It Doesn’t Really Matter

I recently commented to friends that it doesn’t really matter who gets elected in November. As you might imagine this elicited strong reactions before I was able to finish my thought that it doesn’t really matter because if Trump is elected, those who hold the values aligned Clinton Trumpwith his message will be emboldened and the rhetoric and actions of divisive hatred will escalate. If Hillary wins, that hatred will not vanish and there is danger in any complacent thinking that it might. As I try to climb out of my shock and horror that so many Americans are buying this hateful agenda – now codified as the RNC platform – I realize we have work to do regardless the outcome in November. Watching the dysfunction in our nation’s capitol, I realize we cannot rely on those folks to negotiate needed policy changes let alone navigate the real work that is in front of us.

power of the peopleWe must rely on ourselves. We must take back the power we hold as creative, intelligent people of passion and compassion. We must privately and publically assert and demonstrate the values we hold of love and peace and social justice. Of the all the memes and messages that come streaming through the media, I am most heartened by those that shine a light on actions of love and compassion. Perhaps it’s time to make that light brighter. Perhaps it’s time to create more of those actions. Individually and collectively. What might be possible if this consciousness swept through our lives, our families, and our communities as a fresh wind of hope and change?

So. Some might comment that my blog posts are generally related to all things Irish and might question how this relates to Ireland. Well, my friends, like others around the world they are holding their collective breath to see what this nation is truly made of. To see if there is the power and courage to stand in and stand for the principles, values, and truths we have so long declared to be self evident.

I know we can do this. For this is what really matters now.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Judith –

If You Want To Feel The Power

We came to call them that couple from Colorado. They approached us last fall about going on tour with us. But they wanted us to adjust the tours so they could start at Skellig Michael. She wanted to stand on top and connect with the ley lines that are said to intersect there. They were not entirely happy that we declined this suggestion and not at all interested in the many reasons behind our decision.

The recent Star Wars movie has had quite the impact on tours to Skellig Michael where the final scenes were filmed. They are booked out for months. And even if you do get a Skellig-Michaelbooking there is no guarantee you will get to the island. Those are treacherous waters even in the best of weather and one can arrive for the morning departure only to be told by the boat captain that they are not making the trip that day. You get your money back. But not your place in the queue. And if you do get to the island there is the daunting climb to the top along a very narrow wind-swept set of stone stairs. Not for the faint of heart.

There were other reasons behind our decision. What would be a long drive well away from our normal route of sacred sites. Spending time in touristed areas we generally avoid on our journeys. Jack’s general reluctance to get terribly excited about ley lines.

But what Jack and I tried repeatedly to share with this couple is that you don’t need to stand on top of a windy craggy rock to feel the power in Ireland. It’s there at every site we visit. It is present in the land and especially the sacred landscapes. The point is not to arrive in Ireland with preconceived ideas of where to touch the magic. The point is to spend time with these sites and allow the powerful energies to find you. Because they will if one is open. If you want to feel the power, just spend time with the land. In Ireland as in so many other places around this beautiful globe, it’s there. And it’s waiting for those willing to release their preconceptions and surrender to what is truly present.

Judith –

What Would They Tell Us?

The landscape seems desolate and deserted. But as we walked to the Beaghmore stone circles that notion vanished entirely.beaghmore stone circlesAt megalithic sites across Ireland, usually there are three or four circles in the same area. Usually they are fields apart. Usually we have no clues about how our ancestors approached and interacted with these sites. But there is nothing usual about these seven circles. One solitary circle. The other six paired so close together they almost touch. Each pairing with a cairn between them and avenues of standing stones that suggest a ceremonial approach. The pattern of engagement is palpable.

Beaghmore landscapeAnd these circles are only one of many sites nestled in the Sperrin Mountains – just one of the dots scattered across this map. It was staggering to imagine this entire landscape teeming with tribal people in sacred ceremony, their chants and songs echoing across the valley. We could feel them. We could almost see them walking among the stones. Ann suggested we bring tents and camp here for several weeks. To sit with the stones and land and ancestral energies who were woven in sacred relationship. To listen for the wisdom of the ancestors. A wisdom lost so long ago. A wisdom, it seems to me, we could sure use today.

Brilliant idea, Ann. I wonder. What would they tell us?

