Céard is Sinnsreachd Ann?
More than three millennia ago, a great and noble people rose from among the many Indo-European tribes and spread throughout much of the ancient world. Their name is synonymous with glory, ferocity, pride, and warrior-poet traditions. They were the Celts. Fierce in battle, they nevertheless possessed an incredibly rich tradition of stories, songs, music, artwork and a social and legal structure far more advanced and effective than many of their contemporaries, even among the classical nations of the Mediterranean. The Celts gave rise to legends and histories that rival the Iliad and the Odyssey for their epic sweep and grandeur, and they changed the very face of the world. Though they were not a predominantly literate people, their stories were preserved by Christian monks and handed down over the generations to give us insight into this ancient people. Those people are not dead, however, nor is their way of life.
Though the Gauls, Galatians, Iberians and Brythons all fell to the cultural scythe of the Roman Empire, a handful of the Celtic nations on the very fringe of Europe survived, preserving their way of life to this very day. The Cymri in Wales, the Gael in Ireland and Scotland, the Bretons, and the Manx remain, keeping their legends, language and way of life alive. However, centuries of migrations have rendered these ancient borders moot, as the Celtic cultures of Europe that survived into the modern age found new homes abroad in the Americas, Australia, and other, more distant lands. Among this Celtic Diaspora are those of us who trace our ancestry to Ireland and Scotland, and embrace our ancestral way of life in the new lands we find ourselves in. This is our story, the tale of our way of life and who we are today, having evolved from our ancient past to the present. We are the Sinsearaithe, and our calling is the cultural faith known as Sinnsreachd.
Sinnsreachd is a cultural and religious movement that revives the pre-Christian religion, including cultural elements, of the Gaelic peoples of Ireland and Scotland from which it and many of its practitioners are descended. Sinnsreachd is a Gàidhlig (Scots-Gaelic) word that means "Customs of the Ancestors", and is a term that truly expresses what it is that we hold dear. Our faith, our culture, our way of life all fall within the bounds of that single word, yet no simple term can ever describe the vastness and complexity that is encompassed in the ways of our people. In simplest terms, Sinnsreachd is a polytheistic folk religion that bases its core cultural, social, and religious doctrine off of the extant customs and superstitions of rural Ireland and Scotland combined with modern restorations of society, culture, and customary law gleaned through research.
The History of Sinnsreachd
Sinnsreachd traces its roots back to the last vestiges of pre-Christian Gaelic culture as recorded by the early Christian monks and preserved in extant folklore throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the lands in which Gaelic immigrants settled. The Gaelic people are descended from a group of Celtic tribes led by the sons of King Miled, also known as Milesius, who came to Ireland from Iberia (what is now known as Spain) sometime in the 9th to 8th century BCE. The members of this tribe were called Milesians, and feature prominently in our legends from Na Scéalta Miotaseolaíochta, the Mythological Cycle of Tales, one of the series of legendary tales that define our history and culture. It is at this time that Sinnsreachd teaches that our ancestors were challenged by the Gods of the Túatha de Dannan to a contest, the prize being Ireland. Ith, one of the sons of Miled, was the first to land in Ireland, and he was presented with a challenge of justice regarding a dispute between mortal kings living in Ireland. He spoke great wisdom and gave just counsel, but the mortal kings were offended by his words and slew him as he returned to his ship, thus opening the door for the next two challenges. These challenges were a contest of arms to allow the Milesians to prove their courage and skill in warfare, and a contest of draíocht, or "druidic" magic to prove their mastery of that art. Angered at the slaying of Ith, the Milesians set sail across the sea from Iberia to Ireland, intent on revenge.
