Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Top 10 Happenings In Tad's Life In The Past Month:

Hey everybody,

It's been awhile, and I haven't really given you all an in-depth update in the last month. So, here here are my highlights.

1. General Life Update: Have been feeling very humbled these days -- noticing my own reactions and uptight need for control. My sense of entitlement -- trying to balance that with getting my needs met. It's amazing, and I think it's such a hallmark of the sickness of our culture -- how entitled we can feel to having whatever we want. I remember as a child and even growing up -- I was quite the kleptomaniac. If I saw something I wanted, I took it. I can see how this same impulse plays that over the world -- I want your land and so I'll take it. It's not so much hatred of the other it's just that... they really don't matter. As the old joke goes "it's not whether you win or lose... it's whether I win."

I continue to be amazed by my capacity to suddenly tighten up, move into fear, stress and judgment. The more that I reflect on the last decade of my life the more I am simply stunned by the level of arrogance I had. God bless it for the role that it served and I'm very clear that it's no longer useful in my life. Or, at least not as a controlling a dominating force. I suppose everything is useful somewhere.

I'm still sitting a lot with the question of where this is all going -- my life. Where do I fit in this whole Gaelic world? What are the aspects of my roots and I feel most called to explore? Where do I feel most inspired to give my gifts to the world? I've heard the number of indigenous people talk about the importance of developing your "giveaway" -- your gift to the world. So, I'm still even sitting with knowing what that is.

2. Financial: Dear God is Scotland expensive. Enough said.

3. Meeting my first Gaelic elder -- while I was that the book launch for "A Waxing Moon" (a book about the Gaelic College I am attending) I met a woman - Rima Morell. She is the author of "The Sacred Power of Huna" - a book about Hawaiian shamanism. We got to talking and she mentioned that, in the north of Skye - their lives a traditional storyteller, George McPherson. He is someone who learned the stories from his parents and grandparents. They would tell him the stories and then have him repeat them back to make sure that he got it right. If he'd made any mistakes they'd correct him and have them do it again to make sure that he was passing on the stories as they'd heard them.

I was very excited as, just the week before, I’d been asking a teacher at school if there were any old "seanachie" (a word meaning "storyteller" or "tradition bearer" -- it derives from the root "sean" which means old) in the area. He had said that there were not.

As it turned out, Rima was having her own book launch in Portree the next week. She mentioned that George would be there and, since it was only an hour away, I decided to go. I loved her presentation thoroughly -- people who write books about shamanism seemed to fall into one of two camps "glassy eyed new agers" or the more grounded in legitimate variety. Rima did an incredible job of laying out the political situation in speaking primarily to that in her presentation -- which I deeply appreciated -- and she deftly woven in mystical strands as well. It was clear that she had an incredible amount of respect for the people and communities in Hawaii.

George arrived a little late and, after the presentation, I spoke to him briefly.

Rima had given me the sense that he spoke Gaelic fluently so, out of respect, I switched into Gaelic for him. After about a minute he had a look of confusion on his face. "You have met a disadvantage," he said. "I only have a little bit of Gaelic. I was following you for the first bit... " I apologized and explained that I had understood that he spoke Gaelic. "Well," he replied. "My father had excellent Gaelic but he never spoke it at home. When we were growing up it was a thing to be ashamed of. You could be punished in schools for speaking it." I asked him if there was much interest from the youth in the area in the old stories. He shook his head and told me what I'd witnessed myself, that most youth think of such things and traditions as "the past". As I was going he said, "if you're ever in the area stop by for a few stories." I'm hoping to go up some points in November and perhaps for great deal of the Christmas break in December and January.

4. Going for walks with Maggie and learning Gaelic songs: one of the few other students here from North America, Maggie, has agreed to go for a walk with every once in awhile and, while we’re walking, teach me some Gaelic songs. I already have one under my belt -- well, mostly -- and an excited to learn more.

5. Visiting a Famous Castle: one of my classes is, basically, a field trip every two weeks. It's an incredible chance to see Skye and learn about it, in Gaelic. On the last trip we visited a place named Dun Sgathaich. It's the ruins of an old Castle. But was so incredibly powerful about the experience for me was that this Castle has a very special place in the ancient myths of Ireland. It is where that great hero, CuChulain, came to train in swordsmanship. It was just amazing to think of the people in the stories as real people and to imagine where they had stood to know that, in order for them to have entered the Castle they would have had to walk across that particular bridge... just incredible.

