Ursula K. Le Guin: The Maenads

There is something in the collective solemnity of this image of the Maenads written by Le Guin. Something profoundly powerful, silent and timeless. Something which reminds me of one of the Matrixial stories told at a session in The Lab, in Dublin. An exhausted, pregnant Mother in the Airport really needed a seat. The men took up all the nearby seats beside the door so she sild down the wall and sat on the floor. Then the women came. They got her a seat somehow and gathered around her and she knew she was safe because the women protecting her were mothers. They located her partner, got her water and something to eat and made sure her partner understood what she needed. They stood around her and she knew she was safe.
Le Guin creates a similar, powerful image with the following poem.

The Maenads were followers of Dionysus, important members of the Thiasus. The Thiasus was the parade of inebriated revelers. But I think that inebriated in this case can mean ecstatic. When I think of the word ecstatic I don't think of being out of control but rather connected to a different kind of powerful energy which is greater than the bounds of our own regular perception. An energy which allows us to see-feel- move with something infinite.
Anyway here is the poem.

The Maenads
Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 - 2018

Somewhere I read
that when they finally staggered off the mountain
into some strange town, past drunk,
hoarse, half naked, blear-eyed,
blood dried under broken nails
and across young thighs,
but still jeering and joking, still trying
to dance, lurching and yelling, but falling
dead asleep by the market stalls,
sprawled helpless, flat out, then
middle-aged women,
respectable housewives,
would come and stand nightlong in the agora
as ewes and cows in the night fields,
guarding, watching them
as their mothers
watched over them.
And no man
that fierce decorum.

Origin: Response to the Dublin Matrix Meeting. 23.11.2018


In response to Dublin Matrix  23.11.’18, The Lab.


We’ll continue then into the void.

Not pretending anymore that we can see

or feel the shame.

A gentler host in central singularity provides

A short reprieve..

She’ll take the reigns and pull

around so we can feel the movement

Shift the frame infinitely.

Movements not ours to make

so much as to attune to.

Stepping in I step with her

or on

The void now in recursion

has her own sub sonic rhythm.

Deeper listening

Bodies vibrate down to sound

we harness through reverberations

Confounding, once again, the frame which

fails to name us.

Only the darkness propositions light.

Making minor movements to compose the differential.

Releasing ancient voices from their plight, poised indefinitely at the loop.

The matrix resonates her tidal forces to potential,

raging through indifference

to bring us here together with a powerful momentum.

Limerick Origin2018-11-19 at 12.14.27.jpg

Reflection on my first week as artist in residence at Dance Limerick

Residency dates: 24 September - 5 October

As part of this residency at Dance Limerick I gave a series of workshops to mothers in the studio exploring the skills and abilities which we have acquired through our continuing development into mothers and how we may frame these skills in a positive and valuable way.  

My artistic interest lies in an embodied practice which draws together voice and movement, society, stories and health. Since I got pregnant and became a mother I have been intrigued by the ongoing changes which occur in my body; Neural re-modelling and how our ceaseless movement can be perceived as a continuum from the cellular to the social and from the individual to the cosmic. Is what happens inside my body mirrored in society? Should it be?

I’m trying to find ways through my practice to explore Bracha Ettingers Matrixial theory which aims to rethink the masculine-feminine opposition, the matrixial gaze which is like a moment we share before meaning forms “a dimension of emergence, where objects, images, and meanings are glimpsed in their incipiency, before they are differentiated’.

I have been investigating male microchimerism in the female brain: the migration of fetal cells through the placenta during pregnancy. These cells engraft maternal tissues and, eventually, become her. Once they infiltrate the host they differentiate, replicate and proliferate. How could  this affect the mothers health, decision making and powers? Nature at work.

Identity then becomes a new question for me. What is m/other? An infinity of engaged systems. Mutation. Alien cells colonizing my body to what effect? Ebbing and flowing. Forming and unforming and reforming. You suck me in, I pushed you out.

