Message From The Author
The Magic and Miracles Behind Linda Windsor's Award-winning
Fires of Gleannmara Series
By Linda Windsor
History and legend are as hard to discern as magic and miracle in the Ireland of my Fires of Gleannmara series, where the Celtic and Christian worlds come together to give birth to the Golden Age of Ireland.
It was during this time that druids and priests alike collaborated to record and preserve mankind's histories, legends, and cultures from destruction. But how did a pagan world filled with mysterious rituals, magic, and their own version of sacred knowledge peacefully merge with early Christianity?
When the first Christian missionaries arrived in Ireland, it had already long been a melting pot; a place of refuge and opportunity for persecuted Christians, Jews, and scholars escaping the barbarian hordes that plunged Europe into the Dark Ages.
While the druids were perceived by the Christians as pagans for allowing the people their ritual worship of the sea, earth and sun, the druids nonetheless believed in one creator (who lived in the Sun); in life after death; and that the world had been created in a perfect order which, when disrupted by evil, had to be restored. Restoration of the divine order, they claimed, was their calling.
Imagine the wonder of the Christian missionaries, when the Irish druidsthe priests and professionals of the ancient Celtsrevealed a knowledge and recognition of Christ! Their learned ancestors had recorded the birth and death of the Son of God after divining the star of Bethlehem and witnessing the darkness on the day of His crucifixion.
As a result of these religious and historical discussions with their Christian contemporaries, most druids and Celtic kings chose to abandon their prestigious positions of power and wealth to enter the humble and meager existence of the Christian priesthood in great numbersand to counsel the Celts to worship the one Creator.
There were some rogue druids who rejected the notion of being reduced to teachers. Despite the fact that their own mentors had predicted the coming of Christianity and the end of their order, these druids were prepared to fight all the way. They enjoyed prestige, profit, and power and refused to share their superior knowledge of nature and sciencesome orders of druids even claimed to have created the earth and boasted a knowledge of how to disturb and/or restore the natural order of things.
What a time in the land! As the latter clung to the old ways so as to control the common folk, the new Christian order debunked their spells and charms. The Evil Eye was exposed as the power of suggestion, or hypnosis. Much of the druids' divining was shown to merely be the workings of a keen eye and a sense of the ways of man, beast and the elements.
This is why the Fires of Gleannmara series reads like fantasy in places, yet champions nondenominational truths in the ageless conflict of good vs. evil. Whether evildoers pit magic or human treachery against the heroes and heroines of Gleannmara, their efforts are to no avail. Poisons fail. Arrows pass through the bodies of intended victims, marring the clothing but not the flesh.
The hero's party walks through an ambush, evading the eyes of the murderers, who see only animals passing before them. Fierce warriors stand guard over and accompany endangered ones. The unseen triumphs over a world bound by man's sensory perception.
The miracles portrayed in the Fires of Gleannmara series are actually attributed in the historical records of Ireland to the Christian priests who evangelized the British Isles and the Germanic and Nordic lands during Ireland's Golden Age. Yet it is misleading to attribute their success solely to their miraculous deedswhich came through God's gracefor equally important were the brotherly love and fellowship these saints displayed among their fellow men. They lived what they taught and shared respectfully with those who lived by different beliefsa striking contrast to the heavy-handed, un-Christlike condemnation that characterizes many of the historical accounts of the later Crusades and Inquisition.
As I have in my books Maire (5th C.), Riona (6th C.), and Deirdre (7th C.), out this month, I leave the magic and miracle, history and legend for you to decide! I hope you'll come visit Celtic Ireland in its Golden Age, the setting for romance and adventure, where my heroes and heroines vie for true love. And if the tidbits of history in this article have intrigued you, the books include extensive reference notes and bibliographies where you can learn more.
Linda Windsor is the author of 23 historical novels and contemporary romantic comedies for Kensington's Zebra and Pinnacle lines and, currently, Multnomah Publishers. The first in the series, Maire, won the Reviewers' International Organization's Dorothy Parker award for Excellence in the inspirational category and was a finalist in the secular historical fiction category as well. DEIDRE was reviewed last month (RT # 217).
The Legend of the Fairy People
Most historical fantasy readers have heard of the magical Fairy people, legends from Ireland's ancient past. But how many know that this race can be traced back to Noah (as in Noah and The Ark)? After the flood, the descendants of Noah's sons (Japheth and Shem) migrated to Ireland. Shem's heirs became a worrisome bunch of pirates called the Fomorians. Japheth's lineage developed into three groups of people: the Firbolgs, the Britons, and a godlike race of people called the Tuatha DeDanans, the latter triumphing for dominance of the island in the Bronze Age.
Scholars today feel that these people possessed an uncanny knowledge of science and medicine, which made their works appear magical to the common masses. Magic or not, the Milesian Celts and their druids from Iberia conquered the DeDanans in the Iron Age and the "Fair People" as the the DeDanans became called, faded into legend, driven, some say, underground or into caves, shape-changed into a fairy race.
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