A Fairy-tale for NOW

Long ago, and far away, in the time before Time began, there was a beautiful lush-green valley hidden in the folds of a range of lofty, snow-capped mountains under a deep, blue sky. Think of it as being There, and we are Here. That was Then, and this is Now.

In that valley, resting below the mountain tops, is a peaceful Village. It isn’t sleepy though. In fact, it is far from sleepy, it is very active. The grown-ups in that village remember all they have been taught by their Teachers in the local school, at the centre of the village, near the Temple and make sure that their children learn what they have learned. The men and women of that village work hard, each according to their abilities, and their special individual gifts and skills are respected by their neighbours. In return for that respect, services are given and exchanged. The interlocking web of their lives moves smoothly in a cycle of birth, growing, harvesting and saving. Sometimes that wheel of life trundles peacefully along. Other times, the road of life is rough and the turning of the wheel is difficult. The villagers celebrate their joys and mourn their sorrows together, as One.

As we visit the Village today, the Sun is shining and the gentle breeze has a cold edge to it, carried down from the mountain snows. A little Girl, with a basket swinging on her arm, makes her way out to the fields to collect herbs and wild fruit for the family meal. As she works her way along the hedgerow surrounding the big field she is aware of the Spirit of Nature around her. She smiles at the little Robin who dropped down to check who is on his patch. Rustles in the undergrowth tell her that the other living creatures around her are busily going about their daily chores also.

So absorbed is she in her work, she does not notice the big, black Cloud gathering overhead until the Sun disappears and she feels the splashes of the first big drops of rain. Looking about her she recognises the old Oak tree in the middle of the field and runs to it. She is just in time. She stands panting next to the tree, with her basket on the ground next to her, and looking up sees the branches of the tree swaying hither and thither as the rain begins to pour down steadily. She settles down to wait for it to pass. She tastes some of her harvest. A few berries go nicely with the hazelnuts, she thinks. She waits for the rain to clear away. She waits. And waits.

Then she notices a Man plodding steadily along the road that lies beside the field. He is bent under the weight of the load of heavy boughs he is carrying and doesn’t see her until she calls out.

“Father, Father”.

The man stops and looks around. “Daughter, what are you doing there, out in the rain, you’ll get wet and we will worry about you”.

Looking thoughtfully at her Father the little Girl says: “But I’m not getting wet. I am quite dry.”

And then adds: “Why am I not getting wet, Father?”

Her Father, with a slight smile on his weathered face, says: “Oh, Daughter, you are always asking questions when the answers should be clear to you. Haven’t I already told you about your Grandfather’s grandfather. He and others from this village planted trees in this field so that they and their children and their children’s children to the ninth generation would reap the benefits in the times that were to come. He tended his tree carefully, watering it when it was dry and protecting it from the snows and ice of winter with the straw he had gathered. That is why that Tree stands proudly now in this field and protects you from the rain. You should be thankful to your grandfather and his children,” adding, with a chuckle, “including me, your Father. Now don’t delay, run home as soon as the shower goes.”

He picks up his load and he continues his journey. The little Girl looks thoughtfully about her, feeling the care and love of her Ancestors about her.

The rain lightens and the Sun struggles occasionally to peer through gaps in the Cloud. As the little Girl checks again so see if she might leave her shelter, she notices an Old Man coming down the road towards the field. He picks his way carefully between the puddles of water, using his long staff to balance himself. The little Girl recognises him as a Teacher.

She calls out: “Please, Sir, why am I not getting wet even though it’s raining?”

The Teacher stops, looks around and sees the little Girl under the tree. He think for a while, and then, in a gentle voice, says: “Why do you ask me, little Girl? Surely you can see that you are standing under a big tree and the wind and rain are coming from the other side of the tree. That means, the tree and its beautiful foliage, are blocking the rain from reaching you. Isn’t that simple, now?”

To which the little Girl replies, “Thank you, Teacher”. The Teacher carries on his way, carrying his learning lightly, and picking his way carefully.

The little Girl checks her basket and sees that she has collected enough to add to the dinner. Just as she was about to go to the road and run home, she thinks out loud: “Why, that’s strange, Father and the Teacher gave me different answers! How can there be two different answers to the same question?”

A puzzled frown comes over her face as she ponders.

“That’s easy, they forgot the third answer”.

She turns quickly but sees no one there. The wind blows, the branches above her sprinkle more rain. She looks around the back of the tree but sees nothing.

“You won’t find the third answer there, little Girl”.

Then she laughs out loud. “Oh, it’s you, great Oak. I thought you were sleeping”.

“I was”, replies a deep, resonous voice, and again raindrops fall as the Oak tosses its head with impatience. “I was, until you woke me up asking your questions.”

