Journey With The Sacred Oak, A Spiritual Walk Towards Druidry

by Barbara McVeigh

Seasonal Basket from Invasive French Broom

The wise ones, I have been told, ask you to be open to what is given to you, the gifts that come your way. Listen to your heart, as it is more true than the head. I would not have believed this, unless I relinquished all that was previously taught to me and decided to take a step onto this path of openness, curiosity and wonder. And it all came full circle when I was asked to join an Acorn Ceremony, in the spirit of the previous land dwellers, the Indigenous Miwok of Northern California, to recognize my spiritual journey into Druidry was my newfound landscape. The Indigenous Native American ways lead me right back to my own heritage of Irish Indigenous practice.

Acorns Being Prepared

Each year the Miwok would harvest the acorns from the Black Oaks, Live Oaks and Valley Oaks, each acorn having a different characteristic and value. It was a celebration that lasted for weeks, bringing everyone together, as grudges and differences would be set aside. Children climbed trees, strong men hit branches with large sticks. Women gathered the rich brown nuts from the ground. The harvest would be a staple for the full year, with the average family consuming 3000 pounds of acorns. Some Miwok families held rights to a particular tree, and as historians have written, the tree would be cared for, stewarded and honored. The acorn harvest season also marked the beginning of a new year. 

I was invited to join an acorn ceremony on November 1 by my employer. I’m a nature educator for children and our school strives to share knowledge of Indigenous people of California. I hold my classes in the meadows, on grassy hills and under the oaks and redwoods of Mount Tamalpais, a California State Park that borders Point Reyes National Seashore, with the Pacific Ocean to the west. The land includes coyotes, bob cats, mountain lions, raccoons, deer and other native life and flora.

Different types of oak – Black Oak, Live Oak and Valley Oaks, are just a few.

We met for the acorn ceremony late morning in a park filled with oak trees. The ceremony was a bit awkward at first, in a way that we really didn’t know what we were doing except for one noble act – our intention was to recreate a ceremony to honor the oak trees and new season, in the spirit of the Miwok who had lived on the land. So, as a collective group, we decided to first share with each other knowledge we had of oak trees, recognizing the many different kinds of oaks, witnessing their unique leaf shapes and acorn varieties and discussing the areas where they grow in California and beyond. We shared acorn recipes – acorn pancakes, mush or bread. We discussed best ideas to leach tannins of the grounded nuts to make into edible flour. We each stood by an oak tree, resting our hands on a trunk to feel the energy from our arms into the trunk, down to the roots and than back up into our feet and into our bodies, creating a visual energy cycle of connection that we ultimately have with all of nature. We brought acorns to process together, and the music of the pestle against the stone mortar created a rhythm of sound much like that of what would have been heard in a Miwok village, knowing we were near an old village where today only a wooden sign marks its history. We stood in circle together recanting gratitude for the season, giving tribute to the gifts of the day – a blue sky, a soft warm wind, a child’s nearby laughter.

The following day I reflected on this Acorn ceremony, and a thought suddenly came to me about the connection of Oak Trees, Miwok and Druids. The ceremony was conducted the same day as Samhain! It was in that moment I gained an appreciation for the connection between the two cultures, the Druids and Miwok Native Americans, as they both honor nature and spirit. The Gaelic year began in November following the festival of An Samhain. “The cold was considered necessary to cleanse the land and prepare it for the new bountiful year ahead.” writes Celtic Life International. And the moon cycles are respected and used to mark time thoughout the year.

The landscape of my journey into Druidry was now no longer just found in books or podcasts, but it was physical around me. It was no longer just an oak tree, but it proved to be a deeply rooted connection into my heritage, my blood and my physical realm opening me up to everything around me in a new way.

