Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mi Mean Fomhair

The Irish have a long tradition of starting seasons at the very first sign of their coming. So the summer months are May, June and July (Mi Bealtaine, Mi Meitheamh and Mi Iuil) and Autumn begins at Lunasa. The months of Autumn are then August, September and October (Mi Lunasa, Mi Mean Fomhair and Mi Deireadh Fomhair). And Winter starts at Samhain. Mi Mean Fomhair can be translated as Middle of Autumn or Middle of Harvest and Mi Deireadh Fomhair as End of Autumn or End of Harvest.

I love the way this system for Autumn links in with harvest and how it places the solstices and equinoxes at the centre of the seasons. I love the way each season begins at its conception rather than its birth. How even in the summer heat of August we know that Autumn is here. How in the cold chill of February Spring is already stirring. In a very real sense the Goddess is always pointing us to the first stirrings of hidden possibility.

And so in the middle of Autumn we stand at the Autumn Equinox - a point of balance all across Mother Earth - as the North moves into the dark and the South into the light.

Mi Mean Fomhair is such a beautiful month, the light, the climate, seem just right. The leaves are beginning to turn and soon the trees will be a riot of glorious colour and we can dance through the fallen leaves. It is a time when our Mother gives us such abundance. A time to pick apples fresh from the tree and gather blackberries from the hedgerows. A time when the moon and stars appear to shine more brightly than in the summer as if they exult in the Earth's good fortune.

And so the North moves into the dark. The Goddess has taught me to love the dark. Dark is not evil - it is the womb from which all is born. Here in Brighid's Isles we are blessed with many Neolithic womb spaces. In remote places you can just curl up inside and let the Goddess birth visions in the soul. But every home has its own womb space in winter where visions come to birth. As the dark rises it is time to draw the curtains, turn off the lights, curl up before the fire and dream dreams that can be envisioned in the reality of our world.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Patriarchy will be the end of us all

The news is full of reports that Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record this summer. Scientists monitoring the ice are saying that the reduction this year has been extreme, way beyond any models. There has been a drop of some 1,000,000 square kilometres in just one summer. Since 1980 the arctic sea ice extent has fallen from 7,800,000 sq. km to just 4,200,000 sq. km - an average of 133,000 sq. km a year.

And what is the spin on this given to us by the media? Would you believe they are talking up the "opportunities" this will give for vessels to trim thousands of miles from Europe to Asia by bypassing the Panama Canal. And if that is not bad enough they then go on to tell us that 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas could be hidden in the Arctic and there is now going to be a rush from countries including Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States to claim territory and exploit the oil and gas.

So our patriarchal response to an environmental catastrophe of monumental proportions brought on by our over use of oil and gas is for nation states to prepare for war to claim the right to extract even more oil and gas so that an environmental catastrophe can be turned into an environmental cataclysm. And a once pristine environment which has become a sink for human pollution is to become even more polluted by ship owners and multinationals making a quick buck.

I am utterly speechless.

How did we become so disconnected from our Mother's body that we seek to disfigure and rape her for our own short term satisfaction and sense of power ?

When we treat our Mother like this it is so easy to treat women like this too. According to amnesty international 1 in 3 women have been beaten, raped or abused in their lifetime. Seventy percent of the casualties of recent conflicts have been non-combatants and 80% of these have been women and children.

Reporting on Darfur amnesty said, "Women and girls are being attacked, not only to dehumanize the women themselves but also to humiliate, punish, control, inflict fear and displace women and to persecute the community to which they belong… The suffering and abuse endured by these women goes far beyond the actual rape. Rape has a devastating and ongoing impact on the health of women and girls and survivors now face a lifetime of stigma and marginalisation from their own families and communities." One harrowing interview includes the following, "Five to six men would rape us, one after the other, for hours during six days, every night. My husband could not forgive me after this, he disowned me."

In the face of this amnesty international called for women to have access to health care when complications arise from abortion and to defend women's access to abortion, when their health or human rights are in danger.

And the patriarchal response to this massive human tragedy in a land that has no oil below its deserts is to call for a cut of all funding for amnesty's work. No wonder one of the fathers of this patriarchal sect included this line in his daily prayer, "Father, I thank you that I was not born a woman."

I am utterly speechless.

I long and yearn for the day when to be born a woman is the highest honour and all people are re-connected to our Mother. My Goddess prayer is that it is not too late.

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