6. Leading a workshop: Back in May, I heard about a book entitled Soil and Soul: the People Versus Corporate Power by a fellow named Alastair McIntosh - from Scotland. I ordered it, and read it and was deeply impressed with it. He was writing it targeted toward the different crowd than myself, but was coming from, in many ways a similar place. He spoke of the need for “cultural psychotherapy”, the need for people living in Scotland to reclaim their roots. I resonated with a lot of it. So, I sent him an e-mail, actually even before I had read the book, telling him how impressed I was with his web site and the themes that he was working on. I also sent him one of the papers I wrote for university about the importance of white people reclaiming their indigenous roots. He really loved paper.

Fast forward.

During the October break I'd gone down to Glasgow for a couple days and sent him e-mail again -- I really wasn't sure where he lived in Scotland. When I got back to the College -- a five-hour train ride -- there was an e-mail from him asking if I was still in Glasgow. He told me that he was going to be leading a two day workshop on Spiritual Activism and he was wondering if I would like to lead a 90 minute session. Having organized so many events myself (and having had absolute disasters happen from inviting guest presenters I'd never seen before) I knew what kind of a leap of faith this was for him. So, we discussed the idea back and forth and I went back down to Glasgow.

It was so wonderful to meet all the people of the workshop -- it was, really, one of my first times of really feeling at home with a group of people. I felt so wonderful to be in the group of like-minded folks. Alastair had asked me to speak about the importance of "conviction" in activism. I had never spoken about that before, but I thought, "why not?"

My session went quite well and I was surprised to be invited to attend the second day which Alastair had told me I wouldn't be able to attend. It was such a gift to be able to watch Alastair work -- he was very masterful in the way that he facilitated and presented and I'm just unbelievably impressed with his effectiveness as an activist. You can check out his work at

7. Hanging out with students from the Gaelic school of Art: one of the things that this College gets used for is a sort of "conference area". The Glasgow School of Art, for the past five years has been having students come up here as a sort of beginning of the year community building event.

They held a ceilidh in the Talla Mhor (The Big Hall) which also acts as a sort of informal pub. I went, got to know them, did a magic show and, the next day, went up north in Skye, by Portree, to visit a famous landmark called "the Bodach”.

It is a huge, phallic protrusion of rock.

Its name was originally the "bod" which meant... well... you know... but, maybe did Christianity or tourists it's been changed to "bodach" which means old man. It was a long and fairly steep hike up their in the wind was very loud. I remember the words my friend Puma, a Peruvian medicine man, had told me once -- he told me that if I would ever visit the sacred place or was going to do a ceremony that it was important to give something back to that place, something sweet -- maybe some fruit or candy. So, I made a Celtic cross from some white rocks and left an apple up there.


So, that's all.

I know, I know.

It was only SEVEN things that I updated you on... but uh . . learn to live with disappointment?

Gaol Mòr (Big Love),


TAD'S LATEST INKLINGS: The Projects I've Been Mulling Over


  • waking people up from the trance of civilization and whiteness, helping us all become "onkwehonwe" again. Recovering pride in their indigenous roots.
  • travelling
  • weaving themes of: primitivism, conscious economy, anti-oppression, decolonization, personal healing, indigenous wisdom


1) Interviews about being "white and indigenous". Interview: Apela Colorado, Taiaiake Alfred, Derek Jensen, Frank MacEowen, Tom Cowan, Angeles Arrien, George McPherson, Caitlin and John Matthews, Alastair Macintosh, Mara Freeman, Evon Peter, Chief Oren Lyons, Winona LaDuke etc.)

