Crone in Corrogue: Wild Wisdom of the Elder Years
Glorying in the elder years, a time of spirituality, service and some serious sacred activism
Timeless Bealtaine Blessings
Blessings of biodiverse Bealtaine! This is my favourite season in Ireland and with my lane bursting with scores of wild plants, the cuckoo calling and the swifts shooting in and out of my neighbour's barn you really can sense the fertility of the earth. All is well and the wheel turns on and on.
This past weekend I was leading a Dublin radio presenter around this sacred landscape for a program on New Perspectives in Ireland: Themes, Dreams, Myths and Ecology. John is a self-proclaimed pessimist about the planet even as he keeps planting trees for Peace Forest Ireland.
I, on the other hand, am stoutly an optimist. This is for several reasons. Foremost is that if I did not attach myself to optimism I'd be prey to despair. Sorry, it's just how I am made. Secondly, I have a philosophical allegiance (thank you, Soren Kierkegaard!) to visualising positive outcomes and thereby making it so. This isn't a soppy 'belief' but a practice of affirming outcomes for the highest good of all concerned. If you keep on feeding your fear of doom then doom shall be manifest. But if you see earth as an endless and timeless exercise in love and creation then...well, you see it manifest every Bealtaine.
Given how this sacred landscape is threatened by fracking I could sink into despair. But there is an ornery spirit that has probably a lot to do with the confraternity of fairies/earth elementals who daily manifest themselves on my doorstep. The redstart in the hedgerow advises 'Don't despair.' The trees shrouded in their wooly lungwort tell me to breathe and believe and so it shall be. The spikes of mare's tail and bracken frond unfurl. The earth is released from its cocoon, working its alchemy as it has always done.
As I told John about the arrival of the Tuatha de Danaan in their ships he looked sceptically at Slieve Anieran. "They arrived in ships?" Then I told him to look at the limestone pavement under our feet. Millions of years ago this used to be ocean floor for a subtropical sea. I have literally walked upon fossils of ancient coral and limpet.
If the Tuatha de Danaan teach us nothing else they are an object lesson in timelessness and how story can have literal elements sprinkled in with the metaphor and fable. Surely the Shining Ones were here when this sacred ground was sea. Surely they were here with the ice sheets. Surely they were here when the first juniper tree sprouted when those ice sheets melted. Surely they were here when the megalith makers constructed their monuments to their dead and sculpted the first human art in rock.
Looking at the glacial erratics John commented that to him large rocks are just cathedrals inverted. Yes! Structures for spiritual praise indeed. Our earliest ancestors knew how to respect time, eternity and infinity. It's in our DNA although they have yet to isolate the chromosome for awe.
Looking at the gorse ablaze on the hillside and hearing the cuckoo call yet again I have more faith in the fey and the timeless than any force of ill will. They will outlast all the environmental villains of the piece. It is impossible to know the ending of the whole story, only a piece of the tale. But I am backing that elemental energy of creation every step of the way.
Meanwhile, this May Eve I will make my posy of marsh marigold and lady's smock, primrose, celandine and dog violet. I will tie them with yellow ribbon and leave it on the doorstep, rejoicing in the tenacity of Danu and her children who along with the earth will outlast us all.
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