Aine, Goddess of the Sun
In Wicca today we often associate the sun with the God and the moon with the Goddess but in fact there are many sun Goddesses in many cultures. At the time of Midsummer when the sun is at its peak we connect with that energy in our rituals and our meditations (also in our bar-b-q on the deck!)
Three Celtic Goddesses are associated with the sun, Aine, Brighid and Olwen. Aine was one of the great Irish Goddess who represented the spark of life. Her festival was celebrated on Midsummer’s eve. Later she was remembered in Christian times as the fairy queen in south Munster and she is said to haunt Knockainy Hill there. She has been known by other names, such as the Lady of the Lake, the Goddess of the Earth and Nature, and the Goddess of Luck and Magick. (www.goddesses-guide.com)
Aine was the daughter of Eogabail who was a member of the Tuatha da Danaan and the foster son of the Sea God Manannan Mac Lir. Some other legends say that Aine was married to the Sea God. Aine’s original role was a Sun Goddess, and she is sometimes called “bright,” . It was when she was in that role that she was able to shape-shift into becoming “Lair Derg,” the “Red Mare,” or the horse that never could be outrun. This is analogous with the sun because you can never outrun the sun! (www.angelfire.com)
Traditionally, Sun Goddesses have been known as Goddesses of Love and Fertility, and Aine followed in that tradition with great enthusiasm. It was during a much later period in time that Aine developed the characteristics of a more maternal Moon Goddess, and was believed to guard her followers’ livestock and crops. There are farmers, even today, who perform the exact same rituals that their ancestors performed thousands of years ago. At midsummer, they walk through their fields and wave their torches, in the hope that Aine and her sacred fire might grant them an abundant harvest. Farmers also continue to burn flowers and straw, as another way of honoring Aine, in the hope that she might grant them freedom from illness and evil throughout another turn of the Wheel of the Year.
In her role as a Moon Goddess, Aine was known as a Goddess of Agriculture and a Patroness of Crops and Cattle. An ancient myth exists which describes how Aine sat in her birthing chair on August 1st, and gave birth to a sheave of grain. It is believed that by performing that act, Aine gave the gift of grain to the people of Ireland.
Aine has always been an extremely popular Goddess, and she had a reputation for being exceedingly friendly with human men. People would worship Aine in the hope that she might bestow sexuality, fertility, abundance and prosperity upon them. Those attributes have often been connected with Love Goddesses, and Aine took her primary responsibility, that of encouraging human sexuality, very seriously.
Aine was well known for teaching humans about love, human love and divine love. In the first way, Aine become lovers with human men, and in the second way, which was the one that she used more frequently, she taught humans how to walk in spirituality, unity and love with the Goddess Danu or Anu. This is a very important part of Aine’s cult because she can deepen the love and connection we have with the Ever-Living-One, the Great Mother Goddess Anu.
When Aine did offer her love to human men she conceived a great many children, and by doing so, it is believed that she gave birth to a magickal Faerie-Human race.
Many stories exist regarding Aine and her mortal lovers. One day, while Aine was swimming in a river, an Irish Earl who just happened to be passing by stole her cloak, and then refused to return it to her until she agreed to marry him. With a heavy heart Aine agreed to his terms, and she did, indeed, keep her word and marry him, and some time later she gave birth to a baby boy. In the hope of gaining her freedom from the Earl, Aine struck a deal with him, the terms of which stated that he could never show even the slightest bit of surprise at anything their son might do, because if he did Aine would gain her freedom.
Eventually, the day finally arrived when the Earl witnessed his son perform the most amazing trick, jumping in and out of a bottle! He found himself unable to hide his surprise from anyone so Aine gained her freedom, and she returned back to the sidhes to live happily, once again, with the Faeries. Her son flew away in the form of a wild goose. This story is only one example of how intelligence, ingenuity and determination, which are all qualities of the Divine Feminine, were able to aid Aine, thereby allowing her to free herself from the Earl’s patriarchal bondage.
Like many other Celtic Goddesses, Aine can be seen as a singular Triple Goddess, based upon the various powers she possesses. In her first aspect, Aine has the ability to reward her followers with the gift of poetry or, for those that she deems unworthy, with the curse of madness. Aine’s second aspect is attributed to her association with lakes and wells, and with her ability to heal. The waters, which come from “Tobar-Na-Aine,” or “Aine’s Well,” are known to have life-restoring qualities. Finally, in her third aspect, Aine takes on the guise of a Dark Goddess, with the ability to appear to mortal men as a beautiful woman, which leaves little room for doubt why she has frequently been called the Leannan Sidhe, which means the “Sweetheart of the Sidhe,” or the “Faerie Lover.” Aine is also a part of a Triple Goddess trinity, consisting of herself, and her two sisters, Fenne and Grian(meaning sun). When a full moon rises, lighting up the evening sky, the three of them ride their horses from out from their sidhes, to laugh and play in Lough Gur.
- Shape-shifting: petition Aine to help you with shape-shifting work.
- Fertility and abundance: burn straws and flowers on an altar dedicated to Aine to ask for fertility and abundance
- Love: petition Aine to bring the right lover (human) to you
- Freedom from an abusive relationship: Aine can help you to find your freedom from an abusive relationship, but she won’t help you to fix that relationship. It is also possible that she will punish the abusive person, so make sure that you who are petitioning are free from guilt.
- Spiritual Advancement: Petition Aine to deepen your connection and understanding with the Goddess Anu.
- For Poetic Inspiration: If you have writers block Aine can help you with poetic inspiration
- Healing: Take a cup or cauldron of water and bless it in Aine’s name. Use this water for healing. (You could travel to Ireland and visit Aine’s well to obtain water also.)
Monaghan, Patricia.1990. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. Llewellyn publications.