sacred sites

Book Review: Crystals and Sacred Sites by Judy Hall

September, 2017

CRYSTALS AND SACRED SITES

BY JUDY HALL

It was with great pleasure that I received this book for review. I am a great believer in the efficacy of crystals, as well as being a fan of Judy Hall, having two of her other books.

I found this book extremely interesting. After a brief discussion of how landscape affects us – “our minds are shaped by the landscape around us”, and how most sacred sites are built on land which is a combination of “geological, geomagnetic, symbolic, astronomical, mythological and shamanic factors”, she touches upon the choosing, purifying and awakening of your crystals.

The bulk of the book revolves around sacred sites the world over and how we can connect with them, even without making the physical journey. As Ms. Hall states, there are “interconnections between landscape, geology, crystals and power”, and that the Earth as sacred energies. The crystals used are those that resonate with specific sites, as opposed to crystals found at the sites.

Each sacred site within the book connects with a crystal, and also an alternative crystal. Legends, myths and stories are shared about each one, as well as what one can expect from each of them, i.e. peace, comfort, spiritual awakening. Each site also has a corresponding ritual/ceremony/meditation.

The photos within the book are breathtaking and can easily be used, in my opinion, for a meditation upon that site, although Ms. Hall recommends using Google maps or Websites to become more comfortable with the site itself.

I believe that everyone will find at least one site that calls out to them; for myself, I am drawn to the Sekhmet Sanctuary at the Karnak Temple, and most especially to Glastonbury, which Ms. Hall describes as “the heart chakra of the world”. I know that I look forward into exploring this more fully in the future.

With that being said, even if you have no interest in the sacredness and connection of the sites themselves, and are only interested in the crystal information, there is a wealth of that here, as well.

)O(

***

About the Author:

 

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, WriterTeacher, Healer, and YoginiShe is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through Imagine A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

Tree of Life

June, 2014

Sacred Sites

Warm, drier weather means the summer months are a great time to get out and visit sacred sites in your local area. Or perhaps your holiday trips will give you the chance to visit some further afield. Either way, now is a good time to do some research and plan some trips over the next few months.

Do you have a favourite place to visit in your local area? You may be lucky enough to live near one of the better known sacred sites such as Stonehenge or Tara, the Parthenon in Athens, or the Goddess Temples in Malta. The advantage of this is that you can probably visit at different times of day and different times of year, experiencing the atmosphere at dawn or midday or midnight, in sun and rain and mist. The downside is that quite often we take the things on our doorstep for granted, or keep thinking that ‘a visit is not really convenient this week, but I can go another time…’, and then not ever actually get around to making that visit. Somehow when you know you’re only going to be in the vicinity of something for a short time, it concentrates the mind and you make sure you get there no matter what! The other downside of living near somewhere really well known is that it is likely to be bustling with visitors a lot of the time. Sometimes this can add to the atmosphere, but often what you really want is some quiet, meditative time to immerse yourself in the place. Crowds of tourists are not conducive to this process! A lesser known site is often much quieter and easier to connect with.

Perhaps your local sacred site is sacred only to you, or a small number of people. An atmospheric grove in the forest, a quiet beach, a windy hilltop, a special rock in the meadow where you can sit and listen to birdsong. A place can touch your soul for many different reasons. By visiting your special place over and over again, you make a real connection to it and form a relationship with its spirit.

Sometimes you find a sense of the sacred where you don’t expect it. When I visited La Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, not being a Christian I expected to find the architecture interesting but I had no expectation of being spiritually moved by the place. Boy was I wrong! The sense of spirit I encountered there moved me to tears. All the more surprising since the place is such a massive project it is still incomplete, despite being started in 1882. This is a reminder that it’s probably a good idea to retain an open mind about what is and is not ‘sacred’. You may find a famous sacred site leaves you unmoved and disappointed, and yet somewhere you had no preconceptions about simply takes your breath away. We are all different and we will all react to and connect with different places in our own way.

When visiting a sacred site it is best to approach the place with respect, with an openness and willingness to see what the site has to say or show to you. You may sense the presence of a genius loci, or ancestral spirits, or some kind of guardian. You may feel nothing, you may have a life-changing moment of connection, or you may experience something completely different to whatever you expected. Be respectful. Don’t barge in, don’t force your preconceptions on the place, ask permission of the site before doing anything. And it goes without saying that you should not do any damage or leave any rubbish behind. As the old saying goes, leave only footprints, take only memories (or photos!). It may be OK to leave a small, biodegradable token (such as a flower or feather), but please don’t leave things like crystals or candles where they don’t belong, however well-intentioned your gift. I once visited West Kennet long barrow near Avebury, only to find the inside full of burning tea-light candles. The flickering candlelight looked magical and I was enchanted until I realised that the candles were leaving sooty deposits on the walls of the long barrow and the heat of them was in danger of cracking the ancient stones. I have no doubt that whoever had left them there had done so reverently and with the best of intentions. But it was an ill thought out gesture that actually threatened to damage the very place this person or persons had sought to honour.

