RUIN AND BEAUTY

DEENA METZGER'S BLOG

Category Archives: December 21 2012

The Ones Who Accompany Us to 2012

This is Day 16 before 12/21/2012.

I awakened this morning without dreaming except for a continuous image of a thick Modern Library book, entitled Change.   I felt the need to listen deeply to voices that are not my own nor human. I was reminded of the “Transmission Letter,” I wrote in May 1986. It circled the globe, passed from hand to hand by the original thirty-six recipients. In that letter, I spoke of a voice I heard while driving on the freeway some months after the death of my dearest friend that said, “You know, you are being asked to forgive those who were pulled out early, or who did not volunteer to be here to help with the necessary change or to bear witness to the end.”

I have been carrying the consciousness of that letter since that time, twenty-six years ago.  Now we are at an essential moment when everything is being asked of us for the future.  We either continue as we have and the descent into the on-going tragedy of human and non-human life will accelerate, or we will become those who are here to initiate the necessary changes and offerings so that we will not be called to bear witness to the end.

Guided by the 19 Ways to the 5th World, that were given to me and to the community, (see this Blog) I have understood that the mythic date of 12/21/2012 marks an opportunity for each of us and so for the planet.

In Topanga, we have been considering this date for several years and are gathering for three days to meet this moment.  I have written about this before, if not endlessly, and it is the focus of the Blog I started a few months ago, To Consider 2012, http://toconsider2012.wordpress.com/, on which this is also appended.

(Details are at the end of this posting. I offer them so that you don’t have to invent the wheel in order to create your own gathering, and so you can be accompanied, if from a distance, as you also observe this time in our global lives.)

As I mediated on the dream image this morning, I heard what felt like a call similar to the one that came to me in 1986, to listen, to step entirely out of my own personal concerns, even the concern to listen well, and to … “Begin writing!”

2012        As I began considering the aperture that this date, because of its mythic significance, has for us, I didn’t fully understand what is required or made possible. I admit, sixteen days from the very date itself, while I am writing this piece for and to the community, that I still don’t understand.  How can I or anyone understand?

2013        The date 2013 pops up on the page as if I am writing an outline, or Spirit is assuring me / us that there can be a future.  I am willing to be seen as a fool while I take note of what might be signs, rather than miss something.

I thought I was writing to the community that was preparing to gather, though I did not know what words would follow, and then realized I was also inviting you to read this.

***

We are going to spend three days together marking this opportunity to align with the heart of the universe.

The Kogi people, probably the last surviving pre-Columbian people on the planet, who have devoted their individual and tribal lives to sustaining the heart of the world, have advised us, relentlessly, since they decided to emerge from seclusion in the Sierra Nevada of Columbia, that the world is dying and we are responsible.

The Kogi came to me in a dream in 1999.  It was a true meeting.  They asked me what I would give in return for the possibilities for the planet that they wished to transmit.  I said I would give my life.

My friend, Victor Perera, had met with the Kogi through Alan Ereira. Ereira went through great ordeal to create the film, The Heart of the World.  Afterwards, he  wrote the book, The Elder Brother’s Warning, and then established the Tairona Heritage Trust,  http://www.taironatrust.org.

Victor is a protagonist in my latest novel, La Negra y Blanca, Fugue and Commentary.  He is now on the other side, and is, perhaps, guiding me, us, from there. In response to my dream, Victor said that the Kogi had always been able to communicate telepathically with the elders on the planet, but now the communications are blocked by all our activities. I was profoundly humbled by the dream meeting I had had and  have devoted myself, as best as I know how, accordingly.

In this moment as I am writing the above, not knowing what will appear next on the page, but continuing nevertheless, I remember that the Kogi have been, for several years since their first emergence into our world, calling together, partnering with the Indigenous, the Native People of this planet so they can learn from each other and live and act in concert. They certainly recognize that they are among the ones who know what has been violated, what must be healed and what are the intrinsic ways to accomplish this. If the original spirit and earth aligned wisdom can be restored then we will have a future.

