Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Là na Caillich, 2014

  Day of The Hag 
photo montage copyright ©2014 Kathryn NicDhàna 
from images of the Romsey Sheela and the equinox illumination of Sliabh na Caillí, Éire

Whether as early as March 18, Sheelah's Day
in Ireland, or April 6, Là na Caillich by
the old calendar in the colder climes
of Scotland, or somewhere in between,
when the Equinox sunrise illuminates
the chamber at Sliabh na Caillí, this
is the time of year when the Hag
renews herself. And as she does so,
she brings life to the land.

She waves her branch to raise the winds,
to bring the last snow of the winter,
to turn the seasons of the year. 

Until Samhain when she ushers in the
winter again by washing her great plaid
in the whirlpool of Coire Bhreacain,
bringing the snow to cover the land.


We still have more in the works for the season, including an overhaul of the Sheela website with new content, and additional videos. But sending you all greetings today, since the 25th is the modern calendar date of Là na Caillich. Hope everyone's having a good Spring! Slàinte Mhath!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lá Fhéile Pádraig / "Saint" "Patrick's" Day, 2014

Tis the Season...

For those of us with Irish heritage in the diaspora, this is one of the most awkward and uncomfortable times of the year. While we are relieved at the lengthening days and warming weather, glad to have survived another harsh winter, we are also horrified at the debacle that is American and Canadian Saint Patrick's day.

As I write this, the riots have started. In one college town this weekend, thousands of students celebrated their idea of St. Patrick's day by drinking themselves sick, puking on their violent green t-shirts, assaulting one another and hurling bottles and rocks at the riot police that tried to stop them from harming other civilians. This behaviour is shameful, and as an Irish-American it makes me very sad and dismayed to see this happening yet again in the name of "Irish pride." Of course, I think only a minority of those rioters even have Irish heritage. And what heritage they have, they dishonour.

As I've written about before, to attend some of these awful festivities can put your safety in jeopardy. And the thing is, these drunken blowouts have nothing to do with being Irish.

In past years, we've done our best to avoid the whole thing, or to quietly educate via online discussion and memes.

This year, we've decided to get proactive.

We're pleased to present an article debunking some of the myths around St. Patrick's Day: Pagans, Polytheists, and St Patrick’s Day, as well as two videos on the topic.

Video one is a general introduction to the problems with the stereotypes, and video two is directed more specifically at the myths around Patrick himself, and the misinformation spread by both Pagans and Christians.

Our Gaol Naofa video channel has been in the works for a while now. Treasa made our first videos two years ago, then we stalled out a bit on getting more done. This year we've tried to use our anger and frustration around the whole St. Paddy's thing to motivate us to finish up some projects and counter the misinformation. Check out our playlists for other videos that should be of interest to Gaelic Polytheists, or anyone interested in Celtic Reconstructionism and Gaelic cultures in general. If you like what you see, feel free to subscribe, as more is in the works.

As we say in the videos, we welcome the spring, and celebrate the Hag who turns the seasons. She, and the Earth, are renewing themselves now, and we honour her.

We also honour our ancestors who worked so hard to survive oppression, famine and exile. The St. Paddy's parades in the diaspora initially began as cultural celebrations - a day for members of an oppressed ethnicity to gather together and celebrate their survival against the odds. It was only after our recent ancestors "became white" and rose to power in the police departments and mainstream politics that the marches became drunken bacchanals, with little to no connection to anything traditionally Irish.

We hope you enjoy these contributions, and find them useful in debunking the myths that surround this season. For more on our recent projects (such as our in-depth article, “Children and Family in Gaelic Polytheism”), see the Gaol Naofa site. Sláinte Mhaith.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

It's that time of the year again...

#StPatricksDay #CulturalCringe #IrishAmerican #Oirish #Irish #CulturalShame #StPats #StPaddys #StPatty[sic] #ItsNotMyFaultYouMadeYourselfIntoaRacistStereotype

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Irish Fairy Beliefs: Interview with Folklorist Dr. Jenny Butler

Here is an excellent interview with Dr. Jenny Butler about the living traditions of the Creideamh Sí ("Fairy Faith"). She discusses those who have maintained these traditional ways of interacting with (or at least respecting) the spirits, along with some discussion of Irish polytheism in general.

