#writephoto: Rushes

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt. A bit of historical background.

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When the Romans came, they expected to find bloodthirsty savages, baby-eating cannibals who grinned at torture and revelled in inflicting pain. What they didn’t see they invented, and their Christian monks did the same. They said we made effigies out of wicker and burned our enemies and whole herds of cattle inside them. What sense would there be in that? If we went to the trouble of taking captives, it was because we needed slaves. Why would we burn them? And who in his right mind burns healthy fat cattle to ashes?

We did weave rushes, long before the Caesar came, and still do, into a sun cross, a good luck charm that we hang over the doors of houses to protect them from fire. The crosses are dedicated to Brigid, fire goddess and protector. The monks had a story about their god who died on a wooden cross and said Brigid’s cross was a reminder of their god. They even span a yarn that Brigid was one of their own milk and water deities with no powers.

Sometimes, on Brigid’s night, when the fires are lit and the the crosses are woven, they come back, the three sisters, Brigid the poet, Brigid the healer and Brigid the smith, to dance together by a source or by the light of an Imbolc fire. Sometimes, if you’re lucky and the church has not poured out its own guttering light, its incense and its mournful litanies to defile the night and drive away the old ones you might see them dancing. And if you are even luckier, they might hold out their rushy hands, and take you with them.


photo ©Philipp M. Moore

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

17 thoughts on “#writephoto: Rushes”

  1. Having just been into the Roman amphitheatre near Seville we wondered about the barbaric deaths there. Civilisation with water infrastructure and bloodthirsty entertainment. Your poem suggests a gentler rural culture and a saint in Brigid that we almost lost.

    1. People are still bloodthirsty, but we have laws to curb it in most civilised places 🙂 Brigid was so revered the Christians had to make her into a saint (several in fact) because the people would have gone on revering her, even if she was a pagan.

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