Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Three things from which never to be moved: one's Oaths, one's Gods, and the Truth.

The three highest causes of the true human are: Truth, Honor, and Duty.

Three candles that illuminate all darkness: Truth, Nature, and Knowledge.

— Traditional Celtic Triads

These are three of the best of the Celtic Triads. They Irish were fond of grouping things by three or nine. But, it wouldn't hurt if we all followed the truth, honor and duty triad. If you'll notice truth is common to all three. And the truth has really been suffering around here these days.

Sunday, March 27, 2011



Close your eyes and feel your body. Breath in, breath out; savor the miracle of breath. Feel your fingers. Feel your hands and arms. Savor the miracle of touch. You can find out so much; rough or smooth, hot or cold.

Move down your body, feel your legs and feet. With them you can explore the world whether it’s your backyard or the other side of the world. Walk barefoot through your world. Dry, rustling autumn leaves or the cold wet sands of an Oregon beach at low tide.

Breath in, breath out. Stretch out your consciousness. Feel the essence of your life. Your body may be new, but your soul is old. Finally it can express its beauty in songs, poems, dance, story, tears and joy.

You are no longer bound by time or space. Let your thoughts drift. They are as free as the breezes that kiss you on a cool spring morning. But, it could be a summer night in Greece two thousand years ago. It could be autumn in Tuscany next year. You are no longer bound by time or place.

Stretch out you consciousness. You are an acorn born in the spring. You grew ripe through the summer. The winds of an August thunderstorm pulled you from the tree. You fell down, down to nestle among the wildflowers of late summer. The flowers die with the fall frosts and they bury you among their dead leaves. You are not alone, the banches of your mother tree were full. In half a millennia a new grove will rise again.

Another year, another spring; your shell splits. The first tiny leaves reach up towards the sun, the silk thread roots begin their long journey towards the center of the earth. Spring comes and goes. Summer sun comes and goes. A sapling slowly reaches for the sky. The wheel of the year turns and turns again. After all what is a century or so to an oak.

Another century of summers and winters. Your roots are intertwined with soil and gravels that rode the melting ice sheets that began to retreat ten thousand years ago. Remember, you weren’t the only acorn that fell that long ago spring. Your branches touch and intertwine with the trees next to you. Their branches intertwine with all the others. A grove of oaks a thousand strong.

Another century comes, another goes. You are slowly returning the soil that gave you birth. Even as your trunk weakens, it provides life to the moss and lichens growing in your bark. Trees were there before you. Perhaps they knew the ancient Druids. Perhaps Hern led the Wild Hunt through your grove. Times are harder, the earth changes faster and faster. But, not so much yet, that your sons and daughters have failed to take root and begin their long journey towards the sun.

Know this your life, and the lives of the trees and the stars are as intertwined as the branches of that grove of oaks.

Inspired by a piece on the website for the Raven Wood Grove.


Cruthaitheoir (noun): creator. Cruth (noun): shape. Cruthigh (verb): to create, to shape.

I’ll be honest, I have no idea how to pronounce the Irish Gaelic. Even the net wasn’t much help. Traditionally, when we speak of creation stories we mean that something was brought into existence. But, there can be a second meaning; to bring into a new form. And, since the root word, cruth, means to shape, there is the implication that the Creator is working with something that already exists.

In the Irish mythology that survives, there are no creation myths as we usually understand them. There seem to be no in the beginning there was
“nothing” and then there was some “thing.”

The eternally curious scribes in the old Irish monasteries translated, copied and recopied every scrap of paper that came their way. It’s likely that they would have copied a pagan story of creation if they had access to one, even if they reworked it to give it a less pagan emphasis.

Or perhaps, as Tom Cowan author of Yearning for the Wind suggests, the Irish Celts didn’t have an “In the beginning” story. The universe didn’t have to come into
“existence” because it has always existed. If, somehow, the universe has always existed then the Creator has always existed, does exist and will always exist. Creation becomes a reshaping, not a sudden appearance of something out of nothing.

