Friday, May 18, 2007

The Lorica of Lugh Lamhfadha

The lorica or ‘shielding’ has a long and venerable history in Irish Gaelic spirituality. It is known primarily as a morning prayer of protection, oft used by Christian saints such as Patrick to guard themselves against the evils of the world. However, this chanting and lyrical form of poetry predates monotheism in Ireland and can be traced to the incantations and oaths recited by warriors before battle. Adopted then by the ‘soldiers of Christ’ in their spiritual warfare. The Pagan intention was to assume an impenetrable sphere or shield of energy around themselves, much like armor, and this power was one bestowed upon an individual by the gods supreme, as can be seen in this exchange between Conchobar and the hero Cuchulainn in the Tain:

“I swear by my Gods whom I worship, they shall all come under me… just as I have put myself under the shielding and protection of the Gods.”

The other great lorica is ‘Rop tu mo Baile’ or ‘Be Thou my Vision’ attributed to the 8th century High-Poet of Ireland and Christian saint Dallan Forghail, (born 830 CE and martyred in 898). Dallan was famed for preserving and reforming the ancient Bardic Order of Druids, and writing the eloquent biography of St. Columcille ‘Amra Cholium Chille.’ Dallan’s lorica focuses specifically on adopting virtues as a shield, and it is in this context that I created my own chant, together with the use of his primary phrase ‘thou vision’ as a repeating mantra. A short gloss in Dallan’s Amra gives a further insight into his beautiful and poetic mind with relations to virtue:

“Fo is a name for good and for honor;
Fi is a name for evil and for disobedience;
An is true and it is no weak knowledge,
Iath is diadem and iath is land.

Mur means multitude yonder in the law,
Coph is victory, it is a full right word,
Du is a place, du means thy right,
Cail is protection and cul is chariot.”

Other valuable references to Gaelic virtues are found in the ‘Audacht Morainn Mac Moin’ or The Testament Addressed to Feradach find Fechtnach Mac Craumthann Nia Nar, and ‘The Instructions of King Cormac to his son Cairbe.’ Specific legal obligations are to be found amongst the ancient Brehon laws in the ‘Senchus Mor.’ My Lorica is directed toward the magnificent warrior god Lugh, who I see as the Lord of protection, of borders and boundaries, the archetypal hero who appears in the ‘Cath Magh Tuireadh’ or 2nd Battle of Moytura in which he joins forces with the Tuatha de Danann against the malevolent Fomhoraigh. Such are the brilliant and shining strengths of Lugh that the Gaels could never relinquish their believe in him, even after conversion to Christianity, and thereafter adopted him in the guise of St. Michael the Archangel… another formidable combatant and knight of the good against the darkest cosmic forces. I also drew guidance from the nine pagan virtues elucidated in the dedicant program of ‘Ar n’Draiocht Fein’ and then added a grounding plaint wherein the bodily existence is compared to, and woven into the essential elements of existence (as perceived within Celtic lore) and these were taken from a manuscript in the British Museum in London; BM MS 478 Folio 7a. Combined as a whole, I feel that the lorica kindles a powerful and presiding strength of purpose from which no fear could be adopted in the course of one’s daily activities:

The Lorica (Shielding) of Thiarna Lugh Lamhfhada

Rop Tu Mo Baile (Be Thou My Vision, Pron: rop thu may valley)
Shining Valor-God
Balm my senses, with
Sun-blessed tincture
Of visions beyond boundaries

Rop Tu Mo Baile
Bless me with Wisdom
Truth’s deepest well
Shimmering Salmon of destiny
Against slander and deceit

Rop Tu Mo Baile
Bless me with sacred thought
All encompassing piety
Immersed in Natures flow
Against invasion and chaos.

Rop Tu Mo Baile
Bless my heart with courage
Stag leaping with sure power
Swift songs through a glade
Against shadows of weakness.

Rop Tu Mo Baile
Bless my throne of integrity
A seat of high-honor, nobility
From the eternal stone of oaths
Against lips of liars.

Rop Tu Mo Baile
Bless me with oak sturdiness
Rule of discipline and dedication
Perseverance in cross gales
Against lazy cots of sleep.

Rop Tu Mo Baile…
Bless me with a hospitable hand
Greetings generous, healing touch
Charity and purity unbound
Against gluttonous disease and famine.

Rop Tu Mo Baile
Bless with a calm lake of moderation
Weighed on scales of harmony
A hawk balanced in flight
Against slavery and desire.

Rop Tu Mo Baile…
Bless me with fertile eloquence
Poetry of creation seeds
Woven tapestry of fine words
Against blunt tools and barren land.

Rop Tu Mo Baile.

"May my face glow with the intensity of the Sun’s forge, my back blossom with the strength of the tree of life, my flesh be enriched as the deep earth, my blood flow and surge like the oceans wide, my thoughts translucent and graceful as the clouds, my breath fragrant as fresh spring winds, my bones firm and sturdy as mountain stones, my mind tranquil as the phases of the moon, my head in amazement of the blanketed stars at night… and may my spirit remain pure and truthful, within and without, as a living spark of energy in the center with all things of beauty and passion."

Biodh Se

David D.

No comments: