The Observatory, a Meditation

You’re walking up the mountain. You’ve passed the tree line and keep on going, taking occasional rest breaks as it can be hard to catch your breath up here. You tread on a red crunchy soil. After a while you realize there’s a large round building near the top. At first, you thought it was a cloud.

 

You’re much higher than you had realized as you turn and see the land you’ve walked through unfurling far below.

 

You turn back, taking in the sight of the domed building above you. There is a door ahead of you. The building is high but it is only when you enter that you realize that it is huge. Somehow the interior space seems to have grown. A matter of perspective, they say.

 

There is a long open staircase made of metal, which you can climb up to a ring of galleries. Alternatively, you might find an elevator to take you up.

 

You may find a guide here, or perhaps not. What is up there are a long series of windows (there may be as many as 70*). Through these windows you can look out onto many, many views. But sometimes they only give onto white, thick cloud banks, fogs. Look carefully. You may be able to see into the years ahead. Into possibilities, those that may be important for you and your community. Or into the Otherworld. The colors are liminal. Concentrate on them. Surrender. Can you step onto the clouds? Or see new constellations? With practice you can read them. The starlight can be intense. It can enter your cells. The atmosphere is thin.

 

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Above this, in the center of the dome is an aperture. You can’t easily approach this but be aware it is there. It is possible a god may descend from there or maybe pop up through one of the hatches.

 

You can come to this tower when you really want to know something. You may not like what you see. Maybe it will be life changing, when life becomes insurmountable below. You may see things that better helps you navigate in the turbulence ahead.

 

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*I mention this number because Merlin had an observatory with 70 windows and 70 doors as related in the Vita Merlini (Life of Merlin) by Geoffrey of Monmouth. The architect was his sister Ganieda. Unlike this one, their observatory was built in the woods. But this is just extra information.

The Silversword Alliance

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The silversword plants (Argyroxiphium) grow around 9000 feet up on the island. Their leaves reflect. (Photo from Wikipedia). Fencing is to protect from invasive goats which have demolished their populations.

What follows is a poem full of personal gnosis.

 

The Silversword Alliance

 

the swords flash silver

in the mountain’s life,

the sun rose over the heads

of the many lost below

 

but here we raise the blades

of allegiance to the Cloud Lord,

an archaic league remade,

held high for the future.

 

where the sanctuary reigns

high like an eagle’s aerie

in the narrow valley we train

below the red house wary

 

the plants flash in the ash soil,

the alliance in mirrored din

reflects over world’s turmoil.

 

Sword_of_Nuada

Sword of Nuadha.

 

Some New Publications

I’ve got an essay on filidecht “The Well, the Sea, the Dead: the Poet in Irish Lore” in the latest issue of Air n-Aithesc, Volume 4, Issue 2. http://ciannai2.wixsite.com/air-n-aithesc

And a poem: “Fleet as Deer” for Flidais.

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I’ve also got some poems in the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina book,

Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus:

“A Grammar for Aphrodite”, “Venus and Felix Roma”, “Eros Unloosed”, and Hermes’ and Aphrodite’s Child”.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Roses-Devotional-Aphrodite-Venus/dp/1973810816/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501828200&sr=1-3&keywords=Blood+and+Roses

 

 

 

And a new post over at paganbloggers: Slipping Out Into the Mythic:

http://paganbloggers.com/blog/2017/07/29/slipping-out-into-the-mythic-by-finnchuill/

 

 

 

And happy Lughnasadh–and Imbolc for southern readers!

Sea Whispers

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When I found this staircase into the sea, I thought what a good place to offer to Manannán. So I came back on St. John’ Eve and ‘paid rent’. The water was lukewarm and murky. Perhaps you can tell.

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A few days before on solstice I did a ritual invoking of Nechtan’s well. I had recently found out (thanks to Brian Walsh) about St. Nechtan’s day, observed on the 19th. I was a day or two late but it was the summer solstice. At a tidal pool walled by black lava on the northern coast forming a large cauldron, I first plucked out litter–even these remote islands have lots of plastic floating in these days. I made offering to the spirits of place, and then offered water to the well, calling on Nechtan. IMG_0479.jpg

An excellent place to chant: am fuaim mara…..

The ocean is wild and fierce here!

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How the waves laugh

the memory of death lingers

told in the wind

 

the sea giveth

the sea taketh away

it will again

the bells of Lyonnaise

travel through world’s ocean

 

the sound of the sea

resounds in my cochlea

the most beautiful herb

a border

 

the face of the deep

waits in the black

still waters

far below the whale

and the dugong

 

Somewhere a meadow

with read & white mushrooms

speckled, a dappled

horse, waiting

for a rider on

an otherworld isle

 

–will you join me?

she whispers.

 

Written under the ironwoods, June 20th.

