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Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Thugamar Féin am Samhradh Linn May 1, 2015

Tulips in Boulder, 2012***

Today is May 1, and the flowers are blooming, sometimes even through the snow so you know they are serious and not about to back down anymore.

Happy Beltaine! Here’s a festive Maypole (earth-fertility symbol) and an old song in Irish to celebrate.

Maypole erection at New College of CA's Permaculture Intensive, 2007

Maypole erection at New College of CA’s Permaculture Intensive, 2007

According to An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa, this traditional Irish song Thugamar Fein an Samhradh Linn, sung on May Day (Beltaine), dates back a ways: “Edward Bunting—a 19th century music collector—said this song “is probably extremely ancient” and was sung in the Dublin area around 1633. Even so, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin says it dates back to 1745, yet Mary Devlin (author of The Lost Music of Ireland) claims it was 1726, so the origin is rather vague.”

Want to hear it? Here’s the magnificent soprano Nóirín ní Riain singing it. I learned this song from listening to her CD, Celtic Soul.

There are of course numerous versions, as with all old folk songs. Check the bottom of this post for a second version that for some reason also involves herring.

It’s fun to honor the changing seasons in creative ways like singing. You too can sing in Irish!

This song is presented in three ways to  make it relatively easy for you to learn. The first line is in Gaeilge (Irish), the second is phoneticized pronounciation for native English-speakers (Foghraíocht), and the third is Béarla, a rough English translation. (Apologies to all native speakers and my relevant distant ancestors for any mistakes here: I grew up in an American desert region where Irish is rarely, if ever, spoken, and still don’t know much so must rely on others. Just doing my best to keep it alive and spreading, at least in song.)

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THUGAMAR FÉIN AN SAMHRADH LINN

Gorgeous Maypole top from Buddha's Birthday celebration, northern CA. Photo by Tina Fields

Gorgeous Maypole top from Buddha’s Birthday celebration, northern CA. Photo by Tina Fields

   (We Brought the Summer With Us)

Véarsa 1 (Verse 1):
Babóg na Bealtaine, Maighdean an tSamhraidh,
(BA-bohg nuh BAL-tin-yeh, MY-jen uh TOW-ree)
Doll of May Day, Maiden of Summer,

Suas gach cnoc is síos gach gleann,
(SOO-uss gakh cruk iss SHEE-uss gakh glyan)
Up every hill and down every glen,

Cailíní maisithe, bán-ghéala gléasta,
(KAL-yee-nee MASH-ih-heh, bahn YAL-uh GLAY-sstuh)

Beautiful girls, radiant and shining in dress,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn
(HUG-uh-mar hayn un SOW-roo lin)
We brought the summer with us.

Curfá (Chorus):

Samhradh, samhradh, bainne na ngamhna,
(SOW-roo, SOW-roo, BA-nyeh nuh NGOW-nuh)
Summer, summer, milk of the calves,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the summer with us,

Samhradh buí ná nóinín gléigeal,
(SOW-roo bwee nah NOH-ih-neen GLAY-gyal)
Yellow summer of glistening daisies,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the summer with us.

Véarsa 2 (Verse 2) 

Thugamar linn é ón gcoill chraobhaigh,
Hug-a-mar lin ay oo-n gill khreev-ee,
We brought it in from the leafy woods,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the Summer in.

Samhradh buí ó luí na gréine,
Sa-u-roo bwee o lee na grayn-ya,
Yellow Summer from the time of the sunset,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We have brought the Summer in.   (sing CHORUS)

Kendall & me Permy 07

With Kendall Dunnigan, wild queen of OAEC, 2007. Flowers can be worn anywhere!

Véarsa 3 (Verse 3)

Tá an fhuiseog ag seinm ‘s ag luascadh sna spéartha,
(Tahn ISH-yohg egg SHEN-yim segg lOOS-koo snuh SPAYR-huh)
The lark is singing and soaring in the skies,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.

Tá an chuach is na héanlaith ag seinm le pléisiúr,
(Tahn KHOO-ukh snuh HAYN-lee egg SHEN-yim leh PLAY-shoor)
The cuckoo and the lark are singing with pleasure,

Thugamar féin an samhradh linn.
We brought the summer with us.
[Sing Curfá (CHORUS) again.]