Interdimensional travel; Another other sense, extra feminine difference, the waves of breath, the vast and inter-dependent multiplicity of the sea. The matrix is the place from where things grow. Ideas, concepts, humans. Buoyancy, support and connectedness.

I left my centre behind, it had been so full and so rooted. After giving birth to the I-that-is-not-I, I forgot about my belly. No, I loathed it.  It felt less than, watery, scarred, abandoned, an empty warehouse….  Some dysfunctional appearance of the belly breeding an exhausted, negligence of myself. So I aim to reconnect with my centre by dismantling the perceptions which have been allowed to infiltrate my sense of “I”.  Revaluing my skills even against a consumerist background, in parallel, working with and allowing new connections to grow. I seek support from appropriate places and I nurture a support-seeking society. I meet the mothers and we focus our powers.

I am placing the maternal as-a-state-of-being in the world at the centre of my quest. There are cells from my daughters fathers family living in my body, becoming me, nature is always at work. What kind of world could evolve if we prioritise the powers of the origin?

Umbilical Breath.
To me it feels like organs moving over each
and for each other.
A liquid breath which has an oozing quality, spreading through the layers of the body.
Gravity assists.
Eventually you gasp for breath.
How lovely.

With special thanks to Jenny, Emer and Gearoid at Dance Limerick. Stephanie Felber, Ailbhe Keoghan, Robin Palmer, Alexis Clancy and all the mothers who gave their time and their stories to this work.

Boundling Landscape.jpg

look at the vocal folds in action

Miriam van Mersbergen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University, and a professionally trained singer. You can see the little gap in the back where the folds dont come together properly and there is an air leak, this is a cultural norm for a breathy American voice. It can be corrected but it is not necessary. Very nice pearly white folds coming together and apart gently as they should. Enjoy!

Nayyirah Waheed:

the ocean
can calm itself,
so can you.
are both
salt water
mixed with

photographer: Astrid Walsh

photographer: Astrid Walsh

That kind of Friend

So many friends spring to mind when I see this video. People who have stood near and engaged gently when I needed respectful supervision. Those who I have played beside in the field and we keep an eye on each other. Silent walks in the woods. Synchronised, psychic, embodied adventures.

Bounding. Work has begun.

Birds with great wings.

What is Bounding? What is meditation? What is dancing? The Dublin Dance Festival 2017 has begun. I'm inspired.  Lets Move.

Bounding like " Hornbills with great wings who rise through clouds to distant mountains, a Dream like rhythm which flows in and out of the mind like the surge and fall of the sea.."

M/Other--- Research Thoughts



For the research


Our mothers were our first firmament, literally, our first homes, the universe from whose substance we were formed.

Guardian.David Fergusun

March 2016


For a long time I have been looking at the overall system of parenting in a consumer-driven environment.

Rather than get involved in how the environment can change bit by bit to accommodate the parent I have been rattling the structure in the hope that it will topple and with it all its narrow and oppressive views of women as m/other.


Other: M






My needs.

 My brain transforms during pregnancy, it refines to become more proficient at specific duties and tasks. The job of mothering becomes psycho- physical like the way an expert in science or an athletes body forms around their speciality. Only mothering is not considered an expertise.

My old brain changes and I have this new brain. The change begins in the brain in a very physical way when I am pregnant. Baby brain- they call it. We.

No more casual meet ups, everything is prearranged. Social spontaneity is a rarity.

Time to be an artist. Falls away. At first you don't notice because you are trying to keep this external organ alive and germ free. My own heart pumping in my hands.

Then after time, not practicing enough, not being on the scene, not being the same person your skills change, your priorities changes, your semiosphere is altered, enhanced but from the outside….. ? Does it? I am fatter. I talk about my child. My life. Life.

Life becomes 100% different although it looks and smells the same, the whole concept of time and space has altered entirely. Only you can see it... and they talk about getting “Back' to where you were, your old self in no time etc... Changing time is also on me now.

The Otherness of M/Other

My-selves falling away to make space for this new self which is focused entirely on growing the human I have made. The central human. The child. The I-not-I. The other inside my body, my new organ. The new part of myself. The I that is not I but which reforms my self..

