Nature Spirits and the Allies

The earliest form of our grove's cosmology referred to the Nature Spirits as the "Sidhe" (pronounced SHEE). This usage was passed to us as a part of our inherited tradition from ADF. This practice, it turns out, was creating a problem, but it took some time for us to become attuned enough to the voices of the spirits to know of it.

One Spring Equinox the "Sidhe" took the opportunity to notify us of their displeasure during the reading of the omen. They spoke of anger, in fact, downright hostility. We had expected some level of unhappiness from the Nature Spirits due to the general state of the environment but this seemed to be a greater conflict. An Bruane met and resolved to find the source of the problem.

We started by looking into the term "sidhe". It is an Irish Gaelic word that refers to burial mounds or hills. This term came into use during the decline of the old Pagan gods of Ireland. Tradition has it that the coming of the Christians, represented in the tales as the sons of Mil, brought about the defeat and relegation of the old gods to live under the ground in ancient burial chambers. Over time these gods survived in folk memory as the fairy people or "the sidhe".

As the seasons passed those spirits that we had referred to as the sidhe continued to speak to us in angry tones. Through meditative work with them we came to realize that they were actually two different sets of entities, the spirits of nature and the entities that had once been worshipped in this place by our predecessors, the Native Americans. We realized that, through the use of the term "sidhe", we had relegated these entities to a diminished role in our cosmology.

But what were we to do with these entities? They are not our gods so we didn't feel that they should be added to our tribal pantheon. Again, we returned to the wisdom of our ancestors preserved in the mythological tales for an answer.

In a text called "The Book of Invasions" the answer was found. The tale tells of the coming of the Celtic gods, the Tuatha de Danann, to Ireland. When they arrived they found that the island had already been settled by a race of gods known as the Fir Bolg. A great conflict arose between these people, resulting in the first battle of Magh Tuiredh. Finally the two forces decided to resolve their differences through treaty and agreed to divide Ireland and rule together. This is, by the way, exactly the same tale as the conflict recorded in Norse mythology between an elder race of gods, the Vanir, and the invading Aesir.

Applying what we had learned to our own situation we realized that our actions had only added insult to injury. The coming of our people to this continent was far more destructive to the natives and their gods than that earlier invasion of Ireland. In the years that passed between these two historical events much had changed in the nature of warfare. What had once been a contest of skill, honor and courage among respected rivals become out and out genocide in later times. In that ancient conflict the bards of the combatants composed ballads of praise of the heroic feats of the other side while the warriors and armorers offered to trade and repair weapons across the battle lines at night.

From that point on we no longer used the term sidhe to represent either the Nature Spirits or the Native American gods. We began referring to the old gods "the allies" and, in the spirit of treaty, we have added an invitation for the allies to join us in our rituals. They are not worshipped in our rites, but are honored and welcomed to share in our revels.

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Rob Henderson, SLG Webmaster

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