Wild Hunt

Ogham Magic #1

by Julie G. Murphy

Wild Hunt by Julie G. Murphy

Draoideachta is the Gaelic word for magic in Ireland, a place of mystery, mists, and old gods, the Tuatha Dé Danann. Long ago, the magic practitioner Saint Patrick in a takeover bid banished the Tuatha and locked away all magic, but today his church is dying, hemorrhaging magic.

In a comeback play, the old gods send forward in time a man cursed by the Morrigan. Padraic O’Duibh is the long-haired, woad-tattooed son of an Irish god and a human mother. Personally, he’d rather be in hell than champion for the cute-hoor Irish gods.

Never take money from a fairy. Mealla O’Conner, a Métis by birthright, half Irish, and half Native American from Canada has a website, Trainingintotemism dot com that also does WICCA. As an entrepreneur not a believer, she now has to learn what she is and what she has to bring to the fight the hard way, while doing.

At the sights of holy wells, portal tombs, dolmans, and fairy forts, the veil between worlds is tearing. Practitioner/priests are summoning the dead. With Cork City as collateral damage, a magical free-for-all-feck-a-thon on the mist-shrouded island has begun.



Release Date: April 9, 2024
Genre: Urban Fantasy

A White Satin Romance


Chapter One


‘Kindred Spirits’ Sculpture

A tribute to the incredible generosity the Choctaw Nation showed the Irish people during the Great Famine.


Brother and kin to all the twilit gods’

Living, forgot, long dead: sad Shadow of pale hopes

Forgotten dreams and madness of men’

Outcast among the gods and called the Fool, the Amadan

Yet dreaded even by those immortal eyes...


Fog to start, with the odd bright spell, and then lashing rain is the shite Irish weather of the day. Really...of yesterday, probably tomorrow and the day after that. I’m just saying that the heavy damp is complicating my already less-than-brilliant mental outlook. My excuse. It’s June. The Tuatha Dé Dannan, the Irish Gods…cute hoors that they are anyway...are especially active in the month of solstice.

So I’m soaked through but also sweating from the quivering suspense of it all. A sort of baptism without a river. The thought of where are they, the hoor-gods, is followed hard on its heels by where is it? I search through the pockets of low fog for the bell tower of Saint Peter’s Catholic Church. I’m peering down the distance of “An Phríomhshráid” in old Gaelic, or North Main Street, Cork not just because it’s a shockin’ Irish evening with the rain making me blind in two eyes and that churches are solid, without leaks, and offer free rest for the weary.

Er, yeah, but not only...those ARE all good. I am wear...babbling-weary in the pissing rain and coming sunset. I wipe my vision clearer to scrutinize between wattle and timber houses. I squint into the light-sucking voids of narrow lanes. I keep walking. There is one thing about a good rain in Cork. At least the smell of shite and smoke is less pungent.

I’m trying to find this church because the best treat about Catholic churches is that they have only THE ONE GOD in them. One joyful, singular, cracking, ALMIGHTY God. It’s spiritual genius. Everyday day I say to myself...too shiteing bad it’s not true.

Because there are at least three thousand gods in the world, one for each type of animal and plant, plus more. Two thousand, nine hundred, and ninety-nine, too many. For a bit more perspective, here in Ireland, the Dagda and his large-as-life relatives are a full cart of nutcases. They are a rain-shower of shites, a daily dose of our Lady of Perpetual arse kicking. The men and women of Ireland sang when Saint Patrick came along with a magic staff, a mission, and some simplification. ‘Twas Himself, the Big P, who sealed the gods, large and small, underground. They were the real banished snakes. He hunted them down and tucked away the key. And then he cornered the market on all things magic.

“Almost...feckin’ almost heaven.” A bit of joy perks me up when I can see the bell tower in a break of the clouds, and then the iron gates surrounding the courtyard of the church.

It’s the “almost” I’m concerned with in June. Almost sealed; almost stripped of magic; almost gone. That and it’s the second week of the month; that shower-of-shite time, the summer solstice when magic is at its most powerful and the veil is thin. Harvest time for the Tuatha Dé Dannan. Cutting hay on the longest day when magic is strong and the veil thin. They think of me as free labor and/or dead. No preference.

I’m almost through the blessed door. As the sun is almost setting.

Consider the immortal gods of Ireland. The Milesians were the first to get them underground. Patrick’s power from the Roman church sewed them up and reduced them to fairy status. Eventually, they became only powerful enough to harass the housewives who forget to leave out the daily offering of milk on their steps, or to curse the poor farmers for plowing under their fairy forts.

