sacred

Rune Activism for Fallen Trees

June, 2018

Rune Activism for Fallen Trees

In Germanic regions, it was believed that mankind was created from tree trunks, echoing the perception that people and trees have much in common.

In Sweden, some trees were considered ‘wardens’ and could guard a home from bad luck. The warden was usually a very old tree growing on the lot near the home. The family living there had such great respect for the tree that they would often adopt a surname related to the name of the tree.

A well-known sacred tree in Norse mythology was Yggdrasil, a giant ash tree that was said to link and shelter the nine worlds that were believed to exist.

https://blog.pachamama.org/people-and-trees-intimately-connected-through-the-ages

Earlier this year I wrote a blog titled Novena for Fallen Trees. This blog follows on from that article.

My (Swedish) surname is Almqvist: it means branch of an Elm tree.

My maiden name is Berendsen : it means son or child of a bear.

A few days ago I walked up the forest track right next to our house. I was looking for large smooth rocks that might volunteer themselves as spiritual boundary markers for our property (I am collecting 24 of them and painting the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark on them).

In horror movies there often is a scene where an unsuspecting person is walking in the forest and feeling completely relaxed, but ominous music starts playing (obviously not heard by this person!) – the viewer grips their seat and fears the worst…

As I saw one particularly suitable rock and started making my way to it I heard a roaring noise and saw a massive machine rolling out of the forest towards me. I took another leap aside but it veered too and continued to come directly at me.

I am all alone in the forest in a pretty remote place. What now?!

The machine stopped. A set of green metallic steps was lowered and a large man climbed out. We were face to face, the Logger and I. He offered me his hand and said: I am Sten – who are you? (The name Sten means Stone!) I stood there cradling one large rock like a baby and said: “I am Imelda, I am collecting large rocks”. He nodded as if a woman holding a big rock as if it is new born baby was a normal event in his life. He then proceeded to tell me that he had not seen a human being for four days. He had been working 14-hour days logging away, all on his own. He was desperate for some conversation and a human face.

This encounter reminded me of coming face to face with a pack of hunters in the same forest, in October last year. This was after waking up to a gunshot outside my window and then finding a dead young deer on the track in front of our house. I set with this deer for a while and spoke some prayers.

The forest that surrounds our house is owned by two large local country estates (essentially two aristocratic families). Everyone who owns forest land must file a plan with the forest authorities (a family friend who owns forest land has explained this to us). Sten is just doing his job. He works for the logging company that was hired to turn mature trees into logs. Those logs might then become buildings (or IKEA furniture).

There exist many myths throughout the world that say human beings are descended from trees, and these are particularly prevalent among Indo-European cultures. In Völuspá the first humans, Askr and Embla, are created from pieces of wood, and in Gylfaginning Askr and Embla are created from driftwood logs found on land by the sea. The three gods credited with their creation include Odin, and either his brothers Vili and Ve or companions Hœnir and Lóðurr (believed by some to be Loki or, by others, Frey). Each god endowed the first man and woman with different attributes.

http://www.thesoulofbones.com/blog/the-world-tree

I had briefly contemplated doing something heroic, like dramatically throwing myself in front of his death-machine. However, Sten doesn’t call the shots, he does not have the power to reverse any decisions. He is only doing his job….

Yesterday evening I decided it was time to check how far the destruction had reached. I brought a candle, red paint and a huge drum with 24 runes painted on it.

Things were even worse than I thought. My youngest son has a favourite hang-out in the forest that he calls Lynx Rock. – Lynx Rock is no more – it has been raised to the ground.

This week I had a dream where I was painting the rune Eoh (Eihwaz in the Anglo-Saxon system) on the tree stumps of fallen trees. Eoh represents the world tree and world pillar or axis mundi. So I used my red paint to do this. I turned one large tree stump into an altar where I had my candle burning while drummed loudly enough to raise the dead. I half expected the loggers (holed up in their caravan) to come running and investigate what was going on – but they stayed away.

I drummed. I chanted. I prayed. I asked the spirit of the world tree for regeneration and healing of this land. I apologised to all the animals, plants and creatures that had just lost their homes.

I took a moment to connect to tribal peoples all over the world who have lost their trees and way of life to loggers and deforestation.

As the world axis, the World Tree runs vertically through the centre of the cosmos and links the heavens, earth and underworld together. Holding the many worlds within its boughs, it is the connecting point between all realms. Its branches (or, in some cases of inverted world trees, the roots) stretch into the realm of the gods while its roots reach into the depths of the world of the dead. It also functions as an anchoring point – a sort of “world nail” or “spike” (Old Norse veraldar nagli) – around which the firmaments revolve. It is sometimes represented by the Pole Star, or North Star, since the skies do appear to revolve around this central, fixed point. As Åke Hultkrantz mentions in a discussion about world trees and pillars in shamanic cultures, the world tree and world pillar/nail were probably two distinct concepts initially which eventually merged together.

http://www.thesoulofbones.com/blog/the-world-tree

When all that was done, I made my way home down the forest track. The daylight was going. I was still extremely upset but I felt better for having performed my vigil and “rune activism”.

In Old Europe there were many ancestor cults involving trees. It was believed that after death the souls of the ancestors took up residence in trees. This is why many forests and groves were so sacred and there were severe penalties and punishments for messing with trees.

What if the Old Europeans were right? What if Heaven does not exist or Heaven turns out to be a forest in this world where our souls take up residence in trees after death so we can continue to watch over the living (and pray that they pay attention to our loving guidance)?! Do we give this ancient belief any thought before we decide to decimate forest land?!!

Today I will take my son to where Lynx Rock used to sit in a forest glade and where he would tune into Forest Magic and Lynx Medicine teachings. You can see him in action here and hear him explain what he is doing here:

I am not looking forward to seeing his face…

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of Northern Tradition shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book Sacred : A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019. She is currently working on her third book: Medicine of the Imagination.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  

(Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86  

(Year of Ceremony)

 

Sacred Place, Sacred Space

June, 2018

Catal Huyuk

(Photo Credit: factsanddetails.com)

For those who love archaeology and the discovery of ancient places, Catal Huyuk holds a special place.

Widely accepted as the largest, oldest Neolithic village or town ever found, it was home to 3,000 – 8,000 people.

Located in southern Anatolia, in Turkey, it was first discovered in 1958. It was not until the archaeologist, James Mellaart, began excavating in 1961, and continuing at least until 1965, that the world began to take notice.

Catal Huyuk was lived in 9,400 to 7,700 years ago and only about 5% has been excavated at this time.

Restoration of a room (Photo Credit: facts and details.com)

The houses were built very close together, in clusters, and normally had 3 rooms. The point of access was through the ceiling, which was also the source of both light and ventilation. Subsequent homes were just built over older ones, making it an archaeological wonder.

There are several larger buildings that could have been used for public events or worship. Colorful murals and figurines suggest that much symbolism was used in their spirituality. These murals are the oldest found on structures built by human hands.

(Photo Credit: michelleheaton.info)

Their dead have been found buried within the village, and found beneath the homes and hearths.

Many tools, i.e., axes and mace heads, etc have been found, as well as grinding tools, and jewelry.

It would appear that the people of Catal Huyuk lived simple lives and there seems to be no indication of gender or caste classifications. Findings also indicate a vegetarian diet consisting of grains and legumes, a diet which many are following again today.

There has been an abundance of female figures found in Catal Huyuk, which James Mellart indicates a female deity, and the worship of a Mother Goddess. While many animal figurines were found and a small number of male figurines, the female far outweigh these. Some of these figurines showed the Goddess flanked by two feline figures, which represent as guardian to powerful places. Similar figurines have been found at different sites around the world, including Malta. There are many archaeologists that deny that these figurines indicate a Goddess worship, or a peaceful civilization; the bulk of these archaeologists are male, but there are also females who refute Mellart’s assertion.

The renowned archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas, advocated for this peaceful civilization and Mother Goddess who has been worshiped from Paleolithic times until the present day. I highly recommend any of Ms. Gimbutas’ books; they are well worth the read.

(Photo Credit: newworldencyclopedia.org)

Recently, in 2016, an 8,000 year old female figurine was discovered in Catal Huyuk, found with a valuable piece of obsidian, which would indicate an honor and a reverence.

(Photo Credit: arestechnica.com)

(Photo Credit: ancient-wisdom.com)

While there will always be those who will deny the existence of these peaceful civilizations, as well as the existence of the Goddess, in the past and in current times, there are enough of those who believe differently and who know that some day, the Goddess will once more make Herself known to all and peace will once more be the way of the world. May this be soon.

(Photo Credit: Pinterest.com)

(Photo Credit: Pinterest.com)

Blessings!

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She 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 Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. 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

My Name is Isis: The Egyptian Goddess

MagickalArts

June, 2018

 

Sleeping With the Goddess: Embracing the Sacred Feminine

I twist and turn as the Fates

Spin the multicolored threads

That are the web of life.

Strength and beauty grace my path

And Mother’s gaze softens

As she looks upon my weaving.

I awaken joyous and bursting

With life and renewed spirit

Youth my ally and wisdom

Just from hand’s reach

Not ready for the taking

I sigh into the pain as

New life issues forth

I am caretaker and guardian

Of this sacred living gift.

I close my eyes and slumber finds me

Her beating heart echoes through me

Arms cradling Her child of making

Welcoming me home into her

Womb of creation.

We, as pagans celebrate the duality and polarity of all manner of things as we perform our workings of magick, make offerings to the Deities and weave the rich tapestry of our magickal and mundane lives. Contained within these polarities are the concepts of the masculine and the feminine that transcend gender and sexual dynamics. These are the outpourings of the solar and the lunar, strength and emotion, force and form. Each dynamic is needed as the informed companion of the other and each must work in collaborative effort to form the whole. They are the mainstay of our paths and the underpinnings of the universal laws we follow as we move forward in our evolution as spiritual beings.

Historically, as we have moved through the ages the shift of focus from that of a matriarchal society to one of masculine dominance has shaped the ways we interact and respond to the energies of the Goddess. Out of necessity for survival, the honoring of the Sacred Feminine was for the most part hidden and cloaked by the stereotypes of what woman should be and what roles they played both spiritually and mundanely. Now, we see a newly developed understanding and reaffirmation of who and what the Goddess is in relation to who and what women (and men) are. We honor the reverence that was held for woman and the life giving properties contained within her womb, her hands and her heart. We celebrate the Divine expressed in the female form and call to the archetypal energy of the Goddess to manifest in our actions and our will. We acknowledge her presence as the flowing and changeable tides of our emotions and our intuitive nature. And, we cower in fear when she wields the blade of the warrior and calls into accountability those who exert their will and ego in unjust actions put upon those who cannot defend themselves.

She holds the mystery of our destiny in her breath of life and the many forms she takes are the foundations upon which we learn, thrive and grow. She is the most intimate of our companions; being ever within and around as our relationship with her endures the test of time, faith and imposed suppression. We need never look far to see the power of her radiant energy and for many the first understanding we have the Goddess is held in the beauty of the Moon.

Lady Moon

We hold dearly and heed the call of the Lady Moon as she moves through her cycle of New, Full and Dark. The phases of the moon and the ebb and flow of her tides are the experiences of return and release that we engage in at each interval of our own cycles of newness, full expression and waning light. It is her hand that we cling to as we begin the descent in the shadows of our being. And, it is her light that illuminates those things within ourselves that need refining and polishing by the gentle flowing waters that mold and sculpt.

We follow her cycle through the night sky and know of the potential held in the newness of Maiden Moon, but do not always fill ourselves with the enthusiasm and joy of that growing energy. The Maiden acknowledges that everything and anything is possible and change is not to be feared, but simply the taking of another road. In the simplicity of re-engaging the wonder of seeing with fresh eyes and new perspectives our workings grow and seek out what will encourage and support their maturation. The Full Moon brings to us the product of what has been nurtured and tenderly crafted. The wonderlust of youth now stabilized and foundations anchored more fully. Ownership and pride in what has been brought forward fills us and we stand in the fullness of her light as creator and that which has been created. The darkness hides her beaming face as the Moon wanes and the yearning to once again see the brilliance of her light growing and guiding the way for productive passage wells up deep inside. We look up at blackened sky and see the future that soon will be as the Goddess as Moon reveals herself in her many and eternal phases.

The Creatrix

We call to the Goddess as the Creatrix and experience the sacred act of union that is her creative outpouring. We raise our voices in joy at the birthing of new life and its manifestation from the dark waters of her womb. Her union is the quickening and enlivening of what makes us most truly human and opens the paths to compassion and the expression of all encompassing love. We seek her as the Divine guardian of what we bring to birth in our lives and ask her intervention when that product is less than viable and seems all but lost to manifest form.

The Quickener

We rise with her to greet the morning’s light shone brightly from her solar consort and retire with her into the labyrinth of our dreams and intuitive sight as we slay the serpent of chaos and illusion. We move through our daily activities ever mindful of our impact on the world around us as the energy of her intent places each foot in front of the other imbued with her grace. It is the radiant Goddess who stands at the prow of the Solar Barque in her aspect as Hathor and acts as catalytic opener to RA. Without her feminine polarity weaving its magick of enlivening and protection the Sun’s daily journey would fall into chaos and the cycle of Dawn to Dusk would be a hollow shell of the power that is held because of her presence.

The Serpent of Wisdom

She is the serpent of wisdom and the revealer of the truths of our existence and divine nature. She is Sophia, the gnostic Goddess of Wisdom who holds the key to the deep gnosis of regeneration and empowerment. The Goddess weaves her circuit of energetic outpouring to be received by that of the strengthened container that is the God. In the Eastern practices of raising Kundalini it is the energetic nature of the feminine (or lunar) and the masculine (or solar) that rises as the twin serpents coil in ascent; opening, informing and enlivening each of the vortices of the chakras. These twin serpents, however, begin their journey as one, the perfect union of the sacred feminine and the masculine each dependent upon the other, yet singular in expression.

Healer and Place of Return

We surrender to the Goddess in request for healing and it is to her dark waters of birth that we return when life’s end has come to claim us. Our prayers are lifted to her Divine awareness and we call out to her to heal and transform all manner of ailment and discord. Her greatest transformative and healing power comes not as we desire, but in the grace of her wisdom as she sees what we truly need. We ask that she take us quietly into her embrace and ease the suffering of those in pain. She stands with us in the darkness of our own inner landscape and breathes her light into those parts of our being that fear the scrutiny of her gaze; opening, removing and cauterizing the wounds.

