Medb, Celtic Sovereignty Goddess of Connacht, the wilderness in the Irish west, ruled war, fertility and the earth. A man became king of Connacht only by participating in a ritual of intoxication and entering into sacred marriage with Medb at Connacht’s mystical center, Tara. She had an insatiable sexual appetite, taking men as she pleased and marrying at least four, who became King of Connacht in their turn. Her first husband was probably King Conchobar of Ulster, with whom she had seven sons and later became her mortal enemy. With Aillil she had three daughters.
Medb, translated as “strong” or “intoxicating”, drove men wild with desire at the mere sight of Her. Indicative of Her connection to the earth and fertility, She clothed Herself with live birds and animals across her shoulders and arms. Further evidence of Her strength, sexuality and passion lies in Her ability to run faster than any horse.
Queen Medb, most likely an aspect of the Goddess Medb, reigned during a time when Celtic women maintained a status of freedom and equality not granted to women in most other parts of the world. They both owned property and held important positions in society. Who ever possessed the most wealth in a marriage, could be considered the ruler of that household.
Queen Medb, more commonly know today by Her Anglicanized named Maeve, is a central character in one of the most important old Irish epics, the Tain Bo Cuillaigne, or the Cattle Raid of Cooley.
Medb generated a lot of controversy in my recent post about Her on the Feminism and Religion blog site. Should we or should we not continue to explore stories of Goddesses who were also warriors? Click here to read the rest of Her story and comments that follow.
Stayed tuned for a painting I’m working on now which portrays Medb as she leaves the violence of patriarchy behind.