Hello all:

Off list, Dennis and I have been discussing uses of the "nine waves" motif
and its significance.

In LGE, after the Milesians fail in their first attempt to take Ireland, a
small group meets with E/riu, Banba, and Fodla. E/riu agrees to give the
Milesians her help in another attempt to take Ireland, provided her name is
given to the land. Then, as Rees & Rees (_Celtic Heritage_) put it:

"I pronounce it," said Amairgen, "Let this island be left to them."
"How far shall we go?" said Éber.
"Past nine waves," said Amairgen.

Why pull out beyond the ninth wave? And what do the nine waves represent?
Was this some sort of boundary between local and international waters?

In connection with this, I *think* there's something in hagiography or canon
law about babies born of incest being set in baskets beyond the ninth wave
with the notion of letting "God" decide the child's fate. Dennis wrote that
EIL mentions putting a child of incest adrift out to sea "as far as a white
shield is visible". (I can't help wondering how such a standard was
measured. Surely not on a foggy day! ;>)

Do others on the list have thoughts/references on any of this?

Francine Nicholson

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