Settling The Manor At Tara: Part 4

Part 1: Introduction 
Part 2: Models and Mandalas of Contemporary Initiation
Part 3: The Provinces and Their Attributes
Part 4: The Masters and the Treasures
Part 5: Elemental Attributes
Part 6: Thelemic Initiation Through The Provinces
Part 7: Afterword

Part 4: The Masters and the Treasures

Other corresponding layers can be added to this framework of the five provinces, being the four directions and the centre. Associated with this realm of fourfolds (and centre) is another ancient description – of four ancient cities, four masters, and four jewels or treasures. We meet the masters at the opening of Cath Mag Tuired, The Battle of Moytura, and in the Yellow Book of Lecan (in prose form):

There were four cities in which the Tuatha Dé Danann learnt wisdom and magic, for wisdom and magic and deviltry were of service to them. These are the names of the cities: Failias and Findias, Goirias and Murias. From Failias was brought the Lia Fail, which is at Tara, and which used to cry out under each king who assumed the sovereignty of Ireland. From Gorias was brought the sword which belonged to Nuada. From Findias was brought the spear of Lug. And from Murias was brought the caldron of the Dagda.

Four wizards were in these cities. Fessus was in Falias, Esrus was in Gorias, Uscias was in Findias, and Semias was in Murias. From them the Tuatha Dé Danann learnt wisdom and knowledge. No battle was maintained against the spear of Lug or against him who had it in his hand. No-one escaped from the sword of Nuada after he had been wounded by it, and when it was drawn from its warlike scabbard, no-one could resist against him who had it in his hand. Never went an assembly of guests away unsatisfied from the caldron of the Dagda. And the Lia Fail, which is at Tara, never spoke except under a king of Ireland.[1]

Later in the same piece Fessus is referred to by the name Morfessa, also tallying with the other account in Cath Mag Tuired. The text continues:

Four cities,-—just their renown-—
They held in sway with great strength.
On this account they passionately made competition
For learning their genuine wisdom. 

Failias and bright Gorias,
Findias (and) Murias of great prowess,
From which battles were won outside,
(Were) the names of the chief cities.

Morfis and noble Erus,
Uscias and Semiath, ever-fierce,
To name them,—-a discourse of need–
(These were) the names of the sages of nehle wisdom. 

Morfis (was) the poet of Failias itself,
In Gorias (was) Esrus of keen desires),
Semiath (was) in Murias, the fortress of pinnacles,
(And) Uscias (was) the fair seer of Findias. 

Four presents (were fetched) with them hither,
By the nobles of the Tuatha DO Danann:
A sword, a stone, a caldron of worth,
(And) a spear for the death of great champions.

From Failias (came) hither the Lia Fail,
Which shouted under the kings of Ireland.
The sword in the hand of the nimble Lug
From Gorias (it was procured), -— a choice of vast riches.

 From far-away Findias over the sea
Was brought the deadly spear of Nuada.
From Murias (was conveyed) a huge and mighty treasure,
The caldron of the Dagda of lofty deeds.

The King of Heaven, the King of feeble men,

First thing to strike me with the stories is its foreignness. The four cities are described as being in the Northern Isles. In itself, vague mythological landscapes and happenings may not seem unusual, but for Ireland, and the people in Ireland the myths are integral to the land. Places still bear the name and memory of what was purported to have happened there. Ancient mythological cities and places of fantastical deeds often have very identifiable sites, often with archaeological evidence that they were places of significance. So for four mythological cities to be described as the source of knowledge and occult power with no physical coordinates on the land is most unusual.

Not only are they not on the land, but if we travel Northwards, we do not find a physical correlate in any Northern European sites.

From these three components, being the four masters or wizards, the four cities, and the four treasurers we can begin to look at these elements.

City Master Treasure
Falias Morfessa/ Fessus Stone (Lia Fal)
Gorias Esras Spear of Lugh
Findias/ Finias Uiscias Sword of Nuada
Murias Semias Dagdas Cauldron

We can examine these through the lenses of etymology, mythology and context to discern some of the significance of these components. Isolde Carmody[2] published some of her etymological findings around the names, and they are integrated into the following.

