Where Beauty “Lies”

img_3565.jpgI diverge from my writings on depth psychology today and revisit a concept I found in my notes from some years ago. It comes on the heels of a post I made on my artist blog concerning one of my paintings. I look in the mirror and I see gray hair beginning to peep out of my dark strands and yet, I’m okay with it. I may dye it, eventually,  if I don’t like the way it looks later on. But if I do, it’ll be my choice and not something that I feel pressured to do. However, like with many things, the voices in our world scream that we need to “fix” that gray hair, and instill fear that if our hair is gray, we are less attractive and if we are less attractive, then we are less valuable. 

We are daily bombarded with messages that we need to be slimmer, taller, prettier, smarter, richer, younger-looking; that we need newer gadgets, smart cars, smart phones, smart homes, and I-everthings. The internet tells us what to wear, what to eat, and where to go. We get the message that we need to have these things or do these things in order to have a better life, to be happier. I actually know women who will not walk out their front door without make-up, because they’re afraid someone might see them and reject them. I  want to tell them that make-up can’t make them beautiful or more acceptable. Beauty first has to come from inside.

It kind of reminds me of the story of Adam and Eve when the serpent told Eve she needed to bite the fruit because then she would be better. She would have something she didn’t already have, know something she didn’t already know. She would ‘move up in the world.’ Yet, Eve was already at the top and she already had all the knowledge she needed inside herself. All she had to do was trust the voice she already knew was true. But I don’t fault Eve. The liar was probably persistent, showing up day after day, looking good, charming, appealing, promising high rewards. The same thing happens to us all on a daily basis. The same lie, the lie that we “need” to obtain something to be worthy or better or just good enough, is being pitched to us all every single day and like Eve, we bite into it, and then offer the same critical lie to someone else. I believe happiness is found when we know our own worth and live according to our own values. In other words, we have to assert that we are ENOUGH and don’t need to bite into anything else. 

Somewhere in our pasts someone criticized us out of their own insecurities or thoughtlessness or ignorance; but the criticisms stick, the lie continues, the lie that says, “You’re not _______ enough.” The lie says that you need to do something, obtain something, to be better, to have more knowledge.

At the very least it is a lie that causes a woman to look in the mirror and turn away with a knot in her stomach, feeling that she isn’t–enough. I hear women make negative statements about themselves all of the time. They look at some woman in a magazine and compare themselves. The kind of beauty we see on television and in magazines is what some money hungry cooperation has designed to get more in their bank accounts. That’s why fashion is always changing. They want things to consistently be hard to obtain so that people will pay more to get it…and that includes everything from beautiful hair to buns of steel…anything to make money.

 

Now, I’m not advocating letting yourself go. I believe in being responsible for the house I  live in and not just letting it fall apart. Yes, we should try to eat right and get adequate sleep. We should exercise, but the belief that our value is tied up in our physical appearance or the things that we own, etc., is a lie. If that were so, beautiful young celebrities who “have it all” would not be overdosing or committing suicide.

 

Real beauty is  found with the inward adorning of the heart. It’s okay to look our best, to want to be pretty, but the mistake comes when we began to believe that our value is tied to our appearance or that anyone in this this world actually knows what true beauty looks like. Who gives “them” the right to define what is beautiful? Is not beauty in the eye of the beholder as the old saying goes? When we allow anyone to determine our value based on…anything…or when we believe that our value is determined by what we look like, what we have or what we can do…we believe the lie that we are not____enough.  It all comes down to who and what are we believe and our beliefs determine the quality of our lives, not our looks, not our bank accounts, not our popularity, but our beliefs. So, that is where beauty lies. 

Who’s Sitting in My Chair?

photography of a woman sitting on chair
Photo by Úrsula Madariaga on Pexels.com

I recently found the following draft from a post I intended to publish in 2011, a month after my dad died. For some reason, I never published it. I thought it was fitting to post it now. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

April 2011

I’m a writer and an artist.

I have discovered that whether I’m writing about a person, a character, or painting a person’s face, there is one thing I must do. I must really SEE the person.

I don’t mean that I have to notice the color of his hair or eyes, but I must really SEE. I have to determine what makes that woman in my chair, her. What characteristic makes that man, him.

Sometimes I portray a distant sadness, a longing in the eyes, sometimes…pride, self-importance and sometimes, a free and generous spirit. Sometimes a sketch ends up projecting a sense of wandering, longing. Often a person will sit in my chair and in ten minutes time tell me his or her entire life story. There is a comfort in having a stranger draw your face, much in the same way that there is a comfort in sitting next to a stranger on a bus or an airplane.

