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Aine by Jessica Galbreth


Image of Aine
Courtesy of Jessica Galbreth
and the Enchanted-Art Collection
Used with Permission




AINE, IRISH LOVE GODDESS AND FAERIE QUEEN




Aine was both a Celtic Goddess and a Faery Queen. She has been known by other names, such as the Lady of the Lake, the Goddess of the Earth and Nature, and the Goddess of Luck and Magick. As well, there are some people who actually believe that she might be an aspect of The Morrigan.

Aine was the daughter of Eogabail, a member of the Tuatha da Danaan and the foster son of the Sea God Manannan Mac Lir, while other versions of this legend claim that she was actually married to Manannan Mac Lir himself.

Aine has been viewed, at various times, as both a Sun Goddess and a Moon Goddess. While she was in her original role as a Sun Goddess, Aine was nicknamed “bright,” and it was when she was in that role that she was able to shape-shift into becoming “Lair Derg,” the ”Red Mare,” or the horse that never could be outrun. Traditionally, Sun Goddesses have been known as Goddesses of Love and Fertility, and Aine followed in that tradition with great enthusiasm. It was during a much later period in time that Aine developed the characteristics of a more maternal Moon Goddess, and was believed to guard her followers’ livestock and crops. There are farmers, even today, who perform the exact same rituals that their ancestors performed thousands of years ago. At midsummer, they walk through their fields and wave their torches, in the hope that Aine and her sacred fire might grant them an abundant harvest. Farmers also continue to burn flowers and straw, as another way of honoring Aine, in the hope that she might grant them freedom from illness and evil throughout another turn of the Wheel of the Year.

In her role as a Moon Goddess, Aine was known as a Goddess of Agriculture and a Patroness of Crops and Cattle. An ancient myth exists which describes how Aine sat in her birthing chair on August 1st, and gave birth to a sheave of grain. It is believed that by performing that act, Aine gave the gift of grain to the people of Ireland.

Aine has always been an extremely popular Goddess, and she had a reputation for being exceedingly friendly with human men. People would worship Aine in the hope that she might bestow sexuality, fertility, abundance and prosperity upon them. Those attributes have often been connected with Love Goddesses, and Aine took her primary responsibility, that of encouraging human sexuality, very seriously.

Aine was well known for teaching humans about love, and she did so in two separate and distinct ways. In the first way, Aine become lovers with human men, and in the second way, which was the one that she used more frequently, she taught humans how to walk in spirituality, unity and love with the Goddess Danu. When Aine did offer her love to human men she conceived a great many children, and by doing so, it is believed that she gave birth to a magickal Faerie-Human race.

Many stories exist regarding Aine and her mortal lovers. One story tells of how King Ailil Olom of Munster attempted to force his affections upon her. Aine had no way of protecting herself at that time, so rather then being raped by him, she had no other choice but to kill him.

In a later story, Gerald, Earl of Desmond came upon Aine while she was bathing in a river, and this time she was unable to protect herself from being raped. Through that violent and dishonorable act, Aine became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a son, the second Earl Gerald. The elder Earl, who fancied himself an excellent magician, did receive retribution for what he had done, when Aine was finally able to use her magick and turned him into a goose.

There is another version of that tale as well. One day, while Aine was swimming in a river, an Irish Earl who just happened to be passing by stole her cloak, and then refused to return it to her until she agreed to marry him. With a heavy heart Aine agreed to his terms, and she did, indeed, keep her word and marry him, and some time later she gave birth to a baby boy. It should be noted, however, that in this particular version of the story, it was Aine’s son who was the talented magician, not his father. In the hope of gaining her freedom from the Earl, Aine struck a deal with him, the terms of which stated that he could never show even the slightest bit of surprise at anything their son might do, because if he did Aine would gain her freedom.

Eventually, the day finally arrived when the Earl witnessed his son perform the most amazing trick, and he found himself unable to hide his surprise from anyone. It was then, and for that reason, that Aine gained her freedom, and she returned back to the sidhes to live happily, once again, with the Faeries. This story is only one example of how intelligence, ingenuity and determination, which are all qualities of the Divine Feminine, were able to aid Aine, thereby allowing her to free herself from the Earl’s patriarchal bondage.

Tales still exist to this day regarding Aine’s son. Legend has it that he still lives in Lough Gur, which is also known as “Aine’s lake,” in County Limerick, just waiting for the time when he finally will be able to rid Ireland of all foreigners. Legend also tells us that he rides around the entire lake, once every seven years, and that he will continue to do so until his horse’s silver shoes are finally worn away.

Like many other Celtic Goddesses, Aine can be seen as a singular Triple Goddess, based upon the various powers she possesses. In her first aspect, Aine has the ability to reward her followers with the gift of poetry or, for those that she deems unworthy, with the curse of madness. Aine’s second aspect is attributed to her association with lakes and wells, and with her ability to heal. The waters, which come from “Tobar-Na-Aine,” or “Aine’s Well,” are known to have life-restoring qualities. Finally, in her third aspect, Aine takes on the guise of a Dark Goddess, with the ability to appear to mortal men as a beautiful woman, which leaves little room for doubt why she has frequently been called the Leannan Sidhe, which means the “Sweetheart of the Sidhe,” or the “Faerie Lover.”

Aine is also a part of a Triple Goddess trinity, consisting of herself, and her two sisters, Fenne and Grianne. When a full moon rises, lighting up the evening sky, the three of them ride their horses from out from their sidhes, to laugh and play in Lough Gur.

Aine has always been known as an extremely versatile Goddess. She was both a Sun Goddess, and a Moon Goddess, with all the varying characteristics that belong to each. While she may be known by many different titles, Aine will always be thought of, first and foremost, as a Goddess of Love, and even more importantly, as the Faerie Queen who, in mating with her mortal lovers, created a whole new Faerie-Human race.







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