I am trying to imagine the actual content, exchange and activity of their secret gatherings, secret from us, the perpetrators.  I am trying to imagine the specific ways they are meeting among themselves and with each other.

We must understand the gravity and urgency of such times that call the Kogi to dare to enter into our midst and run the risk of being blinded and contaminated by our distorted ways in order to gather with the Indigenous and to alert us to the fate of the heart of the world.

How would they sit, or gather, or meet on these three days with any of the Indigenous people they have already met?

Remembering the content of my true, if dream, meeting with the Kogi: they said, “Teach the pattern.  Put the forms in place.”

We understand that form is content and, therefore, if we continue to use and have allegiance to the old forms of our lives, if we adhere to the conventional assumptions and dominant culture, the content of what we do will not change no matter what is said, no matter the small activities we engage.

As many of you know, I have a real and profound relationship with one we call the Elephant Ambassador. So I am trying to imagine what the elephants, who I consider the wise ones on this planet, are demanding that we do to meet, observe, and change in these times  so that all life might be preserved and Creation restored.

What are the Kogi, the elephant, dolphin, whale, wolf (being slaughtered in this country as I write) eagle, lion people, what are rain, fire, wind, earth asking of us, demanding of us?  How are we each to use the sacred opportunity of these three days to meet them fully?

***

What is this date after all?  Why the fuss and urgency?  The ancient Maya identified a place in the Milky Way that was, for them, the place of birth and death.  Individual lives, tribal life and the cosmos were intrinsically connected to it.

– – And as it happens, the place they identified is the dark hole around which our solar system circles, is the dark hole from which the solar system and so all known life, all our lives emerged.

— And as it happens, our very sun, around which we circle, will be, with other planets,in a direct alignment with this dark hole, this place of birth and death, the heart of the universe, at 3:12 am on December 21st.   The light of the sun aligned with the dark at the center.

Or so it is said.

How will we meet the demand? How will we meet the Heart of the Universe?  How will we step out of our involvement and enchantment with the details of our own little lives, the bloody sacrificial altar to which we have been relentlessly bringing the earth, so as to meet this sacred challenge, the great possibility of our collective and community lives?

Everyone who is reading this is has been met by spirit and called to some awakening.  Perhaps you met Hurricane Sandy, heard the trees snap in the fierce wind and cold, or suffered the torrential rains.  Perhaps you are in the Midwest, wondering where the water will come from for your crops or are watching the Mississippi decline rapidly, aware that it may soon be unable  to transport goods along its length. Perhaps you have been a recent a victim of earthquake or landslide. Perhaps you have witnessed the recent forest fires and fire storms.  Maybe Gaia is speaking.  We cannot  continue to live as if the consequences of our behavior will not affect us or our families or the earth ?  Or perhaps, it is your family or beloveds who are being blown up or tortured now almost anywhere on the globe?

Apology.  I have misled us.  I didn’t know better.  My best thought, until this moment, has been that this date is about our shift in consciousness, yours and mine.  A radical shift in consciousness leading to living differently, entirely.  It is, certainly, about this, but not so much that our personal shift, insight, activity, takes the only focus. Not so much that we continue to focus upon the small things we will do to appease our fears or conscience.  Not so much that we want to decide in advance what we will do or not do on behalf of planetary and species survival.

This morning it seems to me that we are being called to another consciousness, not ours, but that which was connected with the earth in the beginning.  A consciousness that would never have developed the ideas and values that have led to the horrors that are afflicting all beings at this time.

Imagine this.  The Kogi, the Indigenous, the Animals, the Dead, the Ancestors, the Elementals, Gaia, Herself, will be entering our circles, temples, yurts, meeting rooms, will be literally behind us, invisible but present, insisting that we devote ourselves to meeting this moment.  Will we listen, hear, accept their call, instructions and guidance? How shall we be, who shall we become, in their presence?

This is the question we have been given to hold at the alignment with the Heart of World and the Universe.

***

What follows are some excerpts from our original announcement regarding the Topanga gathering  The schedule as we have imagined it until this moment is also included.  However, we yield in advance and entirely to the guidance and direction of Spirit as it is offered.

