They Didn’t See It Coming

Some called it an earthquake. Others a tsunami. It was indeed a force of nature. And those who thought they had a firm handle on Ireland’s political landscape didn’t see it coming.

Sinn Féin won the highest share of the vote in Ireland’s recent general election. The results are historically among the worst ever for the established parties. The late surge in support for Sinn Féin was so unexpected that the party failed to run enough candidates in the election to fully capitalize on its popularity.

The wave of voter support was a clear message. The current system of spending cuts and tax increases is broken. It’s time to end the oligarchy’s strangle hold.

At a time when fascist and oligarchic power is on the rise in the US and around the world, this wave of change is a message of hope and possibility. I pray that in our 2020 election, a wave of change will sweep across our country as well. Those focused on retaining their current political power and domination likely don’t see it coming. But we do.

A note for your consideration. I happen to like Pete Buttigieg. Yet whenever his name comes up in conversation someone will invariably wonder whether this country is ready for a gay President. Well. Ireland currently has a gay Prime Minister. His sexuality was not the issue when he was elected, nor is it an issue now. He will step down not because he’s married to a man but because the philosophies and practices of his party are no longer the will of the people.

Beannacht
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

The Goddess & The Groundhog

We are all pretty familiar with the legend of Punxsutawney Phil who emerges on February 2nd each year. If he sees his shadow, or perhaps the sea of reporters and cameras, he runs back to his burrow and winter will last six more weeks.

Less familiar, perhaps, is the legend of the Cailleach, the divine hag Goddess, who gathers firewood for the rest of winter on Imbolc. She makes sure the day is bright and sunny so she can gather plenty of firewood. And winter will continue. If the day holds foul weather, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.

The Goddess or the Groundhog? I’ll take the Cailleach. The weather in Ireland on the 2nd was warm and cloudy with rain in the east. Good to know when I pack for Ireland at the end of the month. 

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com 

Ancient Rhythms

Today is Imbolc. Yes, people have been posting Imbolc greetings for days because the calendar says it falls on February 1st, or about halfway between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox according to contemporary definitions. But today actually marks that exact mid point. For our ancestors, there was no ‘about’ about it. The sun shining down the passage ways of ancient megalithic chambers marked the exact day and time.

Like other Celtic/Irish festivals, trying to fix an exact date on the calendar is like trying to nail water to the wall. Can’t be done. These events, reflecting the movement of sun and moon cycles, are just too fluid. The problem is with our calendars.

Ancient peoples had no written calendar as we know it. They marked the passage of time and seasons through the movement of the sun, moon and stars. There was no month of February let alone 1st of February. These pre-Christian ceremonies and celebrations were only forced into our modern calendar configuration with the development of the Roman and Julian calendars beginning around 500BC. And with this, we began to lose our connection with the natural patterns and rhythms.

I was fascinated to see a message from my nephew this morning. An amazing young man who will graduate this year with a degree in aerospace technology. He was sharing the new website of the organization he currently works for, an organization with a mission of gathering data to help us better understand the Earth’s changing climate. I was further fascinated to read that one of their projects will improve the Moon as a calibration standard through taking measurements that will improve the calibration accuracy of the Moon, a stable calibration target. 

I’m a huge fan of my nephew and absolutely admire his passion for climate justice and his dedication to this project. But I had to smile, wondering what our ancestors would think of this. They were fluent in celestial calibrations and the rhythms of the Earth and sky and I think they would have been bemused by such a thing as a Moon calibration project. 

Ancient Rhythms. Perhaps less a matter of discovery and more a matter of remembering and re-membering.

Imbolc Blessings!
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Resting Rhythms

In kindergarten we had rest rugs. Naps. I never saw the point of them. Lying there pretending to be asleep but really just waiting for it to be over. Perhaps the adults needed the break more than we did. It wasn’t a great introduction to the concept of resting. A break in the action. But I was always more excited about the action. It’s taken me years to get comfortable with the concept of being rather than doing. Well, more comfortable. 

David Whyte writes that rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. It is the opportunity to step away from the mental constructs of doing and step into an integration of doing and being, an integration of body, mind, and spirit, a calibration with spiritual and universal energies. In winter, the Earth calls us to slow down, to rest and recalibrate. She calls us to the cave. 