SHE is All and SHE is Nothing

The paradox of her energy is that She is the essence of everything and She is also the nothing that is the great void of all beginnings and endings. It is her energy that quickens the emptiness of non-existence and her form that becomes the container that receives its potent flow that will ensure that life will issue forth. She is humanity in manifest form and we are She in our true forms as bodies of light and spirit.

These are but some of the gifts of the Goddess and her hand is present in all the workings of our life cycles. And, it is this balancing point of nurture and intuition, strength and form that the mysteries of life and death itself are held. When we call upon the Goddess we are issuing a call to that part of ourselves that is creativity, catalytic exchange and the quickening waters held within her womb of transformation. We are offering up the deep wisdom of our being to be held in the embrace of her light and then to be transformed as the union with her polarity of the masculine takes hold.

Her power is held within all of us, regardless of gender. For, we are born of woman and it is in the throes of that pain that the true nature of sacrifice and purpose are taken up so that the beauty that is the soul of man may be expressed in our life’s work. We stand in her strength, walk in her beauty and sleep in her embrace at every turn of our existence and it is to her that we return as the darkness of death takes hold and breath is issued in its finality.

Cover : Caitlin Fennelly, MFA

www.caitlinfennelly.com,

or on

Facebook as Caitlin Fennelly Studio

article excerpted from my book:

Sleeping with the Goddess: Nights of Devotions

Available here:

www.robinfennelly.com/books

or on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

May, 2018

May 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Here in Central Ohio, the Cailleach continues to rule, reminding Brigid she is still queen for now. Many of my non-Pagan friends are complaining up and down, saying winter needs to go. I say give the Cailleach her time, we will all be whining we are too hot soon enough!

Soon, Beltaine will be upon us. If you have read my past articles, you know I love to plan a gathering for Beltaine. It’s been a year, or has it been two, or has it been three???? Since I have hosted a Beltaine gathering?

I will be honest. Sabbats, for me, just are not that special when I’m alone for them.

It’s all about the fellowship, and doing ritual for me.

 

The folk- the Wicca, or Soul Kin

A simple internet search for “The need for religious kin” turned up nothing. I read a few articles about mankind’s need to have companionship, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals because we feel most understood and validated by them than the people less like us.

I did not find the references to share to support the point I want to make, so I’m just going to make it myself.

Many of us find we feel the presence of whoever we worship best in the presence of other worshipers. A Xtian I once knew referred to it as “sanctification within the community.” As we become the hands, voices, and deeds of our gods, we feel their physical presence through circling with others.

In magical traditions, group magic raises more energy than magic worked alone.

I got so used to doing everything with a group, when I stopped doing so, I felt completely alone. My health and mobility dictated I had to do so, and not only did I stop hosting, or going to other people’s rituals, but I also stopped working. Then I stopped driving. Then, I went some months without leaving the house many days.

If you want to find out which of the friends and friendly acquaintances feel you are important to their lives, drop off the map, and you will find most all of them forget all about you. They easily replace you with other people who are conveniently wherever they are, and you may as well have never met them.

So, for those of us who have fallen off the map from the Pagan community, a Sabbat, which used to be the highlight of our lives, is just another day.

 

Embracing Aloneness

From my Catholic days, I remember something Mother Theresa said :

In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Now, I have already said I experience my gods through others. Examples of that are when somebody is acting as an oracle, and guidance from the goddess comes. Another example is when we are doing a fund raiser together for a good cause. This is the gods using us to help one another. Yet another example is when you need emotional support, and another human being embodies the compassion of the goddess.

Sometimes, we spend so much time working with others, that we have little to no time on our own. This was true for me for many years.

I heard the voices of my gods spoken without human tongues. They visited me in dreams, in waking, in nature, and in the gut instincts I got.

Whenever I asked for communication, they answered. It’s not like I had NEVER spoken with them on my own. It just became habit that I spoke with them in the presence of others.

I spent so many Sabbats and gatherings in the company of others, I began to hear only that particular method of communication from them.

However, I’ve been like this for a while now, and I have made some realizations. My gods have not fallen silent. I just had to listen differently, and I made some realizations about how solitude can bring communication with them.

 

In the Silence of the Heart

I have learned something I never could have before when I was always busy, always surrounded with people, always planning, organizing, working, and always moving.

How to truly be still. How to be truly silent. How to be truly alone.

And how to be comfortable with that.

Most within our circles take time to do the form of meditation where you sit, do nothing, try not to move at all, and try to make your mind blank.

That is not what I am talking about.

Can you be completely alone for many hours or days at a time, go no place, see nobody, and do very little besides the necessary?

Can you endure tedium? Being unnecessary to everybody? No contact from large amounts of people for long periods of days, weeks, or months?

Can you live for a time, basically being as a hermit? Away from the hustle and bustle of life, the influence of society, and the expectations of others?

I am not saying I think everybody should just hole up and do so forever.

Let’s explore first, what a hermit is…

 

The Hermit

We have all seen the Hermit Card in Tarot decks. He turns up quite a lot for us. He represents going into ourselves, to search our souls, or retreating into solitude for a time. Depending on who you speak to, reversed can represent isolation and loneliness, or it can represent coming out of solitude.

Historically, some of the most famous hermits have been very religious. Christians still cloister some of their orders of nuns and priests, away from society. It is believed this withdrawal from society cultivates a closer relationship with the divine by some.

In the middle ages, it was not uncommon for hermits to build huts into the side of the church, and be ceremoniously bricked up permanently. They relied on the charity of people going to church to bring them food and necessities, and they enjoyed a window into the church where they could hear liturgy. These people were called anchorites, and people visited them for advice, as they were believed to have dedicated their lives to communing with their god and the angels full-time, and were considered very wise.

One of the magickal workings to discover one’s True Self, and the Holy Guardian Angel in Thelema entails months of a hermit like existence, and devotion to prayer and magical operations. The solitude allows for removal from distractions and interference of others.

In the quest for enlightenment, the Buddha became an aesthetic, withdrawing to be a hermit for a time.

Monasteries in many different religions have a structured life of prayer, ascribed exercise, a specific diet, a uniform, or habit, and life away from he mainstream society in general. Devotees may be called to take vows of silence, or chastity as well. I refer to this as cloistering, and cloistered life away from society supposedly gets you more in touch with who you are, and what is important.

It’s not for everybody.

My life has been semi cloistered for over three years now, and there are times I wonder how I lived a lifestyle of constant noise and crowds. I have learned a different side of reality.

