Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Little Lame Donkey.

This is a lovely story about a donkey and I thought I’d share it with you. It’s called,


The Little Lame Donkey.

It was a cold night. There was a full moon that lit up the snow covered meadow where the little lame donkey stood. He’d been there since the spring when he arrived with a small travelling fair. He was limping then and his owner decided to leave him behind when the fair moved on. The little donkey didn’t mind, at least he wouldn’t have to pull the heavy cart in which the children sat while he took them around the short circuit in the fairground. He was quite content to stay in the meadow, there was plenty of grass to eat and the local farmers who owned the surrounding fields threw him cabbages, turnips and carrots and they made sure that he always had plenty of water to drink.

But the little donkey was very lonely, particularly tonight for it was Christmas Eve and all donkeys know about Christmas, after all it was one of his ancestors who carried Mary to Bethlehem.  He heard the sound of the village clock in the distance strike midnight and because he felt so lonely he brayed a long, sad bray. Suddenly he heard another sound, this was a different sound. It was very quiet at first, a jingling, tinkling sound and it seemed to be coming from overhead. The little donkey looked up but he couldn’t see anything through the falling snowflakes. The jingling, tinkling sound slowly faded away to be replaced by another sound, crunching footsteps in the snow, someone was walking up the meadow towards him. The little donkey suddenly felt very excited who could it be out at this time on Christmas Eve?

It was a man, a big man dressed all in red, he had a red coat with a hood pulled up over his ears, a pair of red trousers and a pair of black wellington boots and he seemed to be carrying a large sack on his shoulders. As he got closer the little donkey noticed that the man had a big bushy white beard and twinkling eyes.

“Hello fellah, how are you” the man said as he removed the sack from his shoulder and placed it on the ground.

The donkey thought he knew the answer before he asked the man the question but nervously he said “Hello, who are you?”

The big man smiled, “Well I’m known by different names in different places. Sometimes I’m called Sinterklass,some call me Kris Kringle or Saint Nicholas. Here in Ireland I’m called Santa Claus or Father Christmas. I quite like Santa or Father Christmas”.

“But I thought you rode on a sleigh pulled by reindeer” said the donkey,

“I do” replied Father Christmas, “but I’ve nearly finished delivering all the presents for this year so I’ve let the reindeer go on ahead. They’ve been working very hard. I heard you braying a moment ago and you sounded so sad and lonely so I decided to come and see you”

“Where are you going now” asked the little donkey

“Well my final delivery is just outside Westport and I have a couple of chimneys to drop into”

“but Westport is about 5 miles away” said the little donkey,

“I know” said Father Christmas “but it won’t take me long to walk”

The donkey looked down to the large sack next to Father Christmas’s feet,

“I could help you” he said, “You could lift the sack onto my back and I could carry it for you”

“But what about your lame leg” answered Father Christmas,

“I can do it” insisted the little donkey,

Father Christmas smiled and said “Very well, if your sure, I would be very grateful for your help” and he lifted the sack and gently placed it on to the little donkey’s back and off the two of them went, across the meadow, down into the valley and headed towards Westport.

They chatted away as they walked and time passed quickly. They made four stops on the way and Father Christmas took mysterious and exciting looking packages from the sack and disappeared down the chimney of each house. They eventually arrived at a little farm just outside of Westport just as the sun began to wake up. Dawn was breaking and the little donkey noticed a wisp of smoke curling from the chimney of the farm house.

“Their awake early” said Father Christmas as he lifted the sack from the donkey’s back. “Time I wasn’t here” He patted the little donkey on the neck. He placed a smaller sack next to the donkey and said,

“Goodbye my friend, take care and I’ll see you again next year” The donkey looked around but Father Christmas was nowhere to be seen.

Just then the back door of the farmhouse opened and Mrs Foy came out to feed the chickens. She saw the donkey.

“What have we here” she said in surprise, she turned back and called into the farmhouse “Come out here quick, we have a visitor”

Her husband and children appeared in their dressing gowns and slippers ,

 Mr Foy said “Where did he come from” He walked over to the donkey. “Look at this” he said, “I think Father Christmas has been here” he patted the little donkey on the neck and he bent down to examine the sack.

