Music at the festival: growth, trance, and the gods

This past Sunday, Three Cranes celebrated the feast of Lughnasa. As we have for eight years now, we did so at the Dublin Irish Festival. That in itself is a big deal: we get a very large crowd, mostly non-regulars, who attend a pagan ritual that receives equal billing with multiple Christian services (everything from an interdenominational service to a Gaelic mass to a ‘U2Charist’) at one of the largest Irish festivals in the country. Such very public reverence for the old gods is in itself a powerful instantiation of the vision of Ár nDraíocht Féin. But beyond the questions of organizational stature and presence, this year’s DIF — our ritual and the broader festival both — had me thinking a good deal about music and the ways its presence supports and shapes my spiritual growth and wellbeing.

Continue reading “Music at the festival: growth, trance, and the gods”


Imbas and change

Yesterday I was talking with a good friend, catching up on each other’s lives after a couple months only ‘seeing’ each other on social media. He asked me how I was doing, and I paused a bit to think before responding “I think… I feel like I’m changing. Not in a bad way, and not like a total upheaval, but still: a definite shift.” He nodded. “That matches what I’ve been seeing from you online.” It’s good to have that kind of validation, because it’s a very odd experience to see these processes happening; usually they’re only clear in hindsight, so it’s more than a bit disconcerting to feel like you’re observing the building blocks of your life in motion, and to feel like there’s an extent to which they’re moving beyond your direct control. Continue reading “Imbas and change”

On manhood, becoming, and the slow pace of time

As I was walking into work recently, I was listening to a replay of All Songs Considered’s podcast episode, “Rewind: The 90s Are Back, or Whatever…” And as I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check something, I caught a glimpse of myself and burst out laughing, because I really looked the part of the late 90s alt kid: long hair in a perfect midpart, sunglasses, cool and self-possessed. (Not too self-possessed to spend a good quarter-mile experimenting for the perfect ironic selfie, mind you.)

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. In 1997, I was a high school sophomore, but that’s the end of the resemblance. I had no cool. I looked young for my age, I had braces, I had short hair and didn’t really care about it, I was a band and choir and theatre nerd, and I thought the Beatles were the pinnacle of musical evolution — I’m pretty sure I remember telling a cousin that his Smashing Pumpkins CD sounded like a bunch of noise. Continue reading “On manhood, becoming, and the slow pace of time”