was passing down Toltec wisdom, and whether or not his teachings were authentically traceable to that culture. In my opinion, if his ideas have value and inspire people, they would continue to do so even if he didn’t found them on anything. There is independent value in many things with interesting origins.

          Liked by 2 people

          • yes!! Although his group ended up by being a bit cultlike I’d say! His books have sold in the millions and yes his followers were real people whose families were never able to find them after his death. Remains in the desert proved to be one of them but cause of death was never determined. One of his followers believed they committed suicide similar to the Heaven’s Gate Group!! They made claims that they could travel between worlds but they did become more bizarre as time went on and shortly before Castaneda’s death. But don’t you love a mystery?!! I do!

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating, Ali, and not that surprising. Ancient cultures probably didn’t have the “drug” fears that our modern society has. Natural hallucinogenics were part of rites and rituals and my guess is they probably had a number of other uses as well in curing illnesses, bolstering courage, mourning, etc. etc. etc. These discussions always make me think about the nature of our “agreed upon” world, and whether these substances actual do heighten senses and attune someone (a shaman) to another side of the real world that we can’t see. Thanks for an intriguing read. 🙂


  6. This was thoroughly fascinating Ali and I completely agree with your theories both about ancestors and illicit foodstuffs. I may have told you that I am 5% Cherokee and they did similar things, worshiped ancestors, got high on stuff and ironically revered mentally ill people because they heard voices. I think that might be why my American family has such a strong incidence of inherited mental illness in the family. There is a hilarious theory about the Mormon faith (some of my family are Mormon). The original prophet saw a white salamander and various other odd stuff. Coincidentally, it was quite common for the rye to be infected by ergot which makes you high as a kite. I hope Carys is doing well. K x


  7. I give you full marks for posting this, Ali, without succumbing to the temptation of some sort of screaming sensationalist headline that ancient Celts were all on drugs. I’m not sure I could have resisted, myself 😉


  8. Very interesting especially the bit about St. Patrick and reference to the mushroom. Perhaps he was angry that he wasn`t included in the rituals? I have always known that shaman are completely real, and know that they do many important sometimes life threatening things, Soul retrieval as example, it must be a very scary thing to go after someone`s soul. Thanks for a great post again Ali, oh and I just remembered another old Irish saying, “Sunshine on your head.” is an old blessing that people would say to one another. Goes well with the fire in the head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does go well with the fire in the head Adele! At first you would just think it was a reference to our wet grey weather, but maybe it has far more ancient roots and refers to divine inspiration! Love it! I agree with you about shamanism. I only know a little, but it seems to be geared towards achieving higher consciousness, which is something I’ve learned a little about through Reiki, and how can that be a bad thing?

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      • indeed, I found after my first degree in Reiki that when I went outside, everything sparkled and danced I think that the more we become attuned to the frequency of our world, the more we realise our connection to everything. We can not function without all the connections and I wonder if that is what is wrong with a lot of people today.


        • I love what you said here about connection! I’m still waiting for a reiki class which I can afford and get myself to, but will learn eventually. 🙂 Incidentally, I have done several soul retrievals, most on myself from a past life, but a couple times for other people. It was very humbling and eye-opening, but it did not seem scary or dangerous to me.

          Liked by 1 person

            • I can certainly try! So in one instance, I went into a guided meditation in which I was aiming at reconciling something from the past, to deal with something in my current life. I stepped into a circle, which is where I usually then see what I need to clear. Instead I saw an ancient Iron-age round house, and recognized it as a place I used to live (in another life.) When I finally convinced myself to go in there, I saw that there was a part of me, from that past life, who was stuck there. Now I’ll have to explain. I saw what is called a soul fragment, which is any part of a person’s energetic/emotional/spiritual self which separates from the whole, often in a traumatic event, to try to preserve that aspect of the person so that some part of that person stays safe. At the time it happens, a living person might experience a dissociated moment, or simply feel lost, or hopeless, or some other powerful way. So I saw this soul fragment of who I was in that past life. I am presently an adult, with brown hair and brown eyes. I saw a seven year old girl with blue eyes, and black hair, very long, this is how I looked in that life. She was huddled against the wall of the roundhouse, very sad, she felt very abandoned, alone, rejected. I persuaded her to take my hand, I explained what year it was and how long she had been there (she was aghast by this, she had no idea of time.) I slowly convinced her to go with me back to our current, present time. I pulled her through. Then I was back in my current room and she was sitting on my bed next to me. I explained that we were one and the same person. I shared that she wouldn’t be alone or lost anymore. I held her in my arms and helped her integrate, dissolve, into me, into the person we are now. So I took a fragment of myself that had been stuck in a traumatic past life event, and integrated that person, piece of me, back into the being I am now, which made me more whole, which helped me in healing.

