“Take a moment to simply be. Disconnect from the keyboard warriors and decide to be the Enlightened Warrior.”
The Celtress – Miriam O’Gara
Songstress, Artist, Teacher and Host of WRITER’S BLOCK.
“All of us knew the day would come…. Now is the time to make that change.”
The Celtress – Miriam O’Gara
Guess what? I’m a baby Crone!
No, I’m not putting myself down. I am in fact paying myself a complement because The Crone in Irish mythology is called, An Cailleach, / On kal yak/ – and in no way represents the fearful old hag that the Christian churches later depicted her to be. In Irish mythology (and Scottish too) she comes to us from a place of love and wisdom, empowerment and sovereignty acquired over many years. She is the deity of Winter, reminding us to slowdown and to use Winter to dream our dreams, then bring them to fruition in the Spring – because there is no rush and we must give all things time. So, it is for this reason I’m absolutely delighted to call this area of my website CRONE WISDOM with The Celtress.
I think I have a little wisdom that is shareable, particularly in what art reflects. As well as working my whole life in the arts, I have, since 1987, run a parallel career teaching language and arts, film, theatre and television history to adults. Thirty-five years is a long time and my experience has been firstly, that this accumulation of know-how does not give me the right to preach, and secondly, that teaching language and the arts, particularly cross-culturally, has consistently redirected me back to art and what art aims to reflect. A country’s language reflects not only its culture but it’s mindset and soul. Art does the same, but in addition prompts us to reimagine our world, and ourselves into the future. It’s that second part that we often lose sight of.
Let me take you back a couple of sentences, that my teaching has redirected me back to art and what it ‘reflects.’
If you have agreed with me so far, you’re possibly already thinking that you have to change in someway to achieve any of the aesthetic, spiritual or academic challenges that ‘art’ seems to stand for. This thinking is fed by a massive marketing machine which pervades education and perpetuates a myth, the myth that we aren’t ready yet, or that we need this credential or that course to evolve our understanding and call ourselves experts, SMEs or even real artists. I’m certainly guilty of falling into this trap. Don’t get me wrong, courses can help, but are they necessary to understand art? No. Are we worthy of gazing upon art without a background in it, YES! I often feel we are programmed to think that we must earn the right. Thankfully, my Irish upbringing, means that I come from a community all embracing view of art. I had an artist mother (state registered) and was surrounded by storytellers (we are a nation of storytellers after all), which kept me tethered to the Irish thinking (government endorsed too) that without art, we do not truly know who we are, and so as a nation, everybody, every community, people of every class, are reared with a habit of feeding their soul with art. I’m lucky, not every nation communicates this to their young.
In the West, we are constantly being told that we need to learn how to read a piece of art. The inference being, that you won’t have the full picture or learn the real lesson within the text if you haven’t received proper instruction. Let’s be clear. This is only true at entry level to the arts (at third level and further education). All professional artists experiment with different voices but none will make their work so inaccessible to an audience that they will risk ‘the cerebral response’ overtaking the emotional response. It is for this reason that I say as a teacher and as a performer, that I can only advise and guide because every human being contemplating a piece of art, manifests an emotional response that is unique to them. There should be no preaching of right or wrong on this subject, because there is no one size fits all. Even a dancer must get to the point where they are confident enough in their technique to let go, progress on and focus attention on bringing the dance to Life. What society has done (particularly in the amateur world) be it with plays, movies, paintings, sculpture or cinematic fine art, is persuade us to repackage that spark of self-recognition reflected in the medium, a spark that the artist has dearly hoped you would connect with, and reduce it to a purely academic response. The result is that High Art is presumed to be elitist and academic, and that my friends is a lie. As a singer I have first hand experience of seeing this in action both in performance and academically.
As a teacher I can’t prescribe anything to you. Nor should I. Yes, I can advise, prompt and guide but that decision can be freely accepted or rejected by the seeker without judgement on my part (a view not accepted by all cultures). My role is quite different.
My role is to remind you, that YOU are a reflection of nature, of the divine as it is now. The Devine recognises itself in art and allows for flaws because they are not flaws at all. They are the tracks on which we ride the journey of life’s lessons. That too is a definition of Art. You are a work of art. Even your flaws are unique, always reflecting the actions of that greatest work of art. The human being.
The human is God’s energy conductor, and the more positive energy we produce the more positivity we will attract. Art, like other things, has the capacity to open our subconscious minds to healing. ‘Art healing’ is all about helping you identify that voice. That simple voice that shows you something is right, or more often, not right.
I had to re-evaluate my life when I hit the age of 55. It dawned on me that I had not prepared myself for my Third Act. I couldn’t believe that I had neglected this. I was very holistic in my 30s and 40s (due to almost dying in 2005) but at 50, I was thinking in strictly professional terms and not at all holistically. I threw myself back into music and art.
The Pandemic allowed me 2 years of re-evaluation. It gave me time to prepare for this Third Act. In the end, I think the world asked us a question. Are you a doer or a naysayer?
I suddenly saw that I had always been a doer and had always created my way out of difficult situations and dead ends. I had a knack for creating new opportunities but somehow, at 50, I had lost sight of that. Many people around me went into negative mode. I think most of us found out the true personalities of partners and friends we thought we had known well but realised now, we hadn’t. I can’t say that all my friends are of the same make, but I certainly realised that I was by nature ‘glass half full’ it comes naturally to me, but I had been watering that down. Why? Because it is a lonely place to be.
When we excel at anything, there is an element of ostracization. It happens. Before any conversation can start, it will happen. As soon as you are seen as a doer others will feel inadequate and disappear. Don’t change and don’t be offended. It’s their issue. Be patient and keep going. Turning 50, and a combination of Change of Life, the death of both parents, and a couple of work related crises, an unwell husband, not to mention COVID, all pushed me into overdrive. I had taken my eye off the ball. I was taking on way too much and sinking fast. In the pandemic, I found clarity, an opportunity to be unapologetic about being a doer, accept and take that understanding of myself into my Third Act.
Today, I would advise anyone in that age range to monitor how their health is performing. It may be reflecting back the world around them. How is your mind and body coping with the demands, even the most simple demands, of the world around you? If you are struggling, throttle back.
It is a time to take the foot of the accelerator but not to stop completely. What you are seeking now is balance. This is a time to embrace physiological changes but not necessarily change industry. Finding the right balance is everything in these years. Yes you will still get serious illnesses, but you will be better spiritually and mentally equipped to cope. Their is a huge element of self healing involved in recovering from even the most serious ailments so wouldn’t it be great to have that toolkit ready and handy? You can start putting it together now.
Remember, men also go through a Change of Life. For them it tends to happen in their 40s, often a depression (and still hormone related), and again in their 70s. For women, it is difficult to believe that this physical and mental overwhelm is temporary, but it is. Your world is changing. You have now begun your Third Act and must take the time to tune into a new way of being. Are you ready?
All of us knew the day would come….Now is the time to make that change.
I do exciting work with artists (men and women) who are facing change. As they navigate these changes it helps to have a mentor. Anyone struggling with embracing their new identity is welcome to have an online session with me. In my next article, I will suggest more ways to remodel your life holistically and spiritually, so that you can enjoy your Third Act.
Contact me via this website or on firstname.lastname@example.org
See you all soon.