Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Winter Born

Sue’s Snow Stairs Photo

Every night the sisters crept from darkness, their sharp words raking the air like claws. They sang up sneering shadows, their taunting voices, cold as death. Sleepless, we cowered in corners. And then one night, they vanished, a cackling flurry down winding stairs. Their absence was all that remained.

We woke to ice on windows, glass cracking and contracting in wooden frames. Condensation dripped down frosty walls. Frigid air hung heavy … waiting. Furniture loomed slick and sheer, a solid glacial blue. A grating crunch, and we pried the door, running for the stairs … lost under thick drifts of snow.

***

For Sue’s photo prompt, The Stairs.

6 Founding Principles of Ancient Irish Society

An incredibly researched post on the values of our ancient Irish ancestors, from Ali. Our society would be far better if we lived by the same principles. There are some of us who, however imperfectly, do strive to live this way in our day to day lives. Our world is still incredibly violent and stuck in the fear of separation, the pain of turning away from each other, refusing people who look and think differently, standing by the wrong things, deceiving ourselves, trading respect for whatever seems more important. It can’t go on that way. I hope for a braver, wiser, interdependent world, and aim to live accordingly. Our ancestors struggled with these same things, but their laws and values shed light on a way of being human that we collectively seem to have forgotten.

aliisaacstoryteller

6 Founding Principles of Ancient Irish Society www.aliisaacstoryteller.com 6 Founding Principles of Ancient Irish Society
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

I’ve long felt that our ancient Irish ancestors were far more advanced and civilised than we give them credit for. Not simply because of the amazing engineering which went onto the construction of the stone structures they left behind in the landscape, but through all that I have learned about their beliefs and way of life from reading their stories in the ancient texts. Topped off by the extraordinary Brehon Laws which governed their society.

During my research, I came across the work of Alexei Kondratiev. He was an  author, linguist, and teacher of Celtic languages, folklore and culture in America until his death in 2010. He considered himself to be both a Neo-pagan and a Christian, could speak all six Celtic languages, and several native American languages too. He was a very accomplished scholar and teacher, with qualifications in anthropology, linguistics…

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The Mill

Mill Photo

Lugach fixed his son with a soul-piercing stare. “I entrusted her to you for no more than half a sun’s climb, Cormac. Where is she!” Seeing the pain threatening to engulf his fathers face was almost worse than the hot waves of shame, flooding him with his countless failures. He felt like he had been a disappointment to his father from the day he was born. Now he would be hated. He shoved the clawing animal of guilt and grief back into its iron-barred cage in his heart. To his horror, he was not quite under control when he spoke. That was the way with him, good, but not good enough. “Lost.” It was a choked whisper. Dazed, he shook himself violently, as if from a nightmare that would not give him up.

“Lost?!” his father roared. “May you find her or die trying!”

Running … running … who had moved him? … When had the running begun? As if from a great distance, he watched his body run. Die trying… if only he could do that, it might make his father proud.

Now far from the roundhouse door, down the steep rugged path… he was headed toward the mill… the mill his father built along with his new life after he left the fianna. Cormac used to hate that mill. Now it was a refuge, one of the only places to be alone.

Today it was not his thoughts that sent him sprinting to the roar of the wheel and the grind of the stones. It was not even the resentment he had at not being given the same choice for a future that his father had. It was a dread, an unnamable loss that tore at him now.

Lost, she was lost…

He’d been playing “hide to find” with her when the runner arrived from a far off settlement, on the business of trade with his father. But his father wasn’t there, and so it was up to him to provide hospitality.

He’d left her for a moment among the clusters of trees with no concern. His sister knew the woods like the back of her hand. Besides, at five summers old, she shouldn’t always need to be supervised.

The last thing he had said to her was, “Don’t wander outside the trees.” The last thing he’d heard was her birdsong of laughter as she enacted some imaginary game.

The sound of pounding feet that were not his own brought Cormac unceremoniously back to the present. He thought that running full ahead might keep him from the pain, but now it sliced through him again, sharper than a spear.

The mill, he had to get to the mill. Tears threatened to fall, and crying was as good as forbidden. He was not so far now… but whoever was coming this way was having no trouble gaining on him. Had he been spotted? Quickly, he moved sideways, then dashed behind a thick clump of trees where he could remain hidden, while keeping an eye on the road.

Lost … she was lost …

“Mac Lugach!” the voice shouting his name too close to the sheltering trees provoked a cold panic, even while he recognized the speaker. It was Aodh, Caoilte’s eldest. . Since when did his friends provoke terror in him, he wondered? But he dare not question the extent of his ability to fall short of every social expectation. He held his silence close as death.

“Cormac,” Aodh questioned quietly, having soundlessly covered the space between them. He was too good. Of course he was.

They belonged to the same cohort, and yet Cormac could not meet Aodh’s searching eyes. He turned away in shame, but not before Aodh saw the tracks of tears on his face. He wished he could disappear. He prepared for the inevitable mocking that didn’t come. Instead, Aodh just stood there quietly, regarding him with a genuine concern.

“Something isn’t right with you. What is it, man?”

What was it. Cormac searched in the growing fog for the words that seemed to shrink into shadow, frightened by the glaring light of truth. “Lost … the mill … lost…”

“Look, man,” Aodh said after thinking for a while. “If it’s the mill you’re wanting to get to, let me come with you.”

