Beyond the Ninth Wave


A Study Group for Those on a Druidic Path

Aine
copyright© Howard D. Johnson

Aine

Her name means 'Brightness', 'Delight'.  She is the Goddess of Healing, The Spark of Life, Vitality, Fertility, Protection, Prosperity. Her sisters are Grian (The Sun Goddess and Aoife. Her father is Manannan mac Lir and her Foster-Father Eoghanach, the faerie king of Munster. As Bean Sidhe,  she wails to presage the death of family members at Alt na Sion (Vale of Storms).

Due to Áine's connection with midsummer rites, it is possible that Áine and Grian (both claimed as daughters of Manannan) may share a dual-goddess, seasonal function (such as seen in the Gaelic myths of the Cailleach and Brighid) with the two sisters representing the "two suns" of the year: Áine representing the light half of the year and the bright summer sun (an ghrian mhór), and Grian the dark half of the year and the pale winter sun (an ghrian bheag).

 In early tales she is associated with the semi-mythological, King of Munster, Ailill Aulom, who is said to have "ravished" her, an affair ending in Áine biting off his ear - hence "Aulom", meaning "one-eared". By maiming him this way, Áine rendered him unfit to be King, thereby taking away the power of sovereignty.

In other tales Áine is the wife of Gearoid Iarla.. Rather than having a consensual marriage, he rapes her (thought to be based on the story of Ailill Aulom), and she exacts her revenge by either changing him into a goose, killing him, or both. In yet other versions of her myth, she is the wife or daughter of the sea god Manannan mac Lir.  The feast of Midsummer was held in her honor. In County Limerick, she is remembered in more recent times as Queen of the Faerie.

No bloodletting was undertaken on days associated with Áine as it was believed that the vital spark would flow away and leave the patient dead. The Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Lughnasadh Day (Aug 1st) were sacred to her.

Aine was a goddess of love, growth, crops, cattle, fire and the sun; and was worshipped for her power to bestow fertility, abundance and prosperity. She is credited for giving meadowseet its delicate scent.