Time To Be Troublesome

I’ve long been a feminist. And my husband has long been totally supportive. But when I stepped into a serious and now life-long relationship with spirituality and all the power and possibility of unseen realms and other worlds, he was cautious. I remember sitting with him on the front porch and explaining the mystic dimensions that were opening for me. He listened for a while and then quietly said, “You know. They used to burn women like you.”

 “Yes they did,” I responded, “but that was a long time ago.”

Recently in Ireland, I attended a presentation by Melissa Sihra, a professor and chair of the drama department at Trinity College Dublin. A remarkable woman and a troublesome woman by her own naming, Melissa spoke of how Lady Gregory was an enthusiastic supporter of wise women, witches, crones, and hags. Augusta Gregory lived in the community where we now have a cottage and many of her plays, written in the early 1900s, were remarkable commentaries on Ireland’s mystically powerful women.

 In her presentation, Melissa commented that the witch hunts in England and the United States are now considered misogynistic massacres of women. The patriarchal persecution of the witch embodies a fear of women’s sexuality, a repression of women’s alternative healing practices, the abolition of abortion, the rejection of women who chose to live a single life, and the prohibition of women’s communities.

Our foresisters were the Great Hags whom the institutionally powerful but privately impotent patriarchs found too threatening for coexistence, and whom historians erase.

History has erased our stories. But now the patriarchy is again emboldened and it seems the persecution and the witch hunts have returned. It’s time to raise our voices and stand in our power. As a character in one of Lady Gregory’s plays said about the local wise woman character, “Sometimes singing and dancing she does be, and sometimes troublesome.”

 It’s time to be troublesome.

 In a few days I will join my elder spiritual sisters for our annual Hag Retreat. We will sing. We will dance. And I expect there will be troublesome brewing.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Strong Knowing. Strong Hearts.

I just posted this image on FB. There is a rage and rising within the sisterhood. And we need it. In these times and all times. We stand on the shoulders of outrageous and outraged women who have come and gone before us, for women have long been the keepers of communities in balance and right relationship.

I wrote a story about this for my new book, A Call To Crone. It’s just below. It’s a story inspired by the many times I’ve listened to musician Christy Barry share his story of growing up in Doolin and having the community gather in the thatched cottages to dance through the night. It’s also inspired by a knowing that the women were the ones who attended the health and well being of their people. Especially our mystic ancesstresses who kept their tribes and their people woven with the harmonies of the Earth and with each other. So I took the liberty to weave both inspirations in this story to honor the women who wove a harmony for their people.

The knowing of it was now strong in her. There was no special occasion, no celebration of either life or death. But Máirín knew there was a need for it and she put out the call that quickly spread through the village.

That evening after dusk and the day’s work done, her neighbors made their way to one of the thatched roof stone cottages. They gathered to share stories and perhaps a clay pipe but most of all they gathered to dance. The concertina was taken from the small alcove in the hearth where the warmth of the stones kept it dry. The fiddle was tuned, the dance sets were chosen, and the dancers checked that the short nails were secure in the soles of their shoes. As the nails set a rhythm on the flagstone floor, music and movement filled the room.

Music well played was important but it was all in service to the dance. For it was all about the dance, the rhythm of the dance that flowed through the dancers as they moved together in unity and harmony, set upon set and hour upon hour into the night. The rhythm of the dance became the heartbeat of the people. The rhythm of the dance restored their spirit.

With the growing light of dawn, the people returned to their homes to get ready for another day of work. They had danced through the night but they were not tired as a renewed spirit and energy was in them. Máirín smiled quietly to herself. The heart of her people was again strong.

May we weave wisdom and harmony for our people and may their hearts be strong.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

A Call To Crone


Thank you for your patience. The book is now available through my website. On the Books page…or this link.  https://stonefireblog.com/books-by-judith/ I am able to sell and ship the books within both the US and Ireland/Europe. 

