Yes. We Will.

In this Winter Solstice season we celebrate the Light. The returning Light and the Light we hold. However it’s hard to not see the incredible darkness that has settled over our country. And wonder how we will find the way forward. The way out of this dark place.

I question whether we can look to our leaders, even and perhaps especially democrats, to find our way. But we can look to the fundamental values we hold and to others who share our vision of what is possible. And I am reminded we can look to our Irish heritage. A heritage of a people who overcame subjugation and oppression and genocide. They never forgot who they were. May we never forget who we are.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

That’s Bob With One ‘O’

Long after dementia robbed him of so many memories, this one remained. The way he used to introduce himself. Dad was a brilliant man with a great sense of humor. Although Canadian by birth and US citizen by choice, it was his Irish heritage he most cherished. And within his rich legacy, inheriting his love of Ireland and all things Irish is what I most cherish.

Bob. Barley Bob. Bob with one ‘o’. He loved his name and as I continue to wander through boxes of family photos and slides I am reminded of another Bob memory that was important to Dad. 

While Dad was Dean of Science at WSU he had the opportunity to start an environmental sciences program in collaboration with the University of Idaho. Much of that initial funding came from Robert Redford. Dad used to delight in telling us how they used to phone each other. “Hey, Bob. Bob here,” was the beginning of each conversation regardless of who placed the call.

Whether fly-fishing or standing in a field of ripening barley, generally a strain he had developed, Dad had a love of the natural world and devoted much of his life to a deeper understanding of it. As I continue to walk with my spiritual guides and embrace their teachings of being in right relationship with the Sacred, with the Earth, and in Community, I appreciate that this connection with the Earth is yet another gift of Dad’s legacy.

So thanks, Bob with one ‘o’. I miss you. 

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Portals Lost

Dear friends. I do so appreciate your comments on my posts. But I need to let you know that future comments might be a bit more challenging. Over the last few months I’ve been getting as many as 200+ spam comments every day. Actually not comments related to any of my posts but more the nature of a chat room between people of many languages all with car insurance email addresses. It’s as if they were using my blog as a portal for communication among themselves. After extensive conversations with WordPress the only solution they could offer was to change my settings and disallow anyone not signed up through WordPress to comment. Well. It’s worked for closing that car insurance chat room portal. No more spam comments. But I fear it will also block your comments. And for that I apologize. I’m still exploring options, but for now this is the setting. So…although I know it’s not nearly as convenient, I invite your comments directly through my email.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Demanding Women

We don’t have their portraits but we have what they penned, if you can read the Old Irish text. And their purpose was clear. If women had control of all affairs it is certain that things would be more settled and peaceful than they are.

Ireland in the 1690s was a grim place. After being defeated by King William the Irish were plunged into a cultural darkness with the implementation of the draconian Penal Laws. The women of Ireland, fed up with the mess that men had plunged their world into, decided to seize political power themselves, set up their own parliament, and enact their own laws. They formed the Párliament na mBan, the Parliament of Women. They were used to having power and using it. It was their heritage.

The oldest surviving Celtic law system is the Irish Brehon Laws. Established in 714 BC, these laws gave more rights and protection to women than any other western law code at that time or since. It’s been suggested that with regard to women’s rights, Irish women are struggling to regain what was true for their ancesstresses fifteen hundred years ago. For the women of the Párliament na mBan this was their heritage and they demanded a rightful voice and place in the affairs of their country.

This past week thousands of our Israeli and Palestinian sisters came together in the Women Wage Peace movement to demand their voices be heard. In January of this year hundreds of thousands of women marched to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change.

As horrific atrocities continue to unfold in this country and around the world, we stand on the shoulders of our ancesstresses. We stand rooted in our heritage. We stand as demanding women.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

 

Spirit Speaking

Eenie meenie chili beanie, the spirits are about to speak.
Bullwinkle J. Moose
Are they friendly spirits?
Rocket J. Squirrel

Communicating with and within other dimensions and realms of reality is something I take very seriously. When I open the gates for connecting, perhaps in a sweat lodge or during a ceremony at one of Ireland’s megalithic sacred sites, I’m aware that it can be challenging to navigate the language of Spirit. It’s a fluency that can take some time and experience. It can be a challenge to know whether the messages are real. Or just a story.

In our longing for spiritual communion it’s so tempting to create those stories. We see a feather in our path, an eagle flying overhead, a unique cloud formation. Is it a message? Or is it just a feather, just a cloud? Hard to know. Well, there are ways to know, but as I mentioned it comes through the experience of spiritual connections.

We were standing at a holy well within the monastic ruins of Aghagower, paying tribute to the Sheela-Na-Gig mounted in the wall. I had wandered around the other side of the wall when I saw this lichen formation. I had to chuckle. Had we been in ceremony it might have been tempting for someone to create a story from it. There are times when Spirit is speaking. This wasn’t one of them.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

A Test Of Tea & Turf

“Ah sure, folks around here are pretty open minded,” Mick told me one day. He and Mary live just down the road and were keepers of the keys when we were first looking at the cottage. As such, they were the only ones with any information on the curious tribe that was now inhabiting the place. There’s an American. But she’s there only part time. There’s a local man who bought the place with the American but he doesn’t live there. And then there’s the young woman who does live there but is no relation to the other two. The neighbors may be open minded but they were also desperate for more information. 

We did have a house warming back in June. The place was filled with laughter and music and about thirty of our friends. But no neighbors save Mick and Mary. A young local man had died and the rest of the neighbors had gone to his funeral, for as is the way in Ireland when someone dies, life and plans stop to honor that person.

When I arrived in Ireland last month Mary was in her garden as I drove by and I stopped briefly to say hello. We agreed to have tea after I returned from the tour. But no date was set, at least by me. It was through Jack that I learned our tea was set for the Sunday before I headed back to the States. But no time was given. So I stopped in to see Mary, who was clearly in charge of this event, at the charity shop in Gort where she volunteers and learned the time was set for 3:00. I had become aware that there was a neighbor very interested in meeting me and seeing the cottage and so I suggested to Mary that we might invite Teresa. “Oh, I’ve already invited her,” Mary let me know. Aha. Well what about Anna, the woman who sold us the cottage? “Oh, I’ve invited her three times now but I don’t think she’ll be joining us.”

My first hosting of an Irish tea. Concerned that it would be a success, several friends counseled me about the requisite tea, milk, sugar, biscuits, scones, butter, jam, and Irish tea brack. The latter seems to be Ireland’s version of fruitcake but, except for raisins, without the fruit. And of course I would have a turf fire going.

We had a delightful afternoon as I listened to their many stories of the cottage. Both women had been frequent visitors and knew the family well. They seemed delighted by what we have done with the place. And were most anxious to share all they learned and saw with others. Teresa excused herself to go to the bathroom and while she was there got a phone call. She was excited to begin the sharing and didn’t realize that we could hear her from the living room. “Oh, no. She’s not Irish. She’s American. And very lovely.” Apparently there were misperceptions running through the neighborhood and Teresa was delighted to be putting people straight. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and we agreed that the next time I’m at the cottage we will arrange for another tea so more neighbors can drop by. Mary, of course, is in charge of that event.

Two days later when I was headed to the airport to catch my flight home Teresa was standing in the road at the foot of her lane waiting for a friend to collect her. I stopped to say hello and she said again what a lovely time she’d had and shared with me the many phone calls she’d made about our tea. Apparently I passed the test of tea and turf.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com