Origins of the “Gaelic Blessing” used at quasi-Christian, pagan and “humanist” funerals, and in a piece by John Rutter

Transphobic druidic mumbojumbo by William “Fiona” Sharp, in which God answers a prayer and cures a Hebridean fisherman’s feminine gender identity.

I first heard of the following from a professional funeral celebrant who later recounted that she had lost her faith and only then decided to become a minister – I guess by the thoroughly respectable route of buying a certificate online:

GAELIC BLESSING (Secular version)

Deep peace of the running waves to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
May the road rise to meet you;
May the wind be always at your back;
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
May the rain fall softly on your fields.
Until we meet again,
May Nature hold you in the hollow of her hand.

It’s hard to imagine how any but a fool or a hypocrite could assimilate a belief in the afterlife to secularism, and so-called humanists appear to have borrowed this particular tool from borderline Christians, who use it in forms such as this:

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

The original is afaik by William Sharp aka Fiona Macleod (1855-1905), author of the some of the most tremendous Celtic kitsch I have come across. Mr Sharp got mixed up with the wrong crowd (Rossetti…), married his cousin, inveigled his sister into assisting him with his female impersonation, and was a member of the stark raving bonkers Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – the bit in Wikipedia where the magician William Westcott loses the secret papers in a taxi is priceless.

The amadan” is from the collection The dominion of dreams: under the dark star (1899), published under his “Fiona” persona. It tells the story of a Hebridean fisherman called Alisdair who has become depressed and now also believes he is a woman – but called Enya, not Fiona. A blind man takes him in, though the dog doesn’t seem very happy about it, and cures him thusly:

Thereafter he put upon him this eolas of healing touching the brow and the heart as he said here and here

Deep peace I breathe into you,
O weariness, here:
O ache, here!
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to you;
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you;
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
Deep peace, pure brown of the earth to you;
Deep peace, pure grey of the dew to you.
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you!
Deep peace of the Yellow Shepherd to you.
Deep peace of the Wandering Shepherdess to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to you.
Deep peace from the Son of Peace to you,
Deep peace from the heart of Mary to you,
And from Bridget of the Mantle
Deep peace, deep peace!
And with the kindness too of the Haughty Father,
In the name of the Three who are One,
And by the will of the King of the Elements,
Peace! Peace!

Then, for a time he prayed: and, as he prayed, a white and beautiful Image stood beside him, and put soft moonwhite hands upon the brow of the Amadan.

In this wise the beauty of Alan Ball’s spirit, that had become a prayer, was created by God into a new immortal spirit.

The Image was as a wavering reed of light, before it stooped and kissed the soul of Alasdair, and was at one with it.

Alasdair opened his eyes. God had healed him.

I think it could have done with a few fairies (the Yellow Shepherd is surely a Scottish incarnation of Dr. Fu Manchu, which is rather different), but I admit to being high church in such matters.

I’ve been thinking of becoming a minister myself to make a bit more money with the street organ, and am considering Pastafarianism, basically on the grounds that their diplomas are roughly half the price of those of the Church of the SubGenius. Other offers considered.

Update: R points me to a piece by Richard Le Gallienne, a younger contemporary and associate of the Sharps, The mystery of Fiona Macleod, which reflects well the turmoil of that time and includes a message released on WS’s death:

This will reach you … after my death. You will think I have wholly deceived you about Fiona Macleod. But, in an intimate sense this is not so, though (and inevitably) in certain details I have misled you. Only, it is a mystery. I cannot explain. Perhaps you will intuitively understand or may come to understand. ‘The rest is silence.’ Farewell. WILLIAM SHARP.”

Another update: Sinéad O’Conperson was also once asked whether she thought she was Enya, but she is not known to have ever said that she is a man.

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Last updated 26/08/2022

Celtic Revival (1): The Celtic Revival was a variety of movements and trends in the 19th and 20th centuries that saw a renewed interest in aspects of Celtic culture.

Church of the SubGenius (1): The Church of the SubGenius is a parody religion that satirizes better-known belief systems.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1): Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, generally known as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was a British poet, illustrator, painter and translator.

Enya (1): Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin, known as Enya, is an Irish singer, songwriter, musician and producer.

Flying Spaghetti Monster (3): The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pastafarianism.

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (1): The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) was an organization devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

John Rutter (1): John Milford Rutter is an English composer, conductor, editor, arranger and record producer, mainly of choral music.

Richard Le Gallienne (1): Richard Le Gallienne was an English author and poet.

Sinéad O'Connor (1): Magda Davitt on 8 December 1966) is an Irish singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra.

Street performance (274):

Transphobia (1): Transphobia is a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions toward transgender or transsexual people, or toward transsexuality.

William Sharp (writer) (1): William Sharp was a Scottish writer, of poetry and literary biography in particular, who from 1893 wrote also as Fiona Macleod, a pseudonym kept almost secret during his lifetime.


  1. It’s so ironic that you did a blog on prayers of peace while insulting everyone in sight. In any case, thank you. I skipped all your insults and went right to the good stuff! I wish you could find some of this peace in your own heart.

    1. I totally agree. I am, however, at a loss for a civil comment to the buffoon who fancies himself a writer.

  2. Ooh, somehow a book-burning sort has inadvertently added some life to these old words. Bravo :)

  3. I found this helpful. I don’t mind the snark because there is some historical information in this. Thanks for your blog.

  4. What a load of absolute bollocks you write. You’ve even twisted the original version of the story to fit your agenda, since William Sharp, who used the pen-name, Fiona Macleod, continually refers to the Amadan as ‘he’, in his many stories about this spirit, and Alasdair is possessed by the Amadan for a while.

  5. I still love the words of the “Deep Peace” prayer with the Christ part edited out for us nondenominational types, no matter who wrote them and why.

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