By this time the children had become extremely excited, it was Christmas morning after all. They ran over to the little donkey and for a moment they even forgot about the sack bulging with Christmas presents.

“Look daddy” said one of the children, “There’s some tinsel around the donkey’s neck and there’s a label on it”

Mr Foy looked at the label and read the message out loud,

“Here is a special present for you all. He has a lame leg. Please take special care of him for he is my friend. Have a very merry Christmas”
Well they did look after the little lame donkey, they loved him. Mr Foy who knew a lot about animals helped the donkey’s leg to get better. In the spring he was even well enough to let the children ride him around the farmyard and he was never lonely again. As far as I know, he is still with them to this day

The Boy's at Án Post

Here is a little story to warm your heart. I’ve simply called it

The Boy’s at An Post.

Once upon a time not that long ago the sorting office for An Post was relocated from the local post office to a central location in Athlone. There was a fellah working there whose job it was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses.

One day a letter came to his desk addressed to God in very shaky handwriting. He looked at it and thought to himself “I’d better open this one and see what it’s all about”

When he opened it he began to read. It said,

“Dear God, I am an 83 year old widow living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse, it had a hundred euros in it. It was all the money I had in the world and I won’t get my next pension cheque until after Christmas. I’ve invited two of my friends over for Christmas dinner so we won’t be lonely but without that money I won’t be able to buy any food. I have no family and no one to turn to, you’re my only hope. Can you please help me”

With a tear in his eye the postal worker went around the department and showed the letter to all his colleagues. Every one of them decided to put a couple of euros into an envelope and by the end of the day they had collected 95 euros. They sent it to the old woman’s address which was written on the top of the letter. All of them felt a warm glow because of the kind thing they had done.

Well Christmas came and went and after the holidays they had all returned to work when another letter came from the old woman. Once again it was addressed to god in the same shaky handwriting. All the workers gathered round while the letter was opened. It read,

“Dear God, how can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me. With the money you sent I was able to buy all the food and we had a lovely Christmas dinner. I told my two friends all about your wonderful gift. By the way, there was five euros missing, I think it must be those thieving fellahs at the sorting office”

Séan's Special Gift.

This is a story that may bring a tear to your eye, it’s a lovely tale about the love of two people. It’s called

Sean's Special Gift.

Can you remember the most meaningful present you’ve ever given to someone? It doesn’t have to cost the earth or be something flashy. It’s the joy of giving a gift to someone that really shows the thought that you’ve put into it and that’s what makes them so important. Here is a story about one such gift; I hope it reminds you of that special moment and how it may relate to your own Christmas story.

Sean steadied himself against the cold night wind, holding tight to his silver topped walking stick he stared at all the beautiful things in the shop windows on Bridge Street,

“What do I get for her” he said to himself. He only needed one present but it had to be perfect and time was running out.

Snowflakes began to fall and people walked by some loaded up with bags some still looking for that last minute gift. People carrying Xmas shopping and the air seemed filled with the sound of people calling out to those that they recognised

“How are ye” and “Happy Xmas”

Children with eyes wide looked in the shop windows and pulled at their parents hands “Look Mammy, Daddy” they shouted as they tugged at their sleeves dragging them away from boring stuff like dresses and jewellery and towards the more exciting windows with toys and sweets.

Sean turned around very carefully for now the street was slippy with snow and leaning on his walking stick he wandered down towards the end of Bridge Street. What wonderful things he saw, beautiful shiny objects, and the smells, Ohhh the smell was lovely, mince pies and mulled wine, turkey and ham. The air seemed alive. He pulled his scarf a little tighter and put his head down but even though he wore a wide brimmed hat the cold wind still stung his eyes and froze his cheeks. It even brought tears to his eyes, or was that the wind or something else?

