By M Teresa Clayton
'Twas a war fought hard and we were weary from such a long fight. Many had fallen, begging to be released from the intensity of their pain. With the smoke of villages and bodies burning, day had seemed an endless wretched night, and those of us who were barely able to whisper the words prayed for a cleansing rain.
But, no rain would fall upon this blood-soaked ground where the ending had begun. The crimson flow cut ribbons o’er the emerald fields and fell into the distant brooks and streams. Yea, there had been a battle fought upon this blessed ground but no prisoners were taken and no war would be won. All that could be seen, for miles and miles, was broken bodies; all one could hear were their dying sighs barely audible beneath a cacophony of screams.
I closed my eyes and tried to recall a day when the winds blew in from the salty sea. I remembered running up the hills and looking down upon the beauty of the dale. I drew upon what was left of my memory to grant me solace until death came to set me free. I prayed for the sweet sound of her wings to come and place me safely beneath the veil. I lay motionless for most of the tri la’ and then lost the count of days as my pain subsided and what remained was the company of my own doom...
(When I was a wee boy, I heard that one would feel her vibrations gaining strength as she approached the surface of the land above, Sheelah Na was her name and she would open up her labyrinth and upon one's death, would call you back into her womb. )
I would welcome her this hour for the comfort of that magnificent grave, but she was not the one who appeared to me here as I lay upon the blood-soaked ground. Nay, the grace that would appear and my soul would save, came to me through the parting clouds with a thunderous sound; the flapping of the wings of the great white horse caused a mighty wind to blow and upon its back rode a white-haired Queen, accompanied by one I recognized from stories told long ago. Her hair was black as night and as she moved beneath the horse's graceful feather, no foot stepped to the fore and nothing supported her weight. I could hear their delicate voices unite in song together and divide the heavens. There before my unbelieving eyes, I watched as they pass’d through Morrigan’s gate followed by Brigit’s legions -the Eponian’s ride.
The bodies of the deceased were carefully gathered up and mounted to the skies, the Eponian riders carried them homeward to the Emerald Isle that lay just on the other side… The white-haired lady dismounted her mighty steed and came upon each of those who were left wounded and waiting for death. “I am not here to judge those who fought the battle and lost, nor will I reward those who fight these battles and succeed.”
I now understood the goddess before me by her divine name. "Rhiannon" I spoke with my failing mortal breath.
“Aye, 'tis I who comes to you and to you I will plead - the conquered and the conquerors - no man is immortal, all men will bleed. No war is ever won, no battle ever fought... but once war has begun ‘tis only suffering that is wrought. All are your brothers here and not one of your brethren here sees you as their foe. There is no reason here to kill or maim. Greed separates the living from their insatiable ego and though it appears there is change it all remains the same.”
The dark-haired lady approached; she stood calm and still and made this appeal. “I shall open the Veil of Forgetfulness and bring you Truth. My name is Sirona - ‘tis I who subdues the injured; commanding wounds to heal."
“I shall return you to a time long ago in your youth and you will teach men to lay down their weapons of war; there is no need for an army. There is no need for accounting or keeping one's score if all men choose to live in peace and harmony."
I felt the moment grow longer as I was given eternity to make my choice. I did not know if I could deliver the message and teach the elders of their own deception, where would I find the authority to give me such a voice? Who would stand with me if I were met with the people's rejection?
As if she could see into me and read my mind she answered without hesitation, "Look for me you shall always find the grace of truth and illumination, but if the people of your land refuse the opening of the Veil then all will live and die at the warrior’s hand. If your words are confused and the message fail, I will send the Eponians to come for you and bring you safely home behind these gates, forget not that once you have come to know what is true you will be taunted by the fates. They will eventually silence the one who threatens to expose their neglectfulness, but you will not be touched by the chafe. We will close the Veil of Forgetfulness to all and no mortal man will ever be safe."
My choice was made; she knew how this would reach its conclusion. I agreed to return to those times of yester and yore and I would try to end their confusion and give them a truth they could not ignore. Surely, men would see that nothing of this earth belongs to any one man; though the veil is closed upon our birth it can be opened if one chooses to be born again.
I went back to that time when I was young and told them the story of the battle lost; I told them of the songs that were sung when they gathered the ransom for which this war had cost. I tried to open their eyes to see all the beauty that lies in truth's believing and I became lost in that place where love and truth dies, and prepared for the coming of my leaving.
I looked to the heavens beyond the cloud and again the flapping of wings was ominous and loud. There, appearing before me as if it were yesterday was the goddess Rhiannon and Sirona saying "So mote it be." - inviting me to come beyond the veil and stay.
I took one more of my mortal glances and watched as the Veil disappeared from the minds of those below. As the Veil of Forgetfulness closed, all the chances to divine understanding and the truths they will never know.