“Respect rather than politics; relationality rather than ethics; interpretation rather than scientific facts.”

An excellent post by P.S.V.L. on the purpose of religion from a polytheist viewpoint, and how it’s all too common to “[mistake] the separate fields of science, ethics (a branch of philosophy), and politics for religion, when in fact none of these are synonymous…”  A lot to think about here- it’s long but well thought out and worth a read.  I’m going to have to give it a good re-read at some point…  It’s certainly going to inform part 2 of my thoughts on the so-called “Maxims of the Fianna”

Poem: Note for the journey

Note for the journey

When you are drawn down that hungry well,
That tunnel, bored through cruel stone,
And your eyes, straining through the blindfold dark,
Desperate for the least glimmer or phantasm,
Catch a firelight-flicker on the edge of sight,
Only to realize it sparks and glows, relentless
From the eternal flame that heats change’s cauldron-
Remember that the skeleton of the flower
Shall be fleshed out in petals of heart-flame,
And you shall rise from the furnace, purified,
Alchemized into the truest gold.

05/27/2007

Guest post: Prayer to Brigid for Peace in These Times

By Tirani Realta, a fellow child of Brigid:

Prayer to Brigid for Peace in These Times

Oh Holy Brigid, hear my prayer,
Oh Exalted One, hear my prayer,

Mother of the Hearth-fire, hear my prayer,
lay Your hand up those who fear for their lives,
and fear others different from them,
and those that fear retribution,
and bring the peace of Your gentle flame to them, so that their hearts and eyes may open.

Master of the Forge of Creation, hear my prayer,
lay Your hand upon those who work for justice,
and those that fight for peace and equality,
and those who stand watch over them upholding their oath,
and lend Your mighty strength to them, so they may do their work well and with honor.

Keeper of the Flame of Inspiration, hear my prayer,
lay Your hand upon those who turn away,
and those who cannot find a way to help,
and those who struggle to bring our feuding kith together,
and bless them with Your creative ways, that they may find the path to peace and equality.

Mistress of the Healing Well, hear my prayer,
lay Your hand upon those who mourn their beloved dead,
and those who are wounded in heart and soul by the division of our kith,
and who have been injured in body and mind by the struggle for equality,
and pour out Your healing waters on them, that their sorrow be gentle and healing begin.

First to Mourn, Keener of the Dead, hear my prayer,
lament the fallen who have died only because of the color of their skin,
and lament the fallen who have died only for the oath they swore to protect and serve,
and lament the fallen who have died protesting injustice and opening eyes to inequality,
Cry out their names through all the worlds, that the fallen may be honored by Your Voice.

Oh Holy Brigid, lay Your green mantle over our nation,
that we may come together in peace, and healing, and love,
and that we may number our injustices and find ways to mend them,
and that we may walk together as one people into a brighter future.

Oh Flaming Arrow, hear my prayer,
Oh Shining One, hear my prayer,
Great Mother Brigid, hear my prayer,
Amen.

(click on Tirani’s name above or here for her FB post containing the poem and note)

A Prayer for my Divided Nation

From his lips to the Gods’ ears…

facingthefireswithin

Things are looking dark right now, and many friends feel that.  I have seen swirling anger at levels that I cannot remember before and friends deeply divided in many directions.  Rage and violence are in many places. I fear I may lose friends as well.  In meditation this morning, and after, I wrote this:

Hail Heimdall! Help those who must keep the watch and remind them to do it well as well as to remember ALL of their duties.

Hail Hermod! Let those who must bear the memories and stories of the dead be inspired to carry that duty well.

Hail Tyr! Remind us that Rage, even Righteous Rage, can be the Fire that engulfs us all. “For Fenris must be chained, or Chaos will be King!”

Hail Freya! Remind us that the Passions we all bear do us credit, but can sometimes go too far.  I call on you…

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The So-called “Maxims of the Fianna”, (pt. 1)

Several weeks ago, both sides in one of the many recent polytheistic scuffles tried to make their points using a bit of Irish myth/story called The Maxims of the Fianna.  Once again, my Fionn mac Cumhaill senses started tingling, especially since I didn’t need a thumb of wisdom to be suspicious…  The original source of this material is the 12th-century work known as Acallam na Senórach (“Colloquy of the Ancients”),  the most important text of the Fenian cycle.  Rolleston seems to be drawing from the O’Grady translation of 1892, which is outdated in many ways; he also interpolates the title “Maxims of the Fianna”- this designation isn’t in the O’Grady translation or the adaption by Lady Gregory in Gods and Fighting Men (a much more faithful and readable adaption, IMHO).

Any excuse to go and do some research!  Full disclosure-  I don’t have any appreciable Old or Middle Irish skills.  But it turns out that there is a much more recent translation available- Tales of the Elders of Ireland, by Ann Dooley and Harry Roe, so I snapped that up.  It’s a very good translation- flowing, almost terse, with vivid description that doesn’t founder in the purple prose of its Victorian predecessors.  The poetry is all translated, too (a lot of 19th and early 20th century translations of Irish material omit the poetry), albeit with no attempt to capture the meter and alliteration of the original.

Not that I didn’t have my problems with this edition- the translators chose to translate most of the names and titles out of the original Irish, rather than leave them in; I understand the reason for this but I’d have preferred them to be glossed.  The introduction basically ignores the mythic value of the tales to focus on history and politics, but this ends up being useful in its own way.  You have to strip away several layers of Christianity, Irish Church politics, and contemporary historical context to get at the meat of these tales, and the introduction helps.

And boy, do you need to strip away- there’s just so much Christian triumphalism and sanctimonious Patrick hagiography in it, as well as a fair bit of disrespectful treatment of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  That being said, there are some lovely stories here, and some of the most lovely praises of Fionn in the Fenian material.

Which gets us to the so-called “maxims”.  To make a long story short, Fionn’s grandson, Mac Lugach, is being a jerk to the rest of the Fianna, and they pressure Fionn to get him under control.  So Fionn sits the lad down and gives him some sage advice.  It’s not presented as a series of “maxims” or general rules for the Fianna- it’s personal advice.  Dooley and Roe place it in the “advice to princes” category of medieval Irish literature, and further point out that it’s specifically focused on the proper behavior of a young man in military service in a king’s household.  Thus, it’s not necessarily of relevance to a civilian (and seems a little… hierarchical… to be important to an anarchist activist) or even to a modern day soldier.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be gained from it.  In my next post on the subject, I’ll cover that.