So where did the raw material for reshaping come from? Cowan believes that the raw material comes from the Creator. The ever changing, ever shifting and always becoming universe is the essence of the Creator.

For Cowan the Creation trinity is a relationship. This trinity is the Shape, the Shaper and Shaping of life. The shaping three are truly indivisible; no one of this trinity can exist without the other. As part of an always existing, ever changing universe everyone living in that universe can become both Creator and Creation. We are the Shape, Shaper and Shaping of that Creation. But, there’s a dark side that modern society prefers to ignore. If we are Creators we can also be Destroyers. When we cut and fray the threads of the tapestry of Creation we do it to ourselves.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I cleanse my soul with the dews of Spring,
Light of mind’s refreshing dew,
Love of heart’s renewing dew,
Life of being’s restoring dew,
Cleanse and recreate my soul this night.
May the souls of all beings be
Peacefully preserved
From fall of night
Till day’s clear light.

In the Celtic calendar Spring begins about the first of February; midway between the Solstice and the Equinox. I’d love to have my mind refreshed, my heart renewed, and my being restored by the wonderful dews of Spring. But, this is wonderful, wonderful Western Oregon and the moss is in bloom. Boy is it in bloom. We're short on dew, long on rain.

I think we’ve had four days in the last six weeks when it hasn’t rained. It’s been wet, dark and chilly. March came in like a great big lion and it looks like it’s going to go out like a little lion, not a lamb. Could use a bit of sunshine right now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
Hear me, for I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever
Behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
And my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand things
You have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
In every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
But to fight my greatest enemy-myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
With clean hands and straight eyes.
Who when life fades, as the fading sunset,
My spirit may come to you without shame.

Traditional Native American Prayer in American Indian Healing Arts

Most of the time the authors are able to say what tribe the poems or prayers they’ve collected come from; but apparently this one either very common or it’s so old nobody knows who said it first.

It looks like I'm spiraling back to the old ways; again. Sometimes I envy the folks who are sure of their place in the spiritual universe. Then there's the rest of us.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Now we're involved, semi, in another fighting war. Yes, I sympathize with the rebels in Libya. But, the government in Zimbabwe has been torturing its citizens for years. Darfur? Where's that? Couldn't get off the ground in Sierra Leone. What do these areas have in common? No oil and long supply lines.

Discovered this on The People Speak DVD. A very bitter anti war song by Bob Dylan.

"Masters Of War"

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

He may have to wait a long time. Me, I think I'd add about three feet of concrete, some garlic and a stake.

Yes, I'm feeling really, really, @#&&*!!# right now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Once upon a time the people knew that all was connected. Life was a great, ever changing symphony connecting humans with the animals that walked the land, the creatures who rode the river currents, shallow seas and the ocean deeps. We watched the winged ones ride the winds. We could hear many the many voices; human, beast and bird. We all joined our voices to plant, stream, sea and stone.

Was it a spell? Was it a dark shadow on the land? Most men and women could no longer hear the song. Too many forgot that their souls were joined to all Creation. But, some still heard the songs. They still knew the plants that heal, where to find them, how to use them. Some still hear the songs of wolf and eagle, salmon and oak; mountain freshet and North Sea breakers. Can a song break a spell? Can songs chase away shadows?

Inspired by the introduction to Yearning for the Wind by Tom Cowan

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Danger, entering Jackie's rant zone.

Mea culpa, mea culpa. I’ve been reading the comments on the AOHell stories about the Japan quake. I don’t know why I’m ever surprised at the ignorance, virulence and downright nastiness on the boards, but the lack of compassion on so many of the comments just blows me away. God’s punishment on Japan for Pearl Harbor? Please. We might as well blame the damage to the coastal south from hurricanes on the south’s history of slavery. Or a powerful hurricane in New England for the massacres of Native Americans in the mid seventeenth century.

Of course certain commentators who shall remain nameless (GB are the initials of one of them) have been recorded making totally inappropriate, totally tasteless, totally asinine comments. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that when something like this happens that’s when the nitwits who have been called on the carpet invoke their first amendment rights? Too bad the founders didn’t include an amendment guarantying our right to be complete idiots.

