February 15, 2022
I called my bank to have them put a notification on my debit card that I would be in Ireland. When she asked about international travel I mentioned that I felt safer in Ireland than here, citing that 90% of adults are fully vaccinated and that the Irish followed the protocols of wearing masks, social distancing, and even a series of lockdowns which limited travel to 2km from home. There was a pause. And she said, “Well, clearly the Irish aren’t a free people.” I was glad we were on the phone so she didn’t see my reaction.
The Irish have been a subjugated people through history, mostly by the English, but if we think beyond political freedom they have always been a free people. They have continually claimed the right and freedom to create their own narrative for living in right relationship with the sacred, the Earth, and in community. The pandemic is just another example.
The narrative of these right relationships is cultural. It’s embedded in their collective consciousness, their myths and legends and their heritage. Many examples come to mind but I will highlight two – the Brehon Laws and the mythic Cauldron of Plenty.
The Brehon Laws, Ireland’s ancient civil code, are rooted in the knowing that everyone has value. Everyone has an honor price. This extends beyond people to the natural world but for people it means that every person in the community is to be treated with respect and compassion. There were no police to enforce these laws, it wasn’t necessary. The people honored and acted on this code because it was their civil law and civic responsibility. The Irish complied with the pandemic restrictions out of concern for their families, neighbors, and community.
The Cauldron of Plenty was one of four sacred gifts brought by the Tuatha Dé when they arrived with their spiritual wisdom tradition. The cauldron could supply an inexhaustible supply of food and those who ate from it never left unsatisfied. The people would be fed. I wrote a post early on during the pandemic about Ireland’s postal workers successfully petitioning their union to allow them to purchase and deliver food to people on their routes. The people would be fed.
That the people will always be honored and cared for is rooted in Irish culture, rooted in their ancient civil codes and cauldron myths and implicit in who they are and have been as a people. While it may not be explicitly talked about, it’s a knowing that guides their perspectives and actions. It’s a knowing that offers the freedom to create their personal and social narratives within a shared heritage and aligned with their shared values.
What might the world be like if we all heeded the counsel of a cauldron?