  1. I realized I did too much- Society pushes us so hard, demanding we do MORE, buy MORE, ARE MORE. We are never enough, and we constantly have to prove we are worthy of simply existing. I found out that is wrong. Our worth as living creatures can certainly be diminished if we are terrible people who do terrible things, but our worth is not proven by our worldly accomplishments, and I discovered that because I just could not accomplish the volume of things I once did anymore. By nature, humanity is quite competitive, but that can become toxic and unconstructive. Sometimes, we struggle to do SO much, the quality of our work suffers. Quality trumps quantity, I found.
  2. What I do does not create who I am- I was told this by a very talented psychic long ago. The things we do change every so often, and often, we suffer identity crisis as the tasks and jobs we complete transition. We are not our jobs or our accomplishments. We are people, not actions, or things.
  3. In stillness comes peace- I had initially misinterpreted it as boredom. The silence was deafening. Now, TOO much noise overwhelms me, be it sound noise, or visual noise.
  4. I leaned to slow down- Not only do I no longer focus on quantity over quality, but I realize speed does not make things any better. Oh, there are going to be times tight deadlines loom, but times when they don’t, slow down, and enjoy the process.
  5. In the quest to do more, faster, we forget one another- We leave behind our loved ones, and neglect the time we should be spending with them. I cannot tell you how many people I have spoken with who get to middle age and beyond, and state they regret NOT spending more time with loved ones than they have. If the focus is on DOING things, instead of moments with loved ones? That is all our life becomes.
  6. I have time for things I said I wanted to do for years- Since leaving the house and working was not on the front burner anymore, I found time to pick up art again. I stepped away from it when I graduated college, and both painting and writing was literally abandoned, as I focused my time on career. I did study music for some years, but I never excelled in music. The written word, and art were my first loves, and I do both again now.
  7. I learned things about myself- I used to be high energy, high accomplishment rate, and never sat still. That did not provide the opportunity for me to pay attention to myself. I discovered I work best with no noise, visual, or otherwise. Before, I was in jobs where I had zero privacy to work, and my productivity drops in that setting. I think most people’s does. I discovered I don’t give myself credit, and people had been urging me to do so for years. I discovered I prefer a small, intimate friend group, rather than moving from group to group. I also discovered I’m not materialistic, which surprised me as much as I love “things.”
  8. I do not miss the loud, busyness- At all.
  9. A lot of people envy me- I have had so many say they wish they “did not have to” leave the house. On one hand, I point out it can be horribly isolating sometimes, and I tell them to be careful what they wish for. I am a very productive, self-starter, and a lot of people NEED a schedule to leave the house, or they just sit and rot. I always find things to stay busy, and a lot of people cannot endure boredom, solitude, or lack of excitement. A lot of people who envy me could not endure this.
  10. I am online more- Lots more. I do communicate with people all day long through social media and texting. I read and research more as well.

I am not saying everybody should cloister, or semi cloister. I am saying, the Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and others are onto something in their assertion solitude can bring you closer to the divine, because it changes the way you think about yourself, the world, and life in general.

Personally, my concentration is better. I focus on the important things now. I read and study more. I have slowed down, which makes it easier for me to notice things. I pay attention to people and experiences more now as opposed to things, and tasks. I do not compare myself to others as much, being as competitive as I used to be.

All of these things create more connection with the self, and it is within us our connection with the divine lives.

Solitude can be used as torture. Prisoners in solitary confinement don’t benefit from it. The sick who are shut-ins or whose impairments keep them from communicating certainly don’t benefit either.

It seems religious hermits live as such only temporarily, or in such a way they are still able to connect with others. Monks have a community away from society, but they do so in groups, and they have each other. The public comes to them for religious guidance as well. I have already mentioned the medieval Xtian hermits whose huts were bricked into the church, and they saw and visited with people often. They just never left. The Buddha was a hermit for a time, but not for very long.

Human beings need one another, for certain, but sometimes, we need time alone, to retreat into ourselves to find the aspect of the divine we cannot experience with other people. This alone time has to be balanced with time with other people, or else it is not good for us.

Each person has their own level of time they need alone, and with others. Too much, and it’s bad, not enough, and it’s just as bad.

For Beltaine Working, I’d like to recommend how to find ways to have more alone time for scared workings.

I know it can be difficult. My friends who are parents and or have careers can attest to this. There have been times in my own life when I worked, sometimes two jobs, that the only time I had to myself was when I fell asleep, or was getting ready to leave for the day, or just getting in! I probably sound like somebody who has no place dictating to busy people how to carve out quiet, alone time!

I don’t assume everybody can find that alone time daily. As I said, I’ve been there! So what I am going to do is offer suggestions for sneaking in a few minutes here and there. This can be time to do ritual, devotions, or just sit quietly for a few minutes on a break from work or classes. It does not have to be large blocks of time set aside, but I will share some ways you can include quiet, alone time in even the busiest schedule for a LITTLE bit of that peace if that is all you can get

 

Saoirse’s Suggestions for Quiet Sacred Time

  1. When everybody else is asleep- Some of my friends who have kids swear this is the only time they get to themselves. That time is often filled with chores, paying bills, and or showering. It also, sometimes eats into their sleep time. Any spare second of time you get when it is crazy busy that NOBODY else is in the room with you can be gold! If all you get a chance to do is light a small candle or stick of incense, so be it, but it is your time.
  2. Short Mantras- Everybody loves time to relax, unwind, and sit in silence to meditate, but not everybody has the time. Even if you have time, there are days when everything is just so crazy and hectic, you simply cannot focus enough to truly meditate. Some people can do so no matter what! But for those who lack the time or ability to focus, short mantras, or sayings that are meaningful can help. One for me is the reminder “I create all that I am , and all that I will be.” Each of us needs little reminders for support all the time, and when we cannot read or meditate to reset our minds, personal sayings can supply some relief.
  3. A Weekly Hour- Is there a day of the week you can get a solid hour with very little deviation? Say you do two classes per week and have an hour and a half between them all. Can you head to a quiet spot during that break, and have your “Quiet Hour”? I have even known some people to utilize the time they commute to and from work as their quiet time with books on tape of sacred readings, or even spiritual music. Go to your car for lunch if the breakroom is busy and noisy. It might not last an hour, but a few quiet moments count.
  4. Lighting the Candles before bed- This is one thing my mother did. We had a low table in the hallway, and on it, she put a white tablecloth, and a single red taper candle. We would kneel before it to say our prayers together at night right before bed. I was small, and she was a single working mom, so I can’t imagine this nightly ritual lasted for more than a few minutes. We prayed, she blew out the candle, and we headed to bed!
  5. Go outside, touch the earth- This is a big one for me. I have always felt best with outdoor time as often as possible. Now that I have a dog, of course, that is multiple times per day! Most especially for those who follow an earth-based path, time touching the earth, or just breathing in the sweet perfumes of her air are crucial to us. Some suggest walking barefoot on the earth spiritually grounds one. I have never found that true for myself, as my feet hurt, but some people swear by it.
  6. Have a pouch, pile, stash, or stack of whatever helps- I used to keep a small bowl of crystals by my desk at a very stressful job. I would hold the crystals to help calm myself. Carry these things in your car, in your bag, wallet, or even on your person as jewelry. I have known some people to have things tattooed onto themselves that serve this purpose.
  7. FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Foods and drinks nourish the body, which has been called the temple of the spirit. If you are not properly hydrated or your nutrients are off, you are going to feel awful. Good tasting things, also, help make you feel happy. Joy is not THE goal for spirituality, but it can help keep you going.
  8. Maintain Self-Care- Do things for yourself. I am not talking about a bite of chocolate or a bubble bath. Do that anyhow. I am talking about respecting your body’s limitations, and not jeopardizing your health. Maybe that means shutting the TV off early and hitting the sack, or being absent from a social gathering because you are just spent. Things like this can give much provided time without stimulation the body and mind needs so we don’t get overwhelmed or exhausted.
  9. Learn to say no- This is very difficult for some of us. Ate your kids screaming to hit ONE more store, and you feel guilty, but your sugars are low, and you have to go in to work early? Tell them no, and they better stop that screaming, too! Does your circle want more of your time than you can offer, and they just can’t find anybody else but you who qualifies to write a newsletter? Well, if nobody can write except you, then they sure can’t read either, can they? So, they sure don’t NEED that newsletter. Cutting down on unnecessary activities people guilt us into provides opportunity for more you time, and thus more time for your personal spirituality.
  10. Turn it off- I discovered in a strange way, that electrical currents do not always promote rest and calm. I slept in a cave with no electric on one night, and I have got to say, it was the most peaceful night of sleep I have ever gotten. It is the only time in my life when complete darkness and silence surrounded me. I was there with three other people, and one of the men was so overwhelmed, he had to leave. It was such a foreign feeling, and not for everybody. Not everybody can have that opportunity, but you can emulate this is small ways. Turn off the radio, and open the window to listen to the birds sing. Put down your cell phone, and watch the sunset.

