Goddess Airmid is revered as a master herbalist and magician. She rules over magic, healing, learning, herbalism and the complexities of family relationships. Although Airmid is mentioned just a few times in Irish folklore, her pure heart and absolute comprehension of the natural world make her truly unforgettable.
According to legend, there was once a great and noble god Nuada who ruled the Tuatha De Danann (ancient fairy folk). During a fateful battle, King Nuada lost his arm and was forced to relinquish the throne as a result of the deformity. Airmid’s father and master physician, Dian Cecht, fashioned the fallen king a silver prosthetic arm which enabled Nuada to return as ruler of the land.
Now, Dian Cecht’s son Miach believed that with his own skill as a surgeon and his sister Airmid’s aptitude for regeneration, an even better solution was possible. Together, sister and brother perfectly rebuilt Nuada’s flesh arm in “thrice three days and nights.” When Dian Cecht found out that he had been bested by his own son, he flew into a jealous rage, killing Miach with a fatal blow to the head.
Deeply grieving, Airmid went to her brother’s grave and laid a cairn of stones around the burial plot. Soon after, she discovered new life rising from the earth. Three hundred and sixty-five herbs grew on that spot, each one a cure for a specific part of the body. The goddess spread her cloak and gathered up the herbs according to their properties. But when Dian Cecht learned of this, he overturned the cloak, scattering the herbs to the wind and forever losing the gift that Miach had shared with humankind. Only Airmid has knowledge of the specific herbs in her brother’s offering, and so in times of need we may invoke her spirit for guidance.
The number of the herbs, three hundred sixty-five, is symbolic of the passing of a year, reminding us that time heals all wounds. Despite her pain and frustration, Airmid remained devoted to her ministry as a healer. With Dian Cecht and her remaining brothers, the goddess went on to tend the sacred well of healing. The family recited charms and incantations while the injured and dead were immersed and restored to perfect health and vitality. Wells were believed to be a link between the upper and the lower worlds. Airmid and her family used the well as a way for their tribe to communicate with and draw on the healing forces of the underworld.
We celebrate Goddess Airmid by appreciating nature and the gift of plant medicine. We lend honour to her fate by staying true to the course of our own life’s mission no matter what hardships we may endure. Altars dedicated to the goddess should include herbs of any kind, a piece of cloth to represent her cloak, and a bowl or small cauldron of spring water to symbolize her family’s healing well and the mystical forces that flow throughout all of life.