Teagasca, an Morrigan, Haunted Summer

Here are a few things I want to share.

I recently got C. Lee Vermeers book Teagasca: The Instructions of Cormac Mac Airt (Faoladh Books). It’s a new translation of Kuno Meyer’s 1909 translation of Tecosca Cormaic with lots of insightful annotations. I haven’t finished it yet, but see this provides a contemporary understanding of these wisdom instructions that I find an improvement upon the translation published by Thomas Cleary (The Counsels of Cormac, 2004). Vermeers writes that there are at least seven of these “mirrors for princes” in Irish tradition, including The Testament of Morann and the Precept Teachings of Cú Chulainn, all of which he plans on doing. This is an excellent start.


And the second (corrected) edition of By Blood, Bone, and Blade: A Tribute to the Morrigan, published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina (they have a line of good books for polytheists), is out now. It’s a devotional anthology, and as once can expect there’s a wide range in terms of quality and insight, but the following essays alone make it a worthwhile buy: P. Sufenas Virius Lupus’ “The Morrigan and Cú Chulainn: A More Nuanced View of Their Relationship” and eir “The Morrigan, Alecto, and Lamia: Irish Deities and Interpretatio Hibernica of Classical Myth”; and “Musings on the Irish War Goddesses” by Saigh Kym Lambert, which among many important elucidations of the matter of An Morrigan and related deities, also provides a corrective to much of the nonsense about Cú Chulainn and the Great Queen (usually along the lines of she wanted to punish him for not having sex with her).

And this came out back at summer solstice: Interview with Rebecca Buchanan at Eternal Haunted Summer about (mostly) From The Prow of Myth.



12 thoughts on “Teagasca, an Morrigan, Haunted Summer

  1. Thank you for the kind words about Teagasca. I tried to make it as useful a translation as possible, and show the different ways that some of the passages can be taken, as well as provide an interpretation that is particularly useful from the perspective of applying the lessons to lives lived today.

    I did make one small error that you, unknowingly, propagate here, and I’d like to take the opportunity to correct – Meyer’s translation is actually dated 1909. I am not sure how it got messed up in my manuscript, but I repeated it several times. Very embarrassing. I intend to correct it at some point, but the work needed to do so weighed against the actual gain causes me to put it off until other projects get completed.

  2. Sure! I fixed the date here (and looked at my xerox of Meyer, yup, 1909). I know in my own work some little things manage to slip through no matter what, it seems.

    I think it’s great to give contemporary analogues like need for well-regulated markets and non-acceptance of predatory lending. 😉 So much of it is relevant today as then.

  3. I liked Chris’s version a lot better than Cleary’s, as well. Cleary doesn’t even bother trying to talk about the misogynist and problematic aspects of the text, and it definitely needs to be addressed when working with the material for a modern audience.

    1. One of the things that I really hope to see is a robust discussion of the matter of the misogyny and other problem issues found in the text. I began by offering an attempt at explaining them, but the discussion needs to go so much further than was possible for me with translation choices and explanatory footnotes (not to mention that, not being an area of my own specialty, it is likely that I didn’t identify all of the issues that obtain, or handle the ones that I did identify definitively).

      Also, thank you for the compliment.

  4. I’m glad you liked my essays, Finnchuill! They seemed very important ones to write, in my opinion, especially the first, since there’s so much mistaking of sovereignty motifs involved in Cú Chulainn’s life…he never could have been a “true” king (he’s said to be “like a king” in Mesca Ulad, certainly, but that doesn’t seem to have too much weight outside that one text), and wider Celtic and pseudo-Celtic pagandom needs to get that through their heads, and that not every occasion of sex in Irish (or any Celtic) story is a sovereignty goddess myth.

    I hope to get Faoladh’s book soon…and, having studied the various tecoscada, so to speak (though I don’t know if that is the proper plural in this case!), there does need to be more attention to them, so it’s great he is doing this. Cleary’s sucked.

    1. “Tecosca” is the plural, dork. 😉

      Yeah, Cleary did a really poor job, not even counting abridging the thing. He did have good insight, as I recall, into one difficult phrase. I forget which offhand.

      1. Aargh…I was thinking “rosc : roscada :: tecosc : tecoscada,” which is clearly faulty on my part (and no doubt due to lack of sleep and possibly low blood sugar a few hours ago)…I should never have entertained the notion that Old Irish would be at all regular or follow any patterns. 😉

        When can we meet to trade books? I will likely be in Seattle on the afternoon of Saturday, September 20th, if that might be possible for you…

      2. There is the barest of possibilities that I could make it then, but I would not lay odds on it. I still need to come by to more deeply examine and copy that Swedish book and loan you some DVDs while I am so doing. I was in town last weekend, but I was too tired to head over to and search for (since I haven’t been there) the new location of the EBC (and I didn’t happen to have brought it with me anyway – didn’t think about the idea of stopping by until I was already over in Seattle, and by then it was too late to do anything about it).

        OI gives me fits sometimes. I will admit that there are a couple of places where I just threw up my hands and said (in the footnotes), “Well, Meyer says such-and-so, and I have no idea either how he got that or what it might be so I will just trust him on this one”. Only a couple, though, out of 384 footnotes. Plus, there are a couple of times where I went, “I have no idea how Meyer got his translation here, but it looks like this to me plus it makes more sense”, so I feel alright with giving up in those other places. Anyway, I am always open about those things. I want people to be able to more or less follow along.

      3. Sorry, Finnchuill–I should be writing this at Faoladh’s blog, but Blogspot doesn’t like me today, alas…

        So, as far as the other gnomic texts go, are you going to do Audacht Morainn, and then (I’d think, since these ones are all relatively short, and have nowhere near as much written on them as the former, they might all be able to be done in one book) Briathartecosc Con Culainn from Serglige Con Culainn, the bit on warriors from Acallam na Senórach, and the small bit of Cath Airtig? Is there one more, too? I can’t recall at present…

      4. My intention is to eventually do Audacht Morainn, Briatharthecosc Con Culainn, Tecosc Cuscraid, Senbríathra Fithail, Bríathra Flainn Fína, and Fionn’s advice to Mac Lugach in Acallam na Senórach. Some of those I don’t yet have the OI for, but none of them should be difficult to get.

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