Happily, some of those who were going to join us for our small Daré are choosing, instead, to stay home and gather the community around them in resonance with us.  At the least, there will be parallel and aligned gatherings and ceremonies of one form or another in Seattle, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Connecticut, Texas, Philadelphia, Curaçao, Guatemala and, perhaps, Nashville. These are not open gatherings, but our hope is that you will find the means to be with Spirit, in solitude or gathered with us and with community, human and non-human, wherever you are living, in the ways you are led to for these days.

If there are any spaces, at the Topanga gathering, it is primarily because these other gatherings are manifesting.  Please contact us immediately if you  wish to  join us, Most importantly feel free to post open, aligned events on this page in the comment section.

***

Dare’ on Behalf of the Future

Here in Topanga, we have been thinking deeply about 2012 and have been for many years. This mythic, historic, astrological, astronomical moment calls us to step across fully into the heart and mind of the Fifth World so that each breath of our lives assures a viable future for all beings. The time of integrity is here. How do we meet it together?

12/21/2012 is the spirit centered, earth centered, heart centered, community centered moment that calls us to live, as the Dine’ say, according to the Beauty Way. Hozro. We have been together in so many ways over the years. We have been together considering the gravity and possibility of these times, holding fast to each other’s hearts. We have hoped to sustain the heart of creation and to contribute to a shift of consciousness that helps restore balance and beauty and creates sanctuary for all beings. Now 2012 is upon us. What do we want to create and how will we do it?

Preparing to do so in our own individual ways for so many years, shifting as we have into new lives with and among each other, these days call us to meet this great challenge together as a community. 2012 invites a new lived consciousness of human and non-human beings.  

The Dare’ 

  We are offering a three-day Dare’ from December 20th at noon through December 22nd at midnight.

December 20th     Deep Reckoning and Introspection.

Dedicated disengagement from the Fourth World.

December 21st      Alignment with the heart of the universe.

Transformation.

December 22nd     Invoking and honoring Spirit.

Meeting the land and yielding to the ways of the natural world.

Articulating the new ways.

Responsibility.

Entering the Fifth World through commitment to the Way. 

The Means 

Rounds of      Meditation, Prayer and Communion, Invocation, Silence, Solitude and Blessing. Meditation and Prayer on the Land and For the Land.

Council, Visioning, Dream telling, Story Telling and Divination.

Drumming, Music, Ritual, Ceremony and Camaraderie,

Solitude and Silence

Tending the Fire.

Offerings and Offering of Oneself to the Spirits, the Land and the Beings of the Land.

Tentative(!) Schedule

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 DEEP RECKONING AND INTROSPECTION

12 noon          Light Fire

Astrology Reading

Focus and Purpose

Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

1:30 pm          Council – Dedicated disengagement from what injures and destroys.

3:00 pm          Drumming Begins [ continuous drumming 12/20 3:30 pm to12/21

3:00 pm          Camaraderie

4:00 pm          Dream Telling

Story telling re difference between 4th and 5th worlds.

5:00 pm           Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer, Music

6:00 pm            Dinner

7:30 pm          Council – Intentions

9:00 pm            Journey and Visioning / Dream Telling / Story

10:30 pm         Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

11:00 pm          Supper

12:00 am          Begin Fast – for those who wish to fast

12:00 am          End but for Drumming

1:00 am            Begin four hour sacred drumming.

3:00 am           Group drumming to acknowledge the solstice moment

3:12 am           Under the Milky Way

3:30 am           Relight and rededicate fire.

5:00 am           End group drumming

Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 Alignment with the Heart of the Universe.  Transformation.

Fasting if desired

Drumming continues

10:00 am        Relight Fire

Align with Center of Galaxy

Focus.  19 Ways

Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

11:30 am        Dream, Story, Vision

12:30 pm        Council – Alignment

2:00 pm           Break Fast, Food and Camaraderie

2:45-3:45 pm   End Drumming together

until 4:30 pm   Continue Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

4:30 pm           Community Divinations

5:30 – 7 pm      Council – Offering oneself to transformation.

