Monday, December 22, 2008

Gormley Heckled at Brú na Bóinne

Irish Environment Minister John Gormley attended the Winter Solstice illumination at Newgrange... and was heckled.
Environment Minister John Gormley -- one of 19 VIPs and lottery winners allowed entry to the Neolithic chamber -- didn't get the blame for the sun failing to shine at the ancient Co Meath site. But the Green Party leader was heckled over his failure to reroute the M3 motorway from historic cultural sites at the Tara and Skryne Valley.

"When you come out Minister John Gormley, will your hands be untied?" shouted Heather Buchanan, from Co Meath. "He talks about sacred land but he doesn't practise what he preaches. I want to know what his intentions are going into the chamber, what does he hope to achieve by entering the chamber? What does he feel coming out of the chamber, I'd love to know, I'm sure the whole nation would love to know that."

And from TaraWatch:
This is the man whose party campaigned vigorously for the protection of the Hill of Tara, and then said he had no power to change the M3 motorway, when he got elected and appointed Minister, by Bertie Ahern.

Some attendees felt the confrontation of Gormley by other participants was disruptive to the ceremony. Others felt strongly that Gormley's entry into the sacred site, after so letting down the campaign for Tara, was the true desecration.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And in Gaelic news...

Petition to make BBC Alba available via Freeview

Sign the petition if you want to be able to watch the Scottish Gaelic TV channel via Freeview, or if you just want to make the channel available to more people, period. At present, access to the channel is limited according to your geographical location, or whether you have access to Sky TV.

(repost from Debs at Living Tradition)

And on the other side of the pond, Liam Ó Caiside has started a blog for the US National Mòd: A’ Seinn Còmhla
The Blog of the U.S. National Mòd: Celebrating Scottish Gaelic Song, Music, Language & Culture.

Moran Taing, a Liam!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Day of Mourning - Thursday, November 27, 2008

United American Indians of New England
284 Amory St.
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 522-6626

E-mail: info@uaine.org
Website:http://www.uaine.org

ORIENTATION FOR 2008 NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING


WHAT IS NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING?

An annual tradition since 1970, Day of Mourning is a solemn, spiritual and highly political day. Many of us fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon of that day (and have a social after Day of Mourning so that participants in DOM can break their fasts). We are mourning our ancestors and the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. NDOM is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in political action. Over the years, participants in Day of Mourning have buried Plymouth Rock a number of times, boarded the Mayflower replica, and placed ku klux klan sheets on the statue of William Bradford, etc.

WHEN AND WHERE IS DAY OF MOURNING?

Thursday, November 27, 2008 (U.S. "thanksgiving" day) at Cole's Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 12 noon SHARP. Cole's Hill is the hill above Plymouth Rock in the Plymouth historic waterfront area.

WILL THERE BE A MARCH?

There will be a march through the historic district of Plymouth. Plymouth has agreed, as part of the settlement of 10/19/98, that UAINE may march on Day of Mourning without the need for a permit as long as we give the town advance notice.

PROGRAM: Although we very much welcome our non-Native supporters to stand with us, it is a day when only Native people speak about our history and the struggles that are taking place throughout the Americas. Speakers will be by invitation only. This year's NDOM is once again dedicated to our brother Leonard Peltier.

SOCIAL: We hope there will be a pot-luck social held after the National Day of Mourning speak-out and march this year. Please check back to the website to confirm. We anticipate that the hall may not be large enough to seat everyone at once. We may have to do two seatings. Preference for the first seating will be given to Elders, young children and their mother/caretaker, pregnant women, Disabled people, and people who have traveled a long distance to join National Day of Mourning. Please respect our culture and our wish to ensure that these guests will be the first to be able to sit and eat. With this understanding in mind, please bring non-alcoholic beverages, desserts, fresh fruit & vegetables, and pre-cooked items (turkeys, hams, stuffing, vegetables, casseroles, rice & beans, etc.) that can be easily re-warmed at the social hall prior to the social. Thank you.

TRANSPORTATION: Limited carpool transportation may be available from Boston. Contact the Boston International Action Center at (617) 522-6626.

There is transportation from New York City via the International Action Center, for more information call 212-633-6646.

DIRECTIONS: National Day of Mourning is held by the statue of Massasoit at Cole's Hill. Cole's Hill is the hill rising above Plymouth Rock on the Plymouth waterfront. If you need directions, use Water Street and Leyden Street in Plymouth, MA as your destination at mapquest.com. That will bring you to within a few hundred feet of Plymouth Rock and Cole's Hill. You can probably find a place to park down on Water Street.

Donations: Monetary donations are gratefully accepted. Please make checks payable to the Metacom Education Project and mail to
Metacom Education Project/UAINE at 284 Amory Street, Boston, MA 02130.

*** *** ***


Videos from last year's protest:



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Blizzard Followup

Here's a bulletin from Save Our Tribal Youth (S.O.T.Y.) with a concrete way to help some of those hard-hit by the blizzard:

Many of you are aware of the severe blizzard that just past over South Dakota leaving much of the state and especially isolated reservations without power and ability to travel due to snow drifts of several feet high.

Residents are asking for help in many ways with heat, food, basic needs and warm clothing.

Here is a quick and direct way you can get help to them. Cangleska Inc. is a women & children's shelter on Pine Ridge Reservation that houses moms and their kids who are in domestic violence situations and/or have become recently homeless. One of our sponsored families who suffered a fire is now in shelter.

They are asking for items for winter and for the upcoming Christmas holiday. MANY children will receive nothing at all. Most families do celebrate this holiday. Every child wants to receive a gift on Christmas day. Especially those in shelters who generally are forced to leave their homes suddenly with only what they are wearing.
You can help!!

Cangleska Shelter is asking for (NEW) blankets, coats of all sizes (infant to large teens), NEW foot gear such as winter boots and sturdy athletic shoes, diapers, formula, non-perishable baby foots, cereals, powdered milk, etc.

If you have the ability and can find it in your heart, please send a new unwrapped toy (such as an art-type item ((crayons, paints & paper, art kits)) and other suitable gifts that don't require batteries or additional items to Cangleska to help with their holiday gift program for the kids. Teens could use winter clothing and age appropriate books or scientific non-battery operated game.

Please send all items directly to the shelter -- they will know how best to distribute them to their residents and in their community outreach program.

We thank you for your help and assistance.
Below are addresses you can send things via UPS, Fed-Ex or postal service:

Please let them know you heard about them from Save Our Tribal Youth - we have begun working with them to help.
Thank you!

Via UPS or FedEx Ground: (FED EX AND UPS WON'T SHIP TO PO BOXES)
Cangleska, Inc.
1 Cangleska Road
Kyle, SD 57752

VIA US MAIL - POSTAL SERVICE
Cangleska, Inc.
P.O. Box 638
Kyle, SD 57752

PILAMAYA!
S.O.T.Y.



ETA: SOTY also has PayPal for donations on their website, and has other programs for sponsoring children and youth in need: http://www.saveourtribalyouth.com/

Blizzard Slams the Black Hills, Reservations Hard-Hit

From Save the Sacred Sites Alliance

On Wednesday afternoon, areas of Western South Dakota were slammed with a major blizzard that lasted thru Thursday. The storm left thousands of people stranded and without power and heating. Winds were clocked at 105 miles per hour in some areas and remained at 60-80 mph throughout the 24 hour period. Areas of the Black Hills had snow drifts of over 20 feet in some areas. Record amounts of snowfall for one day, fell in the Hills. Temperatures with the wind chill were just above zero.


Many of the rez's were also hit hard including Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River and no word about Standing Rock, or others further east as of yet. There are still hundreds of people on the rez's without power and heating and many roads still un-plowed.


The frustrating part is, the media gave us no warnings in the days prior, about this blizzard. They kept referring to 2-3 inches of snow on Thursday, nothing about a blizzard until it was already upon us and to late. This left people completely unprepared for what was to come. With the proper warning, folks could have gotten out of the countryside and into town until it was over.


My power was out for almost three days, my house was 45 degrees. Luckily enough in my case, power was restored this morning. However, there are elders and folks with small children on the rez's that endured this cold and still are. Some elderly that are on oxygen and/or dialysis, were having to go without because of no power and no way to travel.