As an artist, I often feel like a bit of a palm reader. I have to look into a face and discover what line, what shadow or smudge, portrays the depth of a person’s character and if I leave it out or add what is not there, then I loose something.

It’s not so much an emotional experience. I suppose it can be, but it’s more like a revelation. I think drawing is a spiritual experience, not a religious one. Pencil on paper is honest and it’s hard to mask. Not everyone will sit in my chair. Some people are afraid to see themselves through the eyes of another. Some people are too self-important. Some just aren’t into art. Some just have ants in their pants and can’t sit for ten minutes.

Another thing being an artist has afforded me is a fly-on-the-wall view of people. Often times when I paint murals in a public place, people come and go without so much as realizing I’m there. I hear their conversations, pick up on body-language, and other things that I would not maybe notice if they were in conversation with me.

Whether I’m painting in a resturaunt, a school, a church, a business or drawing faces at a festival, pow-wow or some other type of gathering, I have come to understand that inevitably I will encounter the following types of people:

1. The-Whatever-People. These folks follow trend. They make up the vast majority. They don’t want to stand out, or think too deeply. They worry about being branded as weird, yet, they secretly want to confide their hopes, fears and life details to someone. They are usually good-hearted, hard-working people. They just want to be reminded that they have value.

2. The -I’m-More-Powerful-or-Spiritual–Than-You-or-Anyone-Else-Here-People. I call them the Moses Wannabes, because they want a crowd of followers. I’ve met them in churches VERY often. They are the ones who exert power over others, who tell me what I should or shouldn’t wear or whether or not my motives are “righteous”. They are the self-appointed gaurdians of everybody’s lives and the ones who rejoice to know that all the “unworthy” are gonna one day get what’s coming to ’em. They know more scripture or are somehow more equipped by God to tell me what it all means. They are the ones who expect people to follow them. And, of course, at Pow-wows, they are the ones who self-proclaim to know the “Old Ways” better than any of the rest of us and they are also the ones that get mad and storm off like a child when someone doesn’t swoon over them or asked them a question which they can’t answer [um, yeah, I do that sometimes]. They seem to gain energy from other people by exuding some type of control over them. I guess, in some ways, they are intimidators. They control by lording over others. They are dictators at heart.

2. The “Lone Wolf” People, this is usually the I’m-so-cool tough guy, you-can’t-touch-this type or the “Redneck Woman” (like from the song)  kind of woman. These people are usually putting up a big front to mask the insecure child they still are on the inside. They’re usually full of a life lived in pain, fearful of rejection and terrified of being ridiculed and embarrassed, so they put up a front. Often, when they know they can trust me, the front falls. I meet a lot of biker, redneck types who are like this. I meet a lot of women who are like this. They often cuss and talk bold. They sometimes brag about fighting, but sometimes they tell me stories that tell me that they are fragile and vulnerable. They don’t want pity. They want someone to say to them that they are brave spirits. They are still searching. Their pretense isn’t to gain power over others. It is merely to protect themselves from pain and hurt and from those who want to exert power over them.

3. The I’m-a-Mystery-so-Notice-Me People. This is, I hate to say it, often the artist. Sometimes when I go to art festivals I will encounter artists who feel they don’t need to actually “talk” to you. They can just drift around, being all mysterious, because they get some kind of pleasure from people trying to find out about them. Seriously. I meet a lot of musicians like that, too (and oddly enough…mechanics) Sometimes, these folks will try to be all “mystical” and “super spiritual”. I don’t know what the deal is except that having a Merlin persona somehow gives them a boost of energy. Then there are the ones who are self-sacrificers because looking super humble and meek makes them feel more spiritual which in turn really feeds their ego.

4. Then there is the I’m Smarter Than You People. No matter what subject you bring up they know more about it. They are the “experts” on everything and rarely shut up long enough to learn anything. Whatever topic I bring up, they twist it back to their own topic of choice and ask me questions so they can prove how much more they know. They get power from imparting information, whether it’s correct or not. They just have to know that they know more than I do. So, I let them believe they do, because informing them otherwise might destroy their fragile selves.

5. There are the Poor-Me-Feel-Sorry-for-Me-Because-My-Life-Sucks People. These are the ones who gripe and complain and tell me all of their woes, their angst. It gives them a sense of power when someone feels sorry for them and it feeds them, at least for a little while. They have predetermined that their lives are full of negativity and it makes them feel good to know that they feel worst than the next person.