Finally, you may choose to create your very own sacred site wherever you live. This could be as simple as an altar in a corner of your bedroom or a shrine or even something as elaborate as a stone circle in your garden. As with so much in magic, it is the intention that is important. However simple or fancy your site, it is by respecting it, honouring it, and building a relationship with it over time that it becomes ‘sacred’. This means effort is needed, but it is effort well-spent. Over time the connection you will make with the spirit of your sacred site will grow and grow, and you won’t have to spend a fortune travelling to Glastonbury or Chartres or Uluru to encounter the sacred (although you can still do that too!). It will be right there in your very own place.

Sacred Sites

May, 2009

Beltane in Ireland

For this issue of Sacred Sites we begin by wishing you a Happy Beltane! This month we are in Ireland with a group of travelers exploring sacred sites. We hope you’ll journey with us in spirit as we make our way across the mystical emerald isle.

This will be an interesting opportunity to experience the difference in celebratory styles, not only culturally speaking, but from within the Irish community itself. We will meet a transplanted American living in County Kerry, a solitary Witch, in the heart of Ireland and a member of Teampall Na Callaighe that lives in Kells.

In the upcoming issues of Pagan Pages we will share with you the details of our Pagan pilgrimage, along with interviews from local Pagans, photos of the rituals and ceremonies we attend, as well as insights from the travelers themselves.

Journey with us as we travel across Ireland to celebrate the Celtic Festival of Beltane. Here are a few of the ancient sites and windswept landscapes we will be visiting.

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare – (Irish – Aillte an Mhothair, lit. cliffs of the ruin) an impressive wall of rock rises to a height of almost 700 feet above the churning Atlantic Ocean. The view from Hags Head overlooks the sea, standing to greet the fierce wind.

Special Note: For any movie fans out there – The Cliffs of Moher were filmed as the “Cliffs of Insanity” in the 1987 movie, The Princess Bride.

The Burren National Park, County Clare – The word Burren derives its name from Boireann, which means ‘rocky land’ in Gaelic. This region of limestone hills contains a wealth of rare flowers and prehistoric stone monuments. The Burren is a unique botanical environment in which Mediterranean and alpine plants rare to Ireland grow side by side. Its geology, flora, fauna, caves, archaeology, and history set it apart as a place of great mystery and beauty.

The 100 square mile area boasts rivers, castles, lakes, towering cliffs, lush green valleys, barren rock mountains, and constant relics of ancient civilization; round towers, stone arches, dolmens, ancient churches and high crosses.

Within the Burren exists the Poulnabrone Dolman, one of the most dramatic stone grave markers, said to be about 4000 years ago. Like a piece of sculpture, it is one of the most photographed in the world.

Special Note: Our intrepid group of travelers will attempt to locate the Poulnabrone Dolmen. Admittedly, it has eluded this traveler in previous attempts. Apparently obvious to many a tour bus driver, this American has not yet learned the secret handshake and special password that is required to locate this structure. Well hidden from the road, it seriously needs some sort of marker, of course that would ruin the beauty of the Dolmen – sigh of angst.

Druids Stone Circle, Kenmare, County Kerry – An ancient ring of stones said to be a druidic site just outside Kenmare.

Torc Waterfall, County Kerry – Just one of many in the Killarney area and is known as the most famous. The roar of the falls can be heard as you approach, the source of the water comes from a place called the “Devil’s Punch Bowl” and falls 70 feet onto the huge boulders below.

sacred1

Torc Waterfall – County Kerry

Ogham Stones – A set of eight stones situated near the side of a road near Beaufort Village. Ogham stones are usually gravestones and bear the name of the deceased and often details of his descent.

Charleville Forest Castle, County Offaly, Tullamore – Surrounded by a 700-year old Oak forest (the oldest in Ireland), stands Charleville Castle, known for generations as one of the world’s most haunted castles.

Legend states that Charleville was built on the site of an ancient druid burial ground and it is said that Druids conducted ceremonies here. There is a grotto on the property that we’ve yet to see, hopefully some fairy rings – keeping our fingers crossed.

sacred2


500-year-old Oak Tree at Charleville Forest Castle

We have been invited to celebrate Beltaine at Charleville with a Maypole Dance, Ceremony, and the lighting of the Bale-fire with our host Mary Alagna.

Brigids Well Kildare – (Cill Dara in modern Irish originally derived from Cell Dara in Old Irish, meaning “Church of the Oak”) One of the many wells named after the Goddess Brigid also known as Saint Bridget. I’m told that at this location there are two Wells, one just off of the car park that is a Pagan site and one farther away that is a Christianized site.

Loughcrew Cairns & The Hill of the Witch (Irish – Sliabh na Cailligh) Onto the Boyne Valley in County Meath, as we step back in time to visit the passage graves of Loughcrew. We join our local guide Gemma McGowan as she takes us on a tour of Loughcrew as well as other historical sites where they celebrate the Ancient Celtic Festivals of Lughnassa and Samhain. Gemma is an Irish member of Teampall Na Callaighe.

