Skip to main content

Imbas Forosnai – Visionary Inspiration

Imbas Forosnai- Visionary Inspiration

In ancient Ireland, there existed a ritual called Imbas Forosnai that the filídh, poets or seers, would practise to achieve visionary inspiration. The filídh were the successors of the druids, as the old gaelic tradition was an oral one, wisdom was passed down by word of mouth. In Brehon law times in Ireland, the poets were also the law givers, as the law was sung in verse.  This ancient oral tradition was partially written down by the druids of Tara, and St Patrick, in the 4th century in the Senchus Mór (pictured). The brehon law of the gaelic old order survived from time immemorial in Ireland until the 17th century.

Imbas Forosnai was a ritual used to invoke altered states of consciousness, and achieve visionary inspiration, or manifestation that enlightens. One of the oldest written records of Imbas Forosnai comes from the Sanas Cormaic, written in 908 AD. At this time the old pagan and druidic ways were already being forced underground, or assimilated, by the emergence of christianity. Imbas Forosnai is also frequently mentioned in much older Fenian Mythological cycle, An Fhiannaíocht, from the 2nd century AD, and is referenced in the Senchus Mór itself, the oldest surviving written gaelic law. Imbas Forosnai is even mentioned in the oldest of all celtic, irish mythology, the pre-christian era Táin Bó Cúailnge of the Cú Chulainn cycle. 

Imbas Forosnai is  described in Sanas Cormaic as a ritual involving eating the ‘red flesh’, thought to be a reference to the fly agaric, a psychedelic mushroom which grows in great abundance in Ireland. In shamanic rituals, it would have been combined with the liberty cap psilocybin mushroom to achieve altered states of consciousness.

Like the Mazatec indigenous tradition in Oaxaca, Mexico, where psychedelic mushrooms were used for healing, an indigenous tradition of psilocybin use existed in Ireland. Centuries of colonisation and suppression damaged this tradition, but it is not true to say that it became entirely extinct. Our old ways got passed down through the wise women, the mystics and the healers, and there exists to this day in Ireland, elders who remember some of our old traditions, and it came down to us through our music, folklore and mythology. Every Autumn, the psilocybin mushrooms grow in great abundance on our ancestral sacred sites and ancient places of worship.

At Inwardbound Psilocybin Retreats, we see ourselves as remembering our own ancestral, Irish, indigenous tradition of psilocybin use for visionary inspiration and healing. In Ireland, after a long colonial legacy of disempowerment, we are reclaiming our indigenous, gaelic culture, our ancestral memory, and tradition for ourselves.