Friday, November 25, 2005

From The Desk Of Tad Hargrave:

Hey all,

first off, it’s snowing.



- why I’ve been spending my last month is relative isolation - and why that’s been a good thing.

- read snippets of new poems!

- learn about the gift I’m getting that is “like” a kilt but much more Scottish

- the new (delicious) addiction I’ve acquired

- the big lessons I’ve been learning about myself and how the world works

- my recent inklings on the essence of my life work

- the 19 (you read that right!) books that I’d like to write!


Well, the last month has been a very powerful and for me.

The last month for me has been a lot of isolation (if you want to know why - email me and i'll tell you more).

Which has, in retrospect, been a very good thing.

I spent a lot of time reflecting, talking with friends about the incident that prompted this, digging into myself to see where I could take responsibility for it and what I could learn from it. I wrote a number of poems and have been spending a lot more time in prayer, meditation and yoga/stretching early in the morning. It's felt wonderful. Very grounding.

There have been a few moments where I felt profoundly lonely but, for the most part, I have actually felt a very strong (and strengthening) sense of connection to myself. The event also help to refocus me on why I am here for this year - to learn Gaelic. And it seems that this year is also another level of initiation and training for me. I have a lot of space in my life right now and I'm enjoying the opportunity to use it to build my inner strength.

This past month has also seen me acquire an addiction to oatmeal. I've got this whole recipe down pat them. I take coconut, Oats, raisins, cinnamon, dates and dried apricots and little chunks of Apple and pour hot water onto that and maybe some olive oil, let it sit for a few minutes and...ahhhhhhh . . . it's a lovely way to start the day. I have also been eating, some of you will be shocked, fish once every week or so. I'm experimenting with it for a year to see how it feels.

I've also been going for a lot of walks. There's a beautiful trail nearby. So, I'm slowly feeling myself getting back into some sort of physical fitness.

One of the things that most excited about is that my family is all pitching some money together held by me a "feileadh mor" for Christmas.

What is that you ask?

Well, basically, it's the precursor to the kilt. What very few people know, outside of Celtic academics, is that the kilt (and in fact the whole business about every clan having its own tartan) is an invention of the English. Before this time people would wear these huge blankets called a "plaide" (pron: plahjuh). I'm talking 8 m by 3 m. Big. They would wrap it around themselves so that the bottom half would basically look like a modern-day kilt and the top half you would either throw over your shoulder or let hang by your side. It was made from wool so you could sleep outside in it as well and it made a very warm blanket.

They are also, luckily, much less money than a modern-day kilt. So, I'm gonna be getting one of those in the Mackay tartan and George McPherson, the storyteller who I told you all about in my last update, will be teaching me how to put it on in the traditional way. I'm very excited about this holiday season because I'll be spending a good part of it up in the north of Skye with George MacPherson listening to traditional old Gaelic stories. Again, grounding. Roots.

So, this past month has seen me learning a lot about myself. Below are some of the things that are sticking out most clearly for me.

What I'm Learning About Myself:

It is often very hard for me to accept people and circumstances as they are: I often have little respect for people's boundaries, limits and natures -- I find myself wanting people and situations to be different than they are. There is a strong feeling me of "I wish they were more this way," or "they SHOULD be more this way". It's like I get an idea of what I wish the future were like and then I get trapped in a sense of self-pity that it isn't that way because it "should" be. Self pity is coming up as a big theme to me.

I feel very scared to engage reality at times. Throughout my life I have often felt the need to follow abstract principles and ideas from books rather than my own gut and intuition - and just paying attention to the real life situation at hand.

This first birth inside happens inside you.

You carry it in your belly.

The second birth happens in the hearts of the Others

When it is welcomed into the world.

A clear theme in my lifetime seems to be about "being real" (e.g. the importance of truth in my life, indigeneity, questioning modernity, frustration with New Age bull&*^$&^# and fictional spiritual stories posing as reality). And yet - so often i fight reality. I don't want to admit that people don't want my help, or aren't interested in the things I am. I ignore that and try to nudge people into the direction I want them to go. I ignore obvious discomfort from others or in myself in regards to my own actions. I resist that a relationship just may not be a fit.