Monasterboice – An interesting monastic site near Drogheda in County Meath. The impressive ruins include a large cemetery, two churches, one of the tallest round towers in Ireland and two of the tallest and best high crosses.

Looking forward to reporting back to you in June.

Sacred Sites

January, 2009

Sacred Sites – Brigid’s Well – Liscannor, Ireland

Symbolically, water is seen as a portal to the Otherworld and as a source of wisdom and healing. So, it’s not surprising that Ireland is home to nearly three thousand holy wells. Of these, at least fifteen (many undocumented) are dedicated to the Goddess Brigid. Known by many names of various spellings, she is the daughter of Dagda the great ‘father-god’ of Ireland and many believe she is one and the same with Danu, the first great mother of Ireland.

Located in Liscannor on the western coast of County Clare, Brigid’s Well is one of the many stops on a pilgrimage path that winds its way through Ireland. The Well is about an hours drive from the Shannon airport along the road to Doolin, just a few miles before you reach The Cliffs of Moher.

sacred1

Brigid the Celtic Goddess of fire (the forge and the hearth), poetry, healing, childbirth, and unity is celebrated in many European countries and is perhaps one of the most powerful religious figures in Irish history.

Appearing small at first this location is deceiving.  There are many different places to visit within it so allow enough time to explore the Well, the cemetery, and O’Brien’s’ monument just across the road.


sacred2

St Brigit, as she is also known, looks out over the countryside, an idyllic spot to watch the beauty of the rolling hills.

Just behind the statue of Brigid, a small archway leads to a grotto filled with some of the most garish offerings I have ever seen. I myself am guilty of leaving offerings behind, last April I left a small winged plastic dove hanging on a hook in an alcove as a remembrance to a friend that passed.  Although the friend had given me the dove and it made sense for me to leave it, I had to wonder what the stories were behind the items that other people had left.

From baseball hats to beads, moldy picture frames and even a tribute to a 911 firefighter, it seems that everyone had someone to remember or something to honor. I’m told that occasionally the caretakers have to clean out some of the items, and despite the amount of items crammed in this space, the area is very peaceful. You can easily find yourself in quiet contemplation while you look at all of the offerings.

At the end of the grotto is a small well where many people have left coins. There is a saying that Brigid rewards any offering to her, so offerings of coins were often tossed into her wells…the forerunner of the modern custom of throwing a penny into a fountain while you make a wish.

Alongside the outer wall of the grotto, a short flight of stone stairs will lead you to the top of the hill where there is a cemetery that overlooks the well. From there you can see O’Brien’s monument, erected by Cornelius O’Brien in 1853 as a tribute to himself but reluctantly paid for by locals.

sacred3

We took time for a walk around the site and added our offerings to the growing pile of debris that already claims the grotto in which the shrine exists.

sacred4

Looking down into the well from the walkway above that leads to the cemetery.

sacred5

Cemetery located up the hill from Brigids Well

sacred6

Across from the cemetery is O’Brien’s monument, erected by Cornelius O’Brien in 1853.

The Conversion of Brigid to Christianity


One cannot help but notice the decidedly Christian feel of the statue depicted as Brigid and the obvious story of the conversion that Pagan Gods and Goddesses underwent as Christianity converted them to saints.
A popular folktale is that she was midwife to the Virgin Mary, and invoked by women in labor. Another story was that she was a Druid’s daughter who predicted the coming of Christianity, was baptized by St. Patrick, who then became a nun and later an abbess who founded the Abbey at Kildare.
Unable to eradicate the Pagan Goddess Brigid, the Catholic Church made her a saint. In the fifth century Brigid was canonized by the Catholic Church and became associated with the Christian saint, named St Brigit and so, St Brigit became the patron saint of Ireland.

Even today many Irish homes have St. Brigit’s crosses, they are made from rushes as in the old days and are thought to offer protection for the home.
Visiting Brigid’s Well
As you leave Shannon airport, head toward the Western coast of County Clare, the Well is located in the town of Liscannor. Signposted Liscannor, Clare – Lios Ceannuir, An Clár, it derives its name from ‘Lios Ceannuir’ meaning O’Connor’s Fort. Take the road to Doolin, and it’s just a few miles before you reach The Cliffs of Moher.
Other places to visit while in County Clare are the Poulnabrone Dolmen located near the area known as The Burren, where the combinations of flora and fauna are not found anywhere else in the world. Aillwee Cave where they have an amazing Bird of Prey exhibit and show and The Cliffs of Moher where County Clare meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The town of Doolin is the traditional music capital of Ireland and “Trad” music can be heard almost every night.  Doolin is a lovely base for touring County Clare. A stay at the Doolin Lodge or the Aran View Hotel (in season) is recommend.
Another, even larger well dedicated to Brigid exists in Kildare. Due to directions and timing this past trip, we were unable to make it to the Kildare site. But we will try again on our next trip this coming April and will be certain to share the stories and pictures with you as soon as possible.

Reference:

The Book of Goddesses and Heroines – Patricia Monaghan
Celtic Myth and Magick – Edain McCoy

http://www.discoverireland.ie