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NABON

A giant who gave his realm, the Isle of Servage, to Segwarides. He was slain by Tristan. # 156

NABUR

The foster-parent of Mordred. He discovered Mordred as a baby when the ship, on which he had been set adrift, was wrecked. # 156

NAISI

(n'she) Son of Usnech; one of the three brothers who carried off Deirdre from the court of Ulster; a fellow-pupil of CuChulain. # 166

NAME

Of all the symbols invented by incessantly symbolizing humanity, names are probably the most significant. Irish and Welsh divine and heroic groups are named after the mother, not the father. In the older strata of Celtic tradition it is common for heroes to be matronymous, the father's name being omitted. # 701 p 147

NANTES

According to Wolfram, the seat of Arthur's court. # 156 - 748

NANTOSUELTA

Gaulish goddess, consort of Sucellos. She appears with a dove-cot or model-house on a pole and is accompanied by a raven. Her name means 'Winding River'. # 454 - 563

NAOISI

The lover of Deirdriu. She bound him on his honour to rescue her and flee from Ulster with her. He was slain by Conchobar's client king, Eoghan.

# 266 - 454 - 654

NARBERTH

Castle where Pwyll had his court. Pwyll's adventures on the Mound of Arberth near Narberth. Pryderi and Manawyddan and their wives left desolate at palace of Narberth. # 562

NASCIEN

When Evelake (Mordrain), his father-in-law, was taken away by the Holy Spirit, Nascien was blamed and cast into prison. Rescued by a miracle, he was placed on the Turning Island where he saw Solomon's ship. King David's sword broke in the hands of Nascien who was not worthy to hold it. He eventually came to Britain. He was the hermit dedicated to the service of the Grail. He appeared at various intervals in many of the medieval stories, as an adviser or explicator to the Grail Knights of the strange events and encounters made along their way. In earlier texts it is told how he was once a pagan lord named Seraphe, who took the name, Nascien, when he was baptized. Stricken blind when he tried to look within the Grail, he was healed by the Grail Lance. He arrived in Britain together with Joseph of Arimathea and lived on to become the hermit figure of later stories. # 99 - 156 - 454 - 461

NATCHRANTAL

Famous champion of Maeve; assists to capture the Brown Bull. # 562

NATHALIODUS

Boece informs us that this was a person of no background whom Uther made a commander. As a result, half the island of Britain fell into the hands of the Saxons. # 156

NATURAL WORLD, SYMBOLISM OF THE

The sensitivity of the Celts to their natural environment is striking and manifests itself in the amount of religious imagery which is associated with the natural world.

The numinosity of all natural phenomena - of the sky, sun, water, mountains, and trees demonstrates the close alliance existing between humankind and its surroundings. The suddenness of storms, the occurence of drought, the capriciousness of water, the healing properties of springs and the daily reappearance of the sun, were all explicable only if these phenomena were controlled by the gods. The relationship of the Celts to animals is related but more complicated: an animal's particular qualities were revered, so those qualities were adopted as being appropriate to represent an aspect of divinity. Animals were not generally deities per se, but on occasions the boundaries between god and beast were blurred. Hunter and hunted had a peculiar, symbiotic interdependence; and certain gods relied so heavily on beasts that their very identity was inextricable from animal imagery. The rural basis of their society meant that the Celtic peoples were intensely aware of and at one with their natural habitat. The gods were everywhere and the natural spirits had to be harnessed and their power used for good, whilst their capacity for destruction was equally acknowledged. ># 770

NAUD

Among the ancient Celts, a nobleman had the right to claim naud, or santuary, excusing him from a punishment. It was always granted, because of some obscure logic, for a monarch to refuse naud when it had been asked would transfer the guilt for the crime to the king. # 383 p 171

NAWGLAN

The Sacred Nine. It is a specially prepared mixture of ashes obtained from the burning of the nine sacred woods: willows of the streams, hazel of the rocks, alder of the marches, birch of the waterfalls, ash of the shadows, yew of the plain, elm of the glens, rowan of the mountains, oak of the sun. Used by Druids and Bards in sacred rituals in 'time between times' inside the Stone Circle, and scattered to the four quarters. # 383 p 225

NEAMHAN

See: NEMAN.

