I am an orphan whose father came from Briton, and whose father's parents came from a distant area of Europe known as Lusatia or Sorbia (Germanic-Polish tribe known as the Wends). I was raised by, and live with, my mother's people. However, I do have a few keepsakes that belonged to my father.
I have heard many stories about the journey of my father, he told them to my mother during their times together. He travelled across the length and breadth of the Isle of Briton, and the greatest wonder he saw was a huge creature carved into the flat of a hillside, shining white under the light of the sun and then the moon. He and those he travelled with agreed it resembled a great serpent-beast or dragon of sorts. He told my mother many stories about the fearsome image, and how it was carved to breathe fire from its mouth.
When my father came as a trader to our community in Ireland, he was drawn to my mother, and she to him. While they did not marry, they spent time together as married people do. From their romance, I was conceived. After my birth revealed my gender as female, my father left my mother with some gifts and returned to his people in Briton. My mother named me 'Geal' (GIL), which means brightness or whiteness, for the joy she claimed I brought into her life. She also said it was a play on the speech of our tribe, for it is very like 'Gael' (GAYLE), the people of Ireland. She wanted to dedicate me to her people rather than the Britons from the moment of my naming. Again, because my father was a wanderer, he was declared Deoradach -- an "outsider". This made my name within the clann 'Geal ingen in Deorada', (Geal the daughter of an outsider).
Because my father was a visitor and not governed by the laws of the Fili (Druids and Bards), my mother was forced to arrange for my fosterage herself. My first foster-father was a drunken, unruly lout who deserved to have his name forgotten at the moment of his death. He took the fosterage fees my mother paid, but did not train me properly. As a petty revenge, I would cook a share the grains and honey he raised to make mashes for the sick or injured horses of our community. He grew ill when some food I served to him was spoiled (if he had seen fit to find a woman to teach me cooking skills, it would not have happened) and he cast me out. While I was cleared of any guilt by the druids, no one else was willing to complete my fosterage. In desperation, my mother turned to youngster who had just been declared a man of the clann. Thus did I complete my fosterage under the protection of Aonghus, the son of Con Mara. My mother chose more wisely than others thought, for he was trained as a bard, and was Chieftain for two separate periods of time. From him I learned much of the lore of our people and to take pleasure in the songs and poetry and epic stories. In time, I heard my name linked with his, and the people of the clann referred to me as Geal dalta Aonghus, Geal the foster-daughter of Aonghus.
During the time I was fostered, Aonghus made sure I was taught the hearth-skills required of every Celtic woman. I can manage accounts, barter with traders, spin wool and flax and silk, and sew and decorate clothing. My cooking is tolerable at best, but, considering my past, that might be expected. I provide clothing for those who are willing to work exchange for items I need for my own household. I have learned the basics of 'sprang' and 'naalbinding', netting techniques of the northern Norse women. I aspire to someday being recognized as a Ceird (member of a crafting guild) for the garments I make. I enjoy watching male crafters as well, and am interested in working bone, horn, and antler and learning to shape and fire clay into pottery.
While I was released from my fosterage at the age of seventeen, I am still struggling to make my proper place in the world. I earned my adult name of Echna for a number of reasons. As a child, I would linger near the horses of the clann as they grazed and were cared for. I would be the first to offer to fetch a mount for any man preparing to ride for messages or raids. I took revenge against the miserly ways of my first foster father by feeding the horses of the clann. In many ways, I even resemble a horse - during my fostering time I wore my auburn hair in a tail down my back, I have a long nose, and soft brown eyes. My tall, sturdy build makes me seem coltish and awkward compared with the delicate-boned people around me.
The time eventually came for me to move out on my own. Just as my father before me, I felt the urge to wander. I travelled the length and breadth of my beloved Eire, and then moved on to Briton and further still to the land of the Scotti. In Briton, I went to see the great white dragon that featured in my mother's stories of my father. When I returned briefly to the clann and declared it looked more like a horse than a serpent, I was dubbed with the name 'Echna' (AHK-na), a diminutive of 'Echu', the goddess of horses, she who the Gauls and Romans call 'Epona'.
During my travels, I met a lover, who fathered my son Banbagnas. Just as I was the light of my mother's life, he is mine. Travelling with a child is not always easy, but, I have the joy of seeing each new place through his eyes as well as my own.
I have not yet found a home where I feel settled and content. Perhaps it won't come to me until I am old and Banbagnas guides us back across the Irish sea. Or, perhaps it will be further over the horizon in another direction. I have listened to the Scotti tell stories of the lands far beyond Gaul, home of the silk that is so vital to needlecraft. Also sweet to my ears and my heart are stories of holy Jeruselem, and Wendish memories shared about the Sorbian capital that nurtured my father's father's line.