‘The Battle of Moytura Or The Battle for the Soul of Ireland’:- why ecoliteracy for the arts is essential now

A new work from Irish writer Fearghal Duffy who has a deep interest in Irish myth and who was ‘a student’ in Cathy Fitzgerald’s first ONLINE 6-week ‘Haumea Ecoliteracy for Creatives and Art Educators’ course. online course

This is a special post for me. I’m reflecting on the first of what I expect to be many more contributions from ecoliterate creatives I am getting to know in my online ecoliteracy course. I now have the good fortune to meet such talented creatives from all art disciplines and from across the world, in my efforts to bring ecoliteracy to the arts. Their work has nourished me in these challenging times.

I’d like to share this new work below from Irish writer Fearghal Duffy who has a deep interest in Irish myth and who was a ‘participant’ in my first 6-week ‘Haumea Ecoliteracy for Creatives and Art Educators’ pilot online course (I hesitate to call my cohort ‘students’ as they are remarkably talented).

This new work from Fearghal came about as I invited my first cohort of participants to present a small work for our last online Zoom group meeting, to reflect on the ecoliteracy course material, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Haumea Day (Haumea is the name for the Earth Goddess of the Pacific that I use for my work, and our last meeting was on this special day). I gave little direction to what people could present but I was witness to an astonishing array of thoughtful, profound and moving work for these uncertain times.

Fearghal gifted this work to us (and to share to others here). He drew on the people in our fantastically creative group–dancers, makers, a sculptor, painters, a philosopher, writers, a graphic artist, a broadcaster, artists and art teachers–many of who were Irish or who have connections to Ireland. Fearghal mixed a spell to recast us as mythic cultural warriors and presented Haumea in one of her Irish mythic guises as the Morrigán. This essay powerfully captures the spirit of what might happen if the arts were supported to rise up for Earth, for Haumea. Oh, my!

Thank you so much Fearghal for this essay, this timely provocation to the arts and those that support them. This new myth of Moytura is everything I could envision for the arts in Ireland and across the Earth, to embody and inspire ‘the wisdom, love and beauty’ we will need for a renewed and regenerating culture for the Earth’s and our wellbeing.

Because, in this frightening pandemic pause, we will need inspiring and wise creativity to pivot toward a more just, more beautiful and life-sustaining way of living as never before, for The Symbiocene era as I have written of previously. Also, and I’m delighted to share that my artist friend and tech-business mentor Mary Carty, who has long supported my Haumea work, supplied the wonderful illustrations. The references to ‘Wisdom, Love and Beauty’ are from my collaborator eco-philosopher friend, Dr Nikos Patedakis who has co-hosted my course meetings and so much more.


The Battle of Moytura

Or

The Battle for the Soul of Ireland

by Fearghal Duffy

presented to the first online Haumea Ecoliteracy group, Earth Day 22 April 2020

‘Beauty, Love and Wisdom’ (aka Haumea) by Mary Carty 2020 (courtesy of the artist)

Once upon a time, a great battle, the battle of Moytura was fought between the ancients of Ireland, the Túatha Dé (The Tribe of the Gods) and The Fomorians.

These two groups could not have been more different.

The Túatha Dé spent their time seeking wisdom, developing poetic insight, learning lore and practicing mysticism. Their artistic endeavours harmonized them to the natural world, so much so that they often became transparent to the places they inhabited, rendering them virtually invisible when encountered in a forest, on a mountain, or in a wetland.

The Fomorians were their complete antithesis. They had assumed a grotesque and horrific appearance, an ugliness that had shaped them over time, roughhewn by their avarice and insensitivity to nature. They treated nature with contempt. They treated the arts with contempt. They had no heed in wisdom, love and beauty. They were utterly hostile to them all.

