Sireadh Thall (Seek Beyond)

“We are indeed creatures of the earth and creators of possibilities. Working with clay is a way to get our hands dirty and our minds clear.

To reclaim an elemental sense of connection with the earth itself.”

The Soulwork of Clay: A Hands-On Approach to Spirituality by Marjory Zoet Bankson

As well as having the wonderful opportunity of teaching my own workshops as part of the ‘With our Hands’ series with Our Voice here in Asheville, I also got to attend the pottery workshop, and within one session I was hooked!

With a vague image of a horned god, like Cernunnos, floating at the edges of my imagination I thought I would try and translate him into clay. Once the main mask was completed and eyes cut out I rolled out some wet clay for the antlers. They turned out more like tufts of grass. Next week after our piece was fired in the Kiln, an antler (or tuft) was taken in sacrifice by the kiln gods. One interesting element of craft is working with what turns out and letting go of pre-conceived ideas or else where is the space that new ideas hatch into?

Spiritually I’ve been very inspired by the Ceile De especially working with Fiontullach, head of the order. It is through her that I was introduced to The Fonn – sacred chants yet the word also describes one’s state of mind, and the land itself. Many of these chants are ancient, born in pre-Christian times, some are in Modern Gaelic, either the Scots or the Irish variants with some in Old Irish. There is a haunting quality about singing these chants, and to think Celtic ancestors may well have sung them to. I experienced a deep sense of familiarity in the chants, not the words (as I don’t speak Gaelic) but of the feelings they evoke.

The Fuinn (plural) work on many different levels, harmonizing the three parts of us that relate to each of the word’s three meanings – the Spiritual, the Psychic/Otherworldly, and the Physical. They are a powerful spiritual tool that can help one sink into a deep meditative state and in my own experience they have helped root me, stilling the questioning mind and letting me see things as they really are.

I have titled my Ceramic mask Sireadh Thall, from a Fonn sung in Old Irish which for me reminds me that when we get lost in this world, this reality with it’s pain and distractions we are reminded by nature that we are part of something greater, something ancient and powerful which exists in each of us.

* The above information was taken from the Ceile De website

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