In the age before this one, the Sidhe walked the Earth only we were not called the Sidhe then, but the Tuatha de Danaan, or Children of (the Goddess) Dana.
The Danaans came to this world, some say from lost Atlantis, others from the stars and still more prosaic souls say we were Minoan refugees. We ourselves lost the story of our true origin in the mist of time, much as Humankind has today. However, our myths tell a story of our birthing as a product of the union between the Goddess and the Stars. Either way, we came in our nomadic wanderings to a place, a jewel in the Western Seas. It was warmer then, and with what men now call our magic (which was, in reality, technology) we forged a realm of beauty and mystery. We forged an alliance with our loved and hated brethren, the Fomor, chief among whom were the Chieftain Aelathan, his son Bres who became the Ard Ri (High King) and his Warlord Balor One-Eye, who possessed an evil eye so potent he had to be faced toward his enemies and the eye hoisted open with ropes lest his allies be stricken down alongside his enemies.
I say here loved and hated. The Formor were the Darkness to our Light, the left hand of our right hand, and our bitter rivals. And yet, in truth, the Formor and the Danaans were the same race, that race born of the Goddess and the Stars, and it is my personal theory that these folke gave rise to some of the stories of dark fae. As to why myth and legend has not recalled them so well as the Danaans, that we shall soon see. It is my belief however that unions such as those King Bres was born of once held the two peoples together in alliance and that they will do so again. Many formerly rival clans are not only forming alliances now but forgetting past enmities and forging true friendships. Love will conquer old hatreds and heal old wounds.
Alas, all Ages of Legend must turn in their Cycle, and in time there came a peoples who's destiny it were to defeat the Danaans. The sons of Mil came, led by Mil's sons Eber and Eremon and his son and chief bard Amhairghin. A course of battle was agreed upon, and as to that agreement the invaders sailed out beyond the ninth wave and turned back inland to begin thier invasion. We raised a wind to hold them away, and noble Amhairghin raised up in the lead ship and Invoked the very land and sea against us:
I invoke the Land of Ireland
Much coursed be her fertile seas
Fertile be the fruit strewn mountains
Fruit strewn be the showery wood
Showery be the river of waterfalls
Of water-falls be the lake of deep pools
Deep-pooled be the hill top well
A well of tribes be the assembly
And assembly of the kings be Tara
Tara be the hill of the tribes
The tribes of the Sons of Mil
Of Mil, the ships, the barks
Let the lofty bark be Ireland
Lofty Ireland, Darkly sung
An incantation of great cunning
The great cunning of the wives of Bres
The wives of Bres of Buaigne
The Great lady Ireland
Eremon hath conquered her
Ir, Eber have invoked for her
I invoke the Land of Ireland
And the magic winds died. And in the battles that were fought to follow, our magic and cunning against those of the Sons of Mil, eventually we were caused defeat. And we made an agreement with Amhairghin to remove ourselves from the ken of man save but rarely. We withdrew to our barrows and built our Gateways into the Many-Coloured Lands in the doors of our barrows, calling ourselves the Aes Sidhe, or Dhaoine Sidhe (people of the barrows). And Amhairghin, to show his regard, came with us for a year to learn our magic and our history, for in his agreement with us he promised that though we might pass from the earth our memory would not, and in learning our ways he would preserve them for future generations to remember.
But when his year was up and he returned to the World Above, it was to chaos and despair. In that year, Eber and Eremon had grown greedy and fell to quarrelling over the division of the land. One slew the other and assumed the kingship, and it was to this terrible way that the bard returned, to the unhappy people of Eireanne led by a mad kinslayer. In a rage, Amhairghin cast down upon the Land he had so lovingly invoked a Curse that resonates through that unhappy land to this day. Never again shall the land be whole, he said, and her people shall be divided until never again shall a man slay his brother for gain. And to this day, Ireland has never been a whole land. Not even under Brian Boru, who formed clever alliances but did not truly rule over all the land.
Now the power of the bard's curse was such that it began to even reft Earth from her Shadow-sister, TirNanOc, the Many-Coloured Lands. And with each passing day it became harder to pass the Veil until it was clear that it was closing. Whole clans were trapped apart from each other, children separated from parents and lovers from one another, as one by one the Gateways collapsed. And when this cataclysm was done, much of the magic had vanished from the world leaving only the pale echos you feel now. There were those who blamed the Milesians, and who elected to remain on the Earth side to fight and reclaim their lands. Of them, others can tell you more than I but I do know this. I know they regretted their decision as soon as they felt the magic die and they begged us to reopen the last Gate and let them return...and we could not. We were just as helpless as them. And over the centuries we listened in anguish as their souls fell into Sleeping. Look amongst the threads I have woven here, and in my half-lit memories and ancient dreams you can find the glimmer of what really occurred, some tragedy, some cataclysm. Perhaps the Bard's Curse was a catalyst, perhaps a foretelling, perhaps a strange coincidence. Amhairghin chose to turn his face from Earth and retreat with us into the Many-Coloured Lands, and to this day Ireland remains a broken land.
Paths and Possibilities