Lori’s Chronicle of our 2018 Scotland Trip, A Reunion of Souls
April 26th – Some of us arrive in Glasgow after lining up through security with virtual greetings from a beautiful but dim hologram explaining the process, Lori, Jeff S, Denise, Lucia all meet up with Brenda, Vicki and Marla waiting patiently in Arrivals. Hello hugs to everyone and see you soon’s to Marla (who is staying at an Airport Hotel). We line up for taxi and experience fire-ee Scottish drivers who appear to be upset that we couldn’t fit in the first taxi. Gratefully we end up with a wonderful Scottish Elf (driver) named Stewart, who gladly shared jokes about the Scottish weather (warnings of rain, rain and even more rain lol) and good advice of where to eat and what to see in Glasgow. We Arrive at the Alexander Thompson Hotel (“a historic Victorian era building which forms the Architectural landscape of the city” ~ as per website) with a few hours until check in. We leave our luggage at the Hotel and take a walk in down town Glasgow. Cool Buildings and friendly people. We are greeted by Tim Hortons on the corner and a friendly Californian sipping Tim’s coffee who joins our group for a little while. We end up down an ally at Sloans (“the oldest pub in Glasgow, named after prominent Glasgow man Baillie John Morrison, back in 1797”.) for lunch, coffee, spirits and locally brewed beer. Some of us continue on exploring and others go back to hotel for check in and well needed nap.
Yay! Nancy, David C, Becca and Sue arrive (noting the long journey with lots of detours along the way ~ thank you for weaving our celtic knot). Some of us go down the road to Weatherspoons ~ The Sir John Moore Pub for Supper.
Lori, Jeff, Brenda, Nancy and David meet with an enthusiastic and helpful Robert from Hire Society Busses to go over our journey plans.
And it’s Goodnight and it’s off to bed.
April 27th – Yay! We are blessed with a Beautiful Day! Delicious Breakfast at the hotel. More visiting and hello hugs as everyone gathers in the hotel lobby. Claire, Hannah, David S, Kathryn, Dorothy, Tamara & Jeff A all join our group. Michael our magical and dedicated bus driver from Hire Society Busses, picks us up at the Hotel and we all head off to the Airport to pick up the rest of our pilgrims. Eliza and Meg (pleasantly surprised to find each other on the same flight from Toronto ;)), arrive safely to meet Brenda, Jeff S, Denise and Lori at the gate. Eliza arriving without her suitcase and having faith that it will join us later on in the journey. Brenda goes off to meet Marla, Jennette and Georgia at the Airport Hotel. We all gather at the bus. Yay we are off.
And Our Reunion of Souls Pilgrimage officially begins. Glasgow to Oban via A82 past Loch Lomand. We sing The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond as we passed by. We enjoy sights of Edentaggart and Ben More and much more. Lots to see. Micheal gives us info. on local sites along the way and makes an impromptu stop at “Clach nan Tarbh”, the Stone of the Bulls.
“The strong flavour of mythology in the Gaelic name, “Clach nan Tairbh,” for the Pulpit Rock, is accounted for in the tradition of the Red Bull of England and the Black Bull of Scotland meeting in mortal combat on Ben Vorlich. So terrific was the contest that the rock on which they fought became detached, by reason of the shocks it was subjected to, by the onslaughts of the infuriated animals, and finally it slipped down the slope of the mountain to rest permanently in its present situation. Victory, we learn, was with the northern bull which, with its crooked horn, dispatched its rival (Campbell, Popular Tales of the West Highlands). The story ends with the statement that Clach nan Tairbh “is the largest boulder in the three realms” – an indication that the legend associated with the place may go back to the time when Scotland was still divided up into the three kingdoms of Strathclyde, Dalriada, and Pictland.” ~ from AD Lacaille’s ‘Ardlui Megaliths and their Associations’ (PSAS 63, 1928/9)
On to ‘The Green Welly’ tourist shop for a quick bathroom break and souvenir hunt, then on to the A85 to Oban for lunch (yummy seafood for some), beautiful ocean views (Loch Linnhe) and town walk about. Then it’s back on the bus and on to Kinlochleven via A828 through Glencoe to the MacDonald Hotel, our home away from home for the first 4 days of our Journey.
Surrounded by the majestic Mountains of the Scottish Highlands and located across the road from the beautiful West Highland Way (“which stretches 96 miles (154 Km) from Milngavie to Fort William”) we couldn’t ask for a better place to be. Supported by the Mountains and beautiful Loch Leven.