7 – 8:00 pm     Food and Camaraderie

8:00 pm           Journey and Visioning / Dream Telling / Story

9:30 pm          Council – How does a Community Cross into the 5th World?

to Midnight    Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012: Exploring and Articulating the New Ways. Responsibility. Entering the 5th World through Commitment to the Way.

10:00 am          Relight Fire

Retrospective – Where have we come?

Focus and Articulate Goals

Meditation, Ritual, Land, Prayer

11:30 am          Dream, Story, Vision

Reading the Signs

12:30-2:00 pm  Council – 5th World

2:00-3:30  pm   End Fast, Food and Camaraderie

3:30-4:30 pm    Music, Dance, Celebration

6:00 pm            Meditation

7:00 pm            Food and Camaraderie

8:00 pm            Council on the future of community and all beings.

10:00 pm           Drumming, Music, Community

* * * * *  

We are being called together to create the possibility to meet these times. We will do it as simply and cooperatively as possible. This has to be a small gathering. Our hope is that we will be able to be outside for much of the time, meditating on the land, sitting around the fire, using the outdoor kitchen for very simple food preparation and serving – reviving some of the most simple and old, old ways of community and communion. However, the indoor space is small, the weather unpredictable.  Parking is limited. When it rains, the land becomes virtually impassable.  We can expect to encounter just the right difficulties to help us transform. We hope to meet whatever arises with heart, great generosity and exquisite care for the land, our neighbors, each other and all the beings present.

2012 requires us to be simple, quiet, modest in our gathering and to take responsibilityfor ourselves, each other and the land.  It is asking us to create forms with light footprints. It is asking us to meet Spirit and the land more than it is asking us to meet each other.

We will set up four tents, one in each of the four directions, so that, no matter the weather, someone can be meditating for and listening to the land and the spirits throughout the gathering.

As the three-day Dare’ on Behalf of the Future approaches on Dec. 20-22, 2012, we find ourselves immersed in preparing ourselves both individually and as a community to mark this event.  We are asking what questions we carry for each other, what changes we are preparing to make, how we can serve the time.

We are imagining a progression of detaching from untenable lifestyles to resonance with the heart of the universe and then to stepping into the possibilities of new life for ourselves and all beings.  We are looking to see how we can each shift and how a community shifts as well to meet this time of difficulty and opportunity.  The schedule provides some framework to do this work and be in ceremony together.

Notes and Intentions 

Our core time marking the solstice alignment is from 1 am to 5 a.m. on the morning of  December 21, 2012 with the exact moment at 3:12 am PST. We will have a focused drumming session for that time. Ideally, we will also have continuous drumming from 3 pm on December 20th until 5 am December 21. This is dependent on who is here and what emerges as possible. It will be arranged according to what Spirit presents during our time together.

A sacred fire will be lit at the beginning of the event and will be kept burning until the end.  The fire will be renewed ritually at the beginning of each day.  It will be renewed again at 3:30 am on December 21.  People may volunteer to be fire keepers.

* * * * *

While the land in Topanga will be open to the community for these three days for ceremony, ritual, prayer, meditation, drumming, music, invocation, silence, tending the sacred fire and blessing, along with food and camaraderie, conversation and companionship, no one will be able to sleep over or camp on the land overnight. Everyone must arrange for their own housing for sleep and restoration.  Food contributions, soup, bread and rice, will be needed.

This Daré, will be one of great simplicity. As 2013 requires us to simplify our lives profoundly, these ritual days will be in keeping with that directive.

A question we will hold at each moment is:  How will we treat and take care of each other, human and non-human, and the earth in the 5th world?