 My body liquiform and fluid feeds and Mumumy breasts become everything. I become food. I become shelter. I become semiosphere. I become protector. I become the root of a new family.  I become life-support.

The nursing relationship which requires external support to be profoundly successful…. I did my best.

Contemporary society has worked hard to isolate us so we can be truly alone in this work.

The consumer driven background against which we grapple for support de-values mothering so when we struggle and beg for help or demand or become desperate we are instead labeled with disorders such as PND and given zanex and told to feed our babies formula to relieve the pressure. Formula causes dehydration and diarrhea and globally is the cause of most child death under 5. Not everyone can read.

Then we are told to go back to work. I am working already though. The transition to M/Otherhood was a solitary one for me. If I needed help I was deemed to have 'a special requirement” and was referred to an organisation. Its as if the horrors of transformation don't apply to this, the most profound transformation of all. One is expected to know what to do, and enjoy it!

Childcare: Paying someone else to rare our child. So that we may go 'back' to 'work' and be 'valued' again, feel valued, but not as much as 'back then' because we are worried about our child in the hands of the incompetent, uninvested, untrained and ultimately not mother.

Our child becomes unmothered. (I read this in an article somewhere.-I relate)

I do not play out my political grievances on my child. I don't practice my parenting on politics nor politics on parenting.

I should perhaps?

When the world believes that parenting is a vital part of building a healthy society, we will build a healthy society.

If we cannot change the belief that money is the key to success: acknowledgement of labor, value, respect then we must pay parents to do their job well.

How do we monitor the job well done?

Do we monitor it?

Do we provide enough support and shelter for everyone so that we don’t have to struggle to survive? So that we can focus on rearing healthy children? Building that healthy society. Embrace the free market, sure. Embrace our social duty, sure. Value empathy and compassion, intuition and inspiration and all the other vital skills learned as m/other, sure.

Keep the kids out of the courts, off the streets, help them find healthy relationships, a meaningful life path. Imbue in them a sense that they are enough, worthwhile, loved and recognized in the eyes of the ones that they love.

I see a trace in the fabric of time-space which could be carved out more clearly so that its easier to walk or dance on.



I a M/Other.





origin, prisoner, therapist, machine, priest, patient,

origin, prisoner, therapist, machine, priest, patient,

Active Kindism

In this project the goal was to make a public action on the streets of Cork city Ireland which raised awareness of a specific global issue. We had to engage creatively with our approach to promoting our values and encouraging people to live as Global Citizens.

My collaborators and I were not sure of which of the many issues that we connected with individually would be best for this collective endeavour. After some time of chatting and offering ideas for topics to work on, I made a suggestion that we make our decision through an alternative process.

What do we feel like doing today? I had noticed that my energy was low and I really didn't want to stand on the street trying to convince people that the impact of global warming was real or that feminism is an imperative for the equitable advancement of the human race. Not today! I did, however, want to sit and drink tea, have a chat and maybe draw a picture. We went around the group each talking for a while about what we felt like doing, trying to be mindful about avoiding the trap of linking the feeling to a specific global cause.

It came about that the common cause for us was connection with self and others. We were sitting around a table and really enjoyed that dynamic; the intimate chat, the tea, the sketching ideas on a communal page watching the project emerge as a result of connecting with and sharing our feelings. It was clear that this format was a preferable way of continuing this work.

I remembered that I had read a book by Depak Chopra a long time ago and was very inspired by the way he articulated neuroplasticity and how mirror neurons work through discussing Kindness. I offered this suggestion of connection with others through the spirit of kindness as a way into clarifying the intention of the project. Karina was very interested in this idea as she had already been working on the subject of learning about Kindness with the children in her project at work. Declan and Nina were also in agreement about developing this idea so we had further clarity through synchronicity.

After that we just had to organise the logistics of setting up a visible and accessible space in town, get the furniture, art supplies and the tea sorted and continue the conversation, inviting others to get involved.

We set up three 8 ft blackboards and provided chalk for people to write and draw about their experiences of Kindness.