 

Of course, each of us has our own personal ways of adding some quiet, alone time to our days that goes beyond anything I can suggest.

I wish you a Blessed Beltaine, Blessed “Me Time”, and Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

December, 2017

White Buffalo Woman

(Photo Credit: ancient-origins.net)

The legend of White Buffalo Woman is an old one and centers around the spiritual practices of many Native American tribes of North American. It centers mostly around the Lakota Nations, but She is also central to other Tribes, including the Sioux and the Oglala. It is important to know that the buffalo are sacred, representing abundance and harmony.

White Buffalo Woman, also known as Ptesan-Wi is a strong, powerful woman, bringing to the North American Native Americans some of their most sacred ceremonies.

The myth, as it is told, tells of two warriors sent out from a Lakota camp, looking for food. Appearing before them was a white buffalo, which transformed into a beautiful woman, dressed in white. One of the men found himself overcome with her beauty and wished to possess Her. He ran to her and they were covered with a black cloud. When the cloud dissipated, the remaining man found his fellow warrior was nothing but bones. She turned to the second man, explaining that his friend had bad intent and that she would not hurt him. She told him to go back to the campsite and build a tipi with 24 poles; adding that She would come to them in four days.

In 4 days’ time, She approached the campsite, once again in the form of a white buffalo, whereupon She turned from white to black to yellow and red before appearing again as a beautiful woman. She carried a bundle, along with a fan of sage leaves.

(Photo Credit: white-buffalo-calf-woman-sings.blogspot.com)

She walked four times around the central fire, walking the sacred and endless circle. As She did so, She filled the sacred pipe – the chanunpa – saying that the smoke was Tunkashila’s breath, the living breath of Grandfather Mystery. She sang a pipe-filling song to the Sky and to Grandmother Earth and to the four directions.

She showed them how all things were connected and taught them about the Earth, their Mother and about Her Mysteries and urged them to always honor Her. She told them that they were to be the caretakers of the Land and to follow the Earth path and to walk it as a living prayer.

As She taught them how to pray with words and gestures, She also brought to them the teachings of the Seven Sacred Rituals, which are the following ceremonies:

Purification Ceremony/Sweat Lodge

Naming Ceremony

Healing Ceremony

Making of Family (Adoption) Ceremony

Marriage Ceremony

Vision Quest

Sundance Ceremony (the people’s ceremony for all of the Nations)

White Buffalo Woman stayed with them for four days teaching them all that She would.

She left Her sacred bundle and the White Buffalo Woman Pipe in their care.

 

(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

She told them that one day she would return to bring harmony, peace and balance to the world. She prophesied that one day a white buffalo calf would be born and this would be the sign that She would soon be returning.

As She left, She rolled over four times, once again changing from black, red, yellow and finally to white; it was then that a great herd of buffalo surrounded the camp, that was used as food, clothing and bones for their tools. The Lakota honored the Pipe and the buffalo were plentiful.

It was told that next time there is

chaos and disparity,

she would return again.

She said she would return as

a White Buffalo Calf.

Some believe she already has.

Words of Chief Arvol Looking Horse,

19th Generation Keeper of the

Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

of the Lakota Nation

*******************************

“A white buffalo is the most sacred living thing you could ever encounter.”

John Lame Deer

******************************

A white buffalo was born in Wisconsin in 1994. Some say this was the fulfillment of the prophesy; some not.

With Mother Earth in danger and climate change getting worse on a daily basis, when Tribal lands are ravaged to put in pipelines, when administrations dismiss scientific claims, maybe this is the time for White Buffalo Woman to return and bring balance, peace and harmony to the world, and to help save Mother Earth beneath our feet.

***********************************

“Now, more than any time in history, we need the sacred feminine to balance our lives and to balance our world. We must be spiritual warriorsculling the profound and important aspects of the power of feminine wisdom and directing them toward peace within, as without, and utilizing the energies of the goddess and all mythical women and spiritual heroines to help direct the course of history.

Laurie Sue Brockway

“A Goddess is a Girl’s Best Friend”

(Photo Credit: Youtube.com)

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She 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 She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. 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

For Amazon information, click image below.

Spiralled Edges

October, 2015

Spiralled Edges – Just Be

I recently read a blog article talking about the necessity, and great difficulty, some have in holding sacred space without actively doing something. So much emphasis on our self-worth is placed on doing, on being productive. We downplay and devalue the place and purpose for just being. We use the practice of doing to hide from our selves.

Sometimes the greatest act of love we can provide is to just be and hold Sacred Space for someone without trying to do for them.

Sometimes, we become impatient when growth and change or knowledge doesn’t come as rapidly as we want it to. We mistake times of dormancy for stagnation or even a movement backwards from our hoped for goal. We forget, that sometimes the seeds of change need to lie hidden within, buried within us, just being without doing, growing in strength while the outer world moves on.

There can be power in stillness. This isn’t a time when nothing happens, it isn’t a time of death. It is a time of being without doing.

A few years back, when going through personal difficulties I went to Spirit to ask “What do I need to be doing? What can I do to become well again?” They responded by telling me, “Don’t do, just be.”

Finally, they told me to stop doing shamanic journey work even to go into my Sacred Garden, and to practice being fully physically present in my body. I didn’t realise how much of my life had been spent mentally outside my physical body until I started trying to be more fully aware and more fully present within it. Psychologists would call it disassociating. Shamans might call it journeying. I called it feeling out of sync with myself.

A lot of my work over the past few years has been towards rediscovering what it feels like, both the good and the bad, being fully present inside my own skin.

I by no means make any claim to having fully learned this lesson yet. But, I’m getting better at it and find that I am more aware of when I love outside of my physical body, and more easily able to move back into sync with my physical self. Sometimes, I do fall back into that state of thinking I should be doing… something. If I could just find that one thing that I must do. And Spirit tells me, infinitely patient, “Don’t do, just be”.

