Thursday, 6 October 2016

Tuam Spirit babies - Excavation

Last week just before people arrived for our kitchen table craft morning (Sept.30th), I sliced my hand on a tin can whilst emptying the recycling bin. Immediately after the incision, I could feel the blood drain from my face and promptly fainted onto the couch - luckily. For the rest of the day, the wound kept opening (it still hasn't fully healed) and every so often I'd get dizzy and need to sit down. I've fainted before but never at the sight of blood or over a cut, so for most of the week I've been thinking about the significance of it in relation to the news about the excavation which emerged only hours later. 

This project 'Tuam Spirit Babies' is about unearthing the truth and recognising past wrongs and the entire process for me is about trying to find the healing within it. In many ways there's been a parallel aspect in my own life and more often than not, a reflection back when the mirror of truth is held up for scrutiny. Every time some new view point surfaces for consideration I've also tried to see the relevance in my own life. How can one change?  Change the ugly things still lurking? Or at the very least, accept them. It's not easy. There are many shadowy traits hidden that we'd rather keep locked away. 
Are we prepared to allow them to be uncovered for examination??? 
It's very, very scary!

One of the things I've found horrific and have always shied away from, just because I couldn't cope within myself, is the aspect of child sex abuse and all the other terrible abuses that were inflicted on people in the institutions. It took me a long, long, time to embrace this project because I knew it was the ugliest thing I personally, have to look at and quite frankly, I didn't want to go there. For years I turned away from the news, left the room or turned off the radio because I couldn't cope with hearing about it all, but somehow the terrible thing that happened in Tuam, sat with me and resonated so much over a period of time (it just wouldn't go away) that I finally had to take notice and do something about it. I wasn't sexually abused as a child but it could well have been a thing I'm connecting to though my ancestors (whom I know little about). 
It's the very issue I find so abhorrent and difficult to understand.
How and why do people do this heinous thing? 

It's a hugely complex subject, one which has many strands of thought and reason behind it but perhaps during this process of actively seeking, can we/can I put ourselves/myself in the place of the perpetrator? 

When were we the perpetrator?

And somehow find the compassion to dare I say it...forgive? 

It's a work in progress. 

I've met many survivors.

I've met many, many people during the past few months, but I've yet to meet someone who did these things to children, but just like everyone else, they too deserve a compassionate hearing and support to help them heal.

On some energetic level last week, I cut my hand before the ground was opened up and maybe fear crept in too. The fear of opening up about myself (I don't like to reveal too much and I, like a lot of people, put on the layers of self protection). More often than not though, the very things we keep to ourselves are the very things that will actually connect us to others because it gives permission for us all to have flaws, yet amongst them, we can continue or begin to LOVE someone else despite them. I have an english accent (that represents the oppressor in some people's minds, I'm mixed race and with that comes a lot of baggage too; mixed race children were treated so badly in the institutions). I am flawed beyond belief, can you find it in your heart to LOVE me? A strange question to ask but if we can find the compassion in our hearts for each other then perhaps it could go as far as the perpetrators too. I've met a good few survivors at this stage (more on this again) there's no anger or bitterness amongst them, only perhaps sadness for the mothers and families they never knew. We can learn so much from that attitude.

As you can see, it's a case of 'healer heal thyself.'

All these buried truths are finally coming to the surface (2016 has the vibration of Truth about it) and with them come revelations which we all have to face; be it about what's hidden in Tuam (burial mound) or what we ourselves continue to bury. The only way to progress is to confront our fears and keep asking questions about why we're fearful over a particular issue and what it is we need to bring to the surface for examination. For example: If something you hear scares you, ask your higher self why? and wait for an answer. It might not come straight away but by asking, you're in a state of preparation and that in itself is huge. Keep asking the questions to find out the truth behind the fear and keep looking at what needs to come from the depths for observation. 
That's what I'm doing anyway.
Lots of love Xx#Tuamspiritbabies

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - The Dangerous Dead

Now that a preliminary excavation of the 'Home' site burial ground is underway, a few questions have arisen.

Firstly, is it standard practice that whoever's carrying out such a delicate operation is anonymous? 
Will this job be done properly?
Why just a preliminary excavation given all the anecdotal evidence which more than suggests a full examination is required? 

Some very interesting aspects have arisen from other excavations, most notably as recounted by the foremost archaeologist and anthropologist Toni Macguire who specialises in this subject and is best known for her work at Milltown cemetery in Belfast.

Extract from the Irish Examiner - To the grave 2012
“A cillin was any area of ground used for unconsecrated burials, which came under various categories,” she says. “This included executed criminals, truce breakers, suicides, mothers who died in childbirth but haven’t been churched, strangers whose religion might not be known, and, by far the largest category, unbaptised babies. There were probably regional differences; for example, in some places it was believed that if a first child died and was buried in a cillin, then the other children would be spared the same fate...”

