Friday, 29 September 2017

Swan Power Animal Symbol Of Inner Grace Balance Commitment

And so we continue on the theme of SWAN:
Silver Swan at the V&A
Swan’s Wisdom includes awakening the power of self, balance, grace, inner beauty, innocence, self-esteem, understanding dream symbols, seeing into the future, understanding spiritual, evolution, developing intuitive abilities, divination, grace in dealing with others and commitment.
Swan represents grace and beauty on many levels. It is associated with love, poetry and music. The swan was sacred to Venus, the love goddess in Roman mythology. The swan was often pictured singing to a lyre in Greek tradition. In Celtic tradition the Swan represents the Soul, our eternal essence.
The Swan is one of the most ancient and powerful power animals. The Irish bards were both poets and musicians, and wore cloaks made with swan feathers. Also in the Irish tale about the Children of Lir, who were turned into swans and sang so sweetly that all who heard them were put at ease and slept peacefully. These 2 examples along with other Celtic legends of the humans shape shifting into swans highlights the deepest meaning of Swan medicine.
The Ugly Duckling is a widely known children story, about an apparently ugly little duckling, who doesn’t look like the others and is rejected and labelled a misfit, different. In the end all are surprised when he grows into being the most elegant of birds, the swan. This highlights the deceptive nature of first appearances and also reminds us that true beauty grows from within. The Swan teaches us that we all have inner grace and beauty, and this teaches us self-esteem. As we begin to realise our own true beauty, we reveal the ability to bridge new realms and new powers.
Swan will show one how to firmly rely on the beauty of ones being as it works in the physical and spiritual planes. One will be impelled to happy and grateful of and for the physical body and our intuitive mind.
Grace doesn’t mean only the ability to live a balanced life, it is also being able to be at home in many planes of reality, to see that we are more than we appear to be – we are both physical and spiritual beings. We are souls having a human experience.
Not only does the swan reveal to you your own inner beauty, but also that of others. A Swans graceful entering into your life signals a time of altered states of awareness and the development of intuitive abilities, for those with this medicine have the inherent ability to see the future, and to accept the healing and change that is starting in their lives. Accept this and it will help you go with the flow. Listen to your inner knowledge and intuitions and Swan will work through you. The Swan’s voice teaches the mysteries of song and poetry, for these touch our inner child and also our inner beauty.
Swan gracefully glide through the water leaving hardly a ripple behind. Their natural, effortless beauty reminds us to move gently through the currents of life and not fight against them. Swans do not dive into the water like other birds when feeding. Rather, they skim the water dipping their long necks and heads in and out. Water is linked with the feminine intuition and emotion. By following swans example we learn how to view our emotions without getting trapped by them. Our intuition helps us comprehend our feelings and the swan helps us process them.
Swans mate for life. When choosing a mate mutual bill dipping or head-to-head posturing are involved. They are dedicated partners. Us humans often make commitments we can’t keep. By following swans lead we will begin to respect what we have chosen and to follow things through. Honouring our commitments increase personal integrity.
Swans are VERY fast fliers, they fly in V formations at great heights during migration. Their wings beat slowly but steadily, lending them the endurance required reach their destination without tiring. If this is your power animal you have the same ability and should apply the swans movements when pursuing something. The large wings of the swan in the sky gather and store knowledge from Great Spirit. Their white plumage reminds us of the dazzling beauty and innocence found in the purity of Great Spirit, and their long graceful necks act as a bridge between the ordinary and the extra-ordinary. This bridge holds the wisdom for spiritual realisation.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Swan Medicine

Swan medicine. The swan is making it's presence known again.

Swan medicine.