Led by Donn, chief among the sons of Miled, they tried to land on Ireland, but storms and mists kept them from the island. Amairgin the Poet managed to find a way through the mists, and the Milesians made their way to Uisneach in the heart of Ireland. It was there that they came across the goddess Éiriu, who spoke for the Gods of the Túatha de Dannan. She made the pact that, should the Milesians be victorious over the Erainn, the mortal tribes in Ireland who had the blood of the Túatha de Dannan in their veins, the Milesians would still not have Ireland as their own. Only by embracing and honoring the Gods of the Túatha de Dannan and their teachings, and by naming Ireland after Éiriu, would they have Ireland as their own. Amairgin agreed to this, and the Milesians agreed to the pact.
The Erainn and the Milesians agreed that the Tribes of Miled would pull back out to sea the length of nine waves, and then come back to the shores and take Ireland by force if they could. The Milesians did so, and the Erainn used their draíocht to call up winds that drove the Milesian ships further out to sea, keeping them from the shore and sinking the ship of Donn, drowning him and many of his warriors. However, Amairgin wove his draíocht into a song that quelled the winds and the waves, proving their skill with the arts and allowing the Milesians to land in Ireland. They fought against the Erainn under the watchful eye of the Gods of the Túatha de Dannan, winning victories at the battles of Sliabh Mis and Tailtiu. True to their word, the Milesians held to their end of the pact, naming the land Éire, or Éireann, after the Goddess Éiriu. At this point, the Milesians intermarried with the Eriann and their cultures blended. They became a new people, the Gael, and spread throughout Ireland and Scotland.
Over the next several centuries, the era of the Mythologies became the legendary history of the Scéalta Fiannaíochta, the Fenian Cycle of Tales. This was the time of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, leader of the warrior band known as the Fianna. This period gave rise to the establishment of our socio-political structure and ethical values through the Teagasca na Ríthe, or the "Teachings of the Kings". These doctrines were the instructions by Fionn and Cormac Mac Airt, the two greatest heroes Ireland ever knew, about what was and was not proper. Fionn embodied all that was right and great in a warrior, and Cormac all that was proper and righteous of a king. The teachings of these two espouse concepts of fairness, courage, honour, integrity, personal responsibility, moderation in all things except virtues such as these, and instructions on how one should live their life and act if they are to be considered proper warriors and kings. Combined with the Tréanna na hÉireann, the Triads of Ireland (short, tripartite poetic verses describing many things, including wisdom and ethical teachings), these teachings would later become the foundation of Sinnsreachd ethical doctrine.
Over the centuries, the eras of legend gave way to the eras of written history. This is the period recorded in the Scéalaíocht na Ríthe, the Historical Cycle of Tales (literally "Storytelling of the Kings"), in which the first recorded histories of our ancestors emerged. Though our people had no wide-spread writings, the first Christian monks in Ireland recorded the tales from the days of legend as well as the stories of our ancestral Gods. Originally passed by oral tradition, they were recorded alongside the first histories, albeit with Christian revisions in several places in an effort to tie the ancient glory and history of the Gael to this foreign religion. However, had it not been for these monks, Sinnsreachd might well not exist, at least not as strongly as it does today. We owe these early monks our thanks, for in a strange twist of irony the traditions and "heathen" religious beliefs of Sinnsreachd today are based in large part on material recorded in these manuscripts.
The coming of Christianity in the 5th and 6th century CE is seen by the Sinsearaithe as the first blow to the glory of the Gael, for it was the first violation of the pact that the tribes of Miled had made with the Gods of the Túatha de Dannan almost two millennia prior. While the Roman missionary Magonus Sucatus, known to the general public as "Saint Patrick", is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, it took another five centuries for this foreign faith to fully take hold. As it did, however, the sovereignty of Ireland as promised by Éiriu slipped away a little bit at a time. Over the centuries, as Christianity became the predominant religion in Ireland, the non-Christian beliefs became integrated into a distinctly Irish form of religion, the Celtic Church. This hybrid religion displaced the draoithe (more commonly, and mistakenly, called "druids") as the primary spiritual center of many villages, but the draoithe did not entirely disappear until sometime in the 10th or 11th century (as they are still mentioned in 9th century law texts, albeit as a derided class of persons who had become mere hermits.) As this happened, and the worship of the Gods of the Túatha de Dannan waned, more and more invaders came to Ireland seeking to take her from the Gael. Most aggressive and successful of these were the Northmen raiders known as Vikings. While not a true conquering force, these Scandinavian and Norse raiders managed to carve out territory around what is now the city of Dublin. The sovereignty of Ireland was threatened more seriously than ever before.
