Freedom for Erin Go Bragh

Casey O'Brien

Casey O'Brien

When my dear friend Casey took great care and enthusiasm to familiarize me with the song he wanted to hear at his death, neither one of us had any fully-conscious idea that within one week, he would be leaving. It was, in a sense, accidental, perhaps incidental, that he should have me hunting down an Irish song on Youtube as we spoke of community, change and Revolution…just as it was by an unusual play of chance – by accident – that I would encourage our friend Bryce to take video of Casey for over thirty minutes later that same night – the last time I would see him. One week later, there was a car accident with no fatalities, but all the same, it changed the course of events in the lives of friends overnight.

It would be easy for most to understand the car as an accident, and to understand the exchange the next afternoon between Casey and the bullet as not an accident at all. With what we’re told about people in locked rooms with guns, it is harder to see two accidents here, harder still to see both as meant to be, or in accordance with a young man’s Higher Self, with what he lived to do. And yet, as in any significant act, there were so many layers operating at once. The need for distinction arises because there is the idea that nothing is accidental, and also the idea that nothing is accidental, and we should be clear about which is which: whether we mean that Casey’s actions were deliberate, or that the way of all such things is deliberate when we have set ourselves on the path set out by the Higher Self.

Casey was a builder: military trained, an engineer by day, a dedicated Mason, and I knew him as a magician – the very mortar of our Temple. Not only was he the mortar that builds the foundation, but also the mortar who, alongside the pestle, was dedicated to the act of work, to the “doing.” In a sense, he was even the mortar of strength in war, the one that turns fire into flight against the air – a builder of strength itself in the way that he worked to fortify our group, or any group he was a part of.

When we got the news, Bryce recounted to me what he once heard Jim Eshelman say about death: that we have all these strings like rubber bands connecting us to the people we love, and when one of those people dies, it is as though all the rubber bands bounce back to us at once – so many springing ends showing us what we were together and giving meaning to myriad strands of moments. I say that there is always the chance of snapping latent in the rubber band itself, and this is no accident.

Three days after his death, our Temple held a Requiem for Casey at what was his second home, the Grand Masonic Lodge in New York. Looking across that room was like looking into a mirror of who Casey was, he was the image and the being and the nexus of all his closest friends: the ones tattooed from head to toe…the Masons in their tidy suits…the family of his ex-girlfriend, who reminded me of the midwest or what we mean by American family…and the magicians. You could tell that Casey was still doing the Great Work, still building a Temple where all can show up in the freedom of exactly who they are. Even in death he was in service to create this union of opposites in one hall, the same way that he had linked them together during his life simply by being himself. And his Work is not over.

If we talk about deliberate acts, we must remember that this was a young man with a code – a young man already striding towards the path of direct communication with his Higher Self, and one whose Higher Self perhaps knew that if a hidden voice was not loud enough for him to hear yet, the code he lived by might be. In the face of just how great a recklessness we ourselves are capable of, sometimes the only response is an act of valour, and perhaps this was one such act. When he showed me the song we were to play for him, he wasn’t just telling me what song to play at his death, as though he consciously saw it coming or had made plans of his own. His Higher Self was telling me what kind of work he would be going on to: bringing the possibility of Freedom into actuality. The idea that the flag of change should be drenched in red was written in his favorite song, but it is only on Earth that Freedom’s flag is ever Red. It was time to move on to the next build. O’Brien, MacDonagh, MacDiarmada, McBryde…go on in your strength.

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