All Things Irish

A few years ago I made a trip to Ireland in the company of women, priestesses set on a pilgrimage to ancient sites of Irish Goddess history. During our pilgrims’ progress I found myself making a vow to the Irish Spirit of Place. I promised it a book, a promise I kept, though it took me a year to write it:

To Ireland, where magic still rambles

through the landscape and stories hover

round evert well spring, bush , crag and rill.

~ Christine Irving, Dedication

The book is divided into six section: The Land, The Cow, Tree, The Tuath Dé, Inisfallen and Immigration & Exportation.  Each one explores an aspect of Irish past and present history. In Ireland, the past and present are impossible to separate, woven as they are into an intricate Irish knot.

The Sense of Place is palpable in Ireland. It whispers in one’s ear, breathes in one’s face, breezes through the lungs, and hums in the blood. Every story has the end or beginning of another tale embedded in it’s body, and every imaginable human drama has played out across Ireland’s landscape. The The Irish have a fierce history of violence, and horrific consequential mistakes, but the thread of wisdom, that also runs the entire gauntlet of entangled history from beginning to end, is pure gold and steel-strong.

Some of my poems includes both…

            Battle Crow

            Badb comes cawling 
            wearing guise of crow
            forewarning doom, 
            foreseeing verdant fields 
            churned muddy with men’s blood;
            arm, leg, head, hand and tender crops 
            trampled underfoot, severed limbs 
            hacked by axe and sword. 
            Shillelaghs batter bone,
            burst kidneys, shatter spleen.  
            She screeches frustration, 
            screams rage into the wind,
            man, once again, destroying in short hour
            what woman took a lifetime to raise up.

But there is another lighter side to Irish lore, though, even here the dark is always patterned with the light and neither takes precedence. The Old Ones were nothing if not pragmatic. Every tale no matter how fanciful contains a teaching and reflects the workings of the universe with great faithfulness and skill…

 Huathe – Hawthorn- Ogham Letter H

 On Visiting A Faerie Tree


I want to gift the Hawthorn tree with pink-
this strip of cloth I saved from Sister’s quilt.
Its pretty pattern will appeal, I think,
the fabric stout enough to form a kilt
for fairy folk who fancy comely clothes,
perhaps a waistcoat buttoned up with gold
or ballgown bright in which to primp and pose.
They like a cloth both beautiful and bold.
I see you’ve brought a remnant wide and blue,
so come with me and tie your rag to tree,
with courteous respect, I beg of you
and praise the Fay for they love flattery.
Be careful what you wish of their largesse,
they love to trick in ways you’d best outguess!

Posted in Archetype | 1 Comment

New Year’s eve

  New Year’s Eve


                                 You can mold clay into a vessel;
                   yet, it is its emptiness that makes it useful.
                                          ~Lao Tzu, Tao De Ching

  
 Already, dawn breaks earlier
 day lengthens, quickening to light 
 as sun pulls in her tether,
 calling Earth home to hearth 
 like some busy mother, whose child 
 strays too far into the dark.
  
 Time has come
 to shatter this vessel,
 molded from soul clay
 shaped by desire, fired 
 in will, packed base to brim
 with joy, grief, fear and anger.
  
 The pot fills my hands.
 I weigh its heft,
 trace intricate designs
 engraved upon the surface.
 All year, potential usefulness 
 diminished, as day by day
 what once was empty, filled 
  
 Now, it serves no longer
 as a bowl for what might be
 and only holds in stasis
 what once was or is.
  
 Time to take glee 
 in the shattering finale ; 
 shout, scream, belly laugh, 
 and wipe away my tears. 
  
 Tomorrow, I’ll gather shards, 
 grind them to dust, mix them to mud,
 begin anew to mold and shape 
 new emptiness for every possibilities
 the coming year will issue. 

  
                               ©2014 Christine Irving 
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Lupe’s Feast Day

Today, December 12, altars to Guadalupe grace thousands of home throughout the Americas. Originally manifesting Mexico, her presence has spread south and North through both continents and today, while continuing as patron saint to Mexico, she is also the patroness of North and South America.

One of Guadalupe’s distinguishing features is her beautiful brown skin, leaving no doubt that the Mother of God was bestowing her particular blessing on the indigenous populations of the Americas and placing these daughters and sons under her special care.

