Myths are stories to live by. Every element in a story has a meaning. Everything symbolises a part of the listener's psyche. When you listen to a myth more deeply, you discover its meaning for your life. This is what meditation has taught me about Cairenn's story:
Cairenn is so much like me, and like so many other women. She starts off young and naïve, thinking that a man will be the answer to the emptiness in her life. So when a man comes along, and he's handsome and powerful to boot, she falls for him and gives up all her independence for him. She doesn't give her own power as person, as a woman, a second thought.
Eochu is her knight in shining armour. And like all real-life knights he turns out to be only human. He cannot fill Cairenn's emptiness; he has his own life to lead. Tragically, he is both human and flawed. He fails to stand up for his young wife and seals her doom. Essentially, he betrays her trust. I don't think there is a woman alive who hasn't met this man. Some of us several times over...
But Eochu is more than that. He, too, is part of the listener's psyche. He is a woman's animus, the part of her inner self who helps her take action in the outside world. Because of him she can take action on her own behalf. He is the part of a woman who helps her deal with the world. Her own inner strength combines with this force to make a new life: a baby. In stories, the baby is the real life of a woman, that which she is destined to bring forth into the world. It is her unique expression of Divine Spirit.
Mongfind is that part of us that tells us time and again that we can never make our dream come true. The voice inside that incessantly repeats: "Who do you think you are? What makes you think you can do that? You're too dumb, too old, too young, too short, too tall, too fat, too thin to do that. And besides, you're a woman, a man, black, white." This voice throws your own deepest doubts back at you and magnifies them. And if you let it, it can banish you to a small territory at the edge of your life, limited by your own thoughts of inadequacy. I know. I've spent years there, just like Cairenn.
Celtic mythology overflows with women whose baby is taken away soon after birth. There is Rhiannon, who is accused of eating her baby son; and Modron, whose son Mabon is taken from between his mother and the wall. I have asked myself and the Spirits: why? Why do women lose their true lives when they have only just started? And the answer seems to be that that kind of life is too powerful, so powerful it scares us and we let it go. Like Nelson Mandela said: "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure." Nelson Mandela is a wise man. What if you really are immensely powerful, and could accomplish everything you ever dreamed of? Yes, that very thing you are now thinking you could never do. That kind of power carries responsibility, and responsibility is always scary. Our true lives, the ones we were meant to lead, are that powerful and that scary.
But it turns out that the place of isolation, the place at the edge of our lives, is really sacred ground. The Well of the Goddess is at the very edge of the enclosure, away from the hustle and bustle of Tara's court. It is the quiet place, that silent space inside where some of us hardly dare go. There the magic happens.
In that quiet place is the Well, the deep pit that reaches down, deep down into the Goddess Earth herself. If we go and find our own quiet place inside, we can use the bucket of meditation and prayer to reach down into that deep Well and bring up the wisdom of the Goddess. Because the Well is the place where our spirit and the Divine Spirit touch and are One. In that silent place we learn our own worth.
But Cairenn didn't draw water only for herself. She shared with all her people. And so should we. The wisdom of the Goddess we find in our quiet moments belongs to everyone, and we should share it with everyone. Or why do you think I've made this web site?
Eventually, after a long time of patient service at the Well, the shaman will bring our lives back to us. When we have become strong enough and wise enough to handle the power and the responsibility, our true lives will be given back. Then, power and Life will flow from us more easily. Until then, we have to do the work, patiently.
Main picture: Gril working at the well form an article about water in the third world
Hag from Dreamwave
Kingsbury jug from St.Albans Museums
Entrance to Mound of the Hostages at Tara and entrance stone from Knowth.com