Read the rest of the Bulletin

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Launch of BBC Alba

BBC Alba, television companion to Radio nan Gàidheal, kicked off in September with a broadcast of a version of Runrig's song, Alba, sung by a number of Gaelic singers.



Like Radio nan Gàidheal, this will provide excellent opportunities for the learning, practicing, and preservation of the Gaelic language.

Moran Taing to Debs at Living Tradition for passing this one along.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Anti-Semite on the Beaver's Head

So, Mel Gibson is filming a movie here. Unfortunately, they're building sets up on Mt. Sugarloaf.

Despite it having a bit of development up there already (a simple road, a couple parking lots, a picnic area and an observation tower) the site is sacred to the first peoples of this area, and many of us who live here now acknowledge the mountains and their role in the local creation/destruction legends. So some of us are pretty disgruntled they're building stuff and trucking in equipment up there.

Some folks protested the other day, but the coverage didn't mention the sacred site angle.

Any local folks want to protest this with us? I'm not too sure what the upcoming shooting schedule is, but I'll bet we could find out without too much trouble.

Update on Plymouth Protests against White Ego Fraud

Hartman has posted about his experience confronting White Ego Fraud (Rachel Holzwarth) last spring in Plymouth.

Hartman is one of the protesters who was attacked, pepper-sprayed and arrested, and the one whose blood Ego (Vampire) Fraud stole and rubbed on her drum.

It's good to hear more details on what happened. Other good news is that the case has been continued without finding, with no time served and no guilty verdicts.

Though the protestor's aim of destroying the drum was not achieved at that action, I think it was the brutality shown by the cops and the "peaceful" nuagers, as well as Ego Fraud's chilling blood incident, that really got the ball rolling on this. Hartman and his crew are my heroes for their bravery that day, and I'm relieved they haven't had to serve any time for it.

Thanks to their confrontation, word and outrage spread, so it was a success.

May it continue to spread, till the bloody fraud drum is destroyed and Holzwarth is forced to find a new career.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Bureau of Caucasian Affairs

THE BUREAU OF CAUCASIAN AFFAIRS

by Lehman Brightman, President of U.N.A.

United Native Americans is proud to announce that it has purchased the state of California from the whites and is throwing it open for Indian settlement.

UNA bought California from three winos found wandering in San Francisco. UNA decided the winos were the spokesmen for the white people of California. These winos promptly signed the treaty, which was written in the Lakota language, and sold California for three bottles of wine, one bottle of gin, and four cases of beer.

Lehman L. Brightman, the Commissioner of Caucasian Affairs, has announced the following new policies: The Indians hereby give the whites four large reservations of ten acres each at the following locations: Death Valley, The Utah Salt Flats, The Badlands of South Dakota, and the Yukon in Alaska. These reservations shall belong to the whites "for as long as the sun shines or the grass grows" (or until the Indians want it back).

All land on the reservations, of course, will be held in trust for the whites by the Bureau of Caucasian Affairs, and any white who wants to use his land in any way must secure permission from Commissioner Brightman.

Of course, whites will be allowed to sell trades and handicrafts at stands by the highway. Each white will be provided annually with one blanket, one pair of tennis shoes, a supply of Spam, and a copy of 'The Life of Crazy Horse'.

If you are competent enough, you will be able to be a BCA reservation superintendent. Applicants must have less than one year of education, must not speak English, must have an authoritarian personality, proof of dishonesty, and a certificate of incompetence. No whites need apply.

Commissioner Brightman also announced the founding of four boarding schools, to which white youngsters will be sent at the age of six (6). "We want to take those kids far away from the backward culture of their parents," he said. The schools will be located on Alcatraz Island, the Florida Everglades, Point Barrow Alaska, and Hong Kong. All courses will be taught in Indian languages, and there will be demerits for any child caught speaking English. All students arriving at the school will immediately be given IQ tests to determine their understanding of Indian language, spirituality and hunting skills.

Hospitals will be established for the reservations as follows: Whites at Death Valley may go to the Bangor, Maine Hospital; those at the Utah Salt Flats may go to the Juneau, Alaska Hospital; those at the Yukon may go to the Miami Beach Hospital; and those at the Badlands may go to the Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. Each hospital will have a staff of two part-time doctors and a part-time chiropractor who have all passed first aid tests. And each hospital will be equipped with a scalpel, a jack knife, a saw, a modern tourniquet, and a large bottle of aspirin.

In honor of the whites, many cities, street cars, sports teams and products will be given traditional white names.

One famous Indian movie director has even announced that in his upcoming film, 'Custer's Last Stand', he will use many actual whites to play the parts of the soldiers, speaking real English. But of course, the part of Custer will be played by noted Indian actor Jay Silverheels.

Certain barbaric white customs will, of course, not be allowed. Whites will not be allowed to practice their heathen religions, and will be required to attend Indian ceremonies. Missionaries will be sent from each Indian Nation to convert the whites on the reservations. White churches will either be made into amusement parks or museums, or they will be torn down and the bricks and ornaments sold as novelties, souvenirs and curiosities.


Hope everyone found some way to protest today.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Warriors and Wolf Maidens

In Indigenous Feminism and Cultural Appropriation, Jessica Yee takes on the frustrations of trying to define an Indigenous feminism that supports strength and power vs "preciousness", while struggling with both the racism of the mainstream feminist movements and the sexism of many of the cultural groups.

Good read. Excellent challenging of the stereotypes and misconceptions that abound on both (all) sides of the issues.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Graves Desecrated, Ancestors Remains in Boxes on Shelves

From Irish Indymedia:

Tara Campaigners worldwide are supporting a petition to the Irish Government calling on them to re-inter the remains of individuals whose graves have been desecrated by the ongoing construction of the M3 Motorway in the Gabhra Valley near the historic Hill of Tara in Co. Meath. The petition went live on Saturday 19th July.

Campaigners demand that the ancient remains be reburied in a dignified manner and as closely as possible to the ceremonial layout of the original graveyards. It is estimated that over 60 bodies were disturbed and removed from the Collierstown site and over 27 from Ardsallagh to make way for the double-tolled M3 Motorway. Over the last 15 years of the Celtic Tiger, thousands of bodies have been removed from the earth and stored in warehouses.

The Gabhra Valley is the putative site of the last battle of the Fianna in 284 A.D. and they were said to be buried where they fell along with Cairpre Lifechair king of Tara son of Cormac mac Airt.

Full Story, with pictures of desecrated graves...

Sign the Petition

Monday, June 30, 2008

"My findings on Tara were altered," says archaeologist

Why, oh why, am I not surprised...

My findings on Tara were altered, says archaeologist
Irish Mail on Sunday - 29 June 2008 - By Luke Byrne

A LEADING archaeologist employed to survey the M3 Tara Valley route has claimed her findings were changed to support the motorway when in fact there was evidence against it. In a devastating attack, Jo Ronayne - who was working for the National Roads Authority - says her findings were altered before being presented to ministers. Miss Ronayne, who was an excavation director at the Tara valley site in Co. Meath, claims she was told to 'change interpretations' so as to 'lessen to potential of numbers of sites'. And she says she was excluded from NRA meetings in which her evidence was altered before reports were passed on to the Government.

The damning allegations will shatter the Governments defence that it would not change the Tara route because there is no significant archaeological site on it. And it will lead to disturbing questions about whether ministers - and in turn the public or even the courts - were misled about the archaeological finds.Miss Ronayne, who was directly employed by NRA subcontractor Irish Archaeological Consultancy Ltd, suggests in an explosive academic article that her role appeared to have been a sham. 'I didn't realise that the testing and my reports would be used to facilitate rather than stop the project going ahead. Or that they don't let you write the truth in the reports or give you enough time to do a proper job,' she wrote.


Read the full story, and a press release from TaraWatch

And if you haven't signed the new petition yet... you can read more about it here.

Tara: Voices from Our Past

A short film that examines some of the lesser-known earthworks in the complex surrounding the main site, and compares the stonecarvings in the Mound of the Hostages to the map of the area. Includes footage from one of the vigil camps.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

TEMATOETECOMO!

Or, Raven's and my KILLYOUANDEATYOU! article, in Portuguese:

TEMATOETECOMO!

Would you believe, we have Celtic Reconstructionists in Brazil. This is the third piece of mine that's been translated into Portuguese.

