Sunday, October 4, 2015

A New Book: The Well of Five Streams

While it has been a couple of years since I updated this blog, that doesn't mean nothing has been happening here in Italy. I've published several times, written a blog about my Italian life, done a fair bit of traveling, and will be attending the Parliament of the World's Religions to speak on a panel about reconstructionist Paganisms in a couple of weeks. I'll be in Salt Lake City, Utah, able to see a number of my friends. I will probably be speaking for no more than ten minutes at most, given the number of people on the panel and the amount of time available. Still, I'm very much looking forward to the opportunity to attend, and to learn from the others who will be there.

What I want to talk about here, though, is my new book. The Well of Five Streams is a collection of all my various essays, articles, interviews, reviews, and other items from most of the last twenty years. Many of my friends and readers have wanted my work in a more easily accessible format. A lot of these pieces have been published in books that are now out of print, or that are not easily accessible. One essay, Queering the Flame: Brigit, Flamekeeping, and Gender in Celtic Reconstructionist Communities, is new and has never been published elsewhere. I hope you will have a look, and that you'll find it interesting and useful!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An immense change

As those of you who follow me elsewhere are probably aware, early this year I started having to deal with a severe case of dizziness that left me unable to drive anymore. Over the course of several months, I've had to sell my car, start the process of selling my condo, sell about half of my library, and make other large changes in my life in order to relocate to a place where I could walk to things and where public transit would be actually useable. During this process, I decided that, all things being as they are, I would try to move to Italy.

You may wonder why Italy, given my attachment to things Celtic.

A primary deciding factor is the fact that my brother lives there and has for years. He's got his permanent residence and could help a great deal with getting my visa application approved by sending me a formal invitation to come live in the country. Although the process took several months, and a great deal of paperwork, yesterday I received my residence visa from the Italian consulate in San Francisco. The process from my meeting with them to receiving my visa was less than a week, which was shockingly fast considering everything I'd been told.

Secondary factors included the fact that European cities in general have walkable city centers, and that public transit overall tends to be better over there in terms of availability. The north of Italy will allow me to visit so many of my overseas friends that I've been corresponding with for years and have not yet met, and to see those I visited last summer more often. The food is wonderful, the Italians I met were very friendly, and the country is beautiful. It seemed to me that it was worth at least taking a chance on; if my visa had been denied I would simply have moved back to Seattle to a neighborhood that I really love, and where transit is reasonably good.

I spent a lot of time since March, when the dizziness hit in earnest, trying to sort out my life's priorities. Writing is important to me and will continue to be so. I definitely still intend to write the Brigid and flamekeeping book, though when the dizziness first came on, I was unable to focus enough to even read a few pages, much less write anything that required research and discernment. It has taken some concerted effort on my part to regain that focus and be able to put words together on the page again, but I'm back to a place where I can do it. What's standing in my way right now is an international move but, once I'm settled in my own place again, I'll start getting back into my writing and publishing.

Working on learning Italian has been rather easier than the challenge that Irish has always presented to me. I'm still working on Irish but for the moment the Italian is more pressing simply due to the fact that I'll have to be speaking it in order to get along once I get there and build a new life for myself. I'm hoping to meet other Pagans once I get to Italy and to find community there in whatever city I settle in, though I know that will take time.

This won't be the first time I've moved thousands of miles. I was born and raised in New England, and the Navy took me to Hawaii and the west coast, but this is orders of magnitude different in terms of adjusting to a new culture. I will make mistakes. I'll look like an idiot. I'll be entirely obviously American. There's nothing to be done for any of that, so I'm going to try to roll with it all. And I'm going to try to reestablish a spiritual practice in an entirely different land on the other side of the planet from a place I've considered home since I stepped off a plane onto the tarmac at SeaTac airport in late October, 1980.

I'm going to miss people. I'm going to miss my friends and my community. I'm going to miss the land here on the Salish Sea. I haven't really written a lot about my process through all this because I wasn't absolutely certain until yesterday that this was genuinely going to happen.

Yet I will carry my gods and my spirits with me. Like any other immigrant, I am going to end up a mix of my old life and my new one, of my birth culture and the one I hope to integrate into.

On December 12th, I'm going to step onto a plane in Seattle and into a new part of my life. I'll be back for visits, but my intention is to live over there permanently, unless things go very badly for me. Aside from a trip back in early 2014 for a couple of weeks to have my belongings shipped and pick up my dog, I probably won't be back next year, but I anticipate coming back to the US once or twice a year from 2015, given how much there is here for me.