I often get so obsessed with what I want that I can't see what's true. Sometimes, it really isn't OK for me that people don't want what I am offering them. This has come up before in my life -- my need to help people -- which I think is really just my own need to be needed. It's like I get these visions for other people of what they could be -- I see possibilities for them that they don't see for themselves and I get so excited about these possibilities that I become blinded to reality and they feel pushed by me. I want to heal them. I want to fix them.

I don't control my impulses very well... I want to do something and I do it. If i don't want to do something i don't. I tend not to think about the consequences or, if I do, I feel a strong resentment and rebelliousness to those who I imagine would punish me. Or limit me. There are many ways that this impetuousness has been of service to me in my life -- it has led to a boldness in action and given me a bias towards taking action rather than just thinking about things. This is put me in situations that I truly was not ready for and caused me to grow rapidly. It has been a sort of self initiatory tool. But, as I grow, I'm seeing the downside of it -- it has often put me in situations that I was not ready to handle -- this has led to me at learning off of the backs of others who dealt with my ineptness. Everything is double edged I guess. Sorry sorry. Love me love me.

I often do not respect other people's choice NOT to engage me. I can see that a lot of this has to do with my own loneliness. So ironic how neediness backfires (apparently other human beings have been aware of this before . . .).

What I'm Learning About My Shadow:

I'm starting to see an odd parallel, or a bridge, between my inner and outer work in the world.

LIMITS: I'm seeing how often in my life I've been inappropriate in the ways that I've interacted with other people -- coming onto strong, too intensely, being inappropriate with my displays a physical affection and sort of forcing my energy and expectations on people. When people try to hold me back from doing so -- I feel a deep resentment. In fact, whenever i feel that anyone is EVER trying to limit me (e.g. you can't bring your knapsack into this movie theatre) I feel like saying "*&#^*& off" and pushing back.

I guess central here is my ability to respect the truth in other people's hearts, to respect where they are at -- respect their limits. People seem to show their limits in body language, how they respond to me or don't -- and you I guess I can always ask directly. Love is not just the feeling FOR somebody but a respect for their boundaries. Respect of People's boundaries is the baseline of love.

Damn. it just hit me the deep irony - and i guess perfection of this all - i'm soooo reactive about people infringing on MY limits but i have so little respect for OTHERS limits. shooooot. (uhh i'm cussing less in this letter because my grandmother will be reading it too at some point. hello mama).

I'm seeing the importance to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate authority. I'm seeing that i've got some rebellion issues.

PREDATORS: I did some therapeutic body work with a fellow in Fairfield around my pattern on feeling predatorial towards vulnerable young women. And the shame of that “shouldn't a man's role be to protect women? to protect the vulnerable. i feel so ashamed . . .” The fellow I was working with thought this was all very funny, “Don't you see the irony? You're whole life is about taking on the predators out there and here YOU are BEING a predator.” Damn.

ENTITLEMENT: This is related to limits. Throughout my life I've felt so entitled to take whatever I wanted. My mothers chips and chocolate and ginger ale. Money from her wallet. My friends toys. I have felt entitled to be a leader and be in charge and run the show. Entitled to call the shots and be the center of attention. And yet, I'm coming to see that this sense of entitlement is also the beating heart of colonization and destruction - “I want your land so I'll take it.” Perhaps it was less hatred and more . . . “you're in my way”. It's in me so powerfully and yet i fight it in the world too.

It's amazing to me how my work on the inner world parallels my work in the outer world.

What I'm Learning About How the World Works:

The Souls of the Bastards who reject us are working for our liberation by turning us back to ourselves. How marvelous!

You will have to let go of your cherished belief

that someone is going to protect you.

No one is going to save you

or do the work of growing for you.

No one is going to show you the way.

This is the start of your survival dance.

I remember my life before I met those who didn't want to forgive me -

But demanded I find trust again in myself.

There was nowhere else to look for it.

And every dagger they throw into your heart


To mark it clearly for you

So that you'll never mistake this again

As anything but the source of your own inner wisdom

The one thing you can trust.

You have been asleep for a long time.

And it might take a lot to wake you up

To point -- clearly -- the way home.