Right now, we are moving ever closer to the final harvest in the Wheel of the Year, Samhain. The veil between worlds has thinned and our focus is on the dying God who will soon be journeying to the Underworld.

Then He, and the world itself (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), will naturally move from a state of doing into a state of being. It is a time for inner reflection. It is a time for being, the most sacred and loving practice that we can do for ourselves, and for others around us.

As you sit in this time of being, let yourself just be without trying to hurry back to the Earth’s stirring and awakening. Practice being with a friend who is going through difficulties without trying to do for them, without trying to fix them, without trying to change them. Practice being inside yourself as you go through difficulties without trying to do, without trying to fix, and without trying to change. Allow yourself to just be, with acceptance and understanding.

The time for doing will come round again, in its own time.

Magickal Colors

February, 2010

Burgundy: Color of the Everyday Sacred

Burgandy

The moon turns a deep burgundy when it is near an eclipse, and is truly a sight to behold. This time is unrivaled for opening oneself to the flow of all energy, and scrying for life path decisions.
The wine pours from its holder, shining in the air for a moment like a jewel and beautiful in its glorious impermanence.
It is the color of red earth and drying blood, that I write of, hardening in the elements but no less true to life.
On the Rainbow Path I have walked, and learned the colors and their meanings in turn. Burgundy is the color of impeccability on this path, and I will try to impart to you some of what I have been shown.

Impeccability is the absence of original sin, often confused with infallibility and innocence. Infallibility would mean that one is without error (who?) and innocence implies that one eventually is sullied by mere exposure to the world. Impeccability falls somewhere in between. I like to say I’m im-peck-able, so peck off, all those who would peck me!

impeccability means that one is without sin. Sin is not a concept embraced by most Pagans, as most of us believe that while we may error and do things against our natures (which are, in their purest form, inherently “right”), there is no such thing as “original sin”. This of course does not mean we have no concept of right and wrong. When we are born, we are naked and beautiful, and closest to the forces we call the God and Goddess (as anyone who has looked in the eyes of a newborn can attest). We are naturally pure, and only through learned behaviour do we act in ways that do not reflect this closeness to the natural way of things.
In Christianity, one must be reborn and “washed in the blood” to be pure again. In most Pagan traditions, we have not to be washed in any blood but that of our Mother at birth. Sacred we are born, and may remain.
Rather than original sin, we can see original purity, and not just that of the newborn babe- it is a choice, an inner state that we can cultivate and carry with us throughout our lives.

A burgundy rose means a beauty that is uncontrived, unadorned, and unconscious. This natural beauty seems more to be described by what it is not there than what is. In Tibetan Buddhism, the zhen (everyday robe) is burgundy or maroon– a sign of holiness in the mundane world. In modern times this color is seen as a sign of wealth, success, and vigor. It has commonly been a color preferred by royalty.

The sacred pomegranate, associated with those Earth Goddesses of unaffected beauty for thousands of years, bears this color inside and without its womb.
Persephone, the impeccable daughter of Demeter and embodiment of fertility, ate the pomegranate seeds that sealed her fate, causing her to live below the ground for half of the year and the other half above, creating what is summer and winter for us mortals. The similarities between this story and the Christian’s Garden of Eden do not go unnoticed. Yet there is one very important difference- it is what defines us as Pagans. While Eve ate the apple of knowledge and was tainted, Persephone ate the seeds and was changed– not necessarily for the worst. She saw the darkness for what it was, and found herself seemingly trapped below the earth. Upon her emergence in the spring, however, the denizens of the greening earth found that their Fertility Goddess was also Queen of the Underworld, the sides in perfect harmony and unison with each other.

It is possible that we can be both in the world and in our sacred places at the same time. These worlds do not clash, and the sacred is not separate from the everyday. We can be Divine and mundane at once, by bringing this concept of impeccability with us and acting in accordance with our true natures, the Way of the Earth, all day in everything we do.
It is true that daily life can feel difficult on the best of days. It can be hard to feel like a Goddess with two screaming kids in the backseat of a car during rush hour! (I’ve never understood why they call it rush hour when cars are obviously doing the opposite).  Your higher thoughts perhaps might give you peaceful mantras that may either help or annoy, your instinctive side wants to get out of the car and get primal, and somewhere in the middle the “normal” side of you is twisting around under all this stress and just wants to get home.
It is this middle place that is our everyday mode of being, influenced by our higher and lower selves to varying degrees throughout our lives. It is our clay that we may shape however we choose. Neither higher nor lower self is “wrong”, as they are both necessary to our existence, but allowing ourselves to be controlled by either for too long is like riding a train in the dark. Your whole life just passes you right by while you’re staring out the window.

Burgundy is a representative of this middle state made aware, our higher selves brought down to earth and mingling with our instincts to produce a sort of everyday spirituality, one that is conscious of itself but not self-conscious.
By continuously being mindful of our instincts, thoughts, and emotions, we begin to understand from where they all arise. We find our purest instincts rising up from the earth, and our higher thoughts coming from above like rain. Where these come together we have the ruddy clay of our waking world, for us to mold and shape into whatever we wish it to be.
We remember, now, with our bellies and wombs, listening to hearts pumping blood and feet treading roads, the simple sound of voices carrying, unadorned with meaning: drums all, beating out the rhythm of our sacred Life. We remember the color of the womb, the pure light filtered through all the wonder of our Creatrix.
We need not look further than our own lives to rediscover the wonder and spirituality that is our existence on this earth. Transcendence is for the dead– Life is for the living! It is still known in some circles that the Faeries do not lament the obstacles in their way– they sing to them a song of appreciation, and dance with them until their obstacles dance back, sing to them until they awaken and harmonize.
To know is not to hope, or to believe, but to carry with you the spirit of resolve and acceptance, mingled together like clay and water. If you are rained on, soak it up and revel in the wetness. When thrown in a hot spot, harden and shine. If you are stepped on, become the grape and make sweet wine of yourself. Just don’t sit on the shelf too long, or you’ll turn to vinegar.
Drink deep, for the well of life is sweet, and give thanks to the pressers of grapes.

Burgundy:
Elements: Earth, Fire
Tarot Card: Strength
Astrological Sign: Taurus, Capricorn, sometimes Aries
Planets: Saturn, Venus, Mars
Metal: Iron
Stones: Ruby, Garnet, Lava Rocks, dark Amethysts
Days: Tuesday/Wednesday
Plants: Many succulents (grow well with very little water in arid conditions), Henna, some Orchids, purple Clover, some Lilies, Sarracenia Pitcher Plants, Grapes
Deities: Dionysus, Persephone, Earth God and Goddess

Impeccability, Sacrifice, Presence, Natural, Vigor, Success, Wealth, Royalty, Fertility, Health

Sacred Sites

April, 2009

The Caledonian Forest – Scotland

This month for Sacred Sites I’d like to appeal to those of you who might consider taking a different kind of trip, one certainly not found in any guidebook. What I propose might not be for everyone, and I will warn you, there are no amusement park rides, no sandy beaches, and no wait staff serving you drinks with little umbrellas in them.

This destination is about uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel. It’s called eco-tourism and it might just be one of the best things you could ever do.