It's going to be a test of my ability to find community, as a very introverted person who still loves having a social life. I'll be starting with the very large disadvantages of a language barrier, knowing nearly no one, and not being able to drive myself anywhere. I'll admit up front that this is a scary prospect. It can be hard enough for me to talk with someone I don't know in English, much less trying to open my mouth in a language I know I'm going to slaughter for quite some time. It's going to be an exercise in letting go and allowing things to happen as they will. And immigrants from time immemorial have had most of these same challenges - language, community, transportation. My own ancestors left their homelands to come to the US, leaving their languages behind and taking a chance to live in a new place and build new communities for themselves. They persevered, they dealt with the challenges, and they made lives for themselves. I have the great advantage of instant international communication to support me, a thing they never had. I will be able to stay in easy touch with friends and family and community here and globally, as I have from the chair I'm sitting in right now for many years. When I'm lonely, there will be someone to reach out to who does speak my language. I'll have my brother nearby who can help me negotiate a culture that he's integrated into over the years he's been in Italy. And I'll have the gods and spirits to turn to as I learn a new place and a new way of being.

Although I don't put stock in fortune cookies, when I opened one yesterday, it said "traveling to a new place will lead to a great transformation."

I'm eager to see what transformations arise from this concatenation of circumstances.

Once I am a little settled in over there, I'll post here again. For the moment, things here will be quiet because I need to focus on other things until I've arrived in Italy and got my feet under me. I'll be thinking of you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On poetry and my life

Earlier this year, rather out of the blue, I entered a literary competition. It was very last minute; the Lambda Literary Awards were close and (as with too many years in the past) there was very little entered by or about bisexuals. With this all-too-common result in mind, Sheela Lambert of Bi-Net USA proposed a Bisexual Book Award, to be given annually to bi authors or to authors writing on bi topics or about bi characters. I sent my book, Fireflies at Absolute Zero, to her in New York and was asked if I could come out to NYC as a finalist for the competition and to read at Bi-Lines VI.

I had originally planned to drive out to New York for the Wellspring festival in late May, but in March I was hit with a severe dizziness that made it impossible for me to drive. I had some isolated incidents in January and February (including during my drives down to and back from PantheaCon), and this caused me to have to cancel my trip out east. This, however, gave me an opportunity to go to New York City and to read at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe - a very famous venue and one of the places where the slam poetry scene got its start. I was glad for the opportunity, as I'd never visited NYC before, and I had friends in the city I wanted to see.

On June 2nd, I won the Bisexual Book Awards prize for poetry for Fireflies at Absolute Zero, taking the stage and reading a few of my poems along with many other writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I was delighted to be given the award.

My life since then continues to be affected by the dizziness. I was forced to sell my car a couple of weeks ago and am in the process of trying to sell my condo and move, at least temporarily, to Seattle. My ultimate destination is Italy, if I'm granted a visa. My brother lives there. My most compelling reasons for going (aside from the fact that it's Italy, and the food and the country itself are fantastic) are that European cities are, as a rule, much more walkable than American cities, and that public transit there is orders of magnitude better. These are both things that I need if I'm going to live without a car.

As this has been taking up most of my time and energy of late, writing has fallen by the wayside, but despite this I have an essay coming out in Lupa's anthology Engaging the Spirit World, on animism in Gaelic traditions. The essay was accepted a couple of years ago, but Lupa's taking a graduate degree put her writing and anthologizing on hold until that was taken care of.

This morning, a further publication opportunity arrived in my email. I was contacted by Jerome Rothenberg, who will likely be best known by my readers as the editor of the poetry anthology Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. He's asked to publish my translation of the Cauldron of Poesy poem. I would be delighted to be published in one of his anthologies, and we are going to talk details when he responds to my answering email.

To be asked at all is pretty amazing. That I should receive this kind of notice from the mainstream poetry world is very exciting. Even with so much of my life on hold right now, and in complete chaos, I find that my writing life continues. I expect that once things are more or less settled again, I will be able to take up writing the Brigid book again; right now not only are things too chaotic, but it has been several months since I've been able to focus well enough to do research and serious nonfiction writing. My focus is getting better as I get used to living with the dizziness, but I'm still not in a place where I can do that work again as yet.

So thank you, Jerome, for asking to include a little of my work in your upcoming anthology.

I'll keep you all posted on the details of this anthology as I get them. It is apparently due for publication next year.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

PL Henry Cauldron of Poesy article

With thanks to Erik G, I was supplied with a PDF of the PL Henry analysis and translation of The Cauldron of Poesy, which you can find at this link in PDF form. It's well worth reading, so please have a look!

This article includes a version of the original Irish as well as Henry's translation. It's from Studia Celtica 14/15, (1979/1980), pp 114-128.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nora Chadwick's Geilt article

I've had more than a few requests for this over the years so, while I had some time today, I scanned Nora Chadwick's Geilt article and have posted it as a PDF that you can download at this link.

While the article was originally published in 1942, it covers a lot of ground regarding these figures in Gaelic mythology. It's an important work for anyone interested in the mad poet figure in Gaelic texts and has been very helpful in my research and work over the years. If you're interested in reading Buile Suibhne, this will help with understanding the background and context in which this and other geilt tales were written.

Since I posted her Imbas Forosnai article here some months ago, it seemed fitting to post this companion piece. I hope you'll find them useful!

Oh, and blessed Imbolc!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Audio files for A Circle of Stones

Over the years, one of the things I've had the most requests for has been a series of audio files for the prayers in A Circle of Stones: Journeys & Meditations for Modern Celts. It's never been anything I would be that good at. My pronunciation sucks and I wouldn't want to inflict it on anyone.

Last year, I was able to talk Caera into doing the files. She's been through a lot of stress this year and has had to move several times, but she's finally had the time to put together audio files for the book. She speaks fluent Irish, and enough Gaelic to be able to do some justice to the prayers. She's produced an album of audio files to go with the second edition of CoS, which is now available on BandCamp.

Click here for your copy of the audio files for Circle of Stones - only $5 US!

All the money for these audio files goes to Caera, in thanks for her work on the project and for her editing of the second edition of the book. I'm very grateful to her for making this available to you. Please pass the word far and wide. And while you're at her BandCamp store, please check out her music, as well! Caera is an accomplished harper who plays a medieval wire-strung Celtic harp, and she has a really lovely soprano voice. On her various CDs, she sings in Irish, Scots Gaelic, Manx, and Welsh, as well as a little English.

You know you want to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Samhain ritual text

I was blessed to have my girlfriend and some of our mutual friends over for my Samhain ritual on Sunday. A lot of people talk about the dearth of ritual material in the CR community, or they worry about "doing it wrong," or they're just not sure what it might look like to do a ritual that derives from the various Celtic traditions.

For these reasons, and others, I'm posting the text of the ritual we did this weekend in the hope that, if you're feeling uninspired, it might give you a few ideas to work with. There's a lot more out there now than there used to be, but it can still be hard to find things that resonate, or that seem appropriate.

This ritual derives from Irish and Scottish materials. I'll add some notes at the end of the text. Setting an ancestor altar is the central aspect of this ritual, as is the making of offerings to them as our guests at the feast.


Samhain ritual, October 28, 2012

Scél lem dúib
Dordaid dam
Snigid gaim
Ro faith sam

I have tidings for you
The stag bells
Winter pours
Summer has gone

Gáeth ard úar
Ísel grían
Gair a rrith
Ruirthech rían

Wind is high and cold
The sun is low
Its course is short
The sea runs strongly

Rorúad rath
Ro cleth cruth
Ro gab gnáth
Guigrann guth

Bracken is very red
Its shape has been hidden
The call of the barnacle-goose
Has become unusual

Ro gab úacht
Etti én
Aigre ré
É mo scél

Cold has seized
The wings of birds
Season of ice
These are my tidings

[Juniper purification]

Peace up to heaven
Heaven down to earth
Earth beneath heaven
Strength in each
A cup very full
Full of honey
Mead in abundance
Peace up to heaven

Power of raven be thine
Power of eagle be thine
Power of the fian

Power of storm be thine
Power of moon be thine
Power of sun

Power of sea be thine
Power of land be thine
Power of heaven.

[Three Realms acknowledgement]

We stand within the embrace of muir mas, nem nglas, talam cé – the beautiful sea, the blue sky, the ever-present earth. We stand here now, beneath the nine hazels at the center of the world, at the lip of the well of wisdom.

I call upon all the powers that exist in land, sea, and sky
I call upon you at the edge of the year
I call upon every creature to be at peace with us
Let our beloved dead be remembered
Let them find a place at our table
Let them find joy in our remembering
May we speak of them with love
May we remember them with kindness
May we be blessed by their presence

[Lighting the fire]

I light the fire as Brigid lit
With the spark from her forge
With light from her well
With the fire from her soul

[Set the altar with photos, candles, and mementos]

[Place the group offering of food on the altar before the ancestors]

We give whisky to you for your welcome
For your thirst we give you milk
Food of the feast for you, first of all shares
Be welcome among us


[Personal offerings and prayers to the ancestors (music/poetry/etc)]

[Neep carving]

[Ancestor meditation]


[Closing and Departure]

We are always within the embrace of muir mas, nem nglas, talam cé – the beautiful sea, the blue sky, the ever-present earth. Wherever we walk, we stand upon the land. Wherever we are, the sea surrounds us. Wherever we breathe, we are beneath the sky.

Hear us, ancestors and beloved dead
You who have shared our feast
We have made our offerings
We have offered our prayers
We have remembered you
Remember us kindly
Watch over us through the darkness of the year
Hold us in your hearts with love

[Offerings into the fire]

Take the substance of the feast with you
Take food and drink for your health
Take with you our thoughts and the warmth of our memories
Our blessings go with you as you walk


The opening poem is from the early Irish tradition and can be found in Gerard Murphy's Early Irish Lyrics. It is dated to the 9th or 10th century CE and is attributed to Fionn mac Baiscne.

Purification with juniper has been discussed here before, and the practice originates in Scotland. The stanza of "peace up to heaven" is from the response of the Morrígan to Badb after the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. The remainder of this purification and blessing is from the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of Scottish Gaelic prayers, songs, and charms.

The concept of the three realms of land, sea, and sky is found in a great number of early Irish sources, and similar cosmological patterns can be found in other Celtic cultures. The phrase muir mas, nem nglas, talam cé is found in the 8th century poems of Blathmac. This cosmological triad is discussed in some depth in Liam MacMathúna's article Irish Perceptions of the Cosmos, published in Celtica 23, 1999.

Turnip lanterns are the origin of the American custom of carving pumpkin lanterns at Halloween.

The line "I light the fire as Brigid lit" is from fire kindling prayers in the Carmina Gadelica.

The rest of the text is original, but inspired by the patterns and poetry of the Gaelic traditions. This weaving together of traditional sources and modern inspiration is at the heart of how I do Celtic Reconstructionist polytheist rituals. Knowing that there aren't any complete and intact pre-Christian Gaelic ritual texts, we need to make do with what's available, and to trust ourselves to gain enough understanding to work with what does exist and expand upon it.

I wish you all a blessed Samhain.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pre-order link for Fireflies at Absolute Zero

My publisher has just released the link to the pre-order page for my poetry collection, Fireflies at Absolute Zero from Hiraeth Press. The book is $15.95 plus postage and is due to ship on October 31st, 2012.

I got some lovely cover text from several writers, including Ruby Sara, editor of the Datura and Mandragora esoteric poesis anthologies. From the Hiraeth page:

“Erynn Rowan Laurie’s Fireflies at Absolute Zero is a call to poetic arms, written with the ferocity and pas­sion of the Earth war­rior — “my poems burn like stars/​ they fall like spears from the oil-​​black sky.” It is a hymn of praise to the old gods, written in the long tra­di­tion of poets as dreamers of new worlds, and re-​​memberers of old ones. Indeed, Laurie’s poetry reminds us all that humanity cannot face its strug­gles with either mushy plat­i­tudes or mil­i­tarist cliché; we require the nuance of the poet who dances coura­geously on the edges, between the struggle and the embrace.” –Theodore Richards, author of Cosmosophia and The Crucifixion

“Following an ancient tra­di­tion of craft and inspi­ra­tion, Erynn Rowan Laurie’s work breathes in wonder, trans­mutes it into a crisp lyri­cism, and offers it, sharp and focused, back to the waking world. Grounded in expe­ri­ence, dream, and story, these poems declare with rich atten­tion the wild voice of the divine, the warp and weft of myth, the com­plexity of being human, and the great beauty of the earth, rough and sweet. Fireflies at Absolute Zero is a col­lec­tion for all who seek to invite in the raw, poetic nature of being and wit­ness to the singing of spirits and powers; bluejay, human struggle, man­drake, divine story, seashore...all brought into focus by the magic of the sacred word.” –Ruby Sara, editor of Datura and Mandragora

“Yes, this book of poems sings with lyrics, dances with visions, flies into spaces not yet filled with song, and lights dark places. But is it a book about writing poetry or about being a poet or being at-​​one with the nat­ural world, lit­erary world, and mytho­log­ical world? Or it is about spir­i­tual jour­neys or about embracing more fully the unknown? Yes!” –Mary Harwell Sayler, author of Living in the Nature Poem

“At the sharp edges of Dreams and Desires I have found a kin­dred spirit of the shining endark­en­ment.” –James McDowell, author of Night, Mystery & Light

Many thanks to Jason Kirkey and Leslie Browning of Hiraeth for their support and encouragement. It has been a delight to work with them on this project!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Airmed and Heapstown Cairn

Airmed was the first Celtic deity I ever had an experience with. She's been with me for pretty much the entire time I've been Pagan, though it took a couple of years to find out who she was and then figure out why she was with me and what she was about. Even back when I was practicing a pretty generic Paganism based on eclectic Wicca, she was there. Her presence was earthy and expansive, but there was also something cosmic and overwhelming about her in some of my experiences.

Airmed was the one who told me she wanted to hear Gaelic spoken to her; I'm not very good at it, but I can manage a few phrases in prayers. I'm still working on it, but my foreign language skills aren't that great, so it takes time. She fostered my interest in healing work and herbs over the years, and I keep an altar dedicated to her in my home. The first piece of paid writing I ever did was an article on her for SageWoman magazine, in the Spring 1994 issue, called Goddess of the Growing Green.

This drawing by Joanna Powell Colbert, in black and white, accompanied the article in the magazine.

The image here is by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick. It is a concept drawing for a sculpture that, as far as I know, was never actually made, intended for a hospital site. This is one of the images I have hanging over my altar for her.

As a part of this summer's pilgrimage to Ireland, our group visited Heapstown Cairn, a site associated with Airmed, Dian Cécht, Miach, and Octriuil and said to be the site of the healing well of Sláine that features in the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. The cairn is just at the northeast tip of Lough Arrow, in County Sligo and can be seen from the road, inside a large ring of trees.

This is a place I'd wanted to visit ever since I found out about it last year while researching sites for the pilgrimage. I'd been asked by Vyviane if there were any Airmed sites in Ireland on behalf of a friend of hers and set out to see if there were. I hadn't been certain we'd be able to visit the place, given our schedule, but it turned out we were staying not far from there, just on the other side of the lake. I was determined at that point that we'd do an Airmed ritual there, and this was the place I wanted to dedicate the moss agate ogam feda that I'd made for her at the end of March this year.

Heapstown Cairn was our first stop of the day - later we would go to Knocknarea, to climb to Maeve's Cairn at the top of the hill. It was a grey day but not raining at that point. We crossed a verdant field to reach the cairn.

As one does in Ireland, we had to watch where we walked to avoid stepping into the leavings of cattle. Some of the ground was quite boggy, as you might expect near a lake when it's been raining a lot. Walking through the pastureland reminded me a lot of the fields I used to cross when I was growing up in New England, where my nearest neighbors were dairy farmers and most of the places I wanted to play were in or across a pasture.

During our initial approach to the cairn, the group split and wandered, looking for a suitable place to hold our ritual. There were a couple of promising spots, but they weren't quite large enough for everyone. Eventually we settled on a little semicircular clearing on the southeast side of the cairn. As I walked, seeking the proper place, I was quietly singing a chant we'd written that morning as a part of our preparation for the ritual, based on traditional Gaelic healing lore, intertwined with singing Airmed's name.

Bone to bone
Flesh to flesh
Blood to Blood
Heal us now
Teach the herbs to us

The cairn itself has not, like Newgrange or Knowth, been excavated. There are kerbstones, but they are much overgrown and not visible, for the most part. No one knows if there are petroglyphs on them. The cairn itself is much reduced over the centuries. Local fences and other stone structures were built with some of the stones, and the pillar that once stood atop the cairn fell and was broken sometime in the last hundred years or so. We were told we shouldn't climb the cairn to avoid destroying anything if stones were dislodged. I think it was also because people wanted to be sure nobody was going to be diminishing the cairn even further by taking stones away.

Most people interested in Irish mythology who know about Airmed will have heard the tale about Airmed and the healing herbs. In the first battle of Mag Tuired, the arm of Nuadha, the king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was severed, making him ineligible to remain king. It was then replaced by a silver limb created by Dian Cécht. Having decided that this wasn't good enough, his son Miach replaced Nuadha's flesh arm by singing a charm much like the one above, and the use of the ashes of a wisp of burned straw to heal and regenerate the limb.

