On my blog, I posted about some well-known and some not-so-well-known Celtic tales. The Celts were masterful storytellers, and their tales continue to inspire us today.
A particular tale caught my fancy recently. It is called, “The Shadowy One” and features Scathach, a female warrior who runs a training academy on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
In this tale, Scathach trains a man named Setanta, who eventually becomes the renowned Celtic champion, Cu Chullain. There are many tales of his to be told, but for right now let’s stick with Scathach.
Her academy is called Dun Scaith, and you are considered worthy of training if you are able to meet the impossible task of reaching its gates.
So in this story, The Shadowy One, Scathach meets and trains Setanta, or Cu Chullain, and a series of events leads to a great battle between Scathach and Aoife, Scathach’s twin sister, and their warriors.
After a day long battle with each side besting the other in turn, Aoife challenges Scathach directly. Setanta intervenes, claiming his right as Scathach’s champion.
Setanta meets Aoife on the battlefield and they fight fiercely. The battle lasts for some time as they were almost equally matched. Then Aoife proves her skill by disarming Setanta. As she prepars for the killing blow, Setanta tricks her with distraction. He flings her to the ground and is proclaimed the victor.
Aoife, impressed by Setanta's skill and wit, invites him to join her at her fortress, to which he agrees.
Scathach watches him leave with sadness in her heart, for she can see his destiny clearly: Setanta becomes Aoife’s lover and she bears his son Connla, whom Setanta is forced to kill. His guilt and heartbreak drive Setanta to become the great defender of Ulaidh, his home, and Cu Chullain, the magnificent warrior, is fully realized.
In every Cu Chullain tale, however, the name of his tutor, Scathach, is also spoken.
While, to me, The Shadowy One is more an introductory tale for Setanta, I can’t help the fascination Scathach brings. Strong female characters are popular, and Scathach was one of the strongest. This story sparks my imagination and I’ve spent days dreaming of different love stories and battle scenes featuring the brave and fearless warrior-ess.
And how about that Goddess of War, Morrigan…
So talk to me. What legends or myths inspire your writing? What stories have you told or are telling that are based on other stories?