With all the believers turning Catholic, I expected that finally the Irish Gods wouldn’t exist to anyone anymore.

What a load of bollocks. They absolutely exist, especially at night when the seal weakens and at the solstice when all magic strengthens through the ramped-up residual faith of humans. The pressure of the growing magic is making my nose bleed and my joints ache. Nearly there. My hand is on the latch of the priests’ door. A black bird flies at my head. I brain it with my blackthorn club. It is just a bird in the end, but I’m twitchy.

No other country hailed Catholicism more than the Irish. They fell hook, line, and sinker. One God seemed marvelous, extraordinary, and wonderful to this God-exhausted country. But just because people didn’t believe in the Tuatha, didn’t make their jolly non-existence true.

The Catholic Church controls the magic in Ireland. The Tuatha may screech my name, but inside a church, they can’t touch me. Just a few more steps through the door to my sanctuary for the night from the great triple-goddess of ill-humor, malice and envy, the Morrigan, Babd, and Macha and all the other vengeance-seeking unseelies. My fingers are tingling. I glance over my shoulder.

The Good People, yeah, no. They’ve got unending notions of Themselves, and they’re all half mad with inbreeding, like the British Monarchy. Other than that, they’re feckin’ lovely altogether.

After I slam the priests’ door behind me, I lean onto it. You never know if you’ve come too close. A church on every corner, lads. Get on it.

I have my wool brate around me cocoon-like. It’s been a normal, inhospitable, damp day. That’s turned into a foul, soaking, blustery night, when an ale and a fire is the only cure.

Sure, what fire...what ale?

I’m inclining to feel sorry for myself tucked into a small room with only stone benches lining the walls. Not warmer in, but at least dryer. My leather shoes squelch on the black flagstone floor. All of me is dripping, and my feet are waterlogged.

Ok. It’s good enough to feel safe. I unwind my cloak, drop my bag, and put my feet up. Sure, I need sleep. My eyes are scratchy like. The rain and pressure of trying to see through the dark and fog has thinned them.

From the nave, the central part of the church, the smell of incense from a late evening vigil circles the alcove. Myrrh is seeping under the pointed stone archway through the drawn red-velvet curtains that hang there, voices as well. There is a low hum of prayer.

I focus on its fragrance. I inhale its sweet aroma and taste its sweetness on my tongue. I feel my muscles relax. I place my blackthorn club on the stone bench and then spread a piece of gray cloth. On it I place my sustenance, a roll, and cheese, water. The cheese is moldy around the edges and the bread stale. My tongue searches for swirls of flavor as I chew and relax. I plump my bag on the bench and tuck my brate, cloak, around me. As I finish with a long drink of water, I listen to the murmur of the devout and the rain on the roof. I’m warming. The voices comfort me. I am not alone. Satiated and with the roof of the church over my head, I can let my eyelids close.

June is trouble. There isn’t a civil word for the month that has Saint John’s Eve in it, AND me sister’s birthday. She was born on Saint John’s Eve. When magic is at its most powerful, she came into the world. She’ll curse me, literally, if I don’t bring her something. To get there, I have to travel church to church.

Anyway, she’ll have to get in line curse-wise. How old is she now, anyway? Born thirteen hundred and thirty-three. Thirteen-seventy now. Three and forty years. I can remind her of that when I see her. Jaysus, I’m getting too old for this shite.

As if to clear me of that notion, of being too old, or used up…or possibly just for the craic of it (knowing the Tuatha) vertigo triggers inside my skull, a brain tornado. I feel my eyes bouncing. My head has invited in the storm outside like.

“Feck off.”

I try to stand. Maybe I’m not far enough inside the church. Get to the altar. Bracing against the wall at my back as I reach out to a lateral wall, my hand lands on the nose of the stone effigy of the used-to-be mayor of Cork City.

I throw up. Brutal.

Coughing and spitting, I steady myself. Can’t hear a thing with the superstorm in my ears. The red curtains...not even a fluttering hem. The stone effigy begins to disintegrate to sand under my hand like the feel of an ocean wave at the shore pulling beach out from under my feet.

I stare through the vertigo as the rolling, sharp edges of the carved face deteriorates. First the nose and then the eyes, like melting stone. Sand bunches under my hand and falls to the floor through my fingers. The script erases like a hand brushing away letters written in dirt.

It stops as it started. Nausea lingers. I collapse onto the bench. I can hear.

For a split second.

Next there’s a pressure of being pulled, lengthened on an invisible torture rack. My joints ache, my muscles bind and unbind, my sight blurs. It’s hard to catch a breath from the pain and the squeeze on my vital organs.

I’m in Catholic Church for feck sake.