Here is a little story for you…

Once upon a time… The ancient Caledonian forest covered the Scottish Highlands. These woodlands were direct descendents of the trees that first colonized the area after the last Ice Age 8-10,000 years ago. However, centuries of destruction from primitive tribes and farmers cleared the land of most of the trees, not to mention the Vikings that burned down large areas of the forest, which now have been reduced to less than 1% of the original area. But there is a happy ending to this story.

The Caledonian Forest is being reforested by volunteers, like yourself.

In 1989 a conservation charity called Trees for Life purchased land in the Highlands as part of an effort to restore Scotland’s Caledonian forests. Their organization has planted more than 750,000 trees and has helped to restore 11,250 acres of land.

National Geographic writer James Owens, states that “For the first time in 2,000 years, Scots pine, alder, birch, hazel, holly, and mountain ash are set to reclaim a large swath of the Scottish Highlands. The effort marks a nationwide move to restore the country’s lost woodland.”

With an ambitious goal of planting 250,000 new trees by the end of 2009, the organization is playing its part in the “Quarter of a Million Trees Appeal”, that supports the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign, which encourages people
to tackle climate change by planting seven billion trees worldwide.

In February 2009 BBC Wildlife Magazine selected the Conservation Volunteer Week Program as one of the Top 10 Conservation Holidays in the world.

The Volunteer Weeks run from February 28th to May 30th 2009, with the autumn season running from August 29th to November 14th 2009.

According to Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Executive Director “Every year, people of all ages and backgrounds from across the UK and beyond see our Conservation Volunteer Weeks as an opportunity to help restore the natural environment. This year we’re running more weeks than ever before, so we’re keen to hear from more people who would like to help.”

“Spending a week among the forest, rivers and mountains of the Highlands often touches people in a profound way. It is also an educational experience, in which volunteers learn about ecological restoration and observe nature close up.”

There are many opportunities out there for the traveler who is willing to stray from the well-worn path. Years ago on one of my first trips to Ireland, I was lucky to encounter a wise man through a completely serendipitous opportunity that was afforded me through the not so seemingly unfortunate occurrence of a flat tire.  In other words, we had a flat and pulled off the road.

The wise man told me that what we were seeking was not to be found on the highways and the main roads, he explained that we needed to take the back roads (which is by the way how we got a flat tire) and meet the land, meet its people and spend the time listening to what both had to tell us.

So for those travelers who consciously wander the world with the goal of meeting other people and trying to leave the world a better place than they found it, I encourage you to take the back roads and listen to the land. There are opportunities out there for you. I recall an offer once made by the steward at Charleville Forest Castle in Tullamore Ireland,….. If you’d like to come stay the summer, there is a room waiting for you, provided you lend a hand and help with the castle restoration. Seems like a decent offer.

So instead of leaving a trail of debris behind us on our next trip, why not give something back?

Individuals and companies can also support Trees for Life by having dedicated trees or groves planted for themselves or as gifts.

Details about the Conservation Volunteer Weeks are available at www.treesforlife.org.uk/tfl.ww.html

Resources:

www.Ecotourism.org

http://www.tflvolunteer.org/

http://www.caithness-business.co.uk/article.php?id=1136

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0207_030207_scotforest.html

Sacred Sites

March, 2009

Hill of Tara – County Meath, Ireland

The Hill of Tara was the Coronation place of Ireland’s kings, and is one of Ireland’s most famous sites. An ancient seat of power, more than 140 kings are said to have reigned there. It was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods, and was the entrance to the Otherworld.

This was where Ireland stood its ground and ruled for hundreds of years, and where today it remains a spiritual center for those in Ireland, with pilgrimages taking place on special Pagan and Christian holidays.

The Hill of Tara known as Teamhair Na Rí, “Hill of the Kings” forms an archaeological complex that runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin. Located near the River Boyne, in County Meath.

Rich in history, its neighboring sites are scattered about the landscape, and on a clear day it is claimed that half the counties of Ireland can be seen from atop Tara. To the west are the hills at Loughcrew, in the distance to the northwest is Newgrange and further to the north is the Hill of Slane.

An aerial view provides a stunning display of just how large a complex this is. With over 30 monuments visible at Tara, there are as many more beneath the surface. Although no buildings survive there are a number of large earthworks still remaining on the hill. The most prominent earthworks within are the two linked enclosures, to the East is Cormacs House and to the West is The Royal Seat.

sacred1


Aerial view of the hill of Tara and surrounding region
Image provided by Mythical Ireland

Tara boasts many points of interest in the form of Hill Forts and Raths (ring forts consisting mainly of a ditch and an earth wall). Some of these are named after prominent figures in Ireland Mythology. Rath Maeve is named after the legendary goddess-queen Maeve or Medbh. Ráith Laoghaire (King Laoghaire’s Fort) is a Ring Fort where it is said that the King was buried in an upright position in order to watch for any invading armies.

Other sites include the stone of Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, and a long rectangular area with banks on either side is known as the Banquet Hall (Teach Miodhchuarta). Some believe that this was used as a ceremonial avenue or cursus monument approaching the site.

Only two monuments have been excavated at Tara, the first is The Rath of the Synods (Rath na Seanadh). The Rath is a very elaborate structure with four concentric banks and ditches and is built around an earlier burial mound known as the King’s Chair. The second monument excavated in the 1950’s is the “Mound of the Hostages”.

The Mound of the Hostages

The Mound of the Hostages (Dumha na nGiall) is a Stone Age passage-tomb, dating to between 2500 B.C. and 3000 B.C. The length of the passage in the tomb is quite short and is subdivided into three compartments each containing evidence of at least 200 individual cremations.

The tomb, which is the oldest monument at the Hill of Tara, is just one part of a large grouping of monuments. The tomb gets its name from the custom of Irish kings taking important people hostage, one of these kings was known as Niall of the Nine Hostages who had taken hostages from all of the provinces of Ireland and from other countries.

sacred2

The Mound of the Hostages, in 2003 a small wooden fence had been built around it.


Lia Fail – The Stone of Destiny

In the center of the Royal Seat stands a stone, which is believed to be the Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny also known as the Coronation Stone. The stone originally stood in the Northern part of the enclosure near the Mound of the Hostages.

According to legend, the stone was brought to Ireland by the mythical race of people known as the Tuatha De Danaan and the legend states that when the true king of Ireland stood on the stone, it would do any of the following:

* The stone was said to sing when the proper king of Ireland was crowned.
* The stone would scream when a series of challenges were met by the King.
* The stone would roar three times if the chosen one were a true King.
* On the inauguration of a worthy High King the stone would roar its approval.
* When the proper King touched the stone, it would let out a screech that could be heard all over Ireland.

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Standing with Lia Fail, the Stone of Destiny, Hill of Tara – County Meath, Ireland

Atlantis and the Lost Ark of the Covenant?

Throughout the years there have been some amazing claims made of the land at the Hill of Tara and about Ireland itself. Early in the 20th century, a group of British Israelites partly destroyed the land while searching for the Ark of the Covenant. They came to Tara convinced that the Ark was buried on the famous hill. They dug the Mound of the Synods, but all they found were Roman coins.

As recently as 2004, a new theory suggests that Tara was the ancient capital of the lost kingdom of Atlantis, and that the mythical land of Atlantis was Ireland.