“Well, what is this third answer you mentioned, great Oak?”

The Tree lets out a deep sigh, and seems to relax a little as the Sun comes out again. The Robin hops by, twittering “just checking, just checking, don’t mind me” as it peeks worriedly under every leaf and twig.

“Little Girl, just think now. One answer you got depended upon Cuimhne, or Memory, upon things that happened in the Past. The second answer depended upon Léargas, or Analysis, of the things that are happening Now. Each of those answers gives a satisfactory answer to the same question and together they both help you understand what is happening. But the third answer is based upon Fís, or Vision, and completes the picture. Cuimhne, Léargas, agus Fís. Memory, Analysis, and Vision are required when you want to solve a problem. Never forget that. Now, away home with you. The rain has cleared and I wish to resume my thinking”. The little Girl, who is polite and never rude to grown-ups, at least not out loud, mutters to herself – “Resume your sleep, Old Friend”- and laughs!

She doesn’t need to wait for a reply for there is none, just a gently soughing of wind through the branches, or perhaps it is a gentle sigh. The Robin, hops past again, tut-tutting busily. She runs home to share the delicacies she has collected and to share her story with her family. The valley rests. The great mountains stand guard. The Wheel turns. Now.

A Greek hero bearing gifts should NOT be feared today!

Received this info earlier this morning:

“France Supports Greece in EU Debt Battle
Wall Street Journal
Feb. 1, 2015

PARIS—France expressed sympathy for the new Greek government’s hope of renegotiating the tough terms of its bailout, amid growing international calls for Germany to rethink its austerity-heavy approach to the debt crises in Greece and Europe.

French Finance Minister Michael Sapin said on Sunday that Greece needs a “new contract” with Europe, backing the demand of the Athens government, led by the left-wing Syriza party, to end the previous framework of Greece’s bailout program, which has become politically toxic in the heavily indebted nation. “

Events are moving quickly. Ireland, having been the first EU country to receive 50 lashes from the hit men and women of the Troika, must choose. Our Government has failed, and continues to fail, our fellow citizens in Europe, by playing “footsie” with the big guns in the EU, instead of standing up for those who are suffering much more than we did. Massive demonstrations took place over the week-end in Dublin and around the country, because of the callous introduction of additional charges for water supplies which are nothing less than turning our natural resources into commodities to make even more money for those who manipulate our puppet Government.

Also on Saturday, our Government on a tip-off from GCHQ in England, claimed that two Russian fighters had entered our air space. This alleged incident was being used again as a pretext for diverting atttention from what is really happening. “Caitlín Ní hUallacháin”, used for a long time to image Ireland as a beautiful woman, is now being trafficked as a whore for the powerful countries who are watching our people being bled dry. And for what? We took the first hit to bale out greedy bankers and financial gamblers in Germany and further afield. The same “European Snipers” are selecting additional targets. No more. THINK POSTERITY, NOT AUSTERITY!

I wrote this blog on Saturday before I heard about France intervening. President Putin of Russia has also advised the Greek people to strengthen their security for their leaders. We all need to be on our guard, because when rats are cornered they are dangerous. Our Government is on the run now due to the anger of the people being turned against them. We must escalate the protests and break the already fragile Coalition of a Right Wing Government that includes a once proud Labour Party which has sold out its principles for the sake of abusive power. Shame! Shame! Shame! Again, I appeal to my fellow citizens, THINK POSTERITY, NOT AUSTERITY. Forces of the Left in Europe must unite and reclaim l’Europe des Nations from those who would destroy what has been built over centuries, and for what will that noble Europe die? To repay the gamblers who played and lost but who now want to hold on to their seats at the table, and to continue their gambling at our expense.

If you agree with what I have outlined below, then please share it with your friends. We must counteract the lies being told. We must halt the damage being done. THINK POSTERITY, NOT AUSTERITY!


“Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” (Vergil’s “Aeneid”)

Publius Vergilius Maro was a Roman poet who lived a little over 2,000 years ago. In the past few days whilst thinking about the election results in Greece, the quotation above from Vergil’s writings came back to me from my schooldays when Latin was taught in our secondary schools. It’s strange how memory works. That quotation means “I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts” and came to me, when I read Yanis Varoufakis’ blog about his thoughts for the post-2008 world. But when I thought about it, the synchronicity and the symbolism that it evoked in me was even more startling.

The quotation relates to an episode at the end of the nine years war between the Greeks and the Trojans which was an important part of Greek mythology involving one person stealing another man’s wife and then all hell…

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Greek bearing gifts should NOT be feared today!

“Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” (Vergil’s “Aeneid”)

Publius Vergilius Maro was a Roman poet who lived a little over 2,000 years ago. In the past few days whilst thinking about the election results in Greece, the quotation above from Vergil’s writings came back to me from my schooldays when Latin was taught in our secondary schools. It’s strange how memory works. That quotation means “I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts” and came to me, when I read Yanis Varoufakis’ blog about his thoughts for the post-2008 world. But when I thought about it, the synchronicity and the symbolism that it evoked in me was even more startling.

The quotation relates to an episode at the end of the nine years war between the Greeks and the Trojans which was an important part of Greek mythology involving one person stealing another man’s wife and then all hell breaks loose. Not unlike any of our own mythological stories such the Red Branch Tales of Ulster, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and others. The war was over and the city of Troy had survived. Before the Greeks departed from the battle field, their leader was advised by one of his counsellors (a fortune teller really, with the same influence as our modern government advisors) to leave a gift for the Trojans. Now remember we are talking mythology here, so Gods talked and humans listened! (Which in some ways reminds me of the relationship between the Irish Governent and the people today but let’s leave that till later). On the advice of the Gods the Greeks left a massive wooden horse outside the gates of the city, probably with a note attached saying “Well done, lads, we lost this one, you can have this present to remind you of us.” Or something to that effect. Without going any further into the mythological details and boring you to death, let’s cut to the chase. The Trojans wheeled the wooden horse into their city, which the Greeks had failed to conquer, and had a wild party to celebrate. Unfortunately for them the horse set off a chain of events that led to the fall of the city. And no one was particularly happy afterwards.

If you have followed me so far, I congratulate you for your endurance and perspicacity. As you are now realising, we are in a similar situation today. For Troy, think EU, and for Trojan horse, think bail-out! The high priest of Troy had reacted violently to accepting the present from the Greeks and warned the citizens not to touch it, In Vergil’s words the high priest had said something along the lines of “don’t put your cotton-picken hands on that horse, because I don’t trust those guys even when they bring a gift”. Nobody took the advice and you know the rest. Today we have a modern Greek leader whose country has taken a pasting from the EU during the War of Austerity, but unlike the leaders before him, he is basically saying, “screw the presents, I want to talk to you about the mess you left us in. And we are not taking any more of this horse manure”. (see the connection now with the Trojan horse?) But he is bringing a kind of gift in the form of a new way of looking at the debt crisis in Europe. The people behind the walls who thought that the deal with the Greeks was done and dusted are now shocked to see what the Greek PM is doing. Worse still he is relatively young, good looking, smiling, and his people love him and are pinning their money on him. He does not really even have the “fail” option available to him.

Fast forward now, our attention switches to Ireland. Our Taoiseach is trying to measure up to the big powers in Europe and hopes to impress them by cheering them on and being nice to them, in the hope that they won’t send in their persuaders, the Troika, to beat him up again. In the meantime when he looks back at his countrymen, he finds the Irish revolting, in more ways than one as you probably know by now. So, what’s next. We know what the Government is planning to do, or so they keep telling us anyway. But what is this revolting mass of angry people going to do. Aye, there’s the rub. And that’s where my real narrative begins.

The time span within which we have to work is shortening. The pre-negotiation posturing of the EU and the hard line coming from Greece are factors that we have to bear in mind. Another is the upcoming elections in Spain. The third item is where does Ireland fit into this picture. We were the first to take the hit and were panicked into making a frightened and incoherent response to the bullying demands made by the Troika.

I fear that if we do nothing but sit on our hands and hope that we might benefit from the fall-out to come, then we are going to be even more vulnerable than we now are. If, as seems possible and perhaps even likely, the Spanish elections produce a similar result to that in Greece, we could then face the emergence of a Mediterranean alliance sucking in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and possibly Italy. That might so destabilise the Euro that it could no longer be maintained. We wouldn’t have a leg to stand on then, because we would count for nothing with the big guns of Europe, and even less with the other debt burdened countries because our Government is siding with the EU in scolding Greece!

On the other hand, if we could use our experience to date in dealing with austerity and trying to meet the demands of the Troika, to build bridges with Greece, Spain and Portugal, our collective strength might be used to good effect in forging a better deal and bring a more positive result to the negotiations. To do that, we must take a more balanced approach and be seen to side with Greece who are showing signs of having a well-reasoned brief for the negotiations.

The big obstacle to our ever achieving that is our present Government’s unwillingness to listen and change. That means that the current protests must be broadened and pushed more strongly with the intention of forcing a breakdown in the Coalition and bringing forward the general election. This then demonstrates clearly the necessity for a new alignment of political movements on the left in Ireland. Established parties and smaller interest groups must stop the insane and egotistical jockeying for position, and forge an alliance based upon consensus around a core of agreed principles and policies. Compromise is not an option, because it will not be possible to maintain an alliance under pressure. Consensus allows a safety valve for issues outside of the consensus to be responded to separately.