Celtic magic. Power over the weather, the elements, incantations, magical objects, invisibility, raising aloft, sounds, shapeshifting...shite! I scrutinize my hands.

Eejit, they don’t shapeshite others.

The magic ends with me on the chilly floor, breathing in and breathing out. I am mince, masticated and spat out. I smell my vomit in my clothes, in the room. There’s always a sense of fight or flight, mostly flight when magic has grabbed me by the balls. I don’t know what this is, but my balls are in agony, probably bleeding.

Gods only know what’s next. Instinct says run.

You run.

I make myself sit up. With the help of a stone bench and a wall, I stand. The movement is by degrees like an aged man shifting bit by bit upward. Can’t say it was done without a lot of swearing. If swearing could be an incantation, there’d be some gods who felt it.

I glance around the alcove. The sharp stone floor is rounded-like as if centuries of human feet have walked it. It’s worn. The mayor of Cork has no nose. That singular proboscis is now an anthill of granulated dust.

In all fairness, I have to say whatever that was, it was epic.

I walk like a drunken peasant to the pointed stone archway that connects the alcove to the nave. I peer out through the red, velvet curtains. If I’d been hard-slapped, the effect would be the same. The body of the church is a gutted, hollow of a room with a concrete floor, movable walls, and metal stairs to a glass-balconied loft. Golden stained windows gone, pews gone, altar gone, priest gone, parishioners gone. Maybe I whiffed too much incense.

I smell coffee. “Coffee?” What the hell? I ask myself, not to mention “metal stairs” and “glass-balconied loft.”

There are single-post café tables and plastic folding chairs.

“Plastic, folding chairs?” Head trauma is what I’m thinking. My mind is talking shite. What there is not. There is not a single Christ-suffering cross. Gone is the altar piece of fluted Corinthian pilasters. Gone is the painted surround of a dove with flames of glory on the wall behind it. Gone is the mayor’s gallery over which the king’s arms were carved and painted.

I back into the alcove and drop onto the stone bench. And then the migraine begins. My mind is filling with information of this new coffee-and-plastic-filled time, historical gaps of knowledge. The pressure of new facts, words, cities, places pushes on my brain, and expands it at the same time. I growl in pain. Feckin’, low-life, devious fairies.

How can they be doing this with their low magic? Even in the high-magic of June?

They live in all ages simultaneously. Time is fluid to immortals, but this is heavy-hitting magic. More than they’ve got between them. “I’m feckin’ mortal,” I roar into the pain. They are always forgetting that. They’d steal your eye and come back for the lashes. When the pain ends, I slump into myself. I feel like shite-faced roadkill.

“Jaysus, my blackthorn club.” My eyes pop open. I see it. It’s not dust. Relief is not enough of a word. I pick it up and inspect the Celtic Ogham letters carved into it. The potent five; Beith, the birch tree, for release and regeneration, Luis, the rowan tree, associated with Brigid for protection against enchantment, Duir, the mighty oak formasculine strength, resilience, Tinne, the holly,plant of warriors, and Straith, the blackthorn tree, associated with the Cailleach. This letter works against the dark side of magic. They are all as if carved just yesterday. Which means this…I’m gonna need the club and the magic the carved letters hold within it.

Side thought, and this hits me hard. What’s up with the magic of the Catholic Church?

Feckin’ fairies. I breathe out a long breath as the half-life of their magic eases my discomfort. Still, there isn’t a bone in my body that wants to move, ever. My brain is wanting a nap for a thousand years like, but an unquiet shifts under my skin, making me restless, pressing for action. A fear of what this is. An immanency so strong I stand, even through the pain and imbalance. I try the pointed-top, priests’ exterior door that I came in through, but it is now locked and no key.

Only option…to stroll through that red curtain into the non-church where there are people, people who are not tatooed, blackthorn club-carrying, brate-wearing persons. Once again, cute hoors these fairies.

A woman with dark medium-length hair tucked behind her ears sees me first. Her once over is, er, yeah, stinging. Also, her nostrils flare meaning stink. Her hands hold pieces of a solid multi-colored plastic mat that come apart in squares like a piece of a puzzle. “Oh! Where did you come from,” she says smooth like, and then, “I’m very sorry but you’re going to have to leave now. The event is over. We’re just cleaning up.”

“Great craic then?” I ask as I walk away, with the left-over aura of vertigo leaning me like I’m a boozing man who has been sleeping it off on a church stone bench. Which is what she thinks. Lady, I wish. The four additional women taking down the event stare at me, and I at them as I make my way across the gray cement floor in my red, léine, belted tunic, which hangs to my knees and its slack hanging over that belt like a fat-sagging stomach. I suddenly panic-remember my Ogma’s knife. I pat at my waist. It’s there. Steel is indestructible, the leather sheath feels whole.