Judith – 

Beyond The One

It had been a long and full day when Jack proposed another adventure. I glanced at the rest of the group and a collective thought bubble appeared over their heads. “No! Please! Not another stone circle!”

Jack's vistasAh. Such is traveling with Jack. For there is always just over the hill another stone circle, dolmen, standing stone, or cairn. He knows them all. And he’s excited to share these ancient friends with anyone willing to climb stone walls and fences or navigate fields of cows and sheep.

Yet it’s not really about these ancient sites themselves. Yes, they are spectacular. But it’s not the individual megaliths Jack wants us to see. It’s the larger landscape. The pattern. It’s so easy to get focused on a single cairn or circle and one of the many reasons I appreciate working with Jack is his expansive perspective. Stepping back to see and imagine not only the sites but their relationship with each other…and the people who created them. This is the greater mystery of Ireland’s sacred landscape. A mystery that beckons us to look beyond the one.

Seems applicable to so many things in life.

Judith –

Roadside Saints

They didn’t just go to church on Sunday and call it good. The sacred was woven in their lives and landscapes – with them each day through task and travel. A heritage that is very much alive today.

Driving Ireland’s more rural roads, it’s common to see a roadside shrine for Mary. They are ubiquitous. There are also shrines for St. Brigit. Yet until we wandered the roads of St. KieranDonegal, I had not encountered a shrine for a male saint. And surely didn’t expect this one. Of course he is located just a field away from some of the areas most magnificent megaliths. So many Catholic sites are located near or with the ancient sacred sites.

The fresh flowers, rosary beads, and over turned ceramic mugs at the nearby well are evidence that St. Kieran is still visited. His folk art countenance suggests that he is no Church sanctioned statuary but a product of dedication and reverence by the local people. The tattered sign leaning against him gives instruction on how to observe the holy pattern of this place.

And I wonder what these people would say about a modern culture that reserves sacred encounter for Sundays and churches. They might not say much. But their actions at places like St. Kieran’s shrine and holy well speak volumes.

And I wonder what might be different if we had roadside saints.

Judith –


World War I was raging in Europe when Father Michael O’Flanagan spoke the following to a crowd of over ten thousand people.

All this hatred, that is supposed to fill the breast of the English and the French against the Germans, and of the Germans against the English and the French is largely a manufactured hatred that is built up by the lying newspapers and the lying ministers, who sit in offices in London and other capitals of Europe and play with the lives of men by the million. These men are in no danger themselves but they coolly talk of one offensive, and that offensive will probably cost 150,000 or 200,000 lives. With a stroke of a pencil or with some wild speech or some wild sentence about a knock-out blow, they blot out the lives of hundreds of thousands of fathers and children and leave weeping and broken hearts throughout the length and breadth of Europe…

power of the pressOf course censors forbade publishing even a single word of this in the press. The speech had to be printed privately as a pamphlet.

As you might imagine, just about every conversation I had in Ireland touched on the Brexit vote…and our upcoming presidential elections. Everyone I talked with was pretty sure – and horrified – that Trump will be our next president. My efforts to convince them otherwise were met with great skepticism. The obscenity of his campaign is all the media is reporting over there. The people don’t hear much about Clinton. They hear almost nothing about Saunders. The press has created the forgone conclusion that Trump will sit in the oval office. This is the power of the press. And it’s opPRESSive.

Judith –

A Priest Of Popular Passion

If you’ve read my book, you will know I am no fan of the Catholic church’s role in Irish history. There are notable exceptions. On this 4th of July I read a booklet on a priest who played a huge role in Irish independence. Father Michael O’Flanagan has been called the father1staunchest priest who ever lived in Ireland. His actions and especially his words ring a strong truth for this day and these times. In one of many articles he wrote:

What shall we eat and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed? These questions always have been asked and always will be asked. They arise from the necessities of our nature. In a supply of these necessities is the mainspring of human effort. If there be in a country people who are underfed, or who are insufficiently clothed, it should be a matter of grave concern to the Government and it may be, and usually is, to some extent at least, the fault of the Government themselves.

Strong words for a priest. Especially in those times in Ireland. But he also had strong words for his Catholic brethren who actually censured him for several years, although it was to no avail.

