NAME: Scathach (pronounced Skaw - Thach) The Shadowy One, The Fierce Woman, She Who Strikes Fear, Scota, Scatha
SYMBOLS: Sword. Cauldron in some accounts.
USUAL IMAGE: An attractive athletic woman, with (according to some) red hair. Who, when in a battle rage would go red (very red) in the face and even have her arms swell in size.
HOLY BOOKS:Táin Bó Cualgne, the “Cattle Raid of Cooley” also known as The Tain, and “Death of Aoife’s Only Son.”
HOLY DAYS: None known.
PLACE OF WORSHIP: At the death of a relative or friend.
RELATIVES: Kerridwen ( Mother), Kyre & Ginevra (sisters), Gwyn ap Nudd (Husband), Uathach ‘Spectre’ (Daughter), Cuar & Cett (Sons ‘names in question, but she did have at least two’)
SYNODEITIES: All warrior woman goddesses.
DETAILS: There will be some who disagree with my calling Scathach a Goddess, saying that she was ‘merely’ a remarkable warrior woman among a group of people noted for remarkable warriors.
However I think even people from that group will have to admit that she was more than just above average.
There are also accounts that say she was one of the Sidhe, or as some would call them the Fairies. So while some might not call her a Goddess, I think if you will let me mix my metaphors a bit and take a Japanese approach and call such beings, be they fairy, spirit, demon, angel or god, Kami (higher beings) Then whether warrior woman of legend, Sidhe Queen, or guiding spirit, Scathach is goddess enough to count!
Scathach is from the Celtic era where a form of heterognostic learning (and yes I am making up a new word right before your eyes) was practiced.
This custom said that only women could teach men and only men could teach women. This tradition held with woodcraft, blacksmithing, healing, hunting and the magical & martial arts.
It insured a more egalitarian and free status for women in a time when this was rare to say the least.
It came to an official end in 697 c.e. at a gathering of Christian clergy, lesser royals and the High King at Tara when he declared the Cain Adamnan which prohibited woman & priests from taking part in war, though priests were left with the power to influence matters.
Before this a woman had greater freedom (though it had been deterioration for a few hundred years) so that a woman might divorce her husband if he failed to support her, treat her with respect or just gossiped about their sex life!
In Scathach’s era however women not only participated in battle but were some of the most fierce and able proponents of the craft.
The Shadowy One was not just a fighter and teacher of fighters. She was also versed in healing & blacksmithing as well as a prophetess who used a method known as Imbas Forasnai, the Light of Foresight to obtain visions of the future.
Scathach, along with her family and students lived on the Isle of Skye in a castle, which seems earthy enough until you consider the trials that those who sought training from her had to go though.
These trials were such things as climbing the Western Mountains, getting past a dragon’s lair, walking down a road was covered with razor sharp rocks, while the road somehow made the travelers feet stick to it & the Bridge of Leaps, which spanned a gorge filled with monsters from nightmare, and was so constructed that anyone who stepped on it made it start to tilt into the gorge so that the only way across was to first leap to the center of the bridge and slide down to the other side.
Taking into account those perils I think we have to disregard the notion that The Fierce One was an ordinary mortal.
I think it would also explain why some say that it is Scathach that one must call upon to lead the recently dead past the dangers that are found on the path to The Land of Eternal Youth.
So be it as teacher of Cu Chuliann, patroness of blacksmithing, healing & Celtic martial arts, prophetess, or guide of the dead to Tir Nan Og. I would say that Scathach is a worthy Goddess indeed.