This has been Multilingual Celts: Part One. Stay tuned for more. ;-)

Put down the fake chanupa...

... and back away slowly.

Because Graham Greene is armed and dangerous!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is your grandmother’s skull in a box in a stranger’s closet?

The University of Michigan has the remains of about 1,400 Native Americans, as well as thousands of funerary objects. So far they have refused to return the already-studied and cataloged remains, or the sacred objects, to these people's surviving descendants and communities. Ancestors whose bodies and ritual objects deserve to be treated with respect have had their remains scrawled on with pens and are now gathering dust in the storerooms of the University campus. Check out the video below for more info.







Help our ancestors - sign the petition to bring them home:
http://www.petitiononline.com/remains/petition.html

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Turning Point : Third Point : Gateway

Thoughts on the history of Celtic Reconstructionism and Gaelic Polytheism, 1985 - 2008

Recent heated discussions in the online Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) communities have brought to the fore some issues central to who we are as a community and a movement. Veterans of any sort of social, religious or spiritual movement, or students of history, may see some common patterns here:

◊ Something starts out small and controlled. Doesn’t mean anyone is particularly trying to “control” it – usually there’s no one outside the movement who would perceive the group’s efforts at self-definition as anything but that: self-definition.

◊ After a period of time, the movement becomes popularised. It moves beyond the realm of the small handful of people who’ve developed and defined it, into something that a larger group of people identify with.

◊ Once a large group of people identify with it, they are also invested in helping define it, and in making sure that the movement reflects their individual personal experiences and goals.

At this point, the people who initially developed the movement, and those who popularised it, can have a variety of responses, often determined by personal temperament as well as how much of their time, work and identity they have invested in the tradition. This turning point has happened with other traditions such as Wicca and Asatru, and it is now happening with CR. Opposing viewpoints are clashing… but also, a gateway is opening.

Where we've been, where we are, where we may be going

Whether you pinpoint the birth of the Celtic Reconstructionist movement to the early discussions and rituals with our groups in the mid-1980’s; or to Imbolc of 1992 when I first published some explanation of what we'd been doing1 and, in the next issue of the same magazine, Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann agreed with me and mentioned the term we'd been using for this ("Celtic reconstructionist")2 – leading to exposure in the community at large; or to a few years later when the development of the World Wide Web led to much wider exposure and successive waves of new people coming in from the midwest and west coast; CR is now either a young adult or a teenager. I personally put the “birthtime” of CR in a liminal zone – somewhere in between the proto-CR rituals and discussions among my groups and friends in the mid-'80s and the time when we began to speak of it to a larger audience (late '80s and early '90s) and it grew beyond a handful of us. Either way, the birth was not one moment in time; it was a process of streams converging until something new emerged.

CR did not emerge fully-formed from anyone’s head. It was a process of collaboration and experimentation. As a living tradition, that journey is never-ending. Yet at the same time there have been a series of turning points. This is one of them.

We are going through a growth process similar to adolescence – some surges forward are happening, internal conflicts are arising, and some factions are splitting off. This is a natural process, and one I feel we’d be better to name and accept rather than try to control.

I realize that some observers of, and participants in, the recent discussions probably see me as one of the people who is trying to be too controlling. Let me say this: For everyone, there is their first few years of CR – where they explore it, see how it does or doesn’t match up with their life, decide whether it is for them, decide whether they need to make any personal changes (or whether they should try to change the tradition to better suit them, which is problematic, but some have been trying to do that...). My first years of CR consisted of a handful of people hanging out in my living room, or talking around the coffee at Pagan gatherings, or doing ritual experiments in the woods. Again, all of this happening with just a small handful of close friends. For years, whenever we tried to talk to others in the Pagan community, they didn't know what we were talking about or why we'd want to do such an odd thing. We were outsiders to the Pagan community. After Kym, Paul and I started sharing what we were doing with a larger audience, via our writings in the Pagan zines and Paul's and my early writings online, more people picked up on the name and some of the ideas. I was surprised people picked up on our terminology, as "Celtic Reconstructionism" is an awkward name, but it happened. In the early years of expansion I think we were so happy to find others who were interested in any degree of authenticity, or doing what might be similar things, that we got along well; either most of us agreed on the core principles and goals of the movement, or I believed that we agreed. Starting from these small and very personal beginnings... this is the reason I have an attachment to what CR means, and what CR is. I am not its only mother, but I think it’s understandable that at times I feel like it’s my baby.

Our baby is now a boisterous adolescent, and it often hates its parents more than anything else in the world.

Mathematically, we have reached a point where there are too many people who identify with the term “Celtic Reconstructionist” for us all to agree about what we believe, what we practice, what our boundaries are and, at times, even what the words “Celtic Reconstructionist” mean. Conversations of self-definition that happened decades ago, that I thought everyone was clear on, are being repeated recently and it’s all a bit surreal to me. Yet at the same time, I know this is natural in the growth process of a movement. I don't necessarily like it, but I know it's natural.

To backtrack a bit: After more people got online in the 1990s, many more people were drawn to CR than we had ever foreseen. But very quickly, this new influx turned the fledgling CR forums into places I did not want to be. We almost instantly switched over from arguing with the Wiccans who swore Wicca was Celtic, to creepy fights with newcomers who just wanted to yell about who had read the most books, and never discuss spiritual practices. I suspected most of these newcomers didn’t even have spiritual practices. I was disgusted, and I left all those forums for a few years. I considered no longer calling myself CR. I went back to just working with my in-person group and developing our own CR traditions – Nigheanan nan Cailleachan, agus Ora nam Bandia.

In 2003, Kym got a handful of the old guard to join the brand-new cr_r forum on Livejournal. I was skeptical, but I agreed to try. We dedicated ourselves to discussing actual practices, and a group of us got together to write the CR Essay. The CR Essay was written by whomever wanted to participate, which wound up being about a dozen people, and a handful of us did most of the writing. There are things I would change about that essay, as some of the phrasing was either too vague, or in more Neopagan terms, as opposed to terms more suited to discussions of traditional cultures. But we were writing it as something to post on WitchVox, so we oriented towards that audience.3

Three years later, a slightly different group of us got together to write The CR FAQ, and we vetted all the answers with anyone who chose to participate on cr_r. Like with the CR Essay, we advertised it on all the major lists, and welcomed input. Those with a lot of input were invited to join the core group writing the text on the CeltiWiki. After the fact, some people complained that they weren’t invited, but we chose to invite those who were already contributing writing of some sort in the community – at the very least message board posts with some content to them, on one of the major forums. At this point, it was harder to work together, as there were already some pretty serious differences of opinion among a number of the contributors. But, with struggle and perseverance, we managed to come to consensus on some basic principles, despite our differences.

That moment is gone, and will not come again.

As noted earlier, the number of people who self-identify as Celtic Reconstructionists is now far too big for every one of us to completely agree on who does and doesn't fit under the CR umbrella. We all have our opinions; we all believe we are right. Contrary to what recent events may have led some to believe, I don’t enjoy arguing about these things. I never have. I do it when I feel it needs to be done, for I am protective of those people and principles to whom and which I am committed. Some may feel I am overly protective of CR, but I hope that what I have touched on about my background helps explain this, as well as possibly explain the behaviour of many of us who identify as CR (or any tradition or group or movement).

With the FAQ, we have the basic principles we agreed to. Undoubtedly, some will want to debate interpretations of those principles. I don’t expect everyone to agree.

We have reached the point where the adolescent has not only left home, but we have realized the adolescent is actually a loose conglomeration of different groups, individuals and traditions. At this point, we need to acknowledge that “Celtic Reconstructionism” or “Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism” is not only an umbrella term, but it’s become so big that, beyond the basics we’ve agreed to in the FAQ, it’s barely more precise than saying “I’m a Christian.” Or, "I'm Norse." What kind of CR are you? If you have a tradition, what is its name? Not the name someone else has come up with, but a name for your specific practice, which is a branch, or maybe a subset, or maybe an offshoot, of CR.

There is great power in naming. It is a spiritual journey that a group or individual needs to take to truly find their place, their identity, their spiritual power.

It’s time for those who are arguing about who gets to define or redefine CR to do some soul-searching, to look at the roots of their beliefs and practices, what those things are for them now, as well as where they are headed, and name it.

