At the Sun’s Zenith


Elemental Immersion

the earth of my body
at rest upon the Earth
the fire of the Sun
alights upon my body
radiant flesh
pulsating star-stuff
basking in the radiance
of a younger star
breath of the forest
cool breeze wafting
from the shade
of sheltering leaves
laden with mist
and the soft kisses
of dew drops

in the unrelenting percussion
of plunging waters
cascades through being
purging anything
that resists
and all that remains
is the pristine void
dwelling within the tender shell
of glistening skin


A Taoist story tells of an old sage who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive. “I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived.”


Accommodating myself to the Sun…


Left Eye Moon ~ Right Eye Sun

Happy Solstice, Everyone!

Driving to my usual spot to observe the Sunrise on the Summer Solstice, this post from 2 years ago was called to mind. Once again the full Moon was setting in the west as the Sun was rising in the east. But it was all the more auspicious having the full Moon coincide with the Solstice itself.

As I stood this morning with the rising Sun to one hand and the setting Moon to the other, a small nuance was added to my experience from two years ago.  This time, with my arms and hands outstreatched to east and west, I quite unconsiously found my hands forming the gyan mudra – the tip of the thumb touching the tip of the index finger. Thus forming small circlets that felt the exact size of the two orbs.  So holding this mudra, while visualizing the Sun and Moon inhabiting the circlets of my two hands is a new meditation that I have gained through my observance this morning.  If anyone feels so moved, I encourage them to play with this mudra and imagery…

I’m off to do a medicine walk to further immerse myself in this longest day of the year. Hope everyone is able to take a moment out of their day to honor this holy day of the Earth and drink in the energies of the Sun at its zenith. And to my friends in the southern hemisphere – Happy Winter Solstice!

Ethereal Nature


For the third month in a row, as part of my Sunrise Sadhana, I made a brief sojourn to an undisclosed hilltop location this morning to watch the full moon set in the west as the sun rose in the east. I did not at all expect that this morning’s observance would revivify my past experiences with the Egyptian God Horus…

The sun and moon are frequently in the sky together, but it is only for a moment each month that the full moon (from our earthly perspective)  is in the sky with the sun.  For only a moment each month our two orbs balance each other, poised in opposite directions, one rising in the east as the other sets in the west.

Yesterday evening I was sharing this at a small gathering and as I described this celestial event I was going to observe in the morning, I unconsciously…

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Oh, Sweet Canada

This is a White-throated Sparrow. It is a spring migrant here in Minnesota, and then spends its summers in its nesting grounds in Canada.

As it passes through, we are blessed to hear the males court the females with their distinctive voice, a syncopated series of clear, high-pitched notes that is rendered as: “Oh, Sweet, Canada, Canada, Canada”.    You can listen to its beautiful song on this site, from which I’ve also borrowed the picture:

Early this morning, when I stepped outside, I was greeted by its call.

But things are not so sweet in Canada at this moment….

[picture from:

The Canadian Wilderness has always held a magnetic pull for me.  The boreal forest of pines and spruces and firs and birch and aspens, punctuated with thousands of lakes and streams, with its granite bedrock still laid bare from the scraping of the glaciers 10,000 years ago, it is a remarkably primeval landscape.  It is a wilderness in which one feels truly close to the raw elements of creation and to the Creator itself.  Its siren call has lured me north time and time again, at least in spirit if not always in body.

As a wilderness guide in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Ontario during my college years, I led many groups of boys and young men on canoe expeditions through that enchanted land. And then for a period of 10 years in my later adulthood I introduced groups of spiritual seekers into that enchantment.

Nature touches us all, and there countless sacred niches and sublime landscapes throughout this majestic planet of ours, but few have touched me as deeply as this primitive land; and I believe that every one I ever led there was, to varying degrees, transformed by their experience. To paddle a canoe through this rugged environment, from lake to lake, never seeing a building or hearing a motor for days on end,  soaking in the bliss of fair weather and enduring the challenges and discomforts of foul, it was always a journey of the body and the spirit.

