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I have this interesting experience as an outdoor education teacher in British Columbia-

The best old stories are from our pre-Christian First Nations.

They have all the ligaments of true spirituality and heroes and the miraculous- the old magic.

And in moments they reveal they were waiting. The highest and best and most on the edge- I can hardly believe my eyes and ears, they we’re waiting for a fulfilment.

It came in power, then in blood, and in thievery as it came broken.

But still the great ones here in B.C. today, they remember a healing: love of enemies, monogamy, humanity extended fully equally in more than ones tribe, and so no more slavery.

Woe to us who bear Christ’s name when we hide from these highest virtues ourselves!

Wow to me, except that I have repentance and an Advocate who Comforts me the unworthy.

The only exception in the end that might separate me from my tribe of goats.

Christian. Christian I hope to become one day.

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Dear Paul,

I love your tales and photos of Ireland's religious sites and relics, but feel obliged to point out that Christians along with Muslims are being slaughtered in Gaza with our connivance by the Zionist state, in a second Nakba. You MUST take a position on this, as Ireland has notably done at the UN, by demanding an immediate ceasefire.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Paul Kingsnorth

Does he? Does anyone have to do anything, in the end? Maybe Paul has done his bit in the activist wars - and maybe his stepping into those troubled waters will solve nothing for anyone, and just provide occasion for more contention and conflict and rage. Isn’t that a big part of all our scepticism around social media?

Better to step into sanctified waters such as these... perhaps that’s the point, after all. Maybe just doing this is Paul’s bid for quiet sanity in an insane world. Maybe this *is* his new ‘activism’? Personally, I’m all for it. A piece on 17th century garden engravings as his next offering would be just my cuppa tea.

Sorry, Paul - you’re more than capable of responding for yourself. This is my response…)

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That's fair enough Jules, and my apologies for being a little overbearing - I just wanted to raise the alarm about what is happening, as Israel commits a genocide under our noses and with our approval, (though not with Ireland's - but I'm in Australia) Many people will be caught when it all blows up in our faces, not knowing who is at fault - but it could still be stopped I believe, if we ALL woke up and joined the protests.

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Oct 29, 2023·edited Nov 3, 2023

It’s a horrifying situation, and we all wish it would end. My sense is that none of us really knows the truth, and taking sides in such conflicts is a mug’s game if you’re not actually caught up in it. What the world needs now above all is less views and opinions, less shrill activism - more options for liberation, joy, and true civilisation.

Though in truth I fear now that action will be forced on us all soon in our *own* homelands: it’s on our own countries (primarily) that we now need to focus, because so much is being pulled apart and pushed over by malevolent actors. We must focus *at home* first, urgently, before taking sides on issues in far distant lands. For most of us our work is now in ourselves, in our own hearts, our own towns, cities and countries. The emergency for us now is all too local. Most big, abstract international issues will only serve to distract us from how our own foundations are falling apart.

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there's this old lady named Maria of Paris.

she took stands the first 1/3 of her life; she wrote on that from later in her life saying how she and her brilliant contrarian political friends would discuss various current political and military catastrophes all night long, mostly solving the conflicts.

then in the morning eat fried eggs.

you have to go down to go up.

down is this:

when Time magazine asked and listened to the then who's who's of the world (the fad ones at that time),

What's wrong with the world today?

GK Chesterton wrote back:

"I am.

sincerely, GK Chesterton"

I may not believe it (little faith!) but I can live it: my own repentance, right now in my nothingness of influence, is what is lacking for peace in the Middle East.

I cant change my behaviour- that's not repentance. I cant feel bad for what I dont feel bad for- that's not repentance.

But, I can re-orient my mind. I can pick it up and point it toward the Orient.

That's repentance; it's the beauty that will save the world.

This is reality.


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I loved your comment. Indeed, all that we are called to do is to repent, or as you say, to re-orient our minds, ourselves, towards Christ God, the only Good.

In doing this re-orienting we may discover that God is calling us to perform some specific duty overseas or elsewhere beyond our immediate area. IF this is His will for us, it will be good. But in any case, it isn’t a substitute for the main thing, which is to follow Christ’s way as best we can in all the little things close to home. Of course, we can’t even do these things on our own. But by gazing on the Orient, He can work through us and do what is impossible for us to do.

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Perfectly said Jules! I totally agree! I think and hope this is the ‘new activism’!

Garden engraving sounds interesting too. Maybe you should start a Substack on it? 😁

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I love the old engravings, but I’m not serious about Paul (or me) doing anything on it. It’s more the idea that the arcane, batty, harmless antiquarian pursuits of elderly gentlemen speak of innocence and serve towards quiet culture-(re)building…

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

I am an elderly( well, getting there quickly) lady who loves to read about those harmless antiquarian pursuits. There was so much in life that was fascinating and obscure. My own obsession is for antique needlework and particularly British and Norwegian knitting traditions. Much has been lost in the flood of information which drowns out these simple interests.

