THE SALMON IN THE SPRING
HHiraeth PressSan Francisco
Jason Kirkeyforeword by
theSPRINGTh e Ecology of
Copyright 2009 Jason Kirkey
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The author and publisher gratefully acknowledge the following for permission to reprint excerpts from their work:
Love Dogs. Barks, Coleman, trans. The Essential Rumi. New Expanded Edition. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Reprinted with permission of Maypop Books.
First Edition 2009Reprinted with corrections, 2010
Cover and text design by Jason KirkeyCover photograph: iStockphoto.com / Natalia Bratslavsky
ISBN: 978-0-9799246-6-8Library of Congress Control Number: 2009908769
Published by Hiraeth PressSan Francisco, California
To the ancestorswhose wisdom must not be forgotton
and to the future generationsto whom the diffi cult tasks will fall.
We need a spirituality that emerges out of a reality deeper than ourselves, a spiritu-
ality that is as deep as the Earth process itself, a spirituality born out of the solar
system and even out of the heavens beyond the solar system. For it is in the stars
that the primordial elements take shape in both their physical and psychic aspects.
Out of these elements the solar system and Earth took shape, and out of Earth,
There is a triviality in any spiritual discipline that does not experience itself as
supported by the spiritual as well as the physical dynamics of the entire cosmic-
Earth process. Ultimately, a spirituality is a mode of being in which not only the
divine and the human commune with each other, but through which we discover
ourselves in the universe and the universe discovers itself in us.
by Frank MacEowen . . . ix
Introduction . . . 1Part One: The Ecology of Perception
1. Place and Story . . . 152. Wild Earth, Wild Mind . . . 35
3. The Fomorian Eye . . . 534. Tuatha D Danann Vision . . . 75
5. Dreamtime Circle . . . 976. The Birdreign . . . 119
Part Two: The Well and the Branch7. The Soul's Horizon . . . 139
8. Borderlands . . . 1619. Connla's Well . . . 179
10. Ecos and Psyche . . . 20511. Empty Mountains . . . 221
Coda: The Man Who Had No Story . . . 243
Glossary of Terms . . . 251Notes . . . 261
Bibliography . . . 273Resources . . . 279
Acknowledgements . . . 281About the Author . . . 283
FOREWORDby Frank MacEowen
On the cover of this book is a gorgeous image: Luminous bands of sun-light cascade down through the mist and settle on a pristine forest of ever-greens and deciduous trees. A streambed of shining water trickles over dark stones,
mirroring clouds and the light of day on its surface. It is easy to imagine a solitary
deer entering the scene, lapping up her morning refreshment at the rivers edge; or
a beaver gnawing down another sapling to add to the home he builds for his family
in the face of impending winter.
There is something primal and comforting about the photograph. The land-
scape invites us into a contemplative state, one that mirrors the slow rhythm of the
forest and the sky-mirroring art of the stream. The image of the forest speaks
of a softer way of being as well as the unseen integrity inherently woven within the
harmonious bonds of relationship that shape the ecosystem.
The harmonious bond of which I speak is the original language of the planet.
A few knowledge-bearing wisdom-keepers in the human family still remember this
language. All of the other species on the planet are fl uent, for it is encoded within
them, and their days and nights are aligned with it. Whether wise two-legged, four-
legged, or the fi nned and winged ones, this ancient language is a sacred language
that shapes their songs, their stories, and their patterns of seasonal activity and
movement. It is a language that most of us have forgotten. We must re-learn this
language, and guide our lives by it, or it will be our peril.
A stark juxtaposition to the beautiful image that graces the cover of this book
is the cover of the September 2009 issue of National Geographic. The photo-
graphs and paintings in the article entitled Before New York say it all. In the
x The Salmon in the Spring
article, ecologists turn back the clock by four centuries to reveal how Manhat-
tan Island would have appeared before industrial development. The comparison is
In one set of plates we have the image of ponds, beaver, elk, miles and miles
of untouched forest, with one image of a Lenape village set up according to an
undoubtedly minimum impact ethic. These retrospective paintings are juxtaposed
with photographs of the actual human footprint today. Needless to say, the vast
majority of the natural world is gone, replaced with concrete, unnatural lighting,
and tributaries of sludge and waste rather than streams of pure water.
In contrast to the songs and stories of those who live according to the original
language, our current story is one of disconnection from our naturalness. With
no regard to the immediate or eventual backlash to our own bodies, our neigh-
bors downstream, that of future generations, or the indigenous cultures around
the planet (who tend technologies of the sacred for remembering the original
language), the technocratic industrial complex continues its steady march forward.
Fueled by greed, chemicals, an addiction to petroleum, an obsession with con-
sumption, and a false myth that the natural resources of our planet are an un-
ending supply chain, we of the First World (unless you live completely off -the-
grid) are perpetrators, recipients, and devotees to a toxic realityalbeit for many
people unconsciously. In fact, the forces at work count on the masses remaining
unconscious and driven more by compulsion than contemplation.
This toxic reality, which is undoubtedly mandated, propagated and legislated
by people sitting on both sides of the aisle (and both sides of the Atlantic and
Pacifi c), is oriented to one thing and one thing only: the generation of wealth
through an economic engine that is fully-aware-yet-dismissive of the ecological
impact of its system. The end result: we are slowly but surely killing ourselves, and
Yet, there is also good news, evidenced by seemingly small things but which
will ultimately shape a future culture aligned to the original language. I think of
those people who make an attempt at living a life that bears less and less of a car-
bon footprint, or those communities where people have the bravery to engage in
an honest conversation about how we can slowly change our culture from one of
addiction to awareness.
The good news is also evidenced by the calling you feel inside your own chest
a calling for a diff erent way of being spiritual, a desire to explore your connection to the natural world, a need for peace and a way to befriend your own mind. Perhaps
this calling ultimately led you to pick up the book in your hands. You wont be
There have been many books published exploring the vast domain of Celtic
spirituality, some of my own books among them. When I fi rst started my jour-
ney of trying to make sense of the spiritual tug I felt from my Irish, Scottish
and Welsh ancestors, I had come from years within an explicitly indigenous and
shamanic context. Naturally, I saw everything through a shamanic fi lter, including
what I perceived to be Celtic culture and spirituality. In time, because of other experiences, this profoundly limiting fi lter dropped
away, changing my perception of everything Id ever written or experienced. What
I was left with was a much more vast and contemplative way of relating to life and
the essential power of spiritual inquiry. It is a way of being that transcends all
labels, and it is a spiritual landscape that author and poet Jason Kirkey has been
moving through for years. From his own deep-dreaming journey into the realms of
nature and spirit he has brought forth certain healing nectars of insight for each
and every one of us.
In these pages you will fi nd a sophisticated understanding of cosmology and
spirituality, a Jungian understanding of the transformative power of archetypes and
story, a near-mystical and poetic way of perceiving the natural world, a shamanic
and contemplative comprehension of the nature of the soul, light touches of in-
sight from the Shambhala and Buddhist traditions, with an ever-present current of
inspiration bubbling up from the deep strata of Celtic consciousness.
In The Salmon in the Spring: The Ec