Heapstown Cairn

Very much alive

untouched

laying in slumber

 

Energy builds

to be experienced

by those who

do not visit

with the intent to take

but rather

to share

in a moment

 

 

 

The Other Crowd are strong at Heapstown.  They're all around you, luring you into all the little nooks and crannies.  

Time seems to have no meaning.  What feels like just a few moments is actually 30 minutes.  What feels like 30 minutes is over an hour.  What seems like an hour is closer to three.  Everyone seems to have the same reaction.  They feel themselves fading into the Otherworld and go willingly.  There isn't any amount of time that is long enough and when we finally accept that it is indeed time to leave, we do so very slowly, pausing every few steps to take it all in.

I was pulled into a small grove, bathed in green.  I stood there, dumbstruck.  Uncertain what to say, I broke the rules.  

"Thank you."

I regretted it as soon as the words left my lips.  That is the number one thing you NEVER say to the Good Neighbors.  To thank them indicates an acknowledgement of debt and if there is one thing you do not want, it is to be indebted to them.

I searched in vain for something to say, some way to make it right.  I removed a piece of Labradorie from my pocket, placing it on a branch.  The intent was to photograph it in this beautiful setting.  The moss would be a gorgeous backdrop.

It remained there for only a second before tumbling to the ground.  this unintended gift, lost to me forever, but hopefully well-received.  

 

IN ORDER FOR AN OFFERING TO HAVE VALUE,

IT MUST BE A SACRIFICE.

 

What a difference some orange juice and a megalithic site can make

I climbed the stairs to the cairn at Knowth and took in the view.  There it is.  Ireland.  The wind was strong but soft and seemed to wash away whatever was keeping me stuck.  How could anyone stay in a funk when surrounded by all this beauty?

On to Newgrange.  They didn't allow any photos in the passageway itself.  I still was feeling jetlagged and rather out of sorts, so I don't know if my experience would have been different if I felt otherwise.  

We waited our turn outside, taking photos and chatting.  Once it was time, we fell into line and proceeded inside.  It wasn't nearly as large as I thought it would be.  I allowed everyone else to leave and in doing so, had the inner sanctum to myself for a few moments.  It was quite impressive.  I asked a few questions and marveled at the space.  Then, I made my way out through the passageway and back into the open air.

The Hare in the Moon

She sat making notes about where she was heading, when to meet for lunch, and (most importantly) what time she needed to be back.  She didn't want anyone to be waiting on her, much less a bus full of Pilgrims.

As they stepped out into the morning sun, they surveyed the area and headed toward their predetermined destinations.  Some would remain on the bus and head to Yeat's Grave.  She had decided to explore Sligo with the others, taking advantage of a shopping day.

The woodcarver's shop was easy to find and once they stepped inside, they were greeted with a smile and a friendly hello.

Two wooden statues were chosen from the window and he was more than happy to treat the Pilgrims to a retelling of the myths that inspired them.  Taking a piece of paper from his cluttered workspace, he wrote down the story as he spoke, so that they would remember.

"The Girl of Many Gifts" - photo by Sky F       https://skyaisling.wordpress.com/

"The Girl of Many Gifts" - photo by Sky F       https://skyaisling.wordpress.com/

Photo by Sky F      https://skyaisling.wordpress.com/

Photo by Sky F      https://skyaisling.wordpress.com/

An hour had passed and it was time to go.  She wanted to be certain not simply to wave and say thank you over her shoulder as she left, but to look him in the eye.

"I wanted to be sure to tell you that Vyv sent us.  She said to say hello but wasn't sure if she'd be able to drop by today."

"Well then, you'll need something to prove you were here.  What is your favorite animal?"

"A hare.", she replied.

He moved to his saw and cut a small square of wood from a plank.  Turning to the vice, he clamped it in place and began carving, telling another story as he worked.

"It was thought that hares weren't very common here in Ireland.  But the truth is, they are so good at hiding, they are rarely seen."

Photo by Tiffany Lazic, author of "The Great Work".   http://www.hiveandgrove.ca/

Photo by Tiffany Lazic, author of "The Great Work".   http://www.hiveandgrove.ca/

The carving finished, he removed it from the vice and handed it to her.

"Here you go.  Thank you for coming to see me."

It wasn't simply the gift of the carving, but the opportunity to hear him tell the stories and to experience the passion with which he told them.  The heart and soul of Ireland resides in those stories and in the people who are kind enough to share them.

Carrowcrory Cottage Part 1 - the Tree Labyrinth

"Welcome!  Welcome!", he said.  His arms open wide, he gestured toward the cottage.  "Go on up. I'll be right there."

The Pilgrims gathered outside, taking photos and chatting quietly.  Soon, they were taken though and out to the back garden, where the tree labyrinth was waiting.

