This year the fall equinox occurs on September 22. In the Pagan calendar it is a time for giving thanks called Mabon. Mabon celebrates the end of the harvest season and is a time to honor our wild nature and nature spirits. It is a day of perfect balance when the hours of daylight and darkness are equal. Mabon ushers in our journey into the dark night of winter.
Flidais (pronounced flee-ish) is a complex Celtic Goddess with many differing stories and aspects. She represents both our domestic and our wild natures and is an appropriate Goddess to call on on this day of balance. She first appears in the ancient mythological cycles as an Earth Mother. She was the mother of the Irish cultivator heroes, Arden, and Bé Téite and the “she-farmers” Bé Chuille and Dinand. From Her they gained the power to cultivate and work the earth for the community.
She is considered a woodland Goddess by modern Celtic pagans. As Lady of the Forest she protects wild fauna and flora. But in mythology she is equally connected to both wild and domestic animals. In particular deer and cattle are Her sacred animals, both of whom she milks. She Herself called all the wild animals “her cattle.”
Through Her many children Her aspect as a Mother Earth Goddess is seen. By Her strong association with milk and milking she can clearly be seen as a Goddess of Abundance. During the Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cúailnge) her magical herd of cattle supplied milk for the entire army every seven days.
In addition to her Earth Goddess aspect of nurturing and providing abundance, Flidais was said to be a shape-shifter, a Goddess of Sexuality, and a Healing Goddess. She was part of the Tuatha Dé Danaan. (“peoples of the goddess Danu”) – believed to come from the pre-Christian deities of Ireland. Similar to the Welsh Mabinogion, the Irish Ulster Cycles were first put into written form in the medieval period. In this Medieval cycle the “ Tuatha Dé” were morphed from ancient Goddesses and Gods into mortal queens, kings, and heroes..
She is often called Flidais Foltchaoin – Flidais the “Soft-haired” or “Fair- haired”. Some scholars believe that Her name means “wet one” whereas Monaghan feels that her name means “doe” and that she is closely associated with Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt. And some scholars discount Her completely, accusing Her of being only a literary creation of the 10th and 11th centuries.
Various stories exist about her loves and marriages. In the Middle Irish glossary “Fitness of Names” she is said to be the wife of the legendary High King Adamair and the mother of Nia Segamain by Adamair. She shared her power and love of animals with her son. She gave Nia Segamain the “Faery power” and he too was able to milk the cattle (deers and cows) creating great wealth and abundance. Yet another tale, the Metrical Dindshenchas, says she was the mother of Fand, Celtic Sea Goddess.
In the Ulster Cycle”The Driving off of Flidais’s Cattle” she appears as a main and yet mortal character. Here we see the combination of her aspect of Goddess of Sensuality and Earth Mother/Lady of the Forest. Flidais was married to Ailill Finn but infatuated with and strongly drawn to Fergus mac Rog. She had heard tales of Fergus mac Rog’s prowess and let it be known that if he would take her from her husband she would put Her herd of deer and cattle at his disposal. She proved true to Her word. During “The Driving off of Flidais’s Cattle” one of her cows was able to feed 300 men from just one milking. In this story we also learn of Her sexual artistry. Only She could fully satisfy her lover, Fergus. Without Her he needed seven women.
As an Earth Goddess, Flidais is associated with the colors brown and green. The deer is her sacred animal. There is disagreement among scholars over her position as Our Lady of the Forest, yet some believe that she rode in a chariot drawn by Her sacred deer. Trees are also sacred to Flidais as she serves as the protector of the trees and the animals of the forest. She is seen as the protector of the poor and the outcast who called on her when they were in need of safe harbor.
Call on Flidais when you feel out of balance, as she represents the eternal cycles of growth and rebirth. She embodies both our domestic and wild natures, helping us find that balance within ourselves. She can help us touch the deepest, wild parts of our own sexuality, relieving any guilt that civilization has created. Flidais also returns us to our own sense of empowerment. She claims the right to give Her powers of nurturing, abundance, and sensuality to whomever she chooses. Through Her role as a shape-shifter, She helps us shift the shape of our lives. She opens our eyes to a new light, releasing us into abundance and creativity. May you feel the depth of Her love for Her “cattle” deep in your heart.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flidais, http://celticcrossroad.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=thegods&action=display&thread=16, http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2012/04/flidais-foltchaoin.html, http://cr-r.livejournal.com/252897.html, http://www.shee-eire.com/Magic&Mythology/Gods&Goddess/Celtic/Goddess/Flidais/Page1.htm, http://www.pagannews.com/cgi-bin/gods3.pl?Flidais
Update – Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is ready for publication. Pre-order your deck at her crowdfunding campaign with Indiegogo -9.19.17 – 10.19.17 – and help bring the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses into the world.
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her artwork. She continues to be inspired by the Divine Feminine in all of Her manifestations. Originally from New Orleans, Judith now makes her home in New Mexico where she paints and teachs part-time. She is currently hard at work on a deck of Goddess cards. Her work, which expresses her belief in the interconnectedness of all life, can be seen on her website at http://judithshawart.com