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Cnoc Áine: Earthly Home of the Sun Goddess

The ancient cult of the sun goddess Áine can still be traced at her sanctuary hill, Cnoc Áine, and the nearby sacred lake of Lough Gur, which are central to Munster's mythology. In a peace treaty recorded in the twelfth century, each province is allowed a share of Cnoc Áine. This is confirmed by the arrangement of monuments on the summit of the hill. Through the warmth of the southern goddess comes the connection with the earth, fertility and the sun. All over Ireland, Áine is known as the wife of Manannan the Sea God from whose bed she climbs each morning. She is also said to be the wife of Echdae the sky horse. By leaping regularly from one to the other, she joins the sky and sea together, landing at Cnoc Áine on the mound atop the hill. This mound is at the eastern end of the hill and balanced by the traditional site of her cave. Unfortunately the cave was destroyed in 1900 by quarrymen, but it once lay at the western (sunset) foot of the sacred hill. In the nineteenth century, many families living around Cnoc Áine still claimed direct descent from her. They spoke of her endearingly as "the best-hearted woman that ever lived" although sometimes she is seen as a cailleach or an old hag. Those who comply with her modest demands enjoy good luck but whoever offends her will soon experience trouble. I will tell you a story to prove my point.

In the time when Eire was new and even greener than it is today, The Dagda was dividing up the land between his sons. Eoghabhal, though only a distant nephew, sought a bit of land for himself. The Good God told him to go and take the hill called Collchoille, and build his brughean upon the high point. This was all well and good, but the people who were already living there took exception to being moved out. They fought fiercely, and would not let Eoghabhal have the hill. Áine was daughter to Eoghabhal and, even though she was still young, had considerable magical powers. She promised the victory to her father, if he would but name the hill after her. Eoghabhal thought this was a small price to pay for his own place, and so agreed.

Áine gathered her magic to her and with it, produced numerous demons of the air and made many frightful screeching sounds. She made the boulders strewn about the fields to stand up and march upon the enemy like so many giant warriors. All this put a great fear into those who held the hill, and they scattered like leaves before the wind. Áine and Eoghabhal, and his warrior sons as well, climbed to the top of the hill. There, he struck the ground with the butt of his great spear and proclaimed for all to hear, that this place was to be called Cnoc Áine, the Hill of Áine, from now until the end of the world.

photo of Lough Gur courtesy of Lough Gur HeritageCentre

Invocation of Áine

A Áine!
Bandia Réalta!
Bandia na Sióga
Bandia Órga
Bandia an tSolais
Bandia an tSleibhe
Bandia an Locha Leighis
Bandia Geal
Bandia an Láir Rua
Bí linn!
Bí linn inár gCiorcal!
Bí linn inár Tuatha!

Star Goddess!
Goddess of the Sidhe
Golden Goddess
Goddess of Light
Goddess of the Mountain
Goddess of the Healing Lake
Bright Goddess

Goddess of the Red Mare
Join us!
Join us in our circle!
Join us in our Tribe!

Copyright – Ellen Evert Hopman


Áine with me lying down,

Áine with me rising up,

Áine with me in each ray of light,

Every day and night.

Áine with me, protecting,

Áine with me, directing,

Áine with me, strengthening,

Forever and for evermore.

(modification of Prayer 2 from Carmina Gadelica)

Reflections on Lough Gur

Leap up from your lover's bed, Aine,
Leap up into your chariot bold!

Fly your ribbons and banners bright,

Sky-blue, grassy green and sun gold!

Flow out 'cross waters and hills, Aine,

Flow out over lough and land!

Cast your shadow down through time,

Sweet love, fertile fields, gentle hand!

(copyright Melangell Green)








"Áine, Goddess of Light and Sun" by Ellen Evert Hopman

“On another St. John's Night, a number of girls had stayed late on the Hill
watching the cliars (torches) and joining in the games. Suddenly Ainé appeared
among them, thanked them for the honour they had done her, but said she now
wished them to go home, as they wanted the hill to themselves. She let them
understand whom she meant by they, for calling some of the girls she made them
look through a ring, when behold, the hill appeared crowded with people before
invisible.” 1

An Irish Goddess of Summer Solstice and of Lughnasadh who brings love,
protection, fertility, wealth and sovereignty. As Moon Goddess, she is guardian of
the livestock, crops, and cattle. As Sun Goddess, she takes the form of ‘Lair Derg’,
a red mare that no one can outrun. In her guise as the red mare, she travels among
the people, bringing blessings. 2

She is the sister of Grian (Grainne), the weak winter Sun. Áine is the bright, hot
Sun of summer, ruling over the light half of the year, while Grian rules over the
dark half. She has a third sister named Fenne, marking her as a triple deity and
High Goddess.

