Why Do I Do It? That peace stuff about Ireland? I can answer that question in four notes, sung to the words “Oh Danny Boy.” That short musical phrase, from an ancient air first set to paper in the 1700’s, goes right to my heart. And for anyone who’s heard the tune at a funeral, its profound effect is undeniable. And so this year’s St. Patrick’s season begins. You’ll see shamrocks, people in very loud, some would say downright obnoxious, shades of green, many of whom are likely to be highly intoxicated, and all manner of Celtic revelry and celebration. 2008 is a very special occasion for me and the Irish.
In the Spring of 1998 the Good Friday Peace Accord was signed by longtime political enemies, and then approved by voters across the island, North and South. The people demanded that their political leaders find a way for all to live in peace, and I was hooked. Peace is that one ideal to which all spiritual paths and practitioners aspire. In my ten years of watching the Irish people work toward a lasting settlement, slow step by slow arduous step, I’ve had many occasions to contemplate its meaning.
During a 1999 protest against the Good Friday Accord, a man in a wheelchair held up a sign with large red letters that read, “REAL VICTIM.” At the time I was reading the work of Caroline Myss, so his sign jumped from out of the TV screen into my consciousness. I would never judge this man, for I have not had to walk in his shoes for so much as one single day. From the news story I surmised that he had been injured permanently in one of the region’s many horrible bombings. But his words haunted me. I thought about Ms. Myss’ writings about the culture of “Woundology” and her assertion that after a certain point, our victimhood becomes unhealthy. I actually don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to deal with some wound or another. In some cases, the cause is explicitly political. For most the traumas are less obvious or dramatic, but no less painful to endure and challenging to reconcile. In her book “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can,” Ms. Myss ultimately concludes that forgiveness is the solution. By forgiving, we are not condoning the behavior of the perpetrator. Rather we are making a clear and conscious choice to no longer allow that past experience to be our primary identification. It’s a “that was then, this is now” kind of clarity and philosophy. She also discusses at great length the dangers of bonding to one another in our pain, and the inevitable futility of doing so. Eventually someone will want to end the cycle of suffering and grow and heal, and this destabilizes relationships founded on mutual wounds. And so it was with the man on TV. The world around him had collectively decided that the time to move on had come. And there he was, railing against change, against peace.
Another moment in this ten year journey that stands out for me is that of the Omagh bombing. In late August of 1998, when the Peace Accord was new and fragile and Northern Ireland’s political future was still very uncertain, those who didn’t want peace tried to stop it in its tracks. In a crowded city center on a Sunday afternoon the bomb went off. With tragic irony this incident became the most deadly in the 30 years of the Troubles. Fortunately hate, violence and destruction have their limits. Instead of reigniting the terrible cycle of retaliation, that bombing inspired greater support for peace. It reminded the people, in grim and harrowing detail, of precisely what they so desperately longed to leave behind. In each moment we choose and those choices create our future.
Of all of the stories of the Troubles, the one that I think will always mean the most to me is of a man, now deceased, named Gordon Wilson. In November of 1987 the Troubles had been going on for twenty years, peace process after peace process had failed and the violence was relentless. At that year’s Remembrance (Veteran’s Day) parade in a small town called Enniskillen, the IRA targeted and bombed elderly, retired British soldiers who had gathered in the town center for the annual ceremony. Amongst the dead was a young nurse who had come to the event with her father, Mr. Wilson. A BBC reporter caught up with him later that evening and this is what he said.
"She held my hand tightly, and gripped me as hard as she could. She said, 'Daddy, I love you very much.' Those were her exact words to me, and those were the last words I ever heard her say. But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie. She loved her profession. She was a pet. She's dead. She's in Heaven and we shall meet again.”
A Protestant, he would not allow his daughter’s death to be used to fuel Loyalist retribution. Her death and his tender and profound words began to change things.
So when “the pipes” come calling this year, if you see me with a tear in my eye, it won’t be for the sorrows of Ireland, or myself. It will be for the Love of people like the late Gordon Wilson. It will be for the Irish people, who just this past May formed a joint government where Protestant and Catholic serve together. It will be for those kids who now go to school together that I’m always going on about. And it will be for the dawning of St. Patrick’s Day in a new Northern Ireland.
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.
And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You'll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.
And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll bend and tell me that you love me
I simply sleep in peace until you come to me.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Though roughly 5,134 miles (8,262 km) lie between me and the staff of NICIE in Belfast, we're getting together a week from Sunday, February the 24th. We're also inviting everyone from Strangford Integrated College in Co. Down, people from all of the integrated schools throughout Northern Ireland for that matter, anyone in the world who wants to be part of the festivities, and of course, you. On the 24th we're uniting at iTunes to celebrate and support peace.
30 years ago Northern Ireland was for all intensive purposes, at war. Though it will not be named as such for all sorts of legal and political reasons, I imagine, all of the horror we understand as war was the day to day experience of the people there. In that very difficult setting, the work of the integrated education movement began via NICIE. They are the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, and what they have been doing for 27 years now is establishing schools that Protestant and Catholics attend together. Their belief that educating children together would ultimately yield peace was correct.
Ten years ago people across Ireland voted for a peace process in the form of the Good Friday Agreement, and I was hooked. It's too long of a story for this post (there are some press accounts if you really want to know more). But suffice it to say, the inspiration that stirred my heart way back then has never left. In fact the approach of Spring each year reminds of that momentous and hopeful time. On my journey into trying to understand peace through the story of Ireland, I've traveled there, North and South, made friends with the people of NICIE, and enjoyed the opportunity to support that peace with my music. This on-line event affirms everything I believe in.
I believe we can help one another with something as simple as downloading a song. I believe that political activism makes a difference. And mostly, I believe that most people want to live in peace, whatever their ideological differences, and that the example of N. Ireland clearly demonstrates that peace is attainable.
I'd write a lot more if time only permitted, but I'm packing for an overdue long weekend holiday in San Diego. I just wanted to post here and ask people to please help me to get the word out about our special one-day, on-line fund-raiser. Of the $1.99 cost of a legal download at iTunes for this music video, $1.39 will be donated to NICIE. And with enough downloads on one day, we have a shot of making the iTunes Top 100 Music Video Charts. The students who star in this video, and their dedicated teachers Leah and Richard, are from one of these integrated schools, and are more than deserving of the recognition. Let's do it for them, their parents, for NICIE and for peace.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
In terms of planning for this eventful lunar cycle, the word faith comes to mind. All that is sound will hold, and that which no longer serves our well-being may be released at this time. Have the courage to ask for what truly gives your life joy, and these eclipses will help you begin attaining it. This Spring marks my tenth year of reading professionally. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all of these years of watching the stars and planets move and interact with clients’ lives, it is the power of eclipses to clear paths and promote healthy change. The first eclipse falls on February 6th, with the new moon. Btw, that is also the day Louise Hay will be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I normally recommend taking stock of our lives at the dark moon in order to set clear intentions at the new moon. With this year’s first eclipse on hand to usher in this moon, reflection and clarity are of particular significance. Whether you start taking bold, decisive steps toward your goals on the 6th or simply affirm them to yourself and to the Universe, you will being doing so under very special influences and conditions. One of the best ways of determining if your intention is right for you is to ask yourself one simple question. Does this idea make my heart sing? Your body will give you the answer. Another aspect of your intention to consider with the sun and moon in aquarius is service to others. Does your goal benefit others? I’ve seen the Universe green light humanitarian efforts much faster than self-serving ones, which makes perfect metaphysical sense to me.
Once this pure and loving intention is given to the Universe, have faith that you and your endeavor will be fully supported, and listen for the Guidance that comes to you. The second eclipse at the full moon on the 20th may give your intention the grounding and direction it needs to manifest. The moon will be in virgo where saturn is, so look for very clear and concrete instructions from the Universe as to what steps to take next. To remind you, jupiter is still in capricorn where it will be until next January. So we have incredibly practical and reliable support on-hand. We may be asked to exercise our discipline (not always the fun thing to do). But if we do so, the rewards will be substantial. Then simply trust the infinite Wisdom of the Divine to make the path before you joyous and peaceful.
In terms of the wider world we live in, these insights have come to me. I believe that February will bring resolution to the writer’s strike. My sense it that it will also be another turbulent month for Wall Street, likely more so than January. Once past the storm, we’ll begin a slow, steady and very gradual recovery. We’re in a long period of economic corrections (saturn’s influence in my view). And while challenging, the changes made under these conditions will ultimately restore healthier ways of living and doing business. And in the meantime, new opportunities will be created for those adhering to and aligning with responsible practices. For example, people who have been priced out of over heated housing markets will now be able to own homes. Their loans, in contrast to ones made in the recent past, will be granted under stricter yet much wiser terms. While saturn is in virgo, investments and developments in innovative energy technologies can finally begin to relieve over dependence on foreign oil sources (thus providing greater global stability) and create much greener sources of energy. The tough love we may be forced to practice now and in the next year and a half, may well yield a much brighter tomorrow. So as February brings Super Tuesday and more primary elections to the United States, I would ask everyone to hold the intention for peace, healing and the highest and best good of our planet. Not much to ask for, right?
In closing I want to leave you with a few other notes. The video for peace that I recently made with students from N. Ireland is now on sale at iTunes. All proceeds from video sales are being donated to NICIE, who help parents establish integrated schools throughout the region. Just look it up in their music video section under the song title "Get Up" or the artist Awakening Queen Maebh. Peace for $2 - that's a bargain! In planetary news, venus (love ruler) moves into aquarius on the 17th, mercury goes direct on the 18th, the sun moves into pisces on the 19th and it will oppose saturn on the 24th. If none of that makes any sense to you, please consider doing one of the following: get a totally FREE chart at our website or have a reading with one of the very talented readers at our sites, 12Angel and 12Listen. In February we’re running a special every day of the month in celebration of 2, as in 2 eclipses, 2 hearts, 2 sites and 2 readers. In fact 2 readers will be on sale each day for this month for $2.12 per minute all day (or as long as their voices hold up!). My sale dates are the 4th and 19th with the psychic I love to flirt with the most, Keith, the 9th with one of most popular new readers DeMari, and the 29th with Drueann, my sister of Avalon. We’re so happy to work together on that day! Lastly, in announcements, another one of my friends is blooming. I love spotlighting others for this very reason, watching them grow, shine and help others with their work. Her name is Nicole and she’s launched her new website which is a virtual hub of wonderful metaphysical resources. Please visit her.
So there you have it, the mysteries of eclipses revealed, or at least my take on them and my interpretation of the bigger trends. Wishing all a very happy Valentine’s Day. For those of you curious as to what happened since we wrote abundance checks at the beginning of this moon, please see my previous blog entry. Along with follow up details to that experiment, in it I’ve also placed a ritual for creating more romantic love in your life that can be done on the 6th or 14th. This year’s Valentine’s Day has some very favorable aspects. So enjoy!
Love and light always,