The Woodland Bard shared stories, looking over his shoulder from time to time in order to show them where these tales took place.  In the distance stood a Hawthorn tree in the middle of a field.

"Even those who don't believe in Faeries wouldn't dare bring harm to a Hawthorn."

The time had come to make their way down the path and to the entrance of the labyrinth.  There, he told them to choose an apple.  They would dip it in the water and coat it with ash, carrying it with them.  When the path led them back to this point, they would wash the apple and continue on.  It was symbolic of transformation.  Leaving all that no longer serves behind and allowing yourself to emerge fresh and ready to move forward.

The labyrinth was beautiful and peaceful.  She went in, open to whatever might happen and emerged serene, with a sense of purpose.

The Faeries are calling.

Sitting in complete darkness is but one aspect of the dance.

Tiny branch

hanging on by a thread

but hanging on

 

Oweynagat Cave

Oweynagat Cave

She sits facing the mouth of the cave, accepting Her challenge.  She is not afraid.  She feels a deep reverence for Her and the work that is ahead.  She can feel Her.  There is no question She is there.  Even if she hadn't felt Her breath, heard Her whisper, she would have known it.  

You will be cold.  Chilled to the bone.  Brought to the cusp of death, sat at the precipice, pushed to the edge.  You will have to make your way back.  Kicking and screaming, if need be.

She remained there long after The Morrigan had taken Her leave.  Until she saw some movement out of the corner of her eye.  A young boy appeared with a small rabbit.  She rose and quietly approached.  

"Would you like to hold it?", he whispered

"Yes.", she whispered back.

She stood holding the rabbit.  It was warm, cozy, and soft.  Quite the contrast to the encounter with Her, only moments before and yet, somehow fitting.  

Thank you for this gift.

With courage, fill my heart

Battle is your art

With courage fill our hearts

Queen Maeve

 

- from the album "Motherland" by Lori Llyn

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lorillyn

 

 Maeve's Mound - photo by Sky F.  https://skyaisling.wordpress.com/

 Maeve's Mound - photo by Sky F.  https://skyaisling.wordpress.com/

She stood on the hill, the mound in the distance.  Here, she was told the legend of Queen Maeve (Madb) and how she ruled Connacht.  Maeve's Sovereignty was not bestowed upon her.  She stood firmly in it, embraced it, lived and breathed it.  

She listened to the tale of the Battle of the Two Bulls and how (when it was over) the Brown Bull of Cooley carried the white bull, Finnbhennach throughout Ireland.  As pieces of Finnbhennach dropped to the ground, place names, landmarks, and monuments were created.  

The mythology and legends are so much more than stories.  They are alive.  You can walk the land and see where the battles took place, where marriages were consummated, where heroes were born and laid to rest.  Is this connection to the past what brings so many here, each on their own Quest to find their own connection?

Heapstown - Airmid's Cairn

The thistle calls out to me

more of a scream than a whisper

you'll never smell a sweeter blossom

you'll never feel a more painful sting

The bus took them down yet another country road, coming to a stop near a little house.  They disembarked and headed down the path toward the Cairn.  It was so unassuming, they all walked past it and had to be called back to the lesser-known path through the grass toward the cluster of trees.

Finally, the last of the wanderers joined the group at the base of the cairn.  She marvelled at how a sacred site could remain so well hidden from casual tourists and revealed only to those who sought it out.  Permission had been given by the farmer to hike through his field and to remain gathered there.  

They were told the story of Airmid, who was part of a family of healers and very knowledgeable in the ways of herbs.

It is said that, after her brother's death, Airmid collected 365 healing herbs, spreading them on her cloak.  In a fit of jealousy, her father pulled her cloak from the ground, scattering the precious herbs to the four corners of the earth.

Through Airmid, we can learn the power of herbal healing.  The Pilgrims were each charged with the task of seeking out an herb, connecting with it, and collecting it for a ritual.  Once done, they placed these herbs upon a cloak spread on the ground.  She reached into her backpack and took out one of the five stones she brought with her and placed it on the cloak as an offering.

They stood in a circle, connecting to the land and to the herbs they'd chosen.  Once complete, they came forward and together they picked the cloak up from the ground, scattering the herbs to the wind, offering them to Airmid.

"The energy of the Fae is strong in this place.", she thought to herself.  Taking the opportunity to explore her surroundings, she headed back to the path.  Once there, she turned away from the direction where they came and soon found herself staring at a tree.  It was wrapped in barbed wire and upon further examination, she realized the tree had simply grown through the fence.  You can't contain nature, nor hold it to your will.  

She heard someone calling.  "Time to go already?", she thought.  Turning, she made her way back down the path toward the bus, taking a bit of time to survey the scenery.  A tree, a flower, always something to catch her eye.  

Once back aboard the bus, the Pilgrims were shocked to learn that almost 4 hours had passed!  It didn't seem possible.  But then again, this is a magical place.