The Fomorians, through subterfuge and deceit, had seized control of Ireland from the Túatha Dé. During their reign they abolished the arts. They undermined culture. “No value, useless”, they mocked. They debased artists, poets, and philosophers, subjecting them to menial tasks. They deracinated ancient forests. They dammed rivers. They contaminated lakes. They emptied the sea of its fish. They mined out mountains and plundered the deep earth. They despoiled and denuded entire landscapes, turning them into industrialized wastelands. Black smoke and filthy ash enshrouded the earth. Soon enough, birdsong was no longer heard, bees were no longer buzzing, flowers were no longer pollinated, stags were no longer bellowing from their wild places, the howling of wolves were no longer heard, forests no longer poured forth their fruits. The earth had ceased to sing its song during their reign. Despite the commercial wealth, it was an impoverished world. It was a dejected world, a world weighed down with solastalgia. And for reasons no one could fathom, the people who had been inveigled and enslaved by the Fomorians had themselves become like Fomorians. They developed Fomorian dispositions. They no longer loved nature, no longer loved wisdom, love and beauty. Their only concern was consuming; consuming, consuming, consuming.

But the Túatha Dé regrouped and decided something had to be done. They assembled the aés dana, the people of arts, their artists, poets, and philosophers. They endeavoured to work together, to collaborate by drawing upon their respective ancient tradition, their learning and wisdom, and to reinvent it, to reimagine it, to find new ways of speaking to and for nature, to first, revitalise themselves, then to revitalise nature, and then the hearts and minds of those enslaved, to break the Fomorian spell that had been cast over them.

And so, through their arts, by connecting with the imbas forosna, the great wisdom that illuminates, the Túatha Dé invoked nature. By so doing, they invoked their own true nature, their own deep nature. They entered into mystical states of being; gaining renewed otherworldly vision and perception. And so began the process of revivifying the spirit of nature. They recited earth healing poetry and myths. They sang earth healing songs. They danced earth healing dances. And soon enough, the earth itself joined in with all their creative energies and the rivers burst free of their dams, lakes detoxed, wild flowers sprang forth in cacophonies of colour, native broad leaf trees erupted earnestly from the earth, sonorous birds sang symphonically from their branches.

And as nature healed, the Túatha Dé grew stronger in courage and conviction. They were ready for battle with the Fomorians. Nature rowed in behind the Túatha Dé. The sun scorched the Fomorians. Rivers and lakes withdrew their healing waters from the Fomorians. Healing herbs disguised themselves from the Fomorians. The mountains hurled boulders down on their armies. The winds and rains assailed them. Before long, the Fomorian army has been all but defeated.

But the inevitable climax of the battle came down to being between the two champions of each tribe. For the Túatha Dé it was Lug Samildanach (i.e. Lug, he is who is skilled in many arts). For the Fomorians, it was Balor Súil Míldagach, Balor of the Evil Eye, Balor of the Poisonous Eye, Balor of the Economic Eye, Balor of the Ecocidal Eye. Balor’s eyelid was so large that it took four strong warriors to raise it open. Whatever Balor’s eye gazed upon became diminished and destroyed. A large forest could be razed in seconds by a more glimpse of Balor’s Ecocidal Eye.

But Lug, being skilled in many arts, meditated deeply, set his intentions; so that when it came time to do battle he was in such a deep transcendent state, that he bedazzled his foe with his radiating light. And when his evil eye was raised, Lug seized his sling and stone, and drove the ecocidal eye out through the back of Balor’s head. Its withering gaze fell upon the last of the Fomorian army, and destroyed them.

Nature healed. Culture healed. These two realms that had been separated overcame the distinctions between them so that, once again, to be living in Ireland was to be living in nature’s dream of itself.

But, lest it be forgotten that an eye and a mind can turn destructive, can turn poisonous, can turn ecocidal, can reduce everything in its sight and thought to a commodity, the Morrigán, the Great Queen, an Earth Mother, uttered a prophetic warning. She augured to the royal heights of Ireland, to its rivers and lakes, and its inhabitants, both human and more-than-human, that a time would return when the Fomorian disposition prevailed:

The Morrigán’s Prophecy

‘Wisdom’ – the Morrigán, the Great Queen, an Earth Mother, Haumea by Mary Carty 2020

I shall not see a world that will be dear to me,
summer pastures will be without wild flowers and herbs,
cows will be without native grasses,
men without vision,
women without influence,
there will be conquests without kings,
global cartels,
chemical weapons
knowing no borders,
transverse lands.