Falias

Fail is an antiquated term for Ireland. It is echoed in the modern political party Fianna Fail, traslated as Irelands warriors. It has its etymological roots in the Irish word for fence or enclosure.

Morfessa/ Fessus

In most sources the Master is described as Morfis or Morfessa. This appears to have its roots in mór, “great”, and fis, “knowledge” or “wisdom”

Stone of Ireland (Lia Fal)

The Lia Fal is literally the stone of Ireland. It is the stone said to cry out from beneath the Kings of Ireland. It was located at the Hill of Tara. A stone still tops the hill though it is unlikely it is the original Lia Fal.

Gorias

Gor is an adjective with the root meaning “warm”, and may denote a place of warmth, either physical or emotional.

Esras

In her analysis Isolde Carmody says the following: “This seems to derive from essair, an abstract noun from as-ser-n, “strewing, littering”.  As a noun, essair refers to things strewn about, particularly rushes or straw strewn on a floor or palette for bedding.  The name of this “teacher” can be understood in one of two ways: either as a teacher who “strews” or scatters knowledge about, or as one who provides a comforting bed in his warm (gor) city.”

Spear of Lugh

In the texts the spear and sword are sometimes switched. As we have taken a particular text above we have attributed the spear to Gorias and Esras. Is is described as an unstoppable or undefeatable weapon and has also been described as the Spear that Roars for Blood.

Findias/ Finias

Probably coming from the root word Find meaning fair or white. We also find it in the name Find Mac Umal (Finn or Fionn Mac Chuill in modern Irish) the leader of the Fianna who ate the salmon of knowledge and who was illuminated. The white or fair of find may be a reference to illumination and there are many correlates between Finn and the poet bard Taliesin in Welsh myth who is described as bright of brow. Carmody also notes: “As a colour-word, find is often applied to fast-flowing water (literally, “white water”) and forms an element of many river-names”

Uiscias

Most likely has its roots in Uisce, the Irish word for water. It refers to water as a substance, ie I drink water as opposed to bodies of water like sea, river, lake etc.

Sword of Nuada

Also described as an unstoppable weapon.

Murias

Carmody identifies two different possible roots being muir, “sea”, and the the second is múr, “wall, rampart”. She further speculates it could refer to an island fortress or a fortress by the sea such as Dún Beag in Co. Kerry.

Semias

In this instance the most likely root word is sem denoting a rivet or support.

Dagdas Cauldron

Dagdas caulrdon is a cauldron of plenty and is linked with hospitality, but the word for cauldron, coire can also be used to denote swirling. Cauldrons and wells are often associated with knowledge, for example the shannon pot and the Welsh cauldron of Ceridwen.

* * *

There are several issues with the correspondence of the etymology of names and weapons, for example, Uiscias, with clear etymological links with the Irish word for water, would be  more readily associated with the Cauldron. Some have suggested the attributions have been bastardised from their original links and meanings, and perhaps even their original groupings. This was our conclusion when looking at some of these elements and our work has led to attempts to realign the correspondence. These efforts are experimental and necessarily idiosyncratic but useful and a usable system. We place Morfessa in the North, Semias in the East, Esras in the south and Uiscias in the West. We do not have directional attributes for these cities and treasures, but working in a modern syncretic tradition we can look at the treasures in the wider context of the Western tradition and begin to form a modern myth map which allows us to work with these attributes in a modern way. This next step is taken in the next piece in looking at the Classical elements and their possible place in a provincial cosmology.

Part 1: Introduction 
Part 2: Models and Mandalas of Contemporary Initiation
Part 3: The Provinces and Their Attributes
Part 4: The Masters and the Treasures
Part 5: Elemental Attributes
Part 6: Thelemic Initiation Through The Provinces
Part 7: Afterword

NOTES:

[1] Vernam Hull. “The Four Jeweles of the Tuatha Dé Danann.” ZCP. vol. XVIII. NY: G.E. Stechert Co. 1930.

[2] Sources from: Four Cities, Four Teachers, Four Treasures by Isolde Carmode (http://storyarchaeology.com/four-cities-four-teachers-four-treasures/ – accessed 14th September 2016)