NECHTAN

Between the plains of Tara and Brugh na Boyne, the charioteer of CuChulain pointed out the great dn of the sons of Nechtan. 'Are they,' CuChulain asked, 'those sons of Nechtan of whom it is said that more of the men of Ulster have fallen by their hands than are yet living on the earth?' 'The same,' said the charioteer. 'Then let us drive thither,' said CuChulain, and before the day was done, he had slain them all. Nechtan was the husband of Boann. The well of knowledge, over which nine hazel trees dropped their nuts was forbidden to any but he and his cup-bearers. Boann disobeyed him so that the well rose up and chased her, becoming the River Boyne. #454-562

NEF DE JOIE

A ship made by Merlin and used by Mabon to bring Tristan to him. This ship was to be destroyed after Arthur's final battle. # 156 - 712

NEFYN

The daughter of Brychan, wife of Cynfarch and mother of Urien. # 104 - 156

NEIT

Danaan king, and the male consort of Nemainn. His name may mean 'vigour' or 'exaltation in combat'. He is one of the primeval gods of Ireland and after his death, he was slain at the second Battle with the Fomorians at Mag Tuired, his sons divided the land between them. He was the grandfather of Balor. # 389 - 454 - 562

NEMAN NEAMHAN NEMAINN

The ancient Irish war goddess Badb took a triple form, Neman, Morrigu and Macha, all in the shape of royston or hoodie crows, aform taken in modern Irish fairy-lore by the Bean-Sidhe (Ban Sidhe). Each manifestation has a different function and Neman is 'the confounder of armies'. It is she who causes bands of the same army to fight together, mistaking each other for the enemy. Evans Wentz, in THE FAIRY FAITH IN CELTIC COUNTRIES, gives a useful account of these war spirits, founded mainly on SILVA GADELICA and THE BOOK OF CONQUESTS, but with other comparisons and references. #100-711

NEMED

(nev-eh) Son of Agnoman. He came from Scythia into Ireland, which he took possessions of, fighting victoriously aganst the Fomorians in three battles but shortly afterwards died of plague along with three thousand of his people. # 454 - 469 - 562

NEMEDIANS

Sail for Ireland; akin to Partholanians; revolt of Nemedians against Fomorians. # 562

NEMETONA

'Goddess of the Sacred Grove' is the meaning of her name. Like many other Celtic deities, her name is a title, reverently hiding the local given name. She appears as the partner of Mars in his RomanoBritish guises.#454-563

NEMHGLAN

He was the bird-like being who appeared to Mess Buachalla and made love to her. His son, Conaire Mess Buachalla, attempted to shoot at a flock of birds but Nemhglan flew down and laid a geise upon him to strip naked and proceed thus to Tara with only his sling-shot and one stone in his hand. By this method the druids recognozed Conaire as the next High King. #454 - 562

NENNIUS

British historian in whose HISTORIA BRITONUM (AD 800) is found first mention of Arthur. # 562

NENTRES

King of Garlot who married Elaine, Arthur's half-sister. He was one of the eleven kings who made a revolt against Arthur at the beginning of his reign, but eventually became an ally and a Knight of the Round Table. # 156 - 418

NEOT

(d 877) Trained as a monk at Glastonbury, he became a hermit near Bodmin Moor at Neotstoke. He is said to have appeared to King Alfred the Great on the eve of the Battle of Ethandum. When Neot's oxen were stolen, he yoked stags to plough his fields. His feast-day is 31 July.

A hundred years after Neot's death, his relics were taken from Cornwall to grace the monastery founded by the Saxon Leofric at Eynesbury, near St Ives, Cambridgeshire. # 454 - 678

NERA

He was a servant of Ailill. One Samhain night, Ailill offered a prize to any who would go out and encircle the foot of a corpse hanging outside with a withy. It being the time of the dead, everyone refused but Nera. As he was about to perform the deed, the corpse asked for water: Nera carried him to a nearby house which was immediately circled by the fire. At the next house, it became surrounded with water. At the third house the corpse drank three cups of water and spat out third upon the occupants who promptly died. Returning to claim his prize, Nera found the royal fort in flames and the King and his men beheaded. Nera descended to the underworld entrance of Cruachan to regain the heads and there lived with a bean-sidhe who explained that it had only been a vision and the best way to avoid it happening was to return to the royal fort and destroy the sidhe in which he now was. Fergus mac Roigh destroyed the place after plundering its treasures. Nera escaped with his sidhe-wife and child. # 208 - 454