The following week I pondered this sitting in a field with my students. We were stewarding the land and pulling up what has been labeled as invasive nonnative broom that is choking the native plants. Piles of it had been stacked ready for the chipper. I had just cut a stalk and flexed it as it’s easily bendable, creating a ring and putting it on a child’s head like a crown. The child ran off laughing and climbed an oak tree. And suddenly a new thought came to me again. How easy one could weave baskets from this plant!Native American baskets are sacred and the best ones were always gifted to others, as generosity was valued as has been written in the well known book by Malcolm Margolis The Ohlone Way. The Ohlone of the San Francisco Bay live just south of the Miwok and share many of the same values and traditions. Margolis writes in the book that when a hunter brought home the food, the best meat always went to the most vulnerable. Respect was valued. Not greed.

I took home the broom stalk and began weaving a basket, or attempted to weave, to more aptly describe. How strange it was to be in California weaving an invasive plant, which, as I learned, is the same plant my ancestors used in Ireland to weave potato baskets! I had just read up on Irish baskets to learn about the revered “potato basket” used to wash and serve potatoes in traditional households. Potatoes are not native to Ireland, they come from The Americas. Was this a symbolic cleansing? A cleansing of the native land here by creating Indigenous art of my native Ireland! I couldn’t help but think otherwise. As I continued to weave a basket, I was doing more – I was weaving a story to connect indigenous ideas, a reverence, and ultimately a basket to honor these indigenous and almost forgotten ideals and craft. I ultimately completed the basket into the shape of a cornucopia for each of the children and their families filled them with nuts, apples, persimmons and leaves, symbolic of abundance, sharing and gratitude.I think of landscape differently now, both externally and internally.

The gifts are all around us, if we stop and look . . . and to feel. I am complete with the oak tree symbolizing my temples and a woven basket symbolizing a cleansing and a creation to honor the value of the heart, a vessel to give. I’m reminded of the words of Navajo Nation Tom B.K. Goldtooth whom I once met. He said to me that those in the Western world are upside down. Information isn’t important, that which is stored in your head and is always changing. The heart comes first. Good relations. Start there.

Let’s remember reagan and Happy birthday bob marley!

It’s a party !!! A new Party for the United States!

Feed the homeless, in solidarity, and bring your masks!

Reagan’s policies have brought the good people together – those who
understand values of sharing, kindness, collaboration and how NOT to
live with material wealth – THANK YOU REAGAN!

AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB MARLEY! Bring charitable funds for the homeless, canned food for the food banks and/or tents for those who need them.

Bob Marley – Redemption Song Lyrics

from album: Uprising (1980) Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly.
Won’t you help to sing
This songs of freedom
‘Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fullfil the book.

Won’t you help to sing
This songs of freedom-
‘Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.

/Guitar break/

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fullfil the book.
Won’t you have to sing
This songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs –
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.

HUnger strike. civil disobedience. EnOUGH.

December 27-January 1

ACTION ENDORSED BY:
Professor/Activist Noam Chomsky,
Actor/Activist Peter Coyote,
Vietnam Veteran/Activist S Brian Willson:

“I support Barbara McVeigh’s hunger strike to bring attention to the imperative of finally ending the era of Reagan’s austerity and neoliberal economic policies that continue to hurt so many people, and for focus on new policies to strengthen unions and to embark upon a new path of radical ecological consciousness. -S Brian Willson

It’s high time to be inspired by S Brian Willson who stood with a Hunger Strike in 1986 and 1987 against the US war machine heading toward Central America, an act that has continued to this day and has upset the democracy of the people of Central America, leading to hunger, poverty and corruption.

I stand in protest of multiple issues that must come clean in the next administration so we can see who and what we’ve been. In addition, it’s time to end the Reagan Era, that of trickle down economics, and give rise to unions and power of the people. Billionaires and politicians must be held accountable for today’s corruption and climate change crisis.

The US MUST pay war reparations to the people of Central America to begin a new relationship with our southern neighbors, one of peace, prosperity and respect.

It’s time the people take back power, PEACEFULLY.