Lilian van Eyken Homeopathy
42 mins
 SWAN remedy Cygnus Cygnus
The Swan remedy is another Bird Remedy in Homeopathy which is not that well known . However I use it quite a bit in my practice.
First of all it is a remedy use for deep seated grief.
Feeling of being abandoned , isolation and grief .
There is a feeling of having been betrayed, and the pain is felt in the chest, Lung-energy in Chinese medicine !
They feel like the chest is full of tears, or like they have a hole in their chest, emptiness.
It is a remedy also very good for transition and transformation in life, puberty, menopause, birth , death.
It is a remedy for cleansing, and clearing out negative energies in life.
I have often seen people totally transform the way they look after having been given this remedy.
It helps you to connect with the pain, but also to transform into gratefulness of daily life.
It helps to connect with joy, accept limitations, and trust more.
Often these patients will sob and sigh often.....
A beautiful and deep transformational remedy.
As always, feel free to contact me , for a consultation in person or via Skype. Lilian. (
At the V&A last week

Comprehensive report

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — The most comprehensive report ever published on the systemic reasons behind child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has recently been released.
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The August 2017 report, Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Reports, examined 26 commissions of inquiry, scientific research and literature since 1985 to find common features in the culture, history and structures of the church and the psychological, social and theological factors that contributed to the tragedy.
The report, five years in the making, comes from a research team at the Centre for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University headed by Desmond Cahill and Peter Wilkinson.
The research team's conclusions in this highly readable 379-page document confirm the view of the psychologist Philip Zimbardo that if you find many bad apples in a barrel, there has to be something wrong with the barrel. The pattern of abuse and cover up was the same all over the world. 
Cahill is a psychologist and professor emeritus of RMIT University, and Wilkinson holds a licentiate and doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Both are former Catholic priests, Cahill of the Melbourne Archdiocese and Wilkinson formerly with the Missionary Society of St. Columban.
The authors were also consultants to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2015, and that commission's findings to date are peppered throughout the report.
While the terms of reference of the Australian Royal Commission confined its inquiry to Australia, the authors look at a much broader context of an international church that is operating throughout the world, and indeed growing in some places, particularly Africa.
The incidence of abuse in Australia has dropped significantly over the last 30 years, but then many of the systemic features that provided opportunities for abuse have declined or disappeared: the fall in the number of priests and religious; Catholic schools now staffed almost exclusively by lay people; the collapse of the altar boy system; and the church's withdrawal from boarding schools and orphanages. That is not the case overseas. The church still runs 9,492 orphanages throughout the world, most of them in underdeveloped countries.
Tracing history
The report provides a detailed history of how the church from its earliest times regarded child sexual abuse as a sin, punishable in the next life, but by the Fourth century it was also seen as a crime punishable by imprisonment, as a minimum. That tradition was turned on its head when the 1917 Code of Canon Law abrogated seven papal and church council decrees that required clerics who abused children to be handed over to the civil authorities. Five years later, in 1922, Pope Pius XI (1922-39) issued his instruction, Crimen Sollicitationis requiring all information about child sexual abuse to be subject to the strictest secrecy. 
There were a number of reasons for this radical change: The church had decided that it was a "perfect society" that did not need any assistance from the state; priests were ontologically changed and should not be treated like common criminals; clergy might not receive fair trials because of anti-clericalism; the invention of radio whereby scandal could spread at the speed of light.
The authors also point to another factor: since the early Middle Ages, the church has had a problem with priests soliciting sex in the confessional. Papal and council decrees in 1227, 1622 and 1741 condemned the practice. The Inquisition dealt with many cases of solicitation, most of them with women, sometimes men, but rarely young children because confession was only available to Catholics after the age of 12-14. Pius X (1903-14) lowered the age to 7, thus providing pedophiles with new opportunities.
Pius XI adopted a two-pronged approach to ward off potential scandals. He issued new regulations for screening candidates for the priesthood, and if a "bad apple" did slip through, he imposed the church's highest form of secrecy over all information about his abuse. That policy was confirmed and expanded by every pope since. It is still imposed by Art. 30 of Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela of John Paul II, as revised by Benedict XVI in 2010.
Despite canon law's requirements prior to 1917, the founder of the Piarist Order, St. Joseph Calasanz (1557–1648), ironically still the patron saint of Catholic schools, covered up the serial abuse of several of his senior priests for the usual reason that he did not wish to tarnish his order's reputation. Some recent founders of religious orders, such as Marcial Maciel in Mexico and John Sweeney in Australia, were themselves abusers. 

