The Salmon Of Knowledge: A Story Of Meaning

There are stories from antiquity that are still, oh so very relevant to us, and speak to us across the great distances of time. Here’s one from the time of ancient Celts and Druids, that tells of the way the Universe can benevolently ‘nudge’ circumstances in our favour, as it did for one young man.

Do bear in mind that to the ancient Celts and Druids the Hazel tree mentioned in this story was/is associated with ultimate wisdom.

The story goes, that:

…a young boy called Fionn, after his father died, was brought by his mother to a poet named Finnegas to be tutored and learn all he could, so that young Fionn could eventually join a group of well-renowned Irish warriors.

But, in order to join that mighty band of warriors, a man needed to have great wisdom and, yes, a knowledge of poetry. Finnegas the poet taught Fionn all he knew, and Fionn grew to be a fine young man.

Finnegas often talked wistfully about the myth of the salmon of knowledge. The salmon of knowledge was a fish that swam through the rivers of Ireland and nibbled at hazelnuts that dropped into the river (hence the ‘knowledge’ connection), but it was elusive, and so very difficult to catch. Anyone who caught it, however, and was first to eat that particular salmon would gain all the wisdom of the world.

Many months later as Fionn was studying, he heard Finnegas calling him frantically from outside. Running to the river, Fionn saw that the Finnegas had, indeed, caught the salmon of knowledge!

Finnegas the poet instructed the young man to cook the salmon, slowly, for him to eat later, but warned him not to taste the fish at all – Finnegas knew that this was the salmon of knowledge, and wanted that knowledge for himself, and not for the young man.

The young Fionn did as he was told and began cooking the fish over a crude fire. He watched it carefully so as not to burn it, and occasionally turned the fish, which was on a skewer, so it could be rotated and cooked evenly,

Some time later, Fionn saw that the fish was about to fall into the fire and ash. Immediately, reaching out, he grabbed the fish to push it back on the skewer, and in the process burned his thumb.

Without thinking, Fionn stuck his thumb in his mouth and sucked it to soothe the burn. Guess what? Several flakes of that salmon was ingested by Fionn.

When Finnegas the poet saw what Fionn had done, he grew very sad. Ultimate knowledge! He knew that he would never gain all the knowledge of the world that he desperately sought after, but, eventually, he grew to be happy at the thought that Fionn had gained that wisdom and he believed Fionn would be the greatest warrior the Fianna, that band of Irish warriors, had ever known.

And, indeed that was the case. Fionn grew to be leader of that mighty band of warriors, and became a great leader in Ireland.

—ooOoo—

And, that’s how Fionn obtained great nowledge, and is yet another example of how the Universe, the Great Spirit, the One Behind It All can so work things on our behalf, too. This was read at Tadhg’s Thought For The Day on Tuesday, 8 September 2020 at his live-streaming Facebook broadcast.