Like other ancient languages, Gaelic has many subtle meanings. The word Fonn, for instance, means not only song or chant, but also a state of mind... and the land itself.
Some of these chants are so old they may be rooted in pre-Christianity. Some of them are in Modern Gaelic, either the Scots or the Irish variants... some are in Old Irish - the ancestor of modern Gaelic - a language that goes back to the dark ages and beyond. They represent a small part of the huge repertoire of chant and prayer that is used daily within the Céile Dé tradition.
The fuinn (plural) work on many different levels, they harmonise the three parts of us that relate to each of the word's three meanings - the Spiritual, the Psychic or Otherworldly, and the Physical... They are a powerful spiritual tool that can help one sink into a deep meditative state... or enflame the heart.
Most of the fuinn are short and repeated over and over. Fuinn can also be "prescribed", as Anam Leighis (soul medicine) by an experienced teacher of the tradition.
Certain fuinn can also be spoken along with the paidirean - ancient Celtic prayer beads. A string consists of 150 beads, with dividers at significant points.
As the audio examples below will show, fuinn can be sung alone or in a group. Some lend themselves best to group singing, some seem most powerful when sung alone.
Because we always have our voices and hearts with us, a fonn can be sung spontaneously at any time - as a sudden impulse to acknowledge the gift of life and the mystery of the Divine woven into all things.
Here are three examples of fuinn.
- "Tar a thighearna... Tar a thi" (Come, Oh thou Lord... Come Oh thou being).
- "Sireadh Thall" (Seek Beyond). An improvised fonn.
- "Mar a tha... moladh do Dhia..." (as it is... praise to you God... as it is)..