Our level of thinking is directly related to our authentic self. The more we think, the less authentic we are and the less thinking, the more authentic we become. It’s a conundrum. How do we lessen our thoughts without overthinking it? Some people are masters at switching off and allowing their flow of thoughts to gently drip at a slower pace. Others find that the more they try to turn off the thinking tap, the more gushing and muddied the waters become. Meditation is generally cited as the best approach to quietening the mind. However, it is not a quiet hat to pull over your thinking cap to silence all your thoughts. It takes continuity of practice.
The road to authenticity begins at the point when we can no longer live with our conditioned self, the self bound by tradition, beliefs and expectation. We may come to this point through a personal crisis, or perhaps we might come in contact with an authentic person who ignites the flame of the authentic self within us. In my case, it was a combination of both. If we do not undertake this journey, we will continue to struggle and blame others for our shortcomings and frustrations. Worse still, we will project our dissatisfied self onto the people around us. Life is a mirror, it will reflect and attract the many facets of our character. Everyone is living a life created by their thoughts and these thoughts are generally caused by early conditioning, limited beliefs and expected achievements.
We must allow the emergence of our authentic self, we must encourage it, water it with conscious exercises such as breathing. Read the words of spiritual masters. Practice mindfulness, not only through meditation but in mundane tasks also. Become present to whatever it is you are doing in this moment. Otherwise, we will become misanthropes, at odds with ourselves and our fellow man because we cannot bear to see our limitations reflected to us through their thoughts, words and actions. Every political leader, celebrity or friend will become a mirror which we will want to crack from top to bottom because of the feeling it evokes in us.
Authenticity is a kind of inner rebellion. The true self struggles to outgrow the tight bud of ego, and to bloom in all its glory. After all, it is a seed of the cosmos. No less a star than those spilling forth from any cosmic nebula, straining to make their mark in the galaxy. We are star seeds, planted by the governing principle of the cosmos. To bloom, we must allow our conditioned self to wither, and watch as our authentic self flowers and brightens up our corner of the universe.
The embrace of loved ones, moments shared in a busy café, or the joy of driving to a favourite beauty spot for a bracing walk are all simple pleasures put on hold for almost a year now. Loneliness, illness and death have shadowed our communities and our nations, and the coping mechanisms people employ to deal with stress, anxiety and grief have been stripped away during successive lockdowns. Social distancing, a term in itself that seems to contradict the purpose of society, has caused a secondary impact that will reverberate for years to come, perhaps changing forever our habits and rituals as a society.
We were cautioned about the catastrophe that awaited us if we didn’t adapt our ways and reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. Scientists and environmentalists issued a chorus of warnings about the perilous state of our planet. Our planet was in danger and we, humanity, were the cause. It seems to me that we were always the ones in danger, the planet existed millions of years before us, it knows how to rid itself of threats to its continuance. Maybe it is an arrogance in humans that we felt we must save the planet. We must save ourselves from the reaction of the planet if we continue to abuse its energy supply. The planet has its own intelligence and will deal with us in its own way. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for ignorance. We cannot ignore the fact that we do not own the earth’s resources, we are guests here. If a guest entered our home and started pilfering our belongings, or littering our living room carpet with plastic and rubbish, there’s no doubt we would show them the door. The intelligence that guides us also guides the planet. It too, shows unwelcome guests the door.
Evolution has been happening on the planet for billions of years. The fittest survive, and thrive. Humans have thrived and multiplied to the detriment of other species. There is an imbalance. We must evolve as a species. This doesn’t mean we need to grow an extra thumb or expand our lung capacity. On a physical level, we do need to develop immunity against new viruses, however, the real shift must be an evolution in consciousness. We must develop an innate intelligence that connects us to the governing principle of the planet and the cosmos. If we continue to rely on the opinion of scientists and politicians to guide our path, we can readily ignore their opinions and advice. If we have a direct connection to the governing principle of the cosmos, we shall act accordingly, in harmony with every other living thing on the planet.
We must adapt and learn to interact with each other and the planet in a more conscious, harmonious way. Perhaps then we can return without guilt, or fear to our favourite beauty spots, cafés and bars.
It was already infected when it came our way
but the world gambled and played on at the
game of life. We were halted in our tracks,
leaving muddy footprints on the elderly, the
vulnerable, the carers and the poor.
We come out of this year knowing that
all lives matter, and that there isn’t just one
deadly virus but many and unfortunately,
there is no vaccine for prejudice, ignorance
and fear. For these afflictions, we must inject
ourselves with tolerance, hope, and love.
May forgiveness and unity be the gifts we
give each other this holiday season.
