Friday, April 25, 2008

Like a Dream...

It all felt as though I was walking through a dream as I walked upon the dirt path filled with twigs and leaves. The air around me seemed to shimmer and move as though it were alive. My body seemed to move on its own, knowing the exact path to take while my mind could only watch.

A light seemed to be coming from everywhere at once as though the plants and trees radiated with it. I saw nor heard any animals or insects as I walked as if I were the only living thing that walked through the trees. The only sound coming from each foot fall as I walked. Every now and then I would catch movement out of the corner of my eye. It was slight and always disappeared when I turned my head.

As I continued my journey, I began to catch the faint sound of music, so soft that I first believed it was my mind playing tricks on me. As the time passed however, the music became more distinct and I could clearly make out what sounded like a flute being played in a lively mood. I tried to will my body to stop so I could listen more closely to the music being played, but my body would not listen to me. The music began to get louder and I could make out the soft beat of drums.

Through the haze and shimmering of the air, I stepped into a grove surrounded by large trees of every kind. In the center of this grove there were many people, they all were dancing to the music and there were table set up around the perimeter of the grove. It seemed as though a feast of some sort was taking place. I was so entranced by what I saw that I didn't even realize that I had stopped at the edge of the grove. I was snapped out of it as soon as I heard my name being called. I realized that someone had walked up to me and calling me by my name. He and I stared at one another for a few moments, a big smile spread across his face and he said "Welcome friend..."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Children of Lir as told by Mara Freeman

"Out of the world's thread, fates' fingers spinning. Some lives are shot with gold, others with shadow. This is a tale of enchantment and exile, of four lives woven together by white swan's feather, storm and ice and the sound of a little bell.
Long ago, when the high gods and goddesses known as the Tuatha de Danaan lived in Ireland, before they were driven into the hollow hills to become the faery folk, there was a great king whose name was Lir. And this Lir had four lovely children - Fionnuala, Conn, Fiacra and Aodh. Fionnuala was the eldest, and she was as fair as the young rowan tree; her brothers Fiacra and Conn were swift and strong as running water, and Aodh was a little bright-eyed baby boy. Everyone in Lir's court on the Hill of the White Field loved them - except their stepmother, Aoifa, who was jealous of their father's love for them. And her hatred pursued them as the wolf pursues the fawn.
One day, she took them in her chariot to the lake of Darvra to bathe in the waters. But as they played on the shore's edge, laughing and splashing, catching rainbows of mist and light between their fingers, she struck them with a rod of enchantment, and turned them into four white swans.
"You will swim on this lake for three hundred years," she said, "then three hundred years on the narrow sea of Moyle, and three hundred years on the isles of the Western Sea. This only will I grant you: that you shall still have human voices and there will be no music in the world sweeter than yours. And so shall you stay until a druid with a shaven crown comes over the seas, and you hear the sound of a little bell."
The swans spread their wings and rose up, circling the lake, and as they flew they sang their sorrow in the voices of human children. When the king found out what had happened, he banished Aoifa from his court for ever, and he rode like the wind to the lake and called his children to him. "Come Fionnuala, come Conn, come Aodh, come Fiacra!" And there they came, flying to him over the lake: four white swans, and they huddled sadly around him as he knelt by the water's edge.
King Lir said through his tears, "I cannot give you back your shapes till the spell is ended, but come with me now to the house that is mine and yours, dear white children of my heart."
But the swan that was Fiacra said, "We cannot cross your threshold father, for we have the hearts of wild swans. We must fly into the dusk and feel the wave moving beneath us. Only our voices are of the children you knew, and the songs you taught us - that is all. Gold crowns are red in the firelight, but redder and fairer far is the dawn on the water."
The king reached out his hand to touch them, but the swans rose into the air, and their voices were lost in the sound of beating wings.
* * * * * * * * *
Three hundred years they flew over Lake Darvra and swam upon its waters. Many came to listen to their singing, for their songs brought joy to those in sorrow and lulled the sick to sleep. But when three hundred years were over, the swans rose suddenly and flew away to the straits of Moyle that flow between Scotland and Ireland. A cold, stormy sea it was and lonely. The swans had no-one to listen to their songs, and little heart for singing on the wild and chanting sea. Then one winter, a great storm rushed upon them and scattered them far into the dark and pitiless night.
In the pale morning, Fionnuala fetched up on the Carraig-na-Ron, the Rock of Seals. Her feathers were broken and bedraggled with salt sea-water, and she lamented long for her brothers, fearing never to see them again. But at last she sees Conn limping towards her, his feathers soaked, his head hanging, and now Fiacra, tired and faint, unable to speak a word for the cold. Her heart gave them a great welcome, and she sheltered Conn under her right wing and Fiacra under her left.
"Now," said Fionnuala, "if only Aodh would come to us, we would be happy indeed." And as the first evening star rose in the sky, they catch sight of the little swan that is Aodh paddling valiantly over the waves towards them. Fionnuala held him close under the feathers of her breast. As they huddled together, the water froze their feet and wing-tips to the rock, so that when they flew up, skin and feathers remained behind.
In the morning they turned westward towards the island of Glora in the Western Sea, and settled on the Lake of Birds till three hundred more years had passed . Then at last the Children of Lir soared homeward to the Hill of the White Field - but they found all desolate and empty, with nothing but roofless green raths and forests of nettles: no house, no fire, no hearthstone. Gone were the packs of dogs and drinking horns, silent the songs in lighted halls. And that was the greatest sorrow of all - that there lived no-one who knew them in the house where they were born. They rested the night in that desolate place, singing very softly the sweet music of the sidhe.
At dawn they returned to the island, and it was about this time that bless├Ęd Patrick came into Ireland to spread the faith of Christ. One of his followers, Saint Kemoc, built a little church by the lake-shore on the Isle of Glora. In a break of day, the saint arose from his heather bed, wrapping his rough brown robe around him to keep out the chill, and rang the bell for matins. On the other side of the island, the swans started up and stretched their necks in fear.
"What is that dreadful thin sound we hear?" said the brothers.
Fionnuala said, "That is the sound of the bell of Kemoc and soon our enchantment will be passing away."
They began to sing gladly and the sweet strains of faery music floated across the lake and in through the reed walls of the cell. St. Kemoc rose in wonder and walked down to the shore's edge, and saw them, lit by the morning sun: four white swans singing with the voices of children! They came to rest at the saint's feet and told him their story and he brought them to his little church. Every day they would hear Mass with him, sitting on the altar. Their beauty gladdened his heart and the heart of the swans were at peace.
Then one day Fionnuala asked the saint to baptize them, but no sooner did the holy water touch the swans than their feathers fell away, and in their place stood three lean withered old men, and a thin withered old woman. In a cracked whisper, the woman that was Fionnuala said:
"Bury us, cleric, in one grave. Lay Conn on my left, and Fiacra on my right, and on my breast place Aodh, my baby brother."
So they were buried, a cairn was raised above them, and their names written in Ogham. And that was the fate of the Children of Lir.
But it is said, that on windy days in the west of Ireland, by lake-shore or ocean strand, you can sometimes hear children’s voices in the air, singing sweeter than you’ve ever heard, as they play with their father at home in the blessed Summerland."


