Carmán, was a warrior and sorceress from Athens who made a bid to invade and destroy the fruits of Ireland with the aid of Her three Sons before being defeated by the Tuatha Dé Danann and buried in Leinster. This triple aspect and Carmán’s dark traits are reflected in the Irish Goddess of the Underworld, the Mórrígan (Great Queen), and Her offspring such as Her serpentine Son, Meichi, who suffered a triple slaying at the waters of the Three Sisters in Leinster; the realm of Carmán.
Carmán’s story is told in a poem of the Metrical Dindshenchas which states that She died in 600 BCE. The Tuatha Dé Danann instituted the Óenach Carmán, or Festival of Carmán, held in Her memory every three years at Lughnasadh, 1st August. The Irish God, Lugh, established a harvest festival and funeral games, named the Áenach Tailteann, in honour of His foster Mother, the Goddess Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion having cleared the plains of Ireland for agriculture. These festivities were believed to have been established between 1829-1600 BCE and continued to be observed at Telltown up until as late as 1770 CE when they were later expressed as the Taillten Fair. Aspects of these customs continue in present day celebrations of Lugh’s harvest festival called Lughnasadh.
The Mórrígan, Carmán and Tailtiu are mutually associated with the Underworld and the honouring of the Dead. While the Mórrígan is also associated with the land and sovereignty, the festivities in memory of both Carmán and Tailtiu share in both the agricultural focus and the time of year they were observed. Carmán’s origins may lie in Carme, the Latinised form of the Greek Karmê (shearer), a female Cretan spirit who assisted the grain harvest of Demeter’s Cretan predecessor.
The name Karme means “She who cuts the grain,” and derives from keirein, meaning “to cut.” According to Olympian mythology, She was the Mother, by Zeus, of the Minoan virginal huntress Goddess, whom She bore at Kaino. Carme was the Daughter of either Phoenix and Cassiopeia, or of the divine ploughman Euboulos, Son of Karmanor. The duplicates and parallel genealogies are symptoms of the uneasy fit between the Minoan cult, to which Carme belonged, and the Mycenaean cult that superseded it.
A glimpse of Carmán’s landscape including one of the Three Sisters…
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