It might take a dagger into your heart -

The one thing you can trust -

Marked out for you

Their personalities want to see you cringe into nothingness

But their soul wants to see you blaze anew.

A fiery response to the challenge

Love vs. Longing To Be filled: The feeling of longing, excitement and urgent draw i feel so strongly with some people is often a sign of emptiness - not just love. It's a sign for me to stop leaning forward but to stand up straight inside myself and deal with the emptiness and longing i feel.

Hunger never hurt me so badly

As when there was the possibility of food

And I am undone.

I had forgotten that I had forgotten the last time I ate

That dull ache becomes a part of you.

I understand how men can see mirages in the desert

I see them everyday.

It was real - i swear it.

I could almost touch it . . .

I lean forward.

Isn't the intensity of this feeling what it means to be truly ALIVE?


It's just what it means to be empty,

To rattle in the gentlest breezes.

You know, I thought you were water?

And I tried to drink you dry . . .

I'm sorry for that.

Emptiness distorts everything.

So, is it to fill or be filled that you're wanting?

You might as well be honest about what you need.

Everyone knows anyway.

Are you seeing what people really need

Or just what you're wanting to give?

And why do you want to give it?

The songs of praise to water

Sung by a thirsty man

Are not love songs.

They are the songs of longing

And desire.

They are songs of wanting.

Of emptiness.

Only those who still sing

Once quenched, water dripping from their mouths,

Sing songs of love.

Invitations vs. Impositions: I am learning that i get into trouble when i try to impose my ideas or expectations or hopes onto other people. I am seeing that the first birth is when an idea is born into my heart (not just my mind). But then i have a responsibility to steward, parent that spark responsibly - not just to throw it carelessly out into the world and expect other people to love it.

I am seeing that this sort of imposition is almost a raping of the world - a having my way with it. What this universe needs is a dance partner not a dominator. Perhaps the fear I feel for my ideas is a distorted parental feeling of protection. But all the more important then to find the right community and introduce the child with respect and graciousness and to invite - respectfully - support.

Call and response

Patience is required here

There is an old etiquette here -

Permissions to be gained

Protocol to be followed and

Blessings to be invited

Consent to be given

From everything.

The rock that wants to be a part of the wall

Will carry half of its weight you know.

If you ask it.

It's true.

How often it was not an offer from my heart

But a cry for help

The echoing of emptiness.

Ugly demands were made

Clumsy, jagged and jangling

Reeking of desperation

And how my fear of dying from emptiness has bred entitlement

A clutching and grabbing at everything.

And then resentment -

And petty rebellions! - the major wars for minor causes.

Enemies at every corner

Who would ruin my business.

But a pine needle can spring a forest to cover your retreat

And slow the advance of enemies.

Volcanoes can erupt

Oil can vanish leaving corporations bewildered

Water can leave its well dry - offended by fences.

There is a place you can stand

That will carry your voice

Clean and sweet smelling


To the ears of allies.

You are not alone here in a world begging to be rescued.

You are shoulder to shoulder in a community of equals.

Is it because you are desperately afraid?

You're trying to save a world

That doesn't want to be saved

That doesn't need to be saved

Because this world is not afraid.

If I open an opportunity, give an invitation and create a space for something to happen (e.g. you want to study? Go to a movie?) and get no response -- that IS a response. It doesn't make me worth any less, just means that particular invitation wasn't a fit.

My pattern: if I invite someone to do something and they say "no" by words or nonaction -- and I feel dependent on them then I'm faced with the reality that I am -- for the moment -- on my own. And faced with a choice to stand in myself and accept the truth or to lean on them.

I guess all I can do is create spaces and invitations -- I can't force people to do feel things.

Inviting people to a new possibility is fine -- the question is -- can I do it:

-- without them feeling pressured?

-- without making them wrong?

-- without judging them for where they are?

-- without asking them to violate or go against their natures?

-- with them feeling free to say "no"?

-- with them feeling welcomed not seduced?

I've been feeling so much profound clarity coming to me on my life work and what i am coming to see it's about - and so many inklings for projects. None of the projects listed below are things I feel 100% committed to (I have ideas for 19 books - good Lord!) I think that they all represent a piece of the work that I feel cultivated. I'm excited to take a lot of time over that holiday season to review this list and reflect on it and sift out what the essence of it is. I’ll just put the books here for now, but there’s more ideas for non-writing things.