At the end the interviewer also seems to know about those of us involved in the preservation, revival and reconstruction of the old Irish ways and asks about the modern communities. While I wish she would have made a bit more of a distinction between the various folks who either observe these ways now and those who are simply inspired by them, as that only came up in the last segment and was not the focus of the interview it's understandable there were only generalizations.

Definitely worth a watch, especially as an intro to the Creideamh Sí.

Go raibh maith agaibh, a Jenny (agus a Mhícheáil for posting this)!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Justice for Trayvon, Marissa and CeCe

Statement from the CAORANN Council:
17 July, 2013

We at CAORANN are outraged at the atrocity that is the Zimmerman verdict. The system has once again failed People of Colour (POC) in America. We stand with our loved ones for whom this sort of injustice is nothing new, who have borne the brunt of this kind of deadly discrimination their entire lives, who carry the burden of generational trauma, and who have now been shown that they don't even have the right to defend their lives. An unarmed child has been murdered, and we are supposed to accept that a grown man with a gun, who stalked, chased and then murdered him in cold blood was justified in doing so. We are asked to "accept the verdict."

We do not accept the verdict.

We join in the call by the NAACP for the Department of Justice to follow the clear precedents set by the Byrd and Shepard verdicts and charge George Zimmerman with Hate Crime and Civil Rights Violations resulting in the death of a human being, on the Federal level.

Please read and sign The NAACP Petition to the Department of Justice

We also call for justice for Marissa Alexander, a mother with no criminal record, a Master's degree, a weapons permit and a restraining order against her abusive ex-husband. She has been sentenced to twenty years in prison simply for firing a warning shot to scare off her attacker. No one was even wounded. The case against her was presented by the same Florida prosecutor who failed to convict George Zimmerman.

Free Marissa Alexander: Stand Your Ground Marissa Alexander. Or go directly to petitions: The Petition Site and MoveOn.org

The mothers and aunties and grandmothers on the CAORANN council stand with the mothers who have lost their children to racist violence, and the mothers who have been jailed for defending themselves from abusers. We mourn the loss of this young man, the jailing of an innocent woman, and the ugly blood stain that once again spreads across the white hands of America. As a predominantly white group, we know that the pain those of us with white privilege feel, as gutted as we feel, is miniscule compared to that of our friends who have kids who look like Trayvon Martin, who could be shot down like Trayvon, who were already dealing with culture-wide PTSD before this happened, and who have lived with this fear for their entire lives. We fear for all the People of Colour we know and love who could also be shot down, whose words and work are dismissed or stolen every day, and who are dealing with racist trolling, physical assaults, and even murder, just for standing up for themselves and their communities.

We offer our prayers for justice and compassion.

But compassion is not enough. Feeling grief is not enough. From that grief must come action. We affirm that we must continue to work in the communities to which we have access to dismantle the deadly system of white privilege and white supremacy in America, and in all the countries where racism is taking the lives of our friends, relatives and beloved allies.

In grief, solidarity and determination,

The CAORANN Council,
Celts Against Oppression, Racism and Neo-Nazism

ETA: After some initial technical difficulties, we've now posted the above text on the CAORANN website, as well. We apologize for our delay in getting this out. We have been working on these issues locally, processing with other activists, and having trouble speaking through our anger well enough to compose anything longer than a tweet.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Death-Dealing Plastic Shaman to be Released from Prison

James Arthur Ray, convicted of three counts of Negligent Homicide for killing three people (and injuring over twenty more) in a racist, humiliating, pretendian debacle in a plastic death tent, will be loose in just 10 Days. He killed three people, but he's being turned loose. Here's a refresher, from the Usual Suspects:

Here's most of what I've written about James Ray over the past few years: James Ray Sweat Deaths Posts.

He wants your money; he'll take your life. Don't let him ever again have a career at this stuff. Don't let him sell his deadly fake rituals. Don't let him lead any kind of ceremony, ever. Don't buy it, don't excuse it, don't look the other way.