              Liked by 2 people

            • Thank you so much for telling me this. It makes perfect sense to me. I think I have a few fragments dotted about that need to be integrated into me now. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and they have said that I often use dissociation to cope but it`s not that, there are personalities which could be these fragments who are very real.

              Liked by 2 people

            • I’m definitely not a psychologist, but I have intuitively felt for a long time that dissociated identities could very well be soul fragments. What makes that situation different from people whose soul has fragmented but don’t have dissociated identities is that, (I am conjecturing), dissociated identities might still have some link to the overall soul of a person. It would be the spiritual difference between an identical twin and a conjoined twin. You could say the conjoined twins have just one body between them, but are obviously two real and separate people. Maybe dissociated identities are like that: they split off from the main personality, but don’t sever themselves completely for whatever reason. There’s another difference between dissociative identities and my experience, which is that the soul fragment I integrated is from a past life, but dissociated identities are from this current life. Most people have soul fragments from their current life, but usually the fragmentation is complete. Without a complete separation it might be even easier for you to integrate the fragments, I’m not sure. I’d very much recommend talking with a skilled shamanic healer who could help you in integrating and hold sacred space with you. It’s possible to do this kind of thing on your own, but if I had to work with dissociated identities I wouldn’t do it alone. Here’s a site you might want to check out: http://www.sarahpetrunoshamanism.com/ I’ve personally worked with Sarah through some more complex things I needed to heal and found her really trustworthy and authentic. At the very least you can start with her site and take the journey from there. I know you didn’t ask, but I thought it might be helpful to you.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I dont think modern medicine has all the answers, Adele. I’ve certainly learned that through my experiences with Carys. Thing is, they want a ‘one size fits all’ type of treatment, like when fixing a broken bone, for example, but when it comes to the mind, or the soul, you just can’t take that kind of approach. Xxx


            • You? Definitely not. Honestly, there were moments in that visualization when I felt scared. I never expected what happened: it was startling to face a very difficult moment far off in the past, that I understandably had forgotten. But I never questioned whether I was safe. In my opinion courage does not have much to do with never experiencing fear, people who don’t fear anything can easily be thoughtlessly reckless. Courageous people I know, like you, work with, move through fear, go take on the world anyway.😂😀


            • Well I certainly don’t feel courageous. As I’ve got older, I realise I have got more afraid of things, or else have discovered fears I wasn’t even aware I had!


            • Me too,, Ali. Maybe it just comes with growing awareness. This world can be really gnarly. I’m much younger than you, but I’ve already experienced things firsthand, or heard about what’s going on in the world and have had too many pictures, scared about stuff I wasn’t even aware I should or would be scared of. This world often feels terrifying to me, the world beyond this one doesn’t scare me, it feels like home, a home that will only be mine again in some distant future and I’m fine with that: though I still get homesick! There’s a lot to enjoy and be grateful for and love about living here. One of the harder things I am learning right now is how to stay feeling safe out in this world, with all the uncertainties. I keep getting better at it. There is more and more to experience and grow into, and I’m just doing it, even when I get scared. What gets me through is that I am not alone and I have complete trust in the people I walk this journey with. And it still is at times really gnarly. That might be humanness in general which we can’t avoid. Not needing to always know why helps me. Not looking outside myself for the most important turns in living helps me. Having people from the other world who won’t judge me and can hold all the pieces, the ones now whole and the broken ones, leaves me grateful every day. Redefining my definition of safe is taking some time, it’s been involving having a vaster conception of who the I is who is walking through the world in the first place. But when I can do it, I can, for seconds at a time, stay calm in the middle of storms (you know, figurative life ones.) Except that doesn’t prevent me from being scared. Sometimes I worry that I am always always scared. 🙂 For a long time I thought that made me a weak person, but Ailbhe and the others have consistently insisted otherwise and at some point, though I still don’t always feel deserving of that point of view, I had to believe them.


