“Pity,” Pierre Purvis de Chavannes, 1887, WikiArt.

Part 2: Betrys’ Druid Beliefs

For years I had served as sister in Christ,
Betrys delved deeper into pagan rites,
Primordial powers, earth dwelling. For as
I had traveled to Norse lands, she, too,
Had ventured to Gaul-Roman borderlands,
Where her beliefs (once mine) originated.
“We have no savior,” Betrys began. “Old
Ways required sacrifice, stabbing slaves,
Captives of warring tribes, blood upon
Altar stones, moments before death, earth
Visions received, sight of ancient gods.”

“Did you, have you performed such rites?”
I asked, “stabbings” I breathed. With single
Nod Betrys responded, her eyes told all,
Dark forces within overpowering, swooning
Without my cross and beads, I sat on nearby
Stones, reeling realization: Betrys killed by
Blade, worshiped dozen gods, some inspira-
Tional, oft brutal. Betrys was not my mirror,
But my coin opposite, twin sister of equal
Strength, faith, healing we both performed.
But what powers she evoked?

“Allegory of Charity,” Pierre Purvis de Chavannes, 1887, WikiArt.

“I pray to Mother Aventa,” Betrys offered
Confession or concession. From her pouch
On sunlit rock, she removed statuette of
Marble. “In another world, Mother Mary
She could be.” Hearing this I nodded, but
Within recoiled at Betrys’ next remark,
“I have killed in sacrifice as many saved
By healing skills, in our beliefs, balance
Sacred to Nature was attained.” Then she
Added, twist of knife, “Religion older than
Yours, Byrna, roamed these Irish lands.”

All she said was true, or so she believed.
“As much as I may love you, Betrys, we
Must part our ways.” Perhaps my heart
Was hardened, darkness touched, repelled.
“I hope we meet again,” Betrys stated, on
That we concurred, and with sister’s hugs,
Embrace, we gathered our religious relics,
Ironically, taking separate paths. “I love
You,” I shouted before she slipped into
Deep woods. Without her I felt emptiness,
My twin sister of blood-shared womb.

“Went into Hill Country,” Vasily Polenov, 1894, WikiArt.

Did vision of Christ on this very path push
My family away, my sister deeper into pagan
Beliefs? Her words about balance sacred to
Nature resonated in my heart. Yet, I knew my
Course, as ship with sails wind-filled, charity
Of farmers and fisherman, I took oar-rowing
Boat to high-sloped Isle of Skellig Mhór, met
With Father Blàthan, offerings of vegetables,
Honeyed wheat cakes, skin of Irish wine. By
Cloud-swept days, nights by candlelight, we
Talked and prayed, family, faith, and self-
Sacrifice, and for now, here I shall remain.

For now, Sister Muriel will be on sabbatical on Skellig Mhór. 
For more on this Irish monastic island, see this link: 
Thanks for reading this 900th poem. 

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