So back in the pre-Christian days on Ireland, you had the three divisions of the priestly class: you had the Druids, who ran festivals, did sacrifices, that sort of thing, you had the Brehons, who were judges and arbiters, and then you had the Bards.
Now, these days you think of a bard and you think of a troubadour, a traveling musician; but the bard was considered to be immensely powerful. They were pretty much the walking Internet of the day. They memorized their entire clan’s lineages, had a storehouse of song, and their music and poetry was considered to have magical powers. Like a lot of pre-literate peoples, the Gael believed that art was divinely inspired, and thus was the source of the magic.
This was what made the bards an important social control. The most feared weapon in the bardic arsenal was satire. If the people chose a bad king (and yeah, the kings were chosen by the tribe), the bard could compose a satirical poem that could literally kill him. The words would blast forth into the target’s face, like a spitting cobra’s venom, and like venom, could sicken the target and take away their power.
“For fuck’s sakes, Hickey,” I hear you exclaim, “don’t you read the news?! Are you an asshole, talking this bullshit! And your shirt looks stupid!” Which is just mean.
Yesterday was a bad day. A really bad day for a lot of people. I woke up yesterday, turned on the news and checked my feeds, and I immediately checked my parlor for the exits. It’s bad.
A lot of people are hurting, scared. I don’t blame a one of them in the least. There was a Copernican shift away from the progress of the last few years towards…something. That’s the thing: nobody knows what a Trump presidency means yet.
But we know what it could mean.
I freely admit to going ghost yesterday off of social media. It was just too much–everybody’s fear and grief and rage was just hammering into me. In my hermitage I’m going over my skillset, what I have on me that can help. I’ve got my shillelagh in my car, and I’ll swing that whiskey stick if I need to, but I’m no guerilla fighter. I’m no community outreach expert. I’m fat, I have bad knees, asthma, and the anxiety.
But I have my words.
And I know how to use them.
You swing the fist you have. In bad times, it’s our responsibility to use what we have to effect the change we need. That includes us creatives. People need to see Truth. Truth is immutable, and fact is fucking Play-Doh. Artists show Truth. Write it, sing it, sculpt it, paint it, dance it, whatever you got. People are going to need to see the monsters for what they are, and they’re going to need to see that the monsters can be brought down. Fury and Hope are the bard-gift, the boon that the creative brings to their tribe.
I pledge do do what I can, how I can. How about you?
Let’s do what we can. You see somebody in trouble, help them out. You see somebody being a shitbag, let them know it’s not what we do. Be safe out there, huh?