Window after window Sean passed and each was filled with different things that at various times throughout his long life he had bought. A diamond ring, a wedding ring, elegant clothes, baby things, toys oh yes loads of toys especially those toys that you had to put together or those that you forgot to get batteries for.  Sean smiled as he remembered how she’d laughed and swore at him for being a complete eejit, fancy forgetting the batteries. She laughed as he tried to put the toys together and she’d bring him a cup of tea. They’d sit and talk about Christmases past and they’d nibble at the mince pie and drink the milk that the children had left for Santa and Rudolf. Then when all the work was finished they would sit in front of the fire and say a prayer to the child who had changed the world all those centuries ago, they’d pray for peace, they’d kiss and hold each other close. Yes they were the times he remembered best about this time of year, the times when they knew love best and their years were so very full.

Sean smiled and whispered to himself so that those who stood near him didn’t hear “Wonderful, wonderful times, but my present, I must find my present”

He turned and began to walk back down the other side of Bridge Street. Past Port West, Past Gavin’s, past the cafes and the smell of freshly baked cakes and pubs filled with the sound of laughter. He came to a stop at a toy shop window and looked in. He saw sail boats and dolls, games and teddy bears. He saw them all and lost himself in the ghost of Christmas past as he remembered the faraway sound of children’s laughter. Then he felt a shiver down his spine, despite his warm coat, his hat, gloves and scarf. Sean was growing colder, he was growing tired and yet still he saw nothing, nothing that stood out and said to him “Here I am, your perfect gift”

Then as if by magic he saw it, there it was tucked away in a corner of the window high up on a shelf only just visible behind the more expensive toys. Yes there it was, the perfect gift, the most perfect gift of all. Sean entered the shop bought the gift and asked the nice girl behind the counter if she would wrap it in some lovely Christmas wrapping paper. Then he went outside and seeing a taxi he hopped in.

“Where to” the taxi driver asked,

“Castlebar hospital please” Sean replied.


Arriving at the hospital Sean paid the driver, giving him a nice tip and they wished each other a very Happy Christmas. Sean went through the revolving doors and went to the elevator, pressing the button he went up to the women’s ward, to Mary’s room.  He opened the door and went in, took of his hat,coat, gloves and scarf and he pulled the chair close to Mary. He took her hand and held it, gently stroking it.

“Hello Mary” he said, not expecting an answer and of course none came.

Sean stared at her beauty, the rest of the world saw an old woman of 80, wrinkles, frail, white hair and swollen, gnarled, arthritic joints but not Sean. With his eyes he saw those things but not with his heart. With his heart he saw a woman who had devoted her life to him, a young woman standing on a step ladder as they decorated the baby’s room, she was giggling and had paint in her hair. He saw a woman playing with the children and comforting them when they felt ill, a woman with skin that was smooth and fresh and eyes that twinkled in the light.

He heard the soft sound of her voice as she sang their children to sleep and he heard her laughter as they played in the garden kicking autumn leaves and throwing snowballs in winter.  His heart smelled her scent mixed with the salt air as they walked along Bertra Beach, they’d seen the world with lover’s eyes and he felt the comfort of waking up next to her every day.

Yes this was Mary, the Mary that Sean saw. Not the Mary connected to life by wires and tubes.

“It’s Christmas Eve Mary” Sean said softly, “I’ve brought you a present, would you like to open it or save it for tomorrow?”

Knowing that Mary couldn’t answer Sean reached for the gift and placed it on the bed beside her. “I tell you what, why don’t we open it now. See the beautiful ribbon that the girl in the shop put on it. And didn’t she choose beautiful paper to wrap it in. It’s red and has little Santa’s on it, I picked it especially for you cause I know you like it. She did a marvellous job of wrapping it up”

With aged, trembling fingers Sean unwrapped the gift and while doing so he journeyed back in time.

“The Cow’s gone dry Mary” he shouted as he walked through the door,

“What are you going to do” answered Mary.

“We’ll have to shoot her and make beef burgers for the dinner” Laughed Sean,

“I’ll put the kettle on” replied Mary.

This was their greeting every night when Sean came in from work. How it began, they couldn’t remember. Just a bit of fun, just being young and foolish. It was funny really because they didn’t live on a farm and Sean had no idea how to milk a cow, he worked in an office. All they knew was it was a bit of fun, it was their special way, no one elses. It was their special way of saying “I Love you and it’s good to be home”

Sean pulled the last of the wrapping paper from the box in which the present sat. “Here it is Mary, give me your hand” Sean drew her hand towards him so that Mary could hold the gift. Then he placed it in her palm. It was a small, fluffy toy. A black and white cow that mooed when sqeezed. The cow lay in Mary’s limp hand, Sean reached over and squeezed the cow, “Mooo, Moooo”

In the silence of the room Sean heard a quiet, soft, muffled sound. Looking from the toy to her face he saw Mary’s eyes, open and distant. Her lips moved slightly. Sean rose from his chair in disbelief. It had been months since Mary had stirred. Gently, afraid of breaking the spell Sean leaned towards Mary. He bent down and put his ear near to her mouth and said “What my dear, what did you say”

Quietly Mary whispered “What are you going to do”

Sean had never felt such a surge of joy. Those few words from Mary’s lips. What a gift, what a gift, never had there been such a wonderful gift. Tears welled up in his eyes and fell on Mary’s cheek. Our words, our special words he thought, then choking back the tears he said,

“We’ll have to shoot her and make beef burgers for the dinner”

All that night, all that holy Christmas night, Sean waited for Mary’s response but Mary lay silent. She held her cow and she gently passed into the great beyond.

Fly Agaric

Fly Agaric.

The sacred mushroom was the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom, also known as "fly agaric." These mushrooms are now commonly seen in books of fairy tales, and are usually associated with magic and fairies. This is because they contain potent hallucinogenic compounds, and were used by ancient peoples for insight and transcendental experiences.

Most of the major elements of the modern Christmas celebration, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees, magical reindeer and the giving of gifts, are originally based upon the traditions surrounding the harvest and consumption of these most sacred mushrooms.

The active ingredients of the amanita mushrooms are not metabolized by the body, and so they remain active in the urine. In fact, it is safer to drink the urine of one who has consumed the mushrooms than to eat the mushrooms directly, as many of the toxic compounds are processed and eliminated on the first pass through the body.

It was common practice among the shaman of ancient people such as the Sami of Finland, and the people of Siberia, to recycle the potent effects of the mushroom by drinking each other's urine. The amanita's ingredients can remain potent even after six passes through the human body. Some scholars argue that this is the origin of the phrase "to get pissed," as this urine-drinking activity preceded alcohol by thousands of years.

Reindeer were the sacred animals of these semi-nomadic people, as the reindeer provided food, shelter, clothing and other necessities. Reindeer are also fond of eating the amanita mushrooms; they will seek them out, and then prance about while under their influence. Often the urine of tripped-out reindeer would be consumed for its psychedelic effects.

This effect goes the other way too, as reindeer also enjoy the urine of a human, especially one who has consumed the mushrooms. In fact, reindeer will seek out human urine to drink, and some tribesmen carry sealskin containers of their own collected urine, which they use to attract stray reindeer back into the herd.

The effects of the amanita mushroom usually include sensations of size distortion and flying. The feeling of flying could account for the legends of flying reindeer.
Santa Claus, super shaman.

Although the modern image of Santa Claus was created at least in part by the advertising department of Coca-Cola, in truth his appearance, clothing, mannerisms and companions all mark him as the reincarnation of these ancient mushroom-gathering shamans.

Originally Santa Claus was not red and white, but was first depicted like this due to a seasonal link to native spiritual traditions involving hallucinogenic red and white mushrooms known as fly agaric. When it was time to go out and harvest the magical mushrooms, the ancient shamans would dress much like Santa, wearing red and white fur-trimmed coats and long black boots.

Later the Coca Cola Company would patent these colours and popularise the now universally accepted colours of Santa’s costume. One of the side effects of eating amanita mushrooms is that the skin and facial features take on a flushed, ruddy glow. This is why Santa is always shown with glowing red cheeks and nose. Even Santa's jolly "Ho, ho, ho!" is the euphoric laugh of one who has indulged in the magic fungus.

Sami Ceremony and Entheogenic Mushrooms.

The red and white fly agaric mushrooms also played a part in the aboriginal origins of the flying reindeer image that is now popularly associated with Christmas. These mushrooms, or plant teachers, have always been used in rituals involving the sacred reindeer by the shamans of the Sami tribal peoples, who are still practicing traditional lifestyles as nomadic reindeer herders in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia today.