Visiting the Hill of Tara

Standing on the Hill of Tara, you will notice its undulating hills and valleys on the surface of the land. You will not find towering monuments, or large museums, but you will find an incredible landscape as unique to the area as the people who inhabited it.

Visitors can be dismissive of the site, if they haven’t had the benefit of an aerial view of Tara beforehand. I’ve heard there is an excellent audio-visual presentation in the Visitor Center, which will help you to put this site into perspective so you’ll have a better idea of what you’re viewing.

The Visitor Center is located in a church on the property surrounded by a cemetery. The official opening times are Mid May – Mid September 10:00 to 18:00. These hours are for the Center only but visitors may still enter the Hill of Tara by walking around the wall of the cemetery and out onto the hill.

NOTE: Having only visited Tara in February and November, I have to tell you that it’s never been open when we’ve arrived. Fortunately, we found a short cut onto the hill by closely watching the other local visitors.

If you would like to get into the courtyard of the church and take a walk through the cemetery you may do so by walking to the far end of the parking area and entering through a gate. As you walk up the hill towards the church gates (which will be closed) you will notice there is a narrow break in the stone wall to the right of the gates and you can enter through that opening into the cemetery. Here is a link to a short video that shows this entrance and worn path that leads to a narrow break in the rock wall that borders the cemetery.

http://www.lookaroundireland.com/celticinteractive/tara.htm

You may also enter the Hill of Tara through the cemetery by walking to the far back wall where there is another gate that will lead you out onto the hill. I believe this short cut to the Hill is much easier than walking around the cemetery as you have to take your chances with a potentially rain dampened grassy incline.

For visitors with mobility issues, navigating this Sacred Site can be difficult. The ground is uneven; many areas are hilly due to the landscape itself being comprised of concentric rings. There are no proper paths and visitors will have to negotiate banks and ditches, often in inclement weather. There will also be sheep and with sheep, come sheep droppings. It’s a great day to wear your hiking boots.

Weather can be unpredictable, forget the umbrella and leave it in the car; it will be completely useless on a windy day at Tara. Opt for a hat or earmuffs, the wind can be deafening on the Hill. I’ve often wondered if the ancient people mistook the roaring of the Stone of Destiny, for the roaring of the wind in their ears.

Located off the M3 Motorway. Watch closely for signs, as of the last visit it was not well signposted and there is road construction, which can be confusing to the first time visitor. Here is the equivalent of map quest for Ireland.

http://www.aaireland.ie/routes/

The Hill of Tara was included in the Worlds Monuments Fund’s 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.

Resources:

Hill of Tara Web sites:

http://www.knowth.com/tara.htm

www.answers.com/topic/hill-of-tara

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Tara

www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/tara/

http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/tara/taramap.html

http://www.lookaroundireland.com/celticinteractive/tara.htm

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art5375.asp

Sacred Sites

February, 2009

Knowth, County Meath, Ireland – Passage Portal Tomb

This month we travel to Knowth, a Neolithic passage tomb that is part of the Brú na Bóinne complex in County Meath, Ireland. While Newgrange is by far the most famous of the three Boyne Valley passage-tombs (Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth), it is probably Knowths astonishing quantity of art, which makes it more impressive than Newgrange. Knowth contains one quarter of all known megalithic art in Europe and is by far the most significant find in terms of art, scale and history.

Surrounded by 17-18 satellite mounds, Knowth, also known as the Great Mound, is itself decorated with 127 Kerbstones. Interestingly, some of the Kerbstones have carvings on the backs of the stones, this has become known as hidden art.  Perhaps the decoration facing inward held special meaning to these ancient people or due to the difficulty in finding, hauling and etching the stones it made more sense to re-use them.

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A path that winds between the mounds at Knowth, October 2008

Excavations

A brief excavation of the site was carried out in 1941, but full-scale excavations began on the site in 1962 and were undertaken by Professor George Eogan of the University of Dublin College.  When the excavations began, very little was known about the full extent of the site. The entrances to the western and eastern passages were discovered in 1967 and 1968 respectively and slowly the layers of activity at the site of Knowth were uncovered.

Passages

Dating from about 3000 BC, the portal tomb has two passages one eastern and another western. The western passage is significantly shorter then the eastern and neither connect, but the eastern passage ends in a cruciform shape, much like it’s neighbor Newgrange. Upon entering the great mound and you can see down the eastern passage from inside the tomb. There are three recesses that held basin stones into which the cremated remains of the dead were placed. Both passages are lined with decoratively carved stones known as orthostats.

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Looking down the eastern passage of the Great Mound at Knowth

Visitors to Knowth cannot currently enter either passage due to safety reasons, but can enter a chamber created by archaeologists just south of the eastern passage. Visitors are able to see down the eastern passage, but do not see the interior of the chambers.

Megalithic and ifacts

Many significant artifacts have been found over the 40 years of excavations at Knowth. Found in the right hand recess of the Eastern passage was a giant basin, also known as Dagda’s cauldron, the passage also contained a beautifully engraved mace head carved from flint. In the Western passage a small stone phallus was found (and no, I don’t have a picture of the phallus – sorry). The artifacts are currently on display in the National Museum of Ireland.

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Over 200 decorated stones were found during excavations at Knowth.

Solar or Lunar Alignment

Over the years many theories on the astronomical alignments at Knowth have been investigated. It has been thought to align with the equinoxes, and later it was believed to have a lunar alignment. Its sister site at Newgrange aligns with the sunrise at the Winter Solstice so it seems likely that the passages were intended to align in some way.

Regardless, the alignment at Knowth does not occur today. This is due to the passages either being destroyed by those who settled the land or the passages were incorporated into souterrains (man made tunnels).

The Woodhenge

Just east of the eastern passage is a timber circle or “woodhenge” that was constructed between 2800 and 2500 BC. Using the post-holes that were discovered fairly recently, archaeologists have reconstructed the woodhenge to show what it would have looked like then.

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A reconstruction of the Woodhenge

Evidence of the late Neolithic and Bronze Age is suggested by the presence of grooved ware found near the timber circle, (Woodhenge). Grooved ware is a type of earthen pot that has been found at Henge and burial sites.

Archeological evidence suggests that Woodhenge was used as a ritual or sacred area after the Great Mound had already fallen into disuse. A large number of votive offerings have been found in and around the immediate areas of the timbers that formed the circle.

Visiting Knowth

There is no direct access to the Knowth site, access is by guided tour from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre located close to the village of Donore on the south bank of the river Boyne. Guided Tours of Knowth are from April to October, the last tour is 90 minutes before closing time of the Visitor Centre.

It is highly recommended that you tour both Knowth and Newgrange; the combined tour is about 3 hours, with the tour of Knowth lasting about 45 minutes. There is time at the end (about 15 minutes) where you can wander on your own and if you wish, you can climb to the top of the Great Mound where there are amazing views of the Boyne Valley and surrounding countryside.

In between the tours take the time to visit the permanent exhibitions of artifacts on display. All of the artifacts are replicas; the originals are now in the National Museum of Ireland.

Knowth and the other megalithic sites of the Boyne Valley were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.

Resources:

www.knowth.com

http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/knowth/equinoxwest.html

http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/knowth/index.html

http://www.megalithicireland.com/Knowth.htm

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