Time Spent with Friends

The sun's rays shine through the foliage of the surrounding trees, casting some spots in light and leaving others in shadow. A bird begins to sing melodically off in the distance and the music a grasshopper makes can be heard all over. The air grows warmer at each passing moment causing small beads of sweat to roll down the man's forehead. He has traveled this path many time durring his lifetime and the warmth does not seem to bother him any longer.

A small breeze blows through the trees, causing the branches and the newly awakened leaves to shift allowing even more light to shine through, giving the man a momentary relief from the heat. He looks upward as he walks, taking note how blue the sky looks from what he can see through the canopy above him.

Spring was coming to an end as life began anew, making way for summer and the time for growth and learning. Lost in his thoughts, the man stepped through to find a small waterfall situated on the side of a rock wall. The sound of the water as it slid down the rocks to land in the pool at the bottom was very tranquil to the man. He walked over to a boulder that sat beside the pool and sat down upon it.

The pool beneath the waterfall was as wide as he was tall, and not that deep. The water was clear enough that you could see all the way to the bottom. If you sat at the right angel facing the waterfall you could even see a rainbow. This was the perfect place to come to collect his thoughts. He used this place to forget about everything in the outside world, only to focus on the here and now when he needed to. Most often of late he would journey here to evaluate his life and whether he is walking the right paths. However, today was not one of those days; today he came just be there, to be at peace.

It was not long before his friends began to appear. He first heard the sound of leaves rustling as they learned of who it was that sat beside the pool. From far away they looked a lot like fireflies, but as they drew closer you could make out the little bodies covered in what consisted of leaves and grass that made up the shirts, pants, and dresses. Their wings were the most beautiful transluscent colors that seemed to almost glow against the shadows.

First one or two came to land near him, then more came. Most went straight for the pond to splash and play while a few came to sit with the man. Their voices were very high and hard to understand, but the man had visited many times and understand them perfectly. The man enjoyed the time he spent here, he always regretted leaving when the time came.

Time slipped by and before the man new it the shadows of the forest began to lengthen. He said his farewells to his little friends and began his trek back through the forest towards his home. The man had very little thoughts as he walked, only remembering today's events, making sure he would carry those memories for a long time.

As he emerged from the forest, he looked toward the horizon and he saw large black clouds that were just crossing over the mountains that he saw. He could smell the rain in the air and knew that it would hit the next day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In The Seven Woods by W. B. Yeats

"I HAVE heard the pigeons of the Seven Woods
Make their faint thunder, and the garden bees
Hum in the lime-tree flowers; and put away
The unavailing outcries and the old bitterness
That empty the heart. I have forgot awhile
Tara uprooted, and new commonness
Upon the throne and crying about the streets
And hanging its paper flowers from post to post,
Because it is alone of all things happy.
I am contented, for I know that Quiet
Wanders laughing and eating her wild heart
Among pigeons and bees, while that Great Archer,
Who but awaits His hour to shoot, still hangs
A cloudy quiver over Pairc-na-lee."

("In the Seven Woods" is reprinted from In the Seven Woods. W.B. Yeats. New York: Macmillan, 1903.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The fields shine brilliantly as the sun reflects off the water droplets that lie on each blade of grass. As far as you can see, the sun's beams break through the mass of dark clouds that brought the storm. The air is cool as a soft breeze makes its way across the fields, giving them the look of an ocean as the grass moves with the wind and the light bouncing off of the water.

At the edge of a forest, there lies a tree fallen with age. Atop the tree sits an old wise man who leans on a staff as he watches the fields before him. His hair and beard have turned white and his skin hangs loosely about him giving him the look of being blown over by the tiniest gust of wind.

He sits there, contemplating his life and the life around him. He looks out across the fields, reminiscing about times past. In his memories he can remember children playing laughing and playing all day long among the tall grasses. He also remembers the battles that have been fought and the lives lost. He has lived a long life, seen many seasons come and go, seen children grow up and have children and then those children having children of their own. He reaches down to place his weathered hand upon the fallen tree. He can still feel the life there. It is not as strong as it had once been, but it was still there.

Another breeze sweeps across the fields making the grass move like the waves towards the forest where the wise man sits. There, upon the fallen tree, the wise man looks out one last time on the place that he remembers and he smiles as one last breath escapes his lips and his eyes close.