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Clip of chapter summary page of the August 2017 "Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Reports"
Australia's first bishop, Sydney's Archbishop John Bede Polding (1794-1877), had a problem with several priest abusers under his charge. The claim by the Australian hierarchy that they did not know about such abuse until the late 1980s, and that they have been on a "learning curve" since then, is conclusively refuted.
Synthesizing what has come before
The report sets out the conclusions of all the most important inquiries both by the church and independent bodies in Ireland, the United States, Australia and Europe, including some that are not so well known, such as the Deetman Commission in the Netherlands.
It details the history of priestly formation, particularly from the time of the Council of Trent, where the policy was to take young boys away from their families and put them into minor seminaries. This turned out to be a disaster, giving rise to a much greater likelihood of sexually and psychologically immature priests becoming fixated on children.
The prevalence of sexual abuse within Australian Catholic institutions is compared with other countries. The Australian Royal Commission has come up with figures of 7 percent for diocesan priests being abusers as against the 4.3 percent in the United States as revealed by the John Jay report. The authors of the new interpretive review have some misgivings about the accuracy of the John Jay figures, given that they were derived from responses from the American bishops rather than from the production of documents on which the Dutch, Irish and Australian inquiries relied. There were differences in patterns of abuse between diocesan priests, religious priests and the teaching orders, and between different dioceses. The authors provide plausible explanations for these differences. 

CNS-Pell cc.jpg

George Pell
Australian Cardinal George Pell is seen after leaving the Melbourne Magistrates' Court in Australia July 26. (CNS/Reuters/Mark Dadswell)
The report rejects the claim that the outbreak of child sexual abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was a direct result of the Second Vatican Council and the sexual revolution, as some have claimed.* Rather they were amongst many contributing factors. It also examines various theological and pastoral factors, including "cheap forgiveness" through confession. Despite claims by church spokesmen that the seal of the confessional is inviolable, the authors point out that this has not always been the case.
The report examines in some detail the profiles of the abusing priests and concludes that while celibacy is not of itself a cause of child sexual abuse, it is the major risk factor when combined with poor psychosexual development through the seminary system. The psychological studies have found that homosexuality as such is not the cause of abuse, but when gay seminarians do not come to terms with their orientation in the church's closed homophobic environment, it is more difficult for them to become psychosexually mature enough to resist opportunities with minors.
The report is critical of the church's reliance on secrecy and its antiquated governance structures, including the lack of women in positions of authority. Bishops are effectively monarchs in their own dioceses, and the only restraint on them is canon law. This has caused difficulties when a problem requires a national approach. Archbishop George Pell's refusal to join with his fellow Australian bishopsin their 1996 sexual abuse protocol, Towards Healing is the most significant example of this. Canon law does provide for such a national approach, but it requires the approval of the Holy See, something that has rarely been given with child sexual abuse protocols.
The authors criticize the Australian bishops for failing to put in place an education and training strategy about child sexual abuse. While individual dioceses and parishes may have such strategies in place, there are no published figures as are provided by the church in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The report calls for significant rethinking of many aspects of the church's culture and practice, including its structures and secrecy under canon law, clericalism, sexual morality, the theology of the priesthood and seminary training.
Cahill, Wilkinson and their research team at RMIT University have created a very professional and thoroughly readable synthesis of all the relevant information about child sexual abuse in the Catholic church. The reader is presented with a convincing insight into why the church stumbled so badly over this issue.
[Kieran Tapsell is a retired civil lawyer and the author of Potiphar's Wife: The Vatican's Secret and Child Sexual Abuse and of a submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Canon Law, A Systemic Factor in Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. He was a member of the canon law panel before the Australian Royal Commission Feb. 9, 2017.]
* This sentence has been clarified from an earlier version.


Monday, 25 September 2017

The Stench of Silence - Owen Felix O'Neill

On 25 Sep 2017, at 11:29, Owen Felix O'Neill  wrote:

This is a highly emotive piece of writing which contains within it raw emotion and some new facts. Owen Felix O'Neil's mother, brothers and sisters died in Cork institutions and the urgency within his work deserves recognition.
The Stench of Silence 
Truth hides, buried behind a dour stone grey wall, and only a stench of its silence reveals it ignominy, a mass grave of forgotten children, now lie vulnerable, the dead corpses were piled, naked, one on top of the other, in an unmarked hidden barrow, a dark place of Catholic shame, where broken and discarded women and children hide, consigned to oblivion. A secret undercroft, a mound of dirty secrets and a shameful Church’s criminal acts and unscrupulous misdeeds, their grievous sins, prepared and buried by christian apologetics. Burying their guilt is an important factor by the Catholic Church in perpetuating their obsessive compulsive disorder, there is always the crushing guilt.  A small stone Celtic Cross, droops into the gravel pit, and the two black mirror marble tablets on either side, listing some of the names, lies also in ruins, knocked in half by some furious grieving family member, or a wanton act of enraged vandalism. 
It is crucial that each child’s and each woman’s final resting place is accurately recorded. Thousands of children and women died behind Magdalene Laundry enclosures, never stopped to see the outside world again. It’s hard to believe that some of the destitute women, spend well over 70 years in these horrendous Religious Institutions, as slaves. The Magdalene Laundries in Ireland were Institutions run by Irish Nuns, which first set up shop in 1922 when Ireland became independent. Until the last laundry closed in1996 around 50,000 to 60,000 women were forced into these brutal workhouses in which they were often referred to only as a number. Long before the Nazis in Germany’s death camps, used tattooed numbers on the inmates in their work camps, the inventive Irish Nuns introduced a new series of registration numbers which was introduced in 1920’s and remained in use until 1996 when the last Magdalene Laundry closed. In some cases, the Nuns even wrote the numbers in ink on the woman’s arm or her child’s arm. The numbering scheme was divided into “regular,” 1001 for example 1002..and onward, covering all the women and children in their Magdalene Laundries. The “regular” series consisted of a consecutive numerical series that was used to identify the women, their children. 
The numbers were then entered into a hand- written ledger by the duty Nun, against the handwritten name of the woman or child. Following the introduction of other categories of women, like older women, teenage girls or if their was a child with her, be either a boy or girl into the Magdalene Laundries, the numbering scheme, became more complex. In many cases the number was sown into her work apron and would in all cases, she would be address by that number. In addition the ink ledger which was 18 inches by 12 inches, and 4 or 5 inches thick had other information about the women, for example her county, village or town, her crime, her children, her new job within Magdalene Laundry, even her attitude, for example, was she difficult, rebellious etc…then her date of birth, religion, secret codes the Nuns used within the ink ledger for themselves, about the inmates, for example her appearances, whether she would read or write, type of family, lower classes or middle class, and most important her proposed crime.  
The use of the serial numbers in the Magdalene Laundries on the women and their children, was the way the Nuns used the numeral system of un-making and dehumanising the impecunious women and their hapless children as normal human beings. Yet the numbers the Nuns used in the Magdalene Laundries also became the routinisation and rationalisation of the large bureaucracy that was our Magdalene Laundries system. The Irish Nuns numeral ideas were based on conformity, and the suppression of personal individuality by being a number, and wearing the Religious Institution’s uniform, removed the woman’s identity, she would forever be trapped in the matrix of the Magdalene Laundries.  What a brilliant way to underscore the depersonalisation of Magdalene women and their children, so powerful. The serial numbers were used as a way to dehumanise the women and their children, as was the whole shearing of a flock of waiting women and other special victimisation including, beating, forced rape and sexual slavery. In addition sterilisation experiments targeted some of the women, and their children in the Magdalene Laundries by the medical drug companies, while many other of the medical experiments, also subjected the captive women to inhumane and degrading treatment. 
The Nuns knew the value some of the women placed on their beautiful hair and features, so the spiteful Nuns sheared the women's hair with glee within a few days of their entry into the Magdalene Laundries, and that, with the effect of a starvation diet on their menstrual cycles added to the humiliation of the Magdalene Laundries experience. Particularly striking and beautiful, looking women, also received special targeting for brutal treatment at the hands of a few of the vindictive Nuns in the Magdalene Laundries. The punishment of shaving a woman's head had biblical origins, so the envious Nuns were told by the Magdalene Laundries visiting Priests, this evil practice dated back to the dark ages, with the Visigoths, and approved by God and the Catholic Bible, the Nuns were told. 
During the middle ages, this mark of shame, denuding a woman of what was supposed to be her most seductive feature, was commonly a punishment for adultery, which was melted out gleefully in all the Magdalene Laundries, with the approval of the visiting, agitated Priest. It’s the correct punishment for these impudent and immoral hussies and prostitutes in your wonderful care, was the encouragement shouted out from the pulpits by the imbecilic, sexually frustrated Priests in the Magdalene Laundries Churches, that the humiliated women were also forced to attend. So shaving women's heads was a mark of retribution and humiliation, endorsed by the wider Irish Catholic Church which was a standard feature of all the Magdalene Laundries, run by the Nuns. For the Nuns that ran the Magdalene Laundries shaving the heads of the fallen women, was a sacred duty and acceptance in treating the women as nothing more than mere prostitutes, and that was the norm.
 Incoming new women and their children were assigned a Magdalene Laundry serial number which was sewn to their laundry uniforms and as I said earlier some of the women had hand-written numbers by ink brio, on their arms, written by the Nuns. If a woman or child died in the Magdalene Laundries, the bodies of the women or child was stripped of their clothing bearing the Magdalene Laundries serial number. Any and all person letters of the dead, mementos, like a locket, gold rings, gold or silver crosses and photos and any history were confiscated, the letters and photos were burned, the jewellery was either kept or sold by the Nuns, another lucrative side business for the Nuns, stealing and selling of stolen jewellery from the dead. Its even more grotesque, when learning about this evil of the Nuns that ran the Magdalene Laundries, this species of evil, was a further exploitation of the dead. To add further insult, the woman or child’s family were never informed, and if by chance they were, it was because the Nuns wanted money from the grieving family to pay for the burial of the woman or child. Other personal effects like clothing, shoes and handbag of the dead person had great value at the time, and would now be sold for profit in their charity shops. Wallets with photos, other engraved rings, or fashion jewellery, hats, shawls, scarfs, and overcoats, skirts, blouses, stockings, knickers, etc.. The women were usually allowed to carry the few things they had on them at the time of their imprisonment in the Magdalene Laundries. 
Many personal belongings, the grotesque theft, that were taken from the women when they arrived first at the Magdalene Laundries, were the so called “personal effects. Many personal belongings generally have little material value but a high sentimental value for the woman and her family members. More often than not they are a last personal memento they had, all the rest of the person’s assets were immediately sold on by the Nuns that ran the Magdalene Laundries, another highly lucrative business. 
Given the mortality rate at the Magdalene Laundries and practice of removing all clothing, there was no way to identify the bodies after all the clothing was removed, and this was the intent of the Nuns as the Nuns dumped the women or children into mass graves, behind the Magdalene Laundries with no name, no identity, and certainly no serial number, total dehumanisation was the intent. 
The hand-written ledger with the dead woman or child serial number was then altered and maybe her death noted, normally, entered would be, “she died from flu”, or some other known medical condition, and not the beatings in which she or her child usually died from. The Nuns knew it was an affront upon personal dignity of the women and their children, in particular, humiliating and degrading the women and their children so as to gain total control over them.  This is why, when mass graves are found in Magdalene Laundries  and Mother and Baby Homes, the newer Nuns who came into the Magdalene Laundries system, were unable to identify or name the person in the mass grave, years later, how could they, the buried women and children had no identifications or serial numbers, or any other identifications on them. All personal identification, including jewellery were removed by the Nuns.
Any correspondent numbers with initial names or full names in the ledger never matched, any and all other documents were similarly destroyed by fire. The wily Nuns intended to erase not just the body, but any lingering memory of the women, or child haven’t been in the Magdalene Laundries. The alteration of all documents was to confuse all and anybody who would research or ask questions, years later. So a few hundred bodies dumped in a mass grave at the back of all Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, when discovered, would never have an identity, or any DNA, to match. The now outraged Nuns when they learnt about the mass grave would show their indignation that others, outsiders, found the mass graves, and the peeve Nuns would then lie, like the pros they are, the lies would tip right of their righteous tongues with furious indignation…