James Ray was able to get away with killing these people due to two things: racism and greed. Racism led otherwise-intelligent people to think they could trust a white man to lead ceremonies that Native people had said he had no right or ability to lead. They bought the racist fantasy that they could be the "better Indians" - that they could attain in one week, or a series of seminars, things it takes normal people decades to achieve, if they ever achieve it at all. And they were greedy enough that they bought the illogical proposal that if they did his silly and offensive newage rituals - gross fabrications mixed with pale imitations of spiritual ceremonies he only pretended to know - that it would bring them material riches. They thought they were better than Native people, they thought they were above the laws of nature. And as long as people are willing to believe those kinds of offensive and absurd falsehoods, frauds and exploiters like Ray will get the chance to kill them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pretendian Racist Tries to Colonise Ireland - The attempted return of White Ego Fraud

Thoroughly non-Native Rachel Holzwarth is still calling herself "White Eagle Medicine Woman," even though she promised the real Native Americans who picketed her racist displays that she would stop doing so. She is still dressing in fake Plains NDN regalia, even though she promised NDNs she would stop. She lied. Then she lied some more.

Now she's looking for some place to sell her fake ceremonies and "prayerformances" (her word), and she's hoping she can find some place where there are no NDNs, and where no one cares about misappropriation. Her only performances and workshops in the US in the past five years have been in all-white, gated enclaves. She's gotten some confidence back by selling her pretendian schtick to Jews in the Middle East. Now, five years after her broken promises, she is once again looking to branch out. This is from her Facebook page (It looks like you will have to temporarily "like" the page to see the posts):

from Holzwarth's Facebook page

Holzwarth photoshopped a version of a spiral from a Christian manuscript into one of her bizarre publicity photos:

It's not even an image of the Newgrange spiral. Ripping off an unrelated image from an Irish manuscript gives her no more connection to Newgrange, or any other Irish sacred site, than does her hanging Australian eagle feathers off that death drum and claiming it gives her the right to represent Native Americans. Yet she has lied and claimed to be "Celtic" just as she has lied about being Seneca. She has never shown that she knows anything at all about Irish (or any other Celtic) culture. She just tried that old racist ploy of thinking "Celtic" can be used as shorthand for "white appropriator." When pressed, she has admitted she is Jewish. There is nothing wrong with being a Jew, but apparently Rachel seems to think so. It looks like she has tried to be lots of things.

The death drum contains human remains and human blood. It is evil, like the racist pretendian fraud who bangs on it, the one who has openly espoused the racist theories of Steiner - suggesting that all the NDNs need to die so the white people can inherit their medicine. Anyone of any spiritual sensitivity who has been near that thing can feel that it is bad, bad ju ju. Anyone with basic human compassion for oppressed people must stand up to this crass exploitation.

She's also putting out feelers in England:

from Holzwarth's Facebook page

Heads up, Irish and English folks, and anyone else in the Isles. Don't let this woman exploit you the way she's tried to exploit Indigenous people everywhere she's gone. Don't let her come to your land, don't let her present there, don't buy her lies.

Don't let her rip us off the way she's ripped off Native Americans. Don't let her steal our ancestors or sell a mangled misrepresentation of us to the capitalist newagers. Don't let her use us to promote her racist agenda.

Go raibh maith agaibh! 

Windigo Disease collage courtesy of When White People Go Bad.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Keeping the Fires Burning

Red Lake Direct Action to Stop Illegal Enbridge Pipeline

Today is an international day of ceremony and prayer in solidarity with Idle No More. Today we drum and pray and offer to the powers of Sovereignty. As Gaelic Polytheists, we know the true power to lead the people comes from the power of the Sacred Land. For those of us in the diaspora, this means listening to, and working in solidarity with, the peoples of the sovereign First Nations of the territories where we now live. Like Amergin arriving in Ireland, we learn the name of the land where we live, we love her and respect her and ask for her guidance.

We pray the way we know how to pray. We pray the way our ancestors prayed.

The main guidelines for today are to build a sacred fire at dawn and keep it burning all day. At the fire, built in the way of our Gaelic ancestors, we drum the traditional rhythms of Ireland and Scotland, and speak to the spirits who've been kind enough to let us, and our recent ancestors, call this land home. We pray that the true, natural sovereignty of this land be strengthened; that the grandmother spirits of this land choose who will lead the way, and give strength to the people they charge with this task of protecting the land and the waters for the people now, for the other living creatures, and our descendents who are to come. We ask that we may be worthy, and humble, and useful. Slàinte Mhath.