Newsflash! The Creator; whether it’s Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, the Great Mother created a universe that include planets with huge fault lines, ocean trenches, mountains, and vast seas among other wonders. Crap happens; it’s not the Creator’s fault.

My family started out in New England and the mid Atlantic states. After several generations they traded blizzards, nor'easters, black flies, fields full of rocks and the occaisional hurricane for the midwest. It took half a generation to decide to trade Kansas prairies, blizzards, thunderstorms, droughts, and twisters for the Pacific Northwest. Well we have mountains instead of prairies and better weather. We also have earthquakes, volcanoes and the threat of tsunamis. There isn't any place on this little blue dot that's totally safe to live in, on, whatever.

Lucky for us that Creation also includes enough compassionate, courageous human beings who stretch out a helping hand to their injured brothers and sisters. It gives me hope. Especially when the searchers found a four month old baby, alive and in good shape. Even bigger miracle; both her parents survived. Hey, two miracles. Yeah, my hope light's burnin' brighter.

For the spreaders of vile bile. Please go sit in a corner, stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes and hum real loud. And stay there.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I promise I will get to the second part of that Quaker entry. I had to spend Tuesday twiddling my thumbs downtown answering a jury summons. Just doing some rereading trying to get a handle on how the Quakers and their sympathizers could have ended up so different from the other three folkways that settled over here. I still believe the Irish had a lot to do with it.

And following the news of that horribly devasting quake. It's unimaginable. Gaia shrugs and sometimes devastation follows.

That's all, cat is trying to sit on keyboard.


Men walkin' 'long the railroad tracks
Goin' someplace there's no goin' back
Highway patrol choppers comin' up over the bridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin' 'round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin' in their cars in the Southwest
No home no job no peace no rest
The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin' for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleepin' on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin' in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
Where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Waitin' on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."

Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

Lyrics by Bruce Springsteen

There's no dust bowl today. There are no soup and bread lines stretched around the corner in our big cities. There's no caravans of forced off the land share croppers held up at the California border. How miuch hasn't changed?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." William Pitt the younger.

Pitt was the youngest person to become Prime Minister of England in 1783 at the age of 24. Isn't this the chorus we're hearing now as certain groups are taking a meat ax the safety nets for the least among us?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011



Two hundred seventy
Ghost Dancers
Died dreaming of a world where the white man would drown
In a world wide flood of their sins.

Where the earth
Would reclaim their
Cities and towns
Leaving only
The Ghost dancers
Who lived by her laws.

History books tell us
The threat is gone.
The ghost dance
Died with the ancestors
Wovoka and his sacred drum

Each time it rains
I go out to the sidewalk
Where the tree roots have broken the concrete and listen to the water’s
“It is coming soon.”

Sara Little-Crow Russell of the Anisinhaabe found in Winona LaDuke’s All Our Relations.

I believe the number of Ghost Dancers comes from the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. The casualties have been reported anywhere from one hundred and ninety to over three hundred Lakota and Cheyenne. Many of them women and children. I’ve put in links to Wikepedia entries because, to be honest, read it and weep.

Yeah, nobody who is alive now had anything to do with the massacre. Most whites were good people. Hell, I’m pretty much pure Northern European. If there’s anything else in the mix I haven’t found it; or it’s so far back in the past it doesn’t matter anyway. Unfortunately the Lakota weren’t meeting very many of the good folks who would never dream of killing women or children. Trouble is, history repeats itself and too many good people are still over in the corner eyes closed, fingers in ears, humming really, really loud.

This piece comes from a place of deep, deep pain.

Monday, March 7, 2011


"The way of life of the red people is like a clay cup, and the way of life of the white man is like a Styrofoam cup. The clay cup takes a lot of care because if you drop it, it is going to break. The Styrofoam cup doesn’t take much caring; if you drop it, it doesn’t break. You have to be real careful with the clay cup because if you put something hot in it, it will burn you, compared to the Styrofoam cup, which you use once and throw away; it takes a lot of work to keep that clay cup intact. The Styrofoam cup is the white man’s way. They have no rules and regulations in their way of life. They say they do, but in reality they do not."

