Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The Land of Fey

The Land of the Fey (or Faerie) exists anywhere magick is taken as fact above fiction. In these mystical places I so adore, serendipity, mystery and connection reign as high truth.

As we flew over Ireland, the Emerald Isle, I shuddered in delight and tears filled my eyes gazing down upon the carpet of green and craggy shoreline. Myths have been born here and exist as more than fables or stories with little bearing on the world today. The lore and magic that has been passed down through the centuries has been carried like the Holy Grail Itself.

I wanted a wee bit of Irish faery dust and leprechaun luck to bless me and keep me good company. Many years ago, my Priestess Connie de Masters gave me a light from the Goddess Brigid’s Sacred Flame. One of her students had come to Ireland and held a lighter to this flame igniting the sacred protection of the Patroness of Ireland and brought it across the Atlantic. I carried this open flame in a 7-day advent calendar from Connie’s home and lit the furnace in my home with the sacred flame.

I no longer have that flame that represented all of Brigid’s power of fire to forge smith tools and craft, divine poetry to ignite the heart and gain wisdom from the deep wells of inspiration and healing. However, a week before my departure to Ireland, I was gifted with a Brigid weaving from Julie who had attended my class Womyn Meet Death where I paid homage to Melinda and our beloved on the Other Side. I carried this weaving and a bottle of blackberry cordial (Brigid’s herbal ally) in my suitcase for a very special offering.

Our first night in Trim’s Kiely Bar proved to be an auspicious start. The next morning Joey drove us to the Sacred Hill of Tara. It was on this soft, mounded, grassy knoll where a huge rock stood. In Ancient Celtic Times, men vying for the right to be King competed in many daring feats of strength. They had to be strong and good – but only if the sacred stone spoke their name when they touched it would they be deemed worthy to take the crown.

I placed the weaving at the base of this stone and poured a libation of cordial on it. I could feel the magick pulsing.

We the visited the Hill of Ancient Ones and discovered spiral carvings representing the Goddess, a wishing tree with ribbons waving from every branch, and a splendid cemetery with moss covered tombstones.

IMG_3033Just steps away, we happened upon a bookstore where I found a book called Tending Brigid’s Flame written by Lunaea Weatherstone, who was once my teacher for a yearlong study in sacred sisterhood. We then found the gallery of Courtney Davis. I sat before the altar set up in the shop, lit a candle and wrote down a wish. I held the small piece of paper with my wish to the flame and release my desire to Brigid to fulfill. I was particularly fascinated with a painting of a Raven in the center connected to Goddess Brigid, Kuan Yin, Kali, White Tara and Corn Mother – all Goddesses who have called to me. The artist told us about the sacred well less than a mile away and gave us two small bottles to fill with the blessed water. We made our way down the path, through the iron gate and up to the dark pool that rested in a cave-like opening. I knelt down on the stone and reached into the pool to fill the vials.

Guinness and other pub adventures awaited us in Galway and the Aran Islands (a most lovely place untouched by modernity, including street lamps). Magick graced us once again when we came to the Dingle Peninsula and drove the breath-taking Slea Head Drive in the Wild Atlantic West. We experienced breath-taking cliffs, crashing waves, epic sprays at least 30-feet high against rocky outcroppings and sites that have stood since the Iron Age. The first of these was a Fairy Fort.

This sacred site, most likely misunderstood by most, which I say because the draw seemed to be a two euro purchase for pellets to feed the nearby sheep, consisted of a circular hedge of Hawthorne bushes surrounded by a moat. Hawthorne is believed to be the bush that marks the entrance to the Land of Fey: that magical, mystical place where the warm light of Twilight suffuses the air with golden tones and faeries alight upon the air as glitter in a perpetual Midsummer’s Night Dance. This spiral of Hawthorne hedge was clearly fairy-built. In my mind’s eye, I could see faeries dancing in wild abandon along the thorny rows in a spiral dance and upon the hedges with something of a burlesque flair. Or at least that’s how they make me feel.