Contributions/Dana are expected to support the cost of the event and, hopefully, to bring in a few elders and wisdom keepers who cannot afford to attend without having transportation and expenses paid for.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made through the 501(C)(3), Mandlovu at SEE, Social and Environmental entrepreneurs, 22231 Mulholland Hwy, Ste 209, Calabasas, CA 91302. (Tel: 818-225-9150, Fax: 818-225-9151). Or go to SEE’s website at https://p10.secure.hostingprod.com/@www.saveourplanet.org/ssl/Donate.html

***

Please note again, there are a few places left for the Topanga Daré 2012,so if you are hoping to attend,  please call Danelia Wild, 310-815-1060 or email her at dwild4deena@ca.rr.com immediately to receive the necessary information to attend, to make reservations and/or for questions.  No one admitted without reservations.

***

Peace, Hope and Blessings,

Mitakye Oyasin, All Our Relatios]ns

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JOURNEY TO THE STONES – MEETING THE SHAMAN BARDS

Let me tell you some stories.

In Ireland, that would be the voice of the Shaman Bard.  We don’t know if it is the shaman speaking as a poet storyteller or the poet is speaking as a shaman (healer, visionary diviner, historian, myth-teller, peacemaker); they are entirely intertwined and it has been so for thousands of years and was so when I was there this month.

On the last day in Ireland, we visited the stone circle, the largest in Western Europe, at Lough Gur that dates back at least 5000 years. A few miles away, ancient stones, also moss and lichen covered, comprise the Wedge tomb, where an old woman had lived for many years.  On a grass covered hill among hawthorn and oak trees, the stones serve as a threshold between the lake, Lough Gur, and the Grange Stone Circle, The Lios.

When the old woman died in the early 18th century, the roof stones were thrown off.  The money diggers who searched the tomb found only burned bones in an old jug.

It is said that there is a buried treasure, especially in the nearby extensive Knockadoon circle, which is guarded by a fire breathing mythic bull that no one has been able to subdue, so great is the fear that arises when the bull arises from the earth.

***

Earlier in the week, we went to a dolman, a small mound tomb in a farmer’s field on the Beara peninsula.  As such a tomb is ancient, and the cap stone or other times may have collapsed, you can sometimes still see that such a structure invited one to cross from this world to the other world as one moved through it and beyond.  In this instance we needed to climb over a ladder, descend along a small stream of rainwater, pass through the narrow entrance between two boulders and cross the field to a sacred tree and the small tomb.  KJ went first, striding across the wet grasses, before noticing the four bulls that were following her, before noting that she was wearing a red flannel jacket. When she turned around, she saw she had time only to scamper to the entrance between the stones, remove and hide her red shirt, then clamber to the roof in order to establish height.  The bulls, particularly, the black bull, were not daunted and remained guarding the tomb.

And so it was left to me and L to return to the road thirty feet above the grassland to see if we could locate the farmer to help us.  L. went ahead of me and I walked to a spot across from the dolman, leaned over the stone wall and called to the bulls, “Come here, my beauties, my beloveds, my lovelies.”

In the long history of Ireland, cattle are known to be sacred.  The river Boyne is the Goddess Boann, is the sacred cow, and is also the river of stars, the Milky Way of life and death whose center will meet all of us directly on December 21, 2012.

The shaman bards know the ways to work with or around the fire breathing bulls and to meet the holy ones with praise.  For centuries, they have been carrying the practice of crossing between the worlds, speaking across species, communicating with the holy ones:  “Come here, my beauties, my beloveds, my lovelies.”

My intuition proved correct.  The bulls, even the black one, turned and slowly grazed their way toward the cliff where I stood as KJ made her stealthy way back to the alleged safety of this world.  We met, woman and bulls, for a moment eye to eye, though separated by the hill wall, and then I also returned to the car.

***

Approaching any event, I am always alert for what is at the threshold.  In this instance, at the Wedge tomb, just hours before leaving Ireland, as we walked quietly toward the past and what wisdom we might glean for the future, we were assaulted by the reverberations of shotguns from a hidden glen across the road.  Reverence on our side of the road and gun shots on the other intermingled in a constant rhythm for as long as we were there.

Then we went to the Grange Circle itself.  This circle is one of many stone circles and mounds, Newgrange, Loch Crew, Knowth and Dowth, that seem to have been erected as giant calendars to mark the coming of sunlight and or moon light on the quarter days, solstices and equinoxes of the year.  The farmer who owns the land upon which the circle sits was not there this Sunday.  Still, we put coins in the rusted money box, its donation slot barely visible, as we went through the gate onto the site where the sun enters the passageway on Midsummer’s Eve.