One of the last major recognitions of the old Gods in Ireland was at the Battle of Cluain Tarbh in 1014 CE. Under Brian Mac Cennétig (a.k.a. Brian Boru), the Irish forces rallied against the Viking invaders. Badh Catha, a battle goddess of the Túatha de Dannan and sister to An Mórríghan, appeared above the heads of the Irish warriors. Recorded by history as "a war-goddess woman-friend", she danced atop the spears of the warriors, foretelling their victory. Yet despite such appearances, recorded as recently as the 14th century at the Battle of Dysert Ó Dea in 1318 CE (in which the Irish drove the Anglo-Norman armies off after her appearance), the Gael abandoned their rightful deities and took on the faith of a middle-eastern god. It is little surprise, then, that by the time the last vestiges of the old faith were virtually extinguished that the sovereignty of Ireland was lost.
Though slower to fade than the indigenous faith of the Gael, the culture of our ancestors suffered as well. The long fall of Gaelic indigenous culture began in October of 1171 CE. On that fateful date, King Henry II of England landed in Ireland with an army of 4,000 soldiers who were there to subjugate the island under the orders of the Church. Under the auspice of the Constitutum domini Constantini Imperatoris (the "Donation of Constantine", an 8th century forged document claiming to be an imperial edict from Emperor Constantine that gave dominion over all of Europe to the pope), Pope Adrian issued a Papal Bull Laudabiliter that placed Ireland under the dominion of King Henry II. This was done on the condition that he bring the island and its people into submission to Rome and eradicate the Celtic Church and its teachings. This began what was to become nearly nine centuries of Anglo-Irish warfare and the subjugation of Irish sovereignty that continues to this day in its annexation by the European Union.
The issuance of the Papal Bull Laudabiliter had far-reaching repercussions. Over the following five centuries, native Gaelic culture faded, kings were reduced to chieftains and, quite often, given English titles to buy their loyalties, and finally the whole of Ireland was invaded and conquered by the English. Beginning in 1541 CE, the English began a campaign of settlement in Ireland that culminated in warfare between the two nations. By 1598, the Irish had been pressed back into the west and the north, with only Ulster remaining a purely Gaelic land. After the defeat of the Irish army at the Battle of Cionn tSáile in 1601, the full brunt of the Anglo invasion began. Sovereignty gone, indigenous faith erased, reduced to mere superstitions and folk tales, indigenous culture reduced to folk customs and hollow echoes of their former vibrancy, the only things Ireland had left that kept her from total absorption by the English were the Irish people and their language. In the mid-17th century, an Englishman named Oliver Cromwell nearly destroyed both of these.
After the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell led forces of the English Parliament (the faction that won out over the Royalists during the Civil War) to Ireland to crush a rebellion there. Starting with the massacre at Droichead Átha, Cromwell used the revolutionary tactics and advanced weaponry of his New Model Army (which was the precursor of the Redcoats that the Americans would fight against a century later in their war for independence) to slaughter the Irish forces en-masse, as well as many civilians. Cromwell's forces defeated the Irish armies and occupied the country, wiping out over a third of the population of Ireland in the process. Cromwell's victory was the final nail in the coffin of the native Gaelic way of life. Afterwards, the native Gaelic land-owning classes, tattered remnants of what they had once been, were finally erased, replaced with English colonists. The use of the Irish language was outlawed, and remained so well into the modern era, and between Cromwell's butchery and the famines and diseases that ravaged the displaced Irish, the population of the island dropped from one-and-a-half million to less than half a million. Over two-thirds of the population of Ireland was dead, and Éiriu wept.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, as the Gael died of starvation and disease, were sold into slavery in the West Indies and Jamaica, or forced into the furthest reaches of Western Ireland, they began to lose touch with their traditions and their roots. Thus began the Diaspora. This term, which means the breaking up and scattering of a people, is applied to the scattering of the Irish people in the period between the 17th and the early 20th centuries. During these three centuries, millions of Irish were forced to emigrate to America, Canada, and Australia by forced relocation, starvation, or economic desperation. Wherever they went, however, many of these Gael took their culture and language with them. In fact, many of those reading this may very well be the descendants of Gael sent into this Diaspora, and may have, hidden in familial customs, echoes of these survivals of elder Gaelic culture.
