Boann, Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Fertility, Inspiration, Knowledge and Creativity was one of the Tuatha De Danann (People of Danu). She was associated with the 70 mile long river Boyne in Northeast Ireland and its source, the Well of Segais. Some bards say that long, long ago when the world was young and wild places were everywhere, Boann initiated that spring by walking counter-clockwise around stones found there, causing the water from under the earth to spring forth with great strength and rush down to the sea. The pool formed by the spring was encircled by nine sacred hazelnut trees, whose nuts could impart knowledge when eaten. The salmon of wisdom swam in the waters of this hidden pool from which the river Boyne flows.
Other sources recount the creation of the river Boyne a little differently. In this version, Boann goes to the source of all knowledge at the Well of Segais. While she was walking around it counter-clockwise, the waters rose up and forcefully pursued her to the sea. She was turned into a salmon during this event, becoming the salmon of wisdom herself and the Goddess of the new River Boyne. She released the waters for all people, becoming the mother of many of the world’s important rivers.
She was also known as “White Cow.” Cows were sacred and associated with water in many ancient cultures. In the eyes of the ancients, both milk and water, the substances of life, flowed from the breast of the Goddess. In addition to being associated with rivers, some scholars connect Boann with the heavens. The Milky Way is also called the “Way of the White Cow.” Boann, as “White Cow” thus either becomes or rules over the river of heaven, the Milky way.
Boann’s husband changes from text to text. Some pair her with the water God Nechtan, and others with the mortal, Elemar, who guards the Brugh. Some scholars believe that Nechtan and the Dagda were the same being. But all accounts agree that She was the consort of the Dagda, leader of the Tuatha De Danann, God of the Earth, All Father. While her husband was away she lay with the Dagda and conceived Aengus. To conceal her pregnancy from her husband she (or the Dagda by some accounts) caused time to stop, making nine months appear as one day. Aengus, who became the God of Youth and Poetry by his birthright, was then given to his half-brother, Midhr, to raise. Aengus later married Caer Ibormeith in the romantic tale in which they both turned into swans and flew away to live forever at Brug na Bóinne.
Boann lived at Brug na Bóinne, the ancient gaelic name for the site known since the 14th century as Newgrange. Brug na Bóinne, located near the village of Slane, in County Meath, Ireland, has been carbon dated to around 3000BC, making it 1000 years older than Stonehenge and 500 years older than the Egyptian pyramids.
In Celtic mythology Brug na Bóinne was a site that offered great hospitality to spiritual travelers. It was a mysterious structure full of passageways and chambers, some of which housed guests and others reserved for only the Sluagh-Sídhe (Faeryfolk). When visitors from the mundane world first arrived they were greeted by three magical trees which were always full of fruit no matter the season. Some accounts say these were apple trees, others claim they were hazelnut trees. In addition to a constant supply of food from the trees, there was always a fire in the hearth with food cooking for the guests. Here visitors were able to nourish their bodies and souls while the magic of Brug na Bóinne and Boann helped them to access their own spiritual insight and creativity.
Boann rules poetry and writing in general, flowing water, spiritual insight, fertility, knowledge and creativity. Yet another husband is attributed to Boann, one which gives her credit for having birthed the three stains of music: lamentation, joy and sleep. In this version Boann coupled with (or was married to) Uaithne, The Dagda’s harper. At the birth of their first son she cried out in pain and Uaithne played healing music or the music of lamentation. Upon the birth of their second son, Boann cried with joy, birthing the music of joy. The birth of their third son was so easy that Boann feel asleep while Uaithne played, thus birthing the music of sleep.
In the same way that flowing waters clear debris in its path, Boann clears your mind of mental debris and negativity. She helps open your soul to receive divine inspiration. Call on Boann when seeking your own creative voice, an open door to spiritual insight and our connection to source.
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 teaches part-time. She is currently hard at work on a deck of Goddess cards. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints and paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.