Mothers tend to show up when and where they are most needed and Guadalupe appeared n a very time dark time indeed. Waves of pestilence, rivaling Europe’s Black Death, had decimated native populations with smallpox and measles, sweeping ahead of the conquistadorian forces bent on domination, rapine and riches until few warriors were left to resist them. The conquerors, led by a misogynist, racist priesthood intent on forcing conversion and well-equipped with the plans and implements to carry it out, were destroying temples and sacred sites in order to eradicate the old gods.

Into this time of suffering and sorrow, the spirt of divine femininity chose to appear on the hill called Tepeyac sacred to Tonantzin (a word meaning Sacred Mother in her native language Nahuatl).

According to the accepted story, Tonantzin appeared to a Nahua man, Juan Diego, and asked him to approach the reigning Bishop of the new Spanish order and tell him to build her a church on Tepeyac hill. Juan Diego demurred, but she reappeared twice again insisting that he do her bidding. Finally, she gave him proof of her legitimacy in a way the Spaniards would accept. Filling his poncho with Spanish roses, she sent him to the Bishop. When Juan Diego opened his poncho to display the flowers they dropped to the floor reveling an image of the goddess ingrained in the woven fibers of the cloth. The Bishop immediately Christened her the Virgin of Guadalupe after the Spanish Black Madonna revered by Cortez. Thus she entered the annals of Catholic sainthood.

Tepeyac became a pilgrimage site almost immediately. Hundreds of people began flocking to the site as news of her appearances spread. The bishop built a basilica there and within ten years the population had peacefully followed their goddess into Catholicism where they amalgamated old practices with the new while priests turned a blind eye to their persistent rituals and beliefs out of expediency and to boost the number of converts.

In this way, Tonantzin became Guadalupe and saved her people from the scourge of Inquisition, cutting short their suffering and allowing peace to be restored. Her ability to shapeshift resembles the shamanic practices common to indigenous peoples around the globe. In like manner, the goddess Brigid became Ireland’s patron Saint, helping a her people make a safer transition into the culture of an enemy they could not defeat and allowing them to maintain their association with nature and the land to which they belonged.

As devotion to Guadalupe continues to persist and increase, she has appeared in many guises, entering the healing work of curanderas and the political agendas of revolutionaries. She is rapidly becoming a symbol of empowered womanhood as young women take her as an ally into their fight for recognition in traditionally machismo cultures. Above all Guadalupe continues to comfort those who suffer. Like those other goddesses of compassion- Brigid, the Virgin Mary and Kwan Yin she understands loss, mourns and shares the sorrows of her people.

In my own spiritual practice, Guadalupe has blessed me with her presence. She led me into a collaboration with fellow poet Kathryn Smith, which grew into a powerfully rewarding friendship. Together we wrote, produced and acted in the two-woman play, A Rose in Winter, which unfolds the history behind Guadalupe’s appearance, tells Juan Diego’s story and explores the many guises Guadalupe wears. We feel blessed to have honored her with our work and richly rewarded for the effort and time we put into it.

Our dearest wish is to see it produced by young Chicana women who understand the power of story and the necessity to recreate the myths that sustain and nourish the spirits of Lupe’s daughters. May she continue to bless us all on this her beautiful feast day.

Posted in Cultural icons, goddess, Latin America, Myth, Sacred Theater, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero Of Her People

She died as she lived, in service to her country, hanging on as long as she could, after a lifetime of exemplary service, to oppose the current threat to American democracy. This is a picture of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a little girl. Maria Popova posted it this morning in Brain Pickings. What an amazing person she turned out to be.

Ruth Bader

The first thing I noticed was her eyes, bright, shiny, intelligent, joyful. They didn’t change or weary as she grew except to become more wise. Look at her hands, one assertive, one modest and private. This is a child who already understands that balance and decorum can live compatibly with conviction. Behind her is a patch of green things growing, a metaphor for the fruitful life she would grow into.

Some adults go through life haunted by a troubled unhappy child companion who saps one’s energy until their troubles are acknowledged and addressed. We the people lose an enormous amount of talent and ability to poverty, cruelty, prejudice and disease. How many Ruth’s have we lost to our detriment?

