First he played the Noble Straincalled Goltrai, the strain of sorrow, which brought the Formorians to uncontrollable tears as they began to deeply weep. The sound was so poignant and sad that they could no longer see or stand. In their despair, they began reaching for their swords.
At that moment he played the next Noble Strain called Geantrai, the strain of merriment, and in an instant the enemy began to laugh hysterically. They laughed so hard that their weapons fell to the floor and their goblets of wine spilled all over their garments.
Before they had the chance to speak to one another, The Dagda played the next Noble Strain called Suantrai, the strain of slumber, and the air filled with sweet, relaxing, and peaceful sounds that gently lulled the enemy into a deep and profound sleep. As they fell fast asleep, unable to move, The Dagda and his warriors were able to leave--taking the magical harp with them.
In Celtic mythology, the harp has long been associated with magic, supernatural powers, and healing qualities. As a mystical instrument, it has the ability to transport the listener to an elevated level of consciousness and to powerfully influence the emotions. Celtic folklore states that the harp was brought to Ireland by an ancient race of phenomenally gifted, charismatic, and divine beings from a mysterious land who were called the Tuatha De Dannan, meaning "People of the Goddess Danu." Danu is the Great Mother Goddess of wisdom, manifestation magic, primordial water, abundance, healing, and pure creativity. Legend has it that the Tuatha De Dannan arrived in a cloud of mist across the water while the sun eclipsed for three days. Ireland's sagas describe them as wise, brave, and delightful beings highly skilled in music, arts, poetry, science, and magic. The regal Tuatha De Dannan are said to be beings of high esoteric knowledge and superior intelligence who could use their latent "hidden" abilities to shape-shift, restore life to the dead, create enchantments and illusions, and also to influence the natural elemental world.
Upon arrival to Ireland they brought magical gifts for the awakening and upliftment of humanity, one of them being the first Celtic harp. The high priest-king of the Tautha De Dannan, named Dagda, carried this enchanted harp which was said to be made of living oak, encrusted with jewels, and seared with battle scars. The Dagda, literally meaning "The Good God," is the beloved Father-God of the Celts, Lord of death and rebirth, chief of perfect knowledge, and is depicted as a master of music who possessed a vast array of magical and warrior attributes. His unique harp travelled everywhere with him, even into battle, and would come to him when he called. One night after a great battle, the Dagda had discovered that his harp was stolen by their enemy the Formorians, a race of giants, and taken far away from the battleground. After travelling a long way, they came across an abandoned banquet hall. Certain they would never be found there, they hung the magical harp on the wall and feasted in celebration of their apparent victory. Outraged, The Dagda ventured out in search of his treasured harp alongside his warriors. Hearing the celebration in the distance, The Dagda and his warriors approached the hall to discover his harp hanging on the wall. Suddenly The Dagda burst through the doors and summoned his harp with magical incantations. At lightening-speed the harp flew across the hall and into his hands. The Formorians fell into a shocked silence, and it was in that silence that The Dagda unleashed The Three Noble Strains of music as he plucked the strings of his magical living harp.
Soon after the battle with the Formorians, the Milesians arrived with intent to fight the Tuatha De Dannan. Instead of fighting, the Tuatha De Dannan chose to retreat into the Otherworld, the Tir na n-Og or "Land of Youth" deep into the hills, mounds, and forests. Because of this, they are also known as "Aes Sidhe," which means "People of the Sidhe (mounds)." Often times they are not spoken of directly, but are referred to as "The Sidhe," "The Fairies" or "The Little People." In their land, they remain eternally youthful--singing, dancing, and making merry. Throughout the ages, tales are told of frequent visits of the Dannans with mortals. Sometimes they assisted the mortals, while other times they sought their destruction or even married mortals. Most of the times, the Dannans would surface to meet their lovers, while other times the mortals were allowed to live with them. They are generally described as stunningly beautiful, but can also be terrible and hideous to the mortal eye. Folklore explains that they reside in a realm hidden by magic from the eyes of mortals. This beautiful dimension is said to be hidden in caves and palaces of crystal and gold. It is a world between worlds, a bountiful Elysium of invisible wonder where these radiant beings live in musical splendor. In this faerie realm, one can experience the sonic intoxication of The Dagda's "living harp" which is said to cause the seasons' procession, can heal wounds, and profoundly alter the emotional consciousness of the listener. This especially rare music played by the Tuatha De Dannan is said to be profoundly mesmerizing, hypnotic, and more beautiful than what we experience as Earth music. It has a captivating and timeless quality, often bewitching mortals who listen to its mysterious melodies. Legend tells of ancient Irish musicians who intentionally seek out the Tuatha De Dannan for training and return as the most marvelous master musicians of Ireland. Many ancient Irish compositions of the time are said to be the result of mortal musicians who have overheard this enchanting fairy music.
The first Noble Strain I play in is the strain of slumber, Suantrai, which has a soothing effect that can release tension & carried burdens, anxiety, and stress. This strain has a serene, dreamy, and calm quality that enables the patient to enter a state of timelessness and tranquility.
The next Noble Strain I play in is the stain of sorrow, Goltrai. Therapeutic Harp music played in this strain allows the patient to process their inner emotional depths through reflection, tranquility, and introspection. It may help to dissolve grief, sadness, pain, and loneliness. Crying may occur with music played in this strain because it has the ability to access the deep energetic aspects of an individual and bring them to surfaced awareness. Other times, I observe the patient experience increased inward processing and stillness. Whether the degree of cathartic experience is great or small, I always use comfort and nurturing as primary tools of assistance so that the patient can feel safe and protected
The final Noble Strain I will then play in is the strain of merriment, Geantrai, which has an uplifting and gentle quality. As Therapeutic Harp Practitioners, we are trained to never leave an individual processing through the sorrow strain, so we play in the stain of laughter to promote joy, contentment, and optimism. I often see smiles and eyes that radiate happiness when I play this strain. It has a light quality that is relaxing and fun.
The Celtic Circle of Music
Amanda Odish, C.T.H.P.
Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner
Amanda Odish, C.T.H.P.
Today, graduates of the International Harp Therapy Program are trained in the skill of playing the Three Noble Strains of Celtic music in service to their patients. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to carry on this ancient tradition of legendary music. After determining the resonant tone of the individual, I will then play in one of the eight keys of music that match their unique frequency. In that key, I proceed to play the Three Noble Strains in what we as Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioners call the Celtic Circle. The Celtic Circle is a specifically formulated pattern of music using the Three Noble Strains in a cyclical manner. Through the Celtic Circle, the patient has the opportunity to partake in a transformational journey through these three primary emotional states in a safe, loving, and nurturing environment in order to promote optimal healing, catharsis, and wholeness.