The adventure camp where I worked summers during my college years was reachable only by water; one had to drive to the very end of the Gunflint Trail, and then make the rest of the journey by boat or canoe. Even when not out on trail, we were always immersed in the elements – the cabins and dining lodge had pine wood walls only the first four feet up from the ground, the remaining four feet being simply screened in. We slept in pine-scented breezes every night. There was no electricity.  Even in basecamp we were camping.  The official song of the camp captured the spirit of that wilderness so richly, in both tone and lyrics. Sung under the stars by the light of a crackling fire, it was an entrancing drone of solemn male voices, who, out of reverence and sentimentality, did their best to carry the tune. Here are the words:


The Life of the Voyageur

The life of the Voyageur
that of a sojourner
travels around and round
but not from town to town

Paddles the lakes and streams
follows his distant dreams
peace on the waterways
blue sky and cloudy days

My heart has but one home
from which I’ll never roam
land of true happiness
Canadian wilderness

The call of the lonely loon
wolves are howling at the moon
wind rustles through the trees
that’s a Canadian breeze

Smoke rising from the fire
up through the trees in a stately spire
all is calm in the evening glow
sun goes the down the north wind blows

My heart has but one home
from which I’ll never roam
land of true happiness
Canadian wilderness

You can listen to a young man sing the song here:

Given my deep connection to this land and its spirit, I have been deeply distressed by the intense wild-fire that is burning near Fort McMurray, Alberta. I have been intently following the news since Wednesday.

Here in Minneapolis, about 2:00 am Saturday morning, I was awakened to heavy smoke in the air and had to close my all of my windows. At 6:00 am there was white haze in the sky, covering the city. The air quality was considered “Very Unhealthy”, given all the suspended particulate matter.  We were warned to not engage in strenuous outdoor activity.  It turned out that the smoke was from the Fort McMurray fire, 1,500 miles away. Southerly winds soon cleared the air, but at its worst, the acrid air could bring tears to one’s eyes.

I later learned that the smoke had reached all the way to Florida. Truly, what happens in distant parts of the planet can affect us all, and the forces of nature know no boundaries.  As of yesterday, the fire was nearing a half million acres in size and is considered uncontrollable; it is speculated that it may burn for months.

Today, Sunday morning, when I stepped outside,  and heard “Oh, Sweet, Canada, Canada, Canada” resounding through the clear air, it brought so many emotions home. And, once again, Canada brought tears to my eyes.

Our northern brotherland has had a warm, dry winter and spring.  Millions upon millions of acres of forests are stressed and highly vulnerable to fire.  And the fire season is just beginning.

Add to this, after an extraordinary winter of unheard of warmth, the arctic ice cap is in the poorest spring condition it has been in for hundreds of years.   The ice, already greatly diminished in thickness and volume over the last 20 years, is the thinnest and weakest and the smallest extent ever recorded for this time of year. And it is melting rapidly.  The weather of the next four months will determine how much of it melts.  Some scientists fear the worst.

Should the arctic become ice-free, or nearly so, during the summer melt season, it has the potential to disrupt climatic and weather systems around the world.  The impacts upon daily life and food production could be catastrophic.  Again, some scientists are concerned that we could experience this within a few short years.   The conditions this year do not bode well.

The addition of the CO2 and soot entering the atmosphere from the forest fires is considered a “positive feed-back loop” of global warming.  The increase in forest fires that results from global warming in turn contributes to increased warming. It adds vast amounts of CO2, and the dark soot, landing upon sea and glacial ice, accelerates its melting.

Perhaps I will get in to more of the science in a subsequent post. But, for the moment, I ask that, as we are moved, we all take stray moments out our days, to send prayers of healing and to hold a vision of the Canadian wilderness in all of its sweet splendor.


For those interested in more of the hard facts and a scientific account of the fire and arctic conditions, please check out the exceptional and highly respected blog by Robert Scribbler:

Drops of Jupiter = Diamonds


I could not resist this opportunity to write about one of my all-time favorite songs, when science has so graciously given substance to one of its central metaphors.

This brings to mind a quote by Sigmund Freud, reflecting upon his exploration of the human psyche: “Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”

In this case, that poet, and dreamer,  was Pat Monahan of the rock band “Train”.

As it turn out, “Drops of Jupiter” can in fact be diamonds….

