The second task for Witchy Wednesday is to post about a story or myth from folklore. There are so many stories I’m fond of, it was hard to choose just one. At some point, I would like to put together a book of myths and stories for my daughter, so I even considered using this as an opportunity to write my own creation story – but I think I’ll let that one wait for another time.
Since it’s the planting season, and I’m feeling particularly green lately, I think I will go with the story of Airmed. While it will be based on traditional myth, the story will be one to add to the book of children’s folktales, so it will be my own creation.
Once upon a time, in the long long ago, there lived a family of great healers among the ancient People of Danu. The father, Dian Cecht, was master physician to the tribe and together with his children, tended to the health and well-being of his people.
Due to their power and skill, the family was also charged with the care of a magic spring that could heal any wound placed within its cool waters. This spring was kept secret as even a mortally wounded warrior could be dipped into the magic waters and would awake the next morning without so much as a scratch.
During one such battle, the Dannan king, Nuada, was maimed and lost his right arm. Dannan law prohibited an imperfect man from ruling as king, and so Dian Cecht fashioned a prosthetic arm out of silver for Nuada.
Dian Cecht’s son, Miach, boasted that his skill as a surgeon could surpass his father. His beseeched his sister, Airmed, to help him and together they grew a replacement arm of flesh and bone for their king.
Dian Cecht flew into a rage over his son’s insolence and the two quarrelled ferociously. When the fight was over, Miach was dead, and Airmed was devastated.
Airmed spent many days and nights at her brother’s graveside, building a cairn of stones around it. Once finished, she began to notice new life blossoming from the earth that covered her brother’s body.
365 different herbs sprang up across Miach’s grave; each one a cure the ailments of a specific part of the body. This was Miach’s gift to his sister: the key to the immortality of the gods.
She carefully laid all 365 herbs out on to her cloak in the order of their properties and took them back to her people. Her father, still angry with his children, overturned the cloak and scattered the herbs to the four winds.
“No human must learn the secret,” he said as Airmed watched her brother’s gift disappear into the night.
Airmed was saddened at the loss, but she remained with her people, using the knowledge that now only she possessed to heal and comfort them. She tended the sacred spring, and she taught all those who wished to learn of the magic in the green growing herbs.
Airmed’s tale teaches us to be steadfast to our calling even in the face of hardship. The gift of 365 herbs promises that time will heal all wounds.
We can honour Airmed by caring for nature and the plantlife all around us. Grow a garden and place near it a small stone fountain, or even just a bowl of spring water to celebrate her influence in our lives, and the gifts she bestows.