I don’t generally write two posts in one day. But this story, thank you Dennis for finding it, is a compelling addition for Samhain.
This 2,500 year old Urkok princess was discovered in the Altai region of Siberia. She was covered in tattoos of mystical creatures, buried with six horses, outfitted with intricate harnesses and colorful felt saddles, and a pouch of marijuana. All of this and the care with which she was buried suggest she was a revered member of the community and most likely a Shaman.
When archeologists removed her body in 2019, they were warned by locals that removing her and disrupting the sacred burial site was bad luck. But the scientists, being skeptical as they generally are of anything spiritual, moved her anyway. It didn’t go well. The helicopter carrying her remains crashed and the Altai region began to suffer an increasing number of natural disasters.
To honor the ancestors, especially during this Samhain time, can bring blessings. To dishonor them….well, it’s just not a good idea. Especially, it seems, if they are Shaman.
Your heart generates an electromagnetic field that reaches several feet outside your physical body. People can feel you.
Yet again, science confirms what has been known through time. A knowing passed down through generations. A knowing that has been marginalized by people placing more faith in science than ancient wisdom. A knowing, like so many other knowings, that has been relegated to the tenuous realms of mystery and magic. And there is something magical in this, but it’s not magic.
Yesterday my husband commented on how quickly Declan responded to the cottage leak and then, when I was on the phone arranging for my car to be detailed, how the detailer ended our first ever conversation with, “Thanks for calling, friend.” My husband suggested that people must love working and talking with me because I have such good energy.
I do. And I’m very aware of the field I generate and the impact it has on others. Tradesmen respond to cottage concerns and people call me friend.
Physically, emotionally, and spiritually we are what we eat. What goes in is what goes out. One of the many amazing gifts of walking a spiritual path is the focus on energies like love, joy, peace, and harmony. That’s my preferred diet. When I was in Ireland I had no time for social media and the news. I didn’t eat any of it. And I know that my field holds the effect of that. I know people can feel that.
If this is magic, it is a magic we all have access to. It’s about what we choose for our spiritual and emotional diet. It’s about minding our heart rhythms and the energetic harmonies they create in our lives…and the lives of those we welcome into our field.
It’s never a good thing to wake up to an email that there’s a leak coming from the ceiling in a bedroom. Especially when that leak is 4,500 miles away. But that’s what happened this morning. I jumped on WhatsApp and contacted Declan. And then I jumped in the shower. By the time I was out of the shower and dressed, there was message waiting for me that the leak had been fixed.
Declan. My hero. Peace of mind that the web is working. And so quickly. Wow.
And while I nicked this image from the web, it actually rather looks like him. Nice.
It’s a bit challenging and even daunting to manage a house 4,500 miles and eight time zones away. Just can’t pop over to organize projects. So I’m extremely grateful that another rhythm in the harmony of Irish culture is that of relationships.
When we first purchased the cottage and the paperwork was all completed at the solicitors, the deal wasn’t done until we stood at the front door with the sellers, agreed again to the price, and slapped hands. The traditional way a deal was done. Face to face. It wasn’t about the paperwork, it was about the relationship. And that rhythm of relationship has saved my sanity.
The web of relationships started with the neighbors and expanded to the community of tradesmen when I was in Ireland a year ago September. I suppose I had made enough trips to the builder supply in Gort for paint, ladders, and tools to warrant a relationship with Marie. When I mentioned I was frustrated with the window and door vendors I had found on the internet she gave me the name of a local man who proved to be exactly what I was looking for. Great product. Good price. His estimate was what I paid down to the penny. And through building a relationship with David, I was totally confident that the windows and doors would be installed perfectly when I wasn’t there. And that is exactly what happened.
Then I mentioned to Marie that I was looking for a tradesman for a long list of cottage projects, many that would be done when I was back in the US. She again gave me a name and Tom has proven to be a life saver. And through Tom I found a plumber and a man to give last rites to the washing machine. Through a neighbor I found a woman to clean the cottage and tend the garden.
Of course they all know each other in this small community and there is something of an implicit accountability in working with a local web of service and trades people. Relationship. Trust the web and the web will deliver, mind the web and the web will mind you, is what I’ve learned. And so it does.
I was working to synchronize the timed heating system with the individual settings on the many radiators at the cottage. I thought perhaps a thermometer would help the cause and so asked neighbors and friends and tradesmen where I might buy one. They all looked at me like I had just flown in from another planet, which I suppose would include the US. I would find that thermometers are just not a thing over there. Why would I want one? Just step outside.
It seems everyone has their favorite weather forecasting source but no one puts much stock in them. Living with and relying on natural rhythms and forces has roots in the Irish heritage. Just step outside. Joe McGowan writes about this in Echoes Of A Savage Land. It was the 1950’s and rural Ireland was just beginning to be electrified.
The Meteorological Service was in its infancy then and many a man who listened to and acted on their advice had reason to rue his trust. Worse still, defective information gathered in this way and passed on to a trusting neighbour invited ridicule or worse. Willie was one of the first men in our village to get a radio and from that time forth assumed a new importance as an authority of the weather.
Willie’s next-door neighbour, Patrick, trusting the new technology, abandoned the old way of studying later and signs to predict the weather. Once when Patrick intended to ‘let out’ a field of hay to dry prior to ‘tramping’, Willie confidently advised him that the weather forecast was good. There would be no rain that day! Reassured, and with the sun warm on his back, Patrick went to work and shook out his field of hay. By noon, clouds had rolled in from the Atlantic, the sky became increasingly dark and before long the rain came dropping down. It increased to a downpour and continued all day.
