Beyond the Ninth Wave


A Study Group for Women on a Druidic Path

Ninth Wave

Tlachtga

Hill of WardThis is the story of Tlachtga.  Her name means “earth spear.” Her story gives us the name for a famous place in Ireland where to this day the rites of Samhain are held in her honor.  This location is called the Hill of Ward and it is near Tara.  At this gathering Druids would light bonfires on the New Year.  They considered this location to be the place where this world and the Otherworld were the closest together.

Tlachtga is mentioned in two pieces of Irish literature, the banshenchas, “the Lore of Women” and in the dindsenchas, “the Lore of Places.”  In translations by Christian monks, her story has been confused with biblical characters.  However, the following appears to be more in keeping with Celtic history.

It was told that she was the daughter of Mog Roith who was a powerful Druid. The name Mog Roith means "devoted of the wheel," and we can assume that the wheel referred to here, as well as the wheel that Tlachtga makes, is the sun. From this we believe that the Samhain fires held on her hill were a way of recapturing the sun's light in the New Year.  This was a way of keeping the light even against the growing darkness of winter. Also included in the imagery in the poem below is a pillar. The "pillar" represents lightning and which explains the name "earth spear."  Lightning was a spear thrown at the earth. From this we claim Tlachtga not only goddess of the sun, but of lightning and storms as well.

 

Tlachtga Hills, splendid and wide,
Foreboding doom to a good, unswerving King.
Before the step Tlachtga …… took,
The daughter of Mogh Ruith, son of Fergus Fal,
Kingly and noble son of Rosse.

Cacht, daughter of quarrelling Catmend
His colourful mother.
Roth, son of Rigol was his fosterer.
Thus his name 'Mogh Ruith' is born.
Two sons of Mogh, Buan and Fercorb,
Successful over armies in liberation.
Cacht is the foster mother of son of Der Droichen,
Dark, strong and seen.
The mother of Cairpre…….Lifechair.
Certain that deceit of Hui Bairdne.

Daughter of Mogh hosted with many,
Tlachtga, chosen -- not in agreement --
To accompany her father.
To Simon Magnus of 7-fold story.
Three sons had Magnus - nice to look upon.
Sadly her struggle with their deceit.
Several lines of text are missing here!
Strong, powerful ……………………

Theirs was a powerful alliance.
Family of passion and alliance.
Passion flowed toward Tlachtga
Into her body forcefully they came
No lie that descendants were made
Of beauty and lineage.

For Trian - no honour -Tlachtga
Created the red mobile wheel,
With the great Mogh, and Simon she brought
Her wisdom, thus leaving the moving wheel.
Finished stone of Forcarthus she left and pillar of Cnamchaill.
Whoever sees it becomes blind.
Whoever hears it becomes deaf.
Anyone taking from the wheel will die.
[Missing lines in text…]

After the woman came from the east,
She gave birth to 3 sons in hard labour.
She died, the light & wise one.
This urgent unconceivable news was to be heard by all.

The son's names were of great import…
Muach and Cumma and Doirb
Others [text missing again]
As long as Banba remembers the names of the
Three sons as the truthful story tells ………….
No catastrophe will befall its inhabitants.
The hill where Tlachtga is buried,
Surpasses all other women,
Remember the name it was given..
The Hill of Tlachtga.

Irish Manuscript Text
Translated by S. Geoghegan.