Cruinnú (Gather)

This is a good news and bad news story .

Whenever I am asked which I’d prefer first I always say the bad , so that I have something to look forward to , so if you bare with me, I’ll assume the same here .

In these rapidly changing and often very polarising times , where many are too afraid to speak what’s in their heart, there are few who are not feeling the weight of worry for the immediate and long term future, for ourselves, but most especially for our loved ones, the elders and our precious children, our future generations .

There is no denying that, globally, we are rapidly moving into an age of significant instability and unpredictability, largely as a result of our “civilisations” impact on our beautiful home planet, Earth. We have, consciously or unconsciously been behaving illogically, dishonestly, greedily and immorally for many a decade.

Here in the first world where almost anything we want (but don’t necessarily need) can be acquired at speed with the click of a button whilst remaining seated , we have caused and continue to cause untold suffering to other living beings and to a majority of the human race, who are far removed from our privileged society, by turning a blind eye to the consequences of our way of life .

The general consensus now is that it is likely , in the not too distant future, we are about to significantly experience our own karma. But even if we are not , knowing all of the above ,knowing that for us to have what we don’t need, many many other beings have to suffer , is it ok to carry on regardless ?

It is a hard pill to swallow but swallow it we must so that we can change course , if it’s not too late.

At this stage theories on problems and solutions are ten-a-penny, and difficult to keep up with as our minds are bombarded with things we need to be afraid of.

Scattered, confused, despairing , ungrounded , free-falling, confused are all words so many people have used this past year to describe how they feel about life as they currently know it .

Should we trust the obscenely wealthy corporate billionaires, who need us to need them in order to maintain their positions, who have convinced our governing bodies that they have the solutions to the problems they have long been permitted to cause , as they plundered their way around the body of Earth and the bodies of the lives she sustains ?

Should we now believe they suddenly care for us, for Earth , for the lands and waters they have poisoned and for our bodies they have made dependent on their wares? How many of us are fully informed on what has to happen before these wares , be they food, medicine, clothing etc reach us?

Should we give them charge of our minds, let them influence our thoughts , believe the stories they incessantly repeat through their paid delivery channels as we are cajoled and corralled like livestock into a global group-think perception of absolute rights and absolute wrongs, divide and conquer strategies – with no middle ground to meet on?

Should we let those who are rarely, if ever, touched by the challenges of the ordinary man and woman, lead us towards new systems of control where we will be judged and “managed” not on our inherent human values but on our “battery life” worth to the system?

Should we allow their fixation on “growth” regardless of cost determine our ideas of what wealth means when wealth for some means devastation for many and when we all know that their kind of growth is far removed from and destructive to Nature’s version?

Is it any wonder that there has been concerted attempts to wipe history from the education curriculums over the past number of years, when in moments of presence , with no busied distractions, we can easily look back and see the terrible results of top down, central control , a magnet for the power hungry in past atrocities . All the way back to ancient and fallen civilisations we can find old warnings from countless intellectual, artistic and spiritual prophets about the future as they saw it coming, that has since come to pass and perhaps find that it seems to all be playing out once again , right now, in front of our eyes ?

Should we let them make us enemies of each other, of Life so they can sell us their protection, their weapons ?

These are questions I believe we all urgently need to be asking ourselves, because if we take even one hour of our time out to research (their own official websites ) detailing what appears to be their plan in store for our future, for our children’s , and who exactly is pulling it all together we will see some raw truths .

If we want to retain any kind of freedom or independence as sovereign, natural human beings, if we want to purposely participate in our forgotten role as humans within Nature , I believe that we, the ordinary men and women of Laois, of Ireland, of Earth need to gather , in communities of respect and care for each other and other living beings , so that we can together, return some of what the globalised corporate machine we are batteries for, has stolen from us while we were distracted by their shiny toys and promises .

Everyone who understands and feels this will have their own ideas on what that would look like and the diversity in that will be its magic ingredient .

Unlike the globalised systematic, homogenised version of how to be in the world , difference and up close is where ( I have learned from Nature) the power, strength and resilience of life exists.

Unique, individuated living beings, bringing what they are and have to offer to the whole is what makes a body (whether it’s the Earth-body, the body of a country, a town, a forest, a garden or the magnificent microbiome of the human body) strong and resilient , it is how Nature , and I unapologetically say God (whatever your version of the divine mysterious intelligence behind it all is ) always meant it to be.

Common sense and observation can show us that to try to make all this wonderful diversity fit into one giant system, owned by one percent and managed from a distance by a machine will not only not work but will cause suffering that will never be counted in the data and statistics the harbingers of the new order are so enamoured with .

I wanted this piece to be straight to the point but it has turned into a kind of philosophical ramble . I could go on but these days I feel it’s too late for going on about it and that energy would be better spent just doing it. So with that in mind I’d like to bring this particular part of my ramble to a closing point by saying this …

I honour your right to choose the way you live a conscious informed life of good intention .

I honour your perspective on what is right and wrong for you and those in your care .

I will never support any attempt to force or coerce you to live in a way that dishonours your personal values and ethics or to take away your right to live according to those principles .

I ask you to give others and their choices that same respect .

But I do know that humans cannot do it alone. We need each other . And we need to know each other, to see each other , to be together to truly care for and understand each other in a lasting way.

Humans have been around a long time . Long before the machine , even long before we learned how to cultivate land so that we could improve our chances .

We have been through many a challenging era as a species and without the hi-tec solutions currently being pedalled.

What do you think brought us out the other side ?

If you look, you’ll find that it was knowledge and practice of the simple ordinary ways, of community , of how Nature survives and thrives, how she restores and recovers.