We are assigned our rooms. Steven our helpful and witty server/Inn keeper serves us a delicious meal and allows us to move the tables to circle up after eating. “Bless this food and the Earth for growing it”- supper blessing song. We sing Sky Boat song and others songs while we eat and socialize. Then our first Circle begins with Lori & Brenda calling in the Sacred Container. Shared intentions, introductions and yay more singing (The way is simple, May we all return to the place of the heart and more), Bus Passes, Animal & Crystal Guardians, tobacco to bless the land and crystal gifts to pilgrims. We speak about our intention for the 28th which is to truly arrive and to get further acquainted with the land. Then off to bed. No sign of Eliza’a bag yet. 🙂
April 28th – Another sunshiney beautiful day, delicious breakfast, coffee with Cream for those who want it, yayyyy! And we head off.. Some of us walking The West Highland Trail, some taking the local Bus to Glencoe, and some taking taxi. Thirteen of us take the bus to Glencoe & Ballachulish then boat ride to Eilaen Munde (The Isle of the Dead)..
Eilaen Munde is an island located in Loch Leven near Ballachulish which is the burial isle, which was once used by the Stewarts of Ballachulish, the MacDonalds of Glencoe and the Camerons of Callart. The clans shared the island and the maintenance of the graveyard, even during times of conflict between them. Just next to Eilaen Munde is a tiny Island named Eilean a’ Chomhraidh (the Isle of Discussion) which was a place where feuding clansmen were taken and left and weren’t able to leave, until a resolution was found between them. A The last burial took place in 1972, of Mrs Christina MacDonald Sharpe. a native of Glencoe.
Also, legend has it that Corrag the main character from the book Witch Light by Susan Fletcher (an inspiration for our journey), was buried, in an unmarked grave, as an honorary MacDonald, on the Island.
Jill & Peter (Seaxplorer Boat Tours) our gracious tour guides/boat operators, make an extra boat trip so that we all can go to the Island. And while on the Island Jill tells us that Susan Fletcher (Author of Witch Light) rented part of her house, while she was in the area, doing research for the book and Peter speaks about remembering being shown, as a child, where Corrag was buried on the Island.
Ceremony and Singing “I feel so near to the howling of the winds. I feel so near to the crashing of the waves. I feel so near to the flowers in the fields. I feel so near” and “There is only love. There is only love. Love that heals. Love that sets us free. There is only, only love.” and “Mother I feel You Under My Feet” Drum and honour the Ancestors who lie rest there. Dragon Stones with a glowing yellow eye on the shore of the Island (Dragon Eyes were seen throughout preparation for pilgrimage – so further confirmation of all that supports us). Jill also let us know that the Clachaig Inn wouldn’t work as an option for Supper due to its remote location and so we adjusted our plan and decided to go to The Tailrace Inn (just down the road from MacDonald Hotel for Supper instead). (And thus another turn to our celtic knot.)
For the 13 Eillaen De Munde visitors Lunch was at The Isles of Glencoe Hotel. Then back to Seaxplorer for another tour. Jill shares stories of Witch curses and Dragons Teeth and local history and beautiful land/seascape views. And the Rain comes and goes.
Bus 44 back to Kinlochleven and we all meet up at the Tailrace Inn. Where we are squeezed in to the back room of the pub. A perfect place for sharing stories of the days adventures and songs and food, spirits and fun. Noting how the locals enjoy our music and that some of the patrons of the pub have four legs and fur. Some of us had so much fun that they forget their walking canes and practically skipped back to hotel ;). Not to worry helpful pilgrims to the rescue, and 2 of us go back to retrieve the canes just in case they’re needed for later 😉
April 29th – Breakfast, and it’s another beautiful sunny day. We gather at 10:00shh and head to bus stop to catch bus 44 to Glencoe. The bus driver gives us food for thought with his fire-eee advice on proper bus catching etiquette and a bumpy ride to Glencoe. We circle up to share, in the beautiful green forest at The Glencoe Lochan Trail Entry. The temperature drops notably, so we closed circle for now, singing the Wolf Chant and head up the hill for picnic lunch where the sunshine warms us. We pass the “Kissing Place” on the way up the hill and yay! an opportunity for a kiss. After Lunch, there is more connecting with land as we hike The Glencoe Lochan Trail (Lochan Gleann Comhain) advising everyone to stay on the shorter Blue portion of the trail.. Haha.. And Thankfully Smart Grandmothers take a detour and meet everyone at the bottom of the short, but very very steep Blue trail.
