I tried to find a better picture of this place in Ireland. Traditionally, I spend All Hallows Eve honoring my ancestors. This year is no exception, but I find myself worried about the outside cats that have taken up residence outside my side door. My landlord is suspicious (she hates cats) that those cats are mine and she most certainly is watching me closer because of them. I wish there were someplace I could put them where they would be safe and warm...an Ohio version of Oweynagat would be perfect. Tonight as I honor my ancestors, I will also be honoring all the cats I have ever had and that have ever owned me!
Several sites in Ireland are especially linked to Samhain. A host of
otherworldly beings was said to emerge from Oweynagat ("cave of the
cats"), near Rathcroghan in County Roscommon, each Samhain. The Hill of Ward (or Tlachta) in County Meath is thought to have been the site of a great Samhain gathering and bonfire; the Iron Age ringfort is said to have been where the goddess or druid Tlachta died, giving birth to triplets that resulted from rape.
In The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (1996), Ronald Hutton
writes: "No doubt there were [pagan] religious observances as well, but
none of the tales ever portrays any". The only historic reference to
religious rites is in the work of the "thoroughly unreliable" Geoffrey Keating (died 1644), who says that the druids
of Ireland would gather on Tlachta on Samhain night to kindle a sacred
fire. However, his source is unknown. Hutton says it may be that
religious rites aren't mentioned because, centuries after
Christianization, the writers didn't know what they had been.
The idea that, in Old Irish literature, Samhain is particularly
associated with the supernatural is due to Jeffrey Gantz and others.
Hutton criticizes this as unfounded; he argues that the gatherings of
royalty and warriors on Samhain are simply an ideal setting for such
tales in the same way that many Arthurian tales of are set at courtly gatherings at Christmas or Pentecost.
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