Looking at Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s radiant companion, the child who walked beside her, I rejoice in the mother and father who taught Ruth to value herself and her independence; who protected the inner private child and encouraged the outer one to step out. We see in her the adult we could all be. It depends on luck and love, that’s true. But Ms. Ginsberg proved beyond doubt that it is possible, necessary and righteous to choose.

The girl in this picture expects me to opt for kindness, honesty and intelligence, all day every day, both in small barely discernable moments, and in tremendous instances of import. That expectation is her real legacy. Doable and demanding, exciting and rewarding it lies within the grasp of each pair of hands, each steadfast heart.

All that’s left to say is, thank you.

Posted in Community, Consciousness, Cultural icons, Girls, Heroine/Hero's Journey, Politics, Women | 1 Comment

What Matters to Mothers

Martin Jeffries, 13

Wild thing, raised to die

runnin’ errands, runnin’numbers

corner to corner, street to street

run fast, fast, couldn’t outrun Mistah Death.

 

Samuel DuBois Washington, 15

I knew the odds were bad─

worked overtime for years,

sent him to a private school.

Pill party. Overdose. Gone.

 

Malik Brown, 17

Knew when he was born

Street boys got no chance.

Tied him to my apron strings.

Dinnit stop him steppin’

into fists his stepdad meant for me.

 

jamal & jalen, 19

my beautiful twins

my african lions

red stains on a sidewalk

preacher tells me god

prefers a perfect sacrifice

 

Daniel Walker, 21

Majority reached,

I relaxed a fraction,

let long-held breath

come whooping out

in one long exaltation.

Angel of Death heard me,

took out his Ak-47

shot my baby full of holes.

 

©2020 Christine Irving

Posted on OPENLINKNIGHT at the d’Verse Poets Pub

Posted in Poetry, racism | Tagged , | 5 Comments

We See Dead People

 

cropped-Ayahuasca-Vine-Peru

Laura Bloomsbury posted in  Poetics at the d’Verse Poets Pub asking us to describe a unidentified body found dead in a graveyard. We are challenged to :

  • bring the deceased to life by letting them speak (first person) or speak with them (2nd person) or speak about them (3rd person)
  • it is NOT the whole life story that is required but the essence of the person’s character and life.

wisteria

Socialite Found Dead in Graveyard

 

Weird don’t you think?

Lady’s barely dead, skin

still warm – vines already

twining round her torso,

poking green sprouts

between fingers and toes.

 

I hear she ta… took ayahuasca

Maybe she tried wisteria, too.

They say the spirit of the plant

knows all your secrets,

maybe it wanted her soul,

Was she strangled? Did her heart

stop?  A plant could do that,

one with a brain, I mean.

People warned her.

 

Look!  Over there

behind that headstone

See those red-soles?

Who kicks off Louboutins

to walk barefoot in the grass?

She doesn’t deserve them.

 

I know it’s a moot point!

 

Listen, the woman’s dead–

won’t be needing heels

where she’s going.  No,

I did not know her– heard

a thing or two is all.  Listen,

here’s a twenty to say

you never saw me.  OKAY,

okay– two.  Wait ten minutes

before you dial 911.

 

 

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Going Prosey

It’s Prosery Monday at the d’Verse Poets Pub and Merril chose a line from Gwendolyn Brooks poem An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire:

We go
in different directions
down the imperturbable street.

The challenge is to write a flash fiction piece of exactly 144 words incorporating the above lines…

Jacob Lawrence Virginia Interior

Jacob Lawrence, “Virginia Interior.” © 2017 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.ption

Street Smarts.

We go in different directions down the imperturbable street. The street that doesn’t care, will never care about our souls- having none of its own to mind.  Is the street dangerous?  Oh yeah, especially lethal if you start to care what a street might think – if street thinks.  But you will never know, until the blade between your ribs hits an artery, or a voice in your head starts dictating how you should or should not make love, with who and where.

Shopfronts don’t tell, though a twitching curtain on the fourth floor might drop a hint.  You wouldn’t dare play poker with this street.  It’ll call your bluff.  Best walk briskly from that rendezvous, geniality written across your face, but not that give-away grin that tells the world you got something they didn’t.  Always, look straight ahead and don’t catch anyone’s eye.