“Why are you here?” the question was sudden, and Cormac immediately regretted its harshness.

“Your father sent for us to search for…”

That was enough. Could his father not trust his own son? Apparently not. And there were others?

he was back on the trail now, moving … parting the shadowed words and the fog, pounding the anger into the ground, aware only vaguely of Aodh’s presence beside him. He was too dazed to care, but not too numb to drown the panic rising in him like a tide. Lost … he had lost her.

***

They found the body floating near the mill. She had not yet learned to swim. Between them they carried her, back up the path from where they had come, to break the news no parent is ever prepared to hear.

Behind them, as the sky began to darken, one light could still be seen. It glowed soft and shimmering, just above the mill. It has never disappeared.

Sue’s Photo Challenge

Everyone is Irish today

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!

Christy Jackson Nicholas, Author and Artist

St. Patrick’s Day is a lovely time, when people good-naturedly say ‘everyone is Irish’.

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What is it about the Irish culture and people that draw us so? It’s a tiny island on the edge of Europe. But the Irish have infiltrated many people’s lives indelibly. I know it has mine. I feel at home in Ireland more than any place in the world. It’s my soul’s home, mo anam bhaile.

I first set foot on Ireland on my first real vacation, 20 years ago. I felt balanced there, a home I never knew but always yearned for. The land itself welcomed me with open arms, and I’ve gone back many times. I hope to live there someday.

Is the land itself alive? Of course it is. It is teeming with life, both seen and unseen. It is a magic in and of itself, and it knows those that belong…

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The Last Temple of the Celts

Feral Words

druids The Druids Bringing in the Mistletoe, by Edward Atkinson Hornel & George Henry

The west of Europe used to be full of Celtic temples. In every settlement, every holy grove, every mountain top and ring of stones that held any import for the peoples of old there would have been some structure marked out as holy, a place to connect the people to the spirits who lived alongside of them. There were statues of gold and idols of stone, rings of trees wreathed with cloth, wells encircled by the swirling patterns of the art called La Tene. A vivid, distinct and technically accomplished culture did as all such cultures have done; piled up in its holiest of holies the greatest achievements of its civilisation, to honour the gods that it worshipped.

The afterglow of their achievements still hangs on the horizon. The illuminated gospels of Ireland, the giant carved stones of the Picts…

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The Spiral Pattern of Living

There is no finish line
No tick marks or check boxes
No blanks to fill in
No thing to cross out

Instead we walk the labyrinth of living
Inward and outward
Weaving ourselves into being
Learning our mystery moment by moment

This terrain of trouble and triumph
I have traveled many times before
Wondering what it was I did wrong
If I was growing, why had I returned

The contours of the path remain the same
Not so, the one who passes through
Every switchback, rewandered turn, has mattered
And in the crossing and recrossing, we unfold

I will come by here again, hold out my hand
To welcome every seed of joy
And the beauty of the broken roots
With stark scars of sadness, red as sunset

Each time, a different phase of moon
Cascades its own collage of color
Each time, reflected light casts its shadows
And I am left breathless once again with the remembering

Positive affirmations that could really make a difference

A beautiful post by Nimue reminding us that a lasting sense of worth and value are found in living by and for and with each other. The world is starving for a message like this.

Druid Life

Positive affirmation has come to mean little mantras and memes we repeat to ourselves to help us feel better about things. I tend to find them hollow and unhelpful. It’s worth repeating a thought form when I am trying to change myself – it is ok to rest- for example. Too often what we ask positive affirmations to do is replace what isn’t otherwise coming to us. The universe loves me. I am valued. I am good and my life is worthwhile.

I think about the people (I’ve been one of them) who in times of stress apologise for existing. We’re sorry that we take up space and carbon, that we breathe and eat. To feel this way, I have realised, you have to be convinced that you are not entitled to exist. We don’t get there on our own and we don’t get out of it on our own…

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Fly Anyway

A work in progress
A million shards of mirror –

It could take lifetimes,
Making peace with the pieces

Now, where does that leave me?
Which present do I share –

When I still have thoughts that shouldn’t be there
Patterns I should not repeat?

Fragmented, fractured – who am I to speak
Of wholeness, so fragile

With little sense of direction,
A broken wing –

The wild winds whisper,
Fly anyway.

The Place Beyond Forgiveness

I have forgiven me, but that has not been enough
I’m still haunted, at times just looking in your eyes
For me, the fact that I’ve grown is irrelevant
I remember; and I ache to erase, all of it

Breath catches, frozen in mid motion
I relive it in an instant, a wave of yesterdays
This time, I force myself to trace the river of shame
Trembling with the effort of owning what I did

Perhaps I can finally be at peace
The way you have made peace, and love me
The way you have always loved me
You stand in the doorway, a light against shadows

Try to find the grace in the sorrow, you say,
The gold in the grey
Some compassion for the one that you were
In a moment where all was forgotten

I search for the goodness I might have learned
Gather a harvest from tears
You meet my eyes before I shut them
With open eyes I watch the wounds begin to heal

Can I hold space with you, you ask me then
I fear allowing myself something kind
Attempting, regardless, to meet myself gently
You step behind me, quietly enfold me in your arms

With the trust of a child, I let myself be seen
I am present without judgment, perhaps for the first time
I am shifted into spaciousness, now enfolding us
And the light shining through me is mine