St. Patrick wasn't Irish, he wore blue, not green and there were no snakes.
But there were vampires and leprechauns and witches. Oh my!
In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, I'm using my alphabet prompts to learn more about all things Irish. I'm only doing one or two topics per letter, even though I can think of many more for some.. Even so, be warned. This will be a long post. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
A - Abhartach - the Irish Vampire
Let's start with something light and fun! Ha!
A is for Abhartach, the Irish Vampire.
Even though Dracula, the character created by Bram Stoker, is most often associated with Transylvania, in reality he may have been based on an Irish king, Abhartach. He was said to be a dwarf and considered to be evil and feared by all who knew him.
He was a very jealous man and was suspicious of his wife, convinced that she was having an affair. While spying on her from a high castle window, he fell to his death. The entire kingdom was relieved.. They buried him upright, apparently the correct burial position for royalty, and enjoyed a peaceful night's sleep. One. Just one.
Because the next day, he rose from the dead, and demanded that all of his subjects slit their wrists and drain their blood into bowls. Well, you can imagine they were upset, so they traveled to the next village seeking help from another king, Cathan, who came, killed him and buried him once more.
You guessed it. Up he came, ready for yet another snack.
This continued until Cathan decided to seek help from a saint who explained there was no way to kill someone who was already dead!
His suggestion was to bury him upside down, cover him with thorns and ash branches, and top it off with a huge boulder. As far as we know it worked, and peace returned to the kingdom. He served as inspiration for Stoker's Dracula, and all lived happily ever after!
B - Banshee
A banshee is a terrifying, wispy, floating specter with a piercing scream who warns of a coming death in the family. First reports were in Ireland in the 8th century. This alarming figure, usually female, varies in age from a young maiden to an old woman. Some families were reported to have their very own banshee, possibly having been a family member who had passed. They were known for their keening, mournful singing and wailing, as they lamented the death of loved ones.
C - Children of Lir
King Lir, Bobd Derg, was left with four motherless children, one daughter and three sons, when his wife Aoibh, the queen, unexpectedly passed away. The king decided to marry Aoife, his wife's sister
. Roger von Oech, author of A Kick in the Seat of the Pants and A Whack on the Side of the Head, shared this perspective from an advertisement for a library.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
“At your local library they have these arranged in ways that can make you cry, giggle, love, hate, wonder, ponder, and understand.
It’s astonishing to see what these twenty-six little marks can do.
In Shakespeare’s hands they became Hamlet. Mark Twain wound them into Huckleberry Finn. James Joyce twisted them into Ulysses. Gibbonpounded them into The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
John Milton shaped them into Paradise Lost.”
~ Quote taken from an advertisement to promote local libraries.
One of my favorite approaches to creating trainings is to use the alphabet to shift from a predictable list to concepts I might not consider. For example, simply listing the colors I plan to cover in my Exploring Rainbows course (Red, Yellow, Orange, etc.) tends to limit my thinking.
I used the alphabet to capture memories from trips, ideas for articles, brainstorming gift list, planning my garden, visits to museums, my annual gratitude lists, and in this case, workshop concepts.
So for each color of the rainbow, I'm planning to use examples of
Then there are Fairy tales and Folk lore, Gemstones, Global interpretations, Quotes, Songs, Symbolism . . . right now I have 3 or 4 topics for each letter. Six weeks will barely be enough time to cover everything!
The next time you're brainstorming ideas, write down each letter of the alphabet and see what kind of associations occur to you that might not have otherswise! And if you're really feeling industrious, see if you can arrange those 26 little marks to make another book to add to the Library of Congress!
.Dr. Frederisk Franck is an author, artist, and oral surgeon but even more notably, a spiritualist. He sees the sacred in the everyday beatify of life, and uses seeing and drawing as meditation. He worked with Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa to provide services to those in need.
Hiroshima - The Unkillable Human
This sculpture depicts a man's silhouette flashing against a wall when the nuclear bomb was dripped.
One of Dr. Frederick Franck's sculptures in the Peace Garden in Harrisburg, PA
Frederick Franck has been on my mind recently for several reasons.
First, we passed his sculptures at the Peace Garden in Harrisburg along the Susquehanna River several times when I visited Pennsylvania recently. I've painted his sculptures numerous times over the years - with vibrant spring and summer floral plantings, the earth tones of autumn, and stark black, grays and whites of winter. All were given as gifts over the years, but the photos above will give you an idea of the power of his work,
The Peace Garden was created in 1990 by the Harrisburg/Hershey chapter of the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). The garden was created in response to a speech given in Hiroshima by Dr. Bernard Lown, President of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which earned a Nobel Peace Prize. The garden features three sculptures that remind us of the devastating destruction, yet also acknowledge the continuation of life and the human spirit in spite of inhumane decisions.
Second, I'm including several of his quotes in my overview of my course on Exploring Rainbows this spring. He makes a differential between looking and seeing, and notes that we would fall to our knees in horror if we really saw what was on the evening news.
We have become desensitized, but that's another post.
Insights From a Child
"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."
` ~ Aristotle
At death they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the hard and stiff are followers of death.
The gentle and soft are the followers of life.
Thus, if you are aggressive and stiff, you can't win.
When a tree is hard enough, it is cut. Therefore
The hard and big are lesser,
The gentle and soft are greater.
- Yi-Ping Ong, from the introduction, Tao Te Ching
"Light cannot be seen without shade.
Shade cannot be seen without light."
By moonlight, we see in black and white. We cannot see colors. There is something fascinating and valuable about seeing the world that way. We see only what is essential.
We see form emerging from a sea of blackness. . . . We can look at the world so familiar by daylight and see it anew in the black and white of moonlight.
You see yin and yang. . . The day warms, the night cools.
The sun moves over a hill, changing the face from brightness to shadow.
Stand in the middle of a forest and watch all the shadows and sunlight shift second by second. You see yin and yang.
- Deng Ming-Dao, The Lunar Tao (edited)
Not having a computer has caused me to abandon my plans to participate in NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) this year. I've completed the challenge twice and was planning to attempt a third. Maybe next year. I'll be cheering for those of you who are participating and will look forward to hearing of your progress!
I'm feeling blessed. I was spending too much time in front of a screen and I've returned to painting and more heart'-to-hand writing. There are always gifts in loss It has given me a chance to look at the world in a different way - the yin and yang.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Do The Write Thing
Fashion And Fabrics
Lessons From Nature
Pay It Forward
Take The Rose Instead
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!