Dian Cécht, none too pleased by these proceedings, killed Miach and he was buried under a cairn from which the 365 healing herbs grew. Miach's sister Airmed collected these herbs in her cloak, sorted by their properties and the parts of the body that they treated. Dian Cécht, not wanting the knowledge of this powerful healing to be available to everyone, scattered the herbs. Most people think of this as the end of the story.

It isn't.

During the second battle of Mag Tuired, Dian Cécht made a visit to the place called Lusmag, the Plain of Herbs, where he gathered up all the healing herbs in the land, and he brought them to the Well of Sláine, at Heapstown Cairn. The herbs were placed in the water and four healers chanted powerful spells over the well. Those four healers were Dian Cécht, Airmed, Octriuil her brother, and Miach. It makes sense to me that a god whose body became healing herbs would, like a plant, rise again and regenerate himself, reborn for healing work.

The Fomhoire, seeing that the warriors of the Tuatha Dé Danann would be wounded and rise up whole the next morning to battle once again, realized that the healing well was responsible for this. Indech's son, Octriallaig, disguised the warriors of the Fomhoire as the wounded of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and each warrior carried with him a stone, which he dropped into the well. So many were these warriors that a huge cairn rose over the well, sealing it off and making it inaccessible, removing some of the most powerful healing magic available at the battle.

Local lore says that the well is still under there and that it can be seen by crawling into a passage in the cairn. Our driver, Con, spoke to one of the local ladies while we were off doing ritual; she said that when she was young she'd heard about kids who had gone into the cairn and seen the well themselves. The passage was supposedly still accessible somewhere, but no one could find it.

For the ritual itself, I told the story of Airmed and the herbs, and of the well beneath the cairn. A cloth was laid out to represent her cloak, a cauldron for incense, and a bowl filled with water for the well itself, in the center. Each person had been given a little packet containing an herb, and a slip of paper with the name of the herb and its properties listed on it. When we got to the part where Airmed was sorting the herbs from her brother's grave and laying them on the cloak, we each laid out our packet of herbs and described what the herb was and what it did.

When we heard the part of the tale where Dian Cécht brought the herbs from Lusmag and placed them in the well and the four healers stood around it chanting healing charms, we each put a bit of our herbs into the "well" and offered a pinch into the charcoal for an offering. Other offerings were made as well - whiskey was poured out, bits of food were offered, herbs, and other personal things by those who had brought them. After we placed the herbs into the water, we sang the chant we'd created that morning, noted above, and took some time to do any personal workings we wanted to, whether communing with Airmed, meditating with the land, or asking for healing; this is where I did the dedication of my ogam feda.

After our workings, we heard the story of how the cairn itself was formed and the healing well buried. The ritual was closed, the water poured out, and the charcoal doused. The cloth representing the cloak still had bits of herbs clinging to it, and I shook it out into the wind, scattering the herbs as Dian Cécht had once done.

I know I'm not the only person in the group who felt that they had connected with Airmed in that place. I experienced a feeling of being very close to her, and of reaching into some essence of her spirit, her presence all around the edges of my perception. I felt her in the land and in the plants growing on and around the cairn, her blessings in the wind. I'm very thankful to have had the chance to visit this place and forge a deeper connection with my first Irish goddess.

The opportunity to do ritual in the landscape where these tales took place, where local lore has a connection to both history and the spiritual in the land, was profound for me. It cannot happen like that in the place where I live. The core myths of my spirituality take place in another country on the other side of the earth, and I bring what I can of it into my own place, but it feels very different here than it does in Ireland. The connection is easier and deeper but at the same time, I can feel that Ireland isn't my place; mine is on the shores of the Salish Sea here in the Pacific Northwest. Much of the landscape is similar, the weather is very like, and many of the same plants and animals are found here, but their energies manifest differently.

Visiting Ireland, for me, wasn't like coming home. I know folks who have had that homecoming experience in Europe. For me it was like visiting the roots of something deep and significant, but it wasn't a return home. The act of pilgrimage is one of leaving home and familiar environs to make a holy visit to a sacred place -- and then to return home once more, transformed. By its nature, the site visited is something set apart from one's daily life, whether it is visited once in a lifetime, once in a year, or even more often. Pilgrimage offers us a way to approach a place in an altered frame of mind, with a heightened openness to certain types of experience of the numinous and the liminal. The places we visit on pilgrimage are, for us, threshold places where the Otherworlds bleed into our own.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New publicity piece for my poetry collection

Here's the publicity graphic for Fireflies at Absolute Zero. It's not exactly what the cover will be, but fairly close. We're still working on fonts and such, but this at least has the necessary information that folks will want.

Cover promo Fireflies