Wednesday, May 19, 2010
This photo probably doesn't do it justice. This is the forest on the way to Torc waterfall in Killarney National Park. It's a real twilight moment. The electric green color moss on the tree bark and the vivd green leaves and grass make it trippy. Jerry O'Connell our horse and buggy guide told us to watch out for Leperchauns. Make sure you check out Jerry and his horse Molly Malone.
BALLYVOURNEY to the sacred well dedicated to Et. Gobnait. Many of the sacred wells were originally pagan shrines. The Celts believed the earth's waters were issued form the Underworld Goddess who ruled both birth and death. For them the waters represented her eternal wisdom and her life giving spirit. They believed that the easiest way to gain access to the Other world was through the divine springs and wells. Another feature here is a SHEELA-NA-GIG but more on this later because this is just cool.
I come from a Catholic background. I grew up praying on the rosary. My Nana Gin taught me how to use the rosary. As a child it had a profound effect on me in a positive way that I will always cherish. For as long as I can remember I have been having conversations with God even before I prayed with the rosaries. This gets complicated. And I won't get into my personal evolution of faith BUT for me a person who has always been interested in the study of religion, faith, philosophy and metaphysics among other types of spirituality, learning Ireland's Celtic Catholic faith is illuminating. I will touch more on this later. But to give you an example it's like be a buddhist and Catholic and the same time. Your heart feels both.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This is the view from my bedroom at Cahernane House Hotel. It is lovely, enchanting and dreamlike. Take a walk around the back of house and sit in a wooden chair a few yards from the sheep and meditate on the quietness and fresh clean air. The sheep make it dreamlike. Close your eyes and listen to the them. Your soul will talk back to you.
The reason I'm even in Ireland is because of my great friend, Carol Lee Campbell. Although we had talked about going to Ireland one year ago,
never did we think at the time that we were manifesting this trip together with purpose and meaning.
Carol has created a set of stones, a meditation tool based on Goddess mythology called Crone Stones. She also teaches classes on this subject. And is currently writing a book. This has been her life's work, her study of Goddess Myth. The theme for this trip is titled, "In the Footsteps of Bridget."
Bridget is perhaps one of the most complex and contradictory Goddesses of the Celtic pantheon. Bridget can be seen as the most powerful religious figure in all of Irish history. Many layers of separate traditions have intertwined, making her impact complicated but allowing her to move so effortlessly down through the centuries. She has succeeded in traveling intact through generations, fulling different roles in divergent times. She was, and continues to be known by many names. Referred to as Bride, Bridey, Brighid, Brigit, Briggidda, Brigantia.
But this is not a history lesson on Bridget nor is Carol's work an anthology of knowledge based on Goddess myth. She is not reinventing the wheel for modern times. She is asking us to see the layers and teaches us to bridge the gap between many traditions so we can empower ourselves as women. There is a point to all of this after all
By visiting the lovely town of Kildare we are witness to the amazing energy source that Bridget represents. The Catholics who live here love her and there does not appear to be a disconnect between pagan goddess and patron saint. Even in the church there is open discussion about the goddess named Bridget. While at the healing well, a small park-like quadrant of land which houses one of Bridget's many stone covered well-springs, families visited to let their children run around while mothers filled plastic bottles with the holy waters of the well which they say will be used topically for sick children and injured folk. The seamless line between mundane and sacred is refreshing. There also are subtle hints suggesting that Ireland's history contains an era where women served as leaders in the religious community. As one of the caretakers of the church said, only women were allowed into the area to tend Bridget's flame.
Her evolution from Goddess to saint linked Pagan Celtic and Christian traditions much the same way the cauldron of Cerridwen and the Holy Grail were combined in Arthurian legend. She acts as a bridge between the two worlds and successfully made back the transition back to Goddess again with most of her traditions retained. The worship of Saint Bridget has persisted up until the early 20th century with her Irish cult nearly supplanting that of Mary. She is commemorated in both Ireland and the highlands and islands of Scotland.
Brigit, ever excellent women,
golden sparkling flame,
lead us to the eternal Kingdom,
the dazzling resplendent sun.
Even in her NEW incarnation as a Catholic saint her previous existence is affirmed. The eternal flame at her convent at Kildare suggest its existence as having pagan and/or Druidic. The shrine at Kildare is assumed to be a Christian survival of an ancient college of vestal priestesses who were trained and then scattered throughout the land to tend scared wells, groves, caves and hills. These priestesses were originally committed to thirty years in service but after this period they were free to marry. The site for the monastery at Kildare was chosen for its elevation and also for the ancient oak found there, considered so sacred that no weapon was permitted to be placed near it. The word Kildare, comes from "Cill Dara," the Church of the Oak. The entire area was known as Civitas Brigitae, The City of Brigid."
A dialog between Molly and Carol:
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Simply put: Ireland is magical and truly green. This is my second day at the Cahernane House in Killarney. I love this hotel. Its located off Muckross Rd just a mile from town. As you turn down the gravel road of lined trees way down deep along Killarney National Park is this oasis; CAHERNANE HOUSE HOTEL. The staff is extremly helpful and polite. Hats off to Marion and Barry for making all of us feel so at home. They are so polite and sweet that I not dare share my love of Irish slang words with them. I would never forgive myself if I scared them off...
My view from my room is heavenly. I look onto vast green land with sheep, baby sheep, hens and a big red and black rooster. They (rooster and hens) act more like border collies and corgi's herding us to be their friends and play. It's so elegant and special. Not the slight bit stuffy or pretentious. If your reading this blog check out their website below and see the differnt rooms Im sipping tea in. Its been a full day. I visited the Paps of Enu and a holy sacred well and ended my day with a horse and buggie ride through Muckross. Jerry O'Connell was our guide. As he said good-bye he said "If I can't be with you, then may god be with you" now that's the spirit of the Irish people. Off to the pub. Did I MENTION HOW CREAMY THE GUINESS IS...