We set up three 8 ft blackboards and provided chalk for people to write and draw about their experiences of Kindness.

People connecting in their own way.

Meeting new people and spending time talking about and thinking about what is kindness? When is that last time I was kind to someone?

Meeting new people and spending time talking about and thinking about what is kindness? When is that last time I was kind to someone?

People really engaged with this action in a thoughtful and considered way.

People really engaged with this action in a thoughtful and considered way.

Moving Not Moving. go.

lying on my back. soften to the ground. warm back, negotiating the new layers of resistance, inviting my muscles to melt into the ground.....water, heat, breathe. Exhale and surrender to the space beneath me. Water, warmth, surrender. Contemplate letting go, releasing my weight, accepting the support the ground has to offer. Rippling through my psychology the obstacles re-flex, and again I negotiate the patterns preventing my relaxation. Don't think now, its the physical act I need to... let go. The thoughts and questions will inevitably come later. Soften hands and feet, tongue and jaw and watery sensation a flood beneath my tongue and it may flow out and trickle down my face, I will endeavor to feel it as it happens. Its only me here, in my barely moving body, humming and pulsing, gentle shifts to release and nervous twitches.  I notice the space above me, between the ceiling and where I perceive my eyes to be and close them and I imagine the infinite. Release upwards and down simultaneously. As long as the breath stays normal, gentle, effortless the body will respond, a simple horizontal.

How easy is my spine? How easy is my jaw? My groin?

And the questions bang through my skull and into my stomach, food, revenge, hurt, to do, to be, how I cope with the overwhelming question of time. When can I work again? Breathe. Here now. release into the floor. There is only now. Fight to be here. Be.

Near Broken Bones

Soft and torn tiny knee and grazed hands.

Clever one catching the momentum.

Any more stones embedded there? We'll extract them now

And stories to distract us

From the gruesome task and then

We'll set them by and know they came close to the bone.

But those ones stuck inside,

That got in through the ears and eyes,

They've keen edges those subtle knives.

Slice open and lay bare.

A thousand silent tears fall again to dishwater and grey pillows.

Another thousand resolutions to open windows

And let the air blow through.

That silence maker.

That breaker of spirits.

That invisible line between love and hate

That strong-arming bone shaker.

A length and breath...


A circumstance in which... something else... can happen.

Make new patterns

And re-examine the old ones

So they can be broken

And let the bones

Remain intact.

Reflection on Kwyer Practice

Last evenings Kwyer practice opened with some gentle cranio- sacral work to create an open and balanced state for singing. The singers found this a very relaxing way to begin the class. Releasing tension from the base of the skull, the neck and shoulders and the hips/base of spine while stimulating these nerve centre’s helped to increase visualization and freedom of visual and verbal association in the improvisation. The spirit in the room was developing from a non judgmental  attitude towards their own voices and the limits of their creativity as a group.

A very soft vocal warm-up focusing the voice internally; gently waking up the inside of the body before emerging to relate to space and other voices helped to maintain a rich texture of commitment and creativity from the singers. Having decided to focus this class on listening we sang blind for the duration of the class. This helped the singers to focus on their internal visual stimulus and hear the sound of every voice in the space as part of their own.

The improvisations were  soft, intricate and beautifully pitched revealing a deep understanding of timing and harmony while creating space for new ideas and a constant sense of surprise and momentum. The emergent theme of the evening was ‘motion’.

Thoughts on Kwyer Practice

Group vocal Improvising...can move us beyond creative dialogue, where we immerse ourselves in the body-voice for our own practice and pleasure but as a way to intersect with and become the universal body through song. It allows a larger understanding of ourselves as humans being and how we relate and connect to ourselves, each other and our environment.

A Beginning...

Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
He got ju ju eyeball he one holy-roller
He got hair down to his knees
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me

He bag production he got walrus gumboot
He got ono sideboard he one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease
Come together right now over me

He roller-coaster he got early warning
He got muddy water he one mojo filter
He say "one and one and one is three"
Got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see
Come together right now over me

Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul Mccartney