October 13, 2017

I watch the birds, black headed gulls,
rooks and solitary crows,
heads cocked, a momentary lull
in their raucous cacophony.

They listen for the rumbling
of worms turning underground,
leatherjackets tumbling
through the whispering sounds
of complaining roots

protesting at the unseemly speed
and heavy tread of the luminous
orange centipede
as she flees the hideous
devouring beaks.

Deaf to this turmoil,
afraid to delve beneath the surface
of the deep dark soil,
you cannot see the secret places
hidden in your heart.

Seated high in my vertiginous tree
like a succubus grafted onto bark,
I see you watching me,
lusting after my luscious, dark,
venomous fruit.

And who am I?
Count the grains of sand upon the beach,
or the stars that wash the midnight sky,
I am the beginning and the end,
the prize you long to reach.

I am the Cailleach washing in the stream
cleansing your life blood from my thighs,
I am the Morrigan screaming over battle scenes,
wreaking havoc and rejoicing in the cries
of foolish, greedy men.

I am Pandora with my box of tricks,
observing the foolish lift the lid,
unleashing hidden desires, a heady mix
of forbidden delights amid
decadence, betrayal and regret.

I have a heart, you know,
a vast unfathomable place,
where only those who understand me go,
only those deserving see my face
and live to tell the tale.

I am Death in Her feathered cloak,
Kali at Destruction’s door,
Hecate smiling as her hounds run amok,
run then, run until you can run no more,
I catch you all.

Doreen Hopwood

The spirits fly about in great clouds, up and down the face of the world like the starlings, and come back to the scenes of their earthly transgressions. No soul of them is without the clouds of earth, dimming the brightness of the works of earth. In bad nights, the Sluagh shelter themselves behind little russet docken stems and little yellow ragwort stalks. They fight battles in the air as men do on the earth.

A Carmichael
Carmina Gadelica (1928)

Hover over the Fairy mounds

October 13, 2017

Ben Bulben

At night, particularly in November, lights often travel along these paths and hover over the sidhe [fairy mounds]. They sometimes move in formation. They may be all white, or they may be of different colours – ‘red, green, blue, yellow.’ A very old gentleman from Collrai, Co. Sligo… tells me that the lights move rapidly, and I have myself seen white lights moving at high speed up the side of Ben Bulben, a mountain renowned for this phenomenon. These lights have been known in Ireland since antiquity. In ‘The Colloquy with the Ancients’ Bodh Derg refers to Brugh na Boinne as ‘yonder brugh chequered with the many lights hard by you here.’ Such lights are not confined to marshy ground and so cannot be will o’ the wisps. They are genuine phenomena, but no scientific explanation has been found for them.

Peter Alderson Smith
W. B. Yeats and the Tribes of Danu

to seduce men

October 13, 2017

In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, and when her lord is dead, to her sons; a woman must never be independent … It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world, for that reason the wise never remain unguarded in the company of females … Women, shudra (the lowest of four castes), dog and crow embody untruth, sin and darkness.

Kama Sutra

coping with reality

October 13, 2017

I take for granted that for the imaginative writer, the exercise of the imagination is part of the basic process of coping with reality, just as actors need to act all the time to make up for some deficiency in their sense of themselves. Years ago, sitting at the café outside the American Express building in Athens, I watched the British actor Michael Redgrave (father of Vanessa) cross the street in the lunchtime crowd, buy Time at a magazine kiosk, indulge in brief banter with the owner, sit down, order a drink, then get up and walk away – every moment of which, every gesture, was clearly acted, that is, stressed and exaggerated in a self-conscious way, although he obviously thought that no one was aware who he was, and he didn’t think that anyone was watching him. I take it that the same process works for the writer, except that the writer is assigning himself his own roles. I have a sense of certain gathering obsessions and roles, certain corners of the field where the next stage of the hunt will be carried on. I know that if I don’t write, say on holiday, I begin to feel unsettled and uneasy, as I gather people do who are not allowed to dream.

J G Ballard
Paris Review (winter 1984)