Top O’ the Morning to yah!
It’s been six days since I made my return from a lovely 9 day voyage to Ireland. It was an amazing trip and I still find myself without words to describe the experience. I will attempt to begin by going backwards.
In January of 2008, after a year of cataclysmic personal tragedies which included making the final decision to leave the Catholic Church, I made a 9 day pilgrimage to Glastonbury, England. To say that the Glastonbury trip was life-altering and earth shattering would be an understatement. Through this trip, I was ushered into the shadows which resulted in 9 years of deep soul excavation and shadow work – 9 difficult years of working through all my fears, exhuming all my unhealed wounds, leaving an unhealthy marriage, and retrieving all the lost parts of my soul. To say these 9 years have been a challenge would be an understatement. My body, my mind and my soul are weary.
Ireland is/was the culmination of and bookend to what was begun in 2007/8. When the opportunity for this trip presented itself and with the ease of its unfolding (including the funds to do it), I knew deep soul work was about to be done. Specifically, Ireland represents for me the light that is emerging out of the darkness that was begun in Glastonbury. (btw: England is the Fatherland to me as it is the home of my father’s father. Ireland is the home of my mother’s mother.)
As has been true of Glastonbury, the total impact of Ireland will not be made known for many years I am sure. The work that was and is being done, is being done in secret, in the deepest recesses of my Soul, on levels that are mostly unconscious, and yet, I have gotten a glimpse into some of what Ireland means and what it will mean for me.
At the risk of being a silly American romanticizing my trip to Ireland, it is truly a magical isle. To begin with, people are not kidding about the green. Ireland is a color of green that does not exist in any other place that I am aware of – and being there in March, the green we beheld was but a fraction of how green the isle truly is. Pictures do not do it justice.
I’m not sure if it is the green or something else entirely, but the energy and vibration of Ireland is staggeringly different than any place I have ever been. I don’t know how to quantify the vibration but it felt like the combination of welcome, ease, and wonder. What people say about the “Irish mile” and the “Irish minute” are absolutely true. Nothing, it seems, is done in a hurry. Meals are meant to be taken with ease (ie: you have to ask for your check. In Ireland, it is rude to give it to you before you ask). Travel is circuitous and meandering, and sheep have the right of way. Road signs are optional and mostly absent, so bring your GPS! (Coordinates are more helpful than street addresses, especially where addresses are optional!) There is no room for impatience in a country that is mostly rural and where everything happens in its own time. There is no rushing in Ireland. (Oh yeah….heat, hot and cold running water, consistent water pressure and internet are all optional….so leave your American expectations behind please!).
What is said about the Irish people is absolutely true. They are warm, welcoming, hospitable and accommodating. Irish hospitality really is a thing and we had the opportunity to experience it firsthand, most markedly when we had car trouble in “Littleton” a “town” (made up of a gas station, two pubs, and a “take away” café ) literally in the middle of nowhere. From the lovely ladies out for a walk (in their Adidas track suits – apparently this is a thing!) who directed us to the nearest mechanic, (“go down that way til you see the broken down barn, then turn right, follow that road til you see the three legged sheep, turn left, then down to O’Shannessey’s farm, you know the one with the bull with one horn, then turn left again, you’ll find O”Brien’s shop next to the grotto of Our Lady (crossing themselves while muttering, “bless her holy name”), tell him we sent you), to the mechanic himself (with hands the size of rawhide gloves!), to the café owners where we waited for our vehicle to be repaired, to the gas station attendants who set us on our way.
Then, there is the Irish wonder. Everything in Ireland has a spark of magic to it, and you can’t not be aware of it! It is everywhere. From the landscape to the scenery, to the people, to the place-names (every road sign is in English and Gaelic), to the stories about the places. The entire country seems to have emerged from out of a fairyland that still exists, yet is somewhat hidden behind the veil. It’s not all that hidden, however, for those who have eyes to see. And if you don’t believe me, you need only spend a day at the Giant’s Causeway where the hand of the Creator pushed forth a landscape that exists in only a few other places in this world.
Then there is The Mother. For me, Ireland is literally the Motherland – the home of my mother’s mother’s, mother – the McMahons, O’Connells, Briggs and Inis’. But even more than this, Ireland is the land of The Mother. Her Presence is everywhere. In Ireland, the Goddess never died. Neither the Romans, nor the Church, nor Patrick himself were successful in purging the Emerald Isle of its Mother. The Mother remains in the earth itself, in the landscape, in the megalithic tombs, stone circles and spiral carvings that litter the landscape. The Mother stands proud in the shrines to St. Brigid – the Celtic Goddess made Catholic saint. And the Mother reigns in the shrines to the Blessed Mother Mary who stands in for the Mother who was there before her. This palpable presence of the Mother translates into a completely different attitude toward women, the role of women, respect toward women, and in this, the importance of family and community that seems not to be present in our so-called enlightened and progressive US.
All of these things, welcome, ease and wonder, and most especially, the presence of The Mother have had an impact on me and I am certain will continue to work their way into and through me as the days, months and years unfold. I’m sure I will be back to revel once again in the magic of Home…..for if there is one thing I can say about Ireland is that it very much felt like home. Slainte!