TAKE BACK! The Universe Loves to Laugh

Premiering December 3, 3pm PST
Marin Television, http://www.cmcm.tv or Channel 26 in Marin County

SIGN THE PETITION: TAKE DOWN THE REAGAN STATUES.
IT’S TIME THE REAGAN STATUE IS REMOVED FROM WASHINGTON, DC.

It’s high time to roll back the Reagan Era. . . The policies of President Ronald Reagan have undermined media, middle class, created billionaires and the working class poor. His policies brought in big military, big oil, undermined unions AND created global climate change, post President Jimmy Carter’s green energy policies. Reagan does NOT represent me. Does he represent you? His statue stands in Washington, DC. as a symbol for the State of California.

LET’S TALK. . . and laugh at the absurdity of 40 years of American politics and propaganda.

Premier show – I GO HEAD TO HEAD WITH RON REAGAN, THE SON OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN on December 3, 3pm. http://www.CMCM.TV online or Channel 26 in Marin County, CA

Time to come clean, America.



My father stood in the 1981 national union strike, the last act of integrity and solidarity in this country, with Vietnam Veterans who were willing to go broke to stand for honesty and fair wages against Reagan. . . many of those union members were imprisoned and labeled federal criminals. Reagan was put in the US Labor Hall of Fame, just two years ago. . . and his statue stands in Washington DC representing California (Pelosi put him there with no public comment). I was 13 waiting for the FBI to come arrest my father and it was then I got the greatest lesson in my life – how to always stand for what is right and never cater to fear.

NOTHING BRINGS ME GREATER PLEASURE TODAY, 40 years later, THAN TO SET THE HISTORICAL RECORD STRAIGHT. President Ronald Reagan today should be considered a federal criminal and any politician who has supported Reagan’s policies belong in a court of law for crimes against humanity for creating climate change and engendering the collapse of our American democracy.

RELEASE of new book: FAN. INC.,

After five years writing, I’ve decided to toss this story to the wind, as a community impact project and invite the public to write the story, the new story for all future generations to understand the undermining of our democracy and global health by billionaires, greed, control and domination.

I have been privileged in life to experience the richness of writers’ workshops with two of my favorite writers/teachers Tom Centolella and Tamim Ansary, learning the power of that which is incomplete as a means to be empowered to make complete.

In that spirit, I invite you to read this raw and rough story to offer your ideas, your corrections and your spirit to drive a healing narrative and ensure those who have exploited the people, our land and our water are forever remembered as a means to warn all future generations about our time today. And to demonstrate our power today, as the artists, that all eyes are watching them now and by all future generations.

Available on Amazon. Feel free to email me or contact me with your corrections, additions, ideas and anything else you would like to add.

On AMAZON

 

Oxygen, the new gold, is the powerful commodity the tech corporate elite use to control and dominate the people, post a global economic and government collapse. Two societies have emerged, one of extreme patriarchy, ruled by surveillance and city lockdown methods, and a matriarch society hidden underground in the restricted Wildlands, who are loyal to the spirit and natural world. The leaders of each society were once married and united by love. Is it power or hate that caused the divide? Their daughter, Patricia, must find a way to reconcile their differences to bring both societies together for balance before ultimate death, including her own.

This story serves as an experimental community impact project, a story that can expand into a larger collective narrative as a warning to modern day global powers. Despite the fact “we, the people” may feel powerless today, this project aims to deliver a message to those who abuse power that “we, the people” do have power to tell their stories for all future generations. The author invites you to contribute your ideas and comments to this story to build a large, impactful narrative to ensure today’s global elite understand the power of “we, the people.”

About the Author: Barbara McVeigh is a community impact artist and writer. She’s the mother of two children and lives in Northern California. Her father stood up to the President of The United States in the historic national union strike of 1981 for political honesty when she was thirteen years old. It provided her the ultimate education – “question everything and never give up your dreams.” Her memoir is called Redemption, How Ronald Reagan Nearly Ruined My Life. Her documentary films explore ocean conservation, art and music. www.barbaramcveigh.com

Death of a Generation – The Next Movement.