  1. Famine women and children, a few hundred years old, a famine grave.!! 
  2. We holy Nuns would never do that, un-christian, its monstrous.!! 
  3. What women, What children.!! 
  4. Nobody here remembers that, we spoke to the older frightened Nuns, it’s grotesque to even think of it.!! 
  5. We went thoroughly through our archives and we have no records in the archives.!!
  6. There are no Nuns here aware of this hideous grave.!!
  7. It must be an invention of the media and a few unhappy women we helped out with, looking for free money from us poor Nuns.!!
  8. We can’t discuss any of this now, because of the data protection act.!!
  9. It was another era, it’s time to move on, there is nothing here, nothing to see, it’s private land. !!
  10. We sold the land, it’s the developers problem, we removed our beloved Nuns, to rebury in consecration land.!!
  11. It’s an outrageous, wicked, wicked lie.!!
  12. We don’t have any files anymore here, they are with the HSE Ireland, you have to ask them.!!
  13. Sorry I can’t help, I’ve only been a Nuns a few years, I spoke to the older Sisters, they are shocked, they have no memory of this, no memory.!! 
  14. We don’t talk to the media, we are praying and talking to God.!!
  15. Nuns wouldn’t do that, Nuns don’t do that, it’s horrendous, my god they are in their 80’s, leave them in peace.!!
Most of the women in the Magdalene Laundries were denied adequate food, forbidden from making friends and suffered hard labour for 14 hours a day. Half of the women were under 23. Named after the Bible's redeemed prostitute, Mary Magdalene, the workhouses were ostensibly run to reform 'fallen women' but their remit widened to house girls who were considered 'promiscuous' along with unmarried mothers, the criminal, mentally unwell, and girls who seen as a burden on their families. Most Survivors say that they were treated as mere slaves, and in many cases the girls' families were told by the Nuns that ran the Magdalene Laundries, that their daughters were studying at school and many families even received falsified reports from the Nuns. 
Babies born to the unwed women were taken from them at birth and illegally adopted, or harvested, most of the women found themselves imprisoned and unable to leave the Magdalene Laundries. The last Magdalene Laundry closed in 1996 but it took until 2003 for the Government of Ireland to issue an apology to the thousands of these women and their children, it was to late, the enormous damage had begun. The Irish State was directly and fundamentally involved in the Magdalene Laundry Institutions with the conniving of the Irish Catholic Church, even the Irish State awarding the Magdalene Laundries, lucrative Government contracts. Sadly the large majority of the women spoke of the deep outrage they felt due to their loss of freedom, they were not informed why they were there, they had no information on when they could leave and were denied all contacts with the outside world, including their children, family and friends. The legacy of the ineradicably evil Magdalene Laundries of Ireland since the 1920s, was that over 378,000 women and their children, one time or other were imprisoned and humiliated in these State run Religious Institutions, sanctioned by both the misogynistic Irish Catholic Church and the spineless and easily led Irish State, all to control women bodies and their reproduction rights.

