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A SITE OF BEAUTIFUL RESISTANCE

Gods&Radicals—A Site of Beautiful Resistance.

The Cup of Truth

“If our treaty of friendship with the spiritual powers is to be restored, we must take the responsibility of Fírinne upon ourselves.”

“The Hill of Tara” - Image by John J. Duncan

“The Hill of Tara” - Image by John J. Duncan

Once upon a time, a noble illustrious king assumed sovereignty and sway over Ireland: Cormac grandson of Conn was he. At the time of that king the world was full of every good thing. There were mast and fatness and seaproduce. There were peace and ease and happiness. There was neither murder nor robbery… (From “The Tale of the Ordeals and the Decision on Cuchulain’s Sword.”)

Living with Balance and Justice

According to ancient Irish belief, a ruler who governs with Fírinne or Truth receives the blessings of both the natural world and the Otherworld, resulting in prosperity and abundance for all. The legendary king Cormac MacArt is said to have been the perfect example of Fírinne early in his reign, and the land rewarded him with all its abundance.

That may be true of a mythic king like Cormac, although even Cormac lost the Sovereignty when his son kidnaped a woman of the Déisi people. It is manifestly not the case with our present rulers, which is why I say that “the Stone of Destiny has fallen silent” – there are no true kings in the mythic sense, and all our rulers are false and illegitimate. If our treaty of friendship with the spiritual powers is to be restored, we must take the responsibility of Fírinne upon ourselves.

Because Cormac was considered an exemplary king, Irish tradition makes him the author of a collection of wisdom-literature called The Instructions of Cormac, some of which is both wise and beautiful while other sections are misogynistic and frankly awful. The real Cormac, if he ever existed, is probably not the author of any of it, and I prefer to focus on the passages that seem to exemplify Fírinne to me. Here are some of the best passages from The Instructions of Cormac (Kuno Meyer’s translation):

I was a listener in woods

I was a gazer at stars

I was blind where secrets were concerned

I was silent in a wilderness

I was talkative among many

I was mild in the mead-hall

I was stern in battle

I was gentle towards allies

I was a physician of the sick

I was weak towards the feeble

I was strong towards the powerful

I was not close lest I should be burdensome

I was not arrogant though I was wise

I was not given to promising though I was strong

I was not venturesome though I was swift

I did not deride the old though I was young

I was not boastful though I was a good fighter

I would not speak about any one in his absence

I would not reproach, but I would praise

I would not ask, but I would give…

 

Be not too wise, be not too foolish

be not too conceited, nor too diffident

be not too haughty, nor too humble

be not too talkative, nor too silent

be not too hard, nor too feeble

If you be too wise, one will expect too much of you

If you be foolish, you will be deceived

If you be too conceited, you will be thought vexatious

If you be too humble, you will be without honor

If you be too talkative, you will not be heeded

If you be too silent, you will not be regarded

If you be too hard, you will be broken

If you be too feeble, you will be crushed.

The Cup of Truth Exercise

Cormac is said to have gone on a quest to the Land of Promise, where the god Manannán mac Lir gave him a Cup of Truth that could distinguish true statements from false statements, symbolizing his commitment to Fírinne. The purpose of the Cup of Truth exercise is to meditate on the wisdom found in Cormac’s Instructions.

Set up an altar facing the east and leave an offering in a cup or cauldron. Sit down on the floor with legs loosely crossed, as Cernunnos does on the Gundestrup Cauldron. For each of the following couplets, breathe in as you mentally focus on the first line and breathe out as you mentally focus on the second line:

I was a listener in the woods

I was a gazer at stars.

 

I was silent in a wilderness

I was talkative among many.

 

I was mild in the mead-hall

I was stern in battle.

 

I was gentle toward allies

I was a healer of the sick.

 

I was weak toward the feeble

I was strong toward the powerful.

 

Be not too wise,

be not too foolish.

 

be not too conceited,

be not too modest.

 

be not too haughty,

be not too humble.

 

be not too talkative,

be not too silent.

 

be not too hard,

be not too feeble.

 

If you are too wise,

they will expect much.

 

If you are too foolish,

you will be deceived.

 

If you are too conceited,

you will be thought vexatious.

 

If you are too humble,

you will be without honor.

 

If you are too talkative,

you will not be heeded.

 

If you are too silent,

you will not be regarded.

 

If you are too hard,

you will be broken.

 

If you are too feeble,

you will be crushed.


Christopher Scott Thompson

Photo by Tam Zech.

Photo by Tam Zech.

is an anarchist, martial arts instructor, devotee of Brighid and Macha, and a wandering exile roaming the earth.