Enbarr of the Flowing Mane is a beautiful horse from Celtic mythology. He is associated with the great Celtic sea god, Manannan mac Lir. The Isle of Man was the throne of Manannan, and the island takes its name from him.
Enbarr could travel like over land and sea. He is sometimes referred to as Finbar. He was as swift as the wind.
Manannan lent his horse to his foster son, the great warrior, Lugh. Lugh is an important god of Irish mythology. He is associated with the Arts, truth and the law. He is said to have invented horse racing, but no creature would ever be as fleet of foot as Enbarr.
One day in the Summer, when there was a rainbow in the sky, Max trotted along the wet garden path. He wagged his tail as he dotted in and out of the drookit flower beds, his fur drying in the new sunshine. It was a braw day and the air was alive with beasties. He tried his best not to be distracted by two wasps having a rammy over his head. He had stopped to sniff a new smell when suddenly he heard a strange croak, right next to his nose.
‘Goodness, what was that?’ Max thought to himself, burling round and round to look. His tail got in a fankle with a rose bush and he barked at the ground as he tried to wrestle himself free.
“Morning”, a deep, booming voice said. “I’m down here. Right under your nose”.
Max sniffed the ground again. He thought he saw a strange glisk of light. Then his eyes widened in surprise when he found himself staring at the bright copper eyes of a huge muckle toad. He pawed at the ground, ready to give a loud bark to alert his family. But, then his curiosity got the better of him.
“Hey there, I’m Max”. Max sat back on his fluffy white haunches, feeling rather proud. He wore a collar that his family had given him. It had a wee tartan medallion on it, engraved with his name and a long number. “ I belong to the McAllister family”. He wagged his tail.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Leith”. Max thought that was a gallus kind of name for a toad.
Leith plopped forwards, but stayed in the shade. Max noticed that he really was quite big, nearly the size of a saucepan. His skin was all warty and a mockit, grey-brown tone. ‘No wonder I didn’t see him there’, Max thought to himself. ‘He’s exactly the same colour as the soil and the leaves’.
“Where do you stay?” Max asked him, wondering if Leith also had a warm bed to coorie into, like he did.
“Under the stump, at Houlet’s Dook”. Leith said proudly, puffing up his chest as he spoke.
Max sniffed the air and looked around the garden. ‘That auld thing?’ he thought to himself looking at the stump of an old oak tree. He didn’t want to be rude, but he was sure that his family were always talking about getting it removed. Something about it being dead and taking up space. He shivered and looked across to his own hame. It was still there, thank goodness.
“Isn’t it awfully dark down there?”, he asked.
“I like the dark. It’s nice and cool. Too much sunshine isn’t good for my skin”.
Max wrinkled his nose. He loved basking in the sun, so he rolled onto his back with his paws in the air, nearly getting stung by one of the wasps in the process. Leith watched Max, smiling to himself. What a glaikit pup he was, but he was fair enjoying their blether!
“I’m quite happy, don’t worry. I often come up here after its been raining, but my travelling days are beyond me just now. I don’t venture as far as I used to”. He stretched out one long, sleekit back leg, then sank it quickly back to the ground.
Max had so many questions. “Where did you travel?”
“ To the Tattie-Bogle Games. Beyond the snowy beinn.”, Leith told him. “Back in the day, when I was a young toadlet, I was a champion jumper”. His orange eyes glowed. “ I used to jump for the TJA, but I would be fair foonert if I tried that now”.
“Toad Jumping Association. I’ve got lots of medals”.
Max was seriously impressed. He liked jumping, but he wasn’t that good at it because his legs were short. In fact, his family often scooped him up so that he could talk to the neighbours over the garden fence. He had only ever had one medal himself, for being A Good Boy. It was made out of dog chocolate. Well, he used to have it. He had, in fact, eaten it in one go. “Do you still jump?”, he asked Leith, quickly diverting him from medal talk.
“Well, I spend more time at hame these days. I’ve got toaditis. I won’t let it hold me back though” He shoogled on the spot, then lurched sideways, moving onto a new patch of leaves. Noticing a puzzled look on Max’s face, he continued. “My legs get sore and achy, so I have to rest a lot”.
Max hung his head and whined. He loved having a wee snooze, but he would hate not to be able to run about when he wanted.
“Don’t fret”, Leith said quickly. “I’m going to train to be a Neep Thrower when I feel better”.
“At the Tattie- Bogle Games?” Max asked, his head on one side.
“Indeed. Fergus Maxwell of Couthie Field is the current champion. What a coupon he’s got on him. He’s so crabbit all the time”.
Leith laughed and Max gave a bark of sheer joy. “That’s so funny…Maybe I could learn to be a champion jumper, like you used to be?” He did a couple of jumps on the spot, yapping like a daftie and nearly squashing some flowers.
“Why of course”, said Mungo. “Hunners o’folk take part every year. If you set your mind to it, you can achieve most things. With time and lots of practice. I’ll tell you when we’re having our next meeting if you like”.
Suddenly, one of Max’s family, came out into the garden and started to call his name. Max went to dash towards them, then turned round to say ‘goodbye’, but Leith had already gone.