Singing to welcome in the vibrant Spring spirits as we erect the maypole, 2007

According to the folks of An Chuallacht Ghaol Naofa , “…“féin” can be pronounced “hayn” or “fayn”, and “thugamar” can be “hugamar” or “hoogamar” depending on the speaker. Same with “Samhradh”, which can be “Sau-roo” or “Sau-rah”.”

***

Here are a couple more verses found on the most excellent folksong-nerd site Mudcat Cafe, posted by Malcolm Douglas on 7 July 2001, after he found it appearing as song #502 in George Petrie’s Complete Collection of Irish Music (ed. C. S. Villiers, 1903):

Of all the fish that’s in the sea
The herring is king, the herring is king.
Sing thugamur fein an samhra linn
‘Tis we have brought the summer in

The storm is o’er ’tis calm again;
We’re safe on shore from the raging main,
Sing thugamar fein an samhra linn,
‘Tis we have brought the summer in.

**

If you would like to learn how to sing more songs in Irish, check out Mary McLaughlin’s very user-friendly intro book/CD combo, Singing in Irish Gaelic (Mel Bay Publishing). It contains some great material, including a bouncy little childrens’ ditty about “Phillip’s little boat with Phillip in it” drowning in the sea.

Yep, pretty authentic Irish material, singing cheerily about death. Enjoy being alive right now to see another Spring!

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Shamanism in Norway: Welcome Home! April 19, 2012

Ailo Gaup drumming with a reindeer-antler beater

News Flash: according to The Nordic Page, an online paper out of Oslo, the governor of Norway has just formally recognized and approved the Shamanic Association of Tromsø as a religion.

Why is this worthy of note? Because for many years, this most ancient of spiritual practices been forbidden.

Many shamanic practitioners are indigenous people. The Sami live there; reindeer herders whose nomadic territory ranges over four current nation-states:  Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

For years (1920s-1950s) across the former Soviet Union, native healers and shamanic practitioners were given the ‘cease and desist’ order. Drums were forbidden; magical garb burned; spiritual leaders arrested.  In some parts, the practice and the “religion” was officially dead – although as it has been for pagan peoples all across the planet for the last two thousand years or so, what actually happened was that its practitioners went underground for awhile, quietly practicing their earth-loving ways and waiting out the oppressive regime.

The ways of the Sami, indigenous people of these northern lands, have been systematically repressed ever since the nation-states began to encroach on their homelands and Christian missionaries encroached on their cultural ways. It’s a typical story. Inga (Rebecca Partida) tells it well on the University of Texas’ Sami Culture page:

“Since the nation-states of Norway, Sweden, and Finland first began settling Sapmi, the Sami have been removed from their land, stripped of their culture and made to believe that they were inferior. Not only were the Sami subjected to such ill treatment by the emerging governments of the area, they were also challenged by Christian missionaries who sought to erase traditional Sami practices. Over time, the tactics used to repress Sami culture became more and more sophisticated.”

One of my favorite musicians, Saami singer Mari Boine, says that as a child, she was taught to see herself as an “inferior Lappish woman” in the dominant Norwegian society. She was told that their traditional music was “of the devil.” She felt ashamed of her people and her Sami origin. As she grew up she awakened, and started to rebel against this toxic brainwashing. Her music today celebrates her indigenous heritage, combining traditional joik using the shamanic drum with jazz and rock influences. (Links to her music can be found at the end of this piece.) It just tears my soul to think of this amazing, beautiful woman being made to feel less-than. Her cultural experience makes today’s news even more poignant as Norway’s official appreciation of shamanism marks, in a small way, the beginnings of an apology.

According to Partida, Lutheran and Russian Orthodox missionaries first arrived in Sapmi in the 17th century.

“The Christian missionaries saw Sami culture as inferior and heathenistic, something that needed to be cleansed and altered for the good of the Sami people. Shamanism was viewed as a sin…”

But such action began in the area as far back as ~1000 C.E., when locals began to wear their Thors’ Hammers upside down to masquerade as crosses, in an effort to placate Church activists hellbent on their conversion.

In Norway, children were forbidden to speak their own language in school until 1959. Here’s Partida again:

“The schools also promoted the idea that Sami culture was inferior to that of the nation-states and that the Sami were citizens of their country before anything else. The ultimate goal of educating Sami children in this manner was to obliterate traditional Sami culture, which was seen as heathenistic and inferior to the Christian cultures of the nation-states. It was only a small part of the larger attempt at assimilation, which included prejudice on a governmental, scientific, and personal scale. The leaders of the nation-states believed that only through the assimilation of the Sami could they guarantee complete control over their land and thus become more powerful.”

