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)!

A bit more detail about the Creideamh Sí:

The Creideamh Sí is the foundation of our spiritual work in Gaol Naofa. The Creideamh Sí, aka "the Fairy Faith" is a collection of customs and beliefs which make up the living Gaelic ways of interacting with the local spirits. Most of the people who have maintained these ways down into the present day consider themselves to be Christian. I think it is very important to respect the living traditions and not try to redefine these terms to fit modern, American pagan sensibilities. So, the Creideamh Sí is a part of most contemporary Gaelic Polytheist paths. But any attempt to redefine "Creideamh Sí" to only mean "Modern Gaelic Polytheism" kind of misses the point and is offensive to those in the living cultures, without whom we would have nothing.

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

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 & tourists 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.

Three circles cauldron copyright ©Kathryn Price NicDhàna for Gaol Naofa

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

CAORANN Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More

Statement from the CAORANN Council:
9 January, 2013

CAORANN Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More

CAORANN - Celts Against Oppression, Racism, and Neo-Nazism - stands in solidarity with Idle No More.

Idle No More began with four women (three First Nations women and one non-Native ally) who felt it was urgent to act on current and upcoming legislation that not only affects First Nations people but the rest of Canada's citizens, lands and waters. The focus is on grassroots voices, nonviolent resistance, and First Nations sovereignty. The many treaties between the First Nations and the English Crown have been violated by non-Native Canadians, such as the right of the First Nations to control their landbase, and their right to deal with the English Crown on a nation to nation basis - not as subjects, but as equals.

Idle No More began in the early part of October 2012 when discussing Omnibus Bill C 45. The women knew that this was a time to act, as this bill and other proposed legislation would affect not only Indigenous people but also the lands, water and the rest of Canada. Already protections are being removed from rivers, wetlands, and other sensitive ecological systems. This movement is about making sure we all have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. There have been teach-ins, flash mobs, roadblocks, and hunger strikes.

The struggle for sovereignty in the First Nations has many parallels to the struggle for sovereignty in the Six Celtic Nations. Both of our peoples have struggled against colonization, cultural and physical genocide, and our relatives have also sacrificed their lives in the struggle for independence from foreign rule.

Those of us living in the diaspora face different challenges than do our members in the Celtic Nations. Some of us live on First Nations or Native American land that is unceded territory, or where the treaties to co-exist in harmony were violated by our non-Native relatives. It is important to us to respect the traditional laws, treaties, and Elders of the lands where we now live, to find a way to live in harmony and mutual respect. We stand in solidarity with Idle No More.

This is an exciting time in history, and we are honored and humbled to be involved to the small extent that we are - supporting our Native friends and relatives and doing what we can to spread the word and assist in organizational efforts.

As a group with white members who also see what non-Natives get up to when no Natives are around, we must also issue this plea and caution: Indigenous Knowledge (IK) stealers, cultural appropriators and pretendians are trying to colonize Idle No More. This is mostly (only?) happening in areas with a low percentage of Natives in the general population. As requested by the founders, we urge our members and supporters of CAORANN to support Idle No More if their conscience leads them to do so. But we ask that non-Natives attend Idle No More events to support the Indigenous people, and to follow their guidance - to be there in solidarity, not to try to lead, and to listen more than they speak. We stress that this is a movement led by Indigenous women, and we are committed to making sure that remains the case. We further ask that if Native organizers let you know that there are appropriators, exploiters or ceremony-sellers trying to colonize events, steal IK, or steal Indigenous identity, that you, with the guidance of traditional people, assist them in keeping non-Natives from colonizing this movement or displacing Native voices with non-Native ones. We celebrate the unity and solidarity of our Peoples, but affirm that this must come from a place of mutual respect.

Please see our resource page for background information on working in solidarity, as well as our Facebook page, where we are posting updates.

Sláinte Mhaith,

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

For more on Idle No More, please visit their Official Sites. Idle No more has only three official pages: the website, their Official Facebook page, and the Twitter Account run by the four founders. Any other sites are only run by supporters and may not represent the official views of the founders.  For clarifications on some of the terminology around "Indigenous," please see this page on our site: On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity

Link to the original post on the CAORANN website: CAORANN Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More

The four founders of Idle No More: Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdam, Sheelah Mclean and Nina Wilson

From CAORANN - On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity

Statement from the CAORANN Council:
9 January, 2013

On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity

For decades now, Indigenous people have responded to non-Natives who want to practice Native religion by telling non-Natives to look to our own ancestors, our own earth-based traditions. Those of us who have taken this challenge to heart, and implemented it in our lives, have learned that the surviving lifeways of our Celtic ancestors are also endangered by appropriation and misrepresentation.