Lightning storms make it rain diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter

….in the dense atmospheres of planets like Jupiter and Saturn, whose massive size generates enormous amounts of gravity, crazy amounts of pressure and heat can squeeze carbon in mid-air — and make it rain diamonds.

The diamonds start out as methane gas. Powerful lightning storms on the two huge gas giants then zap it into carbon soot.

“As the soot falls, the pressure on it increases,” Baines told the BBC. “And after about 1,000 miles it turns to graphite – the sheet-like form of carbon you find in pencils.”

And the graphite keeps falling. When it reaches the deep atmosphere of Saturn, for example — around 3,700 miles down — the immense pressure squeezes the carbon into diamonds, which float in seas of liquid methane and hydrogen.


But about the lyrics of the song…

“Drops Of Jupiter”

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s a time to change, hey, hey, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star–
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey, hey (mmm)
She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo
Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey, hey, hey (yeah)

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
I’m afraid that she might think of me as plain ol’ Jane
Told a story about a man who was too afraid to fly so he never did land

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken?
Your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you’re wrong
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance, five-hour phone conversation?
The best soy latte that you ever had and me

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?

And tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star,
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself?

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na

And did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day?
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na
And did you fall for a shooting star, fall for a shooting star?
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na
And now you’re lonely looking for yourself out there.

I fell in love with this song the first time I that I heard it. And immediately formed my own interpretation of its words. Which, it turns out, is dead wrong.  But, nonetheless, I will share my explication…

The song is about a someone whose significant other has returned from an extensive spiritual retreat and who has been transformed by their experience.   And that someone is simultaneously 1) in awe of what their lover has experienced,  2) afraid that their lover has transcended them and will no longer find them sufficiently interesting, and 3) wanting to remind their lover that life on earth is in part made up of simple, earthly pleasures.

So much of the transcendent, inspiring imagery found in the lyrics is so reminiscent of shamanic (trance) journeys that I have experienced myself, or heard reported to me from those whose journeys I have facilitated.   I have danced upon the Moon, been dissolved and transformed by the heat of the Sun, traveled to distant planets, explored the wonders of the Eagle Nebula, and experienced the birth pangs of the Big Bang itself.

[Picture of the Eagle Nebula taken by the telescope on Kitt Peak]

But back to the song…about these lines in particular…

And tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star,
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself?

That someone wonders, did their lover find a purer partner, one who does not carry persistent wounds from their childhood that continue to affect and limit them?    And that someone questions their lover – as blissful as the spiritual search might be, is it not lonely in the disembodied ethers? Do you not miss the human connection that is so much a part of the human condition?

It is a song of tension, between the empathetic awe for what their lover has experienced, the recognition of  their transformation, the fear of no longer being enough, and the realization that part of the spiritual experience is inhabiting a human body.


You can listen to the song itself here:


And you can learn the real origin and meaning of the song here:



top image from:

Equinox Sunrise















[remember to click upon the images to beautify your world]

For perhaps  18 years now, I have been conducting sunrise vigils on the Holy Days of the Earth, the Solstices and Equinoxes. For about 13 of those years I have been coming to this particular hilltop from which the pictures above were taken. As you can see, this vantage point offers a most spectacular view across the Minnesota landscape of prairie, woods, and lakes. The land itself is not quite public, which is to say that my pilgrimages here would be considered by some (most) people to be trespassing.

The land to the west of the hill is a residential area comprised of rather lovely homes on winding lanes. Years ago, on my second trip here, I had forgotten to look at a map before hand, and so I managed to get lost in the maze of streets as I looked for the lane where the trail began up the hill.

As I wandered about in my car, a dutiful police officer took note of my rather suspicious activity in the pre-dawn darkness and pulled me over. As he shown his flashlight upon my outdoorsy albeit rather scruffy appearance, he politely inquired if I lived in the neighborhood, and if not, what was that I was up to, driving so slowly up and down the streets at this hour of the morning. I explained matter-of-factly that it was the summer solstice and I was wanting to observe the sunrise from the top of the hill, but I couldn’t locate the cul-de-sac where a trail began.

