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Monday, April 16, 2012

Flidais Foltchaoin

    Flidais is one of the more enigmatic and intriguing of the Irish deities. References to her in mythology are few and lack detail, yet there seems to be something deep and compelling about her. There is some debate about whether she is a historic deity or a literary creation of the later period, although it may be that her shifting charcter reflects euhumerization of the goddess into a human literary character, rather than a purely literary creation.
     Her name may mean "wet one" and she is especially associated with milk and milking; her epithet is foltchaoin "soft haired" (O'hOgain, 2006). Her husband was Adammair in one source and her son Nia Segamain (Leahy, 1906). In the Lebor Gabala Erenn her children are listed as Arden, Be Chuille, Dinand, and Be Teite and the Metrical Dindeshenchas list her as the mother of Fand (Macalister, 1941; Gwynne, 1906). In the Driving of the Cattle of Flidais she appears as a mortal character, the lover of Fergus mac Rog and wife of Ailill Finn (Leabor na h-Uidre, nd).
    In the Lebor Gabala Erenn Flidais is said to be the owner of magical cattle, and two of her children, Be Chuille and Dinand, are referred to as "she-farmers" connecting them to the produce of the earth, with another, Nia Segamain, mentioned in relation to her cattle (Macalister, 1941; Leahy, 1906). She was said to also have a herd of deer that gave milk like cows, and her herd was made up of both deer and cows (Keating, 1857). Monaghan suggests that her name means "doe" and sees parallels between Flidias and continental goddesses like Arto, Artemis, and Diana (Monaghan, 2004). She is associated with both domestic cattle and deer, and all animals are said to be her "cattle" (O hOgain, 2006). During the Tain Bo Cuiligne she supplied milk from her herd once a week that fed the entire army of Connacht, and in the Driving of the Herd of Flidais she was said to have one cow that could feed 300 men from one milking (Leabar na h-Uidre, nd). In this story as well we learn of Flidais's sexual prowess as she alone could satisfy her lover Fergus; without her it would take 7 women to do the same (O'hOgain, 2006).
     In the Banshenchus she is also connected to negative aspects, specifically fighting and destruction of men. It says: "Flidais....Though slender she destroyed young men. She decreed hard close fighting." (Banshenchus, nd). Although this is the only such reference, in the Driving of the Herd of Flidais she is the source of the conflict so perhaps this reflects and aspect of her that can incite violence.
     Modern Celtic pagans often associate Flidais with the woodlands and with wild animals, although in mythology she is equally connected to domestic animals. Deer and cattle are her special animals in mythology and could be used to represent her; offerings of milk would seem to be appropriate. Her nature in mythology seems to be both motherly, with her many children and connection to milk and milking, and also sensual in her role as the lover of Fergus. She also is clearly a deity of abundance and sustinence, who provides for all who rely on her. She has strong associations to sexuality that give an added depth to her nature; she is both domestic and wild, maternal and sexual.
    There is at least one reference to Flidais as a healer; in the Driving of the Herd of Flidais it is said that she tended to and healed the men wounded in battle (Leabhar na h-Uidre, nd). Interestingly this may relate to a more modern folk charm against posion that calls on "Fleithas", a name similar to the modern Irish for Flidias - Fliodhais. This charm refers to the hounds of Fliethas, as well as the three daughters of Fleithas (Wilde, 1991). These are possibly connections to the Irish goddess Flidais and certianly the charm can easily be modified to call on her. Below I am including the version I use from Lady Wilde's book Irish Cures, Mystic Charms & Superstitions with the possible modifications in paranthesis.

A Very Ancient Charm Against Wounds or Poisons:
             “The poison of a serpent, the venom of the dog,
               The sharpness of spear, does not do well in man.
               The blood of one dog, the blood of many dogs,
               The blood of the hound of Fliethas (Flidais)– these I invoke.
It is not a wart to which my spittle is applied.
I strike disease; I strike wounds.
I strike the disease of the dog that bites,
Of the thorn that wounds
Of the iron that strikes.
I invoke the three daughters of Fleithas (Flidais)
Against the serpent
Benediction on this body to be healed;
Benediction on the spittle;
Benediction on him who casts out disease.”

References

Keating, G., (1857)  Foras Feasa ar Éirinn
Leabhar na h-Uidre (nd) Retrieved from http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/flidais.html
O'hOgain, (2006) The Lore of Ireland
MacAlister. R. (1941) Lebor Gabala Erenn
 Leahy, A., (1906), Heroic Romances of Ireland
Gwynne E., (1906), The Metrical Dindshenchas
Monaghan (2004). Encyclopedia of Celtic Myth and Folklore
Wilde (1991). Irish Cures, Mystic Charms & Superstitions
Banshenchus (nd) Retrieved from http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/banshenchus.html

10 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you were able to pull this together, it's good to see real information on Her.

    The spell is interesting, given what I'm rewriting at the moment...hmmm

    ~;)

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    1. This was a challenging one, but kind of fun. I'm really pleased with how it came out.
      It *is* an interesting spell, isn't it?

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  2. Wow this is great and I to love how much information you have about here. I just joined your blog, and I have a website that I would like to share this with my members. If I acceredit your blog and give a link to it. Would you mind?

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    1. As long as you credit me and provide a link, sure. Glad you liked it : )

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    2. Done and Done thanks so much! It is something our administration always does on our site. If we retrieve info from another place we leave a link and if we have some kind of name of the person to accredit it to we add that as well. This way we show credit where it is due and hopefully help out the person who was kind enough to share their knowledge with others. As well our members get a diverse and rather eclectic insight into other paths, and a list of blogs, and other sites that might be helpful to them. So it is a win, win result. You can't ask for better then that!

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  3. How do you pronounce her name? It shows different ways of phoenitically pronouncing it but I'm unsure which is correct?

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  4. Flidais - Flih-deesh is how I say it. The modern Irish Fliodhais would be closer to Flih-eesh I think. I'm sure there are variations with no one exact correct version.

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  5. I was absolutely drawn to her the first time I laid eyes upon her. Although I have not yet been blessed by the vision of Flidais , nor have I tried to summon her. However, I am most definitely connected to her both spiritually and emotionally and feel her presence often. Especially when I am outside giving thanks and appreciation for being so blessed with having beautiful mountains, deer and many other woodland habitats right out my back door.

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  6. Thank you SO much for citing your sources! It's difficult enough dealing with all the questionable information on the Internet, but dealing with Internet information on mythology which is historically convoluted and still growing and changing...well, it's nice to have the firm footing.

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  7. My grandma pron. "Flee-ish" and I've decided to call the little stray cat I've taken in Flidais as she is a remarkable huntress, and adores milk, and is very loving and tactile. 🐈

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