REVIEW: An Evening with Tanis Helliwell and Lloyd The Leprechaun, March 17, 2011
By Morgan Birtwistle
A buzz of excitement danced in the air during Thursday nightʼs St Patrickʼs Day event. Amidst the hum of an Irish ditty, a silhouette of a leprechaun was pasted proudly on the speakerʼs podium beckoning the crowd to join in. Shamrock balloons and streamers were hung beneath the churchʼs wooden beams, creating an ideal backdrop for a talk about woodland creatures. The audience sat patiently awaiting a glimpse of Irish magic.
Author and leprechaun linguist Tanis Helliwell was the first to take the stage. She sported a playful grin to match her black top hat with a toy leprechaun attached to the brim. The toy, she announced, is a “clone” of Lloyd her leprechaun friend who would be a guest speaker at the event. Helliwell explained to the crowd that she had auditioned Lloyd in an effort to prepare for the event, however Lloyd had plans of his own. He decided that he wanted to be the ʻMister of Ceremonyʻ, and his essence would be channeled through Helliwell. She was a bit unsure of the plan, but prayed that Lloyd would behave himself.
Helliwell recounted how she had first met Lloyd while staying in a haunted cottage in Ireland. According to her, and legend, leprechauns rarely show themselves to humans and seldom, if ever, tell a human their name. Helliwell was fortunate not only to see a leprechaun, but also to get properly acquainted with him. She calls him Lloyd, although thatʼs not his real name, and has agreed to help him get the word out about Elementals and ʻThe Craicʼ (pronounced Crack).
The Irish have black humour, according to Helliwell, the more things go wrong the funnier life is. She clarified the meaning of ʻThe Craicʼ by explaining; “When you make all these plans and rehearse it perfectly and then it goes awry”. She delved further into this way of being by saying, “The leprechaunsʼ lesson [to humans] is to accept everything as presented. Let go of attachments to having things our way”. Much to the audienceʼs delight, Helliwell – a storyteller in her own right – shared many stories of how things can and do go wrong; truly “profound Craic” as she calls it. This caused giggles and tears of joy as the crowd recognized their own lives through her words. The bottom line of her stories came down to this: “Do it all with a great sense of humour”.
Denise Hagan, an Irish Inspirational Sacred Performer, then took the stage. She spoke of Elementals and how most people believe them to be cartoon characters, nothing more than figments of imagination. Hagan assured the audience that, “its her direct experience that they are not [make believe]”. Her first song about Elementals titled “All of Godʼs Creatures got a place in the Choir” was meant to encourage any skeptics in the audience to keep an open mind. She continued to serenade with songs ranging from foot-stomping crowd pleasers to hauntingly beautiful melodies which echoed the sounds of nature. “Elementals are about joy, dancing, and movement” according to Hagan, “and its only a matter of time before humans realize that we rely so much on the Elementals who care for nature”.
The evening drew to a close with Helliwell and Hagan joining together in leading a group meditation. Hagan gently played the flute as Helliwell guided the audience through a blissful, nature guided tour of the earth in all its glory. Their guidance echoed the sentiments of the early evening, with loving suggestions for people to see the best in others and to stay focused on finding happiness despite whatʼs occurring all around us.
(For more photos of the event, link here.)
A review of the book can be found here at ReviewVancouver.