The moment I stepped foot into the ring, a rock turned my ankle and I tripped into the Hawthorne bush where a thorn pricked my finger. Blood entrance. The faeries knew a believer had arrived. Soon after I found a bright magenta foxglove (also known as fairy fingertips), my favorite color.

We journeyed onward and soon stopped in a bookshop where I bought a book of Peig Sayer’s stories. Born in 1873, Peig lived on Dingle Peninsula until she married onto the Blasket Islands where she became a storyteller of legend. My finger tingled after purchasing the book: a sign that the Fey were pleased with my honoring of the lore and lyricism of the peninsula.

We ended the scenic drive at a tour of Dingle Distillery where we toasted the Fey & Bridget with a supremely delicious, caramel-tasting whiskey, the first independent Irish whiskey made in over one hundred years.

In Ireland I found the magick I was seeking.  I define magick as nature speaking to me of beauty and connection without logical understanding, leaps through time and space and assurance that all of life belongs and is accountable to each other.IMG_3031

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SanTana’s Fairy Tales

Neither Sarah or I can remember where we met. A bar? A literary event? Las Comadres meeting? Regardless, I’m proud to call Sarah Rafael Garcia a friend. She slept on my couch right after I moved out on my own and she returned from a walkabout through Australia. She taught me how to live frugally at a time I didn’t know how to be anything but comfortable middle class. We organized and gave book readings at schools, stores and universities. We started Wild Womyn Writers. I was one of the first writing teachers for Barrio Writers, an organization she started. Sarah went on to gain her MFA (impressive) and then she won an artists’ year-in-residence (wow!) to gather Mexican American community-based narratives to create contemporary fairytales and fables. I love having creative, smart friends!

The culmination of this research, writing and organizing skills occurred last Saturday at a literary event called SanTana Fairy Tales in Downtown Santa Ana that included an impressive collection of local visual, musical and performance artists, bilingual single-story zines, a fully illustrated published book, an ebook, a large format classical book with graphic art and interactive ipads. The exhibit will be up at the CSUF Grand Central Art Center through mid May.

For me, this performance brought to life the different experiences of the devastation and sorrow of becoming obsolete and marginalized in your own hometown. On display were excerpts from the collection of fairy tales, graphic illustrations for each story and central in the room were parts of the carousel that was taken down to make room for gastropubs and other hip businesses that would attract urban youth.

I was mesmerized by the carousel horses, the marque letters spelling “Fiesta” (the “s” is missing) and Aztec artwork that had once adorned the quaint carousel. I never rode the carousel but I have always adored it’s mythical quality and seeming permanence as the very fabric of this Hispanic community.  I remember seeing the carousel for the first time while driving home our live-in maid Rogelia. I was twelve. The image was so clear with the fruit stands and men in their large vaquero hats and huge belt buckles, I included the scene in Rogelia’s House of Magic.  Now that the carousel is gone there is a gaping hole – as if there is still a ghost of its presence. “Vas a ver, first the carousel and quinceañera shops, soon los fruteros, and one day it might be us!” – SanTana’s Fairy Tales.

The event began with a monologue from a circus ring master in which she attempted to win over the crowd for the revitalization of the “rundown streets of Santa Ana.” Her wicked laughter and the jingle of coins in her pocket gave her true intentions away. The next performance was a haunting instrumental while two children wove in among the crowd as if they were crossing the border, or perhaps just crossing town, and afraid to be caught. The following song remembered the first trans who was murdered. Other fairytales included the woman who refused to move her house for the traintracks and the young vato who painted a mural, a vision of oral history honoring the Mexican American veterans, which provoked the mayor to understand the difference between public art and graffiti.

My takeaway from the event was a deepening of my humanity and pride for la gente who hold onto each other and keep their stories alive despite the powers that are tearing down their safety and cultural cornerstones. I’m so proud of you Sarah!