For me, naming the tradition “Celtic Reconstructionism” wasn’t the choice to name a tradition based on the above principles. I wish I could say it was, but the truth is, it happened by accident. I was just using descriptive terms for what we were doing, and had no idea they would be picked up and codified as a name for the tradition. If so, I would have suggested something far more poetic!4

After our initial sharing of basic CR concepts with the broader community, a small number of us continued to develop these ideas and practices in person and, through their writings in Pagan zines, Kym and Paul in particular did a lot to publicize these concepts to a broader audience. My part in the developmental work in that period was mainly in the ceremonial and trance-priestess department, along with Gaelic folkloric input from my family of origin, my background in comparative religion, and my years of experience as a ritual priestess. Paul and I are also to blame for people on the Internet being exposed to the name CR and our ideas behind it, as we had been online since 1985, and started posting about it online around the same time, first on the CompuServe Religion forums, then the GEnie Celts forum, Podsnet and, once it was begun in 1994, the early days of Nemeton-L.

For the first few, in-person years of my contributions to the movement, I didn’t think I’d read enough of the old Celtic texts to qualify as CR myself, even though I was one of the few people reviving, defining and building the Gaelic Polytheist traditions. As I was having success at finding things through metaphysical means, I actually felt at that time that it was a strength to not have my nose buried in the books, as I couldn't have my visions and inspirations biased by scholarly expectations. But as I studied more, I found that study of the lore helped my spiritual work, instead of interfering with it. As time passed I became more dedicated to the language work. This happened because I was visited by ancestors and deities in a series of key dreams. They spoke to me in Gaelic, so I had to learn Gaelic to understand what they wanted of me, to progress on the path, and to help build CR. I am still learning. It’s not easy. But you know what, it’s been the most rewarding thing for me. What is rewarding for you?

In an earlier post on cr_r, Paul Pigman spoke of how the language, music and folk practices that we preserve and continue forms the “bright cord of tradition” at the center of what we do, a link to our ancestors and Deities that transcends our individual lives and experiences. A couple others took exception, one even claiming the cord, if it exists at all, is "dingy." My question is: if you haven’t found that bright cord at the center of your spiritual practice, why are you doing it? And if that bright cord isn’t of a specific Celtic culture, why do you identify as CR?

I have named what we do Nigheanan nan Cailleachan,5 for my extended family, over multiple generations, has seen many times that we are Daughters of the Storm Hags. When we include the male members of the family, we are Clann nan Cailleachan – Children of the Storm Hags. In broader terms, our tradition is Ora nam Bandia - Song/Prayer of the Goddesses. In broader terms,  Ioma-Dhiadhachd Ghàidhealach / Ildiachas Gaelach - Gaelic Polytheism: As traditional as possible; reconstructing only when the earlier, polytheistic version of a practice has been fragmented; and rooted in the languages, music, and traditions of the living cultures.

Who are you?

Kathryn Price NicDhàna
April 30, 2008
Taigh na h-Aibhne


May be linked to, reposted or quoted as long as text is unaltered and the above attribution is included. Copyright ©2008 Kathryn Price NicDhàna.

crossposted

Notes
1. Theatana, Kathryn [K.P. NicDhàna] (1992) "More on Names", Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 3, Imbolc [Feb] 1992, pp. 11-12: "As time passes and I get to know the Goddesses more intimately, I've also had these same feelings of discomfort about white Neo-Pagans taking the names of major ancestral Goddesses like Rhiannon, Cerridwen or Danu - in this case it's more the hubris angle than the cultural ignorance/racism reason. ... My experience is that as we move to deeper and deeper levels with the Deities who guide us, They demand more and more of us. Often these demands include developing and/or reconstructing Their traditional forms of worship. (As in, you may be able to get a Deity to show up within a ritual structure foreign to Their cultural tradition, but it may not be what They want to work with over the long haul.)"

2. Lambert, Kym [K.L. ní Dhoireann] (1992) "Celtic God/Goddess Names", Harvest, Southboro, MA, Vol. 12, No. 4, Spring Equinox [March] 1992, pp. 11-12: "I'd like to add a couple of comments to Kathryn Theatana's letter in the Imbolc issue... Kathryn's 'digression' about the fact that '... you may be able to get a Deity to show up within a ritual structure foreign to Their cultural tradition, but it may not be what They want to work with over the long haul' is a good point. It is also one that is too often overlooked or misunderstood by a Pagan Community too focused on Wicca. ... There are lots of other Pagan religions, old and new. (By the way, I'm not Druidic either - I fall into that wholly unromantic sounding category of Celtic reconstructionist.) Like Kathryn I'm really glad to see these topics being discussed and hope the discussion continues. Perhaps it will lead to more understanding of non-Wiccan Pagans and more information about reconstructionist forms of Paganism."

3. I now regret having posted on a site with "Witch" in the name. But at that time it was the central networking site for contemporary Pagans, there were no alternative Polytheist sites, and some were concerned that if we did not post something there, that Wiccans or others with no connections to our communities would try to define it for us.


4. Varn, C.D. (2007) "An Interview with Kym Lambert", The Green Triangle, Jan. 2007: "It will always amaze me that this term, this path, has developed any sort of a following at all. When Kathryn NicDhàna, Paul Pigman and I were sitting among their books one night and Kathryn, we think, first uttered the term in the context of such a path, my thought was 'This is perfect, it's so unromantic and cumbersome that no one else will want use it!' (this being around '90 or '91 when there were huge fights about the titles 'Witch' and 'Druid')."

5. Grammatically, Nigheanan nan Cailleach and Clann nan Cailleach are more proper. We named the traditions when we were beginners at Gaelic, and I've tended to stick with this spelling to make sure people know we are talking about the Storm Hags and not just The Hag. Your mileage may vary :-)


Kathryn Price NicDhana
   
with some of the family at the waters. photo by laurie castonguay
 

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Haudenosaunee speak out on Rachel Holzwarth

Rachel Holzwarth

There are lots of frauds out there - self-proclaimed "spiritual leaders" who are using aspects of Native American ceremonies, against the wishes of those in the very communities they are stealing from. In the Gaelic and CR communities we are dealing with this when some white person decides they will justify their theft by calling it "Celtic", and hoping people are stupid enough to not know that the ceremonies and beliefs of the diverse Celtic Nations are different from those of the various First Nations. While some settle for the ugliness of painting a triskele on a fake Indian drum and doing their idea of a chanupa (pipe) ceremony, the really shameless have even gone so far as to publicly tack a mis-applied Gaelic (or other Celtic language) name on their idea of an Inipi or smudging ceremony, stupidly thinking that no one out there who is actually part of these cultures will notice. Though not always confronted in public, these people are being laughed at by those who speak the languages (Native American and Celtic languages).

Sometimes the theft gets so egregious that the laughter turns to anger, and people rise up and go public with it, despite the fact that many of these frauds have a number of Newage supporters. This has been happening more and more lately, and as Native American protesters and their supporters are getting more organized, the trend is going to continue. A recent example of this is the movement against Rachel Holzwarth, aka Suraj Holzwarth (sometimes her last name has also been spelled Holzworth). She has renamed herself "White Eagle Medicine Woman", despite these being titles one has to earn, from communities she has no legitimate connection to. She is traveling around, selling "prayerformances", at which she wears Indian regalia and claims to present a Seneca ceremony. She is not Seneca. This is what an actual Haudenosaunee has to say about it:


For more on Holzwarth, check out the very long and detailed thread on NAFPS, and the briefer MySpace page by one of the groups organizing protests. The MySpace page also includes more pictures and videos. So far the group has been successful in getting many of her engagements shut down. The ones that have not yet been canceled... if she attempts to proceed, the protests are being planned.

When she performed in Massachusetts, Wampanoag warriors and their supporters stood up to her. The confrontation became bloody when her security, and the cops they called, attacked the protestors. In an act of desecration, Holzwarth walked up to Hartman Deetz, one of the Wampanoag men beaten by the cops, who was lying in a pool of his own blood on the floor; Holzwarth rubbed her hands in his blood, then proceeded to rub his blood into the skin of her drum.

Maybe she did it so now she can say she "has Native blood." And for the first time it won't be a lie.

