|Posted by Éirinn bean mac Iain on April 11, 2014 at 3:00 AM|
Traveling sunwise again, we arrive in the direction of East, where the sun rises, most beneficient of all the directions in Irish lore. The names of the cardinal directions in Irish are all oriented towards the sun, so that the word for East means, before me, as in, facing the sunrise, while west means, behind me, as in, where the sun sets. The Sun is the source of all life and blessings, from where all goodness comes, meaning, that which supports our physical needs and keeps us alive, so we may appreciate and enjoy life. From Fintan's discourse we learn thus about the qualities of the East ~
‘Her prosperity then,’ said he, ‘and her supplies, her bee-hives [?] her contests, her feats of arms, her householders, her nobles, her wonders, her good custom, her good manners, her splendour, her abundance, her dignity, her strength, her wealth, her householding, her many arts, her accoutrements [?], her many treasures, her satin, her serge, her silks, her cloths [?], her green spotted cloth [?], her hospitality, from the eastern part in the east.'
And so not only did material wealth flow from the East, from the householders, beehives, and silks, but also social wealth in the form of civilization, through good custom, good manners, hospitality, and dignity. The social role associated with the East is the Farmer who works the land and animals to bring abundance and goodness to his people. From his close work with, and ties to, the land, which produces and rests by the cycles of the sun which comes to us from the east, we may infer a set of cultural virtues which we might all cultivate.
Gratitude is often thought of these days as a platitude, a cliché, a thing remembered lightly while we fret about the problems of the day. While cultivting Gratitude does not make problems go away, or even necessarily diminish them when they are overpowering enough, it does ground us in what is regularly provided for us, every day, which allows us to continue receiving the blessing of life. Cultivating Gratitude reminds us of the gift of sunrise every morning from the east, which brings life to the land, and that the land gifts us with all we need for food, shelter, and clothing, along with many plant and animal companions, family and friends, and time to honor the nourishing powers, and make harmonious relationship with them. Every new day is a new opportunity to improve ourselves, to support and care for our people, and to maintain balance in our world and our sacred relationships. While we make mistakes as we learn, we are never denied fresh opportunities to make corrections and receive blessings. Smile to the rising sun in the East, and feel Gratitude.
Hospitality is mentioned overtly as one of the qualities of the East. Once upon a time, in the age of the Ancestors, Hospitality was the Golden Rule. No matter who came calling, each guest was received warmly, given food and drink, and had his welfare looked after before his business was inquired of him, whether he be friend, foe, or stranger, so long as he came in peace. The land of the elements was harsh, and all knew the perils of travel in heat, cold, and dark of night, and how one could run out of food and water, or be beset upon by reivers. Or a neighbor might be visited by misfortune and in need of help. The people knew that if they did not help others when they were in need, nobody would open a door to help them in their own need. Hospitality therefore was sacred and not to be violated. When it once was, remembered as the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692 in Scotland, it was considered the gravest of transgressions. One clan welcomed another, and though they were not friendly, hospitality dictated that the hosts would protect their guests. Instead, the hosts turned on their guests in a planned betrayal and slaughtered them. The Law of Hospitality outlines proper protocol for both hosts and guests, so that both parties behave graciously to one another. This has been called the *Ghosti principle in Pre-Indo-European reconstructed language, in which social balance is maintained by mutual giving and receiving. Hospitality was the height of good custom and manners in the time of the Ancestors, and always brings benefit when we cultivate it among our people today, which upholds cosmic order in our world by ensuring that all parties in need will be cared for.
Generosity is the cycle of sharing blessings, and when we practice it, we participate in it, and perpetuate it for the benefit of all things, which upholds cosmic truth and order in the world. As the Sun generously blesses the Land with life, so the Land then generously blesses us with Life, as do the Waters of lake, river, and sea, and so we generously bless the powers that are the gods with thanks as we return to them a portion of the blessings which we received, that their powers will recognize that we are doing our part to maintain the balance of life for all beings, as all beings generously receive blessings from Land, Sea, and Sky. In Gratitude, we learn to receive graciously; in Hospitality we learn to share with one another graciously; in Generosity, we learn to give graciously to all, for the mutual benefit of all, that the cycles of abundance may continue to flow to all, maintaining balance for all, that we may once again cultivate Gratitude, as the cycle turns and it is our time to receive blessings once again.