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I agree with you Susanne. It's amazing what an education you can get in patience, and discipline by knitting, and sticking with it. Somebody this weekend accused me of proselytizing, but I'm all for proselytizing for knitting, and other handiwork. Lacework, maybe ? All those beautiful, creative activities we were doing with our hands before the screens got in their way ?

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

Knitting lace is such an addictive activity! And the history of hand knitting is fascinating. There was a blossoming of intricate lace knitting and fashion knitting during the depression because other activities were limited and knitting was economical. The internet which makes instructions, patterns and materials readily available also eats up the large amounts of time such accomplishments take. I have to discipline myself to put the iPad down and pick up the needles.

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Jan 24·edited Feb 1

I love the idea of proselytising for knitting: a knitting evangelist… a missionary knitter… a fundamentalist knitter! :))

Are there schisms in the knitting world? Anathemas? Is anyone excommunicated from knitting circles? Does anyone pin 95 daring new knitting patterns to the local church hall front door by night?? I want to know these things!

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Oct 29, 2023·edited Oct 29, 2023Author

I feel obliged to point out, as I have pointed out here many times recently, that this Substack is not a place for people to argue about the middle east, and I am frankly tired of people hijacking my comment sections to do so. If it continues, I am going to turn off the comments until people either calm down or go elsewhere.

This is my Substack, and I write what I want. Nobody gets to tell me that I 'MUST' do anything, let alone take whatever position they happen to believe in. What efficacy, honestly, do you really imagine that a largely unknown English writer living in Ireland is going to have by 'demanding an immediate ceasefire'? What makes you think I even agree with your take on the 'Zionist state'? A state which, may I remind you, has just seen over a thousand of its civilians tortured and murdered?

Comments about holy wells are more than welcome.

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Thank you Paul

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This Substack is, in its own small way, a place of sanctuary in a world of sin and strife.

Please let's keep it that way.

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As my original comment was addressed to you, and I had no intention of 'hijacking' your comment section, I hope you will allow my response.

First, this is not about the 'Middle East', but about the heart of Christianity, the source of inspiration and devotion for saints and followers, with the old city of Jerusalem or Al Quds being the site of terrible battles during the crusades, but now again in this modern crusade. I'm not a follower of either Christian or Islamic faith, but have visited many modern and historic religious sites in Europe as well as across North Africa and West Asia, including Turkey and Iran, studying and photographing remarkable building and art - including neolithic and Roman constructions. Thus my interest in your own explorations and photography, which as you say is entirely your business.

Years ago there was a movement - PACBI - the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel - which tried to counter the Zionist use of this area to spread its toxic influence, and gain support for the 'Israel project' - that which we can see today being realised, in what Netanyahu has called Israel's second War of Independence, and involving the expulsion or slaughter of Palestinians from their historic homeland. PACBI was also a recognition of the fact that writers and artists, chefs and musicians can exercise great influence on public opinion - something demonstrated by Roger Waters as well as Justin Bieber. So I don't dismiss the possibility of your influence as a 'largely unknown English writer'.

But one should also remember Desmond Tutu's most famous quote, seen recently at Palestinian support rallies, that "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

I am, by the way, also a 'largely unknown English writer', but also largely excluded from the Western world's literary bubble for pursuing the truth of our war on the Global South, as well as pursuing the truth on the great COVID scandal - which is how I came to your 'Abbey'.

I won't make any more comments here, and I would encourage others not to express their opinions either; nothing is worse than seeing comments diverted completely from the original point of the article.

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I don't use the word 'Zionist', neither do I like it, and neither do I believe that those who use it are very interested in justice. The Tutu quote is simplistic in the extreme. The middle east is a vastly complex situation which I know very little about. I instinctively avoid ideologues on both sides. But since you're so concerned with injustice, take a look at the rampant anti-semitism currently coursing across Europe. Like I say, it's a hornet's nest, and I'm not interested in exploring it here.

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friend, may I?

if you want that stuff, go read my dad: wayne northey.

just google him, feast, and come back here sated. you can go back to Wayne for more anytime you like; he feeds daily at the dose you want I think.

I get the need to have an itch scratched! Even if you wish it didn't itch or your will power were strong enough or or or...

but friend, let my dad scratch it for you. :)

here, I come to cool my frenzied sinful self in waters that love me with a mercy far in excess of what I deserve. here i come to add my tears at the horrors you feel to make pure waters bracksh- Bridget bids me, come! you who are salty and sour! come!

peace friend.


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Nov 1, 2023Liked by Paul Kingsnorth

Only thing I’ll add as I try to feel your pain, is there’s a history to this feeling of comments being “hijacked”- it isn’t you.

