Maid, Mother, Crone, with Child

Scotland and Ireland, Spring, 2004

With Brigit as our protector and spirit guide and Nancy as teacher, we went on a pilgrimage that was very intense for the linear time that we had. We ran, hiked, danced, flew through Sligo, Donegal, and the Boyne Valley in Ireland as well as Arran and Holy Islands, off the west coast of Scotland. The sacred flame was shining on our path as we connected with the bones of the ancestors in the land and its memories.

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Both in ordinary and non-ordinary reality, each of us embodied the archetypical energies of Maid, Mother, Crone and Child in Merav (mother), Carla (maid, or independent woman), and Nancy (crone).  This pattern echoed the visit of the three women who initiated Nancy to the shamanic path in 1987.  A child accompanied both events, Orion in 87 and Maya in 04. Our journey was taking us to the land that honored those archetypical energies of the Divine Feminine in centuries of spiritual practice.

We went to the Donegal area so that Nancy could trace the origin of the O’Gallaghers, her paternal grandmother’s clan. She and Carla pored over OS maps with dowsing pendulums and asked for guidance in order to go back to the time when the family was established. The local land spirits and the energies of blood lineage  took us to the sites around Glenties, Raphoe and into the Bluestack Mountains. We went to a holy well blessed by a recent Father Charles Gallagher where Nancy had an extended vision of the history of her people. The next day we were led to a road behind Loch Finn and an experience with every kind of weather known to us (see Merav’s description). On a hill above the loch the faeries joined us in a wild display of manifestation and message.

This opened the gates for Merav and Carla to experience the dragon-earth energies of the region. Nancy was able to hold the space for Carla, an advanced apprentice, to raise dragon energy from the loch.  Maya’s dad was Irish and so she had every reason to be finding her own ancestral knowing.

Earth Day was at Beltany Stone circle near Raphoe; O’Gallaghers have Christian history in that area but the stone circle is even older than that. As in all stone circles, the character of each stone contributed to the energy and purpose of that place.

Sligo meant meeting up with the ancestors at Carrowmore. We spent extensive time there at the oldest part of the site.

At Maeve’s Cairn we had a wonderful Irish-born guide show up; he gave us an overview of the whole area from his extensive experience and study and in the hospitality of Irish culture, invited us back.

We continued to find Brigit wells and to collect the waters of Ireland. This gave us continuing  appreciation of the energies of those sites and of the spirit of Unity contained in the water itself (see Sacred Wells and Holy Water).

We stayed with a really friendly B and B family at Tara. They were open in sharing their feelings of gratitude for the abundance they had received from the land there.

Nancy and Carla were able to experience the Stone of Destiny during the midnight hours and appreciated the raising of the energy on the hill, as it has done for those before us who practiced ritual in that place.

We joined in another ceremony at one of the wells at Tara adding to our awareness of the flow and the Divine Feminine in our nature.

Dancing on the grass at New Grange was a joyful experience after the simulation of the Winter Solstice beam of light that entered the tomb for our group inside; our tour guide was an enthusiastic person who made us feel welcome to express ourselves in the April sunshine.

Carla and Merav had their own rituals that related to the River and Goddess Boyne (Boinne).  As each aspect of the archetypes in each of us expressed itself as we got to experience the essence of maid, mother, crone, and child within.

Maya’s participation as a child was appreciated and considered an essential part of our tour. We turned some of the challenges of travelling with a three year old into opportunities to be more aware of her needs and our responses to her.

We asked a local wisdom keeper to join us in Scotland for Beltane on Machrie Moore; the photos accompanying this article were an indication of the energy raised the evening of April 30; the beginning of our Beltane celebration. We started out in the circle where Nancy had been in 2000. We were "led" to a single standing stone where the wind was howling even louder than our voices. The blood red sun set in an alignment of flat stones leading away from the standing stone.  Our intentions joined those of the many i that had come direct prayers on the wind from that sacred space for thousands of years.

We visited a faery glen on Arran, danced in the ruins of a castle, met with the spirits of the deer and the swan and travelled in grace and gentleness when we were not in warrior mode. The diversity of our experiences was a hallmark for this journey.

A day trip to Holy Island (see Buddhist stewardship of Holy Island) included a ceremony for children lost through death, both born and unborn. The seagulls rose in the sky with the cries of the lost souls and the small skulls of the birds spoke of the fragility of life. A group of people attending another program joined ours and our numbers swelled with the grief of their own and others’ children. Maya, young and alive, ran over the rocks with her prayer ribbons and we ended up putting all of our ribbons in the Mandala  Peace Garden (see mandala project), in memory of the children. The gardeners tenderly left them until Travellers’ Joy could return the next year. The resident stewards saved photos for us of the trees and plants that bloomed around the intentions in the prayers.

Our pilgrimage was structured to include experiences of each area and situation as it evolved from guidance of group members and from Nancy’s knowledge from previous exploration.  An energetic container was created so that each pilgrim could connect to their Source within that container. Dancing, sound, and ritual as well as silence and sharing stories gave rise to the inner Witness in ourselves. We were challenged to take in as much as energy as possible while still needing to care for Maya and ground ourselves with food and ordinary tasks. The journey was about surrendering what we thought it might be and to open to receive the Wisdom teachings that came out of the memory of the land, whether prehistoric, Egyptian, Greek, Tibetan, Viking or Celtic. It was all there waiting for us as we followed the spirit tracks of those who came before us.

We thank all our relations for a shared experience of the female principle that can inspire and guide us all.