6. Finally, there are the Genuinely Rare People Every once in a while, I will encounter these rare gems. There are people wandering around out there, some who have endured great hardships, others who have not, yet they do not need anyone to pity them, nor do they need to be in charge, or to know more or to feel they are more spiritual. They do not need put on a show or try to prove how tough they are, because they KNOW who they are. They are like sparrows and dragonflies, they just exist and go through life being what they were created to be and doing what they were created to do. They aren’t afraid to laugh or smile or cry. Nothing is done for a show or to gain dominance over others and upon these people rests the responsibility to let others see that when you know what is true and you act on what is true then you are free.

They have no need to control because they have no fear of being controlled. They have no need to dominate because they have no fear of being dominated. They are the people who have learned the secret–the one who lets go, gains all and that the one who holds on too tightly ends up empty-handed.

They are not religious. They are not prideful. They do not feel that they have prominence over others and whenever one of these people happens to be a leader, they understand that being a leader means never asking another to do what you would not do yourself. It means never lording your posisition over others just for the sake of feeling important, not proclaiming yourself more annointed, or spiritual, or needed. They understand that each of us is a spoke in the wheel of life and no one spoke is more important than another.

Go Ahead…Laugh!

When I was a kid I used to start giggling so hard that I couldn’t stop. My parents would say that I had my “giggle box” turned over. I see kids getting their giggle boxes turned over once in a while and tonight I’m thinking about how good that is for them and how maybe adults need to laugh a little more. It’s okay to be silly. We’d all be healthier if we could just let loose and giggle. It’s not just may opinion, either. Long ago King Solomon of Israel said, “A merry heart doth good like a medicine but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” It seems that modern science agrees, too.

Laughter releases dopamine and endorphins into a person’s body and activates the pleasure pathways to the brain. If a person laughs hard enough and often enough, these pathways become easier and easier to access. and this may be a key to overcoming depression. Granted, it’s hard to laugh when you’re depressed, but one chuckle can lead to another. When we’re down it’s tough to pull ourselves out and surround ourselves with funny but doing just that can potentially cure us.  

So many times when we are sick, I’ve come to believe that it isn’t the sickness that gets us down as much as it is the worry, anxiety, pain and fear that go along with the sickness, not to mention the stress that comes with dealing with mounting bills, hospital stays and coping with how to handle every day life. These things continue to worsen a person’s emotional, mental and physical health. That’s where laughter comes in. Deep belly laughter triggers endorphins in the body, which act sort of like natural painkillers.

Humor is as important to our health as eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. George Burns, the famous comedian who lived to be over 100, attributed his long life to laughter. Many other centurions accredit laughter as one of the reasons for their longevity. You can’t take life too seriously, or it’ll take you out. I believe a person needs to laugh several hundred times a day. Psychoneuroimmunology is a field of research that is telling us that depression actually suppresses our immune systems. Laughter affects us exactly opposite of the way that stress does by decreasing epinephrine and cortisol levels. Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Medicine discovered that laughter also increases in germ-fighting cells.

Laughter ramps up your heart rate and circulation, and afterwards, the heart rate drops below average while the improved circulation continues. The body goes into a state of relaxation. In the same way that anger and stress can elevate your blood pressure and heart rate, laughter can lower it. Laughter also exercises your lungs and diaphragm. It creates vibrations that massage your internal organs. While stress and tension elevate stress hormones, tighten your muscles, constrict your blood vessels, upset your hormonal balance, and tax your immune system, laughter relieves tension, lowers stress hormones, improves hormonal balance and boosts your immune system.

I remember reading a Bible verse that talked about how the “joy” of the Lord is our strength. I do believe that evidence bears it out that joy which brings about laughter truly does give strength to our bodies. So, go ahead and get your giggle box turned over!

 

What I Think About Love, Fear and Faith

People say that Love is an emotion.

I disagree.

Love is so much more.

Love is a way of living. Actually, it is THE way.

I believe Love is the force of all creation. When I speak of love, I’m not talking about romance. Romance is a compulsion to get people together so they will pro-create. I’m not talking about infatuation or needing to be with someone because they make you feel better about yourself. Some people think they are “in love” with a person but what they are really in love with is the way that person makes them feel, usually about themselves. Others say they “love” a person but what they really love is the sense of safety and security that the person gives them. Love isn’t about how someone makes us feel about ourselves. It’s not about “feeling” good, because if it were, it would be impermanent. If it’s impermanent, it’s not love. It’s something else disguised as love.

Love is an eternal connection that may or may not involve sexual interaction.  Love is the spirit energy of life itself. Love is the light of the world and without that light, life on earth would have ended long ago.  In essence, Love is the author of life, the source of faith and without it, hope is squelched.

