An Creideamh S in the Heart of Cascadia

An Creideamh Sí ~ The Ancestral Folk Tradition


Irish scholar Seán O'Duinn gives the name Creideamh Sí, commonly translated as 'faery faith,' which I translate as 'sacred relations with the Aos Sí,' to the indigenous folk tradition practiced by our Gaelic Ancestors of Ireland and Scotland.  The Creideamh Sí revolves around leaving offerings at sacred places for the Aos Sí, who are the Immortals of the Sacred Hills, on the Feisean, feast days, in acknowledgment for the ith agus blicht, 'corn (grain) and milk' they provide us as sustenance.  It also includes our prayers and offerings to the rising sun and new crescent moon, remembrance of our ancestors, and the annual renewing of the bond with our Land Goddess, the Sovereignty of the land.   

Living an Creideamh Sí is a daily lifestyle in which spiritual and practical activities blend together in a seamless flow.  The practical informs the mythic, while the mythic gives meaning to the practical.  A holistic worldview is the lens through which the Tradition view our lives, our places, and our obligations within our realm.  

Each morning I welcome and commune with Sun through offered ancestral prayer, and I welcome and commune with Moon at each return of Her new crescent with prayers and libations to bless my people through Her cycle.  Once each year, at Bealtaine, I renew my bonds with the Land Goddess, in honor of all She provides from Her bounty.  I vow again to honor and cherish Her as I leave offerings of flowers, cakes and libations in a special place at the local river.

Seasonally I commune with and offer to the Aos Sí, typically of grain, fruit, cheese, butter, milk, ale, or spirits, at the sacred times.  A special shrine is set up with images of the Aos Sí or items representing them, as well as tokens of relevance, and receptacles for receiving offerings. I maintain relationships of reciprocity based on hospitality with the Aos Sí, because they provide my family with food and protection, so I in turn repay their gifts with regular offerings.  This relationship is taught to us by the Landholder's Pact in the Gaelic tale In Gabail tSida, in which the Túatha Dé Danann, the literary name of the Aos Sí, agree to provide for the incoming Gaels when they themselves have been properly honored with tribute and offerings of remembrance.  Folklore also tells us that the Aos Sí might also gift us with songs, the second sight, prophesy, musical or healing abilities, stories, and ancestral recollections, as they've done in the past.  They nourish us in many ways.

Remembering our collective Ancestors secures our link in the great chain of relations from long ago way out into the unseen future.  We will always have a place of belonging in this chain, a way to secure blessings and protection.   I maintain an Ancestor Shrine along a western wall in remembrance of the Blessed Isles of the Otherworld out into the western sea, on which photographs of our family Ancestors are placed, along with ancestral icons and mementos.  It is here that the Ancestors receive our offerings of flowers, candles, ale, spirits, family meals, sweets, or anything else an Ancestor was known to enjoy while living.  When we remember our Ancestors with offerings, they in turn remember us with their blessings and protection.  This is done with the understanding that one day it will be ourselves who will be receiving offerings of remembrance, to in turn extend our blessings and protection upon our loved ones of Thisworld.  The cycle will come full circle and the chain will remain unbroken.

Traditionally, offerings are collectively made to them all at Samhain, at the Feis na Marbh, Feast of the Dead.  Additionally, offerings may be given on Ancestors' birthdays, death-days or civil holidays in remembrance, akin to leaving flowers at a grave site.  We bless those who have crossed the veil with the saying, 'Peace to your soul, and a stone on your cairn,' or in Gaelic, 'Sìth do d'annam is Clach air do Chàrn.'  This comes from the tradition of erecting cairns, or piles of stones, along a funerary route in the Highlands of Scotland.  Cairns are also used to mark grave sites, such as the legendary Grave of Queen Mébh on the peak of Cnoc na Rí (Knocknaree) in Ireland.  In the past I have kept a small cairn in our yard as a memorial to our ancestors at which I'd leave them offerings and libations, in addition to the Ancestor Shrine in the house.

I maintain a shrine beneath our native elder tree for honoring and leaving offerings to the Fae folk of our land.  Such offerings might include cakes, milk, honey, flowers, fruits ciders, juices, or ales.  This is done to make and maintain peace with the land and many nations of peoples, which secures good relations with Them.  I learn about my land's flora and fauna, relating them to what folklore tells us of them; so regional salmon remind me of the Salmon of Knowledge for example, which helps me to forge a strong link between place and culture.  Learning how the Native peoples of these lands lived with the local plants and animal nations also helps me foster deep ties to the land, as does learning indigenous stories about local landmarks and natural features. 

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