The dragon, Dair, and the woman, Leyva, are twin flames.
This is the most forceful and dynamic soul connection. It can be a tumultuous relationship, full of pulls and pushes, challenge and healing, shadows and light.
Each is a mirror to the other. Each is the other’s half. The dragon reveals Leyva’s most profound fear of being alone, and through their relationship, it unfolds that her deepest wounds from the past haven’t yet healed. She draws closer to him, as if he is familiar, as if they met before. Leyva shows Dair his insecurities and the parts of himself that he doesn’t like. His anger, his anxieties, his over thinking and suspicion of folk.
They start to feel each other’s emotions, and through each other, they grow. Each of them have to do work on their own around acceptance and self love.
My creativity has wavered throughout Lockdown. At times, I have felt unable to write or draw. This has usually been in times of emotional upheaval or lockdown fatigue. I needed to concentrate on self care and rest.
I did try to write small amounts in a journal. Another thing that has helped with this difficulty has been my membership of a local community Art group. The support and encouragement from the group has been incredible.
The Creative Director and other leading members of the group set us a challenge of creating a piece of work in any medium in response to Scottish words. We were given a new word as a daily prompt throughout February.
My favourite words (as an adopted Scot, living in Scotland for the last 26 years) were: tattie-bogle or scarecrow, and glisk which means a glimpse of light.
It was a bitingly cold but beautiful day. The kind where a thousand silent, white stars gasped at night, heralding the first blush-pink sunshine.
Oisin stepped outside of his hut. His feet crunched in the crisp snow as he made his way deeper into the forest. He always found peace here, away from the village gossips. All that muttering with mouths like knots. He couldn’t stand it!
Soon, he was deep amongst the pine trees where the sun rarely shines. Suddenly he heard a cry of distress. Ahead, he could make out the shape of a hare, curled up in a shallow nest. Its back leg was bleeding. ‘Poor creature’, he thought.
The hare blinked, allowing him to cradle her hind leg in his own calloused hand. She had been wounded by an arrow. He shook his head, hating that the contemptuous, red-faced men of the village hunted for sport.
He tried to calm his mind, so that he could recall his Mother’s words about the healing properties of the land. Remembering that he had just passed a silver birch tree, he quickly climbed back up the bank. There she was, ermine -white and still. He collected some of the lichened moss that had fallen at her feet, then touched her bark in thanks.
He hurried back to the hare who had fallen gravely quiet. He gently wrapped the poultice around her leg and murmured a healing chant that his Mother had taught him. The wind whispered back. The hare’s gaze softened, and he found more twigs and dry leaves to shelter her. He decided to return again at night to check on her.
Back home, the hut felt colder than the forest, despite the heat of the fire. Heart sore and unable to rest, he watched the flames and thought that he saw Aoife’s face, dark and full of shadows. He had met her back when the sun was high in the sky, and he had loved the curve of her impervious smile. But, she had ended their relationship with words that rained down on him like knives.
That night, he made his way back to the clearing. Anxiously he searched around, but he couldn’t find the hare. He looked up at the moon, draping her silvery gown all over the forest.
Suddenly, he saw her, standing on her hind legs. Then, before his startled eyes, he saw her shift shape, as quickly as shadows pass us by. He stared in wonder as an enchanting woman stood before him, dressed in pale blue robes.
He thought that he was dreaming, as she stepped forward. This must be the White Art that his Mother often spoke of.
“Oisin, may the stars bless you. You know the loneliness of the night, and yet you helped me. I bring a new beginning for you”.
She held out a small vial of green liquid. “Drink this and your heart will be mended”.
He swallowed the potion, hearing his Mother’s voice encouraging him. When he looked up, she had vanished. He returned to his hut and slept soundly, untroubled by ghosts.
When he woke, he felt lighter and Aoife was but a flicker in his heart.
This second time round is hard. A lot of people are running on empty. The line of our lives pre Covid has started to blur, like the flickering end of an old movie. Loss has made us feel tired, frustrated and sad. But, we’ve all shown compassion for each other. Love for each other can be difficult sometimes , but it’s our deepest motivation. Caring for each other is doing.
Keeping the faith hasn’t always been easy during the upheaval and devastation of the pandemic, when sometimes hope has seemed pointless.
One thing that has been soothing for sure, however, has been Nature. It’s got a universal energy that runs through all of us. It’s bigger than me and you. It’s a place to rest. Nothing’s been simple about lockdown, but Nature has been calming. Unchanged, changing. It’s been so life affirming to breathe in deep lungs full of still, fresh air in a forest. Or be around water, when it’s rushing, vibrating and pushing life forward. Even if it’s a difficult day, it’s still a brand new one and a step forward.
Being around trees has been relaxing, especially the older ones with roots that stretch beneath us, steadying us. And branches that stretch endlessly up to a sky that we all share. Seeing new, unstoppable shoots pressing up through the ground already has delivered hope in green and white. Growing slowly and steadily, bringing Spring and lighter days.
Stepping out into the universe has been energising. Feet on the ground and making contact with the Earth has brought focus and lots of special memories. We’re leaving our footprints in this disturbing, turbulent period of history, but we haven’t been alone.