Bobbie Billie of the Independent Traditional Seminoles.

And the regulations they scream about the loudest are the ones that try to keep the greedaholics from paving over, polluting and plowing up what little remains of the natural world.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


As I work my way through these English immigrants I’ve discovered that there’s something you can’t escape. Religious history and political history are Siamese twins. You can’t understand the one without the other. And it’s our loss.

Each section of Albion’s Seed has maps that show which part of England the majority of the members of the migrating group came from. Most of the Quaker immigrants came from northern counties including Yorkshire and Lancashire. As I was looking the maps, the highlighted regions seemed awfully familiar. They were. The counties that were home to the majority of Quaker immigrants overlap the paths the Irish monks took on their way to Europe. A path that took them through what became northern France and southern Germany all the way to the heel of Italy’s boot.

Those monks and missionaries planted their respect for the Creator and their belief that the believer could have a direct and person experience of God. Perhaps that belief wasn’t so unusual in mystics like Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Ekhart and Francis of Assisi. They all spoke of the Inner Light. Quakers also taught the Inner Light, but they went further in their beliefs. For a Quaker no intermediary between believer and Creator was necessary. No ordained ministers, no bishops. And at that point they parted company with just about everyone else in England.

Like all new believers, the early Quakers were eager to share what they had experienced. They ran into immediate problems. They claimed the right to preach where they would and refused to tithe to the Anglican Church. The one got them pilloried or imprisoned. The other led to confiscation of crops, stock and property. Often the value of what was taken was more than they owed the church. Quakers also believed in equality before God and probably got into more trouble for refusing to remove their hats when the met up with social superiors. Most Quakers also refused to swear oaths either to the King or in court.

Enter William Penn. The son of an admiral in favor with the court of Charles II he converted in his early twenties. He managed to get himself arrested almost immediately for attending Quaker meetings. Young William traveled with George Fox not only in England but in Europe. He soon turned his hand to writing for the church. He turned out more than sixty pamphlets or short books, almost half of them on liberty of conscience.

One of the reasons I took more time with the Quakers had to do with a 1670 court case. Penn was arrested with William Meade and charged with preaching to a crowd of more than five people. They were denied the right to see the charges against them and the judge directed the jury to reach a jury without the defense being allowed to present a case.

The jury returned a not guilty verdict. They were “invited” to change their verdict. The jury refused. The impasse continued over several days. When the jury continued to refuse to change their minds, the judge committed the defendants and the jury to Newgate prison. Penn and Meade for contempt and the jurors because he could I guess. One of the juror’s petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. After all he hadn’t committed a crime, he just refused to change his mind. Eventually, after some polite judicial back and forth over just which court he needed to go to for the writ, it was granted. The justices also ruled that juries had the right to be free of intimidation. The right to habeas corpus in cases of unlawful detention was also upheld. Even though the trial was held in seventeenth century England, these rights found their way into American law.

Cross posted in Women On.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Liberty of conscience is every man's natural right, and he who is deprived of it is a slave in the midst of the greatest liberty.

William Penn

We limit our definition of Founding Fathers to the men who went to Philadelphia to rewrite the Articles of Confederation and came back with the Constitution. We forget that they weren't working in a vacuum; they had at least a century of colonial history to work from. William Penn is as much a founder of this country as George Washington or Benjamin Franklin.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


"God made us in His (Her) image so we glady returned the favor." George Bernard Shaw With a slight editorial addition. :-)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Found this on the web.

A Memo to Congress:

"Shame on you! you who make unjust laws and publish burdensome decrees, depriving the poor of justice, robbing the weakest of my people of their rights, despoiling the widow and plundering the orphan. What will you do when called to account, when ruin from afar confronts you? To whom will you flee for help?" -- Isaiah 10:1-3

What's your answer to that gentlemen (and a few ladies)?