The online debating, questioning and examining of the issues encourages me to think that the impetus for change will come, and in fact, is already coming from the grassroots debate that is organically emerging. If that debate identifies and articulates clear principles that the people want from their government, that initiative will force political parties to respond rather than come asking for votes in the usual way based upon what they think the people should want! Unfortunately but with good reason, “politics” has become a dirty word in Ireland. Nevertheless, it is essential that as many people as possible are mobilised, not just in the protests, but in their social settings, at home, at work, to discuss with one another what they want for themselves, for their communities, for their children and their children’s children to the ninth generation, if necessary. The trading of votes for promises has failed us. The politicians are lothe to change their habits. The people must decide. And then inform the our representatives of our wishes through the ballot box as in a democratic society.

Lá Fhéile Bríde (Brigid’s Day)

Today is February 1. It was an important day for our Irish and Celtic ancestors. “Anois teacht an Earraigh, is an lá ag dul chun síne, Tar éis na Féile Bríde, ardóigh mé mo sheol”. “Now that Spring is come and the days grow longer, After the Feast of Brigid, I will hoist my sail”, Yes, friends, today is the Feast of Brigid, and in the calendar of our ancestors, it was the first official day of the New Year, the first day of Spring, after the cold Winter of privation, and the stocks of stored food were running low.

The image of Brigid in today’s Ireland is very much a conflation of two separate images. The dominant pubic image for many decades, even centuries, was the Christianised and sanitized one of a pious nun who founded a convent in Kildare and for some unexplained reason kept an eternal fire burning there. Murmurs that she may have been the daughter of a pagan (sic!) druid were just that, murmurs.

But those murmurs provide a link to the other Brigid, the triune Goddess of the Celtic world of linked tribes spread over Europe from the Anatolian plains of Turkey to the bogs below Belmullet in the West of Ireland. Brigid was worshipped in the form of a trinity of images, the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone (Maighdean, Máthair, Cailleach). In that guise she was the consort of the tribal leader who guided his people with her aid to sow, to cultivate, to reap and to harvest and repeat that cycle of life and living so central to the Celts and their spiritual beliefs. It was fundamental to their understanding of their links with the living world around them and to their belief in the sacred ties that bind us to our own places and to the spirits that inhabit them. In our druidic prayers we invite our ancestor spirits to come sit and warm themselves beside our fires and to whisper to us on the winds.

There is another aspect of Brigid too and I would like to draw your attention to it after the successful protests throughout Ireland yesterday. Every parish in Ireland has its sacred well, even wells, which are associated with Brigid. Tobair Bhríde, or Brigid’s Wells. Those wells were sacred to the Irish people long before Christianity was brought here. And even now, despite the Christianisation of the practice, many people still honour the Goddess when they make a visit to those wells, seeking solace and healing. As I watched the marches in different parts of the country yesterday, I began to think of them as linking today’s expressions and demands for water as a human right and not a commodity to be traded like rags at a market, but rather as highlighting our links to an ancient tribal heritage and human rights that go to the heart of our democracy. The four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water were at the heart of the cultures that formed and built our understanding of democratic ideals. And that is the other link I wish to emphasise even at the expense of repeating a point that I have made already in other discussion threads.

Ireland’s Celtic heritage and more specifically its Gaelic traditions is one of the oldest living connections we have with Europe. It is almost 2,000 years since Irish scholars and scribes learned the art of writing from Greek and Roman sources and together with those civilisations formed a triad that brought written literature to Europe and preserved the knowledge and learning of Europe through the Dark Ages. I feel very strongly that we have unwittingly slipped again into a Dark Age where we are witnessing “the beating down of great men, and great art beaten down” by the new Barbarians who worship only money and wealth and seek to destroy every connection with the Cosmic Spirit which like a hologram is present in every part of our cosmos. As above, so below. As within, so without.

That is why today, as we celebrate the Feast of Brigid and remember her as a Goddess of Three, I am also celebrating a heritage that has an important contribution to make as we address the complex problems ranging from an unacceptable additional layer of taxation in the form of water charges to the broader issues facing Europe. Some people scoff and say, what have we, in Ireland, in common with Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal? They will only drag us back into austerity. That view is mistaken. We no longer use the Great Atlantic Western Waterway from the Orkneys to the Mediterranean because the forests of Europe have been destroyed. But we still have a shared and ancient tradition of European culture and endeavour. We need that again as we face the Barbarians who are at the gate. I treasure the words of Samuel Becket: “I can’t go on. I must go on. I will go on”.

“Muscail do mhisneach, a Bhanba” (Awaken you courage, Ireland)