Now faith is the substance (foundation, elemental make-up) of things hoped for, the evidence (proof) of things not yet seen. Faith works on the principle of Love and Love casts out all fear. If we are made perfect in Love we are not acting in fear. If we are acting out of fear, then we are not acting from a center of Love. Fear has to do with punishment. I have heard it said that there are only two true motivators for every human act: love or fear.

Some would argue that greed, violence and the struggle for power are not motivated by fear, but they are. If a person feels the need to keep getting more and more and more material possessions then ultimately he or she has a deep rooted fear of not having enough, not being powerful, etc.  All acts of narcissism and selfishness are rooted in some realm of fear; fear of disrespect, fear of lack, fear of death, fear of disapproval, fear of abandonment, fear of being powerless, fear of physical harm, etc. Fear compels us to harm others, to manipulate others and to try to control others.

Love, however, is fearless. Love is God and God is Love. God doesn’t “have” love. God IS love. Those are not my original words. They were written by a man named John, the same guy who said that perfect love casts out all fear. So when we live by the principles of Love, we live by the principles of God.

What are those principles? We have Paul’s account in I Corinthians 13. We have other accounts in other books, too. Here they are in my own words.

WHEN YOU ACT FROM LOVE….

*you never give up on a person or a dream. You may have to walk away sometimes in order to protect your other loved ones or even your own life, because you do have to love and care for yourself, forgive yourself and be kind to yourself (think of it as putting the oxygen mask on yourself first when a plane is going down so you can be alive to help save the person with you.) Walking away doesn’t mean you’ve stop caring; only that you have to think about others and is sometimes as much or more an act of love as staying.

*you don’t wish “bad” on others

*you don’t want what others have or plot to take it

*you don’t think yourself more deserving or better than others

*you don’t force yourself on others. Real love, real respect, doesn’t push itself on people.) Respect them enough to walk away or let go and not keep pushing on them until they react the way you think they should.

* you aren’t arrogant and need everything to be all about you and your needs or wants. Believe in yourself and seek to do your best but don’t expect or wish for others to pat you on the head and tell you how wonderful you are.

*you don’t brag about how great you are.

*you don’t always assume that your needs are the most important and insist on being first all the time.

*you aren’t quick to get angry and fly off the handle or throw a fit every time something doesn’t go your way or when people don’t give you what you want.

*you don’t plot revenge on people or seek to socially destroy them even when they don’t do what you want or even if they do something that “hurts” you. Remember that they may not be very spiritually advanced and pray for them to be able to ‘see.’

*you don’t constantly bring up someone’s short-comings or past mistakes.

*you don’t try to guilt people into behaving the way you want them to or doing what you want them to. I’ve heard so many people pull the “if you really loved me you’d________) card.”

*you don’t take pleasure in the downfall of others, even those who have been unkind to you.

*you are glad when someone or yourself learns true things, receives beautiful things or has a joyful experience. Celebrate in the successes of others.

*you rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.

*you look for the best in others and see the best in all situations.

*you don’t look back. The past is over. The future is out of sight. Make today the best it can be.

*you keep going. Never give up on yourself, your dreams and never give up on others.

*treat everyone with dignity, basic human respect and compassion

THIS IS LOVE. 

Love doesn’t force people to bend to its will, doesn’t manipulate them into conforming,  guilt them into acting, intimidate them into surrender, interrogate them into sorrow or dismiss them into despair. Love simply accepts people as they are and asks nothing in return. Love has not strings attached and no covert contracts.

Never Underestimate a Woman

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

I believe in the spirit realm that we are all equal regardless of our gender or shade of skin. All the trappings of gender issues are man-made, not God-made. Sure there are biological differences between men and women,  but the truth is that honor is not bound by gender. Dreams are not bound by gender. Having a purpose is not bound by gender. Faith, courage, nobility, intelligence and personal values are not bound by gender. Your worth as a human being and to society is not bound by your gender.

I remember hearing teachings in church when I was a teenager that left me feeling sad that I’d been born a female. I sometimes felt like that without saying it outright people actually believed that God valued men more than women. Certainly, some societies did and still do. And yes, that makes me angry.

It bothered me that a God who was supposed to be just and kind could love one kind of person more than another when we didn’t even get to choose which kind of body we lived in. That seemed like loving people who lived in big houses more than people who lived in small houses and to me that seemed awfully narrow-minded for such a “big” God.

Women have made enormous contributions to history and society. They just haven’t always been reported.