NERA, THE ADVENTURES OF

'The Adventures of Nera' apparently also known in ancient times as the 'Cattle Raid of Aingen,' is one of the wildest tales in early Irish literature. In its present form given in Cross' and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES, unfortunately, it is the result of two unskillfully combined parallel accounts of Nera's excursion into the fairy world; hence the confused state of the latter part of the text. The scene is laid in Connacht, not in Ulster. The story is connected, at least superficially, with the two famous bulls that figure in the 'Cattle Raid of Cooley'. The compiler was acquainted not only with the central epic, but also with the 'Cattle Raid of Regamna' and 'The Exile of the Sons of Usnech'. The reference to the opening of the fairy-mounds on Hallowe'en is a piece of ancient folk-lore which has come down even to the present day. The royal family preparing food in the midst of the great hall at Cruachan, the hanging of the captives before the door, and the emphasis upon the terrors of the night are touches of primitive barbarism and superstition which point to the antiquity of the traditions underlying the tale. The cave of Cruachan, known in Christian tradition as 'Ireland's gate to Hell,' was, according to pagan belief, an entrance to Fairyland. # 166

NEREJA

The female emissary of Queen Amene, she went to Arthur's court to obtain aid for her mistress whose territory had been largely conquered by the evil Roaz. # 156 - 746

NESSA

1. Daughter of Echid Yellow-heel, married to Fachtna the Giant which she bore a son named Conor. When Fachtna died, Fergus son of Roy, his half-brother succeeded him, Conor being only a youth. Fergus loved Nessa and would marry her, but she made the condition that her son Conor could reign for one year. Fergus agreed, and so wise and prosperous was the young Conor's rule that, at the years end, the people, as Nessa foresaw, would have him remain king. Fergus, who loved feast and chase better than the toils of kingship, was content to have it so and remained at Conor's court, happy, but king no longer.

2. Wife of Cathbad. Her name was originally Assa or 'Gentle', but after Cathbad had killed all her tutors she took up arms as a woman warrior and was afterwards called 'Ungentle' or Niassa (Nessa). Cathbad surprised her bathing without her arms, but he spared her and granted her only to have her as his wife. She bore Conchobar on the day prophesied as the birthday of Christ. # 188 - 454 - 562

NESTOR

The brother of Ban and father of Bleoberis, he was accidentally killed by his son. Nestor was also the name of the son of Bleoberis. # 156

NEW GRANGE

# 562: Tumulus at New Grange regarded as dwelling-place of Fairy Folk. Angus' Fairy palace at Brugh na Boyne identical with New Grange.

# 470: It has been known for some years that at dawn on the shortest day of the year a ray of sunlight penetrates the inner chamber at New Grange, shining straight down the narrow passage through a rectangular, stone-framed slit above the entrance. In THE BOYNE VALLEY VISION, 1980, Martin Brennan claimed that the two chambers at Knowth, one facing east, the other west, were illuminated by sunrise and sunset at the equinoxes. This was confirmed by observation in 1980 at the autumn equinox, and Brennan went on to show that the inner chamber at Dowth received light at midwinter sunset.

Significant shadow effects have also been observed in connection with megalithic carvings. At Knowth, for example, as the time of the equinox approaches, the shadow of an upright stone at sunset falls onto an inscribed stone at the western entrance. A vertical line carved down the centre line of the passage, and on the day when the sun sets at the mid-point of its yearly course, the edge of the shadow cast by the standing stone falls precisely onto the carved line. # 96 - 470 - 562

NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES

King of Tara in the late fourth century. He was the son of Eochu Muigmedon by Cairenn, a concubine, and was recognized by his father with his four step-brothers as a suitable heir to the throne. However, Mongfind, Eochu's wife caused all the boys to be tested to see which would be king. She sent them to a prophetic smith, Sithchean, who set his forge on fire to see what implements the boys would rescue. Niall rescued the anvil and was accorded the winner. Mongfind set another test, dissatisfied that her children had been passed over. Sithchean sent the boys to fend for themselves in the forest, but they found themselves without water. Each boy went to a well which was guarded by a hag; she would only give water to the one who kissed her. Only Niall obliged her and she turned into a beautiful woman, naming herself as the Sovereignty of Ireland, which she accorded Niall. # 188 - 454 - 548

NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES, THE DEATH OF

Though this story in its form given in Cross' and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES hardly can be older than the eleventh century, it doubtless contains reminiscences of Irish invasions of Great Britain during the late fourth and early fifth centuries, when, as we know from British records and other evidence, the inhabitants of Britain were suffering from the inroads of the Scots (Irish). # 166

NIAMH

(NEE-av) 1. Wife of Conall of the Victories; tends CuChulain; Bave puts a spell of straying on her. 2. Niamh of the Golden Hair, daughter of the King of the Land of Youth (Manannan). She loved Oisin and talked him into a journey to her father's Land Oversea. Here they lived happily for three hundred years after which Oisin got satisfied with all the events he had adventured, that he longed for a visit to his native land and to see his old comrades. It was granted to him, but Niamh made him promise not to unmount the steed he was riding and set foot on his land or the way of return to the Land of Youth would be barred to him for ever. He met strange people in his own land who in return looked at him as was he an Fairy or an angel. He offered to help them heaving a huge stone from its bed, and in doing so he was instantly changed with the weight of three hundred mortal years upon him. # 562

NICHT NOUGHT NOTHING NICHT NOCHT NAETHIN

An example of a widespread story of which the earliest example is that of Jason and Medea. Andrew Lang published it in FOLK-LORE, VOL. I. In this version we have the supernatural wizard as the hero's father-in-law. The tale is still alive, and was recorded and published by Dr Hamish Henderson in THE GREEN MAN OF KNOWLEDGE, where the heroine is a Swan Maiden. # 100

NICODEMUS

The body of this biblical personage was first kept at Camelot and then at the Grail Castle. It accompanied Perceval on board ship when he made his final voyage. # 112 - 156

NIGHTMARE

# 118: The second part of the word has nothing to do with horses. The 'mare' derives from Old English mara, or a spectra which, it was said, perched itself on the breast of a sleeper and deprived him of motion and speech. # 100: One form in which the name of Mara, a demon, survives. The other is 'mare's nest'. Other names for Night-Mare are Succubus and the Hagge. # 100 - 118

NIMBLE MEN, THE

See: FIR CHLIS.

NIMPHIDIA

See: DIMINUTIVE FAIRIES.

NIMUE

Her father was Diones or Dinas, a vavasour (holder of feudal lands, lesser in rank than a baron). The origin of the name Nimue may derive from Irish Niamh or Welsh Rhiannon. Merlin saw her as a maiden making merry in the forests and became infatuated with her and taught her his magic, so she enclosed him in a tower of glass where she could visit him but from which he could not escape. Some says she had him imprisoned in a cave or in a tomb. According to Breton tradition this happened in the woods of Broceliande near the Fountain of Barenton in Brittany. She is also named Vivienne, Viviane or Niniane. The tradition of Merlin's imprisonment by this maiden probably stems from his withdrawal into the realms of the Celtic Otherworld which is frequently described in terms of a glass or crystal spiral tower in which the poet or magician is imprisoned for a while to learn the mysteries of life and death. She was the lover of Merlin but she also became the lover of Pelleas. She might have been The Lady of The Lake. # 37 - 100 - 156 - 418 - 454 - 589

NINIANE

See: NIMUE.

