Brighid, our 9-month-old Kerry heifer, arrived on Imbolc Eve. And all of a sudden I can understand why cows are sacred in so many mythologies. Norse mythology has a sacred primeval cow: Audumbla. Zoroastrian mythology has a primeval ox which is either male or female depending on the source. In Hindu mythology there is Kamadhenu or Surabhi (meaning ‘the fragrant one’), the mother of all cows, the cow of plenty. All the gods are believed to reside in the body of Kamadhenu. Her four legs are the scriptural Vedas; her horns are the triune gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; her eyes are the sun and moon gods, her shoulders the fire-god Agni and the wind-god Vayu and her legs are the Himalayas. In Egyptian mythology, Hathor was the cow-horned goddess of love and protector of women, and the Milky Way was considered to be a pool of cow’s milk. The cow was an occasional symbol of the Greek goddess Hera. Closer to home, it is said that Brighid (Celtic goddess or Celtic-Christian saint, depending on your predilection and the source of the story) was fed as a baby with milk from a sacred cow from the Otherworld, and she was considered to be a patron goddess of milk cows and dairy work. Mythology, folk tales and fairy tales are filled with stories of magical cows.
You don’t have to spend very long with a cow to understand why. Compared to our skittish primitive sheep and our two mad grumpy sows, Brighid the cow is a paragon of contemplative virtue. She’s slow, deliberate, calm, and when she stares at you with those beautiful big black eyes framed by the most incredible long eyelashes it’s just not possible to respond in any other way than to slow down to her pace of being.
I suspect that having a milk cow is going to be a very fine thing for both of us.