Saturday, 20 June 2015

Midsummer fires across the land.

As the Midsummer sun bathes the land, Áine's heat brings a mantle of green to the countryside. Walking along the dusty lane the scent of honeysuckle, wild rose and sweet pea wafts from the hedgerows.
© Jane Brideson
Meadowsweet, which folklore explains was given its' scent by the goddess Áine, will soon add to this heady perfume.
A haze lies across the distant mountains and the field margins glow with ox-eye daisies and celandine.
© Jane Brideson
A languor seems to permeate the countryside and the song of the river is almost silent.

In contrast to the brightness of the day, the fairy mounds nearby are shadowed in the deepest green
as the Good People await Midsummer. 
© Jane Brideson
Then, in the twilight, from each province of Ireland it is believed, they will stream towards Áine's
home on Knockainey, Cnoc Áine, each carrying a lighted torch, a wisp or cliar, to honour the goddess.


Visit the homeplace of Áine at Voices from the Dawn

The goddess Áine herself has been seen leading the procession upon her hill and whilst the Otherworldly ones carry their torches human residents traditionally lit bonfires on St. John's Eve.

All across Ireland communal fires would be lit by local people with the high point of summer celebrated by music, song and jumping the bonfire.
Women leapt the flames to procure a good marriage and those who were pregnant, did so to ensure an easy delivery. As couples jumped together the outcome of their relationship could be foretold from the flickering of the flames.
The ashes from these bonfires were later scattered on the crops to ensure a bountiful harvest.

Small family fires were lit to protect the household and in many areas it was customary to bring back
an ember or charred wood from the communal fire and put it on the hearth.
Ashes were also kept for luck, as a cure for various ailments or to bring a peaceful death to the elderly.

Fire on the hearth © Jane Brideson
As the light fades into twilight here our small fire will be lit in the garden to honour Áine,
whose brightness and radiance ripens the crops and blesses the harvest.

Midsummer fire at home © Jane Brideson.

'Midsummer -Áine agus Grian' by Gaol Naofa