As promised in my first blog. Over the next few blogs I’d like to share with you a story that really made me think about how we connect with the loves of our lives. I found this story on the Sacred Texts site. It is a short story from a series that forms part of a book called ‘The Druid Path’ by American Author, Marah Ellis Ryan from 1917. It is a collection of Celtic tales and modern (in 1917!) short stories. I have tried to adapt the somewhat old fashioned writing style to make it more accessible for today but keep a flavour of the past style.
Marah Ellis Ryan was a remarkable character, having lived for the last 25 years of her life with the Hopi native Americans, claiming that she was the only white woman at that time to have been admitted to the sacred religious rites of the Hopi.
The story in question was written about a time, long ago, around 865 CE, on an island that is now called Ireland. It is a story of love and loss, deception and deceit. It is one that transcends time and that, even today, we can connect with through the drama and the schemes born of jealousy and betrayal.
I hope that you’ll enjoy the story.
The Tale of
LIADAN AND KURITHIR
“I am Liadan. Who loved Kurithir. It is true as they say.
“The music of the forest, together with the voice of the purple sea would sing to me when with Kurithir.”
It was the time of High King Hugh Finnliath of Erinn. The young sun of May lay on the land. The hawthorn was in bloom against the hills, and the cuckoo was calling as it flew in long billowy glides to its mate in the yew-tree nest.
As the bird looks to its mate, so her grey eyes went, along with the heart of Liadan na Donal when she looked on Kurithir. The poet and friend of kings from Far Connaught. Fair and gracious was he among the friends of her host. Fair and gracious also was Flann Siona, Prince of the Sionan, standing beside him as they greeted Liadan and Aevil, her elder sister, who was beautiful as a night of stars.
It was not the beauty of his bronze-gold hair, or the blue eyes of Kurithir that held her. It was not the beauty of his raiment of jewelled links. Both sisters were not without grandeur themselves in the castle of their father, Castle Donal. Out of all the guests, she didn’t know if Kurithir, bent head or knee more graciously than others. She knew only that his eyes looked deep, and looked steady, into her own, and that without words they bore to her a message.
The message was strange because her heart leaped in her bosom to meet it, and that was a new thing in her life.
That message was this:
“We have found the way to each other at last, and both of us knowing it!”
Other eyes saw that look, along with the wild-rose flush on her white throat. Aevil, her half-sister, spoke bitter words when they were safe within their chamber that evening. Also present was Aevil’s dark nurse, whose name was Moria, whose lore was deep in herbs and curious knowledge of ancient druid-craft.
“Know you not that as elder sister my day of marriage must pass before your day of courting?” raged Aevil. “That is why I am making this circuit of visits. To see the lands and the furnishings of our friends. It was in my charity that I brought you with me and an ill day it was to me!”
LIADAN sat by the window and looked down into the enclosed garden where a red rose tree and a white rose vine were twining against the stone wall. She made no reply to her sister, for her thoughts were all of Kurithir and that look in his eyes. She felt close to him, just as the white rose twining to the tree of the red bloom.
But Moria talked much as she smoothed the black hair of Aevil and vowed by the Elements that the beauty of Aevil greatly exceeded all others at the Castle of Dearg and that the eyes of Flann Siona of Erinn had not passed her by…nor for that matter had that of the other men.
There was truth in this, for Aevil was a stunning beauty. Her pride was great because of her knowledge of this beauty to which all men did honour. Liadan had heard all her life that there was no beauty in Connaught to compare with Aevil who should, for beauty alone, be a queen. Liadan was well content that the crown would go to her sister, as long as she had her harp and her garden and now…two blue eyes for mirrors!
But Aevil stormed and threw off the hand of Moria and would hear no caressing of words.
“Well you know there is one man spoken about here for me to meet and that man is Kurithir the poet,” she said. “He is the man whose songs are sung by many and my greeting was spoiled by a grey rat!”
“Only my eyes are grey, sister,” said Liadan, “and if you don’t like my grey robe, it shall be put aside for our visit. What you choose shall be done; all is one to me.”
For the song of joy was so strong in her heart that all the world was shining summer for her. Her slender grey-clad feet trod as upon the clouds of heaven because of that look in his eyes. She donned a robe of green with a girdle of silver, and in the brown curls of her hair she fastened green jewels from far off lands. In the rush light of the great hall she slipped quiet as a moonbeam. However, Flann and Kurithir, who were foster brothers and friends forever, left all others in the hall to bow before her.
“We look for Maighdenmara in the old sea waves where the white foam is,” said Flann. “Men never hope to see her drive in a chariot from the forest.”
Kurithir said nothing but his eyes were on hers. Liadan liked that best and dreamed of him sweetly that night on her maiden pillow.
In the dawn Flann and Kurithir walked along the sea cliff and spoke as brothers in bond.
“There are other maids and many for you, Flann. For me there is only this one and I love her.”
“You speak your heart and that is best, comrade. My eyes will look the other way as her sister is a fair queen for any castle.”
“I am thinking no castles,” said Kurithir, “I am thinking of a little house under the oaks where the thrushes sing, where heart can hear heart away from the sound of the steps of man. My harp I will take along with hers. Her hands were like white lilies on the strings when she touched them last night. I could have knelt at her feet for joy that we have found each other.”
“It is good to be you, Kurithir,” said Flann, who was a king’s son. “May you hear the thrushes sing.”
Kurithir went back at sunrise and watched her window in the tower until her face looked down on him. She dare not speak because of Aevil and Moria. She could not go to him as for the locked door and the key on the chain of Moria. She looked at him with all her heart in her eyes. A white rose she let fall from her breast to his, that was the first gift of Liadan and Kurithir.
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