And I say to the priests of the Irish race, you are not bound to take your politics from your Bishops…. If you do not speak your mind boldly on political questions then you have degraded your priesthood to the position of a mere job and your job is bigger than your soul. 

Today, amidst the horrendous noise of fireworks both legal and not, I celebrate the passion of a man who gladly accepted a life-work bigger than his soul.

Judith –

The Ugly American-O

There are perhaps few things more annoying than Americans who travel to another country, one assumes to experience another culture, and expect the people of that place to accommodate their American mores. And, when I’m in Ireland, I do my best to assimilate. Well….with one exception. Coffee.

Some who have traveled with me say that I’m really leading coffee shop tours of Ireland with megaliths on the side. True. Over the years I have come to know most of the coffee shops in the areas we visit. I know which ones pull their own shots and which use those push button machines.

Pouring Cream CowIn my journey with cancer I’ve given up a lot of my favorite foods. But not breve lattes. And Ireland doesn’t list breve’s on their menu boards. In fact they don’t have half-and-half as we know it. They have full cream, what they call pouring cream. So my frequent order is a latte made with pouring cream. This generally causes both confused looks and a spontaneous meeting among the coffee shop staff. But most are willing to give it a go. It was in in a small coffee shop in Ballydehob in the southwest of Ireland where one young man had just made a brilliant breve. He watched me as I took a sip and smiled. “Ah, now I might like to try that myself,” he said. I handed him back my cup. He took a sip and his eyebrows raised. “That’s really lovely,” he said. “I will definitely be making more of those.”

As I pay for the coffee there is always the conversation about how they should really charge me more. “Now why would we be doing that?” one woman asked. “Because pouring cream is more expensive,” I replied. “Ah, but sure you’re in Ireland,” she responded, “so we won’t be bothered about that.”

Yes. I am in Ireland. And some days I’m playing the part of the ugly American-O.

Judith –


Unless you’re J.K. Rowling I imagine it’s a fairly common experience. You write a book. Because it calls to be written. And then you wait to see how it is received. Some said my voice was missing in the first edition and apparently that has been completely resolved with the second edition. I agree. It’s a much better read. But that’s all about style. Which is important, but not the reflection on content I listen for.

I fully appreciate that for those who don’t live in Ireland the book can be a bit like stepping into a whole new world. But over these past weeks, I found that for those who have grown up steeped in the history, mythology, legends, and cosmologies of Ireland, the book really resonates. Thomas Sheridan, the man who interviewed me at Wicker Man Studios, is one example. For many, the title alone spoke strongly to them. Several bookshop owners and managers read the title, flipped through the pages, and said it was a book they wanted to read and could think of friends who would want to as well.

Lovely. But even though, as Jack said many times, “ah, sure it’s early days yet”, I still listen for the impact the book is having for those who have read it. There is one story…

magic book 1Michaela, an energy worker/healer, read my book and when she found out I was going to be in Ireland she told Jack she really wanted to meet me. Over lunch she shared how meaningful the book had been with regard to her spiritual journey. And then she told me of one of her clients, a local farmer who has never seen reason to venture far from his village home. Skeptical as he is about energy healing, I have no idea how he found Michaela. But he has been coming to her every month for the past couple of years. A few weeks ago she gave him a copy of my book.

While he told Michaela that he didn’t quite read all of it, what he did read completely shifted his relationship with the land and his cosmological heritage. Especially the ancient sacred sites he has grown up with in the surrounding landscape. And he reported there was a deep healing in this for him.

There’s a song I sing every day to the Divine Tribe. Honoring the ancient wisdom they hold and affirming an intention that through a deeper connection to this knowing, people might come to a place of healing and wholeness.

I left my lunch with Michaela reflecting on the story of the farmer. “Exactly!,” I thought to myself.

Judith –

Red Hair & Gloves

Before they left to spend the night in a gypsy caravan near the coast, I received explicit instructions on feeding the chickens, the cats and kittens, and most especially the log and branch reindeer that stands near the patio.

“Now, do ye think you can manage all that?”, she asked.

I thought carefully. “Well, I will do my best.”

my portraitWhen they returned the next day I was immediately questioned about how I had performed my duties. Satisfied that I had done a good job, she announced she would do a portrait of me. She was meticulous about the curly hair although not comfortable with the grey of it. “And,” she announced, “you can see that I gave you red gloves.”


Judith –