The Koryak shamans of Siberian tribes gained notoriety in the grand western narrative of discovery when their winter solstice rituals involving the fly agaric were observed and recorded by anthropologists/adventurers, giving rise to several modern Christmas myths.

At this ceremonial time, the Koryak tribe’s people would work ritually with the mushrooms in their family tents. Their shamans would also work with the mushrooms to reach a non-ordinary state of reality that allowed them to do spirit-walking.
Spirit Walkers Bringing Gifts.

Koryak spirit walkers would visit the tents of their fellow tribesmen on their flying reindeer, the reindeer being a sacred totemic being for Sami tribal peoples. Once there, they would enter the tent through the smoke hole in the roof and distribute more mushrooms as gifts. Then they would exit through the chimney hole and fly away on their reindeer beings once again.

It has been suggested that the egg-nog Christmas tradition was even grounded in these rituals, based on the practice of tribesmen drinking the agaric-spiked urine of the shamans who had ingested the mushrooms, perhaps mixed with egg and spices to disguise the taste. (Makes you think twice about mulled wine, for that matter!).

Clearly, the origins of many western Christmas traditions such as Santa’s elves, Santa coming down the chimney, gift-giving, Santa’s colours, Santa’s home base in the Arctic North, and mistletoe can all be linked to time-honoured indigenous tribal ceremonies and customary practices.

Aboriginal Christmas Reflections.

Christmas is as good a time as any to acknowledge the contributions of indigenous peoples around the planet to the formation of global knowledge, culture and innovations since the “age of discovery”. So much of the technology, food, textiles, traditions and even mathematics that formed the basis for modern western civilisation was ‘borrowed’, or synthesised, or developed in conjunction with native peoples.

So spare a thought for the planet’s fourth-world (indigenous) peoples at Christmas time, most of who are excluded from the bounty of first-world colonies built on stolen native lands, resources and knowledge. So many Aboriginal people are even excluded from basic rights like education.

Spare a thought as well that in the ‘first world civilised countries’ (I use that term loosely) every year people spend more money on Christmas presents for their pets than it would cost to educate every third-world and fourth-world person on earth who is currently denied schooling and medical aid. Think about that over your Xmas turkey.

Ho, ho, ho.

The fly agarics’ religious connections are far reaching. It is widely thought to be the “Soma” talked about in Hindu scriptures, and some also believe it to be the “Amrita” mentioned in Buddhist scriptures. Closer to home, there is a popular myth that Nordic Viking warriors used to consume fly agaric to send them into their berserker rages, although compelling evidence for this theory is hard to find.

Another theory, again difficult to substantiate, suggests that Zulu warriors consumed fly agaric before battle during the Zulu war, and that, in part, this helped them leave the field victorious during the famous “charge of the light brigade”.

In ‘civilised’ Europe its use has given rise to the ‘little people’ such as faeries and leprechauns.

Lewis Carroll was familiar with the affects of Fly agaric, in Alice in Wonderland there is a scene where a caterpillar is sitting on a mushroom (Fly agaric) smoking a pipe. Alice is in front of him at mushroom height and she nibbles on the mushroom to make herself bigger and smaller.

After Alice in Wonderland was published images of the Fly agaric appeared in much of the Victorian literature and it was also painted on children’s toys and cradles. It continues to serve as a classical symbol of enchanted forests and magical groves-the kind of places where fairies, gnomes and all sorts of strange, wonderful and sometimes frightening creatures dwell. Familiar, mysterious and magical.


Fly Agaric is a powerful fungus, whose effects can be extremely variable and dangerous in the hands of those who do not know what they are doing (In Irish we call them Amadán).

Self-experimentation is not recommended. In particular all amanita species with a white or greenish cap should be avoided, as these are definitely very deadly.

The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as medical advice. I do not take or share in any responsibility for any events that may occur as a result of self-experimentation.

Have a great Yule, Winter Solstice and Christmas.

Don't forget those who may not be as fortunate as you, especially in this cold weather, be them human or animal we are all part of the wheel.