Boann

Boann is the spirit of Ireland’s Boyne River, responsible for its creation. Her myth is documented in the twelfth-century History of Places. Boann, whose name is interpreted as “White Cow,” is married to Nechtan, owner and guardian of a Well of Wisdom, which he forbids her to visit. She defies him and walks around it counterclockwise (widdershins). The water in the well reacts explosively, churning and surging upward, turning into a raging river and racing to the sea. Engulfed by the waters, Boann loses an arm, an eye, and a leg and finally, her life. She is transformed into the spirit of the river. It’s a mysterious myth:

• Is the well’s reaction her punishment for breaking a taboo?

• Was she forbidden to visit the well because Nechtan knew what would happen if she did?

• Is the story a later rationale for why Boann is the spirit of the river that bears her name: the story of a defiant, disobedient wife who is drowned is preferable to acknowledging a primordial Pagan river goddess?

ALSO KNOWN AS:

Boand

CLASSIFICATION:

Tuatha Dé Danaan

ANIMAL:

Cow

SACRED SITE:

The Boyne River; her son Angus, Lord of Love, has his palace on her banks.

SEE ALSO:

SOURCE:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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