So many SPOILERS for Granny Starseed in this podcast so don’t read further down unless you want to know more!
Episode references Granny Starseed, a story in my collection The Wicked Wolves of Windsor and other fairytales.
SHOWNOTES FOR EP 11
⦿ Coru Cathubadu – a Morrigan priesthood with background information on the Morrigan (the Great Queen), Badb Catha (Battle Crow), Macha, and Nemain. Also, pagan feast and celebration days for a contemporary calendar.
⦿ The Morrigan – information from the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
⦿ Cú Chulainn – Irish Hero who figures in the great warriors tale – The Cattle Raid of Cooley.
⦿ Hero Feast of Cú Chulainn – an event I put into the story, Granny Starseed which leads to a disaster for Sarah.
⦿ The Cattle Raid of Cooley – The men of Ulster are disabled by an apparent illness, the ces noínden (literally “debility of nine (days)”, although it lasts several months). This is the curse given by the goddess Macha (one aspect of the Morrigan) when the king of Ulster demanded she, while heavily pregnant, do a foot race against a chariot.
This tale also relates how the Morrígan, after appearing to Cú Chulainn as a beautiful woman, decides to take revenge upon the hero since he spurned her offer of love. During the fight she appears as an eel that trips him in the ford, a wolf that stampedes the cattle, and as a heifer. IN each form Cú Chulainn wounds her.
After the battle, the Morrígan, now in the form of an old woman milking a cow, with wounds corresponding to the ones Cú Chulainn gave her in her animal forms, provides him three drinks of milk. Upon each drink he blesses her, and her wounds are healed.
⦿ Macha – one of three aspects of the Morrigan associated with land, fertility, kingship, war, and horses. She is often compared with the Welsh mythological figure Rhiannon (who is also associated with horses and to the goddess Epona).
In one story, Macha, daughter of Sainrith mac Imbaith, was the wife of Cruinniuc, an Ulster farmer. Some time after the death of Cruinniuc’s first wife, Macha appears at his house. She begins keeping his house, acting as wife and soon becomes pregnant by him. As long as they are together Cruinniuc’s wealth grew.
When he leaves to attend a festival organised by the king of Ulster, she warns him that she will only stay as long as he tells no one about her. However, during a chariot race, he boasts that his wife can run faster than the king’s horses. The king orders Cruinniuc be held on pain of death unless he can make good on his claim.
Although she is heavily pregnant, Macha is brought to the gathering and the king forces her to race the horses. She wins the race, but then cries out in pain as she gives birth to twins on the finish line; a boy named Fír (“True”) and a girl named Fial (“Modest”).
For disrespecting and humiliating her, she curses the men of Ulster to be overcome with weakness—as weak “as a woman in childbirth”—at the time of their greatest need. This weakness would last for five days and the curse would last for nine generations. Thereafter, the place where Macha gave birth would be called Emain Macha, or “Macha’s twins”.
⦿ Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
⦿ Magical Realism While the story Granny Starseed does have fantastical elements in a real world setting and authorial reticence, it lacks certain key elements of Magical Realism such as plenitude, metafiction, heightened awareness of mystery, and political critique.
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Episode Rating: does include some language. 14+ recommended.
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