(6) The Lovers at Howth : Part 2, The Enchanting Love-Spot of Diarmuid Ó Duibhne

The image above shows “The Enchanting Love-Spot of Diarmuid Ó Duibhne” watercolour biro and tippex.

Diarmuid And Grainne apparently never spent a single night in the same bed twice during the epic pursuit of them by King Fionn. But the trouble all began because Grainne had fallen in love with him when he was a young man playing hurley and his hair blew back from his face revealing his enchanted love-spot on his forehead which he tried to keep covered with his long dark hair most of the time.  This meant that Grainne was always destined to fall in love with him despite the duty of her arranged marriage to the much older King Fionn. The story of how Diarmuid got the love-spot is worth a telling in itself .

Diarmuid, Conan, Goll and Oscar were out hunting in the woods. Staying out too late they came across a light of a small house in the forest. They were greeted there by an old man who knew their names though they had not met him before. He was accompanied by a young woman and a cat . As they were eating their meal a wether (a goat) became unfastened from the house and it stood up on their table. The old man asked the men to fasten it but each in turn tried and failed very much to their disgrace as they were meant to be strong honourable men of The Fianna. Each man ended up under one of the feet of the goat.  Then the old man asked the cat to do it. So the Cat got up and fastened it successfully . This further added to their shame and they lost their appetite at that. But the old man consoled them as he was teaching them a lesson in humility and he explained to them that the goat represented the strength of the world and that the only thing that could tie that down was death itself as represented by the cat. 

Then the next part of their story took a turn when the old man bade to put the four of them up for the night in beds, when into their room came the young woman. “And the light of her beauty was shining on the walls like as if it was the light of a candle” .  Three of the four men  approached her in turn to sleep with her but she told them “ go back to your bed . I belonged to you once, and I will never belong to you again”. Then came Diarmuid’s turn and again she mysteriously said “I belonged to you once, and I will never belong to you again” but come over here to me, Diarmuid,” she said, “and I will put a love-spot on you, that no woman will ever see without giving you her love.”  She she asked him to come over to her . So Diarmuid went over to her, and she put her hand on his forehead, and she left the love-spot there, and no woman that ever saw him after that was able to refuse him her love.  

The story is full of meaning that involves unravelling. What did it mean when she said “she had belonged to them once”? For they thought they had not met her before. Like the cat , what did she represent? The love-spot sounds give to Diarmuid by the woman sounds very like a third eye or a chakra that being visible has the power to attract the love of a woman.  Or perhaps the story informs the initiate of a deeper power of desire within the body that must be restrained and understood or it can cause trouble. Like “wearing your heart on your sleeve” as that old saying goes. There are many insights to be gained when going over these old Irish myths, both about the customs of the times and the teachings of the druids. 

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