I am a seeker with a gypsy soul; adventure is the sum of my parts. Yet, it is always a kind of amiable pastime to dwell on the possibility of finding a place to call home. As the years roll by and the past recedes into a collage of faded photographs and occasional flashes of memory, I wonder what home means to me. Is it a country, a house, a family or merely a thought construct to tame my wandering soul?
For many people home means a family unit living under one roof. We grow up in our parents’ house with siblings and call it ‘home’. When we move out and make a new family unit, we call that home. I know several adults who always refer to the place they grew up as their home. I stopped that when my mother passed away, seventeen years after my father. Home left me and memories faded, no longer compounded by family get-togethers which invariably led down rural byways to childhood, enhanced by the passage of time into faded sepia photographs. Sometimes I dream in colour and I see the vividness of summer days spent on the farm of my childhood, tossing the hay, picking fruit, playing hide-and-seek with my sisters in the hay barn. Ironically, when someone presents me with a colour photograph from my youth, I recall the memory in black-and-white, a kind of foggy moment captured on camera. But my best memories are moments that no lens could capture, my reaction to the microcosm of nature, of life; tiny shells glistening like treasures in the sand, a butterfly emerging from its pupa, a bumble bee intent on tickling the extended fronds of a flower, tadpoles wiggling in a pool of water, endless moments in close proximity to unfolding life. Life birthing every new moment from the one before, like a telescopic event where years, seasons, days and moments in time recreated a new one especially for me. To me, this was home.
Decades on from my first close encounter with a ladybird tickling its way across my chubby fingers, I have witnessed many habitats and ecosystems on my travels and crossed paths with more poisonous creatures than my three-year-old self would ever care to witness. However, it is only when I return to the land of my youth, when I register specific smells and delight in the microcosm of local habitats, that I realise that I too, am a specific flower of this ecosystem. And this is what home means to me.
In Irish mythology, Clíodhna is a Queen of the Banshees in the Tuatha Dé Danann (A pantheon of gods). Clíodna is a powerful banshee that rules as queen over the fairy women of the hills. Irish legend has it that her mournful cry can be heart at midnight before the passing of a loved one.
Étaín is derived from a diminutive form of an old Irish word for passion or jealousy. When Midir, an elder of the Tuatha Dé Danann ( Celtic pantheon of gods) falls for Étaín, he marries her much to the ire of his rejected first wife. In her jealous rage, she casts a spell on Étaín.turning her into a beautiful scarlet fly. Midir is unaware of the enchantment on his beautiful young bride. The magical winged creature becomes his constant companion and he loses all interest in other women.
In Irish Mythology (pron. Sive) was cursed by a dark sorcerer of the Tuatha Dé Danann. If he couldn’t have her, no-one would. He transformed her into a deer where she lived in the wilds for three years, trying to evade the hunters’ spear.
A servant of the sorcerer took pity on Sadhbh, and told her how to break the spell – If she set foot in one of the forts of the Fianna (Mythical tribe) the spell would be broken. Bounding through glens and forests she made her way to the home of Fionn mac Cumhaill (leader of the Fianna) where he was out hunting with his warriors. Thanks to Fionn’s magical hounds, she was spared. These hounds were also under a spell from their original human form and recognised the deer as a woman. Fionn and his party led Sadhbh back to his home and as soon as her hooves touched the ground within the fort, Sadhbh shed her deer’s hide and revealed herself as a beautiful woman.
My first volume of poetry ‘The Soul in Words’ is available in paperback and e-book format. Find out more here. colletteomahony.com/published-books-paperback/
As coronavirus rips through our nations taking too many lives, the shock wave of illness and death is grinding slowly to a halt as fear about the financial implications takes over as the foremost consequence of this killer pandemic, demonstrating that after the threat of death, financial ruin comes close behind.
Every country moves at a different rate out of full lock down, each one looking to the next to see what is working and what is not, balancing re-opening the economy while minimising the risk of a second spike in covid-19 cases. I don’t envy world leaders their difficult task. While coronavirus exposes underlying health issues and mercilessly robs people of their loved ones, so too does it expose world leaders who did not make their nation’s health a priority. Some countries, such as Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany moved quickly to prioritise the nation’s health and while they had fatalities, it was a fraction of the countries who favoured the economy over the elderly, finance over front line workers.
Here in the UK over 35,000 people have died since mid-March. A shocking loss to the country. These are not statistics but lives, hopes, dreams; voters who went to the polls last December and voted for their political leaders. The issue of the day was getting Brexit done. Few focused on health care and the repercussions of an underfunded NHS (National Healthcare System). The election running field was pretty much one sided with the Tories galloping home. Fast forward three months to early March and the onset of the pandemic; the Prime Minister fell at the first hurdle, and the rest of the field scrambled to avoid disaster. Sadly, they did not succeed. Britain is not the only country whose political hierarchy were exposed by the pandemic. Capitalist leaders who begrudgingly enforced a lock down, too late in many cases, demonstrated that administrations value money over lives.
