Becuma was the wife of Conn, King of Ireland, who first saw her mysteriously emerging from a magical boat dressed in silk and satin. She remains as mysterious today. Her identity is unclear. She may be a member of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, or she may belong to an older, even more primordial pantheon.
Her first husband (at least as far as is known) belonged to the Tuatha Dé, but she cheated on him with a son of sea spirit, Manannan mac Lir. They were caught and Becuma was punished.
Manannan decreed that she either be burnt or banished, and so she was placed in a coracle (small boat) and set out to sea. Alternatively, fairy tales describe her as banished from her own magical realm, denied access to other spirit realms, and thus forced to live amongst people. (This may be a post-Christian slant; ancient Ireland’s goddesses were sexually autonomous. They slept with who they chose. It’s unclear why Becuma is punished so harshly.)
The heartbroken, recently widowed King Conn was enchanted by her. He married her and brought her to his court. He’s happily under her spell, but their marriage signals hardship and tragedy for Ireland. Crops fail; all manner of abundance and fertility shrivels. Ireland’s kings ruled by virtue of their relationships with goddesses of sovereignty. Whatever Becuma is, she seems not to be that. Although everyone but her husband blames her for the calamity that has befallen Ireland, Becuma refuses to accept culpability.
When Becuma first met Conn, she told him her name was Delvcaem. When Conn’s son and her rival, Art, loses a game of chess to her (with a little magical help from her foster sister, Aine), Becuma sends Art to retrieve another spirit named Delvcaem. After much hardship and adventure, Art does so, in the meantime falling in love with Delv caem. Delvcaem is a more powerful spirit and sorceress. When she arrives at court, Becuma is forced to leave. In some versions, she gets back in her coracle and drifts off to parts unknown. In others, she goes to England and is held responsible for fomenting hatred against Ireland.
Becuma has yellow waving hair and grey eyes and wears a red satin smock, a green silk cloak with long golden fringes, and bronze sandals.
Coracle; magical boat; chess set
Aine; Delvcaem; Maeve; Manannan; Tuatha Dé Danaan
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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