It seems to me that I learn more standing in silence and wonder, while holding the question of what vision has driven people all over the world to exert what seem like more than human efforts to erect stone monuments honoring the light, than I understand when I engage with the various theories and our desire to know.

***

In the classic tale, the sojourner goes out into the unknown to bring back the useful insight for the beleaguered and suffering individuals and /or community.  More so, one hopes, at such a time.  Might the old ways, even the one as simple as making the journey, help as tradition asserts, they have in the past?  What are the true and potent medicines for a world whose life is at great risk?

It is only at this moment, as I try to convey something of what might matter for all of us, that I see the familiar stations of this journey, but most strikingly, the entry into the unknown and the ways the light, sunlight or moonlight, only briefly illuminates the darkness, one hour, perhaps, once a year, perhaps, if the clouds disperse.  If the clouds disperse…. But, that one moment is sufficient for one’s soul.

***

Because I was suddenly charged with leading a writing retreat, scheduled to visit ancient sites in the Boyne valley and the Beara peninsula, places I had never been, I had to offer myself entirely to whatever might occur.  Just days before I understood what was calling me, I had decided not to read or prepare for this trip.  But then, grievous circumstances required that I step forward on behalf of someone who had originally imagined and arranged the trip. We could not cancel the trip, she had said, adamantly, and I trusted that she understood this in ways I could not then.  The learning curve was steep, and ultimately, I was relying on John Matthews’ book Taliesen, the Last Celtic Shaman.  Taliesen and Amairgin the Bold, both shaman bards, became ever present guides.  They teach the ways to negotiate the passage between this world and the other world, between, past and future, human and other, dark and light, life and death.  We needed these teachings because, as with the gunshots at the threshold of Lough Crew, death surrounded us from the beginning to the end – the ordinary deaths of two old men, the unbearable tragedies of two violent suicides, the great loss that come from drowning.

We had come to honor and attend the great mounds, all seemingly both tombs and corridors of light.  And death surrounded us on the journey.  Death surrounded us at Lough Gur.  And death and violence surround all of us, in extraordinary measure, in what passes as the ordinary world.

Sometimes for us, the deaths were highly personal, sometimes they were simply in the air we were breathing.  For example, the workshop that was to follow our retreat at Anam Cara, was cancelled when the leader, Irish poet, John O’Leary, drowned.

XXVII. (from Sea, 2003 by John O’Leary)

To Do List:

1.            find dragon and slay

2.            exorcise cat

3.            prove conclusively the identity

of Beauty and Truth.

4.            watch, fast and pray

5.            sail Atlantic single-handed

6.            write name in water

7.            return Teach Yourself Waltzing Tape

8.            weep for Adonais and feel bad

9.            write her a letter telling her

you love her

10.            go out into the midnight

and check for new stars.[1]

***

When you walk a labyrinth of wild grasses to its center, as you can at Anam Cara, you are at the center of the middle world between the past and the future.  Turn 360 degrees to see the mountains and sea, the cattle and sheep, the cemetery on the hill and the cascades at the bottom of the meadow. It is from this place that you can ask the question that your soul is carrying or the question that the world’s soul requires us to address.  Turn again and retrace your footsteps listening deeply to the words that pass through your heart but which originate elsewhere, somewhere beyond yourself.

When people die, we gather in circles to tell stories.  Perhaps because the Irish seem to have such a profound relationship to the spirits of the dead, it is a country of storytellers, musicians and bards.

We approached the top of the legendary Hill of Tara.  Gerard Clarke, former director of the Hill of Tara, stopped us so that we would proceed with awareness and concentration.  When you cross this trench, he said, you are entering into the other world.  We paused.  Language we had heard again and again was about to become real.  We were, indeed, about to step across.  This is not a frivolous or fantasy activity.  There are many who strive to separate the worlds rather than allowing them to intermingle.  We learned that the stone barriers that had existed here were not to keep the enemy out; they were to keep the spirits in. If one dares to cross over with respect, one may receive great gifts.

