Monday 01.02.2021 ~ Lá ‘le Bríde – Witches Butter, Wood Sage and Airmid’s Gresko

I went to the Glen today with the intention of finding some material for making a Cross to honour St Brigit but once more became diverted by other happenings, and my ongoing search for the elusive Witches Butter. There has been machinery in the upper field, ripping up the ditches where there’s an unoffical garden rubbish dump for locals, our burnt timber nicknamed ‘the crocodile’ has been bludgeoned but not quite felled. I am saddened by the exposed circles of timber with all their interior years on show, the sawdust still lying at their stumps. The cracked edge of one is almost heartbreaking except that some fungi have found a nook.

I have been reading Airmid’s Gresko in Oein DeBhairduin’s wonderful collection of stories, “Why the Moon Travels” It ells the story of Airmid, healer of the Tuatha de Danaan, and of her talented brother Miach who is killed by their father in a fit of jealousy, One of the herbs that grows up in his place is Wood sage…

” Outside the clearing in which the holly bush stood, the trees had shed their leaves like tears for Miach and the very grass was withered brown in the sorrow of his taking. The forest plain beside the holly bush, however, was lush with the vibrant colours and warm, sweet scents of life. Herbs were bursting through the soil, one for each day of the year, marking the outline of his body, a living effigy. Among them was soft green wood sage crowning his head to bring him peaceful dreams in his eternal rest, red clover to loosen his chest, cowslip over his heart to soothe the inflamed skin, purple burdock below for easing the bowels and starwort for fertility; dead nettles, a delicate lilac colour outlined his legs to ease his muscles, and dusty yellow yarrow grew like boots over his feet”

I believe that all but the cowslip can be found in the Glen and i am marking their places, the wood sage can be found still now in “Scotland” on the high ridge among the gorse.

My quest for Witches Butter was rewarded with a siting today, though looking a little worse for wear ,and almost entirely melted in today’s rains. The birdsong up here today, on this day of St Brigit was so eloquent and entrancing, I captured a little on film while gazing at the witches butter, traffic sounds at my back. In passing I spied a young oak with gnarly last season’s galls on it.

Published by @julforres

Julie Forrester, artist based in Cork City Ireland

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