The Modern Evolution of Sinnsreachd
Sinnsreachd draws on the ancient elements of Gaelic culture and religion as they existed prior to Christianity, but does so in the modern day and age. While the history of the Gael from which Sinnsreachd draws is recorded and quite clear-cut, its direct roots as a modern movement are harder to pinpoint. Though the first vestiges of a resurgence of the faith of the pre-Christian Gael are found in writings from over a century ago, it is hard to determine exactly when academic postulation became faith. Around the same time that many Germanic and Norse indigenous faiths such as Ásatrú began to see a revival, there was a sudden growth in the interest in the ancient faith of the Gael. No greater example of this can be found than the works of Lady Augusta Greggory and William Butler Yeats.
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries these two writers saw in the pre-Christian Irish culture, language, legends, and beliefs a magical and enchanting core that became the centerpiece for their writings and plays. Yeats believed that the lore of the ancient Gods and legendary heroes of our ancestors represented "...high kingly traditions of undying beauty that linked the ancient myth and the life of the folk and (I) saw in the ancient way of life the source from which living culture and imaginative growth should derive..." and he sought to inspire the Irish to greatness, just as the revival of the Icelandic Sagas had inspired the Norse to revive their ancient customs and beliefs. He believed that the state of the Irish at the end of the 19th century was a sorry one, and felt that the ancient customs and beliefs held more value.
Lady Greggory likewise recognized the power and value of the ancient beliefs, writing in her Diaries- "We found startling beliefs & came to the conclusion that Ireland is Pagan, not Christian... This discovery, this disclosure of the folk learning, the folk poetry, the ancient tradition, was the small beginning of a weighty change. It was the upsetting of the table of values, an astonishing excitement."
She wrote many books on the subject, including her penultimate work Gods and Fighting Men, a book that, though flawed in some ways, is seen as canonical to the doctrine of Sinnsreachd to this very day. It was works such as Lady Greggory's Gods and Fighting Men and Cuchulain of Muirthemne that brought the ancient legends of the pre-Christian Irish home to those who had not previously had access to the ancient manuscripts and their medieval copies. In her books, and the writings of Yeats, the Gael could read heroic tales of ancient gods and heroes without the filters of Christianity.
The works of these two authors are generally seen by most of us to be the honorary foundation of the modern Sinnsreachd movement, but not the organized beginning. Unlike contemporary folk religions such as Ásatrú, no Sinsearaithe family established a public organization until the late 1980's, and thus Sinnsreachd existed as a personal faith long before it had any organized body or church. In what is seen by our people as divine inspiration, the elements, theology, doctrines, ethics, and social structure of Sinnsreachd evolved independently and along virtually identical lines in many places, including Scotland, the United States, and Australia throughout the period following the writings of Yeats and Greggory. We believe that this is because the Gods inspired our people to find their heritage and their faith, touching each of us in our hearts and driving us to find what our souls yearned for, just as they do for many others today. With the advent of the internet in the latter decades of the 20th century, túatha of Sinsearaithe were suddenly surprised to find websites positing exactly what they believed in their own faith. We began to find one another, to discover that we were not alone, and that we were all following the same faith and customs without ever having known that there were others like ourselves out there. Suddenly, with crystal clarity, we realized that we had each been brought to this faith by the hands of the Gods, and found each other through that same divine guidance.