On September 21, we left our lodgings at 5 am even though the sky was covered and it was raining.  It had rained every day since my arrival on the 17th and would continue to rain each day, except for one brilliant sunlit day Saturday October 5th. You never know, Gerard Clarke said, what the weather will be at Lough Crew, (forty-five minutes away) even though he had last seen the light enter the mound fifteen years ago.  As we approached, the center of the sky cleared but a broad band of clouds remained in the position of 6 to 9 o’clock and 3 to 6 o’clock at the eastern horizon.  We climbed the hill in the mist, a fierce wind blowing, the temperature dropping.  We were among the first of a small shivering band (and a few dogs) that had come with hopes of seeing the sunlight of the Equinox make its way, illuminating the carved stone walls of the mound.  We would not have been surprised if it began to snow.

There is only a small sacred interval through which the light enters.  7:15am to 8:30 am.  Then the possibility is over for a year.  We made our offerings and waited.  The wide band of dark clouds remained as wisps of mist began to waft over the other megaliths just below us.  The sun climbed steadily and for a brief moment paused at an eye in the clouds but not close enough to reach the great stones.  And then at 7:30 when we had almost lost hope, a thin ray of light began to make its way toward the entrance revealing the spiral carvings at the stone entrance.  Six by six we were admitted into the tunnel to see the shining spiral at the back wall that had been viewed at equinox after equinox for thousands of years.  A miracle and a sign of grace and the awesome presence of the Divine as it must have been for those who built this tomb against all odds, bringing the massive stones uphill, without the wheel, from miles and miles away,

***

At Tara out guide alerted us to the entryways between the roots of the great trees where the fairies, defeated and exiled from this world by Christianity, by the fearful and violent disbelievers in and enemies of wonder who began to colonize Ireland in the 400s C.E.  The shaman bards tell us that like the light, the wee people emerge for only one day on Samhain / Halloween.  This day, the beginning of the Celtic new year, is also the day totake stock, settle debts and decide upon future activities. A general armistice during this period allowed for meetings at the Hill of Tara between sworn enemies, made possible diplomacy and social activities beyond tribal and political boundaries.

We have been warring for so long.  We have been exiling the light for so long.  Yet, thankfully, it persists.  The sun and moon rise.  The clouds part.

The roles of the Shaman bards are complex and profound.  The poets and story tellers are also singers, musicians, healers, prophets and diviners. They know the elements.  They write and read the Ogham, the sacred alphabet of the trees.  They speak with the birds, animals, plants and stars.  They dream.  They read the signs. They know the history and genealogy of person and place.  They keep the rulers honest.  They know the land.  And even thought they are often warriors, they are also called upon to mediate between warring parties.  They are born and reborn and reborn again and again. They remember.

The old tradition of story telling is still intact in Ireland.  We didn’t fully expect to meet story tellers, to meet shaman bards, but we did.  We didn’t fully expect to find magic, vision, healing, stories, music alive in the old ways but we did.  Ireland, like other countries suffers conflict, the tension between Dublin and the loyalists and the on-going legacy of British colonization.  It suffers poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, and other modern ills like deforestation and environmental decline.  Ireland’s young people are living a diaspora again,  leaving the country as they have in the past in order to make a living.  A mother I met said, her grandfathers had gone to work in the mines in Butte, Montana and now her sons are leaving to work in the mines in Australia.  There is concern that the influx of laborers from other countries, particularly from Russian and central Europe during the ‘Tiger’ years of economic boom, may be a problem now that the economy is declining.  All the problems of contemporary Europe are here, but the antidote is that the spirits are present and recognized and that the storytellers, musicians and poets thrive; the vitality of these ancient traditions make all the differences.

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A story is told of the great Irish hero and wisdom carrier, Fionn Mac Cumhail, who was involved in great conflict and so was told, “he durst not remain in Ireland else he took to poetry.”  Poetry as strength and power that can protect and redeem a warrior.