In 1946 a tsunami took out a village here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Towers: A Satire

These are times for satires. Here’s mine. Some of you might perceive an echo of a famous prophetic poem here, among other things. In Celtic lore, satires really do have venom.

 

Towers: A Satire

 

it rose obscenely pink

like a plucked turkey neck,

then it rose more,

slathered and viscous, not from

primeval slime but

from a polluted swamp.

 

it rose, its towers flung

upward into the heaven of circuitry

into money’s pure domain, where it was

sly at manipulating the currents.

forgetful of its place of emergence,

wiped clean of all traces of roots,

leaves, humus in a sterilizing chamber,

simultaneously calcified and virtualized it was.

 

it turned itself into sign

in the eddies of the monetary,

yet, its towers slipped having

lost their foundation, the muck and mire

from which they had emerged,

the fecund perennial glut and rut

of hordes of teeming soil, oblivious

it was to the seismic twisting of restless serpents,

slipping their fetters far beneath,

the lands and waters

growing ever more active.

rapturous with its penetration

of heaven, the phallic thing

now orange and lurid, smirked,

unaware of the scythed ones,

the raven-clawed ones, and

the red-mouthed ones rising in

fury, their cries echoed

by the shadows of the dead—shrieks

shivering the forgotten foundations

of the network of fruiting bodies

now turned putrid, purple flecked,

and blackening with rot.

 

the millennium tilted as

they threw down

sheets of blood, and

cursed with mists of confusion,

their cups of blood emptied.

the scythed ones

with a flick of wrists unseen

slice the lurid orange things.

 

falling back,

falling back

falling down

down down

 

the hitherto weightless circuits

drift down in ashy precipitate,

mad mangled metal work

and tarantellas of glass.

against the tower

a fortress wall of storm

strong as white steel glowers

over this spectacle.

the unleashed torrents lash

a bare fortress now,

crumbling, naked, defenses failing—

the high places that cannot endure

before the packs of wolves, the terrible storm birds,

the outlaws of the woods, the

reivers, the revenants, the enchanters.

 

a ghastly scene lit by

artillery of lightning reveals

corpses bobbing in the wash.

as floodtide washes away the wreck

a rainbow breaks and I see

an old lady with a basket of mushrooms grinning,

making her way through the salvage.

 

 

 

Filidecht Resources

Here are some useful resources.

Breatnach, Liam. “The Caldron of Poesy”. Eriu 32. 1981.

Calder, George. Auraicept na n-Eces: the Scholar’s Primer.https://archive.org/details/auraiceptnancess00calder

Carey, John. “The Waters of Vision and the Gods of Skill”. Art and the Sacred Kairos and the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture. 23 March, 1991. Santa Fe.

Carney, James. Medieval Irish Lyrics with The Irish Bardic Poet.

Chadwick, Nora. Poetry and Prophecy. Good worldwide survey form 1952 (but does contain some racist/colonialist attitudes prevalent in that era).

—, Chadwick. “Imbas forosnai”. Scottish Gaelic Studies, 1935.

Corkery, Daniel. The Hidden Ireland.

Ford, Patrick. “The Blind, the Dumb, and the Ugly”. Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 19.

Guyonvarc’h, Christian J. The Making of a Druid: The Hidden Teachings from The Colloquy of Two Sages (the text with annotations).

Heaney, Seamus. Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish. Irish poet’s translation of        Suibhne Geilt, the poetry of “mad Sweeney’, a glimpse into the world of a geilt, outsider poet living in the woods.

Henry, P. L. “The Caldron of Poesy”. Studia Celtica 14/15. 1979/80.

Jones, Mary. Jones Celtic Encyclopedia. 1998-2015. Web.

Laurie, Erynn Rowan. The Well of Five Streams (contains her Cauldron of Poesy article).

Minahane, John. The Christian Druids: on the filid or philosopher-poets of Ireland.

Nagy, Nagy, Joseph Falaky. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition. Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California Press, 1985. The Fenian outsider warriors were poets too.

Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí The Sacred Isle. A crucial book for understanding pre-Christian practices and believes in Ireland by an Irish Celticist.

Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Myth, Legend and Romance: An Encyclopaedia of Irish Folk Tradition. London: Ryan, 1990.

Ó Tuathail, Sean. The Excellence of Ancient Word: Druid Rhetorics from Ancient Irish Tales. Idiosyncratic modern practitioner’s take is worth a read.

Patterson, Nerys. Cattle Lords and Clansmen: The Social Structure of Early Ireland. The historical background.

Skelton, Robin. Samhain and other poems in Irish Metres of the Eighth to the Sixteenth Centuries. Contains an appendix with the different traditional meters.

Thompson, Christopher Scott. A God Who Makes Fire: the Bardic Mysticism of Amergin. A recommended practitioner’s handbook.