But now, as of this week, shamanism is welcomed by this same nation-state as an officially recognized religion.

So this is HUGE.

After so many years, the indigenous shamanic practitioners of Lapland in northern Norway & Finland, the Sami Noaidje, can come out of the closet. They can practice their traditional ways in the open, and once more enjoy proper widespread appreciation for it.

I feel so happy and grateful to hear this news. I hope it marks a movement to value indigenous peoples’ ways worldwide, as they are desperately needed now in this time of enormous environmental and socioeconomic challenges.

These far northern shamanic practitioners’ worldview and practices heal in many ways, not least of which is the connection with their local migratory species, reindeer. The noiadje’s work maintains good ecopsychological relations, working with the physical and spiritual connection between the people and the land in a deep and vital way. As Mari Boine says, according to one of the folks who made a YouTube video of her song: “Nature is my God, my guide and correction. Nature is the mirror of what is inside all of us. Without the connection to nature I would be lost.”

I am thinking now of my friend, Sami author and noaidi Ailo Gaup, pictured above. I’m so happy for him, and for all of occupied Norway.

Let a joyful joik be heard across the land!

Here’s the full scoop from the Nordic Page,  3/15/12  (author unattributed, although I notice that they nabbed their second section from Wikipedia):

“This is the first time that Shamanism has been officially recognized as a religion in Norway. According to TV2, director Lone Ebeltoft in the newly founded Shamanic Federation welcomed the governor’s decision and expressed her ambition to preserve and continue the shamanistic traditions and practices in the country.

– It is about understanding and respecting nature. It is in no way mysterious. Shamanism is a world religion where we are up here in the North is committed to preserve the Sami and Norse (Arctic) tradition, she says to Nordlys.

Shamanism in Norway

The Sámi followed a shamanistic religion based on nature worship. The Sámi pantheon consisted of four general gods the Mother, the Father, the Son and the Daughter (Radienacca, Radienacce, Radienkiedde and Radienneida). There was also a god of fertility, fire and thunder Horagalles, the sun goddess Beive and the moon goddess Manno as well as the goddess of death Jabemeahkka.

Like many pagan religions, the Sámi saw life as a circular process of life, death and rebirth. The shaman was called a Noaide and the traditions were passed on between families with an ageing Noaide training a relative to take his or her place after he or she dies. While training went on as long as the Noaide lived but the pupil had to prove his or her skills before a group of Noaidi before being eligible to become a fully fledged shaman at the death of his or her mentor.

The Norwegian church undertook a campaign to Christianise the Sámi in the 16th and 17th century with most of the sources being missionaries. While the vast majority of the Sámi in Norway have been Christianised, some of them still follow their traditional faith and some Noaidi are still practising their ancient religion. Sami people are often more religious than Norwegians.”

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For more info:

Ailo Gaup’s website, Sjaman    /   (version in English, courtesy of Google Translate)

Breathtaking music from Saami singer Mari Boine: Gula Gula (my favorite song; it means “Hear the Voices of the Foremothers.”

… more: Vuoi Vuoi Mu & Idjagiedas

here she speaks of the ban on joik

… and another with Mari Boine – a mashup video of Gula Gula that also shows images of traditional life in Sapmi

Sacred Lands Film Project: Lands of the Sami

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Thanks to Hillary Webb for bringing my attention to this good news.

 

Happy Eostre! April 3, 2012

Filed under: Celtic Spirituaity,Humor,Spiritual Ecopsychology — BrujaHa @ 11:01 pm
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Easter, according to De Ratione Temporum by the Christian scholar known as “the venerable Bede” (672-735 C.E.), was named after Eostre, the Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility – in other words, the spiritual embodiment of Spring.

The Teutons lived in what now is central Europe – Germany, Austria and the like. The word for Easter in modern German is Ostern, which likely stems from Ost, meaning “East.” The sun rises in the east, and of course we in the Northern hemisphere, particularly places that have recently experienced long and bitter snows, are all celebrating the sun’s return as winter passes and the days grow longer and warmer.

This is the heart of the death and resurrection story later grafted onto the holy man Jesus – the return of life to soil, plants, birds, bugs, plants, animals, and us all. Young animals are born, their mothers’ milk flows, and from the bare branches of winter, sweet-smelling flowers and life-giving fruit now return. For one more year, we know now we will likely live.

