The story of Niall tells men how to gain power and sovereignty. We women are often told that we are one with the Goddess, that we embody her power and sovereignty. I don't know about you, but most days I don't feel particularly powerful or sovereign in my life. So what can women do to get in touch with their inner power? In meditation I listened to Cairenn (KAH-ren) telling her story.
Of course I fell in love with Eochu (OCH-o). He was the High King of Tara and a beautiful man in his prime. I was the daughter of a nobleman who had come to visit the King. During the month my father and his family stayed at Tara, Eochu wooed me and won me. For my father, it was an honour to see his child marry the King, even if only as his second wife.
In our wedding ceremony I represented the power of the land, and through his marriage to me, Eochu became sovereign of my ancestral lands. But I didn't think of my royal position or my own power. I only had eyes for him, my husband and my king.
And for the first month of our marriage, our honeymoon, Eochu only had eyes for me. It was the happiest time of my life. I really believed in his love for me. But after that he returned to his responsibilities as King, and to the people he had known since childhood. I was left alone in a new place.
Mongfind (MUNG-in), Eochu-s first wife, was deeply jealous of his attention for me. She started spreading rumours about me, vicious lies most of them, about my thieving and lying and dishonour. And because she was well established at Tara-s court, and the people knew and trusted her, they believed her. Some loyal retainers decided to warn the King of the dishonour of his new concubine.
I saw the pain in Eochu's eyes when he told Mongfind she could dispose of me as she liked. He didn't want to believe what he had heard, but the situation left him no choice. Mongfind ordered me to serve at the well, drawing water for the people of Tara.
I wept most of the first six months at the well of Tara, all the time that I carried my baby in my belly. I knew I was carrying the King's child, but dared not tell for fear of what Mongfind would do to my baby or me. I worked all day in fear and misery.
The pangs of labour came in the middle of a working day. I gave birth to the King's son on the bare clay floor by the well. I begged the people around me to look for someone to take care of my child. I dared not keep him with me. Someone had the good sense to call for Torna, the poet-shaman. I only held my baby for a couple of hours. Before Torna took him away, I named him Niall (Neel).
The only thing that kept me alive for the next few months was the knowledge that the shaman would take good care of my baby and bring him back to me when he became a man. And then I would have the shaman's word to testify that he was mine by the King. It was my only hope.
But in that wretched time the Goddess granted me a miracle. With nothing else to hold on to, I realised that the repetitive work I was doing was a sacred task. I was drawing life giving water from the Well, the Life force itself, and giving it to my people. My place of misery was transformed into a holy place. There I practised my sacred service, with patience and prayer, for fifteen long years.
The day came that Torna brought my son back to Tara. Eochu has told me since that he was surprised to have a young man presented to him as his son, but that he realised instantly that he must be mine. He immediately spoke the words that recognised Niall as his legitimate heir, together with Mongfind's three sons.
When I was called into the Court, I knew that my son had come back to me. I was so impressed with that young man with my hair and his father's blue eyes. I so wanted to embrace him like only a mother can. But I held back, not knowing what he was feeling. He took my hand and asked for a chair to be brought, and a robe of purple befitting a Queen. He robed me and sat me down at the left hand of the King, with Mongfind to his right, my rightful place.
Everything changed from that day. I was given my own house and my private time with Eochu. But it wasn't easy. I had to rebuild my relationship with my husband, who was wracked with guilt, and I had to start a relationship with the young man who was my son. Of course, I had to find a way to live with Mongfind, too.
But I had learned much during my time by the Well. I had learned that a woman's worth comes from deep inside her, because she is One with the Goddess. I continue to draw wisdom from deep within and to share it with my people.