“Save lives,” is the mantra we live by today. We have started to walk a psychological path these last months that ignore the greatest gift in life and that is the certain path toward death.

I’ve never looked at death with fear. Perhaps it’s due to my father when one day when I was a child we sat together watching a film about a Native American chief preparing for his own death. He felt his time had come and set himself into a small boat and out to sea. Except death didn’t come and he laid there wide eyed wondering why he was still alive after making all his sacred preparations, thinking he had planned it all so carefully. It took him time to decide to get out of that boat and back to life, realizing he had things to do. It wasn’t time for death and he had to humbly acknowledge that the universe was far bigger than him, a mere human being. “That’s how I want to die,” my father said. “I plan to be noble about it.” I decided I wanted to die that way too.

It’s one of the two greatest transitions of our “earth walk,” as some call it. Birth and death, two bookends that give us the most beautiful, challenging gift one could have, including the lessons one gains. First, with birth, the dreams emerge of what and who you want to be. As the clock ticks toward death, you have to look at who you have been with the lingering forever question, who was I and what was it all about? And, others will ask that same question about you for context and meaning in their own lives.

As I look around me during this “pandemic” time, I see the fear in eyes, especially the elderly,  and the denial that death is part of life. If you’ve lived a long life, that is to be celebrated and respected. Shouldn’t you be grateful for a long life? Or, is there more to the story? I think so. Our society is about to experience the greatest death rate these next two decades of one of the largest populations in our world – the baby boomers at a time we do not value the sacredness of death. By acknowledging death and honoring it, such gives you the absolute love for life. We seem to have a society that believes they are impervious to that final act, as we know it.  And hide in fear. Yet, we are set now to embark on one of the greatest cultural shifts in the history of the world spiritually, environmentally and culturally as death narratives confront us all, including the narrative of a baby boomer culture that has dominated us for over sixty years.

The baby boomers have had the limelight since the 1960s as their music, ideas and arts dominated our American culture. They rebelled against their parents, those who had been from a generation enduring the depression and World War Two. Their music screamed for freedom, world peace while they smoked joints and got high on LSD, again shunning the conventional world of their parents. They screamed against racism (rightfully so) and one generation of youth united like no other. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood tall with exceptional support boldly stating “I have a dream speech” about equality, Woodstock was a sea of screaming and dancing youth demanding a better world, as they also raged against the Vietnam War.

My own mother was a Navy wife and young mother during this time. Living on the naval base in San Diego, she was frightened about leaving the base anytime as many would harass her about the Vietnam War. My father was not in that war, but was aboard Navy ships, leaving her on her own during her very vulnerable years. My mother is about the most saint like person you could possibly meet. And I think how the hippies tormented her and I have to wonder whether I’ve actually been told the story straight – was the 60s revolution really all that great? Or was it a time of absolute disrespect toward elders, a time of bullying and shaming?

I’ve heard more stories over these last years that counter the positive narratives that have set my lifetime thinking about the greatness of the 60s Era. One was a story from a retired San Francisco cop who told me there were many directionless kids on the streets, those getting drugged up and were simply lost. There was great violence too. And the kids were only interested in screaming what was wrong. “They were hard years”, he told me.

You have to imagine what this is like for an individual like me who has lived in the shadow of all these  stories about the greatness of the 60s. How my generation didn’t measure up to the same level. How my generation needs to be thankful for the work they did for us all. I was born in 1968, so I didn’t experience it. And as a lover of music, I believed all those great Summer of Love stories, believing they were epic times. And I always believed they were the greatest.

The horror is exceptional when a narrative you’ve been told and believed literally erupts and shows its ugly lies right in your face . . . you realize your stupidity for indulging in the illusion you were told to believe. You berate yourself for being so vulnerable and not thinking for yourself. And, this kills me to say, that Reagan was right about one thing, at least. He said the hippies are a bunch of spoiled brats.

