A Celtic tale of love and loss, deception and deceit. Part VII. The End.
Liadan and Kurthir have been separated through the vow taken before the church. How long will they remain apart and will their souls ever become content with this separation?
Of Kurithir there were records for there was grief on Erinn when he put aside the music of the world and took a monk’s robe for the cover of his youth.
And the day of days came to him when he eventually earned indulgence of his confessor, to talk apart in the walled garden and the converse to be of things spiritual with a noble woman and a youth between them as was custom with mortals in sanctuary.
And there Liadan came to him and his hands touched hers after the long days.
“O Heart of me,” she said, “twice have I made earthly tryst with Kurithir and this time he is keeping it!” “And the May roses in bloom and the thrush again singing,” he said. “Speak again, speak, Liadan! It is long we have whispered in the nights apart and now you are in my touch and I would hear your living voice, Liadan.”
“Kurithir, Kurithir, Kurithir!” she said. “There has been no music like your name written in my heart.”
“Your harp is with me. I mended the strings, and the wind plays on them in the nights in my window, Liadan.”
“I know,” she said, “and I wrote ‘love’ in ogham on the frame of your harp and you only found it there when you came back from the sea.”
“That is true,” he said, “you are in the likeness of a flower, Liadan, yet are you strong as mortals are not strong and you found strong ways to come to me over ocean.”
“I was dying that time, Kurithir and the death shadow was on me for the shame that you thought my tryst song of evil boldness.”
“Liadan! Liadan! We have only this day.”
“Kurithir, we have all the days forever, Kurithir!”
The sun went behind the world and the birds called to each and the moon of May grew warm through the dusk as the youth walked in the shadows while Liadan lay in the arms of Kurithir. Their litanies of love were murmured there and ever the wonder that their souls had found the way of meeting.
“You were the mystic rose, O Kurithir. The fragrance led me through the deep to you.”
“Oh, sweetest bloom! There was no fragrance on the sea till you were bringing it.” he said.
“You heard the music, too, O Kurithir?”
“With my lips on your rose-leaf body I was hearing it all the nights. You brought it there. It was like this the clasp thrill of your hand.” “It was like this the yearning of my mouth.”
The moon went down and the stars of dawn broke on the world and Aevil, a veiled woman who had once dreamed of Erinn’s crown stood watching two sleeping lovers in the convent garden. The youth crept from the shadows at sound of her step and lifted the discarded veil of Liadan.
He spoke and the lovers wakened and smiled at the waking and at the dear closeness of the other but Liadan cowered in the arms of Kurithir at glimpse of the mocking eyes of the watching woman, Aevil.
“Is it even to a cloistered garden that Aengus, god of Youth Dreams and love, brings you the key for soul mysteries, O Liadan of Kurithir?” she asked.
“The Liadan of Kurithir is a new name to me and a proud one, sister. Shadow there may be on it but no shame.”
“By the Elements, you dare it well, greyling and well your lover! It may be the prior and the abbess can give vouchings for you.”
Cummine, the abbott came to them there at the bidding of Aevil and shouted holy wrath at sight of the veil of Liadan.
“It was not told me that a veiled woman was the friend he would converse with in this sanctuary,” he said. “This is a shame beyond words to both our houses and beyond penance.”
“I could kill you here, Liadan, before their hands touch your sweet body, Liadan,” whispered Kurithir. But she shook her head and took her veil from the youth.
“In that way we might lose each other in some dread darkness, Kurithir,” she said. “But now we will never lose each other. Give me sweet farewell, O Kurithir.”
They bound him there and took him away for torture and penance in a stone cell of the “Solitary Ones” on whom silence is put forever.
They stripped her in shame that she might walk in only her winding-sheet of the grave and that walk was nightly and her slender bare feet on the rough stones to the place of tombs. Before all the line of cloistered women she walked thus until the stones of the way were red from her bleeding feet.
After that they took her to a stone cell at the edge of the forest where holy women might not soil their eyes on her. Only her confessor and a poor lay sister came to her window there. She was under penance of silence and writing-tablets were hers for speech.
She wrote prayers on the tablets and she wrote confessions. There were times when she wrote poems.
The years left no trace of age on her she was ever the primrose face of May. Myths grew up around her because of that and because of other mysteries.
