Irish Poets Uncover the Kabbalah in Celtic Creation Myths
In the early ninth century an Irish warrior-priest Cormac mac Cuilennáin, who would become king, wrote Sanas Cormaic in which he presented the ancient creation myths of the Celts. In the early 20th century the Irish literary geniuses, Æ and W.B. Yeats, both unearthed traces of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life within the metaphysical structure of these ancient Irish creation myths. The works of Æ and Yeats present the deeper dynamics surrounding the emergence of the Celtic Irish gods; Lir, Manannán and Dana, the creation trinity of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
William Butler Yeats photographed in 1903 by Alice Boughton (Public Domain)
Cultural Diversity of the Tree of Life
The cosmic, sacred or world tree is a transcultural archetype of ancient religious, mythological and philosophical traditions and with its roots in the underworld the tree symbolically connects our terrestrial plane with perceived higher, or heavenly realms.
The Tree of Life. This image was originally published by Currier & Ives in 1892. (Public Domain).
In ancient Norse and Germanic cultures, the creator god Odin gained his wisdom from Yggdrasil, the world tree that united the nine worlds, while in Hindu traditions the sacred tree Ashvattha shaded Gautam Buddha while he meditated and achieved enlightenment. In the Biblical Book of Genesis, the Tree of Life was located: “in the midst of the Garden of Eden” with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Jewish and Christian scholars hold the Tree of Knowledge as connecting heaven with the underworld while the branches of the Tree of Life pervade all created form.
Paradise The Fall of Man / Tree of Knowledge. Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553). (Public Domain).
Celtic Tree of Life
Celtic mythology features magic Oaks, Ash and Thorn trees but Hazel trees were regarded as ‘fairy trees’ and associated with the perceived magical powers of creation and fertility. The Hill of Tara was the sacred center of kingship in ancient Ireland, where according to legend, five ancient roads or slighe meet, and it was traditionally located beside a: ‘pleasant Hazel wood’ . Hazel also represented the ninth month on the Old Irish calendar and sacred Hazel trees grew at the heads of the ‘seven chief rivers’ of Ireland.
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Ashley Cowie is a Scottish historian, author and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems, in accessible and exciting ways. His books, articles and television shows explore lost cultures and kingdoms, ancient crafts and artifacts, symbols and architecture, myths and legends telling thought-provoking stories which together offer insights into our shared social history. www.ashleycowie.com.
Top Image: The Tuatha Dé Danann as depicted in John Duncan's "Riders of the Sidhe" (1911) (Public Domain)
By Ashley Cowie