Sunday, February 2, 2014
Queen of Four Fires
The Storyteller's Goddess, Carolyn McVickar Edwards, Marlowe &
A long time ago, near the beginning, at the first crack of pink in a
young morning, near the waters of the magic well, the goddess Bridget
slipped into the world and the waiting hands of the nine sisters who
swayed and crooned in a great circle around her. The waters of the
magic well burbled their joy.
Up rose a column of fire out of the new goddess's head that burned to
the very sky. Bridget reached up her two hands and broke away a
flaming plume from her crown of fire and dropped it on the ground
before her. There it leapt and shone, making the hearth of the house
of the goddess.
Then from the fire of her hearth, Bridget used both hands to draw out
a leaping tongue of heat, swallowed it, and felt the fire burn
straight to her heart. There stood the goddess, fire crowning her
head, licking up inside her heart, glowing and shooting from her
hands, and dancing on the hearth before her.
The nine sisters hummed and the waters of the magic well trembled as
Bridget built a chimney of brick about her hearth. Then about the
chimney, she built a roof of thatch and walls of stone. And so it was
that by the waters of the magic well the goddess finished the house
in which she keeps the four fires which have served her people
Out of the fire on Bridget's hands baked the craft of bending iron.
Out of the fire on Bridget's hearth and the waters of her magic well
came the healing teas. Out of the fire on Bridget's head flared out
writing and poetry. Out of the fire in Bridget's heart spread the
heat of compassion.
Word of the gifts of Bridget's fires traveled wide. People flocked to
learn from Bridget the secret of using fire to soften iron and bend
it to the shapes of their desires. The people called bending iron
smithcraft, and they made wheels, pots, and tools that did not break.
All the medicine plants of the earth gathered in the house of the
goddess. With their leaves, flowers, barks, and roots, and the waters
of her magic well, Bridget made the healing teas. She gave a boy with
weak teeth the tea of the dandelion root. She gave a young woman the
tea of the raspberry leaf to help her womb carry its child. An old
man, a cane in each hand to help him walk, took from Bridget
wintergreen bark for his pain and black cherry juice for the
rheumatism. She gave comfrey to a girl with a broken leg and blue
cohosh to bring her bloods without cramps. Bridget brewed motherwort,
licorice root, and dried parsley for a woman who was coming to the
end of her monthly bleeding. "Cup a day," said Bridget, "that you
stay supple and strong."
The people wanted Bridget's recipes. "But we can't remember which
plants for which healings, where to gather them or how long to steep
them," they told Bridget.
The fire on Bridget's head blazed bright. She took up a blackened
stick and made marks with it on a flat piece of bark."These are the
talking marks," She said. "They are the way to remember what you
don't want to forget."
The talking marks also let the people write down the stories of her
Once two men with terrible stories of leprosy came to Bridget.
"Bathe yourself in my well." said Bridget to the first man. At every
place Bridget's waters touched, the man's skin turned whole again.
"Now bathe your friend," said Bridget.
Repulsed, the man backed away from his friend. "I cannot touch him,"
"Then you are not truly healed," said the goddess. And she gave the
first man back his leprosy and healed the second man. "Return to me
with compassion," she said to the first man. "There find your
Every year at midwinter the people thank Bridget for her well of
wisdom and her fires of hand, hearth, head and heart. "Thank you,
Bridget, for the simthcraft, for the healing teas, the talking marks,
and compassion. May you dwell with your fires in your house by the
waters of your magic well forever."