The Rath of Maeve by John Farrelly

By August 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Many of our myths contain the idea of sacred marriage between the goddess of the land, Maeve, and the mortal temporal king.  Maeve, from the Old Irish name Medb, meaning ‘intoxicating’ was also called Medb, Medhbh, Meadhbh, Meab, Meabh or Maev.

She is a different figure from Queen Maeve of the Ulster Cycle.  Maeve, the goddess of sovereignty at Tara was Medb Lethderg, meaning Maeve of the Red Side.  The king entered into a sacred partnership with her and this union legitimizes his rule and gives him sovereignty, allowing the land to prosper.

To rape the earth, to abuse or defile it once meant that the Goddess would break that bond and remove her protection.  Then man stands alone, disconnected from the earth and under the malignant rule of those who defile it, but living still on the same earth that must be again entered at death.  An ancient monument known as Rath Meave is to be found on the south west side of the Hill of Tara, about half a mile away but on a different site and not part of the hill itself.


The Rath of Maeve

Up a side road from Tara and through a small gap
and you find it.
Badly signed and un-kept as if an embarrassment.
Some come here to adore her still.
Some come here to adore mother earth.
Most come here to pass a day.
Her Rath is circular like a journey,
without beginning or end,
buoyed by stone walls at the base of her ramparts
dug out of the ground she adored,
that she represented, that she guarded;
here as everywhere is her earth.
Here is the place Kings came to call.
To mate with her,
to couple perhaps with a hole in the ground.
That act;
a union of man and soil is necessary to
remind us that we need her, she not us.
Dust thou art friend so don’t sneer
and onto dust thou shall return.
Back then they knew that,
they knew too that in that dust was Maeve.
Her spirit guarding the dark secrets of the earth.
Lie down there then and smell the warm musty
scent of sex,
Feel again the liquid lubricants,
the spasm of muscles,
a feminine voice saying yes, yes, yes.
See the love in her eyes, the sky in her hair,
See her wearing a pendant of flowers and a hat of leaves.
Feel her caressing hands on your back like wind.
Her throw back laugh,
at life and its many disappointments.
Then feel her hands again,
thin and fine holding another life to her warm full breasts.
Caressing it, caring for it, teaching it,
helping it talk, walk and think.
Placing moral law in its tiny head.
Then the sad, sad years of letting it go.
Wondering about it,
worrying about it, warning it.
Seeing its children tumble in.
Or grieving for it alone at night as the fire dies
down and the house lies quiet.
Growing old as it visits, forgetting.
The thin days of dreaming,
saying this that they can’t understand.
Believing you are back on a road somewhere,
talking to Jim or Ann again,
laughing at news about Agnes that never came.
Darkness as the Solstice of life turns.
Lying silently in a womb with others.
In darkness. In utter, utter darkness.
Like children wondering if you have done alright.
A tunnel again and a voice like hers, like Maeve’s
asking you to push and push and push.
Lubricants and caresses and encouragements,
a spasm and its there again;
the Sun, glowing gold as if it never left.

© John Farrelly

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