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The heART of Ritual


Blúiríní Béaloidis 08 - Wind & Storms In Folk Tradition

Owing to their impact on human affairs, weather occurrences of all sorts were a source of preoccupation for our forebears, who would look to the natural world around in the hope of interpreting and predicting these climactic manifestations. Explanations given to account for sudden gusts of wind and storms in many instances made reference to supernatural forces; to the powers of the fairies, of witches, wizards, the clergy and even freemasons.

In this edition of Blúiríní Béaloidis, hosts Jonny Dillon and Claire Doohan explore traditional beliefs regarding wind and storms in folk tradition; from the varying methods utilised by sailors in order to raise and control the wind to aid them on their journeys, to those curses and magical practices used by witches to bring revenge to against those who had wronged them, and the historic accounts in which such attacks were attributed to particular individuals.

From storm-inducting stone effigies to magical basins of water, join Claire and Jonny as they invoke the powers of the air!

Resources of Interest: An example of a 'Furl Blast' or 'Fairy Wind' of the sort which would come rushing through harvest fields, sending newly harvested crops high into the air:

Sailors purchasing knotted ropes with which they might raise wind. Woodcut from Olaus Magnus' 'Description of the Northern Peoples' (1555):…_the_Finns.jpg

'The Ship Sinking Witch', woodcut from Olaus Magnus' 'Description of the Northern Peoples' (1555):…d_in_Magic.jpg

Ranulf Higden's Polychronicon (1387):

Oíche Nollaig Na mBan (The Night of Women's Christmas) - Seán Ó Riordáin

Bhí fuinneamh sa stoirm a éalaigh aréir. Aréir oíche Nollaig na mBan, As gealt-teach iargúlta 'tá laistiar den ré Is do scréach tríd an spéir chughainn 'na gealt Gur ghíosc geataí comharsan mar ghogallach gé, Gur bhúir abhainn slaghdánach mar tharbh, Gur mhúchadh mo choinneal mar bhuille ar mo bhéal A las 'na splanc obann an fhearg Ba mhaith liom go dtiocfadh an stoirm sin féin An oíche go mbeadsa go lag Ag filleadh abhaile ó rince an tsaoil Is solas an pheaca ag dul as, Go líonfaí gach neomat le liúirigh ón spéir, Go ndéanfaí den domhan scuaine scread, Is ná cloisfinn an ciúnas ag gluaiseacht fám dhéin, Ná inneall an ghluaisteáin ag stad.

(English Translation) There was power in the storm that escaped last night, last night on Women’s Christmas, from the desolate madhouse behind the moon and screamed through the sky at us, lunatic, making neighbours’ gates screech like geese and the hoarse river roar like a bull, quenching my candle like a blow to the mouth that sparks a quick flash of rage. I’d like if that storm would come again, a night I’d be feeling weak coming home from the dance of life and the light of sin dwindling, that every moment be full of the screaming sky, that the world be a storm of screams, and I wouldn’t hear the silence coming over me, the car’s engine come to a stop.


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