I see,
sombre woods without mast,
forests without flora,
terrains without fauna,
seas without fish.
Armies fight storms,
many habitations abandoned,
their dwellings empty,
lakes, rivers, estuaries forsaken,
high hills will be refuge,
oceans will flood over many realms,
welcome to catastrophe!
laments for the arts and culture,


I see,
All faces,
Withering in guilt,
Shrivelling with grief,
Solastalgia,
Many crimes against earth
Wars against nature,
Betrayal by legislators
A shroud of sorrows,
Lying maxims of authorities,
Every man a deceiver
Every youth corrupted
The son will follow his father’s lead
The father will lead his son astray,
No longer following nature’s way.
Evil is the time
When children dishonour their mother Earth.

The Morrigán then exhorted the multitudes to honour the earth,

that by doing so, they would honour themselves.
By exalting the earth, they would exalt themselves.
By caring for the earth, they would care for themselves.

By being true to the Earth, they would be true to their true selves.


See more of Fearghal’s writing here.


PS – If you work in the arts, if you love and value the arts even more so now for these urgent times, please feel free to share! And if you are interested in my course, workshops, mentoring or cultural policy writing, please email me at cathyart@gmail.com or follow this site or on Instagram.


Hello! Kia Ora! My name is Cathy Fitzgerald, and I’m an Irish-based New Zealander living in rural Ireland these past 20 years.

Since the late 1990s, I have been inspired by the emergent art and ecology field in visual culture, and later, more specifically in contemporary ecological art practice and research.

Cathy Fitzgerald
Cathy Fitzgerald, PhD by Practice: eco-social artist | educator | researcher |

“I’m passionate about bringing ecoliteracy to the art sector. Creatives, if informed with basic ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge), can ‘translate’ the science relevant to their diverse urban and rural communities and audiences. Informed by ecoliteracy, creatives are well skilled to develop inclusive work to help us all reflect and envision the more beautiful, just and better world we know is possible. And this is an urgent task, given that the pandemic is seen as another symptom of the ecological emergency.

Innovative 6-week online ‘Ecoliteracy course for Creatives and Art Educators’–seen as a success on Earth Day 2020

Haumea Ecoliteracy Services
for the arts

ABOVE: ‘The Rapunzel Tree’ – new painting courtesy of Irish artist Rachel Webb, April 2020

In this planetary pause, there is more awareness that we need to live well with the Earth’s wider community of life. Creative practices–informed by ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge)–will have important social power to invite society to reflect and reimagine the better world we know is possible. Cathy Fitzgerald PhD., launched an innovative 6-week online ecoliteracy course for creatives that coincided with the pandemic. She reflects now that an accessible and engaging ecoliteracy education for our art sector shouldn’t cost the Earth.


“Today, is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and I’m hosting the final live Zoom meeting of my pilot 6-week ecoliteracy for creatives course. My course has been timely–I have found a relatively low-cost means to share my eco-social art practice experience and knowledge of advances in the art and ecology area in an engaging way–with creatives and art professionals from across the world: from different parts of Ireland, the UK, Sweden, the US and Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Cathy Fitzgerald, Haumea Ecoliteracy for the Arts – http://www.haumea.ie
April 22, 2020: the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

I have developed this course since experiencing firsthand the struggles in gaining learning in the art and ecology area. I mentioned the under-explored opportunities for e-learning for ecoliteracy for the still marginal art and ecology field at the end of my doctoral thesis (Fitzgerald, 2018). I felt compelled to learn how to design an online course over the last number of years, as creatives are coming to my door and emailing me for advice. To equip creatives and art professionals with ecoliteracy will enable deeper reflection of why the dominant culture is so utterly alienated from life, and assist them in more skilful ways to envisioning a more just and beautiful world.

Ecoliteracy is not widely available as a topic in art colleges. The main reason is the historic divide between the arts and sciences. This situation means that many creatives now sense that a deeper knowledge of the ecological emergency is needed but are struggling to obtain ecological learning; art educators and other art professionals also haven’t had ready access to this knowledge. In these times of accelerating global degradation to the living world, I also wanted to create to course to reflect ecological values. I don’t travel for my ecoart work when I can avoid it – but, I didn’t expect my online course to begin just as the pandemic caused a worldwide shutdown.

I have been so very fortunate to develop this new ecoliteracy course over the last year. Many creative workers and educators generously spent time answering a survey so I could pinpoint topics to cover.