At a time when the Danish raiders were stealing up the Sionan to the heart of the land, Kurithir wrote the number of their vessels and the number of their shields. When questioned and told to speak, he asked that Flann, king of Erinn, be sent a warning and gather shields, for Liadan of the cell in the forest had seen them coming and asked him in the night to send word to Flann the king.
When the men of Flann took the battle path and proved the truth of it by a battle, Flann himself rode to Clonfert and talked with the abbot there and silence was lifted from Liadan and from Kurithir.
The son of a dead prince of Tormond was being disciplined at that time for the reason that he wished to revoke the gift of his life to the cloisters. The gift had been made by his kindred when he was a child, and was not binding on his soul. He had been with the spearmen for the defense against the Danes and there was a wound in his shoulder and he talked as prince to prince with King Flann.
“Since my days of a child I have lived this life, and the schools of it delight me,” he said. “I have joy in the work of the annals and their making. I may come back in gladness to cloisters when the snow is on my hair, but they call me ‘God’s Dastard’ for the reason that I would walk free into the world in my youth to win what youth may win.”
“It was not always so with him,” said his confessor darkly. “There was a time indeed when he was quite content.”
“Yes, when I was a youth,” said the soldier-monk, but his face went white and he looked elsewhere. “Come, tell me of it,” said Flann, and walked away with him.
“You are a man and not a monk, Flann, and I can speak. I was a youth here it is not so long ago. I saw the love-night of Liadan and Kurithir.”
Flann looked at him and the tears were thick in his eyes for the penance done for that one night of a May moon.
“Then you saw that which was holy, for there was no evil ever in the soul of Liadan,” he said.
“The scourgings were given and were heavy,” said the youth, “but the speech they did not get.”
Flann took the youth away with him and later placed him back at the head of the province where his jealous kindred were dividing his goods and his lands.
So, by this and by that, Flann left trace of the heart-faith he gave to Liadan and to his friend, Kurithir who had the love of her.
Flann lived as a king lives and took to wife Maelmara, the queen of Hugh Finnlaith, who had no knowings of druid power or of jealous loves and children grew around them to strengthen their bond.
But when death came to Liadan and Kurithir and their souls met at last tryst and did not come again to either body, it was Flann the king who did them honour. It was by his will that the building of their tomb was at the cell of Liadan in the edge of the forest where the thrushes sang.
It was also Flann the king who had their poems of love writ on fine vellum and set in a golden, gem-crested casket, that the memory of Liadan might live.
But in the wreckage made by wars and plundering the treasure books and annals of beauty were wrested from many a castle and monastery and stripped of their cases of silver and pale gold and copper into which jewels were craftily set. Among such plunder of priceless worth fell the royal gifts of Flann the king, whose memorial slab at Cluain- mac-noise is a wonder of beauty.
And of the veiled poet-maid whose soul he saw rightly, there has come down through the centuries only fragments of her love lines and among them her wistful unashamed confession:
“I am Liadan Who loved Kurithir, It is true as they say.”
So, one final physical meeting results in separation for all time. Evil (Aevil) seems to be ever present within the physical world. However, Liadan is now content that she and Kurithir will always be together through the connection of their souls. Liadan, due to her knowledge of druid power, ancestral lineage from the Tuatha Dé Danann and a near death experience, knows they will never be parted. The discovery of ‘the key to soul mysteries’ has been uncovered.
What is clear from the final part of the story is that such tales are lost to time through ravages of war and plunder. Parts are made into myths and may become legends, very often recorded on tombstones and shrines. When we look upon such carvings and partial sources can we immediately identify with the ‘true’ bond between lovers?
‘I am Liadan. Who loved Kurithir, it is true as they say’
Are we able to understand these ‘Soul Mysteries’ today? Can we connect with our feelings in a deeper way than just feeling love, as they appear to have been able to in the past? Even over a 1000 years ago.
The many feelings of love feed our souls and drives many to do strange and miraculous things. There is unexplained spiritual power. The knowledge of such enables many to draw souls together, identify with others upon soul journeys and with those sharing soul mysteries.
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.
NOTICE OF ATTRIBUTION
Scanned at sacred-texts.com, January 2005. John Bruno Hare, redactor. This text is in the public domain in the US because it was published prior to 1922. It is in the public domain in the EU and UK since 2004 because the author died in 1934. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact in all copies.