During these last months of cave time, we stayed mostly here at MossTerra nestled in the forest. We didn’t participate at all in the holidays beyond our SolsticeFire celebration. We actually did many things but that doing was informed by what called to be done, not what we had planned. So while most people were giving and accumulating the stuff of gifts, we were called to fill bags and boxes of stuff for charity shops. While most people were spending Christmas eve and day together, I was painting the kitchen and dining room. While most people were celebrating the New Year, I was painting the laundry and utility room. It was exactly the flow that we were called to. And the ancestors kept telling me, “Yes, this is exactly what you need to be doing in this time. You are resting and getting ready.” Resting, clearing, and getting ready. One one level I hoped they would tell me what I was getting ready for but on every other level I know exactly. The messages are strong and clear.

As the Light is returning and Spring is arriving, I reflect back on this time and know that so much insight and wisdom arrived in that flow. While I was busy doing with paint brushes, the Universe was doing the recalibration, and quite happy to not have my mental gymnastics in the way. For it was a conversation of Soul and my job, it seems, was to keep my mind busy with cleaning and purging and painting while the narrative unfolded. 

Now, the energy is shifting with this coming season. Yet I will continue to weave the threads of resting rhythms into the fabric of my life. This conversation, this calibration, is a glorious dance for all seasons.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

I Said To My Soul

Emerging from the cave and reflecting on the profound depth of the experience this year. Surrendering to the rhythms of the season. Being…in a place of patience and waiting. Wandering liminal spaces. Weaving with spiritual, universal, and ancestral energies. Not ready for thought. Waiting for the darkness to become light and stillness to become dancing. Not entirely comfortable…but entirely right. 

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
TS Elliot

Now the light is rising and it’s time to dance. 

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

From The Wreckage

She was magnificent. And then. She wasn’t.

The Peter Iredale was a majestic four-masted steel barque sailing vessel. She ran aground on the north Oregon coast on October 25th, 1906. As I stood on the beach looking at her steel frame that has survived more than one hundred years, I couldn’t help but think about our nation.

We are floundering. We are running aground. Miraculously, no lives were lost on the Peter Iredale but in our shipwreck the loss of life – all life – is staggering. Will the structure of our democracy, of our country, of our values survive the wreckage of this time? What will we salvage from the wreckage?

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Call Yourself A Hag. I Dare You!

When I wrote the Crone book, A Call To Crone; Weaving Wisdom With Threads of Irish Heritage, I thought I was writing it for women around my age, sixty-eight, or older. However it seems that is not entirely true.

Just after it was printed, I got an email from a woman who had just purchased the book at Courtney Davis’ studio/art gallery and was hoping I might sign it when I was on the Hill of Tara for a workshop. I know this woman a bit. She’s in her forties. And my first reaction was, “You can’t buy the book! You’re not old enough.” It was just a harbinger of things to come.

Although I’m pretty clear that the Ireland journeys and workshops I offer are for elders, young women are constantly wanting to sign up. “I’m not old, but I’m an old soul. Does that count?” was one email I recently received. No, it doesn’t count. There is really no magic age for becoming Elder or Hag or Crone. But age implies life experiences and those are essential. Also essential is knowing that you are now in the final journey of your life, a journey that will end in death. This is not a place younger women stand, yet so many aspire to be Crone. And I am fascinated by those that truly believe all women have an inner Crone. No. They don’t. There may be seeds germinating, but these women have not begun to imagine, let alone cross, that threshold to the final journey.

I just watched a video in which a young woman, probably early forties, reads a poem, Call me a hag. I dare you! It’s long, much longer than the following few lines.

When I look at you
I see you turning into
Beauty, time, wisdom
And suffering overcome.
I see the woman I aspire to be
Endless spark of wit and fun.
You are a marvel of the universe
More beautiful every day.

If you can’t be put in a box
And refuse to comply
With how others tell you
You should live your own life
If you respect all of nature
And call it your friend
And think maybe this life isn’t where it all ends
Tell me, what is wrong with that?

No. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, as well intended as this piece might be, it feels condescending, like a pat on the head. A young woman’s myopic vision of what it means to be an Elder, Hag, and Crone. And unfortunately at this point in the piece the author moves from ‘you’ to ‘we’, claiming for herself the wisdom of the hag. Just NO!

And so once again I sit with the question, what’s going on that young women so aspire to be Crone and claim Elder wisdom? Why are they so anxious to name themselves Hag? Because they are not. They have not yet begun to step onto this journey of older age, often a rocky road. And thus the challenge.

Call yourself a hag. I dare you.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com