Hymns and Incantations
Ortha Nan Gaidheal
by Alexander Carmichael
This is volume I of Alexander Carmichael's collection of folk poetry from the Western Isles of Scotland. Carmichael spent years collecting folklore from the vanishing cultures of Scotland. The poems in this volume include prayers, invocations, blessings and charms. They are a synthesis of Christian and pre-Christian belief systems. Besides invoking Jesus, Mary, and the saints, a number of these call on other powers. One of these is 'Bride,' who is explained as Jesus' midwife, but who is probably Brigid, an ancient Celtic goddess. Also mentioned throughout are a triune deity which is equated to the Christian Trinity, but which may also be an echo of a set of three pagan deities. The text includes notes on seasonal observances and folk customs which are probably likewise survivals of pre-Christian customs. All of these are woven into the cycles of the year, and activities such as weaving, fishing and herding. A vivid picture of life in pre-modern rural Scotland emerges.
This etext includes all of the Gaelic text, Carmicheal's English translations, and the beautiful initials from the first edition.