“The lochan is set in what was the grounds of the home of the Earl of Strathcona who was, for a while, the governor general of Canada. He brought back with him his Canadian wife who became a little homesick so he landscaped the whole area around the house to look like the Canadian Rockies. Some visitors have commented that the area around the lochan looks like a miniature Lake Louise in British Columbia.” as per Discover Glencoe Website http://discoverglencoe.scot/listing/walk-glencoe-lochan-walks/
After the hike, Some of the pilgrims stop to visit the Glencoe Memorial, others had stopped the day before and explore/connect elsewhere.
A plaque at the Glencoe Memorial site says :
“This Cross was reverently erected in memory of McIan Chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe who fell with his people in the massacre of Glencoe of 13 Feb, 1692. By his direct descendent Ellen Burns MacDonald of Glencoe August 1883. Their memory liveth forever more.”
Many stop at the quaint Glencoe Cafe for Coffee/Tea and treats and infamous “Scones” – if you’re lucky 😉 And Highland Coo postcards, books and souvenirs. Then back to Hotel for Supper and Full Moon Drumming and Sharing Circle.
In the mean time there is Yoga on the lawn with Denise and company.
And yay Eliza’s Bag arrives.
We draw one of the 5 universal shapes for guidance on what supports our process and share our impressions and many perspectives on the day.. Then Drum and sing and GrandMother Moon makes her appearance as we sing Neesa Neesa Neesa
April 30th – Another Beautiful Day.. Breakfast and Circle up outside. Sing “I am opening” and “You are seen. You are heard. You are loved for who you are. You are enough. You are complete. You are loved. You are Loved.” Pilgrims are given option to explore on their own or to join guided hike/ceremony at the Mare’s Tail Waterfall.
Some Pilgrims go off on their own, some take a bus to Fort William for walk about and adventure, arriving back at MacDonald Hotel at 9:30pm-sshh.
At the Mare’s Tail Waterfall we connect with the beautiful Waterfall and Sing Spirit Names with Smokey Quartz guardians, surrounded by magical forest creatures, Fairies, green plants spirits, trees, rocks and beautiful waterfall.
Lunch at the Tailrace Inn for some. Then strolling and Hiking and more exploring Kinlochleven.
Another delicious Supper at the MacDonald Hotel, settling bills and packing up our suit cases to leave at Eagles Crag and packing our small bags for some to take to remote Deanich Lodge for our Alladale Adventure.
May 1st (Bealtane) – Breakfast and picnic lunch to go, thank you’s and goodbyes to MacDonald Hotel. Yet another beautiful day. Michael picks us up and we head to Alladale.
Views of Mountain Landscapes & Lochs (Loch Leven, Loch Linnhe, Loch Eil, Ben Nevis to name a few) First Stop Treasures of the Earth, Corpach, Fort William, Crystal Shop & Fossil Museum. Lots of sparkly treasures and Crystal Spirits.
Then we are on our way, past Loch Lochy to Loch Ness. (Nessy, Nessy, Nessy.. Nessy, Nessy, Nessy.. Nessy, Nessy, Nessy.. Where are you? Where are you?) We stop at the mouth of Loch Ness at Fort Augustus for tea/coffee/snack & souvenir browse and stroll through town. Then back on the bus with impromptu stop at Urquhart Castle for photos. Then on to Alladale via Inverness and Ardgay. While looking out for Croick Church we missed our turn off to Alladale, and end up, just where we are supposed to be, at Croick Church. We explore the grounds and sing and leave prayers in the church.
Croick Church was built during the years 1825-1827. And an article in the Times on 2 June 1845 related in detail how some 80 people who had been cleared from Glen Calvie, to the south of Croick, had found refuge in a common shelter made from poles and tarpaulins in Croick churchyard. The publicity raised by the Times may have helped spread knowledge of the clearances. But it came too late for most who had once lived in the Highlands, and it certainly came too late for those cleared from Glen Calvie.
No one knows what became of the 80 refugees living in the churchyard in May 1845. But they are believed to have left their mark before they departed. The east window of Croick Church carries a number of messages inscribed in its diamond-shaped panes. These include: “Glencalvie people was in the churchyard here May 24 1845” and “The Glencalvie tenants resided here May 24 1845” and, perhaps most poignantly, “Glencalvie People the wicked generation Glencalvie”.
from Undiscovered Scotland Website https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/bonarbridge/croickchurch/index.html
Michael (The best bus driver in Scotland!!) manages to get us turned around safely with an audience of local farmers cheering him on.
We arrive in Alladale Wilderness Reserve!! Simply breathtaking.