Plus now we also get chocolate bunnies.

May your own season of rebirth go much more easily!

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(Image Note: I don’t know who drew this great bunny cartoon. If you do, please tell me and I’ll be delighted to give credit.)

 

Happy Imbolc! February 3, 2011

Beannacht Brighdhe – happy Brigid’s day!

May your ewes give plentiful milk; may your awakening plants be safe from frost and bloom abundantly once summer comes; may the pale sun grow to warm your spirit and quicken what is most precious to you.

The prehistoric Irish goddess/woman Brigid, aka Bríg (& later, the female saint Brigit) is the Irish patron of healing, poetry, learning, and smithcraft. The meaning of her name, according to Lady Augusta Gregory, is “Breo-saighit, a fiery arrow.” In a way, she’s sort of a western Saraswati. Besides her main skills listed above, she is credited in early Irish tales for the invention of the whistle (for calling each other during the night before the invention of cel phones) and of keening, a particularly moving wailing cry for mourning the death of a beloved. At this turning of the year back toward the warmth, we remember her by visiting wells or springs, and by lighting candles.

At Kildare, Ireland, one flame burned constantly in her honor for thousands of years, non-stop. It was tended by 19 priestesses in rotation, one each night in sequence. On the 20th day, the flame was tended by Brigid Herself. Men were expressly forbidden to cross the hedges to view the sacred flame. Giraldus Cambrensis reported that males who tried would go insane, die, or have their penises wither off. No messing around here! This was strictly women only.

In the middle ages, this ancient flame was extinguished by the Church in an attempt to snuff out such pagan worship – but the people, in good Celtic fashion, just switched names and began worshipping Saint Brigit instead of the goddess Brid. The holiday on Feb. 2 now became known as “Candlemas.” And Brigid’s flame was lit once more, this time by Catholic nuns, who continue to tend it to this day.

“Groundhog Day” is a remnant of Pagan spiritual practice for this time of year. I’ll admit to feeling mischievous delight every year when weather augury by rodent gets televised.

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At this time around February 2, Imbolc, how might you honor the spirit of Brigid and invite her gifts into your life?

  • You might do so by letting your springs of inspiration flow. Compose a poem, a song, a dance, a recipe, a goofy rhyme, a blog post.
  • Light a candle, with intention of allowing your inner lights of hope, strength, love, perseverance, attention, kindness, etc. to return with the light of the sun. Staring into the flame of a candle for three minutes while stilling the mind to pay attention to only that can be a powerful meditation.
  • Pick some herbs and place them in a cauldron to brew tea for healing.In what way can your health be better attended to? Imbolc offers a second chance to go for those new years’ resolutions. After all, the quickening of spring feels much more like the real new year of life beginning, eh?
  • Perhaps you need to be inside the cauldron: take a long hot bath with candles and lavender and perhaps a really good book.
  • Clean and repair your home – the hearth is another aspect of Her sacred fire.
  • You could bring in white: decorate with white flowers or wear white garments. White is an important color for Brigid’s Day – the melting of the last snows; the rising of the first flowers, which in the cold British Isles are often white snowdrops; the white milk that gives this day its other name, Imbolc (from the Gaelic oi melc, ewes’ milk, beginning to flow around now due to the birth of the spring lambs).
  • Go to a water source with reverent intention to help. Clean the debris from a well or spring, so it can flow freely and cleanly once more. (As without, so within, as the sages say.) Then sit by it and watch the birds. Listen to the frogsong. Make little offerings – perhaps of ribbons or tokens; perhaps of poetic words – and ask her blessings.

I once saw such a well deep in the forests of Brittany, the tree overhanging it festooned with petitions and offerings. It was a moving sight, and a beautiful reminder to tend the spirit of our living world.

Whether you prefer to think of her as pagan deity, Catholic saint, or the manifested qualities her name invokes: inspired eloquence, skill at forging, and healing, may the blessings of Brigid fall softly upon you this Spring like petals from an abundantly flowering tree. And may they smell sweet.

 

High Flying Witch October 6, 2010

A witch flies across the full moon on a broomstick. This is a classic Hallowe’en image; nothing more.

–Or is it?

Note how happy this witch looks. Then look for four entheogenic plants semi-hidden in the design.