Patrick, arriving home in a black humour and soaking wet from his attempt at haymaking, had strong words for Willie, believing that he had been led astray on purpose. They didn’t talk for years afterwards, and it was through experiences like this that we gradually came to know that the Met Service was no more reliable than the old ways.
Just step outside. It would be wonderful if we could again be able to read the signs and live the natural rhythms…that those natural rhythms would inform the rhythms of our lives.
And no, there is no thermometer at the cottage and I have no plans for one.
This morning my beloved husband announced he would need to do laundry before he could get dressed. In two hours he had the clothes he needed. In Ireland it takes almost three hours just to wash clothes in our new machine.
I was sitting in the kitchen of our Irish cottage one morning when a horrifically loud bang from the washing machine got my undivided attention. That night a man came over to give the machine last rites. Fourteen years was the life span and it was time to get a new one. There are more distant and perhaps less expensive options, but I chose to go into Gort to the only appliance store in the village as I prefer to give my custom to the locals.
In the small shop there weren’t many choices but since I am totally unfamiliar with European appliances I was happy to take the advice of Regina, the woman in charge. I purchased a machine she has and is very happy with. When I commented on the wifi symbol on the machine, she told me it’s very handy to be able to load the machine and turn it on when the weather looks good. Because in Ireland, where very few have clothes dryers, doing laundry is very weather dependent. It’s all about being in tune with the natural rhythms of nature. And there are guidelines for this. These rules excerpted from a blog post of An Irish American Mom, as she names herself, are beyond perfect.
RULES OF THE IRISH CLOTHESLINE
CHECK THE SKIES BEFORE EXPOSING YOUR WASH TO THE ELEMENTS My mother’s mother, and her mother’s mother, and the whole long line of mothers who have gone before me, were expert sky watchers. Weather watching is a long lost skill. My ancestors knew the exact shade of Irish grey which inevitably foretold rain. My Skibbereen granny would say – “Look to Mount Gabriel for rain.” When the mountain appearedclosest, rain was on the way. Or maybe it looked further away, when a downpour threatened. I wish I had paid better attention to her weather warnings.
The fresh and airy scent of sun dried clothing just off the clothesline is amazing. But let’s face it, a rain free spell is required. So only hang out the wash if a few dry hours are guaranteed.
DO NOT WASTE PINS OR PEGS Efficiency is key. Try to line the clothes up so that each item does not require two pegs, but instead each adjoining garment shares one peg with its neighbor. Now this may seem like a silly rule, but trust me, if rain is coming and getting those dry clothes off the line in double quick time is essential, then you’ll be extremely glad of your peg economy.
CLOTHES OFF THE LINE BY DINNER TIME Never leave your wash on the line overnight. Dark skies can bring any kind of weather, and who knows you might awaken to wet, soggy laundry in the morning. I don’t care what the weather lady says on the television. She’s wrong most of the time, and she has no clue when Ireland’s infamous scattered showers are going to scatter their love around the country.
And what happens if the rhythms of nature are misjudged and the rules aren’t followed? Damp clothes are then draped over every radiator in the house. It’s a dance. One I am now very familiar with. Ah…dancing with the rhythms of the natural world.
Yes. These last few posts have been a bit nostalgic and they reflect a longing for the wisdom of past knowing of how to be in right relationship with community. And I know the wisdom of this that is embedded in Irish heritage is not perfect nor perfectly applied today. But it does offer inspiration for those of us who hold an aspiration for a kinder and gentler energy to run through our communities that seem so much in the grip of anger and despair.
So I offer one more reflection from Joe McGowan.
We may look back on thatching and thatched houses with nostalgia, but how many who were part of that world would want to swap slate for thatch and return to the simpler way of life? Why do we regret losing something we don’t really want? Why do we long for a way of life we wouldn’t return to: an austerity that was sustained by penury, not by anyone’s wish for it to be so? What is it that attracts us to open fields, dangerous seas and rustic hearths, despite remembered toil and discomfort?
Perhaps we miss the intimacy of a society where neighbours depended on each other, needed each other. Unrelenting elements and never-ending work did not prevent the older generations from putting down sheaf, spade or bucket to exchange banter and conversation with a neighbour, or a stranger. Mechanisation of labour, automatic appliances and jet travel have not bought us more time. They have increased the pace, stolen the serenity.
An elderly neighbor, Gorgie McLoughlin, spoke to me one day of the lack of friendly contact in modern living. Neighbors who once stopped to chat when passing on foot or by ass and cart now waved from speeding cars. ‘Ah, I don’t know who they are half the time,’ he said wistfully. ‘They look to me like birds in cages flying by.’
Birds in cages we are indeed, in the cages of our own making.
The commerce of country life was more than just a trade of goods and services; it was an affirmation of friendship, an exchange of courtesies, a drawing together of the human strands of small communities.
Joe McGowan, Echoes Of A Savage Land
Joe McGowan has written many books about life in rural Ireland through the lens of his County Sligo homeland and history. Some reflections are those from his boyhood. Others are gathered from elders who have now passed from this life. He writes of a heritage that still lives in the people. A heritage I’m finding so present my cottage neighbors and community. Human strands. It’s all about the human strands.
I was walking in Coole Park when the phone rang. “An Post here. I’m here at your front door to deliver a package but there is no one home. What would you like me to do with your parcel?” We arranged for the parcel to be left inside the back door which I had left unlocked.
I was delighted, thinking about the times packages delivered to our house back in the States are left in the rain depending on the mood and busy schedule of the delivery driver.
I was surprised by the phone call. And then I remembered that these are the same postal workers who, when the covid lockdowns landed over here, lobbied their union to change the rules so they could check on vulnerable people on their route and even buy and deliver food to them.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all lived in a world where these courtesies were not uncommon? What if courtesy determined the schedule rather than the schedule determining courtesy?