One of the essential principles of the our Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) Order's approach to spiritual engagement with the surrounding world is a deep and abiding respect for the land and the environment. The Celtic mythologies are full of tales that indicate that many aspects of the surrounding landscape were physical  incarnations of deity. Many mountains, rivers, trees and animals had specific deity associated with them, the Dindsenchas (The Lore Concerning Places)are a series of relatively short poems which describe how and why certain places in Ireland got their names. The Land Herself is presented as a living breathing persona whose permission is asked before Amergin and the Milesians can set foot on Her, as related in Lebor Gabála Érenn. 


 I invoke the land of Ireland.  

      Much-coursed be the fertile sea,  

Fertile be the fruit-strewn mountain,  

      Fruit-strewn be the showery wood,  

      Showery be the river of water-falls,  

      Of water-falls be the lake of deep pools,  

      Deep pooled be the hill-top well,  

      A well of the tribes be the assembly,  

      An assembly of the kings be Tara,  

      Tara be the hill of the tribes,  

      The tribes of the sons of Mil,  

      Of mil be the ships the barks,  

      Let the lofty bark be Ireland,  

      Lofty Ireland Darkly sung,  

      An incantation of great cunning;  

      The great cunning of the wives of Bres,  

      The wives of Bres of Buaigne;  

      The great lady Ireland,  

      Eremon hath conquered her,  

      Ir, Eber have invoked for her.  

      I invoke the land of Ireland. 

Lebor Gabála Érenn, original text edited and translated by R A Stewart Macalister

 

Amergin the poet-druid of the Milesians was one of the most powerful Irish filidh. It is clear that he believed that the Land was a living, potent entity that had a name and, therefore, deserved respect.  Amergin as he sets his right foot on the land of Erinn, recites this famous song:

 

I am a wind on the sea  

I am a wave of the ocean  

I am the roar of the sea,  

I am a powerful ox,  

I am a hawk on a cliff,  

I am a dewdrop in the sunshine,  

I am a boar for valor,  

I am a salmon in pools,  

I am a lake in a plain,  

I am the strength of art,  

I am a spear with spoils that wages battle,  

I am a man that shapes fire for a head.  

Who clears the stone-place of the mountain?  

What the place in which the setting of the sun lies?  

Who has sought peace without fear seven times?  

Who names the waterfalls?  

Who brings his cattle from the house of Tethra?  

What person, what god Forms weapons in a fort?  

In a fort that nourishes satirists,

Chants a petition, divides the Ogam letters,  

Separates a fleet, has sung praises?  

A wise satirist.  

He sang afterwards to increase fish in the creeks:  

                             Fishful sea-                               

Fertile land-  

Burst of fish-  

Fish under wave-  

With courses of birds--  

Rough Sea-                    

A white wall--  

With hundreds of salmon-  

Broad Whale-  

A port song-  

A burst of fish.

 Lebor Gabála Érenn, original text edited and translated by R A Stewart Macalister

 

 

            Our Celtic ancestors certainly seemed to recognized the importance of the concepts of harmony and balance in nature as essential to the well-being of both the Land and its inhabitants.  Amergin seems to imply that he and his people would thrive in the new Land provided they respected Her,  for She would make the final determination as to whether they would be made welcome. His prayer for acceptance of his people was made to the Land, the entity named Erinn. This is a critically important understanding, even to the degree that adequate production of food crops was one of the criteria upon which the worthiness of a king was judged. An inferior harvest was regarded as an indication that the Land, may not have considered the king worthy to be her consort. Sovereignty is a critical concept in this process. It refers to the Divine right to rule and make decisions that is imparted to a king. The Goddess of the Land, is also the Goddess of Sovereignty. Sovereignty is of an eternal origin and is perpetual in that it doesn't expire with its holder, it is no one's property, it is a manifestation of the right of the Land to choose Her own king.