There used surely to be enchanters in the old time, magicians and freemasons.
Old Biddy Early’s power came from the same thing.
Healer, seer, wise woman and witch, Biddy Early was all of these – and she was legend. Scores, and some say hundreds, of people would be gathered outside her cottage door each day for her sight and her cure. She charged nothing beyond what people could give – a loaf of bread, a box of tea, a side of pig or, very often, a bottle of poitín (pocheen), Irish moonshine. After Biddy died in 1874 Lady Gregory set about collecting reflections like the quote above and stories, often first hand accounts of her healing powers.
Biddy Early? Not far from this she lived, above at Feakle. I got cured by her myself one time. Look at this thumb, I got it hurt one time, and I went out into the field after and was ploughing all the day, I was that greedy for work. And when I went in I had to lie on the bed with the pain of it, and it swelled and the arm with it, to the size of a horse’s thigh. I stopped two or three days in the bed with the pain of it, and then my wife went to see Biddy Early and told her about it, and she came home and the next day it burst, and you never seen anything like all the stuff that came away from it. A good bit after I went to her myself, where it wasn’t quite healed, and she said, “You’d have lost it altogether if your wife hadn’t been so quick to come”.
Healers, seers, wise women and witches. Legacies of the old ways and powers. There is much to explore here…and we shall.