It happened before in the old nick post.

See, the reason to hesitate on speaking up as Desmond advocates, is my enemy and I (ideologically) actually share the same enemy, the Liar and Murderer, who is behind the scenes.

The devil doesn’t make me do it, but does exploit my weaknesses.

It’s been that way since the first juvenile humans in the garden story.

So wisdom bids a Gandalfian approach to all power (even my good intentions and voice):

I would intend good but through me the ring of power (the Satan) would work an amplified evil.

Peace friend. I hope and pray for it too and try to do my little part with you.


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I'm intellectually enjoying your Holy Well travelogue. Thank you. Reading the Middle East interjections I wonder if people are hijacking comments for unconscious reasons that are actually related to what you are writing ? Perhaps the inspiration and connection some readers felt with you and you in return felt for them is passing away as your life and perspective change? As I said, I like your Holy Well pieces but even they feel a little devoid of a sacred or vibrant energy. These wells are holy and healing places that I would love to have a deeper feeling for but reading about them and looking at their photos honestly feels stale, sad and lifeless. As if whatever they once held has departed. So maybe it is time for me to leave your substack. I will have to sit with it.

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It might be worth asking yourself if there's something wrong with us moderns that makes it difficult for us to feel a sacred or vibrant energy, as you called it, over anything. We seem to have gotten hooked on outrage and anger and crises.

There are Substacks I can do without, this is not one of them, and so, I hope, Paul keeps doing what he's doing. I am here for what I can't find in every other corner of the internet, cable TV, youtube, etc, etc.

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Thank you Mary, for your balancing reply! I'm relieved that its my issue and not anyone else's. Truly, I was just surprised because I thought I was easily inspired:)

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In 1 Samuel, chapter 3, in the King James Bible, it is stated "And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days ; there was no open vision."

You might want to read the beginning chapters of 1 Samuel to get a feel for the period of time when the Jewish people demand a king, after living in a theocracy... this, maybe could be in relation to the political unrest we are experiencing right now. I am personally favorable to reading, and trying to understand the relation between the past and the present, since I firmly believe that there is one.

This post is addressed to KG particularly, and not you, Mary, but I typed it in the wrong spot...and you might find it interesting, too.

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Most of your commenters seem nice and smart and fun, and I hope that you won't have to close the section because of rude disturbances such as these, although I'll understand if it comes to that.

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I have a ban capability as a weapon of firest resort ;-)

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I hope you continue with this series on Holy Wells, Paul, as I hope you and others here are spared what I personally call political bull. It's easy to shout out about injustice from a safe distance from a problem. I think any person with an ethical sense will be praying for the innocent and for the suffering whethter they be Palestinian or Israeli, those who are in the midst of the maelstorm. Personally, I feel you are doing your bit by writing and reflectingon these holy wells.

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Oct 29, 2023·edited Oct 29, 2023

I really like the idea that the entire pagan realm can be taken up into Christianity; that the old gods and faeries and other beings of that sort are not demonic or evil, but rather open to alignment with Jesus Christ. Yeats says in his collection of Irish folklore that according to the locals, the faeries are among the third of the angels who remained neutral in the war in Heaven. Point being, I think it's great for a Christian well to have once been pagan—not a problem in the least.

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Lots of Christian saints were pagans previously.

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I've never had a problem with it, either. "There are more things in Heaven and Earth..." etc. etc.

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Yes! I agree. There is a wonderful interview with Jonathan Pageau and an Orthodox man(Utube) on Lithuania which was the last European place to convert from Paganism to Christianity..very much in keeping with this topic.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

Thank you—I'll try to find it and take a look. I've just been getting into Pageau's podcasts, and I'm enjoying them very much.

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Did you read CS Lewis's space trilogy?

Merlin saves the day in the end!

resurrected by the enemy- b/c he was pagan- to fight the christians explicitly, he reveals his inner truth: not that he's a tacit christian, but that what he is balls to bones as a wizard is aligned with christianity not with scientific technocracy.

pretty cool for Lewis to go all that far.

Then there's the Shamans of 'Alaska' who aligned with the russian monks who came to them. (not all of course- that's the point- goats and sheep within and without, wolves in christian robes and saints in shamanic regalia).

i think you're a great guy Sethu.



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That's wonderful: I've been meaning to get to those books, and now you've given me another reason to do so. And thanks for the kind words, Mark.

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The Old Timers knew we cant solve our problems on our own. We must appeal to our God and his angels for intervention. All the talk about the problems in the world in the media and no one ever mentions God. Ninevah was spared because they repented, but no one is repenting today, we just keep getting further and further deranged and hateful. Jesus said it was to our benefit that he leaves us so that the Holy Spirit can come and tell us what we need to know. Need to take heed to that and repent and ask for guidance at the well or wherever we can find Him.

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I think you’d enjoy Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address.

That man had courage!

If we can slow down enough to listen to a Gulag survivor’s friendly strident critique of the West/America, then we too have a share in courage, in patience, and (since he gave this in 1978 and fell asleep),

We can even redeem the times on this day, remembering our dead.

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I don't have to "take a position" on the horrors in Gaze. I must remain connected to The-Universe (God) and help the ones in need nearby. News articles describing the horror serve to pull me away. Writings from The Abbey of Misrule reconnect me and perhaps will help me find my own Holly Wells.

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Beautiful. This comes to mind, from Rabbi Abraham Herschel, for all people:

“The Search for reason ends at the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide... We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.”

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I absolutely loved this particular. Well, I don't know if it was because I've always had a fascination about St. Bridget or not, but when I saw all the offerings when I saw the grotto, the little waterfall that brings such beautiful soothing water to the area, the whole layout of it. I absolutely loved it ‼️

Thank you, Paul

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I love this series on holy wells. They remind me of what we have lost in the modern world, a sense of connection to Mother Earth. A wonderful series.

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I subscribed for the wells. It’s nice to read about them after Liturgy; thanks.

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Paul, I wonder, have you been to Sliabh Liag, up in Donegal? They are Europe's highest sea cliffs and quite spectacular and, blessedly, not touristy at all. You must get there if you've never been. Lots of holy wells on the way, too!

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You touch on something increasingly significant- what IS lost when small rituals such as this are gone from the background- whether it is millions of grandmothers in black at the back of churches with their rosaries or thousands of monks and nuns with their prayer ropes, millions of schoolchildren saying prayers before each class, parents kneeling to say prayers with their children at bedtime, grace before meals, even the desperate supplication at the end of a life lived in defiance of a God that one secretly knew existed. Was there really some unspeakable darkness being held at bay by these things that gradually lessened to the point where the younger generations can no longer recall them even in memory? We may be going to find out, and soon. Those of us who can need to get better at these things. Thanks for these eloquent reminders.

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In our church we see it as a worldwide cooling of love.

Often I despair if this,

But remember too God’s providence that this is the day I was given for my own salvation- with you too sister. Together.

It was preordained as perfect for us.

The desert fathers said we cross the ocean too- little faith I have in myself but they said we who run till the end in this cold age are greater than the best before us-

We cross the ocean not in one flight with wings of fire, but we crossed too, with clay wings falling into the soup then up, into the soup then up… and so on until we reach the same beginning as our fire-mothers and fathers in the faith.

So pray for me sister.

I pray now for you.

Mark Basil

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I am enjoying this series. Short and sweet, not too heavy. A nice respite from the crazy I generally end up reading on the internet.

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You’re stronger than I.

I can only read this, and the gifts from friends, in pixels soaked in blood.

Blood and water together.

My saviours last gift from the cross.

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Wonderful "All that is tangled will be unraveled." and the prayer is lovely too!

May Jesus salute you, O Holy Brigid!

May Mary salute you and may I salute you myself!

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Even through the internet, this well feels a bit different from the others. Vaguely, like a portal to another world.

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I visited the Cliffs of Moher 21 years ago and I don't recall it being the tourist trap described above back then. That's shame they've marred it so badly. It truly is a beautiful spot. Such fond memories of Ireland and how I wish to return.

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I love the stones with our names on them.

so many stones! each of us has our name there by odds.

i'm touched, unworthy, and touched.

thank you friend for holding more than I can with all of this. I will calm and quiet down God grant.

forgive me;


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Oct 31, 2023·edited Oct 31, 2023

I read through all the comments. Thank you, Paul, for your words on staying on the topic of the post. My comment - saints, holy wells, pagan realms/gods transmuted into the Christian realm, pagan places being Christianized - and as an aside speaking of pagan places getting Christianized - Lithuania, last pagan state, during the Middle Ages was subjected to repeated crusades under direction of the church using orders of warrior monks/knights. Finally the ruling Lithuanian elite to make peace “converted” and over the years the population was Christianized. I find in all this discussion and in other posts little grappling with the spirituality of Jesus which pictured in the Gospels was, with an assist from the Holy Spirit, God the Father centered. I think Christ came so we too may have the same relationship he had with the Father in the here and now as gift. He said to Mary Magdalene after the resurrection “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.

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… and, He said, if we only knew what he was sending us we would applaud his ascension!

The spirit of truth- Comforter, advocate ( for we all fall down and are rightly accused), but advocated for even in our wrongfulness.

Which is to say:

Holy Trinity,

The ongoing action of self emptying love,

Father,Son,Holy Spirit.

Unconfused, completely one in love, undivided.

We leave no one out!

Blessings brother,


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