Sinnsreachd In Practice Today
Today Sinnsreachd is an overarching term, like Christianity or Buddhism, that encompasses many independent tribal or clan groups, organizations, families, and individuals, each united by an adherence to a particular way of life and belief. Though there are many variations from family to family, organization to organization, these differences are subtle and do not detract from the unified adherence to the core beliefs and traditions of Sinnsreachd. These include the social structure and cultural forms found within the Féinechais, the Laws of the Freemen, also known as Brehon Law, which are the founding social and cultural doctrines of the Sinnsreachd faith. Much of the secular cultural aspects of Sinnsreachd, such as tribal structure, castes, and other social organization aspects, are derived from these ancient laws of the Gaelic people. While many of these aspects are controversial- adherence to a tribal social structure, the traditions of clan hierarchy, polyamorous or polygamous family structures practiced by some Sinnsearaithe that follow the traditions of our ancestors that survived well into recent history, our polytheistic beliefs, and a belief in the supernatural expressed in a paradigm of a living, spirit-filled world with little separation between the physical and spiritual- they are all part of the living, breathing tradition that makes up our way of life and make us what we are. We neither hide these aspects, nor do we pretentiously wave them around as a cause-celeb banner. They are simply a part of us. The core elements of Sinnsreachd, however, are the ethics, morals, and teachings of wisdom found in the Triads and the Teachings of the Kings. All of these will be dealt with in depth later on, but it is important to understand how each of these elements, as well as the legends of our ancestors, recorded over a millennium ago, create the framework around which the Sinnsreachd movement has grown.
One of the most distinct elements of Sinnsreachd, one that sets it aside from many other faiths, is the underlying practice of tribalism. All elements of Sinnsreachd and the personal identity of the Sinsearaithe are based, directly or indirectly, in the concept of the túath, or tribe. Much of what you will read here and in any book about our faith will revolve around this tribalism, and it is important for the reader to understand this. Furthermore, for those who have always been interested in Gaelic and Celtic religion, it is important to understand that Sinnsreachd is not a religion of the person, but of the people. While there are individual Sinsearaithe who are not part of a túath, they are the rare exception, not the rule. Tribalism is what sets Sinnsreachd apart from many other polytheistic religions, and is its key defining characteristic. Some people view the adherence to the tribal principles of an ancient culture while residing in a modern nation super-state as an invalid anachronism that cannot possibly work. There are three key arguments for the practice of tribalism within our faith, and frankly any cultural or religious grouping.
The first argument for adhering to a tribal society is that it is the very core of our culture. Family is important in Gaelic culture, of this there is no doubt, and thus it makes perfect sense that the core structure of our culture is the túath, being a tribal cluster of extended families. It is often argued that the concept of tribal structures within ancient Ireland, while not perfect, was instrumental in the greatness of the Gael. The Féinechais lay out quite clearly the relationship between a person and their túath. In ancient times, a person without a túath, called deorad (modern version- deoraí, or deoraithe plural), had no standing, no protection, and was not considered to be a person of the people. Thus, a person's very standing and identity has always been directly related to how they interact with and what role they play within the túath.
The second argument would be that the tribal society works better for the Sinsearaithe mentality. Living within a túath seems more "right" than living within the framework of the vaster societies. There is more of a comfort factor- a sense of belonging, identity, support and security- within the tribal structure for our people. Satisfying and deep, positive personal experiences of those who belong to our culture give significant support for this view. We are a communal people who work together towards a common goal. Unlike many neopagan religions (and key to why being labeled as such is seen as an insult by many Sinsearaithe), we are not self-centered individualists who are seeking personal power or enlightenment. We are a people who, while individuals with our own goals and ambitions, always weigh our actions and goals against the measure of how it affects our people. We put our túath first, and ourselves second. This does not discourage personal growth and prosperity, far from it. As we prosper, so does our túath prosper, so this mindset of devotion to the túath actually encourages bettering ourselves in every way possible.