NINTH WAVE, THE

The ninth wave was considered to be the magical boundary of the land, beyond which was another country. In ancient times, boats usually hugged coastlines rather than venturing on the open sea. # 437 p 21

NISSIEN

Son of Eurosswyd and Penardun, brother of Efnissien. His name means 'peaceful', but he was unable to weave peace between his brother and all those people whom his brother, Efnissien insulted. # 272 - 439 - 454 - 562

NIVETTA

According to Tasso, a daughter of Morgan Le Fay. # 98 - 156

NODENS

He is analogous with Nudd or Lludd, Nuadu (Nuada). His chief sanctuary was at Lydney, Gloucestershire where the shrine had a guest house attached as well as a dormitory or 'abaton' for temple sleep. No depictions of him exist, though his symbol seems to have been the dog, if the votive plaques found at his temples are any indication. He was a water-god associated with the Romano-British god Neptune. See: NUDD. # 104 - 439 - 454 - 562 - 720

NOGGLE NUGGLE NYGEL

This creature, whose name is variously spelt, is the Shetland Kelpie. It appears like a beautiful little grey horse, about the size of a Shetland pony, bridled and saddled. It is less malicious than the Kelpie and much less dangerous than the Eash Uisge, but it has two mischievous tricks. Its peculiarity is that it is much attracted by water-mills, and if the mill was running at night it would size the wheel and stop it. It could be driven off by thrusting a burning brand or a long steel knife through the vent-hole of the mill. Its other trick was to loiter along the mill-stream and allure pedestrians to mount it. It would then dash away into the sea and give its rider a severe and even dangerous ducking; but it did not, like Each Uisge, tear its victim to pieces, it merely rose through the water and vanished in a blue flame. Before mounting a stray horse it was wise to look well at its tail. The Noggle looked like an ordinary horse, but it had a tail like a half-wheel, curled up over its back. Some people called the Noggle a Shoopiltie, but it seems to have shared this name with the merpeople. Anecdotes and descriptions of the Noggle have been brought together from various sources by A. C. Black in COUNTY FOLKLORE, VOL. III. # 71 - 100

NORTHERN IRELAND

This region really ought to be called 'Northeastern Ireland' Surprisingly few, except from the Irish and the British, seem to realize that Donegal, to the north and west of Northern Ireland, is a part of Eire. There are spots on the Donegal-Northern Irish border where one would need to travel due south, even southwest in places, to cross into Northern Ireland. Parts of Donegal are considerably north of Northern Ireland. See also: BRITAIN AND ENGLAND. # 118

NORTHGALIS

This kingdom seems to have been North Wales, but it may, at least at times, have signified a kingdom of the North Britons, such as Strathclyde, as it is said to have been near Northumberland. The ESTOIRE tells us that an early king of this realm was Coudel who fell fighting against Christians. Wolfram has it under the rule of Herzeloyde, while elsewhere it is given kings named Cradelment and Alois. Historically, a king called Cadwallon was thought to have been ruling in North Wales during the traditional Arthurian period and Geoffrey mentions him as King of the Vendoti (inhabitants of North Wales) in Arthur's time. # 156

NORTHUMBERLAND

In Arthurian romance this realm in the north of England is variously ruled by King Pellinore, King Clarion, King Cador and King Detors. # 156

NORWAY

In Arthurian time, according to Geoffrey, Norway was ruled by King Sichelm who left it to Lot. Arthur had to enforce Lot's claim, however, as the throne had been seized by a usurper, Riculf. At Arthur's final battle, Odbricht, the King of Norway, supported Arthur and met his death. # 156 - 243

NUADA OF THE SILVER HAND

(NOO-da) King of the Danaans. Identical with solar deity in Cymric mythology viz., Nudd or Lludd, or in Romano-British mythology, Nodens. He lost his hand fighting against the Firbolgs and as a maimed king was disqualified from kingship. Diancecht made him a silver hand which caused Nuada to be called Airgetlam (Silver Hand). However, Diancecht's son, Miach, created a hand of flesh. He allowed Lugh to reign while he and his counsellors in one year conferred for the best way to overcome the Fomorians, but he was killed in the second battle. See also: NUADU ARGAT LAM. ># 166 - 439 - 454 - 469 - 562 - 720

NUADHA

(of The Silver Arm). As king of the Tuatha De Danann, he was first deprived of kingship due to the loss of his hand in battle, then gave kingship over to the multi-skilled Lugh who was better able to handle the war, for a wounded king may not rule and must be replaced by a successor. It was typical of the Celts that they enacted the deepest themes of their religion and mythology in myths of two brothers of light and dark which compete for the love of the Land Goddess. # 628 p 117 ff