Poetry the gift of the gods was sacred to the great goddess, Ceredwin of the cauldron, whose other faces are the Goddess Bride or Brigid and  Cailleach Beara or the Hag of Beara, who is also associated with stones and bones and who governs dreams and inner realities.  On one of her journeys, she dropped the stones she had gathered from her apron and they became the mountains.  Poetry, healing, peacemaking and smithery were sacred to Brigid as earth goddess and keeper of the eternal fire.  Saint Brigid, the disguised pagan goddess, kept these attributes and also took on the care of the poor.  Two sisters of the Brigidine order introduced us to the ways of their order, Solas Bhride, a Christian Center devoted which focuses on Saint Brigid and Celtic Spirituality.   We were taught how to make crosses, including the Mexican eye of god, out of rushes gathered by the streams.  Then we were taken to the holy wells where the sisters sang songs as we walked from stone to stone representing Brigid’s offices.

Brigid’s sacred fire/flame that had burned from pre-Christian times until the 16th century was re-kindled in 1993, in the Market Square, Kildare, at the opening of a justice and peace conference. The conference was entitled “Brigid: Prophetess, Earthwoman, Peacemaker.”

“How does the Church respond to your work?” We asked the sisters. “The Church is not enthused,” one answered, “but the Dalai Lama visited us.”

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Mary Maddison, a thin, delicate woman, 72 years old, has storytelling at her house one Saturday night each month and music one Thursday night.  We sit in a circle on old couches, over stuffed or straight back chairs, on pillows and stools in the small room called The Rambling House, that also houses her collection of sea shells, some gathered into the shapes of animals and other beings.  Here the young people and the older ones are invited to speak or play music when the stone talking piece passed from one to another reaches them. In another room are her landscape paintings and another room is full of stones and gems.  In this room, Mary Maddison, shaman bard, healer and story teller, puts our feet into bowls of agate then tells the stories of our lives and futures by reading the stones that remain attached to us when we lift our feet.  She has been doing this since she was a child.  She saw the stones on the feet of those who walked the pebbled beach.  “I had thought everyone read the stories,” she said,

She shows me the small house which will hold the crèche at Christmas time, the outside of which might have been decorated by Simon Rodia who created Watts Towers.  Then we enter the mediation room with a pyramid glass ceiling and chant and pray together.  We tell each other stories for hours.  Stories of the everyday miracles and magic that occur when one honors the spirits that create and sustain the world.  The rooster crows, the peacocks call, the crows fly overhead cawing.  A magnificent sunset turns the ever present clouds red, purple, orange, amber.  As twilight darkens, Mary speaks of the lights of the fairies that come forth in her garden at night.  I am in the presence of a true shaman bard and she is one of many, of the tribe of shaman bards in Ireland.

Writers in the US are not asked to assume the complex and committed roles of the shaman bard. To the contrary, we often feel divided and quartered by what appear to be the conflicting demands that the shaman bard reconciles. The call to solitude, for example, challenged by the call to community.  Writers are often criticized for being political and it is rarely assumed that the poet is called to keep the rulers honest while also speaking with the animals and the trees.  Revealing truth, bearing witness, devoting oneself to matters of conscience are not always compatible with the commercial interests that dominate publishing.  But these are the essential concerns for the shaman bard and how lucky we would be if we could reinstate and be faithful to the tradition.

The old old ways still survive in sacred places and among indigenous people and cultures all over the world.  They survive despite the relentless wars against them, against the land and the natural world, by religion, science, the military and the nation state.  The fate of the earth, the life of the world hangs in the balance.  This journey to Ireland convinces me that it is time, again, to call forth and inhabit  the shaman bards in all of us.  No matter the risk, it is time to tell the true and lyric stories of restoration of the old old ways, to tell our own experiences of our true spiritual lives and our stories of experiences within the natural world.  It is the time to fully honor the rare, slender rays of light that come forth from the clouds to illuminate the old carvings, the old wisdom contained in the stones patiently standing in circle, these thousand of years.

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