Alladale Wilderness Reserve is a 23,000 – acre gem in the Scottish Highlands, about 1.5 hours North of Inverness. Who work hard to keep this part of Scotland truly wild, by replanting lush forest and reintroducing original Highland plant & animal species. Alladale’s rugged terrain, dramatic glens, colorful hills, glistening rivers, and herds of majestic red deer will take your breath away.
Although strikingly beautiful, the Highlands are not what they once were. These barren lands used to be hone to lush pine forest and large predators. Few people know that just one percent of what the Romans called ‘the Great Forest of Caledon’ remains today. As a result, much of the flora and fauna that once thrived here, have disappeared and the landscape has altered dramatically. The Alladale team works hard to restore this unique part of the Highlands to its former glory, reintroducing original plant and wildlife species. As per Alladale web site 🙂
Innes, a born Scot-of-the-land, Head Ranger @ Alladale, carries forward the rare vision of a Scotland reforested and re-inhabited by its original range of flora and fauna. Wealthy owners may come and go, but Innes remains on the land among his deer, watching and helping with the re-wilding.
The Grandmothers are off to Eagles Crag with our large suitcases in tow and holding space for everyone at rustic Deanich Lodge.
Remaining Pilgrims settle in at rustic Deanich Lodge. Snacks and rooms assigned. Fire lit, Alter set up and Chef David “The Cameron” prepares our first delicious meal. Lots of help in the kitchen, with cleanup and prep.. Supper is served. Singing Blessings for food served and the Cook. And then we Circle up. Check in, Sharing, Drumming and Singing. Meg shares her practice of Lucid Dreaming and suggests dreaming on the Land. And we are Off to bed whispering; “I will remember my dreams tonight”.
May 2nd Morning Sunrise Ceremony for some. Discovering that the Sun rises much earlier than we anticipated (approx. 4:00 AM – a testament to just how far north we actually are.). And it is another beautiful day. David “The Cameron” prepares a scrumptious breakfast. Morning Circle up. Feeling Nancy and the Grandmothers present and supporting us. We share our dreams, sing & drum. “Dance your dance of love and light” and “Now I walk in Beauty. Beauty is before me. Beauty is behind me above and below.” “Our roots grow Deep.” and others. Read “Wilderness” by Carl Sandburg. We go off on our own into the wilds, humbly asking the Spirits of the Land to inform us. There are Ontario/Nova Scotia blend Tobacco offerings. Marla offers spiritual attunement sessions in the afternoon. A message from a Highlander Spirit is received about Dying a good death and living a passionate life. Beautiful walks, naps on grass, Faery helpers, Connecting with the Mountains, Wide and Varied perspectives, Bending of Space and Time.. David prepares yet another amazing Lunch and Supper. With lots of dishwashing and preparation helpers. Then Circle up for evening Sharing, Singing & Drumming.. We feel a death coming on and the majestic Red Deer Come very close to the windows. We end up drumming and conch blowing outside. Snacks and “I will remember my dreams tonight” and off to bed.
May 3rd Grateful for morning Fire starter Faery.. And Yay another wonderful Breakfast by David. Morning Circle up.. beautiful Singing and Sharing and Drumming. Honouring the Grandmothers. It is a big day. “I remember the place before I am born” ~ Standing Meditation. Noticing what resonates with us in the words and movement. We do the preferential shapes test for further guidance on where we are and where everyone else is. We call in Ancestor Archetypes/Blessings and a monster to assist with our dismemberment (affectionately known as discombobulation) and share monster insights with the circle. Discussions stirred by some very beautiful distractions. And It’s a Good Day to Die. Dismemberments begins. Then the call back and Lakota Drum Healing words. “Remember who you are. Remember who everyone else is.” Lunch and free time to wander and connect more deeply. Yay Suppertime. Delicious Cookies by Denise and Hannah. Just what we needed. Cookie, Cookie, Cookie, Yum, Yum, Yum.. Then Evening Circle up.. Drumming, Sharing, Singing. I remember the place before I am born. Where are we now in relation to before our dismemberment. Candle blessing who we are now and remembering our Connection and Healing Ceremony.. “I send my power over the Mountains.” And “I am a wild woman. I am a story Woman. I am a healer and my soul never dies. We honour you. We empower you to be who you are. We honour you. We Empower you to be who you are.I am a wild man. I am a gentle man. I am a healer and my soul never dies. We honour you. We empower you to be who you are. We honour you. We Empower you to be who you are. We are an old family. We are a new family. We are the same family and we’re stronger than before.We honour you. We empower you to be who you are. We honour you. We Empower you to be who you are. And “I will remember my dreams tonight” and off to bed.
