The Hazel Tree and the Salmon of Knowledge

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
James Parton
Posts: 1576
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:47 pm

The Hazel Tree and the Salmon of Knowledge

Post by James Parton » Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:39 am


In my Bardic studies I have been reading on legends concerning the Hazel and the Salmon of Knowledge. In Celtic lore the Hazel tree is the tree of knowledge. Here are some legends concerning it.

Legend tells us if we follow the Boyne River in Ireland back to it's source we will come to a sacred pool surrounded by nine hazel trees. These trees are ancient with gnarled twisted trunks the color of russett, brown and purple. Hazelnuts ripen under the bright green leaves and occaisionally drop into the dark still water. If we sit quietly by this pool and look into it's depths we might get a glimpse of one of it's five ancient inhabitants. The sleek beautiful salmon, swimming and jumping every once in a while to capture a hazelnut as it drops from the tree...

In another story the nine hazel trees and the salmon of knowledge are in the Celtic otherword in the Well of Knowledge. Maybe that could be an explanation of where they are at today?

Here is the myth of Finn McCool and the Salmon of Knowledge.

The young Finn Mac Cumhaill ( Mc Cool ) met the Bard Finnegas, near the river Boyne and studied under him. Finnegas had spent seven years trying to catch the salmon of knowledge, which lived in a pool on the Boyne. Whoever ate the salmon would gain immence knowledge. Eventually he caught it, with great struggle and told the boy to cook it for him. While cooking it Fionn burned his thumb, and instinctively put his thumb in his mouth, swallowing either the juice from the fish or a piece of it's skin.This transferred to him the salmon's wisdom. When Finnegas returned and noticed a difference in the boy he asked if he had eaten any of the fish which he had told him not to. Finn explained to him what had happened. Finnegas told him he could teach him no more since he now had greater knowledge than he. Finn later became the leader of the Fianna, a great class of warriors. Some tales have it that Finn could access the salmon's knowledge simply by sucking on his thumb.

What I can't quite understand is why Finnegas did not search out those magical hazel trees to begin with instead of trying to catch an elusive magical salmon. Any Ideas?

Though I knew much of the story, here are my references to this post.

Also I did an ENTS post on the Google forum a while back. I was curious to where hazel trees were found wild in the US. I have never seen wild ones here in the Western North Carolina Mountains. Incedentally I love both Hazel Nuts and Salmon. ... lklore.htm
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids ... Itemid=145

Post Reply

Return to “Legends”