The living Celtic cultures are not as well known to Americans, but they do exist and we are committed to protecting what survives. When outsiders to both of our communities misrepresent their racist appropriations as "Celtic," it does harm to the cultural survival of the Celtic nations as well as to the cultures Indigenous to the "American" continent. It also damages our anti-racist and decolonization activism, as it sows mistrust and confusion between our communities. Sadly, it has become very common for exploiters of Native traditions to try to disguise their thefts as "Celtic," so we must also examine the claims of anyone who claims to teach Celtic ways.

Like our Indigenous (Native American and First Nations) members and advisers, with whom we stand in solidarity, we also oppose "pay-to-pray", even when it is offered at a lower fee than that of newagers like James Ray (who killed people in his attempts to appropriate the Sweat Lodge). Like those of our Indigenous allies, traditional Celtic lifeways are communal. They are based in our extended families (of origin and affinity), have checks and balances on who can lead ceremony, and must be learned in an appropriate cultural context, not offered for sale to strangers or acquaintances.

Recently there is a movement on the part of some non-Natives - Americans, Canadians and Europeans - to identify as "Indigenous European." The first people to use this phrase were white supremacist groups, who are appropriating the term "Indigenous" to make it seem like white people are somehow an oppressed minority. Others are appropriating it because they have racist stereotypes of Native people as all "mystical" and therefore white folks who call themselves "Indigenous" are somehow more mystical too. We have seen non-Natives using this cloak of "Indigenous European" in an attempt to colonize councils of actual Indigenous people, and to even lead and pretend to speak for real Indigenous People. This is an act of racism and attempted cultural genocide.

Some of the Americans and Canadians who are calling themselves "Indigenous European" are actually claiming to be allies of First Nations Peoples, but our non-Native members have found that these non-Natives act very differently when they think no Native people are listening. Some of them have confided in our white members that they are supporting ceremony-sellers and are themselves involved in appropriating from Native Peoples. What we have seen so far with the Americans and Canadians who are claiming to be pursuing "Indigenous European Knowledge," is that they have never lived in Europe and, in every case we are aware of, they are not rooted in any European or Celtic Earth-honoring tradition; rather, all the ones we have met are Wiccans, newagers, pretendians, or racists who are not following a spiritual path of any kind.

We are shocked and appalled at these attempts by non-Natives to displace and disappear Native Peoples, and we strongly advise non-Native people to shun the use of "Indigenous" or "Indigenous European" for ourselves or our spiritual traditions. We already have terminology, in our own languages, for our ancestral, earth-honoring ways; we don't need to steal terms and identities from brown people. From this point forward, if you are an American or Canadian non-Native who insists on calling yourself "Indigenous" or "Indigenous European" we will assume you are an appropriator and a racist.

Just like pan-Indianism can lead to the erasure and forgetting of the unique, diverse Native cultures, so can attempts at pan-European or pan-Celtic inventions erase the unique European and Celtic cultures. Just like the tribes on the "American" continent each have their own languages, ceremonies and customs, so did all the "European" tribes and those of the Celtic Nations. Many of those diverse ways of old Europe and the Celtic Nations still survive. We are committed to preserving and protecting the Celtic ways that survive and respecting the sovereignty of the Celtic Nations. Just as CAORANN strongly opposes any appropriation or dilution of the ways of our Indigenous allies, we are just as strongly opposed to the misrepresentation, merging, and dilution of our ancestral Celtic traditions.

The CAORANN Council is a multi-ethnic, multi-generational collective of Celtic spiritual people, Gaelic Polytheists and Native American allies. We have members and advisers from the Celtic Nations, the First Nations and the Celtic diaspora. We stand in solidarity with our Indigenous friends, relatives, council members and allies. Those of us who are non-Native, who are Modern Celts in the diaspora, affirm that we are not Indigenous People, and we will not pretend to be so. We stand opposed to any efforts to damage or misrepresent our cultures.

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

  For more links and discussions among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people about Indigenous identity, and the difference between Indigenous roots - which all of our ancestors have, just as we all have ancestors and ancestral ways - and how having roots is different from being an Indigenous person, see also these blog posts: Americans and "Indigenous" Identity and This is About Mother Earth (and Indigenous Sovereignty). Go raibh maith agaibh!
Link to the original post on the CAORANN website: On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity