Sunday, March 29, 2009
Posted by Magickal Enchantments at 5:46 AM
Monday, March 9, 2009
I would like to share a little about Biddy and her life with you and perhaps she will spark an interest in you about healing and how you can aid those around you in a natural and loving way.
Biddy was born Bridget Ellen Connors in lower Faha near Kilanena in 1798. Biddy was the daughter of a small land farmer, John Thomas Connors and his wife Ellen Early. Biddy is described as being small in statue and pretty, a woman who kept her good looks throughout her life. While married four times, she always used her mother's maiden name, believing that her gifts were inherited through the female line. Her mother taught her all about herbs and how to make potions, just as her own mother had taught her.
As a child, Biddy wore clothes that her mother made by weaving fibers from the flax that was grown nearby. She spent most of her time alone and was said to "talk to the fairies". She was good humored and showed a keen intellect but, like most people of her time, she did not learn to read or write. With her family and friends she spoke Irish, but she also had some knowledge of English. She may also have spoken Shelta, the language of ancient mystics and Irish Travellers, but it is unknown where or how she would have learned it.
Biddy's Mother, Ellen Early was well known for her exceptional herbal cures and taught her daughter many of her recipes. These recipes were regarded as family secrets, as was common for the time. When Biddy was 16 years old, her mother died of malnutrition, leaving Biddy in charge of the household. Just six months after her mother's death, Biddy's father died of typhus. Unable to pay the rent, Biddy had no choice but to leave her childhood home. Little is known about this period of her life, but for the next two years she probably wandered the county roads, working where she could along the way and experimenting with herbal cures.
When Biddy was 18, she began working for a landlord in Carheen near Limerick, but she was often taunted for her aloof behavior. She left after a short time and went to live in the local poorhouse, where she was treated even more poorly. During this period, she would often walk into Gurteenreagh on market days, and it was there that she met her first husband, Pat Malley of Feakle. The couple faced a number of obstacles: Pat was twice Biddy's age and already had a son named John, and Biddy had no dowry to offer. However, there were advantages to the relationship as well, such as the security that Pat could offer, so they married. After their marriage, Biddy gave birth to a son and they named him Paddy. This would be Biddy’s only child.
The family lived in a three room cottage in Feakle, and this is where Biddy began to earn a reputation for her cures. Biddy never requested money for her services, but allowed her clients to decide how to compensate her. Whiskey and poitín were common trade items in those days, so her house was frequently stocked with an abundance of alcohol and eventually became known as a place where people could go to drink and play cards. This ready availability of poorly distilled alcohol may have contributed to the death of Pat Malley five years into the marriage. Biddy became a widow for the first time at age 25.
Biddie married her stepson, John Malley, shortly after Pat’s death. John was closer to her age than Pat had been, and the two of them got along well. During this marriage, Biddy's fame was increasing but her family life was frequently disrupted by large numbers of people coming and going at various times of the day and night. Her son, Paddy, left home some years after her marriage to John and never returned. John died in 1840 due to a liver ailment that developed from excessive consumption of alcohol, and Biddy was a widow again at 42.
One of the mysterious and interesting things about Biddy was her magick bottle. There are different stories on how she acquired the bottle and I will share them here with you.
At some point Biddy acquired a bottle that became as famous as she was. She would frequently look into the bottle, which contained some sort of dark liquid, when considering possible cures for her visitors. She took the bottle everywhere, and it was even with her when she died.
Biddy’s powers of clairvoyance are credited to this mysterious dark bottle. How this “magic” bottle came into her possession, has since become part of her myth and legend. Some believe her late husband Pat Mally gave it to her before he died, others believe it came to her from the “sidhe” (fairies). There are some stories that say she was away with the sidhe, and went to live among them for a time as a child. As a little girl it was said she could see and talk to the sidhe in their own language, which was different from Gaelic and that they taught her how to use her gifts.
She was instructed that by looking into the bottle with one eye and keeping the other eye open, she would be able to see what ailed people and view the future. In exchange for this ability, she was never to charge money for her services, or she would lose the power. She could accept gifts, but was to give away whatever was left over from her own needs. She must never allow others to look into the bottle, or else they would either die or go mad.
Biddy also brought relief to animals, and treated them with great care. In her time, the death of an animal could bring particular hardship to people living in a mainly rural farming community. Animals were relied upon for everyday living, and to lose one could lead to eviction if farming chores were not completed. Many of the stories about Biddy include tales of her healing a family’s most important horse or cow. She also helped many people restore their wells, often the only source of clean water, to solve problems that women ran into while churning butter. Water and butter were also vital to a peasant’s everyday life.
During the nineteenth century, superstitious belief in fairies and all things apparently supernatural was very strong, and when something happened that appeared to be miraculous, without the aid of the church, it was commonly and easily attributed to witchcraft and the devil. As such the local church viewed Biddy with suspicion, and all the local clergy were totally opposed to her. As her fame spread they even tried to warn off people who went to visit her. One story of the churches opposition occurred in 1865. While visiting friends in Ennis, Biddy was charged with Witchcraft under the 1586 statute, however the case was dismissed due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Many of the local people stood their ground against the clergy, maintaining she did nothing but good works.
In 1868, her third husband Tom died, but Biddy now seventy years old, still only looked fifty, and a year later married her fourth husband Thomas Meaney. However he too got sick and died within the year. Many believed her husbands all died from alcohol abuse, as there was so much whiskey and other strong liquors brought to her in payment. Her husbands did not need to work as she herself provided everything through her healing work. After her last husband died, Biddy’s own health slowly deteriorated, she died in April 1874 with a rosary around her neck and her mysterious dark bottle wrapped in a red shawl beside her.
Before her death and despite their differences, Biddy had befriended one of the local priests and asked him not to let her bottle fall into the wrong hands when she died. According to her wishes, the priest took the bottle and hurled it into Kilbarron Lake. Since then, such was the belief in Biddy’s legend, many attempts to trawl the lake in search of the bottle have been made, but to this day it has never been found.
So there is Biddy Early's story. It is by no means complete and there are different versions of her life of course. I invite you to do your own research into Biddy's life.
Last year I acquired a large blue glass bottle that I made into my own version of Biddy Early's Bottle. As soon as my computer is fixed I will add the pictures of it here for you to see.
So what did you think of Biddy Early's story? Do you find it inspiring?
I encourage you all to look to Biddy at times when you need healing knowledge, she has been a wonderful addition to my life and I wish the same for you all.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts on this blog entry.
The Celtic Witch
p.s. I will be announcing the winner of the Magickal Morning Glory Seeds this week as well. I have decided to pick two winners as I have quite a bit of seeds that I collected last season.
Posted by Magickal Enchantments at 6:02 AM
Sunday, March 1, 2009
By now, you all know how much I enjoy my Celtic and Irish mythology. I figured it was time to share another myth with my friends. Today I will be telling you about Rhiannon. Her story is an interesting one and I hope you enjoy your read.
Rhiannon, meaning great queen, was the otherwordly wife of Pwyll, ruler of Dyfed. Like other charachters of the welsh tradition she is thought to have once been a goddess, but with time and an eroding christian influence, she survives demoted to an otherworldly wife. Rhiannon is equated with the Roman Gallic Goddess Epona.
In the Mabinogion, she makes her first appearance riding a magickal white mare.
Her son's birth shares a mysterious parallel connection with a colt, and lastly she herself suffers a punishment of having to carry people on her back, as if she were a beast of burden. Tradition does preserve the birds of Rhiannon, who are her companions and a relic of her divinity. It is said their song was so potent an enchantment that it would wake the dead and place the living in a dream.
In the Mabinogion, the character of Rhiannon who resembles more fairy then Goddess, falls in love with a mortal, Pwyll- a man with otherworldly associations. His land of Dyfed was an area of Wales where the veil between this world and the next was treacherously thin. So our story begins....
Pwyll was holding court at the royal seat of Arberth, and in the evening he went to sit on a sacred mound of earth that legend said was a portal to the otherworld and where none could pass the night without vision or adventure.
As Pwyll sat patiently surveying the land, a woman riding a white mare appeared on the highway. He called to his men to fetch her, and while she looked to be traveling a gentle pace, none could catch her. The next day the scene was repeated and a faster horse failed to reach her. Pwyll suspected some illusion at play and rode out after her himself, but when his speed brought him no closer he called out to the woman asking her to stop, which she did, remarking that it would have been better for his horses had he asked long ago.