There is an inherent intelligence built into us that knows how to relate to, to support and be supported by the rest of Nature, how to share in the abundance of Life without needing to fearfully conquer, hoard and control . I believe this is an inbuilt memory we can relatively easily recall once we choose to do it together .

And in my experience of simplifying our family life over the last few years , I can assure that though it is not easy and we have a long way to go , there is so much joy to be found in trusting Nature to lead the way for humans .

True independence for the human is neither possible or beneficial . When we attempt it we will inevitably become dependent on something , be it a substance to dull the fear and loneliness of separation , or an institution that gives us a false sense of security , all the while mounting up our debt to it in return.

But inter-dependence is a whole other ball game. Inter-dependence means we admit that we, all living beings , need each other equally and in being able to depend on each other we become independent as a community of life .

In that space of acceptance and respect , I invite you to consider creating or joining a conversation about gathering together a local (meaning reachable within walking distance ) network of ordinary folks who would like to connect in a community of support with the intention of simply being there for each other in whatever way we can. There is no need for defined commitments to be made , no expectations , no leaders , just conversation, creativity and trust in a high intention. Let’s see where the road takes us all ……

There are so many ideas to talk about . Some examples from established projects and communities I will detail in later posts are;

*natural food and medicine growing and sharing

*local small enterprise and business support,

*bartering goods and services ,

*car and transport sharing

*education, skill and knowledge sharing,

*elder integration and wisdom sharing,

*artistry, music and storytelling

*seed banks

And so much more ….

To start the ball rolling I’d like to share what my family and I have to offer a community local to my area which is Mountmellick , Co. Laois, Ireland ……

Over the last couple of years I have been building my knowledge of wild food and medicines and this year I am really looking forward to embarking on a community herbalism apprenticeship with The Plant Medicine School Gorey, Co. Wexford .

I have a decent basic knowledge of hedgerow food and medicine and have been foraging , preserving and using both for a couple of years now with great success. I also do a bit of seed saving.

This year I began fermenting foods using traditional methods and have experienced a significant benefit to our family health, particularly with kefir which is a fermented milk drink full of beneficial biotics that support the diverse environment of the body’s various systems . I believe the success with this was especially impacted by the use of raw organic milk from Clondarrig Farm, Ballyfin , Co. Laois in the making of the kefir.

(More on the Clondarrig Farm community project which my family are very proud to support here)

I am also growing herbs and slowly but steadily developing a permaculture and forest garden on our small site .

We keep chickens and ducks for eggs and hope to progress to bees at some stage . I also like to bake homemade bread in my dodgy oven !

Finally I like to create and gift art, be that in the form of poetry, craft or other kinds of artistic endeavours .

I love to gift friends and family with some of my home produce and what I have gathered in the wild and from experience they also get great joy from receiving these kinds of simple gifts. I also love to share my knowledge on “how to” so they can make their own bits and really enjoy hearing about how they are getting on.

We homeschool our younger children in a loose semi structured way . We call it “need to know” learning ; they learn what they need to know to follow their personal passions and what they need to know to become independent self reliant adults who respect and give back to Earth and the life she sustains .

My older adult son, Stephen is completing his training as an electrician . To have tradesmen like him and others who have the hands on knowledge and experience to keep the basic necessities of community life afloat is priceless in times of uncertainty .

My husband, David is a musician who loves nothing more than gathering with other musicians casually to bring the joy of song and music to their own and others ears. Music, like love is a universal language , it takes us outside of our minds and to another level of perception, it easily crosses many kinds of dividing barriers, can alleviate all kinds of suffering , even physical illness according to recent studies.

By trade he is a chartered civil engineer with extensive knowledge in structural design logic and safety . His passion though is for natural traditional building methods e.g.; cob straw-bale etc.

These methods which have been enjoying a quiet resurgence in this last decade , are in harmony with Nature, using natural local materials and have stood the test of time with well designed and maintained dwellings , still fully operational and inhabited today, having lasted up to two hundred years and more .

Our dream and plan is for our family to be debt free and relatively self sufficient within a supportive community and to be in the position to bring what we love to do to that community .

We encourage our children to learn from our mistakes by never spending what isn’t theirs and to live as freely as possible by learning from Natures ways , staying close to simplicity and working hard to bring their personal gifts and skills to the greater Life community while they are here .

We are an ordinary family who are having the craic with each other one minute and driving each other crazy the next but we love a lot .

It has taken me almost fifty years and plenty of emotional pain to finally realise that I cannot save the world at large but if I bring my attention back to where I am I can make a small difference that will have a natural ripple effect that might just make the world a better place .

By wearing my heart on my sleeve I hope that someone from my local area reads this and spreads the word on gathering people together (perhaps online at first ) for a conversation on taking care of and truly supporting each other in as much alignment with Nature’s ways as we can in these challenging times . I feel like it could be something special.

I also hope that maybe it will be shared further afield to plant seeds in other hearts in other areas . This is not a new idea, it’s not my idea. I don’t believe a leader or an attempt at organising anything specific is necessary. It’s simply a matter of getting to know each other . I’ve been inspired by many others who want something better too and are working in it , for their family’s lives , for their communities , their countries , for Earth.

If you are interested in following what our family are up to please sign up with your email. There is space to leave comments below if you’d like to connect for a chat here .

I also ask that those who feel this is an important message, help me and others like me to spread the word on small local Nature aligned community building by sharing this article with your personal and online circle .

Go raibh míle maith agaibh

Beannachtaí (Blessings)

Annette Morris Keane, Mountmellick, Co. Laois, Ireland

Contact ; Annette3@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Cruinnú (Gather)

  1. As ever beautifully written and the sentiments/ gentle call to action that glue the words of this piece together are important, welcoming and inclusive. Thank you for sharing them. We are on board in whatever capacity our two littilies will facilitate 😄 See you in the garden

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