Consider this:

without Suzanna Wesley there would be no Methodist Church. She taught Charles and John Wesley to read before the age of five. She was extremely intelligent and highly literate.

without Joan of Arc French battle strategies would not have evolved.

without Sacajawea Lewis and Clark would have utterly failed. She was the bravest one, the most enduring one in that crew and she did it with a baby strapped to her back.

without Pocahontas the greedy gold grubbers of Jamestown would have all died of starvation.

without Rahab the whore, Ruth the pauper and Mary the teenage mother, Jesus Christ would never have been born. There would be no Christianity.

without Ester, the harem girl, the Jewish nation would have been slaughtered.

without Boudicca the people of Ireland and England might never have driven out the Roman Empire.

without sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington, Paul Revere’s warning may not have been enough. He wasn’t the only one who rode that night. There was a young woman who was just as brave. She simply didn’t get printed in most history books.

without Rebecca Boone, Daniel’s kids would have starved. While he was gone for two years at a time (and got one of his sons killed by dragging him off into the wilderness,) she hunted game (like deer), carried it home herself, skinned it, cooked it and fed ten kids. Daniel got the recognition, but Rebecca was the hero.

without Lozen Geronimo’s stand might not have been as impactful.

without Elizabeth Jennings African Americans would not have been allowed to ride on New York street cars until much later than 1860. She went to jail a century before Rosa Parks and for the same reason, standing up for rights.

without Rosa Parks the freedom movement might never have been born. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream might never have come to be.

without Clara Bardin there would be no Red Cross.

without Mary Shelley, Frankenstein wouldn’t exist.

without Madame Curie, where would nuclear physics be now?

without Nancy Grace Roman there probably wouldn’t be a Hubble.

without Chien-Shiung Wu there would be no atomic bomb. Although, she didn’t receive credit for it, her work made it possible to develop a process that separated uranium metal into isotopes through a process known as diffusion. This led to an increase in the amount of uranium that could be used as fuel for atomic bombs.

So, whether we are male or female, we can live with honor and courage and respect. We can walk in kindness and love and it is never anything to be ashamed of for wanting to do what we believe is the right thing.

 

One of the Most Beautiful Songs I’ve Ever Heard, the legend of St. Patrick in a song.

Few songs have touched my heart like this one has. To me, Irish music moves the soul, stirs the spirit and I feel that of all the gifts Ireland has given the world (and there are many) her music is most penetrating.

Be Thou Vision

Copied from description from Eden’s Bridge:

“Therefore, on that day when I was rebuked, as I have just mentioned, I saw in a vision of the night a document before my face, without honour, and meanwhile I heard a divine prophecy, saying to me: ‘We have seen with displeasure the face of the chosen one divested of name.’ And he did not say ‘You have seen with displeasure’, but ‘We have seen with displeasure’ (as if He included Himself) . He said then: ‘He who touches you, touches the apple of my eye.'”– Saint Patrick

Old Irish: Rop tú mo baile, a Choimdiu cride: ní ní nech aile acht Rí secht nime. Rop tú mo scrútain i l-ló ‘s i n-aidche; rop tú ad-chëar im chotlud caidche. Rop tú mo labra, rop tú mo thuicsiu; rop tussu dam-sa, rob misse duit-siu. Rop tussu m’athair, rob mé do mac-su; rop tussu lem-sa, rob misse lat-su. Rop tú mo chathscíath, rop tú mo chlaideb; rop tussu m’ordan, rop tussu m’airer. Rop tú mo dítiu, rop tú mo daingen; rop tú nom-thocba i n-áentaid n-aingel. Rop tú cech maithius dom churp, dom anmain; rop tú mo flaithius i n-nim ‘s i talmain. Rop tussu t’ áenur sainserc mo chride; ní rop nech aile acht Airdrí nime. Co talla forum, ré n-dul it láma, mo chuit, mo chotlud, ar méit do gráda. Rop tussu t’ áenur m’ urrann úais amra: ní chuinngim daíne ná maíne marba. Rop amlaid dínsiur cech sel, cech sáegul, mar marb oc brénad, ar t’ fégad t’ áenur. Do serc im anmain, do grád im chride, tabair dam amlaid, a Rí secht nime. Tabair dam amlaid, a Rí secht nime, do serc im anmain, do grád im chride. Go Ríg na n-uile rís íar m-búaid léire; ro béo i flaith nime i n-gile gréine A Athair inmain, cluinte mo núall-sa: mithig (mo-núarán!) lasin trúagán trúag-sa. A Chríst mo chride, cip ed dom-aire, a Flaith na n-uile, rop tú mo baile.