One place where the sacred fire is burning, and will continue to burn until the Tar Sands KXL pipeline is removed from the land, is at the Red Lake Indian Reservation, in Minnesota.

Around the fire at the camp. Photo by Jenna Pope

Fund the resistance with laughter!

Friends, we need strong people on the line against Enbridge, and the KXL Tar Sands pipeline, at the blockade on the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Activists who are out in the cold at the blockade, camping on the site in the snow in order to shut down the pipeline, need our support. While they're holding the line for us, for the Earth and the waters and the air, they're not able to be at their jobs that pay the bills.

One of the brave warriors holding the line is our dear friend, Tito Ybarra. He has been honoured by Nizhawendaamin Indaakiminaan for his activism, and we need to honour him, as well. You may know Tito better from his hilarious standup and sketch comedy, his work for language preservation, and his performances with other NDN comedy groups like the 1491s.

One of the ways we can hold the line against Enbridge is to help keep Tito fed and his bills paid. If you haven't bought his comedy DVD, please do so! Tito releases lots of his comedy for free on YouTube, and you can see some of his videos on his website. But the DVD consists completely of exclusive material that is not available anywhere else. We need to support the artists in our communities, and by buying Tito's DVD (and extras as presents for friends!) you are helping fund the resistance.

You can make the appropriators buy it, too. Tell them they will learn NDN SEEKRITS if they watch this. Then they can see Tito satirize the ceremony-sellers! Cultural preservation, yeah!


Tito is also posting updates from the blockade and live-streaming when possible, so by helping him stay we are also keeping someone media-savvy there to tell the world what is going on.

You can also donate directly to the camp via this site: Enbridge Blockade - Nizhawendaamin Indaakiminaan - We Love Our Land

Or via snail mail:

We Love Our Land
c/o Tito Ybarra
P.O. Box 41
Leonard, Minnesota

They could use wool socks, hand warmers, firewood, AA and AAA batteries, camping gear for staying warm, pans and utensils for cooking over an open fire or campstove, etc.

Tito tends the fire through the night. We love Tito.
Photo by Jenna Pope

Friday, January 18, 2013

Breath of Life: The Triple Flame of Brigid - New Article from Gaol Naofa

As noted when we announced our website relaunch, we at Gaol Naofa have a number of writing projects in the works, which were not quite ready when we relaunched the site, but that we will be releasing over the next few months and years. Here is one of them:

Breath of Life: The Triple Flame of Brigid

In Gaol Naofa, our Gaelic Polytheist community, we recognize and honour multiple manifestations of the Flame of Brigid. Based in the Old Irish lore, in the wisdom found in the living Gaelic traditions, (i.e., the folkloric customs, songs, tales and beliefs found in the areas where Gaelic, Irish and Manx are still spoken, and where these traditions have been handed down most faithfully) and what we have found in our own experiences, we see her sacred flame as threefold, and illustrated as either three flames rising from a cauldron, or as three concentric circles:

1. The sacred, cloistered flame which is tended by women only.

2. The hearth flame, which is tended by the bean a tighe ('mistress of the house') or fear an tighe ('man of the house') who kindles the household flame and repeats prayers and blessings over it for the protection and well-being of their family, as well as petitioning Brigid on behalf of the family.

3. The community, festival flame which is lit by whichever individual or group is appropriate for that particular ceremony or gathering.

Each flame of Brigid is also a center in and of itself: The festival flame is the center of a ceremony, the hearth flame the center of a household and family, and the cloistered flame the center of a shrine and community. Fire's ability to create, destroy, transform and inspire has always fascinated the Gaels and we perceive it to be something divine and otherworldly. In reconstructed, Gaelic Polytheistic cosmology, fire is perceived to be the center of land, sea and sky: a source of inspiration (imbas), a place where we commune with one another, and where we speak, and listen, to the deities, ancestors, and spirits of nature.


Brigit búadach, Lethan breo. Brigit búadach, Bethad beo.