Oh, btw, when asked her ancestry she has given a variety of conflicting stories. She's claimed she's Seneca because... she dreamed she's Seneca. She has also said she's "Seneca and Celtic." Great. Just Great. Guess what Rachel, we don't want you either.

crossposted to Craobh Caorann

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Official Statement on Cherokee Spiritual Leaders

This is an official statement by Richard L. Allen. EdD, who is the Research & Policy Analyst for the Cherokee Nation. I am reposting it here (and over at the CAORANN board), because we still have the problem of people thinking that any person of American Indian ancestry, or who claims such ancestry, is somehow a representative or spiritual leader for a particular Nation, or indeed all Native Americans. Hopefully this will clear some of that up.
Greetings --

The Cherokee Nation is overwhelmed with those charlatans who fraudulently claim to be shaman, spiritual leaders or descendents of a Cherokee princess.

Such individuals make such claims without ever having lived within the Cherokee communities. They claim to be descended from some nebulous and mysterious ancestor who was from "a reservation in North Carolina" (there is only one) or "a reservation in Oklahoma" (there are none). The ancestor is never just a plain ordinary everyday Cherokee citizen but a "Cherokee Princess," a "Cherokee Shaman," or a "Cherokee Pipe carrier" none of which actually exist or ever have. Those who claim to be "shaman" do not reside within the known boundaries of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Cherokee medicine people and spiritual leaders are known to the Cherokee people and do not practice medicine for a fee nor sell "shamanic" lessons to anyone. They do not advertise their services through any form of media and certainly not over the internet.

Traditional Cherokee healers and spiritual leaders provide their services to the Cherokee people. A Cherokee medicine person or spiritual leader is fluent in the Cherokee language and would conduct any medical or spiritual practices by using the Cherokee language. Therefore, our medicine people are those who were born of a Cherokee mother and a Cherokee father and would have been reared within a Cherokee community speaking the Cherokee language. Our traditional Cherokee healers and spiritual leaders are humble people and would not present themselves as such nor "hang out a shingle" so to speak.

Cherokee medicine people are acknowledged and recognized by members of the Cherokee community as effective healers and leaders. It is the recognition of the Cherokee people that validates these persons as medicine people and healers not self-proclaimation. We may provide them small gifts, a token amount of money or foodstuffs in payment for their services. They do not charge for their services nor would they withhold their services when asked and they certainly would not prescibe payment by credit card.

Cherokee medicine people may provide services to recognized members of other tribes or may provide services to non-Indians who would seek them out for treatment, but certainly would not mix their spirituality or medicine with that of other nations.

Cherokee medicine and spiritual practices do not include tarot cards, palmistry, psychic readings or sweatlodge ceremonies.

One may assume that anyone claiming to be a Cherokee "shaman, spiritual healer, or pipe-carrier," is equivalent to a modern day medicine show and snake-oil vendor.

You have my permission to print this response as is.

Richard L. Allen. EdD
Research & Policy Analyst
Cherokee Nation
P.O. Box 948
Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74465

Additionally, if someone claims to be a spiritual leader, ask for details: who trained them, where are they from, and then contact their claimed tribe to check on their claims. If you don't know a respected member of that person's claimed Nation to ask, come over to the New Age Frauds and Plastic Shamans site and search from the main page of the forum to see if others have already discussed the person in question. Indian Country is a pretty small and interconnected place and, if the person is not already known to the community, it usually only takes a phone call or two to find out whether someone is legitimate. Even better, by learning some things about cultural protocols, you can learn to hone your own bs detector.

This video by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma also explains the problems of fake Cherokees and the dangers posed by fake tribes:


Cherokee Nation: What is a real Indian Nation? What is a fake tribe?

Visit the Cherokee Nation Taskforce

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Gaeilge online - conversations and music

I've posted some links and videos over on the LJ Págánacht community and another in my LJ. Should already be familiar to those who know about the Irish classes Liam Ó Maonlaí did for the Irish Independent, as well as his music in both Gaeilge and English.

Mostly I put the more personal things over there, but I figured some who read this blog may also appreciate the links.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Public Meeting about Tara

Sunday March 30th, 6PM
Cryans Bar, Main Street
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim



43 historical and archaeological sites have already been destroyed by the construction of the illegal M3 motorway.

The spiritual heart of Ireland, the core of early Irish history, mythology and sovereignty is disappearing forever under a motorway's concrete. Your heritage is being destroyed.

Our ancestors are being dug up.

Things are now at a critical stage.

Come to the meeting to learn more.

Lend your support to the Direct Action Campaign.

Camps on the Hill of Tara and at Rath Lugh need help urgently.

For more information see http://www.tarapixie.net

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NRA Move in Diggers as Gormley Exits Site

Press Release - Save Tara Campaign - Thu Mar 20, 2008


In a move described by protesters as ‘extremely provocative’ the National Roads Authority today breached the agreement reached with protesters last week by moving heavy machinery into the area at the base of the esker at Rath Lugh in Co. Meath.

The NRA are denying that any agreement was made with Lisa “Squeak” Feeney to cease all work in the area for a month. Lisa maintains that a written agreement was made with Kevin O’Rourke that included a month’s moratorium on any work in the area of Rath Lugh and its environs. Michael Egan of the NRA is reported as denying that this agreement exists.

'The NRA have proved themselves to be dishonest and underhand in breaching the agreement made for a moratorium on works in this area last week.' said Lisa Feeney of the Rath Rugh Direct Action Camp this morning.

Minister for Environment and Local Government John Gormley had just left the site at around 9.00am shortly before the diggers moved in. Minister Gormley had been advised by his officials not to visit the actual site of the controversial works. He was accompanied by members of his department and an archaeologist from the National Monument Service.

He was shown the maps and diagrams from the Golder Consultant's Report that recommended an engineered 'crib wall' to secure the esker area that forms the base of the monument at Rath Lugh.


Minister Gormley and his officials left the area at 9 am. At 9.30am three diggers arrived at the esker accompanied by 50-100 gardaí and construction workers. Three riot vans are currently is the area also. The woods at Rath Lugh are swarming with gardaí and security.

'It is an affront to democracy that the NRA, private security personnel and Gardaí should move against peaceful protectors in such an aggressive manner as soon as a Minister of the Government has the left the site and is unable to witness it.' said Michael Canney of the Campaign today.

more: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/86756

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Irish Voice covers Tara Preservation and CR


In the latest issue of The Irish Voice:

"Reconstructing Ireland at Home: Andrew Nusca provides a fascinating look at a sect of paganism as practiced by Celtic Reconstructionists here in the U.S."
- a full-page article in the 2008 St. Patrick's Day supplement, included in the Wed., March 12 - Tues., March 18, 2008 issue, on newsstands now. The Irish Voice is a weekly published in Manhattan and covers both Irish and Irish-American news.

The article is now also available on the Covering Religion website of the Columbia College School of Journalism.

The article is very pro-Tara and a positive portrayal of CR. Andrew Nusca interviewed a handful of us involved in the preservation efforts, and quotes two of us who are CR, along with quotes from a Wiccan of Irish heritage and a more secular activist from Dublin.

The issue also includes a letter from Maireid Sullivan addressing some things we can to do to keep Tara in people's awareness. Many Irish politicians are currently abroad, appearing at St. Pat's functions. She asks us all to bring up Tara with them, even if it's just yelling out, "Save Tara!" She also suggests that dancers put "Save Tara!" on their sashes, and that anyone performing or marching in parades fly banners, or wear T-shirts with these sentiments.

In Lisa Feeney news (she is the amazing young woman locked in the tunnel at Rath Lugh), last I heard she is in good spirits and holding out. The media attention from her risking her life for Tara has brought wide media coverage (Google "Lisa Feeney" and Tara or "Rath Lugh"), and yesterday about a hundred new protesters showed up at the site. Rath Lugha Abu! Tara Abu! Lisa Feeney Abu!

The Irish independent is running a poll about the situation at Rath Lugh: "M3 stand-off: Does it bother you that the building of the M3 may be affecting a site of archaeological importance?" The poll is down a bit past the middle of the main page, on the right.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Historical Importance of Rath Lugh...

... and its relevance to us now.


"One of the physical features in the area of the Gabhra Valley that they could have imagined as being the “great Rath” and commemorative mound of the dead Fianna is the present-day Rath Lugh."

from The Tara Skryne (Gabhra) Valley in Early Irish Literature
by Dr. Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin

As Dr. Ní Bhrolcháin explains in the linked article, it is sometimes difficult to find written references to Rath Lugh in the mythology. I tend to concur with her position that this is due to name shifts over the centuries, and that Rath Lugh (more correctly, "Rath Lugha") plays a crucial role in mythology, history and the current metaphysical lay of the land.

