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Irish Mythology | Riastradh, the Warrior’s Battle Frenzy


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The Norsemen were famous for it, the Romans accused the Celts of it, but  it seems our Irish ancestors were capable of it too; the strange phenomenon known as the ‘battle frenzy‘.

Here is how Cuchullain, one of Ireland’s best loved warrior heroes, is described when the battle frenzy took hold;

‘Within his skin he put forth an unnatural effort of his body: his feet, his shins, and his knees shifted themselves and were behind him; his heels and calves and hams were displaced to the front of his leg-bones, in condition such that their knotted muscles stood up in lumps large as the clenched fist of fighting man.

The frontal sinews of his head were dragged to the back of his neck, where they showed in lumps bigger than the head of a man-child aged one month. Then his face underwent extraordinary transformation: one eye became engulfed…

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