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Unsuspecting, fairy agnostic Bee landed in Ireland in 2001 and settled in the shade of Slieve Anieran, the mountain where the Tuatha dé Danaan first arrived in what was known as Erin. Over the years a relationship with the goddess they worshiped has unfolded with the land, even more than the myth associated with this band that latterly became the fairy race of Ireland, being spirit guide and mentor.

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Samhain Salutations from the Fairy Goddess

At this thinnest time of year, Samhain, when the veil between our world and the sidhe is gossamer I want to offer a poem in praise of Danu, our most ancient of goddesses. Danu is the gift giver and it is said that her name is embedded in our English word donation. Her name is embedded in the rivers - the Don in Russia in the east and another in the west in Yorkshire, England and the Danube that runs through the heart of Central Europe.  Some say that her origins are in India. She is undoubedly pan-Celtic and very, very ancient, sort of the great-granny of so many deities. 

 

The first impulse in a divinity is, then, to give. It is said in Ireland that Danu had a husband called Bile. Now that is a word, along with crann, for tree.  In my research I found that Ireland has seven sacred or chieftain trees.  It got me thinking about Danu's husband and this poem, Nemeton, is the result.

Copyright © Bee Smith 2013

 

Nemeton: The Marriage of Danu and Bile, the Sacred Tree

 

I will tell you now how it came to be

that I, Danu –

smooth shouldered, generous hipped, with full red lips-

came to marry a tree.

 

And not any insignificant sapling either,

lost amidst a massive plantation. Oh no!

not one to be glanced askance.

No! mine’s a real Green Man of a tree,

 

one who could shake me utterly,

his roots claiming my spirit and flesh in

a shameless lock, a sensuous refrain,

a rustle and cry echoing through the wood.

 

Apple smelt so good. He was quite the springtime

snappy dresser. And his delicious fruit was a

bonus –so juicy and sweet – I had to eat.

I just had to have him for my husband.

 

Now Oak was very manly, macho beard,

a lovely crop of chest hair. He was a keeper,

durable as plank and fair as a  plane.

So I just had to have him for my husband.

 

With Pine, I married for the children’s sake,

so sweetly garlanded with popcorn and cranberry,

festooned with twinkling lights –  such a jovial, ho-ho sort of dad.

I just had to have him for my husband.

 

I needed to dig a well. It can be so very useful

to have a man who is handy, gentle and

astute enough to divine S-bends and pipe leaks.

So I just had to have Hazel for my husband.

 

Now Ash was a diversion and good breakfast conversation.

He made me laugh and gave me letters and language.

He made me a heroine.

So I just had to have him for my husband.

 

As for Holly, a burly sort of fellow can make

a woman feel safe – to know he would do battle

for our boundaries  all just for my sake.

Well, I just had to have him for my husband.

 

 

But for eternal love from cradle to grave

who can compare to Yew?  A thousand year lover,

my soul mate unbetrayed, forever green.

Inevitably, I had to have him for my husband.

 

I married them all and gathered them,

all my gorgeous Green Men,

and made them

a grove - – all mine.

They cleaved to me as I did to them.

 

I was a good wife. I loved them all-

their roots wrapped around me,

their limbs praising to the sky,

their sap rising and heart’s beat.

 

I was a good wife, good husband each to me.

I loved their soul’s breath on my cheek,

the fire in the end, the kindling, log, even the

charcoal embers that was our life and loving.

 

Copyright © Bee Smith 2010, All rights reserved

 

 

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Bee is a former columnist for Sagewoman, published poet, Brigit and Danu devotee (more about this later) and creatrix of guided walks and talks on the theme of Fairy Ireland and pilgrimage leader for Imbolc celebrations of Brigit in Ireland. You can learn more about tours on her website www.irishblessingstours.com.

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