Ireland, April 21-May 2, 2012

The Crown, the Fire in the Head

The Hill of Tara, The Hill of the Hag, the Hill of Uisneach,  the HIill of Slane, Croag Patrick, The Island of Innisfallen, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, these are all places on the landscape in Ireland that call us with their unique messages and hidden soul treasure. The gatekeepers like Malachy Hand, Tom and Anne, Tom Browne, and our three Goddesses, Nora, Bernie and Annette, share their love of the land and the culture that emerges from listening to her and living with her in harmony with the elements. 

This journey of ten Rainbow pilgrims led us in a weaving back and forth between timeless and ordinary reality, over to the invisible realms across the sky and waters, and back to now.  We met both modern people and spirits of the past and became engaged with ceremony and ritual, food and hospitality, long walks and powerful songs that are part of the living lineage of the Irish people and for all of us who are drawn to retrieve a part of our souls that belongs to the Green Isle, whether from bloodline or past existence.

It sounds very lyrical in the telling  because even tragedy becomes part of legend and our heroes and villains emerge out of the human condition.There are the historical events like the famine and the ancestors who left the starvation in their homeland  to come to our country.  There are the myths which are history that has passed into divine time, where the characters are larger than life, and the gods and goddesses love and quarrel and feast and impact the landscape with their names. 

We gathered on the Hill of Slane the day we arrived and spent the evening in calling for the bones of the ancestors to speak to us during our pilgrimage. We were well-fed pilgrims compared to those who walked before us, and gratefully continued to enjoy abundance of the land, whatever it had to offer.

Next day, being EarthDay, we became part of Tara Celebrations and shared ceremony at Tara itself, and at two wells in the area. This was very grounding for our intentions to meet as rainbow people because the ritual was designed to embody qualities of peace and harmony for each person and for the collective. 

Water was collected from the wells in a prayerful way and with respect to the water that is needed for our health and well being. Many of us also brought water and joined it with the water from there; we were fortunate to carry some home to continue the blessing. Kildare also became a part of the well rituals with Brigit as our guide and guardian of the fire of inspiration that is our legacy from her as Earth Protector. 

Even before Kildare, we went to Newgrange to participate in the viewing of the light in the grave passage, and to align with the intentions of those who built it and those who care for it now in a living lineage of stewardship.

We also met up at Dowth and then went to Fourknocks to meet with Tom and Anne for a shamanic ceremony that we will always remember for its heart and its power. The simplicity and the sincerity of our connections were immediate for everyone; we continued to be held in this state of grace with all the laughter and tears and fears that come of going into the unknown and then finding a Home there. 

Many Irish songs list place names as part of their poetry and sense of place in the lyrics, songs that "recall" the place to the listener and I suspect are also linguistic keys to the inner rhythm of the song. So if I list "Dub-a-lin, Lim-er-ick, Tra-lee, / Dingle, Kllarney, and Ring of Ker-ry," with some poetic license, you can start seeing how the energetic patterns formed for our harmonically attuned trip "around the circle" of the island. 

Dingle's majesty, Innisfallen Island in the Lake of Killarney, and Brigit's Garden, between Galway and Outghterard, all held a magic in them that resonated with different layers of time, different realms of existence, and ordinary reality's beauty. We were fortunate to meet the founder of Brigit's Garden, Jenny Beale, and to listen to her story and vision for the future. 

The Connemara Mountains, Letterfrack's waterfall and industrial school cemetery of the children, Wesport's Croagh Patrick, and Castlerea's Clonalis House took meaning for each pilgrim who climbed, prayed,  sang, wept, took food, took photos, took in the meaning of the history of specific sites, the Celtic seasonal calendar and the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking regions). 

We visited gusty Carrowkeel with Tom Browne, who took us around the year before. He is currently reforesting his land  and creating a way of life that celebrates the heritage represented by the woven willow basket. We followed him through the thick furze and heather moors panting and laughing, until we all melted with the sunset overlooking the mountains to the North and East, Maeve smiling down upon us. 

Our visit to the famine museum (see photo of names list) elicited understanding of the plight of the people of that time and some surprise in finding family names connected to the group on the emigrants' lists. 

On the grounds we completed a ceremony that had called us to Ireland; those of us who had gone the year before felt the call to come back and complete the intention to honour our ancestors  with more people. We wanted those who went before us to know that they had not lived and died unremembered, and that we can carry the future forward with some release of the painful past. For all our relations. 

At the Hill of Uisneach there was preparation for the Festival of Fire and we were fortunate to be invited to use a large pavilion tent for our Beltane dance. Good thing, too, the wind spirits were raging at the top of the hill and there was no way our group could hear or feel itself in the raw elements. We needed the container of the tent and the green grass under our feet to locate ourselves right side up, and to drum and shapeshift for the fire.

When children joined us, that evening, we felt the future coming toward us and the joy of their presence in the circle. Having children dance in and out was a blessing for us and the planet. 

The Loughcrew stop on May 1 was a stunning way to end a journey that had continually included a deep and sensuous connection with all of the elements; the wind was blowing and we prepared for more rain, one of our most intimate companions on this pilgrimage. The Hag was howling and preparing her tempest for us so that we would not forget who was in charge. Malachy, our guide told a story about her history, for she is to have created a lot of the hllls of Ireland. 

The Cailleach has her say on that day, as she did for the kings of Tara where we started our trip, and she is one face of the wisdom of the land, without which a king could not have sovereignty over his domains. Connection to the divine feminine is what the earth calls for today and we were fortunate enough to spend time with contemporary people as well as the ancient spirits that listened to her and right up until today act upon her teachings.

This is my story, and it joins the collective story of our pilgrimage which reflects diversity of all the participants and teachers. In living to create our own legends and meaning for our lives, we join the beauty of the pilgirm's way.

Jeff Smyth, who compiled our place names list and map, left us with a traditional blessing: 

Sun on your face, 
Wind at your back
Health and Safety to you All.