At the sacred well

As mentioned before, the tobacco (chanupa) ceremony was so multi-faceted that it will take many posts to capture the ongoing depths of healing and symbology. 

The first part of the ceremony took place outdoors at a local sacred well which is being tenderly minded by local people. We were blessed with dry weather despite persistent rain in the earlier part of the day. A prayer of 'Greetings and Thanks' (see an earlier post) commenced the occasion and what became 
apparent so quickly was not only the depth of respect for all living things but also the acknowledgement of the sacred union which brings those things into being. The pipe was a clear representation of that union (the clay bowl symbolising the mother, the pipe the father and the tobacco the children; the smoke or breath arising from it - the life-force or spirit.) 

Standing in a circle we passed the pipe to each other offering up many prayers for those affected by the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. 
By now Tuam (Tumulus) represents all burial mound and all hidden truths so we were acknowledging both the personal and the collective.

A child's face at the bottom of the well 

Erika blew the sacred tobacco into the well where it billowed into the cracks and crevices. It's currently dry, so it'll be interesting to see if there any changes in the coming months. 

All in all the ceremony was deeply moving and we're so grateful to Erika for bringing the bless├ęd wisdom of the Americas to us, connecting the desire for healing to both nations.

Astrology for the Soul September 21, 2017

Published on Sep 22, 2017

As the old order dissolves into chaos, A prerequisite for the new birth, I see Spirit's intentional restructuring, As a footprint on Mother earth.

Tuam Expert Group Update

Tuam Expert Group Update 

The Expert Technical Group is continuing in its work on the drafting of the technical report. Geophysical data that had been collected at the site in July continues to be processed and it is expected to be available for analysis in the coming weeks. 