It is said that she could inspire the poets, or drive them mad. Her sacred lake Lough
Gur was a place where the sick were taken on a full Moon night to be healed. If
they didn’t recover Áine would sing to comfort them and then help them to cross to
the Otherworld.

At Midsummer, a ritual fire was lit on top of Cnoc Áine, her sacred mountain, and
runners would light torches from the flames and carry them down to the cattle and
the fields, running through them to bless them. Áine sat in her birthing chair on
Lughnasadh and gave birth to a sheaf of grain, bestowing it as a gift to the people.


According to legend Áine gave Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) its fragrance,
making it an herb sacred to her. Meadowsweet was once a “strewing herb” placed
on the floors of a home to give off a sweet smell when stepped on. It was also used
as a fragrant strewing herb at weddings, giving it the folk name “Bridewort”. 3
To honor Áine place fresh Meadowsweet on the altar at Midsummer, and a sheaf of
new grain on the altar at Lughnasadh. Wear a crown of Meadowsweet and other
summer flowers, especially yellow St. John’s wort which blooms at her festival, in
her honor. Burn Meadowsweet flowers as incense to bring love, peace and

happiness into the home. Add Meadowsweet flowers to the bride’s bouquet to bless
the union.


Grain, bread, milk, honey and cheese are fine offerings to her, and in honor of her
“red mare” aspect, red flowers and red berries such as Hawthorn berries,
Elderberries, and Rowan (Mountain Ash) berries. A libation of Meadowsweet
flavored mead would be nice.

1. Rolleston, T.W., Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race, George G. Harrap &
Co., London, 1911, P. 129
2. Alexander, Sharyn, The Celtic Journey, Áine, the Faery Goddess
3. Velvethope, Meadowsweet - the flower of Aine




Meadowsweet, Queen of the Meadow, Mead Wort (Filipendula ulmaria)

“Venus claims dominion over the herb. It is used to stay all manner of bleedings,
fluxes, vomitings, and women’s courses, also their whites: It is said to alter and
take away the fits of the quartan agues, and to make a merry heart, for which
purpose some use the flowers, and some the leaves.” – Nicholas Culpepper, The
Complete Herbal, 1652

This herb favors damp areas and is an anti-inflammatory for joint pain, heartburn,
ulcers, colds, flu, bronchitis, fevers, arthritis and gout. As a diuretic it is helpful for
kidney and bladder infections. It has antibacterial properties and may be effective
against E. Coli. 1

It has antioxidant properties that can increase the immune response and can be
mixed with Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) to relieve pain.


Externally it is used topically in skin conditions such as acne and in foot baths for
painful conditions.

Meadowsweet or Mead Wort is used to flavor mead (honey wine), wines, beers,
vinegars, and desserts.


Like aspirin it contains salicylic acid so people who are already on an aspirin
regimen, or who have an aspirin allergy should avoid it, as should children,
pregnant and breastfeeding women. Avoid it if you have GERD and use caution if
you have asthma. Overuse can cause nausea, vomiting and rash. Do not take it with
choline magnesium trisalicylate (Trilisate), narcotic painkillers, Demerol,
hydrocodone, morphine, OxyContin, or Salsalate (Disalcid). 2

To make the tea: steep 1-2 tsp. dried flowers and/or fresh roots in 1 cup freshly
boiled water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink. Take 1 cup, up to three times a day.
Tincture: 30 - 60 drops as needed, in water.

1. Meadowsweet Herb: Benefits, Uses, Tea, and More, Medically reviewed by
Grant Tinsley, Ph.D., CSCS,*D, CISSN, Nutrition — By Lizzie Streit, MS,
RDN, LD on March 3, 2021
2. Levy, Jillian, December 4, 2021, Dr. Axe, Meadowsweet Herb: 5 Potential
Benefits & How to Use It,
accessed 5/20/2023





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