I wonder what we can learn from our leaders, not just in our own country but from the leaders around the world. Do they reflect aspects in all of us, part empathy, part materialistic? How often do we weigh up the monetary cost above the social or civic cost? The mental health implications arising from not just the lock down, but from the national and international loss of life, will be great. We humans have more in common than we have differences. One thing that unites us is our emotions, our ability to feel happiness and joy, grief and sadness. The months of coronavirus have cast a long shadow over humanity, which may take years to lift.
Our leaders are really just a reflection of us, our light and our shadow, only they are the ones in the spotlight, the ones we abdicate responsibility to. Maybe it’s time to put ourselves under the spotlight, to asses our empathy, to see if we favour finance over health, and comfort over caution. We are all in this together, and it is up to us to keep taking steps towards a better future. We can’t continue to put responsibility for important issues in the hands of government and blame them when they get it wrong. While it is up to us to hold those in power accountable, we can’t fall into a comatose state in front of the TV and then rail against our world leaders for the state of the world. We must educate ourselves on environmental and health issues, and the long term implication these have on us as humans and the rest of the planet. If humanity is to survive, we the people, are its only hope.
Collette O’Mahony 22/05/2020
This is the first of a series of poems I am writing based on Celtic goddesses. In Celtic mythology, Fand takes the form of an otherworldly sea bird. In her sea bird form, she flies with a flock of enchanted birds, with each pair joined together by a silver chain. As goddess of the sea, Fand offers balance between the inner and outer states of consciousness. She helps us heal our emotions as we seek to understand of our deepest truth.
In Irish mythology, Cana Cludhmor created the harp from a dream. She is often referenced as an Irish goddess of music, inspiration and dreams. Late one evening, she left to take a midnight stroll to clear her head. She heard beautiful music on the wind and was lulled into a deep sleep on the beach. When she woke up the next morning, Cana realised the wind had created the music by blowing through partially rotted sinew still attached to a whale skeleton. She based her design for the harp on this.
Grian is dedicated to the Celtic goddess of the sun. In the modern Irish language her name literally means ‘sun’. Her power awakens earth’s fertility; she sanctifies the land with her love and bathes the children of the earth in a warm glow.
There is an allure in dreaming of personal glory, to believe that perfection exists in some distant landscape known only to our future self. Whether it be a perfect job, relationship or a house on acres of grounds, the dream sustains us in the unfulfilled present. Our brains are wired toward future fortunes. It is a struggle to keep retraining our mind to observe the present, for the timeless present is the seed of what we have yet to become.
Then there is nostalgia; the desire for what might have been, regret over missed opportunities and a wistful feeling that your best days have are gone, only to be relived in the songs that form the soundtrack of your glory years. The present is seen as a place that pulls you away from youthful possibilities, forcing you to take responsibility for your circumstances. It is a karmic landscape from which there is no escape – except to an impossible future. It is impossible only because it is based on denial and non acceptance of the present moment. The present moment is the culmination of your life history to date. It is the account of all your thoughts, words and actions.The karmic law is simple – you reap what you sow.
The shades of the past set the tone for our future. The darker the shade, the deeper our dissatisfaction with the world. These shades on our soul consciousness create a painful present, therefore we seek to escape to the more colourful future where we are happy and content. But as days, months and years advance, the sun still sets on the same dull landscape.
Nothing changes unless we see to it. Wishing, hoping or dreaming does not create the foundations for reality. Reality is based on our thoughts, words and actions. These three building blocks are held in place by emotions. Feelings are the mortar that keeps us caught in the rigid structure of our conditioned lives. Feelings frozen in time set hard, trapping a portion of our consciousness with them. Our soul consciousness, which in its natural state is expansive and fluid, sets like a sculpture to represent our painful experience, a memorial to every cut and wound, every heartache and every unshed tear. But we cannot remain in a mausoleum to the past, we must keep moving forward. To do this, we have to break every frozen statue to release the essence of soul consciousness trapped inside. Feelings set in stone must be melted down for our real journey through life as a whole integrated being to continue.
The feelings that sting most are those that remain longest in the psyche, every other cut bleeds from this wound. It is these emotions that pull us back, time after time in various ways, to relive our unresolved pain. We are conditioned to quell the uprising of emotions and hold fast to reason and logic. However, reason and logic can only be built on a foundation of clear expression, a direct link to the present moment. By releasing historic emotions in the current of now, the long shadow cast over our future can be lifted and we can live a fulfilled life here and now. To quote Joseph Campbell ‘We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us’.
Collette O’Mahony – 09/05/2020