The Sixties Era passed and then came the 1980s. The kids became adults and started to lead our country. And, what happened? For forty years, our country endured the most greed oriented, narcissistic era in the world history. The Reagan/Trump era began, two bookends that help us see a time period of consumer appetites that have driven our world to ruin. Like a bulldozing operation, their generation moved through the years taking just about anything without a regard for future generations. A generation who took MLK’s dream speech and grossly converted that narrative into the “American dream” of having a big house, a big car and power. . .  I have to continue to think back to Reagan (and this kills me again) when he said “These are a bunch of spoiled brats.” Trump merely has exposed the dark side of these last 40 years, an age when unyielded bullying, shaming complaining, exploiting and greed have dominated and ruled the game. Trump is of the boomer generation. He has exposed the reality of a generation who still has their head in the 60s narrative. They just don’t want to admit it.

Today we are dealing with unbelievable levels of horrific trauma to our land, air and water as well as to our own bodies, health and mind . . when we KNEW better. From the books of Rachel Carson, the work of Alex Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall and even the visionary President Jimmy Carter who tried to set culture and policy to stop climate change and has lived a life of integrity without the pursuit of fame and fortune – there are ZERO excuses for Boomer generations. Today the boomer generation are senior citizens who somehow have twisted a new narrative to one that brings them sympathy . . . that we need to take care of them and completely eliminate the question “what happened?”

Perhaps it’s time the Baby Boomer generation gets a taste of their own medicine, so to speak and gain empathy for how their parents felt when they were rejected by a growing band of angry youth. They can feel the  shame of what those Vietnam Veterans felt like when they were terrorized by hippies. Perhaps it’s time for a good dose of reality.  And don’t hate me for calling out accountability. Stand for accountability.

There comes a time we need to shift and put all our energy into our children’s lives. For a generation who KNEW better, a generation who stood up and gave us all these stories about themselves as these incredible radicals who pushed world peace, I’m also calling them out on the greatest blaming, shaming, exploitative spoiled brat generation that could ever be delivered. I hold them accountable for the disaster we face today, including melting polar ice caps, ocean acidification, out of control consumerism, the billionaire class, the working poor and exploitative labor, as well as 40 years of wars to fund their lifestyles.

There comes a time you have to look at yourself and ask “Who am I?” This is the time. And consider it a favor.

The good news is this. The baby boomers rose once. Can they do it again?

 

Nurture Nature – a New Film From India!

I was honored and humbled to join this amazing team of artists from India who collaborated to make a film during lockdown about the beauty and power of nature. This project will be discussed on Marin TV, as part of a five part series on the arts and filmmaking in India with highly celebrated and notable literary and film figures of India and beyond, such as Keyuri Shaw, Dr. Avnish Rajvanshi and more. This film project has been accepted to the Lift-Off Film Festival and has been discussed on the New Delhi Community Radio Federation this past weekend, which I was honored to join.

Here is the film!

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Welcome to the Corona Age & Goodbye to the Reagan Era.

We have an opportunity to step into a new age, a shift of consciousness and chance to heal, ourselves and our planet. And it has nothing to do with politicians OR billionaires.

“We, the people” proved to ourselves these last months that “we, the people” can make the needed sacrifices, as President Jimmy Carter had called for in the late 1970s – sacrifices to curb our materialistic desires, commercialism and money agendas in order to make a difference. Carter had spoken in the 1970s about an energy shift, a move from big oil use to sustainable wind and solar. But, we can take it to a higher level now – we can heal ourselves and Planet Earth after forty years and understand his words more vibrantly today than ever before  –  “it’s the moral equivalent of war” but based on construction rather than destruction.

It’s the calling now. We’ve come this far. Let’s push it far, like brothers and sisters, together.

And one day, our kids will look back at our generation and say “wow, look what they did!”

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