Spiritual versus earthly love. Will a spiritual love endure after our earthly needs have passed?

A Celtic tale of love and loss, deception and deceit. Part VI.

Kurithir and Prince Flann had uncovered the deception and betrayal that Moria and Aevil had instigated in an attempt to climb the social hierarchy of the time. It didn’t work! Armed with this knowledge can the Royal Party reach Liadan and reunite the two lovers?


He followed Flann through the hall and to the grianan (hillfort) the south wall; from there a troop of horsemen were seen lounging in the shadow with four more horses for women riders.

“It looks a holiday for gay gallants,” said Kurithir but Flann had no smile; he strode to the door and threw it open.

The grianan was no longer the lightsome ladies’ chamber for broideries or games or music. An altar was there and candles lit and four nuns knelt where a priest recited a prayer and their voices responded.

One voice out of the others pierced the heart of Kurithir and he broke from his friend calling out in love but the priest stepped between and the eldest nun threw a grey veil over the primrose face he knew.

“Liadan!” he cried.


She drew the veil aside and the two lovers looked long at each other. But even with love in her eyes she put out her hand.

“It is for life, Kurithir,” she said.

“I have come for you!”

“Flann, my brother, tell him!” she said.

“I knew,” said Flann, “but had hoped to outride the ending. This is why Aevil met us in queenly circlet and royal robes at sunrise to flaunt, before Liadan, a final magnificence.”

“We are here to guard a new sister on the way to sanctuary of Clonfert,” said the priest. “From this day she has no life in the world. Men are her brothers, women her sisters. There are no other human bonds for her.”

“But there are bonds not human, between two mortals,” said Kurithir. “I have gone through hell to learn that truly and have sailed far over deep seas to bring the word to her.”

“It cannot be said here,” said the priest. “You are doing sacrilege in your speech. You disturb the spirit of her on her path to Paradise. You should go to your confessor for penance and abide by his ruling!”

“Penance will I welcome for her sake,” said Kurithir, ” and some brotherhood will I find to give right of converse with this, my friend. For that I will wear the robe and go into silence forever after.”

Her eyes were on his as she passed out the portal between the two nuns. The look in her eyes was the look of the nights on the sea. Yet there was question in that look and a wistful question.

Flann bade them farewell in place of Aevil and watched them cross the plain into the forest.

“The evil magic of Moria lives on, even though her body is dead,” he said. “She put into the head of Donal this business of sanctuary and Aevil helped as she might, until this is the end.”

Kurithir was silent, thrilled by that look and dazed with the temptings to follow after, to take her and reach the sea and sail to some land of foreign men, even though all the bells of Erinn rang their curses on him.

“Did you mean that as to wearing the robe of a brotherhood?” asked Flann.

“I would do more for one day of converse out of life with her,”

That night he abode with Flann. When the late stars were going into the west, she came as on the sea and crept between his arms and lay silent there.

No songs were between them that night and no words. She rested like a tired bird after long wanderings and in the morning he told Flann of how it was between them.

“She will walk free in a walled garden,” he said. “Peace she has and no fear and in the Dun of Conchinn she had many and strange fears and of them she would speak to me and not in dreams.”

“I am believing your word,” said Flann. “No other man could but I saw the look. In all of life I will see nothing again like that. My feet are on the earth and my cares are of earthly things.”


A runner from the castle of the kings came to Flann at the breaking of fast and he opened the seals of the tablet and read, took Nealis the cleric and went to the chamber of Aevil.

“Daughter of Mona,” he said, “the dower of a daughter of Donal shall be your portion. It goes with you for gifts to whichever holy home of cloistered women you may choose from out all Erinn.”

She crested her head like a dark serpent and her eyes were points of jet with jewelled disks on the band above them.

“My Spanish blade is not in my holding else there would be another man than you in line for the crown of Hugh,” she said. “You would wall me from the world that the greyling rhymer come to you at last. Late it is for that and she under veil! All bells of church in Erinn would ring to damn you.”

“Liadan is not involved in this, nor can be,” he said. “You go to a cloister for a dagger stroke to a churchman, with thought to silence his speech in death. You could be killed like a wolf for that and no one to make further question. But Liadan wears the veil to pray for sinners and she would not have wish that you die in such sin as you have known. You go also into cloister lest you bring to birth a thing of poison such as your mother bred. You are of the women who knows lust but not love and as such should not be breeding.”

“What then of the love of that greyling?” she asked in mock. “What is the thing it breeds in men?”

“Its breeding will last while speech of Erinn lasts–and after! Liadan’s is the mystical soul. Aengus (a god of love of the Tuatha Dé Danann) of the white birds is the priest to hear her confessing. His is the key to unlock gates for Liadan where your feet and my feet may not walk.”
 Then while she brooded there Flann turned to Nealis the cleric.

“To you the records of this,” he said, “and let me not hear even the name of cloister she is choosing. It is the daughter of Moria who enters that silence and is not the wife of Flann. See you to that–and your life and her life to answer if there is mis-writing in this rule of mine!”

Aevil, glooming, took her last throw of the dice of fate.

“To the ears of Hugh the king this may go on a day to be,” she said, “and he may make other ruling against an heir of his.”

“The king of Erinn has no heir,” said Flann, “and when the time comes, it is a, clean woman he will be choosing for the mother of heirs. That is a riddle for your reading.”

But she read it quickly and stood up, and cried aloud. “He is dead then–dead at last! And you are the king!”

“Since the sun of yesterday went down, I am king,” said Flann. “I go now for the seat of the king, and the taking of the white rod.”

AEVIL, daughter of the dark woman, took from her hair the gold circlet she was pleased of her pride to wear and trampled it under foot in her rage at the thing she had coveted and had lost. She knew no record would be writ into the annals of Flann to show that when he was only a prince and had gay journeys for his pleasure, he had ever taken to wife a daughter of Donal of Slieve Mis.


After the trials of his sea journey it appears that Kurithir has lost his earthly love to the Church. How though does the love of the souls and mystical breeding survive such a doctrine? There is a power of the vow which has outweighed the ‘old’ power of the gods. During this time a vow to the church outweighed that of a King.

Can Kurithir content himself with ‘nightly spiritual’ visits from Liadan. She is clearly content as she has safety and can ‘walk (spiritually) free in a walled garden’. These visits are tangible to Kurithir. His strength in this belief will give him contentment.

As King, Flann has now given his ruling against Aevil. What was attempted by Moria and Aevil has failed. Even worse for Aevil, she has lost her position in society and been banished to a secret location….never to be heard of again! Having set the wheels in motion for Liadan to be cast into a convent…she has now fallen into her own trap. The moral is to be wary and watch the lies one tells and the schemes one weaves. It is yet to be shown in the tale whether truth and love wins.

Worthy of note within this section is the fact that the ‘new’ Christian church had taken precedence over the power of Kings. The King, in this instance, still quoted from the lineage of the old gods of Ireland, still being impressed by that lineage. It seems clear that whilst the power had shifted, the old ways were still revered and often ran alongside the new Christian faith. However as shown, the power and doctrine of this new faith had the effect of killing off those that were taken into it’s home and away from the old beliefs. Removing them from an earthly existence, even prior to death. Such was this overarching power beyond the old ways.


You may have some thought about this? Please let me know and comment.

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I found this story on the Sacred Texts site. Visit the site for the full version of the story together with a fantastic selection of sacred texts and tales from around the world.

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