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The Otherworld Is Always Close at Hand with Seán Pádraig O’Donoghue | Ep 14
Episode 1427th April 2022 • KnotWork Storytelling • Marisa Goudy
00:00:00 00:45:58

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Our Story

Our guest Seán Pádraig O’Donoghue tells the story of his legendary ancestor, Donal O'Donoghue. O’Donoghue Mór was a great warrior, a generous chieftain, a man who kept the Old Ways. He conspired with the Otherworld and became an initiate of the deepest mysteries and the forbidden knowledge. As a result of showing his powers to his wife, O’Donoghue Mór was pulled back to the Otherworld. But, the stories say that he and his royal host rise every seven years on Bealtaine (May 1) and, when a member of the O’Donoghue family comes to their chieftain in times of great need, he will always offer his aid.

Our Guest

Seán Pádraig O’Donoghue is a poet, herbalist, writer, and teacher, and an initiated Priest in two traditions. He lives in the mountains of Western Maine.

The Otherworld Well Hedge School offers weekly classes that weave together magic, herbalism, folklore, ecology, and history. His second book, Courting the Wild Queen, will be available from Ritona Press.

Visit Seán’s website and on Facebook

Our Conversation

Seán and Marisa connect over their love of Irish mythology, culture, and history. They are also both children of Massachusetts whose ancestors are several generations removed from Ireland. In the course of their conversation, they explore:

  • Bealtaine, the Celtic festival of fertility celebrated on May 1 and its significance on the Celtic Wheel of the Year
  • A vision Seán had at Pulnabrone, the passage tomb in the Burren in Co. Clare. Archaeologists know this was a burial ground; Seán saw that this was a place where people came to speak to the dead at Samhain, but also a portal that called people together at Bealtaine so they could call those same spirits into the land of the living. There is but one gate, and we move back and forth through it. When we understand the nature of the gate, the ancestors and beloved dead are never far from us.
  • A “chemical cypher” in the blossom of the whitethorn or hawthorn that echoes the cycles of fertility and decay present in the the human body.
  • Marisa shares a story of the hawthorn bush that guards the cave at Rathcroghan in County Roscommon, Oweynagat.
  • The power of being in both worlds, honoring the past as well as the realities and struggles of the contemporary world. The worlds keep reflecting one each other and asking us to see our reflections on both sides.
  • Seán explores what it means to be an American living according to wisdom of the Irish ancestors with words from Thoreau: “Nevertheless, our wild apple is wild only like myself, perchance, who belong not to the aboriginal race here, but have strayed into the woods from the cultivated stock.”
  • It is important to honor the place and tradition of the ancestors, but to disown the heritage because of the “accident of the time and place of birth” would also dishonor the tradition.
  • The links between wildness and sovereignty, an understanding that draws distinction between being an autocrat or someone obsessed with individualism

Our Music

Music at the start of the show is by Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental Duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called The College Groves. Find out about their music and shows at: billyandbeth.com

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