The current road plans intend to pave over at least one of the holy wells of Rath Lugh, and pave over or bulldoze into the tombs. The outer edge of the Rath and the forest around it have already been badly damaged. Anyone with the slightest interest in Irish history and Irish mythology must realize the importance of this sacred site, and protect it.

All Out Emergency - The Battle of Rath Lugh

Today the Gardaí stormed and dismantled the camp at Rath Lugh. Protestors say the Gardaí are being "vicious." At least three people have been arrested, two of them dragged down the unstable esker. Five more have cemented their arms to the fence. It is unclear whether they have cut off the power and, hence, the air supply to Squeak, the brave young woman we saw interviewed in the tunnel video.


Squeak on the ramparts at Rath Lugh, before entering the tunnels below the proposed roadway


The Gardaí and Road Crew first told the media they would not try to remove our warriors from the tunnels. But last update has the fire brigade arriving en masse. Squeak is now locked by the neck to the jack holding up the roof. If they attempt to pull her out, the tunnel will collapse. She may already be fighting for her life, if they have cut off her air supply. They are risking her life to build an illegal, unnecessary road that no one really wants. Either they don't understand, or they don't care, that Tara is important enough that these brave Irishwomen and Irishmen are willing to die to prevent further desecration to our sacred sites. Would they bulldoze Delphi to shave ten minutes off their commute?

Updates are coming in so quickly, I can hardly keep up. This is a very tense situation, a turning point in the campaign, a moment when probabilities and possibilities shift. Can we take advantage of this to save Tara and Rath Lugh? Get there if humanly possible (see my earlier posts for more on that). If you can't get there, please do whatever you can. Spread the word, send supplies, call and write, pray and work magic.

As usual, keep an eye on Irish IndyMedia (put "Tara" or "Rath Lugh" in the search box) and the activist lists, Sábháil Teamhair (Save Tara) and Hill of Tara. If you are in Ireland, you may have already seen the coverage on RTÉ news. If nothing else, this has finally motivated the mainstream media to get involved. Let's just hope it won't also take martyrdom to save the Tara Skryne.

Some stories so far today:
* All out Emergency - The Battle of Rath Lugh (Indymedia)
* Rath Lugh Front Line Eviction - Eviction in Progress (Indymedia)
* Injunction to stop Rath Lugh work refused (RTÉ)



Edited to Add: More from Indymedia
The situation 3 minutes ago
author Muireann Ni Bhrolchain publication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 14:53

A protester has been arrested - she has been released. She is not the same woman as that in the tunnel.
Straight from the protest site: things have calmed down. The Fire Brigade are well gone, will not make any attempt to remove the girl from the tunnel.
A tent will be erected at the entrance so that one other protester can communicate with her.
No effort was or will be made to remove her.
There are still 5 other people locked on with cement.
There is a small digger and steam roller as well as 18 jeeps at the site.
Nothing is driving on the esker.
They are tripping over media and cameras!
There are flood lights being brought in.
Court case being heard again at 2pm.


So, it looks like despite the hell the protesters have gone through today, due to the bravery of our tunnel pixies, we finally have mainstream media taking notice. Hopefully this will stall the illegal diggers and steamrollers long enough for the injunctions to finally be enforced.

More details from TaraPixie

In addition to the links in my previous post, I would also like to point readers to the rss feed for TaraPixie's Videos from the Front Lines. LiveJournal members can also subscribe to the syndicated feed on LJ.

Right now TaraPixie is usually the best source for the latest footage from the protesters struggling to hold the line against the road crews. Keep an eye on her other page here: http://www.livevideo.com/tarapixie for more suggestions on coming to the camp and supplies they need. Such as:

COME TO TARA AND JOIN THE PROTESTS

Show your support by being present at the sites. Any amount of time you can give is very welcome. Although some have, many protesters have experienced no violence from security or Gardai. But if you are not comfortable with direct action there are other things you can do; become a legal observer - This is a very responsible position as direct action is not a spectator sport. Bring your camcorder or camera. It is important to show our side of the story.

The Camp always needs food, financial, moral and spiritual support. We also need mobiles, car phone chargers, flasks, batteries, rain-proof clothing, chains and locks.


And again, the mailing address is:
Tara Solidarity Vigil
PO Box 30,
Navan,
Co. Meath,
Ireland


Phone numbers:
Vigil Phone: 086 1758 557 (Send a text and they will call you back)
Rath Lugh camp phone: o86 1537 146
another number: 086 3600 478

If you're calling from outside Ireland, you will need to look up your international calling code to key in before the number; the prefix will vary from country to country, and you may need to experiment a bit. For example, in America, the code you need to dial is 011 + 353 + number, and then you drop the first digit from the Ireland number.
So to call from America dial: 011 353 86 1758 557 (Vigil)
011 353 86 1537 146 (Rath Lugh)
or 011 353 86 3600 478

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Brilliance and Bravery at Rath Lugh

As bulldozers and chainsaws cut into the forest and hill of Rath Lugh - one of a number of ancient tombs and holy wells in peril due to the road work in the Tara-Skryne Valley - protesters have announced that they have dug tunnels under the proposed roadway, and are willing to risk their lives in defense of the land.

For months now our brave pixies have been digging in secret, carrying out buckets of earth under cover of night. They have stocked the tunnels with food and supplies, and are digging in for at least a three month stay.

The soil around Rath Lugh is loose stone and esker. If the road crew attempt to drive their heavy machinery over the land, the tunnels will collapse. One of the women, interviewed in the video below, explains that if the gardaí attempt to enter the tunnel, she will lock herself to the jack holding up the roof. If they then attempt to pull her out, the tunnel will most likely collapse on them all. The question is, will those who are pushing this illegal roadway through, despite the protection orders and 80 percent public disapproval in Ireland alone, have the guts to refuse to harm these human shields, or are they going to have more Rachel Corries on their heads?


Download slightly longer version of this video.

Video of protesters facing down a bulldozer, with a tiny bit of tunnel footage.

Even if the road-builders don't care about killing protesters, falling into a pit is probably going to damage the hell out of their precious machines.

I suggest that instead the Cabinet look to the alternative plan proposed by Brian Guckian and Tadhg Crowley, which would take the money earmarked for the illegal roadway and use it to revitalize the local rail sytem, widen the existing roads rather than build new ones, and fund local business and eco-friendly building solutions. It stands in stark contrast to the M3 plan, as the Guckian/Crowley proposal is the only one that takes a long-term view of the future and the realities of the Peak Oil and Global Warming situation: Sustainable Development Plan for Meath

More info on the protesters defending the earth from within the earth:

M3 motorway protesters claim to have entered tunnel under road
M3 Protesters warn Gardaí: Tunnel "Will collapse"
Tara protesters in for long haul

After viewing the video from inside the tunnels, you can see that what they could probably use besides money for supplies are things like wind up flashlights and radios, books to read, and other things that will help the folks in the tunnels and at the support camps. We have used this address and packages are getting out to the camp:

Tara Solidarity Vigil
PO Box 30,
Navan,
Co. Meath,
Ireland

If you can get to Rath Lugh, now is the time to go.

For more on the encampment at Rath Lugh, including current phone numbers and directions, visit http://www.tarapixie.net/, and watch for action updates on Irish Indymedia and the Sábháil Teamhair (Save Tara) and Hill of Tara YahooGroups.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pledge of the Goddess Community on Racism

A group of feminists have started a petition: Pledge of the Goddess Community on Racism. Reading the announcement over on Jason Pitzl-Waters' Wild Hunt blog, I was hoping, even assuming, this was something I could gladly sign on to. However, reading it left me with concerns.

While I applaud the intentions of the people who wrote this pledge, I won't be signing it, for a number of reasons. One reason is this statement:

"I pledge to include in Goddess conferences the indigenous people of the locality or territory where conferences are held, and to reference and honor their deities. That is, I myself will make every effort to invite speakers and participants of the people indigenous to the area and of other ethnic groups."


