“The Pleiades,” Elihu Vedder, 1885, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wikimedia.

Part 8: Druid Rites at Standing Stones

Waking dream, I stumbled into Druid rites
At standing stones, simple altar, men and
Women, torches burning, reciting verses
I could not translate, dare nor repeat, my
Mind time-swept by rustic spells, places
Known in nightmares, Irish forests lost,
Bramble ensnared, falling from heights,
Startled awake, panicked sweats, all this
In instant experienced, as robe-clad
Figures, by enchanted dance, summoned
Forces, ancient gods I knew not existed
Within reach of encircling stones.

Fear beyond death or dying, I called to
Mother Mary, voice throat-stifled, calls
For help unheard, my body paralyzed by
Sordid things I had seen, too stark to
Erase from mind. My sacred crucifix had
No strength against dark powers, or
Perhaps my faith was too weak to repel
Such pagan forces. At mercy of Druids,
I remained, for hours or days, I could
Not tell. Alas! They had control over
Me, trespassing ancient ceremonies,
Time and place unhinged.

Next morning, I awoke, dizzy as if from
Burning fevers, perplexed by what I saw
And felt, unknown whether I was asleep
Or dreaming, my clothes in place, virtue
Intact. Reeling, I sought drink of strong
Ale, calm my shaking body, return to who
And what I am, Sister Muriel, servant of
Christ and God, obedience, charity, and
Chastity, ministering to Irish peasant
Farmers, healing sick by prayer and herbs.
Yes, I questioned my beliefs, touched by
Darkness beyond my reckoning.

“Sirin and Alkonost, Birds of Joy and Sorrow, Viktor Vasnetsov, 1896, WikiArt.

For days I wandered without food or water,
My charges ignored, passing farming families
Without offering prayers or blessings, until
I collapsed at steps of stone church, safety
And sanctuary of the cross, intercession by
Holy Mother Mary, forgiveness of my sins,
Too many, confusing to confess. “Sister, can
You hear Me?” familiar voice asked, blurred
Walls of House of Sorrows, Celtic monk at
My side. “We thought you were gone.” Sips
Of willow tea. I had been bed-bound for week,
Things witnessed, in illness, I had dreamt.

Whether trespassing waking dream or fevered delirium,
Sister Muriel recalls her e
xperience in circa 600 A.D. Ireland,
fantasy within historical fiction. Thanks for reading.

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