Tailtiu’s Story

lughnasadh2013medallionsWe celebrated Lughnasadh yesterday with the Grove, with Warriors’ Games and ritual and feasting. Lugaid and I took home the championships for the second year in a row, and I’m so thankful for all the competitors who played with honour and good hearts. I had so much fun! I’m so proud of me for throwing over 30 feet with both the hammer and javelin, and of Lugaid for finally breaking 100 feet (107!) with the javelin — even though he DQed by stepping over the line.

At the start of the day, we also witnessed the creation of a new Shrine, The Sacred Song Shrine, of the Correllian Nativist Tradition, with my sister in spirit Terrie as Shrinekeeper. I was so honoured to have served as handmaiden in their inaugural rite, to sing strongly to the gods of the Shrine, and to hear magic being woven on the wind. What an awesome rite!

I wanted to share this story that I wrote for our Grove ritual; it was accompanied by carrying in a loaf of bread representing Tailtiu, and decorating it with flowers as the last paragraphs were being read.

Tailtiu’s Story

When the world was made, sacrifice changed the stuff of the cosmos.
Rivers flowed from red blood, plants sprouted from damp flesh, and above all, the watchful eye of the Sun shone down. The world was borne anew.

Tailtiu arose from the Earth’s creation, like all other gods and spirits. The coming together of star-stuff merged within her, gave her life. And she made her home in Meath, in Ireland, in the woods of Cuan, amongst the old trees.

There she lived, and there she tended to the growth from the Earth, the trees and flowers, and made friends with the birds and deer. She preferred the solitude of the woods to the gatherings of the folk. That is, until she met Eochaid mac Eirc.

He came through the forest one day, hunting deer, and came upon Tailtiu’s home in the woods. Her soft brown eyes and long shining hair entranced him, and she was equally as smitten. He took her home to his people, the Fir Bolg, and Tailtiu’s world was opened. Children, families, each and every one borne from the Earth and connected to it, a sense of community Tailtiu didn’t know she had missed.

Tailtiu prayed for her own child, and from the windy North she got just that. A small babe, sentenced to death by his grandfather, with no home in his own tribe. Tailtiu took him to her breast, and raised him as her own. Lugh he was called, and soon the boy grew and learned with all the other Fir Bolg children, quickly surpassing them in strength and skill.

When Lugh was six years old, a tall man came from over the sea, with a cloak of many colours, wearing armor unlike any Tailtiu had ever seen. He promised to teach her foster-son all the arts of the world, and also care for the boy as if he were his own child. Though it pained her heart, she let him go each winter, for his own good, and looked forward to the warm summer days when her son would return home to her.

Over the years, the simple ways of the Fir Bolg tribe began to fade. War had supplanted them, the Tuatha Dé Danann expanding their territory and defeating Tailtiu’s tribe. Soon, even her own son deigned to return to his father’s people, and was crowned king there.

She was welcome there, among her son’s people, and they accorded her the honour due to a king’s foster-mother. She became well-known amongst the children, smiling and playful with each and every one, seeing within them the promise of what might be.

The Tuatha Dé began to move into the woods of Cuan. Though it pained her heart, she was ever loyal to her son, and Tailtiu joined the workers in clearing her beloved woods, for the future of the children of the tribe. But she was an old woman now, and the strenuous work soon took its toll on her.

She felt ill, weakened, and knew that soon, she would return to the dark embrace of the Earth. Lugh came to the forest to oversee the work, and there he found his beloved mother under the shade of a great tree.

As the last tree was cut, in his arms, she faded from this world, her spirit returning to the soil, to the waters, to the stars. His tears fell on her flesh, and he vowed there, that no person would forget the sacrifice of his beloved foster-mother.

Lugh carried her body into the centre of the plain, to prepare her for burial in the very plain she cleared. Fires were kindled, the druids performed the sacred rites, and the women keened for her. And so her sacrifice would never be forgotten, Lugh instituted her funeral games and peace fair, where all were welcome in the spirit of hospitality, as Tailtiu had shared with all folk in life.

When the world was made, sacrifice changed the stuff of the cosmos.
To the cosmos all beings return: their deeds remain as legacy, their bodies the stuff of the world.

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