Ms Maguire says there was trepidation about these unsettled souls. “I refer to them as the dangerous dead, particularly the adult burials,” she says. “Boundaries were considered important routes into the underworld and we often find cillinĂ­ associated with boundaries, such as running water. more.

It is no small thing to undertake this excavation. Now that the ground is open for inspection, all sorts could be revealed. The 'dangerous dead' potentially hold a lot of information. At a site in Dublin where the skeletal remains of women (almost two hundred former laundry workers) were found with plaster casts on their ankles and wrists, there are questions, largely unanswered, as to how so many of them could have acquired the casts in the first place. 

What will be revealed here and how much of it will we be allowed to know? #Tuamspiritbabies

Tuma Spirit Babies - Mums and Babies Yoga Class

So many people are involving themselves in our project now and it's wonderful to see interest brewing from all sorts of different groups. Thanks to Penny Jones Yoga for taking the time to meet for a coffee and a chat prior to her class on Friday. 
How vital to see mums and babies, people with the least amount of time available to them, yet the very people this topic's about, making time regardless. Their input is massively important on so many levels. Thank you for your contribution and thanks again to Penny for adding this session to the end of an already busy yoga class. #Tuamspiritbabies

Penny Jones Yoga
Penny Jones Yoga
Penny Jones Yoga
From Penny's website homepage

I would like to give thanks and gratitude by acknowledging my wonderful partner, family, friends, teachers, therapists, students and clients. For their most appreciated support, love, amazing wisdom and continual inspiration.
And offer a special thank you to our son Rhys and our daughter Gioia, who are a wonderful blessing to all our lifes.
This journey of healing and yoga has opened my heart to beauty, expression, creativity and self discovery. I hope to have an opportunity to share these teachings, wisdom, stories and experiences for the highest good of all those I meet.My approach through the yoga classes is for students and to connect with a yoga practice that is safe, creative, fun, holistic and healing.
The classes I can share with you are Pregnancy Yoga, Birth Preparation, Mum & baby Yoga, Little Peeps ( 20mths – 4 years with Parent/Carer) & Children’s Yoga . For Pregnancy Yoga we’re in the beautiful URBAN Wellbeing Centre, Tuam Road Retail Centre and for Mum & Baby & Little Peeps we’re in the super accessible and friendly CUMASU Centre, Doughiska or in your Creche, Pre -school or School.
I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the highest Source.
I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together. For unity and peace.
Mahatma Gandhi

Penny Jones Yoga

                                                   Penny Jones Yoga  Call 086 858 9800

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Gina Arrigan

Swan feathers connected by ribbon 

The more this project unfolds, the more synchronicities, connections and miracles happen. It's actually astounding what's now happening on a daily basis and it's taking the time in between to offer acknowledgement and gratitude that's important.
Mother and baby at Luimnagh Pier

On Thursday afternoon I went for a walk by the lakeshore (we're very lucky to live so close to Lough Corrib) and right there at the pier were a family group of swans. Just watching the two parents interact and protect their baby was a privilege and again, a reminder of what comes so naturally, yet what was denied to thousands of people. After they'd got back into the water, the hunt was on for stray feathers. No luck.
Gina Arrigan
Next morning (our kitchen table craft morning) Gina Arrigan (amongst others) arrived at our house with a tissue paper bundle bearing a tiny hand knitted vest which she thinks belonged to her father. She's planning to dip it in a porcelain slip and once fired and framed it will form part of the exhibition. 
We've shared some very sacred evenings together and it was very interesting to hear how things are shifting for her but also how her mother once lived in Tuam and as a small girl remembered passing by the 'home' to see the babies out in the yard behind the gates. She'd often weep for them.

Gina spent most of the last few years caring for her parents who've both since passed away (her dad in January and her mum in April.) In the midst of this, there were times when they both needed to be soothed and cradled with a song, such a tender and beautiful act comes from a place of deep love and must have been such relief to them during their suffering. This is something which is so deeply embroidered into Irish life. There were songs for everything, music permeates everything and to hear that Gina's discovered the healing properties of her own voice through irish song is amazing. We'll all benefit from hearing them.

Broken swan feather to represent the broken mothers and two small feathers for the children
As she unfolded the papers surrounding her father's vest, she revealed six white swan feathers. (I nearly fell through the floor.) One which is broken and has now been mounted on a 5"x5" white square, it immediately conveys the broken aspect of the mothers from the 'Home.' The two smaller ones the children. The other three have been tied together to form a fan and a length of satin ribbon that someone else brought along that morning, binds them. Again, these lovely gifts were given because people felt something from them and immediately they connect us to each other, the past and the sacred spirit of family and swan. Beautiful.#Tuamspiritbabies
Swan feathers connected with satin ribbon