In weekly modules during my first pilot course, I offer comprehensive modules so participants can deeply:

  • understand the paradigm shift that an ecological worldview presents;
  • why adopting psycho-social practices are necessary to prevent burnout with this challenging topic;
  • as a former scientist, I share how to navigate environmental science with ease, and introduce the UN SDGs, moral philosophy, the Earth Charter and why developing laws to prevent manmade ecocide are critical;
  • I also share how expanded care for Earth’s wellbeing correspondingly confronts conventions in modernist ideas of individualistic art practice;
  • and something I really found useful was interviewing practitioners working in this area, like Irish based artists Lisa Fingleton, Jules Michael and Martin Lyttle but also others from other countries who I know from my research over the years (see the full course details here). My first cohort loved hearing other creative practitioners’ rich experiences in working with an Earth-aligned focus.

The pilot course was booked out in days and this is largely because I’ve had incredible support from: my Local Carlow Enterprise Board; the Carlow Arts Office; my fantastic art-tech and online course building mentors, Mary Carty and Jim Wright of Mirasee (Canada). Then there were special collaborators – philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis and from the healing fields, Veronica Larsson, who have enriched the course in ways I could not achieve alone.

But most of all, at this point, I want to thank my first cohort of participants. My pilot course was a bit rough around the edges, my broadband speed could have been faster, but nevertheless each participant has given feedback so I can develop the course further, as they too want others in the art sector to know about this important topic.

Tonight we are celebrating that one can face most things with creativity and collective goodwill–we were sharing small works for Earth Day, for Haumea, the name of the Earth Goddess that I use for my ecoliteracy learning work.

If you are interested in this online course, I will be running another in a few weeks.

Please email me at cathyart@gmail.com if you wish to be put on my mailing list for my next course announcements.

I’m also pleased to announce I’m developing a new complementary course with eco-philosopher Nikos Patedakis, as we both sense a need for a course that explores how art, ecology and philosophy can assist us in being the best creatives we can be, in these challenging times.


About Haumea Ecoliteracy Essentials On-Line Course Development

During February 2019, I was awarded a Carlow Local Enterprise Feasibility Study Award to explore online course development with support from the Carlow Local Enterprise Office and business mentor Bernie Tracey. The Feasibility Study Award allowed me mentorship with the Canadian Online Course Builders Laboratory by MIRASEE and award-winning Irish art-business-tech mentor Mary Carty. I delivered a live ecoliteracy workshop in November 2019, with the support of the Carlow Arts Office and the course programme has been greatly enriched with the knowledge and experience of Dr Nikos Patedakis and Veronica Larsson. Thank you all!

Carlow Local Enterprise Office, with thanks to Pauline Hoctor & Business Mentor Bernie Treacy.
The Course Builders’ Laboratory Programme developed by Educational Entrepreneur and Author, Danny Iny. My mentor at MIRASEE is Jim Wright.
Eco-philosopher coach/mentor Dr Nikos Patedakis

The power of our collective voices for a living, just Earth: from Rachel to Greta

Its been heartening to see the voices raised for the planet in the last few months since the international Climate Change Panel (2018), the WWF (2018) have starkly given a timeframe of little over a decade to address the intersecting eco-social emergencies that are accelerating around us.


We can all be empowered to do the same in our communities – asking all politicians and those with power to address these issues as the number 1 priority for a just, equitable, world.


So many people have inspired my work but I’m so aware that it has often been women, feminists and others on the margins, those in the global south, those in male-dominated domains and industries, who have contributed so much to raising global consciousness about safeguarding the only liveable planet we know. I dedicate my Haumea work to all the women, feminists and others who have bravely spoken for a living, just Earth.

I dedicate my work to all the women, feminists and others — mothers, sisters, scientists, writers, academics, artists, musicians, theorists and theatre-makers, comedians, poets, presidents, feminists (many men are feminists you know), farmers, gardeners, lawyers, philosophers, women in tech, women carers and teenage girls who are empowering us all to raise our voices to safeguard the only beautiful, life-giving home we have.

From Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) to Greta Thunberg’s ‘School Strike for Climate’ (2018 ongoing) inspiring the youth around the world – thank you all!