May 4th Morning Faery Fire Starter strikes again yay. Delicious Breakfast by David. Morning circle up and Surprise! All the Grandmothers come to drop Nancy off after their Jeep Tour.. Hugs and Hellos.. Shared Lunches. Circle up again, Drum, Sing and Share.. The Deers come. Dragon gifts.. Pass the Wolf Tale blessings. Hugs & See you soon’s to the Grandmothers..
Pilgrims head up the Mountain (Carn Lochain Sgeirich 600 m) with Ryan our 2 legged guide and Lincoln as our furry 4 legged mountain guides.. Breathtaking views. Brenda heads out with Ryan to spend the night at Eagles Crag (carrying laundry to boot). David prepares another awesome Supper. Evening Circle up Sing, Drum, Share. I remember the place before I am born.. Read “My Heart is full of Faeries” by Nancy Dancing Light Sherwood. Pilgrims test our container. Pack up for early departure. “I will remember my dreams tonight”. And off to bed.
May 5th David gives friendly wake up call. Early Breakfast. Jeeps take us to meet Michael and our bus. Grateful Goodbyes to Alladale. And we are off through Ardgay to Inverness. First stop Clava Cairns. A powerful dismemberment completion Ceremony with a strong message for some that it is time to be seen and heard.
Clava Cairns is a site consisting of three well-preserved cairns (two of which are passage graves) and a number of free-standing stones strategically placed for astronomical purposes. The full name of the site is the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of the Balnuaran of Clava which is usually shortened to The Balnuaran of Clava and, informally, Clava Cairns.
The cairns date from c. 2500 BCE, but the location is thought to have been in use much earlier, and later additions date to c. 2000 BCE. The site was in continual use for over 1000 years and evidence suggests reuse by communities, intermittently, until 770 CE as a burial ground and center for rituals. The cairns themselves have been identified as graves but were clearly constructed with astronomical alignments in mind. Scholars Alwyn and Brinley Rees define the meaning of a cairn: “A cairn is a mound of stones erected over a burial or at some other point with other-world associations, such as wherever a man has died out-of-doors or where a coffin has rested.” (188)
As with other mysterious man-made landmarks such as Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Egypt, some experts have suggested that the cairns were used for astronomical purposes. For example, it appears the Clava Cairn site may have been a central point from which to map the stars. Additionally, a research team recently discovered that the sun lit up the passage openings at sunset on the winter solstice. These three Clava cairns belong to a system of about 50 cairns in the Inverness-Nairn Valley that are patterned in alignment with the planets.
As per Ancient History Encyclopedia Website https://www.ancient.eu/Clava_Cairns/ & Historic Mysteries ~ Discovering the Secrets of Our World https://www.historicmysteries.com/clava-cairns-of-scotland/
On to Culloden Battlefield Memorial for a walk about and remembering and honouring the last Jacobite stand and all those who have fallen. Singing “I feel so near to the howling of the winds. I feel so near to the crashing of the waves. I feel so near to the flowers in the fields. I feel so near.”
And a little farther down the path “Can you hear them? Can you see them? Marching proudly, across the moors. Hear the wind blow through the drifting snow. Tell me can you see them the ghosts of Culloden.”
On 16 April 1746, the final Jacobite Rising came to a brutal head. Jacobite supporters, seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones, gathered to fight the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops. It was the last pitched battle on British soil and, in less than an hour, around 1,500 men were slain – more than 1,000 of them Jacobites.
The aftermath of the Battle of Culloden and subsequent crackdown on the Highlands and all things to do with the Clan system and the Highland way of life, was brutal in the extreme, with atrocity after atrocity being committed by the government forces. The Duke of Cumberland, the government commander earned the name “Butcher Cumberland” on account of the wanton destruction on the Highlands by his forces.
As per Visit Scotland Website https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/culloden-battlefield-p247471
From Culloden we made our way through the Grampian, and Cairngorm Mountains, to Pitlochry. Arriving at our home for the next 3 nights, The Rosemount Hotel. Very warmly welcomed and greeted by Inn keepers Anne, Keith and our concierge George.
Supper and rooms assigned. Off to bed.
May 6th Another beautiful day. Listening to our guidance there is an intuitive change of plans and we decide to hike the Faery Mountain on the 7th. Breakfast and picnic lunch and on to the Bus & off to Meigle. Circle up and share at the burial site next to Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum.