A stout lady with painfully short, color-deficient, dark hair, and wearing what my strained brain is calling, baggy blue jeans, and an aran sweater, and holding a cane says, “Thanks for coming,” like she’s seen everything in life, and a long-haired, léine-wearing, knife-toting man leaning on a blackthorn club with lime-coated spiky hair and a blue woad-tattooed cheek is an everyday occurrence for her. Not to mention the torc around my neck. Pretty sure it’s not, and I have to admire her smoothness.

I leave the church by the front door. The entrance area is still recognizable, solid-built like for the ages. I step into the low-light of a rainy, late evening.

Couldn’t I be in nice, sunny, southern France?

Outside. Gone is the clip-clop of horses or rumbling carts. Mostly it’s a harsh, hoarse constant hum of movement and voices and engines. A metal conveyance whizzes by. My mind says, “car.” I’m standing in the courtyard by two solid, old-growth oak trees that were saplings, what, an hour ago. Now strings of small lights climb round and round their massive trunks. A man gathering plastic trash asks me if I was the entertainment for the wedding, maybe the pipes player. Good to see the Irish are still in there taking the mick out of everyone.

“Feck off!”

The man laughs.

Nothing for it. I arrange my brown brate, over my shoulders to cover my clothes. I square up and walk nearer to the road.I’m standing by the street looking, most likely, like my brain is slow. I’m orienting, from a whistle-stop journey from the fourteenth century, and fighting pain and leftover vertigo, and panic when someone yells, “The nurse is looking for ye,” and from another, “Did ya mean to wear those clothes, or did they take the rest? Where’s yer Leprechaun?”

“Up ye’r arse,” I call. I might be a bit grouchy from the trip.

I glance up and down the street. My brain tells me what things are, magically updating like, but my experience of these things is new. Lights like. From lamps along the street popping on, also the occasional car headlamps. Light glows through the windows of open establishments. Across from me, on the corner, is a gaming shop named Kaiju that has a monster logo in an orange circle.

The line of compact, street-front shops are all painted in saturated, primary colors. The “Scotts for Tools,’ signage is deep red with white letters. “Idea Pet Shop,” next to it is mustard yellow with back letters. ‘Spice Inn’ signage is white on red. The small shops or restaurants are linked elbow to elbow in a long line on either side of North Main Street. The living quarters above are various designs of brick work with large, airy Georgian windows, many of which are covered with plywood.

Sure, Cork is still a tip.

Under a red awning is the store front to Minihane’s Jewelers, next to that, in light green and blue, Vincent’s Charity Shop, then The Kiddie Zone in puce yellow and red. Also, a ‘Puff ‘N’ Stuff, CBD’ shop, which my mind tells me to try out sometime. I step outside the wrought-iron, eight-foot fence onto a cement footpath. Next to Saint Peter’s defunct Church is a Gorta charity shop (open late on Fridays) that has a green book cover in the window saying, ‘Keep Calm, Sure it’ll all be Grand.’

Sure, it will.

I’m half torn to just find another real church. This is Ireland. There must be more. I have no idea where to go or what to do, or why this has happened. All my intuition is saying duck. I only know that if I get any of those collective Goddesses within my grip, I’ll squeeze so hard their collective eyes will pop out. I know it’s the women because men are less inventive. As to the why any of it? It will come or is here. I glance around.

On a black road, a fast-moving metal vehicle blares at me as if I’m going to step down in front of it. It douses me with a spray of black gutter water.

Effin’ rich. Maybe this is hell.

Perfect. I can’t just stand here like a gob. Anyway, this is Ireland. I relegate the anxiety to the usual area in my brain and commit right to walk in search of drink. North Gate Castle used to be down this way, always hospitable. Definitely, probably gone, but it’s a direction and then I’m slammed into from behind. I twist and land on me arse.

“I’m so sorry. Are you hurt?” this rushed woman exclaims, and then she takes in my clothes. “It’s you. God, it must be. Phew. I thought I’d missed you. The plane was late. Two hours.”

Never mind I’m on the street like.

She’s still babbling on, and then boom, right across her stream of words, an explosion punches through the veil. Magical pressurized waves throw the woman onto me. I smell the singe of high energy. Windows blow. Alarms from the cars parked on the narrow street pierce the air. More significant is something roars. The heat of its projected breath warms the air. Out of the dust-gloom, a Kaiju monster, in full fury, emerges.

Shows how any bad situation can turn for the worse.


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