Sunday, January 17, 2010

Trefocal - Three Words

In Auraicept na n-Éces, there is a tract on Poetic methods and knowledge that says of Trefocul:
…for the limbs of science are equal to the limbs of man, for there are
365 limbs of a man, 365 measures of poetry, 365 days in the year, and 365 herbs through the earth, so that the protection of the Trefocul encompasses them…
This is reminiscent to me of the tale of Airmid and Miach and their knowledge of herbs and healing.

Additionally, there is part of a poem on Trefocul in the same tract. It is about the "Laws of Barddism" (Bairdne) or the "Laws of Poetry" (Filidecht), but I think it also gives us windows into the minds and ways of the filidh and through them to the Ways of Draíocht:
Trefocul which poets plead
To defend their lawlessness,
Is no more than a burden of a children's part
From something, I reckon, which they understand.

Shields and pure countenances
Ward off many blemishes
As perfect Adna has devised them,
It is no profit not to turn them.

Twelve "errors" it is clear to you,
The poets must know them;
Etain has found no profit in them,
She has woven the beauty of poetry.

Twelve shields and twelve countenances
She has appointed to guard oneself against them,
The blemishes without a weak bare rhyme,
They succor them with their number.

The countenances of defense which I shall mention,
"Hardening" and "singular" that are not unsharp,
Right "ennobling", "enslaving"
The "staves of words" for true measurement.

"Interloping syllable" entire.
"Theft of a long" it is true,
"Theft of a hard" it is not wrong,
"Change of initial" for its visitation.

"Apocope of initial" ,
"doubling of initial" in front,
"Mod speech" with its modes,
It is a twelfth dear countenance,
"Prefix of gender" for reckoning it.

The shields of defense throughout the world
Are "hyperbole" and "retarding"
Ancient poets have found out those
Two "metathesis" and "internal

It's "full" is not full without foundation,
Its "reduplication," its "diminutive,"
A memory to each noble old bard
Its "exaltation," its "humiliation."

I reckon "man-throwing" with venom,
And "change of final,"
"Apocope of final," it is troublesome,
"Doubling of final" of a good word.

Those are the twelve shields,
The learned are in the habit of observing them,
And the twelve countenances which have been granted,
The four and twenty divisions.

The poets that do not know this,
No back to essay poetry is on them.
How can they conceal their wrongs?
How can they ward off "errors?"

Is it one countenance or one lofty shield
Which saves from blemish each full rough,
Or the twain that are thrown around every blemish?
Not thence, from considering it, will harm arise.

Whoever he be that sings
with his understanding;
Through his intellect rough and dangerous;
It is difficult and it is troublesome
To take account of the Trefocul.

Trefocul the three words
A knowledge of its secret is very hard,
Thirty-six up to this point
Are found through its specifics of Gaelic.
A study of these concepts and the people that are mentioned this tract on Trefocul would serve each of us well in our own efforts to travel the Druid Way.

What are the levels of meaning to be found here?
How were they applied?

How can we still use them today?

I'll probably include this article in my third book of the Ogham Keys to Wisdom series, The Song of the Forest. It was originally composed and copyrighted by me in 2003 on the alt.religion druid newsgroup of Usenet and in the Bards forum of the Summerlands.


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