The Story of Deirdre

The Story of Deirdre

Viewing nature as a supernatural entity, the medieval Celtic society centered their beliefs and culture on the aspect of nature. Having the ability to bring life into the world, women were regarded to be closer to nature and therefore have more supernatural powers than that of men. As a Celtic tradition, The Story of Deirdre, is centrally based on a women, Deirdre, and her supernatural essence.

Being told of a child to come, whose destiny would bring torment and death but whose beauty could not be surpassed, the King, Conchubur, declared the child to be spared from death and sentenced into seclusion and eventually to be his royal consort. In time, Deirdre approaches an age when the heart can no longer keep her desires and passions locked away. Deirdre becomes her own spokesmen to her heart and therefore declaring her independence. Deirdre's desire to love a man, a man that she is not forced to love. “I could love a man with those three colors; hair like a raven, cheeks like blood and body like snow.” Deirdre proclaims her love for a man whom she has never seen nor has ever met. Deirdre's usual manner and bizarre way of thinking, sets the tone for the supernatural element of her ways.

Another Celtic tradition observed in The Story of Deirdre is the mysterious “geis”. The “geis” can be related to the English tradition of keeping your word. Along the story line, Deirdre learns of a man, Noisiu, who fits the announced description of the man she will love. Deirdre falls madly in love with Noisiu, without any knowledge of who he is. Deirdre sets upon herself geis and declares her love for Noisiu. Having the supernatural ability that women have, Deirdre tells Noisiu that he too will love her and that they will go away together. Noisiu has no power in the will of his heart and is forced because of tradition to allow Deirdre to leave the kingdom with him and his party. Learning of the treachery, the King, Conchubur, sends out a guarantor ship to have the lovers return back to the kingdom. Although the intentions of King seem to be pure, there is a trick up his sleeve that will ultimately lead into the death of both lovers. Conchubur sends out Fergus as Deirdre and Noisius' guarantor ship. Unknowing to Noisius and the party, Fergus has set a geis upon himself to see Noisius' dead. Even though the purpose of a guarantor ship is for the protection of the party abroad, Fergus learns of yet another geis. Noisius and his party have declared that no food will be consumed until Deirdre is back home and safe. As this is made clear, Fergus intentionally stalls the trip in any way he can and eventually causes the death of Noisui and his party. With Deirdre back with the King, Deirdre begins to question her existence and power over men.

Perhaps one of the most significant Celtic traditions of the head being the “seat” of the soul and the severance of a head giving the individual heightened supernatural powers, The Story of Deirdre provides evidence of theses traditions being illustrated in the Celtic writings. Deirdre pounders her existence and where her future lies. Deirdre is forced between two lovers neither of which she herself loves. As part of her time is made to be spend as one mans' lover, the other half of her time is to be spend with a second man. Deirdre is destined to be shared among these men and only the carriage ride between locations serving as her only freedom. However, Deirdre's free will and heart desire much more from her existence. To prove her power over the men and to prove to herself the power of her own life, Deirdre leans out of the carriage and smashes her head on a boulder. Separating her own head from her body, Deirdre separates her soul from her body, releasing her supernatural power to her soul. Separating her own head from her body, Deirdre separates her body from the hands of men, thus giving Deirdre power over the men.

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