The Group has further consulted with archaeological, anthropological and forensic specialists in DNA in order to assess the potential of any future analysis, and particularly the potential problematic issues. The Coroner for North Galway, Dr Val Costello, has also kindly been assisting with queries relating to the site. 

The team met with the National Monuments Service, whom have advised on possible archaeological aspects relating to the environs of the site at Tuam. 

There have been various communications with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, who are world leader in humanitarian forensic action and best practices in relation to community engagement. 

see page 2 of booklet

Second Stage document is due shortly.

First stage document included the following options:

This first-stage document sets out the options that have been identified by the group, specifically in relation to dealing with the site from a technical perspective. The second stage document will explore each of these options in substantial detail. Each option, or scenario, will be examined in relation to the necessary requirements, what the expected outcome would be, and what the feasibility, timeline and possible cost is for the implementation of each option. 

Option 1: Baseline Scenario This option involves no further investigative work at the site, once the preliminary survey and DNA testing results have been considered. The site would then be returned to being managed as a site of memorial. The requirements and outcomes of this situation will be examined more completely in the coming weeks. 

Option 2: Excavate and Recover Human Remains from the Memorial Garden This option would involve the complete forensic archaeological excavation of the structure identified as containing juvenile human remains by the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation (3rd March 2017). The structure is one of two identified within the area of the memorial garden. It has been reported that this is an elongated structure, comprising 20 chambers, in which human remains have been discovered in 17 of those chambers. Information relating to the chambers state that all are deep and narrow, and are broadly consistent in size. The human remains within appear to be those of infants with no formal burial evident. From the evidence thus far, it seems that this structure is the only part of the memorial garden that contains human remains. However, in any forensic archaeological recovery of these remains, there would be a high potential risk of disturbance to the wider area of the memorial garden. It is therefore likely that the entire walled area (255 sq. m) would need to be archaeologically excavated, in order that all evidential and contextual information can be protected and examined. A consideration of the feasibility of this scenario will be determined through the consultation process that is currently on-going

Option 3: Excavate All Areas of Interest This option requires full consideration of results from the current programme of nonintrusive investigative work. A comprehensive appraisal of the resulting evidence from geophysical survey would therefore be necessary. In addition, this option would require the further collection and assessment of witness statements and historical records. From this evidence, it may become possible to identify further areas of potential interest, which subsequently could lead to archaeological excavation. The aim of this option is the recovery of human remains from the site in a targeted manner based on information acquired. This would logically include the area of the memorial garden and the complete forensic excavation and recovery of human remains at other targeted areas that are identified. Any potentially relevant areas of interest cannot be speculated upon at this stage but the assessment of further excavations would be based upon a multi-disciplinary consideration of those areas. 

Option 4: Excavate Total Available Area This would represent the most intrusive methodology that might be applied. This option would require the full forensic investigation and archaeological excavation of all available ground formerly occupied by the Mother and Baby Home at Tuam, in order to physically and practically exhaust all potential for further relevant and preserved human remains. The fact that the site had been a Union Workhouse, and later a military barracks, prior to functioning Page 5 of 5 as a Mother and Baby Home is a foreseeable complication to this option. As a result, there could be significant disturbance to historical burials and other archaeological features that do not relate to the operation of the Mother and Baby Home. Furthermore, while extensive, the excavation of all available areas could not be considered conclusive. Just over 0.4 hectares of the property which was once within the boundary of the Mother and Baby Home is now open ground (i.e. playground, memorial garden, private roadways). The remaining 2.3 hectares has since that time had houses, private gardens, sheds and public roadways built upon it (approximately 85% of the original site). Option 5: Programme of DNA analysis Once the potential preservation of DNA evidence has been established, this option may be applied to any of the above options that include further exhumation/recovery of human remains, that is, Options 2-4. Therefore, this is currently a floating option. Once the feasibility of DNA identification is investigated this option can be considered more fully. At this stage, a number of observations have been made by experts in this area. These are factors such as the potential degradation of the quality of DNA that can be recovered. The commingled/intermixed nature of the remains, alongside the understanding that these are infant/juvenile skeletal remains, potentially poses challenges that need further consideration.

 The second-stage document will develop these options with regard to feasibility, requirements, expected outcomes, timelines and estimated costs. The final Technical Report on the Tuam Site shall be delivered to the Minister by the end of September 2017.

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