Below are some of the thought of being coming to me lately about the essence of my life's work and below that are some ideas for books that I've been thinking about working on. I just realizing, as I write this right now, that the fact that 19 of my ideas are books probably says something about the kind of work that I want to do. I'm really feeling like the next five years of my life is going to involve a lot of writing, speaking and traveling. I'm feeling pretty clear that I won't be coming back to the Gaelic college next year. Of course, that might change in a month or two -- but I'm feeling ready to "launch" out into the world at another level. And I'm clear that this year is giving me an incredibly strong foundation in Gaelic.


waking people up from the trance of civilization and whiteness, helping us all become "onkwehonwe" again. Recovering pride in their indigenous roots.

the core question: what's the cost of being white? Not much if you stay within the frames of modern society. what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

being real: the importance of truth in my life, indigeneity, questioning modernity, frustration with New Age bull&*^$&^# and fictional spiritual stories posing as reality


weaving themes of: primitivism, conscious economy, anti-oppression, decolonization, personal healing, indigenous wisdom

healing people make sense of what's happening and what is likely to happen and to find their place in it.

help to reveal the profound relevance of the celtic/gaelic world to today. it is so simple and powerful. right now it seems so “old fashioned” and “supernatural” and, frankly, irrelevant. Must be brought back as “perrenial wisdom” not just academic or historical writing. these are core indigenous teachings on right living.

my draw to stories & indigenous wisdom vs. politics, education,music or celidhs or dances


1) Interviews about being "white and indigenous". Interview: Celtic shamanist's, celtic elders & storytellers, white folks who've found a connection to their own indigenous sense of themselves, celtic activist, white academics who are dissecting the nature of whiteness, global "non-white" indigenous workers, and other good white people.

2) Handbook for Young Celts: This book would be written for white, youth of primarily 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

- explore the deeper meanings, teachings and traditions in the language.

3) Words to Carry You Home: "what indigenous elders have to say to white books were searching for their indigenous roots" - what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

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

5) Decolonization: interviews with diverse youth working on their own personal decolonization. What does it mean to them? Top ten books they recommend? Top ten quotes that represent their views on it. what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

6) Interviews with Traditional Scottish Storytellers: George MacPherson, Paraig MacNeil

7) Documentary - An Seanachdie - Look into who's left and what's left.

8) The Future of Gaelic: interviews with Gaelic activists

9) A Celtic "Four Agreements" type - written in Gaelic - the first gaelic “self help” book! sort of the 8 Fold Path - right action etc. present traditional wisdom is a somewhat codified and practical way. based on 3 fianna things. use 7 habits as core reference. so simple!

10) Book on Being a Celtic Warrior: including physical health (what to eat, how to eat, breathing etc)

11) Craft a book of Mamas Wisdom

12) Interviews with NS Gaels - interviews but they each write a paper (1-3 pages) on what it means to be “gaidhealachd”. Pain a vision. Have them share stories that speak to this.

13) Write Gaelic Kids book - for young adults - about youth connecting with his/her roots.

14) Book of Interviews - White Youth Reclaiming Their Indigenous Roots - Loren Finkelstein, Sarah G, Jason Kierney, people from indigenous knowledge program. what are the illusions white folks live under that keep us trapped?

15) Fiction Book of an adult reconnecting with his roots by meeting an old seanachie.

16) Book of Interviews with Celtic Traditional Storytellers: what is the indigenous heart of the culture? relationship to mainstream? Gaelic? the future of the celtic peoples? the diaspora? what are the sources of our strength? what does it mean to be a warrior?

17) Interviews with BALLE Type Folks re: “What's the most radical edge/possibilities of the conscious economy?”

18) Top Ten Premises/Lies of Civilization - interview Debbie Ford, Bill Plotkin on the shadow and how it works on a collective level.

19) Interviews with New Age Leaders re: Activism and politics. is violence ever okay? racism? indigenous issues? issue they're most passionate about? institutional oppression - real or excuse?



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