The third argument is that, since the túath incorporates the common ownership of core community resources, and a strong belief in taking responsibility for one's own actions, that there is an internal application of the justified distribution of resources. Through tithing and working together to help each other, a social support system is created that ensures that no one goes hungry or suffers, but unlike socialism and welfare states, it also demands that everyone likewise pulls their own weight. Those that choose not to provide for the túath are cast out, removing their drain on resources. This is a far more just and efficient lifestyle than the brutal and cynical institution of capitalism, but likewise does not create the devastating drain on the whole or the crushing of personal freedoms and advancement by the institution of socialist programs that inefficiently and often unjustly distribute resources according to no merit whatsoever. Put simply, everyone in the family works, even those who are too old or crippled to move but can impart wisdom and give advice, and thus no freeloaders can threaten the family's stability and survival.
As mentioned previously, the Sinsearaithe believe that the indigenous culture and beliefs of the Gaelic people are sacral, taught to our ancestors by our Gods as the proper way of living. To us, the túath represents the core of this sacred way of life, and it is paramount that it be followed. Our belief is that the foreign cultural and religious influences that have overwhelmed mainstream Gaelic culture are unacceptable to follow, and represent a breaking of the pact established between Éiriu and the Milesians, a pact we are beholden to uphold. We believe that to maintain our end of the pact we must adhere to and follow the core of our ancestral culture, society, traditions, and beliefs as a way of life. In exchange for this, should we succeed in rebuilding our people and proving our worth and dedication, we will be granted a union with the land and prosperity. It is our belief that someday, many generations down the road after we have rebuilt our people and our way of life into a proper heir to that of our ancestors, we will again have a sovereign homeland in which the teachings of our Gods and Ancestors are honored.
Our adherence to a belief that our ancestral way of life is sacral does not mean that we seek to return to primitive living conditions or Iron Age technology. In fact, we embrace modern technology and science, and we believe that our way of life is more needed today than ever before. Sinsearaithe believe that a modern incarnation of our ancient cultural values, society, laws, etc. are not only perfectly viable today, but are vastly more preferable to the evolving global monoculture that is rapidly spreading to every corner of the planet. It is the belief of our people that we have a sacred duty to build towards that future- rebuilding our population, our túatha, and our pride, recovering what lore and tradition was lost, rebuilding our societal infrastructure now that our ancestral homelands no longer recognize any vestige of it and have freed it from their control, and preserving those traditions, customs, beliefs, and cultural paradigms that still exist. It is our duty to not only preserve and honour our culture, but to help guide it into the modern era so that it can be the foundation for the future. In a nutshell, our way of life is both our sacral duty to our Gods and Ancestors to follow as best we can, and is also seen by our people as a far better, safer, and more rewarding way of life compared to the mainstream Western societies we live among.
The Life and Worldview of a Sinsearaí
One might ask: what does it mean to be a Sinsearaí, one of the adherents to the Sinnsreachd way of life? Over the years as Sinnsreachd became more public many have asked this question, in various forms, in an attempt to discover what specifically sets us apart from other cultures or faiths. To understand our culture and faith, one must first understand our worldview and grasp how different it is from contemporary mainstream worldviews. Stripping away the cultural specifics of languages, customs, social structures, religious beliefs, etc.- all of which are vital components of our way of life- and getting to the root core of what it is that drives us, you will find one recurring concept: family. Everything in our understanding of society, our theology, our very self-identity and how we view others is based in a familial mindset of how someone or something affects, interacts with, or is measured against the tribe or kin-group. Now, it may seem that this is a point we harp on quite a bit, and it has already been mentioned many times in this introductory overview, but that is because it is crucial to putting one's self into the mind of a Sinsearaí. Until this is achieved, the understanding will never follow. It would be like trying to understand an eagle without first grasping the idea and understanding of flight instead of walking. Such is the way of Sinnsreachd and the family.