The burial site is said be the grave site of Vanora, better known as queen Guinevere, wife of King Arthur. Abducted by King Mordred, local tradition says she was held captive on Berry Hill, near Meigle. When Guinevere returned to Arthur, he sentenced her to death – believing her to have been unfaithful – by being torn apart by wild beasts. From Historic Environment Scotland https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/meigle-sculptured-stone-museum/history/
Shared messages about reconciliation between men and women, families, Christians and Witches, messages about supporting each other and honouring different perspectives, about the passion of the flame and more… African song translated “I’ve decided to follow the fire. I’ve decided to follow the fire. I’ve decided to follow the fire and there is no turning back.” We sing: “Reconciliate, Reconciliate, Reconciliation. I am here today, you are here today, for a celebration.” Feeling the energy of forgiveness and reconciliation.
(The Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum is a permanent exhibition of 27 carved Pictish stones in the centre of the village of Meigle in eastern Scotland.
We know very little about the Picts. Most of what we’ve learned of their beliefs has come from studying the symbols carved on stones such as those at Meigle.
According to the Collins Encyclopedia of Scotland, “the Picts did not ‘arrive’ – in a sense they had always been there, for they were the descendants of the first people to inhabit what eventually became Scotland” (775). )
Picnic Lunch in the town court yard then on the bus again headed to Glamis, to the Church of St Fergus (built in 750AD) and St Fergus Well. For healing ceremony at the well. Singing and playing in the water.
Just past Glamis Kirk, in the village of Glamis, a signed path leads down to the Glamis Burn. A small, stone lined well basin is tucked into a shallow recess at the base of the rocky outcrop.
No one knows for certain when Fergus was born or where. He was a contemporary of St. Drostan and St. Donevaldus. The name is of Pictish origin and he is recorded as Fergus, a Pictish Bishop, so it is generally considered he was from the north east of what is now called Scotland. In the Aberdeen breviary he is called Fergustian and “he occupied himself in converting the barbarous people.” He is thought to have trained in Ireland or the south of Scotland, possibly both.
Known in the Irish martyrologies as St. Fergus Cruithneach, or the Pict, the Breviary of Aberdeen states that he had been a bishop for many years in Ireland when he went on a mission to Alba with some chosen priests and other clerics. He settled first near Strageath, in Upper Strathearn, in Upper Perth, and erected three churches in that district. The churches of Strageath, Blackford, and Dolpatrick are found there dedicated to St. Patrick. He next evangelized Caithness and established there the churches of Wick and Halkirk.
This well is in a wonderful setting …. towered over by trees, glorified with wildflowers and serenaded by the babbling waters of the passing burn. It is easy to see why the Reverend John Stirton wrote “the spirit of the ages can be felt at the side of the burn.”
Back on the Bus and we head to Forfar.
(In 1563 the newly created Church of Scotland made it illegal to either be a witch or to consult a witch in an attempt to stamp out pagan practices. This Act of Parliament was not abandoned until 1736. In between 1563 and 1736 is known from documentary evidence that at least 1,500 people were executed for the crime of being a witch. During the time the act was on the statute books there were 3 periods of intense witch hunting. One witch hunt took place in the reign of James VI in the 1590’s, the second during the Civil War of the 1640’s and the third after Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. During this last witch hunt of 1660-1663 it is believed that 300 people were executed as witches. In 1663 alone it is thought that 150 people were executed. This does not count those people who died in jail after they were tortured or who killed themselves in despair. To this total Forfar contributed 42 people suspected of being witches, of whom at least 9 were executed. Only 3 were men.
In the small town of Forfar, between 1661 and 1663, 42 suspected witches were imprisoned in the tollbooth, and so offensive were these prisoners to the good people of Forfar that the windows were boarded up to stop the accused witches from shouting down to the public. The individual characters involved in the accusations, trials and resulting executions make a fascinating tale of misfits, persecution, torture and religious hysteria.)
Nancy spots a church site, gathering spot. Michael parks the bus and we make our way to St Margarets Church of Scotland, many of us feel an eery feeling as we walk through the town. Once we are in the Church yard, we feel safe to circle on the soft green grass, under a beautiful blossoming tree. We share and sing and bless each other with ashes collected from sacred fire ceremonies. And we receive the message that the witches are alive within us. That we are safe to joyfully and freely express who we are.
We head back to the bus and head home to Pitlochry for late lite Supper and evening circle up to share what we are passionate about.
May 7th Early Breakfast and Michael takes Pilgrims to downtown Pitlochry for walk about, bank, Coffee/Tea and souvenirs. Then promptly on the Bus and off we go to the geographical centre of Scotland, Schiehallion – The Fairy Hill of the Caledonians. Again listening to our guidance there is an intuitive change of plans, and find a different, more appropriate entry into The Fairy Hill through Tay Forest Park across from Dunalastair reservoir. Where we are blessed by the The Mountains, the Forest, the Water falls, and Sunshine to name a few.
