We proceed now directly to show that there was also a belief, probably widespread, among the ancient Irish that divine personages national heroes who are members of the Tuatha De Danann or Sidhe race, and great men, can be reincarnated
that is to say, can descend to this plane of existence and be as mortals more than once.
This aspect of the Celtic Doctrine of Re-birth has been clearly set forth by the publications of such eminent Celtic folk-lorists as Alfred Nutt and Miss Eleanor Hull.
Miss Hull, in her study of Old Irish Tabus, or Gesa, 3 referring to the Cuchulainn Cycle of Irish literature and mythology, writes thus:
‘There is no doubt that all the chief personages of this cycle were regarded as the direct descendants, or it would be more correct to say
as avatars or reincarnations of the early gods.
Not only are their pedigrees traced up to the Tuatha De Danann, but there are indications in the birth-stories of nearly all the principal personages that they are looked upon simply as divine beings reborn on the human plane of
These indications are mysterious, and most of the tales which deal with them show signs of having been altered, perhaps intentionally, by the Christian transcribers.
The doctrine of re-birth was naturally not one acceptable to them
The goddess Etain becomes the mortal wife of a king of Ireland
Conchobhar, moreover, is spoken of as a terrestrial god;
and Dechtire, his sister, and the other of Cúchulhainn, is called a goddess.
In the case of Cúchulhainn himself, it is distinctly noted that he is the avatar of Lugh lamhfada (long-hand), the sun-deity 3 of the earliest cycle.
Lugh appears to Dechtire, the mother of Cúchulhainn, and tells her that he himself is her little child,
i.e. that the child is a reincarnation of himself;
and Cúchulainn when inquired of as to his birth, points proudly to his descent from Lugh.
When, too, it is proposed to find a wife for the hero, the reason assigned is, that they knew “that this re-birth would be of himself”
(i. e. that only from himself could another such as he have origin).’
We have in this last a clue to the popular Irish belief regarding the re-birth of beings of a god-like nature.
D’Arbois de Jubainville has shown, 5 also, that the grandfather of Cuchulhainn, son of Sualtaim, was from the country of the Sidhe, and so was Ethné Ingubé, the sister of Sualtaim.
And Dechtire, the mother of Cuchulhainn, was the daughter of the Druid Cathba and the brother of King Conchobhar.
Thus the ancestry of the great hero of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster is both royal and divine.
And Conall Cernach, Cuchulainn’s comrade and avenger, apparently from a tale in the Cóir Anmann (Fitness of Names),
composed probably during the twelfth century, was also a reincarnated Tuatha De Danann hero. 6
Practically all the extant manuscripts dealing with the ancient literature and mythology of the Gaels were written by Christian scribes or else copied by them from old manuscripts
so that, as Miss Hull points out, what few Irish re-birth stories have come down to us and they are probably but remnants of an extensive re-birth literature like that of India
have been more or less altered.
Yet to these scholarly scribes of the early monastic schools
who kept alive the sacred fire of learning while their own country was being plundered by foreign invaders and the rest of mediaeval Europe plunged in warfare
the world owes a debt of gratitude;
for to their efforts alone, in spite of a reshaping of matter naturally to be expected, is due almost everything recorded on parchments concerning pagan Ireland.
A big thumb’s up to those rebels who copied the truth before it was shrouded with lies
unlearn the lies
and see the truth
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