Saturday, February 24, 2007

Eire Go Brách!

Omigod, the Irish rugby team just CREAMED the English team 46-13 in one of the most historical and emotive days in Irish sport history and Irish history itself. For the first time ever an English team was allowed into the hallowed grounds of Croke Park, the home of Gaelic football and hurley, and the scene of a civilian massacre by British soldiers in 1920. (The Hogan Stand is named after the hurley captain who died along with 13 spectators.) Some might say the ghosts of the murdered were with the lads today. It was a ROUT. There was a huge issue beforehand about God Save the Queen being sung at the game, but the Irish fans didn't bat an eye and clapped afterwards to show a welcoming spirit. Winners all round, it was a great day to be Irish.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cool Pic

This is a photo of me and the Duchess, my beloved Triumph Herald which shows up in all The Chronicles of Faerie books. Findabhair is asleep in her baby chair inside. We're on the western shore of Inch Island, one of the settings for The Hunter's Moon. At the time, we were living in an alternative community called Meitheal (the Irish word for a communal work party, like a "bee" in Canada. Yeah, I was a hippie, so what.) Ideally, this pic belongs in the Book Blog but I already posted there and this blog was looking abandoned.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha

Just back from a weekend of Buddhist teachings with a wonderful Tibetan lama, Panchen Otrul Rinpoche. He lives in a big country house that is also a retreat centre - Jampa Ling - in County Cavan. I've been going to this centre for 17 years now! Here's one of the best things I learned. Usually when I feel really happy, the happiness is tempered with guilt. I can't help thinking, 'how can I be happy when so many others aren't?' Rinpoche says if you are happy then expand that happiness out into the world for the benefit of all sentient beings. (And that, I must say, makes you feel even happier.) While I'm writing this, I am listening to an exquisite CD of Tibetan chants and prayers mingled with Celtic rhythms and a beautiful poem to White Tara in Irish. Is tusa mo mhathair. (You are my mother.) Tara was born of a tear from the eyes of the Buddha of Compassion to answer the suffering in the world. It is, of course, magical that her name is the same as the royal site of Tara, named after an ancient goddess of Ireland, Téa. The sacred songlines of the world interweave to make one true tapestry that underlies all. See: www.jampaling.org and also www.iol.ie/~taeger/panchen/panchen.html.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Endangered Languages

Just finished Mark Abley's Spoken Here, the brilliant book on minority languages mentioned below. He is an amazing writer. (His comparison of English to Wal-mart truly made me shudder.) I have always believed that language not only reflects a people's way of thinking, but also informs it. Even a cursory study of Old and Middle Irish will call to mind James Joyce. It's not surprising that such a fluid and complex tongue would produce a race of people who revel in words and play with language - their own or their conqueror's - because their thought patterns spin and spiral. Here are two stunning verbs from the Boro language: gabkhron - to be afraid of witnessing an adventure. And onsra - to love for the last time. And here is a wonderful statement from Abley when speaking of the struggle to keep endangered languages alive. Their struggle, it should be clear by now, is part of a worldwide battle to prevent language annihilation. But even this larger battle - I ask forgiveness for the metaphor - may be part of a wider war, perhaps the central one of our time: the fight to sustain diversity on a planet where globalizing, assimilating, and eradicating occur on a massive scale.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunny Days, Frosty Nights

As I heat up the house on this frosty moonlit night, I want to post a gorgeous frosty photograph sent to me by William Todd Jones, centaur/Merlin-husband featured in some of last year's blogs. An unmentioned new year's resolution of mine is the purchase of two essential items this year:
1) laptop computer
2) digital camera.
There will be no stopping me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lá Fhéile Bríd - Imbolc

It is February 1st, the first day of spring in Ireland and today was indeed beautiful; mild and sunny with sweet fresh air and the birds singing in the trees. Today is Lá Fhéile Bríd, the Feastday of Saint Brigit, Ireland's most popular saint after Saint Patrick. She is also called "Mary of the Gael." If you are into Celtic Christianity have a look at www.solasbhride.ie. The first day of February also heralds a more ancient festival, one of the seasonal quarter days of the Celtic calendar, Imbolc. The pagan fire and sun festival celebrates the lengthening of the days and the birthing of lambs. It's no coincidence that St Brigit - who carries the same name as the Celtic tripartite goddess Brigid - is also associated with fire. Her famous monastery at Kildare kept a perpetual fire burning, tended only by women. (Note: Illustration by Dick Warren from Mary Low's Celtic Christianity and Nature, Early Irish and Hebridean Traditions, Blackstaff Press, Belfast.)