According to one legend, there is a cave or series of caves that go straight through the mountain. As soon as someone goes a little ways into the cave, there is a door and as soon as they enter, it closes behind them and keeps them from going back.
On the southwest side of the mountain is Tom a Mhorair (Giant’s Cave). The entrance is an opening 3-4 yards wide, then the passageway narrows and goes down into total darkness deep into the mountain. Naturally this has an age old reputation for being an portal to the underworld.
On the west side is Creag-na-h-Earra, covered with heather and boulders with two burns washing the base. At the point where the two burns meet is a rock that has more neolithic cup markings than any other stone surface of the same size in the British Isles. Near the same place is a cave where fairies are said to live.
It is also believed by some that Schiehallion is the scared hiding place of the Templars known as Mount Heredom. Three Templar knights are rumored to have found refuge there in “the caves of mount Heredom”. Caves and grottoes in this area are claimed by various esoteric orders and mystery schools to be the site of initiation rites.
For ages, there have been stories about Cailleach Bheur (pronounced ‘cal’yach vare’) haunting Schiehallion. Cailleach Bheur is a hag goddess of the winter who is reborn on Samhain every year and stays with us until Beltane. At Beltane, she turns into a gray standing stone or a beautiful maiden, depending on the version told. Another name for her is Daughter of Grianan (the winter sun). There are some markings on Schiehallion that are called Sgrìob na Caillich, or Cailleach’s Furrow where her plow has left scars on the rocks. A fairy well on the mountain is sometimes associated with the Cailleach or other goddesses or fairies. Offerings of flowers are brought to the well by young girls on Beltane or May Day.
From Website; Ancient to Medieval (And Slightly Later ) History http://archaicwonder.tumblr.com/post/61535126734/schiehallion-the-fairy-mountain-the-name
Some of the Grandmothers hold space at a small waterfall close to the beginning of the trail, while we hike up the Mountain with the intention of connecting with the strength of the Mountain. Which gives us energy to stand for what has heart and meaning for us. And connecting with the forest which represents the unknown and the mystery. To notice how open we are to the mystery/unknown. To be aware of the group but also to tap into our own intuition and guidance. To listen to our own inner wisdom. To Trust. Lori Drums midway at the Lassintullich Falls. Brenda and Jeff join in on the Drumming until everyone comes out. And we all gather at the bottom of the Mountain for snacks and then back on the bus we go.
We Head to the Scottish Crannog Centre in Kenmore at Loch Tay. A unique reconstruction of an ancient loch dwelling in the heart of beautiful Perthshire. Where the hosts share stories and songs, Bannoc and Nettle Tea.
Crannogs are a type of ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland.
Most seem to have been built as individual homes to accommodate extended families. Similar settlements are found throughout the rest of Europe.
The crannog reconstruction which forms the focal point of the Scottish Crannog Centre was built by The Scottish Trust for Underwater Archaeology. It was created to promote the research, recording, preservation and interpretation of Scotland’s underwater heritage.
The earliest loch-dwelling in Scotland is some 5,000 years old but people built, modified and re-used crannogs in Scotland up until the 17th century AD. Here in Highland Perthshire the prehistoric crannogs were originally timber-built roundhouses supported on piles or stilts driven into the loch bed.
Spry IslandIn more barren environments, tons of rock were piled onto the loch bed to make an island on which to build a stone house. Today the crannogs appear as tree-covered islands or remain hidden as submerged stony mounds. Several hundred have been discovered so far in Scotland although only a few have been investigated.
From Website The Scottish Crannog Centre http://www.crannog.co.uk/what-is-a-crannog
Then back on the bus and off to Fortingall Yew Tree where we are greeted by singing sheep.
The Fortingall Yew is at the geographical heart of Scotland and stands within Fortingall churchyard. It is thought to be between 3,000 and 9,000 years old and has connections to early Christianity in Scotland. It is also believed to be one of the oldest living things in Europe. In 1769 the circumference of the yew’s multiple trunks was measured at 52 ft, but this has vastly reduced over time and what remains are the relics and offshoots of the original tree.
Then Michael the magnificent 😉 once again demonstrates his bus driving skills as bystanders applaud his ability to turn the bus around in a very limited space. And we head back to the Rosemount for Supper. With an impromptu stop at the Queens View for another beautiful photo op. We arrive at Rosemount and enjoy our last night in Pitlochry. More presents ~ meaningful pendants of tiny maps of Scotland for everyone.