Unfortunately, and I assume this was not the intent of the authors, this statement (particularly, "I pledge to ... reference and honor their deities.") could easily be interpreted as encouraging cultural appropriation and tokenism. It's not appropriate for people not of a particular culture to "honor" those people by mimicking their rituals. And for whites to organize an event and then invite people from indigenous cultures to participate is essentially racist. For true cross-cultural, anti-racist participation and mutual respect, power has to be equally shared. If legitimate Indigenous groups want to co-organize an event with white Pagans, that is different. But the Indigenous people can't be treated like tokens or outsiders; they have to be in on the decision-making processes from the very beginning of the organizational process, not brought in as an afterthought to assuage the appearance of racism. Their standards have to be respected, and the gathering has to also serve the people of their communities, not just white people.

Too many times I've seen these sorts of intentions wind up in a sole Native or African person being invited to basically perform for white people. That is tokenism.

Which brings us to who is a "legitimate" representative. White Pagans often have trouble understanding this, but traditional communities have recognized leaders and elders, and set protocols about how to handle things. Joe Indigenous who you met in a bar in Flagstaff is probably in no position to make official statements for anyone but himself. A person from one Nation has no authority over practices from a different Nation. You have to look to the traditional, authorized leaders and elders in that specific community. If in doubt, call the tribal offices and ask them. Most of them have websites now.

I also fear that some of the things in this "Pledge on Racism" will encourage frauds and shameons to volunteer, and that the white Pagans, so happy to have their white guilt assuaged, will not do the groundwork to figure out if the person who has volunteered is actually in a position to represent their Nation. This especially happens when an unethical person of Indian ancestry (or who can pass as one) decides to exploit the ignorant white people. Yup, just because they're Native doesn't mean they're a leader among their people.

As far as Celtic Reconstructionism goes, yes, if you are not already a part of the living cultures, you have to find your way back. This starts by listening and being an ally to those who are part of the living cultures, and having patience. Study is part of it, and personal and group spiritual practice, but it is also about cultural identity. Being CR is not about just reading some Celtic books, it's about identity, immersion, and how you live your life. Some CRs start with only distant ancestry, others with more of a cultural connection. But the idea is to preserve what we can of the living cultures, while fleshing out the polytheistic aspects that have been neglected. It's not about eclecticism or making stuff up. I sometimes worry about those who are only looking to the "older", fragmented things from the very distant past, because in some cases I think they are trying to avoid accountability to anyone but the voices in their heads.

And while the whole "blood" thing is sort of a taboo thing to discuss, it actually means a lot to most traditional Native Americans. The elders and other traditionals I've asked, of a handful of Nations, have all agreed that first we have to honor our own ancestors. A number of white people have said that we have to "honor" the ways of those who are indigenous to the areas where we live (by mimicking them); however, when I've asked the living, Indigenous people who have maintained these ways, they have all found that attitude very odd, laughable even, and said it's our own ancestors we have to honor, that it's the ways of our ancestors we are meant to follow.

If someone believes that a deity or spirit of a culture of which they are not a part has shown up to talk to them, if they are truly committed to following up on that contact, I believe it is their duty to approach that culture on it's own terms, if the traditionals will have them. But usually when I hear this from white Pagans, they don't want to do any such thing. They usually want to be the one to set the terms. They aren't interested in being true, long-term allies to traditional Indigenous peoples. They want to just read some books written by outsiders and try to integrate the bits they like about that spirit or culture into their lives. That's not honoring, that's appropriation.

Anyway, I know that at least some of those who have signed this pledge know these things, so I'm a bit surprised they signed it with that wording. Again, I applaud the intent, but something like that needs to be better thought-out before being put out for signatories.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Writing to John Gormley

An excerpt from my most recent letter to Irish Minister for the Environment, John Gormley:

Whether or not one cares about Irish history, the traditions and beliefs of our ancestors, or the spiritual lives of those who value these ancient sites and the tourism dollars they bring in, given the Peak Oil situation, it seems foolish to me to be sinking this much money into a superhighway. The more viable solution to the commuting problem would be to put money into the railways, and to encourage local businesses to create jobs in the outlying areas. While I understand how prohibitive it is to live in the city, given the housing costs, before long people who live further out will not have the money for the gasoline to make the commute.

I believe it is essential we think long-term here. Not only about the past, but about the future.


If you would also like to chat with Minister John Gormley, he can be reached at:

E-mail: minister@environ.ie

Phone: 01 888 2403

More musings on Tara

As a Celtic Reconstructionist, I have dedicated myself to putting together the pieces of what remains of our religious heritage, as well as preserving what still lives. Therefore, the destruction of precious sites in the Tara-Skryne Valley upsets me deeply.

We should not be allowing any more destruction. Period. We shouldn't be left having to once again reconstruct something that could have been preserved.

These archaeological sites and ancient ritual centers tell us a great deal about the religious beliefs of our ancestors. On a more mystical level, they give us a place where we can tangibly connect with the spirits, deities and energies that inspired our ancestors, and that inspire us now. We are part of the land. When we destroy these sacred sites, we destroy a piece of our souls.

Such a big problem with Americans, which I believe leads many of them to behave irresponsibly on the world stage, is how rootless they feel. For Irish Americans, for Irish citizens, for all those in the Irish diaspora who care about our history, about our ancestors: Don't let any more of our history and traditions be destroyed.

It seems our best defense right now is the Archaeological study. If you don't have the resources to get over to Tara, I'd suggest helping fund the study. Even if you can get there to block the chainsaws and diggers, they are listening to the Archaeologists who show up, more than to the normal people chained to bulldozers. I've added a link to their PayPal page on paganachd.com, and will repeat it here:

TaraWatch has opened a PayPal account for the sole purpose of raising money to pay for a professional, independent archaeological consultancy company to assess the 38 sites being excavated between Navan and Dunshaughlin, and to assess the impact of the proposed M3 motorway at the Hill of Tara. The report is needed for the petitions to the European Union, World Monuments Fund, Coillte and other official bodies. This may be our best and last chance at stopping the destruction of our heritage, and the graves of our ancestors, at Tara.

This is an emergency situation, with sites being desecrated as we write this. Time is of the essence. If you've ever wanted to do anything for the sacred sites in Ireland, now is the time to act.

Donate to the Archaeological Fund

Friday, February 22, 2008

Situation at Tara is Escalating

Message from Camps, received from Carmel today, Thu Feb 21, 2008:

Digger and chainsaw gang near Souterrain at Lismullin. Urgent callout for people, experts, media.

Actions are continuing to happen on site, at consulates, and at court when protestors are arrested. As usual, bodies are needed on the line.

I try to update periodically but the most up to date news is generally posted first to Irish Indymedia and the TaraWatch listserve.

Another update:

Statement From Rath Lugh and Vigil Camps
Thu Feb 21, 2008 15:52

One of the Sousterrains at Lismullin on the banks of the Gabhra River is in immediate danger today. Construction workers are in the process of felling the trees on the mound above the sousterrain.

Conservationists and members of the public have been gathering at Lismullin Woods today in protest, trying to stop the work which has been deemed illegal by the EU Commission.

Alarmingly there has been no archaeology done on this sousterrain either by NRA or Independent Arcaheologists.
This is one of a possible 6 underground stone structures within 150m of the newly discovered Henge at Lismullin which was handed over to Siac/Ferrovial , the construction companies in late 2007.

This is yet another example of the underhand tactics being used to destroy the physical proof of why the Tara Valley should be protected.Without Archaeological documentation these monuments will never be understood as part of the Tara Landscape.

We call on all those who are opposed to the destruction of the Gabhra Valley to stand now and be counted. Activists and supporters needed URGENTLY henceforth.

Contact Rath Lugh:
0861537146

Vigil:
0861758557

Picture courtesy Michael Martin at TaraWatch
One of areas of site currently under attack. Photo courtesy Michael Martin at Tarawatch

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Indigenous Holocaust Denial

Swedish TV, which declined to air the award-winning documentary, Spirits for Sale, is now instead repeatedly airing the film Historiens fångar ("Prisoners of the Past"), a propaganda piece consisting of an hour of relentless paternalism, offensive stereotypes, and racism both subtle and blatant. The central premise of this ugly, inconsistent piece of work is that indigenous people are having social and economic problems only because they are "stuck in the past", their cultures are "dead", and the only way to fix all these problems would be to abandon all traditional ways and adopt the cultures of their white oppressors. Curiously, the oppressors are never named as oppressors, even though they are the voices that guide and contextualize the film. Yes, they actually hired known White Supremacists to provide commentary, with one of them even posing as an American Indian. (more on this later.)