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Rain Dance

‘Rain’ is the prompt today posted at the d’Verse Poets Pub by Sarah Connor  in Poetics

Zuni rattlesnake Kachina 2

Desert Song

 The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound
~Dewey Bunnell, “A Horse with No Name”

Rattlesnake shake, Rattlesnake shake,

sun’s fryin’ my brain and I need rain

Rattlesnake shake, Rattlesnake shake,

swing your tail to fill this pail.

Hey! Old viper,

you stealthy asp,

sliding across sand

close, close at hand

before you strike.

How many rings you got

to mark your years?

I ain’t afeared.

I ain’t your kind of prey

no way, jus want

your medicine

to ease a throat

too dry to sing rain songs,

too weak to dance my feet,

stomp for rain till dust

swirls up in clouds.

Help me out and I will leave

tobacco by your den,

blow golden pollen

‘long very path you wend.

Rattlesnake shake, Rattlesnake shake,

sun’s fryin’ my brain and I need rain

Rattlesnake shake, Rattlesnake shake,

swing your tail to fill this pail.

Posted in Animals, dVerse, Myth, Poetry, Prayer, Ritual | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Slipped, the Dogs of War Go Howling

mnprotests1

We slip from ignorance

into denial, slipping

rosy-colored glass

before our eyes

to stare into the sun

in ardent search for light. 

Tears slip down our cheeks,

we walk on blindly, ignoring

each red flag, surprised

when hell breaks loose

and crowds call, “Havoc!”

 

“Slip” is the prompt from   at the d’Verse Poets Pub for Quadrille #105

 

 

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Welcome Summer

summer collage

Hanging on my studio walls are three collages dear to my heart.  The triptych represents the three aspects of the Great Goddess, representing the three traditional phases of womanhood – maiden, mother, crone.  It’s a fine thing for an artist to create something that expresses exactly how they feel.  These kind of pieces don’t have to say everything about the subject, or all that the artist feels.  They just have to ring true to the truth behind the idea, the poem or art work that somehow opens the gate to Rumi’s field…

Out beyond idea of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.                        ~Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

The amazing archetype of a powerful divine feminine has its home deep in the collective unconscious of humanity as is shown in hundreds of incredibly ancient artifacts dating back through thousands and thousands of years.

800px-VenusHohlefels2

Venus of Hohle Fels

 The three aspects of the Goddess also signify the seasons of spring, summer and winter. At the time in which I created them, I had no knowledge of the fabulous fourth phase, corresponding to autumn, that a woman enters after menopause.  It is an amazing period of freedom, courage and creativity – the penultimate blessing nature bestows as a reward for the work of living and becoming wiser.  Women haven’t yet settled on a name for this phrase – some call it Queen.  It’s still barely being written about or talked about, but more and more she’s showing up in movies and TV – the wise older woman, not yet ancient, vital to her core.  She is why I wrote my novel  Magdalene A.D.to exemplify the abilities and possibilities of this autumnal stage.

I’ve written poems to two of these collages.  I created this set a long time ago, when I was still in the mother phase.  Their corresponding poems carry the same deep sense of satisfaction for me that the art work does.  Now that I’m becoming Crone, I’ll be able to write a poem to complete my triptych.  Meanwhile, Grace at d’Verse Poet’s Pub has announced OpenLinkNight and because summer is fast upon us, I give you:

Invocation

 

Pepper poppy, poinsettia,

pear, peapod, pig,

bone, broccoli, berry,

fly, field, fig.

 

Mother, fill my baskets –

belly, breast, egg.

Hollow out the snake’s front tooth,

bronze the fly an iridescent hue;

pleach vines into green shade pools,

laurel leaf to hero’s wreath.

Tumble me in August pastures

lush as swollen sex, fecund with mulch

of brood mare, sow, brindle cow.

Pleasure me with sun-fermented fruit

a-buzz with flies and dancing bees,

let the corners of Your crescent smile

drip peach, apricot, apple, pear

and from Your limbs sweat honey light

through summer’s fig-sweet air.

 

Pepper poppy, poinsettia,

pear, peapod, pig,

bone, broccoli, berry,

fly, field, fig.

Posted in Archetype, Art, Consciousness, dVerse, goddess, Herstory, Poetry, Psychology, Symbol, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments