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This is the main blog for the fellowship Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan GĂ idheal. Edited and managed by Rob Barton


Gaelic culture and religion.Posted by Rob Barton Thu, November 10, 2016 03:04PM
Sibling Co-adoption

For twenty years I have known my 'sister' and she is my sister. We have held one another in joy and tragedy. I have cried to her and she to me. She helped raise my children and I hers. She can remember when one of my children was born and came home and when another was born to never take a breath. We didn't have the same parents or the same childhood, though we each know a great deal about the childhood of the other. But she is the sister of my heart because she has looked into my heart and shown me her own.

Many of us have, in our lives, siblings - brothers and sisters of the same hearth and home. We share parents, a childhood and a history and heritage. We are often a joy to one another and at other times a challenge. But we remain family and we have that bond of kinship - that shared history with its fond recollections and grudges.

And then there are those who stand with us and love us and who become brothers and sisters of our hearts and our spirits. An they are no less brother or sister to us - sometimes they may even be more of a true sibling than those of blood and childhood. We call one another brother or sister because that is what we truly are to one another or should I say rather that is what we do for one another.

If we look in ancient Irish law we see a wonderful system of fosterage and that system creates foster siblings and under the laws these foster siblings have special positions. A foster brother will have a claim in the death price of a murder victim established as recompense to be paid by the murderer. The foster-brother-of-the-blanket has an even closer relationship and has an even larger claim than other foster siblings.

In some modern tribes there is a tradition of blood-siblingship and this may be facilitated formally or informally as is the local custom. Here among the Ealachan we have a formal sibling co-adoption process which may seem a bit simple due to the outward directness of the process. The spiritual, emotional and social parameters may not be visible from the surface but the flowing currents of them are deep.

We will host a feast for the tribe and for friends. There will be a fire built and blessed. The two people who are adopting one another will each offer a few drops of their own blood into a cup of clarified butter where it will be mixed so that it becomes one blood. The gods and ancestors will be called and the two people will swear kinship to one another before the gods, the ancestors and the people. The people will witness and acknowledge the oath and the mixing of bloods. The clarified butter will then be offered to the fire - to the gods - one blood - a bond of kinship. Then the feast will be shared with much toasting and celebration. Simple - direct - life changing. It serves us well.