Inspirational Áine: Celtic Goddess of Love, Healing, and Queen of the Faeries
Who Is Áine?
Áine (pronounced AHN-yah) is the Celtic Goddess of love, beauty, fertility, the Sun, and cattle. Some sources say she is also a Moon Goddess. Her name has several meanings: good; bright; joy; splendor; radiance; and glory. She is associated with summertime—the summer solstice and the two days following are her sacred days. For centuries, people would climb the 528-foot hill Knock Áine to chant and dance to welcome the fiery sphere into the sky. Not far from the holy hill is Lough Gur, the lake sacred to Áine. This hill came to be named for her when she helped an ancient tribe protect the hill against invaders.
She rules over the element of water, as she is known for hydrotherapy healing. Áine's sacred animal is the swan. People will submerge themselves into her lake and invoke her name to heal their various ailments. She has several nicknames: Áine Clí, Áine Chlair, Leanan Sidhe (Faery Lover or Sweetheart Faery, depending on the source). She is said to carry a harp, and when her music fell upon deserving ears, the person would be stuck with divine inspiration. For those who are unworthy, would go mad when they hear her heavenly music.
Some sources say that she is the Fairy Queen of Munster and that she had so many lovers she mothered the entire race of faeries that reside around Lough Gur. She is also said to be the mother of Merlin, possibly. One legend holds that she did have a magical son, however. She was kidnapped by the Earl of Desmond, and she finally agreed to marry him, only after he promised to never be surprised by any children she bore him. One night there was a great feast, and Áine impressed the guests by jumping over the entire table and the seated guests. The Earl turned to his son, Geróid Íarla and asked if he could do that. Geróid said that he couldn’t, but the embarrassed Earl told him there was no way he was going to let a woman show him up and ordered him to try it. The son stood, but instead of jumping over the table and guests, when he leaped into the air he shrunk so small he landed in a bottle. Then he jumped out of the bottle and when he landed he was back to his human stature. The Earl was outraged and astonished. He turned to his son and said “...Now you have forced me to leave you”1. And with that, he stood and left the banquet hall.
In Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards, Áine’s card is titled Leap of Faith. It says “Take a risk, and put your heart’s true desire into action!”. In the booklet providing further descriptions about the cards, Virtue writes that you should call upon Áine whenever you need guidance and the courage to take risks.
Leanan Sidhe, Faery Lover
It has been said that she is a guise of the Morrigan, a Celtic War goddess that even in her most tender aspect displays “tough love”. Áine is a gentle, nurturing energy, however. When I do path work with her as a Morrigan, I see her as the maiden aspect of Anu, the Mother Goddess. They have quite a number of similarities, and their worship centered in Munster. But I am not here to debate whether or not she is The Morrigan.
I see Áine as the archetypal Lover goddess. The Lover teaches us that the body is sacred, and that sex is divine. It induces ecstasy, and often the end result is a new life. That is truly divine. One of the first thoughts I had when I first gave birth to my son was “This is Heaven.”. She teaches us, most importantly, to love ourselves. That is one of the most important life lessons. You can never truly love another person until you love yourself. Áine teaches us to stand proud and to never shy away from our reflections. She can teach men, who have been raised to be stoic, proud, and strong how to be sensitive, humble, and gentle.
I find her energy to be quite invigorating, as she embodies the essence of womanhood unrestrained. She does what she wants when she wants. She has a sexual appetite that could make Hugh Heffner blush, but that doesn’t change the fact that she is a goddess of the people – she is loved by so many.
For as long as I can remember, my grandparents told me I had to find a man that “could take care of me”. And since I was a small child, my grandmother taught me how to do things that were the ‘woman’s responsibilities’. Even my mother perpetuated the idea, assigning our chores based on what the men ‘should’ do, and what women ‘should’ do. I live alone with my son, so now I do everything. Take out the trash, take care of small repairs (thanks to YouTube and Google half the time) as well as the ‘woman’s’ jobs, like cleaning, cooking, laundry etc. Whenever I feel as though I would be better off with a partner, I think of Áine. I think of how proud and strong she is. In Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards, Áine’s card is titled Leap of Faith. It says, “Take a risk, and put your heart’s true desire into action!”. In the booklet providing further descriptions about the cards, Virtue writes that you should call upon Áine whenever you need guidance and the courage to take risks. Áine is a tender, loving goddess, but she is not one to be crossed. When a king of Munster, King Ailill Olom forced himself upon Áine, she tore off one of his ears! In Celtic society, a king could not have any mutilations. So, by removing his ear, she revoked his power. After all, a king who would rape anyone is not a king worthy of the crown.
As I aforementioned, the Summer Solstice is Aine’s Sabbat. On the morning of June 21st, I will be welcoming the golden fiery sun as it rises, invoking Áine as I dance with joy. I will be giving thanks for my son, my home, my lush green grass and my flower garden. I will cast a spell for Self Love, to remind myself that I am perfect, just the way Anu designed me. The spell will give me the courage to take risks when it means those risks are what is best for my son and me.
Áine is the perfect goddess for love spells. I do not think love spells on another person are ethical, as it restrains their free will. But if you wish to bring a lover to you, whoever it may be, Áine is the goddess to call upon. She can teach you the secrets of sex magick, one of the most potent forms of magick as it utilizes your life force.
The simplest way to honor Áine is to light a red or gold candle. FIre is sacred to her, so offering her flames of a candle is perfectly acceptable. Being the Mother of Faeries, she appreciates the same offerings as the Good Folks do: milk, honey, sparkly jewelry, shining gemstones.
Áine teaches us to embrace our inner flames, so honor her by taking a day to celebrate yourself. Spend hours working on your favorite creative hobby. Mine is painting. Work on something you're passionate about, whether it be knitting or picking up litter. There is no wrong way to embrace your inner fire.
For spellwork, Áine can help with inspiration, healing, abundance, and anything relating to love. Check the table below for correspondences for ideas for decorating an altar for Áine.
Unique to Áine
garnet, rose quarts
Locations Sacred to Áine
The magickal lake sacred to Áine.
Endnotes and References
1. Knock Áine, Voices from the Dawn.
Alexander, S. (2018). Find Your Goddess: How to Manifest the Power and Wisdom of the Ancient Goddesses in Your Everyday Life. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
Jone, M. (2009). Áine Clí. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from Jones's Celtic Encyclopedia: http://www.maryjones.us/jce/aine1.html
Knock Aine. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from Voices from the Dawn: https://voicesfromthedawn.com/knock-aine/
Reynolds, E. (2017, 30 06). Lough Gur: Home of Áine the Sun Goddess. Retrieved from Celtic Canada: https://celticcanada.com/lough-gur-home-aine-sun-goddess/
Tree and Fairy Trail. (2018, 06 01). Retrieved from LoughGur.com: http://loughgur.com/tree-fairy-trail/
Woodfield, S. (2011). Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications .
© 2018 Amanda Wilson