Most of us adjusted our clocks to keep up with The Changing of the Clocks: Daylight Saving Time (“Daylight Time”). And the world keeps on turning.

watch If the yearly changing of clocks is important for the economy and for the normal operation of living, we can be aware of what a big deal it really is.

However, it is a small instance in our being involved in rite, ritual, and myth.

Ritual plays such an important role in the life of an aware human, and knowledge of ritual and mythology makes us aware of the bond that unites us all to one another.

If you need to delve into this “myth thing,” read and study Frazer, Frye, Eliade, Wheelwright; then worlds open up reading Jung, Milton, Whitman, and Joyce. There is no end to discovering, to making connections, to becoming aware of how contemporary faiths and practices are united with/by “archaic” realities. And in the widest range possible, “faiths and practices” can even include setting back or ahead a timepiece or the Dashboard Clock.

How I do something or how I am told to do something is RITE: How to color Easter eggs.


The actual coloring is the Annual RITUAL, including hiding the eggs, making baskets, and making chocolate disappear.

MYTH is a true story that is precious, contains special elements, and is usually religious or “sacred.” (This is the story of “Once upon a time . . .”: Easter Bunny, tombs, rolling back a stone, angels passing over, etc.) We need to get used to NOT saying, “It’s a myth.” (Maybe in Shakespeare in Love, “It’s a mystery” has more meaning than appears.)

A MYTH is a narrative and an expression of ultimate reality, a statement of value: “I believe this.” Even if it’s an Easter Bunny, the Paschal Lamb, or Passover . . . or changing the time. We express, “We believe,” then act accordingly as those who have done before us from the beginning.

From here, we go to see the timepiece, the clock, as more than a time change but rather as a renewal of and re-living the myth: spring (or autumn). And all that spring announces, like dawn or birth or green (however, after the snow is finally gone), or revival, defeat of darkness of winter (resurrection?).

This is Spring. (April may be the cruelest month, but April showers bring May flowers . . .)

Living a MYTH implies a genuinely religious experience. We live it ceremonially or by performing the ritual: Easter bonnets, those Easter Parades (any parade!). In one way or another, we “live” the myth in the sense that we are “seized by the sacred, exalting power of the events recollected or re-enacted” (Mircea Eliade).

All those little things we do at this time of the year, “religious” or sacred or “profane,” take us on that journey of awareness, that ritual of discovery of our origins and of who we are: humans.

It’s no big deal, just a clock and egg and a bunny and a . . . .

© James F. O’Neil





Nickname: “A name added to or substituted for the proper name of a person; some descriptive or familiar name given or received, sometimes humorous, sometimes sarcastic, some one of affection or ridicule.  Often, more likely, a shortened version of a person’s given name.”

Nicknames are certainly interesting, as is the word itself.

My wife and I were watching a TV doctor/hospital show.  The heroine’s nickname is “Pit.”  Why that?, the characters asked.  As she raised her arms in embarrassment, to rub her head, she had wet perspiration marks in the armpits of her scrubs.  Thus, “Pit.” 

I was curious about what “Old Nick,” “Saint Nick,” and “in the nick of time” had in common.  I was especially curious when I saw the movie Omen III.  An old fish, a pike, if I recall, lived in a lake.  Its name was “Old Nick.”  Since the movie is about Satan, this was worth some research.

“Saint Nick” or “Old Saint Nick”–even “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”–are common expressions in December, on 6 December especially. 

So, like Nicholas becoming “Nick,” we have “Peg” or “Peggy”–and “Peg-o-My Heart” for Margaret.  Peter is “Pete” and Richard is…well, “Rick” (as in Casablanca’s “Rick’s Café Américain”).  But also “Dick.”  That?  Ouch!  Double-entendre here?  Because he could be a….  Ah, you can work that one out.  I grew up knowing that a penis was a “peter” (or even a “doodle,” for God’s sake).  Catholic boys in my young days had some mind-difficulties with Saint Peter’s nickname during our puberty….

Anyhow, continuing, Charles is “Chuck; William is “Bill” (not “Willie–and definitely not “a willie”), yet we have the 1993 film Free Willy.  Romualdas becomes “Rom”; Eugene is…yes, “Gene”; Thomas is “Tom” or “Tommy” (but “Tommy gun” is from the manufacturer Auto-Ordnance Company, naming the submachine gun for its designer, John T. Thompson).  (“British Tommies” will require another story.)

One of our teachers was Glennon E. Figge, initials “G.E.F.”: we called him “The Geef” (not a nickname used in his presence, of course).

And so it goes.  My name is James, that is “Jim,” “Jimbo,” and “Jimmy” (when my mother really wanted my attention).  In college, I was “Jim.”  That’s it.

Until Saint Patrick’s Day, 1961.  Whatever possessed me (“possessed”?) to paint a pair of my shoes green?  No doubt, “The Devil made me do it.”  There I was, celebrating my Irish heritage with green paint–bright green, for sure.

I attended the campus festivities of March 17, 1961:  corned beef and cabbage–possible. Special dessert?  I cannot remember.  Nor can most of my classmates at our small college.  However, many do remember my bright green shoes, though not remembering them as well as a pair of “ruby slippers” in some Wizard movie…  But, hey, I made MY mark to this day.

“Greenie, how are you?  “Hello, Greenie.  How are things?”  “  Greenie!  What’s up?”  A lasting memory from one special Saint PADDY’S Day (a “patty” is a hamburger-thingy; “Patty” is a girl’s name–mostly….  Look it up.).

©  James F. O’Neil  2014  

Note: A special thanks to my Irish classmate Michael Toohey for suggesting I write this memory.  “Thanks, Mike.”  Or, is that “Mikey,” “Mickey,” or “Mick”?  Or would that be now “Mícheál”?  Ah, that good old Hebrew name….


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