Airmid (also known as Airmed, Airmeith or Airmedh) is the Irish Goddess associated with healing, and particularly herbal healing. Airmid is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the ancient Irish mythological race of magical beings.
Airmid’s father was Dian Cécht and she had four brothers; Miach, Cian, Cethe, and Cu. She was also the sister of the poet Etan. Unfortunately, we don’t know who her mother was, as there is no mention of her in the mythology.
There are a number of myths associated with Airmid, all of which portray a generous, knowledgeable and empathetic woman.
The Healing of King Nuada
Airmid has a part to play in the story of the restoration of King Nuada’s arm, after he lost it in the first Battle of Moytura. According to the story, Airmid’s father Dian Cécht fashioned a replacement arm of silver so that he could rule his people once again.
However, Airmid’s brother Miach believed that with he and his sister’s healing expertise, they could come up with a better solution. Combining their skills, they built Nuada an arm of flesh. But when their father Dian Cécht found out, he was furious. He attacked Miach in a jealous rage, and though Miach was a skilled healer who could keep up with his wounds in battle, eventually he dealt him a savage blow that ended the battle.
The Death of Miach
After Miach’s death, Airmid was devastated. She went to his grave to grieve, and as she wept her tears watered the earth and all of the healing herbs of the world grew from Miach’s burial mound. The legend goes that there were 365 varieties in total, one for each of his sinews and joints.
As Airmed began to collect them, they spoke to her and told her all of their healing powers. She laid them out on her cloak as she was taught, organizing them into combinations that could cure every ailment on earth.
When her father saw the work that she had done, he was once again enraged and threw the cloak into the air, scattering the herbs. Because of this, no human knows all the secrets of healing herbs. The knowledge remains with Airmid, including the secret of how to use herbs to achieve immortality.
The Well of Sláine
Another tale from the mythology involving Airmid is the tale of the Well of Sláine, which takes place after the Battle of Moytura. In this tale Airmid, along with her father and brothers, build a well to bring the slain warriors back to life after the battle.
The well was filled with healing herbs, and Airmid and the other healers sang an incantation over the waters to create an enchantment that could restore life when the warriors were dipped into it.
The well was eventually abandoned, as the enemies of the Tuatha Dé Danann filled it up with stones so that it couldn’t be used for healing. The legend goes that the site is still guarded by Dian Cécht and his sons to this day.