Some are asking about the woman on the cover. Her name is Stefanie Lange and she’s a fashion model in London. Go figure. When Dennis and I knew that we would be working with images of elder women in the book I remembered I had saved this photo. How can you not love this photo? And so I set out to find the photographer to obtain use rights. In the process I found Stefanie. When I messaged her through FB about using the photo and finding the photographer, this is what she wrote back: It’s lovely you got in touch. How wonderful you’re writing this book of the power of womanhood and wisdom. We are definitely not sliding into being invisible. And with that she shattered my preconceptions about where we will find our Crone Sisters.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Blasphemous Free Speech

The Irish will soon vote on a President and blasphemy. When I saw the referendum guide land in the post over here my first thought was that in the 2016 US election we got something of a package deal that’s gone from bad to horrendous.

In spite of popular and ubiquitous epitaths like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!, Christ on a bike!, and Jesus feckin Christ!, blasphemy is currently illegal in Ireland and subject to a fine up to €25,000. I doubt many have been so fined and perhaps that’s reason for the upcoming referendum to remove the word ‘blasphemous’ from the Constitution. The referendum is expected to pass. 

The Irish are big on free speech. The Consitution states: The State guarantees liberty for the exercise of the following rights, subject to public order and morality: – 

The right of citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.

The education of public opinion being, however, a matter of such grave import to the common good, the State shall endeavor to ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while preserving the rightful liberty of expression, including criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to undermine public order or morality…

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, (this word would be removed with a ‘yes’ vote) seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

The education of public opinion. Common good. Morality. It seems in the States we’ve stepped beyond these ideals to embrace a narrative and public discourse that is blasphemous to the core. And it is a matter of grave import.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Rooted In Justice

I’ve been in Ireland for two recent landmark votes. One for gay marriage and the one last May to repeal the prohibition on a woman’s right to choose. There were no slim margins. Both passed decisively. 

Just before the vote in May I encountered some women who were campaigning for the repeal. They were concerned. There had been massive infusions of money, much from US right wing Christian conservatives, to defeat the repeal. And the ‘Yes!’ campaign was outspent ten to one. The graphic and misleading signs were everywhere. This photo from the Dublin area, I believe, shows a balance of signs but in other areas the streets were lined with only ‘No’ posters.

The ‘No’ narrative was loud and bombastic and aggressive. A very familiar noise for those of us in the States who champion a woman’s right to choose. A loud and aggressive and abusive shouting not at all unlike what is currently happening in the States. A shouting that gets more deafening as we approach the elections in November. A shouting rooted in patriarchy and a belief in white supremacy. 

But here’s the thing. All that shouting. It didn’t work in Ireland. Citing the cautionary tale of our 2016 presidential election, thousands flew home to Ireland to cast their ballots. And across Ireland the people said ‘no’ to the abusive narrative and ‘yes’ to a woman’s right to choose. 

I hold great hope that the same will unfold in our upcoming elections. I hold great hope that we will, like the Irish, choose to cast our ballots rooted in justice.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Burke’s Law

Limestone deposits are an issue here in the west of Ireland. Our hot water kettle was looking pretty grim and I was in search of a solution. Specifically I was on a quest for these small stainless steel plugs that live in the kettle, loosening and collecting the limestone when the water boils. They work brilliantly. I had been to a few local stores with no luck when I wandered into Burke Hardware. The very elder Mr. Burke had them in stock. I was glad to finally find them and our conversation went like this.

Me: You are fabulous.
Mr. Burke: Now, no one has ever said that about me before.
Me, laughing: Well, if that’s true there is something very wrong with the world.
Mr. Burke: Well, at the moment there is something very wrong with the world.

At this point he looked at me carefully. Something I encounter all the time. Sussing out where I stand with the political disaster in our country. 

Me: Oh, yes. We are in deep trouble in the States. It’s just horrific.
Mr. Burke: Well now, over here we shoot them fellas.

Burke’s Law. Not the more restorative justice law of the Brehons. But there was a time when the English honored no law. When they honored neither the Irish people nor their culture. There was a time when this would have been true. And Mr. Burke remembers that time.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Note: I would love to hear from you about this or any other post. Due to hacking and spamming I’ve had to turn off the more automatic response for these posts.