Thanks to Lisa, I’ve been apprised of a ‘lovely tantalizing bit’ of woman-on-woman sexuality. It’s from the tale of Niall Frossach (a king in the mid-eighth century, High King from 763 CE), from the Book of Leinster, folio 273b-274a, lines 35670-35711 (Vol. 5, p. 1202). Also, apparently, in Liber Flavus Fergusiorum and a late version in Leabhar Cloinne Aodha Buidhe (c. 15th century):
There was a fine, firm, righteous, generous princely king ruling over Ireland, Níall Frassach, son of Fergal. Ireland was prosperous during his reign. There was fruit and fatness, corn and milk in his time, and he had everyone settled on his own land. He called a great assembly in Tailtiu once, and had the cream of the men of Ireland around him. Great kings and wide-eyed queens and the chiefs and nobles of the territories were ranged on the stately seats of the assembly. There were boys and jesters and the heroes of the Irish in strong eager bands racing their horses in the assembly.
While they were there, a woman came to the king carrying a boy child, and put him into the king’s arms. “For your kingship and your sovereignty,” said she, “find out for me through your ruler’s truth who the carnal father of the boy is, for I do not know myself. For I swear by your ruler’s truth, and by the King who governs every created thing, that I have not known guilt with a man for many years now.”
The king was silent then. “Have you had playful mating with another woman?” said he, “and do not conceal it if you have.” “I will not conceal it,” said she, “I have.” “It is true,” said the king. “That woman had mated with a man just before, and the semen which he left with her, she put it into your womb in the tumbling, so that it was begotten in your womb. That man is the father of your child, and let it be found out who he is.”
(translated by David Greene in the Swedish journal “Saga och Sed,”1976)
The implications are intriguing, to say the least. Though it seems the king might reasonably expect a woman to lie about having sex with another woman (and so can assume there was some stigma in such sex), the phrase ‘playful mating with another woman’ is far from judgemental. In fact, it all sounds very jolly and uncomplicated: just a casual tumble, grins all round.
Does anyone have any thoughts on the matter? (Does anyone have any further tidbits? I’m learning a lot…)