Can you identify them?

Some say the use of such plant mixtures is how those witches, our European ancestors, actually went ‘flying.’  The broomstick provided a handy applicator of the “flying ointment” – a.k.a. witches’ brew? – to the mucous membranes.  (I am not making this up.)

My favorite thing about this drawing is the glee she exhibits. I get so tired of seeing witches depicted as evil, scheming, or just grumpy in their warts. I mean, really. When I was a little kid of nine or so, a teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. The book suggested things like “nurse” and “fireman.” I wrote in “Philosopher. And witch.”

Silently flying out of the window at night by moonlight, knowing the world’s unknowable secrets, casting spells, healing people with wild materials free for the taking, talking with ravens?! Yee-haw! It’s good to be a witch.

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And now, a shameless plug:

If you like this image and think, “wow, I sure wish this was a card! I’d love to send it to my witchy friends,” you’re in luck. I currently have an extremely limited edition of notecards featuring this image available for sale — 34 14, to be exact. Amaze, enchant, or horrify your friends with this esoteric knowledge in visual form!

The cards measure 4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″ and are blank inside, awaiting your own message.  Price: $3.50 each plus postage. Optional: Have the cards inscribed with a brief, personalized hand-calligraphed message of your choosing, for a mere $1 for up to 9 words (not including “antidisestablishmentarianism” or anything in Welsh.) Postage discount will be given for bulk purchases sent to one address – I’ll only charge what I’m paying. Or if you’re local, come on over and pick them up. Not only do you avoid postage costs, but I’ll make you a cup of hot brewed tea.

* Please contact me directly to order:  tfields8 [at] yahoo.com *

If you’d like this same design on a t-shirt or mug, you can get them via CafePress.

A single-color version of this original pen-and-ink drawing was the official t-shirt design for the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness conference in Seattle, WA.

Thanks for your interest (or endurance)!

 

Power of Raven (Good Wish) May 21, 2010

Alexander Carmichael 1900“Good Wish” is one of the many lovely blessings and magical invocations collected in the Scottish Highlands by Alexander Carmichael (pictured here in 1900) and compiled into his 6 volumes entitled Ortha nan Gaidheal or Carmina Gadelica.  (“Good Wish” appears on page 282 of the edited single mass market volume. No, I don’t currently own a full set: only the first two of six. My birthday is in December… 🙂 )

I like that “Good Wish” starts out by conferring “power of raven.” Ravens so often get a bad rap – in fact, all of the Corvidae do: ravens, crows, magpies, and jays. Those smart, big-mouthed birds are the avian equivalent of theater people, anarchists, feminists, culture jammers – a bit trickstery with their sense of humor, a bit wiser than you might expect, unafraid of death or gory weirdness, with one eye out for anything flamboyant and interesting; not subtle business-suited or cute-plumaged boop-boop Paris Hilton-type chirpers at all. Viva la Raven!

This invocation attempts to confer the great powers and riches (“goodness”) of nature on its recipient. Along with these, it also confers the blessings of two great human leaders, Christ and Fionn; and to top it off, it confers three valued internal qualities: honor, compassion, and love. There is evidence that in pre-Christian Irish society, maintaining one’s personal honor, including integrity of word and deed, was extremely important. Ah, for the good old days.

My favorite part of this Wish, though, is “death on pillow.” This is not something we ordinarily think of as a positive prayer since we’re so alienated from the realities of death in this culture, but by considering the many hideous alternatives, we can understand how it truly is.

By request, I like to sing an original variation of this poem to participants in my open singing group EnChantMent! while they collectively hold a single drone note, like a sung bagpipe; in this way to end our sessions with a blessing for them.

May it likewise bless all reading this now.

Drawing Down the Moon (painting by Tina Fields)

Drawing Down the Moon (painting by Tina Fields)

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Power of raven be thine

Power of eagle be thine

Power of the Fiann.

Power of storm be thine

Power of moon be thine

Power of sun.

Power of sea be thine

Power of land be thine

Power of heaven.

Goodness of sea be thine

Goodness of earth be thine

Goodness of heaven.

Each day be joyous to thee

No day be grievous to thee

Honour and compassion.

Love of each face be thine

Death on pillow be thine

Thy Saviour’s presence.

***

I made the watercoloured drawing on the right a looong time ago!  It’s very fun to be letting these old pieces fly into the world now, here.