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Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Goddess Scáthach

Names and titles: The Shadowy One, Shadow, Shade, She who strikes fear, The Fierce Woman, King Maker, Scatty, Scatach, Scota, Scatha
Pronunciation: Scatt-tock
Goddess of: Death and Battle
MythologyGaelic; Irish; Scottish

Scáthach is a warrior goddess who appears in the Irish epic, the Ulster Cycle.  She was known for being invincible in battle and by her great leaps and battle cries. She runs a martial arts academy where she trains only the finest heroes. One must pass a series of tests before she will train you. Scathach lived on the Isle of Shadows (Isle of Skye), where she offered spiritual and magickal instruction as well as physical. Not only did she train young warriors in battle, she distributed magickal weapons, and it was said she took them as bedfellows as well.

Scathach did not train women because of a Celtic belief which stated that only women could teach men effective battle skills, and only men could teach them to women.

Her most famous student is Cú Chulainn. Among the arts she teaches Cú Chulainn is something called the mighty salmon leap. She also gives him a weapon called the Gáe Bulg - a type of barbed spear launched through water - and instructs him in its use. Its aim is true; it cannot miss its target. No adequate defence against it exists. Once it enters the victim's body, it's thirty barbed points expand; they cannot be removed without excruciatingly cutting away flesh.

Scáthach is the shadowy one. The gaelic word Scath means "a shadow or phantom" (although it may once also have had further implications, now lost). It may also be related to the word scathe. Scáthach is a prophetic goddess: as Cú Chulainn leaves her island, she fortells his future.

It was her job to look over the battlefield after a war for the souls of the dead to lead them on the Death Journey. Although she had a preference for warriors, she would also make sure to collect any wandering soul that had gotten lost on the path. As such, it was said that she is helpful when mourning for the death of a loved one, as she leads the dead through the dangers found on the path to the Land of Eternal Youth.

If she collected any wrong-doer on her journey, she would leave them on an island where they would pay for their crimes and learn their lessons.

She was not only a warrior goddess, but was also an accomplished blacksmith, healer, and prophetess. She would use “The Light of Foresight” to see into the future. Many people have tried to go on vision quests to see her, but it is said that most get lost, as she does not guide the living.

Realm: Scáthach lives in Dún Scáith, the Fort of Shadows, described as being on the Isle of Skye. The portal may be on Skye, but her home is beyond the Veil in the Otherworld. It is a difficult journey; one must cross a bridge and pass many tests to reach it.

From: Encyclopedia of Spirits and other sources

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