The film actually proposes that traditional cultures and traditional peoples are the cause of suffering in indigenous communities. Not colonialism or racism, traditionals. No traditional people speak in the film. (And the filmmakers are also clueless about who is and isn't traditional. At one point they seem to be implying that casino magnates are the traditionals. Or something. Like I said, they're confused.)

The actual Indigenous people who speak in the film (Australian Aboriginal, Inuit, Cheyenne, and Sami individuals) are basically there only to tell of the difficult or abusive periods and situations in their lives, especially when these involved conflicts with other Native people. But then their experiences are taken out of context and their stories exploited to serve the racist aims of the producers. The only positive things that are ever said about indigenous people in the film are when an indigenous person has assimilated into mainstream, white culture. Even the Sami people, who are portrayed in the more positive light, are outraged about the misrepresentations and white supremacist agenda in the film.

One of the reasons we are concerned about this film is that it was made for an international audience, and there is reason to believe they may soon be trying to sell it to an American market, if they aren't already.

You can see the film on the SVT website. It will be viewable on the Internet for the rest of the month, then it´ll be removed. (note - you will need to go to the menu on the right and select Historiens fångar)

Who to write to in protest:
The guy who made the film, Poul-Erik Heilbuth: PLH@dr.dk
The documentary department of SVT. The head of the dept. is Ingemar Persson: dokumentarfilm@svt.se

If you have enough of the language to navigate the site, you can lodge a complaint at the Granskningsnämden för radio and TV (broadcast standards tribunal) in Sweden here: www.grn.se/

I'm also reproducing here an open letter to the producers from Dr. Al Carroll, historian, professor, and founder of NAFPS

An Open Letter to Poul-Erik Heilbruth and Ingmar Persson:

Dear Mr. Heilbruth and Mr. Persson,

I am Dr. Al Carroll. I am a history professor for the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Texas, in the United States. I have written books and articles on American Indian history and am American Indian myself. My ancestry is Mescalero Apache, as well as Mexican and Irish.

This letter to you both will be posted online and sent to as many media sources as possible, in both the United States and Scandinavia. I want everyone to know just what a travesty the two of you have foisted upon the public by making and broadcasting your racist film, doing enormous damage to indigenous peoples worldwide by your promotion of outright cultural genocide.

I have just seen your documentary "Prisoners of the Past" online. As a historian, I have never seen such a poorly done work filled with one falsehood and distortion after another. It is as appalling to watch your film as it is to see a Nazi rant about Jews. Both are equally filled with lies.

There are so many falsehoods that it is hard to know where to begin. But to start with, the biggest error in your film is this:

YOU USED THREE WHITE SUPREMACISTS AS SOURCES.

David Yeagley, Barbara Lindsay, and Keith Winschuttle ARE WHITE SUPREMACISTS and on the extreme Far Right of the political spectrum.

Two of them, Yeagley and Lindsay, are open members of white supremacist groups.

What you did is as insane as using Nazis or the Nation of Islam as a source on Jews.

I have to ask: Did you KNOWINGLY use white supremacists as your sources?

Are you white supremacists yourselves?

Or did you just do such a poor job of research that you did not know?

If you did not know, then I urge you in the strongest possible terms to apologize for your mistakes, withdraw the film, and hopefully reshoot it with the voices of actual Native people instead.

Let me provide with the proof you SHOULD have known about long BEFORE you started filming, that Yeagley, Lindsay, and Windschuttle are openly racist, white supremacist extremists.

Barbara Lindsay:

Barbara Lindsay is a leading member of the white supremacist group One Nation. She claims to have a small amount of Cherokee Indian ancestry, but is not a member of any tribe. She was expelled from a Cherokee heritage club.

David Yeagley is NOT American Indian at all. He is an imposter who POSES as Indian. His stepmother was Comanche Indian, and based on that he was mistakenly enrolled.

Yeagley is a member of or tied to the following white supremacist and extremist groups:

John Birch Society (anti Semitic conspiracy theorists)

National Alliance (white supremacist)

Stormfront (Neo Nazi skinheads)

Gene Expression (eugenicists)

VDARE (self described as "white nationalists")

Windschuttle is not a conservative, he's outright racist, and often makes up "facts" to support his racism. His take on history so bizarre and filled with lies he can't find an academic publisher and has to go to vanity publishers.

But he and his supporters seem to imagine that because he's clearly seen as racist is somehow proof that academia has been taken over by leftists. In fact most historians tend to be quite conservative, certainly in the sense of cautious.

See for yourselves what far better historians have to say about an open racist like Windschuttle.

http://blogs.usyd.edu.au/thinkingculture/2006/08/australias_racist_cultures.html
"Further, you can find a very thorough analysis of the various ways in which racism manifests in Keith Windschuttle's self-published (as opposed to 'serious academic') research in 'Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle's Fabrication of Aboriginal History', Black Inc. Agenda, 2003. The book contains contributions from scholars across the Australian academy."

Windschuttle is pretty racist towards Asians too, imagining them "taking over," that whites are "endangered", and that being racist is central to white Australian identity.

http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol5no1_2006/perera_raceterror.htm

"22. Anglo-Australian men as an endangered species in the law are only a part of Fraser's apocalyptic vision of the future. In an article, "Rethinking the White Australia Policy" (a review of Keith Windschuttle's book, The White Australia Policy), Fraser asserts:

Within two or three decades, it is not unreasonable to expect that Australia will have a heavily Asian managerial-professional, ruling class that will not hesitate to promote the interests of co-ethnics at the expense of white Australians. (Fraser 2005b).

23. Fraser supports this statement with the fantastic notion, as recapped by Windschuttle, that "Europeans ... evolved in a cold climate to support non-kinship forms of reciprocity and thus to welcome strangers," while "Chinese and Japanese businessmen operate within mafia-like, extended family clans that are bound by shared genes to support one another" (Windschuttle 2005)....

Despite their internal differences, however, Windschuttle, Fraser and Duffy represent an institutionalised and politically powerful configuration of contemporary Australian nationalism that exists on a continuum with assertions of race pride that are usually disowned as extremist....

30. The most distinctive feature of the formation represented by Duffy and Windschuttle is its foregrounding of Anglo-Australian achievement and white racial pride. Its platform is premised on a whitewashing (Manne 2003) of Australian history, especially of the violence directed towards Indigenous people and their ongoing resistances."

Your film's premises blame the victims throughout, and show a lack of understanding of the most basic facts.

I can only hope you made these mistakes because you did not realize that you were being told lies by white supremacists.

Again, I urge you to admit your mistakes, apologize, and withdraw this awful, racist film you have made.

Thank you,
Dr. Al Carroll
Alamo Community College District
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Sunday, February 03, 2008

More Tara Updates...

... Are being posted by protestors and contact people as they come in. As with the Samhain networking, updates are being added to older posts on Irish Indymedia. Here's one thread, with pics, that's being updated as events unfold: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85756?


We still need bodies on the line, supplies sent to the camps, and fierce magic in support. See my earlier posts for more details if you're new here.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Emergency Callout: If you are anywhere near Tara, or can get there...

Message from Protester on site, via Carmel and TaraWatch:

Tara Calling! Emergency call for Action at Soldier's Hill. Workers
attempting to lay tarmac. Immediate support needed. Spread the word.

2 protesters are currently locked onto a digger at Soldier's Hill. Help
and support needed urgently. Tara on Tara. Situation Critical. Please
contact as many as you can.

Update, Thursday AM, 1/31/08:
Both protesters have been cut from machinery from their lock on protest
and are presently en route to Navan Garda Station. Update later.

Carmel

BBC Dublin will be at Soldier's hill tomorrow at 3pm for the Friday
Demo. Their documentary will go out in 3 weeks time. More info nearer
to the time. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be there, we need people! Thanks


More information as it comes in will most likely hit the mailing list first: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hilloftara/, then websites later:
http://www.tarapixie.net/
http://www.tarawatch.org/

Some suggestions if you can't be there in person: http://www.paganachd.com/tara/pre-ritual.html#activism