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This is the main blog for the fellowship Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan GĂ idheal. Edited and managed by Rob Barton

Small Strokes

Gaelic culture and religion.Posted by Rob Barton Tue, January 03, 2017 12:30AM
For about thirty years now this movement has been gaining steam.... and some of our leaders have been doing this for that long.... we have gotten good at articulating the broad strokes about sources, rites, beliefs and so many of those big strokes that primarily pant the picture of what we do.... big strokes... big sections... the melody lines of this song that we are singing to our gods and ancestors - to our kids - to ourselves - to one another - to our world .... as we paint and sing and speak and dance this ancient path into a modern world.....

But what about the little strokes??? the things that we actually do day to day??? the things that our kids see and hear us do??? the little stokes - the tiny colours that are the shadowing and shading in the bigger picture.... the harmonies that wind around the melodies... the tiny steps and subtle movements in the larger dance.... the little lines of the poem that we are creating for ourselves.... the things that we whisper into the night?????

The prayers the we say over our altars.... the little plate of cookies on the windowsill with the tiny cup beside it.... the first drop of our drink that we spill to the spirits when we are outside... the plate of food set out for the Good neighbours.... that last blessing on the home when we leave for a journey.... the blessing of the four tires of the car before we go... the coin that rolls under a chair and then gets left there.... not ours anymore...

When we offer a welcoming cup at the door..... when we accept it with a blessing on the host and home.... I always go to answer the knock at the door and never just say "come in"... never - I want to see and know who or what I am inviting into our home... if you call me I will come but I won't answer until I see you... I want to know who or what is calling me before I answer.... never tarry on a bridge unless it is just long enough to say a prayer or make an offering - and make sure to also leave a gift for whoever may call that bridge home..... especially if it is stone... they like stone...

My son won't let me tarry in a doorway... he will push me through instead "in or out Da".... just like my grandmother when I was a kid.... when did he learn this... was it from me???? drive by a graveyard I hear my children whisper "blessings on the dead"... they are adults now but still they carry that "beannachd na marbh" they hear it in Gaelic now .... did they know about the late night blessing over their sleeping forms when they were tiny???? do they know about it now that they are grown???

stir the food always sunwise.... if someone stirs your soup or your tea leftward at our house.... don't eat it.... seriously just don't.... the tangle-foot hex on the welcome mat... if anyone has ill intent they trip coming through the doorway.... see water captured by a stone after the rain??? dip your fingers in and bless yourself head - hands & heart wetting those spots with the water.....

We have big bricks in this wall that we are rebuilding ...but these things are the mortar and they hold those bricks together.... the little things..... just simple little things....

Fill in only if you are not real

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Posted by Donna Donovan Tue, January 24, 2017 02:12PM

This is a great post! I strongly believe it IS the little things, the day-to-day stuff we do when we think no one is watching...our "habits"...that, like Karon said, builds the culture.

Posted by Karon A. Hartshorn Tue, January 03, 2017 06:55AM

Great blog post - it is all about the small strokes that bring it all home, so to speak. The broad strokes are only at the surface of the "movement" - what we do daily is what builds the culture, and the relationship to the land and its beings.