Modern Irish: Bí Thusa ‘mo shúile a Rí mhór na ndúil Líon thusa mo bheatha mo chéadfaí s mo stuaim Bí thusa i m’aigne gach oiche s gach lá Im chodladh no im dhúiseacht, líon mé le do ghrá Bí thusa ‘mo threorú I mbriathar ‘s i mbeart Fan thusa go deo liom is coinnigh mé ceart Glac cúram mar Athair, is éist le mo ghuí Is tabhair domsa áit cónaí istigh i do chroí

English: Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light. Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one. Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight; Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight; Thou my souls Shelter, Thou my high Tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power. Riches I heed not, nor mans empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art. High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heavens joys, O bright Heavens Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Pre-Christian Ireland, to the best of my current knowledge

Celtiberian Days

At this point, I am uncertain where the first inhabitants of Ireland came from, but science is saying that they shared DNA with the early inhabitants of Iberia, so maybe they were a branch off that a same tree. Or maybe they came down from Scotland. Whoever they were, archeologists believe they got there somewhere between 7,000 and 6,000 BC. We are told that they lived by farming, fishing and gathering food such as plants and shellfish. They mostly lived on the seashore or along rivers and lakes where food and water were both easier to get. They hunted deer, birds, wild boar and seals.

About the time one of those skeletons I mentioned in my earlier article, 4,000 BC, lived, farming came about. The farmers raised  sheep, pigs, cattle and crops. They made pottery during this time, too. For hundreds of years, the farmers lived right alongside the hunter-gatherers but in time, farming prevailed and the old lifestyle faded.

These early farmers cleared the forests, built monuments (burial mounds called court cairns) and cremated their dead before burying them in stone galleries which they covered with earth.

Dolmens, created by these early Irish folks, were burial sites where massive vertical stones were lined up with horizontal stones on top of them to create a passage way then covered with earth. It was during these early pre-Celtic times that Stonehenge and other amazing, mysterious structures were built. William Stuklely, I think it was, linked the Celts (Druids) to the building of these megalith monuments, but the Celts hadn’t even arrived yet when these places were built. For the record, dolmens aren’t only found in Ireland. They can be found in Basque Country and as far away as Russia. There are even dolmens in Korea (but I don’t think they’re connected to the Irish ones). Click here to visit a site that shows you what they looked like.

Around 2,000 BC, bronze showed up in Ireland and people began using it to make tools. During this period, they erect large stone circles and built crannogs or habitations on the lakes. These lake homes were easier to defend than just building on the shore.

ALONG CAME THE CELTS

People think of Ireland as being Celtic but it wasn’t until about 5oo BC that the Celts actually arrived, bringing with them iron tools and weapons. Scholars don’t really agree on where the Celts originated, but they moved across Europe during the 4th and 5th centuries. The British Isles, in time, came to be known as the “six Celtic Nations,” which included Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Briton and the Isle of Man. There were four major Celtic dialects that came to the Isles with them: Breton, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh. The warlike Celts, divided Ireland into many small kingdoms that constantly fought with each other, but the Celts didn’t just subdue the original Irish, they absorbed their culture into their own until the new Irish culture was a blend and Irish Celts were heavily influence by Pre-Celtic Ireland. Evidence of this is found in the engravings at Newgrange which include lozenges, spirals, double spirals, concentric semi-circles, zigzags and so forth, all of which were found in Ireland before the coming of the Celts but is found afterwards in Celtic works.

So, the Celts left no religious monuments in Ireland that I am aware of. However, they did bury weapons and metalworks in the ground as sacrifices wot their gods and they did leave behind decorative pagan stone sculptures. The Celts buried their chieftains and leaders with their weapons, tools, drinking horns, food bowls and other things they might need in the afterlife. It seems that much of what archaeologists know of the Celts has come from burial sites.

When the Celts went to battle, they painted their bodies and faces, taking pride in their battlefield appearance. They wore personal adornments and carried elaborately ornate swords, shields, helmets and trumpets. Their metalworks were of gold, silver, bronze and other metals.

Next time, Christianity Comes to Ireland.

Here is a link to a timeline of Irish history for anyone interested.

 

A Brief Rabbit Chase Down the DNA Trail

 

I’ve done several talks on subjects that interests me, like Melungeons and DNA testing, so I thought I’d share some of my basic thoughts on the subject of DNA testing.

People ask me what the best DNA tests are. It depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s ethnicity, I don’t recommend AncestryDNA. They missed mine by a mile, BUT they do excellent work at connecting you to relatives and helping you find the “missing” links in your family tree.

