“Guests from Overseas,” Nicholas Roerich, 1901, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Part 4: Prayers to Mary and Sesilída

Trumpets sounded, hillsides shook, trees
Fell, ancient forces descended upon Norse
Village broad-firth, army of twelve skeletons,
Bow bearing, marched upon their lands,
Abandoned save for one, Albrikt who stood
His battleground, shield held high against
Hundred arrows loosed, single-minded bony
Warriors so focused, they ignored their flanks,
Families across fiord, Viking ships afloat,
Hundred flaming arrows sent skeletons into
Blaze. Lo! Tree-top tall, horned Celtic god
Cernunnous, laid waste to all within his reach.

With swinging club, timber farmsteads and
Mead-halls were laid waste, livestock killed-
Scattered, revenge for death of goddess doe,
Fawn within her womb. Albrikt wielded  his
Battle axe at fiord water’s edge, fear of wind
And sea-spray, horned beast his distance
Kept as arrows from Viking boats assailed,
Standoff fighting tween sea and land, no
Victory seen. At this Gerduris, crone and
I witness from nearby hilltops. Of crone I
Asked, “To what holy mother do you pray in
Times of warring strife?” “Sesilída, Earth
Mother before standing stones.”

Arm-in-arm, three of us so prayed, Mother
Mary and Sesilída, holy cross and amulet,
Gerduris holding dagger high, holy women
We loved, obeyed, we hoped for all weapon
Wrath abated. Alas! Crimson auroral curtain
Turned darkness into blood-red night, the
Monster strained and staggered to edge of
Deep fiord. Flying spears from Albrikt and
Nearby longboats, Cernunnous toppled into
Brine, wailing, arms flailing, his last breath
Consumed by foaming abyss, bitter end of
Celtic curse, ancient gods of darkness.

“Woman with an Urn,” Gustave Boulanger, WikiArt.

Tomb resealed, Norse villagers from blessed
Hillside pastures returned to valley farmsteads,
White doe and fawn once again grazed sacred
Grasslands belonging to archaic gods. Our last
Visits and respects paid, return to Ireland home.
Despite promises, I heard no more from Albrikt,
Gerduris, or this Norse clan. Winter, summers
Time-blended, I bathed at sunlit glen, familiar
Druid standing stones, pondered what madness
Reigned thousand ages ago. My account shared
With trusted monk, Celtic vellum unrolled, we
Discovered, kept secret Sesilida, her origins.

Who could Sesilida represent from early Christian history?
With Poem No. 890, I will be beginning something new.
Thanks for reading.

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