We are a people of strong ethics and morals, strong family bonds and a belief in putting the tribe ahead of the self, a people who are, in theory at least, strong, proud, skilled, and focused. Rather than ponder the individual elements that comprise these parts of who we are- honour, courage, piety, dedication, personal responsibility and integrity, individualism balanced by familial obligation and duty, and so on- let us instead look at the overarching effect the many aspects of our way of life have in defining who we are in the eyes of others, or, finding ourselves lacking or still learning the ways of Sinnsreachd, who we should be. This is a way of working one's self into the paradigm of our way of life from the outside, by understanding the whole from an external point of view. Many of the readers are new to Sinnsreachd, and therefore this is the perfect place to start. Others are students, and it will help them to step outside of their studies and look at who we are from the outside in.
When someone sees a symbol that denotes someone as being a Sinsearaí, be it a torc properly worn, the blue spiral and zoomorphic tattoos of the tatúnna laoigh that warriors of various túatha brand themselves with, or some other element- or when someone knows by reputation that a person is a follower of Sinnsreachd- they should automatically know this person can be relied upon to act in certain ways. A Sinsearaí should be honest, sometimes blunt, more often eloquent, but never lacking in a truthful opinion. A person only loosely familiar with our faith should know, by reputation, that a Sinsearaí will be fierce, honour their word when they give it, and be very miserly in doing so, only giving it when absolutely necessary and to those they trust, and a person of honour. They should know that to cross a Sinsearaí, especially when it brings their loved ones to harm, is to bring down a hell-born wrath unlike anything outside of the fires of the wars of the Gods themselves, and to earn ones trust is to have a loyal friend forever.
A Sinsearaí should, to the outsider, seem to be a larger-than-life figure, from the mightiest warriors of the laochra to the most average of farmers and laborers, an echo of an ancient time when legends walked freely throughout the world. By their very essence should a Sinsearaí inspire those around them to stand a bit taller, be a bit better, and strive for a greatness that the society at large would tell them they could not achieve. Proud, fierce, dignified, elegant, courageous, and so founded in integrity that they seem to be forged of the very essence of honour, this is what we strive to be. We do our best to follow the teachings of the kings of our ancestors-
In these words, spoken by High King Cormac Mac Airt to his son Cairbre, we find a timeless wisdom that is a part of the core of who we are as a people.
Weaker and lesser men and women would tell you that this is arrogance, hubris, and that you should not see yourselves as better than others. Sinnsreachd teaches that this is foolish, the condemnations of the jealous who refuse to raise themselves up out of mediocrity. Sinnsreachd teaches that everyone has the capability within themselves to rise to greatness, and that it is our obligation to do so to honour our ancestors, inspire our descendants, and to live up to the measure set for us by the Gods we honour and love. While not a Sinsearaí by faith, I often use the example of Steven Hawking to explain how anyone can achieve greatness if they put their minds to it and use their Gods-given gifts. Professor Hawking is stricken with Motor Neurone Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis disease, and is virtually paralyzed body-wide, yet he is one of the most brilliant minds of our time in the science of physics. Each of us as Sinsearaithe have an obligation to better ourselves, not for our own egocentrism, but to honour our people, long dead, living, and yet unborn. We look to our children and ask ourselves what kind of legend and memory we wish to create to inspire them to better themselves with.
It is this focus on living for the greater whole of our families and tribes by bettering ourselves that is core to our worldview. As our understanding of family extends backwards and forwards in time to our ancestors and descendants, so too does our worldview expand from one of "me, now, here" to one of "all of us, then, now, and tomorrow, here and in places yet unseen". The Sinnsreachd worldview is one based in the family, and seen over generations, and these two elements combine with our dynamic drive to improve ourselves to create a paradigm that sets us apart. Our faith, our culture, our society, our ethics, our morals, even our language is based in this long-sighted expression of self-improvement and familial ties. Understand this, and you know the heart of Sinnsreachd.