We stood on the high mound and looked across the river at the solitary tall stone in the middle of the field. Jack pointed out the remnants of a bridge that would have provided passage over the water from the mound to this ancient inaugural stone of the O’Briens. The stone in this photo is the Lia Fáil, the Stone of Destiny, near the Hill of Tara. A gift to the Irish people by the Tuatha Dé, when the rightful High King of Ireland put his feet on it the stone was said to roar in joy. Confirmation of his rightful sovereignty. And every tribe had their roaring inauguration stone.
I turned my gaze from the O’Brien stone and scanned the landscape. It wasn’t hard to imagine the vast clan gathering, camps and campfires scattered over the slopes of the surrounding gentle hills. They would be gathered for the banais ríghi, the wedding feast of kingship. Being king was a sacred trust with both the people and the land. This ceremony was a symbolic marriage between the mortal king and the Goddess of Sovereignty, the personification of Ireland herself. The king not only had to be acceptable to both the land and the people to become king, he had to stay acceptable or be deposed. It was an onerous job. The list of qualities and qualifications was long and daunting. He had to be physically unblemished and be possessed of the noble qualities of hospitality, reputation, dignity, exemplary deeds, righteousness, brilliance, generosity, geniality, honor, companionship, courtesy, bravery, affection, beauty, prudence, discernment, excellence and eminence – just to name a few. Taken together these comprised the Justice of the King. This from an ancient text…
It is clear to those who consider well, how profitable to the world is the justice of a king, for it is the peace of peoples, the security of country, the safety of the common folk, the defence of the tribe, the cure of illness, the joy of men, the clemency of the weather, the calm of the seas, the fruitfulness of the earth, the consolation of the poor, the inheritance of children, for the king himself, the hope of future bliss.
As Jack and I sat on the mound in the warm summer sun our conversation turned to the state of Irish politics and the upcoming US presidential election. Perhaps it is time to learn something from these old Stone of Destiny traditions. …how profitable to the world is the justice of a king… Perhaps it’s time to stone our leaders.