NUADU

(noo' ha) A famous druid of Cathair Mor. # 166

NUADU ARGAT LAM

(noo' ha r'gat lv) 'Nuada of the Silver Arm.' First king of the Tuatha De Danann in Ireland; lost an arm in the First Battle of Moytura; supplied with an arm of silver by Diancecht. # 166

NUALA

Mentioned incidentally by Evans Wentz as the wife of Fin Bheara, the king of the fairies of Connaught and king of the dead whose wife, according to Lady Wilde, is Oonagh. # 100 - 711 - 728

NUC

The father of Yder, he fought against his son, neither knowing who, the other was. During the fight, their identities became clear and they stopped. Nuc eventually married Yder,s mother. Nuc is called Duke of Alemaigne, by which Albany (Scotland; in Gaelic: Alban) is probably intented. # 156

NUCKALAVEA

An Irish sea-monster of Centaur type; it had no skin and its breath brought the plague. # 161

NUDD

or Lludd. Roman equivalent, Nodens. A solar deity in Cymric mythology. Identical with Danaan deity Nuada of the Silver Hand. Under the name Lludd, said to have had a temple on the site of St Paul's Cathedral in London. Entrance to Lludd's temple called Parth Lludd (British), which the Saxons translated Ludes Geat - the present Ludgate. # 562

NUMBERS

# 548: The subdivision of land into quarters is a very potent symbol. In Wales, according to the Law-books, there were four acres in a homestead, four holdings in every township, and so on. In the Isle of Man four quarterlands at one time formed a treen, the smallest unit for administrative purposes. Similarly in Ireland and the Western Highlands of Scotland the quarterland is regarded as the primary division of farmland (though it is further subdivided into eighths, sixteenths and so on). The Irish Baile Biatach, like the Davach or ounceland in Scotland and the Hebrides, comprised four quarterlands and wax a tax unit. There are also traces of the existence of this fourfold system in medieval England where four wards, four townships, or four villes constituted a unit for various legal purposes. 'There is definite evidence that the number four was associated in the medieval mind with the four quarters.' While the dominant idea in these cases is the four quarters, the elusive fifth is not altogether absent. The Irish Faithche consisted of four fields, one of each side of a Homestead, and a similar concept is implied in the Welsh system of four acres to one homestead. We also know that in at least one district of South Wales the inhabitants of four adjoining sharelands used to meet at a focal point on three annual holidays to play games and to listen to songs. Five is not the most prominent number in Celtic tradition, but it nevertheless appears in a large number of significant contexts. Ireland had five great roads and five celebrated hostels. There were five paths of the law, and five prohibitions for each of the four provincial kings (but seven for the king of Tara). Both Finn and the fairies counted by fives. Finn was one of the five masters of every great art, and was killed by the 'five sons of Uirgriu', each of whom 'planted a spear in the royal fian-chief'. The unitary character of five is also suggested by an episode in the Tain in which the Galioin, whose loyalty is suspect, are distributed among the other troops 'so that no five men of them shall be in one place'.

Mythical personages wore fivefold cloaks, and CuChulain had five wheels on his shield, which is particularly noteworthy when we remember that Achilles' shield was made in five layers and that shields representing the cosmos were widespread in the iconography of the ancient world. When his wife, Ethne, and three champions of Ulster visit CuChulain on his sick bed, they arrange themselves around him, Fergus between him and the wall, Conall Cernach between him and the bed-rail, Lugaid Reoderg between him and the pillow, Ethne at his feet - one at each point, with CuChulain in the middle. A medieval tract on language teaches that 'five words are adjudged to be a breath of the poet.' And when dithyramb or metrical rhytm was present, how was it measured? for there is not couplet rhyme or caesura rhyme in it. Not hard. 'By a word completing a breath which was indicated by the fifth word...' Again, there are five kinds of language, namely: 'the language of the Fni, the precedents of the poets, the language of separation, the hidden (?) language of the poets, in which they speak with one another, and iarmberla, such as cuich [? cic 'five'], that is a secret, and Ballorb, a member which completes the poet...' The fifth kind of language was learned by the poet in his fifth year of training. The number nine figures so prominently in Celtic tradition that it has been described as the 'northern counterpart of the sacred seven' of Near Eastern cultures. Bricriu was not the only subject who built a ninefold residence for his king. It is stated in Welsh Laws that the serf class should build nine houses for the king, while the serf's own house also consist of a hall plus eigth penthouses.

