Áine (pronounced: 'awn-ya'), is the Celtic Goddess of Summer and Wealth. She represents the sun, love and fertility, with the power to ensure plentiful crops and harvests.
Áine has always been associated with County Limerick in the western part of Ireland where the Hill of KnockÁiney (Cnoc Áine) is named for her. Her name is also remembered at Toberanna (Tobhar Áine) in Tyrone, at Dunsany (Dun Áine) in Louth and Lissan (Lios Áine) in Derry.
Áine is among the most revered and powerful of Irish mythological Goddesses!
She is remembered for overcoming adversity and exacting powerful revenge on the man who wronged her.
Ailill Aulom was the ruling King of Munster but was restless and worried as he had a problem. Every time he would sleep he would awaken to find that the grass in his fields would not grow. This was a potentially devastating problem for the King as the grass provided food for the livestock, ensuring food for the people.
Ferchess the Druid advised him to visit KnockÁiney at Samhain Eve, to seek out the restorative powers of that place. He set out for KnockÁiney and arrived with the expectation of his problems being solved.
But fate was to intervene and the fragilities of the human spirit were to collide with the power of the creatures from the Otherworld.
Ailill fell into a drowsy half-sleep and later found himself sleep-walking when he encountered a beautiful vision. It was Áine, the daughter of Eoghabal of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
Human desire overwhelmed him and he shed his royal dignity, driven by lust. He set upon the lone woman and forced himself upon her.
Áine was outraged and exacted immediate revenge. In her fury she bit off his ear, maiming the King, marking him for life.
In Celtic tradition only a perfect unblemished person could attain the role of High King of Ireland. Ailill had been maimed. He was imperfect. Áine had delivered a devastating blow to her attacker.
From that time on the King was known as Aulom meaning 'one-eared', and could never reign over Ireland. Despite this his descendants became known as the Eoghanachta, and were a powerful Irish dynasty centered at Cashel, dominating the southern part of Ireland.
It is in this manner that the legend of Áine grew. She became associated with the ability to grant power and sovereignty.
Áine is also known as the Queen of the Fairies and as Áine Chlair (Áine of the Light). Incredibly, rites in her honour were held as recently as 1879, where the Midsummer rituals were performed by the native Irish, ashes from their fires being spread onto the fields, ensuring fertility and an abundance of crops.
Áine! Among the most powerful and beautiful of the Celtic Goddesses.