deletedFeb 1·edited Feb 1
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
Feb 1·edited Feb 1Liked by Paul Kingsnorth

Thank you for this. I remember touring around Ireland a few years ago and coming upon a sort of shrine to St. Brigid where people left prayers and mementos for their sick and deceased loved ones. Most people left pictures or statues of the Virgin, prayer beads, photographs of the people they were praying for. Someone had left an empty vodka bottle--perhaps praying for the strength to make it their last. But the most moving artifact of all, for me, was a little plastic Power Ranger action figure. I imagined what the story behind that child's toy might be and it brought tears to my eyes. It was a sacred place, of that I had no doubt.

On an unrelated note, I am happy that you're becoming the centre of a movement, however uncomfortable that might make you. (Humility is a good thing.) Just today a fellow psychiatrist told me he felt as if there was "a dark spirit pulling us toward a dark place" and I recommended that he read your Substack. It's been an immense help to me and many others in trying to make sense of this "dark spirit." Carry on with your good work, Mr. Kingsnorth. It is more valuable than you can imagine.

Expand full comment

Wonderful, thank you.

Expand full comment

Happy St Brigid's day, Pau and alll. I enjoyed the interview with Hamish - as you stated, covered many topics; a nice refresher. On a side note after reading the quote of yours in Dawning of the Machine Rebellion - my partner is a psychologist and the number one problem most of her clients face is...they are confused as all get up. They just don't understand what's going on. They don't understand the world anymore, or people. They don't know how to do relationships, of any kind. The rules have changed, with most having forgotten what they have changed from (if they can still vaguely remember, or sadly, too young to have experienced anything different) with nothing of substance in it's place. Inverted values making everyone miserable but apparently everything is subjective so make it up yourself like we are equipped to do that. Absolute disaster. I'm so glad to be here in this sane sanctuary. Thanks for what you do.

Expand full comment
Feb 1Liked by Paul Kingsnorth

"The greatest living writer in the U.K." - a definite achievement for someone living in Ireland. Good to see the writing in this substack is having some influence.

Expand full comment

I am glad to learn the story of Saint Brigid.


I can hear that the blackbirds outside, towards evening, understand that spring is coming. They are singing again. Towards December, they are silent, and fighting to hold out and on against the days' decline. We fight together now. Now they have hope and cheer again.

Paul, I very much agree with your assessment of how neopaganism manages to besmirch the role and stories of individual, heroic, historic women, to the profit of an abstract goddess. This is a tremendous decline in our civilisation, in my opinion. Yes... an ironic decline, as you say. Probably brought about by well meaning people. It figures.

A while ago you quoted from the Yeats' poem, "The Second Coming", and the line in it that shows that already Yeats knew what he was seeing, and what we can see, if we are looking in a particular way ? "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold." Daily living and relationships with people and place become very difficult in that context. It was already difficult for Yeats (an Irish poet, as I remember). It is difficult for us, too.

What to do when "things fall apart and the center cannot hold" ? (Is the world always in this state ? I don't know. Maybe we are called upon to stick our finger in the dike all the time, but we don't see or know it.)


On the other hand, there is a beautiful poem by Hesse that Richard Strauss set to music :

"Beim Schlafengehen", "On going to sleep"

"Now that day has tired me,

my spirits long for

starry night kindly

to enfold them, like a tired child.

Hands, leave all your doing ;

brow forget all your thoughts.

Now all my senses

want to sink themselves in slumber.

And the soul unwatched

Would soar in free flight,

till in the magic circle of night

it lives deeply and a thousandfold."

Maybe that is pagan... maybe it is just human, but I know that what you call the Machine is working to destroy it, as the machine we ? have created works to destroy our souls, I think.

All my encouragement for getting ready to wrestle ? with the earth again in spring.

Expand full comment

Thank you Paul for reminding me of St Brigid’s Day, who is my name Saint and who’s day is also my birth day. I have always wondered at the convergence which my parents didn’t seem to be aware of and which I only learned of much later through my Irish in-laws. I hope there will come an opportunity to visit and spend time at her shrines and wells. I find it very plausible that the pagan and Christian merged in her,allowing the feminine aspect of Christianity to flourish in this outpost of early Christianity. We all carry our past with us to inform our present. Great writing as always. Many thanks

Expand full comment

Thank you for this story of Brigid. Although certainly not as early as the 'Brigidines,' the incredibly important yet rarely noted religious communities of the Beguines began in the latter part of the 12th century and lasted into the 20th. These widespread communities of women were remarkable for their independence, deep personal mysticism, works of charity- and determination to forge lives of faith beyond the accepted structure of convents and medieval Catholic tradition. Feminine inspiration in the company of courage. Brigid's spirit was among them.

