Tuesday 7 May 2019

Fire breathing goblin

Aillen or Áillen is a legendary being from Irish mythology. He played the harp and was known to sing beautiful songs. He was also called "the burner", because of his "fiery breath". He was a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann. 

Here is the story about Aillén Mac Midgna – The Fire Breathing Goblin, which was described in the Fenian Cycle of Irish Mythology under The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn.

Aillén Mac Midgna was a fire breathing goblin from the other world, Mag Mell. for 23 years Aillén brought terror to Ireland’s most sacred location, the hill of Tara, the seat of Ireland’s High King.

Each year, on the eve of Samhain, Aillén would arrive at Tara and play the Irish harp with such enthusiasm causing everyone in the immediate area to fall asleep under his spell.

Once Aillén had cast all of the kings guards asleep he would use his fiery breath to set fire to the great halls of Tara with his fire breathing, leaving nothing but burning cinders behind. When done Aillén would return to his fairy mound at sídh Finnachaid leaving the people to rebuild the great halls.

Nobody could kill the fire breathing goblin because as soon as anyone got close to him they fell asleep under his spell which is why he was able to continue year after year. That is, until the Irish hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill learned about the disastrous deeds of Aillén.

A few months after Fionn succeeded in becoming a Fian warrior and chieftain of Clan Baiscne he was told of the fire breathing goblin who was causing chaos at the hill of Tara every Samhain. As Fionn had all the knowledge in the world gained from the Salmon of Knowledge, he made a request to the High King. For leadership of the Fianna, a band of warriors, he would kill Aillén Mac Midgna the fire breathing goblin. With all the warriors in Ireland unable to stop Aillén the burner the Irish King agreed to Fionn’s request.

Like everyone else, Fionn was not immune to the musical spell from Aillén so he needed a way to avoid falling victim to the goblins magic but how? 

Another Irish warrior by the name of Fiacha had a poisoned spear but he lacked the knowledge on how to use it. Fionn mac Cumhaill on the other hand knew exactly how to use it after all, he had all the knowledge in the world.

On Samhain’s Eve Fionn held the spear to his head and inhaled its magical fumes, making him immune to the musical spell  from Aillén’s harp. He lay in wait for Aillén to get closer and within reaching distance he stabbed him with the spear killing the goblin to everyone’s joy.

The King, true to his word, gave Fionn captaincy over the Fianna warriors. Its leader at the time, Goll Mac Morna who was Fionn’s enemy, stood down and swore loyalty to Fionn.

So what is this story actually about?

Well as I already explained in my post "Two crosses", in the Irish calendar the year was divided into the white and dark part, summer and winter. The white part of the year was the part dominated by the sun (Heat, Light, Yang, Male principal). The dark part of the year was the part dominated by the earth (Cold, Dark, Yin, Female principal). This division of the year described by the Celtic calendar is also perfectly described by the Yin-Yang symbol. I talked about it in my post "Yin and Yang". The white part of the year, the summer, started on Beltane and ended on Samhain. The dark part of the year started on Samhain and ended on Beltane. 

The fire of the sun is symbolised by a snake and a fire breathing dragon...I already talked about it in many of my posts, like "Apep", "Water bull", "St Austell font", "The sunny part of the year"... And interestingly, the fire breathing goblin gets killed on the day when the sun's dominance ends, when the sun's fire is finally extinguished and the winter starts...And the day when traditional in Ireland all the house fires were extinguished and rekindled again...

Is this a coincidence?

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