The Queen’s View in Highland Perthshire overlooks Loch Tummel and is said to have been named after Queen Victoria, following her visit to the area in 1866.
The Queen’s View Visitor Centre lies at the eastern edge of Loch Tummel and is surrounded by part of the Tay Forest Park. As well as a stunning viewpoint overlooking the loch and beyond to the iconic Schiehallion, the area offers a range of woodland walks suitable for all abilities.
One of the most photographed areas in Scotland, Queen Victoria is said to have remarked that the spectacular view was named after her, when she visited the area in 1866. However, it has also been suggested that the view was in fact named after King Robert the Bruce’s wife, Queen Isabella of Scotland, over 550 years earlier.
From Visit Scotland Website; https://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/queens-view-p402191
May 8th Early morning breakfast. Singing goodbye’s to Anne, Keith & George. “The Parting Glass” and “I send my power (Love, Prayers, Peace) over the mountains.” Tearful goodbyes and until we meet again’s.. And we are off on the Bus to Kinross, then boat to Loch Leven Castle.Where friendly Scottish swans greet us. Forest Gratitude Connection Circle naming/singing the people who support us. Then Singing thankyou’s again to all that supports us. Then we gather in circle once more as a Pecaiste Mactier (Gaelic for Wolf Pack), in the Castle for final sharing. More stone gifts and thank you’s to everyone. The Boat arrives just on time to take us back to the mainland. We eat Lunch on the bus and head to Stirling Train Station, Goodbye Hugs and See You soons to David and Nancy. “Oh go in beauty. And peace be with you. Until we meet again in our dreams.”
And we head to Stirling Castle. Integrating more into the public.
Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times.
Most of the principal buildings of the castle date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A few structures of the fourteenth century remain, while the outer defences fronting the town date from the early eighteenth century.
Before the union with England, Stirling Castle was also one of the most used of the many Scottish royal residences, very much a palace as well as a fortress. Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542, and others were born or died there.
There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, including several during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle. Stirling Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is now a tourist attraction managed by Historic Environment Scotland.
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_Castle
More Goodbye hugs and See you Soons to Meg and Denise at the Stirling Train Station. Then Lucia, Claire, Hannah, David and Kathryn, Tamara & Jeff in Glasgow city then the rest of us at the Normandy Hotel. All the while Michael sharing information about Glasgow City. Goodbye and Thank Again to Michael – The best bus driver in Scotland.
An account from Eagles Crag from Nancy’s Perch: The women that came to our pilgrimage from the time of life called the age of the crone, were a vital part of consciousness and wisdom in our community of travellers. Embodying the archetype of the Calleach, the spiritual grandmothers were housed at Eagle’s Crag in Alladale: Dragon drumming outdoors, quiet walks, deep rest, creating nourishment for one another and sharing in a circle of a sisterhood of 7, we all held space and were weld, at the lodge surrounded by mountains. One of our last circle conversations included a theme about women feeling invisible as we age. This topic is reflected in the Irish poem from the 9th or 10th century called “The Cailleach’s Lament” or “The Old Woman of Beare.* In the turning of the first millennium of Christianity, we were entering a more patriarchal age in the isles where the ancient role of creating the landscape was attributed to the Feminine principle. This uniting cultural story became gradually replaced by Saint Patrick story taking up the same attributes in the landscape and attempts to eliminate the earthy feminine. The wise old woman were no longer being listened to by kings whose sovereignty was originally based on alignment with the land and sage advice from female elders. The power of women of all ages as holders of wisdom, diminished under different forms of control of our sexuality and magic. Fortunately at Eagle’s Crag we could recognize this issue in our time, and speak up and be heard on behalf of our sisters are sharing the “third age”. During the trip we could practice embodying the necessary role of grand mothering from the dark cave of experience of loss and rebirth. We were welcomed to Deanich Lodge for a circle on the last day and reunion and re-integration of all of our energies in person. After we pilgrims emerged from Alladale’s formidable dragon sized energy, we all entered more places of healing together, young and old, male and female, as recorded in Lori’s chronicle. The whole group participated in reconciliation about the history of dividing paganism and Christianity at Meigle and at Forfar. The following day, we had a chance to practice our skills in holding a community of beings as an integrated circle on the Fairy Mountain that holds the crystalline heart of the land. Thanks be to all invisible and visible beings that contributed to our journey and our collective understanding of it. *1000 Years of Irish Poetry by Kathleen Hoagan.
Love and Blessings until we meet again.