23andMe does a better job with ethnicity, but still, they’re not the best. I also didn’t think the health reports were worth what I paid for them. And the probability thing is hit and miss. I mean really…they missed the mark on about half of mine. So, that’s kind of like a true/false guessing game. I recommend them for ethnicity above AncestryDNA. But Ancestry is excellent for family finding. I haven’t tested with the other big name ones.

I DID test with DNA Consultants and I love how they treated me, like I was a real client, not just another number. I love how they looked at human migration patterns and combined DNA data with historically documented movements of people around the planet. I love how they sent me a long report that did not give estimations of percentages, but rather outlined exactly what markers they found in my DNA. It was a much more complete picture. However, they do not link you to relatives and you can’t download the raw data to a third party calculator.

I do reccomend GEDmatch if you’ve tested with one of the prominently advertised companies like Ancestry or 23andMe. GEDmatch has a bunch of different algorithms that lets you search for precise things in your DNA, like Jewish markers or ancient DNA from Beringia. The various algorithms allow you to get a more complete picture of your make up.

Here’s a little powerpoint I’ve put together talking about DNA Testing. It’s still a work in progress and I’m sure it has some flaws and kinks of its own, but still, it might be helpful to some people. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten the Irish. I’m still going to post more.

Popular DNA Tests

Looking at Ireland, part 1…her genetics

 

Matt (23)DOWNEY-LIFE-LESSONS

I have always heard that red hair, fair skin and blue eyes were “Scottish” and “Irish” traits, but experience has taught me differently. It is funny how we develop an idea of a people based on a stereo-type and yes, while those traits are more common among Scotch-Irish, they are not always indicative of Scotch-Irish ancestry, but this article isn’t actually about red hair. It’s about the Irish. The more I learn about Ireland, her people and her history, the more fascinated I become. Ireland plays a HUGE role in the making of modern America. So, over the next few blog posts, I’d like to talk about the Irish in early America and about genetics and just whatever else pops up in my little studies.

As of 2018, scientists and historians are beginning to see a different picture of the origins of Irish people than what most of us have been led to believe, or at least, in my neck of the woods. I live in Appalachia. I grew up being told that everybody was Scotch-Irish and I grew up with a notion of what that looked like. My notions weren’t entirely correct. It is true that the people of modern Ireland share a definite genetic link with the people of Scotland and Wales, and to a smaller degree, the English (British) but what sets them apart? Is it their origins? Some tiny trace of an ancient ancestry? What about the people of ancient Ireland, who were they? Where did they come from? What about the deep ancestry of the Irish?

Up until last year, all the research that I had read, said that the Irish were Celts and that they had migrated there from Central Europe way back when (like around 500 years before Christ or something like that). These were the people that the Greeks called Keltoi. But researchers at Trinity University in Dublin and at Queens University have found that there were at least two migrations to Ireland in the past few thousand years. Findings from the analysis of the remains 5,200 year-old Irish woman suggests she was more like modern-day Spaniards and Sardinians, and her DNA indicated that her ancestors came from the Middle East long before that.

Other remains from about 4,000 years ago reveal that early Irish also shared genetic ties to the people of Eastern Europe, specifically, the Steppes of Russia and the Ukraine. These 4,000 year-old remains also show a link to modern day Scotch, Irish and Welsch, meaning that modern day Irish, Scotch and Welsh are all linked to these 4,000 year-old ancestors from Eastern Europe.

Now let’s look at what Irish Origin stories tell us about their history.  One of the oldest pieces of Irish literature, Leabhar Gabhla, says the first people in Ireland were a small dark-skinned people called the Fir Bolg, followed by the Tuatha de Danaan. Then the ancient books tells about Milesians, soldiers from Spain who were said to be the sons of Mil. Recent studies of Spanish and Irish male haplogroups actually seem to bear this out in that the paternal haplogroup R1b finds its highest concentration in Western Ireland and Northern Spain, in particular, Basque Country. So, the Irish share some relation to the Basque. I find that, well, kind of cool. Keep in mind that the sea was the easiest mode of transportation back in those days and some people, like the Basque, were accomplished sailors. The land was covered in forests and mountain ranges were hard to navigate. So, people built their settlements on the coasts and traveled the shores of Europe to get from place to place. Towns were built on the coasts and along the rivers so that it was easier to trade and to travel and people did travel–a lot more than you might think!

Research from last year (2018) leads geneticists to think that the Irish are closely related to the people of Brittany (NW France) and Western Norway. And again, of course, they share most of their DNA to the peoples, of Scotland, Wales and England. But while other parts of Europe have become far more integrated, Ireland’s geographical location has helped keep the Irish gene-pool more constant. The same genes have been passed down for thousands of years now. Ireland has the highest level of R1b male haplogroups, followed by the Basque.

