Who Would She Choose?

In ancient Ireland sovereignty was a sacred contract with the Earth. Inaugurations were called Bainis Rí, or wedding feast of kingship, as in these ceremonies the king was married to the land-goddess Ériu after whom Ireland is named. In swearing fielty to her, he became Goddess-Eriua mediator between her supernatural powers and the community. Social equilibrium and prosperity depended on his observing the sanctity of this relationship. And let’s be clear, Ériu was demanding.

She required nothing less that absolute right relationship with the land and the people. She required that his leadership embody the knowing that all people and all life are sacred. And if the king proved to be cruel, faltering, or capricious, she declined his sovereignty and the people’s welfare suffered. This was Justice of a King and ancient texts were explicit on the subject.

“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 the 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, and the inheritance of children.”

As I look at the landscape of our presidential candidates and consider the sacred sovereignty bestowed by Ériu, I have to wonder. Who would she choose?

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Mindless Entertainment


watching tv


“I can’t see sitting in front of a piece of furniture all the time. You could just as well watch a chair for an evening.”

Seán Murphy


One of the last remaining storytellers in west Ireland, Seán was very concerned that television would be the ruin of both mind and community. For him, storytelling was a sacred art and it wasn’t just about the story. “Not the story really at all, but the idea you were passing your time with others. ‘Twas like mass, you see, because we went to the chapel for the same reason.”

Today, as stories fly at us through all manner of media, including blog posts, it seems we have abrogated our own storytelling. Seems we just pass stories around. But they are so often someone else’s story.

I readily admit to enjoying mindless entertainment. For there is story in it. And I do love a good story. But I wonder. What might be possible were we to engage less in mindless entertainment and more in mindful storytelling? Might we touch the sacred…in ourselves and each other?

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Oh, Please. Not Him!

In my spiritual community we pray. A lot. We pray for the Earth. We pray for women and children. We pray for our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. We pray for the marginalized and the disenfranchised. Last Sunday we were asked to pray for Donald Trump. Seriously!?!

I can think of no politician so dramatically and diametrically opposed to the values and beliefs I hold sacred. The idea that he would become president horrifies me. And now I am to pray for him every day. To send prayers of our Metta that he would open his heart and mind to these sacred truths. That all beings will have fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink, adequate food, a home, someone to share love with. That they will know their true purpose, be well and happy and free from suffering.

Last summer some Irish friends asked me over dinner if we were really stupid enough to elect him. The Irish have a heritage of holding their leaders to a high standard. They were really wondering about our standards. Indeed. What might be possible if we were to embrace the standards that King Cormac laid out in his Instructions of the King?



Do not deride any old person though you be young
Nor any poor man though you be rich,
Nor any naked though you be well-clad,
Nor any lame though you be swift,
Nor any blind though you be keen-sighted,
Nor any invalid though you be robust,
Nor any dull though you be clever,
Nor any fool though you be wise.



Cormac had much to say about righteous leadership. But we might start here. For indeed, what might be possible? In the meantime, this is for you Mr. Trump:

May all beings have fresh air and water
May all beings have food to eat
May all beings share love with someone
May all beings have a home
May all beings know their true purpose
May all beings be well and happy
May all beings be free from suffering

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

A Gift Of Geis

For our Irish ancestors, a sacred oath was never limited to this realm. In fact, it was often entered into with, or initiated by, those in other realms. The veil between realms was geisalways thin and those on the other side were always accessible.

They called it geis, pronounced guess. A word with origins that include prayer and request. A lovely idea if one is asking for the support and assistance from those who have gone before us or those of a divine nature. However geis also implies a destined occurrence and in this context it was those in other worlds reaching out to those in this world. It could be daunting. Throughout Irish literature, geis referred to a magical demand or injunction placed on a person. It was central to kingship as kings were required to maintain an equilibrium between the community and the sacred. Especially the sacred land and sacred realms. Breaking a geis would result in death for the ruler and devastation for the community.

While I have no notion that breaking the geis I forged with my father after his death will result in my death, I know it would have an impact on the vitality of our family. He has asked me to hold the family as sacred and to continue to weave the bonds of love, passion, dedication, and joy. His geis is a gift I receive. A gift I give.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Blood Oath

After Mom died, the light never returned in my Dad’s eyes. A light that had been so powerful and so present. This came home to me as I wandered through family photos to create the video for his memorial. Yet I also had the opportunity to reflect on the light of his soul. A light that was never extinguished. A light he carried home with him.

While he had English ancestors, Dad was most connected with his Irish roots. And the light of his soul was absolutely Irish. The laughter and joy. The music and poetry. The love for and devotion to family and community. All aspects rooted firmly in our Irish heritage.

Honoring a sacred obligation, especially to family and community, was a very serious matter for our Irish ancestors. In fact, it is from their strong devotion to honoring these obligations that we inherit the concept of a blood oath. It was the tradition that when the heart bloodIrish made a very solemn league, they would ratify it by drinking a drop of each other’s blood, mixed with water. It was a sacred bond.

Dad and I never drank each other’s blood. Perhaps it was enough that we were of the same blood. But after Mom died we did enter into a sacred bond. We claimed our elder positions in the family and our shared responsibility to carry on the values he and Mom so cherished. Values of joy. Of education and learning, honesty and integrity, community and family. And more.

When Dad died there were many of the family gathered. And after the necessary business of obituaries, memorial arrangements, and clearing out his room, I took the family on a hike up a nearby butte. It was time to breathe. Time to sit with Dad and listen for what he would ask of us. What he would want us to carry forward from him. For me, it was a return to and reaffirmation of that sacred bond he and I had forged many years before. A renewal of that blood oath.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com 

Deep Grief


My husband suggested my tears were those of an orphan. He knows this landscape of orphan. Yet I sensed this grief was so much deeper.

I had been waiting for it. And when it arrived this past week it was like a tsunami. The waves of it swept me off my feet and took my breath away.

Perhaps the orphan grief will arrive. But this profound sense of loss has nothing to do with my Dad’s death. Like Mom, he had lived a full and wonderful life and he was ready to go. Ready to be with Mom again. No. This was something else.

After Solstice, I spent several days going through family photos to create a video for the upcoming memorial celebration for Dad. It was when the photos were in place with the background opera track from Andrea Bocelli. Mom and Dad so loved opera. It was when I hit ‘play’ that the first wave descended. I didn’t know that keening, which is an Irish tradition, was so embedded in my DNA. Through streaming tears I watched the video again and again. Watching for the trigger. And I found it.

It wasn’t the early photos. Those brought up wonderful memories of my childhood. It wasn’t the later photos, especially those after Mom died, where the light had gone out of Dad’s eyes. For I had walked that journey with both of them. No, it was the photos of the in-between time. The time when I had stepped away from the family. As with so many, I had distanced myself from a family that was not entirely happy with my life choices. Beginning with leading the anti-war movement in the university community where I grew up and where Dad worked. It was a tense time. And it was a tension that would not be resolved for decades.

And so it was seeing those photos of family times I missed. Times with my Dad and Mom that I missed. Times I will never get back. And I’ve reflected on how different it might have been had we lived in Ireland. Yes, there was desperate poverty and so many fled for other parts of the world. Yet it is also a culture where families, until very recently, stayed together in the same village for generation upon generation. A culture where wealth was measured by the strength of family and community. In this US culture of fierce independence where families are so commonly separated by thousands of miles, we have lost so much.

This is the loss I grieve so deeply.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com