The Witches Throne is a huge kebstone carved with armrests at the base of cairn T at the highest point of Loughcrew. It measures 3 m (10 ft) across, and 1.8 m (6 ft) high, and is estimated to weigh in the region of 10 tons. From here, according to local legend, a giant witch known as the cailleach sat and surveyed the extent of her domain. If you are brave enough to sit in her seat, she may grant you a single wish!
Ancient pagan religions were matriarchal; they believed in the Goddess and Mother Earth, and venerated the ability of the female to bring forth life.
The year was counted by lunar cycles, unlike today’s Gregorian calendar, of which there were thirteen, and also thirteen menstrual cycles in a year. As the priests of the new religion, Christianity, tried to wrest control from the pagans, they suppressed the power of the female; fertility and the sexual act was seen as unclean. Where childbirth was once seen as joyous and miraculous, the new religion considered the new mother unclean and she was not allowed into the church until she had been ritually purified forty days later. I’m pretty sure the thirteen menstrual cycles were seen as unclean, as well!
Why not spend the night at Ross Castle, one of Ireland’s most haunted castles this Halloween… if you’re brave enough! Not only does Ross Castle have ghosts, it has a fascinating and mysterious history. Go on… I dare you!
The evidence for women poets in ancient Ireland is fragmentary, to say the least, but it exists. Resistance seems to stem more from modern prejudice concerning gender norms projected onto the past by current scholars and archaeologists, according to feminist archaeology.
If you are planning your visit to Ireland, I highly recommend one of Treasa’s Walking Tours of Tara. They take about two hours, and must be pre-booked, as there are only thirty places available on each tour. Be dressed for inclement weather… this is Ireland, after all!
The Split Rock is a giant boulder thought to have been carried down the slopes of the Ox Mountains and dumped in its current position by glaciers. But of course what really happened is it was thrown by the hand of that mighty legendary hero of Ireland, Fionn mac Cumhall.
One of the four ancient Irish pre-Christian festivals, Lughnasadh was celebrated on the night of the full moon midway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox, around August 1st. But was it a celebration of thanksgiving for the harvest, or a remnant of some ancient fertility rite, or a monument to love?
Jesus and Mary weren’t the first; throughout history, exceptional men around the world were said to have been born of virgin mothers. It’s still going on today: forty five women claimed to be virgin mothers in the US in recent years. And of course, Irish mythology is as rife with tales of virgin births as it is with stories of sex, violence, and tragic romance.