There is no question that there is a link between Ireland and Spain. There are those who believe that Spain and Portugal were once inhabited by Celtiberians (Celtic+Iberian)who spoke a Celtic language that is now extinct. They believe that these extinct Iberian Celts simply traveled the Atlantic seaboard, bringing their culture and language to what is now France and the British Isles. Of course, it’s not been proven, but the link between Irish and Spanish DNA does lend some credibility to the idea.

So, to recap, Spain and Ireland share a prominent male haplogroup, indicating that at some point in the distant past, Spanish men came to Ireland and had offsprings with native Irish women (perhaps they had migrated from Scotland after the last Ice Age). Later came the travelers from Eastern Europe. Then, later the Celts from Central Europe, introducing their DNA into the mix. At some point, there was a Viking invasion, introducing Scandavain ancestry into some parts of Ireland. Then came the English. Today, the Irish share more ancestry with the rest of the British Isles than anywhere else. Spain and Portugal underwent Moorish occupation and have a hefty dose of North-African/Middle Eastern admixture.

So, the next time I hear someone say, “Oh, he/she looks Irish.” I will respond with and “What exactly does that mean?”

In my next post I hope to discuss a brief overview of Irish history prior to the Spanish, French and English invasion of America.

https://www.thefamouspeople.com/ireland.php

Happy New Year–Randomly Flowing Thoughts from Me to You

I think this may be the first time I have EVER actually written a blog post on New Year’s Day and I’m not about to make a resolution that I will write a post every day, but I am making one to just be me. I made a resolution last year and I tried very hard to keep it all year. My resolution was to love radically. It’s not easy to love radically and some days I fell short of the goal, still each day, I’d start all over again and I am still doing that. I don’t plan to stop. I do plan to love those who persecute me and speak harshly about me. I plan to love them by just accepting that they are the way they are and it’s not my job to fix them or even change their minds about anything, especially me.

I’m not sure what loving radically involves but I have learned that only when I am in tune with my truest self, and accepting of that self, can I look at others and just accept them for who they are and not feel the need to change them. It has been a hard lesson for me over the years but I’ve come to understand that there will always be someone who misreads my motives, misunderstands my motifs and misinterprets my meanings. I understand that there will always be those who mistrust me without a true cause, who villanize me to validate their own actions and warn their kids about the “wicked witch up the road.” Bottom line, as a dear friend tells me, “Everybody has enemies.”

There is no way on earth to make everybody happy because we live in a world of fearful people who are always afraid of losing something. We live in a world where no matter how hard you try or how good you treat others, someone is going to be offended, someone is going to accuse you of ulterior motives, of arrogance, of….just fill in the blank.

So, how do we love radically in a world where being rude and selfish is the norm?  I think loving radically doesn’t always involve an onslaught of mushiness or warm-fuzzies but a simple acceptance without judgment. We may not ever be a person that the offended will want to speak to kindly or for that matter, at all, or even smile at, but we don’t have to hold bitterness in our hearts against them and we have to realize that there comes a time when it really isn’t about us. Everybody has their own battles to fight and their own roads to walk. So, I am going to walk mine with a thankful heart and let my light shine the best I can. Some may see me as a beacon of light, love and kindness, and others may not. It’s okay. I accept that. I think that’s what love and forgiveness are all about, letting go. I love me and I am thankful for my life on earth. If others have issues with me, I’ll try to avoid getting in their field of vision as much as possible, but I won’t stop being the person I’m meant to be. I’m wonderfully weird and creatively created and this year, in addition to loving radically, I’m going to be the most ME I can possibly be.

 

The “Divinity” of Writing Fiction

Found this little entry in my journal from 2011. Just thought I’d share it.

April 8, 2011

As an author, I am the divine entity to the characters in my story. I exist outside of “time” as they know it because I exist outside the pages of the manuscript that I have written. The characters in my novels are bound to the “timeline” as it is contained between the covers of the book, the beginning and the end. To them all the events they experience are past, present, or future but to me, the creator, they happen simultaneously. I am present, all at once, in every event I’ve created in the story, regardless of where it happens on the timeline as my characters know it in the universe that I created. I don’t have to jump backward or forward in the story, because I’m already there. My characters exist in the story I have written, but they also continue existing in me even when they leave the pages of the novel (get killed off, move away, etc.) All characters that I create remain alive in me, the author. As the author, I have no random events in my story. Everything that happens has a purpose. Sometimes my purpose is to cause growth in a character or characters. Sometimes it is to help open one character’s eyes to the nature or doings of another character. Sometimes it is to propel the plot.