Expand full comment

I love the fact that you're having greatness thrust upon you.

It seems you can't escape your fate.

Expand full comment
Feb 1·edited Feb 1Liked by Paul Kingsnorth

Whether or not you're comfortable with your new elevation, I feel I have to say thank you for doing what you do. To say it's been invaluable is an understatement and horribly cliched, but short of calling it life changing (oh dear, another cliche) I'm not sure how I'd word it.

Without going into unnecessary detail I've just completed my first month of daily prayer. Has it changed my life in such a short time? Have my eyes, mind, heart been opened? Beyond anything I could have possibly imagined is the answer to that.

The realisation hit me this morning. I started weeping tears of joy. I couldn't quite understand why, or even what triggered it in the prayers and readings, but I thought it best just to let it out and not over think it. God will no doubt reveal when the time is right.

I used to be inwardly sceptical, dare I even saw scornful of my children's Godfather, who is a devout Catholic, in his belief in the power of prayer and trusting God's will.

I think I owe him an apology....

To you Paul though, heartfelt thanks for this space and this wonderful community that has built around it.

"Build it and they will come..."

Expand full comment

Happy Imbolc!

I've an essay coming out today about Brigid--you beat me to it. :)

Regarding the matter of whether a human Brigid ever existed, I've not run across anyone suggesting otherwise, but I stopped reading neopagans quite a long time ago so I don't know what they're saying lately.

The better position is that St. Brigid is one of the clearest moments of an actually-existing local figure coming to stand-in for an actually-existing deity (who was also known beyond Ireland as Brigantia to the mainland Celts).

There are of course many saints who likely never existed: for instance, one of the patron saints of France, Denis. Denis is the early French word for Dionysius, and St. Denis's companion in martyrdom "just happened" to be named one of the epithets for Dionysius, St. Eleutherius. Their martyrdom supposedly occurred on the Mount of Mars at the hands of druids, then renamed "the mount of the martyrs." That place, amusing, is now Montmartre, the redlight district in Paris...

The process by which Brigid became accepted as a saint, on the other hand, appears to be that veneration of the goddess was redirected into a human figure. This is also how St. Donatus (Donar/Thunor) and St. Expedite (Hermes) progressed.

Expand full comment

Paul: "Maybe they saw something that they already recognised, ..."

Ah, yes, Christianity is party to that, I guess ... generative, distrubutive...

Quote from Richard of St Victor, (h/t William Cookson's glossary for Ezra Pound's Canto XC), from the Latin "... the human spirit is not love, but love flows from it, and it cannot therefore delight in it itself, but only in the love flowing from it."

Expand full comment

This morning a Skylark rising and singing for first time this year - daughter reports returning from the fields here in Northumberland, England

Expand full comment

Reading this lighthearted and fresh newsletter is the perfect way to greet the spring. You should write more about Irish saints...!

Expand full comment
Feb 1Liked by Paul Kingsnorth

I love this Paul, I've not heard of this tradition before now, we have some bullrushes up the road, I shall gather them and make the cross with the kids!

Expand full comment

In regards to machine resistance, I wonder if the machine itself will do battle with itself mirroring what humans do with good and evil. If the machine is programmed it will be a combination of things. Not all of it science, math, and a deep well of knowledge. There will also be human traits both good and bad like wisdom and deceit that will surely infect this artificial sentience. It is interesting to think about an anti-life machine seeking to promote life over anti-life that is the nature of the machine. Ultimately where truth resides it becomes blurred because dualism merges into one. The machine is 1s & 0s so it is the ultimate expression of dualism.

I see a cyclic process that man and his machine are within. In the cyclic there is growth and decline. This is a vital fractal to life that is non-negotiable. The machine does not posses the ability to grow organically. It needs fossil carbon/virgin resources, human economy (financialization/globalization), and accumulated skills/knowledge. This is finite and will diminish such that abandonment, dysfunction, and the irrational will bleed the machine to death. Whereas life will regenerate in its natural growth/decline cycle. The machine world will end but not before overlap of a world in conflict where dualism peaks and begins to scale again in the natural.



Expand full comment