She drew back her veil and fixed her eyes upon him, and he thought their beauty and depth beyond compare.
He asked the purpose of her journey and she explained she had come on her own errand to find him. Pwyll was most pleased.
She introduced herself and went on to explain that her love for him had prevented her from marrying any other. But now her Father in the otherworld has promised her to a man named Gwawl against her will, and she would not marry him unless Pwyll rejected her.
Pwyll assured Rhiannon that she was his choice of all women. They then made a secret pledge to meet again in one year at her fathers palace. When the day came, Rhiannon had arranged a wedding feast and all would have been well if Pwyll, in a thoughless moment, had not agreed to grant an unconditional boon to a guest, who unbeknownst to Pwyll, was the jilted suitor, who naturally asked for the bride.
A clever woman, Rhiannon was quick to stall the wedding yet another year and gave Pwyll detailed instructions to return on the date dressed as a beggar with a magic bag she gave him. As a beggar he could ask Gwawl for the bag's fill of food from the feast and when the bag would not take its fill, Pwyll was to tell Gwawl that only a man of noble blood could quell the appetite by placing his feet in the bag.
All unfolded as planned, and when the trusting Gwawl obliged, Pwyll quickly enveloped and trapped him in the bag. Pwyll's men then fell upon the hall and entertained themselves in beating the bag, calling their amusement "Badger in the Bag". An injured Gwawl protested that he did not deserve such treatment, and the disgusted Father of the bride agreed. Pwyll called for a halt to the game and then pressured Gwawl to return Rhiannon. Gwawl agreed and was released.
The couple returned to Dyfed, where Rhiannon became a kind and capable Queen, but as she was foreign the people were reluctant to accept her. Furthermore, as she had not given birth to an heir, Pwyll came under pressure to forsake her. He refused, and in the fourth year a child was born, but the babe was then mysteriously stolen from under the noses of six sleeping nurses. Thinking they would face the death penalty for their neglect, the nurses conspired to kill some puppies and smear the queen's hands and face with blood, accusing her of devouring her own child in the night. Rhiannon suspected the plot and promised the nurses protection for the truth, but they stood firm six to one.
In the end, the queen herself asked for penance, rather than contending with the cruel company of the women. A council decided that for seven years she hould sit each day at the horse block, where she would tell passersby of her crime and offer to carry them on her back to the castle.
Rhiannon's tale traveled to a friend of Pwyll named Teirnyon, who began to suspect the babe boy who had come into the keeping of him and his wife was the son of the lord of Dyfed. They took the child to court, and Teirnyon told the strange tale of how on the first of May a colt would be born to his mare, but would then mysteriously disappear. The same night of the Queen's alleged crime, he had stood guard over his mare and newborn foal to fight off the mysterious apparition of a black hand that had reached out in the dark to snatch the colt. In the
wake of the unearthly creature, he had found the child, whom they took in and raised as their own. All the court agreed the child was the image of Pwyll, his father. With the return of her son, Rhiannon named him Pryderi (meaning "care" and "anxiety"), and he grew up to be the capable, much loved ruler of Dyfed. After the death of Pwyll, Rhiannon went on to marry the wise and respected Manawydan, son of Llyr.
So what do you think of Rhiannon's tale?
Why do you think her punishment was to carry people on her back?
I wonder how Pwyll, who loved her so much could believe such a story about his wife and allow her such a cruel punishment when she must have ached over the loss of her child as it was.
I would love to hear your thoughts as always.
Also, don't forget to check out my handblended Rhiannon's Anxiety Oil.
This lightly scented oil is blended with essential oils known to calm and relax the mind and body. Rub this oil on your pulse points and chakras to relax your mind and alleviate anxiety.
The smell is lovely and light so that it will not overpower any other scents you choose to wear.
I use only top quality essential oils mixed with organic carrier oils in my oil mixtures. They are safe to wear on your skin and can be used as a massage oil, bath soak or added to an oil burner to enjoy the aromatherapy values of this amazing oil.
Click the link below for more information on my Rhiannon Oil.