Cúchulainn & Mórrígan


Nine hazel trees grew around the Well of Segais, where the sacred Salmon lived. The hazelnuts were wisdom, and the salmon ate them all as they fell into the pool.

All except one.

I took it.  But that is another story.

It was here long ago, that Fand Fea of the Faery first offered Cúchulainn her love.  He knew her then, and loved her.   But she was a shapeshifter, immortal and busy.  He was a hero.  Their love was intense, but brief, for both were called upon to fulfill their destinies.  Their paths seldom crossed for many months,  and she was always changing.  Nonetheless, she believed that having known her, this hero who had loved her should know her always.

She did not mind that he had other lovers, other wives.  Why should she? She was the Mórrígan.

Yet when she came to him again, in one of her many guises, he knew her not.  She was distressed and angry.  She believed he should have recognised her.  She shifted thrice and each time attacked him while he was in combat with Lóch mac Mofemis.

Three times he wounded her, breaking her arm (some say her ribs), then her leg and finally putting out an eye.  Three times he drove her back until at last she retreated.  Cúchulainn continued the battle with Lóch, and defeated him.

He went on his way, until he encountered an old woman milking a cow.  She was crippled, with a broken arm, a twisted leg and one eye.  She offered him milk which he accepted gratefully.  He drank three cups and with each he thanked her again with his blessing.  Yet even now he did not recognise her as her wounds healed with each blessing.  Despite this she was, for a time at least, appeased.

And so he went forth to do the deeds for which he became famous.

Three times more would he meet her.

She it was, the wise crone Cailleach, who offered him dog stew.  Though he was forbidden by his geis  to eat dog, he also could not deny the hospitality of a woman and thus doomed himself.

Had he recognised her how might it have been different?

Nor did he realise it was she, the Washer at the ford, who wept and mourned his coming death as he rode to combat against Lugaid.

Lastly, even as he was dying, it is said he did not know her.  She it was, the battle-crow Badb, who landed on his shoulder just in time to distract him while the third spear of Lugaid found his fire, and quelled it.

As he leaned against a standing stone, determined to die on his feet, she yet perched by his cheek, caressing it with her cruel beak and whispering in his ear.

Who knows? Perhaps at this very last he knew her, and maybe then she forgave him.


About Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.
This entry was posted in Autobiography, Fiction, Folk Story and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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