The green grey morning is soft with mist.
Airmed sits on the soft earth of the mound, her yellow cloak spread empty before her covering the damp earth.
All around her lie green herbs, no longer fresh and growing for they were harvested in hope and are now scattered in sadness.
Airmed gathers the measure of her cloak around her and her thoughts are not soft.
She gathers her thoughts to her, garners her memories.
There was her father, Dían Cécht, physician to the Dé Dannan, greatest of healers who, when Nuada the king had lost his arm in battle, had not despaired.
“For though I cannot restore your arm”, he had told the blemished chieftain, “yet will I make you the greater.” And with his healing magic he had constructed a hand of silver so cunning that each joint moved to grip and grasp as easily as a hand of flesh.
Yes; the hand of silver had brought renown to Nuada Lám Argait, and it had kept him the kingship, for no blemished man could be king, but it had not healed the lost limb.
No; that had been left to Míach, her brother. Together, he and Airmed had learned the lore of healing, both becoming wise, each the measure of the other, until Míach had gone the further. With the magic of his learning he had recovered the lost hand of Nuada. For three times three days he had kept it by him, preparing it with spells and incantations, and then, when it was ready, he joined it, bone to bone, sinew to sinew, to Nuada’s arm. There it re-grew and Nuada was whole and healed.
If Nuada was glad of this healing miracle then Dían Cécht was not. A dark mood had descended on her father. Taking up his shining blade he brought it down upon his son’s head, cleaving the skin of his skull.
Míach healed himself.
Twice more, Dían Cécht brought the blade down on his son’s head, each time cutting into the skull more deeply.
Twice more, Míach healed himself.
Again the blade fell, and this time Míach’s brain was split in two and he died.
Airmed sadly buried her brother under a mound of soft earth and watched there as the bare soil softened and grew green with new grass; new grass and green herbs.
And Airmed had guarded these herbs, harvesting them in their time, sorting and recording them. For there were 365 herbs that grew from her brother’s grave, one for each of his joints and sinews, one for each day of the year ,one for each illness that ever had been or ever would be. She gathered and garnered them all.
But her father’s dark mood had not yet fled. He found her where she was. In his jealousy and anger he scattered the plants, destroying their order.
And Airmed sits still on her brother’s grave in the grey green morning. She sits with the basket of her empty cloak before her until the time of his seed healing shall come again.
Airmed is the daughter of the great Dé Danann physician, Dían Cécht, part of a family of healers. Together, they create the healing well of Sláine, which restores injured warriors at the Second Battle of Moytura. But do the meanings of their names tell a different story?
In our revisit to what may seem at first reading, a side story in the great battle saga, join the the Story archaeologists as they re-evaluate the role of Airmed and her family, finding their actions central to the main theme of the epic Moytura story.
In this episode, and our update, we referenced many other episodes, including our entire second series on Moytura.. However, for now, we will include a couple of the most relevant links.
For the story of Dían Cécht, Miach and Airmed in the context of Moytura, go to: The Battle of Moytura Episode 5: The Four Craftsmen.
For examples of laws on sick-lying ( crólige) in context go to : Dindshenchas 09: Tocmarc Étaíne 1 – A Fly On The Wall and Dindshenchas 10: Tocmarc Étaíne 2 – The Re-Born Identity
This is the second of two supplemental episodes supporting our recent podcast, Tales of Ethliu (revisited). “The Son of the King of Erin and the Queen of the Moving Wheel” is a folktale collected in the west of Ireland by Jeremiah Curtin in the late 19th century. The tale first appeared in “Irish Folktales”. This tale has a cast of powerful women. There is a wise warrior ‘Mammy’ and a bride with world class, martial arts at her finger-tips. There is even a Queen, with a lot to lose, who is driven to become a ‘wicked stepmother; and we must not leave out the supporting cast of magical beings including a family of five-headed giants and their Super-mammy.
The story also throws a new light on the image of Arianrhod and her Silver Wheel.
find a copy of “Irish Folktales“, collected and retold by Jeremiah Curtin.
Read the story of Arianrhod.
This time of year is a frenzy of shopping, family gatherings and exchange of gifts. But is this simply a modern phenomenon?
For this year’s MidWinter Special, the Story Archaeologists dig as deep as their virtual spades will go, comparing the deepest layers of human settlement through medieval mayhem to the contemporary craft fair, searching for the common threads.
Links from the Episode:
Here is The Óenach Project, research conducted by Patrick Gleeson under the Department of Archaeology at University College Cork.
Here is a talk given by Ian Hodder on entanglement at Göbekli and Çatalhöyük, “Origins of Settled Life“.
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Check our Reading List for further reading and resources.
Music: “Tam Lin” by Gian Castello
This is the first of two supplemental episodes supporting our recent podcast, Tales of Ethliu (revisited). “Elin Gow, the Swordsmith and the Cow, the Glas Gaianach” is a folktale collected in the southwest of Ireland by Jeremiah Curtin in the late 19th century. The tale first appeared in “Hero Tales of Ireland”. It is a great story that overlaps the better known, tale of Balor and the stealing of a marvelous cow but this version answers the surprising question of how the cow got to be kept by a sword-smith in the first place and fills in some details of Cian’s amazing adventures.
Read “Hero Tales of Ireland online.
Folklore from the Dingle Peninsular. Local folklorist , Doncha Ó Conchúir talks about ‘The Gate of the Cow”, two pre-historic stone pillars near Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry. He tells a recent version of the last milking of the marvelous cow. The stone pillars are very interesting. Maybe it is these pillars that gave rise to the story of the transformation of cian in the story we tell of Elin Gow.