2) Handbook for Young Celts: This book would be written for white, youth of primariliy celtic descent ages 18 - 25 who are looking at reclaiming their indigenous roots in an authentic way and who have no idea how to do that or what aspects to consider. Less a handbook i suppose than just a book designed to inspire and lay out an analysis and perspective on the process - themes I want to weave together. - anti oppression

- whiteness and privilege

- decolonization

- indigenous solidarity

- my own journey

- roots

- interviews with elders: gaels, leading thinkers, indigenous elders

- The Four Celts: individual celts, clan gael, community gael and tourist celt

- messages from other indigenous elders

- The Code of the Fianna

- The Lies: Modernism and it’s Myths

- show the historical and political parallels between the Gaels and other indigenous people

- Contrast to age, Paul Pilzer, Harv Ecker ways of knowing wealth and their principles with indigenous ways

2) Words to Carry You Home: "what indigenous elders have to say to white books were searching for their indigenous roots"

3) Gliochdas na Seanachie: Interviews with Gaelic elders: George MacPherson

4) The Future of Gaelic: interviews with Gaelic activists

5) A Celtic "Four Agreements" type

6) Craft a book of Mamas Wisdom


  1. Study more deeply with Tom Cowan
  2. Study more deeply with Bill Plotkin
  3. Study more deeply with Caroline Casey
  4. Study more deeply with Angeles Arrien
  5. Go to the Earth Sea community for a time


  • Spends virtual time in the wilderness
  • Do some wilderness/Bush craft training
  • Two year-long "walk about" -- maybe just for a few months
  • Spend time with tinkers in Scotland
  • Visit and live with Sami people in Finland and


  • Do a Radical Business Tour across North America
  • Speaking conferences: GreenFest, Social Venture Network, Bioneers
  • Lead Soul of Money retreats with Lynne Twist


  • Speak to St. FX Gaelic students
  • Travel doing Celtic Youth Activism Workshops
  • Celtic Youth Jam
  • Celtic Youth Camps
  • Support Gaelic language activism
  • "The Young Seanachie Project" - a project training and then touring young storytellers
  • Do in North America wide fundraising tour for Gaelic in Cape Breton
  • Make a documentary "traveling Scotland speaking only Gaelic". Travel all over Scotland with three or four people and filmed their experience of speaking only Gaelic in Scotland. "What are they speaking? Is a German?", talk with the elders, talk with SMO, Oi Polloy, open with the footage from the 1920s I side seen at St. FX -- "what happened?", go into busy coffee shops are pumps for a day and put a sign on the table "A bheil Gaidhlig agaibh?" (“Do You Speak Gaelic?) -- see if anyone responds, DVD of extended interviews, given animated short history of Scotland


I've always thought that one of the best ways to get to know somebody is to know what books they're reading. Whenever i enter someone's house the first place i go to is their bookshelf (you do it too .. .). But, i think an even BETTER measure is to know what books they're wanting to read - the books they have bought or read only speak to where they were.

I thought it might give you some insight into where my mind is at these days to know the books i'm actively excited to have in my bookshelf. (and uh . . . my 30th birthday (dear lord) is November 5th and . . . coughing sound. . . if you happened to be inspired . . .)

But truly, i just chunked out this list of books and it was interesting for ME to see what the main categories of interest were for me. it gave ME an update on myself. (those hilited and in bold are my next "must reads").

ANd i thought it might be a nice break from updates on pictures and my hilarious commentary. I now give you . . .



MUST - Primal War -

MUST - John Zerzan Stuff


MUST - Wasase - Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom - Taiaiake Alfred

MUST - Supernatural - Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind - Graham Hancock

MUST - The Wisdom of the Wyrd - Brian Bates


MUST - Whiteness of a Different Colour - Matthew Frye Jacobson

MUST - How the Irish Became White


MUST - Inner Strength - Anthony Robbins


MUST - Endgame - The Collapse of Civilization and the Rebirth of Community - Derrick Jensen

MUST - Hope's Edge - Lappe

  1. CELTIC:

MUST - The Celtic Consciousness -- Robert O'Driscoll

MUST - Celtic Geographies: Old Culture, New Times - edited by David C. Harvey, Rhys Jones

MUST - eKeltoi -

MUST - The Quest for the Celtic Key - Karen Balls MacLeod

  1. GAELS:

MUST - Gaelic Scotland -- The Transformation of the Culture Region -- Charles Withers (the main source for Michael Newton's work)

MUST - The Gaelic Otherworld - John Campbell

MUST - An Tuil - Ronald Black


MUST - The Resurgence of the Real: body, nature and place and hypermodern world -- Charlene Spretnak (examines modernism, the backlash against romanticism and the underlying aspects and assumptions of "modernity")