The hearth was the center of the home in Celtic days, both literally and figuratively. The family, or clan, was the core of the Celtic tradition. This resonated strongly with Cinnia, who feels the same way about her own family. Family comes first! The hearth was where family came to gather, it was where meals were cooked, stories were told, and songs were sung.
The hearth also is where the fire is kept burning. Fire helps keep the family together as it is used to cook meals and heat the home. Fire, however, is also symbolic of the creative fire that burns within. It therefore, also fuels the stories and songs that are told while the family is gathered.
Most of the old Celtic tales were only passed down orally and were often accompanied by the harp. Harpists traveled the countryside and visited local homes and manors to tell tales of events and adventures. The harp is one of the most popular of the Celtic instruments, so much so, that it became the national symbol of Ireland. It is believed that the harp reflects the immortality of the soul.
I can’t wait to hear a Celtic tale told in the traditional manner, by the fire of the hearth with the music of the harp to guide it. The sound of the harp is so mesmerizing. I often get lost in the melodies when I listen to it.
Cinnia gathered with others around the mantle and fire. Dinner was served and as the group began to eat their meal the song and tale began. It was the tale of how the harp came to be.
Dagda, the Good God, owned a magical harp. Only he was able to play it. With the harp he could harness the seasons, remove fear from his warriors in battle, and heal their wounds and restore their energy once the battle had ended. During one such battle the harp was left unguarded and stolen by the enemy. Dagda with Lugh, God of Light, and Ogma, God of Art, went to the enemy camp to retrieve it. The three were far outnumbered but Dagda beckoned to the harp and the harp sprang to his outstretched arms. He then struck the harp playing the Music of Mirth causing the enemy warriors to roar with laughter but when the music stopped they advanced on the three men. So Dagda stuck the harp again playing the Music of Sorrow and all the warriors broke down in tears. But again when the music stopped they advanced on the three men. Dagda struck the harp for the third time playing the Music of Sleep. The enemy warriors all fell to a deep slumber and the three men were able to make their escape.