Paddywhackery! Irish ancestral wounds ..

Ok. We are over St Patrick’s Day 2017. I don’t celebrate. 11,000 years of ancestral genes and I don’t celebrate an English former slave bringing Roman Christian ways to my indigenous Irish people. Forgive me if celebrating empire dominance, ‘divine’ right to dominate by virtue of being of English race and the forced religious suppression of indigenous spirit just does not appeal to me! We lost a lot in wrecking the earlier Christian and indigenous community webbing of systems of seasonal celebrations, community education and love of the land our ancestors’ bones compose.

I celebrate “Being Irish Day!” with my Irish Columbian Canadian grandchildren. Ireland is the place where, since 1157, processes of systemic colonisation were honed before their export to the Americas, Africa, India, Australia and the Caribbean. So it is a mixed response. I am of the blood of both colonised and colonisers. My father, Sean O’Neill, though proudly socialist and Irish republican, took me to Ghana West Africa when I was two. As a geographer, he was bringing a good British education to the Ghanians. Mammy, my baby brother Ronan and I were there for 10 formative years because Dad was the man in charge more than 60 years ago.

Right now, I am floored by the number of Irish names littering the current Christofascist coup in the US. Trumpf’s German ancestry, mucky family background and long career of woman-hating and abuse,  I understand as a trauma therapist with experience in systemic constellations work and years of training in the Hellinger tradition which emerged post Holocaust Europe. It has taken me months to see the Irish ancestral wounds rising to the surface like turds in the toilet. Bannon, Flynn, Brady, Pence, Ryan…

It’s the historic wounds of colonisation and empire that I see in those names. When you have centuries and generations where male and state domination is the norm, centuries of women and land abuse, centuries of hunger and addictions to ‘fill’ the emptiness of loss of ancestors, land, ritual, language and Spirit, what do you do? You become the abuser. You identify with the addictions, with the racialised rage and belief in the human armed male Godhead, touted by the oppressor. You channel your rage toward others.

As the recently made ‘white’, I see my privilege. When I see how it was gained historically, it makes me sick. The cure is in naming it and educating around what this means now.WhiteMansGovt

We Irish are much more than this. Watch what is coming to the surface to counter those turds… Draw on your ancestral wisdom. Root your self in the stones. Speak up less like a virus and more like a dawn chorus of birdsong. Celebrate all of who you are…


Small Wonder

This vibrant image is microscopic. Much that matters is invisible to our human eye.. What would happen if these tiny unseen beings in our gut were not honoured?


Granada  Nicaragua. Granada squareSMIn this, the first colonial city in the Americas, churches, music and community life are central. Parque Colon vibrates with birdsong, children’s and sellers’ voices,  bells marking six and twelve and a salsa beat. Two blocks away is a sixteenth century convent where the underlying stones and stories of this area wait to be heard.

El Convento de San Francisco houses 28 basalt figures taken from Zapaterra, the sacred island of the Choretegas in 1924. Its ceramics, ‘primitive’ art and displays tell the rest.

Stuck in cement bases, described with an arrogant eye and facing each other in an open almost wharehouse space at the back of the church, the Choretega figures bring tears to my eyes. Here David Abram’s wisdom in Becoming Animal crashes like waves in my chest and throat. In my mother tongue I feel it; Táim féin mar táimidne. I am because we are. And “we” includes the more-than-human world carved into each of these figures over 2000 years ago. I am moved to do my four directions morThe Girl from Zapaterraning meditation here. Beginning in the east, I honour the beginnings and the ancestors, theirs and mine. I see the child in Becoming AnimalSMme and the one carved by long dead hands above those four directions in the volcanic stone beside me.

There are jaguars, monkeys, crocodiles, birds and snakes within these stately figures. Even the one mislabeled “El Diablo” shows a fly-catching reptile tongue that melds the human with its origins. No map was made of their original placement on Zapaterra. There is speculation that they may have held up the roof of a huge sacred mound or temple. No explanation is given or apparently deemed necessary for their removal by Catholic and Jesuit explorers to this place after an American ‘discovered’ them in 1849. Drawings from 1920s and 30s show their deterioration since removal from their earthy protection and place. As I move into prayer in the south, I honour them in the fullness of their initial life and purpose. I honour these lands between the north and south hemispheres which may help us hear each other into fuller being. In the west I consider my own mature life journey to my Irish indigenous roots and stone-held knowledge in the mounds of the Boyne Valley and Carrowkeel. And I consider what came from the west to settle here in Central America in 1524 and ever since…. the belief that western ways were divinely right, that these ‘primitive’ people needed religions and ways of living to surplant and bury their own….the belief that particular groups of humans matter more than the community of all in the web of life…. the belief that this Earthly life is nothing compared to some hereafter, a belief so at odds with the cycle of life itself shown in indigenous traditions of ceremony and burial and in these figures. And the condradiction is that all those ‘divinely right’ beliefs were and are enforced by the power of armed might.

When I turn to the north, to the place where the elders sit, where we face the turn through death to begin the cycle of life again with the young, I am flooded with images and memories of the young creatives I work with in Spirit Matters. Here in Granada, in many places on the earth at this time, it is they who are the hope for the regeneration of what has been surpressed. Young indigenous artists and scholars are recovering and expanding the vision of their ancestors.

Masaya town in Nicaragua is a community of artists reclaiming their ‘primitive’ tradition. The image below by Morales celebrates the diversity of just Boruca maskflora, fauna and village life locally. The Boruca mask on the left by Hernandez epitomizes the resurgence of indigenous spirit in the hummingbird-filled forests of Central America.Nicaraguan paintingSM

I leave El Convento de San Francisco with a promise… to speak to what has happened, to decolonise my own creative spirit and to support the young in unearthing what is sacred. That is reGeneration.

In the Growing Field

Being part of our 4th Spirit Matters gathering ‘Honouring Indigenous Worlds” and just returning from my first systemic constellations intensive with 50 others from around the planet, I know you and I are in a Growing Field.

As we move toward December 2012 and what the Mayans and other indigenous peoples call the era of the Fifth Sun, much becomes connected. Fairies, animals, quantum waves, fractals, ancestral shadows and wisdoms, my own story and yours, my ancestors and yours… and the stardust that birthed us all. We are in the Growing Field. The more we can hold that nebulous awareness of being in and of the web, of expressing in the moment what we now know with others, the more this will be the time of what Joanna Macy calls the Great Turning.

How lovely and loving is this home and moment of ours …