The Mythology of Newgrange

The mythology of Newgrange
The story of the original owners of Newgrange is lost in Ireland’s misty pre-history. It is quite a famous place in medieval Irish mythology, and is mentioned many times in various texts and annals. It seems to have been more a famous site than Knowth or Dowth, though Newgrange escaped the plunderings by the Norsemen the other two mounds suffered as mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters.

The mythological stories we have today come from medieval manuscripts compiled by Irish monks and scholars a thousand years ago. The myths are thought by some to be the remnants of the iron age religious or spiritual beliefs. The first mythological owner of the Mansion on the Boyne was Elcmar the Druid, the husband of the Boann, the Goddess of the River Boyne. The Dagda, a fiesty, earthy god desired the beautiful Boann and he sent Elcmar away on an errand. Then the Dagda appeared and courted Boann, and they slept together and concieved a child. So that her husband would not know about their affair, the Dagda, a marvellous magician, caused nine months to pass in one day, or the sun to stand still for nine months, and so Aongus Og, the Young God was born on the same day that he was conceived.

Then the Dagda took possession of the mound from Elcmar and lived there for many years, presumably with Boann, the nearby river Boyne. Aongus grew up to become the god of love of the Túatha Dé Danann. He is always associated with birds, especially swans. During the Dagda’s reign at Brú na Boinne, which means the Palace on the Boyne, the mound was always associated with magic and wonder. It is the most mentioned monument in ancient manuscripts, and was called by many names such as ‘yonder Bru of the many coloured Chequered Lights’.

One day Aongus went to his father and asked for possession of the mound for a day and a night, to which the Dagda agreed. When he came back the next day, his son informed him that since all eternity is made up of day and night, the Dagda had given Aongus the mound for ever. And so it became the Brú of Aongus Og.

Newgrange is mentioned in several Celtic sagas; in one three sons of kings are advised to go to the Brú and fast for three days, after which they are rewarded with land, wives and wealth. It is the place where the Ulster hero, Cuchulain was concieved in a tale from the Ulster cycle; and it is interesting to note that in the early mythology the mound/womb is a place of conception and birth. The assocations with death and funerals tend come from later Christain and antiquarian writings. When Cormac mac Art, the glorious High King of the Celtic Golden Age died, he could not be buiried at Newgrange, as the River Boyne rose up against the funeral procession. It is thought that this may be early political writing by the hand of a rival clan.

The symbolism of Newgrange fits in with Christian lore from a much later time as well: a magical child is born in the middle of winter, who later spends three days in a stone tomb and emerges reborn: these symbols may well be a part of the original rituals of the site.
Source: Wiki

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