Repeated allusions to houses comprising 'nine houses (or rooms) in one', in the fifteenth-century poems of Guto'r Glyn, confirm the existence of a Welsh tradition that a complete house should consist of nine component parts. A holding consisting of a homestead and eight acres (erwau) is sometimes mentioned in the Welsh Laws as an alternative to the more usual unit of a homestead and four acres, while in Ireland there are instances of kingdoms which consisted of nine cantreds. Apart from sporadic pointers of this kind, and the subdivision of quarterlands into eighths, the eight/ninefold conception of things has not left an enduring impression on the territorial divisions of the Celtic lands, but it is to be found in a great many other significant contexts, among which the following are but a small selection. We can mention the nine hazels of wisdom that grew at the heads of the seven chief rivers of Ireland. There is also a story of a marvellous tree which grew from above downwards, like an inverted Yggdrasill. It had nine branches, of which the highest was the most beautiful, and in them pure white birds listened to the melodies to be heard there. The story is interpreted allegorically, the tree being Christ, the nine branches the nine grades of heaven, and the birds the soul of the just. An early Welsh poem which mentions the Cauldron of the Head of Annwfn says that 'by the breath of nine maidens was it kindled', and in the VITA MERLINI the Fortunate Isles are governed by nine sisters, the first of whom was Morgen. In the DINDSENCHAS there is a tale of Ruad son of Rigdonn who rows north of Ireland with three boats and finds they have no power to move. He swims to a secret spot and finds nine fair and strong 'female forms' with whom he sleeps nine nights 'without gloom, without tearful lament, under the sea free from waves on nine beds of bronze.' One of the women bears him a child. In Irish literature it is made clear that the nine consist of a leader and eight others. This is strikingly illustrated in a description of Medb's mode of travel in TAIN BO CUAILGNE: 'and nine chariots with her alone; two before her, two behind, and two at either side, and her own chariot in the middle between them'. King Loegaire, when setting out to arrest St Patrick, ordered nine chariots to be joined together 'according to the traditions of the gods'. Nine, like five, symbolized the whole. In Welsh medieval society the ninth generation was the recognized limit of kin relationship. In Scotland, the needfire was kindled sometimes by nine men and sometimes by nine nines of first-begotten sons. The number was also connected with the Beltaine fire in Scotland, Wales, as in part of Scandinavia, where it was made with nine sticks collected by nine men from nine differnt trees. The number nine may at one time have had a place in the calendar of the Celtic peoples. In the Welsh Laws, the ninth day of the month often marks the end or the beginning of a period, and a period of nine days or nine nights is certainly in evidence in the literature as a significant unit of time.

With the number twelve, as with the number seven, there is always the possibility that native tradition has been affected by Christianity, but the symbolism of twelve, like that of seven, is certainly older and more widespread than Christianity. A knowledge of the zodiacal twelve is found throughout Eurasia, and it was firmly established in Scandinavia in pre-Christian times. That it should have been unknown to the pre-Christian Celts is hardly probable. # 183 - 199 - 228 - 312 - 397 - 502 - 548 - 739 - 763

NUTS OF KNOWLEDGE

Drop from hazel-boughs into pool where Salmon of Knowledge lived. # 562

NWYWRE

Druidic name for the invisible force that governed both life and the material universe: Nwywre, symbolized by the serpent, which is a universal symbol already familiar to us from the statues of the Pharaohs, who were believed to represent the divinity on earth. According to Moreau, Nwywre 'was the creative power of the physical world'. Nothing happened without it. It was the cosmic fluid, the ether, the light and the great creative and divine Principle that linked Heaven and Earth. Its union with the other elements created life, movement and spirit. A Gallic bard sang that it is smaller than the smallest and bigger than worlds because it is subtleness and power itself. For the Druids, Nwywre was the thread mysterious linking the human world to the divine world. # 482 - 730