Part 2: Mary, Holy Mother, Goddess Brigit
Hard pulling rowboat oars, Betrys and I, Sister
Muriel, backs heaving, cresting waves breaking,
To sea-distant rocky heights of Skellig Mhór.
Slow progress against headwind spray, Father
Blàthan, anticipated two dark-hooded figures,
Face never seen, my Druidess twin sister. With
Us rowing, Irish fishers, their charity: bread,
Fish, cheese, for few monks at island monastery,
Daily labours, egg collecting, garden tending.
“How should I call him?” Betrys asked, sandals
Seawater sloshing at stone-slab dock. “Call him,
‘Father’ as I do. Upward winding steps, Betrys
Gazed. “Yes, 600 steps, each a prayer: strength,
Sin-forgiveness, health of family, above all –
Guidance for our voyage.” Alas! We climbed
Windswept heights, breath heaving, praying
First under-breath, then aloud, two sisters,
Pleas rising beneath cloud-scudding skies.
Scrap of cloth protruding from Betrys’ hand,
I asked, “To whom do you pray?” “Brigit,” she
Replied, wooden image of goddess, delicately
carved face, woven wool her robe, string tied
Sun cross across her breast. “Exalted one,”
Offered Betrys. “My protectress, seas shall
Not drown me, nor shall Norse wound me,
Nor Christian father offend me,” she added,
My sister fearing opposite of Father Blàthan.
Because she knew, Betrys did not ask to whom
I prayed, Mary, Holy Mother. “Sister, we are
Similar in many ways,” I stated. Small wooden
Statue I carried, carved face, hands, Irish woven
Wool Mary’s robe, small sticks formed cross of
Christ she carried, string tied to her chest. “Mary
Steadies my step, strengthens my heart for our
Impending voyage.” Realizations learnt-felt,
Betrys was mirror of myself, twin of my soul.
Upon these steps, first time as Sister of Christ,
I was at peace with Betrys, and her with me,
This joining, faith-combining, inspiration of
Divine, we climbed and prayed in sun-radiant
Clouds, Yes, at times wept, trespasses between
Us forgiven, forgotten in name of Mary and of
Brigit, both watching, guiding over us, another
Winding tier, Father Blathàn awaited, sanctity
Of contemplative life at Skellig Mhór.
Poem of passages, Sister Muriel and Betrys work together
in boat rowing, share self-realizations whilst climbing steps to
summit of Skellig Michael (Mhor). Here, Betrys reveals she is praying to Celtic
goddess Brigid or Brigit, pagan deity (with her own cross and “foster-mother
of Jesus”) so venerated that she was syncretized as Saint Brigid of Kildare in
Irish Catholic church. Click here to read more. Thanks for reading.