Aine is the Irish Goddess of Love, Summer, Wealth and Sovereignty, although she used to be known as the Goddess of Love and Light. Aine was also held dear as the Queen of the Elves, especially in the Middle Ages. She is represented by the Sun and Midsummer, and is sometimes symbolized as a red mare.
Aine is also symbolized by brightness, glow, joy, radiance, splendor, glory, magic, popularity and even fame. She is sometimes mistakenly equaled to Danu, because her name is somewhat similar to Anu. However, these are not the same Goddess.
Ayania, the most powerful fairy in Ulster, may actually be a variant of this Goddess. As well, in Limerick County, there is a hill named for Grian, located about seven miles from the hill named for Aine. This is believed to be either Aine's sister or, quite possibly, another variant referring to this Goddess.
Some of Aine's aliases include the Lady of the Lake, the Goddess of the Earth and Nature and the Goddess of Luck and Magick. She has been viewed as both a Sun Goddess and a Moon Goddess. When she's in her role of the Sun Goddess, Aine can shapeshift into “Lair Derg,” the “Red Mare,” the horse that can never be outrun.
As Moon Goddess, Aine guards her followers' livestock and crops. Farmers today still practice rites in her honor, hoping for her protection throughout the Wheel of the Year. In this aspect of herself, she is also known as a Goddess of Agriculture and Patroness of Crops and Cattle. This Goddess is thought to have given the people of Ireland the gift of grain.
Aine is an extremely popular Goddess. Many people worship her in the hope that she will gift them with prosperity, fertility, sexuality and abundance. She takes her role as a Love Goddess very seriously as encourager of human sexuality and teacher of love. Aine is a deeply passionate deity.
She is the daughter of Egobail, the sister of Aillen and/or Fennen. Her name is found in the family trees of multiple Irish clans. She is closely associated with the County of Limerick and the hill of Knockainy, Cnoc Aine, which was named for Aine. In Limerick County, she is known as the Queen of the Fairies. At Cnoc Aine, rites were held in her honor, involving fire and the blessing of the land. These rites are recorded as recently as 1879. The feast of Midsummer Night is currently held in her honor.
In earlier tales, Aine was “ravished” by the semi-mythological King of Munster, Ailill Aulom. Their affair apparently ended in Aine biting off Ailill's ear, which is where the name “Aulom” comes from at the end of his name. “Aulom” means “one-eared.” By biting off his ear, Aine deemed Ailill unfit to be king, thus taking away his power of sovereignty. It's interesting to notice that the Eoganachta claim Aine as an ancestor. The Eoganachta are the descendants of Aulom.
In some Irish tales, Aine is the wife of Gearoid Iarla. Apparently, this was not a consented marriage, rather Gearoid raped Aine. To retaliate, the Goddess either turns him into a goose, kills him and/or both. Through this tale, the Geraldines also claim a close association with Aine. This tale represents the most extreme degree of Gaelicization. The Fitzgeralds are known to be “more Irish than the Irish themselves.”
Still another tale depicts Aine as being either the wife or daughter of Manannan mac Lir, an Irish mythology sea deity, who also appears in Scottish and Manx legends.