  9. As someone who is exploring her Irish ancestry as well as learning shamanism from a teacher, this is a fascinating post. I, too, love the detail and research. Thank you so much for posting such an intriguing theory.


  10. This is a great post. I like your theory about worshipping ancestors. It makes more sense than worshipping multiple gods and goddesses. Thank you for sharing all your research. I constantly amazed by all the hard work that goes into each one of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tricia! The blog initially started out as a place to pour my unused research for my books, but has taken on a life of its own, as blogs often do, and has now become a place to share all the things about Irish myth that intrigue me. I’m glad that other people find Irish myth as fascinating as I do. Its such an insight into the minds and lives of our ancestors. But it does take a long time to put one of these posts together… which is probably a good thing as I’d be vomiting dribble all over the blog and never getting any other writing done! 😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Tricia! I love researching, but can get too involved in it, and don’t know when to stop… it does eat up valuable writing time!


  11. Fascinating post. It’s wonderful to read myths with this kind of modern knowledge and think ‘maybe that’s what it was all about’. I’ve got some modern day druids in my books and you’ve just prompted some very interesting ideas about trances, hallucinogens and shamanic rituals. Thank you


  12. Very interesting about Amanita. The Psilocybin mushroom that grows in cow dung across the southern US was popular with the hippies. Easily identified by it’s umbrella shape and the fact that if you scratch it, it bleeds purple juice. As a small child, I had a chance encounter with it around age seven when my grandmother sent me and an old woman who worked her farm off to dig worms to go fishing. I ate some and nearly passed out. She put me in the hay loft and I was hallucinating. A cat was sitting on a post across the room but seemed like he was right beside my head and he looked bigger than a lion as he waved his paw over my face with his twelve foot long arm. She kept me hidden until the effects wore off hours later. She was scared to death she was going to be in trouble. I recall Kate holding me in her arms and telling my grandmother she found me in the barn asleep and she thought I had a fever and the flu. They brought me inside and covered my chest with mustard plasters and made me take all sorts of nasty medicine. I was probably lucky I survived at that age.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Michele! I do, I love researching. I try and make a note of anything that particularly interests me, as I know I’ll forget, and never be able to find it again. The last few topics have led to some long posts though. I need to cut back a bit I think. It probably puts some people off. 😊

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      • I enjoyed reading it, but I can see that such a long post might deter some from reading. With so many blogs to visit, it is hard to read everything. I try to divide my posts so that people can decide what they want to read – blurb, review, about the author. I can see that would be more difficult with your subject matter. Hugs.

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  13. Very cool theories. Amanitas are some of the most deadly mushrooms on Earth. A few of them are hallucinogenic, but most are certain death. Most of them are very photogenic though. Take pictures and leave them alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think you’re onto something there, Ali. One thing that strikes me about Irish stories/history is the lack of gods. There’s loads of simple magic and an awful lot of super human exploits, but no many instances of gods intervening with thunderbolts or plagues of locusts. You had to really get up Manannán’s nose before he would send a wave or a warrior after you, and the lines between fairy folk/immortals/gods/heroes, like the line between life and death, were really very blurred. It seems from the little that I’ve read to have been a culture based on very human attributes, with magic just helping out.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Absolutely! I completely agree with that. I’ve always wondered about the lack of interference by gods; there is a lot of interaction between the Sidhe and mankind, and the Danann existed in Ireland on the same terms as humans, not as Gods. Its very interesting. There are certain individuals that we seem to know nothing about but their names; Danu, for example. Its assumed she’s a mother Goddess, but where is the evidence to back that up? I’ve not found one story about her yet, if that’s the case. And Necton. He owned the well of knowledge, but then so did Manannán. Are they the same person? Can’t find anything out about him. And so on. You could say that Manannán exhibited some God-like features, but actually, he’s more like a king of the Sidhe, although he wasn’t one of them. So who was he? Sigh. So many questions that can never be answered. 😊😀😁


      • If the gods, if the Irish even believed in supreme beings, are hardly ever mentioned in the stories, that makes me think that they weren’t very important. Not nearly as important as the Sidhe and the mortal heroes. They certainly didn’t live in terror of omnipotent beings with thunderbolts and a nasty sense of humour.

        Liked by 1 person

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