With a rather blank expression upon his face, he studied me for a moment, scanned the interior of my vehicle with his flashlight, taking note of the mountain bike stashed unceremoniously in the back. Looked at me again, and said, “I think I know the one you mean. Follow me.” It turns out he did know the one, and within 3 minutes I was at the exact parking spot I had been looking for. So, with the aid the police officer I was able to carry out the trespassing that I had been plotting.

Since then, I have been up the hill many, many times, and know exactly how to get to the parking spot. And while I no longer require a police escort to get to my ritual site, each time I park outside one of the fine homes and wander up the trail, I wonder if another inquisitive officer might not be waiting for me when I come back down.



Equinox Ritual

drummers, all in a circle
each one equidistant
upon this equinox
from the sacred center
each beating to the march
of their inner drum
a communion of resonance
percussion penetrating
all fibers of being

drumming to release
the constricting grip winter
drumming to invoke
the resurgent flow of spring
drumming to awaken
our indigenous souls

under a night sky
of wafer-thin clouds
backlit by a waxing moon
the humble shaman
washes us in the smoke
of sacred herbs
that rises to kiss the heavens
where snow white wings
appear upon white clouds
tundra swans
in delta formation
the structure of change
we are awash in the ecstasy
of their musical call

honking to release
the constricting grip winter
honking to invoke
the resurgent flow of spring
honking to awaken
our indigenous souls

snow melts
as we pass through the veil
to place our yearning prayers
secure within that unfathomable well
that is far beyond wishing
and tulips blossom
in the palms of our hands




The Delta Symbol: The upper-case letter Δ can be used to represent:
*The Change in any changeable quantity, in mathematics and science.
*Delta is the initial letter of the Greek word διαφορά diaphorá, “difference”.

The Circle:
*A round plane figure whose boundary consists of points equidistant from a fixed point (the center).

Erin Go Bragh!



My grandfather was 100% Irish; his name was Leo.  Behind his back they called him Leo the Lion. It was not a compliment.   And I actually had an “Uncle Patty”.

But, alas, only one-fourth of my earthly being is Irish.   Would that it were more…


Some quotes about being Irish…

‘The heart of an Irishman is nothing but his imagination.’

‘I am Irish by race…
but the English have condemned me to talk the language of Shakespeare.’

‘Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.’

‘This [The Irish] is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.’

“Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.”

‘We have a tradition of passing our history orally and singing a lot of it and writing songs about it and there’s kind of a calling in Irish voices when they’re singing in their Irish accent.’

“Being Irish, I always had this love of words.”

“It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked looking-glass of a servant.”

“The tune was sad, as the best of Ireland was, melancholy and lovely as a lover’s tears.”

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time — a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”



Some notes about my family name

The Irish name “Fahey” has a long Gaelic heritage to its credit.  
Numerous spelling variations of the surname “Fahey” are preserved in the old documents. The various spelling of the name that were found include Fahey, Fahie, Fahy, Fay, O’Fahey, O’Fay, Vahey, and many more.

The original Gaelic form of the name Fahey is O Fathaigh, derived from the word “fothadh”, meaning “foundation”, a cognate of “fothaigh” meaning to “support or sustain”.

First found in Galway, part of the province Connacht, located on the west coast of the island, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

The name is numerous in the area of Tipperary in the 17th – 19th centuries. The 1890 birth index finds the family in counties Galway, Tipperary and Mayo, with Fahy as the preferred spelling,

A sept of the Uí Maine,  (Uí Maine, often Anglicised as Hy Many, was one of the oldest and largest kingdoms located in Connacht, Ireland)  the centre of their patrimony, which they held as proprietors up to the time of the Cromwellian upheaval in the mid-seventeenth century and where most of them still dwell, is Loughrea in the south of the county: their territory was known as Pobal Mhuintir Uí Fhathaigh, i.e. the country inhabited by the Fahys. There is a place the modern name of which is Fahysvillage.

The O Fahy castle was known as Dunally and was located in the parish of Kilthomas. Nothing remains of it today – however the townland in which it was located is still known as Doonally.


O’Fahy or O’Fay (A Sept of the race of O’Conor, King of Connaught) Arms: Azure field,  a hand couped at the wrist fessways in chief proper holding a sword paleways, Argent pommel and hilt point downwards pierced through a boar’s head erased of the last.

My ancestors immigrated to America from County Mayo.